I’ve had no internet connection for the last two days, hence my silence. I promise it is not part of some plot organized by Putin. It seems from the comments list that people are making up for the slack. So continue to talk amongst yourselves. I’m also going to Ryazan this weekend so I hope things will be back to normal on Monday. Gotta go my battery is running out. You know, if Russian coffee shops want to offer Wi-Fi they should at least have plugs so you can plug in your computer.
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By Sean — 12 years ago
—Who will, if anyone, replace Putin after 2008? This is the question that has been on almost everyone’s lips for weeks, if not months. Opinions have vacillate between speculations about Putin changing the Russian Constitution so he could run again, or a candidate hand will be picked by Putin to run for President. That person would be an instant favorite. Both scenarios are possible. But it seems that the latter is the most likely. Putin himself was hand picked by Yeltsin. It appears that he is going to continue the tradition.
The question then becomes who? And further what kind of person will it be? The Moscow Times has an article suggesting that whoever Putin picks, it will probably be a compromise between him and the siloviki and an unnamed progressive St. Petersburg group. The siloviki are a Kremlin call of St. Petersburg intelligence officials who are the base of Putin’s power. In terms of what type of figure that will be, a report by Renaissance Capital (the report is only available to RC clients) suggests the following:
“If the siloviki are able to nominate a candidate, then the next president is likely to push to extend state control outside of the strategic sectors of the economy and into the most dynamic sectors of the Russian economy, undermining economic recovery.”
Perhaps so, but I am not convinced that increased state control will undermine economic recovery. If anything’s for sure, the lack of state control over Russia’s energy and natural resources has only lead to plunder, theft, and corruption. This is not to say that this wouldn’t happen under state control, but at least the state can direct the country’s resources in a direction that benefits the overall the interests of the country. The history of state deregulation, especially in conjunction with structural adjustment, has only led to further problems. Just look at Argentina.
The Russian government’s primary concern according to the Moscow Times is to facilitate a smooth and peaceful transfer of power. The 2008 election should not be viewed without Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan in mind. The so-called “colored revolutions” have cast a dark cloud over Russian domestic politics and there is fear that “revolution” in Russia might be next.
As for Putin himself, some are claiming that he will stay in politics perhaps as the head of United Russia or run one of Russia’s energy outfits. Only time will tell.
Komsomolskaia Pravda also ponders life after Putin but from a different perspective. The concern for the Norka Analytical Group is not who, but what will happen after Putin. Their focus is also on the question of state de/regulation. The article states:
“In the course of their economic transformations, Russia and China have dispelled the myth that private property is superior to state property. As practice shows, industrial efficiency doesn’t depend on the form of property ownership – it depends on the efficiency of the management system, which is not determined by the form of property ownership. Without going into a detailed analysis of the efficiency of China’s state economy and the inefficiency of Russia’s private sector, a number of conclusions may be drawn, the most important of which is this: the private sector in Russia is incapable of ensuring national economic development. The Russian-style capitalist will never build new enterprises that take five to seven years to provide a return on investment. He might invest in a football club, a casino, or a hotel, but he’ll never invest in innovation projects that are a method of industrial development.
The only source of funding for this development, inherited by modern Russia from the USSR, is undoubtedly the natural resources sector – which Yeltsin’s reformers hastened to transfer into private ownership. At present, even though most of the profits from energy resources are going to a group of individuals, the state is receiving substantial sums in the form of taxes and tariffs. But the economic bloc of the federal government, as represented by the so-called liberal ministers, is denying the need to develop the state sector of the real economy and doesn’t know how to use this money in private enterprise.” [Translation: Tatiana Khramtsova]
Putin’s achievement, according the Kom Prav, is that he’s put a stop to the liquidation of Russia’s state industries that began with Gorbachev and accelerated under Yeltsin.
—The Economist sets its sights on the ubiquitous problem of corruption in Russia. According to a report by Indem, “since 2001, in the number and size of bribes given by young men and their families to avoid conscription and, relatedly, in those paid to get into universities. (Fixing a court case, Indem found, has got a bit cheaper.)” Russia’s corruption index, as calculated by Transparency International, ranks Russia next to Niger, Sierra Leone and Albania.
As the Economist is quick to point out: Corruption in Russia is not simply about paying bribes to lower officials and police, it kills. The corruption of local officials has aided the blowing up to two planes and the Beslan and Nalchik attacks. Corruption makes Russia’s fight against terrorism that much more difficult.
—Mosnews is reporting that Kyrgystan’s Prime Minister, Felix Kulov is offering to resign after the in response to protests and a possible parliamentary inquiry into his involvement in the killing of deputy Tynychbek Akmatbayev. Akmatbayev was killed in a convict’s riot on Thursday in a Kyrgyz penal colony. According to witnesses,
“The clash in the prison colony No.31 in the village of Moldovanovka, it was Akmatbayev and one of his aides who first opened fire. One of the convicts, Aziz Batukayev, who is considered to be the ring leader among the convicts, ordered the killing of the MP. It was reported that he had hostile relations with the MP’s brother, Ryspek Akmatbayev, a well-known criminal. According to sources from the penitentiary, “the riots started after convicts demanded that their living conditions be improved”.
Protesters in Bishkek are claiming that Kulov is connected to the murder.
—Another outbreak of bird flu is being reported in Chelyabinsk region, in Russia’s South Urals. So far 33 birds from two different farms have died. According to an unnamed Russian agricultural ministry official,
“The risk of the lethal strain of avian flu rearing its head in Moscow or its surrounding area was “minimal”, despite an outbreak in Tula, 300 kilometres (188 miles) south of the capital. Veterinary services said Friday they suspected that the bird flu virus had now spread to 24 areas, of which 20 were in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia, three in the Kurgan region of Siberia and one in the southern region of Stavropol, though tests were still ongoing.”
The Moscow Oblast administration has decided to destroy all wild birds near poultry procession facilities to prevent the spread of bird flu into the area. Russia Profile claims that this aggressive stance in is reaction to the EU upholding its ban on Russian poultry exports.
—Kommersant is reporting that Russia’s Deputy General Procurator Nikolai Shepel’ is claiming that preliminary investigations show the Nalchik attacks were carried out by an underground international terrorist organization, and that there are strong connections between the Nalchik attacks and similar acts in Ingushetia and Beslan. He told Kommersant, “a serious organization resists us with an ideology that is a dangerous to the state.” He also claims that while the majority of militants in Nalchik were Kabardins, “persons of Chechen and Ingush nationality” were also present. Found among several of the “bandits” were written letters testifying that they were dying for “glory of God and belief.” Thus continues the effort by the Russian government to connect their regional conflict to the global war on terrorism.
For a more comprehensive discussion on Nalchik and its significance, I recommend Russia Profile’s very interesting weekly roundtable.Post Views: 153
By Sean — 11 years ago
The political culture of blogging is almost as interesting as the blogs themselves. All one has to do to get a glimpse of this is to glance at a blog’s comments section. There the reader will be exposed to a rhetorical world of augmentative maneuvers that range from the thoughtful to the mundane; from the engaging to the slanderous. There is something about internet discourse that is far less restricted than face to face discussions. The internet provides a measure of anonymity that seems to grease the tongue. Denunciations and insults are common. Charges of ignorance and idiocy abound. Most people wouldn’t say half the things they do online if a real person was standing in front of them. For some this makes the internet a bastion of free speech; for others a cesspool of incivility that undercuts any notion of democratic political discourse.
The world of English language Russoblogosphere is no different. With political lines so firmly etched in the sand, Russia bloggers and their adherents have no problem launching into verbal diatribes against each other. It’s a fractured community where a verbal slip could be returned with a rhetorical slice to the jugular. Positions are often so polarized that one can often simply change a few words and the opposite opinion will be illuminated. Retrieving kernels of truth, knowledge, and insight often takes the steady hand of a sculptor of marble.
But, and rather unfortunately, as Heribert Schindler, who blogs at Российская Федерация, argues in his post “Whack the Blogs,” blogs can be more than mere rhetorics. There is a whole panoply of strategies, phrases, and techniques that go into public relations, lobbying, and the manipulation of public opinion. He contends that blogs on Russia are also no strangers to these methods. In fact, this is exactly what inspired Schindler to explore this issue:
My entry “Whack the Blogs” is admittedly inspired by a most rabid and fascinating phenomenon of blogosphere, by a persuasively US based group of spin doctors who vehemently try to convince me of them being one single hateful female and not some public relation agency or NGO.
“Whack the Blogs” intends to address the fascinating world of public relations, of lobbying and the manipulation of public opinion by discussing techniques and methods, not real life individuals or groups of people.
Of course, all characters and blogs appearing in this work are purely fictitious and I am certainly not intending to make a pun in the general direction of a living individual or any successful blog. Therefore any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is (of course) purely coincidental.
I recommend reading the whole thing. As I told him in his comments’ section, I encourage him to keep whacking away.Post Views: 179
By Sean — 11 years ago
The “March of Dissent” continues to generate opinion and discussion. I especially liked Julian Evans’ description of how the Other Russia and Nashi rallies provide an interesting contrast as well as serve as symbolic testaments to the state of Russian youth politics. Here is an excerpt:
Two rallies in Moscow weekend – one by the new opposition movement called The Other Russia, the other by the Kremlin-funded Nashi youth group – provided a stark contrast.
I was walking up Tverskaya, through
Pushkin Square, when the police started. A long, long row of Ministry of Interior (MVD) police, the foot-soldiers of the Russian state, which seemingly has an infinite number of them to dispose of at any given time. They were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a green line stretching 600 metres to Mayakovskaya, where an opposition rally was taking place.
I walked along, feeling smaller and smaller as more and more police appeared. Next came the OMON riot police, in their white and grey camouflage, and their big, black boots, standing around in fours or fives, feeling elite compared to the MVD grunts, talking into headpieces or comparing truncheon techniques.
And all along the street were parked state vehicles – not just riot vans and meat wagons, but also fire engines, even bulldozers and street-cleaning machines – everything the city authorities could lay their hands on, for the purpose of controlling the deadly threat.
The deadly threat turns out to be about 1,500 protestors, mainly quite young or quite old, milling around
Triumph Squarein front of the statue of the Bolshevik poet Mayakovsky. This is the first public rally of the ‘Other Russia’ movement, a motley and controversial union of liberal forces, led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov, and various radical nationalist groups, whose best-known leader is Eduard Limonov, geriatric punk novelist and leader of a youth movement called the National Bolsheviks, or Natbols.
The square is small, and looks about three quarters full. On one side are the black and red flags of the Natbols and the Red Youth Vanguard (AKD), whose symbols are a hand grenade and a Kalashnikov, respectively. The AKD look like proper thugs, the Natbols look like half thugs and half white-collar boho misfits. This is how Limonov described a typical Natbol, in his Mein Kampf-esque manifesto (called, by the way, The Other Russia): “a strange, unorganized person living on society’s margin, a talented pervert, fanatic, psychopath, unlucky fellow.”
I see Aleksander Averin, the Natbols’ press secretary, among the group. I interviewed him a couple of months ago, in his boho flat in the north of
. He is a pale, sickly looking boy of 23, with long, Byronic hair and a twitching, nervous face. He sat at his desk talking to me, in front of a pick-axe hanging on his wall, under a sign saying ‘God is with us!’. His young wife is in prison for storming the health ministry in 2004, and throwing a portrait of Putin out of a window. She was 22, a university student, but desecrating a portrait of Putin was deemed sufficiently grave to merit a three-year sentence. Moscow
I see his wife’s paintings all over the flat – one of a sea of flames, another in a Futurist style of her looking beautiful and heroic in a Natbol red armband, against a brooding city landscape. And then I see a photo of her, standing on a small shrine next to a pair of handcuffs, and she looks plain, a little geeky, the kind of girl you wouldn’t notice at school. A marginal person. I asked Aleksander why he, a lapsed engineering student, and his young wife were willing to risk beatings, torture, prison and possibly death for the Natbol movement. “We are like Limonov”, he said, face twitching. “We are Romantics. We want to lead remarkable lives.”
The young Natbols, of whom there are perhaps 30,000 across
, fervently admire Limonov, who in turn seems to narcissistically adore their immolations. An undeniably trendy figure in Russia , he represents an unfortunate nexus between avant-garde punk and Fascism. I once asked him why his movement went in for all the quasi-Nazi symbols – the red flags and arm-bands. He shrugged and giggled: “The kids like it.” RussiaTags: Nashi|National Bolsheviks|Other Russia|Julian Evans|Russia|Russian politics|nationalism|youth politics|PutinPost Views: 46