Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman devoted a segment of her Monday show to Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. You can listen to it here. The segment includes a discussion with Nation Magazine editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Richard Behar, former investigative journalist for Forbes Magazine and current director of Project Khlebnikov. Project Khlebnikov is dedicated to finding the murderer of Forbes Russia editor Paul Khlebnikov, who was murdered on July 9, 2004. His murder has yet to be solved.
In the discussion Vanden Heuvel and Behar address Politkovskaya’s work, reasons for her murder, the status of the press in Russia, and how the murder is a reflection of Putin’s rule.
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By Sean — 13 years ago
Nalchik has rightly dominated the news this week. But a lot of other newsworthy events have occurred. Here is the brief weekly rundown of some of things that I found interesting.
, a Peruvian student was a killed and two other foreign students were injured in an attack by skinheads. In response, 200 Voronezh students rallied this week to denounce racism and xenophobia. This is just coming over Interfax: on Friday, a group of skinheads recently attacked a group of Muslim prayer house in Sergiyev Posad in Voronezh and brutally beat up leader of the local Muslim organization Arsan Sadriyev. Moscow
—It seems that the
U.S.government is trying to save face after being thrown out of . As I reported last week, Condi Rice dropped Uzbekistan from her Central Asian trip. Now she says that the Uzbekistan U.S.doesn’t need those bases anyway and bases in Afghanistanand can pick up the slack. She also vowed to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that the Kyrgyzstan U.S.won’t seek to build more bases in Central Asia. This all may be true, but the fact of the matter is that may not need a military base, but it won’t refuse one either. Now it seems that the new Kyrgyz government is questioning the necessity of a U.S. base in its country. U.S.
—Corporate criminal Mikhail Khordokovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev were sent to prison this week to serve their eight year sentences for fraud and tax evasion. The past few weeks have further revealed the State’s heavy handedness when dealing with them. Khodokovsky’s appeal was thrown out. His lawyer’s offices were raided by the
police. There is speculation that more charges will be filed against him. There are charges that prison guards mistreated Lebedev. Interfax is reporting that a source from Khodokovsky family says that he will be sent to Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region and Lebedev will be in Chita Oblast. Russian officials have denied this news, saying that both will serve their term in a prison around Moscow . Moscow
—Russian Profile has an interesting article about Russians and sex. Though
Russiahas been bombarded with images of sex since the collapse of the Soviet Union, they still remain in dark when it concerns sex education. A recent survey revealed these facts about Russians and sex:
“The 2003 Durex global sex survey, which interviewed over 150,000 people in 34 countries, reveals some startling facts about Russian sexuality. Out of all the countries surveyed, Russia had the highest percentage of respondents who said they would sleep with a new partner on the first night (39 percent) and Russians were more likely than any other nationality to have had sex with their best friend’s partner (18 percent).
was also the country with the lowest average age of first sexual contact.” Russia
So Russians are doing it and doing it a lot. However, sex education continues to be seen as too controversial to be taught in schools. This has led to many Russians to go on believing in a number of rather dangerous myths:
“A survey of over 4,000 young Russians from 10 Russian regions, undertaken by Focus-Media Foundation in February, found that only 33 percent of sexually active respondents had always used condoms for sex over the preceding six months. Twenty-two percent did not realize that unprotected oral sex carries a risk, and over a quarter agreed that “if a person is fated to contract HIV, a condom won’t help.” The survey also revealed that 95 percent of young Russians felt they would like to know more about safe sex. With as many as 1 million Russians estimated to be HIV positive, simply ignoring sex education does not really seem like an option.”
Further, the article notes that while
Russiaremains a very homophobia society, things are changing according to Dmitry Gubin, editor-in-chief of FHM . He points to the emergence of the Russian “metrosexual” and the opening of more gay clubs as a positive indication. As if we didn’t have enough metrosexuals here in Russia . . . Los Angeles
—Finally, Russia Profile has reprinted an interview from Novaya Gazeta with Alexei Levinson from the Levada Center Polling Agency on the issue of Russian civil society. The question of civil society is a long standing one. Many historians blame the rise of revolutionary politics and the Bolshevik revolution on the lack of a liberal civil society in late 19th century
. I personally don’t subscribe to this idea of the Russian sonderweg, but the issue persists to inform how people think about Russian political society now. Some of Levinson’s more interesting comments is the following. When asked if “civil society” is merely a phantom, he had this to say: Russia
“The civil society people dreamed of 10-15 years ago doesn’t exist in
today. We’re seeing an entirely different process: a passive society which may simply be termed “the population” is generating interest groups that bear some resemblance to civil society structures. But this process isn’t following the paths known from the history of other countries. In Russia , the first societal groups to emerge and take shape have been those known as criminal structures. They became aware of their goals and formulated them, and now they are pursuing those goals politically, sometimes even via parliamentary channels. Russia
The people believe that the big organized crime groups have their own laws and abide by them. “Look, there’s more order in organized crime than in the bureaucracy” – that’s an opinion I’ve heard hundreds of times from poll respondents.”
Not much, it seems, has changed in post-Soviet
from the mafia governance the Communist Party provided in Soviet Russia. Such a view doesn’t give much comfort to those hoping, no, praying for a liberal Russia . Russia
By Sean — 13 years ago
In a reversal of its own decision, the Russian Supreme Court upheld the Moscow Regional court’s ban of the National Bolshevik Party. The Supreme Court’s ruling further reveals the farce of Russian democracy. Forget about what you think about the NBP, the fact that the Supreme Court contradicted itself so quickly, shows that either larger forces were at work behind the scenes or that the Court itself wields arbitrary power. In a statement to reporters after the verdict, NBP leader Eduard Limonov had this to say: “This was a historic humiliation for the Supreme Court. Big players such as the Prosecutor General’s Office intervened and pressed the judges to discard their previous verdict.” Could this be any closer to the truth? Hardly.
The ban is in response to the fact that the NBP uses the word “party” in its name even though it’s registered as a social organization. But as Limonov tells Kommersant, the NBP repeatedly tried to reregister to comply with the law but were denied. What’s next for the Natsbols? According to Limonov, “We will collect 50 thousand applications as the law demands. This is the only thing left for us, to demand legal recognition. This is a struggle. But we also exist as a large organization. Needless to say, the drama continues.
By Sean — 12 years ago
A few weeks ago Forbes released its World’s Billionaire List. Most commentators have noted the increase in Chinese, Indian, and Russian presence on the list. This is not surprising. The three countries are some of the most economically robust countries in the world.
serves as the global center of cheap labor. China an increasing center of high tech and service. India the world’s oil and gas supplier. Taken together the three nations provide the pillars of a global economy—labor, communications, and fuel. Russia
It is no wonder then that the global ruling class is reflecting these nations.
Russiahas 53 billionaires (two shy of ), of which 19 are new to the list. Germany Chinahas 20 (41 if you include Hong Kong), 13 of which are new. has 36 with 14 newcomers. Billionaires are growing faster in India Russia, China, and than anywhere else in the world. India
What does this mean for the global ruling class? As James Petras notes in his article “Meet the Global Ruling Class,” this surge in billionaires has come with increasing polarization of the world’s wealth. “The total wealth of this global ruling class,” he writes, “grew 35 per cent year to year topping $3.5 trillion, while income levels for the lower 55 per cent of the world’s 6-billion-strong population declined or stagnated. Put another way, one hundred millionth of the world’s population (1/100,000,000) owns more than over 3 billion people.” I’ll repeat that in case you didn’t get it: One hundred millionth of the world’s population own more than 3 billion people. So much for the rising tide lifting all boats.
Petras also makes some important observations about
’s billionaires. They are young. Most “accumulated” their wealth in their mid-20s. Few are members of the old Communist leaders. Despite Western media assertions about Putin moving against Russia ’s oligarchs, “biographical evidence demonstrates that there is no rupture between the rise of the billionaires under Yeltsin and their consolidation and expansion under Putin.” And lastly, in response to Forbes‘ laughable assertions that these Russian billionaires were “self made,” Petras writes, “Of the top eight Russian billionaire oligarchs, all got their start from strong-arming their rivals, setting up ‘paper banks’ and taking over aluminum, oil, gas, nickel and steel production and the export of bauxite, iron and other minerals. Every sector of the former Communist economy was pillaged by the new billionaires: Construction, telecommunications, chemicals, real estate, agriculture, vodka, foods, land, media, automobiles, airlines etc..” Self-made indeed. Russia
But perhaps most interesting is how
Russiaand Latin Americacompare in this regard. Latin American and Russian elites got their wealth not like Bill Gates, but essentially by seizing state industries privatized in neo-liberal privatization schemes:
In both Latin America and Russia, the billionaires grabbed lucrative state assets under the aegis of orthodox neo-liberal regimes (Salinas-Zedillo regimes in Mexico, Collor-Cardoso in Brazil, Yeltsin in Russia) and consolidated and expanded under the rule of supposedly ‘reformist’ regimes (Putin in Russia, Lula in Brazil and Fox in Mexico). In the rest of Latin America (
Chile, Colombiaand ) the making of the billionaires resulted from the bloody military coups and regimes, which destroyed the socio-political movements and started the privatization process. This process was then even more energetically promoted by the subsequent electoral regimes of the right and ‘center-left’. Argentina
What is repeatedly demonstrated in both
Russiaand Latin Americais that the key factor leading to the quantum leap in wealth from millionaires to billionaires was the vast privatization and subsequent de-nationalization of lucrative public enterprises.
It is no wonder Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said that “property is theft.”