A reader sent me this comment about foreign registration in Russia:
I realize that private registrations are the cheapest way to be in R BUT a traveler’s time is also money, especially when you are on a tight schedule. For between 125$ and 200$, you can get legal, convenient registration in less than 24 hrs through almost any travel agency. Who cares if it says that you are at the hotel Ukraine? I can testify that it will work against any Moscow cop seeking a bribe at 2pm or hunting drunks at 2am, trust me. This is a simple tourist registration and for a few more $, you can get a ‘business’ visa by the same means. It is more flexible.
On my first trip to R, I had an absolute nightmare experience with a private registration. My friend spent a lot of time and energy to get me the visa and then I had to spend 10 days trying to register it, 10 days without papers on a 65 day trip. 6 days in half a dozen Moscow police stations, all day long. Finally, my buddy got the chief of OVIR for all Moscow (a fucking colonel) to write a letter ordering the local station to register my visa. He was actually pretty understanding of the idiocy of the regs. I quote him: “These people working for me do not understand OUR rules and they never will” Imagine that! They would not even take a bribe to do it. What an education in Soviet-Russian bureaucratic ways!!
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By Sean — 12 years ago
In the meantime, the politics of Politkovskaya’s death rumbles on. As Wally Shedd reports on his blog, Accidental Russophile, Exile editor Mark Ames has weighed in on the Western media’s sudden infatuation with Politkovskaya. Always looking for a chance to twist his pen into the sides of the American media, Ames reviews American press coverage of the murder. He also rightly asks, “Where is America’s Politkovskaya?”
If you ask me, what is most significant for us in the West about Anna Politkovskaya’s death, and her courageous life (btw, a big “fuck you” to our nationalist readers who don’t agree with this), is not so much what it says about Russia — it doesn’t say much new at all, to be honest, but instead is another chapter in an increasingly depressing story that started under Yeltsin.
Rather, what is significant about her death is this: Why doesn’t America have an Anna Politkovskaya? Why don’t we have someone as courageous as she was to tell the story of how we razed Fallujah to the ground Grozny-style? How we bombed to smithereens and ethnically cleansed a city of 300,000 people in retaliation for the deaths of four American contractors? Where is the American Anna Politkovskaya who will tell us about how we directly killed roughly 200,000 Iraqis, and indirectly are responsible for about half a million Iraq deaths since our invasion? Why isn’t there a single American willing to risk almost certain death, the way Politkovskaya did, in the pursuit of truth and humanity?
On the other side of the political divide, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a rare interview to Novaya gazeta during her recent trip to Moscow. It is interesting to note that Il’ia Politkovskii, Anna Politkovskaya son was one of the interviewers. Rice was of course asked about the journalists murder:
Novaya gazeta: Miss State Secretary, this work, of course is possible to continue. But for the last six years there were three horrible loses to out newspaper. In 2000, Igor’ Dominkov was died: contract killers murdered him, and now they sit in court. He was killed for his professional activities. And a corrupt official—the vice governor of one of Russia’s regions gave the order for the murder.
[Then there was] the mysterious death three years ago of deputy editor of Novaya gazeta, Duma deputy, and head of the Commission for the Struggle Against Corruption, Iurii Shchekochikhin. This case has not been investigated. Now the murder of Ania. Is there a higher price to pay for the right to practice your professional duties?
Secretary Rice: What you talk about is a shared sorrow. I know about these tragedies. We raised the issue to the Russian government that the murders, which occurred over the last few years—about what you speak of, and even the murders of other journalists, that it is necessary to investigate them and that the people who committed these crimes must know that they will not go unanswered.
It is difficult to answer your question abstractly because I know that all of this is a personal tragedy for you, a personal loss. But if we look at history, we arrive at the conclusion that in various states people sacrifice for their principles. For very important causes.
These losses can never be in vain because in the end freedom will prevail.
What concerns journalists, especially those so-called “muckrakers”, who pursue investigations, that this is an extremely dangerous profession. Because by their very nature they inform people of the truth about what happened in reality.
And in the process they make enemies for their activities.
You see it is often said that people who can lose much if the truth come out and it will spread.
But without independent journalists who conduct such investigations, democracy cannot function.
I don’t think that this will bring you personal comfort. But I want to say to you that all of these murders have resonance all over the world, people all over the world profoundly feel and urge that an investigation will be carried out and the guilty punished.
I want to repeat. You are not alone in your struggle.
You know if Rice said such things in the American media, I might actually begin liking her. Take a look in the mirror, sister.
Correction: Il’ia Politkovskii is Anna Politkovskaya’s son not her husband. The correction has been made above. Thanks to Veronica at Neeka’s Backlog for the alerting me of the error.Post Views: 571
By Sean — 13 years ago
I highly recommend subscribing to David Johnson’s Russia List. Mr. Johnson provides some of the best sources for news on Russia and the other former Soviet states. Today’s edition, JRL #9261, is particularly interesting because Johnson inserts some of his wit into the news roll. Featured are two editorials published today. One, “Mr. Putin’s Clouded Promise,” from the NY Times and the other, “Silent on Putin’s Slide. Bush Ignores Russia’s Fading Freedom,” from the Washington Post. For comparison, he follows them with two editorials from 1993 from the same papers. From the NY Times: “In Russia, Disorder to Democracy?” (October 5, 1993) and “Officials Hail Yeltsin Foes’ Rout,” (October 6, 1993); and the Washington Post: “Weekend War,” (October 5, 1993). Johnson adds this short introductory note:
“In early October 1993 Yeltsin’s tanks assaulted the parliament and the future course of Russian history was decisively altered. I follow the first two items from the Washington Post and the New York Times with items from those papers from October 1993. I’m not sure what lessons can be drawn from this but I suspect there is something to be learned.”
Lessons to be learned indeed. The articles show the typical American hypocrisy when it comes to Russia. When Yeltsin used tanks against “old-line Communist “reds,” fascist-minded, nationalistic anti-Semitic “browns” and other bitter-enders,” this was hailed by the Washington Post, NY Times, and the Clinton Administration as democratic progress. It was a sign of a commitment to “reform and democracy.” Translated: reforms and democracy that are favorable to American interests. Lesson #1: weak dependent Russia is a good Russia. But Putin gets no license or democratic accolades like his drunken former benefactor. Apparently, you have call tanks into the streets to eliminate his opponents to get that. Instead, the Washington Post is tempted to call Putin’s tactics “Stalinist” because “he can reimpose authoritarian rule without a gulag, simply by spreading fear through example.” But his policies, whatever you think of them, are not in the interests of the U.S., but independent of it. Lesson #2: strong independent Russia is a bad Russia.
The NY Times and the Washington Post can cry all the want about poor Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Don’t let his metrosexual visage fool you. The truth of the matter is that he is a crook just like all the Russian oligarchs, and that most Russians rightly see him as such. It is only the American press that had made Khodorkovsky into some beacon of freedom and example of a “political prisoner.” I wish the Bush would use that kind of state power and arrest some of our corporate crooks. But wait, that would mean arresting all of his friends!
Sure, Putin’s actions against Khodorkovsky are selective. They are authoritarian. I’m not apologizing for that. But to say that Russian democracy is “slipping” is utter fantasy. It’s never stood up.
To be fair, the Washington Post does point to some real concerns:
“[Putin] can fire one editor for putting a negative story on the front page and other editors get the message. He can have one or two judges dismissed without pension and other judges toe the line. Threaten a few human rights organizations, allow the murders of a few journalists to go unsolved, open a criminal investigation of the one politician who mentions challenging you in the next election, throw a few businessmen into tuberculosis-infested prison cells — and word gets around.”
But Johnson’s transposes these articles to make a different point: American interpretations of democracy and reform in Russia are just as hollow as Putin’s claims to them. And this is why, I’m afraid, Western reporting on Russia should always be taken with a dash of politics and a pinch of Russophobia.Post Views: 410
By Sean — 11 years ago
The deaths at the Ulyanovskaya mine explosion in Kemerovo region continue to mount as time passes. As of publication, Kommersant reported a tally of 75 deaths with 33 miners missing. The most recent report from Interfax says that the toll is now up to 106 according to the Emergency Situations’ Ministry. Putin has delcared March 21 a national day of mourning for the 106 miners, the nursing home fire that killed 62 people in the Krasnodar region, and the airliner that killed seven in Samara on Saturday.
As for the events and possible cause of the mine blast, Kommersant reports,
According to the deputy head of the division, the tragedy was precipitated by the collapse of the roof over the coal face in the 11th tunnel: “Over the spot of the collapse there was obviously an underground cavity, a so-called pocket, that accumulated methane. After the roof collapsed, the methane instantaneously spread throughout the mine and exploded.”
When asked whether there is any hope that any of the miners who were at the coal face will be found alive, Alexander Gennadyevich replied, “a methane explosion in a mine is like a massive cannon shot. Imagine that there were people in the cannon’s barrel at the time. How would you rate their chances for survival?”
The explosion took place at a depth of 270 meters, yet the resulting shockwave was powerful enough to blast coal dust several meters into the air out of all of the mine’s entrances.
The same version of events was repeated that evening by Governor Tuleev, who confirmed that a methane explosion in the mine had destroyed the underground infrastructure and that the resulting debris will seriously hinder rescue efforts. “Our task is to find as many people as possible and to prevent a fire,” he added. Fortunately, no fires broke out, but in order to prevent the possibility of a spark igniting any remaining gas, the mine’s ventilation system had to be turned off. According to the miners at the scene, the situation is a double-edged sword: their fellow miners trapped underground will not burn to death, but they may suffocate.
Anyone at the coal face at the time of the blast was likely killed instantly, however, and even the few who were near the exits from the mine when the explosion took place suffered severe trauma.Post Views: 542