Streetwise Professor

July 19, 2011

More of That Totally Awesome VVP’s Handiwork

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:29 pm

Pavel Felgenhauer has a piece that ties together the threads of two recent SWP Russia posts, one on protectionism, and the other on the appalling risks of Russian transport:

The Russian transport infrastructure crisis took years to unfold and is indeed manmade. From 2000 to 2010 under Putin the number of civilian aircraft (planes and helicopters) declined from 6,500 to 6,000, while the number of relatively new ones (5 to 15 years old) declined from 57 percent to 7.2 percent. The number of aircraft 15 to 30 years old increased from 40 percent to 58 percent and aircraft over 30 years of age increased from 1.7 percent to 27.6 percent (Vedomosti, July 12). This collapse in quality was directly promoted by Putin’s policies of supporting Russia’s ailing aircraft industry by protective tariffs. Putin has been deliberately sabotaging Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) to keep high tariffs on aircraft, cars and other industrial produce. The result is disastrous: Russian air companies were anyway forced to import aircraft, because aviation industry could not build new planes of necessary quality or numbers to replace the decaying fleet. But imports tended to be also cheap and old – second hand assets.

Recently the government has began to lift some aircraft import tariffs, but it is too late – the time for an orderly and gradual modernization has been squandered – there is no spare production capacity in the world that could help Russia put its transport infrastructure in order. Putin has been boasting about the success of government support for the automobile industry by protective tariffs and subsidies. Russia’s roads are still being filled by millions of cheap, ugly and unsafe Lada cars that poison the environment and kill more Russians in crashes than planes or boats (Vedomosti July 12).

More good work there.  More wonderful unintended consequences–or should I say more indifference to the real consequences.

But hey!  Forget all that. Putin’s Army Wants You!:

“I’m crazy about the person who has changed our country. He is a prominent politician and an awesome man. His name is Vladimir Putin. Millions of people adore and trust him” says Diana, the narrator of the video.

Get that? He’s freakin’ awesome. Like totally. Never mind the corruption and the corpses.

What makes this video particularly funny is that it is taken on the banks of the Moskva River, and not too far by my recollection from where the tour boat I wrote about the other day docked–and in the background of one of the shots, there is a tour boat on the river that looks pretty much like the one I was on.

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  1. I noticed a similar thing in Sakhalin when I went to buy new tyres for my car. The good quality Japanese ones were subject to a stupidly high import tax, making a new set of tyres come in at around $1,000. The idea was to make you buy the crappy Russian tyres which nobody wanted to because they were too dangerous. So Russia’s policy in this regard made citizens either a lot poorer or less safe, and I’m sure this is repeated across the entire economy.

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 19, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  2. Meanwhile, in reality land, this well-considered industrial policy has more than doubled Russian car production in the last decade, with many corporations such as Renault and Toyota investing billions in new production facilities.

    Similarly, the domestic aircraft industry is also growing fast, and introducing innovative new models such as the Sukhoi Superjet.

    Long may Russia continue ignoring the advice of SWP, for if it ever takes him or his friends seriously it will not be long for this world.

    Truly few other national leaders, with the exception of the collective leadership of the Chinese Politburo, are as far-sighted, intelligent and deeply patriotic as Putin.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 20, 2011 @ 12:31 am

  3. PS. I think it’s hilarious how SWP goes on and on about Russia’s oil dependence while lambasting the very policies aimed at and successful at reducing it.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 20, 2011 @ 12:35 am

  4. Or the “innovative” new Lada that Putin couldn’t even start?

    Really SO, you are so blind to reality it is amazing. Of course we should expect this from someone who considers the Russian Red Empire of the USSR to have been a paradise.

    As for the “innovative” Sukhoi Superjet, hell even Aeroflot is not interested with the CEO drafting plans for an all western fleet. Not to mention deliveries have been grounded half the time….

    Comment by Andrew — July 20, 2011 @ 1:25 am

  5. And the best one:

    Driven To Distraction: Putin’s Lada Stunt Backfires

    September 02, 2010
    By RFE/RL
    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spent much of the summer cultivating his image as a rugged leader, one day out in the wild tracking bears, the next chasing a gray whale in choppy seas off the country’s Far East coast.

    This week, Putin delivered his latest macho stunt — a 2,000-kilometer drive across Siberia in a canary-yellow Lada Kalina, intended to boost Russia’s flailing car industry and his own ratings ahead of a possible presidential comeback.

    Putin was full of praise for the little Kalina, calling it “comfortable” and “reliable.” He recommended that all Russians — especially those currently driving Japanese cars — buy one.

    “You won’t regret it,” Putin promised.

    Three In One

    But it wasn’t an altogether smooth ride.

    An amateur video of Putin’s ride featuring not one but three identical Lada Kalinas, one of them on a tow truck, is making the rounds on the Internet.

    The clip, in which onlookers burst into raucous laughter, has received almost 300,000 hits since it was posted on August 30.

    “A third one is coming!” an onlooker is heard saying. “It broke down. He wore it out! Ah, Kalina…”

    Semyon Shifrin, one of the car buffs who shot the clip, tells RFE/RL he had “nothing against the prime minister.” But he dismissed Putin’s Lada stunt as laughable.

    “We didn’t expect to see as many as three of these much-advertised Lada Kalinas. It made us laugh,” he says. “If they want to promote this car, why take three of them on the trip? Putin is a grown man. He can make repairs himself if something breaks. He could even turn this into a PR stunt.”

    The footage stands in sharp contrast with official Russian television reports, which showed a lone Putin riding his Lada across the vast Siberian expanses.

    In addition to the three yellow Lada Kalinas, the clip also features huge numbers of official vehicles accompanying Putin. Shifrin says he stopped counting after 100.

    The Russian government has already spent huge amounts in state aid to keep the Lada’s manufacturer, Avtovaz, afloat. Many of the clip’s viewers now denounce yet another expensive campaign to improve the poor image of Lada vehicles, which remain the butt of numerous jokes.

    Tit For Tat

    While Russian television has kept the embarrassing video under wraps, Belarus has not missed the chance to take revenge for a series of recent Russian television films discrediting Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

    Belarusian national television channel ONT on August 31 aired a biting report mocking Putin’s road trip, marking a new low in already tense relations between Moscow and Minsk:

    “The Internet is just swamped with criticism of Russian-made cars,” the report says. “Even the Kalina made for Putin could not cope with the 350-kilometer stretch. It had to be replaced after breaking down.”

    This is not the first time Putin has personally stepped in to defend the maligned Lada brand, with arguable success.

    The prime minister last year publicly heaped praise on his newly purchased Lada Niva jeep. The move could have given the Niva a much-needed publicity boost had Putin not admitted in January that his jeep had a customized German-made engine.

    Hell, even Putin does not trust “Made in Russia” and has to put a German engine in his new Niva LOL

    Comment by Andrew — July 20, 2011 @ 1:42 am

  6. There are no words to describe the absolute moral repugnance of this advertising campaign. In it, one sees the abject hatred for women that is displayed all across Russian society, so that the result is one Russian woman being brutally murdered by her husband every forty minutes.

    Why can’t these young women show their love for Putin by working in a soup kitchen, or volunteering in a hospital, or taking care of old people? Why can’t they work on infrastructure projects, or work in drug treatment centers? Why is it that all they are good for is to rip open their shirts and show their bodies like strippers? Is this really how Russia sees its young women? Is the Kremlin really that afraid of admitting there are so many social ills that young people could be working to correct?

    Russia! What an unholy mess!

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 20, 2011 @ 2:12 am

  7. What “well-considered industrial policy” are we talking about? SUBLIME BABOON certainly doesn’t say. In fact, all that has happened is that demand has increased due to the rising price of oil, something that Kremlin policy HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH.

    If Russia really had a successful policy, then Americans would be buying Russian cars. They aren’t, instead they are laughing at them as always, as they should be. And the only “policy” of Russia and her fanatics is to lie, deceive, and live in world of hallucinatory imagination until, once again, the country predictably collapses.

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 20, 2011 @ 2:15 am

  8. Russians did buy more domestic cars in recent years because of various incentives (they copied the US trade in a clunker program) and disincentives (taxes on imported cars, etc.). But SO, that doesn’t mean they like them or that they are safe. I had three Russian cars, and although I dearly loved my clunky, boxy Niva, they were all death traps and incredibly poorly made — not to mention about 20 years out of date. (I recall once telling my brother about a problem with my carburator and he exclaimed: “You still have carburators???!!”)

    Yeah, Ford is here, too (the Ford Focus is an incredibly popular car here), but what’s your point? They’re here because Russians would rather buy even Russian-made Fords instead of Ladas. (They prefer to buy Fords made elsewhere.)

    Putin, a patriot? What, you don’t think other foreign leaders drive/are driven in cars made in their own countries? You got to get out more.

    Besides, I see Putin’s and Medvedev’s corteges nearly every day out here at my dacha. Ain’t no Russian cars in those cavalcades. As far as I can tell — which, to be honest, is not that much, since they travel at 150-200kpm and I’m not a big car expert — they are all Mercedes.

    And that video — disgusting. Truly vulgar, revolting, humiliating.

    Comment by mossy — July 20, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  9. Putin car – BIG! Swedish King – very small.

    Comment by So? — July 20, 2011 @ 7:14 am

  10. It is a Mercedes S 600 Pullman Guard and was likely a couple hundred thousand dollars before import duties. 🙂

    If you live in Ryblyovka your description of your dwelling as a dacha is overly modest. 🙂

    Comment by pahoben — July 20, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  11. Meanwhile, in reality land, this well-considered industrial policy has more than doubled Russian car production in the last decade…

    So we’ve gone from celebrating tractor production to celebrating car production in a mere three decades! Who says there is no progress in Russia?!!

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 20, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  12. Tim, good point! Here is some more on the topic from Kakha Bendukidze, the architect of Georgia’s economic reforms [square bracket content like this is mine]:

    During the military communism [in Russia] they used to execute people just like that, for no reason. Later they were shooting people for a reason, right? Then they stopped shooting and started throwing into jails. Then they even stopped jailing and started sending people into exile. Then they started exiling people with a payment [of compensation?], right? That is, later, yes, later they jailed [Khodorkovsky et al., apparently]. But overall, you know, as my friend Petya Rabinovich used to say, 200 years will pass and everything will be alright.

    Comment by Ivan — July 20, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  13. Of course, braying SUBLIME JACKASS totally ignores this: “From 2000 to 2010 under Putin the number of civilian aircraft (planes and helicopters) declined from 6,500 to 6,000, while the number of relatively new ones (5 to 15 years old) declined from 57 percent to 7.2 percent. The number of aircraft 15 to 30 years old increased from 40 percent to 58 percent and aircraft over 30 years of age increased from 1.7 percent to 27.6 percent”

    Nice work, Uncle Vova!

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 20, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  14. Just for my best bud on teh interwebs Andrew:

    Hot girls go topless for Putin…

    … Saakashvili’s goons beat them up.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 20, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  15. S/O: Reality land? I thought you were in Berkeley. “Well-considered industrial policy” is an oxymoron.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 20, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  16. They call Putin a “president” in this video. Who cares, anyway? We do not have elections in this our country anymore. Thanks to VVP. Thanks to Greenspan, Bernanke and WS banksters for the tenfold rise in the price of oil- money flows to the coffers of putinoids.

    Comment by a.russian — July 21, 2011 @ 5:11 am

  17. Oh Sublime Retard, as much as I dislike the one goon who shoved (beat up is a little strong) the FEMEN girl and some journalists outside a Georgian Embassy in Ukraine, that hardly compares to what Russian police do when they beat someone:

    Also interesting is how protesters in the Arab world, such as in Syria, are burning Russian flags in protest at the Russian support of state terror and oppression

    Get a life Sublime Moron, you are truly pathetic.

    Comment by Andrew — July 21, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  18. A close up of Syrian protesters burning a Russian flag, the symbol of mass repression

    Comment by Andrew — July 21, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  19. SUBLIME HYPOCRITE fails to notice what Putin lackey Yanukovich does to pretty girls in Ukraine:

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 21, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  20. Bad news Phobie: you and all your identities from Oliver Bronson on back are about to be taken over by ‘bots. Even the few bucks the Jamestown Foundation’s throwing your way can now be saved by Pentagon contractor funded AI:

    So now we don’t even need a human being sitting in one of the U.S.’s most expensive cities to Google-bomb Russophile scumbags and push their posts down in Gov-oogle rankings and blogs that nobody reads up. All we need is a few months worth of SWP fan posts and presto! the anti-Russia lobby can live forever in cyberspace, like the nerds in the Singularity.

    Comment by Mr. X — July 21, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

  21. Just imagine Andrew — if we’d had this technology during the 08/08/08 war, Misha the Tie Eater would have won a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Comment by Mr. X — July 21, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  22. If you live in Ryblyovka your description of your dwelling as a dacha is overly modest.

    Well, I didn’t describe it, but it is modest. Before Rublyovka became Rodeosky Drive, it was home to various academic dacha settlements. My two unheated rooms off a garage with an outhouse at the end of the lot could not be described as a mansion.

    Comment by mossy — July 22, 2011 @ 12:28 am

  23. No X, just because you have no brains is not my fault. But any example of Georgians doing something stupid or wrong, is insignificant compared with the evil that is the Russian state.

    Comment by Andrew — July 22, 2011 @ 1:45 am

  24. Also, never mind the helicopters dropping out of the sky! (Three in one week!)

    Not to mention the planes, the sinking ships . . .

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 22, 2011 @ 3:48 am

  25. Oh-neat. I hope you have a garden.

    Comment by pahoben — July 22, 2011 @ 6:29 am

  26. Andrew,

    Here’s some Misha the Tie Eater hysterics dissected, along with the Weekly Standard (aka the right wing of the anti-Russia lobby, with the Post providing the ‘left’ and the Economist the Oxbridge wing) parroting of the same:

    Comment by Mr. X — July 22, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  27. Corruption in Putin’s Russia is exploding. The price of an average bribe is up BY A FACTOR OF SEVEN compared to last year.

    No need of a TI corruption perceptions index, this is corruption reality!

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 22, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  28. That’s excellent news for obvious reasons.

    Russia is going from success to rip-roaring success.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 22, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  29. Very old news indeed. In terms of corruption, Russia has been a roaring success throughout its existence. Second only to Russia’s unparalleled success in mass murder.

    Comment by Ivan — July 23, 2011 @ 2:18 am

  30. What do three leading Russians know that SUBLIME MANIAC does not?

    Gorbachev: With Putin, Russia is Africa.

    Prokhorov: With Putin, Russia is Egypt.

    Lebedev: With Putin, Russia is Zimbabwe.

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 23, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  31. I, too, am a leading Russian.

    In fact I’m the one who is leading leading Russians.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 23, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  32. Sergey Brin: Russians are snow *******. (I agree).

    Comment by So? — July 23, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

  33. @So?–I let the comments be pretty much a free-fire zone, but that’s one word that I won’t have on my site.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 23, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

  34. SWP: You might consider expanding the blacklist slightly to include the words “sublime oblivion” they are even a little bit more odious 😉

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 24, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  35. Well then, SUBLIME POND SCUM, which African nation do YOU think Putin has Russia on the fast track to becoming? Uganda, perhaps?

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 24, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

  36. SWP can criticize helicopter Ben Bernanke, Turbo Tax Timmy, the gropesters at the TSA, and much of the rest of the current ruling class/Establishment. But he cannot bring himself to ask whether the Anglo-Americans should just finally mind their own business and clean up the corruption at home before trying to export revolution abroad. Nor whether the Obamaster he despises was the product of the same system that ultimately produced some of those failed Colored Revolutions and gave us Misha the Tie Eater (and perhaps those unfortunate fronsters at the Jamestown Foundation?)

    Two new books deal with Barack Obama’s paternal and maternal families. British journalist Peter Firstbrook’s The Obamas takes us all the way from the origins of East Africa’s Luo tribe to Barack’s father’s relationship with Barack’s mother. Generally fact-filled, it gives vivid portraits especially of Barack, Sr.’s, father, Onyango, who tried to raise a son as upright as he and was deadly disappointed when that son turned out to be a wastrel in the train of Tom Mboya, political leader of Kenya’s Luo. The closer the book gets to the present, however, the less trustworthy it becomes. For example, it tells us that Mboya organized the 1959 airlift of 280 Africans to study in America, bypassing the U.S. State Department. Nonsense. This was high U.S. policy and touted as such at the time. The CIA considered Mboya one of its most important covert action agents. The people chosen by him and the CIA to go to America were his flunkies. But the book is irrelevant to understanding the current president of the United States because his African family had only a biological influence on him. Indeed, Barack Obama’s African-ness is, as we shall see, strictly the product of his imagination.

    The maternal family that raised Barack Obama, which is highly relevant to our understanding, is the subject of New York Times reporter Janny Scott’s A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother. But though this book tells us that grandmother Madelyn Dunham’s favorite color was beige, that Stanley Dunham and daughter Ann (Barack, Jr.’s, mother) shared a certain impulsiveness, and contains interviews with and personal information on countless of Ann’s high school friends, it sheds no light on what the Dunhams were doing with their lives that led their daughter to take a practical interest in international affairs. Magically, Ann Dunham goes from peeking her shy 17-year-old head out of Mercer Island, Washington (“a young virgin,” writes Janny Scott), to intimacy with a very foreign person, and a few years later with another, and then to work in one of the Cold War’s key battlegrounds. Meanwhile her mother, about whose professional activities the book says nothing, becomes a bank executive. Did Ann speak any foreign language? Had the Dunhams ever taken any trips abroad? The book does not say. A Singular Woman gives the impression that Ann’s Indonesian husband, Lolo Soetoro, was just a geographer drafted into the army, a minor, unwitting part of the bloody campaign that wrested Indonesia from the Communists; and that Ann’s work in that country was anthropological-humanitarian, as if for her U.S. policy were irrelevant. It certainly was not for her employers—the U.S. government and contractors thereof.

    Self-styled investigative journalist Wayne Madsen reports that Madelyn Dunham, the mother of Barack’s mother, Ann Dunham, who became vice president of the Bank of Hawaii soon after her arrival there, was in charge of escrow accounts. Madsen’s credibility is certainly checkered. But if he is correct about which department she headed, Madelyn Dunham must have supervised the accounts that the U.S. government used to funnel money to its “gray” and “black” activities throughout Asia. Among the conduits of the CIA money through these accounts to secret CIA proprietaries was a company—Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham & Wong—some of whose officers were serving CIA officers. This is a company whose 1983 IRS audit the CIA stopped. Vice President Madelyn Dunham, in charge of these very matters and hence necessarily “witting” (as they say at Langley), would have had to be more than a small cog in the machine. People do not rise to such stations from one day to the next.

    Russia has its siloviks. America apparently too has a nomenklatura, one that needn’t produce results so much as suggest brilliance merely by moving from one job to the next higher level without any apparent accomplishments. Witness Geithner.

    What deeply troubles me about the likes of Phobie, all the Colored Revolutions, and all the billions spent on propaganda abroad down through the years, particularly SINCE the justification went away with the USSR in 1992, is the possibility of blowback. Namely, that not only would eventually America’s prodigous propaganda machine start to be mirror-imaged by Russia and China — that’s already been alluded to by Walter Isaacson to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and by Hillary Clinton trying to save their budgets. No really, who cares if the Republic of Texas movement gets interviewed on CCTV as payback for the Dalai Lama getting the saint treatment by western media?

    No, what’s far more disturbing are the surveillance technologies used abroad (one out of every 14 Afghans and or Iraqis have been retina-scanned), and to locate adversaries abroad might also be turned against the American people, and our entire way of life would be redefined, like the frog in water. And it will have been do so by many people posing as conservatives, with useful nutcases like La Russophobe cheering the Oceania builders on. No God in the sky save for the drones buzzing overhead, no check unjustified, no expression not monitored electronically and eventually counteracted by sock puppets that won’t even be human. You won’t need any army of bureaucrats sitting on their butts in all those facilities scattered across the D.C. periphery or wherever anymore. Drone warfare will be supplemented by drone attempts at thought control.

    I’m amazed given how much pressure I know for a fact was brough to bear post 08/08/08 on certain Republicans not to discuss McCain’s and Saakashvili’s Soros ties, that the conservative talking shop Claremont even allowed Codevilla to publish his ‘Obama’s grandparents were CIA’ story.

    Comment by Mr. X — July 24, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  37. I enjoyed your post Dude X.

    Comment by pahoben — July 25, 2011 @ 6:34 am

  38. > But he cannot bring himself to ask whether the Anglo-Americans should just finally mind their own business

    Mr. X, what if Russia’s territory just happens to be in the Anglo-American privileged sphere of interests? If you are not familiar with the concept, ask Mr. Medvedev, he should be able to explain what this means.

    Comment by Ivan — July 25, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  39. Mr. X:

    Speaking of helicopters . . .

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 26, 2011 @ 5:27 am

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