Streetwise Professor

February 18, 2010

Russia Speed Round

Filed under: Economics,Energy,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:39 pm

Many Russia related stories to comment on, but not a lot of time, so here’s a quick recap.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words.  It is now apparent that Dmitri Medvedev’s anger over the Magnitsky killing was so much codswollop.  Or, if it wasn’t codswollop, recent events demonstrate just how irrelevant the President of the Russian Federation is.  Specifically, American lawyer Jamison Firestone, an outspoken critic of the Russian government’s criminal treatment of Magnitsky and the events that led up to it, has fled Russia because Interior Ministry personnel made two attempts to reprise the theft scheme that ultimately led to Magnitsky’s imprisonment and death:

Firestone, 44, a U.S. citizen and former board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, said Interior Ministry officials made two attempts to obtain $21 million in taxes that a company he’s a director of paid to the government. He said the perpetrators forged his signature and corporate seals to seek tax rebates, similar to the $230 million in claims made by funds expropriated from Hermitage Capital Management, a $1 billion investment firm run by his client William Browder.

The alleged fraud underscores Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s challenge reining in what he has called “legal nihilism.” Perceived lack of law is one reason Russia has attracted less than one-fifth the investment in China and Brazil and half of what’s invested in India, its fellow members of the so-called BRIC group of emerging nations, according to three years of data compiled by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based fund- tracker EPFR Global. The nation’s economy shrank the most on record in 2009. [Perceived?  Like there’s any doubt?]

. . . .

“Corrupt law enforcement is the single biggest risk to business in Russia,” Firestone, co-founder of law firm Firestone Duncan, said in an interview in London, where he is looking for temporary office space. “Police have to stop being the mafia. These people are stealing the country.”

Magnitsky Death

Since Magnitsky’s death in November after a year in pre- trial detention and incidents such as a Moscow police officer beating a man to death, Medvedev has proposed reforms of law- enforcement agencies. The head of the Moscow police’s tax-crimes department, Maj. Gen. Anatoly Mikhalkin, and the chief of the Moscow prison division were fired.

Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said at a press conference on Feb. 16 that the Russian government “is taking certain steps to ensure that the situation with Magnitsky will never be repeated.”

That’s not enough, said Browder, the 45-year-old U.S.-born founder of Hermitage, once Russia’s largest foreign investor.

“Those who have been fired were the least important part of the conspiracy to steal tax money and kill Sergei,” said Browder from London, where he has been based since Russia refused him entry in 2005. “We’ve written well-documented complaints to the top law-enforcement officers in the country that a number of police officers, judges, organized criminals and businessmen have been involved in the theft of almost $500 million from the state, and were involved in imprisoning Sergei Magnitsky. So far there have been absolutely no consequences for those people.”

. . . .

In an interview with Robert Amsterdam, Firestone makes it plain that Medvedev’s words mean exactly squat:

RA: Medvedev has ordered mass firings of prison officials and other gestures, yet you are literally back in the same position as before the death of Magnitsky. What are we to take away from this in terms of the position of the Kremlin on these issues?

JF: Well I can’t tell you what’s going on inside the Kremlin, but I can talk about what’s going on inside the Prosecutor General’s Office. I can specifically confirm that there are individuals within the Prosecutor General’s Office, such as Andrei Pechegin, who have obstructed the investigations into the Hermitage cases and the Magnitsky case and the attacks against me at every single turn. I think that Medvedev has a genuine interest in at least Magnitsky’s death, but any real attempt to investigate the MVD officers who were behind the theft of Hermitage companies and the theft of state budget, as well as those responsible for the arrest, torture, and eventual killing of Magnitsky has been completely obstructed. So what Medvedev did is fire a bunch of prison officials are tangentially responsible for the welfare of all prisoners, but he completely missed the MVD officers who had orchestrated all of this.

There’s the wonder of “centralized modernization” for you.

More Evidence of Medvedev’s Awesome Authority.  Medvedev has criticized the adulation of Stalin. Fat lot of good that does:

Muscovites will be able to learn about Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s role in the World War II victory from street stands, a source in the Russian capital’s advertising and design committee said Wednesday.

“Information stands telling of Stalin’s role will be placed at sites where militia detachments were formed,” the source said, adding that the stands will be set up ahead of the 65th anniversary of the Soviet victory.

Stalin’s name, which has not been present in Moscow’s festive decorations since Soviet times, came to the focus of public attention last summer, when the Kurskaya station of the capital’s subway was under reconstruction.

Somehow I don’t think that Medvedev has to worry (or dream) about becoming the object of a personality cult.

And speaking of “centralized modernization.” Brian Whitmore had another quote from Surkov:

We have a school of thought that teaches that political modernization — by which is meant political debauchery and ‘anything goes’ — is the key to economic modernization. There is a different concept, to which I hold, which considers the consolidated state as a transitional instrument, a tool for modernization. Some call it authoritarian modernization. I do not care what it is called.

This is an even better example of the false choice that Surkov–and most other defenders of Putin, and too many commenters on this blog–offer to justify an authoritarian system.

Apology via Twitter will be acceptable.  In his every-word-a-lie-including-it-and-the oped in the NYT some time back, Russia’s Ambassador to NATO (with emphasis on the ass) Dmitri Rogozin slandered US and other NATO troops by claiming that unlike brave Soviet conscripts, US/NATO soldiers and Marines did not fight their adversaries face-to-face, preferring to bomb from on high.  The US Marines and NATO and Afghan allies are assaulting a fortified urban area, Marjah, in Afghanistan.  For a few takes on the close combat this involves, check here and here.  And for a view of urban combat from a major, major badass who knows it up close in personal, try this.    Oh, and Dmitri, if there’s not enough face-to-face bloodshed for your liking, it’s probably because all but the dimmest Iraqi or Taliban realize that tangling in close combat with a US or Brit or French or Canadian outfit is suicidal.   So, if you have the decency (yeah, I know), and since you like Twitter so much, why don’t you take a break from bragging about ass-kicking and Tweet an abject apology to those you’ve slandered.  Maybe your son can post it on his blog too.  (At least I’m pretty sure it’s his son.  But what’s up with the “!” Alexei! ?  Reminds me of Maury! Povich or something.)

Here we go again.  Again.  Even though BP has taken backseat in TNK-BP, that doesn’t protect it against expropriation.  Gazprom want gas.  TNK-BP have gas.  So Russia take gas.  Specifically, it looks like the expropriation of Kovytka is imminent. The trick this time?  Require that the firm develop its gas reserves in Kovytka to retain its license.  But deny it access to the pipeline necessary to ship the gas.  Then revoke its license because it didn’t develop gas it couldn’t sell due to lack of transport:

But Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry has consistently warned TNK-BP to speed up development or lose the rights to Kovykta.

The joint venture has argued that it cannot ramp up output to the required levels because Gazprom has a monopoly on exports to nearby China. It would need to build pipelines costing billions of dollars to reach its Asian markets.

TNK-BP was originally asked to sell its stake in Kovytka to Gazprom, the Russian state energy monopoly, in 2007 but talks stalled after years of wrangling on price.

Because Kovytka is a designated “strategic field”, it could fall automatically to Gazprom if TNK-BP is stripped of its licence as expected. TNK-BP and BP declined to comment.

FT adds:

The new pressure could signal that the Russian government is preparing finally to make a decision on Kovykta’s future, analysts said. “This is a sign they want to make progress,” said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Uralsib, a Moscow investment bank. “It follows a familiar pattern of putting pressure on the other side to force them to make concessions. It is pretty much the modus operandi we saw in the other energy disputes of previous years,” he added, referring to a similar wave of threats that led to Royal Dutch Shell selling control of its Sakhalin 2 oilventure to Gazprom in 2006.

Gazprom has insisted it is no longer interested in Kovykta. But Russia is under increasing pressure to clinch a gas supply agreement with China, which is already signing up alternative supplies from Central Asia and potentially from Qatar.

Even as Gazprom has dragged its feet on Kovykta, its rival Rosneft, the state oil group, has been eyeing the field. Rosneftegaz, a Rosneft vehicle, is due to table a proposal on buying the field from TNK-BP in March, people close to TNK-BP said.

BP sees the field as a long-term prospect and has not booked the gas to its reserves.

Er, maybe they didn’t book the gas as reserves because they knew they’d never see a dime from it.

Going Down! Rusal’s reverse pop continues apace, with the stock down 30 percent since the IPO, and down the last 4 days, including a 6.7 percent drop on one day, after dropping 5.4 percent the day before.  Remind me not to take investment advice from this guy:

“The main problem with Rusal is its debt,” said Kenny Tang, an analyst at Redford Assets Management in Hong Kong. “It relies on the short-term funding and facilities from the banks for its operation, which might be a concern for investors. They are worried about Rusal’s cash flows after the listing.”

What, like the debt is a surprise?  Investors should have been worried about the cash flows before the listing–and then avoided it like the plague.

No wonder the HKEx figures that 10 or so Russian companies will do IPOs there: sounds like a great place to unload overpriced equity!

F22ski Dogfight.  There are diametrically opposed views on the viability of the Russian alleged 5th generation fighter, and hence the threat it represents to American air dominance.  (Still some comments pinging back and forth on my earlier post on the T-50).  First, from the Weekly Standard (via Air Power Australia):

In an open-source assessment of Russia’s Sukhoi PAK-FA, aka the Raptor Killer, Air Power Australia concludes, “once the PAK-FA is deployed within a theatre of operations, especially if it is supported robustly by counter-VLO capable ISR systems, the United States will no longer have the capability to rapidly impose air superiority, or possibly even achieve air superiority.”

. . . .

Can the Russians produce the PAK-FA in considerable numbers? The Russian defense industrial base is in sorry shape (think the Shkval torpedo that likely sunk the Kursk and the Beluva submarine-launched ballistic missile that has offered Moscow one spectacular embarrassment after another). But if the Russians can get the PAK-FA off the ground despite all that, maybe it’s not as hard to build a fifth-generation fighter as the Pentagon thinks.

A more skeptical view from StategyPage (which is, contrary to the assertions of some commentors, a pretty informed and reliable source):

Russia effort to develop an F-22 class fighter (the PAK FA) is going to require a lot of work. The prototype, that took its first flight recently, was clearly the basic Su-27 airframe modified to be stealthier. This included changing the shape of the aircraft to be less radar reflective, and providing internal bays for bombs and missiles. But there’s much more to do in order to achieve anything close to the stealthiness of the F-22. It took fifteen years for the F-22 to go from initial flight, to entering service. The PAK FA could proceed faster, learning from the F-22 experience (especially if some of the Internet based espionage carried out in the last decade was Russian). But such development speed has not been a Russian characteristic.Another problem is the engines, which were not ready for the first flight. Older model engines were used, because initial flights are mainly to confirm the basic airworthiness of the airframe. The new engines, also being used in the Su-35, are suffering development problems. The Russians have always had difficulties with their high end military engines, and that tradition continues. Currently, the Russians say it will take several years to perfect the new engine.

Russia will also need a new family of air-to-air missiles, as the current ones are too large for the internal bays on the PAK FA prototype. These are already in the works, along with more compact versions of air-to-surface missiles. There are also problems with the electronics and, well, you get the picture.

Given all the issues–the ability to do real stealth (for which the US has extensive experience, Russia zip), radar, missiles, and engines (the biggie)–I tend to lean to the SP view.  But y’all can talk among yourselves.

I’ll Bite Your Legs Off! Despite US happy talk that a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia is imminent, it is pretty evident that Russian demands on missile defense will make that very difficult, if not impossible (save a cave from Obama).  This part was amusing to me:

Russia recently embarked on a campaign of military muscle flexing. It regarded America’s missile defense plans in Europe as a threat, and threats must be countered with shows of strength.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia must develop new offensive weapons to counter the proposed U.S. missile shield.

“You will see tactics of attack and shooting,” a Russian general said.

“Our soldiers are equipped with new machine guns and we have new tanks. We are far more mobile than before.”

I see.  Answer development of ballistic missile defense with “new machine guns” and “tactics of attack and shooting.”  Does this mean that before, Russia relied on tactics of attack and throwing rocks?  “Far more mobile”?  Uhm, Russian power projection potential beyond, say, Georgia, is basically zip, new machine guns or no.

Don’t Mention the War.  After viewing with shock and amazement the trollfest that broke out over at LR in response to her posts on the Winter Olympics, R beseeched me not to write about the subject.  I wasn’t planning on doing so anyways, but her well advised caution reinforces my intentions.  I’ll leave the critique up to the Duma.

Believe it or not, I could go on and on in this vein. But dammit Jim, I’m just a doctor, not a miracle worker, so I’ll leave it at this. Besides, there’s only so much I can take of this stuff. I think to relax, I’ll watch something that’s lighthearted by comparison, you know, maybe the documentary titled “Siberian Apocalypse” about to play on History International.

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  1. Meanwhile, Russian unemployment is soaring back towards a new high:

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 18, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  2. Excellent round-up, Bones. Yeah, it is depressing. I continue to think “something’s got to give.” Just a note on the Stalin billboards. Last night NTV did a report on it, complete with negative commentary by the newscasters, on camera criticism by Grizlov and even — if you can believe it — Alekseeva. So you think: Okay, how about that power vertical? These are billboards that will be part of the state celebration of Victory Day; why can’t the state control what’s on them? Or why can’t they do what they do with the opposition rallies — say that the billboards are already taken? Either they have no power (and actually there are plenty of examples of that — cases when Putin or Medvedev ordered something that never happened), or the criticism is a sham.
    People don’t know about Magnitsky or Firestone; very little was on the TV news about them. But there was another drunk police officer in a Mercedes who hit a pedestrian the other evening, and that is getting a lot of play. I personally think the MVD is the show-down venue.
    Another note: I keep hearing about people not getting paid — nurses and other budget folks not getting their pay for several months. Since there is no reporting on it, it’s impossible to know how widespread this is. But… what are they thinking? Their big claim to fame is ending the pay delays of the horrible 1990s. Sometimes it seems it’s gotten so out of control, they’re in death wish mode.

    Comment by mossy — February 19, 2010 @ 3:17 am

  3. Don’t be angry with Rogozin, he is just having a well deserved laugh at Western misfortune. 🙂

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 19, 2010 @ 10:44 am

  4. My friend’s son has been paid sporadically and not the full pay since June last year. She just gets the pension and not in good health. They are desperate, and I do try to help. But how many others are in the same situation?????? I thank my lucky stars and my brain for leaving that cursed country 30 years ago and never looking back.

    Comment by voroBey — February 19, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

  5. Nice attempt to slander Rogozin without addressing the real substance of his withering critique of Western hubris.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 19, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  6. It’s interesting that LEOS, SUBLIME DURAK and crazed nationalist joke Dima Rogozin all choose to post comments on the Internet followed by smiley faces.

    Apparently, they think this makes them “withering” in the force of their remarks.

    Others think differently, and one would be hard pressed to show any actual influence that Rogozin has over NATO in any manner, which of course is his only job. To the contrary, he merely alienates all those he deals with in the West and makes Russia look like a nation of ignorant apes.


    Comment by La Russophobe — February 19, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

  7. @Leos–Yes, civilians get killed in war. But it is abundantly clear that (a) the US/NATO have undertaken unprecedented efforts to reduce the civilian death toll, and (b) the Taliban ruthlessly exploit civilians, including the widespread use of human shields, and are responsible for the vast bulk of Afghan civilian casualties. If you were a fair man, you would recognize that the US/NATO has put the lives of its own soldiers at substantially increased risk in order to save civilian lives. The Marjah operation is a case in point. Just as in Fallujah in Iraq in 2004, we made a concerted effort to warn the civilians of an impending attack, and to help them evacuate the city. This took away the element of surprise, and gave the Taliban time to make preparations that cost American and Afghan and coalition lives, even though they were militarily futile.

    And re Rogozin’s sense of humor at American misfortune. I guess somebody up to their neck in sh*t has the right to laugh at somebody who happened to get some mud spattered on their shoe. And it’s all so self-destructive, because if the US/NATO fails in Afghanistan, yeah, Rogozin and the other knuckle draggers will get their yucks, but Russia will suffer the most. The main target of the assault in Helmand is the opium trade. And you know exactly where a lot of that opium/heroin goes, Leos? Three guess, first two don’t count. That, plus the general flow of other problems that would go Russia’s way if Afghanistan reverts to the bad old ways should make Rogozin and his ilk spend a little less time indulging in their masturbatory schadenfreude and a little more time thinking as to how to do something, you know, actually constructive.

    @S/O. Spare me. I deconstructed Rogozin’s bullsh*t in my original post. “Withering critique” my ass. The only thing withering is Russia.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 19, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  8. @voroBey and LR and Mossy–the comments re unemployment and wage arrears are interesting, and related. Arguably it is the case that Russia’s unemployment has not shot up as much as one would expect given the steepness of its economic decline because wages are much more flexible downwards there than in the US or Europe. Rather than become unemployed, Russians accept huge wage arrears, or sharply reduced workweeks, or other sources of pay cuts. In contrast, in the US/Europe, wages are pretty sticky downwards, and reduced demand results primarily in layoffs rather than wage cuts.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 19, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  9. @ La Russophobe

    Didn’t you recently claim at Kozlovsky’s blog that you don’t refer to Russians as apes?

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 19, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

  10. @ Professor

    Fallujah resembled very much what the Serbs did in Srebrenica, they also allowed women and children to leave while and they massacred the able bodied male population of the city. Do you not think the Chechens do not use civilians as human shields? Anyway this discussion is akin to ‘my s*it smells better than yours.’

    The Taliban government almost eradicated the opium trade, then came regime change and with it a rapid rise in production of opium. It is in the interests of the Afghans to have opium gone because guess what? A lot of Afghans get high too. However the Americans were probably experimenting with free market, while maintaining a weak Kabul government. So, please don’t invite the Russians to give a helping hand, you have screwed things up a lot already. Besides Russia (and perhaps China too) has a less of an interest in having American military bases in its backyard than having to deal with suicide bombers here and there. The reasons should be obvious.

    If Russia is withering, I don’t know where the US stands. You might be having a laugh at Russian provincial cities, however Detroit is doomed. We might also look at some Californian foreclosure ghost towns. Your unemployment figures are also nothing to be proud of. So tell me, does it make you feel good that a far away place like Russia is withering?

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 19, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  11. @Leos–You are utterly, abjectly wrong about Fallujah. It bore no resemblance to Srebernica. None whatsoever. This “massacring the able bodied male population” is utterly false. All that was left was Al Qaeda types who either ran or fought. If they fought, they died. There were no massacres in soccer stadiums, etc.

    What matters is today. Today the Taliban is deeply involved with the heroin business. It is their source of money.

    The US isn’t in great shape. You would know I don’t think it is if you read what I write about the US. But Russia and the US are light years apart when it comes to “withering.” And who said I feel good about Russia withering? That’s your projection, not my views.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 19, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

  12. Are you sure the only men left inside were Al-Qaeda types? There is information out there which suggest it wasn’t like that.

    Today is more than 8 years after the invasion and it we can clearly see the fruits of this labour.

    So tell me is Russia having such a massive debt? Is it engaged in two highly expensive and pointless conflicts?

    Thank you for answering my question about your feelings.

    I think the argument of whether Americans are more moral and less withered than the Russians is pointless.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 19, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  13. As usual, Leos and the gang have waved the little birdie and moved our attention to a discussion of US actions in Afghanistan. So let’s move the focus back to what Rogozin said. He is the Russian rep to NATO. He didn’t give a critique of military strategy in Afghanistan. He didn’t discuss tactics. He didn’t offer, as he might have, and as apparently the Russian military did before the war, constructive suggestions — or even constructive criticism — based on Soviet experience. All he did was snark at US soldiers. They are namby-pamby cowards while our boys are heroic, brave soldiers. This is called “demonization.” It’s what you hear every friggin’ minute of the day on Russian TV. It is totally inappropriate for the Russian rep to NATO to engage in that kind of — well, let’s call a spade a spade — hate speech.

    On wage arears: when the crisis first hit, a lot of private firms went to three-day weeks, or even had people work without pay. But, to the best of my knowledge, budget workers (teachers, medical workers, militia etc.) who were working full-time were getting paid in full and on time. I could be wrong — there is no reporting on this — but now the problem is with budget folks not getting paid. Why is that? They’ve still got a ton of money. In any case, it seems like a dangerous thing to do. People are so fed up about so many things — the Rechnik fiasco, the rogue cops, poor snow removal, utility fee hikes — why risk tipping them over the edge by not paying them on time?

    Comment by mossy — February 20, 2010 @ 4:05 am

  14. Leos, and perhaps not only him, is in a struggle for his identity. He is equilibrating on the edge. Any criticism of Russia throws him off the shaky balance he has achieved so far. Someone with no identity crisis could take the criticism quite easily – and the absolute majority of Russians do it.

    Leos has my sympathy but the question is why the readers of this blog should carry the burden of his identity struggle… 😉

    Comment by MJ — February 20, 2010 @ 7:31 am

  15. +++while our boys are heroic, brave soldiers+++

    Not to mention this is simply a myth – a very damaging one, with lots of possible negative effects. The historical record shows Russians to be generally very bad soldiers – except the occasions where someone else was supplying and feeding them, like during the second half of WWII.

    Of course, this is not what they teach kids in Russia.

    Comment by LL — February 20, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  16. Leos–You made a very specific accusation, that in Fallujah the US military carried out a Srebernica-style massacre of all “able bodied men.” For which you offered no evidence whatsoever. For which there is no credible evidence whatsoever. There were civilian casualties in the taking of Fallujah–no doubt. There always are, especially in urban combat. (Think, I don’t know, Berlin 1945 or Grozny in the 1990s). The numbers are unknown and unknowable, but the US military made a concerted effort to avoid said casualties, and in so doing put the lives of US troops at greater risk. And it is essential to remember the fundamental choice involved: clean out Fallujah, or leave it a festering sore under the control of murderous fanatics who were killing and brutalizing civilians with reckless abandon. The choice was not between leaving an idyllic paradise undisturbed and laying waste to it. It was between removing a cancer and letting it metastasize.

    “Information out there.” Really. Be specific: you made the allegation, so you back it up. I know there is a lot of disinformation out there. Do you know the difference?

    There are two controversial incidents regarding Fallujah–(1) the limited use of white phosphorous as an anti-personnel weapon, and (2) the killing, caught on tape, of a wounded enemy fighter, by a US Marine. (1) was initially denied, then admitted. (2) was highly ambiguous, and a not uncommon event in combat. If you doubt that, read something like Keegan’s Face of Battle and its chapters on ambiguities and dangers of surrender.

    Again: There is no credible evidence of a Srebernica-style massacre, or anything even orders of magnitude smaller.

    As for the fruits of the invasion, they are not quite so bad as you suggest, nor quite so good as hoped by its architects.

    Re quality of soldiers (e.g., LL). Well, you compare the fiascos in Grozny with Fallujah and you certainly have a pretty good metric of the current relative capabilities.

    Also, your backing away from a particular debate–which you initiated, with a stereotypical salvo of “whataboutism”–as pointless is very telling.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 20, 2010 @ 10:54 am

  17. @ Prof.

    The Serbs also attacked Srebrenica with the same logic. They needed to clean it out of the cancer, otherwise it would be under control of murderous fanatics who were killing and brutalizing Serbian civilians with reckless abandon. In fact the Americans moved into Fallujah after their contractors got grilled, no concern for civilian welfare in the meantime. There are a lot of similarities, I don’t have to provide you with an essay long comparative discussion here.

    I am not backing off from the discussion, I just said it’s pointless. We are discussing which of the t*rds smell better, that’s what it is.

    @ mossy

    Printing money, aren’t we?

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 20, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

  18. @ LL

    My great grandfather was taken from a Stalinist prison camp and sent to Finland, as a political prisoner of course he was the first line and no wonder-working American supplies were coming his way. Guess what? He survived.

    That’s what they teach kids.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 20, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  19. Leos, it’s ironic that you mention the Soviet-Finnish War, because that war is a textbook example of how inept the Red Army was against a small but well-trained and determined adversary.

    Comment by peter — February 21, 2010 @ 6:47 am

  20. Yes that is true, but the failure of leadership does not mean Russians are bad soldiers. Nevertheless they managed to seize a part of Finnish territory, not the other way around. Also looking at history, I don’t know which outside power supported Dmitry Donskoy and Alexander Nevskiy. So LL witless historical comment is worthless. 😉

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 21, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

  21. Nevertheless they managed to seize a part of Finnish territory, not the other way around.

    You don’t seem to realize that, population-wise, Finland is about the size of, say, Georgia.

    Comment by peter — February 21, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  22. The British, their empire including, were also more numerous than the Boers.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 21, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  23. Your point being?

    Comment by peter — February 21, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

  24. LEOS:


    Our comment was: “makes Russia look like a nation of ignorant apes”

    Get it, moron? LOOK LIKE. Not ARE, but LOOK LIKE.

    We refer to SOME Russians and Russophiles (YOU, for instance) as apes. Then we apologize. To apes. And we say some of those apes make the whole country LOOK LIKE apes. And that means WE DO NOT THINK they are and hence should not be made to look like that.

    Your damnable lies are of the same kind, hilariously idiotic, that destroyed the USSR and made it the laughingstock of the planet. Why are you trying to do the same to Russia?

    Your need to smear us with lies only makes it clear to all thinking people that you cannot make any reasoned attack on the substance of our reporting, and therefore confirm it to be true and lash out in desperate frustration, just as they lashed out in Soviet times against the likes of Solzhenitsyn.

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 21, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  25. All this anti-Russian vitriol is just further proof if needed (which, let’s face it, we don’t) that Rogozin is 100% correct in the substance of his criticism, even though some details may be subject to hyperbolic flourishes. There cannot be a better Russian rep to NATO.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 21, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

  26. @ La Russophobe

    I knows it hurts 🙂 Well, the ‘apes comment’ is not the only thing and you know it. Your blog contains much more crunchy material than that. Don’t try invoking Solzhenitsyn here, he was a Russian patriot who would most probably give you a firm rebuke.

    @ peter

    Does the Boorish insurgency make the British bad soldiers?

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 22, 2010 @ 4:42 am

  27. No. Why?

    Comment by peter — February 22, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

  28. LEOS:

    You are truly demented. Our blog’s translation of material from the Russian has been cited BY THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. We are one of the most powerful and influential commentators on Russia IN THE WORLD TODAY.

    You, meanwhile, are an insignficant little cockroach sniping from the gutter out of frustration that you cannot lay a glove on us.

    Your suggestion that we are somehow hiding our contempt for those who would destroy Russia FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN A CENTURY is ludicrous beyond words. We are very proud of rhetoric which the Washington Post’s Russia correspondent has called “ferocious” and we’ll go right on using it. As we clearly explain on our blog, one of its side benefits is that the tiny minority of scumbags who focus on it, like you, mark themselves immediately as Russophile collaborators.

    People have been lobbing silly charges like yours at us for YEARS, without the slightest success except in generating even more publicity and an even wider audience.

    We’re laughing at you, silly little clown. Dance for our amusement whilst you can, until the corpse of Russia falls on you and you are nothing but a wisp of fetid dust.

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 22, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  29. @ La Russophobe

    Sorry girl, but the only thing you are hiding is the identity of you and your helpers, which is just pathetic.

    @ peter

    Read the thread and think a little.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 22, 2010 @ 11:50 pm

  30. I have. As usual, all I’ve seen from you is a couple of false analogies, an attempt at anecdotal evidence, some red herring, and a lot of non sequitur. Have I missed something?

    Comment by peter — February 23, 2010 @ 5:43 am

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