Streetwise Professor

February 2, 2012

SWP Interview on Robert Amsterdam’s Website

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 4:33 pm

I am interviewed here about Putin’s Vedemosti article on his economic program.

Though not specifically SWP-related, I did think it interesting that the Moscow Times uses a cartoon of Putin on a hamster wheel to illustrate this Andrei Piontkovsky opinion piece; Putinism as the hamster wheel from hell being a long-running theme here.  Interesting to see that meme becoming more widespread.

The Vedemosti piece is actually a perfect illustration of the hamsterwheel-nature of Putinism.  As I say in the interview, Putin is in effect saying: “This never worked before, so let’s try it again.”

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19 Comments »

  1. Hamster wheel gone wrong – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49Ipinj02GM

    Comment by Anders — February 2, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  2. Congrats! Mr. Amsterdam has always been a voice that I have admired, even when I wanted to disagree with him.

    Comment by sotos — February 2, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  3. You seem a lot more calm, and less prone to hurling obscenities, in real life than on this blog.

    http://www.truthandbeauty.ru/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/TB-Enter-Dragon-Smoking.pdf

    Some great clips from the latest Eric Kraus Truth and Beauty and Russian Finance, very relevant both to l’affaire Litvinenko and Andy Dzughashvili’s evaluation of Georgia’s tie-eating President:

    One of the most extraordinary stories we have come across in recent years was recently published in a Miami newspaper, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2011-11-17/news/russianbillionaires-battle-for-fisher-island/, A must-read, it documents how Boris Berezovsky almost certainly poisoned his friend the Georgian oligarch (and Saakashvilli opponent) Arkady Patarkatsishvili, then drugged and kidnapped Emanuel Zeltser, the lawyer managing the Patarkatsishvili estate, who was shipped unconscious to Belarus in Berezovsky’s private
    jet where he was beaten, enduring a series of torture sessions followed by a 16-month period of imprisonment under grim conditions, ending only with the personal intervention of no less than Hilary Clinton (Zeltser is a US citizen). A John LeCarre novel, but in real life.

    This seems highly relevant to the Litvinenko case, given that the one person who stood to gain from the polonium poisoning of Litvinienko was Berezovsky. Litvinienko had worked for Berezovsky since his defection from Russia, but having long ago told all that he knew, and notoriously difficult to control, he was no longer useful; while the ex-oligarch was reportedly trying to cut him loose, this was not proving as
    easy as hoped for, and Litvinienko was causing problems by free-lancing for various shady interests. From day one the entire affaire was stage-managed by Goldfarb, a Berezovsky henchman, who also released posthumously Litvinenko’s moving, poetic death bed letter blaming Vladimir Putin for his poisoning – a letter drafted in beautiful, flowing prose, but purportedly written by a man who could hardly speak enough English to order a beer – even when healthy – and who was then at death’s door (how odd that no one in the Western press thought to challenge them on such an obvious implausibility). Of course, anything which fits with the “Putin Eats Babies” line suits the interests of the
    British political establishment – which will happily sell political asylum to Eastern-European gangsters, provided they are wealthy enough to feather a few British nests.

    and this too:

    There have been warnings that Putin would use the British admission [about the radio transmitter rock] to clamp down on NGOs; one would certainly hope that he does precisely that!

    Is it conceivable that the UK would allow dozens of Kremlin-funded political organizations to function unmolested in London? Would the FBI tolerate covert Russian funding of the US political establishment? While the American Neocons were proud to take credit for the “coloured revolutions” in the ex-Soviet space, Putin’s angry assertion that the US – in particular Mrs Clinton – was interfering in Russian internal affaires by trying to foment protests was airily dismissed.

    In fact, what is quite extraordinary is that any sane person should have the slightest doubt that Washington is doing whatever it can to influence the Russian political process – interference in the affaires of rivals is simply what empires do…The US spends untold billions on the CIA, as well as funding numerous public, semi-public and covert operations. The private sector spends hundred of millions – probably billions – more on a vast network of NGOs, think tanks, and political initiatives. Considering the fact that Putin’s Russia increasingly constitutes a major stumbling block for American foreign policy, to imagine that a large part of this spending is not directed
    towards securing regime change in Russia would be naïve in the extreme.

    The return of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency and the demise of the Medvedev foreign policy line seal the demise of the
    misnamed “reset,” signalling a more assertive Russian foreign policy – anathema to the US. In collaboration with China, Russia has blocked UN
    Security Council action on Iran and Syria, frustrating attempts of by the West to resolve the matter by aerial bombardment. Having learned
    the lessons from Medvedev’s abstention on Libya, Russia is now being quite assertive in its attempt to block foreign-sponsored regime change in Syria.

    And lastly, to throw one big hunk of intrigue into the hopper, since Andy Dzughashvili insists I know nothing about Syria simply because I haven’t been there but have been to neighboring Israel and the bordering Golan Heights instead, I have to say there seems to be some clash going on between the Israeli Foreign Ministry led by the Russia-friendly Lieberman and the IDF, or at least the IDF spokesperson’s office that just casually tossed out an unsubstantiated claim today that Russia is somehow arming Iran, without presenting the slightest evidence to support this claim.

    I suspect there are certain elements in D.C. and Jerusalem that are eager to snuff the nascent Israel-Russia rapprochement out, by any means necessary. After all, the very existence of defense and high-tech sharing ties between Moscow and Jerusalem is a huge embarassment to the neocons that insist Russia is Israel’s mortal enemy or at least bosom buddies with Israeli enemies…while these same neocons pal around with the Muslim Brotherhood and insist it’s now a respectable, mainstream force despite Hamas and the Islamic Jihad being offshoots of the good ole’ MBO the neocons empowered in Libya and Egypt and want to put in power in Damascus.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 2, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  4. Peace out, stay thirsty my friends Tim and Pahoben. Take a chill pill Anders and Andy. The evil globalist empire that has hijacked America is falling apart along with the fiat Monopoly money that sustains it. The elitists better have an army of SkyNet style drones at their beck and call because for darn sure the military isn’t going to obey orders to start locking up citizens under NDAA.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 2, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

  5. Thank you Sublim moron X

    WHATABOUT A smear campaign against Robert Amsterdam ?

    Russian mobsters and their US confederates continue this smear campaign to this day in a hopeless quest to intimidate and silence Mr. Zeltser and the Institute.

    Congressman Curt Weldon

    “While the U.S. and the West were bailing out Russia’s economy with money from the IMF and the World Bank, 700 Russian officials were reaping the financial benefits of insider trading…”

    “… corrupt officials supply the [Russian] crime syndicates with export licenses, customs clearances, tax exemptions and government contracts. Officials of law enforcement and security services provide criminals with protection from arrest and prosecution.”
    John Deutch, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

    “It is truly impossible in many instances to differentiate between Russian organized crime and the Russian state”
    Congressman
    Ben Gilman

    “Organized crime shaped the post communist Russian banking industry and now manages it.”
    FBI Director
    Louis Freeh

    “Russia is the biggest mafia state in the world, the super power of crime that is devouring the state from top to bottom.”

    Testifying before the House Banking Committee former CIA Director R. James Woolsey warned the members of Congress: “Russian organized crime can use its resources to corrupt institutions here in the United States. The recent case involving the Bank of New York may prove to be one such example.” “Regrettably I must agree with Mr. Woolsey”, said Mr. Zeltser, “it is unfortunate that one of the oldest financial institutions in this country and even its attorneys have carried this vendetta against the Institute at the behest of the ROC – – becoming de facto spokesmen for the Russian mob.”

    Russian mobsters and their US confederates continue this smear campaign to this day in a hopeless quest to intimidate and silence Mr. Zeltser and the Institute.

    http://moscowtelegraph.com/redwash/russianmob_v_zeltser.htm

    Comment by Anders — February 3, 2012 @ 1:46 am

  6. Russian mobsters and their US confederates continue this smear campaign

    Thank you Sublim moron X

    WHATABOUT A smear campaign against Robert Amsterdam ?

    One of the most popular slogans during the December protests in Moscow and other cities was “Putin is a thief!” — and, as Putin himself reminded us in his 2010 televised call-in show, “A thief should sit in jail.” This may be one of the main reasons Putin will never step down from power. Ever.

    According to The New Times Oct. 31 cover story, “Russia, Inc.: How Putin and Co. Divided Up the Country,” Putin and his inner circle control from 10 percent to 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (from $140 billion to $200 billion) through inside deals. Andrei Illarionov, former economic adviser to then-President Putin from 2000 to 2005, described Putin’s “Russia, Inc.” as “a corporatist state model.” U.S. diplomats put it a little less diplomatically in cables that WikiLeaks published a year ago, describing Russia as “a virtual mafia state” with Putin as the “alpha dog” sitting at the top of this structure.

    The best, and perhaps only, guarantee of securing immunity for Putin — and dozens of his friends and colleagues who have become millionaires and billionaires over the past 10 years through their Kremlin-connected businesses — against possible corruption and other criminal charges is to remain in power.

    As long as Putin remains in control, Western leaders will continue to do business as usual with him and his administration, and they will ignore or downplay allegations of corruption at the very top. After all, the West has shown many times that it doesn’t have a problem having close ties with leaders with shady reputations, such as former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak or the king of Saudi Arabia, when it is in its best interests.

    But imagine if opposition leader Alexei Navalny, for example, ever came to power and Putin becomes just an ordinary citizen. Putin understands that one of the first things Navalny would do after freeing former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky from prison would be to appoint an independent tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of power among Putin and his ruling elite.

    The Yukos affair alone would probably be enough to put those who conspired to expropriate the country’s largest and most-profitable oil company — worth $45 billion in market capitalization before Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 — in jail for the rest of their lives. Along with Yukos, the tribunal could investigate corruption charges against Kremlin-connected executives at Gazprom, VTB, Transneft, Russian Technologies, National Media Group, Gunvor, the Rotenberg brothers’ enterprises, Bank Rossia, arms trader Rosoboronexport and dozens of other companies that make up Putin’s “Russia, Inc.”

    How would the West respond? In an effort to support a new, liberal administration, the West could target the Putin era in a showcase battle against a corrupt regime that fell out of favor.

    Libya is a good example of how the West can change loyalties 180 degrees when it is expedient to do so. From 2003 to 2010, the West had normal relations with leader Moammar Gadhafi. In 2004, for example, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed Gadhafi as a new ally in the war on terror while helping Royal Dutch Shell secure a deal in Libya worth $500 million. In addition, the United States restored diplomatic relations with Libya in 2006, and Gadhafi had a seat next to Silvio Berlusconi and Barack Obama at the Group of Eight summit in L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009.

    But in early 2011, after Gadhafi forces carried out a violent crackdown on tens of thousands of protesters, the West quickly changed sides. It froze $30 billion of Gadhafi’s assets; Interpol and The Hague-based International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against Gadhafi, several of his sons and Libya’s intelligence chief; and by July, most of the West had recognized the anti-Gadhafi National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya.

    A similar fate could await Putin. The West could conceivably turn against him if protests in Moscow and other cities grow to 500,000 or more people and continue on a regular basis. This happened 20 years ago when the West actively supported Boris Yeltsin against another corrupt and authoritarian regime after hundreds of thousands of his supporters held street protests in August 1991.

    In a worst-case scenario, Putin and his inner circle could try to escape justice by fleeing to a friendly country, such as Belarus — not the best place to spend the rest of their lives, but it sure beats a prison cell in Krasnokamensk or even The Hague. If they take enough money with them, they could set up a luxurious retirement community — an enhanced Belarussian version of Putin’s Ozero dacha cooperative — and join former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who escaped corruption charges by fleeing to Belarus in 2010.

    The current criminal trial of Mubarak, who is accused of embezzling as much as $70 billion, shows the danger of giving up power peacefully — even when you are 83, dying from cancer and presumably were given an unwritten guarantee of immunity. The conviction on corruption charges against another elderly, ailing world leader, former French President Jacques Chirac, also must have given Putin a slight scare.

    Kim Jong Il, however, showed that the best way to preserve immunity from criminal prosecution is by staying in power until death. Putin — no less than Kim, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev or Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko — understands that he can never afford to give up power while he is still alive.

    This means that we can expect much more than 12 years of Putin in power. At the end of the next two presidential terms, Putin will only be 72, and at that age he will probably still be in his political prime. What’s more, Putin, as he reminded us during his New Year’s greetings several weeks ago, was born in the year of the dragon — and, according to Chinese astrologers, those born in dragon years tend to enjoy health, wealth and a long life.

    Regardless of whether you believe in astrology or not, this is a bad sign for Russia’s future.

    Comment by Anders — February 3, 2012 @ 1:55 am

  7. The drunk and corrupt Sublim moron X can go to bed to night . http://robertamsterdam.com/2012/02/russias-media-censorship-loosens/

    The French producers initially worked for Russian TV company NTV to expand their program “Sugar of Ryazan” and later to TV-6. When TV-6 channel was closed by Russian authorities, the film was 70% completed. The remained of funds was provided by Boris Berezovsky.[2]
    Leader of party Liberal Russia, Sergei Yushenkov flew to the premier on March 5, 2002 in London, to announce that his party is going to distribute copies of the film around the country to demonstrate “how the secret services deceived Russian citizens”.
    This film was broadcast by the main TV channels of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.[2] Russian Deputy Yuli Rybakov brought a hundred copies to St. Petersburg, but the copies were confiscated at customs in violation of his parliamentary immunity. No TV station in Russia was able to show the film. Tens of thousands of copies were sold in Russia in 2002.[2] Sergei Yushenkov presented the film at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2002, decrying lack of civilian control over the Russian armed forces including the secret services.[4] A staffer in Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, “We just cannot go out and say that the president of Russia is a mass murderer. But it is important that we know it.”[2]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw07vTRUcy8

    Comment by Anders — February 3, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  8. @Andy Dzhugashvili,

    Just came across this update to a report on international student performance in literacy, math, and science. As someone who constantly riffs on about how stupid Russians are I thought you’d be interested in admiring the achievements of your new homeland.

    Georgia’s students attained an average score on the reading literacy level below the average attained in all OECD countries. Georgia’s average score was below the average attained in all OECD countries. Georgia’s average score is the same as those of Qatar, Peru and Panama. 38% of students in Georgia are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. The majority of students therefore perform below the baseline level of proficiency in reading.
    Georgia’s students attained an average score in the mathematical literacy scale below the average of all OECD nations. In Georgia, 31% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Georgia, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
    Georgian students were estimated to have an average score on the scientific literacy scale below the average of all OECD countries. In Georgia, 34% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Georgia, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

    Quite a decline under Fuhrer Saakashvili from the days when Georgians were one of the most literate nationalities in the Russian Empire…

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 3, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  9. There’s something slightly insane about a Kiwi adopting fanatical Georgian nationalism. I liken it to a Danish college student showing up in Mexico, getting a tan, and having ‘LA RAZA’ tattooed across his freshly shaved head and start wearing a Santa Muerte t-shirt. Andy is more fanatically Georgian nationalist than all the prim, smart but reserved power-behind-the-throne Georgians I’ve met in Moscow, whom I’ve always gone out of my way to compliment when Andy accuses me of being racist towards Caucasians. And Armenians are truly Jewish-like in their ability to punch well above their share of the population in achievement in Russia…but Andy true to the current zeitgeist set by the Tie Eater depicts Armenians as Uncle Toms and Azeris as ‘keepin’ it real’. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so bizarre.

    And lastly, since he said only weirdo fanboys, ‘racists’, ‘Ronulans’, and ‘Paulbots’ endorse Ron Paul…on the heels of the manager of the LARGEST BOND PORTFOLIO IN THE WORLD Bill Gross of PIMCO endorsing Brother Ron, here comes Mark Faber, a German national who makes his home in the laissez faire paradise of Hong Kong…also endorsing Ron Paul! Damn, how is the Professor going to spin away this one?

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/marc-faber-ron-paul-would-be-very-good-president

    Comment by Mr. X — February 3, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  10. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/NB04Ag01.html

    And for the record SWP, John Helmer who’s actually on the scene in Moscow concurs with my analysis that the most likely heir to the Putin ‘throne’ is…Dmitry Rogozin.

    I sense you subconsciously realize this too which is why you’re seeking out his most bombastic (one aircraft carrier per year?) quotes. At any rate, S/O is right that most of the manned weapons systems currently under development could be rendered obsolete by swarms of autonomous (i.e. hacker-resistant) drones, and that you will likely see, given the Jewish State’s traditional role as the country in the world that most fears massive attack from its enemies, Israeli-Russian technology sharing on various means to kill and take down large numbers of drones while leaving people and buildings intact i.e. EMP beam/scatter bursters, perhaps using gas fired or portable jet fuel/engine turbines as a power source.

    At any rate, there will be no heir who will consent to returning Russia to the beneficial overlordship of a’s plutocratic globalist bosses i.e. George Soros, Maurice Strong, the Big Six (or is the Five Families?) of JP Morgan, Goverment Sachs, $itibank, et al.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 3, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

  11. I don’t think that anyone says that the Russians are stupid as individuals, but that their state is dysfunctional and destroying them – having beaten many into despair, drunkenness, etc. As regards to statistics re education, I would not trust any statistics from Putin’s hands.

    Comment by sotos — February 3, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  12. Sotos, watch this video carefully, especially part 4:47 where ex-USAF spec ops pilot John Robb tells a Casey Research audience how America’s own ‘spetsnaz’ are coming home from Afghanistan to joblessness and increasing lawlessness — just like the Afgansy and Chechnya veterans in the good ole’ post-Soviet 1990s. The results — considering how hyperviolent the Mexican drug trade has become — may be quite predictable. But that is a parallel the Professor dare not examine.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4SsHLg2J8k

    Good night, and good luck friends.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 3, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

  13. Sublime retardation,

    The decline in Georgian educational standards has been the result of the deliberate dismemberment of the Georgian state by Russia upon independence.

    Due to Russian aggression, sponsorship of separatism, economic blockades and the Russian sponsored overthrow of the first elected president of independent Georgia, and the resulting massive damage to the social and economic fabric of Georgia, by 2003 Georgia was a failed state.

    The situation is improving, but to repair the damage caused by two centuries of Russian occupation and oppression will take time.

    Blaming everything on Saakashvili is typical of your lack of understanding, lack of research, and your general stupidity.

    BTW, the HDI (Human Development Index) puts both Georgia and Russia in the same bracket of “High Human Development” Russia gets a .755, Georgia .733

    Given the massive resources available to Russia, the limited resources available to Georgia, and the constant actions by Russia to destabilize and undermine its much smaller neighbor, Georgia is doing very well.

    In fact, according to the UNDP, Georgia scores higher on education than Russia.
    Also on health, Georgia falls behind in income however.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index
    http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/GEO.html
    http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/RUS.html

    Once again an epic fail from the Berkely fag Sublime Retardation.

    Comment by Andrew — February 4, 2012 @ 1:09 am

  14. Thank you Sublim moron X

    WHATABOUT A smear campaign against Jews and Georgians ?

    The Sublim morons have quite a decline under tie-eating Fuhrer Vladimir Putin –

    First, corruption may be the defining issue of the 2007 parliamentary and 2008
    presidential elections. Given the current level of corruption in Russia, incumbents will
    not want to leave office for fear of losing access to the power that provides their wealth
    and, possibly, of facing prosecution. Once in power, a new group would be eager to
    take over the property that Putin’s group now controls. Already there is an increasingly
    visible division within the elite, with numerous battles taking place between different
    factions of the law enforcement community.

    Such a battle is also apparent in the formation of political parties. Russia’s
    bureaucrats have essentially established their own political party in the form of United
    Russia, the current party of power. This group has no ideological foundation and is
    united on the basis of preserving the power of current officeholders. Even here,
    however, there are splits, as the Kremlin has increasingly given support to an
    alternative party of power in the form of Sergei Mironov’s Just Russia.

    The political opposition, which includes the Union of Right-Wing Forces and the
    Communist Party of the Russian Federation, has already made clear that it will make
    anti-corruption its main campaign slogan in the elections. This theme is the most
    powerful tool that the Kremlin’s opponents have in their struggle against the
    incumbents. United Russia also plans to emphasize the battle against corruption,
    though it is not clear how much traction its members will gain campaigning against
    their own abuses.

    Ultimately, the parties’ use of these slogans will have little to do with stimulating a
    real campaign against corruption. Each side will deploy claims of corruption against the
    other only as a way of gaining electoral support.

    Media

    Putin’s systematic crackdown on the Russian media is consistent with efforts on the
    part of his administration to cover up corruption among public servants. Russia’s three
    main television networks are now either controlled directly by the state or by Gazprom,
    the majority of which is owned by the state. At the same time, there has been a
    crackdown on the print media, with Kremlin-friendly companies taking over the most
    interesting non-state-controlled publications. There is less direct supervision of the
    regional media and the internet, but the direction of Kremlin policy is clear, even if it is
    still uncertain how far political authorities will go in attempting to staunch the flow of
    information.

    To some degree, Russia’s top leadership must be careful in how it handles the
    remaining independent media. To rule effectively, the leaders need to have feedback
    about the impact of their policies in Russia’s regions. Without this feedback, they could
    make unpopular mistakes that could fuel the rise of a serious opposition.

    CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF CORRUPTION IN PUTIN’S RUSSIA

    Center-Periphery Relations

    Anti-corruption has been one of the main tools the Kremlin has used in its battle against
    Russia’s regional leaders. Now, for the first time, one of Russia’s governors is sitting in
    jail, and several others are facing charges of abuse of office. As the elections near,
    however, the Kremlin will most likely retreat from these tactics. It will need the
    governors’ political machines to organize regional voters in favor of Kremlin-backed
    candidates. Without the governors’ support, this effort will not succeed. As in other
    spheres, the Kremlin’s attack on corruption among the regional elite is a political tool
    rather than a real anti-corruption campaign.

    State-Business Relations

    The field for corrupt practices is increasing in Russia’s crucial energy sector as the state
    takes over more assets. Beyond purchasing a majority stake in Gazprom, the state has
    transferred the assets of the oil company Yukos to the state-controlled Rosneft. The state
    also enjoys monopoly ownership of Russia’s oil pipelines through Transneft. Kremlin
    officials sit on the boards of key energy companies, and Russia is exerting increasing
    pressure on foreign firms active in the energy sector.

    Banking has long been one of the most corrupt sectors of the economy. The state has
    made little progress in reforming Russia’s financial institutions, and the formal
    ownership and activities of many Russian banks remains opaque. The assassination in
    September 2006 of Andrei Kozlov, Russia’s top bank regulator, will further slow efforts
    to clean up the system. Kozlov guided work to shut down banks suspected of money
    laundering and other abuses.

    Russia’s businessmen have not sought to address the problem. A recent World Bank
    survey suggests that 20 percent of Russian businesses do not see anything wrong with
    paying bribes. Research among business people in St. Petersburg demonstrates that
    they would generally prefer to pay a bribe than engage in efforts to reform the overall
    system. If business groups do not take action against corruption in Russia, it is hard to
    see who will.

    Organized Crime and Terrorism

    Corruption is a necessary facilitator for Russia’s extensive organized crime and terrorist
    networks. Corruption within the law enforcement agencies makes it possible for
    criminal and terror groups to operate on Russian territory, while corruption within the
    customs service and border guard facilitates the transport of illicit goods across Russian
    borders. It will be impossible for Russia to address these problems without first
    reducing the amount of corruption in state agencies.

    One clear indicator of the link between corruption and organized crime is a spate of
    assassinations of deputy mayors responsible for managing municipal property in
    Russian cities. These officials become targets since they control access to the city’s best
    retail space. They risk paying with their life if their actions run counter to the interests
    of one or another criminal group.

    ROBERT ORTTUNG

    Addressing Corruption

    Four components would define an effective anti-corruption policy in Russia. The first
    would be to scale back and reform the current bureaucracy. The second would be to
    allow society to hold its government accountable. Typically, this would include a free
    press, an active and independent civil society, and competitive elections. A third feature
    of an anti-corruption policy would be the decentralization of power from the federal
    level to regional and local levels, providing for a system of checks and balances between
    the three levels of government. Finally, Russia should try to address inequality between
    Moscow and St. Petersburg and the rest of the country. Greater economic development
    in the regions will provide a strong foundation for reducing corruption.

    Unfortunately, the trend lines in all these areas are moving in the wrong direction.
    The bureaucracy is growing, the Russian state is increasingly less accountable, power is
    becoming more centralized, and the gap between center and regions is widening. U.S.
    policymakers and observers should continue pointing out what is happening in Russia
    in order to help turn Russia’s fight against corruption from political slogans into
    realistic policy.

    President Obama mistakenly referred to the nation of Georgia as “Russia” after a bilateral meeting with the Georgian president — an unfortunate slip-up, given that the president was celebrating 20 years of Georgian independence from Soviet rule.

    “[O]ne of the first things that I did was express my appreciation for the institution-building that’s been taking place in Russia — in Georgia,” Obama told reporters following a meeting with Georgia’s President Saakashvili. Moments earlier, Obama had noted that it was “a wonderful occasion to have him here as we’ll be celebrating this year 20 years of independence for Georgia and the eighth anniversary of the Rose Revolution.”

    Comment by Anders — February 4, 2012 @ 2:59 am

  15. SOVIET propagandists during the cold war were trained in a tactic that their western interlocutors nicknamed “whataboutism”

    The Sublim Putin -mafia bootlicker always want to focus on the problems in USA . The personal blogg of the poor Berkley -boy is a interesting case to study . To study how the mafia supporters seek favor or attention by flattery and obsequious behavior. But it can be overdone—and in the case of Soviet propagandists, it was, and gave rise to subversive jokes For example: A caller to a radio program asks, “What is the average wage of an American manual worker?” A long pause ensues. Then the answer comes: “U nich negrov linchuyut” (“Over there they lynch Negroes”)—a phrase that, by the time of the Soviet collapse, had become a synecdoche for Soviet propaganda as a whole.

    The regime’s control over broadcast media served it well during the past decade, but as Russia’s governance and economy have deteriorated, the Kremlin-friendly version of reality on television may be drifting too far from ordinary Russians’ daily experiences and understanding of their country. A similar dynamic took hold in the dying days of the Soviet Union, when it became impossible for ordinary citizens to stomach the government-issued fantasy any longer.

    If such a rupture is now under way—and it is still an open question—the internet will have played a key role in bringing it about. Putin’s apparent failure to fully appreciate the threat posed by new media is consistent with his general reliance on old tricks, such as stoking anti-Americanism, in a rapidly shifting landscape. Indeed, as he prepares for another six years in office, he has made clear that he has no intention of changing the way he governs the country.

    The future of Russian media is therefore bound up with the outcome of the larger political battle. The coming days and weeks will tell whether a critical mass of Russians have seen enough of the status quo. http://www.freedomhouse.org/blog/russia-prepares-protests-new-media-battle-old

    Comment by Anders — February 4, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  16. Up to 150,000 Russians came out today to show they oppose foreign revolutionaries and tyrants in waiting.

    Mossy and the rest of the liberal brigade must be paralyzed with shock, if not weeping in anguish and frustration that even Muscovites don’t support their sick, liberal agenda.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 4, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  17. Thanks for being so predictable, S/O. Somebody asked me how you would respond to the protests. I said just look at the slogans from the pro-Putin paid rallies. And there you go, right on cue.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 4, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

  18. +++pro-Putin paid rallies+++

    According to various reports, the pay was about $30. Which, if one thinks of it, sounds like a veiled insult.

    Comment by LL — February 4, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  19. I like the way Sublime Retardation has not reacted to the fact that the UN rates the standard of education in Georgia higher than that in his beloved Russia but immediately falls into the “Tremble with fear” Sovok propaganda mode.

    Comment by Andrew — February 5, 2012 @ 1:00 am

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