Open Thread #2

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  1. PvMikhail says:

    Could anyone from the readers of this page imagine, that an article like this (western author, free of Saakashvili propaganda) can be found on the openDemocracy page? I was like: “Whaaaaaaaaat?”

    The topic is Abkhazia

    • I’d really love to read it, but 10,000 words… have to call tl;dr on it for now.

      • PvMikhail says:

        I have read it. It is worth reading, because it summarizes the WHOLE conflict… It’s like an university class about Abkhazia. I found it during my search for valuable reactions to Abkhazia’s first real census since 1990, which was in 2011. The results: roughly 240000 people, 50% Abkhazian, the others are Russians, Armenians and Kartvelians (Georgian-likes). Better than Saakashvili’s “estimate” of 150000 wildman who ethnically cleansed 500000 Georgian elderly&children… LOL

        • It is a good article and it has already provoked an angry response from the strongly anti Russian ex Labour MP Denis MacShane on its comment thread, who however (together with the other critics of the article in the comment thread) make no specific point in refutation of it.

          There are three observations I would make about the article

          1. It does take a perhaps rather uncritical view of Abkhaz actions. For example it all but denies that there was any ethnic cleansing of Georgians from Abkhazia after the war that happened there in the 1990s. I find that difficult to believe.

          2. Though the article says quite of lot of complimentary (and true) things about Russia its overall stance is to support Abkhaz independence. There is I know a minority view within the British foreign policy establishment that dogmatic support for Georgia’s maximalist position is undermining efforts to draw Abkhazia away from Russia. I suspect that the purpose of this article is to lend support to this view.

          3. The article does nonetheless give a fair and objective account of the origins of the 2008 war and shows that Russia was in no sense the aggressor in that war but acted at all times in conformity with its legal obligations and with international law.

  2. Latest demo-figures are in. Seems Russia just missed natural growth this year due to a poor December. Anyway, the deficit have shrunken to 2,600 for 2012 compared to 847,000 in 2005, not an awful development.

  3. Book recommendation: Former People, by Douglas Smith.
    A lot of the perceptions of the pre-Revolutionary Russian elite have been completely given over to post-Revolutionary Soviets and American (leftist) academics, leading to the almost universal impression of them as being useless, horrible parasites. This book about them and their fate is a nice correction of such impressions. The author claims it is the first such book devoted to that group, who have been inconvenient for most Soviet and western scholars.

    (As a personal aside, my Galician Russophile great-grandfather opened his estate to fleeing Whites, one of whom settled in his village and for the rest of his life enthralled the local villagers with his guitar-playing and singing)

  4. Anatoly,

    With respect to your ‘that’ll teach em’ — while I certainly can appreciate the irony of the EUrocrats who once pompously lectured Russia on the rule of law and financial stability deciding to simply steal 10 to 6.75% of all banked Cypriot savings, I cannot agree with the spirit that all the Russian money in Cyprus is somehow ‘dirty’ or is ‘evading’ Russian taxes. These smack of the rationalizations the Hagmar Schach…er, Wolfgang Schauble is touting today, saying poor German taxpayers couldn’t be expected to bailout rich Russian oligarchs, as if everyone who had savings in Cypriot banks was an oligarch (and I suspect it will soon come out in Kommersant that Abramovich or some other real oligarchs wire transferred large sums out of Cypriot banks just days before the hit — money buying private intelligence of the most useful sort, bugging the Cypriot minister’s calls should’ve been child’s play).

    It’s difficult to argue, had the Russian authorities pushed harder for a tax treaty in return for a bailout prior to this SHTF, that they wouldn’t have gotten it. On the other hand, I do suspect Ksenia Sobchak probably had a few thousand euros in Cyprus and at the very least got the 6.75% haircut if not the 10% one. While that brings me no schadenfraude, it is a lesson for certain jet-setting Russian liberals like Ponamorov that their money is NOT safe in the EU or perhaps someday soon even in the U.S. and UK from the depradations of Western chinovniks/banksters. And the fact that MF Global has now been scaled up in a larger test case, precisely as I warned Craig Pirrong and other Russophobic fanatics that it would be (and ‘doom porn’ purveyors and regular RT guests/hosts like Max Keiser and Gerald Celente also warned) should also give the Establishment worshipers and Occidental chauvinists pause.

    Even the Germans’ looming revolt against being model EUropeans and supporters of the Euro in favor of returning to the DM or “New Hanseatic League” EuroMark (Germany plus the Dutch, Finns, Czechs, Swedes and Danes and maybe Estonians) could be part of a larger Plan to bring Germany back towards its Eurasian destiny in the East — a defacto monetary alliance with Russia and China that you hinted at in your old essay “The Return of the Reich”.

  5. Why do you think Ukraine will join the CU this year?

  6. RusFed-o-phile says:

    Oops…Berezovksy commits suicide…allegedly because of severe depressions.

  7. Hot on the heels of the news that Britain finally agreed to extradite a Russian to Russia we have just had here perhaps in response one of the most extraordinary judgments ever made in the history of British jurisprudence. Specifically a British District Judge has refused a Russian request for the extradition to Russia of a Russian woman on the grounds that incarceration in the Russian penal system is in and of itself a form of mistreatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The District Judge went on to say that persons should only be extradited to Russia once Russia has satisfactorily proved that its penal system has been improved to the point where it is possible to say that imprisonment in a Russian prison is not mistreatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

    If one follows the logic of this decision then no one can be extradited from Britain to Russia at all regardless of any crime that may have been committed in Russia however serious.

    I hope I do not have to explain how utterly insane this decision is. So far as I am aware such a principle applies to no other country. For example I have not heard that criminals who have fled Brazil cannot be extradited to Brazil simply because the state of Brazil’s prisons is bad, even though it is a universally acknowledged fact that conditions in Brazilian prisons are very bad and certainly worse than those of prisons in Russia.

    It should be said that this judgment was made by a very junior judge and given its complete absurdity I presume it will be overturned on appeal. That such a ludicrous decision could have been made at all however illustrates the almost pathological hostility to Russia that exists here. Though I am no conspiracy theorist I cannot help but wonder whether this bizarre decision was made because of annoyance at the government’s decision to carry out an extradition to Russia.

    • There are different rankings.

      TBH I think 14th is far too optimistic. It’s probably closer to 49th than to 14th.

  8. Dear Anatoly,

    Jen on Kremlin Stooge has posted this utterly hilarious “parallel lives” photo series comparing Obama to Putin.

    Beyond the comedy there is here actually the point you have made. One of the reasons the western liberal elite dislikes Putin is the macho image he has in contrast to Obama’s.

  9. I wonder what the reaction will be to the fact that the Boston terrorists were Chechen refugees.

    • One can only speculate, but I’ve noticed an odd thing. In the old days, terrorists worked differently: they blew something up, immediately claimed they did it, then issued demands. In recent Chechen (or other jihadi) terrorism, the tendency is just to blow something up without making a statement afterwards. That was true of subway bombings in Moscow, and it’s true of this attack in Boston. What’s the point of this kind of “mystery terrorism,” where the police have to figure out who did it?

      • The consensus among my Ukrainian and Russian facebook friends is amazement that the USA would let Chechens into the country.

        • It’s what’s written on the Statue of Liberty pedestal that has gulled many US citizens over the years and has given carte blanche to anyone or group that claim that their freedom and human rights have been infringed upon:

          “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
          With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
          Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
          A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
          Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name,
          Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
          Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
          The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
          “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
          With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
          Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
          The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
          Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
          I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    • It’s been reported that in 2011 “at the request of a foreign government” FBI interviewed the older brother, who had been in and out of Russia. The FBI let him go. I’m going to guess that the foreign government was the Russian government.

  10. alcestiseshtemoa says:

    Since Russia Debate is closing down and being terminated, I have a personal question.

    How many redheads are there in Russia? In particular redhead men? What regions? Because it seems that most Russian men are either (light) brunettes or (dark) blondes.

    Just another thing in my three-bullet point list (e.g. Russian, Orthodox, working to middle-class) to find a man for marriage, future children and family.

    If the redhead stuff is too much, I can always switch from 4 point bullet points to 3 bullet points (the original plan), again. The requirements are roughly on par and it’s almost assortive mating (e.g. I’m brunette, biracial and half-Russian, middle-class and abandoned my parents proclivity for heretical Anglo-Protestantism towards Eastern Orthodoxy).

  11. Does anybody have any info on what really happened some days ago concerning customs inspections at the Ukrainian-Russian border? The BBC had the usual Western MSM drivel which I suspected was more or less 90% crap from the get-go (only to have it confirmed as 99% crap when they included a translated clip of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov basically saying that the issues would be resolved as his government moved towards implementing the technical regulations consistent with the Belarus-Russia-Kazakhstan Customs Union (but didn’t say that Ukraine was in the process of joining it)).

    I see the usual spin from the western media: and and