BRIC’s of Stability: Why Occupy Wall Street Isn’t Coming To Moscow Or Beijing

As repeatedly noted by Mark Adomanis, the Russian liberals and the Western media have predicted about 10 of the last zero Russian revolutions. Likewise, the “Jasmine Revolution” in China that was the subject of so much talk about a year ago has fizzled out like a wet firework. Meanwhile, the Arab world remains in the midst of convulsions, and political instability is spreading into the West – most visibly in Greece and the Med, but also in the guise of Occupy Wall Street and associated movements in the US.

This is no doubt disturbing and aggravating to Western supremacists (it is telling that that the media organization providing the most detailed coverage of OWS, RT, is both non-Western and the object of venomous bile from the American exceptionalism culture warriors). Doesn’t the West (and the US in particular) have democracy, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, free media, economic opportunities, equality under the law, etc. – things that are all starkly and completely absent in countries of the Other, e.g. Russia and China? What the hell are the hippies and liberals protesting? Are they doped up unemployed losers, useful idiots of Leninist agents of influence, or both?

I think the answer is far simpler than it seems. In Russia, younger people tend to be both higher earning (their skills are better fitted to a capitalist economy) and more economically optimistic than their parents, not to mention their grandparents. They are also far more pro-capitalist, and substantially more supportive of Putin and Co. than the older generations (who have not done as well under capitalism, and who have fonder memories of communism). In fact, in the minds of Russian youth – and in stark contrast to the picture drawn by uninformed commentators – capitalism, prosperity, and the Putin era are closely linked. Hence, no real Russian equivalent of OWS (at least for now).

While I’m far from as well informed on China, it basically seems to have the same dynamics. Young people there are now far more educated than the middle-aged, let alone the immiserated elderly, and – many of them single children and enjoying far higher incomes than those of their less well-educated parents – are now coming to enjoy many of the creature comforts of rich country lifestyles, such as Internet access, cars, foreign travel. The young are the most active protest group, and keeping them satiated is most important for avoiding revolution. A similar dynamic also appears to be at work in India and Brazil. Hence, no “Spring” or OWS-equivalent in those countries either.

The situation in the Arab world and the West appears to be the precise opposite. Some of the commentary on the “Arab Spring” has emphasized the generational fault-lines that riven Arab societies, the main burden being the hordes of young unemployed Arab men (and unemployable, because of low skills). When food prices approached a critical level in 2011, social pressures reached a tipping point, and revolutions of varying types and success levels followed in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Bahrain.

The US makes for an interesting comparison to both the Arab world and the BRIC’s. Despite the fact that its young people still (for the most part) have a much higher material standard of living than the Chinese or Russians, its inter-generational wealth distribution appears to be more similar to that of the Arab world: its youth are much poorer, and suffer much more from unemployment. This is reflected in political ideologies – whereas the baby boomers remain stalwart supporters of capitalism, the people in their 20’s are actually split 50/50 between supporting capitalism and socialism (hence, the appearance of OWS, as I predicted).

Even internationally, the US is much less certain of the benefits of the “free market system” than was the case in prior years. More Chinese (77%), Brazilians (67%), and Germans (68%) now think that free markets are the way to go than Americans (59%). Even the Russians (52%) aren’t that far behind, and if we consider only the youngest generation, amazingly enough, more Russians would now be pro-capitalist than Americans. But as is so often the case, ideology is merely superstructure, dependent on the economic base for its own makeup; when polls indicate that as of 2010 ordinary Chinese find it easier than Americans to afford food, no wonder that faith in free markets soars in one country and tumbles in another. Ergo for Russia.

It is time to set aside the ideologized rhetoric that underpins much of today’s commentary on the purported instability of states based on their perceived “authoritarianism” or “corruption” (especially as measured by the ridiculous CPI). Despite being closer to the trough of the J-curve, and not matching up to the standards of democracy and decency that the West dictates as universal (while frequently failing to adhere to those same standards itself), the fact is that, objectively speaking, both China and Russia have been a lot more stable than the West – and with more favorable inter-generational wealth distributions and far better prospects for growth (due to their combination of First World human capital with merely medium-income economies), they have the objective conditions to remain politically stable for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, as iniquities grow and the over-educated young generations of the West are frustrated in their economic ambitions, having their social benefits cut while the establishment concentrates on currying favor with elderly voting majorities and bailing out their sponsors in the financial industry (at least until the whole carapace comes hurtling down due to over-indebtedness), political instability in the West is set to remain and metastasize until the barbarians at the gates can no longer be airily dismissed as weed-smoking socialist loser types “without an agenda” by the MSM and the powers that be.

EDIT: This article has been translated into Russian at (БРИК стабильности: почему Occupy Wall Street не приходит в Москву или Пекин?).

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. georgesdelatour says

    Jesus Anatoly. How could you write this and not even mention the Tiananmen student protests of 1989 and their subsequent crushing with tanks? Even if you think it’s irrelevant, the case that it’s irrelevant needs to be made, not assumed.

    • It was 22 years ago, and the dynamics of instability – the common crisis of the socialist bloc – were specific to that era. China today is a different country.

      • georgesdelatour says

        The current Chinese government is the unbroken continuation of the government which ran tanks over the Tiananmen protestors. Are you seriously suggesting some kind of political break? If so when did it happen? If the current Chinese government believed Tiananmen was simply something other people did to other people, and absolutely nothing to do with them, they wouldn’t be so sensitive about it, surely?

        Much of Chinese policy regarding the “Golden Shield Project” (or Great Firewall Of China), is tied into the memory of that protest, and fear – justified or not – of a repeat. I reckon it would be impossible to write a serious study of internet censorship in modern China which didn’t mention the incidents of 1989 somewhere. Do you know of one which doesn’t?

        From the Wikipedia article Internet Censorship in the People’s Republic of China:

        “The apparatus of the PRC’s Internet repression is considered more extensive and more advanced than in any other country in the world. The governmental authorities not only block website content but also monitor the Internet access of individuals. Amnesty International notes that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world.”…

        “In 2010 about 1.3 million websites closed down in mainland China made 41 percent fewer websites at the end of 2010 than a year earlier…”

        “Research into mainland Chinese Internet censorship has shown that censored websites included, before the 2008 Summer Olympics: …

        News sources that often cover some topics such as police brutality, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech and democracy sites.”

        From the Wikipedia article List of blacklisted keywords in the People’s Republic of China:

        “六四 (June 4), 天安門事件 / 天安门事件 (Tiananmen Square massacre), 民運 / 民運 (Chinese democracy movement) – “June 4” is the usual Chinese name for the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. In contrast, “Tiananmen” refers to a geographical place and does not usually have the same connotations.”

        • Do you think the treatment of Russia by the West during the Yeltsin years reminded China of its own century of humiliation? Economic prescriptions and even the constitution were delivered by foreigners who declared that Russia must do all this without question, even though they all ended in failure. In that context, Chinese people look at Tiananmen Square as an event that prevented them from falling into the same trap.

        • The Tiananmen protest in China was mostly a subversive Western-funded project, just like the more recent color-coded “revolutions” in several countries. The Chinese government reacted very harshly to what was essentially a threat (funded and incited by United States) to the Chinese state. The subsequent repressions and continuing restrictions on the internet, etc., while reprehensible, are also a logical and predictable reaction on the part of any government which is being attacked from without. The difference with the “Occupy” movement in America is that it is internal to U.S. and not funded by foreign governments. Unless someone can prove to me that it is?

      • But unlike Russia, China does not have representative government. The Chinese “communists” are busy appealing to nationalism and so far succeeding in growing the economy (with enormous western support; try to buy something not made or processed in China, including now even food). This is keeping the population happy. Sukharto in Indonesia was successful too while the economy grew, but a late 1990s downturn blew him out of power. As Clinton said “it’s the economy, stupid”.

        The Russian “regime” does not need to appeal to nationalism. The foaming at the mouth opposition parties don’t stand a chance at the polls. It is true that China appears to have done better by leaving political reform for later and Russia has only now raised itself out of the pit dug in the 1990s. But in the long run I think Russia has gained stability, while China could undergo a revolution in the not so distant future when the 10% annual GDP growth becomes negative for a while as it ultimately will.

        The endless chatter in the western media and their parrot chorus in Russia, the liberasts, about the instability of the Russian “regime” is one big steaming pile of wishful thinking. When Russians go to the polls they have several names on the ballot, including western-approved liberals and parties the west pretends are not there. Independent exit polls and other opinion polls show clearly the support these parties get. Russians don’t conform to state propaganda so it’s not the fault of Russian TV that liberasts don’t get public support. How could they, when they spend most of their time berating the Russian electorate as being too stupid to vote for them!?

        • below_freezing says

          The primary cause of the 6-4 incident was inflation reaching 25%, as well as mass privitazation which led to a 2 tiered economy of high paying state owned enterprises, and bankrupt formerly state owned enterprises, with an unequal transfer of resources between the 2. “Democracy” has little to do with it. There are more elections in China today than any other country except probably India. The current leaders of China, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, are far less connected to a previously existing power elite than George W. Bush whose father was President and Jeb Bush, who is George W. Bush’s brother. You honestly think that in the US, entire families becoming part of the ruling class is just a coincidence of “democracy”?

          You are repeating what the West says about China, which is not what I’d expect from a Russian whose own country is frequently ridiculed by the West. China’s stability has little to do with economic growth; on the contrary, it is this very stability that has allowed economic growth to take place. This is very different from the Russian story of economic growth, which is simply to sit on rent collection of exporting natural resources. China has no natural resources to exploit, indeed we are a huge importer, so all of China’s success is directly due to China’s human capital.

          Unlike natural resources which don’t have legs, human capital flees poverty and instability.

  2. Student debt is one of the main drivers of the protests in USA. I continue to find it astonishing that a typical American youth, even one with excellent grades and test scores, cannot receive a decent higher education without getting him/herself into debt, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. What society can operate like that? It is insane!
    I read a report a couple of days ago that the level of student debt to banks in America has almost reached levels of the mortgage-debt crisis. Sorry, I cannot find the link to substantiate this, I just remember reading it somewhere, I will look around and see if I can find backup to above statement. In any case, this massive debt is another ticking timebomb because many of those graduates will not be able to pay it back (not finding employment), and will have to default.

    • You’re right about the perniciousness of this system. Student debt has recently overtook credit card debt by volume, and were it not for student debt, overall household debt would actually be decreasing now.

      But at least you can usually avoid credit card debt with some planning and discipline. For many people that is not the case with student debt, as having a piece of paper certifying you went to university has long been mandatory for getting into anything better than a McJob. What’s all the more horrid is that it is impossible to escape student debt via bankruptcy; until repaid, it stays with you for the rest of your life (and sometimes even passes on to your family!). One is almost tempted to describe it as feudal.

      In fairness, students with “excellent grades and test scores” can choose from plenty of generous scholarships. But in many cases, poor students have to earn money on the side. But that in turn makes getting those excellent grades that much harder.

      • Polonius to his son Laertes:
        Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
        For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
        And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
        (Shakespeare, Hamlet, of course)
        The situation is worse than I thought, is horrid the idea of debt pursuing people beyond the grave. That is neo-feudalism indeed! Even the barbarian sheep-herders of the Old Testament were better than this: Allude to the Book of Leviticus which decrees a “Jubilee” holiday (every 50 years) in which indentured servants are released from their obligation and debts are forgiven. I recommend to OWS protesters that they demand from the banks such a “Jubilee” this very day. In the words of Jesus, “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors … actually that quote does not make sense. How can a debtor forgive his creditor??

        • This is from the Lord’s Prayer and the standard English version is: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, i.e. so in the context of debt, would imply forgiving those who have debt towards us (presumably as opposed to enslaving them, or sending round the arm breakers).

        • Giuseppe Flavio says

          Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors
          It makes sense. God forgive your debt, which is his credit, and you forgive your debtors, that is to say you forgive their debt which is your credit. It is the creditors that are forgiving, not the debtors.
          Just out of curiosity, did you translate into English the version used by the Orthodox Church? The most used Latin version mentions debt, like the modern Catholic version. There is another version due to Luke that mentions sins, hence the trespass in standard English.

          • Hi, Giuseppe:
            Thanks for comment. I was quoting from the King James version of the Bible, which is the only English-language copy that I own. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we fogive our debtors.” I now realize this quote makes perfect sense: If I owe Giuseppe 100 Euros, and Anatoly owes me 100 Euros, then I should say to Anatoly, “Ah, fuhgedaboutit, pal..” and tear up his IOU, and similarly, Giuseppe will tear up my IOU to him. So everybody wins (except for Giuseppe).
            Anyhow, I also have a copy of the ancient Greek New Testament (for an atheist, I own quite a lot of Bibles!), which is the true, original source, and here is the appopriate passage

            Και αφες ημιν τα οφειληματα ημων … (etc)

            Kai afes hemin ta OFEILEMATA hemon…

            The key word being “ofeilamata”, which apparently means either “debts” or “trespasses” in English translation depending on the view of the translator. Any Greek scholars out there? Personally, I would trust good old King James over the revisionary modernists….

            • Additional information from linguistic front:
              I found an online copy of the Old Churck Slavonic New Testament at this link. The relevant passage is:

              и остави намъ долги нашѧ иако и мъі оставлѧємъ должникомъ нашъімъ…

              Now, the Slavic word долг “dolg” clearly means “debt” as in monetary “debt”. I believe that settles the issue, because Saints Kirill and Methodius, who translated the New Testmament from Greek into Slavonic, were bilingual and fluent in both languages. Plus, they were expert world-class linguists of their time, so is dubious they would make a mistake with an etymology.
              This is exciting news: the OWS protestors can quote Jesus himself to make their case that banks must forgive their student debts. What a propaganda coup!

            • Giuseppe Flavio says

              I’m not a Greek scholar, so at best I can rely on Wikipedia on these matters. You seem to be close to the thruth. Wikipedia reports The word “debts” (ὀφειλήματα) does not necessarily mean financial obligations, as shown by the use of the verbal form of the same word (ὀφείλετε) in passages such as Romans 13:8. In Aramaic the word for debt is also used to mean sin.

              • @Giuseppe: So the word is ambiguous? Could be (literally) “monetary debt” or (metaphorically) “sin”. What a pity, I thought I was on to something! Materialist swine that I am, I was going to craft this wonderful thesis that Jesus was a fighter for financial reform. (Allude to the scene where Jesus chases the money-changers out of the temple because they were charging too-high transaction fees….) Ancillary to that, I would “expose” the Zionist-banking cabal which hired compliant linguists to change the translation of New Testament in order to mask Jesus’ true words…. Oh well, never mind!

            • sinotibetan says


              1.)”Personally, I would trust good old King James over the revisionary modernists….”
              Indeed! It’s a shame that most English-speaking Christians use such versions like the NIV(which uses the ‘dynamic equivalency’ method) and the horrendous “New Living Translation”(NLT). I myself ‘only’ trust the King James Version as the ‘most faithful’ translation(I don’t use the NKJV even). I find it odd that both of us with ‘antagonistic’ beliefs can find common ground in many areas! I too own a Greek New Testament ‘in the original text’ and at one time I’d thought of learning up ancient Greek but I have yet other more stuff to learn(my profession demands it!) and now that’s taken a back seat. Sorry that I’m clueless on Greek to be of help here!
              However, I found this:-
              2.)”for an atheist, I own quite a lot of Bibles!”
              Indeed! However, perhaps it’s because that helps you to know your ‘ideological enemies’-such as yours truly – well? 😉
              3.)Err….something totally WAY OUT of this discussion but I thought this comment on WSJ merits comments/discussion here…
              “Nikos Retsos wrote:
              To understand Vladimir Putin, one must delve into a recent statement by Hillary Clinton that the U.S. is shifting its global policy into a new mode: “Smart Power!” That is the new mode of global relations that has been creeping across the globe in the last few years, and there are plenty of players in it, including Putin, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, India, China, Brazil, South Africa, and of course the European Union. “Smart Power” is in short the global competition without vast armies and front lines. The focus is on building a strong economic infrastructure and global trade alliances which promote social development and stability with incremental modernization of the armed forces. The time that war and military industries consumed most of the nation’s budgets, while social and economic development were allotted only the leftovers, is over!
              Something else that wasn’t in Putin’s interview is the Russian suspicion that if elections in Russia are a “free-for-all” style, the U.S. will pour in $ billions to help elect Russians who would sell out Russia’s interests to the West. It happened in post-World War II Italy where the Communist Party came very close to winning elections, but lost due to U.S. $ millions spend behind the scenes for an anti-communist campaign, bribes, and other schemes to keep the legendary Communist leader Mr. Togliati from winning. At an interview with ABC’s Nightline, the then U.S. Defense Secretary Mr. Schlesinger admitted: “It was cheaper to spend $ 6 millions to prevent the Communist for taking over power, than to have to send in the marines,” on quote! The U.S. had organized and funded such an effort in Russia to unseat the Bolsheviks, but the U.S. supported armies of General Colchak and General Denikin were defeated.
              Sure, Putin is not worrying about a U.S. invasion, but the he worries about a “smart power” U.S. $$$ election funding invasion – like in post-war Italy. And the Russians who generally dislike the West prefer a tough Stalin-like leader, and Vladimir Putin fits the bill! Any Western support or praise for a Russian politician will be a curse – not help. The Russians have learned the lessons of history, and those lessons will outlive Vladimir Putin’s tenure. Nikos Retsos, retired professor”


              • Dear Sino-T: Thanks for comment, and for the Retsos quote. I had not been following the Euro crisis as closely as I should have been, so it came as a surprise to me that the European leaders are unilaterally modifying their gas contracts with Russia. This will surely lead to conflict with Russia.
                On “Smart Power”: Smart Power starts quietly but often leads to armed conflict. Libya war is perfect example. Started with Smart Power, everything done quietly, behind the scenes: Sarkozy/Cameron bribing various Libyan government officials, getting them to defect to the new “government-in-exile” that was being constructed in the European capitals. (Many of these ministers had a very good reason to defect: Gaddafy regime was about to investigate them for corruption, because there had been a lot of hanky-panky going on with Goldman Sachs, involving some Libyan sovereign funds investments…. long story…)
                Anyhow, once they had enough defectors to create a shadow cabinet the Europeans recognized the new “government”, and then the shooting war began, using, as we know now, Qatari weapons and officers and Al Qaeda proxies as foot soldiers/cannon fodder. BTW, the Qataris continue to “occupy” Libya, even the rebel Prime Minister Jibril has started complaining about the over-presence of Qatari influence in the new Libya.

            • Moscow Exile says

              The 10th century Old English Lord’s Prayer has the following for “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us”:

              And forgif us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgivath ure gyltendum.

              This literally translates from the Old English as:

              And forgive to us our guilts, so so we forgive to our guilting [ones].

              By the time of Thomas Wyclif’s Lord’s Prayer of 1380, this had become:

              And forgyve to us oure dettis, as we forgyven to oure dettouris.

              • Thanks for that, exile. So, what did Jesus say we should forgive? Debts or guilts? It gets more confusing!

              • Moscow Exile says

                Reply to yalensis’ question below, under which there is no reply button, hence the reply made here:

                In the German version of the Lord’s Prayer, the line “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us” is: “Und vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuligem”. It is interesting to note that “Schuld” in German means both “guilt” and “debt”. This conflation of “guilt” and “debt” is also evidenced in Old English, where the Latin participle “debita” (debt) and “debitoribus” (plural of “debtor”, ablative case) in the line “et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris” was translated into Old English as “gylt”, which is cognate with the Modern English “guilt” and Modern German “Geld” (money), but one thousand years ago in Anglo-Saxon England it also meant “debt”.

                Guilt is a threshold notion that is encompassed by boundaries and limits that are usually defined in terms of rules and laws. Guilt is, therefore, established as a result of a transgression, a trespass. Hence, “forgive us our trespasses”.

                The key to all this is that the Lord’s Prayer was first written in Aramaic or perhaps said by a man from Nazareth that spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic the word for “debt” is also used to mean “sin”. This Aramaic “debt” was translated into the Greek ὀφειλήματα, which does not only mean financial obligations, as can be seen from Matthew 6:12: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another”.

                As mentioned above, in the Wycliffe English bible of the 14th century, “dettis” (debts) is used, whereas Tyndale’s English bible of the 16th century has “trespasses” (spelt “treaspases”).

  3. The sociologist V. Shlapentokh is not a fan of Putin, but he makes some points in this article to back up Mr. K’s perspective:

    From the article: “The negative trends have not manifested the mechanisms that need to be present for there to be a real, direct threat to the regime. There is no serious political opposition in the country, while the political elite is united and is mostly against a change in the regime. Even more important is the fact that there is no public discontent coming from ordinary Russians whose material lives improved greatly under Putin’s rule. Russians’ satisfaction with their lives is quite high, and Putin’s high ratings are a sign that the masses link their relative prosperity to him.”

    • God what breathtaking inanity: “There is no serious political opposition in the country”. As opposed to the west where all the parties do basically the same thing once in power? (This happens to be the case in Canada and the USA without a doubt as anyone who pays attention can tell). In Russia there is too much rabid opposition. This is why the “liberals” and the dinosaur communists are politically irrelevant. They haven’t caught on that they need to appeal to the voter and not scream “regime, bloody regime, down with dictator Putin” all the time. They insult the majority that voted for Putin. Putin has delivered growth between 1999 and 2008, the opposition promises to deliver 1990s style instability and collapse with their insane contra platforms. Blame the “stupid” Russian electorate for denying them their chances at power.

      I remember the CBC’s Yves Cormier doing a piece on the 2004 Russian election (or around that time) and harping on the trope that there is “no real opposition to Putin in Russia” except for street hoodlum variety such as the Limonovists that were staging some demonstration. The video of the demonstration was edited so that the Limonovist flag was not clear (just the red background). The CBC’s main radio news anchor, Bernie McNamee labeled the Duma a rubber stamp several years ago. This propaganda drivel constitutes sober coverage of Russia in the west. Maybe people in the west can believe that Russia in 2009 was no different than in 1989, but Russians actually living there find this sort of characterization condescending rubbish totally removed from reality. Any political party that tries to parrot this nonsense in Russia will obviously have zero chances at the polls.

      Shlapentokh is spewing the typical liberast garbage. Putin couldn’t possibly be truly popular since Russians are confused about their “relative prosperity” (what, no objective measure of wealth in Russia?). These clowns think that if you get rid of Putin and his “regime” that they will take over power. How quickly they forget that they were in power until 1998.

      • grafomanka says

        Russians seems to be split half-half on the question whether there is ‘meaningful opposition’ in the country (from latest Levada poll).

        Shlapentokh is convinced that Putin’s regime hates scientists, gives them very little funding and this will be the downfall of Russia. Is there any merit in what he says? Most of the R&D in Russia is state sponsored and funding seems to be quite small compare to other BRICs and in 2012-2014 budget it’s not even a 1% of GDP.

        • Is there any merit in what he says?

          Yes, Putin’s ideal is free science: “А вот известный Гриша Перельман без денег взял и опубликовал в Интернете и подписался – Гриша Перельман. Где деньги?”

          • Come on Peter, your trolling here is apparent even by your standards. 🙂

            Perelman is famous for refusing money from everybody. Putin quite clearly supports raising salaries for scientists in the very next paragraph.

        • Russians should live in the west for a few decades then their silly delusions about what a utopia it is will be gone for good. This public poll does not provide evidence that there is no opposition to the “Putin regime”. Much like the 60% of Americans who thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 were actually not right.

          As for science, Russia is still living with remnants of the neo-liberal ideology introduced by Yeltsin. That is why Kudrin kept bringing up monetarist tropes on a regular basis. The USA is much more socialist than Russia, in spite of all the pretenses. Russia has the problem that it imports some western ideology (including communism) and applies it with fundamentalist fervor. Instead of filtering and adapting at the beginning, the ideology is assimilated and transformed over the course of decades. This is quite ironic considering the Russian fixation on the west and its alleged superiority. Maybe importing some of that western “socialism” would not be a bad idea.

        • Spending on R&D / universities was indeed far too lower up until the mid 2000’s (as was social spending in general). But I find the “less than 1%” figure for 2012-2014 unlikely when it is already at 1% and the innovation budget is due to go sharply up by 2013.

          Around 1.12% of GDP spending on R&D is low by the standards of the most technologically advanced countries (the US, NW Europe, Japan), no disputing that. But it is very far from atypical for CEE Europe (in Poland, for instance, it’s 0.9%) or even some developed countries such as Italy (1.1%), New Zealand (1.2%) or Greece (0.6%). Even the UK (1.7%) isn’t that far ahead. As for the other BRIC’s, China (1.4%) isn’t hugely ahead either, and India and Brazil (both 0.9%) are behind.

          • grafomanka says

            Interesting, the data I mentioned is from here.
            And there is still the secret R&D; “В 2012 году расходы федерального бюджета на научные исследования и разработки гражданского назначения превысят 323 млрд рублей, сообщил заместитель председателя комитета Госдумы по науке и наукоемким технологиям Игорь Игошин (“Единая Россия”). Помимо этого есть “закрытые” разработки, гособоронзаказ, программы развития высокотехнологичных секторов – таких, как космическая навигация, продолжил парламентарий, инновационные программы госкомпаний, суммарно “тянущие” на сотни миллиардов. “Так что государственные расходы на развитие науки и наукоемкого сектора, на самом деле, довольно велики”, – сказал Игошин”

      • I think you’re reading Shlapentokh backwards from the way I am. His point is that Putin’s rule has improved people’s lives, so what reason would they have to trust the opposition? Further, that you say there is “rabid” opposition in Russia only underlines the stated lack of serious opposition. As for “objective measure of wealth in Russia,” the linked article gives several examples.

        My point is not that Sh’s analysis is right about everything, but that even anti-Putinists can see that Putin’s popularity has a rational basis and is not all smoke and mirrors.

  4. “They are also far more pro-capitalist, and substantially more supportive of Putin and Co. than the older generations (who have not done as well under capitalism, and who have fonder memories of communism).”

    Slobbering lemon-brained running-dog lackey of the Kremlin Karlin, you have it exactly backward. Putin’s very base of support is older Russians who get all their news mainlined directly into their brains from Kremlin-controlled message apparatus is called state TV and who fear the Internet! I know this from none other than the hero of the Liberal Movement, Boris Nemtsov.

    I especially liked the lead-in to this article; “Russians can sense that Project Putin has reached its twilight. The prime minister would be well served by retiring before he is forced to.” Anyone who believes the western media can see the future of Russia would be well-served by pondering the implications of that quote, written in February of this year.

  5. Conclusions and Western Approaches

    Some Western officials and security analysts contend that Russia’s neo-imperialism and strategic expansionism remain illusory, as Moscow does not possess the capabilities to effectively challenge the West – either in military or in economic terms – and is increasingly interconnected with the West through energy, trade, finance, and business….

    AK edit: A link is enough. Copying big text blocks into comments – especially when said text has NOTHING to do with the original blog post – is rude and disruptive. Please don’t do it.

  6. If Moscow did not possess the capabilities to challenge the west militarily or economically, the west would be actively working in-country on its destabilization and overthrow in a colour-style revolution. Take a look at the west’s recent record of such behavior in energy producing countries that were not already its enthusiastic allies. Russia offers a double bonus – an exploitation opportunity heretofore unparallelled for the big oil multinationals, and a means of controlling and regulating China’s growth. Every election cycle, the west agitates for installation of pliable and “forward thinking” liberals, and falls back on angry, bitter remonstration when it cannot dispose the electorate to want such government. I’ve noticed that in countries too weak to resist western pressure, such decisions are made for them and such government forced upon them. The west likes to mock the present debilitated state of Russia’s military, but nobody seems too anxious to take it on, and Russian plans to modernize and overhaul the armed forces are frowned upon or criticized by the west. If the military truly is such a hopeless wreck, why the objections to fixing it?

    Imagine Russia was a valued western ally. It enjoys more than a decade of straight prosperity, in which energy revenues are invested in improvements to the standard of living of its people and paying down its debt until it’s the lowest in the G20, as well as building up the third-largest cash reserves in the world. Now imagine that country being described by western analysts as “in terminal decay”. Would you shake your head in puzzlement? Laugh? I would. Western analysts elevate the non-noticing of any signs of progress (in selected countries) to an art form. No progress in Russia, in fact it’s sliding steadily backward into the dark ages, and carries its own rain clouds with it everywhere it goes. Long-term forecast? Steadily worsening. The funny thing is, patently absurd Soviet propaganda – such as that starvation was widespread in the west and that incidents of westerners collapsing, their strength exhausted, against the walls of warehouses bursting with food were commonplace – were met with hearty laughter in the west; nobody took them seriously. The west’s response to its own propaganda? Wide-eyed belief and smirking acceptance. High fives all around.

    What should Russia do to avoid offering “such persistent threats” to NATO members? Kill itself? Ask for NATO advice on how to break up the country into tiny fiefdoms and tribal protectorates that could not present any threat to anyone? Russia presents a threat merely by existing, and no amount of conciliation will ever be enough. An independent Russia that will not kneel and lick the west’s fingers is intolerable, and even if it agreed to so abase itself it would never be trusted until it was rendered satisfactorily helpless.

    Serious internal crisis? Mounting domestic challenges? Dare to dream, NATO. Of course that’s exactly the desired state of affairs, but adults usually learn fairly early that pretending dreams will come true if you only wish hard enough yields pretty disappointing results. Despite the hoopla about the Power of Positive Thinking, it will only take you so far.

    For a group that sucked like a black hole at forecasting the global financial crisis, the west seems to have found its mojo as far as reading the Kremlin’s mind is concerned. Obama’s election was perceived by the Kremlin as an opportunity to undermine the U.S.’s global reach? What set of circumstances led to that halfwitted conclusion? For one thing, the U.S. no longer enjoys the unrestricted global reach it once did in any capacity except militarily, and that’s hardly Russia’s fault. For another, Russia has bent over backward to please the west in every international scenario in which its cooperation was solicited. The western response has been to accelerate Russia’s encirclement with missile bases and promotion of civil unrest in neighbouring nations. This policy would only get orders of magnitude worse under a Republican government.

    I could go on, but why? This “analysis” might have been written by La Russophobe channeling Ed Lucas while smoking Paul Goble’s hat. Swaggering, self-important tunnel-vision reality-denying bullshit from start to finish. I mean that in the most positive way, of course.

    • Oh, and one more thing.

      “Although Washington and Brussels have few direct tools available…”

      It doesn’t sound to me like there is any shortage of tools in either location.

  7. Some people might find this interview interesting, I think it is relevant to this topic, it is on the theme of “globalism” and the creeping Orwellian authoritarianism affecting American society. In this video RT is interviewing American radio-show host Alex Jones, who has a history as an anti-globalist, but more from the right rather the left (like the Occupy movement). Alex is from Texas and his ideological slant = conservative libertarian, similar to Ron Paul. A year ago I might have dismissed him as a right-wing kook, but I discovered that during Libyan conflict Alex was consistently right and principled (from my POV) in his assessments of Libya war; also, researching backwards, I found that Alex was one of the very few American commentators who took Russia’s side during Ossetian conflict of 2008, which is why Russian media respects him and gives him some airtime, even though he sometimes comes off sounding a bit paranoid:

  8. sinotibetan says

    Dear Kirill and yalensis,

    1.)”But unlike Russia, China does not have representative government……
    But in the long run I think Russia has gained stability, while China could undergo a revolution in the not so distant future when the 10% annual GDP growth becomes negative for a while as it ultimately will.”
    An interesting view. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Yeltsin-‘Russian liberals’ misrule(in collusion with their Western ‘comrades’) in the nascent Russian democracy, there was every possibility that Russia could have imploded into small states and fulfill the wishes of the West. It was fortunate for Russia that it did not….I’d say Putin probably arrived in the nick of time. Hence, Russia managed to retain democracy and as you correctly pointed out, managed to gain stability. As for China, the Chinese leaders back then(primarily paramount leader Deng Xiaoping) – seeing USSR crumble was alarming to say the least. Yeltsin’s blundering ways were lessons for the Chinese in their experiment with market reforms while retaining complete political control. Some sort like the Chinese avoided paths taken by Yeltsin et al in the economic reforms. If China had not effectively put down the Tiananmen uprisings, there was a possibility that it would implode before the Soviet Union. Such would have led to utter chaos and civil wars. One can debate whether the brutality of the Tiananmen massacre could be justified this way but whatever it is, the squashed uprising preserved China intact. As for China’s economy heavily tanking due to over-reliance on (broke)Western customers PLUS the persistence of Western nations to stir up internal unrest – it all depends if China can :-
    a.)Lessen dependence on the Western middle class as customers but turn to the Asian middle class. The problem is apart from Japan and South Korea, the other Asians(like poor yours truly) cannot replace the Americans and Europeans.
    b.)Slowly have political reforms to ultimately have a representative Government in the near future — I think this one is unlikely to happen and can be manipulated by the West(‘supporting dissidents’).
    c.)Evolving from manufacturing low-tech goods and being a base for multinationals to manufacture theirs to home-grown hi-tech manufacturing – emulating the Japanese. Problem with this is time is running out with the current world economy in turmoil.
    I think the main thing that would lead to instability in China if the GDP tanks is not just the lack of representative government but that the already poor Chinese becomes poorer and the rich Chinese suddenly becomes poor. America and China are entwined too tightly that if America goes bust, China implodes too. So, I think China will continue to ‘prop’ the US as long as she can till she can be self-sufficient to disentangle from this web.

    2.)”The Tiananmen protest in China was mostly a subversive Western-funded project, just like the more recent color-coded “revolutions” in several countries”
    Indeed! Not surprising that the downfall of USSR and the Tiananment incident happened quite close in time.
    “The Russian “regime” does not need to appeal to nationalism.”
    Thought I shared with you guys something: the Nanjing Anti-African Protests of 1988 – it was a precursor of the Tiananmen incident. Hence, apart from a protest for political reform, there was a racial undertone as well.
    “Moreover, contact between African men and Chinese women was the source of numerous clashes between Chinese and African students in the 1980s as well as the grounds for arrests and deportations of Africans. ”
    A lot of racial riots started that way….


    • below_freezing says

      There was no brutality at Tiananmen Square. It was a riot that was put down, as all riots are supposed to be, by swift police action backed by the justified use of the state’s monopoly on force.

      The protesters were not peaceful. They overturned buses and trucks to use as roadblocks; ever think where those buses and trucks came from, when the protesters were supposedly just college students? They were hijacked and stolen.

      50 soldiers and police were killed by the rioters when they went in with only anti-riot gear, so it was justified to end this riot with armed troops.

      If the protesters stayed peaceful, they could’ve even been successful. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of the time. Zhao Ziyang, was very sympathetic to their cause. However, because of their violence, they forced the country to act.

      If 1.3 billion people simply refuse to pay taxes, there is no government in the world that can make them. Indeed, if even 10% of this population simply refuses to pay taxes, the government can’t stop them. In an unstable society, any sort of armed repression could explode into a civil war; see what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. This did not occur in China. The only logical conclusion is that the protests did not enjoy true popular support.

      • sinotibetan says

        Hi ‘below_freezing’…

        Are you from China? I am Malaysian Chinese(who is interested of ‘Motherland’) so all I ‘could’ ever know about the Tiananmen is ‘third hand'(or even fourth, fifth…ad infinitum).

        “Indeed, if even 10% of this population simply refuses to pay taxes, the government can’t stop them. In an unstable society, any sort of armed repression could explode into a civil war; see what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. This did not occur in China. The only logical conclusion is that the protests did not enjoy true popular support.”
        Perhaps not. But it(prolonged demonstrations) could have plunged China into chaos even if it had 1% support of the locals PLUS ‘backing’ from the West. As for the conclusion that the demonstrations had no popular support as a civil war did not break out after armed repression – that’s one plausible explanation but other reasons might also be:-
        1.)”Psychologically” the demonstrators were perhaps confident of themselves that the Government would dither about(and they did initially) and that ‘liberals’ within the Government would prevent any show of force. When the crunch came, the rather amorphous demonstrators’s confidence caved in – and thus a no-show after the armed repression.
        2.)Sympathizers of the demonstrators from among the populace became ‘fearful’ that they would join the fate of their more boisterous ‘comrades’ after the army quelling. I’d reckon that’s what the Chinese authorities were thinking of when they decided ‘enough is enough’.
        In other words…..the dissent frizzled out because the fiat/will was squashed and nipped in the bud, plus, I concede the high plausibility of only minority support from the populace.


        • below_freezing says

          What usually happens when an uprising has huge popular support is that if it is suppressed with armed military and police, the entire population will simply overthrow the government. This happened in 1945-1949 in China, happened in Vietnam in 1975, this happened in Iran in 1979, this happened in Egypt and Tunisia just a few months ago. If the government is unpopular enough, it CANNOT break the will of the populace to overthrow it without foreign support.

          Like you said, if even 1% of the population seriously rebels against the government, there is almost nothing the government can do to stop 13 million people. All governments are like this. Do you think the US army can put down 3 million armed rebels running loose in the US without alienating the rest of the population? All major governments throughout history make use of a smart combination of armed repression and social welfare benefits; those who do not are doomed to either collapse (Song Dynasty, USSR, British Empire) or to severe economic stagnation (North Korea). Even Cuba is actually doing quite well and is one of the richest countries in the Carribean due to its smart combination of repression and social welfare.

          Also, despite being an “armed” suppression, the journalists at the scene report no firing of weapons into crowds. The police who entered were armed with only anti-riot gear, though they were backed by fully armed mechanized infantry.

          • @below_freezing: I mostly agree with you, especially with your sentiments, but I think it is overly simple and a bit naive to assume that raw “people power” can collapse an unpopular regime. Let’s take the Vietnam example. It was not “people power” that defeated the mighty American army. It was an equal and opposite army: the mighty North Vietnamese army, with significant assistance from Russia and even China (Vietnam’s traditional enemy, but differences put aside in order to defeat Americans).
            None of this is said to detract from the astounding courage of the South Vietnamese people, who supported their guerrillas in any way they could and made enormous sacrifices to free their country from American occupation. But, alas, just by themselves, they could not have defeated the imperialist war machine, and South Vietnam to this day would be an American colony.
            Similarly, during WWII the Nazi war machine in Europe was not defeated by “people’s power”, nor by the French Resistance, nor by the humorous antics of Hogan’s Heroes (nod in the direction of Mark C.). It was defeated by equal and opposite force, primarily Red Army, with significant assistance also by American army.

            • below_freezing says

              Those are war time issues. Nazi Germany in Poland was not a native government that wants to retain power in its own country (thus meaning it can’t just gas everyone because then it would undermine its own power base, from which it recruits military and police, taxes and weapons). Nazi Germany in Poland just wants the land and the Poles, Jews, Russians, etc. are just taking up space; they don’t tax them, they don’t recruit Wehrmacht members from them, they don’t buy weapons from them. That means you can kill them without any negative consequences. In contrast, if any modern government launched an all out war against its own citizens, it would quickly be either overthrown in a coup or occupied by foreigners, since it is going against its own tax, military recruitment, and weapons production base. Like South Vietnam was. It launched an all out war against its own population with the help of Americans, and the final result was the total conquest of South Vietnam and the torturing to death of its leaders.

              The CPC, for example, literally came to power with nothing. Even the Soviet Union initially supported the KMT; the CPC had to make do with redistributed Japanese weapons, while the KMT had all new, full American gear and Soviet advisors. The KMT started out with 8 million soldiers and the CPC started out with 1 million in 1945. What happened was, as the KMT waged a war against its own population, everyone defected to the CPC and it eventually ended up with 8 million PLA against 1.4 million KMT boarding boats to Taiwan. After the CPC showed it stood a chance, the Soviet Union started giving its full support, showing that if any government wages war on its own population, foreign states WILL exploit it to further their own interests (in the short term; in the long term, its safe to say that the PRC has been a major pain in the ass for Russia for at least 40 years)

              • @below_freezing: Thanks for reply. Very interesting discussion of Chinese example. The CCP victory in Chinese civil war is a valid demonstration of your thesis.

  9. Алег Вешчы says

    Anders -Thanks for unique insight and Thanks for the link

    Some Western officials and security analysts contend that Russia’s neo-imperialism and strategic expansionism remain illusory, as Moscow does not possess the capabilities to effectively challenge the West – either in military or in economic terms – and is increasingly interconnected with the West through energy, trade, finance, and business.

    This is a well known issue and no one from Russia really seems to tackle this problem apart from some civilians and journalists.
    Why? Because when we talk about Russia, we must bear one thing in mind. That is,in Russia, everything originated within the KGB and only KGB could grow enough in Russia but nothing else.
    Being a former KGB tool and a pseudo-spy, Vladimir Putin never had any idea of real impact to Russia from KGB style business practice and he seems to be enjoying mystified powers. The result is corrupt government and a failed-system in Russia.

    • Uh huh. A “failed system” in russia, huh? Why? Because Putin was largely responsible for it?

      Let me ask you this; if Garry Kasparov was President of Russia for a decade and managed to cut poverty in half, raise wages and pensions, nearly eradicate the national debt and build up large cash reserves, would you still call it a failed system? Would you be arguing for a change in government? Why? I’d really be interested to know.

      • Ah, but Kasparov could not achieve that by definition. His task is to sell Russia down the river. They all want to get back to the good old days of Yeltsin and Russia’s terminal decline.

        All the yammering about “system” is pure inanity. The democratic legitimacy that the west gives itself is all based on election polls. Supposedly people in the west are free to choose any government they like and the free media is there, bending over backwards, telling them all they need to know to make the perfect choice. None of the anti-Russia whiners have shown any evidence that Russians don’t get to choose at the ballot box and are deprived of information. Russians chose Putin twice and will likely choose him again since there is no one on the horizon that can compete. Especially specimens such as Kasparov.

    • Being a former KGB tool and a pseudo-spy, Vladimir Putin…
      I take umbrage to that. Putin was no PSEUDO-spy. He was the real deal!

      • sinotibetan says

        Dear yalensis,

        “I take umbrage to that. Putin was no PSEUDO-spy. He was the real deal!”
        And THAT…he was a REAL spy….is THE reason that:-

        1.) The West actually FEARS him(because he knows all their dirty ways and see through their ‘morality facade’).
        2.) With fear comes a personal HATRED.
        3.) La Russophobe, New York Times, Washington Post, Radio ‘Free’ Europe etc. etc. will NEVER stop demonizing him(and Russia…until a ‘liberal’ becomes ‘President’).


      • These endless references to Putin’s KGB past stopped having any value when oligarchs such as Gusinsky employed former Fifth Directorate KGB members in their personal security units during the 1990s. The Fifth Directorate was responsible for repressing dissidents. Putin was a proper foreign spy working in East Germany and not a regime goon.

        George Bush Sr. was head of the CIA in 1976. This was the time of Operation Condor in South America. Let’s see, one president was formerly at the top of a blood stained intelligence agency making decisions, while the other was a low level operative. Not even close and definitely no cigar.

        • Putin was not some kind of legendary super-spy. He had a very mundane, prosaic and rather short spy career in East Germany, throughout which he was accompanied by his wife and children. He wasn’t some deep-penetration, licensed-to-kill menace to the west. Remember that the KGB seeded personnel even within InTourist, the Soviet tourist bureau – how glamorous does that sound; make sure to keep your cyanide pill clenched between your back teeth, Comrade, you never know when that fat guy booking a river tour of the Volga might turn out to be a double agent! He finished out his tour at Leningrad State University, keeping an eye on students. What a cliffhanger job; I wonder why they didn’t make a movie out of it?

          Not for lack of trying in some quarters, though; contrast this racy passage from the Washington Post

          “Yet Putin’s career also suggests that he witnessed firsthand the momentous finale of the Cold War. From the front line in East Germany, Putin saw how the centrally planned economies of the East staggered to disintegration. In St. Petersburg, he had a taste of the ragged path of Russia’s early transition to a free-market, democratic system.”

          with Putin’s actual duties, described by a colleague who sat across the desk from him as mostly filing work, party lectures and human intrigues.


          • Robert Petersen says

            “Putin was not some kind of legendary super-spy. He had a very mundane, prosaic and rather short spy career in East Germany, throughout which he was accompanied by his wife and children. ”

            The relationship between Russian Prime Minister and probable future President Vladimir Putin and his wife of 28 years, Lyudmila, has been alternately portrayed as a nightmare union and a love story for the ages. A populist like Silvio Berlusconi ?


            • Alternately portrayed by Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, alleged German intelligence expert, extrapolated from documents he found in old BnD files, recently declassified. You remember the BnD, don’t you? The organization that reported Erich Honecker had defected to the west when he was actually at home in Wandlitz? The organization that reported Erich Honecker had died, funeral to be held September 24th, 1989 – but Honecker, stubbornly uncooperative, lived until 1994. The organization that reported only 10% of East Germans were opposed to reunification, based on a study that never existed?

              The BnD’s job mostly consisted of sifting through reports from agents on the western side of the Iron Curtain, and the organization was repeatedly fooled by disinformation.

              It’s a juicy story, though, complete with a large-breasted feminine love interest, Secret Agent “Lenshen”. Can’t wait for the movie.


              You might argue the BnD had a substantially better grip on things happening right under their nose, but that looks a little shaky considering they couldn’t keep tabs on the leader of their own country when he was at his residence. Imagine the snickering at the FBI if they wrote that Obama had defected to Belarus when he was actually at home – the entire Bureau would never live it down. Secret Agent Lenshen allegedly befriended Lyudmila Putina and became her confidante, so I guess Putin brought his wife and kids to work with him – either that, or Lenshen was never at work. She also supposedly acted as Lyudmila Putina’s translator, and Lyudmila must have been one hell of a quick study, since she began teaching German as soon as the family returned to Russia, and the family routinely speaks it at home.


              Don’t believe everything you hear.

  10. Алег Вешчы says

    Anatoly Karlin -nice site you put together there. I read your post-BRIC Stability:Why Occupy Wall Street Doesn’t Come To Moscow or Peking.

    I really liked some of the responses (96 in total). I will add some of them here-

  11. Oleg of Novgorod says

    I honestly don’t understand what on Earth he is trying to say up there , are you drunk, suddenly schizophrenic, or hijacked?

    Starting in late 1989 early 1990 there were four Americans working for a mid sized US oil company that started working with…

    AK edit: Link, don’t copy-paste. What does this have to do with this topic? And just to clarify, I am not Mr. X.

    • You continue to make posts which have fuck all to do with this post (FSB conspiracy theories, including purported ties to Breivik). Furthermore, they are shamelessly plagiarized from the Internet, without being marked as such. You do not even bother making your own original commentary, with the sole exception of “AK your propaganda is interesting.”

      You’ve been repeatedly warned to cease and desist. You didn’t. Enjoy your ban.

  12. Try this link in the KGB Independent I have personal experience of Vladimir Putin’s regime and the way the Russian President operates. I have been forced to seek asylum in Britain for criticising the Kremlin as an independent journalist. I have come to realise that to return to my homeland would be suicidal for me.

  13. “You FSB -Guys are funny”

    Ha, ha!!! Don’t flatter yourself, Anders. I imagine you have to be quite a heavyweight to attract the attention of the FSB, and I hear there are already people in Russia who know how to copy and paste links. So, sorry; no chloroform and being stuffed into a big hockey bag for you , to wake up in a fake hotel room in Nizhny Novgorod or Khabarovsk, where lissome young FSB chix coo in your ear, “Annndderrrrsss….show us, please, how you copy and paste….ohhh…you do it so gooooood”.

    I suppose you consider yourself a real thorn in Russia’s side, but in fact the pain you cause is a little lower down, and rotated slightly.

    I didn’t bother going to the article you linked above, but I can see in the title that it suggests the west has gone to great lengths to appease Vladimir Putin. I must have slept through that.

    • @mark: In your official capacity as secret head of FSB could u please send that lissome spy chickie over to my place. I have forgotten how to copy/paste links, and could really use a refresher course…

      • All right, what’s going on? I sent Natasha and Marina to the address you provided, and they said some skeevy-looking old man answered the door in his undershorts. They didn’t stick around, because they said his waistband looked likely to give way any second, but they said his hair was all messed up like he just crawled out from under the furnace, and he smelled like rubbing alcohol. Oh, and his undershorts were on backwards; they’re called “Y-fronts” for a reason.

        Are you sure you gave me the right address?

        • Oh dear, that was my crazy grandpa “Dedushka Vanya”. He is quite a character! I thought I had locked him up in the basement with a bottle of vodka to keep him company, but he must have escaped. Sorry if he scared the chickies away…

  14. Ha-Ha-Ha- Mark I suppose you consider yourself Putins henchman .More and more Russians like “Lenochka,” will leave their home country , and sooner or later the Russian government will have to stop allowing them. Dissent will be crushed more vigorously, and the secret police will become more and more active. Limits will be placed on the ways and means that Russians can communicate with foreigners, and ever more draconian pressure will be placed on the Internet. –

    • Dream on, Anders. You and the conservative think-tank farm have had such consistent accuracy forecasting what will happen in Russia so far, after all. You couldn’t get much more wrong by reading tea leaves. Of course, being wrong seldom imposes much in the way of restriction on the crazy.

      Why would the Russian government stop allowing people like “Lenochka” to leave? I imagine their only stipulation would be that she take Yulia Latynina with her as carry-on baggage. If you look, you’ll probably find there’s an express lane for the chronically dissatisfied.

      Ta ta; it’s been fun.

    • What’s “Lilya 4ever” got to do with this?

      • Alexander Mercouris says

        I too don’t understand the reference to “Lilya 4ever”.

        • The wikipedia page says the movie was based on the true story of a LITHUANIAN girl, named Danguole Rasalaite. So bad things happen in Lithuania too? I guess the writers had to change that and make the heroine Russian in order to demonstrate the utter hopelessness and despair of life in modern Lithuania …. I mean, Russia.

          • Alexander Mercouris says

            Dear Yalensis,

            Interesting. By the way though almost everyone seems to think “Lilya 4ever” is set in Russia it is actually set in Estonia. At one level the film could be seen as a critique of discrimination against Russians in Estonia and of exploitation of Estonia by Sweden. The girl in the film travels from Estonia to Sweden. Sweden is the dominant force in the Estonian economy whose financial system it controls. “Lilya 4ever” has nothing to do with Russia.

            • But the Russian government knows where Estonia is, so therefore they are guilty by implication. Nice try weaseling out of your guilt, Russia.

  15. Mark – ” A young woman operating under the name Lenchen, or Lenochka, was tasked with digging up information about the KGB’s military and economic activities in southern Germany. ” Do you think your the journalist Yelena Tregubova was Lyudmila Putina confidant ?

    Yelena claims Kremlin reporters have effectively been transformed into a branch of the civil service and warns the rest of the Russian media is heading the same way.
    There is not one chief editor left here who wouldn’t drop a story or a reporter if he was told to do so by the Kremlin .

    • Alexander Mercouris says

      Dear Anders,

      I hope you do not mind my asking but are you perhaps Yelena Tregubova? I only ask this because if I have read your 13th November 2011 comment correctly you are a Russian journalist who has been granted political asylum in Britain, which is of course what has happened to Yelena Tregubova. Apologies if I have misunderstood this comment and obviously you are under no obligation to answer this question if you do not want to.

      Putin’s private life is or should be a private matter. On the subject of the West German agent who claims to have infiltrated Putin’s family I should say that I am skeptical about the truth of this story. If the Germans and the other NATO powers have had this information about Putin for so long then it is strange that it has not been leaked before. Anyway I doubt that in the 1980s a KGB officer or his family could have become so close to a German woman without this attracting the attention of both the KGB and the Stasi and without questions being asked both of the woman and of the officer. This is not of course to say that Putin’s marriage is completely happy or that he has not had the odd fling. However if he was serially unfaithful one would expect to hear more. As I remember in the Soviet period the tradition was that the wives (or husbands) of political leaders should be given no attention and I wonder whether Putin is simply following this tradition. Anyway the whole subject is of no interest to me and in my opinion is one that should be left to the only people affected by it who are Putin himself and his wife.

      • Alexander Mercouris says

        Dear Anders,

        I have just read the article in the Independent mentioned in your 13th November 2011 comment. Unfortunately the link provided does not work (for my computer anyway) so I had not realised that your 13th November 2011 comment simply repeats an article published by Yelena Tregubova in 2008.

        As for the article it uses the typically overblown rhetoric favoured by Russia’s liberal opposition and makes various dire and terrible claims and predictions of the sort the liberal opposition regularly makes none of which however have come true.

  16. Alexander Mercouris says

    I entirely agree with the view of this post about the improbability to say the least of unrest in China or Russia. Just a few points:

    1. On the subject of the Tiananmen incident of 1989 Below Freezing is right. I was following events very closely at the time from London. Though there was no internet in those days even the extremely biased reporting by the western media could not conceal the fact that on the eve of the crackdown the crowds in Tiananmen Square had dwindled to just a few thousand rendering extreme force unnecessary. No evidence was ever produced of a “massacre” on the Square or indeed in Beijing. Had such a massacre taken place given the presence of western journalists and visitors in Beijing it would have been impossible even in conditions of martial law to have suppressed it. The only “evidence” that there was a massacre was that the western media relying on the usual uncorroborated gossip reported that there was one. Even by that time I had learnt to treat such reports with intense skepticism and the Wikileaks cables show that in this as in every other case I can think of I was right. Incidentally a now forgotten aspect of the incident is that for several days after the Chinese army regained control of the Square the western media was reporting as fact clashes between different units of the Chinese army some of which were alleged to have defected and gone over to the side of the protesters. Needless to say this was all complete fantasy. As all too often happens when it became impossible to persist with these claims they simply disappeared down a memory hole.

    2. Anyway, the reason why there will be no Occupy protests in China and Russia is because the reason for such protests does not exist. What has enraged many people in the US and Europe and led to the Occupy protests is the utter and visible bankruptcy of a political system that is incapable of making decisions or of pursuing policies other than those set for it by an unaccountable financial system whose greed, corruption and incompetence caused the crisis in the first place. That is absolutely not the case in China and Russia today. In both those countries the governments are fully and obviously in control and are making the own decisions. Whatever people may think of the Chinese Communist Party and of Putin and the Russian government no one seriously supposes that they are weak or controlled by the bankers.

    3. As to whether either China or Russia face any threat of unrest in the short or medium term, I am sure they do not for the reasons set out by Anatoly in his post. Below Freezing is again absolutely right when he says that China’s economic growth is a consequence of not a reason for China’s political stability. The same is equallly true of Russia. I think this fact is well understood by most people in both countries even if they might not articulate it in the way that Below Freezing and I have done. Given that this is so I cannot believe that in either country people will want to put this hard won stability at risk when recent memory shows how dire the consequences of instability are.

    • It’s a false dichotomy between stability and growth. There is clearly a feedback between them. But it is simply not plausible that Chinese people would put up with the elimination of communist “welfare” (health care, education, housing, jobs and food) if the economy was not developing. This is the deal that the Chinese regime has struck with the masses. Yeltsin threw the economy into a toilet in the name of democracy. Not surprisingly, Russians developed a very negative view of democrads and dermocrats. But the pain was worth it since there is no authoritarian regime to maintain that is always paranoid about being pushed out of power. However much the Russia haters bleat about Putin, Putin has to turn to the electorate for his job.

      • below_freezing says

        Health care and housing subsidies were indeed cut off, but education and food subsidies especially were greatly expanded. In Mao’s era, access to education was strictly rationed and only the top 1% elite could go to tertiary education of any kind (2 year trade college or 4 year university). In the 80’s, this top 1% elite expanded to a slightly less elite 5% or so. In the 90’s, with the full dismantling of the healthcare and housing subsidies, the university enrollment steadily rose. Supposedly, only 23% of people go to tertiary education in China by the West’s statistics, but going into any high school in even rural China in late June, and you can see almost every student filling out college applications.

        As for food: food in the 70’s was strictly rationed and no one, not even some high ranking officials, could afford to eat meat more than twice a year. In the 80’s, the rationing system was weakened until 1991 when it was totally dismantled. Calorie intake/day skyrocketed from an anemic 1600 calories per day, about the level of sub-Saharan Africa, to 3000 calories per day, equal to Western Europe. Today all Chinese children get 5 RMB per day food subsidies.

        Healthcare and housing of course had their prices skyrocket, but I’d think that getting the population off a sub-Saharan Africa level diet is more important than more high tech cancer treatments (as basic healthcare is still very cheap; indeed, China has an issue with antibiotics being too cheap and too widely used, thus providing a breeding ground for multi-drug resist bacteria)

        • Meat consumption stats and Gallup polls certainly seem to support what below_freezing says.

          • Almost 10% annual GDP growth for 20 years (at the expense of manufacturing jobs in the west and Russia, BTW) will have positive impacts on the standard of living of the Chinese population. This is the primary reason the Chinese government is intact. Similarly Russians can be excused for supporting Putin who brought them out of Yeltsin’s economic quagmire.

            The amount of hate the west throws at Russia is completely unbalanced if one were to use objective standards. They basically ignore the Chinese autocracy, its lack of legitimacy and serious human rights abuses, and attack Russians for voting for Putin. But this is consistent with China being the west’s sweatshop letting corporations make a killing. Russia defies the west’s imperial economics and gets demonized for it.

  17. Alexander Mercouris says

    Having agreed with Below Freezing on every other point there is one point he has made with which I do want to take issue. He contrasts China’s economic growth with Russia’s by saying that China’s exports are the result of hard work (“human capital”) whilst Russia’s are the result of natural resources so that Russia is a “rentier”.

    Russia does not have a “rentier” economy. A rentier economy is one in deficit that pays for its imports with capital drawn from its foreign investments. The classic example is late imperial Britain.

    If he will forgive me for saying so, Below Freezing is falling for the bias against energy exports that disfigures so much discussion of Russia’s economy. There is nothing simple or straightforward about extracting oil and gas and transporting it over immense distances as happens in Russia. This is a very difficult very high technology industry that the Russians have mastered after decades of hard work and investment. The situation in Russia is emphatically not analogous to development of the oil and gas resources of the Middle East that was carried out not by the Middle Eastern countries themselves but by the western powers who have at various times sponsored particular regimes in those countries such as the Saudi to protect their investments. Russia is starting to see increasing outside investment in its oil and gas industry but since it created the industry in the first place it is able to accept this investment on its own terms. As such it is not qualitatively different from the sort of outside investment in manufacturing industry that happens in China.

    Every country must make the best of what it has. Russia has extensive reserves of oil and gas and it has worked hard and successfully to exploit and sell them. China has a great population and a long coastline and it has worked hard and successfully to put them to good use by building up its export industries. Both countries are reaping the rewards for their hard work and though there is much still to do they should both be proud of what they have achieved.

    • Below freezing is just spouting the usual rubbish about resource-rich, intellectually-poor Russia. Typical nationalist chest beating. Let’s see IPG Photonics fobbed off as resource rent.

      • below_freezing says

        I’ve never said anything about Russia being intellectually poor. Russia’s technological achievements in aerospace and heavy machinery are obvious and no one would be in denial of that.

        Yes, Russia’s resource extraction technology is indeed native, and that’s something to be proud of. However, I’m still wary of anything that sells irreplacable natural resources. China’s rare earths industry is the same way; due to China’s ownership of the critical and secret separation process, there is no other country in the world that could be profitable; even if they mined their ores, they’d still have to ship them to China to process them into the metals. However, even mining in the first place is hugely damaging to the environment and it is still selling of an irreplacable natural resources.

      • Russia does have a lot of indigenous industry, some of it advanced (though IPG Photonics is a bad example, as it’s based in the US and doesn’t even have a Russian language page on its website), but it almost exclusively serves the domestic market.

        Why? In two words: Comparative advantage. Because it is just so much more profitable to export oil and etc. than almost anything else from Russia, given the relatively high wage costs and heating costs – and consequent lack of international manufacturing competitiveness – so it exports natural resources for the most part. If all these natural resources were to vanish tomorrow, Russia’s export profile would soon shift to that of a Poland or Latvia.

        It’s not necessarily a bad thing, either, as long as the easy oil money is sufficiently insulated from economy such that it doesn’t stunt the development of domestically orientated industry. Used correctly, it can even be used to propel the development of certain strategic sectors while allowing a more generous state than would otherwise be affordable.

        • sinotibetan says

          AK, below_freezing,

          I think I agree with Anatoly that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to exploit natural resources(such as oil and gas) to spur the economy. And Russia has lots and lots of oil and gas(especially gas) still waiting to be extracted(partly due to these being in very remote areas):-

          As oil and gas becomes a rarer commodity with the exhaustion of oil and gas fields world-wide, the price of oil and gas will skyrocket. When that happens, the use of ‘alternative energy source’ would be deemed cheaper than mining oil. With the development of ‘alternative energy’ and cheaper and cheaper technologies to produce them, the price of oil and gas will stabilize and there is less impetus to extract these dry. But that will be decades away and I believe that Russia has enough oil and gas to last longer than that. So, currently the ‘economic windfall’ window by being in the oil and gas industry is to Russia’s advantage. I think the challenge for Russian politicians is to keep on decreasing the economy’s reliance on oil and gas exports and diversification(which Russian politicians are doing)- and one of it is marketing those indigenous industries to other nations. One way is to export this to Asian nations – of course there would be competition from the West(US , Western Europe etc.) and Japan and Korea and of course China. It’s not ‘impossible'(as Russophobes always whine). Consider Kapersky Lab, for example.

          I think Western nations constant ‘abrasive’ attitude towards Russia is counterproductive(to their interests). It’s my belief that Russia can have a better relationship with us Asian nations because we don’t do this ‘moralizing’ thing the West is fond of. It’s a win-win for Russia, China and Asia in spite of healthy competition.


  18. Some observers even speak of the Arab Spring as a warning of what might happen in Russia if its leaders are seen to be merely passing power back and forth between them while living standards falter. However, I think it will take a lot for such a movement to gather strength in Russia: after the upheavals of the 1990s, most Russians value stability above all else. And let us not forget the fact that they like Putin – he may not be the kind of person the West would like to run Russia, but he is perfectly in tune with the man on the Moscow trolleybus.

    Medvedev has promised that if – or rather when – he is appointed prime minister after Putin makes his comeback as president, he will continue with his modernisation programme. Rarely seen without an iPad in his hands (he read his denunciation of Kudrin from one), Medvedev is a passionate advocate – at least in his public utterances – of reform. He has two mantras, which are unlikely to change: the need to wean Russia off its dependency on oil and gas, and the need to combat corruption, which stifles enterprise and scares off foreign investors.

    The trouble is, Putin and Medvedev have been in power for 11 years, and after initial reforms that were welcomed in the West, the economy is stuck in a rut, while corruption – by the Kremlin’s own admission – has got much, much worse. Bribery accounts for a phenomenal proportion of the state’s income. Medvedev says Russia loses up to $33 billion a year due to corruption; independent experts put it at $300bn – a quarter of GDP. The chief military prosecutor says 20% of the military procurement budget is stolen by corrupt officials. The average bribe paid to state officials is $10,000.

    Corruption has soared because it is intimately tied up with a vast network of officials, politicians and businessmen linked, ultimately, to Putin himself. It is the kind of corruption that grows when a clique stays in power too long.

    So the danger is that Medvedev’s hopes for reform, even if they are real, will sink in the great cesspit of corruption and cronyism, pulled down by the inertia of the system. Neither Medvedev nor Putin can provide the fresh impetus needed to pull Russia out. And they may be terrified of letting anyone else do so because so much of the sleaze leads back to them and their cronies.

    Almost the entire political elite, and the controllers of Russia’s oil, gas and media empires, are either from Putin’s home town, St Petersburg, or are former KGB operatives, or are simply friends with whom he once founded a “dacha co-operative” – a private village of country houses on a lake outside St Petersburg. The extent of their wealth and influence is breathtaking, and they will be in no hurry to give it up.

  19. @Moscow Exile (continued from above thread on forgiving debts). Thanks for etymological examples! As German example shows, it seems that in many languages the words for “debt” and “guilt” are the same, or similar. Your example of German “Geld” (money) being cognate to English “guilt” is instructive. If I were not trained as a professional linguist (although not a practicing one nowadays!) I might hazard some comment as to cultural significance of this conflation. As it is, I draw no cultural conclusions, this conflation could be entirely accidental, maybe even an accident of sound-changes occuring in the posited Indo-Aryan-Semitic proto-language that caused two completely different words to merge as one; and then this word handed down/borrowed/adapted from language to language… just speculating… You remark that “debt” and “sin” are the same word in Aramaic as well. Since Jesus probably spoke Aramaic as his native tongue, it is entirely possible that in his stand-up act, he was scoring a pun that would have amused his plebeian listeners.

  20. the main burden being the hordes of young unemployed Arab men (and unemployable, because of low skills). When food prices approached a critical level in 2011, social pressures reached a tipping point, and revolutions of varying types and success levels followed in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Bahrain.
    I disagree with adding Libya and Syria to the list. Yalensis mentioned the Qatari in Libya, but there is more to it:
    a) There were no problems with food prices and no food shortages in Libya
    b) The number of rebels in March was reported as “only about 1,000″*. (So, while there was some sort of domestic insurgence, it can’t be qualified as national, or even regional.
    c) Numerous sources claimed that the rebels were largely foreigners (**), mostly Egyptians, Algerians, people from South Asia, and others***

    (**) (i)

    As for Syria, this is the most succinct report: : There is no domestic insurgence_period_