News 10 Jan

Russian moves to ban tobacco advertising

MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government has decided to completely ban tobacco advertizing, by signing up to a World Health Organization anti-smoking convention.

In its first session of the year, the government approved a draft law on joining the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which stipulates a ban on advertizing tobacco products.

The FCTC requires parties “in accordance with their respective constitution and constitutional principles, to undertake a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of the WHO FCTC’s entry into force for that Party.”

About time, considering that 70% of men and 30% of women smoke in Russia, one of the highest rates in the world, and that 300,000 people die from smoking every year in Russia.

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Annals of Western Hypocrisy – Georgia Presidential Elections 2008

Saakashvili wins Georgian elections in first round (January 6th)

TBILISI, Georgia: Georgia’s American-allied president won re-election over the weekend and avoided a runoff election in this small former Soviet state by a margin of 1 percent of the vote, according to official results released Sunday.

The main opposition candidate, Levan Gachechiladze, did not concede the election and on Sunday he claimed that fraud had tainted the results. He called for street protests, threatening a muddy the outcome.

The campaign organization of Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated leader close to the Bush administration, had already claimed victory on the basis of on exit polling during the election Saturday. International observers called the vote free “in essence” but cited violations.

This normally wouldn’t matter much, but bearing in mind the narrowness of Saakashvili’s final score (52.21 as of 8 Jan) this can be significant.

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Reading Russia Right

At present, all we see is chaos, struggle, economic collapse, ethnic disintegration – just as the observers of 1918 did. How could they have foreseen then that a decade or so later the USSR would have begun to produce chemicals, aircraft, trucks, tanks, and machine tools and be growing faster than any other industrialized society? By extension, how could Western admirers of Stalin’s centralized economy in the 1930’s know that the very system contained the seeds of its own collapse?

Preparing for the Twenty First Century, Ch. 11, ‘The Erstwhile USSR and its Crumbled Empire’, pp. 249, Paul Kennedy (1993).

Assessing Russia’s effective strength has been a problem for observers of the country since its inception. It’s a riddle, an enigma and a mystery all wrapped up in one, as Churchill wryly noted long ago, and that’s unlikely to change soon. In any case the paradigm has certainly held these past fifteen years since the Soviet disintegration.

Wildly optimistic predictions of tigerish growth rates and flourishing democracy were confounded, as practically every socio-economic statistic worsened and reforms were perceived to have authorized the wholesale looting of Russia – ‘the sale of the century’ – and the creation of a ‘historyless elite’ focused on the ‘exchange of unaccountable power for untaxable wealth’. By the end of the 1990’s, the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, tax collection and monetary emissions had eroded; market fundamentalism had transformed the Upper Volta with missiles into a ‘looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized anarchy’ in a demographic death spiral presided over by the ‘world’s most virulent kleptocracy’ about to splinter along ethnic lines and fall into fascism sometime tomorrow. The Atlantic put it nice and simple: ‘Russia is Finished’.

Since the 1998 financial crisis, the state has reasserted itself. The ostentatious oligarchs who flaunted their power in the 1990’s have been brought to heel and what Kremlin ideologists call a ‘power vertical’ has been established in politics. Growth since then has been around 7% per annum, returning the economy to Soviet peak levels of output by around 2003. Poverty has been slashed and the middle class has exploded, attested to by impressive increases in such areas as car and mobile phone ownership, Internet penetration and living space. Rising oil prices permitted the cancellation of most debt obligations and the creation of gigantic foreign currency reserves; yet since 2003, consumption and more recently investment have played an increasingly significant role. Indeed, the idea that the Russian recovery is due entirely, or even mostly, to high oil prices is a myth – indeed, production has been more or less stagnant since 2005 in the hydrocarbons sector. Retail, construction and late manufacturing have been the key drivers of growth – like in the Baltics or neighboring CIS countries. Big Western firms such as Peugeot, Toyota and Mitsubishi are building up production capacity in Russia. The government is starting moves to diversify the economy by pursuing investment in ‘national priority projects’ (education, heath, housing and agriculture) and targeted investments into ‘strategic industries’ like aircraft and space, shipbuilding and nanotechnology.

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Welcome to Da Russophile

Da Russophile offers original analysis in our Core Articles and Editorials, records Russia-related News from an eclectic mix of media outlets with commentary and throws in some Flotsam and Jetsam (funny photos, videos or other light relief).

This is a response to what we see as the consistent and almost systematic defamation of Russia in the Western media. Is this because of unpleasant memories of the Soviet Union? A search for new enemies? A barely repressed fear of the East and the barbaric hordes that its vast plains harbor, buried deep within the Western psyche?

Whatever it is, we believe that truth will vanquish lies – no matter how hard liars try to supress, ignore or simulate truth. Hence this blog will go like a burning match into the darkness of fear and ignorance. It might not do much at first, but a match can ignite forests.

Is Russia’s economy nothing more than an oil bubble? No. The economy is driven above all by retail, construction and manufacturing. Is Russia blighted by endemic corruption on a scale comparable to Zaire under Mobutu? No. Russia’s level of corruption is comparable to that of the Czech Republic. Has Putin clamped down on democracy and human rights? Only a negligibly small percentage of Russians would agree.

Do you have a hard time coming to terms with the above claims? Yes? I’m not surprised, given the Western media’s embedded Russophobia. However, they are all well-documented. Consult my Top 10 Russophobe Myths.

Finally about the title. We consider ourselves as the polar opposite to La Russophobe, which is why we’ve called ourselves Da Russophile. La Russophobe hates Russia and Russians, which can be deduced from even a cursory glance at the crude and racist stereotyping that goes on in that blog (she even has the gall to argue Russia should have surrendered to the Nazis, who planned to exterminate 75% of them and helotize the rest). Da Russophile loves Russia and is committed to spreading an objective picture of it in the wider world.

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