Why 80 Chechens can “Own” A Russian City of 40,000 People

The commentator Дарман, who appears to be from Dagestan, argues that Chechens are quite different from the other North Caucasian nationalities. Apparently, minorities in Russia don’t like Chechens much more than do ethnic Russians. (Brings to mind that War Nerd quote, “They seem like one of those tribes that are either going to rule the world or go […]

Bribery in Russia has Either Recently Soared… or Plummeted

Or neither. Well, isn’t this a useless post? I am referring to the Global Corruption Barometer released by Transparency International a couple of weeks ago, which I covered at my other blog. For the most part, there were no surprises; the only really strange figures came from Taiwan, where 36% of people claimed to have paid […]

Sobyanin vs. Navalny, in Figures

There has been some confusion about Navalny’s poll ratings due to the varying timing, phrasing, and options in the polls on the matter. The Russian Spectrum tries to clear things up. Navalny Gaining, Sobyanin Dominant Below is a summary of comparable polls on this subject by date from two of Russia’s three biggest polling agencies: […]

Only 15% of Scandinavian Pupils can do Basic Fractions

Further to my post on the remarkable failure of Scandinavian education systems to develop their students to anywhere near the levels indicated by their IQ potentials, a professor of mathematics at a Wisconsin university sent me data on the percentage of respondents in the TIMSS who gave the correct answer to the following question: Which […]

The (Abortive) End of The Russia Debate

Its failure is so stark that I hardly need post a notification on the actual site. To the extent that I visit it nowadays it is mostly just to clean spam, which is just depressing. It has not achieved critical mass, despite the initial incentives on offer, and in my experience if a forum fails […]

Why Jailing Navalny is a Great Idea

Earlier today, Navalny received a custodial sentence of five years for the theft of 15 million rubles ($500,000) worth of timber from Kirovles. It is simply not true to say that there was “no case” against Navalny, as the Western and Russian liberal media insists on doing. There is wiretap evidence and witness testimony that […]

Sobyanin Beating Navalny in Moscow

With the registration period over, there are now six candidates left to compete for the position of Mayor of Moscow in the coming city elections. Who will Muscovites vote for? Moscow on the Eve of the City Elections Which of the following candidates are you prepared to vote for in the upcoming Moscow elections on […]

The Navalny Verdict

Livestream in Russian, English. He’s been found guilty, as expected. The main question is what the sentence will be: Suspended, or a real term. Here is my prediction (which on developments so far might well turn out to be awfully wrong). Discuss. UPDATE: Even if he is found guilty and sentenced, he still has the choice […]

2 Murders, 3 Years, 12 Families: Why Pugachev Residents are Angry

Though I know I missed the train on this news, one point in particular is worth drawing attention to as regard the stabbing of (the half-Tatar) paratrooper Ruslan Morzhanov by a 16-year-old ethnic Chechen, which incited the small town of Pugachev to stage a peaceful mini-revolt against the feds. The town has seen similar tragedies before. A […]

Translation: Cheap Food and Gambling in Belarus, but no Psychics

Two Russian travel writers, Natalia Ko and Nikolay Varsegov, share their experiences in Belarus – very positive ones, for the most part – with readers of Komsomolskaya Pravda. You can Gamble in Belarus, but Seances are Forbidden The first surprise on detraining in Minsk: The taxi drivers here don’t pester you, shouting, “Where are you going?” […]

Preliminary Thoughts on TIMSS/PIRLS 2012

I had been meaning to post about this for a long time. Better late than never, I suppose. The TIMSS and PIRLS are international assessments of academic ability in math, science and literacy that are conducted once every four years. They are similar to the PISA tests, although the latter are less purely academically focused […]

The Social Thaw: Change in Facebook Policy

My response to Snowdengate, the new Graph Search, its inevitable integration with Google Glass? I will be minimizing my privacy settings and for all intents and purposes making my Facebook public. So good ahead, look up my profile. Friend me. Whatever. I don’t mind. Sounds counter-intuitive, huh? There’s a logic behind the madness. It’s now a […]

Corruption, The American Way

So apparently an Ambassadorship costs $1.8 million per post in the US. In virtually any other country, even where the situation with corruption is quite dismal, such arrangements would be seen as unquestionably corrupt. And yet the US scores an entirely respectable 73/100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), leagues above say Italy which gets […]

Russia Overtakes Germany To Become Europe’s Largest Economy

See data. For real, this time. While it is perhaps a big strange to start thinking of Russia as a high-income economy, it’s not so surprising when looking at concrete statistics such as vehicle consumption, Internet penetration, etc. – all of which are now at typical South European and advanced East-Central European levels (even if there’s still some […]

GCB2013 Released

Here it is. Or just skip the graphics and download the data in Excel here. I can’t say I care much about most of it. Of course most people everything think corruption is “increasing,” because they are a grumpy lot. What does matter is the number of people who report paying a bribe in the […]

Eurasian Integration Is A Liberal Project Opposed By Neocon Bolsheviks

My latest for VoR/US-Russia Experts panel. Hope you like the title. 🙂 The political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was one of the major contributing factors to the “hyper-depression” that afflicted not only Russia but all the other constituent republics in the 1990’s. The Soviet economy had been an integrated whole; an aircraft might have its engines […]

Translation: Muscovites Aren’t Hot for Navalny

Moskovsky Komsomolets’ Dmitry Katorzhnov takes a walk around Moscow to ask people what they feel about Navalny. The impressions he gets don’t promise anything good for his campaign. MK’s Poll: Most Muscovites don’t Want to Vote for Navalny Half of the respondents do not intend to go to the polls anyhow. On Wednesday, July 10 Alexey […]

From Russia To Russabia? Not Anytime Soon

Faced with the utter failure of their doom-laden projections for Russia’s population future to describe reality – it’s population is now not only growing in absolute terms, but even barring migration its number of births now virtually equals the number of deaths – the more guttural elements of the interwebs are now resorting to another […]

Lessons From The Snowden Affair

(1) Just as with Manning, it is beyond dispute that Snowden broke US law. As such, the US government is perfectly entitled to try to apprehend him (on its own soil), request his extradition, and prosecute him. This is quite perpendicular to whether Snowden’s leaks were morally “justified” or not. In some sense, they were. […]

The World Russia Forum 2013

This June I had the pleasure of once again attending and speaking at the World Russia Forum. The event now happens twice a year, in Washington DC and Moscow, and is intended to draw together Russian and American experts, academics, journalists, and policy-makers in an effort to improve relations between these two nations. An account of […]