Voices from Russia

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… Crooks and Falsifiers

Bear Stearns manager in bracelets being hauled off to the slammer. American business transparency at work! I wonder which big-wig this poor zhlub is taking the rap for? You can bet that they aren’t going to be humiliated in public like this.


Even the rich record of financial scandals in America featured nothing like the development I’m going to focus on. A few days ago, FBI agents broke into the offices of several banks on Wall Street to handcuff as many as 406 respectable businessmen. The topmost executive officers of Bear Stearns were put behind bars one day later. All the arrested businessmen were charged with business fraud. They’re said to bear the blame for the economic crisis in the USA. Such are the accusations. However, knowledgeable people surely understand that even half a thousand crooks are incapable of bringing down the powerful American economy and stirring up a global financial tempest. All they could possibly do is bring to the boil a long-brewing cataclysm. Yet, the powers-that-be can’t do without scapegoats, for this relieves them of the burden of the blame for the alarming economic developments.

It just so happened that the notoriously-well-known human rights watchdog, Freedom House, came out with an annual survey that seemed part of a well-planned and well-orchestrated anti-Russian campaign reminiscent of the worst years of the Cold War, just when the 400-plus bank executives were being handcuffed in their offices. Neither the sponsors nor the authors of that report could expect the two developments to happen at the same time. That’s why it was so funny to learn from their annual survey that although there were wealthy people in America, and although those wealthy people held positions of power, transparency was what made America so different from Russia. According to Freedom House, one’s always welcome to find out how those wealthy individuals have risen so high and how their money is spent in political endeavours and business ventures. Sounds great in the light of that sweeping crackdown on the business community which was prompted by fear of an even bigger scandal, doesn’t it?

If someone was caught spinning that sort of yarn years ago, he was supposed to put a bullet in his head. Years ago, I said. I doubt that a co-author of the Freedom House’s survey for 2008, Robert Orttung, will do as little as apologise for his words. His nose in the air, Mr Orttung said the Freedom House survey was completely devoid of bias. He could hardly expect the FBI to do him such a bad turn in an operation that put the limelight on the honest, highly transparent, in a word, highly un-Russian, business community of the USA. I am not speaking only of a scandalous episode in a fiercely anti-Russian campaign, but of a development that put to the test Freedom House’s claim to an unbiased approach to reality.

Falsifiers who pose as champions of human rights are sorry to report a decline in the Russian electoral process, control of the Russian media, and other oft-repeated allegations. They feign oblivion of Al Gore’s victory in the American presidential elections of 2000, the Supreme Court’s decision to ignore that result of the ballot and award the victory to the Republican hopeful George W Bush, and the more than 30,000 violations of the electoral law in the American elections of 2004. Because they fretted so much about the Russian media, the co-authors of the Freedom House report failed to hear what the editors-in-chief of the New York Times and the Washington Post said about political orientation briefings at the White House. The newborn darling of the West, the Freedom House survey for 2008, is full of bias and is peppered with lies. No matter how hard they’re trying to play up the self-proclaimed independence of the oft-quoted Transatlantic Institute, the co-authors of Freedom House’s and similar surveys are nothing but hired servants of a system that was built to wage a verbal war on Russia. It’s in the light of this that one should read the latest contribution from the free-roaming falsifiers of history in the employ of that self-proclaimed champion of human rights, the US-based Freedom House.

4 July 2008

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

If we’re holding Russia up to scorn for its elections, we’re not much better… look at Chicago, for instance. One wonders why they even hold elections. Free media? I see little difference between ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN. “Four different flavours of Pravda”, a friend of mine said once, and he was correct. In short, both kettles are as black as sin, both sets of politicians are out for themselves, with the possible exception that the Russian sorts aren’t as in thrall to globalising tycoons (probably, the real reason for all the sturm und drang concerning them in the first instance). America still doesn’t have any statesman to compare with Vladimir Putin, and that’s the end of it. Lying about Russia isn’t going to change that. Vlad Putin for President and Lee Kwan Yew for Vice President, anyone? (Laugh! It’s a joke, son…)



Oil Prices Set New Record Highs

Filed under: diplomacy,economy,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

The price of a barrel of oil was at over 146 dollars (3,431 roubles. 93.92 euros. 73.58 UK pounds) for the first time in New York and London trading on Thursday. Analysts say that concerns over supply in Iran, the world’s fourth-biggest crude producer, was a major factor bringing up prices. Speculation mounted that Israel and the US might be planning a military strike on suspected nuclear weapons sites in Iran. Iran warned that any attack would be met with an effort to choke off oil shipments through the Straits of Hormuz, which daily carries 80 percent of the oil from the fields of the Persian Gulf.

A statement made by Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi at the World Petroleum Congress this week is seen as another reason. He mentioned that, at present, there are no shortages on the market. This may hint that Saudi Arabia, a leading world oil exporter, is not willing to fulfil its pledge to boost crude output. The struggling US economy is also to be regarded as a factor. According to a report from its Energy Department, American oil deposits have lost several million barrels over the past week.

All these factors will still be relevant in the foreseeable future, so oil prices are expected to climb further. In the opinion of a Russian expert, Dr Igor Davidenko, “There is nothing more natural than growing oil prices. The price of 150 dollars (3,525 roubles. 95.48 euros. 75.60 UK pounds) per barrel is yet quite reasonable. When it goes above 200 dollars (4,700 roubles. 127.30 euros. 100.80 UK pounds) per barrel, it will trigger the need to step up searching for alternative sources of energy. I expect a lot of discoveries in this field. At present, only some researchers and venture companies are preoccupied with the issue. Bio-fuels cannot ease the looming energy crisis because there is not enough water supplies and space for cropland to convert crop plants into distilled spirits”.

Some analysts forecast that a barrel of oil in New York trading may breach the psychologically important mark of 150 dollars (3,525 roubles. 95.48 euros. 75.60 UK pounds) by next week. The tendency is hard to stop, as the market is functioning like a nasty mob driven by emotions rather than objective reality.

4 July 2008

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Voice of Russia World Service


Russia and Japan may come to an Agreement on the Border Issue

Filed under: diplomacy,Dmitri Medvedev,economy,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (1936- )

The government of Japan welcomed President Dmitri Medvedev’s readiness to continue talks on the border issue. Speaking to reporters in the run-up to the summit in Hokkaido, the president said Russia and Japan have every chance to strike an agreement on the border issue should they demonstrate a realistic approach and work in a friendly atmosphere. In his interview, President Medvedev provided a balanced assessment of the border issue, as Russia and Japan have failed to come to an agreement, so far. In his opinion, there is no need to dramatise the situation. Instead, the two sides should carry on looking for solutions in accordance with earlier statements. Standing out against previous statements is President Medvedev’s view that there is no point in trying to achieve substantial progress over a short period of time because it is hardly possible.

Mr Medvedev called for open discussions of both earlier and newly-voiced proposals. Thus, the dialogue should go on based on the currently-effective legal framework, which should pave the way for new ideas and a new vision of the issue. What is needed is a search for unconventional solutions, respect of both parties’ interests, and good will. God willing, the border issue will stay central at talks on bilateral ties between President Dmitri Medvedev and the Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. Naturally, bilateral relations with Japan will not be on the agenda of meetings with other participants in the summit. Leaders of the world’s most developed countries will be discussing global issues, such as the food crisis, growing fuel prices, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and protection of the environment.

On these issues, Russia and Japan have a lot in common. During bilateral talks Mr Medvedev and Mr Fukuda will consider a wide range of issues related to bilateral cooperation, which is gradually acquiring the character of a constructive partnership. Bilateral trade exceeded 20 billion dollars (470.02 billion roubles. 12.73 billion euros. 10.08 billion UK pounds) last year. Japan has provided more than 5 billion dollars (117.505 billion roubles. 3.183 billion euros. 2.52 billion UK pounds) in credit tranche to finance the second stage of the Sakhalin-2 project. Tokyo is involved in extensive cooperation with the Russian Far East. An instance of this cooperation is the recently commissioned undersea optical carrier between Sakhalin and Hokkaido with a capacity of 640 megabits per second, which has become the first direct communication link between Russia and Japan.

President Medvedev expressed his satisfaction over relations with Japan, which he sees as a major partner in global economic affairs. He acknowledged that the absence of a border settlement muddies further progress of bilateral relations, but, there is no need, in his opinion, to exaggerate the problem, nor is there any need to forget about it. It should get its reasonable place in bilateral relations.

4 July 2008

Yevgeny Nikolaev

Voice of Russia World Service


President Medvedev shall hold Bilateral Meetings in the context of the G-8 Summit in Japan

President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- )

President Dmitri Medvedev shall hold about a dozen bilateral meetings in course of the forthcoming G-8 summit in Japan. The announcement was made by Arkady Dvorkovich, a presidential aide and envoy to the G-8 Group. As the summit takes place from 7 to 9 July, the president is facing a fairly crowded schedule. The number of bilateral meetings may prove bigger yet, since amongst the invitees are the leaders of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa and amongst those coming for the first time shall be representatives of South Korea, Indonesia, and Australia.

Millions across the globe expect the summit to suggest effective measures to overcome the economic, financial, and food crises. This requires a high level of responsibility from all the participants and a high level of trust and understanding. If so, personal chemistry is a must. Even though Mr Medvedev met many of the participants in the Hokkaido summit before, he’ll be seeing them for the first time in the capacity of head of state. For this reason, the coming talks should lay a foundation for bilateral ties in the future.

One such meeting shall be with US President George Bush, who shall leave office in January 2009. Russia and the US have cooperated closely in settling the knottiest of global and regional disputes. No doubt, a dialogue with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown shall prove effective in unravelling piles of bilateral problems and placing Russia-Britain relations at a higher level. Talks with the leaders of France and Italy should cement the genuine partnership, understanding, and close cooperation they established with Russia during President Putin’s term of office. Although it promises to be difficult, Mr Medvedev’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister should prove productive too. Apparently, President Medvedev’s bilateral contacts at the G-8 summit in Hokkaido are bound to make up an important part of the agenda.

4 July 2008

Viktor Yenikeyev

Voice of Russia World Service


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