Voices from Russia

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Saakashvili’s Behaviour a Crying Shame

Filed under: politics,Russian,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

Soldiers of Failure (a satirical poster by Dmitri Pushkov (“the Goblin”), one of the most popular and well-loved satirists in Moscow, 2008)

Leaders either do their duty in a dignified way or die with honour. As regards Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who ran away from the sound of his own cannon and a faraway warplane, and who chewed on his own tie, words like dignity and honour seem to be grossly out of place. The moment you become a national leader, you no longer belong to yourself, you represent your country and your people, and nothing should put down your sense of dignity, pride, and firmness of character. This is an axiom all national leaders stick to and one’s behaviour in a critical situation is a litmus test of the ability to govern.

A Schedule (Dmitri Pushkov, “the Goblin”, 2008)

None of these traits happens to apply to the Georgian President though. If his behaviour is anything to go by, the Georgian people will never again be called proud and brave. Only small… Besides being cruel, Saakashvili also is a pathological coward given to bouts of uncontrolled panic. Well, if this man is the Commander-in-Chief of the Georgian armed forces, then one can only imagine what his soldiers really are like. Killers are never good warriors, whilst strong people, unlike weaklings, have big hearts. We all saw the Georgian president running away like a crazy man at the first sight of a warplane flying high overhead. Switching, for some strange reason, to English, he started yelling, “Let’s move away!” at the top of his voice… No one has ever seen a national leader act like this before… Essentially, an ordinary situation pushed President Saakashvili into panicking. If one saw oneself acting like this on the TV screen, anyone in their right mind would immediately resign, realising full well that they had forever lost their people’s trust. This is more than just a political death; it illustrates our innate disgust for cowardice.

Final (Dmitri Pushkov, “the Goblin”, 2008)

We remember other leaders who died with honour, like, for example, the late Chilean President Salvador Allende, who fought Pinochet’s men to the bitter end in 1973. The very same rings true about deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whose final moments before his execution inspired nothing but respect. US President Ronald Reagan, who was wounded during a 30 March 1981 assassination attempt, realised he was on camera, so, he behaved with courage and dignity before blacking out in the operating theatre… Examples like these abound, but, none of them applies to Saakashvili. It’s always easier to give out orders to kill than it is to run the slightest risk yourself. Having seen the infamous footage from Gori, it became clear that political death is nothing compared to the shame the Georgian people felt at that moment. Mikhail Saakashvili is free to keep chewing on his tie. He will surely get a new one from Bush…

26 August 2008

David Brian

Voice of Russia World Service



Prime Minister Putin: US Failure to Restrain Georgia Harmed Russian-American Relations

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

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (1952- )

Prime Minister Putin blasted the United States on Thursday for its inability to keep Georgia from attacking South Ossetia, and said that this had damaged bilateral relations. “This [inability], of course, harmed our relations, first of all, intergovernmental [relations]”, Mr Putin told CNN in an interview. Tbilisi launched a military offensive against South Ossetia on 8 August, seeking to take control of the region. At least 64 Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of South Ossetian civilians died, with thousands more forced to flee the devastated republic.

Mr Putin said Russia hoped the United States would step into the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict and stop Georgia attacking South Ossetia. “We expected the US to intervene in the conflict and stop the aggressive actions of the Georgian leadership”, he told CNN. However, Mr Putin said, “The US administration not only failed to restrain the Georgian leadership from this criminal action, but, the American side in fact trained and equipped the Georgian army”.

Seven of the world’s leading industrialised nations condemned Russia’s decision on Tuesday to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, whilst calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops from Georgia. “We, the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, condemn the action of our fellow G8 member”, the group said in a joint statement. Meanwhile, Mr Putin said Russia had no intention of turning a blind eye to the killings of its citizens for the sake of membership of the G8.

Speaking on Russia’s relations with the West, Mr Putin said that Russia would not use energy to achieve its aims, as Russia also depended on the stability of its gas supplies. However, he dealt a blow to US poultry exporters, announcing that 19 US companies are now banned from exporting their products to Russia as they “failed health and safety tests”. He also added that 29 other companies were warned to “improve their standards or face the same ban”.

28 August 2008



Editor’s Note:

There is much less to the western “condemnation” than it seems at first glance. The only two reliable supporters of the USA in this are Canada and the UK, both countries of the Anglosphere. Italy is so wobbly that Cheney is going there next week in an attempt to strongarm its government (it shall probably backfire). Japan shall withdraw its protest if it gets some of the Kuriles (this is a typical diplomatic bargaining chip, nothing more). France has already asked for Russian support in its peacekeeping mission to Chad, and is getting it.

However, the weakest link in this chain is Germany. Frau Merkel leads a fragile coalition in the Bundestag. 46 percent of the seats are held by the CDU and its allies. 46 percent are held by the SPD and its allies. The balance of power (8 percent of the seats) is held by the Greens, who are NOT a right-wing party. In fact, the Greens were former coalition partners of the SPD, and history can repeat itself. Herr Schröder is waiting in the wings, and nothing would please him more than to bring down Frau Merkel. Do reflect on the fact that Herr Steinmeier, the Foreign Minister, is from the SPD, not the CDU. Interesting, nicht wahr? A very frail reed for Bush to hang a foreign policy on, isn’t it?

In short, the western “condemnation” was pure and bootless GIGO. It only brought the frailty of the western coalition into clear focus. I do daresay that Moscow has noticed it. If an insignificant person such as I am can see it…


Tensions with the US Will Not Be Fatal For the Russian Economy

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

US businessmen and analysts say terrorising Russian business over the Georgian war would run contrary to Washington’s interest. Most Russian analysts say the United States cannot inflict serious damage on the Russian economy in any case. Dmitri Serebrennikov, chief of the investment division at Finam holding, said, “The United States is not Russia’s main trading partner, their mutual turnover accounts for less than 4 percent of Russia’s foreign trade. Therefore, cuts in US demand for Russian exports will not have a serious effect even in the middle term”. However, tensions with the US could create some problems for some Russian companies.

Mikhail Korchemkin, director of the consulting company East European Gas Analysis, said, “Gazprom’s advance into the European markets was blocked by the European Union’s new directive [on the security of natural gas supply]”. He said that sanctions would complicate the issue of permits to build gas pipelines across the Baltic and Black Seas. Deterioration in the situation in the Caucasus would also complicate Gazprom’s gas-swap negotiations with Azerbaijan. “These contracts will suit Azerbaijan only until the Nabucco pipeline is commissioned, after which it will not need the route across Russia,” Mr Korchemkin said.

Theoretically, Russian metal giants, which have assets in the US, may also have problems. Norilsk Nickel has bought OM Group for 400 million dollars. Evraz owns Oregon Steel Mills and Claymont Steel, in which it has invested nearly 3 billion dollars. The other day, Severstal agreed to buy PBS Coals Corporation for 1.3 billion dollars. Russian metals companies, primarily Severstal and Evraz, currently account for over 9 percent of the United States’ steel market.

Mikhail Armyakov, chief analyst at Sovlink, a company set up to attract foreign investment to the Russian fuel and energy industries, said they would have no problems if they honour all provisions of local legislation. “But, Russian companies willing to buy assets in the US will find that it has become much more difficult to do”, he said. Analysts agree that political tensions with the United States will not seriously affect the Russian economy. Dmitri Sachin, head of the investment group East Kommerts, said, “Tensions with the United States will not be fatal for the Russian economy.” Dmitri Bogdanov, vice-president of the Kapital Asset Management Company, said, “Russia will remain a key energy supplier for Europe and is also becoming a crucial market for European and American goods and services”.

28 August 2008


As quoted in RIA-Novosti


28 August 2008. Let’s Go to the Movies!

Filed under: cinema,history,inspirational,patriotic,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Now that things have settled down a bit in the world, I am getting back to “business as usual”. Here is a new, occasional, feature. If I find a good movie trailer or clip on You Tube, I’ll put it here so you can find out more on Russian cinema. Then, if you like it, go hunt for it! I don’t have any “insider” edge, so, you’re on your own there. Grab that popcorn and “let’s go to the movies!”

This is for a forthcoming production by Pervy Kanal TV (FIrst Channel TV) and CIS 20th Century Fox. It is entitled Admiral Kolchak, and is due out in November 2008. It is a grand historical epic on the life of the great White Guard leader who fought the Reds in the Civil War. Of course, it covers his famous love affair with his mistress Anna Vasilevna Timireva. 

There is a new epic movie Aleksandr Nevsky, on (who else?) Grand Prince Aleksandr Nevsky. You may have to use the Western spelling, “Alexander Nevsky”, to find it. Remember, you are not looking for the classic 1938 Eisenstein film, rather, this is a new production.

Trailer for the epic 1612, covering the successful Russian repulsion of a Polish invasion, where the Poles attempted to ram Roman Catholicism (via the Uniates) down our throats. This is one of the pivotal events of Russian history, as it guaranteed our survival as a free Orthodox people.

Theme music from the movie 1612.

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