Voices from Russia

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… Tumbling Pillars of Wall Street


What has happened was destined to happen. There was no way for it not to happen. The financial disaster came as no surprise to Wall Street. Nor did it come out of the blue. Furthermore, it wasn’t without a good reason for its happening that it finally happened. However, the long-looming crisis seems worse than expected. Three of the five supporting pillars of Wall Street have tumbled down. Lehman Brothers Bank was 150-years-old, it survived the Civil War and the Great Depression, only to share the fate of other financial monsters in the whirling storm of 2008.  It’s impossible to live indefinitely on borrowed money, but the aggregate debt of the federal and municipal governments, banks, and business corporations topped threefold the American GDP at the beginning of 2007. That sounds worse than the Great Depression. The American public debt skyrocketed from 5.5 trillion dollars (142.691 trillion roubles. 3.984 trillion euros. 3.116 trillion UK pounds) to 9.3 trillion dollars (241.278 trillion roubles. 6.737 trillion euros. 5.269 trillion UK pounds) in the years of the Bush-Cheney Administration. Corporate debt has, in the meantime, grown twofold, to come close to an unimaginable 14 trillion dollars (363.215 trillion roubles. 10.142 trillion euros. 7.932 trillion UK pounds). The frenetic efforts by the nearly-desperate Bush Administration cannot turn the tide.

Any sober-minded person can’t help wondering what kept the powers-that-be from looking in the right direction, why the USA was driven to this financially-catastrophic condition. With dark clouds gathering in the sky over the American economy, George W Bush revealed to the masses last January what he was planning to do, not for a return to the normal state of affairs, mind you, but for the accelerated advance of the national economy! Far from down-to-earth, his plan for action highlighted nothing but his favourite ideas of corporate tax reductions. Nine months into the year, that plan for action rests clean forgotten by George W Bush and the Republican Party’s next-in-line, John McCain. However, the Republican Administration seems to have no intention of discarding the political manifesto which caused the economic problems of today’s America. It’s planning to allocate more than half a trillion dollars (12.971 trillion roubles. 362.2 billion euros. 283.3 billion UK pounds), i.e. 74 percent more than it did back in 2001, to the Pentagon in its draft of next year’s federal budget. Not once since the end of World War II has the military received such a big sum of money from the federal budget. The military spending of the United States tops the sum total of the military budgets of all other nations taken together.

What the next US President stands to inherit from the incumbent compares unfavourably with what George W Bush inherited from his predecessor in January 2001. It took the Bush Administration a year to squander the inherited budget surplus and run into debt. Budget deficit grew, year in and year out, before becoming critically big on the eve of the current financial tempest. Bloated military budgets provide an explanation for the negative balance between budget revenues and budget spending. Military spending grew 62 percent under the Bush Administration. Washington resumed the arms race of the Cold War period. Moreover, I have to point out that it resumed the arms race before the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, which would be played up under the banner of anti-terrorist action, but in the best interests of the military-industrial complex, whose intrinsic dangers were explained to Americans by a great leader, President Dwight D Eisenhower.

The hopelessly-lost war in Iraq, according to expert estimates, will devour three trillion dollars (77.832 trillion roubles. 2.173 trillion euros. 1.7 trillion UK pounds). Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, said in a new book that the recklessly-planned war in Iraq definitely weakened the American economy. It’s impossible to spend three trillion dollars on a sure-to-be-lost war, Professor Stiglitz said, and not be called to account at home base. What’s happening to the American economy measures up to Professor Stiglitz’s words about payment at home base. Neither American policy-makers nor the participants in the presidential race are ready to say that out loud, but sooner or later, they’ll have to admit that their ambitious, but short-sighted, leaders placed an unbearable burden on the shoulders of America. Catchy as it was, belief in the omnipotence of America has ended. Whatever losses it inflicts, the tempest will eventually calm down, but America will never again be what it used to be up to September 2008. Powerful as it is, it’s incapable of dominating the world.

26 September 2008

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service




The Verdict of the Presidium of the RF Supreme Court Rehabilitating the Royal Family Caused Stormy Discussion amongst Russian Bloggers

The verdict declaring that the last Russian tsar, Nikolai II, and his family were punished without justification caused heated discussions amongst Russian Bloggers in the cyberworld. “Ura!” wrote political scientist Pavel Svyatenkov on his website, referring to the rehabilitation of the royal family. This statement disturbed historian Aleksei Baikov, who is known in the blogosphere as “Haeldar”. “Well, I propose that we acknowledge as ‘victims of repression’ Tushino Vorenka, Pyotr III, and Tsar Ioann Antonovich”, he answered. “Fine, let us assume that Nikolai was shot without justification. Are you saying that Stolypin’s field courts-martial and gallows were justified? What was his shelling of peasant villages with artillery? Were they tossing ice cream at them?” Mr Baikov countered. Mr Svyatenkov argued his case by saying, “In this case, the verdict of the court, in refuting this unjust ‘sentence’ of the previous regime… that was valuable”. He continued, “The Romanovs were absolutely vegetarian (“harmless”)”, confirming his words by a long quotation from the “folk monarchist” Ivan Solonevich.

Igumen Spiridon Balandin, father-superior of a monastery in Mordovia, wrote in his blog, “I shall tell you what strikes the most personally. Certainly, Nikolai II and the tsaritsa were hated by the Soviets, but, why weren’t the children rehabilitated before now, and why did we have to file briefs on their behalf?” Neo-communists on Live Journal attacked Fr Spiridon, saying, “How many children were killed as a result of the misrule of Nikolai II? What can this be worth, if we do not start with their rehabilitation first?” One of the Orthodox Bloggers counter-attacked, “Rehabilitation usually means that the court erred and punished the innocent. But, this case is completely different from that. It was not a court that erred and punished the wrong people, but, it was a criminal gang that killed the innocent. It is necessary for us to pass posthumous judgement on this gang; we don’t need to rehabilitate those who weren’t guilty in the first place”. Discussions concerning the expediency of the rehabilitation and historical role of Nikolai II are continuing on the site Politika v Rossii (Politics in Russia), which has over 6,000 members.

2 October 2008



The Union of Orthodox Citizens Believe that it is Absurd to Retain the Names of Bolsheviks on Streets and Metro Stations after the Rehabilitation of the Royal Family

The Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square in Moscow. Lenin should be reburied decently, but, this building should be retained as a memorial to all those who suffered repression in those years.

The Union of Orthodox Citizens believes that it is absurd to retain the names of Bolsheviks on streets and metro stations after the rehabilitation of the royal family. “After this official rehabilitation of the royal family, not only the murderers, but, those who ordered the murder became criminals, furthermore, their crime does not have a historical statute of limitations. Consequently, to name streets in their memory, such as we see in the continued existence of many streets and avenues named for Lenin with numerous monuments to him overlooking them, is an absurdity”, said Kirill Frolov, the head of the Moscow Department of the Union of Orthodox Citizens, to our Interfax-Religion correspondent on Thursday. Moreover, the Union believes that the Moscow municipal government can no longer justify their failure to rename the Voikovskaya metro station (ironically, the closest station to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour: editor’s note), “since Voikov is now officially recognised as a criminal”.

Mr Frolov emphasised, “After the murder of the royal family was condemned as a crime, to name streets in honour of Lenin, Sverdlov, and Voikov is as senseless as naming a street in honour of Chikatilo (a mass-murderer of children in late-Soviet and early post-Soviet times, executed for his vile crimes, a very notorious figure to this day: editor’s note)”. He went to note that we should rename these streets in memory of the Royal Passionbearers and other New Martyrs of Russia, and to erect memorials to honour them. “It is important to form the religious and national self-consciousness of the Russian people regarding this historical era. If the names of our streets and our political outlook contradict one another, it is impossible to form a properly-integrated self-consciousness”, he concluded.

2 October 2008



Kosovo Serbs Protest EU Mission

Several thousand ethnic Serbs protested on Thursday against the deployment of an EU police and justice mission in Kosovo, regional media said. Kosovo Serbs said that they are opposed to the deployment of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) without the approval of the UN. They view the deployment of the mission as a symbol of Kosovo’s independence. The EU says that EULEX “will assist Kosovo authorities, judicial authorities, and law enforcement agencies in their progress towards sustainability and accountability”.

Protests took place in three towns, including Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, the site of violent clashes between UN police and Serb protestors in March. Thursday’s protests passed off without incident. Marko Jaksic, a Serbian community leader, said the EU mission was intended to rob Serbs of their territory. He also demanded that Belgrade urgently adopt a special charter for Kosovo. A UN report published on Thursday said that over 60 percent of Kosovo Serbs are worried about their personal “safety”.

EULEX, comprising around 2,000 police and judicial personnel, was established by the EU Council on 16 February, a day before Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. Kosovo has so far been recognised by 47 states, including the US and the majority of EU countries (virtually no countries outside of the Anglosphere or the EU recognise Kosovo save for US puppets: editor’s note). Russia has backed its ally Serbia in refusing to acknowledge Kosovo. China has also refused to recognise it. According to the EU, EULEX was expected to enter its “operational phase” last June. However, only around 400 mission personnel have been deployed so far. The EU mission is intended to reinforce the interim administration of the United Nations, which has been in charge of the territory since 1999, after NATO bombings of the former Yugoslavia ended a war between Kosovo Albanians and Serb forces.

2 October 2008



Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.