Voices from Russia

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Putin Sez Playing Nationalist Card May Prove “Fatal” for Russia

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (1952- )… don’t forget, he’s a black belt judoka… and that judo uses one’s opponent’s strength against them…

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On Friday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged his challengers in the presidential race to drop nationalist slogans, warning of the possibly “fatal” consequences of fuelling Russian chauvinism. At a meeting with World War II veterans in St Petersburg, Putin pointed up that a nationalist problem does exist in Russia, and that we should address it properly, saying, “Instead of proposing a solution to these problems… our politicians have started to exploit these difficulties” in order to achieve “selfish political goals. For a multi-ethnic country such as Russia, this behaviour can be fatal and lead to the destruction of the country”. Putin said this in response to a veteran who expressed concern over slogans such as “Russia for Russians” that he said have frequently popped up in Russia, including in the media. Vladimir Vladimirovich said that he believed Russia’s ethnic diversity was an advantage, “The broader and richer the genetic code is, the stronger the nation is”. The most obvious target of Putin’s remarks was Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the ultra-nationalist LDPR party, who will challenge Putin in the 4 March elections, along with three other candidates.

Meanwhile, critics say both Russia’s ruling élites and the opposition benefit from flirting with nationalist sentiment. On Thursday, Putin pleased Russian nationalists by proposing an array of robust measures, including stiff laws, to deal with the soaring numbers of illegal immigrants in Russia. The issue has long been a source of huge public discontent among Russians who fear being “overrun” by people from the former Soviet republics. Speaking during a meeting with the Federal Migration Service, Putin said that his friends told him, “In some large cities people are afraid of leaving their homes on holiday” because of the fear of “strangers”. Putin’s proposals come less than a week after he wrote an article on modern problems in a multiethnic Russia as part of his election programme. He said that migrants should respect the customs and traditions of regions they come to live in, and that the authorities should properly address any aggressive or disrespectful behaviour on their part. On Thursday, Putin proposed making exams in Russian, history, and the basics of Russian law mandatory for migrants from 2013, saying that would help them to adapt to life in Russian society.

27 January 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/society/20120127/170986032.html

RF Gosduma Approves Life Sentences and Chemical Castration for Paedophiles

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On Friday, a bill introducing life sentences and mandatory chemical castration for paedophiles passed the crucial second reading in the RF Gosduma. The Kremlin introduced the draft bill in October, which generated much debate and amendment before the Friday reading; it tightens punishments for most kinds of sex crimes against minors. The most widely discussed innovation is chemical castration, introduced in Russia for the first time. The bill in its current form only speaks about “mandatory medical treatment” without elaborating, but officials who worked on the draft said it includes both chemical castration and psychiatric drug treatment. Garri Minkh, the Kremlin envoy to the Gosduma, said that mandatory chemical castration would be one possible punishment for molesters who abuse children under 14. Judges would have to consult medical professionals before giving out this punishment, he added.

Convicts in other types of sex crimes involving minors will have the option of voluntarily seeking chemical castration when pleading for parole, the bill said. Dodging “mandatory medical treatment” after release on parole will be punishable with one year in jail. The Gosduma also introduced life in prison as the maximum penalty for gang-raping a minor, currently punishable with four to 10 years behind bars. The bill has to pass one more hearing, and gain approval by the Federation Council, the parliament’s upper chamber, before President Dmitri Medvedev can sign it into law. The date for the third hearing was not set on Friday.

In 2010, Ombudsman for Children Pavel Astakhov said that 98 percent of convicted paedophiles commit new sex crimes upon release, but for those who undergo chemical castration the figure is only 3 percent. He also spoke, prior to the Kremlin bill’s introduction in the Duma, about a “paedophile lobby” stalling legislation on the matter in the parliament, but never named any names. Child abuse skyrocketed in 2010, increasing several times year-on-year for most type of sex crimes, Astakhov said last year. The dismal situation prompted activists to start vigilante groups tracking down paedophiles to report them to police or, in some cases, beat them up without involving law enforcement.

Countries that currently practice chemical castration for child molesters include Australia, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, and South Korea, as well as several US states, most notably Florida and California. However, several human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have protested its use over dire health side effects. In the past, the other countries used this method, but it wasn’t limited to sex offenders. Its most famous victim was British scientist Alan Turing, one of the fathers of computer science, who underwent chemical castration for being gay in 1952. He committed suicide two years later.

27 January 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/crime/20120127/170993077.html

28 January 2012. Ivan Ivanovich Speaks… in Favour of VVP!

Working class people at a spontaneous pro-Putin rally in Yekaterinburg, the “Russian Pittsburgh”, showing not only their support for the PM, but their opposition to the pro-Western suck-up managerial creeps who purport to speak for society.

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“Citizens, our voice is important!” (text on sign in foreground)

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Ever since the chaos of the Nasty Nineties, the working people of Russia have mistrusted the thin layer of pro-Western lickspittles who “speak” for Russia to the Western media. Click here for a western media report (AFP) on pro-Putin rallies. You see, “limousine liberal” poseurs like Serge Schmemann, Sophia Kishkovsky, Anya Schmemann, and Katrina vanden Heuvel only speak to a small circle of zapadnik pseudo-intellectuals and “biznessmen” (the word is a pejorative in Russian… normal people tend to spit after saying it). Look at how they cream their jeans over Gorbachyov! Let me tell you, Mikhail Sergeyevich is one of the most hated men in Russia… most ordinary people blame his dithering and indecision for the death of the USSR and the import of the most feral forms of Western capitalism.

Let me give you a small example. SVS hates the Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers and calls them “Fundamentalists” (always a term used by the overeducated and underinformed). Supposedly, they’re racists, homophobes, “traditionalists”, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ll tell you why they hate them… they’re working class people who won’t be led about by phoney pseudo-intellectuals like John Behr, Paul von Meyendorff, and Patrick Henry Reardon. C’mon, such sorts imagine themselves to be modern Mahatma Gandhis, but they’re really the political and academic equivalent of Verka Serduchka (click here and here for two of his funny vids). As for the Banner-Bearers, their strongholds are gritty blue-collar suburbs like Lyubertsy (the famous rock band Lyube comes from there… here’s one of their songs (“KomBat” is a Russian military acronym for “Battalion Commander”)) and Bibirevo (in Moscow, the workers live in the outer ‘burbs, not the oligarchs), not the effete environs of the Vanil Restoran… where one can find Dickie Wood sipping a martini with his oligarch pals (as photos indicate). The people in the image above are of the same ilk. Working people don’t need “direction” from jumped-up fraudulent “middle class voices”. They can do their own thinking and come to their own conclusions, thank you very much, even if credentialised putzes in academe and the media think otherwise.

If you were to ask most working people, they want a society with Social Justice and Social Democracy (with a good dose of Socialism as part of the mixture). Yet, they also want a society where bureaucrats leave them alone and where John Law stays off their backs. That is, they’re NOT Neoliberal “conservatives”, yet, they’re not American-style “liberals” either. I’d say that working people want a society like the New Deal… where there’s a social safety net and social benefits to ensure a decent “floor” for living, where the government looks out for the “little guy”, but where criminals go to the slammer, and where the state leaves people free to pursue their private lives. That’s what most ordinary folks want… not the “freedom” to rape one’s fellow man for personal gain, or, for the “right” of corporations to have more rights than living-and-breathing people do.

The ordinary people of Russia are speaking… and they’re NOT saying what the NY Times, the Economist, CNN, and Fox News want you to hear. Look at the image… and be enlightened. “Citizens, our voice is important!” I’d say that’s true here, too… Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should heed it…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 28 January 2012

Albany NY

Gingrich and Romney: The Florida Battle

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The remaining four contenders for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination faced off for the last time before Floridians go to the polls on Tuesday. Despite it being the 19th such debate, it was a key event for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in what has become a two-man race. Gingrich and Romney came out of the door swinging and the debate largely became a battle between the two frontrunners. The first question in the CNN-hosted debate came from an audience member who asked about illegal immigration, which has become a theme in the race this week. It’s fitting given the size of Florida’s immigrant community, but also because of recent attacks by the Gingrich campaign calling Mitt Romney “anti-immigrant”. In the exchange that followed, Romney said, “I’m not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife’s father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I’m anti-immigrant is repulsive”.

If Romney wanted an apology, he didn’t get one and Gingrich only escalated the attack, saying, “You tell me what language you’d use to describe someone who thinks that deporting a grandmother or grandfather from their family… just tell me what language you would use”. However, earlier in the day, US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) voiced objections to Gingrich’s campaign ad and they pulled it off the air. He told CBS This Morning that the tactic wasn’t good for the Republican Party, saying, “Whoever wins this nomination is going to have to come back to Florida in the fall and win again. I want to make sure that we don’t have candidates saying things that we’re going to have to come back and defend”.

Romney kept up his attack on Gingrich for working for Freddie Mac, the government supported mortgage giant, work for which Gingrich received around 1.5 million dollars (45.26 million Roubles. 1.135 million Euros. 953,000 UK Pounds) for services. Gingrich, however, used information recently revealed that Mitt Romney had invested in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to the tune of a half million dollars (15.1 million Roubles. 380,000 Euros. 320,000 UK Pounds), saying, “We discovered to our shock that Governor Romney made a million dollars (30.17 million Roubles. 760,000 Euros. 635,000 UK Pounds) of selling some of that and [he] has shares in Goldman Sachs which is today foreclosing on Floridians”. Romney responded that he didn’t know where many of his investments went because they were handled by a blind trust. Whilst Romney may have been risking further alienating himself from the voters, as he has been known to do, he seemed more confident in his response and said he was not going to apologise for his success, saying, “There are bonds that the investor has held through mutual funds, but, Mr Speaker, have you checked your own investments? You also have investments in mutual funds that also have investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac”.

Before long, former US Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Ron Paul stepped in, making an effort to stop the two opponents from bickering about their own wealth. Santorum suggested that one’s own success should be off limits, saying, “Governor Romney went out and worked hard. Leave that alone and talk about the issues”. Ron Paul proposed a simple solution, saying, “The question is, ‘What are we going to do about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?’ [They] should have been auctioned off”.

If this was the most contentious of the debates so far, that’s because Florida could be “do or die” for the candidates in this unique primary race in which all the rules have been thrown out and the swing state may have even more say in who the Republican nominee will be. Additionally, the two candidates are in a statistical dead-heat, with Newt Gingrich losing some steam after his South Carolina victory gave him a Florida bump. The negativity in Florida is palpable and not just in the debate. In the airwaves attack ads dominate. In addition to the ad calling Romney anti-immigrant, a Romney ad took on Gingrich for a comment in which he referred to the “language of the ghetto”. When Gingrich brought it up in the debate, however, Romney initially denied the ad, saying it probably wasn’t from his own campaign. However, a quick fact check at the debate showed that it was, undermining Romney’s statement and leading to headlines.

Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota who dropped out of the race a few months ago, told VOR that was the wrong story, saying, “I think the focus should be on did Newt say that or imply that. Third-party groups have looked at it and said that’s what he said”. Whilst Pawlenty endorsed Mitt Romney, former Congressman Bill McCollum who ran for Florida governor in the Republican primary, endorsed Newt Gingrich. After the debate, he told VOR that he thought Newt Gingrich handled the debate well, saying, “I thought he answered the questions just fine. The anti-immigration thing, Romney rehearsed… but Newt’s immigration policy is sound”. However, there were some lighter moments in the debate. When Wolf Blitzer noted that Ron Paul would be the oldest president if elected and asked if he would show his medical records, Ron Paul responded that he would challenge anyone on the stage to a 25-mile bike ride, adding, in jest, “There are laws about age discrimination, so you better be careful”.

27 January 2012

Carmen Russell-Sluchansky

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/27/64734338.html

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