PDA

View Full Version : American Expat thoughts re Russia



ingsoc
31-12-2004, 04:32
Would be interested what American ( and those from other democratic countries) think about living..working and investing in Russia now that it squarely appears by all credible sources to be approaching a semi fascist state? All comments welcome

P.S....Any others..Russians including..with something to add please do....

Sparafucile
31-12-2004, 04:46
>> now that it squarely appears by all credible sources to be approaching a semi fascist state? <<

In that case, you'll feel right at home, then.

ingsoc
31-12-2004, 04:57
Spar...your reply and its meaning allude me..are you being scarcastical? or is this a comment re me? I could not think so..as we have never met or discussed anything..Im only a person seeking intelligent discussion re this topic..if you have something to add that fits the above criteria..please do so......are you of the opinion that Russia is truly headed down this path?

J.D.
31-12-2004, 07:50
ingsoc, when's the last time you looked at what's happening in your home country?
You seem pretty up on what's happening here .
How long have you been here and away from there?

Billy T
31-12-2004, 08:21
i noticed years ago sitting in belgrade after the breakup of yugoslavia and the fall of communism, that the new mcdoanlds, and the gap and benneton stores were a much easier and more effective way of ensuring compliance in a population....

make people madly desire things they dont really need and they will behave....all governments are essentialy fascist to some degree or another...they all want their citizens to behave the way they want them to...

the mob is fascism, no matter what country you live in....

and those of you who talk about looking at whats happening in america and ask if he's been there recently...have you? We are in a period of flux right now with the gauge definitely dipping towards the more authoritarian mark, but the fact is that, we still have plenty of vocal critics like the internationaly beloved michael moore, facing no governmental obstacles to the voicing of their opinions...

please point out where america is any more "fascist" than the UK or any other western european nation, if you are going to make that allegation....

and just to save you the time, I will tell you, I am about as opposite from republican and conservative as you can get...I just have a hard time with statements based on histrionics as opposed to actual logic

ingsoc
31-12-2004, 10:22
JD..Im still HERE in the USA...I asked opinions re the situation in Russia...Im not asking for opinions re the united states your comparing apples with oranges.....a country that has been a democracy for now going on 300 years to russia..which has been at best 14? Billy is right..one here still has the voice to challenge the government..such as Micheal Moore..and not fact jail somewhere far far away as the owner of Yukos who by every account may have not paid his taxes was more reformist....so..my question still remains.....Im looking for INTELLIGENT opinions regarding the political and civil rights in Russia......Im asking if the current situation in Russia appears to approach a totatalitarian regime such as has existed in earlier times....NOT whether you think America Is fascist....if anyone seriously thinks the US is fascist they need obviously have little serious understanding of our country or history..so..back on topic....what about RUSSIA?

koba65
31-12-2004, 11:04
Originally posted by ingsoc
JD..Im still HERE in the USA...I asked opinions re the situation in Russia...Im not asking for opinions re the united states your comparing apples with oranges.....a country that has been a democracy for now going on 300 years to russia..which has been at best 14? Billy is right..one here still has the voice to challenge the government..such as Micheal Moore..and not fact jail somewhere far far away as the owner of Yukos who by every account may have not paid his taxes was more reformist....so..my question still remains.....Im looking for INTELLIGENT opinions regarding the political and civil rights in Russia......Im asking if the current situation in Russia appears to approach a totatalitarian regime such as has existed in earlier times....NOT whether you think America Is fascist....if anyone seriously thinks the US is fascist they need obviously have little serious understanding of our country or history..so..back on topic....what about RUSSIA?

It seems to me that a lot of people don't understand what "Fascist" means and are quick to label countries are people "Fascist" without any thought. The overuse of the word serves only to numb people that was fascism really is. To compare Putin, or Bush, to fascists such as Il Duce or Hitler is despicable.

Is Russia heading toward fascism? Not likely. Is Russia democratic? Hardly. I think you're being too generous when you state they've had approx. 14 years of "democracy" - not even close. They've had 14 years of "cleptocracy." Perhaps Putin is trying to reign some of that in so that 10, 20, 30 years from now there will still be a Russian Federation. As you point out, democracy isn't built overnight. When the Soviet Union imploded everybody thought a magic wand was waved over the new counties and viola they're "democracies." During the Cold War, we in the West were good at extolling the virtues of democracy, but we did a shite job of explaining how much work and effort is needed to build one.

Russia has to reign in some of the entities that took advantage of the new "freedoms" for their own personal gain and to the detriment of the country and its people. It may look undemocratic, but some of the measures they're undertaking are beneficial for the country in the long run. Having said that, some of the recent statements and actions in Russia have me scratching my head.

I can only compare Russia with the totalitarian regimes I witnessed in communist East Germany and Turkmenistan. The people there were naturally afraid to speak out against their governments. Freedom was non-existent. Any criticism of the regimes was brutally extinguished. Present day Russia is not like that regardless of what the Western press writes about the Russian press, or the troubles of Khodorkovsky. Russians don't appear to be frightened to criticise their government, make claims about what they think the FSB is up to, protest against government programs they don't agree with. In some ways, Russia is "freer" than the US, UK, Germany, France, etc...

We can't expect Russia to become a western-style democray overnight. They have no experience with it. Russia has never been "democratic." Let's see how they develop their own style of democracy. It may not be what the rest of us expect, but hopefully it will be something that provides them with the opportunity to pursue their own version of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

J.D.
31-12-2004, 11:11
ingsoc, you said you didn't understand Sparafucile's remark.
I was explaining it to you.

ingsoc
31-12-2004, 11:40
JD..thanks..and sorry for the misunderstanding

trebor
31-12-2004, 12:01
There are examples of countries returning to semi-dictatorships on their path to progress.
Singapore being a classic example.

zombee
31-12-2004, 12:17
Calling something fascist is more inflammatory than it is descriptive. I think that the word 'authoritarian' works better. There are big differences between 30's European racial totalitarianism and other 'fascist' regimes such as Brazil's government in the 60's. In Russia, the word 'fascist' is used almost exclusively in reference to German Nazi soldiers from the 1940's. Chris Weafer of Alpha Bank wrote a good article about Russian authoritarianism in the Moscow Times in late May.

Outlaw
31-12-2004, 12:19
In Russia, the word 'fascist' is used almost exclusively in reference to German Nazi soldiers from the 1940's.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
...and to describe Zhirinovskii.

plastique
31-12-2004, 12:34
this is proof yet again why Koba is one of the most intelligent and eloquent members here....

agree totally with everything dude...

yes it is concerning when televisions stations and newspapers are shut down. I think RPN has an interview this month with the woman who is a presenter on what wmoen want and has her own radio show...besides showing what a good wig and a lot of makeup will do, it probes the questions of how much self censorship vs state censorship the journalists go through.

I'd also like to point out that I feel that the media in America is way more controlled, manipulated and censored than here....articles that i read about america here reported by reuters or AP somehow don't get "picked up" back home and I find myself imforming my family of news that otherwise goes unnoticed. EXAMPLE: funny little blurb about how Bush confused the trems devalue and deinflate when talking to Japanese reporters after a summit with their leader and the Japaneese stock market headed for a record crash till one of his cronies corrected his statement and the market regained footing....

Outlaw
31-12-2004, 12:36
.;)

Sparafucile
31-12-2004, 16:28
>> are you of the opinion that Russia is truly headed down this path? <<

Sorry my previous remark eluded you. Your opening remarks seem to suggest a gulf of idealogy and practice which not all of us recognise so acutely. Your question is poorly formed. Are you asking if we believe Russia is becoming a fascist state on an objective scale of such terms - or if it is becoming a fascist state by comparison to your idealised vision of America?

As you might gather - no, I am not of that opinion. Do you read the Russian and European media, or only the American media? Your viewpoint indicates the latter. Let us compare two interesting cases - one in the USA, Enron, and one in Russia, Yukos.

Enron, in the USA, was seen to be a victory for the little guy over the gigantic corporation. Abuses which were long suspected were found to be proven, and the cosy relationship between Government regulators, and an organisation which financially supported the Government in exchange for immunity from routine inspections, was blown out of the water. The Govt was left looking foolish that one of its largest political contributors turned out to be a bunch of crooks. However, Ken Lay has yet to go to jail for it.

Yukos, in Russia, as we all know, has hit the rocks over massive non-payment of taxes, and failure to cooperate with the authorities over the inspection and calculation of the amounts due. This isn't "fascism" - this is basic fiscal policy. Russia has some major social problems and requires the taxes from its only major export industry, energy, to pay for them. If that industry refuses to pay, it not only leaves the Government unable to meet its social remit, but throws it open to the same Enron-style accusations of "cosiness", and a suggestion that laws are optional if you are chums with the Presidential administration.

Another case where Fred Weir (surely the worst foreign correspondent currently working in Russia?) and his friends have been sharpening their axes is the role of Russia's Governors. They suggest that Putin's harrying of the Governors implies latent fascism? Well, let's look at the records of these Governors, and what they've achieved for those they "govern"?? Vladivostok was brought to a standstill by its Governor, who cheerfully watched whilst public transport operated on alternate days only, and pensioners froze in unheated apartments because of his monstrous incompetence and intransigence. St Petersburg - a mere $7bn of state funds earmarked for the city's refurbishment for the 300th anniversary went "missing" and has never been traced. Yet mysteriously the Governor walked-away untouched? This is not to mention the political slayings of opposition politicians in St Petersburg, none of which have ever been brought to a trial for those responsible. Kalmykia - abuses here make N Korea appear to be a paradise by comparison. Journalists who write about such abuses "go missing" and turn up face-down in ditches weeks later. Is this the kind of "democracy" Russia is in danger of losing through the reforms of the Governorship system? I doubt you'll find many of the Governed opposed to the removal of Mr Ilyumzhinov from power in Elista.

With a worsening situation in Iraq, the economy in tatters and the knives out for Rumsfeld, some objective opinion might conjecture that it's a very good time for running stories critical of other countries - particular "the Evil Empire" and other old foes against whom it's easy to whip-up ill-feeling?? I bet we see Britain blamed soon, over that thing with the tea in the harbour.

Have you ever read 1984? I seem to remember everything was always the fault of whichever of the two other countries they were at war with at the time?

Ask Koba, for example. He believes everything wrong in the world is the fault of France (and he can "prove" it).

N.

Sparafucile
31-12-2004, 16:35
As an afterthought, here is a reference to an (English-language) summary of some of the worst examples of appalling corruption and abuse by Russia's regional Governors. It's short and concise overview, and is not too tedious to read - although it is remarkably depressing on New Year's Eve :(

These are the people whose intended removal from power is being labelled "fascism" by an ignorant and politically-motivated foreign press.

http://sovetikus.narod.ru/corruption.htm

Ned Kelly
31-12-2004, 17:55
neil, with deepest respect (i promised never to argue politics with you, but we can do this in a decent spirit), you can't possibly imagine after five years of watching putin that he is going to replace the governors with something better? regional leaders will be just as venal, it's just they'll have to pay tribute to the kremlin now (those that do will not be replaced).

the notion that putin is concentrating power to improve governance has surely been laid to rest. the bureaucracy has swelled under his rule and corruption increased; indeed his constituency is these revolting state officials (and they know it and have become even more shameless) . at least if there is some version of elections in place it gives hope of something genuine taking hold down the track.

putin's system is a road to nowhere.

oh, and i would rank fred weir among the top three correspondents i russia.

koba65
31-12-2004, 19:03
Originally posted by Sparafucile
[B
With a worsening situation in Iraq, the economy in tatters and the knives out for Rumsfeld, some objective opinion might conjecture that it's a very good time for running stories critical of other countries - particular "the Evil Empire" and other old foes against whom it's easy to whip-up ill-feeling?? I bet we see Britain blamed soon, over that thing with the tea in the harbour.

Ask Koba, for example. He believes everything wrong in the world is the fault of France (and he can "prove" it).

N. [/B]

You obviously don't read American press often. It's choc-full-o bad stories about Iraq, Rummie, etc.

And yes! Vo vsem vinovata Frantsiya!! ;)

koba65
31-12-2004, 19:14
Originally posted by Ned Kelly
neil, with deepest respect (i promised never to argue politics with you, but we can do this in a decent spirit), you can't possibly imagine after five years of watching putin that he is going to replace the governors with something better? regional leaders will be just as venal, it's just they'll have to pay tribute to the kremlin now (those that do will not be replaced).

the notion that putin is concentrating power to improve governance has surely been laid to rest. the bureaucracy has swelled under his rule and corruption increased; indeed his constituency is these revolting state officials (and they know it and have become even more shameless) . at least if there is some version of elections in place it gives hope of something genuine taking hold down the track.

putin's system is a road to nowhere.

oh, and i would rank fred weir among the top three correspondents i russia.

I can't believe I'm going to actually say this, but I have to agree with Neil on the governor issue. Main difference - Putin will be able to fire the governors who work for him. Some of them might actually be corrupt, but if they don't provide for their peeps they'll get the sack.

I also respectfully disagree with your premise that corruption has increased under Putin. Corruption was most rampant when Yeltsin was in power and the oligarchs were operating unchecked. Nowadays, if you don't pay taxes on your wealth you'll eventually get caught. The introduction of a flat tax and the "come out of the shadows and pay your taxes" campaign did a lot to reduce corruption at the lower levels (as far as taxes are concerned). Putin's admin has also fired a lot of government and military officials who were allegedly corrupt. It'll take more than the 5 years he's had in office to stamp it out, but at least he's trying.

I've also found bureaucracy to have been reduced somewhat since 1996 (when I first started coming here). I deal with various Russian governmental agencies and have found it much easier to work with them since 2001. And, btw, Putin has fired approximately 40,000 bureaucrats throughout the Russian Federation - eliminating layers of bureaucracy in the government. Now instead of going through 40 people to get an answer you only have to go through 5.

Sparafucile
31-12-2004, 22:21
Ned,

You have a fair sort of point about the Governors, but I think this is a question of process vs result. I would say that Putin is right, in that currently there is a system in place in which a vicious thug like Ilyumzhinov cannot be removed, cannot be over-ruled, and runs his neighbourhood like a bandit fiefdom. This is obviously wrong. You're right in the sense that if they are then appointed by Putin, they might simply turn out to be Robber Captains, unrestricted in their operations provided that they cow-tow to Moscow when needed? Even so, this would at least make them answerable - when currently they are unanswerable, and that is surely an improvement? And under (dare I say) a, ummmm, better President* they might become a tool for a more fair form of Governance? Sadly this way of running the country dates back to Peter the Great's introduction of the Tchinn and even earlier...

Maybe Fred Weir has got better - I still remember his article in which he said there was "no word in Russian for "mobile phone"" :confused: I made a mental note at the time not to waste my time on any more of his scribblings :)

Happy New Year [and to Koba too, what magnanimity, eh? ;) ]

Neil


*these words are written in a special invisible ink, which can only be read by native English speakers, and cannot be seen by Kremlin stooges, the Gosudarstvennaya Registratsionnaya Palata, or anyone else I have to register with... :confused:

trebor
01-01-2005, 08:06
Nice article in the Telegraph on this subject today.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/01/01/do0101.xml

koba65
01-01-2005, 08:39
Originally posted by trebor
Nice article in the Telegraph on this subject today.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/01/01/do0101.xml

Interesting how a historian with a self-professed obsession with Russia could assert that Russia's dealings in the region are solely due to Putin's dictatorial ambitions. Yeltsin would have reacted the same to the recent changes in Georgia, Transdniester, Ukraine, (with the exception of Belarus). Any other Russian leader with a shot at the presidency would do the exact same thing Putin has done.

It was the late Gen. Lebed who said that the Pinochet model would suit Russia well since it wasn't quite ready for democracy. For the sake of argument: Perhaps Lebed was right?

Bottom line: A strong stable Russia is good for the world. They won't be able to become strong and stable unless they start tightening up some of the areas that have flown out of control. To the West this will look like a crack down on freedom...

Regarding Niall Ferguson - a good writer, but how many times does he have to mention he's read "War and Peace"? ;) (It's mentioned in several of his works)

J.D.
01-01-2005, 09:08
I might agree that Russia needs an authoritarian leader while it gets it's **** together but

1. that does not neccesitate what he's doing in Georgia, the Ukraine etc.

2. even if he has the most noble intentions what about the next president who takes over what he has set up?

koba65
01-01-2005, 09:27
Originally posted by J.D.
I might agree that Russia needs an authoritarian leader while it gets it's **** together but

1. that does not neccesitate what he's doing in Georgia, the Ukraine etc.

2. even if he has the most noble intentions what about the next president who takes over what he has set up?

I think the Russian response to Georgia and Ukraine has been ill-advised. (but, I do understand their response, just don't agree with it)

Next president- that'll be interesting. Anyone have a prediction on who the next president will be?

J.D.
01-01-2005, 09:34
Since I believe that the party is running things and not Putin, it should be a strong charachter with a weak will. Well the prime minister fits 50% of that bill.

Sparafucile
01-01-2005, 11:45
One thing is sure about the power-succession in Russia - pundits are always wrong. From Gorbachev onwards, the successor has always been the skew-ball outsider for the post... it would be hard to say that any of Russia's leaders since then were "groomed" for the role?

I don't think this is entirely accidental. Given the snafu-prone nature of Russian Government, there are few with serious intentions on the highest office who would voluntarily get heavily labelled with having been wholly or partly responsible for recent cock-ups. A sensible candidate would keep his nose clean and stay in the shadows. A resume with a good track record of service to the State is handy - Putin has played that card endlessly. Credibility with the Armed Forces is essential, as they are King-makers (and -breakers, as Gorby found to his cost). This rules-out all the Greffs and namby-pamby economists - it's got to be a bloke who's seen some action. (And it's got to be a bloke - for societal reasons we all understand).

On the basis that we are all going to be wrong anyhow, therefore, my money's on Sergey Shoigu. Before you say "what?" (or "who?" - he's the Emergencies Minister) remember these things: (i) he is hero-worshipped in the Armed Forces as "Mr Fix-It" (ii) he is a non-Muscovite, which is essential for campaigning in the 92% of Russia which passionately loathes its own capital (iii) he goes around in fatigues all the time, so you can imagine how popular he is with the muzhiki (iv) he was effectively Putin's "Campaign Manager" for his first election campaign... he culled-in a luscious majority of votes, and then loyalled anointed his boss, VVP, with them (iv) he has a squeaky-clean image, and a Ministerial position which thrusts him into the limelight to collect glory regularly, without ever having to take the crap for things.

Against that, yes, he's a Tuvan - there's a strong chauvinist vote that will be very wary of voting for someone who isn't 100% ethnic Russian as Leader. But that is what makes him the outside candidate, and as I said, outside candidates always win :)

Who will give me 10,000-1 on Chubais? :)

Ned Kelly
01-01-2005, 17:07
neil, i always get the feeling that these sorts of shortcuts - abolishing elections and appointing governors, loans-for-shares privatizations and so forth - have a nasty way of coming back to haunt their authors.

the tsarist example was simply that an official appointed governor could plunder with immunity as long as he remained loyal to the sovereign (and kept the region such). i don't see any difference in what putin has done and therefore do not expect better "results". i have to admit though that the situation is so bad i kind of admired him for trying to do something about it.

jd, as to ukraine, i think putin had to make an attempt to keep it in the fold; it would have been an abdication of his authority not to try to keep nato warships out of sevastopol. the amateurish way the whole thing was executed and his goose-like comments afterwards were the humiliating part. actually, they were disgraceful.

fred weir has been here more than 15 years and generally provides a pretty good overview (pro-democracy and civilised behaviour; not a sap to washington ). but everything is relative of course.

happy new year gents.

plastique
01-01-2005, 21:22
So for those of you following the news in other countries, is it true that Russia is being blasted in the western media for being one of the least helpful nations on the planet with the relief effort for the countries devestated byt the tsumani....Japan is pitching in more....well, I guess if the government could care less about its own people or have any clue about social welfare programs and absolutely no clue about charitible giving and a sense of social consciousness then it's no suprise...

mabye i lost the thread a long the way, but this seems to be one giant area where russia lags behind most of the free world. My dad refers to it as the third world mentality....it still seems that it is alive and well here.

koba65
01-01-2005, 21:32
Originally posted by plastique
So for those of you following the news in other countries, is it true that Russia is being blasted in the western media for being one of the least helpful nations on the planet with the relief effort for the countries devestated byt the tsumani....Japan is pitching in more....well, I guess if the government could care less about its own people or have any clue about social welfare programs and absolutely no clue about charitible giving and a sense of social consciousness then it's no suprise...

mabye i lost the thread a long the way, but this seems to be one giant area where russia lags behind most of the free world. My dad refers to it as the third world mentality....it still seems that it is alive and well here.

I haven't seem them being "blasted," but it has been noted. They did send two (I think) MChS planes with aid to the area. How much can they realistically do? But, you make a good point. If they want to be considered one of the world leaders they have to be involved more in these types of activities.

koba65
01-01-2005, 21:47
Originally posted by Sparafucile
One thing is sure about the power-succession in Russia - pundits are always wrong. From Gorbachev onwards, the successor has always been the skew-ball outsider for the post... it would be hard to say that any of Russia's leaders since then were "groomed" for the role?

I don't think this is entirely accidental. Given the snafu-prone nature of Russian Government, there are few with serious intentions on the highest office who would voluntarily get heavily labelled with having been wholly or partly responsible for recent cock-ups. A sensible candidate would keep his nose clean and stay in the shadows. A resume with a good track record of service to the State is handy - Putin has played that card endlessly. Credibility with the Armed Forces is essential, as they are King-makers (and -breakers, as Gorby found to his cost). This rules-out all the Greffs and namby-pamby economists - it's got to be a bloke who's seen some action. (And it's got to be a bloke - for societal reasons we all understand).

On the basis that we are all going to be wrong anyhow, therefore, my money's on Sergey Shoigu. Before you say "what?" (or "who?" - he's the Emergencies Minister) remember these things: (i) he is hero-worshipped in the Armed Forces as "Mr Fix-It" (ii) he is a non-Muscovite, which is essential for campaigning in the 92% of Russia which passionately loathes its own capital (iii) he goes around in fatigues all the time, so you can imagine how popular he is with the muzhiki (iv) he was effectively Putin's "Campaign Manager" for his first election campaign... he culled-in a luscious majority of votes, and then loyalled anointed his boss, VVP, with them (iv) he has a squeaky-clean image, and a Ministerial position which thrusts him into the limelight to collect glory regularly, without ever having to take the crap for things.

Against that, yes, he's a Tuvan - there's a strong chauvinist vote that will be very wary of voting for someone who isn't 100% ethnic Russian as Leader. But that is what makes him the outside candidate, and as I said, outside candidates always win :)

Who will give me 10,000-1 on Chubais? :)

Shoigu - interesting choice. I think he's fallen a bit out of favor lately (shoved aside by some of the other siloviki?). I read an interesting article in Kosmolka regarding Putin's heir - there was a list of 5. The most interesting was a dark horse candidate - the current Minister of Natural Resources (Valeryj Artyukov). He kind of fits your scenario for Putin's replacement...

Ah, Chubais, the "democrats'" archilles heel!

Ned Kelly
01-01-2005, 22:21
i remember shoigu writing an op-ed during the '99 campaign where he said he was uniquely qualified as emergency minister to lead the country because russia is one big emergency.

i think he's too much of a moron though and he was very close to berezovsky (though lots of his old associates have since become upstanding putinites).

i reckon now the boys at the lubyanka have a krysha in the kremlin they're not about to relinquish it. it'll be one of their ilk replacing putin.

neil, just from before when you said putin had no way to control the governors, i don't think that's true. the reforms in 2000 that booted regional leaders from the federation council gave him the right to dismiss a governor.

koba, on corruption, i don't claim as close acquaintance with business/governmen t stuff as you, but what i see in my work is companies run by ministers and officials shamelessly taking control of markets (telcos is a great one: luzhkov and reiman) and not even bothering to conceal the fusion of state and business. it seems to me state officials under putin have become an all but official aristocracy. not necessarily worse than oligarchy, but hardly the much vaunted "clean-up".

i like chubais...(i know that's totally politically incorrect!)

koba65
01-01-2005, 22:31
Originally posted by Ned Kelly
i like chubais...(i know that's totally politically incorrect!)

So do I, and I'd add Gaidar and Nemtsov to my list of "admirables" - but, they all have a snowball's chance in hell of being a real part of the Russian gov...

I think we can all agree that Russian has a loooooong way to go to haul itself out of the mess they appear to be in... Let's hope they find a way out that keeps their country intact, strong, and independent...

Ned Kelly
01-01-2005, 23:01
i hate nemtsov, he's a paunce (all talk); i'm sympathetic to gaidar (he's sincere); and i like chubais because i suspect he really was genuine in his hopes to improve the country and fought the good fight (he was in shicking circumstances).

i had high hopes for putin, i must admit. i didn't mind the roll-back of democracy, as there never was any; i wanted a more assertive foreign policy, russia had plenty to contribute; and i liked his nationalism, as there is nothing worse than a self-hating russian.

but i think he's a political coward. he can't take criticism. he didn't do anything to reform the army (he caved into the fat generals and as a result scores of kids die in that stupid draft); he provides a krysha for his kgb mates in business; no-one is ever held accountable for anything and the chinovniki run riot in the economy. it's an institutionalisation of yelstin's system, except now the bureaucrats have the upper hand instead of the oligarchy.

i think his regime is brittle and the shite broadcast on tv each evening is testament to that weakness.

koba65
01-01-2005, 23:09
Originally posted by Ned Kelly
i hate nemtsov, he's a paunce (all talk); i'm sympathetic to gaidar (he's sincere); and i like chubais because i suspect he really was genuine in his hopes to improve the country and fought the good fight (he was in shicking circumstances).

i had high hopes for putin, i must admit. i didn't mind the roll-back of democracy, as there never was any; i wanted a more assertive foreign policy, russia had plenty to contribute; and i liked his nationalism, as there is nothing worse than a self-hating russian.

but i think he's a political coward. he can't take criticism; he didn't do anything to reform the army (he caved into the fat generals and as a result scores of kids die in that stupid draft). he provides a krysha for his kgb matesin business; no-one is ever held accountable for anything and the chinovniki run riot in the economy. it's an institutionalisation of yelstin's system, except now the bureaucrats have the upper hand instead of the oligarchy.

i think his regime is brittle and the shite broadcast on tv each evening is testament to that weakness.

Nemtsov is a bit disappointing, I must admit. Especially having "followed" him since his leadership in Nizh. Novgorod. I still hold out hope that he'll find his legs again.

Putin - yeah, there is definitely some disappointment there. I guess that's what happens when you are very "young" politically and surround yourself with the people you know - keeping out better talent.

He has eased out a lot of the generals that were resistant to his reforms, but there's still a lot of work to be done. It's sad that they don't realize that a professionalized Army is the key to a strong Russia. As long as they continue to have a conscript army they'll always be weak. Fancy weapons systems are no good if the people who maintain and operate them are incapable...

Ned Kelly
01-01-2005, 23:46
i got put off nemtsov when i read how yeltsin bankrolled nizhny to try to give a liberal some popular support, so what success there was had little to do with him. he also shat on yeltsin later when it suited him.

as to the generals, well i think putin is shit-scared of them because they could easily turn around, say he's selling out the country to the west and roll him. and he should be scared. but a talented leader finds a way to deal with that.

it was probably a lot to ask a mediocre bureaucrat to be more than a mediocre bureaucrat when he becomes president.

Halyavshik
02-01-2005, 13:23
Moved to Politics folder..... (and, how nice is it to see an 'Expat.ru" discussion on politics that's calm, civilized and informative ?)

am4rw
03-01-2005, 19:03
I read the original post on this thread. I just get so confused. :confused: I never can get straight who is who. Vladimir V. Bush and George W. Putin just seem so similar to me.

masetti
03-01-2005, 19:22
hi everybody, I read in this post that a lot of people don't know the difference betwen fascism and nazism, is totally different!!!

NYC2LASVEGAS
06-01-2005, 06:05
As an American, Russia is most definetly a point of travel which within the next year I will visit. I work with One Russian who is originally from Siberia and an Armenian who frequented St. Petersburgh. The stories I hear fasinate me and I can not wait to view and experience it for myself.

Halyavshik
08-01-2005, 07:18
NYC2,

Thank you for sharing. Anything to comment on the politcal aspect of this discussion ?

kniga
08-01-2005, 11:56
Halfasack,

What? Weren't you fasinated by what he wrote?

NYC2LASVEGAS
08-01-2005, 17:21
Originally posted by Halyavshik
NYC2,

Thank you for sharing. Anything to comment on the politcal aspect of this discussion ?

Not really. To busy looking to see what's on sale at the Gap.

NYC2LASVEGAS
08-01-2005, 17:31
Originally posted by Halyavshik
NYC2,

Thank you for sharing. Anything to comment on the politcal aspect of this discussion ?

Actually I will chime in. I'll put it in the most simplistic form this Italian American can. Their truly is no true democracy in this country. We are controlled at every step we make. George W's scare tactics crew installed a new twist we havent seen since the height of the cold war. The terror threat alert. It's become like a gigantic big game of Simon says. (and no I don't like Kerry either).
Our democracy as it's called is beyond twisted and corrupted, just as I read Russian politics is. Point being, Both countries are corrupt in their own way's. The people on the lower rung of the social ladder will always get the shaft, those at the top will always have larger slices of the pie, because they have the money to buy it. SO, why cry about who calls themself a communist, who is a facist who is a democratic leader, when all in all they are all a bunch of corrupt you know what's. Ultimate power brings ultimate corruption. Wheather by, controlling people through force and fear, or keeping them working and striving for things they can never truly have. So, go ahead and fire away now.

trebor
08-01-2005, 22:16
[QUOTE]Originally posted by NYC2LASVEGAS
[B]Actually .........We are controlled at every step we make. George W's scare tactics crew installed a new twist we havent seen since the height of the cold war. The terror threat alert. It's become like a gigantic big game of Simon says. (and no I don't like Kerry either).

What? so searches at the airport have become more clinical........
Is that such a price to pay?

trebor
08-01-2005, 22:20
Originally posted by NYC2LASVEGAS
[B].........Our democracy as it's called is beyond twisted and corrupted....... B]

Using a sentance of not more than 10 words describe how an Indian (for example) would describe thier democracy

trebor
08-01-2005, 22:32
Originally posted by NYC2LASVEGAS
[B]...........The people on the lower rung of the social ladder will always get the shaft, those at the top will always have larger slices of the pie, because they have the money to buy it........B]

Perhaps the people who are at the top can afford to buy it because having initialy started out on the bottom rung of the ladder, they worked hard to build their business's/lives in a country with minimal beaurocracy(?) few prejducies (?) and a country that on the whole provides oppotunities for everyone.
That's not the case in most countries around the world.

koba65
09-01-2005, 00:07
Originally posted by NYC2LASVEGAS
Actually I will chime in. I'll put it in the most simplistic form this Italian American can. Their truly is no true democracy in this country. We are controlled at every step we make. George W's scare tactics crew installed a new twist we havent seen since the height of the cold war. The terror threat alert. It's become like a gigantic big game of Simon says. (and no I don't like Kerry either).
Our democracy as it's called is beyond twisted and corrupted, just as I read Russian politics is. Point being, Both countries are corrupt in their own way's. The people on the lower rung of the social ladder will always get the shaft, those at the top will always have larger slices of the pie, because they have the money to buy it. SO, why cry about who calls themself a communist, who is a facist who is a democratic leader, when all in all they are all a bunch of corrupt you know what's. Ultimate power brings ultimate corruption. Wheather by, controlling people through force and fear, or keeping them working and striving for things they can never truly have. So, go ahead and fire away now.

NYC2LV,

What do you base your comparison on? What is publicized on the net? Via the airwaves? Or is it based on real life experience, i.e., living in a controlled autocratic government and then living in a western-style democracy? Yes, there is corruption in our (American) society, but it's relatively trivial when you compare it with other democracies and non-democracies in the world. One of the main differences is the ability for someone from the so-called "lower rung" to break out from this "lower rung." Our universities are a perfect example of this - a place where people from all backgrounds, economic abilities, can come together and study as equals. Sure, it's harder for the economically disadvantaged, but for those who want to succeed in life there are ways (and means) for them to do so. Those who don't want to succeed spent the majority of their time griping about how life isn't fair or the man is keeping them down.

As far as us being "controlled at every step we make" - what do you mean exactly? How are we being controlled? By adhering to laws that we as a democratic republic (there is a difference btwn being a "democracy" and being a "democratic republic") put in place? Are your thoughts being controlled? Are you having your freedom of speech limited? Are you not allowed to criticize the government? Are the police allowed to search your apartment/home without any probable cause? If the government or law enforcement agencies violate your rights do you not have the ability to seek justice? Can you move freely about the country without having to register in your new city/state? Do the police stop you randomly, without cause, and either arrest you or extract a bribe from you? Etc., etc., etc...

If we were controlled as much as you claim we are then how do you explain the various Blogs that make baseless accusations against politicians/government officials? Why are they still up and running? Why isn't protest brutally repressed (Ever see a Moveon.Org sponsored protest?)

Our government and society is far from perfect, but we still retain the right to criticize it, to enact change, to voice our opinions without fear of retribution. We can sleep safely in our domiciles without worrying about the knock on the door at night by people waiting to take us off for questioning (or worse).

I remember running into a group of "progressive" American college students in East Berlin in the 1980s. They were of the mindset that Reagan's America was oppressive. It was very interesting to see and hear the change in their thinking after witnessing first hand a regime (and one that was known at the time as the "showplace of Communism") that brutally repressed its citizenry.

It's a very good thing to question your government, but if I were you I'd take full advantage of the freedoms you have. You probably don't realize just how lucky you are.

Sparafucile
09-01-2005, 11:43
>> Yes, there is corruption in our (American) society, but it's relatively trivial when you compare it with other democracies and non-democracies in the world. <<

Keeping this on the theme which began this dicussion-topic...

... I would be interested to hear your assessment of how the USA has dealt with Kenneth Lay, compared to the way Russia has dealt with Mikhail Khodorkovsky? I make this point not (merely)to wind you up, Koba :agree: but because I believe that the Khodorkovsky arrest (widely - yet, wrongly, in my view - seen in the USA as the arrest of a "champion of private enterprise and free-market political views") was what prompted this topic to be raised in the first place? And it has still not been discussed here, except tangentially...

koba65
09-01-2005, 11:51
Originally posted by Sparafucile
>> Yes, there is corruption in our (American) society, but it's relatively trivial when you compare it with other democracies and non-democracies in the world. <<

Keeping this on the theme which began this dicussion-topic...

... I would be interested to hear your assessment of how the USA has dealt with Kenneth Lay, compared to the way Russia has dealt with Mikhail Khodorkovsky? I make this point not (merely)to wind you up, Koba :agree: but because I believe that the Khodorkovsky arrest (widely - yet, wrongly, in my view - seen in the USA as the arrest of a "champion of private enterprise and free-market political views") was what prompted this topic to be raised in the first place? And it has still not been discussed here, except tangentially...

I think Lay should be sharing a cell with Khodorkovsky.

Sparafucile
09-01-2005, 12:08
>> I think Lay should be sharing a cell with Khodorkovsky. <<

Within a month Lay will have rented the cell to Khodorkovsky as a tax subterfuge under a contract valid under Cayman Islands jurisdiction, at a peppercorn rent assessed as a percentage of a Derivatives Index calculated by Michael Milken, and the losses incurred concealed in a special fund administered by an Enron-controlled shadow company (Menatep Prison Investments - CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky) registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Within a year, they will have privatised the Russian jail system and will be selling Putin and Co share options in it.

Ned Kelly
11-01-2005, 12:00
i like khodorkovsky because i like people who think big - and what bigger than making one-sixth of the earth's surface your private domain!

but i'm interested how khodorkovsky cheated on more taxes than ambramovich, given sibneft has paid the lowest effective tax rate in the oil sector for the last five-odd years.

i'm also interested in how ge got his business in any more underhand fashion than potanin, or reiman for that matter, who runs his out of his minister's office.

this idea that putin is cleaning things up is just tosh.

tgma
11-01-2005, 17:13
One of the smartest things I was ever told about Russia is that commentators tend to compare the Russian reality with a model of either democracy or a market economy. And Russia always comes out looking bad, because no country is a perfect democracy or market economy, and most countries look bad when you compare them with this model. Of course, that doesn't mean that Russia should not strive to fit this perfect model, but we have to live in a real world.

I have been working with, and studying Russia for over fifteen years. For most of that time, I have been generally optimistic about the country, generally on the basis that it follows a pattern of one step backward, two steps forward. This optimism caused me to miss a lot of the problems that occurred under Yeltsin, and I gave Putin the benefit of the doubt for most of his third term. So I have started to become less optimistic about Putin, and the direction that he is moving in, even though his original blueprint for reform (his mission statement in late 1999, and his first state of the union address) were some of the most thoughtful documents about reforming Russia that I have read. And I have read most of the reform programs, both Western and Russian, since 1989.

There is no doubt that Putin has not advanced political reform in the way that he promised. Civil society and the judiciary have not been promoted, and have not been allowed to act as a check on the power of the executive. I can understand why people want to draw parallels with Weimar Germany, but I think that there are subtle differences.

Putin definitely wants to restore the prestige of Russia. One of the most positive things that has occurred during his presidency is the restoration of the state's finances (with a lot of help from outside.) The fact that Russia no longer has to beg from the Paris Club and the IMF is a big change in the country's self-image. Putin wants Russia to be respected, and I can see why this gives rise to parallels with Hitler, who also wanted to restore Germany's self-respect.

Putin also wants to restore the effectiveness of the government, saying that in the liberalisation of the 90s, many of the Russian government's useful arms ceased to function. This means that some of the liberties of the 90s have been taken away, and commentators are right to be wary that this removal of liberties may continue.

For me, the big difference is that Putin is more a servant of interests of the state, (that is, the apparatus of government), rather than of the interests of the State (Russia as a geopolitical entity). There is a big difference between the two, but the state uses the superficial similarity to force its agenda on a country. For instance, criticising the government is condemned as "unpatriotic". This does not lead to an expansionist, Nationalist agenda, as followed by Hitler, who was trying to restore Germany as a state.

Putin serves the economic interests of the state, which is essentially a desire for government to increase its share in the economy, and to create opportunities for corruption for state employees. This path leads towards economic stagnation, (through over-regulation, and the failure of the government's functions) and ultimately a reduction in national prestige. If Putin follows the same illiberal path, then the state that he creates will fail, in a similar way to the former Eastern bloc countries. The pressure will come from below, as people express their unhappiness with the failure of the government to deliver effective policies, and the unwillingness of the state to give them a democratic choice of governments.

Sparafucile
11-01-2005, 22:09
Bravo, very sensible stuff. Worth reading Matthew Maly's "Russia as it is" on these kind of questions :-)

Ned Kelly
03-02-2005, 07:45
Originally posted by Sparafucile
One thing is sure about the power-succession in Russia - pundits are always wrong. From Gorbachev onwards, the successor has always been the skew-ball outsider for the post... it would be hard to say that any of Russia's leaders since then were "groomed" for the role?

I don't think this is entirely accidental. Given the snafu-prone nature of Russian Government, there are few with serious intentions on the highest office who would voluntarily get heavily labelled with having been wholly or partly responsible for recent cock-ups. A sensible candidate would keep his nose clean and stay in the shadows. A resume with a good track record of service to the State is handy - Putin has played that card endlessly. Credibility with the Armed Forces is essential, as they are King-makers (and -breakers, as Gorby found to his cost). This rules-out all the Greffs and namby-pamby economists - it's got to be a bloke who's seen some action. (And it's got to be a bloke - for societal reasons we all understand).


On the basis that we are all going to be wrong anyhow, therefore, my money's on Sergey Shoigu. Before you say "what?" (or "who?" - he's the Emergencies Minister) remember these things: (i) he is hero-worshipped in the Armed Forces as "Mr Fix-It" (ii) he is a non-Muscovite, which is essential for campaigning in the 92% of Russia which passionately loathes its own capital (iii) he goes around in fatigues all the time, so you can imagine how popular he is with the muzhiki (iv) he was effectively Putin's "Campaign Manager" for his first election campaign... he culled-in a luscious majority of votes, and then loyalled anointed his boss, VVP, with them (iv) he has a squeaky-clean image, and a Ministerial position which thrusts him into the limelight to collect glory regularly, without ever having to take the crap for things.

Against that, yes, he's a Tuvan - there's a strong chauvinist vote that will be very wary of voting for someone who isn't 100% ethnic Russian as Leader. But that is what makes him the outside candidate, and as I said, outside candidates always win :)

Who will give me 10,000-1 on Chubais? :)

actually, it came to me this morning that it'll be nikolai patrushev. my morning thoughts are getting sadder by the day!

Sparafucile
03-02-2005, 09:40
Hmmmmm... my waking thoughts usually oscillate between how long it will take me to clean the snow off the car... whether there is any kefir for breakfast... that girl in Ufa in 1996 and what is she doing now and could I find her on Yandex... or do I have two vaguely-matching socks?

I haven't yet woken up thinking of Nikolai Patrushev, but perhaps that moment will come? Obviously the Russian People are supposed to have the leader's name revealed to them in a dream... perhaps we could start working on some kind of collective dream process for them? :)

kniga
13-02-2005, 12:54
And just when I thought I'd never see a reasonable exchange of divergent ideas in the political arena on the expat site! Amazing, simply amazing, and more than welcome!

Meaulnes
22-02-2005, 20:45
There was a nice artilce in the moscow times a couple of weeks ago;

some excerpts;

Friday, January 14, 2005. Page 8.

Khodorkovsky, The Dubious Martyr

Khodorkovsky rails against the rapacious bureaucracy, predicting that the angry mob will soon be baying for its promised bread and circus. Well, perhaps, but wouldn't it be odd if a nation that quietly suffered the indignities of 1998 -- left hungry, cold and utterly destitute following the collapse of the pyramid erected by the oligarchs -- should rise up in protest now? To use his own analogy, at present the people enjoy both bread and circuses. During the Boris Yeltsin regime they lacked not for circuses -- loans-for-shares was my personal favorite -- but the bread was cruelly missing. The bureaucracy may well be rapacious, but the state budget apparently benefits, too. Wages and pensions are now paid, in cash, in full and on time.


Similarly, a second redistribution of Soviet property would indeed be a dangerous undertaking, yet does this constitute a moral justification for the criminal carve-ups of the 1990s? Does it justify the original purchase of Yukos for some $300 million -- never actually paid -- in a rigged auction or the bloody takeover of Apatit? Does some notion of abstract justice require that Group Menatep now be allowed to sell half its plunder to Exxon for some $30 billion, a 200-fold profit? Though pragmatism mandates that past misdeeds be amnestied, new rules apply: Taxes will be paid, the Duma is not for rent, and money no longer buys absolute power.

A serious injustice has indeed been done. Not to the robber barons who treated Russia as their personal property but to the Yukos minority shareholders caught in a fierce political battle they were ill-equipped to understand. They have a very legitimate grievance, yet the blame lies at least as much with Menatep management as with the Russian state.

Let's not be disingenuous, Mikhail. The game is nearly over. This was no more about a tax bill than it was about you tossing a few rubles to the comically ineffectual Grigory Yavlinsky. It was about power. It was about who rules Russia, the oligarchs or the Kremlin . It was about the taxation of oil revenues and about the control of Transneft and Gazprom. It was about the basic definition of Russia's oil policy, the only useful tool remaining in Russia's diplomatic arsenal.

Mikhail, your conception of patriotism is quite singular. Yes, others before you have fought the state tooth and nail, but they at least refrained from couching their self-interest in terms of patriotism. Your courage is striking, and you have wreaked considerable havoc. Yet how has this advanced an open society in Russia? You have savaged your own cause, and the victories you won have pushed Russia to look inward, alienating her from newfound friends in the West. Your robust challenge to the state has served only to strengthen the conservative siloviki faction. In attaining your desired martyrdom, you have done Russia no favors.

Ned Kelly
22-02-2005, 21:25
a ukrainian whore would blush before eric kraus did. he's a shameless turd.

Meaulnes
22-02-2005, 21:32
I don;t know Krauss that well, only saw him a couple of times on CNBC. But what's wrong with content of the article, without going into ad hominems?

Ned Kelly
22-02-2005, 22:24
actually little of substance. it's just i find it offensive to be lectured by someone who spends their days suckholing to a venal regime.

quincy
23-02-2005, 02:13
Originally posted by Ned Kelly
actually little of substance. it's just i find it offensive to be lectured by someone who spends their days suckholing to a venal regime.

The usual garbage from Kelly!

Ned Kelly
23-02-2005, 09:07
quincy, i figured you a moron, sure, but never the defender of a millionaire investment banker who's made his name as the lickspittle to the russian elite. you're full of surprises!

Eugene
01-03-2005, 12:56
Well, to be frank, I think we should take a rather different approach to the question of democracy in this country here. We are talking about liberties, but there are and were none. You have to regard national mindset and local values rather than liberties here. What kind of liberties did the 90s bring? To me none. Except the liberty of preference to stay at home to carry out the risk of accidental street murder say in 95. 15 years passed and the top and the bottom are still isolated here, there's no connection at all.
Look at the people here. Their local values here would never allow to build a democracy (or at least western style democracy). They do not somehow seem to want it... I'm sure it's not Mr. Putin who tells people here to behave in a non-democratic way. As far as the common thought about FSB guys getting into power... I don't think it's all that bad (or good?) I know a couple of FSB Academy graduates here and they told me that the agency is now employing the worst graded cadets ever (those who have wits soon find themselves in business). Partly because the salary is 300USD, partly because of the braindrain there's almost no skilled staff left...
Such situation is in most of the governmental organisations and stateowned companies. How can you think of democracy, when business start decision is NO because of bureaucrat and mafia fees? (unless you know you are one of the latter). Somehow I do not believe that Hodarkhovski is the case. You have to rebrainwash a couple of generations to set up a democracy here.
While it might turn out that hardly anyone here wants it the western way....

ingsoc
01-03-2005, 22:21
Originally posted by koba65
NYC2LV,

What do you base your comparison on? What is publicized on the net? Via the airwaves? Or is it based on real life experience, i.e., living in a controlled autocratic government and then living in a western-style democracy? Yes, there is corruption in our (American) society, but it's relatively trivial when you compare it with other democracies and non-democracies in the world. One of the main differences is the ability for someone from the so-called "lower rung" to break out from this "lower rung." Our universities are a perfect example of this - a place where people from all backgrounds, economic abilities, can come together and study as equals. Sure, it's harder for the economically disadvantaged, but for those who want to succeed in life there are ways (and means) for them to do so. Those who don't want to succeed spent the majority of their time griping about how life isn't fair or the man is keeping them down.

As far as us being "controlled at every step we make" - what do you mean exactly? How are we being controlled? By adhering to laws that we as a democratic republic (there is a difference btwn being a "democracy" and being a "democratic republic") put in place? Are your thoughts being controlled? Are you having your freedom of speech limited? Are you not allowed to criticize the government? Are the police allowed to search your apartment/home without any probable cause? If the government or law enforcement agencies violate your rights do you not have the ability to seek justice? Can you move freely about the country without having to register in your new city/state? Do the police stop you randomly, without cause, and either arrest you or extract a bribe from you? Etc., etc., etc...

If we were controlled as much as you claim we are then how do you explain the various Blogs that make baseless accusations against politicians/government officials? Why are they still up and running? Why isn't protest brutally repressed (Ever see a Moveon.Org sponsored protest?)

Our government and society is far from perfect, but we still retain the right to criticize it, to enact change, to voice our opinions without fear of retribution. We can sleep safely in our domiciles without worrying about the knock on the door at night by people waiting to take us off for questioning (or worse).

I remember running into a group of "progressive" American college students in East Berlin in the 1980s. They were of the mindset that Reagan's America was oppressive. It was very interesting to see and hear the change in their thinking after witnessing first hand a regime (and one that was known at the time as the "showplace of Communism") that brutally repressed its citizenry.
------------------------------------------------------------

Koba65..I think your views are right on the money and agree totally....as a prior criminal defense attorney...youve hit all thecorrect points...freedom to speak...to assemble..to be be free from unreasonable search and seizure..to address basic concerns re these issues in the courts of justice rather than in the back alley bribes which I and anyone who has spent some time in russia have seen...sound familiar "boy its cold outside in Moscow in January at midnight.you want to stand out here in to cold or pay me 500 rubles..?"...
Anyone who seriously compares individual rights and protections which are afforded by our sixth and fourth amendments to Russia has some serious studying to do....there is simply no basis for comparison as to similarities..the comparison only highlights the huge differences..I agree totally..it will take.if at allpossible..entire generations to pass before the vestigaes of the old system have passed..

It's a very good thing to question your government, but if I were you I'd take full advantage of the freedoms you have. You probably don't realize just how lucky you are.