Time to Blacklist the Russian Duma?

It looks like the honeymoon may be over:  A petition on the U.S. White House’s website asks for signatures in support of adding all the names of the Russian parliamentarians who voted to block adoptions of Russian orphans by American parents to the newly enacted Magnitsky law blacklist. It has already exceeded its goal of 25,000 by more than 1/3 and looks set to go much higher.

The Russian Duma’s Christmas present to Russia’s orphans, denying them U.S. parents and forcing them to remain alone and brutalized by the heartless and barbaric Russian orphanage system, is a new low in the annals of Russian history.  The fact that this measure was taken to pressure the U.S. to repeal the Magnitsky law, and thereby give the Kremlin unfettered power to torture and kill its political foes, indicates that Russia is a nation so sick it may be beyond saving.

And there could be no more emphatic proof of how Barack Obama’s so-called “reset” policy with Russia has failed than that his own government’s website carries a petition calling for virtually the entire body of the Russia parliament to be banned from U.S. shores.  Over on the mighty American Thinker website, LR publisher/founder Kim Zigfeld lays out the gruesome details.

Liar, Liar, Putin’s Pants are on Fire

Vladimir Putin recently concluded  a four-hour press conference in Moscow.  There were some interesting, even startling, developments.

Putin made a lengthy opening statement to the assembled press, including the following remark:  “I want to point out the stability of state finances despite the existing problems, of which we have many and I am sure we will discuss them later.”

During the press conference, the following exchange then occurred:

QUESTION: Sergei Brilyov, Moscow, Rossiya TV channel.

Mr President, at the beginning of the news conference, you spoke about stability.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Did I? I hadn’t said a word about it.

QUESTION: You did.

At the end of your current term as president, you will have been in power so long that children who were born in your first year as President will become adults. Financial stability is a wonderful thing. But these 18 years – this is a special figure in Russian history; aren’t you concerned that stability could turn into stagnation?

In essence, the journalist called Putin a liar to his face.  Or maybe senile, unable to remember what he had said a few moments before?  Then the bold reporter went on to challenge Putin’s central premise, that he should be congratulated for achieving stability.  He confronted him with the question of whether Putin had actually given Russia stagnation.

One was reminded of Putin’s breathtaking gaff (or lie) when he claimed that a Pussy Riot member had participated in an anti-Semitic demonstration when in fact the event was pro-Jew. Is Putin losing it?

There was more. As Power Vertical reports:

A telling moment came when Putin addressed an adult journalist, Maria Solovyenko, by the diminutive, “Masha.” She came right back at him, addressing the Russian head of state by his diminutive, “Vova.”

Just. Wow.  Russian journalists standing up to Putin in this manner is unprecedented. One called him either a liar or a senile fool, while the other called him a child.

Of course, there was also plenty of fawning; one female journalist, for instance, gushed over Putin’s attractiveness and softballed him as to how anyone could claim he was sickly.  Between the two, they agreed it was obviously an opposition plot.

But the open lack of fear and even contempt with which some journalists regarded Putin was compelling and heartening.  If it leads to more and better reporting on Putin’s faults and outrageous crimes (during the interview, he essentially characterized himself as infallible), then Russia may have a future after all.

Russian Poverty

poor_childIn the USA, a person earning $930 or less per month is deemed to fall below the “poverty” level and is considered poor.

In Russia, the figure is $200 per month.

So the poverty income ratio between the USA and Russia is roughly 5:1.

An average American earns about $3,600 per month (about $22.50/hour). The average Russian earns about $770 per month (about $4.80/hour).

So the ordinary income ratio between the USA and Russia is roughly the same as the poverty ratio, 5:1.  The average American poor person has about five times more income than the average Russian poor person, and the average American also has about five times more income.

Of course, nobody in their right mind would suggest that the cost of living in Russia is five times lower than in the United States. In fact, the giant Russian city of Moscow, for example, is routinely ranked as one of the most expensive places to live on the entire planet. Sony TVs, Levi’s jeans, Big Macs, VWs, they all cost pretty much the same no matter where you go.

So, to the extent that the cost of living in the USA isn’t five times higher than Russia, the Russian definition of “poverty” is much too miserly compared to that of the USA.  Of course, by defining poverty in a miserly way, the Russian government gets to claim that fewer Russians are living in poverty than there actually are, making itself look better.

And in fact, most reasonable people accept that the Kremlin sets the “poverty” level artificially — indeed, ludicrously — low in order to make itself look good, by magically erasing the number of poor people, with the stroke of a pen.

But even by miserly Russian standards, Moscow Times reporter Howard Amos reports that the condition of poverty in Russia is worsening. Statistics show that there are now 400,000 more Russians living in poverty, as the Kremlin defines it, than there were in 2007.  There has been no decline in “poverty” as the Kremlin defines it in more than five years.  As has been pointed out, three times more Russians live on less than $7 per day than have ever traveled abroad.

Russia is a poor country, and getting poorer. No amount of Kremlin sleight of hand can change that. And the day of reckoning is coming fast and soon.

The End of Journalism in Putin’s Russia

The latest barrage of reporting from LR/DR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld focuses on journalism and the lack thereof in Putin’s neo-Soviet Russia.

On Pajamas Media, she looks at Putin’s efforts to silence journalism he doesn’t care for, with an example of a foreign reporter being expelled from Siberia for telling the truth about living conditions there.

On American Thinker, she exposes the fraudulent reporting of Putin’s propaganda machine Russia Beyond the Headlines, with an example focusing on their gross misreporting of the Leonid Razvozzhayev torture saga.

Putin is now openly seeking to revive every key totalitarian aspect of the USSR just as quickly as he can do so.  And front and center is his policy of wiping out reporters who tell the truth and elevating those who will lie on his behalf.  Meanwhile, like the sheep they are, the bleating “citizens” of Russia stand mute and allow him to do so at best, at worst they loudly cheer.

Russia Once again on Fast Track to National Suicide

The speed at which Russia is rushing to destroy itself is truly breathtaking.

Russia is simultaneously launching open war against both the United States and the European Union.

The ink isn’t even dry on the WTO agreement Russia signed and it is already violating it, and spitting poison at the EU rather than comply with its written treaty obligations.

And Russia is responding to the overwhelming passage of the Magnitsky Law in the U.S. Congress with cold-war attacks on the USA instead of reform.

This is the same crazed, blind, self-destructive policy we saw from Russia during the Cold War.  How it is possible for Russia to believe it can afford to provoke and confront both the USA and the EU is far beyond our mortal power of comprehension.

Weird Doings at the Moscow Times

“This is the first blog entry of many I’ll be making as I travel along the Russian side of the Russia-China border over the next four weeks, beginning in Chita and ending in Vladivostok.”

That’s what Moscow Times reporter Howard Amos had to say on November 20, 2012, on a special web page on the paper’s website created just for him

He posted every day until November 25th, then went totally silent. Between then and today, December 3rd, more than a week has passed with no hint of why.  A large link to the special web page still appears prominently on the MT’s home page, but readers had no way of knowing if the journey was even still underway.

The reporter’s Twitter feed offers a slight clue.  On November 29th he tweeted: “Goodbye Chita, and your zealous, zealous FSB. In 40 hours I’ll be in Blagoveshchensk.”  Blagoveshchensk is about halfway between Chita and Vladivostok, implying the reporter was continuing his journey to the East but perhaps had been ejected from Chita and his attempt to go close to the Chinese border.

But then the next day came this, out of nowhere:  “That’s it, then. FSB + FMS + MT = total f**k-up. Back to Moscow.”  Since then, no further information on Twitter either.

The special web page is rather bizarre, in that comments are disabled and a map with a small person figure on the route seemed to bear no relations to the reporter’s actual whereabouts.

We wrote the MT editors and asked for an explanation. None was forthcoming.

It’s a pity the MT could not be a bit more transparent with its readers.  If Amos stopped tweeting due to serious problems, we wish him well with them. If he stopped due to pique, that’s a pity too.

UPDATE:  Finally the MT issued an explanation, very weirdly putting a date on the item earlier than it was actually published.

Putin’s Final Crackdown on the Runet Begins

On the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld lays out the horrifying details of Vladimir Putin’s final crackdown on the Russian Internet.  It’s this simple: The apologists of Putin who told us it was OK for him to wipe out newspapers and TV because the Internet would always be free were lying.

Meanwhile, over on the massive PJ Media website, Zigfeld reviews the horrifying peek offered to gaping outsiders into inner workings of the Russian “judicial” system by, of all people, Madonna.