Bloggers get it Wrong on Navalny

Two of our favorite Russia bloggers are Brian Whitmore (blogging at The Power Vertical) and Vladimir Kara-Murza (blogging at Spotlight on Russia).  So we were deeply disappointed to see both publish highly misleading reports on the activities of their fellow blogger Alexei Navalny.

Recently, both Whitmore and Kara-Murza wrote about the resignation of United Russia State Duma Deputy Vladimir Pekhtin, who was exposed by the blogsphere as owning vast property holdings in the U.S.A. even as he viciously attacked Americans and Russians who sympathize with American values.  Both Whitmore and Kara-Murza credited Navalny with bringing down Pekhtin, with Whitmore writing acidly that Navalny had “claimed a scalp.”

But the actual truth about Pekhtin was not to be found on either Power Vertical or Spotlight on Russia. It was found instead on the website of Andrei Tselikov (a blog called RuNet Echo operated by Global Voices).  Tselikov reveals that it was not Navalny at all who brought down Pekhtin, but an anonymous physicist blogging from Spain under the moniker “Dr. Z.”  As Tselikov reports:  “Curiously, while Navalny thanked Dr. Z for giving him a ‘heads up’ on Pekhtin, he never made it clear that around 80% of the materials he posted were first found and published by Dr. Z.”

“Curiously” is the type of language that the milquetoast bloggers at Global Voices use when they want to denounce outrageous misconduct like plagiarism, which is what Navalny is clearly guilty of.   His failure to give due credit to Dr. Z, attempting to steal the thunder for himself, obviously misled both Whitmore and Kara-Murza, who didn’t look deeply enough before lauding Navalny with credit he simply did not deserve.

Whitmore and Kara-Murza also missed another important component of the story.  Their one-sided reporting implies that the downfall of Pekhtin highlights Navalny’s ever-growing power and influence, but the reality is that it shows the exact opposite.  We are delighted to see Navalny return to his roots, bringing publicity to the work of others in rooting out instances of corruption in Russia, which is where his talents lie. But his doing so only further emphasizes the total and disastrous collapse of Navalny’s so-called “movement” seeking to bring political change in neo-Soviet Russia.  Every promise Navalny ever made about that movement was broken, and now it has completely given up its feeble attempt to run candidates for office.  Whitmore’s grossly misleading headline “Advantage Navalny” has it exactly backwards. Advantage:  Putin.

As we’ve said many times before, there is far too much breathless, fawning, rose-colored reporting about the Russian opposition by those who oppose Vladimir Putin.  What these reports routinely fail to remember is that in the end the opposition faces a fundamental obstacle nearly impossible to overcome:  They are comprised of Russians, and Russian vices inevitably bring them down.  We’ve said from the very beginning that Navalny is a dead-end for Russia, he simply has far too many classically Russian faults to be the country’s Gandhi or Martin Luther King.  He’s not even Che Guevara.  He’s just a pretender, whose exploits have sucked all the oxygen out of the opposition room and prevented a more viable alternative from emerging, something that can only delight Putin and help Russia further down the road to national collapse.

In Russia, one Picture is Worth a Thousand Screams

Gorky Park

If a perfect photograph of Russia has ever been taken, it’s surely this one (click it to see it full size) by talented freelancer Jeremy Nicholl fora magazine piece on Gorky Park. The image of a so-called “mother” dangling her nude infant above a frozen expanse of water while perched precariously on a steep embankment of ice while her semi-nude husband makes a feeble grab for her shirttails really is worth a thousand screams. No, she’s not saving the little fellow from the frigid water, she’s dipping him in it while he screams with agony, a tradition many Russians consider charming.  This is the country that dares to claim American adoptive parents, who are far, far less likely to murder a Russian child than Russian parents, are a serious risk to Russia’s future.  This is a country not long for this world.

Wall-to-Wall Zigfeld

LR/DR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld offers readers a full slate of columns this week on all three of her major forums:

  • On Pajamas Media, Kim gapes slackjawed at Russia’s decision to revive the name “Stalingrad” and return to its failed neo-Soviet past
  • On American Thinker, she documents the latest horrifying escalation of Vladimir Putin’s war on the Russian Internet
  • And on RUSSIA! magazine, she exposes the breathtaking hypocrisy of Dmitri Medvedev in calling for plagiarism reform while ignoring the outrageous acts of his county’s plagiarist-in-chief, Vladimir Putin.

We can’t think how it might be possible for any reasonable person to read all three of these pieces and conclude anything other than that Russia is a doomed, barbaric state committing national suicide.

Shocking Backwardness in Putin’s Russia

Vedomosti reported on February 14, 2013, as follows (original DR translation, corrections welcome):

Russians live in a constant shortage of municipal infrastructure.  For example:

  • Central heating  is lacking in 8% of homes.
  • About 11% of homes in cities nationwide do not have a water supply
  • There are no sanitation services in 12% of residences.
  • There is no hot water in almost 20% of homes.
  • Over 30% of urban housing has yet to be gasified.

For 10 years these figures have remained unimproved.  The general deterioration of the utilities sector infrastructure has reached 70%.

These were the conclusions of the Russian Union of Engineers (RCI), analyzing the state of housing in 164 cities across the country. It is easiest to cope with these troubles residents suburbs. Eight of the top ten cities for infrastructure, nine were Moscow’s satellite cities.

The eight cities were Lyubertsy, Pushkin, Krasnogorsk, Podolsk, Odintsov, Balashikha, Shchelkovo and Zhukovsky. Lyubertsy took first place in rankings; it has 14 kilometers of heating network and 16 kilometers of water and sewer network for every square kilometer of urban territory.  This is the highest result in the country. In total length of gas pipelines (12 km/sq. km) the national leader is Barnaul , where 1 square kilometer of the city has 53 km of gas networking. In second place in that category comes Pushkino, where one square kilometer of territory contains over 23 kilometers of such networks. Neither Moscow nor St. Petersburg made the top ten. Other cities showing good performance were Kaluga, Morom, Stary Oskol and Novoy Urengoy.

The worst cities in nation were Samara, Essentuki, Tyumen, Novokuznetsk  and Chita.  In some cities, the situation is close to critical, according to RCI. For example, in Leninsk-Kuznetsk and Essentuki  the deterioration of water and sewerage network is close to 90%.

According to Rosstat, on January 1, 2012 (data through January 1, 2013 has not yet been published):

  • 22.2 million Russians have inadequate heating
  • 29.2 million Russians have inadequate water supply
  • 34.9 million Russians have inadequate sanitation
  • 47.1 million Russians have inadequate hot water supply

Rosstat found that 28.3% of Russians must use supplemental heat sources to warm their homes, and 13.3% rely on their stoves alone.  27.5% of households have inadequate electricity supply, with 8% seeing power failures more than once per week.

Closing in on Russia in the Courts

If you want to get a good insight into the true nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, just compare a news report on Voice of Russia, one of the Kremlin’s state-sponsored propaganda mouthpieces, with one from the same day on the same topic by Reuters.

Both stories address a ruling in April 2012 by the European Court for Human Rights.  The Court was adjudicating a lawsuit by numerous survivors of the more than 22,000 Polish officers brutally and cravenly murdered in cold blood by the Russian secret police in the Katyn forest during World War II.  First the Russian army arrived on the outskirts of Warsaw and watched while the Nazis liquidated the Warsaw Uprising, then they marched in and took the Nazis’ places as occupiers.  Then they rounded up virtually the entire Polish officer corps, trucked them into the Katyn forest, shot them down in cold blood and planted signs making it appear the Nazis had committed the crime, one of the most barbaric in world history.  They did this to eliminate the possibility that these offices might lead another uprising, this time against Russia.

The Reuters story reports truthfully on Russia’s numerous convictions for war crimes in Katyn.  It also notes that the ECHR found itself unable to address the subsequent Russian investigation into the crime, which the survivors also said was a perversion of justice, for technical jurisdictional reasons.  The Voice of Russia story ignores the convictions and only reports on the technical issue, making it appear Russia had been acquitted. It also minimized the possibility that the Polish families would pursue an appeal on the one area where Russia was not defeated, which it in fact they have done.  The appeal is now moving forward and can be followed on Twitter here.  Russia faces national humiliation and disgrace yet again.

Pussy Riot is also pursuing an appeal in the ECHR, asking the court to rule their persecution and imprisonment for singing in church was a violation of basic international norms of justice.

And now yet another legal battle has been opened against Russia. Google, on behalf of its YouTube website, has filed an appeal against Russia’s utterly barbaric new law that permits the government to block any website it wants for any reason, a law which the Kremlin has already tried to use against YouTube in connection with political videos.  Inevitably, this case will end up before the ECHR as well, when Russian courts refuse to apply the nation’s constitution in defense of basic civil rights and liberties.

Russia can run, but it can’t hide from the ECHR.  Russia has already been convicted there over and over again for state-sponsored murder, torture and kidnapping throughout the Caucasus.  Now the legal front is widening, as determined victims of Russian aggression and abuse turn to the ECHR for justice.  Russia is being exposed as a barbaric nation which will not observe basic civilized standards of behavior, thus alienating everyone from political allies to foreign investors.  In the ECHR, Russia’s days are numbered.

Just Say Nochi

With one year left now before the Winter Olympics convenes in Sochi, Russia, Kim Zigfeld’s latest column for RUSSIA! magazine exposes the horror of the IOC’s decision to lodge the games in the unworthy dictatorship run by proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin.  A horrifying report from Human Rights Watch exposes how unprepared, impoverished Russia has created an entire culture of slaves in Sochi to build the Olympics venues, which were totally lacking in unqualified, unprepared Sochi.

Russian Corruption, in Black and White


The photo above is one from a stunning series by photographer Misha Friedman titled “Photo51 — Is Corruption in Russia’s DNA?” and touted recently on the “Lens” blog operated by the New York Times. Click the image to see it full size.

In the image, a Russian man beats a woman in broad daylight in the streets of Moscow, as policemen look on with disinterest.  In Russia, one woman is murdered by her spouse every hour on the hour.

An exhibition of Friedman’s work will open on Feb. 15 and be on view through March 2 at 287 Spring in SoHo in New York City.

Putin and the Big Lie

LR/DR publisher/founder Kim Zigfeld’s latest report is up and running on the powerful and influential American Thinker website.  In it, she explores the shocking agreement of the titanic U.S. brokerage house Goldman Sachs to participate in pro-Kremlin propaganda, misleading world investors by skewing information about Russia in a positive light.   Putin needs to rely on such measures because, as we’ve reported many times, his leadership is driving the Russian economy to ruin.