Reply Sun 29 Oct, 2006 10:58 pm
According to an article in today's Austin-American Statesman Russia has taken lead in weapons sales to the developing world, surpassing the U.S. That includes selling $700 million in surface-to-air missles to Iran and eight aerial refueling tankers to China. Russia's deals with Iran aren't the biggest part of its total sales; India and China are its principal buyers.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 2 Feb, 2007 05:05 pm
A baffling, but somehow unsurprising excess of harshness:

Russian shock at 'gagged' babies

BBC News
Thursday, 1 February 2007

Russian prosecutors are investigating allegations that hospital staff in Yekaterinburg gagged babies because they did not want to hear them crying.

The patient at the hospital in the southern Urals who reported the case heard the children's muffled cries.

She used her mobile phone to film a baby lying in a cot with his mouth taped, while others had dummies taped to their mouths. They are all orphans.

The case, covered widely by Russian media, has caused deep shock.

Russians are used to scandals in the hospital, but this case has touched a raw nerve, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow.

Criminal probe

The patient who reported the incident, Elena Kuritsyna, had been in the hospital with her own children.

She said she heard the suppressed crying of young children in the next ward.

"I heard that a baby was mumbling in a neighbouring room; when I looked in, I saw the baby with plaster over his mouth; he could not cry or do anything, was just mumbling," she told Reuters television.

She approached the nurse in the ward and was initially told to mind her own business. Children were crying too loudly, and distracting nurses from their work, she was told.

She eventually persuaded the nurse to remove the plaster, but she says that afterwards the nurse did it again.

The nurse has been suspended and on Wednesday the head doctor at the hospital was reprimanded.

Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation, and say they have discovered that sticking plaster was used more than once.

"Children in the first year of life were systematically gagged with sticking plaster to make children behave quietly," the prosecutors' press service said.

It is alleged the babies were silenced because there were too few staff to deal with them.

Mobile phone footage
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 2 Feb, 2007 05:47 pm
I saw a segment of this report on Russian babies. The commentator mentioned the fact that babies often throw up, and iwhen their mounth is taped shut, they will drown in their own puke.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 7 Mar, 2007 06:46 pm
And yet another critical Russian journalist dies under mysterious circumstances..

Russia probes new reporter death

Russian authorities are investigating the mysterious death of a prominent journalist who covered military space technology for the Kommersant daily.

Ivan Safronov, 51, fell from a fifth-floor window on Friday at the Moscow apartment block where he lived.

Prosecutors quoted by Russian media say they are investigating the possibility that he was "driven to suicide".

But friends and relatives of Safronov told Kommersant that they knew of no reason why he would commit suicide.

"I don't want to fuel speculation, but I can say for sure that I knew him well and he showed absolutely no sign of being suicidal," said Kommersant's chief editor Andrei Vasilyev.

Safronov had irked some officials with his critical reporting and had been questioned by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Associated Press reports.

Kommersant says the results of medical tests on his body are expected on Wednesday and that prosecutors will then decide whether to open a criminal case under the article of suspected murder or induced suicide.

Kommersant says its own analysis of his last telephone calls gives no grounds to suspect that he could have been provoked into committing suicide.

Russian investigators are still trying to find out who killed Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who exposed serious human rights abuses in Chechnya. She was shot dead in Moscow last October.

It wasnt just Politkovskaya either. The New Yorker, in an in-depth feature about Russia under Putin from last January, summed up some of the other cases:

0 Replies
Reply Wed 7 Mar, 2007 06:51 pm
The New Yorker piece is way too long to post here itself, but is an absolute must-read for anyone who is interested in the politics in Russia's society.

If you want to know more about Politkovskaya, who is well portrayed in the article, and about the further darkening of the political clouds over Russia that her murder constituted, read this article.

If you want to know what Putin stands for and to understand the system he is building, you need to read this article.

It does a marvellous job of tracking the backstory, hearing the different sides, analysing what happened here, exactly, and how it came to be this way.

Click this link so you wont have to tell people, later, "I didn't know":

Letter from Russia

Why are Vladimir Putin's opponents dying?

by Michael Specter
Issue of 2007-01-29
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Reply Wed 28 Mar, 2007 03:23 am
Below are the results of a poll that I found interesting and illustrative of the public opinion in today's Russia (http://www.rbcnews.com/free/20070328104912.shtml)
RBC, 28.03.2007, Moscow 10:49:12.The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center has polled 1,600 people in 153 locations of Russia's regions and republics about what associations they had with such word symbols as 'order', 'property', 'socialism', 'business' etc.
Such notions as 'order' (58 percent) and 'justice' (49 percent) aroused the most positive emotions, followed by 'stability' (38 percent), 'welfare' (37 percent), 'freedom' (37 percent), 'patriotism' (35 percent), 'Russians' (34 percent), 'human rights' (33 percent), 'labor' (31 percent) and 'success' (31 percent). These words were found to cause negative emotions with no more than 3 percent of poll participants.
Most negatively Russians perceive such notions as 'elite' (41 percent) 'non-Russians' (29 percent), 'capitalism' (26 percent), 'revolution' (22 percent), and 'the West' (23 percent). Most controversial proved such words as 'socialism' (12 percent of positive and 11 percent of negative responses), 'wealth' (12 against 12 percent), 'democracy' (15 against 9 percent), 'market' (10 against 15 percent), and 'power' (9 against 11 percent).

The Russian version of the article (http://top.rbc.ru/index.shtml?/news/society/2007/03/28/28093824_bod.shtml) also quotes the by age breakdown, which is omitted in the English version for some reason. 'Socialism', 'communism' and 'Soviet Union' are more significant to the older generations. Among those who are between 18 and 24 these notions appear positive to 3%-5% while the age group of 60+ shows 14% to 25% of positive attitude. The latter group also values the concepts of 'justice', 'labour' and 'patriotism' more than 'Russian', 'freedom', 'prosperity', 'wealth', 'property', 'business', 'success', 'comfort' and 'progress'. The younger the poll participants are the more negatively they view 'non-Russian', 'communism' and 'the Soviet Union' while 'capitalism', 'market' and 'business' cause less negative sentiments.

I am really alarmed by the fact that almost one third of all those questioned expressed negative attitude towards 'non-Russians' and this trend becomes very characteristic among the young. For such a multi-cultural nation as Russia this may become very destructive, especially because in this country most 'non-Russians' are not immigrants!
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 8 Apr, 2007 09:46 am
SerSo, Am I happy to see you post here on a2k. I´ve been trying to get your home address, but I´m restricted from writing PMs on a2k. You can mail me PMs, however. It would be nice if you can send me your email address.

I just finished a 24-day cruise from Buenos Aires to Barcelona, and just disembarked from the ship this morning. I´m now at our hotel in Barcelona, but will be home on April 11 for five days before departing for the Balkans for 18-days.

Your friend in California. T.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 25 Apr, 2007 09:30 pm
Good, there are still people sharing re this topic.

After he leaves office, will the current President of Russia still be in charge...or will there be an actual change of Power?
0 Replies
Reply Mon 28 May, 2007 02:56 pm
Hey SerSo, missed that opinion poll of yours. Interesting stuff.

What struck me first were that the positive association ratings were so low for pretty much any word. Just 37% has a positive response to 'freedom'? Compared to 58% for 'order' - there's your explanation for Putin's enduring popularity right there.

And what is perhaps the saddest part - just 15% have a positive reaction to 'democracy'. I suppose that after the chaos and loss of empire of Gorbachev's time and the downright anarchy and economic meltdown of Yeltsin's era, where robber barons cloaked themselves in the flag of 'democracy', 'market' and 'Western' (two more words with very low positives), the whole notions have to a large extent be spoiled.

And yes, truly worring the extent of negative association with 'non-Russian', positive with 'Russians', and how that's only starker among young people.

I'm a month late, but thanks for bringing that!
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Reply Mon 28 May, 2007 03:03 pm
And talking about young people and intolerance - and the complicity of the authorities... this here is shocking stuff.

Peaceful gay protestors (including prominent foreign guests) being kicked and punched in the face by anti-gay protestors. And the police standing by and then arresting .. the gay protestors.

Russian police detain gays as punches fly

Sun May 27, 2007 12:38PM EDT

MOSCOW - Russian nationalists shouting "death to homosexuals" punched and kicked demonstrators calling for the right to hold a Gay Pride parade in central Moscow on Sunday while riot police detained dozens of gay protesters.

Two European parliamentarians were among those held as they tried to present a petition asking Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called gay marches satanic acts, to lift a ban on the parade.

Nationalists and extreme Russian Orthodox believers held icons and denounced homosexuality as "evil" while a group of thick-set young men turned up with surgeon's masks, which they said would protect them from the "gay disease".

"We are defending our rights," said a young gay man named Alexey, with blood pouring from his nose after he was beaten up by a man screaming "homosexuals are perverts" opposite the mayor's office. His attacker was detained.

"This is terrible but I am not scared. This is a pretty scary place, a pretty scary country if you are gay. But we won't give up until they allow us our rights," he said.

Hundreds of riot police lined Tverskaya street in central Moscow and plain-clothes police mingled with a large number of foreign and Russian journalists.

Parade organiser Nikolai Alexeyev said by telephone from a police station that about 30 gay activists had been detained. A police spokesman said 31 people were detained.

"We are sitting in the police station right now. We were detained outside the mayor's office when we tried to present the petition," said Alexeyev. "They are keeping us in the cells overnight and we will be in court tomorrow."

Marco Cappato, an Italian member of the EU parliament, was also detained at the protest but later released.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 but tolerance is not widespread. When asked about gay parades, President Vladimir Putin quipped in February that his approach to sexual minorities is guided by Russia demographic problems.

"We believe these perverts should not be allowed to march on the streets of Moscow, the third Rome, a holy city for all Russians," said Igor Miroshnichenko, who said he was an Orthodox believer who had come to support the riot police.

"It (homosexuality) is satanic," he said. One man holding a crucifix threatened to beat up any gay person he saw.

Richard Fairbrass, a gay singer with the British pop group Right Said Fred, was punched in the face and kicked by anti-gay activists while speaking to Reuters in an interview.

"We understand this is a gay event and so we came down here today," Fairbrass said before being hit. Blood dripped from his face after the attack.

British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was knocked to the ground and kicked twice. When he got up he was punched in the face again and taken away by two riot policemen.

"The attitude of President Putin and Mayor Luzhkov is that they will grudgingly tolerate gay people providing they remain in the closet and underground," Tatchell said by telephone.

"There is no serious action taken against queer bashing."

Volker Beck, a German Green Party politician, was hit in the face with eggs before being detained by riot police. "We didn't do anything," he told Reuters as he was led away.

Germany's Green Party Chairwoman Claudia Roth called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise the issue of rights with Putin at next month's Group of Eight summit.

"It has been shown once again today that human rights are systematically abused in Putin's Russia," she said in a statement. Beck was later released.

"It is very conspicuous when people are arrested in front of the mayor's office when they were doing nothing other than trying to present a peaceful petition," said Scott Long, a rights activist with Human Rights Watch who observed the events.

"There was no real attempt to separate the two sides and that led to people being beaten up," he said. "I would call on the Russian authorities to protect freedom of assembly, protect freedom of expression and protect demonstrators."
0 Replies
Reply Tue 29 May, 2007 01:27 pm
In the recent Estonia thread, I linked in a Radio Free Europe report that recounted the unclarified attacks on Polish diplomats in Russia two years ago:

Such seemingly state-sponsored actions have some precedents -- albeit circumstantial.

In summer 2005, Polish citizens, including diplomats and journalists, in Moscow were harassed by "unknown attackers." The attacks followed an attack in Warsaw on the family of a Russian diplomat, and Moscow expressed its displeasure at the way the Polish investigation proceeded. But when Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski called on Putin to stop the attacks, the assaults on Poles in Moscow abruptly ended.

Well, now it's the Brits' turn.

Perhaps it's because, as the following article suggests, the British ambassador attended a human rights conference with Russian dissidents, raising the ire of the pro-Putin youth movement. Or perhaps it's because of how London has just demanded the extradition of a former agent of the FSB (successor to the old KGB), in the case of the murder by poisoning of exiled dissident Litvinenko. Perhaps it's just coincidence, bad luck, as the Russian authorities maintain.

Senior UK diplomat beaten up after campaign of Russian harassment

· Siberian assault follows bid to intimidate envoy
· Livingstone plea to mayor of Moscow on gay parades

Tuesday May 29, 2007
The Guardian

A senior British diplomat has been beaten by two unidentified assailants while on an official trip in provincial Russia. Nigel Gould-Davies, first secretary at the British embassy in Moscow, was attacked at 1am on Saturday as he walked across the theatre square in the Siberian city of Chita, police said.

Mr Gould-Davies needed hospital treatment for bruises to his face. His glasses were broken in the attack and he was unable to see his assailants, police said.

The beating is the second assault on Britons in Russia in two days, and follows an attack on Sunday by anti-homosexual protesters on the British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. [..] Yesterday embassy officials described the attack on Mr Gould-Davies as a random assault carried out by drunken teenagers celebrating the end of the school year.

But the assault follows sustained state-sponsored harassment by the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi against Anthony Brenton, Britain's ambassador in Moscow. Activists have picketed the British embassy, disrupted meetings and jumped in front of the ambassador's car. The campaign started last summer after Mr Brenton attended a human rights conference.

Mr Gould-Davies was at the end of a two-week lecture tour in Siberia. The diplomat had given lectures to university students on globalisation, and had also met with regional officials. [..] An embassy spokesman said: "We can confirm that an assault took place against a British diplomat in Chita. We are in close contact with him. We look to the authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are caught." [..]

Article also has more about the aftermath of the assault on gay protestors this weekend:

In Moscow, three Russian gay activists appeared in court yesterday following Sunday's demonstrations, which saw the arrest of 25 campaigners, including the German Green MP Volker Beck and the Italian MEP Marco Cappato.

The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, yesterday wrote to Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, urging him to lift the ban on gay parades in the city that prompted Sunday's protest. He also called for all charges against the gay rights demonstrators to be dropped. "I am writing to convey my deep concern at the reported physical violence against and arrest of Peter Tatchell," Mr Livingstone wrote, adding that gay parades were now "the practice in most cities around the world".

Yesterday Mr Tatchell said he was still recovering. He said the Moscow police had "stood and watched" while far-right skinheads kicked him to the ground and punched him. "Even today I'm woozy. My eyesight is pretty poor. It's difficult to see clearly," he told the Guardian.

"It's almost on a par with the beating I received at the hands of Robert Mugabe's thugs in 2001. This time I wasn't knocked unconscious and left in the gutter. But I ended up with a much bloodier face and severe bruising and swelling."

Mr Tatchell yesterday registered a complaint about his treatment with Moscow police. Officials, however, defended the actions of riot police. "The city authorities did the right thing by prohibiting the parade and thus preventing clashes between opponents who are numerous in this country and advocates of sexual minorities," said Mikhail Solomentsev, a spokesman for Moscow's mayor.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 6 Feb, 2008 07:34 am
One wonders how Russians view the American Primaries?
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 7 Feb, 2008 01:33 pm
Probably with a little bit of envy.
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Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 06:50 pm
I have been reading about the resurgence of the military in Russia. Apparently, money is now available to update their equipment. Their long range bombers fly around the world...ruffing the feathers of the US and our allies.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 15 Feb, 2008 06:32 pm
Mapleleaf wrote:
One wonders how Russians view the American Primaries?

Though they are perceived by almost everyone as something of very little importance as far as the problems of Russia are concerned, most people (those who are interested in what is happening in the world, of course) are aware of the competition between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side as well as that John McCain will most likely be the presidential candidate from the Republican party. I do not think somebody can still name the differences between the three. It has been noticed however that the Donkey chooses between a woman and an afro-american - something out of the ordinary.

I think it is quite normal that existing or future government of another country is regarded from abroad through the perspective of foreign policy and international relations while "internal" likes and dislikes are defined by domestic subjects. The contrary, I think, probably signals that a country has serious problems. I have to confess, I know nothing of what the "hottest" topics in the US debates are. I guess one of them must be the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and I doubt that tortures of prisoners by US interrogators get the same focus as outside the US, the same as consumer prices are more important for an average Russian here than oppressive measures against terrorists and supposed terrorists in the Caucasus areas of Russia. It seems it has always been so, even if in terms of history of the two such issues the latter always turns up much more important than the former.

Russian political scientists used to consider Republican presidents to be better for Russia as compared to Democrats. Never researched into this question myself but in my opinion Bill Clinton's administration is definitely to blame (to a degree, of course) for destruction of the economy here and emergence of a police state, which Russia became in 1990's, when USA rendered full support to Boris Yeltsin and his cronies for the sake of having a pro-western leadership in this country.

For Ronald Reagan, who was a Republican, we were an "Evil Empire" and the worse we here lived the better it was for his concept of "freedom". I was a secondary school student back then and do not remember any immediate effects of the economic measures he took against the Soviet Union but looking from today Reagan seems to have tried his hardest to make us poorer. Well, SU and US were Cold War adversaries at that time, but together with the Clinton's hypocritical policy (pay lip service to democracy, support a brutal and corrupt regime and make the best of it) it now leaves the majority of Russians with a strong belief that USA would never do anything good to us.

Apologies for my "anti-american outburst", initially I only intended to answer the question about the primaries but it led me to Russian-American relations in general and people's attitudes to them. Please do not see it as another attempt to bash USA and blame them for all the world's evil. Personally I admire US for its contribution to the human progress and at the same time hate it (sorry, American a2k members) for imposing its interests and even its way of life on other nations which is too often done by force, either military or economic. As to America and Russia, somebody on a2k once wrote that we are two extremes of the Western civilisation and I tend to agree with it. Both have its own list of flaws in the present and the past, which are better seen from the outside.

Honestly I am sure that any country has something that should be borrowed by other nations while USA has lots of such things: just take for instance a structure of federal, state and local governments, which successfully functions on a huge territory, checks and balances that allow taking into account multiple interests, policies that encourage scientific development, academic research and progress in technologies, legal and financial incentives to business activities etc. There are far too many examples that have to be followed. But not all of them, not the whole system. Primaries fall into this model quite well; I consider them pretty good means to balance interests of political elite and rank-and-file party members/supporters, however in my opinion they involve too much of an expensive PR campaign for every candidate, what makes each of them dependant on their budget, which in its turn turns to a sort of contest between sponsors with thick wallets and commercial interests instead of genuine competition of ideas. Overall I do not think a two-party system is the best option as it hardly allows new figures on the scene and leaves many outsiders thus hampering changes whereas they might be necessary.
Btw very soon, on March 2 we are having our presidential elections. C.I., you are probably right, at least US primaries are more interesting to watch. I have never been to the States and know very little of people's needs and expectations there, so I do not presume to judge whether the primaries and the subsequent November elections really mean to bring improvement to the life of average American. On the streets of Moscow, unlike the last December's parliamentary election, I can see no campaigners trying to persuade people to vote for one or another candidate (in December I met plenty of them from the Communist party). If not for the posters reminding of the voting a foreign visitor could hardly understand that the country will elect its head of state in a fortnight. I heard there were televised debates that the most likely winner did not even bother himself to attend. I recall the height of the economic crisis of the late 80's - early 90's, which finally resulted in the collapse of the whole state, when people angry and tired with the awkward policy of last Soviet government sometimes said that the best leadership for the country could be the one whose presence in the country would remain unnoticed. We truly seem to be on the way to such a state as the change of our government is already none of our concern and interest.

Some info on the upcoming presidential elections in Russia: Rivals in Kremlin Race

P.S. I seem unable to do without long posts Confused
It apparently becomes a tradition. Even in a foreign language. Still hope they are not too boring or incomprehensible to read.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 15 Feb, 2008 06:46 pm
SerSo wrote:

... P.S. I seem unable to do without long posts Confused
It apparently becomes a tradition. Even in a foreign language. Still hope they are not too boring or incomprehensible to read.

Not at all. I found it both informative and insightful. I will make a point of reading any others you submit. I also appreciate your evident respect for the limits of your knowledge and understanding. We all have them (myself included), but far too few acknowledge their existence and effect.
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 15 Feb, 2008 06:57 pm
Hi SerSo, Nice to see you on board again after a long absence. Your opinion is honest and forthright; something we rarely see.

Your are correct in your assessment of what Americans are most worried about; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our economy. The economy encompases many things besides jobs, keeping up with inflation, our subprime mortgage crisis, our trade deficit, and our government spending that mortgages our children's future. Our food costs are also increasing faster than wage increases.

The one bright light, if we can call it that, is the simple fact that our balance of trade has improved - except with China. We are paying a huge price for this benefit by the loss of value of the US dollar.

Most financial pundits are predicting that our subprime/liquidity problem will hender our economy for the remainder of this year, and more than likely into 2009.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 15 Feb, 2008 07:14 pm
SerSo, if a posting is informative, the length makes no difference. I am excited about reading you again.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2008 10:46 pm

Are you still out there? Got any friends that will provide us with insights into Russia of 2008?
0 Replies
Reply Sun 20 Jul, 2008 03:51 pm
It's a pleasure to know that you are remembered Smile

Mapleleaf, does your "Are you still out there?" refer to Russia or a2k? No matter, I am still here, both in Moscow and the a2k forum, though my workload does not allow me to write here too often. However I try to read through some new posts and sometimes even react, if I find the subject interesting.

Sorry for the absence, besides the work, which involves writing lots of tech docs and attending courses in Cisco optical solutions, my wife and me have recently bought an apartment in Berlin, Germany and are not yet through with all the officialdom involved. A very interesting experience, though! Hope I will have time to write about it in the "Europe" section of a2k. Also lots of pictures, if I find a good public server to store them, I feel like making a photo-report of a couple of my recent trips.

Unfortunately my friends are as busy as myself to post to any Internet forums. But you are always welcome to ask me any questions! I am already here Smile
0 Replies

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