RUSSIA DEBATE. My colleague Anatoly Karlin has created a website The Russia Debate as a repository for the healthy discussion throughout the English Russophere. The idea is that it would become the go to spot for discussions about issues pertaining to Russia arranged by topic and searchable. At the moment an enormous amount of this discussion happens on Mark Chapman’s site The Kremlin Stooge. All sorts of highly intelligent and useful information may be found there but it is not user-friendly. So I ask you to patronise The Russia Debate and build it up as a repository of the collective wisdom. And those of you who observe but do not participate should scout it too.
THE FAILURE OF PUTINISM. The Russian birth rate in 2012 actually exceeded the US birth rate. The World Bank ranks Russia as the fifth largest GDP in the world by purchasing power, displacing Germany, and eighth over all. The long–predicted collapse must be postponed. Again.
CORRUPTION. Arrests and investigations: tax officer fraud; parliamentarian extortion; regional minister bribes; gang illegal money transfer; mayor corruption; Serdyukov again and again; Armed Forces. Convictions: Khimki City official for violence. And Navalniy. And Browder. And a former Tula governor. See below.
BUT FIRST, SOMETHING YOU WON’T HEAR ABOUT. The European Court of Human Rights announced its judgement on the first Khodorkovskiy trial and found no violation of several articles including right to a fair trial. There is a propaganda war against Russia and initial reports create the bad impression while reconsideration, like this one, arrive too late. Vide Litvinenko. Khodorkovskiy’s site spins the results as best it can. Read the download. It is best, in the case of Russia, to read the original, not read about it; the “about” part is almost always manipulated to fit the anti-Russia memes. See below.
NAVALNIY. Found guilty of responsibility for embezzlement but now out on bail pending appeal. Naturally, as a Putin opponent, the Western MSM assumes he is completely innocent. There is an enormous amount of information in the comments on Mark Chapman’s blog; anyone reading them would soon realise that the Western media didn’t report even a tenth of the story.
MAGNITSKIY. The “trial of a dead man” is completed. Or, accurately, the trial of a live man and his dead assistant is completed. The court convicted William Browder of tax evasion and sentenced him to 9 years and also found Magnitskiy guilty of tax evasion. Just like Stalin, said Browder. This Reuters report is stunningly one-sided: of 1006 words, 475 are opinions criticising the verdict, 150 from Browder himself. Only 44 mention the charge; none mention evidence. Moscow has asked for an Interpol warrant for Browder.
A PUBLICISED TRIAL. The Western MSM likes to give you the impression that only Putin’s enemies are sentenced but the former governor of Tula Region, appointed by Putin, re-appointed by Medvedev and a United Russia member, has just been sentenced to 9 ½ years for bribe-taking.
BEREZOVSKIY. We are told, via the UK Embassy in Moscow, that the toxicology examination to find out the cause of Berezovskiy’s death should be completed by the end of the year. Nine months after his death! This isn’t going to turn into another Litvinenko case, is it?
RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES. Quite a lot of activity. At the beginning of the month, an exercise with the Chinese Navy, said to be its largest-ever with a foreign power. Then a series of large combat readiness “snap checks” in the Far East that eventually involved 160,000 troops, 1000 AFVs, 130 aircraft and 70 ships. Documentary here. This concluded on the 22nd and now there is a series of “snap drills” for the Strategic Missile Forces.
INTERESTING STORY. Saakashvili – not typically a source I give much credibility to – has charged that before the August 2008 war Jerusalem gave Moscow the operating codes for the RPVs it had sold Georgia; in return Moscow passed over the codes for a SAM system in Iran. I don’t find this unbelievable: I noticed how swiftly the RPVs disappeared and how immediately after August 2008 Jerusalem dropped Tbilisi as a customer.