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Very interesting

Putin’s plans

Putin announced in September that he would seek to return to the Russian presidency in 2012, and he has started laying out his goals for his new reign.








He said Russia would formalize its relationship with former Soviet states by creating a Eurasia Union (EuU); other former Soviet states proposed the concept nearly a decade ago, but Russia is now in a position in which it can begin implementing it. Russia will begin this new iteration of a Russian empire by creating a union with former Soviet states based on Moscow’s current associations, such as the Customs Union, the Union State and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. This will allow the EuU to strategically encompass both the economic and security spheres. read more


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Dear Mr Putin and your “friend” Mr Kudrin. On what Planet do you live?


“Thank God … we do not print the reserve currency. But what are they stirring up? They are simply acting like hooligans,” Putin told the audience which included his veteran finance minister, Alexei Kudrin.

“They turn on the printing presses and fling them (dollars) over the entire world to resolve their immediate tasks. They say monopolies are bad but only if they are foreign — their own are good. So they use their monopoly on printing money to the full.”

read more here..

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How low can one fall?


Published: July 9, 2011

HAMADONI DISTRICT, Tajikistan – Using a raft made of scrap wood and the
inner tube of a truck tire, four armed men recently crossed the river from
Afghanistan to a tiny, nameless border settlement here and kidnapped the two
adolescent sons of a local army recruiter.

With their hostages, they then crossed back into Afghanistan and called the
recruiter, demanding $55,000. They threatened to kill his sons and sell
their organs on the black market if he refused.

Such kidnappings, along with murders, armed clashes and other violence, have
become persistent features of life along Tajikistan’s extensive border with
Afghanistan. A largely unprotected expanse of severe peaks and dusty plains,
the border is practically all that separates the former Soviet republics of
Central Asia and beyond from the chaos of one of the world’s most
war-ravaged countries.

Securing it and the smaller borders with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan has
taken on greater urgency as American forces prepare to withdraw from
read more from New York Times

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Moscow, May 24, 2011 – Today the Moscow City Court rejected the appeal of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky and Platon L. Lebedev against the December 27, 2010 Khamovnichesky Court verdict which condemned them for allegedly embezzling the entire production of the Yukos Oil Company from 1998 to 2003 and laundering the proceeds. With the rejection of their appeal their scheduled release has been pushed from 2011 to 2016.

Khodorkovsky, who entered the courtroom to applause, spoke at today’s hearing about the verdict, asking:

“…in what dusty cellar did they dig up that poisonous Stalinist spider who wrote this drivel? What kind of long-term investments can one talk about with such justice? No modernization will succeed without a purging of these cellars.”

“There is no way to correct this verdict,” he said. “That means, – either overturn and terminate this shamefulness, or join ranks with the criminals, who spit on the law. I have nothing to talk about with criminals, even those in a judge’s robe. And indeed there is no reason for me to. I do not need mercy from criminals.”

Khodorkovsky said his fate was already determined but called for an end to the authorities provoking the Russian people:

“You know, what attitude many Muscovites today have towards your court. Yet the courts with their decisions, their attitude towards people, seem intentionally to provoke: saying it is not you who appointed us, we spit on you.”

“And so, you should not scorn us. We’ve had enough. We’ve had enough of arbitrariness, we’ve had enough of lying. We’ve had enough of bribe-takers and swindlers in power for whom anything goes and who don’t recognize any rules or authority!”

“There is no such thing as a rule-of-law state without an honest judiciary. Our people have already paid for the absence of a rule-of-law state with millions of lives. Enough! The destruction of law – this is the annihilation of the country’s future. This is treason. And there is no pardon for treason.”read more

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Russias way to next year of a new President???

Random Thoughts from Moscow (1)

Having recently returned from my first trip back to Moscow for a while, it is interesting to see how much has changed and what has not. With no particular order or claims to special wisdom, here are an initial couple of thoughts…

Police reform will take a long time. The new uniforms may be on their way and I saw the first handful of trucks and Fiat vans with Politsiya instead of Militsiya on the side, but there is little evidence of a more professional, public-service attitude, even amongst the myriad cadets deployed through Moscow around the Victory Day celebrations. Furthermore, for all the regular toll of senior officers sacked, tales abound of bribes being demanded precisely to ensure that officers get a clean bill of health and keep their jobs as well as the use of this process as a handy tool to purge officers seen as too close to local interests. To a considerable extent this is a purge to re-assert central control more than a cull of the egregiously incompetent or corrupt (although to be fair, a goodly number of greedy and stupid officers are being trimmed). Whereas security in Sheremetevo was much more efficient and punctilious than I had expected and was actually pretty impressive, elsewhere the usual Russian vice of form over function was too often in evidence: trios of cops in metro stations doing nothing but chat, metal detectors at entrance points to central Moscow but no one paying attention when they went off (maybe if I had looked more North Caucasian then someone might have bothered?), guards who feel that photographing government buildings is a greater threat than battered cars abandoned haphazardly on their corner (presumably the prospect of my photographic the GenProkuratura building was more alarming than a possible car bomb?)…

Corruption is alive and well. No one seems to have anything positive to say about the new rhetoric on fighting corruption, and certainly no one says that it is having any kind of impact. The opposition — such as it is — really misses a trick by concentrating on Putin and co, rather than the extent to which the level of institutionalized corruption is contributing to the high prices you pay for almost anything in Moscow. Grumble at the cost of a (rather nice, admittedly) hot chocolate and bliny at Shokoladnitsa? Think about how many rubles of that cover price go into keeping all kinds of bureaucrats and predators as sweet as the drinks.

How do you live in Moscow? It is ridiculously expensive in the main, and while there is a distinct class of ultra-rich (I’ve never seen so many Bentleys) as well as a growing well-to-do upper-middle class, it does raise the question of how ‘ordinary’ Muscovites cope. One answer is that they don’t eat out, shop a lot and the like, but to be honest there seemed to be a fairly democratic spread of conspicuous consumption, and even heading out into the working-class suburbs revealed crumbling apartment blocks but also consumer goods stores and cafes. Another, I suppose, is that they live with parents and take bribes. That’s the same irony as drove the underground economy in later Soviet times: to get anything you wanted you needed blat (personal connections and favors) and/or lots of cash, ideally hard currency. So you exploited the goods, services or access at your disposal for income to be able to afford to live; in the process you forced others to pay bribes, and they in turn had to make money from their positions to be able to afford that, forcing their clients/victims to play the same games, and so on…

But for all that, Moscow is more liveable now than ever. It’s expensive, it’s corrupt, it still has a raw edge that is very Moscow and driving still seems a competitive martial art, but nonetheless the city feels a lot more happy, more comfortable with itself than ever in my memory. There are green spaces and even a few benches, there are hipsterish loft-and-art-bar developments like the Red October factory make-over, and although it may reflect a Den Pobedy clear-out, there seemed fewer beggars and homeless bomzhy than in the past. It may be an artificial boom driven by hydrocarbons, a still-burstable bubble (how many of those massive new skyscrapers are occupied?), an anomaly or the result of Muscovites spending while they can and not worrying about the future when those oil prices fall, but regardless, it felt a lot more fun and welcoming than in the past.

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The question is whether Russia has a military force in the world? Read the article in the Wall Street Journal

VOLGOGRAD, Russia—Sergei Fetisov, a 23-year-old welder, signed on for one of the most ambitious projects in Vladimir Putin’s Russia: rebuilding the remains of the once-mighty Soviet Red Army.

A cornerstone of that effort was the creation of special combat-ready units staffed entirely by professional soldiers, not conscripts. Mr. Fetisov volunteered to be one of them. He enlisted for a renewable three-year stint, enticed by higher pay and the chance to learn new skills.

Yuri Kozyrev for the Wall Street JournalSergei Fetisov quit the army as soon as his commitment ended.



One of his first tasks, he recalls, was toiling past midnight shoveling snow and ice from a football-field-size parade ground. The work that followed was menial, humiliating and of little practical use, he says. Combat training consisted of two firing exercises a year, he says, and a chunk of his paycheck was routinely withheld by corrupt officers.

Wall Streat Journal

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Demonstranter under en förbjuden demonstration i huvudstaden Baku tidigare i april. Foto: Ilkin Huseynov/AP

Svenskt tv-team greps i Azerbajdzjan

TV-produktionsbolaget Pampas produktion befinner sig just nu i Azerbajdzjan för att göra en dokumentär om yttrandefrihet. I samband med en demonstration greps tre av teamets medlemmar och de kommer nu att deporteras från landet.
– Det formella skälet är att det är någon form av visumfråga, säger Anders Jörle på UD.

Fotografen Zsolt Czinkoczky befinner sig tillsammans med tre svenska kollegor i Azerbajdzjans huvudstad Baku för att göra en dokumentär om yttrandefrihet. På lördagseftermiddagen skulle de dokumentera en demonstration i staden arrangerad av oppositionen.

– Vi var på plats några timmar innan demonstrationen skulle börja. Helt plötsligt kom polisen till platsen och började föra bort människor. De tog mina kollegor och när jag frågade varför sade polisen att det berodde på att de inte hade något filmningstillstånd.

Minneskorten raderade

Men mina kollegor skulle inte filma, det är ju jag som är fotografen, säger Zsolt Czinkoczky.
De tre svenskarna togs till närmaste polisstation. De har inte fått några brottsmisstankar presenterade mot sig, men polisen har raderat deras minneskort.
– Det senaste jag hört är att de körts ut bakvägen från polishuset och tvingats in i en polispiket. De ska nu befinna sig på någon form av migrationskontor, men jag vet inte säkert, säger Zsolt Czinkoczky som lyckades filma hela förloppet.
– Jag fick hjälp av en kvinna från radiostationen Radio Free Europe som tog mig till deras lokaler och lät mig använda deras utrustning för att skicka i väg mitt material.
Svenska UD bekräftar att tre svenska medborgare gripits. De kommer nu att deporteras ut landet.
– De exakta omständigheterna vet vi ännu inte, men det formella skälet till att de frihetsberövades ska vara att det var någon form av visumproblem, säger Anders Jörle.

Expressen artikel

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