July 7, 2014 E.R.

What is madness?

At times there is a need to look deeper. Are events driven by lack of

judgement, or do we finally have to accept that sheer Evil is a factor?

"A short-circuited amateur, mad as a hatter or a typical russian politician?

Seemingly all three."

This morning I had the mixed pleasure to listen to an interview with a gentleman called Vitaly Milonov on BBC World Service, a station having provided me with mostly reliable news for the last 40 years.

The said mr Milonov is born 23 January 1974 in Leningrad, is a russian politician and member of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg , no less. Having risen to prominence at the ripe age of 40 one might expect two things. First to have the ability to  listen, and then to think,

What was displayed in the BBC interview was the total  absense of both.

Their staunch defenders of all things russian are presently being kicked out, in no delicate meaning of the word, from eastern Ukraine. And the sentiment voiced by another rabbit out of Putins hat, mr Igor Girkin, lovingly called "Strelkin" ("the Shooter" in russia) has changed nothing. Mr Girkin lamented in a recent interview that "President Putin only has fine words, engouraging us only to let us down". No such realism from mr. Milonov. Instead there was a litterally unstoppable rant about "the fascists in Kiev" and the gay hordes of the Maidan, theratening the very fabric of decent Russia.

For a seasoned western listener with at least one foot out of the middle ages it is inconceivable that a person such as mr Milonov is allowed to represent anything at all, unless of course the nation he speaks for is made up of  the same stuff.

More of the same.

One wonders:

is here  shame or even red-faced embarrassment?

This gives cause for concern on a new level: There is more of the same. We all remember with a shudder when a reporter asked Vladimir Zhirinovsky if Russia should reply to the entry ban recently imposed by Ukraine on Russian men. Zirinovsky made a loud and illogical speech, first accusing female politicians from Ukraine of suffering from nymphomania then suggesting that the reporter must suffer from  the same.

When the woman said she was pregnant, Zhirinovsky affectionately told her to stay home instead of going to work. After this he suddenly pushed one of his aides at the reporter telling the young man that he should “rape the woman hard.”

Like mr Milonov he has developed a taste for religion and

never a man to  miss a worthwhile quotation he then screamed “Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!” and “kiss her!” several times, most likely hinting at the Easter celebrations two days away.

As another female journalist stepped in to defend her colleague Zhirinovsky called her a lesbian and passed several homophobic remarks.

A the events unfolded on live TV,  there was a diciplinary act that  silenced the man from in parliament for one month.

We wonder how the russian people react to the governance by people that by western standards might be regarded as mentally deficient.

Russias post-war history must be seen as a total failure performed by people who either were utterly incompetent, ruled by fear and ignorance, and basically see threats coming from all sides. Half the russian navy rots in harbour, the nuclear industry is a total disaster (ref russian graphite-moderated, unshielded Tsjernobyl), the chemical desert around the Lake Aral, the massive radioactive contamination at Lake Karachay, the underrreported accidents slamming the nuclear submarines (among them the "Kursk") The list goes on and on.

Russia is like the legend of King Midas.

                                        ...IN REVERSE

In this environment morale has disintegrated. All are subservient to someone else, and all means of stealing and grabbing is taken for granted. There is massive corruption on all levels, mafia-terror and "grab-to-survive" from the shoemaker to the top politicians. There is no rule of law and no norms other than the ones defined by the powers-that-be at any given time. Terms like "traitor" has lost all meaning, and much as we in the west can scream blue murder, Russia is well past the stage of caring.

In this atmosphere of moral breakdown, Putin has drummed up an alternative set of morals where the prevailing deity is Mother Russia, the armed forces its aveging angels and the secret services/police ferrying people across the all-russian version of the River Styx.

Some events are just bizarre: Like the Childrens Song Contest arranged in Murmansk during april, where 13-14 year olds were competing for a televised finale this summer in Moscow. The theme was "Patriotic Songs which glorify the Motherland."

So far so good: the west is awash with the same, although using somewhat different words. But the arrangers had added a very russian twist to it: The songs should also glorify the police, the military and (here is the cherry the top of the icing!) The Special  Forces. Surely the Spetsnaz felt deeply moved.

"Our man in Donetsk:
Igor Girkin, the Strelkov:

Failing to  deliver the goods..."

We are left wondering: What now? No nation built on fear, without even the attempted morals of the west will survive.

Russia has lost all, and when mad and men without morals are let down, they will live up to their credo: Give to us what belongs to us. Then russia has more to worry about than bearded ladies with good voices.

Only when that dust has settled, can russia enter a civilized world.

Political maturity also has to do with where the dissatisfied may take their grievances. This means accountability, something that does not exist in russia. Putin will be accountable to his own people.

The Libyan dictator Ghaddafi was spotted hiding in a sewer pipe under a road in Sirte, Libya on the 20. oktober 2011.

Food for thought.

1o.th June 2014 E.R.

On cats, camels and chinese meanderings

"Weird. All that Red. Brings back some memories...

was it in...Moscow 1980s? or Berlin 1930s??"

Russia had to swallow a camel or two as Putin and Gazprom met with Xi Jinping and the chinese China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) in Beijing on 21th of May. Russia was losing out like an oil barrel with holes at both ends: They had to accept what was offered. The deal is probably only tentative and what it really is worth is hard to even speculate on. It is more in the realm of kinda advanced guessing, as noone can predict the price of oil and gas 20-30 years from now. Putin has been pestering Gazprom for 10  years and - Hey presto! - the deal is pushed through when relations (i.e. business) with the west is in freefall. The west is diversifying its energy needs and even Lithuania expects her floating LNG processing plant "the Independence" arriving in few days. At the same time Lithuania through Lietuvos Energijos Gamyba sues Gazprom to the tune of 123 million Lithuanian Litas ($ 48 million) for preventing alternative gas supply: Gazprom also owns 37,1 % of the gas supplier Lietuvos Dujos, controlling the only available infrastructure vital to receive the gas. So russia blocked a better-priced supply  from western Europe, forcing lithuanian consumers to pay more for

electricity and heating.


Putin also managed to commit a potensially destructive blunder, maybe out of ignorance but more probably out of not knowing who is friend and who is not: He reached a gas deal with Xi Jinping but also visited Jiang Zemin who figures in a power struggle in Beijing. This was triggered by the downfall of ambitious Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai. Arguments are flying between President Xi Jinping and Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai’s friend and former head of the intelligence and the oil-gas complex. And he is Jiang Zemins friend and allied.

An alliance between Moscow and Beijing is as unlikely as it is ill-begotten. Many countries in the far east eye Chinas new assertiveness suspiciously because they feel the political and not least the territorial pressure. For instance both Japan and Vietnam are up in arms over Chinas incursions, and as the US pulls out permanently from bases in Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Russia will have  the pleasure to face Chinese expansionism alone.

And all this for a gas contract worth a mere 1/16th of energy  exports to Europe. I used to think that russia at least knew what it was doing on a long term basis.

Now, Id be worried, on an entirely new level just to paraphrase the cat "Mittens" in the hilarious film "Bolt"

Russias costs to even bring gas to the chinese border are enormous, and eats up a more than a fair share of an uncertain export value. Over 30 years the calculated earnings amount to 400 bln USD. But it will take a loooong 5 years to even begin. The infrastructure  alone in Siberia would cost at least 55 billion dollars, and this is to be paid by the National Prosperity Fund, if we are to believe Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukayev's claim on May 22 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

Some people already start to sweat when pondering whether domestic gas prices will be raised to finance a portion of the ambitious Chinese project of Gazprom, too.

And this in a market known more for falling prices world-wide. Watch this space!

To quote a cat : Worries on an entirely new level.

Russia: Worlds apart?

Media Wars

Journalism under fire