Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rumbling Russia: archive

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Yahoo!News: "Russia stops all gas supply to Europe via Ukraine"

Russia has shut off all its gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine — the latest move in a pricing dispute that has reduced or halted fuel deliveries to a dozen countries during a winter cold snap. Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, which had sharply limited supplies through Ukraine on Tuesday, has stopped all gas shipments through the country as of 7:44 a.m. (0544 GMT), said Valentyn Zemlyansky, spokesman for Ukraine's Naftogaz. (...)

The Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute has left tens of thousands of people in Europe without heat as governments scrambled to find alternative energy sources. By early Wednesday, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Turkey had all reported a halt in gas shipments, while France, Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary had reported substantial drops in supplies from Russia. (...) >>>
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Prague Daily Monitor confirms: "Russian gas supplies to Czech Republic halted"

Jan 7, 2009
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Given that meteorologists are already predicting a record hot 2009, we now know for sure that the entire glowball warming history is One Giant Global Hoax; but also given the fact that main energy suppliers are either semi or complete fascist states, perhaps it's not a bad idea to start filling the Atlantic with windmill parks (or, alternatively turn Belgium into an industrial nuclear power laboratory).

Yahoo!News: "Russia gas row disruption spreads to Bulgaria"

Russian gas flows to Bulgaria dropped on Saturday in a fresh sign that Moscow's decision to cut off its neighbor Ukraine in a row over pricing was disrupting supplies to some European Union members. Bulgaria's Bulgargaz operator joined energy firms in Poland, Romania and Hungary in saying they had noted falls in supply, though the main pipeline through the Czech Republic to Germany -- Europe's biggest economy -- was working normally.

Russia has accused Ukraine of stealing gas in transit to Europe but in Kiev, state energy firm Naftogaz hit back by saying Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom had itself reduced supplies to Europe and was using "energy blackmail." Gazprom halted supplies to Ukraine on New Year's Day, saying Ukraine had failed to pay its gas bill and talks on 2009 gas prices had broken down.

Three years after a similar dispute briefly disrupted supplies, European fears of gas flows dropping off in the dead of winter were once again becoming a reality. The European Union, which gets a fifth of its gas from pipelines that cross Ukraine, said it would call a crisis meeting of envoys in Brussels on Monday and demanded that transit and supply contracts be honored. (...) >>>

Jan 3, 2009
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CNN: "Russia set to extend presidential term"

Russian lawmakers were voting Friday on proposed constitutional changes extending the presidential term from four to six years. The bill, submitted earlier this week by current Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, has prompted speculation that it could pave the way for Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin in 2012 for 12 more years, The Associated Press reports. The bill was fast tracked through the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, by 388 votes to 58, AP said. It was expected to pass without much opposition because Putin's United Russia party has controlling majorities in both houses. (...) >>>

14th Nov 2008
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The People's Cube: "Communists of St. Petersburg on Obama Victory"

Communists of Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast have issued an official statement on Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election. They are the same glorious party who earlier denounced Harrison Ford with Cate Blanchett for the anti-Soviet propaganda in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and most recently accused Olga Kurylenko of treason for playing the new Bond girl. If you find the text over the top, please note that we are not making this up: this is our most thorough word-for-word translation of their Russian-language statement posted on the official Party website: (...) >>>

12th Nov 2008
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... EU goes pomo ... say, 'we don't do it' and then, do it ... truth is flexible ...

DW: "EU Ready to Revive Talks on Russia Deal"

(...) "While noting that a strategic partnership with Russia based on common values is not in place as of today, we can support resuming negotiations ... because we believe that the issues that will be covered are in the EU's interests as well as Russia's," the two countries' foreign ministers said in a statement. "We are not returning to business as usual, nor are we turning the page on the conflict in Georgia. (...) no date had yet been set to do so. (...) The meeting on Monday was aimed at settling differences ahead of an EU-Russia meeting in Nice, in southern France, on Friday. Poland and Lithuania, formerly in the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, had been firmly against any resumption of talks.

Poland dropped its objections, although Lithuania remains opposed to starting the talks. The talks had been frozen on Sept. 1 in protest of Russia's military action in Georgia. But since the European Commission has a mandate to resume the negotiations, it did not require all 27 EU members states to move forward. (...) "Russia has not yet withdrawn to its pre-Aug. 7 positions as the EU has made clear that it must," the British-Swedish paper said. Nonetheless, in recent weeks the French government, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and the bloc's executive, the European Commission, called for a new start to the talks. (...) >>>

... meanwhile, there's this bandwagon on which we won't jump unless confirmed by reliable sources rather than those who have been creating a 'subjective atmosphere' ever since ...

Mirror on America: "Georgia Was Not An Innocent Victim Afterall - Faces War Crimes Allegations"

... Kos, NYT indeed ...

11th Nov 2008

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... on US Presidential day the enemy we love to hate loses no time ...

The Age: "Russia's Medvedev hits out at US"

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has blamed the United States for the world's problems and announced new missile deployments in Europe, calling on incoming US counterpart Barack Obama to mend Washington's ways. Medvedev rounded on the United States for ills ranging from the global financial crisis to the recent war in Georgia, in a state-of-the-nation speech that was watched intently by his mentor Vladimir Putin, and omitted mentioning Obama by name. (...) >>>
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Here are two Fox News items on the topic of Kremlin power play ... Medvedev, barely half a year in the Presidency, with PM Putin already positioning for his own return to the highest office - question: why do dictators never, ever, diviated from the playbook?) ...

- Fox News item I
- Fox News item II

5th Nov 2008
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Information Warfare: "The Russian Cyber Militia"

Georgia was not just invaded by Russian troops last August, it was also hammered on the Internet, with the same Cyber War techniques used against Estonia last year. An investigation by a large team of Internet experts concluded that, as with the attacks on Estonia, the Russian government was not directly involved in the Georgia attacks. The Cyber War attacks on Georgia were coordinated from a non-government web site. If there was any Russian government involvement, it was indirect. For example, the attacks on Georgian web sites began with a very complete list of targets. Not that any of the Russian civilian volunteers couldn't have put such a list together, but this one appeared "general staff" thorough. (...) >>>

21st Oct 2008
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... checkmate ...

WSJ: "The Axis of Moscow"

(...) Two months after the war in the Caucasus, Mr. Ortega's Nicaragua is the lone country to follow Moscow's recognition of the "independence" -- in effect, Russian annexation -- of Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhazia provinces. Given Russia's serious diplomatic onslaught, that's an embarrassing outcome for Vladimir Putin. Consider the rogue's gallery that refused to go along: Hugo Chávez's Venezuela, the Castros' Cuba, Bolivia, Iran and Syria. The club of seven authoritarian former Soviet republics known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization also demurred. Even Moscow's puppet autocrat in Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko, deferred to his toothless parliament; in other words, nyet, for now. Russia was rebuffed by China and India at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

There is of course a long line of goons happy to take military, energy or economic handouts from the Kremlin, though the dramatic drop in oil prices and Russian stocks will limit its ability to buy people off. (...) In addition to Mr. Ortega, Russia did manage recognition by Hamas, Hezbollah and the Moldovan regions of Gaugazia and Trans-Dniester. But that is little solace for a Kremlin whose bigger goal in the war was to declare a Monroe-ski Doctrine for its "near abroad" and lead a new anti-American block. Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, summed up the strategy: "Our long effort to become part of the West is over. The aim now is to be an independent power in a multipolar world in which Russia is a major player." It's hard to be a major player when all you have is very minor friends. >>>

18th Oct 2008
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Yahoo!News: "Russian lawyer ill; says substance found in car"

A prominent Russian human rights lawyer says she and her children are ill after a suspicious substance was found in their car in France. The incident has kept Karinna Moskalenko away from preliminary hearings Wednesday at a Moscow court in the trial of four men in connection with the 2006 murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Moskalenko is a lawyer for Politkovskaya's family and for imprisoned former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. She also represents Russians pressing claims against the government at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. (...) >>>

Update: ... she suspects it's mercury ...

15th Oct 2008
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... here's one for the record ... the Russophobe lays bare the Kremlin propaganda spider ...

PJM: "Is Wired Magazine’s ‘Military Correspondent’ a Kremlin Dupe?" (Part I), by Kim Zigfeld (permanent link)

On September 3, Wired magazine published on its website a story by reporter David Axe, who blogs at War Is Boring. (...) It doesn’t appear that he has any expertise in Russia at all, or any military or national security credentials. (...) The story claimed that Georgia had been making military preparations to invade Ossetia before it did so, and further claimed this proved it was the aggressor in the conflict. It attempted to rebut a story published August 16 on Eurasia.net by reporter Brian Whitmore, a seasoned Russia correspondent, which explained how Russia had been gathering a massive invasion force on Georgia’s border for months before the conflict, thus “suggesting that Russia’s military action in Georgia was planned months in advance, awaiting only an appropriate pretext to act.” In a companion piece, Axe accused Georgia of waging a “propaganda war” to cover its alleged aggression.

The sole basis for Axe’s account was an email sent out by one Professor Gordon Hahn and republished by Axe on his blog. We have previously discredited Hahn over at my blog La Russophobe and exposed his persistent pro-Kremlin misinformation about Russia. In a nutshell, he has close ties to Peter Lavelle, who is employed by the Russia Today Kremlin-funded propaganda TV network and whom La Russophobe has likewise previously exposed as a shameless pro-Kremlin shill. German sources are now reporting that Russia Today has censored their Tbilisi correspondent William Dunbar’s reporting on Russian bombing of civilians in the Georgian city of Gori during the recent war, and Dunbar has resigned in protest. Its coverage of Russia’s actions in the crisis has been intensely partisan, to say the least. (...) the Monterey Institute is an actual nest of Russian spies. At the very least, it’s being suckered by them, and helping them to dupe others — like the editors of Wired, for example. >>> Read all for proper understanding >>>

PJM: "Is Wired Magazine’s ‘Military Correspondent’ a Kremlin Dupe?" (Part II), by Kim Zigfeld (permanent link)


12th Sep 2008, updated 21st Sep 2008

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PJs: "Georgia and the Dangers of Putinism", by Arthur Chrenkoff

(...) In the spring of 1940, the Soviet security forces murdered and buried in mass graves some 15,000 Polish officers taken prisoners of war after the Soviet Union invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, in accordance with the secret protocols of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. (...) What made Katyn exceptional is the controversy the case attracted ever since the Wehrmacht found and exhumed the bodies in 1943, and the impact the massacre has had on international relations, including, arguably, the genesis of the Cold War. (...) It is once again respectable in the Russian media to return to the old lie that it was the Nazis, not the communists, who were responsible for the Katyn massacre. (...)

(...) my thoughts turned to Georgia. Once you get over the irony of being lectured that the right to ethnic self-determination trumps national sovereignty and territorial integrity by someone who had despoiled Chechnya, you might be forgiven for thinking rather melodramatically that something more than people died on the streets of Gori. Perhaps it was the great geopolitical hope of the past two decades that Russia would turn out to be a normal country, like most other post-communist states. That hope was arguably dying the death of thousand cuts over the years (...) invading a sovereign democratic neighbor must surely count as the Rubicon of sorts.

Soon on the heels of the Georgian incursion came the nuclear blackmail delivered to Poland by a middling military apparatchik. There is both more and less than it seems to the threat that Poland risks a nuclear attack as a consequence of signing onto America’s missile shield program. (...)

Note: Putin has encouraged and overseen the blossoming of a chauvinistic and jingoistic climate of opinion that represents a curious mélange of communist and tsarist themes. (...) Putin said, only three years ago, that the collapse of the Soviet Union “was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [twentieth] century.” Au contraire , the existence of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century. With a possible caveat regarding the Soviet role in the defeat of Hitler, anyone who believes otherwise is morally and intellectually stunted. Yet, for all his apprenticeship at the KGB (...) Putin does not care about the Soviet Union or communism as such. He cares about power and Russia. (...) If communism was, according to Lenin, Soviet power plus electrification; Putinism is Tsardom with nukes. Question remains how far Vladimir the Great decides to push it. >>>

Updated: 5th Sep 2008
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... update: add "Second Russian journalist in three days killed" ...

... we should keep tally while the glasnost lasts: the poisoning attempt on Ukraine President Yushchenko, the poisoning to death in London of former Federal Security Service agent Alexander Litvinenko, the attempted murder of self-exiled billionaire Boris Berezovsky, the murder of journalist Politkovskaya, and now ...

CNN: "Kremlin critic shot dead in southern Russia"

he owner of an independent Web site critical of the Russian authorities was shot and killed Sunday by police and his body dumped by the side of the road in a volatile province in southern Russia, his colleague said. Police arrested Ingushetiya.ru owner Magomed Yevloyev after taking him off a plane that had just landed in Ingushetia province near Chechnya, the site's deputy editor, Ruslan Khautiyev said (...) Police whisked Yevloyev away in a car and later dumped him on the road with a gunshot wound to the head, Khautiyev said. He said Yevloyev died in a hospital shortly afterwards. (...) >>>

Updated: 1st Sep. 2008
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FT: "Russia fails to secure regional backing"

Dmitry Medvedev, Russian president, failed on Thursday to win support from China or the former Soviet republics of central Asia in his deepening dispute with the west over military action in Georgia. At a central Asian summit in Tajikistan, Mr Medvedev was unable to persuade Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, or other regional leaders to give explicit backing to Russia’s intervention or its decision to recognise the independence of the two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. While the leaders refrained from criticising Russia, their joint statement gave the Kremlin only modest comfort. (...) >>>

Updated: 29th Aug. 2008
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Politeia: "Putinism Explained: the Power Tool"

Here follows an eight part CBC Newsworld documentary "The Putin System," which analyzes (...) Vladimir Putin. The (...) reconstituted USSR is the nearest we will ever get in real life to the James Bond antagonist in a number of 007 films, SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Control, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion): total state through a corporation, in this case Gazprom, a gigantic transnational tool for the funneling of public resources to selective private coffers. (...) the essence of the Marxist school of ideology always was a common power-grab and very little else. The core question was, how to get the unwashed to grab power on your behalf? (...) the essence of the Marxist school of ideology always was a common power-grab and very little else. The core question was, how to get the unwashed to grab power on your behalf? (...) >>>

Updated: 26th Aug. 2008
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... perhaps the word Vaclav Havel wants is clique, or maybe cabal? ...

Signandsight: "Havel interview in France's L'Express"

In a long interview, writer and former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, speaks about the Prague Spring, Europe and his favourite for the American presidential election. He also has clear words for Putin's Russia. "Putin has revealed himself as a new breed of dictator, a highly refined version. This is no longer about communism, or even pure nationalism. We must talk openly about it. We can no longer close our eyes. This completely private regime is tied, not surprisingly, to a specific economic boom. The collapse of the Soviet Union was traumatising, and Putin is out to reconstruct this ensemble, perhaps in a new form. He finds it very difficult to palate the shrinking sphere of influence of the old USSR. As a result, the system he has constructed is reliant on a form of political and economic fraternity. It is a closed system, in which the first person to break the rules of the game is packed off to Siberia." >>>
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The Weekly Standard: "The 'Pain Game' Revisited - Russia's glass jaw," by Stuart Koehl

My brief assessment of the military options open to the West in the ongoing Georgian conflict "The Pain Game: A Military response to Russia's aggression?" provoked many comments (...) I have pondered at some length a comprehensive strategic approach to U.S. relations with Russia. These ideas can be found summarized in Chapter 9 of Ideas for America's Future (...) The strategy described therein was based on the following premises: 1. Russia is a country in the midst of a probably irreversible decline. (...) >>>

- Caption: Black Sea Fleet, including Syrian port of Tartus -

Related: Russian Military Analysis

Updated: 22nd Aug. 2008
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Pajamas: "Russia’s Pathetic Defenders"

(...) Let’s be clear: What happened in Georgia is that Russia gave diplomatic recognition and support to a breakaway region of another country without international agreement, massed troops on the border, repeatedly violated Georgian airspace, shot down a Georgian aircraft, fired missiles into Georgian territory, and attempted to assassinate a major Georgian official in the region. Then it goaded the region into launching an attack on Georgian forces, and when Georgia finally responded with a limited strike against the region, after more than a year of provocation during which Georgia responded only with diplomatic protests, Russian invaded and seized the region, including the use of strategic bombers that destroyed civilian apartment blocks. Now, the breakaway region is engaged in massive attacks on Georgian civilians, in the manner of a pogrom. (...)

There are two possible explanations for Ms. Ivanova’s “analysis” overlooking these facts (...) Read her text. There is not one single critical word about Vladimir Putin to be found in it anywhere. Not about his crackdown on the media, not about his murderous rampage in Georgia, not about his alienating Poland into signing on to the U.S. missile defense treaty. Nor is there a pause, even for a second, to ask what Russia might have done to provoke this onslaught of negative coverage. Just an attack on all the evil Russia-hating foreigners who have betrayed her trusting, democracy-loving soul. Is that how she sets an example of objectivity for the American press to follow?

Scary, isn’t it? This is the nature of the enemy we now face in the new cold war with Russia. (...) >>>
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Window on Eurasia: "Window on Eurasia: Russian TV’s Distorted Coverage of Georgia Forces Many to Turn to Internet, Western Broadcasts," by Paul Goble

Russian television, the most influential media channel in that country, has so distorted what is taking place in Georgia in the course of its “construction” of reality there that Russians who want to know what is really happening have been forced to turn to the Internet or, as during the Cold War, to Western broadcasters such as Radio Liberty.
In an analysis which was posted on Fontanka.ru today, media critic Sergey Ilchenko observes that “facts, especially in our days, do not exist on the television screen ‘in a pure form,’ separate from interpretation and commentary” as Russian TV’s approach to Georgia has clearly demonstrated over the last five days (www.fontanka.ru/2008/08/12/033/).
Catastrophes and conflicts, he points out, are “constructed” by television whose editors and reporters “ever more frequently appear in the role of directors of reality,” as the movie “Wagging the Dog” and Russian coverage of the war in Georgia show to the satisfaction of anyone who cares to pay attention. (...) >>>

Updated: 16th Aug. 2008
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The Russophobe: "Russia, Hitting Below the Belt (as Usual)"

The latest round i
n a boxing match between Russia's and Britain's secret services began on July 4, when an article appeared in the British press quoting the MI5 counterespionage unit as saying that the number of Russian spies flooding the country had made Russia the third-greatest threat to Britain after Iran and al-Qaida. Meanwhile, in the Daily Mail, Member of Parliament Andrew MacKinley was accused of meeting too frequently with Alexander Polyakov, a counselor at the Russian Embassy who the MI5 suspects reports to Russian intelligence.But that was only the beginning. On the BBC "Newsnight" program on July 7, an anonymous MI5 source stated that the agency considers the Russian government responsible for the poisoning death in London of former Federal Security Service agent Alexander Litvinenko and for the attempted murder of self-exiled billionaire Boris Berezovsky.The Kremlin retaliated in a statement to RIA-Novosti on Thursday, when a source with the Federal Security Service claimed that Chris Bowers, the British Embassy's director of trade and finance, was a British (...) >>>

Updated: 17th July 2008
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The Exile: "The Fall of The eXile"

The eXile is shutting down. It all started two weeks ago, with an innocuous-looking fax from the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The barely legible fax informed us that our paper was slated for an unscheduled inspection to see if it had violated any media laws. It didn't specify which ones. A week later, a four person team of polite chinovniks showed up to ask some questions and, on their way out back to their lair, grabbed a few eXile issues for an “expert analysis." News of their visit had our investors fleeing instantly, and, in no time at all, was kicking up a media shit storm that’s only now beginning to gather full strength.

I've been stuck in the US renewing my Russian visa and will rejoin the effort in a few days. In the meantime, Ames has been blogging the closure in minute detail for Radar magazine. Check out his first post here and his second one here. (...) >>>

Updated: 11th June 2008
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The Earth Times: "Vaclav Havel: Russia is ruled by KGB spies and mobsters"

Russia in the era of outgoing President Vladimir Putin is a new-style dictatorship ruled by KGB spies and mobsters, former Czech president Vaclav Havel said in a Wednesday interview with Lidove Noviny daily. "The era of president Putin brought a new type of dictatorship, dangerous in its inconspicuous fashion," said the Soviet-era dissident playwright turned Czech Republic's long-time post-communist president. (...) >>>

Updated: 20th Mar 2008

- Caption: Hat Tip Jered T. Ede -
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BBC: "Monitors denounce Russia election"

Foreign observers have said that Russia's parliamentary election won by President Vladimir Putin's party was "not fair". The statement was made by a joint observer team from Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. With nearly 98% of ballots counted, Mr Putin's United Russia had 64.1% of Sunday's vote. Opposition claims of fraud were rejected by the electoral commission. >>>

Updated: 3rd Dec. 2007
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The Russophobe: "Sunday December 2 Contents"

(1) The Sunday Photos
(2) Lipman on the Elections
(3) Kasparov on the Elections
(4) Putin's Cultural Revolution
(5) The Sunday YouTube
(6) The Sunday Funnies

NOTE: Shhhhhh . . . Russia is voting. Keep your fingers crossed for a miracle!
NOTE: The Good, the Bad and the Putin.
NOTE: Photos of Putin's Russia.
NOTE: The Economist's Intelligent Life magazine has an excellent long feature on Arkady Ostrovsky, who translated Sir Tom Stoppard's trilogy, "The Coast of Utopia", into Russian and "finds that 19th-century liberal ideas can sound dangerously modern on the Moscow stage of today." >>>
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The Exile: Mankind's only Alternative since 1997 - various stories pertaining to Russia and the elections

Updated: 3rd Dec. 2007
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Science & Technology: "Battling Botnets and Online Mobs - Estonia’s Defense Efforts during the Internet War"

What would happen if tomorrow the Internet ceased to function? To most critics, and particularly state officials and policy makers, the possibility that the Internet could one day suddenly disappear is no more than a mere speculation, a highly improbable concept. On May 2007, the events that took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, proved everyone wrong. On
that day, Estonia fell victim to the first-ever, real Internet war. This article delves into the political context that shaped the incident and analyzes some of the key lessons and policy implications that emerged as a consequence. (...) >>> (PDF)

Updated: May 2007
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Related:
- STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES BACKGROUND NOTE ON RUSSIA

- Vodpod series on "Putinism":


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