In Which We Learn New Things About Russia

Human Rights Lawyer Murdered

The double murder of a top human rights lawyer and a journalist in Moscow has reinforced the fears of those who say that in Russia words alone can put you in mortal danger.

"His murder shows that those who speak out against abuses and work to hold abusers to account risk their lives," Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch says of the death of the lawyer, Stanislav Markelov.

A journalist who was wounded in the attack which killed Mr Markelov later died of her injuries. The dead reporter, Anastasia Baburova, was with Mr Markelov when - investigators say - a masked gunman shot him in the head. After shooting Mr Markelov, the gunman shot her.

Anastasia Baburova was a trainee with the newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The paper specialises in human rights stories, and used to employ Anna Politkovskaya, the investigative reporter who was herself murdered in 2006.

In other news, the gas crisis should finally be over, after almost two weeks, the gas from Russia and Ukraine just reached our borders. I just hope that this will lead to the diversification away from Russia. If this did not make Russia a questionable business partner then I don't know what else would. I'm thinking about further ramifications, but they are generally negative for Russia. Especially the diversification will make Russia's position weaker in relationships with Europe.

EU-Russian relations just took a turn. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Barroso got into a serious exchange with Putin

BBC Article[/url]]Mr Barroso had said the European Union was concerned about the murder of journalists and human rights activists in Russia.

Visibly angry, Mr Putin accused him of hypocrisy, saying immigrants' and prisoners' rights in Europe were being trampled on, as were the rights of Russian minority populations in the Baltic states.

"We need to discuss the full range of problems - both in Russia and in Europe - in order to be able to solve them," he added.

Mr Barroso shot back by saying that in Europe, criticism was accepted.

And he stressed that the Baltic states - which are EU members - are democracies that respect the rule of law.

At the very least I'm happy that Barroso called Putin out. Not sure if that is the way to do it though. We don't need knives drawn between Russia and the EU at this time but I have to admire his stance.

By the by, Barroso is the Commission President. The EU President is Topolánek. Just outlining that. I'm going to sit down and create a post that will explain how the EU works to kick off a discussion. Get the feeling a lot of Americans aren't totally clear on how it operates. Think it could be a worthwhile discussion.

EDIT: Perhaps Biden's imminent visit was a factor in this exchange.

Axon wrote:

I'm going to sit down and create a post that will explain how the EU works to kick off a discussion. Get the feeling a lot of Americans aren't totally clear on how it operates. Think it could be a worthwhile discussion.

Does the EU aspire to be a federation like the United States or does it want to remain a confederation?

Greg wrote:

Does the EU aspire to be a federation like the United States or does it want to remain a confederation?

There`s never going to be enough will to form anything more than an economically minded confederation within Europe. EU is more or less just a pragmatic way to coexist in a culturally really REALLY divided and different region.

Actually, a lot of the EU countries hate being part of the EU. I know in England the tabloids and right wing freak out daily about their supposed lack of autonomy. Brussels is the capital of the EU and everyone's always talking about the "bureaucrats in Brussels" taking away civil liberties and local histories. It's why the UK as a whole has still not switched from sterling to euro. They think the EU is the first step towards an "Earth government" and they hate it.

Personally I like the EU the way it is - leaving the member states to retain their governments and have little to do with the EU unless something bad is happening.

Wow Russian Guys, Wow

There is one part to this article that's a smidgen odd. The notes at the top, one of which reads:

* Russia has at least 5 million alcoholics, many more drunks

Exactly what is the difference between a "Alcoholic" and a "Drunk"? Or are they (apparently) different in Russia? Oh Reuters, why must you confuse me so?

A drunkard is "just" a heavy drinker, whereas an alcoholic is a man with clinically confirmed dependency issues.

A sad as it sounds, an estimate of 5 million alcoholics nationwide seems kind of low to me.

Oh, by the way, I am going to Moscow in 2 weeks.

My friend from Moldova just reported that she heard that the alcoholism rate there was much higher as well.

Maybe the other people were just too drunk to respond to the survey?

Paleocon wrote:

My friend from Moldova ...

shihonage?

In Moldova, they begin giving wine to their children as early as 6-7 years -- in their first schoolyear.

In Russia, they start drinking later -- in teens. But they drink vodka, not wine. Much like in France or Italy, drinking wine is not really considered drinking -- it's entertaining.

There was a brilliant series on Belgian tv in 2002, during the World Cup soccer. All around the world Joe Sixpack people were filmed while watching their country play in the tournament. And yes, every single Russian family had its own vodka distillery in the bathtub. As commonplace as maple syrup in Canada, it seems.

I'm more partial to Gazprom's Nigerian dealings myself:

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

Alien Love Gardener wrote:

I'm more partial to Gazprom's Nigerian dealings myself:

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

Oh man. That's just awesome

Prederick wrote:

Gazprom in Azerbaijan

It's all good business. Gazprom would be plumb stupid not to cut deal with Baku now.

By the way, "expert" see this deal as an indication of some very high-level agreement between Russia and Azerbaijan on the eventual fate of Nagorno-Karabakh region and Azeri-Armenian conflict. The favor that Russia is expected to return is to push Armenia (Russia's Trans-Caucasian ally/vassal) to some sort of concessions to Azerbaijan so as to get through the postwar stalemate and eventually normalize the relationships.

Just as Azerbaijan was crying foul when Turkey inched towards closer ties with Armenia, the Armenias are now worrying that Russia is selling them out to Azerbaijan in return for this gas contract. One thing that all these developments are underscoring is that Russian influence in the region will be huge.

Dr.Ghastly wrote:
Alien Love Gardener wrote:

I'm more partial to Gazprom's Nigerian dealings myself:

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

Oh man. That's just awesome

HOW DID I MISS THAT.

Can we say that any African oil deals Gazprom makes are now "Strictly 4 My Nigaz"? If they start acting in a grotesque and annoying manner during business meetings, are they "Nigaz With Attitude"?

THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS

Prederick wrote:
Dr.Ghastly wrote:
Alien Love Gardener wrote:

I'm more partial to Gazprom's Nigerian dealings myself:

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

Oh man. That's just awesome

HOW DID I MISS THAT.

Can we say that any African oil deals Gazprom makes are now "Strictly 4 My Nigaz"? If they start acting in a grotesque and annoying manner during business meetings, are they "Nigaz With Attitude"?

THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS

You can have an antiabortion group in the company called "Nigaz for Life".

Better yet, a self-service website for residential customers running at mynigaz.com.

The Russian press is having a ball with this too. Here, below, you don't even need to know Russian in order to be able to appreciate this:

RB.ru

RB wrote:

В связи с этим автор статьи делает предположение, что в российском нефтяном и газовом бизнесе туго с консультантами по брендам. Зато в определенной среде он будет очень узнаваемым: в у афро-американцев много популярных хип-хоп групп и песен, созвучных названию новой компании: группа "Niggaz with Attitude", песня культового певца Biggie Smalls в стиле гангста-рэп "The Realest Niggaz", хит реппера Снупи "For All My Niggaz and Bitches".

Where the hell is that Star Trek pic of Picard facepalming when I need it?

Nigaz.com is already registered, but nigaz.us still available. Any takers?

в у афро-американцев много популярных хип-хоп групп и песен, созвучных названию новой компании: группа "Niggaz with Attitude", песня культового певца Biggie Smalls в стиле гангста-рэп "The Realest Niggaz", хит реппера Снупи "For All My Niggaz and Bitches".

Awesome.

Reaper81 wrote:

Where the hell is that Star Trek pic of Picard facepalming when I need it?

IMAGE(http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/2426/picardnofacepalm1.jpg)

[Blank post. I need to tag this thread because I keep losing track of it.]

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

Oh, by the way, I am going to Moscow in 2 weeks.

I meant to ask, a while ago, how the trip was. Obviously, i'm two months late in asking because i'm a horrible person.

So here's three stories for everyone...

Sensitive Cargo In The Arctic

South Ossetia Still Doing Their Thing

And since this thread might as well encompass more of Eastern Europe, here's one for you UC.

Prederick wrote:

And since this thread might as well encompass more of Eastern Europe, here's one for you UC.

Yep, seen it yesterday. Initial thought: 'damn, I hope nobody posts it on GWJ' so I HAVE FINGERS IN MY EARS AND CAN'T HEAR YOU BYE.

(Although seriously: there's nothing wrong with prepping your ad material for your target audience. Had they shoot these materials in Poland I bet there wouldn't be a black man sitting there*. It's just a huge photoshop fail. Hell, even I would do it better, even though photoediting never was my area in expertise in PS.)

*And they wouldn't wear suits. And use laptops. There would be vodka on a table, some cows in background. Y'know, Poland.

A bit hard on yourself there, UCRC :). In fairness to the ad, in Eastern Europe black people just don't make up that much of the population. From my experience Ireland, France and Britain the proportion is far higher and I'm even typing this in Kiev (testament to the revolution that Micheal O'Leary enacted on Europe along with a few days free :)). Granted the photoshopping is awful but I see where whoever decided to do it was coming from.

Sure, I was just joking.
And yes, you won't see many black people living in Poland. Low wages + mildly cold weather = no blacks for us.

http://polskieradio.pl/thenews/inter...

Russian state TV aired a documentary claiming that the Soviet Union was forced to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939 in fear that an alliance of Nazi Germany, Japan and Poland was preparing to invade from west and east.

I really don't like the way they're f*cking with us on this. We're all accustomed to the fact they like to rewrite the history, but to present these lies so blatantly is strange even to me.

(If by accident anyone believes that Russia had a great plan to invade Germany and save us all before war even started but it didn't happen because we were best pals with uncle Adolf [So they had to pretend they're his friends too, invade us, send HALF A MILLION PEOPLE to Gulags, kill another 20 thousand in Katyń, deport hundred of thousand civilians. All preventive measures, of course.], of course I can provide tons of quotes and materials that will prove him wrong. I just assume that people who post in here aren't that dumb.)

/rant