Russian to Judgments
As Americans I think it is a very sorry state indeed that we do not
know how to read the Russian tea leaves. I mean come on! They were our
mortal enemy for a half a century and we don’t know what Putin
reorganizing his cabinet means?
For some reason western media outlets are acting as
though today’s announced cabinet reorganization by Vladimir Putin is in
some way significant. It is nothing more than a ritual. Nor does it
have much to do with the December 2nd parliamentary elections, which
are little more than a farce scripted long ago. Putin will use this
ostensibly open phase to sound out his cronies and prolong the tension
that is building toward the crisis of the March 08 presidential
election, the one that really matters.
From The Other Russia
Yes, of course Putin is a bad guy, he has ushered in a
post-communist Russia that is rife with cronyism and is not really all
that “post” communist in reality. Dissidents like Chess Grand Master
Gary Kasparov have their lives threatened by the neo-Soviet Union every
time they have a protest. Their economy, while technically growing in
terms of GDP is in reality in a shambles because inflation destroyed
all those gains.
But as La Russophobe has previously reported, the
overall inflation rate is not the one that really matters in Russia.
Rather, the one that matters is the price rise on the small “basket” of
goods and services that the average Russian, who earns $2.50 per hour,
can actually afford to buy.
Rosstat says Russian overall prices rose 0.6% in April, and 4% in
just the first four months of 2007. That puts Russia on pace to
experience 16% overall inflation this year, yet Economic Development
Minister Herman Gref has said he believes actual price increases will
be only half that total.
But the price rise on the basket of basic foodstuffs purchased by
average wage earners didn’t increase by 0.6% in April, its price rise
was 30% higher — 0.8% — and for the first quarter the price rise for
the basic basket of food was not 4% as for the general economy, but
5.5% (nearly 40% higher than the overall total).
From La Russophobe
This is another area I think we rush to judgment on in regards to
old enemies like Russia and China. Is their economic really improving?
Based on the above, probably not. But because we think they are
improving their country’s economy our President, President Bush, will
go over to Russia for example and say he trusts Putin because he looked
into his soul and saw something he liked.
With these ex, not so ex, communist countries we seem to have a
penchant for wanting to believe they are changed beings. Maybe this is
the fatal American flaw, optimism. I must say that I do not share it.
These people only want power; the power to control their people and
they want the power to control every other peoples as well. While this
most recent announcement of Putin does not spell the end of a
democratic Russia (no laughing from the Russians on Tverskaya street)
every other thing he does screams that he is still a communist and this
means that the Cold War may have really just reached room temperature.