Easter greetings


April 20, 2014 by AK

Early last week (or this week, if weeks begin on Mondays), there was a rumor on Russophone networks and sites that Yanukovich would arrive in Donetsk on Easter. Hardly on a white horse but, perhaps, in a KrAZ. Gazeta.ru reports from Kramatorsk that locals don’t believe in Yanukovich’s return – he is much disliked in the region, although for different reasons than in Kyiv. We shall see rather soon.

“A logical necessity in our epoch”


April 13, 2014 by AK

No more copy-and-paste function in Kindle for Windows 8 but I hope for no errors in retyping:

Among the changes in behaviour meant to make Italians more militant and commanding was the abolition of the allegedly effete and foreign handshake. Thereafter, it was urged, Italians must greet each other with the ‘Roman’ salute. A Chicago doctor was cited as approving the resultant effect on the health of the nation. It must also benefit those politicians required to greet the people, as in the case of Herbert Hoover, who had recently been exhausted by shaking three thousand hands at a White House reception. The American president would stay fitter, Italians were told, had he merely raised his hand in the Roman salute. Starace urged that Fascists should lead by example in the matter ‘among their families and in public’. ‘It cannot be said … that the Roman salute is being imposed out of false showmanship since it has not been dreamed up coldly by someone sitting at a desk or consulting books. Rather the salute has returned [from the Roman era] spontaneously, as a logical necessity in our epoch of squadrism.’

From Mussolini’s Italy: Life Under the Fascist Dictatorship, 1915-1945 by R. J. B. Bosworth. This is sublime.

It’s not about the justice of the cause


April 13, 2014 by AK

I’m all in favor of Russian as Ukraine’s official language and, possibly, of more power to Ukraine’s regions. What I’m opposed to is the Kremlin’s attempted partition or takeover of Ukraine under these pretexts. These are strictly Ukrainian issues and should not be decided at gunpoint. Once Russian troops are back at their bases and there is no threat of invasion of any kind, Ukraine should probably try to resolve those internal disputes.

When I was growing up, the Soviet press and television would often extol various “heroes” of “anti-imperialist” or “anti-racist” struggle. Some of them were true heroes, like MLK. Others were a tad controversial, like Nelson Mandela (whose greatest achievement came later, I believe, when he prevented large-scale retaliation against the white community). Yet others were more that just controversial, such as Angela Davis, Leonard Peltier or Bobby Sands. I must admit that I still admire Bobby’s nerve in fighting the system by slowly killing himself – it was no GULAG but he was subjected to unfair and indecent treatment. Whether he personally committed acts of terror or merely an IRA member, I have no idea although I suppose that, as an IRA man, he was somehow responsible for their actions.

The point is, it does not matter whether the cause was just or not quite or not at all, Soviet propaganda would take it up to spite the Americans or the Brits. They did not care about Irish republicanism – they just wanted to annoy Thatcher. Likewise, Putin’s “support” for the rights of Eastern Ukrainians says nothing about the merits of their plight; it’s just opportunism.


The little green men are back in Ukraine


April 13, 2014 by AK

The Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine has begun.

Via February 31st.

A step in the right direction in Milan


April 13, 2014 by AK

Rudy Guede, the man who in all likelihood killed Meredith Kercher alone, was convicted of “receiving stolen goods” by an appeals court in Milan a few days ago and was sentenced to 16 months in prison, subject to confirmation by the supreme court.

On Oct. 27, 2007 – days before Meredith was murdered – Rudy Guede was caught breaking into a private school in Milan. He had a laptop, a woman’s golden watch, and a knife with him. The laptop had been stolen from a lawyer’s office in Perugia; the golden watch had disappeared from a burned-out home (arson suspected); and the knife was large enough for its possession to be illegal.

However someone called the Milanese cops from Perugia, and the young man was released. On Nov. 1, he killed Meredith Kercher. Perugian authorities have gone to great lengths to protect Rudy Guede: he is due to be on “work release” from prison this or next year.

It’s rather odd that various Italian courts have been so big on the theory that Knox and Sollecito staged a burglary when Rudy Guede had a history of breaking into people’s homes. Although the Milan court had no chance to convict Guede of burglary in Perugia, it probably did the best it could with the information it had been provided.

For more details, I suggest The Forgotten Killer: Rudy Guede and the Murder of Meredith Kercher by Douglas Preston, John Douglas and others.

Go local


April 9, 2014 by AK

The Russian deputy PM Igor Shuvalov has been accused of insider trading, that is profiting from the pending abolition of the two-tier market in Gazprom shares in 2005-6.

Now Shuvalov is strongly suggesting that Russian companies delist from Western stock exchanges – from London and New York above all. Shuvalov’s request applies to depositary receipts (ADRs and GDRs) as well as primary listings, although not to all companies – definitely to those at the risk of US sanctions.

Instead, Shuvalov promises government “assistance” to Russian firms seeking to tap “non-traditional”* capital markets – Singapore, Hong Kong, the Middle East perhaps?

Since lots of investors can only invest in DRs, not in local shares, Shuvalov’s idea sounds rather bearish to me but so far the markets have disagreed. Is it an empty threat then?

*The word is typically used in a different context in Russian: “non-traditional orientation” means homosexuality.

Blame the maps


April 7, 2014 by AK

A Pro-Russian mob has attacked the wrong building in Kharkiv. To quote from the tweets:

“Kharkiv residents” stormed Opera Theater, thinking it was mayor’s office…

A comment from a Czech follower:

When they came to us in 1968, they sieged National Museum instead of Parlament.

The National Museum building in Prague is an imposing neo-Renaissance building, so little wonder it was mistaken for a seat of power. The Opera House in Kharkiv is a huge late-Soviet concrete structure that, under certain conditions, could be confused with a gigantic obkom. Not by locals, of course.

Business as usual


April 3, 2014 by AK

Anne Applebaum has tweeted: “Russia, which denied having troops on the Ukrainian border, has now announced they will be withdrawn,” linking to this BBC report.

Sounds familiar. The Soviet press was silent about the missiles in Cuba during the 1962 crisis. Then there was a note in small print in Izvestia saying Soviet missiles had been pulled out of the island. Sapienti sat – and there were plenty of homegrown sapienti in cramped kitchenettes of newly built khruschevkas in 1962.

April in Moscow


April 1, 2014 by AK

April in Moscow

The elusive ex-president


March 30, 2014 by AK

Yanukovich failed to appear in public last Friday, sending an open letter to the Ukrainians instead calling for regional referenda.

Some time between his first and second press-conferences in exile, there were reports of his death, then speculation that his double appeared at the second TV event – a predictable foray into March-hare territory followed by a retreat, that is a rumor that he had undergone cardiac stenting and was recovering. Last Thursday, there were “reports” that Yanukovich had flown from his new $54-mln residence near Moscow to Roston-on-Don – but he only sent that letter.


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