Russian Reporter Oleg Kashin Beaten Into Coma

Just two days after a security camera caught two men beating journalist Oleg Kashin unconscious on a Moscow street, a second reporter who wrote about a controversial road proposed for a beloved Moscow forest has suffered a concussion at the hands of unknown assailants.

Kashin is in a medically induced coma in a Moscow hospital after a weekend assault that left him with a severed finger, a broken leg and fractured jaws. Video from a closed circuit camera of two men holding Kashin down and beating him with an iron bar that had been hidden in a bouquet of flowers has appeared on a Russian web site and state television. The attack lasted a minute and a half.

I hope that he can work again,” Kashin’s father Vladimir told ABC News. “I hope that he can survive.”

I don’t know why exactly he was attacked,” said fellow journalist Yvgenia Albats, an investigative reporter and editor-in-chief of the magazine New Times. “I know for sure that he was attacked because of his work.”

Kashin has reported on many controversial topics, including political youth groups, but speculation about the cause for the assault centers on Kashin’s coverage of the Khimki road project, a proposed multi-billion dollar highway through the heart of a “green belt” birch forest on the city’s outskirts. Logging for the road began in July, but after fierce public protest construction was temporarily suspended by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. Kashin, who works for the prominent business newspaper Kommersant, had written about a July protest against the road, conducting an interview with a blogger who said he had led an attack on a government building in Khimki.

Backers of the project stand to lose a huge investment if the highway is scrapped. The project is supported by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and after one of Kashin’s articles on Khimki, the pro-Kremlin youth group Young Guard posted a piece online with the headline “Journalist Betrayers Must Be Punished” as well as a picture of Kashin with the label “Will Be Punished.” Young Guard has denied involvement in the attack on Kashin and condemned it.

via Russian Reporter Oleg Kashin Beaten Into Coma – ABC News.

The limits of freedom of expression should be attacking other people’s lifes. You can’t call for “punishments” of “journalist betrayers”, because they are investigating something you don’t like anyone to investigate, and then, when something like that, has happened, take the unhappy mask and condemn it. I’m sure they are really happy after this: even his father doesn’t know if the journalist will survive. So it’s probable that he won’t be able to work either.

Second Moscow bomber was widow of Al Qaida militant

The metro in Moscow is one of the most busiest...
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This is un update on this story (more here, here and here):

The 28-year-old Daghestani school teacher, who blew herself up at the Moscow Metro last week, was the widow of an Al-Qaida militant active in Russia‘s Caucasian region, a report said on Thursday…. (She) was identified as an IT school teacher Mariyam Sharipova, the widow of Caucasian militant “Doctor Mohammad”.

The Jordanian national known among the militants as ‘Doctor Mohammad’, had come to North Caucasus in mid-1990s along with another famous Jordanian militant Khattab and was lately representing Al-Qaida’s interests in Russia’s volatile, predominant Muslim regions.

He was killed on August 30, 2009 in a special operation in a remote village in Khasavyurt district of Daghestan, the daily reported quoting FSB security service sources. Continue reading

Iran Urges Russia to Resist Arms Sale Pressure

TEHRAN. With the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ah...

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While Ahmadinejad mocks Obama:

Iran urged Russia on Tuesday not to bow to Western pressure over the sale of a Russian missile defense system to the Islamic republic that could protect its nuclear facilities from air strikes.

Russia is under intense Western pressure to distance itself from Iran in a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme, but has refused to rule out delivering the S-300 anti-aircraft system.

Iranian officials have expressed growing irritation at Russia’s failure so far to supply the S-300, which Israel and the United States do not want Tehran to have.

Iran expects Russia not to be influenced and pressured by other countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference.

“We hope this issue will reach a conclusion in the framework of our agreements,” he said.

via Iran Urges Russia to Resist Arms Sale Pressure | News | The Moscow Times.

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Kyrgyzstan riots: opposition protesters seize power

National emblem of Kyrgyzstan

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Activists seized the parliament building and laid siege to the government headquarters. The deputy prime minister was taken hostage and there were reports from police that the interior minister had been killed. The main state television station was overrun and by early afternoon the president had declared a state of emergency.

Reports suggested about 100 people were killed and hundreds more wounded, although the death toll was expected to rise with witnesses describing piles of dead bodies in the streets.

Last night a Kyrgyz opposition leader announced on state radio that Daniyar Usenov, the prime minister, had signed a letter of resignation. It was also announced that a provisional government had been formed with a former foreign minister, Roza Otunbayeva, at its head.

…The US State Department later said it had no information that the government had fallen and for the moment they believed Mr Bakiyev was still in power. Last night a US military official said flights had been suspended from the airbase amid the riots.

…“Russia and the United States have been competing for influence for a long time and have airbases just a few miles apart, so it is an active centre of the Great Game right now between the powers of Russia, China and the US,” said Chris Weafer, the chief strategist at Uralsib bank in Moscow.

He said living standards in Kyrgyzstan, where many families depended on money sent back from relatives working in Russia, had fallen sharply because of the economic crisis and that had probably triggered the unrest.

via Kyrgyzstan riots: opposition protesters seize power – Telegraph.

Russia has had to deny that they have triggered the unrest. Speaking about meddling in foreign affairs… More about this in TIME:

The struggle (between US and Russia) came to a head in February of last year, when the Kyrgyz handed the U.S. military base an eviction notice just weeks after Russia provided the impoverished country with a $2 billion loan and $150 million in aid. Russia denied any link between the two events, but U.S. officials saw it differently. Washington soon reached a deal with Kyrgyz leaders to keep the base open — in exchange for a tripling of the yearly rental to $60 million, among other conditions.

… Putin vehemently denied the allegation at a press conference in the Russian city of Smolensk on Wednesday, saying the events in Kyrgyzstan had caught him by surprise. He added, however, that Kyrgyz President Bakiev had made many mistakes since coming to power in what is known as the Tulip Revolution five years ago. “When President Bakiev came to power, he very harshly criticized the deposed President, [Askar] Akayev, for his family values, for the fact that his relatives had positions throughout the Kyrgyz economy. I have the impression that Mr. Bakiev has been stepping on the same rakes,” he said, alluding to the fact that Bakiev appointed his family members, including his son, to top government posts. A Kremlin source told Russia’s Interfax news agency on Wednesday that Bakiev “would not be welcome in Moscow.”

The U.S. State Department was quick to issue a statement saying its air base in Kyrgyzstan was “functioning normally.” “We are continuing to monitor the circumstances. We continue to think the government remains in power,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement on Wednesday. But that view is beginning to seem untenable: Bakiev has already fled the country, and the opposition says it is forming a new government. How amenable that government would be to the U.S. presence in Kyrgyzstan remains to be seen. What is certain is that the struggle for influence between Russia and the U.S. may again heat up in Central Asia.

NYT worries about the fate that awaits to the US military base.

Also this can have some effects on the drug trafficking route thoughout Central Asia.

EUReferendum says that the protests were “largely spontaneous” and were caused by the high prices of energy:

“The violent rolling protests appeared to be largely spontaneous rather than a premeditated coup,” it says, eventually telling us that a “leading expert” has said the government had triggered the protests by imposing punitive increases on tariffs for water and gas. “In the last few months there has been growing anger over this non-political issue,” said Paul Quinn-Judge, central Asia project director of the International Crisis Group.

So has Russia meddle here or not? It’s difficult to tell by now, we’ll see the future developments in this country.

The death toll has risen to 74.

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Putin: Russian arms to Venezuela may be $5B

Venezuela continues buying weapons, making Putin very happy indeed:

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Arms exports to Venezuela may reach as much as $5 billion, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday, a few days after he traveled to the country.

Putin visited Venezuela late last week to meet with President Hugo Chavez and pledged to sell more weapons to the country but gave no concrete figures.

“Our delegation has just returned from Venezuela, and the total volume of orders may exceed $5 billion,” Putin said in televised remarks.

Russia on Friday agreed to lend Venezuela up to $2.2 billion for the new arms deals.

Hugo Chavez's government has already bought more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.

via Nation & World | Putin: Russian arms to Venezuela may be $5B | Seattle Times Newspaper.

Read it all. Specially the last paragraph…

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Russia: change everything, so that nothing changes

The nature of Russian governance has moved on somewhat since the 16th century. But one thing has remained the same: post-Soviet Russia is a profoundly feudal society. I don’t mean that as a generalised insult denoting ignorance and backwardness. I mean really feudal, in its most literal sense. Feudalism is the exchange of service for protection. In the absence of functional legal or law enforcement systems, people’s only real protection lies in a network of personal and professional relationships with powerful individuals. And so it is in Russia today — for every member of society with something, however small, to lose, from a market stall owner to the nation’s top oligarchs. Your freedom from arbitrary arrest, fraudulent expropriation and extortion by bureaucrats is only as good as your connections.

… In November, 37-year-old tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died of pancreatic failure in Moscow’s most notorious remand prison, Butirskaya. At the time of his arrest Magnitsky had been working for Hermitage Capital, once the biggest investor on Russia’s stock market. Magnitsky’s crime had been to complain about a $230 million tax refund scam apparently perpetrated by corrupt tax officials and police. These criminals had used companies stolen from Hermitage during a police raid as vehicles for claiming false tax refunds. Magnitsky and the Hermitage team had painstakingly documented the details of the scam and complained to every official body they could think of. Yet instead of pursuing the guilty, Russian authorities arrested Magnitsky. According to his heartbreaking prison diary, investigators repeatedly tried to persuade him to give testimony against Hermitage and drop the accusations against the police and tax authorities. When Magnitsky refused, he was moved to more and more horrible sections of the prison, and ultimately denied the medical treatment which could have saved his life.

… The case, which had garnered next to no publicity while Magnitsky was alive, suddenly made the pages of the Moscow business press on his death (though not, of course, the tightly controlled national television stations). The presidential human rights council, a rather beleaguered body of activists, brought the Magnitsky case directly to the President’s ear. Medvedev’s response, to his credit, was swift. To date, 20 prison officials have been fired, as well as the deputy head of the Moscow Interior Ministry in charge of investigating tax crimes. More heads will doubtless roll in the coming weeks — although I would bet that the real perpetrators of the tax scam, reliably reported by the New Times magazine to be in the upper echelons of the Federal Security Service’s ironically named Economic Crimes Department, will escape punishment.

So was justice done? Emphatically no, and not just because the real culprits are likely to escape. The point is that even the firings which have taken place bring Russia no closer to being a law-based society. Rather, it was personal justice, dispensed on the President’s word. In time-honoured fashion, misdeeds were brought to the attention of the good Tsar who dispensed quick and terrible punishment. This is not the ‘order’ that Russians yearn for, it is simply another brand of legal nihilism.

via There’s something rotten in the state of Russia | The Spectator.

So, the system has basically continue as it was under Tzarism, only the “image” we see it’s somewhat different. No, Medvedev does not either want change: he wants things as they ever were:

under the current system, it is your superiors — or, if you are unlucky, your enemies and competitors — who decide whether you get prosecuted for your crimes, or whether to protect you. Crucially, it also means that innocence is no defence against prosecution, as poor Sergei Magnitsky found.

More power, more corruption: the circle goes on, because Putin has already got rid of every possible opposition Russia could have had. Neo-Soviet Russia in all its splendour.

Ingushetia: Construction Minister shot dead in his office

The string of assasinations in Ingushetia puts region back on agenda. This is what happens when you say these three things:

So, what does Putin really think about Islam?

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Russia: last legislative measures ensure union betwen Orthodox Church and State

Pajamas Media » Putin Enlists the Church in His Power Grab

the government announced that it would consult the Russian Orthodox Church before introducing any legislative proposals in parliament, in essence giving the church a veto on legislation and allowing the church to promote an openly religious agenda in parliament.Then, the regime declared it would begin teaching Orthodox religion in schools, ignoring the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state. Study of other Christian faiths, like Protestantism and Catholicism, has already been ruled out, and it’s clear that the lip-service being paid to Islam is only window dressing.

As for Judaism, a spate of anti-Semitic acts make perfectly clear that the religion has no more future in Putin’s Russia than it did in the USSR.

It probably should not be surprising to see religion and politics begin to overlap in Russia, since both the leader of the Orthodox Church — Patriarch Kirill — and Vladimir Putin are former KGB spies. Indeed, it was not the men who separated from the KGB, but the organization that separated from them, when it collapsed along with the entire USSR apparatus. Putin has said he views that separation as one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history, and he played a key role in bringing Kirill to the seat of power.

From the Forbes’ article above:

there are values “that stand no lower than human rights.” These are “faith, morality, sacred places and homeland.” When these values contradict the realization of human rights, “the society and government and law should harmoniously combine them.” How this could be done was not made clear but, according to the Council, it is impossible to tolerate a situation in which human rights “threatened the existence of the motherland.”

Lord… that thing about the motherland, looks like as the “lover camps” Putin inaugurated some time ago…

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Chechenya: Kadyrov approves honor killings

The bullnecked president of Chechnya emerged from afternoon prayers at the mosque and with chilling composure explained why seven young women who had been shot in the head deserved to die.

Ramzan Kadyrov said the women, whose bodies were found dumped by the roadside, had “loose morals” and were rightfully shot by male relatives in honor killings.

“If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them are killed,” Kadyrov told journalists in the capital of this Russian republic.

via Ironic Surrealism v3.0 » Chechnya: Honor Killings Have President Ramzan Kadyrov’s Stamp of Approval.

More in the Iconoclast:

Many people suspect Kadyrov is branding the seven late November slayings honor killings to advance his political agenda. He said the women were planning to go abroad to work as prostitutes, but their relatives found out about it and killed them.

(…) Rights activists fear that Kadyrov’s approval of honor killings may encourage men to carry them out. Honor killings are considered part of Chechen tradition. No records are kept, but human rights activists estimate dozens of women are killed every year.

What the president says is law,” said Gistam Sakaeva, a Chechen activist who works to defend women’s rights. “Because the president said this, many will try to gain his favor by killing someone, even if there is no reason.”

Back in March 2006 I wrote that Kadyrov had already started “demanding women to wear headscarves”.

But we don’t need to go sooo far for finding this kind of ideas: Finnish Islamic party wants to introduce Shariah Law in Finland. And Shariah Law demands stoning of adulterers. Men are condemned (normally) to some lashes. Of course, lashes are not funny and more than 80 can kill you, but stoning specially in women, who are covered till the chest, is mortal in near all the cases.

Putin reescribe la historia sangrienta de Stalin

Putin Rewriting Stalin’s Bloody History | NeoConstant:

“El Primer Ministro ruso Validimir Putin está muy ocupado reescribiendo la histria del líder soviético Joseph Stalin y de su dictadura sangrienta sobre la Unión Soviética. Así lo señala la BBC en una historia titulada, “Stalin puede ganar el voto ruso”. Esto es claramente un desarrollo terrorífico considerando el terror bien documentado que el pueblo ruso vivió bajo el gobierno de Stalin. Pero no es algo inesperado considerando la historia propia de Putin, quien estuvo 17 años trabajando para el temible KGB, uno de los más importantes y brutales “servicios de seguridad” en la historia del mundo. Vladimir se ha rodeado de otros matones del KGB, así que en el Kremlin a día de hoy“bajo Putin, la influencia procede de los anteriores órganos de represión soviéticos.””

Ahora imaginemos a Putin considerando la posibilidad de que Medvedev le desobedezca. Ya veremos qué ocurre y cómo influye en esta situación la crisis económica que vive Rusia, que puede ser aprovechada por Medvedev para restar influencia a Putin.

Relacionados: Rusia: persiguiendo a los bloggers, Rusia tiene un plan para monopolizar el acceso de energía a Europa, según el CNI, Obama y Medvedev: guerra Fría II, Elecciones presidenciales rusas: gana Medvedev, Ser opositor en Rusia: el Gulag Neo-Soviético, Educación para la ciudadanía según Putin.

Russia fleet 'may leave Ukraine'

Russia’s deputy PM has told the BBC the country’s Black Sea Fleet will vacate its naval base in Sevastopol in 2017 if the Ukrainian government demands it.

Speaking exclusively to Panorama, Sergei Ivanov said Russia would seek to renew its lease on the Crimean port, but will move the Fleet if it cannot.

The move will anger nationalists who consider Sevastopol a part of Russia.

It is feared the port could become a flashpoint in already strained relations between Russia and the West.

We are not aggressive. We have recognised the territorial integrity of all former Soviet republics.

Asked if he could envisage the Fleet not being based in the Crimea – its home for the last 225 years – Mr Ivanov, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s number two who oversees Russia’s military and industry, said:

“Yes I can imagine that easily after 2017. Why not, if the Ukrainian government then in power decides not to prolong the lease?”

It will also surprise the West where in the wake of the war in Georgia many fear Moscow could seek to reclaim parts of the Crimea by force to secure the Fleet’s future.

via BBC NEWS | Europe | Russia fleet ‘may leave Ukraine’.

He also spoke against NATO expansion (again):

He also dismissed America’s claims that its plans for a missile defence shield in Europe are to protect it from Iran and North Korea.

He said Russia sees the shield – parts of which are to be stationed in Poland and the Czech republic – as a threat to Russia.

Mr Ivanov warned that Russia would react militarily if the plans went ahead, but also rubbished a previous threat made by a Russian general who said Poland was exposing itself to a possible nuclear strike if it agreed to station parts of the shield on its territory.

Don’t know if he is speaking the truth or not. Because not a lot of days ago, Putin was menacing Ukraine for arming Georgia in Russian-Georgian conflict and some days before that, Ukraine was cautioning Russia against arming the separatists. So, will they have the intention of abandoning Sebastopol? I really don’t think so. I think they are just gaining time.

Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The International Center for Research on Biofuels and Patents in Zurich has chosen Putin for his alternative fuel initiatives in Russia.

The Swiss organisation says its main goal is to prevent future wars over oil.

The centre proposed Putin for his ideas on developing energies based on nanotechnology. It also praised the President for his efforts to reduce Russia’s reliance on fossil fuels.

via RussiaToday : SciTech : Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.

And this after he menaced Ukraine for selling weapons to Georgia during the Russian-Georgia conflict

DER TERRORIST called my attention to these news.

El periódico que anunció que Putin se casaba, cierra

Recapitulemos: un periódico estilo The Daily Mail pero en ruso, anuncia que Putin se ha divorciado en secreto de su mujer Lyudmila Aleksandrovna y que va a casarse con la guapísima ex-atleta, ex-modelo y actual parlamentaria de padre tártaro musulmán, Alina Kabaeva. Incluso llegaron a mencionar los de detalles de la boda.

En la reunión Putin-Berlusconi de la que hablé ayer, una periodista rusa preguntó si era verdad. Mientras que Putin decía que no toleraría ninguna intromisión en la vida privada de las personas, Berlusconi hacía como que disparaba con un fusil a la periodista.

Pues bien, ya ha actuado: su compañero del KGB y dueño del periódico, Alexander Lebedev, ha cerrado el periódico, aduciendo “razones comerciales porque no encontraban publicidad“.No se puede mostrar la imagen “http://img200.exs.cx/img200/7135/eyebrow1qb.gif” porque contiene errores.

AdelaideNow… Paper closes after revealing Putin bride scandal:

“THE Russian newspaper that first published claims president Vladimir Putin had secretly divorced and planned to marry a gymnast has been shut down.

The Billionaire owner of the newspaper, Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent, pulled the plug on Moscow Korrespondent hours after the Russian president issued an angry denial of the report about former Olympic gymnast and nude model Alina Kabaeva, a member of parliament who is 31 years his junior.

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that the paper’s editor, Grigoriy Nekhoroshev, resigned in protest and claimed the article was well sourced.

Before being suspended, the paper issued an apology, yet deputy editor Igor Dudinsky declared: ‘We stand by our story.'”

El periódico ruso que primero publicó las afirmaciones de que el presidente Vladimir Putin se había divorciado secretamente y había planeado casarse con una gimnasta ha sido cerrado.

El propietario del periódico, el billonario, Alexander Lebedev, un anterior agente de la KGB, ha terminado con el periódico Moscow Korrespondent, horas después de que Putin negara muy enfadado la información sobre la gimnasta olímpica y modelo de desnudos Alina Kabaeva, además de miembro del parlamento, que es 31 años más joven.

El Daily Mail acaba de informar de que el editor del periódico, Grigory Nekhoroshev, dimitió en protesta y afirmó que el artículo estaba basado en muy buenas fuentes.

Antes de ser suspendido, el periódico publicó una disculpa, aunque el editor sustituto Igor Dudinsky declaró que “seguían manteniendo su historia”.

Financial Times dice que los dueños dijeron que se cerraba por razones comerciales, lo que no se ha creído nadie, si no que han visto en ello el largo brazo del Kremlim.

The publishers insisted the suspension was a purely commercial decision. But Russian journalism experts warned it showed the extent to which the media had been cowed by the Kremlin.

Although the paper had published an apology on Thursday, within hours of Mr Putin’s press conference its editor resigned and the publisher halted publication.

Artyom Artyomov, general director of National Media Company, the paper’s publisher, told the Financial Times this weekend the decision was not political.

“There was no pressure [from the authorities] at all,” he said. “I have suspended publication of the newspaper, but because of financial circumstances. It is quite possible that the newspaper will start publishing again but in a new format and with a new editor.”

Mr Artyomov said that the paper, ultimately owned by Alexander Lebedev, a billionaire tycoon, was not meeting advertising targets and had not fulfilled its original concept of being a Russian version of the Daily Mail, the British tabloid.

But Oleg Panfilov, head of Russia’s Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations, said the case showed the “crisis in relations” between the press and officials.

“The paper acted like any tabloid in England, France, Germany or wherever,” he said. “But the fear that journalists and editors have of the authorities here is so great that they needed to close the paper. I think it is not a suspension but closure.”

Mr Artyomov dismissed as rumours reports that the paper was raided by officers of the FSB, successor to the KGB.

Lo más interesante es que se ha negado que haya habido incluso una redada por parte de la FSB, la sucesora del KGB.

Más en FOX NEWS: al parecer, los rumores sobre su romance han circulado por Moscú desde hace meses (sólo hay que ver las miraditas en la foto, ejem…), pero nadie se había atrevido a ponerlas por escrito (no me extraña viendo el resultado):

Rumors of a romance between Putin, 55, and Alina Kabaeva, 24, who is also an MP in his party, have been circulating in Moscow for months, but until last week no one had dared to print them.

The paper admitted there was no factual basis for its claim that Putin had already divorced Ludmilla, 50, his wife of 24 years, and would marry Kabaeva in June, shortly after stepping down as president and becoming prime minister. It cited information from a party planner who claimed to be bidding to organize the lavish reception.

(…)“Our director came to the newsroom and told us we were being shut down,” said Nekhoroshev, who sounded shaken. “As far as the story is concerned I’ve full faith in my correspondents.”

Kabaeva, who is famed for her “extreme natural flexibility,” had threatened to sue. Her high profile as a sporting pin-up has been enhanced by photographs showing her wearing nothing but furs, but she has spoken of her strong political ambitions.

El periódico admitió que no había ninguna base fáctica para basar su información de que Putin se había divorciado de Ludmilla (50 años y su esposa desde hace 24) y se iba a casar con Kabaeva, después de dejar la Presidencia y empezar el desempeño del puesto de Primer Ministro. Citaba información de un organizador de fiestas que afirmaba que estaba pujando por organizar la recepción.

Nuestro director vino a la oficina de redacción y nos dijo que nos cerraban”, dijo Nekhoroshev, que parecía estremecido. “En cuanto a lo que se refiere a la historia, tengo completa fe en mis corresponsales.”

Kabaeva,que es famosa por su “extrema flexibilidad natural”, ha amenazado con demandar al periódico. Su alto perfil como una pin-up del deporte ha crecido por sus fotos en las que aparecía vestida con sólo unas pieles, pero al mismo tiempo siempre ha hablado de sus fuertes ambiciones políticas.

Mientras han pasado desapercibidas las negociaciones de Putin con Ghadaffi:

President Vladimir Putin plans to oversee the signing of deals worth more than $10 billion on a trip to Libya aimed at grabbing a slice of a market opening up to the world after years of sanctions, his spokesman said.

Putin shook hands with with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in front of his former central Tripoli home, which has been kept in ruins since it was bombed by U.S. aircraft in 1986.

El Presidente Vladimir Putin planea supervisar la firma de varios negocios por valor de 10.000 millones de dólares que tienen por objeto capturar una parte del mercado del país que se está abriendo ahora después de años de sanciones, dijo el portavoz.

Putin estrechó las manos con el líder libio Gadhafi ante su anterior casa de Trípoli, que ha sido mantenido en ruinas desde que fuera bombardeada por aviones americanos en 1986.

Ni tampoco se ha hablado de las negociaciones con Il Ligoniere Berlusconiambos antiguos amigos y aliados“:

President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi on Friday rekindled ties by talking up a possible new bid by Aeroflot for troubled airline Alitalia and hinted that a gas deal between Gazprom and Italy’s Eni involving Libya could be in the cards.

El Presidente Vladimir Putin y el primer Ministro italiano recién elegido Berlusconi reiniciaron sus relaciones hablando de una nueva oferta por Aeroflot para la aerolínea Alitalia y sugirieron que un negocio de gas entre Gazprom y la italiana Eni que implicara a Libia podría estar fraguándose.

Las elecciones italianas, el Gobierno "rosa" y el mal menor

Parece que los que se las dan de “ohh, no somos moderados pero pa ná, manita” (o también en su versión beatorra falsa de iglesia: “te doy gracias, Señor, porque NO soy moderado“) están muy contentos con el resultado de las elecciones en Italia, en las que, como sabéis ha ganado Berlusconi, apoyándose en diversos partidos como el de la extrema derecha de la nietísima de Mussolini y los de la Lega Nord de Bossi (separatistas del Norte, por si a alguien se le ha olvidado). Algo así como si se unieran en España el PP, AES y Democracia Nacional junto al PNV. Mola, ¿eh?

Pues parece que no mucho: como ya dije aquí, la campaña electoral ha sido muy parecida a la española, sin ideas, sin discusión de programa y en la que se ofrecía a los electores una subasta a ver quién da máááás. Y eso sí, el mal menor: unos eran “que no gane Berlusconi” y otros “que no gane Veltroni”. Los primeros haciendo algo parecido a Arfonzo aquí en España, los segundos, horrorizados ante la posibilidad de que se produjera un nuevo tempo comme c’é de “Il Professore”.
Traduzco un artículo de Jim Momo para Pajamas Media, uno de los mejores bloggers italianos en el que se ve el cansancio y la hartura con los políticos, y la semejanza en los programas populisto-mediáticos de los candidatos (los links abajo):

Los italianos se sienten deprimidos, más viejos y más pobres que hace unos años porque su país está en una ciénaga social y económica, cuya foto más emblemática es la crisis de basuras de Nápoles. Este declive relativo es debido al fracaso endémico del liberalismo económico. Un sector público hinchado, impuestos y gasto público en un círculo vicioso, sobre-regulación, una abultada deuda pública, y un declive en la competitividad económica están oprimiendo a los ciudadanos italianos.

El crecimiento es bajo (PIB se incrementará entre un ,3 y ,6% en 2008) y la calidad de vida está disminuyendo. La burocracia y las reglas confusas hacen que la inversión se mantenga alejada de Italia. El nivel de empleo permanece en uno de los más bajos puestos en el ranking de la OCDE. El sistema de pensiones es insostenible y el mercado laboral es inflexible. Un trabajador de 25 años paga un cuarto de los sueldos para financiar el retiro de los trabajadores de 58 años. El 70% de los italianos que tienen entre 20 y 30 años todavía viven en la casa de sus padres.

El rendimiento de los estudiantes italianos es el peor entre los de los países occidentales. Los sueldos son los más bajos entre los de las naciones OCDE. Según un estudio del Banco de Italia, los sueldos de los paterfamilias no han cambiado entre 2000-2006. Los precios, mientras, sí han subido. Este colapso en los sueldos ha disminuido alarmantemente tanto los ahorros como el consumo de las familias italianas.

La sobre-imposición no acabó con la deuda pública (ahora el 106% del PIB) pero los altos impuestos sirvieron para incrementar el gasto público que ahora está en el 50,1% del PIB italiano. Este incremento en el gasto gubernamental no hizo que la administración pública fuera más eficiente o sirviera para financiar el estado del bienestar. Italia está en el puesto número 64 de las economías más libres según el Índice 2008 de la Libertad Económica. Está en el puesto 29 de entre los 41 países de la región europea.

Italia está esperando a una Thatcher, a un Reagan o al menos a un Blair. Los problemas, en su mayor parte, son los mismos que Inglaterra y América tenían en esos momentos y las soluciones son bien conocidas: bajar y simplificar los impuestos, una dieta fuerte para el Gobierno, una burocracy menos onerosa, una jurisdicción civil efectiva, una liberalización del mercado de trabajo y de los servicios públicos, reformas del estado de bienestar y del sistema de pensiones, educación basada en el mérito y en la competencia y una mayor financiación de los proyectos de I+D.

Pero es muy improbable que Berlusconi o Veltroni vayan a acometer las debidas reformas para revivir la maltrecha economía italiana.

Ambos partidos ofrecen similares planes que parecen haber sido escritos para reafirmar a los votantes. Prometen beneficios, asistencia, proyectos de alojamiento, mayores pensiones y menores sueldos – esto es, mucho más gasto público. Pero ni Berlusconi ni Veltroni han dado detalles específicos sobre las reformas. Italia es un país en el que Thatcher, Reagan o Blair no tienen sitio. Es un país para izquierdistas, ya estén estos en la derecha o en la izquierda.

Curiosamente, esto es lo mejor: resulta que los que presumen de ser de derechas de toda la vida se alegran porque ohh, por fin, una coalición de toda la derecha italiana…. sin darse cuenta de que Berlusconi tiene el mismo peligro que Il Professore: que no ceda a las presiones de los grupos aliados y le dejen tan tirado como dejaron a Prodi en la pasada legislatura, de modo que los votantes menos escorados a un lado, puede que acaben hartos del Gobierno (normalmente si uno es moderado, no se radicaliza, se pira de con los radicales).

Y convenientemente tampoco se han dado cuenta de eso que señala tan bien Jim Momo: que su programa político es tan de izquierdas como los de la izquierda porque es populista y propagandístico. A ello también contribuye la alianza con la extrema-derecha, porque éstos coinciden en muchos postulados con la izquierda, especialmente en materia social y económica, exactamente igual que aquí los partidos con una política económica y social más parecida son Izquierda Unida y Alternativa Española y Democracia Nacional, todos del liberal-conservadurismo como se ve.

Lo que realmente existe en Italia, igual que en el resto de Europa, es una crisis democrática sin precedentes, con unos partidos políticos que sólo velan por sus intereses propios y por imponer su agenda propia. A ello se añade una crisis social y política aún más importante que precisamente hace que la degeneración democrática sea aún mayor. Eso sin contar con que Berlusconi es una especie de Polanco a la italiana, un súper-magnate de la comunicación y que sabe utilizarla muy bien a su favor.
Pero claro, en un país como España en el que el cretino de Zapatero dice que “es rojo y feminista” (con la cuota, chatín, ni de coña y facilitando este tipo de leyes, encima machista y homófobo, porque ¿por qué un hombre maltratado no va a tener el mismo trato por ley que una mujer? ¿qué pasa, el hombre no necesita que lo ayuden pero la mujer sí? ¿y qué pasa si es una lesbiana o un gay los que reciben malos tratos de su pareja?) y en el que hay algunos que piensan que “se está llevando a cabo un genocidio masculino” (hmm, claro, esa epidemia de muertos por las calles…No se puede mostrar la imagen “http://www.replay.ru/forum/style_emoticons/default/scenic.gif” porque contiene errores. si es que el drama a algunos se les da de vicio…), el gilipollas de Berlusconi se convierte en héroe nacional simplemente por decir que a Zapatero le va a ser muy difícil manejar a todo ese vergel de féminas, tan inútiles como los “vigorosos madelman” del Gobierno. Y añade: “en Italia prevalecen los hombres“… Depende de para quién y en qué situaciones ¿no?
Porque las quinielas incluyen que Berlusconi puede nombrar a esta modelo y presentadora televisiva (ohh, qué gran bagaje cultural) como Ministra:

Berlusconi podría nombrar ministra a una modelo tras criticar al Gobierno de Zapatero por 'rosa'

Tras criticar al gobierno de José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero por ser demasiado ‘rosa’, el próximo primer ministro de Italia Silvio Berlusconi parece que no se quedará corto y las quinielas sitúan a la modelo y presentadora televisiva Mara Carfagna como ministra de Familia, de Igualdad o incluso de Trabajo.

La modelo, de 31 años y diputada del Partido Forza Italia, puso en aprietos (¿? le puso ella???) a ‘Il Cavaliere’ hace poco más de un año cuando en una gala de televisión el entonces líder de la oposición piropeó a diversas modelos y presentadoras. Concretamente a Carfagna le espetó: “Miradla, si no estuviera casado, me casaría con ella de inmediato”, lo que originó un escándalo mediático y su esposa, Verónica Lario, le exigió disculpas públicas.

El magnate de la televisión y presidente del AC Milan lo hizo en una carta pública dirigida a su esposa.

Y ahora pregunto yo: la señora esta, además de estar buena (que lo está), ¿tiene alguna otra cualidad que la haga buena para ser ministra de Trabajo? Ahora, como ponga Berlusconi un ministerio de Igualdad, la carcajada que voy a soltar va a hacer historia… porque es lo mismo que ha hecho Zapatero. Lo mejor es que Il Ligoniere dijo que iba a elegir a su Gobierno en función de la experiencia: ¿una presentadora televisiva tiene experiencia como ministra de Trabajo? Ahh, no espera que está buena y ha sido showgirl… Apoyo masculino generalizado y femenino, o bien “porque es mujer y todas estamos con ella” o bien porque “jo, y si digo que no me gusta, lo mismo me llaman envidiosa“…. No se puede mostrar la imagen “http://www.cheesebuerger.de/images/smilie/konfus/c010.gif” porque contiene errores.

Silvio Berlusconi quiere un tercer mandato lleno de ‘glamour‘ (nota mía: que es seguro lo que quiere el pobre hombre que no tiene con qué llegar a fin de mes…. glamour…). Y para dar un toque original a su próximo Gobierno, nada mejor que colocar a una ex modelo y presentadora de televisión al frente de un ministerio. Por ello, según las ‘quinielas’ que barajan los medios, Mara Carfagna tendrá un hueco en el Ejecutivo italiano. (Foto: AP).

Que conste, si le exijo a la Chacón que tenga experiencia, que sea eficiente y competente y no he ahorrado razones para criticar su nombramiento (1 y comentarios aquí), a esta, por muy buena que esté, le exijo lo mismo. Porque no se trata de un desfile de modelos o de hacer un strip-tease (aunque sé que lo estáis deseando, hasta los que lo nieguen…No se puede mostrar la imagen “http://img185.imageshack.us/img185/7581/moskingqa5.gif” porque contiene errores.), si no de estar en el Gobierno para ser algo más que un florero que haga actividades de marketing. Claro, salvo que la gente pueda meterse con la Chacón porque es fea (objetivamente lo es…) y con esta no, por todo lo contrario…
Así que, en resumen, lo divertido es que lo que realmente era: “votamos a Berlusconi, porque no nos gusta lo que hay enfrente, que es Veltroni, il sucessore degli Professori scaldatti“, un Zapatero pero con il cuore italiano que es aún más empalagoso, se convierte en “ohhh, triunfó una alianza en la que la nieta de Mussolini (¿recordamos como terminó el obeso dictador, colgado por los pies y troceado? ooh, no eso fue la conspiración judeo-masónica-estadounidense-sionista-liberal-moderado que echó al italiano más querido…) puede ser ministra, si aquí los conservadores fueran iguales, que son unos moderados todos que nos da un repelús, nos sentiríamos “acetados” por fin….” Así que la teoría del mal menor, sólo para cuando no os incluyen, ¿no, chatines? Si podemos asentar el tercer ojo en la silla presidencial y adyacentes, entonces, “ohhh, ese mal menor, qué bueno es en el fondo“. Porque eso es lo que ha triunfado en Italia: el mal menor contra el socialismo.
Detesto la hipocresía (Rajoy, heyyy, estás incluido)… y el ansia de poder y de ser un figurón siempre va unido a ella.
Y, por cierto, ¿nadie se acuerda del papel asqueroso de Telecinco en España desde la guerra de Irak? ¿Hay que recordar que Berlusconi es il suo boss? Da igual, es rompedor… Hmm, los principios… qué maravillosos son… si se nos olvida todo cuando nos hacen caso…
Por último, Berlusconi se ha reunido con Putin (menuda reunión…). Como ya escribí aquí, existe el rumor más que fundado de que Putin se ha divorciado de su mujer y se va a casar con Alina Kabaeva, una atleta bellísima, cuyo padre es un tártaro musulmán. Pues bien, a una periodista rusa se le ocurrió preguntar. Y después de que Putin dijera que “no permitirá “interferencias” en su vida privada, señalando que ve “de modo negativo a las personas que pretenden meter sus marices en la vida privada de los demás”” (no aclaró cómo no iba a permitirlo… aunque me hago una idea), Berlusconi la apuntó como si tuviera un fusil. Ohh, qué bien, estoy encantada ante lo bien que tolera a los periodistas Il Ligoniere
Hmm, qué tranquilidad me da la foto. ¿A vosotros no?

Añadir sólo otra cuestión: en las elecciones ha desaparecido el partido comunista (como señala Stefania en su blog Free Thoughts, en el enlace señalado más abajo) de las Cámaras representativas. Como ella bien dice, quizás es la única buena noticia de las pasadas elecciones italianas.

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The two main party’s plans and leaders are the best proof of that.Pajamas Media via Free Thoughts: Federico Punzi, the author of Jim Momo, one of the leading Italian blogs, writes:

Italians feel more depressed, older, and poorer than a few years ago because their country is in a social and economic quagmire whose emblematic picture is the Naples’ rubbish crisis. This relative decline is due to political stalemate and to the endemic failure of economic liberalism. A bloated public sector, tax and spending in a vicious circle, hyper-regulation, vast public debt, and declining economic competitiveness are oppressing Italian citizens.

The growth is low (GDP will increase by 0.3-0.6% in 2008) and the quality of life is declining. Bureaucracy and confusing rules keep foreign investment away. The employment rate remains one of the lowest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The pension system is unsustainable and the labor market is inflexible. A 25-year-old worker with a short-term contract pays a quarter of his wages to fund the retirement of 58-year-old workers. 70% of Italians between 20 and 30 still live at their parents’ home.

Performance of Italian students are the worst among western countries. The wages are among the lowest of OECD member nations. According to a Bank of Italy study, the household head’s wages are almost unchanged from 2000-2006. Prices, meanwhile, have risen. This collapse of disposable income undermined first the savings and then the consumption of Italian households.

Hyper-taxation did not decrease the public debt (now at 106% as a proportion of GDP), but high taxes did serve the purpose of increasing public spending which now stands at 50.1% of Italy’s GDP. This increase in government spending neither made public administration more efficient nor served to fund the welfare state. Italy is the world’s 64th freest economy according to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom. It is ranked 29th out of 41 countries in the European region.

Italy is still waiting for a Thatcher, a Reagan, or at least a Blair. The problems, for the most part, are the same as they were in England and America and the solutions are well-known: lower and simplified tax rates, a strong diet for government, less onerous bureaucracy, effective civil jurisdiction, labor-market and public utilities liberalization, welfare and pension system reforms, education based on merit and competition, and research and development funds.

But both Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Veltroni are unlikely to accomplish the needed reforms to revive Italy’s staggering economy.

(…) Both main parties offer similar plans that seem to have been written to reassure voters. They promise benefits, assistance, housing projects, higher pensions, and minimum wages — in short, big new spending plans. But both Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Veltroni remain vague about reforms. Italy is a country neither for Thatcher nor for Blair. It is a country for economic liberals, both on the right and on the left.

The two main party’s plans and leaders are the best proof of that.