Month: July 2007

A Warm Anomaly


Floods in England and China, heat and drought elsewhere — a lot of people are talking about climate change and global warming. But over at the Weather Outlook Forum, posters have been wondering about the possible causes of an intense warm anomaly (top of map) in the ocean between Alaska and Russia…



Recent satellite photos of Grozny show that large areas of the Chechen capital’s infrastructure are still badly damaged and in need of repair. This tends to contradict the Kadyrov government’s claims that the capital is now subject to widespread “reconstruction”.

Posters to the Chechnya Short List (chechnya-sl) have been pointing out, the current Google Earth image of Grozny shows the capital partially obscured by a large white cloud. However, as one poster makes clear,

you can still zoom in on e.g. Minutka “Square” and see the total destruction, as well as the Potemkin activity. They have apparently erected some kind of nice white structure in the middle of Minutka, and there’s some car and truck traffic, but the image shows that the directly adjacent buildings have been destroyed down to their still visible foundations, and all the apartment buildings in the area are damaged.

You can also look at other areas and see exactly where the famous “reconstruction” has taken place – a few buildings along a road here, a single building there, in the middle of still almost total (I’d guess 90%) destruction in the urban areas. Those must be the places where friendly journalists and the CoE improvement crowd are taken on the KGB sightseeing tours.

An interesting detail is the fact that the the black smoke trails from the burning oil wells have disappeared. They used to look like the ones seen in Kuwait after the first Gulf War, and continued for years and years. Apparently the Russians or the Kadyrov gang have now managed to take full control of the oil theft, so the tit-for-tat burning of other gangs’ resources stopped.

Litvinenko murder was Kremlin-sponsored terrorism

The British government puts the blame for Alexander Litvinenko’s murder on the Russian government. From the Sunday Times:

The senior British official was unequivocal. The murder of the former KGB man Alexander Litvinenko was “undeniably state-sponsored terrorism on Moscow’s part. That is the view at the highest levels of the British government”.

This official had access to the latest police and intelligence findings, and he was reflecting the views of senior Home Office counter-terrorism officials, Scotland Yard detectives and others with close knowledge of the murder investigation. All confirmed last week that they believe the plot to poison Litvinenko in London last year was ordered by the Russian secret service, the FSB.

When strength is weakness

At Transitions Online, St Petersburg Times staff writer Galina Stolyarova wonders why, when other countries can confront the legacies of their homicidal dictators, Russia apparently finds it almost impossible:

Most probably, the problem comes down to a wrong perception of the nature of national pride. One of Putin’s favorite phrases is that Russia must become a strong state. Another is that “the weak are always beaten.”

In his view, apology is a sign of weakness. The Soviet Union was a strong state, and it never apologized for what it did. And for that reason, like his predecessors, Putin has offered no apologies to the foreign victims of Stalin’s crimes.

The president sees his political mission as restoring Russia’s status as a superpower. And the model of greatness he is using seems to be the Soviet Union, whose collapse he has famously described as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

If the country continues in that mindset, the new Russia could suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union It will induce not respect but merely fear. And eventually will suffer inevitable collapse.

An “adequate” response

Via the BBC:

Foreign ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said co-operation in counter terrorism would no longer be possible.

For at least the past five years Russia has been doing all that it can to increase the threat of terrorism to Britain’s shores, one of the most recent instances being the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. An “adequate” response indeed.

“We wanted to build a democratic state”

 death of a dissident

“We wanted to build a democratic, secular, pro-Western Muslim state, something along the lines of Turkey, and eventually join NATO,” Zakayev explained, “but then all of a sudden, all these Wahhabi appeared, with stacks of money, and started preaching a totally foreign brand of Islam. How do you think they got there? Through Moscow – they all had Russian visas!”

From Death of a Dissident, The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB, by Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko,Simon and Schuster UK, 2007.