From Russia With Love?

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‘Russia is not claiming the role of a superpower,’ Mr. Putin told al-Jazeera. ‘But Russia knows its own worth and we will strive to make the world multipolar.’

Wall Street Journal, 28 February, 2007

Vladimir Putin got Senator John McCain’s dukes up a few weeks ago at a security conference in Munich when he criticized US unilateralism. “The United States,” Putin said, “has overstepped its national borders, and in every area.” Whether Putin meant to antagonize America or cozy up to Europe or just speak his mind, his words were unmistakably a sign that Russia’s feeling its oats again. It’s rediscovered its self-confidence.

While America’s been obsessed since 2001 with the Middle East, lots has been happening in Russia. Like China, it’s forged ahead — and now arguably exists as one of several counters to US power. On the Iranian front, for example, the US can’t deal with Tehran exactly as it pleases: Moscow’s been using its power in the UN Security Council to oppose wide-ranging sanctions against Iran; it’s signed on build Iran’s first nuclear power plant; and it’s sold Iran millions of dollars worth of arms and defense systems.

What’s responsible for Russia’s renewed self-esteem? High oil and gas prices, for one thing: the country seems to be betting its economic future on petroleum, and so far it’s certainly raking in cash and building geopolitical muscle. Putin’s also consolidated power in the office of the president: he now nominates Russia’s 89 governors and appoints the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg; and he effectively acts unopposed by the Duma. No one really disputes that the 2008 Russian presidential elections (assuming they’re held) will be more than theatre to part the curtains for Putin’s hand-picked successor. The combination of renewed political stability — albeit at the cost of democratic freedom — and an uncommonly strong economy has made the majority of Russians rather content with the curent situation. Content enough not to — for the moment anyway — revolt against the string of dead journalists, the imprisonments and disappearances of political opponents, the disastrous situation in Chechnya, the cleverly muzzled media.

So: What’s to learn about the inner workings of Russia? What does domestic stability means for Russian action on the global stage? What kind of a mirror does Russia hold up to America? What might all of this tell us about our superpower trajectory? In one poll from last summer, 37% of Russians called the US an enemy — so what do they really think of us, and how does that matter?

Michael Specter

Staff writer, The New Yorker

Former Moscow Bureau Chief, The New York Times

Mark Kramer

Director, Harvard Project on Cold War Studies

Senior Fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

Pavel Podvig

Research associate, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University

Extra Credit Reading

Michael Specter, Kremlin, Inc, The New Yorker, January 29, 2007: “Since 1999, when Vladimir Putin, a career K.G.B. officer, was, in effect, anointed as President by Boris Yeltsin, thirteen journalists have been murdered in Russia.”

Andy Young, A new cold war? Don’t believe the hype, Siberian Light, February 12, 2007: “It’s not the start of a new cold war, but it is clear that not every country in the world shares the same worldview, and that Putin feels that Russia has the opportunity to become a standard bearer of sorts for countries who share one particular worldview. I actually found the speech quite refreshing.”

Candace Rondeaux and Lori Aratani, Intelligence Specialist’s Shooting Stirs Speculation, The Washington Post, March 4, 2007: “Two men shot Joyal about 7:35 p.m. Thursday, sources said. The shooting occurred four days after Joyal alleged in a television broadcast that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved in the fatal poisoning of a former KGB agent in London.”

Justin Raimondo, Phony “Dissidents”, Anti-War Blog, March 5th, 2007: “Every time a critic of Russia stubs his toe, Putin is going to be blamed. Logic is not a strong point with our New Cold Warriors.”

The Editors, Gangster President, The New York Times, March 3, 2007: “This week Vladimir Putin delivered another clear message about the kind of state Russia is becoming. He did so by nominating as the new president of the republic of Chechnya a man named Ramzan Kadyrov — an unspeakably savage and corrupt warlord.”

3:30

It’s complicated, because most people do live better than they ever did before, and most people don’t really get all that worked up about things that bother a few intellectuals in Moscow, like freedom of speech, and the ability to write and say what you want.

Michael Specter

12:50

I think it should be remembered the system of power in Russia has always been surrounding one man, sometimes one woman, but one person. And when Boris Yeltsin ran the Kremlin, he ran the Kremlin. And he picked a guy who was a cipher, who nobody felt would be anything more than a puppet, and when he ran the Kremlin, he suddenly wasn’t a cipher, and everyone responded to his whims. I only say that because I don’t think it’s all clear what’s going to happen when Mr. Putin leaves office.

Michael Specter

15:15

In Michael’s recent story, he cites Evgenia Albats saying that the K.G.B. was not reformed, but I would go beyond that. I don’t think it was a reformable organization. It should have been disbanded, and some new structure created that would have been much more politically controllable.

Mark Kramer

24:50

If you’re in Moscow, you can go get internet access, and there are all these bloggers writing whatever you might want to read, and some of them are quite perceptive, and they’re very critical. But in Tomsk, in Yakutsk, all across the country, there are not those choices.

Michael Specter

37:10

If you look at the recent steps that Russia has been taking, Russia actually was fairly reluctant to go ahead full-speed to supply nuclear fuel to Iran, for example. The fuel has been sitting there for, I think, three years now.

Pavel Podvig

40:25

To the extent that there was what I would describe as a broad sentiment seeking integration with the West under Yeltsin; that has really diminished under Putin. It’s not a return to the Soviet era, but it’s a sense that Russia is not part of the West and need not become part of the West, that it will be a great power on its own.

Mark Kramer

46:10

There’s actually no telling what will happen yet, even though I think we do see a continuation of the sort of corporate Kremlin. Who knows what’s going to happen. Maybe Mr. Putin will just decide to become Prime Minister, and rewrite the constitution in such a way that it’s a strong prime ministerial country. That would take about an hour.

Michael Specter

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  • I only hope our 2008 election (assuming its held) will be more than a theatre to part the curtains for the next phase of Americas further desent into fascism.

    As a lone superpower we will only get worse. America needs someone to stand up to us to save us from ourselves. I hate being the bully of the world.

  • I think it is instructive to look at the situation from Russia’s point of view.

    From the West – a united Europe has lashed out and invaded twice in recent memory. Once under a French dictator, another time under a German dictator.

    From the South – a horde of rapid religious zealots conspire to take over allied states and territory historically Russian.

    From the East – China. This is where the Mongels came from and put all of Russia under the yoke for centuries.

    From the North – America. Those damned Yanks still have nuclear arms – death could rain across the polar wastes in only minutes.

    Poor Russia! Surrounded on all sides by enemies and potential enemies.

  • Lumière

    Don’t worry about Putin standing up to the west – politicians say one thing to the masses and say another thing behind closed doors.

    Although oil is fungible, he needs US consumption to prop up his country’s economy.

    Btw, one of the largest finds was recently made in the Gulf of Mexico.

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/09/05/news/companies/chevron_gulf/index.htm

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/03/4.3.03/ACS-Cathles.html

    It is good to be US.

  • Sutter

    How about the shooting of Soviet expert Paul Joyal outside his home in the D.C. suburbs last week, just days after proclaiming that Putin was behind the Litvinenko assassination? The Washington Post is reporting today that Joyal was robbed, as if that cast great doubt on the “retribution” theory (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/04/AR2007030401333.html), but the robbery could certainly have been staged precisely to rack up a measure of doubt — lessening the diplomatic difficulties (does the US really want to confront Russia on this, or will we be happy to have an excuse not to do so?) while still sending a message to potential future critics.

  • Lumière

    Probably was a robbery – there is no point to cover up .

    They killed Litvinenko in a manner that left no doubt – that was the point. The Litvinenko message was: the Russian power elite will kill you and there is nothing you or anyone can do about it.

    Joyal said, “A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin: ‘If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you and we will silence you — in the most horrible way possible.’ “

  • Sutter

    I can’t say that it wasn’t just a robbery, but I don’t think the evidence is clear at this point. Certainly, this allows a diplomatic way out which also chilling criticism of the Putin regime. (Even if we were 75% sure it was just a robbery, some people who might otherwise have spoken out will not do so now.)

  • Sutter

    (Also, this did not happen in an area where there are lots of robberies.)

  • Lumière

    /// in the most horrible way possible.\\\

    He is still confused. It wasn’t the horribleness that mattered – it was their choice b/c it could only be done by a government and, even better, it was easily traced back to Moscow.

    The mollification of the masses with porno and Viagra will eventually wear off – soon everyone will be walking around with an AK47 over their shoulder.

    Water World, Mad Max?

    Ps. I don’t own a gun, you? I’ll probably wait until I have to pick a tribe – I hope I get into a good one.

    lol

  • Kind of piggy backing on what Michael Dunbar wrote about above: How much of what we are seeing going on now within Russia (Putin’s destruction of local democracy, etc…) have to do with our involvement in the Orange and Rose revolutions, and the possible brewing revolution in Kyrgyzstan? Speaking of the former Soviet section of central Asia, its almost as if there is this back door region to both Russia and China where we don’t see a lot of American engagement, but where it also seems like there is a chance for a breakout of democracy too? Just to put it shortly, is the democracy movement in Central Asia have anything to do with our topic? And, is Russia, with China, (two giant undemocracies) trying to control that movement?

  • Sutter

    I wouldn’t go quite as far as PeggySue, but I agree that one relevant question here is what, precisely, stops us from moving in Russia’s direction? We don’t have the ideological gap that was at play during the Cold War, just competing visions of capitalism and empire. And while I don’t think we’re close to where Russia is, some of the bulwarks of liberal democracy have eroded here in the US while we’ve been sleeping: Regular attacks on civil liberties, on the very notion of truth and fact and the role of fair process in sorting them out; the assault on long-standing political norms (things like not redistricting just because there’s a new political majority in your state), suggestions that the press’s criticism of our government constitutes aid and comfort to The Enemy, etc. etc. Can we — and should we — view Russia as a cautionary tale for what happens when the institutions of civil society become to weak a foundation for vibrant democratic process? In their case they never quite got to that point, and in our case we’re retreating from that point, but does it matter? Or are the cronyism and autocracy that have once again become Russia’s lot in store for us in more dramatic form as well?

  • Sutter

    …”too” weak a foundation…

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    The little man in the karate suite (Putin) is a piece of ‘Garbage’. What is coming his way cannot be mentioned in public!

    Ney’t hudah, bez dabrah!

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    [This comment has been deleted. Please refer to the rules — Greta]

  • Sutter

    Wow. Things I can’t do today: Expect that federal prosecutors won’t be fired for political reasons. Have democratic input on the appointment of new US attorneys. Take books out from the library without wondering who is going to label me a subversive for doing so. Hope that political redistricting will proceed on a decennial basis, as it has for decades, rather than at the whim of a new majority. Call friends abroad without being listened to (or at least knowing it is a possibility). Expect that those in urban areas will not have to wait 10 times as long to vote as those in wealthy suburbs. Enjoy a press corps that is not constantly harangued for aiding subversives. Question authority and have that questioning be viewed by those in power as strengthening, not weakening, democracy. And speak my mind online without eliciting loony responses from thugs who believe that the sum total of democracy is the right to vote. There’s a great deal that goes into making a functional democracy work. Yes, I believe a lot of the underlying bulwarks of democracy have eroded over the past 6 years. If you can’t see that (or choose not to), go for it, but please at least try to be civil about it.

  • Sutter

    By the way: I do not loathe myself, and I do not loathe my country. I do, however, loathe people who attempt to squash dissent and criticism of that country with grandiose attacks on those try to make sure it lives up to its aspirations.

  • Nick

    Sutter, re your 9:37 PM: imagine that list of your expectations and hopes one more time from the perspective of an American of Arab descent! Then just for fun, imagine the irony if not only were you Arab-American, but an atheist or nontheist!

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

    Civilly yours,

    N

  • Sutter

    Nick, I of course agree that it would be far worse if I were not a privileged white professional. Part of the point I wanted to make above is that the question “how does this affect YOU” is flawed. I (like you, I think) care about things that affect others aside from myself — Arab-Americans, Muslims, atheists, etc. — because (1) I care about those people themselves and (2) things that affect them affect the character of the nation as a whole.

  • “Tell me one thing you cannot do now that you could do before 911.”

    ditto of Sutters trcent posts and adding a few… (if I had more time there would be more)

    Protest without fear of getting pepperspray in my eyes.

    Believe that I live in a country that does not torture (OK, we funded torturers before 9-11 but now we just do it ourselves with impunity).

    Be an environmentalist without being labled the “No 1 domestic terrorist threat”.

    Claim that a person is innocent until proven guilty. (again, there were violations of this prior to 9-11 but now it is done without apology as if it were OK)

  • Nick

    Sutter, just to be clear: I support the pov your represented on this thread (and in general). I meant to embellish your point about the eroding foundations of our already-not-so-democratic republic, not critique it. If it didn’t read like that, I apologize.

    Were you hooked up to ROS a year ago? They offered some illuminating – and troubling – shows on the erosion of our ‘democratic’ foundations. Check the archives for shows like these:

    http://www.radioopensource.org/an-obsession-with-secrecy

    http://www.radioopensource.org/the-white-house-lawyers

    http://www.radioopensource.org/the-nsas-new-new-phone-database

    http://www.radioopensource.org/presidential-signing-statements

  • Nick

    Oh! And this too!

    http://www.radioopensource.org/orwell-revisited

    An impromptu little beauty…

  • Nick

    Right on, Peggy Sue.

  • Sutter

    I’m with you, Nick — sorry if I was unclear. I know you come and go, and I’m a relative newbie, but I know we’re sympatico on this stuff. Thanks for the clarification though. Thanks also for the links; I first found ROS when I heard Chris’s voice just about a year ago and said “Oh my god, is that Chris Lydon?!” So I may have missed those shows.

  • “Why don’t you take up painting or something?”

    Speaking of Painting the T-shirt on the guy with the red Russia tattoo above has a picture of…. I forget the guy’s name but he’s like the Richard Simmons of TV painting classes and although I believe he is deceased there is a line of paintbrushes with his brand. He always painted scenery with what he called “happy trees”. Interesting to see his photo juxtaposed to the Russia tattoo.

    And another thing… Godzilla, with the possible exception of painters like the one featured on the tattooed fellow’s T-shirt you surely do not mean to imply that painting is a benign activity?

  • His name is Bob Ross. And actually, if he likes “Happy Trees” he’s probably got an FBI file under No 1 domestic terrorist threats. The picture on the T-shirt above can also be seen on the Bob Ross Wikipedia page.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Ross

  • Igor

    Yes, I was interested in the t-shirt too, kinda looked out of place and vaguely familiar at the same time.

    I just can’t imagine the guy with the tattoo wearing Bob Ross t-shirt. Most probably knows nothing of the painter and the t-shirt most probably came from China, Bob Ross seemed to be wildly popular in the East, he bored me to death (from TV) when I was in South Korea in mid-90-s.

    In all, a Russian nationalist wearing a Chinese t-shirt with Bob Ross on it – gives you some idea about the world we live in 🙁

  • Igor

    Couldn’t find an audio link, so didn’t get a chance to hear what pundits said.

    A couple of thoughts.

    Forget about unipolar world, sole superpower, etc., that won’t last for long, with China and Europe getting economically stronger with every hour. I think in Munich Putin was a mouthpiece of these emerging challengers to USA hegemony and a sign of Russia aligning itself with them, quite predictably, if one cares to think.

    And on the domestic front, Putin obviously cannot admit that he’s selling out to Europe (mostly Germany) and China, so the rhetoric is of strong posture against USA, again, quite predictably.

  • Nick

    Igor, if you’re able, try this link at 9 PM Pacific Standard / Midnight Eastern:

    http://www.kuow.org/schedules/day_schedules.asp

    Look partway down the left side of the page for the ‘Listen Live’ options. You’ll be able to hear KUOW’s live stream that way, while we in Seattle hear it over the air.

  • Ohmygod… the Bob Ross wikipedia site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Ross has a link to….

    Tutorial to teach painting in the style of Bob Ross with Adobe Photoshop CS+

    OK, I’m turning off my computer now… ‘gnight all

  • hurley

    The estimable William Pfaff on Russia:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/05/opinion/edpfaff.php

    (You should bear him in mind if you the series on Europe.)

    And this from the aforementioned Perry Anderson:

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n02/ande01_.html

    (Ditto)

  • Lumière

    Peggysue sayz:

    Protest without fear of getting pepperspray in my eyes.

    Rolling Stones concert 1973 – wasn’t proteseting

    Also gassed at last Newport Jazz Festival Field festival in 1971 – just trying to hear some music !

    Believe that I live in a country that does not torture (OK, we funded torturers before 9-11 but now we just do it ourselves with impunity).

    Answered your own question

    Be an environmentalist without being labled the “No 1 domestic terrorist threat”.

    You said prior to 911 you were denied access to Canada, no?

    Claim that a person is innocent until proven guilty. (again, there were violations of this prior to 9-11 but now it is done without apology as if it were OK)

    This has never been true for the police – per them. everyone is guilty of something !

    Hate to tell ya, but GVB is 100% correct – nothing has changed it is just more visable.

    Now is the opportunity to speak against it and so do

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Sutter Says: By the way: I do not loathe myself, and I do not loathe my country. I do, however, loathe people who attempt to squash dissent and criticism of that country with grandiose attacks on those try to make sure it lives up to its aspirations.

    “Squash”? I am Godzilla! More like squisshh! No offence Sutter. I’m just letting off steam because of that scumbag Putin. At a time like this when global tensions are high and terrorists are running around, sometimes I just get pissed because people think that their individual privacy is more important than the safety of the country. Something tells me that after a few minutes of listening to your phone calls the FBI will understand that you are an American civilian who means no harm, and not a terrorist. Then they will squelch you and continue combing for “chatter” and linguistic probability elsewhere. You are not offended that some people take a proactive approach in defending the country – are you?

    Re: Take books out from the library without wondering who is going to label me a subversive for doing so.

    Well, are you a subversive? I own a copy of Catcher in the Rye. (I couldn’t read more than 15-20 pages it was so damned boring, but that’s beside the point). You don’t have to worry about stuff like that. Now, if you also happen to be purchasing large quantities of bullets and potassium nitrate while borrowing Catcher in the Rye from the library, then, Houston, we may have a problem! It isn’t any “one factor” that draws suspicion. It is usually a combination.

    Re: I do, however, loathe people who attempt to squash dissent and criticism of that country with grandiose attacks on those try to make sure it lives up to its aspirations.

    When you say “Attempt to squash”, you should really be more careful with your words. Dirt bag Putin ‘squashes’, Saddam Hussein was a ‘squasher’. To me it looks like you are confused about where you live. It is as if you can’t tell the difference between the United States Constitution and the Communist Manifesto.

    As I have said elsewhere on this site (in so many words) I encourage criticism and dissent. I am not going to get into it now, but there is a legitimate and illegitimate political left. However, when you say things like “Question authority and have that questioning be viewed by those in power as strengthening, not weakening, democracy” and “…Those [people who] try to make sure it lives up to its aspirations”. Running a democracy includes much more than the lopsided spewing of “right to privacy” clichés and anti-establishment rhetoric. This isn’t “fresh stuff” that you regurgitate. You are just saying it because it gives you a lift and makes you sound more important than you are.

    It sounds (now maybe I’m wrong, and please correct me if I am) but it ‘sounds’ as if you have discovered some secret about running a democracy that us lower IQ types never understood. Could it be that these things you speak of are so abstract that people like me just can’t get a handle on it? Would you please light the path for me? Perhaps we should give everyone in the country an IQ test, and whoever scores above a certain percentile will be eligible for the presidency. Would ya like that Sutter? Would you like to meditate over your uninformed and counterintuitive “buzz-phrased” opinions on the one hand, and who is patrolling the land, air, and sea, to see to it that human garbage like Vladimir Putin doesn’t walk in and take away your dreams on the other? Let me know what you come up with Sutter. I’m all ears.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    peggysue Says: Protest without fear of getting pepper spray in my eyes.

    That’s all that’s on your mind? “Pepper spray” LOL Wow! What do you need to protest for anyway? You have some kind of itch that you can’t scratch?

    Re: Believe that I live in a country that does not torture (OK, we funded torturers before 9-11 but now we just do it ourselves with impunity).

    Just because ‘you’ don’t like it or have the stomach for it, don’t ask others to roll over and play dead. Talk about judging others by ones own standards. Geeze!

    Re: Be an environmentalist without being labled the “No 1 domestic terrorist threat”.

    That’s because you don’t understand what the label means.

    Re: Claim that a person is innocent until proven guilty. (again, there were violations of this prior to 9-11 but now it is done without apology as if it were OK)

    Now there’s a statement.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    peggysue Says: you surely do not mean to imply that painting is a benign activity?

    Yes, I did mean to imply that.

    By all means … paint! What I’m sayin is when midgets play basketball it just looks funny.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Igor Says: And on the domestic front, Putin obviously cannot admit that he’s selling out to Europe (mostly Germany) and China, so the rhetoric is of strong posture against USA, again, quite predictably.

    Interesting comment, but, quite predictably, not totally honest. “Roobak roobaka vedi’t azdelikah”. Good luck … your gonna need it!

  • Sutter

    So, I logged in expecting to find some actual argument from GVB. Instead, I found a mix of ad hominem invective, bizarre assertions about what I believe (what exactly got you from what I said to IQ tests for voters??), and odd internal contradictions (you suggest that I’m repeating that which has already been said over and over, but you also suggest that I’m espousing some novel view of democracy that you are not bright enough to grasp — which is it?). I teach advocacy to law students. One of the basic lessons of advocacy is that when your discussant hasn’t said anything that warrants a response, you should not respond. With that in mind, I’m happy to rest on the merits and let the members of the audience come to their own conclusions based on what has already been said above.

  • rc21

    I love it when the likes of peggysue and others post such over the top statements about their lack of freedom and how Bush has turned the US into a police state. The fact is nothing could be further from the truth. Anti war protests take place on an almost daily basis. No one has been arrested or prosecuted for protesting the war.

    No one has been jailed for supporting environment friendly policies.People have been arrested for destroying private property, arson, vandalism, and spikeing trees in an attempt to injure and kill loggers. These things are commonly refered to as crimes.

    Yes suspected terrorists and people who have tried to kill US citizens have been rounded up and jailed. I see no problem with this.

    My favorite silly comment was peggysues post where she hoped the 2008 elections( assuming they would be held) will be more than a theatre to part the curtain for the next phase of Americas further desent into fascism.

    Do you know something the rest of us dont? What leads you to believe there will be no elections? Next phase of Fascism–Please ! What are you talking about? Do you really know what fascism is?

  • Lumière

    ////Yes suspected terrorists and people who have tried to kill US citizens have been rounded up and jailed. I see no problem with this.\\\

    Huge evidentiary and the right-to-redress problem:

    ///He claimed that “many of the detainees at the prison are actually innocent of any acts against the coalition and are being held until the bureaucracy there can go through their cases and verify their need to be released.” – Torin Nelson, who served as a military intelligence officer at Guantánamo Bay before moving to Abu Ghraib as a private contractor last year.\\\

    Regardless of her over-the-top assertions, I have to say that I laud peggysue’s activist role in our society.

  • Nick

    One thing since 9/11that hasn’t changed: many Americans (but not all) are only happy to continue to believe – even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary – all the jingo from our junior high government classes disguised as ‘education’ and consistently mischaracterized by shouting red-faced fools on TV and radio as ‘patriotism’.

    Sourly,

    N

  • Lumière

    ///….red-faced fools on TV…\\\

    More commonly referred to as the ‘freak show’.

    If Ann Coulter doesn’t wind up in an institution soon….

    Hey look at new topic !

    Legal Limbo at Guantanamo?

    “unlawful enemy combatants” can be imprisoned indefinitely with no legal recourse.

  • Here’s something not covered in the show: Russia turns on a dime, and with flair. From launching False Demetri back to Poland in a canon, moving your capital city to a swamp outside of your county’s proper borders, to the Communist Revolution, to the fall of the SU, and the assent of Putin, it’s always dramatic, and always a surprise.

    Also, the stat in the show that only 8% of Russians have internet is, well, wrong, it has to be. Use of the internet is wide spread, and growing. The stat must be old, and the internet is growing in leaps and bounds here. Here in Moscow they have the beginings of city wi-fi.. it’s for pay, but costs less then Verizon, and it currently covers the center, and now even some outlying regions, including my remote Uzni-Izmaylovo.

    Here’s a map of coverage: http://www.goldenwifi.ru/en/where/

    DSL and cable internet are also available everywhere in the city, it’s exploding, and don’t underestimate it or the ability of the Russians to grab hold of it. Take for example the fact that the Russians have taken to the cell phone like a fish to water. Little children have cell phones, I saw a bum stealing half eaten burgers off of empty tables at McDonalds who had a cell phone! I can’t prove it worked, but he was using it.