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Both disrupt the present and simultaneously. Rezaei: These stories are what kept me alive and kept me excited and kept me going as a child. There was a war going on at the time with Iraq and we ended up leaving the country. And there are very few things that I remember taking with me. Among those were 8 volumes of Nights books that my father used to read from.

They were very dear to me, quite heavy, but I made room in my suitcase for them , e. The utopians are purposely kept occupied and focused on working for yet more consumption: "No leisure from pleasure" online. Thousands of birds paved the channel with pebbles.

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The sources of these conversations are almost without exception un-attributed and their existence remains a mystery to me. Many of the conversations were apparently recorded in prisons, with or without permission of the authorities. Lenin is meant to have said? By whom is he meant to have said this? Where and when? Friends and acquaintances, some of whom have read much more than I have, are equally puzzled.

If Montefiore really thinks that Lenin spent his life praising the Terror in France he should immediately retreat to a library. Like many other people, Lenin understood that the Terror in France was an inevitable result of conflicts within the revolutionary process, much like those in the English Revolution see above.

If the term Bolshevism means anything at all it refers to the goals, tactics and policies of the Bolshevik Party. Montefiore does not identity the person who called Bolshevism a system based on blood-letting, nor does he provide any proof of the claim. Nor is it surprising that Montefiore does not record that the goals of the Bolshevik Party included ensuring full employment, a 7-hour working day, pensions at 50 or 55 years of age, universal free health care, and free education up to and including university studies.

If in fact Stalin did say this, he most certainly did not mean it as one old boy to another. Stalin was asking for an unvarnished assessment from Zhukov, untainted by subjective judgments or hopes. The emphasis on objectivity is linked to the study of dialectical materialism, which involves separating objective and subjective factors, particularly in regard to analyses of current or historical events and processes.

Of course, knowledge of dialectical materialism can never guarantee achieving a strictly objective assessment of real-life events. Thirdly, while there certainly exist many boring texts on dialectical materialism, Montefiore shows no sign of having understood its content or its significance, neither philosophically or practically. See text on refuting dialectical materialism above.

At last we have an explanation for the conflict with Trotsky. Stalin hated intellectuals, especially if they were Jewish. Montefiore apparently purchased container-loads of yellow stars which he pins on minor as well as major characters in his fable, often identifying one or more of their grand- or great-grandparents as Jewish. The relevance of this information to a portrait of Stalin is unclear. The Semitic nature of so many Soviet Communists immediately identified them as inimical to Western civilization as the Zionists maintain as well as the natural order of things, which they were sworn to pervert.

Worse and worse! And that Hitlerish mustache proves something, maybe he was hobnobbing with the Nazis in the Berlin beer halls — who knows? A taste for orchids — who is he kidding? German porn, really now — high heels, black net stockings, whips, exploding cigars — what a swine. Photos of Yagoda and photos of ferrets are available in Wikipedia. Interested scholars may want to compare them. I cannot detect a resemblance — but who knows? He had sparse but carefully combed hair.

This is supposedly very significant. It may well be that snub noses are signs of other types of degeneracy. This truly momentous discovery is worthy of inclusion in the memory books of all readers who are interested in learning the truth about Joseph Stalin. The main function of racist ideology is to justify the oppression of one people or class by another people or class.

As an ideology racism often involves profound contradictions, i. The mythology of the slaveholders in the US is typical, and was echoed by the European colonizers of Africa. Racist mythology is not limited to people whose physical appearance, including skin color, makes them recognizably different from their overlords. When Malcolm X returned to the US after a trip to Europe and Africa he said that he had realized that the basic conflict was not between black and white, but between rich and poor, i.

This was equivalent to signing his death warrant. Anti-Semitism is often included in the concept of racism. As a minority group, Jews in the US were subject to both prejudice and active discrimination, although their experience is by no means comparable to that of Afro-Americans or Amerindians. I learned more from my first wife, who was raised as a Catholic and educated, if that is the correct word, at a high-class convent school. The sexual menace is an integral component of the alleged threat from the lower depths. The mythological sexual menace of Communism is a bit more complex.

It arose originally as a reaction to the analysis of Western class society by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They pointed out that women were literally slaves who served lifetime sentences in what is now known as the nuclear family, and that their slavery involved sexual as well as economic and psychological subjugation.

They also emphasized that the classic nuclear family was and is a vital component in the process of inducing acquiescence to the class structure in both the working- and the middle class. The subservient position of females was as natural as that of black slaves, according to bourgeois mythology, since women were inherently inferior to men. A good summary and analysis of these arguments is given by Stephen A.

Marx and Engels wrote that a rational — socialist and subsequently Communist society — would ensure equality between the sexes, which would mean that women would no longer be economically dependent on the male half of society. It would also mean that a woman would be free to choose sexual partners on the basis of attraction and love instead of economic necessity. Both of these aims were largely realized and enabled by law in the DDR, for example. Marx and Engels firmly linked the emancipation of women to that of the working class.

It should be required reading in every university. An edition with an excellent introduction by the American anthropologist Eleanor Leacock was issued some years ago by International Publishers in New York. Bourgeois anti-Communist propaganda became increasingly more strident as the working-class movement grew in power in the second half of the 19th century.

The threat of a drastic change in gender relations was a key item. The Jacobins of the French Revolution had been accused of the same dreadful tendencies. The gravity of the perceived sexual menace of Communism is reflected in two typical accusations, cited by Losurdo All young women of 18 years or more were obliged to register at the Bureau, which assigned them to randomly selected men to whom they were obliged to subordinate their bodies and their souls.

Excessive sexual desires and powers were often attributed to Jews and Communists in Nazi propaganda, particularly in films, many of which portray Communists as skin-headed satyrs with prognathous jaws. Tystnaden , which is partly set in an unidentified Eastern European country where tanks rumble through the streets. Bergman adds a strong dose of standard bourgeois pornography in a scene where a blonde Swedish woman wearing a garter belt and black net stockings is shown being penetrated from behind by one of the unshaven proletarian monsters with super-sized libidos.

It is perhaps symptomatic that Montefiore has not to my knowledge devoted any attention to the high-volume criminal trafficking and enslavement of women and girls from the former Comecon countries to Western Europe, including the UK, of which he is presumably a citizen.

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Montefiore and like-minded colleagues might want to give some thought to the question of why trafficking in women was unknown in the Comintern countries, but I doubt that they are interested in such mundane subjects. It is possible that Montefiore suffers from a fixation on large female breasts. According to Boris A. He has apparently not learned that the two things people lie about most are sex and money.

He cavorted at orgies with prostitutes, but was also an enthusiastic bisexual, having enjoyed avid encounters with his fellow tailoring apprentices, soldiers at the front and even Bolsheviks like Filipp Goloshchekin, who had arranged the murder of the Romanovs. Heavens to Betsy! Ezhov married a Jewish groupie flapper nymphomaniac. That must prove something. Yezhov consoled himself with a series of drunken bisexual orgies in his Kremlin apartment.

His nephews brought him girls but he also returned sic! When one crony, Konstantinov, brought his wife to the party, Yezhov danced the foxtrot with her, pulled out his member, and then slept with her. When I opened my eyes, I saw that Yezhov had shoved his member into my mouth. This fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of Soviet terror serves as a smoke-screen to divert attention from gross historical inaccuracies see below.

It also opens new vistas for academics who wish to establish new research turfs devoted to the sexual conduct of government ministers and senior civil servants. New-vista history might open with an investigation of the sex-lives of British cabinet ministers between the world wars, a subject which to my knowledge has been neglected in the West. Researchers could describe the droves of small boys and male adolescents recruited for the pleasure of the masculine denizens of Whitehall, not to mention romantic evening trysts with well-hung Guardsmen in St.

The relevance of this type of historiography may not be immediately apparent, but Montefiore demonstrates that it has a wide potential market appeal. The sexual menace of Communism is not limited to a limited circle of high-ranking Party officials, however cf. Sexual brutality was exhibited on a mass scale by the personnel of the Red Army, which in the West is normally seen as the greatest raping machine in history. This viewpoint is shared by Montefiore, who claims that the Soviet soldiers raped 2 million German women. The 2 million rape victims are said to include 1. A large minority, or possibly the majority, are thought to have been gang-raped, according to Beevor.

Of an estimated , women who were raped by Soviet soldiers in Berlin, 10, died, most of them by suicide. The source for this claim is apparently a doctor named Gerhard Reichling, whose professional status and political affiliations are not given. This is unfortunate, in the light of the tendency of many Germans to accuse the Allies — not only the Soviet Union — of sexual and other atrocities see Bower. Personnel at two major hospitals in Berlin claim that between 95, and , women were raped, according to Beevor. He also writes that the shrieks of the victims could be heard every night because all the windows in Berlin had been broken, although no one who heard them is identified.

Another source referred to by Beevor is the anonymous author of a diary. Such sources are worthless and would never be used by a serious historian. Rape occurs in all wars, on all sides, not least because war is a brutalizing and not an ennobling experience. What is the basis for the estimate of 2 million victims?

How was it possible to determine the figure of 1. Were the rapes reported? By whom? To whom were the reports submitted? Is it probable, or even possible, that German field or sector commanders were interested in or capable of keeping records of rapes committed by Soviet soldiers?

Subtracting 1. Which parts? Who reported these rapes? Who compiled the figures? As for the rape victims in Berlin, the basis for the estimate of about , is not given. Where are those journals and certificates stored? Who has examined them? Rapes were certainly committed by Soviet soldiers, as by soldiers in all other armies. However, the subject of rape by American and other Western soldiers is virtually never discussed.

The book was first published in a French edition in , and then in Italian in It has not been published in the US, to the best of my knowledge. It is based on records of court cases, not on unsubstantiated or unsubstantiable estimates from sources whose reliability is never assessed. Among other things, Lilly shows that black soldiers were often punished much more severely than their white comrades-in-arms. What happened in Budapest? He emphasizes that after the Red Army arrived in Budapest,. Rapes were not limited to women, however.

A large part of the Red Army consisted of female soldiers, and they also wanted to have some fun. Many young men were picked up in trucks to the laughter of these large-breasted, powerful Amazons. Particularly attractive were priests, who relied on their black robes [for safety] and were incautious enough to venture out into the streets during the first days [of the Soviet occupation].

My translation from the Swedish. Montefiore reinforces this image by alleging that Beria was a sadist and a sexual monster of virtually unmatched proportions. Men who are attracted to such women are probably thoroughly depraved. Goodness gracious! Bolshevik amazons! A few examples are sufficient. In other words, no one has ever seen the list.

The numbers may be of interest to future historians, because they require explanation. This would add up to 8 women per month or 96 per year. Even if Beria and his bodyguards were only working half-time on this project, at the end of two years the total would be close to , not counting subsequent years until , when Beria died.

Estimates of 39 or 79 therefore seem improbably low. When the principal argument of a book referenced by an author is in direct contradiction to his own claims, it is reasonable to expect some sort of explanation. Montefiore here is playing fast-and-loose with known facts. As early as the summer of two high-ranking officials openly and harshly criticized the actions of the NKVD, and one of them called for a special commission to investigate it.

Both were arrested by Ezhov on false charges. They accused him of illegal use of government funds and also of the secret execution of a number of prominent party members without investigation or a court examination. In January the Central Committee Plenum produced a resolution criticizing excessive vigilance. Zhdanov, who played an important role in drafting the January resolution.

Stalin, Molotov and others who signed orders for executions were relying on the accuracy of the charges presented by the NKVD, just as heads of state in other countries rely on the intelligence reports provided by their security agencies. The number of executions declined by Montefiore does not mention that Beria oversaw the arrest and prosecution of NKVD personnel — and others — who were found guilty of illegal repression, torture, falsification of evidence, and widespread killings.

More than , people were released from prison, and Beria put an end to abusive treatment that had been initiated and approved by Ezhov see Thurston. The dynamics of events in the Soviet Union in the second half of the s are extremely complex. The primary external factor was the continuous pressure from the capitalist countries, which until the outbreak of World War 2 took the form of espionage as well as both political and economic warfare. The primary internal factors included opposition to the policies of the Stalin government by members of the military high-command and the security forces, as well as current and former members of the Bolshevik Party, many of whom were linked to Trotsky.

This opposition took the form of conspiracies to overthrow the government, some of which were exposed at the so-called Moscow Trials in Opposition also took the form of widespread sabotage see above, Littlepage that was not invisible to industrial workers, who were often aware, or thought they knew, that their superiors were engaged in sabotage see Scott.

But at the same time many people who were actually guilty of sabotage and other crimes were also arrested and imprisoned or executed. The image of Stalin as the instigator of the repressions is seriously questioned not only by Thurston, but by others such as Rittersporn and even Getty, Naumov and Manning see citations in previous section. All this occurred against a background of a successful drive to industrialize the country, a steady improvement in living standards and a vast expansion of social services such as health care and education.

It is conceivable that the government headed by the leaders of the Bolshevik Party may have had something to do with these developments when they were not busily engaged in fulfilling their all-consuming and often deviant sexual desires. The social insurance laws, whose application was directly connected with the trade unions, worked well. Paid vacations, sick money [sickness pay], free medical attention, rest homes were universally enjoyed and taken for granted.

This service was generally appreciated, but usually attributed to the Soviet power in general, to the Bolshevik regime, rather than to the trade unions. Perhaps she and other American experts on the history of the Soviet Union might want to explain why the benefits that Scott names are not taken for granted by the US working class in , three quarters of a century years later.

The acceptance and praise that his book has earned is an accurate measure of the degeneracy of the mainstream of Western society,. Like Montefiore, Applebaum clearly defines her political position in her Introduction. Applebaum makes no pretense to objectivity. She is squarely on the side of the Tsarist ruling class, which she thinks was being unfairly dispossessed. Nationalization of private property was robbery. How would Applebaum describe privatization of public property? Were these values shared by the ruling class and their subjects? The reality of class conflict does not exist for her.

She seems incapable of understanding that the Soviet prison system was part of a revolutionary process. As indicated previously, the Russian Revolution did not end in , or with the expulsion of the last foreign troops in Like other revolutions, it was a prolonged process that involved conflicts between different groups of revolutionaries as well as between the leaders of the revolution and its enemies, domestic and foreign. The Soviet Gulag developed during this process and reflected these conflicts. The Gulag also reflected the interests of the state. Prison systems always do. Many innocent Soviet citizens were imprisoned, and many miscarriages of justice occurred, which is only to be expected in a country where the judicial system at the time of the Revolution was rudimentary, to say the least.

Tsarist Russia was a class society ruled by owners of private property, and its justice was aimed at the poor and the unruly, as in all other such societies, including those in contemporary Europe and North America. The new Soviet judicial system adopted many of the features of established systems in capitalist countries, but its justice was aimed in a different direction. For the first time in history, a legal system was mot aimed at the poor and the dispossessed, but at those who wanted to maintain the rule of the propertied minority.

This is regarded as cruel and inhuman treatment by Applebaum and other Western chroniclers. Definitions of common criminals are no less a question of class perspective, as the history of Western jurisprudence demonstrates. Penalties ranging from imprisonment to corporal and capital punishment for idleness, insubordination, unemployment, vagrancy, begging and other social evils that are generated by poverty in a class society have been part of Western penal codes for many centuries. Expropriation of both private and commonly owned property was a privilege reserved for royalty, the nobility and the church, and in later times for capitalists armed with lawyers and hired legislators.

Nobody likes to lose, and the threat of losing property, power and privilege that was posed by the new Soviet regime was a virtual nightmare. It still is. It was also inevitable that conditions in the Soviet prison camps would vary widely, as Applebaum admits. The nature of the work performed by camp inmates also varied widely, as it does in Western prisons:.

Without a doubt, the range of economic activity within the Gulag was as wide as the range of economic activity within the USSR itself.


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The Gulag administrators themselves preserved a photo album solely dedicated to the goods that inmates produced. Among other things, there are pictures of mines, missiles and other army equipment; car parts, door locks, buttons; logs floating down rivers; wooden furniture, including chairs, cabinets, telephone boxes sic! A chapter describing the first Gulag camp begins with a poem which laments that. Applebaum provides no details about how the princes and barons obtained their crowns, the nature of the entertainment that was enjoyed by this parasitic nobility prior to the Revolution, or how they obtained financing for their diversions.

As proof she cites the first Bolshevik decree on bribery:. From the very earliest days of the new Soviet state, in other words, people were to be sentenced not for what they had done, but for who they were. By who? This statement does not correspond to the experiences of the millions of Soviet citizens who were struggling to emerge from the morass of ignorance and poverty.

John Scott writes of the schools and colleges that had been established at Magnitigorsk emphasis added :. Every night from six to twelve the street cars and buses of Magnitogorsk were crowded with adult students hurrying to and from schools with books and notebooks under their arms, discussing Leibniz, Hegel or Lenin, doing problems on their knees, and acting like high-school children during examination week in a New York subway. These students, however, were not adolescents, and it was not examination time.

They were just the run of the population of the Soviet Union making up for several centuries of lost time. Masha was born in in a village about half-way between Moscow and Leningrad.

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Her parents were poor peasants, illiterate descendants of serfs. They insisted that their children attend the village school which went up to the fourth grade. When Masha started in , her oldest sister was the teacher. They were living in a country that had been devastated during the War of Intervention. From the incredible poverty and suffering of the civil-war period, the Russian people were working their way up to a higher standard. She was taught by her youngest daughter. The higher schools paid stipends to their factory and laboratory. She worked four hours a day in the local adult education school.

Masha was very happy in Magnitogorsk. She felt that the world was at her feet. Then she would teach, or perhaps take graduate work. Not only this, she was living in a town which had grown up from nothing just as she herself had. Living conditions were improving as the pig-iron production of the mill increased. She felt herself a part of a going concern. Hence her spontaneous pity for me, whom she first saw as a cast-off from a bankrupt and degenerating society. After they were married, Masha and Scott visited her home village during one of their paid holidays.

Old Ivan Kalinovich, her father, was a kindly, bearded peasant with a deep voice and horny hands. He was a member of the local collective farm administration, and was heart and soul for collectivization. He spoke slowly and simply to me of what the collective farm had done in the village. Everyone had bread. The flax crop was larger than ever before, and there was more livestock.

To be sure, there was some resistance. Some of the old peasants still preferred individual farming, but they would learn…. The village and the fields looked poor. There was no machinery at all. Tractors and combines were being sent to the grain regions in the Ukraine and Siberia where better soil and larger agricultural units made them more effective…. From the standpoint of agricultural technique and material standards, the village functioned and lived more or less as it had during the years before , I learned, although there were two new elements.

In the first place, many of the young people went off to the cities to go to school and then worked in industry, leaving the village short-handed. In the second place, there was a new spirit in the village. They were working, not only for themselves as they had during the first years of the revolution, but for the Kolkhoz, for their collective benefit. They were working together. Little fields had been made into big ones, work was done by brigades. On the other hand, whereas before the revolution they had worked twelve or fourteen hours a day, now they put in eight hours.

What was gained by collective effort was spent in decreased working hours. Production was about the same as it had been twenty years before. This, incidentally, was true by and large of Soviet agriculture as a whole, though in some sections like the Kuban and Western Siberia numerous new large tractor-worked agricultural units produced many times more than previously. As we have seen, agricultural production increased generally during the s, but the first wave of mechanization focused, as Scott indicates, on the large and fertile grain-producing regions. Not at least for Ivan Kalinovich and most of his neighbors.

This is a lie. Like the majority of German bourgeois, Heidegger was an enthusiastic supporter of Nazism and a life-long anti-Semite until the day he died. I do not propose to waste time on Arendt, whose speculations are untenable. In fact, the first targets were the trade unions, Communists and Social Democrats, for whom the camp at Dachau was originally intended when it was established in , the year Hitler came to power see Chapter 3. Like the Forum for Living History and other Western historians, Applebaum falsifies the history and nature of Fascism.

In Europe? Why is the United States of America not worthy of mention? Such ideas usually reflect the material interests of a class, and include justifications for actions that promote and protect such interests. The carnage of World War 1 was not generated by an intellectual climate. It was generated by the material interests of European capitalists who were intent on extending and protecting their imperial domains.

However, Majdanek and Auschwitz also contained labor camps, she writes. Applebaum here displays breathtaking and possibly willful ignorance of the slave-labor system in Nazi Germany. The pathetic pretense that a tiny number of prisoners did a few weeks of forced labor is directly refuted by Borkin, among many others, and by testimony at the Nuremberg Tribunal.

The Nazi slave-labor system was huge, and it generated magnificent profits for German capitalists. About 10 million Jewish and non-Jewish slave laborers were supplied to concentration camps, factories, and farms under the administration of Albert Speer see Billstein, Fings, Kugler and Levis. They had to be reminded that maltreatment of slaves could be counter-productive, and that they could not count on prompt replacement of those who died in the inhuman conditions that helped to maximize profits, especially when the Red Army was driving westward and the supply was dwindling.

Although employers were to some extent forced into sic! Denial of class conflict is based on a combination of ignorance and ideological blindness. For a would-be historian, it leads to both willful and unwitting evasions as well as lies. The Soviet prison system is thus presented by Applebaum as a gigantic punitive apparatus designed to extract economic profits, comparable only with Nazi Germany.

But in the Soviet Union both monetary and non-monetary profits were used to develop socialism, not to enrich a minority. For Applebaum and others, this fact is insignificant. Equally insignificant is the fact that the German slave-labor system was part of a tradition of slave labor that has always been part of the Western market economy and has reached global proportions, starting with the Spanish conquest of Latin America. The bulk of the monetary profits enabled by their labor is appropriated by owners of corporations large and small. It is not used to improve the living conditions of the Western public in general or the working class in particular.

Can it be assumed that Applebaum is ignorant of this fact? Slave labor in the United States of America has not been and is not currently limited to the use of Afro-Americans. Similar procedures were used to supply white slaves to Australia. Following the American Revolution, slavery was institutionalized in two forms. The best known is the chattel-slave system in the southern states. The second form of slavery was the use of convicts for economic gain. In the northern states, most of them were white. The purpose of the institution was to punish inmates and convince them to genuinely repent their crimes.

Forced labor was seen as a valuable contribution to the process of repentance. Silence was the rule for all prisoners. They were not allowed to speak during the day, when they worked. They spent the night in solitary confinement, also in silence. According to Wikipedia, the Auburn model also involved. The prisoners marched in unison and had to lock their arms to the convict in front of them. The prisoners had to look to one side and were not allowed to look at the guards or the other inmates.

Within a few years a local businessman in Auburn was given permission to open a production facility inside the prison. The prisoners who worked in it were unpaid. The furniture and other items they produced were sold to public authorities. Soon afterward the directors of the penitentiary started hiring out convicts under a bidding system.

The winning bidder had the right to use them as slaves but was obligated to provide food and lodging. This became known as the Auburn System. For economic reasons, most American prisons came to be patterned after Auburn and were as much silent factories and involuntary [slave] labor pools as they were bleak prisons.

Auburn Prison, in fact, turned a profit in the early years of its existence. It was an article of faith that these prisons would not only be successful in transforming idle and corrupt men into virtuous laborers, but that they were examples of model communities from which the large society could benefit as well. The Boston Prison Discipline Society reported that the Prison Program would greatly promote order, seriousness, and purity in large families, male and female boarding schools, and colleges.

Could we all be put on prison fare, for the space of two or three generations, the world would ultimately be the better for it. Indeed, society should change places with the prisoners, so far as habits are concerned, taking to itself the regularity, and temperance, and sobriety of a good prison. Discipline was regarded as the key to success of the congregate prison, and one rule soon emerged as the key to discipline. That rule was silence, a silence so profound and so pervasive that it became the most awesome and striking feature of the fortress-like prisons of America.

From coast to coast, from San Quentin to Sing Sing prisons they were usually built by unpaid convicts, i. Unpaid convict labor in the Soviet Union is generally referred to as slave labor by Western historians, including Montefiore and Applebaum, but the term is not often applied to slave labor in the US and other Western countries, where the tradition is alive and well. All convicts who had worked on the canal were given their freedom. By law, UNICOR may only sell its products to Federal departments, agencies, government institutions, and their authorized contractors or representatives.

It is safe to assume that many if not all of such contractors are privately owned, and that many if not most of them are part of the so-called military-industrial complex, i. We recognize the importance of working smart to give you the most for your money — particularly in these times of heightened budgetary constraints. Regulations requiring inmates to work vary among the 50 US states, but in reality everyone has to labor in one way or another.

The number of inmates working in privately owned prisons has increased steadily since the s. Wages in both types of prisons are low enough to compete with foreign low-wage countries. Under the Common Law principle of freedom of contract, if a party chooses English law as the law of the contract and the law of the forum, then English law applies. As long as there are assets outside Russia, an English judgment can be enforced. Another less public and therefore popular option is to submit a disputed deal to arbitration outside of Russia.

Any legal battle will then take place behind closed doors. Usually there will be a settlement before the arbitrators rule. If the arbitrators do make a ruling, then the losing party pays up. If for any reason the losing party does not settle, the arbitrators' ruling can be registered as a judgment and then enforced. Huge numbers of Russian citizens and businesses also seek redress before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

As of December , there were over 40, Russian applications, almost 29 percent of the total pending followed by Turkey, with almost 11 percent, Romania, with 8. The Strasbourg rulings are not merely symbolic; under a fully ratified treaty, the Russian Federation is legally bound by the European rights court's rulings, and the court's case law is supposed to be integrated into the Russian legal order.

This can cause huge distress to the Russian political establishment. Once an application is made in Strasbourg, the Russian state seeks to attempt to remedy the complaint. After some equivocation the Russian state usually pays up for fear of further rulings of non-compliance. The European rights court's impact is reinforced by the publicity given its rulings, which in turn bring in more cases brought by Russians who have long-running legal disputes with the state.

Examples range from high-profile cases like those involving Chernobyl workers seeking redress for the government's failure to pay sickness benefits, to those involving single mothers in the Russian city of Vorenzh obtaining back payments of their EURa-month maternity pay. This international legal dimension is having an impact on Russian society, high and low. Lawyers arguing before Russian commercial courts are increasingly crafting their arguments to make a case in Strasbourg, thereby creating pressure for the Russian judiciary to act in compliance with the European Court of Human Rights.

However, while more cases are being filed in Russian courts, and while judges now rule against the state in many more cases, local pressure against litigation and long delays in judgments actually being satisfied remain a reality, as do the problems of corruption and political pressure. In major commercial cases, Russian litigants are still likely to go to English courts or foreign arbitration tribunals.

Large numbers of young Russian lawyers are moving to London, where they are learning modern commercial law procedures in a strong rule-of-law environment. Many will become the legal troops who could build and strengthen the Russian legal system. President Medvedev says he recognizes that the rule of law is vital to the modernization of Russia. Does he want to continue to rely on the Strasbourg and London courts, or does he want those lawyers and the rule of law to come back home? It requires drivers to paint cars a standard color with a check pattern, install yellow "taxi" indicator lights, drive with a meter and give a check and receipt to every passenger.

It also obliges taxi drivers to register as individual entrepreneurs, makes it illegal to cross administrative boundaries without a license from both districts, and significantly increases fines for violations. Taxi drivers complain that the law will cost individual drivers "tens of thousands of rubles," drive up fares and ultimately criminalize thousands of honest drivers. It is not Moscow, and it simply bears no relation to the situation you are describing," one audience member declared to loud applause.

In a declaration drafted for the meeting which was also attended by senior officials from the Transportation Ministry, the Moscow city government and United Russia delegates from taxi drivers' associations across the country said the law was ineffective, created incentives for corruption and required taxi drivers to collect documents and upgrade vehicles in an unrealistically short time. Vyacheslav Lysakov, a member of the Front's coordinating council who chaired the meeting, said the purpose of the consultation was to come up with amendments to the law before it comes into force next month, but dismissed criticism that the consultation had come "too late.

Angry taxi drivers are planning a public protest in Moscow on Aug.

Deputy Moscow Mayor Nikolai Lyamov promised to "evict" bombili from taxi ranks and key spots at airports and railway stations. According to the city government's own estimates there are about 40, illegal taxi drivers in the capital, compared with just 10, licensed drivers.

At first sight, all of that indicates that the situation with the Defense Ministry and its performance is improving. Unfortunately, experts question validity of this premise. They point out that complete recovery is still far in the future and that all efforts are but cosmetic. In other words, the measures taken never reach the very basis of corruption mechanisms within the Defense Ministry. Regardless of the ever increasing military spendings, brand-new military hardware makes it to the troops but infrequently, the state defense order is regularly frustrated, and the military complains that it lacks money for rearmament and even fuel for exercises.

Russia is a country with the fifth largest military budget in the world. Its Defense Ministry in the meantime is a black hole that swallows up colossal sums with little to show for it. Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin called the rapid growth of the military budget "a new challenge" and suggested annual reduction of the state defense order by billion rubles. Had these colossal sums been used properly, i. Unfortunately, they are not. Up to 20 trillion rubles will be poured into modernization of the Armed Forces over the next decade.

President Dmitry Medvedev himself in the meantime says that every fifth ruble that reaches the Defense Ministry is pilfered.

National Minorities in Eastern Europe

According to the Military Prosecutor General's Office, military corruption cost the Russian state upwards of million rubles in alone. Charges were pressed against six generals and more than senior officers. More than 30, economic crimes misuse of federal property and violations in the sales of surplus assets over the last eighteen months cost the country more than 1 billion rubles.

Nearly 1, violations were uncovered in the use of the finances set aside for implementation of the state defense order. Neither is the situation any better in Frustration of the state defense order by the Northern Shipyards fomented a scandal not long ago. The matter concerns 5. Judging by the recent scandals, the Navy appears to be the worst corrupt arm of the service. Budget funds there are embezzled with flair and gusto.

Zvezdochka Base Director General Fyodor Barashko, for one, embezzled million rubles when the Pyotr Veliky was repaired at this facility. For some reason, the Defense Ministry contracted Zvezdochka to repair reactors of the Pyotr Veliky and some nuclear submarine even though this facility lacked the necessary licenses. What was the Defense Ministry thinking about? Said Andrei Zolotkov, an expert with Bellona, "When non- professionals start fooling around with nuclear reactors, it might result in a catastrophe. If, however, it was all done just in order to pilfer the funds, then we might hope that Zvezochka's so called specialists never even touched the reactors It is businessmen contracted within the framework of the state defense order who get caught and who face the music - they and low-rank officers.

The scope of corruption within the Special Construction Department enraged Medvedev so much that he fired its commander General Nikolai Abroskin and his five assistants. Nothing will help but rearrangement of the whole system which is not easy because this system has patrons in high places.

No details are available at this point but it seems that it is this episode Fridinsky mentioned when he said that the Main Directorate of Military Medicine and the Directorate of State Defense Order had bought some medical gear tomographic scanners at 3. According to Fridinsky, " Russian Navy Commander Vladimir Vysotsky said that the cost of the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine built at the Sevmash was "too steep".

Said Dmitry Abzalov of the Political Situation Center, "Restricted competition and absence of audit within the framework of the state defense order result in a situation where but few companies participate in contests. No wonder prices go up. No market mechanisms are working. Military objects of the Defense Ministry occupy up to 20 million hectares. Inspections in the Southern Military District and in the Moscow region resulted in the return to the state of more than million rubles worth of real estate.

Thanks to military prosecutors, an auction was cancelled in Krasnodar where a cantonment worth over 1. Military corruption is diverse and colossal because of the ability of crooks in uniforms to hide their performance from general public behind the veils of military secrets and classified information. The Military Prosecutor General's Office said that 6. Said Igor Korotchenko, Director of the Center for Analysis of Global Arms Trade, "Corruption in this sphere will be eradicated only when articles of the military budget are open Once the elections are over, future episodes of corruption will be kept under the lid.

Fifty-three percent of Russians now use the Internet, up from 39 percent last year, state-run research center VTsIOM said today in an e-mailed statement from Moscow. The number of daily users has risen 31 percent, up from 5 percent in The holding also owns a stake in Facebook Inc. The number of Russian-language Twitter users passed 1 million last month, Yandex NV, the operator of Russia's largest search engine, said in separate statement today. President Dmitry Medvedev and his economic aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, are among the country's regular users.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed by VTsIOM said that social networks such as Facebook, the world's largest, and domestic rivals Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki are the best places to meet new people online. Thirty-six percent said they have already met people through the Internet, the survey showed. Almost one-third of respondents, 32 percent, said the Internet was "no place for meeting people. The survey, conducted July , included 1, people and had a margin of error of as much as 3.

It happened again! Still another theater season in Moscow ended. You'd think with theater as good as it is here we could find a way to make it last forever. Well, if you do that, fax me. I'm at the beach. In the meantime let's take a look at what gave the season flavor and personality. I must say, I thought this was the best season of at least the last three or four.

Here are my 19th annual Moscow Times theater awards to prove it. Trend of the Year: New drama being interpreted creatively by directors. Ever since the new drama movement arose a decade ago, it has been considered imperative to stage new plays "as written," with no directorial embellishment. That changed drastically this season. And for the better, I might add. I love theater with great directorial vision. Read on for details. Admit it! You've been waiting for this! When this gorgeous show premiered I said I'd eat my hat if I didn't name it best design at year's end.

Well, there were many attractive, effective and intriguing sets throughout the year, but there was never any contest for this award. Designed by a team of six led by director Ivan Popovski, "Alice" wins hands down. One of the most beautiful and visually sophisticated shows I've ever seen in Moscow. Kurochkin is a chameleon. Every play he writes is unlike the last, yet each new work is mature and convincing. But while demonstrating that thesis on the surface, Kurochkin proves just the opposite on another level. Masterful, witty writing. Beautiful, brisk and boldly inventive, this was one of the great Georgian director's best shows in years.

Vladimir Pankov grabbed this simple, moving play about a gang member having second thoughts, and transformed it into a phantasmagoria that pilloried George W. Starring the inspiring Alla Sigalova as a famous choreographer staging her latest show in the provinces, "Casting" completely Russianizes the original story, giving the characters local backgrounds, problems and viewpoints.

It is as sharp as a tack, and Sigalova is as breathtaking as the fleet-footed, slyly manipulative choreographer. The lyrical Bunin got a tough-love reading from Krymov, who created warm, affectionate portraits of women who are skewered, asphyxiated and otherwise disembodied by their insensitive men.

This funky play about the consequences of Belarussian farmers unknowingly plowing across the European border received a marvelously obtuse, futuristic staging from director Filipp Grigoryan. Push Comes to Shove: Backstage jostling was nastier than ever this year, with managing directors and artistic directors involved in scandals at numerous theaters, including the Mayakovsky, the Stanislavsky and the School of Dramatic Art. There's only one Big Kahuna in this town, though Yury Lyubimov, the reigning champion of all who would monger scandals. Lyubimov resigned from his Taganka Theater thrice this year, the last time coming after a confrontation with his actors in the Czech Republic in June.

By all appearances, the third time was the charm. Lyubimov is gone. The Taganka lives on without him. Sublime as an orphan girl whose life falls apart before her eyes, she was immediately tabbed by Eimuntas Nekrosius for a part in his high-profile production of "Caligula.

See a Problem?

This attempt to stage something based loosely on Konstantin Stanislavsky's famous memoir, "My Life in Art," was as risky as they come. It was weird, quirky and unwieldy. And by the end, it reached some spectacular heights exploring what it's like to doubt and believe in yourself while your life hangs in the balance. Vyrypayev, a master of monologue and dialogue, set out to mine depths of meaning in a spoof of contemporary Russian stand-up comedy.

Instead of the writer infusing the genre with more, the genre made his work look like less. Raikin, my choice for Russia's finest actor, easily held his ground in this brilliant one-man show based on Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground. It's sad to admit, but it's true: The greater they are, the more painfully they flop. Nekrosius is one of the great directors of our time. I have no idea what he was doing with this show. It was long, monotonous, lethargic and utterly out of touch.

In an age when evil, corrupt dictators are popping up out of the woodwork everywhere, this production suggested that evil, corrupt dictators are just nice guys caught in a squeeze. Say what? In the almost wordless title role, Berdinskikh dominated this fascinating production about the deadly battle that arises when absolute corruption slams up against utter innocence.

This tale by Nikolai Gogol about a man sinking into insanity was recalibrated by director and actor as an unblinking assault on politics, pop culture and, yes, theater's place between those two. Bull's eye. This may be the best thing ever to come out of the nine-year-old Teatr. It takes the documentary style that the theater made famous and layers on actors' and director's finesse to tell a humorous, skewed version of the stories of rockers Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

In Denisova's version, these characters are Russians or Uzbeks who grew up in Vologda or other Russian locales. While exploring the experiences of famous American misfits, it reveals the aspirations and experiences of their spiritual kin in Russia. Best Actor: Alexei Devotchenko. See "Perfect Match" 'nuff said. Best Actress: Alla Sigalova. See "Broadway Meets the Garden Ring. I don't know where to start to tell you how powerful this was. It was like getting to see behind the curtain in Oz, but finding out that everything there really is magic.

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Butusov blew out all the stops in Chekhov's play and gave us an exhilarating look at what art is and artists do. Man of the Year: Georg Genoux. According to that inimitable thespian Bob Dylan, "We live in a political world. A few venues will give you politics, but Genoux, the founder of the Joseph Beuys Theater, ups the ante. First of all, Genoux's theater this year moved into the Andrei Sakharov Museum.

That's saying something already. More important is what Genoux does. And with events such as the staged reading of the correspondence between writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya and jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Genoux ensures that contemporary politics continue to put teeth into Moscow theater. By the year the state will retain in a number of them only a "golden share" a nominal share with the right of veto in certain specified circumstances , the administrative office of First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told journalists on Wednesday 3 August.

The proposals for sale of shares in large companies held in federal ownership were prepared following instructions from Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev, which he gave following the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg. The head of state demanded more decisive action in selling off state property.

Shuvalov submitted the government report on expanding privatization to the president. It is suggested to relinquish the federal shareholding in OAO Zarubezhneft oil and gas company operating overseas by following negotiations on international contracts to which the company is a party and OAO AK ALROSA Russia's largest diamond producer with coordination of the sale of shares owned by Yakutia, with the possibility of sending funds equal to privatization receipts for the development of the infrastructure of the constituent part of the federation. The state would retain a "golden share". This special right the golden share is not stipulated for three other assets, which the Russian Federation may dispose of completely by It is suggested to relinquish the shareholding in OAO Rosselkhozbank Russian Agricultural Bank and OAO Rosagrolizing Russian Agricultural Leasing - taking into account the analysis of the companies' functions and separating the functions of providing state support into an organization with a different organizational and legal form; OAO Aeroflot - Russian Airlines - taking into account the expediency of retaining the status of a "national carrier".

At the same time plan should be prepared to make the subsidiaries more attractive for investors and a schedule for their sale needs to be drawn up. These documents should lay down the directing of sale receipts to the federal budget via dividends or to other subsidiaries to increase their attractiveness to investors. In addition to this, according to the proposal, it is suggested to privatize in up to 10 per cent of shares in OAO Rosnano the Russian nanotechnology company , including with the aim of attracting a strategic investor.

Despite the agreement earlier this week on raising the U. But even so, it will still be in AA territory. Anything above BB is investment grade. The net effect of the downgrade was not even mildly negative for U. Longer term, the need to reduce the budget deficit by a considerable amount to regain the top rating has a deflationary impact and is therefore positive for U.

In addition, the downward revisions of U. The labor market confirms this view. Employment is about 4. Real hourly wages continue to fall on a month-on-month basis. This means that there are no inflationary pressures. Combined with several years of restrictive fiscal policies ahead, the pace of the U. It is no longer unlikely that there will be another recession.

Since banks get funds from the Federal Reserve at more or less no cost, they will have an incentive to buy longer-term government debt at a spread over funding of an attractive basis points. So far, the United States continues to follow the Japanese model. But it is clear that the dollar will resume its slide in trade-weighted terms, not least because the Federal Reserve is forced to keep interest rates at their near-zero level for at least one more year, while the European Central Bank and most other central banks are in a tightening mode.

Capital inflows will thus be supportive for the dollar than in the past. On the other hand, it can be expected that the U. Exports and capital spending have to be the main drivers of U. The United States relies on other countries for growth. But this may not be a big deal because emerging markets, which account for one-half of global output, are growing at a rate of 4 percent to 6 percent annualized at the moment.

Inflation has peaked everywhere. According to JP Morgan's analysts, the year-on-year rates of change to the consumer price index expected in the second quarter of are 1. The reasoning is straightforward: Growth is slowing, while output gaps remain large. For commodities, the message is that their prices will drift down over the coming 12 months. Gold remains an exception as long as there is the suspicion that the global financial system is in a precarious condition. Equity markets, including Russia's, will be consolidating.

There is a lack of growth drivers. The two-year expansion has run out of steam, and fiscal policies in key countries are tightened in a pro-cyclical manner because debt levels are too high. Russia is protected by its extremely low valuations and sound macro financials but cannot decouple from global trends. Since the need to catch up with richer countries is as urgent as ever, domestic demand in Russia infrastructure, housing and other capital spending, but also private consumption in the run-up to the two elections will be stronger than exports.

The main appreciation of the ruble basket lies behind us as nominal exports increase by less than imports. RT: Mr. Gerashchenko, hello and thank you very much for being here. You became head of Centrobank [Russia's Central Bank] when Russia began pursuing its 'shock therapy' policy, following advice from American experts.

How would you advise your American colleagues now, with the situation they are facing? Viktor Gerashchenko: Live within your means, that's all. That's just what they told us back then, with no idea at all about our economic and social situation at the time. That was in , when we began well, parts of the government began to listen to their advice after Russia joined the IMF that year. Later, they wrote and the famous Stieglitz, a Nobel laureate and former economic advisor to Clinton, was among them that they were doing everything wrong.

What they were telling us was all wrong. RT: If we think about the ability to live within one's means, who is better at that now: the Russia of those days or today's USA? But it was solvent, and other states were eager to give credit, even the US, though the latter wasn't doing it directly, but through European affiliates. They all knew, after all, that the Soviet economy was under control and that the country would pay its debts sooner or later, even without high oil prices.

That's why they were eager to give credit to the USSR, especially to finance the purchase of high-tech goods to be supplied to the Soviet market. The fact is, though, that after , a time of crisis for the US, America wouldn't sell the USSR complete production facilities, like the car plant in Togliatti or chemical plants, of which the USSR had bought four billion dollars worth and which had played their part in its technical progress. But anyway, the Soviet Union's credit rating was quite high. It has been easy for the US to take credit because of the entire system that's been built up since Of course, the British had to back off, because their economy had been greatly damaged by the war.

That later led to the devaluation of the pound, some years after the war. In fact, all of Europe was living off the Marshall Plan back then, and that consisted mostly of agricultural commodities, along with some industrial plants and factories that had depleted their technological potential, ones that the US didn't need anymore. This, in part, was the reason for America's technological leap.

Over more recent years, though, with production capacities growing rapidly in the Third World, the share of production in America's GDP has been shrinking. That's how America began to live on credit. And living on credit is always difficult, as a time may come sooner or later when debts will have to be paid off. Right now, nobody wants to remember that it was in the early 90s, when Bush and the Republicans came to power, that the US external state debt, obtained by issuing treasury bonds with different terms anything from one week to 20 years and interest rates, grew massively.

Right now, it has been increased still further. So, generally, it all happened under Republican rule. My question is, then, why all the hubbub now? It's just political games, nothing more. VG: Well, you see, speaking of the country's gold reserves The Soviet delegation took part in all relevant discussions and we even managed to secure the right to keep our contribution to the capital of the World Bank in gold, the reserves of which Stalin was very keen to control.

The gold was to be kept in the USSR, with the IMF having the right to come at any time to check it was still there and hadn't been sold. The USSR could have joined the IMF before December 1st , but then the head of Gosplan, Voznesensky, stepped in and said, "We came out of the war so poor that if we gather and file all the stats required by the IMF, all will see is how much we actually lost in the war.

So we'd better not join. When De Gaulle collected all dollars throughout France and sent them to the US asking to exchange them for gold, the gold content of the dollar was devalued. But everyone keeps quiet about that. They began living on credit. You could only keep your currency either in gold, or in a currency that was used in 90 percent of world trade at the time. And so did our country. Even though now we've kept it in dollars, euros and even, in small part, Swiss francs or something of that kind, since But the US to some extent lives in debt to the entire world.

And that isn't right. RT: The US managed to avoid a federal technical default. But what was the threat for the whole world? VG: If the US declared a default it wouldn't have been able to repay treasury bonds it had issued, according to the limit set by Congress, to the Ministry of Finance, or to the US government, or to the US President, the government head. So they wouldn't be able to replace them with new bonds in time. RT: And what happens within the country if they reach a compromise to cut their expenses? VG: This has no explicit connection to the situation within their country.

On the other hand, the dollar exchange rate, including cash, immediately drops on the world's markets. And the exchange rate for securities traded around the world drops as well, in spite of the fact that they're issued by US companies. So, they incur bookkeeping losses at the very least, and perhaps even real financial losses. To a large extent, the debt was formed under the Bush presidency. The war in Iraq and their role in the Afghanistan conflict required huge military expenses. And in effect, the whole world, including our country, has been funding those military costs, their budget deficit, and their balance of payments deficit.

And frankly speaking, there are no reasons to believe that these military expenses will be reduced. Do you believe this could be possible? VG: I believe that the globalization which has been happening for a while now and which hasn't been giving much to developing or Third World countries, will result in some kind of collapse. RT: Since , the US has raised its debt limit 90 times, that's become a standard procedure. But then, the situation progressed to the point of shaking the world's markets and the world was threatened with unknown economic territory.

How did that happen? VG: To a large extent, in the s or s, 90 percent of international settlements were in dollars that was between countries that weren't even connected with the US. Then the euro zone was established to start giving up national currencies, even though some European countries like Denmark didn't join. Nonetheless, the dollar remained the key settlement currency.

Everyone needed dollars, and often required dollars rather than any other currency. Therefore, the dollar became the worldwide currency. But a worldwide spread also calls for worldwide responsibility. And the US authorities didn't show enough of that responsibility. RT: A number of economists call the actions of the US "financially irresponsible. VG: From the viewpoint of economic theory, there is a certain irresponsibility.

LaRouche, a famous American economist of French or Canadian origin, about 10 years ago said that the US economy, considering its domestic and foreign economic policy, is bound to face a crash like the Roman Empire. RT: If ratings fall, the economic players, central banks, will change the structure of their reserves. Can a mass dumping of the US treasury happen, and what implications can we expect in this case?

VG: What else is there for them? Our Chinese colleagues, in spite of their trade surplus with the US and their unwillingness to revalue their currency, still keep most of their funds in dollars, even though they use them actively to penetrate the development of African and Asian economies, to develop their infrastructure, and so on. There's nowhere to go. The world is established in a unipolar way. You can't just get out of a marriage, especially when you have kids. The views expressed by the author are his own. Six months ago, things were looking pretty bad for Gazprom.

Gas prices were in the doldrums. European utilities wanted to move toward fangled spot market contracts and away from oil-indexed links. Prospective pipelines from Central Asia and the Middle East stole some tentative Russian ground when the European Union-inspired Nabucco project was upgraded to become a "project of European interest" to counter Moscow's South Stream designs. Brussels even managed to pass the third energy package to keep unbundling in fashion and take the political sting out of the tails of third-party countries namely Russia.

But things have swung back in Gazprom's favor and drastically so. Part of the explanation is grounded in fundamentals. Tentative economic recovery in Europe will see Russian gas exports creep back toward billion cubic meters this year, with demand expected to fully rebound by if not before. That's hardly anyone's fault, but the real gain for Gazprom has been from a trilogy of European policy blunders namely, military malaise, fracking failures and nuclear nonsense.

Europe's inability to credibly project military power across the Middle East and North Africa has not only seen 16 percent of gas supplies slip offline, but far more important, it has shown how weak Europe's energy diversification hand is.