“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

From Russia with Love. (HT bobalharb)

The outrageous behavior of Russia continues. It is an example of how the enemies and adversaries of the US take advantage of the loss of US prestige under the reign of “George, the lesser.”

Obviously, The US could not stop Putin from being a thug, but it could have put him under scrutiny and reduced Russia’s role and pretense to being another normal country. The Bush Administration never had any sense of the limited shelf life of diplomatic and political prestige.

The aircraft carrier landing and the Putin soul inspection are well up there in political stupidity. Here are three recent examples of the return of Stalinistic KGB behavior under the the little blue eyed skunk, Vladimir Putin:

Russian journalist who angered country's military falls to death

· Colleagues scorn claims of suicide from flat window
· He exposed failure of new intercontinental missile

The Guardian

Luke Harding in Moscow
Tuesday March 6, 2007

A senior Russian journalist who embarrassed the country's military establishment with a series of exclusive stories has been found dead outside his flat in mysterious circumstances. The body of Ivan Safronov, 51-year-old defence correspondent for the newspaper Kommersant, was discovered on Friday. He apparently fell from a fifth-floor window.
Although prosecutors say they suspect that Safranov committed suicide, his colleagues yesterday insisted that he had no reason to kill himself. They said he was the latest in a long line of Russian journalists to die in unexplained circumstances. "Nobody believes he could have committed suicide. He had no reason to kill himself," his colleague Sergei Dupin told the Guardian last night. Safranov - a married father of two - had a happy family life and a successful career, he said.

Israeli Officials Blast Russia for Planned Missile Deal With Syria

Created: 02.03.2007 13:09 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 16:26 MSK

Israeli officials criticized Russia on Friday over a planned new deal with Syria involving advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, the DPA press agency reports.

Israeli media quoted Israeli officials as saying they had learned the sides are in the final stages of negotiations over the deal, under which Moscow would sell several thousand of the missiles to Damascus for hundreds of millions of dollars.

The advanced missiles are said to be capable of penetrating every modern Western tank.

Israel Radio quoted senior government officials as warning that the missiles sold by Russia would reach the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, which would use them to blow up Israeli tanks.

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, of the ruling centrist Kadima party, called Friday for pressure on Russia to stop the sale, which he warned would encourage Syria to “turn to a road of war.”

Former Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom, of the hardline opposition Likud party, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to return Russia to the era of the former Soviet Union and the international status it had at the time.

Putin “is playing with fire,” he told Israel Radio.

Financial Times

Expert in Litvinenko death shot

By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington

March 3 2007

An American who last weekend alleged on national tele vision in the US
that the Kremlin was involved in the poisoning of a former KGB agent was
on Thursday night shot near his Maryland home.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting of
Paul Joyal, a former director of security for the Senate intelligence
committee and editor of an intelligence newsletter on Russia.
Mr. Joyal was an aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee from 1980 to 1989 and edited a business newsletter about Russia throughout the 1990s. He has criticized President Vladimir Putin of Russia for reversing democratic reforms and was quoted several years ago as saying Mr. Putin “had a very mediocre career” as a spy.

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Joyal went into business with Oleg Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who became a leading K.G.B. critic and moved to Washington. They worked on a joint venture between AT&T and a Russian telephone company, Mr. Kalugin said, and remained friends after the effort went bankrupt in 1999.

They met Thursday afternoon at a restaurant next to the International Spy Museum in downtown Washington. They talked about business and family, Mr. Kalugin said.

Soon after Mr. Joyal arrived home at 7:30, Mr. Kalugin got a panicked call from Mr. Joyal’s wife, Elizabeth, who had found her husband shot in the driveway. “She called me and said, ‘Oleg, Paul is shot, I want to warn you,’ ” Mr. Kalugin said. “I couldn’t believe my ears.”

Despite Ms. Joyal’s warning and his dim view of the K.G.B., Mr. Kalugin said, “My suspicion is that it’s not linked to anything international.” As described, he said, the crime did not bear the fingerprints of Russian agents. He also said their enemies’ list had more prominent names on it than that of Mr. Joyal.

“If it had been me, that would be absolutely more understandable,” said Mr. Kalugin, who was convicted of treason in Russia in 2002.

Mr. Joyal was featured prominently in the “Dateline NBC” segment about Mr. Litvinenko, who died in November after ingesting a rare radioactive substance called Polonium 210, the bulk of which comes from Russia. Mr. Litvinenko fled the country after accusing superiors of ordering him to kill Boris A. Berezovsky, a wealthy Russian businessman.


  1. I was on an official visit to the Soviet Union before it finally unraveled. We met with several ministries of the communist party on some trade and commerce opportunities and visited various factories throughout the country. We traveled as a group of fourteen. There was one guy, who never said anything. He carried a large leather bag. He was the group’s vodka and cognac supply. It started with breakfast, then coffee break, lunch, afternoon coffee, aperitif-time, dinner and then one or two more for the road and then a night-cap. They did not sip, but downed then in three finger shot glasses.

    I do not exaggerate.

  2. On that trip we spent three days in a miserable Russian city called Tambov, (not lovely, Tambor, Costa Rica).
    I could see that living then and there would drive one to alchohol or suicide.

  3. Two Americans treated for poisoning in Moscow

    By C.J. Chivers
    Published: March 6, 2007

    MOSCOW: An American doctor and her daughter were being treated in a Moscow hospital Tuesday after being poisoned late last month with thallium, a highly toxic metal with a history of use in both pesticides and murder, Russian officials said.