Georgia. A Military Defeat For NATO.

According to Ossetian blogger, narod, 400 out of 500 Georgian tanks were destroyed. And not just by Russians.

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Who’d a thunk it?

For the last five years, Georgia has been trained and equipped, no expense spared, by US and Israeli specialists. Georgia’s annual defense budget is put at around 950 million. South Ossetia – the real winner – doesn’t even have a budget. It barely has running water.

Israel supplies Georgia with all kinds of scary techno toys, including tactical missile systems, anti-aircraft systems, automatic turrets for armored vehicles, electronic equipment and remotely piloted aircraft.

So the UK ‘Times’ headline today, ‘Georgian Forces Cut and Run‘, won’t sit well with Georgia’s sponsors. Even though the story is largely nonsense. Oh, and by the way, the ‘Times’ doesn’t put its most idiotic leaders on the net, where they might be easily rubbished and dissected, although the headline I quote is front page on UK newstands.



Georgia. What Happened?


You’re going to have to read a lot of independents and between a lot of lines to get a handle on this one. Even the UN Security Council can’t agree three lines of text.

While it might not be world war on the ground, international media is locked in ‘moral’ combat while foreign ministers on different sides denounce their opposite numbers.

Argumentation is on the ‘well they started it’ playground level, rhetoric devoid of reality. But then, one set of peacekeepers attacking another is rather absurd to begin with.

Blatant propaganda is quickly making a case for one side or the other. But it looks like public relations struggling for rationale. Igniting this conflict isn’t to anyone’s advantage.



Workers Of The World . . . Uninvite


Since my previous post on the expat exodus from Russia, I received some mail and insight into the phenomenon. I don’t use the word phenomenon lightly.

To add hard numbers, HVS, a global recruitment and consulting firm, recently completed its 2008 survey of managerial staff in Russia. The comparison with 2007 is dramatic.

In the hotel and leisure industry, just for example, the only posts steadily held by expats remain those of General Manager and Executive Chef. As the survey shows, in just one year, there’s an average 50% drop in foreign workers in almost every category.

If this is the decline at managerial level, you can just imagine what’s happening off the radar in less protected jobs.



The Exile, Expats And Excommunication

Applying for a visa extension?

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Just a couple of weeks after The Exile was reportedly run out of town, BP has withdrawn the last of its foreign staff. Overall, there’s a picture of an open season on expats in Russia.

Certainly, numbers are declining. The Exile’s problems had more to do with diminishing readership than censorship. So, is the expat in Russia an endangered species?

Leaving BP aside for a moment, there have been two significant developments in recent years. The first was Putin’s crackdown on foreign NGOs, which began in 2005. The British Council was shut down amid accusations of spying. Whatever, any number of NGO activities exceeded their remit – such as participating in coloured revolutions – and Putin called it curtains.



A Fistful Of Winceyette


I am reminded that it’s time for the Fistful of Euros Satin Pyjamas Awards. When I worked in advertising, I used to promote the Haze Homeful Of Freshness Awards, which was a real mouthful too. But if you squirted your house daily with Haze, so that your eyes were red and streaming with CFCs when our mystery sniffer called, you could be the lucky winner.

It was always a golden rule of direct marketing that there should be consolation prizes. Obvious rationale: more prizes, more interest. So it was disappointing to see that only one blog per category will win the Satin Pyjama. There will be no scrapping over places for Winceyette or Polyester sleepwear.



Estonia, Hitler Nostalgia And Reuters


Here’s another article that rather debunks the latest round of attacks on Russia for using the ‘energy weapon’.

It seems that reports in the press – even from Reuters – are exaggerated.

This article is not from anything like ‘The Socialist Worker’. It’s from a rather dry independent trade journal. What follows is a quick precis, but, if you’re brave, you can read the full text at Mineweb, along with lots of fascinating stuff about coal shipments and phosphor yields.


George Bush has weighed in on the side of the Estonian victims of an alleged Kremlin oil cut off. Only there’s no evidence of this. An unusually warm burst of spring and early summer weather across Europe is the real culprit, cutting demand for both gas and heavy oil for heating.

Russian oil shipments for re-export from Tallinn, the Estonian capital, are running at their normal seasonal level for the month of May.

If Mother Nature can be pressed into campaigning against the Kremlin on behalf of the Bush Administration, why blame Reuters for failing to check the temperature, and for putting the blame on President Vladimir Putin instead?



The Lost Tycoon


A couple of weeks ago, Stanislovas Jucius went missing in Kaliningrad. One fine morning, when his driver came to pick him up, he wasn’t there.

Jucius has a name like a Roman emperor, befitting a Lithuanian Tycoon. He’s President of the Lithuanian Business Club. CEO of a slew of companies too.

This week the investigation was upgraded to a murder enquiry. ‘It’s just a procedural thing‘, a spokeswoman told the press. But this is certainly going to be another one for Bearded Conspiracy Theorists.

What happened? Every time Putin sits down for an important summit, there’s a body.



Achy Breaking News


If you want a completely different take on Russian affairs, this site is a must-click. Forget about so-called East-analysts like Sean Guillory or Charles Ganske. This is where it’s at.

Let me share with you some of the top stories.

‘In trains of distant following there will be six-seater compartments’

‘Russians love smartfony’

‘The equation with two not consent’

Exactly. The headlines are so enigmatically Russian you just have to read on. Well, you can try . . .



Of Baltic Jewels And Bad Herrings

Russia has spoken out against a Caspian pipeline which would bypass Russia. ‘Any gas or oil pipelines across the floor of the Caspian Sea would be environmentally unacceptable’, says the Russian Natural Resources Ministry.

‘Double standards’ says everyone else, as Russia builds a pipeline on the Baltic floor to bypass Poland.

As it happens, the Baltic isn’t in good shape. The Baltic is what they call ‘pollution sensitive.’ It’s almost as closed as the Caspian, since water renewal takes 25 – 30 years. There are, however, greater threats than pipelines.


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