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In an interview with Dmitry Nadezhdin, Russia’s chief police officer says that he, as a citizen – if not as a government Minister – supports the return of the death penalty for the worst crimes. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that it ain’t happening.

Vladimir Kolokoltsev: “The Death Penalty is Society’s Normal Reaction”

The Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev gave an interview to NTV, in which he laid out his position on several issues.

On the death penalty for child killers

Although I’m afraid of incurring the wrath of opponents of the death penalty, speaking not as a Minister, but as an ordinary citizen: I do not see anything reprehensible in reconstituting it for such criminals. In the EU, there is one approach; in the US, there is another. Every state has its own particularities, and these must be acknowledged. But for these subhumans, and for those who carry out terrorist attacks that kill multiple victims, I consider the death penalty to be society’s normal reaction to such facts.

On punishments for policemen

The severity of a punishment does not give anywhere the same prophylactic effect as its inevitability. In the past year, more than 1,700 police officers were fired for offenses committed by their subordinates. The principle of personal responsibility has to play a role.

On drunk drivers

For citizens with epaulettes, there can be only one road – either he sits behind the wheel in a sober state, or he writes a dismissal report on himself. We are working on a number of mechanisms for identifying such employees, who think it is acceptable to get in car and drive to work after an all night binge.

As regards civilian drivers, there is no option other than to make them more accountable for drunk driving. By that stage educating people is too late, we’re all adults now. One option is to confiscate vehicles. It’s a tough reaction, but a very effective one.

On corruption

Citizens accuse us for bribery being prevalent, and for the atmosphere of venality. But then, you ask this citizen, “Why do you give bribes?” There is an immediate silence.

That said, all cases of corruption within the Ministry of Internal Affairs have to be burned out with red-hot irons and punished most severely. This will then make a man wonder: Is it really worth raising his level of material wealth in this way and then going to prison, or is it better to work cleanly and professionally?

On ethnic crime

I have set the policy that a main focus of attention will be directed to the fight against ethnic Organized Crime Groups. And we will hold officers accountable for how this task is executed. Especially when it comes to cases of particular resonance, there should be no room for compromise.

A call to the Kremlin

Komsomolskaya Pravda placed a call to the President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

KP: “Dmitry Sergeyevich, in recent months there’s been a terrifying wave of child murders, e.g. in Tatarstan, in Irkutsk. We assume that the head of state is aware that such crimes are being committed?”

DP: “Certainly. He receives daily reports on the matter.”

KP: “Have you seen how he reacts to such reports?”

DP: “He reacts like any citizen. This is of course an absolutely monstrous phenomenon.”

KP: “Do you remember any of the President’s words, reactions?”

DP: “In this case, it is not a topic for discussion”

KP: The Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, in a recent TV interview, said that he – not as a Minister, but as a citizen – supports the introduction of the death penalty for criminals who distinguish themselves by exceptional cruelty. Do you think that the recent high-profile cases could influence the President’s position, his attitudes towards this highest measure of punishment?

DP: The President’s position has been known for a long time, and it is a consistent, reasonable, and well argued one. In this case, the Minister expressed a personal point of view. This is absolutely normal. Indeed, there exists a wide spectrum of opinion as regards the death penalty. This is a significant and very sensitive social problem. But we know the official policy on the death penalty that exists today. [Read further] {Translator: To summarize Peskov’s full interview, hyperlinked left, Putin’s position on the death penalty is well-known, he is not going to change it, and there are no questions of putting it up for a legislative vote.}

Meanwhile

The State Duma came out against the death penalty.

On Monday, 11 February, the head of the Duma Committee on Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov commented on the Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev’s yesterday interview, in which he raised the possibility of bringing back the death penalty in our country. The deputies didn’t agree with the Interior Minister’s opinion.

“The abolition of the death penalty is needed, for the state shouldn’t be an instrument of vengeance,” Pavel Krasheninnikov said.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Crime, Death Penalty, Society, Translations 
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On 9 February, 2013 the Deputy Minister for Communications schooled Moscow State journalism students in the “propaganda model.” They were none too thrilled about the lesson, as Natalia Romashkova writes.

Deputy Minister of Communications Volin explains Media-Business Relations

The Deputy Minister for Communications and Mass Media Alexey Volin explained the heated reactions to his speech at Moscow State University by the deep chasm in opinions between academic circles and the journalist community. The previous day, Volin said that student journalists should understand that they were going to be “working for the Man,” who will determine what they will write about and how.

“Suffice to say that I was trying to explain how the media works through the market mechanism, but the liberal audience didn’t like that. It happens,” the Deputy Minister told RIA Novosti on Monday. “The serious public interest in this matter is related to the fact that there is, unfortunately, a very big gap between academia’s perceptions of the media market and the journalist profession, and what’s really going on there.”

The official’s comments came in the wake of a furious reaction to his speech on Sunday at a scientific-practical conference organized by the Journalism Faculty of Moscow State University. In particular, Alexey Volin claimed that the journalist had “no duty to make the world better, to carry the light of truth to lead mankind down the right path.” “We need to clearly teach students that they will go to work for the Man, and the Man will tell them what to write, what not to write, and how to write about such and such, and the Man has this right because he pays them,” Volin expounded, characterizing the relations between media owners and journalists.

The main point of the speech, according to Alexey Volin himself, was the wish to demonstrate that the mainstream media is a business, which needs commercial success to survive and develop. “Everything else is merely a logical consequence. But this often meets either misunderstanding, or objections from those people who teach students, or consider themselves experts on the media market.”

The Russian Union of Journalists criticizied Alexey Volin’s speech: “The defaming of journalism, and belittlement of its role, is a time-honored technique of political technology, well known to every graduate of a journalism faculty. His overriding goal is to hide the truth from the public, to gloss over the real picture, and to stymie solutions of real problems.”

You should keep in mind that you are a journalist, not a whore. The difference can be difficult to discern, but it exists nonetheless.

- Ilya Stogov (Saint-Petersburg writer and journalist, “Tabloid: A manual on yellow journalism).
(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Media, Translations 
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A new Levada poll indicates that after a brief infatuation with markets and “Western-style democracy” in the early 1990s, Russians more or less consistently consider the Soviet system to be the best one out there.

Russians on the Country’s Political and Economic System

Which of these political systems do you think is best: The Soviet system (the one we had until the 1990′s), the current one, or Western-style democracy?

russians-best-political-system

Which of these political systems do you consider to be most legitimate?

russians-best-political-system-2

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
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In a comment for popular Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Anatoly Karlin compares media freedoms – or the lack thereof – in Russia and the “free” West. There is a longer version of this article at Da Russophile.

Recently the French human rights organization Reporters Without Borders unveiled new press freedom ratings, which showed Russia sinking to 148th place out of 179 globally.

This finding is consistent with the yearly ratings of the American organization Freedom House, which deems the Russian media to be “not free.” In contrast, the Western countries are, of course, at the top of this list. But personally, as a regular reader of the mass media from both sides of the Information Curtain, I have long been under the strong impression that the Western intelligentsia – including the creators of all these ratings – often consider that the only “free” and “independent” media outlets in Russia are those which support their own ideas and prejudices, and that when compiling their ratings they lean exclusively on the opinions of their like-minded colleagues.

Yes, there really are cases in which the voices of “democratic journalists” in Russia are suppressed. For instance, to take a recent incident, after the recent elections Kommersant Vlast published a photo of an election ballot with an obscene scrawling about Putin. The newspaper’s owner quickly fired those responsible.

Harsh? Maybe, but there is a wealth of similar examples in the West. For insulting the recent US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, accidentally caught on open mic, the journalist David Chalian was fired from Yahoo News. One can compile an entire list of journalists who were fired for criticizing the state of Israel: Sunni Khalid, Helen Thomas, Octavia Nasr, etc. Likewise there is another substantial list of journalists fired for attending Occupy Wall Street protests.

I do not want to idealize the state of the Russian press, which has a huge number of its own problems. For instance, writing about Putin’s private life is just about as big of a taboo, as is criticizing Israel in the US. And the situation as regards unsolved murders of journalists is far worse than in the West. Although, that said, it is far better than in quite a number of widely acknowledged democracies such as Brazil, Mexico, India, and Turkey – all of which have substantially higher freedom ratings than Russia.

But the Americans too have some things to be “proud” of. American “dissidents” such as Hearst Newspapers journalist Helen Thomas and former professor Norman Finkelstein are not only fired, but also put on blacklists, which not only complicates getting access to high-ranking officials but even of finding another job. Meanwhile, in “baleful Russia”, the American journalist Masha Gessen can publish a book about Putin titled “The Man Without a Face” and get a personal interview with the President regardless. She is then free to practically demonize him in an account of their meeting in the journal Bolshoi Gorod – and to then go on to head the Russian service of Radio Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is headquartered minutes away from the walls of the Kremlin.

So in some sense Russia still has many, many steps still to climb up the stairs of the press freedom ratings…

The original publication: Вверх-вниз по рейтингу свободы (Анатолий Карлин, Комсомольская Правда). 1 February, 2013.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Media, Translations 
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Russia claims one of the top places in a new ratings system of national innovation compiled by Bloomberg.

According to the latest studies, the US was recognized as the world’s most innovative country in a new rating. This is not surprising for a country that hosts the likes of Apple and Microsoft. But Russia at least had the highest ranking among the BRICS.

The rating of the most innovative countries was compiled by the Bloomberg news agency. Specialists studied more than 200 countries and autonomous regions. Their total number was reduced 96, out of which the top 50 were selected.

The rankings were built on the basis of seven criteria. First, the intensity of R&D spending as a percentage of GDP. Second, the level of labor productivity – that is, the GDP per worker and per hour of working time.

The third criterion was the concentration of high technologies – the percentage of public high-tech companies working in spheres such as aerospace, defense, biotech, programming, semiconductors, the Internet, hardware, and renewable energy.

The fourth factor was the number of researchers per one million persons. Fifth, industrial productivity – including the quantity of products with a high share of R&D with respect to the overall quantity of industrial products.

Sixth, the level of education – the number of people with a second higher degree, as well as the number of students working in science, engineering, industry, and construction. The number of university graduates per year and the percentage of people with a higher education relative to the overall workforce were also accounted for. The last criterion was patent creation, that is, the number of patents per million people and spending on R&D.

Combining all these indicators, Bloomberg put the US in first place on this rating. Its best performance was in the concentration of high technologies, where it took first place; on the other hand, in terms of industrial productivity in sectors with a high share of R&D, the US was only 52nd.

Second place was taken by South Korea. A fairly curious fact, if one views this in the light of the intensive patent war between America’s Apple and Korea’s Samsung for the smartphone market. Incidentally, it is precisely in the sphere of patents activity that South Korea does best – it occupies first place in this category.

Germany is in third place, Finland is in fourth, and Sweden rounds up the top five. At 14th place, Russia did not manage to make the top ten. Nonetheless, it managed to overtake all its BRICS peers. China found itself in 29th place, South Africa – in 50th. The others [PR: India and Brazil] did not make it into the Top 50.

In addition, Russia outpaces all its neighbors in the former USSR. The highest place occupied by any of the rest was taken by Estonia, which was at 31st position. In 33rd place – Latvia, in 42nd place – Ukraine, in 44th place – Latvia, and in 49th place – Belarus.

Russia’s best performance is in the third category – the concentration of high technologies. Here it occupies second place. It also occupies second place in the level of education. It likewise does well on the last factor – it’s patent activity is at 8th place.

Its worst positions are in the spheres of industrial productivity, where it occupies 38th place, and in labor productivity, where it occupies 41st place.

In the category of R&D intensity, Russia occupies 29th place, whereas in terms of the number of researchers, it is at 24th place. Recently Russia entered the list of countries where it is easiest to do business. Although it’s successes in that rating aren’t nearly as evident, as it occupies 56th place. In the previous such rating, Russia took 48th place.

However, as regards the question of how difficult it is to do business in Russia, there is one curious commentary to be made. Not all businessmen believe that doing business in Russia is all that hard. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, the CEO of Cisco John Chambers remarked that he likes Russia as a place to do business. Cisco specializes in the sphere of networking technologies, that is innovation, and appears in the Forbes Top 100 list of the world’s biggest companies.

“In Russia it is now sometimes easier for me to do business than in the US,” he told CNN, adding that this might sound shocking. Separately, he noted that he was satisfied with the partnership with the Russian government to create a global technology hub out of Skolkovo. The most convenient country for business he named Canada.

The original publication: Сколково в рейтинге (Дмитрий Муравьев, Взгляд). 4 February, 2013.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Translations 
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Maxim Kononenko, the gadfly of Runet, on how the hunters may become the hunted in the Magnitsky saga.

The representatives of the founder of Hermitage Capital, William Browder, have informed the High Court of London that their client sees no reason to respond to respond to the lawsuit against him by Major Pavel Karpov, the former investigator who conducted the Sergei Magnitsky case.

Behind this dry communique, there may lurk such a fundamental challenge to our conventional wisdom about the outside world that it’s true magnitude as of as now even hard to comprehend.

Let’s go over the groundwork. In the commonly accepted version of events, some time ago Hermitage Capital was raided on a search warrant. In the course of the search, documentation about several companies founded by the fund were seized, as well as the seals of these companies. Soon the fund’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky discovered that the companies had been re-registered onto unknown persons, that claims were then made against these companies to reimburse damages, and court cases were lost, as a result of which these companies obtained the right to a rebate on their profit tax to the tune of 5.5 billion rubles [RP: $230 million]. The tax was quickly refunded, at enormous loss to the Russian budget. As soon as Sergei Magnitsky informed the police of this, the very targets of his claims – including investigator Karpov – opened a case against Sergei Magnitsky himself, after which the lawyer was left to rot in jail.

This version of events is consistent and logical. After all one can expect absolutely anything from our law enforcement officers. And when there appeared a series of professionally made videos on the Internet showing how the masterminds of this scam became rich – including investigator Karpov – all remaining doubts vanished. Luxurious mansions in the capital’s suburbs, elite new Moscow apartments, apartments in the skyscrapers of Dubai, expensive automobiles – all of this was so convincing, that arguing with it seemed to be complete madness.

And when my good acquaintance Katya Gordon one day casually wrote to me on Twitter that she knows investigator Karpov well, and that he is no millionaire – well, of course, I did not believe it.

The Magnitsky Affair was expensive for many sides. It has led to a diplomatic war between Russia and the US, as a result of which both sides have already taken so many questionable and one might say “emotional” decisions, that getting to the bottom of them all will take years. The President and the Prime Minister were questioned many times on this topic, and every time their answers seemed so savage in the given context: They said that the death of Magnitsky is, of course, a tragedy, but where does the rest of this come into the picture? And it was so tempting to shout at them right through the TV screen, “Yes, what about Magnitsky? We want to know why the investigators and tax inspectors in this case all suddenly became so rich after this case?! The question isn’t about Magnitsky, but about the corrupt and untouchable system!”

And when investigator Karpov, who had previously stayed silent, stated that he had filed a claim against Browder in the High Court of London, it was seen as some kind of strange curiosity. After all, Browder had so much evidence on the skeletons in Karpov’s closet, the case was bound to become a real Nuremberg for the Russian system!

But suddenly… William Browder refuses to litigate with Karpov.

I didn’t believe my own eyes when I first read this news. And I read it again. And again. And then I tried to recall the origins of all this history about the five billions, the new untold riches, and the mansions in Dubai.

And I could recall any source, other than Browder himself. Everything that we know about this colossal scam, which the dead Magnitsky tried to reveal – we know from Browder. Everything that we know about the tax inspectors, the investigators and their families – we know from Browder.

There is no other source.

And at this point I again remembered those words from my good acquaintance Katya Gordon.

Of course, Browder’s mere refusal to litigate with Karpov – even in the impartial and independent courts of London – is not enough to change the international social opinion that has formed around this history. Nor should one expect any tectonic shifts in the diplomatic configurations that have evolved out of this – after all, recall, did the world undergo a cardinal change when it learned that it was not Russia that attacked Georgia, but the reverse?

Not to mention the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which was introduced in response to emigration restrictions by the USSR, but remained in force for almost a quarter of a century after the last limitations on leaving the country were lifted.

So we have to bear in mind that even if it turns out that it is not Browder’s version of the Magnitsky Affair that is true, but that of investigator Karpov’s, it would not result in the cancellation of the Magnitsky Act, nor would it lead to the cancellation of the “Anti-Magnitsky Act” [PR: The Dima Yakovlev Law, banning US adoptions of Russian orphans].

However all these new developments may cardinally change the balance of power in our own country. If it somehow turns out that Browder really did slander the investigators and tax inspectors (and I still doubt this) – then first of all, it would hit Alexey Navalny hard, who had invested a lot of his efforts into promoting this story. Second, it would take off the agenda some of the most unpleasant questions that the Kremlin has had to answer – including the question of why it would retry Magnitsky in death?

Which, by the way, does nothing to negate the fact that not a single person has yet been punished for Magnitsky’s death in the detention facility of Matrosskaya Tishina.

The original publication: Второй акт Сергея Магнитского (Максим Кононенко, Известия). 1 February, 2013.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Politics, Translations 
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Yuri Matsarsky meets up with Egyptian Christians who fled to Russia from the persecution of Islamist extremists.

“Late one evening I was walking home after a meeting with friends, when I stopped to have a cigarette at the Domodedovskaya metro station and saw a crowd of people with small children at the entrance. By their appearance, I realized that they were from somewhere in the Middle East. They were warming themselves behind the glass doors with a pile of things, looking absolutely lost. One of them spoke English and managed to explain me their situation: They were Christians who had fled Egypt. I took the women and children and took them with me, so as to go to the UN representatives with them next morning,” Karina, the Muscovite who discovered the Egyptian, told Izvestia. “The men spent the night at the metro station, most likely, but the children and their mothers I couldn’t leave on the streets.”

From the UN offices, where Karina took her guests in the morning, they were directed to other addresses several times, until they finally ended up at Civil Assistance, a charitable foundation that helps refugees. Now one of the organization’s rooms, comparable in size to an average Moscow apartment, hosts the ten Egyptian members of the Sh’hetamikail family: Three brothers, and their wives and children.

“Nowadays the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists run everything. It is dangerous to be a Christian in our city of Mersa Matruh: I know of several cases, in which young girls were stolen right out of their family houses, and forced to convert to Islam; our wives and our children have been attacked in the streets, insulted, and threatened to forcibly shave our girls unless they put on the hijab,” says Sameh, on the verge of tears. “They have gotten so carried away that they even demanded a headscarf be put on a two year old baby. We have forbidden our children and women from going out onto the streets at all. But this didn’t help.”

The brothers say that the Islamists, having failed to accomplish their goals, smashed up the family’s minibuses. This was a real tragedy for the Sh’hetamikails: All three men earned their bread as drivers, and left without their means of transport, they could no longer feed their families.

“We contacted the police, but they told us that we were being threatened by the Bedouins, and they did not wish to spoil their relations with them by opening an investigation. We went to our church, but they too fear the Bedouins. Then the people who were threatening us came to our house. There were fifteen of them. They told us that we have no choice. Either we accept Islam, or they kill us,” says the second brother, Viktor, emotively spreading his arms. “Then a member of our church hid us away. We lived with him for three months, while he sought ways to take us out of Egypt.”

The family refused to convert to Islam: For Egyptian Coptic Christians, who believe that they inherited their faith directly from the Apostles in the 1st century AD, rejection of their religion is considered to be a betrayal of their ancestors and people. Even during the revolutionary turbulence, Coptic women did not put on hijabs, while the men did not hide under their sleeves the tattooed crosses that religious Copts carry on their wrists.

The coreligionist who gave refuge to the Sh’hetamikail clan planned to send all ten to the US. But the Americans refused them visas. Then he bought a tour package to Russia, explaining that it also has representatives of international organizations that would help them obtain refugee status.

But the process has stalled.

I took them to a department of the Federal Migration Service, but they were far more interested in myself, than them. They demanded to see my residence permit, which they studied for a long time before finally getting round to the Egyptians,” says Basil, a Syrian helping Civil Assistance as a translator. He was astounded by the officials’ callousness. “They summoned the representatives of the tour firm that was supposed to meet these guys here, but they said that they were selling tour packages, not refugee statuses, and could do nothing but send them back.”

Nobody from the Sh’hetamikails wants to go back.

“If we were to return now, they would simply kill us. I do not feel sorry for myself, but the children, the children should live and should not have to experience constant danger,” says a teary Sameh, catching the two year old Zhimur who was running past him in his arms. The same one who was nearly stuffed into a hijab.

In the office settled by the Copts there are only a few chairs and a bookcase with old magazines. In place of toys there is a five liter bottle of water, which the laughing kids drag across the floor. Their mothers weep at the windows, while their husbands cluster by the photographer:

“We want to remain here. We are ready to do any job. If Russia doesn’t want us here, then at least please don’t send us back home. Let it give us an opportunity to take our families somewhere safe,” say all three. “Maybe the church will stand up for us. For we are also Orthodox Christians. The Christian world should do something already. We cannot survive in Egypt. If the Christians were allowed to leave forever, in a week not a single Copt would remain.”

In the office refuge it is warm, but all the Sh’hetamikail adults are dressed in sweaters and coats. They don’t even take off their hats – they are waiting to be taken to the Federal Migration Service. Or the UN. Or somewhere else, where they could get help.

But the translator Basil says that they cannot count on any help until Monday. Officials do not do receptions on Friday, and then there’s the weekend. Civil Assistance does not yet know where to house the ten refugees. For the time being, they say, the current office will serve.

The original publication: «Или мы меняем веру, или нас убьют» (Юрий Мацарский, Известия). 31 January, 2013.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Egypt, Human Rights, Society, Translations 
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In her weekly column for Novaya Gazeta, Russian journalist and writer Yulia Latynina compares the civic-mindedness of American and Russian oligarchs – and not to Russia’s favor.

The US

John Hopkins (1795-1873) – one of the richest men of the 19th century, trader and joint owner of railways – founded John Hopkins University (16th in the university ratings) and John Hopkins Hospital.

John Rockefeller (1839-1937) – head of Standard Oil, the richest person in history – founded the University of Chicago (10th in the world university ratings) in 1889. He also founded Rockefeller University and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Andrew Carnegie – founder of Carnegie Steel Company, the second richest person in the US after John Rockefeller – donated money for the creation of more than 2,500 libraries across the whole world. He founded the Carnegie Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University.

Anthony Drexel (1826 –1893) – American banker, partner of J.P. Morgan – founded Drexel University.

Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) founded Vanderbilt University.

Andrew Mellon (1855 – 1937) – banker, businessman, the third biggest taxpayer in the US during the 1920′s after Rockefeller and Ford – donated $43 million (at 1920′s price levels) to the University of Pittsburgh. Founded the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.

Will Kellogg (1860-1951) – billionaire, producer of Kellogg’s cereals – founded the California State Polytechnic University and the Kellogg Foundation.

Howard Hughes (1905 – 1976) – aviator, inventor, billionaire (Hughes Aircraft and Hughes Airspace) – founded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1953. As of today, the Institute’s endowment totals nearly $16 billion.

Michael Bloomberg – the current Mayor of New York, billionaire, owner of the financial news agency Bloomberg – donated $300 million to John Hopkins University.

Bill Gates – head of Microsoft, billionaire – founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is the largest private charitable foundation in the world, with an endowment of $36 billion. Among other things, the Foundation spent $1.5 billion on stipends for talented ethnic minority students and $250 million on improving schools in the US.

Warren Buffett – billionaire, investment guru, head of Berkshire Hathaway, the world’s richest person in 2008 – bequeathed 83% of his fortune (nearly $30 billion) to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

By the way: Princeton was founded thanks to four rich landowners: John Stockton, Thomas Leonard, John Horner, John Hornor, and Nathaniel Fitzrandolph – who provided land and money to the university. Harvard was founded by the State of Massachusetts and named in honor of John Harvard, who bequeathed the university a library and money for its upkeep. Yale was named in honor of Eli Yale, a son of Boston and governor of Madras, who donated books and valuable objects to the university.

Russia

Roman Abramovich, billionaire, entrepreneur, bought Chelsea Football Club.

Alisher Usmanov, billionaire, entrepreneur, bought Arsenal Football Club.

Suleiman Kerimov, billionaire, entrepreneur, bought Anzhi Football Club.

Leonid Fedun, billionaire, joint owner of Lukoil, bought Spartak Football Club.

Oleg Deripaska, billionaire, owner of Rusal, bought Kuban Football Club.

Anton Zingarevich, son of Boris Zingarevich – who is a billionaire, businessman, and owner of Ilim Pulp – bought Reading Football Club.

Maksim Demin, millionaire, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Insurance Group, bought Bournemouth Football Club.

Dmitry Rybolovlev, billionaire, ex-owner of Uralkali, bought AS Monaco Football Club.

Vladimir Antonov, billionaire, banker, bought Portmouth Football Club.

Gazprom bought Zenit Football Club. The investment is valued at $150 million. Gazprom likewise sponsors the German club Schalke, the Serbian club Red Star Belgrade, the Russian club Sakhalin, and is a partner of the UEFA Champions League.

Among these swarms of soccer fans there is an exception. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, billionaire, owner of Yukos, sponsored the Russian State University for the Humanities and founded the Open Society Foundation*. At the present time, Khodorkovsky is in prison.

The original publication: Сравнительный анализ олигархов (Юлия Латынина, Новая Газета). 21 January, 2013.

Translator’s notes:

* The Open Society Foundation was founded by George Soros. Khodorkovsky founded the Open Russia Foundation.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Society, Translations 
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In the wake of Gérard Depardieu’s scandalous “defection” to Russia to escape high French income taxes, liberal Russian journalist Gleb Razdolnov yearns to know what the hell he was thinking.

Dear Gérard!

You’ve taken the decision to abandon your homeland, France. We will not talk of the reasons that prompted you to take this step. Such a decision cannot be condemned in the 21st century, when free people can (and should have the right) to freely move about the entire world and independently choose their place of residency. Your decision is the decision of the free man.

However, dear Gérard, before submitting an application for Russian citizenship, you should (must) have repeatedly assessed the repercussions of such a démarche. You do not like the French leader with his leftist, socialist views; you are fleeing from a government which, in your view, abuses your rights as an entrepreneur, a businessman a talented actor, and an individual person?

But why are you seeking protection in a country where these rights are abused every hour? Why do you ask for help from people, who have deprived thousands of children of their human and constitutional rights in their own country? Why are your preparing to pay taxes to a state which has thrown dozens of people into prison just for standing up against falsified elections?!

Or do you not know any of this?…

Or do you consider your own well-being more important?! And you don’t give a damn for the tears of children?…

Or perhaps you don’t understand that your citizenship appeal will raise the ratings of the ruling party and improve the image of the person who has essentially usurped power in Russia?! Do you really not know any of this, or do you simply not care?

I do not want to believe that you are a soulless monster, who thinks only of his own well-being. I do not want to believe that you, my favorite actor, are able to just forget about humaneness, about candor and the milk of human kindliness… I can’t believe it!

You played a magnificent role in the magnificent Russian film “Envy of the Gods”, which graphically tells the story of how a soulless regime, personified by its oprichnik-bureaucrats, ruins human lives and tortures people. Why are you today playing the same negative characters, who were portrayed in the film? Why? I want to know why a great actor, a master of his art, a respected man, whom I would always be joyful to see in my country – why is Gérard Depardieu becoming a clown in a play of the Kremlin puppet masters???

Out of thoughtlessness? Or not?… Please answer, Gérard…

The original publication: ОТВЕТЬТЕ, ЖЕРАР!.. (ОТКРЫТОЕ ПИСЬМО ДЕПАРДЬЕ) (Глеб Раздольнов, Эхо Москвы). 3 January, 2013.

(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.