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Last week, I wrote about the 10 ways in which life in Russia is better than America. Now it's time for Uncle Sam to have his due.   Typical Moscow sleeper suburb. Although Russian prices are 2x cheaper than America's, the blunt fact is that wages are also 4x-5x lower. Consequently, the standard of living... Read More
It has now been exactly a year since I returned to Russia. One of the questions I get asked the most from Russians and foreigners alike is whether I enjoy living here, or whether I am disappointed. My answer is that it fell within my "range of expectations". I like to think that this is... Read More
Or neither. Well, isn't this a useless post? I am referring to the Global Corruption Barometer released by Transparency International a couple of weeks ago, which I covered at my other blog. For the most part, there were no surprises; the only really strange figures came from Taiwan, where 36% of people claimed to have... Read More
It is now a staple of "common wisdom" to such an extent that there is little point in digging up specific news items. Bound up in red tape and crushed by the weight of state regulations, the argument goes, the Russian economy is doomed to years of renewed Brezhnevite stagnation - with the government increasing... Read More
My latest for VoR/US-Russia Experts panel: I think we have to make a distinction here between "soft" soft power and "hard" soft power. The US' "soft" soft power is, of course, overwhelming. By "soft" soft power, I mean its accumulated cultural capital: The popularity of the English language, Hollywood, the Ivy League, Apple and American... Read More
One of the most reliable indicators of influence is access to cars. They are the standard symbol of affluence and middle-class status the world over. They are also far more understandable at the everyday level than things like the PPP GDP per capita, or the number of burgers your national McWage will buy. Following on... Read More
One common trope about the Russian economy is that it has virtually no manufacturing to speak of and lives off "oil rents" that can collapse any day. Whiles there is a small nugget of truth to this assertion, but by and large it is simply false. It is true that a great chunk of Russian... Read More
In the wake of Russia's Internet penetration breaking the 50% mark (now - 55%) and overtaking Germany in total number of users last year, we now have news that Russian overtook German as its second most popular language. It is used on 5.9% of all the world's websites. It is projected that Russia will maintain... Read More
It's no real secret that many Russians have a positive impression of Stalin; it was 49% in February 2013, insignificantly down from 53% in 2003. (This is not a view that I share). There are probably a few big reasons for this: (1) The mistaken notion that without him Russia would have remained in the... Read More
My latest for the US-Russia Experts Panel and VoR. In this latest Panel, Vlad Sobell asks us supposed Russia “experts” whether Freedom House’s “alarmist stance” towards Russia is justified. Well, what do YOU think? I don’t think you need to be an expert to answer this; it’s an elementary issue of common sense and face... Read More
As I write the book, I create a lot of graphs. Here is one of them. So in manufacturing terms, as far as cars are concerned, the "deindustrialization" era is decidedly over. Of course it's also important to note that in 1985 they were producing this whereas today they are producing this as well as... Read More
It's not just the gopniks who are withering away; so are racist skinheads. According to the SOVA Center - an NGO which is about as anti-Kremlin as it gets, so no point in speculating that it cooks the figures for PR purposes - racist attacks in Russia have plummeted from their peak levels in 2007-2008,... Read More
Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9... Read More
My latest for the US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel. Also as usual it appears at Voice of Russia. The version printed here is a slightly longer one: There are already a lot of opinions on the topic of Russian corruption, and I see no pressing need to add more to that morass. I do however think... Read More
Here it is in Russian: Вверх-вниз по рейтингу свободы. This translation here is of a longer version at my Russian language blog. A version of it also appears on Voice of Russia: Press freedom - on both sides of the Information Curtain. Thanks to Alexei Pankin (who is a regular at Komsomolskaya) for making it... Read More
One of the standard memes about Russia's demographic trajectory was the "Russian Cross." While at the literal level it described the shape of the country's birth rate and death rate trajectories, a major reason why it entered the discourse was surely because it also evoked the foreboding of the grave. But this period now appears... Read More
I really did think it was getting better there under Joshu Yaffa, certainly it's not typical of him to write such vitriolic but more importantly factually inaccurate articles. Let's hope the world's sleaziest magazine was getting one of their old-timers to file for him that day, instead of representing the start of a new descent... Read More
1. For Russian orphans life is much more dangerous in Russia than in America. Let's agree to disregard the hidden subtext which implies that any country ought to give over its orphans to foreign nationals should it be ranked safer for children. Let's first examine if the claim that Russia is 39 times more dangerous... Read More
At least if you take Michael Bohm's arguments in his latest Moscow Times missive on how Russia Is Turning Into Iran to its logical conclusion. Look, I'm not a fan of blasphemy laws. The First Amendment is a wonderful thing and something that makes the US truly great... even exceptional, to an extent. Although it... Read More
One of the most common arguments made to explain why Russians don't finally overthrow the evil Putin in a bloody bunt is that they are brainwashed by the regime's TV propaganda stations. This isn't actually very accurate at all. Russian TV isn't any more propagandistic than in the West, and on some issues, less so;... Read More
One of the main theses of this blog is that in many respects, Russia is far more similar to the the "West" (and vice versa) than various democratists would have you believe. Case in point (h/t Jon Hellevig): "Mandatory" but "no one was forced to attend." Hmm... how does that work? This episode of Ohio... Read More
There's tons of criticism that Russia no longer has a "national idea." The sentiment comes from almost everyone: Nationalists, liberasts, Communists, foreign critics, Russian "experts" with far too much time on their hands, and even some otherwise astute observers. I don't disagree with the thesis, but do ask: Why is that such a bad thing?... Read More
Just to hammer down the myth of Russian impoverishment one more time (with the help of graphs from Sergey Zhuravlev's blog)... In the past few years, in terms of basic necessities (food, clothing, housing) Russia has basically (re)converged to where the Soviet Union left off. Here is a graph of food consumption via Zhuravlev. At... Read More
Via The Economist, I've come across some fascinating research by Orley Ashenfelter and Stepan Jurajda (Comparing Real Wage Rates, 2012) showing how real wages can be meaningfully compared across different regions by taking notes on prices and wages in McDonald's restaurants. The methodology seems solid. Big Macs are a very standardized product, hence they are... Read More
Following the precedent I set with Alex Mercouris - why should I write a post on something myself, when one of the commentators has already done something better? - I present this article on Russia's recent gastronomic revolution by Ivan Golov: I can assure you that Russia has been going through a mass gastronomic and... Read More
In my nearly 20 years experience as a Russian living in the West, I have found that almost all my fellows can be reduced to five basic types: 1) The White Russian; 2) The Sovok Jew; 3) The Egghead Emigre; 4) Natasha Gold-Digger; 5) Putin's Expat. My background and qualifications to write on this topic?... Read More
In my previous demography post, I argued that for all intents and purposes, Russia's "demographic crisis" can be reasonably argued to have ended. Population growth is now consistently positive since 2009, and as of last year, the country's natural decrease was a mere 131,000. This is a massive improvement over the 500,000-1,000,000 annual natural decrease... Read More
There is a certain Russian expression: "Москва — не Россия" (i.e. Moscow, isn't Russia), to denote the idea that while the capital may be rich, at least by Russian standards, the rest of the country languishes in grinding poverty. This is a trope is frequently taken up by the Western media, which at times presents... Read More
Once again, a picture that's worth a thousand words, courtesy of Alex Kireev: A map of how Russians abroad voted in the 2012 elections (see below). Quantitatively, they split into three main groupings, each accounting for about a third of the votes from abroad: (1) Residents of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie; (2) Other republics... Read More
In the wake of Putin's article on national security for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, there has been renewed interest in Russia's ambitious military modernization plans for the next decade. I am not a specialist in this (unlike Dmitry Gorenberg and Mark Galeotti, whom I highly recommend), but I do think I can bring much-needed facts and good... Read More
In terms of new cars, they now are. According to 2011 statistics, Russians bought 17.6 new automobiles per 1000 people. This indicator is still quite a bit below most of Western Europe, such as Germany's 38.5, France's 33.4, Britain's 31.9, Italy's 30.1, and Spain's 20.0. However, it has already overtaken most of East-Central Europe, whose... Read More
In the aftermath of the 2011 Duma elections, the Russian blogosphere was abuzz with allegations of electoral fraud. Many of these were anecdotal or purely rhetorical in nature; some were more concrete, but variegated or ambiguous. A prime example of these were opinion polls and exit polls, which variably supported and contradicted the Kremlin's claims... Read More
As repeatedly noted by Mark Adomanis, the Russian liberals and the Western media have predicted about 10 of the last zero Russian revolutions. Likewise, the "Jasmine Revolution" in China that was the subject of so much talk about a year ago has fizzled out like a wet firework. Meanwhile, the Arab world remains in the... Read More
After peaking in 2007 at the height of its oil boom, the Russian economy slid off the rails, with GDP collapsing by 25% from peak to trough. Attempts to stem the decline by arresting pessimistic economists failed. Its image as a tiger economy, heavily promoted by Kremlin ideologues, was revealed to be a sham. Though... Read More
Иn the wake of the 2009 recession, declinist rhetoric has come to dominate discussion of Russia's economic prospects. Jim O'Neill, the founder of the BRIC's concept, has his work cut out defending Russia's expulsion from the group in favor of Indonesia, Mexico, or some other random middle-sized country. Journalists in the Western media claim its... Read More
Not really arguing anything in this post, just sharing some interesting stats I found about the affluent class in Russia (as compared with BRIC's and others). First, as we know Russia is (in)famous for the opulence of it oligarchy. But according to the research firm Wealth-X, despite a relatively high number of billionaires, its overall... Read More
Everything's going badly in Russia. Medvedev's reforms are failing. The economy isn't growing. It is moving from authoritarianism to totalitarianism (in stark contrast to civilized Western countries), and the motto "We cannot live like this any longer!" once again becomes an article of faith in the land - or well, at least among "the blogs... Read More
The Russian magazine Esquire came up with some pretty shocking figures: It would be cheaper to pave one 48km road for the Sochi Olympics with elite beluga caviar than asphalt. The total cost would come in at a cool 227 billion rubles, or $160 million per kilometer - five times higher than what it costs... Read More
After its long pre-modern stint as Europe's most populated nation, France started transitioning to lower birth rates from the Napoleonic era, about a century in advance of the rest of Europe. On the eve of the First World War, its stagnant population made a stark contrast to German youth and virility. Considering the disparity in... Read More
As we covered in the previous instalment, Demographics I: The Russian Cross Reversed?, fertility rates are not abnormally low by European standards and are likely to rise further in the future. The same cannot be said of mortality rates - a 'quiet crisis' that has been a 'catastrophe of historic proportions'. Take life expectancy. As... Read More
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.