poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

March 5, 2010

News Roundups, the New Black.

Filed under: Odds & Ends — poemless @ 6:05 PM

Which is quite convenient, as I’m going into mourning for winter. The rays of sun (the kind that actually radiate warmth!), the vast pits of mud in every direction, the minutes wasted staring indecisively at the closet of jackets, trying to remember which one is best for this weather… It appears the season of my discontent has arrived. I’ll spend the weekend in existential panic about it. And having dinner with friends, going to a play, watching the Oscars… Any time left for writing will be devoted to Andy’s interview questions. In the meantime, here are some articles of note:

Featured Articles.

~ From openDemocracy: So what do Russia’s people think?

In the first of his regular monthly reports for odRussia, Alexei Levinson of Russia’s prestigious Levada Centre offers a round-up of Russian public opinion at the start of 2010. Even when the economic crisis lead people to judge their government, he notes, approval of Prime Minister Putin remained high. Nor do people seem particularly bothered by Russia’s imaginary elections.

~ From A Fistful of Euros: Russia on the rebound.

Two interesting facts:
1) After sharply negative growth last year, Russia’s growth is predicted to exceed 6% this year. Okay, that’s just clawing back what they lost. But it’s still better than almost anywhere else in Eastern Europe.

2) For the first time in many, many years Russia’s population grew slightly: by a little over 20,000 people in 2009.

This growth is a combination of a slight downturn in the death rate, a noticeable uptick in the birth rate, and a sharp rise in immigration — it hit a ten year high, with about 240,000 people moving into Russia.

So: short-term blip, or sustainable?

Funny Pages.

~ From The Daily Rash: Harlequin Romance Replaces Fabio with Vladimir Putin!

“Don’t get me wrong! I’ve never read one of those books! But that Russian guy is at least believable! I was wary of Fabio when he started doing those butter commercials.” Newt ordered another scotch and lit a cigarette.

“I saw Last Tango in Paris with Brando.”

Newt puffed on his cigarette.

“So, I know what butter is used for.”

~ From Eternal Remont: Comming Soon: Jersey Shore, Russian Edition.

Apparently, it will correct the same kind of false stereotypes about Russian-Americans that Jersey Shore has so excellently dispelled for Italian-Americans.


~ From the fine State of Illinois: Forget law school, apply for Lieutenant Governor!

Illinois Democrats are trying to find a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, but they haven’t been taking the traditional route. Democrat Scott Lee Cohen originally won the nomination in February but dropped out of the race due to a scandal. That’s why the Illiniois Democratic Party is letting anyone apply for the position online. Seriously, no joke.

~ From the fine Russian Envoy to Nato: Rogozin…

“I’ll give a million dollars to the person who will prove that NATO is not pursuing military planning against Russia.”


~ From Tim Newman: Goodbye Sakhalin.

On 1st March I demobilised from Sakhalin Island having lived there on a residential basis since 12th September 2006, a period of 3 years, 5 months, and 19 days.[…]

I’ll miss it like hell.

~ Seen around blogistan:

RuNet Echo. “Global Voices’ RuNet Echo editors interpret and report on the Russian-language internet for a global audience.”

GosLiudi. Polit.ru creation for the “promotion and standardization of blogging and participating in online social projects of public people: government officials, governors, mayors, officials, deputies, heads of state-owned companies, experts and analysts in the state and e-government.”

Gov-Gov. Blog about government sites. “I am interested in all types of public web-projects – agitation and propaganda portals, Real Innovations, personal blogs and regular ministerial officials, foreign and domestic developments.”

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend!



  1. “Even when the economic crisis lead people to judge their government, he notes, approval of Prime Minister Putin remained high.”

    “After sharply negative growth last year, Russia’s growth is predicted to exceed 6% this year. Okay, that’s just clawing back what they lost.”

    Thanks for promising news. The crisis IS an important matter, but people react mostly in the introspective manner (suffering silently). 6% growth would be surely a relieve.

    Approval of Putin will stay high, until there would be a better choice.

    Comment by evgeny — March 7, 2010 @ 12:29 PM | Reply

    • About Russia’s economic growth for 2010.

      Assuming an L-shaped recession (i.e. no QoQ growth, i.e. GDP remains essentially flat throughout the year from Q4 2008), the growth relative to last year will be around 2-3% according to my back of the envelope calculations (due to low base effect since GDP dipped so much in Q1-Q3).

      If there is a moderate recovery, then growth may reach or even exceed the 6.2% predicted by Citigroup.

      At the moment, the VTB Russia GDP indicator (h/t Ed Hugh) is indicating a flat line through Jan-Feb.

      For the record, I’ll go the median way and predict 4% GDP growth for 2010.

      Comment by Tolya — March 8, 2010 @ 1:00 AM | Reply

  2. I think, I understand why Putin’s popularity is a puzzle for some Western journalists. That’s because they think in categories of “good-bad”, while Russians think about “better-worse”. It’s simple as that — Putin might be not very GOOD, but he is much BETTER.

    Comment by evgeny — March 7, 2010 @ 12:52 PM | Reply

    • While I think there are those in the West who hold him to such an incredibly high standard that he can only be “bad,” that there are those who present the world in terms of black and white, protagonists and antagonists, etc., I’m not sure it is true that they do not think in terms of “better and worse.” In fact, they are all to willing to see Medvedev as “Better” even though he still espouses many of the same positions as Putin. But he’s better, so we like him. In the case of Putin, it’s not that we do not think in terms of better and worse, but that there is a self-serving mythology surrounding the fall of the USSR. To admit that Putin inherited a disaster created by policies we encouraged would not just be an indictment of his predecessors, but of us. Ok, he might have been “better” for a few average joes, but in this grand narrative about the triumph of free-markets and democracy, how on earth could he be better than what came before him?

      All depends on one’s answer to the question, “Better at what?”

      Comment by poemless — March 8, 2010 @ 1:05 PM | Reply

  3. That’s because they think in categories of “good-bad”, while Russians think about “better-worse”.

    Actually, I think Americans (including the journos) think in terms of better-worse for the US, but in terms good-bad for everyone else except the “everyone else” is really a stand-in for themselves.

    Comment by Sean — March 8, 2010 @ 12:51 AM | Reply

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