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Russia's Crimea Ballot Fraud that Wasn't

 

The Kremlin's ballot scheme in Crimea that probably never happened. Images mixed by author.

The Kremlin's ballot scheme in Crimea that probably never happened. Images mixed by author.

The Crimea will host a referendum this Sunday, March 16, 2014, to determine whether the autonomous republic will remain in Ukraine under expanded autonomy or ask to be absorbed into the Russian Federation. For the past two weeks, Ukraine’s new authorities in Kiev have railed against the vote, arguing that the Crimean parliament has no right to pursue secession without the participation of the national government.

Some Russian Internet users are now concluding from images circulating online that Crimean state officials might be planning to exclude their own electorate from the voting process, as well.

The photograph at the center of the ballot falsification scandal.

On March 12, blogger Rustem Adagamov published photographs from Itar-Tass by Sergei Fadeichev of referendum preparation throughout the Crimea. In one photograph (see above), a young man is moving what appears to be a stack of voting ballots. After Adagamov published the images, observant readers quickly noticed that the cover sheets on the stacks of paper were printed with pro-secession votes already selected.

The website freejournal.biz picked up the chatter on Adagamov’s blog, running a story with the headline, “Ballots in the Crimea Already Filled Out in the Right Place.” The piece also cited a Facebook post by Ukrainian parliament member Oleksandr Briginets, where he reported secondhand information that Russian citizens were being bused into Simferopol to stuff the ballot box in favor of secession. “My mom and many people living in Feodosia saw these buses!!!” Briginets wrote on March 13.

According to Yandex’s blogs search engine, there are 780 separate pingbacks to the freejournal.biz post, meaning that hundreds of Russian bloggers—writing mostly on Vkontakte and Twitter—shared this story, typically expressing their anger about the apparent voter fraud planned for this Sunday.

A close-up of the pro-secession Crimean referendum leaflets.

Upon closer inspection, however, the falsified ballots in the photograph on Adagamov’s blog may in fact be leaflets made by pro-Russia agitators. The same day that Adagamov posted the images, newspaper RBC Daily published its own photograph—a close-up—of the same documents (see above), which it identified as leaflets produced by a local chapter of the Party of Regions.

Admittedly, the leaflets were designed to be nearly identical to the real ballots. There are two important differences, however. Unlike the official ballot announced earlier this week by Crimean election head Mikhail Malyshev, the leaflets were printed on white paper. (The actual ballots are being printed on yellow paper.) The paper size of the leaflets also seems to be larger than the dimensions that Malyshev advertised this Tuesday. Finally, of course, there is the booming red checkmark on the leaflets. If you look carefully at RBC’s picture, you’ll see that the box around the checkmark doesn’t close completely. There is a small space left unfilled, making it impossible even to suggest that the vote was cast after the ballot was printed.

So does this mean that Russia won’t try to steal the referendum on Sunday? It absolutely does not mean that. But this one photograph and the reaction it’s causing online do suggest that Russians won’t be terribly surprised, if the vote is fixed. Many are ready to believe the worst now, even on laughably circumstantial evidence.

  • Pingback: Tony Yustein's Thoughts | Russia’s Crimea Ballot Fraud that Wasn’t · Global Voices()

  • beat_the_bush

    If 97% of the vote isn’t voter fraud, then I don’t know what is.

    Are there real journalists at this paper, or are you just trying to insert artificial balance. It’s a fraud.

    • Arctic_Slicer

      The results were blatantly fraudulent; they didn’t even try to make them seem legit. With claims that there was an 83% turnout despite massive boycotts by the opposition or that over 40% of the Tatars showed up to the polls and a majority of them voted for Russia further illustrates how blatant the lying is.

      “It’s not the people that vote that count; it’s the people that count the votes” — Josef Stalin

      What should happen now is for the UN general Assembly to pass non-binding resolutions that reassert the currunt governemnt in Kyiv is legitimate and that Crimea is, was and will remain a part of Ukraine. Doing so would show solidarity with Ukraine against Russia’s dangerous actions.

      Ukraine should immediately issue arrest warrants for Sergei Aksyonov and Vladimir Konstatinov for charges of treason. Ukraine then should ask for the help of NATO in bringing these criminals and other terrorists to justice. With the support of consent of Ukraine’s government NATO could operate on Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea, for purposes of border security and counter-terrorism without declaring war on anyone. NATO should be willing to immediately fulfill any such request.

      • Edmund burke326

        Tatars are Sunni Muslim they are as fearful of the neo-nazis as Russians. The tartars were asked to vote against reunification, they didn’t. Enough voted for reunification, moreover Turkey’s Erdogan is equivocal in his support/non-support of the tartars which, in spite of the occupation of Cyprus and NATO membership, means those tartars that voted for reunification saw “the writing on the wall” and made a wise choice.

    • Kevin Briggs

      Good point, but then again 100% to over 100% wasn’t with the Obama election, so maybe not.

  • SlammoFandango

    93% of voters identifying themselves as African-American then stating that they voted for Barack Obama constitutes fraud? I think not.

  • jeffbguarino

    There should be no check at all , suggesting which way to vote. This guy doesn’t get it. I’m sure that most people know how to check a ballot.

    • dale ruff

      Republicans and Democrats send out such sample ballots, with preferred vote pre-selected. This is just campaigning.

  • dale ruff

    Ukraine per capita income: 3.6K; Russian per capita income: 14K. Case closed.

    • jeffbguarino

      When the price of Oil was high , Putin bought the Russian public with $14k per year. Instead of paying them 3.6 k like the Ukrainians make and investing in the Russian economy he gave it to the Russian population to buy them. Now what do they have ….Right nothing. Total mafia , this is what Russia has and they will find out when the $14k goes to $2k because the $12 k is oil money.

      • dale ruff

        Are you mad? Or have you just swallowed govt propaganda hook, line, and sinker?

        Putin did not give anyone 14K a year; he promoted economic policies, including restraining the mafia oligarchy which has bought up public assets under Yeltsin and his conservative Harvard economists for pennies on the dollar, with prison sentences, which, combined with rising oil prices, created amazing economic growth, tripling GDP. This stunning growth is what caused wages to more than double.

        A leader who could double wages in 14 years (in the same 14 yrs, US median wage fell 15%) would not have to buy the public; they would support him out of rational self-interest,
        You are so naive that you think a leader can “give” people higher wages. This shows a total ignorance of economics. Wages rise when economic growth, profits, and productivity are distributed to labor. In the US, by contrast (and where Congress has 13% approval, whereas Putin has over 80%) since 1989, productivity has risen 90%, profits have doubled, and median wages have fallen over 40%.

        People support leaders whose policies raise their standards of living, which is why Bill Clinton (a total slimeball) is the only President whose approval rating when he left office was higher than when he entered. People appreciate leaders who do what the Constitution mandates as a primary function of government, “to promote…and provide for the general welfare” which can be measured by a rising standard of living.

        Putin’s policies, combined with favorable oil prices have, indisputably created a Russia which today is richer, freer, and more democratic than any time in its history. If this is buying public support, that is the correct way to do it, by raising the people out of the abject poverty of the 90’s, when per capita income dropped to 2K per year, to becoming, in 2012, for the first time in its history, a “high income nation.”

        If median wages in the US since 2000 (the yr Putin was elected) had not dropped 15% but doubled, we would all be living on an average household income of 48K but on 96K. By your logic, that would be a bad thing.

        Putin has public support because he has finally helped Russia rise out of poverty into a nation which has run budget surpluses for 14 straight yrs, with a debt of 14% (US debt is over 100%) and a surplus cushion for hard economic times (now externally produced) of more than 40 billion. In the same time, the US has run 14 straight yrs of budget deficits, including the record 1.4 tirillon deficit under Bush’s 8th budget.

        Putin has earned public support by raising the

      • dale ruff

        More facts: Putin has been elected to lead now for 14 yrs (in two different positions). Here is a report from his first 8 years:

        ” The eight years of Putin’s presidency saw a doubling of
        living standards, a 70 percent increase in GDP, the paying down of nearly all Russia’s foreign
        sovereign debts, and the accumulation of a war-chest of $402 billion foreign currency reserves as
        of March 2008. (www.cbr.ru) In current dollar prices, GDP went from $200 billion in 1999 to
        $1.26 trillion in 2007. Russia moved up from being the 20th largest economy in the world to the
        seventh. The World Bank estimates the Gross National Income per capita at $5,780 in 2006, with
        a GNI of $823 billion. (World Bank 2007)”

        Many scoffed at this amazing rags to riches record predicting it would soon collapse. They have been proved wrong, since today, the per capita income is 14K and GDP is about 2 trillion. The skeptics were fools. GDP has tripled and wages have doubled. Russia is richer than ever and even with the worldwide recession of 2008, Russia has continued to grow.

        Many, including Obama, claim the Russian economy is in tatters. This is a propaganda lie. Russias has a nearly 500 billion surplus to weather hard time, and in the last quarter, due in part to the devaluation of the ruble, Russia ran, as it has for 14 straight years under Putin, a budget surplus (while the US again ran a half trillion deficit).

        Due to external factors like the Saudi oil price war and US/EU sanctions the Russian economy is expected to contract perhaps 4% this next year, then 1-2%, then recover. But given its surplus, its low debt, and its having raised GDP 300% under Putin, a 5-6% temporary contraction is a drop in a large bucket.

        The state/media propagandist want to persuade you their policies are work

        • jeffbguarino

          I took economics at University of Manitoba.

          Yeltsin was president in a very turbulent time and did abuse power but nothing like Putin. How on earth did Putin become a billionaire from having nothing unless he stole it. He is one of them.

          OK the 14k US$ average that the Russian people were making should have been heavily taxed. Most of it came from oil money and the state takes the oil revenues and puts it directly into the budget, so it does go to the people. It should have been going to invest in diversification of the economy and infrastucture. Everyone knows this stuff and it is not propaganda from the west.

          Bush should be in jail for what he did in Iraq and so should putin for what he did in Georgia and is doing in Ukraine.

          He is desperate to do anything to hold onto power just like Hitler and the favorite thing all of these leaders do is start wars. The west is and was friendly to Russia but Russia need and enemy to boost putins ratings and keep in in power.

          Europe has cut it defense budgets to 1/10 of what they were 20 years ago. Not wasting money on useless military. Russia could do the same. Russia has no reason to fear the west. The west does not want any part of Russia and Putin knows this. He needs an enemy , he has a propaganda machine …..so away he goes…creating a classic ,,,seen it ,done it before. After years of false information the Russian people are believing it and it is very sad.

          If they had had a proper leader and government , it could be a very vibrant country now. It will never happen with the current governing body.

          What Nuland did was wrong but the factors were in place and it was predestined that the Ukrainians were fed up with corruption and wanted to clean up the country. Her being there would not have made any difference. The 5 billion spent on Ukraine was from 1992 and was to help Ukraine get on its feet and stop corruption and stop abuses and humanitarian purposes and to help organize democratic parties in an unbiased way. This is often lately used as false propaganda being explained as the USA spending 5 billion to start the Maiden revolution and expell the president. The president abandoned his post and fled to Russia , The government then did what is was supposed to do according to the constitution. They did not fight in Crimea because they had no mandate , being a non elected entity and in a very vulnerable position because of that. Putin took full advantage of this situation.

          The west and the USA and Canada have all been hoping and very happy that Russia had joined the rest of the world and the war mongering was supposed to be finished with. That is way the borders of all countries are fixed. Fixed and permanent so there is no point in starting wars to protect ethnic Germans or ethnic Russian or whatever ethnic people not living in the country of origin. This is why there has been peace since WW2 in Europe.

          Russia is finished and the Russian people will in short order realize what has happened. It is a shame that such an educated population is tricked into believing fantasies about the rest of the world and it will take some time for them to realize the truth because they have been so brainwashed. Only one state controlled propaganda TV. How can anyone take this news seriously ? Blatant lies that only the rest of the world reveals about Russian media.

          You have to broaden your horizons and read wide , not just Russia TV.

          You are telling me to do the same but I already do . I read and watch everything from a nonbiased standpoint and once you do that the answer is obvious. Google it , Google more or try AlJazerra ,,,whatever. The whole world will give you a consensus.

          Central Bank reserves have declined to $388.5 billion, down $32 billion
          this month and down $123 billion in 2014. Barclays Capital analyst
          Daniel Hewitt. At this rate this puny fund will dry up in a few months.

          Russia is #9 in the world . Among a whole group of very close countries. Canada. But Canada has 35 million people and Russia 141million. It is a joke what Putin could have done but squandered.
          In Canada with a grade 12 education you can work on the railway and make $160,000/year. compare to $14,000 ??? Joke.

          Trillions of $
          8 Italy 2,149,485
          9 Russia 2,096,774
          10 India 1,937,797
          11 Canada 1,838,964
          12Australia 1,531,282
          13 Spain 1,358,263
          14 South Korea1,304,554

          • dale ruff

            Yeltsin shelled the Parliament when they didn’t agree with him. Putin has respectfully followed the rulings of the Parliament.

            Yeltsin saw GDP drop 40% and per capita sink to 2K as he sold off state assets pennies on the dollars to the oligarchs.

            Putin has put many oligarchs in jail and since elected, GDP has tripled and wages doubled, with 14 straight yrs of budget surpluses.

            “Russia is finished..” that is just Western propaganda; Russia withstood 25 million killed, its cities and 70,000 villages destroyed, and triumphed; a 5% contraction after a 300% gain in GDP is trivial.

            I read international press from
            Australia, Kiev, Russia, UK, France, Germany, and many other nations.
            I read history and political science books and have a world class education in poly sic (UC Berkeley PBK, Harvard Grad School of Govt, NYU Grad School of Govt).

            Putin is hardly desperate, as he has over 80% public support. It is the US (Congress has 13% approval), UK and France (leaders with approval in the 20’s) and Spain and Greece now revolting against the German and IMF bankers.

            Russia doesn’t want war; it wants to continue making money, but the US appointed stooges in Ukraine (which overthrew an elected govt and now have a billionaire as President, whom the State Dept in 2006 called a “corrupt oligarch” as well as neo-Nazis from Svoboda an Right Sector in critical positions, as well as US appointed central banker Stooge “Yats” indebting Ukraine 18 billiion BEFORE elections.

            Ukraine per capita income is 3.6K and falling; Russian per capita income is 14K, 7 times higher than in the low point of the 90’s when Yeltsin destroyed the economy with help of conservative Harvard economists.

            You are just repeating State Department propaganda.

            Your criticism of doubling the wages hardly would get anything but laugh from Russians. Oil demand is not going away but growing, so Russia is in a powerful position with 600 billion in new deals with the world’s fastest growing economies. The sanctions are giving them an opportunity to expand agriculture and domestic manufacturing.

            Russia is prepared to thrive, when these external forces backfire, as they already have. Putin hardly needs a ratings boost as his rating are higher than any other leader in the world.

            Your commentary is quite absurd but amusing.

          • jeffbguarino

            Very good mr. Dale Ruff. Did you go to Russia and talk to the people. They do phone surveys and the people are afraid to say anything against Putin. 80% is a fantasy. Maybe 8%. I met Russian people who got out of Russia and they tell me “Russia is F**Ked” Read all the books you want ,,,,the book knowledge never matches the practical knowledge gained in the field. That is why they always say ” the guy is book smart but fails at the job” The history books are written by the victors. You have to read between the lines and you have to go there.

            Do you really know how Putin got rich and why he is jailing other oligarchs ? You don’t explain this part. If Putin is putting the corrupt Oligarchs in Jail , he should be there too.

            The Soviet Union collapsed and the GDP plummeted. The Soviet Union and Japan( number #2 or #3) were neck in neck. So to go from number 2 to number twenty , just to bounce back to a former shadow of it’s prior economy. A monkey could do this . It is the same with stock markets. There is a big crash and a bounce back. Putin is taking credit for the bounce. It is typical. I am sort or equating Russia with USSR but Russia was the biggest component so you have to give some leeway. Why did Russia not bounce back to number 2 or 3 ? instead of # 9. The answer is corruption.

            How can you deny that the media is controlled by the state and the Putin vertical. Are you telling me this is western propaganda that there is no freedom of the press in Russia ???

            Answer me please. Why does Putin want it so ?????
            Are you sure Russia lost 25 million or was it USSR that lost 25 million.
            I read that Russia lost 13,950,000, Ukraine 6,850,000.
            If you are so good on facts, I have no clue where you get your numbers??????????
            I read your paragraph about the recovery of USSR after WW2 but I fail to see the relevance. Why are you telling me this about the USSR.

          • dale ruff

            You are sadly and profoundly deluded. Russia today is richer, freer, and more democratic than ever in its long history. Putin’s support is genuine since under his rule, Russians have doubled their wages.

            As for fear of not supporting PUtin that is clearly absurd, since Russia has street opposition demonstrations (funded by the US) and thousands of independent media which oppose his policies.

            Your claim that Russia has not yet reached the level it had under Communism is ludicrous. The highest per capita income under Communism was $8,700 (adjusted for inflation); today it is 14K.

            Going from the 2K per capita income at the depths of the 90’s collapse to 14K is not just a bounce; it is the result of the economy (GDP) growing by 300%. Your claim that a monkey could increase economic growth by 300% demonstrates how fatally stupid you really are externally engineered by SA, US, and EU. The Saudis do not have this public support, since their spending cuts, once they burn up their surplus, are internally created…and the fascist monarchy will be vulnerable to popular revolt.

            Another demonstration of your lack of mental clarity is that you are comparing the USSR, with a population if 283 million, with Russia, with 140 million. Of course a nation twice as large had a larger economy…duh.

            At its economic height, the Soviet Union had 14% of the world’s GDP, and at its collapse, it had 3.6%. The Russian economy is smaller but then it is half the population of the USSR.

            The reason the people of Russia support Putin and the government is because their standard of living has doubled since he was elected, while median wages in the US have declined 15%. Russian debt is 14% compared to over 100% for the US. Russia has run 14 straight yrs of budget surpluses, including last quarter due to the devaluation of the ruble, whereas the US has run 14 straight years of huge deficits.

            Russians support Putin’s administration because of the great benefits it has brought. At no time in history, and this is indisputable, has Russia ever been richer or more democratic.

            The reason Congress only has 13% approval is because in the past 15 years (since the Clinton surpluses), wages have fallen 15% and debt has tripled, poverty grown and inequality increased.

            The reference to WWII is instructive, since it shows that Russia has survived the Nazi assault, which killed millions and destroyed it cities.
            The Russian spirit of survival will not be daunted by a 5 or 6% contraction after a 300% gain in GDP since 2000. This is a lesson from history which, if you ignore, will lead you to underestimate the grit and strength of the Russian people.

            I suggest you have swallowed State Department propaganda rather than looking at the facts of Russia’s amazing rise from abject poverty 20 years ago to becoming, for the first time ever, a “high income nation” with the lowest national debt ratio of any major nation and a surplus which will allow it to survive the Saudi price war as long as the Saudis, who have a similar surplus cushion (which they are burning up) and whose budget is balanced at $95 oil, whereas Russia’s is balanced at $100. Russians will tolerate spending cuts, understand that the problems in its economy are

          • jeffbguarino

            Did you read what I said. “you have to give me a little leeway”
            It is roughly correct and would make it more complex to divide out half the population. The Russian segment was the largest and the math would turn out the same. I took 6 years of advanced engineering math, with statistical analysis and also a heavy dose of economics. I don’t know what your credentials are but you told me you read a lot of history books. Historians are not usually good with numbers.

            You still did not answer the question I asked you about the Russia media machine and disinformation .

            I just googled everything you spoke about. The Economy of Ussr to Russia did not really contract as much as was officially recounted. There was an extreme reduction in military spending which skewed all the numbers.

            Please , Russians are people like any other people and not better or worse , so your instructional lesson for me went in one ear and out the other. The people you are talking about are all dead now anyway and replaced by new people. How can you compare dead people to the people living in Russia now. This is total nonsense. It is simply wrong to think of a set of people as more hardy and special . We are all the same, just called by different names.

            I just looked at the average wage us Soviets and transitioning into Russia and , the wages in 1991 were higher that 2006, where the graph ends. http://www.voxeu.org/article/russia-s-national-income-war-and-revolution-1913-1928

            It looks an awful lot like a typical “bounce”

            Ok you are not answering my direct questions and you are beginning to just throw insults

            To be honest with you , I am finished talking to you . You post “fact” with no references and then tell me I am not checking anything, when if fact I check everything and take nothing at face value. Not the state department , never any Russian source , never Fox news.

            I went to Moscow and Krasnoyarsk , deep in Siberia and see no one with high wages and just misery and depression. The roads were beautiful with hardly any cars. (no one can afford) No houses. No subdivision houses. Houses built haphazard with trails to reach them and fenced in with bars. People doing useless jobs. The bus system still has conductors walking around collecting money from the riders. God , I have never seen anything like it. Inefficiencies. Go on google earth and zoom in on a Russian city , say Izhevsk:

            https://maps.google.ca/maps?ll=49.908996,-97.024285&z=13&output=classic&dg=opt go to street view and you will be amazed. This city about 1 million people.

            The money the people are getting is coming from oil and gas. There is no question about it.

          • dale ruff

            A bounce from per capita 2K per year to !4K per year is a typical bounce; a growth of 300% in GDP is a typical bounce. You are desperately and absurdly trying to dismiss the amazing rise in the standard of living of the Russian people. They know better, which is why they support Putin by over 80%.

            Under Yeltsin, the economy contracted 40%. If you wish to refute my facts, please do so. There is no controversy about such facts and I will not give a footnote for facts you can find yourself in 10 seconds with a search engine.

            Much of the money is coming from oil and gas. What’s your point? That people will soon no longer need oil and gas? That making money with weapons and financial manipulations as in the US is a more solid foundation for prosperity?

            In fact, in 2012, gas/oil were 16% of Russian GDP.

            From 2K in the 90’s, per capita income climbed to about 6K in 2006, and since then has risen to 14K. Look it up. I defy you to refute these documented facts, and no I will not provide a source everytime I cite a fact. Life is not long enough, but if you can refute any evidence I have presented, I will acknowledge it and thank you.

            I don’t have to visit Russia to know that 14K a year is better than 2K a yr in the 90’s or 8.7K at the height of the Soviet economy. I do not need to goodge Ishevsk to know that a national debt of 14% with 14 straight years of budget surpluses is better than 14 yrs of massive deficits (as in the US and most other Western nations). In fact, I hope to visit Russia, where my ancestors came from….but facts are facts, and no amount of personal opinion can trump hard evidence.

            What’s wrong with GDP being 16% oil and gas? Are you suggesting this is a temporary phase since people will soon no longer want Russian oil and gas. In fact, they just signed 600 billion in trade deals………so wealth based on natural resources increasingly in demand is a firm foundation, and 84% of the GDP comes from other sources.

            You saw poverty in Russia. I have seen great and abject poverty in the US. I have lived in hopeless slums in the richest nation on earth. What’s your point?

            Russian buses are inefficient. How about the 3 trillion US healthcare system, which has the worst results of any advanced nations (and worse than many poor nations like Costa Rica and Cuba) and costs twice as much as any other nation. There’s inefficiency for you?

            How about a defense budget which, all considered, is about 1 trillion a year (including 200 billion in repayment for previous war debt…that’s why banks love war: endless profits), which includes unnecessary and criminal wars, killing millions (3 million in Vietnam, 1 million in Iraq under Clintons’ sanctions and Bush’s bombs) and building billion dollar weapons no one needs or wants?

            No one said Russia is perfect but it is a fact that today, it is far richer, freer, and more democratic than ever in its history. All progress is relative to what came before. By that standard, Russia is more successful than ever.

            Media: there are thousands of independent media in Russia and many opposition groups (often funded by the US). Are there issues? Yes. There are issues in all nations. For instance, in the US, 5 corporations control 90% of the media, and our most respected public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky (most respected in the world in 2005), Gar Alperowitz, Richard Wolf, et al are banned from the corporate media.
            Whistleblowers are locked up. Chelsea Manning exposed war crimes, and he criminals went free but she is in for 35 yrs.

            Do you deny Russia is richer and more democratic than ever in its history? You an only make that claim by denying the objective facts.

          • jeffbguarino

            OK well did you look at the Graph…I sent you a link. The 300% or 2 k to 14 k .. I don’t understand numbers flung into the air. Half the numbers you have are not representative and ignore all kinds of factors and probably creative accounting , but I havn’t time for numbers with no references. I gave you a link which has a graph. Continuous with Russian SSR and it show a peak and recovery , but nothing anywhere near the numbers you are talking about. The bounce in 1925 was a lot bigger. Of course this is GDP I am talking about but salaries follow hand in hand.

            look at lithuania compared to Russia. http://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/compare/lithuania.russia/economy

            All of the ex soviet bloc countries are doing better than Russia , because they diversified and did the necessary reforms that were required to turn the economies around. Putin ,,longs for the return of the USSR. He has said it was a the biggest tragedy of the 20th century. Why does he think so. Why does Gorbachev think Putin did such a great job keeping all the oblasts from splitting off from Russia. Maybe it would have been the best thing for Russia to split into a few smaller countries. Is that such a bad thing. Quebec wants to separate from Canada. Maybe it would be a good thing. Why do people want to hang onto their countries so badly and be proud of a piece of dirt. You had no control of the country your mother gave birth to you in , so what is it that makes you proud of your country. I did nothing for Canada and I am not proud of Canada, I just don’t care. I am proud of what I accomplish in my life, but to be proud of a certain country. Think about it. They pounded it into our heads since we were 5 years old in school , singing “god save the queen” “oh Canada” . The whole notion of countries and pride in them should be overturned . I look at people and don’t care what their citizenships are. I look at the merrits of the person. I don’t care which country you come from.

          • dale ruff

            Stop pretending you don’t understand why people appreciate seeing their incomes rise from 2K in the late 90’s to 14k today. It’s not rocket science.

            The rise of 300% in GDP is not mystical; it means that the Russian economy generated 3 times more economic activity and value, resulting in a government running 14 straight years of surpluses and wages doubling.

            Let’s compare Russia and Ukraine. Russia has surpluses and 14% debt and 14K per capita income. Ukraine has huge debt (just borrowed 18 billion and is asking for 28 billion more to avoid total collapse) and 3.6K income.

            Here are samples of household incomes from Russia’s neighbors (chart at Wikipedia, with sources.)

            Serbia 12K

            Albania 10.5K

            Bosnia 9.5K

            Georgia 7k

            Armenia 7k

            Uzbekistan 5K

            Moldova 4.6K

            Kyrgyzstan 3.2K

            Lithuania 25K

            Russia (in this chart) 24

            Ukraine 8.7K

            Poland 23K

            Latvia 22K

            Bulgaria 15K

            Bosnia 9.5K

            etc etc.

            This is from IMF data, which is probably not per capita but median household income. (US median wage is 26K but household is 49K)

            Russia, per the IMF data, is ranked 46th, while only 5 other neighboring nations rank higher (but not much…25-27K), while 24 near neighbors are much lower.

            None have risen as dramatically as Russia from 2K per capita in the 90’s low point to the current 14K per capita.

            Like John Lennon in Imagine, I too imagine
            no religion
            no borders
            no possessions

            all of which divide people by belief, tribe, and class.

            But when a nation like Russia (as the heart of the Soviet Union, and which bore the brunt of the 25 million deaths in WWII) is attacked, you have to distinguish a nationalism of liberation (such as the colonial America or WWII USSR from a nationalism of conquest (such as Nazi Germany.

            Nationalism has two faces: for the oppressed, it becomes a method of liberation from oppressors; for the oppressors, it is a method of crushing others. We need to support liberative nationalism (such as Greece today voting to challenge the banksters of Germany and the EU) and defeat the nationalism of the aggressor, as we see in Ukraine today.

            Nationalism has value or evil depending on the context. The Nazi nationalism of the Aryan nation (which current Ukraine far right leaders celebrate) is pure evil; the nationalism of the Russians and other Soviets to prevail over their attackers is of immeasurable value, as it enabled them to endure tens of millions of deaths and the destruction of their cities and their villages and enabled them to prevail. I honor such nationalism while denouncing the ultra-nationalism of the fascists.

            The rise in per capita income from 2K in the 90’s to 14K today is a matter of great pride for the Russians, as it should be. It shows the world that out of the most abject poverty and theft of the commonwealth, they have been able to become, for the first time in their history, not only a “high income nation” with low debt (lower than any other major nation) but more democratic than ever in their history.

            This is not perfection but how would you feel if you income rose 700% in 20 years and your nation once more was not scorned but respected worldwide. US and Western propaganda are trying to destroy that stunning progress and claiming Russia is “in tatters (Obama)”….but Russians know that is a lie..and all informed people know it likewise.

            I personally consider myself a citizen of the world but one who understand that if you are oppressed because you are Jewish or black or Russian or poor or gay, you have a need and a right to come together as a group to fight back.

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