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Grigory Pasko: A System of Coordinates

paskoprotest052608A system of coordinates By Grigory Pasko, journalist Если Вы хотите прочитать оригинал данной статьи на русском языке, нажмите сюда. From a Russian newspaper of the end of the 19th century: “From the predictions of the clairvoyant from Tsvetnoy Boulevard: “In Zhitomir on account of the mud will be suspended the movement of minds”. From a letter to the magazine «Voprosy filosofii» [Questions of Philosophy]: “Dear editors! I would like to know: “a wage increase of 300 rubles” [around 13 dollars—Trans.]—is this a complete sentence or a meaningless cluster of words?”. Photo: Protesting motorists sporting the seditious color orange

From modern-day Russian reality. At the last session of the cabinet of ministers still under Viktor Zubkov was adopted a decision that will have a negative impact on the standard of living. As the news agencies report, tariffs will once again be leaping up.And here are the numbers from the report of the minister for economic development and trade (MERT), Elvira Nabiullina.Tariffs for a local telephone connection in consideration of the subscriber fee in the year 2008 will increase by 6%, in the year 2009 – by 67.5% and in the years 2010-2011 by 6% per year. The fee for the services of telegraph communications in the years 2008-2011 will increase by 25% per year, that is it will increase by two times by the year 2012.Tariffs for the distribution of teleradio programs in the year 2008 will increase by 9%, in the year 2009 – by 15% and in the years 2010-2011 – by 6.5% per year.To send a letter in the years 2009-2010 will become more expensive by 20% for each year and by 15% in the year 2011. It is being proposed to increase the regulated tariffs for the population for electric power in the year 2008 by 14%, in 2009, 2010 and in 2001 by 25%. Prices for gas, released to the population, will on average be raised in 2008 and the year 2009 – by 25%, in 2010 by 30% and in 2011 – by 40%.From 1 July by 8% will be raised the tariffs for the freight shipments of OAO «RZhD» [Russian Railroads—Trans.] From 1 January of the year 2009 the increase in the tariff for railroad shipments may comprise from 12.5% to 14% (17.1-18.7% on average over the previous year), in the year 2010 – by 9.7-13.7% and in the year 2011 – by 10-14%.Right after the inauguration of Dmitry Medvedev there took place in Russia a sharp upward jump in prices for gasoline. On the whole, the price for gasoline rose from the beginning of the year by 4%. Following in its footsteps was an increase in the price for foodstuffs as well. The increase in prices continues.motoristsprotestFrom motorists’ protest; the sign in the window reads “Motorists against bureaucracy”With such forecasts and with such a state of affairs today, the government of new premier Putin insists that it will be able to keep inflation down and to raise pensions. (Although, if you raise pensions by 300 rubles per year, then you have to be ready for the fact that their recipients will write letters to the editor of the magazine «Voprosy filosofii» (see above).All these numbers – are a visible indicator of the inefficiency of the state’s policy. And nobody is held accountable for this inefficiency: officials simply play musical chairs, as was demonstrated during Putin’s move from the Kremlin to the White House.Double standards – are the essence of Russian politics and of life in general in the country. Moreover, these double standards manifest themselves not only in the economy, but in more prosaic things as well. For example, football. What amazed me about the recent football events (the victory of Gazprom’s “house team” «Zenit» over «Glasgow Rangers» and the match of the English «Manchester United» and «Chelsea» in Moscow) was one fact: it turns out that Russian teams appear in the Moscow stadium in «Luzhniki» on a monstrous synthetic playing surface. But before the arrival of the English – for one match – they laid a nice lawn. Then they’ll remove it, and the Russian teams will once again play on the customary plastic. From that same category some news: especially for the passage of VIP guests to their places in that same stadium in «Luzhniki» for the match of the two English teams, a special bridge was erected at a cost of one million euros: so that the high guests wouldn’t accidentally bump into any ordinary Russians at the entrance to the stands.There are double standards also in the fact that the leaders of the country and their housetrained State Duma react to events that little concern the inhabitants of Russia. For example, to the trial in Estonia of a person who had sent Estonians to Siberia to certain death. But news such as the disappearance from the assets of «Gazprom» of 6.3% of the shares with a value of 20 billion dollars (this is being written about on the website www.grani.ru by Vladimir Milov (former deputy minister of energy) and Boris Nemtsov (former first deputy prime-minister of Russia) remained unnoticed by anybody: neither by the bureaucrats from the Accounting Chamber, nor by the procurators, nor by the new president, who has sworn to fight corruption and for the independence of the courts. By the way, the shares disappeared at that time when Medevedev himself headed the «Gazprom» board of directors.Double standards – this is a manifestation of the deceitfulness of those people who are now running the country. They’ve got an entirely different system of coordinates in relation to this country. They speak from lofty rostrums that the law needs to be obeyed, while at the same time they themselves violate it left and right with the greatest of ease. Who is running the country? This is former komsomol workers, representatives of the «red directors» contingent, all kinds of one-time criminals and FSB-ers. Today they possess factories, companies, banks, newspapers and television…In one of the forums on the internet I read such a comparison:“…In Moscow there is a Kosygin street, an Andropov avenue, and then there is Sverdlovsk [that is, named after Sverdlov—Trans.] oblast and monuments to Lenin. It is hard to imagine in today’s Berlin a Ribbentropstrasse, a Himmlerallé, as well as an oblast named after Goering someplace in Bavaria… It is impossible to imagine that the nazis hanged after the Nuremberg tribunal would be buried with honors by the walls of the Reichstag, while Hitler would lie in a mausoleum at the Brandenburg Gates, and that chancellor Merkel would climb atop this mausoleum every year and talk about fighting fascism… while military hardware would roll by on parade…”

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From motorists’ protest; the sign in the window reads “Will trade mediocre power for cheap gasoline!”

On the eve of the speeches by the new president on the unfit judicial system of the country there occurred an incident: the first deputy chairwoman of the Higher Arbitrazh Court, Elena Valyavina, publicly declared about pressure on the court on the part of… the administration of the president. They quickly swept the conflict under the carpet. They didn’t even let Valyavina appear in court in the capacity of a witness. Is this not a manifestation of another system of coordinates?The past began to return precipitously to Russia precisely under Putin. I had expected that sooner or later, following in the footsteps of the CPSU, which is now called «United Russia», we would see a return of the Komsomol and the Pioneers. They’re back. The Komsomols now call themselves «Young Guards», while the All-Russian Pedagogical Assembly has adopted the charter of the All-Russian Association of Children’s-and-Youths’ Civic Organizations, which is being created with the support of «United Russia». They haven’t yet called them Pioneers – the new amalgamation is going to be called «The Youth of Russia» [The Russian term, Yunost’ Rossii, can mean either “the young people of Russia” or “”Russia in its youth”—Trans.] And in the charter of the “young Russians”, in particular, is contained a provision about how the association has the right to conduct meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and picketing, as well as to participate in election campaigns.The deceitfulness of former president Putin, apparently, has appealed to many: he had to blame somebody for the mediocrity of the reforms, after all. Thus arose the idea to bad-mouth “those horrible 90s”. However, the numbers just don’t support the accusations of having robbed the country blind – in Transparency International’s world rating of the level corruption over the years of the rule of Putin Russia from dropped from 47th place to 143rd. Putin’s calls to fight what he himself with his team had created – is this not another system of coordinates?Of course, the people are grown tired of the lying. But the sprinkling around of petrodollars forces people to view what is going on with indifference: as long as they don’t touch mine… Many are not being touched – FOR NOW. The majority live according to the principle: my shack’s far from the center of things; don’t cross the power; don’t get involved in your neighbor’s problems… FOR NOW, the people do not understand that if They will be beating them, the neighbors will view this with indifference.On 24 May throughout all of Russia took place rallies and protest actions of motorists – against the rise in prices for fuel and against bad roads. It should be noted that this is hardly the first action of motorists: they take place all over the country just about every year. But the government, as can be seen, doesn’t pay the slightest attention to them.There have yet to be actions against the raising of prices for foodstuffs. But I think there will be. FOR NOW, the people don’t understand that they should be protesting not against the consequences of the policy of lying and double standards, but against the policy itself of those who live in another system of coordinates that differs from the life of the whole country.