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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

03/14/2008

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Price Controls Are Bad News for Everyone

Two ministries are caught in a struggle, and it doesn't matter who wins. Either way, merchants and shoppers will end up the losers.

Bewitched by Evil Eyes and Black Envy

Zavist' in Russian is a nasty and evil emotion. The verb zavidovat' (to envy someone) is related to the word vidat' (to see -- videt' in contemporary Russian) and seems to have been first associated with durnoy glaz (the evil eye). If someone looked enviously at you, he could hex your success. Later under Christianity, this black magic became one of the seven sins.

Benefits of Autocracy

President Vladimir Putin has managed democracy in a manner former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev must envy. Although the West hoped Gorbachev was a democratizer, he in fact was at most a soft moderate in a calcified totalitarian state. When democratic-like reforms were instituted, Gorbachev wailed in disbelief at his ""electorate's"" lack of patriotic discipline. The end result was nominal institutional change mixed with a tint of populism, swelling discontent from the right and left and a helpless Gorbachev alone in the middle, with only anachronistic Soviet rhetoric and Western sympathy to comfort his egress. Seventeen years later, Putin has accomplished what Gorbachev attempted to construct -- democratic centralism.

So Much Will Depend on the Prime Minister

According to a joke doing the rounds in Brussels, two Eurocrats are discussing the European Union's Russia policy. ""I wonder what things are going to be like after Putin,"" says one. ""Hard to say,"" replies the other. ""A lot will depend on the new prime minister.""

Moscow's Missile Gambit

Six years ago, President George W. Bush announced the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the United States' intention to deploy defenses against emerging threats from countries such as North Korea and Iran. Contrary to prevailing expectations, the sky did not fall. Moscow's response, delivered in a statement by President Vladimir Putin, expressed disagreement with the U.S. decision but emphasized that U.S. defenses were not a threat to Russia and that Russia would make major reductions in its strategic offensive forces -- a striking rebuke to the myth that ending the ABM Treaty would lead to an arms race.

U.S. Report Met With Bitterness in Moscow

The Associated Press
Year after year, the United States issues a troubling assessment of human rights in Russia.

Medvedev Moves to Kremlin

Reuters, MT
President-elect Dmitry Medvedev has moved into the Kremlin eight weeks before he officially takes over from his mentor, President Vladimir Putin, a Kremlin source said Thursday.

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