“This feeling of responsibility of our citizens is the most important indication that our country is strengthening, not only economically and socially but also politically,” Mr Putin said.
The independent Russian monitoring group, Golos, had earlier reported various violations during the voting, which it said amounted to “an organised campaign”.
It had claimed that in a number of cases state employees and students were pressured to vote, and those voting for United Russia were entered into a prize lottery in St Petersburg.
In Russia’s troubled region of Chechnya, run by pro-Kremlin President Ramzan Kadyrov, electoral officials have said a partial count showed United Russia won more than 99% of the votes on a 99% turnout.
United Russia’s leader Boris Gryzlov acknowledged there had been violations but dismissed them as insignificant.
On Monday, some 10,000 members of the pro-Putin Nashi (Ours) youth group held a rally in Moscow to celebrate United Russia’s victory.
Mr Putin is constitutionally obliged to stand down after his second term as president ends in March next year.
The BBC’s James Rodgers in Moscow says his party’s win will enable him to continue wielding great influence in politics – even if he is no longer in high office.
Mr Putin announced this year he may seek the office of prime minister after his presidential term ends.
If predictions are correct and the Liberal Democratic Party enters parliament, its candidate Andrei Lugovoi – who is wanted in the UK for the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko – will be guaranteed a seat.
A parliamentary seat would grant him immunity from prosecution and extradition.
Source: BBC News
While Western governments and NGOs denounce Russia’s obvious dictatorship, state-run Voice of Russia, citing monitors from the communist-controlled Shanghai Cooperation Organization, trumpeted the election as “democratic and open”:
International monitors speak positively of yesterday’s parliamentary election in Russia. The Central Electoral Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov has told reporters that the monitors feel voting was democratic and open. They had access to polling stations in Russia’s different regions, could attend vote-counting and meet political party officials and voters. The point was reiterated by the chief monitor of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization group Gao Yuyshang, who said his delegation failed to fetch out any vote rigging.
Comrade Czar Putin insists that the election results will bring “stability” to Russia. State-run Interfax reports: “It is of paramount importance that the elections prove the internal political stability. The people of Russia are the main guarantor of this stability.” Actually, Putin, the Party, and their “sword and shield,” the secret police apparatus, are the “main guarantors” of stability in Russia. Last year in The Washington Post Nina L. Khrushcheva, who teaches international affairs at the New School in New York, provided an excellent definition of Putinism, Russia’s new ideology:
“Putinism,” an all-inclusive hybrid that embraces elements of Stalinism, communism, KGB-ism and market-ism, is our new national ideology. A man for all seasons and all fears, Russia’s president pretends that by selectively adopting and adapting some elements from his predecessors’ rule — the Russian Orthodox Church of the czars, the KGB of the Soviets, the market economy of the Boris Yeltsin era — he is eliminating the extremes of the past, creating a viable system of power that will last. But his closed and secretive system of governing — the “vertical power” so familiar from the pre-secret speech era, with information once again manipulated by the authorities — suggests that his proposed “unity” is yet another effort to rewrite the past.
In other words, in neo-Soviet Russia the state ideology is indeed communism, but one in which the official Communist Party (at least visibly, which is part of the whole deception) is a miserable, whining little rump of its former incarnation. During the days of open communism, KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn reveals in his two books, published in 1984 and 1995, the CPSU tasked the KGB with executing the long-range strategy of perestroika and world revolution. Now, since Putin’s accession to power, Chekists openly control the levers of power throughout Russia, proving yet again the accuracy of Golitsyn’s predictions. “Over the two terms of Mr Putin’s presidency, that ‘group of FSB operatives’ has consolidated its political power and built a new sort of corporate state in the process,” wrote The Economist in August 2007. “Men from the FSB and its sister organisations control the Kremlin, the government, the media and large parts of the economy—as well as the military and security forces.”
Incidentally, the election of Andrei Lugovoi on the LDPR ticket is a slap in the face to the British government, which is seeking to extradite the former Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB) agent on charges of murdering colleague Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006.
Meanwhile, another former FSB officer, Mikhail Trepashkin was freed from prison this past Friday after serving four years for “divulging state secrets.” Trepashkin maintains that his former employer set him up after he uncovered evidence of its involvement in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that propelled Putin into office. The complicity of the FSB in these outrages was also exposed by his friend and former colleague Litvinenko in Blowing Up Russia (2002, 2007). Trepashkin, the independent Moscow Times relates below, is a potential witness in the poisoning death of Litvinenko.
Trepashkin Freed After Serving 4-Year Sentence
By David Nowak Staff Writer
Monday, December 3, 2007. Page 5.
Bagila Bukharbayeva / AP
Mikhail Trepashkin, a former Federal Security Service agent, was freed from a Urals prison on Friday after serving four years for divulging state secrets.
Trepashkin, who maintains that the FSB set him up after he uncovered evidence of its involvement in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, expressed relief when speaking to reporters after his release.
“The worst is in the past. Before, I fought on my own, but now I have many more supporters,” Trepashkin said during an impromptu news conference in central Yekaterinburg on Friday, The Associated Press reported.
“I’ve served four years for things I haven’t done,” he added.
After resting at a friend’s house in Yekaterinburg, Trepashkin flew to Moscow to meet his wife, Tatyana, and three children.
Tatyana Trepashkina said in e-mailed comments Friday that she had “mixed feelings” about meeting her husband, a potential witness in the poisoning death of his former FSB colleague, Alexander Litvinenko.
“I myself don’t even know what to expect from Mikhail, though I am hoping for the best,” Trepashkina said, adding that she was currently looking for a clinic in Moscow to treat her husband’s asthma, which he developed in prison.
Before his arrest, Trepashkin turned down offers from London-based Kremlin foe Boris Berezovsky to move there, despite his wife’s pleas.
“Now he might agree to go to London,” she said. “Now he probably has no grounds to be so stubborn.”
But Gleb Edelev, head of the Yekaterinburg Movement Against Violence and Trepashkin’s friend, said he had no plans to leave the country.
“Mikhail has said he is going to sue the authorities for wrongful arrest and fight for the rights of other prisoners, so I would say there is little likelihood he is planning anything like that,” said Edelev, who was one of the first to meet Trepashkin on his release.
Although prison authorities had informed Edelev’s group that Trepashkin would be released around midday Friday, the former FSB agent was actually freed at 8 a.m., when it was still dark, Edelev said. Out of prison and on the street, he made a call from a pay phone to arrange a meeting with his supporters in central Yekaterinburg.
He flagged down a passing minibus and traveled alone along the 2 1/2-hour route from the Nizhny Tagil medium-security prison, Edelev said.
Last month, a court ordered Trepashkin to serve the last two weeks of his sentence in a higher security prison in Nizhny Tagil, leading friends and family to worry he might not survive.
“We couldn’t believe that decision, and we were very scared something would happen,” Edelev said.
Trepashkin was arrested on suspicion of illegal firearms possession in October 2003, weeks before he was to give evidence in a court hearing into the 1999 apartment bombings.
The following year, he was sentenced to a four-year term for divulging state secrets. The judge ruled that Trepashkin made copies of FSB files on certain criminal figures and stored them in his Moscow home. Trepashkin, then a lawyer by profession, said the charges had been fabricated.
Some believe the sentence to be FSB revenge for a news conference he held with Litvinenko, at which the two accused the FSB of corruption and operating a department that carries out extra-judicial killings.
Litvinenko died in a London hospital in November last year after ingesting a highly radioactive isotope that some said could only have been produced in Russia.
Britain charged a former Federal Guard Service officer, Andrei Lugovoi, with Litvinenko’s murder earlier this year. Lugovoi met with Litvinenko in a London bar three weeks before he died.
Citing a constitutional ban, Russia has refused to extradite Lugovoi, who was on the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party’s list for Sunday’s State Duma elections, despite Britain’s insistence that he be handed over to stand trial.
Trepashkin had an emotional telephone conversation with Litvinenko’s widow on Saturday, the AP reported. Marina Litvinenko, 44, broke down in tears as she spoke with Trepashkin by phone a day after the former agent was released from jail.
Trepashkin has said he was asked in 2002 to join a group of Russian intelligence agents targeting Berezovsky and Litvinenko. He said he warned Litvinenko about the alleged death squad.
After the phone call, Marina Litvinenko said Trepashkin had promised to provide a written deposition on his claims to lawyers who have opened a case against the Russian government in the European Court of Human Rights for complicity in her husband’s murder, the AP reported.
“He told me that it’s very important to show people that this operation was launched four years ago,” Marina Litvinenko said.
Source: The Moscow Times
Last week we reported
in passing that “ex”-CPSU Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov visited Russia’s strategic partner Canada, a troubling relationship that is probably little known to both Canadians and Americans. Pictured here: Zubkov visits Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa, November 30, 2007. Moscow, like its ally Beijing, is aggressively using both state-run and private companies to assume control over the strategic resources of other countries, while at the same time placing severe restrictions
on the ability of foreign companies from buying up Russia’s natural resources.
On July 6, 2007, for example, the world’s leading nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, established in the old Soviet era, acquired a 90 percent stake in Canadian nickel and gold producer LionOre, the world’s tenth largest nickel producer. In 2003 the company assumed control of Stillwater Mining Company, the only US producer of palladium. Stillwater operates a platinum group metals facility in Stillwater, Montana. The Chairman of the Board of Directors at Noriksk Nickel is Mikhail Prokhorov who, while one of Russia’s notorious oligarchs against whom Putin recently lashed out at a political rally, enjoys a charmed life in an office only several hundred yards away from the Kremlin. Go figure.
Russian PM looks for more trade with Canada
November 30, 2007, 16:59
Russia’s Prime Minister is trying to drum up more commercial ties with Canada during a trip to the country this week.
“Canada is Russia’s strategic partner. Mutual co-operation is highly important for us,” insisted Viktor Zubkov, Russian Prime Minister.
The countries share a stable political relationship but that’s still not reflected in trade.
In the first half of 2007, bilateral trade totaled $US 1 billion – a drop in the ocean for economies as big as Russia and Canada.
Oil products dominate Russian exports to Canada. In return, Canada sells machines, engineering goods, vehicles and meat. But Russia’s adding some other items to its shopping list.
“We have signed agreements in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, nuclear power, trade financing as well as in the Arctic and northern regions,” said Zubkov.
Russia’s state Corporation Atomredmetzoloto, the leading producer of uranium in Russia, will set up joint ventures with Canada’s Cameco to mine and produce uranium in both countries.
“We have signed an agreement to establish two joint ventures. Diversification of uranium supplies is extremely important for Russia. We want not only to get uranium from Canada, but also we want to have an opportunity to invest in production of uranium in Canada,” outlined Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom Corporation.
Russia invests seven times as much money in Canada as flows the other way.
Norilsk Nickel recently acquired Canadian nickel and gold producer LionOre. But Canadian companies could play a greater role in Russia’s economy.
On the sidelines of Prime Minister Zubkov’s visit, Russia’s Development bank VEB agreed a trade insurance deal with Canada’s Export Development Corporation.
Source: Russia Today
In the wake of PM Zuvkov’s business trip to Ottawa, state-owned Russian Railways intends to buy out Canada’s Bombardier Transportation, which is manufacturing passenger cars for the Qinghai-Tibet railway in the People’s Republic of China. Bombardier Transporation is part of the Bombardier group of companies, which include Bombardier Aerospace, the world’s third largest aircraft company in terms of workforce, after Boeing and Airbus. Canadians have long complained about the foreign ownership of their economy. The putatively Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper–who also supports the Council on Foreign Relations’ pet project known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership/North American Union–should definitely block this attempt by the Kremlin to seize an important Canadian company.
Russian Railways Makes Deal in Canada
November 3, 2007
Russian Railways intends to exchange a blocking package in Transmashholding for a blocking package in Bombardier Transportation before next summer. Then, in the course of three years, its share in the Canadian company will grow to 50 percent, practically uniting the two heavy equipment makers into a single company with $9-10 billion in annual sales. Bombardier Transportation is a division of the Bombardier Inc., which is 80-percent owned by the Bombardier family.
Sources say that Russian Railways is now buying a blocking package in the Dutch company Breakers Investments, which owns Transmashholding, for $370 million. Analysts note that the two companies are not equal in value. A blocking package in Bombardier, which had receipts of $6.6 billion in 2006 and EBITDA of $364 million, should cost $1.4-1.8 million. Transmashholding has been estimated to be worth $2.38-2.9 billion, making a blocking package in it worth $596-725 million. Russian Railways received a 35-percent discount when it bought the Transmashholding stock. Russian Railways can thus expect to pay around $1.2 billion in the deal as well.
Russian Railways may receive a certain discount from the Canadian company in exchange for entry into the Russian market. That market is quite attractive, with $100-130 billion in planned spending on new rolling stock through 2030. The deal still needs the approval of the Ministry of Transportation, the head of which, Igor Levitin, sits on the Russian Railways board of directors.
Source: Kommersant Daily