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Comment Re:It's Hillary time! (Score 1) 271

From Strobe Talbott's "Russia Hand", it's clear that the official U.S. supported Russia's Government during the First Chechen war, fought in 1994-1996:

"What little we did know about Chechnya and Dudayev inclined us to accept Moscow's version that it was dealing with an ugly mixture of secessionism and criminality. Besides, the independence that the Chechens were fighting for was against American policy. As a global principle, we were for federalist solutions that preserved existing international boundaries and against the fractionation of large, heterogeneous countries into ethnically based microstates. Hence Gore's terse public comment in Moscow: 'We are following [the situation] closely. We hope very much it can be solved by negotiations. We believe it is an internal matter.' "

They even went that far as to compare the First Chechen War to the American Civil War, when explaining the situation to the press.

Comment Re:It's Hillary time! (Score 1) 271

"The US deserves at least some of the blame for Russian attitudes. The State Department in particular never got out of its 'The Russians are the enemy' mode. That's why in the 90s, they were supportive of the Chechens"

Conventional wisdom has it wrong. In the 90s the US were openly supportive of Russia's Government, approving or turning a blind eye towards its undemocratic policies while it was seen to fit the US interests. That's why the U.S. criticism of undemocratic policies of Putin's Russia is so — should I say — Hillarious. Actually Putin is clearing the mess created by his predecessor with the US approval. It's especially evident, for example, if you compare the number of journalists killed for their work under Yeltsin and under Putin.

Comment Life in Russia (Score 3) 52

I've read this comments thread, and I need to admit that the MSM propaganda works. I presume that's what Snowden could have meant (alright, I can't read minds so I don't know) by "surprisingly" free -- that life in Russia turned out to be better than what he could have expected from reading the MSM.

Of course Russia isn't a human rights paradise, but neither is it a nightmare. And if you believe the media are your eyes through which you can see other countries without actually bothering to pay a visit there, you are very wrong.

Comment Re:Its not over priced (Score 1) 187

Isn't it heartwarming how quickly those Commies embraced Capitalism?

It wouldn't harm to do a bit of reading to better appreciate the Russian culture since after the collapse of the Soviet Union. You could start with a popular 1997 sci-fi novel.

Basically there was wild Capitalism since 1991, and it's not fun.

Comment Re:Its not over priced (Score 1) 187

That's about 6 million rubles is that enough to retire?

It's a not-too-much-qualified programmer's wage during 4 years, assuming a domestic Russian employer (a monthly wage of 120k roubles is what pretty much any guy can get doing programming in a Russian company). But a person that qualified always has the option to work for a Western company, in which case it's about a year's wage, give or take.

Comment Re:who made cisco police, judge, and jury? (Score 1) 122

The difference is the Russian government doesn't even bother hiding its support for the Russian oligarchy aka mafia.

But the real question is, why that did not concern you in 1990s, when Russia resembled the oligarchy/mafia-run state the most? Some sort of a 15-years lag in perception? I remember talking to Americans in early 2000s and they believed Russia was about the Communism. Now it's 2016 and you believe Russia is about the Oligarchy/Mafia. Hopefully you learn something in the next 15 years. ;-)

Comment Re:Bad choice (Score 1) 156

Your analysis ignores the existence of states in similar, if not worse, predominant climatic conditions, that fare much better in terms of economy and (arguably, more importantly) quality of life. Canada, Finland, Sweden, Iceland... which of these have a problem with outflow of skilled labor?

Then again, the harshness of climate in Russia is also often overstated for effect. A good chunk of European Russia (basically, the lower 2/3 or so) has very reasonable climate. There are plenty of geographic benefits, too, such as a vast network of large rivers that can be readily used for transportation, significant number of natural resources (even in the European part), forests, and quality soil. In fact, the latter could easily enable homesteading, if you're keen to follow the American example.

IMO, for the past few centuries at least, the constraints on development in Russia (or lack thereof, which has been a rare occasion indeed) largely originate from poor governance rather than climatic conditions or that elusive "national mentality". It has everything that is needed to be a very successful, strong country economically - indeed, this shows up in some of the successes that USSR has enjoyed despite everything - but it either squanders those opportunities outright, or when they're actually used for something good, the wealth thus produced goes right past the majority of the populace, in a manner that is more blunt and unfair than even the most income-unequal liberal democratic capitalist countries (such as US).

You are spot-on-correct. The only issue is that the quality of government influences the _rate_ of economic development. I.e., if Russia had overnight the best quality of government, it might have fantastic economic successes -- like may be 4% of annual economic growth. That would certainly show up in 20 years or so.

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