Whence the Stalin-Tito Quarrel? – Part III

Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this piece by Evgeny Krutikov. Where we left off, we learned that Albanians had caused two old Slavic allies and cousins (Russians and Serbs) to quarrel.  But who were these Albanians and how could such a thing happen?

Spoilers?

On January 19, 1948, Tito sent a telegram to the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha asking him to please allow a Yugoslav division to set up base in the south of Albania.  Tito needed to avert a feared Anglo-American invasion from Greece.  This was not a paranoid fear, as full-fledged civil war was currently raging in Greece.  This war  lasted from 1946 to 1949 and involved two teams:  Team Greek Government (a right-wing fascist-type thing backed by the USA, naturally); vs Team Communists, aka the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE).  Historians regard this conflict as the very first proxy war of the Cold War.  The DSE was the military wing of the Greek Communist Party, containing many fighters hardened in the partisan war against German and Italian occupiers.  They were supported by the new Balkan Communist Workers States of Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria.

Albania’s Dear Leader, Enver Hoxha

The other side had the U.S. support, along with local fascist forces who called themselves the Hellenic Army.  In the end, the DSE lost the war both on and off the battlefield; the wiki entry quotes some of the reasons for the demoralization, and the eventual defeat:

Greece in the end was funded by the US (through the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan) and joined NATO (1952), while the insurgents were demoralized by the bitter split between the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin, who wanted the war ended, and Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, who wanted it to continue.  Tito was committed to helping the Greek Communists in their efforts, a stance that caused political complications with Stalin, as he had recently agreed with Winston Churchill not to support the Communists in Greece, as documented in their Percentages Agreement of October 1944.

In other words, not unlike the Spanish Civil War of a decade earlier, Greek Communists found themselves thrown under the bus.  By Stalin!

Stalin: “It’s true that I will still be ugly tomorrow. But you will still be a fat slob!”

Proving once again, as I have tried to explain (more than once) to hard-core Stalinists, that Stalin really did not care about anything else in the world, other than building his own little nest in Russia.  And also that the supposedly wily Stalin was dumb enough to trust Churchill.

But speaking of Dear Leaders, we must take a tiny detour here and look at the life of a rather remarkable man, Enver Hoxha.  Admittedly, I know very little about this guy and am basically just summarizing stuff that is in his wiki.  But he deserves much, much more, like whole books should be written about him.

So, Enver was born in 1908, in an Albania that was still part of the Ottoman Empire.  Apparently most of the Albanians had converted to Turk-style Islam.  Enver studied in France and then worked as a teacher.  In 1939 Albania was invaded by fascist Italy.  A then-apolitical Enver didn’t care, and went to Italy on vacation; but when he was living in Italy he suddenly became a Communist.  In 1941 he became one of the leaders of the newly-founded Communist Party of Albania.  He rose very quickly in the ranks and became First Secretary of the Party in 1943.  Albanian Communists fought as partisans against the Nazis, but received more aid from the British intelligence services, than they did from the Soviet Union.  (Which actually explains a lot, later in the story…)

“You will all bow to ME, King Zog!”

The war was still raging when Albanian Communists and Yugoslav Communists started feuding with each — over the status of Kosovo!  [See, nothing every changes in this world.]  Then, under Hoxha’s capable leadership, the Albanian Communists won their part of the war and expelled their Monarch, a man with the great name of King Zog.

Quoting again from wiki:

After liberation on 29 November 1944, several Albanian partisan divisions crossed the border into German-occupied Yugoslavia, where they fought alongside Tito’s partisans and the Soviet Red Army in a joint campaign which succeeded in driving out the last pockets of German resistance. Marshal Tito, during a Yugoslavian conference in later years, thanked Hoxha for the assistance that the Albanian partisans had given during the War for National Liberation (Lufta Nacionalçlirimtare).

This was the high point of Yugoslav-Albanian friendship; from there it was downhill all the way.  Thus proving, once again, that the main problem with Communism, is that Communists can’t get along with each other.  And I don’t take sides here; it seems like both men (Tito and Hoxha) were good men, and brave men; and each had a good reason for acting as he did.  But, be that as it may, Yugoslavia and Albania became bitter enemies.  And that’s not even mentioning the complication added by Stalin, when he took sides in this dogfight:  Due to his own feud with Tito, and acting like a mean girl in a cheerleading squad, Stalin attempted to ally with Hoxha against Tito.  This was a tried and true tactic that Stalin had used successfully in the past among the Old Bolshevik milieu:  Stir the pot, exploit personality conflicts, turn people against each other, etc.  It had always worked wonderfully well in the Russian context, which Stalin understood like the back of his hand.  However, in the Balkan context, a completely alien milieu, everything just blew up in his face, eventually.

Georgi Dimitrov

Skipping over a lot of biography:  Hoxha weaved a fine line for many years, keeping Albania independent both from Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union alike.  Either one of which behemoths would have turned his tiny statelet into a province and himself into a chained prisoner, probably.  In his older age (this was now the Khrushchev era), Hoxha even flirted with Maoism, as in, pretending to have some kind of ideology that was different from canonical Stalinism.  But I think it is safe to say that all of these supposed “ideological” or “philosophical” debates within the Stalinist movement were more like window dressing, and that the real struggle was just for survival, and for power.

Well, with that somewhat dissociated backstory, we now return to our existing main dogfight, the one between Stalin and Tito.  Recall that we left off with the cliff-hanging question, why is Stalin’s Cominform demanding that Tito should repent of his sins?  And now we know that, at this part of the story, at least, Stalin is kanoodling with Hoxha.  Tito does not want to end up in a Russian dungeon.  Nor does Hoxha want to end up in a Serbian dungeon.

And then it gets worse:  Georgi Dimitrov, the Bulgarian Communist leader, is urging all the neo-commie countries (much to the horror of über-Europeans Poland and Czechoslovakia) to band together into a common “Balkan Federation” – !

[to be continued]

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Whence the Stalin-Tito Quarrel? – Part II

Dear Readers:

Continuing my translation/summary/review of this piece by Evgeny Krutikov. Where we left off, two old friends (Russians and Serbs) had become bitter enemies almost in the blink of an eye.  Historians struggle to partition blame between Stalin and Tito, and to delve into the deeper root causes of the rift; for, verily, there had to be more to this than a simple pissing contest between two alpha males.

The Reluctant Revolutionary

Looking at the larger picture:  The Communist International aka Comintern aka Third International, had been founded by V.I. Lenin in 1919.  It was meant to be the spiritual successor to the Second International, which fell into disrepute during WWI and dissolved itself in 1916.  After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union became World HQ of the Communist International.  Whose mission statement was the overthrow of world capitalism (and individual capitalist governments); but, under Stalin, eventually became more like an auxiliary to the Soviet Foreign Ministry and secret police, not to mention international espionage.  (One only need recall how Burgess, Philby and the other famous English recruits believed fervently that they were working as agents of the Comintern and not just mundane Russian spies.)

Logo of the Warsaw Pact

Like its predecessor, the Third International dissolved itself in wartime, but for somewhat different reasons.  In this case, the Nazi invasion forced the Soviet Union to ally with the Anglo-Saxon camp; and those nations, in turn, insisted that the USSR call off its revolutionary dogs.  The Comintern had always been a thorn in the side of the international bourgeoisie, what with Soviet spies and local commies running amuck, fomenting strikes and disorder, etc.  In return for their dubious “military aid” against Nazi Germany, the U.S. and Great Britain demanded big concessions and sacrifices from the USSR.  It is said that Winston Churchill and  Franklin D. Roosevelt — peering into the post-war future and seeing the need to restore social peace on the backs of their own working classes — drove a hard bargain.  On the Soviet side, Stalin got the big paycheck, and it was his job to make these tough decisions.  Hence, he made the decision to comply with the demands of these cunning leaders.  And so it came to pass, that on  May 15, 1943 the Executive Committee of the Comintern sent out a declaration requesting of member sections:

Churchill: “Here’s the thing, Joe. Tomorrow morning I won’t be drunk, but you’ll still be ugly.”

To dissolve the Communist International as a guiding centre of the international labor movement, releasing sections of the Communist International from the obligations ensuing from the constitution and decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International.

Commies everywhere were told to lay down their manifestos and make peace with their own plantation masters.  But wait!  Barely was the war over, when a new, somewhat strange, form of the Comintern was brought back from the dead.  But this time called the “Cominform“, and its goal being, not world revolution, but simply managing relations between and among the new socialist nations that had come into being, willy nilly, at the end of the war.

Prior to the war, as we know, Stalin had spent 2 tough decades removing all of his domestic political rivals, anybody that could remotely dream of replacing him as the leader of the Soviet government.  Which was his dream job and really all that he had ever aspired to — in truth, Stalin had never been keen on undertaking international adventures — and yet world events conspired to push him on to even greater deeds.  Hence, by the end of WWII the son of an Ossetian peasant had emerged as the undisputed leader, not just of the mighty Soviet Union, but of all the “workers democracies” and, indeed, the world proletariat as such.  Not only that but, going even deeper, Stalin’s torso now filled out a third role as well, a role that went back a thousand years:  that of the traditional Russian Leader, the head of the mighty Russian Empire and its Greco-Orthodox civilization.

Soviet leaders took on some spiritual roles previously allocated to Tsars

But here’s the thing:  Stalin was used to dealing with political rivals in a certain way that worked remarkably well in Russian politics.  But now he was in Balkan territory, and Balkan politics are different and unfamiliar.

Recall:  Where we left off, the Cominform had politely suggested that Comrade Tito abase himself, toss ashes on his own head, and admit all his mistakes to the world. Or else…

In other words, Stalin was treating the great military commander and world-level political leader Josip Broz Tito as if he were some Old Bolshevik schmuck who would readily capitulate and accuse himself of crimes too numerous to mention…



And so it came to pass, as Krutikov continues his saga, that the in the year 1948 Yugoslavia became the dearest friend and ally of the Soviet Union.  And, unlike a, say, Poland, this was not due to military occupation, but according to the actual free will of the Yugoslav people, and the fruits of their own struggle against the Nazi invaders.  Moscow laid huge hopes on Belgrade and spent an inordinate amount of money re-equipping the Yugoslav army.

To be sure, some conflicts arose early:  Stalin had to restrain Tito when the latter, overly aggressively, attempted to annex some portions of land belonging to Italy and Austria, thus provoking the wrath of the Anglo-Saxons.  Whom Stalin was still anxious to appease.

Despite such minor (and normal) friction, relations between Moscow and Belgrade were extraordinarily good.  Not like Poland, which always behaved like a sullen problem child.  Or Czechoslovakia, with its petty-bourgeois passive-aggressive attitude.  Hungary and Romania were former satellites of Germany, hence by definition hostile to Russia; and the wily Bulgarians always knew how to balance on two stools.  Albania was, and always remains, a grey zone of Medievalism which even the Yugoslavs could never tame.  “Slavs can’t do anything with these people,” Tito declared (about the Albanians) in 1943.

And sure enough, it was Albania.  It was always going to be Albania.  It was Albania which caused the riff between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union!

[to be continued]

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Whence the Stalin-Tito Quarrel? – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today I start a new historical series, with this review of a piece by our old friend Evgeny Krutikov.  Krutikov has written an interesting essay about some little-known events of the late 1940’s early 1950’s, delving into ever-complicated Balkan politics.  The lede paragraph begins thusly:

Russians and Serbs are accustomed to calling each other “brothers”, but History knows a period, when Moscow and Belgrade became bitter enemies for almost 10 years.  Two strong allies:  the USSR of Stalin and the Yugoslavia of Tito — broke up almost in the space of a single moment, and the results of that (quarrel) are felt to this day.  Which of the two leaders — the Soviet or the Yugoslav — bears the most responsibility?

Tito: “I don’t often smoke, but when I do, it’s Belomorkanal.”

Exactly 70 years ago [Krutikov penned this piece on June 29, 2018]  a resolution published by the Cominform Bureau [operating from 1947-1956, an international confederation of Communist Parties] called upon Yugoslav Communists “to force their current leaders openly and honestly to admit their mistakes and to correct them; to break with nationalism; to return to internationalism; and to strengthen a united socialist front” in the world.  The Cominform resolution went on to hint, darkly, that, should the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party prove unable to comply with such a request, then they should be “replaced”.  Belgrade, quite predictably, rejected this ultimatum.  Within a year diplomatic relations between the two former allies, the USSR and Yugoslavia, were broken, and remained broken, right up until the time of the Khrushchev “thaw”.

This quarrel must be analyzed, and should not be regarded as simply a personal feud between Joseph Stalin and Josip Broz Tito.  Liberal historians blame Stalin, viewing him as the “evil genius” of Eastern Europe, in contrast to the “freedom-loving” patriot Tito.  Not to deny there was indeed a particle of personal animosity at play here.  But the roots of the quarrel are much more complicated than that….

[to be continued]

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How’m I Doin’, Hey, Hey – June Edition

Dear Readers:

So, today is July 2, I am one late day and a dollar short, as the Americans like to say!  For science buffs only:  With the passing of June, astronomers say that the days are going to start getting shorter now; this has something to do with the way that Earth and her twin planet circle the sun together, as shown by the picture below.

Earth and her Twin Planet circle the Sun

Now to the important statistics:  As compared with May, in June my Page Views went up – from 6,455 to 6,869. Unfortunately, my number of Distinct Visitors went down slightly, from 3,523 to 3,493.  Still, I reckon that is not too shabby.  I should note that one of my distinct visitors left a hostile comment (which fell into the “Pending” bucket, waiting to be approved, as all new email addresses do) calling me lots of names, vatnik being the kindest one.  Sticks and stones…  Since the comment had political content, including expert use of the word maskirovka, and was not technically spam, I would have approved it all the same; except for the fact that the commenter’s email address was fuck@you.com  which I somehow doubt is a real email address.  Hence, I deleted the comment instead, and the world will never get to see that gem.

People:  I will approve your pending comments, even if negative and hostile, and you don’t even have to use a real email address, but you may not use cuss words in your fake email addresses.  Why?  Because it’s childish, that’s why!

With that unpleasant matter out of the way, I thank you again, Visitors and Readers, I truly appreciate all of you, except for that one guy, I try to find interesting material, and I hope you enjoy reading my posts!



Next: My standard disclaimer:

.

Your Privacy is Important to Me: WordPress calculates who is a distinct person by their I.P. address. It also uses the I.P. address to deduce which country you live in. I myself can’t see I.P. addresses unless you leave a comment. In which case I can see your email address; and from that I COULD look up your I.P. if I were curious, which I am not.

Next: Before posting my usual “Parade of Nations”, this here is my nostalgic trip down memory lane. In which I narcissistically “look-back” through my own posts of the last month, self-assess them, and highlight a few which I think are particularly good, I call this feature:

Highlights of the Month

So, here we go, in chronological order:

  • I started off the month of June with a 5-part series on Jewish Banderites, always a treat to behold.  Actually, I doubt that these Lubavitch characters are actual Banderites, I think they are just sucking up to the real Banderites, for whatever ungodly reason.
  • Next a 3-parter on the sociology of Russian patriotism, or lack thereof.  This was in connection with the “Russia Day” holiday on June 12.
  • And then, following along on that same thread, a 5-parter about the celebration of Russia Day in Jerusalem this year.  (Well, you know what the Jews always say:  “Next year in Jerusalem…”, but this year it actually happened.)  And thus also peering into the complicated relationship between Russia and Israel, while learning some fascinating history about Russian-owned real estate in the Holy Land.
  • On the Ukrainian theme, we had Gerashchenko’s ex-wife dissing him to the press, in this 3-parter.
  • And then turning to the theme of football with a couple of posts, including this 2-parter with which I closed the month.  In the course of writing that post I learned quite a lot about the Russian tourism industry.  I am proud that Russia has turned out to be such a good host country for the World Cup, but I think there is a lot more that can be done to make life easier for the honorable tourist.

But now, my friends, it is time for that Pomp and Circumstance that everybody has been waiting for: Time to march on with the

Parade Of Nations

My 3,493 June visitors hail from the following countries, in order of most to least page views. WordPress allows me to save these stats as a CSV file, from which I copy-pasted onto here:

United States 4147
Russia 365
United Kingdom 335
Canada 320
Australia 218
New Zealand 160
Indonesia 139
Germany 108
Philippines 85
France 63
Netherlands 53
India 50
Romania 47
Poland 41
Ireland 41
Spain 36
Ukraine 32
Sweden 29
South Africa 28
Hungary 27
Finland 26
Switzerland 25
Austria 25
Czech Republic 24
Norway 23
Belgium 21
Hong Kong SAR China 20
Brazil 19
Italy 18
Turkey 17
Japan 14
Singapore 13
European Union 12
Lebanon 12
Israel 12
South Korea 12
Slovenia 12
Pakistan 12
Serbia 11
Greece 11
Bulgaria 11
Georgia 10
Mexico 10
Morocco 10
Kenya 10
Croatia 9
Denmark 9
Malaysia 9
Lithuania 7
United Arab Emirates 7
Thailand 6
Slovakia 5
Peru 5
Taiwan 5
Malta 5
Portugal 5
Egypt 4
Iraq 4
Cyprus 4
Libya 4
Namibia 4
Colombia 4
Chile 4
Mongolia 3
Nigeria 3
Uganda 2
Estonia 2
Vietnam 2
Argentina 2
Albania 2
Luxembourg 2
Bangladesh 2
Bahamas 2
Latvia 2
Uruguay 1
Bolivia 1
Armenia 1
Qatar 1
Panama 1
Algeria 1
Azerbaijan 1
Mauritius 1
St. Lucia 1
Zimbabwe 1
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Paraguay 1
Venezuela 1
Oman 1
Laos 1
Fiji 1
Sri Lanka 1
Montenegro 1
Maldives 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Nepal 1
Rwanda 1
Syria 1
Kazakhstan 1
Ghana 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Ecuador 1
Puerto Rico 1

Thanks y’all!

Sincerely yours,
yalensis

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Impact Of Football Games On Russian Economy – Part II

Dear Readers:

Today finishing up this piece from VZGLIAD, authored by Olga Samofalova.

Yesterday we touched on the fact that a veritable blitzkrieg of anti-Russian propaganda in the Westie media sought to scare fans away from attending the games; and, in some cases, for example English fans, this had the desired effect.  This effect could be called “Sochi Part II”.  As in the Sochi Olympics, where Westie propaganda organs played the “gay card” and also rolled out the usual suspects, like Pussy Riot, in an attempt to smear the Russian government as totalitarian; and hence ruin the games even before the Opening Flame was lit.

Pussies attempt to ruin Sochi Olympics with bad performance art

The general rule is that, whenever Russia (or previously, Soviet Union) hosts a major international event, like the Olympics or the World Cup, then Westie media will either boycott or attempt to spoil the event in advance.  Using negatively slanted coverage, fake news, bias, cherry picking “human interest” stories, sneaky sniping, etc etc.

Paradoxically, by the time of FIFA 2018, the bar had been set so low, with foreign fans arriving in Russia expecting to see a horrifically backward and dangerous country, that encountering simple normality seemed like a paradise to them.  Story after story recounts this same pattern:  “I heard so many bad things about Russia… but the people here have been great, we are having a wonderful time..” etc.

“Mr. Spock, what is your opinion of football?”

Add to that, that ordinary Russian hospitality and attention to the needs of tourists, only needed to be in place to assist in the natural group endorphins which football fandom seems to engender.  I personally have never experienced this phenomenon myself (with football or any other spectator sport), but I note, empirically, like Star Trek’s Data observing the bizarre psychology of humans, that football fans are able to whip themselves up to a state of group ecstasy, only one step removed from mass orgasms.  All that the host nation needs to do, to latch onto the good vibes, is to present a safe and hospitable environment.  That, plus food and beer.  Lots of beer!  The fans will eventually leave, with good emotions and positive feelings about the host nation.  Over time, those feelings might fade, but still leaving a good buzz.  And that is how it’s done, my friends!

As Samofalova hints in her piece, and there are other pieces in the Russian press which repeat that meme, the games are expected to leave more of a long-term psychological impact than a pecuniary one; and yet there is some significance to the Russian economy; as well as hopes of more touristy type revenue streams in the future.  Hence, we return to that discussion:



So, in the first five days of the games, foreigners spent 2.5 billion rubles.  That’s great!  But wait!  The games themselves cost 15-25 billion rubles to stage.  We are quoting now from Anastasia Sosnova, a capitalist Analyst on the Executive Committee of Freedom Finance, who rudely points out that the games are a net loss.

Anastasia – approximate image

Also, according to Anastasia, who sounds like a “glass half empty” type of person, tourists usually spend more in the first few days, until they get wiser about the prices.

But Natalia Orlova from Alpha Bank counters Nastenka’s pessimism with this prognosis:  In the course of a single month these games could add around 100 billion rubles to the Russian consumer economy.  The Visa credit card numbers don’t tell the whole story, they only comprise 30-50% of the purchases.  The rest are allocated to other types of credit cards or cash purchases.  Natasha expects the games, as a whole, to add .1 to .2% to the GDP growth in this fiscal year.

Returning to yesterday’s friend, Mr. Alexander Razuvaev from the investment company Alpari, Sasha explains how the games will have a psychological effect:  “For Russia this is, primarily, a unique chance to break that negative image which people attempted to saddle onto our country, especially on the part of the global media.”

Football players wearing Alpari logo

From their website, Alpari looks like one of those high-power companies whose employees are forced to endure such team-building exercises as sky-diving or climbing Mount Everest.  Whatever makes them feel like they are Kings of the Universe!  Razuvaev points out that not everything in the world is just about money:  “In the contemporary world PR is very expensive, on it depend multi-billion dollar contracts and investment streams.  Russia must show the whole world that it is not a beleaguered fortress, but rather an open country, attractive to both tourism and business.”

Setting Sights On Tourism

Hence, Russia is seeking to leverage its World Cup success with an increase of tourism post games.  The government has already taken on this project:  this past Friday Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev put out a proposal to subsidize foreign tourists.  Well, not the tourists themselves, but the travel agencies which bring the tourists, will receive subsidies, as was explained by the attractively-bespectacled Maya Lomidze, Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia.

Tourism expert Maya Lomidze

Maya believes that the subsidies should go, not to Russian tour companies, but to foreign travel agencies who bring people into Russia; this is how it is done in other countries, such as Israel, Turkey, Thailand, Cyprus, and many others.  Here is how it is done:  foreign travel agencies receive a fixed subsidy per capita.  For example, Israel pays the highest amount of bounty in the world:  45 Euros for the head of each tourist brought into the country.  Given that a trip to Russia costs a foreigner, on average 2,000 Euros, a discount of even 45 Euros would not make that much difference to the tourist himself; however, the sum of such discounts will provide an incentive to the foreign travel agencies themselves, like, entice them to work more actively in the Russian tourism market.

Granted, it will not be that easy to lure foreign tourists to places like Samara or Rostov-on-Don, after the games are over.  Therefore incentives are required other than just monetary subsidies.  For example, a loosening (and simplification) of the (tourist) visa process.  [Since the visa application process is so cumbersome in itself], one possibility is to issue visas that can be used for more than one (tourist) entry-exit.



In conclusion, Russia needs to think of ways to attract more foreign tourists.  Tourists are good for the Russian economy, they are good for Russia, and Russia is good for them.  It’s a win-win situation!

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Impact Of Football Games On Russian Economy – Part I

Dear Readers:

I saw this interesting piece in VZGLIAD, the author is Olga Samofalova, who usually writes good stuff.  There is a lot of material here, so will be a two-parter.  Due to this, I will postpone for one day my ritual “Monthly Closing” post, which would normally take place tomorrow, July 1, as I close out the month of June; so as not to break up the football set.

Anyhow, Olga’s piece is about the Russian economy and the contribution (or not) therein of the FIFA World Cup football games, and all the football hooligans tourists and fans flocking into Russia.

In general, it is possible to state, already, that the games have been (so far) a good propaganda victory for Russia.  But then, what could you expect?  Westie (=American + European) propaganda organs had demonized Russia to such an extent, and turned it into such a hilariously ludicrous comic-book caricature of a country, that any tourist bold enough to go there, expected to be assassinated on the spot by sharp-shooting Spetnaz; and that’s only if they were lucky, the unlucky ones are poisoned by KGB and they die a slow, slow death.  More prosaically, football fans were expecting to barely survive in sordid hovels in a broken-down Third World toilet of a country.  And yet many people still came, that’s just how much they love their sport and their national teams!

Some of the anti-Russian propaganda in Westie fake-news outlets was so over the top, that it reminded me of that scene in Eisenstein’s masterpiece Ivan the Awesome Part II, where the Livonian Ambassador whispers to the ladies of the Polish court that the Russians are known to roast children alive; and the ladies, dressed in their outlandish ruffs, gasp:  “You don’t say!”

Foreign guests are greeted by cross-dressing Oprichniki

To be greeted, instead, with the classic Slavic/Eastern hospitality, discover the innate friendliness of [most of] the Russian people; and see a not-bad European country with such modern conveniences as hotels, bars and restaurants, etc. — well, there was bound to be a backlash against all the previous unfair sniping.  In fact, many English football fans are kicking themselves now (pun intended – ha ha!), that they were too chicken to go there and support their (lousy) team, after all the negative press about Russian barbarism.

Propaganda aside, did the games have any impact on the Russian economy?  Samofalova gives us some positive numbers — very small ones though.  So here is the skinny on all of that:



The lede:

The Russian Central Bank published some numbers.  Millions of tourists brought a few bucks into the country, but not enough to show on the statistics.  However, there might hopefully be a positive long-range impact on tourism.

The FIFA World Cup is estimated to have contributed somewhere around .1 or .2% of the GDP growth of the Second Quarter.  [yalensis:  The Russian government, like all sane people in the world, uses the Calendar Year as the Fiscal Year; hence Q2 comprises April-June].  The Bank had already included that estimate in its prognoses, which expects a GDP growth of 1.1 to 1.6% in Q2 and Q3.

Economist Alexander Razuvaev

Nobody really expected FIFA to contribute much to the GDP growth.  After all, the games only last a month.  Also, Russia is not some tiny banana republic, the economy as a whole is around $1.3 trillion (American) dollars, hence a few bucks here and there don’t really make a significant difference.  Alexander Razuvaev, Director of the Analytical Department of the company “Alpari”, man-splained to Olga that the Russian economy is way too huge and diversified to be that impacted by football games.  Razuvaev, by the way, just glancing at the contents of his link, seems like a very interesting blogger in his own right, with many posts worth reading.

Razuvaev:  Actually expect the football games to increase inflation a bit.  Currently, inflation stands around 2.4% and could, by the end of the year, amount to 4%.  Consumer demands of the foreign fans would contribute to that, as they need to acquire more rubles.  Fortunately, this will be partially counter-acted by the mirror image of Russian tourists travelling abroad for their summer vacation.

The effect of the games on certain regions of Russia, could well be significant.  The hotel business, trade and transport will see an effect.  Small businesses are already seeing dividends from the flocks of football tourists.

When Mohammed goes to the games, he only uses Visa!

The Visa (credit card) company, which is an official partner of FIFA, for the duration of the World Cup, whipped out their abacus and counted up the purchases of foreign fans during the first 5 days of the games.  American tourists came in first as the big spenders; Chinese second; and Mexicans third.

In just the first five days of the games, foreign fans spent 2.5 billion rubles on their Visa cards!  The city of Moscow took the lion’s share of this loot: around 1.7 billion rubles.  In Saint Petersburg tourists spent over half a billion rubles.  The smaller cities took in less, but also nothing to be sneezed at.  For example, the first five days netted Sochi over 100 million rubles; Kazan over 70 million; Ekaterinburg almost 50 million!  These purchases were mostly for hotels, but also for clothing, restaurants, cafes.  At the actual stadiums people are mostly purchasing food, beverages and souvenir items.  The average amount spent at the stadium:  1682 rubles.

Moscow Sucks In The Cash

The Moscow stadium “Luzhniki” grossed the most:  In the course of just 5 days visitors managed to loosen their wallets to the tune of almost 140 million rubles; of which half was spent by foreign tourists and the other half by the aborigines.  The opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia was, it goes without saying, the most lucrative one of all.

Nikolskaya Street, Moscow

In the hospitality arena, Moscow is also skimming the best cream:  Municipal leaders are boasting, that the hotels in the center of Moscow are full almost up to the gills.  Or at least 90%.  Football tourists are staying in around 1400 hotels and an additional 72 smaller hostels.

Restaurants and bars are raking it in, as well.  The ones on Nikolskaya Street are doing the best business; this ancient thoroughfare having become, unexpectedly, a favorite of the tourists.  In just the first week of the 2018 World Cup, visitors spent, in the bars and restaurants of Nikolskaya 13 million rubles; in the second week 25 million, the Central Bank calculated; and that’s just what they put on their credit cards (not counting cash tips, etc.)  The average check, by the way, is not that much at these places:  2000 rubles [yalensis:  which is only around $32 American bucks, according to the google exchange rate today].

Unfortunately, some wily restauranteurs took advantage of non-Russian speakers by offering them menus in English, with higher prices than the Russian menu!  [Which is why I always tell people:  Even if you don’t read the language, just point to something on the native menu, and it’ll probably be okay!]

On the positive side, restaurant managers on Nikolskaya got wise and extended their business hours to accommodate the hungry mobs (and bring in more bucks too).

Next:  What will be the longer-range effects of all this Football Cornucopia?

[to be continued]

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Gerashchenko’s Ex Spills The Beans – Part III

Dear Readers:

Today finishing my full translation (not summary, I decided it was worth a full translation) of this interview given by Viktoria Gretskaya-Mirgorodskaya, ex-wife of Anton Gerashchenko.

Where we left off, Vicky handed the world some very solid advice, namely, NEVER GIVE A HAND GRENADE TO A MONKEY!  Words to live by, folks.

And when you get to the end of this translation, you will see why I started to regret that I had not, from the beginning, entitled this series “Gerashchenko’s Ex Licks The Plate With Him“.  But maybe just as well, because that could have been misconstrued, and the ex-wife, all in all, seems like a classy dame…



TRANSLATION

[continued]

[Bosak]:  Tell us, what was Gerashchenko doing between 2010 and 2014?

[Vicky]:   He was trying to start a business, along with his partners, something connected to fixed assets.  But, honestly, you can never make a businessman out of him.  He prefers being a closer.

Does Gerashchenko provide assistance to your child?

Since August 2014 I have a new family.  We don’t need his help.  Officially he pays child support, because if he didn’t, then the law would prevent him even from travelling abroad.  But I think you understand perfectly that these payments (are calculated) based on his (official) salary, and not on his actual earnings.  He calls our child on the phone twice a year — on (the child’s) birthday, and on the New Year.  And every time, the child begs him for permission to change his last name, but he always refuses.  He will send, for example, some kind of gift, and the child sends it back.  That’s all.  That’s how it is.

Was your divorce amicable, or were there conflicts in court?

That information… is the theme for a different interview.

Viktoria in deposition

What is Gerashchenko’s inner circle like?

He has a pool of friends who have been with him for many years.  People of a wide variety of stripes, his business partners.  Just take a look at who his assistants are.  A third of his assistants are actually people from his inner circle.

Did Avakov ever come to visit you and Gerashchenko, when you were together?

No, never.

Can you give us your assessment of Gerashchenko as a politician?

What politician?  He is the classic Press-Secretary of the Minister of Internal Affairs.  Where is the politics here?  The fact that this person just keeps announcing events that have happened, in any way he wishes?  This is not political activity.  He is a good PR man for himself, but I simply don’t see him as a politician.  His action — phoning Zhirinovsky —  where is the political heroism here?  Trolling Zhirinovsky?  But would he have the guts to confront him in person, at a closer distance where a blow could be struck?

Did Gerashchenko ever violate the law?  Were there any complaints to the police?

He frequently violated the law, but that’s a separate conversation.  Thanks to his attempts to start a business, I spent 10 years going in for questioning at the [Anti-Organized Crime section] as well as the (regular) police, and also the SBU.  I got very hardened to this.  Do some research, there is some information about how he tangentially participated in a crime according to Article 111 of the Criminal Code [“High Treason”], even (back then) when this Article was not as popular (as it is today).

How often did Gerashchenko visit Russia?

He went there in 2004, and also, I believe, at the end of 2012, but I couldn’t say that he went there a lot, that’s not the case.

A younger Gerashchenko didn’t hate Putin.

Did he ever talk to you about Putin?

This is a complicated question because, up until the moment of, what happened in Crimea and Donbass, he actually had an even-handed attitude towards Putin.  But after what happened, he acquired a negative attitude towards Putin.

Was he always so anti-Russian?

No.  He is a populist who floats with the current, who goes with the tendencies that are useful to his political career.  That’s all.  He was never a nationalist.  On the topic of Crimea he would always say, Why do we need it? — alluding to the fact that the tourist season is short there, that people vote for the wrong candidate during elections, hey, let’s just rent it back to them, and that sort of thing.  This man does not have any kind of standards, any backbone, any principles.  His conscience works for him as it suits him.  The fact that he is trying to become a patriot — that’s just a part of his image.

Were you afraid to testify in court against Gerashchenko?

No.  I recounted everything the way it happened.  I told them everything that I know, and that I recalled.  Many things are impossible for me to forget.  I was actually on a business trip, and I was not prepared for this testimony.

Did anybody say anything to you after your depositions in court, like saying you had done the wrong thing, or anything like that?

No.  People wrote all kinds of stupid things in Facebook, but there was nothing like that.  Gerashchenko won’t say anything to me in public, if he wants to do something about it, then he would do it underhandedly.

In February of 2014 he phoned me and said, “Don’t worry, Kernes doesn’t wage war against women.”

In the light of current events I can respond to that as follows:  Kernes does not wage war against women, because he is a real man, he has a psychological foundation and principles that he lives by.  But Anton, on the other hand — that’s a real question, because his psychology is more feminine than male.  Such people are inclined to do things underhandedly, from behind the corner, the stab in the back.  For that reason, I declared right away, that if anything should happen to my family or myself, then it would be on Gerashchenko’s orders.

You, no doubt, saw the curious video with Gerashchenko, where he is dining and then just openly licks the plate?  Did he always like to do that?

 

A mass of people asked me about that, when the video appeared with him and the plate.  He is a disgusting eater, I was never able to get used to that.  I will say this:  Many times I remarked on this to him:  If you aspire to be a public person, then you must always be prepared, that people are watching and photographing you.  In other words, you must always be tidy, you need to know how to eat nicely, how to use a knife and fork.  He would just reply that he knows best.

How would you characterize Gerashchenko?  What kind of person is he?

He is a very base and cowardly person.  His mania is to acquire power at any price, and using any means necessary.  To be a great man, to be flattered — simply adores that.  Later he started acquiring money, and he is prepared to do quite a lot for money; but even more for power.  He adores flattery and any praise directed at him.

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