Tag Archives: Putin

Kosmolinks #14

  • The state of the elites in Eastern Europe. It seems as if especially anti-corruption agencies and justice ministries are very reform resistant. Or as the Economist puts it: “Yet from the Baltic to the Balkans, even politicians facing the most startling accusations of corruption seem not to suffer at the polls. A bit like Italy, really.”

  • “A survey made amongst Romanian judges showed that most of them don’t consider corruption as being a serious crime. “It’s not like you kill someone. And how can I sentence someone to many years of prison for corruption, when I have to bribe myself nurses and doctors if I go to the hospital”, said a judge as quoted by a German expert who ran the survey.”

  • A Chatham House Report that sets out ten key policy recommendations for the EEAS.

  • A customized google search drawing on 172 websites (at the moment), including EU Blogs, Industry Federations, NGOs, Think Tanks, etc. Brought to you by the guys behind “Blogactiv”. It is certainly an interesting tool, however, it would be very helpful to have access to the list of these 172 websites… otherwise it is a bit difficult to suggest new content!

  • Another critical analysis of the developments during 8 years of Putin written by two former ministers.

  • Indeed an argument that should not be forgotten despite all the shortcomings of the EU…

  • Interesting but lenghty think tank paper…

  • After 18 months of opposition, the 27 European Union member states finally agreed to launch strategic partnership talks with Russia. But how did the EU manage to get its act together? – A Lithuanian diplomat explains the procedure: “Now all of our concerns have been put into the annexes, we are happy.”

  • The latest “news service” discovery and it looks as if it could become my favourite news aggregation page…

  • “This issue of the Russian Analytical Digest analyzes Gazprom’s strategy toward foreign markets. It considers Gazprom’s perspective on international markets and examines the natural gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, the publication includes statistics on Gazprom sales and the Russian–Ukrainian natural gas trade.”

  • Undergraduate essay on the concept of sovereignty with an emphasis on “internal sovereignty” with chapters on history, Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, French Revolution, Soviet Revolution, National Socialists, Liberal democracy…


Petition to support the European University St Petersburg

The European University at St Petersburg (EUSP) has been forced to stop operating because of some fire safety violations….

Of course this seems to be a politically motivated move of the Russian authorities especially since the University has close connections to the USA and EU. Moreover, the university runs a programme funded by the European Commission to improve the monitoring of Russian elections which has been criticized by Putin on a number of occasions. Read more about it here, here and here.

A petition of support is available for signing here. The least we can do, I suppose.

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Russia: Corruption ‘price list’

Corruption in Russia is neither a new development nor a surprising one. However, now even President Putin as well as his likely successor Medvedev mentioned the corruption problem in recent public speeches. Of course it is a bit awkward for Putin to admit that corruption has been flourishing during his term in office, so it might be a rather tactical move to support his successor… and might even lay the ground for some politically motivated arrests later this year…

Coming back to the topic of corruption: According to the Eurasia Daily Monitor, two Russian research institutes, namely the Institute for Public Projects (INOP) and the Institute for Comparative Social Research (CESSI)  published a study called “The Nature and Structure of Corruption in Russia” which also contains a very interesting (and expensive!) ‘price list’ for all sorts of bribes:

According to the list, a place on a party list for a State Duma election cost $2 million-$5 million while getting legislation introduced in the Duma for consideration costs $250,000. For a state monopoly to win a “goszakaz,” or state purchase order, it must pay 20% of the order’s total value; for it to participate in a national project, it must pay 30-40% of the project’s total value; for it to get a line item in the federal budget, it must pay three percent of the project’s total value.

A large private company must pay $1 million-$5 million to get a license, prevent a license it has from getting revoked or get a competitor’s license revoked. For a large private company to win a “goszakaz,” it must pay a third of the order’s total value. For a small business to ensure that a transaction is carried out, it must pay a third of the transaction’s value; in order to get “help” from officials, a small business must pay 10% of its total profits. Getting customs duties reduced costs 30-50% of the sum on which the duties were assessed; getting tax arrears written off costs anywhere from $1000 to 30-50% of the sum of the arrears.

To get the Central Bank to begin examining documents costs a bank $500,000, while winning the right to transfer federal budget funds costs a bank five percent of the sum of the transfer. To win a case in a civil court or an arbitration court costs 10% of the awarded damages. To win a grant costs a charitable foundation 20-30% of the value of the grant. Finally, according to the INOP-CESSI study, to get a television “talking head” to criticize an official costs $20,000 a month.

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Kosmolinks #9

Goodbye 2007, hello 2008!

So, what happened last year? … of course a non exhaustive list 😉

The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2007

An Interview with the “Person of the Year 2007”: Putin and the Time Magazine

Can it get any better? well, we have to wait and see:

Awaiting us in 2008…

The world in 2008: a year and an era | openDemocracy

The EU will have to deal with the ratification process of the “Treaty of Lisbon”:

The Treaty of Lisbon – How much ‘Constitution’ is left? An Overview of the Main Changes

Understanding the Lisbon Treaty

Last but not least, an interesting article about Italy:

In a Funk, Italy Sings an Aria of Disappointment – New York Times

…… and a happy new year to everyone! 😀

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Kosmolinks #6

As expected, the recently held elections in Kosovo did not solve anything and Dec.10 is coming closer. At the same time, we are witnessing the last attempts of the international community to get its act together. At least the EU should speak with one voice! Whatever the outcome, a good overview about Kosovo’s contested future can be found on openDemocracy.

Normally, I do not post software links in this blog but this is an exception. I came across the Firefox extension Zotero – The Next-Generation Research Tool. Looks quite useful, has anyone tried to work with it? How are your experiences with this research tool? I would be very interested…please feel free to post a comment 😉

Apparently, Commissioner Reding is planning to make DRM interoperable. Indeed a great idea! Let’s hope she can resist the intense lobbying that has probably already started…

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to read this interesting paper, but it is definitely an interesting topic: “The Capacity of Central and East European Interest Groups to Participate in EU Governance”

These days there is a lot of talk in Russia about the idea of establishing a sort of ‘National Leader’. But we might need to wait until the results of the Duma elections are known to see what Putin plans to do… Talking about the upcoming Duma elections, Global Voices reports that the Russian blogosphere is debating whether To Vote, or Not to Vote? Moreover, Duma elections will be held without OSCE election observers.

And Joseph S. Nye tries to convince us about the Soft Power of the United Nations.

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