Russia Enters New Era Of Stagnation

If found guilty, the 30 detained activists could face a maximum punishment of 15 years in jail. They will be charged according to Section 3 of the Criminal Codes Article 227 (piracy committed by an organised group, Interfax quoted a law enforcement source as saying on Tuesday. AFP reports that the protesters are in shock over being detained by a democratic state: All but four of the activists are non-Russians from countries including Britain, the United States, Finland and Argentina. Russia has jailed the activists from Greenpeaces Arctic Sunrise protest ship without charge pending an investigation into alleged piracy, after several scaled a state-owned oil rig on September 18. The activists have complained of cold cells and a lack of suitable clothing and food, said Irina Paikacheva, the head of a state-connected regional prisoners rights watchdog. Many of them are in a state close to shock, she told AFP after visiting the prisoners. They had never expected that they would face such consequences for their peaceful protest in a democratic state. I think I see the disconnect here. If Greenpeace expected the authoritarian Russian government to react in a similar manner as Western democracies, well, they simply havent done their homework. This is the same government that has imprisoned a female punk-rock band to a two-year sentence for criticizing Vladimir Putin. Their hunger strike ended today , by the way, with no concessions from the Kremlin: The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service says that an imprisoned member of the punk band Pussy Riot is ending her hunger strike nine days after it began. The service told the state news agency ITAR-Tass that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was in stable health after ending the hunger strike on Wednesday. An opposition leader who said he had spoken with Tolokonnikova also tweeted that she was ending the strike. Interfering with Gazproms operations is a more serious manner than insulting Putin.

Sadly, nobody has much confidence in his plans to address them. With the country’s rate of economic growth declining toward zero, Medvedev is making a renewed effort to show the business community that he knows what to do. In an unusually long article published in the business daily Vedomosti, he acknowledged that what growth the country has is largely artificial, that the government is too dependent on revenue from the oil industry, and that Russia offers a terrible environment for investment. “Output growth is supported almost exclusively by large investment projects financed by the government and state-owned companies, salary raises in the public sector, an expansion of subsidies to agriculture and other sectors fueled by the high oil price,” Medvedev wrote. In other words, Russia’s economy might not be growing at all if the government wasn’t pouring oil money into subsidies and infrastructure projects, such as the preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 and the soccer World Cup in 2018. The private investment needed to replace the government spending, he wrote, isnt coming, in part because investors have an “understandable lack of trust in public institutions.” Besides, private business has a hard time competing with state-owned behemoths: State-controlled banks, for example, hold 53 percent of the Russian economy’s entire loan portfolio. “We are at a crossroads,” Medvedev wrote. “Russia can continue going forward in slow motion, with economic growth close to zero, or it can take a serious step forward.” The second path “is fraught with risk,” while the first “leads to a precipice.” Few economists would argue with the diagnosis. “The head of the cabinet has largely learned to name the correct reasons for the country’s predicament,” Maxim Blant wrote on the opposition website ej.ru. Sergey Aleksashenko, director of macroeconomic studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, agreed : “It’s a good thing that this has at least been said.” The biggest flaw in Medvedev’s lengthy program, critics said, was the paucity of solutions. All he offered was a slowdown in tariff increases at Russia’s state-owned utilities and some small-business support in the form of tax breaks, loans and government contracts. He also expounded on the need to turn Moscow into an international financial center. “And that’s it,” Aleksashenko wrote. “What about safeguarding property rights and the quality of the judicial system, shrinking the state and using government resources effectively, what about privatization and infrastructure?” Medvedev’s article does not contain the word “corruption” or mention capital flight, expected to reach $70 billion this year. It offers no specific measures to foster competition, the focus of the latest World Bank report on Russia.

Ex-Miss Russia’s NY drug case dropped after rehab

A judge, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, said shed met requirements to get the charges dropped by going through rehabilitation. LOUIS LANZANO, FILE AP Photo Recent Headlines Search local inventory, coupons and more Pilot walks away from crash on Mat-Su road By JENNIFER PELTZ Associated Press NEW YORK A smiling former Miss Russia said Tuesday she has learned from her mistakes after a drug case against her was dismissed since she spent two sometimes rocky years in treatment. “I’ve learned my lesson,” said Anna Malova as she left a Manhattan court, wearing a black suit, black stockings and spiked-heel ankle boots. “I look at the world with clear eyes.” Malova, who finished in the top 10 in the 1998 Miss Universe pageant, was accused of stealing prescription pads from doctors, writing herself prescriptions for pain and anti-anxiety drugs, and filling or trying to fill them at pharmacies 14 times, sometimes even after initial arrests in February 2010 and May 2010. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Richard Weinberg on Tuesday dropped all those charges, plus a clothing-store shoplifting case. Malova’s lawyer said the theft also stemmed from drug addiction. The city special narcotics prosecutor’s office wanted Malova’s treatment extended another three months. But the judge decided Malova had met requirements to get the charges dismissed by going through rehabilitation. “You can be very proud of yourself in getting your life back,” Weinberg said but warned: “If you find yourself failing, you’ll be back before me.” Malova, 42, went into inpatient drug rehabilitation in June 2011, in a process courts call “diversion” to treatment. She was initially supposed to be in the program for about a year. But she was jailed for about a month in late 2011 after authorities said she caused problems at the rehab center. Then she got into trouble again in March 2012, when prosecutors said she had been hoarding pills to try to get high while in treatment. Her lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, has said those problems stemmed from Malova’s drug dependency.