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Dedicated Russian thread

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Moscow Times reports "The state-run TASS news agency cited a law enforcement official as saying that so far investigators are not considering that Navalny was poisoned intentionally."
Official denial indicates state ordered assassination attempt. This demonstrates Putin's paranoia and insecurity. Some claim it could have been any one of several enemies of Navalny but this denial suggests otherwise.

On the one hand he wants to make clear that he has the power to assassinate any credible opposition. On the other hand he ensures deniability. Try proving he arranged it. The timing is interesting. Putin is obviously afraid of what is going on in Belarus spilling over in to Russia. The strong man is afraid.

Does Putin have a personal food and drink tester? This won't increase his popularity.
It was accidental polonium poisoning by the ghost of Beria
 
[DRIFT]

Published by: Gary McVey, RICOCHET, 20 August 2020.

Cars for Comrades

“Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile”, by Lewis Siegelbaum is one of the rare English language histories of that country’s motor industry, and it’s really more of a Soviet story than a car book.


The central paradox that gives the tale its drama is Communism’s ambiguous, and ultimately changing official attitude, towards the car. Evidently “auto” in early Russian parlance includes a range of rugged large vehicles that include all but the largest overland trucks. If there’s one country whose ex-urban areas justify the use of SUVs and similarly tall, hulking vehicles it surely is Russia.

Officially discouraged if not actively condemned by Marxists, private car ownership was one of the world’s most visible symbols of freedom but also, at least in poor countries, of inequality. It’s often remarked how astonished Soviet audiences were when the brief wartime romance between the US and the USSR brought films like “The Grapes of Wrath” to Russian audiences: “You mean the American poor people own their own automobiles? And they’re free to just get up and leave when famine hits, obtaining no permits, to wherever in America they can find work? Incredible!”

Each phase of this transition is associated here with a particular new city, a particular new labor campaign that in each case represented a generational plateau of Communist achievement. Like most pre-revolutionary Russian industries, the first major companies were located in Moscow, where the ZIS (“Stalin Auto Factory”) and then ZIL cars were made. Cheap Moskviches and Pobedas, war booty copies of Opels, were also made in the Soviet capital, but the new nation’s “Detroit” was the gigantic artificial industrial city built at the beginning of the thirties near the ancient town of Nizhny Novgorod. American Communist union organizers came from their shifts at Ford and GM plants to help supervise the construction of GAZ, the Gorky auto works, meant to be the largest factories in Europe . . .

. . . .
There are long passages of “Cars for Comrades” about the endemic Russian curse of underdevelopment and isolating distances, summarized here as “roadlessness”; the automobile may have been regarded with suspicion, but the fact that peasant eagerness to drive cars made it easier to compel them to build roads was noticed by Soviet planners and acted on. The degree of this roadlessness is hard to comprehend; before the war, there were very few paved roads outside of the cities and surprisingly few paved roads even inside of them. With the harsh extremes of Russian weather, a country of dirt roads can quickly become an impossibly muddy quagmire in spring, a snowbound nightmare in winter, and a dusty, rutted ordeal to travel any distance on during the hot summer.

But after, roughly speaking, the Khrushchev years (1954-’64), car ownership ceased to be as exotic and rare as, say, private plane ownership is in the USA. Slowly it became more commonplace in the Soviet Union, if still not nearly as widespread as it was in the United States.

By the start of the seventies, the saga of Soviet carmaking shifted its major focus to VAZ, a vast, Fiat-based set of factories in Togliatti, a Russian city renamed after an Italian Communist. The plain wrap Lada sedans made in Togliatti were ubiquitous on all of my trips to Moscow and no doubt many formerly Soviet territories have lots of older people with fond memories of how their first Lada (in Russia, called Zhiguli at first) changes their lives. If your Moskvich or Volga was parked on city streets, the windshield wipers, hubcaps, and probably the tires would have been stolen. This happened to someone I knew there, a playwright with a privileged car. It was a four-door, or he dryly called it, a “Vordor”–Russian for “Thief”.

Quibbles, yeah, I have a few. More knowledge of the engineering side isn’t essential but it’s certainly helpful if you’re going to make pronouncements about the relative quality of Communist and capitalist consumer goods. Knowing how they really compared wouldn’t have hurt Siegelbaum or us, the readers; you’d have a much better idea of how and when Soviet cars were or weren’t up to world standard in technology or styling. There’s a little too much shallow readiness to assume that previous US observers of Soviet life were buffoons, promoting a “ballyhooed” economic system, too smug about the “supposed benefits of The American Way of Life” to convey the unvarnished truth. Siegelbaum’s the very opposite; I’d call him an ignorant anti-nationalist.

Not literally ignorant, of course; on the contrary, he’s a professor of history in Michigan, home of the US auto industry, and should know better than to assert, for example, that Russia’s shrunken and Mafia-ridden present-day auto industry has become much more successful in the business sense than Detroit, which has to struggle with foreign competition and has relatively less government-paid health and pension assistance with its army of retired UAW workers. The former Soviet auto bosses simply stiffed their workers and walked away from their social obligations after 1991; they used Kremlin connections to preserve their jobs and thus deprived fellow Russians of the chance to buy cheaper, better foreign cars that would have forced the domestic Russian industry to improve, as the Japanese forced our industry to improve.

Another criticism: Thank goodness Siegelbaum uses only a touch of the awful, pretentious jargon of post-seventies literary criticism that has ruined so many other highbrow books, but even the smallest trace can dull your reading pleasure, and I use the word “dull” advisedly. With elements adopted from feminism and Left theory, it became the universal language of the campus gasbag after 1975. Common and common-sense features of the recent old days are “explained” in stilted, artificial fashion: “The lack of women in long-distance trucking in the USSR in the 1930s can be read as a textual analysis of the gender contradictions of building a just socialist society”, that sort of thing.

Of course, it just could be that the absence of women from brutally hard, dangerous, and physically demanding mechanical jobs was considered normal pretty much always and everywhere until fairly recently; it could be that not too many little girls wanted to grow up to become truck drivers.

If one of the real strengths of “Cars for Comrades” is its unflinching willingness to note the broken promises and stunted dreams of the Communist era, an accompanying strength is its sympathy for those who people who lived in the USSR and had to try to make the system work; too often the actual people are treated as unruly, mysteriously ungrateful elements in an artificially rosy photo shoot.

Today there’s growing popular resentment against Russia’s new class of Mercedes-driving snobs and egomaniacs who seem to be inciting a mixture of outraged justice and nationalism. This connected directly to re-reading “Cars for Comrades”, and although the differences between historical epochs shouldn’t be ignored, neither should the similarities.

I’ve met at least one of the semi-villains, Nikita Mikhalkov, the film director and ultra-nationalist, notorious for his possession and use of a police light and siren to evade traffic and traffic laws. Some have asked, why should a film director have an official siren, normally reserved for VIPs involved in national defense? It turns out there are thousands of such pampered big shots, some of them as insolent and cruel as a young “lit-chick” writer who bitterly complained about the wasted sacks of ugly, poverty-stricken flesh who dared to cross the path of her fast German car. Despite a wave of popular outrage, her only punishment was expulsion from the Communist Party—and I thought that had been all but abolished 29 years ago. Some “Communist”; and that would have been a sad and entirely fitting epigraph for “Cars for Comrades”.

When I traveled to the USSR each year, friends here used to ask me what average Russians were like. They were probably thinking of Soviet posters of heroic workmen and farmers engaged in class struggle. “Like Edith and Archie Bunker”, I’d say.

The kinda songs Prokofiev played. Marching in the Red Parade,

Guys like us, we had it made

Those were the days

Didn’t need elections then, Girls were girls and men were men,

Buddy, we could use a man like Joseph Stalin again!

We had a perfect welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight,

Gee, our Zaporozhets ran great,

Those-were-the-days!

[/DRIFT]
 
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I wonder if he will be allowed to leave? With Dr's saying he's too ill to move:

“An ambulance plane with specialists for coma patients will leave this evening,” Bizilj told Bild. “If Navalny is in a state to be transported tomorrow morning, the plane will immediately fly to Berlin. His wife will accompany him.”
Maybe he had a premonition?

“He even joked that he has to make excuses that he hasn’t been killed yet,” said Ilya Chumakov, one of two dozen activists who met Navalny on Wednesday in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

Then, according to Chumakov, he grew more serious and added that his death would not help President Vladimir Putin.

“He replied that it wouldn’t be beneficial for Putin. That it would lead to him (Navalny) being turned into a hero,” Chumakov said.
Quoting myself, but as expected, his move to Germany is being denied. Firstly Dr's said he could be moved, but changed their minds at the last minute according to reports:

Navalny’s wife Yulia and his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, who want to fly Navalny to Germany for medical treatment, have criticised the hospital after it said that moving him would put his life at risk because he was still in a coma and his condition unstable.

“The ban on transporting Navalny is an attempt on his life being carried out right now by doctors and the deceitful authorities that have authorised it,” Yarmysh wrote on Twitter.

She said doctors had previously consented to his being moved, but had withheld their agreement at the last minute.

“This decision, of course, was not made by them, but by the Kremlin,” said Yarmysh.

The Kremlin said on Friday it was up to doctors to decide whether Navalny was fit to be moved from the hospital.

More time for the (alleged) poison to dissipate.
 
Mr.Navalny is still in coma and
... as expected, his move to Germany is being denied. Firstly Dr's said he could be moved, but changed their minds at the last minute according to reports:
It is possible that at this point poison can not be detected. It could explain why the permission was delayed.
 
Mr.Navalny is still in coma and

It is possible that at this point poison can not be detected. It could explain why the permission was delayed.
According to the CBC report, some of Navalny's supporters were claiming that his transfer was being delayed until the alleged poison had cleared from his system so it couldn't be detected. I don't know how correct this is, as I don't know if blood samples taken by the German doctors could not be used to detect the poison.

The Russian doctors are apparently waiting for a report from the German doctors. It is possible that the Russian doctors simply don't want to sign off on the transfer until they've seen the report from Navalny's German doctors so they can pass any responsibility for his case on to them.
 
Just now the plane with mr.Navalny is on the way to Berlin. So let's wish him fast recover.
According to the CBC report, some of Navalny's supporters were claiming that his transfer was being delayed until the alleged poison had cleared from his system so it couldn't be detected.
It is exactly what did I mean. I strongly suspect that there is (are) agent(s) of special services among Navalny's supporters and close aids. I suppose that he likely was poisoned by one of them.
The head of the Hospital where mr.Navalny appears to be ... surprise ... an activist of the United Russia (pro-Putin) party and spokesman (his deputy) looks as a former military medic (he uses specific expressions that expose him as a military man).
I don't know how correct this is, as I don't know if blood samples taken by the German doctors could not be used to detect the poison.
I believe that they were not allowed to take any blood samples. If mr.Navalny was poisoned (and I believe that he was poisoned) then everything possible was done to remove all traces of the poison from the body. I don't exclude that his blood was completely substituted by donor's blood. Extremely low level of glucose could point to it. Also Navalny's wife Yulia was not allowed just to see him. I suspect because of some manipulations with his blood and body. If my suggestions are true then highly unlikely that German doctors would detect anything unusual in the blood and in the body.
The Russian doctors are apparently waiting for a report from the German doctors. It is possible that the Russian doctors simply don't want to sign off on the transfer until they've seen the report from Navalny's German doctors so they can pass any responsibility for his case on to them.
The explanation likely is much simpler. The delay was caused by remaining weak traces of the poison, that Russian authorities tried to hide.
 

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