Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh my soul is aching…

I don't know if I remember a moment like the one we are getting right now from the Russian oil deal. Russia's inability to try and do something for Belarus is more than just an economic debacle for the budget, it is a heart breaking social rejection that nobody thought would go out to its conclusion. Just this last week the president of Belarus was over at the Kremlin trying to talk some turkey with the president of Russia. The man was trying to plead his case that there is no reason for Belarus to have to pay the same money as Europe for its natural gas. Not only was his words not heard, the Russian press even laughed at the man saying he left with out eating his lunch.

Now, practically speaking, the Belarusian side did play games with the Russian press when they were in Belarus this last month, refusing entry to several that the government decided that they didn't like, and so of course a lot of this was simple gamesmanship on the part of the Russian side. And it is not like Lukashenka has all that much saved up with the press in general. But in the end all of this laughing rejection simply adds fuel to an already hot anti-Belarusian propaganda machine and this will only serve to make things worse.

But the real problem that I am facing with all of this, as I am sure most all internet reading Belarusians are as well, is that getting rejected by Russia really, really hurts the old soul. Almost all of the public rhetoric coming from the Belarus side over the last year concerning the creating of the Union State seems now to be the empty bleating of sheep. All year long in meetings with the CIS, with the Kazaks, the Armenians, The Ukrainians, the Azerbaijanis, etc, Lukashenka has been sitting in these meetings preaching centers of power, building a cohesive group to deal with the west's encroachment and abuse of local markets and recourses; they have talk arms buildup, they have sold weapons- they have even allowed for the Iranians to develop things that require nuclear fuel. And all of this simply to redevelop the idea that there could possibly be on the horizon something like the return of the Soviet Union, or at least a real collective collaboration with, I suppose, better results economically than the previous one.

The results of all of this talk have been twofold. Firstly, the west got a real reminder of what life back in the days when both sides kept their big bombs on standby all the time and mutual nuclear annihilation was only an insult away. Of course practically speaking- and Lukashenka has been the first to stand and remind people of this- that antagonism was exactly what the world needed to keep capitalism in check. I will be the first to say that life was better for people when America "NEEDED" to remember humanities and social re-investment. That time when there was a second system out there, an oposing argument; this was when the world was a better place to live in.

The second part as that Belarus actually started to Believe that there was a reason to tie with Russia again. This second point is actually pretty big because in general, and I quote no official sources for this thought though it is sort of general knowledge, Belarus DID NOT WANT TO MAKE A UNION WITH RUSSIA. They did not because they didn't understand why it was needed. To the Belarusian mind, if things were getting better, they were getting better because of something they themselves had done right. Perhaps this was from working a little harder, or agreeing to be a bit more disciplined or even just because they had been being better people in general. And also, it was felt that Russia was a much dirtier country than Belarus; Russia had more crime, their pensions and pay checks less secure and there were much more problems with the local Mafia, all Belarusian workers who have gone to Moscow to find work repeat this tune verbatim. Or in other words, the question was: Why should we trust the Russians? After two years of moderate prosperity, why bother with the Union State at all?

Belarus' argument for better prices on natural gas is simple. European Countries such as Germany operate on what is probably a trillion dollar budget. Paying $200 per 1000 cubic meters for gas can be done relatively painlessly because the percentage of personal income necessary to pay for the rise in cost is basically negligible. I mean, let's say that Klaus and Astrid and their two kids are getting by on his engineering salary of 27,000 euros a year. Well, if the cost of gas should go up from say 20 Euros a month to say, 30 a month, what does this really represent to him? It means that gas goes from 0.9% of his income to 1.3%. But using our house for an example, if we had to go from $10 a month for a tank of gas to $30, this would represent, and to be kind I'll use the states mean $250, a rise from 4% to 12%(!!!!!!). Can you understand this?

And what has Belarus been saying here? They have not asked for special prices, they have simply asked to pay the same prices as the Russians do for its gas. And why shouldn't they? I mean, forget abut the Union State, the two countries do speak the same language, share the same culture and do have a military alliance. And what is more importantly, the two countries do have pretty much the same per capita income and living standards and have such standards for exactly the same reasons and from the same ideologies and problems. Why shouldn't Belarus pay the same money?

This same argument has been going around all of the former Soviet States by the way. Every one of the former satellites wants to know why they have to pretend that they operate on the same economic levels as the Europeans just so the Russian can get fat. The Russian argument is that it has been losing money and that they have been carrying pitiful and parasitic countries for too long. I have another comment by the way about this by the same guy who wrote the two comments for the Russian oil blog a few days ago which basically repeats this thought over and over. (I didn't print his comment this time because he insisted on posting anonymously)

So basically all of this just makes me sick. The real point of it is that the reason that all of these countries are in the position they are in is because of their connection to the USSR and their desire to try and rebuild a union which has some sense of (or at least the memory of) togetherness in it. The west has tortured, abused and raped the former USSR for 15 years now because of this attitude. They have screamed and yelled and fought dirty with Lukashenka when all the man ever really said was that Belarus is not opposed to doing business, she just demands to be treated fairly. Empty capitulation to slave wages and service to Euro trash was not to the countries liking and 83% agreed to that. A poll taken on the anniversary of the end of the USSR also showed that better than half of the people would like to return to such a union. If Russia believes that the will of more than half its people should be ignored for the last few rubles of a finite and ecologically unsound resource I say this is an affront. I say let's ride bikes. I say that Belarus never really wanted the Union and would prefer to work out its problems for itself. I say that Belarus will come through this with or without the Russian's deal.

But in any case, this news just makes me sick. To me and to a lot of people this gas deal stinks like the other two economic debicles Russia has been responsible for in 1991 and in 1997. All of this is just more lousy news for the locals who have suffered far more than any humans should ever have been made to suffer. And believe me, the suffering has nothing to do with human rights, it has to do with being tortured for trying to remain socialist (and social). And if you happen to be someone who feels happy over this, I think it is high time you had a good look at yourself in the mirror.


Anonymous A Real Russian said...

You can choose to print this comment or not, it does not matter. I don't have a blog, so I can't sign in, and am not going to create one just to comment on some other blogs. And my name has nothing to do with the posting anyway.
But I felt compelled to say something because the gist of your posting is rather appalling to me. Your whole post exudes a sense of "entitlement" for something you are not entitled at all for. You seem to think that Belarus (and the other countries squeaking now) are somehow entitled to receive cheap gas, that Russia somehow has an obligation to hand over its money to you. Even your example is fallacious: You point out that an average German household would have less trouble paying the gas bill. But in Germany, just like in any other country, there are poor folks and rich folks. Does the gas company charge less to the poor folks just because they are poor? Of course not, both pay the same for whatever gas they use. If the poor folks can't afford the bill, then they turn down the thermostat, bundle up, and try to make do with less gas. The gas company is not a charity, and neither is Russia. Yes, Belarus is poorer than Germany, but it still has to pay market price for the gas it consumes. Belarus is a foreign country, and it is not entitled to Russian domestic prices. Period.
The Belarus subsidy stands at about $5 billion a year. This is a lot of money, and Russia has better uses for it than wasting it in a country that somehow believes that it is entitled to get this money and it's not even thankful for having gotten it so far. For example, there are many pensioners in Russia herself barely making do with their monthly incomes, since you want to bring in the "human" aspect. Russia has its own people to take care of, let Belarus take care of its own without siphoning off Russia.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006  
Blogger BEING HAD said...

You are not a real Russian. You are from the west and this is western rhetoric. I say this because your English does not have those second language touches I hear and read every day. So this means that you are a fake because you have no vested interest in the success or failure of the world you are speaking of, nor do you really understand the mindset of the people here. Therefore, all you are doing is regurgitating what you "learned" on western TV. You believe that the "Lone Ranger" philosophy (which I suppose could be stated as "you only need to be white and have an ethnic sidekick to do your dirty work in order to get by") is the only possible solution to the problem of living in the world. Good luck to you in that; I do not agree.

I didn't print your last comment because you were redundant and because it was in bad taste. You have no idea what life is like in the former USSR and I don't understand where you think you have the right to anonymously shit on my media space.

But nevertheless, here is my answer:

Firstly, no one ever gets ahead alone in this world anywhere, any time. The vast, vast majority of the people who live in this world require the support and aid of others- you have to be born an heiress like Paris Hilton (a fine role model she is) not to need others. Maybe you wish to be Paris Hilton, or maybe you are just stupid, but in either case, not understanding this principal makes you a liar and a fool.

Secondly, the deal that Russia is doing against Belarus and all of the satellite states is a rape and an affront. Sorry buddy, but there was and is a big connection. A BIG ONE. And the grave you are so gleefully dancing on is for exactly that connection of which I am speaking.

A real example of the thoughtlesness of your point however might be something like this: Perhaps you yourself someday might have enough money to be able to support you old mom and pop. Perhaps under the guise of being a good son you to set them up in an apartment or a house; you simply want them to be able to live in peace, or so you say. But then one day you go to them and say "You know what mom? You are a parasite. I could be making better use of this place renting it to someone who would actually pay full price. I know you are 70 years old, I know that you don't have a hell of a lot of prospects, but I think you ought to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go out and get yourself job because I am upping the rent. I have been carrying you for too long. I don't know where you thought we had an association or a relationship. I have money right now from my job, this makes me the boss, and frankly, I see you as a pure anchor..."

You know what buddy, you don't need to write to me any more. I don't feel like supporting your opinions on my blog anymore. I feel you had stated your opinion clearly the first time, but now you are taking advantage of me, using me for your own emotional pleasure. I know it was nice to have a built up media place for you to talk in, but I think it IS time for you to go out and make your own blog you lazy, fat-mouthed idiot. Go and do your own work and put your own name on it and see how you go. I have subsidized your short-sighted, lackey mind long enough. You have not paid me a penny for using my site. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and join the community or just shut your mouth and go back to your job at pizza hut.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006  

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