Thursday, January 24, 2008

Joke of the day: Kosachev won't let me into... Russia!

Russian news portals in the Baltic states, including Delfi make headlines reporting on the newest round of Russia's threats against Estonia, this time by Konstantin Kosatchev, chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee and a major foreign policy actor in Russia's parliament, speaking at European parliamentary discussion club, PACE.

He astonished the public with Kremlin's latest mind blowing idea, a punish package for Estonia and Europe - blocking Estonian and other Schengen citizens access to a criminal, despotic entity, known as Russia. Had the reasons given to justify this step not been presented by a Russian, I wouldn't have believed them. According to pro-Kremlin Russian news portal:

«Такими действиям Россию осознанно подталкивают к тому, чтобы она закрыла въезд на свою территорию всем, кто протестовал против ее контртеррористической операции в Чечне или выступал в защиту российской оппозиции»

«These actions deliberately push Russia towards banning entry to Russian territory to all those who protested against contre-terrorist operation in Chechnya or spoke in defense of Russian opposition»

In short, the madman, drunk with oil dollars, demands entry ban to the democratic World starting with your blogger and ending with countless European politicians and representatives of various civil defense bodies, such as the judges of the European Court of Human Rights, who ruled that the actions of the Russian "army" of butchers in the region constituted war crimes. Again, that's what he said according to Russian news portals.

But what would Europeans themselves make out of this threat, USA paper Christian Science Monitor offers one answer (2005):

"In the last ten years, foreign tourism to Russia dropped by 70%."

Moscow Times suggests another (re-print, 2006):

"The slide in the number of foreign tourists visiting Russia appears to be accelerating, with the number of people entering the country on tourist visas falling by almost a half-million in 2005 to 2.3 million, according to government statistics released Thursday."

Because of the horrific conditions, Russia offers dubious attraction to non-extremal travelers. In 2006 the country earned from tourism just 7 billion dollars. The number originates from World Tourism Organization statistics (PDF). On the other hand Estonia, a country 100 times (sic!) smaller than Russia and without access to any of such natural resorts as skiing mountains or warm seasides, which Russia does have, is able to pull 1 billion dollars from tourism annually!

Why are things so bad in Russia? After making
acquaintance with the country in question citizens of Finland provided following key words (according to Baltic Russian Delfi):

"преступность, бедность, грязь, бюрократия и плохое обслуживание"

"crime, poverty, filth, bureaucracy, bad services"

The poll was conducted by a Finnish newspaper.

So, I guess, Kosachev is just doing Europe a favor.

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