Slugcatcher finds time to ponder

“DEAR Judge Atlas, I am sitting in the smallest room of the Kremlin. Your judgment is front of me. Soon, it will be behind me. Love, Vlad.”
Slugcatcher finds time to ponder Slugcatcher finds time to ponder Slugcatcher finds time to ponder Slugcatcher finds time to ponder Slugcatcher finds time to ponder

With appropriate apologies to the original author of that delicious put down, Slugcatcher suggests that this might be the suitable wording of a letter from Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to US district court judge, Nancy Atlas.

On Saturday, Judge Atlas ordered, from her court in Houston, the temporary blocking of the auction of Yuganskneftegas, the main oil producing arm of the deeply-troubled Yukos oil group.

On Sunday, the Russian government approved the auction and the sale of Yugansk to a previously unknown company called Baikal Finance Group.

Within seconds of the sale critics rushed to their microphones and typewriters to condemn the deal, and the work of President Putin in persecuting the billionaire (but jailed) Mikhail Khodorkovsky, major shareholder in Yukos.

Slugcatcher will not bore his reader (at this time of the year there probably is only one … thanks mum) with all the background to Yukos. But, he will pass a few comments on what is not only likely to happen, but will happen.

First, and this is critical, who the hell gave dear old Nancy the right to sit in judgment on events happening in a foreign country. Not just any foreign country, but THE foreign country. Yanks may think they run the world, but the impudence of an American judge trying to influence events in Russia is truly staggering – no wonder the rest of the world is fast learning to hate most things American.

Second, there is the golden rule. In the mining industry this says “he who owns the gold, makes the rules”. In the oil industry it says “he who owns the guns, makes the rules”.

Third, Vlad’s got the guns. He is also (and take note America) the democratically elected President of Russia, and he is enforcing the law as he sees fit.

Fourth, Vlad may be completing barmy and the law he is enforcing is illegal, immoral, or it makes you fat but, Slugcatcher asks this question: On those counts is there any difference with George W Bush, who is also democratically elected, demonstrably barmy, and persecuting an illegal war (as defined by the United Nations) in Iraq.

There is a point hiding behind this little rant from the Slug, and it goes like this. Russia is a primitive country emerging from 90 years of communist oppression. Vlad might well be a left-over, re-heated communist, but he also happens to be the boss, and he was elected to be the boss.

His attack on Khodorkovsky, and the other so-called oligarchs of Russian business, is probably heavy-handed, verging on the illegal, and looks awful from the outside. But, it should never be forgotten that these oligarchs raided the Russian cookie jar when the rest of the world had its back turned.

At a different time, in a different place, the oligarchs who bought (English translation: stole) priceless Russian natural resource assets, could be viewed as true entrepreneurs. Unfortunately for them, a ruthless ruler has blown the whistle and said it’s time to pay a fair market price for former state assets.

The oligarchs, naturally, reckon they don’t owe a rouble, but having said that they over-stepped the mark and appealed to the west to fight Vlad. After the start of the great global war on terrorism, how stupid was that?

Just try to imagine George W telling his friend Vlad how to run his internal affairs when they are both fighting Islamic terrorists around the world.

And, for a real laugh, just imagine Vlad doing anything with Judge Nancy’s letter other than flushing it down the dunny.