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March 07, 2013

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Alexander Mercouris

Dear Patrick,

Three very brief comments on your usual excellent survey:

1. It is one of the wonders of international financial transactions that it is considered completely respectable to default on loan obligations to Russia. Not only will Cuba never repay Russia a single rouble but it follows a long line of other countries that have done the same thing. Did Egypt ever repay the massive loans for economic and military assistance the USSR provided in the 1960s and 1970s to Nasser and Sadat? Did China do the same for the loans it got from the USSR in the 1950s? Will Venezuela repay its loans to Moscow if the government there changes? Borrowing from Moscow is a one way bet in your favour. No one criticises you if you default on it and your international rating actually improves. The only mystery is why Moscow goes on doing it.

2. On the subject of the mannequins, whilst I agree that Russians are fairly old fashioned I suspect that if the mannequins were displayed actually performing sex then the shop would be prosecuted even in liberal London. I am not familiar with the obscenity laws but there would be concern that putting mannequins performing sex on public display might be seen by minors. In Britain shops are required to put pornography on a top shelf precisely so it is not accessible to minors. Of course with the internet all this is becoming pointless.

3. Good news about Georgia generally. I have to say that I am surprised at how quickly the Saakashvili regime with all its attendant myths and fables has unravelled. It makes one even more suspicious of some of the commentary that was previously written about him. I wonder whether he was ever as popular as legend made him.

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