Monday, September 29, 2014

The Promise and peril of democracy

Young U.Srinivas

'kalise nelaraju' from Telugu film Anarkali 1955

Budget based programs for poverty alleviation

Russ Roberts in his discussion with Piketty "... my real point about the Forbes 400, or wealthy entrepreneurs, is that it is their contributions, their innovations, that have made our lives better. And that's a good thing. And the fact that their income is growing faster, their wealth is growing faster than the average is a sign of just how much more they've created. They've created wealth. " 

Claire Melamed  in The Other Half "Where once institutions such as the World Bank and charities like Oxfam described their goal as simply ‘ending poverty’, today they tend to frame things in terms of poverty and inequality. Well, that makes sense: doesn’t it seem intuitively obvious that these two things must be connected in some way?
Yet those links can be surprisingly hard to bring into focus. "

But what is often overlooked is that, in 160 signatory countries, international law mandates that governments must not only provide services equitably but also must invest resources in addressing inequalities arising from past discrimination. Economic and social rights can indeed help the poor—despitearguments to the contrary—and using budget-based evidence can improve and help enforce these laws
......the International Budget Partnership (IBP), together with partners from around the world, has published a handbook on what the covenant means for government budgets. We found that the budget is a powerful and under-utilized tool to hold governments to account for their human rights obligations.."

I am not familiar with the work of Helena Hofbauer, but I came across similar projects in India using RTI and Social Audit .

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review of 'Seven bad ideas'

by Peter Richrdson "Madrick quotes MIT economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Solow on the appeal of Say’s law. “There has always been a purist streak in economics that wants everything to follow neatly from greed, rationality, and equilibrium,” Solow wrote in 2008. “The theory is neat, learnable, not terribly difficult, but just technical enough to feel like ‘science.’ Moreover, it is practically guaranteed to give laissez-faire type advice, which happens to fit nicely with the general turn to the political right that began in the 1970s.” Those three sentences encapsulate much of what is wrong with the profession today." Another quote from the review "The split between Fama and Shiller, who shared the Nobel Prize in 2013, points to Madrick’s final bad idea: the notion of economics as a science. Madrick’s poster boy for this position is University of Chicago professor and Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas. “I came to the position that mathematical analysis is not one of many ways of doing economic theory,” Lucas once said. “It is the only way. Economic theory is mathematical analysis. Everything else is just pictures and talk.” "
There is a discussion with another review by Paul Krugman at Economist's View.
Related 'The construction of a Global Profession: The Transnationalization of Economics' by Marion Fourcade

Friday, September 26, 2014

Namit Arora on Birla Nagar

A Place Called Home. Excerpts:
"Within the last few years, the new owner of Gwalior Rayon has revived a dyeing unit (no pun intended) by tapping the residual labor pool of employees who never left. But the township remains a pale shadow of its past, with derelict houses and roads, untended public spaces, meager municipal services, and piles of rubble and garbage.Outside Birlanagar, Gwalior’s trajectory resembles that of many cow-belt cities: A newly prosperous class is evident in its malls, big cars, and gated apartments. Abject poverty is less visible now than in my time."
"This list confirmed my long held suspicion that the supposed diversity of Birlanagar was deeply deceptive. I found not a single Muslim, Shudra, Dalit, or Adivasi among the Staff. No women either. In short, not even one person from the constituencies that make up almost 90 percent of Indians! ‘Our management had an unwritten policy of not hiring Muslims,’ father remarked casually. Labor employees did include lower-caste men but almost all Staff employees at this ‘temple of modern India’ were twice-born Hindu males, with a profusion of Marwari banias—especially in senior management, starting with Aditya Birla himself—the rest being a smattering of privileged Christian, Jain, and Sikh men. Father told me that other Staff members quietly resented the domination of Marwari banias. Staff hiring and promotions pivoted mostly on caste, not merit, and diversity wasn’t valued at all."
"It’s tempting to think that Birlanagar’s regressive business and social practices contributed to the mills’ demise in the era of globalization, but that would be wishful thinking. Caste, with its hydra-headed ways, has adapted to modern capitalism; both caste and communal discrimination continue to flourish in 21st century corporate India. Yet notably, Birlanagar was then widely admired by outsiders; even the Labor jobs were in much demand. This suggests that most people, across the social spectrum, saw Birlanagar as no worse—and better in some ways—than the society at large."
See also the comment by Ravi Verma.

Anil Biswas

is considered one of great music directors in the Indian cinema. Once I saw in this autobiographical piece
"My favourites till today are the songs from `Vatan (1938)',
`Ek   Hi  Rasta  1939)',  `Alibaba (1940)',  `Bahen (1941)',  and
`Roti  (1942)'.  Sometimes when I am  alone I recall   the  tunes
of   ``kyoN  ham  ne   diya  dil''  (sung   by Sitara,  lyrics by
Wajahat Mirza,  from `Vatan')  and  ``kahe  karta  der  baraati''
(sung  by Anil Biswas and chorus,  lyrics by Dr. Safdar Aah, from
Now somebody has posted the song from Watan (Vatan)1938
and the second one rom Aurat 1940
They seem to be from worn out records and do not sound that great.


Arunkumar Deshmukh writes about Renuka Devi (Begum Khursheed Mirza) family "he story of Renuka Devi is quite interesting. Khursheed jehan was born in Aligarh on 4-3-1918, to Shaikh Abdulla and his wife Waheed jehan Beg. She was the 6th of 7 siblings. Her father Shaikh Abdulla (1874-1965) was originally a Hindu. he was the son of a rich jehagirdar and Landlord from Poonch,Kashmir. They were Kashmiri Brahmins. His name was Thakur Das. He embraced Islam in 1890, while studying in Aligarh. When his family learnt about it he was disowned by them. He took the name Shaikh Abdulla.
He became a leading Advocate of Aligarh. After he married Waheed Jehan Beg, they both- being of progressive thinking- decided to work for the Muslim womens’ education. They faced lot of resistance from the fundamentalists, but they established a Muslim women’s college in Aligarh. To provide students for this college, a school was also started for Muslim girls. Soon girls started joining the school and college. Shaikh Abdulla ensured that all his children were educated. One daughter became a Doctor, another Advocate and two daughters did master’s degrees and later on became Principals of the women’s college. Khursheed also studied upto masters but due to her marriage could not complete it. ( she completed her masters in English Litterateur in 1963, at the age of 45 years, later)."
Nivedita Ramakrishnan on Renuka Devi and Jairaj

India's Mars Mission

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Revisiting two books on debt

Both of which I browsed very superficially. The first is 'A fee nation deep in debt: The financial roots of democracy' by a banker James Macdonald. A nice review by James albraith of this and a book by Acegmolu and Robinson by James Galbraith here. The other is by the anthropologist David Graeber 'Debt: the first 5000 years'. This wikipedia article has a link to the pdf file. Here is an interview with David Graeber.
A 2010 article by Ehud Kaufman on public debt. A recent article by Derryl Hermanutz, which I did not understand, brought these back to mind: Why most people can't believe the truth about money

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Russia&India report on sanctions

How sanctions are hastening the world without the west. May be. Moreover there are reports that Modi looks up to China as a development model. Earlier post on sanctions which also mentions a quote from Keynes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

'Men in Dark Times' by Hannah Arendt

is available on line. Read a couple of the portraits including the second one about Rosa Luxemburg. Here is more recent one Red Rosa by Paul Le Blanc. Excerpts
"As suggested above, it can be argued that capitalism is more complex, more
dynamic than Luxemburg allows. Beyond this, there is more truth than
she seems aware in her assertion that ‘the accumulation of capital, as an
historical process, depends upon non-capitalist social strata and forms of
social organization.’ Non-capitalist regions of the globe are certainly the
target of capitalist penetration and degradation for the sake of maximizing
profits – but such penetration is also relentlessly taking place in the
multifaceted non-capitalist aspects of our lives and environment, within
highly developed capitalist countries. "
"Regardless of powerful criticisms leveled at Luxemburg’s
Accumulation of Capital, her discussion of the workings and impacts of
imperialism clearly retain considerable validity. Modern economist Joan
Robinson once commented, after an extremely critical survey of The
Accumulation of Capital, that ‘for all of its confusions and exaggerations,
this book shows more prescience than any orthodox contemporary could
claim’ "

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Low Growth Problems?

Are advanced economies mature enough to handle low growth? by Yves Smith
Ukraine:As economic war escalates, fighting may resume soon from Moon of Alabama
P.S. It seems to be that this is the beginning of another cold war. The earlier one was supposed to be due to ideological differences.. This one seems to be due to low growth particularly in the west and US with Russia a reluctant participant. How it pans out for other counties is not clear with conflicts from Venezuela to Thailand with so much armaments available. I guess that life goes on somehow or other if one is not a refugee.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two reviews of a book on Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin :A Critical Life by Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings
Brains and Sex by a Melbourne academic Justin Clemens
The Naysayers by a music critic Alex Ross

Boris Kagarlitsky on Ukraine

in an interview. These roughly correspond to my impressions

Feroza Begum RIP

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Indian film song

Two bee studies

The first In Bees, a Hunt for the Roots of Social Behaviour describes studies of the genome level differences between solitary and social bees as well as diferences between social bees engaged in different tasks. One species 'sweat bees' has both behaviours depending on the region they come from. The second No Glass Ceiling for Worker Bees describes what happens in a hive of honey bees when elite foraging bees which do hlf the work are removed "Then, by removing those top performers, the team found that other bees took their place. It was, said Dr. Robinson, “elitism with a populist streak.”"

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

My first experience with a healer

which I got as a father's day present from one of the children. It consisted of lying down on a table for one hour, most of the time with eyes closed, and her running her hands above the body and sometimes touching the injured parts( in my case left wrist from De Quervain's tenosynovitis and right elbow which seems bruised for unknown reasons). Apparently reactions of earlier visitors were different from fairly active physical reactions to feeling of floating above the table. I did not feel much and was conscious though she said I slept in the middle. Her hands were warm but when she passed her hand a couple of inches over the the forehead, it was distinctly warmer like getting close to a lamp. There were also a couple flashes of light even though my eyes were closed. Later video showed my eye lids moving a bit though my eyes were closed and I was not coscious of moving them. i cannor really say whether some heatin stuff was not used. Others who had stroner reactions had partners or parents present durin the sessions. May be some of the healers have some effect. But I could not keep quiet for an hour and started chatting. She had problems growing chillies and curry leaves and I had some success with them and discussed about those for a while.

MIR Books

From a post three years ago "Mir Publications is a name known to most Indians associated with excellent books in almost all subjects of interest, but especially in science and mathematics. ....
Some of the classics of the Mir books are by Yakov Pereleman, Landau, Kitaigorodosky, Zeldovich, Matveev and the list goes on…
Some notable series were: Science for Every OneWhat is…ABC of…Physics for Everyone…
 I urge and request all the people who owe even a little bit to books by Mir to contribute their knowledge about these books here…"
In the comments that follow (352 so far) there are lot of links to access thoe books.

Michael Hudson on IMF loans to Ukraine

Loosing credibility: The IMF's New Cold War Loan to Ukraine "...on August 29, just as Kiev began losing its attempt at ethnic cleansing against the eastern Donbas region, the IMF signed off on the first loan ever to a side engaged in a civil war, not to mention being rife with insider capital flight and a collapsing balance of payments. Based on fictitiously trouble-free projections of the ability to pay, the loan supported Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, long enough to enable the oligarchs’ banks to move the money quickly into Western hard-currency accounts before the hryvnia plunged further and was worth even fewer euros and dollars.
This loan demonstrates the degree to which the IMF is an arm of U.S. Cold War politics. The loan terms imposed the usual budget austerity, as if this would stabilize the war-torn country’s finances. The financings obviously were devoted mainly to rebuilding the army. The war-torn East can expect to receive nothing even nothing even though its basic infrastructure has been destroyed for power generation water, and hospitals. Civilian housing areas that bore the brunt of the attack are also unlikely to profit from the IMF’s uncharacteristic generosity.
A quarter of Ukraine’s exports normally are from eastern provinces and sold mainly to Russia. But Kiev has been bombing Donbas industry and left its coal mines without electricity. Nearly a million civilians are reported to have fled to Russia. Yet the IMF release announced: “The IMF praised the government’s commitment to economic reforms despite the ongoing conflict.” No wonder there was almost no comment in the news or even the business press!"
The article also discusses the privitization plans in Ukraine and strategies to  avoid payin Ukraine's debts to Russia.
On a different note,
A Russian envioronmentalist on The ecology of sanctions

Sunday, September 07, 2014


Mindhacks talks of " an interesting study of a women who started compulsively writing poetry after having brief epileptic amnesia treated with the anti-seizure drug lamotrigine......One of the most interesting implications of these cases is that rhyming, punning and poetic speech, which we normally think of as something that needs specific conscious effort and attention, can appear spontaneously to the point of overwhelming our normal forms of communication."
 From Nursing patterns & mother's milk (via Ed Yong)  "But for breastfeeding mothers, this also means that night milk may have importantly different features from daytime milk for babies. There are hundreds of bioactive hormones in milk that likely vary across the 24 hours of the day. What they do when consumed by the infant remains poorly explored if not TOTALLY UNKNOWN " But some effects known in rats. 
Carl Zimmer on Parasites practicing mind control
Carl Zimmer on the evolution of caffeine
About the composition of the fighters in Eastern Ukraine 
Robert Kagan thinks that America is averse to fight



I find that the number of visitors my blog (I do not know the numbers in Facebook. These numbers vary from time to time but they seem more  than beore) seems to be crossing 300 daily and before I mislead people, it may be good to describe my biases. I grew up during the Dulles days when the US attitude was 'If you are not with us, you are against us' and Russians were friendly to India. So that sort of bias and general suspicion towards the rich seems to be there in my background. I have spent over six years in USA and have many friends there and I do not know any Russians.I think that there is often local self organization but often threatened and washed away by global influences (It is worth pondering how Eastern Ukraine will fare now). What sort of balance can be achieved seems to be the problem. Possibly such a balance can be achieved only if some principle of subsidiarity is adopted in our constitutions. More than that I do not know. I am lost too and am just exploring.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Peter Turchin on Ukraine

Peter Turchin, author of 'War and Peace and War' has some articles on Ukraine from March this year. One of them Wealth and Democracy in Ukraine is in two parts. In the second part, he compares Ukraine with Russia and Belarus. It suggests that a combination of democracy an oligarchs is bad for economic well bein. Apparently, Belarus which has a dictator but no billionaires is doing better than Ukraine thouh it has lesser resources. Excerpts.
"Russia may not be a good comparison because of its vast mineral wealth in oil and gas. Worse, in some ways, Russia is even more oligarchic than Ukraine – it has a truly remarkable number of billionaires, for a medium-wealth country (I tried to count them in the Forbes’ list, but lost count after 100). Still, there is one important difference between Russia and Ukraine.
The Russian oligarchs, although they came very close to seizing power during the 1990s, ultimately failed to become the ruling class, as it happened in Ukraine. Following a struggle between the economic elites and administrative elites (the ‘State Nobility’), the latter won decisively, thus reverting to the historical pattern that characterized power relations in Russia since at least the fifteenth century. What we have now in Russia is the rule by fairly corrupt state officials working closely with their business cronies. Politically the business elites, unlike in Ukraine, are thoroughly subordinated to the bureaucrats. While the governance of the country is far from optimal, we should also note that, unlike in Ukraine, the Russian system does deliver better results for common people....
Perhaps a better comparison is the one with Belarus, a country that lacks not only the mineral wealth of Russia, but also the excellent climate and rich “black soils” of Ukraine. Nevertheless, Belarus manages a very respectable GDP per capita of $16,100, more than twice as good as the one in Ukraine. Furthermore, Belarus doesn’t sport even a single billionaire in the Forbes list. This means that the median Belorussian income is way above that of Ukraine, and probably better than in Russia (a more equitable division of wealth elevates the median). It’s a remarkable achievement for a country that lacks any oil and gas, and is located in a rather unproductive ecological zone."
"Returning to our comparison of the three East Slavic countries, it is startling to observe that the least democratic, Belarus, is also the most egalitarian, while the people of the most democratic, Ukraine, are the poorest. And don’t forget, the GDP data were for 2013. Today, following the February 2014 Revolution, the GDP has likely declined even more."

Two more on Piketty

Some relief in Ukraine

(Links via Naked Capitalism) From Forbes "...[Putin]  he will keep Crimea and will considerably enhance the ability of Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine’s eastern provinces to stand up to Kiev. (Even the  Economist magazine, one of Putin’s fiercest critics, concedes as much. Click here for a commentary just posted at the Economist’s site.)"
It is not clear what is happening with IMF loans: Michael Hudson on the conditions for the loans and this report on the lack of transparency about how the money is spent, some of it for war effort and some disappeared off shore.
There were doubts whether US would go along with the Putin initiated peace plans but they have with some sabre rattling about rapid deployment NATO forces.

. an treasury by the IMF at the start of May, $3.1 billion had disappeared offshore by the middle of August.n "
short, of the $3.2 billion disbursed to the Ukrainian trasury by the IMF at the start of May, $3.1 billion had disappeared offshore by the middle of August."

Friday, September 05, 2014

Two documentaries on Kathak

From 1970, Films Division
Around 6:40 we see a Kathak dance in saree, which is rare these days. The dancer seems to be Damayanti Joshi from this advertisement. A recent one, easy to follow, for non-experts like me made by Elena Malova

Sveta Tulasi

A write up about her Indo-Russian children pursue showbiz dreams (h/t Richard Singer)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

'Animal Farm' connection between India and Ukraine

George Orwell, And The "Beastly" Connection Between India and Ukraine by Nina Martyris (via Akshay Regulaedda). Excerpt:
"Within months of the IRD being set up, an official named Celia Kirwan, who was also a friend of Orwell’s, visited the tubercular writer at his sanatorium to confidentially sound him out on “the best way of furthering our aims in India and Burma.” Kirwan’s report of the meeting, excerpted in Peter Davison’s George Orwell, A Life in Letters, shows Orwell had a nuanced understanding of the ground realities: “He did not think that there was a great deal of scope for propaganda in India and Pakistan, where Communism meant something quite different from what it did in Europe—it meant on the whole, opposition to the ruling class, and he thought that more good would be done by maintaining the closest possible links with these countries, through trade and through the interchange of students.”
Despite these reservations, Orwell assented to the Telugu translation. Janamanci Ramakrsna’s Pasuvula divanam: Uha kalpitameina peddakatha was rushed through in a matter of months. The IRD also financed an Animal Farm cartoon series that was printed in the Times of India Delhi edition and in cities from Hong Kong to Rio......The origins of the Ukrainian translation are refreshingly different. It preceded the IRD’s command performances and was an act of resistance worthy of this allegorical masterpiece. "
And more interesting stuff in the article.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

An article on Russia

The Eternal collapse of Russia says 'Despite centuries of predictions, Russia isn't going anywhere'. The article seems OK but at one point it attributes the MH 17 crash Eastern Ukrainian 'rebels' with weapons provided by Russia. This is ot clear to me. In fact Russia has been pressing for the release of the black box transcripts and the preliminary results of the investiation. And the west has been quiet about it after the initial accusations. It seems most of the news coming from the western mainstream news papers including The Guardian is propoganda and it is not clear where to look for real news except google search and sift through the material.

Plant communication

There have been various reports of plants communicating with each other. This seems to be a new discovery Roots exchane information at molecular level:
"It was thought that mRNA was very fragile and short-lived, so transferring it between species was impossible.
But Professor Westwood found that during this parasitic relationship, thousands upon thousands of mRNA molecules were being exchanged between both plants, creating an open dialogue between the species that allows them to freely communicate.
Through this exchange, the parasitic plants may be instructing the host plant to lower its defences so that they can more easily attack it.
Professor Westwood's hopes to discover precisely what the mRNA are 'saying'."

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Diversity of views about Ukraine

in the comments of Endgame for Putin in Ukraine? by Robert Skidelisky.
Abut the role of IMF and World Bank from AlJazeera
Letter from veteran US intelligence officers to Anela Merkel
My own impression: Putin seemed restrained from the beginning and not particularly interested in getting invoved in Ukraine. But with the events in Ukraine developing as they did ( a government appointing oligarchs to run Eastern Ukraine, decrease in salaries, increase in charges etc, and bombing its own civilians) and large sections of people in Russia sympathetic to fellow Russian speakers in Ukraine, Putin probably did not have much choice. Whatever democratic umpulses and self organization Eastern Ukrainians showed, may in fact be unwelcome to Putin and he has his hands full in Crimea. Hopefully, Eastern Ukrainians will not be betrayed for the second time by some of the oligarchs and bureaucrats from Russia.
P.S. 3rd September Lavrov enquires about black boxes and other things via Naked Capitalism. Southern Ukraine refugee numbers are now supposed to be over one million.

Law and order in USA

Teacher suspended, incarcerated for science fiction story
But nearly forty years ago another teacher got away with it: Wikipedia article on Carrie by Stephen King. In this article Against Law, for order from April 2012, Mike Konczaldescribes the evolution of the incaceration system from niht-watchman role to an active system of preventin possible disorder "The concept of the night watchman is re-purposed: instead of the quiet, passive night watchman looking over the rules of property and law, the government is active, participating, constantly at war with disorder, pushing the laws against its constraints to save the system. This expansion of police power, discretion and punishment isn’t matched by an equal emphasis on those accused."

Monday, September 01, 2014

A different perspective on Ukraine

So far I have been reading mainly western main stream media which seem propagandist  (they are silent on MH 17 crash probe for a while after initially pointing the finer at rebels and Russia) or leftists sistes like global research or Vineyard of The Saker. From the second set, Putin comes out as a statesman of vision and strength. It is difficult to believe that Putin is an angel thouh he has shown restraint on this issue. Here is an article new site which I have come across which looks more reasonabe to me: Eastern Ukraine peoples' republics between militias and oligarchs. Excerpt:
"How Strelkov was lured to Moscow, and what was done to him there in order to extract from him his “voluntary” resignation (if in fact he signed such a statement at all), we can only guess. He may have been threatened with a complete halt to Russian supplies to the liberated territories of Novorossiya. To a substantial degree, this dependency of the people’s republics on outside supplies is a result of inept management by the people whom Strelkov removed from their posts in July and early August – they were unable, or refused, to organise the economy in the rear, and to ensure the normal distribution of resources. By August a situation had arisen in which the republics were threatened with disaster unless shipments of food and ammunition were brought from Russia. More than likely, it was this lever that was used by the Kremlin intriguers to get rid of Strelkov.
One way or another, the conservative forces took their revenge, and the Donetsk military leader was removed. People suspected of links to the oligarchs were appointed to a series of key posts. In Moscow during these very days the Ukrainian politician Oleg Tsarev, representing no one and driven out of Donetsk by the militia fighters, unfurled a “new flag of Novorossiya”......The Russian press is already reporting openly on an agreement reached between the Moscow bureaucrats and the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. In the best traditions of the ancien rĂ©gime, the Kremlin bureaucracy has decided to sacrifice the liberated territories to its new vassal, in exchange for his services as a mediator in its relations with Kiev and prospectively, the West. At the same time, contacts are being revived between Russian and Ukrainian diplomats, and lively discussions are under way on the ultimate fate of the south-east. After the failure of its latest offensive, and faced with growing internal difficulties, Kiev might well be ready to strike a deal.
The only thing the authors of this scenario have not taken into account is the thinking of the people of Novorossiya and Ukraine, along with the moods of Donetsk residents and the overall logic of a revolutionary process into which Russian society too is gradually being drawn. The militia fighters and activists who, beneath the bombs, are constructing a new state are no longer prepared to be docile agents of outside decision making, no matter where, in Moscow or Kiev, the decisions alien to their interests are being taken. In Novorossiya, the idealistic sympathies with an abstract Russia that characterised the first months of the uprising are now being replaced by a growing hatred for the Kremlin bureaucrats, whom supporters of the republics accuse of sabotage and treason. The same moods are growing, in the fashion of an avalanche, within Russia itself. As for Igor Strelkov, a new group of field commanders is taking his place, in many ways accepting him as an example but differing from him in their far more radical and left-wing views.
Through apparatus intrigues, blackmail and manipulation, it may be possible to achieve tactical successes, and to banish one or another figure from the leadership. But it will not be possible to stop the revolutionary crisis whose development is now gathering strength."
P.S. An earlier article by the same author gives some of the backround, particularly in the section 'Donestk in the shadow of Moscow'