Russian Journalist: 'Violence Is the Price of Freedom.' Statistics: 'Uh, No.'

The world knows these names, even if the boss of the Russian Reuters has forgotten them. Indeed, a whole database had to be created to track the killings of journalists; Russia is of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters.

A just-published study by international risk consultant Maplecroft of 196 countries found that a truly shocking 186 of them were less risky to do business in than Russia. You read that right: Russia is the 10th most dangerous place to do business on this planet. Maplecroft concluded:

Russia’s increased risk profile reflects both the heightened activity of militant Islamist separatists in the Northern Caucasus and their ambition to strike targets elsewhere in the country. Russia has suffered a number of devastating terrorist attacks during 2010, including the March 2010 Moscow Metro bombing, which killed 40 people. Such attacks have raised Russia’s risk profile in the Terrorism Risk Index and Conflict and Political Violence Index. The country’s poor performance is compounded by its "extreme risk" ratings for its business environment, corporate governance and the endemic nature of corruption, which is prevalent throughout all tiers of government.

Russia is rife with domestic terrorism, its entire Caucasus region on the verge of chaos.

Russia is the world’s most corrupt major economy according to Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index. In TI’s most recent survey, Russia fell to the 154th spot among 178 countries, placing it alongside Tajikistan and Kenya.

But facts like these just don’t matter in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Just as in Soviet times, Russia bigwigs feel themselves free to say anything, create any extent of alternate reality, because there is no opposition force powerful enough even to criticize them, much less to unseat them. Like the infamous emperor with his “new clothes,” Russia’s rulers will go on deluding themselves until, once again, their dishonesty and stupidity brings their nation to collapse.

Sadly, both the president of the United States and his press secretary are ignorant buffoons where Russia is concerned, and neither would be capable of pointing out any of these facts to an ape like Sitov. Gibbs’s stammering, ham-handed attempt to defend his country from Sitov’s attack was just a reflection of the fact that his boss is doing all he can to facilitate the rise of a neo-Soviet state in Russia, in the hopes of scoring cheap political points he can use during his bid for reelection.

And that, these days, is all too sadly a very American problem.