Yes, it’s a fact. Yes, we’re fining you for posting it.

From the You Could Not Make This Up department, as reported by the Register:

The Russian Supreme Court has upheld a conviction against a blogger who correctly noted that the Soviet Union jointly invaded Poland with the Nazi government in 1939.

The truly bizarre decision follows the conviction of 37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin earlier this year for posting “knowingly false information,” under a new law that is supposed to prevent the glorification of Nazism, but which critics say is being used to rewrite Russian history and quash critics of Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

Luzgin was fined 200,000 roubles ($3,000) for correctly stating that the Soviet Union had collaborated with the Nazis to invade Poland in 1939.

This is what Luzgin wrote:

“The communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off the Second World War. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated, yet for some reason they blame Bandera, who was in a German concentration camp, for declaring Ukrainian independence.”

Yes, it’s all factually correct. Yes, they fined him for it.

Despite the collaboration being an historical fact, the Supreme Court decided that Luzgin’s post constituted a “public denial of the Nuremberg Trials” and provided “false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of the Second World War.”

A report of the trial by an organization monitoring human rights in Ukraine noted that history professor Alexander Vertinsky acted for the prosecution and argued that the post “did not correspond with the position accepted at international level.”

I am so glad Alexander Vertinsky never taught me history! Do you think the Putin regime remains nervous about the history of Russian-Nazi co-operation? Or is it more significant that they have Ukraine firmly in their sights?

Truly Orwellian.

Check out the rest of the report here.

Hurting Russia

I do not know if this is accurate or practical, but it is intriguing:

Russia is invading Ukraine right now, that much is fact. The United States doesn’t really like that, but there’s not much it can do short of starting a costly war. One idea that could actually work to hurt Russia does have an unintended side effect, though – it can make your drive way, way cheaper.

So far, President Obama has promised unspecified “costs” if Russia doesn’t back down from what amounts to basically an opportunist grab, but short of actually using an Ohio-class submarine for its intended purpose, there haven’t been many ideas that have been taken seriously. Boycott Russian natural gas? Most of Europe is still dependent on it. Ban the sale of Ladas? Most people won’t really care.

But one idea, which was first floated by economist Philip LeVerger and spotted by Steve LeVine over at Quartz, is absolutely palm-rubbingly genius. Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on sales of oil, and if you could push the price down, you can inflict some pretty significant economic damage.

But if only there was some way to do it. Maybe involving vast storage tanks in Texas and Louisiana? Take it away, Steve:

The tool is the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the 700-million-barrel underground cache of crude oil waiting in Texas and Louisiana for a rainy day. In an overnight note to clients, Verleger argues that if the US were to ship just 500,000 barrels a day of oil onto the market, it would drive down prices by about $10 a barrel and cost Russia about $40 billion in annual sales.

[Thanks to Mike R for the tip.]