Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blackberries soon to be available in the CCCP; Felix Would Be Proud

Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:35 PM GMT147

In October, MTS launched the BlackBerry in Ukraine, first among the twelve former Soviet Union states. In Russia, corporate clients are able to use the BlackBerry devices with foreign SIM-cards via roaming.

Apart from Russia and Ukraine, MTS, controlled by services conglomerate Sistema (SSAq.L: Quote, Profile, Research), operates in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Belarus.

Vimpelcom, owned by Russian Alfa Group and Norway's Telenor (TEL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research), services clients in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Georgia.

A Vimpelcom spokeswoman said the company had been cleared to ship 1,050 of the 8700 model, versions of which RIM (RIMM.O: Quote, Profile, Research) has been selling for several years.

MTS spokeswoman said the company had been allowed to ship around 1,000 phones. Shamolin said MTS would sell in Russia all BlackBerry models available on the market.

The companies will be able to start shipping the handsets after they are certified by Russian regulators.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Anastasia Teterevleva; writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by David Cowell)

I love a number of things about this story. First, that there could be a company called Vimplecom. (Try pronouncing that in the style of Dr. Evil.) Second, Blackberries -- surely a device that no self-respecting kleptocrat could be seen without -- have so far been unavailable for 'legal' sale in the CCCP, I mean, Russia. Why? Because the KGB, I mean, the FAS, were unable to eavesdrop on Blackberry to Blackberry traffic (listening in on Blackberry to something other than a Blackberry was never a problem.) Third, that Putin no longer feeling uncomfortable at the prospect of an email exchange that he could not be a party to (did the Lizard or the Basilisk turn over the codes or did FAS crack the network themselves, I am betting the former) finally allowed his subjects the opportunity to thumb their mistresses, so to speak, during important meetings. And lastly, that the Ochrana, perhaps the model for all future intelligence agencies, the author of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which began under Peter the Great is still very much in beezness. Russia may change its name, its spots, form of government, leader, and choice of motor car, but it will always remain Russia. I would almost like to say that there is something comfortable in that notion, but for the tragic fact that most Russians (and have no choice in the matter) have no where to go.

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