CounterPropaganda · Information Warfare · Russia

Russian Protests / Is Belarus The Next Invasion Target? – Update 4 April 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Some excellent forensics on the Russian subway attack and many have speculated or argued a false flag operation (the template is the Kiev grenade attack, where the perpetrator’s handler role-played an anti-Russian activist). Whether it is bona fide terrorism, either freelance or organized, or false flag, the regime clearly leveraging it for best propaganda effect. NB Joel’s commentary on the Sputnik propaganda play – this is truly Goebbelsian cynicism by Russia’s propagandists.

Multiple reports on Russia’s internal meltdown, the church, trucker and Chechnya reports especially interesting.

In Belarus, reports claim Putin and Lukashenko made up and all sins are forgiven. What was actually discussed and agreed is less clear. Internal crackdown continues.


Disgusting: Sputnik Uses Bombing For Propaganda – To Inform is to Influence

In all my years I have never seen anything so disgusting or vile as this article by Sputnik. Sputnik uses grief, sympathy, empathy, and friendliness as leverage to take advantage of the situation and attempts to shame other countries for not showing what they consider an adequate show of sympathy and support. After years of attacking the West in the press, participating in atrocities, invading other countries, illegally annexing parts of other countries, cheating at sports, faking events, assassinating Putin critics – the list goes on for pages – Sputnik is attempting to SHAME other countries for not showing Russia enough sympathy? The world grieves for Russians killed in a probable terrorist attack yesterday in St. Petersburg, Russia. The mainstream media covered the story in depth, citing the numbers of Russians killed and injured, Russian President Putin’s laying of flowers at the scene to memorialize those maimed, and the the world waited with baited breath as one suspect was shown and dismissed. Then a suspect was named, pictured, and described, a 22 year old.

bne IntelliNews – STOLYPIN: Terrorism back at the top of Moscow’s agenda

By Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations Prague April 3, 2017 An explosion on a St Petersburg metro kills 10 people, injures dozens more. A second, larger bomb is disarmed. Despite the encouragingly quick and candid coverage on Russian TV – something of a contrast with past practice – inevitably in the first hours and in the absence of adequate hard information, people fall back on their default assumptions: the start of a campaign of jihadist attacks? (maybe); terrorism by Alexei Navalny’s supporters? (no); false flag attacks by the Russian state as a pretext for attacks on Ukraine? (likewise unsubstantiated). Beyond whodunit, though, the real question is what next? We know what to expect on day one: a sternly paternal statement from President Vladimir Putin; a massive investigation by the security agencies; more bag checks, dogs, and men in uniform in the metro and railway stations (to comfort worried civilians rather than because they are likely to have much real security impact); pointlessly belligerent fulminations in the Duma; triumphalist claims from jihadists. What really matters is what follows. First of all, was this a single incident or the beginning of something? Interestingly, this was not a suicide attack, which has been the hallmark of previous atrocities linked with the North Caucasus. It certainly does not rule out jihadism by any means, but does at least raise the possibility that it could be some unhinged individual or other force. Nonetheless, the odds are that the jihadist claims are accurate, and this was a product of the festering conflicts in the North Caucasus and the newer transnational challenges of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS). The latter is a particular concern, given that of the estimated 4,000-5,000 Russian citizens fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq, a growing number are trickling home as their prospects of victory in the Middle East dwindle.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Will Petersburg Terrorist Act Stabilize or Destabilize Russia?

Paul Goble Staunton, April 4 – Just as he has in the past, Vladimir Putin is counting on being able to exploit the latest horrific terrorist attack in Russia to boost his authority, to tighten the screws on Russian society, and to try to convince Western leaders that they should overlook his actions in Ukraine in the name of fighting international terrorism. But the big question now and in the coming days is whether he will succeed in these efforts or whether the precedents from his own past will combine with the fact that this is the first major terrorist attack in central Russia in seven years and have exactly the opposite effect, undermining Putin’s power by raising more questions and thus contributing to destabilization. Many commentators yesterday and today are arguing that the Petersburg metro attack which has already killed 11 will generate support for more repressive measures in the name of public safety, attitudes that Putin’s police state can be counted on to encourage and then exploit as in the past (rufabula.com/author/azimandis/1560). Others are saying that the terrorist attack and the likely response to it effectively “annuls” the impact of the March 26 anti-corruption marches and should end all talk about the weakness of the regime and the possibility that Russia has entered into a new revolutionary situation (ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2017/04/3-2017.html annulled march 26). And still a third group is stressing that the terrorist action in St. Petersburg means that the international community must come together, as Putin has repeatedly urged, to fight the common enemy of international terrorism and that this fight is so important that they should ignore all other issues (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/04042017-terakt-v-sankt-peterburge/). There can be little doubt these themes will have an impact, that Putin will gain support at home for repression in the name of fighting terrorism, and that he will win the backing of at least some Western leaders for raising counter-terrorism to the first place in the world’s agenda, all of which will boost his authority and carry with them the promise of stabilization in Russia. But there are three reasons for thinking that the Petersburg terrorist act may have exactly the opposite effect at least among a sizeable number of Russians. First of all, the timing of this action is already leading some to ask whether Putin organized it as he did the 1999 apartment bombings (rusmonitor.com/napominaet-sobytiya-v-moskve-nachala-carstva-reakciya-ehkspertnogo-soobshhestva-na-terakt-v-piterskom-metro.html and ixtc.org/2017/04/slava-rabinovich-putin-vse-taki-razbombit-voronezh/#more-14086). The coincidence of a terrorist action occuring in Russia at precisely the time when Putin can best make use of it is leading some regime critics to suggest that the Kremlin must have known in advance or even helped to organize the action as horrific as the implications of that are (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=58E26DD5B4DEC and rusmonitor.com/avraam-shmulevich-pochti-navernyaka-90-veroyatnosti-terakt-v-metro-ehto-delo-ruk-vlastejj.html). In short, Putin’s past actions may work against him in this case even if it should prove to be true that neither he nor his siloviki had anything to do with yesterday’s bombing. In the flood of alternative explanations, at least some will believe that he is to blame now because he is to blame for earlier and similar crimes that worked to his benefit. Second, as some commentators are pointing out, this is the first such terrorist act in central Russia since 2010. Putin has promoted himself as someone who guarantees stability. But there are now two indications that he hasn’t succeeded: the March 26 demos and a major terrorist incident (versia.ru/teraktov-podobnyx-piterskim-v-rossii-ne-bylo-s-2010-goda). And third, the current problems Russians are facing means that in at least some cases they are evaluating terrorist actions differently than they did when the situation was better, with one writer says that now there is no economic stability and security but “only a frightened tyrant” (rusmonitor.com/olga-kurnosova-o-teraktakh-v-pitere-u-nas-net-ni-ehkonomicheskojj-stabilnosti-ni-bezopasnosti-a-est-tolko-ispugannyjj-tiran.html). Of course, it would be a mistake to see this as some kind of final “either-or” situation. Greater stability achieved by the Putin model could ultimately lead to greater instability given the changes in popular attitudes, and greater instability as a result of the terrorist act could become the occasion for the imposition of that model of stability once again. But each round of such events is different than the last not only because both sides have suspicions about the other on the basis of what they know concerning the past but also because each sees every new event as raising the stakes and thus making it more, not less likely that each will harden its position toward the other.

The Daily Vertical: So What Happens Now? (Transcript)

So terror has again struck Russia. It struck in Vladimir Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg, which, until now, had been immune from the attacks that have plagued Moscow and other cities. And it struck while Putin was in town, holding talks with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical At least 14 people are dead, dozens are injured, and a city of 5 million people is traumatized. And our thoughts go out to the victims, to their families, and to the city of St. Petersburg. So what happens now? Will Putin’s Kremlin honor the victims by conducting a thorough and transparent investigation? Or will it exploit this tragedy for its own political advantage, as it did following the Nord-Ost theater siege in 2002 and the Beslan massacre in 2004? Will it use yesterday’s attack to stoke fear, encourage intolerance, and squash dissent, as the ultranationalist Aleksandr Prokhanov suggested on state television? We’ll see soon enough, and history doesn’t provide much cause for optimism. But in many ways, yesterday’s tragedy in St. Petersburg also brought out the very best in ordinary Russians. They assisted the injured and the frail in the chaos immediately following the blast. With the city’s public transportation paralyzed, taxi drivers offered free rides and private drivers mobilized on social media to get stranded commuters near the blast area home safely. It was a civic outpouring that was inspiring to watch. And Putin’s Kremlin would do very well to take a cue from its own people.

The Morning Vertical, April 4, 2017

ON MY MIND It is tempting to suggest, as many have on social media, that yesterday’s attack in St. Petersburg is convenient for Vladimir Putin. It’s tempting to suggest that it will allow the Kremlin to change the conversation and shift the focus of public discourse away from protests against official corruption. It’s tempting to expect the Kremlin to use yesterday’s tragedy to further stifle dissent. It’s tempting because the Kremlin has done this in the past (see Mikhail Tishchenko’s piece featured below) and, judging by some comments on Russian state television yesterday (most notably, remarks on Channel One by Aleksandr Prokhanov), it appears to be considering doing so again. It’s tempting, but this time it might not be the case. Because as Vedomosti notes in an editorial featured below, attacks like yesterday’s pierce the Kremlin’s carefully crafted aura of omnipotence and omnipresence. Yesterday’s attacks may not turn out to be as convenient for the Kremlin as many of the conspiracy theorists are suggesting.

Russian Investigators Say Suspected Bomber’s Remains Found, Identified

Russian investigators say they suspect the bomb that killed 14 people on a St. Petersburg subway train was set off by a man whose remains were found at the scene of the blast. The federa…

Live Blog: Deadly St. Petersburg Subway Blast

Follow all of the latest developments as they happen.

Bomb in St. Petersburg subway: updates – World news | UNIAN

At least ten people were killed on Monday in an explosion that rocked St.Petersburg subway, according to the Russian media. A snapshot from a CCTV camera footage of a presumed suspect who reportedly left a bomb in a subway car was published by Ren.tv. News 03 April from UNIAN.

St. Petersburg Subway Bomb Suspect ID’d as Kyrgyz Man: Reports – NBC News

A suicide bomber was behind the grisly attack on the St. Petersburg subway, Russian authorities said Tuesday as the death toll rose to 14.

Russian media release photo of suspect in St. Petersburg metro attack. PHOTOS

03.04.17 20:32 – Russian media release photo of suspect in St. Petersburg metro attack. PHOTOS Surveillance cameras caught a bearded man, wearing a long black top and hat. View photo news.

No Ukrainians among victims of St. Petersburg metro blast – Ukraine MFA

There are no Ukrainians among the victims killed or injured by an explosion on a metro train in Russia's St. Petersburg, according to the consular service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. News 04 April from UNIAN.

A Bomb Hits Russia’s St. Petersburg Metro. Conspiracy Theories Follow. – The Daily Beast

The horror of a subway bombing that has killed at least nine is evoking shock—and cynicism.

How Russia Became the Jihadists’ No. 1 Target – POLITICO Magazine

Monday’s bombing in St. Petersburg might be only the beginning of a new terrorist wave.

Attacks on Russia Will Only Increase – The Atlantic

Its entanglements across the Middle East will come with a deadly price.

Russia has many enemies – but its actions in Syria may have contributed to events in St Petersburg | The Independent

The Russian government was careful in the hours after the murderous attack on St Petersburg’s underground system. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the “cause was being ascertained” while Andrei Przhezdomsky, the head of the country’s anti-terrorist committee, stated it was an “an unidentified explosive device”. The prosecutor-general added later that it “was a terrorist act”.

Russian investigators confirm subway bombing was a suicide attack – ABC News

Russian investigators confirm subway bombing was a suicide attack

Russia attack: St. Petersburg blast a ‘suicide bombing’ – CNN.com

The St. Petersburg metro attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister has said.

Russia Bomber Is Identified, Officials Say, as Death Toll Rises – The New York Times

The suspect, Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, 22, was described as a native of Kyrgyzstan with Russian citizenship.

Radical Islamist Suspected in Russia Blast That Killed 14 – Bloomberg

Russian investigators suspect a radical Islamist immigrant from Kyrgyzstan detonated the explosive in a St. Petersburg subway car Monday, killing 14 in the worst terrorist attack in a major Russian city in years, Interfax reported.

After Russia subway blasts, will US defend values? – The Boston Globe

Vladimir Putin and his regime should not use the carnage in St. Petersburg as an excuse to crack down on dissent bubbling up in the streets.

Russia plagued by Islamic terror attacks | Fox News

The apparent terror attack on a St. Petersburg subway train Monday morning may just be the latest in a string of deadly Islamist attacks inside Russia.

A Timeline of Terrorism in Russia under President Vladimir Putin

Monday’s bombing in St. Petersburg followed a long history of militant attacks on Russia under President Vladimir Putin.

Putin Is Up, But Russians Are Feeling Down – Bloomberg View

Even with the economy on the mend, protesters have returned to the streets.

Russian protests will keep haunting Putin – Chicago Tribune

Russian President Putin will likely create a major international adventure to keep Russians from protesting corruption in the country.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Long-Haul Truckers’ Strike May Be Most Important Action Yet, Klyamkin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – The ongoing long-haul truck drivers’ strike is fundamentally different in its import from the March 26 demonstrations, Igor Klyamkin says. The first was an ethical protest but the second is “a solid economic protest of a vitally important professional group against pressure on its interests that has risen to an expression of political distrust.” The longtime Moscow analyst and commentator points out that this strike, in contrast to the ones of 2015, “is well organized,” has thrown up new structures, and continues to spread “throughout the country.” What is most important, he stresses is “the powers that be still don’t know how to react” (facebook.com/igor.klymakin/posts/1271326472987811). That is because, Klyamkin suggests, that the authorities are encountering a kind of self-organization from below and that “strikes for economic goals that in the course of which acquire a political coloration” is something that for Russia is “nothing new” and hardly reassuring to the Kremlin today. “It is sufficient to recall the general strike of 1905 which put before the tsar the choice between a dictatorship and concessions.” That tradition is very much alive, the analyst says, while “there is no experience in Russia with long-term political protest of the ‘Maidan’ type,” despite the hopes of some in the opposition. Klyamkin concludes by noting that he is not prepared to offer historical analogies to what is happening now. Clearly, he says, Russia is not where it was in 1905 or where it was at the end” of Soviet times. But he says he is quite prepared to insist that “today the situation is not what it was a week ago,” because of the truckers more than because of the protesters. Five other developments and commentaries offered about this in the last two days provide additional evidence for Klyamkin’s conclusion

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Brexit, Trump and Navalny Demos Reflect Declining Trust in Institutions and Failure of Authorities to Communicate, Minchenko Report Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – The vote for Brexit, the victory of Donald Trump, and the success of the Navalny demonstrations are “the result of one and the same mistakes of the authorities intheir communications with the population” and “a fall-off in trust in political institutions” as well as “the growth of opposition movements ‘without a positive agenda,’ Minchenko Consulting says In a 13-page report released yesterday (minchenko.ru/analitika/analitika_68.html) summarized by RBC today (rbc.ru/politics/03/04/2017/58de4d6d9a7947f6ac645050), the Moscow analytic center says that as a result of this combination, there are real risks that the liberal-democratic and left-wing protests could come together as a serious force. That coming together has not yet happened and may never happen, especially since Aleksey Navalny has some serious political baggage, but the authorities have made things worse for themselves by failing to demonstrate discipline in analyzing and responding in public to events like the March 26 protests. Russian commentators on the report say “the main guarantor” of the stability of the Putin regime is the high ratings of the Kremlin leader, but there are three reasons why that may not be as eternal as many think: the impact of the Crimean Anschluss is declining, economic problems are mounting, and two problems raised by the massive quality of the protests themselves. On the one hand, they continue, many Russians thought and had been encouraged to think by Putin’s team that the era of demonstrations has passed; and on the other, there is a growing fear among young people that “they not only were born under Putin but will die under Putin as well.” All this means, the Minchenko experts say, that it is critically important for the Putin team to come up with attractive content for his 2018 election campaign, something they imply that group has so far failed to do and to ensure that the messages of the authorities are thoughtful and coordinated rather than in conflict.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Nearly a Third of Russian Orthodox Don’t Believe in God, Mitrokhin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 4 – As many as 85 percent of Russia’s residents identify as Orthodox Christians but almost none of them go to church and approximately a third are quite prepared to say that they don’t believe in God, a pattern that raises serious questions as to just how many Orthodox Christians there are in Russia, Nikolay Mitrokhin says. The Bremen-based Russian specialist on religious life in Russia points out that the Moscow Patriarchate doesn’t keep track of the numbers but that independent investigations show only 0.5 to 2 percent of Russians attend church regularly and that only eight percent do so from time to time (takiedela.ru/2017/04/takaya-rossiya-cerkov/). Sociologists have three basic methods for addressing these questions, the scholar says. The first involves polls conducted by various research outlets, but these have cut back in the number of times they ask about belief since 2010, when Patriarch Kirill was elected, because otherwise they would have shown a decline in attachment to Orthodoxy, Mitrokhin says. These figures are problematic and can be explained “in various ways,” the researcher says. According to some, Orthodoxy has become an ethnic rather than a religious identification. According to others, many Russians don’t tell pollsters the truth but only what they think the powers that be want to hear. But it is obvious that the high percentages these outlets do report as far as identification with Orthodoxy is concerned have nothing to do with reality. Indeed, the best of these outlets, like the Levada Center, admit as much when they concede that 30 percent of those who say they are Orthodox also say they don’t believe in God. The second means scholars have for calculating Orthodox numbers are surveys concerning how often people go to church, but these figures too are problematic not only because in most cases, they are so low as to be within the poll’s margin of error but also because they rely on self-reporting and count alike those who attend services versus those who just visit churches. And the third is to make use of interior ministry reports on the number of Russians who attend services at Christmas and Easter. The totals are also small – 1.4 to 2.0 percent of the population – and unreliable as well because the interior ministry counts visits to cemeteries as visits to churches even though the Patriarchate views cemetery visits as non-religious. There has not been up to now “a single massive all-national investigation” on church attendance, Mitrokhin says. But some studies have been done in regions. They show that the share of Russians who attend church at least once monthly is only 10-30 percent of those who attend Christmas or Eastern services. What that means, he says, is that the core number of church attendees “in major cities and typical regions of Russia” is “approximately 0.5 percent of the population.” And even in “hyper-Orthodox” places like Kostroma and Vladimir oblasts, the share is no more than twice that – or about one percent of the population. Mitrokhin says there is another reason to be suspicious about statistics concerning church attendance in Russia: Many Russians go to church not for services but to light a candle, request prayers, pray before an icon, or buy religious books or kulich. But these visitors are almost always counted as if they were church attendees, thus overstating the actual number. Such visitors are not much respected by the clergy or by those who regularly attend, but they are now “a relatively massive phenomenon. [And] together with parishioners, they form approximately two to four percent of the population of the Russian Federation which appears in church at least once a month and sometimes more often,” the scholar says. Some priests are themselves becoming more honest about the share of real attendees, he continues. In the words of one, most baptized Orthodox “are people entirely focused on earthly achievement, infected by superstitions and unhealthy eschatological attitudes, and subject to pagan and neo-pagan tendencies.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Things that Brought Down the USSR Again in Evidence in Russia, Roslyakov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – Many Russians are still discussing what led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow blogger Aleksandr Roslyakov says; but all too often they fail to see that the three things that led to its collapse are again in evidence in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin. First of all, he says, there was and is again a hunger for goods. “At the end of the 1980s, there was nothing to buy; now, there is nothing to buy it with.” That may be an important distinction for statisticians and officials, “but for the consumer, the difference is equal to zero” (publizist.ru/blogs/6/17941/-). As at the end of Soviet times, Rusisans are again saying that “our children should live better than we do” and are increasingly uncertain that that will be possible. Second, there is again “the total party lying, in which no one believed at the end of the 1980s and which no one believes now, neither those who do the lying nor those to whom they lie.” That is especially true of young people then and now. In the 1980s, students “were forced to write essays on Brezhnev’s ‘Little Land’ … now they are given potted lessons on patriotism and Orthodoxy … about Putin’s ‘Big Land.’” And that leads, the blogger says, to “the complete spiritual suspicion to the policy of ‘the party and government,’ to ‘the holy spirit’ and to ‘the institutions of power.’” And third, now as at the end of the Soviet period, there is “a monstrous triumph of the ruling class, which not able to run the country and not wanting to take responsibility for anything gives itself ever more paradisiacal goods.” Then, it was the nomnklatura; now, it is the oligarchs and Putin’s friends. “When at the end of the 1980s,” these things reached a critical pressure, Roslyakov says, the control system simply collapsed. Now, the Putin regime imagines that it has come up with a stronger control system; but there are good reasons for doubt about that. The Russian Guard Putin has set up is hardly “original.” It is just a remake of “the praetorian guard of the Roman Empire,” something that will save the rulers until things get too bad for the population and then it too will turn on its quondam masters unless unexpectedly they learn their lessons and change. Unfortunately for them and perhaps for the country, they don’t appear to be doing that; and as a result, Roslyakov concludes, “we are very rapidly crossing” the Rubicon in which all that the powers have done to protect themselves won’t save them.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Chechnya May Be a Bigger Threat to Russia Now than It Was in the 1990s, Moscow Paper Suggests

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – In the 1990s, Chechnya sought independence from Moscow, and Vladimir Putin has made the suppression of that regional insurgency a centerpiece of his claims for public support. But now, in 2017, Nezavisimaya gazeta suggests, that North Caucasus republic may be on its way to becoming a greater threat than it was to Russia as a whole. To put it more succinctly than the Moscow paper does, Chechnya’s drive for independence in the 1990s and 2000s threatened the territorial integrity of the country in one small part of it. Chechnya’s independent actions now call into question the arrangements within and among all of Russia’s component parts as well as its centralized political system. In a lead article today entitled “Will Our Federation Withstand Chechen Customs?” the editors say that Grozny’s decision to permit pupils to wear the hijab “poses serious questions about the federal arrangement of Russia” because the Chechens have essentially gone their own way without regard to Moscow (ng.ru/editorial/2017-04-03/2_6964_red.html). The Kremlin has played down these implications, the editors say, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggesting that Putin has not taken a position on this conflict between the actions of a republic government and the decisions of the all-Russian duma and federal courts – despite the fact that Putin earlier had declared that the hijab was a religious and not a national custom. Grozny’s position is exactly the opposite, the paper continues. “Formally, the decision of the Chechen parliamentarians corresponds to the constitutional principle of federalism. In this, the Chechen elite is right,” and in many countries decisions on such matters are made below the federal level. But if one goes “beyond this limit,” Nezavisimaya gazeta says, “there is a threat to the unity of the state.” This is not the first time the Chechen Republic “has demonstrated a special attitude toward the norms of public morality.” In December 2016, for example, Grozny closed all alcohol stores, and over the last three years, Ramzan Kadyrov has unilaterally banned fortune tellers and the like. “All this allows one to speak about the special status of Chechnya, when the principle of federalism is realized only toward selected subjects,” the editors continue. If other federal subjects were to try to assert the same right, Moscow would clearly have a different response – and that difference in itself represents a danger to the country. No one should imagine that this is just about Muslim republics. “In Russia, there are three enormous Buddhist republics and Buddhist districts in mixed oblasts, [and] there are registered extra-territorial national cultural autonomies” for them elsewhere as well. And then is a more profound question: should the federal rights that have been given to Chechnya be extended only to non-Russian republics or should they apply to predominantly ethnic Russian oblasts and krays as well. To ask that question is to raise an issue that challenges the existing system. Many talk about how unique Chechnya is, the editors conclude, but “reacting to the challenges of federalism by necessity rather than by rules, the state guarantees its effective functioning only if it has a strong leader. If Russia loses a Yezhov-type administration, his system of personal administration will soon enter a fatal crisis.”


Belarus’ measured repressions

In an attempt to put pressure on the Kremlin to be more generous and accommodating with Belarus, last December Lukashenka ignored the Russia-backed Collective Security Treaty Organization and Eurasian Economic Union summits that took place in St. Petersburg. This demonstrative move did not, however, bear the fruits. Expecting to meet Putin in February, Lukashenka spent several days in Sochi, but by the Russian president ignored his presence. It remains to be seen what the result of today’s meeting between Putin and Lukashenko will be. The Kremlin keeps asking Belarus to pay the debt on its gas bill, which now exceeds 700 million dollars. In response to the lack of progress, Russia started to cut duty-free oil supplies to Belarus in mid-2016. Exports of refined oil products to the EU and Ukraine have crucial significance for the Belarusian economy, and the Kremlin’s decision has led to big losses. Thereby, amid continuing tensions with Russia, Lukashenka does it best in measuring an optimal level of repressions, high enough to discourage Belarusians from continuing protests and low enough for the EU to continue a gradual rapprochement with Minsk.

Crackdown, repressions prompt wave of solidarity in Belarusian society -Euromaidan Press |

An international crowdfuding campaign is raising funds to pay for the fines of arrested and detained activists. After the month of protests against the “Social parasites tax” and the Belarusian regime’s crackdown on the Freedom Day rally in Minsk on 25 March 2017, the authorities have succeeded in halting street protests, mobilizing the power machine, and bringing a wedge between the opposition’s new human rights agenda resulting from the crackdown and the popular economic demands.

Lukashenka Says He Hopes Accord With Russia Can ‘Preserve The Stability’

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says he hopes the settlement of an energy dispute with Russia can ease tensions with Moscow and&nbsp;bring stability to his own country, which has been hi…

Russia and Belarus heal ties in shadow of metro bombing | Reuters

The presidents of Russia and Belarus said on Monday they had resolved all disputes over energy, signaling a rapprochement at a time when both leaders are grappling with street protests and the threat of new Western sanctions hangs over Minsk.

Look Of Belarusian Officials’ Faces While Listening To Lukashenka And Putin – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

It seems that the oil and gas dispute has been resolved, but there is no joy.Yesterday, there was held a meeting between Lukashenka and Putin in St. Petersburg, after which the Russian president announced about the settlement of all “oil and gas” disputes with the Belarusian side, Salidarnasts writes. Moreover, Russia is ready to return to the previous volumes of oil supplies, perhaps starting with this month already. For that to happen, it is necessary to return about $ 700 million of debt for gas. It would be high time for the members of the Belarusian delegation to rejoice, but there was no joy on the top officials’ faces. Rather, on the contrary.

Putin Declares Resolution of “Points at Issue” With Lukashenka, RIA Novosti Informs – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The talks between the rulers of Russia and Belarus continue.

Linkevičius: We Must React Adequately And Resolutely To Situation In Belarus – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

This morning, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius arrived to the meeting of the Council of the European Union in Luxembourg and, among other things, spoke about the situation in Belarus, Radio Svaboda reports. “We must be consistent. When we canceled the sanctions, that was due to the fact that the Belarusian authorities freed political prisoners. If they got on with this issue, if political prisoners appeared again, then, of course, we would react adequately and resolutely to the situation by applying pressure, but leaving space for the dialogue. So this two-pronged approach remains very important, but we can’t turn a blind eye to what is happening,” – the Lithuanian Foreign Minister said. On the eve of Freedom Day, Linas Linkevičius said that Lithuania was closely monitoring the arrests in Belarus and called on the Belarusian authorities to adhere to international obligations, respect human rights, and adhere to the principles of the rule of law, as the relations of Minsk with the European Union would depend on that: “We hope that we will not return to the situation, when there were political prisoners in Belarus,” – the Lithuanian Foreign Minister said on March 21. We remind that on March 25, the authorities brought thousands of riot policemen against peaceful demonstrators in Minsk.

Pavel Sevyarynets: Today’s Regime Is Even Afraid of the Word “Freedom” – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Illegal, illegitimate authority fears of a peaceful man who comes out with flowers to celebrate the Freedom Day.

Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk: We Need to Take New Actions and Require the EU to Impose Sanctions on the Dictator – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Europe should be constantly reminded of what a bastard Belarusian regime they are dealing with.

Mikalai Charnavus: I’ll Sleep Out, But I’ll Get To March In Minsk On May 1 – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

All the Baranavichy youth share the protest sentiment.

Putin Promised Assistance to Lukashenka on the International Arena – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Lukashenka asked the President of Russia to support him in his contacts with leaders of the world powers.

Mikalai Statkevich’s Associate Released From KGB Jail – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

In the evening of April 3, it became known that Siarhei Kulinich had been released.

Blogger Maksim Filippovich Is To Be Tried For Fourth Time – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

This time the administrative case is related to his participation in the March in Pinsk on March 11.

Another Person Detained With Regard To White Legion Case – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Last night, the KGB detained the manager of one of the Minsk firms.

Release Of Two More Suspects In ‘White Legion’ Case Reported – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

21 people remain in the list of arrestees.

95% Belarusians Stand For Native Language On Packaging Of Goods – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The Biaroza cheese-making factory decided to coordinate with the customers whether there was a need for theBelarusian language of the goods packaging.

Russia’s Federal Service For Veterinary And Phytosanitary Surveillance To Inspect Belarusian Enterprises – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The list of the soon-to-be-inspected enterprises is being formed.

Photofact: Partial Janitor’s Salary Offered To Scientists in Belarus – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

A screenshot from the All-Republican Bank of Vacancies is shared on social networks.According to the announcement saved by network users, the state offers a salary equal to 0.75 of the janitor’s rate to a scientific employee, Salidarnasts writes.

 

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