Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 4 May 2017 v2


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Dr Shevtsova’s essay on Putin’s self-destruction is the best of today’s numerous reports on Russia – as noted previously, his actions are accelerating the process of social breakdown he has staved off for three years by invading other countries. Sharkov on polling showing how Putin has crashed to 48% of people who would vote for him. Kalb on the role of the Russian NatGuard in defeating a popular uprising. Goble digests showing half of Russians believe themselves poor now, the Internet on track to displace TV in Russia as main news source, trucker strike continues, Whitmore on Russia’s ever-changing electoral laws, much on persecution of opposition, 1.5 million Russians now infected with HIV (over 1% of population) pushing it into Third World category. All the trend indicators of an internal meltdown are gathering momentum. In Belarus, Lukashenko mocked for promoting ties with China.

IO/IW/Cyber – zombification commentary, and especially new Google Docs phishing scam of interest. Russian propagandists lauding Harpoon-ski installation on PAK-FA.

In Ukraine, high treason trial in absentia of former President Yanukovich commences, prosecution asking for life imprisonment. Donbass fire continues, while economic meltdown of occupied areas now said to be inevitable.

DPRK: earlier this week the CCP’s mouthpiece, the Global Times, said that the DPRK is jeopardizing the mutual defense pact with the PRC by conducting its nuke weapons program. DPRK responds with a vicious attack, talking about “China stomping on ‘red line’ in relations”, ““reckless remarks” on the North’s nuclear program are testing its patience and could trigger unspecified “grave” consequences”, and that the DPRK nuke weapons program would continue. If the translations are accurate, the DPRK is escalating its position literally by slapping the CCP Central Committee in the face, politically, in making threats against China. Evidently, Kim is banking on China folding once sanctions or an embargo cause significant famine and refugee flux out of the DPRK – in the end, as long as Kim can keep his military and security forces loyal, he does not need to care about the rest of the population. The flipside of this equation is the PRC’s exposure to DPRK launched WMDs. Mostly in the West, we think of the DPRK in terms of an extant risk to the ROK and Japan, and nascent risk to CONUS. Below map shows PRC population density versus the footprint of the Rodong-1 i.e. the 1,000 – 1,500 km range SCUD derivative. With a WMD payload, the densely populated coastal arc between Beijing and Shanghai is very exposed. How many people would a VX loaded Rodong kill anywhere in this densely populated region? The notion that the General Staff in Beijing is not thinking about this is naive. Perhaps POTUS can offer to deploy THAAD batteries in Beijing and Shanghai, or put an Aegis cruiser into the Yellow Sea if the PLA leadership get cold feet. Certainly the latter would be easy to arrange and would make a great political point. Ultimately the DPRK is China’s self-inflicted wound.


French election remains the big story in the MSM.

In the US domestic debate, Rice refuses to testify to Congress, which begs the interesting question of why? Rice was unafraid of throwing the Syrians and Ukrainians under the bus, at immense cost in human lives, so why be shy with the legislators? Jim Comey testifies and evidently working very hard to convince all that he is not a candidate for an inquiry under the terms of the 1939 Hatch Act.


Russia / Russophone Reports


Tillerson Says ‘Almost No Trust’ Between U.S. And Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says there is &quot;almost no trust&quot; at present between the United States and Russia, mentioning arms-control agreements and Ukraine as areas where Mosco…

Russia, Feeling Slighted by Trump, Seeks a Reset – The New York Times

The Kremlin cannot understand why President Trump has met a string of world leaders but afforded President Putin just three measly phone calls.

Why Russia Won’t Cave to Western Demands (Op-ed)

Russia won’t agree to the West’s conditions for reconciliation — at least not in an election year

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Fearing Another 1991, Kremlin is Making That Outcome More Likely and in a Less Favorable Situation,’ Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, May 4 – In yet another manifestation of what Guillermo O’Donnell described as “the powerlessness of the all-powerful,” Lilya Shevtsova argues, Vladimir Putin and his entourage are making a repetition of the events of 1991 ever more likely precisely because of their fears that something like that could occur. Indeed, she says, the increasing “dysfunctionality” of the Putin regime is clearly evident not only to an increasing number of Russians as can be seen in their reactions to the Moscow “’renovation’” plans and the long-haul truckers’ protests against the Plato fee system but also to many within the regime itself (svoboda.org/a/28459893.html). In ever more areas, Shevtsova argues, the Putin regime has undermined itself even as it has attempted to defend itself against any change. She provides a list of 14 such self-defeating measure that the Kremlin has taken: · “The absence of legal channels of self-expression … is making street protests the single means of articulating the interests of society.” · “The transformation of elections into an imitation makes social protest the only means of renewal of the powers that be.” · “De-institutionalization, that is the transformation of all political institutes into petty simulacras, destroys the system of administration and responsibility.” · “The mantra about ‘the absence of any alternative’ to Vladimir Putin … does not allow for the replacement of the regime” in any but irregular ways. · “The transformation of individual representatives of the ruling elite … into petty personages discredits not only individual branches of power … but testifies to the weakness of the leadership” more generally. · “The inter-mixing of repressive structures and property undermines the effectiveness of the siloviki bloc as a defender both of the state and of the interests of the establishment.” · The replacement of governors and siloviki leaders in the name of increasing their loyalty to the Kremlin only “makes this loyalty fake.” · “The formation of ‘the Ramzan Kadyrov resource’ and allowing him to play by his own rules transforms the Chechen leader into an anti-systemic phenomenon.” · The use of elections to ensure continuity of rule only undermines the sense that elections have legitimated those in power. · The failure of reform efforts “confirm not only the absence of a potential for the renewal of the system” but also shows that “technocrats in Russia have become the main force supporting” the rotting regime. · “The monopoly privatization of state instruments and the budget into the hands of ‘friends’ of the president split the unity of the establishment” and makes many of its members ever less willing to sacrifice anything for Putin. · “The president, having become the guarantor of the interests of ‘a close circle’ is losing his role as an expression of all-national interests.” · By its aggressive actions abroad, the Kremlin has “given birth to a generation of those who don’t accept that and who can legitimize themselves only via the revolutionary slogan of ‘Enough!’” · The Kremlin’s effort to use foreign policy actions to compensate for domestic policy failures means that Russia is now surrounded by hostility and that “an anti-Russian consensus” has been formed abroad. Because of all this, Shevtsova says, Putin is losing his ability to play the arbiter among groups and instead has become only the expression of one against the others and that he “has become the hostage of his own ‘vertical’” rather than its directing force. Indeed, “the ‘vertical’ itself as a means of rule” has lost its value because it is beginning to devour itself. Putin thought he could get away with this because society would sit still for it because “Crimea is ours” but now he is finding that society still has “the drive” to advance its interests. How long until the next 1991 remains an open question, but that Putin is promoting exactly that outcome for his regime is no longer one.

Damien Sharkov | After The Crimean Boom, Is Putin’s Electability Slipping?

In a snap election, polls show the Russian president losing half of all Russian votes.

Marvin Kalb | Why Putin needs a praetorian guard | Brookings Institution

Putin’s popularity in Russia remains amazingly high, but there are clearly problems on the near horizon. He now evidently considers it necessary to have a Praetorian Guard.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Great ‘Achievement’ – Half of Russians Now Feel Poor

Paul Goble Staunton, May 4 – The number of Russians who consider themselves poor is now three times greater than officials say and constitutes half of the population, according to a new study by Moscow’s Higher School of Economics on ‘Factors of Absolute and Subjective Poverty in Contemporary Russia.” Rosstat acknowledges that the number of Russians in poverty has increased, Anastasiya Manuilova reports in today’s Kommersant, but the official agency continues to dramatically understate the number of Russians who feel themselves poor, the Higher School study reports (kommersant.ru/doc/3288897). At present, the Higher School scholars there report, just over half of Russians – 50.3 percent — say they feel poor. At the same time, they note that “every other objectively poor [Russian] does not consider himself poor but every third non-poor one, on the contrary, considers that he lives in poverty.” If objective measures of poverty reflect low pay and unemployed or underemployed family members, subjective ones, the scholars say largely reflect the presence of children in the family or the lack of the ability to live as one would like. Those who have low levels of education are most likely to say they are poor; women and elderly much less so. And the gap between objective and subjective poverty is especially characteristic of the young, a pattern that over time means that these differences will make it ever more difficult for the government to provide assistance in ways that will overcome poverty in the Russian Federation.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Trust and Rely on Moscow TV Less than in the Past, New Poll Shows

Paul Goble Staunton, May 3 – Russians still rely on state television more than any other media source, but they are less likely to rely on it as the only source of news especially about the opposition and foreign affairs and more likely to turn to the Internet, including blogs and social networks, for alternative information, according to a new VTsIOM poll. Over the last two years, the polling agency says, the popularity of television as the main source of news has fallen from 62 percent to 57 percent of the Russian population, while those who say they make use of the Internet for new rose from 22 to 32 percent(znak.com/2017-05-03/vciom_rossiyane_stali_menshe_verit_televizoru_novostyam_pro_oppoziciyu_i_ekonomiku). But Russians still trust central television more than other sources, and if the various media provide different stories, 46 percent of them are inclined to believe what television says. But that figure is down from 60 percent in 2013. Twenty-five percent say they would believe the Internet, but only two percent say they would be most likely to accept what newspapers say. Asked to evaluate what subjects the news they get is unbiased, 55 percent say they consider reports about natural disasters to be such and 51 percent say the same about Russia’s status in the world. But 55 percent say the media are too upbeat about the state of the economy, and 19 percent say that news about the opposition presented it as “worse than it is.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s Long-Haul Truckers Make Plans for New Labor Actions

Paul Goble Staunton, May 4 – Even as Moscow outlets suggest that the truckers’ strike has collapsed, that it was organized by American agents, and that truckers are now rushing to sign up for the Plato system, regional media report not only that the truckers are not signing up everywhere but that they are continuing to organize with two major meetings planned for tomorrow and Sunday. In trying to make the case that the long-haul truckers’ strike has collapsed and will not resume, Moscow media are suggesting that the truckers are lining up to sign on to the Plato system they had protested against. But regional reports show that while that may be true in some places, it isn’t in others (regnum.ru/news/economy/2271291.html). Such regional differences reflect the nature of the truckers’ movement and differences in the ways regional officials have responded, with some already negotiating with them on those issues the regional governments can address and others continuing to use police powers against them (eburg.mk.ru/articles/2017/05/04/demin-vstretilsya-s-dalnoboyshhikami-protestuyushhimi-protiv-platona.html). In some respects, now that Moscow officials are talking about the strike, they are becoming more hyperbolic even as they argue that the strike is dying out. One Duma member, for example, blamed American agents for the strike, a position that will do nothing to improve relations between the truckers and the powers that be (an-crimea.ru/page/news/155260). Many truckers have gone home from the parking areas where they had assembled earlier, but that likely has more to do with the May holidays than it does with any decline in their anger. Indeed, truckers are going ahead with plans for a regional congress in Sakha on Friday (runews24.ru/yakutsk/03/05/2017/95dfc86eeff4dd0cc49e5401d71e3d97) and for a protest march in Chuvashia on Sunday (pg12.ru/news/29697).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Officials Agree to Meet with Striking Long-Haul Truckers Twice in May

Paul Goble Staunton, May 3 – After ignoring the striking truck drivers in the past and rejecting calls by the strikers for talks, the Russian government has reversed itself and agreed to hold two negotiating sessions in the coming month, meeting a key demand of the truckers and giving them a real victory, according to Andrey Bazhutin of the Carriers Union. The first meeting is slated to take place on May 11 in Moscow and will include both truckers and officials of the government and transportation ministry. Bazhutin says that the future of the Plato fee system will not be on the agenda of the first session but may at the latter one in mid-May (zaks.ru/new/archive/view/167340). As a result, it is likely that ever more drivers will be going home from their parks across the Russian Federation, but the union leader stressed that they are overwhelmingly prepared to go back on strike if their demands are ignored. In short, Moscow may have bought some time but it has not yet ensured that the strike won’t resume in a few weeks. Meanwhile, as has been true since the work action began on March 28, most of the activities of the truckers took place not in Moscow but in cities and towns far from the capital. In the last 24 hours, there were important developments in Yekaterinburg, Volgograd oblast and Kursk. · In Yekaterinburg, unknown persons tried to restrict the movements of the remaining truckers – most of the 60 there on the weekend have gone home to be with their families for the May holidays – by daggering a ditch around where they were parked. But the truckers crossed it and held meetings with a local official afterwards, thus ending their media and official isolation in that city (newizv.ru/news/politics/02-05-2017/bastuyuschih-dalnoboyschikov-v-ekaterinburge-otsekli-kanavoy, ura.news/news/1052287558 and ekburg.tv/novosti/obshhestvo/2017-05-03/protestnye_dalnobojshhiki_pobedili_kanavu_i_vstretilis_s_juriem_deminym).· In Volgograd oblast, the massive activity of truck strikers contributed to and fed off broader protest action by other groups there and won the region recognition as “the most conflict-ridden region of Russia” (inter-volgograd.ru/2017/05/volgogradskaya-oblast-byla-priznana-samym-konfliktnym-regionom-rossii/).· And in Kursk, officials finally met with striking truckers although there is as yet no indication that the talks have had any positive results (censury.net/regions/bastuyushchie-dalnobojshchiki-vstretyatsya-s-kurskimi-chinovnikami.html).

The Dizzying Whimsy of Russia’s Election Laws | Intersection

Russia’s Federal State Duma is addicted to amending its election laws, a cynical way of wrong footing opposition forces and maintaining control

The Morning Vertical, May 4, 2017

ON MY MIND With a bill working its way through the State Duma to change Russia’s presidential election date to coincide with the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, it’s worth asking: how often has Russia changed its election laws? Quite often, actually. According to a piece by political scientist Julia Krivonosova (featured below), Russia has changed its presidential-election law 31 times since 2002. It has also changed its law on political parties 41 times since 2001 and amended its law on the electoral rights of Russian citizens 75 times since 2002. And the reason for all this is pretty obvious. The regime changes the rules of the game to suit their interests in each election cycle. And by constantly moving the goalposts, the Kremlin is able to keep the opposition off balance and unable to plan for the future. With some noticeable glitches, like the 2011 Duma elections, it’s worked like a charm. The game is rigged and Vladimir Putin’s regime is able to use elections as legitimization rituals and coronations. But there are signs that the tactic may be hitting the point of diminishing returns. A new poll by the Levada Center (also featured below), just 48 percent of Russians would vote for Putin’s reelection. Truckers’ protests against a road tax that benefits a Putin crony are gaining momentum. Muscovites are up in arms over plans to demolish whole apartment blocs in the name of urban renewal. And large numbers of Russians are willing to defy official bans and take to the streets in unsanctioned protests. Next year’s election will probably not be the smooth affair the Kremlin had hoped for.

Russian Court Upholds Navalny’s Latest Embezzlement Verdict

A Russian court has upheld an embezzlement verdict against opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, a politically charged ruling that will strengthen the government's case for keeping him out of nex…

Urine, Feces, And ‘Zelyonka’: Meet The Russian Radicals Using Dirty Weapons On Kremlin Critics

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and his supporters have accused a notorious Russian nationalist group of assaulting him with a green antiseptic –&nbsp;known in Russian as &quo…

In Russia, a green-colored antiseptic becomes a weapon in attacks against opposition activists and journalists – LA Times

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says he’s partially blinded in one eye after being attacked with “zelyonka,” a green-colored antiseptic. Two journalists also were doused in the liquid.

Who Is Terrorizing Russia’s Opposition and Why Is No One Being Held Responsible? – To Inform is to Influence

Russia arrogance, believing Putin and United Russia can do as they please, allows Putin to act with impudence. This attack on Putin’s only real opponent is the second on Navalny and is clearly backed by Putin – like the fatal assassination on a previous opponent, Nemtsov.   This is state-sponsored terrorism. The message is clear.…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: FSB Persecution Forces Defender of Russia’s Indigenous Peoples to Seek Asylum in the US

Paul Goble Staunton, May 4 – As a result of FSB persecution, Pavel Sulyandziga, one of the founders of the Association of the Indigenous Numerically Small Peoples of Russia and vice president of the UN working group on business and human rights, has been forced to request political asylum in the United States. Because Sulyandziga was a Yabloko candidate for the Russian Duma in 2016, the fullest account of his plight is on the Yabloko party website (yabloko.ru/publikatsii/2017/05/02). So far, most other articles about his fate have simply drawn from that source. An Udeg mathematics teacher, Sulyandiga became politically active in Gorbachev’s time and in 1987 was elected to the Soviet of Peoples Deputies and then in 1991 headed the National Council of Peoples Deputies in Krasny Yar. In the 1990s, he served as an advisor to the Primorsky kray governor on issues of the indigenous peoples of the North. In 2004, the activist formed the Batani Foundation to support and defend indigenous peoples against threats from the consequences of outside exploitation of oil, gas and other raw materials on the territory of their homelands. In 2016, Moscow named the foundation “a foreign agent,” but it did not give Sulyandiga any warning about this. He learned it from the media. Even before that Moscow action, regional officials had attacked the foundation, accusing it of “political provocations” and a desire to increase tensions between the indigenous peoples and Russians. During the 2016 elections, the media accused Sulyandiga of corruption and other crimes but provided no evidence for these charges. After the election, the authorities arrested his brother and sought to force him to testify against his brother, an indication, Sulyandiga says, that Moscow is planning a new political trial against him. The powers that be have also interviewed others and they’ve sent Sulyandiga’s son to a hot spot in the North Caucasus. “Fearing for his family,” Yabloko says, “Pavel Sulyandziga decided to request political asylum in the US. He publicly declared this last week. Now, he and his family are in the US and awaiting the decision of the authorities there on providing him and his family with political asylum.” The ethnic activist says that he intends to continue to fulfill his obligations as a member of the UN working group on business and human rights, and the party website expresses the hope that he will be allowed to do so.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Number of HIV Infected in Russia Tops 1.5 Million, Overwhelming Health Care System

Paul Goble Staunton, May 3 – For the past decade, the number of Russians infected with HIV has increased ten percent every year and now exceeds 1.5 million – slightly more than one percent of the population and a figure that exceeds the ability of the Russian health care system to cope, according to Federal Press’s Aleksandr Sadovnikov. The situation is compounded, the journalist reports, by the presence in Russia of “more than 100,000” people in Russia on a temporary basis – mostly gastarbeiters – as well as by a shortage of money for medicines. As a result, 20 percent of those infected still die each year either from AIDS, other illnesses or suicides (fedpress.ru/article/1782143). The epidemic is not equally spread across Russia, Sadovnikov continues. Half of all the new cases of HIV infection are from only 22 of the country’s subjects, with six regions – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Moscow oblast, Krasnoyarsk kray, and the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District being the leaders. A major reason for the continuing worsening of the situation in Russia, the journalist says, is that HIV infections have now passed from traditional risk groups – drug users, prostitutes and their clients, and those with “non-traditional sexual orientation” – to the population at large, with homeless children, pregnant women, medical workers and migrants especially at risk. Nonetheless, “more than 90 percent” of infections come from just two activities – drug use and unprotected sex – with just under half of these from sexual contacts. A few days ago, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered an expanded effort to prevent the spread of HIV and treat those with AIDS, but experts say that while the government’s expanded focus is welcome, the success of this effort will depend on whether Moscow funds the effort and follows up, something it has not done in the past.

Number of HIV infected in Russia tops 1.5 million, overwhelming health care system | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

For the past decade, the number of Russians infected with HIV has increased ten percent every year and now exceeds 1.5 million – slightly more than one percent of the population and a figure that exceeds the ability of the Russian health care system to cope, according to Federal Press’s Aleksandr Sadovnikov. The situation is compounded, the journalist reports, by the presence of “more than 100,000” HIV infected foreigners in Russia on a temporary basis – mostly gastarbeiters – as well as by a shortage of money for medicines. As a result, 20 percent of those infected still die each year either from AIDS, other illnesses or suicides.

Daghestan Head Faces Ire Over Remarks About ‘Pretty Girls’ And ‘Cows’

The veteran politician who heads Russia's Daghestan region is facing criticism after suggesting that some school employees in the North Caucasus republic look like &quot;cows.&quot; After …

Banditry from Russia-occupied Donbas rapidly spreading back across Russia, Babchenko says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

Russia is rapidly descending into “a swamp of illegality and unconstrained banditry” in large measure because those features of the Donbas regimes Moscow has created are rapidly spreading back into and across the country, according to Arkady Babchenko. The Russian journalist says that he predicted this when the Kremlin launched its efforts to create a “Novorossiya” in 2014 because the absence of the rule of law in the various puppet entities Moscow imposed in the eastern portion of Ukraine would inevitably have an impact on life in Russia itself.

Ecological disaster in Ukraine caused by Moscow’s invasion spreads into Russia – experts

Just as was the case with the Chornobyl accident 25 years ago last month, the environmental damage caused by Russia&rsquo;s invasion of Ukraine is spreading far beyond the borders of that country into the Russian Federation, according to Russian and Ukrainian engineers, mining specialists and ecologists, Euromaidan Press reports. News 03 May from UNIAN.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Even Largest Non-Russian Languages in Daghestan Now in Trouble

Paul Goble Staunton, May 4 – Many of the smaller languages of Daghestan, spoken in some cases by a few hundred people or less, are at the edge of extinction, but now there is clear evidence that even the largest non-Russian languages are at risk, the result of rapid urbanization and official failure to support them. Avar, one of the largest language communities in Daghestan, is among those in danger, Ramazan Alpaut writes. Between the 2002 and 2010 censuses, the number of Avars increased by almost 100,000 but the number who spoke the national language declined by 70,000 (kavkazr.com/a/avarskiy-yazyk-teryaet-svoi-pozitsii/28457083.html). As a result, more than one in five Avars does not speak his or her native language, a situation that is similar for two other large Daghestani languages, Kumyk and Ingush, Alpaut says, a reflection of rapid urbanization in which members of these groups leave their traditional mono-ethnic communities and the failure of officials to support these languages in the cities. Ever fewer Avars and members of the other major Daghestani languages are studying them in schools either because parents believe that their children will be better off if they study the language they are now compelled to take examinations in or because officials simply don’t want to support the non-Russian languages in schools or cultural institutions. Thus, as a result, ever more Daghestanis speak Russian and identify as Russian-speaking Daghestanis rather than in terms of their various groups. Some in Moscow may be pleased by the shift to Russian, but they may be less happy with the consequences that they or their successors will have to deal with. On the one hand, Moscow will lose its traditional ability to play one ethnic group off against another in order to maintain its position. And on the other, Daghestanis may now present an even more united front – even if it is one that is expressed in Russian rather than in the various languages of that North Caucasus republic.

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warns of Russian ‘Checkmate’ in Arctic | Foreign Policy

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warns of Russian ‘Checkmate’ in Arctic « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

Russia’s Massive Arctic “Research” Submarine Will Be The World’s Longest – The Drive

The record for the world’s longest submarine has been held by the massive Soviet-era Typhoon class for nearly the last four decades. That is about to change as Russia’s currently under construction arctic

ZOMBIE FOX’ tries to bite through door in Russia | Daily Mail Online

A man in Usinsk, north-west Russia, filmed as the frenzied creature bared its teeth and began to rip a hole in his door. Some social media users said the ‘infected’ animal should have been put down.

The Belarusian-Russian Soap Opera Continues – The Russia File

The West should clearly understand that there are limits to how far Belarus can move away from Moscow and that most of the time, Lukashenka’s rhetoric must be put in the context of ongoing negotiations with Moscow. This leads to several straightforward conclusions: The “uniqueness” of Belarusian-Russian relations now rests in Belarusian economy’s high dependency on Russia rather than in any shared vision of future, whether it be “Eurasian integration” or simply “authoritarians united.” It may seem easy for Belarus to turn away from Russia should circumstances demand it, but as long as Moscow supplies what Belarus needs, this is unlikely to happen. There is a very easy way to check whether Lukashenka is serious in his criticism of Russia. He follows the same rules that the Russian opposition has followed for years: you can criticize the system, its institutions, and particular bureaucrats and politicians as long as you don’t criticize Putin personally. If and when that does happen, we could safely assume that real changes are on the way. Despite the harsh rhetoric that Belarus allows itself to emit, as long as Minsk does not change the basic framework of its relations with Russia, Moscow will never consider sending the infamous little green men or “saving” the Russian-speaking population in Belarus in any other way. Thus any speculation about a possible Russian military incursion should be taken with a decent grain of salt. It is impossible to predict how Belarusian-Russian relations might look after Putin and Lukashenka, but for as long as those two are in power, they will be able to find a common language, despite the occasional seeming estrangement.

Lukashenka: There Is No Country Closer To China Than Belarus – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The dictator found his new “iron brother”. “There is no country in Europe that is closer to China than Belarus,” – Lukashenka said today at the meeting with representatives of Chinese central and regional mass media – participants of the press tour to Belarus, BelTA reports. “Unfortunately, global economy and politics have become unpredictable. But despite the global challenges, Belarus and China have created powerful, strong and reliable interstate relations – the relations based on trust, comprehensive strategic partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation, – Lukashenka said. – Perhaps, there is no country in Europe that is closer to China than Belarus.” The ruler drew attention to the fact that the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhang Dejiang called the two countries iron brothers during his visit of Belarus. “And indeed, today we call our friendship, which lasts a quarter of a century already, and which roots go back to a more ancient history, all-weather, – the dictator noted. – We achieved significant results in politics, supporting each other in international organizations, and in the economy.” Belarus and China have already implemented dozens of investment projects in the field of energy and construction, now they are jointly creating an industrial park. In the humanitarian sphere, the countries perform student exchange programs, strengthen cooperation in science and tourism. “Nevertheless, I believe that the interaction between Belarus and China should be even more ambitious and dynamic. This is why we consider this year to be a turning point in bilateral relations,” – Lukashenka stressed. The dictator also said that he intended to go to Beijing in mid-May to participate in the summit “One Belt and One Way”.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


The Daily Vertical: Absurdity Can Be Deadly (Transcript)

So have you heard? NATO is recruiting Russian speakers in Latvia to use as guinea pigs for psychological and biological experiments. German soldiers are assaulting women in Lithuania. And troops from the Western alliance are apparently taking LSD to prepare for an invasion of Russia. What? You haven’t heard these things? Well you would have learned all about them had you been reading the Russian-language media in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Welcome to the weird, weird world of the Kremlin’s active measures and disinformation in the Baltics.  As thousands of American, British, Canadian, and German troops deploy on NATO’s eastern frontier in an effort to bolster the security of Poland and the Baltic states, the Kremlin is turning the volume on its propaganda machine all the way up to 11. According to Martins Kaprans of the Center for European Policy Analysis, Moscow is using a “digital archipelago” of pro-Kremlin websites to attack NATO on a daily basis. And sure, the claims are implausible, over the top, and quite frankly pretty ridiculous. And no, they are not going to convince most people, or even most Russian-speakers. But here’s the thing. They don’t need to convince most people. They just need to get enough people fearful and riled-up enough to spark an incident and provoke a crisis down the road, whenever it suits the Kremlin’s purposes. So yeah, the Kremlin’s anti-NATO propaganda effort in the Baltics is indeed absurd. But as we learned from Russia’s disinformation campaign in Ukraine, absurdity can also be deadly.

What’s So Dastardly Clever About the Google Docs Phishing Scam

The latest phishing scam sweeping the web is better than most. Don’t click!

After years of warnings, mobile network hackers exploit SS7 flaws to drain bank accounts – To Inform is to Influence

O2 in Germany confirms online thefts from sour krauts 3 May 2017 at 20:02, Iain Thomson Experts have been warning for years about security blunders in the Signaling System 7 protocol – the magic glue used by cellphone networks to communicate with each other. These shortcomings can be potentially abused to, for example, redirect people’s…

Hundreds of privacy-invading apps are using ultrasonic sounds to track you – To Inform is to Influence

Apps are using ad-tracking audio signals that your phone can hear, but you can’t. By Zack Whittaker for Zero Day | May 3, 2017 A new privacy-busting technique that tracks consumers through the use of ultrasonic tones may have once sounded like the stuff of science fiction novels, but today it’s reality. These near-silent tones…

Sukhoi PAK FA’s new missile capable of destroying all targets – PravdaReport

Russian T-50 fighter aircraft of the 5th generation has been equipped with tactical Kh-35UE anti-ship cruise missile, which is capable of annihilating any sea targets. According to specialists, the T-50 will become a…

Russia reveals ‘Ship Slayer’ fighter plane for Vladimir Putin’s air force to sink carriers | Daily Star

RUSSIA has revealed the “ship slayer” fighter jet designed to blast enemy warships and send them to the bottom of the sea.

Russia’s New 5th Generation Fighter Jet Just Turned Into a Deadly ‘Ship Slayer’

Russia’s new Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fighter jet has just been given another ability – the means to destroy surface warships. Sputnik spoke to military expert Andrei Golovatyuk to find out whether it’s now appropriate to add ‘ship slayer’ to the fifth-generation aircraft’s list of capabilities.


Ukraine Reports


Ukraine Tries Ex-President Yanukovych In Absentia For Treason

KYIV — Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is being tried in absentia on high treason charges in Kyiv. The trial began on May 4 at the Obolon District Court in the capital, with tw…

Prosecutors to ask court to choose life sentence for Yanukovych

The Main Military Prosecutor's Office of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine will ask the court to choose a sentence in the form of life imprisonment for high treason for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, prosecutor of the Main Military Prosecutor's Office Ruslan Kravchenko told journalists following the first court hearing on the case, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 04 May from UNIAN.

Cancellation of international arrest warrant for Yanukovych not to impact trial into high treason, – PGO

04.05.17 14:15 – Cancellation of international arrest warrant for Yanukovych not to impact trial into high treason, – PGO Recent decisions of Interpol to remove Viktor Yanukovych regime officials from the international wanted list were first of all made due to the imperfection of Ukrainian criminal procedural legislation in terms of defining pre-trial detention. View news.

Poroshenko: $1.1 bln seized from Yanukovych’s regime credited to State Treasury’s accounts

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that funds worth $1.1 billion confiscated from Ukraine's ousted ex-president Viktor Yanukovych have been credited to the accounts of the State Treasury, according to the presidential press service's statement following Poroshenko's meeting with Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk and head of the National Bank of Ukraine Valeria Gontareva. News 03 May from UNIAN.

Tillerson names condition for U.S. to engage with Russia on Ukraine issue

The engagement between the United States and Russian Federation in relation to the Ukraine settlement is only possible after a certain level of trust is restored between the two nations, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his address to the State Department&rsquo;s staff. News 03 May from UNIAN.

Nine Ukrainian soldiers wounded in 52 attacks on their positions in Donbas yesterday, – ATO HQ

04.05.17 10:55 – Nine Ukrainian soldiers wounded in 52 attacks on their positions in Donbas yesterday, – ATO HQ The situation in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area escalated as the Russian-terrorist forces committed 52 attacks on strongpoints of the Ukrainian troops over the past day. View news.

Ukraine reports 9 WIAs amid 52 enemy attacks in last day

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 52 times in the past 24 hours with nine Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 04 May from UNIAN.

SBU reveals cache of ammunition in Zaporizhia region | UNIAN

The SBU Security Service of Ukraine together with the police have revealed a cache of ammunition in Zaporizhia region. Latest UNIAN news from 04 May.

Russian-backed leader Zakharchenko demands Ukraine recognize “Donetsk republic” -Euromaidan Press |

Nikolaus von Twickel The leader of the Donetsk separatists, Alexander Zakharchenko, made it clear that his “people’s republic” wants to be recognized by Ukraine, thus adding yet another condition unacceptable to Kyiv in the ongoing negotiations about the Minsk agreement. In the April 24 Izvestia interview, Zakharchenko said that it was too late to talk about a federation between Ukraine and his “republic”. After the bloodshed, for which he put the sole blame on Kyiv, “the people of Donbas will never give up the freedom and independence they fought for,” he said. Zakharchenko added that maybe there could be talks between his “republic” as an independent state and Ukraine about a confederation. But for this to happen, there needs to be not just a change of power in Kyiv, but Ukraine’s “greedy and vicious” elite needs to be replaced. “The only place for (them) is either in court or in exile,” he said. The separatist leader accused the current Ukrainian government to harbor plans of a large-scale population exchange. With its constant military attacks Kyiv wants to demoralize the population so that it is prepared to flee its homeland, he claimed. The aim is “to free (our) land in order to let it be occupied by Ukrainians from central and western regions,” he said, adding that this process was already ongoing in the government-controlled parts of the Donetsk region. (There is no evidence to support Zakharchenko’s claim).

Economic separation of Donbas “republics” from Ukraine likely to create more economic woes -Euromaidan Press |

Nikolaus von Twickel The economic decoupling of the Donbas “people’s republics” from Ukraine proper deepened over the past weeks. However, leading separatists openly acknowledged that there are serious obstacles to achieving integration with the Russian economy quickly. Here is an analysis of the situation based on a newsletter by the Civic Monitoring initiative. The severing of economic links between the areas controlled by separatists and the government in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions continued unabatedly. On April 25, Ukrainian state power distributor Ukrenergo said that it had halted power supplies to the separatist areas of Luhansk region because of unpaid bills that amount to 2.6 bn hryvnias (90 mn euros). Russia announced hours later that it would step in and provide the affected areas with electricity.

Donbas militants ‘sentence’ 63-year-old Ukrainian religious scholar on insane charges – media

After holding well-known academic Ihor Kozlovskyy prisoner for well over a year, the Kremlin-backed militants of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic [DPR] have now 'sentenced' him to nearly 3 years' imprisonment, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reports. News 04 May from UNIAN.

Moving poem by Yuliya, wife of Oleksandr Korinkov, prisoner in the “DNR” -Euromaidan Press |

A raven croaks its dreary song above the man sitting in darkness, A darkness covered in sorrow, even in his troubled dreams… No hope, torn by tears and grief, the man is slowly dying… A hero, a son of Ukraine – but forgotten and not needed… And this thought rages through his body like poison, Devouring him, the body of a young man! One day, two days, hundreds or thousands of black, dark days go by In captivity, in prison… Yes, a forgotten hostage somewhere lost. Hope is fading, his body is broken, his soul knows no respite… No regrets, no pity, no kind words… pure faith and truth are gone. And no one will save the body and soul of this young soldier… As years go by, as time waves goodbye, As his hair grows gray and his face droops wearily, His eyes are dulled, his thoughts are empty, and only grief remains in the surrounding darkness…

Damaged Trust: Politicized Misinterpretations of Ukraine’s Newly Amended Anti-Corruption Law – To Inform is to Influence

What do the adopted amendments actually entail? MAY 4, 2017 Author: Ariana Gic Independent Political Analyst Recent amendments to Ukraine’s Anti-corruption Law sparked a fierce public conflict between its critics and supporters. Both sides relied on politicized interpretations of the changes, ignoring the letter of law. The debate has been dishonest and has misled the public,…

Turkey-Ukraine defense ties blossom – media – News about economy | UNIAN

It looks like&nbsp;Ukraine is becoming&nbsp;Turkey's new go-to defense technology partner.&nbsp;Strategic ties between&nbsp;Turkey and Ukraine&nbsp;in the fields of defense and military cooperation are flourishing, Al Monitor reports. News 03 May from UNIAN.

Ukraine investigates 94-year-old Jewish veteran over nationalist’s death in 1952 | World news | The Guardian

Soviet army veteran Boris Steckler faces murder inquiry over his role in death of Ukrainian insurgent and could be jailed


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Putin requested his call with Trump to outline a plan for Syrian safe zones. Why now? – The Washington Post

Much as Chinese President Xi Jinping made himself Trump’s partner for dealing with North Korea, Putin may be attempting a similar play for Syria.

To Freeze Syria War, Russia Proposes Setting Up ‘De-escalation Zones’ – The New York Times

The proposal, shared by participants at cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, is one of the most detailed suggestions in efforts to halt the war.

Putin, Erdogan Hail Return To ‘Normal Partner’ Relations

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed that their countries have overcome a period of difficulties in bilateral relations and have returned to &quo…

U.S. is trapped between its allies’ ambitions in Syria – The Washington Post [2016]

Syria’s Kurds feel betrayed, and Turkey is angry.

Erik Prince | Full Address and Q&A | Oxford Union – YouTube

http://is.gd/OxfordUnion Oxford Union on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theoxfordunion Oxford Union on Twitter: @OxfordUnio…


DPRK / PRC Reports


North Korean Media, in Rare Critique of China, Says Nuclear Program Will Continue – The New York Times

A commentary carried by the North’s official news agency said the country would not halt its nuclear program, even if it risked its friendly relationship with China.

North Korea: China stomping on ‘red line’ in relations – CNN.com

North Korean state media warned Thursday Beijing was crossing a “red line” in its relationship with Pyongyang, in a rare criticism of its closest ally.

N. Korea issues direct criticism of China amid nuke dispute – The Washington Post

North Korea has issued a rare direct criticism of China through a commentary saying its “reckless remarks” on the North’s nuclear program are testing its patience and could trigger unspecified “grave” consequences.

North Korea official media make rare strong criticism of key ally China | The Japan Times

North Korea’s official media accused China by name on Wednesday, saying it has sided with the United States to exert more pressure on Pyongyang. “China had

North Korean media issues rare criticism of China over nuclear warnings

State media published a rare criticism saying Chinese state media commentaries calling for tougher sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programmmes were undermining relations with Beijing

N. Korea issues direct criticism of China amid nuke dispute – NY Daily News

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — China says it remains committed to maintaining friendly ties with North Korea, amid signs of deteriorating relations between the longtime allies over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

N. Korea issues direct criticism of China amid nuke dispute – The Washington Post

North Korea has issued a rare direct criticism of China through a commentary saying its “reckless remarks” on the North’s nuclear program are testing its patience and could trigger unspecified “grave” consequences.

North Korea Issues Direct Criticism of China Amid Nuke Dispute – Bloomberg

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has issued a rare direct criticism of China through a commentary saying its

China says it wants ‘friendly’ relations with North Korea | TheHill

North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: Activity Continues Throughout the Site | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

Commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility from April 25 indicates an apparent resumption of activities around the site. 38 North

Tillerson says putting pressure on North Korea is just the beginning – The Washington Post

Secretary of state tells employees foreign policy must advance U.S. security and economic interests, and American “values” should not necessarily be a condition.

North Korea defector hails Trump’s tough stance on hostile country | Fox News

Hyeonseo Lee is one of the best-known defectors from North Korea.

What’s With the Crazy, Scary North Korean Propaganda? – NBC News

Most of the Kim Jong Un regimes’s messages, like threats of nuclear annihilation for South Korea and the U.S., are meant for the hometown audience.

South Korea’s Presidential Favorite Signals Warmer Ties With Kim – Bloomberg

As a member of South Korea’s special forces in the 1970s, Moon Jae-in stood out.

Jailed Teacher Claims Americans Held in ‘North Korean Gulag’

A Canadian security consultant who was interrogated for two and a half days in North Korea says he spoke at length with a prisoner in a neighboring cell who identified himself as 58-year-old Tony Kim, the American professor recently imprisoned by the rogue regime of…

North Korea is building mysterious artificial islands that would be perfect for missile launches – LA Times

The isolated country, taking a cue from China, is building and militarizing islands off its west coast, and analysts can’t figure out why

South Korea credit rating

As Washington and Pyongyang ramp up aggressive rhetoric, the increased probability of conflict will be credit negative for Seoul, according to Moody’s.

Market Totalitarianism in North Korea – The New York TimesReaders discuss regime-sanctioned commerce and the liberalizing benefits of trade.

Top Republicans hail alliance amid North Korea nuclear threat

Two of Americas most powerful Republicans have warned that Australias alliance with the US has never been more critical, because of the grave and growing threat posed by North Korea, which they warn will have 100 nuclear bombs within a few short years.

Admiral’s photos show Korea before it was split in two | Daily Mail Online

Admiral Sir Arthur Moore was able to freely explore the Korean Peninsula during his service as Commander-in-Chief of the China Station between 1906 and 1908.


Foreign Policy Reports


French election: Macron ‘most convincing’ in final debate – BBC News

Emmanuel Macron had the best of a quarrelsome debate with Marine Le Pen, a viewers’ poll says.

The Latest: French debate features insults to bitter end – The Washington Post

The Latest on France’s presidential election (all times local):

In French Elections, Alt-Right Messages and Memes Don’t Translate – The New York Times

While the American far right has undertaken a digital assault in support of Marine Le Pen, it hasn’t resonated with the French electorate.

Macron or Le Pen — it’s trouble for the EU either way – CNN.com

The Eureopean Union is facing upheavel whoever wins the French Presidential election, Macron

Russian troops unconstitutionally occupy Moldovan territory – Constitutional Court -Euromaidan Press |

The decision of the Constitutional Court of Moldova makes it clear that the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria is unconstitutional and violates the law. The neutral status of Moldova does not exclude cooperation with other military alliances to strengthen the defense capability of the country. On 2 May 2017, the Constitutional Court of Moldova delivered the judgment on the interpretation of an article of the country’s constitution on the permanent neutrality of Moldova, following a petition filed by the deputies of the Liberal Party in 2015. The Court ruled that the deployment in the territory of the Republic of Moldova of “troops or military bases, run and controlled by foreign states, is unconstitutional.”

Moldova Court declares illegal stay of Russian troops in Transnistria; President Dodon critical of ruling

The Constitutional Court of Moldova on Tuesday, May 2, declared unconstitutional the presence of Russian military forces on the territory of the republic&rsquo;s Transnistrian region, while Moldova President says such a decision will provoke various political speculations. News 03 May from UNIAN.

Explainer: Macedonia At A Crossroads

Scores of demonstrators stormed Macedonia&rsquo;s parliament on April 27 and attacked several lawmakers after an ethnic Albanian deputy was elected speaker. It's one of the most alarmin…

Georgia Refuses Entry To Pro-Putin ‘Night Wolves’ Biker Gang

Georgia's government has refused entry to a Russian motorcycle gang that is closely linked to President Vladimir Putin. Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili told reporters in Tbilis…

Night Wolves Refused Entry Into Georgia, Poland Arrests Another – To Inform is to Influence

If one follows the news of the Russian biker gang, the Night Wolves, on their annual ride, Russia is using yet another tool to harass surrounding countries. Plain and simple, it is Putin politics. This is already the Night Wolves’ third 6,000km (3,720 mile) road trip from Moscow to Berlin across the territories of Belarus, Poland, Slovakia and the…

Venezuela’s Dystopian Nightmare

Amid the country’s worst ever humanitarian crisis, demonstrators are being run over, masked paramilitaries are surrounding homes, and the president is angling for a new constitution.

Bipartisan Senate bill on Venezuela calls for Trump to block Russian oil deal – CBS News

Sponsored by prominent senators from both parties, the bill would sanction Venezuela while demanding the president prevent Russia from taking over Venezuelan-owned U.S. oil company Citgo


US Domestic Policy Reports


Donald Trump Calls Out Susan Rice For Not Testifying About Russia | Fortune.com

Donald Trump is calling out Susan Rice for not testifying about Russia at a Senate subcommittee hearing about election meddling.

Graham calls for Susan Rice to testify on unmasking allegations | TheHill

Susan Rice declines to testify before Senate subcommittee – POLITICO

Rice denied using intelligence for political purposes in an interview on MSNBC last month.

Susan Rice won’t testify before Senate on Russia hacking, ‘unmasking’ | Fox News

Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s longtime national security adviser, declined Wednesday to testify before a Senate subcommittee about Russian activities during the 2016 election campaign.

Former Obama security adviser declines invite to testify – The Washington Post

Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, on Wednesday declined an invitation to testify at an upcoming Senate hearing on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Former Obama Security Adviser Will Not Testify In Russian Meddling Probe

Former President Barack Obama's national security adviser has declined to testify at a Senate hearing on May 8 on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election. Susan Rice's lawye…

Susan Rice denies misusing intel to damage Trump – POLITICO

I did my job, which was to protect the American people,” she said.

Inside the Ring: Susan Rice political spy role under House investigation – Washington Times

Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice is expected to be a central witness in the coming weeks before committee investigators to explain the unmasking and wide dissemination of what the committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, has called improper electronic surveillance of Trump transition team officials.

As Russia Investigation Widens, U.S. Lawmakers Get Rare Access to Raw Intel | Foreign Policy

As Russia Investigation Widens, U.S. Lawmakers Get Rare Access to Raw Intel « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

Wall Street Journal: Democrats Trying to Squelch Susan Rice Unmasking Story – Breitbart

The Wall Street Journal said Democrats are trying to squelch the story of Susan Rice’s unmasking of Trump campaign officials.

The Bolton Unmasking Files: Democrats Give Susan Rice a Pass They Didn’t Give to John Bolton

Ben Rhodes: GOP Charges on Susan Rice a ‘Wild Goose Chase’

Ben Rhodes: GOP Charges on Susan Rice a ‘Wild Goose Chase’

A Scandal So Great It Has No Name | ConservativeHQ.com

Susan Rice Likens Trump’s U.S. Foreign Policy To ‘The Crazy Aunt In The Attic’

We’re not supposed to be the crazy …”

Cummings: Russia probe ‘a fight for the soul of our democracy’ | TheHill

Every day there’s a new question that opens up,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

FBI Chief Says Russia Continuing To Meddle In U.S. Politics

WASHINGTON &ndash; FBI Director James Comey says Russia is continuing to meddle in U.S. politics, and he has warned that Russia&rsquo;s &quot;intention and capability&quot; make it a majo…

5 Takeaways From James Comey’s Hearing – The New York Times

The F.B.I. director said that if he had to revisit his decision to tell Congress in October about newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton, he would do it again.

10 things learned at FBI Director James Comey’s hearing – CNNPolitics.com

FBI Director James Comey addressed senators for four hours Wednesday, giving testimony to the Senate judiciary committee mostly related to Russia’s meddling in the US election last year.

Hatch Act of 1939 – Wikipedia

‘Peeing Russian Prostitutes’ Dossier Author Admits Claims Needed to Be Verified

The author of a partially discredited 35-page dossier alleging collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s pres. campaign has conceded…

Today’s Media – To Inform is to Influence

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country. 2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country. 3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles. 4. USA Today…

 

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