Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 24 June 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

COCW means Choke On Coffee Warning, FYI.

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Another day of Russia contributing MSM traffic on multiple fronts, while its ongoing internal meltdown continues. Excellent RFE/RL podcast on Russia’s ongoing collective “imperial delusion”.  Caucasus stability questioned. Prof Goble’s #88 shows extant meltdown trends gaining momentum. Multiple COCW items. Belarus seen as problematic invasion target for Russia due to Lukashenko forming Belarusian LGM units to play “Belarusian partisan”.

While debate over Putin’s fake video clip continues, the most bizarre IW/IO item is the overnight post by a senior Foreign Ministry official in Russia, asserting that “Ivan the Formidable (Terrible) aka Ivan Grozny aka Ivan IV: His father was descended from Augustus Octavian. His mother was descended from Genghis Khan” double COCW applies! Vkontakte founder opposes Putin, plus an excellent report on Chinese use of social media for propaganda.

More on Ukraine’s defense agreements with the US, and invites to SECSTATE, SECDEF and SECENERGY to visit Ukraine. Ukraine formally announces that the hardened military Chervonoglinskaya AB airbase in Bessarabia will be reactivated in 2018, it is strategically well placed to make life miserable for Russia. Donbass fires continue. In Lutsk, 107 remains of NKVD victims have been excavated, more mass graves believed to yet be found nearby. Euromaidan have published a transcript of historian Timothy Snyder’s 22nd June 2017 (Op Barbarossa anniversary) lecture to the Bundestag in Berlin, on Germany’s historical responsibility towards Ukraine. This lecture is especially significant for several reasons, including the extent to which many gullible Germans have foolishly bought into Russian propaganda about Ukraine being a nation of Nazis and Nazi collaborators, but also because the Nazi doctrine of racial superiority falsely designated Ukrainians as non-Germanic and worthy only of slavery – modern DNA mapping proves (see below) that Ukraine has a higher density of the classical “Germanic” genes in its population than Germany itself – the Nazis in their destructive delusion were mass murdering mainly people genetically more “Germanic” than they were themselves.

In Syria Russians still using deconfliction hotline they claimed to have abandoned in protest over the FITTER kill. In Mecca, Saudi security forces prevent a Ramadan suicide bombing attack on the Grand Mosque, by suspected ISIS terrorists. After the destruction by ISIS of the magnificent Nouri Mosque in Mosul, this does make an impeccable case that ISIS / Al Qaeda are indeed apostates and should be cast out of the Umma.

The DPRK declares itself the victim in the Warmbier tragedy, while two US victim blamers are publicly criticised. Justice Michael Kirby, who led the extensive UN investigation into the DPRK’s massive crimes against humanity, comments publicly on the despicable nature of the Kim regime, the 2014 UN report is attached. The moral dimension of the DPRK debate has been largely ignored in recent months, the focus being almost exclusively on the regime’s WMD capabilities.

The WashPost report on the Obama Adminstration’s response to intelligence on Russian interference in the election has produced a firestorm of argument, and many blaming Pres Obama. What has yet to be discussed is the role of Rice and associates, who were politically and cognitively entrapped by the Russians, and not prepared to advise their POTUS to deal with Russia forcefully, as they should have over Ukraine two years earlier.


Russia / Russophone Reports


Podcast: The Empire’s New ClothesIt’s hard to say goodbye to an empire. It’s traumatic to part with former colonial possessions. It’s difficult to view former vassals as sovereign and co-equal neighbors. A quarter of a century after the Soviet Union collapsed, large and stable majorities of Russians believe that Moscow still has a legitimate claim on the territory of its neighbors. Is this just a case of prolonged post-imperial stress disorder that will pass with time? Or is it a more chronic condition that will leave Russia’s neighbors in a constant state of peril? On this week’s Power Vertical Podcast, we’ll look at the implications of a new Pew Research Center poll in which 60 percent of Russians say Moscow has a legitimate claim to the territory of Russia’s neighbors. Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the blog In Moscow’s Shadows; and journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia’s Power Cult. Also on the podcast, Mark, Anna, and I will discuss what the new Pew poll shows about Vladimir Putin’s public support.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Aide Lists Moscow’s Five Biggest Concerns in North CaucasusPaul Goble Staunton, June 23 – Magomedsalam Magomedov, the former head of Daghestan who is now deputy head of the Russian Presidential Administration, told the leaders of the republics in the North Caucasus that Moscow currently has five major concerns about developments in their region that they must address. In remarks to the annual conference in Pyatigorsk yesterday on the carrying out of the government’s nationality policy in the region, the Kremlin official listed the following five tasks that he said should be “in the center of their attention” in the coming months (tass.ru/v-strane/4358860):
 1. Imposing control on migration processes not only between the region and the rest of Russia but between mountainous rural areas and the region’s major cities.
2. Blocking radicalism both religious and ethnic.
3. Ensuring a “balanced” language policy, something that would involve both promoting Russian while avoiding a full-scale attack on the languages of the indigenous nationalities.
4. Promoting the agro-industrial sector in such a way that its development will not harm the traditional farming practices of the population.
5. And overcoming “’old’ inter-ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes.” None of these are new, but two aspects of Magomedov’s remarks are worthy of note. On the one hand, he gave equal attention to ethnic and religious radicalism, a shift away from Moscow’s recent insistence that its problems in the North Caucasus are almost exclusively the result of an Islamist threat. And on the other, his reference to territorial disputes suggests Moscow is more worried about challenges to existing borders than it has let on, challenges that threaten to destabilize and possibly disintegrate Daghestan and to lead to a redrawing of republic borders especially in the western part of the region. As one would expect, Magomedov celebrated the fact that Russians in the country as a whole are more upbeat about inter-ethnic problems now than they have been, with only 14 percent saying that clashes are imminent in their regions. But in the North Caucasus, he pointed out, those fearful of the future in this sector are considerably more, “almost 24 percent.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 88 Paul Goble Staunton, June 23 — The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore. Consequently, Windows on Eurasia each week presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 88th such compilation, and it is again a double issue. Even then, it is only suggestive and far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.
1. Putin’s ‘All Wet,’ Russian Bloggers Say. The Russian blogosphere has had a field day with pictures showing Putin standing in the rain when placing flowers on the eternal flame in Moscow. That he is “all wet” is one of the more charitable comments on the Russian net (forum-msk.org/material/news/13363668.html). Russian media have also devoted a lot of time to reports that the Kremlin leader is about to get remarried, an election move in the minds of many designed to silence those who suggest he has homosexual inclinations (govoritmoskva.ru/blogs/968/?utm_source=infox.sg). Other Putin developments this week: He declared that promoting patriotism is a more important task for the schools than spreading knowledge (newsru.com/russia/21jun2017/patriotismaboveall.html). He called for re-introducing Soviet-style labor training in the educational system (snob.ru/selected/entry/126078). He began using VKontakte to greet students, raising the possibility that the world may soon have another leader who tweets his messages (ura.news/news/1052294513). Russian commentators compared him to Kim Jong Un and to Stalin (newsland.com/community/4765/content/putin-izobrazhalsia-kak-uchenik-kim-chen-ira/5880998 and newsland.com/community/1920/content/putin-idushchii-putiom-stalina/5878279). Putin icons are now available for home use for 10 US dollars (newsland.com/community/129/content/v-rossii-prodaiut-ikony-putina-za-600-rublei/5876456). The US has now sanctioned a company operated by Putin’s cook, bringing the noose inside the Kremlin as it were (snob.ru/selected/entry/126010). And polls show that Putin’s support among Russians is gradually but consistently declining (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/06/21/1624756.html).
2. Russians’ Real Incomes and Employment Continue to Fall and Wage Arrears to Rise. Despite some positive figures in May, the real incomes of Russians continued to decline (rosbalt.ru/business/2017/06/20/1624619.html), unemployment and underemployment to rise (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5947B3A755A6C), and wage arrears to grow (ng.ru/economics/2017-06-20/1_7011_naselenie.html). The shadow economy is growing again and few see a way out of that anytime soon (newsland.com/community/5325/content/chtoby-38-millionov-tenevykh-trudiag-legalizovalis-im-nuzhno-sozdat-rovno-stolko-zhe-rabochikh-mest/5880634 and ng.ru/economics/2017-06-20/1_7011_naselenie.html). Few Russians believe official statistics on inflation (newsland.com/community/6437/content/ne-menshe-10-rossiiane-ne-veriat-v-nizkuiu-infliatsiiu/5878474). They can see fewer new stores and more that have closed for lack of business (dom.lenta.ru/news/2017/06/22/shoppingfailure/?utm_source=from_lenta). Bank supervision has been rated as inadequate, and Russia’s banks are now running out of hard currency, an indication that Russians are buying more of it as a hedge (rusjev.net/2017/06/23/banki-rf-poteryali-polovinu-zapasov-valyutyi-i-ispyityivayut-defitsit-dollara/).
3. Half of Russians Say They Don’t Like Government’s Social Services – and Half Say They Can’t Get Them. The Russian government’s support for social services like health care has declined so far that Russians are about equally divided on whether they are any good at all or even accessible (iz.ru/609688/nataliia-berishvili/sotcialnym-obsluzhivaniem-ne-udovletvoreny-pochti-50-naseleniia and newsland.com/community/4765/content/rossiiskoe-zdravookhranenie-rushitsia-na-glazakh-u-vsego-tsivilizovannogo-mira/5880776). In other health-care-related news, Russia has firmed up its leadership in the number of abortions per capita (newsland.com/community/5392/content/rossiia-lidiruet-po-chislu-abortov/5878984), it has cut spending on cancer treatments across the board (themoscowtimes.com/news/russian-regions-slash-cancer-spending-amid-rising-costs-58231), it faces syphilis, HIV and tuberculosis epidemics among immigrant workers (forum-msk.org/material/news/13355239.html). Russian school children are increasingly rated as unhealthy (newsland.com/community/5325/content/sredi-rossiiskikh-starsheklassnikov-net-polnostiu-zdorovykh-liudei/5884505). One Russian in five doesn’t have enough money to buy prescribed medicines (iz.ru/609107/daria-filippova/rossiianam-ne-khvataet-deneg-na-tabletki). And government efforts to reduce competition in cemetery services mean that when Russians die, their relatives will have to pay higher prices to have them interred (newizv.ru/news/society/22-06-2017/kladbischenskaya-renovatsiya-v-moskve-horonit-konkurentsiyu-97c82947-8c49-4a8d-b74c-5a766e1890cd). There was one amusing development in this sector, however. Last week, the head of a psychiatric hospital in Pskov called the police to suppress a protest at his facility that in fact had never happened, something that raises questions as to who has been properly admitted to that facility (takiedela.ru/news/2017/06/22/miting-psih/).
4. Class Distinctions Growing and Becoming More Irritating. A third of Russian young people say they would like to leave the country but many can’t because of debt – 1.6 million Russians are now banned from leaving because they owe money (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=594B7B307D38F). Moreover, many young people can’t find jobs in Russia in the fields for which they were trained (ttolk.ru/2017/06/19/китаю-и-россии-избыточное-число-студе/). And that makes reports that wealthy Russians now not only move abroad whenever they live, including to avoid taxes, and that such parents send two-thirds of their children to foreign universities increasingly infuriating (rns.online/finance/CHetvert-rossiiskih-millionerov-gotovi-na-vremya-uehat-iz-strani-2017-06-23/?utm_source=push). Many poorer Russians are also less than pleased by reports that those who can afford it are choosing to travel to Turkey rather than to go to Crimea or the Caucasus as Moscow recommends (svpressa.ru/society/article/175195/).
 5. Two-Thirds of All Official Alcohol Substandard and Ten Percent of Moscow Apartments ‘Unsuitable for Habitation.’ Russians drink an enormous amount of samogon, but even those who consume only officially registered alcohol get in trouble as 65 percent of that does not now meet Moscow’s health standards (iz.ru/609620/evgeniia-pertceva/bolshe-poloviny-prob-alkogolia-ne-sootvetstvovali-gostam-v-2016-godu). Meanwhile, officials report that one in every ten rental apartments in Moscow are not fit for human habitation (realty.rbc.ru/news/594a36329a79476c74b2cebe). These two problems may be coming together: officials plan to open more alcohol stores in the neighborhoods to which those who had been living in khrushchoby are scheduled to be shifted (znak.com/2017-06-21/pochemu_obitatelyam_novyh_rossiyskih_spalnikov_grozit_alkogolizm_i_mozhno_li_s_etim_borotsya).
6. LGBT Repression on Rise in Russia. Although it hasn’t received the attention Chechnya’s attacks on gay people did, Russian actions promoting homophobia and even direct attacks on gays have increased in recent weeks. Russian orthodox priests are now telling Russian men to grow beards to protect themselves from homosexuality (themoscowtimes.com/news/religious-leaders-in-russia-want-men-to-stop-shaving-to-protect-themselves-from-homosexuality-58213), Russian parents and teachers are opposing sex education because they say it propagandizes gay life styles (regnum.ru/news/society/2291882.html), and gangs in major cities are now targeting LGBT people for attack (meduza.io/feature/2015/07/24/ocherednye-uspehi-obschestvennosti and meduza.io/feature/2016/05/23/nadoelo-dokazyvat-chto-ty-chelovek).
7. Russian Landlords Increasingly Racist. Many non-Russians now face open and completely illegal discrimination by landlords when they try to rent rooms, something the authorities are doing almost nothing to stop and that many non-Russians now view as a fact of life they must accept at least for now (themoscowtimes.com/articles/new-research-reveals-moscows-most-racist-landlords-58240). Other ethnic news that attracted little attention this past week: There was a mass fight between Uzbek and Tajik gastarbeiters in Sakha (nazaccent.ru/content/24414-massovaya-draka-mezhdu-uzbekami-i-tadzhikami.html), a Zhirinovsky candidate running for head of the Buryat Republic called for eliminating it and all other non-Russian republics as well (baikal-media.ru/news/elections/341824/), and officials in the North Caucasus say that beating wives is not contrary to law (islamio.ru/news/policy/na_severnom_kavkaze_ofitsialno_razreshili_bit_zhyen/).
8. Russian Regions Want Flights that Don’t Require Going Through Moscow. The collapse in the number of commercial airports in Russia since Soviet times from 1200 to 200 and of regional carriers means that those who want to travel from one region to another often have to go through Moscow even more often than before 1991. That is hurting the economy and officials in the regions are calling for change (newsland.com/community/7268/content/priamoi-pereliot-mozhno-li-sozdat-v-rossii-sistemu-aviasoobshcheniia-v-obkhod-moskvy/5882519). Officials in border regions are also seeking direct flights to neighboring countries: an airlink between Buryatia and Mongolia has now been resumed after a 91-year hiatus (asiarussia.ru/news/16729/).
9. Protests Spread Geographically, Numerically, and in Terms of Subject. Much attention has focused on the fact that the June 12 demonstrations were twice as large as the March 26 ones and that they involved people in 187 cities, the largest number ever (worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/vladimir-kara-murza/russian-opposition-s-double-size-march). But that is just part of a broader trend, and despite the holiday, it continued to spiral: More than 200,000 Rusisans signed a protest against the government’s desire to make the decisions of police presumed correct (newsland.com/community/4765/content/bolee-200-tysiach-chelovek-vystupili-protiv-prezumptsii-doveriia-k-politseiskim/5880840), workers struck over wage arrears in Yamal (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/06/19/1624348.html), Rostov residents picked over the actions of the Russian Guard there (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/304549/ and over the illegal actions of banks against those who have taken out loans (.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/304515/), Muscovites continued to protest about plans to demolish the khrushchoby (newizv.ru/news/society/20-06-2017/ekologi-predupredili-sovet-federatsii-ob-opasnosti-renovatsii and rbc.ru/society/16/06/2017/594250d39a794721a2c315ea?from=center_36), medical students protested conditions of their training (versia.ru/studenty-mediki-vzbuntovalis-protiv-novyx-pravil-priyoma-v-ordinaturu), and Daghestani parents travelled to Moscow to protest the continued existence of two and three-shift schools in their republics (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=594930BAC94C5).
10. Uralvagonzavod Workers Told to Submit to Psychiatric Exams or Lose Their Jobs. The factory that five years ago was a symbol of support for Putin was the site this week of a classical example of the kind of repression he has visited on Russians: workers there were told to submit to psychiatric exams about their protest attitudes or face dismissal (politsovet.ru/55668-oficialno-psihiatry-proveryat-2-tysyachi-rabotnikov-uralvagonzavoda.html). Elsewhere, Soviet norms are returning to Russian workplaces (ura.news/news/1052293927), the Duma has agreed to keep secret the property holdings of senior officials, opening the way to repression of any who reveal such information (snob.ru/selected/entry/126035), Moscow has rejected European Court’s finding that its anti-gay propaganda law violates international norms (lenta.ru/news/2017/06/20/klish/), Russia’s extradition system has been found in violation of international law (advgazeta.ru/blog/posts/710), some Duma members want to make cursing in the family a crime (versia.ru/komitet-gd-podderzhal-ideyu-vvedeniya-administrativnoj-otvetstvennosti-za-mat-v-seme), and the Russian authorities displayed the level of their competence when they briefly blocked Google because they entered the wrong code (versia.ru/kak-roskomnadzor-xotel-zablokirovat-bukmekerov-no-vnes-v-reestr-poiskovik-gugl).
11. Regions Want Control over Monuments So They Can Decide Which to Destroy. Voronezh deputies are pressing Moscow to allow regional governments to decide which monuments can go up and which not rather than having this process centralized (regnum.ru/news/cultura/2291054.html). Meanwhile, battles over monuments continue in Tambov, St. Petersburg, Karachay-Cherkessia, Buryatia, Kaliningrad, Ufa, Moscow and in the Russian Orthodox Church (ng.ru/regions/2017-06-19/100_tambov190617.html, sova-center.ru/religion/discussions/authorities/2017/06/d37303/ andnewizv.ru/news/society/19-06-2017/novyy-direktor-isaakiya-vystupil-protiv-ego-peredachi-rpts, newsland.com/community/6399/content/peterburzhtsy-pereimenovali-most-kadyrova-v-akhmatovskii/5881621, kavkazr.com/a/kongress-i-cerkov/28572589.html,nazaccent.ru/content/24460-luchshij-eskiz-pamyatnika-buryatskomu-yazyku-i.html, echo.msk.ru/blog/varlamov_i/2004430-echo/, rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78334, ruskline.ru/analitika/2017/06/17/kak_v_kaliningrade_pamyat_nacistov_uvekovechivayut/,regnum.ru/news/polit/2289664.html, rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78310 and rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78307).
13. Russian Military Retirees Say High Inflation Crushing Them. Retired officers and non-coms say that high rates of inflations are eating away at their inadequate pensions, complaints that may have an impact on currently serving personnel as well (militariorg.ucoz.ru/publ/publ_1/realnaja_infljacija_v_rossii_sostavljaet_31/15-1-0-73646). Meanwhile, in an admission that draft avoidance is a bigger problem than Moscow typically admits, the Duma is considering lifting restrictions for hiring such people to work for the government (iz.ru/609072/tatiana-berseneva-marina-iurshina/uklonistam-ot-armii-gossluzhba-stanet-dostupnee). But three other problems that surfaced this week may be even more immediately threatening: Russia now has twice as many police per capita as does the US (newsland.com/community/129/content/v-rossii-na-kazhdogo-zhitelia-vtroe-bolshe-politseiskikh-chem-v-sshak-chemu-by-eto/5878410), the GRU and FSB are now locked in what looks like almost open conflict (openrussia.org/notes/710602/), and gun violence is now such a problem in Russia that even the Moscow Patriarchate is calling for gun control (newsland.com/community/4590/content/v-rpts-prizvali-ogranichit-v-rossii-pravo-khraneniia-i-nosheniia-oruzhiia/5882121).
14. Russia’s Arms Build Up Faces Serious Obstacles. Many of the tanks Moscow is now producing are outdated before they leave the factory, Russian experts say (glavred.info/zhizn/noveyshiy-rossiyskiy-tank-armata-uzhe-rzhaveet-esche-ne-soydya-s-konveyera-442728.html), and Moscow is having problems developing new military transport aircraft because the components for such planes were made in what are now independent and often hostile foreign countries (regnum.ru/news/polit/2291941.html). Given Russia’s continuing problems with its military, it is perhaps no surprise that it is increasingly relying on covert methods to kill its opponents abroad and spread fear beyond Russia’s borders (buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/from-russia-with-blood-14-suspected-hits-on-british-soil).
15. IOC to Impose Harsh Sanctions on Russia for Doping. Moscow has claimed that it has cleaned up its act, but the International Olympic Committee says it must be punished for its past actions and that the body will announce new and broader sanctions against Russian athletics this fall (profile.ru/obsch/item/118042-thomas-bach). Meanwhile, problems continue with preparations for the 2018 World Cup with Russians increasingly angry about how much money is going to this event when they don’t have enough for basic needs (regnum.ru/news/society/2291092.html andnakanune.ru/news/2017/6/20/22473674/). And while FIFA officials praised Russia’s operation of the Confederation Cup this year (newsland.com/community/7451/content/glava-fifa-pokhvalil-rossiiu-za-fantasticheskuiu-organizatsiiu-kubka-konfederatsii/5878135), there were problems with both security and fan violence (newsland.com/community/7268/content/putin-smutil-nemetskikh-futbolistov-merami-bezopasnosti/5883886 and life.ru/t/спорт/1018332/diesiatki_rossiiskikh_fanatov_lishieny_prava_posieshchieniia_kubka_konfiedieratsii).
16. Russian Officials have Failed to Build Roads or Other Infrastructure for Free Land in Far East. Despite Vladimir Putin’s support for handing out free land to Russians in the Far East in order to hold that country in the face of a Chinese challenge and to boost its economy, Russian officials have made it very difficult for those who decide to take up this offer. They haven’t built any roads linking the land to the weak road network of the region, meaning that anyone who does go can’t move around easily, and they haven’t built basic infrastructure like water and sewer lines, let alone communications links either (fedpress.ru/article/1808692).
17. Murder Rate in Russia Now Three Times Greater than in US. Moscow has made a veritable cottage industry talking about how violent the United States now is, but an international comparison shows that in per capita terms, Russians are killing each other three times as often as Americans are. Compared to Japan, Russians are 40 times more likely to murder one of their compatriots (newizv.ru/article/general/19-06-2017/v-rossii-ubivayut-v-40-raz-chasche-chem-v-yaponii).
18. Birthrates in Rural Russia Now Well Below Replacement Levels. Russian officials are worried that falling birthrates now threaten the country’s territorial integrity (newsland.com/community/129/content/putin-schel-uroven-rozhdaemosti-v-rossii-katastroficheskim/5880494 andstoletie.ru/obschestvo/_demograficheskaja_jama_433.htm), but they have comforted themselves that this is simply a worldwide trend and the result of urbanization. But new demographic figures show that Russia’s rural population now has a birthrate below replacement levels, something that means that people there can’t hope to make up for the even lower rates in the cities (demoscope.ru/weekly/2017/0731/tema05.php).
19. China Does What Moscow Can’t: Build Roads in Russia East of the Urals. Because of economic problems, Moscow has almost completely stopped highway construction east of the Urals (regnum.ru/news/economy/2290250.html). China is stepping in to fill the void, financing a high-speed highway between Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, a move that will help residents but disturb many Russians because of its geopolitical implications (ng.ru/economics/2017-06-21/4_7012_pekin.html).
20. China Challenging Russia on Northern Sea Route. China is now challenging Russia’s dominance of the shipping on the Northern Sea Route and is building icebreakers at a rate that suggests Beijing, not Moscow, will be the dominant player there within a decade (asia.nikkei.com/magazine/20170615/Politics-Economy/Six-centuries-later-China-rekindles-its-Arctic-ambitions?page=1).
21. 4500 Russians Now Studying Theology, Ever More Want to Become Priests. Moscow’s recognition of theology as an academic discipline has sparked enormous interest in it, with 4500 Russians having signed up to study theology in 51 universities around the country (portal-credo.ru/site/?act=monitor&id=25684). This is the tip of a larger iceberg: ever more Russians are showing an interest in becoming Russian Orthodox priests (politsovet.ru/55656-v-rossii-rastet-chislo-zhelayuschih-stat-svyaschennikami.html).
22. Kremlin Now Focusing on Pre-Schoolers to Promote Patriotism. Worried about the participation of young people in anti-government demonstrations, the Kremlin has stepped up its patriotic education programs for school and university-age youth; but now the Presidential Administration has acknowledged that it must intervene with children far earlier to ensure that they grow up loyal Russian citizens and has launched programs to reach pre-schoolers (iz.ru/607094/elena-ladilova/letom-eisi-zaimetsia-detskoi-politikoi-i-turizmom and profile.ru/economics/item/117944-patriotizm-dlya-samykh-malenkikh).
23. Kremlin Restores Soviet-Style Committee for Solidarity with Asia and Africa. The Russian government has restored the old Soviet committee for solidarity with Asian and African countries, a body that played a major role as a pass through and cover for Soviet involvement in the third world during the Cold War. The renewed group can be expected to do the same for Russians today (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59496A6FEE661).
24. Medvedev’s Plan for Building Arctic Islands Seen Creating New Opportunities for Corruption. Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement that Russia will follow China and create islands in the Arctic Sea is unlikely to work, experts say, but it will become a new center for corruption, allowing the government to hand over even more money to its cronies (newsland.com/community/6808/content/arkticheskie-ostrova-medvedeva-milliardy-na-dno-moria/5882132).
25. Baikal Water Begins Flowing to China. Despite Russian protests and fears of its implications, water from Russia’s sacred Lake Baikal has begun to flow to parched Chinese consumers. Moscow is getting paid, but the lake is now under ever-increasing pressure as a result (newsland.com/community/8171/content/pervuiu-partiiu-baikalskoi-vody-iz-buriatii-otpravili-v-kitai/5884943).
26. Dozens of Languages in Russia Under Threat of Extinction. Despite Moscow’s repeated insistence that no non-Russian language has died in the Russian Federation, UNESCO experts say that more than a dozen have and that more than four times that number are threatened with extinction in the coming decades (unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php).

And 12 more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:
1. Ethnic Kazakhs Often Feel Like Second-Class Citizens in Their Own Country. Because of the dominance of Russian speakers among them, ethnic Kazakhs who speak Kazakh often feel like second-class citizens in their own country (asiarussia.ru/blogs/16683/).
 2. Turkmenistan has Gone Further in Demolishing Soviet-Era Social Supports than Any Other Country. Although Turkmenistan remains extremely authoritarian, it has gone further in demolishing the social supports that had characterized the entire Soviet Union and thus has left its population not only with no influence on the state but few protections either (newsland.com/community/4489/content/turkmeniia-lider-v-demontazhe-sotsialnykh-zavoevanii-sssr/5877657).
3. Belarusian Foreign Ministry Agrees to Cooperate with Russian Counterpart on Social Network Messenging. The Belarusian foreign ministry will now work closely with the Russian one in putting out common messages on social networks, something that will make it easier for Moscow to spread its position and harder to trace back to the Russian side (camarade.biz/node/25888).
4. Despite Withering Away of Kyrgyz Abroad, Bishkek Opposes Re-Immigration. Many Kyrgyz communities outside of Kyrgyzstan such as the Kyrgyz of Afghanistan’s Pamir Region (24.kg/obschestvo/55351_pamirskie_kyirgyizyi_cherez_1015_let_oni_mogut_ischeznut/) are at the edge of extinction, but Bishkek opposes setting up a program for their repatriation because of the costs involved (centrasia.ru/news.php?st=1498110660).
5. Georgian Patriarch Proposes Restoring Monarchy. The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church has suggested restoring the monarchy in his country (newsland.com/community/7935/content/patriarkh-gruzii-predlozhil-podumat-o-konstitutsionnoi-monarkhii/5879865).
 6. Finnish Alcohol Tourists Shift from Estonia to Latvia. Tallinn’s decision to increase taxes and thus prices on alcohol has caused Finns who have long travelled there to drink or buy alcohol to shift their trips to Latvia (nr2.lt/News/Lithuania_and_Baltics/Finskie-alkoturisty-iz-Estonii-potyanulis-v-Latviyu-125665.html).
7. Kyiv Hosts Gay Pride Parade, Rejecting Homophobia. The Ukrainian government allowed an LGBT march to take place in its capital, thus underscoring its commitment to breaking away from the homophobia of Russia and many other post-Soviet states and its commitment to adopting European standards (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5948DDE990FA6).
8. Ukraine to Set Up Institute to Promote Country Abroad. Kyiv has announced that it is setting up a special institute which will be charged with promoting Ukraine in foreign countries (euromaidanpress.com/2017/06/21/ukraine-announces-launch-of-ukrainian-institute-to-represent-country-abroad/).
9. Ukrainians have Revolutions, Russians have Coups. A major difference between the two Slavic countries, some experts say, is that the population of Ukraine feels itself as the source of power in the country and thus is prepared to rise against its government, unlike in Russia where deference to state power is far greater (segodnya.ua/world/v-rossii-ukazali-na-razlichiya-mezhdu-rossiyanami-i-ukraincami-1032130.html).
10. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan Tighten Controls over Haj. Dushanbe has announced that it will permit only those of its citizens who are over 40 to go on the haj to Mecca (ansar.ru/rfsng/v-hadzh-tolko-posle-40-vlasti-vveli-novye-ogranicheniya), and Tashkent has announced that it is setting up a computerized data base to track those who make the Islamic pilgrimage and what they do afterwards (ansar.ru/rfsng/vseh-palomnikov-zaregistriruyut-onlajn).
11. Pictures Reveal Growing Contrast Between Estonian and Russian Border Cities. Many people say that it is inappropriate to compare Russian cities with those in any other country because of climatic conditions and other reasons, but pictures of Estonia’s Narva and Russia’s Ivangorod, two cities separated only by a river, quite similar in Soviet times, and both populated largely by ethnic Russians show just how different the two have developed under the very different conditions in the two countries since 1991 (newsland.com/community/4765/content/ivangorod-narva-evrosoiuz-na-tom-beregu/5883550).
12. Georgia Only Former Soviet Republic to Be Listed Among Top Ten Safest Countries. Despite problems, Georgia is today the only former Soviet republic now listed among the top ten safest countries for its citizens and visitors in the world (agenda.ge/news/81878/eng).Window on Eurasia — New Series: 17 Russian Regions Seek to Opt Out of Compatriots’ Resettlement ProgramPaul Goble Staunton, June 23 – Hard-pressed to meet their responsibilities under the unfunded liabilities Moscow has imposed on them in many areas, 17 federal subjects have applied to exit from the politically sensitive but often prohibitively expensive program to resettle Russian compatriots on their territories. Aleksandr Gorovoy, a deputy interior minister, told the Federation Council this week that the decisions of the regional governments reflected “not only economic problems such as the absence of housing and jobs but also about the demographic risks arising from the program” (polit.ru/article/2017/06/22/regions/). Natalya Zubarevich, director of regional programs at Moscow’s Independent Institute of Social Policy, tells Polit.ru that the actions of the regions reflect the difficult economic situation many of them are in. They don’t have the money to give these people what Moscow has promised, and they don’t need them as workers because there is no work. But Ilya Grashenkov, the director of the Moscow Center for the Development of Regional Policy, says there is another reason: the arrival of returning compatriots creates problems for regional officials because the program as defined by the center requires them to give these people preferences and advantages that they can’t give to their own people. That creates tensions that no regional leader needs, he says. What makes this action by 17 regions so important is that it constitutes a regional fronde of protest against the unfunded liabilities Moscow has been imposing on regional administrations in recent years and in an area which Vladimir Putin himself has indicated he takes a personal interest. If more regions join this protest or if various regions make similar demands to opt out of unfunded liabilities that Moscow has imposed, that has the potential to revive a certain fiscal federalism that Putin has done everything in his power to suppress. At the very least, it will create problems for the center that the Kremlin will be compelled to address.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Bryansk Parents Fighting Putin’s Closure of Rural Schools Paul Goble Staunton, June 23 – Parents in rural areas of Bryansk Oblast, long dismissed as part of the red rust belt and one of the most traditional and deferential places in the Russian Federation, are now fighting to save their schools from Moscow’s “optimization” program, something they say is nothing more than a euphemism for “closing” what are often the main centers of village life. Given the dying out of rural Russia in recent decades, with tens of thousands of villages now ghost towns across the country, it is no surprise that the government is closing schools where there are no people left, but its “creeping optimization” has now come to places where there are still residents – and Russian parents are responding with outrage and activism. When schools are closed, they say, their children often cannot get to the proposed alternative because they don’t have cars and there are no buses or even roads. One regional suggested these parents “home school” their children, an impossibility for most who work full time (takiedela.ru/2017/06/polzuchaya-optimizaciya/). According to Takiye Dela journalist Anastasiya Lotaryeva, this is turning the most improbably people into active protesters, who are taking to the streets, confronting local officials and writing appeals to Moscow leaders simply because they don’t know what else to do to ensure that their children get an education and their villages survive. One woman Lotaryeva met with pointed out that she “doesn’t’ have a driver’s license and goes everywhere exclusively by foot. I do not understand how my child will get to school.” The roads are terrible, there are no buses, and she herself works two jobs, having lost another one when she allowed her daughter to come to her workplace to wait after school. The regional and local authorities have tried a variety of schemes to force the closure of schools, the journalist says, seeking to declare their buildings unsafe and in no case informing the parents in advance of what will happen to their children after the school is closed. The authorities have been equally incommunicative with teachers. The parents are more active than the teachers, the journalist says, because the teachers have been told that they will lose their jobs if they complain. But as one of them noted, she is a parent too and thus should have the right to defend the interests of her child. That argument has been rejected by the authorities, Lotaryeva says. When the Takiye dela writer attempted to find out who was behind the closings, officials tried to pass the buck, blaming others and refusing to take any responsibility. But their comments showed that they are all part of the problem and that they have no intention of yielding to parents or teachers, however much the latter try to defend their schools. The number of school closings in Bryansk oblast has been massive: In 2013, 38 schools were closed, and in the following tow years, 18 more. A KPRF activist said he and the parents had tried to block these “optimizations” but without much success – they did save one school last year — even when teachers continued to hold classes in schools that had been closed down. Those resisting the school closings have become increasingly Internet savvy, posting online their appeals to Moscow and pointing out that there is no way for their children to get to alternative schools: “We have no buses, we have no stops, our roads are bad, just look at how many crosses there are alongside them.” And they add: “We do not agree with the decisions of the authorities, but we also understand that no one asked us” before they acted against our interests and those of our children.” And many of the villagers fear that thanks to Moscow’s policies, they too are being “’optimized’” and will soon cease to exist.

Seven Ways To Get Into Trouble In RussiaWriting a poem, posting pictures of your house online, and playing Pokemon Go can be risky in Russia. Authorities have found justifications to fine or jail people for taking part in all those activities. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)

Russia Urges Hepatitis Shots For All Travel To ‘Gay-ropa’The Russian government is urging everyone traveling to Europe to first get a vaccination against hepatitis-A. Russia's consumer-protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, issued the warning on June 2…

Russian Commission Rules Navalny Can’t Run For President Russian election officials have barred opposition leader Aleksei Navalny from participating in the March 2018 presidential election, citing a criminal conviction that Navalny has said was politicall…
Just A Dream? Embattled Russian Director Appeals To Audience To Prove Play Was PerformedThe head of an embattled Moscow theater has appealed to theatergoers to prove that a production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream was not, after all, just a dream. Gogo…

Aeroflot Stewardesses Continue Battle Against ‘Lookism’ Although courts of first instance have rejected their discrimination suits against the Russian national air carrier Aeroflot, aggrieved stewardesses Irina Iyerusalimskaya and Yevgenia Margurina hav…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Belarus Not Threatened by a Ukrainian Scenario: It has Its Own ‘Little Green Men,’ Ukrainian Analyst Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 23 – Belarus is not currently threatened by a Russian action like the one Moscow has carried out in Ukraine because Minsk has set up its own groups of “little green men” and the Kremlin knows that even if it moved troops into its western neighbor, it would not be able to control it, according to Igor Tyzhkevich. Indeed, the analyst at Kyiv’s Institute for the Future argues, Belarus is sufficiently well-protected that Ukrainians stop being nervous about the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 exercises and instead recognize that if Kyiv had taken the same steps Minsk has, Moscow would have failed in Crimea and the Donbass (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2017-06-21/ukraina-vernet-kryim-i-donbass-pri-odnom-uslovii—politolog-tyishkevich-o-plane-kremlya-i-voennoy-ugroze-iz-belarusi/12986). “Exercises in Belarus are a traditional scarecrow for the Ukrainian media,” Tyzhkevich says; but “for Belarus they aren’t dangerous.” That is because the Russians know that they could easily seize Belarus at almost any time, but “who would control” that country afterwards? The answer is far from clear. Belarusians are subject to “strong Russian information influence” and half or more “consider that Russia acted justly in taking Crimean from Ukraine. But when asked directly, “If Russia tried to take control over [Belarus] by military means, what would you do?” 17 to 24 percent say they would resist “with arms in their hands.” Even if the lower of these two figures is the case, it is far higher than what was true in Ukraine in 2014, the Kyiv analyst says. But there are two other reasons why Belarus is better equipped to resist, Tyzhkevich says. On the one hand, “over the last 15 years,” he says, Alyaksandr Lukashenka “has actively destroyed pro-Russian organizations and set to prison all those who have displayed any signs of treason.” And on the other, the Belarusian leader has “created special secret structures” to resist any Russian move, “including in particular a coordination council of commanders of special assignment forces.” These structures can deploy from 2,000 to 3,000 heavily-armed men “in two to three hours” and make any attempt at occupation by Russia very difficult if not impossible. Had Ukraine had something like that in 2014, the Kyiv analyst suggests, Moscow’s Anschluss of Crimea and its intervention in the Donbass would have been doomed to failure.

 


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


Russian Ancestry Overstretch – Again – To Inform is to Influence So much bullshit coming out of Moscow these days. Here is an official in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that Ivan the Formidable (Terrible) aka Ivan Grozny aka Ivan IV: His father was descended from Augustus Octavian. His mother was descended from Genghis Khan. A Google translation of what he says: The Cathedral…

More On Contrived Russian Lineage – To Inform is to Influence I wrote to a friend, yesterday, about the bogus claims by a senior Russian Foreign Ministry member. Here is his response, worthy of publishing. One final note, during my research, yesterday, for Russian Ancestry Overstretch – Again, I ran across a lot of DNA evidence, much more than I could possibly list here. Now that DNA technology is maturing, Russia can no longer claim a lineage to Augustus Octavian or Genghis Khan without DNA evidence. Written and verbal claims are quickly becoming meaningless without DNA testing. Russia’s claims are looking more hokey and contrived every day. Show us a haplogroup, show us Y-DNA and mtDNA evidence or keep your bullcrap to yourself.

Fake video of “Russians fighting ISIS” in Syria prepared for Putin by his General Staff The video that Russian President Vladimir Putin showed to American film director Oliver Stone in his latest documentary, The Putin Interviews, with a scene where allegedly Russian forces are attacking ISIS in Syria was prepared by one of the departments of the Main Operations Directorate of Russia's General Staff, according to the Russian news agency RBC referring to sources close to the Russian Defense Ministry and the Kremlin. News 23 June from UNIAN.

The Kremlin Is Standing By Footage of Russian Troops in Syria the Internet Says Is Fake – To Inform is to Influence This is just too precious. I recall seeing that video, among thousands, in the past 15 years but it is allegedly from 2013.  But it was good to see Stone and Putin fall for it.  The Moscow Times is taking a remarkable stand, showcasing information which may be damaging to the Putin administration.  This is even more remarkable as…

Russian App Founder Defies Kremlin Demand For Private Data Russian social networking entrepreneur Pavel Durov is defying a Russian government demand to hand over data and secrets of his encrypted-messaging service, saying the blocking of his app by th…

Our Information Warfare Against Russia Is Working – To Inform is to Influence The West is suffering from Russian Information Warfare efforts designed to sow chaos, undermine democracy, and promote Russian national interests. There have been widespread calls to counter Russian propaganda but few actual efforts by state or multi-state governments or defense organizations and none larger than a handful or two of worker bees. On this blog,…

How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument – To Inform is to Influence Citation: Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts. Forthcoming. “How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument.” American Political Science Review. Copy at http://j.mp/2ovks0q Download Citation (uncorrected) Article Proofs 643 KB Supplementary Appendix 363 KB Abstract: The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000…

Brutal Kangaroo is the CIA tool suite for hacking Air-Gapped Networks – To Inform is to Influence June 22, 2017  By Pierluigi Paganini WikiLeaks has published a new batch of Wikileaks documents that detail the Brutal Kangaroo tool suite for hacking Air-Gapped Networks. WikiLeaks has published a new batch of documents belonging to the Vault 7 leak, the last archive includes the documentation related to a tool dubbed Brutal Kangaroo used by the CIA for Microsoft…


Ukraine Reports


Defense agreements with the U.S. will contribute to decision on lethal weapons – Chaly – 24.06.2017 12:13 — Ukrinform News 24.06.2017 12:13. The agreements with the U.S. on signing of two agreements in the defense sphere will contribute to a political decision of the White House on granting Ukraine lethal weapons.

Three key U.S. ministers to visit Ukraine this year – Ambassador Chaly – 24.06.2017 12:47 — Ukrinform News 24.06.2017 12:47. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis&nbsp;and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry received an invitation to visit Ukraine in the near future.

Turchynov: Our main task to introduce European values, standards in lives of every Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov has said that the main task now is to introduce European values and standards in the lives of every Ukrainian, the NSDC's press service has reported. News 23 June from UNIAN.

President about the continuation of the European sanctions: Sanctions give an opportunity for Russia to start fulfilling the Minsk agreements — Official website of the President of Ukraine “There was a busy program today in Brussels. Today, the European Council will hold a session to adopt the decision to continue sanctions against Russia until the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, including its security component,” Petro Poroshenko informed in the briefing following the participation in the EPP Summit.

Exclusive: NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg to Visit Ukraine Within Weeks – YouTube It’s been announced that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Ukraine next month. That’s according to Alexander Vinnikov. He is the head of NAT…

Issue on technogenic catastrophe in Donbas to be raised at Ukraine-EU Committee meeting – Gerashchenko – 24.06.2017 12:32 — Ukrinform News 24.06.2017 12:32. Members of the European Parliament after a visit to Donbas will insist on consideration of the issue of ecology, a possible technogenic catastrophe of this region, at a meeting of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, which will be held in autumn in Ukraine.

French politicians to visit Donbas to “support Russian army being bombarded by Ukraine” -Euromaidan Press | A group of French local councilors started off from Marseille for Moscow on June 22. The politicians are going to illegally visit occupied Donetsk in the east of Ukraine to “support the Russian army constantly bombarded by Ukraine.” However, they forgot that Russia still didn’t admit its military presence in the eastern Ukraine. Three French local politicians from Bouches-du-Rhône county in southern France have kicked off their visit to Moscow to later illegally enter a Ukrainian region occupied by Russia. The group consists of the next politicians: Christian Borelli, a municipal councilor in Vitrolles, a commune in Bouches-du-Rhône department, southern France (the Republican party). Christiane Pujol, a departmental councilor of the Bouches-du-Rhône county, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur province. (Debout la France). She travels with her husband. Hubert Fayard, departmental president of the National Centre of Independents and Peasants party, municipal councilor in Coudoux, another commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department. The councilors wish to “support the Russian army constantly bombarded by Ukraine despite the Minsk agreements,”, in particular, to “provide material support to the orphans of war,” La Provence reported.

Militants launched 48 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 24.06.2017 11:25 — Ukrinform News 24.06.2017 11:25. Militants launched 48 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas over the past day.

Ukraine reports 48 enemy attacks, 2 WIA’s in last day | UNIAN Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 48 times in the past 24 hours, using banned artillery systems, with two Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 24 June from UNIAN.

OSCE SMM: Small-arms fire, explosions occur close to SMM in Zolote The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has recorded small-arms fire and explosions near the town of Zolote, Luhansk region, close to its patrol, according to an OSCE SMM report. News 24 June from UNIAN.

Ukraine to buy 10 new Oplot main battle tanks in 2018 | Defence Blog Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov to declare the government will buy at least 10 new Oplot main battle tanks in 2018. “In the state defence order for the next year, we now provide for a minimum of 10 “Oplot” tanks, so that already one subdivision is fully manned “, said Mr. Turchynov during a working visit to Kharkiv regions on June 23. In the Kharkiv region, the NSDC Secretary visited the state-owned Malyshev Machine-Building Plant, the Kharkiv-based Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau and take part in the expanded session of the Military Council of the National Guard of Ukraine. The Oplot main battle tank (MBT) is developed by Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau (KMDB) for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The MBT can destroy ground-based and low-flying, low-speed aerial targets, while offering superior protection and high mobility for troops. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence inducted the Oplot MBTs into service in 2009. In September 2011, the Royal Thai Army placed an order with Ukrainian arms trading company Ukrspetzexport for 49 Oplot-T MBTs.

Minister of Defense: restoration of military airfield in Artsyz will begin next year [Chervonoglinskaya AB] The Minister of Defense of Ukraine Army General Stepan Poltorak said that the restoration of the Chervonoglinskoye airfield in Artsiz in the Odessa region (which Dumskaya was already writing about these plans) will begin next year. “Design will begin in the near future, and from next year we will begin practical measures for restoration. Now we need this airfield, “Poltorak said during his visit to Artsiz. He added that the local population positively regards the creation and deployment of military units in their settlements. Recall, after almost 20 years ago Artsyz left the military, the entire territory of the air base – 840 hectares – moved to the city. Now I have to go through the reverse procedure. However, the Ukrainian Air Force the entire huge airfield, which in Soviet times used two powerful air regiments (fighter and military transport), is not needed. Now we are talking about putting in order an area of 380 hectares. The initial amount, which will be allocated from the state budget, will be only 5 million hryvnia. Now the only operator of Chervonoglinsky is the only agricultural company in the Odessa region, Albatros. She has six An-2 corncobs, which are sprayed over the fields with chemicals. Thanks to “Albatross” managed to keep the caponiers Chervonoglinsky, where there were fighters, transport aircraft and, according to rumors, chemical weapons were stored. The Chervonoglinsky airfield existed as an aviation command until 2003. In 1998, the 206th air base (737 fighter regiment) was located here.

Stepan Poltorak announced the restoration of the Artsyz airfield – YouTube“A decision was taken on the restoration of the Artsyz airfield,” – Gen. Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak. This was stated by the Minister of Defense while on a working trip to Artsyz of the Odessa region.Aircraft Modeling | Generation UA – YouTubeSince childhood, many people dream to fly by plane and even try to design primitive flying machines by themselves. And those who remain faithful to their chi…Modeling | Generation UA – YouTubeA beautiful, carefree life, crowds of fans – this is how a life of a model is perceived by many. It may seem that it’s “life on easy street”: you just pose i…
Remains of NKVD victims excavated in Lutsk, Volyn Oblast.

107 remains of political prisoners executed by NKVD found in old Lutsk prison (photos) -Euromaidan Press |Archeologists and researchers spent six days working on the exhumation of remains of Ukrainian prisoners executed by the NKVD* on 23-24 June, 1941 in Lutsk prison, Volyn Oblast. Excavation work was completed on June 18, 2017. NKVD – the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the leading Soviet secret police organization from 1934 to 1946. It is known for its political repression and implementation of the Great Purge under Joseph Stalin.
Nazi dreams of an enslaved Ukraine: the blind spot of Germany’s historical memory – Timothy Snyder -Euromaidan Press |Timothy Snyder On 22 June 2017, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, a discussion on Germany’s historical responsibility towards Ukraine was held in the German Parliament. The discussion was initiated by Marieluise Beck, the Speaker for Eastern Europe at Germany’s Green Party, featured a lecture by historian Timothy Snyder, and was followed by a discussion involving writers Jurko Prochasko and Katia Petrowska, historian Wilfried Jilge, and Marieluise Beck. Earlier, a discussion on the same topic was held in the Bundestag, during which Ms.Beck presented a draft resolution in support of Ukraine. We have transcribed the lecture of Timothy Snyder on Germany’s historical responsibility towards Ukraine. When we ask why historical responsibility, why German historical responsibility, I want to begin from the universal point of view.

Geographical distribution of Norse ( “Germanic”) Y-haplogroups I1 + I2 in Europe – NB gene pools in Ukraine and Yugoslavia qualify as more “Germanic” than Germany itself.

 


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Pentagon Says Russia Still Using Crisis Hotline To Avoid Clashes In Syria The U.S. military said on June 23 that a crisis hotline with Russia set up to avoid accidental clashes in Syria is still being used, despite Moscow's threat earlier this week to suspend it. …

Suicide bomber blows himself up as Saudis foil Mecca plot | Fox News A suicide bomber blew himself up near the Grand Mosque in Mecca as police disrupted a plot to target the holiest site in Islam just as the fasting month of Ramadan ends, Saudi security forces said Saturday.

Bomber planning to attack Mecca’s Grand Mosque blows himself up: ministry | Reuters Saudi security forces on Friday foiled a suicide attack on the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, cornering the would-be attacker in an apartment, where he blew himself up, the Interior Ministry said.

World reacts to foiled terrorist attack at Mecca’s Grand Mosque – Al Arabiya English Global condemnations have poured in following a foiled terror attack on Saudi Arabiarsquo;s Grand Mosque in Mecca on Friday. Security forces said the

Saudi-led demands not ‘reasonable or actionable’: Qatar | Qatar News | Al Jazeera Qatar reviewing document issued by Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries and preparing ‘an appropriate response’.

The Oil Glut Camouflages Some Vicious Black Swans – Bloomberg Gadfly Prices don’t reflect the growing chances of conflict and chaos.

America Must Confront Pakistan’s Support of Afghan-Based Terrorism | The National Interest As the Trump administration should consider creating new pressure points that raise the cost and pain level for Pakistan’s support of terrorism inside Afghanistan.


DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to North Korea | whitehouse.gov

North Korea decries “provocation and a political plot” related to Otto Warmbier’s death : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh In first official response to student’s death, North Korea says Warmbier’s passing after return to US is a “mystery” On June 23, the North Korean government released its first official response to the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student detained by the North who returned to the US in a coma and died just six days later. “There are a lot of groundless rumors in the US about Warmbier dying because he was tortured and beaten while doing hard labor. We gave him the best treatment until we sent him back to the US for humanitarian reasons considering his deteriorating health,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement by its spokesperson that was released on June 23. “The American doctors who came to North Korea to take Warmbier home examined him and shared their medical opinions about him with our doctors. After checking his pulse, his temperature, his breathing, and the results of his heart and lung examinations, [the American doctors] agreed that his vital signs were normal, and they acknowledged that we had saved him and treated him when his heart nearly stopped,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “The fact that Warmbier died suddenly not even one week after returning to the US with normal vital signs is a mystery to us as well.” “The US will have to figure out for itself why the US government (which claims to be so interested in the wellbeing of its citizens) did not even once request that Warmbier be released on humanitarian grounds during the Obama administration. Warmbier was a victim of the policy of strategic patience maintained by Obama, who rejected dialogue because of his extreme hostility and antipathy for us,” the spokesperson said. “Completely misrepresenting these facts, deliberately provoking criticism and commotion against the DPRK, and clamoring about pressure and retaliation against a state as dignified as ours represent an outright provocation and a political plot against us. Let us be clear: we are the greatest victim of this incident,” the spokesperson claimed. “The campaign of criticism against the DPRK that is being waged in the US is reinforcing our resolution not to use humanitarianism or generosity toward our enemies and to further sharpen the blade of the law. The US will have to reflect on the consequences of its rash deeds,” the spokesperson went on to say.

North Korea calls itself ‘biggest victim’ in death of Otto Warmbier North Korea has called itself the “biggest victim” in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma

Who Killed Otto Warmbier? – POLITICO Magazine Visiting North Korea can be safe. But the tour company that lost an American student made key mistakes, people on the trip say.

Professor: Otto Warmbier got ‘what he deserved’ WILMINGTON, Del. — People from all over the country are calling for a University of Delaware adjunct professor to be fired after she wrote on Facebook that Otto Warmbier “got exactly what he deserved” after being taken into custody by North Korea, falling into a coma and dying. On her personal Facebook page, Kathy Dettwyler, an anthropology professor, wrote Tuesday that Warmbier was “typical of a mindset of a lot of the young, white, rich, clueless males who come into my classes.” “These are the same kids who cry about their grades because they didn’t think they’d really have to read and study the material to get a good grade. … His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it’s Ottos’ parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives.”

Kathy Dettwyler – Wikipedia

HuffPost really doesn’t want to talk about its Otto Warmbier white-privilege piece – The Washington Post Though we did get a canned statement about it.

La Sha | HuffPost

Horrors of the Hermit Kingdom: Michael Kirby slams North Korea “Nothing in my previous 35 years as a judge in Australia had prepared me for the systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” of North Korea. These are the words this week of former High Court justice Michael Kirby, who was appointed by the UN four years ago to chair a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in the Hermit Kingdom. Kirby brought down his report on this “pitiless place” in 2015. The shocking death of 22-year-old American Otto Warmbier struck an especially powerful chord. In an address to the Sydney Institute this week, Kirby said that “in understated public testimony, available online, many of the 30,000 North Korean refugees now living in South Korea came forward to tell a horror story of what is going on in their country”. Warmbier, at the end of a five-day visit to North Korea organised by travel company Young Pioneer Tours, promoting trips to “the places your mother wants you to stay away from”, entered an off-limits staffroom at the Yanggakdo Hotel and souvenired a banner proclaiming undying loyalty to Great Leader Kim Jong-un. What was “doubtless conceived as a cheeky gesture”, said Kirby, ended in a “grossly excessive” sentence of 15 years’ hard labour, which turned out to be a death sentence. North Korea is “a land of ceaseless propaganda, of torture and inhuman treatment, of arbitrary arrest and detention, of public executions to which schoolchildren are brought to look and learn what happens to state enemies”. Family members are required to join those sent to detention camps “so as to rid society of their contagion”. The ordinary prisons of North Korea, Kirby concluded after two years of receiving evidence, are places of “extermination and murder, torture, rape and other grave sexual violence … conditions similar to enslavement … shocking shortages of food and hygiene … where crimes against humanity are a feature of daily life”.

Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on DPRK (North Korea is released in Geneva) | The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

‘Lessons Learned from the Inquiry into North Korea’ – The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG by The Lowy Institute Stream ‘Lessons Learned from the Inquiry into North Korea’ – The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG by The Lowy Institute from desktop or your mobile device

Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea | Human Rights Council Twenty-fifth session, UN [PDF] Systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its institutions and officials. In many instances, the violations of human rights found by the commission constitute crimes against humanity. These are not mere excesses of the State; they are essential components of a political system that has moved far from the ideals on which it claims to be founded. The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world. Political scientists of the twentieth century characterized this type of political organization as a totalitarian State: a State that does not content itself with ensuring the authoritarian rule of a small group of people, but seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens’ lives and terrorizes them from within.

The Shocking Story of How North Korea Beat the U.S. Army | The National Interest Blog This wasn’t supposed to happen.

How China’s cyber command is being built to supersede its U.S. military counterpart – To Inform is to Influence Chris Bing JUN 22, 2017 | CYBERSCOOP As U.S. leaders contemplate a proper definition for “cyberwar,” their counterparts in China have been building a unit capable of fighting such a large-scale conflict. China’s rival to U.S. Cyber Command, the ambiguously named Strategic Support Force (SSF), is quietly growing at a time when the country’s sizable military is…

Scientist gets time served for theft of military documents A scientist who pleaded guilty to taking sensitive documents from a Connecticut military contractor to his native China was sentenced on Thursday to 2 1/2 years in prison he has already served. Former United Technologies Corp. engineer Yu Long was sentenced in federal court in Hartford.

Has China developed the world’s most powerful submarine detector? | South China Morning Post Major breakthrough in magnetic detection technology brings unprecedented accuracy in finding metallic objects hidden deep underground and in the water, Shanghai scientists say


Foreign Policy Reports


Prime Minister of Poland: We need to think about strengthening of sanctions against Russia – 24.06.2017 14:52 — Ukrinform News 24.06.2017 14:52. Poland stands for the extension of sanctions against Russia and for their strengthening if it is necessary.

Vucic Inaugurated As Serbian President Serbia's new president, Aleksandar Vucic, has been formally inaugurated in a ceremony attended by many foreign leaders and dignitaries — and amid protests against what his critics describe as hi…

Putin Officially Launches Deep-Water Phase Of TurkStream Gas Pipeline Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated the deep-water phase of the TurkStream pipeline project that will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and eventually to the European Union. Putin on Jun…

Son Of Russian Spies Regains Canadian Citizenship After Long Struggle The son of Russian spies has regained his Canadian citizenship after a lengthy struggle under a Canadian court decision released on June 23. It is the latest twist in a spy saga that has spanne…


US Domestic Policy Reports


Anders Åslund on Twitter: “Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented & successful attack on American democracy. https://t.co/cj5HKKkhdv”

Trump: Obama ‘did nothing’ about Russia election meddling – CNNPolitics.com (CNN)President Donald Trump questioned former President Barack Obama’s response to Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election in an interview airing Sunday morning, saying Obama didn’t do enough to address the situation. “Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it,” Trump said in an excerpt of his interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” released Friday. “But nobody wants to talk about that.” “The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even — before the election,” Trump said. “And I hardly see it. It’s an amazing thing. To me, in other words, the question is, if he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.” The President also tweeted his concerns Friday night.

Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault – To Inform is to Influence This is a great compilation that draws linkages across a timeline. Consider me impressed. Washington Post reveals that Obama administration had a covert plan for punishing Russia for interference in the US election: “Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could…

Former Obama intelligence official: Russian hack ‘the political equivalent of 9/11’ – To Inform is to Influence For almost a decade we’ve been screaming about influence attacks and cyber attacks against the US, but the Obama administration did nothing. Finally, the inaction is being raised into daylight after eight years of active ignorance, purposefully not being addressed, and raising issues of much lesser importance to the forefront. Now we are seeing how it…

Former Obama intelligence official: Russian hack ‘the political equivalent of 9/11’ | TheHill Former President Barack Obama’s top intelligence official at the Pentagon said Saturday that the Russian interference in the 2016 elections was “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Michael Vickers, who served as Obama’s undersecretary of defense, said in an interview with NBC News that there’s little evidence of a response from the Trump administration to protect the next election. “This attack is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious,” Vickers said. “The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had,” he continued. “I don’t see much evidence of a response.” The Trump administration disputes the claim that it is doing nothing to secure America’s voting systems. In a statement to NBC News, one U.S. official said that the White House is responding in ways “some you’ll see, some you won’t see…You certainly don’t want to telegraph your moves.” In a separate interview on Saturday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told MSNBC the CIA has “heightened emphasis on our ability to stop” Russian hacking attempts in the face of recent threats. On Friday, the Trump administration seemed to acknowledge Russian efforts to influence the election after months of denials. In a tweet on Friday, Trump attacked Obama for doing “nothing about it” last year while the election was still ongoing. ADVERTISEMENT “The Obama administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?” Trump asked followers on his personal Twitter account. Trump also mentioned Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election in a Fox and Friends interview that aired Friday. “Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that,” Trump said in the interview. “The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even — before the election. And I hardly see it. It’s an amazing thing,” Trump added.

Report: CIA Told Obama in August 2016 That Putin Ordered Election Interference The Washington Post is reporting that the CIA informed U.S. President Barack Obama in August 2016 that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in a cybercampaign to interfere in the U….

Vladimir Putin gave direct instructions to help elect Trump, report says – CBS News A report Friday morning claims Russian President Vladimir Putin gave direct instructions to help elect Donald Trump president. According to a Washington Post investigation, former President Obama received a secret CIA report in August. That report “captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives – defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.” CBS News confirmed last year that U.S. intelligence officials knew that the Russian government operation to interfere in the U.S. election had been approved by Putin himself, but they were reluctant to reveal how much they knew out of concern that sources and methods could be compromised, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.

Frustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response | TheHill The Obama administration is under fresh scrutiny for its response to Russian meddling in the election after new details emerged this week about how the White House weighed its actions against the 2016 political environment. Then-President Obama was too cautious in the months leading up to the election, frustrated Democratic lawmakers and strategists say. “It was inadequate. I think they could have done a better job informing the American people of the extent of the attack,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who co-chairs the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. And even after the election was over, they say, the penalties Obama levied were too mild to appropriately punish what by all accounts was an unprecedented attack on a U.S. election. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), another House Intelligence member, called the penalties “barely a slap on the wrist.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who supports tougher sanctions Russia, said in a statement Friday that the administration “abjectly failed to deter Russian aggression” and “failed to impose any meaningful costs on Russia.” Some Republicans argue the Obama administration only started to take the Russia threat seriously after President Trump had won the election. Trump has called the influence operation a “hoax” and dismissed the various inquiries into Russian interference in the election — which include looking for possible collusion between his campaign and Moscow — as a “witch hunt.” “By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Vladimir Putin & Russian Election Interference: American Incompetence & Weakness Helped It Succeed | National Review A new report makes clear the profound ineptitude of our response to Russia’s interference in the election. This morning, the Washington Post published a lengthy account of the Obama White House’s internal response to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 elections. It’s worth reading for the drama alone — including details of secrecy measures not seen since the Osama bin Laden raid, anguished internal debates over the proper American response, and after-the-fact regrets that more was not done to punish Russia and highlight its efforts during the campaign. Throughout, there is a palpable sense that maybe, just maybe, if the Obama administration had reacted differently, Hillary Clinton would be president now. But then, Vladimir Putin has been incredibly fortunate to butt up against the most unworthy of adversaries: Clinton, Obama, and Donald Trump are the gifts that just kept on giving. In the long history of foreign-intelligence operations, has greater disruption ever been achieved for less effort? Russia, a much weaker military and economic power, threw the politics of the world’s most powerful nation into bitter chaos merely by hacking into poorly protected e-mail accounts and boosting “fake news” into social-media feeds. Yet spreading gossipy private communications and misinformation in a super-saturated media environment could hardly cause an electoral crisis. Russia didn’t hack voting machines. It didn’t alter voter rolls. It didn’t disrupt Election Day. It just made Americans lose their minds. Does anyone really think that Russia’s actions were more decisive to Trump’s victory than, say, Clinton’s decision to set up a homebrew e-mail server, her family’s decision to turn their charitable foundation into a gigantic influence-peddling scheme, her campaign’s missteps, or her decades of scandals and flip-flops? Vladimir Putin couldn’t possibly undermine the Democratic nominee more than she undermined herself. As for Obama, where does one begin? The Post story reads like one long summary of his failed foreign policy. Our enemies act, he anguishes, and they win: Throughout his presidency, Obama’s approach to national security challenges was deliberate and cautious. He came into office seeking to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was loath to act without support from allies overseas and firm political footing at home. He was drawn only reluctantly into foreign crises, such as the civil war in Syria, that presented no clear exit for the United States. Obama’s approach often seemed reducible to a single imperative: Don’t make things worse. As brazen as the Russian attacks on the election seemed, Obama and his top advisers feared that things could get far worse. Such a mindset guarantees that our foes will always have the upper hand. It meant that Russia could act, and Obama would simply try to contain the damage. Putin invades and conquers foreign territory in Ukraine?

Russian hacking hearings: 6 takeaways – To Inform is to Influence Testimony by my friend, Dr. Sam Liles. </end editorial> Washington (CNN) Both sides of the Capitol on Wednesday heard from experts about the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, with officials for the first time revealing how many states’ election-related systems were targeted by Russian hackers. But though the government disclosed that 21 states…

This, Right Here. This Is Where Obama Choked. The Obama administration withheld the fact that the Russians were hacking the election in order to help elect Donald Trump

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and the Future of the Liberal World Order – The Atlantic The president’s policies in office have aligned almost perfectly with Vladimir Putin’s goals.

With Putin, Trump faces his most complicated meeting yet – CNNPolitics.com Washington (CNN)Inside the capacious Hamburg Messe conference hall next month, President Donald Trump will come face-to-face with the man whose shadow has darkened much of his presidency: Vladimir Putin. The two men have not met in person since Trump entered office five months ago under a cloud of suspicion about his campaign’s ties to Russia. Trump has yet to raise the issue of election meddling with the man who US intelligence officials say personally ordered and closely monitored attempts to influence last year’s presidential contest in Trump’s favor. And while both the White House and the Kremlin say there have been no formal preparations for sit-down talks, there’s little doubt among officials in both countries that Trump and Putin will interact when they both attend the Group of 20 talks, held this year in the northern German city at the beginning of July. On the sidelines of last year’s G20, Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama confronted Putin over the cyberhacking, but the damage had largely been done. This year, Trump will find himself under pressure to raise the issue again — but had shown few signs that he’s willing to accuse Putin of taking steps that were meant to help him win the presidency.

Elizabeth Warren sounds alarm: Cautions Democrats on infighting | Boston Herald U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried to rally beleaguered Democrats at a town hall in Lowell last night, decrying the party’s woeful track record in recent special elections saying it “sucks” to keep losing to the GOP.“I get it,” said Warren, answering a question about what can be done to remove…


US may forgo using EW capabilities if coalition tech isn’t compatible In a high-end fight, the U.S. might opt out of using high-tech gear if a partner’s capability is not on the same level, according to the DoD’s deputy director of electronic warfare.Army working to develop departmentwide EW strategyThe Army is working on an electronic warfare strategy for the entire department.

Attack! The Renaissance of the Air Force Tribe  “Fighter pilots make movies, attack pilots make history.” Navy A-6 community motto, made famous by Flight of the Intruder “ATTACK!” A statement, written i….

 

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