Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 2 July 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The most curious report today is Sergei Lavrov admitting publicly that Russia invaded Donbass, arguing that  “If we disowned the [ethnic] Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine after the organizers of an unconstitutional armed coup d’etat, backed from abroad, first announced their ban on many things … If we did not, we would betray our civilization”, yet remaining mired in the delusion that the “Russian World” is a “civilisation” rather than a propaganda construct, and stubbornly believing the findings of Glazyev’s dubious if not bogus opinion survey of public attitudes that was the justification for Novorossiya invasion campaign. Excellent OpEd by Sandy Vershbow, and Mikhelson’s essay on Russian imperial thinking is a must read, providing good historical depth in a format even the most obstinate Western MSM editor cannot ignore. Historian Dvurechensky ponders what is best for Russia, in a Youtube polemic, whether “disintegration, turmoil or revolution”?  Inozemtsev nicely articulates the previously observed, which is that the Putin regime is inciting xenophobic hatred and a siege mindset in Russia in an attempt to maintain cohesion as the nation sinks into the abyss. Komarov’s comparisons between Communism and Russian [State centric] Orthodoxy are very nice indeed, capturing the medieval nature of how too many Russians relate to the world. Khakimov’s critique of forced assimilation, Russification, pan-Slavism and other ideologically driven constructs intended to increase cohesion, yet achieving the opposite, is very good. Prof Goble’s “A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 89” presents a sobering chronicle of Russia’s social meltdown, and the inane policy choices of the Putin regime, exacerbating problems the regime cannot address. Two reports on the shameless manner in which the Russian government disowns veterans, and the dependents of military and security personnel lost in action, denying lawful benefits and pensions, requiring many families to sue to get paid what is due to them by law. Russia chops 94 percent of the planned budget for the much promoted Artic military and civil infrastructure program.

Taking a perspective view, “disintegration, turmoil or revolution” are becoming increasingly probable outcomes for Russia, as the petrodollar subsidies are gone possibly for decades, and attempting further invasions on a larger scale than their botched Donbass campaign will accelerate the process of self-destruction, although not before such a campaign kills and displaces people on a scale not seen since WW2. Yet almost every choice Russia has made domestically and in foreign policy suggests total blindness to the mess the regime manoeuvred the country into when it turned overtly rogue in early 2014. The Fuhrerbunker mindset of this regime is positively frightening, as they indulge in delusional fantasies of Imperial grandeur from the distant past. There is a real danger the regime will try to invade somebody in coming months, as it seems unable or unwilling to think critically about adverse outcomes from ill-considered choices.

Two excellent postings by Harding on obfuscation methods, and validating video content.

In Ukraine, Donbass fires continue. Most interesting are four reports from inside Donbass, depicting some ugly realities – Tymchuk commenting on how occupied Donbass residents now detest Russia, but detest Ukraine almost as much; Russian authorities turning Donbass denizens away from the border as they are unwanted in Russia, and two reports on how the Russians deceitfully report KIA and WIA losses as civilian victims of Ukrainian bombardment, or civilian accident victims, respectively, while continuing the 2014 practice of denying families due payments and benefits, as discharge paperwork is retrospectively changed so the KIA were no longer in uniform when killed. Italian police arrest a Ukrainian officer visiting on vacation on the basis of what the Ukrainians argue to be bogus Russian paperwork claiming complicity in killing an Italian journalist – if the Italian police have been duped, it would be a major win for the Russian lawfare campaign against Ukraine, and embarrassment for Italy in the global MSM.

ISIS collapse is stimulating a lot of MSM traffic. A disturbing video emerges showing Russian Spetsnaz torturing a Syrian prisoner, while allegations emerge that Lebanese troops are mistreating civilians.

Hong Kong remains dominant WESTPAC topic.

Pothier essay on Macron’s approach to Russia is good reading – Macron, and the French previously, have been simply far too subtle in dealing with the Putin regime – being subtle and well mannered is read as being weak in a culture obsessed with games of escalation and posturing.

Interesting report on Sekora critique of a lack of sound strategy in the US for competing with China – good argumentation, but he does not articulate the need for more strategic thinkers with STEM backgrounds in policy making areas. China’s strategy is exactly the latter.


Russia / Russophone Reports


Lavrov admitted the participation of the Russian Federation in the war against Ukraine: “If we had not done this, we would have betrayed our civilization” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov justifies military intervention in Ukraine by threatening the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, which allegedly arose after the events of 2013-2014. According to Tsenzor.NET, he announced this at the second International Scientific and Expert Forum Primakov Readings in Moscow, June 30, the transcript of which was published on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry. In response to a question about Russia’s inability to make compromises in international politics, Lavrov replied: “It all depends on who looks at this or that situation.” I do not know if the political science community perceives that we are “not playing in our own league.” I’ve read and still hear criticism that we were in vain engulfed in the conflict in the Donbass, in the Syrian conflict. ” Then Lavrov continued to justify military intervention in Ukraine by threatening the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, which allegedly arose after the events of 2013-2014. “If we disowned the [ethnic] Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine after the organizers of an unconstitutional armed coup d’etat, backed from abroad, first announced their ban on many things … If we did not, we would betray our civilization,” – said the Russian Foreign Minister.

Lavrov on Donbas war: “I heard criticism of our decision to join the fight” Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov has unintentionally admitted Russia's involvement in the Donbas war in eastern Ukraine. “Everything depends on who looks at this or other situation,” he said at the Primakov Readings International Forum in Moscow on June 30, 2017, when asked about whether it is true that Russia always preferred the risk of defeat to compromise. “I don’t know whether the political community thinks that we are playing in the wrong league. I have read and heard much criticism regarding our decision to join the fight in Donbass and in Syria. But you should probably look at each given nation comprehensively.” The transcript of Lavrov’s Q&A session is available on the ministry’s website.  This slip of the tongue was brought to notice by journalists in social media. “Yep. Lavrov really said that,” Julian Ropcke of Germany’s Bild tweeted.”Tectonic shift: Russia’s Lavrov admits that Russia is at war with Ukraine in the Donbas region,” investigative journalist, reporter and Russian media monitor and analyst Julia Davis wrote on Twitter. Then Lavrov continued justifying military intervention in Ukraine by an alleged threat to Russian-language residents in the country, which, according to his words, emerged after the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014. Russia is known for backing up fighters against Ukraine, supplying weapons and equipment. However, the Russian authorities do not acknowledge Russia is a party to the conflict and do not guarantee the fulfillment by the Russian-controlled separatists of the Minsk peace agreements on Donbas.

Amb. Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow | Memo to President Trump: After Poroshenko, seek a diplomatic breakthrough in Ukraine | TheHill The Trump administration seems to have figured out that the road to better relations with Russia goes through Ukraine. Relations took a turn for the worse when Russia tried to demolish the international rules-based order with its illegal annexation of Crimea and its undeclared war in Eastern Ukraine. Repairing and normalizing relations will only be possible when Russia reverses its aggression. President Trump took an important first step by meeting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the Oval Office last week, before seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg. The president was able to hear first-hand how Ukraine is moving ahead with its reforms despite having to devote over five percent of its GDP to the war effort. The war continues despite Russia and Ukraine signing the so-called Minsk ceasefire agreement almost three years ago. Russian and proxy forces continue violating the Minsk ceasefire on a daily basis with almost complete impunity, raining down artillery and rocket attacks and inflicting significant civilian casualties. Against this backdrop, the president and his team discussed ways to deepen U.S. support for Ukraine, and they made clear that sanctions on Russia will remain in force until Moscow ends its aggression and restores Eastern Ukraine to Kyiv’s control. As he prepares for his European trip, the president should move quickly to build on this success. He should try to jump-start stalled diplomatic efforts aimed at finally delivering the Minsk Agreements and securing a permanent ceasefire and Russian withdrawal from Eastern Ukraine. The situation couldn’t be more urgent. Diplomatic efforts, led by Germany and France in the so-called Normandy Format, have kept things from getting worse, but lack the means to alter Putin’s calculus. Unless it faces additional pressure, Russia will have no incentive to de-escalate its military attacks or negotiate seriously on implementing the Minsk agreements. To create the much-needed leverage before he meets with Putin, President Trump should use his visit to Warsaw on July 6, just before the G-20, to announce that he is launching a major effort to end the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Warsaw would be an ideal venue, given Poland’s long-standing support for Ukraine’s freedom and independence, and its vital defense role along NATO’s Eastern flank in deterring Russian aggression. The president’s initiative could begin with the appointment of a high-level special envoy to reinforce the diplomatic efforts of Ukraine, Germany and France. The envoy’s role would be to work with all the stakeholders to secure full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and to engage directly with the Kremlin officials who call the shots in Eastern Ukraine. To strengthen the hand of the special envoy, the president should announce that he is seeking Congressional support to provide Ukraine with additional defensive weapons (such as counter-battery radars, armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons, secure communications gear, and reconnaissance drones) as well as training and intelligence support. The weapons package would be aimed at reducing Ukraine’s casualties, deterring further Russian attacks and promoting a political solution, rather than escalating the conflict. In addition, the president could declare his support for the Senate sanctions legislation, and indicate that he would welcome Congressional authority to tighten sanctions even further if Russia continues to block a political solution. He could call on our European Union partners to work with his administration on a new sanctions package that could be applied if negotiations bog down. Needless to say, with Russian attacks intensifying, now is not the time to ease any of the sanctions unilaterally. In his meeting with president Putin, the president could then offer Russia a simple choice: get serious about a negotiated solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which would reduce Russia’s international isolation and open the way to an easing of sanctions; or face a more difficult future. By engaging in negotiations with Moscow from a position of strength, president Trump could succeed where previous efforts have failed in overcoming the biggest threat to peace and stability in Europe. He could dispel, once and for all, the suspicions that have paralyzed his administration’s policy toward Russia by honoring the US commitment to Ukraine’s freedom and security. And he could begin a process of normalizing relations with Russia. Ambassador Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow, is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, and formerly the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Assistant Secretary of Defense, and U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Russia, and South Korea.

Meaningfully deterring Russia is NATO’s best option for European security -Euromaidan Press | Marko Mihkelson In Western official discourse, NATO-Russia relations are often analyzed by wishful thinking rather than by accepting realities. It is natural that the defense alliance is vocal in making it clear – we are not threatening Russia and would like to have a trustful dialogue. Moreover, dialogue as a tool is productive only as long as both sides care about it. Russia does not. Their long term strategy is to undermine NATO’s unity. We have to understand that the only possible way to achieve a dialogue with Russia is through credible deterrence. NATO Warsaw Summit was a solid step in the right direction. In order to understand the seriousness of the long-term challenge posed by Putin’s Russia to NATO, we have to look into Russia’s history. It quickly becomes clear that Putin’s leadership is nothing more than just a continuation of Russian traditional way of perceiving the world. To be an empire is Russia’s DNA. Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin predicted the failure of the Communist project nearly half a century in advance, and stressed that “with each attempt to divide Russia and after each disintegration it restores itself again by the mysterious ancient power of its spiritual identity.” It is in no way surprising that, immediately after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the passing of the first shock, Moscow began consistent activities toward restoring the lost influence. To a skilled eye, it was clear already in the beginning of the 1990s that Russia is attempting to draw a clear borderline between its primary sphere of influence and the rest of the world through the “near-abroad” policy. The near-abroad essentially equaled to the territories of the lost empire. Already in 1992, a shocking warning from Moscow hit many Western diplomats. On 14 December 1992, the annual meeting of Foreign Ministers of the CSCE took place in Stockholm. The then 41-year-old Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev was by nature the counterpart of a through and through Western-minded Russian diplomat or politician. President Yeltsin had appointed him as the Russian Foreign Minister already in October 1990 when the Soviet Union with its giant diplomatic machinery was still in place.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Talks about Russophobia in West to Force Russians to Unite Behind Putin, Inozemtsev Says Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – Westerners carefully distinguish between Russians and the Russian state, showing sympathy to the former and concern about the behavior of the latter, the kind of distinction even Stalin made between the Nazis and the German people but one the Putin regime does not instead exploiting the basest nationalistic feelings, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. In an RBC commentary, the Moscow economist and analyst writes that the Russian government is “teaching Russians to be afraid of the surrounding world and therefore politicians in Moscow tell tales how people in this world hate Russians” (rbc.ru/opinions/politics/28/06/2017/59539f189a7947230ea53eb7). “In my view,” Inozemtsev says, “such rhetoric discredits the Russian political class by demonstration both the low level of understanding of what is taking place today in the world and a general inadequacy of the [Russian] political elite which is living in a reality invented by itself” rather than in real reality. Everyone must remember, he continues, that “the term ‘Russophobia’ refers precisely to Russians … and not to the Russian state.” But the Kremlin wants to conflate the two in order to force Russians to think that the West opposes them and not just the policies of Putin and his entourage. Any Russian who have travelled or lived abroad can confirm that ordinary people in the West are not hostile to the Russian people. Indeed, many of them are extremely sympathetic. What they are hostile to is the aggressive actions and statements of Putin and his team, moves that they quite reasonably see as a threat to the world and “are beginning to fear.” The distance between these two views, about the Russian people and the Russian state, is so great that many Russians who have do not distinguish between rulers and ruled, a failure that helps the Kremlin keep them in line and supporting whatever the leadership chooses to do, regardless of how outrageous. By talking about Russophobia in the West, Inozemtsev argues, “the Russian authorities are appealing to the lowest most nationalistic feelings of their own citizens: they are attempting to show that the West does not oppose Russia politically and ideologically but almost has given rise again to ‘the Slavic-hating’ times of the Third Reich.” Of course, he continues, “it would be naïve to deny that many peoples relate to the Russian people with distrust and suspiciousness.” How else would one expect the peoples of the Baltic countries or Poland to feel given their histories? But even in these cases, the situation is far from that described by the Kremlin. “Latvia, one of the most ‘Russophobic’ countries according to the Kremlin, is the absolute champion in terms of retaining the fraction of ethnic Russians in its population: In 1989, Russians formed 33.9 percent; by 2014, they had fallen to 27.3 percent, while in extremely friendly and ‘non-Russophobic’ Kazakhstan, the Russian share fell from 37.8 percent to 20.6.”

What is better for Russia: revolution, turmoil or disintegration? The well-known historian Oleg Dvurechensky argues on topical issues: He is right that Russia is now at the fork of disintegration, turmoil or revolution. And that a revolution is needed to save the country, despite the fact that the Putin regime leads us to disintegration or confusion.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Eight Reasons Why Russian Communism and Russian Orthodoxy are So Easily Interchangeable Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – Many people are surprised and others are alarmed that Russian Orthodoxy and Communism are so “easily interchangeable,” but Moscow blogger Yury Komarov says they shouldn’t be because the two share many features, the result of the Bolsheviks’ adaptation of Orthodox customs after 1917 to win over the population. As a result, he says, “the format of both cults” is remarkably similar, even though one is atheistic and the other religious” because both “however paradoxical this may sound are both at the beginning and the continuation of each other.” And that means that a society which initially follows one can easily shift to the other later (publizist.ru/blogs/34/19303/-). Komarov lists eight similarities between the two which allow individuals to move from one to the other with far less difficulty than many might expect:
· First, both have saints, a large number of individuals who must be deferred to, a hierarchy of such people, and organizations that in each case are beyond question.
· Second, both promote a cult of martyrdom, of deep respect for those who died for their faith. Neither shows particular respect for the living, however; and both require continuing sacrifices because of their respective promises for good in some future time.
· Third, both enshrine this “metaphysical” quality in symbols such as the cross for the Orthodox and the five-pointed star for the communists.
· Fourth, both reject immediate material well-being. Each calls on its followers to sacrifice his immediate needs for the future of the ideology, even if the party leaders or the church hierarchs ignore and are known to ignore this principle.
· Fifth, both have to engage in a struggle with those who disagree and are inclined to totalitarianism. Any cult religious or civil that doesn’t defeat those who question it is doomed. And that in turn leads both of them to ever more radical tactics against their opponents. “In some cases, this is repression; in others, inquisition.”
 · Sixth, both promote feelings of guilt and responsibility. The Orthodox Church “cultivates a sense of guilty forcing parishioners to consider themselves sinful” and in debt to Christ; the communists do the same with Lenin and the party.
· Seventh, both promote a cult of those who have died, a direct result of the cult of martyrdom. Neither “ever cultivated one of the living but always was distinguished by fanaticism in respect for those who died for the motherland or for the faith.
· Eighth, both promote the idea that there are holy places that are sacred.
Thus “we see,” Komarov concludes, “that religion and communism have interchangeable formats” and people can thus move quickly from one to the other. And that explains something else: the communists had to try to root out religion precisely because it was so similar just as the Orthodox had tried to do with communism. Thus, Orthodox Russians remarkably quickly became communist Soviets after 1917, and many communists, no less easily, “again adopted Orthodoxy immediately after the fall of the USSR.” For them, “the code of the builder of communism and Christian teachers are two variants of a single text.” And as a result, they can “replace Lenin with Christ and Christ with Lenin — without that having any terrible consequences in their consciousness.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Russians May Assimilate Many Ethnic Groups, But Peoples Don’t Disappear,’ Khakimov Says Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – “The ideology of the supremacy of one nation over another leads to fascism,” Rafael Khakimov says, “but calls for the fusion of nations in a communist or capitalist paradise are just as pernicious for the peoples in favor of a single ephemeral nation” and must be opposed. Unfortunately, the distinguished Tatar historian and former advisor to that republic’s president says, dominant nations often insist that “we are all people and there is no reason to stress nationality” and so any “ethnic minority” is compelled to “stress the opposite” in order to survive (business-gazeta.ru/article/350299). But tragically, in Russia today, “one can speak as much and as long as one likes about the greatness of the ethnic Russian people, but God forbid you praise the Tatars because you will immediately be accused of separatism.” But equally dangerous to the minorities are not those who sing praises to the Russian nation but those who are promoting a civic Russian nation. The leader of that latter camp is Valery Tishkov, former Russian nationalities minister and former head of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Tishkov says. “For Tishkov, a nation is a semantic-metaphorical category,” something that can be “constructed with the help of administrative power.” “It isn’t clear,” however, Khakimov continues, “how this will be combined with already existing nations be they Chechens or Tatars, and even ethnic Russians are not hurrying to become [civic] Russians” of the kind Tishkov wants to promote. In short, he sees peoples and nations as “the result of the work of politicians.” “But history speaks about the reverse,” the Tatar historian says. “The state is one of the forms of the life of peoples.” “Americans tried to create a new people out of migrants” via the melting pot. And it is certainly the case, Khakimov says, that they achieved a great deal. “Nevertheless, in the US there has been a countervailing reaction in which people suddenly began to seek their roots, it would seem on an empty place, in the third or fourth generation of real Americans.” “There have appeared Hispanic American, Italo-English and so on schools. The Irish mark St. Patrick’s Day. The Scots in the US mark their holidays accompanied by parades in the streets of New York. The Italians everywhere open restaurants of ‘Little Italy,’ and the Chinese occupy whole districts as China towns.” And what is most important is that Americans “clearly distinguish who is Irish, Italian or Polish by origin.” And so now people talk not about a melting pot but about “a salad” or “a mosaic of cultures,” in which “each culture preserves its own distinctive charaacteristics alongside a combined American culture.” That experience should be instructive for Russia, and people should recognize that “ethnic Russians have been able to assimilate many ethnic groups, but peoples nonetheless have not disappeared.” Tsarist prime minister Stolypin “understood the uselessness of immediate assimilation and Christianization of Muslims and chose instead the path of dividing the Tatars into separate peoples which turned out to be a more effective policy although it did not solve the main task of transforming the peoples of the country into ethnic Russians.” Pan-Slavism did not work in this regard either. Neither Ukrainians nor Belarusians wanted to play. And “experiments with ‘soviet’ and ‘Yugoslav’ peoples also did not give the desired results” because “with the slightest democratization of the political system, they fell apart into independent and even hostile nations.” Present-day Russian politicians want to try “the mechanism of the melting pot,” but not the liberal version on offer in the US but a much harsher one that will eliminate minority nations altogether by forcing them to re-identify. But these “assimilators” will achieve nothing. “They in the ‘best’ case will give birth to mankurts.” “Deprived of historical memory,” as Chingiz Aitmatov defined the mankurt, “the individual is transformed into one of Academician Pavlov’s dogs and lives by reflexes. Without an ethnic milieu, the socialization of a human being cannot occur. An individual recognizes the human in him only by looking at another person and having contact and general interests with him. This is called ethnicity.” “Is it possible for an individual without ethnic markers to be considered human in the full sense of the worse, that is, as a personality? Of course, even a mankurt is not an animal, but you wouldn’t call him a human either.” When he landed on the island, Robinson Crusoe was “already socialized.” But “isolated from other people, a child will not become a personality,” as the story of Mowgli shows. And “the language of robots, machine language, has a syntax but again does not have a semantics.” That requires a culture, “and correspondingly an ethnicity.” “We are not mankurts or robots,” the Tatar historian says; and we must not allow anyone to reduce us to that status.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 89 Paul Goble Staunton, June 30 — 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 89th 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 Isn’t Taking a Vacation This Year. The Kremlin has announced that Vladimir Putin won’t be taking a vacation this year because of his enormous responsibilities (kp.ru/online/news/2790428/). Among them are trips abroad where he cannot control the outcomes and travel within Russia where his apparatus is working to ensure that there won’t be any problems. Residents of Izhevsk for example have been told not to open windows or go on their balconies while Putin is in town (echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/2008286-echo/). In addition, he appears to be working on his reelection campaign, one in which a few decisions have been announced: The Kremlin plans to run him on a program of trust and respect with few new policies announced, even though Russians increasingly say they support him even though he isn’t doing what he promises in some key areas (newsland.com/community/politic/content/rbk-v-kremle-uzhe-nachali-gotovitsia-k-pereizbraniiu-a-aktsent-budet-na-uvazhenie-i-doverie/5886409 and topwar.ru/118913-proekt-zz-treschina-v-soznanii-u-my-doveryaem-no-on-ne-boretsya-s-korrupciey.html). Quotations from Putin are now going up in Moscow subways but they aren’t going to be featured at least anytime soon in the regions (echo.msk.ru/blog/varlamov_i/2005754-echo/ and polit.ru/news/2017/06/26/er/).
2. Trumpism has Same Roots as Islamist Terrorism – People’s Desire for Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems, Writer Says. A commentator for Kyiv’s Delovaya stolitsa says that the roots of Trumpism in the United States and ISIS in the Islamic world are the same, the desire of many people for simple solutions to complicated problems (dsnews.ua/world/-islamskiy-terrorizm-yavlenie-togo-zhe-poryadka-chto-pobeda-21062017220000).
3. Fourteen Million Russians Don’t Have Enough Money Even for Food. There are now 22 million people in Russia living in poverty, 15 percent of the total population and seven million more than five years ago (https://rufabula.com/news/2017/06/29/poverty highest in eight years (ng.ru/omics/2017-06-26/1_7015_bednost.html and charter97.org/ru/news/2017/6/28/254619/). And two-thirds of these people are really poor because they do not have enough money to put food on their tables on a daily basis (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5954B203CCAE8). Ever more stores and restaurants are closing in Moscow (meduza.io/news/2017/06/26/posle-nachala-moey-ulitsy-na-sadovom-koltse-zakrylos-rekordnoe-chislo-magazinov-i-restoranov), and the economic situation in Russia’s regions is deteriorating even more rapidly than in the capitals (newsland.com/community/7411/content/rossiiskie-regiony-stali-bednet-vse-bystree/5886381). Dacha prices have collapsed to fire-sale levels as Russians try to raise cash (svpressa.ru/realty/article/175547/), housing vacancies in Moscow are rising as people are unwilling or unable to pay the prices asked (svpressa.ru/realty/article/175748/), and experts are warning that the Russian banking system is heading toward collapse, even as Vladimir Putin and his propagandists paint a rosy picture of economic improvement (svpressa.ru//article/175886/).
4. Problems of Russian Society Diversify and Intensify. Social problems in Russia are diversifying with ever more sectors facing difficulties and intensifying in often unexpected ways. Among such developments this week are the following: in some regions, the authorities can’t find anyone willing to take a position as mayor (politsovet.ru/55738-v-sverdlovskoy-oblasti-ne-mogut-nayti-kvalificirovannyh-merov.html), the demographic collapse in Russia – births are down 10 percent this year compared to last – is now so severe that even the Kremlin has had to acknowledge it (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78359), Russians are reportedly drinking and smoking less but gaining weight as they shift to less expensive foods (iq.hse.ru/news/207034914.html), unidentified hooligans are blocking efforts by rights activists to investigate torture in prisons (sobkorr.ru/infopovod/594D559834F40.html), the Moscow Patriarchate wants Russian schools to teach old church Slavonic (rbc.ru/society/24/06/2017/594e9e349a7947d56a87306f?from=main), Russian young people increasingly say they want to be priests or policemen, two growth professions under Putin (newsland.com/community/5652/content/dukhovnoe-obrazovanie-chislo-zhelaiushchikh-vyuchitsia-na-sviashchennika-v-rossii-za-god-vyroslo-na-25/5886323), Russian screening for cancer isn’t working and fails to find tumors which might be successfully treated (lenta.ru/articles/2017/06/29/skrining/), Moscow is ending subsidies to farmers for equipment almost certainly ensuring new rises for food products (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/175719/), a school director has found an interesting way to boost her salary: she has fired most teachers and taken theirs (newizv.ru/news/society/27-06-2017/direktora-shkol-massovo-vygonyaet-uchiteley-chtoby-povysit-zarplatu-sebe), suit by Aeroflot stewardesses dismissed because of age and weight gains the support of a petition drive (newizv.ru/news/society/27-06-2017/petitsiya-protiv-diskriminatsii-staryh-i-tolstyh-styuardess-poyavilas-v-seti), some Russians are angry that the language used by Russian scholars is excessively anglicized (ng.ru/ideas/2017-06-27/5_7016_language.html), and Russian parents face a difficult summer: camps for their children are now fewer in number and much more expensive than even a year ago (profile.ru/obsch/item/118141-putevka-v-gorod).
5. Moscow Treats Chechnya Even More Differently than Many Thought. Most federal subjects have to go through a lengthy process of presenting their budgetary needs and then negotiating with Moscow over how much they will get, but the country’s finance minister says that one subject doesn’t have to do that. Chechnya simply prepares its budget, indicates how much it needs, and Moscow sends the money needed to make up any deficit (znak.com/2017-06-26/ministr_finansov_rossii_rasskazal_kak_napolnyaetsya_byudzhet_chechni). Other developments on the nationalities front this week include the following: Buryatia’s incumbent government is seeking to use shamans and spirit forces to help it win re-election (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/06/26/72919-kogo-podderzhat-rodovye-duhi); because they drink less, residents of Ingushetia and Daghestan have longer life expectancies than do Russians in Moscow (nazaccent.ru/content/24558-eksperty-nazvali-regiony-s-samoj-vysokoj.html); North Caucasians identify corruption among officials as most serious problem they face (caucasustimes.com/ru/korrupcija-pravjashhih-jelit-lidiruet-sredi-naibolee-ostryh-problem-severnogo-kavkaza/); Khanty-Mansiisk leaders reject charges that they are separatists (fedpress.ru/article/1811672); Altay head accused of exacerbating ethnic tensions (fedpress.ru/news/04/policy/1811515); Russian Orthodox churchman says his organization played key role in development of Sakha nation (nazaccent.ru/content/24513-arhiepiskop-pravoslavie-pomoglo-razvitsya-yakutskoj-nacionalnoj.html); women still tortured in Mordvin camps (echo.msk.ru/blog/lev_ponomarev/2007418-echo/); pressed to use Russian more, some republics back down while others double down in support of their own languages (nazaccent.ru/content/24539-v-komi-predlozhili-otmenit-obyazatelnoe-izuchenie.html and nazaccent.ru/content/24540-v-taksi-severnoj-osetii-nachali-darit.html).
 6. Russian Regions Want Referenda and Elected Mayors. The predominantly ethnic federal subjects have taken the lead in calling for the expanded use of referenda and restoring the election of mayors (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59526D370B412). The regions, which are often ignored, also are leaders in the development of civil society, especially among Siberian cities (iarex.ru/articles/54151.html). And some of them are now thinking about joining trans-border groups like the Northern Council of Scandinavian countries (afterempire.info/2017/06/29/norden/).
7. Murmansk Protesters Win Big Victory. One of the reasons protests continue to spread in Russia is that people there have no other way to express their views; but another that may be becoming increasingly important is that protests work, forcing officials to modify objectionable policies or even to back down completely. A case of the latter happened in Murmansk this week where residents successfully protested against the electric company which had been charging them for heat for the last ten years but had not provided them with any (thebarentsobserver.com/en/life-and-public/2017/06/electric-heaters-fought-murmansk-electrical-network-and-won). Protests by truckers, scholars, and those opposed to demolishing the five-storey apartment buildings in Moscow continued as well (themoscowtimes.com/news/meet-the-woman-placing-sculptures-of-her-breasts-on-moscow-buildings-to–demolition-58245newizv.ru/news/society/27-06-2017/moskvichi-antirenovatory-vystroilis-v-dlinnuyu-ochered-v-priemnuyu-putina-6e9dc8d3-fd72-49c9-b212-de8398573acdfedpress.ru/article/1810572 and rbc.ru/society/28/06/2017/59537ebf9a79470c7b26bafa?from=main). Two other new protests were notable: In Yugra, the Russian Orthodox bishopric launched a petition drive to can the controversial film Mathilda (echo.msk.ru/news/2009216-echo.html) and in Irkutsk, residents staged a demonstration to demand the restoration of elected governors (fedpress.ru/picture-story/1810590).
8. US Says Russia Operates Labor Camps for North Korea. The US says that the Russian government is operating labor camps whose inmates are North Koreans who have reportedly been used as slave laborers (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59534FE359345). Given earlier reports about the use of North Korean slave laborers on World Cup construction projects, such a charge is entirely plausible; but Moscow will do everything it can to prevent anyone from finding out (sobkorr.ru/news/5953804B20C33.html).
9. Poetic ‘Justice.’ Ousted Mari El head Leonid Markelov has appealed to Vladimir Putin for pardon in a poem he has written from jail (rbc.ru/politics/24/06/2017/594e89049a7947ce1aae51f7?from=main). Meanwhile, Russian Orthodox activists have decided to go above Putin’s head to secure a ban on the Mathilda film: they are praying to God that he take steps to make sure that happens (lenta.ru/news/2017/06/30/molitva/).
10. Moscow Comes Up with a New Way to Fight the Internet. The Russian government, convinced that the Internet threatens Russia with revolution (apostrophe.ua/article/world/ex-ussr/2017-06-27/-boitsya-v-rossii-gotovyat-novyie-zapretyi-v-internete/13123 andkasparov.ru/material.php?id=594D3A4392A04) has come up with a new way of fighting it: planning increases in tariffs on computers so that fewer Russians will be able to afford to go online (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5953BDF1E1A7E). Meanwhile, however, it has kept up all its old tactics: blocking stories it doesn’t like (ixtc.org/2017/06/v-rossii-zablokirovali-dostup-k-video-s-zayavleniyami-makrona-o-situatsii-v-ukraine/), continuing to impose sanctions and fines on provides, and proposing legislation that would require foreign Russian language media to register with Moscow as foreign agents (meduza.io/news/2017/06/28/senatory-predlozhili-priravnyat-zarubezhnye-russkoyazychnye-smi-k-inostrannym-agentam-i-blokirovat-ih-v-rossii).
11. ‘Honored’ Russian Citizens and Dishonored Ones. A Russian senator has proposed creating the status of “honored citizen” in order to distinguish those who are more worthy than most but not about to receive more serious awards (forum-msk.org/material/news/13385256.html). Meanwhile, a St. Petersburg legislator wants to impose criminal penalties on Russian men who betray their wives (versia.ru/v-rossii-mogut-zakonodatelno-zapretit-supruzheskie-izmeny).
12. Two Capitals Divide on Monuments War. One Ingrian commentator has suggested that “a metaphysical border” exists between St. Petersburg where people are fighting over a Mannerheim memorial and Moscow where they are debating one to Stalin, even though he concedes there are many similar problems in both cities (freeingria.org/2017/06/v-sankt-peterburge-diskutiruyut-ob-ustanovke-memorialnoj-doski-mannergejmu-v-moskve-ob-ustanovke-doski-stalinu-dva-mira-dva-myshleniya-metafizicheskaya-granitsa-evropy-i-azii/). In St. Petersburg, the Russian Orthodox Church has shifted to a longer-term strategy to get back St. Isaac’s, confident that it has the government in its corner (portal-credo.ru/site/?act=monitor&id=25742novayagazeta.ru/news/2017/06/27/132904-isaakiy-razreshil-rpts-provodit-v-muzee-bolshie-prazdnichnye-bogosluzheniya and spektr.press/news/2017/06/28/zaksobranie-peterburga-priznalo-nezakonnym-referendum-o-peredache-isaakiya-rpc/). In Moscow, the Stalin memorial at the Legal Academy has sparked serious conflicts among the capital’s scholars and rights activists (newsland.com/community/5652/content/vysshaia-shkola-ekonomiki-otkazalas-ot-sotrudnichestva-s-mgiua-iz-za-pamiatnoi-doski-stalinu/5895326 and meduza.io/news/2017/06/27/genri-reznik-ushel-iz-moskovskoy-yuridicheskoy-akademii-v-vuze-vosstanovili-memorialnuyu-dosku-stalina). The monuments war continued elsewhere as well: the Russian Orthodox Church wants to take over and close the Gagarin Museum, possibly because of the cosmonaut’s dismissive words about god (znak.com/2017-06-26/glavred_eha_moskvy_poprosil_putina_spasti_muzey_gagarina_kotoryy_hotyat_peredat_cerkvi), and conservative activists continue to press for the closure of the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg (newsland.com/community/5625/content/proverit-eltsin-tsentr-kak-tsentr-propagandy-razvrata/5893113).
13. Russia’s Hosting of 2018 World Cup Threatened from Within and Without. Ever more voices are being raised against what many Russians see as the wasteful spending for venues for the 2018 World Cup (forum-msk.org/material/economic/13385663.html). They point out that the money could be better used to help increasingly impoverished Russians, and Sochi residents are pointing out that despite Moscow’s promises, athletic facilities are often white elephants that pass into disuse after competitions (kavpolit.com/articles/vlasti_sochi_gotov_k_provedeniju_chempionata_mira-34491/ and newsland.com/community/4109/content/v-sochi-oprovergli-slova-putina-ob-ispolzovanii-olimpiiskikh-postroek/5887818). Such appeals are gaining traction because of reports that officials are destroying the houses of some residents to build facilities without informing the residents in advance (svoboda.org/a/28573667.html). Meanwhile, British and German athletes say they don’t want to go to Moscow for the World Cup, something that has infuriated Russian commentators (newsland.com/community/5652/content/smi-sbornye-anglii-i-germanii-ne-khotiat-bazirovatsia-v-moskve-vo-vremia-chm-2018/5890784 and svpressa.ru/sport/article/175625/). Moscow writers also suspect that Ukraine is planning to demonstratively refuse to take part in order to cause other countries to follow (segodnya.ua/sport/football/v-rossii-utverzhdayut-chto-ukraina-demonstrativno-otkazhetsya-ot-uchastiya-v-chm-2018-1033556.html). The doping scandal continues to spread: the International Anti-Doping Agency says Russia’s counterpart can only conduct tests under international supervision (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=595279C380353). And now some Russians are asking the unthinkable: will Russia itself be allowed to take part in the 2018 World Cup (newsland.com/community/5652/content/budet-li-uchastvovat-rossiia-v-chm-18-po-futbolu/5889341).
14. Russia Restricts Entry of Those Bearing Only LNR and DNR Passports. Fearful that those who have been taking part in Moscow’s war against Ukraine in the Donbass may reimport violence into Russia, the Russian authorities have stopped admitting people who hold only LNR or DNR passports (dsnews.ua/society/zrya-ukrainskiy-pasport-zhgli-v-rossiyu-perestali-puskat-29062017111400). In a related development, official treatment of the mother of a soldier who died in the Donbass highlighted for all that Moscow is failing to keep it promises to the families of those killed in battle (ura.news/articles/1036271366). Meanwhile, Chechnya is expanding the number of its citizens who can legally carry guns (ekhokavkaza.com/a/28583905.html), and Moscow is mulling increasing the age of draft exposure in order to be able to meet quotas for the military (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=594D0B3BD0DA5).
15. Has Russia Slipped to Third Place among World’s Navies? To the outrage of some in Russia, Chinese media are suggesting that China, not Russia, now ranks second among the world’s navies with Russia’s only advantage over China now being in submarines (newsland.com/community/5234/content/kitaiskie-smi-nedoumevaiut-pochemu-vtorym-flotom-v-mire-schitaetsia-rossiiskii-a-ne-kitaiskii/5895356). The Chinese claims are exaggerated but that they can be made at all reflects both China’s rise and Russia’s fall in defense matters. Moscow is cutting the military budget by five percent this year, its military industry is in trouble, and officials acknowledge it won’t have a real aircraft carrier until at least 2030 (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2017-06-29/vajno-znat-ne-tolko-ukraine-chastnaya-razvedka-ssha-raskryila-voennyie-planyi-kremlya/13137,http://svpressa.ru/war21/article/175743/ and forum-msk.org/material/news/13388422.html). It is claiming increased arms sales but since most of the information about them is classified, no one is sure whether Moscow is exaggerating on this point (iz.ru/611919/2017-06-28/rosoboroneksport-snabzhaet-oruzhiem-polsotni-stran and svpressa.ru/war21/article/175361/). And in one development with important defense implications, Daghestani analysts are reporting that Russia is losing out to other Caspian littoral states because it has failed to develop its own ports (chernovik.net/content/ekonomika/kaspiyskiy-kollaps).
16. Russia Cutting Itself Off from World Growth, Kudrin Group Says. By moving in the direction of autarchy, Aleksey Kudrin’s group of analysts says, Russia is marginalizing itself from growth in the rest of the world and thus falling further and further behind. Only reintegration and soon can slow this process, it says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59550FAF56F63).
17. Russians Don’t Trust Businessmen Except Themselves. Russians have a very negative view of businessmen, according to a new study (iq.hse.ru/news/207142767.html), but they are more entrepreneurial than many think and will find ways to end run any effort to ban self-employment as the government would like to do (fedpress.ru/expert-opinion/1811632).
18. Russian Tourists Caught Stealing Toilet Paper from Turkish Hotel. A group of Russian tourists in Turkey was caught stealing toilet paper from the rooms of a hotel there (lenta.ru/news/2017/06/29/hotel_theft/).
19. Russian Nationalists Say They’re Open to Alliances with All Opposition Groups. Ivan Beletsky, a leading Russian extra-systemic nationalist, says that Russian nationalists are now ready to form alliances with any group that opposes the reelection of Vladimir Putin (rusmonitor.com/ivan-beleckijj-russkie-nacionalisty-gotovy-k-dialogu.html).
20. Russia a Paradise of Criminologists, One of Their Number Says. Not only is there a lot of crime in Russia, but various government agencies collect an impressive volume of data about it, thus making that country “a paradise” for those who study crime, according to one Russian criminologist (vedomosti.ru/opinion/articles/2017/06/29/700947-rossiya-kriminologa#/galleries/140737488932819/normal/1).
21. By Two to One, Russians Favor Restoring Moscow’s Control over Former Soviet States. A new poll shows that Russians support by a margin of two to one Vladimir Putin’s efforts to restore Russian influence in and even control over former Soviet republics on Russia’s periphery (pewglobal.org/2017/06/20/russians-remain-confident-in-putins-global-leadership/pg_2017-06-20_russia-report_12/).
22. It’s Easier to Become a Saint in Russia than Almost Anywhere Else. The Moscow Patriarchate official who oversees canonization says that the Russian Orthodox Church currently venerates about 5,000 saints, half of which were made saints only over the last 25 years (snob.ru/selected/entry/126151).
23. New Muslim Internet Radio in Syria Broadcasts in Russian, Other Post-Soviet Languages. A new Internet radio project in Syria which positions itself as an independent Islamic voice is now broadcasting in Russian as well as the languages of Central Asia and the Caucasus, an indication of the numbers of people from those locations now in Syria on various sides of the conflict (fergananews.com/articles/9464).
24. Kremlin Pollster Says 15 Percent of Russians are ‘Unpatriotic Shit.’ VTsIOM pollster Valery Fedorov says that “25 percent of Russians are unpatriotic shit,” presumably including in that number all those who are ready to declare that they do not support Vladimir Putin and his policies (meduza.io/en/news/2017/06/29/kremlin-pollster-says-15-percent-of-russians-are-unpatriotic-shit).
25. What is Best for Russia: Revolution, Chaos or Disintegration? A Moscow commentator says that the situation in his country is now so dire that it is time to ask which of the three most likely outcomes would be the worst for the country: revolution, a descent into chaos, or disintegration (newsland.com/community/5392/content/chto-dlia-rossii-luchshe-revoliutsiia-smuta-ili-raspad/5886741).
26. There are Good Russians. Two women in Volgograd are part of an organization that sends people to the homes of those who are sick and have no family members or friends to look after them, but in reporting this story, Takie Dela notes that there are only two of them in a city with a million people (takiedela.ru/2017/06/ochen-zdu-kogda-priedut/).

And twelve more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:
1. In Belarus, There Really is a Russian Bear in the Woods. Residents of eastern Belarus have been terrorized by a Russian bear which has wandered over the border from his homeland (charter97.org/ru/news/2017/6/25/254223/).
2. Belarusians Petition for Cancelling Future Military Parades. After the latest victory day military parade in Minsk tore up the streets and led to the destruction of numerous trees along the roadside, a group of Belarusians has petitioned to cancel all future military parades there (charter97.org/ru/news/2017/6/25/254237/ and charter97.org/ru/news/2017/6/25/254217/).
3. Belarus Gets Its First Zombie Apocalypse Novel. The first-ever zombie apocalypse novel has now appeared in Belarusian, a development that reflects the expanding role of the titular language there (belsat.eu/ru/news/oginskij-protiv-zombi-ili-kak-poyavilsya-pervyj-belorusskij-zombi-horror/).
4. 75 Percent of Targets of Petya Virus were in Ukraine. While some commentators suggested that the Petya virus had originated in Ukraine, subsequent research has shown that 75 percent of the institutions targeted by it were in Ukraine, a pattern that suggests it and not anyone else was the target and that Russian forces were almost certainly behind it (segodnya.ua/ukraine/bolshe-75-atak-virusa-petya-prishlis-na-ukrainu-1034062.html).
5. Ukraine Passes Russia on World Social Progress Index. Ukraine now ranks 64th on the Social Progress Index, surpassing Russia which now ranks 67th (socialprogressindex.com/assets/downloads/resources/en/English-2017-Social-Progress-Index-Findings-Report_embargo-d-until-June-21-2017.pdf).
6. Few in Ukraine Want to Admit They’ve Fought on Russian Side. A major problem with statistics about losses as a result of Russian intervention in Ukraine is that ethnic Ukrainians and even some Russians now do not want to acknowledge that they or their relatives fought for the pro-Moscow side (https://www.svoboda.org/a/28578120.html).
7. Many in Donbass Now Hate Russia But Don’t Necessarily Want to Be Part of Ukraine. Many assume that residents in the Donbass look either to Moscow or to Kyiv, but new surveys suggest that an increasing fraction of them now hate Russia because it hasn’t supported them as they expected. At the same time, however, many of them don’t want to be part of Ukraine either (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/government/2017-06-22/na-donbasse-nenavidyat-rossiyu-no-ukraine-ot-etogo-ne-legche/13066).
8. Newspeak Spreads in Russian-Occupied Portions of Ukraine. Those in control of Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine are now employing a language of euphemisms and distortions that resembles nothing so much as the newspeak George Orwell described in his novel 1984 (glavred.info/zhizn/novoyaz-lnr-unichtozhenie-boevika-gibel-mirnogo-ranenie-v-boyu-bytovaya-travma-444062.html).
9. Russia’s Kerch Bridge Already Harming Environment. An ecologist has warned that the Kerch bridge Moscow is building and now says is half done is irreversibly damaging the environment of surrounding waters (qha.com.ua/ru/obschestvo/ekolog-stroitelstvo-kerchenskogo-mosta-razrushit-ekosistemu-morya/175350/ and newsland.com/community/4489/content/stroiteli-vypolnili-bolshe-poloviny-rabot-na-kerchenskom-mostu/5894647).
10. Russian Occupiers in Sevastopol Now Give 17 Times as Much Money to Cossacks as to Invalids. A measure of the priorities of the illegal Russian occupation of Crimea is that officials in Sevastopol are now giving 17 times as much money to Cossack organizations than to the care of invalids in the population as a whole (newsland.com/community/4109/content/sevastopolskim-kazakam-deneg-dali-v-17-raz-bolshe-chem-invalidam/5886345).
11. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Deny Moscow Reports They’ll Be Sending Troops to Syria. Both Astana and Bishkek deny reports in the Russian media that they plan to send troops in support of Russia’s war effort in Syria (turantoday.com/2017/06/syria-kazakhstan-kyrgyzstan-forces.html).
12. Nazarbayev Wants to Accelerate Shift to Latin Script. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has indicated that he wants to push for a more rapid shift from Cyrillic to the Latin script for his country’s national language, a move that has infuriated Moscow and may spark further ethnic Russian outmigration from Kazakhstan (newsland.com/community/7451/content/nazarbaev-khochet-uskorit-perevod-kazakhskogo-iazyka-na-latinitsu/5886103).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: How Much is a Russian’s Life Worth Anyway? Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – According to a new study by the Russian Finance University and the Rosgosstrakh insurance company, Russians now believe they should be compensated 1.2 million US dollars for deaths wrongful or in combat, a figure nearly twice as large as the 624,000 US dollars they suggested two years ago. Experts say that this growth is connected “first of all with an increase in the self-assessments of Russians, but despite the increase, the Russian figure is far behind the worldwide average of 2.6 million US dollars in the case of such losses (rg.ru/2017/06/27/rossiiane-ocenili-svoiu-zhizn-v-12-milliona-dollarov.html). Among Russians as is often the case elsewhere as well, the greatest compensation is given to the youngest, the most educated and the wealthiest, but there are also important differences geographically, with the highest figures being in Moscow and St. Petersburg and the lowest in Toliatti, Khabarovsk, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod and Penza. The Russian government is notoriously stingy in paying compensation, Kasparov commentator Aleksandr Nemets says. After the Kursk disaster in 2001, Moscow paid only 100,000 US dollars in rubles to the families of the submarine sailors who had lost their lives (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59554AAF36D54). According to US media reports at the time, Nemets continues, Putin advised those receiving the money to “put it in a bank … in a foreign bank.” Now, the Russian government gives even less for military losses. Some families of soldiers killed in the Donbass have received only about 60,000 US dollars in compensation, and some have not received anything at all. The situation with the civil population is worse, or at least it is worse for “the 95 percent of ‘the nonprivileged.’” Most get nothing despite the rise in self-evaluation that Rossiiskaya gazeta is celebrating. All its figures mean is that the gap between expectations and reality is only widening.

“Kolokoltsov, where is the money?” How the state “disowns” the Heroes of Russia. Deceived was even the family of the first victim of the war in Syria Dmitry Antonenkov © News Service «URA.Ru» To all Russian siloviki who died in hot spots, pensions are provided for relatives. In fact, people have to sue the state. The family of Rafagyat Khabibullin, a helicopter pilot shot down over Palmyra on July 8, 2016, President Vladimir Putin personally awarded the Order of the Hero of Russia. And in order to receive the pensions due to the loss of the breadwinner, mother, widow and son of the deceased (the first official loss of the RF Ministry of Defense in Syria), it was necessary to sue the state for the extra charge put to Rafagyat’s posthumous reward. The case is not unique: in the Sverdlovsk region alone, during the Chechen campaign, about 50 families of policemen were left without breadwinners. Widows and parents now have to go to court to receive pension supplements, which are transferred to the accounts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but do not reach the final recipients. On December 20, 1995, in the Chechen Gudermes, a detachment of Sverdlovsk SOBR and units of internal troops attacked militants who were stationed in the commandant’s office. The building housed the body of the deceased commander of the SOBR detachment, Leonid Valov. The chief of SDBR headquarters, Yekaterinburg, Vladimir Lastochkin, swore an oath to take the commander’s body to a small homeland. He personally took part in the battle. He was wounded, but continued the battle. The Federals broke through to the commandant’s building and began evacuating the wounded and the dead. Already on the outskirts of Gudermes, Lastochkin was wounded in the head with a fragment of a shell exploding nearby. On December 25, he passed away. He was awarded posthumously the title of Hero of Russia. But only in 2017, his mother, Rimma Mikhailovna, obtained through the court of Sverdlovsk MVK headquarter of the re-calculation of the survivor’s pension. In this situation, there were about 50 families of employees of Sverdlovsk State Internal Affairs Ministry who died in the fighting in the Chechen Republic. All of them are entitled to a supplement to pension payments of 32%. In the case of the dead Heroes of Russia, the premium is 100%. But they manage to get payments only through the court. 90-year-old Ilya Yuryev, after the death of his son, Hero of Russia Vasily Yuryev, only 17 years later managed to seize the due pension and compensation – 400 thousand unpaid rubles for these years Photo: Yuri Isupov The public Alexander Khvorov helps to dislodge pension debts for employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Sverdlovsk region. He himself is a former policeman, who, having retired, started to work on human rights. Khvorov defends the rights of veterans of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. And his hobby is pension supplements for families of employees of internal affairs who died in hot spots. “The hardest part was getting the names of the dead. I did it only three years ago. When I accidentally bought the “Encyclopedia of Police” in Nizhny Tagil, in it, among other things, there are lists of Sverdlovsk Interior Ministry personnel who died in Chechnya, “Alexander Khvorov told URA.RU. – According to the law, accrual of premiums occurs after the received application from the family of the deceased. I do not know why, but this was not announced. People simply did not know. That is, money went through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but people did not reach it. Now I am preparing a request to Kolokoltsev: where is the money? ” Pensions and allowances for the deceased participants in hostilities are regulated by a number of federal laws, including Federal Law 44.68 “On pension provision for servicemen and their families”, as well as articles of the law “On Veterans”. “There is no direct indication in the law that these allowances are extended to the families of war veterans. When relatives apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they are denied, referring to the lack of instructions in the law. A pier, pensions and allowances are put only to veterans, instead of their families. But the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation explained that the Interior Ministry officials misunderstood the law, “explains the lawyer Rafael Harutyunyan. Sometimes it comes to the point of absurdity. Thus, the mother of the Hero of Russia Viktor Chechvia, who died in Grozny, also filed an application to the Verkh-Isetsky Yekaterinburg court on recalculation of the pension. However, in court, she was asked to prove that her son was killed in Chechnya. “Even General Borodin then called it blasphemy,” Khvorov said. Such a situation is not only with the dead policemen, but also with the employees of the Ministry of Defense, the FSB, the Federal Penitentiary Service. Now the families of the military who died in Syria have to apply to the court for the calculation of payments. The press service of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs asked for an official request. Unofficially in the regional head office they say that the blame for all the imperfection of the legislation. “If police officers start paying people money, then the first check will consider them to be violators. Therefore, we carefully advise our relatives to go to court. Auditors will not undermine payments by court decision. According to rumors, somewhere in the bowels of the State Duma is ready a bill that will correct these assumptions, “- told URA.RU on condition of anonymity, one of the officers of the Sverdlovsk office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Russia Must Warm to West For Its Own Good, Putin Strategists Warn A Russian think tank tasked with devising the Kremlin’s next strategy says Moscow’s standoff must end soon.

Stalin More Popular Than Putin, Russians Say Vladimir Putin is only four points behind Stalin, ranking ahead of Vladimir Lenin and Peter the Great.

Kremlin pollster says 15 percent of Russians are unpatriotic ‘shit’ — Meduza Valery Fedorov, the head of the state-owned VTsIOM polling agency, said in a television interview on Thursday that 15 percent of Russians make up the unpatriotic “shit” who regularly criticize Vladimir Putin. “These are the people who have no love for our Russia. These are the people who have no desire to make it better. These are the people who are always ready to criticize and protest, whether they have a reason or not,” Fedorov said, arguing that young people make up just a fifth of the recent anti-corruption protests. He blamed the media for exaggerating the presence of youths in this movement. Earlier in June, pro-Kremlin pundit Vladimir Solovyov said during a live radio broadcast that the anti-corruption demonstrators who attended an unsanctioned protest in central Moscow on June 12 were “two-percent shits,” presumably referring to the “Two Percent” Theory proposed by political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, who has argued for the past decade that it would take only a minority of the Russian population — just 2 percent of the people — to form a “counter-elite” and effect major political reforms.

Majority of Russians have long felt that parts of neighboring countries belong to Russia | Pew Research Center

Putin Signs Bill Authorizing Demolition of 4,500 Moscow Apartment Buildings Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 1 signed a controversial law authorizing the demolition of thousands of Soviet-era Moscow apartment buildings, forcing the relocation of hundreds of thousand…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow to Spend on the Arctic Less than 10 Percent of the Amount Putin First Announced Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – Many were alarmed by Vladimir Putin’s original plan to spend an enormous sum on the development of Arctic infrastructure, seeing this as the basis for Moscow to project power into the region; but now, the Russian government has said that it will spend only 12 billion rubles (200 million US dollars) there, 17 times less than initially planned. RBC’s Lyudmila Podobedova reports that the original program announced last winter of 208 billion rubles (820 million US dollars) had already been scaled back this bring, but the new cuts, the result of budgetary stringencies, have eliminated many of the projects in the Strategic Program for Arctic Development (rbc.ru/business/30/06/2017/59550a479a794700f2cca257). Slightly over half of the remaining funds will go to building a drifting platform to study ice flows. Another quarter will go to development of ports on the Lena River in Sakha. And one billion rubles will be devoted to ensuring counter-terrorist operations in the region. The rest will be divided among other agencies, including for nuclear clean-up and permafrost investigations. Speaking in Beijing in May, Putin indicated that “part of the projects in the Arctic have had to be put off because of shortages of budgetary financing,” and so signaled in advance this latest cutback although not its size, the RBC journalist says. But this program, of course, is not the whole story. The defense ministry is planning to spend some 34 billion rubles (580 million US dollars) in the Arctic, according to government sources. However, the specifics on this are not a matter of public knowledge because of the secrecy involved.

Russia begins cleaning up the Soviets’ top-secret nuclear waste dump | Environment | The Guardian When the Soviet Union collapsed a vast store of spent nuclear fuel was abandoned in the Russian Arctic – an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Decades later an international clean-up has finally begun

Russia reveals prototype ‘stormtrooper’ combat suit RUSSIAN military scientists have presented their vision of future warfare. And it looks an awful lot like a Star Wars Imperial Shadow Stormtrooper.

Russian bear has come to ruin Vitebsk village An uninvited guest from the Russian forests has already been busy at three apiaries and conducted an “audit” in the kitchen gardens. For a whole week a huge bear holds the inhabitants of the village of Lozovatka in awe. In the border with Russia, a village in the north of the Vitebsk region today there are only six villagers. In a remote village surrounded by dense forests, wild animals, according to the stories of local residents, are regular guests. And if for wolves, hares, roe deer, who do not hesitate to walk around Lozovatka, or even look at master’s farmsteads, the local people have long been accustomed to it, then they had to face a clumsy giant for the first time, reports tut.by. Toptygin has already been a boss on three apiaries and conducted an “audit” in the kitchen gardens. Local resident Petr Pashkevich collided with a club-footed literally nose to nose on a forest road near the village. Before the village bus does not go to get to the civilization, the villagers have to overcome the self-propelled road about six kilometers. Peter works in the agro-town Zadubrovye and daily makes this way on a bicycle.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


How to Obfuscate – To Inform is to Influence How to Obfuscate http://nautil.us/issue/49/the-absurd/how-to-obfuscate What misinformation on Twitter and radar have in common. BY FINN BRUNTON & HELEN NISSENBAUMJUNE 29, 2017 During World War II, a radar operator tracks an airplane over Hamburg, guiding searchlights and anti-aircraft guns in relation to a phosphor dot whose position is updated with each sweep of the antenna. Abruptly,…

Advanced Guide on Verifying Video Content – To Inform is to Influence http://www.stopfake.org/en/advanced-guide-on-verifying-video-content/ July 01, 2017 – 14:29  By Aric Toler, Bellingcat One of the most common issues for researchers and journalists is verifying user-generated video content, most often found on social networks and file sharing platforms, such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. There is no silver bullet to verify every video, and it may be…

Russia behind cyber-attack, says Ukraine’s security service – BBC News Ukraine’s security service says it has obtained data linking Russia to last week’s malware attack.


Ukraine Reports


The Kremlin will have to withdraw from Ukraine, there are ways to bring this day closer – the former US ambassador | According to John Herbst, the war in Ukraine is a catastrophe for Russia JOHN HERBST – US Ambassador to Ukraine in 2003-2006, and now head of the Eurasian Center. Dinu Patriciu under the Atlantic Council (Atlantic Council). With the authoritative American diplomat, Apostrophe discussed US policy in the Ukrainian and Russian directions, the visit of the Ukrainian president to the United States and the possible more active participation of Washington in the settlement of the conflict in the Donbass. – First of all, I want to ask about your impression of the visit of Peter Poroshenko to Washington. To what extent did the President of Ukraine manage to get what he wanted? – The most important thing for President Poroshenko was that he established, I would say, a good relationship with our new president, Donald Trump. It was also important for Poroshenko that he meet with President Trump before Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Therefore, we can say that he achieved two goals. – Why, as some American media noted, Poroshenko’s reception was so modest, if not disparaging, compared with the reception of some other foreign leaders in the White House? – I do not completely share this point of view. There were rumors that Trump and Poroshenko would meet only for a few minutes. But, in fact, as I understand it, the meeting lasted half an hour. And this, I would say, is the standard duration of such visits. – In these remarks, rather, it was meant that there was no special honors, a joint exit of the presidents to the press, and Poroshenko had to make statements for the media outside the White House. – Of course, we can say that there were some shortcomings in the case of this visit. And, maybe, this is one of them. But this is not a big problem, in my opinion. It is difficult to say exactly why the visit developed as it developed. But I know that Trump and Poroshenko had meaningful talks; President Poroshenko met with the US Vice President, and with our Defense Minister, their meetings were good and informative. Senior US officials gave Petro Poroshenko to know that the United States supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and supports the reform process in Ukraine. And this, in my opinion, is exactly what Poroshenko wanted to hear from them. They talked about how you can work together. – Perhaps you know how acute the issue of reforms in Ukraine was raised during the meeting? Judging by public statements, this was not the main issue at the talks. – I agree, it was not a paramount question. But still, as I understand it, both Trump and Vice President Pence talked about the need for reforms in Ukraine. And Poroshenko let them know what he was doing, what the country was doing. And I would say that the American role, as well as the role of the European Union, about the reforms in Ukraine is an important role. – The draft law on the reintegration of Donbass is being prepared in Ukraine. It is known that during the meeting of leaders in the US the document was not discussed. Previously, from representatives of Washington, in particular Rex Tillerson, there were several double-digit statements about the Minsk agreements. Do you think Washington intends to become more actively involved in the peace process? “I expect this.” As I understand it, President Trump instructed Tillerson to work on this problem. It seems that Trump and Tillerson agreed that they will appoint a special representative who will be responsible for this problem. Therefore, they want the United States to play a big role in this diplomatic process. As far as I understand, Russia, France, and Germany welcome this.

Two Ukrainian soldiers killed, three wounded in Donbas on July 1 Two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action, another three have been wounded in action in Donbas on Saturday, July 1, according to the press service of the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 02 July from UNIAN.

Militants launched 35 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 01.07.2017 11:05 — Ukrinform News 01.07.2017 11:05. Militants launched 35 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas over the past day.

One Ukrainian soldier killed, nine wounded in ATO over past 24 hours – 01.07.2017 12:56 — Ukrinform News 01.07.2017 12:56. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and nine were wounded over the past 24 hours in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

Militants attempt to take new positions in ‘gray zone’ near Kamyanka fail Illegal armed formations, which on Friday attempted to take new positions in the so-called “gray zone” near the village of Kamyanka, Yasynuvata district, Donetsk region, have moved to their original positions, the press center spokesman, Anton Myronovych, told the ATO headquarters. “The attempt of pro-Russian illegal armed formations to occupy new positions in the so-called ‘gray zone’ near Kamyanka has finally failed. The enemy, having suffered heavy losses in manpower and technology, has retreated to its initial positions,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday. According to him, at the moment the ATO forces fully control the situation in this part of the combat line. In the evening on June 30, militants entered the so-called ‘gray zone’ near the village of Kamyanka in Donetsk region and tried to take positions there.

Overnight Shelling In Mariyinka, Eastern Ukraine RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service published this video from the frontline town of Mariyinka, where heavy shelling overnight on June 30-July 1 damaged a number of residents’ homes.

They hate Russia in the Donbas, but do not feel any better about Ukraine Dmitry Tymchuk, coordinator of the “Information Resistance” group, specifically for the “Apostrophe” The growing dissatisfaction with the worsening socio-economic situation in the occupied territory of Donbass does not lead to an increase in sympathy for Ukraine among the inhabitants ofORDLO. Can Kiev take advantage of the difficult situation in the east in its own interests and why does the Ukrainian Armed Forces occupy new territories in the east of the country, Dmitry Tymchuk, coordinator of the “Information Resistance” group, told “Apostrophe”. When we talk about the situation in the so-called DNR and LC, very often representatives of the Ukrainian expert community, ordinary citizens, conclude that if everything is bad there, then the inhabitants of ORDLO are eager to get to Ukraine. In fact, it is not so absolute. We must understand: the worse it becomes, the more Ukrainians love Ukraine and break out of the shackles of the “Russian world” will not be either. They accuse Ukraine of their problems, and here’s the logic: Ukraine must support us, because we are on our own and against the “Kiev junta” and the damned “dill”, but they must feed us. Along with this, the level of criticism and distrust towards Russia and its leadership is growing. For the fact that it does not help enough, it is not ready to accept these quasi-state formations as subjects of the Russian Federation in its open embraces and does not make them full-fledged citizens of Russia. If earlier they had such a position – we love Russia and hate Ukraine, now we hate Ukraine and Russia. This is purely consumer psychology, which is inherent in most of the population of ORDLO. In this situation it would be optimal for us to use the current circumstances to form some kind of relations with Ukraine through the information field, but we do not have it there. Now the Ukrainian information picture would work very well. I do not see technical opportunities for broadcasting Ukrainian channels there, blocking Russian channels and regulating information flows. Given the current state of the Ministry of Information Policy, we can not take advantage of this situation. For us, it is not too optimistic – we have a lot of angry people who hate Ukraine. Therefore, one should not make wrong conclusions. If we talk about the state of affairs in the so-called “military formations of the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China,” then the consumer approach also prevails there. People who go there are motivated not by hatred for Ukraine and the ideas of the “Russian world”, but by material prosperity. First of all, people go there who could not realize themselves in other activities in the occupied territories. For them, this is a means of earning. People go there without any serious moral standards, they face the harsh reality of trenches and “army corps of the DNR and the LNR” and this provokes staff turnover. Deliveries of cannon fodder from Russia can not compensate for this fluidity. Accordingly, the task of the Russian command, put in early 2015, to bring the strength of the two army corps to 50,000 people, at this point will not be exactly fulfilled. This is constantly said by the commanders of the units, they also say at the headquarters of the 1st AK DNR. The Russians, with all their aspirations, will not be able to complete the existing units to the established structure in the foreseeable future. Now the number of enemy units is, according to our estimates, 35-36 thousand people. To complete up to 50 thousand, you need another 14 thousand people. The problem is that they are constantly bringing fresh lots, but while they bring them, those that are, are reduced by the same number. They can not cross this ill-fated figure in any way. We use this situation to force Russian-terrorist forces to implement the Minsk agreements. The APU operates on that territory and seizes new positions in those areas that are already controlled by our side in accordance with the Minsk agreements. This is not a violation of the Minsk accords, but an enforcement by the enemy of their implementation. Thus, the enemy is pushed beyond the line of demarcation, which is defined by the protocols to Minsk-2. The APU does not cross this line. According to our information, the enemy is retreating because of the lack of staffing units. When the Russian command accuses militants of surrendering positions, they respond that people who remain on combat positions get tired, can not perform effectively assigned tasks, so do not blame them.

LNR Newspeak: killing of a militant – the death of a civilian, wounded in action – domestic trauma June 30, 12:45 Dmitry Snegirev The command of the militants tries to hide real losses and give the media false information for compromising the AFU. By the order of the command of the “people’s militia” of the LNR, all captured militants are discharged retrospectively, and the dead are registered in hospitals as civilians who were injured as a result of firing by the AFU. Wounded militants are recorded as having received domestic trauma. Recently, in the Donetsk region of Lugansk region, APU soldiers liquidated a Russian mercenary named “Trasser”, three militants were seriously injured during the clashes, and a sniper of terrorists named “Buranich” was captured. Russian mercenary named “Trasser” – Andrei Kazakov, born 11.05.1980, born in Tver (Russia). According to local sources of the analytical department of the NGO Rights on the Right, the commander of the LNR militia ordered the discharge of Buranich from the ranks of the “people’s militia” retrospectively. To comrades of the “Buranich” command of the 2nd “army corps” LNR explained its decision by reluctance to take on material and legal responsibility for those taken prisoner. A separate order was to forbid to inform the family of an militant about the fact of his capture. As a result, information about the capture of “Buraniche” became known to the public and the militant’s family demanded from the command payment of due monetary compensation. Then the latter decided to deprive the pay of those militants who gave information about the details of the battle as a whole. However, this is far from being the first time when the command of the 2nd AK LNR gives an order for the discharge of dead and captured militants. At the end of July 2016, Glavred reported that under Lugansk in the recreation area Desulia, a man on the mine blew himself up and died on the way to the hospital. The commander of the 2nd platoon of the 2nd Army Corps of People’s Militia LNR Nikiforov Sergey Petrovich 16.07 .1973. As it turned out later, the command of the 2nd “army corps” gave the command to dismiss Nikiforov in hindsight and register his death as a civilian suffering incompatible wounds suffered by firing from the AFU. It is noteworthy that in this way the command of the militants tries to conceal real military losses and at the same time give false information to the media for the purpose of compromising the AFU in order to provoke a negative reaction among the inhabitants of the temporarily occupied territories of Lugansk region about the death of the civilian population.

Elimination in close combat, or Why the militants hide their losses The militants of the LNR assure that they have only hospitalised losses in the number of seven people. According to information from the analytical department of the NG Law and Justice [Ed: Snegirov], during the past week (June 19-25), six militants were killed by troops of the Armed Forces. The enemy suffered the greatest losses in the area of ​​the Bakhmut track and in the Mariupol direction. June 19 in the territory of the occupied part of the Lugansk region, a Russian citizen was killed, a native of Taganrog Andrey Poselenov, born 8.11.1982, named “Cross”. On June 22, in the zone of the special operation, militants Sergei Korol (“King”), a native of Donetsk, were killed by the armed forces. June 23 in the area of. Zhelobok in the Luhansk region was eliminated militant Nikolai Shulga (“Shaman”), a native of Slavyansk, Donetsk region. In the area of ​​the anti-terrorist operation, the militant of the DNR Vladimir Avsyannikov was eliminated. The native of Makeevka of Donetsk region was 20 years old. On June 24, a reconnaissance group of militants led by a cadre Russian officer, Captain Alexander Scherbak (“Alex” call sign), moved from the Zhelobok area to the depths of the positions of the 93rd Independent Guards Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the purpose of conducting sabotage and reconnaissance. These intentions were discovered in time by units of our military unit. The commander of the group and the sniper attempted armed resistance and were eliminated in close combat. According to local sources of the “Law and Justice”, during the clashes with the fighters of the Armed Forces in the Zhelobka district militants of the “people’s militia” LNR Vladimir Cherkasov and Igor Katashevsky were seriously wounded. Thus, the confirmed irrevocable losses of militants over a week – 6 people. It is noteworthy that according to the information of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, five militants were killed in the zone of the special operation in the Donbass for the past week (June 19-25), and 26 were wounded. At the same time, it is worth noting that despite the documented nature of the information about the KIA and WIA losses of militants and Russian mercenaries, the command of the “people’s militia” LNR stated that they have only WIA losses in the number of seven wounded.

In vain were Ukrainian passports burned: People stopped to let people with passports of the “LDNR” The Russian authorities do not want to host the militia “LDNR” on their territory, therefore entry to Russia is allowed only to those who have official documents of Ukraine This is stated in the message of the Intelligence Service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. “The Russian authorities are taking measures to prevent marauders and persons with a criminal past on their territory, for example, at uncontrolled checkpoints, engineering work is being carried out and measures to check people crossing the border are noted, particularly crossing of the border is prohibited for persons who have Documents issued by the occupation administrations, only those who have official documents of Ukraine are allowed to pass, “the message says. “At the same time, mobile checkpoints are located at checkpoints, which carry out additional verification of documents and vehicles transported from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Lugansk regions.” In addition, a survey is conducted on the subject of involvement in the activities of the “power structures” of the “DNR” and “LNR” , – added to the GUR.

Ukraine asks Italian court for consul’s access to detained Ukrainian guardsman Ukraine's Consulate General in Milan has filed a claim at the court of Pavia, Lombardy, Italy, requesting information on the grounds and circumstances of the detention of Ukrainian guardsman Vitaliy Markiv, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's Directorate General for Consular Service. News 02 July from UNIAN.

Ukrainian serviceman, suspect of killing Italian photographer near Sloviansk, detained in Italy Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy&nbsp;Markiv, who is suspect of killing Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli near the town of Sloviansk, Donetsk region, in May 2014, was arrested in Italy, according to Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yevhen&nbsp;Yenin. News 01 July from UNIAN.

Markiv detained in Italy is acting platoon commander in Kulchytsky battalion A Ukrainian military serviceman, Vitaliy Markiv, detained in Italy on suspicion of killing an Italian photojournalist is deputy platoon commander in the battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine named after General Serhiy Kulchytsky, member of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc faction and coordinator of the Kulchytsky battalion Andriy Antonyschak has said. “I want to clarify. He was not in the Kulchytsky battalion, he serves in the Kulchytsky battalion as deputy platoon commander. As for Markiv’s detention, it’s illegal,” the lawmaker said on 112.ua TV channel on Saturday. According to him, Markiv was detained on Friday, June 30. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine immediately reacted and informed the Italian counterparts that criminal proceedings had been opened in Ukraine into the murder of an Italian journalist, as well as a Russian journalist and a Russian human rights activist. “An investigation is underway. Witnesses are being questioned, the Ukrainian and Italian sides cooperate fully, and only when he (Markiv) entered Italy, he was arrested… At present, he is being held in prison in the town of Pavia… Ukrainian diplomats are not allowed to him, motivating it that Vitaliy has Italian citizenship,” the lawmaker said. Antonyschak noted that Markiv has “both Italian citizenship and Ukrainian citizenship”, because at a young age he and his mother left Italy for Ukraine. According to the MP, Markiv took part in the Revolution of Dignity and at the same time he “restored his passport and his Ukrainian status.” Antonyschak said that the Italian side provided Markiv with a lawyer, but the Ukrainian side will turn him down… and will hire their own lawyer. He noted that now, together with the Ukrainian Consulate General in Italy, they are working to ensure that Markiv is released from prison before trial and in court they will be proving his innocence. He noted that on May 2, 2014, at 04:00, Sloviansk was stormed by the Kulchytsky battalion, with the participation of the 95th Airborne Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Markiv was in one of the special groups that were on the Mount Karachun. And when the column was blocked, representatives of Russia Today and Italian journalists appeared on the bridge. According to the MP, the photojournalist could not have been killed from the Karachun Mountain, and in addition, the Ukrainian military did not have mortars, but only small arms. Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Yevhen Yenin reported earlier on Saturday, Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy Markiv, who is suspected of killing Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli near the city of Sloviansk, Donetsk region, in May 2014, was arrested in Italy.

Ex-Ukrainian servicemen, suspect of killing Italian photographer near Sloviansk in 2014, detained in Italy Former Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy Markiv, who is suspected of killing Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli near the city of Sloviansk, Donetsk region, in May 2014, was arrested in Italy, Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Yevhen Yenin said on Saturday. “The Prosecutor General’s Office was astounded with arrest of Ukrainian serviceman Vitaliy Markiv in Italy on suspicion put forward by the Prosecutor Office of the city of Pavia of killing photojournalist Anrea Rocchelli near the city of Sloviansk in May 2014,” Yenin said on Facebook. He recalled that an investigation into the death of Italian citizen Rocchelli and his Russian partner Andrei Mironov is underway in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian side, journalists were killed in a shelling conducted by the troops of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Yenin said. “The Prosecutor General’s Office actively cooperates with the Italian counterparts in this investigation, provides them with the outcomes of questioning of witnesses, the results of examinations, and so forth,” he said. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has already requested the Italian authorities to provide substantiated proof of Markiv’s guilt or release him immediately, he said.

Mother of Russian Soldier Captured by in Donbas Appeals to Putin for Prisoner Swap – YouTube_ Follow UATV English: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UATVEN Twitter: https://twitter.com/UATV_en Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uatv.en Medium: ht…

Putin adds occupied Crimea’s inland waters to free economic zone to boost investment Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a federal law &quot;on including the inland waters and territorial waters of the Russian Federation&quot; along the coastal line of Russian-occupied Crimea in the so-called &quot;free economic zone of the region,&quot; according to the Ukrainian television news service TSN. News 02 July from UNIAN.


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Kremlin Says Putin Discusses Qatar Dispute With King Of Bahrain The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the dispute between Qatar and several other Arab states with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in a phone call on July 1. In …

‘The closer we get, the more complex it gets.’ White House struggles on strategy as Islamic State nears defeat in Iraq and Syria – LA Times Islamic State appears close to defeat in Iraq and Syria, but the White House has yet to set a strategy for what follows.

Trump’s ISIS Strategy: The Syrian City Emerging as a Test of U.S. PolicyTrump is reluctant to commit the U.S. to Iraq-style nation building, but formerly ISIS-held towns in Syria are reliant on the U.S. for food, reconstruction and more.

Release of FFM Report on April 4, 2017, Khan Shaykhun Sarin Attack Today, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact¬ Finding Mission (FFM) issued a report confirming that sarin or a sarin-like chemical weapon was used on April 4, 2017, in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. The FFM’s conclusion is based on a wide range of information, including the results of analysis of biomedical samples taken from the victims and the surrounding environment, and extensive witness interviews. The FFM report will now be conveyed to the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), the additional independent international expert mechanism established by the UN Security Council, to determine who is responsible for the attack. The United States strongly supports the FFM and JIM efforts, which have been pursued in an impartial and highly professional manner. The facts reflect a despicable and highly dangerous record of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. Through its continued use of chemical weapons and its failure to destroy its chemical weapons program in its entirety, Syria continues to fail to comply with its legal obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and UN Security Council Resolution 2118.

OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Confirms Use of Chemical Weapons in Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017 THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 30 June 2017 — In a report released by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) confirmed that people were exposed to sarin, a chemical weapon, on 4 April 2017 in the Khan Shaykhun area, Idlib Province in the Syrian Arab Republic. The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria; it does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks. An advance team for the FFM was deployed within 24 hours of being alerted to the incident. For security reasons, the FFM was unable to visit Khan Shaykhun. The rapid deployment to a neighbouring country, however, enabled the team to attend autopsies, collect bio-medical samples from casualties and fatalities, interview witnesses and receive environmental samples. A rigorous methodology was employed for conducting an investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons that took into account corroboration between interviewee testimonies; open-source research, documents, and other records; and the characteristics of the samples including those provided by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic. The Fact-Finding Mission report has been shared with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW’s Executive Council, which will consider the FFM’s findings at an Executive Council meeting scheduled for 5 July 2017. The report has also been sent to the United Nations Security Council through the UN Secretary-General and the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism.

As the Islamic State falls in Syria, one city offers a preview of the country’s future – The Washington Post People are waking up from a nightmare. What will replace it?

Russians Torture Syrian Prisoner With Sledge Hammer 2017 – To Inform is to Influence It took me less than two seconds to find this on YouTube after someone shared it in the article below.  Allegedly the language is authentic, the uniforms are authentic, and I can verify the behavior is typical for Russia/Soviet Spetsnaz.  The only problem I have is that these alleged Spetsnaz guys are not at all…

Lebanese military rejects claims of abusing Syrian refugees – Washington Times Lebanon’s military on Saturday dismissed allegations of abuse against hundreds of Syrian detainees in a security sweep at a refugee settlement, saying the mass detentions were necessary to combat terrorism.

Syria government airstrikes spill over into Jordan – The Washington Post Syrian activists and Jordan’s military say missiles have fallen inside Jordan amid intense fighting between Syrian forces and rebels near the border.

Car bombs kill 8 in Damascus; Syria says it foiled attack Deadly blasts strike the first morning commute after Muslim holiday.

Suicide Bombers Attack Lebanese Soldiers Near Syria Border – The New York Times The assaults shook the makeshift camps that have grown near the Lebanese border town of Arsal as refugees have poured in to escape the war in neighboring Syria.

Iraqi Forces Push Through ISIS-held Mosul as Civilians Flee – NBC News Iraqi forces pushed further into the Old City of Mosul this week, getting closer to retaking the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Iraq.

Iraqi police kill 79 IS militants in Mosul’s Old City, free 550 civilians Iraqi Federal Police forces said Sunday they killed 79 Islamic State militants in Mosul’s Old City as they pushed to the last few meters held by the

Inside the demolished mosque where IS declared its caliphate in 2014 Kurdistan24 produced footage of the aftermath of the destroyed iconic Great al-Nuri Mosque, the same mosque where the Islamic State (IS) declared its ‘Caliphate’ in June 2014 speech and that it blew up three years later on June 22.

EXCLUSIVE: Destroyed iconic Mosque of al-Nuri by IS in Mosul – YouTube Website: www.kurdistan24.net/en Twitter: www.twitter.com/K24English Facebook: www.facebook.com/K24EnglishSyria:

Conscripts from Aleppo join Syrian Army ranks BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:05 P.M.) – New conscripts to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) settled into barracks after signing official registration documents in Aleppo, Saturday. Following the ousting of rebel forces from the city many former students and schoolchildren have put on uniform. The military conscription in Syria is year-round: every young man is obliged to appear at the military enlistment office following his 18th birthday.

Morrisons security guard turned ISIS fighter in Syria moans how ‘high life’ in terror capital Raqqa is over and rants about fleeing jihadis Brit terrorist Omar Hussain in pathetic rant about jihadi cowards and heat in Syria

Trump’s unpredictability threatens Israel’s balanced, rational Syria policy – U.S. News – Haaretz.com With the fall of the de facto capital of ISIS seemingly imminent, no one knows whether the U.S. president will opt for isolationalism or a continued presence in the Middle East

UNHCR – UNHCR seeing significant returns of internally displaced amid Syria’s continuing conflict UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is seeing a notable trend of spontaneous returns to and within Syria in 2017.&nbsp;


DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


Hong Kong residents march to defend freedom as China’s president draws a ‘red line’ – The Washington Post Hong Kong staged official celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of its handover from British rule, but not everyone was happy.

Hong Kong Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Transfer To China : NPR The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer to China is being celebrated across the territory. At the same time, the visit by China’s president is inspiring protests.

Chinese Leader Warns Hong Kong Not To Buck Beijing’s Authority : The Two-Way : NPR Xi Jingping says that Hong Kong residents must not cross a “red line” that would “endanger the sovereignty and security” of China.

Xi Jinping tells Hong Kong people to believe in China and respect its might – The Washington Post China stages Hong Kong’s largest-ever military parade to mark anniversary of handover from British rule.

China tears up promises to UK and shows the world who is in charge | World news | The Guardian Xi Jinping offered no concessions on civil liberties during his visit to Hong Kong

Why Hong Kong was glad to see the back of ‘white coolies’ | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post The entitled, superior attitude of the Filth set – Failed in London, Try Hong Kong – helps to explain why, beneath the trepidation about Beijing’s intentions, many Hongkongers celebrated Britain’s departure

China builds new military facilities on South China Sea islands: think tank China has built new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Thursday, a move that could raise tensions with Washington, which has accused Beijing of militarizing the vital waterway.

China Bans Internet Content with Homosexuality | Fortune.com China’s new rules for online videos called homosexuality “abnormal sexual behaviors,” triggering people to voice opposition

Russia and NATO War Games in Europe See New Player: China Russia and China are seeking greater military ties and have begun joint drills in the Baltic Sea, where NATO is highly active.

China Releases Map To ‘Prove’ Alleged Incursion By Indian Troops In Doklam, Sikkim Sector The map, which shows Doklam as a part of China, was released by the Chinese foreign ministry Friday night.

China Ready to Tuck Into U.S. Beef Imports, After 14 Years | Fortune.com Beef is the fastest-growing meat sector in China, outstripping stagnant demand for more widely eaten pork

China’s New Destroyer, The U.S. Navy’s Anti-Ship Missile Failure, And Preemption China’s new 055 navy destroyer, armed with long-range supersonic YJ-18 anti-ship missiles, upsets the military status quo in Asia. It will fuel an Asian arms race, political tensions, and increases the probability of a conventional first strike by either the U.S. or China.


Foreign Policy Reports


Fabrice Pothier | Macron’s Russia Reset Drawing on his personal experience, having felt the disruptive Russian hand during the presidential campaign, Macron seems to hold few illusions about Putin’s Russia. Everything points to the fact that, unlike Trump, Macron has understood that unlocking the relationship with Russia cannot be done at the expense of Ukraine. But looking at the foreign crises that his predecessors left in his inbox, he also knows that cooperation with Russia is a necessity, not an option. This is reinforced by a tradition in French diplomatic circles often called Gaullist-Mitterandian, in reference to the two French presidents of the Fifth Republic—Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand—who sought to maintain French autonomy regardless of its alliances, and an equidistance from Washington and Moscow. However, the weakness in Macron’s approach is that Putin knows he holds some of the cards Macron needs in Syria, while Macron seems reluctant to give himself new cards to push Putin to change his behavior on Ukraine. The idea of strengthening European Union sanctions in light of Russian aggression in Ukraine and human rights abuses draw immediate negative reactions in Paris. So does the idea of strengthening NATO allies’ defense deterrence posture beyond what has been agreed to at the Wales and Warsaw summits. The Macron method, as presented by the president himself during his joint press conference with Poroshenko, of achieving small but concrete results on Minsk without raising the cost of failure if Russia is unwilling to move is more akin to wishful thinking. The French president seems to believe that the Macron effect will be enough to compel Putin to make some compromises in Ukraine. But even if the Macron effect did achieve one of the most formidable political wins of a generation against all odds and predictions, it is unlikely to impress an interlocutor as cynical as Vladimir Putin. Fabrice Pothier is a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. He also leads a project on Ukraine at Rasmussen Global. You can follow him on Twitter @FabricePothier.

As anti-G20 protests begin, Merkel says growth must be inclusive | Reuters With an eye on anti-globalization protests brewing in Hamburg before this week’s G20 summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday leaders will have to focus on sustainable and inclusive economic growth rather than their own prosperity.

Angela Merkel Embraces German Nationalism With a Twist – Bloomberg It only looks progressive compared with alternatives from nationalists across Europe.

Merkel: We must guard Helmut Kohl’s legacy – BBC News The European Parliament honoured the man who oversaw German reunification with a unique memorial.

Merkel continues to hold a convincing lead in the latest German election poll Latest poll results published by EMNID yesterday 2 July – CDU/CSU 39% – SPD 24% – Greens 8% – FDP 8% – Linke 9% – AdD 7% – Others 5% Earlier in the week the Forsa poll had the Conservatives on&nbsp;40%, the&nbsp;best showing since Sept 2015. By Mike Paterson


US Domestic Policy Reports


Trump has wrong approach on China tech policy, former Reagan official The guy who ran a Reagan-era program that helped the U.S. leapfrog the Soviet Union on missile defense wants President Trump to mimic its success.The former director of a U.S. intelligence program that helped Ronald Reagan improve America’s missile defenses has lashed out at President Donald Trump’s technology policies, saying they won’t be enough to guarantee America’s economic and military superiority over China.  The criticism from Michael Sekora, a trained physicist who ran the Socrates Project for the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1983 to 1990, comes soon after an upbeat meeting between the White House and tech leaders, and amid reports Trump is considering Chinese trade sanctions. Project Socrates was tasked three decades ago with discovering the reasons why America was losing its economic competitiveness to Japan and others.The program’s findings ultimately helped the U.S. surpass the Soviet Union in missile defense technology, according to Sekora, who now runs a Texas-based consulting firm called Quadrigy. By favoring government procurement of products made by U.S. firms like Apple, Microsoft and IBM and a balance-of-trade approach to foreign policy, “Trump is addressing the symptoms, not the disease” that’s caused the U.S. to slip behind China in several key technologies, Sekora told CNBC in a phone interview. China now has the world’s fastest supercomputers, manufactures most of the world’s computer chips and is the leading maker of drone hardware, he observed. “Anybody who thinks China’s advantage is cheap labor and currency manipulation is not paying attention,” said Sekora, who ran the government effort to boost U.S. competitiveness for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

How Congress is taking power back from Trump on national security – CNNPolitics.com In ways big and small, Congress is taking back power from President Donald Trump on national security matters.

Trump Invokes Patriotism and Unity After Day of Twitter Outbursts – Bloomberg President Donald Trump delivered a campaign-style speech heavy with patriotic themes and and support for American troops on Saturday night, and didn’t spare the news media from another dose of the criticism dished out earlier in the day on social media.

Cold War flashback: Media’s flawed coverage of the Trump-Russia story is not helping the left – Salon.com CNN’s terrible week was just the latest example of sloppy, hysterical Russia coverage that only feeds Trump

Russia and the left: How the Trump-Putin saga became a battlefield in the Democratic Party’s civil war – Salon.com Trump’s weirdest victory: The Russia scandal has sparked vitriol, fake news and wild accusations — on the left

Former GCHQ specialist was asked by Republican researcher to verify Hillary Clinton emails hacked by Russia | The Independent A former GCHQ specialist says he was recruited by a Republican Party researcher to help verify emails apparently hacked from Hillary Clinton’s private server by Russia. The claims come amid allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence last summer. Matt Tait said he was approached around the time WikiLeaks published 20,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails and Mr Trump publicly called for Russia to obtain Ms Clinton’s private server emails.

 

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