Gen Pavel comments on Zapad 2017, Coyle on the UN Donbass peacekeeper play, while Amb Volker does a stellar job of saturating the media with words of wisdom that will not be popular in Moscow.
Ikhlov commentary on the failure of “the rule of the Chekists – the Russian version of Mussolini-style fascism” [AKA Putinism] is a superb summary of the repeated failures of Russia’s political systems for a century – rebadging forms of Tsarism and expecting a dyed leopard not to change its appetite is central to Russia’s failure as a state and society. Persecution of Gulag historian Dmitriev detailed. Prof Goble’s “A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 100” is a must read – especially items #4, #6 on the drug trade, #8, #11 (turncoat Ukrainian Matvienko gets COCW Award), #17 and #19. More on schisms across religions and ethnicities. Siberian Times details more massive methane eruptions in the Yamal Peninsula permafrost – these ignite and burn for up to hours until the methane is discharged – it is only a matter of time before a settlement is obliterated with nature’s equivalent of a fire in a ruptured LNG tank.
More Belarus complaints on Zapad 2017, and Moldovans protest political corruption.
New head of SZR, Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service, profiled. Donbass fires continue. Motorsich scandal gathers momentum – not satisified with Ukraine building a factory in China, they wanted to move the parent factory to China as well. Marten and Oliker essay on militias overstates many of the problems.
Syria traffic dominated by Russian attack on US aligned militia troops – likely intentional testing of resolve or provocation.
Most interesting DPRK report are interviews of US resident defectors/refugees, most of whom would like to see regime change effected by the US – curiously they get much less airplay in the MSM than the legion of appeasers and “realists”, none of whom care for the misery of millions de facto enslaved by the regime. Japan Times looks at the DPRK’s options in synfuels, and the issues in using ABM assets against the DPRK test launches. More on African regimes as economic conduits for Pyongyang.
Russian procurement of a favourable report by UN human rights council remains a media topic. Debate in Germany over the WW2 Wehrmacht / Luftwaffe / Kriegsmarine – yes all three services displayed military prowess in excess, but all three services also helped the regime kill civilians unlawfully, presenting a picture that does not fit the simple-minded good-vs-evil narratives that media, politicians and ideological activists look for – the current solution of cultivating ignorance of the good and the bad is an enabler for neo-Nazis, pro-Russian crackpots, and other ideologically driven enemies of democracy. More on the bizarre injuries from Cuba – this may indeed be an acoustic weapon, and Tesla’s bizarre experiments come to mind.
Nine most interesting articles on IW/IO/cyber, mostly from Harding. Two examples of adeptly constructed propaganda.
Facebook dominates the US domestic debate on Russia, which it should as the primary vector used by Russia to infect US voters with doubt or fake news stories.
Russia / Russophone Reports
A senior NATO general says the military alliance is concerned about the large-scale Zapad (West) 2017 military drills being conducted by Russia and Belarus because of Moscow’s lack of transparenc…
The same trick was played to legitimize the Russian occupation of Moldova and Georgia.
The U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine has called a Russian proposal to send United Nations peacekeepers to the region a "step forward" but warns there ar…
United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker believes the Russian aggression in Ukraine has failed to reach its goals, having the opposite effect, according to an UNIAN correspondent, reporting from the 14th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting (YES) in Kyiv on September 16. According to the official, Russia is now in a situation when it does not achieve its objectives. Read also Mattis brings military equipment for Ukrainian army – Volker In his words, Russia wants to find a way to create such an intervention, which will result in the fact that Ukraine will become pro-Russian and will return to Russia’s sphere of influence. However, the seizure of Ukraine’s territories actually had the opposite effect: it made Ukraine more united, more nationalist, and more Western-oriented than before, even anti-Russian. Russia did not want this when the aggression began.
United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker considers that Russia’s proposal for deployment of peacekeepers in Donbas will further divide Ukraine, and not resolve the conflict, according to an UNIAN correspondent, reporting from the 14th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting (YES) in Kyiv on September 16. Volker said it was very interesting to see how Russia offered a peacekeeping mission, a UN mission, last week, noting that the Russian Federation had not previously supported the deployment of such a mission. According to the official, the details of what was proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in fact, will further divide Ukraine, and not solve the problem. However, he believes that the very fact of such a proposal is important and should be properly studied. Moreover, he said that if a discussion could be held there to ensure security that would replace Russian forces and provide the monitoring of heavy weapons, as well as control over the border, this would be a significant step forward, the basis for implementing the Minsk agreements and restoring the country’s territorial integrity. As UNIAN reported earlier, on August 22, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared his intention to present the idea of deploying a peacekeeping mission in Donbas at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, which launched its work in New York September 12. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 5 he considered the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Donbas “quite appropriate,” but only along the line of contact and with the aim of protecting the OSCE mission. At the same time, he stressed the issue could not be resolved without direct contact with representatives of pro-Russian militants in Donbas. Following that, Russia sent a draft resolution to the UN leadership regarding the deployment of peacekeepers in Donbas. Poroshenko, in turn, said on September 7 that the UN peacekeepers should be deployed throughout the temporarily occupied territory, including an uncontrolled section of the border with the Russian Federation. On September 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov specified Putin’s words about the deployment of peacekeepers on the contact line in eastern Ukraine. “These are not UN forces, it is precisely the mission to promote the protection of OSCE observers. It is in full accordance with the logic of the Minsk accords,” he said.
Russia’s proposal to introduce peacekeepers to Donbas will further divide Ukraine, but not resolve the conflict.
U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker is to hold a meeting with Advisor to President of Russia Vladislav Surkov in October, as Volker told journalists during YES conference, according to Interfax-Ukraine. Volker says that in his meeting with Surkov, he is going to discuss issues of restoring territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, as well as security of Ukrainian citizens, regardless of their ethnicity and religion.
The Kremlin admitted that it is “restructuring” the financing for the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic), but stated that it would not stop providing the separatists with “humanitarian assistance.” The Press Secretary for the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov said, “There is definitely redistribution” of funds, but this “does not mean a reduction in some areas” of financing, RBC news agancy reports. In clarifying the question about the amount of financing for the DPR and LPR, Peskov said that he doesn’t have numbers, but “this doesn’t mean that Russia will stop providing humanitarian assistance.” The previous day it became known that the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation was instructed to exclude humanitarian aid to the so-called “separate territories” from their draft budgets for upcoming years. These “territories” are the DPR and LPR. The funds, instead, will be used to develop the infrastructure of the Crimea, Sevastopol, and the Kaliningrad regions.
The mission of US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker may “end ingloriously”, Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov believes, according to RIA News. This was his reaction to the fact that Kurt Volker criticized Russia-proposed plan on deploying UN peacekeepers in Donbas.
UN peacekeepers should have access to the entire territory of Donbas. The mission deployment is an interesting idea, but it does not mean lifting sanctions from Russia.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 16 – A major reason for the rise in confusion and aggressive in Russian society is that for the third time in a generation, Russians have lost their faith in the set of ideas they had earlier believed in as each of these ideological visions failed to deliver on its promises, Yevgeny Ikhlov says. And if Russia were a bit more archaic than it is, he says, it would likely be moving in the direction of “a fundamentalist revolution of the Iranian type.” But “thanks to seven decades of Soviet state atheism and widespread superstitious paganism … for the time being, it has gotten away with just a ‘Mathilda jihad’” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59BCD09865379). The first loss of faith occurred in 1990 when “the dream of a correct, honest and just socialism” collapsed. That dream had existed since the time of Khrushchev’s Secret Speech to 20th Congress of the CPSU in March 1956, but by the late 1980s, it had become obvious to all that it was never going to be realized. The second loss of faith, this time in “anti-communist democracy,” the Moscow commentator continues, occurred in 1993, with Boris Yeltsin’s use of force against the Russian Supreme Soviet and the launch of the first post-Soviet Chechen. Russians took from those events that they weren’t going to have a contemporary democratic system anytime soon. And the third loss of faith, which involved rising disappointment in the rule of the Chekists – the Russian version of Mussolini-style fascism – and the ability of people from the security services to impose order and provide at the same time societal transformation in “an eschatological battle with the West for … Eastern Ukraine the ‘Russian World.’” Two years ago, Russians recognized that promises about the formation of a Russian world were “exactly the same political fata morgana” as that offered by the tsarist regime in World War I about putting a Russian Orthodox cross on Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, a mobilizing idea but not one fated to be realized. Having lost faith three times in a generation, Ikhlov suggests, they find it hard to believe in anything, however much they may want to and however often someone will try to present them with ideas bigger than themselves.
Vladimir Putin has spent more time in Russia’s top office than Leonid Brezhnev.
There is also another important development. More Russians are expressing their concerns as to why Putin’s presidency should continue for yet another term of six years. Putin has been in power for 17 years and in 2018 he will become Russia’s longest ruler since Stalin. Already, an entire generation of young Russians which has seen only Putin as Russia’s ruler, is expressing its discontent. And this is a very dangerous development for the Kremlin. Youngsters have become more opposition-minded in Russian society; for example, when country-wide protests hit Russia in 2016, most of protesters were of the younger generation. Putin still has not found a platform on which to run. He could explain his participation by the need to oppose a unified western front against Russia. Protests have shown, however, that many Russians think that Russia-West standoff developed because of Putin’s mistakes. Other platforms such as the struggle against terrorism and separatism would not work as they did in the early 2000s. In other words, Putin still has to convince the Russians and particularly the younger of them, of the need for his continued rule. If Putin wins his next presidential term, it is sure to be a far different one.
Political opponents of Russia’s Vladimir Putin don’t expect to win the March 2018 presidential election, but instead are building their brands for the future.
Shura Burtin Historian Yuri Dmitriev, a man who devoted his life to bringing to light the executed victims of the Soviet regime, was put onn trial in Russia’s Petrozavodsk on June 1. The events that have brought him to trial took place 80 years ago in a forest near Belomorkanal, a 141-mile-long canal connecting the White Sea with the Baltic Sea. Tens of thousands of Gulag prisoners were forced to build the canal; thousands died of malnutrition and exhaustion. In Petrozavodsk on June 1 began the trial of one of the most amazing people I have ever known – local historian Yuriy Dmitriev. He has dedicated his life to the dead. He is accused either of producing child pornography or illegal possession of firearms – it is uncertain which. But this case began 80 years ago – in the woods near the first lock of the White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal. I found out about Dmitriev only this year, after he had been arrested. My friends told me about an odd Karelian member of the Memorial organisation, which records the Soviet Union’s totalitarian past, arrested for allegedly producing child pornography. I came home, googled him and saw pictures of a lean, bearded guy with grey dreadlocks and a dour expression. Because of the nature of the charge, it was difficult to know what to think. It was baffling! On the one hand, you could hardly imagine a Memorial member would go for such exotic stuff. On the other – an old proverb goes : ‘there is no smoke without fire’.Was it pure fabrication? Just a set up? Surely they couldn’t have just made it all up? The site of Russia’s Investigation Committee claims that Dmitriev had taken pictures of his eleven-year old foster daughter, N. for the purposes of pornography. The TV Channel ‘Russia-24’ made a whole program showing Memorial not only as a group of ‘foreign agents’ but also a nest of pedo vampires. At the center of the story was a dissipated old man who had abandoned his own children and taken in a girl from an orphanage to sell pornographic photos of her on the dark net. I asked my friends who work at Memorial – they maintained that Dmitriev had taken pictures of his daughter for the social services. But they sounded a bit vague. It was as if they themselves did not really know what had happened. They did not believe the charge of course, but they also could not fully explain it. There was very little coverage in the press. It was as if everyone wanted to distance themselves from the words ‘child pornography’. One wanted to forget about it. And I did forget. It was not until later that I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of this odd story – whatever it was that turned out to be at the bottom. The only thing I knew about Yuriy Dmitriev was that twenty years ago he had discovered Sandarmokh, a burying ground for those shot as part of the purges of Stalin’s time.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 16 — 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 these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 100th such compilation, and it is again a double issue with 26 from Russia and 13 from Russia’s neighbors. Even then, it is far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.
- Putin Passes Brezhnev for Time in Office but has Only Half as Many Awards. Vladimir Putin is now the second longest-serving Russian leader since 1917 – only Stalin was in charge longer. He has just passed Leonid Brezhnev but wits note that he has far fewer medals and awards than did the aging Soviet leader (polit.ru/news/2017/09/13/record/). Commentators continued to try to define the current Kremlin leader by considering other rulers from the past. One this week drew a parallel between Putin and Aleksandr Nevsky (newsland.com/community/politic/content/putin-segodnia-eto-dubl-aleksandra-nevskogo/5991879). But one thing Putin is not is a dog. A German periodical that had suggested that was forced to apologize (newsland.com/community/politic/content/posolstvo-rf-zhdet-izvinenii-ot-nemetskogo-zhurnala-za-oskorblenie-putina/5992228), and a Russian commentator suggested that calling Putin a dog was an insult to dogs because they are not sadistic or cruel (gordonua.com/blogs/eydman/putin-ne-sobaka-sobaki-ne-byvayut-sadistami-oni-ne-tashchatsya-ot-svoey-zhestokosti-206970.html). Meanwhile, the daughter of Putin’s press secretary was caught plagiarizing in one of her first public efforts (spektr.press/news/2017/09/14/doch-peskova-pojmali-na-plagiate/).
- Kremlin Confirms It’s Delivered Plan to Trump to Restore Ties. Despite rising tensions and a continuing diplomatic flap between Moscow and Washington (themoscowtimes.com/articles/russia-revokes-us-diplomats-parking-rights-amid-sanctions-spat-58952and themoscowtimes.com/news/san-francisco-air-pollution-watchdog-could-punish-russian-consulate-for-burning-garbage-58926), the Kremlin has not given up on the idea of a new deal between Russia and the US and has confirmed reports it has sent a plan to achieve that to the White House (newsru.com/russia/13sep2017/trumplan.html). At the same time, Russian analysts are suggesting that relations between the two leaders may be less a matter of collusion than of common values (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59B2B2ED279CB).
- Municipal Elections Show Parties – and Elections – Becoming Ever Less Important in Russia.Russian observers say that the September 10 municipal elections show that political parties are ever less significant actors (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/181370/) and participation rates show that they are ever less important to the population (afterempire.info/2017/09/10/back-to-sovok/). Despite upbeat official coverage, the voting was marred by serious and increasingly bald-faced cheating (reuters.com/article/us-russia-election-fraud-exclusive/exclusive-at-a-russian-polling-station-phantom-voters-cast-ballots-for-the-tsar-id and themoscowtimes.com/news/ahead-of-elections-moscow-official-caught-on-camera-handing-out-bribes-58894), and because participation was so low, one candidate won after getting a single vote (nao24.ru/vlast/2139-v-velikovisochnom-odin-iz-deputatov-soveta-byl-izbran-odnim-golosom.html) and ten percent of candidates in one republic (Chuvashia) got no votes at all (regnum.ru/news/polit/2320181.html). In the wake of the voting, one commentator suggested that constant talk about the enormous support the population supposedly has for Putin is sapping the moral and even physical energy of Russians (newsland.com/community/7268/content/mysli-vslukh-o-mificheskoi-vsenarodnoi-podderzhke-putina/5988840). Two other developments in the political system were also noteworthy: the Kremlin has set up “a school for governors” to prepare people Putin may name to those positions (profile.ru/politika/item/119495-shkola-dlya-gubernatorov), and a new study has pointed out that if Russian courts were to begin finding more people not guilty, prosecutors would be sending fewer cases to them (babr24.com/msk/?IDE=164942).
- Russia but Not Russians Experiencing Economic Growth. Overall GDP in Russia is growing again but Russians are seeing their incomes and standard of living continuing to decline and are increasingly unhappy about that (newsland.com/community/4788/content/ekonomicheskii-rost-nastupil-dlia-pravitelstva-no-ne-dlia-naroda/5990604,newsland.com/community/4109/content/88-vstaiushchikh-s-kolen-ne-oshchutili-na-sebe-rekordnogo-rosta-ekonomiki/5989338, ng.ru/economics/2017-09-14/1_7074_life.html,politsovet.ru/56563-rossiyane-za-chetyre-goda-lishilis-desyatoy-chasti-dohodov.html and newsland.com/community/5652/content/bolee-poloviny-rossiian-okazalis-nedovolny-svoei-zarplatoi/5995761). And this pattern is projected to continue with pensions slated to fall in real terms at least through 2020 (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2017/09/12/733358-pensii-rossii and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59B772A30C3A5). Other economic news of note this week included: the government has banned officials from purchasing foreign furniture for the next two years in order to save money (https://newsland.com/community/5652/content/pravitelstvo-na-dva-goda-zapretilo-goszakupki-inostrannoi-mebeli/5992112), nearly eight million Russians are now at the edge of bankruptcy (newsland.com/community/5652/content/pochti-vosem-millionov-rossiian-mogut-stat-bankrotami/5991273,rns.online/finance/-OKB-srednii-dolg-potentsialnogo-bankrota-v-Rossii-sostavlyaet-175-mln-rublei–2017-09-13/ and regnum.ru/news/economy/2320206.html), many Russian banks are at risk because of bad loans and inadequate reserves (kommersant.ru/doc/3409892), schools are forcing parents to pay for things that their children used to get for free (newsru.com/russia/12sep2017/pobory.html), there is no bread in at least one Sverdlovsk oblast city (ura.news/news/1052304199), the metallurgy and electronics sectors of the economy are projected to be the closest to disaster (rbc.ru/newspaper/2017/09/13/59b7b4149a794757220572be), five million Russians with jobs are below the poverty line and another five million are close to that (newsland.com/community/129/content/zhit-budem-rossiiane-obnishchaiut-zato-ne-umrut-s-goloda/5995580), and capital flight continues (newsland.com/community/7411/content/ottok-kapitala-iz-rossii-vyros-v-17-raza-prognoz-minfina-ne-opravdalsia/5995256). Summing up the week, one analyst suggested that the best one could say is that Russians are getting poorer but no one is yet starving (lenta.ru/articles/2017/09/15/zarplatanaminimalkakh/).
- Moscow’s Economic Problems Hitting Russians in Other Ways. There is no money for vacations for invalids or orphans and 200,000 residents of children’s homes have been effectively converted into homeless people (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59B8EC7314910and ng.ru/economics/2017-09-14/4_7073_bomzh.html). Women continue to earn much less than men (themoscowtimes.com/news/women-in-russia-earn-much-less-than-men-58950). The number of migrants arriving in Russia has reached a six year low but conflicts between them and the population have not declined as much as expected (vedomosti.ru/newspaper/articles/2017/09/15/733874-pritok-migrantov and newsland.com/community/4765/content/ot-iznasilovanii-i-ubiistv-migranty-pereshli-k-pogromam-i-teraktam/5987674). But Russia has “grown” in two ways: it now is producing ever more plastic bags even as the world seeks to avoid their use to protect the environment (profile.ru/economics/item/119548-plastikovaya-tryasina) and Russia now has surpassed all European countries in terms of visits to pornography sites showing transgender sex (newsland.com/community/5134/content/rossiia-obognala-evropu-po-interesu-k-porno-s-transgenderami/5995601).
- Russia has Become European Hub for Illegal Drugs. Every fifth Russian now uses one or another illegal drug, and as a result, Russia itself has become Europe’s “hub” for the drug trade (newsland.com/community/4765/content/kazhdyi-piatyi-rossiianin-narkoman-a-rossiia-narkoticheskii-khab-evropy/5986750). The number of abortions in Russia fell last year to 648,000 but that number is still half of the number of live births there and represents a national rate five times that of the European average (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78986). A new poll finds that 40 percent of Russians now favor forced cures for alcoholics (rbc.ru/society/11/09/2017/59b655e79a7947258ee42a4c). Putin’s health optimization program is reducing Russian life expectancy and sparking protests among those who no longer have access to medical facilities (newsland.com/community/5862/content/reforma-zdravookhraneniia-snizhaet-kachestvo-i-prodolzhitelnost-zhizni-rossiian/5990636and newsland.com/community/7170/content/kachaiushchie-galeru-v-pomore-zhiteli-mitinguiut-protiv-zakrytiia-67-roddomov/5989293). In other health news, Russian experts say that half of all deaths of children are the result of doctors’ mistakes (takiedela.ru/news/2017/09/13/mladencheskaya-smertnost/) and that medical training both in school and afterwards is in terrible shape (lenta.ru/articles/2017/02/09/egorov/ and regnum.ru/news/society/2321116.html). In many areas, there are now far fewer specialists than there used to be (regnum.ru/news/society/2319245.html). HIV/AIDS treatment is not even available in all locations (takiedela.ru/news/2017/09/11/nedostatochno-deshev/), and Russians are being warned that they face a deadly virus from China in the coming months (https://www.znak.com/2017-09-12/osenyu_rossiyan_ozhidaet_vspyshka_zabolevaemosti_smertelno_opasnym_virusom_iz_kitaya). Because of poor diet, 12 percent of Russian children now are overweight (iz.ru/643172/mariia-nediuk/ozhireniem-stradaiut-okolo-8-detei-v-strane, kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59B8DBA614E88 and novayagazeta.ru/news/2017/09/13/135232-rospotrebnadzor-v-rossii-tolko-12-absolyutno-zdorovyh-detey). Chemical and even radiological contamination is a problem (newizv.ru/news/city/13-09-2017/v-poiskah-neizvestnogo-kto-i-pochemu-portit-vozduh-v-moskve andhttps://takiedela.ru/2017/09/poligon-ispytaniy/). Demographic losses mean that Moscow is going to have to force more women and especially women pensioners work by 2030 in order to maintain the size of the labor force (gazeta.ru/business/2017/09/07/10878656.shtml). And one Rusisan rector has suggested that a quarter of all Russians take more from society than they give, although he did not suggest how that situation should be remedied (novayagazeta.ru/news/2017/09/09/135140-rektor-vshe-chetvert-rossiyan-neuspeshny-obschestvo-na-nih-tratit-bolshe-chem-poluchaet).
- Putin Worried about Security in North Caucasus. Vladimir Putin says more must be done to ensure stability in the North Caucasus (nakanune.ru/news/2017/9/15/22482992/). One step that has been announced is the creation of a new district there for the Russian Guard (kavpolit.com/articles/rosgvardija_sozdast_na_kavkaze_novyj_okrug-35713/). Other news from the nationalities front this week: a new study documents the negative slur words Russians use for other nations in their country (yaplakal.com/forum7/topic1656122.html), teachers of non-Russian languages fear they soon won’t have jobs and so younger people aren’t likely to go into that profession (business-gazeta.ru/article/357005). Moscow’s efforts to reduce non-Russian language instruction are sparking real opposition and protests in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan (facebook.com/Idel.Realii/posts/538297656502067, nazaccent.ru/content/25335-protivniki-obyazatelnogo-izucheniya-tatarskogo-yazyka-pozhalovalis.html, idelreal.org/a/tatarsky-yazik-zelenodolsk/28731015.html, nazaccent.ru/content/25371-glava-bashkortostana-prinuzhdenie-k-izucheniyu-yazyka.html and idelreal.org/a/28737102.html). Another nation is seeking to have the patronymics used in its language made officially permitted (nazaccent.ru/content/25304-chuvashskie-aktivisty-poprosili-prinyat-zakon-o.html). Enthusiasts and representatives of non-Russian areas are promoting non-Russian language instruction in Moscow (nazaccent.ru/content/25308-komu-yazyka.html). Some Circassians are complaining that the Chechens haven’t spoken out about the fate of their nation in the Middle East even as Grozny has protested what is happening to the Rohingja in Myanmar (kavkazr.com/a/cherkesy-govoryat/28724315.html). And in an action some Russians won’t like: The Evenks have pointed out that their non-Russian republic is at the exact center of Russia (ng.ru/ng_ekologiya/2017-09-13/11_7072_silence.html).
- Molotov Cocktail Thrown at Jewish Center in Moscow. In an action that some have called the beginning of a pogrom, persons unknown have thrown a Molotov cocktail at the building housing the Federation of Jewish Communities in Moscow (rusjev.net/2017/09/13/v-moskve-nachalis-evreyskie-pogromyi-zloumyishlenniki-podozhgli-zdanie-federatsii-evreyskih-obshhin/and snob.ru/selected/entry/128946). Even as repression of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues throughout Russia, the community is appealing the decision of a Russian court to declare it an extremist group (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59B7D8E5607BE and serovglobus.ru/v-serove-svidetelyu-iegovy-otkazali-v-alternativnoj-sluzhbe/#hcq=pecr5vq). Ever more commentators are suggesting that Putin’s tilt toward Russian Orthodoxy has opened the way for Orthodox fundamentalism and terrorism (svoboda.org/a/28724398.html,rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/09/12/1645600.html and portal-credo.ru/site/?act=comment&id=2197). The Moscow Patriarchate has responded by demanding that the Duma pass a law depriving anyone except the church from calling itself “Orthodox” (znak.com/2017-09-15/v_rpc_predlozhili_zapretit_obchestvennym_obedineniyam_imenovat_sebya_pravoslavnymi). Meanwhile, Russia’s Buddhists face the prospect that one of their monasteries in that country will be closed (politsovet.ru/56578-pristavy-poobeschali-snesti-buddistskiy-monastyr-v-kachkanare-zimoy.html), and officials report that the number of mosques in Tatarstan has risen from 24 in 1991 to more than 1500 now (ansar.ru/rfsng/za-25-let-v-tatarstane-kolichestvo-mechetej-vyroslo-bolee-chem-v-60-raz).
- Pskov Leader Says There are Now ‘Two Russias’ – Moscow and Everything Else. A leader in Pskov oblast says that today there are two Russias not one and that the border between them is the ring road about the capital (afterempire.info/2017/09/15/plussa/). And some in the second Russia are beginning to say that their Russia doesn’t need the other one (newsland.com/community/7268/content/moskve-rossiia-bolshe-ne-nuzhna/5987644).
- Police Do Nothing about Violent Actions by SERB Against Navalny Monument. In what is becoming a commonplace, Russian police have ignored violence by some informal groups that attack people the regime doesn’t like, most prominently this week by the SERB nationalist group against a plaque on a house in which the murdered Boris Nemtsov once lived (echo.msk.ru/news/2053980-echo.html, snob.ru/selected/entry/129034and meduza.io/short/2017/09/12/kak-politsiya-reagiruet-na-napadeniya-i-drugie-aktsii-serb-v-odnoy-kartinke). Instead of arresting the perpetrators who took public credit for their actions, the best the authorities could do was to suggest that the sign be put back up but out of public view (themoscowtimes.com/news/moscow-authorities-propose-nemtsov-memorial-inside-entranceway-58925). Other protests overshadowed by the Mathilda crisis, described below,, include one by the parents of invalids about the mistreatment of their children (takiedela.ru/news/2017/09/15/yanealkash/), new protests about conditions in prisons (rosbalt.ru/moscow/2017/09/12/1645552.html), and debtors who threaten to blow up their houses (regnum.ru/news/accidents/2321281.html), and protesters in Yekaterinburg who actually continue to burn cars (politsovet.ru/56553-v-ekaterinburge-prodolzhayut-goret-mashiny.html).
- 11.Matvienko Says Duma has Not Adopted Any Law Restricting Russians’ Freedom. Federation Council speaker Valentina Matvienko may have retired the Orwellian newspeak award this week when she declared that the Russian parliament has never adopted a law that has limited the freedoms of Russians in any way (com/2017-09-15/matvienko_uverena_chto_parlament_ne_prinyal_ni_odnogo_zakona_ogranichivayuchego_svobodu). Even as she said that, the legislature continues to grind out measures that do exactly that. One proposal has called for a ban on the use of Christian or Islamic terrorism (newsland.com/community/8211/content/milonov-khochet-zapreta-v-smi-terminov-khristianskii-i-islamskii-terrorizm/5995242), and another restricts meetings to those who declare exactly what they will be protesting about in advance (politsovet.ru/56525-gosdume-predlozhili-zapretit-mitingi-bez-prichiny.html). Other acts of repression this week include: the blocking of the kompromat.rusite (vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2017/09/14/733798-kompromatru-zablokirovan), the forcing of commentator Yuliya Latynina to leave the country (newsland.com/community/5652/content/zhurnalistka-iuliia-latynina-pokinula-rossiiu/5988853), preventing union leaders from meeting with still-striking long-haul truckers (afterempire.info/2017/09/10/avtoprobeg/), opening an investigation against the SOVA religious and human rights center (nazaccent.ru/content/25307-na-centr-sova-zaveli-delo-za.html), attacking more Navalny offices and blocking his group’s meetings (thebarentsobserver.com/en/life-and-public/2017/09/growing-police-pressure-against-navalnys-office-murmansk and politsovet.ru/56527-chinovniki-zapretili-miting-s-uchastiem-alekseya-navalnogo-v-ekaterinburge.html), warning parents against allowing their children to take part in demonstrations (fontanka.ru/2017/09/07/128/), and the firebombing of the apartment of a Moscow opposition journalist (snob.ru/selected/entry/128956).
- Many of Russia’s Two Million Private Security Guards Said Incompetent. Many of the more than two million Russians – that is one for every 70 people in the population — now employed as private security guards are incompetent or worse, according to some experts (business-gazeta.ru/article/356918), and a new study finds that police forces organized by local officials are often not much better and carry with them serious risks to the legitimacy of the government (csr.ru/issledovaniya/lokalnye-initsiativy-ohrany-obshhestvennogo-poryadka-v-rossii-ot-narodnyh-druzhin-do-munitsipalnoj-militsii/). One development this week that doesn’t fit neatly into any category but may have consequences for law and order in Russia is this: veterans of military actions say that prostitutes have provided them with needed services and deserve to be protected rather than harassed by officials (ura.news/news/1052304307).
- Even Bulgaria Now Says Russia is Threat to Its Neighbors. Bulgaria, the only country in the world that twice unsuccessfully tried to join the Soviet Union, now says that Putin’s Russia is a threat to it and to other countries as well (vz.ru/politics/2017/9/13/886869.html). Other “security” developments include: 45 percent of Russians – an all-time high – say they fully approve the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its consequences (newsland.com/community/8171/content/rastet-chislo-rossiian-kotorye-polozhitelno-otsenivaiut-pakt-molotova-ribbentropa/5994036). Moscow has discovered that its aircraft carrier can’t handle its latest planes (charter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/8/262304/) and that Russia’s Pacific Fleet is entirely outclassed by the US ones there (newsland.com/community/8211/content/tikhookeanskii-flot-rossii-s-treskom-proigryvaet-gonku-vooruzhenii-v-atr/5990411). The Russian military has launched a campaign to tell Russians that conditions in the military are better than have been reported (newizv.ru/news/society/11-09-2017/mylo-u-soldat-est-i-poroshok-tozhe-rosgvardiya-pokazala-svoi-kazarmy). Moscow media have focused on the death sentence handed down against a Russian in Iraq (lenta.ru/news/2017/09/12/russian_sentenced_to_death/), and for the first time, Russian officials have released data showing that 64 Soviet soldiers lost their lives during the Cuban Missile Crisis (polit.ru/news/2017/09/09/cuba/).
- Support Growing for Restoring Dzerzinsky Statue in Moscow. One of the signal events of 1991 may now be reversed: support in Russia appears to be growing to restore the statue of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police, to the pedestal in front of the Lubyanka (vpk-news.ru/articles/38758). Also this week, busts of Stalin, Gorbachev and Yeltsin appeared in Moscow with varying degrees of support (kp.ru/daily/26730/3756792/); “Russia Parks” open in Stavropol and Yekaterinburg (rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78927), and conflicts over statues have now spread to Russian-occupied Crimea as well (https://ru.krymr.com/a/28724549.html).
- Is the Mathilda Dispute Today’s Equivalent of the Avrora’s Guns in 1917? At least one commentator suggests that it is and that the divide that the controversy over the film about the last tsar’s love life could point toward revolution or civil war (newsland.com/community/3550/content/zalp-avrory-1917-god-zalp-matildy-2017-god/5995627). Theaters, governors, organizations, and ordinary Russians are lining up on the two sides, with each warning of the direst of consequences if the other wins (znak.com/2017-09-13/avtor_pisem_s_ugrozami_kinoprokatchikam_iz_za_pokaza_matildy_obrushilsya_na_medinskogo ), rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=78927, polit.ru/article/2017/09/11/romanov_justice/,echo.msk.ru/news/2053350-echo.html, and politsovet.ru/56526-avtora-bilbordov-protiv-matildy-vyzvali-v-fsb.html). The level of passions and even violence is causing some to back away: the Russian Orthodox Church has warned against any violence in this area (politsovet.ru/56530-v-rpc-otricayut-svyaz-mezhdu-podzhogami-i-veruyuschimi.html), one politician has suggested that the leader of the anti-Mathilda movement should be examined by a psychiatrist (ura.news/news/1052304388), and a commentator has conclude that the whole thing reflects “the Crimeanization” of Russian politics, given that Natalya Poklonskaya comes from there, a trend he says that may be as fateful as Chechenization has been (graniru.org/opinion/portnikov/m.264013.html).
- 17 National Anti-Doping Agencies Call for Russian Athletes to Be Banned from 2018 Olympiad. The anti-doping agencies of 17 countries have signed a joint appeal calling for imposing a ban on Russian athletes at next year’s Olympic Games (newsland.com/community/7285/content/17-stran-vystupili-za-otstranenie-rossii-ot-olimpiady-2018/5995069http://www.interfax.ru/sport/579115). That appeal has largely gotten lost in coverage of a New York Timesreport that WADA has concluded that it has insufficient evidence about doing actions in Russia, even though the organization still believes that Moscow organized such an effort (versia.ru/wada-ne-smoglo-najti-dokazatelstv-narusheniya-rossijskimi-sportsmenami-antidopingovogo-rezhima, ria.ru/analytics/20170915/1504822276.html, and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/09/15/73856-za-nedostatochnostyu-dokazatelstv). Moscow is outraged and some are calling for disbanding WADA and bringing criminal charges against the author of the original report about Russian doping at Sochi (newsland.com/community/5325/content/mok-raspustit-wada-razorit-maklarena-pod-sud/5994233). Meanwhile, more Russian athletes have tested positive for illegal drugs (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59B3B0B61A6EA and svpressa.ru/war21/article/181111/). Within Russia, ever more people are discovering that Putin’s push for the World Cup will have negative consequences for them: World Cup cities, it has been announced, won’t hold school graduation balls next year (ura.news/news/1052303645), people in those cities are already having to pay a price for the construction of stadiums and other facilities and don’t like it (newsland.com/community/5652/content/pochemu-za-stadion-dolzhny-platit-peterburzhtsy/5989611), and students in some venue cities are going to be displaced in order to provide housing for security officers (meduza.io/feature/2017/09/14/v-ekaterinburge-na-vremya-chempionata-mira-po-futbolu-iz-obschezhitiy-vyselyat-studentov-i-zaselyat-politseyskih). Moreover, few Russians will be able to afford to attend many of the competitions – the most expensive seats will be 66,000 rubles (more than 1,000 US dollars) (business-gazeta.ru/news/357267?utm_source=top24-news); and Ukraine has announced that it won’t broadcast any World Cup competition held in Russia (svpressa.ru/society/article/181399/).
- Anonymous Bomb Threats Called Hybrid War Against Russia. The wave of anonymous calls about the supposed planting of bombs in Russian cities that have forced the authorities to evacuate more than 100,000 people has been called a hybrid war against Russia, the response of outside forces to the Zapad 2017 exercises(ng.ru/politics/2017-09-15/2_7074_war.html). Such hyperbolic rumors have happened because the authorities have refused to comment about them, saying that any report would spread panic or spark copycat crimes (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2017/09/15/733866-vlasti-ne-kommentiruyut). That reaction in turn has led one commentator to draw the disquieting parallel between the government-organized explosions that marked the rise of Vladimir Putin in 1999 and these latest threats which so far have proved to be without foundation (ej.ru/?a=note&id=31564).
- Muscovites Vandalize Park Where Rossiya Hotel Once Stood. In the immediate wake of the opening of a park on the site where the Rossiya Hotel once stood, Muscovites stole plants and destroyed infrastructure, prompting suggestions that this reflected a dangerous infantilism among the residents of the Russian capital and the Russian mentality more generally (themoscowtimes.com/news/zaryadye-parks-glass-dome-vandalized-one-day-after-opening-58911, thequestion.ru/questions/312573/zaryade-nachali-rastaskivat-i-portit-eto-russkii-mentalitet-ili-chto, vz.ru/society/2017/9/14/887021.html, and moslenta.ru/city/psikholog-ran-obyasnila-boleznyu-povedenie-moskvichei-v-parke-zaryade-14-09-2017.htm).
- Methane Bubbles from Melting Permafrost Continue to Disrupt Russian North.Huge bubbles of methane gas, which has escaped from melting permafrost, are destroying infrastructure in the Russian North. The Siberian Times provides a video of one such bubble (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/video-shows-methane-leaking-from-beneath-an-arctic-river-after-spectacular-eruption/).
- Moscow’s Embassy in London Says Mount Everest is Part of Russia. Granted that Vladimir Putin has said that Russia has no borders and that others have suggested its borders are anywhere it wants them, the Russian embassy in London nonetheless has provoked negative comment by suggesting that Mount Everest is within the Russian Federation (themoscowtimes.com/news/russian-embassy-says-everest-is-part-of-russia-58905).
- Russian Passport Less Useful This Year than Last.Russians keep careful track of where their nation’s passport will allow them to travel without visas or other constraints. After becoming more useful in the early years of this century, in the last year, its value as measured in those terms has again declined (profile.ru/obsch/item/119561-krasnokozhaya-pasportina).
- Russia to Cut Support for Donbass to Finance Two Other Exclaves. The Russian government has announced that due to budgetary stringencies it is reducing its subsidies to the Russian-occupied Donbass in order to spend more on Russian-occupied Crimea and Kaliningrad (http://echo.msk.ru/news/2055770-echo.html).
- An All Too Typical Russian Question: Was Yeltsin a Jew?Whenever a former Russian leader comes to be despised, some Russians can be counted on to ask whether he had hidden Jewish ancestry. That has now happened with Boris Yeltsin, but researchers say that the available genealogical resources do not allow for that conclusion (russian7.ru/post/boris-elcin-kem-on-byl-po-nacionalno/?utm_source=infox.sg).
- Indifference, Superstition and Avoiding Foreign Travel Allow Russians to be Happy.According to one commentator, Russians can in fact be happy if they display indifference to their surroundings, believe superstitiously that everything can at some point be magically transformed, and avoid travelling abroad where they might reach unwelcome conclusions about their own country (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/09/14/1645775.html).
- Moose on the Loose Shows Moscow Really is One Big Village. A moose rampaged through the streets of Moscow this week, disrupting traffic and otherwise creating chaos (kp.ru/daily/26732.7/3758790/). Meanwhile, a review of the capital’s 5700 streets found some that were especially humorous or in appropriate. One broken-down neighborhood had a Happy Street, for example (newsland.com/community/7598/content/10-ulits-s-samymi-smeshnymi-nazvaniiami/5989476).
- Omsk Residents Fill Potholes with Potatoes. Fed up with the failure of officials to repair their roads, residents of the Siberian city of Omsk have come up with an original way of doing it themselves: they have filled the holes in the streets and highways with potatoes (vk.com/chp55?w=wall-62832959_1049117).
And 13 more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:
- Belarusians Politely Ask Russian Troops to Go Home. Both before and now during the Zapad 2017 exercise, Belarusian activists have politely asked that Russian troops that Moscow and Minsk have agreed will be in their country for maneuvers stay at home and challenged their knowledge of geography, pointing out that “Belarus is Not Russia” and informing them that they might as well do so because “there’s no vodka here” (newsland.com/community/5392/content/nachalis-rossiisko-belorusskie-ucheniia-zapad-2017/5994340,belaruspartisan.org/politic/394036/, belsat.eu/ru/in-focus/protest-protiv-voennyh-uchenij-zapad-2017-itogovyj-reportazh-belsata/, charter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/15/262964/,facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=275152043000054&set=a.115110742337519.1073741828.100015157809759&type=3&theaterand charter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/8/262303/).
- ‘Veishnoria’ Attracts Belarusian Supporters. As part of the Zapad exercise, organizers postulated the existence of an imaginary enemy country, “Veishnoria,” in the western part of Belarus and gave the territory its own flag (rus.err.ee/618830/vydumannaja-dlja-uchenij-zapad-2017-strana-vejshnorija-zazhila-svoej-zhiznju-i-nabiraet-opolchenie). But as often happens with Moscow’s plans, this one has had some unintended consequences: Many Belarusians are now identifying with Veishnoria precisely because it is “opposing” Lukashenka and Putin, and a hymn in its defense by one Belarusian band has gone viral (http://belsat.eu/ru/opinions/vejshnoriya-eto-novorossiya-naoborot/ and charter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/15/262941/).
- Some Russians Say Belarusians Dream of Being Occupied But More Seem Interested in Joining NATO.A Russian military site suggests that Belarusians have long been “dreaming” that Russia will occupy and absorb their country (topwar.ru/124606-rossiya-kak-agressor-kto-sleduyuschiy-na-zavoevanie.html), but just how wrong that is and even how such attitudes are proving counterproductive from Moscow’s point of view are reports that the Zapad exercise by itself is leading ever more Belarusians to think that in the future, they would be better off as part of the Western alliance (charter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/9/262352/).
- Leader Cult Far Less Developed in Belarus than in Many CIS Countries. Many have been talking for so long about Alyaksandr Lukashenka as “the last dictator in Europe” that they have failed to notice that compared to the heads of many other CIS countries, including the Russian Federation, his cult of personality is far less developed. That is because, experts say, the Belarusian people simply won’t support such a development; and that in turn is a reason for some optimism about the future (belaruspartisan.org/politic/394831/).
- Putin Concerned Residents of Occupied Crimea Aren’t Taking Russian Citizenship.Vladimir Putin has expressed concern and called for an investigation into why many residents of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula are still refusing to take Russian citizenship as the Kremlin has required (versia.ru/putin-poruchil-razobratsya-so-sluchayami-otkaza-zhitelyam-kryma-v-grazhdanstve-rf). He is probably also concerned that tourist visitors to the peninsula have continued to drop each year since he invaded (sobkorr.ru/news/59B9369C9D769.html).
- More than 10,000 Dead and 24,000 Wounded Since Military Actions Began in the Donbass.The United Nations has released its latest effort of losses in the region on all sides, concluding that more than 34,000 military and civilian people have been killed or wounded (gordonua.com/news/war/za-vremya-boevyh-deystviy-na-donbasse-s-obeih-storon-postradali-pochti-348-tysyach-chelovek-oon-206809.html ).
- Saakashvili Isn’t the Only Former Post-Soviet President Who Can’t Go Home Again.Mikael Saakashvili’s return to Ukraine and his inability to return to Georgia calls attention to the fact that there are now four former presidents of the post-Soviet states who aren’t able to live in the countries they once headed (kommersant.ru/doc/3404112). One commentator suggested that Saakashvili’s return to his second homeland reflected the fact that “when God wants to punish Ukraine, he sends in Saakashvili” (politnavigator.net/kogda-bog-khochet-nakazat-ukrainu-on-posylaet-saakashvili.html).
- ‘Don’t Call Us “Former Soviet Republics,’” Balts Say. The ambassadors of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Paris issued a joint statement saying that they should not be called “former Soviet republics” because in fact they were occupied countries that continued to be recognized as such internationally (ura.news/news/1052303682). That opened the way, however, for one Russian commentator to suggest that they were “not post-Soviet” but rather “Soviet” in their approach to many things (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/15092017-strany-baltii-ne-postsovetskie-oni-sovetskie/).
- Biggest Shock for Russian Visitors to Baltic Countries: Their Co-Ethnics Do the Dirty Work. Russians often visit the three Baltic countries with varying reactions, but according to one Moscow journalist, what surprises them most is that in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, ethnic Russians do the hard and low-paid work that at home Central Asians and Caucasians do (gazeta.ru/comments/column/mironova/10874966.shtml).
- Moscow Recruits Smugglers to Penetrate Estonia. Among the ways the Russia security services have of getting into the Baltic countries is to use Russian smugglers as a channel for their efforts to recruit Baltic citizens to work for Moscow (meduza.io/feature/2017/09/14/kak-fsb-verubet-rossiyskih-kontrabandistov-dlya-shpionazha-v-estonii-rassledovanie-buzzfeed-i-re-baltica).
- ISIS Redirecting Its Focus to CIS Countries. Experts in Russia and other post-Soviet countries say the Islamic State, following defeats in the Middle East, is redirecting its efforts toward the CIS and that more terrorism there can thus be expected (eurasia.expert/pereedet-li-igil-v-sng/).
- Kazakhs Preparing Film on Soviet Genocide There in 1920s and 1930s. A group of Kazakh filmmakers are preparing a movie on the forcible sedentarization and collectivization of the ethnic Kazakhs by the Soviets that destroyed nearly a third of the population at the end of the 1920s and 1930s. The film is certain to spark a new wave of nationalism in that country (ratel.kz/outlook/film_o_genotside_kazahov_osnovano_na_istoricheskih_sobytijah).
- New Wave of Disappearances in Turkmenistan Sparks Protests. The dictatorial regime in Turkmenistan is “disappearing” ever more of its opponents, an action that is provoking protests among Turkmens beyond the immediate reach of Ashgabat (fergananews.com/news/26863).
Paul Goble Staunton, September 16 – Most people have interpreted Vladimir Putin’s attacks on non-Russian languages in general and on Tatar in Tatarstan in particular as a reflection of his centralizing and Russian nationalist agenda; but in fact, Ilshat Sayetov says, the struggle over languages in Tatarstan is first and foremost about power and about control of oil. Why did Putin raise this issue now? the Kazan political scientist asks. He was gradually getting what he wanted from Kazan: no extension of the power-sharing agreement, the projected end of the title of republic president, and so on and didn’t need any public fight before the elections (idelreal.org/a/yazik-eto-pokazatel-suvereniteta-ilshat-saetov/28737289.html). With time and with relatively little fuss, Sayetov says, the status of Tatarstan was going to be reduced; “and after the elections of the president of Russia, additional steps in the economic sphere could be taken.” So why now? The answer lies in the Russian economic crisis and the status of the oil industry. Tatarstan, he points out, is “almost the only place in Russia where large oil and oil and gas processing enterprises are not [now] controlled by federal bureaucrats and oligarchs. This is a very importance resource, and in Russia, over the last several years, the economic ‘pie’ has been getting smaller.” Putin and his team have been interested in gaining control of Tatarstan’s assets in this area; but their earlier attempts, the Kazan scholar points out, have been unsuccessful in large part because “the political weight of the republic” is too great for Moscow to move as fast and as far as it would like. That becomes obvious if one considers the case of Bashkortostan where the power of the republic declined and then people around Putin in Moscow swooped in an took away its most important enterprises. All this, Sayetov says, explains why the language fight is occurring, why it is not simply about language, and thus why it is so fierce. If Tatarstan loses on the language issue, many in the republic will take that as a sign of where things are heading; and Kazan will lose some of the base it now has. Given that Moscow may succeed in reducing Tatar language instruction, it is highly probable that in the near future there will be other and perhaps even more important changes as well.
A mass demonstration was held on September 16 in Ufa, the capital of the Russian region of Bashkortostan, to support the official status of the Bashkir language. Protesters demanded the reinstatement of mandatory Bashkir-language classes in the republic’s schools.Organizers said some 2,000 people participated in the unsanctioned rally, which was held under close police supervision. The demonstration was organized by the unregistered Bashquort organization. (RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service)
UFA, Russia — By the Bashkortostan regional government’s own admission, this Russian region is a "blank spot" on the country’s tourism map. But not for long. The region of some …
Paul Goble Staunton, September 16 – After opposition candidates appeared to have won 260 mandates in Moscow city district councils, the city’s election agency ordered recounts because of supposed falsifications of the results in what is a transparent effort to displace the opposition winners in favor of pro-Kremlin United Russia candidates. This has the effect, Znak’s Yekaterina Vinokurova says, of returning the city and indeed Russia as a whole to the situation in which the widespread conviction that the authorities had stolen the elections prompted a wave of mass protests (com/2017-09-15/nepriyatie_itogov_vyborov_2017_vernulo_moskovskie_vlasti_v_2011_god). Unlike in 2011, when opposition groups were charging officials with falsification, now officials are using what they say are various electoral violations to justify recounts that may lead to a change in the outcomes of at least some races, reducing the number of opposition winners and increasing the number of United Russia ones. Given that city officials had earlier declared that the voting had taken place without significant violations and that the recounts so far have been ordered only in places where opposition figures won, there are certain to be suspicions that officials are once again stealing the election. Grigory Melkonyants, a leader of the Golos organizing, tells Vinokurova that “nothing new has taken place in Moscow. Recounts with ensuring falsification of results of the voting in the capital were widely applied in 2011 when voters chose the sixth State Duma.” At the time, Russians demanded a more honest approach to voting. Andrey Kolyadin,head of regional programs at the Moscow Institute of Social Research, adds that “the government needs to understand that if it does not fulfill at least part of its own laws, sometimes citizens will cease to fulfill theirs,” implicitly acknowledging that there may have been real violations but that officials are treating them selectively. And Yekaterina Schulmann of the Presidential Academy of Economics and State Service notes that “the protests against falsification of the elections in 2011-2012 exerted an enormous influence on elections throughout the country,” including in Moscow where the number of observers has typically been highest and the possibilities of violations least. But she warns that “the undemocratic tradition of complete control by the mayor’s office of local administrations and the actual lack of local self-administration” remain very much alive. She suggests that it is critical that Russians protest against this as much as possible because “society still doesn’t have any more effective instruments of influence” on the authorities. Given the low level of participation in the municipal elections on September 10, it seems unlikely that there will be the mass protests about this that accompanied the Duma vote. But at the same time, conditions in the country are much worse; and any protest that does occur could rapidly gain the backing of many concerned about other things as well.
Gas bubbles from waters filling crater hole on Yamal peninsula two months after volcanic-style explosion in thawing permafrost.
Paval Seviarynets invited patriots to keep a close watch on Russian tanks in Vorsha. Co-chairman of the organizing committee for the Belarusian Christian Democracy party Pavel Seviarynets together with his colleagues invited the Belarusians to “Night on Guard” in Vorsha to see if additional Russian tanks are being transferred to Belarus. The information that Russian tanks which were not intended to participate in the West-2017 exercises, were alerted and started moving to Belarus appeared on the afternoon of September 14. Late in the evening on September 14 Paval Seviarynets wrote on his Facebook page: “There is a train with covered trucks at Vorsha Zakhodniaya, which arrived this morning. There are three servicemen-Belarusians in the building of the Central Station. There are police patrols. The situation is quiet. There are no tanks…
The authorities of Belarus announced the receipt of a Russian-allocated loan of $700 million. "On September 15, 2017, the state financial loan …
Transnistria / Moldova Reports
Hundreds of people took part in a rally in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, on September 17 to denounce a new electoral law. The protesters chanted slogans such as “We will not give up” and “Victory!” Critics say the legislative changes favor the country’s two largest political parties while supporters of the new rules insist they will make politicians more accountable. Already signed by Moldovan President Igor Dodon, the law is due to be first applied in the next parliamentary elections in November 2018. (RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service)
17.09.17 10:57 -The North Atlantic alliance adheres to the “open door” policy towards Ukraine. According to Censor.NET, with reference to LIGABusinessInform, Tacan Ildem, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, spoke about this at the 14th annual forum of the Yalta European Strategy. He recalled that the decision of the 2008 Bucharest Summit is still in force – that Ukraine will become a member of NATO. “Sovereign and independent Ukraine is key to Euro-Atlantic security,” he said, adding that NATO will never recognize the annexation of the Crimea. According to him, the Alliance has proof that the policy of “open doors” is working in practice. Such proof is the accession of Montenegro to NATO.
The release of Ukrainian hostages and political prisoners in Russian-occupied Donbas and Russia will be on the agenda of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s working visit to the United States where he is to take part in the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, according to his post on Facebook. News 17 September from UNIAN.
The recent news about the appointment of a professional diplomat, former acting head of Ukraine’s Mission to NATO Yehor Bozhok chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine has caught me by surprise. I believe that all those who know him personally had the same reaction. Just a couple of days ago I heard that Bozhok was allegedly expected to be appointed head of the department for European and Euro-Atlantic integration at the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Come to think about it, I was surprised at how elegant and wise the latest decision was. That’s because there can be only one conclusion – the country’s leadership now believes that the time has come for the SZR, Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service, to change. The SZR is one of the most low-profile agencies in Ukraine. Established in 2004, it remains under direct control of the Ukrainian president. Its headquarters hosts some 4,000 personnel engaged in intelligence activities in the political, economic, military-technical, scientific, technical, information, and environmental spheres. And we must understand that the operations of intelligence agencies cannot be subject to in-depth media coverage. In 2005, in one of the publications covering the SZR, there came a claim that the intel reports on threats to national security were deliberately watered down, only to escape the then-president’s wrath. This will certainly not be the case with Yehor Bozhok. Besides, Petro Poroshenko is a good listener. Not all SZR operatives will find it easy to be working with their new chief. The smart ones, who are ready for new challenges, will see a true leader in him, capable of leading the team to a designated goal and achieve concrete results. He’s a well-articulated and structured man, a real clear thinker, who does not lose focus and waste time on mediocre issues, being able to set tasks clearly. None of the mission’s staff, where he, until recently, was an acting chief, can actually complain about high ‘excessive demands’ or too hard of a work as their chief “plowed” his field harder than a horse. In addition, he created a real team, seeing each one’s potential and using it all to achieve a common goal. With Bozhok at the helm, a blacksmith wouldn’t bake pies, so to speak.Therefore, the composition of Ukraine’s mission to NATO while he was in office can be considered one of the most effective teams. “Under-the-carpet games” is also not about the man. He is the leader of the European type, the one who demands results but does not set unrealistic tasks. If something does not work out that well – he sits down with you and joins in on the task alongside. Former NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow spoke of Yehor Bozhok as a “hard-working guy”. This is the kind of recommendation is anything but easy to get. The NATO officials who communicated with Bozhok would approach him by “Mr. Ambassador”. The very style of the Ukrainian Mission to NATO’s work enjoyed respect on the ground. And it’s not just words. Here are the facts: last year at the Warsaw summit, Ukraine was granted the CAP – Comprehensive Assistant Package from NATO. It was initially Bozhok’s idea, and he did his best to make it come to life. A wide range of events, a bulk of ideas – it was him who generated this all. If not for his inner drive and motivation, we would have never seen such results. He did his best to modernize the Annual National Program of Cooperation with NATO, transforming it from a thick, useless document into a working tool that is easy to understand and implement. Previously, each year it would include over 20 pages of “copy-paste” phrases, but he ensured that the new program be drafted together with NATO experts. I believe that, given Yehor Bozhok’s recommendations, he was appointed to this position with a specific task – to reform the SZR. And he will succeed: he will study the structure, understand what needs to be changed, and develop (or maybe he already has) a real plan. The key issue will be the team – whether he will be able to shape it and whether he will enjoy support within the agency. With a good team and required support, everything he has in mind will become a success. Iryna Somer
Klimkin: Ukraine still sensitive to cyber, hybrid threats from Russia. Ukraine has already learnt to resist Russia’s military threat. Ukraine has learnt to resist a military threat from Russia but the risk of hybrid attacks remains on the agenda, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has said at the 14th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. “We saw how we can resist a military threat but we are very sensitive to cyber and other hybrid threats,” an LB.ua correspondent present at the forum quoted Klimkin as saying. The foreign minister anticipates more risks to Ukraine after the elections in Russia. He said he is wary of Russia’s attempts to bribe Ukrainian politicians by all means, to split society in terms of the language issue and to cause other problems to Ukraine. “This is what Russia’s mainstream policy on Ukraine still is,” he said. For Ukraine to be able to withstand these challenges, solidarity of the international community is important, the minister said.
17.09.17 08:13 – At the end of the previous day, the situation in the area of the ATO was somewhat exacerbated, but remained a controlled Ukrainian army. According to the Censor.NET, with reference to the press center of the ATU headquarters, during the past day illegal armed formations violated the truce 35 times. In the course of almost half of the shelling of our positions, ATO forces opened fire. The loss among the Ukrainian military net.ya After 18 hours, the Russian occupiers activated shelling our positions single-handedly using mortars of various calibers. So, in the evening militants thrice with a mortar of the caliber of 82 millimeters, grenade launchers, small arms were beaten by our defenders in the area of the Avdeevskaya industrial zone. Also in the Donetsk direction under enemy fire the strengthening of the ATU forces at Major and Peskov hit. On the Primorsky direction of the 82-mm mortar shell, the enemy opened fire on the outskirts of Shirokino and Pavlopol. And the facts of the enemy’s use of grenade launchers are fixed in Bogdanovka, Vodyanaya, Staragnatovka. It was also uneasy in the Lugansk direction. Here in the evening and night the militants thrice thrust from mortars of various calibers along our fortifications in the vicinity of the Crimean. Mortars caliber 120 and 82 millimeter invaders used in Novotoshkovskom. Google Translate for Business:Translator ToolkitWebsite Translator
Produced in Russia drone Orlan fell in the Donbas conflict zone, according to the Ukrainian Army HQ on Faceboook. “Ukrainian air defense didn’t manage to take down the drone, even though it was tracking the drone’s route. However, morning Orlan fell down by itself yesterday, due to a technical malfunction. It corresponds to the model produced in Russia,” the HQ informs.
Ukraine’s Oplot fires at the same speed as Russia’s T-90 and can even outpace it on the road, but so far Kiev has only exported the machine to other countries.
Court freezes shares in Motor Sich after security services allege military aircraft supplier’s assets were to be taken out of the country, Ukrainian media report
Ukraine’s top prosecutor has said former Georgian President and Ukrainian regional governor Mikheil Saakashvili will not be arrested for defying authorities with his dramatic return to the countr…
KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia and Ukraine are expected to ink a document in relation to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 three years ago, this week.
ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will not be expelled from Ukraine and will not be arrested in connection with the incident at the Shegyni checkpoint that occurred on September 10. – Saakashvili will not be expelled from Ukraine or arrested, – Prosecutor General – 112.international
ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will not be expelled from Ukraine and will not be arrested in connection with the incident at the Shegyni checkpoint that occurred on September 10.
The former prime minister and leader of the People’s Front, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has put forward the idea of a new political platform. He said this on the sidelines of the 14th Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting when he was asked to comment on the prospects for a merger between the People’s Front and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc-Solidarity. “Not a merger between the People’s Front and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc but the formation of a new political platform which would involve all people of this country who can do something and know how to do this,” he said. He added that the core of this platform can be formed by the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the People’s Front but it is just a discussion for now. “I say it as I see it. If it happens, we’ll have one party. If it does not happen, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc will go its own way, we will go take our own path and we’ll meet at the elections,” he said. In the summer of 2017, Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko suggested that a new pro-government party should be set up in Ukraine but not on the basis of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the People’s Front. MP Mustafa Nayem said that the People’s Front and the Petro Poroshenko Bloc had in practice become one thing and were preparing for elections.
Ukrainian authorities say three children have been killed in a fire at a youth camp in Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odesa. Authorities said on September 16 that the fire swept through a tw…
Footage shows parents protesting in Odessa, Ukraine, over a deadly fire at a children’s camp.
Three years after the country sank into conflict, its government is pursuing economic reforms.
Ukraine will try to stabilize soaring domestic meat prices without having to resort to curbs on exports, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on Saturday.
Deep tunnels that kept workers safe during the conflict also offer the perfect conditions for making bubbly
In Ukraine, schoolchildren are classically polished, according to Soviet traditions, but with a bright jolt of Western influence.
Earlier this year, armed protesters used violence and threats to force Ukraine’s government into a substantial policy reversal: a ban on anthracite coal im….
Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports
The time has come for sharing spheres of influence and interests in Syria. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has emerged as a shrewd tactician no…
Russia denies targeting alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in Deir Az Zor as both sides battle ISIL in the province.
The U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria says the Russian military has struck forces backed by Washington in the war-torn country, injuring several allied fighters. Th…
A Russian strike wounded members of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, the anti-ISIS coalition said Saturday, near the city of Deir Ezzor.
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:55 P.M.) – According to a statement released by the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition, Russia was knowingly responsible for the carrying out of
A U.S.-backed force in Syria said a Russian airstrike wounded six of its fighters Saturday near the eastern city of Deir el-Zour while in southeast Syria.
Russia has dismissed allegations that its military struck U.S.-backed forces in war-torn Syria, injuring several allied fighters. Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said o…
Isis is the most likely inspiration for the bomb explosion on the tube train at Parsons Green station.
Iraqi forces drove Islamic State militants from an area in the western desert near the borders with Syria and Jordan on Saturday, making further inroads into the group’s last remaining territory in the country.
Russia, at a meeting of the G6 countries (Russia, Great Britain, China, USA, France and Germany) with Iran, which will be held in New York on …
DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports
North Korea defectors in the United States are torn amid escalating tensions. Some want military action, while others want the harsh rhetoric to stop.
North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test has renewed discussion at the highest levels of the Trump administration about how military force could be used to stop Kim Jong Un’s development of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.
North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japan set sirens blaring and triggered alerts telling people to seek shelter — yet neither Tokyo nor Washing
As the U.S. and its allies look to impose even stricter measures against North Korea, leader Kim Jong Un could find inspiration from oppressive regimes of
Pyongyang is open about its nuclear ambitions, but its other weapons programmes are more secretive.
The United Nations targeted North Korea’s growing garment industry in its latest sanctions.
Seven African nations have come under scrutiny for violating U.N. sanctions against North Korea, but most African countries engage in at least some trade with the reclusive East Asian regime
Looking at the U.S.-China experience in the mirror, could the Trump administration apply a similar template to North Korea?
Select group able to cross border freely offer valuable service as business intermediaries
In one of London’s grandest military clubs, its walls hung with portraits of moustachioed generals and field marshals evoking an age when Britain’s Armed Forces were perhaps the finest in the world, General Lord Richards and I discuss how well the country is defended today.
Take cover in a sturdy building or get underground. That’s the emergency advice given to people in Japan in the event of a North Korean missile strike. But
Foreign Policy Reports
The German prosecutor’s office in Kaiserslautern said Friday it is looking into a report that the Pentagon used Ramstein Air Base to transport weapons covertly to rebel fighters in Syria — an allegation, that if true, might have broken German law.
What a row over WW2 “pride” comments reveals about Germany’s attitude to remembering its past.
Russia paid $50,000 (£36,800) to the author of a United Nations report which found the country to be the “victim” of sanctions imposed on it by the US and the EU, it has been revealed. An investigator from the UN human rights council said the sanctions, imposed in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, amounted to “unilateral coercive measures”.
Britain will have the military capability of a “Third World nation” unless ministers spend more, a former head of the Royal Navy warned this weekend. Admira
WASHINGTON (AP) — The blaring, grinding noise jolted the American diplomat from his bed in a Havana hotel. He moved just a few feet, and there was silence. He climbed back into be
Raul Castro seemed rattled.
Strategy / History / Capability Publications
Leaders today need to step back and give proper thought to problem-solving, lest they plunge the world into an even deeper crisis.
Revelations that Russia used Facebook ads and events in 2016 underscores what little we know. By Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion | Sept. 15, 2017, at 6:00 a.m. The Russia scandal increasingly looks like a matryoshka doll in reverse. The Russian dolls famously each open to reveal a smaller version nestled inside; the scandal over our foreign…
Oldie but goodie. Most of this is spot on and a great primer for anyone interested in this field. The author’s later works are more… mystical. </end editorial> Thursday, 09 August 2012 03:15 Brandon Smith There was a time, not too long ago (relatively speaking), that governments and the groups of elites that controlled them…
Fake news, bogus accounts, Kremlin-sponsored trolls—and little transparency. AJ VICENS SEP. 13, 2017 3:10 PM Facebook is feeling the heat this week as further details emerge on Russia’s use of its platform to monkeywrench America’s electoral process—the sowing of disinformation and political discord via six-figure ad buys, fake events pages, and Kremlin-sponsored trolling operations. On Tuesday, the leaders of the…
September 13, 2017 Patryk Babiracki from The Washington Post The Soviets lost the Cold War partly because of their crude propaganda. But the Kremlin learned its historical lesson. The recent news about Facebook selling ads during the 2016 election to a Russian troll farm and Russia creating fake online Americans to push anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda show…
Europe Letter: Moscow’s disinformation campaign covers the seedy and the political Thu, Sep 14, 2017, 01:00 Patrick Smyth in Brussels The Danes, if one is to believe the story, are opening brothels for zoophiles. They – the zoophiles, not the Danes – are people with a sexual fixation on non-human animals. The story, which has run…
A cyber investigation is now a part of every incident investigation in the US Navy now. Nobody thinks the ship was hacked, but nevertheless, the possibility must be explored. </end editorial> By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on September 14, 2017 at 12:56 PM WASHINGTON: The Navy is making cyber investigations automatic after any mishap, starting with the at-sea…
I believe this piece is a work of disinformation. I have seen exactly the opposite, Antifa posing as the Alt-Right, often. We’ve seen the fake attacks which were attributed to the Alt-Right, we’ve seen and heard the claims of victimhood after Antifa attacks the police. Notice all the pictures have been contributed by the…
Some may even become more likely to misconstrue fake news as true, the Yale University study says By Gelo Gonzales Published 4:29 PM, September 15, 2017 MANILA, Philippines – A method employed by Facebook to control the spread of fake news is barely working, according to a Yale University study. The study, first reported by Politico,…
Arming Kiev could hinder diplomatic efforts to end the war.
(Berlin) – Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) arbitrarily detained a Ukrainian woman, held her incommunicado, and tortured her, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities charged the woman, Daria Mastikasheva, with treason, and a court in Dnipro has ordered her pretrial detention pending investigation.
US Domestic Policy Reports
Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant for…
Those Russia-linked Facebook ads are more than just a reason for concern — they could play an important role in one of the largest investigations in recent mem…
Facebook has handed over to special counsel Robert Mueller detailed records about the Russian ad purchases on its platform that go beyond what it shared with Congress, according to people familiar with the matter.
WASHINGTON — To the neighbourhood gossips, the grand grey Russian building atop the hill was a goldmine.Now it’s empty.Amid escalating tensions, the U.S. government this month kicked Russians out of . . .
CAMPBELL, OHIO — Forty years ago, on Sept. 19, thousands of men walked into the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube along the Mahoning River before…