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Russia / Strategy Media Update (316) – 25 September 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russians object to Canada supplying weapons to Ukraine, and object to veto limited rule change in UN, while UN Donbas peacekeeper debate continues. LtGen Valeriy Asapov KIA in Syria, formerly Commander of 1st Russian Army Corps in Donbas.

St. Petersburg protest against invasion of Donbass blocked and dispersed by police.  A remarkable collection of reports showing Russia’s ever accelerating dive in the abyss, including Prof Goble’s “A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 101” – as always a must read.

SCMP essay on Belarus captures a nation frozen in time, while Russian-proxy Socialist party in Moldova reboots the Dodon referendum.

Ukraine prepping for Dragon-2017 exercise, while Donbass fires continue. Russians building up weps stocks in Donbass. European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) wants a no-fly-zone East of the Dnieper river, including the cities of Kharkiv, Dnipro and Zaporozhiye – Ukraine objects.

Iran and Kurdish referendum are dominant in media on M.E.

Russia again grandstanding over DPRK.

While Chancellor Merkel wins another term, the CDU/CSU has the worst election result since 1949. Russian proxy SDP does poorly, Russian proxy AfD well.

IW/IO/Cyber again dominated by Russia reports.

Facebook hacking most interesting US domestic Russia report.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Russian lawmakers denounce Justin Trudeau’s promise to get lethal weapons to Ukraine | National Post

A Russian parliamentarian said Saturday that they should ‘do everything possible’ to prevent Canadian arms transfers to Ukraine. Russian parliamentarians are objecting to Canada’s stated plans to eventually sell weapons to Ukraine. After a Friday meeting with visiting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is beginning the lengthy process to certify Ukraine to buy Canadian weapons. In statements reported by Russia’s state-owned Sputnik news agency, lawmaker Andrei Krasov called Trudeau’s comments “short-sighted statements” and said Russia should “do everything possible to prevent it from happening.” Krasov, a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, is a leading member of the Russian State Duma’s defence committee.

UAWire – Russia opposes UN proposal to limit the veto power of permanent members of the Security Council

According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, Aurelia Frick, 114 countries have already supported the initiative of ​​limiting …

UAWire – France and Germany are preparing their proposals on the introduction of UN peacekeepers in the Donbas

The French and German sides are discussing their proposals regarding the mandate of a UN peacekeeping mission in the Donbas, reports Andreas …

Russia wanted to create another Abkhazia in Donbas but failed, – Volker

25.09.17 10:42 – Russia wanted to create another Abkhazia in Donbas but failed, – Volker The Kremlin failed to achieve the goals it set for itself in the Donbas. View news.

Poroshenko’s envoy: Peacekeeping clause may be included in Donbas reintegration bill

Ukrainian Member of Parliament, representative of the Ukrainian president in the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Lutsenko does not rule out that the clause regulating the introduction of a United Nations peacekeeping mission may be included in the bill on the reintegration of Donbas, according to&nbsp;an UNIAN&nbsp;correspondent. News 25 September from UNIAN.

Poroshenko: Merkel’s election win approaches Ukraine’s integrity restoration

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko believes that the victory of the CDU/CSU party bloc headed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the elections to the Bundestag brings closer the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity. News 25 September from UNIAN.

UAWire – Russian general who commanded separatists in eastern Ukraine killed in Syria

Russian general Valery Asapov was killed in Syria, as initially reported by the radio station Govorit Moskva (Moscow Speaks) with a reference to …

General Asapov, former commander of 1st Russian army corps in Donbas, killed in Syria, – Russian MoD

25.09.17 12:35 – General Asapov, former commander of 1st Russian army corps in Donbas, killed in Syria, – Russian MoD Lieutenant General of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Asapov was killed in Syria in an ISIS attack. View news.

Russian General Killed In Syria Fighting, Defense Ministry Says

The Russian Defense Ministry says one of its generals, who was serving as an adviser to Syrian government troops, has been killed in the country’s east, according to state news agency TASS.

UAWire – Russian police did not allow march in support of peace with Ukraine to walk through St. Petersburg

The police did not allow an unauthorized peace march in St. Petersburg to pass along Nevsky Prospekt. A total of about 200 people participated …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘The Emperor isn’t Just Naked: He Doesn’t Exist’ But in Russia, That Doesn’t Threaten His Power, Radzikhovsky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 24 – Because Russians have long realized that there are no real elections in their country, Leonid Radzikhovsky says, they talk instead about “the emperor’s new clothes. But the emperor is not simply naked: he doesn’t even exist.” But because of the nature of Russians, that alone doesn’t constitute any threat to his continuing to rule. Their “fear of power, their national boasting and acceptance of lies about the enemies surrounding [them] and most important of all, the eternal Russian Oblomovite indifference and fatalism” nonetheless ensure that the emperor will not be challenged anytime soon, the Russian commentator says ( Whether Putin goes to Yandex or not doesn’t matter. Russians will vote for a non-existent candidate if they think he is what the rulers want. But in fact, “how is Putin any different” from that candidate – except by name,” Radzikhovsky asks. No one, including him, knows what he is offering. Indeed, he continues, “I think he would be curious to find out about it himself.” Tragically, those now arrayed against him offer no hope either. Grigory Yavlinsky is running again because like a fading screen star, he has no choice but to appear “even in very bad programs and insane comedies. If he stops, he will cease to be invited” to do so again; and thus he has no choice even as he has no chance. As for Aleksey Navalny, the Moscow commentator says, one should not exaggerate his popularity. For Russians, their “poet is Pushkin, their country Russia, their machinegun the Kalashnikov, their tsar Nicholas, their mad woman Poklonskaya and their president Putin” and that isn’t going to change. Moreover, Radzikhovsky says, “to hope for a change of power as a result of economic decline isn’t justified either,” no matter how bad things get. If there is another crisis, Putin and the Kremlin will manage to excuse themselves by blaming others – and all too many Russians will accept whatever they are told. Even if life became much worse, as Lenin used to say, “one must be able to transform the masses into revolutionaries, to inspire them with a revolutionary ideology, to organize spontaneous protest, and to direct it and make it political.” That requires a revolutionary organization, and one doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. Look how long it took Gorbachev to destroy the USSR and how only a war and the weakness of the tsar himself took to destroy the Russian Empire, Radzikhovsky continues. There may be a palace coup, but there is no prospect for a real change for the better unless Russians change first – and there is little sign of that at present.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ulyukayev Case Shows that a Revolutionary Situation is Emerging in Russia, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 24 – For two hundred years, “the history of Russia has been the history of significant political trials,” Vladimir Pastukhov says. Today is “no exception,” and the Ulyukayev trial now taking place is “a clear indication one can expect a fundamental reordering of the Russian political system in the near future.” In these trials, the St. Antony’s College Russian historian says, it is important to recognize that the nominal charges aren’t necessarily the real ones, that the persons charged are not the real targets, and that the organizers of these cases may become the victims if they go beyond what the first person in the state wants ( “There is real to suspect,” he writes, “that the trial of former economic development minister Ulyukayev should become a kind of new Kirov affair and serve as a triggering mechanism for serious changes in the fate of Russia” and that it will open “a new era in the life of the Putin nomenklatura.” The power arrangements based on “understandings” have clearly “exhausted themselves,” Pastukhov argues. And “the psychological stability, when those who observed a number of simple mafia type rules were guaranteed security and ‘defense from the law’ which is not to be confused with ‘the defense of the law.’” Instead, “the Putin guard is entering into unfamiliar territory where no one is protected from anything, where following the rules is no longer useful.” Indeed, the Ulyukayev case highlights this development and thus raise bigger questions about where Russia is heading than a first glance might suggest. According to the official version, Igor Sechin was “the bait” who could get Ulyukayev to accept a bribe, even though there likely wasn’t a bribe but rather the kind of under the table payments that have characterized the Putin system from the beginning. And thus the real question, Pastukhov says, is why did Sechin agree to such a role. The real explanation, the historian suggests, lies in politics not economics, in Sechin’s pursuit of a new political role and not in anyone getting wealthier at least in the short term. Sechin had been pleased earlier to get the possibilities for unlimited wealth that a nominally economic and not political role provided when he was put in charge of Rosneft. But “sometimes one must have an official political status as well,” and Sechin’s desire to recover a political post is why he was willing to get involved in the organization of a case that in most cases he would have simply avoided. Achieving such a return, however, was going to be hard because no one at the top of the political pyramid wanted him back. The people there were “quite comfortable without him” and therefore Sechin “was forced to come up with a situation in which his return would become for the president both possible and desirable.” If that is the case, then Ulyukayev wasn’t Sechin’s target but rather “a lever” he hoped to use like “a newly minted Archimedes to overturn Russia.” According to Pastukhov, it is a matter of indifference to Sechin whether Ulyukayev is a minister or a prisoner. What is important to him instead is “where the government is.” Sechin has his own ideas about government policy and they diverge from those of Dmitry Medvedev and “’the liberal bloc.’” At present, Sechin is one of dozens of people who live in the reflected light of Vladimir Putin and whose positions and power are dependent on him. “Being in fact one of the dozen most influential people [in the country], he is nothing politically.” And as a result, he has become one of “’revolutionaries in spite of themselves’” who need change. “In ‘peace’ time,” Pastukhov says, this wouldn’t be happening. And the fact that it is suggests that “if Sechin is becoming so nervous, then even he has begun to reflect about ‘a Russia without Putin.’ If something happens with Putin, then Sechin could lose everything that he has now. And [his] dreams about a place in the Kremlin would become unachievable.” Only those with official positions would have a change. Medvedev, for example, would simply become president if something happened to Putin, Pastukhov says. But for those like Sechin, the game is more critical because he needs to create a situation in which “the last become first” – and thus the game with Ulyukayev. But Ulyukayev’s arrest was not intended to be an end but rather a beginning. Others would follow and the road to Sechin’s return would be opened. If his plan was to convert “his actual power into political power, then such a risky game was justified [because] the Kremlin is worth a mass.” But in initiating this play, Sechin “forgot about the master of the taiga” who has his own plans. In Sechin’s game, “Putin was reduced to the role of a passive center around whom a game is taking place but who is not in the game.” But Putin isn’t prepared to accept that role and hence he “demonstratively” showed this to Sechin and the rest. That doesn’t mean that Putin disagrees with Sechin. It only means that Putin wants to be the one who determines what happens and when not anyone else, even if that other person acts in ways that he might like. Putin may be quite prepared to dispense with his “old friends” in pursuit of the maintenance of his own power. “A latent expropriation of the expropriators is gaining strength,” Pastukhov argues. “In the political life of Russia, a tectonic shift is taking place” and “there is the sense that Russia is descending in to the chaos of ‘administered terror.’” What Sechin has done is part of this, but Putin is not going to allow anyone else to be the director of the play. Russia is a country where only one person can rule at a time. The history of Stalin’s reign shows that clearly. And what we now know, Pastukhov says, is that it is difficult to imagine a situation in the 1930s in which the Soviet dictator would have agreed to any “’deputy director’” even if the latter were committed to the same course of action. “I suggest,” Pastukhov continues, “that Sechin did not receive support not because his ideas are alien to Putin’s but on the contrary that they have always had on this issue a complete unity off views. It is simple that Putin prefer to run things without voluntary assistants” however much they may appear to be doing his will. Sechin has thus made a play and lost, the historian observers. “But having stopped Sechin, Putin in fact has not said ‘no’ to the philosophy of a game without rules” which he personally finds “ever more attractive. The idea that it is possible to control Russia only with the help of total fear is becoming ever more popular in the elites.” “Putin understands,” Pastukhov concludes, “that the time of ‘not taking decisions’ is rapidly ending” and that he must either change direction or move “from repression to terror. But this must be his choice and not the choice of Sechin. Putin has taken a pause,” one that won’t last long because he “must either move backwards or forward.” He can’t stand still anymore. “Elements of a new revolutionary situation are rapidly being formed” in the wake of Crimea and Syria,” the St. Antony’s scholar says. “Those on top cannot live in the old way, as the Ulyukayev case has shown to all. In principle, Sechin shot in the right direction but he didn’t hit his goal.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 101

Paul Goble Staunton, September 23 — The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore. Consequently, Windows on Eurasia each week presents a selection of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 101st 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.


  1. New Wave of Jokes about Putin No Laughing Matter.  Russians are beginning to tell more jokes about Vladimir Putin, a sure sign, one commentator says, that like Brezhnev who was a target of humor in Soviet times, his reign is approaching its end (  Not surprisingly, the authorities are trying to suppress the spread of such jokes, banning Moscow’s First Channel from telling jokes about the Kremlin leader ( and going after a Saratov editor for making jokes about Putin’s elections ( Other signs that Putin no longer has the overwhelming support he likes to claim and that many others assume is that Russians are beginning to question is priorities not only in giving money to other countries when he has cut spending at home ( but increasingly criticizing him for spending so much on military operations and so little on social needs ( At the same time, two out of three Russians say they want to see Putin continue as president given the alternatives (, and the Kremlin leader picked up a qualified endorsement from his predecessor Mikhail Gorbachev who said that Putin has “more pluses than minuses” (


  1. Morgan Freeman Replaces Trump as Object of Moscow’s Ire.  This week, the Russian media shifted from their recent criticism of Donald Trump in favor of attacking Morgan Freeman, the actor who has set up an organization to investigate and counter Russian interference in American elections and who has compared Putin to Hitler, perhaps the most unforgiveable sin in the view of many in the Russian capital ( The downgrading of Trump in Moscow was also reflected in official statements that “Putin doesn’t listen to Trump” (, and its dismissive statements about suggestions that it purchased political ads on Facebook last year (
  2. 3.Putin’s Siloviki Increasingly Fighting Among Themselves. There have always been tensions among the various security agencies of the Russian state, but new reports suggest that conflicts among them may be intensifying at the local and regional level, a trend that could make their cooperation in Moscow far more difficult (news/articles/1036272280). Other commentaries on the state of the Russian political system under Putin this week emphasized the importance to the regime of keeping people poor as the basis for maintain their support of the regime (, and others saying that Russian preferences for justice over law means that the country will have to start “from square one or even worse” if it is ever to build a law-based state, again something Putin can rely on at least for now (  Regional leaders faced new challenges: the Kremlin indicated that it doesn’t plan to rely on governors in the upcoming presidential elections (, and the governors are now struggling to protect their websites from hacker attacks ( The meaning and value of elections in Russia are also up for grabs: One observer said that in a Vladivostok voting district there were far more votes counted than voters (, and Russians told pollsters they’d back someone in the election who doesn’t even exist ( In other developments, Moscow announced that the Russian Supreme Court won’t be moved to St. Petersburg until at least 20222 (, and observers say that the propensity to erect “Potemkin villages” of various kinds to deceive senior officials is again on the rise (


  1. Russian Banking System on Brink of Collapse. The Russian banking system is on the brink of collapse according to both Russian officials, commentators, and the population (, Russians not only are losing confidence in banks but purchasing dollars in order to protect themselves in case of a banking collapse ( and In other macro-economic news, two-thirds of Russians now say that the country’s economic course should be changed (, but half of all Russians day they doubt the state can do anything positive to help overcome the crisis (  Meanwhile, the UN says that Russia has lost some 55 billion US dollars in income because of the post-Crimea sanctions (, capital flight has intensified (, the quantity of imports has fallen to a record low (, the number of cars sold in Russia has fallen by more than half since 2012 (, and demand for new construction in Moscow has fallen as well (


  1. 70 Percent of Russians Now Can’t Make Their Income Last from One Paycheck to the Next.Seventy percent of Russians say that their pay doesn’t last from one paycheck to the next, 63 percent say they are experiencing the inflation the authorities deny is happening, and 70 percent are at or near the poverty level (,  and Forty percent of Russians say they had to change their vacation plans because of a lack of funds (, and officials blocked 12,000 Russians from going abroad this summer because they had unpaid debts ( Wage arrears and protests over them are both increasing across the country ( and And to add insult to injury, the Russian government has cut pensions even as experts say the average Russian pension is 30 percent smaller than the official statistics suggest ( and the government has rejected out of hand proposals that the government share with Russians some of the money it gets from the sale of oil and other natural resources abroad (


  1. Russia Can’t Afford to Live With or Without Gastarbeiters. The Russian economy can’t function without the labor of gastarbeiters from Central Asia and the Caucasus, but officials say that they don’t have the money to integrate them (, no surprise given that Moscow isn’t meeting its social obligations to native born Russians either ( Other social news this week: gender inequality and discrimination are increasing (, Russia’s dirtiest cities include those where millions of Russians live (, Russian scholars working abroad are now afraid to come back to Russia, a survey shows (, many Russians who earlier returned from former Soviet republics remain second class citizens in what is supposed to be their homeland (, and the number of Russians working in science has declined by two-thirds since 1989 (


  1. Tuberculosis, Polio Again on the Rise in Russia. Tuberculosis is on the rise in Russia, officials say, after Moscow expelled or suppressed foreign NGOs working against the disease. The country now ranks fifth in terms of the number of TB-infected people ( Also  returning are cases of polio, at least some of which are traceable to Tajikistan ( The Duma refused to cut taxes on families with large numbers of children, a failure that will make promoting more births more difficult (  Russians now show less trust to doctors and are more angry about the rising costs of medical care and their lack of insurance to protect themselves  ( Doctors are also unhappy with low pay and poor working conditions and in some cases are beginning to organize protests (  and


  1. Chechen War Continuing ‘By Other Means.’ Vladimir Putin has taken credit for ending the Chechen war, but observers say that that war is in fact continuing “by other means” with anti-Moscow Chechens fighting in Ukraine, in the Middle East, and in the North Caucasus itself ( Moscow is having ever more problems with the numerically small peoples of the North given its cutbacks in subsidies even as oil companies become rich ( and In other ethnic news, the kidnappings of Uzbeks living in the Russian Federation are continuing (; and in a move likely to have echoes in the North Caucasus among Circassians, the Russian government has approved a plan allowing for the resettlement in Tatarstan of Tatars now living abroad (


  1. Putin’s Language Policies Anger Ever More Non-Russians. Most commentaries about Putin’s Russian first policy have focused on its application in Tatarstan and the resistance it has sparked there, but in fact, it is infuriating ever more non-Russians around the country (, and  The Kremlin leader is under pressure to continue, however, from Russians who say that promoting universal Russian use is the  only way to prevent the country’s disintegration ( But perhaps the  most important development in this controversy is that ever more non-Russians are suggesting that in the face of Russian pressure, they have to take the situation into their own hands. In the words of one group, “Only Tatars can save Tatar” (


  1. Patriarch Kirill Tightening Control over Orthodox Church.  Patriarch Kirill, although now being criticized for “legalizing” hatred in Russia (, has been taking a series of steps to tighten is control over the Russian Orthodox Church and its independence from the state. He has told dissenting priests that he may strip them of their pensions unless they stop (, he has declared that the church wants full control of all monuments returned to it without any subsequent state control (, and he has denounced various groups within the church for criticizing  him and limiting  the church’s activities ( Meanwhile, in other religion-related developments, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has sought to calm anti-Buddhist attitudes among Chechens (, while the Buddhists have had a mixed week, gaining a stupa in Moscow but facing increasing divisions relative to the Dalai Lama (  and  The Muslim community of Kaliningrad has demanded compensation for the mosque it has not been allowed to complete (, and attacks both official and deniably plausible unofficial against Jehovah’s Witnesses continue in various parts of Russia ( and


  1. Divide Between Moscow and Regions Deepens into an Abyss. Russia is ever more two countries, not one, Moscow and everyone else. Moscow’s schools are among the best in the world, but schools beyond the ring road lag far behind ( Complicating the regional question is an expanded argument by the Kudrin Center that Moscow should focus not on the regions and republics but on the country’s 20 largest cities ( Other developments on the regional front this week include: the sentencing to a psychiatric prison of a man who called for an independent Siberia (, a new call to rename Kaliningrad not its former name of Koenigsberg but rather “The Russian Oblast” (, a regionalist call for those in the regions to contest Moscow over place names and history (, the growing recognition that the authorities will destroy a third of old Moscow with their renovation plans (, and the first decision by a court to strip a Russian of his ownership of a Far Eastern hectare, something that will undercut that Kremlin program as well (


  1. Russians Fear ‘Telephone Terrorism’ will Lead to Real Bombings. The continuing evacuation of public buildings throughout Russia after callers warned they have been bombed has led at least some Russians to conclude that eventually there will be real bombs planted and explosions will occur ( That is only one of the developments this week that have undermined Russian confidence that their lives are secure.  Others include: the disappearance of 30 grenades from a Urals military base (, an upsurge in the smuggling into prisons of prohibited items (, more deaths reported from the combat in Syria and in various military exercise (, new and disturbing cases of corruption among Russian military officials (, and a high-profile theft of a safe containing gold in the presidential plenipotentiary’s office in St. Petersburg ( Still other developments in this area: another demonstration in the Northern Capital against Putin’s wars (, a call by the Russian Guard to license air pistols (, and a defense ministry proposal to punish any soldier who talks about his experiences in the military on the Internet (


  1. Moscow’s Military Shortcomings Increasingly on Public View.The Russian government has not been able to hide some of the problems with its military. During the Zapad exercise, tanks got bogged down in swamps and helicopters fired on the wrong people ( and, the story came out that Moscow had paid a UN official 50,000 US dollars to prepare a report favorable to Russia (, Russian media reported that the military is having difficulty supplying its forces in Syria by air (, and Moscow faces the possibility that its role in shooting down the Malaysian airline will now be examined by an international tribunal backed by five countries ( Even pro-active measures sparked concern: the defense ministry announced that it has prepared a new law on how the draft will be conducted in time of war (


  1. More Protests in More Places about More Things. Among the things Russians protested successfully or not this week were pilot salaries and working conditions (, Soviet slogans – with one activist arrested for sign calling on “proletarians of the world to unite” (, debtors (, supporters of Aleksey Navalny (, a protest against American pressure on North Korea – called by the KPRF in Novosibirsk (, and more protests back and forth about a new cathedral in Yekaterinburg (


  1. Moscow May Block Mobile Telephones to Prevent Demonstrations. The Russian government is making plans to set up a mechanism to block mobile phones in the event of mass protests ( and is actively studying Western and Turkmen efforts at crowd control ( and Officials credit the Yarovaya laws with reducing extremism although many don’t accept their arguments ( Instead, they could point to the revival of Soviet methods: the same man who attacked Ludmila Alekseyeva in 1990 is suspected of attacking a Navalny aide now ( although in the best Soviet tradition, the authorities say that the aide had paid to have himself attacked (, and a Russian court has begun fining people for failing to denounce others, another survival of the past being resuscitated ( But there are some new twists: a group of neo-Cossacks are oppressing minorities in the Far North (, and private entrepreneurs are arranging to have environmental activists sent to prison ( But the most ominous development this week in this sector was the announcement that the authorities will no longer allow any NGO observers to visit prisons (


  1. ’More Royalist than the King’ – an Explanation for the Anti-Mathilda Phenomenon. A leading Russian commentator has suggested that the attacks on Mathilda are an anti-elite protest by lumpen elements that want to show themselves to be “more royalist than the king” ( Others say that that film and the controversy around it has reawakened “all the dark forces” in Russia ( and warn that Mathilda is just the beginning: the Western film, The Death of Stalin, will be next (


  1. The Gang that Couldn’t Build a Kalashnikov Monument Right. Rarely has Moscow gotten in more trouble over the erection of a monument than it did this week when it dedicated one to the inventor of the Kalashnikov machine gun. Not only did many liberals condemn the whole idea (, but the sculptor mistakenly included plans for a German gun on the monument itself, forcing a quick set of repairs ( Nonetheless, the culture minister declared the Kalashnikov “a Russian brand,” prompting the sculptor to say that “vodka is also a Russian brand” ( and


  1. Will House Where Tsar was Killed Soon be Rebuilt?The Ipatyev House in Yekaterinburg where the Imperial Family was murdered and which Boris Yeltsin was directed to tear down in 1977 may be rebuilt as a shrine ( Other developments on the monuments front this week: a Dzerzhinsky museum opens in Kirov ( and a statue to the founder of the Cheka opens in Magadan (, a monument to religious leaders killed by Stalin opened in Khirino (, people in Buryatia are trying to figure out what to do with the world’s largest Lenin head with some urging that a cap be put on it (, Perm residents defended a gymnasium head for putting up a portrait of Stalin (, and vandals destroyed a statue in the Urals to children whose fathers have deserted them (


  1. 28 Countries Call for Banning Russian Athletes from 2018 Olympiad. Twenty-eight athletic associations and anti-doping groups have called for Russia to be banned from next year’s Olympic games (  Their number is likely to grow now that WADA has made it clear that it has no plans to retract its basic charges against Moscow and after the unexplained deaths of two senior officials who are thought to have been involved in the Russian doping effort ( and New IOC data show that Russia and its CIS partners lead the world in doping athletes (, and the IOC itself has stripped 75 Olympians of their medals, many from these countries ( Meanwhile, Russia is still hopeful that it will not lose the 2018 World Cup. Hotels in venue cities are heavily booked (, and officials are predicting that visitors will spend so much money that they will boost Russian inflation ratees ( To get ready for that competition, the Russian government has launched a massive program to kill homeless animals in venue cities (


  1. ‘Made in Russia’ Brand hasn’t Worked: Will ‘Made in Russian Prisons’ Do Better?Efforts by Moscow to promote the “made in Russia brand” have failed (, and now officials are hoping that a newly registered brand “made in [Russian] prisons” will have better luck (


  1. If Russians Hate the West, They Don’t have Time to Hate Central Asians.  Because the Russian government has encouraged Russians to hate the West, it has achieved one success: fewer Russians now express xenophobic attitudes about people from Central Asia and the Caucasus. But this is less a change in attitudes toward others than a change in the others to which hatred is directed, some experts suggest (


  1. Russian Pensioners Now Turning from TV to the Internet. The Putin regime has counted on television to deliver its message especially to pensioners, but increasingly pensioners too are put off by its ideological bombast. They are turning to the Internet, and companies are now organizing WIFI networks with them in mind (


  1. Russian Health Ministry Says Plastic Surgery a Mental Illness. The Russian health ministry says that those who take advantage of plastic surgery have a mental illness, a declaration it made in defense of officials who took children from a woman who had breast reduction surgery, an action rights groups say is indefensible ( and


  1. Baikal and Even Caspian in Trouble as Bears Besiege Towns in Siberia and Another Moose is Loose in Moscow.  Lake Baikal is at the brink of irreversible disaster, environmental activists say (, and even the Caspian Sea is now drying up ( And if as if that wasn’t enough bad news, hungry bears are now attacking oil field workers in Siberia and another moose is on the loose in Moscow, disrupting traffic (


  1. Moscow Will Never Tell the Truth about Wallenberg. Once again, a Russian court has rejected efforts to gain access to archival documents about the death of the Swedish diplomat who saved Jews in Hungary at the end of World War II and then was captured and imprisoned by the Soviets.  A leading Russian commentator says that Moscow will never admit what happened even though it is clear that Moscow was responsible for his death (,, and


  1. Samara Sociologist Arrested for Reporting Poll Results Bosses Don’t Want to Hear.A sociologist in Samara has been arrested after presenting his employers with poll results different than the ones they wanted, the latest case of shooting the messenger (


  1. Novosibirsk Deputies Seek Law to Ban Dogs from Barking.The list of absurd proposals by Russian legislators continues to lengthen. This week brought news that deputies in Novosibirsk believe they can prevent dogs from barking if they pass a law banning that entirely natural act (


  1. Dying Russian Village Puts Up a Grave Marker to Itself. Thousands of Russian villages have died or are dying, but few have taken the step one has in erecting a grave marker to itself for all to see (


And 13 more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:


  1. ‘Veyshnoria’ More a Threat to Moscow than to Lukashenka.Many commentators as well as ordinary Belarusians have been having fun with the concept of ‘Veyshnoria,’ the imaginary anti-Russian state that the organizers of the Zapad-2017 exercises set up. But one Belarusian points out that Veyshnoria, whatever Moscow intended, was and is “a threat not for Lukashenka but for Russia” because it highlights Belarusian opposition to the Kremlin (


  1. Vodka Sales Jumped Near Russian Encampments for Zapad-2017 Exercises in Belarus.  Belarusian opponents of the Russian exercise on their territory had suggested that Russian troops shouldn’t come to Belarus because supposedly there is no vodka there, but during the exercise, journalists report, there was a sharp jump in vodka purchases wherever Russian forces were present (


  1. Occupation? No, Just Visiting … Minsk.  The Estonian joke about Russians seeking to visit Tallinn has now become a Belarusian one because given economic and political constraints, Russians are now visiting Minsk in unprecedented numbers and say that it is their most popular destination (


  1. Belarusian Firm Makes Dinosaurs for Hollywood. Many have criticized Alyaksandr Lukashenka for keeping Belarus mired in the past, but one group of entrepreneurs there has gone back even further into the past to make a profit: they are building dinosaurs for Hollywood movies (


  1. Only One Child in a 1000 in Occupied Crimea is Now Studying in Ukrainian. It is a measure of the Russian occupation authorities intention to suppress Ukrainian identity on the Ukrainian peninsula that they have reduced the number of schools where instruction is in Ukrainian to the point that only 0.1 percent of pupils are now enrolled in them (


  1. Most Ukrainians Fighting Russian Invasion Need Psychological Help. According to one psychologist, as many as 93 percent of Ukrainians who have been fighting the Russian invasion of their country need psychological help to adjust to peacetime (


  1. Baltic Countries Become Even More Suspicious of Russians. Riga has called for Latvians to be suspicious of foreigners and most likely Russians who are too curious about the situation in that country (, Lithuania has set up an Internet site for people there to report suspicious people and actions there (, and Estonia’s plans to build a wall along the Russian border have drawn fire from Moscow (


  1. Russian Base at Gyumri as Source of Tension with Armenia. Problems between soldiers at the Russian base in Gyumri and the surrounding Armenian population have become a source of tension between Moscow and Yerevan (


  1. Former Georgian Minister Says Saakashvili was Expelled from College for Distributing Pornography. Igor Giorgadze, who was Georgian interior minister from 1993 to 1995, said on a Russian television channel but provided no proof that former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was expelled from university for distributing pornography (


  1. Social Media Played Key Role in Getting Central Asians to Focus on Rohingya Crisis.  The growing power of social media in Central Asia has been highlighted by the success of that media in getting people in the five countries of Central Asia to focus on the mistreatment of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, experts say (


  1. Kazakhs, Ethnic Russians Increasingly Alienated from Each Other.  Studies show that ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Russians are increasingly alienated from each other (, with Kazakh identity strengthening ( even while Islamic identity remains relatively weak ( Many Russian commentators say that Astana’s plans to shift to the Latin script will only deepen this divide (


  1. Tajikistan Opposes Iranian Membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Even though Moscow appears set to expand the SCO if it can and even though Tajikistan is heavily dependent on Russian assistance, Dushanbe has come out against Iran becoming a member in that organization (


  1. Nearly Half of Tajiks Don’t Have Access to Safe Water Supplies. The World Bank in a new study says that only 58 percent of Tajiks now have access to reliable and clean water, a pattern that helps explain the spread of diseases in that Central Asian country (


UN Says Russia Committing ‘Grave Human Rights Violations’ In Occupied Crimea

Agents of the Russian state have committed serious human rights abuses, including torture, since Russia occupied and seized control of Ukraine&rsquo;s Crimean Peninsula, a UN human rights report says…

Russian, Pakistani Forces Launch Joint Exercise In North Caucasus

Special forces from Russia and Pakistan have begun a two-week joint training exercise in Russia&rsquo;s North Caucasus republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia. At a September 25 opening ceremon…

OPEC Deal With Russia Is Showing Signs of Strain – Bloomberg

A failure to renew the oil accord would add further oversupply.

Cannibal family ‘admits killing and eating 30 in Russia’ | Daily Mail Online

A man aged 35, named as Dmitry Bakshaev from Krasnodar in southern Russia, was identified as having told interrogators he began his macabre reign of terror in 1999 with his wife Natalia.

Belarus Reports

Belarusian authorities resumed arrests of opposition | Solidarity with Belarus Information Office

Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street.

Belarus: a true taste of Soviet life but with all the mod cons | Post Magazine | South China Morning Post

The landlocked country in Eastern Europe has weathered the storms of war and now offers a taste of true Soviet life, albeit with the modern advantages of widespread Wi-fi access to an unfettered internet

Belarus embassy in Kyiv protests over “anti-Belarusian rally” under its building – Belarus embassy in Kyiv protests over “anti-Belarusian rally” –

According to diplomats, flares were burned under the embassy

Ukrainians should cross Belarusian-Russian border by air transport – Ukrainians should cross Belarusian-Russian border by air transport –

Ukrainians should cross Belarusian-Russian border by air transport

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

Moldova’s Socialist Party Launches Campaign For Increased Presidential Powers

Moldova&rsquo;s opposition Socialist Party says it is launching a campaign to increase the powers of the president and turn the country&rsquo;s current parliamentary system of government into …

Ukraine Reports

Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine hold command post rehearsal within preparation to Dragon-2017 – Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine hold command post rehearsal within preparation to Dragon-2017 –

Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine hold command post rehearsal within preparation to Dragon-2017

Ukraine reports 22 attacks in Donbas, two WIA’s in past day

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian troops in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, 22 times on Sunday, September 24, as a result of which two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action (WIA) on that day, according to the press center of the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 25 September from UNIAN.

Militants violate truce 22 times in Donbas, two Ukrainian soldiers injured – Militants violate truce 22 times in Donbas, two Ukrainian soldiers injured –

Enemy attacks were most numerous in Mariupol area

Militants launched 22 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 25.09.2017 09:17 — Ukrinform News

Militants launched 22 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas over the past day.&nbsp;Two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded.

Amount of Russian weapons growing in east Ukraine every day – NSDC – 25.09.2017 15:45 — Ukrinform News

The amount of weapons and ammunition supplied from Russia to the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions not under Ukraine's control is growing every day, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov has said.

Teens from several countries trained by Russian neo-Nazi militants, participants of Donbas fighting. PHOTOS

25.09.17 15:00 – Teens from several countries trained by Russian neo-Nazi militants, participants of Donbas fighting. PHOTOS The military patriotic gatherings in Moscow larger area for teens of different countries are organized by Enot Corp ultra-right military group, former participants of the war in the Donbas. View photo news.

UAWire – Assassination attempt on top separatist official rocks Donetsk

According to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, there were two explosions on a Saturday morning in Donetsk. According to the agency's source in …

OSINT experts identify soldiers of Russia’s Northern Fleet fighting in Donbas in 2014

InformNapalm OSINT community experts have already reported on&nbsp;participation&nbsp;of Russian marines in the war in eastern Ukraine. Latest UNIAN news from 24 September.

Nazarov appeal: relatives of troopers killed in Il-76 crash ask people to come to court on Sept. 26

25.09.17 11:28 – Nazarov appeal: relatives of troopers killed in Il-76 crash ask people to come to court on Sept. 26 The appeals court in Dnipro City will consider the case of General Viktor Nazarov on Sept. 26. Nazarov was earlier found guilty of the death of 49 fighters in Il-76 crash in Luhansk in summer 2014. View news.

Ukraine against EASA recommendations on closure of Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhia airports

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan has announced Ukraine will provide its feedback this week on recommendations issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the restriction of flights for European airlines over the eastern part of Ukraine. News 25 September from UNIAN.

$200 million confiscated from Yanukovych’s circle returns to Ukraine – $200 million confiscated from Yanukovych’s circle returns to Ukraine –

Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko personally came to the office of one of Kyiv banks

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Israel must be ready to tackle Iran on its own – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Security cabinet meets day after Tehran tests ballistic missile

Iran strikes IS bases on Syria-Iraq border with drones – The Washington Post

Iran’s state TV is reporting that the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard has targeted bases belonging to the Islamic State group in eastern Syria with drone strikes.

If Trump kills the Iran deal, he may give the world another Rocket Man – The Washington Post

We know from N. Korea what happens when we walk away from these agreements.

Trump’s criticism of the Iran nuclear deal may only lead to more nuclear weapons – The Washington Post

If the United States cannot be trusted to abide by a bargain, why should adversary proliferators?

UAWire – As Assad’s Army converges on Der ez-Zor Russia sends pontoon equipment to help cross Euphrates

Russia has started deployment of equipment to help Assad’s army battling for Deir ez-Zor cross Euphrates River, writes Russian newspaper Vestnik …

17 ISIS Fighters Reported Killed as U.S. Ends Lull in Libya Airstrikes – The New York Times

A half-dozen “precision strikes” hit a training camp about 150 miles southeast of Surt, from which militants were plotting and conducting attacks, the military said.

US boosts surveillance amid Russian threats in Syria – CNNPolitics

US forces in Syria have increased surveillance of Russian troop locations following Moscow’s suggestion that US troops could get caught in Russian military operations, according to a US official directly familiar with US military planning.

Russian lieutenant-general killed in ISIS shelling near Deir ez-Zor, Syria – MoD — RT News

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov, of the Russian armed forces, has been killed after coming under shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants near Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced.

Iraqi Kurds vote in independence referendum – CBS News

The United States has warned the vote by Iraqi Kurds will likely destabilize the region amid the fight against ISIS

Kurdish referendum: Iran closes border with Iraqi Kurdistan over independence vote fears | The Independent

Iran has closed its border with the Kurdish region of Iraq at the request of Baghdad, a statement from the Iranian foreign ministry has said.

Iran launches war games near Iraqi Kurdistan border

Iranian forces have launched war games in an area near the border with Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Iran’s state media reported on Sunday.

Iran halts flights to Kurdish region before referendum | Iran News | Al Jazeera

Flights to airports in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil will be affected, but Kurds say nothing can stop September 25 vote.

Kurdish referendum: Iran shuts border with Iraq over Kurdistan independence vote –

The Kurdish vote is meant to give Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Regional Government a mandate to negotiate secession of the region with Baghdad and neighboring states

Kurdistan can no longer be part of an Iran-dominated sectarian Iraq

Today, the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq take part in a historic independence referendum.


Lavrov Believes North Korea’s Nukes Will Deter U.S. From Striking Pyongyang

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he thinks the United States will not strike North Korea because it knows Pyongyang possesses nuclear weapons. &quot;The Americans won't carry ou…

China urges restraint amid war of words between Trump and North Korea

China on Monday called for all sides in the North Korea missile crisis to show restraint and not “add oil to the flames” amid an exchange of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump’s Iran decision could shake up North Korea stand-off | TheHill

President Trump’s upcoming decision on whether to toss out the landmark nuclear deal with Iran could have ripple effects half-a-world away.

What Weapons Would the U.S. Military Use Against North Korea?

The United States has substantial air, land, and sea forces stationed in South Korea, as well as several units based in Japan and the western Pacific earmarked for a

India-Japan Relations: Strong and Getting Stronger

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published by The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an

Foreign Policy Reports

Angela Merkel’s election win eclipsed by surge of far right Alternative for Germany | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

The far right stormed into the German parliament for the first time in more than 50 years yesterday as it capitalised on fears about the influx of migrants un

German election: A hollow victory for Angela Merkel – BBC News

The German chancellor may have won the election but the result does not feel like a victory.

Merkel’s conservatives suffer worst election result since 1949 as far right sees surge in support

Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc will be the largest party in the next German parliament, but provisional election results point to a worse-than-expected majority for the German chancellor.

Chastened Merkel looks for coalition partners after vote

Germany’s Angela Merkel began the tough task of trying to build a coalition government on Monday after securing a fourth term as chancellor in an election which saw her support slide and the far right making significant gains.

Angela Merkel, Reluctant Leader of the West, ‘Has Gotten the Taste for It’ – The New York Times

Elected to a fourth term as German chancellor, she wants to put the European Union, post-Brexit and in the age of Trump, on a stable, vigorous path.

German election press review – shock and concern the abiding reaction | Germany | DW | 25.09.2017

How have Germany’s newspapers reacted to Sunday’s election? And what have the world’s newspapers got to say about it? DW has all the front page news in our press round-up.

AfD party enters German parliament: The country is no longer immune from the far right

This is the dawn of a new and uncertain era.

Germany’s jubilant far-right has Merkel in its sights

Swept into parliament by those Germans angered at the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) had a stark message for Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday.

The anti-Muslim AfD just scored big in Germany’s election. What does this mean for German Muslims? – The Washington Post

Muslim votes can win elections, but there’s often a clash of votes vs. values.

German election: AfD vows to fight ‘invasion of foreigners’ – BBC News

Nationalists lay out their plans after winning nearly 13% of the vote, weakening Chancellor Merkel.

+++ German election, the day after: AfD′s Frauke Petry won′t join parliamentary group – live updates +++ | News | DW | 25.09.2017

AfD co-chair Frauke Petry shocked her party colleagues by saying she won’t join their parliamentary group in the Bundestag. The SPD’s Martin Schulz repeated that he wants to go into opposition. Read all the updates here.

Euro Drops as German Vote Sinks In; Gold Retreats: Markets Wrap – Bloomberg

Politics dominated trading on Monday, with the euro sliding as Germany’s election result foreshadowed potentially complex political-coalition building. The currency’s weakness gave European stocks a boost even after Asian peers declined, and most government bonds advanced.

The Latest: Schulz: Merkel’s mistakes helped nationalists – The Washington Post

The Latest on Germany’s national election (all times local):

Italy air force Eurofighter crashes at air show, pilot dead – SFGate

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

The Only Way to Defend Against Russia’s Information War – The New York Times

Americans need to think seriously about why RT, Sputnik and “fake news” resonate with so many people in the first place.

Electronic camouflage will be the new war paint, says Marine intel official

With advanced sensing equipment, physical camouflage is no longer sufficient against future threats, says an intel official.

Russia trying to block another suspected cybercriminal’s extradition to US

The lawyer for an alleged Russian hacker said Friday that authorities in Moscow are fighting his extradition from Spain to the U.S., the third time in recent months that Russia has moved to block U.S. prosecution of suspected cybercriminals.

SEC under fire for being hacked despite warnings on security

The breach occurred despite repeated warnings in recent years about weaknesses in the agency’s cybersecurity controls.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Trump’s New Travel Ban Targets Iran; Adds North Korea, Venezuela

President Donald Trump has issued new restrictions on people trying to enter the United States from eight nations — adding North Korea and Venezuela to a list that also includes Iran — to replac…

Trump slaps travel restrictions on North Korea, Venezuela in sweeping new ban

President Donald Trump on Sunday slapped new travel restrictions on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding to eight the list of countries covered by his original travel bans that have been derided by critics and challenged in court.

Almost no North Koreans travel to the U.S., so why ban them? – The Washington Post

Experts say the North Korea travel ban is basically meaningless.

Facebook reportedly discovered it had been infiltrated by Russian government hackers months before the election | Business Insider

Members of a hacking group connected to…

Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook – The Washington Post

The company’s investigation at first feared a Russian hack. It then uncovered a sweeping disinformation campaign brought by shadowy accounts.

Manafort’s Russia connection: What you need to know about Oleg Deripaska – The Washington Post

The Russian aluminum magnate, who has ties to Trump’s ex-campaign chairman going back years, is part of Putin’s inner circle.


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