Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (3) – 4 November 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia vs. NATO/EU/CoE debate continues, and Amb Vershbow articulates a key dimension of Russian behavior in Europe – intimidation. Excellent summary by Lucas. Russians squirming over latest sanctions.

Many articles over the week dealing with Russia’s “fake election”, especially the campaigning of Ksenia Sobchak who has proven herself both intelligent and articulate. She was initially criticised for splitting the opposition, but she has engaged many heavy hitters from the pre-Putin era, and has been skewering most of Surkov’s most successful  “Putinisms”, and said that Surkov has blood on his hands for helping invade Ukraine.

The 1917 October Revolution centenary, which Putin is trying to ignore, is producing a lot of media reports, many comparing the vices of pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia with post-Crimean Putinist/Chekist Russia.

COCW Award this week goes to Comrade Peskov for claiming that DNA samples from ethnic Russians being sent to the West are to be used to develop biological weapons designed to selectively kill Russians – given the Russian gene pool is a mix of Slavic/Celtic/Indo-European, Norse and Finnic genes, any such weapon would exterminate much of Western/Central/Eastern Europe and the US as well, begging some serious questions about what Dmitry might have been consuming when he made that statement. Putin and Khramchikhin get runner-up rewards for claims almost as absurd. Russia’s demographic death spiral in military recruiting – PMCs for deniable ops and to avoid official body counts, while professional soldiers are bailing out, and retention and recruitment targets are failing. Concurrently, Russia is creating what will be the world’s biggest “fast breeder” for ISIS loonies, being now critically dependent on Central Asian and Caucasian Gastarbeiter labour to offset demographic nosedive induced labour shortages, Russia is now importing increasing numbers from nations that are seeing large numbers of ISIS troops returning as ISIS/ISIL in Syria / Iraq collapses, while Muscovy’s Russification and Orthodox militancy campaigns introduce toxicity into relations across both cultural / linguistic and religious divides. What survives of the ISIS forces in Syria / Iraq will likely end up in Russia, and hyper-centralisation will see most of them in the ghettoised areas of Muscovy. Prof Goble launches a must-read weekly series entitled “Seven Important Russian Observations”. Neo-Stalinism revisited. And many many articles, essays and opeds on Russia’s accelerating nosedive into the abyss.

Belarus joins Russian IADS, jails opposition leader, charges NCOs in fatal hazing scandal. In Moldova, Constitutional Court rules that Romanian, of which Moldovan is a dialect, can become the official language.

Debate over lethal aid for Ukraine continues, Amb Volker continues his good work, Russians try to sabotage any UN peacekeeping deal, Babchenko warns that a full scale invasion by Russia cannot be ruled out, while Hungary aids Russia inside NATO to damage Ukraine (did all the real Hungarians depart in 1956?). Seven reports related to Russian terrorism inside Ukraine – curiously Western media now blindly associate the term “terrorism” with Islamist groups, mostly refusing to report Russian sponsored terrorism for what it is, and being clueless about how the Soviets taught Arab groups how to conduct terrorist attacks during the 1960s. Reports that kidnappings of Ukrainian border guards were planned for months, and more expected soon to provide hostages. Multiple reports on the Russian Wagner PMC’s involvement in the early phase of the war in Luhansk, including the kill against the PSU Il-76MD at Luhansk Airport. Donbass fires continue, multiple reports from inside occupied Donbass on military buildup, and internal chaos, as well as claims the Russians fear a public revolt and insurrection due to the collapse of all industries. Some very nice wartime poster art from Ukraine. Reports on UA tube and rocket artillery buildup. New VDV dress uniforms. Multiple reports on politics, policy, economy, and translations of poetry by victims of Stalin being published. Trailer released for the new “CYBORGS” movie about the siege of Donetsk Airport in 2014 – let’s hope they negotiate an English language release on Netflix rather than minor cinemas. Six mostly disturbing reports from occupied Crimea.

The Agency releases captured UBL documents, producing a minor media frenzy. ISIS collapse in Syria under way. Israeli AF hits factory near Homs. International High Level Military Group predicts war between Israel and Hezbollah. Russia continues to protect Assad in UN. Many Iran reports, most interesting about the regime suppressing a public gathering at the tomb of infidel Cyrus the Great, the first king of Persia. Kurdistan, Afghanistan and NYC. Is Ankara playing the Russians with the S-400 deal?

Dominant reports on DPRK are about POTUS visit to RoK and Japan. Bizarre DPRK foods detailed.

Russian meddling in Europe a major theme over the week: Cartwright on fostering separatists, UK Parliamentary Committee asks Twitter for Russian fake Brexit tweet backups, Russian meddling in Montenegro, Serbia, Czechia – the gullibility of Czech voters, like Hungarian voters, is astounding, as both nations were invaded by the Soviets. Venezuela to default. Catalonian mess continues.

Lt Gen David Deptula interview. Strategy shortfall argued in WOTR.

Sixteen reports, articles and essays on IW/IO/cyber, with Russia dominant. Excellent OUP primer on the role of the Gutenberg press in the distribution of religious propaganda during the Reformation. Brearley essay could be just as well about nation states or ideological movements, as sociopathic individuals, and explains the nexus of toxic propaganda, delusions and destructive state behaviour in Russia.

Trolls duping the lazy and hubris ridden US MSM is a major US theme this week and the evidence is incontrovertible – “damn due diligence this story is what my readers will like so I will run it”  – this was all self inflicted by an MSM culture convinced it can do not wrong, and too lazy even for a two minute Google check. Former Twitter staffers comment on how security was sacrificed to maintain solvency. Manafort remains a highly active theme, with interesting commentaries by Thiessen, Marshall and Leshchenko. Thiessen has a point – the repeatedly cited reports earlier this year on SIGINT showing the Russians desperately trying to find levers to use Manafort as an “agent vliyaniya” to in turn influence POTUS is the critical factor here – if there was collusion why were the Russians trying to engage Manafort to be an “agent vliyaniya” ?


Russia / Russophone Reports


Russian bombers escorted away from US aircraft carrier – CNNPolitics

US Navy F/A-18 fighter jets were dispatched from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and escorted two Russian TU-95 bombers that were approaching the ship on Sunday, according to two US defense officials.

Vershbow: Russia wishes to be feared – Defence Matters

Zapad showed that Moscow, wishes to demonstrate its capability to become involved in a full-scale war with NATO”, Alexander Vershbow said in an interview.

Edward Lucas | The Kremlin’s 20 toxic tactics | CEPA

Human weakness means we find it is easier to admire problems than to solve them, to focus on the dangers we can see than worry about those that we can’t, and to use the tools we have on hand rather than try to acquire the ones we actually need. All that is particularly true of the West’s approach to Russian political warfare. We over-focus on easy-to-see Kremlin propaganda, especially in English and other Western languages. In fact, information warfare—meaning deliberately misleading “fake news” plus the disorientating use of trolls and bots—is just one, albeit conspicuous, element of Russia’s well-stocked arsenal. At a NATO conference in September, I outlined another 19. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

NATO’s Eastern Flank and Its Future Relationship With Russia – Carnegie Europe – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine unified the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and prompted the allies to beef up defenses. But the process of strengthening the alliance’s Eastern flank is far from over. To complete it, NATO needs to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy toward Russia based on unity, deterrence, and resilience. That effort is long overdue.

UAWire – Construction of NATO base in Estonia completed

In the Estonian military town of Tapa, the construction of a large defensive complex for the deployment of a NATO battalion group has been …

Estonia opens large base for NATO forces deployment – Estonia opens large base for NATO forces deployment – 112.international

The area of the defense complex is 38 thousand square meters

Heading For The Door? Russia’s Dispute With Council Of Europe Intensifies

Russia’s tough rhetoric on the Council of Europe has prompted speculation that the Kremlin could be moving to leave the 47-member bloc, which would potentially deprive Russians of a key avenue for …

The Poet Laureate of Hybrid War – Foreign Policy

The tragicomic absurdities of 21st century warfare are finally being transformed into literature.

UAWire – Interpol recommends that member countries ignore Russia’s requests

The Central Bureau of Interpol has sent a warning to all member countries of the international police union that Russia has no right to …

UAWire – Washington: US will selectively impose sanctions on countries and companies doing business with Russia

The US State Department has announced that it will selectively apply sanctions against third countries and enterprises that cooperate with …

UAWire – Russia to create a special bank to allow financing of Russian military companies in circumvention of western sanctions

In response to new US sanctions, Russia created a special bank to service defense industry companies, reported the newspaper Kommersant, citing …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Ambassador to US Seeks to Delink Sanctions and Moscow’s Actions in Ukraine

Paul Goble Staunton, November 1 – At his meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, said that US sanctions were in response to what Americans view as interference in the 2016 elections. In fact, of course, the sanctions were imposed because of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Crimean Anschluss. This Russian effort to shift the explanation for sanctions has received a great deal of attention in the Moscow media (kommersant.ru/doc/3455647 and sobkorr.ru/news/59F978F2C36CB.html, among many others). It deserves to be attended to more widely. On the one hand, it is part of Russia’s continuing denial of any aggressive or illegal actions in Ukraine. But on the other – and likely more important in terms of Washington politics at the present moment – it plays into a narrative that will make it more likely that the Trump Administration will not move quickly to impose additional Congressionally-mandated sanctions. Speaking after his meeting with Tillerson, Antonov pointed to the depressing state of bilateral relations, the harm inflicted by the American sanctions policy which is based on the unproven accusations of Russian interference in the US presidential elections,” a position entirely consistent with President Donald Trump’s dismissal of that interference as “fake news.” Antonov’s words were certainly delivering a message that the Kremlin wants delivered in the hopes that it can still find a way to avoid the imposition of what will be highly damaging personal sanctions by early next year and are thus likely to become a major theme of Moscow propaganda in the coming days.

Russian Defense Minister Meets U.S. Ambassador In Moscow

The Russian Defense Ministry says Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman discussed bilateral relations and international security issues during a meeting on Novem…

NATO chief says allies concerned about Russian phone jamming

A Russian communications ship in the Baltic Sea is suspected of disrupting phone services in Latvia, Norway and Sweden’s Oeland islands during the Sept. 14-20 Zapad exercises that Russia held with Belarus.

Norwegian leaders want to know why US Marines are stationed in the country

Opposition leaders in Norway have asked the prime minister to explain the precise role of U.S. Marines stationed on a rotating basis in the country.

Canada sanctions 30 Russians over human rights violation, corruption (List of names) | UNIAN

Canada sanctions 30 Russians over human rights violation, corruption (List of names). Current news and events for 03 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Moscow imposes counter-sanctions on Canada, mocking the idea that Ottawa could ever ‘pressure’ Russia — Meduza

The Russian Foreign Ministry has followed through on threats against Canada, banning dozens of Canadian citizens from entering Russia. “The list includes those Russophobic Canadian citizens who have systematically worked to destroy bilateral relations,” ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

Russia retaliates after Canada imposes sanctions | Russia News | Al Jazeera

Moscow says dozens of ‘Russophobic Canadians’ now barred from entering the country after Ottawa imposed sanctions.

Does Russia need a tsarina? – world news | UNIAN

The Economist on its cover has recently portrayed Russian President Vladimir Putin in a tsar. Indeed, the magazine’s editorial piece suggests that in Russia, ahead of the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Putin is being perceived as a modern-day tsar. However, Russian news outlets last week have been widely covering the emergence of a female candidate for the throne, a famous socialite Ksenia Sobchak. After the potential tsarina announced her decision to run for presidency, few people remained indifferent to this news blast. Someone took the statement as a joke, rushing to claim that whoever carries her briefcases could become the future Russian president (a hint at a famous photo of young Vladimir Putin, then member of Sobchak father’s team, carrying a case for his boss). The most naïve believed in a possible change in the Kremlin’s leadership and began to lament that Ksenia would become a competition with another Russian liberal, Alexei Navalny, thereby splitting the opposition electorate. Some, on the contrary, reminded that Sobchak is actually a representative of the Russian “elite”, the daughter of the man who stood at the foundations of Russia’s current political system. This suggests that, by her campaigning, Ksenia Sobchak is actually playing into the Kremlin’s hands rather than working against it. Some were dead serious discussing her actual chances to win the race…

Russian Journalist Yekaterina Gordon Announces Presidential Bid

Russian journalist and TV host Yekaterina Gordon has announced plans to run for president in a March 2018 election that is widely expected to prolong Vladimir Putin’s time in the Kremlin for anothe…

Journalist explains why Putin allows Sobchak to run for president | UNIAN

Journalist explains why Putin allows Sobchak to run for president. View news feed in world news for 02 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Russian TV star challenging Putin for presidency says ‘there will be lots of blood’ if country changes too fast | The Independent

In a flash, Ksenia Sobchak is out of the hall, past the balloons, the rows of champagne, and into a Mercedes headed for the airport. Clipboarded young aides, bodyguards and latex-clad camerawomen sprint to keep up.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Does Sobchak have a Winning Message for Russia Beyond the Ring Road?

Paul Goble Staunton, October 29 – Kseniya Sobchak has made her first foray outside of Moscow, a step that appears almost obligatory these days, with Vladimir Putin having visited numerous regions in recent months and Aleksey Navalny having been compelled to do so by being blocked from organizing meetings in the capitals(ng.ru/politics/2017-10-26/1_7103_navalny.html). On Friday, she visited Yekaterinburg and delivered a speech in which she made ten major points, according to a regional news outlet (66.ru/news/politic/204439/). They consisted of the following:

  • “Crimea isn’t ours.”
  • “The population isn’t passive. There have been cases when the people have overthrown their rulers.”
  • “A candidate ‘against all’ can win. And then everything will change.”
  • “Kseniya Sobchak takes money only from ‘well-known businessmen.’”
  • “In Russia, there must not be a division between ‘chief’ and ‘not chief’ regions.”
  • “It isn’t necessary to love me. It is necessary to vote for me.”
  • “The main thing is to pull down the present system of power. Everything else will come later.”
  • “All who want to take part in the elections should be allowed to.”
  • “The power of the president should be limited to the maximum extent possible. The parliament must become a place for discussion.”
  • “The people and only the people can decide what will happen with the country.”

 

The regionalist portal AfterEmpire commented that “the news from Yekaterinburg elicits mixed feelings. On the one hand, Miss Sobchak says the right things, but on the other, there is in evidence the typical Muscovite style of visiting ‘the regions’ to which compliments are paid” (http://afterempire.info/2017/10/28/sobchak-ekb/). “People there have the sense,” it suggested, “that once again, [the Muscovites] want to use them as cannon fodder and then not have anything more to do with them.” On the evidence, local residents were not much impressed with the newly-minted presidential candidate. Another regional outlet reported that her aides were having a hard time gathering signatures in support of her candidacy (uralinform.ru/analytics/politics/281692-stavka-sobchak-na-ekaterinburg-ne-sygrala/).

Sobchak stands for new referendum in Crimea

Russian journalist Ksenia Sobchak, who decided to run for the presidency in Russia, and whose words about Ukrainian Crimea had previously caused a wide response, suggested holding a new referendum on the peninsula. News 27 October from UNIAN.

The Sobchak campaign’s chief political expert says Russia’s problem is with Russians, not Putin — Meduza

Stanislav Belkovsky, the chief political expert for Ksenia Sobchak’s presidential campaign, said in a recent interview that his candidate won’t purposefully criticize Russia’s acting head of state, Vladimir Putin. In Belkovsky’s opinion, this strategy will “de-Putinize” the minds of voters and raise the “moral quality” of Sobchak’s candidacy. Sobchak herself has stated previously that she is running for office, first and foremost, as a candidate “against all.”

Ksenia Sobchak, Who Wants to Be President, Reignites Crimea Controversy

Ksenia Sobchak, Who Wants to Be President, Reignites Crimea Controversy

Does Sobchak have a winning message for Russia beyond Moscow’s Ring Road? | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

Kseniya Sobchak has made her first foray outside of Moscow, a step that appears almost obligatory these days, with Vladimir Putin having visited numerous regions in recent months and Alexei Navalny having been compelled to do so by being blocked from organizing meetings in the capitals. On Friday, she visited Yekaterinburg and delivered a speech in which she made ten major points, according to a regional news outlet. They consisted of the following:

Window on Eurasia — New Series: For Halloween, Zyuganov Should Dress as Freddy Krueger, Putin Presumably as Himself

Paul Goble Staunton, October 31 — Many Russians oppose the celebration of Halloween, with some of them even suggesting that the holiday represents another Western effort to destroy Russia (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2017/10/27/nasazhdenie_chuzhdyh_prazdnikov_rabotaet_na_raspad_nashego_gosudarstva/). They have issued warnings and in some places imposed bans (newsland.com/community/4765/content/rabotniki-barov-i-restoranov-na-kubani-rasskazali-o-zaprete-prazdnovat-khellouin/6045562kavkazr.com/a/haalowwen-v-dagestane/28812652.html and rusk.ru/newsdata.php?idar=79314). Nonetheless, people across Russia are celebrating Halloween with all the actions people in the West have long experienced and some new ones as well, an indication that Russians like anyone else will try to take advantage of any occasion for a holiday, especially when times are bleak (fedpress.ru/article/1884111). But perhaps the most amusing – and perhaps insightful – comment on this year’s Halloween in Russia comes from the URA news agency. It offered some suggestions as to what Hollywood characters various Russian opposition figures should dress up in to go trick or treating tonight (ura.news/news/1052310279). Here are its recommendations: · KPRF head Gennady Zyuganov should dress as Freddy Krueger, · LDPR head Vladimir Zhirinovsky as Pennywise the clown, · Opposition candidate Aleksey Navalny as Voldemort, · New Opposition candidate Ksensiya Sobchak as Samara Morgan, · Anti-Mathilda crusader Natalya Poklonskaya as Harley Queen, and · Anti-Gay Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov as himself. That’s scary enough. The news agency didn’t propose anything for Vladimir Putin, but perhaps its guidance for Milonov could serve for the Kremlin leader as well.

Putin’s Long Goodbye

As Russia gears up for a presidential election, the perennial Moscow parlor game of rumors, speculation,and leaks about schemes to keep Vladimir Putin in power indefinitely — has begun in earnest.

Russian City Warns Environmental Activists Not To Greet Putin In Gas Masks

Authorities in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk have warned residents not to wear gas masks to publicly express their environmental concerns during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit.

Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin announces social media movement supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin – The Washington Post

The NHL star announced the new initiative in an Instagram post Thursday.

Russian State Gallery Tweets Navalny’s Anti-Putin Video, Claims It Was Hacked

Russia’s renowned Tretyakov Gallery this week tweeted out opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s latest attack on President Vladimir Putin, but later said its Twitter account had been hacked.

Evicted Navalny Opens New Moscow Office

Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny opened his third campaign office in six months, following evictions from previous premises. He says the Russian authorities are trying to disrupt his campaign ahead of 2018 presidential elections. (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)

The Daily Vertical: Sidestepping The Revolution (Transcript)

When Vladimir Putin was last campaigning for president back in 2012, he notably said that Russia’s fate should not depend on one man. Less than two years later, Vyacheslav Volodin, the current State Duma speaker who was then deputy Kremlin chief of staff, contradicted his boss when he famously quipped that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.” These two diametrically opposing statements from the very highest echelons of the Russian power elite illustrate the fundamental paradox of late Putinism. Putin, of course, has systematically — and often ruthlessly — centralized power in his own hands. This year he became Russia’s longest ruling leader since Josef Stalin — and not since Stalin’s time has Russia’s fate been so dependent on one man. Russia, no doubt, will endure long after Putin passes from the scene. But the future of the political system he created, and the patron-client relationships that have made his closest cronies rich and powerful, is less certain. And as Putin prepares for what many in Moscow say will be his final presidential campaign, many in the Kremlin leader’s inner circle are getting nervous about their indispensable man becoming a lame duck. In a recent leader, The Economist noted that “both liberal reformers and conservative traditionalists” are referring to Putin “as a 21st-century Tsar.” And the stronger he becomes, “the harder he will find it to manage his succession.” Few doubt that Putin will seek and win a fourth term in March. But even fewer know what happens next. “And the fear will grow,” The Economist opined, “that as with other Russian rulers, Tsar Vladimir will leave turbulence and upheaval in his wake.” Leader For Life?

The Russian State’s Lost Birth Certificate – The Russia File

BY MAXIM TRUDOLYUBOV The centennial of the Russian revolution is not a big thing in modern Russia. It feels like an obscure old holiday or a literary anniversary known only to the initiated. It is no longer a historical event that forms the nation’s founding myth. On Monday, just a few days before November 7, the date the centennial strikes, President Vladimir Putin took part in an unveiling of the Wall of Sorrow, a monument to victims of the very state that turns 100 years old in a week. “We and our successors must remember the tragedy of repressions and their causes,” Putin said, speaking at a televised ceremony, shown as item one on national television. “But it does not mean one must call for revenge. Nobody can push society to the dangerous line of confrontation.” This is classic Putin. He never said he approved of repression, but he never walked the walk to fully condemn the perpetrators of those crimes either. Stalin was “a product of his epoch,” Putin recently told the director Oliver Stone. “It seems to me that excessive demonization of Stalin is one of the means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia,” Putin said, speaking in the last installment of a four-part series of interviews. “To show that today’s Russia bears some kind of birthmarks of Stalinism. We all have birthmarks of some kind—well, so what? Russia has changed fundamentally.” Modern Russia is a legal successor to the Soviet Union, and yet the nation shies away from its date of birth. Russia officially, and now symbolically, recognizes the crimes of the Soviet government, but Russia’s infamous secret police, in whose ranks most perpetrators worked, proudly traces its history to the early days of the 1917 revolution. President Putin calls on his countrymen to remember the tragedies of the past but warns them not to demonize the person who caused those very tragedies.

Russia struggles with legacy of 1917 Bolshevik Revolution | Fox News

They played key roles in Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which triggered a civil war that killed millions, devastated the country and redrew its borders.

100 years since the Russian Revolution, I’m glad to see Putin leading a capitalist utopia | The Independent

It’s 100 years since the Russian Revolution, which some people are celebrating, though if you were to be picky, you could argue it hasn’t gone entirely to plan.

Putin’s Russia can’t celebrate its revolutionary past. It has to smother it | Catherine Merridale | Opinion | The Guardian

The Russian Revolution was a fight against the excesses of the rich. No wonder Vladimir Putin wants to ignore the centenary, says historian Catherine Merridale

Podcast: The First Colored Revolution

On this week’s Power Vertical Podcast, we look at the Kremlin’s evasive approach to the centenary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: 1917 and 1991 Shared a Common Scenario and a Third Revolution Would Likely Do So as Well, Two Moscow Economists Say

Paul Goble Staunton, October 26 – “The events of 1917 and of the beginning of the 1990s took place according to the same scenario,” Aleksandr Belyakov and Igor Turuyev say. “Only instead of Tsar Nicholas there was Mikhail Gorbachev, instead of a world war, a cold one, and Boris Yeltsin could pretend to the role of Lenin.” Indeed, the two economists say, there was even an analogy to the Bolshevik dissolution of the Constituent Assembly: the destruction of the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet. [And] both the Russian tsar and the Soviet general secretary by their actions prepared revolutions which destroyed their regimes and powers(ng.ru/ideas/2017-10-26/5_7103_revolutions.html). This commonality is no accident, Belyakov and Turyuyev say. It reflects the instability of Russian society and “the continuing weakness of its social and political system” and the fact that only the abdication of the ruler can set in train revolutionary forces. Everything else is in fact secondary in importance. This is critically important for Russians to understand, the two economists continue, because “there is no absolute social-political stability in [Russia] even today, a quarter of a century after our last revolution” and “real changes of the social-political system are possible” only if the regime degrades and collapses rather than as a result of rising popular discontent. “The basic cause of social instability is that there is in Russia a very rickety and immature society, which lacks established ties and hierarchies which contribute to a stable society” and at the same time, “there is an insufficient level of material well-being which is a reliable barrier on the path of revolutions.” Most Russians in 1917, 1991 and perhaps in the future display “absolute indifference to the periodic destruction of traditional national values.” They “do not feel themselves real masters of their country and fate,” and consequently, they cede to others the power to make changes, even of the most radical kind. In the revolutions of 1917 and 1991, external factors played a role; “but the significance of external factors shouldn’t be exaggerated. It only created the background for the manifestation of all the systemic weaknesses of our society and state,” Belyakov and Turuyev say. Instead, they argue that the key events in both years were respectively “the abdication of the tsar from the throne and the general secretary from the CPSU.” As a result, “a cascade” of destructive and far-reaching social developments occurred. Thus, “October 1917 would not have happened without February and that would not have happened without the abdication.” “If Russia in 1917 and the USSR in 1991 had been led by more far-seeing and less complex-ridden politicians, and Russian society had been more mature, there wouldn’t have been any revolutions, not proletarian or democratic,” the two suggest. And Russia might have been far better off. “An important logical characteristic of any revolution is that at first honest political fanatics come to power and then rogues of all kinds, for whom politics and revolution are only a means for enriching and strengthening their personal power. These are the true beneficiaries of a revolution; everyone else suffers losses.” That is what happened in 1917 and “almost the same thing” in 1991. “the political system collapsed on its own,” not because of political opposition at home or even the impact of foreign events. “Soviet was too passive, and the nimbus of any Russian power too great” for it to be otherwise. “All this can be applied to the realities of today,” they write. Popular discontent and foreign influence will matter some, but only the degradation of the state and the abdication of its leader will lead to radical change – a reason, although Belyakov and Turyuyev do not mention it, why so many Russians cling to Putin because they fear what would happen if he left power.

The View From Lenin Street

One hundred years after Vladimir Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution that brought the communists to power in Russia, his name remains inscribed on streets and squares across the former Soviet Union. But what do people know about him today? RFE/RL asked people on Lenin Streets in several countries the simple question: Who was Vladimir Lenin?

FSB Arrests Extremist Suspects Ahead Of Russian Revolution Anniversary

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has apprehended groups of individuals in several Russian regions suspected of planning attacks on official buildings and police on November 4-5.

Gene Warfare? Russia’s Accusations Of U.S. DNA Gathering Get Raised Eyebrows, Lawsuit Threat

MOSCOW — Russia has dismissed an attempt by the Pentagon to clear the air following a bout of speculation from senior Russian lawmakers that the West is harvesting the genes of Russians to develop a biological weapon more deadly than the atom bomb. The allegations were dismissed by a Russia observer in the West as “propaganda” reminiscent of a “cut-and-paste job from an episode of X-Files.” But they have sparked a call for a clampdown on foreign laboratories collecting DNA — and prompted one such laboratory company to threaten a lawsuit. The claims came after President Vladimir Putin on October 30 said that Russian citizens’ “biomaterial” was being gathered “systematically and professionally” by foreigners. He asked, without offering a theory, “Why are they doing this?” Since then, Duma lawmaker and former chief sanitary inspector Gennady Onishchenko has called for legislation to tighten control over laboratories with foreign capital that gather biomaterial, calling it a threat to national security. He and other senior lawmakers have raised the specter of biological warfare. “I’m not asserting that we are talking about specific preparations for a biological war against Russia. But that scenario is undoubtedly being developed,” lawmaker and retired Colonel Frants Klintsevich wrote on his Facebook page. “The warning of the Russian president is very timely. The relevant agencies in the West should understand that we know of their interest.” On November 2, Onishchenko was more unequivocal: “This is an aggressive biological program that was banned by the 1972 convention on biological and toxic weapons.” Amid his flurry of statements, Onishchenko named Invitro, a large medical company based in Russia and Eastern Europe, prompting it to issue a denial of nefarious activity and a threat to sue him in comments to the RBC business holding. The Russian speculation around DNA collection appeared over the summer when Kremlin-financed international TV broadcaster RT, also known as Russia Today, drew attention to a procurement order for Caucasian Russian biomaterial posted by the U.S. Air Force in July. On November 1, spokespeople for the U.S. Air Force told TASS and the independent Meduza outlet that the biomaterial was required for ongoing research on the human musculoskeletal system and for identifying “various biomarkers associated with injuries.” The following day, Onishchenko and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov poured scorn on that explanation. Ryabkov called it “contrived” and said Moscow would raise the issue with Washington. He also spoke out about what he called a “chain of laboratories” established with U.S. assistance or partnership in neighboring countries. “We are going to express our dissatisfaction with the activity of the United States,” he was quoted by Interfax as saying, adding that he hoped the DNA collection only “hypothetically” could constitute a threat to national security.

Russians’ DNA taken by foreign agents, Kremlin says – BBC News

The Kremlin says foreign agents are collecting DNA samples from Russians of different ethnicities and sending the data abroad for scientific analysis. The agents were often working for foreign NGOs, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Mr Putin told a Russian human rights committee that the DNA collection was “systematic and professional”. Some scientists quoted in the Russian media speculated that the data could be used in US biological warfare research. A Russian MP close to the Kremlin, Gennady Onishchenko, said new “biological security” legislation to control access to Russians’ DNA “should be introduced in December” in parliament. Mr Onishchenko formerly headed a state agency – Rospotrebnadzor – that conducts sanitary checks on imported food and drink. The agency imposed temporary bans on certain produce from Georgia and Moldova, at times of political tension with Russia. He said foreign labs were analysing Russians’ DNA and restrictions on such research were necessary.

Vladimir Putin warns of future sci-fi super-human soldiers more ‘destructive than nuclear bombs’ who feel no fear or pain

VLADIMIR Putin has claimed genetically-modified super soldiers “worse than a nuclear bomb” could soon become a reality.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Foolishly Believe Their Country is Weaker than the USSR, Khramchikhin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 3 – Russians today foolishly think that their country is weaker than was the USSR and that it may suffer the same fate, Aleksandr Khramchikhin says; but in fact, the reverse is true. The Russian Federation is much stronger and more stable than its predecessor, and only by recognizing that can Russians and their leaders move forward. In an essay for Novoye voyennoye obozreniye, the Russian nationalist commentator says that it is long past time to dispel “the specter of the USSR” that hangs over much of Russia and to realize that there are six major areas in which Russia wins in comparison with the Soviet Union and others where “survivals of the past” still need to be overcome (nvo.ng.ru/concepts/2017-11-03/1_972_ghost.html). Khramchikhin lists the following six advantages he says Russia already has over its predecessor: · “First, Russia is much more ethnically and mentally unified and internally consolidated than was the USSR.” · “Second, the Russian market economy is much more effective than the Soviet command one … despite a high share of state ownership, there is no price regulation or Gosplan.” · “Third, even under conditions of the current economic crisis, the standard of living of the absolute majority of the population of Russia is qualitatively higher than it was in the USSR.” · “Fourth, even under the conditions of present-day political and ideological ‘freezing,’ the level of rights and freedoms of Russian citizens is much higher than even in the last years of the USSR.” · “Fifth, state propaganda has reached a qualitatively new level” and can compete on all platforms, including the Internet in particular. · And sixth, “in its foreign policy, the Russian Federation displays greater elements of healthy pragmatism,” something that was often absent “not only in the USSR but in the Russian Empire as well.” There are of course “survivals of the past” in this regard but Moscow isn’t handing out money in the way that it did to so-called “friends.” Despite these successes, Khramchikhin continues, everything could be lost quickly if the country does not maintain its military forces. And that in turn means that it is “extremely necessary to restore at least to the Soviet level science and education – the only sphere in which the USSR really was better than present-day Russia.” And in pursuing its goals in the world, Moscow must also avoid shifting from the extreme of “senseless idealism” that the Soviets displayed to “the other extreme of absolute cynicism.” (The distance between the two approaches, the commentator says, is often all too short.)

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Hyper-Centralization Killed Byzantium and Can Do the Same to Russia, Moscow Historian Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 1 – The Byzantine Empire ultimately collapsed because its rulers concentrated all power and wealth in the capital city of Constantinople, Ivan Baydakov says. Now, the Russian empire faces a similar risk because its rulers have done the same things in its capital city, Moscow. Clear parallels exist, the historian says, between the hyper-centralization of the Russian state as it emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and hyper-centralization of the Byzantine one, parallels that should serve as a warning to Russia’s current leaders (newizv.ru/article/general/01-11-2017/ivan-baydakov-istorik-moskva-riskuet-razdelit-uchast-konstantinopolya). Russian powers that be often compare the two states, “beginning by suddenly recalling the old idea of ‘Moscow as the Third Rome’ and ending with the notion that Russia” in all its various guises “has taken from Byzantium a very great deal: the most obvious being Orthodoxy as a civilizational doctrine and the historical title of the ruler.” But there is another and more fundamental resemblance. Moscow today is “everything” in Russia: “money, power, respect, cultural life, the entire life of the state.” Indeed, “everything revolves around Moscow.” A millennium ago, Constantinople was “everything” for Byzantium: “power, connections, status, money, simply everything.” There are many reasons this was the case with Constantinople within Byzantium, Baydakov says. The emperor lived there, surrounded by an enormous “’army’ of bureaucrats,” money and trade, and the aristocracy all wanted to be there and so left the rest of the empire behind. As a result, he argues, “the difference in the level of life in the capital from the level of life of the entire empire was approximately the same as the difference between that in Moscow and that in Magadan today.” Because Constantinople grew so large and needed to be fed and supported, it changed the relationship between capital cities and the empire. At its insistence, “the entire country worked to support Constantinople … All the cities of the empire paid taxes ‘to the center,’ but Constantinople didn’t because it was the center.” To justify this, Constantinople had to be “sacralized,” and that very step which showed that the empire existed to support a single city ultimately condemned it to collapse. “At a certain moment, the Byzantine Empire lost almost all its territories which had been feeding Constantinople and couldn’t exist any longer.” If one considers Russia in the 21st century, one sees much the same thing, Baydakov argues. “Moscow is accumulating everything. All power is in Moscow,” and the status of anyone is dependent on how close it is to that power. Moreover, all money is concentrated there as well. And together those ensure a better standard of living and higher cultural life. “Undoubtedly,” the historian continues, “a capital city must accumulate in itself power, but not all the resources of the state. An enormous state must not feed only one city.” Otherwise disaster will follow. That is what happened in Byzantium; that is what can happen in the Russian Federation as well.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Growing Russian Attention to Moscow’s Mercenaries in Syria Entails Real Dangers for Regime

Paul Goble Staunton, October 28 – Three days ago, Aleksandr Kots, the military correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, published a breakthrough article on something Russian officials have long sought to minimize or deny altogether – Moscow’s use of private military companies and soldiers of fortune in Syria(kp.ru/daily/26748/3777439/). In the intervening period, that article has been republished and discussed in outlets across the country, a development that shows no signs of slowing and that entails real dangers for the Putin regime as Russians seek answers for the question Kots posed in the subtitle to his article, “What are Russian ‘soldiers of fortune’ fighting and dying for in the 21st century?” That pattern reflects the fact that ever more incontrovertible evidence has surfaced about the capture of such Russian fighters and ever more reports of combat deaths have surfaced in regional media – but only occasionally in Moscow (themoscowtimes.com/news/russian-death-cert-reveals-real-syrian-casualty-count-59400). On the one hand, Kots’ article seeks to place the Russian use of mercenaries in an international context – other countries are doing it so why shouldn’t Russia? – and stresses that Russia too can take advantage of the deniability that such forces gives governments and the ability of such forces to do things that regular militaries are not trained for or permitted. But on the other hand, as the journalist acknowledges, there is an “ethical” side to this question. Why does Moscow need this deniability if its goals in Syria are as lofty as the Kremlin insists they are? And why if these fighters are doing Moscow’s will doesn’t the Russian government take responsibility for them when they are captured or killed? And it is precisely questions like these, questions that the Kremlin certainly doesn’t want Russians to be asking in this electoral season, that makes the appearance of this article and its replication across Russia a potential problem for the regime. Indeed, the repeated publication of Kots’ words may say more about the actual level of support for Putin’s wars than any poll.

Russian military having serious problems retaining contract soldiers, new data show | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

Vladimir Putin said this week that he remains committed to moving to an all-volunteer military, even though budgetary stringencies have slowed the process. But figures from the military itself show that Moscow faces an even more serious task, given demographic problems and the army’s inability to get contract soldiers to sign on for new tours. In his commentary in Yezhednevny zhurnal, Russian military expert Aleksandr Golts says that Putin’s words contradicted the statements of his generals earlier this month at the start of the fall draft. Many of them said they wanted the draft to continue forever, even though the Kremlin leader wants to do away with it. Although if Putin is as committed and certain as he says, the military commentator continues, that raise the question as to why he not long ago signed a law prohibiting those who manage to avoid military service “without respectable causes” to serve in the government until after ten years have elapsed. Putin is quite right that the transition to an all-volunteer military has slowed, but his words do not convey just how serious the problem may be. That is suggested by a report of Col.Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev to the social council of the defense ministry. His words were truly “sensational,” Golts says. The general said that this year the number of contract service personnel equaled 354,000, a number that, if true, means that the number of such soldiers has in fact declined, given that at the end of 2016, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu reported that there were already 384,000 contractor soldiers in uniform. If Mizintsev’s numbers are correct, the journalist said, that means that the transition to a contract army has stalled at the level of 2015, the “only explanation” for which is that “approximately the same number of [contract soldiers] left the service” as joined it in the last two years. Having served their original three-year term, “they have not begun to conclude new contracts,” something that means that the conditions of service are “not as attractive as the propagandists of the military agency describes them.” Pay hasn’t risen for five years, inflation has cut into that, and not all of the contractors are happy to be sent to “secret” wars. “The secret burials of those who have been killed, the shameful explanations” about the war in Ukraine, and “the cynical refusal to acknowledge the country’s own soldiers who have been taken prisoner all have a negative impact on the attitudes of many toward service,” Golts says. But such a state suggests an even bigger problem. If the number of contractors hasn’t increased over the last two years, then Shoygu’s claim that Moscow was able to cut the number of draftees this fall by 18,000 from a year earlier because of the increased number of contract soldiers is meaningless, Golts says. What that cutback actually reflects, the military analyst continues, is the demographic bottleneck Russia now faces. Those being drafted this year were born in 1999, “when the number of births was the very lowest for all of post-Soviet history.” But there will be no quick turnaround: the number of births in each of the next seven years weren’t much better. (“But there is no bad news without good,” he continues. Shoygu said that “only 13,000 draftees” will be sent to force structures other than the army. Most of these will go to the Russian Guard. But the other siloviki forces are “learning to live without draftees.” The emergency services ministry has been doing so for two years already.) And looming behind all these figures is yet another the Kremlin is certain to be concerned about. If one adds up the total number of draftees, contract soldiers and officers in the army, one gets a total of 850,000. That is 160,000 less than Putin has confirmed in a recent decree. Such a shortfall “inevitably will lead to a decline in military readiness,” Golts says. But the numbers may be less important in reality than as confirmation of the Kremlin’s belief that “only a million-man army corresponds to the status of a great power.” The only way to get to that number quickly, however, is to call up reserves. And to avoid doing that, military commanders are certainly telling their civilian superiors, will require keeping the draft in place for far more years ahead than Putin and his team have suggested. Thus, “ambitions are harming the transition to a contract army no less than budget reductions.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians’ Anti-War Attitudes Prompting Putin to Change His Rhetoric but Not His Plans, Preobrazhensky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – Most commentators are interpreting the results of the latest Levada Center poll about the attitude of Russians to Ukraine as a state and a nation, Ivan Preobrazhensky says; but in fact, the new numbers which show declining support for Moscow’s military actions in the Donbass are not about Ukraine but about Russians themselves. “From the moment when ‘the little green men’ appeared in Crimea,” the Rosbalt commentator continues, “all Ukrainian events became domestic Russian ones.” And when answering pollsters’ questions about Ukraine, “Russians are thinking much more about themselves than about the neighboring country” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/10/30/1657043.html). At first glance, Preobrazhensky says, the poll results (levada.ru/2017/10/30/rossijsko-ukrainskie-otnosheniya-2/) simply confirm “the old rule: with the weakening of propaganda pressure, citizens quietly free themselves from schemes imposed from outside” and go back to the positions they had earlier, as was the case with Georgia after 2008. But there is something much more important going on that the poll has tapped into: “a growing rejection by Russians of war in any variant.” People are far more afraid than they were that “’the current armed clashes in the east of Ukraine’ can ‘grow into a war between Russia and the countries of the West’ or into ‘world war.’” That is a major shift, and “the Kremlin clearly feels these attitudes – and is reacting,” not only reiterating its plans for an all-volunteer army (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/10/24/1655573.html) but also having the media float the idea that he will soon end Russia’s military involvement in Syria (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/10/30/1656802.html). “Apparently, in the opinion of Kremlin experts, the level of concern in society about a possible war has risen so much that it can have a negative impact not only on the image of the powers that be as a whole but specifically on the March presidential elections,” Preobrazhensky continues. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the Kremlin is about to turn in a radically different direction and conduct a peace policy. If that were the case, the Rosbalt commentator says, it would be reflected in military spending plans. So far, however, “this hasn’t taken place,” at least judging from the draft budget which identifies rearmament as a major priority. Instead, Putin’s two actions are intended only to “calm the population.” The Kremlin leader clearly still sees militarization of the country and of the population as something positive, and so “the climate will be softened only for a time,” perhaps for some months given the elections in March and the World Cup competition in the summer next year. “But then,” Preobrazhensky says, “as many liberal analysts have predicted there will not only be a renewed tightening of the screws within Russia, but also the militarization of the country will certainly intensify.” For now, however, the Russian people and perhaps some abroad need to be lulled into thinking that there will be a different outcome.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Seven Important Russian Observations

Paul Goble Staunton, November 3 – There are far too many useful and important Russian commentaries for Window on Eurasia to survey with any degree of completeness. Consequently, Windows will periodically issue listings of what seem especially important insights. This is the first such listing. More will follow irregularly in the coming weeks. Today, there are seven insightful observations that should not be missed:

  1. Khrushchev was anti-Stalinist but not anti-communist; Putin is an anti-communist but not an anti-Stalinist (graniru.org/opinion/rudensky/m.265313.html). 
  2. The inclusion of the word “forgive” on the newly dedicated Wall of Shame about the victims of the Soviet system vitiates much of the importance of that monument. For such crimes, any forgiveness is inappropriate (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59FB67B120C59). 
  3. Russians would have seen their incomes rise even more when oil prices were high if not for Vladimir Putin’s policies of allowing most of that wealth to flow to himself and his client oligarchs (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59FB6B4B14593). 
  4. Dmitry Medvedev and much of the Russian government have become luddites with respect to new technology, something that will limit Russia’s growth for a time but ultimately will be overcome by the power of economic change (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59FB4C8F5D0BB). 
  5. Russia’s Day of National Unity should be a real holiday, but Russians’ lack of interest in it is a reflection of their misfortunes (snob.ru/selected/entry/130874). 
  6. Russians assumed in 1917, 1991, and now that doing away with a hated system will guarantee that a good one will replace it and that the evils of the past won’t return (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/11/03/74439-sto-let-nazad-sto-let-vpered). 
  7. Russia currently lies in a coma, from which it may recover or it may die (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59FC1B2563EF1).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ISIS Seen Spreading into Russia via New Wave of Gastarbeiters from Central Asia

Paul Goble Staunton, November 3 – Now that ISIS has lost control of most of the territory in the Middle East it once held, its fighters are in many cases returning to their homelands. Those going back to Central Asia are in many cases, experts say, choosing to move on into Russia in the guide of gastarbeiters and continue their struggle for a khalifate there. That is the judgment of two Russian experts with whom Artur Priymak of Nezavisimaya gazeta spoke concerning the appearance of a shadowy new group known as Khorasan on the Tajik-Afghanistan border (ng.ru/ng_religii/2017-11-01/9_431_halifat.html). (For details on that group, seewindowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/10/new-post-isis-islamist-militant-group.html.) Andrey Grozin, the editor of the Countries of the CIS journal and a specialist on Central Asia, says that the return of jihadists to Central Asia has become so massive that it is no longer just the province of experts but is being openly discussed by intelligence and security officials across the region. He suggests that many of those returning to Central Asia don’t stay there long but instead move on to Russia as gastarbeiters. The reason is simple: “Migrants from Central Aisa working in Russia are a favorable ground for terrorist groups.” That is where they were first recruited, and that is where they feel themselves at home. “A significant portion of the jihadists from Central Asia who were fighting in Syria and Iraq are people who came ‘to jihad’ from Russia or through Russia. They were recruited not in their homeland but as it were during their work in Russia,” a country that is “extremely suitable” for such activities especially among Central Asians who come for work but can’t find it. Those people drop below the radar screen of the regular diaspora groups that work with the state and are easy pickings for radical recruiters, Grozin says. At the same time, however, some Central Asian gastarbeiters who do have jobs nonetheless follow the call to join the jihad as well. Aleksey Grishin, head of the Religion and Society Center and a specialist on ethnic groups, says that this pattern was set in train in the 1990s when the Central Asian countries expelled extremists and most of those who had been forced out settled in Russia. They became the recruiters for jihad among the next wave of migrants. “Happily,” Grishin continues, “as a result of the decline in the ruble exchange rate, the number of migrants [in Russia] has declined almost 50 percent;” but the radicals are better organized than they were and are successfully reaching a larger share of this smaller group of Central Asians. In Central Asia, radicalism is restricted because of the tight traditional organization of societies there. The elders typically know more about who is becoming a radical than the police do. But in Russia “radical elements in the migrant milieu feel themselves quite at home.” There isn’t the same degree of social supervision, and Russian security is not as tight as it might be. But Grishin adds that there is one important limiting factor on the rise of jihadism among Central Asian gastarbeiters – their ethnic backgrounds. “The Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Tajiks bring with them to Russia their historical conflicts and contradictions. There isn’t unity even within one national diaspora.” The jihadists say that all Muslims are one and that appeals to some, Grishin continues; but very quickly national feuds break out again, limiting the success of the jihadis’ organizational efforts.

How Russia spawned more ISIL fighters than most nations | News | Al Jazeera

Civil rights and security concerns rise as fighters return, with experts urging law should be applied consistently.

Guilty by blood: How state officials in Russia’s North Caucasus police, provoke, and persecute the people with ties to armed insurgents — Meduza

In the early 2010s, officials in Russia’s North Caucasus started creating special commissions designed to persuade insurgents to lay down their arms and return to civilian life. In the past three years, these commissions have taken on a new role: helping people who left, either by mistake or out of foolishness, to join the Islamic State. Back in Russia, these individuals face prison time, if they ever return. Meduza correspondent Sasha Sulim learned more about how these commissions track down insurgents and their relatives, how they try to return these people to society, and why state officials in some parts of the region actually want nothing to do with the whole project.

Russian Ministry Claims Huge Jump In Number Of Arrested Militants In North Caucasus

Sergei Bachurin, who heads the federal Interior Ministry’s directorate for the North Caucasus Federal District, claims that during the first nine months of this year 296 militants were apprehended …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Central Asians, Ever More Numerous in Moscow Region Mosques, Gradually Taking Leadership Roles

Paul Goble Staunton, November 2 – Muslim migrants from Central Asia and also the Caucasus form an increasing share of the members of the 45 officially registered Muslim communities in Moscow Oblast and are ever more often displacing the Volga Tatars who were the founders of these communities, according to Alena Guskova. The student at the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology says that this shift has made these mosques centers of integration because the language imams and mullahs use has shifted from Tatar to Russian and because they work hard to help flocks become part of the Russian community (fergananews.com/articles/9615). At the same time, Guskova reports, the Tatars continue to serve as the chief mullahs and imams, “but already in some places their deputies and assistants come from among the migrants.” That means that the mosques are losing their “Tatar character” and that means their nature as classical representatives of the “traditional” mosque-based Islam the regime approves. According to certain reports, “from 60 to 80 percent of the parishioners” in this region are arrivals from Central Asia or the southern regions of Russia.” But the migrants do not yet set the tone n these mosques, she says. Instead, they remain, in the words of one Muslim leader, “only parishioners and not active members of the communities.” One interesting pattern she points to is this: the new arrivals view the Tatars as their guides to living in the Russian region and thus give them enormous authority and respect even though the Tatars no longer dominate these communities as they once did. Another speaker at the same conference, Vladimir Malakhov, a political scientist at the Presidential Academy of Economics and State Service, provides a broader perspective on the impact of migrants on the Muslim community in the Russian Federation. In response to a question about the possible “Islamization of Russia,” he observes that “until recently, migration from so-called ‘Muslim countries’ into Russia was not talked about in such terms.” Instead and reflecting Soviet tradition, Russians both officials and ordinary citizens have discussed them more in ethnic terms than in religious ones. That makes Russians much less fearful of possible “Islamization” than Europeans are, Malakhov continues. But there are two other reasons for that. On the one hand, given that between 10 and 12 percent of Russia’s indigenous population is Muslim, followers of Islam aren’t viewed as a threat from abroad. And on the other, given that the Kremlin presents itself as “the moral alternative to immoral Europe” and a defender of traditional religious values, the Russian authorities are generally far more restrained in presenting Muslims as a problem and threat than are their European counterparts.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Without Gastarbeiters, Russian GDP Would Decline Ten Percent, Experts Say

Paul Goble Staunton, October 29 – Russia’s demographic situation is such, former Federal Migration Service deputy head Vyacheslav Postavnin says, that “if migrant workers were completely excluded from the Russian economy, the country’s GDP would automatically fall by ten percent” (ura.news/articles/1036272764). “Russia is currently losing a million workers each year: people are dying or going on a pension,” he says, “but we don’t have young people in sufficient quantities” to replace them. The only way the country can compensate and not suffer economically, Postavnin says, is to make use of gastarbeiters. Other Russian experts agree. Sergey Boldyrev, a specialist on migration at the Trade-Industrial Chamber, says that “any immigrant who in Russia produces a good for five rubles takes only one for himself; the remaining four remain in the country” and benefits the Russian people and Russia as a state. And Anatoly Vishnevsky, the director of the Institute of Demography of the Higher School of Economics, adds that no one should forget that “migration is a very important demographic resource without which we will not even be able to keep at a stable level the numbers of our population.” But polls show that overwhelming majorities of Russians want to restrict immigration. One recent survey by VTsIOM, for example, found that 78 percent say that the government should place severe limits on the number of gastarbeiters allowed to come into and work in the country. The authorities are responding: the labor ministry has called for reducing the quota of gastarbeiters next year by 20 percent, and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has called for increasing the registration payments such workers must make in hopes of reducing their number and the burden he sees them placing on the city. The conflict between what the country needs and what the country wants highlights a troubling reality, the URA news agency concludes: Russia can’t live without immigrant workers but it doesn’t want to live with them either.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Why Do People in Former Soviet Republics Hate Everything Russian?’

Paul Goble Staunton, November 1 – Not just the opponents of Russia but its allies among the former Soviet republics seek to build support for their independent existence by attacking everything Russian, knowing that Moscow will respond to attacks on Soviet things but not on attacks of the actions of the Russian Empire, according to Moscow historian Sergey Volkov. The Russian leadership today, he argues is a continuation not of the Russian Empire but of its antithesis, the USSR, in which any struggle against the empire and ‘tsarism’ social or national was welcomed and celebrated, an assessment” which the historian incorrectly says, ‘was never officially changed (lenta.ru/articles/2017/10/31/mutiny_1916/). As a result, Volkov says, when the former Soviet republics attack anything Soviet, Moscow goes into hysterics; but when they attack something from the tsarist past, the Russian reaction is much calmer or even non-existent. The leaders of the republics have learned that lesson. Those who want to remain friendly with Moscow focus on the latter and avoid doing too much of the former, while those whose existence is based on hostility to Moscow, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, and Ukraine, do both but do not refrain from doing the former. As Volkov pointedly notes, “the authorities in these countries are not fools: they are practical and know very well that no one in the Russian Federation will say to them: we are the heirs of the Russian Empire, and if you show in some way your hostility to it, we will consider this and review our relations with you.” That is very clearly shown, the historian suggests, in Moscow’s reaction to attacks on tsarist policies in 1916 in Central Asia. “If the Russian leadership wanted to associate itself with old Russia, it would have to respond. But those celebrating the uprising know very well that Russia will be silent.” In Moscow, Volkov continues, “the authorities look at all this not from the point of view of the interests of traditional Russian statehood but as heirs of the Soviet-communist regime … and more than anything else fear being accused of ‘great power’ attitudes and ‘imperialism.’ They thus prefer to remain quiet.” In this way, however, Moscow opens the way for these countries and their officials to separate themselves from Russia and even to come to hate the former metropolitan center and its people. And the Russian government needs to recognize that the same thing will happen in regions within Russia should they become independent. “If Arkhengelsk oblast should secede, then books would appear saying that the Pomors are not ethnic Russians and that Moscow has oppressed them.” The same thing would be true even in “purely ethnic Russian regions” that might break off. They too would go back to the imperial past and find a basis for their identity in opposition to Moscow. Efforts to present the Russian Federation as the heir of both the Russian Empire and the USSR are “laughable,” Volkov says. Those two countries were “absolute ideological antheses” of each other: “the USSR not only completely denied succession from the empire but based its existence on opposing and hating it.” As a result, and as the non-Russians appear to understand better than the Russians, Russia today descends “only from the USSR.” Unless than changes, the non-Russian regimes will continue to promote anti-Russian ideas even as they generally avoid the anti-Soviet ones that Moscow is certain to get upset about.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Criminalization of Federalism Sets Stage for Russia’s Disintegration, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 31 – The events following the declaration of independence by Catalonia including Madrid’s effort to find a way to provide enough autonomy to the Catalans that they will be quite prepared to remain in a united federal Spain may be the most important developments in the world, Igor Yakovenko says. The Spanish government recognized that its attempt to hold in Catalonia by force was costing it both support within that region and across the European Union and so decided on a more cautious approach, the Russian commentator says. But Moscow has adopted a different approach (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59F8261A51384). The Russian state in its various guises has “at all times sought to preserve the unity of the country with the help of force. A century ago, this was one of the factors of the collapse of the empire which then was assembled again by force of arms. And then it fell apart again 26 years ago,” Yakovenko continues. “Today, there is not a single positive cause why Siberia and the North Caucasus, the Far East and the Volga region should carry out Moscow’s commands and more generally even remain in the borders of a single country while not having any rights to decide independently the problems of their development.” He continues: “The single cause which keeps Russia in its current borders is repression directed against any centrifugal forces.” And “by its placing a taboo on the theme of federalism, the Kremlin has created conditions for the disintegration of the country.” The last reassembly of the empire by force lasted about 70 years; this time “it will last far less long.” Russians should be learning from the Spanish government’s response to the Catalonian events. But polls show that “more than a third of our fellow citizens don’t know where Catalonia is located: 26 percent honestly admit they don’t know, five percent put in it in Italy, and one percent” put it in a whole range of other countries, including the US and the former Yugoslavia. Moreover, according to the VTsIOM survey, two out of five Russians say that Catalonia’s relations with Spain are “not important for Russia,” although slightly more say that it does. Sixty-eight percent say Moscow should remain neutral, 14 percent say it should back Catalonia, and five percent support Madrid’s position. Russians also appear to be ignorant about the enormous number of regionalist movements and parties “in all countries of Europe.” Some support these groups if they weaken Russia’s opponents, but most oppose any movement that calls into question existing borders anywhere lest that spread to Russia itself. According to Yakovenko, “in Russia, the problem of the striving of regions for independence is resolved simply” and forcefully. First, the Kremlin transformed the Federation Council by eliminating elections to it. Then it banned the creation of regional parties. And most recently, it has imposed criminal sanctions against any calls for separatism, something Moscow defines ever more broadly. “The very idea of federalism in the Russian Federation (!),” Yakovenko says, “has been declared a crime and is completely officially defined as a form of extremism.” Indeed, “any measures with the word ‘federalism’ and related terms are taboo in the Russian Federation” of today. A year ago, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation issued an explanation of Article 280 that clearly extended extremism to include separatism and federalism. “That is,” Yakovenko says, “a Plenum of the Supreme Court specifically stressed that in order to be imprisoned for two or three years it is totally unnecessary to call for any specific action … [or] for the use of force.” It is now sufficient, he continues, “to pronounce the words about the federalization of the region … or its statehood.” Those things are now crimes in Putin’s Russia. “The idea of federalism, the striving of people living in a region to take their fate into their own hands, this on the one hand is a constituent part of the idea of freedom, the main value of the Western world and on the other a manifestation of that very growth of diversity which is the only thing that can oppose social entropy, stagnation, and decline.” Thus, Yakovenko says, “to preserve the unity of a country in conditions of freedom is possibly only by having given the regions such a level of sovereignty and autonomy that people live there will feel comfortable and the benefits from living within a single state will significantly exceed the potential benefits of leaving it.” The United States for more than two centuries is a model of this, and Spain now, having recognized the error of using force against Catalonia earlier, is as well. But this is a model Russia hasn’t followed. Unless it does, it won’t survive in its current borders for long however much force it employs.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Stalin was Wrong to Call Russians ‘the Elder Brothers’ of Other Nations, Roy Medvedev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – Stalin’s identification of the Russian people as “the elder brother” of all the nations of the USSR “was incorrect,” Marxist historian and Soviet-era dissident Roy Medvedev says. “Why should the Russian people be the elder brother? Why shouldn’t the Uzbek or Ukrainian nation not be equal?” That tilt toward the ethnic Russians, he continues in the course of a wide-ranging interview with Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, was one of the manifestations of the fact that Stalin’s nationality policy was “mistaken in many ways” and had disastrous consequences for the peoples of the USSR (business-gazeta.ru/article/362280). “The nationality policy of the Bolsheviks,” Medvedev says, “was formulated by Lenin, not by Stalin” as many now think. It was a major preoccupation of Lenin, “and namely he developed all the basic propositions of the strategy even before the revolution.” Russia in his vision was to be based “on the equality of nations,” not on the supremacy of any one of them. “The nationality policy dictated by Lenin was correct,” the historian says. “But during Stalin’s time, nationality policy already was perverted. To a significant degree, the national rights of many peoples except perhaps the Georgians, were violated.” And to this day, the peoples of the former Soviet space have reasons to complain about that fact. Medvedev stresses that his assessment of Stalin is “absolutely negative: he had no positive role in the history of our country. [He] did not establish a firm state. It fell apart in 1991 because it was based only on force and it needed to have been based on ethnic and social foundations.” “China, for example, has not disintegrated, but the Soviet Union has, although the two countries in equal measure considered themselves to be socialist countries. In Russia,” as a result of what Stalin did to distort the system, “socialism in fact was liquidated in the course of a single month and replaced as an ideology.” Medvedev, it should be remembered, has always been a consistent anti-Stalinist and in most cases a defender of Lenin. But his words in this case about Stalin’s introduction of the notion of Russians as “the elder brothers” of all other Soviet peoples are still significant because they highlight a problem that both the Soviet leadership faced earlier and that Putin does now. And that is this: if the center tilts too far in the direction of Russian nationalism, the country becomes ungovernable except by massive repression because that nationalism will generate a response among other peoples, their own nationalisms, and those nationalisms will be by definition anti-Russian. Balancing the need to recognize the preeminence of the Russian nation in the country and the rights of non-Russians was too much for the Soviet Union as soon as Mikhail Gorbachev decided to move away from massive force: his targeted use of violence in Baku, Tbilisi, Vilnius and elsewhere wasn’t enough. The same thing, Medvedev’s analysis suggests, will be true of the Russian Federation: If the Kremlin tilts too far in the direction of the Russian nation, it will either be compelled to rely on force to hold the country together or it will set in train forces that will tear that state apart yet again.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Need to Stop Being Ashamed of their Peasant Backgrounds, Prokhorova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – Whether Russians decide to base their identity on tsarist or Soviet traditions or to come up with an entirely new one, Irina Prokhorova says, they must as a first step stop being ashamed of the fact that the overwhelming majority of them descend not from the nobility or the communist elite but from the peasantry. In a wide-ranging interview with Andrey Arkhangelsky in the new issue of Ogonyek, the editor of Novoye literaturnoye obozreniye, says that the experience of people in World War II shows that even the most horrific events can unite people if they know the truth about them but divide them if they don’t (kommersant.ru/doc/3447599). The experiences of Soviet citizens in the war caused the post-war Soviet leadership which had gone through that conflict like everyone else to limit their totalitarian aspirations and rein in their “imperial appetite.” This direct personal experience was key because “Soviet censorship did not allow public discussion about the tragic consequences of the war.” “Today,” however, she says, “the generation of those who fought at the front left, and people have begun to treat the war in a different way, one that leads not to unification but to the division of society.” And that, which involves things like justifying Stalin’s crimes and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact “can lead to a new tragedy.” The institution of serfdom, Prokhorova says, nominally disappeared in the 1860s, “but its influence on our subsequent life as before has been colossal.” That experience of slavery “has not allowed” Russians to address some of the basic questions that must be answered to come up with an adequate identity. In this, there is an obvious contrast with the US where the rise of the positive cult of the cowboy was an implicit recognition that Americans were a nation of herders; and that recognition as transformed into myth led to the formation of a national identity there, the editor continues. But in Russia things worked out differently because “it is difficult to find in our historical memory about the peasantry a basis for the elaboration of a positive identity.” By tradition, the peasants were viewed the byword for backwardness and ignorance. Indeed, it was one of the few things both the Slavophiles and Westernizers agreed upon. Following the revolution, “the Bolsheviks, having usurped the rhetoric of liberation and equality, in reality deprived the peasantry of the remains of freedom by driving it into the collective farms. It is no accident that among the people, VKP stood not for the All-Russian Communist Party but for ‘the second law of serfdom.’” The overwhelming majority of Soviet officials came from the peasantry but instead of being proud of their background, they “competed with one another to become the new nobility. “Having destroyed the peasantry as a class, the Soviet state constructed the mythology of ‘the happy villager,’ a pseudo-popular mass culture” with all the trimmings. As a result, Prokhorova says, “we simply do not have the language for a serious conversation about the peasant cultural inheritance.” And that problem was made worse by the rise of anti-Soviet Russian nationalism which deified the tsarist period and the White movement and ignored what had been the fate of the peasantry under both. Some would add workers to the forefathers of Russians today, but the writer argues that this is a mistake because the workers came from the peasantry and “in Stalin’s time, the statue of the worker was little different from that of an inmate of the GULAG.” He too was subject to a kind of serfdom which reinforced rather than helped overcome the past. Today, Russians are beginning to break out of some of the straightjackets of the past, but they still view Russian history as that of the state rather than of the people. And until this false optic is broken, Russians will continue their eternal arguments about Ivan the Terrible or Stalin rather than consider what the people have gone through and accomplished. “If we look at historical precedents with the eyes not of rulers or executioners but those of a private individual and especially of victims of social experiments, then we will be ble to assess many events very differently and formulate different priorities.” And perhaps most important, we will then be in a position to “achieve civic reconciliation.” Unfortunately, even now, the collective historical imagination of Russians “as before is dominated by the standards of the 19th century: tsar – elite – people,” with the first almost everything, these second what remains, and the third simply not taken into account or actively despised. That must change, and for it to change and for Russians to be able to evaluate where they have come from and what they have achieved or not achieved and how they should view the current authoritarian regime which seems to want to go back to the past, Prokhorova concludes, they must begin by acknowledging and accepting their peasant backgrounds.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Orthodoxy Losing Out to Protestantism in North Caucasus

Paul Goble Staunton, November 1 – Despite or, in some cases, because of the support it receives from the government and the new “anti-extremism” laws deployed against others, the Russian Orthodox Church is increasingly isolated from Russians in the North Caucasus and is losing many of them to Protestant groups who are also attracting some Muslims as well. This continues a trend that experts pointed to five years ago at about the time when the Moscow Patriarchate set up a new bishopric in Daghestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya in the hope of stemming its losses and recovering its dominance among the remaining ethnic Russians in these republics (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/218670/ and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/217888/). Ruslan Gereyev, the director of the Center for Islamic Research on the North Caucasus, says that the major reason for Orthodoxy’s failure and Protestantism’s success is that “unlike Protestant and Muslim preachers, representatives of the Russian Orthodox church do not reach out to the population” (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/Protestants_orthodoxe_islam_500_years/). Because they are more active in proselytizing, Protestants have been able to gain new adherents more quickly despite the Orthodox Church’s reliance on the state’s declaration of some as “foreign agents” or extremists.” Indeed, Gereyev says, the focus on Islamist extremism means that most of the time Protestants can function without attracting official attention. Gereyev adds that because most of its priests are old and keep themselves hidden from society, Orthodoxy is no longer “fashionable” among the young, and so “Muslims and Orthodox Christians are adopting the faith of the Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, and other Protestant denominations.” As a result, the Protestants have made some significant gains. In Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan, there are now about 30,000 Orthodox Christians, about the same number as five years ago, but there are 7,000 Protestants, far more than before. For the North Caucasus as a whole, there are more than 150 congregations registered and far more unregistered. In North Ossetia, Protestantism is especially strong because of neighboring Georgia, local experts say. Protestant churches are well-organized, use modern communications techniques, and “are always ready to help people in difficulty,” something that cannot be said of the Russian Orthodox. In that republic, there are cases “when Muslims convert to Protestantism and the reverse,” Gereyev says. And in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, there are now more registered communities of Protestants than there are Orthodox parishes. Only Muslims have more, local officials say.

Police, Nationalists Clash As Russians Mark National Unity Day

Russia is set to mark People’s Unity Day on November 4 and the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution on November 7.

Psychiatrist Semen Gluzman: Russians tend to believe the worst leaders they choose, unlike Ukrainians who turn to criticism right after election | UNIAN

Psychiatrist Semen Gluzman: Russians tend to believe the worst leaders they choose, unlike Ukrainians who turn to criticism right after election. The latest news from UNIAN for 03 November

Muscovites Remember Victims Of Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’

Hundreds of people have gathered near the former KGB headquarters in central Moscow to honor the memory of thousands of men and women executed by the Soviet authorities during Josef Stalin’s “Great…

Russia To Unveil Monument To Victims Of Political Repression

Amid controversy over his own methods of maintaining control over Russia, President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to appear at the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to victims of state repression dur…

How Stalin Became Stalinist | The New Yorker

Puzzling out how the idealistic Soviet revolutionary came to preside over the bloodiest regime of his time.

Thousands attended protest organized by Russians on Facebook – To Inform is to Influence

BY ALI BRELAND – 10/31/17 01:15 PM EDT Thousands of Americans attended a march last November organized by a Russian group that used social media to interfere in the 2016 election. The demonstration in New York City, which took place a few days after the election, appears to be the largest and most successful known effort to date pulled off by Russian-linked groups…

Law Tightening Internet Restrictions Comes Into Force In Russia

A controversial law tightening restrictions on the Internet comes in force in Russia on November 1, months ahead of a March 2018 election that is widely expected to hand President Vladimir Putin a …

The Morning Vertical, November 1, 2017

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that there is nothing wrong or unusual about Andrei Belyaninov being appointed head of the Eurasian Development Bank. As I note in today’s Daily Vertical, Belyaninov resigned in disgrace as Russia’s customs chief amid a corruption probe back in July after investigators raided his home and found shoe boxes stacked with cash, priceless antiques, and expensive works of art. And Peskov is right. There is nothing unusual about Belyaninov getting a cushy new job after appearing to take a fall. As I also note on The Daily Vertical, this kind of thing often happens. But while corruption and opulence remains the norm for Russia’s power elite — except, of course, for those who fall out of political favor — the living standards of ordinary Russians continue to fall. According to a report in Vedomosti (also featured below), approximately 22 million Russians — about one in six — are earning less than the official living wage of $172 per month, a 2 million person increase since last year. Russians are not naive. They know how corrupt their leaders are. But when living standards were rising, as they were for Vladimir Putin’s first two terms in the Kremlin, they tended to give their rulers a free pass. But when living standards are falling, not so much. Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has tapped into this very effectively with his anti-corruption videos and street protests. And it’s an issue that is only going to get more dangerous for the Putin regime going forward.

The Daily Vertical: Office Politics, Kremlin-Style (Transcript)

So, does anybody remember Andrei Belyaninov? Sure you do. His name was all over the Russian news back in July. He was the head of Russia’s Federal Customs Agency who resigned in disgrace after agents from the Investigative Committee raided his home and office in connection with an alcohol-smuggling case. Investigators found approximately $400,000, 300,000 euros, and 10 million rubles stacked in shoe boxes in his home. There were also priceless antiques, expensive works of art, and an indoor pool. And all that opulence was humiliatingly broadcast on state television. At the time the raid was shocking because Belyaninov — who served with Putin in the KGB and has known the Kremlin leader for decades — was widely seen as untouchable. Well, guess what? It turns out he was. Because after that big show, Belyaninov was never charged with anything. And this week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave him a nice new job, appointing him head of the Eurasian Development Bank. Now we’ve of course seen this movie before. A powerful official takes an apparent fall, only to find a nice soft landing. Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, for example, was sacked amid a corruption investigation back in 2012 — only to be appointed to a high post in the state corporation Rostec just a few years later. Now, what this illustrates is that corruption investigations in Russia could be about a lot of things. They could be the result of power plays, power struggles, and clan warfare. They could be retribution for political disloyalty. They could be a Potemkin show for the public. But what they rarely, if ever, are about is fighting corruption. Call it office politics, Kremlin-style.

The Morning Vertical, November 2, 2017

The Kremlin administration has often been compared to the Soviet Communist Party’s old Central Committee — and not just because it occupies the same building on Moscow’s Staraya Ploshad. Looking at Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s list of Russia’s 100 most influential politicians (featured below), it is no accident that many of the names near the top of the list are either serving now (chief of staff Anton Vaino and deputy chief of staff Sergei Kiriyenko), or have served in the past (Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin) in senior Kremlin administration posts. This shadowy institution, which isn’t even mentioned in the Russian Constitution, is one of the keys to understanding the behavior of Vladimir Putin’s regime. In a report back in September for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mark Galeotti showed the central role that the Kremlin administration plays in Russia’s active measures and political warfare against the West. And now, in a must-read piece featured below, Novoye Vremya’s Denis Vardanyan takes an in-depth look at how it works, how it manages and executes policy, who the key players are, and how labor is divided among them. It’s a long read, but worth the time.

Russia’s Medvedev says the world shouldn’t be dominated by one currency

Russia and China were considering linking their national payment system, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday, as he called for a more balanced global finance structure.

Russian liberals attack current regime but defend foundation of regime as such, Birna says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

One of the fundamental weaknesses of liberal Russian thought and behavior, Irina Birna says, is Russian liberals are always ready to criticize the current regime but defend the basis of that regime as such, refusing to see the links between the two and thus manifesting “a latent imperialism.” They do not recognize the reality that a liberal Russia might be possible if it were finally shorn of its imperial possessions, something that was not completed in 1917 or 1991, but that a liberal Russia with those possessions still inside its borders could never exist. In more lapidary language than she uses, a liberal Russian empire is a contradiction in terms. The criticism of the current Russia regime by liberals is “rational,” the Moscow commentator says. “It is the result of the scholarly, professional or social activity of the individual, the experience of confrontation with reality, and an analysis of the state of those spheres of activity close to him.” But “the support of the regime” in the form of its existence as defender of the Russian state “is instinctive: it is the result of education, training, and the formation of the personality in an atmosphere of all-penetrating imperialism, patriotism, ‘national’ pride, ‘Orthodoxy’ and other things” said to bind the individual to that country. “The entire history of Russia is a bloody path of incorporating territories and a no less bloody process of holding on to them,” she says. “And those ‘democrats,’ ‘liberals,’ and ‘opposition figures’ who do not understand this yet and continue to call for ‘the preservation’ of the country, the return to the traditions of ‘real’ Russia, ‘killed’ supposedly by the Bolsheviks are calling for a continuation of this path.” Such people fail to understand that criticizing Stalin while defending the empire is to fall in the trap of defending Stalin’s purposes because he spent his entire career working to promote and defend the empire that Russian liberals implicitly or not so implicitly – Birna discusses four examples of such an approach – are promoting and defending it as well. “It is time to understand,” she says, that a Russia run as a prison, including the Russian people, cannot rise to the levels of civilized countries. It will remain on its “traditional, military-political path of being a permanent threat to the occupation of neighboring territories, the enslavement of their peoples, and the blackmail of another war anywhere on the planet.” “The number of victims of this or that era is a function of the state of the Power in a specific historical reality: if in one era, it is sufficient to slit the throats of several thousand Bashkirs, in another, it may have to destroy 70 to 80 million people, and then again can limit itself to the Kursk and Beslan.” But the underlying impulses do not change. Unless and until Russian liberals – and not just them alone – understand that reality, all too many of them will in fact be defending and promoting, on the one hand, the very system they think they are attacking, on the other. That reality may please the powers that be; but it will not promote the values the liberals say they follow.

The Morning Vertical, October 31, 2017

The Kremlin has gotten a lot of mileage out of claiming that ethnic Russians in Estonia are victims of state-sponsored discrimination, specifically on the issue of citizenship. But as Urve Eslas shows in a piece featured below, the facts tell a very different story. According to Eslas, the proportion of noncitizens living in Estonia, most of whom are ethnic Russians, has fallen from 32 to 6 percent since independence. And those who still don’t have citizenship — a number she estimates at 79,000 — appear to be freely choosing this option. The reason? Estonia grants its noncitizens a so-called “gray passport,” which gives them all the rights of citizens except the right to vote in national elections (although they can vote in local elections). Moreover, gray passport holders can travel visa-free to Russia, as well as within the European Union. Estonian passport holders, on the other hand, must obtain a visa to visit Russia. Just another example of a well-worn Kremlin talking point that just doesn’t square with the facts.

The Briefing: Repression Then And Now

The Power Vertical Briefing looks at the controversy surrounding a new monument to victins of Stalin-era repression.

The Daily Vertical: Putin’s Hybrid Repression (Transcript)

Vladimir Putin made all the right noises yesterday when he spoke at the opening of the Wall of Sorrow, a new monument to victims of Stalinist repression. He said Russia’s “horrific past must not be stricken from the national memory, nor justified in any way.” He said we “must remember the tragedy” of Stalin-era repressions “and their causes.” WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical And he said that this memory serves “as a powerful warning to prevent their repetition.” But while the words may have been good, the reality, of course, is something else entirely. Because while Putin said Stalinist repressions should never be justified, he did justify Stalin back in June, when he warned against an “excessive demonization” of the Soviet autocrat. And while Putin warned against a repetition of Stalin-era repressions, his prosecutors were busy using so-called antiextremism laws to create a whole new generation of political prisoners — many of whom just liked or shared content on social media that the Kremlin found objectionable. Putin’s comments came amid a wave of assaults by pro-Kremlin vigilante groups against opposition figures. They came as independent journalists are fleeing the country fearing for their safety. And they came amid reports that homosexuals are being tortured and killed in Chechnya. Political opponents are not being rounded up after a midnight knock on the door, and shot in the basement of Lubyanka. But whistle-blowers like Sergei Magnitsky can die under mysterious circumstances in prison; defectors like Aleksandr Litvinenko can be assassinated with a radioactive isotope in downtown London. And, as Boris Nemtsov’s assassination taught us, opposition leaders can be shot dead on the street, in view of the Kremlin, and the true masterminds of the de facto execution can walk away scot-free. So Putinism may be a far cry from the mass repression that was Stalinism, but is also far from repression-free. I guess you can just call it hybrid repression.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Why is Beijing Pledging to Fight Illegal Chinese Immigration into Russia?

Paul Goble Staunton, November 2 – During Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Beijing, his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang said Beijing will not allow any “illegal migration of its citizens into Russia,” a remarkable declaration that likely will raise rather than settle Russian concerns about the number of Chinese in Russia east of the Urals (ria.ru/world/20171101/1507960592.html). As one Russian commentator, Aleksey Vinokurov, has already said, Li’s words suggest that Beijing is counting on the number of law-abiding Chinese to be sufficient to promote its expansion of influence and doesn’t need any “growth in illegal migration” to do so (fergananews.com/articles/9616). But why should Li have said anything of the kind? Illegal migrants don’t generally ask permission from their own governments, and most illegals do not fall into that category because they cross the border without permission. Rather they do so by overstaying their visa time limits or acting in ways their visas don’t require. That means, Vinokurov says, that Russia, not China, has to bear the biggest burden in fighting “illegal Chinese migrants.” And that is a real challenge, he continues, because Chinese in Russia acknowledge that “there are many more Chinese violating [Russian] migration rules than there are those who obey the law.” China in fact and unlike the Soviet Union encourages its citizens to go abroad: this reduces unemployment, provides a channel of assistance for Chinese remaining at home, and represents an important form of influence for Beijing. Indeed, the Chinese word for migrant is best translated as “’a bridge to China.’” Because that is the case, restricting migration has never been one of the primary goals of China, Vinokurov says. Moreover, it is unclear what it would do to achieve that given that this issue is not about border controls but rather about the behavior of individual Chinese who overstay or otherwise violate Russian visa provisions. And launching a campaign in China to encourage people not to go to Russia for work would hardly be in China’s interests. Consequently, Li’s declaration was simply an expression of politeness, the Russian commentator says; and it will have no impact on the real number of illegal Chinese migrants in Russia. Indeed, their number may even go up. Medvedev said in response that Moscow wants to extend the length of time Chinese can stay in Russia without a visa to three weeks, a step that would allow even more Chinese to overstay their time and thus add to Russian fears about the Chinese presence in Russia east of the Urals.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Burying Lenin Useful for Politicians Seeking Attention without Running Afoul of the Kremlin, Milshteyn Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 3 – A plethora of Russian politicians has begun speaking about burying Lenin, “practically unanimously and at the same time,” Ilya Milshteyn says, a reflection of the desire of these figures to attract attention by making statements that appear dramatic but that in fact won’t run afoul of the Kremlin. The number of issues on which this is possible, the Moscow commentator says, is in fact quite limited. On most major questions, these politicians agree with one another, and thus they find it necessary to “imitate scandalous discussions.” For that, “Lenin and his posthumous fate are an ideal theme” (graniru.org/opinion/milshtein/m.265319.html). Burying Lenin is just controversial enough to guarantee media attention without raising questions that the Kremlin will feel the need to intervene and decide. Consequently, the question of burying the founder of the Soviet state is something that can be counted on to arise during every electoral cycle – without necessarily leading to any resolution. Further, this “issue” has the additional benefit of taking time away from any serious ones, including the evaluation of the revolution. And the Kremlin is grateful for that as well: it wants the appearance of controversy to attract interest in the election without any real controversy that might make the election interesting. But there is yet another reason why this issue is useful: it allows Putin to gage how Russians will commemorate him when the time comes. If he decides it will be in his personal interest to remove Lenin from the mausoleum and bury him, that will happen instantly. If he decides otherwise, it won’t.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Overall Tuberculosis Rate in Russia Falling, But Antibiotic Resistant Strands are Increasing

Paul Goble Staunton, November 2 – Russia has made significant progress in reducing the rate of tuberculosis infections in both the prison and free populations over the last two decades, but it is experiencing a dramatic rise in antibiotic resistant strains that are far more difficult to cure and that are likely to spread because of inadequate medical facilities and cultural attitudes. Those are the judgments of Russian and international medical specialists and the case histories of individuals suffering from both kinds of TB in Russia today, according to a review of their latest findings by Moscow journalist Olga Zvonaryeva on the Takiye Dela portal (takiedela.ru/2017/11/medicina/). Tuberculosis, one of the top ten leading causes of death in the world, currently takes more lives than does HIV/AIDS, she says. According to World Health Organization, some 115,000 Russians became infected in 2015, the last year for which data is available; and in that year, 16,500 Russians died of the disease. (Russian figures are slightly lower.) This is a real tragedy because as the WHO points out, tuberculosis is both avoidable and curable. But because it is, many have been lulled into “a false sense of security” and thus allowed conditions and practices to develop in such a way that new outbreaks and the rise of anti-biotic resistant strains have been able to occur. Experts suggest that in Russia as in the other countries with the most tuberculosis cases, just under half are now antibiotic resistant and therefore far more difficult to cure. In Russia, their number increased after 1991 when the Soviet system of hospitalizing TB patients for the entire term of their treatment ended. In post-Soviet times, those with tuberculosis were allowed to self-medicate which often meant they didn’t take the medicines they were supposed to or couldn’t afford them even if they wanted to do so. That and increasing poverty meant that ever more Russians had the anti-biotic resistant form. Between 1991 and 2000, the number of cases almost trebled, from 34 per 100,000 population to 90.6 cases per 100,000. Many of these cases were among the poor: in figures for 2010, Zvonaryeva continues, the rate of TB infection among the unemployed was 850 per 100,000, 22 times that of those with jobs. And those who were incarcerated had even worse figures. In 1999, 4347 prisoners per 100,000 incarcerated had tuberculosis. But by 2014, that number had fallen to 984 per 100,000, still greater than among the poor but a significant improvement nonetheless. In the last decade, the journalist continues, tuberculosis rates have gone up in some places because of HIV infections and narcotics use. Indeed, there is a symbiosis among these three plagues, although most Russian efforts directed at treatment tend to focus on one or the other rather than to approach them systematically. But the biggest problem by far is the spread of antibiotic resistant strains to as many as 5.2 per 100,000 according to official data and probably twice that number according to medical experts, the journalist says. To address this plague, Zvonaryeva says, Russia must restore social medicine and address underlying poverty and incarceration. At the same time, she concludes, there are three things that Russia should not do if it wants to have success. First, it should not incarcerate drug abusers but treat them. Second, it should not assume it can counter the HIV/AIDS epidemic by an appeal to traditional values and abstinence alone. And third, the society must not assume that it can address the problem by incarcerating those most likely to have the disease. Otherwise, when convicts are released, they will spread the problem more widely into society. Further, the prisons must improve treatment facilities, and the society must address poverty and access to quality medical care.

The Daily Vertical: Another Day, Another $95,000 (Transcript)

OK, so here are some data points I plucked out of the Russian media this past week. According to a report in Vedomosti, one in six working Russians — approximately 12 million people — are unable to provide basic needs for their families. And according to the same report, approximately 22 million Russians are earning less than the official living wage of 10,000 rubles — or $172 — per month. That’s a 2 million person increase since last year. WATCH Today’s Daily Vertical And now for a point of contrast, according to a report on Dozhd-TV, a man by the name of Mikhail Shelomov, who just so happens to be the son of Vladimir Putin’s cousin, earned 5.59 million rubles — or $95,000 — a day last year. According to the report, Shelomov’s income comes from owning a 99.9 percent stake in three companies that just happen to do a lot of business with the state. According to a recent report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Shelomov is worth an estimated $573 million. So less than $172 a month. And $95,000 a day. These two figures go a long way toward explaining why things like Aleksei Navalny’s anticorruption investigations and videos are going viral and increasingly resonating with the public. Now Russians, of course, are not naive. They’ve long known how corrupt their leaders are. But when living standards were rising, as they were for Putin’s first two terms in the Kremlin, they tended to give their rulers a free pass. But when living standards are falling, not so much.

Christian terrorism wasn’t enough hype to beat Disney at Russia’s box office — Meduza

Despite all the controversy surrounding its release, the historical drama film “Matilda” failed to top the box office on its opening weekend, coming in second to the Disney-produced fantasy motion picture “The Last Warrior” (Poslednii Bogatyr).

Media Watchdog Urges Release Of Jailed Russian Editor

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Russia to release the editor of a newspaper in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and investigate allegations that he was beaten while being …

Conflict Mounts Between Russian State Media, Ekho Moskvy After Journalist’s Near-Fatal Stabbing

A feud between an opposition-minded Russian radio station and state-controlled TV is escalating over the near-fatal stabbing of journalist Tatyana Felgengauer.

Ekho Moskvy Chief Says Another Reporter Flees Russia Due To Threats

The top editor of the influential Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy has said that one of his leading producers fled the country out of concern for her safety.

The Story of How a Girl Beat a Killer (Op-ed)

Because when you are a fighter and when there are people ready to fight for you, then the story has a happy ending

Colleagues Say Russian Editor Beaten As Police Raid Newspaper Office

Russian media reports say that security forces stormed the office of a newspaper in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and detained the editor in chief, who colleagues said was severely beaten.

Moscow Police Hold Navalny Aide Lyaskin Without Explanation

Aleksei Navalny’s presidential campaign chief in Moscow, Nikolai Lyaskin, was held for several hours by police without explanation on October 31.

The Morning Vertical, October 30, 2017

Vladimir Putin’s scheduled appearance at today’s unveiling of The Wall of Sorrow, a new monument to the victims of Soviet-era repression, is a classic case of Kremlin information management. By attending the ceremony and acknowledging Soviet-era crimes, Putin is implicitly claiming that Russia under his rule is free from repression. Putin’s attendance comes as Russian prosecutors broadly interpret laws prohibiting “extremism” and “separatism” to imprison citizens for expressing opinions — or even liking or sharing opinions on social media — that the Kremlin finds distasteful. It comes amid a wave of assaults by pro-Kremlin vigilante groups against opposition figures. It comes as journalists are fleeing the country fearing for their safety. And it comes after Putin has repeatedly defended Stalin, most recently in June when he warned against the “excessive demonization” of the Soviet dictator. A group of Soviet-era dissidents have published a letter (featured below) accusing the Kremlin of hypocrisy for commemorating victims of Soviet repression while engaging in repression themselves. On this week’s Power Vertical Briefing (featured below), we look at the controversy surrounding the new monument, so be sure to tune in.

Putin takes part in Russian military drills, fires missiles

President Vladimir Putin has taken part in major military drills of Russian nuclear forces and personally directed the test-firing of four intercontinental ballistic missiles as part of the exercises, the Kremlin said Friday.

Russian Teacher Faces Second Trial For Poetry Praising Ukraine

A former teacher of German in Russia’s Oryol region who was fired from his job and convicted of inciting ethnic hatred for writing a pro-Ukraine poem says he now faces a new trial over a separate p…

Russian Pollster Says Rights Court Accepts Its Suit Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Status

A lawyer for the independent Russian opinion polling agency Levada Center says that the European Court of Human Rights has accepted its lawsuit against the Russian government’s move to label it a foreign agent.

Moscow Theater Director Ordered Under House Arrest In Serebrennikov Case

The head of a Moscow theater has been placed under house arrest in connection with a politically charged fraud case involving another prominent Russian director.

UAWire – Russian Gazprom shows loss for first time in 19 years

For the first time in 19 years, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has shown a net loss for a total of nine months straight. According to …

Protesters In Siberia Demand Resignation Of Veteran Kemerovo Governor

A small group of protesters from Russia’s Kemerovo region in Siberia rallied in the capital of the neighboring Novosibirsk region on November 3, demanding the resignation of longtime Kemerovo gover…

Pop Singer Bakayev Feared Killed In Chechen Crackdown On Gays

A leading Russian human rights group has “serious fears” that a gay pop star who disappeared after going home to Chechnya may have been killed in Grozny’s crackdown on homosexuals.

Chechen Leader Kadyrov Calls For Lenin’s Body To Be Buried

The leader of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has called for the body of the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, to be removed from the Mausoleum on Moscow’s Re…

Karachais In Russia’s North Caucasus Mark 74th Anniversary Of Deportations

Karachais in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Karachayevo-Cherkesia have marked the 74th anniversary of their mass deportation to Central Asia by Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Cheated Homeowners’ Hunger Strike In Bashkortostan Enters 12th Day

A hunger strike by nine people from Russia’s southern Republic of Bashkortostan who paid for new apartments that were never delivered has entered its 12th day.

Missing Russian helicopter found in Norway Arctic sea – BBC News

Wreckage is located by Norwegian authorities after the helicopter crashed in the sea off Svalbard.

Russian Rescue Team Arrives In Svalbard As Hopes For Crew Fade

A Russian plane dispatched by the Emergency Situations Ministry has arrived in Norway with a rescue team to aid efforts to recover the crew and passengers of a Russian Mi-8 helicopter that disappea…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Kazakh Alphabet Escapes Russian Orbit but Fails to Move into a Common Turkic One

Paul Goble Staunton, October 28 — Nursultan Nazarbayev has ordered his country to shift from the Cyrillic to the Latin script, but instead of choosing one that would link Kazakhstan more closely to the Turkic world, the president has selected a Latin script that fails to do that and may face problems of acceptance much as has been the case in Uzbekistan, according to Amir Eyvaz. The Azerbaijani philologist says that Nazarbayev has chosen a Latin script resembling the one in Uzbekistan but with even more problems: The Uzbek Latin script adds apostrophes in the case of three Latin letters to designate specific sounds, while the proposed Kazakh Latin one adds an apostrophe to nine (turantoday.com/2017/10/latin-alphabet-kazakhstan.html). These apostrophes can be a problem, Eyvaz says. In Uzbekistan, their appearance has led many to continue to use Cyrillic letters instead of these apostrophe ones, thus undercutting the shift from Cyrillic to Latin. And texts in the new Kazakh Latin script with nine will look even more choppy and less attractive. Indeed, the Baku scholar argues, Nazarbayev’s Latin script is “the very worst that could be thought up” both because of these problems and because it ignores both the history of the Latin alphabet in Turkic languages and the role such a script, if sufficiently common, could play in uniting the Turkic world. “The Latin script is not something alien for Turkic languages,” Ayvaz says. There was a 14th century manuscript in it, and since the end of the 19th century, various reformers have been pushing for a shift away first from Arabic and then from Cyrillic scripts to a common Latin alphabet. A common Turkic Latin script was developed in the early 1920s and used by all the Turkic peoples of the Soviet Union until the 1940s when they were forced to drop it and go over to Cyrillic alphabets instead. After 1991, the drive to shift to the Latin script resumed, first in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan which adopted the pre-war script as the basis of their new ones. Uzbekistan and now Kazakhstan have done so but as noted with modifications and without umlauts. Significantly, informally at least up to now, Tatarstan and the Crimean tatars have moved toward the common Latin script of the Turkic world. And many had hoped for different outcomes in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. “Alas,” Eyvaz says, “this didn’t happen, and when such a chance [for the elaboration of a common Turkic Latin script that will link the Turkic world from Anatolia through the Caucasus to Turkestan] will appear again is unknown.” The situation may not be quite as bleak as the Azerbaijani scholar suggests. Other scholars have pointed out that Turkic peoples who have gone over to the Latin script have evolved their writing systems over time. Consequently, it is possible that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will also move in that direction in the future (caa-network.org/archives/10607).

Bruce ‘Burhan Beg,’ The Central Asian

I don’t use Qishloq Ovozi to tell stories about my time in Central Asia, but in the aftermath of this week’s tragic attack in New York City, a city I lived in, I’m going to now. (The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.)

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway Line Officially Launched

Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey have launched a rail link connecting the three countries, establishing a freight and passenger link between Europe and China that bypasses Russia and Armenia.

Azerbaijan Hits Armenian Missile System In Nagorno-Karabakh

The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan says it has destroyed an Armenian air defense missile system in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Report: Rafael’s Spike Missile Used by Azerbaijan on Armenian Tanks | Israel Defense


Belarus Reports


UAWire – Putin signs decree on unified air defense system with Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratified the protocol to the agreement on joint protection of the airspace of the external border of the …

Belarusian, Ukrainian Presidents Discuss Ties In Abu Dhabi

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for talks in the United Arab Emirates.

Jailed Belarusian Opposition Leader Statkevich Gets Additional 10 Days In Prison

Incarcerated Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich had his arrest prolonged to 10 more days, his wife says.

Belarusian Opposition Leader Statkevich Detained For Sixth Time In 2017

Prominent Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich has been detained in Minsk, his wife says.

Riots Begin In Belarusian Agro-Towns – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Workers of one of the agro-towns receive $ 25 each, those disagreeing are made “parasites.”

10 Belarusian Soldiers Charged Over Death Of Conscript Who Complained Of Hazing

Investigators in Belarus say 10 servicemen have been charged in connection with the death of a private who was found hanged after complaining that he had been hazed and pressured for money by super…

Videofact: Policeman Gruesomely Kicked Kitten In Street In Polatsk – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Animal rights activists are going to sue this man.


Transnistria / Moldova Reports


Moldova’s Top Court Endorses Proposal To Switch Official Language To ‘Romanian’ In Constitution

Moldova’s Constitutional Court has endorsed a draft amendment to the constitution to change the official name of the country’s language from Moldovan to Romanian.

UAWire – Moldovan Constitutional Court allowed state language change to Romanian

The Constitutional Court of Moldova recognizes the Liberal-Democratic Party’s alleal to change the country’s official language from Moldovan to …

Former Romanian President Becomes Moldovan Citizen, Pushes EU Ties

The former president of Romania became a Moldovan citizen on November 3 and said he may get politically involved there.


Ukraine Reports


Russian journalist: Major war in Ukraine one of most likely scenarios | UNIAN

Russian journalist Babchenko: Major war in Ukraine one of most likely scenarios. View news feed in war news for 02 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Ukraine to get from U.S. more powerful systems of e-warfare, counter-battery radars – Poroshenko | UNIAN

Ukraine to get from U.S. more powerful systems of e-warfare, counter-battery radars – Poroshenko. Current news and events for 03 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Granting lethal weapons to Ukraine being actively discussed, US Special Envoy to Ukraine Volker says

30.10.17 13:38 – Granting lethal weapons to Ukraine being actively discussed, US Special Envoy to Ukraine Volker says U.S. Envoy on Ukraine Conflict Kurt Volker said Saturday in Kyiv that the release of the Crimean Tatar activists by the Russian authorities might indicate Moscow’s willingness to make steps in resolving the conflict in Ukraine’s east. View news.

Trump could be offered $47 million option to arm Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists – ABC News

Trump could be offered option to approve a $47 million grant for Ukrainian defense

ABC News: Trump could be offered $47 mln option to arm Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists | UNIAN

ABC News: Trump could be offered $47 mln option to arm Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists. Current news and events for 04 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Volker to meet Surkov on November 13 in Belgrade, – 112.international

Deployment of UN peacekeepers in Donbas is to be discussed, – 112

Between Kyiv and Moscow: Volker’s negotiations with Ukrainian authorities – 112 International – Between Kyiv and Moscow: Volker’s negotiations with Ukrainian authorities – 112.international

After a visit to Kyiv, Kurt Volker leaves for Moscow, apparently to inform on the results of the negotiations with the Ukrainian authorities.

Poroshenko, Volker coordinate further steps on strengthening int’l presence in Donbas

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday held a meeting with U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker, during which the Ukrainian president expressed gratitude to the U.S. special envoy for the efforts aimed to restore peace and stability in Donbas and terminate Russian aggression against Ukraine, the president’s press service reported. News 28 October from UNIAN.

Poroshenko, Volker discuss settlement of Donbas conflict – 112.international

Ukrainian MPs discuss a number of issues with Volker, – Hopko – 112.international

Volker on Russian peacekeepers in Donbas: “I can’t imagine it” | UNIAN

Volker on Russian peacekeepers in Donbas: “I can’t imagine it”. View news feed in news about politics for 28 October from UNIAN Information Agency

In Kyiv, U.S. Envoy Meets Freed Tatar Leaders, Ukrainian Leaders

Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, has met with Crimean Tatar leaders Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz, who were released from custody in their Ru…

Russia calls Volker’s statement on peacekeepers an attempt to jeopardize Minsk agreements, -112 – Russia calls Volker’s statement on peacekeepers an attempt to jeopardize Minsk agreements – 112.international

Less Than Half of Russians Surveyed Back Kremlin Support for Ukraine Separatists – To Inform is to Influence

In a marked departure from blindly supporting the ‘party line’ in Russia, a Levada poll reveals that only 41% of Russians support the Russian-backed “separatists” in East Ukraine.  This indicates the Russian people do not support the effort to destabilize Ukraine. Perhaps they do not consider it best for “Russian national interests”.   This is the first time I have seen…

“Russian aggression only increasing”: Parubiy tells Volker about Ukraine’s losses in Donbas | UNIAN

“Russian aggression only increasing”: Parubiy tells Volker about Ukraine’s losses in Donbas. Current news and events for 27 October from UNIAN Information Agency

UAWire – US Representative for Ukraine Volker: Russia must withdraw its forces before UN peacekeepers enter Donbas

Russia must withdraw its forces so that the UN peacekeeping mission can start its work in the Donbas, and Ukraine must coordinate with the UN, …

UAWire – LPR and DPR declare that UN peacekeepers will not be allowed into the Donbas without their permission

Representatives of the so-called LPR and DPR, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deynego, have reacted to statements by the US Department of State’s …

If Ukraine joins NATO on Monday, on Tuesday, the Alliance will be forced to intervene in conflicts in the Donbass and Crimea, – the former US ambassador to Ukraine Pifer

Ukraine can not count on an immediate accession to NATO due to the ongoing military conflict in the Donbass and Russia’s presence in the Crimea. Speaking at the forum “Kyiv Transatlantic Dialogues”, the former US Ambassador to Ukraine Stephen Pifer, director of the Brookings Institution for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, said this. “It is very important that there are no illusions in Ukraine. If Ukraine joins NATO on Monday, on Tuesday NATO will be forced to intervene in conflicts in the Donbass and Crimea. Therefore, now Ukraine can not join NATO, “he noted. Pifer said that he had discussed with the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities national programs on Ukraine’s accession to NATO. “Ukraine needs to do more practical steps. Do not exceed your expectations, concentrate on concrete practical actions, “the diplomat advised. Ukraine has intensified cooperation with NATO in 2014 against the annexation of the Crimea by Russia and armed conflict in the Donbass. At the end of 2014, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law that implies Ukraine’s refusal to pursue a “non-alignment” policy. In June 2017, the parliament supported a law confirming Ukraine’s intention to join NATO.

Russian-Hungarian slap in the face of the EU and NATO. How long will the Allies remain silent | UNIAN

By blocking the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission at the level of foreign ministers, which could take place this December, Hungary has gone pretty far. Budapest’s behavior has become provocative; it was a frank slap in the face of the Allies simply because the Bloc was confronted so bluntly. Ahead of the relevant statement by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, I happened to be visiting NATO headquarters. When I asked my contacts whether the Alliance knows anything aware of the blocking, I heard an honest “Nothing.” And the next day came that loud statement by the Hungarian side. At the same time, NATO is trying diligently to save face, convincing everyone that such a meeting was never scheduled. It’s true, too. In fact, the Alliance is right on this. But at the same time, they don’t elaborate. The thing is that the coordination of the agenda is still ongoing. As of today, there is no and there cannot be an approved agenda which would say that here, in December, we’ll have a meeting with Ukraine. Budapest took a position, according to which there will be no NATO meetings with Kyiv, except those at the ambassadorial level. And there will be no summit in July, either. The country’s leadership should understand this. Anyway, Budapest, being a NATO and EU member state, took advantage of its right of strong in relation to Kyiv. It cannot be ruled out that Hungary will also block all existing programs within the framework of bilateral cooperation. We are talking about no less than the whole comprehensive assistance package approved at the Warsaw summit. Is it beneficial for the Alliance?

“Blocked” by Hungary NATO-Ukraine Commission wasn’t planned in first place, – media, – 112 – “Blocked” by Hungary NATO-Ukraine Commission wasn’t planned in first place, – media – 112.international

UAWire – Hungary blocked the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission

The meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which was to be held in December, was blocked by Hungary, as stated by the Minister of Foreign …

Ukrainians’ attitude towards Russia worsens, 49% want closed borders, – poll – Ukrainians think worse about Russia, 49% want closed borders, – poll – 112.international

At the same time, experts note that attitude of Ukrainians to Russia since 2008 remains better than attitude of Russians to Ukraine

UAWire – Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine: those responsible for the series of brazen terrorist acts that shocked Ukraine will be soon found

The organization of a number of high-profile terrorist attacks in Ukraine was carried out by special centers created in the DPR (Donetsk People’ …

UAWire – Following assassination of Amina Okueva Ukraine will strengthen control at its borders with Russia

The SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), the National Police, and the State Border Service have been instructed to strengthen the anti-terrorist …

Wife of Chechen volunteer soldier accused of Vladimir Putin assassination plot murdered in Ukraine | The Independent

The Ukrainian wife of a Chechen man accused by Russia of plotting to kill President Vladimir Putin was shot dead outside Kiev in an attack that also wounded her husband, Ukrainian interior ministry officials said.

Volunteer Mariya Berlinska’s outraged cry: “And when they come for us… -Euromaidan Press

Mariya Berlinska The recent assassination of Chechen sniper Amina Okueva in Kyiv is proof that Ukrainian volunteers are in danger, and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) cannot provide them with security or guarantees, claims Mariya Berlinska, head of the volunteer organization – Centre for the Support of Aerial Reconnaissance, and aerial reconnaissance specialist in the war zone (ATO).

Russian saboteurs: MP Herashchenko shows Russian agent committing arson attack on Ukrainian lawmaker’s car. VIDEO  « Video news | EN.Censor.net

03.11.17 18:24 – MP Herashchenko shows Russian agent committing arson attack on Ukrainian lawmaker’s car. VIDEO A Member of Ukrainian Parliament Anton Herashchenko published surveillance camera footage of arson attack on the car owned by one of MPs. The attack was committed by the Russian secret services agent. View video news.

City Council Member Found Dead With Broken Skull In Eastern Ukraine, Murder Probe Launched

Police in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine have launched a murder investigation after a city council member in the government-held Luhansk region city of Syevyerodonetsk was found dead, his skull broken.

UAWire – Media: Abduction of Ukrainian border guards planned by Russians for two months

The abduction of Ukrainian border guards was a Russian special operation, the Russians’ relevant conversations were recorded over the course of …

UAWire – Media: Russia preparing new ambushes on Ukrainian border guards

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) is preparing new ambushes on the border with Ukraine with the intent to capture Ukrainian border …

Ukraine in TCG concerned over Putin’s unwillingness to let Kyiv govern uncontrolled part of border – 112.international

Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas has raised the question of creating a new working subgroup on the uncontrolled by the Ukrainian authorities part of the Ukraine-Russia border, and phrased its concern over Vladimir Putin’s unwillingness to let Kyiv control this part of the border, according to press secretary of Ukraine’s representative in the TCG Darka Olifer on Facebook.

UAWire – Zakharchenko says DPR no longer wants to join Russia

Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist in eastern Ukraine and the head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic …

Ukraine names over 150 mercenaries from “Putin’s private army” fighting in Ukraine and Syria -Euromaidan Press |

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has named over 150 mercenaries from the “Wagner” private military company (PMC) from Russia, as well as presented intercepts they allege prove the group’s connection to the Russian army and involvement in key battles in Donbas. The PMC took an active part in combat actions against Ukrainian armed forces in the eastern Ukraine in 2014-2015 and is currently fighting on the ground in Syria with pro-Assad forces.

Ukrainians serving in Wagner group are now fighting in occupied Donbas or Syria – Ukrainians serving in Wagner group now fight in occupied Donbas or Syria – 112.international

Security Service reported on 40 citizens of Ukraine, fighting in the Donbas as part of a Russian private military company

Ukraine intel has footage proving Russia’s “Wagner” mercenaries’ took part in seizure of Luhansk airport | UNIAN

Ukraine intel has footage proving Russia’s “Wagner” mercenaries’ took part in seizure of Luhansk airport. Current news and events for 02 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Sergy Kyslytsia claimed that Russia enlists the teenagers in Donbas for the participation in the war – 112.international

Russia enlists teenagers in Donbas for war participation, Ukraine representative in UN

Military gambles of Russian occupation troops are doomed, – Turchynov in ATO area. PHOTOS

27.10.17 16:40 – Military gambles of Russian occupation troops are doomed, – Turchynov in ATO area. PHOTOS … View photo news.

UAWire – Ukrainian Military Command: Security of arms depots, bases, warehouses and other military units has been strengthened

The security of important military facilities in Ukraine, such as arms depots, bases, warehouses, and other military units have been …

Since 2014, number of non-combat losses of Ukraine is 10 thousand servicemen – 112.international

More than 10 thousand Ukrainian servicemen since 2014 died not in hostilities

Militants launched 29 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 04.11.2017 11:01 — Ukrinform News

Russian-backed militants launched 29 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas in last day.

OSCE monitors report about 50 T-72 tanks outside Russian-occupied Donetsk | UNIAN

OSCE monitors report about 50 T-72 tanks outside Russian-occupied Donetsk. View news feed in war news for 01 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Russia delivers arsenal of heavy weapons to occupied Donbas – Ukraine Def. Ministry | UNIAN

Russia delivers arsenal of heavy weapons to occupied Donbas – Ukraine Def. Ministry. Current news and events for 30 October from UNIAN Information Agency

Russian “siloviki” oversee power vertical of occupied Donbas -Euromaidan Press |

Russia controls the situation in its proxy state in eastern Ukraine, the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DNR”) via Russian-established law enforcement agencies, or siloviki, which are at the top of the pyramid of power in occupied Donetsk. Their real controlling functions are mostly kept under the radar. However, the law enforcers keep control of the entire situation and clamp down on any opposition to the established order. The law enforcement agencies include a local army, special service, police, courts, prosecutor’s office and other agencies. This is one of the points made in the article by Euromaidan Press “Who is who in the Kremlin proxy “Donetsk People’s Republic,” which outlines the major influential groups in the “DNR” and the mechanisms of the external Russian control of the occupied region.

“LNR” admits to threat of rebellion due to high unemployment in occupied Luhansk -Euromaidan Press |

Andriy Dikhtyarenko “The factories have stopped functioning, all the equipment has been stolen and exported, corruption and theft are flourishing. The people are desperate and ready to protest in the streets.” This is a direct quote from an open statement by “LNR” authorities on the difficult situation in the city of Alchevsk. The illegal “LNR” authorities now admit that there is a serious problem due to high unemployment in the occupied territory. However, are Luhansk residents ready to organize rallies and protests after being bullied and brainwashed for three years? Occupied Alchevsk used to be the industrial centre of Luhansk Oblast, but is now almost totally abandoned by industries. The Metallurgical Plant and the Alchevsk Coke and Chemical Plant have been nationalized by the terrorists. Factories no longer release smoke into the air, and lazy cattle graze on their territories.

UAWire – DPR claims to have trade with Spain, Italy and France

In an interview with the Union TV channel, Minister of Revenues and Duties of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Aleksandr Timofeev …

Separatism is dangerous to your health!

A series of posters in the style of ping-up from Ukrainian illustrator and director Svyatoslav Paschuk.

Ukrainian Air Force: Fingers Nosedive

Special Operations Forces: Fatal Attraction

The Ukrainian documentary ‘Air Defenders’ won the VIII Warsaw Festival of the air films FlyFilmFestival – Ukrainian film about downed plane with paratroopers won Warsaw FlyFilmFestival – 112.international

Ukrainian film about downed plane with paratroopers won Warsaw FlyFilmFestival

Ukraine’s Armed Forces says 90% of planned annual voluntary enlistment achieved – 112.international

Over 30.000 citizens were willing to sign a contract for service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, – 112

UAWire – Ukraine begins tests of medium range anti-air missiles in Kherson region

Flight tests of medium-range anti-aircraft missiles began in the Kherson region, as posted on Facebook by the General Staff of the Armed Forces …

PHOTOS ATTACHED

President: Army receives more than 600 artillery units this year – 03.11.2017 15:48 — Ukrinform News

This year, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have received more than 600 missile armament units and over 250 units of night vision devices.

UkrOboronProm unveils modernized “Verba” multiple launch rocket system | Defence Blog

The “Kharkiv Morozov Machine-Building Design Bureau”, which is part of the State Concern “UkrOboronProm”, has unveiled an updated version of the BM-21 “Grad” Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) during the visit of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in the village of Divychky of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky district of Kyiv region on Friday on the occasion of the Day of Missile Forces and Artillery. The new multiple launch rocket system, called the Verba, is a new generation of the famous Soviet-made BM-21 Grad. The modernized system launchers are mounted on KrAZ-6322–010 truck chassis instead of the more usual Soviet-made Ural chassis. Major improvements of new MLRS include the launchers with the 5-seated cabin, mechanized reload system, fire control and aiming are performed automatically from the cabin. The gross weight of the new Verba multiple launch rocket system reaches almost 20 tons. It is capable of sustained speeds of 85 km/h on level roads and has 1300 km tactical cruising range. Verba possesses greater power, greater acceleration, and an advanced suspension. Verba MLRS, Photo source ukroboronprom.com.ua

Fire Unit

Transporter / Transloader

Antonov warns of sanctions for failure of An-124 Ruslan contract with Russia | UNIAN

Antonov warns of sanctions for failure of An-124 Ruslan contract with Russia. View news feed in news about economy for 03 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Turchynov discusses with group of strategic advisers from NATO member countries cooperation in security and defense sector – 03.11.2017 10:42 — Ukrinform News

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov met with a group of foreign strategic advisers from NATO member countries.

Odesa prosecutors detain acting commander of military unit who ignored its takeover – Odesa prosecutors arrest acting commander of military unit who ignored its takeover – 112.international

Law enforcers also detained a contractor, who, being appointed to the daily duty at the aviation equipment storage, violated the statutory rules of patrolling and did not take measures to stop titushky

Ukrainian paratroopers say goodbye to post-Soviet insignia – Ukrainian paratroopers to have maroon berets, new insignia – 112.international

The other elements of the uniform will also change

Командування Високомобільних десантних військ Збройних Сил України – Posts

Командування Високомобільних десантних військ Збройних Сил України. 3,321 likes · 685 talking about this. ВДВ ЗС України — це окремий рід військ,…

Canada’s defense minister sporting “vyshyvanka” tweets in Ukrainian | UNIAN

Canada’s defense minister sporting “vyshyvanka” tweets in Ukrainian. View news feed in news about politics for 02 November from UNIAN Information Agency

Poroshenko honors deceased on 73rd anniversary of Ukraine’s liberation from Nazis

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko together with the veterans of the World War II and the ATO veterans have honored the deceased on the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazis. The ceremony took place in the Park of Eternal Glory, Kyiv, the president’s press service has reported. News 28 October from UNIAN.

Poland–Ukraine relations: The ball is in your court – New Eastern Europe

Poland and Ukraine have recently been falling apart and it is clear that the undisputed friendship from the EuroMaidan days has been stalled.

Marshall Plan for Ukraine has clearer shape, is to be presented in Lithuania November 6 – 112.international

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze says the project will be presented in the Lithuanian Seimas for Ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, Japan, and the EU countries

UAWire – Politician: Only a fraction of the money stolen by Yanukovych was returned to the Ukrainian budget

The billions that Yanukovych obtained by corruption were invested in domestic government bonds. The story of the bonds did not end with …

Pragmatism Prevails over Populism in Ukraine

Successful politics is about getting things done. By that standard, October was a successful month. Not only did the government pass sweeping healthcare reform, pension reform, and judiciary reform, it also staved off populist protests. In short, pragmatism prevailed over populism. Each of the reforms passed was significant, but healthcare reform was the most far-reaching. This legislation will provide state insurance for all citizens and free medicine to those with chronic diseases; it also promotes the prevention of disease through healthy lifestyles, grants subsidies for internally displaced persons due to the war in the Donbas, and establishes patient-doctor contracts. The overall effect will be substantial: patients will receive better healthcare, the state will provide a safety net, and medical professionals will be able to earn a normal salary based on the number of patients they treat rather than receive a fixed subsistence salary from the state. Pension reform creates an understandable and transparent system to allow workers to “catch up” after years of not paying into the system; more important, it raises pensions in the short term. Critically, the passage of pension reform is a key requirement for Ukraine to receive the next tranche from the International Monetary Fund. Judicial reform is more technical in nature, but ultimately, the legislation makes the Supreme Court the venue for appeals, modernizes the system through the adoption of e-governance, and increases the role of official court fees in financing the system. Were the reforms perfect? No, but they will positively and concretely improve the lives of ordinary Ukrainians. Were compromises made to achieve passage of the reforms? Yes, but pragmatic leaders know the importance of winning a partial battle today to achieve a full victory tomorrow. Persuading Ukraine’s parliament to pass any substantive legislation is a herculean task. Yet the government was able to assemble 288 votes for pension reform, 242 for healthcare reform, and 234 for judicial reform—in each case, considerably above the required minimum of 226 votes. The governing coalition consisting of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, the People’s Front, and some independent MPs consistently voted in favor of the reforms, but those factions lack the 226 votes needed for passage by themselves. Each time, the government was able to find situational partners. On pension and healthcare reform, Samopomich, Radical Party, and People’s Will factions provided key votes to achieve a majority. On judicial reform, the needed votes came from Renaissance, People’s Will, and—surprisingly—the Opposition Bloc. A total of twenty out of forty-three MPs from the Opposition Bloc faction provided the margin of victory for judicial reform. In contrast, populists like Mikheil Saakashvili and Yulia Tymoshenko’s party protested outside of parliament during the adoption of healthcare reform. They demanded the establishment of an anticorruption court, a new electoral code, and the elimination of parliamentary immunity, but primarily they desired power for themselves. Thus, they seized on the issue of eliminating parliamentary immunity, which has long been a political ploy for Ukrainian politicians. Our Ukraine used the issue effectively in the 2007 parliamentary elections to win seats in parliament, but was then unable to deliver on the promise to abolish it. As a result, the public remains cynical that immunity will ever be abolished. In the end, parliament voted to send the draft law to the Constitutional Court for an opinion, a typical way to postpone the issue indefinitely. Protestors also pushed for electoral reform. But rather than advocate genuine reform that would make Ukraine’s electoral system more democratic and transparent, they attempted to pass legislation that is in their personal political interests, proposing the installation of a system that would favor their own political party. For example, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose faction voted against healthcare, pension, and judicial reform, pushed for a bastardized “open list” election system that would strengthen the power of political party bosses at the expense of the people. Not surprisingly, these ploys failed to gather support in parliament—and have limited appeal with the public. Now Ukraine’s parliament can begin debate on a coherent electoral system that protects geographic boundaries while diluting the power of the party bosses. Adjusting the current fifty-fifty system from a closed party list to an open party list system based on European models like Lithuania, while simultaneously maintaining district representation, would be the optimal system if parliament wants to make a change. The most important thing is that the debate on electoral reform is beginning. November is a new month with other challenges, but last month, Ukrainian leaders showed they are capable of delivering concrete, important results to the Ukrainian people.

Kazakh Blogger Who Fled To Kyiv Ordered Held 60 Days Pending Extradition Decision

A Kyiv court has ordered a Kazakh blogger who fled to Ukraine after criticizing President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s government held under arrest for two months as authorities consider handing her over …

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Netherlands: “The outcome of the referendum in the Netherlands showed that they knew little to nothing about us here, while the only things they know are of negative nature like corruption or Chornobyl” | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the Netherlands: “The outcome of the referendum in the Netherlands showed that they knew little to nothing about us here, while the only things they know are of negative nature like corruption or Chornobyl” . News for 01 November from UNIAN

Iryna Gerashchenko: International partners would prefer to criticize Ukraine for corruption or anything else, rather than talk about their commitments (PART I) | UNIAN

Iryna Gerashchenko: International partners would prefer to criticize Ukraine for corruption or anything else, rather than talk about their commitments (PART I). News for 04 August from UNIAN

Iryna Gerashchenko: Many deputies come to Donbas. However, they make a couple of photos and get out of there (PART II) | UNIAN

Iryna Gerashchenko: Many deputies come to Donbas. However, they make a couple of photos and get out of there (PART II). The latest news from UNIAN for 05 August

Police refom has failed in Ukraine – 112 International – Police refom has failed in Ukraine – 112.international

One of the main problems of the new patrolmen is shortage of employees. The patrol police is a symbol of the Ministry of Interior affairs reform. This entirely new unit is embodying the law and is aimed at helping citizens. So it all started a few years ago. The level of trust in new cops was high. There were, of course, some claims. The new police officers were often involved into car accidents, and wrote the protocols for a long time. But everyone believed that the guys need some time to learn. Complaints about the work of the patrols became more and more frequent, the claims were becoming more serious, and as a result, the patrol officers began to irritate with frank lack of action. Perhaps, such disappointment came as a result of euphoria and inflated expectations. Perhaps the system does not break down as quickly as we would like, or maybe this work is not for everyone.

Ukraine Drafts Law to Exempt Crypto Income and Profits from Taxation – Bitcoin News

A bill has been submitted to the Ukrainian parliament to amend the country’s tax code to exempt cryptocurrency income and profits from taxation, including from buying, selling, transacting, and mining.

Saakashvili: Ukrainian Government Must Heed Our Demands

Hundreds of protesters joined a rally organized outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on October 29 by the New Forces Movement, a novice political group led by Mikheil Saakashvili. The former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine’s Odesa Oblast was stripped of Ukrainian citizenship in June 2017 in a move he is currently challenging in court. Saakashvili urged demonstrators to put together a list of demands and called on the Ukrainian government to meet them by November 7. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)

Saakashvili Says Ukrainian Government Must Meet Protesters’ Demands

Hundreds of protesters have joined a rally organized outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv by the Movement of New Forces, the political party led by Mikheil Saakashvili.

Ukraine’s Anticorruption Agency Reportedly Detains Interior Minister’s Son

Reports from Ukraine say anticorruption investigators have detained the son of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

Ukrainian Interior Minister’s Son Released From Detention

A Kyiv court has released the 29-year-old son of Ukraine’s powerful interior minister after his arrest the day before by anticorruption officials on embezzlement charges.

Nature takes over Ukraine’s Chornobyl exclusion zone -Euromaidan Press |

After the explosion at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the first thing to fall under the radioactive cloud was the plant’s neighboring forest. Within minutes of the disaster, the trees turned a rust-red color. The only reminder of the so-called “ginger forest” are small signs. The radiated territory is now covered in new forest growth, as young pine trees take root. The area is being called a unique place for conducting research.

Incredible 150-year-old church paintings discovered in Hopchytsya (photo gallery) -Euromaidan Press |

Hopchytsya is a small village of 1,484 inhabitants located in Pohrebyshchensky Raion, Vinnytsia Oblast. During a survey of the abandoned school attic, village employees stumbled across an amazing find – the remains of paintings of the Holy Trinity Church, which had been destroyed in the 1930s.

A taste of Ukraine’s poetic Renaissance executed by Stalin

British translator and poet Stephen Komarnyckyj has agreed to give Euromaidan Press readers an exclusive peek at his translations of some of the most striking poems by Ukrainian authors from the astonishing cultural renaissance of the USSR’s “Ukrainization” period of the 1920s – early 1930s. Ukraine’s brief period of independence struggles during 1917-1922 created an air of unprecedented freedom, leading to an artistic flourishing which not only managed to compensate for the 300-year long marginalization of Ukraine’s cultural stage, but made the country a hotspot of Europe’s most innovative artistic directions. Only a dozen years later, most representatives of the creative class were brutally executed in Stalin’s Great Purge, with the culmination taking place in 1937. Some have opined that the Communists allowed the brief revival of Ukraine’s national culture only to reveal the gifted representatives of its elite, in order to ease the elimination of potential leaders of the republic that could rise up against the forceful incorporation of the Ukrainian republic into the USSR. Most Ukrainian artists of the following generations would be compelled to sing odes to the Communist leadership. Ukraine continues to reap the consequences of the “Executed Renaissance” to the present day.

Trailer of The Cyborgs movie about Donetsk airport defenders released. Video – 31.10.2017 15:17 — Ukrinform News

The official trailer of The Cyborgs movie, based on a true story about defenders of the Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine, has been released.

CYBORGS | КІБОРГИ | Офіційний трейлер | 2017 – YouTube

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Possible Name Change for Crimea Kyiv’s Response to Ethnic Claims in Western Ukraine, Abulayeva Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 3 – A draft law that would label Crimea not “the Crimean Tatar Autonomous Republic” but rather “the Crimean Tatar Autonomy,” underscoring that the Crimean Tatars are an indigenous people of Ukraine, is Kyiv’s response to Hungarian and Romanian claims in Western Ukraine, Gulnara Abdulayeva says. The Kyiv historian says that originally officials had planned to refer to the autonomous republic, but a decision to change the title of the law and thus of the occupied peninsula reflects other considerations (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2017-11-02/reyting-putina-v-kryimu-upal-lyudi-vspominayut-kak-horosho-jili-v-ukraine—jurnalistka/15295 and turantoday.com/2017/11/crimea-ukraine-autonomy.html). Crimean autonomy has already been declared, she says, “and we know how all this ended. Today, Russia has claims on Crimea even though it does not have any relationship to Crimea whatsoever. [But] Crimea is at the same time connected with the mainland of Ukrinae, and without Ukraine, Crimea can’t live.” What remains an open question, Abdulayeva continues, is whether the measures will garner the 300 votes that it needs for passage. But however that may be, she says, “the Crimean Tatars never will want any separation from Ukraine, as we unfortunately observe in the Transcarpathian Oblast with the Hungarians and Romanians.” She argues that the Hungarians and Romanians cannot aspir to separate from Ukraine for one very simple reason: they already have their own ethnic statehood. But the Crimean Tatars intend to realize their right to self-determination only within the Ukrainian state” becauase “they are an indigenous people of Ukraine and Crimea.”

UAWire – Ukrainian General: Russia sets up its military base in Crimea for an attack on Ukraine

In moving a new weapons to the annexed Crimea, Russia is preparing not for defense, but for an attack on mainland Ukraine, as expressed on Krym …

UAWire – Russian oil company Rosneft freezes oil production in the Black Sea due to sanctions

Russian oil and Gas Company Rosneft has suspended oil exploration and production in the southern corner of the eastern part of the Black Sea due …

UAWire – Dzhemilev: Russia has caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage to Crimea’s ecology

Russia has caused significant damage to the ecology of annexed Crimea, as stated by the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Dzhemilev, …

UAWire – Human rights activist: The drafting of Crimeans into the Russian army is classified as a war crime

In September, the UN reminded Russia through its report that, according to Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying state is …

Crimean Tatar missing since 2014 found dead in occupied Crimea -Euromaidan Press |


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Bin Laden’s Bookshelf

Bin Ladin Bookshelf declassified. In the weeks following the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by United States forces, U.S. Intelligence Community analysts sifted through the recovered digital and hard copy materials in search of clues that would reveal ongoing al-Qa`ida plots, identities and locations of al-Qa`ida personnel, and other information of immediate importance. On May 20, 2015, the ODNI released a sizeable tranche of documents recovered from the compound used to hide Osama bin Laden. On March 1, 2016, the ODNI released a second tranche of material gleaned from the Abbottabad raid. On January 19, 2017, the ODNI released the final tranche of documents. These releases, which followed a rigorous interagency review, align with the President’s call for increased transparency–consistent with national security prerogatives–and the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act, which required the ODNI to conduct a review of the documents for release.

Analysis: CIA releases massive trove of Osama bin Laden’s files | FDD’s Long War Journal

The CIA is releasing hundreds of thousands of documents, images, and computer files recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in

CIA release of bin Laden files renews interest in Iran links | Fox News

The CIA’s release of documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has again raised questions about Iran’s support of the extremist network leading up to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Ash Carter: Behind the Plan to Defeat ISIS – Defense One

To its credit, the Trump administration followed the path we set in the Obama administration.

IS loses Deir al-Zour in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq on same day – BBC News

The group loses Deir al-Zour in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq, in major blow to self-styled caliphate.

Assaults in Syria and Iraq oust IS from border bastions – LA Times

Syrian state media say the army has liberated the eastern city of Deir el-Zour from the Islamic State group.

Territorial losses suffered by Islamic State in Syria, Iraq | Fox News

With new losses, the Islamic State group has been driven from more than 96 percent of the large parts of Iraq and Syria it once held, crushing its goal of establishing a caliphate in the region.

UAWire – Media: Russia will replace top military commander in Syria

The Russian forces in Syria will be commanded by 51-year-old General-Colonel Alexander Zhuravlev, reported news agency RBC, citing one of its …

Syria Is Sliding Towards Partition

On Oct. 24, shortly after the U.S.-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces declared the “total liberation” of Raqqa, capital of the Islamic State’s self-proclaime

Macron Appeals To Putin For Help In Establishing Aid Corridors In Syria

French President Emmanuel Macron has appealed to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for the Kremlin to use its influence to allow the establishment of humanitarian aid corridors in war-torn S…

I was kidnapped and made an Isis sex slave | The Times Magazine | The Times & The Sunday Times

On the morning of August 15, 2014, Nadia Murad, then 21, was summoned to the local school with everyone else from Kocho, a small Yazidi village on the Nineveh P

Burying the dead in Syria’s Yarmouk camp | Palestine News | Al Jazeera

With the camp besieged for years, displaced Palestinians say their only way home is in a coffin.

Syria state TV: Israeli warplanes have struck inside Syria – The Washington Post

Syria’s state TV says that Israeli warplanes launched an attack in central Syria overnight and that Syrian air defenses hit back.

Syria war: Israeli jets ‘strike factory near Homs’ – BBC News

Israel declines to comment on Syrian state media reports that jets attacked an industrial complex.

UAWire – Russian strategic bombers carry out air strikes in Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor

Russian strategic bombers carry out air strikes in Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor Six Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers flew from their …

“Frame” Tehran, factor in Ukraine – LB.ua news portal

“Frame” Tehran, factor in Ukraine. Moscow is actively contributing to efforts to present Iran as a terrorist country and a supplier of weapons and technologies to terrorist organizations and countries under sanctions. Thus, it will be easier for the Kremlin to divert attention from its own case and actions. It will also help it to curb Iran’s ambitions in the Middle East and bring Tehran back to the era of total oil sanctions. First, so that Russian oil companies were not so lonely in the club of rogue states. And, second, in the meantime, Moscow is covertly trying to regain the lost markets. It is interesting that Moscow is likely to find a place for Ukraine as well in this setup. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Israel-Hezbollah war is inevitable, sure to be devastating — defense experts | The Times of Israel

International High Level Military Group paints grim picture of potential conflict between Jewish state, Iran-backed terror group, and what, if anything, can prevent it

Gaza tunnels air strike: Israel-Palestinian tensions at highest since 2014 war | The Independent

Palestinian militant groups have vowed to respond to an Israeli attack on a militant tunnel that killed seven people and injured nine more in the most dramatic ratcheting of tensions between the Gaza Strip and Israel since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

Russia Says May Host Talks To Reform Syria’s Constitution Next Month

Russia’s chief envoy for Syria said Moscow may host talks between Syrian groups next month with the goal of working on a new constitution for the war-battered country.

U.S., Russia Pushing Competing Plans At UN On Syrian Chemical Attacks

The United States and Russia are pushing competing plans at the United Nations to extend the work of a UN investigative body charged with determining who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks…

Kremlin: Syria, Oil High On Putin’s Agenda In Iran

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to discuss the conflict in Syria and energy cooperation with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei when he visits Tehran …

Raqqa After ISIS Still Needs US Help – Defense One

The group’s ultimate defeat is far from assured, and the United States can play a critical role in precluding the emergence of Islamic State 2.0.

Washington Still Doesn’t Understand Iraq – Defense One

The U.S. dream of a democratic and federal Iraq is over. Appointing Iran the next boogeyman won’t help.

Reuters Exclusive: Death certificate offers clues on Russian casualties in Syria

An official document seen by Reuters shows that at least 131 Russian citizens died in Syria in the first nine months of this year, a number that relatives, friends and local officials say included private military contractors. News 28 October from UNIAN.

Iran says supreme leader limiting ballistic missile range – The Washington Post

Iran’s supreme leader has restricted the range of ballistic missiles manufactured in the country to 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), the head of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said Tuesday, which limits their reach to only regional Mideast targets.

Is Iran Really Building a Stealth Fighter (Or a Paper Tiger)? | The National Interest Blog

No, for very obvious reasons.

Rouhani says Iran will continue to produce missiles – TV

Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defence and does not consider that a violation of international accords, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday in a speech broadcast on state television.

UN Nuclear Watchdog Chief In Tehran To Meet With Iranian Officials

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has arrived in Tehran for talks on October 29 with senior Iranian officials, as opposition from the United States threatens to undermine a landmark i…

Iran Says Foiled ‘Illegal Gathering’ At Tomb Of Persian King

Iran says it has foiled an online plan to organize an “illegal gathering” at the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the first king of Persia.

Who’s Afraid Of Cyrus The Great?

Media reports suggest the Iranian authorities are taking steps to prevent citizens from celebrating an ancient king.

Canadian special forces suspend Iraq training mission due to fighting between Iraqis and Kurds | National Post

‘Once more clarity exists regarding the interrelationships of Iraqi security forces, and the key priorities and tasks going forward, the Task Force will resume’

Can Syria’s Kurds avoid their Iraqi brethren’s fate? | Syria News | Al Jazeera

As part of a bid for greater autonomy, Syrian Kurds are voting in local elections, the second in a three-phase process.

Kurds Mark End of an Era as Masoud Barzani Stands Down Over Failed Independence Bid

Barzani has been synonymous with the Kurdish struggle for more than 40 years.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani ‘to resign’ – BBC News

His expected departure comes amid growing fallout from the region’s independence referendum.

We’re Losing Afghanistan By Every Metric That Matters

A new report by a Congressionally mandated watchdog group paints a grim picture of the progress (or lack thereof) in Afghanistan.

What the Attack in New York Revealed About the Islamic State’s Supporters – Defense One

As ISIS loses territory, the greatest danger remains that more competent fighters will return home.

Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s air-defense system may never happen: analysts

While Russia continues to tout the planned sale of its S-400 strategic air-defense system to Turkey, analysts say the deal may fizzle.


DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


Trump unleashes new threat on North Korea in Fox News interview | Fox News

President Trump unleashed new threats on North Korea in an interview on “The Ingraham Angle” Thursday evening.

Four reasons Trump’s Asia trip is so important – The Washington Post

It’s a lot of diplomacy for 11 days

Is the United States Planning to Attack North Korea? | The Nation

Three US aircraft-carrier groups have now converged in the Pacific.

Trouble for the anti-North Korea club | New York Post

The latest challenge for President Trump as he gets set to visit East Asia: Is South Korea going wobbly on us? Visiting Japan, South Korea and China, Trump will…

U.S. Bombers Buzz North Korea as Trump’s Asia Trip Looms – WSJ

Two U.S. B-1B bombers flew near North Korea, provoking anger from Pyongyang ahead of President Donald Trump’s closely watched trip to Asia.

Don’t expect war with North Korea to be gentlemanly | North Korea | Al Jazeera

Current defence systems in place might not be fully effective against a North Korea attack.

What North Korea’s IC May be Whispering to Kim Jong Un About US Intentions | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

As the Trump administration navigates through a series of historically unprecedented North Korean crises, questions abound regarding the specifics of US policy on North Korea. Will the US initiate preventive military action against North Korea? What would be the trigger? When such questions arise, American policymakers turn to the intelligence community (IC) to reduce the uncertainties that surround decision-making.

Camp Humphreys, South Korea: New U.S. base buzzing about North Korea

The U.S. military’s newest and largest overseas base is buzzing about the growing threat from nearby North Korea.

Fake meat, free markets ease North Koreans’ hunger

Woo Yeom

North Korea news: Strange tastes of people in Kim’s homeland revealed | Daily Star

NORTH Koreans’ bizarre tastes have been revealed, shining a light on the food eaten by secretive state’s poverty-stricken people.

North Korea humiliation as ‘foreigners marathon’ falls flat – PHOTOS | World | News | Express.co.uk

NORTH Korea’s attempt to hold a marathon aimed at foreign runners has ended in embarrassment after just 20 took part.

China Border Traders Hit Hard by North Korea Sanctions

Traders are losing money, but China is holding firm, hoping for sign North Korea is yielding

Optimism abounds as Trump heads to Japan but North Korea concerns lie under surface | The Japan Times

U.S. President Donald Trump, one of the most powerful and controversial political players in the world, is coming to Tokyo on Sunday, kicking off a 12-day

Trump Asia visit: As Japan gets ready for Trump, South Korea feels left out – The Washington Post

The U.S. president will spend two days in Tokyo, one in Seoul, reflecting the disparity in his ties with their leaders.

Ivanka Trump, a Media Darling in Japan, Draws Light Turnout in Tokyo – The New York Times

Sparse attendance at a speech by Ms. Trump at a women’s empowerment forum contrasted starkly with the breathless local news coverage of her visit.

Contested islands of East China Sea could provoke superpower conflict | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

For the fishermen who make a living in the far reaches of the East China Sea, Uotsuri Island was the place to go when all else failed. The uninhabited steep

For Families of Japanese Abducted by North Korea, Trump Visit Brings Spotlight – The New York Times

President Trump plans to meet with the family of one of at least 17 people abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and ’80s.


Foreign Policy Reports


Russia looking for ways to spread separatist ‘fever’ in Europe – expert – 03.11.2017 18:24 — Ukrinform News

Russia supports separatist movements in Europe, in particular with the aim of undermining the unity of the United Kingdom, British journalist and publisher Gary Cartwright has said.

Britain Investigating Whether Russia Sought To Influence Brexit Vote

British authorities have begun investigating whether Russia attempted to influence the British vote last year on leaving the European Union, media reported on November 2.

Russian fake news accounts tweeted about Brexit | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

Several Twitter accounts suspended over their ties to a Russian “troll farm” that tried to undermine the US election also tweeted about Brexit, The Times has es

MPs demand Twitter action over Russian interference in UK politics | Technology | The Guardian

Digital, culture, media and sport committee wants to see lists of suspect Russian-related accounts

U.K. Parliamentary Panel Asks Twitter For Data On Accounts Linked To Russia

A parliamentary committee in Britain has asked Twitter for details of accounts linked to Russia, days after counterparts in the United States made similar requests of social media companies.

Twitter asked to hand over evidence of Russian meddling in British politics | Business Insider

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked to provide…

Sir Michael Fallon admits falling short and leaves the job he loved | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

Next February was to be a special month for Sir Michael Fallon. It would mark the moment he became the longest-serving Conservative defence secretary in history

Between Autonomy and Cooperation: The Role of Allies in France’s New Defense Strategy

“We need to find support everywhere we can,” French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly said during a conference at Washington’s Center for Strate

Key Witness Identifies Russian Suspect In Funding Of Alleged Montenegro Coup Plot

Aleksandar Sindjelic, a key witness in the trial of 14 people who allegedly plotted to topple Montenegro’s pro-Western government, has implicated a purported Russian secret-service agent in organiz…

Media elaborate on “Kremlin’s Bulgarian game” – news about politics

Media elaborate on “Kremlin’s Bulgarian game”. View news feed from Ukrainian Independent Information Agency UNIAN – news about politics for 02 November

UAWire – Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria: Russian translator distorted Steinmeier’s words about the annexation of Crimea

Russian translators and the media have distorted the words of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who made a visit this week to Moscow, …

Russia “using Serbia to destroy Europe” – Ukraine Ambassador | UNIAN

Russia “using Serbia to destroy Europe” – Ukraine Ambassador. View news feed in news about politics for 01 November from UNIAN Information Agency

How Russia recruits Serbian mercenaries into the ranks of its fighters in Donbas -Euromaidan Press |

Andriy Stelmakh, Pavlo Kholodov Serbians have descended into the groups of the “LNR” and “DNR.” The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has stated that 300 “soldiers of fortune” from Serbia have fought or continue to fight in Donbas. The SBU has publicized these militants’ surnames and is now awaiting the reaction of its colleagues in the Balkans. Are Serbian law-enforcement agencies gathering a dossier on their own citizens? And how do the Serbs get into the warzone in eastern Ukraine? A recent RFE/RL article, which we have translated investigated. They give their greetings without relinquishing their weapons: “To the Prime Minister and government of Serbia. From your Russian Brothers.” “A big hello to the Prime Minister of Serbia, thank you for all these many fighters, who battle on the side of ‘Novorossiia’,” the militants say as they pose for the camera. Serbian militant Dejan Beric (right) sends his “greetings” to the government of Serbia

The Serbs Fighting For Separatists In Ukraine

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) says there are some 300 Serbs fighting alongside Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. They appear to motivated by a nationalist agenda stressing traditional links between Russia and Serbia. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service/Reuters)

Nine different political forces overcome five percent barrier at the parliamentary elections in Czech Republic – 112.international

Nine different political forces overcome five percent barrier at the parliamentary elections in Czech Republic

How Venezuela Bondholders Finally Ran Out of Time – Bloomberg

President Nicolas Maduro has signaled that his country will seek to restructure its global debt following one final payment by the state oil company PDVSA this week.

Ex-Catalan leader angling to stay out of Spanish justice – The Washington Post

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was a wanted man after Spain issued a European warrant for his arrest — and the main question Saturday was how long he could delay the extradition process in Belgium and stay out of the hands of Spanish justice.

The Latest: Catalan ex-VP: Jail ‘price to pay for liberty’ – The Washington Post

The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local):

Spain’s ham-handed attempts to intimidate Catalonia are feeding a political crisis – LA Times

Spain needs to slow down its efforts to punish and push for peaceful political resolution. A December 21 election could provide it.

The Kremlin’s Catalonian Conundrum

Russia has a Spanish dilemma. The Kremlin has a Catalonian conundrum. Because on one hand, separatism in Europe benefits Vladimir Putin’s regime. It weakens the European Union and NATO; and it divides and distracts the West. But on the other hand, Russia needs to be very careful about alienating Madrid, as Spain has been among a handful of European countries that have called for an easing of sanctions. So how is the Putin regime resolving its Spanish dilemma? How is it handling its Catalonian conundrum? Simple. One Kremlin hand does one thing while another Kremlin hand does another. WATCH Today’s Daily Vertical In its official statements, the Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry have been very careful to describe the events in Spain as an internal matter and not to give anything that looks like support to the Catalan separatists. But at the same time, Russian state-backed media have disseminated reports sympathetic to Catalonian independence. And last week, Dmitry Medoyev, the self-styled foreign minister of the Georgia’s Moscow-backed separatist region South Ossetia, paid a visit to Barcelona, ostensibly to meet Catalan business leaders. According to press reports citing Spanish intelligence officials, Medoyev’s real mission was to establish ties between Russia and a hypothetical independent Catalonia. So Moscow is saying one thing officially and doing something entirely different under the table, through proxies and cutouts — with just enough plausible deniability. It’s a classic Kremlin double game that we’ve all seen before.

Catalan president Puigdemont faces threat of 30‑year prison sentence | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

Spain takes over the running of Catalonia today and prosecutors will file charges of rebellion against the region’s sacked leader after hundreds of thousands of

What Political Science Tells Us About the Risk of Civil War in Spain

As soon as Friday, the Spanish government could take up arms against its own people. The Spanish parliament is set to approve a call by the central governm

Catalonia independence: 300,000 attend Barcelona pro-Spain rally – BBC News

Many of the 300,000 protesters chanted that the sacked Catalan leader should be jailed.

‘Not unrealistic’ for Catalan leader to get asylum in Belgium: minister

Granting Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont political asylum in Belgium would be “not unrealistic” if he asks for it, the Belgian migration minister said, underlining his country’s position as a contrarian voice in the Spanish standoff.

The Latest: March meant to claim streets for all Catalans – The Washington Post

The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local):


Strategy / History / Capability Publications


Interview with Lt Gen (Ret.) David Deptula: Part 3 – Over the Horizon: Online Professional Journal

In an interview, Lt Gen David Deptula (Ret) shares his perspective on current and future challenges for USAF leaders and joint operations.

Military Power Cannot Close the Defense Strategy Gap

As defense debates heat up this season, Washington will confront yet again the basic dilemma of U.S. national security strategy: the strategic insolvency o


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


Seven things you should know about pro-Kremlin disinformation -Euromaidan Press |

Pro-Kremlin disinformation is often spread as the fake news stories via Russian government-controlled news outlets. The message of the disinformation pieces may be worded as “Don’t trust anyone! Especially not your media.” The global goal behind Russian disinformation is challenging democratic values and dividing Europe. The Disinformation Review reveals the seven key points regarding Russian disinformation.

‘Fancy Bear’ Tried To Hack E-Mail Of Ukrainian Making Artillery-Guidance App

An officer who developed an artillery-guidance app used by the Ukrainian military in its fight against Moscow-backed separatists was among the members of Ukraine’s political and military elite targ…

The journalists of the Swedish public TV broadcaster SVT found the hackers who blocked the computers of the users in a few countries – Russian hackers attacked Sweden – 112.international

Russian hackers attacked Sweden

UAWire – Media: Russian mafia carried out cyber-attacks in Sweden

Swedish media recently released a report about hackers who sent millions of e-mails with viruses over several years. Presumably, cyber-criminals …

Russia Field-Tested Hybrid Warfare in Ukraine. Why That Cyberthreat Matters for US.

The threats Ukraine faces are harbingers of things to come for the U.S. and its other allies

Yandex and Google have started deleting websites banned in Russia from their search results — Meduza

The Internet search engines Yandex and Google have started deleting from their search results hyperlinks to websites that have been blocked by the Russian government. The website VC.ru was the first to notice the policy shift, which only affects Internet users in Russia.

Italy to Launch Disinformation Curriculum – To Inform is to Influence

By Coda Staff 26 Oct 2017 Ahead of its 2018 parliamentary elections, Italian secondary schools will incorporate a course on identifying and debunking fake news. The program, with the support of digital tech giants such as Facebook, will launch in 8,000 Italian high schools later this month. Supporters of the initiative hope that it will…

Quantum, darknet could solve energy sector’s cybersecurity problems

Protecting the U.S. energy grid from cyberattack requires the migration to cutting-edge technological tools such as dark fiber and quantum computing.

WannaCry cyberattack on UK health service ‘preventable’

An independent investigation has concluded that the debilitating cyberattack that crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service earlier this year could have been prevented with basic security measures.

Exclusive: Ukraine hit by stealthier phishing attacks during BadRabbit strike

Hackers tried to access confidential data in powerful but stealthy phishing attacks launched in parallel with an eyeball-grabbing ransomware strike called BadRabbit last week, the head of the Ukrainian state cyber police said on Thursday.

Navy enhancing its electronic warfare systems

Engility Corp. has been awarded a modification on a five-year contract to perform EW services for U.S. Navy and Australian aircraft.

Savitri Devi: The mystical fascist being resurrected by the alt-right – BBC News

Savitri Devi, a devotee of Aryanism, once seemed destined to fade into obscurity. Not any more.

Printing, Propaganda, and Public Opinion in the Age of Martin Luther – Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Luther had a notoriously ambivalent attitude towards what was still the new technology of the printing press. He could both praise it as God’s highest act of grace for the proclamation of God’s Word, and condemn it for its unprecedented ability to mangle the same beyond recognition. That ambivalence seems to be reflected in the judgment of modern scholarship. Some have characterized the Reformation as a paradigmatic event in the history of mass communications (a Medien- or Kommunikationsereignis), while others have poured scorn on any reductionist attempt to attribute a complex movement to a technological advance and to posit in effect a doctrine of “Justification by Print Alone.”The evidence in favor of some sort of correlation between the use of printing and the success of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland is certainly formidable. Thousands of German Reformation pamphlets (Flugschriften) survive to this day in research libraries and other collections (with Luther’s own works predominant among them), suggesting that the Holy Roman Empire was once awash with millions of affordable little tracts in the vernacular. Contemporary opponents of the Reformation lamented the potency of cheap print for propaganda and even for agitation among “the people,” and did their best either to beat the evangelical writers through legislation or else to join them by launching their own literary campaigns. But, ubiquitous as the Reformation Flugschrift was for a comparatively short time, the long-term impact of printing on Luther’s Reformation was even more impressive, above all in the production and dissemination of Bibles and partial Bibles that used Luther’s German translation. The message of the Lutheran Reformation, with its emphasis on the proclamation of God’s Word to all, seemed to coincide perfectly with the emergence of a new medium that could, for the first time, transmit that Word to all.Against this correlation must be set the very low literacy rate in the Holy Roman Empire in the early 16th century, which on some estimates ranged between only 5 and 10 percent. of the entire population. Even taking into account the fact that historical literacy rates are notoriously difficult to estimate, the impact of printing on the majority must have been negligible. This fact has led historians to develop more nuanced ways of understanding the early-modern communication process than simply imagining a reader sitting in front of a text. One is to recognize the “hybridity” of many publications—a pamphlet might contain labeled illustrations, or be capable of being read out aloud as a sermon, or of being sung. Luther himself published many successful hybrid works of this kind. Another is the notion of the “two-stage communication process,” by which propagandists or advertisers direct their message principally to influential, literate, opinion-formers who cascade the new ideas down. Clearly much work remains to be done in understanding how Luther’s propaganda and public opinion interacted. The fact that our present generations are living through a series of equally transformative and disruptive communications revolutions will no doubt inspire new questions as well as new insights.

The Protestant Reformation and the Printing Press – YouTube

Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press) Published on Oct 29, 2017 The protestant reformation is often said to have started with the publication of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Though not the first condemned heretic to write books, he is perhaps the first to benefit from the rapid and cheap dissemination of ideas made possible by the printing press. Continuously updated and peer reviewed, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion is part of a major initiative from Oxford University Press to transform its approach to reference publishing in order to better serve the changing needs of university-level digital research.

Mike Brearley | Predators come to believe their own fictions | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

From Don Giovanni to Weinstein, warped psychology finds a powerful ally in self-delusion. In my work as a psychoanalyst, I have found that patients often believe the stories they make up about themselves. They are self-deceived. With admirable self-knowledge, a patient once said to me: “My wife tells bare-faced lies. But I lie in how I am. And that is much worse.” He was aware that we may present to the world, but also internally, a justificatory version of ourselves, and live out the lie.

Post-Truth Initiative | The University of Sydney

This Sydney Research Excellence Initiative examines fake news, alternative facts, lies, bullshit, and propaganda, with the aim to understand them, and to advise on how the truth might survive in this climate.


US Domestic Policy Reports


Russian Troll Tweets Duped Global Media Thousands of Times – NBC News

Global news outlets inadvertently published articles containing embedded tweets by confirmed Kremlin-linked troll accounts in over 11,000 news articles.

The Washington Post, Miami Herald, InfoWars and other U.S. sites spread Russian propaganda from Twitter – Recode

Tweets from 2,752 fake Twitter accounts created by Russian government trolls found their way into U.S. news stories.

Russia-Backed Twitter Accounts Were Unwittingly Boosted by WaPo, Miami Herald, InfoWars and Others :: Politics :: News :: Russia :: Paste

More than 2,700 accounts were found by a study to have ties to Russian troll farms.

Study finds major news organizations used tweets from fake Russians accounts in their news coverage

Official site of The Week Magazine, offering commentary and analysis of the day’s breaking news and current events as well as arts, entertainment, people and gossip, and political cartoons.

Russian Facebook and Instagram accounts exploited America’s civilian-military divide.

For the first time, a foreign adversary has turned resentment among the military into a national security risk.

Twitter Sidestepped Russian Account Warnings, Former Worker Says – Bloomberg

In 2015, a manager discovered a trove of accounts with Russian and Ukrainian IP addresses

Former Twitter employee talks to Bloomberg about long history of fake account problems – Talking New MediaTalking New Media | The digital publishing website

‘They were more concerned with growth numbers than fake and compromised accounts’ a former engineering manager at Twitter told Selina Wang, reporter at Bloomberg News T BloombergTechnology blog (or news …

Twitter Brushed Off Warnings About Russia-Linked Accounts | Vanity Fair

The social-media platform’s decision to treat security as a secondary concern to growth has come back to haunt it.

Marc Thiessen: The Manafort, Gates indictments aren’t proof of Trump-Russia collusion — just bad judgment | Fox News

The indictment of Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates should have come as no surprise to anyone.

Josh Marshall | Clowns and Imbeciles and Spies and Paul Manafort – Talking Points Memo

Former Trump campaign advisor Michael Caputo went on MSNBC this afternoon and said George Papadopoulos was “stupid” and “had no business” being at that March 2016 foreign policy advisor meeting where he apparently talked up his ability to set up meetings with Russians or even with Vladimir Putin. He went on to say that Papadopoulos was only there because Donald Trump was getting slammed for not having any foreign policy advisors and a group was thrown together with basically zero idea of who the people even were. “He was invited in because at the time the campaign was really reeling from criticism that it had no foreign policy or other advisers,” Caputo said during an interview with Katy Tur. “Donald Trump prided himself on running a lean and mean campaign. That group was slap dash put together in a way another campaign wouldn’t do it. Papadopoulos had no business being there.” This is all 100%, unquestionably true. As I wrote yesterday, you can’t read the emails or anything else about Papadopoulos without concluding he is basically a clown who had zero business having any advisory role with any campaign. Indeed, the team clearly was quickly tossed together to quiet a damaging storyline that Trump had no one advising him on anything having to do with foreign policy and was clearly entirely ignorant on the subject himself. But none of this is a defense. It’s irrelevant. He had no business being there and yet he was there. According to government charging documents he remained an advisor almost until the end of the campaign and was clearly in regular email contact with the campaign’s policy director, Sam Clovis. The Trumpers have long pushed this argument that they were too inexperienced, disorganized or simply too stupid to have conspired with Russians to subvert the election. That’s not how it works. As we’ve noted in recent days, intelligence operatives (of any country) are looking precisely for people who are desperate, stupid, inexperienced, crooked when they are trying to penetrate or compromise any organization or find collaborators within it. That is when you have something to work with. The Trumpers might just as well have said well, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner, two complete neophytes and rubes, had zero business with senior roles running the campaign and meeting with foreign government emissaries as we know they did in the June meeting at Trump Tower. Definitely, “stupid”, definitely “no business” being there. And yet they were there. Desperate, stupid, inexperienced, crooked – the Trumpers checked basically every box. Which brings us back to Paul Manafort. He was looped in on at least some of those emails from Papadopoulos. He was also in that June Trump Tower meeting. The more we learn about Paul Manafort, the more he seems extremely crooked and very desperate. But he’s not at all inexperienced and he’s not stupid. He’s worked in politics for decades. He’s worked abroad in countries where dealing with foreign and US intelligence operatives goes with the territory. It’s very hard to imagine that Manafort, being on the receiving end of multiple approaches and simultaneously trying to use his newfound profound prominence to ‘make himself whole’ with people in Ukraine and Russia didn’t have a pretty clear sense of what was going on. Mueller and his deputies seem to think the same thing.

Paul Manafort is finally facing justice — and we Ukrainians couldn’t be happier – The Washington Post

How Trump’s ex-campaign manager left a trail of destruction in our country.

Manafort money laundering charge in Russia probe may face challenges

When the lawyer for the former campaign manager of President Donald Trump attacked the money laundering charge brought against his client as flimsy, some legal experts say he may have pinpointed a potential weakness in the indictment by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller.

Paul Manafort’s lawyers will challenge ‘improperly obtained’ evidence

In a court filing, lawyers for Trump’s former campaign chief also said they would challenge the criminal charges against him.

The “foreign agents” law Paul Manafort is charged with breaking is wildly underenforced – Vox

It relies on voluntary compliance — which basically invites lobbyists to flout the law.

Paul Manafort Is Proof That Laundered Money Can’t Buy Class | Vanity Fair

A menswear designer described Manafort’s style as “more . . . Michael Douglas-Gordon Gekko.”

Paul Manafort’s Roots Run Deep in a Connecticut City – The New York Times

Mr. Manafort was not only born in once prosperous New Britain, but grew up in a family whose name dots the map of central Connecticut.

Researchers Say Paul Manafort Referenced James Bond in His Adobe and Dropbox Passwords – Motherboard

The ex-Trump campaign chairman was indicted in special investigator Robert Mueller’s Russian probe Monday.

Russia probe: Are Trump Tower meeting and Trump dossier comparable?

Both campaigns were looking for “dirt” on one another, but there are key differences in how they went about it.

Paul Manafort: The Adviser to Sellouts for Russia

Republicans seek special counsel’s removal from Russia probe

Three Republican U.S. lawmakers called on Friday for Robert Mueller to resign as special counsel investigating Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, the latest in a series of conservatives’ criticisms of the FBI and Justice Department during the probe of how Moscow may have influenced the campaign.

Congressman Matt Gaetz Introduces Resolution Calling for Recusal of Mueller from Special Counsel | Congressman Matt Gaetz

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a resolution today calling for the resignation of Robert Mueller, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from his position as Special Counsel.

Conservative Republicans demand Mueller recuse himself over uranium deal – The Washington Post

The effort is unlikely to attract enough attention to pass, as Democrats and many Republicans believe Mueller should be allowed to do his job free from political interference.

Trump Campaign Adviser Met With Russian Officials in 2016 – The New York Times

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, told House investigators he met with Russian government officials during a July 2016 trip to Moscow. He has long denied doing so.

Carter Page met with Russian official during 2016 trip to Moscow – CNNPolitics

Carter Page met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich while in Moscow in July 2016, the former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign confirmed to CNN on Friday.

Longtime Trump bodyguard to face questions about 2013 Moscow trip – The Washington Post

The House Intelligence Committee plans to ask Keith Schiller about claims about Trump’s behavior.

Uzbek Sister Of NYC Suspect Fears Saipov ‘Brainwashed,’ Pleads For Time And ‘Fair Trial’

A sister of New York City terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov has told RFE/RL from their native Uzbekistan that her family believes the 29-year-old was “brainwashed” and has pleaded with U.S. authorities to give him “time” and a “fair trial.”

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