Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
It’s going crazy out there…
The POLITICO Magazine article, Russia Is a Rogue State. Time to Say So., is probably the most correct titles written in recent history. The article is well written and cogent, but does not go far enough. There are two very powerful reasons why almost nothing is being done, however. First, Russia has nukes and consistently reminds us. Second, Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and frequently uses its veto authority against any measure which threatens it.
What the West does, however, must be just, legal, and punitive.
NATO / EU / Russia Reports
The Kremlin’s online activities go far beyond election meddling. The U.S. needs to fight back.
The U.S. faces losing influence and the ability to rely on partners in regions such as the Middle East if its allies turn away from the West for arms.
Putin’s Syria intervention saved Assad. But is he ready for what comes next?
There is no comparison between Russian efforts to undermine elections and American efforts to strengthen them, a former Obama official writes.
Britain must spend more on the armed forces or risk defeat in a future confrontation, a serving military chief has warned in a rare intervention.General Sir Gordon Messenger, vice-chief of the defence staff, said the country must be prepared for a “deterioration in the international arena” within 10
Air Force Gen. John Hyten noted that Russia, China and North Korea each assert distinct threats at varying tempos.
Russia has turned the annexed Crimea into a military base and placed nuclear weapons there, as stated by the leader of the Crimean Tatar people …
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy David Trachtenberg said on Monday, February 26 that cruise missile tests conducted by Russia …
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the United States had decided to keep a significant number of rockets in breach of a major nuclear arms agreement.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 23 – Having successfully mobilized Russians to support him by his Crimean Anschluss after the mass demonstrations against the Kremlin in 2011-2012, Arkady Babchenko says, Vladimir Putin will in the future always turn to war whenever he feels that his position has been weakened. “The only means Putin has to influence domestic policy [in Russia] is war,” the Russian commentator now in exile in Kyiv says; “and when his position is threatened, when centrifugal processes begin, he will try to stop them by some sort of new war: escalation in the Donbass, in Syria, or somewhere else” (afterempire.info/2018/02/23/babchenko/). According to Babchenkko, “Russia now is an extremely unstable situation and therefore it is extremely difficult to predict what will happen.” Over the past five years, one could count on Moscow choosing the worst of all options. “Now, this kind of unpredictability is spreading to many other countries.” “Their regimes also are moving away from liberal democratic values and shifting to the side of some kind of authoritarianism and ‘greatness.’ One can see that in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Trumpist America, and in Turkey.” That all feeds back into Russia and gives Putin the chance to behave even worse at home and abroad. Babchenko observes that “the world is changing and not entirely in the direction that many of us would like. The European Union unfortunately has not been able to do what its founders dreamed. In many countries, isolationist attitudes are growing.” And many are again talking about dividing up the world into spheres of influence. As far as Russia is concerned, the Kyiv-based commentator says that he “already simply does not believe in any united ‘democratic Russia.’” Now, he suggests, “we are living in the era of the collapse of empires,” in Russia’s case, the third phase, the first being in 1917-1918 and the second in 1991. But how long that will last depends on many things, including the price of oil. If oil price remain where they are now, in the 70 US dollars a barrel range, he suggests, the current regime could continue to exist “for decades.” But if they fall significantly, Russia could become like Venezuela; and in that case, “quite interesting processes will begin,” although they may lead in a bad direction instead of toward a democratic one. Babchenko says that he does not think that Russia will succeed in building a democracy. Instead, he argues, there will be some kind of neo-Pugachevshchina, “’senseless and pitiless,” and that will end with the rise of a new authoritarianism just as it has so often in the history of Russia. On the other hand, if Russia disintegrates, and the core is reduced to something like Muscovy, then it is possible that portions of what is now the Russian Federation might be able to articulate democracies. That depends also on the role of other countries. In 1991, Russia was “in fact” under external rule, and it was that rule by Western institutions that prevented “the final collapse of Russia” at the time. Whether the West will play the same role in the future is very much an open question, Babchenko says. The Russian opposition has been gelded, he continues, elections no longer really exist, and there are now powerful regionalist movements. As a result, the domestic opposition, rightist and imperialist, on the one hand, and democratic, on the other, does not have significant influence on the Kremlin. And then Babchenko concludes with the following observation: “When I heard that ‘the people in Russia have never lived as well as they do under Putin,’ this is close to the truth. Many depend too much on the budget and it depends on oil. Although propaganda is gradually ceasing to work.” “The Donbass theme, for example, has practically disappeared from the information agenda. It doesn’t tie Russians together. They don’t talk or think about it. Therefore, the war in Ukraine now does not influence domestic politics in Russia.” Only a much larger war there or somewhere else might.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 27 – There is an emerging consensus in Moscow about Ukraine, one that includes the notion that no one can require Moscow to give up what it has already seized already –Crimea – and its positions in the Donbass lest that provoke instability within the Russian Federation, Vitaly Portnikov says. In an interview given to Marina Yevtushok of the Apostrophe news agency, the Ukrainian commentator says that Russians won’t talk about this and that his Moscow contacts insist it can be raised only in the course of discussions about improving Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Western ties (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2018-02-27/rossiyane-hotyat-reshit-problemyi-s-ukrainoy-no-u-nih-est-tri-usloviya—vitaliy-portnikov/17098 Portnikov says that he has told them “’we cannot discuss these points together because this is schizophrenia. They do not understand why. They say ‘You must understand out position, Vitaly. You know you are interested in a stable Russian state because a stable Russian power can reach agreements with Ukraine and the West and there won’t be chaos.” “If you want that the [Russian] power to be stable, you must understand,” they say, “that it cannot display weakness. Any backing away from this position is a manifestation of weakness.” And Portnikov points out that the Kremlin is using exactly the same tactic in its relations with Japan and the question of the status of the Northern Territories. He says he has told the Japanese that “Putin doesn’t want to show a constructive approach. He wants to show that he is “an ingatherer of Russian lands.’ And such a person cannot collect them one place and give them away in another. He can’t even if he would like to do so and even if you convinced him with logic … This is a Procustean bed.” The only thing he can do in the case of Ukraine is “not to go further if he sees that this will not bring any dividents or may even lead to a worsening rather than an improvement in his situation. I think,” Portnikov says, “that after the Vagner episode in Syria, his desire not to go further has intensified. But there where a Russian ‘boot’ has stood, it will stand to the end.” Putin could strengthen his hand in Ukraine as a whole by returning Crimea and the Donbass to Kyiv’s control. That would change the electoral balance in the country and help to bring to power a more pro-Russian government. But Putin is trapped by his own mental image of how to behave as a Russian ruler and by what Russians expect. Portnikov does not say, but using the threat of instability in Russia against foreign powers is a long-standing Kremlin ploy that has a double target. On the one hand, because many people want to avoid instability at all costs, it leads them to make concessions to anyone who says that instability will happen if outsiders do anything. And on the other, it allows the Kremlin to blame any threat of instability on outsiders rather than to acknowledge the role its own policies play in this regard and then to insist upon and then impose ever greater repression on its own population as a result. That is what Vladimir Putin is doing now against not only Ukraine but the West as well. Often this simple strategy works given fears of instability in a nuclear power; but it doesn’t always. Mikhail Gorbachev justified his turn to the right this was at the end of 1990, hoping that the West would not criticize what he was doing and what Eduard Shevardnadze among others warned against. Many in Western governments accepted his argument, talked about saving Gorbachev and preventing instability in the Soviet Union. But the nations of the USSR in that case did not; and within a year, both that country and its president were cast on the ash heap of history .
February 23, 2018 – 10:00am MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin doesn’t tweet and he claims he doesn’t have a smartphone. At first sight, the Russian president’s reluctance to adopt the hyperconnected world’s technology might seem at odds with the widespread belief that he signed off on a campaign to undermine the United States via social media.…
Interesting article with some new facts, from a Turkish news source. Please excuse the typos, they came from the original source. </end editorial> Hundreds of people work from 2014 in a block of offices in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to sow Internet communication in favor of the Kremlin 25 February 2018 Sunday 12:30 The…
It seems Canada is taking a better thought through approach to this problem, and much more timely, than the United States. But it still isn’t good enough. Nobody appears to be taking a totally holistic approach to this. The US seems to be grinding down the cyber road. The Facebook and Twitter road. Individual roads…
Alexander Vershbow on Twitter: “This new report confirms what #Gorbachev himself said in this 2014 interview: #NATO enlargement wasn’t even discussed during German reunification talks, so no promise was made & none broken – https://t.co/VQV42KMyrY… https://t.co/Gl82KosUCT”
The first and last president of the Soviet Union spoke with RBTH about the past and how it should inform the present.
We have a Catch-22 situation here in which Russia appears to be taking advantage of our indecision and inaction. </end editorial> GUY VERHOFSTADT The Australian 12:00AM February 27, 2018 Instagram, a photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook, recently caved in to a demand by the Russian government that it remove posts by opposition leader Alexey Navalny…
25 February 2018, 23:50 Moscow is trying to persuade Sofia to sign the license agreement, which will restore Russia’s control of the Bulgarian defence industry and thus will give it a say on a wide range of issues of this NATO member state’s defence system. Vadim Dovnar , Belarusian journalist At the end of last year,…
Paul Goble Staunton, February 25 – As the Putin regime takes more steps to hide the crimes of Stalin – it has gotten Interpol to go after the editor of the Russia as the Prison House of Nations portal (novayagazeta.ru/news/2018/02/24/139771-interpol-ob-yavil-v-rozysk-avtora-bloga-rossiya-tyurma-narodov-po-zaprosu-rossii), it is ever more important to call attention to those crimes. One of the greatest is the acts of genocide Stalin carried out against the so-called “punished peoples” by forcibly deporting them from their homelands and leaving them to die in the wilds of Central Asia or elsewhere. His actions in the North Caucasus and Crimea are well-documented; those elsewhere much less so. One of the nations Stalin deported that has received only sporadic attention are the Kola Norwegians, a small group who settled in the northern reaches of Russia in the 19th century, prospered but then were deported in the lead up to World War II and were never allowed to return. They have been given some attention by Norwegian investigators – their story is even summarized on a Wikipedia page – but the Kola Norwegians have seldom attracted Russian investigators. Now that has changed with a remarkable article this week on their history and fate (russian7.ru/post/kak-kolskie-norvezhcy-stali-russki/). Although the article is entitled “How the Kola Norwegians Became Russian,” it concedes that “to come to Rus does not mean to become part of it.” And it makes clear that this community stood apart and viewed itself as separate until its dispersion by deportation led to its disappearance. The Kola Norwegians came for Finnmark, settling n the Murmansk shore where they played a major role in the development of fishing and trade with the Pomors. In Murman itself, the article says, “no one lived until the end of the 19th century.” As the Russian authorities “did not control this territory,” the Norwegians arrived and settled initially without reference to them. But by 1859, they had become sufficiently numerous and tsarist power in the region had grown enough to appeal to Aleksandr II and receive permission to settle along the entire coastline, in large part because unlike Russians who didn’t want to settle there, the Kola Norwegians asked for no state assistance. The only condition the tsar placed on them was that the Kola Norwegians had to become Russian subjects. After doing so, their economic situation improved still further both from fishing and from the production and sale of alcohol to the Pomors and the local Russian communities that had begun to form. By the end of the 19th century, the Kola Norwegians numbered more than 2100. After the revolution, they organized a fishing collective farm; and despite the Soviet state’s confiscatory approach to it, “their standard of living was much higher than that of Russians and Finns” in the region. They kept apart and had a cautious attitude toward Russians and all things Soviet, and not surprisingly few Russians settled among them and the authorities viewed them with suspicion. The NKVD began lodging charges against them and by 1938, a quarter of the Kola Norwegians had been repressed. Then, in 1940, on Stalin’s order to “cleanse” all border areas of “alien elements” in the name of national security, the Soviet organs deported the rest to various parts of the Soviet Union. “In this way,” the article says, “the history of the existence of the Kola Norwegians in Murman came to an end.” Because they were sent in small groups to regions and republics far from their homeland, the Kola Norwegians either died out or were assimilated. They “surfaced” again only after 1991 when Norwegians from Norway visited the Murmansk area looking for records of their ancestors and set up a monument to them. But by that time, there were no Kola Norwegians left; and in 2007, the Russian authorities took the final step in their disappearance by declaring vacant Port Vladimir which a century earlier had been their largest settlement.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin forecasts the international community will never lift the sanctions imposed on Russia and they will remain in force for good. “For good. The revival of Russia’s national identity usually leads to a rapid growth of its physical strength. No one has ever liked that at the level of instinct in the West. The sanctions are the reaction of the old enemy to our reinforcement. And they will be lifted only if we again become weak,” he said in an interview with the Russian business daily Kommersant, answering a question for how long the restrictive measures imposed against the Russian Federation will remain in force. Rogozin says he sees the sanctions against Russia as a chance to show “the best features” of its “national character.” As reported earlier, the U.S. Department of State said U.S. sanctions had inflicted over $3 billion in costs on the Russian budget.
Ukraine is worried Nord Stream 2 could leave its own gas pipeline vulnerable to a Russian attack, according to a leading political risk expert.
Washington has threatened Ankara with sanctions should they decide to purchase S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Moscow, RIA Novosti …
Iraq’s ambassador to Russia, Haidar Mansour Hadi, denied reports of ongoing negotiations in Moscow concerning S-400 surface-to-air missile …
The United States has urged Turkey to abandon the purchase of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia, warning Ankara of the consequences of its decision, Haberturk reported citing a source in Washington. According to the Turkish newspaper, an unnamed American official expressed his concerns over Ankara’s purchase of Russian surface-to-air missile systems, explaining that they could “negatively influence the interoperability of NATO” and assuming that Washington could impose sanctions in response to the recently adopted law.
Romania’s senate unanimously voted on Monday the law draft for the acquisition of three long-range ground to ground HIMARS missile launching systems for a total of EUR 1.5 billion, VAT included. That was reported by romania-insider.com. Each purchased system will have 18 launching installations. The HIMARS systems will be operated by Romania’s Ground Forces. Defence minister Mihai Fifor said that Romania would make the payment for the first HIMARS system by the end of this month. In September 2017, the State Department has cleared High Mobility Artillery Rocket System sale to Romania, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement. According to the announcement, Romania has requested 54 HIMARS launchers and 81 unitary Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) and 81 alternative warhead GMLRS. The request also includes 54 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) and 24 Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems (AFATDS), which is the fire-control system for HIMARS.
Concerns about Russian aggression is driving billions of dollars in US arms sales to European nations. The weapons deliveries are also part of the Trump administration’s wider efforts to confront Russia in the region.
Sweden intends to increase the strength of the Armed Forces by 2035 from current levels of 50,000 troops to future levels of 120,000 troops, as …
Sweden’s military has cited an increasingly assertive Russia in a request to parliament for a major increase in the Nordic country’s defense spending.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has determined that Latvia’s ABLV Bank is on the verge of failing and will be closed down under the Baltic country’s law.
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, also known as the 2nd Dragoons, active Stryker infantry and cavalry regiment of the United States Army, conducts a live ammunition test fire with the 30mm Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle – Dragoon ( ICV-D) at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Grafenwoehr, Germany. The first received Stryker vehicles with remotely-operated 30mm cannon weapon system take part in live ammunition test fire and is are ready to carry out their combat missions. These new 30mm Stryker ICV-D’s, named for the 2CR Dragoons, are currently undergoing test fires for the first time in the European Theater. This upgraded Stryker has a remotely-operated 30mm cannon weapon system, unmanned turret, a new, fully-integrated commander’s station; and upgraded driveline component and hull modifications, according to information from Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems.
U.S. President Donald Trump will host the leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in a Baltic Summit on April 3, the White House has said.
The Defense Ministry of Russia started issuing specially-protected, Russian-made mobile phones to officers with top secret security clearance, …
Polish statesman Antoni Macierewicz, the chairperson of a special commission that was formed to investigate the deadly crash of the Tu-154M …
Paul Goble Staunton, February 25 – With great pomp, Moscow has rolled out plans for a new aircraft carrier (lenta.ru/news/2018/02/25/avianos/ and newsru.com/russia/25feb2018/zvezdasays.html), but a Chinese expert says that “Russian pride” means that the new one will look like its Soviet predecessors rather than correspond to the standards the US has set in this field. And a Chinese expert says that this same “pride” which “does not allow Russia to learn from others” means that not only any future aircraft carrier will lag behind those of other countries but that many of its other military and indeed civilian projects will lag behind as well (mil.news.sina.com.cn/jssd/2018-02-13/doc-ifyrpeie2568637.shtml; in Russian, at inosmi.ru/military/20180222/241533384.html). On the one hand, the author of the Chinese Sina.com military portal says, the new Russian plans show that Moscow plans for its new carrier to have two trampolines and an electro-magnetic catapult for launching planes, real progress. But on the other, Russia lacks the capacity to develop the systems it says it will use and thus will continue to rely on old ones. Electro-magnetic catapults are cutting edge technology, the Chinese says; and currently are found only on the Nimits and Gerald Ford class aircraft carriers of the US navy. Indeed, they were introduced only in July 2017; and at present, the Beijing writers continue, “only the US and China” have this technology. Russia doesn’t. According to the Chinese commentator, Beijing’s “third aircraft carrier will use electro-magnetic catapults.” If that proves to be the case, he continues, “China will become the second country in the world whose aircraft carriers will have electro-magnetic catapults of domestic production.” For Russia, developing such machinery is “a distant dream,” especially because of the disordering of the Soviet defense industry with the collapse of the USSR and because of Russia’s unwillingness, in contrast to China’s, to learn from others and use that knowledge to develop its own models. The Chinese says he “fears that present-day Russia will not even be able to independently build an aircraft carrier with a conventional trampoline let alone one with electro-magnet catapults.” Building such a ship is something “only a great power” can do. And Russia in this sphere isn’t one. Since 1991, he continues, “Russia has practically not produced large ships with displacements of more than 5,000 tons.” And third countries that have acquired Soviet-era aircraft carriers have been forced to refit them in order to bring them closer to present-day international standards. The Chinese expert suggests that Russia should “concentrate its attention on restoring industry for producing aircraft carriers” rather than announcing plans for ships its industrial base cannot now support. To do that, they say, Moscow should focus on refitting its only remaining carrier, the Kuznetsov, and use that as a learning experience. Russians have long dreams of being a great naval power, the Chinese author concludes, but “unfortunately, a Russian pride which does not permit them to learn from others keeps getting in the way. This will ruin them.”
Paul Goble Staunton, February 26 – The total number of women in the Russian military remains relatively small – under 45,000 – but they are growing in importance both because many women see a military career as a good one and because the country’s demographic situation is such that Moscow has no choice but to use women as the draft age cohort declines in size. And for the first time since World War II, they are being used in combat – and being decorated for their contribution to Moscow’s military efforts. The Defense Ministry this week has put out an infographic that captures some of their role (мультимедиа.минобороны.рф/multimedia/infographics/gallery.htm via snob.ru/selected/entry/134563). Among its most important statistics are the following: · 44,921 women now serve in the Russian military, but overwhelmingly they are soldiers (32,064) rather than senior officers (1056). They form 7.1 percent of those in uniform. · The largest numbers serve in the Eastern Military District and the Southern Military District; the smallest in the Northern Fleet. · The largest share of them are in military training groups; the smallest in the central command. · 1034 have taken part in combat operations, and 882 have been decorated for that. · Their main military specialties are communications, medicine, and instruction.
Almaz-Antey Chief Designer Pavel Sozinov has announced new details of a Russian next-generation high-altitude missile interceptor system, called the S-500. “The S-500 missile system is classified as a fifth-generation system, and it will solve, among other things, anti-ballistic missile (ABM) targets”, said Pavel Sozinov. The S-500 (55R6M Triumfator-M) is the latest generation of Russian-made surface-to-air defence missile system, currently under development by the Russia’s Almaz-Antey Air Defence Concern Joint Stock Company. “We are striving to significantly exceed by many characteristics those achievements that are realized by Americans in the THAAD mobile anti-missile system,” also noted Chief Designer.
Incorporating lessons from Western special operations forces (SOF), the Kremlin had established its own equivalent of the U.S. Army’s elite 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta.
A US Air Force RC-135W strategic reconnaissance aircraft number 62-4134 and call sign UNSEW42 conducted reconnaissance along the Kaliningrad …
Russia / Russophone Reports
For President Putin, espionage against what he and his Soviet predecessors call their “Main Enemy” is no laughing matter.
Judo throwdowns. Tiger wrangling. Bare-chested hunting. Why he’s so fixated on projecting power.
Our Sources. On the Record. At Your Fingertips. There are a series of interviews with relevant former officials and experts in this playlist. Across these interviews, you get the history of Putin’s rise to power and the details of the unfolding east-west conflict. The perceptions of both sides are fairly well articulated by the totality.…
President Vladimir V. Putin used his annual address to lay out a plan to reduce poverty and revive middle class fortunes.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Ksenia Sobchak have clashed at the first Russian presidential TV debate, with the ultranationalist leader yelling that Sobchak was a “whore” after being doused by her with …
Part 1 of 2. You have to read this one first to fully understand the next. </end editorial> Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Ksenia Sobchak clashed at the first Russian presidential TV debate, with the ultranationalist leader calling Sobchak a “whore” after being doused by her with water. The debate was aired nationwide by state-run Channel One…
Putin’s ‘goddaughter’ and former Playboy model who is standing in the upcoming Russian election throws water over rival in TV debate after he calls her a ‘w****’ and tells her to ‘shut up’ – To Inform is to Influence
2 of 2. Zhirinovsky is calling Sobchak a whore and a bunch of other insults, so she throws water on him. The level of insane chauvinism in this Presidential candidate is just unbelievable. As Julia Davis pointed out in a Tweet, however, nobody came to Sobchak’s defense. Nobody. Russia is emulating a cesspool. </end editorial>…
Presidential candidate and journalist Ksenia Sobchak has called for an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma’s International Relation…
Police in Thailand have detained a Russian woman who was at the center of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s recent report about an alleged meeting between a billionaire metals tycoon and a lo…
Former friends, colleagues, and supporters of slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov are marking the third anniversary of his killing on February 27.
About 4,500 took part in a march in Moscow in memory of the politician Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in 2015, reports RBC news agency, citing …
March in Moscow to commemorate Boris Nemtsov. UNIAN pictures
From mercenaries to hackers, shady public-private partnerships are a part of Putin’s regime
Rallies were held across Russia on February 25 to commemorate slain Kremlin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov ahead of the third anniversary of his murder. In Tomsk, people laid flowers to Nemtsov’s photo displayed at a local memorial “to the victims of the Bolshevik terror.” In Yekaterinburg, demonstrators chanted a slogan: “Stop Putin! Stop gulag! Ukraine is not an enemy to us!” (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)
Cast your ballot or find a gay man in your bed — that’s the message of a viral video urging people to vote in Russia’s presidential election. Various forms of pressure are being applied amid opposition calls to stay home on polling day.
Hundreds of people took part in the February 25 rally in Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, commemorating slain Kremlin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. Similar rallies were held in numerous cities across Russia ahead of the anniversary of Nemtsov’s murder, which took place on a Moscow bridge overlooking the Kremlin on February 27, 2015. (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)
A Russian activist has been sentenced in St. Petersburg to 25 days in jail after being detained on his way to attend a February 25 rally in memory of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Echo of Moscow news agency reports that Moscow residents have been offered money in exchange for participating in a rally-concert in support of …
Estimated 20 million people imprisoned in gulags under Stalin
One day after a blogger in Komi posted a video that she said showed police spray-painting pro-Putin graffiti on a fence, the fence itself vanished.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the United States will overtake Russia as the world’s biggest crude oil producer by 2019 at the latest, as U.S. shale output continues to grow.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 25 – Transparency International has just published its Corruption Perception Index, long one of the most useful measures allowing for evaluating how much corruption exists in various countries around the world and ranking them accordingly (transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017). Russia is not only near the bottom – it stood at 135th out of 180 countries rated – but its position on this measure has been falling over the last decade. However, as Russian commentator Aleksandr Nemets points out, that is not the worst news about corruption in Russia which now costs each Russian 10,000 US dollars a year (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A914E88B74EC). The worst thing about Russian corruption – or at least the feature other countries should be worried about in the first instance, he suggests – is that Moscow is now not really opposing this plague as it is part and parcel of the Putin system but rather deploying corruption “as its chief instrument in ‘the outside world’ as a dangerous (lethal) weapon of aggression.” Using corruption, Nemets says, the Kremlin between 1992 and 2013, disordered the ruling stratum in Ukraine, openly the way for Putin’s Crimean Anschluss and his hybrid war against that country. But now, he continues, the Russian leadership is going after even bigger fish: searching for and finding figures in the US elite ready, willing and able to be corrupted. The Russian commentator cites an article by US-based Russian historian Yury Felshtinsky that Moscow has funneled dirty Russian money into the US “via the Trump organization,” an action that at a minimum suggests the Russian side has leverage over parts of it (gordonua.com/publications/pole-chudes-v-strane-durakov-tramp-v-pogone-za-russkimi-dengami-rassledovanie-istorika-felshtinskogo-230326.html). The Kremlin’s access to massive amounts of money – more than a trillion US dollars abroad – is something new and allows it to use funds to corrupt politicians abroad. Indeed, the amount of money it would need to gain influence over many Western figures would be less than a rounding error given that sum. The past few days has brought fresh evidence of the corruption which now infuses Russian foreign policy in the form of reports about cocaine shipments from a Russian embassy in South America, something that could give the FSB and the Kremlin money even less trackable for possible nefarious use (forum-msk.org/material/news/14383674.html). Reflecting on this, another Russian commentator, Alfred Kokh concludes a discussion of all this with the question: When will the fools in the West begin to understand with whom they are dealing?” Putin’s regime is not a state like any other, he suggests. “It is the most ordinary mafia” and plays by mafia rules (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A91BB4B326B6).
With presidential elections looming, the FT examines the data behind calls for reform
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has published a video investigation claiming that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska acted as a messenger between U.S. President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort and a top Kremlin foreign policy official. Deripaska in an Instagram post on Friday denied the allegations and called them part of a slander campaign against him. Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chief in mid-2016, is suspected of having offered information on the campaign to metals tycoon Deripaska. The offer was seen in Washington as evidence of Russia’s suspected interference in the U.S. presidential elections which saw Trump win the White House.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 22 – Elections in Russia may not be about selecting a leader, but they are appropriate occasions for comparing what candidates have promised in the past and what they have achieved as a way of assessing the probability that they will or even can keep their current promises in the future. In an interview with the Znak portal today, Pavel Luzin, a military specialist with the Intersection journal, says the promises Vladimir Putin made in 2012 about national security (rg.ru/2012/02/20/putin-armiya.html) have not been kept (znak.com/2018-02-22/ekspert_predvybornye_obechaniya_putina_v_oblasti_nacionalnoy_bezopasnosti_ne_vypolneny). Among Luzin’s key points are the following: Unfortunately, Putin hasn’t learned from his mistakes and is likely to continue to make them, Luzin says. It is entirely possible he will bomb Libya and send in mercenaries – Moscow has enough of them and they are cheap and expendable. But there is one big problem: conducting such a war requires that the population feel it is justified. “Remember your history,” the commentator says, “even Soviet conquest operations against Poland, Finland and the Baltic countries were based not only on the force of arms and propaganda but on a mass faith in the correctness and necessity of what was taking place.” Putin’s challenge would be to recreate that if he can.
Demonstrations are set to be held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities on February 25 to commemorate slain Kremlin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 23 – Few governments play up anniversaries and especially “round” ones than does Moscow, and that makes it all the more curious that today, it did remarkably little to mark the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland on what is the centenary of the creation of the Red Army. But despite the fact that in recent years, Vladimir Putin has transformed Russia into what military observer Aleksandr Golts calls “the country of victorious militarism” (ej.ru/?a=note&id=32168), the Kremlin had three compelling reasons for doing so, all connected with the election campaign and Russia’s current military problems. First, as Golts himself points out, the recent deaths of Russian mercenaries at the hands of American forces in Syria is something that the Putin regime has been working overtime to play down, lest it spark either questions about the competence of his regime or demands for a more forceful response than the Kremlin can or at least wants to give. Nonetheless, he says, “it remains true: for the first time since the Korean war, Russia and the United States have begun to fight.” It doesn’t matter much that “the Americans destroyed not Russian soldiers … but only armed citizens of the Russian Federation.” And that points to a still more dangerous development. The Kremlin’s “successes” in its military actions “are making war more probable.” On the one hand, “its operations in Ukraine and Syria do not have the slightest connection to the country’s security. They are directed exclusively at strengthening ‘the pride’ of the Kremlin. And Russians can see that. And on the other, they make war more likely, not only because they have created a domestic constituency within the military-industrial complex for more spending on military affairs; but they have increased the chances for the kind of accident that happened in Syria February 7-8 and that could happen again. Russians can see that as well. Second, while Putin’s regime almost in every case traces its institutions back to Soviet ones rather than to earlier tsarist cases – Russia has had defenders far before the Red Army was created on February 23, 1918 – it also has problems with it selection of such early Soviet models, perhaps nowhere more than in this case. Talking about that centenary raises questions about just what the Soviet government was about, Georgy Oltarzhevsky writes for Profile (profile.ru/culture/item/124989-strategicheskij-yubilej-s-nedomolvkami), thus calling into question both Putin’s notion of a common historical stream for all Russians and the possibility of the peaceful future they want. And third, in addition to the ebbing of the “Crimea is Ours” enthusiasm among Russians that boosted Putin earlier, there are growing indications that Russians are increasingly skeptical about what the Kremlin leader is doing in Syria in particular. Polls suggest Russians are less than pleased by events there, and the comments of some are devastating. Radio Svoboda’s Siberian Realities program interviewed people on the street in Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Blagoveshchensk and Krasnoyarsk about the war in Syria. What is found was skepticism about Putin’s explanation of both Russian involvement and Russian victories there (sibreal.org/a/29058628.html). One resident summed up what many Russians appear to be thinking: What Russia is doing in Syria, he said, “is not a duty; it is simply a use of force.” Given such attitudes, a big celebration of the centenary of the Red Army would likely be counterproductive as far as the Kremlin is concerned.
Russia has been marking its Day of the Fatherland’s Defender, which also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Red Army.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 27 – Vladimir Putin and other leaders of the Russian state understand “the power of the state quite simply or one might even say one-dimensionally,” the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say. He and they view it as being about “the strength of the army and the fleet, the military capacity of its forces, contemporary weapons, and the ability to use them.” Such forces are needed to defend the national interests, the Kremlin says; but the editors reasonably ask “What kind of interests are these? Above all they are geopolitical ambitions, that is, the struggle for influence in the world or portions of it” (ng.ru/editorial/2018-02-27/2_7180_red.html). And related to that, the newspaper continues, those in power in Russia today want this kind of power to “preserve if not conserve the domestic political system and the distribution of power inside of it.” Thus, they believe that “the country would become weak if it couldn’t frighten others with its rockets and if it did not have its own geopolitical plans.” This helps to explain Moscow’s attitude toward the European Union, which “in the opinion of many Russian politicians is weak despite having a developed economy, a strong currency and an attractive international project. It is weak because it never conducts a foreign policy independent of the United States.” But “can one call such an approach contemporary?” The editors clearly think not. They argue that “the strength of the state” should be defined in terms of its ability to “achieve its goals. If the goal is the defense of the domestic political system, then Russia is strong, but so too are Iran and North Korean. If the goal is influence … then there are doubts” in both cases. According to the independent paper, “Moscow has practically no allies let alone strategic ones. At the civilizational level, it has nothing to offer the elites of Europe, East Asia or even the former republics of the USSR. It cooperates with elites whose perspectives to get or keep power are doubtful and the projects it offers are narrow and short term.” The Kremlin’s narrow understanding of strength leads it to ignore other components of power. “An important place [in this] is occupied by the economy. Brexit and the Greek debt did not destroy the euro. The housing crisis did not kill the dollar or destroy the US economy; it as before elicited trust.” The Russian economy, however, is “unpredictable. It is too dependent on the state and prices for raw materials … The means collected when oil prices were high are helping Russia to survive when oil became cheaper. That pattern can exist for a long time. But it doesn’t generate influence or attractiveness;” and that something Russia’s rulers don’t understand. Unfortunately, they are not alone. Many national elites confuse strength and military power, forgetting all of its other sources. That seems to be happening in China, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say. If it is, that will mark a significant step backwards for Beijing and its real influence in the world.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 27 – This week, as Russia enters yet another pseudo-electoral campaign, two Moscow newspapers, Yezhednevny zhurnal and Novyye izvestiya have taken the highly unusual step of publishing an October 2015 address by Vladislav Inozemtsev on why Russia has never been, is not and won’t likely ever become a democracy. The speech, to a Lodz conference under the title “Five Reasons Why Democracy is Impossible in Russia,” provides a useful checklist of the major obstacles Russia faces in actually moving toward what many hope for and what some incorrectly assume has already happened (ej.ru/?a=note&id=32172 and newizv.ru/article/general/27-02-2018/pyat-prichin-po-kotorym-nevozmozhna-demokratiya-v-rossii). Over the millennium of its existence, Inozemtsev says, “democracy has not existed in Russia and does not exist today. There have been periods when the opinion of the population meant something,” but none when there was democracy and popular control of the government and its policies. “More than that,” he continues, when the population forced a change, it did so by “destroying the state as such since no other means existed for it to do so – and certainly no other means no exists and won’t” anytime soon. According to the Russian commentator, there are five reasons for this unhappy conclusion. First, there is history itself, the Russian analyst argues. Over the course of time, “the country has been associated with the state and the state with the figure of the ruler” and it has been a place where any alternatives were viewed as a threat to the state and in many cases as treasonous. “In Russia today,” Inozemtsev says, “there is no democracy: in it, there is only unlimited populism,” a system built “not on a choice of programs but on the preferences of personalities.” That is why Putin has retained his popularity even though he has moved from a pro-European market-oriented politician to an anti-Western and anti-capitalist position. Second, and arising from this is “the cult of personality,” something even more important than the first. “Democracy is a system where society is divided into mobile groups, called the minority and the majority.” They have to have a minimum respect for each other because each can become the other over time. “In Russia with its constant cult of personality (in the broad sense of this term) and the dramatization of contradictions, a view of disagreement has a crime has been formed.” The opposition is first viewed as trouble makers, then as foreign agents and criminals. No one imagines anyone moving from a minority to a majority and thus worthy of dialogue. Third, Russia has always had a resource-based rather than entrepreneurial economy. The resources have changed from furs and gold to grain to oil and gas, but the relationship of the state to them has not. This means that the state wins by expanding territorially to control more resources and by forcing the population to extract them rather than develop on its own. Entrepreneurialism in Russia “has traditionally been considered not as a mean of promoting the well-being of society but as speculation or as an activity motivated exclusively by profit.” That contradicts the basis of a democratic society which is entrepreneurial in far more ways and views the values associated with it in a positive way. Russia was and remains a rent-based system. Indeed, Inozemtsev points out, it is now more so than it was in late Soviet times. Then, raw materials constituted 38 percent of Soviet exports. Now, they constitute “almost 73 percent.” And there are no indications that this is about to change. “This means,” he continues, “that democratization looks not only unrealistic but in part unjust.” Those who ask the powers that be for favors rather than who demand their rights are not the milieu out of which democracy emerges but rather a condition of servility that precludes its rise. Fourth, Russia and Russians suffer from “an imperial mentality.” They justify the sacrifice of freedoms to the protection and enhancement of “the greatness” often interpreted as the size of the state. Democracy would have only hemmed in this drive, and so presenting to Russians the choice as between democracy and greatness usually is no choice at all. Adding territory to the state has been the chief criterion of greatness for Russian rulers, and “the loss of territory is the absolute criterion of the failure of a ruler” in his primary function. Putin’s successes in Chechnya and his annexation of Crimea “transformed him into a more respected leader of the country. And fifth, corruption. “Russia is a country in which corruption and the misuse of power is a characteristic aspect of state institutions,” something that requires the “de-structuring of society” and of any possibility of collective action. After all, “in contrast to lobbying, corruption is an individual almost intimate process.” As a result, Russia “in its present-day form” is a radically individualized society, one in which individuals seek exceptions to the rules via corruption rather than a change in the rules by political action, as is the case in democratic societies, Inozemtsev says. And that has an unexpected consequence. Any increase in personal freedom in an authoritarian society, he points out, “leads to the formation of ‘an anti-democratic consensus’” because people want to be able to press their individual demands via corruption rather than take part in broader changes in the rules of the game. What does all this mean? Inozemtsev asks rhetorically. “The striving for freedom and autonomy, the sense of the supremacy of individual goals over state tasks, an attitude toward the state as the provider of public goods and not a sacred symbol, a readiness for collective action and no the individual solution of systemic contradictions” are all lacking. And these are precisely the preconditions for a democratic society. Russia over time may be influenced from the outside, Inozemtsev says, but he concludes that he does “not see any reason to suppose that Russia will be able to become a democracy as long as the main legislative, judicial and executive decisions continue to be taken [only] in Moscow.”
Paul Goble Staunton, February 27 – Vladimir Putin’s frontal attack against the non-Russian nations within the borders of the Russian Federation by eliminating the requirement that people who live in the republics study the language of the titular nationality has attracted widespread attention and condemnation by many non-Russians. But another tactic the Kremlin is employing has not: cutting off the two major language groups with ties to important co-ethnic countries abroad and promoting Russian rather than any other common language at meetings nominally devoted to promoting these groups, a “hybrid” attack designed to reduce these nations to Russian ethnic groups. As Ramazan Alpaut of the IdelReal portal points out, this approach was very much in evidence at the just-completed Fourth Festival of Turkic Youth in Kazan where the Turkic peoples of Russia were represented but not Turkey and where the common language being promoted wasn’t Turkic but Russian (idelreal.org/a/29063142.html). The meeting attracted some 70 participants from the following Turkic peoples — the Chuvash, the Kazakhs, the Kryashens, the Bashkirs, the Nogays, the Balkars, the Karachays, the Kumyks, the Kyrgyz, the Altays, and the Crimean Tatars – and had as its common language Russian. As a result, its sessions sent three messages: First, these groups should think of themselves not as part of a common Turkic world but as members of a more limited “Russian Turkic” one. Second, they should use Russian rather than any common Turkic tongue. And third, they should identify as ethnic groups rather than as ethno-territorial nations. Not only does that set the stage for the reduction in their status from nations to ethnic groups, using the notions of the Stalinist paradigm that still defines much of the thinking in Moscow, but it also is designed to set the stage for the destruction of the non-Russian republics and for the reduction of these proud nations to the status of Russian-speaking ethnic groups. Alpaut argues that the occasion for this shift was the cooling of relations between Moscow and Ankara after Turkey’s downing of a Russian plane, an event that led to the breaking off of most contacts between the two countries. Since then, Moscow has worked to keep Turkic groups inside Russia and the CIS isolated from Turkey because of its views that Ankara will always pursue a pan-Turkic agenda. But how far Moscow is prepared to go, he continues, is suggested by what he calls “the Finno-Ugric precedent,” the set of policies the Russian government has pursued to prevent Russia’s numerous Finno-Ugric nations from falling into the orbit of the three independent Finno-Ugric countries, Finland, Hungary and Estonia. In the 1990s, the three Finno-Ugric countries created a set of institutions to reach out to Finno-Ugric groups inside the then more open Russian Federation. In response, Moscow created duplicate ones limited to the Finno-Ugrics of Russia and intended both to enhance Russian control and to allow Moscow to use these against the three Finno-Ugric states. As offensive weapons, the Moscow-organized groups largely failed; but they did promote the use of Russian rather than the Finno-Ugric languages and the notion that these peoples were not nations which should have their own territories but rather ethnic groups which do not merit such things. Partially as a result of this approach, the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian Federation have suffered a significant decline in the percentage of their members who speak their national languages – although the retention of ethnic identity even among new Russian-only speakers is high testifying to the importance of these nations for their members. It seems clear, Alpaut concludes, that the Turkic peoples face a similar “hybrid” attack now and can hardly count on Moscow to help them survive as nations.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 25 – As with the Germans in the 20th century, Russian views on their country’s “special path” oscillate between the notion they are particularly good and should promote their approach and a sign that they are especially bad and must repent before God and the world, according to a new book by two Higher School of Economics scholars. This sets Germany and Russia apart from the many countries which view themselves as having “a special path,” Timur Atnashev and Mikhail Velizhev say in Special Path: From Ideology to Method (in Russian, Moscow, 2018) (meduza.io/feature/2018/02/25/russkie-ideologi-stali-govorit-ob-isklyuchitelnosti-svoey-natsii-vsled-za-nemtsami). It contributes to a certain apocalypticism and uncertainty about the future, they argue in the course of an interview with Taisiya Bekbulatova of the Meduza news agency in which they focus in particular on the ways in which ideas about a special path for Russia both shape and are exploited by the country’s political elite. The book, which consists of six papers presented at a Moscow conference seven years ago and six at another in Oxford six years ago, they argue, is extremely topical because “it helps us understand ceretain important processes which are taking place with us today,” including the new notions about “the state and national elect status of Russia” the Kremlin is pushing. Russians have been talking about a special path, either positive or negative, since Napoleonic times, they say, viewing Russia’s distinctiveness as given by God or history and therefore to be celebrated or as a curse self-inflicted or otherwise that has left Russia behind and that must be overcome. During perestroika, they argue, such “historiosophic language” became “one of the main means for understanding and discussing things in the public space that was coming into existence. This language forms political philosophy as a special instrument of public reflection and polemic.” It was all about comparing Russia with others and concluding that it was either better or worse than they, Atnashev and Velizhev say. And “crudely speaking,” the two suggest, such a metaphor enjoys enormous popularity when politics passes from a closed circle of people to a broader one, especially if the country has as Russia does a tradition of defining itself this way. For Orthodox Christians, “Russia is the only remaining Orthodox empire, and therefore it has a special fate, a special path and a special historical mission.” For others, “the Soviet empire” played the same role, albeit sometimes in a positive sense and sometimes otherwise, because “there never was and never will be anything like it in the world.” In both cases, a certain religious habit of mind plays a role; and that is why today, some support a special path for Russia based on the restoration of traditional values “because if suddenly and it will always come suddenly, there is the Final Judgment and history ends, we” but not others “will be saved.” This can serve as “a compensation mechanism” that explains and even celebrates Russia’s backwardness compared to other states in economic terms. Indeed, for some Russians, “the worse things are in a certain sense for us, the better.” And it feeds into another widely held metaphor about the nation. The idea of a special course implies that Russia is a young nation rather than an older one and that its time of flourishing is ahead rather than behind as is the case with the West, the two scholars say. And it can be used to justify focusing on morality rather than on economic modernization and development. Those are secondary issues. Moreover, the idea of a special path for Russia feeds off popular “resentment” about the end of the Soviet empire. “We have returned to a pre-revolutionary situation,” they argue, one in which there is no other clear way to “justify and calm” ourselves except for insisting that we are different. For many Russians, the metaphor of a special path is above all “a means for preserving a positive image of the self,” even when it flips and suggests that the special path is a negative one, as happened in Germany after 1945 and for some Russians after the death of Stalin and the end of the Soviet system. Over time, they suggest, considering these commonalities can help Russians escape from the constant oscilation between a harsh negative and a strictly positive special course and “come to an understanding of themselves in the world as having a choice of many paths, not one of which is completely unique in either a good or bad way. And such research may lead to an even deeper understanding that using the term “path” as a metaphor invariably excludes using other metaphors medical, biological or otherwise that may prove to be more useful for Russia or any other country as it passes through various historical stages.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 27 – Moscow analysts have been on a rollercoaster about Donald Trump ever since he was against their expectations elected in November 2016. Initially, many of them expected a golden age of Russian-American cooperation. Then, they decided he lacked the power to oppose anti-Russian groups in the US and might even be impeached. Now, ever more of them are suggesting that Trump’s own “America first” nationalism is driving Washington’s foreign policy, that he has rebuilt his standing inside the US to the point that some are predicting he’ll be re-elected in 2020, and that Moscow must be prepared for an unpredictable but often hostile US for the next six years. That new consensus in Russian thinking is well-reflected in interview Sergey Karaganov, one of Moscow’s most respected geopolitical thinkers, gave to Argumenty i fakty several weeks ago that was republished today in the influential journal, Russia in World Affairs (globalaffairs.ru/pubcol/Vtoroi-srok-Donalda-Trampa-vpolne-realen-19387). “Trump is winning,” the Moscow commentator says. “It is already common ground that he will not be removed and that he is beginning to push his own agenda in both domestic and foreign policy. That agenda pleases a significant part of Americans, and Trump’s ratings … have stabilized despite the wild hysteria in the American media.” According to Karagannov, Trump “has every chance not only to work to the end of his first term but to have a second. In the worst case, he could put in his place his daughter Ivanka. I’m joking,” the Moscow analyst says, “but in every joke as they say, there is only a dollop of joking.” Trump has adjusted to America’s diminished status in the world by promoting “limited involvement without obligations,” Karaganov says. This requires special forces but is relatively inexpensive. The military like it, they and the military-industrial complex are part of his base, and he supports this approach. According to the Moscow commentator, “strategy doesn’t lie: [Russia and the US] really are competitors but we are not opponents, although a significant part of the old liberal elite of the US considers us enemies. Trump is attached to a healthier conception;” and no one directly challenged what he has outlined in his national security strategy. To be sure, Karaganov continues, “Trump’s America is extremely aggressive and imperialistic. But which is an America which above all is concerned not about global values but about its own interests. It is understandable, and it can and must be contained, and in some places, one may event try to reach agreements with it.” One should not expect an improvement in Russian-American relations anytime soon, he says. “Trump would like to develop relations with us, but he sees that this will give him an enormous number of minuses and very few pluses from the point of view of his domestic situation. Therefore, he has put this task off.” In thinking about Russia’s relationship with the US, he continues, Moscow must recognize that improving ties with Trump would require above all Russia distancing itself from China.” And at present, “relations with China are orders of magnitudes more important than those with the US.” According to Karagannov, “confrontation with the US is going to last a long time. Its main cause consists in the fact that the Americans have finally understood that they have lost military supremacy and that Russia and its nuclear weapons, which limit the possibilities of the US to impose its policy on the world, is to blame.” Another reason for the deterioration of ties is that the American elite “has lost control over its own population as a result of which Trump came to power. They want to restore this control by any means possible and in the first instance by control over social media.” Russia can be useful as a scarecrow for them. “And whatever we do, nothing will change. The only means for Russia to radically improve relations with America is to fall apart and disappear. But since this isn’t in our plans, then there are no particular prospects for improvement,” Karaganov concludes.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 26 – The rise of terrorists who act on their own rather than as part of a larger organization reflects “a deep crisis of armed Islamist political movements,” Nikolay Silayev says; “but this crisis does not give any basis for optimism” because the methods Moscow has used against terrorism in the past don’t work against it and the regime has no new ones. In a commentary for this week’s Ekspert magazine that has been given broader distribution by Interfax, the Caucasus security specialist at MGIMO says that the attack on the Kizlyar church shows that “Russia has not avoided what ISIS ideologists call ‘autonomous jihad” and faces more of it in the future (interfax-religion.ru/?act=print&div=20528). The distinguishing feature of individual terrorist acts, Silayev says, is “doubts about the nature of the events” themselves. Are they the result of terrorism or are they the product of insanity, drugs, or the misfortunes of an individual. “The final interpretation comes from an outside source” not from the authors of the acts. In that, “’autonomous jihad’” is like the school shootings in the United States. They appear irrational and obsessed with violence as such; and they arise, the MGIMO scholar suggests, because of the images of violence that appear on television or the Internet not because of any specific ideological program or organization. “’The Arab spring,’” the scholar argues, “was the latest failure of political Islam,” perhaps the largest and most violence because history gives only very rarely such an opportunity for groups like ISIS and the others to emerge. Their cruelty is sometimes held to be their worst crime. But “the problem isn’t in cruelty: many other major political and ideological projects have brought many more victims, as for example, communism. Their problem is in t heir total lack of success.” If they succeeded, people would forget the number of their victims just as they have forgotten Mao’s mad economic experiments. “The Islamist political project,” however, “again and again has produced innumerable victims” but has been “incapable of consolidating power and establishing anything stable on a specific territory as the Bolsheviks did succeed in doing in the early 1920s,” Silayev continues. (He argues that Iran is not an exception to this rule.) From the point of view of individual marginal figures like the shooter in the Daghestani church, this failure is irrelevant; the violence itself is enough. And that makes these individual actions beyond the reach of the strategy and tactics the Russian authorities have used to deal with Islamist movements up to now. Russian military operations in Syria are “extremely unpopular among Russian followers of Islamic political movement,” the scholar continues. “This doesn’t mean that they all sympathize with ISIS. On the contrary, ‘the political shades’ in Russian Islam are many and the extreme radicals occupy far from the largest part of this spectrum.” “However, the restoration of the state order in Syria means the collapse of the largest attempt at ‘Islamic revolution’ in recent years;” and that in turn ‘weakens the negotiating position of all activists of political Islam independent of their level of radicalness.” They no longer can speak on behalf of a successful project. Moscow’s approach to the struggle with terrorism under the banner of Islam “in recent decades was comparatively simple,” Silayev says. It was based on the idea of attracting to the Russian side “moderate Islamic political activists and preachers,” isolating the radicals, and attacking them using the police and special services. Despite all the variations over time and in space, “terrorism has been considered as a political problem for which a political solution must be found.” In the North Caucasus, the regime created re-adaptation commissions for former radicals and orchestrated the appearance of anti-terrorist fetwas and homilies from its allies in the Muslim spiritual directorates (MSDs). Four developments are forcing a change: the departure of ever more radicals from the North Caucasus to the Middle East, the growing power of the state, a recognition that talking with moderates does nothing to discourage radicals, and the fact that Islamic issues increasingly set the agenda in the civic space of the North Caucasus. But most important, there is a recognition that for Russia, the terrorist threat is coming not from the North Caucasus as before but from migrants from Central Asia, “an entirely different problem and not a domestic but an international one.” But now in the Caucasus, there has emerged a new terrorist threat, one that is the work of individuals not groups. And that means, Silayev says, “that the problem will consist not in securing the loyalty of influential Islamic leaders and their supporters but in not permitting the isolation and ghettoization of Islamic communities,” something that the earlier efforts to build ties with moderate Muslims didn’t discourage but promoted. Moderate Islam is now setting the agenda in many parts of the North Caucasus because Russian policy encouraged that, failing to see that this has “increased the distance between Muslims and the rest of the population of the country.” Even moderate Muslims oppose “voluntary assimilation,” and they are able to do so. “The institutions of voluntary assimilation” in the North Caucasus “are weak,” the MGIMO scholar says. When the defense ministry suspended the draft in the region a few years ago to solve a temporary problem, it created a larger one by depriving Moscow of an important means of integrating the Muslims of the region. Moreover, “extra-ethnic and extra-confessional forms of solidarity such as local self-administration, unions and political parties are to put it mildly not at their best and often are under suspicion from the bureaucracy.” Until that changes, Silayev suggests, Moscow is going to face problems in the North Caucasus. The task now, he argues in conclusion “is not to pacify Islamic activists but to create broad mechanisms of civic participation which can deprive confessional splits of their current political importance.”
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As Vladimir Putin runs for another term as president of Russia, there is a generation of voters who have never known another leader. We profile some Russian millennials.
A Russian court has sentenced the head of a construction company to 12 years in prison after convicting him of wrongdoing during the construction of the country’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 23 – One of Ronald Reagan’s greatest contributions to the overthrow of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union was his identification of the USSR as “the evil empire,” a term that outraged Moscow but inspired many within its borders and prompted those beyond its borders to talk about decolonization as something inevitable. Now, Nikki Haley, the US permanent representative to the United States, has introduced a term that has outraged Russian officialdom every bit as much Reagan’s words did. She has referred the government in Moscow as “Putin’s regime,” a turn of phrase that lumps it together with those of Kim in North Korea and Asad in Syria. Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebemzya was outraged. “In Russia, there isn’t a regime,” he responded angrily; there is instead “a lawfully elected president and an appointed government.” What is striking, Konstantin Gaaze observes, is that the Russian diplomat didn’t react to Russia being lumped together with them as “the axis of evil.” According to the Russian commentator, the reason lies in the clash “between the political languages of the West and of present-day Russia. For Haley, a regime is a legal term; for Nebenzya, as for the entire Russian leadership, it is a political and theological one” (mbk.media/sences/on-nam-rezhim-kak/). Philosophers have been classifying governments since Aristotle’s time, but the word “regime,” Haaze says, “appeared in the late Medieval period” to designate not governments but rather personal behaviors such as diet. It was extended to governments only after the French Revolution when people began to refer to the Ancien Regime. Marx and Engels used it in that sense as well, and in Soviet times, “Stalin frequently used this term” both about the arrangements powers made for others and about the specific form of a government in place but not the entire system. In 1947, for example, the Soviet leader made the distinction between system and regime. A system, he said, included economics and was the foundation, while “a regime is only a temporary and political phenomenon.” According to Gaaze, “negative connotations began to attach to the term ‘regime’ in the second half of the 20th century,” both in Western and Soviet political thought albeit “for different reasons.” In the Soviet Union, the Kremlin referred to unfriendly post-colonial states as regimes, usually adding the adjective “puppet” or pro-American” to it. By objecting to Haley’s use of the term regime for Russia, Nebenzya was doing no more than his Soviet predecessors had, insisting that Putin’s regime is neither “temporary” or “a puppet” of someone else. Haley in contrast, “when talking about ‘the Putin regime, had in mind something entirely different. She was talking not about a deficit of legitimacy or about the absence of sovereignty.” Rather the reverse. She and other diplomats who have now used that term wanted to “stress two things.” First, for them, a regime is “a group which has power but which has separated itself from the international community and acts against its interests.” And second, and even more important for them, such a group of people “acts exclusively in its own interests” and “against the objective interests of its own country.” “The conclusion,” Gaaze says, “is that the rulers do this exclusively in their own interests. Kim Jong-un, Bashar Asad and Vladimir Putin above all want to rule and keep power and only then do something useful for North Korea, Syria or Russia.” That is very difficult for Nebenzya to understand because already for a long time, Russian writers have argued that the interests of Putin and the interests of Russia are one in the same thing. Instead, they have suggested that without Putin, Russia would not exist and that if he disappeared, so too would Russia “as a subject of world politics.” Haley’s words represent an indictment of the Russian state; and they show that the US ambassador “is thinking about the interests of the Russian people more than Nebenzya is: Regimes come and go,” her words imply, “but Russia remains and therefore to put all the blame on Russia and not on the Putin regime would be an exaggeration.” And her words contain a message for Russians: it is entirely legitimate to “distance oneself from the policies” of the Putin regime which are “harmful for the interests of their motherland.” Putin is not Russia, she suggests; and Russia is not Putin.
Russian food exports are skyrocketing thanks to the world’s appetite for the country’s wheat.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 22 — Moscow’s extremely harsh response to Kazakhstan’s decision to shift from a Cyrillic-based script to a Latin-based alphabet obscures the fact that the state cult around Cyrillic is a relatively recent development and only took its current form under Vladimir Putin, according to Roman Bagdasarov. In today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, the historian points out that alphabets always trail the spoken language and that “the periodic reforming of language is natural,” although because of the role of the state in education, it is something that is invariably “politicized” (ng.ru/kartblansh/2018-02-22/3_7178_kartblansh.html). Over the course of Russian history, Bagdasarov says, “language reform has marked the change of the state system: the secularization of the alphabet under Petr I, the shock linguistic construction in the USSR, and finally, the transformation of Cyrillic into a (so far) unofficial symbol of present-day Russian statehood alongside the official flag, hymn and coat of arms.” Among the state-supported celebrations that mark this latest development, he continues, are the establishment of May 24th as the Day of Slavic Writing and Culture, various campaigns against the Latin script as now regarding Kazakhstan, and the legal specification of Cyrillic as the alphabet not only of Russia but of its republics in 2002. In many ways, Bagdasarov says, “the most surprising” event is the Day of Slavic First Teachers Kirill and Mefodius, who “according to the overwhelming opinion of scholars invented not Cyrillic but Glagolithic, which is used today by the Croatian Greek Catholics [only] on very big holidays.” This “state cult of the Cyrilllic alphabet and its transformation into one of the bindings [of the Russian people] is an invention of the late Soviet period,” the scholar continues. Yes, the tsarist administration limited the use of the Latin script, but it more than tolerated the use of the Latin script for French in which many documents were written. “Russian apologists of Cyrillic are not inclined to remember that the texts of the classics of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th centuries were written in another orthography, and its sovietization became an intentional change of the ‘bourgeois’ cultural heritage and its ‘worker-peasant’ adaptation.” For many Russians now, however, this “Sovietized Cyrillic script is viewed almost as a civilizational code.” The situation in Kazakhstan is completely the opposite, Bagdasarov says. “For this country as for the majority of other Turkic language countries, the symbol of state and ‘civilizational’ sovereignty has become the Roman alphabet (the Latin script).” That is because, he continues, “if there is a Russian world, then there is also a Turkic world: If someone wants to revive the unity of Slavic peoples, then why should Turkic peoples not think about their unity – all the more so since this unity in the 1920s was part of the conception of the nationality policy of the Country of the Soviets.” “If someone were to decide to create a Day of Turkic Writing and Culture, then undoubtedly it would become November 1, 1928, when the parliament of the Republic of Turkey unanimously voted fore a law on the transition from Arabic to the Roman alphabet,” a step that played “a decisive role for the new Turkic alphabets for the Turkic peoples of the Soviet Union. After having promoted this shift to the Latin script for the Turkic peoples within its borders in order to “justify aggression toward its neighbors, “the Bolsheviks in the mid-1930s became convinced that they couldn’t control these processes” and imposed Cyrillic-based scripts on the languages of these peoples. (The only case where Moscow’s early promotion or tolerance of the Latin script had any positive consequences from its point of view, Bagdasarov says, was with in Karelia where the Finnish language was written in Latin script and this fact used as “a propaganda argument” during the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940.) A major reason why Moscow has been against the use of Latin script by the Turkic peoples both within Russia and within the former Soviet space is that the Latin script makes them more similar one to another and thus promotes horizontal ties. The Cyrillic scripts Moscow imposed promoted distinctions which are quickly lost with the Latin. The efforts of the Kazan Tatars to move to Latin script in the 1990s were blocked, and today, only Karelian is written in the Latin script, one of the reasons why it is “the only language of the titular ethnos of a republic that has not been given state status.” Crimean Tatar in the occupied Ukrainian peninsula is now written in a Cyrillic-based script. Alphabets are closely tied to the issue of disappearing languages, Bagdasarov says. If the Turkic peoples or the Finno-Ugric peoples could establish common scripts, something they could easily do with Latin-based alphabets, they would have a better chance of survival. But so far, he says with apparent regret, no one is focusing on that possibility.
Separate fires at residential buildings and houses claimed at least 15 lives across Russia in the last 24 hours, local news agencies report.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 24 – The killing of five Orthodox Christian women by a Muslim youth in Kizlyar on February 18 has attracted new attention to the small Russian Orthodox community in Daghestan, its role as a protector of the ethnic Russians there, and its relations with both the civil authorities and various Muslim groups. The Meduza news agency dispatched Sasha Sulim, one of its correspondents, to intervene key players in that North Caucasus republic as well as experts on religious affairs in the North Caucasus more generally. His report provides an unusually intriguing picture of what has been going on (meduza.io/feature/2018/02/24/ne-obzyvayte-drug-druga-neveruyuschimi). Sulim spoke first with Father Pavel, aged 29, who serves as the pastor of the Russian church where the attack occurred as well as a pastor for one of the other two Orthodox congregations in Kizlyar. He called that city “an outpost of Orthodoxy” in Daghestan because it is the republic’s most Russian city: 40 percent of 50,000 residents are ethnic Russians. “My task,” the priest says, “is to support these people so that they will not feel abandoned by others, will understand that the church is at their sides, and that the Lord will not leave anyone. Between 150 and 180 parishioners of Kizlyar’s three Orthodox churches attend services each week. After the attack on the church, he reported, local police have stood guard at the entrances of all the Orthodox churches in Daghestan and held meetings with Russian parishioners. One of them said that “even in Soviet times, when religion was prohibited, there were more people in church on holidays.” “In the 1990s,” he continued, “a very large number of ethnic Russians left Daghestan. There was simply no one left to go to church. They left because of economic difficulties and also because non-Russian clans more or less blocked their being hired or promoted in most local institutions. Roman Lunkin, the head of the center for the study of religion and society at the Moscow Institute of Europe, said that in the early 1990s, Orthodox began to revive in Daghestan but that trend was overwhelmed by the outflow of ethnic Russians and then stopped altogether. Local Muslims viewed the Russians as being “’on the other side of the barricades.’” Archbishop Varlaam of Makhachkala and Grozny also remembers the 1990s as a difficult time. Then he was pastor at a church in Ingushetia. He said that it once happened that a Muslim shot a Russian family but that the reasons behind that action were not religious, although he didn’t elaborate. The Makhachkala bishopric, formed in 2012, includes Dagehstan, Chechnya and Ingushetia; and Orthodoxy got a second wind, although the archbishop said he wouldn’t call it a revival but rather a period during which “Orthodoxy began to occupy a more solid place in the Daghestan system of power” and developed ties with local Muslim and Jewish groups. Valaam added that the Russian community in Daghestan is still at risk and that “if the state doesn’t help it, then it will be very hard for the Russians to survive here. He said there are about 60,000 Russians in Daghestan, 2,000 in Ingushetia and 10,000 in Chechnya. Unfortunately, their number and the number of parishioners are both falling. Lunkin says that “neither now nor at the end of the 1990s or beginning of the 2000s did the Russian Orthodox Church seek to spread the Christian faith to the indigenous peoples of Daghestan. Its main goal was the consolidation and support of the ethnic Russian population.” Protestant groups, however, were active in missionary work. Paradoxically, the Moscow scholar continues, “the Kizlyar tragedy has strengthened the position of Orthodoxy in the region” because it has led to closer cooperation between the church and Islam and between both and the state agencies. And it has further isolated the Wahhabis whom many associate with extremism. But these events have highlighted something else: the rapid growth of Salafi Muslims in the republic. Sulim spoke with Imam Nimatulla Radzhabov of the so-called Salafi Tangim Mosque in Makhachakala. In 1999, it had about 400 parishioners. Now, it attracts 5,000 on holidays and “about 3,000” every week. The police closely monitor its activities, Radzhabov says. Indeed, the men in uniform call the mosque “the chicken which lays the golden eggs,” in this case, not really eggs, but golden stars for their shoulder boards.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 22 – A new Levada Center poll showing that Russians currently associate the Cheka and KGB more with the defense of the state than with state terrorism reflects many things, sociologists say, but one of the most important, Denis Volkov says, is that the current regime has suppressed those who have criticized these organizations in the past. The share of Russians who associate the Cheka with political terror and repressions has fallen in the new poll to 12 percent, down from 23 percent in a 1997 survey. Instead, the share viewing the organs as legitimate defenders of the state has grown (levada.ru/2018/02/22/k-100-letiyu-tajnoj-politsii/), prompting questions as to why this trend has occurred. Levada Center sociologist Denis Volkov suggests that this development is connected “with the general increase in the legitimacy of the state and force structures after the Crimean referendum and the war in Syria, the absence of criticism of the work of the special services on TV and the overwhelmingly positive image of Chekists in films and television programs” (rbc.ru/politics/21/02/2018/5a8d59f49a79471a70e186ba?from=main). In his view, the state hasn’t come up with “a complex program about improving the imge of the special services,” but what it has done is to put pressure on those organizations which are involved with the history of political repressions.” In 2014, for example, it listed Memorial as a foreign agent, limiting its influence among many Russians. Nikolay Mironov, the head of the Moscow Center for Economic and Political Reforms, suggests that the increasing approval for what the organs did in Soviet times reflects a growing demand among Russians for order and justice. But he argues that “the theme of repressions has not exhausted itself: many view the Soviet punitive system negatively and don’t want it back. And Leonty Byzov of the Moscow Institute of Sociology says that the new attitudes are nothing more than “the typical syndrome of defensive consciousness.” By a margin of two to one, Russians blame their problems on foreigners rather than anyone else, the result of propaganda about the country being “a fortress besieged by enemies.” In that environment, any institution that fought foreign agents is going to be viewed more positively; but that hardly speaks to a long term or irreversible change.
Exxon Mobil Corp has cited U.S. and European sanctions against Russia in announcing that it is abandoning its joint ventures with Russian state-run oil giant Rosneft.
A deepwater exploration agreement with the state-run oil company Rosneft was once one of Exxon’s most promising agreements.
Download the Brief The Issue In 2014 Russia’s national oil champion, Rosneft, was hit by the twin shocks of a global oil price collapse and Western economic sanctions. The company has surprised many in overcoming these constraints and by aggressively expanding its international business.
The BBG is claiming success. Despite Russian attempts to fence off news from the outside world, we are seeing truth and facts seeping into Russia. What I do not see, however, are facts from the BBG. Raw numbers of people reached, percentage increases or decreases, Measurements of Effectiveness or Measurements of Impact. I met with the…
A top Wall Street credit agency has raised Russia’s credit rating by a notch, lifting it out of “junk” territory to reflect what it said was Russia’s improving economy and budgetary restraint.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 26 – One of the most unfortunate aspects of Western research on Russia is that most people examining that country have ignored new information on little known events in Soviet times despite the ways in which new reports shed light on how that system operated and on how its successors function as well. The last few days have brought articles containing new information about three intriguing events: a planned revolt by an OGPU officer against the system his organization helped maintain, risings by Western Belarusians forced into the ranks of the Soviet Army at the end of World War II, and the largest ever revolt by GULAG political prisoners at Vorkutlag in 1942. Even a Chekist Can Rebel against the Chekist State Any “individual who stands up against the system in a totalitarian state is doomed,” the editors of the Taiga news service say; “but what if this individual is not a simple mortal but an officer of the special services?” That happened in 1933 in the Altay (http://tayga.info/139082, using barnaul.fm/2018/02/20/vosstanie-altajskogo-chekista/ http://tayga.info/139082). In Stalin’s times, Mikhail Kleymyonov, an OGPU officer who was a native of Altay Kray, was so horrified by the fabrication of cases, torture, and mass executions carried out by his colleagues that he began to plan an uprising against Soviet power in the Troitsk and Biisk districts where he had relatives and many friends. He chose as X hour August 1, 1933. He assembled a small group of people of similar mind; and they began to prepare for an armed uprising. Unfortunately, one of them appears to have been betrayed. And Kleymyonov was forced to flee into China where his OGPU comrades assumed he would stay. But instead, he changed his name and returned to the USSR settling in Alma-Ata. Still unhappy with what he saw around him, he decided in 1948 to flee to Iran or Turkey. Unfortunately for him, he was caught by the Ministry for State Security which viewed his arrest as a great victory because they were certain that Kleymyonov has “long ago fled to the Chinese” and was beyond their reach. They dispatched him the GULAG, but he remained alive. And in 1960, after his release, he appealed for rehabilitation arguing that he was horrified by what Stalinists had done but that he personally had committed no crimes against the Soviet people. Despite Khrushchev being in the midst of his anti-Stalin campaign, Kleymyonov’s request was refused. But his case suggests that there were more angry Chekists than the standard histories indicate and that at least some of them were prepared to take things into their own hands. Belarusians Revolted When Forced into Soviet Army In order to fill the depleted ranks of Red Army units in 1945, commanders drafted people from the local population in the western borderlands. Among them were many Western Belarusians who did not want to fight for the USSR and hoped that they could become Poles and Polish soldiers. To that end, some of them revolted against their officers. “By the spring of 1945, a significant part of such newly minted soldiers consisted of people from Western Belarus, a territory which during the war was for a long time under the Germans,” Russian historians say, adding that SMERSH concluded that these men did not want to fight for Moscow (russian7.ru/post/bunt-v-krasnoy-armii-v-marte-1945-goda-chto-p/). Many of these people considered themselves to be Poles and “were convinced that Western Belarus should be given to Poland;” and they wanted to serve in the Polish army which was suffering significantly smaller losses than were units of the Red Army nearby. The center of the revolt was the 34th Division, and its soldiers revolted on March 23. They locked up their officers, seized guns, and deserted in large numbers. When the Soviet security services restored order, they concluded that disaffection among the Belarusians was so great that the only solution was to send these soldiers to distant parts of the Soviet Union even though that reduced the size of the Soviet attacking forces. Political Prisoners Lead a Mass Revolt in Vorkutlag, Make Plans to Seize Entire Region The largest revolt in GULAG history was led by political prisoners allied with free workers in the Lesoreid camp in the Komi ASSR in January 1942. They worked closely with a civilian worker named Retyunin for whom the uprising has been named and who was clever enough to get weapons (russian7.ru/post/retyuninskoe-vosstanie-pervyy-myatezh-z/). On the first day of the rising, the prisoners led by Retyunin overpowered the guards, cut the camp off from the outside world, and started to march toward civilian facilities like the town and airport. The security forces didn’t know what happened until after everything began, and they were located in the wrong places to stop things immediately. Once it became obvious how serious the revolt was, the Soviet security police brought in heavy weapons and gave battle. Forty-two prisoners and free employees who joined them were killed; but so too were 33 guards. Once the revolt was suppressed, 68 people were charged with violating Soviet laws, and 50 were sentenced to death. The point in each of these cases is not that they succeeded but that they acted at all, something many histories of the Stalin period have ignored. Indeed, suggestions that Russians and especially politicals bowed to the authorities at that time abound, even in the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Such views were demolished in an important if little known pamphlet published by an émigré writer in 1974. Entitled How We Submitted and written by Yury Srechinsky, he called attention to many cases in which Russians as well as non-Russians revolted even if they were doomed to fail. Information about such resistance is becoming more available if not always widely attended to. Recently, Moscow commentator Andrey Illarionov compiled a list of more than 210 revolts by Soviet citizens against Soviet power that were not part of the Civil War (echo.msk.ru/blog/aillar/2003620-echo/). Illarionov concedes that even his list is incomplete. The three cases mentioned here are the tip of a very large iceberg, one that should encourage those who believe that the Russians and non-Russians can resist and rise up even against the most fearful opponents and that should at the same time frighten those who think they can rule by fear and intimidation alone.
All of the Soviet Union’s Academy Award Winning Films are Legally and Freely Available Online In 2011, Mosfilm, the biggest production company in USSR, which continues to dominate the industry in independent Russia, opened ‘a treasure trove of Soviet films’ by uploading a collection of dozens of classics on YouTube for anyone to watch for…
A celebration of classic haunts where the spirits of the old regimes still often sleep
Residents of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Ingushetia are commemorating the victims of the wartime Soviet deportation of Ingush and Chechens from the North Caucasus.
Although the communist Soviet Union’s (1922-1992) official ideology derided America’s capitalist film industry, it submitted films to their Academy Award (also known as the ‘Oscars’) competition for Best Foreign Language Film between 1963 and 1991. Three films actually won the award. In 2011, Mosfilm, the biggest production company in USSR, which continues to dominate the industry in independent Russia, opened ‘a treasure trove of Soviet films’ by uploading a collection of dozens of classics on YouTube for anyone to watch for free. While the interface of the Mosfilm archive is in Russian only, most of these films have been published with English subtitles, and over the years subtitles in other languages such as Spanish, Turkish or Serbian has been added to some of them. Among these classics are many of the 24 Soviet Oscar submissions, including quite a few of the nominees. Global Voices presents all three Soviet Academy Award winners for your viewing pleasure (especially recommended for a weekend viewing).
It’s no secret that Siberia’s permafrost is on thin ice. Conditions are varying so much that huge holes are appearing out of nowhere, and, in some places, tundra is quite literally bubbling underneath people’s feet.
Russia-imposed Crimean authorities have not officially commented on the detentions.
Three members of the Russian Pussy Riot punk protest band have been detained in the Russia-annexed Crimea region.
A leading member of the Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, has been detained in Russian-occupied Crimea for the second time in two days.
Several large cities in annexed Crimea were left without electricity. The local head of the Russian Ministry for emergency situations reported …
A court in Russian-controlled Crimea has handed a suspended sentence of two years to a Crimean Tatar activist who opposes Moscow’s rule over the Ukrainian region.
A prosecutor in Russian-controlled Crimea has asked a court to sentence a Crimean Tatar activist who opposes Moscow’s rule over the Ukrainian region to a suspended sentence of three years.
The Kremlin says the number of medals won by Russian athletes at the Winter Olympics shows that the country was successful at the competition in South Korea.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has voted to maintain the Russia team ban at the Olympics, meaning its athletes will not be able to march under the national flag at the closing ceremony i…
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has lifted the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) after determining that no further Russian athletes tested positive for doping at the just-…
Evgenia Medvedeva provided one of the Games’ most powerful moments and hopes to help her country regain credibility.
Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeyeva has been banned from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after failing a doping test, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on February 24.
U.S. and Czech teams will boycott an International Biathlon Union event scheduled next month in a Russian city because of concern that Russia has not remedied doping violations that led to its ban …
Central Asia / Caucasus Reports
The European Union says the death of a Georgian man in the breakaway region of South Ossetia and the detention of two others is a “source of grave concern.”
A Tajik family of six left for Iraq to fight for the Islamic State extremist group, but only one would live through the experience. Now the 10-year-old survivor’s grandparents are seeking her return.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 25 – It is one of the tragedies of what Robert Conquest called the “ravaged” 20th century that some place names have come to stand for horrific actions against various human communities. No one needs to ask what happened at Auschwitz or at Birkenau. The name is enough to recall the horrors that occurred there. Even more tragically, the number of such places is far larger than the Nazi or Communist death camps or even the attacks of governments on peaceful demonstrators. But in all too many cases, the name is meaningful only for a small part of humanity, although for it, that name is enough. One such place name is Khojaly, an Azerbaijani village in Karabakh, that 26 years ago this week was attacked by ethnic Armenian irregular forces supported by Russian units. Hundreds of men, women and children were massacred, according to Memorial, Human Rights Watch and other groups; and some Azerbaijanis say casualties totaled more than 600. For most of the world, this is now ancient history; and when the media do refer to it at all, they call it the Khojaly massacre, contextualizing it with the Azerbaijani attacks on Armenians at Sumgait. But for Azerbaijanis, it remains the Khojaly genocide, an action that Armenians and Russians have not yet acknowledged and that few governments have denounced. For the Azerbaijanis, it remains “a bleeding wound,” commentator Asif Aliyev writes for the QHA news agency, whose perpetrators have apparently concluded that they will never be held accountable for their actions, something that makes them and others who share their views even bolder now (qha.com.ua/ru/blogi/hodjali-krovotochaschaya-rana-azerbaidjana/188079/). Other Azerbaijanis say that the horrors of the night of February 25-26, 1992, in Khojaly must “never be forgotten.” They certainly won’t be and until that it recognized and the event itself denounced and those responsible brought to justice, there is little chance that the Karabakh conflict will ever be resolved (fedpress.ru/news/russia/policy/1970098). Obviously, there have been many horrific events in the more than a quarter of a century that Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at war; and equally obviously, some benefit from having that conflict continue and even having some of the crimes involved forgotten in the name of “looking forward rather than backward.” But until Khojaly speaks not only to Azerbaijanis but to Armenians, Russians and everyone else as a place where horrors occurred that must never be repeated, there is a great danger than they will be; and there is a certainty that little or no progress toward a settlement of that long-running conflict will be possible.
The United States has arrested the son of a former Kyrgyz ambassador to Washington on charges including firearms trafficking and smuggling.
Georgian authorities say they are working to repatriate the body of a Georgian man who died after being detained by the de facto authorities in the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia.
Lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament have overwhelmingly passed a motion recognizing as “genocide” the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
The banning of a Turkish TV series that angered Muslim leaders in Uzbekistan is seen as part of a wider effort by President Shavkat Mirziyoev to take a new approach on Islam — at least toward moderate Muslims.
A Belarusian vlogger has attracted the attention of the authorities after posting a video that pokes fun at President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Transnistria / Moldova Reports
Moldovan TV channel fined for broadcasting Russian news
Foreign Policy Reports
Rob Cameron travels to meet Jan Sarkocy, formerly Agent Dymic, who met the Labour MP in the 1980s.
Labour leader denies being communist informant and issues warning to newspaper owners
Letters: Former Chatham House deputy director William Wallace, Labour supporter Linda Walker and former keen young communist Tim Webb respond to claims about the party leader’s contacts with a Czechoslovakian intelligence officer
Researchers say archives suggest claims made against Labour leader are unfounded
Soon after 32-year-old Jan Sarkocy flew from Prague to Heathrow on May 29, 1986, to start his career as an intelligence officer at the Czech embassy in London,
Efforts to smear the Labour leader went so badly that a former editor of one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers denounced it as a campaign of “outright lies.”
Following British media reports that East German secret police had a file on Jeremy Corbyn, the Stasi archive has said no such file exists. Corbyn is under fire over reports he met with a Czechoslovak spy in the 1980s.
A former British diplomat who became the communist affairs correspondent of The Daily Telegraph is today revealed to have escaped prosecution in the 1950s afte
Angela Merkel warned immigrants to “integrate or face consequences” as she tried to win her party rank-and-file’s support for her coalition deal yesterday.Mrs
A new poll has called into question the SPD’s ability to govern alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Nevertheless, SPD voters see a grand coalition deal as the best way forward for their party.
Germany and Europe would both suffer if the Social Democrats (SPD) vote ‘no’ in a ballot on a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, a senior party official said.
After talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said his country supports the construction of …
Head of the Austrian government, Sebastian Kurz, says Russia is largely responsible for the situation in eastern Ukraine and Syria.
Even as evidence mounts that Moscow interfered in past votes in Italy and elsewhere, it still stands to win in almost any result in Sunday’s election.
The violent nationalism that fueled the dictator’s rise has returned with force as critical elections loom. But it has also spurred a nascent countermovement.
Czech President Milos Zeman has repeatedly lobbied for a suspected Russian hacker detained in Prague and wanted by the United States to be extradited to Russia, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan was …
The Ukrainian natural gas production sector might receive a new foreign investor soon. A Slovak oil and gas drilling company, Nafta intends to …
Turkish deputy PM calls decision to free Muslim, despite Ankara’s extradition request, a move ‘in support of terror’.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is hosting talks with his Portuguese counterpart on February 26 and will discuss EU and NATO relations with Moscow and the situation in Ukraine, the countries…
Investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his partner were found dead Sunday in apparent retaliation for Kuciak’s work.
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — An investigative journalist shot dead in Slovakia last week was working on a story about the activities of Italian mafia in his country and their links to people close to Prime Minister Robert Fico.
For years, Russia has worked to gain influence in Southeast Europe, using Serbia as a foothold to establish a friendly pocket on a hostile continent.
A Serbian-born Kosovo-war veteran’s grenade attack on the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica reverberates throughout a region known for its instability.
The Serbian Minister of Defense, Aleksandar Vulin, said that Russia will provide 2 million euros in addition to MiG-29 fighters that were given …
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said Serbia must resolve its dispute with Kosovo and implement a series of reforms before it can join the European Union.
How many times must a hypothetical aunt of a government minister travel from Canada to Serbia in order to transfer 205,000 euros in cash? Serbian law says that one can only enter the country with less than 10,000 euros in cash. Yet according to Serbian authorities, the answer to this seemingly simple mathematical problem is not “at least 21 times”, but a very forceful nothing to see here! Inquiring Serbian minds want to know, after years of controversy surrounding Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin, his 2012 purchase of a spacious 205,000 euros apartment in Belgrade, and his claim that the money came from his wife’s aunt in Canada. By law, public officials in Serbia must account for all funds they receive while in office. In September 2017, the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) — an independent Serbian media outlet — revealed that Minister Vulin didn’t produce evidence of the source of 205,000 euros (over 242,000 US dollars). He first claimed that he got the money by selling other real estate properties (worth only 38,000 euros), but then backtracked and said that the money came from his wife’s aunt. According to Serbian law, a maximum of 10,000 euros in cash can be brought into the country without being declared at customs; anything over that amount is a crime. So, hypothetically, Vulin’s generous aunt had to make more than 21 round-trips between Canada and Serbia to transfer those 205,000 euros. Thus far, there is no evidence of any such trips being made.
On February 21, a Serbian newspaper censored part of an obituary of a graphic artist, which noted that one of his last works was a book about censorship. Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) strongly condemned the censorship of the in memoriam article in the daily Politika, about its recently deceased art director Darko Novaković (1949 – 2018). Politika removed a segment of the obituary which noted that “one of the last books he designed was entitled ‘Vučić and Censorship,’ and Darko was brave enough to sign his name and surname under his work.” The obituary, as well as the unmentionable book about the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, were written by Srđan Škoro, a friend of Novaković. In response to the censorship incident Srđan Škoro said:
In April 2018, Cuba is expecting to undergo a major development—the 86-year-old Raul Castro is scheduled to step down as the nation’s president. The significance of this is considerable. For the first time since 1959 a Castro will not be at the helm of this Caribbean country of 11 million people located less than 100 miles from the United States. Although Raul will remain in the background, Cuba is finally undergoing a changing of the political guard. A younger generation of leaders will be entrusted to steer Cuba through a challenging future.
Europe has been in the news plenty recently, with the NATO Defense Ministerial, the Munich Security Conference, and senior Trump administration officials f
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party suffered a shock defeat in a closely-watched mayoral race that may energize a fragmented opposition six weeks before a parliamentary ballot the ruling coalition is expected to dominate.
Hungary’s powerful PM Viktor Orban suffers a rare setback in a mayoral election.
The ruling Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban suffered an unexpected setback in one of its strongholds when its candidate for mayor in the southern city of Hodmezovasarhely was d…
According to the Hungarian Foreign Minister, what happens in Ukraine cannot be happening in legal framework
TEL AVIV – An official delegation from Poland will arrive in Israel in the coming days to reach an understanding on the controversial bill which criminalizes blaming the eastern European country for any Holocaust-related crimes, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday.
MEPs on Thursday voted through a resolution voicing support for a move by the EU’s executive to trigger Article 7 against Poland.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Jews were also responsible for the Holocaust, and President of Israel Reuven Rivlin called these words “a new low”. However, in my opinion, in this case, Mr. Morawiecki plays a game of rhetorics: he is a classic Pole but there is Jewish blood running through his veins on his grandmother’s line. So he is a person who understands these things not only as an official but also as a member of the Jewish community. In general, the Poles pursue a rather balanced foreign policy, which is ensured not only and not so much by the prime minister. Therefore, Polish politicians will block this all with other statements and neutralize it. After all, they have long faced a question from Israel at a very high level – both official and unofficial – from the Jewish lobby. So, I think, this will be settled with minimal losses for Warsaw in general and for the Polish PM in particular. However, this is not very good for Ukraine, because when the world community begins to grasp these controversial historical issues, they will have to take a tougher line toward our country as well. After all, we have this bond now as a new Polish law on the Institute of National Remembrance mentions Ukraine among others. And it can hit us in the most unexpected and most unpleasant way… In general, Ukraine also needs to refrain from appealing at the level of statesmen and politicians to controversial historical topics, because they have different interpretations. Instead, these issues should be debated more by civil society and academics. That’s because any speculation on these topics is dangerous for the country as we will have to go for concessions in absolutely practical things that relate to today’s politics and national interests, under the slogan of some kind of “historical truth”. Why and for what reasons are the Poles ready to risk normal relations with other countries, raising those annoying historical questions? This is to a certain extent Polish state policy of today. Poles need to promote their state interests, they must declare themselves. In today’s Europe, the one who is silent gets fewer benefits. Poland has grown accustomed to getting more – Poles receive aid from European funds. To this end, Poland is a unique country, because it receives more than it invests in these funds. This is their way of development – both at the state and individual level. Therefore, the Poles need to speak up. Now the Poles are already facing complaints by the European Commission. In particular, it attacks them on the issue of their attitude to migrants, but so far they’ve been doing it rather gently. And since the Poles are being attacked on these issues, they have to be counterattack in a different direction. That’s what they are doing, in fact… Pavlo Rudiakov is a director of Perspektiva information and political center Read more on UNIAN:https://www.unian.info/politics/10014425-poland-s-history-games-and-lessons-for-ukraine.html
Polish president blames Ukrainians for genocide of Poles. View news feed in news about politics for 26 February from UNIAN Information Agency
Indigenous Ukrainian minority in Poland is under the threat of imprisonment, as well as almost one million of our Ukraine’s workers there, Pavlo Klimkin said
The Mueller investigation is showing the extent of Russian operations. But its real import extends far beyond that.
Our defenders must understand not just media technology but the critical historical and societal contexts that give it power.
The Kremlin’s hacking misdirection is evolving. And even when those attempts to confuse forensics fail, they still succeed at sowing future doubt.
Moscow learned during the Vietnam War that the best weapon against America is erosion of democracy.
New CrowdStrike report shows blurring of state-sponsored and cybercrime hacking methods.
The Opening Ceremonies were disrupted. Some are concerned the Closing Ceremonies might be targeted, too.
A new book argues that modern wars will be won with phones and laptops rather than tanks.
Candidates running in 2018 are scared of email hacks and elaborate misinformation schemes like the ones Russia used to disrupt the 2016 campaign, and many candidates say they’re concerned they can’t rely on Congress or the White House for advice, or protection.
A major cyberattack on the German government reported this week has been “serious,” “damaging,” and is still going on, German legislators and officials said.
By EU vs Disinfo Last time it was Russia’s Ministry of Defence. This time it was the state TV channel Pervy Kanal that couldn’t resist the temptation to include screenshots from a computer game to spice up alleged reporting from Syria. The Pervy Kanal report titled “Case File: Syria” was aired in a prime time Sunday evening news programme on 25…
Cyber and Influence have come a long way in the past decade. Most interesting is the ranking system LTG Nakasone seems to give to Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Words mean things. Cyber and influence appear to be exclusive but co-dependent in his testimony. Advance Policy Questions for Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone, USA Nominee
Share Tweet Forward 1 March 2018 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* Ukraine: the perennial disinformation target Four years have passed since the protests and subsequent violence on Maidan square in Kyiv, and also another anniversary is soon upon us; that of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia. It is, therefore, no surprise that we see a…
German officials say they are investigating a cyberattack on government computers, although they declined to comment on media reports blaming the hacking on a Russian group blamed for infiltration efforts in the United States and Europe.
Hacker group APT28, also known as Fancy Bear, has attacked the German Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, reports news agency DPA citing …
Germany’s dpa news agency cited unidentified security sources saying the group APT28 hacked into Germany’s Foreign and Defense Ministries, and that it managed to steal data.
German media report that the Kremlin-linked hacking group placed malware in a key government network that may have gone undetected for as long as a year.
I’ve seen many of the same tactics used by American news sources from all sides of the political spectrum. Most interesting is this is credited with an origin in Russian propaganda. I say Russian propaganda has used this heavily in the past four years and extensively during the Cold War, but these techniques have been…
BY KENNETH QUINN, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 02/27/18 02:00 PM EST THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL A few years ago, I had a cameo role in the Russian concerted effort to sow division among the American people. It took place in a small office on K Street…
With Russia’s presidential election weeks away, it appears the bots are at it again on YouTube by “disliking” critical reports.
The outgoing head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command says fending off Russian hackers requires more than operators hurling ones and zeros at the Kremlin.
Cyber Command has made significant progress in recent years with the integration of cyber into traditional military operations, the organization’s chief said.
State leaders of both parties worried aloud Sunday about the security of America’s election systems against possible cyberattacks ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.
The intelligence community determined Russia had accessed state websites or voting databases, but never told the states who was behind it.
Russia, China, and other nations that have launched cyberattacks against the United States do not fear retribution and see no reason to change their behavior, the nominee to head the U.S. Cyber Com…
Ashley Rodriguez It starts with a single video. A YouTube search for keywords like “crisis actor,” a term used last week to discredit the outspoken survivors of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, can drag viewers down a rabbit hole of conspiracy-related content, a researcher found. Professor and data journalist Jonathan Albright looked at 256 videos(paywall) returned by…
Routing hacks, bits of code used to throw off attribution trail.
Ukrainian police say they have rearrested the ringleader of a cybercrime group accused of inflicting hundreds of millions of dollars in losses worldwide. It comes 15 months after his embarrassing escape put the spotlight on corruption in the Eastern European country.
Authorities in Ukraine have rearrested the alleged mastermind of an international cybercrime gang that was busted in international raids more than a year ago.
US Domestic Policy Reports
The head of the National Security Agency told lawmakers that he hadn’t been formally asked by President Donald Trump to take steps to disrupt Russian election hacking activity at its source.
US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told lawmakers on Tuesday that he has not been granted the authority by President Donald Trump to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate.
Senators pressed Cyber Command on how they can use their national mission force to combat Russian cyber intrusions.
Mueller scours Team Trump for Russian collusion as Dems marinate in it.
Putin said Thursday in a televised address that the country had developed nuclear weapons that are capable of overwhelming any U.S. defense
U.S. President Donald Trump has not ordered or authorized intelligence agencies to retaliate against Russian meddling and disinformation campaigns, resulting in a response that has not deterred Mos…
WASHINGTON: Under relentless grilling from Democratic senators, the four-star officer who heads both Cyber Command and the NSA said the US government is “not doing enough” to prevent Russia from meddling in the 2018 elections. Could the US keep the Russians from interfering again? asked Sen. Claire McCaskill. “Yes,” Adm. Michael Rogers said at once. But, she pressed, are we actually doing so? “We’re taking steps, but we’re probably not doing enough,” he said. Why not? “I’m an operational commander, ma’am,” he said. “You’re asking a question that’s much bigger than me.” That said, Rogers wasn’t shy about saying the Russian threat was real. “They are attempting to undermine our institutions,” he said. “President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here and therefore (he) can continue this activity,” Rogers said. The US can respond with diplomacy and sanctions as well as cyber operations, he said, but all things considered, “clearly what’s been done hasn’t been enough.” This morning’s hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was a delicate dance and, clearly, often a frustrating one for all participants: Several Democrats raised their voices and I heard Rogers sighing more than once. While acting chairman James Inhofe and other Republicans asked about cybersecurity in general, the Democrats kept hammering on Russian interference in the elections. Rogers is about to retire, which gives him unusual freedom to speak out. Even so, he repeatedly stressed his limited role and authorities as defender of the Defense Department’s networks. The Office of the Secretary of Defense makes policy, the Department of Homeland Security and the states protect domestic and all critical networks, and the president makes the final call, Rogers kept emphasizing. You can respond to cyber attacks through diplomacy or sanctions, not just by retaliating in cyberspace, he said, and any cyber action must be part of some government-wide strategy. Cyber Command can’t address all the senators’ concerns because it’s already stretched, Rogers said. “Just look at the things we’ve talked about in the last 40 minutes where you’ve said, ‘why doesn’t Cyber Command do this?’” he said halfway through hearing. “Be leery about viewing Cyber Command as the be-all end-all for everything.” One of Rogers’ recent triumphs, in fact, is persuading Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to treat Cyber Command as a “high demand, low density” (HDLD) resource like special operators or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, the admiral said. As a result, the Pentagon’s set up a process to prioritize, reassess, and reprioritize the allocation of CYBERCOM, with the commander gaining new authorities to retask assets to more urgent missions. “A year ago, that process didn’t exist,” Rogers said. The all-service Cyber Mission Force will reach official Full Operational Capability later this year, with 6,200 personnel. But “that was a based on an assessment, boy, it’s almost 10 years ago now,” Rogers said. Once the force is fully stood up, “I’d like to retool this a little bit.” In the long run, he added, the force will need to grow. It’s those Cyber Mission Force teams that could stop Russian attacks “where they originate,” if so authorized by the president, argued SASC’s ranking Democrat, Jack Reed. (Reed wasn’t explicit, but it seems he wants some kind of preemptive or retaliatory cyber strike against Russian hackers in Russia). Has Cyber Command been directed to do so? “No, I have not,” Rogers said, “but… based on the authority that I have as a commander, I have directed the National Mission Force to begin some specific work — I’d rather not publicly go into that.” Whatever that work is, it doesn’t sound like it’s directly connected to protecting state-level electoral systems. “I’m not an expert on the electoral system as a whole — I haven’t personally looked at it as a target,” Rogers emphasized. “I’m not talking to individual state officials.” Is it true President Trump has not directed Cyber Command to take any action to protect the elections? asked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “I’ve never been given any specific direction to take additional steps outside my (normal) authority. I have taken steps within my authority,” Rogers said. “I haven’t been granted any additional authorities, capacity, capability. No, that’s certainly true.” “There are ongoing Russian directed or inspired cyber operations against our electoral system, as we speak?” Sen. Reed asked. “Yes,” Rogers agreed. Have you formally been asked for your recommendation on how to respond? “Nobody’s necessarily directly me asked me, I’ve certainly provided my opinion in ongoing discussions,” Rogers replied. Which is? “Be mindful of just defaulting to the cyber piece here,” Rogers said. “I’d like us to think about this a little more broadly and I’d like to us to think about, how does this potential cyber piece that Cyber Command could do, how does it fit into something broader?” But there’s been no formal request for cyber options: “I haven’t put anything in writing,” Rogers said.
When it comes to comparing Trump and Obama, Republicans ask that Americans look at the whole picture, and not just a fight over Facebook ads…
Senator Lindsey Graham said Iran is testing President Donald Trump and warned Israel was preparing to start a war in southern Lebanon over an Iranian-backed Hezbollah rocket factory.
Russian operatives used social media posts to disrupt U.S. energy policy, including inciting environmentalists against pipeline projects
Researchers from Iowa State University are claiming that US versions of popular Russian-funded news media are littered with articles and links casting genetically modified organisms in a negative light. It’s an effort, say the researchers, to discredit American agricultural practices and to portray Russian crops as an “ecologically cleaner” alternative to GMOs.
Bots are limited by no nationality.
Family and friends of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov unveiled a street sign renamed in his honor in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. on February 27. Members of the U.S. Congress and D.C. Council officials also attended the ceremony. (Reuters)
We should expand on our 2016 goals: Create chaos, back the GOP’s Trump wing, and encourage subservience. Devin Nunes is the model for what we want.
Internal resilience, not external strength, will determine the century’s power struggles
The White House on February 28 announced that communications director Hope Hicks is resigning, one day after she was grilled by a congressional committee investigating connections between Russia an…
We have been too quiet about a threat that is regularly killing our fellow citizens.
A volley of stunning revelations over Jared Kushner and the Russia probe are rocking Donald Trump’s inner circle and suggest a pivotal moment is at hand in the West Wing personnel wars that have raged throughout his presidency.
Germany urges US to rethink steel, aluminum tariffs
It’s time for Americans to add a new Russian word to their strategic lexicon. BY LIESL SCHILLINGER | FEBRUARY 23, 2018, 6:21 PM In the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and ever since, thousands of English words written by Russians pretending to be Americans have infiltrated social media in the United States. But very few Russian…
Some Russians are not laughing at Trump’s mocking the indictment of the 13 Russians accused for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Progressives have wildly exaggerated the supposed Russian threat to America’s security and domestic liberty.
“Our president is compromised and we want to know why,” the commentator said.
U.S. Democrats have released a redacted memo challenging Republican claims that the FBI abused government surveillance powers in its investigation of Russia election meddling, a document President …
The treasury secretary also touched on Dodd-Frank, trade agreements and the tax overhaul in a wide-ranging interview with Kai Ryssdal.
I tried to duplicate the evidence in numerous reports stating that Agata Burdonova is living in Bellevue, Washington, USA, that her husband got a job at Facebook, that she had a Twitter account and a YouTube account, and so on… and even though I was looking at “screenshots” of her accounts, I couldn’t find her. …
A spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says the U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with trying to influence the U.S. presidential election is ridiculous enough to be the work of a professional comedian.
Russia, the country, as personified by the Russian Foreign Ministry, has a sense of humor. Not a good one, mind you, but they must make themselves laugh behind closed doors. Here is their response to the Mueller indictments of 13 Russians and 3 companies. For those of you who have known me for more than…
For all the talk of Kremlin puppetry, the heart of the offenses involves the startling sums of money in normal American politics.
This article is a good discussion of what Russia continue doing, unabated. The Russian troll factory, wherever it is, continues what it does best, sowing divisiveness and chaos and undermining democracy. Our only recourse is to ignore what they say through education and awareness and to allow intelligence, law enforcement, and our nation’s legal machine to…
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is reportedly receiving threats from online sources who invoke the “Russian mafia” in response to a scheduled…
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether President Donald Trump attempted to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign last summer as part of a pattern of attempting to obst…
A former EU commission president, ex-European parliament president and an ex-Austrian chancellor all deny being paid €2m by Donald Trump’s former campaign chief to lobby on the behalf of the Russian-backed government in Ukraine in 2012.
The professor told a Trump campaign adviser in April 2016 that the Russian government had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Two former European leaders were shocked to find their names mentioned in the Manafort indictment documents.
Charges against Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort could also pose legal and regulatory risks for the banks that loaned him millions.
Just hours after Rick Gates pleaded guilty.
Rick Gates turns state’s evidence; Robert Mueller levels an updated indictment against Paul Manafort; and state and federal officials begin to prepare for more election interference in 2018.
For the past decade, Rick Gates was fiercely loyal to his risk-taking boss. Not anymore.
A footnote left unredacted in the just-released memo ‘correcting the record’ on the Russia investigation shows why, as early as 2013, the FBI thought Page might be a Russian spy.
U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller has hit President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager with new conspiracy and other charges, including allegations that he set up a secret lobbying campaign…
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Russia investigation (all times local): 4:40 p.m. Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing President Donald Trump’s
President Trump’s ex-campaign chief paid ex-politicians to lobby for Ukraine, an indictment says.
Among the enduring curiosities of Donald Trump’s presidential run was his announcement that campaign chairman Paul Manafort was an unpaid volunteer.
A member of Ukraine’s Parliament says Connecticut native Paul Manafort was interested only in money, not ideology, when he polished the former Ukrainian strongman’s image before an uprising.
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and Political Advisor to the Party of Regions Paul Manafort continued to cooperate with the …
Before they joined the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates made millions from foreign dictators. Now they’re accused of fraud.
New Indictment Alleges Manafort Payments to Former European Politicians
Special counsel accuses Paul Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine
New indictment alleges he sent $2 million to ‘Hapsburg group.’
A new indictment against former Donald Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort focused a spotlight Saturday on uncovering the former European leaders who prosecutors contend were secretly paid by Manafort to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.
Mr. Manafort paid 2 million euros to former European officials to lobby for Ukraine’s then pro-Russian government, a new indictment says.
According to the indictment, Manafort ‘secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukrain…
The woman at the center of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s recent report about an alleged meeting between billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko has a…
Nastya Rybka posted video she said she shot on an oligarch’s yacht, suggesting he has warm ties with the Kremlin. The oligarch employed Paul Manafort in 2016.
Huawei’s push to supply 5G phone networks unsettled US national security agencies, setting the scene for a diplomatic show-down between Canberra and Beijing.
We remain as committed to our shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law as we were on the battlefields of Europe 100 years ago.
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister…
Last December, Malcolm Turnbull proclaimed that the Australian people had stood up — Aodaliya renmin zhanqilaile — against the Chinese. This was a parody of a statement attributed to Mao Zedong on the proclamation of the Peoples Republic of China, after a century of foreign occupation, that the Chinese people had stood up.
It is nearly two years since the government announced that the Shortfin Barracuda, to be designed and built by the French company, Naval Group, would be Australia’s future submarine (FSM). The proposed acquisition remains controversial. As an Australian citizen who has observed over many years the ongoing waste and incompetence exhibited in many Defence acquisitions,…
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is resurrecting a NATO observer group, aimed at strengthening congressional ties with the North Atlantic alliance.
DoD’s first-ever summary of 27 security-cooperation programs deserves praise. Now tell us more.
President Trump may be willing to dash his dreams of a military parade if the cost is too high.
Calling into a television show, the president acknowledged the estimated cost of $10 million to $30 million could be a concern.
Gen. Dave Goldfein is recovering from Bell’s palsy, a condition in which facial muscles are temporarily paralyzed.