Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Russia’s descent into the abyss continues – and notably a remarkable fraction of global mayhem is being actively exacerbated by the Putin regime.
NATO / EU / Russia Reports
Russia is advancing in key military technology areas and shows no deceleration in efforts to destabilize the West, said the commander for U.S. forces …
The head of the Norway’s main military intelligence arm says his agency has watched as Russian military aircraft flew a number of simulated attacks on key military installations in his country and NATO warships in the region. The incidents offer yet more evidence that the Kremlin is taking an increasingly aggressive stance toward the Western alliance and that it is looking for ways harass it and its other European partners that don’t run the risk setting off an actual conflict. Norwegian Air Force Lieutenant General Morten Haga Lunde, who is now in charge of the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), also known as the Etterretningstjenesten or E-tjenesten, gave details about three separate incidents in 2017 in an annual speech to the Oslo Military Society on March 5, 2018. Neither Norwegian authorities nor NATO officials appear to have previously disclosed the threatening looking flights toward a shadowy radar facility in the town of Vardø along the Barents Sea, a flotilla of NATO ships in the Norwegian Sea, and various military facilities near the city of Bodø in northern Norway.
There is little doubt that the UK Ministry of Defence Modernising Defence Programme will put a more coherent view of deterrence firmly at the forefront of national military ambition. Given statements by the prime minister, the secretary of state for defence and national security advisor over the past eighteen months, it is also likely that a significant element of this will be the provision of a UK ballistic missile defence capability.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – Moscow’s spending on Vladimir Putin’s much-ballyhooed military campaign in defense of Syrian dictator Bashar Asad is leading to enormous cutbacks in its spending on health, education and welfare for the Russian people, according to a new report summarizing the findings of various Russian and international analysts. In a 3,000-word article for Radio Svoboda, Elizaveta Mayetnaya and Lyubov Chizova ponts out that the Russian government has classified its spending in Syria but that various Russian and international experts have made calculations, admittedly estimates, on the basis of what has happened that allow for such a conclusion (svoboda.org/a/29073239.html). The experts say that there are five basic categories of spending that need to be considered: the air force, cruise missiles, equipment losses, support for personnel, and payments to families of soldiers killed there. In addition, there is the cost for the presence of the aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuzetsov.” Each presents particular difficulties. Yabloko analysts say that as of the beginning of this month, Russia has spent on the Syrian campaign between 172.3 billion rubles and 245.1 billion rubles (3.3 billion US dollars and 4.4 billion US dollars). The question is: is that a lot or a little? And how one answers that depends on what one looks at. That amount would be enough to pay for the cleansing of the Volga River for eight years. It would cover three years of spending on the development of culture and tourism. And it is five times more than was spend on Moscow’s cancer program between 2009 and 2014. But it is “six times less” than Putin spent on the Sochi Olympics and 2.7 times less than on the World Cup. One of the most troubling problems for those making estimates is the wide range between low estiimates of Moscow’s spending and high estimates, a difference of more than 60 billion rubles (1.1 billion US dollars), the two Radio Svoboda journalists say. Much of this difference reflects differences in assessments of the cost of the Russian aviation campaign. In their article, they provide details for each of the five categories they’ve listed as well as for the costs associated with mercenary units and losses among them, figures not included in their overall cost estimates but that will inevitably push the total cost higher. And they cite expert opinion to the effect that real costs may be 50 percent higher than even the top estimate. Aleksey Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center points out that whatever figure was uses, the cost to a country whose GDP ranks 11th in the world is high. And he suggests it is hard to justify not only because of the impact of spending there on spending domestically but also because it is hard to see what Moscow will in the end achieve. “When all this began,” he says, “Russian support for Bashar Asad was necessary, for in the Middle East at that time and even now, there was a single choice: either an authoritarian regime or an Islamic State and the terrorism accompanying it.” But what started as a good idea has become “a heavy boomerang.” That is because, Malashenko says, “when Asad leaves, there won’t be a place for Russia there; and it is in general unclear who everything will develop. The idea variant would be the establishment of some sort of pro-Russian coalition of the coming to power of a new pro-Russian dictator with a different image.” But until Russia achieves this – and it hasn’t so far – Moscow is gaining very little from Putin’s Syrian campaign; and the Russian people as always are the big losers, however much Putin talks about victory in his recent speech to the Federal Assembly.
At least once a week I hope to remind the online world that Russian trolls, most likely from the ‘Troll Factory”, are still hard at work. The rest of the Russian information warfare machine continues churning out junk as well. Today my wife and I must have identified over 100 attempts to establish a semblance…
The statement was made in connection with Russia’s tests of a hypersonic missile complex
It is no secret that in recent years Russia has been losing its position at India defence market. This is explained by the Indian Government’s intent to diversify arms suppliers, in particular, the United States, Ukraine, South Korea and other. Also, Russian military defence technology is falling behind and them service suffers a lot. In this regard, Russia began an active information campaign to discredit the other partners of India in military-technical cooperation. Among these military-technical partners, Ukrainian defence industry complex occupies a special place. Adding to informational hysteria around the military-technical cooperation between Ukraine and India is Russia’s attempt to influence the strategic relations between the two countries. The attempt to remove Ukraine from the Indian armaments market is the Kremlin’s last chance to remain there. By that time, can say with confidence that the quality of Russian military equipment is inferior to the American one. Russia loses key tenders to the Americans in India. Thus, the Indians gave the preference to the American combat helicopters AH-64E “Apache”, over the Russian Mi-28. The Russians lost the competition for the delivery of heavy transport helicopters: Mi-26 to the American CH-47F “Chinook”. American Boeing P-8 Poseidon replaced Russian Tu-142; transport aircraft IL-476 lost to the American C-17 “Globemaster”. The Indian-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft project is at risk of failure. Over eight years, even the final aircraft design contract has not been signed. The Indians are not satisfied with the weak engines, they have claims to the fighter’s radar and stealth. The Indian side inclines to closing this project, purchasing American F-35 fighter instead of the Russian one. If India leaves the project, Russia will have to reduce next-generation aircraft production due to lack of funds. The Kremlin is not able to meet the demands of the Indian leadership in the defense industry. The collapse of deals, the lack of components, the transfer of India’s critical military technology within the domestic production program “Make in India” leads to a decrease in the share of Russian weapons in the Indian market. Besides, Russia is an unreliable partner for India. In December 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India represented an expert opinion on the operation of Russian Su-30MKI fighters. According to the auditor’s report, 126 out of 210 fighter jets – operated by Indian pilots – are on the ground as a result of malfunction. According to the Indian Ministry of Defense, six aircraft were lost since the beginning of operation. In August 2016 it became known that Russia sold defective fighter jets to India: aircraft MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB, deliveries of which started in 2014. According to the audit, 62% of Russian engines are non-serviceable. These cases indicate that the Russian import substitution program has failed. Russia uses components from NATO countries and the EU to build almost all types of military equipment. With the introduction of sanctions, Russian specialists are not able to resolve their own problems, because they do not have the necessary components. In addition, Russia expects to press Ukraine in India in order to compensate for its own losses. After all, India remains Ukraine’s largest trading partner in the field of military-technical cooperation. In the period from 2015 to 2017, Ukraine fulfilled contracts totaling about $ 400 million. Including An-32 aircrafts repair for the Indian Air Force and gas turbine power plants for warships. Only UkrOboronProm SE “Zorya-Mashproekt”, in the past three years, supplied products totaling over $ 200 million, providing Indian ships with power plants. It is worth noting that within the framework of the agreements signed with India’s corporations, Ukraine is struggling to win the tenders within the “Make in India” program to receive orders from the Indian government in the field of aircraft manufacturing and repair, armored vehicles modernization, marine engineering maintenance, and UAV production and supply.
In recent years, Russia has been losing its positions at India’s defense market, which is explained by their lagging technology and the Indian Government’s intent to diversify arms suppliers, eyeing the United States, Ukraine, South Korea, and others.
India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly when China has been ramping up its military manoeuvring along the nearly 4,000 km Sino-India border.
Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller said that during arms purchases the lack of compatibility of Russian S-400 air defense missile system with the NATO missile defense must be taken into account. “As for the missile defense system, NATO members believe that the greatest effectiveness can be achieved only through the interaction of NATO systems. We want to study these systems. The S-400 system doesn’t integrate with other NATO members’ systems, and it is necessary to study this before any country decides to buy them,” she stated during a discussion in Athens. In December last year, Russian and Turkish representatives signed a loan agreement on the supply of S-400 air defense missile systems. According to the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries of Turkey, Ankara will buy two batteries of S-400, which will be serviced by Turkish staff. At the same time, the parties agreed on technological cooperation in this area to develop the production of anti-aircraft missile systems in Turkey. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, has stated that Turkey is against the language of threats in connection with the procurement of Russian air defense missile systems S-400.
Putin might well be counting on new nuclear weaponry to balance a perceived deficit in Russian conventional forces. And Moscow’s naval situation makes that point clear.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 4 – Russian shipyards are delivering only half of the ships the government has promised that they would, an increasing share of the new ones are being sold for cash to India and other countries, and existing ships are being refitted so slowly that they are not able to perform their military tasks, Sergey Ishchenko says. As a result, the military affairs analyst for the Svobodnaya Pressa portal, “the address of the new Russian Tsushima” – a reference to Russia’s most horrific naval defeat in 1904 – “is Sevastopol” because the Black Sea Fleet is no longer the military force Russia needs there or in the Mediterranean (svpressa.ru/war21/article/194407/). Ishchenko says that “the last hopes of the Black Sea Fleet in the near term to form a fully-operational brigade of contemporary frigates have collapsed as a result of shortcomings in production and refitting and the sale of many new ships for three billion US dollars to India (news.rambler.ru/troops/39236720-indiya-soglasilas-kupit-u-rossii-chetyre-novyh-fregata/). And adding insult to injury, he continues, the Indians are refitting these ships with more advanced technologies than Russian shipbuilders have put in them, an indication not of caution of selling such technologies to a foreign power but rather of the fact that Russian naval ships in general do not have them. Because Moscow has chosen to sell the ships for money, all those in the Black Sea Fleet can do “for the entire foreseeable future” is “to suck their thumbs” and hope against hope that the refitting and modernization of its existing ships will not take as long as now projected. Several ships are now slated to be out of service for as much as five years. Thus, they can’t be included in the navy’s order of battle even if some in Moscow want to do that. And the fleet has no chance of being as large as it now is effectively before between 2025 and 2030. Russia still has not figured out how to cope with the loss of Ukrainian suppliers of the turbine engines on which its fleet relies, Ishchenko says, despite all the “pompous” claims of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, someone who has proved himself “a master of personal PR” but not of the military. His promises have proved in all cases “illusory.” In his 1800-word article, Ishenko provides details on various classes of ships and traces the problems back more than a decade. But his overall conclusion is devastating: for a Russian analyst to refer to Tsushima is equivalent of an American one talking about Pearl Harbor.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 7 – Vladimir Putin’s militaristic speech to the Federal Assembly presented as innovations developments either that happened long ago or that others have found unsound and as genuine possibilities for a country that lacks the scientific and industrial base needed to carry them out, according to Mark Solonin. Solonin, a historian whose criticism of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine led him to seek asylum in Estonia where he now lives and works, provides one of the most detailed critiques step by step of what Putin said and why besides his bombast there is little new to fear (solonin.org/article_seans-ohotnichey-magii). Putin devoted most of the military section of his speech to wonder weapons without any acknowledgement of the fundamental reality of such systems in today’s world. “The times when an outburst of creative gifts could lead to those have long passed. In the 21st century, any new step toward improvement is based on experience and difficult trials.” And if one goes beyond this metaphor, Solonin says, such innovations require “the existence of scientific-construction collectives with enormous experience measured in decades and material support of this experience in the form of testing ranges, measured complexes and computer programs.” “In the Soviet Union of the 1950s through the 1980s, this existed,” he continues. “But then it all fell apart. The chief bearers of priceless experience – people – were lost. The enterprises of the military-industrial complex are led by effective managers from among former chekists and the defense ministry by a former furniture manufacturer.” And while all this has been happening – or more precisely while no development has been occurring in Russia – “the Americans have not been sitting on their hands for 10, 15 or 20 years just waiting for us to catch up.” They have been moving forward, and Russia will have to catch up with them before it can surpass them. From all this flows an irrefutable conclusion: “not miracles, no ‘fireballs,’ no arms systems ‘without analogues in the world’ will not exist in Russia in 2018 because they will never exist. ‘Our boys’ can’t and won’t be able to think up anything more than the Americans already have.” “In the best case,” the Russian historian says, “with the enormous financing of the last decade, the old Soviet projects will be revived and the lag behind the world’s scientific-technical leader will be reduced.” But anyone who promises more is lying; and anyone who believes him is only deceiving himself. Solonin then examines each of Putin’s “magic” weapons in detail. (Military experts will want to consult his long article.) He points out that the Sarmat missile is not part of Russia’s arsenal. Moreover, “its fight tests not only have not been completed but as a matter of fact have not been begun.” The supposed capacity to attack the US over the south pole as well as the north has existed since 1961, but no one would think to do the former because it would give the opponent ever more time to figure out ways to shoot it down. The Americans “aren’t fools.” If they launch, they will launch over the north pole not the south. Putin’s notion of a nuclear-powered cruise missile of virtually unlimited range is even more absurd. There were discussions of this in the late 1950s, but serious scientists as opposed to opportunistic Russian presidents rejected it because the missile would be too big, it would be too easy to spot, and it would probably destroy itself once it re-entered the atmosphere. Putin talked a lot about “hypersonic” weapon systems, forgetting to tell his audience that missiles have been hypersonic since the Germans launched one in 1942. The real problem is making them in such a way that they can change course when back in the atmosphere and avoid burning up if they have the features that might allow that. Scientists in the West have been working on these questions for many years, as once did Soviet scientists. But Russian scientists today aren’t, despite Putin’s claims to the contrary. And as a result, there are now far more questions left open than answers or at least positive actionable ones available. The same thing is true of a space plane as the Americans have discovered through tests, but that Putin, whose subordinates haven’t tested one, clearly has not. The best Russia and the world can hope for is that after the Russian election, this speech with its absurd claims will be forgotten, except for those concerned about the judgment of the man who made it.
- Magic. Primitive savages, for whom successful hunting was a prerequisite for the survival of the tribe, practiced mystical rituals, which were later called “hunting magic” by later scholars. From branches, straw, moss and other improvised materials, a full scale animal model was made; in a special place gathered around him savages made complex dances with tambourines, and then pierced the scarecrow with sticks and spears. On this successful hunting was considered already held; yes, we had to go to the forest, find and kill the beast, but it was perceived as minor insignificant trouble. Another element of hunting magic passed through the millennia and survived to the present day – the beast, especially the big and dangerous, had several names: tabooed “real” and substitute names. For example, the bear was called “clumsy”, “toptygin,” “master,” “Bear …” Various options were sent to the site of the Ministry of Defense, where the best names were selected according to the now forgotten procedure. 2. ABM. Since the magic session of interest to us was all built around the topic of missile defense, the means and possibilities to overcome it, then we will have to start with a brief educational program on the topic “What is ABM and what it can not”; however tiring, but without such an educational program to understand the content and meaning of perfect rituals will be decidedly impossible.
I was the first to write about Russia’s infamous high-tech military strategy. One small problem: it doesn’t exist.
Bunkers were a vital part of Sweden’s past and recent threats from Russia mean they could become important in its future.
Russia is in full swing, and NATO and the EU are responding.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has discussed ways to counter the Russian “threat” with his counterparts from the Baltic states, the State Department says.
The top U.S. military commander in Europe warned that the Balkans are facing increased covert and overt pressure from Russia, and that Washington and NATO need to do more to keep the region from de…
Several Eastern European states have ramped up their opposition to a new gas pipeline linking Russia with Germany and have raised their concerns in Washington.
President Petro Poroshenko intends to visit Germany before April and discuss with German authorities the issue of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas …
Commanders from the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) have spoken to the media under conditions of anonymity and provided information on the …
In 2016, a number of media reports identified its location outside Molkino farm, some 30 kilometers south of Krasnodar along the M-4 Don highway.
Some straightforward policy tips for countering Russian disinformation campaigns.
Russia / Russophone Reports
Meet the anticorruption crusader and Kremlin foe who Russian authorities have kept off the ballot.
The Russian people will go through the motions of a presidential election with a predictable outcome.
Putin’s likely re-election will cement his place as the strongman who made Russia great again, but it also sets the stage for a crisis: Who will lead Russia next?
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was consciously led to annex Crimea. “Sometimes it seems to me – and I think that there are …
Paul Goble Staunton, March 7 – A new VTsIOM poll finds that the percent of voters in Moscow and St. Petersburg who say they will vote for Vladimir Putin fell from 69.7 percent on January 10 to 57.1 percent on February 18, and another study projected that participation in these and other major cities will be far lower than the Kremlin wants. These developments, commentators say, may mean that the Russian government will unleash all its administrative powers in order to booth both support for Putin in the cities and the level of participation; but experts say the pattern the new surveys found was entirely predictable (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2018/03/07/752953-reiting-putina). VTsIOM, a polling agency reputed to have close ties with the Kremlin, reports that support for Putin also fell in cities between 100,000 and 500,000 and in cities with fewer than 100,000. Cities between these two categories showed a decline earlier but an uptick over the last month. In general, Valery Fedorov, VTsIOM’s general director says, “the larger the city, the lower the level of participation and of support for the candidate from powers.” That is because “in major cities, fear and administrative pressure work more weakly” and because residents have access to more sources of information and “therefore are more critical of the authorities.” Another reason is that as the campaign has proceeded, “people remember that there are other candidates” besides Putin. That being so, “naturally, the authorities lose a little and the opposition figures gain.” He says that even in the big cities, participation will be in the 55 to 60 percent range, and support for Putin between 50 and 65 percent.” According to Fedorov, “if the elections are carried out honestly, then Putin’s result in the million-resident cities will be lower and the opponents somewhat higher;” but if the regime uses all its “administrative resources” – “and I don’t exclude this,” the VTsIOM sociologist says, then the participation and support for Putin will be higher. Andrey Koladin, a political analyst, says that urban residents are less likely to defer to those in power than are other Russians. “In major cities, the voter is more politicized, he has fewer problems with income, and he is less dependent on the authorities.” But like Fedorov, he says the authorities may pull out all the stops at the last minute to change the pattern. And Dmitry Badovsky of the Moscow Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Research, says there are other reasons for the big cities to be different: “young people are concentrated there and stereotypes about voting as a ritual work less effectively than they do elsewhere.” Voters take their role more seriously. Meanwhile, the Petersburg Politics Foundation has issued its estimates for the level of participation in 31 federal subjects. Its report says that these vary from 33 percent to 100 percent, with Moscow and the big cities being the lowest and the non-Russian republics among the highest (fpp.spb.ru/fpp-rating-2018-02 and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A9FA9E2222F5). The foundation projects that 33 percent of the voters of Moscow will take part in the election, 37 percent in St. Petersburg, 39 percent in Tomsk oblast, 38 percent in Novosibirsk oblast, and 37 percent in Astrakhan oblast. At the other end, 100 percent of voters in Tyumen oblast and Tuva are predicted to take part, with Daghestan at 99 percent and Chechnya at 96.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 7 – Polls have consistently shown that Russians are very much divided between those who want Russia to be a great power feared and respected by others and those who want to see a rising standard of living for themselves, Ekaterina Schulmann of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says. And consequently, it is a mistake to think that they are “intoxicated” with the same militarist sentiments that animate much of the Russian political elite. Instead, what the people fear is not so much war as militarization which will take money from butter and give it to guns instead (echo.msk.ru/blog/partofair/2160754-echo/). Over the last 15 years, Schulmann says, the Levada Center has asked Russian to express their preference for these two positions; and in the most recent poll, those supporting a better life outnumbered those favoring building military power by 56 percent to 42 percent. “The maximum of militarism” in the population was in 2014 and even then Russians divided evenly with 48 percent favoring pursuit of great power status and 47 percent a higher standard of living. A similar difference between the population and the elite is found in the case of religiosity. Members of the elite are far more likely to manifest that than is the population as a whole. “And on many other parameters, for example attitudes toward women, family and children, those people at the top are different from the population as a whole.” These two groups also divide between an elite that constantly focuses on Russia being surrounded by enemies and thus needing to develop military force, Schulmann says; and a population which has a different agenda. In every case, she continues, “there is a difference between elites and citizens with the elites always living a little in their own world.” No one should be shocked by this, she says. The average voter in Russia is a 39-year-old woman, while the average person near the top of the political pyramid is “a man over 60.” These are “different generations, different people and have different views on the world.” They shouldn’t be confused. It is perhaps especially important to remember this distinction today when Vladimir Putin who stands at the apex of the Russian state declared that while Russia would only use nuclear weapons if attacked, he would be prepared to use nuclear weapons to anihilate the entire world if Russia’s existence was threatened. “As a citizen of Russia and as head of the Russian state,” Putin declared, “I have to ask myself why we would need such a world if Russia is not going to exist?” (dsnews.ua/world/putin-obyavil-chto-unichtozhit-ves-mir-esli-ne-stanet-rossii-07032018112200).
US roughly and blatantly deceived Russia during Euromaidan, – Putin
I invite you to read the words establishing the Russian leadership as clearly not based on reality, in his 1 May 2018 Presidential state of the union address. Not to be ignored, but 2018 is an election year. The timing of this speech makes it tantamount to a free advertisement for Putin’s re-election, as this…
Incumbent President Vladimir Putin has held a campaign rally at a major Moscow sports arena, promising “victories” for Russia in remarks to a supportive audience 15 days before an election that…
Moscow – President Vladimir Putin on Saturday promised “victories” for Russia at a star-studded rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters ahead of a March 18 election he is all but certain to win. Olympic athletes, celebrities and cosmonauts earlier took to the stage to voice their support for Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades and is seeking to extend his Kremlin term to 2024. “We want our country to be bright and looking to the future, for our children and grandchildren…we will do everything we can for them to be happy,” he told the cheering crowd at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium. “Nobody else will do this for us. And if we do this, the coming decade and the whole 21st century will be marked by our bright victories,” he said. Organisers said around 100 000 people were expected to attend the event. An AFP journalist estimated around 80 000 people were in the stadium before the rally began. Putin on Thursday set the course for a new arms race with Washington as he boasted of a new generation of “invincible” Russian weapons developed in response to recent actions by the United States. Boosted by a slavish media and foreign military adventures like the annexation of Crimea in 2014, his approval rating remains sky-high and official polls suggest he will take almost 70 percent of the vote this month.
Some were paid to attend, as part of apparent bid to show broad support for the president
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would reverse the collapse of the Soviet Union if he had a chance to change Russian history, Russian news agencies reported.
Despite all the changes in Russia over the past 25 years, polls show a persistent regret among Russians over the collapse of the USSR.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 6 – No one under 70 can have any direct memories of Stalin who died 65 years ago this week, Sergey Shelin says; but unlike other figures in Russian history and in other countries, the Soviet dictator is not a figure of the past but rather very much one of the present. That is possible in large measure because what Russia under Vladimir Putin has now is “a new edition of Stalinism,” one based on the idea of an empire and on a conservatism without roots but rather created, as Stalin’s was, to fit the needs of the Kremlin. Indeed, what Russia now has in that regard, he says, is “a parody on a parody” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/03/06/1687047.html). For “the overwhelming majority of Russians” today, “Stalinism is viewed not as something receding into the past but as part of the present.” That is not because the authorities promote him in their propaganda of because no one had adopted a law against the propaganda of Stalinism, Shelin continues. And it is not so much about Stalin as about Russians because “nowhere else does Stalin play the role” that he does in Russia. “In the other parts of the empire which he at one time ruled … Stalinism can be or not be part of state propaganda [positively as in China, negatively elsewhere], but everywhere he is viewed by the masses as something receding into the past.” “Today’s Stalin is a profoundly Russian ideological asset.” Despite his Georgian roots and accent, Stalin is “a phenomenon of imperial rather than ethnic content, a key figure of the metropolitan center but not the provinces.” And in that regard, Stalin offers two “unique” features that continue to matter. On the one hand, he created an empire the likes of which had never been and never will be again; and on the other, he produced “an invented conservatism,” the set of attitudes about the links between past and present that continue to resonate to this day, Shelin argues. The first of these does not require discussion: it is self-evident. But the second is so unusual that it does. Stalin created and Putin is extending “a conservatism without roots,” of state-defined “bindings that combine into a single whole a multitude of stylized innovations about the past.” “Stalinists say,” the Rosbalt commentator says, “that Stalin did away with Bolshevik internationalism and restored the former Russian life with its traditions, religion and culture.” But that is nonsense: “Stalin did not restore but destroyed to its foundations this former Russian life” in all its aspects. According to Shelin, “Stalinism as a regime begins with collectivization, with the destruction of the old peasantry” and his turn toward patriotism in the middle 1930s was not accompanied by the rehabilitation but rather the final destruction of those from the old order, including the church and the bureaucracy, who had somehow survived until then. Stalin showed himself totally uninterested in the real past; he was concerned only to create a present without roots that would support his rule. Shelin argues that “today’s buffoon conservatism is a direct and logical heir of the Stalinist variant,” one of the reasons that Stalin remains so alive to this day.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – Sixty-five years ago, Stalin physically died; but he continues to live on not so much in satirical films as in the minds of Vladimir Putin and his regime for whom Stalin is “a symbol justifying and rehabilitating the use of force in which the post-communist elites again see their salvation,” Vladimir Pastukhov says. In a major article on the Republic portal on this anniversary, the London-based Russian historian argues that what happened in the days, months and years following Stalin’s death critical for the understanding not only of why the Soviet Union and revolution collapsed but why Russia is in the shape it is today (republic.ru/posts/89793). According to Pastukhov, “the events of the cold summer of 1953 were fateful for Russia [and] the military coup organized by Khrushchev and carried out by Zhurkov remain an underrated act of Russian history,” one of the key turning points of the last century and far more important that Khrushchev’s secret speech in 1956. If one uses “present-day language,” the historian says, “Stalin died without having carried out Operation ‘Successor.’ After his death at the top of the pyramid of power were three leaders each of which in equal degree could pretend to the role of leader – Beria, Malenkov and Khrushchev.” Beria had all the advantages but one over Khrushchev, Pastukhov says; but Khrushchev had one over him: morality and opposition to the use of terror against the elites. Beria was cleverer and more ready for reforms; but Khrushchev played on the fear of his colleagues that the secret police chief would use his powers against them personally. “In essence,” the historian continues, “the victory of Khrushchev over Beria was the victory of hypocrisy over cynicism.” He argues that “the paradox here consisted in the fact that Beria was the only person in the top leadership who was in his own way ‘a free man,’” capable of looking at the world as it was rather than through ideological glasses. Beria “was prepared to make concessions on ideology in order to preserve his chief privilege – the right to engage in arbitrary actions, the right to carry out reprisals against any opponent without trial or investigation and the right to instill fear.” “Khrushchev, on the contrary, was a typical representative of that majority which had become the victim of an almost half-century-long and uninterrupted ideological processing and in the consciousness of which a healthy sense had been mixed together in a horrific way with communist dogmas.” It was not only that Khrushchev and the others were terrified of what Beria might do but also that “they really did not understand the meaning of his proposals.” They were terrified too about his idea that Geermany should be united and neutral as a way to overcoming the divisions of the world. Khrushchev and Beria’s other opponents, those who decided the latter’s fate at the July 1953 Central Committee plenum, “had long ago lost the ability to view the world as it was. Only when they spoke about their fears of Beria did they look at all natural.” They were thus inferior to Beria in everything except one: “on their side was historical justice.” The question naturally arises, Pastukhov says, as to how Khrushchev could have won out. Beria seemed to have all the cards, but viewed from this distance, it is clear that “the victory of the ‘weak’ Khrushchev looks however paradoxical this may soon historically more justified than the victory of the ‘strong’ Beria would have been.” The reason for that conclusion, Pastukhov says, is that the clash between Beria and Khrushchev was n fact less a personal one than a fight “between two political courses,” courses distinguished by their attitude toward force and truth. For Beria, “force remained the universal method of resolving tasks standing before society.” But “Khrushchev represented those who called for the limited application of force” because “he wanted to keep the genie in the bottle. That is because he unconsciously sought not so much a reduction in repression … as the introduction of methods which would contain arbitrariness within definite political-legal frameworks.” “Khrushchev was,” Pastukhov says, “still prepared to use terror against the population but he already could not allow anyone to terrorize ‘the party and government.’” Beria could be right on all other major issues and on many of them, he was; but “he could not offer a guarantee against arbitrary action.” That was what the party leadership and the people wanted. That neither Beria nor Khrushchev understood that they were the bearers of these ideas, the historian says, “doesn’t change the essence of the matter.” Pastukhov recalls Harvard historian Richard Pipes’ argument that 1953 was a revolution or counterrevolution, an insight that is extremely important. “Inspire of the words of the popular song in Soviet times that ‘a revolution has a beginning, it does not have an end,’ it fact revolutions have both a beginning and an end.” “Beria’s so-called ‘liberal’ reforms in those specific historical conditions would most likely have led to a completely unexpected and sad result,” Pastukhov says. They would have “de-ideologized” the system and led to “a vacuum of power.” And in this situation, it is quite possible that Beria would have turned to nationalism. More likely, however, his “reforms” would have led to the premature fusion of money and power and that would have “accelerated the inevitable destruction of Soviet statehood.” In that event, its agony would not have lasted longer than the remainder of Beria’s own life before ending in a complete collapse. There would not have been time for any “perestroika, thaw, the romantic 1960s, the consumerist 1970s and the stormy 1980s,” all of which prolonged the agony but ensured that the system ended without a civil war, the historian says. But viewed from today, Pipes’ observation that 1953 marked the end of the Russian revolution appears “very precise.” At the same time, however, “1953 was not only the end of one era but the beginning of the onset of another. The defeat of Beria and the victory of Khrushchev meant not only the end of the revolution but marked the birth of ‘soviet civilization’” which formed those who dominate Russia to this day. That year marked the apogee of “the Soviet period of Russian history … [and] if one follows the logic of Spengler, then one can say that the formation of ‘the communist system’ in this culmination point was completed. After that, it could only reveal its potential and gradually exhaust itself.” In this Soviet civilization, Pastukhov continues, people who were accustomed to one set of rules found themselves in another and found it hard to adapt. “War is horrible but children born during a war view it as normal and find it difficult to adapt to peace. In order to stop a revolution, much greater efforts are required from society than to begin it.” “The genie is easier to release from the bottle than to be driven back in,” he argues. The escape from revolution which relies on force generally lies through the use of force and passes through two stages. Indeed, “often the exit from revolution turns out to be bloodier than entrance into it. And this is understandable: the affirmation of a new order is a much more complicated task than the destruction of the old.” In the first stage, there occurs “the formal denial of revolution.” The use of force on which it is based is limited. “The war of all against all is transformed into the war of the state against society;” and it is at this stage that the revolution “’devours its children.’” In the Soviet case, that began in 1929. Then in the second stage, “the spirit of force of the revolution itself is denied. This is a double ‘denial of the denial’” in which the horrors of the first counter-revolution are rejected and then the horrors of the revolution as such. “This stage” in the case of the Soviet Union “began in 1953, the year which divides Soviet history almost precisely in half.” Another way to look at 1953, Pastukhov suggests, is that the decision of the July 1953 plenum “can be considered as the moment of the birth of a specific and contradictory ‘Soviet constitutionalism.’” Indeed, because what happened then enjoyed the support of the leaders and the people, it was “more ‘constitutional’ than is present-day Russian constitutionalism.” This consensus, of course, was based on an internal contradiction in the arguments of the leadership, Pastukhov says. On the one hand, by preserving “communist dogma,” Khrushchev also kept the principle that the state could use force. But on the other, Khrushchev “instinctively and following the spirit of the times moved against the use of force.” That contradiction ultimately spelled the destruction of “’Soviet civilization,’” but after a sufficient time that no one came its defense when it collapsed. Instead, Pastukhov points out, “the death of Soviet civilization was almost as peaceful as the death of the 300-year-old empire which preceded it. It simply exhausted itself and gave up the ghost in 1989.” Unfortunately, 25 years later, Putin and many around him would like to turn back the clock not in the name of any ideology but rather in order to be able to use force in an arbitrary fashion to ensure that no one can challenge their power. Whether they can succeed and for how long is the chief drama of Russia today.
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Paul Goble Staunton, March 2 – Among the many revealing remarks Vladimir Putin made during his address yesterday was his observation that foreigners “called the USSR Soviet Russia,” a comment that reflects both his obvious belief that the Soviet Union should never have fallen apart and his apparent need to invoke the opinions of outsiders to justify that belief. The implication that the USSR was “Soviet Russia” because some foreigners called it that, of course, plays to Putin’s oft-suggested notions that it was a country rather than an empire, that its colonies should have known their place, and that, having recovered itself, Russia has every right to dominate them once again. Putin’s remarks about “Soviet Russia” came at the start of the section of his speech devoted to his view that Moscow has no choice but to rearm in the face of threats from the United States to Russia’s ability to defend itself with its nuclear arsenal (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2018/03/01/vladimir_putin_za_granicej_sssr_nazyvali_sovetskaya_rossiya/). “After the collapse of the USSR,” the Kremlin leader said, “Russia which in Soviet times foreigners called Soviet Russia in speaking about our national borders lost 23.8 percent of its territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 percent of its GDP, 39.4 percent of its industrial potential … and 44.6 percent of its military capacity I connection with the division of the USSR Armed Forces among the former union republics.” After 1991, Putin continued, “technology in the Russian army grew old and out of date, the Armed Forces were, we have to say directly, in a terrible condition. In the Caucasus, a civil war was raging, and in our leading enterprises for the enrichment of uranium sat American inspectors.” “At one point,” he said, “the question even arose as to whether we could develop a system of strategic arms, with some asking whether our country was in a position to securely store and service nuclear weapons left to us after the collapse of the USSR. Russia was in debt to everyone … it was impossible to support the social sphere.” And he continued: “Apparently our partners came to the conclusion that the rebirth of the economy, industry, military-industrial complex and Armed Forces of our country to the level necessary to support its strategic potential in the foreseeable future was impossible. And if this was so, then there was no reason to take the opinion of Russia into consideration.” That Western view, Putin said, led the US to pull out of the ABM Treaty, expand NATO eastward toward Russia’s borders, and proceed with a missile defense system intended to make Russia’s nuclear arsenal an ineffective defense. Despite Russian protests, the West has continued to do so. Up to now, he said, the West has ignored us
The paradox of 2018 can be summarised as follows: Russia is in deep social, political, and economic crisis. … But, while Russians are aware of this state of affairs, regime change is highly unlikely. There is no critical mass of people demanding radical change and, contrary to Western fantasies, Russians under the age of 25 are among the most conservative and pro-Putin groups in society. But while Russia is not on the edge of regime change, the regime is changing. The coming presidential election will mark the arrival of post-Putin Russia regardless of whether Putin remains the head of state for the next six or 16 years. This is because, following the vote, the behaviour of Russia’s major political and economic players will be defined not by Putin’s presence in the system but by the expectation of his departure. Most Western analysts fail to see the pending arrival of the new era primarily because they assume that post-Putin Russia will be an anti-Putin Russia … Many Western observers find it difficult to understand that, for most Russians, Putin is not simply a president but the true founder of the post-Soviet Russian state … similar to that of the national liberation leaders of the 1960s and the 1970s. Therefore, his successor – whoever he or she is – will claim to defend Putin’s legacy even while intending to break from it. In the 2018 election, Putin is not so much a candidate as a “prize”: the real suspense is in which of the Kremlin’s competing elite groups will be able to credibly claim to have achieved victory for him. Members of the Russian elite now know that the president is focused on designing post-Putin Russia – even if they have no power to influence his choices. Putin is doubtlessly aware that the absence of any vision of the country’s future without him could dramatically weaken his standing in the eyes of ordinary Russians. In our view, four factors will shape this vision. The first of these is Putin’s belief that the country will face a hostile international environment and that its rivals will use all means at their disposal to weaken and fragment it. Therefore, he sees post-Putin Russia as Fortress Russia … But Putin is also aware that the “Crimea effect” cannot be replicated, and that the legitimacy of the government and the survival of the regime will depend on its ability to satisfy the basic material needs of the population. The second factor is Putin’s conviction that Russia has nothing to gain from imitating Western-style institutions – or, put differently, Russia should imitate what the West is doing (interfering in domestic politics) and not what it is preaching. The third factor is that, while members of the Russian elite once perceived modernisation as centred on Western-style institutional reform, they now view it as an attempt to maintain Russia’s competitiveness in the development of new technology. The fourth factor is Putin’s conviction that Russia needs not a single successor – as it did under Boris Yeltsin – but a successor generation. He sees the coming transition as a transfer of power from his generation to the “Putin generation”, comprising politicians who came of age during, and have been shaped by, Putin’s rule. The fast promotion of the sons and daughters of senior figures in the elite is critical to the president’s plans for post-Putin Russia. There has been a major change in the behaviour and career trajectories of leaders-in-waiting in the last few years: if the sons and daughters of the Yeltsin-era elite tended to study and work abroad, those of the current elite often study in the West but usually work in Russia – many of them for the state. Post-Putin Russia has begun to arrive not only because the president is preoccupied with his vision for it; some key members of the Russian elite have also started preparing for the realities of this new era. They have begun to transform the access to the president that is their major source of power into a political currency that will retain its value after Putin leaves the Kremlin. Despite these significant domestic changes, Putin’s position as the ultimate decision-maker on foreign policy will ensure that Russia continues its aggressive efforts to secure a role as a global power. In this, a perceived need to counter American influence will be the dominant rationale of Russian foreign policy.
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Paul Goble Staunton, March 4 – Over the last two decades, the rapid urbanization of many of the peoples of the North Caucasus, their migration to other parts of the Russian Federation, and declining albeit still high fertility rates have transformed these peoples from archaic to modernizing nations, according to Konstantin Kazenin. The Caucasus specialist at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service told Sergey Markedonov in an interview for the Prague-based Caucasus Times that it is a fundamental but widespread misconception to continue to call these peoples “archaic” (caucasustimes.com/ru/demografija-na-severnom-kavkaze-bet-po-tradicionalizmu-konstantin-kazenin/). In reality, Kazenin says, while the North Eastern Caucasus continued to be distinguished from peoples in other parts of Russia, “over recent decades this very system has changed essentially as a result of urbanization, migration and declines in the number of children per woman over a lifetime. The process isn’t over – it normally takes “a minimum of two generations,” Kazenin says – and it is accompanied by stresses that can tear a society apart and lead to the emergence of radicalism of various kinds, especially when the first generation to have left the village reaches adulthood, something that is happening just now in this region. In support of this argument, Kazenin suggests that when the history of the Arab Spring is written seriously “and not at the level of ‘Churchill dreamed this all up in 1918,” people will find that “in a number of the countries involved, protests were preceded by decades of intensive migration from villages into the cities.” They will also find that the migrants often are at loose ends while the traditional clans in the villages are able despite the loss of population to control more things, something via political alliances and sometimes via the criminal world. That has certainly been the pattern in Daghestan, for instance, the Moscow scholar says. At the same time, Kazenin argues, clans today in Dahgestan are not that different from family groups elsewhere in Russia, although they assumed a much larger role in the first years after the disintegration of the USSR “when the federal authorities were present there only nominally” and to a certain extent they have maintained that large position. Outmigration has also played a role in changing the social structure and values of the northeastern Caucasus, he continues. But especially important has been the decline in the fertility rate in its societies. In the 1960s, most women there had four children, while in Russia even then it was fewer than two. Now the North Caucasian women have fewer although not as few as Russians do. This change not only affects overall demographic numbers. “It typically goes in parallel with very serious changes in the private life of the ordinary individual because if the average family has many children,” the roles of women and men remain traditional because a woman who bears four children is out of the workforce for a long time and must defer to her husband. With fewer children, she can get an education and hold a job more easily; and she is thus in a better position to challenge traditional family patterns, Kazenin says. When fertility rates fall, the requirements of looking after children cease to serve as “the cement” holding the traditional family and more broadly society in place. That leads to dramatic changes in gender roles and in social structures, he continues. “Our field research in Daghestan finds, for example, a reduction in the share of marriages concluded at the initiative of older relatives and the growth, although still slow, of the fraction of marriages between people of different nationalities.” “And even those aspects of fertility in the northeastern Caucasus which set it apart from other regions of Russia such as early marriage and an early ‘start’ of maternity should not be considered today as a mechanic following of some ‘archaic’ pattern.” In most cases, these are a conscious and religious choice rather than ‘a blind reproduction of norms.” What is even more important, Kazenin suggests, is that people in the region are beginning to discuss that which in the past was not talked about: “family violence, forced marriages, and the serious psychological barriers between daughters and relatives … Twenty years ago, there simply wasn’t any language to talk about these things in public.” Now such a language exists, and women as well as men are using it. That is “a hundred times more important” than almost anything else in promoting the continuing transformation of these societies, Kazenin concludes.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 6 – Foreign governments are seeking to change the attitudes of young people everywhere in hopes “of transforming them into an instrument for undermining national political systems and realizing scenarios of ‘color revolutions’ and the overthrow of existing governments,” according to a report prepared by a special commission of the Federation Council. The classified report, a copy of which the RBC news agency obtained, says that in the case of Russia, these foreign governments seek to create such a possibility 10 to 15 years from now and “transform both the foreign and domestic policy [of the country] to correspond to the interests of foreign paymasters” (rbc.ru/politics/06/03/2018/5a9d55c69a794753c16d1ccb). The authors of the report told RBC that they believe opposition figure Aleksey Navalny is the harbinger of this effort; and they note in the classified segment of the report that “Washington ‘and its traditional allies including from the south’ are artificially stimulating problem areas in Russia in inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations.” In the open part of the report, the commission says Moscow will “struggle with threats of negative ‘foreign influence of an anti-Russian direction in the sphere of culture,’ views sanctions as an instrument of foreign pressure” against “the financial-economic sovereignty” of Russia” and will study “the intensification of the consolidation of forces of the world community to oppose the illegal policy of interfering in the sovereign affairs of UN member states.” Senator Andrey Klimov, the chairman of the commission that prepared this report, said in a speech before its release that the US is seeking to present the upcoming Russian presidential elections as illegitimate by suggesting that any level of participation above 45 percent shows officials have falsified the outcome (graniru.org/Politics/Russia/Cabinet/m.268104.html). He added that his commission has received “reliable reports that in practically all federal districts of Russia, various means from the outside for stimulating various kinds of interference in the upcoming elections” and that the groundwork is being laid for protests that may in fact take place to “rock the boat” and delegitimize the vote in the eyes of Russians. Another commission member, Senator Konstantin Kosachev, says that Western efforts in this regard are focusing on an ever younger target audience. “Today this consists not only of students but of pupils and not only those in the upper grades” (graniru.org/Politics/Russia/Parliament/Sovfed/m.268118.html). Thus the battle has been joined not just regarding the results of the March 18 elections but over “the outcome of future elections and not just over the children but even the grandchildren raised on social networks and videogames.” Adults are not always able to understand what is going on and counter it. The most intriguing message of this report is that the West has already concluded that it can’t affect the March 18 re-coronation of Vladimir Putin but instead is looking far into the future, that it has a long-term plan to do so, and that the Russian authorities must counter that plan lest it succeed.
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Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – Soviet nationality policy denatured the ethnic Russians into part of the Soviet people while creating conditions for the rise of ethnocratic regimes in the union republics, Sergey Vasilyev says. Now, Moscow’s nationality policy is doing the same thing with equally disastrous consequences ahead. “The national identity” of non-ethnic Russians [rossiyane] has the very same ‘Achilles’ heel’ that ‘the united Soviet people did,” the Russian commentator says. It can continue to exist “only under conditions of a strong central power whose any weakening will lead to the disintegration of the country along the borders of compactly settled ethnoses.” Exactly the same outcome, he suggests, as what happened in 1991 (cont.ws/@sevariga/872080). It is “above all necessary to recognize,” Vasiliyev continues, “that a supra-nationality of the type of ‘the Soviet people’ is a myth and that there are various ethoses each of which has its own interests and stereotypes” and that while such groups may be “condemned to coexistence on one territory for a long time,” they are not pleased about it. “Peaceful coexistence on one territory of various ethnic groups and national formations is possible only on the basis of civic consensus … when each of these groups refrains from words and actions which are unacceptable for its neighbors.” That cannot be imposed from above but must arise from below, but it can be developed by discussion. The situation in the Russian Federation in this regard is complicated by three things: First, where once there were two or three ethnic groups in a place, now mobility means there are many; second, this combination leads to the rise of new groups who don’t understand the old rules; and third, the new groups in many cases do not even suspect there should be rules. One can fight that if one recognizes it and works to promote formal rules rather than informal understandings, Vasilyev says. The key thing here is that “each ethnos must rein in its own nationalists and not shift responsibility for that onto its neighbors.” Everything else needed is secondary, he suggests. According to the Russian commentator, “the greatest mistake is the opinion that only the state can generate and formulate rules of co-existence. Any mixed family is a ready-made example of ethnic consensus” with each of its members coming to recognize what is permitted and what is not in this regard. The same thing is true in multi-national workplaces, he continues. Formalizing that requires the involvement of many groups. Otherwise, ethnic Russians will continue to have their rights violated to the point of genocide. Having such an accord won’t prevent its denunciation, of course. “But to denounce an agreement and to declare that not agreement in general exists is, as they say in Odessa, ‘two very different things.’” In working toward this, “practically nothing depends on ‘the power vertical.’ Just the reverse: it critically depends on the pluses and minuses of civil society, the formation of which … is completely and absolutely on the conscience of ordinary citizens.” The agreements people are able to reach in small groups need to become the basis for agreements in the larger world. Trying to do the reverse will not work. The reason this is so necessary, Vasilyev says, is that there is a real danger that nothing will be done and that things will once again spiral out of control.
Two-thirds of Russians follow the course of the Russian military operation in Syria, which started in the autumn of 2015, and has been declared …
Paul Goble Staunton, March 3 – Over the last month, the number of scandals in or involving Russia has increased to the point that ever fewer Russians accept the kakocracy’s customary explanations that what obviously happened didn’t, that everyone does it and so it doesn’t matter, and that everything is the work of the special services of Western enemies. That Russian officials assume that their “arguments” will be accepted, Viktoriya Voloshina of Rosbalt says, shows that Russia is now governed by a kakocracy, a regime in which “at the end of state institutions are the worst of its citizens” and one which displays “a minimum of effectiveness, legitimacy and accountability” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/03/02/1686265.html). Indeed, in the wake of the cocaine scandal involving Russian diplomats in Argentina, she continues, “it is now completely possible to joke also about a Russian ‘cocacracy.’ In any case, as some are saying on social networks, an answer to the question ‘What are they sniffing?’ now has at last a concrete answer.” A new development that has sent the regime’s credibility on such issues plunging is that Russian officials increasingly treat reports or criticism of Russians as more serious than any crime or scandal they may be talking about. That happened most recently in the case of the cocaine scandal. In the minds of the kakocracy but not of the Russian people, Voloshina says, “the post of a blogger blacked the country more than the 400 kilograms whose transport involved employees of the foreign ministry or the FSB.” Anyone who criticizes the powers that be is in the minds of such a regime worse than the actions of the regime that justify such criticism. It doesn’t matter where you study or work, she continues. “The main thing is to demonstrate correct ‘pro-Russian views,’” an attitude that recalls an anecdote at the time of the Pussy Riot case. A boy asks his father if he can shoot a pistol at passersby. His father says, sure, shoot as many as you like. “The main thing is don’t dance in a church!” Today, Voloshina says. One can update this: “’Lie, son, sniff, curse or kill. But the main thing is don’t say that in the country lies and theft have triumphed.’ That’s ‘anti-Soviet.”
Paul Goble Staunton, March 6 – Damir Muratov, the artist who designed the United States of Siberia flag that has been displayed in exhibits and in demonstrations in various cities, says he is involved in coming up with a new language that reflects the distinctiveness of Siberian culture rather than promoting any independence movement. Nonetheless, he says, “Siberia still remains a colony, with most of its people consisting of those who fled or were exiled from elsewhere. There was no serfdom in Siberia and so the mentality here is somewhat different from European regions of Russia.” (afterempire.info/2018/03/06/damir/). In addition, Muratov says, “one should not forget that the national composition [of Siberia’s population] is extremely varied: one should not talk only about Russians say or only about Tatars. And so this really in a certain way recalls the early United States, as I have symbolically presented in my picture” of a Siberian flag. This flag, despite the claims of its opponents, is not the banner of any Siberian national movement, the artist says. Rather one should see it as “a flag which unifies Siberia’s creative people” who feel tied to the region but want to give it a new language and a new way of viewing the world. Muratov says he is skeptical of any plans for independence, despite the natural wealth of Siberia, given that the 15 million people who live in the region are so widely dispersed. More important, he continues, “the Siberian people is only just being formed,” a process that really has begun only in “the era of the post-Soviet space.” Siberians, he continues, believe that they will always live in this region even if they go to Russia or Europe for a time; and they want a language to distinguishes them from others. They want their lives to be interesting and dynamic on their own and not as a copy of anyone else’s. What happens next will depend on what officials do and “the psychology of local residents.”
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Paul Goble Staunton, March 6 – Often violent, even deadly clashes between criminal groups consisting of North Caucasians and those made up of Central Asians are an increasing feature of life in Moscow, the result of the crisis in the Russian economy and the ever more salient differences between these two communities. The latest, four days, ago between Tajiks and Chechens, claimed six lives; but such battles have become so frequent, Asamat Dadayev of OnKavkaz says, that they seldom attract the kind of media attention that would allow Muscovites to make distinctions but only enough to generate xenophobia and fear (onkavkaz.com/news/2145-v-perestrelke-chechencev-i-tadzhikov-v-moskve-raneny-6-chelovek-kavkaz-i-azija-stalkivayutsja-v.html). That is because the two groups fit into a single narrative: Muslim gastarbeiters from Central Asia and the Caucasus do not fit into Russian life and represent a threat to the Russian community, a view that is once again spreading after it was briefly eclipsed by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the Crimean Anschluss. In fact, of course, these two groups are very different as are as solutions to the problem. Gastarbeiters from Central Asia increasingly do not know Russian and are the citizens of foreign countries who can be excluded by means of visa restrictions, while North Caucasians do know Russian and have Russian citizenship, something that makes it harder to keep them out. That gives the North Caucasians certain advantages, advantages that are increased by the power of Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov to challenge any Russian official who goes after members of his nation; and it is entirely possible that the North Caucasians are now using such advantages – and that their use of them threatens the Central Asians and is causing these clashes.
Having lived his whole life in the shadow of the dictator who executed his father, Aleksei Nesterenko now pickets each Wednesday, calling for a museum in the Moscow building where his father was ex…
Paul Goble Staunton, March 1 – In the face of the cocaine scandal, “the official Russian position is to deny everything,” Kirill Martynov says; but it is doing so in a way that justifies speaking of a new phenomenon “post lies” as the most effective means of countering what it has promoted before “post truth,” a media state in which everything appears equally probable or improbable. The Novaya gazeta commentator says that one should pay attention to the fact that “our officials always begin by asking” in response to any questions about what Moscow is accused of doing, “like the hero Arnold Schwarzenegger plays in the film ‘Red Heat’ ‘What is your evidence?’” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/02/27/75638-dognat-i-perevrat). After these officials are presented with the facts, they respond with striking speed in every case: “This still doesn’t show anything.” And that pattern shows, Martynov says, that “while the entire world is discussing what is post-truth … Russia again has proceeded along its own special path.” “We have invented the post lie, known also as ‘the denial.’ In which any event can with confidence be called invented if one wants to and if the bosses firmly insist on that,” the commentator continues. Against this, “both rational arguments and obvious facts are powerless;” and because they are, “all our present-day geopolitical greatness is being built on that basis.” Once again, the West is lagging behind: it investigates reports of any problems rather than simply denying everything from first to last.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 3 – On March 2, 1930, Pravda published what came to be known as Stalin’s “dizzy with success” speech in which he suggested that when successes are achieved with “relative ‘ease,’ that induces “a spirit of vanity and conceit” and the notion that “’we can achieve anything’” overnight because “’there is nothing we can’t do.’” Stalin’s words were directed at those communists who had carried out his orders to collectivize agriculture, a program that cost millions of lives and that many Ukrainians and others to this day refer to as an act of genocide. But the psychological problem arising from easy successes lives on in his successor, Vladimir Putin. In a comment for Rosbalt, Vladislav Inozemtsev argues that Putin and his team are “dizzy from impunity,” from the fact that they can behave as they like, lie about it, and continue to get away with whatever it is they are caught at. Indeed, the Moscow economist says, this has become “the new normal” for the Kremlin (rosbalt.ru/posts/2018/03/01/1685841.html). Over the last five years, Inozemtsev says, the Putin regime has gone through one scandal after another, doping at the Sochi Olympiad, oligarchs and prostitutes, cocaine smuggling, and the loss of mercenaries in Syria. Each time, many have treated these as somehow unique and almost an accident. But none of them has been. Instead, he argues, “before us is ‘the new moral’” for the Putin regime, one in which “the Russian political elite has lost not so much its carefulness as its sense of the limits of the permissible.” And its members do not understand how in today’s transparent world, they are going to be caught and caught in their lies about what has happened every time. “It seems to me,” Inozemtsev continues, “that the impressive scandals of the last weeks is only the very beginning of the falling into public view of ‘skeletons from Slavic and not very Slavic closets which have been distributed practically everywhere throughout Russia from little cities on the periphery to the Kremlin itself.” And all this has “a single cause,” he suggests. There are too many Russian bosses who imagine themselves to be demiurges who can do anything and too many Kremlin inmates who have sold each other the illusion that the world they have invented is in fact real.” But “a lie does not become true even if it is uttered by the president, not to mention his press secretary.” Moreover, a secret doesn’t remain that just because someone has stamped a folder with that word. “As long as people in Moscow don’t understand this,” Inozemtsev says, “Russia will remain the chief supplier of dirty sensations for the rest of the world.” And all the evidence available shows that they don’t understand it at all.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 2 – Andrey Piontkovsky, a US-based Russian commentator says that his hopes that someone will emerge from within the Putin elite to challenge the Kremlin leader are fading and that this presages a future for that country which may prove to be even worse than the time presided over by Vladimir Putin. The analyst had placed great hopes that the sanctions overwhelmingly approved by the US Congress but only partially implemented by the Trump Administration would split the ruling stratum in Moscow, but he now says that group’s acceptance of what Putin has done, on display at the Kremlin leader’s speech, leaves him pessimistic (rusmonitor.com/a-piontkovskijj-o-situacii-v-strane-v-rossii-sgushhaetsya-atmosfera-polnogo-krakha-i-provala-rezhima.html). The series of failures and mistakes the Putin regime has made and continues to make would prompt divisions and demands for change in almost any country in the world, Piontkovsky says; but in Russia today, he says, he very much fears that it won’t and that even if Putin departs, “this will change nothing in the country.” “Where are those people who could … conduct some kind of sensible policy” instead? “If they swallow the military ‘Tsushima’ in Syria” – a reference to the killing of Russian forces there by the Americans on February 7-8 – they are hardly likely to oppose equally noxious policies and may even do worse. “In general,” Piontkovsky says, “the powers that be morally and ideologically are simply falling apart in front of our eyes. But I as their opponent do not have any optimism because I see the ciphers of the entire elite as a whole and the complete lack of state thinking” among them. “Very difficult times await us” as things move toward “the complete collapse of the regime.”
Paul Goble Staunton, March 4 – Military rhetoric has become so pervasive in Russia that Moscow’s Novyye izvestiya decided to republish some advice for ordinary Russians from the “Black Sun” Teelgram channel on how those who today “so joyfully listen to the militarist speeches of the authorities” should act “if tomorrow there is a war.” (The “Black Sun” original which contains advice developed on the basis of experience in the wars in Chechnya and the former Yugoslavia appeared at /telegra.ph/Nachalas-vojna-chto-delat-02-19; the Novyye izvestiya repeat at /newizv.ru/article/general/04-03-2018/esli-zavtra-voyna-poleznye-sovety-obyvatelyu.) Among Black Sun’s observations, many of which are certain to frighten Russians and lead them to take actions the authorities may not be pleased about, are: There is a widespread myth that in our days, it is possible to follow a war on television. In fat, wherevere wars begin, there is never any television … It appears when everything is already over in order to show mass burials or what is burning or exploding. Real war is much more horrible than the imation of those of us who haven’t been in one. If a war begins, you should as quickly as circumstances permit get out of the city. Already on the first day of military operations there won’t be electricity, water, gas, heat, mobile telephone networks, or wife – in short nothing which supports urban life. Immediately the problem of survival begins. Do you have several days of food in your home? You’ll need them: stores and gas stations will cease to work already on the first day, approximately when stealing from them begins. If you go to a store, it is best to go with friends – you will be able to carry away more goods and there will be a chance you won’t have them taken away from you on the way home. In the first days of the wwar, society by inertia will preserve some of the sitns of culture, and banditry and a sense that everything is permissible will still not be widespread, although this will quickly happen and therefore you need guns … the person with a gun is always right … You need a gund otherwise very soon you won’t have food or drinking water or warm clothes or anthing that will help you survive. I have friends who have an entire arsenal at home with which they can fight for a year or a year and a half … Those who have a battery-operated radio are in a much better situation than those who don’t. It is difficult to survive in a city … [but] if you set off on the road to leave, you must understand army psychology. The most important thing is to show in every possible way that you are a civilian. If you for some reason don camouflage, dresss like Rambo and go into the street … you are already dead. Don’t in any case approach a soldier even if he appears friendly or supplies at you. Go away as quickly as possible … Army units in a city often very poorly understand what is taking place and where their opponents are. Almost always in such a moment, they shoot even at their own, and they always shoot at incautioius civilians. [But] remember while you are in a city, tehre is the chance to steal fuel. Once you are beyond the city, [your chances improve if you have a dacha or your family or friends do]. Then the chief task is to defend your home from bandits who will want to take verything from you. It isn’t hard to defend oneself against one or two bandits but to fight off ten or more is. Again, guns are very much neede, but if there aren’t any, remember the Middle Ages and you will have varioius options [including throwing gas on the bandits and then lighting it]. Armies most likely won’t be interested in your country home so that the chances to survive active military moves are greater and then you can look around and figure out what to do next. [But] now the very most important thing: if in peacetime, you make even the most elementary preparattions for the black day, and this will help a great deal if such a day comes … Think about your routes and methods of evacuation … keep your car filled with gas … have a backpack filled with everything necessary … and acquire a gun. War is blood and dirt … much worse than described here. Let us home that the idiot politicians, extremists and degenerates of all sorts will never lead us into it. Black Sun is with you. Take care of yourselves.
The cockpit voice recorder from a Russian airliner that crashed outside Moscow in February captured the desperate last words of the pilots as they tried to reverse the aircraft’s downward course sh…
A former Russian police officer has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of murdering 19 women in Siberia.
Icarus, a film about doping in Russia has won the Oscar for the best documentary.
The Academy Award for best documentary has gone to Icarus, a film that investigates allegations of widespread doping within elite Russian sporting circles. The film’s director, Bryan Fogel, said it reveals “corruption at its highest level.” His main collaborator on the documentary, a former anti-doping official, is now in hiding under threat of prosecution by Russian officials.
The winter of 2017-18 was the warmest on record for the Arctic, U.S. and Russian scientists have reported in separate studies.
A Russian civil rights activist who was put on trial for posting online videos deemed by authorities as “extremist” has received a suspended two-year prison sentence.
Animal-protection activists in Russia have discovered millions of rubles worth of state tenders for the killing of stray dogs and cats in cities that will host this summer’s soccer World Cup.
Police in St. Petersburg say they have apprehended a group of Russian men who are accused of fabricating and selling phony identification documents from a nonexistent Caribbean island state.
Reports from Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya say at least six people have been killed in a helicopter crash near the border with Georgia.
Skinheads, truckers, schoolkids, drinkers … Victoria Lomasko captures everyday Russians in powerful graphic novels. Now she’s in Britain with On the Eve, a show to mark ‘Putin’s re-election’
A committee of the Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, says it has received an official complaint from a journalist accusing Leonid Slutsky of sexually harassing her, the latest suc…
Russia’s ban from international athletics over widespread doping was extended by the sport’s governing body on March 6 and the country was warned it could face further sanctions this year.
Balkars in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria are marking the 74th anniversary of their mass deportation to Central Asia by Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
The long-imprisoned tycoon and supporter of civil society spoke in London on the day that Putin restarted the nuclear arms race. Since then, another exile may have been poisoned.
Central Asia / Caucasus Reports
Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence is planning to acquire additional Sukhoi Su-30SM ‘Flanker’ fighters jets, the TASS newspaper reported on 06 March. The Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan plans to conclude a contract with Russia to supply Su-30SM aircraft to the republic. “Within the framework of the agreement on military-technical cooperation with the Russian Federation in 2018, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan plans to conclude a contract for the supply of Su-30SM multipurpose aircraft, and until 2020 it is planned to purchase additional Su-30SM aircraft and Mi-35 helicopters,” reported by TASS.
Paul Goble Staunton, March 1 – Nursultan Nazarbayev’s order that Kazakh is to be written in Latin script rather than a Cyrillic one and even more his directive that the government and parliament are to use Kazakh rather than Russian recalls the moment Ukraine took similar decisions in the past – but with one significant difference so far, Vitaly Portnikov says. “When similar decisions were taken in Kyiv, official Moscow exploded with anger and began to speak about growing nationalism, and pro-Russian politicians began to talk about the diminution of rights of Russian speakers,” the Ukrainian commentator observes. But nothing similar has happened in the Kazakhstan case (graniru.org/opinion/portnikov/m.267993.html). The Kremlin is keeping quiet, “and there are simply no pro-Russian politicians in Kazakhstan.” Nazarbayev was one for a time, but clearly he isn’t anymore else how would he have “taken decisions which in the future will lead not just to a governmental break between Russia and Kazakhstan but a more profound civilizational one as well?” Nazarbayev has remained in power as long as he has because he has always been sensitive to what is going on around him and acted accordingly. His Kazakhstan was the last republic to declare independence “not because Nazarbayev didn’t want this but because he had to demonstrate to the numerous Russian population of his republic his attachment to the Union.” Afterwards, he was “the initiator of the establishment of the Eurasian Union when his colleagues didn’t want to hear about any integration” and openly disparaged his ideas. That and his governing style reassured the ethnic Russians and other Russian speakers in Kazakhstan that everything would continue as it has. And then “suddenly this turn of events.” But in fact, Portnikov argues, it was not “sudden” at all. Nazarbayev simply has drawn conclusions from the Russian attack on Ukraine. He “could not fail to notice that where there were many Russians and Russians speakers,” Moscow had a relatively easy time in its aggression. When there weren’t, it didn’t. That is why, the Ukrainian analyst says, Nazarbayev has decided to elevate the status of the Kazakh language and to “transform Kazakhstan residents from Soviet people into a Kazakh political nation.” Had Russia shown itself to be a good neighbor, this would never have happened or at least not yet. “But Putin’s Russia has ceased t be post-Soviet: it has transformed itself into an aggressive and unpredictable formation ready for expansion and wars,” Portnikov continues. And in response, “Nazarbayev’s Kazakshtan has ceased to be post-Soviet too – it is becoming Kazakh.” It could hardly be otherwise given that “when Putin attacked Ukraine, he lost not only Ukraine: he lost Kazakhstan as well; and not only Kazakhstan.” Portnikov is absolutely right that official Moscow has not responded with anger to Kazakhstan’s moves on the alphabet and language, although part of the reason for that may be the election campaign in which the Kremlin leader wants there to be only good news and no indications of trouble ahead. But within the Moscow commentariat, there are echoes of the more aggressive approach Putin adopted about Ukraine. Some have complained that Nazarbayev has “banned” Russian altogether (topcor.ru/299-pochemu-nazarbaev-otreksya-ot-russkogo.html), while others say that his country faces dismemberment (newsland.com/community/7268/content/mysli-vslukh-nazarbaev-reshil-sozdat-vse-usloviia-dlia-budushchego-raschleneniia-kazakhstana/6232419). One can only hope that cooler heads prevail in the Kremlin and that Putin does not try to repeat his Ukrainian operation in Kazakhstan or elsewhere. Such efforts would be disastrous because as Nazarbayev’s actions show, ever more non-Russian leaders have taken Putin’s measurement and also take steps to prevent him from achieving his goals.
Russia has not decided yet whether it needs another military base in Kyrgyzstan, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said on March 6.
The European Union has criticized Belarus for executing convicted murderer Kiryl Kazachok and urged President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s government to abolish capital punishment.
President of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, stated that disputes over milk supplies have again escalated between Belarus and the …
Twenty-two-year-old Vadim Lipinski, who grew up disabled in an orphanage in Belarus, is about to race for his country at the Paralympics in South Korea. For the young skier, the chance to win gold is a lifelong dream, but he’s pursuing other dreams as well: a closer relationship with his birth parents and a home and family of his own.
A Minsk-based human rights group says Belarusian authorities more than four months ago executed a man who had been convicted of killing his own children.
Transnistria / Moldova Reports
Pro-EU parliamentary leaders from Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia say the continued presence of Russian troops in their countries is destabilizing.
The parliament speakers of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have agreed to establish an Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the three countries, …
The Act comes into effect on March 13
Paul Goble Staunton, March 1 – A Russian nationalist commentator says that Moldova is on the brink of a civil war between those who want to keep the country independent and those who want to unite with Romania, that such a war would lead to the disintegration of Moldova, and that this danger is being increased by the actions of the United Statess. In an essay for the Stoletiye portal, Vladimir Malyshev argues that Bucharest is colluding with activists in the regions and politicians in Chisinau to promote the unification of the two states, something that could happen this summer when the Romanian and Moldovan parliaments hold a joint session (stoletie.ru/tekuschiiy_moment/prizrak_grazhdanskoj_vojny_300.htm). The prime ministers of the two countries agreed on this joint meeting when they met in Chisinau last week, despite the opposition of the Moldovan president; and to date, more than 50 villages and towns have declared that they would like to see Moldova and Romania united in one country, something that Malyshev says would result in the disappearance of Moldova. If some in Moldova continue to seek unity with Romania, the Russian commentator says, both non-Moldovan areas in Moldova and many Moldovans will oppose them, possibly to the point of armed conflict. Transdniestria would never agree to be part of a Romanian state, and the Gagauz autonomy has already asked Turkey to defend it against such a prospect. In addition, the Bulgarian-majority regions would probably follow Gagauzia in seeking independent statehood if Moldova and Romania were to come together; and many ordinary Moldovans, including those who voted for the current president Igor Dodon would oppose such a step as well. “Therefore,” Malyshev says, “uniting with Romania threatens to result not only in the death of Moldovan statehood but the loss of a significant part of its territory.” Dodon has been warning against this and demanding that Moldova maintain its neutral position in the world by standing apart from the alliances and organizations of both the West and Russia. Exacerbating this situation, he continues, is Washington which was recently visited by the pro-Romanian Moldovan politician who lost the presidency to Dodon and where the House of Representatives has issued a report calling for expanded American involvement in Moldova to counter Russian propaganda, code he suggests, for the US to act as he says it did in Ukraine. Malyshev’s predictions may be overly alarmist, but they are important for two reasons. On the one hand, they suggest how many in Moscow view the situation in Moldova and how the Russian side hopes to use the ethnic minorities in Transdniestria, Gagauzia and elsewhere to oppose even a rapprochement between Moldova and Romania, let alone unification. And on the other, his argument highlights the ways in which Moscow now acts on the assumption that behind any move that Moscow doesn’t like stand the Americans, a form of political paranoia that raises the stakes in each conflict and makes their resolution more rather than less difficult.
Foreign Policy Reports
British neo-Nazis fighting in Ukraine are part of a wider scene. If we are to fight it, facts will not be enough, says the Ukrainian-American journalist Natalia Antonova
An analysis of social networks reveals how Kremlin-backed media outlets boosted xenophobic discourse.
What fake stories are like, the use of propaganda as a weapon, and a threat of Russian trolls meddling in Italian elections were among the issues discussed at a conference held by the Institute of International Relations and the Ukrainian fact-checking community StopFake in Rome.
The anti-establishment 5 Star Movement (M5S) and the right-wing Lega party were arguably the main winners at Italy’s election on Sunday, with both parties seeing their share of the vote grow dramatically.
Bleak times, these. If the lights are not going out all over Europe they are, at least, flickering. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, revanchism and nationalist resentment are back in fashion. The theory of marginal gains, long championed by liberal democrats and guardians of wh
Angela Merkel is about to discover if she can begin a fourth term as German chancellor or if she’s headed for another election.
Germany’s chancellor will get a fourth term after her junior partners, the SPD, voted for a coalition deal. The new government could be in place in less than two weeks’ time, ending months of uncertainty.
Italians voted Sunday in one of the most uncertain elections in years and one that could determine if Italy will succumb to the populist, euroskeptic and far-right sentiment that has swept through Europe.
Now that SPD members have approved their party’s grand coalition agreement with conservatives, it’s time to decide who will take what ministry. These candidates could be part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s next Cabinet.
With Merkel back at the helm, the stage is now set for a consolidation of the European Union along the lines that she has agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron, says Matthew Qvortrup
Germans like to think we’re saving the liberal world order. But we’re also happy to let others do the real work.
Italy faces a hung parliament this morning after populist parties surged in a general election characterised by anger over migration and a stuttering economy.With around half of the votes counted early this morning, Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement was consolidating its position as t
Politics professor James Newell looks at the winners and losers of the Italian election, how we got here, and what happens next.
Whether Theresa May can keep the union together will depend on her ability to pull her hardliners back from the brink of scuttling the Good Friday Agreement, and convincing the Democratic Unionist Party that a marginally looser union might be the only one that can survive Brexit, CNN’s Nic Robertson says.
Following are reactions to British prime minister Theresa May’s speech on Friday setting out her priorities for Brexit ahead of negotiations this year on a new relationship with the European Union.
The United Kingdom may reverse course on its decision to leave the European Union.
Germany’s Social Democrats agreed to prolong their unpopular ruling coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, ending a period of political uncertainty unprecedented in the country’s recent history.
Luxemburg will join Austria in suing the European Commission for allowing Hungary to expand its Paks atomic plant, it said on Monday, in a stand against nuclear energy.
The latest Russia-Ukraine gas dispute has not dampened Germany’s enthusiasm to build Nord Stream 2.
Ondracek “took part in the forceful suppression of demonstrations during the Week of Jan Palach in January 1989 as a member of the SNB special task force.
Kirill’s visit was shrouded in controversy over Bulgarian leaders referring to the other countries, apart from Russia, that fought in the war against the Ottoman Empire that led to Bulgaria’s liberation.
The UK is likely to be economically worse-off outside of the EU under most plausible scenarios. Leaving the EU with no deal and applying WTO rules would lead to the greatest economic losses for the UK.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said he was aggrieved by what he called the Bulgarian government’s attempts to dilute his country’s role during the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war, which paved the way for Bulgaria’s liberation after five centuries of Ottoman rule.
About 10,000 people have taken to the streets of the Macedonian capital to protest a possible change to the name of the former Yugoslav republic to comply with a demand by neighboring Greece.
Cuba ‘health attacks’ a puzzle; embassy cuts permanent
Professor Kevin Fu and members of the Security and Privacy Research Group at the University of Michigan say they have an explanation for what could have happened in Havana: two sources of ultrasound — such as listening devices — placed too close together could generate interference and provoke the intense sounds described by the victims.
The mind-boggling news story of cocaine-filled suitcases at the Russian embassy school in Buenos Aires demonstrates that the tolerance President Vladimir Putin’s regime has shown for all kinds of moonlighting and freelancing by its servants has gone too far. The regime needs to find a way to curb it; otherwise it will end up being treated as a criminal organization.The official version of the story raises more questions than it answers. Some 18 months ago someone (the Russian foreign ministry
The project is oriented towards the revelation of corrupted officials, organized crime representatives, who are tied to the law enforcement and ruling establishments.
The project is oriented towards the revelation of corrupted officials, organized crime representatives, who are tied to the law enforcement and ruling establishments.
German officials have said that the issue was definitively settled with Poland in 1953.
The reason of the lawsuit was the article on Jedwabne pogrom
Polish authorities estimated the damage inflicted on the country by the Wehrmacht troops during the Second World War at $850 billion and intend to recover this amount from Germany. According to Rzeczpospolita, the head of the reparations commission of the Sejm, Arkadiusz Mularczyk said that the commission will report to the government this year on the amount of reimbursements that Poland could demand from Germany. According to Mularczyk, $850 billion is a reasonable amount that will compensate the damage caused by the destruction of Polish towns and villages, economic and industrial infrastructure, as well as the “lost demographic potential.” He also emphasized that getting compensation from Germany would be more feasible than getting it from Russia. According to the politician, Russia “does not observe international laws.”
Poland belies information on ban of bilateral contacts with US in White House
Human rights commissioner accuses Hungarian leader of seeking ‘racial purity.’
Article by: Olena Babakova Citizens of the European Union perpetrating provocations (or even terrorist acts) against other EU countries in Ukraine? A month ago such an assertion would have been totally absurd, but now it has become a reality. A few days ago, the Polish Homeland Security Agency announced the arrest of three men suspected of committing arson attacks on the Hungarian Cultural Society office in Uzhhorod on 4 February 2018. The arrest wasfa coordinated with the Ukrainian SBU. Two men – who were identified among the arsonists – were sentenced to three months; another was released under police surveillance. Investigators are currently examining international contacts related to these suspects.
The Governor of Ukraine’s Zakarpattia Oblast Hennadiy Moskal told on 21 February that two Polish radicals from the right-wing extremist movement Falanga were behind the arson attempt on the “Society of Hungarian culture of Zakarpattia” which happened on 2 February 2018. “It’s Adrian Marglewski, born 01.04.1996, a resident of Krakow, and Tomasz Rafal Szimkowiak, born 24.01.1993, a resident of Bydgoszcz. Both are Polish citizens and followers of the right-wing radical organization “Falanga,” members of which participated in hostilities in Donbas on the side of the militants of the so-called ‘LNR’ and ‘DNR’,” Moskal told. According to him, the Poles made two attempts to burn down the center by throwing a Molotov cocktail, after which they left Ukraine by a bus headed to Slovakia. Luckily, only the window caught fire, and there were no victims. The next day, the Hungarian MFA appealed to the OSCE, who are permanently stationed in the conflict zone of Donbas, to monitor the situation in western Ukraine. Zakarpattia Oblast, home to a compact Hungarian minority, has been in the epicenter of tensions between Ukraine and Hungary.
Article by: Paweł Piwowar The Right Sector, a Ukrainian far-right political party, civic movement, and volunteer battalion deployed in fighting Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, is a hero of Russian propaganda scare stories. Since it was criminalized by Russia in November 2014, it has also been used to fabricate political arrests, the one of Oleg Sentsov’s “group” being the most famous example. But in nearby Poland, the organization, which, in its own words, professes “Ukrainian nationalism in the Interpretation of Stepan Bandera,” they have also become a no-goer. On 26 January 2018, the Polish Sejm adopted a law criminalizing the “propaganda of Banderism,” a vague term which nonetheless outlaws the controversial leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Pursuing the liberation of Polish-ruled Ukraine, Bandera carried out assassinations of Polish officials and was arrested in 1934, he escaped at the onset of WWII and proclaimed the “restoration of the Ukrainian state” in 1941, only to be arrested by the Nazis. Hailed by many in Ukraine as a symbolic liberator and hero who fought against the Soviets and Nazis, in Poland he is regarded as the man who, together with his followers, is largely responsible for the massacre of Poles in Volyn in 1943. Fundamental differences in its understanding of history, its praise of OUN and UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and its radical nationalistic approach towards matters of Ukrainian identity make it one of the most disapproved of or even feared groups in Poland. While it is unlikely doubtful that Poles and Ukrainians we will agree on key ideological and historical questions, should Poles be afraid of this organization? The Polish journalist Paweł Piwowar headed straight to Right Sector leader Andriy Tarasenko to find out.
Hungarian prime minister also proposed scheme to increase role of national parliaments in EU decision-making.
George Soros is an easy target for hatred among authoritarian populists, and not just because he’s a rich Jew with liberal political beliefs.
Autonomy for Hungarians in the Transcarpathian region is impossible
Strategy / History / Capability Publications
The Islamic State built a global brand using the power of social media. Now, Russia is following a similar playbook—and it’s all too easy. AUTHOR: RENEE DIRESTA BY RENEE DIRESTA SINCE NOVEMBER 2016, a national battle has raged about the role of social media in politics. People bemoaned the viciousness of trolls, the impact of incendiary fake news, the frog…
March 5, 2018 By Sam Cohen Combining capabilities creates effective defense and offense. To succeed in the battlespace of the future and to ensure combat superiority over peer adversaries, the U.S. military must be equipped with capabilities to defend information networks in cyberspace and to secure unimpeded access to the electromagnetic spectrum. Adversaries are developing…
This post contains some very controversial ideas, which many Americans may not accept or even understand. To fully grasp the concepts promulgated in this article, one must be flexible, open-minded, and think objectively. Most Americans may even find it insulting at times. There are some points I fully disagreed with until later in the article,…
A lie, it is said, gets halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on. Scientists have updated the proverb, albeit less poetically, by discovering that a lie is also 70 per cent more likely to be shared on social media. The truth takes six times longer than fake news to be seen by
From a cell in a high-security prison outside Moscow, Konstantin Kozlovsky reveals more about the software he claims disrupted the 2016 election.
I believe it is right to praise those stalwart journalists who helped expose the troll factory and much of the propaganda machine of Russia. However, I can’t forget that they mostly still live in Russia, where journalists are frequently targeted, their health, their work, their families, and their lives, are frequently threatened and sometimes they…
The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service said in its 2017 report a growing number of foreign powers are using cyber espionage “to acquire information that they use for (geo) political gain.”
A number of African leaders have turned to Chinese investment as a viable alternative to Western development aid. The recent allegations of Chinese …
Most agency IT and security managers agree that the most potent threats lurking around the corner come not from hackers or foreign governments, but from careless, untrained, or malicious insiders.
The author really does a great job showing the big picture of Russian Information Warfare. He misses only a few pieces, but it is one of the best compilations I’ve seen to date. One thing I must reinforce to the readers of this excellent article. Counterintelligence is “a” tool, not “the” tool to counter Russian…
By Lauren Tousignant March 6, 2018 Reddit has removed “a few hundred” Russian accounts suspected of spreading propaganda in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to a blog post by the company’s CEO. “We have found and removed a few hundred accounts, and of course, every account we find expands our search a little more,” Steve…
A short and fairly shallow comparison of propaganda during World War II and the Russian Infomation Program today. The key point of data analysis is buried at the bottom, but the author seems to not be aware of several programs that do reveal not only Near-Real-Time data but an analysis which displays actual Measures of Effectiveness…
An online auction gone awry reveals substantial new details on Kremlin-backed troll farm efforts to stir up real protests and target specific Americans to push their propaganda. BEN COLLINS GIDEON RESNICK SPENCER ACKERMAN 03.01.18 9:02 PM ET The Kremlin-backed troll farm at the center of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election has quietly suffered…
The social-media giant played down allegations Russia exploited its platform during the 2016 elections, deepening perceptions that its leaders are oblivious to public concern about its social impact. The reaction has exacerbated a brewing backlash against many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies.
Germany said on 28 February hackers had breached its government computer network with an isolated cyber attack.
Artificial intelligence video tools make it relatively easy to put one person’s face on another person’s body with few traces of manipulation. I tried it on myself. What could go wrong? By Kevin Roose March 4, 2018 The scene opened on a room with a red sofa, a potted plant and the kind of bland modern…
Sonam Sheth Leaked documents reviewed by The Daily Beast show the lengths a notorious Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, went to in order to stoke conflict and spread disinformation during and after the 2016 US election. In addition to operating on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the IRA conducted a substantial amount of activity…
Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan has said he will decide whether to extradite alleged Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin to the United States or Russia based primarily on where the most serious crimes were committed.
Both countries want the hacker extradited from the Czech Republic
The “American analyst” who said on Russian TV that the US has lost the arms race turned out to be a “singing poet” and soap vendor, The Insider news outlet reports. In a program on the Russian TV channel NTV, one of the stories was devoted to the “violent reaction in the West” elicited by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly. According to NTV, the reason for the fuss is that “the US was absolutely convinced that it was ahead of the rest of the planet in the military sphere, but now it turns out that the situation has changed somewhat”. This point of view was expressed by Daniel Patrick Welsh, who was introduced as an American political analyst: “This hysteria is related to the fact that the US sincerely believed that it was surpassing Russia in the military sphere. For those who stand at the helm of America, it was unthinkable that Russia and China could catch up to us and become a real threat. This was even before the States wanted to destroy the USSR and spent vast amounts of money to do so. But now it’s another matter entirely – the trillions of dollars which the Americans have been pouring into defense have been thrown down the drain. It’s simply a complete failure.” Welsh did not explain where he had seen the “hysteria”. The world’s reaction to Putin’s address was rather weak, The Insider notes. “Who is this analyst who is drawing such audacious conclusions? Daniel Patrick Welsh, who lives in town of Salem near Boston and runs a private school with his wife. On his website, where he refers to himself as a “writer, singer, translator, activist, singing poet”, Welsh sells CDs with his own songs, books written by other people which criticize US foreign policy, and greeting cards with soap,” The Insider writes. As the article points out, this writer has evidently not written any of his own books, but he publishes articles on politics from time to time on little-known websites such as Truth Out, Consortium News, and Third World Travel. He primarily criticizes US policy, which he considers militarized and expansionist. Welsh sympathizes with the “separatists” in eastern Ukraine, and he considers Ukraine’s government a “junta controlled by Washington”. This “American analyst” his been widely cited by the Russian media, The Insider notes.
The delay reflects President Trump’s largely passive response to the interference and doubts by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in his department’s ability to spend its money wisely.
They are the 13 Russians indicted by a grand jury in Washington in a sweeping conspiracy to defraud the United States and its political system, including the 2016 presidential election, via bogus social media posts and other “information warfare.”
MANY of the young professionals who worked at a notorious Russian troll farm with a multimillion-dollar budget didn’t realise the full consequences of their day job.
US Domestic Policy Reports
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russian nationals accused by the United States of election tampering could be prosecuted in Russia if they were found to have broken Russian law, the TASS news agency reported.
In an exclusive interview with Megyn Kelly, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the his government had nothing to do with any meddling in the 2016 election.
Russia will “never” extradite any of the 13 Russians indicted by the United States for election-meddling, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, even as he insisted they didn’t act on behalf of his government.
President Vladimir Putin has said that the Russian citizens indicted by the United States for election meddling didn’t act on behalf of his government, and insisted that Moscow will “never” extradi…
President Vladimir Putin said Russia won’t take action against Russians accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election if they did not break Russian laws.
AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian President Vladimir Putin said during an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly that he would not
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Washington to send him hard evidence that his citizens meddled in U.S. elections, mocking accusations to date as “yelling and hollering in the United States Congress”.
Speaking in an interview with the Russian state television, Putin described Trump as a great communicator.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post ran an op-ed from Elizabeth Bruenig touting the possibilities of a new economic system in the United States: socialism. That’s not a complete surprise, given the mainstream media’s sudden interest in Marxism again – The New York Times has run a series of pieces over the last year praising Marxism from the perspective of women’s rights, “inspiring” Americans, the Harlem Renaissance, even from the perspective of having better sex. Bruenig’s piece, however, is a masterpiece of silliness, a veritable cornucopia of evil ideas repackaged in the mildewed bows of revolutionary optimism. She begins by complaining that capitalism has hollowed out the “liberal” movement — liberals want to praise capitalism for its benefits, but ignore its downside. Instead, Bruenig suggests, “It’s time to give socialism a try.” Why, pray tell, would we try a system of government interventionism that has ended, every time, in heartbreaking poverty and mass death? (No, Sweden and Denmark aren’t socialist countries — they’re capitalist countries with redistributionist tendencies.) Because, says Bruenig, the ills of our society are almost entirely the result of capitalism. She excoriates Andrew Sullivan of New York Magazine for embracing capitalism while lamenting the rise of nationalism. She complains about Joe Biden, whom she says whines uselessly about America being “better than this.” She says that Americans are “isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow; and that we are anxiously looking for some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard,” and that all of this is “emblematic of capitalism.” Never mind that America’s social bonds remained strong while capitalism was ascendant; never mind that government interventionism has coincided with a breakdown in social cohesion; never mind that government-enforced conformity has a rude way of destroying “attachment to something real and profound.” No, it’s that we shop around for our products at the local grocery store. That’s the problem, obviously.
According to the latest findings from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, 50 percent of today’s American millennials view socialism or communism as the ideal political ideology. Half of them have found their heroes in dictators such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong. Lenin, Che, and Kim Jong Un. The country that grew into the wealthiest on earth through capitalism is showing alarming signs of turning away from its roots. Much of this trend is due to historical illiteracy and a failure to teach an entire generation about the destruction that have been perpetrated by previous communist regimes. At the same time, they are uninformed about the failures and desperations experienced in current communist countries, such as Venezuela and Cuba. Today’s millennials are hard-pressed to even define socialism and communism. They feel at odds with capitalism and simply feel any alternative would be better, although many haven’t started working or become a part of the workforce thanks to the pro wall street policies practiced by the Federal Reserve.
On March 1, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin delivered a speech that effectively declared Russia has overwhelming nuclear superiority and war-winning capability against the United States, NATO, and the entire world. While President Obama neglected modernizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent, questing for a “world without nuclear weapons” — Russia achieved what the USSR never could against any U.S. president during the Cold War, the holy grail of nuclear superiority, what strategists call “escalation dominance.” Escalation dominance means being able to prevail with superior nuclear capabilities in any crisis or conflict across the full spectrum of tactical and strategic possibilities.
The array of nuclear weapons touted by Russian President Putin confirms the U.S. is losing its lead, but the Pentagon says deterrence will prevail.
The West never faced a more dangerous “window of vulnerability” to nuclear blackmail — and nuclear attack — than now.
Russia may already be influencing the debate about nuclear weapons, warns Rep. Mac Thornberry.
We should not slip into collective amnesia over the Obama administration’s weak and underwhelming response to Russian aggression.
U.S. President Donald Trump said there was interference by Russia and probably by other countries in the 2016 U.S. election. Speaking at a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on March 6, Trump said that the United States would “counteract” any attempt at meddling in upcoming elections. (AFP)
The Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, a.k.a. the Troll Factory, used fake social media accounts before and after the 2016 U.S. election to collect sensitive personal information on Americans,
Russian operators, using social media including Facebook, asked for and got personal information from ordinary Americans as part of their political influence campaign.
The projections, dedicated to Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov who was illegally imprisoned in Russia, appeared on the building of the Russian embassy in New York.
New sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election will be announced “within a week,” a top U.S. intelligence official has said.
Americans view Russia more unfavorably now than they have in three decades. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to view Russia favorably.
Top intelligence officials, however, have said that so far, the U.S. has responded weakly to Russia’s disinformation campaign to sow discord in America and raise doubts about the integrity of the presidential election.
The Russian Federation Council’s Commission on Protecting State Sovereignty and Preventing Foreign Interference published its first major report on Monday, March 5. Much of the 83-page document is a digressive look at America’s history of meddling in various countries’ domestic affairs over the past half century. In their introduction, the commission members write that this study is an “objective analysis based on reliable data.” Meduza took a closer look at the report and found that a significant part of its data was taken from an article written by a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2016, with some additional excerpts copied from a book by the Stalinist pseudo-historian Igor Pykhalov, plus a bit lifted from Wikipedia.
"We are bluntly told they fear criticism," said Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who struggles to shake the stigma of Kremlin election meddling.
I am frustrated to still hear the silliness about how President Donald Trump is soft on Russia. It continues to be a mainstream talking point, repeated by congresspeople pushing impeachment and pundits like Max “I would rather vote for Stalin than Trump” Boot. Our friends the Germans even made this disgusting parade float of a Russian bear sodomizing Trump. Their argument is insane. Not tethered to reality. A supreme attempt to gaslight normal people. Below is a list of all the ways that Trump’s policies are anathema to Moscow. They are coordinated and deliberate, to help America and undermine Russia. Trump may not be saying as many mean things about Putin as the media say about Trump, but he has taken the concrete actions of a dead serious man. As a point of contrast, please keep in mind that ex-president Barack Obama’s pro-Russian policies included granting Russia permanent normal trade relations, ushering the Russians into the WTO, and a “reset button.” It would be easy to go on at length about how Obama helped Russia. Without further ado, the list:
During his joint presser with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was asked what Sweden should learn from Russian interference in the 2016 US election. His response did not actually ever answer the question. This is what he said instead:
Peskov said Moscow has never been the initiator of these sanctions.
Reddit’s CEO said the ‘front page of the Internet’ is working with Congress to uncover Russian propaganda. But it’s turned over no material to investigators.
Clouds of potential corruption and legal peril hang over both men as they meet Monday at the White House.
Lawmakers are expressing concerns following a new House committee report detailing how Russians attempted to used
Plus, Trump won’t back down on tariffs
If you heard the repeated unanimous assessments from the US intelligence community and thought, well, I guess this means the US government has dropped everything and is going to do something about this, you have another thing coming.
The special counsel’s probe is focusing attention on a Lebanese-American businessman who has been a frequent visitor to the White House.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that a secret meeting in the Seychelles just before U.S. President Donald Trump took office was an effort by his campaign to establish a back channe…
The world should see this bluster by the Russian president for what it was and dismiss it accordingly.
While you may not have heard of this former spy, you’ve most likely read his work. Christopher Steele wrote that dossier, the one that contains many alarming allegations against the Trump administration, including that the then-presidential candidate…
The Australian diplomat whose tip in 2016 prompted the Russia-Trump investigation previously arranged one of the largest foreign donations to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable efforts, documents show. Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s role in securing $25 million in aid from his country to help the Clinton Foundation fight AIDS is chronicled in decade-old government memos archived on the Australian foreign ministry’s website.
Paul Manafort entered a plea of not guilty to an 18-count indictment.
The charges do not involve President Trump or his campaign, but they compound the legal problems for Mr. Manafort, his former campaign chairman.
A Virginia federal judge pressed special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on why it had brought so many charges against Manafort — 18 — and whether the government case could be streamlined.
U.S. special counsel Robert Muller has charged Alex Van Der Zwaan, an attorney and son-in-law of an influential Russian oligarch, for making false statements to the FBI and his office. Muller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and a potential money laundering case against the Donald Trump campaign. The indictment charges that Van Der Zwaan lied about are his communications with top Trump campaign aide Richard Gates.
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He’s investigating Trump associates’ dealings with investors or governments in Qatar, the UAE, Turkey, and China.
Former Congressman Vin Weber literally won a medal for his promotion of democracy. Then he became part of Paul Manafort’s phalanx of lobbyists for a Putin-friendly strongman.
The National Rifle Association continues to face questions about campaign contributions made during the 2016 U.S. elections.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-Calif.) ties to Russia have become a flashpoint as the longtime congressman faces his toughest reelection to date.
As Robert Mueller begins indicting Russians, he may be looking to find Americans they recruited to help in their attack on the 2016 elections, writes a former U.S. double-agent.
A group of 11 countries is set to sign a slimmed-down version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as they try to counter Washington’s new protectionism.
An interview with Diana Pilipenko on Moscow’s potential kompromat.
A Belarusian accused of involvement in a sex workshop in Thailand said she had more than 16 hours of taped conversations, including some about the presidential election.
Asked whether Washington intends to hear out the Russian woman detained in Thailand, Nauert said: “We support and assist American citizens. She is not an American citizen.”
Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych said on March 2 that he never had a face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort, despite Manafort’s extens…
House Speaker Paul Ryan broke with President Donald Trump over his decision to impose tariffs on imported aluminum and steel products, issuing an implicit warning to the White House to drop the plan.
Services, investment and high technologies are seen as major drivers of the bilateral cooperation.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a small drone that poses a threat!
The readiness of the Air Force’s aircraft fleet is continuing its slow, steady deterioration — and this could spell trouble for the service’s effort to hold on to its pilots and its ability to respond to contingencies around the world.
Air Force pilot retention has plummeted to 35 percent — 1,363 pilots have left in the past 24 months. A news headline reads: “Military hopes to curb exodus