Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (25)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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  1. WSJ on LGMs in Syria;
  2. Multiple reports on Baltic Region;
  3. Russian meddling in NATO nations;
  4. RAF Centenary;
  5. Russia strategy and strategic weps updates;
  6. Many reports on post election Russian politics, the fragility of the new look Russian system of government, and an abundance of reports detailing Russia’s accelerating dive into the abyss;
  7. Lukashenko in Belarus tells industry to give up on exporting to Russia;
  8. Interesting Moldova reports;
  9. Middle East – Russia, Iran and Turkey, Russian support for Syria, ISIS updates, Erdogan’s latest spat with Israel, Saudi praise for Israel;
  10. Biggest debate in EU politics is Nordstream 2 – a remarkable example of the ability of Russian money to cripple internal political discourse in nations with fragile governance, more on Air Cocaine, more Russian meddling in Balkans, update on anti-Semitism and xenophobia;
  11. Trump Administration announces more sanctions on Russia, Manafort investigation expands, Rep Khanna replaces Rep Conyers as Russian proxy, miscellaneous reports on US politics and policy.

NATO / EU / Russia Reports

A U.S. Battlefield Victory Against Russia’s ‘Little Green Men’ – WSJ

Americans drove back an advance by mercenaries. The next one ended almost as soon as it began.

A Blueprint for US Strategy in the Baltics

Since regaining independence, the Baltic states have transformed themselves into some of Europe’s most dynamic economies with some of the fastest growth rates in Europe. Baltic societies are highly digitized and connected to the outside world. They are also committed to democratic values of openness, human rights, and rule of law. Today, these accomplishments face a new test emerging from a Kremlin intent on sowing division and mistrust, undermining our democratic societies, and intimidating our allies. The Baltic nations have transformed from captive nations to frontline allies. I believe that we are entering a historic window of opportunity in which we have the possibility and perhaps the responsibility to consolidate the US-Baltic partnership and the security of our alliance.

Toward Effective Air Defense in Northern Europe

Northern Europe, particularly the Baltic Sea region, is at the forefront of a new competition between NATO and a revanchist Russia capable and willing to use military force to alter the European security order. Since 2014, both the United States and NATO have responded to the changing security environment in northern Europe with a bolstered exercise program more focused on high-end warfighting and the introduction of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. These efforts provide a foundation, and the beginnings of a deterrence force, for NATO and the region’s continued work to build effective and sustainable defense and deterrence in northern Europe. They are, however, in themselves insufficient without additional enablers, sufficient forward logistics, robust command and control, reinforcement arrangements, and planning and capabilities for the air and maritime domain. In this regard, establishing integrated and robust air defense for the Baltic Sea region is the next logical step in protecting NATO’s forward presence, pre-positioned equipment, and the United States’ and NATO’s ability to access and operate in the broader region during a potential crisis or conflict.

Linkevičius: Decisions on the Baltic states’ effective air defence must be taken sooner | News | Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russia conducts missile tests over Baltic Sea – 112.international

Russia has been testing missiles over Latvia’s exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea

Russian live missile tests force Latvia to close airspace over Baltic sea: ‘It’s hard to comprehend’ | The Independent

Russia has carried out missile tests in the Baltic Sea, causing Nato member Latvia to shut down part of its commercial airspace.  The Russian defence ministry said its Baltic Fleet, based in the exclave of Kaliningrad, would conduct routine training in the area starting on Wednesday. It said the drills would involve firing live ammunition to practise hitting air and sea targets.

UAWire – Latvia urges its citizens not to be afraid of Russian military exercises

Latvian deputy Artis Pabriks assured the general public that there was no reason to be afraid of Russian military exercises. “We aren’t afraid of Russian military exercises. We will keep an eye on them, and remain vigilant and confident in ourselves, our state and our freedom. Don’t let them ruin Easter for us,” he wrote on Twitter Russian naval forces informed Latvia that it would conduct training launches of missiles in the Baltic Sea from April 4 to 6. The Russian Federation asked Latvia to close the airspace around the tests during this period. The Latvian Civil Aviation Agency agreed to do so. Pabriks said that Russia “has enough of its own territory,” where it is possible to conduct exercises. However, the Latvian authorities acknowledged that, according to international treaties, the Russian military has the right to conduct training launches of missiles in the Baltic Sea.

Baltic Leaders Expected To Ask Trump To Bolster Defenses Against Russia

The presidents of three Baltic states are expected to ask U.S. President Donald Trump to do more to deter Russia by bolstering U.S. forces on NATO’s eastern flank at a White House meeting scheduled…

UAWire – Lithuanian border guards prevent a Russian truck loaded with radioactive cargo from entering the country

At a border checkpoint on Saturday evening, March 31, officers of the State Border Guard Service of Lithuania (VSAT) detected excessive radiation levels. A Volvo truck with a Schmitz semi-trailer was passing through the checkpoint, heading to Šalčininkai, in the east of Lithuania from Belarus. As it passed through the checkpoint radiation gates, the transported cargo emitted ionizing radiation levels 7.5 times higher than tolerable levels, immediately alerting the guards. The incident was reported the following day by the VSAT’s press service. According to their report, the truck had Russian plates, was driven by a citizen of Belarus, and after inspection, the driver’s documents were all in order. The radioactive cargo consisted of construction materials intended for further transportation to Germany. Further inspection of the construction materials using portable dosimeters showed a radioactivity level of 1.5 micro Sieverts per hour. The acceptable level is 0.2 mcSv per hour. The radiation came from Radium-226 isotopes. The truck was denied entry to Lithuania and, after formal arrangements were finalized, the vehicle was returned to the territory of Belarus that evening. In October 2017, German specialists on radiation protection recorded isotopes of radioactive ruthenium in the atmosphere of a number of European countries. Experts said Russia’s territory of Southern Ural was a possible source of its dissemination.

UAWire – Kremlin: shipments of American Patriot air defense systems to Poland are a threat to Russia’s security

The shipment of American anti-air and anti-missile defense systems to Poland can be considered a threat to Russia’s security, as stated by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a press briefing. “We view the steps taken [by Poland] as an element to destabilize the military and political situation in Europe, and a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation. At the same time we note that the Russian defensive resources are adequate to ensure the inviolability of our borders and the protection of our territory,” she said. Poland is purchasing Patriots for its new “Wisla” national anti-missile defense system. The first shipments should begin in 2022, and the next in 2024. As reported previously, the first two phases involve Poland’s acquisition of 16 missile launchers, 208 missiles, and four radar stations. The US has also agreed to integrate the Polish systems with the IBCS system, which entails the creation of an automated system for controlling forces on the battlefield.

Lockheed Martin, Poland sign agreement for Hit-to-Kill PAC-3 MSE missile – Defence Blog

On 28 March, U.S. and Polish officials formalized an agreement for Poland to purchase Lockheed Martin’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and related support equipment. With the announcement, Poland becomes the fifth international customer to sign an agreement to procure PAC-3 MSE. “We’re honored to partner with Poland in support of the WISŁA Air and Missile Defense system to protect and defend their armed forces, citizens and infrastructure. We also look forward to working with the Polish Armaments Group consortium of companies in support of the agreed to WISŁA technology transfer,” said Tim Cahill, vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Today’s global security environment demands reliable Hit-to-Kill technology and innovative solutions. We expect PAC-3 MSE interceptors to continue serving as an integral layer of defense.”

Russia accused of poor investigation into Smolensk air crash | World | News | Express.co.uk

RUSSIA has been accused of a flawed investigation into the Smolensk Air Crash which killed the Polish President Lech Kaczynski in 2010 as well as 95 other passengers on board as the families of the victims demand a fresh examination.

UAWire – Germany acknowledges inability of its Tornado jets to perform NATO missions

German Tornado aircraft do not meet the technical standards of the North Atlantic Alliance, German magazine Der Spiegel reported, citing a confidential report of the German Defense Ministry. The magazine revealed that all 93 combat aircraft need large-scale modernization that will cost millions. In their current condition, German Tornados should “no longer participate in any NATO operation,” Der Spiegel stated. The confidential report of the Ministry of Defense explained that the aircraft is not sufficiently equipped to defend against communications surveillance. The military jets do not possess an encrypted communication system, which is mandatory in NATO missions. Further, the electronic equipment does not have a friend-or-foe detection system, making it “completely outdated.” The ministry concluded that in such a state, carrying out military tasks becomes “obviously risky.” Due to worn-out fighters, “Germany can no longer fulfill its commitments to NATO,” the ministry summed up. The Bundeswehr (Unified Armed Forces of Germany) adds that it will take a lot of time to correct the Tornado’s flaws. It will not be possible to do so at least until 2019 and the question of whether aircraft modernization is feasible remains open. Tornado warplanes were developed in the 1970s and have entered service in a number of states since the early 1980s. Now they are taking part in the mission of the international coalition against the terrorist group Islamic State. Earlier, Germany said that they planned to use Tornado until 2035. In mid-March, it was reported that the Chief of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), Lieutenant-General Karl Müllner would be fired for lobbying Germany’s procurement of American F-35 fighters that were ranked among the most unsuccessful in their roles.

Hungary is starting to look a bit like Russia. Here’s why – CNN

Hungary, a member of the EU, is no autocracy, but after eight years of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rule, its political system has begun to resemble Russia’s.

Putin, Erdogan Agree To Speed Up Delivery Of S-400 Air Defenses

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have agreed to speed up the delivery of S-400 air-defense missile systems to Ankara, a purchase that has raised concern among Turkey’s NATO partners.

Admiral Ihor Kabanenko: Situation with “Nord” fishing vessel may be a planned provocation by Russia to “legitimize” deployment of its naval group in the Azov Sea | UNIAN

Navy Admiral (Rtd), Former Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Ihor Kabanenko told UNIAN why the Ukrainian coast guards, having seized the Nord vessel in the waters of the Azov Sea, acted lawfully, and hinted that the situation with the Nord could well be a provocation on the part of Russia. Ukrainian border guards in the Ukrainian waters of the Azov Sea in March this year detained a Russian-flagged violator fishing boat. It was then taken into the port of Berdyansk for verification and procedural actions. And in a few days, Russia exploited the incident to blame Ukraine for … piracy. Spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova stated that by seizing the Nord, Ukraine acted similarly to “Somali pirates.” Later, RIA Novosti, referring to a source in the security structures of the annexed Crimea, said that the command of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including naval aviation, was prepared to “ensure the safety of navigation in the north-eastern part of the Black Sea and the waters of the Sea of Azov” following the incident. In order to clear up the situation and find out who is actually acting as pirates, UNIAN turned to the Admiral of the Naval Forces Reserve, former Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Ihor Kabanenko.

Western sanctions on Russia: Lots of noise and little impact | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 05.04.2018

The EU and the US have imposed wave after wave of sanctions on Russia since the beginning of the Crimea crisis in 2014. However, the Kremlin is sticking to its course and Vladimir Putin’s power has only grown.

‘Star Wars Architect’ Reveals Means to Destroy Russia’s New Superweapons – Sputnik International

Announced by then-US President Ronald Reagan in 1983, SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) stipulated the deployment of space-based systems aimed at destroying enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles.

British History: RAF celebrates 100 years protecting the skies with spectacular pictures | Daily Star

THE ROYAL Air Force has released a stunning set of pictures celebrating Britain’s dominance and heroism in the skies over the past century.

We now lead in space and cyber warfare, says SIR MICHAEL GRAYDON | UK | News | Express.co.uk

THE ROYAL Air Force was born in a century of major scientific discovery; it has therefore had to adapt to change throughout its life.

Queen Elizabeth praises RAF on its centenary

British monarch says the service has ‘defended our freedom gallantly’

Moscow plans new Arctic port to bypass Baltics and Ukraine – 112.international

Russia’s Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov has announced the development of a new ice-free port on the Kola Peninsula and noted that it would allow Russia to dispense with its use of ports in the Baltic countries for the transfer of coal early in the next decade. Because oil and natural gas are Russia’s largest exports (Gks.ru, accessed April 3), it is entirely understandable that Moscow’s efforts to build pipelines to the West bypassing the three Baltic States and Ukraine continue to attract a great deal of attention. But much less attention has been given to Moscow’s new efforts to develop infrastructure intended to allow it to export coal to global markets by bypassing these same countries. If these Russian plans prove successful, they will deprive Ukraine and the Baltics of the transit fees they have long depended upon. Indeed, judging from the comments of Moscow officials, the Russian government is more interested in using such new routes to apply political leverage on at least some of these countries than it is in ensuring Russia’s economic interests. Russia’s Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov has announced the development of a new ice-free port on the Kola Peninsula and noted that it would allow Russia to dispense with its use of ports in the Baltic countries for the transfer of coal early in the next decade. Latvian commentators have suggested this could mark the end of their country’s still-lucrative transit trade and thus put the middle Baltic republic in a far more difficult position economically and geopolitically (Rubaltic.ru, March 30; Db.lv, March 29). The Russian project will involve the construction of a port between the settlements of Mishukovo and Mezhdurechye, on the Kola gulf, a connecting rail line south, and a fleet of new ships to carry the coal westward. At the same time, Minister Sokolov said, it will link the region more fully with the Northern Sea Route to Asia and thus promote the development of the entire northwestern segment of the Russian Federation. Once operational—the first stage is scheduled for completion in 2020—the new ports will allow Moscow to dispense with the use not only of ports in the Baltic States but also in Ukraine and to export as much as 18 million tons of coal a year. That shift will inflict economic pain and open the way for additional Russian pressure on these three western neighbors as well (Rubaltic.ru, March 30). This latest Russian announcement prompts three questions: Can Moscow open the new Kola Peninsula port on time? Will the redirection of coal away from the Baltic States and Ukraine have as negative an impact as Moscow hopes and some in these countries fear? And what can these countries and their friends do in response to allow them to flourish economically if and when Moscow is able to deprive them of this source of revenue? With regard to the first question, Moscow is highly unlikely to be able to complete this port and, even more, to have sufficient shipping capacity developed to exploit it on time. Russia’s track record when it comes to developing coastal infrastructure—especially in more remote places—suggests that the new port, if it is completed at all, will not be serviceable until much later. Moreover, the regional rail line, which has been under construction in fits and starts since the 1930s, will not be ready by 2020 or even a decade later (see EDM, February 13). And finally, unless sanctions end soon, Russia will not be able to build the fleet of coal-transport ships the new facility will require. That means that Sokolov’s announcement may be more of a bluff than a real threat, unless Western countries or China step in to provide the shipping—and they may be less than willing to do so given the sanctions regime and also given that the United States is now interested in becoming a major coal exporter to Ukraine and Eastern Europe (Energy.gov, July 31, 2017). With regard to the second question, if despite all this, Russia were able to redirect coal flows away from the three Baltic States and Ukraine, this would hurt them, but not all by the same amount and not fatally—economically or politically. Ukraine, Estonia and Lithuania would suffer small economic losses if Moscow succeeds with its plans. Latvia would suffer most, with perhaps around 10 percent of its transit trade earnings coming to an end (Atlas.media.mit.edu, accessed April 3). Given Riga’s current economic difficulties, that could hurt; and Moscow may be counted on to make use of this threat to try to force the Latvian government to bend to its will on issues like the status of ethnic Russians and the Russian language in that Baltic republic. Finally, regarding the third question, the Baltic States and Ukraine have many alternative options, and this latest Russian declaration should be the occasion for taking action on one or more of them. Ukraine is in a de facto state of war with Russia following Putin’s annexation of Crimea and continuing intervention in Donbas, so it can hardly count on Russian economic “assistance.” Ukraine has been redirecting its trade and economy away from Russia as a result. The three Baltic States did much the same in the 1990s, but they continue to cooperate with Moscow and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries on railway issues (Railwaypro.com, April 23, 2014). Moscow’s pursuit of other transit outlets may put such cooperation to the test. More seriously, the Russian declaration signals just how important it is for the Baltic States to develop north-south rail links from Finland in the north to Poland and Europe in the south, to reduce to a minimum their dependence on Russian transit fees, and to develop their own economic capacity. The European Union and the West more generally can help in all three of these areas. If they do, Moscow’s latest threats about “bypassing” the Baltics and Ukraine will backfire, in fact helping these countries achieve genuine independence from Moscow and reducing still further Russian influence over them.

Could Enemies Target Undersea Cables That Link the World?

Western officials are increasingly troubled by Russia’s interest in the 400 fiber-optic cables that carry most of world’s calls, emails and texts, as well as $10 trillion worth of daily financial transactions

Undetectable: Russia Develops Stealth Bomb to Glide in Enemy Airspace (VIDEO) – Sputnik International

Russia has completed the development of small-caliber ammunition for its fifth generation fighter Su-57 (PAK FA).

Putin’s new war toy: Russia develops STEALTH bomb | World | News | Express.co.uk

VLADIMIR Putin has developed a new stealth bomb he can drop without even entering enemy airspace, increasing fears of World War 3.

Putin unleashes Satan in a blaze of glory (opinion) – CNN

In her weekly briefing, Samantha Vinograd writes that despite harsh rebuke from the international community, Vladimir Putin is showing so signs of remorse.

Russian MoD released footage of their ‘satellite killer’ weapon system – Defence Blog

The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation conducted a test of an upgraded anti-ballistic missile designed to protect Moscow and the Kremlin from enemy missile attack, with the capability to obliterate NATO spies in orbit. According to the announced by press service of Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), A team of the ASF Air Defence and Missile Defence Forces has successfully conducted a test launch of the ABM new modernised missile at the Sary-Shagan training ground (the Republic of Kazakhstan). Russia’s MoD also released terrifying footage of advanced Russian missile test.

Russia Plans to Completely Overhaul Its Deadly Tupolev Tu-160 Bomber Fleet by 2030 | The National Interest Blog

Will it have the cash to do it?

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Shifting Caspian Flotilla from Astrakhan to Daghestan Reflects Moscow’s Regional Calculations

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – Yesterday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that Moscow was shifting the home base of its Caspian flotilla from Astrakhan at the northern edge of the sea to Kaspiisk, a Daghestani facility, some 400 kilometers away south toward the central section of the landlocked body of water. The Moscow official also announced that the number of officers and sailors assigned to this flotilla will “be increased,” and its already modernized fleet upgraded further to allow it to do things like fire cruise missiles toward Syria from near its base rather than after sailing for some hours (pravda.ru/politics/military/02-04-2018/1379116-flotoliya-0/). Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor of the military journal Arsenal Otechestva, says that Astrakhan, because of problems with the Volga delta there, is hardly ideal as a base and in wintertime ships are sometimes delayed in putting to sea when ordered. The situation in Kaspiisk is much better, and the flotilla will be able to respond immediately. That technical detail certainly played a role in this decision, but it seems clear other domestic and foreign policy developments played larger ones, although so far there have been only hints about these. (See svpressa.ru/war21/article/196849/kavpolit.com/articles/posle_perevoda_kaspijskoj_flotilii_v_dagestane_moz-37901/ and chernovik.net/content/lenta-novostey/kaspiyskaya-flotiliya-v-polnom-sostave-beret-kurs-na-dagestan). There are at least three compelling reasons why Moscow likely views this move as worthwhile right now. Specifically, the move · represents both a vote of confidence in Putin’s new man in Makhachkala and provides the center with additional forces to use to intimidate officials in Daghestan or elsewhere in the North Caucasus should that become necessary; · gives Moscow even more leverage to block or in the event of a crisis quickly destroy east-west pipelines under the Caspian, including a new launch of cruise missiles toward Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East; · and provides new content to Moscow’s desire to have as much de facto control of the Caspian and indeed to restore the pre-1991 division of the sea between itself and Iran, something that the other littoral powers have been challenging.

 

Russia / Russophone Reports

Putin’s Black Swan – Tsarizm

Putin’s Black Swan. A Tragic Fire Spoils The Party For Putin’s Coronation.

Russia announces its smallest military draft in 12 years — Meduza

On March 30, Vladimir Putin signed the latest conscription order, drafting 128,000 men between the ages of 18 and 27 into the Russian military between April and July 2018. This year’s spring draft — the country’s smallest in 12 years — comes as the number of draft-age men in Russia continues its eight-year decline. The number of draftees in Russia fell suddenly in 2011, when the Defense Ministry decided to increase the military’s share of contract soldiers. Since 2008, conscripts in all branches of Russia’s armed forces are required to serve for 12 months.

Russian political scientist revealed what “roles” Putin can try out

Shevtsova still does not see any serious chances for changes in the Russian Federation while maintaining the current regime. Russian political scientist, doctor of historical sciences, researcher Chatham House Lilia Shevtsova believes that in the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during the new presidential term will test the role of “Defender of the Fatherland” in confrontation with the West. In reserve at the head of Russia “also an opportunity to try himself in the role of” Fighter with corruption, “the expert told during a chat on Glavred. “Now Putin will test the role of” Defender of the Fatherland “in confrontation with the West, while a part of the population is ready to legitimize him in this role,” the interlocutor said. According to her, in the role of “Fighter with corruption” the Russian leader can at the same time get rid of the “rotten top echelon of the elite, replacing it with more devoted” young wolves. “” I do not yet see any serious chances for changes in Russia while maintaining the current regime, “- added the political scientist. “But we need to take into account the fact that 70% of Russians want changes, but they understand them in different ways, and most of all, they want changes from above, so that there is a need for changes,” Shevtsova said. “The problem is that they can only happen at the request of the” street. “Will the people come out into the street and when? We can only guess. But such tragedies as the death of children in Kemerovo (as a result of a fire in the shopping and entertainment center – Ed. ), can light the bikfordov cord … “- believes the researcher. Earlier, a specialist in the CIS, senior analyst of the American private intelligence and analytical company Stratfor Lauren Goodrich expressed the opinion that in Russia the system of personality cult that Vladimir Putin built around him starts to become a problem not only for the country, but also for the politician himself, forcing him to think about future successors, the head of the country has already chosen a number of officials and conducts them tests.

Putin Fear Mongering Will Benefit These Stocks

A multiple-stage rocket blasts off from Russia and enters space, eventually raining nuclear missiles on unsuspecting Floridians. Welcome to the morbid fantasy of Vladimir Putin, and the next big opportunity for investors.

Be wary of this man – The Blade

How Not to Pressure Putin – Foreign Policy

Britain needs strategic patience, not shrill denunciations, to keep Russia in check.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Paradoxes of Putin System Guarantee More Disasters Ahead, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – There are three paradoxes in the Putin system that guarantee more disasters ahead unless and until that system is radically transformed or what is more likely replaced by a different on, Russian commentator Igor Yakovenko argues in a remarkable essay on the Kasparov portal today. First, he says, there is the paradox that “when power becomes total, it suddenly turns out to be powerless” because those below cannot act with sanction from above and those above cannot act without the direct knowledge and concern that only those close to the situation have (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC22D7CF0A51). Second, there is the paradox that any local leader who tried to take the kind of steps that would guard against disasters would be removed even more quickly than he would be if he did nothing and waited until a disaster occurred and a sacrifice was required to mollify the population. And third, there is the paradox that the population believes it can only solve its immediate social problems if it declares that it is not engaged in political action without recognizing that it will only have a chance to address its problems if it gets involved in politics, however much the powers that be fear and oppose its participation. Since Putin’s “triumphal victory” on March 18, Russia’s new political system has been marked by an uninterrupted chain of catastrophes in foreign policy and domestically as well, Yakovenko says. Dozens of Western countries expelled Russian diplomats to show their solidarity with London, while Moscow couldn’t find a single one ready to join it in response. “Within the country,” the commentator says, any celebration of Putin’s victory was undercut by the Kemerovo tragedy and the trash “revolts” in Moscow oblast. “The chief and only political consequences of these two events was the dismissal of the senior official on the scene, Kemerovo governor Aman Tuleyev and Volokolamsk district head Yevgeny Gavrilov. Tuleyev had been the ruler of the Kuzbass for only a little less than three decades Yakovenko says; and he could have taken steps to ensure that an accident like the one that claimed 64 lives would not have occurred. But doing so would have led to his dismissal even more quickly than the fire itself did. That is because, the commentator says, “power in Putin’s Russia is so constructed that at all levels it does not have any relationship to the population and does not have any obligations to it. The obligations of the regional part of the pyramid of power are only before its top and these obligations Tuleyev punctiliously fulfilled.” “If Tuleyev had created in Kemerovo conditions which would have minimized the chances of such tragedies, then, paradoxically, his political career would have ended much earlier and much more unhappily for Tuleyev himself. Doing so would have put him at odds with the rest of the system and the system would have taken its revenge. The dismissal of Gavrilov is much less important but it highlights the same problems. “In Russia there is no local self-administration,” Yakovenko continues. Gavrilov was “one of 22,327 heads of municipal formations in Russia. In Moscow oblast alone, there are 326 of them, of which 29 are at the district level.” “This entire army of faceless bureaucrats of the lowest level in general cannot do anything and to a great extent aren’t needed for anything either,” the commentator says. And because they can do only what they are ordered to above, nothing can change unless they and the system they represent are changed. “The people who lose those close to them in Kemerovo came together in a spontaneous meeting, the people who breathed in the fumes from burning trash blocked the roads in the Moscow region, and both the one and the other carefully did not allow that these things be called “politicized protest.” As long as that paradox remains, there will be more such tragedies like those Russia is now suffering from, Yakovenko says, “simply because when power is total” as is the case in Putin’s Russia, it is always powerless,” perhaps the most profound and disturbing paradox of them all.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Won His Plebiscite; Now, He Faces ‘a Real Election,’ Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 3 – As Grigory Yavelinsky and Boris Vishnevsky have pointed out, what many called Russia’s presidential election was in fact a plebiscite of the kind Charles Louis Napoleon pulled off in 1851. Only now, Russian commentator Yevgeny Ikhlov argues, “are the real elections beginning.” The events in Volokolamsk and Kemerovo have made it impossible for Russia to remain under the sway of images of new rockets and flights to Mars, Ikhlov says. “All immediately now say: first, provide fire protection and decent trash processing and then make your cosmic torpedoes and explore deep space” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC240709BBD2). New charges and arrests among the prominent show that “a new round of elite purges” are beginning analogous to “the Leningrad affair of 70 years ago.” Ordinary people are taking to the streets spontaneously, and any possibility that PR can contain the situation no longer exists. Now, both the regime and its opponents are locked in a struggle for real results. All this provides evidence that the opposition is right when it speaks about “the fatal nature of preserving the inert scenario of development.” What has occurred in the last six months was only the prelude to a real struggle and in its way “a real election” that will decide the future of Russia in ways the voting on March 18 did not.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Fewer Tatarstan Voters Took Part in 2018 Election than in 2012, and Fewer Voted for Putin, Analysis Shows

Paul Goble Staunton, March 30 – Because participation and support for Vladimir Putin in Tatarstan were relatively high this year and because republic officials have every reason to stress that rather than anything else, few have pointed out that 113,172 fewer Tatarstan residents voted for the Kremlin leader this time than did six years ago. Putin lost 18,000 supporters in Kazan, 16,000 in Zelenodolsk, and 12,000 in Almetyevsk; and in an indication that this reflected a real change in the president’s support, the falloff was greatest in polling places with electronic voting machines where falsification was more difficult, according to Radio Svoboda’s Tatar-Bashkir Service (idelreal.org/a/29132435.html). In Kazan precincts with electronic voting machines, the service reports, Putin garnered only 68 percent of all voters, “that is, less than in Moscow and St. Petersburg.” Much of the decline in support for Putin reflected a decline in the number of Tatarstan residents who took part in the voting. That figure was down this year by 120,000 compared to 2012. Tatarstan was not the only place where the number of Putin voters declined. It was also the case in many other non-Russian republics: In Mordvinia, there were 99,935 fewer Putin voters; in Daghestan, 27,439; in Sakha, 23,767; and even in Chechnya, 17.772 fewer than in the election of 2012 despite a growth in the total number of those qualified to vote in all of them. “It is not excluded that the real number of votes for president in the republic could have been still fewer than reported by the regional election authorities,” given that they were lower almost everywhere where there were voting machines – exclusively in the cities — than where there were not – in rural areas where observers were fewer and falsification possibilities greater. Thus, for example, if one considers the precincts in Kazan with voting machines, Putin received only 67.6 percent of the vote while in the city as a whole he got 75.9 percent. (And his real as opposed to expressed support undoubtedly was lower still: one expert says Tatars voted for Putin to not undercut Kazan’s leaders (idelreal.org/a/rafael-khakimov-interview/29130429.html). The Radio Svoboda report notes that there was one precinct with machine voting where the result was just the opposite. In Leninogorsk, those in that precinct reportedly gave Putin 98.9 percent of their votes, a highly improbable result even in places like Chechnya let alone Tatarstan. This is the first of what one hopes will be detailed analyses of the 2018 presidential vote in Russia’s republics and regions, part of the return of the Soviet problem of “the missing one percent.” (For a discussion of that trend, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/03/are-russian-elections-again-going-to-be.html.)

Putin might take up role of “Homeland defender” during new term – expert | UNIAN

Russian leader Vladimir Putin during his next presidential term will test the role of a “Homeland defender” in a confrontation with the West, according to Chatham House fellow Lilia Shevtsova, who is a Russian political scientist, PhD in history. In the role of an “anti-graft fighter,” the Russian leader might as well get rid of “rotten elites, replacing them with more loyal ‘young wolves’.”

Putin Claims His Election Win Was The ‘Cleanest’ In Russian History

President Vladimir Putin has claimed that last month’s presidential election was “probably the most transparent and cleanest” in Russian history, accepting a certificate identifying him as the pr…

Vladimir Putin macho stunts that aren’t as impressive as they seem – Business Insider

Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to portray himself as a strongman, but some of his publicity stunts are not all they seem to be.

Robert Mercer – Money Launderer for Vladimir Putin – To Inform is to Influence

I was referred to this story by a very distinguished colleague who I trust, beyond belief.  That said, I cannot swear as to the accuracy of the data or the conclusions of this story. When I read the word “suggests”, that means there is no conclusive evidence and my spidey sense started quivering. When I…

Pussy Riot talks Trump, Putin and why women need to take charge

As the founding member of the feminist performance art collective Pussy Riot, Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova became famous for her balaclava-clad protests of the Russian oligarchy. The colorful, noisy demonstrations, which often took place in the streets of Moscow, also made her and collaborator Maria Alyokhina prime adversaries of President Vladimir Putin. The duo became a cause celebre in 2012, when a 40-second punk gig in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior earned each of them two-year prison sentences. Despite the harsh treatment Tolokonnikova, 28, received during her incarceration (she was freed by presidential amnesty after serving 18 months) and her subsequent beating by Cossack guards during an anti-Putin rally ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, she remains unflinching in her beliefs. As Pussy Riot arrives in San Francisco on its first ever U.S. tour, Tolokonnikova agreed to answer some questions for The Chronicle via email:

Mikhail Khodorkovsky | Chatham House

The campaigner for democratic change in Russia tells Alan Philps what Britain needs to do to exert pressure on Putin’s inner circle after the poisonings in Salisbury

Russian TV Channels Dodging Bad News, RSF Says

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned what it called “the growing trend” of major Russian television channels playing down or even ignoring bad news.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Regime Turning to Anti-Semitism, ‘Last Card of a Dictatorship,’ Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 2 – The “well-organized” campaign of Internet posts blaming the Jews for the Kemerovo tragedy suggests, Igor Eidman says, that the Russian authorities are again as at the start of the 20th century seeking to stir up anti-Semitism “in order to shift popular dissatisfaction from the authorities to the Jews.” In a Kasparov commentary entitled “Blood Libel at Kemerovo,” the Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle argues that in Russia today, the Internet is playing a role analogous to that of the secret police publishing houses at the end of the imperial period when the Black Hundreds were subsidized by the regime (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC1BE6A8561F). Tragically, he points out, “anti-Semitism [has often been] the last card of the dictatorship.” And it can be deployed even when the leader of the state is not personally anti-Semitic. Thus, under Mikhail Gorbachev, the KGB sought to exploit anti-Semitic feelings in the course of the Kremlin’s campaign against Boris Yeltsin and the rise of the Russian republic. Vladimir Putin is not known to be an anti-Semite, Eidman says; “but the very logic of his quasi-fascist regime is leading to the rebirth in one or another form of state anti-Semitism,” with hatred to the Jews pushed not by tsarist-style broadsides but by Internet trolls and even some writers in “’respectable’” pro-Kremlin publications like Komsomolskaya pravda. If the Putin regime begins to crack, he continues, “the Jews again can be assigned the role of those guilty for all problems.” That is because “anti-Semitism is the last card of a dictatorship” and what the powers that be are inclined to turn to “when other means no longer prove effective.” But those who exploit this ancient hatred should remember that anti-Semitism will not save them.

Putin Regime Turning to Anti-Semitism, ‘Last Card of a Dictatorship,’ Eidman Says – To Inform is to Influence

Monday, April 2, 2018 Paul Goble             Staunton, April 2 – The “well-organized” campaign of Internet posts blaming the Jews for the Kemerovo tragedy suggests, Igor Eidman says, that the Russian authorities are again as at the start of the 20th century seeking to stir up anti-Semitism “in order to shift popular dissatisfaction from the authorities to…

How they made Germany great again: The Nazi social media campaign of 1932 – Salon.com

Award-winning news and culture, features breaking news, in-depth reporting and criticism on politics, business, entertainment and technology.

FSB holds searches in Crimea, Yekaterinburg, Omsk over alleged spies – 112.international

Russian FSB has announced about the searches held in the occupied Crimea (Simferopol), as well as in Yekaterinburg and Omsk, reports RIA News. The searches were conducted simultaneously at the places of residence of three Russian citizens and one citizen of Ukraine. Russian FSB claimed it has revealed “an attempt of the group of spies to pass secret military maps to foreigners.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Any New 1937 Won’t Be Directed Against Elite but Again Against the People, Pozharsky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 2 – A major reason for popular support among Russians for Stalin and his system as a model for the future is the mistaken belief that the Soviet dictator destroyed the hated elite and thus served the interests of the people, Mikhail Pozharsky says. But in fact, the people were the chief victims of his repression; and they would be if his system were somehow restored. The Moscow commentator says that those, like television personality Misha Svetov, who say they “want a new 1937” (youtube.com/watch?v=UT2x3fe8LxY&feature=youtu.be), hope that such a development would punish and remove from the scene the hated members of the elite who are now oppressing ordinary Russians (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC079799BD26). But in making this argument, Pozharsky says, Svetov and those like him put forward “two extremely mistaken theses.” The first of these is that “’in 1937, it was the nomenklatura first and last that suffered.’” This is “simply historically untrue.” According to NKVD statistics, only six percent of the 937,000 Soviet citizens arrested in 1937 were members of the communist party. The real targets of Stalin’s criminal enterprise were elsewhere. The largest number of arrests came as a result of the Soviet dictator’s continuing “campaign for the struggle with ‘anti-Soviet elements.’” Fifty-four percent of those arrested were jailed as “’former kulaks,’” and another 36 percent were members of non-Russian groups like the Germans, the Poles and many others Stalin wanted to punish. Yes, the arrests and trials of senior Bolsheviks attracted and still attract the most attention, but these people were not Stalin’s main targets in 1937 or at any other time. The second mistaken thesis advanced by Svetov and his ilk is that the party, having been chastened by Stalin’s attack in 1937 “ceased to drink our blood.” History shows just the reverse with the deportations of whole nations, the shooting and arrest of Soviet soldiers by their own government, the growth of the camps in the late 1940s, and the shooting of the Novocherkassk workers coming after that date. “The regime learned to survive without mass murders only in Brezhnev’s time,” thirty years after 1937. The reason for that should also be instructive to those who worship at Stalin’s altar. “Repressions against the elite did not weaken but on the contrary STRENTHENED the autocracy.” These actions caused many people to think that the regime was working for the people just as the current regime’s occasional and sporadic fights against corruption do. But the consequences of the one and the other is to attract more support for the regime. As a result of the events of 1937-1938, Pozharsky says, the nomenklatura grew by 26 percent; and the new people in it were even more personally devoted to Stalin and his way of doing business than those they replaced. Consequently, the Moscow commentator says, no one should want a new 1937: It would mean far more suffering for the people than for the elite and it would “only strengthen the regime allowing it to hold on for many more years.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kemerovo More Evidence Russia Becoming ‘Upper Volta with Missiles,’ Aleksashenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 29 – The horrific fire in Kemerovo and even more the response of Russian officials and politicians to it shows how far Russia today has moved in the direction of becoming “Upper Volta with missiles,” Sergey Aleksashenko says, a state in which leaders care only about profit and power and in which people die. “We ever closer are approaching not the most developed African countries in terms of level of security, concern about human life, and about the attitudes of the leaders of the country or those who consider themselves leaders of people who live in it,” the Moscow economist says, but rather the least (echo.msk.ru/blog/aleksashenko/2174530-echo/). That was shown in the first instance by the declarations of some that protests about the fire were supposedly organized by hostile forces from abroad, he says, an indication that “in the heads of these people something isn’t right: that they want to transform the country into some absolutely mindless structure where people have no rights to anything.” But “the most horrific thing,” Aleksashenko says, is that “we all bear responsibility for this.” It is long past time to make conclusions and to recognize that Russians must be concerned about themselves and take steps to make things better – and not be palmed off with investigations that find a few guilty parties but recognize that this is a systemic problem. Of course, such people must be identified and punished; but if things end there as they always have in Russia in the past, nothing will get better. The country needs to understand how it was possible for a building constructed years ago for one purpose could be allowed to be used for a public one without being completely changed. What kind of a system allows that? Because it is the system not a special case. And Aleksashenko continues, “I want that what begins with Kemerovo oblast will be extended to all Russia so that trade centers … will all be checked to see how far they correspond to the basic rules for saving people.” Fires in malls happen, but they happen “extremely rarely” in developed countries and then will little loss of life. “They happen more often in developing countries in Asia, Africa and sometimes in Latin America. There people die;” but even in those places, fire departments save more people than they do in Russia. The reason is simple: “In Russia things have worked out in such a way that no one ever bears responsibility even though it is clear on whom responsibility rests. It rests on the man who built this system where only he can take decisions.” For things to change, for Russia “not to become like Upper Volta,” that must change as well. And there is a model for what Russia must do. It occurred following a February 1984 fire in Turin where 74 people died. Immediately afterwards, “not only in Italy but throughout the entire Eurozone the rules for the construction of public buildings were reviewed.” Flammable materials were banned. Since that time in Europe, “there has not been a single such fire which has carried off the lives of people.” Russians often are told that they have nothing to learn from the West. They have their own “truth,” their own “spiritual values.” But those values must include that “there is nothing dearer than the lives of people.” And if Europe has found a way to save those lives in these situations, there is no reason Russia should not copy them. Otherwise there will continue to be more fires and more deaths and Russia will continue its slide to the status of “Upper Volta with missiles” – even if its leaders keep talking about how special Russian values are and how little Russians have to learn from anyone else.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Like Smoke after Kemerovo Fire, ‘Hatred is Hanging in the Air’ over Russia, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 30 – Vladimir Putin and his regime feel the hatred of Russians toward themselves as a result of their powerlessness and towards “the powers” hanging in the air after the Kemerovo fire, and the regime is doing what it can to divert that hatred away from the regime and even into channels the regime won’t be threatened by, Igor Yakovenko says. That is why Putin and Tuleyev did not appear before the crowd that assembled at the site of the fire and that is why the government-controlled media have tried to give Russians some objects they can direct their hatred and anger at, even if those proposed objects are patently absurd (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5ABD2F17AF61A). Some pro-Kremlin talking heads first blamed bloggers for spreading fear, drawing an explicit analogy between them and “diversionary groups” in the rear of the Red Army in World War II or suggesting that such people were taking their revenge on Russians for the recent overwhelming re-election of Putin. Hatred, of course, “requires a living object,” and Kremlin talk show hosts sought to bring in those they could then attack. But many refused to take the bait and so the pro-Putin propagandists had to deploy their big gun, director Nikita Mikhalkov, who set the tone for many others. Mikhalkov insisted that the Kemerovo fire would never have happened but for the destruction of ideology in the course of “the wild 1990s” and the rise of people who display their “godlessness” by blaming the fire on the authorities and calling for their overthrow as when they shout “’Down with the power of the Chekists!’” The Kremlin has good reason to be concerned. According to a new poll conducted by VTsIOM, 60 percent of Russian surveyed consider that the authorities bear responsibility for the fire, although slightly more – 68 percent – say the mall’s owners are chiefly responsible (rbc.ru/rbcfreenews/5abded9f9a794777d7782a44?from=main). Consequently, however hard the authorities work, they may not be able to deflect anger and hatred against themselves. Even more, they may not be able – or possibly may not even try – to deflect hatred against groups like the Jews that some Russians have traditionally blamed for their problems. Today, Rabbi Aleksandr Boroda, the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR), appealed to the authorities to take action against those who are blaming the Jews for the Kemerovo tragedy and thus spreading this particularly horrific form of an ancient hatred (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=69550). Boroda said that “there are negative consequences” that will arise from the unrestricted spread of such xenophobic messages. “People have begun to be afraid to go to synagogue,” he added; and some, the rabbi concluded, there are some who “fear even that there will be pogroms.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian System So Unbalanced It’s Hard to Call It Stable, ‘Nezavisimaya gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 30 – Suggestions by Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev and others that opposition figures are exploiting or even behind demonstrations about the horrific fire show that “the political system in Russia is so unbalanced” that the elite sees any criticism even the most natural as portending a revolution, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta. And that in turn means, they argue in a lead article today that “it is extremely difficult to consider such a system stable” because the slightest complaint about anything is enough to cause the authorities to respond in the most authoritarian and foolish ways (ng.ru/editorial/2018-03-30/2_7201_red.html). The Kemerovo tragedy prompted people in many cities to “go into the street with political demands: tell the truth about the causes of the tragedy and the number who died and hold local and regional authorities to account,” an entirely natural response to an event in which children and others died, the paper says. But Tuleyev and others have responded by suggesting that opposition forces are exploiting the situation and rocking the boat. If they weren’t active, he suggested, the people would suffer in silence, rally around Vladimir Putin, and simply wait for the powers that be to do their jobs. “In a normal system, one of the most important functions of an opposition is to confront the authorities with pointed questions and to become a mouthpiece for public opinion in critical situations. Do these politicians gain from that? Yes, of course. But this is the inevitable effect when the opinions of citizens are heard and listened to.” But by suggesting that the population shouldn’t protest in such situations is to lead the Russian people to conclude that “the Kemerovo tragedy was not an accident but a systemic flaw” because banning talk about them suggests that they are first and foremost political issues, exactly the opposite message the powers want to send. “The current ruling elite has been in power already 18 years. No opposition for a long time has interfered with its leadership of the state. There is no law the executive power would like that it can’t get through parliament. And it is difficult to imagine a situation in which the judiciary would get in its way,” the editors continue. As a result, the powers that be “have all the instruments for running the country in their hands” and it should not have come as “a surprise to them that even the citizens consider the power that be responsible for everything that occurs,” the independent Moscow newspaper continues. Those in power act as if there is never a suitable time to raise uncomfortable to them questions. But if issues of life and death aren’t a suitable occasion, then “when is there going to be one” – especially as the authorities constantly elevate security over human rights and freedoms and broaden the powers of the special services and the police? Only a system seriously out of whack is afraid of expressions of anger on occasions like these, Nezavisimaya gazeta says; and such a system however much it advertises itself as stable is in fact anything but.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Putin: We Don’t Need Your Flowers on Our Graves’ – ‘Good Tsar, Bad Boyars’ Formula Breaking Down

Paul Goble Staunton, April 2 – Vladimir Putin like his Soviet and tsarist predecessors has long been able to rely on the notion that Russia is a country with “a good tsar” surrounded by “bad boyars,” but the editors of Russky Monitor say that for many Russians, that view no longer dominates their thinking, leading many to blame the Kremlin leader right alongside his local minions. That reflects the growing awareness among Russians that all decision-making power is concentrated in the Kremlin and that what officials in the regions and republics are doing is simply what “the tsar” wants rather than reflecting in every case what “the boyars” do (rusmonitor.com/formula-khoroshijj-car-plokhie-boyare-posle-volokolamska-nachala-davat-sboi.html). The mass meeting in Volokolamsk which took place after the leaders had been arrested indicates that “the potential energy of dissatisfaction among Russians is now very high” and that ever more of them “see the source of their problems not only in the governor … but also in Putin,” as the protest slogan in the title above indicates. Some observers, the news site continued, say that the principle of “good tsar, bad boyars’ is collapsing before our eyes. The authorities understand that” blocking the meeting even after arresting its leaders and preventing others from coming in will only make that trend more significant. “Under conditions of intensifying economic and infrastructure crisis in the country, such incidents will occur ever more often. And the central authorities, despite using all available propaganda resources at full power” won’t be able to restore the old formula. In its absence, Russian life will change radically. Russky monitor doesn’t say, but the regional news agency Federal Press does, that the possibility of trash protests exists in and around every Russian city (fedpress.ru/article/2005530). Consequently, what is on view in Volokolamsk today could easily be seen in many places tomorrow regardless of what the Kremlin does.

Draft Russian Bill Requires Conscripts To Report For Duty Without Receiving Summons

Russian lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a bill that would oblige draft-age men to report for military service even if they have not received a conscription notice.

The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia by Mark Galeotti – review: ‘These guys make Sicily’s crime families look soft’ – To Inform is to Influence

This is a gripping history of how the Russian state and criminal gangs became intertwined, says Simon Sebag Montefiore SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE This book could not be more relevant: it explains some aspects of the sinister events that have tainted the streets of London and Salisbury, and the politically inspired hackings in America and Europe, while illuminating…

Free Idel-Ural Movement takes shape in KyivEuromaidan Press |

This week, three activists from the Middle Volga announced the formation of the Free Idel-Ural Movement to achieve real sovereignty for Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Udmurtia, Mari El and Mordvinia by encouraging cooperative actions among the peoples of these republics and drawing on support from Ukraine.

Russian Historian Acquitted Of Child Pornography, Convicted On Weapons Charge

Russian historian and activist Yury Dmitriyev has been acquitted on child-pornography charges but was convicted of illegally possessing parts of a rifle.

UAWire – Number of western specialists coming to Russia drops by two thirds

The temporary migration from developed western states to Russia continues to decrease, according to the February report of the Russian …

Russia: Jehovah’s Witness Faces 10-Year Sentence | Human Rights Watch

Russian authorities should drop the charges against a Jehovah’s Witness adherent for practicing his faith and release him immediately, Human Rights Watch said today.

Jehovah’s Witness To Go On Trial In Russia On Extremism Charges

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Russian authorities to drop the charges against a Jehovah’s Witness adherent who is set to go on trial this week, and to put an end to their “ruthless perse…

Is it a crime to worship God? According to Russia, yes. – The Washington Post

Russia should drop prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Moscow Authorities Refuse To Allow Protest Against Sexual Harassment

Moscow city authorities have denied activists permission to hold a protest against sexual harassment on a central square outside the Kremlin on April 3.

‘Sleep With Me Or No Interview’: Young Russian Reporter Says Film Director Gave Her An Ultimatum

Darya Komarova was eager to interview a top Russian film director in 2012 — until she says he made an indecent proposal.

A Year After St. Petersburg Subway Blast, Russia Says Probe Almost Finished

One year after a blast that authorities say was a suicide bombing killed 16 people on a subway car in St. Petersburg, Russian investigators have announced that the probe is nearing completion.

Did American tourism to Russia increase in 2017? – BBC News

Reality Check looks into claims about the health of the Russian tourism industry.

Russia: The Kremlin’s Anti-Corruption Drive Takes Aim at a Key Oligarch – To Inform is to Influence

As the number of anti-corruption protests increases across Russia, the Kremlin seems to be taking note. One of Russia’s key oligarchs with deep ties to Kremlin circles, Ziyavudin Magomedov, was arrested on March 31 (along with his brother and another crony) on charges of corruption. Though the arrests indicate a possible governmental anti-corruption drive, they…

Russian Billionaire Detained On Suspicion Of Embezzlement

Russian authorities say a billionaire businessman and two of his partners have been detained on suspicion of embezzling a large amount of state funds.

No end in sight to Russia pork ban

Russia’s ban on EU pork exports is costing farmers €1.4 billion a year, but reorienting sales to China might be a better bet than banking on WTO arbitration or a political detente to get the income flowing again.

Russia: Russia misses the apples for the trees – The Economic Times

Russia is the worlds largest apple importer because local varieties spoil fast.

The famous Russian poet laughed at by Putin’s cronies | The Siver Times.com

The poet remembered the scandal with smuggling cocaine. During a speech in the capital of Ukraine, the Russian poet Orlusha (Andrey Orlov) ridiculed the confidants of Russian President Vladimir Putin and read out the verse about the scandal with smuggling cocaine via Russian diplomatic channels, reports the Chronicle.info with reference to obozrevatel.com. The corresponding video published on the page in Facebook the analyst Alexei Holomuzki. First, Orlusha read his work “Argentine tango”, by changing the first word in the title “Kachinskoe”. “Dedicated to the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, carrying 400 kilograms of cocaine by aircraft of the presidential flight of its Embassy in Argentina” – began performance poet. “Well then, at least those who see Russian TV… you know cheerful smile, Maria Zakharova (the speaker of the Russian Ministry of foreign Affairs – Ed.) and the press Secretary of Putin (Vladimir Putin – Ed.) I can even understand when they are serious, then after the last delivery was three months,” he joked further Orlusha.

UAWire – Russian court refuses to de-classify medical logs kept by Lenin’s doctors

The Court of Moscow has denied gerontologist Valery Novoselov’s request to disclose medical records containing details of medical treatment administered to Vladimir Lenin shortly before his death, as stated by Ivan Pavlov, Novoselov’s lawyer. “We will get a better understanding of the underlying reasons of the court’s ruling when we see the analytical part of the judgment, but we already can state that we are going to contest the ruling,” Pavlov said. “We believe that the decision of the archive’s employees to prolong the secrecy of the document was unlawful. The document had already been disclosed to the scientist, so it seems irrational to backpedal. Moreover, before this situation, there was no knowledge that the document was classified. The law protects a private secret for 75 years, in accordance with the desire of Lenin’s niece who sought to protect it from the public, and after that term expires, there is nothing in the law that indicates that this period could be prolonged.”

Russian Postal Delivery Drone Makes Debut– And Promptly Crashes

A Russian-made drone being tested for package delivery by Russia’s postal service crashed into a building just seconds after making its debut.

The Color Of Russian History

With an artist’s eye and a surgeon’s precision, Olga Shirnina — who works under the name Color By Klimbim — uses Photoshop to breathe new life into black-and-white photos from Russian history.

The Passing Of A Master: Russian Photographer Yury Abramochkin 1936-2018

The photojournalist described by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as “a master” was on hand to document many of the Soviet Union’s most historic moments.

Three small businessmen have helped organize protests against a landfill outside Moscow. Now two of them are behind bars and police have raided their offices. — Meduza

Artem Lyubimov, a businessman in Volokolamsk, was one of the people organizing the city’s protests against the “Yadrovo” landfill, until he was arrested for 15 days on April 3 for resisting the police. Lyubimov’s lawyer, Denis Kunaev, told Meduza that officers simply stopped his client’s car and delivered him to the local police station, where he was later tried and convicted. Lyubimov has declared a hunger strike.

Thousands Protest Against Toxic Landfill Near Moscow

Thousands of protesters gathered on April 1 in the town of Volokolamsk outside Moscow to demand the closure of a landfill site that has been emitting toxic fumes. They also called for the resignation of local authorities and the governor of the Moscow region, Andrei Vorobyov. RFE/RL has obtained footage of the demonstration from the Drugoye Mneniye (Another Opinion) YouTube channel. (Via RFE/RL’s Russian Service)

‘High Alert’ Declared In Russia’s Volokolamsk Over Toxic Fumes From Landfill

Russian authorities have declared a “high alert” and are distributing masks and respirators to residents of a town outside Moscow where toxic fumes have leaked from a landfill site.

Putin’s Imperial Rule Spurs Trash Protests in Moscow Suburbs – Bloomberg

Thousands of residents of the Moscow suburbs have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest foul odors from overflowing trash dumps, in an unusual surge of anti-government activism that’s set off alarm bells in the Kremlin.

Russia’s toxic water: Techa river’s history of contamination | Russia News | Al Jazeera

Considered one of the world’s most polluted waterways, it is spreading radioactive contamination all the way to the Arctic Ocean.

‘Anyone Would Do The Same’: Tajik Shopkeepers Are Lifesavers In Kemerovo 

Five Tajik shopkeepers at a Kemerovo shopping mall sprang into action when the complex caught fire on March 25.

One Dead, More Than 100 Evacuated As Fire Hits Shopping Center In Moscow

More than 100 people have been evacuated from a shopping center for children’s goods in Moscow after a fire broke out in a storage area on an upper floor, Russian media reports say.

Trudy Rubin: Deadly Russia fire reveals a lot about Putin, his people – The Lima News

I was on the phone this week with my Russian friend Val, trying to plan a trip to Moscow, but all she wanted to talk about was Sunday’s tragedy in Ke

Russia Kemerovo fire: Aman Tuleyev quits as governor – BBC News

Aman Tuleyev said resigning was “the only true decision” following the disaster that killed 60 people.

Governor Of Russia’s Kemerovo Region Resigns After Deadly Mall Fire

The governor of Russia’s Kemerovo region has stepped down in the wake of a shopping-center fire that left 64 people dead, including dozens of children.

Russian Blogger Says He Was Beaten Upon Arrival In Kemerovo

Russian opposition blogger Mikhail Svetov says he was beaten and sent back to Moscow upon his arrival at the airport in Kemerovo, a Siberian city where at least 64 people were killed in a shopping-…

Belarus Reports

UAWire – Lukashenko urges Belarusian exporters not ‘to seek fortune’ in Russia

The Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BelTA) reports that during a working visit to the Dzyarzhynsk District in Minsk Oblast, Belarusian President …

UAWire – Lukashenko wants to discuss with Putin problems regarding product supplies from Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated he would like to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin following his inauguration to …

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

Head of Ukraine’s Security Service – 112.international

Russian special services are eager to destabilize the political situation in Moldova and Odesa region, southern Ukraine, – Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of the SBU, Ukraine’s state security service

Unionists step up in Moldova: Should Ukraine fear Romanian reunification movement? – 112.international

Unionist Movement of the Republic of Moldova goes out

NATO Vs. Killer Russian Robots: Graphic Novel Envisions Cyberwar In Moldova

Moldova has become the source of a war between Russia and NATO — a cyberwar in which Russia quickly gains the upper hand and storms into Chisinau. In truth, the story line is a fictitious one made…

Son Of Moldovan Ex-President Lucinschi Convicted Of Money Laundering, Sentenced To Prison

A son of former Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, Chiril Lucinschi, has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison on corruption charges that he says are trumped up.

Six Convicted Of Plotting To Kill Tycoon And Sentenced To Prison In Moldova

Six men have been sentenced to prison in Moldova after being convicted of plotting to assassinate powerful politician and tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc, the head of the ruling Democratic Party

 

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Oil, anti-terrorism and spying – Modern Diplomacy

After Putin’s power and control of the Chechens over the Russian economy and government, Russian human intelligence activities have grown all over the world. The high oil prices have led Russia to recover its information resorts and resume its intelligence activities in regions and cities around the world

Russia Is Sending Private Military Contractors to Syria on Secret Flights: Report – The Daily Beast

The flights typically operate only at night.

Special Report: How a secret Russian airlift helps Syria’s Assad

In a corner of the departures area at Rostov airport in southern Russia, a group of about 130 men, many of them carrying overstuffed military-style rucksacks, lined up at four check-in desks beneath screens that showed no flight number or destination.

Vapour trail: How a secret Russian airlift helps Syria’s Assad

Russian military contractors are being sent on clandestine flights to Syria – and aircraft from the West are ending up in the hands of those on U.S. blacklists

Russia, Iran and Turkey struggle to find common ground on Syria

Three foreign powers who have shaped Syria’s civil war – Iran, Russia and Turkey – will discuss ways to wind down the fighting on Wednesday despite their involvement in rival military campaigns on the ground.

A Divergent ‘Alliance Of Convenience’: Russia, Turkey, Iran Try To Plan Syria’s Future

It’s a meeting to chart a future for Syria, featuring the major players involved in the country’s brutal seven years of war.

Russia-Turkey-Iran plan for Syria leaves key issues unsolved – CNN

Syria’s war is unlikely to get closer to its end simply because Vladimir Putin, Recip Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani are meeting again in Ankara this week.

Putin, Rohani In Ankara For Syria Talks With Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Ankara on April 4 for talks on Syria’s future and ways to bolster their countries’ influence in the war-ravaged country. A separate meeting between Putin and Rohani took place on April 4 and was also attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Reuters)

Turkey, Russia deepen ties amid troubled relations with West – Chicago Tribune

Ties between Russia and Turkey are growing closer than ever.

News Site: Iran Will Shut Down Telegram for Security Reasons | Business News | US News

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian news site is reporting the country will block the Telegram messenger service for reasons of national security.

Russia, Iran leaders head to Turkey for summit on Syria | The Times of Israel

Putin, Erdogan to attend ceremony for Russian-made nuclear power plant before Rouhani joins them for discussions on Syrian civil war

Putin To Visit Ankara This Week For Talks With Turkish, Iranian Leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to make a two-day visit to Turkey this week for talks with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts.

Is Russia bluffing with a weak hand in Syria?

If the international community—and Turkey in particular—starts challenging Russia, they might find that Rusia is not as formidable in Syria as it comes across.

What’s Turkey Trying to Achieve in Syria? | The National Interest

Erdoğan is attempting to cement his political legitimacy among Syrian Sunnis by portraying himself as their savior.

Trump Orders State Dept. to Suspend Funds for Syria Recovery – The New York Times

The move came as two members of the United States-led coalition fighting in Syria were killed and five others were wounded by a bomb in a late-night attack.

Russia Welcomes Trump Vow To Pull U.S. Troops Out Of Syria ‘Very Soon’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent pledge to pull U.S. troops out of Syria “very soon” now that the Islamic State militant group has been l…

A Day of Whiplash in the US’s Syria Policy – Defense One

At simultaneous live events, the president and military leaders offered conflicting views about America’s involvement.

Trump Reverses, Says He’ll Keep U.S. Troops in Syria – Defense One

The president officially walked back last week’s off-the-cuff remark that the U.S. would leave Syria ‘very soon,’ leaving even more questions about the …

Turkey, Russia, Iran Vow To Speed Up Efforts For ‘Calm’ In Syria

The presidents of Iran, Turkey, and Russia have expressed determination to “speed up their efforts to ensure calm on the ground” in Syria, saying after a summit in Ankara on April 4 that they are committed to achieving a “lasting cease-fire.”

Trump tells advisers he wants U.S. out of Syria – senior officials

President Donald Trump has told advisers he wants an early exit of U.S. troops from Syria, two senior administration officials said on Friday, a stance that may put him at odds with U.S. military officials who see the fight against Islamic State as nowhere near complete.

Republican senator Graham warns against Syria troop withdrawal

A senior Republican senator on Sunday warned U.S. President Donald Trump against pulling U.S. troops from Syria, saying it would lead to a resurgence of Islamic State and increased Iranian sway over the Syrian government in Damascus.

Graham: Pulling out of Syria “the single worst decision” Trump could make – POLITICO

“When it comes to Syria, do not read the Obama playbook, one foot in, one foot out,” he urged.

UAWire – Syrian Army increases its presence in Deir ez-Zor preparing for an attack on US-led coalition

The Syrian Army is amassing the troops on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in preparation to attack the US-led coalition and retake the oil and gas fields which are under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) , reports Syrian journalist Eyad Al-Hosain. “Military preparations are underway. A massive military campaign will soon be launched. The Syrian army will enter the oil fields controlled by American-backed forces East of Euphrates, “writes the journalist on his Facebook page. According to Al-Hosain, the Syrian military is preparing to launch an operation to retake the oil fields in the eastern countryside of the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. There have been several attempts by the Assad forces and their allies to retake the oil and gas rich areas of Deir ez-Zor . On March 3, units of Fatemiyoun and Zainebiyoun (Afghan and Pakistani Shia military formations fighting on the side of government troops in Syria and supported by Iran) have attempted to cross to the eastern bank the Euphrates River in the area of Al-Muhasan, but were attacked by the US-led coalition air force. On March 22, the US-led coalition struck the positions of the Syrian army and allied forces to prevent the possible attack on the area controlled by the Coalition. The US reportedly had to carry out airstrikes because the large number of Syrian troops and armor accumulated on the eastern bank of the Euphrates in violation of previously reached agreements. On February 7, in similar circumstances, the US-led coalition forces conducted the strike against the Russian military and the Syrian militia affiliated with Assad in the province of Deir ez Zor. The U.S. coalition said that the blow was struck in response to an attack on the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to Reuters, at least 100 people were killed in the attack while Russian sources provide a much higher number.

Britons Accused of Being Islamic State ‘Beatles’ Call Beheadings ‘Regrettable’ – The New York Times

El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, who are being detained in Syria, denounced a reported decision by Britain to strip them of citizenship.

Russia Says 41,000 Rebels Evacuated From Eastern Ghouta

More than 41,000 rebels and their family members have left eastern Ghouta as Syrian government forces and their allies consolidate power in the region, a Russian general has said.

UAWire – Germany continues to arm Ankara despite Turkey’s attacks on Kurds in Syria

Germany continues to supply weapons to Ankara, even after the start of a Turkish military operation against the Kurds in Syria, as reported on …

Sigmar Gabriel’s clarion call must be heeded – Daily Sabah

Germany’s former foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel recently wrote an opinion piece titled Turkey and the West after Afrin: Afrin is a message to the U.S….

UAWire – Russia transfers additional warplanes to Syria

On Friday, March 30, Al-Masdar News reported that three Russian planes have arrived at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria. According to the …

Turkey’s Erdogan Slams Kosovo Criticism Of Deportation Of Gulen-Linked Turks

Turkey’s president has slammed Kosovo’s prime minister for being critical of the arrest and deportation of six Turkish citizens with ties to schools linked to the Fethullah Gulen movement that Anka…

More Than Militias: Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Are Here to Stay – War on the Rocks

Over the last several years, I have met with commanders and fighters from Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (al-hashd al-sha’abi, or PMF), an umbrella organization of some 50 paramilitary groups, to hear about their perspectives on the situation in Iraq. Last month, I re-visited a leader whom I hadn’t seen in some

Erdogan: You are a terrorist, Netanyahu: You are a butcher – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Erdogan slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, calling the Israeli leader “a terrorist.”

Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’ – The Atlantic

In a wide-ranging conversation, Prince Mohammed bin Salman also recognized the Jewish peoples’ right to “their own land.”

Saudi crown prince: Jewish people have right to their ‘own land’ in region – The Washington Post

After decades of threatening rhetoric, Saudi officials appear increasingly willing to strike a carefully conciliatory tone toward Israel.

The country where the British are blamed for everything – BBC News

Conspiracy theories in Afghanistan often have a distinctive feature – it’s foreigners, and especially the British, who are cast in the role of the villain.

US Defense Firms Eye Expansion Into Saudi Arabia – Defense One

As the arms deals roll in, companies are pitching joint ventures to the visiting crown prince.

The Meaning of Operation Olive Branch – Foreign Policy

Turkey’s intervention in Syria is correcting for America’s flaws and laying the groundwork for a sustainable peace.

When terrorists and criminals govern better than governments

Militant groups often engage in criminal operations—drugs, trafficking, and smuggling—to fund their activities. But crime is not their primary calling—they also seek to govern. These groups may be evil but they can also be rational, calculating, and sometimes surprisingly effective.

America is fawning over Saudi Arabia’s repressive dictator – Vox

A man presiding over a brutal war is being received like a celebrity.

Foreign Policy Reports

Can Russia Maintain European Energy Dominance? | OilPrice.com

The Southern Gas Corridor is supposedly the solution to Europe’s overreliance on Russian energy, but there are plenty of geopolitical hurdles in the way

EU can extend gas directive action for third countries’ pipelines to counter Nord Stream 2 – 112.international

EU can extend gas directive action for third countries’ pipelines to counter Nord Stream 2

Finland approves construction of Nord Stream-2 – 112.international

Finland approves construction of Nord Stream 2

Construction of Nord Stream – 2 is a serious danger, – Poroshenko – 112.international

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko believes that the construction of the Nord Stream – 2 poses a serious danger for Ukraine. He stated this in the interview for Funke media group, which will be published on Saturday on March 31, as Deutche Welle reports. “On the one hand, Kyiv will lose $2 billion of customs in a year, which Kyiv levied for Russian gas transit to Europe. On the other hand, Russian Gazprom is likely to reduce the amount of gas supply for Ukraine and therefore it will weaken the state. Nord Stream – 2 is a tool of political pressure for Russia,” Poroshenko stressed. He also believes that the supporters of the Nord Stream – 2 construction are Russian accomplices in its Hybrid war. Poroshenko believes, that the Skripal’s case will influence the laying of the pipe, which is to connect Russia with Germany. The Nord Stream – 2 AG secured approval for the construction and maintenance of the pipeline in Germany’s Exclusive economic zone. Russia’s leading energy enterprise Gazprom and its partners intend to start implementing the Nord Stream-2 project worth almost 10 billion euros in April 2018. The 1,200-kilometers-long pipeline is to be laid through the Baltic Sea, linking Russia and Germany – bypassing Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States. The capacity will be twice larger than that of Nord Stream I. The construction is to be complete by late 2019. Nord Stream 2 is a project on building a second transit gas pipeline from Russia to Germany in the Baltic Sea. Barack Obama’s administration was against the project. The construction works are to begin in 2018. The project foresees further broadening and modernization of the Nord Stream pipeline. By promoting the Nord Stream II, Russia aims to refuse from the transit of its gas supplies through the Ukrainian territory. The construction of gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 doesn’t imply terminating the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, but the transit can be preserved only through competitive tariffs and cancelling the Ukrainian law suits against Gazprom. Earlier, more than ten world-known companies stated that they would like to participate in managing of Ukraine’s gas pipeline system.

Russia trying to hook Europe up on “gas needle” via Nord Stream 2 – Groysman | UNIAN

Groysman said Ukraine should do everything to stop the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project. Groysman also said Ukraine should do everything to stop the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project.

Poroshenko: Nord Stream 2 project needs to be revised – 31.03.2018 14:00 — Ukrinform News

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is convinced that the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project needs to be revised.

Nord Stream 2 might provoke full-scale Russian offensive on Ukraine – Parl’t Speaker | UNIAN

Verkhovna Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy says the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline may provoke a full-scale offensive of Russian troops to Ukraine. According to Parubiy, today the energy threat on the part of Russia is no less dangerous than the military one.

Parubiy initiates meeting of parliament’s heads of factions with German MPs to discuss Nord Stream 2 project | UNIAN

Ukraine Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy initiates a meeting of the heads of Ukrainian parliament factions with German MPs to discuss the issue of the inadmissibility of the Nord Stream 2 project. Parubiy said the Verkhovna Rada should formulate its position on this issue by adopting a statement.

Ukrainian parliament officially encourages international partners to counter construction of Gazprom’s Nord Stream II – Parliament of Ukraine calls on international partners to counter Nord Stream-2 construction – 112.international

266 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill.

Ukrainian parliament to adopt claim of inadmissibility of construction of Nord Stream-2 – 112.international

Ukrainian parliament to adopt claim of inadmissibility of construction of Nord Stream-2

UAWire – Ukraine’s Naftogaz threatens to seize Nord Stream 2 assets in Europe

Yuriy Vitrenko, Director for Business Development for Naftogaz Ukraine, has said that the company may appeal to the Swiss court to arrest shares of Nord Stream AG and Nord Stream 2 AG in connection with the recovery of debt from Gazprom. The debt recovery was mandated as part of a decision by the Stockholm Arbitration Court. “For example, gas. If Gazprom’s gas is stored in underground storage facilities in Europe, we can seize it. Or if gas is supplied to Europe, we can seize it too. Gazprom owns Nord Stream 1, a company that is registered in Switzerland. We can apply to the Court of Switzerland and seize shares of Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2. Gazprom has many assets in Europe,” Vitrenko said on Channel 24. According to Vitrenko, Naftogaz plans to solve the issue of debt collection through negotiations, but is preparing to recover the debt from Gazprom through the European courts. On Tuesday, Nord Stream 2 received all necessary permits from Germany for the construction and operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said earlier that Russia’s behavior following the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Court on the payment of compensation by Gazprom to Naftogaz puts in question the safety of the Nord Stream 2 project for Europe. The Stockholm Arbitration Court has ordered Gazprom to pay Naftogaz $4.63 billion dollars in compensation. In response, Alexei Miller, Chairman for the Russian company, said that Gazprom has initiated the termination of contracts for the supply and transit of gas with the Ukrainian company. Nord Stream AG is the operator of the operating Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline; Nord Stream 2 AG is the operator of the Nord Stream 2 project.

Why the Marshall Plan Worked — and Why It Won’t in Today’s Warzones – Defense One

A host of similar-sounding yet unworkable aid schemes are among the legacies of the one that launched 70 years ago Tuesday.

UAWire – Defendant held in Germany in ‘Russian Embassy cocaine case’ refuses extradition to Russia

The defendant in the recent “cocaine case,” Andrei Kovalchuk is in a Berlin prison awaiting his trial. It turns out that despite having a Russian passport Kovalchuk did not officially obtain citizenship of the Russian Federation, Rosbalt news outlet reports. Kovalchuk considers himself a “citizen of the world”. He continues to maintain his innocence, insisting that he was the victim of provocation. According to Rosbalt, Andrei Kovalchuk is now being held in Moabit prison in Berlin that has a rich history. Its “residents” were Stepan Bendera, spy Mikhail Kostevich, communist Karl Radek, Ernst Thälmann and Erich Honecker at different times. This penitentiary facility has many buildings separated in various directions in a star-shaped pattern. The doors and bars of each building are painted one certain color. Kovalchuk is being held in the ward populated mostly by citizens of the former USSR: Georgians, Armenians, Uzbekistanis, Ukrainians, etc. He has been placed in a double cell together with a native of Chechnya internationally wanted by Russia for a crime committed in Sochi. Moabit prison follows a decent daily routine. Ten to twelve prisoners at a time are taken for a walk to the yard with lawns and small trees. Then they have lunch and leisure time. From 16 to 19 prisoners have the right to move freely around their building where they have TV, table tennis and other diversions. There are almost no security personnel. Prisoners themselves meet visitors and walk around with them. There are also doctors in the prison, including a dentist. Given his current living conditions, it is not surprising that Kovalchuk is in no hurry to go to a Russian pre-trial detention center. The conditions there are radically different from those in the prison of Berlin. The defendant in the high-profile case refused voluntary extradition to Russia and now the request of the Prosecutor’s General Office of the Russian Federation for his extradition will be considered by the court. According to Rosbalt, German lawyers intend to maintain several positions in court. They will refer to the serious illnesses of Kovalchuk’s wife and child living in Germany. Andrei himself is the family’s only source of income. The defense also intends to prove that in Russia, he will not be provided with the conditions of detention covered by the European standards, and that it could pose a serious threat to him. Interestingly, Kovalchuk had in his possession Russian and foreign passports. However, it is not clear now he got them. Andrei Kovalchuk is not listed as a Russian citizen in the Federal Migration Service. According to the legislation, as of February 6, 1992, individuals who lived permanently in the Russian Federation had the right to automatically acquire citizenship regardless of where they were born. In contrast, Kovalchuk himself stated that from 1991 to 1995 he worked and constantly lived in Germany. That is why he could not be automatically granted Russian citizenship. He was born in the Ukrainian SSR. Now it turns out that officially, Kovalchuk does not have any citizenship at all.

Russia’s Feared ‘Night Wolves’ Bike Gang Came to Bosnia. Bosnia Giggled. – The New York Times

A Kremlin-funded tour by a biker gang known as Putin’s Angels, agents of meddling and mayhem, stoked fears about what Russia is up to in Bosnia.

Kosovo’s PM Fires Interior Minister, Secret Police Chief

Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has dismissed the interior minister and the secret-service chief after the arrest and deportation to Turkey of six Turkish nationals a day earlier.

UAWire – Serbia negotiates purchase of Mi-35 combat helicopters from Russia

Aleksandar Vulin, the Serbian Minister of Defense met with the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and reported afterwards that Serbia is …

Serbian Teens Play War Games At Russian Paramilitary Camp

Thirty teenagers from Serbia traveled to Russia to attend the International Military Patriotic Youth Camp. The camp is run by an ultranationalist group called E.N.O.T. Corp, whose military trainers teach kids how to find their way in the woods, handle weapons, and prepare for the possibility of war.

The west must not just abandon the Balkans to Russia’s embrace | Ivor Roberts | Opinion | The Guardian

The proposal to honour the late Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milošević with a statue in Belgrade reflects a wider power play, says former ambassador Ivor Roberts

Spanish Foreign Minister: Russia needs to be condemned for invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis believes that Russia should continue to be condemned for invading Ukraine and annexing the Crimea; at the same time, he believes a dialogue should be maintained with the country to resolve global conflicts. “Some of its [Russia’s] activities cannot be considered friendly. Some of them are intolerable, such as the invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea. However, one must be realistic and understand that Russia is necessary for solving certain global crises, such as Syria,” Dastis said. He noted that Moscow should be condemned for its unacceptable actions while a dialogue should simultaneously be conducted with it. “Russia is a strategic partner and is a strategic concern… It is necessary to have a dual approach, to react and condemn unacceptable actions and [at the same time] conduct a dialogue to resolve problems that concern us all,” the head of the Spanish Foreign Ministry stressed. Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis had earlier called on EU’s Eastern Strategic Communications Working Group to allocate additional resources for countering Russian disinformation and anti-European propaganda. At a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Kyiv on October 30, Dastis said that Spain supports Ukraine in the restoration of its territorial integrity.

Turkey’s possible entry into EU should not be blocked – Daily Sabah

Europeans must part ways with feudalism and embrace Turkey, which had cordial relations with Europe for centuries and deserves better than being a punching bag

Hungarian who fought in Donbas side with militants got two years of suspended sentence – 112.international

Hungarian who fought in Donbas side with militants got two years of suspended sentence

UAWire – Russia has not complied with more than two thousand verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights

Russia and Turkey are among the top countries that did not comply with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The report – about the results in 2017 – was presented in Strasbourg on Wednesday, April 4 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CMCE). According to the report, more than 2,000 cases of human rights violations are still unsettled in Russia. In Turkey, there are more than 1,500. In general, the number of ECHR judgments that have not been complied with in 47 member states of the Council of Europe has decreased. The fact that last year the ECHR delivered the largest number of verdicts for human rights violations against Russia and Turkey is a factor in their not fulfilling the court’s decisions. Compared to other Council of Europe members, in 2017, Russia paid the largest amount of compensation to victims – 14.6 million euros. Turkey took third place – after Italy – paying 11.6 million euros in compensation. The CMCE plays a key role in the system of bodies of the Council of Europe, since it is authorized to speak and make decisions on behalf of the organization. An important function of the CMCE is to monitor the implementation of the ECHR’s decisions. The committee can, for example, urge governments to change legislation, improve conditions in prisons, and reduce the level of violence by law enforcement. However, the CMCE does not establish a specific time period in which the countries are obliged to implement its recommendations. As a last resort, countries that often ignore the recommendations of the committee may be excluded from the Council of Europe, but this has never happened in the history of the organization.

Mind where you stick that pitchfork, Satan. It’s the Pope who said Hell isn’t real | Comment | The Sunday Times

There was fury in Hell today over reports that the Pope had suggested the place does not actually exist, in a meaningful sense. Pope Francis had allegedly made this observation to an Italian journalist, Eugenio Scalfari, although he later appeared to change his mind. “We do not need the imprimatur o

British aid keeps on funding repellent regimes | Comment | The Times

Politicians of all persuasions love aid. It allows them to pose as protectors of the poor and saviours of the world, cloaking themselves in compassion as they flit around the globe pretending to fix the toughest problems. Instead of the usual fury over funding of schools and hospitals at home, they

Britain gives £20m for schools glorifying martyrs and jihad | News | The Sunday Times

More than £20m of British aid money has been spent on Palestinian schools in the past year, despite ministers knowing the official curriculum could incite pupils to become martyrs and jihadists.In a series of parliamentary answers, the aid minister, Alistair Burt, has admitted that British taxpayer

Germany Struggles With an Unfamiliar Form of Anti-Semitism – WSJ

The stubborn persistence of anti-Semitic acts in the country where the Holocaust was plotted is raising concern that decades of work to eradicate prejudice against Jews are slowly being undone as it crops up among migrants. With prejudice against Jews cropping up among migrants, fears grow that ‘a new generation of anti-Semites is coming of age in Germany’

Labour Party ‘not connected’ to abusive anti-Jewish messages – BBC News

The party seeks to distance itself from pro-Corbyn online groups whose members have made anti-Jewish and violent comments.

Would Knesset recognize Holodomor as genocide? – 112.international

Holodomor is perceived in Israel as a tragedy of the peoples of Ukraine, who were victims of a criminal regime, including Jews living in Jewish collective farms, who, like Ukrainian peasants, have massively suffered from hunger

 

US Domestic Policy Reports

Treasury Designates Russian Oligarchs, Officials, and Entities in Response to Worldwide Malign Activity | U.S. Department of the Treasury

April 6, 2018 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in consultation with the Department of State, today designated seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. “The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The Russian government engages in a range of malign activity around the globe, including continuing to occupy Crimea and instigate violence in eastern Ukraine, supplying the Assad regime with material and weaponry as they bomb their own civilians, attempting to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities. Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities.” Today’s actions are pursuant to authority provided under Executive Order (E.O.) 13661 and E.O. 13662, authorities codified by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), as well as E.O. 13582. These actions follow the Department of the Treasury’s issuance of the CAATSA Section 241 report in late January 2018. In the Section 241 report, Treasury identified senior Russian government officials and oligarchs. Today’s action targets a number of the individuals listed in the Section 241 report, including those who benefit from the Putin regime and play a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities. Concurrent with this action, OFAC is issuing two general licenses to minimize immediate disruptions to U.S. persons, partners, and allies. For details, see General Licenses 12 and 13, as well as related FAQs. All assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction of the designated individuals and entities, and of any other entities blocked by operation of law as a result of their ownership by a sanctioned party, are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealings with them. Additionally, non-U.S. persons could face sanctions for knowingly facilitating significant transactions for or on behalf of the individuals or entities blocked today.

Trump sanctions Putin’s inner circle – POLITICO

The targets include Putin’s son-in-law and a billionaire linked to Paul Manafort.

U.S. hits Russian oligarchs, entities, government officials with sanctions – UPI.com

U.S. officials on Friday took additional action against Russia with more sanctions, citing Moscow’s brazen behavior and attacks on Western democracy.

U.S. Targets Allies of Putin in Latest Round of Sanctions – WSJ

The Trump administration levied sanctions against more than three-dozen Russian individuals and entities, targeting senior government officials as well as some of President Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarch allies and their companies.

U.S. Hits Russian Oligarchs And Officials With Sanctions Over Election Interference : The Two-Way : NPR

The Trump administration is laying sanctions on 38 Russian oligarchs, government officials and business entities, citing “the Kremlin’s malign agenda.”

U.S. Targets Russian Tycoons, Security Chiefs In New Round Of Sanctions

The United States has imposed sanctions more than 20 members of Russia’s political and business elite who are thought to have close connections to President Vladimir Putin, a move Washington desc…

U.S. Treasury sanctions Russian oligarchs, officials, entities in response to worldwide malign activity | UNIAN

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in consultation with the Department of State, today designated seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites, Mnuchin said.

Mueller authorized by DOJ to investigate alleged Manafort collusion with Russian government – CNNPolitics

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told special counsel Robert Mueller in a classified August 2, 2017, memo that he should investigate allegations that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “colluding with Russian government officials” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors in the Russia probe revealed late Monday night.

Mueller moved to seize bank accounts in Manafort probe – POLITICO

Special counsel also obtained search warrant for info on 5 phones in ongoing investigation just last month

From Thai Jail, Sex Coaches Say They Want to Trade U.S.-Russia Secrets for Safety – The New York Times

A Belarusian escort and her “seduction coach” fear deportation from Thailand, saying they know too much about Russian meddling in the 2016 American election.

First sentence handed down in Mueller special counsel probe – The Washington Post

Lawyer Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to the FBI.

He Says He’s an Innocent Victim. Robert Mueller Says He’s a Spy. – The New York Times

Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a 47-year-old former Russian military interpreter, is nicknamed “the midget.” But he’s looming large in the special counsel’s inquiry.

U.S. Special Counsel Reportedly Tells Lawyers Trump Is Not ‘Target’ In Russia Probe

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate whether President Donald Trump attempted to block his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but he has told Trump lawyers th…

Kremlin Aide: Trump Invited Putin To White House During Phone Call

A top Kremlin adviser says U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Russian leader Vladimir Putin to visit the White House.

Did California’s Ro Khanna get duped by Russia’s propaganda? – To Inform is to Influence

This is mind-numbing. The Hill is a fairly respectable publication. They’re throwing major shade at this Congressman and it is well deserved. The Hill is exposing Russian propaganda and Active Measures and telling us how it’s done. They’re also exposing Representative John Conyers, D-Mich, who resigned last year over sexual harassment allegations. In 2015 Conyers inserted Russian propaganda into a defense appropriations bill, preventing the Ukrainian Azov Battalion from receiving US aid. I wrote this up at that time: Russians fighting Ukraine are Neo-Nazis – Rep. Conyers and Counter-Russian-Propaganda Compilation for 12 June 2015. This is the United States of America, gentlemen. You are responsible for filtering out foreign propaganda. You are responsible for putting correct language into bills that filter out foreign propaganda. You are responsible for knowing – understanding – the words that you put into US law. Do your job. </end editorial>

President Obama ‘made the best decisions he could’ about Russia, former adviser Valerie Jarrett says – Recode

On Recode Decode, Jarrett says tech companies should work with the government to safeguard democracy.

Obama official: We could have stopped Russian trolls – To Inform is to Influence

There are some major problems with this article.  Brett Bruen, who served as the White House director of global engagement from 2013 to 2015, says the Obama administration could have “thwarted” Russian trolls. They produced some fact sheets and videos and claimed success.  In return, his effort was labeled a ‘recreation’ of the old USIA…

Graham lauds Trump on North Korea, but says Russia ‘running wild’ | Fox News

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a military hawk and solid President Trump supporter, on Sunday gave the president a mixed review on recent foreign policy decisions — suggesting the president indeed brought North Korea to the negotiating table, while disapproving of Trump’s plan to remove troops from Syria to allow Russia to run “wild.”

Graham says Trump has a hard time pushing back against Putin | New York Post

A top Republican senator hammered President Trump on Sunday for not “pushing back” against Russian leader Vladimir Putin following global outrage…

Trump-Putin relationship sours as White House gets tough on Russia | TheHill

This is the future of two nuclear superpowers. This is where the head must overrule the heart.

Will the Real Trump Russia Policy Please Stand Up? – Foreign Policy

Trump’s surprise White House invitation to Putin could undermine his administration’s tougher stance on Moscow.

Russia knocks ‘businessman’ Trump for selling weapons to Europe

President Trump is “a businessman, selling everything,” a Russian spokeswoman groused Wednesday after the U.S. hosted a White House summit with the heads of the Baltic states.

Trump draws blood in feud with Amazon, The Post – POLITICO

In a proxy war against the owner of The Washington Post, the president’s threats cause Amazon shares to plunge.

Denied Wall Funding, Trump Sends National Guard to Southern Border – Defense One

Details are still being hashed out, but previous presidents’ decisions to do the same offer clues about what’s to come.

Thus Spoke Jordan Peterson – Foreign Policy

Two years ago, Jordan Peterson was a relatively obscure psychology professor at the University of Toronto with but a single book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (Routledge, 564 pp., $73.95), and a quiver of scientific papers to his name on political psychology, personality, alcoholism, and other mainstream psychological topics. Today, Peterson is famous. His second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Random House Canada, 409 pp., $34.95), published in January, quickly topped Amazon’s best-seller list. His public lectures are sold-out affairs, his YouTube videos have garnered more than 40 million views, and he has more than 500,000 Twitter followers. Some 8,000 supporters give him more than $66,000 a month, or an average of $10.93 each, on the crowdfunding website Patreon. In return, they receive an exclusive bimonthly Q&A session with their mentor on YouTube.

Lindsey Graham: Bolton Has ‘Healthy Skepticism’ on NKorea | Newsmax.com

Sen. Lindsey Graham touted national security adviser John Bolton ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is coming to the table because economic sanctions have “hurt so much.” Bolton, he said, has a very healthy skepticism.”

Lindsey Graham: John Bolton’s worried North Korea is trying to dupe Trump like past presidents

Graham praised the Trump administration’s campaign of “maximum pressure,” crediting it with bringing Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table.

Pentagon braces for John Bolton | TheHill

Pentagon officials are bracing themselves for increased friction between the Defense Department and the White House with John Bolton’s pending arrival as President Trump’s national security adviser.

Goldfein: Rebuilding end strength key to fixing Air Force morale troubles

Undermanned and under-resourced bases in the continental United States are the biggest morale trouble spots in the Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said Thursday.

War Planning Must Include Domestic Plans, Too

President Donald Trump’s recent personnel shifts have been described as the making of a war cabinet just as high-stakes negotiations (and negotiations about whether negotiations are worth it) are in the works involving both Iran and North Korea. It is no surprise, then, that in Washington today one can hear the beat

 

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