Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (30)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>



Russia’s ongoing dive into the abyss continues, there is enough to suspect genuine internal stability problems are developing. Interesting DPRK developments, and more on China’s deployment of extended range HQ-9B and AS-17 KRYPTON derivative YJ-12B in the GWOS. Very interesting developments concerning Russian meddling in the US, especially Facebook ads.

 


NATO / EU / Russia Reports


The West should come up with an alternative for Russia – Putin’s days are numbered: Would Russia become pro-Western after Putin – 112.international
A key historical determinant of today’s tensions between Russia and the West is the missed opportunity of the 1990s. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent Europeanization attempt of the new Russian Federation had come a surprise to the West. Thoughts and plans for a democratic and pro-Western Russia were not developed in Washington, Brussels, and Bonn, even when Gorbachev’s perestroika became more and more obvious in the late 1980s. As a result, the West did not behave disrespectfully towards the new Russia under Boris Yeltsin, as is sometimes claimed by ignoramus historians today. However, in the 1990s, Western offers of cooperation with Moscow were uncoordinated, unrealistic, and aimless.
Will Russia become pro-Western after Putin?
The West should already prepare for the end of the Putin era by offering the Russians a concrete plan for a gradual Western integration of their country.
The Phantom Borders With Russia That NATO Won’t Defend
The nation of Georgia has a long record of working with NATO, but not as a member. The Daily Beast traveled to the border of a Russian-backed ‘republic’ that stands in the way.
The US May Seek Defenses Against Russian Missiles. We Need to Talk about That. – Defense One
If the Trump administration goes down that path, it should boldly declare a change in strategy, not hide behind ambiguity.
Moscow Has Little Reason to Return to the INF Treaty – Defense One
The incentives that led Gorbachev to sign the pact are gone. The U.S. needs to prepare for a post-INF world.
The US Navy’s new command puts Russia in the crosshairs
The move is the latest sign that the Navy is focusing its attention away from the war on terrorism and toward its major competitors China and Russia.
US Navy re-establishes Second Fleet amid Russia tensions – CNNPolitics
Amid heightened tensions with Russia, the US Navy announced Friday the re-establishment of the US Second Fleet which will be responsible for Naval forces along the East Coast and in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
Pentagon, Citing Russian Patrols, Bolsters U.S., NATO Presence In North Atlantic
The Pentagon has launched a new naval command to bolster the U.S. and NATO presence in the northern Atlantic Ocean, citing an increased Russian presence in those waters.
CNO Announces Establishment of U.S. 2nd Fleet
Story Number: NNS180504-15Release Date: 5/4/2018 2:31:00 PM A A A Email this story to a friend Print this story From Navy Office of Information NORFOLK (NNS) — Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, announced the establishment of U.S. 2nd Fleet during a change of command ceremony for U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) in Norfolk, May 4. Second Fleet will exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, it will plan and conduct maritime, joint and combined operations and will train, certify and provide maritime forces to respond to global contingencies. Commander, 2nd Fleet will report to USFF. “Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” said Richardson. “That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic.” Second Fleet was disestablished in 2011 and many of its personnel, assets and responsibilities were merged into USFF.
US revives 2nd Fleet to block Kremlin’s Atlantic operations | World | The Times
The US is to re-establish the 2nd Fleet, which was dismantled seven years ago when relations with Russia appeared to be improving.With the Russian navy now steadily increasing its presence in the North Atlantic and President Putin adopting an ever more aggressive stance towards the West, the reviv
US Navy resurrects Second Fleet in Atlantic to counter Russia – BBC News
The fleet returns to its old base seven years after disbandment, to oversee forces in the North Atlantic.
MoD is billions short for new ships and jets after losing control of costs | News | The Times
Britain’s defence chiefs have lost control of their budget and cannot afford to buy all the warships, jets and submarines they need, MPs warn today.The public accounts committee says in a report that it is “highly sceptical” that a defence review, due to conclude in July, will fix a funding gap of
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko tells CBS News he needs more US help in new Cold War with Russia, Vladimir Putin – CBS News
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tells CBS News he needs more U.S. help on the front line of the new Cold War
U.S. trains troops for front line in “hybrid war” with Russia – CBS News | UNIAN
The U.S. is supporting its ally Ukraine in a war against Russian-backed militants who have seized swathes of territory in eastern Ukraine since 2014, in a conflict that’s killed 10,000 people by some counts. President Poroshenko wants more weapons from the U.S., and UN peacekeepers, stressing that Ukraine is the front line in a new Cold War with Russia.
UAWire – Russia to deploy additional S-400 missile systems in annexed Crimea
This year air defense units in the Crimea will be equipped with S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile systems, said the commander of the Russian Southern Military District, Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov. “We managed to significantly strengthen security on the western flank, including through forming the new units in the 150th Motorized Rifle Division and 22th Army Corps stationed in the Crimea,” said Dvornikov, adding that “strengthening defense on the South Western flank will continue this year”. “The air defense units deployed in the Crimea will be equipped with the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and the Pantsir-S missile anti-aircraft artillery complexes,” the commander noted. According to him, today the Russian air force and air defense units in the Crimea are fully equipped with the latest weapons. Modern Su-30SM fighters, Ka-52 Alligator helicopters, Mi-28N Helicopters are ready to carry out any combat mission. The S-400 Triumph air defense missile systems and Pantsir-S missile and anti-aircraft artillery complexes have been put on combat duty. According to Dvornikov , in 2017, more than 20 military units were re-equipped with new and upgraded weapons.
Latvia’s Russians mark 73 years since Soviet victory | Free Malaysia Today
RIGA: Latvians of Russian descent gathered in the capital Riga on Wednesday in tribute to fallen Red Army soldiers 73 years since the Soviet victory over …
Estonia recognized most westernized of ex-Soviet countries, Ukraine ranks sixth – StrategEast | UNIAN
Experts from StrategEast, a U.S. strategic center for political and diplomatic solutions, have recognized the Baltic countries as the most westernized of all post-Soviet states. Ukraine follows Georgia and Moldova.
Russia debuts electronic war-fighter drone
The annual military victory parade in Moscow revealed armed variants of surveillance drones that could support Russia’s irregular wars.
UAWire – American sanctions against Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport go into effect
Washington has imposed sanctions against Rosoboronexport, accusing it of violating the U.S. nonproliferation of weapons in relation to Iran, …

Russia / Russophone Reports


Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Regime Rapidly Moving Beyond Ordinary Authoritarianism to Something Worse, Orlova Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 8 – There is an old saying that in a democracy, everything that isn’t prohibited is permitted; in an authoritarian one, everything that isn’t permitted is prohibited; and in a totalitarian one, everything that is permitted is compulsory. But as in so many other ways, Putin has produced a hybrid between authoritarianism and totalitarianism, Karina Orlova argues. The Moscow journalist notes that the police detained every fifth participant in the demonstrations on Saturday, a figure that clearly indicates where the Putin regime is headed: “those who disagree will be persecuted still more senselessly and mercilessly than before, repressions will become harsher, increase in number and become still more senseless” (echo.msk.ru/blog/karina_orlova/2198484-echo/). In Russia, Orlova continues, “a regime of state illegality has finally been established.” It has two elements. On the one hand, “citizens never know which law however illegal it may be they are violating: this allows the powers to hold people in constant fear and to act in any way even in the limits of the permissible.” Thus, Russians find themselves in a regime where everything is permitted and nothing depending on what Putin and his associates decide at any one time, a situation that is far worse than democracy or even authoritarianism even if it cannot be precisely characterized as totalitarian. And on the other hand, in this brave new world, “the organs of executive power no longer need even a formal reason for persecution and repression.” That is a major change even from a few years ago when a case had to be presented, even if the elements of it were entirely invented and absurd. Now, even that is not required. Moreover, Orlova points out, the authorities’ use of the pseudo-Cossacks means that whatever rules may govern the police, the authorities now want to make clear that they will use people against demonstrators and others who by definition follow now rules except what they can get away with. There have been two other indications this week of the kind of regime Putin’s is rapidly turning into. One involved his own inaugural ceremony; the other, the increasing recognition in the West that his regime is nothing but a criminal kleptocracy concerned only about wealth and using power to get it however repressive it has to be. This time around, Putin organized his swearing in without any of the trappings of contact with the people that he had employed in all of his previous inaugurals. He didn’t travel through the city and kept apart from the people not only in practice but symbolically, Orlova says. Putin has clearly broken with the people he is now oppressing. “Physical closeness to the people forces officials and politicians to feel direct responsibility for their actions,” the journalist says. “Putin does not feel any responsibility because physically he is isolated from the crowd which can be very terrible. Moreover, before his eyes are the pictures of the last minutes of Saddam Husseyn and Qaddafi.” This is leading Putin to transform Russia “into a mix of Turkmenistan, Venezuela and North Korea,” Orlova says; and the West can see this more clearly than ever before. This week, in the second development, some in Washington are making it clear that Russia under Putin is “an ordinary kleptocracy” and must be punished with more sanctions. People in the West now see that “the single idea of the Putin regime is personal enrichment” and that “everything else are methods and means of incarnating this not especially clever idea into life,” the journalist says. Consequently, the West is focusing on that aspect of Putin’s regime not least of all because he and his minions keep their wealth abroad where it is safer than in Russia itself. These things do not presage a good future for Russia. Instead, the next six years are almost certain to be among the most horrific ever.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Even in Soviet Times, Nobody Believed Promises Like Putin is Making,’ Gontmakher Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 9 – Vladimir Putin’s new May decrees are no more realistic or realizable than the 2012 ones that even he has acknowledged have remained largely unfulfilled, Yevgeny Gontmakher says. Instead, they are slogans about the future like those the Soviet government trotted out on holidays and that no one in the population believed. The Moscow economist and commentator told Rosbalt’s Aleksandr Zhelenin that some of Putin’s directives, such as in demography, are simply impossible of achieving given the constraints Russia is operating under while others are presented in such a way that no one can be sure whether they will be met or not (rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/05/08/1701832.html). As for demography, he continues, Putin may hope that Russian women will begin to have three or four children, but the number of potential mothers and their family size preferences make such hopes “unserious.” And the Kremlin leader may hope for economic growth but fails to talk about any systemic changes that such growth would require. Consequently, Gontmakher says, the May decrees are “a purely political document. All of this, if you remember, recalls the May Day slogans of the Central Committee of the CPSU: ‘Strengthen the task of the Communist Party!’ ‘Long live solidarity with the toilers of the whole world!’ and so on.” Putin talks about how wonderful it will be when poverty is cut in half, but he utterly fails to describe how poverty will be defined or measured. As a result, no one will know whether he has achieved that goal or not, including the man in the Kremlin. “Putin’s decree is a certain picture of the future which we have all so long sought, but I don’t know who among the broad masses of the population it will convinced. In principles, people already do not believe in such promises: Even in Soviet times, they didn’t believe; they viewed them as simply information noise.” Gontmakher continues: “But for the government this is a kind of which.” Putin is telling them “’I understand that these tasks are not fulfillable, but you solve them even if you fulfill them only in part and I will assess them politically. If you don’t fulfill something, I’ll say that the foreign political situation was complicated.’” It makes a certain amount of sense to give the government directives as it is taking shape, but the problem is that Putin failed in his election campaign to provide “any ideological schemes or concepts” into which such decrees might fit. And without those, Gontmakher says, “these problems will not be solved.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians React to Questions about Soviet Role in War Exactly as Islamists Do to Queries about Mohammed, Eidman Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 9 – Today, on the anniversary of the end of what Russians refer to as the Great Fatherland War – often spoken of by its Russian initials VOV — Igor Eidman, a Russian commentator for Deutsche Well, posts on Facebook a commentary he prepared in 2015. It is if anything even more relevant now than it was three years ago. He points out that “any non-apologetic evaluation of the events of the VOV elicits from the Russian authorities and journalists” – people he suggests should be called VOVans by analogy — which recalls the reaction of Islamists to what they view as ‘an insult to the Prophet Mohammed” (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1854539567942347&id=100001589654713). “The basic dogma” of the VOVans, Eidman continues, is that “we saved the entire world,” including many who “it would have been better not to save” and that now “everyone owes us” for that. Those who express any doubts about that are ungrateful fascists.” VOVans aren’t prepared to acknowledge “that other peoples also fought against Nazism, that Nazism as a historical phenomenon was doomed, that even if Russia had lost the war, Germany would have been beaten … and that the state which won in [that war] no longer exists and that present-day Russians overwhelmingly have no relationship to those events.” For the followers of this cult like the followers of any other cult, evidence is irrelevant, Eidman says. They accept Tertullian’s principle “’credo quia absurdum est.’” And like the followers of other cults, including Islamism, “VOVans seek to impose their cult on the entire world” and to punish any who disagree with it. “The main VOVan of Russia is VOVan Putin. The servants of the cult of the Great Fatherland War are his officials and propagandist servants.” Unfortunately for those who accept this cult, it works in just the opposite of Protestantism: it doesn’t encourage rational thought and personal initiative but rather promotes the acceptance of authority and dependence on the state. The grandfathers of the VOVans of today really fought; but their grandchildren are ascribing to themselves triumphs which their ancestors won but that the VOVans did not. “Real veterans receive very little from this cult. They live worse than their former defeated opponents in Germany, and the state spends on them immeasurably less” than on public spectacles. According to Eidman, “the main sacred symbol of this religion is ‘the Georgian ribbon,’ which VOVans on holidays attach to themselves in various way just as Papuans do with beads they have been given by travelers.” There is one difference between the VOVans and the Islamists, he acknowledges. “If the Islamists are fanatics, highly-placed VOVans in the main are simply crooks who are trying to strengthen with the assistance of this cult their power and privileges. They sell their VOV-opium for the people” to keep them in line and themselves in wealth.” Thus, the high priests of the VOVans are themselves “absolutely cynical, do not believe in anything and only serve those gods, the cult of which is most profitable.” Those who actually fought in the war deserve real respect, not the ersatz kind the VOVans offer, Eidman says. The new cult, he continues, is at the center of a rapidly forming “chauvinist state ideology which is “evidence that the state in Russia is becoming ever more ideologized and moving from authoritarianism to totalitarianism.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ever More Young Russians Protesting and Kremlin Wants to Punish Those who Allow That
Paul Goble Staunton, May 10 – Just as it seems impossible for the Kremlin to imagine that ordinary Russians could protest on their own without the direction of “dark forces” from abroad, so too it appears difficult for its denizens to understand that many young Russians are taking part because they understand the situation and want change. According to Snob columnists Tatyana Krasnova, many Russian teenagers are doing more to learn about their country than are their parents. She says they are reading Shalamov when their parents are watching the First Channel and they should be respected for their choices as a result (snob.ru/selected/entry/137262). Moreover, according to Ivan Yakovina of Kyiv’s New times, the regime is radicalizing young people by its actions. According to him, “they already are not afraid to throw themselves at the police and beat the OMON officers. This is by the way a very good thing” although it won’t by itself lead to regime change (nv.ua/opinion/yakovina/moskva-ustala-ot-putina-2468874.html). But in an indication that the authorities are frightened and want to prevent more young people from protesting, a group of United Russia deputies has proposed banning youths from unsanctioned meetings and fining organizers up to 500,000 rubles for each case or arresting them for up to 15 days (iz.ru/741469/2018-05-10/v-gosdume-predlozhili-nakazyvat-za-privlechenie-podrostkov-k-mitingam). Given that the party of power appears behind the measure, it will probably pass and become “the ideal variant for arbitrary action” by allowing officials to move against any organizer of any meeting they want to, according to Moscow analyst Dmitry Oreshkin (mbk.media/sences/idealnyj-variant-dlya-proizvola/). It does seem clear that more young people are taking part in unsanctioned meetings: In 2017, 475 youths were arrested at such events throughout Russia; last Saturday alone, 223 were detained, the MBK news agency reports.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Wants to Russify Not Just Russianize Non-Russian Nations, Turcologist Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 7 – Most Russian and foreign analysts have discussed Vladimir Putin’s drive to make the study of non-Russian languages in non-Russian republics voluntary while continuing to insist on the obligatory study of Russian as an indication that the Kremlin leader is committed to the total Russianization of the population. That is, Putin wants everyone including all the non-Russian peoples of the country to speak Russian so that they will find it easier to serve in the military, move about the country in the course of their lives and identify with their country via its language, something he has defined as central to Russian national identity. Now, there is increasing evidence that Putin’s program is intended not just to Russianize the population, ensuring that everyone speaks Russian, but to Russify the non-Russians so that they will identify not with the nations of their birth be they Tatars or Chechens or Tuvans but with the dominant nation of the country in which they currently find themselves. That is suggested by a portion of Putin’s program that has attracted relatively little attention but that has been pointed to by Ramazan Alpaut of Radio Svoboda’s IdelReal portal (idelreal.org/a/почему-родной-язык-добровольный-а-русская-литература-обязательная-/29113528.html). He points out that the new school programs Moscow is imposing on the non-Russian republics includes not only the elimination of non-Russian languages as required subjects and an increase in the number of hours for the required study of the Russian language but also introduces a requirement that non-Russians study Russian literature as well. Kharun Akbayev, a Turcologist from Karachayevo-Cherkessia, tells Alpaut that he favors the obligatory study of Russian in non-Russian schools but very much opposes forcing non-Russian pupils to study Russian literature. “This is something more than incorrect” and must be opposed. It is reasonable to expect that everyone who lives in a country should speak the common language of the country. But the study of literature is different than the study of language. It is a discipline “which forms one’s worldview. Why should Karachay-Balkars, Circassians, Tatars, Bashkirs of Sakha form their worldview on the basis of a Russian worldview?” They have their own national worldviews, and these must be maintained even if they speak perfect Russian, Akbayev says. This could best be served by the creation of a course on “the literature of the peoples of Russia” that both non-Russians and ethnic Russians could study and thus learn about each other. That would make sense unless, as it appears, the government has a different “goal – the Russification of peoples who live in the country.” If in fact that is the case, Akbayev suggests, what Putin is about is something far more threatening to the future of the non-Russian nations and that once this is recognized, they will be radicalized and oppose him far more seriously.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Activists in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Buryatia Call for Abolishing Non-Russian Republics
Paul Goble Staunton, May 9 – Encouraged by Vladimir Putin’s drive to end obligatory instruction in non-Russian languages in the republics, Russian nationalist activists in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Buryatia are now pressing for the abolition of the non-Russian republics whose existence, they say, acts to “proliferate nationalism.” Their call takes the form of an open letter to the Duma which is considering a law banning any required study of non-Russian languages as well as to the Russian ministry of education. They present themselves as speaking for themselves and their fellow Russians in the republics, but there is a more ominous possibility. What their call may represent is the opening salvo in a Kremlin campaign to do away with the republics, something Putin has indicated he favors, by highlighting support within the republics for that idea and thus setting the stage for referendums on the matter as the Russian constitution and laws require. If that is the case, it will be not only language over which Russians and non-Russians will be fighting in the coming months but also the existence of the non-Russian republics which form a key element of what is left of federalism in Russia and whose abolition would open the way to an even more centralized unitary state. The authors of the appeal include Mikhail Shcheglov, head of the Society of Russian Culture of Tatarstan, Eduard Nosov of the Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Russian-Speaking Parents and Students in Tatarstan, Viktor Afanasyev of the Union of Ethnic Russians of Bashkortostan, and I. Gneusheva of the Movement for the Voluntary Study of Buryat. Not surprisingly, they focus on arguments in favor of making the study of non-Russian languages entirely voluntary while keeping Russian and Russian literature as compulsory (idelreal.org/a/противники-обязательных-уроков-родного-языка-из-казани-уфы-и-улан-удэ-предложили-ликвидировать-национальные-республики-россии/29214866.html). But in the key passage, these Russian nationalists call for Moscow to take up the issue of the liquidation of the non-Russian republics within Russia: Non-Russians shouldn’t have more rights than the ethnic Russian majority does, and the latter has no special status at all. Hence, the non-Russians must lose their status so everyone will be equal.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Buryatia: Superficial Political Stability Masks Growing Threat of Social Explosions
Paul Goble Staunton, May 8 – Buryatia could prove to be a metonym for Russia as a whole. The Buddhist republic, Bato Ochirov says, is one where superficial political stability imposed from above masks growing social discontent that cannot find any outlet within the political system and therefore may take the form of anomic violence and popular risings. In an essay for the AsiaRussia portal, the Buryat political analyst says that upcoming elections to the republic’s parliament aren’t going to reflect what is going on in society. Moscow and its local representatives have things at that “formal” level too well organized and controlled (asiarussia.ru/articles/19599/). But precisely because the power vertical has, Ochirov continues, its managers have left the many people in the population who are angry about conditions with no means of acting within the system and thus unwittingly and unintentionally caused the latter to think about acting in an extra-systemic manner. That means that “the rickety balance” that exists in the republic could “at any moment” collapse in the face of popular risings. There are already signs that things are coming apart. The situation in the Tunka region two years ago showed how easy it is for the authorities to lose control if people go into the street and show they are not afraid, the commentator says. Their actions, including blocking streets and refusing to obey the authorities, have since been copied in many other regions of Buryatia, including most recently in the Yeravna region, the homeland of many influential people in the regime but also in the religious leadership and business community. Few of these actions have attracted much attention beyond this republic on the Mongolian border, but “today Buryatia on the socio-political level is like a pot beginning to boil with the appearance of a few bubbles.” Each week brings fresh evidence that the number of these bubbles starting in Tunka and in Yeravna are increasing in number and scope. Some of these actions are “widely known” at least within the republic and in its capital, but many are not. The big question is whether they will come together and present the powers that be will a bubbling pot that the authorities can’t ignore but also can’t prevent from boiling over. The situation in Yeravna suggests that the situation there may already be close to that point. “The central factor of the destruction of political processes in the region is the lack of any strategy and philosophy of change. Up to now, ‘the era of change’ [that the Moscow-install republic head talks about] remains only a declaration” to be put on banners and then forgotten. “Today,” Ochirov continues, Buryatia is made up of a complex mix of inter-ethnic, domestic political, inter-clan, inter-family and other relationships. Any mistake in one of these elements can quickly jump to another. At some point, it is even possible that they will all come together. According to Ochirov, the existing system needs to be totally reformed. “The former model” of power in which everything looks calm but in which real problems are ignored “has exhausted itself.” That is something the Buryat people see – and it makes them even more angry. What matters, of course, is that the Buryats may be far from the only people in Russia who feel that way.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow May Allow Mixed Nationality Identities in 2020 Census to Undermine Republics
Paul Goble Staunton, May 10 – Two years ago, Academician Valery Tishkov, former nationalities minister and advisor to Vladimir Putin on ethnic issues, said that residents of the Russian Federation should be allowed to tell census takers that there are members not of a particular nationality but rather of mixed ethnicity. Speaking in Kazan, Tishkov said that “people with dual ethnic identity certainly should be given the opportunity to write that they are Tatar-Bashkirs,” an arrangement that he suggested would allow for the resolution of problems in the relationship between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan (realnoevremya.ru/articles/43432). Now, with the 2020 census approaching and with Tishkov’s views known to be influential in the past about the rules governing ethnic declarations to census takers and the grouping or division of individual declarations, IdealReal’s Ramazan Alpaut has interviewed Tatars and Bashkirs about Tishkov’s idea (idelreal.org/a/29214920.html). Ayrat Fayzrakhmanov, the vice president of the World Forum of Tatar Youth, says that “it would seem that any rapprochement of Tatars and Bashkirs is something one could only welcome because we are closely-related peoples, not just brothers but twin.” But not in this way and not in this case. “Under current conditions, Tishkov’s proposals mean the following – the sowing of confusion among Tatars and Bashkirs,” with many not becoming unsure about who they in fact are. Even more important, the goal of doing that, the Tatar activist says, is to play games with the numbers and shares of Tatars in Tatarstan. Tatars now outnumber ethnic Russians in Tatarstan, but if a significant number of them were to declare that they were of mixed nationality, Moscow might claim that ethnic Russians are in fact the most numerous nationality just as Russian officials (including prominently Tishkov) tried to do with the Kryashene, Orthodox Christian Tatars, in earlier census. The consequences for Bashkortostan would be even more serious: There ethnic Russians outnumber the Bashkirs already. They would gain even more if the category of “dual nationals” attracted a large number of declarations. And it is even possible they would outnumber the Bashkirs and Tatars there combined. In that event, Moscow would be positioned to push through a referendum in a nominally democratic fashion abolishing the republics as ethno-national state formations and thus be able to make Russia formally what it already is in practice: a unitary rather than a federal state. The Bashkir public organization Bashkort also is against Tishkov’s proposal, Alpaut reports. But its reasons are very different than the ones offered by Fayzrakhmanov. Following Tishkov’s logic, the group says, it will then be necessary “to introduce terms like Bashkir-Russian, Tatar-Russian, Chuvash-Bashkir and so on – a full mixing” that will confuse things. The Azatlyk Tatar youth organization views Tishkov’s proposal “as an instrument of an assimilationist policy,” one “directed at the splitting up of major politically strong and independent groups.” The Tatars, the largest of the non-Russian nations within the Russian Federation, are naturally the first target of this policy. According to Azatlyk, “this idea has no future because it will not be supported by either the Tatars or the Bashkirs.” The organization did not say how they would react if Moscow insisted on this change. And it may given that the Council of Europe supports the idea of the category of mixed nationality. But if Moscow does accept Tishkov’s position, it will radically increase the number of different categories in the nationality line, including not unimportantly many consisting of people who would identify as Russian mixed with another nationality. Some in Moscow would might welcome this as a step toward full assimilation, but others won’t. Many Russian nationalists would oppose such “hyphenates” which they would see as diluting the purity of the Russian nation. But even if their objections were ignored, many in Moscow would be concerned that the use of such mixed categories would reduce still further the number and share of ethnic Russians in the population. The share of ethnic Russians is already much lower than Moscow officially declares; the adoption of this Tishkov innovation would cut it still further.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Federalism was Sacrificed in Russia to Strengthen Putin and the Center, Busygina Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 5 – The federalism which Russia began to put in place in the 1990s was “sacrificed first of all to the task of strengthening the position of President [Vladimir Putin] and second to the implementation of his understanding of federalism as nothing more than a framework for the technocratic implementation of the center’s decisions,” Irina Busygina says. Such an approach, the regional specialist at St. Petersburg’s Higher School of Economics says, “in principle does not view the regions as partners of the center with which the center must reach agreements.” And as a result, Russia now lacks the most important quality of federalism: “the interweaving of mutual dependencies” between the central government and the regions. That means of course, Busygina says, that “reforms can be made quickly and with negotiations or agreements. It is possible to do almost everything; but this freedom in no way leads us toward genuine federalism,” rather in exactly the opposite direction (afterempire.info/2018/05/05/ru-federalism/). Federalism requires mutuality, with the center, on the one hand, and the regions and republics, on the other, recognizing the rights and powers of each, sharing some but also having their own which the other accepts, the scholar says. Achieving that is hard and a continuing process, and thus requires continuing adjustments, flexibility, and reform. “In 1993,” Busygina says, “Russia made a constitutional, that is, strategic choice in favor of a federation,” a reflection of a specific congeries of circumstances including “the weakness of the national center” and “the increasingly chaotic nature of decentralization.” Many felt Russia was on its way toward the kind of disintegration that tore the USSR apart. Because of that prospect, Boris Yeltsin organized the signing of agreements with the regions “which to a certain extent could guarantee their loyalty” as well as a federative treaty which was signed in March 1992. At that time, “in fact, federalism in Russia was ‘a choice without a choice,’ and discussions among the elite groups were not about the choice between a federal Russia and a unitary one but about the model of federalism most ‘suitable’ for Russia,” on that would “in particular” include the preservation of ethnic regions, the republics. These discussions were cut short by the October 1993 clash between Yeltsin and the Russian Supreme Soviet, after which time Yeltsin had to “adopt a constitution as quickly as possible” to enshrine the complicated and even internally inconsistent situation in the country in its basic law. Not surprisingly given the situation out of which it emerged, Buzygina says, “federalism in Russia quite quickly became the object of serious criticism from both practical workers and experts. But was what criticized was not the choice of the federative model but more often its incorrect interpretation.” That is because, she says, “federalism ‘Yeltsin-style’ really developed under conditions of growing pressure of the regions on the center’ and the weak center with an unpopular president was not in a position to stand up to this pressure.” That is how things continued until Vladimir Putin came to power. “With Putin, the situation was changed in a radical way: the federal center sharply increased its positions, and at that moment arose, at least theoretically, a window of opportunity for reforms which could have led the relations of the center and the regions into a situation described by the slogan, ‘a strong center and strong regions.’” That is, to real federalism. Instead, however, “Putin proceeded along the path of destroying the federalism of the 1990s” because he wanted to remove from the ruling coalition regional elites “by the sharp reduction of the level of their political autonomy.” That strengthened his hand, strengthened Moscow, and reduced the status of the regions and republics. When he first ran for president, Putin signaled what he intended: according to him “super-centralization is part of the genetic code of Russia” and reflects “its traditions and the mentality of the population.” Very quickly, he began to act on that: introducing federal districts and ultimately giving himself the power to name governors rather than allow them to be elected. These actions, Buzygina continues, as many experts have pointed out, “transformed the governors from independent politicians into bureaucrats completely dependent on Moscow’s disposition.” Putin’s subsequent actions, she says, only pushed this process even further. Among them were his program of regional amalgamation, perhaps justifiable to eliminate the matryoshka autonomous districts but undertaken in ways that reflected not negotiations between the center and the regions but the imposition by fiat of the Kremlin’s decisions. Significantly, this system stalled in the face of more economically well-off non-Russian areas. Now, the question arises: how much further will Putin go in the direction of a completely unitary state? Will he abolish the non-Russian republics and reduce the territories outside of Moscow to little more than branch offices of the center? Or will he, however much he wants to take those steps, be forced once again to go slow lest he provoke massive resistance?
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Is Moscow about to Revive a Nationalities Ministry?
Paul Goble Staunton, May 9 – Rumors are flying that Moscow may soon restore a ministry of nationality affairs in place of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs and that Magomedsalam Magomedov, the former president of Daghestan who has overseen nationality policy for the Presidential Administration since 2013 may be given the job. There are at least three reasons why these rumors which have circulated before may have more substance now. First, the Presidential Administration is being re-organized and, according to an anonymous Kommersant source, there is no “chair” in the new constellation for Magomedov (kommersant.ru/doc/3622525). Second, the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs and its head Igor Barinov have been subject to withering criticism for planning and financial problems, much of it the product of the fact that the agency has too many responsibilities and too little power to impose its decisions on the republics and ethnic organizations (kommersant.ru/doc/3619753). And third, if Vladimir Putin continues his drive against non-Russian languages and does move to do away with the non-Russian republics as ever more Russian nationalists are urging (nazaccent.ru/content/27184-russkie-aktivisty-predlozhili-uravnyat-vse-territorii.html), even more decisions about ethnic matters would inevitably be concentrated in Moscow than even now. A ministry might thus appear to be to the Kremlin a more appropriate arrangement, especially as it could be sold within the country and abroad as an indication of the Russian government’s solicitude for ethnic issues even as the government moves against the structures that have been the main defense of non-Russian nations. But it is quite possible that Putin will prove reluctant to take this step. One of his earliest acts in his first term as president was to abolish the post-Soviet Russian ministry for nationality affairs whose responsibilities he divided among several other ministries. Only in 2015 did he create the current Federal Agency. Moreover, the Kremlin leader faces the same challenges in this area that his predecessors have: If he gives the organization charged with nationality policy enough power and money to make a difference, he will have created a bureaucratic monster that will rapidly become involved in almost anything. But if Putin doesn’t give the agency that much money and power – and he hasn’t given the Federal Agency much of either – then it is likely that he will have a largely meaningless institution and that fights over nationality policy will continue as of nothing within other parts of the Moscow bureaucracy and between Moscow and the republics.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Real Cossacks are to Putin’s Thugs what Water Pipes are to Sewage Lines, Cossack Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 9 – In the 1990s, many clever Russians observed that democratization [demokratizatiya] is to democracy [demokratiya] what a water pipe [kanal] is to sewage lines [kanalizatsiya], things ostensibly and superficially similar but in fact radically different in their content and meaning. Now, Dmitry Temerev, a Don Cossack, has employed the same analogy to distinguish between Putin’s thugs who claimed to be “Cossacks” and real Cossacks. “The Cossacks are a people who live on the historical territories and after three waves of genocide have been made into a national minority” (facebook.com/avraham.shmulevich/posts/10215865902781409). The people who joined the state-organized thugs who attacked the demonstrators on Saturday and whom Putin and his followers insist on calling “Cossacks” are nothing more than the dregs of society who have gone to stores, purchased Cossack regalia and imagined that by putting on such clothes and using whips they become Cossacks. “Between these two categories of citizens of the Russian Federation, there is no connection,” Temerev says. And Putinist propaganda about the Cossacks is simply false: the Cossacks did not always and everywhere serve the Russian state; instead, they fought for independence and many fled the country in the face of Soviet genocide. After the Russian state conquered the Cossacks of the Don in 1708, Russian forces killed approximately half of all the Don Cossacks and exiled others, hardly an indication that the Cossacks were loyalists. A century later they were forcibly enrolled as a social stratum in the tsarist system. They remained so for 82 years, “not the most significant period” of their history. Following the Bolshevik revolution, the Cossacks sought to recreate their own state, cooperated in part with the White forces, and were the victims of the first Soviet-era genocide when Lenin decreed that they were to be destroyed. The second wave of such destruction occurred “under the cover of collectivization,” Temerev continues. Not surprisingly, some Cossacks fought for the Germans during World War II, while others fought in the ranks of the Red Army. But by the end of that conflict, they had been reduced to a shadow of their former selves, continued to be discriminated against, and looked forward to a day when they could recover. Unfortunately, even as the genuine Cossacks sought to recover their national patrimony, others in society began to identify as Cossacks even though they shared none of the past. That includes the pseudo-Cossacks Putin has used against the demonstrators. As real Cossacks know, there was never such an organization as the Moscow Cossacks before 1991. The modern history of Russian Cossackry is even more ramified than Temerev outlines. Historian Nikolay Syromyatnikov reports that the 1897 all-Russian census counted approximately three million Cossacks who were organized into 11 Cossack hosts. They formed 2.3 percent of the empire’s population (russian7.ru/post/kazachi-voyska-kotorye-bolshe-vsego-p/). By the time of the revolution, their numbers had grown to an estimated four to six million organized not in 11 but 13 hosts from European Russia to the Pacific. During the Civil War, some tried to restore a Cossack state; others fought for the Whites; and still others fought for the Reds despite the latter’s suspiciousness and then outright antagonism. The Bolsheviks ordered that not only Cossacks who served in the White Armies were to be executed when captured but that all of their family members, including women and children, were to be killed as well and that all of their property was to be confiscated and distributed to the Russian peasantry. More than half of the Don and Urals Cossack hosts were destroyed; other hosts saw their populations decline by 20 percent or more. At the end of the Civil War, an estimated 300,000 Cossacks emigrated; and by the end of the 1920s, some 200,000 more of them had left the Soviet Union.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Approach to Demonstrations Opens the Way to Pogroms, Orekh Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 8 – Something terrible happened on Saturday, Anton Orekh says. The government set one group of Russians against another. “This is not a civil war, but it is an important element of one” and is likely to be manifested in the same way that it was when the last tsar used this tactic: in pogroms against despised minorities. “The authorities specially selected and prepared detachments for pogroms, devoting money to this and assigning sponsors. This was no drunken fight and not a clash of political opponents who suddenly cae together … This was a special action planned over the course of several months,” the commentator says (echo.msk.ru/blog/oreh/2198084-echo/). This operation, he continues, required time. It couldn’t have been put together in a few days or weeks. And such people “have no other work besides provocations and force.” The harsh actions of the police are at least potentially “theoretically explicable.” They are “a unitive organ” and have “the formal right to use force. It is another matter how they use this right, but the right exists. But young people dressed up as Cossacks have no right to beat others at all under any circumstances.” Moreover, such people must not only be organized and trained but directed, Orekh says; otherwise, they would not necessarily know whom to attack and when. That is what the powers that be of the Putin regime have done: they have “given the signal for pogroms,” first against protesters, but soon they will turn on other targets. And just as over a century ago, “no one will even tr to stop them. The police won’t even formally begin to interfere.” Such people trained by the regime may stop someone in the street and beat him just because they don’t like his physiognomy. And they may feel they can act with complete impunity. The Putin regime is about to learn what Nicholas II did: “it is possible to start pogroms” to suit your purposes, “but then to control them is already impossible.” The Kremlin may be pleased that the actions of these people will make Russians think twice about attending any meeting lest they be attacked. That will cut attendance. But then something else will happen, Orekh says: “those who come may turn out to be no weaker than the little Cossacks. And then to the first element of a civil war will be added the second: the use of force will become mutual.” At that point, those who have sown the wind may as before reap the whirlwind.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Yet Another Reason to Boycott World Cup: ‘Cossacks’ who Beat Navalny Marchers to Guard Football Fans
Paul Goble Staunton, May 6 – There are many compelling reasons why the international community should boycott the World Cup in Russia this summer – Moscow’s doping program and its dishonest handling of charges against its athletes and officials being the most commonly cited — but now the Kremlin has provided another reason for such action even at this late date. The pseudo-Cossacks, under the command of a “retired” FSB lieutenant general, who beat Russians taking part in the “He’s Not Our Tsar” marches yesterday, were paid for by the Moscow city authorities and are slated to serve as guards for fans coming to World Cup competitions this summer (newsru.com/russia/06may2018/kazaki.html). Consequently, anyone who attends those sporting events will be “protected” by people who have already shown their contempt for obeying the law and protecting people rather than beating them up. No one in his or her right mind should take that risk, especially as it is likely that these “Cossacks” aren’t the real thing but rather thugs the authorities make us of. (There are genuine Cossacks in Russia, but there are also a large number of marginals who enjoy putting on uniforms and being used as bully boys in the name of patriotism and for good pay. Those involved yesterday and who are supposed to be involved this summer are almost certainly the latter.) This link between the FSB and hence the Kremlin and those who beat protesters and may do the same to fans from abroad they don’t approve of has been uncovered by a Russia news agency (thebell.io/napavshie-na-mitinguyushhih-v-moskve-kazaki-okazalis-svyazany-s-meriej-moskvy/). This involvement no doubt will serve as evidence in support of complaints by Russian human rights activists about what happened yesterday (mbk.media/news/15-chelovek-pozhalovalis-pravozashhitnikam/). Maksim Shevchenko will likely use it to convene the Presidential Human Rights Council on this issue (newsru.com/russia/06may2018/spch.html).
Bashkir Activists Say Police Idle As Gay-Bashing Campaign Gains Steam
Announcements have appeared online in the Bashkortstan capital proclaiming a “homophobic game” named after the popular horror movie Saw, and LGBT activists cite “dozens” of cases of violence, intim…
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Follow the Money – Kleptocratic Values Now Inform Moscow’s Approach to Religion
Paul Goble Staunton, May 11 – As a result of the outstanding scholarship by the late Karen Dawisha, most analysts in the West and many in Russia analyze Kremlin politics in terms of kleptocratic values, the desire of those around the center of power in Russia to enrich themselves even at enormous costs to the population. But that key insight has not always been extended to other parts of Russian officialdom and policy even though there is mounting evidence that the kleptocratic values are trickling down to inform other centers of power and other issues. Three new pieces of evidence show that is happening in the religious sector. In the first, it is becoming ever clearer that the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church is worried about autocephaly for the Orthodox in Ukraine not just because it would reduce Moscow’s standing in the Eastern church by taking away half of its parishes but also because it would cost the Russian hierarchy money. Given that parishes and bishoprics within the Russian Orthodox Church pass upwards a significant portion of contributions and earnings, the exit of Orthodox groups out from under the Moscow Patriarchate would leave that church structure not only politically less significant but significantly poorer as well (portal-credo.ru/site/?act=monitor&id=26814). That the Moscow Patriarchate is thinking more about income than many think is reflected in the second piece of evidence about the spread of kleptocratic values in this sector: the Patriarchate is now dividing up existing bishoprics because each one must pay a fixed sum to the center of the church (portal-credo.ru/site/?act=comment&id=2221). In the past, Patriarch Kirill pushed for an expansion in the number of bishoprics largely so he could appoint new bishops and ensure majorities for himself and his position in church councils; but today he is unquestionably in charge and so appears to be doing this strictly for financial reasons, Portal-Credo experts say. Indeed, they suggest, Kirill would probably find it easier to govern the church if there were fewer bishoprics than more; but if he moved in that direction, he would be costing himself and his hierarchy money, something he is very reluctant to do. And in the third case, the Polish issue of Newsweek reports that a major reason the Russian government chose to go after the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that it expected to be able to seize the assets of that group (newsweek.pl/swiat/spoleczenstwo/swiadkowie-jehowy-to-ekstremisci-kreml-zakazal-im-dzialalnosci,artykuly,426805,1.html).
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Now Targeting All Non-Russian Orthodox Christian Churches, Lunkin Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 5 – Many in the West naively believe that Vladimir Putin is a defender of Christian traditions against Islam and therefore are inclined to believe that he deserves their support despite what he may be doing as far as other things are concerned. But in fact, the he is defending only the Russian Orthodox Church and attacking all other Christian denominations. That is the conclusion Roman Lunkin draws on the basis of a close reading of official actions against religious groups and especially “large and small Christian churches in Russia” except for the Orthodoxy of the Moscow Patriarchate over the last year (sclj.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=487&ELEMENT_ID=7826). If earlier it appeared that official actions against religious groups bore a largely arbitrary and spontaneous character, the specialist on religion and law in Russia says, in the period since the adoption of the Yarovaya law, one is now justified in speaking “about the conscious choice of Christians as targets for judicial action.” Officials in the magistracy and police do not know the fine points of religious issues, Lunkin says, “but they know very well that having uncovered a community of non-Orthodox Christians, they must fine it.” And in proceeding against such groups, “they do not devote any attention to formalities.” Indeed, they now openly ignore Russian constitutional norms. “An analysis of a data base of court decisions carried out by Sergey Chugunov, a lawyer of the Slavic Legal Center speaks about the catastrophic situation with regard to the observation of the constitutional principles of freedom of consciousness.” And “non-Orthodox Christian confessions” have been hit especially hard. Among these, Lunkin continues, are the Baptists, Evangelical Christians, Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists. Also hit with various judicial actions at the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Krishna Consciousness groups, and Muslims. In 2016-2017, he reports, 312 institutions were fined more than four million rubles (66,000 US dollars). Particularly hard hit by such official repression, he says, are smaller groups in small cities or rural areas that find it more difficult to attract attention to their causes or the resources necessary to fight these official actions in court. For such groups, a fine of 30,000 rubles (500 US dollars) is “an enormous sum.” Many congregations simply can’t raise that kind of money. They thus are forced to close up shop and go into private homes or the street where they will be fined for other violations of the anti-missionary provisions of the Yarovaya law.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Plans to Expand, Not Reform, Penal System Over Next Eight Years
Paul Goble Staunton, May 7 – In an indication of Vladimir Putin’s priorities, Moscow plans to expand the Russian penal system under the guise of reforms. But in fact, rights groups say, the program will leave most of the existing problems in place and may not be large enough to reduce overcrowding given the influx of new prisoners. The Russian government had planned to spend 96.5 billion rubles (1.6 billion US dollars) on this program but facing budgetary stringencies has but it back to 55 billion rubles (900 million US dollars) by reducing the amount allocated to feed prisoners and not reducing the number of prisoners per cell (polit.ru/article/2018/05/06/jails/ and kommersant.ru/doc/3604921). The program anticipates the construction of 11 new holding facilities, including one in Moscow, 14 new prisons and the reconstruction of four more, and also the construction and reconstruction of 119 preliminary investigation isolators (publication.pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001201804130011?index=0&rangeSize=1). Asmik Novikova, the head of the Public Verdict research program, tells Polit.ru that the amount that the government is proposing to spend will not be sufficient to solve even the most immediate and serious problems of the Russian penal system. Moreover, the program will do little or nothing to reform the operations of that system. As a result, she insists, “one must not call [this proposed government effort] a reform.” Worse, it will not even keep up with the regime’s own projections as to increases in the number of those passing through the criminal justice system or provide the kind of employment to them that might allow for rehabilitation. Novikova says that despite all the hullaballoo about this project, it will not bring the Russian penal system into conformity with international standards as insisted upon by the European Human Rights Court. Consequently, there will be more tensions between Moscow and Strasbourg as more Russian cases go forward. And the prisoners’ rights researcher says that the failure of the government to improve the penal system means that an increasing share of the increasing number of people who will pass through it are likely to be recidivists, thus creating even more problems for the Russian authorities and the Russian people.
‘Our Children Aren’t Lab Rats’: Russian Transplant Patients Warn Of Dangers Of Generic Drugs
Russian patients and doctors warn that the low quality of domestic generics could lead to disaster, if Russian lawmakers pass a bill to ban most pharmaceuticals from the United States and its allies.
Navalny Supporters Detained Amid Protests Against Putin
Hundreds of supporters of opposition leader Aleksei Navaly have been detained by police so far at rallies across Russia, two days before Vladimir Putin is due to be sworn in again as president.
Opposition supporters held ahead of anti-Putin rally
Several supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have been detained across the country ahead of a rally to protest Vladimir Putin’s swearing-in for a fourth Kremlin term, monitors said on Friday. Navalny, who was barred from challenging Putin in the March presidential election, has
Moscow Court Rejects House Arrest For Ailing Theater Director
A court in Moscow has rejected a request by investigators to transfer to house arrest a former director of Moscow’s embattled Gogol Center theater, who is charged with embezzlement and fraud in a c…
Crimean Activist Gets Prison For Pro-Ukraine Social Media Posts
A Crimean activist has been sentenced to two years in prison over pro-Ukrainian comments made on social media, a ruling that activists say is unprecedented.
Russia Arrests Five Alleged Islamic State Militants Said To Be Planning Attacks
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has detained five members of an alleged Islamic State cell planning attacks in several regions, and seized an array of their weapons, Russian news ag…
Sanctions on Russia Rattle Aluminum Industry, Manufacturers – WSJ
Extreme volatility in aluminum prices has jolted buyers and sellers of the metal, threatening profits of companies that make everything from jets to beer cans.
Russia’s economy is a mix of good, bad and ugly amid sanctions
Beset by tough sanctions and worldwide political isolation, a casual observer might be surprised to learn that Russia’s economy isn’t doing all that badly – even if it still has a litany of problems.
Qatar To Take Stake In Russia’s Rosneft After Deal With China Falls Through
Qatar has agreed to take a 19 percent stake in Rosneft, rescuing the Russian state oil giant after its hopes of selling a major stake to a Chinese company fell through.
Russian Soccer Federation Fined Over Racist Chants By Fans
Russia’s soccer federation has been fined 25,000 euros ($29,600) over racist chants by Russian fans during a game with France in March, world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, says.
Russian, Kazakh, Iranian Films Among Competitors At Cannes
Films by directors from Iran, Russia, and Kazakhstan will be among the productions competing for the top award when the famed Cannes Film Festival opens on May 8 in France.
Attacker Of Ekho Moskvy Reporter To Undergo Psychiatric Treatment
A court in Moscow has ordered the man accused of a stabbing an Ekho Moskvy radio journalist last year to undergo psychiatric treatment.
Navalny Hearing Over Anti-Putin ‘Not Our Tsar’ Protests Is Postponed
A Moscow court opened a hearing in a case against Aleksei Navalny over nationwide protests but swiftly rescheduled it for May 15, prompting sardonic criticism from the opposition politician.
LOOK: Russian President Vladimir Putin scores 5 goals in exhibition hockey game – CBSSports.com
Putin’s team of former NHL players rolled to a 12-7 victory vs. a collection of amateurs in Russia

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports


Window on Eurasia — New Series: Armenian Events Disprove Kremlin Propaganda that Protests Lead to Chaos and Bloodshed, Krasheninnikov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 8 – Today, Nikol Pashinyan became the new prime minister of Armenia as a result of massive but non-violent demonstrations against Serzh Sargsyan, an event that is more disturbing to the Kremlin than any of his possible policy changes, according to Fyodor Krasheninnikov. That is because, the Russian analyst says, the Putin regime has long relied on “the propaganda myth” about the supposedly inevitable “connection between street protests,” on the one hand, “and blood and war,” on the other, a connection that serves to “legitimize” the government’s use of force against them (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/161862). The imagery of “bloody chaos in the streets is the main card of the vaunted anti-Maidan” forces in Moscow, Krasheninnikov says. Russians are regularly challenged by the authorities: do you want to go back to the wild 1990s or to something like what is going on in Ukraine? Neither is an acceptable choice for Russians. “With the help of this pseudo-logic,” he continues, “street protest in Russia is criminalized and is presented by government propaganda (and by the organs of power which is much worse) not as the legal right of citizens to express their positions but as the preparation for murders, pogroms and civil war.” “And those who reject street protest … pour water on the very same mill: it is better not to try, not to provoke [the powers that be] and what would be still worse – blood, horrors, and civil war!” the analyst continues. But of course both forget that blood happens only when one side uses force – and in the Russian case, that is always the regime and not the demonstrators. What has happened in Armenia undercuts such an argument – and what happened last Saturday in Russia shows that Russia is not Armenia, that the authorities use this argument precisely in order to “legitimize the use of force by the authorities” against the demonstrators who will be invariably presented as being to blame. This is especially the case in Moscow, Krasheninnikov says. “In other cities of Russia, mass detentions of protesters remain the exception rather than the rule, but in Moscow, the authorities time after time demonstrate their unwillingness to compromise” – an indirect confirmation of their fear of those in the streets. What has happened in Armenia shows that street protests can be effective and need not be bloody at all. Those are lessons that the Kremlin will do everything it can to ensure that Russians do not learn. Particularly instructive about Russian attitudes is the hostility many of the moderate opposition in Russia have displayed toward Nikol Pashinyan from the very beginning. On the one hand, they have criticized him for authoritarianism and promoting a cult of personality. And on the other, they have been appalled by his open declaration that he wanted to lead the country. Put in crudest terms, Krasheninnikov says, these Russian opposition figures were angry that he didn’t want to become a victim but wanted to take power and use it on behalf of the people who came into the streets as a result of his talent as an organizer and that as a result he could become “’a new Putin.’” That shows how little the Russian opposition, traumatized by Kremlin propaganda understands. “It is naïve to suppose,” the Russian commentator says, that [what happened in Armenia] could have taken place without close coordination and an obvious leader of the entire movement.” And it is wrong to think that anyone who comes to power by leading the population into the streets will become another authoritarian like Putin. “Putin came to power not through meetings and leadership of the opposition but through behind the scenes negotiations within the elite.” Thus, it is “precisely those who want to negotiate and reach agreement with all whom one should fear much more than those who are capable of organizing all-national protest actions and not run after compromises with the powers that be” and who are ready to go into the streets again and again until they reach their goal. To be sure, the Russian authorities especially under Putin are quite prepared to be more bloody in their repression of street protests than was Serzh Sargsyan. But only those who are prepared to take that risk have any chance of succeeding in replacing Putin and restoring democracy in the Russian Federation.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Pashinyan Must Speak the Truth about Armenia’s Geopolitical Fate if His Revolution is to Succeed, Portnikov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 10 — Fresh from his election as Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan did exactly what his predecessors have done – he went to Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and thus demonstrated to Moscow and to his followers that “even after a popular uprising,” nothing essentially new had occurred, according to Vitaly Portnikov. It is possible, the Ukrainian commentator says, that this was not simply a gesture to Moscow that the Armenian revolution is not a threat to Russian interests but rather reflected his own deeply held convictions as well as those of his countrymen whose demonstrations brought him to power (graniru.org/opinion/portnikov/m.269833.html). In stressing the uniqueness of the Armenian events, Portnikov says, Pashinyan is following in the tradition of many in Georgia and Ukraine who continue to argue that their revolutions are unique as well. “But all uprisings always resemble one another: However they are organized, they are always a protest against injustice.” And that means, he continues, that “the most interesting things begin not during but after a successful uprising, because namely then it becomes clear whether the vector of the development of the country has changed.” In Georgia and Ukraine, that shift away from Moscow toward the West was immediately evident. There was an understanding among many but far from all in both cases that a break with Russia was needed in order to overcome problems like corruption. Over time, some Ukrainians have shifted away from that awareness and that failure helps to explain one of the ways in which present-day Ukraine is like present-day Armenia, Portnikov continues. But Armenia’s main problem, the one on which everything else hinges, is “its geopolitical fate.” As long as it remains locked in the Karabakh dispute, the Ukrainian analyst says, the Armenian state won’t be able to breathe and won’t be able to address the problems of corruption and inequality that sparked the rising in the first place. A revolution with those roots can “begin to change a country only when society is prepared to recognize the truth about itself and its problems and when the leaders of the revolution have the courage to speak this truth” to their followers. Pashinyan had a chance to do so yesterday but didn’t. And he must do so if real change is to happen. What is likely to come next? “Pashinyan will deliver flaming speeches, he’ll win the parliamentary elections, and he will solidify his role as undisputed leader of the country – or, on the contrary, in a few months, he will be viewed by his former supporters as a windbag. But what is most important: poverty and hopelessness will never leave the Armenian home.” And that in turn means something else, Portnikov continues. There will arise as a result “a natural disappointment in the uprising. Why did they go out into the street? People will ask, encouraged by Moscow and pro-Moscow propagandists; and because that is the case, the Kremlin is much calmer about the Armenian than the Georgian or Ukrainian events. It will then be able to use them to “once again convince Russians in the uselessness of all Maidans and other revolutions” and thus re-insure itself against a challenge to itself.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Armenia Entering a Period of ‘Dual Power,’ Yerevan Sociologist Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 11 – Because he came to office without the kind of political team or party most leaders have, new Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will have to rely on cadres from the ruling Republican Party whose leader, Serzh Sargsyan, he and the demonstrators ousted, Agaron Adibekyan says. As a result, the director of Sotsiometr, the Armenian sociological center, argues, the new man will find it difficult if not impossible to move in the radical new directions many of his followers expect. That means that some of them may feel disappointed or even betrayed (eurasia.expert/politicheskaya-sistema-armenii-dala-treshchinu-stranu-zhdet-dvoevlastie/). But there is a more immediate and dangerous possibility, Adibekyan suggests, and it is this: Armenia could be about to enter a period of “dual power” in which neither the new leader nor the supporters of the former regime will be able to set the agenda and the country may thus drift rather than move in either direction. That could lead to new mass demonstrations and also to a delay in holding new parliamentary elections, the sociologist says. On the one hand, the population is now mobilized and expectant. And on the other, Pashinyan and his supporters are less well-organized for a campaign than their opponents. Thus, Adibekyan says, there will be a period of “dual power.” The two sides, Pashinyan’s supporters and the backers of the former regime “will be able to find a common language and jointly solve conflict situations. [He] promises to change and develop laws so that citizens can freely express their opinion … But when I hear his speeches, they seem to me quite populist.” “A normal leader always says that he must achieve” this or that goal through the use of state power, the sociologist says; but “we still haven’t heard that” from Pashinyan. It may be that he will shift from populism to governing but as he does so, he will lose some of the support that put him in office. Armenians went into the streets for many reasons. Officially, unemployment is 20 percent, but “according to unofficial sources, much more.” Half of the population lives in poverty; and three out of every four graduates believe they will only have a future if they leave the country and settle abroad, Adibekyan continues. They had hoped that the change in the constitution that made the prime minister the most important figure in the state would change things, he says; but that didn’t appear to be happening. And Armenians have become angry. As a result, Pashinyan now must try to use the parliament to change things; but he doesn’t control it. “Now at the apex of power is still the old guard which emerged under Serzh Sargsyan.” These people too are angry because they have “lost power.” They are looking for a way out, but the issue of the resolution of the Karabakh conflict acts to restrict the possibilities of solving other issues. The clearest indication of what Pashinyan can do within the current balance of forces, the sociologist suggests, will be his appointments of the defense minister, the police chief, the procuracy heads and judges. If he is able to make big changes in personnel, he will also make big changes in policy. But right now, that prospect is a distant one.
What explains Russia’s uncharacteristic indifference to the revolution in Armenia?
The April revolution in Armenia came as a huge surprise to the Russian leadership, as it did for most stakeholders in the multiple conflicts in the Caucasus. But you’d expect that Moscow would have been better informed.
Revolution sweeps Armenian opposition leader into power | Reuters
Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected Armenia’s prime minister on Tuesday, capping a peaceful revolution driven by weeks of mass protests against corruption and cronyism in the ex-Soviet republic.
The Products Of Armenia’s Uprising
The merchandise riding the wave of Armenia’s street protests.
Significant changes in government’s composition expected – Pashinyan | ARMENPRESS Armenian News Agency
 
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Tribal Confederation Identities in Kazakhstan Remain Strong and Politically Relevant, Experts Say
Paul Goble Staunton, May 8 – The continuing strength of tribal confederation identities in Kazakhstan not only limit the ability of the authorities to combat corruption but reduce the country’s prospects for development and absorption of other Turkic peoples, according to Kazakh journalist Dauren Kuat. He said that one of his friends, a Uyghur by nationality, says that somehow in Uzbekistan everyone is considered an Uzbek, in Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz, and in Azerbaijan, the same. Only in Kazakhstan do [various Turkic groups] who want to become Kazakhs” lack that opportunity because of the importance of tribal confederation, clan and family for Kazakhs (total.kz/ru/news/obshchestvo_sobitiya/komu_vigoden_traibalizm_v_kazahstane_date_2018_05_04_14_15_52). Kuat’s words have sparked a discussion in Kazakhstan, and the journal Karavan in its current issue asked two experts for their views on the importance of tribal confederation identities and the possibility that they might be overcome or alternatively intensified as Kazakhstan becomes more ethnically homogenous (caravan.kz/news/kazakhov-nelzya-perekrasit-v-amerikancev-chto-budet-esli-v-kazakhstane-ischeznet-trajjbalizm-440668/). Aydos Sarym, a political scientist, says that Kuat is “absolutely right.” In Kazakhstan, people still identify and divide on such “tribalist” lines, something that means that “many normal institutions do not work and that society is beginning to return to archaic institutions” that only make the future more problematic. “Tribalism,” he continues, “is by itself a negative phenomenon, [and] it is impossible to select a hundred qualified cadres only from one’s own zhus [tribal confederation] or extended family.” Unfortunately, Kazakh writers have avoided this issue lest they offend the sensibilities of traditions. But while tribalism is still strong, it is passing, Sarym says. It is primarily “an agrarian phenomenon; it works in quite restricted locations. In major cities, such aspects cease to work, although in Soviet times, they were even given a positive role.” That has made the transition from sovietism more difficult. “We now encounter the opposite trends,” he says. “People are ceasing to interact with one another and there are fewer social contacts in the city. But to a certain degree, tribalism is adapting to these contemporary realities. Take for example Kazakh weddings” where the large number of guests typically follow zhus lines. Daniyar Ashimbayev, a second political scientist queried by Karavan, says that “tribalism is one of the traditions which have been preserved in Kazakh society over the decades.” For many and especially the top elites, “it has great importance.” But even for the population as a whole, seeing people who are part of the same zhus is important. The important of these tribalist factors, he continues, is “one of the reasons why in Kazakhstan there aren’t direct elections of the akims. If one has 40 percent of the population, and another 60, it is clear who will win. To struggle against this is very difficult, Ashimbayev continues. At various points, the Soviet fought against tribalism; but at others, they supported it. In both cases, tribalist identities adapted and continued. Consequently, anyone who simply declares war on this kind of identity will lose out. Unlike his colleague, Ashimbayev does not think that urbanization or the rising share of Kazakhs in the population will eliminate such identities. Indeed, they may become stronger even if they change form in order to adapt. This is one of “the eternal values” for Kazakh society and it will exist “independently” of whether those in power favor it or not.
Police Detain Dozens Demanding Release Of Political Prisoners In Kazakhstan
Dozens of people have been detained by police at rallies in Kazakhstan calling for the release of political prisoners in the Central Asian state.
Kazakh Tycoon Ertaev Reportedly Detained In Moscow
Media reports in Russia and Kazakhstan say that police in Moscow have detained Kazakh tycoon Zhomart Ertaev, who is wanted in his home country and recently said he has been living in Russia.
Kazakh Tycoon Detained In Moscow On Suspicion Of Fraud
Kazakh tycoon Zhomart Ertaev has been detained in Russia on suspicion of massive financial fraud, the Kazakh Interior Ministry has confirmed.
Armchair Architect Faces Seven Years In Prison For Dissing Soviet Building
A Kyrgyz man could spend years in prison for what he regards as criticizing Soviet-era architecture in his hometown of Bishkek.

Belarus Reports


Belarusian ‘Mothers 328’ On Hunger Strike Over Drug Sentences
At least 14 women in cities and towns across Belarus have been on a hunger strike for days, demanding the release of relatives imprisoned on drugs-related charges and liberalization of anti-narcoti…
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Fearful of Moscow and His Own People, Lukashenka Fails to Crush Pro-Russian March in Minsk on Victory Day
Paul Goble Staunton, May 10 – Despite his heavy-handed approach to any and all demonstrations that he and his regime have not approved in advance, Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not order the dispersal of 1500 Belarusians who marched through the center of Minsk with pro-Moscow banners and shouting pro-Moscow slogans. Instead, the Belarusian leader let it go forward, an indication that he is afraid to offend Moscow and that he has lost control over the mass consciousness of Belarusians” to what is in fact “a pro-Russian ‘fifth column’ on the streets of Minsk,” according to Valery Karbalevich of Radio Liberty’s Belarusian Service (svaboda.org/a/29217727.html). The marchers, the journalist says, were “well organized,” had lots of prepared things like George ribbons, pictures of Lenin and Stalin, and the like. “Young people wore t-shirts with lettering declaring ‘Army of Russia,’ ‘Donets Peoples Republic,’ ‘Polite People,’ and the Russian court of arms.” All of those taking part clearly understood that what they were doing was designed to put the Lukashenka regime in a difficult position, Kabalevich says, especially since among those marching were people closely tied to his own government but clearly in this case at least completely at odds with it. Russian media hyped the event, but “the paradox is that the absolute majority of poeoople who marched with portraits were certain that they were taking part in an action of ‘the Immortal Regiment’ because they live in a Russian information space and look at the mirror through the distorted mirror of the federal channels of the Russian Federation.” They thus felt themselves unconsciously to be “part of ‘the Russian world’ and this is the most dangerous thing of all.” The Belarusian authorities initially banned the march but then a day before it was to occur put out the word that no action would be taken against it, Karbalevich says. The only restriction they imposed was to require people pass through metal detectors. Given that Lukashenka has publicly stated that he will put down any demonstration he hasn’t approved of it advance, one is compelled to ask “why?” Many of the answers to this question are disturbing. First of all, Lukashenka didn’t want to spoil the holiday; second, he and his regime probably didn’t expect that the march would be so openly pro-Russian; and third, there were some of his own political allies present. But it is the fourth reason that is the most important, the Radio Liberty correspondent says. It is one thing to crush Belarusian nationalists; it is quite another to take action against a pro-Russian group, something that would inevitably create “a definite scandal in relations with Russia.” But it would also create problems for Lukashenka with his own people “who also see the world through the prism of Russian television, consider that ‘Crimea is ours’ and that Russia is the chief support of good in the world, and support the idea of imperial revanchism.” Some outlets even suggest that “Putin in Belarus is much more respected and popular than Lukashenka,” even among Lukashenka’s own voters. But however that may be, “the pro-Russian demarche of May 9 represents a serious challenge for Lukashenka’s regime” because “as long as the authorities don’t control Belarusian mass consciousness,” there is a problem. Up to now, many had dismissed the existence of such a pro-Russian group within Belarus as “only a fact of sociology.” But this demonstration “showed that the problem has become a political phenomenon and is being transformed into political action. We clearly saw in the center of the capital a pro-Russian ‘fifth column.’” And now “something must be done about it.”

Transnistria / Moldova Reports


UAWire – Moldova condemns participation of Russian troops in Victory Day parade in Transnistria
The Moldovan Foreign Ministry has condemned the participation of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRN) in a military parade in …

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Russia decided to postpone delivery of S-300 air defence system to Syria – Defence Blog
The negotiations about S-300 air defence system deliveries to Syria are put on hold, Russian newspaper “Izvestiya” reported on 11 May referring to an Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin. “At the moment there are no has been no talk of deliveries of modern new military systems (air defense – Izvestia),” Vladimir Kozhin told Izvestia, answering the question about the transfer of the S-300 system to Syria. The Syrian armed forces have everything they need, ” also noted Vladimir Kozhin.
In Damascus, a Mix of Resignation and Defiance as Israel Strikes – WSJ
Ordinary Syrians in the capital went on with their daily lives as Israel this week launched a large-scale retaliatory attack against what it called Iranian military assets in Syria.
Iran vs. Israel: Is a Major War Coming? – The Atlantic
The recent escalation of fighting is more likely to result in a stalemate than a cataclysm.
Popularity of Israel’s Netanyahu rises as Iran tension flares | Reuters
Israel’s tough stance on Iran has boosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity at home, and he can expect more good press in the coming days when the United States opens its embassy in Jerusalem.
Report: Russia warned Iran ahead of Israel’s extensive strikes in Syria – Israel News – Haaretz.com
Russia’s deputy foreign minister visited Iran and updated counterpart after Netanyahu met Putin in Moscow, London-based Asharq al-Aswat reports. Israel earlier told Russia in advance of its plans.
Iraqi air force targets ISIS in Syria – CNN
The Iraqi air force has carried out airstrikes against “a position for ISIS commanders” south of Dashisha inside Syrian territory, according a government statement.
After failed independence bid, disillusioned Kurds to vote in Iraqi poll | Reuters
Six months ago, Iraq’s Kurds believed they’d never have to participate in a national election again, having just voted for their century-old dream of an independent state.
Five Top ISIS Officials Captured in U.S.-Iraqi Sting – The New York Times
After an aide to the Islamic State’s leader was captured in Turkey, the C.I.A. and Iraqi intelligence used him to lure other operatives, Iraqi officials say.
Will Iraq ‘Lean West’ or ‘Lean Iran’? – WSJ
After Saturday’s votes are counted, the U.S. must remain engaged as the parties form a government.
Saudi Arabia Makes Historic Agreement with Vatican, Major Changes for Christianity Underway

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


In Pyongyang, Pompeo Expresses Hope About Working With North Korea – WSJ
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Pyongyang, told a senior North Korean official that he hoped to work together to resolve the nuclear standoff, calling his host a “great partner” in laying the foundation for the first summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.
What’s Kim Jong-un’s Last Name? Mike Pompeo Is Learning the Hard Way – The New York Times
The U.S. secretary of state referred to the North Korean leader as “Chairman Un,” suggesting a lack of experience with Korean names.
Moon, Trump to discuss talks with North-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily
President Moon Jae-in will meet U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on May 22 to discuss the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit, the Blue House said on Saturday. The date and location of the high-stakes meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Trump have yet to be announced. Moon is expected to share the detailed outcome of his summit with Kim last month and convey the North Korean leader’s intentions to Trump. The presidential office said in a statement that the two leaders would “have an in-depth discussion over ways to make sure the North-U.S. summit will be successful on the back of achievements forged in the April 27 summit.”
Trump: Kim summit will not take place at Demilitarized Zone | TheHill
Trump says date and place for summit will be announced this week.
Trump and Kim Jong Un Can’t Agree on Who’s Responsible for North Korea Peace Talks
North Korean officials slammed claims that Trump was the reason the country was coming to the negotiating table.
History in the making as Trump welcomes prisoners home – CNNPolitics
Just maybe, the extraordinary scene that unfolded in the dead of night on an airfield outside Washington early Thursday is the start of something truly historic.
Trump announces North Korea’s apparent release of three U.S. hostages
President Trump announced the apparent release on Wednesday of three American captives being held in North Korea, a signal of outreach from the rogue government ahead of a planned summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Trump greets American detainees freed by North Korea | TheHill
President Trump greeted three American prisoners freed by North Korea Thursday morning, marking a significant diplomatic milestone between the longtime adversaries.
Trump thanks Kim Jong-un for clearing the last hurdle before summit | World | The Times
The final hurdle to a historic summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un was cleared yesterday when three American detainees were released by North Korea.Kim Dong-chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim raised their arms in triumph early on Thursday morning as they stepped from a US government jet to f
Making the Most of North Korea’s Mixed Motives – Defense One
To work toward peace, the White House will need to lead a tightly coordinated balancing act to deter Kim Jong-un’s worst intentions while leveraging …
Kim Jong Un holds second meeting with Xi Jinping in China – CNN
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has paid a second visit to China in two months, meeting with Xi Jinping ahead of highly anticipated talks between Kim and Donald Trump.
Opinion | What Is Kim Jong-un’s Game? – The New York Times
North Korea is making overtures to South Korea to get closer to America and keep China in check.
North Korea Summits: Skepticism Warranted | National Review
Kim Jong-un’s concessions are reason for cautious hope, but the West has been down this fruitless path before.
Trump’s promised winnings in Korea are on the horizon | TheHill
It is appropriate to recall the words of Lord Salisbury, “The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.”
Trump: North Korea summit plans set; drawdown not on table – The Washington Post
President Donald Trump offered his latest teaser Friday for a historic U.S. summit with North Korea: The time and place have been set but he’s not saying when and where.
Trump gambles with North Korea as Iran deal exit becomes increasingly likely
The Oval Office is treading a tightrope with two nuclear negotiations on the line
U.S. Troops in South Korea Emerge as Potential Bargaining Chip – WSJ
Voices in Washington and Seoul have given a burst of energy to an idea long considered taboo: If a peace deal can be struck with Pyongyang, would there be any need for U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula?
Trump is winning and heads are spinning as North Korea talks get off to a running start | Business Insider
President Donald Trump has emerged from a year on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea with a prospective peace deal. China and Japan appear to be struggling to keep up with the progress and promises being made in the Koreas. But North Korea’s progress has been all talk up to now, and nobody can honestly say whether they’re sincere. Having announced an end to testing nuclear devices and ballistic missiles, North Korea can now pursue a different kind of relationship with the outside world. If it happens on Trump’s watch, it will likely count as a big win.
Trump’s approval rating on North Korea rises – CBS News poll – CBS News
Fewer Americans feel uneasy about the possibility of conflict
North Korea calls U.S. claims about upcoming summit “misleading” – CBS News
North Korea criticizes what it called &quot;misleading&quot; claims that Trump's policy of maximum political pressure, sanctions are what drove it to negotiating table
Kim Jong-un Returns to China for Another Meeting With Xi Jinping – The New York Times
The meeting between the North Korean and Chinese leaders came as China tries to regain a central role in the fast-moving diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula.
Panmunjom Spring | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea
By: John Delury May 1, 2018 Commentary, Foreign Affairs The best diplomacy fuses symbolism and substance, takes risks in order to build confidence, advances interests while listening to the other side, invites in the public but gives leaders the space needed for authentic dialogue. The recent summit held between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un appears to have done all these essential things. The resulting Panmunjom Declaration to which they affixed their signatures sets up a widely-anticipated summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump, while consolidating the foundation for building the three pillars of denuclearization, peace and inter-Korean reconciliation. The road ahead will be rocky, and nothing is assured. But the Kim-Moon summit put diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula off to a very good start.
Trump offers support to Otto Warmbier’s family ahead of North Korea summit | TheHill
‘A masterful victory’ for Kim Jong-un: North Koreans in Japan give verdict on peace talks | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post
Koreans abroad “excited and optimistic” following North-South summit, with some crediting Pyongyang’s skilful diplomatic manoeuvring for the breakthrough
All eyes now on Punggye-ri site-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily
’10 times larger than Hiroshima’: How North Korea’s huge nuclear blast caused a mountain to collapse | Fox News
Using sophisticated technology, scientists have compiled detailed radar data to show the devastating impact of North Korea’s largest underground nuclear test.
Damage to North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site Worse Than Previously Thought – WSJ
A new study found that damage to the nuclear test site that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised to shut down is more extensive than earlier assessments showed.
1,000,000 People Would Become Casualties if North Korea Nuked Washington D.C. | The National Interest Blog
That would be World War III. 


A free trader to world, China’s Xi champions Marx at home – The Washington Post
To the world, China’s President Xi Jinping presents himself as a champion of free markets. At home, he’s leading a campaign to promote the works of communist philosopher Karl Marx, who 150 years ago famously warned of the dangers of global capitalism.
U.S. condemns China for ‘Orwellian nonsense’ over airline websites
By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Saturday sharply criticized China’s efforts to force foreign airlines to change how they refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, labeling China’s latest effort to police language describing the politically sensitive territories as &
China’s ‘New’ Map Aims to Extend South China Sea Claims | The National Interest Blog
An academic “discovery” is likely Beijing’s latest attempt to legally justify its debunked territorial claims.
South China Sea missiles: White House warns China on growing militarization – CNN
The White House warned Beijing on Thursday that there will be consequences for its growing militarization in the South China Sea, following reports of missiles being deployed to three of the country’s outposts in the disputed region.
SAMs And Anti-Ship Missiles Are Now Guarding China’s Man-Made South China Sea Islands – The Drive
New deployments would present a serious threat during any potential conflict and help China further assert its de facto claims in the region.
Why China’s New Missiles in the South China Sea Should Scare the Navy and Air Force | The National Interest Blog
The deployment of the missiles is a massive provocation.
Why China’s New Missiles in the South China Sea Should Scare the Navy and Air Force
China has reportedly deployed surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles to on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands chain in the South China Sea. The Chinese land-based anti-ship cruise missile is believed to be the YJ-12B, which would allow China to strike
US Raises Concerns over China’s Missiles in South China Sea
On Wednesday, the U.S. news network CNBC reported China had installed missile systems on three man-made islands in the South China Sea. The report did not name the source but said the information came from U.S. intelligence.
How far can China’s long-range missiles reach in the South China Sea?
China’s deployment of long-range missiles to its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea could further consolidate and enhance the country’s physical control over the region.
YJ-12 – Wikipedia
China’s missiles in the South China Sea put the United States and Australia in a difficult position – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
China’s deployment of missiles to the disputed Spratly Islands shows that Beijing is serious about exerting long-term domination over the South China Sea, and has no intention of keeping its promise not to militarise the contested area.
Australia’s Foreign Minister warns China against militarising the South China Sea – YouTube
ABC News (Australia) Published on May 4, 2018 Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned Beijing against militarising the South China Sea following reports that China has installed missile systems in the Spratley Islands for the first time.
Lasers and Missiles Heighten U.S.-China Military Tensions – The New York Times
Washington accused China of harassing U.S. pilots in Africa and warned about missiles deployed in the South China Sea.
China ‘deploys missiles’ in South China Sea, US, Australia warn of consequences | ABC Radio Australia
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warns Beijing against militarising the South China Sea following reports that China has installed missile systems in the hotly disputed Spratly Islands for the first time.
China military again lands plane on PH reef | Inquirer Global Nation
Hillary Clinton: Need to take reports of Chinese meddling seriously – CNN
China’s attempts to influence national affairs in Australia and New Zealand have to be taken seriously, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned.
Sun Zhengcai, Once A Rising Star In China, Gets Life Sentence On Bribery Charges : The Two-Way : NPR
The former Communist Party chief in Chongqing was the youngest member of the Politburo and being groomed for the Chinese leadership’s inner sanctum when he was arrested in July.
In China’s cities, young people with rural ties are angry – The bitter generation
WANG FENG is a 28-year-old cook in Beijing. But he was not born in the capital so, under China’s household-registration (hukou) rules, he is not treated as an official resident, even though he and his wife work there and have a four-year-old daughter.
Japan Looking For Electronic-Intelligence Aircraft | Defense content from Aviation Week
Japan has issued two requests for information for intelligence and electronic warfare aircraft, one for the navy and one probably for the air force. Extensive involvement by domestic manufacturers is explicitly required for one of the requirements and is likely for the other. The Mitsubishi Aircraft MRJ regional jet is an obvious candidate for both missions. The naval mission is intelligence gathering. The defense ministry’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) says it is interested in a replacement for the EP-3 and OP-3, both versions of the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion, which Japan also uses in its original role as a maritime patrol aircraft. Japan is replacing the P-3 with the Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) P-1, which could be a candidate for the requirement. On the other hand, electronic-intelligence equipment, now compact and requiring few operators, can fit into large and powerful business jets. Cheaper to buy and operate than long-endurance military aircraft, while also offering higher performance, business jets are increasingly used for such missions.
Submarine scandal reminds us that a contracted workforce has its flaws
The problem of staff misconduct goes well beyond the Defence Department.

Foreign Policy Reports


Atlantic Council: Russia Isn’t Just Interfering in Elections Around the World. It’s Doing Something Far Worse – Russia isn’t just interfering in elections around the world. It’s doing something far worse – 112.international
Author : Maxim Eristavi With the Kremlin actively tapping into the previously confidential EU system of shared personal data, not only fleeing Russian dissidents but any EU citizen can be exposed to opportunistic authoritarian regimes. Russian President Vladimir Putin will stop at nothing in his hunt for dissidents abroad. In his determination, he has found some powerful allies within Western democracies—a practice that should alarm those who prize justice and the rule of law. In recent weeks, I’ve been collecting stories of Russian dissidents who say they fell victim to exchanges of confidential information between European officials and Russian authorities. The leak of one Cyprus prosecutor’s emails in November has exposed a growing trend: in its hunt to track critics, the Kremlin is recruiting allies within Western states’ law enforcement agencies. The communication leak on the part of Cyprus’ deputy attorney general exposes a much wider exchange of confidential EU information, some of it classified, with Russian authorities. Take the detention of Nikita Kulachenkov, a prominent young Russian dissident, by Cyprus authorities in 2016 which made worldwide headlines. But what we didn’t know back then is the disturbing chain of email exchanges between Cyprus and Russian officials that led to his persecution and was exposed in November.
Poland opens case on financing Nord Stream 2 – 112.international
The Polish antimonopoly regulator UOKiK initiated a case against Gazprom and five foreign companies (Engie, Uniper OMV, Shell, Wintershall) responsible for financing the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, reports RMF24. According to the website of the department, in 2016 Polish officials analyzed the petition for the creation of a joint venture for the construction of the Nord Stream-2 by these six companies and decided that this would lead to a restriction of competition. UOKiK suspects that, despite the ban on the part of Poland, the companies are jointly implementing the project, financing the Nord Stream-2. The antimonopoly regulator may fine Gazprom, Engie, Uniper OMV, Shell, Wintershall – each for an amount equal to 10% of the annual revenue, or to demand the sale of a part of the assets of a joint venture, the sale of a controlling stake, or the dissolution of a joint venture. UOKiK concluded that Gazprom already dominates the Polish gas market, and the new project can further strengthen its negotiating position with Polish customers. As reported, in Germany, the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline began. Not all the countries agreed to the construction, Ukraine and Poland are protesting against Nord Stream 2, fearing further strengthening of Russia’s position as a gas monopoly in Europe. It is assumed that the pipeline will be laid across the Baltic Sea
Karl Marx At 200: Controversy Over Revolutionary Philosopher Never Grows Old
The political theorist and philosopher’s legacy remains controversial as the 200th anniversary of his birth is marked in his German hometown on May 5.
UAWire – Poroshenko and Tusk agreed to hold EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels in summer
During his visit to Germany for the Charlemagne Prize award ceremony, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with President of the European …
German seat on UN Security Council likely as Israel withdraws bid | News | DW | 04.05.2018
Competition for two seats on the UN Security Council has eased after Israel withdrew its bid to join the 15-member body. The move means Germany and Belgium will run unopposed for a pair of nonpermanent positions.
U.S Sanctions Venezuelans, Including Ex-Intelligence Official – Bloomberg
The Treasury Department announced new sanctions on three Venezuelans as the U.S. ratchets up pressure on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
UAWire – Slovakia pays Russia 30 million euro per year for maintenance of MiG-29 fighters
The Ministry of Defense of Slovakia pays Russia 20 million euro annually plus another 10 million for other service work according to the …
Palm oil ban could scupper deal on British fighter jets, warns MoD | News | The Times
Defence officials warned the government that backing a European ban on palm oil could jeopardise a deal to sell British-built fighter jets to Malaysia, documents have revealed.The ban is intended to protect the habitats of orangutans and other endangered species.Documents revealed under freedom of i
This American Is A General For A Foreign Army Accused Of War Crimes In Yemen
“We would call him ‘Little Napoleon.’”
US asks Organization of American States to suspend Venezuela
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence on Monday asked the countries of the Western Hemisphere to suspend Venezuela from the 35-nation Organization of American States.
U.S. imposes fresh sanctions on Venezuela, Pence calls for more action | Reuters
The United States on Monday announced sanctions on three Venezuelans and 20 companies with ties to socialist President Nicolas Maduro for narcotics trafficking, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence calling for more nations to increase pressure on Caracas.
Poroshenko warns Macron, Merkel about geostrategic danger of Nord Stream 2 – 10.05.2018 17:20 — Ukrinform News
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has highlighted the geostrategic danger of Russia's construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline at the meeting with the leaders of Germany and France Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.
Eurovision Finals To Include Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, With Russia Voted Out
The Eurovision Song Contest has completed its lineup of 26 contestants who will face off for this year’s crown, following a second semifinal event.

Strategy / History / Capability Publications


The Aviationist » U.S. Marines Request Contractors To Provide Russian-Built Mi-24 Hind Attack Helicopters
By Tom Demerly Russian Mi-24 Attack or Mi-17 Transport Helicopters Could Augment Training Authenticity. A report in the Marine Corps Times from Friday, April 27 by journalist Kyle Rempfer revealed that the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force Training Command has filed a solicitation for contractors to provide Russian-built Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter or an Mi-17 Hip transport helicopter to serve as accurate opposing forces threat simulation aircraft. The aircraft would be equipped with electronic tracking pods for integration into simulated combat exercises at the MCAS Yuma Range and Training Area (RTA), a large training facility in the Arizona desert. The Yuma Range and Training Area accurately replicates current and potential threat environments throughout the Middle East and North Africa. According to Rempfer’s report for the Marine Corps Times, the solicitation read in part, “The [Mi-24] attack helicopter, due to its size, flight profile, firepower and defensive maneuvering capabilities, constitutes a unique threat creating a realistic, dissimilar and credible opposing force.” In their potential role as a technically realistic opposing force flying against U.S. Marine ground forces in training the helicopters would accurately replicate the threat capabilities of many potential adversary forces. While the Mi-24 attack helicopter is primarily an air-to-ground attack helicopter the report also mentioned a potential role for any Russian helicopters acquired or contracted as providing a simulated opposing force capability against U.S. Marine Helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft to possibly include the UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Super Cobra and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor.
DIUx wants drones that are out for blood
Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the Pentagon’s stand-up Silicon Valley-focused acquisition house, is looking for a drone that can carry a modest cargo of blood, through the dark of night toward where it’s most needed. Call it “Dronesferatu.”
DARPA multidomain program to focus on ‘kill webs’
If the U.S. is serious about bringing a greater capability to bear on the adversary, how can the military plan and manage across domains?
The U.S. Army is Looking for Its First New Submachine Gun Since WWII
The last time the Army adopted a submachine gun was during World War II.
BAE Developing GPS-Denied Seeker For Precision Munitions | Defense content from Aviation Week
Boeing Aims To Fix KC-46 Camera Before First Delivery | AWIN_Defense content from Aviation Week
Boeing has pledged to deliver the first KC-46 tanker to the U.S. Air Force later this year with a software upgrade to the remote camera system.
The U.S. Army Is Rushing to Field Drone-Killing Stryker Armored Vehicles
SHORAD, Stryker, Stinger, Hellfire, Sidewinder, AIM-9, drones, drone attacks
Biggest Test Yet Shows Einstein Was Wrong About ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’
Physicists recently addressed a persistent flaw in a test that defines reality.
Google just gave a stunning demo of Assistant making an actual phone call – The Verge
Onstage at I/O 2018, Google showed off a stunning, in-the-works capability of Google Assistant; it might someday make actual phone calls on your behalf.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports


Russian hackers posed as IS to threaten military wives – ABC News
Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.
How Iran’s Russia-Inspired Hackers Could Retaliate To Trump’s Nuclear Deal Retreat
Iran’s hackers are learning from the Russians and are likely to come for American infrastructure in the coming months.
‘The Americans’ Inspired a Russian Knockoff – The Atlantic
As FX’s spy drama ends, an overseas imitation imagines a CIA sleeper cell wreaking havoc in Moscow.
How Could ABC Use An RT Propagandist As A Source? – To Inform is to Influence
The utter gall of ABC to interview an RT employee, who is a professional Russian propagandist, about events in Russia, is galling.  Ten seconds of research would have uncovered that little jewel, it’s on his Facebook page. Here he is on Twitter, Mark Sleboda (@MarkSleboda1) He also writes for Sputnik.  Here he is being interviewed by the…
Ambitious Plan Would Bring Statewide Public Broadband to Michigan
“Mi-Fi” would treat the Internet like a utility, as opposed to a commodity
Russia Tried to Undermine Confidence in Voting Systems, Senators Say – The New York Times
The Senate Intelligence Committee identified around 20 states where Russian hackers surveilled election systems in 2016, but said it found no evidence that vote tallies were changed.
Senate Intel: Russia waged ‘unprecedented’ cyber campaign on U.S. voting systems | TheHill
The committee found that Russia-linked hackers were in a position to “alter or delete voter registration data” in a small number of states before the 2016 vote.


Social Media Advertisements | U.S. House of Representatives
House Democrats Release 3,500 Russia-Linked Facebook Ads | WIRED
In the most extensive look yet at the IRA troll factory’s Facebook efforts, familiar themes emerge.
Release of Thousands of Russia-Linked Facebook Ads Shows How Propaganda Sharpened – WSJ
Newly released documents show how Russian propagandists on Facebook grew increasingly sophisticated and inflammatory in their tactics over two years as they worked to sow discord in the U.S. before and after the 2016 presidential election.
Congress releases all 3,000-plus Facebook ads bought by Russians – CNET
Wow, the Russians didn’t have to spend much to influence the 2016 election.
Fans of Sean Hannity, Black Lives Matter among targets of Russian influence campaign
Democrats and Facebook just released thousands of ads created by a Kremlin-backed organization that targeted American voters.
Why Facebook Will Become the Most Trusted Spot on the Internet for Advertisers – Adweek
Facebook’s ‘suggested friends’ feature is boon to terrorists: study | Fox News
Facebook’s “suggested friends” feature is helping jihadists around the world connect with one another to forge new terror networks, according to a new study.
House Democrats Plan to Release 3,000 Russia-Linked Facebook Ads | Fortune
House Intel Democrats seek to release all Russia-linked Facebook ads that ran during the 2016 presidential election to the public.
House Democrats Plan to Release 3,000 Russian-Linked Facebook Ads – WSJ
The Democrats are preparing to soon release the ads, which Facebook identified as bought by the pro-Kremlin Internet Research Agency, according to people familiar with the matter.
Facebook vs. Russian bots: the Kremlin is winning – To Inform is to Influence
For over 2 months in a row InformNapalm volunteers have been struggling with the wave of Facebook bans. Currently, 4 of our active members are blocked for 30 days. While these bans are the result of new Facebook blocking policy, we investigated “ban words” and discovered that there is no way for the user to address this issue properly and…

US Domestic Policy Reports


Congressman Ro Khanna, Please Retract, Revise, And/Or Rethink Your Letter – To Inform is to Influence
This issue was pasted as a link on my Facebook page by a dear friend living in Kyiv.  I read the letter from the Vaad of Ukraine and was alarmed.  The letter was sent as a response to a letter posted by Congressman Ro Khanna, (D-CA-17).   In doing some basic research in Congressman Khanna, I found…
Three U.S. senators concerned over NYT report claiming Ukraine not cooperating on Russia probe | UNIAN
Top Senate Democrats are pushing Ukrainian officials to explain allegations that they’re not cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation because they fear U.S. President Donald Trump. Earlier, top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko said that “the ball is on the U.S. side” claiming Ukraine cannot finish its investigation without information from the FBI probe.
Preview: From Cold War to Hot Peace – To Inform is to Influence
By Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and Obama administration advisor, current director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The following is an excerpt from his book, From Cold War to Hot Peace, available May 8. As Air Force One began its initial descent into Prague on a clear,…
Failure to Communicate – To Inform is to Influence
A blast from the past, which was ignored previously. </end editorial> March 2, 2008 By Daniel Gallington – If there ever was a truly objective assessment of how effectively we have waged the war on terrorism, at the top of the “failures” side of the list would be our inability to get our strategic message…
The Hill’s next Russia battle – Axios
There’s set to be another fight over sanctions on Russia.
Full McFaul Interview: Putin used the same tactics he used in Russia, ‘here in the United States’ – NBC News
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tells Chuck Todd that “a lot of champagne was drunk in Moscow” after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
About That FBI ‘Source’ – WSJ
Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?
The Insurance Policy, The “EC”, The 2016 FBI Counterintel Operation, and The Mysterious Informant Who Originated Brennan’s EC… | The Last Refuge
•On July 31st, 2016 the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign. They did not inform congress until March 2017.
•At the beginning of August (1st-3rd) 2016 FBI Agent Peter Strzok traveled to London, England for interviews with UK intelligence officials.
•On August 15th, 2016 Peter Strzok sends a text message to DOJ…
U.S. Judge Questions Special Counsel Mueller’s Authority In Manafort Case
A U.S. federal judge has challenged Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s authority to bring charges against Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, suggesting that prosecutors were on…
Judge rejects Mueller’s request for delay in Russian troll farm case – POLITICO
Russian firm linked to Putin’s chef accuses special counsel of ‘pettifoggery.’
Hillary Clinton goes after ‘reality TV’ Trump in New Zealand speech | Fox News
Hillary Clinton slammed President Trump as a “reality TV” candidate and again claimed sexism contributed to her defeat in the 2016 election while on a speaking tour in Auckland, New Zealand on Monday.
Columbus Nova: Meet The Russia-Linked Firm That Hired Trump’s Lawyer
The New York investment firm that says it hired U.S. President Donald Trump’s attorney denies that it was acting as a conduit for Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who was recently hit with U….
Russian Targeting of Election Infrastructure During the 2016 Election: Summary of Initial Findings and Recommendations – To Inform is to Influence
The unfortunate thing about this report is that it focused on cyber only and avoided linking these actions with any other Russian Information Warfare (IW) activity. Russian IW, however, is a whole of government program, with all parts of the Russian government participating and contributing as best they could and can – it continues to…
Trump reportedly shocked European allies by inviting Putin to the White House | Business Insider
A report from the New Yorker says President Donald Trump shocked European allies with an invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House. The invitation, which came just after Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats in response to poisoning of an ex-Russian spy, muddied the Trump administration’s image on US-Russia relations.
Donald Trump’s Pursuit of an Oval Office Meeting with Vladimir Putin | The New Yorker
Susan Glasser on the response in Washington, D.C., to Donald Trump extending an invitation to the White House for Vladimir Putin despite Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation.

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (30)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s