Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Russia’s barrage of toxic nonsense continues. Some well-founded concerns about whether Russia will deal with the post-FIFA WC popularity drop of the regime, exacerbated by coming bad news, by launching another “Krymnash” invasion of a neighboring nation. The Vozhd’s botox and plastic surgery analyzed – fakery seems to have overwhelmed this society, where everything is acquiring a fake quality – a Potemkin President? Most interesting observations by Politkovsky and Oreshkin on the dissolution of the remaining artifacts of statehood in Russia, as it devolves back to the structures and behaviors of the Golden Horde.
An update on Amesbury / Salisbury developments – police continue the search for contaminated items. Apt observations by Rogan and de Bretton-Gordon.
OPCW finds Syrians used CW in Douma. Much more bluster, bluff, and bullying by Iran. Turkey’s descent into the abyss continues ….
An incident which so tarnished Russia’s international image has now become the subject of renewed discussion during a successful World Cup. The dismay is evident.
UK Home Minister has stressed it was “unacceptable” for British towns to be “dumping grounds for poison” but an Amesbury dumpster might have been where two Brits became exposed to a nerve agent.
RT Published on Jul 6, 2018 The British Home Secretary is calling on Russia to come clean about the latest case of alleged Novichok use in the south of England. Meanwhile, the UK public have been left worried after a couple ended up in critical condition, with signs of what police described as nerve agent exposure. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9965
Russia’s embassy to London has commented on the article in The Times, which claims that «Britain’s spy agencies are braced for Russia to launch a new attack on the UK»
RUSSIA is set to blame Britain for the Amesbury nerve agent poisoning, claiming the UK carried out the attack to stir up anti-Russian sentiment during the World Cup.
A friend sent me a link to a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin, stating, “It sure looks like he’s had botox injections and/or plastic surgery.” “He’s had hair plugs too. His hairline has changed.” Putin represents a strong leader, he’s the face of Russia and probably doesn’t want to look like the old Soviet…
US Senators visited Russia this past week and received praise from Russia and Russians. What a bonehead move, in other words stupid, stupid, stupid. In what alternate reality could this possibly be called sensible? This is the article pushed by Igor Panarin, from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Why did the deputies clap [for] the American…
Paul Goble Staunton, July 6 – The Kremlin sought to reduce the amount of bad news in state media during Putin’s presidential campaign, and it has been doing the same thing during the World Cup. The result now is likely to be the same as the result earlier: a dramatic upsurge in negative stories after the competition is over and a concomitant rise in popular anger. The Kremlin obviously failed at least in part in its effort to use the World Cup to distract Russians from the harsh social measures like raising the retirement age and increasing taxes because Russians, however rightfully proud they were about their team and the competition as such, could easily see that the regime was picking their pockets once again. That has attracted a certain among of media attention (dw.com/ru/когда-чм-2018-закончится-финансовая-нагрузка-на-россиян-вырастет/a-44529192, censoru.net/27974-rossiya-v-ogne-no-futbol-vazhnee.html and finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/putin-utverdil-sokrashchenie-raskhodov-na-pensii-i-uvelichil-finansirovanie-silovikov-1027343476). But just as the Kremlin appears to have forgotten how its earlier good news offensive ended in rubble after the March vote with horror stories about burning shopping centers and horrific crimes, so too many observers appear to have forgotten how that uptick had the effect of laying the foundations for the popular outrage about pension reforms and other regime actions. It thus is likely that as angry as Russians are today, they will soon be angrier yet because many of the most horrific stories, including the dramatic increase in the number of wildfires in Siberia and the Far East, have not been covered in the Moscow media but are likely to be once the footballers go home. The Telegram channel, Forbidden Opinion, however, has addressed this issue and suggests that when the torrent of bad news does come, it will further exacerbate political tensions in the country and that the Russian opposition must be ready to do battle with the regime and not simply hold more protests (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B3E312CEA62F). If the current opposition leaders are incapable of doing that, two scenarios are likely: Either the regime will engage in a new wave of repression to prevent the country from moving toward a radical political crisis; or new leaders will emerge who will be able to capture the anger of the population and challenge the regime.
Paul Goble Staunton, July 6 – If the Russian government does not find a way to reduce Russian anger over its cuts in social welfare programs, Rosbalt’s Aleksandr Zhelenin says, Vladimir Putin is likely to consider a creeping annexation of Belarus, assuming that he would inevitably get another “Crimea is Ours” boost in the Russian population. Belarus and Russia are already a union state de jure, the commentator says, but making it one de facto would not require the use of military force. Instead, Moscow could put more pressure on Minsk to take some visible steps pointing in the direction of unity and thus raise “a patriotic wave” in Russia (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/07/05/1715332.html). Zhelenin’s suggestion is disturbing on two grounds. On the one hand, given that Putin is unlikely to back down – he resists doing so especially when he is under public pressure to do so – and that the Russian people will feel the new cuts ever more immediately, such a non-military annexation is certainly something the Kremlin has been thinking about. Indeed, Lukashenka’s recent statements that Belarus may be “annexed” by a foreign state may reflect not just an effort to mobilize his own population but also be his response to behind the scenes pressure from Moscow. (On why the Belarusian president has been saying that, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/06/five-reasons-lukashenka-is-now-saying.html,) And on the other, Zhelenin’s argument is based on the assumption that the Russian people are ready to be bought up with a new demonstration of Russian power and will then for a time at least look the other way as the regime picks their pockets to finance Putin’s aggressive foreign policy – and in a way that might not trigger more Western sanctions. Over the last six months, Putin’s poll numbers have fallen from 60 percent to 48 percent, seemingly headed down to the “’pre-war’” ones of 2013 when only 36 percent of Russians said they favored the Russian president. The proposed pension reform is part of the reason, but a larger part is the serious decline in the standard of living for most Russians. Since 2014. If measures like the World Cup don’t help the regime as much as it expected, “it always has in reserve the instruments of foreign policy action … For example, territorial expansion. And this does not necessarily have to be via military means given that defense spending for the Russian economy is so large and heavy that Moscow has begun to cut it.” Moreover, Zhelenin continues, the Putin-Trump summit is unlikely to win that many points for the Kremlin leader. Regardless of his personal desires, Trump can’t eliminate the sanctions on his own; and he is unlikely to want to take any additional steps that will provide additional evidence to those in the US who already view him as a Russian stooge. As a result, Russians are unlikely to see the summit as a breakthrough either. Putin would thus seem in a difficult position: His population is angry about policies he won’t reverse; his ability to use the military against a neighboring country is limited by the costs of defense spending; and so it might seem he won’t be able to do something. But there are always possibilities, Zhelenin says, even if they aren’t obvious to everyone. And the most obvious of these is for Putin to force Lukashenka to agree to giving the union state of Belarus and Russia greater real content, something that would be a kind of “hybrid” expansion and annexation at least in the minds of many Russians. Such a move, of course, would take a long time to be fully realized; but even some key steps, perhaps a common presidency, army or foreign policy apparatus, would be enough to suggest that Putin is in the process of orchestrating the annexation of Belarus by the much-larger Russian Federation.
Paul Goble Staunton, July 6 – Vladimir Putin’s efforts to russify non-Russian regions have attracted a great deal of attention, but his drive to “Muscovize” not only them but other predominantly ethnic Russian ones have not, although this effort may ultimately be at least important, according to Russian commentator Oleg Kashin. In one respect, this is simply an update of what the Soviets did when many observed that Moscow Sovietized the Russians and both Sovietized and Russianized the non-Russians; but in others, it represents a fundamental change, one that reflects a far different and more imperial approach. In a commentary on the After Empire portal that originally appeared on the Inliberty.ru site, Kashin focuses his attention on the impact of this “Muscovization” on Kaliningrad, the non-contiguous portion of the Russian Federation that he calls “a Muscovite colony within Europe” (afterempire.info/2018/07/06/frontir/. Cf. inliberty.ru/article/fed-trudolubov/). As a result, the commentator says, this “Russian border region has gradually lost its distinctiveness, political, economic, cultural and intellectual;” and thus “the Soviet wild west was transformed not a Muscovite frontier which allowed for only one logic of development, [ever greater] control by the center.” For many, it appears this process began when Putin, then a young KGB operatchik, married a Kaliningrad stewardess, Lyudmila Skrebneva, after he visited the region during home leave from his service in East Germany. Her mother, recently interviewed by a local journalist, says the region’s residents were pleased at first that the Russian first lady was a Kaliningrader.” But very quickly, she adds, they were surprised by what this “how to call it correctly – relationship to Putin – brought” their region and themselves. It may seem strange to recall “but before Putin, no one much noticed [the region] neither in Soviet times nor even more in post-Soviet ones,” Kashin continues. A little piece of Germany handed over to the USSR at Potsdam and then populated by people moved in from the RSFSR and other republics of the Soviet Union. “In a large isolated country” as the USSR was, he argues, “the periphery always will be the most quiet place, especially if this periphery is in the shadow of three most privileged Soviet republics … and Poland.” Yes, it was the site of a Soviet naval base; but it ports supported only local fishing and did not connect the place to the wider world as ports normally do. As a result, Kashin says, “Kaliniingrad oblast was no more than a border region of the RSFSR’s Non-Black Earth zone.” “When the RSFSR became the Russian Federation, the borders of the oblast became state ones … traders, contrabandists and bandits” emerged out of the local population in this case because “except for them, no one was interested in the oblast just as had been the case earlier in the Soviet past.” “All bandits became local, all traders and contrabandists the same, and those few who weren’t local were Russians from Kazakhstan, the only ethno-social group,” the commentator continues, “which in the first years after 1991 people in Kaliningrad came into contact with and viewed as like themselves.” There were “not any Muscovites. Perhaps, they weren’t aware that after the departure of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Russia retained something on the Baltic.” But with the rise of Putin and his Kaliningrad wife, that changed. And gradually “one after the other, the political technologists, the businessmen … and others all became Muscovites.” In 2005, Moscow sent a Muscovite governor to Kaliningrad, and many thought that was as far as the center could go with it “Muscovite invasion.” Over the next decade, he “went native,” and Putin replaced him with someone having an almost German name which seemed to be a concession to local feelings. But he was followed by four more, only one of which was a local resident, and it became obvious that the only person a Kaliningrad governor must please is Putin. “Kaliningrad in the second half of the 20th century … was in fact isolated from the center.” It was “a Soviet wild west” which in the course of “natural evolution” ceased to be wild. But “Kaliningrad in the 21st century is a frontier taken over by Moscow,” even though it has a population with a local identity build up over four generations. Russian beer has replaced German beer, local businesses have been replaced by Muscovite ones, local radio muscled out by federal channels, and “instead of a local governor, a young Muscovite.” Now, Moscow holds conferences devoted to planning for the future of Kaliningrad without much participation on the part of Kaliningraders. The local journalist who interviewed Putin’s former mother-in-law, Kashin says, now writes articles for Muscovite outlets “unmasking the pro-German attitudes of the local intelligentsia. In fact,” however, these people are hardly pro-German, but Andrey works for the federal press and it loves it when people write about the enemies of Russia.”
Paul Goble Staunton, July 6 – Russia has never had a state in the normal sense of the term and does not have one today, Aleksey Polikovsky argues; instead, it has been and remains far more like the chiefdoms that have existed in various nomadic societies, Dmitry Oreshkin says, an arrangement that requires expansion, can’t make progress and is doomed to failure. Their articles, “A Country without a State” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/07/06/77063-strana-bez-gosudarstva) and “State and Chiefdom” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/07/06/77062-gosudarstvo-i-vozhdestvo), together form both an indictment of what Russians and others call “the Russian state” and a suggestion as to how it should be understood. Polikovsky, a commentator for Novaya gazeta, says that “the state in the understanding of a normal contemporary individual who doesn’t eat his fellow tribal members like Bokassa or kill his fellow citizens like Asad is a mechanism of creating and supporting normal life … In the state, thee is nothing holy or sacred, nothing elevated or pathetic. It is only a mechanism.” aut That which people call the state in Russia, is completely different. It seeks “the strengthening of its own power over the country. This is the only thing it is seriously occupied with. From this flow, the arrests and lies, the torture and war, and the constant frightening of society” to keep it from forming a genuine state. “All this did not begin recently,” he continues. “For hundreds of years, the state [gosudarstvo] has existed outside and over the people, not for the people but against them,” Polikovsky says. “The sadism of Ivan the Terrible and the sadism of Joseph Stalin are divided by four centuries. But in fact, the torture chambers of the two are neighbors. Malyuta Skuratov would have been a general at the Lubyanka. Yezhkov and Abakumov could have successfully served in the oprichniki.” “The sadism is the same, the insanity is the same, the power for its own sake is the same, even the tortures are one and the same,” he points out. “Four centuries passed, but the gosudarstvo didn’t change.” And this leads to the inevitable conclusion that “there is no state in Russia. Theft, deception, force, and war all are present but the state is not.” That which is called the state in Russia doesn’t have the built-in defenses against fools that states do. And “the results of this are before us.” “The gosudarstvo in Russia is archaic and inadequate. It promotes torture. It takes hostages and martyrs them in camps. It refuses to open the archives which means that the murders of the present cover for the murders of the past and in this way give a guarantee of untouchability to the torturers of the future.” What all this looks like, Polikovsky says, recalls the movie Jurassic Park in which a dinosaur breaks into modern times. So too is what many call the Russian state: it is very much a survival of the past that somehow has continued to exist in a world that has given rise to a very different kind of animal. And here is the tragedy, he concludes. “The gosudarstvo in its current state is not capable of carrying out any reforms. It can only generate hatred and launch domestic and foreign wars. Therefore, the only reform which is genuinely need is a reform of the gosudarstvo itself.” Oreshkin for his apart agrees that there is no state in Russia but suggests that Politkovsky has failed to go far enough in suggesting what occupies its place in the Russian landscape. It is a fundamental error, he agrees to equate the Russian gosudarstvo to “the European understanding of the state.” Some writers try to oppose what exists in Russia as compared to that which exists in Europe as a reflection of the difference between the Asiatic and the European. But “it is more precise to speak not about ‘the Asiatic’ but about the horde component which arose out of the nomadic organization of space.” Thus, we cannot really speak of Chingiz khan’s state “in the European sense of the word,” Oreshkin continues. Instead, it was a political organization that reflected what a 2002 Academy of Sciences collective monograph called The Nomadic Alternative of Social Evolution (inafran.ru/sites/default/files/page_file/kochevaya_alternativa.pdf). The political development of such societies, he says, is based on “chiefdoms” (vozhdestva), on the emergence of leaders who do not seek “the unification of territory for the development of agriculture, industry, cities or other things” modern people are used to but on enriching itself through constant territorial aggrandizement. Indeed, as the authors of the 2002 study suggest, political unity is needed among nomads “only in the case of wars for natural resources, the organization of stealing from settled peoples or expansion of their territory for the establishment of control over trade routes … [such power centers] are something like ‘a superstructure’ over the settled agricultural ‘basis.’” The superstructure “eats up” the basis, they continue. “The system cannot exist without expansion: it is not stationary. Having achieved a certain spatial maximum, the chiefdom is condemned to disintegration: each the greatest chief with times seizes to get the resources needed to hold the conquered space in fear and subordination.” And then, the authors say and Oreshkin concurs, the process goes into reverse, with the loss of control over lands and the decay of the chiefdom itself. A chiefdom, he argues, is different from a state in a large number of ways: It does not have fixed borders, it does not have a stable system of taxation, it does not have a stable system of settlement, it does not allow private property, it does not invest in its own people and land, and it unites all powers in a single chief. For a chiefdom, space (expansion) predominates over time (development), Oreshkin continues. It is incapable of progress and instead exists in a cycle of expansion and collapse followed by a new expansion. “The idea of evolution could arise only in a settled culture;” never in a nomadic one. The Soviet system institutionalized this chiefdom principle in a new way, what the political analyst calls “Soviet neo-vozhizm” or neo-chiefdomism. Its leaders celebrated being called leaders of this kind because that meant they were on a campaign, sometimes virtual as in the pursuit of “a bright future,” and sometimes literally in wars of conquest. Under only slightly modified names, this system has continued. “The essence of the mobilized ‘internal state’ which Lenin began to build in the form of a super-centralized militant party and which Stalin continued in the form of a still more mobilized and centralized form under the Cheka-NKVD-KGB” continues to this day. “Today we observe,” Oreshkin says, “the destruction of the last institutions of the state such as an independent electoral system, judges, urban self-administration, the media and so on” and their complete re-subordination to a chiefdom which calls itself a state. And that means, he concludes, “that when the structure collapses – and it sooner or later will do so for purely material causes … — Russia will be forced too pass through again the latest cycle of territorial contraction. The current model of political management,” he says, “leads to this slowly but surely.”
A BBC correspondent covering the World Cup in Russia has allegedly been drugged and robbed in Moscow, Russian news agencies report.
Wiltshire Police on Twitter: “Pleased to confirm that the police officer who sought precautionary medical advice at Salisbury District Hospital in connection with the incident in Amesbury has been assessed & given the all clear.… https://t.co/fIaup3iJP4”
The police officer was being tested at a hospital in Salisbury for possible exposure to Novichok.
A hospital in the British town of Salisbury says a police officer who sought medical advice over concerns that he had been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok appears to be free of the substance.
A police officer has sought medical advice in connection to an ongoing investigation of Novichok nerve agent exposure in Amesbury, England, A hospital official said Saturday.
A United Kingdom police officer has sought medical attention in relation to the recent nerve agent attack that left a British couple in critical condition.
A police officer in southern England was tested for possible exposure to the nerve agent Novichok. He was given the “all clear” a few hours later.
A hospital in the British town of Salisbury says a police officer has sought medical advice in connection with what authorities say was the exposure of two people to the same nerve agent used in th…
VOA News Published on Jul 6, 2018 British police are searching for the source of contamination that sickened a man and a woman in the area of southern England where a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in March. The two victims tested positive for a Novichok nerve agent. Novichok is a series of deadly nerve agents designed by the Soviet Union that are generally unavailable outside Russia. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports the two poisoning cases have sparked a political row between Britain and Russia. Originally published at – https://www.voanews.com/a/britain-rus…
CBS Miami Published on Jul 6, 2018 Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley are fighting for their lives after being exposed to the deadly nerve agent Novichok.
Experts say Salisbury must prepare itself for an extended period of lockdown as the city reels from the latest Novichok poisonings. Police are now scouring the area for traces of the nerve agent that left local couple Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fighting for their lives.
After Russian assassins sprayed copious quantities of the deadly nerve agent on Mr Skripal’s door, several minutes of rain diluted the substance’s potency before Sergei and daughter Yulia returned home. A senior security source told The Sun: ‘The truth is we got very lucky.’
ITV News Published on Jul 6, 2018 Police teams investigating the latest poisoning near Salisbury have revealed more details of the movements of the two victims before they fell ill. Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley remain in a critical condition as searches continue at his assisted-living home in Amesbury.
Wider cordons have been set up around a town in England, along with barriers protecting hazardous material tents, after a couple was believed to have been poisoned.
Around 100 counter terror police are working the case, which left two people fighting for their lives
Police say the operation after two people were hospitalised by a nerve agent has “unique challenges”.
While locating the Novichok weapon-mechanism will assist in identifying those responsible for the Skripal attack, it will also very likely provide unmistakable evidence of Russian state culpability.
EXCLUSIVE: Police were also slammed for ‘keeping family in the dark’ by saying that Dawn Sturgess had suffered a heart attack for several days despite being poisoned with the nerve agent in Salisbury.
How did a Salisbury couple become the fourth and fifth victims in a string of poisonings with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent?
For a city that has slowly been recovering from the horror of that attack and the sight of chemical decontamination teams on the streets, this latest outrage has been a devastating blow.
Amesbury couple Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, are fighting for their lives in a Salisbury hospital after being struck down with the nerve agent Novichok – the same drug that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with
An international situation has just become more complicated with the news that a couple are currently being treated for Novichok poisoning, the same potent
Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British officer and chemical weapons expert, claims Russia’s recent use of Novichok is ‘extremely worrying’.
The nerve agent – which poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess – is one of the deadliest chemical weapons ever produced
Daily Mail Published on Jul 5, 2018 Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her boyfriend Charles Rowley, 45, became critically ill within hours of visiting Salisbury on Saturday – the site of the murder attempt on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. The authorities are still searching for the container carrying the nerve agent, which could kill anyone who found it. A security source said: ‘It could have been picked up by anyone, including a child. There’s no doubt it will be contaminated still’. Today police evacuated, sealed and screened-off the homeless shelter where Dawn lived in Salisbury and Charlie’s home in eight miles away in Amesbury where they both collapsed. One friend of the couple, who were known to be drug users, believes they may have found a syringe believing it contained heroin rather than the deadly poison used by assassins Britain claims were sent by Russia. One friend of the couple, who were known to be drug users, believes they may have found a syringe believing it contained heroin rather than the deadly poison used by assassins Britain claims were sent by Russia. She said: ‘It was definitely an accident. I think they found a package and it looked like drugs’. Police are guarding a taped-off bin outside Dawn’s home amid claims she came into contact with Novichok from a discarded cigarette she picked up and smoked.
No one has a clue about the Wiltshire poisonings, says the Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins
Nikolai Glushkov, 68, who was found murdered at his home in southwest London, was pursued ‘to the bitter end’ by lawyers acting for the airline Aeroflot, the High Court disclosed yesterday.
Met announces move after pathologist’s report on death of Russian exile in London this week
Preliminary analysis by global chemical weapons watchdog says chlorine was found in two locations in Douma.
A preliminary report by the world’s chemical weapons watchdog said “various chlorinated chemicals” were found at the site of an attack in Douma, Syria, in April that killed dozens of civilians and prompted air strikes by Britain, France and the United States, it said on Friday.
President Hassan Rouhani demands that European countries to do more to offset US measures
Remaining signatories of nuclear deal meet in Vienna as France doubts economic package implementation before November.
Iran’s oil minister on Saturday accused U.S. Trump accused on Wednesday the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries of driving fuel prices higher.
Top diplomats from China, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the U.K. believe the nuclear deal “is in the security interest of all.”
Crude oil could surge to more than $US120 a barrel, according to Bank of America Merill Lynch analysts, if the Trump administration were to order a complete cutoff of Iranian barrels before the end of the year.
On 7 June 2018, the Dutch gov’t deported two persons of the Iranian embassy in The Hague. Confirmed today by the Dutch General Intelligence & Security Service (AIVD); no explanation for the deportation was given. https://www.volkskrant.nl/sport/twee-medewerkers-iraanse-ambassade-het-land-uitgezet~b6008b3e/ The reason is unknown, and connecting unrelated dots is dangerous, but: it may be recalled that in Nov 2017,…
Tehran says those executed were directly involved in the June 7 assault that killed at least 18 people in the city.
Iran said Saturday it executed eight people convicted in the 2017 Islamic State group attack on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran.
Syrian government forces supported by Russian military police have taken over a key border crossing with Jordan after a deal was reached between rebels and Russian mediators, Syrian state media and a war monitor say.
Turkey is using the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs or DITIB two ‘preach’ propaganda written by the Turkish government, the Directorate of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet, to the Turkish diaspora around the world. There are over 2,000 mosques worldwide in this network. These same ‘imams’ are also used to spy on supposed dissidents in those countries,…
Turkish authorities dismissed more than 18,000 state employees for alleged ties to terror groups as Recep Tayyip Erdogan is about begin a new term with vastly expanded executive powers.
Turkey issued a decree on Sunday dismissing more than 18,000 civil servants, half of which were from the police force, ahead of this month’s expected lifting of a two-year-old state of emergency imposed after an attempted coup in July 2016.
Turkey purged more than 18,000 people from government jobs for allegedly posing a security risk to the state, a day before Recep Tayyip Erdogan takes office as an executive president with vastly expanded powers.