Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Tumultuous is probably the best description for this week in the media. Most interesting reports in every single category.
NATO / EU / Russia Reports
Two US F-22 “Raptor” fighter jets intercepted two Russian TU-95 bombers on Tuesday, according to a statement released by North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Russian fighter jets were caught escorting two nuclear-capable bombers off the coast of Alaska on Tuesday — marking the second such incident this month, according to US officials. The planes were intercepted just west of the mainland by American F-22 “Raptor” fighters and positively identified by NORAD forces, officials said.
Two Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers and two Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets entered the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, NORAD said in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. military said Wednesday that two Russian nuclear-capable bombers escorted by two fighter jets flew near Alaska on Sept. 11 before being intercepted by a pair of Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets, according to a statement by the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The Czech contingent of the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania returned on the 3rd September to the base in Rukla after taking part in the Namejs exercise in Latvia alongside approximately ten thousand participants from 13 NATO countries. The exercise concluded last weekend after two action filled weeks of training in mobility, readiness and interoperability of NATO and national forces. It was the largest of its kind ever conducted in Latvia and took place in every region of the country. The Czech Mechanised Infantry Company brought together around 180 troops and 15 Pandur-II Infantry Fighting Vehicles from Rukla to Latvia to take part in various exercise scenarios. Their mission included extensive maneuvering of vehicles all over Latvia, which proved to be an excellent test of the units’ capabilities.
Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Latvian military officers will observe the course of the command post exercises of the Armed Forces of Belarus.
Norway recently decided to double the Corps’ rotational footprint in the country.
The new units include a field artillery brigade headquarters, two multiple-launch rocket system battalions, and a short-range air defense battalion.
Last week’s events concerning the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign Can’t see images?http://preview.mlsend.com/k3j5e9 Dear colleagues, we have talked to our trusted contacts in Swedish security institutions and here are the main takeaways about Russian strategy in Sweden: The Russian strategy seems to be clear. Moscow probably realized that going in with direct aggressive activities would backfire due…
On Tuesday, September 11, the Latvian government supported the purchase of four UH-60 Black Hawk medium-lift utility helicopters for 175 million …
A Russian submarine came close to Latvia’s borders on September 11, the Latvian National Armed Forces posted on Twitter. According to the tweet, …
Russia says it is staging its largest-ever war games over the next week. But some experts on Russia say Moscow may be exaggerating troop numbers to send a message to the West about Russia’s militar…
The Russian government has drafted legislation that would prohibit members of the armed forces from sharing on the internet any information about themselves, their fellow soldiers, or the military itself. The bill has already been submitted to the State Duma for consideration by federal lawmakers. The ban would apply, among other things, to photos, videos, and geolocation data.
A container vessel carrying fish and electronics is testing a route that could be a boon for Moscow.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 12 – The Washington Post reported four days ago that global warming is opening the Northern Sea Route to more shipping sooner than expected, but officials and experts in the North say that Russia won’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to support trade on that route for at least another decade. The Northern Sea Route is significantly shorter than sea lanes around southern Africa or through the Suez Canal, and potentially it is safer – there are no pirates as there are in the Indian Ocean. But until recently, the shipping season was limited by weather to July through September. Global warming has now lengthened that time to through October. But, journalist Andrey Belenky says on the basis of conversations with experts, Russia lacks the infrastructure to make the Northern Sea Route popular with shippers – and at the current rate of development, will lack that for another decade or even more (dailystorm.ru/vlast/rossii-nuzhno-eshche-desyat-let-na-razvitie-severnogo-morskogo-puti). On the northern coast of Russia, along the Northern Sea Route, there are only seven ports, the journalist continues, “and only one of them – at Dudinka where the Yenesei flows into the Kars Sea – does the amount of trade exceed a million tons a year.” The rest of the area is vacant, and building infrastructure there is very expensive. A single new electric and gas line across the region would cost more than half of what the Turkish Flow pipeline has, Belenky says. But without something like that, trade among Russian regions in the North will remain small; and international shipping will increasingly pass beyond Russia’s control, especially as ice breakers become less necessary to make the transit. Moscow has been putting money into the Murmansk port, even though technically it is not on the Northern Sea Route, but that investment “is the exception,” experts say. Most projects in the region are either “far from completion” or still at the stage of talks rather than construction, according to Igor Orlov, an aide to Arkhangelsk governor. The planned expansion of the Arkhangelsk port “also will not be completed soon.” Its first stage won’t be realized until 2023; and its second, not until 2028.” Thus, those who want to rely on it will have to wait “another ten years in the best case,” Belenky says. And the best case is unlikely. Tensions with the West have slowed or stopped many of these projects, he continues, because as Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun puts it, “no projects in the Arctic are possible without international cooperation.” And at present, that does not exist at least in the amount necessary to proceed. With regard to infrastructure, Moscow has talked more than it has done, the journalist says. During the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev, there was talk about creating a Ministry for the Arctic; but that didn’t happen. A little later, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said there would be some special state corporation to focus on this area. But it hasn’t appeared either. “The growth of the Russian economy is slowing,” Belenky says; “and the Northern Sea Route could change this. However, judging from the timetables of projects around it, the country needs a minimum of ten more years for preparation.” The ice on the Arctic Ocean will continue to melt. “Each additional year, without new infrastructure, will be a missed opportunity for profit for Russia.”
Russia / Russophone Reports
One of Vladimir Putin’s closest allies broke the Kremlin taboo on speaking Aleksei Navalny’s name – and vowed to make “mincemeat” out of him in a duel. Two alleged GRU officers went on TV…
Paul Goble Staunton, September 7 – Unlike many other post-communist countries, Andrey Illarionov says, “not a single representative of the human rights, dissident or non-communist democratic movement has ever occupied any significant post in the federal executive power in Russia.” And that in turn means that “a political revolution in Russia has not yet occurred.” Speaking to the American Political Science Association national meeting in Boston a week ago, the Russian commentator says that “the main forces which came to power in present-day Russia (since 1991) were three social groups which at the turn from the 1980s to the 1990s had obvious political advantages” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B920743EAAEC). These were “the corporation of the employees of the communist special services,” “the systemic liberals who grew out of the communist bureaucracy and communist intelligentsia,” and “organized crime, the mafia in the most direct sense of this word.” Many of those involved belonged to more than one of these groups at any particular time. The systemic liberals achieved great power and influence after the August events of 1991, but they soon lost the support of the population and came to rely ever more heavily on the siloviki “and especially the employees of the special services” to whom power passed especially after the economic crisis of 1998. Likewise, Illarionov says, “from the totalitarian era, the present-day political regime inherited, albeit in a partially changed form, three important institutions: the political police, a quasi-monopoly party of bureaucrats and a machine of ideology and propaganda,” with their relative positions shifting away from the party toward the police. “The present propaganda machine does not have a direct connection with the ideological machine which existed in the times of the totalitarian regime. It was established anew, with new people and using new resources based on new technologies.” But it has turned out to be not less and possibly even more effective than the propaganda machine of the late-totalitarian period.” “The term ‘ideology,’ he continues, “is used here not in a narrow-partisan sense but rather in a broader way as a synonym for the denominate worldview,” a worldview defined by a commitment to great power status, imperialism, and “the total lack of ideas about individual freedoms and rights, the supremacy of law, democracy, and limited and divided state power.” In the current system, functioning institutions for taking political decisions are either subordinate or completely absent, Illaironov says. As a result, decisions are taken through “special operations, the introduction of confusion, disinformation, deception, forced subordination, the use of force, and terror.” “The widespread use of these political technologies is characteristic not only for the Putin but for the Yeltsin (Gaidar-Chubais) sub-periods of the existence of the current Russian political regime,” Illarionov continues. Quantitatively, their use is more widespread under Putin; but qualitatively, it is the same. “Putin’s principle political-technological innovations are “open aggression against foreign states, the official annexation of territory, and the application of weapons of mass destruction against political opponents abroad – Litvinenko and the Skripals.” It is thus clear, Illarionov concludes, that the creation of a politically free regime in Russia is “impossible” as long as the rule of the present “triumvirate” is maintained, as long as the institutions inherited from the totalitarian past are kept in place, and as along as cadres with experience in the communist party and having “totalitarian-criminal worldviews” are present. That is because such people in such institutions will continue to use the well-tested means of the past: “deception, force, and terror that are characteristic of totalitarian regimes.”
A group of pro-Kremlin nationalist activists attacked two volunteers who were guarding a makeshift memorial on the Moscow bridge where former First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov was shot dead.
Polls show President Vladimir Putin’s former chief-of-staff will comfortably be re-elected Moscow’s mayor on Sunday, but public anger over planned increases to the nationwide pension age means many voters may stay away, tarnishing his win.
Anti-Kremlin demonstrators have taken to the streets in Russia to protest the government’s plan to raise the retirement age in rallies coinciding with regional and local elections nationwide, trigg…
Voters in regions across Russia head to the polls on September 9 for regional and local elections being held in an atmosphere of unusual public discontent sparked by a controversial government plan to raise retirement ages.
Internet giant Google has reportedly removed from its YouTube website a paid advertisement placed by supporters of Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny urging Russians to participate in a prot…
Paul Goble Staunton, September 6 – Russians are more worried about more things than they were a year ago, with public concerns now approaching levels first found in the months leading up to the 1998 default, the Levada Center says. But it is far from clear that these will lead to more protests as those with the greatest concerns are not those who led the 2011-2012 demonstrations. In its annual report of polling, the Levada Center reports that social worries among Russians have intensified across the board, with people especially concerned about inflation, impoverishment and unemployment (levada.ru/2018/09/06/trevozhashhie-problemy/ and kommersant.ru/doc/3732826). Seventy-two percent of Russians now say they are worried about inflation; 52 percent, about the impoverishment of the population; 48 percent about unemployment; 30 percent, about the economic crisis and unjust distribution of incomes; and 21 percent, about “the crisis in morality and culture.” Smaller but increased numbers of Russians say they are worried about the deterioration of the environment and the growth of crime. Russians are relatively unconcerned about terrorist acts in Chechnya and the North Caucasus (3 percent), conflicts within the elites (3 percent), HIV/AIDS (4 percent), and restrictions on civil rights (six percent). Levada Center director Lev Gudkov says that across the board, Russians are about a third more concerned than they were a year ago and that today’s levels of worry were last in evidence 20 years ago “on the eve of the 1998 default.” He says that the growth in dissatisfaction began at the end of last year, was put on hold by the elections, and then restarted with the pension fiasco. So far, however, these worries remain “unformed.” That is, “citizens feel the growth of spending on the army, bureaucrats, the war in Syria, the meaning of which people do not understand, and confrontation with the West.” On top of these worries, the Putin pension plan violated “the unspoken social contract” and has sent nervousness up. But he says that there is as yet no indication that any of these concerns will lead to an uptick in demonstrations. “For strong protests,” Gudkov continues, “one needs strong organizations. Now, the inert strata have increased,” but “these are not the groups which demonstrated in 2011-2013.” Not only are most of these people in the mid-sized cities rather than Moscow, he says; they are also upset about a different mix of concerns than those which Aleksey Navalny has used in the past to get people to go into the streets.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 6 – A new report on the environment by Russia’s natural resources ministry warns that the country faces “a climate apocalypse” because global warming, caused by the release of greenhouse gases, is hitting that country far harder than any other on the planet and is already having serious negative consequences for the economy and the population. As described by Kommersant, the report says that there has already been an increase in the number of storms, fires, droughts, and flooding in various parts of the country. These are not only leading more deaths and disease but threatening facilities like power plants, highways and railroads (kommersant.ru/doc/3732772). Independent experts with whom the paper spoke suggest that the ministry may be overstating things but not by much because it wants to position itself as the institution with the powers to respond to these challenges. But other observers and activists suggest that Moscow does not appear ready to do more than talk about these challenges. The report points out that one of the most difficult problems is that this “apocalypse” looks different in different parts of the country. In many places, things are warming up, melting the permafrost in the north and raising the sea level of the Caspian in the south; but in others, there has been cooling which requires entirely different policies. Not surprisingly, it devotes particular attention to the melting of the permafrost which, the report specifies, is leading to “the destruction of burial sites of dangerous chemical, biological and radioactive materials.” But it also focuses on the damage climate change is inflicting on transportation links, increasing accidents and isolating particular regions. Climate change is already affecting the health of the population, the report says, especially in the central and southern portions of the country, where mortality rates are going up, especially among older people, and where droughts are leading to a decline in food production and even threatening famine in the future.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 7 – Seventy-one percent of the residents of Tatarstan say the republic should be bilingual, a figure that means almost half of that federal subject’s ethnic Russians favor that outcome given that 53 percent of the population are Tatars and 39 percent are ethnic Russians. That poll result was presented by Liliya Nizamova, a sociologist at Kazan Federal University at a conference on “The Positive Experience of Studying and Regulating Ethno-Social and Ethno-Cultural Processes in Regions of the Russian Federation” (azatliq.org/a/29476689.html in Tatar and idelreal.org/a/29477115.html in Russian). She asked 1990 people “how should the language situation in Tatarstan develop?” Nineteen percent responded that Russian should be the language “in all spheres” of life, while 4.5 percent said that the language should be Tatar. But 71 percent said bilingualism should be the basis for Tatarstan’s development. Nizamova also asked over the past summer “Do you consider that pupils should have the chance to take the state educational exam in their native language?” Just over half of the sample – 52 percent – said yes, 28.4 percent said no, and 19.5 percent found it difficult to give any answer. Taken together, these numbers suggest that in Tatarstan at least, there is far less support among ethnic Russians for Russian as opposed to other languages than many in Moscow have been suggesting and far more tolerance for the development of various language communities. To the extent that is true, such attitudes may slow Vladimir Putin’s Russianization drive.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 7 – The new Levada Center poll about the growing concerns of Russians did not mention one that should be on the list, Marina Yudkevich says; and that is the growing propensity of Russians to deify Stalin and look back on his era as one of order, social justice, and an absence of corruption. “The majority of those nostalgic for Stalinist times are nostalgic, of course, not for the mass repressions,” the IdelReal commentator says. “No, they are certain that if there were repressions, then they were deserved.” Rather they believe there was “’real order … ‘justice’ … and no corruption” because no corruption was possible under Stalin (idelreal.org/a/29475999.html). “I regret to disappoint the followers of this faith,” Yudkevich continues, “but there was corruption and ‘the firm hand’ [of Stalin] did not interfere with stealing from the people and the state” and “often there wasn’t any ‘real order’ either in the economy or in the law enforcement spheres.” Among those who provided evidence of this was Dina Kaminskaya, a lawyer who defended dissidents in the 1970s, including Mustafa Dzhemilyev and Ilya Gabay who were repressed for exposing the persecution of Crimean Tatars. (She is remembered now if at all as the mother of Dmitry Simes.) In her memoirs, Final Judgment: My Life as a Soviet Defense Attorney (1882) Kaminskaya recalls that there was corruption “even during the Great Fatherland War” and that in the second half of the 1950s, there were an enormous number of major economic crime cases brought against those guilty of corruption while Stalin was alive. Some of those involved became fabulously wealthy, indeed for the times comparable to the fabulously wealthy of today. The only major difference between the two generations of the corrupt, Yudkevich continues, is that those who engaged in such activities in Stalin’s time generally kept them quiet, while today the corrupt flaunt their wealth. But these major thieves shared something in common as well. Those who engaged in corrupt practices remained unpunished as long as their boss was in power. Prosecutors were to go after those engaged in “anti-Soviet conspiracies” or who were deemed “enemies of the people” but in no case the corruptly rich near the throne. After Stalin died, however, they became in many cases fair game; and Kaminskaya recounts some of their cases – a reminder of just how much corruption there was under Stalin and what happens to the corrupt when the person at the top passes from the scene and is succeeded by others who need to make their own way. Many of those brought up on corruption charges in the 1950s, Kaminskaya says, should have been charged for their role in political repressions. But Stalin’s successors found it more useful and less dangerous to go after the corrupt than after the politically significant lest they call attention to the criminal nature of the state itself. This is something both those engaged in corruption now and those who are nostalgic for Stalin’s time should remember. Today’s system is not as different from Stalin’s as they imagine in this sphere either, Yudkevich says. “Should we be nostalgic any longer?”
Paul Goble Staunton, September 5 – Russians raised on the Muscovite notion that Cossacks must be Orthodox and Westerners exposed to the Hollywood version of reality about that community find it difficult to imagine that the ranks of the Cossacks have and do include members of other religious denominations. But at various points, there have been significant Muslim Cossack groups (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/08/muslim-cossacks-making-comeback-in.html) and even more important Buddhist ones (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/08/window-on-eurasia-buddhist-cossacks-to.html). However even those who know about these groups find it difficult to believe that there have ever been Jewish Cossacks. As the Russian 7 portal notes, while the term “Jewish Cossack” seems “by its absurdity” a contradiction in terms, in fact, “there were Jewish Cossacks,” and some of them rose to the rank of ataman (russian7.ru/post/evrey-kazak-kak-takoe-vozmozhno/). “More than that,” the portal continues, “a legend exists that the very first Cossack was a Jew” and that the name “Cossack” has its roots in Hebrew. Historians note that there were many Jews among the Zaporozhian Cossacks in the 15th to 18th centuries and that 11 of them are listed by name as having fought in the war of 1613. Their presence is also shown by the fact that as of the 18th century, many Cossacks had Jewish last names, although many of them may have been forced to convert after 1635. But according to one historian, during the existence of the New Zaporozhian Sech (1734-1775), “the transformation of ethnic Jews into Cossacks was a completely customary phenomenon.” And these Jewish Cossacks were the forefathers of Jewish Cossacks who appear to have fought on both sides in the Russian Civil War in the 20th century. The numbers of Jewish Cossacks have never been large, but their very existence suggests that there needs to be a more capacious understanding of that nation than the Kremlin, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Hollywood have proved capable of providing. There may be an even more compelling reason for focusing on Jewish Cossacks, however; and that is this: One historian, Major General Aleksandr Rigelman, in an 1847 book based on Ukrainian and Cossack manuscripts suggest that it is entirely possible that “the first Cossack was a Jew.” According to him, the Cossacks trace their origins to the Khazars, who were Jewish, and “in Hebrew is the word ‘hazak’ which means strength or courage.” That would be an entirely appropriate word origin for “Cossack” given the value Cossacks place on those values to this day.
Moscow resident Grigory Gasparyan received a chilling phone call: Accept $100,000 to stop a campaign against construction of luxury apartments, or we’ll kill you.
Russian high school students are unable to buy books needed for school by some of the country’s greatest writers, due to a profanity law signed by Vladimir Putin in 2014.
European lawmakers have nominated Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who has been on hunger strike in a Russian prison for nearly four months, for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
The Kremlin ally cruising to reelection as Moscow’s mayor has won the support of some liberals for major upgrades in city life.
Russian actress Natalia Kudryashova has won a prize for her performance in the film The Man Who Surprised Everyone at the prestigious Venice Film Festival.
A Moscow court has ordered Kirill Serebrennikov to remain under house arrest until October 19, ignoring an impassioned argument from the celebrated theater director, who said he was neither a crimi…
Paul Goble Staunton, September 12 – Thirty percent fewer Russians trust television news than did nine years ago, with the share saying they do falling from 79 to 49 percent, the Levada Center says. Over the same period, the share of Russians saying that they trust Internet news sites has risen from seven percent to 24 percent – or almost one in every four residents of that country. Respondents to a new Levada Center poll say that they view the Internet as providing more objective news than Russian television does on the issue of pension reform, the lifestyles of politicians, the state of the economy, protest actions and foreign policy (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2018/09/12/780726). This decline in public trust in television parallels the decline in trust in Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials. Indeed, the decline in trust in the one case promotes the decline in the other, and each may thus reinforce the other, with more declines ahead for both if nothing radically changes. Despite this shift in patterns of trust, Russians continue to get their news from TV, although the share doing so has fallen from 94 percent in 2009 to 73 percent now, while the share who prefer to rely on the Internet has risen from nine percent to 37 percent, Elena Mukhametshina of Vedomosti reports. Among young people aged 18 to 24, these figures are 49 percent for TV as against 54 percent for the Internet while among those over 55, the figures are 89 percent for television and 18 percent for Internet news. As a result of growing social tensions and especially after the announcement of the government’s plan to raise retirement ages, Levada Center director Lev Gudkov says, “the rise in the level of distrust to television intensified” given that people felt TV shows were not saying what they knew to be true. “Trust in the official world is falling, especially among the young and more educated,” he continues. This reflects not so much technology and modernization as the way in which information is provided in the different media. “People feel sharply that TV is not talking about the negative aspects of pension reform” even though they can see them in their own lives. The sociologist added that his surveys also show that Russians are tired of the regime’s unceasing “anti-Western propaganda.” Moscow political analyst Aleksey Makarkin says that the loss of trust in television has been a two-step process. The first stage reflected the fact that a significant portion of young people “do not want to watch television [because] they consider its format archaic” as they cannot take part in the conversation as they can in social media and the Internet. The second stage began with the pension reform and involved middle-aged peole who “in the majority of cases remain oriented to the old Soviet career patterns.” They have a work book and expect to collect their pensions as merited at 55 or 60. Now that won’t happen, and television has failed to talk about the clash of their expectations and the new reality. If television were to adopt a more pluralistic approach, it would regain the trust of the population, Makarkin continues. “But the authorities remember perestroika” when criticism got out of hand. Therefore, the powers that be aren’t likely to change much: they may replace a few talking heads but they aren’t going to make “essential shifts.”
U.S. and Russian space officials have tried to downplay rumors of sabotage on the International Space Station (ISS) after a Russian newspaper suggested that U.S. astronauts may have purposely drill…
“For Your Freedom and Ours”: Remembering the Red Square Protest of August 1968 Co-sponsored by the History and Public Policy Program. In August 1968, a group of eight individuals walked out on to the Red Square in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Their act of moral courage became a guiding…
Central Asia / Caucasus Reports
Paul Goble Staunton, September 9 – Over the last decade, the Putin regime has insisted on the display of the slogan “Forever with Russia” in the capitals of the North Caucasus republics, an action that has not unified the peoples there with the Russian world but “enraged” people there who would have been less offended by a more honest discussion of the past. In the latest example of the counter-productive results of Moscow going too far in denying the past, Moscow’s imposition of the slogan “Forever with Russia” as a propaganda slogan is infuriating North Caucasians who point out that it is not only historically inaccurate but logically impossible. And their comments, made to and reported by Radio Svoboda journalist Anzor Tamov, very much suggest that once again in this restive region, the Kremlin has gone too far and undermined the very values it says it is trying to promote (kavkazr.com/a/svyashchenno-dlya-predateley/29479823.html). The slogan has become increasingly a part of the public architecture of the cities in the region, Tamov says. In Karachayevo-Cherkessia, a giant banner with this slogan appeared on the government building in advance of the Day of the Republic on September 7. Many hoped that it would soon be taken down, but “the experience of neighboring republics calls that into doubt.” In Kabardino-Balkaria, for example, the slogan went up in 2007 on the memorial arch for the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of “the union of Russia and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic; and there it has remained. Even earlier the slogan appeared in Soviet times in Maykop, the capital of the Adygeya Republic. Nyr Aslan from Cherkessk tells Tamov that the slogan is both absurd – “who is with anyone else forever?” – and offensive. Over the centuries, he continues, the Russians “brought us hypocrisy, fratricide, alcoholism, prostitution, the destruction of 95 percent of our people, assimilation and an attack on our native language, which is holy for us.” Moreover, he continues, “over the course of these 450 years, the Russian-Circassian war lasted 101.” To ignore that fact, “offends our people and the memory of our ancestors. ‘Forever with Russia’ are favored and sacred words only for traitors and those without any backbone.” His fellow Circassian, Marat Khamukov shares his view, as does Zaur Zhemkhov of Nalchik, who adds that he doesn’t like having to look at the slogan because it reminds him that reality was exactly the reverse of what its words suggest. “We are a federation and not an empire,” and consequently, such words are offensive because they come from a regime that is “conducting a policy of the destruction of the federation and the assimilation of the non-Russian population,” Khamukov adds. Azamat Getazhey, another resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, says that the slogan is simply incorrect. How can one speak about “the voluntary inclusion of Kabardino-Balkaria into Russia” 450 years ago? There was no Kabardino-Balkaria at that time.” Instead, what happened was the formation of “a military-political union of the Kabards and the tsarist empire.” Zhambot Merov, a Circassian from the KBR, says that putting the slogan up is “a symbol of the carnival of stupidity” the peoples of the North Caucasus are now forced to live with. Asserting things that people know aren’t true about the past or the present only undermines the authority of those who make them. And Shamsudin Neguch of the Adygey Republic says that “the slogan ‘Forever with Russia’ not only offends” his nation but “as it were ‘puts [the Russians] above us from the start” and underscores that what is taking place in Russia today is “the degeneration of the country into an empire.”
The prime minister of the Russia-backed breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has died in an automobile accident, the separatist government says.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian praised the current level of relations between the two countries as they met for talks in Moscow.
Russia is wary as Armenia readjusts its foreign policy — and its relations with Moscow.
Russia has agreed to continue to supply weapons to Armenia, the Caucasus country’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinian, told the Kommersant newspaper in an interview.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 11 – Ukrainian Archpriest Sergey Gorbik says that Constantinople could grant autocephaly to the Belarusian Orthodox Church in the near future and for the same reason it is in the process of doing so now: The Universal Patriarchate has never recognized what is now the territory of Ukraine or Belarus as part of Moscow’s canonical territory. Belarusian Orthodox have been following developments in Ukraine closely for many months, Father Gorbik says; and they are aware of this reality. But all too many in Ukraine and elsewhere are not because Moscow has thrown up so much confusion that the record has been obscured (krynica.info/ru/2018/09/10/ukrainskijj-tomos-v-belorusskom-aspekte/). The basis for offering autocephaly to Ukraine, the Kyiv specialist on canon law says, is that “the Kiyev metropolitanate is the canonical territory of the Constantinople Patriarchte, and the transfer of this territory to under the power of the Moscow Patriarchate is illegal.” “Even more,” Father Gorbik says, the Universal Patriarch has been explicit that the grant to Moscow of the right to appoint the Kyiv metropolitan did not change the borders of the canonical space of the Universal Patriarchate or the Moscow Patriarchate, whatever Moscow believes. According to the church commentator, “the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate and particularly its Western borders is recognized [to this day] by Constantinople in the variant of 1589, and this is very important for Belarus, since in this case, its territory never was included within the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.” “Naturally,” Father Gorbik continues, “the Constantinople Patriarchate from the end of the 17th to the beginning of the 20 centureis did not have any opportunity to restore its control over the Kyiv metropolitanate or any of its parts. But when the Russian Empire collapsed and on the territory of the Kyiv metropolitanate appeared new independent states, the Universal Patriarch openly declared about his canonical rights.” “On this basis took place the extension of autocephaly to the Polish Orthodox Church in 1924, an act that was recognized by all Orthodox churches except for the Russian Orthodox Church which, besides its own imperial ambitions, was under the control of the Bolsheviks,” the Ukrainian churchman says. Constantinople, of course, is not seeking to restore the borders of the Kyiv metropolitanate to what they were in 1589. No one is talking about that because its territory is today divided among five independent states: Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and the western part of Russia. Moreover, Poland already has an autocephalous church; and Ukraine soon will as well. Rather, from the point of view of canon law, Father Gorbik says, Belarus’ Orthodox are not part of Moscow’s canonical territory and can thus choose either to be an autonomous formation within the Constantinople Patriarchate or pursue autocephalous status as Poland did and Ukraine now is – and only Constantinople has a voice in the matter. “Thus, the offer by Constantinople of autocephaly to Ukrainian Othodox practically means that Belarusian Orthodox believers are a step from an analogous status. Its offer depends only on the presence of their desire and on political circumstances in that country,” the Ukrainian expert says. Father Gorbik notes that Belarusian Orthodox faithful have been discussing this issue for some time and considering how what happens in Ukraine will affect them (krynica.info/ru/2018/04/22/pochta-redakcii-kuda-drejjfuet-belorusskijj-ehkzarkhat/). Now that Ukraine is on the verge of receiving autocephaly, that Belarusian attention will certainly intensify.
Amnesty International says the Belarusian authorities have “continued to violate a number of fundamental human rights” over the past five years, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly…
The Belarusian Minister of Finance Maksim Yermolovich said during an evening broadcast of the STV channel that the government refused a loan …
Paul Goble Staunton, September 9 – Last night, a new underground Belarusian television channel went on the air. Calling itself “Even So TV” (Khay Tak-TV), the channel represents “the most secretive, most independence and the bravest Belarusian television” ever, willing to attack the authorities, the opposition and even Belsat which carries its programs on its portal. The first program described how and why its organizers decided to take step, talked about the possibility of a Belarusian military advance “as far as Khabarovsk” in the Russian Far East, and offered both guests on the program and viewers unexpected comments and broad satire (belsat.eu/ru/programs/v-belarusi-poyavilos-podpolnoe-televidenie-kto-ego-sdelal/). The channel says it will be broadcasting each Saturday evening at 20:25 Minsk time. Belsat which has put up a link to the first program will continue to do so at belsat.eu/ru/program/haj-tak-tv/.
Transnistria / Moldova Reports
Moldovan President Igor Dodon sustained minor injuries in a September 9 traffic accident, according to Moldovan officials. Video recorded by a dashboard camera and released by Moldova’s presidential office shows cars in the presidential motorcade colliding with a truck near the city of Straseni. (Presidency of the Republic of Moldova; Pro TV via AP)
Police in Moldova say that a car carrying President Igor Dodon was involved in a road accident and that those in the vehicles have received medical treatment.
Igor Dodon’s car is hit by an overtaking a lorry in wet weather but he escapes with light injuries.
Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports
Egypt has delivered verdicts for more than 700 people in a mass trial, confirming 75 death sentences.
An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 75 people to death for their involvement in pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests five years ago, in a mass trial of more than 700 defendants that rights groups have criticized as unfair.
An armed group has attacked the headquarters of the National Oil Corporation in Tripoli.
At least four people, including two National Oil Corporation employees, killed as gunmen storm firm’s Tripoli offices.
Kabul is a democracy in name only.
“Drone strikes may have a purpose, but they are no substitute for a political strategy.”
American universities have created a consortium that offers temporary academic homes for refugee scholars threatened by war and authoritarian governments.
Anjem Choudary, the notorious Islamist hate preacher, will be banned from Hyde Park and forbidden to use the internet under a strict prison release deal, The Telegraph understands.
Inquest hears that first victim, Kurt Cochran, had arrived in UK with his wife that morning
The husband of an American tourist killed after he pushed his wife away from a terrorist’s oncoming vehicle was recognized as a hero during an inquest into the deadly attack on Westminster Bridge last year.
The Algerian war, long a source of national trauma for France, had a profound influence on its political institutions.
More than 1.5 million Algerians died during the 1954-62 war of independence against colonial-ruler France.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the death of a dissident mathematician in Algeria in 1957, admitting for the first time the French military’s system that included torture during Algeria’s independence war.
The French president took responsibility for the killing of Maurice Audin, a young activist who became a symbol of the Algerian War, and asked the man’s widow for forgiveness.
The Algerian War, long a source of national trauma for France, had a profound influence on its political institutions.
DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports
The White House said Kim sent a “very warm, very positive” letter to Trump.
The US and allies are days away from launching a new effort to more publicly expose North Korean violations of sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programs, two defense officials tell CNN.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that Pyongyang has already taken steps towards denuclearization and is expecting Washington to make the next move.
The United States has accused Russia of altering an independent United Nations report to cover up Moscow’s alleged violation of UN sanctions on North Korea.
The U.S. announced sanctions on Russia and Chinese tech firms as alleged North Korean front companies.
The US announced new sanctions against North Korea Thursday, taking aim at a Chinese company, its North Korean CEO and its Russia-based sister company.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that North Korea should be given security guarantees in exchange for steps toward denuclearization, and suggested that Washington is not reciprocating adeq…
Lindsey Graham presented Trump with the ambitious plan during a national security meeting in September 2017 — just two months before the president called Kim “Little Rocket Man” on Twitter, according to an excerpt of Bob Woodward’s new book.
The White House says the letter shows North Korea’s continued commitment to denuclearisation.
President Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he is expecting a new letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has received a letter from Kim Jong Un to US President Donald Trump, according to a State Department official.
Packed into Pyongyang’s giant stadium this week with thousands of other tourists, Australian Mitchell Hamilton marvelled at the return of North Korea’s “Mass Games,” a huge pageant that has produced some of the most iconic images of the isolated country.
North Korea did not mark its 70th anniversary by putting its intercontinental ballistic missiles on display. Instead, the country brought back its mass games, a highly choreographed performance.
Praising China while keeping nukes away from his big parade, Kim Jong Un is proving to be a deft diplomat.
In public, Trump praises Kim Jong Un. But his administration is taking a tougher stance toward North Korea as proof mounts it’s still making nuclear weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to hold talks with Asian leaders this week that will address North Korea’s nuclear program amid Pyongyang’s stalled efforts to ease tensions with Washington.
NORTH Korea has no plans to scrap its nuclear arsenal in a huge blow to Donald Trump as tensions soar on the Korean peninsular.
September 9, 2018 marks 70 years of the small, impoverished state of North Korea defying major world powers to exist as a bastion of Korean identity and revolutionary, and often brutal politics.
Marking 70 years since North Korea was founded, these will be the first such spectacle in five years.
Dazzling displays of discipline require months of practice and loyalty to the Kim dynasty.
The newly appointed Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, will travel to Asia next week to meet with counterparts in Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As the Trump administration works to mitigate the nuclear threat posed by Kim Jong Un, North Korea has other dangerous tricks up its sleeve: cyberattacks and chemical weapons.
Charging Park Jin Hyok (or any North Korean government hacker) as an individual is a human rights issue. It’s important to note that Park had no choice in his actions.
Or something in the middle?
Recent partnerships between Beijing and Moscow belie the rivalry that defines their relationship, political strategists warn.
Military manoeuvres come as tensions between West and Russia intensify to highest level since the days of Soviet Union.
“From the economy’s (point of view) and the financial sector’s (perspective), we would like to have a normal relationship with the U.S.,” a former PBOC governor says.
China’s Navy is now the world’s largest. It has altered the military balance in Asia in ways the U.S. is only beginning to digest.
China’s Navy, growing at a stunning rate, is now the world’s largest. It can now directly challenge US military supremacy in the Pacific.
China’s militarization of South China Sea features allows its fighters to reach deep into the South Pacific, jeopardizing US bases while advancing Beijing’s ‘neo-colonial’ ambitions
A showdown between the British and Chinese navies in the disputed South China Sea could derail the two nations’ trading relationship after Brexit, the state-run China Daily newspaper has said.
The well-known defense observer has released on its page on Twitter the incredible satellite footage that showing launch of the OneSpace OX-S1 ‘Chongqing Liangjiang Star’ suborbital rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. On September 7, Chinese space startup OneSpace successfully launched its second suborbital rocket from a site in the Gobi Desert, marking a step towards a suborbital rocket flight expected before the end of 2018. The Chongqing Liangjiang Star rocket lifted off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 04:10 UTC (12:10 local), reaching an altitude of around 35 kilometres during a flight of 200 seconds, travelling 169 km, in accordance with requirements from the customer. No information on the payload has been released. All this time, after the launch, they were being watched from space. According to theGBTIMES, the video satellite managed to capture the early moments of the200-second flight, which reached an altitude of around 35 kilometers, showing the solid-fuelled rocket quickly climbing.
Here is what we know.
China claims to have successfully tested a new sea plane, purportedly the largest in the world, and while its primary purposes are firefighting and water rescue, this new aircraft could be used to advance the country’s ambitions in the disputed South China Sea.
Who would want to buy it?
What is China really buying with its investments in Greenland?
The Russian Foreign Ministry intends to develop together with Iran, China, and other governments an “echeloned defense” against US sanctions, …
Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on virtually everything America imports from China means items including clothes and shoes could be hit.
Nearly two-thirds of US firms who responded to a survey by American chambers of commerce in China reported that the waves of new tariffs have harmed their business.
China’s far from desperate to reach a deal.
China’s chances of escaping the trade conflict with the U.S. with only minor damage to its economy just got slimmer.
China’s trade surplus with the U.S. widened to $31.05 billion in August from $28.09 billion the previous month, while its total trade surplus narrowed.
A version of this article was originally published by The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Sydney. War on the Rocks is proud to be publishing select articles from The Interpreter. Lies, damn lies, and statistics, and of course to that list should be added Chinese statistics. After reporting three quarters of 6.8 percent GDP growth – even though the economy and corporate sector has been shaken by deleveraging, trade wars, and an ever more volatile exchange rate – the official GDP numbers are an island of stability in a turbulent sea. Is the GDP true? Of course, it isn’t. But that isn’t really important in some ways. Almost all numbers in China are open for debate. As anyone who spends time dealing with the place knows, China is full of data and numbers, and while some may be true, that doesn’t mean the data set being described is complete.
China is under pressure from an onslaught of U.S. tariffs, but the government could blunt some of the negative effects by encouraging property prices to rise, according to a CLSA analyst.
The deciding battle for the fate of the CCP may be waged over its history, rather than in the political, economic, or even military realms.
The campaign corresponds with a drive to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party.
The Chinese government is destroying cross, burning bibles, closing down churches and forcing Christian believers to sign papers renouncing their faith as the crackdown on religious congregations in Beijing and several provinces intensifies.
Zion church shutdown amid deepening crackdown on China’s ‘underground’ churches.
China’s government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations in Beijing and several provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China.
Beijing city authorities have banned one of the largest unofficial Protestant churches in the city and confiscated “illegal promotional materials”, amid a deepening crackdown on China’s “underground” churches.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday sharply rebuked China for “burning Bibles” in a tweet responding to a report that indicated China’s government is cracking down on Christian congregations.
Something terrible is happening in Xinjiang.
The Chinese government is conducting a mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations against Muslims in the far western region of Xinjiang, a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claims.
The United States has expressed concern over China’s “worsening crackdown” on minority Muslim groups in the far western province of Xinjiang, amid allegations of widespread human rights abuses.
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday expressed deep concern over China’s “worsening crackdown” on minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region, as the Trump administration considered sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.
Economic penalties in response to reports of mass detentions of Muslims would be a rare US confrontation of Beijing over human rights
If approved, the penalties would fuel an already bitter standoff with Beijing over trade and pressure on North Korea’s nuclear program.
The Turkic mostly Muslim Uighur minority in China’s Xinjiang region face arbitrary detentions, daily restrictions on religious practice and “forced political indoctrination” in a mass security crackdown, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
The company has been quietly collaborating with the Chinese government on a new, censored search engine—and abandoning its own ideals in the process.
Trump bows to Beijing when it protests U.S. help for Taipei.
The Pentagon has rejected a State Department request to deploy a detachment of US Marines to Taiwan to help safeguard the de facto American embassy there, three US officials tell CNN.
A new agreement between top U.S. and Indian officials will deepen military cooperation and bolster strategic ties between the two countries.
An enhanced U.S-India relationship could help counter China’s expanding military and diplomatic influence around the world, senior Pentagon and State Department officials said Wednesday.
India’s in the market for fighters. Lockheed’s in the market for a new factory location. It’s a match made in Hyderabad!
It’s the fifth successful test of Japan’s ability to intercept ballistic missiles from warships.
The State Dept. has OK’d the sale to Japan for up to nine Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft for $3.1 billion.
The U.S. Department of State has approved a possible $3.135 billion Foreign Military Sale to Japan of nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a 10 September statement. Also included in the proposed deal are aircraft ancillary equipment, modifications, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, software, personnel training and training equipment, ferry services, U.S. Government and contractor logistics, engineering, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. According to the statement of the U.S. Department of State, the potentional sale of E-2D AHE aircraft will improve Japan’s ability to effectively provide homeland defense utilizing an AEW&C capability. Japan will use the E-2D AHE aircraft to provide AEW&C situational awareness of air and naval activity in the Pacific region and augment its existing E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C fleet. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.
The countries’ lingering World War Two hostilities remain unresolved.
As it is often the case with Moscow, there’s some disputed land involved.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed signing a World War II peace treaty with Japan by the end of the year “without preconditions.”
Bloomberg Politics Published on Sep 10, 2018 Sep.10 — Yorizumi Watanabe, professor at Keio University, discusses the meeting between Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin and what could come out of the meeting. He speaks on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia.”
The presidents of Japan and Russia expressed a desire to achieve a peace treaty between the two nations, more than 70 years after the end of World War II.
The Trump administration has approved a deal to sell six P-8A patrol aircraft to South Korea for an estimated cost of $2.1 billion and 64 Patriot Advanced Capability missiles for $501 million, the US State Department announced Thursday.
The State Department has approved two possible arms deals worth a combined $2.6 billion with South Korea, a Pentagon agency announced Thursday.
Twenty-three ships and submarines from across the Indo-Pacific region are taking part in Exercise Kakadu, and China is joining them for the first time.
China is participating for the first time in Australia’s largest maritime exercise as more than 3,000 personnel from 27 countries engage in joint training off the strategic northern port of Darwin.
Upgrades to Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) are a possibility, the defense department in Canberra said.
Foreign Policy Reports
Construction began in May on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will enable Russia to boost its natural gas exports to Europe. President Trump has warned that it will make Germany “captive to Russia.”
Washington may follow through on threats to impose sanctions over the construction of an underwater natural gas pipeline between Russia to Germany, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said.
The United States opposes the implementation of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project as it threatens the energy security of Europe.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will meet with his counterpart from Russia on September 13, U.S. sources told news agencies.
The Russian delegation at the first round of trilateral expert-level talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on gas transit held in Brussels Sept 12-13, refused to provide guarantees of continued gas transit via Ukraine after 2019, the year when the existing gas transit contract between Ukraine and Russia expires. The Ukrainian delegation stands on the idea that gas transit via Ukraine must be agreed on market terms and according to European rules.
The European Union’s General Court has upheld the bloc’s sanctions regime against Russian bank and energy companies over Russia’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.
The European Union has extended by another six months visa bans and asset freeze against 155 Russian and Ukrainian individuals, as well as 44 companies, for undermining or threatening the independe…
The European Parliament adopted a draft copyright bill with provisions aimed at forcing tech giants to pay more to media companies for music and news content that is used on their platforms.
Ask Angela Merkel to reflect on her political legacy and she’ll tell you she’s got too much on her plate to worry about it.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply condemned recent anti-immigration protests in Eastern Germany, stepping into a swelling debate about whether all opposition to migration should be labeled as extremist.
German chancellor tells Bundestag that violence and Nazi slogans are inexcusable
Prosecutors leading the investigation into a far-right demonstration in Chemnitz said Saturday there’s no evidence a video showing protesters chasing down and attacking a foreigner is fake, despite comments from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s domestic spy chief questioning its authenticity.
Gavin Williamson has ordered hundreds of British troops to remain in Germany to deter Russian aggression, The Sunday Times has learnt.The defence secretary has decided to tear up plans to withdraw all forces from Germany by 2020, and will keep forward bases on the central European plain.Williamson w
UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has ordered hundreds of British troops to remain in Germany to deter Russian aggression. “More than 200 servicemen and 400 family members will not be coming home as planned in the next year,” reads the report.
This is oddly reminiscent of how Russia occupied Crimea and Donbas. </end editorial>
Security agencies in Eastern Europe have voiced concern about the rise of far-right paramilitary groups whose members have access to heavy weaponry, including in some cases armored vehicles and tanks. The most recent warning came on Sunday, when the Czech daily newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes published excerpts of a leaked security report on the subject. The report was authored by analysts in the Security Information Service (BIS), the country’s primary domestic intelligence agency. It detailed the recent activities of a group calling itself the National Home Guard, a far-right, anti-immigrant militia that some experts say consists of around 2,000 members throughout the Czech Republic. Although this is officially denied, the group is believed to be the armed wing of National Democracy, a far-right nationalist political party that received 36,000 votes in the 2017 legislative election.
Lithuania is urging U.S. retail giant Walmart to stop selling clothing with Soviet hammer and sickle symbols, which it says insults victims of Soviet-era persecution.
Sweden’s Social Democrat prime minister has pinned his hopes of survival on assembling a grand centrist coalition after the country’s fraught election delivered a dead heat.The stage is set for a prolonged power struggle between Stefan Lofven’s left-wing “red green” bloc and the centre-right allianc
Sweden’s election results suggest an increasingly fragmented political world.
The country’s left-wing Social Democrats just saw their worst election result in generations.
An election fought on the Sweden Democrats’ terms leaves the far-right party in control of the country’s agenda.
Voters in Sweden handed the ruling Social Democrats their worst result in decades Sunday, while the far-right Sweden Democrats were projected to become the third-largest party in Stockholm’s parliament.
Sweden may face weeks or even months of political gridlock after an inconclusive election result left the biggest Scandinavian economy without a clear candidate to form a government.
Why the timing of elections tends to favor populist parties — and not just in Sweden.
In Malmö, where roughly a third of the city’s residents were born outside Sweden, voters are gearing up for Sunday’s national election — which will be dominated by immigration issues.
The poll comes amid a rise in anti-immigration sentiment and waning support for mainstream parties.
Swedish politics are not a slow, reliable Volvo car, they are more like a rollercoaster ride.
Bono was seen making a Nazi salute on stage during U2’s concert in Paris on Sunday, as he mocked the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats in the wake of the general election.
Jonas Noreika has been honored as a martyr since his execution by the Soviet secret police in 1947. But he now stands accused by his own granddaughter of helping the Nazis kill Jews.
A new kind of authoritarianism is taking root in Europe — and there are warning signs for the US.
MEPs say Hungary’s right-wing government has breached the bloc’s core values.
The European Parliament votes to take disciplinary action over alleged attacks on the rule of law.
Al Jazeera English Published on Sep 13, 2018 For the first time ever, the European Parliament has voted to sanction a member state. Hungary’s accused of flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption with government
European Parliament votes to launch disciplinary action against Hungary for flouting its core values. What’s next?
Only if we work together can we have harmony, says Hungarian conductor Ádám Fischer
HUNGARY is set to be blocked from voting on European Union matters, after MEPs triggered Article 7 procedures in an unprecedented step.
Europe’s center-right establishment unexpectedly dropped its support for Prime Minister Viktor Orban over domestic policies it described as anti-democratic, raising the likelihood the country would be censured in the European Parliament.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the European Parliament on Tuesday he would not bow to EU “blackmail” as lawmakers prepared to vote on whether to punish Budapest for eroding democracy.
European Parliament offered to deprive Hungary of a right to vote in the EU Council because of the possible flagrant violation of fundamental democratic values of the EU. According to the draft resolution of the European Parliament, Ukrinform reports. ‘The European Parliament convinced that the current level of corruption, the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the government finance, and also an improper expenditure and overvaluation of financial programs harm the financial resources of the EU in Hungary; believes that this may represent the violation of values defined in Article 2 of the Treaty on EU with the provision of a warrant for the application of Article 7 of the Treaty on the EU,’ reads the message.
Foreign Ministry of Poland thinks that the actions aiming against members of union only separates the EU
Poland will vote against any possible sanctions against Hungary coming from European organizations, said Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs …
The storm over the Serbian president’s characterization of accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic suggests that even decades later, Kosovo can still make or break a Serbian politician. (The views …
The Latest on the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia (all times local): 11:55 a.m.
Al Jazeera English Published on Sep 9, 2018 Kosovo’s president urged restraint during a visit by his Serb counterpart, Aleksander Vucic, who was in Kosovo to address a rally of thousands of people in Mitrovica on Sunday.
Dr. Mitchell Valdés-Sosa said Cuba has long wanted to partner with the U.S. to investigate what may have happened but has been denied access to medical records.
It is fairly apparent this is a political gesture, but my question is ‘why wasn’t this done previously’? Just for clarity, Phoenix TV, is a Hong Kong-based broadcaster tied to the Chinese government and intelligence services. The radio station they seek to buy is in Tijuana, Mexico, which borders San Diego, California. This is the loudest…
The Valley of the Fallen was built to honor the civil war dead. Spain’s leftist government says it is wrong to honor a dictator there, too.
A referendum could decide whether the country will change its name to gain entrance. But those prizes have lost their shine.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would travel to Macedonia ahead of a crucial referendum on changing the country’s name, and he voiced concern about possible Russian “mischief” in the run-…
James Mattis, the Head of Pentagon, stated that he would visit Macedonia before the referendum on the changing of the country’s name. The visit is scheduled for the end of this week, as DW reported. At the same time, Mattis noted that Russian was trying to interfere in the voting in Macedonia. “I am worried about that. Those malicious actions which Russia performed from Estonia to the U.S., from Ukraine and to Macedonia now, – they always adapted their tactic to a particular situation and always did it regardless of any moral principles,” he said.
China’s foreign minister and the head of the National Development and Reform Commission held a meeting on Friday with visiting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Direct intervention with US help remains fringe idea but opposition figures seem to be increasingly receptive
The American Imperial-boogie man remains a powerful political device in Latin America.U.S. Military Intervention in Venezuela Would Be A Major Mistake
The meetings, reported by The New York Times, happened secretly after rogue officers contacted the U.S. government. The Trump administration apparently decided not to help the Venezuelan officers.
The country’s foreign minister denounced “U.S. intervention plans and help to military conspirators” after The New York Times reported on secret talks.
“U.S. policy preference for a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains unchanged,” said a National Security Council spokesman.
US officials met secretly with Venezuelan military officers who were plotting a coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, both a current and a former US official confirmed to CNN.
TIME Published on Sep 10, 2018 The U.S. held at least three meetings with Venezuelan military officers before deciding not to help them overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, the New York Times reported on Saturday. Subscribe to TIME ►► http://po.st/SubscribeTIME
Francis called on leaders of bishops’ conferences around the world to gather in February to address a crisis that has rattled the church, and his papacy.
You know the scandals in the Catholic Church are bad when a leading American cardinal says his own mother is ashamed to show her faith in public. That’s what Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
The widening divide among those leading the Catholic Church has only heightened with the latest sexual abuse allegations rocking the Vatican.
Catholic leaders have left state officials with no choice but to investigate the Church in America.
A report on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany says 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014
More than 3,600 children in Germany were assaulted by Catholic priests over 70 years, a study finds.
The new UN human rights chief has warned about abuses worldwide, voicing concern about developments in China, the United States, and other countries in her first speech to the UN Human Rights Council.
Venezuela has become increasingly reliant on Chinese oil-for-loans deals as its economy spirals downward.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is traveling to China to discuss economic agreements, as the crisis-struck OPEC nation seeks to convince its key Asian financier to disburse fresh loans.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the military alliance is “ready to welcome” Macedonia as its 30th member once Skopje finalizes an agreement with Athens to change the former Yugoslav republic’s name.
Excellent article by Imbi Paju. The article is a unique perspective on how Russian propaganda is supported by willing participants. Russian propaganda is also aided by overwhelming intimidation by pro-Kremlin workers. In this case, Johan Bäckman is on trial in Finland for intimidating, harassing, and attacking Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro for her expose on his group. The author, Imbi Paju, also suffered similar attacks from Johan Bäckman, and even had to ask for police protection at her book opening. The trial continues, but this is a unique and fairly focused dissection of how Russian terrorist-type techniques are used against journalists, authors, and others who deal with information for a living. ps. These Finnish trolls have also harassed me, I’m more than familiar with them. Fortunately, the articles they’ve written about me on MV-lehti do not appear on Google searches. </end editorial>
Written evidence submitted by By Dr. Emma L Briant, University of Essex A Response to Recent Interim Reports and Proposals by: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; & U.K. Parliament Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry into Fake News. Responses to the Problem of ‘Fake News’ and Digital Propaganda in Democracies This year,…
This is really horrendous propaganda, it’s too bad to be remotely true. This ‘article’ implicates the SBU, Right Sector, and ISIS in an assassination plot to kill a ‘leader’ in the DNR. It’s too detailed about who is hiring the ISIS guy but gives zero details about the intended target. $10,000 is the price they’re going to…
Google has pulled Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s ads from YouTube ahead of regional elections in Russia, according to media reports.
Thwarting data manipulation means a manual audit log process, advanced user behavior analytics and countless man-hours. Blockchain removes these time consuming requirements.
Reporting on the recent killing of Alexander Zakharchenko in Donetsk, Ukraine, has enraged many, and with good reason. Far too many reports from top outlets included the phrase or something similar, “Moscow denies sending regular troops and heavy weaponry to Ukraine, the rebels, or separatists.” Of course, Moscow regularly issues such denials. However, the time to simply report such claims by Moscow as if they are of equal validity to Ukraine’s claims is long past. “Moscow denies sending troops and weapons into Ukraine” should always be followed by “despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” If a journalist does not know that there is abundant open-source evidence of Russian military involvement in Ukraine, they shouldn’t be journalists. If they repeat Moscow’s claim, in some blind commitment to the idea of “balance” or for any other reason, they are leaving their audience uninformed, and that is a disservice. Claims made by Kyiv and Moscow should not be treated equally; there is overwhelming evidence to substantiate Kyiv’s claims about the origins and continuation of the war in the Donbas, and that evidence proves Moscow’s claims to be outrageously false. Guilty news outlets include the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, The Financial Times, RFE/RL, and the LA Times. Journalists would be wise to heed a journalism 101 lesson: “If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the window and find out which is true.” The truth behind the war in Ukraine is that it was created behind the walls of the Kremlin. There has never been any appetite for separatism in the Donbas. The US special envoy to Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, made this point a year ago: “The conflict in eastern Ukraine is not an indigenous uprising, it’s an externally driven conflict, and Russia is responsible.” Now there’s a legitimate debate to be had over the terms “rebels” and “separatists.” Both are misleading terms, and misleading in a way that directly supports Russia’s false narrative about the conflict in the Donbas. Collins English dictionary defines rebel as “people who are fighting against their own country’s army in order to change the political system there.” The same dictionary offers the following definition for separatists: “Organizations and activities within a country involve members of a group of people who want to establish their own separate government or are trying to do so.” Neither applies. Because the war in the Donbas was not a local uprising, and because it is an interstate war between two countries, the terms “rebels” and “separatists” aren’t accurate. In the early days of the war, and with the fog of war clouding clearer understandings of what was actually happening, and because of Russia’s attempts to portray the war as something it never was, the media adopted these terms and accepted them as accurate. We know far more now, and it is time to retire these terms. While there are some locals in the Donbas who have participated in hostilities, it is also true that they do so at the behest of Russia. The late Zakharchenko himself was indeed a Donetsk native, but he and his replacement are nothing more than proxies for Russia and Russian interests. They have no authority of their own, and would have no ability to fight were it not for the thousands of pieces of military hardware that Russia has sent across Ukraine’s borders. Something for which, again, there is ample evidence. What term should be used instead? In a recent tweet, the US Embassy in Kyiv used “Russian armed forces” and this is an approach many favor. It reflects the official position of Ukraine’s government which has formally declared Russia as the aggressor state in this conflict. Others use “Russian-backed” forces, but it also downplays Russia’s actual role in Ukraine. “Russian-led” is more accurate, but since the direction, hardware, manpower, and the ammunition all come from Russia, the term “Russian forces” is most accurate. To continue to use the terms “rebels” or “separatists” is to misinform. And misinform in a way that masks Russia’s culpability in starting and continuing this war.
Published on July 18, 2018 By Allen Middlebro’ Head – Headquarters Security Force, NATO at NATO We live in the age of the conspiracy theory, with isolated segments of the population believing in just about everything one could believe, up to and including flat-earth and lizard-aliens masquerading as world leaders. Most of these conspiracy theories evolve…
Arjen Kamphuis was last seen on Aug. 20 in a remote Arctic town in Norway. Online theories range from C.I.A. abduction to a secret mission for Julian Assange.
U.S. blockchain and crypto companies have founded a lobbying group to represent the interests of companies engaged in blockchain-powered projects.
The European Commission will propose new laws on Wednesday giving Google, Facebook , Twitter and other internet companies one hour to remove extremist content or face fines.
The European Union is proposing fines for tech firms that aren’t fast enough in removing terrorist content from their services, raising pressure on the likes of Facebook and Google that have backed voluntary approaches.
The EU copyright battle pits media companies and musicians against tech giants over whether internet users should be able to share their content online.
Surveillance system revealed by Snowden breached right to privacy, Strasbourg judges say
Good morning. Today, Stephanie Armour and Paul Overberg are reporting that Russian trolls tweeted extensively about the Affordable Care Act. On the March 23 anniversary of the Affordable Care Act becoming law, Democrats attacked Republicans for trying to sabotage the health law and praised the embattled legislation. So did Russian trolls. “8 years ago today, President Obama signed the…
Make no mistake, the Czech Republic, or Czechia, is in a war. It is in both an internal war, mostly prompted by Russia with remnants of the Soviet Union actively participating in an internal war. All this is being fed by an information war, which, of course, is being fed and pushed by Russian propagandists. …
Why the world desperately needs digital Geneva Conventions.
Create standing rules of engagement and maintain the dual-hatted NSA/CyberCommand.
The defense agency awarded a contract to develop a tool that scours the internet for dormant online armies.
No NATO nation has suffered a cyber attack big enough to be an act of war — yet.
38-year-old Russian citizen Peter Levashov pleaded guilty to charges of cyber fraud in US District Court in Hartford, Connecticut, as stated in …
A Russian man considered to be one of the world’s most notorious spammers has pleaded guilty to U.S. charges stemming from his operation of the Kelihos botnet, the Justice Department says.
Tom McKayYesterday 6:35pm In 2014, some 76 million JPMorgan Chase customers were less than thrilled to hear that hackers were roaming around company databases containing their records for two months. Now, U.S. officials have secured the extradition of the Russian man believed to be responsible, Andrei Tyurin, from the nation of Georgia and are charging him in…
Georgia has extradited a Russian man to the United States to face charges that he took part in a massive computer hacking scheme that targeted JPMorgan Chase & Co and other Wall Street firms, U.S. prosecutors announced on September 7.
A member of the
Partnerships with smaller companies and large enterprises may be the best path to protecting government networks may be the best way for government to shore up their network defenses.
Trained software can detect sonar-like patterns and reduce the guesswork in unlocking an Android phone.
When the WannaCry ransomware created a global hospital crisis in 2017, locking emergency rooms and medical centers out of their systems, it was Marcus
After several years of operations, many officials believe the time is ripe for training and team structures to be re-evaluated.
Researchers say that known vulnerabilities are still attacking machines, shedding light on poor cyber hygiene.
US Domestic Policy Reports
As Jon Kyl, the new senator who brings a long track record of spending on missile defense and nukes returns to the Hill, Democrats in the House might have other ideas.
One Army weapon would be a hypersonic missile, tearing through missile defenses at Mach 5-plus to kill critical hardened targets such as command bunkers. The other would use a gun barrel to launch cheaper, slower missiles at larger numbers of softer targets like radars and missile launchers.
To meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy, the service is going to have to grow, both in terms of squadrons and airmen. The big question is where — and by how much?
Instead of waiting for full deployment, the Pentagon should roll out parts of its new command-and-control systems as they become ready.
A provision in the 2019 defense authorization act orders the Pentagon to start development.
Can Andrew Marshall, the U.S. military’s longtime oracle, still predict the future?
Washington’s influence on security, research, trade, and the environment is weakening.
Facebook needs help, and in the meantime, the Global Engagement Center is focusing on ISIS. The $40 million dedicated to countering foreign information warfare is now slashed to $20 million and there is no guarantee State will pass the money to the GEC or begin countering Russian information warfare. Again, would you like a systemic…
U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order aimed at punishing foreigners who interfere in U.S. elections, although Democrats and some Republicans immediately said the action did n…
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to sanction foreigners who attempt to meddle in the U.S. elections, but attributing cyberattacks in a short period of time can be challenging.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-working-protect-nations-elections-foreign-interference/ Issued on: September 12, 2018 QUOTE: We’re going to take strong action to secure our election systems and the process. President Donald J. Trump PROTECTING OUR ELECTIONS: President Donald J. Trump is issuing an Executive Order that will work to respond to and deter foreign attempts to interfere in our elections. President Trump’s Executive Order “Imposing…
https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-imposing-certain-sanctions-event-foreign-interference-united-states-election/ Issued on: September 12, 2018 By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality…
U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order aimed at punishing foreigners who interfere in U.S. elections.
News reports say that President Donald Trump is planning a new executive order aimed at deterring foreign entities or individuals found to have interfered in U.S. elections.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing sanctions against foreigners who meddle in U.S. elections, a move that counters critics who claim he has not taking election security seriously enough.
A top U.S. Republican lawmaker has called for more to be done to punish Russia for its “aggressive acts” in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere, as pressure grows in Congress to move more forcefully …
The US Senate should consider two escalatory sanctions options that are planned for this fall. The proposal was made by Daniel Fried,the former coordinator for sanctions policy of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. “Escalatory options can include two types: intensified sectoral sanctions targeting specific sectors such as finance, energy, defense/dual use technology, and cyber; and additional sanctions against individuals, particularly those close to Putin”, – Fried noted. “Within sectoral sanctions, there remains plenty of reasonable escalatory headroom, especially in finance and cyber”, he said. Fried also believes that “there may be escalatory room in the energy sector, but the US should be careful not to target current energy production. Doing so could panic markets and drive up prices”.
Lawmakers pressed Trump administration officials on Thursday to step up enforcement of sanctions against Russia during a heated hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
U.S. lawmakers on Thursday kept up their push for the Trump administration to push back harder against Russia’s “nefarious activities,” even as top economic officials pledged to take a hard line on Moscow’s election meddling and the poisoning of its own citizens in Britain.
The media is determined to prove that Donald Trump is unfit to be president.
Former President Obama subjected students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to an hour-long verbal tranquilizer Friday as he attacked President Trump and stuck to his usual specialty: mendacity and self-love.
He’s taken the high road for so long it seemed he was impervious to the way President Trump has abused his legacy. But former President Obama is not having it anymore, and with the House of Representatives in play, he came to California to blast Trump and get out the Democratic vote.
Should President Trump need a model to use to track down leakers inside his administration like the “anonymous” insider who challenged his authority in a New York Times op-ed, he need go no further back than the Obama administration that prosecuted leakers and shutout the media.
Social changes lead to a confluence of worldviews between the Orthodox and the evangelical.
Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has tentatively agreed to a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller that would end the need for a second trial, U.S. media are reporting.
Federal prosecutors in Washington say they were “mistaken” when they accused Russian citizen Maria Butina of offering to trade sex for a job at a U.S. lobbying group.
George Papadopoulos, a low-level adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to federal agents.
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Paul Manafort’s lawyers have talked to U.S. prosecutors about a possible guilty plea to avert a second criminal trial set to begin in Washington this month, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is reportedly considering an agreement with prosecutors that would involve him pleading guilty on some charges in exchange for avoiding a second trial set to begin this month in Washington, D.C.
Prospective jurors in Washington have begun filling out questionnaires this week for the second federal trial of Manafort, who is accused of financial crimes related to work he did for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Attorneys for Paul Manafort have discussed a possible guilty plea with federal prosecutors to avoid a second trial scheduled for later this month in Washington, according to a new report.
A long video is embedded in the page. The three witnesses, Dr. Leon Aron, Ms. Elizabeth Rosenberg, and Mr. Daleep Singh gave testimony, outlining the situation in Russia. They concentrated on US Election interference, referring to proposed legislation. They were asked for measures to counter Russia. Dr. Aron gave the most damning assessment of measures to deter Russia, stating that nothing…
The Government Accountability Office is telling the Defense Department to better police inefficiencies in its 19 agencies and 8 field activities—collectively known as the “Fourth Estate.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday described the latest drama surrounding the Trump White House as a “global soap opera” — one that even people across the world are interested in.
John Kerry joined Dana Perino on “The Daily Briefing” on Wednesday to discuss a wide range of topics, including calls from many Democratic lawmakers for President Donald Trump to be impeached.
Former President Carter warned fellow Democrats that pivoting too far to the left could endanger their support among independents.
Kris Paronto, one of the heroes of Benghazi, is furious with Barack Obama over the former president’s recent remark about “conspiracy theories” surrounding the 2012 terror attack.
Barack Obama’s recent denunciation of President Donald Trump’s treatment of the press overlooks the aggressive steps the Justice Department took to keep information from the public when he was president. Obama also made a problematic claim that Republican “sabotage” has cost 3 million people their health insurance.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) discusses contentious Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings, reacts to Obama’s comments about the DOJ on ‘Sunday Morning Futures. Graham also made his case for another special counsel to investigate the conduct of FBI employees. “I’m so disappointed in the Department of Justice,” Graham said. “You have got the number four person at the Department of Justice ,who basically is in narcotics, handling Christopher Steele, who’s the chief author of the dossier used to get a FISA warrant. Ohr’s wife worked with Christopher Steele at Fusion GPS. They were on the payroll of Democratic Party.” “We know all about Christopher Steele. We know that he was a former British intelligence agent who hated Donald Trump, who felt like he needed to personally stop Trump from winning, that went to Russia, got information from the Russian intelligence services to write a dossier, this bunch of political garbage,” he added. Graham said Bob Woodward’s new book and the anti-Trump anonymous ‘New York Times’ op-ed will mean nothing in 2020. “That the op-ed and the book won’t matter in 2020,” the Senator said. “The president will be judged on his results. As to the author of the op-ed piece, they suggest that, if it weren’t for him and a few others, the president wouldn’t be doing good things for the country.” “Isn’t it kind of odd that everything the president’s doing, he promised to do during the campaign? He promised to cut taxes. He did. He promised to destroy ISIS. We are. He promised to nominate people from the list of 25. He’s done — picked two out of that list,” Graham said. The Senator also said he is “more excited and hopeful about North Korea than at any time in the last 30 years” and that is all due to President Trump. “That’s a darn good deal for Kim Jong-un. It’s a good deal for the world. If I were North Korea and China, I would take this deal. I wouldn’t play President Trump,” he advised. “I am more excited and hopeful about North Korea than any time in the last 30 years,” Graham said. “And the credit goes to President Trump for being strong, but also for being smart.” MARIA BARTIROMO, ‘SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES’ HOST: South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham it at all. He joins me right now to talk more about it. He sits on both the Senate Judiciary and Budget Committees. And, Senator, it is good to see this morning. Thanks for joining us. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you. Glad to be out of the hearing.
South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham was once part of the bipartisan Three Amigos group in the Senate along with John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Now Graham is devoting himself to acting as a hawkish foreign policy advisor to a president he once despised.
Statements from heads of the intelligence community and Department of Defense were released as theories flew around Washington, D.C., as to the identity of an anonymous “senior official” in the Trump administration published in the New York Times.
Fox News Published on Sep 10, 2018 Former Trump chief strategist releases new film ‘Trump @ War.’ On ‘The Ingraham Angle,’ Bannon addresses the anonymous NYT op-ed and Trump’s relationships with members of his administration.
The national security adviser issued a warning to the International Criminal Court, which he has opposed for decades
National security adviser John Bolton, a longtime critic of the International Criminal Court, to challenge the court’s jurisdiction in a speech Monday
So far, only House Democrats have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable for how they plan to handle any stolen documents that come their way.
The Secret Service is aware of Kris Paronto’s comments but has not said whether the agency is investigating.
Tom Tilley, of the ABC’s The Hack, asks Chelsea Manning this excellent question about her leaking of secret documents when a US soldier:
A U.S. judge has denied a request by a Russian woman accused of working as a foreign agent who sought to be released on bail pending her next hearing. Prosecutors have charged that Maria Butina h…
The \”attraction of American society…is today less clear\” says António Guterres, in an exclusive interview.
Staff have been evacuated and the FBI has sent agents and a Blackhawk helicopter to the site, without telling anyone what’s going on.