Information operations

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (55)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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NATO / EU / Russia Reports

UAWire – The USA begins strategic nuclear forces exercises

On Monday, October 29, the US launched its strategic nuclear forces annual exercises, Global Thunder-2019 with special emphasis on nuclear …

With Russia in its crosshairs, Canada moves to buy a sub hunter

Canada’s selection of an as-yet unproven ship that is a purpose-built sub hunter could be a sign that the nation is willing to accept the cost and schedule growth risks because of the strategic threat Russia poses.

The Real Reason France Wants a New Aircraft Carrier | The National Interest

A single nuclear carrier does not make a navy, but it does convey a certain cachet. “They still aspire to be a major player,” Shurkin says. “Having a nuclear carrier really supports that ambition.”

Romania to procure additional Patriot Air and Missile Defense systems – Defence Blog

According to a news release put out by Raytheon, the Romanian government has signed an agreement with the U.S. Army and transferred funding to the US government for the purchase of three additional Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems from the U.S. Army. As was the case with the first system, which came under contract in May, the additional units were procured via the U.S. Department of Defense’s foreign military sales process. Patriot is a purely defensive system that is the backbone of NATO’s defense against lower tier ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, advanced aircraft and drones. “Romaniais purchasing the most advanced, capable, cutting edge tactical ballistic missile defense system in the world,” saidMike Ellison, Raytheon’s country manager forRomania. “Patriot has been tested thousands of times in peace, and repeatedly proven itself in combat. Simply put, Patriot saves lives.” Fifteen other nations depend on Patriot to protect their citizens and armed forces, including the U.S. and six other European nations:Germany,Greece,the Netherlands,Spain,PolandandSweden. All ofRomania’sPatriot fire units will be newly built. And although it shares the same name and external appearance as the Patriot system that defended NATO during the Cold War, the system has been completely modernized. “Romania’sPatriot fire units will have the same hardware and software suite as the U.S. Army’s Patriot fire units,” saidMichelle DeMaio, Raytheon’s Romania Patriot program manager. “This will enhanceRomania’sability to train with the U.S. Army and other NATO allies.” Romania’sprocurement of Patriot is an important element of the country’s commitment to NATO to spend at least 2% of its Gross Domestic Product on defense. This most recent agreement marks the fulfillment of the Romanian Air Force’s plan to purchase four fire units. It also keeps the Romanian armed forces on track to acquire the seven systems Romanian senior leaders have stated they intend to obtain. The agreement betweenRomaniaand the U.S. Army sets the stage for the U.S. government to begin contract negotiations with Raytheon.

UAWire – Estonia starts a sudden call up of reservists

According to ERR news agency, the government of Estonia decided at a meeting on Wednesday, October 31 to call 1,248 reservists for additional military training. This concerns the reservists, who are assigned to the 51st Logistics Battalion and who are assigned to the unit’s mobilization reserve. The aim of additional military exercises is to review the functioning of the chain of command, starting with the decisions of the Estonian government and ending with the gathering of reservists from the rapid response units. Their combat readiness will also be checked. The Estonian government emphasized that the call up is done only for training purposes and that there is no immediate threat to the country’s security. The task of the Estonian Defense Forces is to ensure that the country is ready to handle any crisis situations, including those least likely to occur.

New Russian owl drone will hunt tanks in northern warfare

The owls are not quite what they seem.

Russia’s only aircraft carrier is damaged when dock sinks, crane punches huge hole in ship

The carrier had undergone repairs and was leaving when the floating dock sank.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Putin is the Brezhnev of Our Times’ with All the Ensuing Consequences, Rusin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 26 – Since he first rose to political prominence, people have been asking “Who is Mr. Putin?” The answers have changed over the last two decades, Aleksandr Rusin says; but today it is obvious that with age and time in office, the Kremlin leader is becoming ever more like Leonid Brezhnev – with all the ensuing consequences. Rusin, a commentator who has often criticized Putin, acknowledges that Brezhnev and Putin are completely different leaders on many measures. But because they are enough alike in certain key respects, such a comparison is extremely useful especially with regard to what is likely to happen when Putin exits the scene (publizist.ru/blogs/110401/27633/-). Brezhnev, the commentator writes, was “a communist and led the Soviet Union” and during his rule Moscow built factories, produced good films, and sent rockets into space. His era, in fact, is considered “the most successful period of Soviet history and is recalled with particular warmth and affection.” Putin in contrast is “an anti-Soviet man who threw over his service in the KGB during the August 1991 events, went over to the democrats, served Yeltsin and today continues his program. Under Putin, factories aren’t being built but downsized, films are bad and space shots are falling out of the sky.” “The people live in poverty,” Rusin continues, “and to call all this a successful period of Russian history requires that one have fallen victim to Kremlin propaganda.” These differences are so great that they appear to preclude a comparison, “but if one looks carefully, then a great deal in common between the two reveals itself, much more than at first glance.” “Yes, under Brezhnev, factories were built.” But Brezhnev didn’t do that: he simply continued on the course of his predecessors. In that sense, Putin is the same: he “hasn’t introduced anything new in industrial policy” but has simply followed the path of factory closures begun by his predecessor largely without change. What is even more striking, Rusin says, is that Brezhnev took two decisions which have shaped Putin’s approach: he chose to rely ever more heavily on the export of raw materials and the purchase of finished goods abroad, and he rejected developing computers thus putting Russia on course to fall further and further behind the West. But it isn’t just in economics that the two are similar. In foreign policy, they are as well. Brezhnev pursued détente and convergence, something that ended in 1991. And Putin sought friendship with the West, talked about partnerships and expanded contacts, although having been rejected because of his other actions, he has turned away from that approach at least for now. “Both Brezhnev and Putin became very suitable leaders for the ruling hierarchy and party elite.” The first rewarded the elite with stability and prizes; the second with stability and a blind eye to their corrupt amassing of enormous wealth. Both were loved by those immediately around them because of that and enjoyed being celebrated. Brezhnev opened the way to the embourgeoisement of the elite; Putin simply ensured that would reach its ultimate or perhaps penultimate conclusion. Both the one and the other were so popular with these senior elites that neither was or has been pushed aside even when that would serve the interests of these elites, Rusin says. These parallels have become more obvious the longer Putin has remained in office. He has now led the country 19 years, compared to Brezhnev who was the top man for 18. The attitude of the population toward each is also similar in many respects. “The enormous mass of their supporters love the one and the other, without reflecting at all about the results of their activity but simply reacting to their personal sense of well-being and stability,” the Russian commentator continues. “Stability is what Brezhnev and Putin have most in common,” stability for as long as possible, “stability ‘for our time.’” Brezhnev’s period has bene called “the era of stagnation. And this is very true.” Everything continued as before and remained in that course. But the notion of stagnation is also applicable to Putin’s time. To be sure, “the Russian economy under Putin has suffered already two crises … and they do not fit very well under the term ‘stagnation’ but if one considers the political, administrative and cadres components of his regime, it is complete stagnation,” Rusin argues. “One can say that the Brezhnev era was the period of socialist stagnation and the Putin era is that of capitalist stagnation.” Indeed, their underlying desire for stability and continuity is so strong that Putin might have behaved like Brezhnev had he been born earlier and Brezhnev like Putin if he had been born later. Putin therefore, Rusin insists, is “our contemporary Brezhnev.” But this analogy is not meant to be funny. And it is less important for what it says about either man than about what Russia faces when such people leave the scene. “With the exit of Brezhnev, the era of stability ended” not accidentally as some think but because of the way he ruled. “Something similar will begin after Putin’s exit,” the commentator says, although there will be many differences. But one thing is clear: stagnation for long periods leads to convulsions when those periods end – and after Putin, the crises Russians have somehow survived under his rule are likely to take on a completely different dimension than those after Brezhnev.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Trust the CIA more than the FSB – and 8 More ‘Only in Russia’ Stories This Week

Paul Goble Staunton, October 26 – Almost nine out of ten Russians in a completely unrepresentative sample surveyed by a Telegram author says that they trust the US Central Intelligence Agency more than they do their own FSB at least when it comes to being monitored by such institutions (rusmonitor.com/rossiyane-bolshe-doveryayut-amerikanskomu-cru-chem-rodnojj-fsb.html). That is just one of the continuing flow of such unusual “only in Russia stories” that come out of that country every day. In the last several, there have been at least eight more worthy of note: 1. Moscow’s Russia-1 channel interviewed a young woman who had already been listed as dead by officials about the Kerch shooting tragedy. Her friends said that the 16-year-old interviewed didn’t sound at all like the girl they remembered. The Fake News program on YouTube called attention to this intriguing situation, and Russian outlets have had a field day with it (belsat.eu/ru/news/vedushhaya-rossijskogo-telekanala-vzyala-intervyu-u-pogibshej-v-kerchi/). 2. Russia’s consumer protection agency investigated reports that a favorite kind of Russian sausage had been adulterated. It reported that it didn’t find any dog meat or toilet paper but that it did find DNA suggesting that some horse meat had been mixed in (kp.ru/daily/26894/3942610/). 3. Some Russian politicians who don’t like recent poll results have come up with a solution right out of Costa Gavras’s classic film Z: they’ve called for banning sociology and sociologists from Russia (blog.newsru.com/article/23oct2018/sociology). 4. The Duma member who wanted to ban sex between Russians and visitors to the World Cup competition has now come up with a new idea: she says that Moscow should ban and then shut down all online acquaintance sites (versia.ru/otgovarivavshaya-rossiyanok-ot-seksa-s-inostrancami-vo-vremya-chm-2018-deputat-predlozhila-zapretit-sajty-znakomstv). 5. Activists in Kazan have symbolically buried what they say are the “victims” of the Putin regime. Among those for whom tombstones have been set up are the constitution, elections, and the independence of the courts (idelreal.org/a/29562819.html). 6. Many have been struck by the all-too-obvious incompetence of Russian security service operatives in the Skripal case and in issuing passports to GRU officers with sequential numbers. But now they have another target for criticism or laughter. It has been discovered that Google maps can locate nuclear bunkers in Kaliningrad (topcor.ru/3074-kak-amerikancy-nashli-hranilische-jadernyh-zarjadov-v-kaliningrade-cherez-google-maps.html). 7. At a time when the Russian government is reducing benefits, educational opportunities and medical care for the population, that same government has reported that there are now more officials per capita than at any time in Russia’s history (newsland.com/community/4765/content/strana-chinovnikov-rossiia-bet-rekordy-po-kolichestvu-gossluzhashchikh/6525048). 8. And Russians are now drinking more, not only vodka as the regime might prefer given the taxes it collects (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BD2DF9DBF75F) but also less expensive and more dangerous moonshine (samogon). The evidence for that? Sugar prices are soaring, at least in part because it is an important component for making booze (rbc.ru/business/26/10/2018/5bd1a0019a7947ada2faa76d?from=main).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Views Russians’ Growing Indifference as Green Light for More Repression, Ponomaryev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 26 – The Putin regime views the growing indifference of the Russian population to what it has been doing as a green light for the powers that be to become increasingly repressive, human rights activist Lev Ponomaryev says, raising the possibility that the country is indeed on its way to a repetition of 1937. In an essay in Nezavisimaya gazeta, the longtime head of the For Human Rights movement says that during his career he has noted that “the will of people to resist” what the government is doing has been “falling,” with ever more people fatalistically assuming that “a new 1937” is on its way (ng.ru/kartblansh/2018-10-25/3_7340_kartb.html). Such popular attitudes, Ponomaryev continues, make that outcome ever more likely because just as in the 1920s, the regime is moving step by step to tighten the screws and views the population’s acceptance passive or not as an indication that it can continue to do what it is doing and add to it. He stresses that Russia has not yet returned to the conditions of 1937 but notes that one can easily see moves in that direction in various trumped up cases the government has brought, the convictions it has secured, and the punishments it has imposed – and especially in the fact that these actions of the regime have not sparked outrage and resistance by the population. Future historians will be able to specify when the new 1937 arrived, Ponomaryov says, “but now we can say why it is coming – as a result of the indifference of the society” and the failure of all but a microscopic number of activists to protest, the number of which is constantly falling because they are being attacked as “foreign agents.” Russians today appear to have forgotten, he continues, that the original 1937 would not have been possible had the Soviet regime not been able to secure at least the passive acceptance of the population in the years leading up to that national tragedy. If people had resisted, the regime would have crushed them but might have slowed or stopped the march to disaster. But the regime then and again now uses not just its punitive powers but its propaganda to promote the notion that anyone who is upset with what the regime is doing is a social isolate “without any support from the population.” In fact, many would support a more heroic resistance even if they themselves wouldn’t take part in it, at least at first, Ponomaryev argues. “It is obvious,” he says, “that today there much greater freedom than there was in the 1930s.” But then as now, there is little willingness to resist in order to ensure those freedoms will not be lost. A few Russians are are doing so; but most are passively waiting – and their passivity is being read now as then as an indication that the powers that be can do what they want. Indeed, Ponomaryev continues, there is an increasingly widespread sense that a new 1937 is coming and that there is nothing Russians can do about it. “People are not going into the streets although there are hundreds of reasons to do so. And there is the feeling that a collective Stockholm syndrome is at work.” The Kremlin is counting on that just as Stalin did; its denizens need to be disabused of the idea – and that will only happen if Russians begin to protest against what the regime is doing and resist its most odious actions. If that doesn’t happen, then the feeling that a new 1937 is approaching will be confirmed, to the detriment of all.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Anti-Establishment Wave’ like Those in UK and US May Engulf Russia, Minchenko Consulting Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 26 – As a result of a decline in social well-being, the weakening of the position of United Russia, and the increasing strength of populist politicians, a Minchenko Consulting study says, “Russia has fallen under an anti-establishment wave” like those which have already engulfed Great Britain with Brexit and the US with the victory of Donald Trump. That development, the group says in a 28-page paper entitled The New Political Reality and the Risks of an Anti-Elite Wave in Russia based on a poll and a series of focus groups (minchenko.ru/netcat_files/userfiles/AntiEliteMC.pdf) means that Russia now faces a rising tide of political struggle other than via elections, including protests and even revolution. Cf. znak.com/2018-10-25/razocharovanie_naseleniya_i_ugroza_revolyucii_vyshel_novyy_doklad_ob_antielitoy_voyne_v_rossii “We encountered the Brexit effect,” the study says, “when the communication strategy of the authorities which had worked earlier has failed” under the impact of “populist attitudes and the popularity of populist political projects.” They then propose a series of measures to slay “’the dragon of populism’” ranging from censorship and force to adopting populist rhetoric. More Russians are now dissatisfied with life than satisfied, 52 percent to 45 percent, Minchenko Consulting says. The standard of living is falling, social supports are weaking, prices and taxes are going up, corruption is widespread, and regional and social stratification is increasing, it continues. What Russians had viewed as “’stability,’” the report says, they now are inclined to view as “stagnation.” They are increasingly apathetic, but they also want to express their unhappiness via elections. But 42 percent say that “none of the existing political parties expresses their interests” so they have no channel in that sphere. That lack of representation within the party system in turn is leading to the growth of protest activity, Minchenko Consulting suggests. Up to now, this protest is about very narrow issues and is territorially dispersed. But with time, it may become more generalized and more united across the country. As that happens, the experts who compiled the report say, the federal center will either have to “create a new party” to draw off the protesters or “carry out an institutional reform of the entire political party system as a whole” lest the protests become increasingly powerful and lead to the formation of a new party “’from below’” that could challenge the powers that be. The Minchenko expers say that there are several possible scenarios by which this could happen: the most likely of which is “the return of party blocs” that would allow “the rebranding of United Russia. But there could also be the formation of new parties on the left and right or from the regions. If nothing changes in the next two or three years, the report warns, Russia will approach “an inert scenario” in which the existing parliamentary parties will “slowly die” but one where the opportunities for the formation of new parties will be extremely limited. That could lead to the rise of more independent parties and major losses for the party of power. In the worst case, the current parties could find their influence reduced to nothing; and the population would turn to “non-electoral forms of political struggle” that the powers that be would have to come up with various means to counter.

‘They Served The Cheka’: Provincial Russian Billboards Honor Stalin’s Executioners

VLADIMIR, Russia — Anna Galinkina, the local coordinator of the liberal Parnas political movement in the central Russian city of Vladimir and an editor at Tomiks-TV, was appalled recently to see portraits of Stalin-era secret-police officers festooning celebratory billboards at local bus stops. Her father, Zinovy Galinkin, was sent to the gulag shortly after World War II on flimsy accusations of “anti-Soviet propaganda,” and she resents the rehabilitation of those who persecuted her family under the government of President Vladimir Putin. “Today it is obvious that they’ve removed their masks,” Galinkina tells RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “The ruling corporate elite of heirs of the Soviet chekists” — a reference to the former secret police — “are openly taking revenge on those who refuse to let society forget about the crimes of their predecessors.” Putin and many of his closest advisers are veterans of the Soviet KGB. Over the nearly two decades that Putin has been in power, Russia has seen the steady buffing of the image of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and efforts to downplay the significance of his crimes against his own people. The Vladimir billboard campaign, created by the local museum of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor organization to the KGB, features portraits and short, sanitized biographies of officers who served in the Soviet security services.

Federation Council speaker says there’s no more anti-Semitism or xenophobia in Russia — Meduza

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko declared on Monday that there is no anti-Semitism or xenophobia in Russia today, crediting the government’s crackdown on extremism and hate speech. Speaking at a conference in Moscow dedicated to countering anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism, Matviyenko warned that anti-Semitism has “activated” in Europe and other countries “that position themselves as a model for civilization, democracy, respect for human rights, and freedom.” At the same conference, Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner announced that anti-Semitism is at an all-time low in Eastern Europe today. “This is especially clear against the background of the tragic events that occurred on Saturday at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in the United States,” Kanner said.

The election commissioner who oversaw Yeltsin’s 1996 re-election now accuses the West of trying to destroy Russia and unseat Putin — Meduza

Former Russian Central Elections Commissioner Nikolai Ryabov said at a conference on October 25 that “extremely trying times” await the country, as Western nations try to meddle in Russian politics. The West’s strategic goal, Ryabov said, is the total dissolution of the Russian Federation, while the tactical objective in the U.S. and Western Europe remains the ouster of President Vladimir Putin.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Xenophobia among Russians Higher Now than in 1991 but Directed at Different Targets, Levada Center Polls Show

Paul Goble Staunton, October 29 –Lev Gudkov, the head of the Levada Center polling agency, says that the level of xenophobic attitudes in Russia is higher than it was when the Soviet Union came apart but somewhat lower than in was in 2013 and very much directed against different groups now than earlier. Anti-Semitic attacks are lower, he says, but “the level of diffuse, mass xenophobia has increased significantly.” Anti-Caucasian attitudes have now given way to anti-Roma and anti-immigrant views, especially towards gastarbeiters from Central Asia, and racist attitudes toward Chinese and Afro-Americans” (newsru.com/russia/29oct2018/xeno.html). The core group of xenophobes, the sociologist continues, “forms from eight to 15 percent of the adult population, increasing to 20 percent at moments of serious social crises.” Around them are sympathizers with racist views “but are not ready to open action in support of them,” polls suggest. That means that 45 percent – nearly half of the population – is ready to support repressive measures against migrants or people of different nationalities by the state, Gudkov continues. He says that the views of most Russians can be characterized as “’latent aggressiveness” that will come out if the state indicates its support for them or at least stands aside. Perhaps most worrisome, Gudkov says, is that there has been “a weakening of the immunity [of Russians] against xenophobia and anti-Semitism. If in the mid-1990s, about half of the population spoke out against any forms of xenophobia and racism, today, only 25-30 percent” do the same. In response to the horrific attack on the synagogue in Pittsburg, Berl Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia, said that something like that could happen in Russia although he welcomed the decline in anti-Semitic attitudes he sees and the backing of the state against any manifestation of anti-Semitism (ng.ru/faith/2018-10-29/2_7342_lazar.html). Attacks like the one in Pittsburg, he said, “can take place anywhere … in Russia today, the situation is better than in Europe and even in America,” a major change from the 1990s when “the level in Russia was worse than in either of them.” Even so, there is anti-Semitism in Russia in everyday life, online and in the media. That is “worrisome.” Moscow commentator Igor Yakovenko points to an even more worrisome possibility. He argues that “state anti-Semitism in Putin’s Russia is ‘our armored train’ which stands in reserve. The principle of proletarian internationalism, one of the cornerstones of Soviet ideology, did not interfere with Stalin’s state anti-Semitism” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BCEC57482A22). “For Putin,” Yakovenko continues, “who does not have any ideology in his head at all, there are no obstacles to including anti-Semitic rhetoric at the state level. There can be any of a number of causes: from deteriorating relations with Israel in Syria to the need to find a new internal enemy.” “The most curious thing is that the Satanovs, Solovyevs, Kemis, and others are completely able to stand at the head of the column of the pogromshchiks. Remember the Anti-Zionist Committee of Soviet society? Something like that could be created in Putin’s Russia from among the Russian ‘Jew-Patriots’” as soon as the Kremlin gives the word.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Media Treat ‘Ethnic Russian’ and ‘Non-Ethnic Russian’ as Synonymous, New Study Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 27 – Given debates over whether Moscow should promote “non-ethnic Russian” (rossiisky) as the chief identity of the population of the Russian Federation or stress the multi-national character of the population by talking about “ethnic Russians” (russkiye) and others, one might have expected Moscow media would carefully distinguish between the two. In fact, based on the examination of 410 media texts during the first seven months of this year, sociologist Olga Solodovnikova of the Stol.kom Analytic Center says she found that the media treat the two terms as synonyms, a pattern that she told a roundtable this week that she did not expect (ej.ru/?a=note&id=33056). What that suggests, of course, is that the distinction which is so important to Russian nationalists and non-Russians as a whole is much less important for the powers that be, a finding which means that Moscow can move between them more easily than many had thought downgrading the ethnic component of identity of both Russians and non-Russians. Solodovnikova said she and her colleagues also found that the Moscow media today make almost no distinction between “Russian” even in the ethnic sense and “Soviet” which is definitely not an ethnic term. When the media use either, however, they almost always consider the identity in terms of its link to the state. She conceded that the investigation “had given rise to more questions than answers” because the terms involved are in motion and constantly gaining new connotations and losing old ones. Five of the experts taking part in the round table agreed with that assessment. Ethno-sociologist Emil Pain suggested that the study showed that the Russian population was now “pregnant” with a civic nation, but philosopher Grigory Yudin said he was not so sure. There are no clear definitions and consequently no clear distinctions that allow for any such conclusion. Georgy Kochetkov, an Orthodox priest, said that in his view there is as yet no agreed upon collective term for the identities of the population. One may yet emerge, but it is far from clear just which one it will be and what that will mean for the various groups in the population or for the state. Olga Vendina, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, cautioned against making sharp distinctions, something she says that often happens when one talks about identity. And journalist Mitya Aleshkovsky suggested that research on this issue would be strengthened by including Russian nationalist sites which have their own point of view on this.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: For Moscow, Non-Russians Abroad with Roots in Russia aren’t Russian Compatriots

Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – Once again, Moscow is hosting a World Congress of Russian Compatriots (rossiiskiye sootechestvennniki); and once again, no non-Russians have been invited, a pattern that undercuts Kremlin claims that it views the non-Russians as genuinely part of the broader non-Russian nation Vladimir Putin is constantly talking about. “We do not divide people by nationality or citizenship,” Ilya Dorofeyev of the Russian Foreign Ministry says; but among the 400 delegates from 98 countries at the Moscow meeting this week, there is not a single non-ethnic Russian. Instead, all are ethnic Russians and all the focus is on ethnic Russian issues (kavkazr.com/a/kavkaztsev-ne-priglasili/29570492.html). Among the topics to be discussed are: “The Preservation of Ethnic Russian Identity: The Support of Russian-Language Education,” “The Media of the Ethnic Russian Diaspora in the Contemporary World,” “The Defense of the Rights and Legitimate Interests of Compatriots,” and so on. There is not a single session on non-Russians or non-Russian issues; and representatives of non-Russians within the Russian Federation who have significant co-ethnic communities are anything but pleased about this. Among the angriest are the Circassians whose co-ethnics in the Middle East very much want to return to their homeland but have been largely blocked. Asker Sokht, the head of the Adyge Khase in Krasnodar, is among them. “Is there no need to preserve the identity of Circassians or Tatars abroad?” The Russian foreign ministry “should be interested” in them as well – or at a minimum to explain exactly why not given Moscow’s claims that it now supports a non-ethnic Russian identity for the country. Nusreta Basha, the head of the Circassian Federation in Turkey, tells Laris Cherkes of Radio Liberty that “no one invited” any Circassians there to the meeting. “No one works with us.” Had we been invited, we would have come, she continues. “We don’t like the policy of Russia with regard to the Circassians.” Basha continues: “A large part of the Circassians is in the diaspora.” (She doesn’t say but most estimates put the figure at above 90 percent, with more than five million Circassians living abroad and only about 500,000 in the North Caucasus.) “Russia closes its eyes and doesn’t see the Circassians and we do not agree with this.” Khafitse Mukhamed of the Adyge Khase in Kabardino-Balkaria is equally angry. He says no one told his group about the meeting despite the fact that many Circassians would have been interested in attending. And indeed, Cherkes says, that problem is general: no one in Circassian communities abroad or within the borders of the Russian Federation heard about the session. The message to non-Russian groups abroad is clear: if you are not ethnically Russian, you aren’t a Russian compatriot. But the message to non-Russians within the current borders of the Russian Federation is equally so: when Moscow says rossiisky, the Russian world for non-ethnic Russian, it only has in mind russky, the Russian word for the ethnic group.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Nationality Strategy Opens Way to More Russian Chauvinism and Drive toward a Unitary State, Pain and Arutyunov Say

Paul Goble Staunton, October 27 – The much-delayed new edition of Moscow’s “Strategy for the State Nationality Policy of the Russian Federation” that was presented to Vladimir Putin yesterday opens the way to both the growth of great power chauvinism and a new attack on Russian federalism, according to two of the country’s most distinguished specialists. The document, which Putin asked for more than two years ago and which was supposed to lead to a law defining the non-ethnic Russian nation but hasn’t, at least not yet, has attracted most attention from Russians and non-Russians for its elaboration of two controversial concepts, the non-ethnic Russian nation and the state-forming role of the ethnic Russian one. Those remain extremely controversial. Both ethnic Russians and non-Russians see the notion of a non-ethnic Russian nation as a threat, in the first case because they believe that it dilutes the special nature of the Russian ethnic nation and in the second because they see it as opening the way to a new wave of mass assimilation directed against them. And the document’s support for the ethnic Russians as the state-forming nation at the same time raises problems as well. On the one hand, it appears to contradict the notion of a supra-national non-ethnic Russian nation; and on the other, it certainly formalizes a hierarchy of nations within the Russian Federation with the Russians at the top and the others below. Many Russian nationalists are welcoming the new document, describing it as opening the way to “a new order” in Moscow’s nationality policy (m.fontanka.ru/2018/10/24/068/, http://nazaccent.ru/content/28507-strategiya-2-0.html and topwar.ru/148881-sensacija-v-rossii-pojavjatsja-russkie.html “new order.” And for exactly the reasons they are, both non-Russians and specialists on ethnic conflict are expressing concern about what it will mean both to everyone who isn’t an ethnic Russian and to the structures and laws that have provided the non-Russians with at least a minimal defense against the centralizing and Russian-nationalizing impulses of the center. Lyailya Mustafina of Radio Svoboda’s IdelReal portal interviewed three of the most important. Margarita Lyange, head of the Guild of Inter-Ethnic Journalism, said the reason the strategy document had not been finished before now is that Russian nationalists wanted it to tilt even more in their direction than it does (idelreal.org/a/29565691.html). Emil Pain, an ethno-sociologist who is perhaps Russia’s most distinguished specialists on ethnic conflict, said that the document was “extraordinarily eclectic,” simultaneously drawing ideas from the theories of civic nationhood and invoking others that have a direct relationship to “the idea of an imperial organization of society and a hierarchy of ethnic groups.” The latter appears to be the more important in terms of what Moscow is likely to do next, the ethnic conflict specialist says, and reflects a victory for Russian nationalists, “both pro-Kremlin and anti-Kremlin,” who have “struggled for several generations” to declare the ethnic Russians the state-forming and dominant nation. The authorities, Pain continues, had tried to avoid making this concession in the past, but over the last year, Kremlin decisions and especially the elimination of the requirement that students in the non-Russian republics study the language of the titular nationality, show the direction the wind is blowing in Moscow. A third expert, Sergey Arutyunov, an ethnographer who specializes on the North Caucasus, says that the new strategy document strengthens the already requite strong “unitarist tendencies” in Russian society and points to a further degradation of what remains of federalism. According to him, this will lead to “a dead end” and “nothing good.” The three Russian experts are almost certainly right on all points; but it should be kept in mind that strategy documents in the Russian system are not laws and are typically crafted in such a way that leaders can pick and choose what portions of them they will in fact insist on and what ones they will ignore. That makes the comments of Putin and two others directly involved with the preparation of this document especially important. First, Putin himself indicated in accepting the document that he would show far more understanding to ethnic Russian concerns than to any non-Russian ones (lenta.ru/news/2018/10/26/gipsy/). The Kremlin leader suggested that it was entirely understandable why ethnic Russians don’t want to live near Roma encampments because the latter are centers of crime and the drug trade, an ethnic slur that almost certainly will be read by some Russians as an indication that hostility to non-Russians will be defended at the highest levels. Second, Oleg Melnichenko, head of the Federation Council committee on federalism, said that the new document needed to be revised even before it is finally confirmed because it does not correspond to the requirements of the already approved Strategy on the Special Development of Russia (nazaccent.ru/content/28510-chleny-soveta-po-mezhnacionalnym-otnosheniyam-predstavili.html). Academic Valery Tishkov, a former nationalities minister and head of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and a leading proponent of civic Russian national identity, agreed and extended Melnichenko’s words to suggest Moscow should stop deferring to the titular nationalities of non-Russian republics on appointments but select the best people regardless of ethnicity. That may sound neutral and anodyne, but it was Mikhail Gorbachev’s moves in that direction, declared even before he became CPSU leader, that triggered violence in Kazakhstan when he replaced an ethnic Kazakh with an ethnic Russian in December 1986 and were a significant contributing factor to the disintegration of the USSR. And third, Tishkov himself suggested that the new strategy document should lead Moscow to change the way it handles nationality and language in the upcoming 2020 all-Russian census (nazaccent.ru/content/28509-prezidentu-predlozhili-obnovit-etnicheskuyu-chast-vserossijskoj.html). He said that “it is necessary to shift from the practice of requiring respondents to indicate their nationality only according to one of their parents and their native language as the language of the corresponding nationality.” That too may sound neutral and even respectable, but it has some potentially negative consequences for non-Russians first of all and ethnic Russians as well. On the one hand, it will muddy the waters as to what nation an individual belongs to, weaken that attachment and allow officials to decide even more than now which one he or she is a member of. And on the other, it will almost certainly be used by those who think as Tishkov does to water down the share of non-Russians in the non-Russian republics and thus provide a superficially plausible justification for doing away with such republics by combining them with predominantly ethnic Russian regions.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s Force Structure Suggests Kremlin More Concerned about Internal Enemies than Foreign Ones, Baranov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 27 – Russian officials are increasingly declaring that Moscow is preparing for war, Anatoly Baranov notes, but they seldom point to the fact that the force structure the Kremlin has developed suggests that it is more concerned about conducting a war against its domestic enemies than against its foreign foes. The Russian army has approximately 900,000 people in uniform, less than a fifth of the number it had at the end of Soviet times and 300,000 less than North Korea has at present, the editor of the Forum.MSK portal says. But the number of personnel in organs charged with domestic control is vastly larger (publizist.ru/blogs/33/27653/-). Russia’s interior ministry currently has almost as many employees as the army does, 894,000; the recently created and rapidly expanding Russian Guard has 340,000 more; and the FSB, which keeps its total staff numbers a secret, nonetheless is estimated to have upwards of 250,000, for a total of a half a million more than the army, Baranov continues. Of course, not all of these forces are directed at the suppression of domestic enemies, Baranov concedes; but enough are to raise some questions not now being asked: just whom is the Kremlin preparing to go to war with: the NATO countries or its own people? The answer is less clear than one would like, Baranov concludes.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Allowing Russian Citizens to Declare Dual Identities Could Cut Size of Some Nations by 9 to 11 Percent, Drobizheva Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 28 – Former Nationalities Minister Valery Tishkov is calling for the 2020 Russian census to allow people to declare more than one ethnic identity and more than one native language, a development that Moscow ethno-sociologist Leokadiya Drobizheva says could have far-reaching consequences for some regions and republics. Academician Tishkov made his proposal this week at a meeting between Russia’s ethnic specialists and Vladimir Putin about the new nationality strategy document now up for approval (nazaccent.ru/content/28509-prezidentu-predlozhili-obnovit-etnicheskuyu-chast-vserossijskoj.html; cf. windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/10/new-nationality-strategy-opens-way-to.html). Drobizheva, the director of the Moscow Center for Research on Inter-Ethnic Relations of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology who also attended that meeting, has commented on Tishkov’s proposal in an interview with Gulnaz Badretdin of Kazan’s Business-Gazeta portal (business-gazeta.ru/article/400579). If Tishkov’s proposal is accepted, the ethno-sociologist says, it would permit recording in the census data not now collected. Someone could say that he or she identifies as a Tatar or Bashkir but by culture “more Russian,” or alternatively, that he or she is “basically a Russian but has traditional Tatar/Bashkir culture.” These are, of course very different things and part of the multiplicity of identities people actually have, Drobizheva continues. Tishkov wants this diversity to be recorded in the census [but] whether that is possible and to what degree is something which is still being discussed.” Asked if this change in the census could lead to conflicts because some national groups will fear that “by this bureaucratic means,” their numbers will be reduced and thus their power and influence along with it, Drobizheva responds with words that deserve the closest possible attention for what they say about how Moscow views ethnicity and ethnic activism now. “If you consider people who are ethnically active,” the ethno-sociologist continues, noting that she “does not want to call them nationalists although the term ‘nationalism’ with us is becoming ambiguous. Earlier a nationalist was someone who poorly related to people of other nationalities; but no even the president uses the term ‘nationalism’ in the civic sense, to designate an individual who is concerned about his nation, his people and his ethnic group.” Consequently, Drobizheva says, “people whom we could call nationalists in this way are those who are concerned about this and who consider that their people should have more rights or they will suffer.” And for such people, the issue of the size of a nation is critical because size matters. Identification by people with more than one nation will have an impact on the size of some peoples. “Therefore, for them,” she says, “this will be viewed as a loss of what they have achieved in history. That is certainly possible.” And “for certain territories, of course, this could have even more importance than for those republics” named for the main nationality. Even for them, this reduction in numbers would be relatively small, perhaps “9 to 11 percent of their population,” a figure that could be really important for some of the smaller nationalities in the Russian Federation, Drobizheva says, but not for larger nations like the Tatars because the latter “have very stable self-consciousness.” The Moscow ethno-sociologist does not address the following issue, but it is one that is certainly on the minds of many non-Russians. If Tishkov’s proposal is accepted and if residents of Russia can declare more than one ethnic identity and more than one native language, Moscow will be able to decide how to allocate the results. Almost certainly in the current environment, the Russian authorities will use such reporting to boost the number of ethnic Russians who have been declining in size relative to other national groups and boost the number of people who speak Russian while reducing the number who speak non-Russian languages. The Putin regime beyond doubt would use the first tactic to suggest that it had solved the demographic problems of the ethnic Russian nation and the second to call for a further contraction of schools and institutions in non-Russian languages. And it would likely use both to push for an end to the non-Russian republics or at a minimum further reduce their special rights.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Entire Post-Soviet Elite Came Out of the Komsomol, Savelyeva Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 29 – “The entire present-day post-Soviet establishment came out of the Komsomol,” Olga Savelyeva of Profile says. In part that is simply a reflection of the experience of the generation of which they are a part; but it is more than that because the Komsomol more than almost any other institution shaped them into what they are now. Some of the elite remember their Komsomol years with affection; others prefer to forget it; but it is a mistake to ignore this page in their biographies, the commentator says, because “thanks to the Komsomol,” they were formed in ways that allowed them to become senior officials and businessmen (profile.ru/obsch/item/127360-biznes-inkubator-imeni-v-i-lenina). On this, the centenary of the founding of the largest and most important communist youth organization, Savelyeva says, “any normal individual over 40 will recall it with a certain nostalgia,” especially given that nothing has taken its place in the 27 years since it was formally disbanded. Millions of young Soviet citizens passed through Komsomol ranks, but to make her point, Savelyeva lists and describes some of those who were active leaders of the Komsomol in the past and now occupy prominent positions in Russian political, cultural, educational, and economic life. Among the ones she describes are Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Accounting Chamber head Aleksey Kudrin, deputy head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko, Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov. Duma deputy Gennady Onishchenko, Academician Zhores Alferov, Just Russia party chief Sergey Mironov, artist Igor Butman, Economic Development Minister German Gref, businessman Alisher Usmanov, former YUKOS head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Senator Sergey Lisovsky. Savelyeva could have extended this list almost at will. But even her collection shows that the Komsomol has served as “a forge of cadres” not only in Soviet times but since. And because the youngest Komsomol activists at the end of the USSR are now only in their 40s, the habits of mind they acquired in that organization will play a role in Russia at least for another generation. Many observers of the Russian scene focus on the role of former members of the CPSU or even more the security organs in shaping Russian political life; but in reality, the Komsomol may ultimately prove to be more important both in terms of numbers and length of impact. It thus deserves at least as much study as the other institutions.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Chechens Bribing Their Way into Russian Army; Those Drafted in Occupied Crimea Seek to Avoid Service

Paul Goble Staunton, October 28 – The fall draft into the Russian armed services began on October 1, and the responses to it vary widely from region to region. In Chechnya, for example, there are at least five young men who want to serve for every draft slot and they are bribing officials to try to get in. In Russian-occupied Crimea, many in the draft pool are seeking to avoid service. This year, the Russian armed services have a draft quota of 500 for the Chechen Republic. That is only a fifth of the number of young men who would like to serve, and many are offering bribes of 250,000 rubles (4,000 US dollars) in hopes of getting in, Mansur Magomalov of Prague’s Caucasus Times reports (caucasustimes.com/ru/chechency-platjat-za-sluzhbu-v-armii/). This situation is a remarkable turnabout from a decade ago when Chechens didn’t want to serve and Russian officers didn’t want to have them in the ranks. It reflects the appearance of a new generation that didn’t live through the war, the desire for good pay and a military ticket to get police jobs at home, and the status Chechen veterans of fighting in Ukraine and Syria have. For the first 22 years after the end of the USSR, Moscow didn’t draft anyone from Chechnya. Now, the huge size of the draft pool there – there are more than 80,000 Chechen men between the ages of 18 and 27 – gives Moscow little choice but to take some, something it has done since 2014. But the number Moscow is prepared to draft remains relatively small compared to that draft cohort and to the demand to serve because while younger Chechens may have no memory of the two post-Soviet Chechen wars, senior officers now often began their careers in those conflicts and don’t want Chechens in the ranks. Most Chechen draftees will serve in their own republic or no further away than elsewhere in the North Caucasus. But approximately 100 of the 500 drafted this cycle will serve in the Russian Guard, Putin’s Praetorians whom the Kremlin may use to suppress protests and demonstrations. Meanwhile, according to a report in Censoru.net, the occupation authorities in Crimea are having some difficulty filling the 2800 draft slots they have been allotted. Not only does Kyiv oppose their service in the Russian army, but most of those will be sent far from home, including to the Far North. Not surprisingly, given resistance, Russian officials are now taking measures to try to ensure that all those drafted do serve and that those who avoid service are brought to justice and punished (censoru.net/30449-krymchan-otpravjat-sluzhit-v-rossijskuju-armiju-na-krajnij-sever-voenkom-kryma.html). What is striking here is not only the difference in attitude toward service but the size of the draft quotas: Moscow is seeking nearly six times as many draftees in Crimea as it is in Chechnya even though the population of the former is only about 50 percent larger, an indication of what Russian officers and Moscow would like and how they evaluate the value of the two.

Ingushetia’s Constitutional Court says the controversial border deal with Chechnya is unconstitutional. Does that mean the protesters have won? — Meduza

On October 4, Ingushetia’s Parliament approved an agreement with the neighboring Chechen Republic redrawing parts of their shared boundary. The controversial deal sparked mass protests in Ingushetia, where demonstrators argue that the agreement unfairly divides the borderlands. The deal’s opponents say Ingushetia shouldn’t cede any territory to Chechnya. On October 30, the Ingush Constitutional Court ruled that the border agreement violates Ingushetia’s Constitution. Meduza looks at whether this decision could be enough to force the Ingush authorities to abandon their deal with Chechnya.

Ingushetian Court Declares Divisive Border Deal With Chechnya Illegal

The Constitutional Court in Russia’s Ingushetia region has ruled that a law designed to support a controversial border agreement with neighboring Chechnya is illegal.

Experts point to flaws in official version of Kerch massacre probe | UNIAN

A number of inconsistencies have been found in the official version of Kerch massacre probe in relation to the suicide of a “lone shooter” Vladislav Roslyakov. Journalists say the fatal wound of the Kerch shooter, who authorities say committed suicide, does not correspond to the caliber of the weapon he carried.

The terrorist attack on a Federal Security Service branch in Arkhangelsk: what we know, so far — Meduza

There was an explosion at the Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Arkhangelsk on the morning of October 31. According to Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, the bomb detonated inside the building’s entrance at 8:52 a.m. A man entered the building removed an unidentified object from his bag, and sometime later the object exploded, killing the perpetrator and inflicting injuries of varying severity on three FSB officers.

Russian teen blows himself up in FSB building, prompting terrorism investigation

Russia opened an investigation into suspected terrorism after a 17- year-old blew himself up Wednesday in the lobby of Russia’s Federal Security Service, injuring three people.

After The Arrests: Russian Teens Tell Of Disrupted Lives Since Protests

Some of the teens who were among the hundreds of detained protesters at demonstrations in September talked to RFE/RL about how the authorities have handled their cases and how they and their parents have been threatened and harassed.

Moscow court slaps independent magazine with crippling 22-million-ruble fine for late paperwork — Meduza

On October 26, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court fined the independent magazine The New Times and its chief editor, Evgeniya Albats, 22 million rubles ($335,000) for failing to report the outlet’s funding in a timely manner to federal media regulators. Albats and her lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, argue that the statute of limitations had already expired in the misdemeanor case, saying that the authorities only decided to pursue the charges seriously after October 22, when Albats hosted anti-corruption activist and opposition politician Alexey Navalny on her radio show.

Pro-Kremlin activists reportedly trash the Nemtsov memorial (again), this time destroying the wreath left by John Bolton — Meduza

Members of the pro-Kremlin SERB movement reportedly destroyed the Boris Nemtsov memorial at the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in Moscow, maintained at the site of the politician’s murder in 2015. According to the website MBKh Media, the group showed up on October 30, led by Igor Beketov, and proceeded to tear apart and trash the wreaths and portraits left to commemorate the assassinated deputy prime minister.

As mayor of a town outside Moscow, Pyotr Lazarev granted permits to protesters. Now he’s resigned amid rumors that it might spare him criminal charges. — Meduza

Volokolamsk Mayor Pyotr Lazarev has resigned, officially for “health reasons.” Tatiana Mozol, the city’s first deputy head, will take over his duties, according to the news agency TASS. Asked by Meduza if he resigned by choice or under pressure, Lazarev refused to comment. Regarding his health, the outgoing mayor said his condition started to decline during local protests against the “Yadrovo” landfill, “when I was trying to fix something,” Lazarev told Meduza.

Russian activist files first-ever lawsuit against Vkontakte for sharing user data with the police — Meduza

Liliya Chanysheva, an activist who works at Alexey Navalny’s headquarters in St. Petersburg is suing the social network Vkontakte for disclosing users’ personal information to Russian law enforcement. According to Chanysheva’s lawyer, police have tried to justify the information collection by citing two federal laws, though both these laws limit law enforcement’s information-gathering powers to “exclusively within the scope of their authorities, or in relation to misdemeanor or felony investigations.”

OSCE Slams Moscow For Heavy Fine Against Independent News Website

The media-freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has condemned an “exceptionally high” fine imposed on October 26 by a Moscow court against the ind…

Diabetics Aid Group Labeled ‘Foreign Agent’ In Russia Says It Will Shut Down

A group providing aid to diabetics in the Russian city of Saratov says it is no longer able to conduct its operations after being labeled a “foreign agent” and will shut down.

Muscovites Read Out Names Of Stalin’s Victims

Hundreds of people have gathered in Moscow to read out the names of people killed in Josef Stalin’s 1930’s repressions. This year city authorities withdrew permission for the annual event, but later relented after a public outcry.

Russians Remember Victims Of Stalin’s Great Terror

An annual ceremony honoring the memory of thousands of men and women executed by the Soviet authorities during Josef Stalin’s Great Terror is under way in Moscow.

Protesters Arrested In Moscow

Eighteen people were detained during an unauthorized protest in Moscow on October 28. The protest was in support of 10 Russians facing extremism charges in a case over a group known as the New Greatness.

Petersburg Police Detain New Greatness Protesters

Several dozen protesters have reportedly been detained in Russia’s St. Petersburg.

Russia’s Views Of Domestic Violence

A new study finds that almost 20% of Russians approve of the use of violence against their spouse or children.

Scores detained in Russian protests against extremist case – ABC News

Young Russians allegedly took part in group that aimed to overthrow government.

Kerch shooter contacted with Ukrainian neo-Nazis, modeled massacre at Doom, – source – 112.international

Vladyslav Roslyakov who committed a massacre at Kerch College on October 17 that led to the death of 21 people (including a shooter) might contact with the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and model an attack at the popular shooter Doom as Kommersant reported citing the sources among the investigators. “During the investigation, it turned out that before the attack a teenager made a peculiar electronic photocollage at home. Doom and GTA were his favorite PC games and he casted the picture of the corridors and rooms of the college at the background of Doom screenshot,” the news agency said. It is noted that the proper scheme of the future massacre was saved to the flash drive, which was found at the bag of Roslyakov. Now the experts check whether the mass murder was committed according to this scheme. At the same time, the investigation does not exclude that Roslyakov wanted to burn the building of the college after the shooting as Molotov cocktail was also found at his bag. “Also, according to investigation, Roslyakov could be connected to the “extremist” in Ukraine with whom he played in Doom and other shooters online but was interested in the creation of bombs in the talks with them,” the Russian news agency noted. During the search of the internet-contact of “Kerch shooter” it was found out that he visited the websites and forums where the admirers of the serial killings and neo-Nazis gathered. As the photo at Telegram he used the photo of maniac Anatoly Onoprienko who killed 52 people in seven years. He called his Twitter account “Want to die”. Also, it was established that most often he looked for “shotgun”, “terror”, “terrorist”, “Saiga”, “sterile, re-equipment”, “ISIS execution” on search systems. Moreover, he actively searched and watched the videos on the internet with different massacres such as human dismemberment.

Russia Honors Victims Of Soviet-Era Political Repressions

Russians across the country are honoring the millions of victims of Soviet-time political repression.

Russian Newspaper Receives Sheep In Cages After Report On Putin Ally

Russia’s independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper has received nine live sheep dressed in press jackets from an unknown source just days after publishing an investigative report about businessman Yevgen…

Sentsov ‘Feeling Much Better,’ Russian Prison Rights Activist Says

Imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who ended his nearly five-month hunger strike in a Russian prison in early October, is feeling “much better than a month ago,” a prominent Russian right…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Russian Urban Legend that Just Won’t Die – Anti-Moscow Amazon Fighters from the Baltics

Paul Goble Staunton, October 28 – Every society develops what have come to be called “urban legends,” stories for which there is little or no evidence but that remain widely believed and both reflect and shape the opinions of people about others. None in Russia has proved more resilient and long-lasting despite the almost complete lack of evidence than belief in “Baltic Amazons.” The story has it that there are beautiful Baltic women who have become snipers and have taken part in virtually all anti-Russian military actions from Afghanistan on. It has been the subject of at least two Russian feature movies, a huge number of tv programs and articles, and even has its own Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Tights). That this notion continues to circulate says a lot about what happens in the low-information environment the Russian government has imposed on its population, an environment in which rumors come to be accepted as fact and do not cease to spread because there is not the bright light of media attention that might dispel them. The idea that there are “Baltic Amazons,” however, has consequences. It contributes to Russian hostility to Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, elevating them into the shock troops of the West against Russia on every and all occasions. At the same time, it has become a subject of mirth among Balts and their friends. Now, a commentary is circulating on some Baltic Facebook pages that reflects their amusement about a phenomenon that doesn’t exist but that many Russians and Russian officials are prepared to swear is. It deserves to be read in full (facebook.com/lauri.talve/posts/10217577283574532) and is reproduced below: “Just for a bit of fun,” it begins. “Maybe you already know this, and maybe you don’t, but there has been an urban myth circulating in Russia for many years that there exists a secret elite group of hot Baltic women who have functioned as covert snipers against Russian forces in their various theatres of war. So deep is this urban myth, that even a senior Kremlin spokesman stated that these women exist and made specific allegations against Estonia. “Meanwhile, the former head of the Prosecutor General’s Investigative Committee in Moscow made allegations that implicated Latvia as a nation that was fielding these teams of beautiful elite snipers against Russian troops. “Now, common sense would decree that the likelihood that the Baltic nations have these elite teams of hot chicks with sniper rifles is pretty low. It’s more like something you’d expect to see in a Bond movie. “But you know what? I reckon we should leave the Russians to believe this is absolutely true.”

Russia Plans First Manned Launch To ISS Since October Accident

Russia says it will launch its first manned rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) since the October 11 failed launch on December 3.

Russian Man Detained With 13 Kilograms Of Gold In Backpack

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has detained a man who was found carrying half a million dollars’ worth of gold in his backpack in the Sakha-Yakutia region.

‘Like Living In A Gas Chamber’: Russia’s Toxic Town

Karabash, in Russia’s Ural Mountains, is home to a copper-smelting plant that belches toxic clouds and leaks arsenic and mercury. Some residents fear for their safety — but leaving is not an easy option.

Travels With Ivan: How The Soviet Secret Police Monitored U.S. Writer John Steinbeck

Newly declassified documents from the KGB archive in Ukraine shed light on how one leg of a 1947 journey to the Soviet Union by U.S. writer John Steinbeck and noted war photojournalist Robert Capa went down.

One Russian Teacher’s Online Crusade To Get Proper Russian Back On TV

A language teacher ruffles feathers among leading TV personalities with a popular YouTube channel relentlessly nitpicking at grammatical blunders.

“Teacher vs TV”: VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH ALSO MISTAKES – YouTube

Teacher vs TV Published on Oct 7, 2018 In this issue we analyze the mistakes of Vladimir Pozner, Julia Vysotskaya, as well as the journalists of the “60 Minutes” program.

Police officer in Dagestan shoots himself in head to win drunken bet. (He lost.) — Meduza

Police officers, have you ever run into the street while off duty and drunkenly fired your handgun into the air? After doing that, have you ever sprinted back to your friends and claimed that you emptied your weapon, only to be told that there might still be one bullet jammed in the chamber? And after this warning, did you then insist that the gun was empty, and — just to prove it — you put the pistol to your temple and pulled the trigger, firing that last round into your head?

Two Inmates Found Dead In Russian Prison

Two inmates have been found dead in a prison in Russia’s Far East.

Russian engineer in Antarctica stabbed colleague for spoiling books — Quartzy

Spoilers beware. The risk of revealing plot twists and turns is greater than just irritating your associates.

Visiting the coldest town in the world – Chilling Out | 60 Minutes Australia – YouTube

60 Minutes Australia Published on Jun 20, 2018 In Oymiakon – a tiny village in Central Siberia – it’s so cold your eyelashes freeze together and you’re constantly on guard against frostbite. If it’s warmer than minus 55 degrees Celsius, then it’s a good day.

Ironing Boards And Sticky Tape: Building A Plane In Siberia

There are few roads through the swampy tundra in western Siberia, so one resident is trying to build a tiny float plane that ordinary people can afford.

Cleanerman: The Russian Superhero Who Battles Trash

He clears garbage wearing a turquoise stocking on his head, has 16,000 followers, and calls himself Cleanerman.

Five myths about the Romanovs – The Washington Post

The Russian dynasty produced noteworthy rulers — and some tall tales

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

Russia Accuses U.S. Of Trying To Drive Wedge In Relations With Armenia

Russia has chided the United States, alleging Washington is trying to drive a wedge between Moscow and former Soviet republic Armenia.

Armenia Open To Possible U.S. Military Purchases

Armenia is open to discussing a possible purchase of military equipment from the United States if there is a good offer, according to the acting prime minister of the South Caucasus nation, which h…

Karachais In Russia’s North Caucasus Mark 75th Anniversary Of Deportations

Karachais in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Karachayevo-Cherkesia have marked the 75th anniversary of their mass deportation to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Russian threat haunts daily life in Georgia – Axios

TBILISI and RUSTAVI, Georgia — An enormous winged insect buzzed through the room, causing continual disruptions and hovering close to the conversation. Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, who had been addressing us in a low monotone about constitutional reform, deadpanned: “It’s Russian.” Russia is ever-present in Georgian politics. Kremlin propaganda and misinformation are rife, and the rise of far-right groups — which aren’t explicitly pro-Russian but instead anti-Western — can be linked directly to Russia.

Belarus Reports

UAWire – Ukrainian President: we do not want Russia to attack us through Belarus

President Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Belarus expressed the hope that a Russian invasion from the north will not threaten Ukraine. “This is a border of friendship, and we do not want to allow any threat to Ukraine from the Belarusian territory. We are not expecting it, we know that it will not happen, and of course, we do not want Russia to use Belarus to get to our flank,” said Poroshenko in Gomel at a meeting with representatives of the Ukrainian community. The President of Ukraine arrived in Gomel at the first Forum of the Regions of Ukraine and Belarus. During the visit, he met with President Alexander Lukashenko. The press service for the head of state said that Poroshenko throughout negotiations called for cooperation between Ukraine and Belarus on the basis of friendship. “We are absolutely sure that our relationship is going to grow significantly. The economy of our countries shows that the growth is more than 23%,” noted the Ukrainian president. According to him, there is an increase in the supply of Ukrainian products to Belarus. “It is imperative to maintain these trends,” added Poroshenko. In turn, Lukashenko’s press service stated that the issue of the border between Ukraine and Belarus was raised at the meeting. The President of Ukraine stated that the border should be exclusively for peace, friendship, and reliability. “Both you and I will put forth maximum effort for this,” said Poroshenko.

UAWire – Lukashenko: Belarus could take on responsibility for bringing peace to Donbas

During his speech at the Munich Security Conference in Minsk , Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that his country could take on …

Lukashenko: Belarus ready to “engage” in Donbas conflict settlement | UNIAN

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that for the sake of peace, Belarus is ready to engage in the settlement of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The Donbas developments are a sore point both for Ukraine and its neighbors since it is a matter of war and peace.

Belarus ready to take control over Russia-Ukraine border, – Lukashenko – 112.international

Belarus is ready to help to resolve the conflict in Donbas and to take control over the state border of Ukraine and Russia. President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed this at the opening of Munich Security Conference in Minsk. ‘Let’s be honest: a solution to the conflict in the Donbas could have been found long ago – if there was enough will… We are ready to take responsibility for ensuring peace in the eastern regions of Ukraine and on the Russian-Ukrainian border,’ Lukashenko claimed.

Belarus a strategic trading partner for Ukraine – Poroshenko

Belarus is a strategic trading partner for Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Lukashenko’s Recent Talk about Border with Ukraine Actually about Russia and National Independence, Tsarik Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 26 – Over the last month, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has talked repeatedly about the need to strengthen border arrangements between Belarus and Ukraine, but Yury Tsarik says that the Belarusian leader’s words, if examined carefully in terms of Minsk’s border security doctrine, are less about the Ukrainian border than they are about the Russian one. More than that, the Russian specialist at Minsk’s Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies says, the Belarusian leader’s remarks underscore that he and his government believe that Russia is the most likely and serious source of dangers to the country and that Minsk needs to develop policies to protect itself (nmnby.eu/news/analytics/6732.html). Indeed, Tsarik argues, Lukashenka has laid out an entirely new and more robust border defense plan with regard to Russia by talking about how he believes Minsk must respond to Ukraine, a much less politically explosive issue but a useful one for him because it allows for a discussion of border security issues in general and thus of the Russian one in particular. There are two aspects of the Belarusian border security strategy document that are significant, the analyst says. On the one hand, that document includes the key provisions of the Belarusian military doctrine; and on the other, it makes only a single passing reference to the Union State and thus to the Russian-Belarusian border. “In other words,” Tsarik says, this document clearly means that “Belarus considers as being part of its national interest the international-legal formulation of borders, the establishment of a border regime, and its preservation as important everywhere, including on the border with the Russian Federation.” It doesn’t distinguish the Russian portion of the border from the Ukrainian portion in this regard, thus allowing Lukashenka’s discussions about the one to be applied to the other. And that includes his remarks about increasing the size of border guard forces as he did a week ago (president.gov.by/ru/news_ru/view/rabochaja-poezdka-v-grodnenskuju-oblast-19724/). Given manpower problems, increasing it might require cutting the size of the army unless new potential soldiers are identified, something Minsk now is clearly working on, Tsarik says (president.gov.by/ru/news_ru/view/rabochaja-poezdka-v-brestskuju-oblast-18829/). And that fact underscores that talk about borders is really talk about national security more broadly. As noted, the Minsk analyst says, Lukashenka’s discussion of border security is “about completely lacking of any integrationist rhetoric.” Instead, it contains references to strengthening national defense including against hybrid attacks and in demonstrating Belarus’ ability to autonomously contribute to the defense of the Union State. That is less a concession to Moscow than it might appear at first glance, Tsarik says. Instead, it is part of an effort by Lukashenka to block Russian demands for the opening of a Russian base on Belarusian territory and to attract assistance from Western governments so that he can continue to stand up to Moscow. “Of course,” Tsarik says, “one should not call the defense policy of the Belarusian leadership or its foreign policy either ‘anti-Russian.’ Rather it is a multi-vector one and directed at providing Minsk with greater independence in the sphere of national, military and border security.” Belarus’ ability to move in that direction is limited but it is not nonexistent. A major determinant of how far Minsk can go in this direction, of course, is the attitude of the Belarusian population and that attitude will be profoundly affected by whether Lukashenka moves toward reform or not, something he has no choice but to begin given the restrictions Russia is now subject to. “Under these conditions,” Tsarik says, “a pro-Western and/or nationalist geopolitical vector is firmly associated with reforms … while a pro-Russian one is connected with a rejection of reforms and the preservation of a ‘neo-Soviet’ administrative system.” That gives hope for reform and for a greater role by Western countries. Minsk is counting on receiving financial support and technology from the West which will “allow it to keep Belarus independent and the current political regime unchanged,” Tsarik says; but it recognizes that it cannot avoid reforms if it is going to achieve those goals. And that has an important consequence which Lukashenka’s talk about the Ukrainian border hints at. “The political regime in Belarus for self-preservation and for the maintenance of the independence of the country in the near future will be forced to change its modus operandi, its social base and its ideological foundation,” the Minsk analyst says. It could of course try to adopt the North Korean model; but no one in Belarus wants that. Given its goals, Tsarik argues, Minsk’s best choice “could be a combination of scientifically based liberal approaches in economics and state administration with an up to date and adaptable approach to the provision of national security.” Achieving that “positive result,” of course, “won’t be a simple task.” It will require understanding from both the Belarusian population and the West; but it may be the only way that Belarus and Lukashenka personally can retain their independence from Russia and thus their freedom of action.

Minsk, Kyiv have trusting relations – Lukashenko

Minsk and Kyiv have no unsolvable issues and always find solutions, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said.

Belarusians Hold Memorials For Victims Of Stalinist Repression

Belarusians have gathered in Minsk to mark the 81st anniversary of the execution of more than 100 people, including 22 writers and poets, by the Soviet secret police.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

TASS: World – Moldova’s president says talks with Putin were a breakthrough

This is Igor Dodon’s second official visit to Russia

Ukraine and Moldova discuss security situation in European region – 31.10.2018 11:35 — Ukrinform News

“Commander of the Joint Forces, Lieutenant-General Serhiy Nayev held a working meeting with the Moldovan delegation headed by the Chief of the National Army of the Republic of Moldova, Brigadier General Igor Cutie as part of the visit of the delegation to the district of conducting Joint Forces Operation (Mariupol). During the meeting, the parties discussed security issues in the European region and around Ukraine,” reads the report.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Taliban Floggings Hint At Crackdown On Smartphones

The Taliban’s flogging of two women in northern Afghanistan may have helped expose the militant group’s crackdown on the use of mobile phones.

The US Military Held an American as an Enemy Combatant for Over a Year. Here’s What That Means. – Defense One

The case could have upended the entire war on ISIS. Instead, it’s changing how we treat some detainees.

Islamists Protest For Second Day After Christian Woman Acquitted Of Blasphemy

Islamist protesters have blocked roads in Pakistan’s major cities for a second day in opposition to a Supreme Court decision to acquit a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for blasp…

Foreign Policy Reports

Polish MFA: Germany acts against EU position on Nord Stream 2 | UNIAN

Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Jacek Czaputowicz said on Monday, October 29, that disputes between Poland and Germany over the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would be on the agenda of intergovernmental consultations to be held in Warsaw on Friday. Germany blocks the adoption of the Third Gas Directive.

Macron Warns Eastern Members Not To Leave EU Values Behind

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet the leaders of Slovakia and the Czech Republic on October 26. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet the leaders of Slovakia and the Czech Republic on October 26. As he kicked off his trip, Macron warned eastern EU members not to fall out of step with the bloc’s principles, singling out Hungary and Poland, whose nationalist governments have clashed with Brussels. In an interview published in Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak media, the French leader insisted that “Europe is not a supermarket,” stressing a point he made previously that eastern states could not pick and choose among the bloc’s fundamental values. “Europe isn’t a one-way street: it is a reciprocal commitment,” Macron said in the interview. He expressed concern about the refusal of some eastern EU members to accept migrants from the Middle East and North Africa under an EU quota program drafted in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis.

Populism, nationalism threaten the European project  

Europe in the coming weeks will be facing a host of political and economic challenges that are spooking international investors, endangering American interests and worrying even the most pro-European voices.

Fresh Economic Thinking: The new politics of national identity

With nationalistic policies back on the agenda across the world, we should not underestimate the power of our collective belief in the nation-state in driving these political outcomes. Beliefs matter. We have memorials for people who died to protect our nations, we are schooled in how great our country is, along with its customs, cultures, cuisines, national songs, flags and heroic origin stories. Many people are willing to die voluntarily for their belief in their nation. As Dani Rodrik shows, people identify as a national citizen even more than they see themselves as a member of their local community (see below image). People believe in organising the world into nation-states, and feel their identity is most closely tied to them, more than anything.

2 Views of Angela Merkel’s Legacy: Stoic Leadership, and Economic Malpractice – The New York Times

The exiting German chancellor is celebrated as a rare source of European leadership. But many economists blame her for austerity that inflamed populism.

Germany’s Angela Merkel, ‘the president of Europe,’ says she won’t seek reelection as chancellor – Los Angeles Times

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her conservative party on Monday that she’s ready to step down as party leader following a pair of state election debacles, but plans to stay on as chancellor for the rest of her government’s term.

As Merkel Eyes Exit, Nervous E.U. Wonders Who’ll Take the Stage – The New York Times

News that Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is synonymous with the European Union, plans to step down has created anxiety over who can fill her shoes.

Angela Merkel to step down as German chancellor in 2021 – BBC News

The decision by Germany’s veteran chancellor comes after a series of regional election setbacks.

Merkel is reportedly set to step down as party leader after dismal regional elections

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not stand for re-election as chair of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, multiple news reports said Monday.

Will Angela Merkel’s Exit Begin the Bannonization of Europe? | Vanity Fair

The German chancellor has announced she will step down as the head of her party, just as Europe faces a continental crisis.

Angela Merkel ‘to abandon key CDU party role’ – BBC News

Germany’s Angela Merkel reportedly say she will not lead her party but wants to stay as chancellor.

Merkel’s government braces for high-stakes German state election | Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition faces its second test in as many weeks on Sunday when voters go to the polls in the western state of Hesse for a regional election that could torpedo the national government.

Northern Ireland’s Stormy Past Haunts U.K. Efforts to Leave EU – WSJ

Conflicting views in Northern Ireland over the region’s ties to the U.K. complicate Brexit negotiators’ efforts to avoid establishing a physical border on the island.

Police investigating alleged antisemitic hate crimes by Labour members | News | The Times

Police have launched an investigation into allegations of antisemitic hate crimes by Labour Party members.The probe is understood to focus on an internal Labour dossier detailing 45 cases involving messages posted by members on social media.The dossier, which was passed to the radio station LBC, was

Assange must obey new rules to stay in London embassy, judge says – CNN

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawsuit over new asylum conditions has been thrown out by an Ecuadorean judge, who said the country was “not violating his fundamental rights”.

Julian Assange: The house guest who overstayed his welcome? – CNN

The WikiLeaks founder’s stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London may finally be nearing an end.

UK said Assange would not be extradited: Ecuador’s top attorney | Reuters

The United Kingdom told Ecuador in August that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would not be extradited if he left the country’s London embassy, where he has lived under asylum since 2012, Ecuador’s top government attorney said on Thursday.

Prague Marks Centenary Of Czechoslovakia’s Independence With Large Military Parade

The Czech Republic has marked 100 years since Czechoslovakia gained independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the biggest military parade in its post-communist history.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: When Cossackia Existed — in Northern Italy

Paul Goble Staunton, October 27 – There are few subjects that generate such instantaneous mirth among Russian propagandists and many Western students of Russia and the former Soviet space that the reference in the 1959 Congressional resolution establishing the Captive Nations Week in the United States, a resolution that lists Cossackia as a country under Soviet occupation. Russian and Western commentators routinely insist that there was no such place, that the Cossacks are two divided among various hosts in widely dispersed regions, and that in any case, they are a stratum among the ethnic Russian nation rather than a national community in their own right. But the Cossacks themselves increasingly insist that they are a separate nation and should have their own nation state, although just what its borders might look like is a subject of intense discussion (cf. russian7.ru/post/yavlyayutsya-li-kazaki-russkimi-ili-samos/). And they look back to a time when Cossackia existed on the map, albeit not in Russia but in Italy. The history of that Cossackia is not well known either in Russia or in the West, but it deserves to be if for now other reasons that it shows that what the US Congress committed Washington to 60 years ago is not some invention but a very real thing that is likely to become more important as Cossack identity strengthens in response to Russian pressure against it. Fortuitously, Aleksandr Brazhnik of the Russian 7 portal has now told the story of how a Cossackia was created in Italy and how its denizens came to an inglorious end as a result of Britain’s forced repatriation of the Cossacks to the Soviet Union under the terms of the Yalta agreement (russian7.ru/post/kazakiya-kak-v-1944-godu-kazaki-sozdali-s/). When the Germans invaded their former ally the Soviet Union in 1941, they mistreated most of the population there so badly that Hitler’s defeat was almost pre-ordained. But there were exceptions. Among the most prominent was the positive attitude the German army showed to the Cossacks whom the Nazis believed were not Slavs but rather descendants of the Goths. The German high command promised to form an independent republic of Cossackia, which was to include the territory of the Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrakhan, Orenburg, Kalmyk, and southern Ural hosts of the Cossacks. As Brazhnik puts it, “the plans of the Nazis were not fated to be achieved, but the Cossacks did establish Cossackia, not in Russia but in the north of Italy.” Some Cossack units who had collaborated with the German invaders were sent there in July 1944 to suppress Italian partisans. They were joined by the Turkic Division commanded by Prince Klych Sultan-Girey which included Circassians, Ossetians and Karachays; and all of these groups were accompanied by family members. The Cossacks very much liked the region around Tolmezzo and began to call it Cossackia, the Russian historian says. They issued their own newspaper Kazachya zemlya, renamed streets and towns according to Cossack traditions, and reportedly lived relatively peacefully with most of the surrounding population. In the first months of 1945, the Cossack units were shifted from the German military to the command of the Vlasov forces, the anti-Soviet Russian forces and people whom many of the Cossacks despised. Following V-E day, 35,000 Cossacks, their wives and children were transferred from Italy to the Austrian city of Lienz. On May 11, British forces disarmed the Cossacks and prepared to repatriate up to 60,000 Cossacks and their families to the Soviet Union as the Yalta Conference required. The Cossacks were horrified and tried to resist. A thousand were shot by their captors, 3,000 fled in to the mountains and many others committed suicide rather than go back to the USSR. Those that were handed over alive suffered a horrific fate. The NKVD shot some but dispatched thousands more into the GULAG. To this day, the Cossacks remember the Lienz tragedy – they have even erected a monument there – and they remember Cossackia even if it wasn’t in Russia but in Italy and even if it only existed informally and for a few months.

Polish President Duda says Germany must pay reparations to Poland for the damage caused by WWII – 112.international

Polish President Andrzej Duda said that Germany must pay reparations to Poland for the damage caused by World War II. He stated about it in an interview to Bild am Sonntag. “As far as I understand it, the topic of reparations is not yet closed,” the president said. He mentioned the expert findings of the ex-President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, from which it follows that the losses inflicted on Poland were not compensated. In particular, we are talking about losses incurred by Warsaw. “The interim results of the work of the parliamentary expert group also confirm that our damage was not compensated. Therefore, this is a question of truth and responsibility,” said Duda. Earlier, Arkadiusz Mularczyk, head of the parliamentary committee on reparations, a deputy from the Polish “Law and Justice” party, said that Poland has the right to demand compensation in the amount of $ 850 billion from Germany for property destroyed and people killed during World War II.

Terror crackdown: Viktor Orban’s Hungary to trial LIE DETECTORS at borders | World | News | Express.co.uk

AN EU-funded project being trialled in Hungary, Greece and Latvia will require arrivals from outside Europe required to pass lie detector tests before they are permitted to cross the border into the bloc – with the software developer being the technology claiming it was needed in order to tackle “terror threats”

European Countries to Test AI Border Guards – Defense One

A new program replaces human border guards with artificially intelligent avatars to watch for deception in travelers. It follows similar efforts that …

AI lie detector tests to get trial run at EU airports | CNN Travel

Passengers at some European airports will soon be questioned by AI (Artificial Intelligence) lie detectors as a European Union trial run of the technology is set to begin.

EU border ‘lie detector’ system criticised as pseudoscience | World news | The Guardian

Technology that analyses facial expressions being trialled in Hungary, Greece and Latvia

AI lie detectors to be tested by the EU at border points

Lie detectors equipped with artificial intelligence are set to be tested at border points in Europe as part of an EU-funded project to combat crime and terrorism.

A Fascist Won Brazil’s Presidential Election, And The Media’s Tweets Were Very Bad | HuffPost Australia

The elite media still can’t figure out how to call right-wing authoritarians what they are.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new far-right president: 4 things to know – Vox

The “Trump of the Tropics” has roiled Brazilian politics by promising a break with the status quo.

Cuban Leader In Moscow Amid Raised Tensions With U.S.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has arrived in Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials in an effort to bolster ties, as the former Cold War allies both face raise…

Putin’s meeting with Cuba’s appointed president comes with weapons loan | TribLIVE

The Russian government has granted Cuba a $50 million loan to buy Russian military equipment, just days before Cuba’s handpicked President Miguel Diaz-Canel is scheduled to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The arms deal is to be signed during a series of meetings of the Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission that …

U.S. Plans Sanctions to Target Venezuela’s Gold Exports – WSJ

Washington is preparing sanctions to impede Venezuela’s gold exports and clamp down on what U.S. officials say is an effort by President Nicolás Maduro to loot the embattled nation’s riches and offset a U.S. campaign to squeeze the authoritarian government’s finances, according to people familiar with the matter.

As Venezuela’s health system collapses, disease spreads beyond its borders – The Washington Post

A massive wave of migrants is transmitting once-rare diseases to other parts of Latin America

Venezuela: Mothers giving away babies – BBC News – YouTube

BBC News Published on Nov 2, 2018 Oil-rich Venezuela is facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the United Nations.

Bolton dubs Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the ‘Troika of Tyranny’ | TheHill

The Trump administration is doubling down on its policy to isolate Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, with national security adviser John Bolton dubbing the three countries the “Troika of Tyranny” on Thursday.

Bolton brands Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua a ‘troika of tyranny’ in sanctions rollout | Fox News

National Security Adviser John Bolton on Thursday branded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny” and announced new measures against the socialist countries — promising they “will feel the full weight of America’s robust sanctions regime.”

Victims of Cuba and China ‘Health Attacks’ Say They’re Being Harassed in U.S. – The Daily Beast

U.S. diplomatic staffers report surveillance, rash of break-ins at home in America.

Bolton: Someone Must Be Held ‘Accountable’ for Havana ‘Sonic’ Attacks – The Daily Beast

The national security adviser also said the White House was thinking about bringing other sanctions against the Cuban government.

IW/EW/IO/Cyber Reports

Internet Freedom Still Sliding Globally, Democracy Watchdog Says

Internet freedom continues to wane worldwide under pressure from attacks on informed democratic debate and notions of privacy, with “a cohort of countries…moving toward digital authoritarianism,”…

Private messages from 81,000 hacked Facebook accounts for sale – BBC News

The perpetrators told the BBC Russian Service they had details from a total of 120 million accounts.

Washington Post, Newsweek, The Hill Using Russian Disinformation Techniques – To Inform is to Influence

Many Russian disinformation articles refer to experts or expert agencies to provide validation of a claim. Sometimes the claims are outrageous, sometimes the claims are complete fabrications, and often the claims seem almost legitimate. Until you do a modicum of digging, you know, do good old hardcore research. Apparently, this is what the Washington Post,…

Russian Internet Trolls Obsessed Over Trump—and a Cancelled Comedy Show – To Inform is to Influence

Trolls tweeted about politics, but their other favorite subject was Comedy Central’s now-defunct @midnight By Georgia Wells and Rob Barry Oct. 31, 2018 11:44 a.m. ET Everybody knows Russian trolls love U.S. politics. But did you know they also really like the canceled Comedy Central game show @midnight with Chris Hardwick? The internet-themed improv show, broadcast from New York…

Washington Post, Why Do You Show Crimea As Russia? Crimea Is Ukraine! – To Inform is to Influence

The Washington Post did not create the picture, but after their error was highlighted, they have chosen not to fix it.  Why? I could get petty and imply that the Washington Post is pro-Russian.  Perhaps the artist at the European Commission was, but Rick Noack, you are on the blame line as far as I…

Israel’s Director of the National Information Directorate Stepping Down – To Inform is to Influence

Yarden Vatikay is stepping down. Israel’s National Information Directorate, under Yarden Vatikay, was instrumental in helping Israel win the war of words against Pallywood.  I ran InfowarCon in 2009 and I had Yaden Vatikay present. His presentation was stunning, the difference in the narrative and seizing the initiative was like night and day. It will difficult…

Bringing Pop-Ups to a Knife Fight – To Inform is to Influence

October 24, 2018 Brinkwire In case you were wondering what sophisticated, stealthy new cybertools the U.S. government was cooking up to combat Russian interference in our elections, the Pentagon has just announced its first “cyber operation” to protect the midterms. It will be centered on the internet’s original sin: pop-up messages. Or rather, Cyber Command plans…

Vermont secretary of state says efforts will ensure voting security

Vermont’s top election official said Tuesday that his office has been working hard to ensure next week’s vote is secure and the choices people make will be properly counted, a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy.

The three C’s of cyber

Creativity, communication and collaboration secure critical infrastructure.

Russia, US Offer Competing Vision of Cyber Norms to the UN – Defense One

Two proposed versions of an “international code of conduct for international information security” set up a clash between autocracies and democracies.

DHS moves to manage risks to the American supply chain

The creation of a task force comes as U.S. and industry officials say nation-states are attempting to hack the American supply chain.

A fed visited 9,000 porn sites, infecting government networks with Russian malware

U.S. government networks were infected with malware after a federal employee visited roughly 9,000 pages of pornography, according to a watchdog report. An official at an U.S. Geological Survey facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, “had an extensive history of visiting adult pornography websites,” according to a Department of the Interior inspector general report. Many of the 9,000 web sites traced back to Russia and contained malware. The malware then exploited the geological survey’s networks. Viewing or distributing pornography is not allowed on government issued devices, according to the Department of the Interior. The pornography images were also saved to an USB device and Android cellphone, which are also violations of the department’s ban on connected devices. The Inspector General launched an investigation after suspicious internet traffic was discovered.

Everyone in DoD is a cyberwarrior

Each person is responsible for cyber hygiene and cyber defense today, according to Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, director of DISA and commander of Joint Force Headquarters-DoD Information Networks.

Why recruiting cyberwarriors in the military is harder than retaining forces

Recruiting the American military’s cyber force is more difficult than retaining digital warriors, top Pentagon officials said during the CyberCon conference hosted by Fifth Domain Nov. 1.

Why Haven’t Terrorists Hit the US with a Devastating Cyber Attack? – Defense One

National-security experts have been warning about it for 15 years. There are a few theories.

Austal breach: Defence says no sign classified data compromised – Computerworld

Shipbuilder says it won’t give in to extortion demands by hacker

Australia’s 2015 copyright censorship system has failed, so they’re adding (lots) more censorship / Boing Boing

In 2015, Australia created the most aggressive copyright censorship system in the world, which allowed the country’s two major movie studios (Village Roadshow and Fox) along with an assortment of smaller companies and trolls to get court orders forcing the country’s ISPs to censor sites that had the “primary purpose” of infringing copyright. When the…

Did Putin Put Out An Arrest Warrant for George Soros “Dead or Alive”?

Old falsehoods never die, they just (hopefully) fade away.

The Navy is moving forward on its next-gen jamming pod

The Navy has selected a company to demonstrate existing technologies for the second increment of the service’s multiphase approach to replacing an aging jamming pod. Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $35.1 million, 20-month contract for the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Low Band, part of the jamming pods that will be outfitted onto EA-18 Growler aircraft to replace the legacy ALQ-99 jammer. The Navy is splitting the upgrade into three pods to cover respective parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

US Domestic Policy Reports

US has plan to cyberattack Russia if it interferes in midterms: report – INSIDER

For the plan to go ahead, Russia would have to assert “malign influence” on the elections, such as tampering with voter registration and vote recording.

The Pentagon Has Prepared a Cyberattack Against Russia

U.S. military hackers have been given the go-ahead to gain access to Russian cybersystems as part of potential retaliation for any meddling in America’s elections.

How Do You Say ‘Fake News’ in Russian? – Foreign Policy

Russian news sites portray the U.S. presidential election as a prelude to civil war. The Russian media is obsessed with the American civil war. No, not the one that erupted in 1861 over the secession of the South—the civil war that’s coming with the next U.S. presidential election. More than 30 articles were published in the past few days on some of the country’s most popular news sites ahead of a hotly contested congressional election in the United States next week, all suggesting that Americans might turn their many guns against each other. “The next presidential election could lead to a definitive split in American society and a new civil war,” reported the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. The agency’s website is the second most widely read news site in Russia, according to data from Rambler.Ru. “In Harvard they’re predicting war within the United States,” read a headline on Gazeta.ru, another popular Russian news site.

Trump Considers Diplomatic Novice for U.N. Ambassador – Foreign Policy

The U.S. president says State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is under serious consideration.

President Trump Holds “Make America Great Again” Rally

Trump, GOP defiant amid allegations that incendiary rhetoric contributed to climate of violence – The Washington Post

In wake of synagogue massacre, partisan brawl erupts over the standards of political engagement.

If Not Pipe-Bombs, What Counts as Terrorism in 2018? – Defense One

There is no consensus—in academia, law, or common usage—on when an attack is more than just a crime.

Czechoslovak Secret Police Had File on Trump During Marriage to Ivana – Reports – Sputnik International

This isn’t the first time that the US president has been accused of being worked on or compromised by Eastern Bloc intelligence services.

Trump Needs Help Picking Between His Contradictory Foreign-Policy Desires – Defense One

Unfortunately, not even a 21st-century version of Eisenhower’s Solarium planning exercise is likely to help.

Cesar Sayoc’s Path on Social Media: From Food Photos to Partisan Fury – The New York Times

By the time he was arrested, Mr. Sayoc appeared to fit a familiar profile of a modern extremist, radicalized online and sucked into a vortex of partisan furor.

Move On Russia Prompts Call At White House For Anti-Doping Reform

The White House has joined with a growing number of prominent athletes and anti-doping officials in calling for an overhaul of the World Anti-Doping Agency in the wake of its controversial decision…

I’m Jewish, and I Think the Biggest Increase in Anti-Semitism Is From the Left

The biggest increase in anti-Semitism in the last 10 or so years has come from the left. Just ask young Jews who wear yarmulkes or are vocally pro-Israel on most American college campuses.

Israel defends Trump amid synagogue shooting criticism | Fox News

Israel’s envoy to the memorial ceremonies for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims says it’s “unfair and wrong” to link the tragedy to President Donald Trump.

Czechoslovakia ramped up spying on Trump in late 1980s, seeking US intel | US news | The Guardian

Exclusive: aided by Ivana Trump’s father, intelligence service with KGB ties targeted high-level government information, files show

‘A very different world’ – inside the Czech spying operation on Trump | US news | The Guardian

Exclusive: files reveal Trump was the target of an extensive spying operation in the late 1980s by the country’s intelligence service, with ‘friends’ from the KGB

The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive — and It’s Hurting National Security – Defense One

Trump’s DoD is rolling back the kind of basic transparency that prevents waste and fraud, enables Congressional oversight, and promotes public trust.

Military Intelligence Spending Just Posted Biggest Spike in a Decade – Defense One

With an 18 percent increase this year, the Pentagon’s $22 billion intelligence tab is rising faster than civilian spy agencies.

Inside the Pentagon’s struggle to build a cyber force

Experts suggest the armed forces have structural problems that prevent it from becoming a digitally cohesive force.

Jim Mattis taps fellow Marine general to speak for the Pentagon

THE PENTAGON FINDS ITS VOICE: There was a time when the Pentagon was known as “the building that speaks,” as in: “The Pentagon said today …” But lately, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson, Dana White, has been largely AWOL from the building’s storied briefing room, having not done a formal on-camera session since late May. Two months later, it was revealed that she was under investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General over staff complaints about her management style.

Air Force secretary details plans to increase fighter readiness

The Air Force has submitted a plan to improve the mission-capable rates of F-22, F-35 and F-16 squadrons, which currently is below the 80 percent readiness level ordered by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

Could air mobility pilots become fighter or bomber pilots?

As the Air Force grapples with a ongoing shortage of pilots, Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command, is considering one possible remedy, which is transitioning pilots from mobility aircraft to fighter or bomber aircraft.

Could the Air Force restart the C-17 production line?

WASHINGTON — As part of the Air Force’s push to boost its number of operational squadrons to 386 total, and the service may need additional C-17s, the head of Air Mobility Command said Friday. The service’s expansion plan, which was named “The Air Force We Need” and unveiled this September, called for one airlift squadron and 14 tanker squadrons to be added by 2030. At the time, service leaders from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to AMC Commander Gen. Maryanne Miller, said more work would need to be done in order to determine the mix of aircraft needed to get to the 386 squadron goal, which is 74 more than the service has now.

To Improve U.S. Air Combat Readiness, End The Budget Control Act

The BCA was intentionally designed to be so unpalatable that it would never be enacted; however, it was, and it must to be terminated to achieve the administration’s goal of restoring the combat readiness of an Air Force that is the oldest, smallest, and least ready it’s ever been..

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