Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
BBC Panorama documentary on the Salisbury attack results in a minor deluge of propaganda from Muscovy. More nuke saber-rattling by Muscovy, including a proposal to respond to non-nuclear weapon strikes with nuclear weapons. Harding on RIA Novosti. British Army Chief on Russia. Eidman, Shevtsova, Goryunov, Goble, Zolotukhin, Nekhamkin on Russia’s descent (or to cite Shevtsova “why Putin has been able to master the logic of rotting”).
Updates on Salisbury, esp. Beeb Panorama documentary.
Updates on Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan.
“… Senators in [Russia’s] Federation Council … have recommended … allow[ing] … [P]resident [Putin] to order nuclear strikes in response to enemy use of conventional weapons, a significant departure from the military doctrine that prohibits first use unless Russia is threatened by [WMD] or if its ‘very existence is in jeopardy.’ The council proposes that Russia be allowed to retaliate with nuclear weapons if the country is attacked by ‘hypersonic and non-nuclear strategic weapons.’ The recommendations, which are non-binding, were drawn up after discussions with defence ministry officials. …”
Russia says it has sent military chemicals experts to Aleppo after reports that shells fired by insurgents in the Syrian city left dozens of people with breathing and vision problems.
As Britain releases more surveillance footage placing two alleged Russian agents at the scene of the attempted assassination of a former spy, Moscow now claims that the poisoning plot has been cook…
Police have released three new video clips showing Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who London believes are culpable in the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, arriving in Salisbury and walking the streets.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has commented on the latest footage released by London Metropolitan Police on the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, saying that while the use of the nerve agent in Europe was cause for concern, British investigators have yet to share any information with the Russian side.
Nick Bailey, a police officer poisoned shortly after the poisoning of Russian intelligence defector Sergei Skripal, has given his first interview since the incident.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, one of the first people to be hospitalized in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia in Salisbury in March, has given his first-ever interview to the BBC Panorama programme.
In one of the most egregious examples of fabricated propaganda, state-sponsored and state-controlled RIA Novosti published an over-the-top smear piece targeting the UK and Bill Browder. Why do I say it’s propaganda? The article contains no documentation. No proof. No evidence. No citations. No links. Zero. Zip. Nada. No corroboration. No verification. Numerous references to Anonymous websites, but no links. Numerous references to quotes, but no links. Numerous citations to hackers referencing a connection to “a” UK anti-Russian program, but no links. Numerous citations to Bill Browder’s connection to these programs, but no links. A plethora of Anonymous phrases, mottos, and memes, but no links. Numerous references to documents, but no links. The only link in the entire article is to the home page of cyberguerilla.org, an Anonymous group. It is not clear of the purpose behind the link as there is no material on this page and no links to anything useful. Lots of allegations without any actual references. There is criticism of UK sanctions against Russia, “Unlike our“ sworn friends ”who, five minutes after the appearance of this kind of information, would have introduced another draft law on sanctions to their parliament”. I get it. Bill Browder is hated by Putin and the Russian government for helping establish the Magnitsky Act. The UK has historically been blamed for all of Russia’s ills. Russia is in a deep spiral of propaganda losses and bloody noses and Russia desperately needs a propaganda coup This article is nominally targeted internally to Russia, perhaps to reinforce the belief that the UK is targeting Russia, but it serves no internal purpose to mention Bill Browder unless Russia is seeking to create an external ‘devil’ of sorts. This article, therefore, is intended for an external audience. In Russian? No. It must be translated for foreigners to easily read it. Perhaps this is just an initial “seed” to see how it sells. If it is retweeted sufficiently, perhaps… Stay tuned. To help spread this propaganda, Doctor Igor Panarin of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Chief of the Russian Information Speznaz (Special Forces) Association posted a link to this article on Facebook. I have not searched for other activity pushing this article. The article is so outrageously fake and fabricated, however, that I give this article zero chances of going viral, going mainstream, or being believed, even by the most jaded pro-Russian. Another Russian propaganda failure of the highest order. Oh, Russia, you really used to have talent in this area. Your desperation screams out loudly in this article. </end editorial>
Norway calling out Russia’s jamming of NATO’s GPS signals recently was notable because it showed how Washington’s European allies are changing their tactics to deal with Moscow.
To understand what makes Putin and his allies act the way they do, you need to look beyond the myths.
Russia is a “far greater threat” to Britain’s national security than Islamic terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), the new head of the British Army has warned.
The new head of the British army says Russia is “indisputably” a greater threat to UK national security.
Russia is now “indisputably” a greater threat to the security of Britain and her allies than Islamist extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), the new Army chief has warned.
Why is Moscow friends with Taliban terrorists?. Russia needs Afghanistan as a springboard for spreading its influence. The Taliban terrorist group, which the Kremlin fought in Soviet times, became its pillar in a new era. [[editor.image url=“https://i.lb.ua/english/079/42/5bf821c6615cc.jpeg” author=”picture alliance/YAN ZHONGHUA” ]][[endeditor]] Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
Nearly all of the production equipment belonging to Roscosmos, the Russian State Corporation for Space Activities, is outdated, the company’s …
Russian foreign policy, Igor Eidman says, “consists of a bizarre mix of the traditions of a corrupt bureaucracy and a criminal world.” Europeans and others in the West need to recognize this; otherwise, they will discover that how they understand Putin is very much at odds with how he understands himself. “One and the same thing has for the Kremlin and for Europe diametrically opposite meaning,” the Russian sociologist and commentator of Deutsche Welle says. That can be easily seen if one considers several examples:
Paul Goble Staunton, November 23 – To ask as The New Times has, “what is Putin hoping for?” is to ask the wrong question, Liliya Shevtsova says. A far more important question, one that goes beyond what may be in Vladimir Putin’s head to the current state of Russian society is “why does he survive despite what others view as all his failures and mistakes?” No one knows exactly what is inside Putin’s head and therefore no one really knows how adequate his picture there of the world is, the Russian commentator continues, but one can approach those issues by considering how well what he does corresponds to the political system he has put in place (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/173196/). That issue in turn can be most usefully examined by asking three other questions, Shevtsova says. First, “how real is Putin’s all-powerful status and does he really continue to remain the master of the Russian ‘vertical?” That question permits only two answers: either he is or he isn’t – and depending on the answer, one’s assessment of Putin hinges. If Putin is all-powerful, as many assume, “how is one to explain the chaos in the process of taking Kremlin decisions and the complete irresponsibility of the power apparatus?” If, on the other hand, he has become “the hostage of ‘the vertical’ he created and has lost control over it, then he is repeating the logic of many similar regimes at the point of their aging and exhaustion.” And if in Russia, the situation has reached that point, Shevtsova says, “then one should carefully look for the process of the decentralization and collapse of the state fabric,” rather than be distracted by questions about the personality of the man who “personifies” the system because it now has a kind of life of its own. The second question is more difficult: “In what degree can be in general judge about the intentions or goals of any leader at the stage of post-modernism?” Many of the former rules don’t apply, and things that appeared to be opposites before, like truth and lies and war and peace, now blend into each other. “Life,” she continues, “like politics is becoming polyphonic and ambivalent,” an ideal milieu for a Kremlin “which to perfection has mastered the art of the fake and the bluff: ‘this isn’t us,’ we aren’t there,’ and so on.” In such a world, Putin’s “rhetoric and actions do not necessarily speak to his intentions.” And the third question – “if the entire problem is in Putin, then his departure must open the way to Russia’s escape from autocracy. Is that not so?” – is the most fateful because it forces those who ask it to address the problems that Russia presents rather than assuming that they are all linked to the persona of the current ruler. But, however one answers these three questions, Shevtsova says, one must deal with the fact that Putin is still in office and in power, “regardless of the picture of the world which exists in his head.” Many analysts, including Shevtsova, have pointed out his repeated mistakes and missteps that in the case of almost any other leader would have led to disaster. But in the case of Putin, that is not what has happened. The people have not gone into the streets, the elites have not split, and his regime and system while making many mistakes continues to function more or less as he appears to want it. Of course, it is possible to speak about Putin and his dreams,” Shevtsova says. This is our accustomed and favorite way of spending time. But let’s reflect too only why Putin has been able to master the logic of rotting and what method he has employed to allow for his survival” far longer than many have expected. Because of the actuarial tables, Putin is “already on the way out, even if he for the present remains. His historic time is ending. Let’s think about what he has left us and what we will do with this inheritance because getting out of the current era will be much more complicated than getting out that of communism.” (emphasis supplied)
Paul Goble Staunton, November 23 – Because the Kremlin believes Russia is at risk of disintegration as long as non-Russian nations exist within it, Russia’s rulers are convinced that they must and can assimilate all non-Russians, forcing them to re-identify or at least to accept Russian submissiveness to state power as “a virtue,” according to Maksim Goryunov. The philosopher tells IdelReal’s Ramazan Alpaut that it uses all the resources at its disposal, from classical Russian literature like Dostoyevsky and Turgenev who taught that obedience and humility to the powers that be is a positive good to state power which convinces many non-Russians that they will do better if they re-identify (idelreal.org/a/29611464.html). Today, there are “more than 30 national formations of various kinds,” Goryunov continues. “The Kremlin well remembers 1991 when the country fell apart along national borders. There is also the history of 1918 when the empire also fell apart along national borders. And there is the general history of the disintegration of empires. They all fall apart.” Judging from the statements of Russian leaders, “the Kremlin sees a clear connection” between multi-nationality and “inevitable disintegration. And from that has come the decision: to remove nations from the political map of the country. If that happens, it will be able to preserve Russia in its current borders forever.” “The statistics, by the way, are on the side of the Kremlin,” the philosopher says. “The Udmurts and Chuvash are losing approximately one percent of their number every year. This does not mean that Udmurts and Chuvash are dying out. It is simply that people are deciding that they are no longer Udmurts or Chuvash but Russians.” “People in fact are rejecting their own identity,” he says. “The Kremlin is simply helping them take a decision favorable to it,” offering rewards to those who make the change and deprivations of various kinds to those who don’t. According to the Russian philosopher, “the Kremlin is certain it will be successful.” But there are reasons for thinking it won’t be, Goryunov continues. Among the most important is the economy. Russia is a raw material exporter and nothing more, and it is thus dependent on developments it cannot control. When the price of oil collapsed in 1991, so too did Russia with the nationality “question” re-emerging in spades. Moreover, Russia’s natural resource exports are really from non-Russian areas: oil and gas from the Khanty-Mansiisk AO, the Yamalo-Nenets AO, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan. Diamonds are from Sakha. And grain is from Adygeys, Stavropol kray and Krasnodar kray, “regions with a strong local identity.” Thus, it is no surprise, Goryunov says, that “Moscow is vitally interested in ensuring that these republics and krays will become humble and obedience Russian oblasts like Lipetsk and Ryazan.” For the country in Moscow’s view, that is “a question of survival,” not just economic development.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 23 – Alexander III famously said that Russia has only two allies, its army and its fleet; but Vladimir Putin clearly has a third – television. But he now faces problems with that ally as well: ever fewer Russians trust television and soon a large share of those who still do may not be able to view it because their analog TVs won’t resolve digital broadcasts. According to the Public Opinion Foundation, the share of Russians who trust government television has fallen from 70 percent in 2015 to 47 percent now. Seventy-four percent of Russians say federal TV channels should feature criticism of the authorities, and the share relying on TV for news has fallen from 87 percent in 2016 to 71 percent now (actualcomment.ru/gosudarstvennye-smi-teryayut-doverie-rossiyan-1811231130.html). Those who rely on television tend to be older, more rural, less educated and less well-off than those who don’t. Those who are younger, more urban, better educated, and better off are more likely to use the Internet and social media. And when the latter group does turn to television, it uses satellite broadcasts or cable. But because the former group does not, its members may soon not be able to view government television at all, and that is sparking worries among some in Moscow that without television, the backing of the social groups that have been the most consistent supporters of the Putin regime may decline further (forum-msk.org/material/news/15196557.html). Beginning in February and over the following three months, Moscow will be shifting all its television broadcasts from analog to digital. Officials estimate that there are between 16 and 25 million televisions manufactured and sold more than ten years ago that can only receive analog signals. Those who own them – and such people are concentrated among the older, more rural, less educated and less well-off social groups – after that time will not be able to watch federal television programs unless they buy new TVs, something their incomes in most cases won’t permit, or gain access to capable delivery systems. Given that television has been the Kremlin’s basic mobilizing tool over the last decade, many of its supporters are convinced that there will be a large decline in support for the regime and its policy among precisely the groups that have been its biggest supporters if members of such groups can’t view television on a regular basis. Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko expressed her alarm on that point, telling news agencies that “after the transition to digital TV, ‘the ranks of the pro-government electorate will get smaller.’” To avoid this, she urged that the government adopt a program to finance the purchase of new TVs or introduce adaptor boxes (newizv.ru/news/society/21-11-2018/pole-bez-chudes-otklyuchenie-analogovogo-tv-zatronet-samyh-bednyh-rossiyan). But the government, likely because of budget stringency, refused to go along and limited its support to call on the regions to do something about this new threat to public support for the regime. The regions don’t have the money to do much and so likely will limit their activities to warning people about what is coming rather than doing anything about it. With regard to other media, the Public Opinion Foundation Poll also reported that now only 37 percent of Russians don’t use social media, a figure that ranges from seven percent among those under 30 to 79 percent among the older generation. That means 93 percent of the young and 21 percent of the old now do, another challenge to TV (fom.ru/Obraz-zhizni/14137).
Paul Goble Staunton, November 23 – Many problems some Cossacks are now presenting in the North Caucasus, including demands for the return of territory from Chechnya, are the result of Krasnodar Kray’s decision in 1995 to treat that group of people not as a social stratum defined by employment but as an ethos “separate from the Russian people,” Vsevolod Zolotukhin says. The scholar at the Moscow Higher School of Economics tells Artur Priymak of Nezavisimaya gazeta that this policy has encouraged the Cossacks to think of themselves as a nation and to view “all the Slavic and non-Muslim population of the Kuban” as Cossacks rather than ethnic Russians (ng.ru/ng_religii/2018-11-20/10_454_krasnov.html). Zolotukhin says this Krasnodar policy, one at odds with Moscow’s, has “two dimensions. The first is that if the authorities as in tsarist times will decide who is an indigenous resident and who is someone who himself or his descendants has come from outside, it is possible that this will lead [within Russia itself] to the institution of non-citizens as in Estonia and Latvia.” “And the second is a reflection of its being next door to the North Caucasus. The authorities calculate that they must develop a firm regional identity. Otherwise the kray will become only a frontier region filled with problems like Stavropol where such an identity has not been formed among the Terek Cossacks.” There are at least three reasons why this is important – and why Moscow is trying so hard to discredit what the Krasnodar Kray officials are doing and the way the Cossacks are responding by accusing the latter of being atheists and supporters of anti-Moscow Patriarchate positions and Nazi collaborators. First of all, it highlights something Moscow doesn’t want to admit but that is very real: the Russian “nation” is in fact not a unified whole but rather a congeries of groups, each of which is trying to find its place in the sun. The Cossacks are only the most prominent, but they are of course far from the only one. Second, Krasnodar’s actions show that Moscow’s policy in this area has not been universally applied. Stavropol has fallen in line and insisted that Cossacks are an ethnic Russian stratum, but Krasnodar has not, concluding that it is better off to come to an understanding with the Cossacks in order to defend itself and its interests. And third, such regional variations in the treatment of Cossacks not only highlight the weakness of the Russian state on this question but also mean that Cossack groups like those in Krasnodar are in a position to cause the central government real problems by using the media, including the Internet, to demand territorial changes in their favor. Just as Priymak admits that the actions of Cossacks in Krasnodar vis-à-vis Chechnya are the result of developments in Ingushetia concerning the border accord with Ramzan Kadyrov, so too other groups within what Moscow views as the Russian “nation” are likely to be inspired by what the Cossacks of Krasnodar are doing, however much the center tries to discredit them.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 21 – One of the most noxious aspects of the Soviet system was the encouragement the authorities gave to people to turn in anyone they suspected of violating either the law or the party line at the time, an encouragement that undermined social cohesion and created near universal suspiciousness that restricted the ability of organized groups to emerge. That system reached its apogee under Stalin and then gradually declined in importance although it was not rejected even at the end of Soviet times. But since 1991, it has been viewed as something that the government should encourage only as part of the fight against terrorism or to unmask extremist groups. (For a discussion of the role snitching played in Soviet life and why most post-Soviet officials have not viewed it as something to be broadly encouraged, see V.A. Nekhamkin, “Snitching as a Socio-Psychological Phenomenon” (in Russian), Istoricheskaya psikhologiya i sotsiologiya istorii 7:2 (2014): 63-79 at socionauki.ru/journal/articles/254526/.) Now snitching is being encouraged more widely, sometimes for what may be innocent enough reasons such as combatting illegal parking in Moscow but other times for less innocent ones. And even when in the case of the innocent ones, there is a potential problem because it encourages Russians to think about turning others in. This week featured two reports about the encouragement of snitching, one of the “innocent” kind but another far more worrisome. In the first, officials reported that Muscovites had used a mobile app available since 2015 to turn in more than 1.3 million cases of parking violations (moslenta.ru/city/moskvichi-napisali-million-donosov-20-11-2018.htm). In the second, Moscow has been encouraging the regions to pay for the formation of groups who will engage in snitching about the behavior they observe online. Nominally focused on sites that may harm children, the effort which is Russia-wide has the potential to go after anything officials decide must be controlled (roskomsvoboda.org/43120/). Such organized snitching almost inevitably would have a penumbra of those interested in denouncing this or that individual or group even if they were not formally part of these groups which are about to be given legal form. And the existence of so many branches of this effort will have the effect of legitimating and spreading the return of this unfortunate phenomenon. On the location of current groups, their affiliations and some indication of their size, see the interactive map prepared by Radio Liberty which is headlined by the statement that “the army of snitchers in Russia is growing” (svoboda.org/a/armiya-donoschikov-v-rossii-rastet-chislo-kiberdruzhin/29596085.htm).
Radio Livery reports, citing the Netherlands media, that relatives of the 55 victims who died in the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 …
The amount of novichok inside the bottle used to poison Sergei Skripal could have killed thousands of people, an investigator has said. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who is leading the investigation into the Salisbury attack, said there was a “significant amount” of nerve agent left when the weapon was discovered by officers inside a victim’s home. When asked how many people it could have killed he told BBC Panorama: “It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands … the amount that was in the bottle and the way it was applied to the Skripals’ home address was completely reckless.”
THE Salisbury novichok attack could have killed ‘thousands’, a police chief has revealed.
Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga smile as they walk through Salisbury, in newly-released footage.
Detective Sgt. Nick Bailey said his family had to give up all its possessions for fear of contamination, after he was sickened in the assault on Sergei V. Skripal.
The UK detective who was the first to enter Sergei Skripal’s home after his poisoning gives his first interview, revealing he and his family have lost all their possessions after they were contaminated with the powerful nerve agent.
A police officer at center of the Sergei Skripal spy saga says his family “lost everything” because he inadvertently contaminated their home with Novichok.
THE Wiltshire police officer poisoned with Novichok in the Salisbury incident has spoken of his ordeal for the first time.
THE former head of MI6 has said the government was wrong about how much security Russian former spy Sergei Skripal needed while living in Salisbury.
The professor talks about the moment he discovered the substance used against the Skripals in Salisbury was novichok.
Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga smile as they walk through Salisbury, in newly-released footage.
A CHILLING reconstruction has revealed how Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by Novichok in Salisbury.
The Russian poisoning put the city in the news for all the wrong reasons. Now it hopes to move on from its annus horribilis
Iran has not declared all its chemical weapons capabilities to the global chemical warfare watchdog in The Hague, in breach of international agreements, the U.S. ambassador to the organization said…
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called for Muslims worldwide to unite in opposition to the United States.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Muslims worldwide on Saturday to unite against the United States, instead of “rolling out red carpets for criminals”.
In rare rhetorical outburst, Iranian president refers to Israel as a ‘fake regime’ created by Western powers.
Raed Fares, who heads Kafranbel-based Radio Fresh and survived a 2014 ISIL shooting, dies in gun attack, reports say.
Raed Fares’s videos and protest placards drew international attention to the plight of Syrians while angering both the government and extremists.
A Syrian radio host who satirized both President Bashar al-Assad and opposition insurgents including ISIS has been shot dead in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, the Syrian Journalists Association said Saturday.
U.S. and British officials mourned the loss a Syrian anti-government activist and radio host seen as a "symbol" of the uprising who was shot dead along with his colleague
Prince Turki al-Faisal says CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed Trump on Friday for “turning a blind eye” in Khashoggi’s death and putting money above human values.
The daughters of slain Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi penned an op-ed in their father’s former publication Friday.
This is not a eulogy, for that would imply some sense of closure.
The CIA has a recording of a phone conversation in which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman can be heard discussing how they should “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible,” according to a prominent Turkish columnist and journalist.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi, whose TLP party held massive protests against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal, has been arrested.
The UAE says it is considering a request to pardon Matthew Hedges, the British PhD student handed a life sentence for espionage.
At least seven people were killed in the attack, but none of the 21 Chinese nationals in the compound were harmed. In a separate attack in northwest Pakistan, dozens were killed in an open-air market.