Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (84)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia update – domestic meltdown continues. Goble’s Ten Pieces of Bad News from Russia Today says it all. The Kommersant (Russia’s answer to WSJ) mess is notable. Belarus update.

Syria – Assad may be conducting more CW strikes. ISIS fallout is a mess. More political mayhem in Turkey. Libya and other updates.

DPRK insults former VP Biden – not very creatively either! PRC reporting dominated by trade war and related topics, plus the illicit production and use of banned CFCs. Also an update on Pacrim.

EU elections, UN Chagos ruling. UK update. Miscellanea from Germany. Venezuela – most interesting is Sen Graham’s Grenada redux proposal – very Reagan era indeed.

Most interesting US domestic media reports are in the defense sector, sadly SECAF Wilson has departed. Space Force turbulence in Congress.


 

Russia / Russophone Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ten Pieces of Bad News from Russia Today
Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – As the lead character in the Ealing Studios’ classic film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” puts it, “sometimes the obituary columns brought good news, but sometimes the birth announcements brought bad” as he plotted to kill all those standing between him and the inheritance of a dukedom. One often feels something similar in reading the news from Russia today. Sometimes, there is a mix of good and bad; sometimes, more rarely, there is only good news; and sometimes, more often, there is a flood of bad news. The last few days have been examples of the last. Below are ten especially “bad” pieces of news:
1. As the economy has deteriorated, there has been a sharp spike in the number of beggars in Moscow, something not seen since the 1990s and an indication that many people are not only suffering but being driven to extreme measures (narzur.ru/rastushhee-socialnoe-neblagopoluchie/).
2. In yet another indication that one of the worst features of the Soviet system is returning, a Kazan court has sent a Tatar activist to a psychiatric hospital, the latest example of punitive psychiatry being used now as it was in Brezhnev’s time to try to “cure” people of dissident views (idelreal.org/a/29958206.html).
3. Russian police are now testing compact facial recognition cameras to allow them to identify participants in demonstrations so that they can be arrested later when the news cameras disappear from the streets (meduza.io/en/news/2019/05/22/russian-police-reportedly-begin-testing-compact-face-recognition-cameras).
4. Officials had to threaten judges in Yekaterinburg with dismissal to get the courts to convict those taking part in protests there against the construction of a cathedral in the central park, an indication of just how much the Russian authorities are prepared to abuse the judicial system (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/pravozashh-2/).
5. A new poll shows that a majority of Russians do not think that family violence is a serious problem in their country despite numerous reports suggesting otherwise (novayagazeta.ru/news/2019/05/23/151910-bolshe-poloviny-rossiyan-ne-schitaet-aktualnoy-problemu-domashnego-nasiliya). 6. Russian judges have left in place a six-year jail sentence imposed on Danish Jehovah’s Witness Dennis Kristensen, part of the continuing round of repression against members of that denomination (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5CE67186C4CFD).
 7. A court in Tatarstan has found a loophole that may allow it to ban basic Islamic religious texts. Because Muslims consider translations of the Koran an interpretation, Russian courts have the power to ban such translations despite Russian law and Kremlin commitments not to touch basic religious texts including the Koran (sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2019/05/d41042/).
8. Forty-Three Percent of Russians Still Oppose Equal Rights for LGBTs. Despite significant improvements over the last decade and particularly marked ones among young people, 56 percent of Russians say they have a negative attitude toward the gay community and 43 percent do not support its members from having equal rights (rbc.ru/politics/23/05/2019/5ce530039a7947172f79405d?from=from_main).
9. Most Russians Willing to Allow Employers to Violate the Law. In 2014, the Duma passed a law that required employers to allow their employees to deposit their pay in any bank that the workers specified. Most employers violate this law, but a majority of Russians say they don’t care (kommersant.ru/doc/3976871).
10. Persons Unknown Destroy Nemtsov Monument in Yaroslav. Vandals have destroyed a memorial plague in Yaroslavl on a house where murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov once lived. His supporters say that such people feel they can get away with such actions and all evidence suggests that is the case (https://76.ru/text/gorod/66098743/).
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Protests in Russian Regions rather than Non-Russian Republics May Shift Moscow’s View of Federalism, Gallyamov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – The fact that the two most important protests outside of Moscow in recent weeks have not been in non-Russian republics but in predominantly ethnic Russian regions is a “positive” development which may allow some in Moscow to recognize that federalism is not another word for separatism, Abbas Gallyamov says. The former Putin speechwriter says that “neither the people of Yekaterinburg nor the residents of Arkhangelsk can be called ethnic nationalists or separatists;” and consequently, the fact that they represent a serious conflict between the center and the regions undoubtedly is positive news” (idelreal.org/a/29956650.html). No one in Moscow can denounce them as separatists and consequently the issue of power-sharing changes, Gallyamov continues. “In this situation, the chances increase that the so-called ‘liberals’ in the leadership will be able to win a victory over ‘the hawks’ and the problem of changing the relationship between the center and the regions will be resolved in dialogue.” That is likely an overly optimistic assessment not only because, although the Moscow commentator doesn’t mention it, there are serious ethnic conflicts going on in Ingushetia, Sakha, and elsewhere; and any talk in Moscow about moving in the direction of any kind of decentralization will certainly involve discussions about these. Moreover as long as there are any national republics or even non-Russian nations aspiring to have one are within the borders of the Russian Federation, officials in the Kremlin are likely to continue to think about federalism in terms of its possible impact on the territorial integrity of the country rather than its impact on how the country can be better run. Gallyamov is just one of the experts IdelReal journalist Ramazan Alpaut interviewed in the wake of the anti-Moscow trash protests in the Arkhangelsk area and the demonstrations in Yekaterinburg to build a cathedral in the city’s main square. Moscow political analyst Konstantin Kalachev observes that in Yekaterinburg, “local and regional authorities were not able by any means to resolve the conflict without advice from above,” aa reflection of the fact that Russia today is “a centralized state” in which officials at all levels are subordinate to the powers that be in the center. “But even in such circumstances, one can and must take responsibility for one’s actions …[as] unitary systems do not necessarily live only under a constant regime of hands’ own management from Moscow. When centralization reaches to such an absurd level,” Kalachev says, “then federalism gains popularity.” The chief problem today in relations between the center and the regions grows out of a fundamental contradiction. “On the one hand, the center demands improved results, a growth in effectiveness, and readiness to carry out unpopular decisions” but “on the other, it wants the preservation of administrative control and social stability at any price.” This is “the Scylla and Charybdis” through which leaders have to navigate, he says. Putin realizes this is a problem, but the Kremlin leader doesn’t know what to do. Perhaps, Kalachev concludes, it is finally time to rethink some of this and open the way to a system in which those in power will care more about the population below them than those officials above them. Finally, Dmitry Oreshkin, another Moscow analyst, stresses another point. He notes that “the very Russian model of administration presupposes control but not development. In such a situation, all the regions are equally powerless” and lack mechanisms to influence decisions in the center. “The power vertical is good from the point of view of control over territory, but it is bad from the point of view of development.” It can deal with foreign threats by dispatching people and resources to counter them. That is enough to solve things. But in doing so, Oreshkin says, the system fails in an important sense: “the territory so defended doesn’t develop.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Protests Likely to Increase in Number but Remain Divided and Diffuse, Lev Gudkov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – Russians are angry at the authorities for impugning their dignity and are ready to protest, but they do not see any leaders who can channel such protests and make them effective, Lev Gudkov says. As a result, protests are likely to increase in the coming months but remain diffuse rather than focused on the powers that be. At the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg this week, the Levada Center director says popular anger has been growing more or less constantly since 2015 as Russians have concluded that the regime has no intention of trying to keep its part of the social contract (znak.com/2019-05-23/terpeniyu_lyudey_nastupaet_predel_protesty_budut_rasti_intervyu_lva_gudkova_levada_centr). “The number of local protests is already extraordinarily large,” Gudkov says, and “Putin’s high rating is accompanied by the most profound conviction in the totally corrupt nature of the entire system. By my crude estimate,” he continues, “every day appear three to five reports about corruption scandals.” As a result, there is an equally profound conviction among the population that “there is money in the country but that it has been seized by an egoistic and greedy bunch among the powers that be. And there is nothing that can be done about this,” even though it is increasingly hard to put up with. People are thus protest for individual reasons but “possibilities for the expression of group interests have been suppressed,” Gudkov says. The number of strikes has gone up by 70 percent over the last three years, but this kind of protest isn’t being transformed into “a democratic and responsible movement.” A major reason for that failure is that such events “do not appear on the federal television channels and thus do not become the focus of public opinion. They are consciously sterilized and kept out of public view.” And this highlights an important difference between Putinism and Stalinist totalitarianism. The rule of the current powers that be “is based not on direct force as was the case in the times of the totalitarian system … [it] is based on the manipulation of mass consciousness,” something that has become possible using information technologies and the government’s control of television. Only eight to ten percent of all media are beyond the regime’s direct control, Gudkov continues; and as a result, “people cannot get out of the system of propaganda.” The content of that propaganda, he points out, is remarkably similar to what Stalin used. Thus, arguments about Crimea repeated arguments about Finland in 1940. With regard to re-Stalinization, the sociologist says, the regime has proceeded extremely cleverly. But it is important to remember that “recognition [by respondents] of a positive role for Stalin does not mean a desire to live ‘as under Stalin.’” And consequently, there is no need for the regime now to deny that there were mass repressions and terror. Instead, Gudkov says, the current powers that be “say that ‘each country has its dark spots, we have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing must obscure the positive in the figure of Stalin and his achievements as the organizer of Victory.” That is “one argument,” the pollster says; but there is another. The current powers that be want it to be accepted that “only with an iron hand was it possible to transform a peasant country in to a most powerful nuclear superpower. In other words, modernization and Victory serve as justification after the fact of all crimes.” But the authorities do seek to minimize the number of Stalin’s victims. Twenty years ago, most Russians said Stalin killed millions; now, thanks to propaganda, most say that he killed “about a million.” And many are ready to reduce that number still further or even deny that he killed more than a handful. The Putin regime has been helped in this by the rise of a generation for whom Stalin is no more part of contemporary life than Chingiz Khan or Ivan the Terrible. They thus don’t understand the talk about him that dominated their parents’ conversations and don’t recognize what this shift in opinion opens the way to. There has also been a fundamental change in popular expectations, Gudkov says. At the end of 2013, three out of five Russians in major cities said “they were tired of waiting for Putin to fulfill his promises and 47 percent said that they did not want to see him continue as president for another term.” “But the anti-Ukrainian wave, the wave of propaganda about and confrontation with the West restored Putin’s rating and raised it back to its earlier levels,” Gudkov says. But the pension debacle drove it partially back down to what it is now, about 61 to 66 percent. And that figure shows that once again Russians have concentrated all their hopes on a single figure. What is going on, the sociologist says, is the working out of the old principle of “the good tsar and the bad boyars.” People may be angry and dissatisfied but they are expressing it less about Putin than one might expect but rather at Medvedev, ministers, and officials of a lower level, one more reflection of the weakness of Russian institutions.
Russian Court Orders Baring Vostok To Sell Bank Stake, Latest Blow For Equity Firm
The ruling is the latest twist in a case that has raised questions about the rule of law and the investment climate in Russia.
Russian police reportedly begin testing compact face recognition cameras — Meduza
Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry has begun testing cameras with facial recognition capabilities, Vedomosti reported. The devices were developed by NtechLab, which also created an algorithm called FindFace that generated controversy in Russia after it was used to recognize users’ social media photos. A representative for the company confirmed that it had created a new facial recognition gadget for Russia’s law enforcement agencies but denied that the Internal Affairs Ministry was involved in testing. The representative said tests were being conducted in collaboration with private security companies.
Xenophobia masquerading as environmentalism How politics, money, and racism turned Irkutsk against a Chinese bottling factory at Lake Baikal — Meduza
The construction of a bottling facility in the Lake Baikal area has been suspended, and the project’s Chinese investors might lose their lease on land that’s now home to a half-finished factory. For the past two months, the Irkutsk region and Moscow have witnessed a sustained mass campaign against the facility, even though there are other similar enterprises already operating at Lake Baikal. The factory’s opponents include singer and cosmetic artist Sergey Zverev and television presenters Victoria Bonya and Elena Letuchaya, and there are more than 1 million signatures on a Change.org petition calling for an end to the project. Even Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has weighed in against the bottling facility. In a special report, Romb Story journalist Natalya Telegina explains how a Chinese factory became the target of a mass protest, and how this campaign benefits both local politicians and oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
As youth activists in multiple Russian cities plan to join global climate strike, Moscow leader struggles to obtain permit — Meduza
Arshak Makichyan, a Moscow student who has been picketing weekly to push for action on the global climate crisis, wrote on Twitter that he had been denied a permit to join an international climate strike on May 24. On May 20, Makichyan posted an image of an official document denying government approval for a protest in the Russian capital. The document claimed that there would be no suitable location in the city for 500 activists to gather without disturbing other citizens. Makichyan expressed doubt about that claim and argued, “it’s meaningless to protest in the forest.”
Russian FSB Chief Warns Of IS Threat From Afghanistan
The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says that militants from the extremist group Islamic State (IS) have been amassing in northern Afghanistan, near its borders with former Soviet r…
Russian Security Service: Two Suspected Terror Plotters Killed In Vladimir Region
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says its officers have killed two men suspected of plotting a terrorist act in the Vladimir region east of Moscow.


Russian Libertarian Party Leader Hit With Feces In Kazan
The head of Russia’s libertarians has had feces dumped on him in the Tatar capital, Kazan, before a scheduled talk on May 19.
Navalny Aide Volkov Arrested, Charged Over Unsanctioned Rally
An associate of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he has been arrested and charged with organizing unsanctioned rallies.
Navalny Aide Volkov Jailed Over Unsanctioned Rally
A senior aide to Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has been sentenced to 20 days in jail on charges related to an unsanctioned rally in Moscow last September.
Jailed Rights Defender Titiyev Files Request For Early Release In Chechnya
Jailed Chechen human rights activist Oyub Titiyev has filed a request for early release, the Moscow-based rights group Memorial says.
News Agency Reports Arrests Of LGBT Activists In St. Petersburg
International news agencies are reporting that four people were arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia, during a protest by a small group of LGBT activists.
Kremlin comments on forced resignation of ‘Kommersant’ journalists — Meduza
 
‘This is an open attempt to repress free speech in Russia’ A statement by Kommersant’s employees following the mass resignation of their colleagues — Meduza
The staff of Kommersant, a major Russian newspaper, has posted a public statement to the publication’s readers after two of its journalists were forced to resign this morning and the entire politics department followed suit in protest. At the time of this publication, more than 120 Kommersant employees had signed on to the statement. It is translated in full below.
HRW: Kommersant Shake-Up Latest Episode In ‘Gutting’ Of Independent Russian Media
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has joined international and Russian media-freedom watchdogs in deploring the shake-up at Russia’s prominent newspaper Kommersant, calling it “the latest episode in the gut…
Scores Of Russian Journalists Pen Open Letter After Colleagues Fired
More than 180 journalists at the prominent Russian newspaper Kommersant have signed an open letter to readers, saying the country “deserved freedom of speech.”
Russian reporters resign en masse in row over Putin ally report – Reuters
A senior editor and 10 journalists at Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Monday they were resigning to protest against the firing of two colleagues over an article about a possible reshuffle of President Vladimir Putin’s close allies.
Russian reporters resign en masse in row over Putin ally report
A senior editor and 10 journalists at Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Monday they were resigning to protest against the firing of two colleagues over an article about a possible reshuffle of President Vladimir Putin’s close allies.
Political Reporters Quit Russia’s Kommersant En Masse In Solidarity With Sacked Colleagues
Almost a dozen journalists covering political news for the prominent Russian newspaper Kommersant have quit their jobs in solidarity with two colleagues who were fired over an article about a possi…
A crisis at ‘Kommersant’ What newspaper staff were told vs. what managers claim publicly — Meduza
On May 20, the public learned that Kommersant has forced out two journalists, special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov, at the insistence of the newspaper’s owner, Alisher Usmanov. The dismissals were reportedly the result of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko potentially stepping down to lead Russia’s Pension Fund, clearing the way for current Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergey Naryshkin. After Safronov and Ivanov were dismissed, Kommersant’s entire politics desk resigned in protest, plunging the outlet into a crisis. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief and the chairman of the board then accused Safronov and Ivanov of violating editorial standards, prompting a statement from the remaining staff that Kommersant’s shareholders “are right now destroying one of the best media outlets in Russia.” Meduza has learned more about how the situation with the Matviyenko story developed inside Kommersant’s newsroom, uncovering information that undermines claims from management that reporters broke any editorial standards.
‘Kommersant’ board chairman says journalists were fired for refusing to reveal their sources — Meduza
Ivan Streshinsky, Kommersant’s board chairman and publishing house owner Alisher Usmanov’s representative, told the website The Bell that the firing of journalists Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov is not connected to the content of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko stepping down to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin.
Two top Russian journalists are forced to quit, and an entire department follows — Meduza
On May 20, two top journalists at the Russian newspaper Kommersant announced their resignation. Special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov left the newspaper at the request of the company’s owner, Alisher Usmanov, after they published an article claiming that Russia’s Federation Council chairperson Valentina Matvienko might leave her post. Eleven other journalists, including Kommersant’s entire politics department, soon quit their jobs as well to protest the owner’s intervention.
Hang in there, friends ‘Meduza’ responds to censorship scandal at ‘Kommersant’ — Meduza
Kommersant’s billionaire owner, Alisher Usmanov, has forced out two of the newspaper’s journalists, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov, after they wrote a story claiming that Valentina Matviyenko might step down as Federation Council chairperson, to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin. You can read the article here.
Following Kommersant Dismissals, One Former Reporter Says Censorship Nothing New
An entire department at Russia’s Kommersant daily has resigned and hundreds of staffers have denounced attempts to repress free speech — and one former employee says he saw it coming.


Russian Judge Reportedly Forced To Resign Over Topless Selfie
A Russian judge who showed leniency in a high-profile terrorism case involving teenagers has resigned after a topless selfie taken years ago found its way into the hands of her bosses.
Investigator Says Narcotics Found At Apartment Of Russian Former Minister Abyzov
Mikhail Abyzov, a former Russian government minister arrested on charges of embezzling $62 million, was facing possible additional drug-related charges on May 23 after authorities announced that th…
Russian Lawmaker Facing Murder Charges Loses His Mandate
A Russian lawmaker from the ruling party who was arrested on murder charges during a parliament session in January has been stripped of his seat in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper parliament house.
Ex-Yukos Lawyer Sentenced In Absentia By Moscow Court
A court in Moscow has sentenced in absentia a former lawyer of the now-defunct oil giant Yukos, Pavel Ivlev, who has been residing in the United States since 2004.
Russia’s Investigative Committee reportedly received a second claim of high-ranking FSB racketeering two months ago and has not responded — Meduza
Alexander Shestun, the former government head for Moscow Oblast’s Serpukhovsky District, is in jail awaiting trial for embezzlement, bribery, and other charges. He had told journalists before his arrest that high-ranking officials in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and in Vladimir Putin’s administration had threatened to bring a criminal case against him. Now, Shestun’s press secretary, Vlada Rusina, has told journalists that the former district head submitted a racketeering complaint against an FSB general two months ago.
Parents Protest Russian School That Set Higher Admission Standards For Girls Than Boys
Parents in the Russian city of Perm are protesting a decision by a secondary school to lower the admission standards for boys and to require higher marks for girls to join classes.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Circassians Must Govern Themselves, Nalchik Roundtable Participants Say
Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – Yesterday, a group of experts from the Kabardino-Balkaria section of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Circassian activists took part in a roundtable in Nalchik devoted to the problems of federalism in Russia. The participants boldly declared that the Circassians must make decisions about their situation rather than having them made by outsiders. That may seem anodyne to many, but in the context of Russian rule over the North Caucasus in general and the Moscow-divided Circassian nation in particular it is almost a revolutionary act, an indication that the power vertical is beginning to collapse in the region and nations without hope are beginning to recover it. The Circassian portal Habze.org promises to post a video of the session in the coming days, but it has already published the speeches of two men who took part, Martin Kochesoko, the president of the Habze organization, and Azamat Shorman, a Nalchik Circassian activist (habze.org/у-черкесов-должно-быть-свое-самоупра). Kochesoko arguesthat “no one understands its problems better than the people, and in this sense federalism is the essence of self-government. But if one speaks in simple terms: when the power is cut off from the people, lives its own life and by its own group interests, it is impossible to struggle effectively with corruption or organize medical care or education for people.” “The problem of poverty is one that affects us but does not threaten the majority of bureaucrats. Their children study in Moscow and their relatives don’t receive medical treatment in Nalchik. It is n secret that those who divide up subsidies in agriculture and those who work the land, in the case in agriculture, are different people.” “For decades,” he continues, “we have been trying to raise and resolve the problems of our people, the development of the villages, the development of culture, the preservation of language, and the problem of repatriation of compatriots from abroad.” These have been private initiatives while the government has been “deaf and dumb” to them As a result, Kochsoko says, “we have come to the conclusion that we Circassian national activists can do nothing without a self-administration that works, without a return to our political life of the principles of federalism which are mandated by the Constitution. “ “We see as the main problem that the bureaucracy lives its own life, swallows up the budget, rights laws for itself, and takes decisions for itself. Why do 90 percent of budgetary funds not reach the people?” Why are eight or nine out of ten doctors working only for officials who can may them. Are they the only ones who get sick? The same thing is true in all aspects of life. The only way to change this, he argues, is “to put under the control of the people all budgetary expenditures, use of land, and other natural resources.” And we cannot count on officials to make these changes: “we must construct our own self-administration. We have a traditional form, the council (khasa),” and we can build self-administration around that. He adds that “people, society, the council must decide all main local issues.” They can do so in a transparent and effective way because experience shows that when they do so, things work; when officials say they will, the only thing that happens is the production of more claims that remain only on paper. In the coming weeks, Kochesoko says, his organization will offer a detailed program for the rebirth of self-administration, for land reform and also out ideas on issues of education, health care and repatriation.” Shorman applies these ideas to the situation in education in Nalchik. As a parent, he says, he can testify that the schools are in terrible shape and getting worse. They aren’t being repaired, teachers aren’t being paid adequately, and the children and their future are suffering. He says that parents like him want to take the situation under control. They are certain that they know the problems better that officials who send their children to Moscow to study, and they are confident that they can do better because they know and care, something that can’t be said of officialdom.
The Moscow government sent out warnings that a popular teen band might be dangerous for kids. Even the censors say otherwise. — Meduza
On May 21, Moscow’s Labor and Social Welfare Department sent a memo to various district governments and social welfare agencies recommending that they warn adoptive parents and guardians about the dangers of listening to the teen pop duo Friendzone. The memo followed Moscow ombudswoman Tatiana Potyaeva’s decision to take her concerns about the group to prosecutors and police. Potyaeva told Meduza that she only asked for an expert evaluation of the group’s music. Russia’s communications regulation agency, Roskomnadzor, already investigated Friendzone’s lyrics this year and found no potentially harmful material. Despite its charming high school vibe, Friendzone has faced resistance since November, when complaints from parents’ groups and local authorities shut down two of the group’s concerts.
‘Forbes’ releases Russian ‘30 under 30’ rating for the first time — Meduza
The Russian edition of Forbes has released its first set of “30 under 30” profiles naming the most promising young Russians in 10 categories from sports to public service. The winners were selected from a pool of 100 nominees by Forbes staff and a council of experts. Among the most prominent awardees were the following young Russians:
Russian investigative journalists find a $36-million mansion outside Moscow that’s guarded by Putin’s secret service and owned by firms tied to his rich friends — Meduza
Companies tied to two close friends of Vladimir Putin — Mikhail Kovalchuk and Gennady Timchenko — own a large plot of land in a prestigious residential area in Moscow’s western suburbs that’s guarded by the Federal Protective Service (FSO), according to a new investigative report by the website Proekt.
Russian Files Chechnya ‘Gay Purge’ Complaint With European Rights Court
A gay Russian man who says he was abducted and tortured by police in Chechnya has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after Russian investigators refused to open a crim…
Russian streaming service apologizes to frustrated fans after delaying ‘Game of Thrones’ finale by 90 minutes — Meduza
The streaming service Amediateka, which holds exclusive distribution rights for the wildly popular television series Game of Thrones in Russia, apologized to its subscribers for a 90-minute delay in the broadcast of the show’s final season on the morning of May 20.
Woman stabs boyfriend to death because he threw her cat against wall | World | News | Express.co.uk
A WOMAN stabbed her live-in boyfriend to death in a brutal attack after he threw her cat against a wall.
Netherlands Wins Eurovision Song Contest; Russia Finishes Third
The Netherlands, one of the pre-event favorites, won the Eurovision Song Contest finals, earning the country the right to host next year’s pop music festival.
Putin’s Purported Daughter Defends Dissertation
Katerina Tikhonova, who is said to be the daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, defended her dissertation at Moscow State University on May 24. Cameras were not present when she spoke, but a Current Time journalist filmed her speaking on his mobile phone.
Russia’s St. Petersburg Chosen To Host 2023 World Ice Hockey Championships
The city of St Petersburg has been chosen to host the 2023 world ice hockey championships, bringing the tournament back to Russia for the first time since 2016.

 


 

Belarus Reports

 


 

Holocaust Victims’ Remains Buried In Belarus
The remains of more than 1,000 Holocaust victims were laid to rest in a solemn ceremony in the city of Brest in Belarus. The remains, discovered at a construction site in January, were buried in coffins covered with the Star of David on May 22. The burial at a cemetery outside of Brest was attended by city officials, Jewish community leaders, and diplomats. Belarus was home to a large Jewish community before World War II. The Nazi wartime administration confined an estimated 28,000 people in a Jewish ghetto in Brest until it was destroyed in October 1942, when thousands were executed.
Remains of 1,200 Holocaust victims are laid to rest in Belarus | Daily Mail Online
Hundreds of mourners took part in the ceremony near Brest, in modern-day Belarus, as the skeletal remains of 1,214 Jewish victims of the Nazis were laid to rest after being found in a mass grave.
Belarusian Police Raids Caused Romany Woman’s Death, Relatives Say
Relatives of an elderly Romany woman who was buried in eastern Belarus on May 22 say her death was caused by “wrongful raids” by special police forces six days before.
Serbia, Belarus Among Ten Countries Advancing To Eurovision Final
Ten countries, including Belarus and Serbia, have qualified for the final of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, the annual europop song fest that draws tens of millions of viewers from around the gl…

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

 


 

Syria says missiles fired from Israeli-held territory at Damascus | News | Al Jazeera
Air defences intercept missiles fired at western Damascus from direction of occupied Golan Heights, state media reports.
Air Strikes In Syria Hit Hospitals, Including Maternity And Children’s Center : Goats and Soda : NPR
Strikes by the government and its allies have dealt a devastating blow to Idlib province in the north, where the conflict has escalated since late April.
Report: ‘Foreign bodies’ enter Syrian airspace from Israel – ABC News
Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.
US Probes Suspected Chlorine Attack – Defense One
Military action against Syria over the use of chlorine would represent a de facto shift in policy.
US warns Assad against using chemical weapons as fighting escalates in Syria – ABC News
Fighting in the last rebel stronghold in Syria has prompted U.S. warnings that it has seen signs Bashar al Assad is preparing to use chemical weapons.
Iraq Brings the Islamic State to Justice – Foreign Policy
The country’s trials have been brutally efficient, but will the U.N. deem them fair?
Misery Grows At Syrian Camp Holding ISIS Family Members : NPR
In recent visits to the camp, NPR was told of babies dying of malnutrition, and found women collapsed by roadsides. “There’s a lack of supplies and the numbers of patients are huge,” a doctor says.
Syrian government documents show reach of Assad’s agencies | Fox News
A Washington-based Syrian watchdog says thousands of documents collected from abandoned Syrian government offices reveal the reach of President Bashar Assad’s security agencies, offering a rare glimpse into the inner workings of his secretive apparatus.
Niece of Syrian ruler al-Assad loses £25,000 in UK bank account because it breached sanctions law | Daily Mail Online
Aniseh Chawkat, 22, the niece of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rented a flat in London for more than £60,000 per year and benefited from 56 cash deposits into her account in 2017 and 2018.


Deposed Istanbul Mayor Blasts ‘Lies’ Used to Annul Election
ISTANBUL — Istanbul’s deposed mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said Wednesday that no one believed the “lies” used to overturn his recent election and called on voters to “correct this great shame” in next month’s re-run. “Nobody believes their claims,” Imamoglu said at a meeting in Istanbul to launch his re-election campaign. He accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party of peddling “lies” and “excuses” to overturn his narrow victory in the mayoral election in March. “When I look at their facial expressions, I see that they themselves do not believe them either,” Imamoglu said. The election board earlier this month accepted the ruling party’s allegations of “irregularities” and called a re-run of the vote for June 23. Imamoglu’s victory for the opposition of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the first time Erdogan’s Islamic-conservative party and its predecessors had lost control of the metropolis in 25 years. Analysts say the government is reluctant to cede control of Turkey’s biggest city, which provides its mayor with significant resources for patronage as well as a high-profile platform. “We will show the whole of Turkey on June 23 that there is no way out other than democracy and the ballot box,” Imamoglu said. “Come and let’s correct this great shame and unfairness all together.” Imamoglu said his campaign would focus on reversing extravagant spending in the city’s finances which he said he discovered during his brief 18-day stint as mayor. “The resources of Istanbul municipality are being plundered… Istanbul municipality is not the property of a handful of people,” he said. The opposition candidate also accused the ruling party of copying his proposals, including reduced water bills and discounted student transport, saying it was like a schoolboy copying his homework. But he sought to maintain a positive message, in line with his efforts to bring unity to Turkey’s fiercely partisan politics. “We will embrace everyone. … Everyone is a patriot. … You will see at the end of this process we will love each other more.” The election board was due to release later on Wednesday its full explanation for cancelling the results of the first election. It did not annul the votes for the city council that were cast at the same time, and where the majority of seats went to Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party.
Risk to Turkey’s Economy Deepens With New Istanbul Election – The New York Times
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is spending billions to prop up the currency amid new economic turmoil. The question is how long it can last.
Turkey says U.S. scrapping trade deal contradicts goals – Reuters
The U.S. decision to end its preferential trade agreement with Turkey contradicts their $75 billion bilateral trade target, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on Friday, but welcomed Washington’s move to halve tariffs on steel imports.
Turkey orders arrest of 206 foreign ministry personnel | News | Al Jazeera
Warrants issued for past and present ministry employees for having alleged links to group blamed for 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey seeks 249 suspects over cheating at ministry exam | Fox News
Authorities in Turkey have issued detention warrants for 249 people as part of an investigation into alleged cheating during exams to recruit staff to the country’s foreign ministry between 2010 and 2013.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ankara, Under Pressure from Moscow and Out of Its Own Concerns, Backs Away from Circassians
Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – Russians have always been more obsessed with emigres than other peoples because so much of their national history has been made by those who voluntarily or involuntarily ended up abroad and then who returned intellectually or in person to transform their country. That attitude was especially widely held in Soviet times because the Bolshevik revolution was made by a group led by a clutch of emigres who returned only a few months earlier and in their own words “turned the world upside down.” Post-Russian leaders informed by these Soviet attitudes are no exception. The Putin regime pays far more attention to emigres than any other contemporary state, and its attentions are anything but neutral. Instead, Moscow works to ensure that those from Russia who now live abroad have as difficult a time as possible unless they are prepared to work on behalf of the Kremlin. Moscow today is especially obsessed with non-Russian groups as its attacks on Chechens living abroad and with non-Orthodox ones as reflected in its efforts to ensure that other countries do not offer asylum to Jehovah’s Witnesses even as Russian oppression drives many of both these communities as well as others to seek refuge in the West. But perhaps the diaspora Moscow is now most concerned with is one that has existed for more than a century and numbers more than five million, the Circassians, whose increasing activism abroad and at home threatens the Moscow-imposed order in the North Caucasus (jamestown.org/program/circassians-mark-two-important-anniversaries-and-look-to-future-with-confidence). Moscow has employed two strategies against this group which has long enjoyed some support from the Turkish government, support that has always been limited by Ankara’s Turkish-centric approach and its fears that providing too much backing to the Circassians could inflame relations with Moscow and undermine domestic cohesion given the Kurds. On the one hand, the Russian government has sought to divide the Circassian community by creating alternative and pro-Russian NGOs among the Circassians and by deploying representatives of republics in the North Caucasus who are compelled to be loyal to Moscow to interact with Turkey as the “true” voice of the Circassians (paragraphs.online/article/382-cherkesskaya-diaspora-vystupit-provodnikom-kontaktov-mezhdu-rossiey-i-turtsiey). And on the other, Moscow has both played up fears about the Kurds to prompt Turkey to back away from the Circassians, fears that have only grown in recent times because of developments in Syria and Russian arguments that Turks are now more ready to listen to because of the Erdogan government’s current rapprochement with Russia. That has led to two developments in the past week that are most unwelcome among Circassians. For the first time in 15 years, the Turkish authorities have banned a march by Circassians to the Russian consulate in Istanbul on May 21, the day on which Circassians recall their 1864 deportation from Moscow (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/335738/). And on the same day, deputies from Turkey’s ruling part blocked consideration of a resolution declaring those events to be a genocide, an action that likely reflects not just Russian influence but Turkey’s concerns that any move on this point would open the door to new discussions about Armenians in 1915 (facebook.com/asker.sokht/posts/2674887175886369). Some Circassians may be dispirited by these developments, but they shouldn’t be. They show just how important their national movement has become in the eyes of Moscow, and any Turkish approach adopted now when Ankara’s relations with Moscow are warm is almost certain to be reversed when as they inevitably will those ties cool.


US lawmakers ask FBI to investigate Libyan general praised by Trump – CNNPolitics
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray asking the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of war crimes against renegade Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who is also an American citizen.
Libya armed group cuts off water supply to Tripoli | News | Al Jazeera
UN says water interruption by armed group ‘may be considered war crime’, as Tripoli government blames Haftar’s forces.
Libyan gunmen halt water pipeline to besieged Tripoli – Reuters
Gunmen have cut off the main water pipeline to Libya’s besieged capital, Tripoli, spelling more misery for residents already reeling from weeks of fighting.
Libya’s Coming Forever War:Why Backing One Militia Against Another Is Not the Solution
On April 15, President Donald Trump telephoned Libyan militia commander Khalifa Haftar and praised his Libyan National Army’s offensive against the
Libya’s Haftar Reportedly Rules Out Cease-fire in Talks with France’s Macron
French officials have for several weeks called for an unconditional cease-fire in the battle for Tripoli after Khalifa Haftar last month launched an offensive on the Libyan capital
Libyan capital, under siege, gets water back after 2 days | Fox News
Authorities say the Libyan capital, which has been under attack by commander Khalifa Hifter’s forces since last month, has seen its water supplies resume two days after gunmen shut the pipes down, depriving over 2 million residents of water.


Al Jazeera suspends journalists for Holocaust denial video – BBC News
The Al Jazeera video claimed that Jewish people exaggerate the extent of the Holocaust.
Al Jazeera journalists suspended after posting anti-Semitic video about Holocaust | TheHill
Al Jazeera suspended two journalists after they posted a video that questioned “how true” the Holocaust is.
How Not to Win the Afghan War: Afghanistan’s Ability to Defend Itself is Being Hurt by an American Effort to Help
By Mark Thompson National-security rookies, as well as some senior Pentagon types, think that weapons are military muscle. But logistics is the blood that pumps all military hardware to life, and the people who operate and maintain them are their brains—without those two key elements, military muscle is little more than rotting flesh. The Pentagon is shipping UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to Afghanistan faster than it can train the pilots and mechanics needed to operate them. Take the Pentagon’s F-35, the cutting-edge jet fighter being flown by the Air Force, the Marines, and the Navy. It’s the costliest weapon system in history, being built by Lockheed Martin, the Defense Department’s biggest contractor. Yet despite all this money and expertise, nearly one out of three of the Pentagon’s F-35s can’t fly because spare-parts bins are empty. That’s leading to a lot of expensive hardware sitting around doing nothing. Given that the U.S. military seems to have forgotten the most important anatomy lessons of military power, it’s not surprising that it is teaching the wrong lessons to its allies in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is shipping more UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters there than it has the pilots and mechanics needed to operate them. Not only that: according to a blistering report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction there seems to be no coordination among U.S. and Afghan officials to fix the problem. In a nutshell, the U.S. government is forcing the Afghan air force out of its simple Russian Mi-17 helicopters into more complex American-made UH-60 Black Hawks. The switch to the more complicated U.S. choppers is hampering the Afghan government’s hold on power, and risks the marginal gains made in 18 years of war since the United States invaded in 2001. As the Project On Government Oversight reported last June, the U.S. helicopters do less and cost more than the Mi-17s. Afghanistan’s lack of airpower is apparently allowing the Taliban to continue to gain control over more of the country (though the U.S.-led coalition has stopped making such information public).
‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh set for release from prison – ABC News
John Walker Lindh, once dubbed the ‘American Taliban,’ is set for an early exit from prison after 17 years behind bars on terrorism charges.
In southern Afghanistan, U.S. airstrikes kill up to 18 members of Afghan forces  – The Washington Post
U.S. military officials described a ‘tragic accident’ and ‘miscommunication’ during heavy fighting. 
The US accidentally killed more than a dozen Afghan policemen in an airstrike after a ‘miscommunication’ | Business Insider
A US airstrike conducted Thursday in Afghanistan killed more than a dozen local policemen and wounded just as many.

 


 

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 


 

North Korea calls Joe Biden an “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being” after Biden called Kim Jong Un a tyrant – CBS News
North Korea has often unleashed crude insults against U.S. and South Korean politicians
North Korea slams Joe Biden as a ‘fool of low IQ’
North Korea’s official news agency said Joe Biden had insulted the country’s supreme leadership and committed an “intolerable and serious politically motivated provocation.”
North Korea’s Joe Biden ‘imbecile’ insult and what it tells us – BBC News
Calling the former vice-president a “fool of low IQ” is part of North Korea’s propaganda strategy.
Joe Biden the subject of critical editorial published by North Korea’s state-owned media agency | Fox News
North Korea’s news agency published a scathing op-ed on Tuesday, deriding former Vice President Joe Biden’s intelligence, demeanor and all-around quality as a human being.
Biden campaign, unfazed by N. Korea insults, says it’s ‘no surprise’ rogue nation prefers Trump | Fox News
Joe Biden’s campaign said Wednesday it was “no surprise” North Korea prefers President Trump in response to scathing criticism from the rogue nation’s state-run media agency earlier this week in which it questioned his intelligence and called him “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being”
North Korea says it won’t resume talks unless US changes position | Fox News
North Korea says it will never resume nuclear talks with the U.S. unless the Trump administration modifies its position on unilateral demands for disarmament.
Tens of thousands of North Korean women ‘sold into China sex trade and systemically raped’ | The Independent
Tens of thousands of North Korean women and girls are trafficked and sold into the sex trade in China where they are forced to endure systemic rape, sexual slavery and cybersex trafficking, according to a new report. 
Report claims North Korean women sold into sex slavery in China – CNN
Thousands of North Korean women and girls are being trafficked and sold into sexual slavery in China, where many are sold as wives to Chinese men while others are forced into prostitution or to live stream sex acts against their will, a new report claims.
North Korea urges UN chief to act against US ship seizure | Fox News
North Korea is denouncing the United States as “a gangster country” for recently seizing one of its cargo ships and is calling on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take “urgent measures” to contribute to stabilizing the Korean peninsula.
North Korea warns U.S. over seized ship at rare U.N. news conference – Reuters
North Korea stepped up its campaign on Tuesday for the United States to return a seized cargo ship belonging to Pyongyang, warning Washington that it had violated its sovereignty in a move that could affect “future developments” between the countries.


As New Cold War Looms, China Struggles to Grasp Trump’s End Game – Bloomberg
When Donald Trump first took office in 2017, officials in Beijing saw a pragmatic businessman: All that tough campaign talk, they argued, was merely “Art of the Deal” negotiating tactics rather than deeply held beliefs.
US destroyer sails in disputed South China Sea to ‘challenge excessive’ claims by China | Fox News
For the second time this month, the U.S. destroyer Preble sailed near islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea while the two countries engage in a trade fight.
U.S. warship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade tensions – Reuters
The U.S. military said one of its warships sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.
U.S. Ships Pass Through Taiwan Strait as China Tensions Climb – Bloomberg
U.S. naval ships transited through the Taiwan Strait as faltering trade talks and the Trump administration’s move to restrict Chinese tech companies’ access to the American market fuels tensions.
U.S. Navy again sails through Taiwan Strait, angering China – Reuters
The U.S. military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its latest transit through the sensitive waterway, angering China at a time of tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies.
How China Seizes Its Neighbors’ Waters
The Trump administration must adopt a more robust pushback strategy in the South China Sea. Without one, it will fail in its goal to defend freedom of the seas.
Great Power Rivalry Is Also a War For Talent – Defense One
China’s military is working harder to find and keep good people. The U.S. must step up its own efforts.


China Faces New ‘Long March’ as Trade War Intensifies, Xi Jinping Says – The New York Times
The Chinese leader invoked a time of hardship before success in Communist Party history, at a time when the economy and consumers face other challenges.
China’s new propaganda song goes viral – CNN Video
China released a new anti-US propaganda song called “Trade War.” The song is lighting up social media in China and is part of a wide propaganda push.
Chinese state media hits out at ‘fabricated’ U.S. tech claims – Reuters
The United States has “fabricated” accusations that China forces firms to hand over technology in exchange for market access, China’s top Communist Party newspaper said on Saturday, the latest salvo in a bitter trade war.
China ready for further U.S. trade talks, ambassador says – Reuters
Beijing is ready to resume trade talks with Washington, China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said, as a top U.S. business lobby in China said nearly half its members are seeing non-tariff barrier retaliation in China due to the trade war.
China says trade talks can’t continue unless US addresses actions
A Ministry of Commerce spokesperson did not mention any U.S. actions specifically, but it’s been a tense couple of weeks for the trade negotiations.
Forced Tech Transfers Are on the Rise in China, European Firms Say – WSJ
European businesses in China say forced technology transfers to local firms have become more common over the past two years as foreign firms battle for access in the world’s second-largest economy.
Huawei in the Trump Administration’s Crosshairs as US-China Economic Warfare Escalates | The Diplomat
Huawei is in trouble.
Google ban kills Huawei’s global ambitions | News | The Times
Huawei’s dream of getting a seat at the top table of the global technology industry has been dealt a potentially fatal blow. Last night Google suspended the Chinese giant’s access to its smartphone software in a move predicted to destroy its mobile phone business outside China. The devastating move
Trump contradicts himself on Huawei in a single sentence; says firm is huge security threat but could also be bargaining chip in China trade war | Business Insider
US President Donald Trump has made his first meaningful remarks on the Huawei firestorm since his administration blacklisted the Chinese tech giant last week.
Trump says ‘dangerous’ Huawei could be included in U.S.-China trade deal – Reuters
President Donald Trump said on Thursday U.S. complaints against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd might be resolved within the framework of a U.S.-China trade deal, while at the same time calling the Chinese telecommunications giant “very dangerous.”
Explainer: China’s rare earth supplies could be vital bargaining chip in U.S. trade war – Reuters
Rare earth elements are used in a wide range of consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, as well as military jet engines, satellites and lasers.
China Raises Threat of Rare-Earths Cutoff to U.S. – Foreign Policy
Beijing could slam every corner of the American economy, from oil refineries to wind turbines to jet engines, by banning exports of crucial minerals.
China’s latest trade war card isn’t as strong as Beijing thinks – CNNPolitics
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s actions this week have been rich with symbolism.
Xi’s Trip to Rare Earths Plant Stokes Talk of Trade Retaliation – Bloomberg
President Xi Jinping’s visit to a rare earths facility fueled speculation that the strategic materials could be weaponized in China’s tit-for-tat with the U.S. on trade.
China’s History Foretold Breakdown of U.S. Trade Talks – Bloomberg
The Trump administration has underestimated the strength of resistance to a foreign order imposed by force.
Trump China Feud Echoes Another U.S. Trade War Two Centuries Ago – Bloomberg
That conflict was born out of a trade war (a British embargo of France) and fought at least partly as a trade war (a British blockade of America). It also yielded another trade war.


Rogue Chinese factories damaging ozone with use of illegal gases | Fox News
In May 2018, a startling study revealed that there was an “unexpected and persistent increase” of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere. At the time, scientists could not pinpoint the exact location of the ozone-depleting gas, but subsequent media reports suggested that the clues lead to a rural, industrial town in China. Now, a new study confirms that the rise in CFCs is indeed coming from northeastern China based on atmospheric observations.
China emits illegal greenhouse gas that destroys ozone layer: Study
China accounted for 40% to 60% of the global increase in trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, emissions between 2014 and 2017, a study found.
Scientists Have Pinpointed The Mystery Source Of An Ozone-Destroying Chemical | Gizmodo Australia
The recovery of the ozone hole has been a quintessential environmental success story, as the world has worked largely in harmony for decades to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. So last year’s discovery that emissions of CFC-11, one of those banned chemicals, was suddenly reversing course came as a shock….
Increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern China based on atmospheric observations | Nature
Letter
The German Data Diver Who Exposed China’s Muslim Crackdown – WSJ
Research by Adrian Zenz, a born-again Christian anthropologist working alone in a German suburb, thrust China and the West into one of their biggest clashes over human rights in decades, after he showed how China built internment camps and surveillance networks and recruited police officers to run them.


China Has Been Running Global Influence Campaigns for Years – Defense One
Pro-China protests ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics were orchestrated by Chinese officials. The world thought they were a spontaneous showing of …
The Senkaku paradox | The Japan Times
The U.S. and its allies must prevent local military crises from escalating into great power wars.
Vietnam Is the Chinese Military’s Preferred Warm-Up Fight | The Diplomat
At some point, the Chinese military will need to test its new capabilities – and Vietnam is likely the preferred adversary.
With Joko Widodo’s Re-Election, Indonesia Bucks Global Tilt Toward Strongmen – The New York Times
The president of the world’s third-largest democracy won a second term Tuesday, and vowed in an interview to protect pluralism and fight growing extremist threats.
Jakarta clashes continue for second night over election result | News | Al Jazeera
Indonesian police arrest hundreds of people as fresh rioting erupts overnight after announcement of election result.
Australia’s China Challenge – The New York Times
With Beijing pushing as far as it can wherever it can in the era of President Xi Jinping, Australia has become a global case study in Chinese government influence.
Australian Voters Reject Leftist Ideas | National Review
Voters rejected a sweeping Labor-party platform that urged Australia to move in a dramatically leftward direction on everything from higher taxes on retirement income to greater benefits for indigenous people to an ambitious program to reduce carbon emissions.
Australia just voted to put Australia’s interests first — another win for Trump nationalism? – Washington Times
The Nationalist Spring is alive and growing as Australia’s conservative prime minister Scott Morrison’s unexpected win on Saturday appears to show.
Americans hail ‘the Trump effect’ in Australian election after pollsters catastrophic blunder  | Daily Mail Online
The Coalition won despite months of predictions that they would lose – echoing how the US president rose to power against pollsters’ predictions in 2016.
GREG BAILEY. Problematic Trends Emerging from the 2019 Federal Election. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
Irrespective of who finally wins Saturday’s election-and it looks like the ultra-conservative forces–, certain deeply disturbing observations can be made about the state of the Australian polity and the electorate. These evoke cultural and regional fissures long existing in Australia and an apparent shift away from any kind of critical thinking in making political and…

 


 

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

Voting has begun in the most divisive E.U. Parliament election in a generation
Voting is underway in two of the 28 nations taking part in the E.U. Parliament elections, which will affect the lives of 500 million people.
EU parliamentary elections and the future of Europe
Political experts believe the vote could give more insight into national politics in each member state, rather than on the future of the EU itself.
The Most Interesting Candidates Running For European Parliament
This week, citizens of all 28 EU member states will elect 751 members to the European Parliament. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting candidates running for a seat in the chamber.
Estonian President to EU Centrists: Be a Voice for Disenfranchised
President Kersti Kaljulaid says vowing to give voice to the voiceless can quell frustrations forcing voters to the political fringe
Why Territorial Sovereignty Should Be Flexible | The National Interest
To insist that in reality borders are forever fixed is to prevent frozen conflicts from ever being resolved.
Big Business Is Big Politics – Foreign Policy
Don’t underestimate the danger of crony capitalism.
Chagos Islands: UK suffers major defeat as UN votes to endorse decolonization – CNN
The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the UK’s continued occupation of the Chagos Islands — a humiliating defeat for London on its continued colonial legacy.
Britain loses UN vote over Chagos islands | Mauritius News | Al Jazeera
Indian Ocean archipelago was at the centre of decades-long dispute over the UK’s decision to separate it from Mauritius.
Chagos Islands dispute: UN backs end to UK control – BBC News
In a non-binding vote, the General Assembly demands the UK give the islands back to Mauritius.


Theresa May tears up as she resigns as UK Prime Minister – CNN Video
The embattled Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, announces her resignation in a tearful statement after failing to deliver her Brexit plan.
Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister, Resigns: Live Updates – The New York Times
Mrs. May announced Friday morning that she would be stepping down, after repeatedly failing to win Parliament’s approval for a deal to withdraw Britain from the European Union.
UK PM Theresa May announces resignation amid fury over Brexit handling | Fox News
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday that she will resign her premiership — ending her months-long struggle to keep her job despite seething anger from her own Conservative Party over her handling of Brexit.
Farewell then Ms Maybot, you were almost human after all | The Independent
“Boris has negotiated in Europe. I seem to remember last time he did a deal with the Germans, he came back with three nearly-new water cannon.” A great joke that, and well delivered too, by a woman looking decidedly happy with her lot in life, comfortable in a tartan Vivienne Westwood trouser suit and comfortable in her own skin. Eleven days later she became prime minister,
Theresa May abandons plan for vote on Brexit bill | News | The Times
Theresa May has abandoned her plans to force MPs to vote on her “new Brexit deal” in the latest sign that she is preparing to quit Downing Street.Tory MPs were told yesterday that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be put to a Commons vote on June 7.That plan was abandoned today, however, following
Theresa May’s steady diet of faint hope – BBC News
Could fear of a no-deal Brexit give Theresa May one last shot at achieving her “mission impossible”?
EU Parliament Elections: U.K. Votes For Legislators As It Struggles To Exit EU : NPR
As many pro-Brexit voters express nostalgia for an earlier time in the country’s history, the governing Conservative Party could face a humiliating defeat in European elections.
How Neil Farage’s Brexit Party Is Crushing Its Opponents – The New York Times
Its candidates’ politics have little in common beyond gunning for a quick, hard Brexit, but that hardly matters. For now, anyway.
Nigel Farage blasted by rivals as they face thrashing from Brexit Party at European elections | Fox News
Desperate Tory and Labour chiefs attacked Nigel Farage in a last-ditch bid to stop him trouncing them at the euro elections, as the nation goes to the polls tomorrow.


Angela Merkel Pressured to Resign by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – Bloomberg
Angela Merkel is feeling pressure from her chosen successor to quit as German chancellor after this month’s elections for the European parliament, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
Merkel says Croatia’s euro ambitions very realistic – Reuters
German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday Croatia was well on track to join the European common currency by 2024, citing the youngest EU member’s economic development.
Germany designates BDS Israel boycott movement as anti-Semitic – Reuters
The German parliament voted on Friday to condemn as anti-Semitic a movement that calls for economic pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian land, grant Arab citizens equal rights and recognize the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
Survivors of Nazi Commune in Chile: Germany’s Compensation Not Enough
Germany said Friday it would pay the funds to the victims of Colonia Dignidad commune founded in 1961 by Paul Schaefer, a former Nazi soldier.
Retrial of ‘Sharia police’ suspects opens in Germany | Fox News
Seven men accused of posing as a self-styled “Sharia police” in Germany have gone on trial for the second time, on charges they violated rules on wearing uniforms.
German Holocaust archive puts millions of documents online
BERLIN — The International Tracing Service in Germany has uploaded more than 13 million documents from Nazi concentration camps, including prisoner cards and death notices, to help Holocaust researchers and others investigate the fate of victims.
Germany Hands Israel Thousands of Kafka Confidant’s Papers
Papers include a 1910 postcard and documents kept by Max Brod, which experts say open a window into Europe’s 20th century literary and cultural scene


Denmark Targets Migrants in ‘Ghetto’ Crackdown Ahead of EU Election
The Danish government has adopted the word ghetto in a crackdown on migrant communities that many critics say is testing equality under the law
D-Day mistake caused ‘secret massacre’ of French village
The inhabitants of Graignes were swift to help, feeding the U.S. troops, relaying intelligence and retrieving their equipment from the marshland. The village would pay a heavy price for offering assistance. It would lead to what they now call the “secret massacre” of D-Day.


Lindsey Graham | Match Words With Actions in Venezuela, Mr. President – WSJ
Follow Reagan’s example in rescuing Grenada from Cuban domination.
Lindsey Graham wants U.S. military in Venezuela | Miami Herald
Sen. Lindsey Graham said the U.S. military should invade Venezuela and oust Maduro if Cuba does not immediately remove its personnel from the country and called Cuba the Western Hemisphere’s version of Iran.
Graham: ‘US must be willing to intervene in Venezuela’ | TheHill
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote in an op-ed Wednesday the U.S. should be ready to militarily intervene in Venezuela.
Top US commander warns Maduro ‘mafia’ poses threat beyond Venezuela | TheHill
The ongoing crisis in Venezuela is boiling over and aggravating security concerns throughout the Western Hemisphere, according to the top U.S. military commander for South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Exclusive: Guaido says Washington should help Venezuela keep U.S. refiner Citgo – Reuters
The United States should help Venezuela keep control over U.S. refiner Citgo by preventing its seizure by creditors seeking to collect on unpaid Venezuelan debts, opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
UAWire – Russia decided to feed Maduro’s army
After supplying the Maduro regime with military equipment and a contingent of one hundred soldiers, Russia has now begun to provide food for the Venezuelan army, which remains the only thing keeping Nicolas Maduro in power. A high-ranking source in the Russian Defense Ministry informed TASS that the Venezuelan Armed Forces would be receiving more than 16,000 field rations from Russia. On Thursday, Rosoboronexport, the Russian state defense export agency, posted information on the procurement of special rations that are to be supplied to Venezuela. The initial contract price is 14.38 million rubles (around $223,000). “The delivery will be made to the Venezuelan army,” a source noted. The requirements specification posted by Rosoboronexport on the government procurements website states that the shipment will be done as “humanitarian assistance to the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”. The field rations will be sent to a client in Puerto Cabello. Russia could soon expand its military presence in Venezuela, said Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil in April after a visit to Moscow. In addition to the contingent of 100 Russian soldiers that was deployed in Caracas at the end of March, “new missions will probably arrive,” Gil said. The Venezuelan diplomat explained that there is no specific duration to the contingent’s stay in the country. “The group of military specialists is here as part of our military and technological cooperation agreements and contracts, as already mentioned. They will be here as long as necessary,” Gil explained. The deputy minister observed that Venezuela-Russia relations are now “extremely intensive”. Over the next few months, Caracas will send its ministers of oil, defense and economy to Moscow, and will expect “high level visits” from Russia in return.
U.S. Prepares Charges, Sanctions Over Venezuela’s Food-Aid Program – WSJ
The U.S. is preparing measures ranging from criminal charges to sanctions against people involved in Venezuela’s military-run emergency food program, part of an effort to target what U.S. officials describe as a large-scale money laundering operation run by the government.
U.S. readies sanctions, charges over Venezuela food program: sources – Reuters
The United States is preparing sanctions and criminal charges against Venezuelan officials and others suspected of using a military-run food aid program to launder money for President Nicolas Maduro’s government, according to people familiar with the matter.
Venezuela’s Jorge Arreaza: ‘There is no perfect government’ | Juan Guaido | Al Jazeera
The Venezuelan foreign minister discusses the country’s ongoing crisis and threats of international intervention.
Deflated, Venezuela’s Opposition Considers Negotiating With Maduro – The New York Times
Juan Guaidó remains upbeat in public. But he acknowledged in an interview that the opposition’s capacity to operate is hurting.
Venezuela’s Maduro proposes early National Assembly vote – BBC News
Venezuela’s embattled leader proposes an early election for the opposition-controlled body.
Venezuela’s Maduro proposes early elections for opposition-run congress – Reuters
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday proposed early elections for the National Assembly, which is headed by opposition leader Juan Guaido and is the sole body recognized as democratically legitimate by most Western nations.
Venezuela: Where’s the petrol? | | Al Jazeera
Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, yet people are scrambling to fill car tanks as petrol supplies dry up.
In oil-rich Venezuela, residents deal with long gas lines as U.S. sanctions have an effect
U.S. sanctions on oil-rich Venezuela appear to be taking hold, resulting in mile-long lines for fuel in the South American nation’s second-largest city, Maracaibo.
Venezuelan soldiers oversee fuel rationing in some towns amid shortages – Reuters
Soldiers oversaw rationing of gasoline at service stations in several parts of Venezuela on Sunday as worsening fuel shortages forced angry drivers to wait for hours to fill their tanks, prompting protests in some areas.
Venezuela’s Maduro says Norway talks seek ‘peaceful agenda’ | News | Al Jazeera
Representatives of each side arrive in Norway, signalling a fresh approach to ending months of tension.
Mediation in Norway aims to resolve Venezuela crisis
Diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving Venezuela’s crisis accelerated on Thursday as the government and opposition sent envoys to talks in Norway.
Why Venezuela’s Government and Opposition Are Finally Starting Talks | Time
Officials said May 16 that members of Nicolás Maduro’s regime and Juan Guaidó’s opposition had flown to Norway for exploratory talks.
Venezuela’s Maduro says Norway talks sought ‘peaceful agenda’ with opposition – Reuters
Talks in Norway this week with representatives of Venezuela’s government and the opposition sought to “build a peaceful agenda” for the crisis-stricken South American country, President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday.
Venezuela’s socialist collapse is worse economic failure than Soviet Union, Zimbabwe, experts say | Fox News
Venezuela’s socialist regime failure is the single largest economic collapse outside war in over four decades, beating the fall of the Soviet Union or Zimbabwe’s collapse under Robert Mugabe, economists say.
Venezuela Sells $570 Million From Gold Reserve Despite Sanctions – Bloomberg
Venezuela sold about $570 million in gold from central bank reserves over the past two weeks, skirting U.S. Treasury sanctions designed to freeze assets of the Nicolas Maduro’s administration, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Spanish Oil Giant Winds Down Operations in Venezuela   
US sanctions force drastic reduction in investment in troubled country
The Morning After Maduro in Venezuela
One day Venezuelans will wake up to the news that the Maduro regime has ended. Though it is impossible to know when that day might be (political markets

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

 


 

Secret tracking device found in Navy email to Navy Times amid leak investigation raises legal, ethical questions
It appears that the Navy sought to secretly extract data from the Navy Times computer network.
Senate bill would woo high-tech ninjas to military
The co-founders of the Senate’s artificial intelligence caucus introduced the bipartisan Armed Forces Digital Advantage Act as a way to establish a career track for computer scientists in the military.
Hackers for hire get government stamp of approval
A company that has held vulnerability disclosure efforts and bug bounties for the Defense Department is one step closer to going wide.
Marines want their phones and tablets to handle classified data
The Marine Common Handheld program will provide secure mobile computing at the tactical edge.

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

Heather Wilson’s Air Force legacy: Fierce advocate for the service and shrewd political operator
During an exit interview with Defense News, the Air Force secretary reflects on her tenure, while emphasizing she’s still not quite done.
‘You have the watch’: Air Force salutes departing Secretary Wilson
Wilson is resigning as the service’s secretary to become the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Her last day will be May 31.
Former Aerospace CEO Tapped as Next Air Force Secretary – Defense One
Barbara Barrett, a businesswoman, pilot, former diplomat, and almost-astronaut, has been nominated to be the next U.S. Air Force secretary. The White House on Monday announced that President Trump had tapped Barrett, who in 2017 stepped down as chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, the nation’s only federally funded research and development center dedicated to space. Barrett was FAA deputy administrator in the late 1980s, a senior advisor to the United Nations General Assembly in 2006, and U.S. ambassador to Finland from 2008 to 2009. A lawyer, she was founding chairman of Valley Bank of Arizona, interim president of Thunderbird School of Global Management, and CEO of the American Management Association. She is currently a member of the board of RAND Corporation. Her husband, Craig Barrett, was chairman and CEO of Intel. In 2009, Barrett trained in Russia to be a backup astronaut aboard a Soyuz rocket for a space tourism flight to the International Space Station. In 2010, she told the Ravalli Republic that the Russian company behind the flight contacted her about being a backup for another astronaut. “Through an unexpected series of circumstances, the Russians had somebody drop out and they offered the spot to me,” she told the publication. “I told them I didn’t have the money, but that I would help out if they needed it. Quite unexpectedly, they came back and said they needed somebody right now.” A civilian pilot, she landed an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet on the USS Nimitz when she was serving as a civilian advisor to the defense secretary and chairman of the joint chiefs. If confirmed, Barrett would replace Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who is resigning at the end of May to become the president of the University of Texas at El Paso. Barrett would also be the third consecutive woman to serve as Air Force secretary following Wilson and Deborah Lee James. Air Force Undersecretary Matt Donovan, a retired Air Force colonel and F-15 Eagle pilot, is slated to serve as acting secretary until Barrett is confirmed.
House panel wants to boost spending on ISR
A House subcommittee’s draft for fiscal 2020 defense spending bill includes $500 million for an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance fund.
House appropriators to Pentagon: Figure out an alternative to Space Force
House appropriators would deny the Pentagon the funding it wants to stand up a Space Force headquarters.
House Panel Rejects Space Force – Defense One
The Pentagon’s arguments are unconvincing, a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee says.
Space Force Clears Senate Committee After House Attempt to Stall – Defense One
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s legislation “greatly increases the odds that we end up with some sort of a Space Force,” one expert says.
House Appropriators Take Aim at Some of the Pentagon’s Most Ambitious Tech Ideas – Defense One
The new Congress is cold on many of the Pentagon’s most elaborate projects and plans.
House appropriators target Trump’s nukes, INF treaty busting weapons
Two House subcommittees have taken knives to Trump’s nuclear plans.
House appropriators lack faith in JEDI plan, choke funds
The House Appropriations defense committee plans to hit pause on JEDI funding.
Future force in crisis? How Marine shortages threaten the Corps’ high-tech war plans
The Corps’ plans in a high-tech war could be derailed by critical manpower shortages.
In the Pacific, US Army Must Be a Running Back Who Blocks – Defense One
Joint success in the world’s largest theater requires the service to accept supporting roles, an Army War College study finds.
Poll: Americans Want To Stay In Nuclear Arms Control Agreements – Defense One
But there are lots of devils in the polling details.
Here’s a Shocker of an Idea: Let’s Get Rid of the U.S. Air Force | The National Interest
One of our most celebrated writers makes the case. 
US veterans are disgusted that Trump may pardon Edward Gallagher — Quartz
“This is a serial draft evader who wants to play general.”


US Charges WikiLeaks Founder With Violating Espionage Act
An 18-count superseding indictment accuses Julian Assange of taking part in ‘one of the largest compromises of classified information’ in U.S. history
Julian Assange Indicted Under Espionage Act, Raising First Amendment Issues – The New York Times
The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces 17 new counts in a superseding indictment over his role in publishing classified documents in 2010.


Former Top White House Lawyer Skips Congressional Hearing on Russia Probe
The former top lawyer for the White House has refused to appear before a congressional panel investigating President Donald Trump, deepening the legal standoff between Democratic lawmakers and the …
Trump Orders U.S. Intelligence Agencies To Cooperate With Probe Into 2016 Campaign ‘Surveillance’
The order was the latest move in an ongoing effort by the White House to undermine the conclusions of Mueller’s investigation.
Trump gives AG Barr authority to declassify documents related to 2016 campaign surveillance | Fox News
President Trump on Thursday night issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.
Alan Dershowitz: Congress is not above the law when it comes to impeachment – Don’t weaponize the Constitution | Fox News
The Framers of the Constitution did not want a weak president subject to the political control of Congress.
Dagen McDowell: Obama-era FBI, DOJ officials ‘worried’ what Barr’s review into Russia probe could find | Fox News
Are Obama-era intelligence officials worried about what Attorney General William Barr’s investigation Ito the origins of the Russia probe will find? Fox Business’ Dagen McDowell says they are and that is why Democrats are trying to discredit Barr.
Can Congress Use Fines to Pry Loose the Full Trump-Russia Report? – Defense One
The legal framework governing situations such as this is seldom used and little known.
Bank staff highlighted ‘suspicious activity’ in Trump-, Kushner-controlled accounts: report | TheHill
Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering personnel reportedly recommended turning over information about transactions by entities owned by President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to a government watchdog in 2016 and 2017, but the bank’s execut
Rex Tillerson called Capitol Hill switchboard saying he’d be ‘happy to talk’ to committee
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was eager to meet with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to a new report.
US Sanctions Chechen Group, Russians for Alleged Rights Abuses
Sanctions against the Terek Special Rapid Response Team in the Chechen Republic and the five individuals were announced on the US Treasury website
Social Media Monitoring How the Department of Homeland Security Uses Digital Data in the Name of National Security – To Inform is to Influence
Introduction The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rapidly expanding its collection of social media information and using it to evaluate the security risks posed by foreign and American travelers. This year marks a major expansion. The visa applications vetted by DHS will include social media handles that the State Department is set to collect…