Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (88)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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  1. Russia is showing signs of destabilisation as the Krymnash fervour dissipates, massive anti-Russian protests in Georgia, Kazakhstan also not happy;

  2. Mayhem in Syria continues, as Russian led effort against Idlib continues; updates on Israel, Iraq, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia;
  3. Xi travels to the DPRK, Russia meddles in the DPRK, more disturbing reports from China, claiming organ harvesting from prisoners, Uighur update, much on HK protests, Japan and Philippines updates;
  4. Population and Arctic updates, UK politics, Germany, France, Balkans updates, Venezuela;
  5. IW mainly influence topics;
  6. US DoD reports dominated by departure of Shanahan;


Russia / Russophone Reports



Window on Eurasia — New Series: Siberians Look to Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine as Alternatives to Russian State Development, Pozdnyakov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, June 17 – Andrey Pozdnyakov, a marketing specialist in Novosibirsk, says that Siberian regionalists are looking to and being inspired by the historical development of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine as alternatives to the centralized and authoritarian patterns of the development of the Russian state. On the one hand, he says, in the course of discussion with publicist Dmitry Khodyavcheno and Tayga research company head Aleksandr Bayanov, Siberians in various places have been affected by the powerful regional korenizatsiya [“rooting’] that has occurred throughout Russia as people have travelled less to Moscow and more to their neighbors. And on the other, a broader Siberian identity has emerged because of an increasing recognition that despite differences among its residents, they are united by “anti-Moscow attitudes” and see themselves as following in the tradition of Novgorod the Great and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (; excerpted in There is no question that a Siberian identity exists, Pozdnyakov says, citing the fundamental work of Novosibirsk scholars Alla Anisimova and Olga Yechevskaya ( But it is still very unequally developed, he acknowledges. “Tomsk residents identify as Tomsk residents; Irkutsk residents identify as Irkutsk residents; but Novosibirsk residents identify as Siberians,” because it is a younger city and one whose residents travel more in the region than they do to Moscow. There has been a broader Siberian identity elsewhere but it has intensified in the last decade or so. The reason is simple: “anti-Moscow attitudes” reflecting the center’s taking so much more away from the region than it gives and ruling with an increasingly iron hand rather than democratically. Pozdnyakov has attracted attention for lectures he has been giving in Novosibirsk about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the study of that alternative to Muscovite state traditions which has led him to learn Belarusian and see it as an alternative, along with Ukraine. All three nations, he stresses, have helped form Siberia because so many from them were exiled there. What he and other Siberian regionalists are seeking to do is to recover that side of the history of Russia that was democratic and European and thus opposed to Muscovite authoritarianism and centralization. Such values unite not only Siberians but all those who have lived under Moscow’s control.
Trump Again Says He Will Meet Putin At G20 Summit In Japan
U.S. President Donald Trump has again said he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at next week’s Group of 20 summit in Japan.
UAWire – Kremlin: Putin and Trump may meet before G20 Summit
In an interview with a program &quot;Moscow. Kremlin. Putin&quot; on Russia 1 TV channel the Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said …
U.S.: Russia Still Not Doing Enough To Combat Human Trafficking
The United States has again placed Russia among a list of countries, including South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, that it says are doing little to stop human trafficking within their…
Ford Plant Closures In Russia Mean Mass Layoffs, Protests Over Pay
Ford’s joint venture in Russia, Ford Sollers, is closing three of its four factories in the country in response to a weakened local economy. As thousands of workers face unemployment, a few are protesting against what they say is an unfair severance package.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Solovey’s Resignation from MGIMO Highlights Kremlin Moves to Impose Ideological Control on Higher Education
Paul Goble Staunton, June 20 – Valery Solovey’s dramatic announcement that he was resigning from MGIMO before he might be fired is not an isolated case but rather part of a new Kremlin drive to impose tighter controls over the expert community, many of whose members work for higher educational institutions full or part time. Because of his prominence as a commentator, Solovey’s declaration yesterday has attracted enormous attention. “Today,” he wrote on his blog, “I have submitted a declaration about withdrawing on my own initiative from MGIMO where I had been working for 11 years” ( “For political reasons,” he continued, “the institute no longer wants to have a relationship with me. I understand this attitude. And I will be grateful,” the scholar-commentator said, “if in the future no one will associate me with MGIMO.” Solovey indicated that he plans to write a book and will not be returning to teaching. “Russia is entering a period of major changes, and I intend to take a most active part in them. Stay tuned,” he concluded. Solovey is only the most prominent of political analysts to lose a position because of his views. Earlier this month, several political scientists at the Higher School of Economics lost their employment when their positions were made redundant by the folding in of that department into a larger section of the university. Many people have been angered by this extension of ideological control, another way the powers that be have of imposing their views besides control of access to the media and censorship of electronic and print media ( But as Aleksey Chesnakov, director of the Center for Political Conjunction, notes, fundamental weaknesses in the organization of the social sciences in general and political science in particular make it easy for the powers that be to take these steps, often in ways that do not attract attention and resistance (
It’s not over We answer the most important questions that remain after the case against Ivan Golunov — Meduza
Ivan Golunov is a journalist working in Meduza’s investigations department. He previously worked for Afisha, (now, Forbes, and RBC. Golunov was also a special correspondent in the Siberia Bureau of Vedomosti and an editor for two prominent talk shows, Parfenov and Sobchak, on the television channel Dozhd.
Russian investigative journalists uncover mansions owned by top Moscow FSB officials — Meduza
Moscow Federal Security Service Directorate head Alexey Dorofeev and the family of his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Marat Medoev, own adjacent mansions in the “Lesnaya Bukhta” (Forrest Cove) villa community, according to a joint investigative report by Novaya Gazeta, Baza, and Transparency International Russia. Journalists say each piece of real estate is worth upwards of 70 million rubles ($1.1 million).
‘So what’d you write?’ Ivan Golunov tells ‘Meduza’ about life as an investigative journalist in Russia today and being framed for drug dealing — Meduza
On June 11, Russia’s Interior Ministry closed the criminal case against investigative journalist and Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov, after police officers charged him with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Golunov’s arrest triggered an unprecedented outpouring of public and professional solidarity, as well as a sustained protest outside Moscow’s police headquarters. After four days of support and demonstrations, the charges were dropped, and Ivan went free. Golunov spent the next few days with family and friends, and now he’s spoken to Meduza colleague Ilya Zhegulev about his remarkable experiences over the past week.
‘I got used to the thought that I was going to prison’ How a Kaliningrad journalist was charged with extorting a top prosecutor and then suddenly let go — Meduza
On June 17, the Moscow District Court in St. Petersburg set Igor Rudnikov free. Rudnikov, the editor-in-chief of the Kaliningrad-based newspaper Novye Kolesa, had spent more than a year and a half in a pretrial detention center on accusations of extorting a $50,000 bribe from Investigative Committee General Viktor Ledenev. Rudnikov argues that the case against him was fabricated, but the court didn’t go so far as to recognize that claim. Instead, it reclassified the charges against Rudnikov from extortion to vigilantism and counted the time he had already spent in jail toward the fulfillment of his shortened sentence. We asked Novy Kaliningrad journalist Oleg Zurman to tell the story of the most widely discussed case in Kaliningrad today and explain why the court system ultimately let Igor Rudnikov go.
Helping Russia’s helpers How to support the news outlets and human rights projects that support Russians when they need it most — Meduza
The drug case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was shut down after an unprecedented solidarity campaign led by other journalists, and attorneys from nonprofit human rights projects have been a fixture of Golunov’s legal defense. In the week after Golunov was arrested, about 150 people signed up for regular donations to Mediazona, a news outlet that specializes in reporting on Russian law enforcement agencies and court cases. Meanwhile, OVD-Info, a project that sheds light on arrest proceedings and offers resources to arrestees, received more donations than it usually does on average in an entire month. Nonetheless, more regular donations are necessary for these organizations to continue providing objective coverage of the Russian legal world and effective aid for those who find themselves facing the system alone. Meduza explains how you can (and should!) support those who supported Ivan Golunov and would support you as well if the Russian government began prosecuting you illegally.
German Student Expelled and Told to Leave Russia After Writing Article About Protests – The Moscow Times
Police said that student had violated the terms of his visa by writing the article.
Russians keep heat on police after reporter’s case closed | Fox News
About 1,500 people in Moscow have demonstrated against police abuse of power in the wake of a prominent Russian journalist’s arrest on drug-dealing charges that the government admitted days later had no basis.
Navalny Activist Says She Was Pressured To Inform For FSB
An activist working for opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in the mid-Volga region city of Saratov has said people claiming to be agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) threatened her if s…
Navalny Aide Volkov Released Early From Jail After Sentence Cut
A close aide of Russian opposition figure Aleksei Navalny was released from a Moscow jail on June 18, a day after a Moscow court cut by half the 15-day jail term handed down against him.
Accused: the Russians facing ‘politically motivated’ charges | World news | The Guardian
Journalist Ivan Golunov was freed after an outcry. Others have not been so fortunate
Russia drops extortion charges against journalist after outcry | News | Al Jazeera
Igor Rudnikov’s supporters strongly contested the extortion charges, saying they were punishment for his journalism.
How a Russian Reporter Beat the Kremlin – POLITICO Magazine
The arrest of Ivan Golunov on bogus drug charges sparked intense protests against the menace of the corrupt security state.
Russian Court Adjourns Gulag Historian Dmitriyev’s Trial Until July 23
The trial of Yury Dmitriyev, a Russian historian and renowned gulag researcher charged with sexually assaulting his adopted daughter, has been adjourned until July 23.
Russian Editor Avoids Extortion Conviction After Court Downgrades Charge
A court in St. Petersburg has downgraded extortion charges against the editor of a newspaper in Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and instead convicted him of a lesser charge of “arbitrari…
Russian Court Delays Serebrennikov Trial Again To Allow Completion Of Study
The trial of Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov and his co-defendants on charges of embezzlement has been postponed again after a judge granted more time for the completion of a new stud…
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Free Russia Forum Delegates Comment on Appeal by Tatar Government in Exile
Paul Goble Staunton, June 15 – Even though the Free Russia Forum in Lithuania passed over in silence an appeal from the Tatarstan government in exile for recognition or their republic’s independence (, many participants had more positive reactions. Ramazan Alpaut of the IdelReal portal which tracks developments in the Middle Volga, took part in the meeting and met with a number of the Forum participants. He has now provided a summary of their comments which helps to put the meeting’s inaction in context and to suggest future strategies ( Daniil Konstantinov, a leader of the Russian European Movement and member of the Forum’s permanent committee, said that the Forum did not have the authority to recognize or not recognize the independence of a region or republic. It did, however, put the appeal on its website for comment. Some supported it, others opposed it, but the delegates clearly felt, he continued, that they did not have sufficient information or authority to make a decision, Konstantinov said. We simply don’t know what the people of Tatarstan think, he continued. As for himself, he said he favors the preservation and development of federalism in Russia. Igor Yakovenko, the former secretary of the Union of Russian Journalists and a commentator who has taken part in Forum meetings since the beginning, said that the people of various republics and regions must make the decision about whether to be independent or remain part of Russia. “I think,” he said, “that after the Putin empire will be destroyed, all its component parts must take a decision whether to continue to live in this single state or try to establish their own statehood.” Each of those decisions must be taken independently. Calling for this or that independent state from the outside would be “quite strange,” Yakovenko said. In addition, Yakovenko said, there is the question of “independence from whom?” The peoples of the country need independence “above all from their own authorities” who are every bit as much “colonizers” as Moscow is. He added that he favors “the transformation of the Russian empire into a large number of independent states.” The reason for that, he continued, is simple. “The preservation of the Russian state in its current borders will inevitably lead to the restoration of the imperial syndrome, even if in place of the Russian empire there arises let us say, ‘the beautiful Russia of the future’ which Aleksey Navalny has outlined.” The imperial temptation will remain “enormous.” And Aleksandr Morozov, a political scientist who also took part in the Forum, said that the appeal by the Tatarstan government in exile was “completely justified.” But while such groups, just like the Crimean Tatars, are correct in making such appeals, the Forum is equally justified in not coming out in support of them. That isn’t its proper role. To do so would be to exceed the Forum’s authority, but at the same time, he continued, the Forum needs to invite more representatives of the regions and republics to its future meetings. At the first meetings of the Forum, regional and national questions were discussed actively. That approach needs to be restored.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin’s Reaction to Protests Depends on How Well Informed Putin is – and That Varies Widely, Aides Say
Paul Goble Staunton, June 19 – Changes in the relationship between the Putin regime and the Russian population is leading some to suggest that the Kremlin leader will be increasingly willing to make concessions to protesters in order to maintain himself, however risky such an approach may be ( Others argue that protesters should negotiate with the regime now because they have a good chance to extract concessions ( while it has led others to say that is a waste of time (, with some insisting that the rise in popular protest points toward the end of the regime ( But a more interesting perspective is offered by Andrey Pertsev, a special correspondent for the Medusa news agency, who explores why at the present time, Putin sometimes makes concessions to protesters but at others uses force against them ( The Meduza journalist draws his conclusions on the basis of interviews with present and former members of the Presidential Administration and also on others who work regularly with that powerful body. He suggests that there are five factors which determine how the Kremlin is likely to respond to any particular protest: · How well informed Putin is personally. Sometimes as in the case of Yekaterinburg and its church, he is well-informed, in that case thanks to the Russian Orthodox; but in others as with the anti-trash protests in the Russian North, he knows less; and as a result, the protest is viewed as less significant and the Kremlin is less likely to overrule local officials and impose an outcome. · How large the protest is, not in absolute numbers but in relative to population. A protest in Moscow has to be vastly larger than one in a smaller city for the Kremlin to get involved and be concerned. · Whether the demonstration is sanctioned or unsanctioned. If it is sanctioned, the regime can work with organizers to ensure that it won’t be anti-Putin or anti-regime; if it isn’t, the dangers of that increase many times over. · How political the protest is, that is, how much it raises questions of power. The more a meeting does that, the more concerned the Kremlin is and the more likely it is to use repression; the less it does, the less it is likely to act in that way. · Local conditions: In Moscow there are no systemic parties and no problems with organizing meetings; in the smaller cities, the situation is different and thus of greater concern to many in the Kremlin. The reaction of the Kremlin, its decision to make concessions or apply repression also depends on the participants of the meetings at which such decisions are taken. In some cases, those at the table want to see repression and in others they prefer concessions depending not so much on the state’s needs but their personal ones. According to Pertsev, “a decision to oppose unsanctioned protests if it involves not political but civic issues is not easy for the Kremlin to take.” Often the siloviki do not want to get involved lest they get blamed for the outcome and frequently argue that the politicians should make the decisions about what to do with the demonstrators first. Consequently, the Meduza analyst says, the decision-making process in the Kremlin about using force or not using force against protesters is far more complicated and far less consistent than many might expect. Sometimes Moscow uses force when it might not have to, and other times it may make concessions that it could avoid making. And that pattern itself, Pertsev suggests, means that those who try to calculate how they can negotiate from the streets with the powers that be may often obtain results very different from those they have good reason from their point of view to expect.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Severodvinsk Defense Workers Join Protest Against Dumping Moscow Trash in Russian North
Paul Goble Staunton, June 19 – Several hundred workers from two Russian naval shipyards in Severodvinsk have added their voices to the protests sweeping the Russian north against Moscow’s plans to dispose of its trash in the region, shouting “Hands of Shiyes,” the site of the largest such dump now planned, and demanding the ouster of the regional governor. That demand, Atle Staalesen of The Barents Observer says, attracted particular attention because it was broadcast in a ceremony Vladimir Putin reportedly viewed and was posted on several web portals where it has gone viral ( and It remains unclear whether Putin saw the banner calling on him to fire the governor and organize a referendum on Moscow’s garbage plans. That was quickly taken down by security officers of the firms involved, and the man who put it up was subject to a heavy fine ( On the one hand, it is no surprise that the workers made such demands. Polls show that residents of the Russian North are almost unanimous in opposing the opening of dumps for Moscow trash there, an attitude that has been behind the massive protests by others in the region ( But on the other, the willingness of those who work for the defense industry and whose salaries ultimately come from the Russian state budget Moscow and its minions control underscore both how widespread and intense that anger is and the collapse of the usual restraints such state workers feel in going into the streets and making anti-regime demands. And that development, more than commentaries and the actions of those further removed from the government, sends a message which the Kremlin can ignore at its peril. One such workers cross what has been a red line for them in the past, it is likely they will take other actions and make additional demands in the future. This protest by defense industry workers is not equivalent to the police going over to the side of the demonstrators, something that is the frequent harbinger of revolution; but it is a step in that direction and bears close watching as many in the Russian Federation now appear to be doing.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Dauria Gothic’ – Why Russians Today are Talking Ever More about Baron Ungern
Paul Goble Staunton, June 17 – When any society looks back on events of a century, it often fastens not on what have long been assumed to be the most important individuals but rather on marginal figures whose actions and personalities compel attention not only by their out of the ordinary characteristics but also their resonance real or imputed with current events. Perhaps the most notable such figure as Russians look back to the Civil War period was Baron Max Roman Fyodorovich von Ungern-Sternberg, the Baltic German baron who was distinguished by cruelty seldom matched in human history, seized Mongolia from the Chinese with only a thousand men, and has passed into legend after being executed by the Bolsheviks. Unlike other such figures at the margins of the great struggle between the Reds and the Whites, Ungern has always attracted the interest of both Russians and non-Russians, but that interest appears now to be peaking in Russia – and Aleksey Mikhalyev, a political scientist at Buryat State University has investigated why this is so and what it may mean. In “The God of War or Memory about the Black Baron in Present-Day Russia” (in Russian; Politicheskaya nauka 3 (2018): 129-146 (; summarized by Olga Sobolevskaya at, he presents his conclusions. “Dauria gothic is a neo-romantic trend in art characterized by a dark atmosphere and mythologized subjects about wars and conflicts in the Trans-Baikal,” Mikhalyev says. (Dauria on the border between Russia and China was Ungern’s headquarters and torture chamber until he marched with his Asiatic Cavalry Division into Mongolia.) This isolated region has long been filled with mythologies about lamas, Buddhism, yogas, the search for the Shambala and the like, but with Ungern, who sprang from an impoverished branch of the Baltic German nobility, this traditional “Asian gothic” was combined with elements of the European, including many things resembling Dracula. “Dauria gothic,” the scholar continues, has been pushed in novels, histories, mange comics, anime and even rock music, all of which combine horror and mysticism, the living dead, ghosts, fortune tellers, shape shifters and all the other phenomena of the gothic in Western Europe. All this is presented as believable, Mikhalyev suggests, because it occurs in a far away play “beyond the limits of the everyday” and because at the center of it all is real historical figure people can focus on, Baron Ungern-Sternberg about whom people can look up in the history books. “Instead of the Holy Graal and other symbols of nobility, there are ‘the doors of the Shambala.’ And the ‘Dauria feudal’ Ungern too is a hybrid of Western and Eastern forms: a crusader knight and a Buddhist, a local ‘king’ – and ‘a white khan.’” Legends about Ungern began to be created shortly after his death, most prominently by a Polish fantast named Ferdinand Ossendowski whose book Beasts, Men and Gods was a best seller in the West. It purported to be true – Ossendowski knew Ungern in Urga – but was almost entirely made up. (That was obvious to people who really knew what happened at the time. Sven Hedin, the great Swedish explorer, wrote a pamphlet about him entitled Ossendowski and the Truth: Two Strangers. Other commentators like Dmitry Pershin with direct experience were even more brutal.). Also important at the birth of the Ungern legend was Arseny Nesmelov, a Russian émigré in Harbin who wrote “The Ballad about the Dauria Baron” in 1928, an epic poem in which all gothic elements were present and in which the baron himself was presented “almost like a horseman of the Apocalypse.” Most White Russian leaders were horrified by Ungern believing him to have brought dishonor on their cause, and the Bolsheviks of course were only too happy to present him in the darkest tones, something that unintentionally attracted attention. See the 1948 novel Dauria by Konstantin Sedykh and the 1971 Soviet film of the same title directed by Viktor Tregubovich. Ungern also attracted the attention of the Nazis who characterized him as “the ideal Aryan” and even “the first fascist.” There is even a legend that Alfred Rozenberg, the Nazi ideologue, wrote a play about Ungern that played in German theaters in the 1930s, another story that for some has done nothing to distract attention from Ungern. At the end of the Soviet period and the beginning of the Russian one, both Russian historians and Western ones sought to wade through the mythology; but Mikhalyev says that even the best of them were profoundly affected by what they sought to dispel. (SeeКузьмин_С.Л._2011._История_барона_Унгерна_опыт_реконструкции._М._КМК_). The baron’s legend has continued to grow and metasticize, with various political trends “from nationalists to monarchists” finding their own Ungerns. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, the father of the pretender to the Russian throne, even called Ungern the equal of philosophers Petr Savitsky and Lev Karsavin! Mikhalyev says that “by the level of mythologization, the personality of Ungern is comparable only with the figure of Chapayev.” “Of all the leaders of the White Movement,” Mikhalyev says, “Baron von Ungern-Sternberg became a significant figure not only in Russia and Germany of the 1930s and 1940s but also in Mongolia.” That has continued: Ungern’s visage now appears on football shirts and on fake Buddhist icons. The Buryat historian says that the main reason for this is that Ungern in his mythologized form represents “a certain ‘revolt against the contemporary world,” one in which the Middle Ages are viewed as organic and good and the modern age as artificial and defective. That is why there is so much talk about the black baron, the god of war, and so on. As Mikhalyev documents, the number of books, nominally history, openly novelistic, and even cartoons, has risen since the end of Soviet times. Each offers its reader a vision of Ungern designed to fit what that individual wants. Given how many disputes there are about the Dauria gothic world, that is easy – and very likely to continue.
Russian Deputy Warns About Mosques Replacing Churches, ‘Like in Switzerland’ – The Moscow Times
“The government will work better if church bells are ringing,” he said.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Siberian Cities Now Dying from Boredom, Verkhoturov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, June 21 – In addition to all the other factors working against their survival – the closing of major industries, the flight of young people to European Russia, and the lack of infrastructure connecting them to the broader world – there is another underlying factor at work, Dmitry Verkhoturov says. And that is simple boredom. The Siberian writer who evolved over the last two decades from an anti-Moscow regionalist to a more pro-Moscow essayist who often attacked his earlier allies argues in a new article on Irkutsk’s Babr news and analyst portal that Yeniseysk, a city of 20,000 in Krasnoyarsk Kray, typifies this situation ( Yeniseysk has a long history by Siberian standards and once was an important administrative center, but now it is dying as are many other cities in the region. The usual explanations are the lack of any serious economic role, the loss of its administrative responsibilities, and the lack of a university which could make it an intellectual center. . That last point is especially important, Verkhoturov suggests, as a comparison with Tomsk shows. That city set up a university and thus has outpaced Yeniseysk which did not, despite sharing many of the other problems that appear to point to the disappearance of its coeval city. Consequently, it is worth noting that “the life and death of cities depends not only and not so much on economic conditions” as on other factors including a dynamic intellectual life which a university can promote and local leadership committed to making changes in order to grow and prosper rather than acceptant of that fate. The mentality of a city’s population and especially of its leaders matters enormously. If that mentality is not only open to change but actively promotes it, a city can survive even if everything else is working against it. But if the mentality of residents is not, then few of the other factors will matter in the longer term. The Siberian commentator reaches that conclusion on the basis of his own recent experience. He proposed that Yeniseysk create a special niche for itself by creating a major construction center for building river boats. That would not only bring in money but it would put Yeniseysk on the mental maps of Russians far from the city’s borders. That idea was poohpoohed by residents who basically said who has ever heard of Yeniseysk or ever will. But that is how cities “die from boredom.” They come to assume that there is no reason to change and so stop making any effort to do so, even if changes would bring them prosperity and survival and a failure to change represents a death sentence.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Soviets Fought Shamanism – and Lost
Paul Goble Staunton, June 21 – Many Russian and Western scholars have studied Soviet efforts to destroy organized religion and spread atheism in the Soviet population, but far fewer have focused on the steps Soviet officials took to wipe out shamanism, the traditional faith of many peoples in Siberia and the Russian Far East. But Moscow’s efforts in that regard are instructive both to the extent that they paralleled what the communists did to more conventionally structured faiths and even more to the extent they failed because the Soviets did not understand what they were up against and could not deal with a religious practice lacking the kind of organization they could take over and subvert. On the Russkaya semerka portal, historian Kristina Rudich traces the history of Soviet efforts against shamanism. She notes that in the 1920s, the Soviets relied largely on anti-religious propaganda via print media when it came to shamanism, generally oblivious to the fact that few shamans or their followers were literate ( This literature did have an impact, however. It sent a message to local officials that Moscow wanted shamanism wiped out, and they translated these written sources into oral presentations including attacks on shamans as “oppressors,” “epileptic mystics,” “psychopaths,” and spreaders of venereal diseases. These propaganda efforts were followed by the confiscation of shamanistic dress and equipment and the punishment of shamans for specific actions such as sacrifice. Local officials frequently claimed that they had wiped out shamanism, only to show that they hadn’t by reporting subsequent to such reports that they were still fighting it. In the 1930, the Soviets shifted from propaganda to direct repression. During collectivization, shamans were suppressed and often shot as harmful elements. They were deprived of their voting rights and thus excluded from most benefits. And these repressive actions were extended to the relatives of shamans and even their followers. At that time, Rudich continues, “party officials maintained a listing of all practicing shamans” in their area, “and any increase in their number was treated as something that did not speak well for local leaders.” That of course opened the way to falsification especially because some local officials were followers of shamans themselves. Stalin’s Great Terror in 1937 made the situation of the shamans still worse. In 1937, Nivkh and Ulchi shamans were executed as “’Japanese spies,’” the historian says. All shamanistic practices were banned, all clothing and cult materials were confiscated, and while some were put in museums, most were simply destroyed. All this reduced the number of shamans – or at least the number practicing in public. In 1924, there were 71 shamans registered in Khakasia. By the 1930s, 25 of them were exiled, and three were shot for “’counter-revolutionary activity.’” When the remainder were later let out of the GULAG, they had to commit to not engaging in shamanistic activity. Some may have fallen away, but most simply went underground, although few of them passed on their knowledge and skills to their children at least in Khakasia. In the Far East, Rudich reports, “the tradition was preserved better – Nanay shamans in Khabarovsk kray as before conducted their rituals,” albeit secretly. During Khrushchev’s anti-religious campaign, shamans continued to be fined for their activities; but the fight against shamanism increasingly became a formality. The authorities in effect gave up fighting something they could not possibly take over. And the shamans were thus able to reemerge after 1991 when “all restriction on their activity were removed.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: 500 Russian Police have Been Charged Over Last Five Years for Falsifying Drug Arrests
Paul Goble Staunton, June 16 – The Golunov case has highlighted a longtime problem with the Russian and earlier the Soviet criminal justice system: the widespread planting of drugs on opponents of the regime in order to charge them with possession or distribution of illegal substances rather than their real “crime,” dissent. What makes this practice so dangerous is that in almost every case when charges are brought, the individual is convicted. Of more than 90,000 Russians charged with narcotics offenses in 2018 alone, only 27 were not found guilty, according to Aleksey Knorre of the Open Police organization ( and The activist reports that police find it easy to bring such charges, falsely or otherwise, and the authorities recognize that they have to limit this abuse lest it lead to an increase in cynicism among the Russian people about the judicial system as a whole. Consequently, the Russian equivalent of “internal affairs” does bring charges in the most outrageous cases. Knorre says that over the last five years, 500 police officers have been charged and convicted for falsifying drug cases. Not all of these are political, of course; the vast majority are likely “crimes” Russian police created to make their own arrest records look good and thus gain preferment and promotion. Now that the issue has attracted more attention, the numbers of policemen charged mayincrease in an attempt by the political authorities to look good. The regime has already sent out a circular intended to cut the number of drug cases and some are now talking about decriminalizing soft drugs (, and But even if that happens, the planting of drugs on political opponents is likely to remain in the regime’s toolbox, helped by the occasional charges of officers for doing such things in non-political cases as a way to gain credibility for its charges against those who are protesting against the regime’s actions.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Armed Clash Between Russians and Roma in Penza Oblast Leaves One Dead, Major Highway Blocked
Paul Goble Staunton, June 15 – Unconfirmed rumors that some Roma in Penza Oblast had raped a Russian woman have led to armed clashes between that community and Russians bent on vengeance. Several people have been hospitalized, and one has died. Officials and Roma leaders have failed to calm the situation, and Russians are blocking a highway to get wider attention. As in most such cases, both the origins of the conflict and its course remain in dispute; but three things are clear and significant. First, the anger of the local Russian population exceeds anything that local or regional officials were prepared for. Their appeals for calm have failed ( Second, the local Russians are convinced that only by attracting outside attention are they going to get what they assume to be justice, something that at least a few of them suggest means expelling the Roma from their community of Chemodanovka. Oblast officials have now intervened, but they appear to be having no more success than local ones in calming things. And third – and certainly most important – this effort by local people to raise the stakes in a conflict by drawing in Moscow is a prime example of an unintended consequence of the Kremlin’s much-trumpeted announcement that it will rate governors on their ability to keep the situation in their regions quiet. The Penza Russians clearly have decided that they can exploit this situation by calling Moscow’s attention to it, forcing local and regional officials to back down lest the officials get in trouble with the center or forcing Moscow to intervene on their behalf, convinced that the Kremlin will back Russians over Roma. To the extent that the Penza pogrom may be a harbinger of similar calculations elsewhere, the events in Chemodanovka aren’t simply the latest clash between Russians and Roma but an indication of the ways in which underlying ethnic tensions are interacting with state policy and making the situation in the Russian Federation more unstable.
‘They’ve disappeared into thin air’ A Russian town unleashes its rage against the Roma community, following a deadly brawl — Meduza
On June 13, there was mass violence in the town of Chemodanovka, outside Penza. Allegations that members of the local Roma community raped a woman led to a brawl between more than 150 people. One man died, and another five were hospitalized with stab wounds, leaving a victim in intensive care. The next evening, hundreds of people in town blocked the M5 Ural Highway, demanding that state officials respond to the situation. Penza Governor Ivan Belozertsev came and addressed the “people’s gathering,” as police officers detained 170 demonstrators and later arrested 15 suspects in the brawl. Meduza correspondent Ekaterina Drankina traveled to Chemodanovka to learn more about what happened.
United Russia’s strange death How Russia’s ruling political party ‘abandoned’ the Moscow City Duma elections — Meduza
Among the politicians running this September for seats in the Moscow City Duma, there’s not a single candidate from the country’s ruling political party, United Russia, even though it held primaries in May to determine its favorites from among its members and supporters. Belonging to United Russia has become a liability for politicians in the capital, though the party’s leadership says candidates are merely trying to avoid “taking the easy road” in this fall’s elections (candidates from political parties with parliamentary representation don’t have to collect signatures to get on the ballot).
Coffins, graveyards, and billions of dollars How gangsters and officials in the police, military, and state carve up Russia’s funeral business — Meduza
About two million people die in Russia, every year. In that time, the country’s funeral industry officially does about 60 billion rubles ($924.6 million) in business. According to estimates by the authorities, however, the black market for these services could be worth as much as 250 billion rubles ($3.8 billion). Over the past 30 years, the mortuary business has been divided up several times, and a medley of organized criminals, siloviki (members of the police and national security establishment), and the state have competed for a share of the pie. As a result, finding eternal peace in Russia is often tumultuous, whether it’s gunfire at the Khovanskoye Cemetery in Moscow, throwing bodies over a fence in Yekaterinburg, unauthorized mass graves in Tolyatti, or a cemetery owner’s suicide in Omsk. Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov learned how control over Russia’s funeral industry has passed gradually from figures in the criminal world to people connected to the state.
The evictors For the past five years, loan sharks have forced more than 500 Muscovites from their homes. Here’s how the industry works. — Meduza
In Moscow and the surrounding region, there’s a whole industry of what are known as “black creditors” — microfinance institutions (MFOs) that deceive and seize debtors’ homes. Meduza managed to find almost 500 apartments lost by their owners over the past five years without so much as a court order. In fact, this scheme involves more than simply “squeezing” people from their homes, and it is possibly part of a wider, international money-laundering system. Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov explains the ins and outs of this industry.
The agony and the ecstasy of Russian culture – Nonfiction writing
An evening at the Pushkin House book prize illustrates why the Russian world remains so fascinating and essential a subject
Head Of Russia’s Volatile Daghestan Hospitalized In Moscow
The head of Russia’s North Caucasus region of Daghestan, Vladimir Vasilyev, has been hospitalized in Moscow with pneumonia.
Journalist In Russia’s Daghestan Sent To Pretrial Detention On ‘Financing Terrorism’ Charge
A court in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Daghestan has sent a reporter working for an independent newspaper to pretrial detention on allegations of financing terrorism, a charge his editors cal…
Leading Newspapers In Daghestan Protest Jailing Of Reporter
Three leading newspapers in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Daghestan say they will show their support for journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, who was arrested on what they called “trumped up” charg…
‘His Name Was Andrei’
A missing Russian man may have been swept up in Chechnya’s “gay purge.”
U.S. Deports Russian Convicted Of Smuggling F-16 Manuals
A Russian citizen will be immediately deported from the United States after pleading guilty to smuggling F-16 technical manuals to Moscow.
A Russian Bentley Gets A Tank Makeover
A Russian car enthusiast has stripped the wheels off a Bentley and added tank-like treads. YouTube star Konstantin Zarutsky is seeking permission to drive it on the streets of his hometown of St. Petersburg. He claims it’s so easy to drive, anyone could take the wheel.
Terrifying ‘Fly-Pocalypse’ Descends Upon Russian Village
A farmer in a Russian village who fertilized his field with chicken poo may have unwittingly unleashed a fly-pocalypse, according to local news reports.
Hungry and exhausted polar bear wanders into Russian city – BBC News
The female bear is spotted in the city of Norilsk – hundreds of kilometres from its natural habitat.
Stricken polar bear turns up in Siberian city, hundreds of miles from home | World news | The Guardian
Visibly weak female bear, with watery eyes and muddy feet, spotted in Norilsk in northern Siberia

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports



Furious Anti-Russia Protesters In Tbilisi Demand Speaker’s Resignation, Clash With Police
Thousands of furious protesters have gathered outside the parliament building in Tbilisi after a Russian lawmaker occupied the speaker’s seat inside the legislature during a meeting of European p…
Hundreds Injured In Georgia Clashes
Hundreds were injured as Georgian police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters trying to storm the parliament building in Tbilisi. The incident was sparked by a Russian parliamentarian speaking in Russian from the speaker’s chair during an assembly of legislators from Orthodox Christian countries.
Georgian Parliamentary Speaker Resigns After Overnight Clashes
Georgian parliamentary speaker Irakli Kobakhidze resigned from his post on June 21 following overnight clashes between police and demonstrators outside of the parliament in Tbilisi.
‘We don’t shoot at our own people’ On the ground during violent clashes with police at Tbilisi’s anti-Russian protest — Meduza
On the evening of June 20, on Shota Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi, just outside the Georgian Parliament building, at least 10,000 people gathered for a protest. They didn’t leave until after midnight. The cause of the unrest was a speech in Parliament by Russian State Duma deputy Sergey Gavrilov, who sat in the speaker’s chair and spoke Russian, before he was interrupted by Georgia’s opposition. Demonstrators later burned Russian flags and called Russia an occupier. When activists tried to seize the Parliament, police responded harshly, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Hundreds of people, including dozens of police officers, were injured. On special assignment for Meduza, journalist Maria Latsinskaya explains what happened that night in Tbilisi, and how there’s now talk of another revolution on the horizon.
Photos from the June 20 protest outside Georgia’s Parliament in Tbilisi — Meduza
Late on June 20 in the center of Tbilisi, an unannounced protest broke out at the steps of Georgia’s Parliament building. Thousands of people took to the streets, following a speech by Russian State Duma deputy Sergey Gavrilov, who enraged the country’s opposition parties by sitting in the parliamentary speaker’s chair and speaking in Russian during a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy. After activists demands for the resignations of several top state officials went ignored, protesters tried to storm the Parliament building, prompting the police to resort to tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Roughly 70 people were reported injured.
Protests in Tbilisi How a Russian lawmaker’s perceived arrogance provoked violent clashes outside Georgia’s Parliament building — Meduza
In Tbilisi late on June 20, several thousand people joined a protest at Georgia’s Parliament building. As many as 10,000 people filled the square outside the legislature. Activists protested against the “Russian occupation” of Georgia, demanding the resignation of Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, as well as the heads of Georgia’s Interior Ministry and State Security Service. After an hour, when their demands were not met, demonstrators started storming the Parliament building.
Riding Into Trouble In Kazakhstan
A Kazakh bicyclist innocently pedals his way into an election protest, and then detention.
Chechen Human Rights Activist Titiyev Released From Penal Colony
Authorities in Russia’s Chechnya region have released human rights activist Oyub Titiyev from a penal colony in Chechnya, 11 days after a court approved his early release on parole.
Leading Newspapers In Daghestan Demand Journalist’s Release
Three leading newspapers in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Daghestan have published a joint editorial on their front pages to demand the immediate release of journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, who…
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Iran Expanding Economic and Cultural Ties with Republics of the North Caucasus
Paul Goble Staunton, June 21 – Tehran is now working to expand its ties with the republics of Russia’s North Caucasus, not only in the economic realm including the development of new transportation and production infrastructure but also in the cultural one with cooperation agreements between Iranian educational institutions and North Caucasus counterparts. Both of these moves will allow the Iranians to increase their influence beyond the border region – Iran has long been active in Azerbaijan, for example, given that like the Iranians, Azerbaijanis are two-thirds Shiia in religion – and may become the cover as it were for Iranian cultural and religious penetration of an area in which they have not been that active in the past. This trend was highlighted this week by a meeting in Tehran of senior Iranian and Russian officials entitled “Iran and the North-Caucasus Federal District of the Russian Federation: Prospects for Trade and Cultural Cooperation,” a follow-on to a similar meeting in North Ossetia in 2017 ( and Sergey Chebotaryov, the Russian minister for North Caucasus affairs, said that trade was growing but that there was more room for its expansion. He laid particular stress on the building of transportation infrastructure in order to counter east-west projects backed by the Europeans and the Americans. The senior Iranian official present, energy minister Reza Ardakanian, agreed that such routes were especially important and pledged that Tehran would do what it could to see that they were built and used. Other speakers, however, put more stress on cultural and educational cooperation than on economics. They pointed to the establishment in the universities of the North Caucasus of programs to train people on Iranian affairs drawing on Iranian experts and on cooperation with partner schools in Iran. Two such programs in North Ossetia were described in detail. Such arrangements will open the way for more Iranians to travel to the North Caucasus and more North Caucasians to visit Iran, an exchange that will allow Tehran to expand its influence in the southern part of the Russian Federation, quite possibly in ways that Moscow will find anything but welcome.

Belarus Reports



PACE ‘Strongly Condemns’ Secret Execution In Belarus
The Parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has “strongly condemned” the reported secret execution of a Belarusian while his case was still under consideration by the United Nations …
Belarus Allows Iranian Christian Convert To Remain In Country
Belarusian authorities have allowed an Iranian man who converted to Orthodox Christianity and is wanted by Tehran on murder charges, to remain in the country.


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


White House Adviser Bolton To Travel To Israel For Talks with Russian, Israeli Officials
U.S. President Donald Trump’s national-security adviser, John Bolton, will travel to Israel during the upcoming weekend for “regional security talks” with Russian and Israeli officials, the White H…
UN Chief Calls On Russia, Turkey To Stabilize Syria’s Idlib Province
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called on Russia and Turkey to stabilize Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Province, which he says is suffering “a humanitarian disaster.”
Syria says it doesn’t want to fight with Turkey | Syria News | Al Jazeera
Damascus says military action in response to rebel violations, including presence of fighters in a demilitarised zone.
Syria Thanks Russia, Iran and China for Support in War, But Wants Turkey and U.S. to Leave
Syria’s top diplomat said “we hope that our military and the Turkish military do not fight” as violence escalates in jihadi-dominated Idlib province.
Russia Gets Two More Allies In Its Plan for Syria as U.S. Strategy Increasingly Questioned
Moscow’s special Syria envoy said Lebanon and Iraq “commend the efforts made by Russia in recent years to maintain the unity of Syria, their neighbor country” and would join in on a key meeting next
UAWire – Russian media: Israel jamming Syrian aerial defense systems due to poor missile success rates
The Russian site claims to have learned that the actual success rate of Israeli attacks on targets in Syria is only 30-40%. “In light of this, Israel has begun to jam the Syrian aerial defense systems, in order to somehow improve the effectiveness of the attacks,” the authors write, without specifying their sources. Israel has not actually commented on its use of electronic warfare systems in an attack on Syria’s Al-Harra province. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to Israel’s involvement in the attack when he said that “we will not allow the enemy to entrench itself in Syria”, but no technical details have been provided by the Israelis. The imaginations of Russian military columnists have been running wild recently. The same reported previously that the Israeli military had been launching “aerostat decoys” from the Golan Heights in an attempt to identify the location of Syria’s S-300 anti-air systems. Citing an anonymous expert, the authors claimed that while the IDF’s aerostats were in range of the Israeli missile defense systems, Syria’s radio intelligence division was able to intercept their data transmissions and calculate the friend-or-foe codes. This story was republished and embellished by other Russian news outlets, which claimed that Israel had nearly lost its Iron Dome system. This is all far from the truth. The Israeli specialists, unlike anonymous Russian experts, are not stupid enough to let the enemy work out its codes, especially given the crampedness of the region and its accessibility to detectors. In the unlikely scenario of such a compromise, the codes would simply be changed. Such reports in the pro-Kremlin media demonstrate that Israel’s military successes and the impotence of the Russian aerial defense systems used by Syria are galling to the “patriotic” community in Russia. In keeping with the psychological theory of the “collective unconscious”, the frustration of the Russian military is replaced by fantasies and dreams of Israel failing. These fantasies replace reality in the Russian public consciousness, indicating the onset of a collective delusion.
Russia vs. Israel: The War That Could Become a Nuclear Disaster | The National Interest
It would be epic. 
Syrian government attacks Turkish post in Idlib | News | Al Jazeera
Turkey says its forces were attacked for the second time in three days on Sunday, and it has responded with heavy weapons.
Several civilians, dozens of fighters killed in Syria’s Idlib | Syria News | Al Jazeera
The Syrian government, backed by Russia, began bombarding the last rebel-held territory of Idlib in April.
Defeating the Islamic State of Idlib | The National Interest
The Trump administration has made clear that it wants to avoid getting involved in the Idlib’s crisis and appears reluctant to deal with the Salafi-jihadi threat there—and that puts Americans in danger.

Israel announces new Golan Heights settlement named after Trump – CNNPolitics
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a new settlement in the Golan Heights named after his “great friend” Donald Trump.
Golan Heights: Israel unveils ‘Trump Heights’ settlement – BBC News
Its PM said the move honoured the US president for recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.
‘Trump Heights’: Netanyahu dedicates new settlement to US president
U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman called the gesture a “birthday present” to Trump, who turned 73 on Friday.
Benjamin Netanyahu just unveiled Israel’s newest town: “Trump Heights” – Vox
The town will be built in the contested Golan Heights.
Israeli jets hit Gaza after rocket fire into Israel | Israel News | Al Jazeera
Incident follows exchange of rocket fire between Israel and Hamas on Thursday in most serious escalation since May.

Saudi air defence intercepts five Houthi drones: SPA | Yemen News | Al Jazeera
The drone attack comes days after a missile strike on Abha airport injured 26 amid escalating tension in the region.
How Europe Is Handing Off Its ISIS Militants to Iraq – Foreign Policy
France is leading the way in washing its hands of its Islamic State fighters—whether they receive justice or not.
2 Rockets Strike Oil Fields in Southern Iraq – The New York Times
Three Iraqi workers were wounded in the attacks, which come as tensions between the United States and Iran are escalating in the region.
Rockets land in an Iraqi military post home to US personnel | Fox News
The Iraqi military says three rockets have hit an installation north of Baghdad used by Iraqi troops and where American trainers are also present.
Female jihadists are just as ‘motivated’ to build an Islamic State as men, report concludes | Fox News
Female jihadists are just as dedicated as their male comrades when it comes to bringing to life an “Islamic State,” the European Union’s police agency stated at Europol’s headquarters on Friday when presenting the findings of extensive analysis.
Analyst says Australian teen was Islamic State propagandist | Fox News
A security analyst says the eldest of three orphaned Australian siblings pleading for repatriation from a Syrian refugee camp has been an Islamic State group propagandist who could potentially face terrorism charges at home.
‘I Want To Go Back’: The Yazidi Girls Who Did Not Want To Be Rescued From ISIS : NPR
The girls, ages 10 and 11, were held captive for years and remember nothing of their Yazidi heritage. They miss the ISIS woman who looked after them and tell rescuers they want to return to her.
Egypt’s Morsi quietly buried, a day after courtroom death | Fox News
A lawyer says Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi has been buried, a day after collapsing and dying in a Cairo courtroom.
Khashoggi killing: ‘Credible evidence’ Saudi crown prince responsible, UN expert says – CNN
There is “sufficient credible evidence” Saudi Arabia’s crown prince bears responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and he should be investigated for it, a United Nations special rapporteur said in the first independent investigation into the death.
Defying Trump, U.S. senator moves toward vote to block Saudi arms sales – Reuters
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez began the formal process on Tuesday of blocking a White House plan for $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without the consent of Congress, setting up Senate votes on the matter as soon as this week.
Senate Votes to Block Trump’s Arms Sales to Gulf Nations in Bipartisan Rebuke – The New York Times
The vote illustrated the deep divide between lawmakers and the administration over Saudi Arabia and the president’s attempts to circumvent Congress on national security decisions.




U.S. Punishes Russian Entity Helping North Korea Evade Sanctions
The United States has sanctioned a small Russian financial institution for indirectly supporting North Korea’s nuclear program.
Xi heads to North Korea as fate of US nuclear deal still up in the air – CNN
More than 15 months after Kim Jong Un traveled to Beijing and invited the Chinese President to visit Pyongyang, Xi Jinping is finally heading to the North Korean capital for a two-day state visit this week.
China’s Leader To Meet Kim Jong Un In North Korea : NPR
The leaders are scheduled to meet on Thursday, according to Chinese and North Korean news agencies. The visit comes after stalled negotiations with President Trump.
Xi Jinping Arrives in North Korea, With Many Eyes on Trump – The New York Times
The Chinese leader met on Thursday with Kim Jong-un, in what American officials see as an attempt to gain leverage with President Trump on trade.
China’s Xi Visits Kim In Pyongyang, With An Eye Toward Talks With Trump : NPR
The two countries are marking the 70th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic relations. But some experts believe Xi Jinping’s trip has another purpose.
Xi firmly backs Pyongyang’s effort to solve Korea Peninsula issues: Rodong Sinmun – Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in an op-ed in North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Wednesday that China supports North Korea’s “correct direction” in politically resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula.
Daniel Hoffman: Here are big hurdles Trump faces trying to get North Korea to abandon its nukes | Fox News
President Trump announced Tuesday that he has received another “beautiful letter” from North Korea’s ruthless dictator Kim Jong Un. The two leaders may be headed for a third summit.
Chinese raids hit North Korean defectors’ ‘Underground Railroad’ – Reuters
A decade after leaving her family behind to flee North Korea, the defector was overwhelmed with excitement when she spoke to her 22-year-old son on the phone for the first time in May after he too escaped into China.
Inside the world of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un – Vox
Anna Fifield’s new book on North Korea’s Kim Jong Un reveals the man behind the missiles, nuclear weapons, and Trump diplomacy.
Kim Jong Un was quick-tempered teen with limited academic abilities, kicked and spat on his classmates, book reveals | Fox News
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was a spoiled quick-tempered child with limited academic abilities who lashed out at his Swiss school classmates for speaking German, a new biography book claims.
Injuries Killing More North Koreans as Kim Jong Un Pushes for Growth – WSJ
As North Korea pushes for economic self-reliance, injuries are killing more people every year, according to a new report.
North Korea earthquake: Panic at ‘large explosion’ on border with China | World | News |
A TREMOR believed to have been caused by an explosion has been recorded on the border between North Korea and China – sparking concerns Kim Jong-un’s rogue state has run a fresh nuclear test.
Japan pushes 300 North Korean boats out of fishing grounds | Fox News
The Japanese coast guard says its patrol boats have been pushing back hundreds of North Korean boats trying to poach in fishing grounds rich with squid off Japan’s northern coast.
Japan says it has forced hundreds of North Korean boats from fishing grounds | TheHill
Japanese officials say that the country’s coast guard has turned away hundreds of fishing vessels owned by North Korean fishermen in recent months, in some cases deploying water cannons to deter poachers.
Trump faces nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea. His tactics are failing for both – CNN
US President Donald Trump inherited an improving economy, two of America’s longest wars in abeyance, and ISIS on the way out. But he failed to appreciate one of the most fragile gifts Obama handed to him: the Iran nuclear deal.

Russia, China Activate Korean Talks Ahead of G20
Russia says it has invited South Korea to join in developing a “new Russian-Chinese initiative” to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula amid a flurry of diplomacy on the topic ahead of next week’s G…
Russia’s Putin gives China’s Xi ice cream on his 66th birthday – Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Xi considers a close friend and who gave Xi ice cream as a present, Chinese state media reported.
Lavrov To Discuss ‘New Russian, Chinese Initiative’ On Korean Peninsula With Visiting South Korean FM
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to host his South Korean counterpart in Moscow on June 17 for talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Putin, Xi, Rohani Attend CICA Summit In Tajikistan
A summit of a 27-member regional grouping called the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) opened on June 15 in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, and other leaders of member countries including Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are attending the summit. Observers at the Dushanbe summit include the United States, Ukraine, Belarus, Japan, the United Nations, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

U.S., Allies Take Notice of China’s Advances In Defense | Defense News: Aviation International News
China rattles sabres in escalating tension with the U.S.
South China Sea: Satellite image shows Chinese fighter jets deployed to contested island – CNN
A satellite image obtained by CNN show China has deployed a flight of at least four J-10 fighter jets on Woody Island in the South China Sea, the first known deployment of fighter jets there since 2017.
It looks like the US has been quietly lowering the threshold for conflict in the South China Sea | Business Insider
The US has been steadily ratcheting up the pressure on China’s sea forces in a way that could lower the threshold for conflict in the South China Sea, which is already a hotbed of tension. The US has been putting increased pressure on the Chinese maritime militia, a paramilitary sea force disguised as a fishing fleet, in an effort to deter provocations in the South China Sea. The US Navy’s top admiral told his Chinese counterpart earlier this year that provocations by militia vessels would be treated the same as those carried out by Chinese navy warships. Last week, the US ambassador to the Philippines told reporters that US defence obligations to its ally could be triggered by maritime militia attacks. Troubling incidents involving Chinese fishing vessels are not uncommon in the South China Sea, and this rhetorical shift in the US position appears to signal a lower threshold for confrontation and, possibly, conflict in the disputed waterway.
Should the US declassify intel to counter growing Chinese threats?
In order to combat the growing threat China poses to American businesses, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., says that the United States needs to declassify more intelligence so that officials can more clearly communicate the challenges American companies face from China.

The Risks of a ‘Total’ US-China Competition | The Diplomat
Even China hawks need to make a careful appraisal of what sparks joy in the Sino-American relationship.
China ready for long economic battle with US: Communist Party journal | TheHill
China is prepared for a long-term fight with the U.S.
China’s job market faces new pressure as trade war with US drags on
According to China’s top economic planning body, some local companies are cutting back on their efforts to hire new university graduates.
US likely to impose more tariffs on China if new trade deal isn’t reached – ABC News
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the U.S. is ready to place more tariffs on China if a new trade deal isn’t reached.

China forcefully harvests organs from detainees, tribunal concludes
China’s harvesting of detainees’ organs serves a booming transplant trade that is worth some $1 billion a year, according to an international tribunal.
China Strip Mines Political Prisoners for Their Organs | National Review
China has long been credibly accused of allowing a black market in organ sales, the kidneys, livers, etc. coming from murdered political prisoners such as the Falon Gong.

China says reached ‘broad consensus’ with U.N. after Xinjiang visit – Reuters
China and the United Nations have reached a “broad consensus” about counter-terror work, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday after a controversial visit by a senior U.N. official to the restive far western Chinese region of Xinjiang this week.
Belgium’s Beijing Embassy Calls Chinese Cops on Uighur Family – Foreign Policy
Belgian officials say their small country can’t risk offending China.

How Big Was Sunday’s Protest In Hong Kong? These Aerial Images Show You – The New York Times
Composite photos help show the enormous scale of the demonstrations.
Trump may raise mass protests with Xi as Hong Kong remains a thorn in Beijing’s side – CNN
Hong Kong has once again burnished its reputation as a thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist Party and its leader, President Xi Jinping, after protesters swarmed the city’s streets for the third time in one week.
Many in Hong Kong, fearful of China’s grasp, flee to Taiwan – Reuters
For Hong Kong resident Yung Xiu Kwan, 67, a proposed extradition law that would allow people in the former British colony to be sent to mainland China for trial was the final straw.
Hong Kong extradition law: What happens next? – CNN
Hong Kong residents have proven more willing to come to the streets to fight back against a loss of political freedoms than to push for extra ones, and both the local and central governments appear to have a greater degree of flexibility or patience on these issues as well.
Hong Kong’s Leader Publicly Apologizes for Extradition Bill – The New York Times
Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, said that she was personally responsible for introducing legislation that set off huge protest marches.
Rebecca Grant: Hong Kong sends China a powerful message (and proves Trump is right) | Fox News
Hong Kong’s message to Beijing is loud and clear. That city won’t succumb to creeping Chinese control, and the rest of the world shouldn’t either.
Hong Kong protest: Is Hong Kong part of China? How many people live there? | World | News |
THE HONG KONG protests continued at the weekend after the city’s leader Carrie Lam failed to quell the unrest – but what is happening and is Hong Kong part of China?
Hong Kong’s protests challenge everything Xi Jinping stands for. How will he react? – The Washington Post
With the protests comes anxiety.
Hong Kong protest sees thousands call for city leader to step down: live updates – CNN
Hong Kong is at a standstill as tens of thousands of protestors take to the streets to call for the city’s leader to stand down.
How Hong Kong’s Leader Made the Biggest Political Retreat by China Under Xi – The New York Times
Limited consultation within the Hong Kong government, and none with the public, led to an unexpected setback for local authorities and China’s government.
Hong Kong is not China yet, but that feared day is coming ever nearer | Louisa Lim | Opinion | The Guardian
The extradition law was delayed after a million people took to the streets, but the fight for the territory’s values is far from over
Carrie Lam: A ‘Good Fighter’ in the Crisis Over the Hong Kong Extradition Bill – The New York Times
Hong Kong’s chief executive is known for being a workaholic and for practically never backing down in a fight. Faced with protests over the proposed extradition bill, will she back down this time?
Hong Kong Protests Resume as Police Headquarters Is Surrounded – The New York Times
Thousands of demonstrators returned to Hong Kong’s streets on Friday, putting new pressure on the government over an unpopular extradition bill.
Hong Kong Protest Win Reflects Business Support, China’s Needs – Bloomberg
Support from business and the potential financial damage to China help explain how protesters prevailed in their battle against the extradition bill.
Joshua Wong released from prison day after hundreds of thousands march in Hong Kong – CNN
A day after organizers said 2 million Hong Kongers took to the streets to march against an extradition bill with China, one of the city’s pro-democracy icons has been released from prison.

Japan plans major sea base to counter Chinese activity around Senkaku Islands – Laredo Morning Times
Japan to dramatically scale up participation in Australian exercise
This will be Japan’s third and largest-ever participation at the Talisman Sabre drills.
Filipino fishing boat sunk by suspected Chinese vessel in the South China Sea | Fox News
A Filipino fishing boat carrying 22 fishermen sank after being hit by a suspected Chinese vessel in the South China Sea, ratcheting up tensions in the disputed area.
South China latest: Beijing rival Philippines purchases new patrol planes | World | News |
THE Philippines has confirmed it is to buy American P-3 Orions, a long-range maritime control plane.
South China Sea: World War 3 fears as Philippines diplomat snubs international support | World | News |
THE Philippines foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin has snubbed any international support when it comes to the South China Sea following reports Beijing sunk a Philippine fishing boat.
Vietnam Calls In Russia’s Embalm Squad
Vietnam wants Russian help assessing the state of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh’s mummified corpse.
AFP raids are not about media but how angry men use power in Australia
Government is used by vested interests to protect themselves. That applies as much to the security establishment as anyone else.

Foreign Policy Reports



World’s Population Will Just About Stop Growing for First Time in Modern History, Report Shows
The world’s population—currently at about 7.8 billion people—would rise to 10.9 billion by the year 2100, but then would essentially stop growing.
The Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet have seen record June ice loss – The Washington Post
And it may be messing with our weather.
Reality of Greenland’s melting ice sheet shown in photo of sled dogs walking through water – CNN
Steffen Olsen, a scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute, was on a routine mission in northwest Greenland to retrieve oceanographic and weather monitoring tools placed by his colleagues on sea ice when he ran into a problem.
BBC – Future – The poisons released by melting Arctic ice
Toxic chemicals, anthrax – even nuclear waste – could be unleashed by global warming

Johnson gets boost in race for UK PM’s job as former rival backs him – Reuters
Boris Johnson got a boost in his bid to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday when one of his former rivals backed him and said he was almost certain to win the contest.
Boris Johnson blew off a debate for British prime ministerial candidates. But the empty chair said a lot. – The Washington Post
The other hopefuls had plenty to say about the B-words: Boris and Brexit.
Sadiq Khan: Donald Trump a ‘poster boy’ for racists – BBC News
The US President dubbed Mr Khan a “disaster” following a spate of violent crimes in London.
British home secretary on Trump: Time to stop ‘interfering’ in UK politics | TheHill
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Monday condemned President Trump’s criticisms of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, telling the president to stop “interfering” in U.K. politics.
WS on Twitter: “Socialist unions labors masters “They are confident their agenda to remake the family is proceeding according to a plan laid out more than a century ago by the architects of communism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels”…”
The Julian Assange Prosecution Approach Could Backfire | Time
American prosecutors may have ensured that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will never see justice in the United States.
Julian Assange To Have Hearing In February On U.S. Effort To Extradite Him : NPR
The founder of WikiLeaks faces charges from U.S. prosecutors that include conspiracy to hack government computer networks.

Walter Lübcke: Officials suspect far-right link to German politician’s killing – CNN
A man arrested over the killing of a senior German politician earlier this month is believed to have links to the far right, prosecutors said Monday.
Far-right sympathizer suspected of killing German pro-migrant politician – Reuters
A man arrested in Germany on suspicion of murdering a senior local politician known for pro-migrant views was a far-right sympathizer, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said on Monday.
Ex-France president Sarkozy to face trial on charges of corruption, influence-peddling | Fox News
Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, will stand trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling after the country’s highest court rejected his final appeal Tuesday.

Big Brother Comes to Belgrade – Foreign Policy
Chinese facial recognition software has arrived in Serbia. It confirms the West’s worst fears about Huawei.
Orban and Aung San Suu Kyi Gave in to Hate the Same Way – Foreign Policy
The two Oxford-educated leaders once preached liberal values—but found bigotry more convenient.

John Bolton on Twitter: “Maduro has grossly mismanaged Venezuela’s resources. In May, while hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans went hungry, Maduro gave Russia $209 million for a defense contract to buy their continued support. Venezuelans want true democratic leadership, not repression.”
With Maduro entrenched in Venezuela, Trump loses patience and interest in issue, officials say – The Washington Post
The ouster of the Venezuelan president seemed a sure bet last winter. Less so, now.
Venezuela’s Collapse Frays Its Economic Ties With Russia – The New York Times
Russia has been a bulwark of support for Venezuela. But as that country’s economy crumbles, Russian state-owned businesses are pulling back to protect their bottom line.
Maduro strength builds amid Venezuela stalemate, poll finds | Miami Herald
A new poll by Datincorp suggests Nicolas Maduro is gaining strength against Juan Guaido amid the political stalemate. While he remains deeply unpopular more people consider him the country’s legitimate president.
Venezuela’s Guaidó grapples with case of alleged corruption | Fox News
Venezuela’s opposition is coming under scrutiny for a case in which two activists allegedly misappropriated funds designated to help Venezuelan security forces who deserted and crossed into Colombia.
Russia responds to Bolton’s statement on military contract between Maduro and Putin
Russia considers fiction a statement by the adviser to American president on national security, John Bolton
Diplomats: Europeans weigh sanctions on Venezuela’s Maduro
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents,…
Venezuela’s Guaido calls for probe into funds for military defectors – Reuters
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday called for an investigation into claims his representatives misappropriated funds intended to help defectors from the Venezuelan military living in Colombia.
Venezuela’s Guaido asks Jamaica not to seize PDVSA refinery shares – Reuters
The ad-hoc board of Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA, appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, said on Saturday it had asked Jamaica’s government not to seize the company’s shares in an oil refinery on the island.

Ecuador ‘allows US military planes to use Galapagos island airfield’ – BBC News
Ecuador’s decision to allow US planes to use a San Cristobal airfield prompts environmental concerns.
Ecuador defends decision to let the U.S. use the Galapagos Islands for anti-drug flights – Los Angeles Times
Ecuador’s defense minister defended his country’s decision to allow U.S. anti-drug overflights to land in the environmentally sensitive Galapagos Islands.



IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports



The United States Needs an Information Warfare Command: A Historical Examination
Recently, the House and Senate have been evaluating Defense Department plans to set up a new Space Force. However, without any fanfare, a more important
Review – The United States Needs An Information Warfare Command: A Historical Examination – To Inform is to Influence
Kudos to Conrad Crane, Ph.D., for this illuminating article. While I agree with his basic premise, the article is strongly flawed. The first problem is using the terms Information Warfare and Information Operations interchangeably.  “Information Warfare” was dropped from the lexicon in 2006, primarily due to decisions made in 1993 when the Department of Defense…
How will Congress combat deepfake videos?
Congress is grappling with how to combat deepfake videos, which are created to manipulate audio and video in a way that is indistinguishable to most people.
Fight Deepfakes with Cyberweapons and Sanctions, Experts Tell Congress – Defense One
Social media companies and the federal government must help fight hyper-realistic misinformation, witnesses told the House Intelligence Committee.
Politician accidentally livestreams press conference with cat eyes and ears – CNN
A Pakistani politician suffered a major catastrophe when his press conference was live-streamed on social media last week.
Vetting Foreigners’ Facebook Feeds Won’t Make Americans Safer – Defense One
The federal government wants visa applicants to cough up their social-media handles.
New Zealand man who shared Christchurch mosque massacre video sentenced to prison | Fox News
A New Zealand man who shared a video of the Christchurch mosque massacre was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday. 
New Zealand mosque attacks: man who shared video online jailed for 21 months – CNN
A New Zealand man has been jailed for almost two years for sharing a video of the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 51 people.
Trump brands Australia’s ABC ‘fake news’ in case of mistaken Twitter identity | Media | The Guardian
Public broadcaster replies with a quick ‘G’day!’ after US president lashed out at what he thought was the US commercial network
MIKE SCRAFTON. The Chief of the Defence Force and political warfare | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
General Angus Campbell’s presentation at ASPI’s conference War in 2015 was thoughtful and provocative. Some of the CDF’s views are germane and apt are others contestable. He opened by saying, ‘I sense a renewed concern in the world for the potential for state-on-state conflict’; however ‘political warfare’ was his main concern. The CDF is not…

4 new members for NATO cyber defense organization
A NATO cyber defense organization welcomed four new member nations: Bulgaria, Denmark, Norway, and Romania.
What’s the best way for the Army to demonstrate force via electronic warfare?
The U.S. Army, however, is not interested in the same raw demonstration of force as Russia. Instead, U.S. officials are following a philosophy that relies on what they refer to as “surgical” attacks. When the Russian military attacked Ukraine, it prevented units from communicating with each other by turning to powerful electronic jamming tools. The U.S. Army, however, is not interested in the same raw demonstration of force. Instead, U.S. officials are following a philosophy that relies on “surgical” attacks. This could include creating an image on enemy’s radar, projecting an aircraft at one location when enemies think it is at another, or impairing the command and control links of adversaries’ unmanned aerial systems. “When the Russians emit like that, they’re letting the entire world know where they are,” Col. Mark Dotson, the Army’s capabilities manager for electronic warfare said on a media call with two reporters June 14. “What we’re looking at in the future … [is] surgical electronic attack, electronic intrusion or 21st century electron attack. We’re looking for much more discrete ways of conducting electronic attack. Using low power to affect the signal and to affect it in such a way that it may not even be detectable that you’re interfering with what they’re doing.” Dotson said instead of sheer power, future capabilities should focus on the end result, such as whether it’s hurting an enemy’s ability to communicate or to use radar.

US Domestic Policy Reports



Shanahan Out; Army Secretary Esper to Be Acting SecDef – Defense One
Trump tweets the news after reports that the FBI was looking into a violent domestic dispute from nine years ago.
Patrick Shanahan out as Pentagon chief after domestic violence allegations
President Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has withdrawn himself from consideration to lead the Pentagon.
Patrick Shanahan withdraws as Defense Secretary nominee, addresses violent domestic incidents – The Washington Post
Patrick Shanahan said he regretted explaining his son’s 2011 assault on his ex-wife with a baseball bat as an act of self-defense.
Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless | TheHill
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan abruptly withdrew from consideration Wednesday to lead the Pentagon under a cloud of allegations surrounding domestic violence within his family, leaving senators fuming and the Defense Department rudderle
Inside the process of confirming a Defense Secretary Shanahan
Patrick Shanahan expects to have his nomination
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter Talks Iran, China, and Trump’s Late-Night Tweets – Defense One
“I don’t want to have a war with Iran, but I know who would win.”
Could a new office protect critical US tech?
Legislation is being added to the defense authorization bill that would create an executive office dedicated to cybersecurity protection, as well as reform security clearance procedures.
House Votes to Repeal 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force | National Review
The House on Wednesday voted to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which the Trump administration has appeared ready to cite justifying armed conflict with Iran should such a conflict arise.
US Navy Seal ‘stabbed injured prisoner in neck and claimed he was just an Isis dirtbag’ | The Independent
A US Navy Seal chief has been accused of spontaneously killing an injured teenage Islamic State prisoner by stabbing him repeatedly and calling him an “Isis dirtbag” in the process, his former comrades said in court this week.  The San Diego court-martial trial began this week for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, accused of killing the boy during his 2017 tour of
Top Russia expert leaving Trump’s National Security Council – CNNPolitics
Fiona Hill, the top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council, will depart the Trump administration this summer, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Congress: New devices = new threats = new security?
New legislation directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology to issue security standards for government devices connected to the internet.
NYT: Officials wary of telling Trump about Russia strategy – CNN Video
Pentagon and intelligence officials describe to the Times “broad hesitation” to tell Trump about the details of escalating cyber attacks on Russia’s electric power grid.

Russian lawyer from Trump Tower meeting kicked off Twitter — RT World News
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer whose 2016 meeting with Trump campaign members was a major point in ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory, has been suspended from Twitter for reasons unknown.
Donald Trump Refuses to Criticize Russia During Joint Press Conference With Poland’s Leader
Poland wants U.S. support to protect itself from Russia.
New U.S. Visa Rules May Push Foreigners To Censor Their Social-Media Posts
The U.S. State Department now requires visa applicants to identify the social-media platforms they use, including Facebook and Instagram. It could cause foreigners to refrain from commenting on any…
Opinion | Trump’s Only Consistent Foreign Policy Goal Is to One-Up Obama – The New York Times
He talks big but without strategic plans, as shown with Iran and North Korea.
UAWire – US prison administration allows Kremlin agent Butina to teach in prisons
The Russian citizen Maria Butina, who is serving prison time in the US, has started teaching four subjects to prisoners with permission from the …