30 January 2015
The shelling of the Ukrainian southeastern coastal city of Mariupol on Saturday, January 24th, resulted in the deaths of up to 30 people. The UN has branded the incident a war crime, and international observers in the area have concluded that the attack was carried out from rebel-controlled territory. The Russian government has claimed that the assault was a “false flag” operation to pin blame on the separatists, but as time passes, it appears increasingly clear that the Russian-backed separatist rebels launched the attack. The following video is graphic, and viewers are warned that images of civilian dead appear. School No. 5, and kindergartens No. 165 and 42 are shot by a cameraman filming the area immediately after the missile attack. It is impossible to conclude from this footage that the attack did not target civilians. It is only left to the international community to decide whether the atrocity was carried out by the separatist-terrorists, or (as the Russian government claims) by forces loyal to the government in Kyiv. The official Russian claims ring increasingly hollow. Phone conversations between the rebels intercepted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) incriminate the pro-Russian separatists unambiguously. Again, warning: graphic content.
27 January 2015
As Western sanctions take their toll on Russia, the price of annexation and proxy war in Ukraine may be proving too high for the maintenance of Russia’s empire in the so-called “near abroad.” Outposts of Russian power in the ex-USSR have, in the post-Soviet era, included self-declared independent republics (separatist states) in ex-Soviet states, such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Georgia), and Transnistria (Moldova). Transnistria – sometimes referred to as “Trans-Dniestr” or “Transdniestria” – is especially remote from Moscow. A sliver of land sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova, it does not even share a border with the Russian Federation. Moldova is the small, ethnically Romanian country of which every member of the United Nations (including Russia) recognizes Transnistria to be a formal part.
Yet despite the Kremlin’s official stance toward Transnistria as part of Moldova in the post-Soviet era, Russia has maintained troops in the region, once home to the Soviet (then Russian) 14th Army. The continued Russian troop presence in Transnistria in violation of international treaty obligations appears to be a deterrent to further NATO expansion in the region, particularly in light of Moscow’s continued denials. Transnistria’s economy is notoriously opaque, long a source of trade in arms and other illegal goods, and the Russian military is convenient protection for such activity. On a cultural level, the ancient history of the small capital – Tiraspol – as a “Russian city” has raised suspicion that, like Crimea and Sevastopol, Transnistria (population just over half a million) could become another object of a Russian military operation to reconstruct the USSR by force.
Unfortunately for Russia, such a prospect now looks prohibitively expensive in light of the damage to the Russian economy caused by the annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine. What, then, happens to Transnistria? Will Russia attempt to bargain the region away, perhaps to devote more resources to supporting Crimea? The Kremlin’s loosening grip on Transnistria is good news for the new Ukrainian state, since Transnistria has loomed as a southwestern front for a potential three-pronged, full-scale Russian invasion (in addition to eastern Ukraine and Crimea). That threat appears to be dissipating.
The following article from the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta implies that the writing may be on the wall for the most populous (and westernmost) pro-Russian separatist state of the ex-USSR…
Moscow may give up the unrecognized republic in exchange for recognition of Crimea
26 January 2015 ~ Svetlana Gamova
For the first time, Russia has refused to give Transnistria financial assistance, which the region’s leader, Yevgeny Shevchuk, asked for in Moscow. A source in the Supreme Council of Transnistria [parliament – Ed.] told Nezavisimaya Gazeta (NG) that Tiraspol had expected to receive $100 million to cover payment of pensions and other social obligations. According to the director of the Moldovan Center for Strategic Research and Policy Consulting, Anatol Taranu, the refusal was dictated by the change in the Kremlin’s attitude to the breakaway republic, which could be given away in exchange for recognition of Crimea as Russian.
NG has already written about the fact that there is no money in Transnistria to pay salaries and pensions (see 20 January 2015 issue). We also reported that a delegation would visit Moscow to ask for $100 million for the unrecognized republic, so that the Transnistrian authorities could close gaps in social and economic areas. NG’s source in the Transnistrian Supreme Council says the Transnistrians’ requests to the Russian government have been refused. According to a source, “in Moscow, dissatisfaction has been expressed with the charter flights that fly Transnistrian President Yevgeny Shevchuk, and reference has been made to economic difficulties in Russia.”
Anatol Taranu remarked to NG that “Moscow is changing its views as a whole on Transnistria, which used to be called an outpost on the way to the Balkans. This is what Crimea has become… Russia is in a difficult situation in connection with Crimea, the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and the economic crisis in Russia itself. Unrecognized Transnistria is becoming a burden for Moscow.”
“It is moreover true that the economy of Transnistria is in critical condition – a series of enterprises there are standing or functioning at partial capacity, and are also operating on cheap or free Russian energy resources. Tiraspol owes the Russian Federation $5 billion for gas. Electricity is supplied to local factories from the Russian-owned Kuchurgan Power Station [a 2,520 megawatt power plant in Transnistria fueled by gas, oil and coal, and operated by Moscow-based company Inter RAO – Ed.]. Besides, the big scandals associated with Russian money and the family of former Transnistrian leader Igor Smirnov have not been forgotten, giving rise to a belief among the population that things are not getting better,” said Taranu.
The expert noted media reports that Russian investors have started to leave Transnistria, indicating a decrease in the profitability of enterprises as well as a change in Moscow’s position toward the pro-Russian region.
In support of this version of events, ex-Ambassador of Moldova to the Russian Federation Anatol Taranu recalled the words of Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigory Karasin in the State Duma. “The Dniestr Moldavian Republic is our partner, and we have signed a series of interagency agreements under which we provide practical assistance to many areas of Transnistria. But officially, regarding the Transnistrian settlement, where we are actively involved in the “5+2” and other formats, we believe that Transnistria – as our partner – must be a special district with special guarantees of status within a single Moldovan state,” Karasin was quoted as saying to the Russian news agency TASS.
Taranu drew attention to the word “district”: “This term is only ever used to refer to Transnistria in Chisinau [the capital of Moldova – Ed.]. And the fact that it came from the mouth of the deputy head of the Foreign Ministry of Russia can be interpreted as a signal,” said the Moldovan expert. “In Moldova today, half the population has a pro-Russian stance. If Transnistria is returned to the control of Chisinau, this category of citizens will increase. It is unclear why Russia did not understand this before, and did not look after the unrecognized republic,” he added.
Supreme Council of Transnistria member and Center for Modeling and Strategic Development Vice President Dmitry Soin told NG that, “the withdrawal of Russian investors from Transnistria is an alarming omen for my people.” According to the Transnistrian MP, the Moldova Steel Works (MMZ) – one of the main budget enterprises – could be returned to the state property of Transnistria. For now, MMZ still has a Russian owner. “The reason may be a Ukrainian blockade of the region, the abolition of benefits in connection with EU sanctions against Russia, and the loss of civilian markets. For Transnistrians, who could always count on the help of the Russian state and Russian investors, this means possibly remaining on a starvation diet,” said Soin.
The day before, the Transnistrian news agency Tiras, citing its own sources, had reported that, “powerful Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov is leaving Transnistria, and soon the Moldova Steel Works in Rybnitsa will become the property of the local authorities.” The agency notes that the Rybnitsa Cement Plant is up for sale. “These are alarming symptoms not only for the economy but also for the future of Transnistria. For example, the metallurgical and cement plants are the main enterprises of the city of Rybnitsa. Their work was only possible thanks to the efforts of the Russian side. Now, the very existence of these plants is highly questionable,” writes Tiras. The management of MMZ neither confirms nor denies this information. We were unable to obtain comment from the press service of Metalloinvest, which owns MMZ.
Meanwhile, observers in Chisinau considered it unlikely that Alisher Usmanov would part so easily with his property, the Moldova Steel Works in Rybnitsa, which worked steadily last year. Shares of MMZ can now be sold at a profit, but certainly not to the Transnistrian authorities, whose treasury is empty. This opinion is shared by the director of the Center for Strategic Studies and Reforms, Galina Shalar. As she told NG, “If MMZ actually changes investors, then it’s no more than a question of ownership. When a similar situation occurred with the Kuchurgan Power Station, it turned out that one Russian owner had been replaced by another. The same thing could happen here.”
26 January 2015
He’s at it again. The Russian rebel leader and former military intelligence officer Igor Girkin (nom de guerre ‘Strelkov’) is doing the talk show circuit, and in the below video he is in heated debate. His opponent angrily asserts that the movement in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea for unification with the Russian Federation in February 2014 was real “people power,” whereby the local population won the local authorities to its side, and the ensuing declaration of independence fulfilled the “will of the people.” Not so, says Strelkov, who boasts that he was in Crimea from February 21st, and was one of the leaders of the pro-Russian militias at the time, whereas the other guest was only there from mid-March.
Strelkov paints a picture of local security forces “herding” local deputies (members of parliament, or MPs) into the chamber of the local legislature, under orders from the regime in Kyiv (at that time, still headed by Viktor Yanukovych). The local state and government leaders had nothing to do with it, he says. Only the Ukrainian special police – the dreaded “Berkut” – sided with “the people.”
When the other guest asks Strelkov why – in that case – he didn’t effect exactly the same outcome in Donetsk and Luhansk, Strelkov responds that, had there been as many Russian military personnel in those places as there were in Crimea, he and his cohorts could have pulled off exactly the same scenario (as well as in Odessa, Kherson, etc.). The text of the article in the online Ukrainska Pravda newspaper about the debate reads as follows…
24 January 2015 ~
Igor Strelkov (or Girkin), the former leader of the insurgents of the DNR [‘Donetsk People’s Republic’] who fled to Russia, has told how the members of parliament in Crimea “were driven” into the Council of Crimea [Crimean parliament] to vote in favor of “joining the Russian Federation.”
Girkin said this on a television program.
He says he was in Crimea from February 21st (2014) onwards. According to him, the police did not obey the leadership of the then-self-proclaimed autonomy led by [Prime Minister Sergei] Aksyonov and [Speaker of Parliament Vladimir] Konstantinov, but acted “at the direction of Kyiv, although they carried out their orders reluctantly,” in slipshod fashion, and did not “go over to the side of the population.”
“It was not the ‘authorities’ who went over to the side of the population, but only ‘Berkut,’” says Girkin. [Berkut – ‘Golden Eagle’ – was the special Ukrainian police force that first cracked down on pro-EU demonstrators in central Kyiv in November 2013, and were disbanded and abolished following the Maidan Revolution in February 2014. – Ed.]
“I did not see any support from the organs of state power in Simferopol, where I was. The insurgents gathered the MPs together in order to drive them into the hall, so that they would ratify (the decision on unifying Crimea with the Russian Federation – Ed.). And I was one of the commanders of the insurgents,” says the leader of the militants.
24 January 2015
The port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine does not appear on most people’s mental maps of the world. But the heavy-industrial town of less than half a million is regarded as a key strategic target of Putin’s imperial “Novorossia” project. It is home to some of the largest industrial plants in Ukraine, and is a vital port on the Sea of Azov. As a recent slaughter launched by Russian-backed rebels left 30 dead, 100 injured, homes ruined and civilian districts destroyed, the question is: why should we care? Here is an interesting comparative historical analysis by a Ukrainian MP from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, the journalist Mustafa Nayyem…
24 January 2015 ~ Mustafa Nayyem
It seems that an epoch of military-political deja vu from World War II has dawned. The Sudetenland and Munich agreements have already happened, in March last year after the referendum in Crimea. Now we are getting closer.
In the spring of 1939, an article appeared in the French newspaper L’Œuvre by the well-known politician Marcel Déat – with the headline, “Why die for Gdansk?”
In this article, Déat insisted that for France it was not necessary and would even be harmful to side with Poland in an armed conflict with Germany over Gdansk.
The myopic ideas of Déat were supported by almost all the elite of France, including the intelligentsia and right-wing radicals who sympathized with Hitler. (True, he was not supported by 80% of the French, who demanded the entry of France into the war in defense of Poland. But they decided not to consider this.)
What is important, Déat called not only for a refusal to stand up for Poland, but also insisted that after the unification of Gdansk, fascist Germany would temper its appetites, and a small piece of Poland could stop Hitler’s expansion.
It happened the other way around. On September 1st, 1939, German troops launched an attack on Gdansk, and a day later the city became part of East Prussia. The date of the fall of Gdansk went down in history as the beginning of World War II.
Regardless of the different historical pasts of Mariupol and Gdansk, today the parallels between them are manifest. Both Gdansk and Mariupol are port cities. Both cities are approximately the same area, with almost the same populations (a little less than half a million).
Today’s events in Mariupol vaguely resemble Gdansk in 1939. The war is already on the threshold of Europe. Too many losses have been incurred by the parties, whose ambitions ran too deep, who had too much desire for revanche and revenge. We can deny it and pretend it is a private conflict, but this is not the case. After the smiling forgetfulness of Russia over the Budapest agreement, there arose a cynical and deliberate ignorance of yesterday’s agreements.
How deep and far this disease will go depends on the awareness and power of Europe to recognize realities and stop living myths. In the European home has appeared a gun, which no one knows how to handle, and which sooner or later will discharge.
So that it is not necessary tomorrow to go there with a machine gun, it is possible that – today – it would be enough simply to demonstrate that machine gun. Fast talk and criminal delay could lead to Mariupol becoming the Gdansk of the 21st century.
P.S. I have already written on my blog that in December 2014 Mariupol and Gdansk became sister cities.
24 January 2015
One of the ways the Putin regime has successfully waged its propaganda war over Ukraine is by branding the pro-Western leadership in Ukraine as “fascist,” while deflecting attention away from its own fascist qualities and history. The initiative has yielded palpable results, particularly on the Internet, where an army of paid, pro-Putin trolls (see Putin’s Trolls, 4 Nov. 2014, in the Journal section of this site) seems ever-ready on popular news or opinion websites to attack critics of Russia, charging that the West (led by America) is supporting a “fascist” or “neo-Nazi” regime in Ukraine.
In reality, Russia’s current unilateral armed annexation and terrorist-separatist war in Ukraine under the banners of ethno-national unity and past imperial glory (see Novorossiya: Phase 2 in the Journal section of this site) are the genuinely fascist policy, not Ukraine’s defensive war. Putin and his allies point to elements among the Ukrainian political elite who identify with anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalists in history as evidence that the pro-Western Ukrainian government is somehow “fascist” or “neo-Nazi.” As is known, anti-Soviet Ukrainian nationalists such as Stepan Bandera sided with Nazi Germany against Stalin’s Soviet Union in western Ukraine, mistakenly believing that the Third Reich would secure independent statehood for them. They were not alone in their delusion. Before the Nazi Holocaust was known to the world (almost at the end of the war), many political and partisan movements favored the cleanliness and efficiency of Nazi Germany over the squalor, famine, labor camps and political terror of Stalin’s Soviet Union. Death camps such as Auschwitz and Sobibor were barely imagined by most people, and peoples held captive by Stalin’s prison of nations often saw the German Wehrmacht as a potential means to an end of national sovereignty and liberation.
But Russians were no exception, and for today’s Russian regime to pretend otherwise is one of the great lies being perpetrated on the world stage today. Less publicized today are intrinsically Russian forces which also sided with Hitler during WWII, and openly fought and operated under the banner of German fascism. These included the 1st and 2nd SS Cossack Calvary Divisions, ultimately united to form the XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps, which was larger and more numerous than the hapless SS Galicia Division or anything that appeared in western Ukraine. These pro-Nazi Russians, despite having a legacy that includes followers in today’s conflict in southeastern Ukraine, somehow go unnoticed by the Putin-admirers and America-haters worldwide, a motley collection of conspiratorial leftists and anti-Western Slav national-chauvinists.
The Russian “Don Cossacks” have repeatedly sided with militant-nationalist, fascist-imperialist and anti-Semitic forces over the last hundred years. They continue to do so today. In fact, “Cossack” Russian units have become a kind of “gendarmerie” in the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine, and Russian fascist political movements in other parts of Russia complement them in increasing and alarming numbers.
Below is a transcript in English of a Russian-language video published in December 2014 about the Russian Don Cossacks from 1919-2014, below which is the video itself. If possible, the video should be viewed in conjunction with reading the English text, for those who do not understand Russian. It should put a dent in the convictions of any Western observer who still maintains the line that the Ukrainian government and its armed forces are in some meaningful sense “fascist” in comparison with the regime of Putin…
The Don Cossacks have acquired an aura of romanticism, honor and courage. But unfortunately, in reality this magic is confined to the pages of the novel “And Quiet Flows the Don” [a serialized novel written from 1928-40 by Mikhail Shokholov, and repeatedly adapted for film and television – Ed.]. In reality, the Don Cossacks represent one of the most shameful pages of Russian history. In light of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, the last hundred years in the history of mercenary Russian Don Cossack troops are particularly illustrative. Ironically, the history is closely linked to the Ukrainian city of Luhansk, now temporarily occupied by the Russians.
The first military invasion of the Luhansk region by Cossacks occurred in 1919, when the city’s defenses were broken, bringing death and terror at the hands of the Cossack punitive battalions of Denikin’s army. The Don Cossacks at that time strove with tremendous brutality to drown Luhansk in blood. The citizenry fought hard. These events were so tragic that, in their honor, a “Defense Street” appeared in Lugansk, and near it a “Sharp Grave” as a monument to the Luhanskan heroes who fell at the hands of Russian Cossack murderers.
The second invasion of Luhansk by the Don Cossacks was in 1942, when the valiant Russian Cossacks fought in the Waffen SS. Two Cossack squadrons were stationed in Luhansk under a German commandant. Another two hundred Don Cossacks were based in Krasnodon under fascist banners, hunting down members of the “Young Guard.” The Don Cossacks in Luhansk were Nazi policemen, gladly carrying out punitive atrocities, torturing and shooting the native people of Luhansk. In total, tens of thousands of Don Cossacks fought as part of the German fascist military units – entire regiments, divisions, and even corps. As a whole – and this is not advertised – the number of Russians who fought for the glory of the Greater Reich was up to a million people. It was for Faith, Tsar and Fatherland… but with a fascist swastika.
By the way, as to faith, the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate officially blessed the Führer – Adolf Hitler – and called upon Russians to fight on the side of Nazi Germany. It is worth recalling that at this time, the Moscow Patriarchate continues its “benevolent” tradition, and today blesses Dickhead-Führer Putin’s war in Ukraine.
And this is the Don Cossacks’ third invasion of Luhansk: 2014. A horde of infantile men with whips from sex shops – stinking of smoke, garlic and wine – has invaded the southeastern Donbas. It began in February 2014, with these red-faced warriors forming so-called “People’s Teams for the Protection of Order” in the regional center. The pro-Russian Luhansk district leadership initiated the creation of these bands.
That is, just as in 1942, Russian Cossacks have again become policemen in Luhansk. With serious faces and stripes on their clown-like breeches, they have defiled Luhansk. It is unnecessary to remind anyone of what happened next…
But if before – several years ago – the Don Cossacks were just costumed, folklore-ish fools with medals and fantastic titles… [e.g. ‘Marshal of Cossack Troops, Grand Duchess, and Supreme Ataman of the Russian Romanov Orthodox Cossacks’ being all one title – Ed.), today they are full-fledged, stupid fat-asses with machine guns and heavy artillery, controlling several small towns in Luhansk. Some mysterious, perverted force – for the third time in the last 100 years – is forcing the Don Cossacks to do the same thing they have done before: terrorize the Luhansk region and drown it in blood.
And are you itching to do something, dyadyas? [‘dyadya’ is a colloquial term used by Russian-speakers to refer to a stranger, an literally means ‘uncle.’ – Ed.] These infamous Ataman-Gritsian-Tavricheskys [Ataman Gritsian Tavrichesky was a character from a Soviet-era comic opera, ‘Wedding in Malinovka.’ – Ed.], the descendants of Nazi Cossack policemen, are totally drunk on Ukrainian vodka and are renaming villages after themselves.
And in Luhansk, the famous Lyceum of Foreign Languages has suddenly become the Pushkin Cossack Lyceum of Foreign Languages, with an emphasis on Orthodox Christianity. All this seems strange and incomprehensible, but only if one does not take a closer look at Russia itself, the country that gave birth to these inglorious bastards on the Don – the Great Don Army.
In Russia, they have a little prick-führer. No kidding. You do not even have to look for analogies with Hitler. Russia is a fascist country. The symbols of Russia – the tricolor and black-and-orange ribbon – represent the indelible glory of Nazi symbols. The cutting-edge belief system in Russia: Orthodox Christian fascism! It is strange that the Russians themselves don’t see what’s under their very noses, but rather prefer to discuss their neighbors.
Hey, Russian! Look closely into your own mirror! Well, what did you see? Did you see a fascist? If not, then just for you we’ll make a separate video…
22 January 2015
Insight into the Russian popular mentality has always been difficult for outsiders. Churchill’s famous comment that “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” still exerts considerable influence over people daring to try to fathom what could be going on inside the minds of ordinary people in a country that appears to have achieved a significant amount culturally, scientifically and otherwise over the centuries, but which is overall still a fairly brutal and ghastly place.
Likewise, with the war in Ukraine, Russian public attitudes are difficult to believe. During the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, huge antiwar demonstrations appeared in many Western capitals. Even in the United States, whose population is traditionally docile concerning its government’s foreign military interventions, anti-Iraq war demonstrations in Washington were the largest since the war in Vietnam. In Russia, public attitudes toward the war in Ukraine appear very supportive of President Putin’s “Novorossia” project to carve away large swathes of Ukrainian territory and attach them to a greater Russian imperial space. Only tiny handfuls of antiwar demonstrators have been seen in Moscow, and this does not appear to be the product of mass popular fear of the consequences of protests. Among ordinary Russians, militant ethno-national and religious jingoisim is the order of the day.
But Russian émigrés often have a uniquely useful perspective, and back in late November 2014, the Soviet defector known as Viktor Suvorov (a former officer of Soviet military intelligence) gave an interview to a Lithuanian news website (on the occasion of the signing of his latest book) concerning the mentality of both the Russian leadership and people. Suvorov is half Russian, half Ukrainian by birth, and defected to the United Kingdom in 1978. Those of us who studied the Soviet Union in the 1980s remember Suvorov for the books he published during that decade – including Inside the Soviet Army and Inside Soviet Military Intelligence. Here he speaks candidly about the Russian regime’s thoughts and actions in the context of the conflict in Ukraine…
27 November 2014 ~ Alexander Otroshchenkov
In Warsaw, the famous writer, historian and publicist Viktor Suvorov (Vladimir Rezun) has presented his new book, “The Alphabet of Suvorov,” written especially for the Polish reader. After the presentation, the former Soviet spy gave an interview to Delfi.
Delfi: Vladimir Bogdanovich, events in Ukraine have shown that the plan to invade and capture individual territories was developed long before the Maidan – most likely, many years before. The question is whether Putin has a similar plan with regard to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Belarus?
Viktor Suvorov: Of course, it is better to ask this directly of Putin, and not a little man who wrote some books. But if you look at the situation through his eyes, we understand that, apparently, he has no other choice. There are certain internal problems. In order to solve them, he needs to leave and put clever people at the wheel to steer the country. Isn’t that true? But he doesn’t want to. He has said that in 2018, he is going to run for a new term. Somehow, he calls this a second term. So, there are internal problems, but there is no solution to the internal problems. So he is trying to find an external solution to internal problems.
Delfi: The situation with regard to the capture of the Lithuanian fishing vessel and the abduction of the Estonian officer, does this not give rise to the drawing of parallels with what happened at the turn of the Thirties and Forties, before the Red Army entered the Baltic countries?
Suvorov: Yes and no. Yes, because the same old KGB-Mafia reigns. It’s that way. But on the other hand, it’s already rotten – rotten and completely corrupt – from head to toe, organization and country. From the point of view of their psychology, this works as well, but the nature of power has already changed. They are very, very afraid of force. They are thieves. Thieves understand only force and nothing else. I will give you an interesting example. When World War II ended, Stalin demanded from America and Great Britain the extradition of those who had fought against the Communists. And they gave them up!
America had an atomic bomb. We didn’t have one. They had a heavy-duty fleet and strategic aviation. And most importantly, they had an army – whole and not crippled. And there was something to eat. We were totally destroyed, with nothing to eat, the country on the brink of disaster. Yet the Americans gave them up. And the British handed them over. But there was one country that did not give them up, and this country was Liechtenstein. There were either 15 or 20 people there. Our KGB crooks came and said: give ‘em up. Lichtenstein says: we won’t give them to you. And our guys right away said: “Well, you won’t give, and you don’t give. And there’s no court to sue you in… ”
Delfi: You said that Putin has nowhere to go, that he will attack. Are Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia ready?
Suvorov: This question should be directed to statesmen. I, unfortunately, am not a statesman. But you have to ask these guys: where the fuck are you looking? You’re next in line!
Delfi: Could there be, in principle, ethnic conflict in one of these countries?
Suvorov: My mom is Russian, and my father is Ukrainian. My wife Tatiana has the same situation. It’s never been a problem. The question has never even come up between us: are you Russian or Ukrainian? Who cares? But now I want to say that I am a Ukrainian, my wife is a Ukrainian, my children are Ukrainians. I even want my British neighbors to be Ukrainians as well. And even if I was a pure Russian, today I’d have become a Ukrainian, together with my cats.
Question from the audience: They say that in Soviet times there was a definite division between the GRU [military intelligence – Ed.] and KGB [state security service – Ed.]. Figuratively speaking, the KGB – they were the dogs of the regime, and the GRU were the wolves.
Suvorov: You use superb language. There has always been a big difference between the GRU and KGB. And the difference was the fact that, by and large, the GRU’s hands were not stained with the blood of its people. This is not because we are such good people, but because the GRU is intelligence against external enemies. The KGB is a criminal organization, which destroyed Russians, and Poles, and Ukrainians, and Belarusians, and Germans, and Lithuanians, and Estonians. On whomever the contract was put out, they were eliminated. So you’re right. There are dogs, and there are wolves. Another thing is that today, the wolves are not very healthy wolves either. Intelligence is an organ of the state. And if the whole state is rotting, it cannot be a flourishing organ. And if corruption is everywhere from top to bottom, of course, both the GRU and the FSB are rotten.
Delfi: We can all see what Putin is doing. How do you think he evaluates himself? How does he see himself? What role does he think his successors will ascribe to him?
Suvorov: Oh, I don’t know… But look: he went to Australia. A year ago, all the world leaders were kissing him. And now only a koala bear kisses him. Nobody else is kissing him, you know? The guy had clearly gotten drunk on kudos. He won’t play any role, and what he’s doing at the moment – it’s just to save his ass. And the saving of his ass is just to stay in power. I don’t know how to speak diplomatically, but after all he played everything real cool. The same with the oligarchs. A billion would be enough for me, and for you too… But there are other calculations there. There are ten billion, and a year ago there were thirty. How can they go on living with this? And they are all very well-to-do. Before, they traveled abroad, and now, if they go abroad at any time, they’ll take it in the ass… Even if they don’t take it in the ass, will something be messing around with them from the bottom? It will mess around!
Delfi: Well, we talked about Putin’s opponents. Let’s talk about his friends. Here’s Lukashenko: trying to maneuver, play on contradictions, even portray himself as a peacemaker, but if you look at his actual steps, he is a loyal ally of Putin. Belarus supported the Russian aggression at the UN, and Russian bases are located on the territory of Belarus. Militarily, the integration of Belarus and Russia is almost complete. What happens in the event of a large-scale war between Russia and Ukraine?
Suvorov: Of course, you’d best pose this question to Lukashenko yourself. And of course, most likely, he will not tell the truth. But he could be next in line. Here’s the thing. And the people of Belarus understand this, and Lukashenko understands that the people understand… In general, I do not presume to make a prediction.
Delfi: Forced to go to school in the Soviet Union, we – and especially you – were taught that Hitler attacked an absolutely peaceful country where people were engaged in creative work, just like all the world, and even the military airfields at the borders were peacefully sleeping. But if we look at what in fact happened, we see an absolutely militarized country where millions of people were in the army, tens of millions were in paramilitary organizations, girls didn’t want to meet guys with no GTO [‘Prepared for Labor and Defense’ – Ed.] insignia, and cinema and songs were appropriately oriented. Say, if today Putin strangles rebellious Ukraine, will the next generation of people again tell myths about peaceful Russia, which was attacked by treacherous Ukraine and “Gayrope” [a conjunction of the words ‘gay’ and ‘Europe’ used by Russians to denote contempt for the gay rights culture in Europe – Ed.]?
Suvorov: It’s already happening. There is nothing to add or subtract. And I’m very ashamed for my people, who believe in that stuff. I never thought, never believed that the stultification could be so deep… I just didn’t believe it! But when I talk to people whom I very recently respected, I feel a little uneasy about what’s going on. Devil knows what!
But about the suffocation of Ukraine… he didn’t strangle Ukraine for one very good reason. The reason is that the people of Ukraine woke up. That’s important. After all, how was it before? Sitting there was any old provisional Yanukovych-gokovich. In making decisions, he’s thinking: what will Putin think? What will the oligarchs think? Now, whoever is elected president of Ukraine, even the latest villain, he will think – will be forced to think – about what the people will think. He will be afraid of the people. And this is called democracy. Therefore no one will conquer Ukraine.
But as for the mythologizing of events, it is ongoing, it works, and in this generation, probably, it will be incurable. In Ukraine, one girl wrote the poem, “We will never be brothers.” It is very painful to admit, but for the next two or three hundred years, I’m a skeptic, a cynic and a pessimist. For the next two or three hundred years, the people of Ukraine will not forget this infamy. After all, what happened? The people of Ukraine threw out the thieves, drove out the thieves. Guys, you have thieves sitting in power – look at them, and why do you rock our boat? But some kind of livestock is being driven, recruited, fighting, killing … No, we will never be brothers, that’s for sure.
20 January 2015
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is going to make an announcement concerning the Russian security services’ involvement in the House of Trade Unions fire in Odessa on 2 May.
SBU Deputy Chairman Viktor Yagun said this in an interview with Channel 5.
“It was a blatant provocation… the Russian security services were behind it. This applies to the incendiary materials. Those (substances) that caused the poisoning of people… That was a provocation prepared in advance – no question,” he said.
According to him, the investigation is ongoing, and it is too early to comment on the final results.
In turn, an advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs, “People’s Front” MP Anton Gerashchenko, said that within the framework of the investigation into the tragic events in Odessa, a dozen law enforcement officers had been prosecuted, including the former head of the regional police department, Pyotr Lutsyuk.
A number of suspects are wanted by the police, including Dmitry Fuchedzhi, the former deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Odessa region.
Gerashchenko said that Fuchedzhi was hiding from Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in Moscow (Russia).
As is known, 46 people were killed in the mass riots, and as a result of a fire in the building of the Regional Federation of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2nd.
In the photo: Dmitry Fuchedzhi and Sergei Dolzhenkov (in uniform)
It will be remembered that, only a couple of weeks after the massacre, Sergei Dolzhenkov was implicated in the atrocity by the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The news report at the time cited the father of the suspect, a police general, as having helped Dolzhenkov flee Ukraine to Russia.
21 May 2014
The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) has spoken about the involvement of members of the Rodina (‘Motherland’) party, headed by a former Party of Regions member Igor Markov, in the clashes in Odessa on May 2nd.
According to Stanislav Rechinsky, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the investigation is progressing rapidly. Every day there are new offers of assistance, and new detentions and arrests occur, stated the publication “Censor.net,” referring to the press service of the MVD.
“Taking into account the statements of the UDAR party on provocations against its candidate for mayor of the city of Odessa, once again I want to underline the positions of the MVD on investigating the events in Odessa on May 2nd, which led to many casualties,” said Rechinsky, adding that the mass riots in Odessa were organized and deliberately planned.
During search operations, police officers detained and then arrested Sergei Dolzhenkov, nicknamed “Captain Cocoa.” Now the investigation has already established that this citizen was involved in organizing the Odessa tragedy.
It was also discovered that the father of Sergei Dolzhenkov, the former rector of the police academy and a police general, tried to organize the escape of his son from the country. To do this, they even solicited a make-up artist to change his appearance.
In addition, in the House of Trade Unions a gun was found that he had received while still a police officer. So they tried to pretend that he was also killed in the fire.
“The investigating authorities questioned Sergei Dolzhenkov’s brother, who is one of the leaders of the election campaign headquarters of the candidate for mayor of Odessa from the UDAR party. At the present time, no investigative action has been launched against Oleg Dolzhenkov,” said the adviser to the Minister.
In addition, investigators researching the case have already found that members of the city council were implicated in the organization of mass disorder. In particular, Rodina party members Sergei Bovbalan and Yevgeni Chaikin. In the near future they will be suspects in a crime, after which both will be declared wanted.
“Thus, there is enough evidence in the investigation of the involvement of certain political forces in organizing the events in Odessa on May 2nd,” said Rechinsky.
Previously it was also reported that in the Odessa House of Trade Unions, dozens of people died of chloroform poisoning.
19 January 2015
Vladimir Putin and his colleagues have consistently refused to admit to any active belligerence on the part of regular Russian military personnel in Ukraine. The separatist rebels have, if the Russian leadership is to be believed, fought off the Ukrainian army all by themselves. State-controlled Russian media continue to toe the Kremlin line to justify the insurgency in eastern Ukraine, and – for the most part – the Russian public is still eating it up. But the Internet is having an impact. Bloggers publish materials freely, and even an attempt by the Russian regime to collar the Internet would likely fail to completely block Russian hackers from reading what they wanted.
Last weekend – 16-18 January – a renewed Ukrainian offensive resulted in the retaking of Donetsk Airport, which the rebels had reportedly briefly seized. Ukraine re-mobilized in the face of continued Russian reticence and intransigence over peace talks, and the resulting offensive was apparently a success for Kyiv. Russia itself, meanwhile, may have lost many troops, at least if Oleg Yarchuk – described alternately as either a “Russian” or “Ukrainian” blogger – is to be believed. His blog, “Chronicle of War,” is increasingly cited for statistics in news reports. Similarly, Russian human rights activists – such as the group “Gruz-200” (‘Cargo-200’ – named after the convoy of white-painted trucks sent by Russia to Ukraine last year, supposedly to delivery humanitarian aid, but widely suspected to have transported the corpses of Russian soldiers out of Ukraine) – are trying to get information out as well.
The below articles from the Ukrainska Pravda online newspaper cite these activists:
Russian blogger: Russian Federation losses in the Donbas – more than ten thousand people
Sunday, 18 January 2015 – 17:36
As of January 17, the losses of the Russian Federation in the conflict in the Don Basin are estimated at 5,533 dead and 2,514 wounded, with 2,823 people unaccounted for.
This is according to the reports of Russian blogger Oleg Yarchuk.
According to him, on January 16-18, Russian troops lost dozens of soldiers, mostly in the district of Donetsk and the airport. Russian troops also suffered losses near Lugansk, Dokuchaevsk, Trehizbenki, Mariupol.
In particular, in his reports Yarchuk indicates military units that have suffered loss and the place of their initial deployment – from Kostroma, Maikop, Narofominsk, GRU (military intelligence) brigades of the Russian Federation, and Russian airborne assault division forces.
In many cases, losses of personnel after fighting in the Donbas have been “refined,” or “personnel were not found” after clashes. Cases of desertion are also reported.
Vasilieva: In three days in the Donbas, 382 soldiers of the Russian Federation were killed – in total nearly 6,000
Monday, 19 January 2015 – 14:23
Over the past three days of intense fighting in the Donbas, the Russian army has lost 382 soldiers, and about 500 are wounded. The total number of Russian soldiers that have died in Ukraine since the beginning of the war has increased to 5,860.
A Russian human rights activist, Yelena Vasilieva, who is investigating the participation of Russian troops in the war in the Donbas, reported on this on her website after returning from the Donbas.
“I’m afraid to write these figures. Over the past three days, the Russian army has suffered huge losses – 382 spetsnaz (special forces), marines and airborne troops. The number wounded is up to 500 people. Apparently there are significantly more wounded, but the Russian side does not give us full access to information on the wounded,” she said.
Vasilieva also noted that she has completely confirmed information on the fact that the Russian side has ceased to collect and sort body parts from the battlefield.
“In the morgue in Donetsk, remains were brought unceremoniously, frozen limbs were warmed, straightened, and immediately shrink-wrapped in cellophane, packed with wrapping tape, loaded into humanitarian convoy trucks and sent to Russia. I repeat, these were only whole bodies,” she wrote.
“All the so-called ‘puzzles’ are not bothered with, but dumped into a common bag and disposed of. For this purpose they use any available means: pour diesel fuel over them and burn them up, throw them into the nearest mineshaft, chuck them into a mobile crematorium,” said the human rights activist.
But there is no talk about any DNA extractions, she said.
According to Vasilieva, the number of those missing without explanation is getting bigger.
“A week ago I announced the figures for the number killed: up to 5,860 missing from the Russian side. Last week added 382 to our known figures. Total losses on the Russian side: 6,242 – only confirmed losses,” said “Gruz-200” group founder Vasilieva.
17 January 2015
The outflow of capital from Russia in 2014 set a record for the past 20 years – the entire period that the Central Bank of Russia has published statistics.
This was reported by Censor.net, citing Deutsche Welle.
“According to preliminary estimates of the regulator, $151.5 billion was removed from Russia last year. This is in fact two and a half times as much as was removed a year earlier ($61 billion). Experts believe the main reason for the outflow of capital is Western sanctions, which closed international financial markets to Russian companies and created a shortage of currency,” the statement said.
Recall that the previous record was set during the 2008 crisis, when capital outflow from Russia reached $133.6 billion.
15 January 2015
The European Parliament supports the initiative to deprive Russia of the right to host the finals of the World Cup in 2018 because of the aggression against Ukraine.
This is stated in the draft resolution prepared by the “Green” political group in the European Parliament.
“The European Parliament considers that FIFA should suspend preparations for World Cup 2018 to be held in Russia as long as the aggression against Ukraine continues,” says the project document.
The “Green” faction also welcomed the decision of UEFA on prohibiting both Crimean clubs’ participation – from 1 January 2015 – in tournaments under the auspices of the Football Federation of the Russian Federation, and the organization of football matches in Crimea without the consent of both UEFA and the Football Federation of Ukraine.
15 January 2015
Russia may begin full-scale war against Ukraine.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary Oleksander Turchynov said this during a speech in parliament.
According to him, there are several scenarios for the situation in the east of Ukraine.
In particular, Turchynov did not rule out a full-scale offensive of the Russian army on the territory of Ukraine.
“There are two basic scenarios. The first is the restoration of large-scale enemy hostilities and an attack with the active participation of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, which may result in a full-scale continental war,” said Turchynov.
Another scenario, noted Turchynov, would be an attempt at mobilizing Russian terrorist activities on the territory of Ukraine and to turn this into a protracted conflict.
“Russian aggression continues,” said Turchynov.
He said that over the last day the rebels in the ATO area had set a record for the number of attacks on positions of the Ukrainian military since the beginning of the year: they fired 129 times, killing 2 soldiers and injuring 4.
“Russian terrorist groups have defiantly demonstrated a complete disregard of the ceasefire. They kill not only the military,” said Turchynov, recalling the tragedy at Volnovaha.
The NSDC Secretary stressed that in the occupied part of the Don Basin are 36,000 terrorists, among them the 8,000 regular army operatives of the Russian Federation. At their disposal are 542 tanks, 990 armored combat vehicles, 694 units of artillery systems, 4 units of “Tochka-U” missile systems, and up to 57 anti-aircraft missile units.
He also said that along the border with Ukraine are around 52,000 Russian soldiers in full battle readiness with significant offensive potential, more than 300 tanks, 1,800 armored combat vehicles and 360 combat aircraft and attack helicopters.
15 January 2015
After the Maidan Revolution in February 2014 overthrew the pro-Russian regime in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly spoke of “Novorossiya” (or ‘Novorossia’) to refer to a Russian imperialist-expansionist project that would carve away large portions of Ukraine by force, starting with the annexation of Crimea, which occurred in March. “Novorossiya” translates as something close to “New Russia” or “Neo-Russia,” and was a term used by Russians from the 18th to 19th centuries to denote an area north of the Black Sea, which Russia seized as a result of wars with the Ottoman Empire, and which extinguished the Cossack Hetmanate and the Zaporizhian Sich. It also encompassed much of the Black Sea littoral regions of Ukraine, such as Zaporizhia and the Tatar areas of the Crimea. Russia held control over these areas until the collapse of the empire in 1917, when they became part of an independent Ukraine again. Putin’s public announcement of Novorossiya was very alarming to the rest of the world, since it signified that the government of a European country was resorting to the methods of “old empire” to assert itself on the world stage and restore its country’s former imperial glory. The fomenting of separatist war in eastern Ukraine can be properly interpreted as a manifestation of this policy. Former US President George W. Bush has recounted how Putin described Ukraine in a one-on-one conversation as “not a real country.” By extension, it can be reasonably assumed that the Russian strongman views other countries the same way.
The Novorossiya policy – or “project” – is not often articulated in international media. Although reified by Putin in a dangerous foreign policy initiative, it is the stuff of folk legend, for the most part, and thus confined largely (probably) to internal Russian media. One imagines jingoistic Russian nationalist intellectuals excitedly chatting about it over cigarettes and alcohol in the bars and cafes of Russian cities, in the same breath with curses against Ukraine as an independent state with pro-Western inclinations. But Novorossiya is a very real evil for the world, and it confronts the West in particular with a very nasty dilemma. The alteration of European borders attendant to the annexation of Crimea leaves many in the West wondering to what extent their governments are prepared to distance themselves from modern-day Russia given their energy dependence and trade relations.
It has been speculated by prominent observers of Ukraine, including George Soros, that Russia needed to act quickly to establish Novorossiya before winter temperatures made it impractical. As it is now January, the window of opportunity for the quick seizure of the necessary territory (visible in pink in the map below) may have closed. But the following analysis (perhaps intended as dark satire, and posted under the title “I Love the Motherland – Project ‘Novorossiya,’ Phase 2”) explains that it is not only the weather that makes a quick Russian blitzkrieg to capture Novorossiya imperative. It is the fact that sanctions, the falling price of oil, and the high cost of maintaining annexed Crimea make it a case of “nothing left to lose” for the Russian people. They are already going to face tremendous hardship as the cost of the Ukrainian adventure over coming years, so why not go all the way and seize Russia’s historical destiny? It makes for chilling reading…
(From the Journal of a Patriot)
Warning: Hysterical hypocrites are not advised to read this post, because it will be full of harsh, cruel truth.
Friends! The whole Ukrainian topic has worn us all out, to the extent that many of you simply failed to even notice the breakdown of negotiations in Astana, or didn’t attach due significance to the fact. Meanwhile, it is a turning point. Koya clearly indicates that a certain stage of stabilization (in the “Junta-Novorossiya” issue) is complete, and a new phase in the utilization of the successful “Novorossiya” project is beginning. For the purposes of the “Novorossiya”, click here:
And so! To begin with: the Big Picture.
Despite the cheerfully soothing statements of Russian leaders and the cheering of brainless jingoists, we have found ourselves in a very nasty situation:
You can, of course, ignore the harsh reality and “stay cool,” telling yourself that everything is fine. But, to be honest, there os nothing wonderful happening. Sectoral sanctions are having a destructive effect on our economy, and their negative effect is not momentary, but gradual, inexorably cumulative – a typical “domino effect.” We cannot wait for the sanctions to be lifted. The meter is running.
2. The fall in the price of oil:
One can puff oneself up and shout from the rooftops that the share of income to our budget from “The World’s Gas Station” is no more than 18% – that we have a “cushion” from the stabilization fund, and that the super-experts predict $120 for oil tomorrow – so nothing threatens us. But it helps to be realistic: we need to forget about an increase in the price of oil. One has to realize that the stabilization fund will be spent in a matter of 3 months. Even if the fall in the price of oil were to stop at today’s point of $45, we would already need to seriously sequester the budget and take very unpopular measures, and this will be done, you can be sure. We need to understand that the Russian economic situation will deteriorate quickly enough in the foreseeable future, and together with this the standard of living will fall rapidly for each of us. The meter is running.
The heavy (for our economy even in the best of times!) weight of Krymnash [‘Crimea Is Ours’ – the Russian movement for the annexation of Crimea – Ed.] hanging from our neck is pulling us to the bottom, and the stronger it pulls, the weaker (under the influence of paragraphs 1 and 2) our economy becomes. The actual blockade of Crimea by Ukraine is forcing us to spend more and more resources to sustain the life of the Krymnash peninsula today. It is a devastatingly huge Russian budgetary pump, and the situation will only worsen. The meter is running.
4. A catastrophe is not foreseen:
Despite the lousy trend, no disaster will occur under any scenario. But very hard times await us ordinary citizens of Russia. This is permanent, without a meter.
What is to be done?
At the current political moment, there is only one option to improve our situation: sticking the stake of “Novorossiya” into the rotten heart of Ukraine, to shake the rotten, worm-eaten mama’s body so that all of Europe is showered with maggots and chunks of rottenness!
Putin is a master at inventing “asymmetrical moves” and pulling trump cards from his sleeves, but in this situation there is no choice: it is imperative – as long as we have time for it (the counter is ticking!), strength and enthusiasm – to move the situation to a new level, to force open a “land corridor” to Krymnash.
The logic is simple. The money runs out, the forces melt, and time expires, so you need to do today what there may simply not be enough strength or money for tomorrow. The corridors need to be punched through NOW! There is nothing that the new-bad “civilized West” can do to us, but in terms of strategy and operations, the “land corridor” completely deprives Ukraine of the potential for the strangulation of Crimea. This operation will be far less costly than a bridge over the Kerch Straits, new communications, solving problems with water, electricity, etc. So, much to the chagrin of the “catastrophists” and “putin-uniters,” in the near future Russia will launch the “Novorossiya – Phase 2” project.
Preparations for “Phase 2” of “Novorossiya” are complete:
- In fact, the large, autonomous, contumacious (or partially-subordinate) gang of militias – which was disarmed, and which voluntarily recognized a single command structure – has been stripped to the core. The most frostbitten are physically destroyed.
- There is a substantial force of professionals (holidaymakers), as well as local militias who have received past qualitative military training – those who are willing not only to protect your land, but also to strip Kiev! All these are perfectly equipped, well motivated (including materially), have received combat training, and are clearly ready to perform combat tasks.
- The “north wind” has blown a huge amount of new military hardware, including heavy equipment, into the rebuilding of our best arsenal of weaponry.
- The airspace over the whole of “Novorossiya” has actually been declared a “no-fly zone” – it is completely controlled from the territory of Russia by an air defense system (S-300, Pantsir-S, etc.), and any military aircraft or helicopter of the Ukrainian armed forces that appears over “Novorossiya” will be immediately destroyed.
- Stocks of food for the “Novorossiya” armed forces have been collected and stored, and the logistics for supply of the “Novorossiya” troops during the fighting have been worked out.
- The morale of the “Novorossiya” armed forces is unusually strong, and they crave the trampling of the Ukrainian armed forces into the frozen ground.
How it will happen:
The increase in the number and intensity of violations of the “Minsk Agreements” is gradually transforming into a resumption of full-scale war, as a result of which the Ukrainian armed forces will be defeated again, this time with the loss of Mariupol, Berdyansk, Primorsk, Melitopol and Kherson. Thus, with the arms of “Novorossiya,” Russia will create the “land corridor” to Crimea, and the “Novorossiya” insurgency will control the Lugansk and Donetsk regions within their administrative borders.
Simultaneously with the outbreak of hostilities, numerous groups of saboteurs, agents and tajiks will provide total chaos and destabilization at the rear of the junta – organizing “minimaidans,” sabotage, and disabling of economic life support systems. That, along with the new news of tens of thousands killed at the front, will quickly lead to the complete destruction and death of Ukraine as a state.
This part of the operation is necessary in order to give the people of Ukraine something to do other than worry about having their coastal territory taken away from them. And, of course, it is necessary to fully tear the sting out of the hohlo-fascists [‘hohlo’ is a Russian derogatory word for a Ukrainian – Ed.] and thoroughly stamp out the thought of “war” with the hosts from their minds forever.
Yes, it is understandable that we would do well to seize all of Ukraine (except the western regions), but “politics is the art of the possible,” and we just cannot pull it off economically. So we will concern ourselves with “Novorossiya – Beta Version.”
What will happen to the debris of Ukraine, cast into a hell of humanitarian catastrophe, is a topic for another post.
The Dark One [Putin has acquired this nickname among Russians, although it is not clear how. – Ed.] has prepared such an “asymmetric response” for our western friends and partners. That’s the kind of gift we’ll all receive, Patriots of Russia! Command us, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin – Ed.]! It’s time to break their meters!
P.S. Again, to the hysterical hypocrites: do not whine about the “many victims and cruelty.” Yes, geopolitics is a brutal, bloody thing, and its machinery requires constant lubrication with blood and intestines. It was not we who conceived of this idea.
P.P.S. Add this to friends’ pages, repost, recommend, and more!
GLORY TO RUSSIA!!!
14 January 2015
As reported by users of social networks, the incident occurred last night. News of “Novorossiya” says that, as a result of a quarrel, a shootout developed and a paratroop officer of the Russian Federation army was killed, reports Joinfo.ua, quoted by Ukrainianwall.com news.
The details of the incident are not reported. But, as can be seen from the message, most likely it was one of those fighters who – as we reported – was a career police officer from Chechnya.
Additionally, the network has a video on how the Chechens were dancing the “Lezginka” [the traditional male dance of the Caucasus region – Ed.] in Donetsk before storming the airport and promising to continue on to Lviv.
According to the users of social networks, none of the dancers were left alive the moment after storming the airport.
Here is the video of the Chechens dancing shortly before their deaths:
12 January 2015
In the wake of the Maidan Revolution that overthrew Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, and which claimed some 100 lives at the hands of police snipers in central Kyiv, a series of lethal episodes ensued that further shocked the world. One was the shooting down in June of a Ukrainian cargo plane, killing all 49 people on board, in the skies above the separatist “Lugansk People’s Republic.” Another was the infamous shooting down in July of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 (Flight MH17), killing all 298 people on board. But before these two events was the Odessa massacre in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa on 2 May 2014, where clashes erupted in the city center between pro-Ukrainian forces and those favoring unification with Russia.
The occasion was a match between the football teams of Odessa (Chornomorets) and Kharkiv (Metalist), and despite enjoying a fierce rivalry in the Ukrainian soccer league, the fans from the respective teams decided to hold a joint march to show unity and solidarity with the forces of Ukrainian sovereignty and independence from Russia. They were met by an armed mob of pro-Russian activists, and a fight ensued. Despite being armed with clubs, knives and even guns, the pro-Russian belligerents were outnumbered and fled into the Odessa House of Trade Unions. There they were locked in and consumed by a fire that burned the entire building. Over 40 people were killed, and images appeared in the media of a smoke-blackened building and the charred corpses of victims trapped inside.
Russian media immediately portrayed the incident as an example of Ukrainian ultra-nationalist, sadistic fanatics mercilessly murdering Russia-sympathetic locals. The sluggish West – in this case led by the EU – announced that it wanted an investigation into the incident. The Kremlin and its sympathizers pointed the finger at Ukrainian football fans as neo-Nazis and fascists looking to commit lethal violence. But a closer look at the affair reveals several strange features. The charred corpses found inside the House of Trade Unions building were often found sitting or lying in relaxed positions on stairwell landings, suggesting they had not died from incineration, but had perhaps been gassed. Victims were found on the lower floors of a multi-storey building, leading to speculation as to why they had not fled upwards, away from the conflagration.
As more details emerge, it is increasingly clear that the Odessa massacre resembles an operation of the Russian security services, led by the Federal Security Service (FSB) – the successor to the Soviet-era KGB – and the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the intelligence arm of the Russian military. The following analysis alleges that the Odessa massacre was an operation carried out on the orders of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and speculates that he will pay for the crime in a court of international law.
6 January 2015
The slaughterhouse in Odessa was organized by the Russian FSB and GRU on Putin’s orders. The purpose of the special operation was to create the desired image and social background for an armed invasion of Ukraine. The Odessa separatists were used “blindly.” The pro-Russian militants faced the task of provoking mass slaughter with football fans who adopted an active pro-Ukrainian stance in Ukraine. The fighting force of the Russian activists initially consisted of fewer fans, but these people were assured that immediately after the assault reinforcements would arrive, and the police would be on their side. The police were initially on the side of the separatists, but then the situation changed dramatically.
The provocateurs disappeared, and people were lured and locked into the building of the Odessa House of Trade Unions. People did not understand that they were being used simply as cannon fodder for television images, lured into a trap and simply set on fire. Odessans themselves rescued the Russian attackers. If it had not been for the help of ordinary people, there would have been even more victims.
Members of the team of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych financed the operation. Senior police officials of the Odessa region and mid-level police units participated in the organization of the massacre, receiving a cash reward. The people who shot at peaceful Ukrainian demonstrators are already on the territory of Russia. Vladimir Putin did not previously express condolences to Ukraine after the execution of innocent people on the Maidan, but very promptly attended to and offered his condolences to the bereaved families in Odessa.
Today the Ukrainian security services arrested three Russian citizens who participated in the organization of this provocation. There is Yevgeny Igorievich Mefedov, born in 1983, a native of the city of Yoshkar-Ola. According to him, his father works in the Emergency Situations Ministry of the Russian Federation. The other two detainees are Russian citizen Andrei Vladimirovich Krasilnikov, born in 1966 and a resident of the city of Nizhny Novgorod, and Russian citizen Alexander Alexandrovich Zolotashko, born in 1976. According to him, his father is a functionary of the Interior Ministry Security Forces of the Russian Federation who is serving in the Kharp area of Tyumen District and lives in Nizhny Novgorod.
In the opinion of expert Irina Tikhomirova: it is quite obvious that the corpses in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa were the handiwork of the GRU. This was done to escalate tensions and possibilities for manipulating the consciousness of the broad popular herd. The fire (in the confusion it was impossible to establish who lit the fire) appeared on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The House of Trade Unions is a multistory building. The people inside the burning building could have ascended to the upper floors and survived until the fire had been put out, and they had been rescued by the firefighters. Or they could have jumped out of a window on one of the lower floors, where out of altruism and better judgment their “ideological opponents” would have caught and saved them.
But (for some reason???) all died sacrificially, preferring to wait for death on the lower floors. And, I am pointing out to the dupes and forensic experts – among the dead was not one corpse in the “boxer pose” typical for a fire (hands and feet even indicative of charred victims in the unbent position). Some victims are passively sitting or lying on the stairs, not even trying to get out of the fire. It is unlikely that traces of “control in the head” will be found in the corpses of the victims (this is too sloppy for the GRU). I would have asked forensic chemists and biochemists: What kind of GAS (nerve) led to the death of the already passive victims? Excursion into history (for a hint): “Nord-Ost,” “Lame Horse.” The GRU leaves no witnesses.
Putin and his team are rushing at cruising speed to an international tribunal. And the Odessa episode will be one of the biggest along with Beslan, Nord Ost, the apartment bombings in Moscow, the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and other crimes of Putin. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to hold the trial in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol.
10 January 2015
Dolgov announces referendum on creation of “Kharkov People’s Republic”
One of the ideologists of “Novorossiya” is counting on help from the head of the “Central Election Commission” (CEC) of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR), Roman Lyagin, in creating another “people’s republic.”
That the appropriate plebiscite will be held, Konstantin Dolgov has no doubt. The activist is convinced it is only a matter of time.
“Not if, but when: when we go back to Kharkov, DNR CEC Chief Roman Lyagin is going to help us hold the referendum!” Dolgov wrote on his Twitter account.
We remind readers that Konstantin Dolgov is a Ukrainian political scientist and journalist, known as an ardent supporter of Novorosssiya, and co-chairman of the Kharkiv movement “People’s Front for Novorossiya.” He actively cooperates with the breakaway republics of the Donbas and supports the establishment of a “Kharkov People’s Republic” in place of Kharkiv region.
9 January 2015
Probably few people have ever engendered as much resentment among Ukrainians as the Russian insurgent Igor Girkin (nom de guerre ‘Strelkov’), who – early in 2014 – became the poster boy for the separatists in the war in Ukraine. Girkin has fought in several conflicts in areas beset by separatism, not just in the former Soviet Union (Moldova, Chechnya), but also in Bosnia on the side of the Bosnian Serb Republic, when he would have been in his early twenties. The Russian human rights organization ‘Memorial’ alleges that Girkin was involved in atrocities in a village in Chechnya during the second Russo-Chechen War. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes he summarily executed prisoners in Ukraine in 2014.
Girkin claims he is a retired functionary of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and there is credible evidence to support this. But the EU and Ukrainian government have identified Girkin as a retired colonel of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the intelligence agency of the Russian military. Whatever the truth, Girkin is a Russian citizen from Moscow who came to Ukraine to take part in military campaigns in furtherance of Putin’s imperial “Novorossiya” (New Russia) project, to carve away large swathes of Ukraine by force and attach them to the Russian Federation. Girkin started his Ukrainian adventure in Crimea, the annexation of which is regarded by many cheerleaders of Russo-Soviet revanchism as a success for the speed and bloodlessness with which it occurred. He then moved on to the Donbas to continue his violent activities.
Very likely, Girkin is primarily an eccentric wannabe – a Russian war re-enactment enthusiast who saw a chance to become involved in yet more lethal hostilities in Ukraine, and to pursue his strange and violent dream of Russian imperial glory. Russian ex-First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov describes Girkin as a “complete marginal” and a “freak.” In fact, when examined in light of his professed ideology, Girkin is rather a sad figure. While he has claimed to be a “monarchist,” and his role model is a White Guard (tsarist) general killed by the Red Army in the Russian Civil War, he views the collapse of the Soviet Union as a tragedy and apparently cited a Soviet law from 1941 as the basis carrying out summary executions in eastern Ukraine in the current war. His ideology is a mishmash of
Russian nationalism, imperialism, monarchism, Russian Orthodoxy, anti-Semitism and Soviet nostalgia. Russia, he believes, is the only country that can save Christianity from liberals and Jews. That he has become an embarrassment to the regime of Vladimir Putin seems obvious, as he now wanders around giving interviews and making statements to the press about how the Russian government is abandoning its fighting volunteers and patriots in Ukraine. He does at least verbally seem to recognize Putin as the “commander in chief” of the Russian armed forces, but having apparently left the “Novorossiya” front indefinitely, he now finds himself something of a rebel without a cause.
In his latest embarrassment for the Kremlin, Girkin tempts fate by calling upon Russia to openly recognize that it is engaged in war in Ukraine – in other words, to admit reality – something the Kremlin has thus far refused to do. Girkin views the war in Ukraine as a “civil war,” in the sense that he does not recognize Ukraine as an independent country, and fighting cannot therefore be taking place between two different countries. Ukraine was part of “one great country” (i.e. the Soviet Union), and all war is now happening “within Russia.”
Following is an article about Strelkov’s latest public statements from today’s Ukrainian press…
9 January 2015
The former head of the Donetsk rebels has urged Russia “not to bury its head in the sand.”
Former Donetsk rebel leader Igor Strelkov (Girkin) told the separatist TV channel ANNANews that Russia is at war with Ukraine.
“We are already at war. We can go bury our heads in the sand, but the country from which volunteers were sent – and volunteers still go to fight, and there is a place where they can fight, where they are given weapons, where they receive ammunition – this is a belligerent country,” said Girkin.
He added that “we are fighting very strangely: we supply the enemy with coal and electricity.”
“But it was exactly the same for us in Bosnia,” said Strelkov.
The former rebel leader said he considers the war to be “civil,” such that it does not separate Ukraine from Russia. “It is my deep understanding that Ukraine was part of a large, great country, and so it has remained, and so the war in Ukraine is really a war in Russia,” said Girkin-Strelkov.
In this case, the presenter noted: “Well, they consider themselves [to be an independent country – Ed.].” However, he said that in Ukraine, when he had been there before the war, “it was good, satisfying, comfortable, home-like.”
Look at the video, as Strelkov refers to the war between Russia and Ukraine:
Source video SobiNewsCom
Igor Girkin, calling himself Strelkov, declared that he is a retired colonel of the Russian FSB. Mass media reported that, at the time of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, he was an active Spetsnaz [special operations – Ed.] officer of the GRU General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
After Strelkov participated in the conflict around Crimea in early 2014, he came to eastern Ukraine and headed the so-called “militia” of Slovyansk. In early July, after a fierce battle for the city, Strelkov moved to Donetsk along with his garrison.
After that, for several months he occupied the post of “Minister of Defense” of the separatist DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic]. In early August, Strelkov was dismissed and left Ukraine.
Earlier, former DNR “Commander in Chief” Igor Strelkov admitted that after the liberation of Slovyansk, so-called “vacationers” (i.e. professional Russian military) helped to hold Donetsk. Also, he said, “vacationers” led the offensive in the direction of Mariupol.
8 January 2015
Industry of occupied Sevastopol has fallen 80%
In Sevastopol, industrial production has declined by 80% over the past year.
The illegitimate governor of Sevastopol, Sergei Menyailo, told this to “News of Crimea.”
He clarified that the fall in agricultural production was 50%, and the decline of construction – 50%. “In the mining industry and quarry development, the decline has reached 86.5%,” added Menyailo.
According to him, the reported decline in economic performance is objective, but “all the conditions” for achieving previous levels of production have been established.
He also said that this year, implementation of several projects in the field of capital construction has been planned. This includes construction of a children’s hospital with prenatal center and installation of gas turbine power plants at ten sites.
8 January 2015
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Russian involvement in Ukraine is the quality that the Russian leadership has displayed of insisting on its country’s non-involvement in the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. From a Western perspective, this is particularly unsettling because it almost seems sometimes as if Putin and his government really believe the untruths they publicly promulgate. Satellite imagery, videotaped interrogations of captured Russian conscripts, intercepted telephone conversations between separatist rebels and Russian regular army commanders – all of this is simply swept aside by Putin and his colleagues in the Kremlin. Yet the imperative of feigning innocence on the part of the Russian regime becomes clearer when one ponders a particular aspect of the war in Ukraine, namely, the deaths of Russian soldiers. Reports have leaked out from observers inside Russia of secret burial ceremonies for Russian troops, the deaths of whom have not been officially explained. If the Russian leadership is giving bogus explanations to the mothers of dead Russian troops, the question arises: how long will the mothers believe the official line? Do their love and admiration for their president outweigh that for their fallen sons? Westerners need to think about the nature of secret military funerals, and then remember the images of flag-draped coffins coming off aircraft bearing home the bodies of troops killed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Western press and media may leave much to be desired, but they are granted access to these horrible events. In Russia, it seems, no such access is available. As such, as this article from the English-language Moscow Times explains, activist groups such as Gruz-200 and Memorial have to piece together evidence to explain deaths and disappearances, probably at significant risk to their lives and wellbeing…
Activist website Open Russia has published a map detailing the birthplaces of all Russian soldiers believed to have died fighting in Ukraine in 2014, with the largest group reported to have come from Moscow.
The report is based on a list of names released in November by the Gruz-200 group, a pro-Ukrainian grassroots organization that used publicly available information to determine the number and identities of 227 men believed to have died fighting in Ukraine in 2014.
The information relies on media reports and interviews with relatives of the deceased. Open Russia issued a disclaimer saying there was no way to verify whether all information obtained from Gruz-200 was accurate, but that Open Russia had conducted its own checks of the information offered.
Information on the deaths of Russian soldiers believed to have died in Ukraine has come largely from activists and opposition-minded journalists, while Russia’s Defense Ministry has maintained that no Russian soldiers were sent to Ukraine.
Many journalists and Western leaders have maintained that there is ample evidence of Russia’s direct involvement in the conflict.
The report published by Open Russia on Tuesday claimed that 15 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine last year came from Moscow, 10 from recently annexed Crimea, 11 from the restive North Caucasus republic of Dagestan and nine from St. Petersburg.
Another nine were said to have come from the Rostov region, which is close to the border with Ukraine. The southern Krasnodar region just east of Crimea reportedly lost nine soldiers.
Chechnya also appeared on the list, with seven Russian troops reported to have died in Ukraine last year having come from the predominantly Muslim republic, the leader of which has expressed support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In a separate report, Open Russia is compiling detailed information on each of the soldiers reported to have died in the line of duty. A statement on the website says all of the information has been verified as best as it can be.
“In each case, we search for confirmation, try to determine the time and location of death and the most trustworthy sources,” the statement said.
An initiative among activists and journalists to prove that Russian soldiers were sent to Ukraine kicked into high gear in mid-November, when 12 Russian paratroopers were buried in the Pskov region, their cause of death unknown.
Speculation ran rampant that the men had died fighting alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine, although Russia’s Defense Ministry denied this and refused to disclose information on their cause of death.
The soldiers’ grave markers were removed after journalists began asking questions, and an attack on several journalists who went to Pskov to research the soldiers’ deaths fueled further speculation of a cover-up.
6 January 2015
New interception by SBU: Rebel Dryomov reports to general of Russian Federation
Dryomov’s report to Kuzovlyov on video from 2:37 (first part of the interception published on 31 December 2014)
The SBU has published a new interception of conversations between rebels. Promulgated on record (from 2:37), the commander of the Cossack group of terrorists of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) Pavel Dryomov in a telephone conversation with Major General of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Sergei Kuzovlyov (callsigns: Tambov, Ignatov) reports on the number of personnel in illegal formation.
“Sergei Yurievich, I am reporting on staff. The total number at the moment: 1,176 – 35 of them civilians. This is without “dead souls” – those who are in there. I verified this myself, everything is complete… everything is ready, we can even arrange the construction of the regiment completely, if necessary,” said Dryomov to his Russian curator.
Kuzovlyov told him that he would be with him “to check, look and consider everything.”
In the following video, not only can the above statements be heard from 2:37 onwards, but in the section prior to that, the same Cossack leader (Pavel Dryomov) can be heard boasting of a guarantee of supplies of heavy military hardware (tanks, artillery cannons, etc.) “from Moscow,” and also that he has the telephone number of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev…
6 January 2015
With his reportedly sky-high domestic popularity ratings, Putin often seems to be a credible “tsar for life.” However painful economic sanctions may be, ordinary Russians (supposedly) support him overwhelmingly as a champion of their interests. This situation may be depressing in the West, but it is doubly so in Ukraine, where the situation is so desperate that it seems only regime change in Moscow could deliver the Ukrainians from the tragedies of war, unemployment, inflation and energy shortages. But amid all the gloom, one American observer of the former Soviet Union, Mark Galeotti, has outlined a very realistic scenario whereby Putin could fall from power very rapidly indeed. In an interview with Amanda Taub for Vox.com, Galeotti analogizes Putin’s situation with that of Khrushchev 50 years ago, Galeotti points out how elites can change their views – and allegiances – very suddenly…
How Putin could lose power
Tuesday, 6 January 2015 (Updated by Amanda Taub on January 5, 2015, 10:20 a.m. ET)
After more than a decade in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing what may be his most turbulent and difficult year in office. His economy is crumbling under the global collapse in gas prices; US and European economic sanctions are punishing his inner circle and most powerful state institutions; his military is occupying Crimea and still fighting in eastern Ukraine. Just before New Year’s, thousands gathered in Moscow to protest the politically tinged conviction of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who announced from the courthouse, “This regime has no right to exist.”
Putin’s rule has been secure since he took office in 2000. At some point, though, his problems will become severe enough that the stability of his hold on power will become a live question.
I spoke about Putin’s hold on office with Mark Galeotti, a professor at NYU’s Center For Global Affairs who has been studying Russian politics for decades. The real question for Putin, he explained, is the loyalty of a few key groups keeping him in power — and what might cause those groups to abandon him. He also explained why he thinks that 2016 might be the year that Putin’s regime finally starts to crumble.
Amanda Taub: You’ve previously described Putin’s power in Russia as “stable but brittle,” meaning that it’s currently strong but would have little resiliency in the face of major economic shocks or other crises. What type of shock would be likely to pose a threat to Putin?
Mark Galleotti: It’s always going to be the unexpected shock, so to that extent it’s going to be unpredictable.
But let’s say that there’s a bank collapse that can’t be bailed out, or something like a health scare. Life tends to throw these kinds of events at all political systems, so it’s really about the resilience that they’ve managed to build up. My particular concern would be that they are burning away the political and social and economic capital which gives them that resilience.
AT: How might that kind of crisis cause Putin to lose power? What does the process look like?
MG: It would be a sense among the elites that he was no longer an asset, but a danger.
The best parallel would be the ouster of [Soviet Premier Nikita] Khrushchev in the Soviet era [in 1964]. He came to power on the basis of an elite consensus that he could run the country in their interests, but then he became increasingly erratic. He got the Soviet Union involved in the Cuban missile crisis, and made a whole bunch of bad decisions that impacted the Soviet economy.
So, the elite decided this guy was not what they were looking for — and he had to go. They basically said to Khrushchev “you’re stepping down for reasons of your health,” and there was nothing he could do about it.
2016 IS GOING TO BE THE CRUNCH YEAR
That, I think is the most likely circumstance for Putin’s departure. It’s not that he’ll lose an election, it’s that a bunch of men in gray suits are going to file into his office and say “Vladimir Vladimirovich, it’s time for you to do your last service to the state, and that’s to retire.”
Or he may be off at his dacha and see on the television that he’s just stepped down for reasons of ill health. And he’ll pick up his red phone, and find that the people answering it will no longer take orders from him.
AT: Do you think that will be triggered by a specific event?
MG: It’s often been the random chances that shape this.
One of the key things that led to Khrushchev’s ousting was riots that took place in a town called Novocherkassk. It was a backwater, not at all a significant place. But by bad luck, on the same day they announced an increase in food prices, they also announced a cut in wages at the massive local factory where most people worked. That led to street protests. The police refused to disperse them. And eventually the army was called out, and some of the army officers refused to fire on the protesters. In due course they had to send in security troops, who had no qualms and there was a massacre.
Nobody heard about Novocherkassk, but the elites knew. And they were thinking “Novocherkassk was nowhere special. If it could happen there, bad luck could mean it could happen anywhere.” When elites feel that pressures are beginning to build up, they will feel that they need to act to forestall the random events that could lead to a real crisis.
AT: Are there any events on the horizon that you think would prompt that kind of crisis?
MG: For me, 2016 is going to be the crunch year.
We’re going to see at least a couple of bad economic years. Inflation has just been announced at 11 percent at the end of this year, and it’s going to get worse. But it’s going to take some time for that to work through the system, for people to notice how much they can’t afford anymore. So reason number one is just time.
Reason number two is that in 2016 there are elections for the Russian parliament, the Duma. Clearly the Kremlin is going to massage the results, so the pro-Kremlin parties are all going to do well, there’s no question about that. But nonetheless there’s the real polling data that the elites will see. And if Putin’s numbers are down, that will be a good objective piece of information to say that things are going badly.
THEY’VE MOVED FROM “I BELIEVE IN PUTIN IMPLICITLY,” TO “AT THE MOMENT, PUTIN’S IN MY INTERESTS”
And in 2018 there are presidential elections. If they’re going to stand some new candidate, they need at least two years in order to identify a candidate and build a myth around them in order to win the election.
Obviously, who knows what’s going to happen? But for all those reasons, if I had to predict a time when I could see all those things aligning, late 2016 is going to be a particularly interesting time in Russian politics.
AT: Are there key constituencies that Putin has already lost?
MG: The cultural elite, mainly. But let’s face it, poets do not actually create revolutions.
But I also have noticed a change when I speak to people who I would definitely think of as being in the Putinist wing, such as those who are in the security apparatus, or from the military.
A few years back, they were really convinced Putinists. It was an emotional thing. They believed that this was a guy who had saved Russia. Now, I think they tend to be pragmatic Putinists. They know that their interests are being served.
But that’s the point: they’ve moved from “I believe in Putin implicitly,” to “at the moment, Putin’s in my interests.”
That’s the key constituency that Putin has lost: the heart, so to speak.
AT: What is the significance of the pro-democracy movement that has arisen in recent years?
MG: It is important, but not in the sense that it’s going to bring Putin down. It’s important in the sense that it demonstrates that there are people willing to protest, and it provides some sense of an alternative.
It’s also important because of the people who are protesting. They are, on the whole, the Muscovite urban middle class, which is a very small fraction of society. But on the other hand, it’s disproportionately important in some ways, because these people disproportionately are the kids of bureaucrats and officials, or their kids’ fellow students at university.
That’s one of the reasons why we haven’t seen the police be more brutal in their crackdown: who wants to release the riot cops to crack skulls if actually that might be your next-door neighbor’s kid whose skull gets cracked? This is a very small social world that we’re talking about.
IF NAVALNY REACHES OUT AND BUILDS SOMETHING WIDER, THEN THAT COULD BECOME DANGEROUS
AT: What about Alexei Navalny? Is he a threat to Putin? (Read here about Navalny and why the opposition leader seems to worry Putin so much.)
MG: So far Navalny has failed to move out of his comfort zone. When he was riding high in the earlier protest movement, he really did stick to talking to his middle-class Muscovites and his big city constituency. He’s much more comfortable pointing things out than building a boring old political machine.
But that’s not to say he won’t change. If Navalny reaches out and builds something wider, then that could become dangerous.
Beyond anti-corruption, Navalny has one more card he can play, though I wouldn’t want to see him play it: street nationalism.
Putin is a nationalist, but it’s ultimately a state nationalism, it’s about the Russian federation. And Putin deals with non-ethnic Russians all the time, even in his own government. [Russia has substantial numbers of ethnic minorities.] So he can’t play the Russian chauvinist nationalist card that much.
But Navalny certainly seems to have demonstrated racist attitudes in the past. And he could play the “we Russians are being bled and exploited by the people from North Caucasus, by the people from Central Asia” card.
That plays to a depressingly powerful strand of common Russian public opinion, and it’s something against which Putin has surprisingly little defense. That could conceivably build a wider public constituency quite quickly if Navalny is willing to play that card.
AT: Would that cost Navalny his relationship with the young urban elite?
MG: I think probably not. I don’t get the sense that they are necessarily incredibly enlightened in their opinions.
Let’s face it: he’s the only game in town. So even if there are people within the intellectual classes who were unhappy with a populist shift, it’s an open question whether they’d be unhappy enough to say “that’s it.” Do you hope that some change, even if it’s not ideal, is better than no change at all? I think for many the answer is yes.
5 January 2015
Russia silent as Nadiya Savchenko enters fourth week on hunger strike
Halya Coynash | Human Rights in Ukraine ~ Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian MP and PACE delegate has been on hunger strike in a Moscow prison since Dec 13. It is now 21 days since she took food, yet her lawyers have been refused access and the prison is not passing on letters. Both the authorities and pro-Kremlin media have gone silent about the 34-year-old former military pilot who has been held in Russian detention since late June after being captured by Kremlin-backed militants in Ukraine.
Nikolai Polozov, one of Savchenko’s lawyers, reported on Sunday evening that members of the Public Observer Committee have been able to visit Savchenko in SIZO-6. She is still on hunger strike and is bearing up, he writes, however she is being held in isolation and is not receiving mail.
@Glasnostgone is calling a twitter day of action on Monday Jan 5 to #FreeSavchenko. They ask people to tweet calls for Nadiya Savchenko’s release in as many different languages as possible. Other possibilities can be found on the Voices of Ukraine site. If tweeting, please use the hashtag #freeSavchenko
Nadiya Savchenko is effectively a Russian prisoner of war and has been recognized as a political prisoner by the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre.
She is also a Ukrainian MP and delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE].
PLEASE contact members of PACE [from your country or any on the list here] and ask them to raise the issue of Nadiya Savchenko’s illegal detention in Russia at the PACE session on Jan 26.
Nadiya Savchenko began her hunger strike on Dec 13 in protest at the prison authorities’ failure to provide treatment for a painful ear inflammation and refusal to pass on medication from a Kyiv doctor. 10 days later she announced that she would continue to refuse food until released after a Moscow court rejected her appeal against the ruling extending her detention until Feb 13.
“I will continue my hunger strike until I return to Ukraine. This is not suicide but the only method of fighting available to me” – Nadiya Savchenko
Nadiya Savchenko was captured by Kremlin-backed militants from the so-called Luhansk people’s republic around June 17 and was then found, at the beginning of July to be in a Russian SIZO [pre-trial detention unit].
Russia’s Investigative Committee and the prosecution claim that Savchenko passed on information about the whereabouts of two journalists from Russia’s Pyervy Kanal. Igor Kornelyuk and his sound engineer Anton Voloshin died on June 17 after being caught in shellfire while travelling close to militants of the self-proclaimed Luhansk people’s republic. Despite immediate reactions from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and government-controlled media, there is nothing at all to indicate that the two men were in any way ‘targeted’.
The investigators have produced no evidence to back their claims. They also attempted to have the court hearings held behind closed doors, and to block vital evidence from the defence which provides an irrefutable alibi. With supreme cynicism given that Savchenko was taken prisoner in Ukraine and taken by force to Russia, the investigators claimed that the lawyers did not have the right to collect evidence outside Russia! Although Russian courts had until then gone alone with every dubious application from the investigators, this was so demonstrably a twisted interpretation of the law, that the court agreed to include the material. It includes records of phone conversations demonstrating that Savchenko was nowhere near where the journalists died when herself captured.
Despite clear guidelines from Russia’s Supreme Court, the prosecution has still failed to present the evidence it claims to have incriminating the defendant.
This has not prevented court after court agreeing to extend the period of detention, and rejecting appeals against the entirely unwarranted month-long incarceration in the notorious Serbsky Institute in Moscow. Savchenko refused to have anything to do with the supposed psychiatric assessment which was condemned by a number of well-known psychiatrists, including Semyon Gluzman, a former victim of Soviet punitive psychiatry.
Putin’s assertion in response to the courageous questions about the imprisonment of Savchenko, Crimean political prisoners Oleg Sentsov and others from Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsymbalyuk, was especially insincere given the court’s consistent failure to address Savchenko’s allegations that she was taken in handcuffs and with a bag over her head to Russia. There is a video of her interrogation on around June 18 by Luhansk militants stripping of any credibility the claim by the prosecution that about 10 days later Savchenko entered Russia voluntarily, pretending to be a refugee, and was initially only stopped to check her papers.
None of this has been questioned by Russian courts.
The version of events given by the prosecution is that which up till Dec 25 was presented by pro-Kremlin media who have since, almost certainly on instructions from above, fallen silent altogether.
Nadiya Savchenko has demonstrated her courage, her patriotism and her determination. She has vowed to continue her hunger strike until released, and the grounds for concern about her physical health are therefore serious.
Please help break the Russian silence over this shameful prosecution.
Tweet your demand for Nadiya Savchenko’s release and help ensure that the case is raised at government level and at the Council of Europe.
Letters can be sent to Nadezhda Savchenko, at ФКУ СИЗО-6 УФСИН России по г.Москве 109383, г.Москва, ул.Шоссейная, 92
OR simply to ФКУ СИЗО-6 УФСИН России по г.Москве 109383, г.Москва, ул.Шоссейная, 92. Write in Russian or English expressing concern that Nadezhda Savchenko’s lawyers are not allowed to see her until Jan 12; that letters are not being passed to her, etc. If you comment about the case itself, please use easily translatable and restrained language. The same applies to any letter of support for Nadiya herself.
[Nadezhda is the same first name in Russian]
A video about Nadiya Savchenko, produced by Glasnost Gone, can be viewed here
4 January 2015
Russian spy believes war between the various rebel groups will lead to their defeat and return control of Donbas to Ukraine
A former leader of the terrorist Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), the saboteur Igor Girkin (Strelkov), has called upon Russian fighters to abandon their positions and go home, as he did in August last year. He said this while commenting on the murder of one of the field commanders of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR), Alexei Bednov (‘Batman’), according to TSN.
According to Strelkov, the killing of Bednov was carried out to provoke the fighters to engage in insurrection, which would immediately be declared an “anti-popular rebellion,” with all the its implied consequences, until control over the “people’s republics” is returned to Kyiv on the pretext of “liquidating gangster lawlessness.”
“I was not trying to fight for power, and I left my post in order to avoid such situations… So I call upon everyone to do what I did. I do this in the full understanding that any other option will be bloody and senseless, and will end tragically,” said Strelkov.
According to Strelkov, Bednov’s killing was executed in the worst tradition of “showdowns” between gangland mobs in the 1990s.
“One thing I can say is that, whatever the motives for covering up the murder, even if San Sanich (‘Batman’ – Ed.) and six of his fighters were demons in the flesh, to destroy them in this way has not the slightest sign of any legality -even in a state of emergency – or basic human decency. If ‘Batman’ deserved arrest and even execution, it was not necessary to do this by means of a bandit ambush, even if the organizers of the ambush were to label it a special operation,” he said.
Recall that there was a fight between pro-Russian gangs on 2 January. The rebels of LNR leader Igor Plotnitsky killed one of the gang leaders who was beyond their control – Alexander Bednov, nicknamed ‘Batman’ – and some of his accomplices in an ambush. Some of them were burned alive in their car.
In this case, the leaders of the LNR terrorists admitted that one of “Batman’s” detachments had tortured, robbed, forcefully evicted and killed local residents.
1 January 2015
In the context of geography, history and economic factors, Ukraine’s drive for independence from Russia often appears hopeless. Ukraine and Russia are – in many economic sectors – so organically joined that Putin’s 19th-century-style land-grabbing and fomenting of separatism feels almost sensible: Russia cannot afford to allow Ukraine to integrate with Western institutions. Russia’s status as a nuclear power prevents outside powers from enforcing a roll-back of Moscow’s unilateral redrawing of European borders. As the Western response has thus far been short of military intervention, and will likely remain so, optimism does not run high when pondering the fate of the former Soviet Union’s second-most populous republic.
Yet optimism for Ukraine is still possible when pondering Russia’s future. As a raw-material exporter with nothing in the way of finished goods any other country wants except for military hardware, its economy looks set to continue to nose dive as long as Western sanctions are not relaxed. Russia’s currency cannot be maintained at its current rate without further depletion of the country’s hard currency reserves. In this commentary, a Ukrainian writer gives her prognosis for Russia: the “gas station run by the Federal Security Service” will not survive within its current borders beyond 2017. It is at once an ominous and uplifting notion: in the event of a break-up of the Russian Federation, the country’s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of rogues and terrorists, but at the same time a weakened state that is run by ex-KGB and mafia functionaries would no longer be a menace to the rest of the world. From Ukraine’s Gazeta.ua online newspaper, here is Oksana Zabuzhko…
By 2017 Russia will no longer be standing. Ukrainians have already torn up the check – Zabuzhko
“By the end of 2017, Russia will no longer exist within in its current borders. The main task of the Ukrainian elite is to save the country and carry it between the reefs when the empire falls – to make sure its fragments do not crush us,” says writer Oksana Zabuzhko. Her forecasts and interpretation of the year’s major events can be found in the latest issue of Kraina, 25 December.
“The year of war, including the Maidan, demonstrated that Ukrainians can handle themselves in an emergency situation, ‘horizontally,’ in an absolutely dysfunctional state. But at the same time, we are feeding and maintaining this state. Before, the country was run the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, and now – by the tax inspectorate. And just as there was no budget transparency before, so there is none now. And until then – until the government is accountable to us for the money spent on the principle of “money on the table” – until then all the talk of reform will remain just that. It’s necessary to create another bureaucratic center for the fight against corruption. This is the same shovel in which all questions had one answer – “select a committee and direct it to establish a plan of work.” We now have to live in a 3D regime and solve problems on multiple tracks at the same time. But even so, we will not be creating any illusions for ourselves: these 23 years should have taught us that as long as we are side by side with this FSB [Russian Federal Security Service – Ed.] empire, we will have no life,” Oksana Zabuzhko says self-assuredly.
“This empire stood and stands on a lie. And any lie is toxic. Everything there is fake, terrible, monstrous theater, a synthesis of the Lubyanka and Hollywood. Peter Pomerantsev has written about this very well, and his book has just been released in the US. The section “Cracks in the Kremlin matrix” had already appeared on the Internet before the war. Pomerantsev worked as a journalist for eight years in Moscow and was a witness to this dramatization of political life in Russia. A Potemkin village – huge, scary, bloody – with Internet and TV. And all of this war – is a dramatized performance. And people do not know what to believe: what is truth, and what is fake, what is dramatization, and what is reality? And they themselves have become the victims of their own propaganda memes: Ukrainians are fools, they do not know how to fight, they have no army. ‘We will invade, and all the girls will be ours.’ And everyone will run to us with bread and bacon. Note: they really believed it. Definitely, we destroyed this scenario for them. We have gained from the fact that they had such poor knowledge of us,” says the writer.
“By December 2017, in three years, the empire will no longer stand, because it has exhausted its resources. This is because it started this hot war. This resource-based empire has no chance of surviving in the 21st century. Plus, the whole concept of energy is changing: oil will never again be at $100 a barrel. There is a reformatting of the world map. I am more than confident that the EU cannot remain in its present form. I simply see how the future of the Baltic-Black Sea zone is becoming defined. Look how the allies of Ukraine are increasing now – Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania – contrary to the logic of economic cooperation with Russia.
In 2020, the map of Europe will look different than it does now. These lines of division are already visible. Germany, for example, has a many more internal problems than we think. She has far from “licked” her division. All this is a reckoning for the “old” historical diseases. And they only had 12 years of Nazism! The “gas station operated by the FSB” is just playing on its problems. This they can do: put pressure on the problems in each country with an “individual touch.”
On the question of whether the Putin empire has long to go, Oksana Zabuzhko says no. She explains: “We, Ukrainians, have already torn up the check.”
1 January 2015
One of the most troubling aspects of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict is the fact that relations between the two countries reportedly continue on several levels despite the state of de facto war. Russia formally declared its annexation of Ukrainian territory in March 2014, and regular Russian army personnel have been positively identified as operating on Ukrainian territory (both Russian military intelligence officers such as Igor Girkin [Strelkov] and rank-and-file Russian soldiers). In traditional diplomacy, this situation would mandate a severing of diplomatic relations, yet both countries continue to have ambassadors in their respective embassies in Moscow and Kyiv, and orders on contracts are still being fulfilled by Ukrainian industry. The latter situation is particularly troubling if, as has been widely reported, the Russian defense sector is dependent on the Ukrainian defense industry for finished products (including, of course, weaponry that can be used against Ukraine in the war itself). Below, an elder statesman and senior officer of the Ukrainian security service speaks out on these painful realities. It is high time the Ukrainian leadership and the rest of the world confronted the painful reality of what will be involved in “cutting the umbilical cord” connecting Ukraine to Russia – economically and politically…
Security Service general identifies the strategic goal of Putin in Ukraine
It is escalation of the conflict leading to a possible third world war, says Skipalsky.
Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to subordinate the foreign policy and economy of Ukraine to Russia’s interests, as he is opposed to the younger generation of politicians in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament). The Cabinet of Ministers and the Presidential Administration have not yet accustomed themselves to building the new state.
This is what Lieutenant General Oleksandr Skypalsky, former deputy chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in comments to Glavred.
“Russia has begun to understand the strategic mistake of war and aggression [against Ukraine – Ed.]. But the situation is such that there is no way out that would not run counter to its geopolitical interests. Because any influence from a decision [on the peaceful settlement of the situation in the Donbas – Ed.] plays into Russia’s hands,” said the expert.
“We, in turn, also see no simple exit. Ukraine is trying to find a way to tie itself to Europe and – to some extent – to the US, but at the same time it retains certain contacts with Russia. That is, we still have not broken diplomatic relations with the aggressor country, and we continue to support business relations and trade. It turns out that we have a serious war, and everyone pretends that the war and relations with the aggressor country are separate issues. This is unnatural and harmful to Ukraine, and it is certainly not conducive to resolving the situation,” said the Lieutenant General.
“Now more and more people have come to understand that this is a war – Putin’s operation is softly forcing Ukraine into submission, but his strategic goal is to subject the foreign policy and economy of Ukraine to Russian interests. And the Verkhovna Rada, Cabinet of Ministers, Presidential Administration – this is a younger generation that is not accustomed to building a state, is accustomed only to enriching itself, and has inherited difficult circumstances for choosing a path: it wants to move towards Europe; it wants to become rich; it wants to steal from the budget. We have to make a choice. For Ukraine, the most important choice is internal reform, the fight against corruption, and improving the mechanisms of governance. The current emphasis on the Minsk Agreement is an attempt to distract us from the urgent problems that must be solved in Ukraine (the fight against corruption, the stimulus of domestic production, improving defense, etc.). So, I think this is one way of manipulating the consciousness of Ukrainian citizens,” opined Skypalsky.
The expert said that he does not have optimistic expectations for the Minsk talks, but neither does he have any pessimistic ones.
“I understand perfectly: guns begin to talk when diplomats fall silent, and when guns fall silent, diplomats begin to talk. I strongly support the idea of continuing the negotiating process. But to solve the current problems, it is necessary that the negotiators not be bandits, who are backed by Russia. It is necessary to gather powerful world powers who should understand once and for all that the escalation of the conflict could lead to a third world war, and would play into the hands of any actor who behaves arrogantly, namely Russia. England, France, America and Germany should do this. And we should not bury our head in the sand, sending to the intermediary types to negotiations so that the only thing that happens is the drawing-out of time. In this case, tough surgery is necessary,” concluded the expert.