Russia today

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Thu Mar 09, 2023 3:57 pm

club life
March 9, 2:24 p.m


Fashionable club in Ust-Poche, Arkhangelsk region.

I want to go...

About the protests in Tbilisi
March 8, 5:01 p.m


Briefly about the protests in Georgia.

The very law on foreign agents in Georgia is just a trigger that is used by the pro-Western opposition for regular rallies with attempts to raise the issue of seizing power.
Foreign agents are being fought in Russia, the US, and the EU, but from Washington they shake their finger at Georgians and say that Georgians are not supposed to have such laws, which already shows the real attitude of Georgia as in a failed state, which is pointed out from abroad, what laws it should pass, and what not. This is the same "world order based on rules."
Well, the local servants are ready to serve this line, which can be seen on the footage of another Georgian buza.

Among other things, this trigger is used to attack the local government, which has chosen a line of neutrality in the war in Ukraine. This does not suit the West, which wants to intensify the deployment of NATO on the territory of Georgia and sign Georgia to support Ukraine, with an attempt to reopen the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The West is not particularly worried about the consequences of this for Georgia. The regime in Tbilisi suspects something on this score and dismisses these proposals, even despite the statements of the president and opposition rallies, for which he receives accusations of "working for the Kremlin" and "studying" in the Western media on the topic of "betrayal of European ideals" and "turning off the European path." In general, nothing new. If it works out, another colorful scenario will be staged in Georgia.

It is objectively beneficial for the Russian Federation to maintain the current status quo in Georgia, while for the United States, on the contrary, it is beneficial to destroy this status quo, so the regime in Tbilisi will be shaken by local grant-eaters and their suction from Saakashvili's party.

Google Translator


Georgians to Protest Despite Withdrawal of Foreign Agents Bill

Anti-government protests in Georgia, March 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @offstream_news

Published 9 March 2023 (2 hours 9 minutes ago)

The bill is seen as a replica of a Russian law that allows the State to repress and ban opposition politicians and critical NGOs, the media, and human rights activists.

On Thursday, Georgia's opposition parties announced that protests against the "Foreign Agents" bill will continue. Previously, however, the ruling Georgian Dream party and the People's Force movement said they would withdraw the bill.

"First of all, we must take care of Georgia's peace, tranquility, and economic development, as well as the progress of Georgia along the path of European integration. Therefore, as responsible forces, we have decided to unconditionally withdraw the bill", the People's Force movement and the Georgian Dream party said in a joint statement.

The announcement of the withdrawal of the Foreign Agents Bill, however, did not appease the spirits among the opposition forces, which remain attentive to the real development of events.

"We don't believe Georgian Dream. How will it legally withdraw the project? The procedure is very nebulous so far. We will continue the protests until Georgia adopts and guarantees a pro-Western course," said Tsotne Koberidze, the leader of the Guircham party.

At 7:00 p.m. local time, a new protest action will take place in Rustaveli, on the main avenue of the Georgian capital, where citizens will also demand the release of all those arrested.

The European Union representation in Georgia welcomed the withdrawal of the bill and called on "all political leaders to constructively and inclusively resume pro-European reforms."

The bill is seen by its critics as a replica of a Russian law that allows the State to repress and ban opposition politicians and critical NGOs, the media, and human rights activists. ... -0005.html
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Fri Mar 10, 2023 3:36 pm

Nikita Mikhalkov, ‘Besogon,’ and Russia’s patriotic creative intellectuals

In my occasional explanations of the logic of my essay-writing, I point out that my contribution to discussion of the big issues in the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the West is to provide readers with current information about what the Russian elites are thinking and saying. This is something they almost never see or hear today in Western media given a) the near total black-out of Russian media in the West through denial of access to satellites or other actions that amount to jamming, and b) the servile behavior of Western media as mere disseminators of Pentagon and State Department press briefings. At the same time, I avoid joining the pile-up of fellow commentators at the scrimmage line of the single most talked about developments of the day, whether that means latest news from the war front or latest news about the destruction of Nord Stream II.

You will note that most of the information from Russian media that I provide week by week comes from my watching the leading news, analysis and panel discussion programs of Russian state television, in particular Sixty Minutes and Evening with Vladimir Solovyov. These are high quality programs watched by millions in Russia where authoritative parliamentarians as well as non-government voices are presented.

I have so far not mentioned another type of Russian broadcast that I regularly keep an eye on, what they call ‘author’s programs,’ meaning broadcasts that are scripted and presented by an independent personality who has wide recognition and is allowed to speak only for himself, how he or she views current events. Sometimes these individuals run afoul of official views on sensitive subjects and their shows are taken off air for a while if not permanently. That in fact happened about two years ago to Nikita Mikhalkov, though his blacklisting was rescinded and his show Besogon can be viewed every week on Pervy Kanal, where it is repeated several times at different hours and days of the week.

What I am about to say pertains to the latest edition of Besogon, which I watched this morning courtesy of For those of you who are not Russian speakers, I hasten to say that today’s program is only in spoken Russian, so you will have to rely on my summary of its contents and its importance. However, older editions of Besogon with English subtitles are available for viewing on To give you a clear idea of this program, I suggest you go to

Who is Nikita Mikhalkov? Many of you may know of him as a leading Russian film director (incidentally also the head of the Russian Union of Cinematographers). His film Burnt by the Sun had a big global audience. He has been on both sides of the camera and had an important career as an actor before he took up directing.

Mikhalkov was born in 1945 into a family of creative professionals that enjoyed prominence in the Soviet period over two generations. Through his mother, he is related to the still more prominent family of the artist Konchalovsky, who made his mark on Russian avant-garde art still before the Revolution.

Mikhalkov is both an accomplished creative professional and an important defender of patriotic values in his country. The name of his author’s television program, Besogon, is not easily translatable. The word is pejorative and can mean trickster or liar. And Mikhalkov’s program is an expose of the tricksters and liars in the Liberal camp who have heavily influenced Russian culture, the structure of the economy and much else from the time Boris Yeltsin came to power and Russia was flooded with American ‘advisers.’

The program I watched this morning was dedicated to education, in keeping with the fact that during this past week Russia extended bouquets and kind words to teachers and mentors. Almost every profession has such a day in the official Russian calendar and this was the turn of teachers.

Mikhalkov used the opportunity to address a very topical issue: why did so many fellow citizens in their twenties and thirties clear out, go abroad at the start of the Special Military Operation. He takes it back to the Soros-led changes in the Russian educational system implemented in the 1990s: upbringing and inculcation of societal values were replaced by unfettered individualism or, to be less kind but more accurate, by unchecked egoism.

Here I, as a 43-long resident, now citizen of Belgium have seen how the destruction of the forces binding this society together, namely Church and monarchy, have in the course of the last few decades given rise to an ethos of indifference if not hostility to social conventions and to civility written large. It is unimaginable that the heroism of Belgium’s partisans in their clandestine hiding and succoring U.S. and other Allied airmen shot down by the German occupiers during WWII would be repeated by the Belgians of today.

But to return to Mikhalkov and his narrative today, I want to call out a short film from the late 1960s that he presented in the show. This depicted a test of the character of Soviet schoolchildren when facing a stark choice between self and the collective, between acting on conscience and conformism. Specifically, girls and boys aged perhaps 10 were, one by one, introduced into a room, given rifles and asked to choose their target and fire. In front of them were two bulls-eyes. If they hit the one on the left, they would be rewarded with a coin which they could keep. If they hit the bulls-eye on the right, money would be deposited in a fund for the benefit of the community. But to this was added an important overlay: the bulls-eye on the left showed it had been hit by sixteen of their peers, while the bulls-eye on the right had been hit by only two. The camera captured the hesitation of each of the girls and boys before they chose their target and fired. What is poignant is that the vast majority of these kids then chose to shoot at the bulls-eye on the right, meaning they opted for the general good rather than for personal reward.

For those of us who are used to thinking about Soviet society in its heyday, it is stunning that these kids did not follow their peers, were not conformists in what would benefit them individually. They went against the current, as they saw it. I do not have to ask what the results of such a test would reveal if it were tried on American or Belgian kids today in our hedonistic societies.

The show today was all about restoring to Russia’s schoolrooms the function of upbringing and not just education.

Mr. Mikhalkov, you have my bouquet. And my regret that this important distinction has been utterly lost in Western societies.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023 ... llectuals/


Alfa-Bank leaks
March 10, 11:43


A noteworthy list of Alfa-Bank suckers who signed a letter calling for the lifting of Western sanctions on Fridman and Aven. The fighters for all that is good in Russia did not disdain to act as a united front for the former members of the Semibankers. One must understand that this is not free.

I didn’t really follow the next showdowns of the domestic demos, but there, of course, there is nowhere to put a stigma - some took money from Sobyanin, others from the oligarchs, others mastered Western grants - excellent people with bright faces, most of whom fled abroad, and the rest are spinning a fig in pocket on state financing.

Google Translator


Georgia Protests: US Seeks to Open 2nd Front Against Russia
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on MARCH 9, 2023

– Protests in Georgia consist of US-backed opposition groups (literally waving US and EU flags) attempting to block a bill to increase transparency behind political groups to reduce foreign interference;

– The US has already once overthrown Georgia’s government in 2003, according to the London Guardian;

– By 2008 after flooding Georgia with weapons and training its military, Georgia attacked Russia, according to a EU investigation;

– The US seeks to stir up trouble in Georgia again to “extend” Russia as explained in detail by the RAND Corporation’s 2019 paper, “Extending Russia;”

– The US has pressured other nations attempting to pass bills to protect against foreign interference including recently Thailand;


BBC – Georgia protests: Police push protesters back from parliament (2023):

Transparency International – Who Supports Us:

CNN – Georgia withdraws ‘foreign influence’ bill that sparked angry protests (2023):

Guardian – US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev (2004):

Reuters – Georgia started war with Russia: EU-backed report (2009):

RAND Corporation – Extending Russia (2019): ... st-russia/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Wed Mar 15, 2023 2:20 pm



By John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with

Igor Zyuzin (lead image), owner of the Mechel steel and coal group, and one of the few Russian metals oligarchs not presently sanctioned by the US, is a running sore on the Kremlin’s policy of halting, and also continuing, industrial pollution.

From his base in Chelyabinsk, and at factories, mines, and ports from Moscow through the Urals to the Pacific coast, Zyuzin has defied decades of protests by residents, city and region investigations, court rulings, and promises by federal officials to stop the water, ground, and air pollution which his businesses have been producing.

Zyuzin is now telling the Kremlin he wants permission for more – more pollution, that is, at lower cost to the profit line on his balance-sheet.

The emergency economic measures being adopted for the war in the Ukraine, Zyuzin is claiming, should now relieve him and his company executives of criminal liability for intentional pollution, and Article 251 of the Criminal Code should be cancelled. This provision in the Russian law allows regulators, prosecutors and courts to force the dismissal of culpable managers or to send them to prison for up to one year.

Zyuzin has appealed through the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE), the oligarch lobby, for President Vladimir Putin to do this by implementing the promise announced in his Federal Assembly address last month. “I will repeat,” Putin said on February 21, “against the backdrop of external attempts to contain Russia, private businesses have proven their ability to quickly adapt to the changing environment and ensure economic growth in difficult conditions. So, every business initiative aimed at benefiting the country should receive support. I believe it is necessary to return, in this context, to the revision of a number of norms of criminal law as regards the economic elements of crime. Of course, the state must control what is happening in this area. We should not allow an anything-goes attitude here, but we should not go too far either. It is necessary to move faster towards the decriminalisation I mentioned.”

“Everything we do is solidly rooted in market principles…We have avoided having to apply excessive regulation or distorting the economy by giving the state a more prominent role,” Putin added.

The head of the RUIE lobby, Alexander Shokin, has been a Zyuzin retainer for many years. Over this time he and Zyuzin have persuaded Putin to accept the principle that Mechel should be allowed to violate the anti-pollution laws on condition it pays small cash penalties for its poison.

Zyuzin is the only oligarch to whom Putin has publicly apologised. This happened thirteen years ago after Putin criticised Zyuzin for price rigging and tax evasion, and when, by making his criticism public, Putin damaged Mechel’s share price.

President Putin and Alexander Shokhin at their last official Kremlin meeting, March 2, 2022.

In July 2008, Putin, then prime minister, convened a meeting of the steel and coal oligarchs to discuss the steelers’ complaint that the suppliers of the coking coal on which they depended were illegally price gouging. At the time Zyuzin, who had bought out his partner Vladimir Iorikh two years earlier and held about 70% of the New York-listed Mechel group, failed to appear at the table. “The director has been invited, and he suddenly became ill,” Putin said of Zyuzin as the cameras rolled. “Of course, illness is illness, but I think he should get well as soon as possible. Otherwise, we will have to send him a doctor and clean up all the problems.”

Putin added a threat of criminal prosecution. “I ask also the Federal Antimonopoly Service [FAS] to pay special attention to this. Perhaps, even the Investigatory Committee of the Office of the Public Prosecutor. It is necessary to understand what is happening.”

By the time word of Putin’s attack on Zyuzin hit Russian television screens, the Moscow stock market had closed. The New York Stock Exchange, however, saw frenzied selling of Mechel’s shares; the stock price had risen by almost 300% over the preceding year, primarily on the back of rising coking coal prices and steel profits. On the day, the Mechel share price fell 38% on Putin’s statement. Other Russian steelmakers — most of them listed in London — followed Mechel down on the expectation that Putin would implement a significant cut in steel and mining margins.

He didn’t; Mechel’s share price recovered.

Putin also criticized Mechel and other Russian coal exporters for running offshore tax evasion schemes. “It’s a reduction of the tax base within the country, tax evasion. It’s creating a deficit in the domestic market and results in an increase in the price of metallurgical products,” he said. The prime minister was correct in fact; he ordered no remedy to follow. Zyuzin ignored the criticism.

Two years later, in July 2010, Putin (right) made a tour of one of Zyuzin’s plants in Chelyabinsk where Zyuzin (next to Putin in blue) arranged for him to inaugurate a new casting machine at the plant. Putin responded with an unprecedented public retraction and endorsement. “I can only regret,” Putin said of his remarks in July 2008, “that this caused the company’s capitalisation to fall by 20% [sic] if I am not mistaken. Anyway, Mr Zyuzin, I want to thank you for everything you did and your continued respect for domestic consumers and Russian law.”

The investigation archive on Zyuzin and the Mechel group’s steel, coal and nickel operations stretches back to 2005; there are 91 reports altogether. The evidence is lacking of Zyuzin’s respect either for domestic consumers or for Russian law.

The last report in the archive of Mechel’s record for pollution and the attempts by regional and federal regulators to crack down appeared in 2017. In Mechel’s required filing for 2016 to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company dismissed the risk of criminal prosecution or of significant civil penalties for its air, ground and water pollution. “In the course of the Group’s operations, the Group may be subject to environmental claims and legal proceedings. The quantification of environmental exposures requires an assessment of many factors, including changing laws and regulations, improvements in environmental technologies, the quality of information available related to specific sites, the assessment stage of each site investigation, preliminary findings and the length of time involved in remediation or settlement. Management does not believe that any pending environmental claims or proceedings will have a material adverse effect on its financial position and results of operations…Possible liabilities, which were identified by management as those that can be subject to potential claims from environmental authorities are not accrued in the consolidated financial statements. The amount of such liabilities was not significant.”

The timing of this Mechel report to the US government is noteworthy because in August 2016 Putin appointed one of his closest aides, Sergei Ivanov, to become the Kremlin’s “Special Representative on the Issues of Environmental Activities, Ecology and Transport.” Ivanov had served with Putin in the KGB; he was Security Council Secretary, then Defence Minister during Putin’s first presidential term; chief of his staff during the second term. The term “special” in Ivanov’s title is an irony; he has retained it but keeps more significant influence as a continuing permanent member of Putin’s Security Council.

Left, Sergei Ivanov meeting the president on February 1, 2023. The only agenda items they discussed, according to the Kremlin communiqué, were plastics recycling and the preservation of the Amur tiger and leopard.

Mechel’s record as an industrial polluter has also continued. Last week in the Moscow region town of Vidnoye , Mechel’s coke battery, known as Moskoks, suffered an explosion and fire, which was neutralized by fire brigades. The company management claimed no one had been hurt and “there is no threat to the environment.” For a film clip of the fire, click to watch. Ukrainian media have implied the incident had been the work of Ukrainian saboteurs. The Russia media have reported the cause was work and environmental rule violations compounded by plant negligence.

A regional publisher of investigative journalism, Vybor Salavat (“The Choice of Salavat”), has followed up, reporting the Moskoks incident may prove to be the last straw for government regulators trying to put a stop to Zyuzin’s criminal code violations. The online publication describes itself as “a virtual publication about the political and social life of the city and the region. We touch upon the topics of pressing problems and share thoughts about the future, recall the past and try to believe in the present. Our correspondents also do not forget to cover the incidents in the city of Salavat. The staff of the publication: Anton Byakov, Viktor Sadykov, Vasilisa Petrenko, Marina Zhanabaeva, Maxim Korshun.”

Salavat city and region are in Bashkortostan, southwest of Chelyabinsk and due west of Magnitogorsk, another major steel-producing city in the Urals. The city’s newspaper is more than 70 years old; it changed its name from Leninsky Put (“Lenin’s Way”) to Vybor Salavat in 1991. It remains officially tied to the Bashkortostan republic’s and the Salavat city’s administration.


This is a verbatim translation of the Vybor Salavat report into English. Illustrations included are from the original, which was first published on March 8, as well as the asset map and pictures which have been added. Click to read in Russian.

When the “doctors” won’t help – the regulatory agencies have warned Zyuzin more than once

An explosion at Moskoks could become the last domino, which, as they are falling, may pull the entire holding of Igor Zyuzin down with it.

This evening in Vidnoye, near Moscow, there was an explosion and a fire at the Moskoks plant, which is part of Mechel PAO [Joint Stock Company] and under control by the interests of businessman Igor Zyuzin. As it has turned out, what happened could knock out from under Zyuzin’s feet almost the last support. This is because the accident could have been avoided.

Mechel and the affected plant itself have been subjected repeatedly to inspections by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Rostekhnadzor [the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision. ] They have revealed significant violations — and not only with regard to emissions into the environment. The structure from where the explosion began is called a benzene pumping column. And the latest checks showed violations in the electricity supply lines to which this pumping system could have been vulnerable to inflammable sparks.

Interestingly, the environmental violations at Moskoks had been detected, not by the local Moscow region, but by the Smolensk and Moscow branches of Rostekhnadzor. It turns out that the harmful emissions from the plant had been reaching as far from the plant as those regional borderlines.

Mechel is notorious for incidents like these – for the operation of the company plants without the required licences; top-of-the-pollution measurements as rated by independent experts; constant complaints from citizens who are unlucky enough to live perilously close to Mechel’s enterprises – this is just a sample list, far from a comprehensive one, on what the Zyuzin factories can be convicted of. And so we have done a big investigation on this subject which we have titled – the bailiffs come calling on Zyuzin.

Despite the fact that they only talk about Mechel’s emissions, representatives of the regulatory agencies say that the data which Zyuzin’s holding presents to the public are also underestimating the real conditions which people live near the factories of Mr. Zyuzin.

At the same time, enterprises from the Mechel group of companies have repeatedly tried to cover up against the background of all their pollution and other violations. However, at Moskoks they have been caught red-handed. Even so, the oligarch’s lawyers have been very good at defending themselves in court, notwithstanding the fact that in practice emissions at the enterprises have not decreased for years. Well now — it seems that Moskoks has run out of defences.

Mechel enterprises have been criticised even by the Kremlin’s plenipotentiary representative in the Siberian Federal District until April 2021, Sergei Menyailo (right). Back in the summer of 2020 he asked local Kemerovo region leaders to deal with the pollution problem; he even appointed an official who would be responsible for enforcing compliance with the industrial safety standards.

The Minister of Ecology of the Chelyabinsk region, Sergei Likhachev, also drew attention to the problem, and in an emphatic tone announced the necessity for strengthening measures to reduce emissions. And, most importantly, the current President of Russia himself (at that time the prime minister) has looked towards Mechel with obvious disapproval against the background of the situation with the rigging of prices for metals and coal inside the Russian Federation at the same time as these materials were cheaper abroad. Zyuzin did not appear at the meeting where this story was discussed. Like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand and hoping no one would notice, maybe? Putin then threatened Zyuzin with a purgative and asked for a check of Mechel’s activities, not only by the regulators but also the prosecutors.

But there is more than just criticism and scandals. There is now reason to believe that in reality, Zyuzin has run out of cash, not only for the modernization of his enterprises, but also for the maintenance of their regular operations in general. How else to explain the sale of assets of the largest mining unit in the group, which began back in 2013?

Then Mechel sold four factories in Romania for a nominal $70, because they were bringing in only losses. Before then, Zyuzin’s company had actively bought up Romanian assets, and had invested at least $250 million in them. Then in 2013, the company had to pay back $2.7 billion to Zyuzin’s bank lenders – that was about Rb86 billion at the exchange rate of the time.

But that didn’t seem to fix things. In 2020, Zyuzin sold the Elginskoye coal field in Yakutia. At that time, his debts to state-owned banks (Sberbank, Gazprombank, VTB) already amounted to more than 400 billion rubles. In other words, despite the sale of the Romanian assets, the Mechel debts have only grown.


Click on source to view in enlargement. Read the last Mechel presentation to the US market in 2021 before delisting from the New York Stock Exchange began as a result of sanctions in December 2022.

In the same year also, 2020, Mechel took another 5 billion rubles from VTB to replenish his working capital. According to the website of the Novstal company, during the same year the holding reportedly borrowed another 18 billion rubles from its own structures. Already that looked like an attempt to drain money out of the group.

In 2021, it became known that Mechel was unable to pay off the loans he taken back in 2010 with the repayment risk secured by under the guarantees of export agencies. And it was money taken from abroad.

Zyuzin builds his business in a peculiar way – he borrows from some and then repays this debt with loans he arranges from others. And to improve the appearances on the company books since 2009 he has been pressing company employees to transfer their savings to Mechel’s company pension fund. By the way, this organization is now in the process of liquidation. So what about the money of future pensioners?

Other Mechel enterprises are not in the best financial situation either. For example, in the year from 2020 to 2021 the profit of Joint Stock Company Yakutugol [Yakut Coal] decreased by as much as 22 billion rubles. Where’s the money, as they say.



Until recently, Mechel itself was registered as an offshore structure based largely in Cyprus.


At the same time, the same Yakutugol, like other enterprises of the holding, is a major supplier for a huge number of government contracts, most of which have not yet been fully completed, despite delays.

It’s laughable, but it seems that Zyuzin recently pumped the remnants of his “former good fortune” into Moskoks – the company’s revenue from 2020 to 2021 increased by 16 billion rubles.

Basically, however, the Mechel enterprises are being liquidated, while the rest must suffer a long-term risks of losing their independence and of unstable and unreliable sources of financing. The chief management company itself, which owns the majority of Mechel enterprises, Mechel Mining Management Company, is presently showing a negative profit and does not have the means to ensure even current activities!

By contrast, things are going very much better in the companies of Zyuzin’s relatives. Irina Vasilievna Zyuzina, for example, together with SK Bask, previously owned by the family, has earned 37 million rubles in 2021 at Flavix LLC, which trades drugs.

Bask itself makes good money on government contracts. Zyuzina also has the Bask-Med Region” clinic engaged in general medical practice. It looks like Zyuzin is preparing for himself an alternate airfield for take-off and escape.

After all, returning to Mechel and using the words of the classics – “the patient is rather dead” — at the 2008 meeting where Vladimir Putin criticized Zyuzin, he announced that he would have to send for the doctor.” We are only afraid that now no doctor will help come to save the oligarch. ... more-87682
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Sat Mar 18, 2023 3:36 pm

Consequences of destruction
March 18, 10:53


More than 71% of Russians lost from the destruction of the USSR. The same number voted for its preservation in 1991.

On March 17, 1991, a referendum was held %BD%D1%8B%D0%B9_%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%84%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%83%D0%BC_ %D0%BE_%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%85%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B8_%D0%A1%D0 %A1%D0%A1%D0%A0 ) about the preservation of the USSR. Like many actions of the authorities since perestroika, this was an act of destruction of the Union, because its very existence was called into question. Nevertheless, with a turnout of 80%, 78% supported its preservation, incl. 71% of Russians. But the will of the people was betrayed ( ) and sold.

After 32 years of capitalism, it is clear that at least the same 71% are losing, Equality calculated according to Rosstat data on income dynamics.

Average income ( ) of Russians in 2022 was ₽45,300, and without taxes - ₽38,000. 20% of the rich have it ₽89,000, and 80% of the rest - ₽26,000.

In the 80s, people grew richer by an average of 2.3% per year.

At these rates , by 2022, incomes would have become ₽51,000. 20% of the rich would have ₽83,500, the rest - ₽43,000. 80% without the rich - 41% less. Those who today are at least a little in the black, no more than 29%.

The destruction of socialism led to an explosion of inequality. In the 1990s, incomes fell by 2 roubles, and began to grow after the rise in oil prices (by 6 times by 2008), on the export of which the nouveaux riches rose. If in 1990 10% of the rich received 4.4 ( ... pdf#page=2) times more than 10% of the poor, then by 1994 - 15 times. The same is true now ( ).

For 32 years, the Russians have received less than $6.6 trillion. For the 20% to become $1.1 trillion richer, the other 80% lost $7.7 trillion.

71% of those who lost their income is still the minimum. The Russian Federation missed 26 million people ( ), “extra mouths” according to Chubais, and taking them into account, the losers - 75%. Secondly, income growth was leveled by the reduction of social programs and the commercialization of services, i.e. real welfare gains were lower. Third, in the preserved USSR, income growth could have been greater than in the 80s, against the backdrop of the same rise in oil prices.

Finally, tidbits turned out to be in the possession of very few - the oligarchs and their servants. If in 1990 1% had 14% of the wealth, now it is 59% ( ), and this is worse ( ) than many in the world . 58% ( ... -vernutsja ) of Russians

regret the collapse of the USSR . Among those who caught him at least a teenager, 75% of them are. @ravenstvomedia - zinc Actually, since the year, the number of those who regret the destruction of the country has only increased. But here everything is according to the classics - we do not appreciate what we have. Lost - weep.

Google Translator


British Lords Shed Crocodile Tears About Imprisonment of Corrupt Former Georgian President and Ukraine War Booster Mikheil Saakashvili as Another Color Revolution Looks to Be Afoot
By Bernie Holland - March 17, 2023 0

Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia of abuse of power during his presidency and arrested upon his return from exile, holds a candle while praying for Ukraine in a defendant’s dock during a court hearing in Tbilisi, Georgia, March 17, 2022. [Source:]

Saakashvili promotes NATO expansion into Georgia which is a clear “red line” for Russia
The Georgian capital of Tbilisi has been engulfed in protests over the last weeks that have the appearance of a color revolution backed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA offshoot that finances civil society groups in countries targeted by the U.S. government for regime change.

In 2021, the NED provided Georgia with over $2.5 million in grants. The country has been promised by NATO that it will be admitted in the future. It is a key battleground along with Ukraine in the new Cold War.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov charged that protests in Tbilisi “closely resemble Kyiv’s Maidan coup,” which resulted in the overthrow of a pro-Russian government, and plunged Ukraine into civil war and then a hot war with Russia.

Georgia has been in the U.S. orbit since the 2003 U.S.-backed Rose Revolution brought to power Mikheil Saakashvili, a darling of the neoconservatives in Washington who pushed for EU and NATO membership.

The latest demonstrations are supposedly in response to a new law requiring that NGOs receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad register as foreign agents. Opponents have called this a “Russian”-style law, and it has been denounced as going against Georgia’s “European course”—a clear indication of the kind of color revolution that is intended.

There has also been agitation around the release of Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia in 2018 of abuse of power during his presidency, and imprisoned on his return to Georgia in 2021.

Many of the demonstrators have worn gas masks and helmets, and some have been throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks at police. They blockaded the parliament, and may have the entire building surrounded.

The police used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters against a draft law on “foreign agents” in Tbilisi, Georgia. [Source:]

Despite their violent character, the U.S. Embassy has come out in support of the protesters, saying that the imposition of the “foreign agents” law is a “dark day for democracy” in Georgia. The embassy also mulled the possibility of imposing sanctions on the country for suppressing the protests.

Protesters being sprayed by a water cannon in Tbilisi. [Source:]

After the protests continued to grow, on March 9 the governing coalition withdrew the bill in an effort to calm them down. A statement announcing the withdrawal said, “The machine of lies was able to present the bill in a negative light and mislead a certain part of the public.”

The opposition, however, released a joint statement in response, insisting that the protests would continue nonetheless, “because there are many young people who do not trust Georgian Dream,” referring to the governing party.

Phony Political Prisoner
Professor Richard Sakwa, in his definitive work “Frontline Ukraine—Crisis in the Borderlands,” makes several references which include the subject of Saakashvili, championed as a “political prisoner” by the British elite, as evidenced by the hearing in the House of Lords on February 27, 2023, which has been recorded on a video file. This material can be viewed here:

(Video at link.)

On viewing this video, the wider matter of concern here is that the British State is acting in such a way as to have Georgia admitted to both the European Union and NATO, which, along with the presence of NATO operatives within Ukraine, constituted a “red line not to be crossed” according to the substance of the speech made by President Putin at the 2007 Munich Security Conference.


Neocons Favored Son in Georgia
Coached by Richard Miles, the one-time U.S. ambassador in Belgrade who helped organize street protests against Serb socialist leader Slobodan Milošević, Saakashvili was just 36 years old when in 2003 he led the so-called Rose Revolution, against Georgia’s old Soviet-era leadership.

He came to power the following year with more than 96% of the vote and moved quickly to carry out reforms—cracking down on organized crime, rebuilding the police force, and cutting red tape for business.

Georgian opposition supporters hold portraits of opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili during a rally outside the parliament in Tbilisi on November 10, 2003.

Supporters of Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution with posters of Saakashvili. [Source:]

But in 2008, Georgia fought a five-day war with Russia over South Ossetia that ended in humiliating defeat, the loss of territory, and the displacement of tens of thousands of Georgians. As commander-in-chief, Saakashvili was ultimately held responsible.

Saakashvili as commander-in-chief. [Source:]

His government became increasingly authoritarian, shutting down a critical media channel, violently dispersing protests, extorting money from businesses, and imprisoning thousands of people for minor offenses.

The final straw came in a video on the eve of elections in 2012 featuring allegations of prison torture and abuse. Georgians voted decisively against Saakashvili’s United National Movement ending its nine years in power.

Saakashvili left Georgia for a new political career in Ukraine, later becoming governor of the southern region of Odessa, while continuing to champion the cause of NATO expansion in Georgia. When he returned to his home country last year, he was arrested and charged with committing high crimes in office.

An interior ministry video showed Saakashvili (center) in handcuffs after his arrest. [Source:]

Since the Russian Special Military operation commenced in February 2022, Saakashvili has spoken out against Vladimir Putin and praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he called “the new Churchill in this part of Europe [who] will determine not only things that will happen in Ukraine but in many countries around it, including Russia.”

Sakwa’s Insights
Extracts from Sakwa’s work are referenced here:

“The Russo-Georgian war of August 2008 acted as the forewarning of the major earthquake that has engulfed Europe in 2013-14. As Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council, put it, noting the West’s surprise at ‘Russia’s firm stance on Ukraine,’ given that everything had been pointed in that direction for the last decade:”

“Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, the West failed to forsake the principle according to which only Western interests are legitimate. Nor has it learned the lesson of the events of August 2008, when Russia intervened in the war unleashed by the regime of Mikheil Saakashvili, in order to enforce peace in the region. The Georgian crisis should have made clear to everyone that Russia is not only ready to make its voice heard, but is also prepared to use force when its national interests are at stake.” (p. 5)

“The Russian intervention in Georgia in August 2008 changed the tone of the discussion and bolstered the Polish argument that Russia’s western neighbors needed stronger links with the EU, ‘partly for their own security and partly for the security of the EU.’ Most Western accounts of the Georgian conflict have been tendentious, too often swallowing uncritically the line put out by the Georgian President from 2004 to 2013, Mikheil Saakashvili. Russia’s response to the Georgian attack on the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, included the temporary occupation of part of Georgia proper followed soon after by the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This may have been disproportionate and ill-judged, yet in broad terms was a response to the threat of NATO enlargement. Misrepresentations of this conflict led directly to the Ukraine crisis.” (p. 40)

Russian troops in the 2008-2009 Georgian War. [Source:]

“The perceived promise of NATO membership granted to Georgia and Ukraine at the Bucharest Summit on April 2-4, 2008 raised the stakes on all sides. Ukraine’s non-bloc status is enshrined in its constitution, yet this seemed to matter little to advocates of enlargement. The summit radicalized the Russian position, with Putin strengthening the military, diplomatic, and aid links with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Equally, Bucharest endowed the Georgians with what turned out to be ill-founded optimism that they had, even if informally, come under Western protection. Saakashvili apparently sabotaged all attempts to de-escalate the growing conflict not only between Tbilisi and its two breakaway regions, but also between Tbilisi and Moscow. The Russian action, very simply, can be called ‘the war to stop NATO enlargement.’ It was an issue of existential security importance for the country, and in that light, Russian actions can be considered defensive. However, instead of drawing the appropriate lessons, the ferocious propaganda put out by the Saakashvili regime about ‘Russian aggression’ shaped Western perceptions. The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, visited Kyiv and pledged Britain’s support, dooming the country to become the next epicenter of the artificially constructed struggle for mastery in Europe.” (p. 47)


The tension between a continental vision of European security and what appeared to be the inexorable enlargement of NATO prepared the stage for the Ukrainian confrontation of 2014 that was, as Stephen Cohen repeatedly warned, two steps from another Cuban missile crisis and three steps from World War III. Greater Europe and continental approaches to the management of European affairs were dismissed as the ‘Gaullist heresy’, and discussion was thereby rendered illegitimate. Atlanticism became the new ideology to contain Russia. (p. 223)

Here, Sakwa identifies Saakashvili as a useful propagandist for Atlantic interests, he writes:

“Militancy is further fostered by a range of politicians and public activists who continue the ‘Russophobe’ tradition of the 19th century, when the Polish question after the failed uprising of 1830 allowed Russia to be framed as an irredeemable despotism. The role played by Poland in the nineteenth century now looks set to be taken by Ukraine in the twenty-first. Let Saakashvili speak for this group, since he distills the axiology of the war party.”

Richard Sakwa [Source:]

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, published on June 22 2014 under the title “The Tasks Ahead for Ukraine’s New President,” Saakashvili argued:

“Poroshenko can deal with Russia only with Western help. What we have observed recently is a major international discrepancy; Russia is weak, but it has a strong will to pursue adventurist policies. The West is much stronger but cannot agree on a unified response, and thereby is projecting weakness. Mr Putin knows he is vulnerable, and this makes him more willing to exploit his window of opportunity. The West knows well what Mr Putin’s vulnerabilities are, but the European Union and the U.S. have been unwilling to endure even a minimum of pain to exploit them.”

Protesters have held mass demonstrations calling for Mr Saakashvili’s release. [Source:]

Sakwa continues his assessment of Saakashvili as a Russophobic belligerent:

“Here is the voice of war to the end of time to bring Russia to heel, irrespective of the cost. Such a policy, whose discourse is redolent of the dangers of appeasement, standing up to bullies and other anachronisms, threatens to turn the eastern part of Europe into the wastelands already created in the Middle East and North Africa.”

House of Lords Hearing on Georgia

Turning now to the “questions to the government” session conducted in the House of Lords on February 27th. Here is an abbreviated abstract of the issues raised to the State of Georgia.

Chairing the session was Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Minister. He opened by raising the issue of the ongoing imprisonment of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, claiming that his incarceration was illegitimate.

Lord Goldsmith [Source:]

Lord Harries of Pentregarth responded, initially by advocating that Georgia be brought deeper within the European sphere of influence, after which he expressed his concern regarding the treatment Saakashvili was receiving in prison and his current state of health. (Perhaps he would do better to consider the treatment that Julian Assange has been enduring over a decade now)

Lord Harries of Pentregarth [Source:]

Lord Goldsmith responded in concurrence with the previous speaker, stressing the importance of the British Government’s support for Georgia’s broader European and NATO aspirations.

Lord Howell [Source:]

Next in line here was Lord Howell, who cited the usual litany of accusations against Russia regarding its actions in creating tension and instability, not only in Georgia but also in Moldova and Sudan as part of Russia’s expansionist agenda.

Lord Goldsmith responded, continuing the thread of this narrative of Russia’s widespread influence in bringing about instability in the region, making reference to the “de facto authorities” of the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (There are certain parallels to be drawn here regarding the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas.)


Following on from this was Lord Wallace of Saltaire who questioned the legality of vehicular traffic passing across the borders of Georgia and Russia, claiming that this was in breach of the sanctions that have been imposed according to “international law” and that it was crucial that democracy, Western style, was restored to Georgia. In the same vein, Lord Balfe emphasized a need for Georgia to conduct its parliamentary affairs in line with Western “standards of democracy.”

In response, Lord Goldsmith reiterated his exhortations, pressing for “progress and reform” in line with Georgia’s EU and NATO aspirations and that “discussions” were ongoing with regard to such Atlantic objectives, a view which was echoed by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen who expressed his desire that Georgia should move quickly to become part of the Euro-Atlantic family.

Lord Robertson of Port Ellen [Source:]

Lord Goldsmith responded, explaining that the UK is continuing its discussions with the Georgian government regarding such objectives, but he did not go as far as explaining exactly the nature and scope of such activities.

Next was Lord Carlile of Berriew who expressed his dismay at the “abandonment” of the “rule of law” standards in Georgia which, he claimed, threaten the business and economic interests of the region.

Yet again, Lord Goldsmith responded by reasserting the efforts to bring Georgia to achieve its Euro-Atlantic aspirations by further integration with the EU and NATO alliances.

Finally, Baroness Smith of Basildon expressed her most profound concern about the treatment meted out to LGBT groups and gay rights “pride parades” which were being threatened by the malign influence of Russia.

Baroness Smith of Basildon [Source:]

To conclude here, this was a cross-party consensus, where both Labour and Tory Lords were of one voice in condemning Russia as a malign influence, a violator of human rights, and which displays a dangerous predilection toward expanding its empire throughout the rest of Europe.

However, one could consider things from a wider context here. One could ask whether the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline by the U.S.-UK and Norway, serves as a convenient distraction from the possibility of Georgia being opened up as yet another flank with a view toward “overstretching” the Special Military Operation. We have seen the overthrow of governments by the Western powers in the form of outright violent military interventions such as Iraq and Libya. We have also seen “coups d’état” achieved by the expedient of “color revolutions.”

In fact it was the “Rose Revolution” which was a nonviolent change of power that occurred in Georgia in November 2003. The event was brought about by widespread protests over the disputed parliamentary elections and culminated in the resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze, which marked the end of the Soviet-era leadership in the country. It derives its name from the climactic moment, when demonstrators led by none other than Mikheil Saakashvili stormed the Parliament session with red roses in hand.

We also have witnessed the “Lawfare Coups” where bogus affidavits are served, such as those that deposed Brazilian President Lula and saw him jailed on trumped-up charges, as happened also in Argentina and Peru.

However, in this case we are looking at a “diplomatic coup” whereby, through the “benevolent influence” of the British Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, it appears that Georgia continues to be groomed as a prospective member of the European Union and yet another member of NATO on the borders of Russia.

And again we must be reminded of the warning made by President Putin in Munich in 2007 and ponder this question: Are the innocent civilians of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be sacrificed on the altar of U.S. hegemony? ... -be-afoot/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Thu Mar 23, 2023 2:25 pm

Discussing the Xi visit to Moscow with Norway’s Glenn Diesen

It is a testimony to the professionalism and also to the prestige of Press TV, Iran’s English language international broadcaster, that it invites and succeeds in putting on air a variety of genuine experts in international affairs who just happen to have academic credentials no less impressive than the propagandist experts who are invited onto the BBC or Euronews. I have in mind, in particular, my fellow panelist on last night’s program “Spotlight,” Glenn Diesen, Professor of Political Science at the University of South-Eastern Norway in Oslo. You will note, as well, that Press TV is assembling an ever growing team of foreign correspondents, including the lady journalist in Moscow who comments on the State Visit of President Xi from Red Square.

Diesen and I have come at the question of what may have been achieved during the Xi visit to Moscow from rather different analytic angles. I hope that the viewer will profit from these differences.

In closing, I wish to add a still different perspective on the State Visit that I found on last night’s Evening with Vladimir Solovyov talk show which is broadcast by Russian state television’s Pervy Kanal and may be accessed here in the West via . What they chose to talk about confirms my observation in my latest published essay that there was a wall of silence around these Russian-Chinese meetings, both those of the working groups at ministerial level and those of the two leaders, tête-à-tête. The program moderator and his guest panelists never intimated that they were as clueless about the content of these meetings as Diesen and myself. Instead they chose to focus on the body language of Xi during his entire stay in Russia, meaning his warmth, his smiles, and the extraordinary length of time that he devoted to face to face meetings with Putin behind closed doors, which came to more than 5 hours. It was assumed that during this time they were not playing cards or discussing sports but focused on the ‘who does what when’ joint contingency planning for the further evolution of the war in and about Ukraine. That surely must have been what alarmed Washington the most these past several days. It is what left John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, speechless before journalists when he was asked yesterday to comment on the talks.

Surely the best observations made on the Solovyov show were those by the youthful and energetic resident Sinologist, who has greatest expertise in translating the highly stylized public behavior of Chinese leaders into terms we laymen can understand. He picked up a word here or there, a translation or mistranslation by Xi’s official interpreter, and he explained that Xi put the present meeting in a hundred year time frame, going back to the period of the Russian Revolution of 1917 which coincidentally occurred in close timing with the Chinese revolution that overthrew the Empire. Xi, in his words, sees this meeting as setting the world on a new, multipolar order for the coming hundred years, that is to say as having epochal ramifications. The plans announced at this meeting for further joint positions on developing Chinese-Russian managed international organizations amount to a wholly new commitment to act on behalf of interests that go beyond its own selfish position and to work hand-in-hand with a partner, in this case Russia, for mutual benefit.

Of course, these observations may be just blah, blah. But one other remark by this same Sinologist has meat on the bones. After conceding that what he was about to say was just a personal opinion, he said that the idea that China is not giving Russia military assistance is nonsense. The EU’s plans to purchase and ship to Ukraine one million artillery shells in the coming weeks surely prompted China to prepare one million artillery shells for Russia. And the panelist went on to say: ‘you can be sure these shells have already reached the front lines in Donbas.’

Finally, in support of his argument that the meeting was very important even if we do not know much about its content, he pointed out that Xi did not have to come to Russia so early. To avoid angering the Americans, he could have postponed it one or more times. But instead he chose to make a direct challenge to the Americans and to make this very first trip outside of China following his re-election to come and see ‘his friend Vladimir.’

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023 ... nn-diesen/


Russia Writes Off 20 Billion In Debt To African Countries

40 African countries attend the plenary session "Russia - Africa in a multipolar world" in Moscow. Mar. 20, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@ItsMutai

Published 20 March 2023

The International Parliamentary Conference "Russia - Africa in a multipolar world" has brought together 40 African nations in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia has written off debts of African states worth more than 20 billion dollars.

Putin's comments came on the occasion of the International Parliamentary Conference "Russia - Africa in a Multipolar World," where the Russian President said that the volume of mutual trade "reached almost $18 billion by the end of last year."

In this regard, the President added that the volume of trade between Russia and African countries will benefit from "the more vigorous transition to national currencies in financial settlements and the establishment of new transport and logistics chains."

On the occasion, Putin said that in case the Black Sea grain agreement is not extended, Russia will supply food to needy African nations free of charge.

"We are convinced that Africa will become one of the leaders of the new emerging multipolar world order," Putin said, and added that the role of the African continent in international affairs is steadily growing.

Russia and African countries, along with many states of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, "defend the traditional moral norms and social principles of our peoples, and oppose the neocolonial ideology imposed from abroad," the Russian President said, pointing to the global majority stance against neocolonial ideology.

Putin expressed Russia's commitment to work together with Africa "to strengthen fair and equal interstate relations and improve mechanisms of mutually beneficial economic cooperation." ... -0015.html


A Good And Righteous Proxy War Wouldn’t Need Such Cartoonish PR

On the Agency of Former Soviet Republics
Originally published: American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord (ACURA) on March 21, 2023 by Pietro Shakarian (more by American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord (ACURA)) (Posted Mar 23, 2023)

The ongoing war in Ukraine has been framed in multiple ways by multiple commentators of international affairs. Depending on one’s point of view, it could be characterized as a war between Russia and Ukraine, a proxy war between Russia and NATO, or a proxy war between Russia and a U.S.-backed West. The latter two perspectives anchor the war in the larger context of the gradual deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations since the high point at the end of the Cold War. In this framework, most scholars who adhere to this position perceive the expansion of NATO as a key reason for the deterioration and eventual break-down of ties between Moscow and Washington.

Although this position is amply supported by a substantial body of evidence, there are those who question it on the basis of excluding the agency of Ukraine. By framing the war and its origins entirely within the larger context of U.S.-Russia relations, these individuals contend, “does it not erase or mitigate the independent agency of Ukraine?” Similarly, those who adhere to this argument contend that Ukraine should be able to join NATO if it so freely chooses. The argument is applicable beyond Ukraine and, in different contexts, has been applied to various other former Soviet republics—Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, etc.

The response given to such arguments is usually that, yes, Ukraine (for example) has independent agency, but NATO membership is not, as the historian Stephen F. Cohen used to say, a fraternity or sorority, let alone the American Association of Retired People. Not anyone can join. The membership of the country must enhance the security of the other member states, not imperil it. A similar response, employed by John Mearsheimer, contends that while these countries do have agency, their interests have to take a back seat to the larger aim of averting a cataclysmic nuclear clash between the superpowers. Such was the case with Fidel Castro’s Cuba when it had to relinquish the Soviet missiles from its island as a necessary part of defusing of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

While such arguments are fully valid, an equally compelling response to the agency question, and one that speaks much more directly to the people of the post-Soviet space, is the fact that former Soviet republics like Ukraine are usually compelled into such a difficult geopolitical position by external forces that do not have the interests of the people at heart. Again, this argument applies beyond Ukraine and, in different contexts, extends variously to Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and other ex-Soviet states.

The external forces in these cases are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based out of numerous Western countries, especially the United States. This is not to say that all Western-based NGOs exert some sort of nefarious influence in the region. However, certain NGOs have clearly used (or abused) the goodwill of several post-Soviet governments in order to advance larger geopolitical aims. These include the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Open Society Foundation, the Eurasia Foundation, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Republic Institute (IRI), among many others. In the 30-year period since the dissolution of the USSR, such organizations have taken full advantage of the acute socioeconomic conditions that emerged in these countries, with little or no regard for their independent agency, their national histories, or the longstanding economic, cultural, and personal ties that bind them together.

As a result of the loss of jobs, inter-republican economic ties, and the significant disruptions that occurred from haphazard market “reforms,” many citizens of these societies have gravitated toward these NGOs as sources of economic opportunity. Still others have fallen under the sway of the messaging of these organizations, which have a clear geopolitical imperative—to diminish Russia’s political and cultural presence in the post-Soviet space, with the objective of preventing any sort of restoration of economic, political, or person-to-person connections. Another, much more sinister aim, made all too painfully evident by the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, is the effort on the part of these NGOs, in collusion with the Washington war party, to use these republics as geopolitical bludgeons against Russia, at the terrible expense of their own citizens.

Equipped with substantial budgets and a savvy understanding of soft power and social media, these same NGOs also know the value of marketing. If large majorities of Ukrainians, Armenians, Georgians, and others might have opposed taking an overtly anti-Russian, pro-NATO stance in 1992 or 1998, then these NGOs work constantly to change public opinion, manipulating attitudes and manufacturing consent until the desired results are achieved. These newfound “desires” for NATO are then represented as being just as natural as the Caucasus mountains or the wheat fields of the Ukrainian steppe. To deny NATO, the NGOniks declare, would be to deny the long-awaited wish of the narod of the post-Soviet space to join the Western military alliance and purchase expensive military weaponry.

The historical periods of Khrushchev’s Thaw and Gorbachev’s glasnost underscore the indisputable historical fact that the countries of the former Soviet Union have a rich history of endogenous democratization efforts. Yet, the post-Soviet NGO class represents democratization as only being possible through the “enlightened” influence of the United States and other Western societies. To allow these countries to find their way to democracy independently is considered an anathema, a rejection of “European values,” and indicative of “democratic backsliding,” to use a very demeaning term all too common in the neocolonial lexicon of post-Soviet NGO-speak. This line of thinking is horribly Hobbesian, assuming that without the “civilizing influence” of Washington, these “poor people” would revert to a “natural state” of “barbarism” and “Cyrillic autocracy” (as if use of the Latin alphabet indicates “civilization” and “democracy”).

With the discreet charm of used car salesmen, the representatives of these NGOs also extol markets and hyper-individualistic neoliberal values, while ignoring genuine social concerns like poverty and joblessness. In terms of the historical memory of the Soviet experience, those affiliated with NGOs in former Soviet republics often emphasize the “totalitarian model,” asserting that there were virtually no differences between the various Soviet leaders and their contexts (e.g., that there was “no difference” between Lenin and Stalin, or even Stalin and Gorbachev).

Likewise, the NGO emissaries often represent the October Revolution of 1917 not as a genuine revolution (which it was, as the research of Alexander Rabinowitch and others highlight), but as a “Bolshevik coup.” In this context, they also often downplay the major Soviet-era achievements of these republics, be they artistic, scientific, or economic. Furthermore, these NGOs emphasize the (incorrect) narrative (adopted as truth by the U.S. foreign policy establishment) that the Washington “won” the Cold War and single-handedly defeated the Soviet Union, the dissolution of which they framed as “inevitable.” Yet, as former U.S. ambassador Jack Matlock regularly reminds us, this was simply not the case. However, if one questions these narratives, they are attacked for peddling “Russian disinformation.”

Rather than reflecting the desires of the societies of the post-Soviet space, these Western-based NGOs usually subordinate wishes for genuine independence to the geopolitical objectives of Washington’s war class. In this respect, they only succeed in acting as disruptors, upsetting the ability of countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia from developing genuinely democratic societies and truly independent agency on the international stage. The recent controversy in Georgia over the “foreign agent” bill is vividly illustrative of the roles of these NGOs as “disruptors” preventing these countries from achieving actual independence and democracy. Rather than indicating a “roll-back of democracy” or a “contradiction of European aspirations,” the aim of Tbilisi was to move toward a genuinely independent and transparent democratic society. After all, there is a reason why the “foreign agent” bill was based on the example of FARA in the United States.

Above all, by forcing the post-Soviet states to make a hard geopolitical “civilizational choice” between Russia and the West, these NGOs are being incredibly unfair to the peoples of these societies. In this regard, they deny them the true agency and independence that they genuinely desire, barring them from the right to imbibe in the fruits of both sides as independent actors. Moreover, the professed NGO aspiration of “democratization” has resulted in the opposite intended effect. Across the former Soviet space today, from Russia to Ukraine, one encounters far more illiberal governments than liberal, democratic ones. Indeed, the interference of external organizations into the endogenous political development of these states has led to a greater de-democratization throughout the region.

Perhaps most ironically and tragically, the professed zeal for “democratic enlightenment” has also led to a de-democratization of the United States itself. In the drive to “contain Russia,” the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower once eloquently warned against has now joined forces with corporate interests and a pervasive political culture of righteous conformity to erode the basic liberties upon which the country was founded. The results bode poorly for America’s image abroad and only succeed in setting a bad example for the rest of the world, including the post-Soviet space. Even more alarmingly, they also have the potential to bring humanity perilously close to nuclear catastrophe. If the deafening silence on the journalism of Sy Hersh is any indication of the state of American democracy, then it becomes clear that the chief priority of Washington lawmakers should be fixing democracy at home rather than searching for monsters abroad. ... republics/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Fri Mar 24, 2023 2:32 pm

How the close partnership with China is changing Russia’s domestic politics

Earlier today Russian state television interrupted normal programming to provide live coverage of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s report to the State Duma on the Government’s performance over the past months and its priorities for the future. This was followed by a period of Q&A during which Duma deputies representing each of the parties in the lower house were given about 10 minutes to respond to the report and to make their own statements or to pose questions.

It is commonplace in the West to assume that the State Duma is a rubber stamp legislative body, that there are no Opposition parties, and that Russia is run by one monolithic party called United Russia. That is because only individuals or groups totally hostile to Putin would be recognized as genuine Opposition by the West, and there are no such individuals or groups in the Russian State Duma.

However, as I have long argued, the jockeying for position among the Duma parties is real and is pursued with vigor. In past presidential elections, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in particular went after power, even though it has eluded them time and again. And despite all of the attempts by the ruling party to break up and siphon away Communist voters, even today the CPRF probably accounts for 20% or more of the general electorate.

With the start of the Special Military Operation, the question of relations between all the Duma parties and the Executive Branch of government has changed, as one might expect in a situation where the country faces an existential threat and the patriotic mood dictates solidarity among the ruling elites. This plain fact was mentioned by each speaker. But it does not mean that they do not vie to influence policy in accordance with their different social, economic and other beliefs while swearing allegiance to the President and his cabinet.

In this respect, I paid special attention to the little speech delivered by Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party.

Zyuganov has headed the party since the days of Yeltsin, whom he almost defeated for the presidency in 1996. His loss then was the consequence of massive irregularities for which Yeltsin’s American advisers and oligarch money bore special responsibility. However, in the face of this dirty politics, Zyuganov chose not to challenge the results and not to put at risk Russia’s still quite immature democracy. He remains to this day a remarkably dignified figure in Russian politics and defender of the country’s working classes. He also was and is a defender of Russian national interests in the world, while remaining an internationalist in outlook, true to the Communist Party tradition.

Several years ago, when I was invited as a foreign expert to attend a conference in Moscow on parliamentarism with invited deputies from what we used to call the Third World, mainly Africans in fact, I watched with great interest how Zyuganov circulated in the cocktail reception. The man was ‘born again,’ smiling broadly and enjoying the kind of event with the kind of people who were regular invitees in the good old Soviet days.

It was this Zyuganov who spoke yesterday in the Duma when given the microphone in the Q&A session with Mishustin. He spoke hurriedly, because he had a lot to say about how the war effort required a mobilization of the home front and “socialization” of the economy. As he noted, social solidarity cannot be assured when half the country has been left behind economically and takes home just 20,000 rubles per month (250 euros at the present exchange rate). Moreover the budget needs cannot be met without taxing the super wealthy appropriately.

But the most interesting point Zyuganov had to make related directly to the visit of Chinese President Xi on the first three days of this week. The outcome of that visit he saw in the historic commitment of Russia and China to work in tandem to create a multipolar world order, while ensuring the prosperity of their peoples and the flourishing of their respective “civilizations.” In this context, he urged Mishustin to consider that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has long had special relations with the fraternal Communist Party in China. His people know officials in the provinces across China. And his party stands ready to advise the Government on developing close relations with China.

When approached by a television journalist after the parliamentary session, Zyuganov repeated his point about the coming “socialization” of the Russian economy, reintroducing practices that had proven successful in the days of the Soviet Union.

This might sound like the wishful thinking of a dyed-in-the-wool Leftist living in the NeoLiberal Russia that Yeltsin ushered in and Putin never really ushered out. But given the exigencies of war, the Russian economy is in fact being remade not just by enormous orders placed with the military industrial complex for munitions and weapons systems , but also through massive subsidies being held out to businesses to produce subassemblies and components essential to replace now sanctioned supplies for ships, aircraft and whatnot.

These changing realities in the domestic economy align very nicely with an ever closer Chinese partnership. One had to note Putin’s remarks to President Xi at the very start of the State Visit, when the two sat in armchairs and exchanged pleasantries in front of the photographers. Putin congratulated Xi on his recent reelection which he said reflected the high appreciation of the Chinese people for what the country has achieved under his stewardship. Putin went on to say that the economic achievements in China have been stunning, to the point that “one can envy them.”

In the couple of days since, Russian television journalists have expanded on that comment as praise for the competence of the entire Chinese political and economic management. All of this points to the “socialization” of Russia that Zyuganov so hopes for.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023 ... -politics/


The 'Junior Partner' Meme Gives No Insight To Real Changes

It is quite interesting how 'western' political memes are created and spread.

China’s New Vassal - How the War in Ukraine Turned Moscow Into Beijing’s Junior Partner - Aug 9, 2022 - Foreign Affairs
China used to be Russia’s junior partner. Ukraine changed that. - Feb 24, 2023 - MSNBC
Russia Becoming China's 'Junior' Partner - Bolton - Mar 13, 2023 - MENAFN
Fatalism is not an option for addressing China-Russia relations - Mar 17, 2023 - Brookings
> China’s leaders appear guided by three top objectives in their approach to Russia. The first is to lock Russia in for the long term as China’s junior partner. <
White House knocks Russia as China’s ‘junior partner’ - Mar 21, 2023 - Washington Post
> Is Russia now a client state of China, a reporter asked National Security Council spokesman John Kirby at the daily White House briefing. “They certainly are the junior partner,” Kirby replied, a line sure to echo inside the Kremlin and at Chinese Communist Party headquarters. <

From an older piece in Foreign Affairs to an MSNBC opinion writer, then through warmonger Bolton and the librul Brookings think tank to the White House.

And from there it is all over the synchronized media:

Meet China’s ‘junior partner’ - Mar 21, 2023 - Politico
Xi Jinping-Vladimir Putin talks highlight Russia’s role as ‘junior partner’ to China - Mar 21, 2023 - Financial Times
A Slim Rhetorical Wedge Could Drive China and Russia Apart - Mar 22, 2023 - DefenseOne
U.S. officials must skip no opportunity to remind Moscow that it is Beijing's junior partner.
A new cold war with Russia as junior partner and the US as a ghost of itself - Mar 22, 2023 - Digital Journal
Xi's visit to Russia was humbling for Putin and showed how much China is dominant, experts say - Mar 22, 2023 - Insider
Blinken dismisses Xi-Putin ties as ‘marriage of convenience’ - Mar 23, 2023 - AlJazeerah
Blinken said Russia is “very much the junior partner” in the relationship and noted that China had so far declined to provide weapons to Moscow for its war in Ukraine.
China's drive for a new global order leaves Putin in the back seat - Mar 23, 2023 - NBC News
> But what Xi’s visit mostly underscored, experts say, is how imbalanced the China-Russia relationship is becoming.

“It certainly shows Russia needing Beijing far more than the other way around,” said Ja Ian Chong, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, who specializes in Chinese foreign policy. <

But is this really true? Is there really a 'junior partner' in the Russian Chinese relations? Does Russia really need China more than China needs Russia?

Well, who of two, Russia and China, has all the stuff that is needed for a modern life?

I mean energy, minerals, commodities, foodstuff plus the abilities to retrieve and process all of them into useful products. It is obvious that Russia has all this stuff right within its borders. China, on the other side, is mostly importing these things through rather fragile sea routes. China has a naval problem that can only be solved with Russian weapons. So who is really in need of whom?

China has obviously more people than Russia. But for all the Chinese riches these are still less well off than the people in Russia.

On purchase power parity base (PPP) Russia's GDP per capita in 2022 was $31,962 while China's was $21,291. When the Russian GDP per capita is 50% higher than the Chinese one can it really be a 'junior partner' in this?

I don't think so. I believe that Russia and China see themselves as equals. That is certainly true for the relation between President Putin and President Xi. Two equals who together do great things:

As he left a state reception at the Kremlin on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping turned to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and said the world was undergoing changes “the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years.”
“And we are the ones driving these changes together,” he said.

“I agree,” Putin replied, shaking hands with the Chinese leader in an exchange that was captured on camera.

A hundred years ago the world had just seen off a big war. Four big empires, the Russian, German, Austria-Hungarian and the Ottoman had suddenly vanished. The U.S. had stepped onto the international scene. In China the Kuomintang and the Communists founded the United Front to beat the rampant warlords the imperialists had created. (Russia helped with that.)

Those were indeed times of great changes. We now see similar changes in this word. The U.S. empire and its proxies are in decline. The BRICS countries, led by Russia and China and rising, now have a bigger GDP(PPP) than the G7.


Times have changed. The arrogance of the 'west' has ruined its own position in the world. A multitude of other powers have established themselves and are taking over. Russia and China together will see to that.

Can the 'west' do something about this. I could. If it became humble and truly aware of its own position and of those of the rest of the world. But I for now see no way that it is going to happen. Certainly not anytime soon. Certainly not as long as its political discussions are made up from unfounded memes.

Posted by b on March 23, 2023 at 16:18 UTC | Permalink ... .html#more
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Sat Mar 25, 2023 2:27 pm

Belarusians pay tribute to victims of Khatyn massacre on its 80th anniversary
During World War II, on March 22, 1943, Nazi troops and collaborators burned down Khatyn village near Minsk and killed its 149 inhabitants

March 23, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch

Delegation of the Communist Party of Belarus (CPB) and the League of Communist Youth (LKM) in front of the statue of the Unconquered Man at the Khatyn Memorial. (Photo: via CPB)

On Wednesday, March 22, progressive groups in Belarus paid tribute to the victims of World War II’s Khatyn massacre on its 80th anniversary. Delegations from political parties including the Communist Party of Belarus (CPB), the Federation of the Trade Unions, youth groups including the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) and the League of Communist Youth (LKM), the Belarusian Women’s Union, the Belarusian Public Association of Veterans, and others laid flowers at the monument to the Unconquered Man and the Eternal Flame at the Khatyn memorial complex near Minsk to mark the occasion. Several ministers and government officials also paid tribute to those who died, as part of the state-led commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the massacre that took place on March 22, 1943.

The Khatyn massacre was a horrific demonstration of the brutality of the Nazis and those who collaborated with them on the eastern front during World War II. On March 22, 1943, in retaliation for an attack on a German Nazi convoy by Soviet partisans, almost the entire population of Khatyn village in Lahoysk district of Minsk was massacred by Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 (composed of Ukrainian nationalists) with the backing of the Nazi troops from Dirlewanger Waffen-SS. According to reports, 149 people—including children—were killed and their houses were burned to the ground. Following the war, several of those who participated in the massacre—Nazis and collaborators both—were prosecuted, and some were later executed.

In 1969, the memorial complex in Khatyn was dedicated as the national war memorial of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The eternal flame in the memorial represents Belarusians who died in the war, and the wall with niches represents those who died in concentration camps. The ‘Cemetery of Villages’ in the memorial complex, with its 185 tombs, represents the villages in Belarus burned down by the Nazis and their collaborators during the war. The statue of the Unconquered Man at the memorial depicts Yuzif Kaminsky, the 56-year-old village smith, who survived the Khatyn massacre carrying his dying son in his arms.

On Wednesday, after paying tribute at the Khatyn memorial, the Communist Party of Belarus (CPB) stated that “149 residents of Khatyn, including 75 children under 16 years old, were burned on March 22, 1943 by the perpetrators. Today, probably, there is no person who would not know and not hear the word ‘Khatyn’. The name of a small Belarusian village became a symbol of the tragedy of the people of Belarus during the Great Patriotic War.”

On the occasion, CPB also screened the documentary film titled ‘People with Black Souls,’ made by Belarusian filmmakers ID Gursky and PP Shamshur in 1962, which depicts the role of Belarusian collaborators in World War II.

On Wednesday, Alexander Lukyanov from the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) said, “today, the whole country has come to bow to the memory of the unconquered. We are an unconquered people, and today, we have every right, standing on this sacred Khatyn land for every Belarusian, to appeal to the international community to never again allow—not only in Belarus, but also in other countries—a similar catastrophe.” ... niversary/


The Georgian Protests: Another Chapter in the Color Revolution Playbook?
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on MARCH 24, 2023
Stavroula Pabst


Recent Georgian protests rejected foreign agents’ legislation proposals as undemocratic, but a closer look suggests ongoing western meddling according to the intelligence community’s infamous “color revolution” playbook.

Recent protests rocked Georgia’s capital Tbilisi against a duo of proposed foreign agents bills, which would have required groups and individuals with significant funding abroad to register as foreign agents. Although similar legislation is law in the United States and under consideration in the European Union, protestors decried the bills as exceptionally anti-democratic, obstructive to Georgian civil society, and even as pro-Russian.

While the Georgian government has withdrawn the bills under international pressure, western-backed groups behind the EU- and Ukraine-flag-studded protests have often emphasized the demonstrations are about a higher cause: Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future. Opposition and Pro-European Droa Party spokesperson Giga Lemonjala, for example, said amidst the bills’ withdrawal that “[w]e are ready to go on with the protests because it’s…about Georgian European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations…Georgia should be a member of the European Union.”

The Georgian opposition has demanded Parliament’s resignation, calling for early elections. Although the protests have effectively dissipated, Tbilisi’s atmosphere remains uneasy, especially as NATO’s proxy war continues in nearby Ukraine.

From afar, the protests may appear organic; indeed, some likely attended to express legitimate grievances against their government, and many genuinely desire Georgia’s closer alignment with Europe. But the Georgian protests share a striking resemblance with what’s increasingly understood as the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) color revolution “playbook,” where apparently authentic, but actually western-concocted, popular movements drive policy and even regime change. In Georgia’s case, government legislative attempts at increased oversight on foreign influences in civil society were quickly met with mass resistance from western and western-influenced groups in Georgia and internationally, resulting in the foreign agent bills’ disposal.

In Tbilisi’s Protests, Western-Funded Groups Take Center Stage

Despite its frequent utilization, the color revolution tactic remains popular because it marries the intelligence community’s “soft-power” tactics, which largely allow their operations to continue un-scrutinized, with popular movements that may genuinely appear as the peoples’ will. While the operations often pose as the vanguard of “democracy,” or “human rights,” such efforts in fact damage or undermine the political independence of the states they target, barring them from sovereignty and dignity.

And although Georgia’s recent demonstrations have largely concluded sans regime change, they’ve emulated the apparently popular movements that kicked off previous western “color revolutions” including in their widespread western support, promotion, and funding. Despite their brevity, early March’s youth-heavy Georgian protests circulated heavily in mainstream media circles. And prominent western-aligned and funded human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both released statements against the Georgian bills, decrying them as anti-free speech and undemocratic.

Considering the demonstrations’ widespread western coverage, it’s unsurprising that groups supporting or otherwise promoting prominent Georgian protest sentiments share a common denominator: western, and especially American, funding. Among the most prominent funders is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US backed-organization established as a CIA front group, which has financially supported many organizations operating in Georgia. For example, the Shame Movement, which describes itself on Twitter as a “voice of freedom fighters and democracy builders across Georgia,” received over $140,000 from the NED in 2021. The Shame Movement heavily promoted the protests as they struck Tbilisi in March, tweeting a myriad of protest photos and updates.

And Georgia-based media organizations promoting both the protests and a larger pro-European sentiment, such as Eurasianet and iFact, also receive significant western funds, with iFact receiving $50,121 from the NED in 2021. While fellow Georgian outlet Open Caucasus Media, or OC Media, claims to produce “fierce, independent journalism,” the donors’ blurb on their “Who We Are” page reveals significant assistance from western-aligned and foreign government entities, including the NED, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and the US, Czech and Swiss Embassies in Tbilisi.

Like previous color revolutions’ messaging, these western-backed media organizations repeatedly call for substantial governmental changes and even assistance from abroad. Responding to the protests, for example, OC Media’s editorial board emphasized the need for international intervention, positing that “[t]he Russian-style foreign agent law…could spell the beginning of the end for Georgia’s experiment with democracy. Only decisive action, in Georgia and from abroad, can prevent Georgia’s descent into authoritarianism.”

Helping mount pressure, further, employees at this myriad of western-backed institutions and media groups, such as members of the US-backed Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and OC Media, were also especially vocal Georgian protest supporters on Twitter.

US officials also condemned Georgia’s foreign agent bills, emphasizing the protests in Georgia must go on undeterred. Tweets by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power, where Power proclaimed the new legislation “gravely threaten[ed] Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future,” circulated as protests grew. And State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, who’s also suggested Georgia’s future was “Euro-Atlantic,” even hinted sanctions were possible if protests in Georgia were repressed.

How Georgia’s Recent Protests Mirror Previous Color Revolutions

The Georgian protests’ clear western influence is not unique. Rather, today’s Georgian protests share an uncanny resemblance with the start of other US-backed color revolutions, such as Kiev’s 2014 Euromaidan, a western-backed uprising which swapped a more neutral President Viktor Yanukovich for US-favored President Petro Poroshenko, and Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution, which also saw regime change.

While the mainstream media portrayed Ukraine’s Euromaidan as a popular uprising for political realignment towards Europe, evidence suggests Washington jumpstarted both the protests and Ukraine’s subsequent regime change through soft-power projects and mass funding efforts. The NED funded a whopping 65 projects in Ukraine at the time; the late journalist Robert Parry described this project cluster as a “shadow structure” that could influence Ukraine’s policy choices. According to ex-US Agent Scott Rickard, moreover, US foreign aid agencies gave about 5 billion USD to various groups at Euromaidan’s forefront.

Although the Georgian protests have not led to regime change, their impact and widespread media coverage can be at least partially attributed to the multitude of civil society and media groups operating in Georgia, which, like Ukraine’s dozens of NED-backed organizations in 2014, are flush with western cash.

And Georgia’s own 2003 Rose Revolution, which prompted the resignation of Eduard Shevardnadze and installed Western-favored Mikheil Saakashvili into Georgia’s presidency, elucidates foreign-propped NGOs’ long-term role in Georgian civil society and political affairs. In fact, western-backed NGOs’ influence on the Rose Revolution’s course of events is widely recognized in the mainstream: former Georgian Foreign Minister and current President Salomé Zourabichvili even wrote in French Geopolitical Magazine Herodote in 2008 that NGOs’ work to “carry” the Rose Revolution uprisings translated to their greater influence in government:

These institutions were the cradle of democratization, notably the Soros Foundation … all the NGOs which gravitate around the Soros Foundation undeniably carried the revolution. However, one cannot end one’s analysis with the revolution and one clearly sees that, afterwards, the Soros Foundation and the NGOs were integrated into power.

Just as western-backed media organizations played major roles in the recent Georgia protests, media groups including Ukraine’s Hromadske (funded by groups including the NED, USAID, and the US Embassy in Ukraine) and Georgia’s Rustavi 2 (borne in the 1990s from western assistance from groups like USAID-funded Internews, Rustavi 2 later received USAID funds and support[1]), proved critical to the Euromaidan and Rose Revolution’s respective successes because they helped create the perception of widespread support for the uprisings and their respective goals. The prominent role western-backed media groups played in the recent Georgia protests suggests the elite have taken Euromaidan- and Rose Revolution era media successes into account.

In the wake of Georgia’s western-backed protests, finally, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s comments that Georgia’s denied repeated requests from Kiev to open a “second front” in the ongoing NATO proxy conflict are remarkable. Noting the development, which suggests significant war-time pressure on Tbilisi, Kit Klarenberg writes in MintPress News that “[o]ne can only speculate whether [Georgia’s incumbent party] Georgian Dream specifically pursued the foreign agent law in order to prevent the NED-sponsored installation of a government more amenable to opening a “second front” and imposing sanctions on Russia.”


While the protests have dissipated since the foreign agents bills’ disposal, their forceful appearance in Georgia elucidates how US- and western-backed groups can quickly muster influence over ongoing events when sovereign states feign resistance to their efforts. In this case, Georgia’s attempts to maintain sovereignty through additional controls over foreign-backed groups failed due to widespread, western-facilitated outrage that took similar form to previous “color revolutions’” respective beginnings.

And even as demonstrations dissolve, some western politicians’ statements only take the reins of Georgia’s future westward while further stirring hostilities with Russia. German Green Party MEP Viola von Cramon, for example, recently declared that “The Georgian Government is determined to sabotage Georgia’s European path. Thankfully people of Georgia are not taking it. There is no way back to the Russian swamp.”

But not all are happy with the recent pro-European protests. Albeit receiving little news coverage, counter-protestors in Tbilisi burned the EU flag in front of Georgia’s parliament building in mid-March, and anti-western demonstrations stormed the Georgian capital in response to the recent debacle.

All eyes should be on Georgia in the weeks to come for further developments. ... -playbook/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

User avatar
Posts: 8504
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm
Location: Turtle Island

Re: Russia today

Post by blindpig » Tue Mar 28, 2023 2:02 pm

Journalist Pavel Zarubin’s interview with Vladimir Putin, 25 March 2023

I normally pay very little attention to Russian television journalist Pavel Zarubin, who is best known as the co-host of a Sunday evening program called Moscow, Kremlin, Putin, which is broadcast in between two of the best known weekend shows on Rossiya 1, News of the Week with chief of all news programming Dmitry Kiselyov and Evening with Vladimir Solovyov, a political talk show that in the past I have often cited as an indicator of views held by Kremlin elites.

In general, my attention span for the two lead programs has suffered greatly in recent weeks. Kiselyov has extended his program to over two hours. It is simply too long and unfocused. Moreover, the war coverage, particularly the coverage of the material damage and injuries caused by Ukrainian artillery and rocket strikes on Donetsk city and nearby settlements, is painful to watch and very repetitive week after week. No one in the West cares at all about these Ukrainian inflicted atrocities, while for the Russian audience this raises embarrassing questions as to why, after more than a year of war, the Russian Army has been unable to destroy the Ukrainian positions within firing range of the capital of the Donetsk Republic.

As for Solovyov, he has become insufferable because of the way he bullies some of the very respectable experts who are his panelists. I think in particular of his hectoring one dean of international affairs at Moscow State University, an expert on the USA, whom he interrupts and loudly contradicts, not letting him finish a sentence. Meanwhile, Solovyov is very deferential to others of his guests, most notably RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan and Mosfilm general manager Karen Shakhnazarov. Solovyov is perpetuating the worst traditions of Russian talk shows, which were always a blood sport, though in the past it was foreign guests, from Ukraine or Poland or the USA, who took the fist on their chins. Solovyov should be taken off the air and his place should be ceded to the hosts of Sixty Minutes, who are more informative and more civilized. Many of the panelists on both shows are the same; indeed being a television panelist is probably a major source of income for these experts and would explain why they agree to suffer indignities on air.

As for Zarubin, I have systematically skipped his programs because he regularly plays the clown, telling the audience with a smirk that he will take us all behind the closed doors of the Kremlin to see how the President does his job. It is patently obvious that the substantive content of what goes on in the Kremlin is kept under seven seals and that Zarubin will present only useless tidbits, such as how Putin knots his tie or enjoys his breakfast. These crumbs from the table can only serve a personality cult, which I thought Putin had better judgment to discourage.

Be that as it may, today Rossiya 1 has broadcast a self-standing twenty-six minute interview that Zarubin conducted with Putin yesterday. Lo and behold, we see that this journalist can perform as a real professional when it suits him and his paymaster. His questions to Putin are important and obviously were reviewed with Vladimir Vladimirovich before they went before cameras because the answers have been meticulously prepared.

There is much here that our political and military leaders in the West would do well to study.

In what follows, I will first provide an abbreviated transcript of the interview in which I summarize the essence of the questions and answers. The translation is, of course, my own.

Second, I will point to one mainstream newspaper and a couple of television broadcasters who have presented to their audiences a commentary on an item of particular interest in this interview.

Finally, I will offer my own analysis of what is especially newsworthy in the interview.


Question: The West keeps saying it is supplying weapons to Kiev in response to what they call Russian aggression and to prepare Ukraine for a counter-attack. What is your evaluation of the military supplies being sent to Ukraine by Europe and NATO: the tanks, the one million artillery shells; and what about their plans to send fighter jets? Does this pose a real threat to Russia?

A: Of course, these present a threat to Russia. But let’s look in detail. One million shells for Ukraine. Is that a lot or little? Of course, it is a lot. But, in the leading NATO country, in the USA, according to the data we have, they have monthly production of 14,000-15,000 artillery shells. Meanwhile the Armed Forces of Ukraine are using up to 5,000 shells every 24 hours. Next year, in the USA they plan to produce 42,000 per month; and in 2025, 75,000. Still, in this year it is 15,000. As for us, the military industry of Russia produces much more. I don’t want to comment on the intentions of the Western suppliers. But here in Russia the military industry is expanding at a very fast rate, much faster than the West expected. So in the period during which the West supplies to Ukraine 1 million shells, we will produce more than three times as many. The Western supplies are an attempt to draw out the conflict. They are planning to send to Kiev 460 tanks, but here too the same story as with artillery shells. Russia will in this time produce 1,600 new and modernized tanks. The total number of tanks which Russia has will be more than 3 times what the Ukrainian army will have. I don’t talk about planes, because there the difference is several orders of magnitude. The result of the new shipments of arms to Kiev will only be to prolong the fighting, which is what they want, but as for outcomes they just exacerbate the tragedy.

Q : Guns or butter?

A: In the USA and in some NATO countries this will be the choice they face, but here in Russia we have budgeted to cover all of our preexisting infrastructure development, civilian residential construction, healthcare, education – we are not cutting back on anything. We have organized our economy so that there is no excessive militarization.

Q: the Ministry of Defense has announced they will supply to Kiev artillery shells with depleted uranium. Then in your meeting with Xi you said that in response Russia is considering sending tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Then the British insisted there is no danger in the depleted uranium munitions, they leave no radioactive traces.

A: That is not the case at all. These artillery shells are, of course, not weapons of mass destruction. But they do create radioactive dust and in this connection they belong to the category of most dangerous weapons. Experts agree that after use of these weapons in Yugoslavia, in Iraq the incidence of cancer in the civilian population rose many times over. And if we look at the use of these in Ukraine, where the residents are supposedly considered to be their own, they will nonetheless be exposed to these agents, and that will have an impact on the soil in the areas where they are used. So these weapons are very dangerous not only for combatants but also for the environment and for ordinary people living in these territories. Russia has the means to respond to this. We have literally hundreds of thousands of such artillery shells. Up to now, we have not used them.

As regards my talks with Alexander Grigor’evich Lukashenko, the decision to send tactical nuclear weapons there was prompted by the announcement from Britain on depleted uranium artillery shells. But without any reference to this latest development, he has long requested that we provide to Belarus tactical nuclear weapons. There is nothing unusual about this. The USA has done precisely the same for decades, supplying such weapons to its allies, NATO members: Turkey, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and Greece. And so we decided to do exactly the same, without violating in any way our obligations under the Non-ProliferationTreaty. We have helped the Belarus colleagues to reequip their jets to carry these tactical weapons. We have given over to Belarus our very effective missiles Iskander, which can also be a delivery vehicle. On 3 April we will start training the flight crews. And on 1 July we will complete the construction of a special storage base for these weapons.

Q: In your meeting with Chinese President Xi you announced that Russia will be trading in Yuan not only with China but with other countries. In the West, this was seen as an attack on the global status of the dollar. Are you doing that?

A: No. It is not true that we are attacking the dollar. We would use the dollar, but they do not let us have them. So we have to settle accounts in a currency that is acceptable to our business partners, and the Yuan is one such acceptable currency, all the more so as it is used by the IMF. They [the USA] themselves sawed away the branch on which they were sitting. By restricting the use of dollars on the basis of momentary considerations of a political nature, they have done harm to themselves. The fact that they froze our gold and currency reserves: the whole world was watching and thought about this, about just how reliable their American partner is. And they all came to the same conclusion: America is not reliable. And so we are pleased to agree with our commercial partners to trade in Yuan. The oil exporting countries in the Middle East also have said they want to settle accounts in Yuan. So we will gradually extend this, extend the use of all currencies that are reliable. Yes, we understand the present-day advantages of the dollar. There are limitations on all the currencies we use today, not only the Yuan. But all countries are interested in strengthening their national currency and all countries will move in this direction. So, without a doubt, this was a great mistake on the part of the American authorities.

Q: On the first day, we in the press pool were waiting outside the Kremlin for you and Xi to come out. It grew dark and only at 9 pm you emerged, after more than 4 hours together. What did you talk about for so long on that first day?

A: First we had a working supper. Then I invited Xi to come to my rooms in the Kremlin. Recently I have been spending time and spending nights in this Kremlin apartment. So we moved there and sitting next to the fireplace, we drank tea and talked about everything without being in a rush. We talked about the situation in world affairs, in their most varied aspects. The Chinese Chairman devoted a good deal of attention to the positive elements in the Chinese peace plan for Ukraine. By the way, it was at this time that we learned about the EU plans to send one million artillery shells to Ukraine. And the next day, as we were standing before the press we learned about the British plan to send depleted uranium shells to Kiev. It is as if this was done especially to interrupt our agreement. And so we see on one side the aggressive intentions of the West and on the other the peaceful resolution promoted by China. During these four hours we discussed Russian-Chinese relations in all aspects, above all in the economic sphere. China and Russia can complement one another. For China this is first of all with respect to hydrocarbons. China needs a reliable supplier and we can assure that. Since import from the dollar zone is closed to us, we don’t have any particular need for dollars.

We spoke a lot about economic cooperation and with the Chinese we will combine our efforts in technological areas, where each of us has well developed competitiveness in world markets.

The Chairman of the PRC is a very interesting talking partner. He is deeply immersed in international affairs, in the economy, in his own country and others including ours. He was well prepared. It is interesting to talk to him. I think we each got a lot of satisfaction out of this.

Q: Denmark has found an unidentified object near one of the gas pipelines and invited Gazprom to take part in investigation. Are we certain there will be a real investigation of the destruction of Nord Stream?

A: It will be difficult, very difficult to conduct a real investigation, though in the end what happened will be known. However, an American journalist who has become quite well known now in the world conducted an investigation and came to the conclusion that the explosion of the Nord Stream pipelines was organized by American intelligence agencies. I completely agree with such conclusions.

What has just happened with respect to Denmark: Gazprom found that 30 km from where the explosions took place, at a connection point of pipes, another vulnerable location, there is an unidentified object. This was photographed by our people who suppose it is an antenna for initiating an explosion. We informed the Danish authorities and asked to investigate this object together with other international experts in the supposition that maybe some more explosives are in the area which for some reason were not detonated. We were told that our participation was not necessary. Then we eventually got a diplomatic note from them that they studied the object, that it is not explosive. They could have added that “it is no longer explosive.” But at any rate there will not be further explosions.

They have invited the Nord Stream consortium to come and see, but not invited Russian specialists. However, there would not be any benefit for us now to be present. To be sure, our intention was not to find material to expose anyone but to ensure that there will be no further explosions.

Q: There have been massive demonstrations in France over the raising of the pension age. How do you view this considering that we also raised the pension age in Russia?

A: Firstly that is their internal affair in France. But of course we understand that many countries carry out reforms of this nature. It is hard to think of a country in our modern day world where this is not done given that life expectancy is rising everywhere and the number of pensioners is growing.

But there is a big difference between what we did in Russia and how they have proceeded in France. Firstly, we retained the five-year difference in the pension age of women and men. In France there is no such distinction. Second, we set a long time period for the transition – 10 years. This significantly relieves the burden on citizens. And finally, most importantly, we preserved all the privileges of taking retirement early. But in France, as far as I know, they did not do this. They liquidated all such privileges. Citizens of France saw this as excessively tough and unjust, because various forms of labor require different approaches to the question of going on pension.


Out of all the material in the interview, one item was picked up by the world press: Putin’s announcement of the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. On Euronews and BBC, we heard from retired NATO generals that this would give the Russians no practical advantages and would not affect the West’s readiness to respond to nuclear threats. By contrast, The Financial Times published a lengthy article that contained a lot of material which an objective reader could use to understand why the transfer was decided precisely now, though in its presentation by FT muddled cause and effect, as is very common in the propaganda texts that pass for journalism these days. We read the following:

The Russian president’s comments [on the placement of nuclear weapons in Belarus] came only days after he signed a joint statement with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in which Moscow and Beijing declared: ‘All nuclear powers must not deploy nuclear weapons beyond their national territories and must remove all nuclear weapons they have deployed beyond their borders.’

The FT is presenting this decision as a violation of Putin’s high sounding principles. They intentionally overlook the logic that Putin is preparing the way for eventual pull-back of these weapons by all parties in some future negotiations with the U.S. That is to say, Putin has just bought his own poker chips.

We saw from the interview that Zarubin considered the decision on Belarus as Russia’s asymmetric response to the announcement by the UK Defense Ministry about sending depleted uranium artillery shells to Kiev. Putin seemed to concur on that explanation.

However, we need not take every word from Putin at face value. Stationing the weapons in Belarus puts them just at the border with Lithuania, with Poland, whereas the American nuclear weapons are stationed several hundred kilometers to the West. This puts Lithuania and Poland under immediate nuclear threat because of decisions taken by the USA together with Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. This could open up fissures in the Alliance.

And quite separately, on the News of the Week program this evening one analyst explained that Russia’s response to the British use of special depleted uranium shells would be to use their own wolframite filled shells, which have armor-piercing functionality similar to depleted uranium but are not radioactive. If indeed, the British will be providing the depleted uranium shells only for use in the fourteen Challenger 2 tanks they are sending to Ukraine, then the decision on weapons to Belarus would seem to be disproportionate.

Otherwise, the interview is particularly interesting for Putin’s remarks on the use of Yuan for trade with third countries, which can promote a mighty shift against the dollar in the Collective South.

I have included Putin’s comments on the flaws of the pension reform in France that have contributed to the rage of so many French demonstrators and may yet bring down the Fifth Republic. It is curious to see this kind of substantive analysis coming from Moscow when we read not a word about it in our Belgian or UK newspapers.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023




By John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with

The British Government (lead image, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak) has decided that in public hearings to confirm that Russian-made, Russian-delivered Novichok killed Dawn Sturgess in mid-2018 – after failing to kill Sergei and Yulia Skripal weeks earlier – nothing can be said or revealed without being subject to an immediate veto by the police, the MI6 spy agency, and other UK officials.

The veto will cover police records; closed-circuit television (CCTV) films; laboratory reports by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; Salisbury District Hospital patient admission and clinical test results; witness testimony; coroner’s cremation forms – in fact, everything which may expose, not what really happened to the Skripals and to Sturgess, but what didn’t happen to them which the British Government insists it did.

That evidence is what is called “sensitive information” in the state inquiry into the cause of Sturgess’s death which held a new courtroom session in London on Friday.

Lord Anthony Hughes, the retired judge appointed to run the proceeding, acknowledged this month that “there is a risk that sensitive information might be disclosed, inadvertently or otherwise, during the course of the open preliminary hearings.” Accordingly, he has announced, that “there will be two video links to afford those not present in the hearing room with access to the hearing – a ‘live link’ and a ‘delayed link’, which will be delayed by 5 minutes. The public and media attending the hearing remotely will do so by means of the delayed link.”

In the 5-minute delay, Hughes has decided, “in the event that sensitive information is disclosed in the course of an open hearing whilst these measures are in place or a Core Participant informs the Chair that he considers that sensitive information may have been disclosed, the Chair will consider taking the following steps (if necessary by receiving submissions in closed session): a. an immediate termination of the delayed link; b. making a restriction order to prohibit the publication of the sensitive information; c. ensuring that when the delayed link feed is resumed, the sensitive information (including any submissions concerning any information which a Core Participant considers may be sensitive information) is not broadcast.”

The inquiry has already decided that the “core participants” include the Sturgess family, several branches of the British police, the Home Office representing the intelligence agencies and Porton Down, the Wiltshire Council, and the regional ambulance service which responded to emergency calls for the Skripals on March 4, 2018, and for Sturgess on June 30.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal have been designated core participants, but their lawyer, Adam Chapman, has refused to confirm that the Skripals have appointed him to represent them or that they are still alive. Without explanation Chapman was absent from the latest court hearing last Friday.

Hughes opened the new hearing in London on March 24. A re-enactment of a secret, closed-door hearing a few days earlier, the session for public and press consumption lasted for three hours. Click to read the transcript.

The police told the judge they have compiled a total of 66,000 items of evidence; of that total, they say 48,438 items have been delivered by the police to the judge’s staff for their review. Duplicates of the same evidence may add up to 16,000 items; that’s one piece of evidence in three.

Going much more slowly, the government told the judge the “inquiry experts have identified 13 sensitivities in over 1,000 documents so far.”

Drafting statements for witnesses who may be called to testify to the inquiry, either in open session or in secret, is also under way in parallel. It is not yet known whether Sergei and Yulia Skripal will be permitted to testify in public.

“Once we know in its entirety what material is to be disclosed,” announced Cathryn McGahey QC, the lawyer for the Home Office, Defence Ministry, Porton Down and the intelligence services, “then our experts in their particular fields can look at all the material in each particular area and say, ‘It’s safe to do X’ or, ‘it’s not safe to do Y’.”

McGahey did not explain what “safe” means, and for whom.

“I mean, it’s absolutely true that as we go through this process we will try to pick up risky pieces of information that put together might cause a problem. In my submission, sir, the risk is a very real one and it happens in real life… HMG [His Majesty’s Government] does understand, sir, that we are asking you to allow us a lot of time to do something with a lot of care, but that is because of the importance of what we are doing. [HUGHES] All right — sorry, go on. MS MCGAHEY: Careful management of disclosure is absolutely key. [HUGHES] Central to the whole business of this exercise. S MCGAHEY: Yes, and it would be disastrous if an inquiry intended to learn lessons actually led to us making a mistake that made us less safe than we are now.”

Exactly what is meant by “sensitive” government officials had told the judge inwriting earlier this month. For them McGahey told Hughes on Friday, sensitivity means almost anything or everything connected to Russia. “The sensitivities around this inquiry,” said McGahey, “are greater than those in the vast majority of inquests and inquiries. Investigations into deaths caused by terrorist atrocities often involve a lot of sensitive material that has to be protected, but the terrorists who threaten the safety of the UK and who might exploit sensitive information if it’s disclosed by mistake have absolutely nothing like the sophistication of a hostile state that is Russia.”

The government spokesman was implying that Russia was to blame for Novichok and that Novichkok had caused Sturgess’s death – the conclusion, in short, which the inquiry has been set up to investigate. Any evidence that casts doubt on this outcome, McGahey was hinting, would be so “sensitive”, “risky”, and “unsafe” for the British Government, it wants the power now to stop release and disclosure.

“Or any other hostile state,” Hughes interrupted McGahey, implying that she and the government might be jumping to its conclusion prematurely, and that this judgement was up to Hughes to make. “Indeed,” McGahey replied; returning immediately o Russia as the target of the court proceeding. “So we have to assume that anything that we put onto any open system is no longer secure….So the reason for not publishing anything until either HMG or this inquiry can be sure it carries no more than a manageable risk has nothing to do with any wish to withhold anything from the [Sturgess] family and nothing to do with any wish on the part of anyone to cause delay.”

“But one thing that it’s crucial for me to explain to the family is that HMG has to check everything before it is sent out. So, for example, anything that might give a hint as to where the Skripals are now or that might help Russia to work out how and when the perpetrators of the attack were identified must not be public.”

This is the latest government statement to imply that both Skripals are still alive, although there has been no independent evidence of this. Sergei has not been heard on the telephone by his family members since June 26, 2019. Yulia was last seen in a British and US-directed interview at a US bomber base in May 2018; her last telephone call was heard by a family member in Russia on November 20, 2020.

Left to right: Lord Anthony Hughes; Catheryn McGahey KC; the book on the Skripal case – click to read.

In an edited record of the last closed-door session of Hughes’s proceeding, it was revealed that the police evidence report, as well as testimony by ambulance, hospital, and other witnesses are likely to be kept secret when the inquiry becomes a public hearing. The start of that is unlikely to be before mid-2024, officials said last week.

When BBC, the state propaganda platform, reported the secrecy and the delays, it claimed in the government’s defence that there have been “sensitivities” in more than a thousand pieces of documentary evidence compiled by the police so far. The BBC omitted to report that the electronic veto has been introduced.

The BBC also repeated the certainty that Novichok was intended by the Russians for “the original targets of what police believe was a Russian hit squad in Salisbury.”


A leading London reporter reacted at the fresh attempts to conceal evidence. “For an inquiry that wasn’t going to happen, into the supposedly straightforward death of someone in hospital supposedly from poisoned perfume, there is an enormous amount of secrecy/closed hearings attending this. You have to ask how much of this inquiry/inquest is actually going to be heard in the open. Now that we’re into ‘categories of sensitivity’ any normal person listening to this inquiry would be in despair.”

The judge made an oblique reference to the war in the Ukraine, claiming the British experts on Russia who are needed for the Novichok side of the Sturgess case have their work cut out for them fighting the Russians. “[HUGHES] What is clearly right is that there is a limited number of specialists in the particular field of the asserted hostile state. [MANSFIELD] Yes. [HUGHES] And in that field, just at the moment, there are a large number of rather pressing calls on their time.”

Mansfield also revealed publicly for the first time that he and the Sturgess family want the release of closed-circuit television (CCTV) tapes of the Skripal home, the centre of Salisbury on the day of the Skripal incident, and other locations. These tapes, including private premises security recordings, were all confiscated by the police immediately after the Skripal incident; they have been withheld since then.


Mansfield is aiming at evidence that British security agents were following the Skripals and also the alleged Russian assassins; or proof that if they were not, they ought to have been. From this evidence Mansfield is making his case for a multi-million pound payout for the Sturgess family in compensation for what he alleges has been the government’s negligence.

According to Mansfield last Friday, “this involves — again I am not stating a state secret here, there is an allegation in a film that’s been made about all of this that when they [alleged Russian assassins] arrived at Gatwick [Airport] they were followed and Skripal himself was followed. Now whether that’s true I don’t know. CCTV would be relevant to all of that.”

Mansfield also asked for open disclosure of the scientific evidence on the organophosphorus compound called the Novichok nerve agent, which the British Government has told parliament was used against the Skripals and then against Sturgess, killing her. “MR MANSFIELD: It’s that kind of material. Then again I am looking at the list that we have out of the scope [of inquiry] issues, the Novichok itself is of interest or may be of interest. Well, it’s the central agent here. The question is the link between the Novichok and where it was found in Salisbury in terms of where it was distributed, not the bottle, but where was it found on a door handle, on a car handle and so on, these are all matters of the distribution and it ties into is it — how does it compare with the bottle and the Novichok?”

The lawyer for the Sturgess family is saying that almost five years after Sturgess’s death, the family has been told what happened but they have been shown no evidence and allowed to ask no forensic questions. They have been told to trust the government. Hughes warned them against expecting more, dismissing their lawyer’s skepticism.

“[MR MANSFIELD] There is scientific evidence as we understand it, but we have not seen it. So may I just put it – [HUGHES] The identity of the material? MR MANSFIELD: Yes, scientific evidence, which we can’t imagine is subject to any kind of restriction order.”

“[HUGHES] I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Mr Mansfield.”

“MR MANSFIELD: In view of what was said publicly by various politicians, unless they have it wrong, which is possible.”

“[HUGHES] But the extent of the defensive knowledge, defensive corporate knowledge of potential dangerous agencies is highly sensitive potentially, isn’t it?”

Hughes’s response indicates the likelihood that the central evidence of Novichok, which has been the core of the case against Russia, will be kept secret. Click to read Hughes’s secrecy order, dated March 14.

Hughes will decide shortly whether to convene another open preliminary session next July or September. Thereafter, he and the lawyers assisting him believe the first formal opening session of the inquiry will not occur before October 2024. ... more-87725

'When ya ain't got nothin', obfuscate'
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

Post Reply