Category Archives: Russia

The Toxic Uzbek Town and Its Museum of Banned Soviet Art

Stephen Bland writes for VICE News:

‘Making our way out of Uzbekistan’s Xorazm Province, we began our three-hour drive to the city of Nukus, capital of the country’s autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. Up until the late-1990s, the land we were driving through was still cotton fields; today, it’s just an expanse of salty grey emptiness.

Once a thriving agricultural center, Karakalpakstan is now one of the sickest places on Earth. Respiratory illness, typhoid, tuberculosis and oesophageal cancers are rife, and the region has the highest infant mortality rate in the former USSR.’

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‘No Putin, No Russia,’ Says Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff

The Moscow Times reports:

‘Ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the 11th-annual Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on Friday [Oct 24th], deputy chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin took to the stage to tell international analysts and Russia-watchers that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.”

In response to a question on the impact of Western sanctions from club member Nikolai Zlobin, founder of the Center on Global Interests research institution in Washington, D.C., Volodin said “any attack on Putin is an attack on Russia,” Kommersant reported Thursday.

Volodin backed up his statement with the results of a recent public survey, which showed that 66 percent of Russians could not see any candidates besides Putin running for president in 2018, the newspaper said.’

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George Soros: Russia poses existential threat to Europe

Julian Borger reports for The Guardian:

George Soros has warned that Russia’s expansionism poses an existential threat to the EU and called for greater material support for Ukraine.

The investor and philanthropist argues that Vladimir Putin’s mix of authoritarianism and aggressive nationalism represents an alternative model to western liberal democracies, referring to the admiration for the Russian president expressed by the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, the president of France’s Front National, Marine Le Pen, and Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

“Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it,” Soros writes in an article published in the New York Review of Books.’

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Putin: America is a bully and a threat to global stability

Ukraine confirms Russia winter gas deal

The Herald Sun reports:

‘Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he has reached a deal with Russia to ensure supplies of natural gas to his country this winter.

THE two sides agreed that Ukraine would pay $US385 ($A416.55) per 1000 cubic metres of gas between now and March 31, Poroshenko said in a nationally televised interview on Saturday night.

That is a much lower figure than the US$485 that Russian energy giant Gazprom had so far been demanding.”I can say that Ukraine will have gas and warmth this winter,” Poroshenko said.Poroshenko, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Milan last week, said the agreement could be finalised in Brussels on Tuesday at a meeting between Russian, Ukrainian and EU officials.’

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German Intelligence: Pro-Russian Rebels Downed MH17 With BUK Missile Stolen From Ukrainian Military Base

Spiegel reports:

‘After completing a detailed analysis, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

In an Oct. 8 presentation given to members of the parliamentary control committee, the Bundestag body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people.’

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Russian social network hosts ‘Miss Hitler 2014′ contest

Haaretz reports:

A screenshot of the Adolf Hitler fan page advertising the contest.‘An anti-Semitic beauty contest is currently underway on the Russian social networking website VKontakte, the local equivalent of Facebook.

Called Miss Ostland 2014 (Ostland was the name Nazi Germany gave to the occupied Baltic states and eastern Poland), the contest is hosted on the site’s Adolf Hitler group page, which has more than 7,000 followers, according to the vocative website.

Women interested in participating in the competition are asked to send in sexy photographs of themselves, as well as to write about their love for Hitler. The candidate who receives the most likes will be declared the winner.’

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AP reporter asks Admiral Kirby: Has NATO expanded to Russia, or Russia moved towards NATO?

Editor’s Note: The U.S./NATO never see their actions as aggressive or confrontational. Actions are always taken in the name of “defence” because they’re the “good guys”. Either they’re so wrapped up in their own moral crusade to “bring democracy to the world” (which is quite clearly bullshit when you look at history), or they wilfully refuse to see how the other side might perceive their actions because it’s to their advantage not to. 

Serbia to salute Putin but sees future with Europe

Matt Robinson reports for Reuters:

‘Russian President Vladimir Putin is guest of honor at a military parade in Belgrade on Thursday to mark 70 years since the city’s liberation by the Red Army, a visit loaded with symbolism as Serbia walks a tightrope between the Europe it wants to join and a big-power ally it cannot leave behind.

The United States and European Union are unlikely to welcome the sight of Putin taking the salute at a parade of more than 3,000 Serbian soldiers while NATO says Russian troops are fighting on the side of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The East-West split over Ukraine, recalling the Cold War, has exposed the balancing act Serbia faces, politically indebted to Russia over the breakaway region of Kosovo but seeing its economic future inside the EU.’

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Small private bank fuels fortunes of Putin’s inner circle

Steven Lee, Myers, Jo Becker and Jim Yardley report for The New York Times:

Vladimir Putin arrives to take the oath as President of Russia in the Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow, May 7, 2012. (ALEXEI DRUZHININ/NYT)‘[...] Woven deeply into the Putin system is Bank Rossiya. Founded as the tiniest of banks in the twilight of the Soviet era, Bank Rossiya, through staggering, stealthy expansion backed by the largesse of the state, now has nearly $11 billion in assets. It controls a vast financial empire with tentacles across the economy, including a large stake in the country’s most powerful private media conglomerate, a key instrument of the Kremlin’s power to shape public opinion. How well the bank survives in a time of sanctions may ultimately be a barometer of whether economic pressure is enough to make Putin stand down at a time when neighboring countries, especially in the Baltics, are increasingly anxious about a newly aggressive Russia.

Putin came to power vowing to eliminate “as a class” the oligarchs who had amassed fortunes – and, to the new president’s mind, a dangerous quotient of political sway – under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, in the post-Communist chaos of the 1990s. Instead, a new class of tycoons have emerged, men of humble Soviet origins who owe their vast wealth to Putin, and offer unquestioning political fealty to him in return… If the modern Russian state is Kremlin Inc., Putin is its CEO, rewarding his friends with control of state-owned companies and doling out lucrative government contracts in deals that provoke accusations of corruption but have the veneer of legality under the Putin system.’

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Football fans jailed for anti-Putin chant in Belarus

BBC News reports:

Fans chant at the Ukraine-Belarus Euro 2016 match in Borisov, Belarus, on 9 October 2014‘A court in the Belarusian capital Minsk has jailed eight Ukrainian football fans after they sang an insulting song about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One man was sent to prison for 10 days for possessing fascist symbols. Seven others were jailed for five days for using obscene language.

They had joined in anti-Putin chants and songs at the Euro 2016 qualifier between Ukraine and Belarus. A number of Belarusian fans were also convicted and fined.’

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Stephen Cohen: Everything in Ukraine Hinges on the Parliamentary Elections This Month

From The Nation:

Petro Poroshenko‘Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has now formed his own political party, but whether or not he will control a majority of Parliament is now in doubt. As Stephen Cohen explained on The John Batchelor Show, “For Poroshenko everything, everything—the war, the political future of Ukraine, his own future, and the billions of dollars that the West is promising Ukraine to build and restructure—hinges to some degree on these parliamentary elections and whether he can build in Kiev a workable majority. He certainly doesn’t have it now.”’

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW…

Bodies pile up in Ukraine morgue despite ceasefire deal

U.S. adviser: Russian sanctions could be eased soon if Ukraine progress made

Reuters reports:

‘Talks on easing sanctions against Russia imposed over the conflict in Ukraine could begin in the next few weeks, but more measures are possible if there is no progress over a ceasefire deal, the U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser said on Friday.

[...] “Our hope over the next weeks is that we begin to implement that agreement in a meaningful way on the Russian side. And if that happens we can actually begin to talk about rolling back the sanctions,” Blinken told reporters at a briefing in London.

“But you know we will get to a point where if there is no action in implementing the Minsk agreement, we will need to look at not only sustaining the pressure but looking at ways to increase it.”‘

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How Putin’s American Fixers Keep Russian Sanctions Toothless

Lee Fang reports for VICE:

‘[...] Ketchum, a public relations firm that has represented the Russian government and Gazprom, the Russian oil behemoth, just filed its latest 6-month disclosure form with the US Department of Justice. Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a law signed by President Franklin Roosevelt to regulate international lobbying, agents of foreign governments are required to report a significant amount of their activities to the public. The disclosures show a number of media contacts on behalf of the Russian government, including with the New York Times, AP, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, Politico, CNBC, CNN, and PBS.

The form also shows that Ketchum has corresponded closely with two trade groups that have been pivotal in beating back sanctions against Russia since the revolution in Ukraine: the US-Russia Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, a Moscow affiliate to the US Chamber of Commerce known as an AmCham. Both groups are funded by companies with a stake in the US and Russia, including CitiGroup, BP, GE, GM, and Caterpillar.

But the most important business link between the two countries is ExxonMobil. The oil giant has multiple deals with Rosneft worth upwards of $1 trillion, including plans to drill in the Arctic, throughout Siberia, and in Alaska.
’

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Links to neo-Nazi groups of fighters on both sides of Ukrainian civil war

Sam Sakol reports for the Jerusalem Post:

‘Reports detailing links between fighters on both sides of the Ukrainian civil war and neo-Nazi groups have again raised the specter of anti-Semitism in a country with a bloody history for the Jewish people.

That both rebel fighters and members of a Ukrainian volunteer battalion raised to quell the Moscow-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine have deep ties to such groups have not proved unduly worrying to the Jews living in the war zone, however.

Members of the Azov Battalion, a volunteer unit backed by Kiev, were pictured wearing Nazi symbols on their combat helmets in a segment aired on German television this week. Asked about any fascist connections, a spokesman for the Ukrainian contingent told NBC News that the militiamen were “just Ukrainian nationalists.”’

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Can China and Russia Squeeze Washington out of Eurasia?

Pepe Escobar writes for TomDispatch:

Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping‘A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB.

Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway or at NATO headquarters in Brussels. There, the star of the show today and tomorrow is the new Osama bin Laden: Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive, self-appointed beheading prophet of a new mini-state and movement that has provided an acronym feast—ISIS/ISIL/IS—for hysterics in Washington and elsewhere.

No matter how often Washington remixes its “Global War on Terror,” however, the tectonic plates of Eurasian geopolitics continue to shift, and they’re not going to stop just because American elites refuse to accept that their historically brief “unipolar moment” is on the wane. For them, the closing of the era of “full-spectrum dominance,” as the Pentagon likes to call it, is inconceivable. After all, the necessity for the indispensable nation to control all space—military, economic, cultural, cyber and outer—is little short of a religious doctrine. Exceptionalist missionaries don’t do equality. At best, they do “coalitions of the willing” like the one crammed with “over 40 countries” assembled to fight ISIS/ISIL/IS and either applauding (and plotting) from the sidelines or sending the odd plane or two toward Iraq or Syria.

NATO, which unlike some of its members won’t officially fight Jihadistan, remains a top-down outfit controlled by Washington. It’s never fully bothered to take in the European Union (EU) or considered allowing Russia to “feel” European. As for the Caliph, he’s just a minor diversion. A postmodern cynic might even contend that he was an emissary sent onto the global playing field by China and Russia to take the eye of the planet’s hyperpower off the ball.’

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Russian State Pursuing Geopolitical Interests of Elite to Detriment of Ordinary Citizens: Interview with Aleksandr Buzgalin

‘Political economist Aleksandr Buzgalin says the Russian state is pursuing the geopolitical interests of the elite to the detriment of ordinary citizens.’ (The Real News)

Putin Among The Surprises On Nobel Peace Prize List

NPR reports:

‘The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced October 11. 2014’s been a tough year for peace, with so many places in the world embroiled in war, suffering and ferment. But there are a few names that seem to keep coming up for the prize. Pope Francis has been nominated and Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old advocate for education and women’s rights. Then there are few names that may be surprises – Edward Snowden, the former national security agency contractor who revealed a lot of agency secrets, Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. soldier known as Bradley Manning, who’s serving a 35-year sentence for disclosing classified information through WikiLeaks, and Vladimir Putin. The International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World nominated the president of Russia for his efforts to prevent the U.S. from launching airstrikes on the Assad regime. Putin’s been nominated despite Ukraine and Chechnya and Georgia and supplying arms to the Assad regime in Syria. The group said that Mr. Putin is a promoter of peace.’

SOURCE

World Cup Lessons: What Brazil 2014 could mean for Russia 2018

Manuel Veth writes for Futbolgrad:

‘The World Cup 2014 in Brazil was hailed by some media outlets as the greatest tournament of all time. But while the action on the pitch may serve as the benchmark for future tournaments, the headlines circling the organisation of the tournament will serve as a serious warning for the next edition of football’s most prestigious tournament, to be held in Russia in 2018.

Both Russia and Brazil share a place among the BRIC grouping acronym, which refers to four emerging market powerhouse economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – all deemed to be at a similar stage of economic development and expected to be among the world’s most dominant economies by the year 2050 . Such similarities are leading analysts to use Brazil’s experience as a guide, or more importantly as a source of foreboding concern for Russia over the next four years.’

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NATO can put troops wherever it wants, says new secretary-general

Reuters reports:

‘New NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that the Western alliance could deploy its forces wherever it wants, apparently calling into question post-Cold War agreements that have been shaken by Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

[...] “Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to,” Stoltenberg told the state broadcaster TVP Info.

“These capabilities already exist. We have them, and we can deploy them in individual regions. And this is only an add-on to what the alliance already has.”‘

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New NATO Chief Open to Russian Rapprochement

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The new chief, former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg, says he believes there is no reason that NATO should consider its own strength a contradiction to a positive relationship with Russia.

How accepting the NATO hawks will be to Stoltenberg, who in his youth was an anti-NATO protester, at a time when many of them, the US in particular, are looking to ratchet up their hostility toward Russia.’

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Lavrov calls for another ‘reset’ of relations with Washington

EurActiv reports:

‘In television interviews, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was time to repeat the “reset”, a word Washington used to describe an attempt to mend ties early in Obama’s presidency.

But he also lashed out at NATO’s “Cold War mentality”, criticised Washington for excluding Russia’s ally Bashar al-Assad from its campaign against Islamic State fighters in Syria, and said Washington “can no longer act as the prosecutor, the judge, and the executioner in every part of the world”.

“We are absolutely interested in bringing the ties to normal but it was not us who destroyed them. Now they require what the American would probably call a ‘reset’,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript of one interview on his ministry’s website.’

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Obama: They don’t call Beijing or Moscow when there’s trouble in the world

Colin Campbell reports for Business Insider:

‘US President Barack Obama wants everyone to know “how we roll”: The US always takes the lead in international crises.

In a “60 Minutes” interview Sunday evening, Obama was asked why the US was contributing such a significant portion of the military coalition against the jihadist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. Obama responded by arguing that other countries were not stepping up.

“When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing, they don’t call Moscow. They call us. That’s the deal,” he quipped.’

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Russia at U.N. accuses U.S., allies of bossing world around

Louis Charbonneau reports for Reuters:

‘The speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the 193-nation assembly was the latest example of the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Western powers, which have imposed sanctions on Russia over the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

“The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries … (is) rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the U.N. Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil,” he said.

“Washington has openly declared its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests,” Lavrov added. “Military interference has become a norm – even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out over the recent years.”‘

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From Russia With Hate: 2008 Documentary on Russian Neo Nazis

Qatar says it’s not a gas ‘alternative’ to Russia

AFP reports:

‘Wealthy gas producer Qatar has no plans to pitch in as an alternative supplier as Europe seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, Doha’s energy minister told a German newspaper Tuesday.

“Qatar doesn’t see itself as an alternative to other producers and exporters. We producers complement each other,” Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG).’

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The new ‘Blair rich project’: Pushing the Trans-Adriatic pipeline against Italians’ objections

Claudio Gallo writes for RT:

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (Image from wikipedia.org by Genti77)‘[...] Yo, Blair – what are you doing this time? He is pushing a huge global project in the name of some big guys who care less than nothing that the local people don’t want it.

The scheme is, as always, a case of powerful elites against ordinary people, and guess which side he is for? He is gazing now at Puglia’s southern coasts in his capacity of facilitator of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, nominated in 2012 for Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the TAP consortium of energy, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, formed by British oil giant BP (20 percent), Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR (20 percent), Norway’s Statoil (20 percent), Belgium’s Fluxys (16 percent), France’s Total (10 percent), Germany’s E.ON” (9 percent) and Switzerland’s di Axpo (5 percent). It’s a 2,000-mile pipeline transporting gas from Shah Deniz-2, the biggest Azeri gas field in the Caspian Sea, across Turkey, Greece and Albania to Italy.’

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U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms

William J Broad and David E Sanger report for The New York Times:

‘A sprawling new plant here in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines. It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.

This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads.

Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return. Supporters of arms control, as well as some of President Obama’s closest advisers, say their hopes for the president’s vision have turned to baffled disappointment as the modernization of nuclear capabilities has become an end unto itself.’

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Thousands March Against War in Ukraine in Moscow Protest

Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber reports for The Moscow Times:

‘As in Moscow’s past protests, statistics of the event varied greatly among different sources. Moscow police estimated that some 5,000 protesters had taken part in the protest, while Russia’s Union of Observers said that more than 26,000 people had in fact taken to the streets. Organizers had hoped up to 50,000 people would turn out to protest Russia’s policies towards Ukraine, which they described as “irresponsible and aggressive.”

Marching through the city center, demonstrators chanted slogans such as “no to war!” and “glory to Ukraine!” under the watchful eyes of hundreds of police officers. Others bellowed “Russia without Putin!,” the mantra of the anti-Kremlin protests of 2011 and 2012. No violent incidents were reported during the protest.’

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