Category Archives: Russia

Funny How Russian Propaganda, US Free Press Produce Exact Same Mood Swings

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

‘[…] Funny thing, though–the anti-American sentiment in Russia is pretty much a mirror image of anti-Russian sentiment in the United States, which has likewise risen to record heights since polling began roughly 25 years ago. Here’s the polling of Russians about the US:


And here’s the polling of Americans about Russia, from Gallup (2/16/15):

Gallup polling of US about Russia

Note that the spikes in hostility occur precisely together. The Post describes these as a “list of perceived slights from the United States”:

The United States and NATO bombed Serbia, a Russian ally, in 1999. Then came the war in Iraq, NATO expansion and the Russia-Georgia conflict. Each time, there were smaller spikes of anti-American sentiment that receded as quickly as they emerged.

But they could just as easily be described as a list of perceived slights by Russia toward the United States. On both sides, the population seems to object about equally to the rival nation using violence against a smaller country and the rival nation failing to endorse one’s own nation’s use of violence.’


Rumours Claim Russian President Vladimir Putin has been ‘Neutralised’ by Coup

Editor’s Note: #WheresPutin mania has swept the internet over the past few days. The image to the right of the featured article pretty much highlights the lack of difference at times when it comes to the tabloid media and outlets that regard themselves as engaging in “serious” journalism in the online world of click-bait content.

Johnlee Varghese reports for the International Business Times:

‘It’s been over 10 days since Russian President Vladimir Putin was last seen in public, sparking several rumours, including the most recent being that he has been neutralised.

Amid claims that Putin has not been keeping well, Daily Mail, citing pro-Kremlin Islamic Committee chairman Geydar Dzhemal, reported that former Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev staged a stealthy coup in Moscow.

Further backing the rumour that Putin has been taken out in a coup, social media reports claimed that several tanks were spotted outside Kremlin after a three-hour power outage.’


The very scary reality behind the silly rumors of Putin’s death

Amanda Taub writes for Vox:

‘[…] University of Pittsburgh research fellow Sean Guillory explained via email that the rumors “say a lot” in that “they excite both the desire and fears of many people, likely at the same time.” Some Russians may want Putin gone — but fear that “if he is, what comes next?”

Thoburn agreed. The rumors, she said, “get to the problem with having only one central figure” in the Russian government. She noted that if the US president or the German chancellor were to suddenly take ill or have a stroke, there would be other means of succession and other instruments of government to fill that void while a replacement was found. But in Russia right now, “you don’t have that. That does expose a certain fragility in the system that scares Russians a little bit.”

That’s very serious. “If both the system and the integrity of the nation state are so centered on one person, whether it’s a czar or whether it’s Putin or some other leader,” Thoburn said, “it becomes very dangerous.” And if the system is so centralized but there is no system set up for succession, “the system itself is not viable in the long term.”‘


Putin Keeps Changing His Story About the Annexation of Crimea

Joshua Keating writes for Slate:

‘In a forthcoming Russian television documentary, President Vladimir Putin states for the first time that plans were in the works to reabsorb Crimea into Russia weeks before a referendum on the issue was held.

As reported by the BBC, Putin tells the interviewer that an all-night meeting with his senior officials was held on Feb. 22, 2014, to plan the rescue of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who had just fled Kiev after weeks of protest.

Putin says, “We finished about seven in the morning. When we were parting, I told all my colleagues, ‘We are forced to begin the work to bring Crimea back into Russia.’ ”’


Russia’s Ghost Army in Ukraine (Documentary)

‘VICE News travels to Russia to investigate the mysterious deaths of dozens — possibly hundreds — of active-duty Russian servicemen who are believed to have been killed in Ukraine. Accounts gathered from soldiers’ families, human rights workers, and government officials cast doubt on the Kremlin narrative, revealing the unacknowledged sacrifices borne by Russia’s ghost army.’ (VICE News)

Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

Der Spiegel reports:

‘[…] The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.’


The Meaning of International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated 102 years ago by Russian revolutionaries.The following article was originally written by Alexandra Kollantai  for Pravda on March 8, 1913:

A March 8, 1917 demonstration led by Alexandra Kollontai and other organizers.‘What is “Women’s Day”? Is it really necessary? Is it not a concession to the women of the bourgeois class, to the feminists and suffragettes? Is it not harmful to the unity of the workers’ movement?

Such questions can still be heard in Russia, though they are no longer heard abroad. Life itself has already supplied a clear and eloquent answer.

“Women’s Day” is a link in the long, solid chain of the women’s proletarian movement. The organized army of working women grows with every year. Twenty years ago the trade unions contained only small groups of working women scattered here and there among the ranks of the workers’ party…’


Why the rise of fascism is again the issue

John Pilger writes:

ukraine_obama_nobel.JPGThe recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.’


Kremlin Funded Media Sees Cuts as Russian Economy Slows

Delphine d’Amora reports for The Moscow Times:

Pro-Kremlin broadcaster RT and news agency Rossiya Segodnya will have to slash spending by 50 percent or more and likely give up on expansion plans as the steep devaluation of the Russian ruble hits their margins, news reports said.

“The ruble’s devaluation means that our budget is already cut almost in half,” RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan was quoted as saying by the Vedomosti newspaper last week.

State-controlled RT, whose mission statement is to “acquaint an international audience with the Russian viewpoint,” will likely have to cease broadcasting in many countries and give up on plans to create French- and German-language channels, Simonyan said. About 80 percent of the network’s expenditures are in dollars and euros, she added.’


Britain’s Media Regulator Again Threatens RT for “Bias”: This Time, Airing “Anti-Western Views”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

[…] That RT is “biased” is true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far at all. It is expressly funded by the Russian government to present a Russian viewpoint of the world. But all media outlets composed of and run by human beings are “biased,” and that certainly includes the leading British outlets, which rail against Russia (and every other perceived adversary of the West) at least as much as RT defends it.

All of this underscores the propagandistic purpose of touting “media objectivity” versus “bias.” The former simply does not exist. Revealingly, it is British journalists themselves who are most vocal in demanding that Her Majesty’s Government bar RT from broadcasting on “bias” grounds: fathom how authoritarian a society must be if it gets its journalists to play the leading role in demanding that the state ban (or imprison) journalists it dislikes. So notably, the most vocal among the anti-RT crowd on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War.

That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for “bias” tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here. What’s really driving this is illustrated by the edict issued today by one of the High Priests of U.S. Foreign Policy, Brookings President and former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott:









Hollywood and the New Cold War: Interview with Ted Rall

‘We know a media information war is in full swing. But where does it stop? Hollywood? Where Pussy riot meets Vladimir Putin on Netflix’s “House of Cards”. Where Russian cyber terrorists are pushed into surrendering by threats of rating Pussy Riot and Putin on to their desktops in CBS’s “The Good Wife”. And then there’s just blatant remembering of colder times with FX’s “The Americans”. Political Cartoonist Ted Rall breaks it down.’ (In The Now)

Who Killed Boris Nemtsov?

Justin Raimondo writes for Antiwar:

Practically no one in the West doubts the murder of once-rising reform politician Boris Nemtsov was the work of Vladimir Putin, and/or his allies in government. If Putin didn’t give the direct order, the pundits say, the Russian leader created the “atmosphere of hatred” directed at the Russian opposition, of which Nemtsov was a half-forgotten yet still active leader. This obviates the need for evidence, while giving the accusers ample room to back off if and when facts to the contrary are uncovered – evidence which can then be easily discounted, because, after all, everyone knows a real investigation is impossible in Putin’s Russia. Thus freed of the facts, our new Cold Warriors can elaborate their conspiracy theories without fear of contradiction.

Funny how political murders in the US – the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King – are invariably the work of a “lone nut,” but in Russia it’s always the Putin government. When Dr. David Kelly, a prominent weapons expert and critic of the evidence Whitehall had publicized to justify the Iraq war, committed “suicide” just as he was about to reveal how the British government had doctored up its brief, there were suspicions but these were dismissed as a “conspiracy theory.” An entirely different standard is applied to Russia, and yet, aside from Anglo-American exceptionalism, perhaps there are some good reasons for this. Russia, after all, is a country where contract killings were once a staple of doing business: where gangsterism is widespread, and oligarchs, gorging on the riches of “privatized” companies, are in deadly competition for spoils in a system where government, and not the market, rules.’


Was Boris Nemtsov killed because in Russia opposition figures are deemed traitors?

Shaun Walker writes for The Guardian:

Flowers were laid at the spot where Russian politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on Friday.[…] Nemtsov frequently appeared on lists of “traitors” published online by extremist groups, and given that many radical Russian nationalists have been fighting a war in east Ukraine for the past six months, there have long been fears that the bloodshed could at some point move to the streets of Moscow.

The well-organised hit, in one of the most closely watched parts of Moscow, of a man who was undoubtedly under state surveillance just two days before a major opposition march, does not smack of an amateur job. Assuming a jealous lover or angry fellow liberal would not be able to organise a drive-by shooting in the shadows of the Kremlin towers, the remaining options are disturbing.

If, as Peskov says, it was senseless for the Kremlin to kill someone who posed very little threat, that leaves another option that is perhaps even more terrifying: that the campaign of hate that has erupted over the past year is spiralling out of the control of those who manufactured it.’


Boris Nemtsov Funeral: Mystery Surrounds Russian Politician’s Death

Scale of racism in World Cup host Russia a threat, report says

Rob Harris reports for AP:

‘Russian football is plagued by a racist and far-right extremist fan culture that threatens the safety of visitors to the 2018 World Cup, according to a report provided to The Associated Press.

Researchers from the Moscow-based SOVA Center and the Fare network, which helps to prosecute racism cases for European football’s governing body UEFA, highlighted more than 200 cases of discriminatory behavior linked to Russian football over two seasons.

“It shows a really quite gruesome picture of a domestic league which is full of aspects of racism, xenophobia: The far-right play a significant role in the fan culture,” Fare executive director Piara Powar said in an interview with the Associated Press.’


Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Carl Schreck writes for Voice of America:

With the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on a Moscow street, the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin has been removed from the political stage.  But it remains to be seen whether, in death as in life, Nemtsov will remain a threat to Putin’s rule.

Already, city authorities have approved a mass march for up to 50,000 people in central Moscow on Sunday. The march, expected to be far larger than the scheduled protest rally it replaces, will provide a powerful platform for Kremlin critics who suspect a government hand in Nemtsov’s death.

Even officials in Putin’s government seem to sense the danger that the former first deputy prime minister’s martyrdom might pose, hinting darkly that Friday night’s drive-by shooting may have been an deliberate “provocation” ahead of the planned weekend rally.’


Nemtsov Murder: Multiple Lines of Inquiry to Be Pursued

Nemtsov’s murder ‘meticulously planned’ – Investigative Committee

AFP reports:

‘The murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was carefully planned, investigators said Saturday, pointing to details of the weapon used and the killers’ knowledge of his movements.

“There is no doubt that the crime was meticulously planned, as well as the place chosen for the murder,” the powerful Investigative Committee, which has been put in charge of the probe, said in its first detailed statement on the drive-by shooting of the 55-year-old politician.’


Nemtsov Ally: “It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation.”

There are certainly no shortage of “who dunnit? Putin dunnit!” theories flying around the internet at the moment in regards to who is responsible for the killing of Russian opposition figure, Boris Nemstov. Here’s an interesting perspective from one-time close ally of Mr. Nemstov quoted near the bottom of an article published by Talking Points Memo:

Irina Khakamada, a prominent opposition figure who co-founded a liberal party with Nemtsov, blamed a climate of intimidation and warned that the murder could herald a dangerous destabilization.

“It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation,” she said in remarks carried by RIA Novosti news agency.


‘Night Wolves’ motorycle gang: We will die for Putin

Meet The Forces That Are Pushing Obama Towards A New Cold War

Christian Stork writes for Medium:

‘[…] Moscow’s national-security interests are clear. Washington’s are as well, albeit unrelated to the security of the nation in any meaningful sense. Given the stakes, the hard line being pushed against Russia can’t solely be attributed to “Great Game” strategy — the long-running chess battle to control global energy flows.

Different players have different motives. At times they overlap; elsewhere they diverge.

As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn’t hard to see what they have to gain: Just take a look at the history behind their Beltway-bandit benefactors.’


One year on: Where are the far-right forces of Ukraine?

Channel 4 News reports:

Activists fly the flag of the Azov Battalion (Reuters)‘The presence of far-right Ukrainian nationalist groups in the Maidan protests that toppled the pro-Russian former president in February 2014 remains controversial.

While Russia has past form smearing opponents as fascists, experts on right-wing extremism did immediately raise concerns about the influence of radical ultra-nationalist groups like Svoboda and Right Sector last year.

Other commentators said the number of rightwing radicals involved in the popular uprising against Yanukovych were small, and dismissed concerns about a neo-Nazi fringe as Kremlin-inspired paranoia.

Ukraine has countered that neo-Nazis are backing pro-Russian separatists.

Certainly, Moscow repeatedly refers to those fighting separatists in eastern Ukraine on behalf of the Kiev government as “fascists” and has warned of a rise of antisemitism in the country.

Is this just propaganda, or does Russia have a point?


UN Security Council calls for Ukraine fighting to stop

Al Jazeera reports:

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution that endorses the new ceasefire agreement on Ukraine as battle rages between pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian forces for the control of a key town.

The vote on Tuesday came as Russian President Vladimir Putin told Kiev to let its soldiers surrender to the separatists who fought their way into the town of Debaltseve, encircling thousands of government troops.

The UN resolution was not expected to have a significant impact on the peace deal that was reached in the Belarusian capital Minsk last week with both sides failing to begin pulling back heavy weapons as required.

[…] The United States and other council members supported the resolution, but spoke with scorn.’


Americans consider Russia their greatest enemy, according to new poll, and the feeling is mutual

Elena Bobrova reports for Russia Beyond The Headlines:

‘Eighteen percent of respondents named Russia when asked the open-ended question: “What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?” North Korea came in second with 15 percent, followed by China (12 percent) and Iran (9 percent). Three years ago, only 2 percent of respondents named Russia when asked a similar question; that number increased to 9 percent in 2014 as tensions between Russia and the U.S. rose over the crisis in Ukraine.

[…] Despite the increase in negative perceptions of Russia, most Americans still consider other international challenges as bigger threats, including terrorism generally, ISIS specifically, and Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

[…] At the same time, the results of a recent Russian survey show the feelings are mutual. According to a poll on U.S.-Russian relations published by the independent Levada Center on Feb. 9, only 13 percent of respondents viewed U.S. positively, while 81 percent have negative views.’


Russia shelled Ukrainians from within its own territory, says study

SEE ALSO: There Goes the Guardian, Lying About Ukraine…Again!

Julian Borger and Eliot Higgins report for The Guardian:

‘When Ukrainian forces came under withering attack in the east of the country last summer, soldiers were surprised as much as scared by the ferocity of the attack. The separatists they were up against had proven fierce and organised. But this was something else.

Now a group of British investigative journalists using digital detection techniques, satellite imagery and social media has provided near conclusive proof that the shelling came from across the border in Russia.

The work by the Bellingcat investigative journalism group highlights a murky aspect of the war in Ukraine, which continues to sputter despite last week’s attempt in Minsk to draw up a ceasefire, with reports of heavy fighting around the railway hub of Debaltseve on Tuesday.’


Bill Browder On Getting On Putin’s Bad Side

Editor’s Note: Bill Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management. He was the largest foreign investor in Russia and a supporter of Vladimir Putin until 2005 when he was blacklisted as a “threat to national security” and deported for exposing corruption at Gazprom. Since 2009 when his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in prison after uncovering a $230m fraud committed by Russian government officials, Browder has been leading a campaign to expose Russia’s endemic corruption and human rights abuses.

Stephen Cohen on the Ukraine crisis, his “unpatriotic” views and Henry Kissinger

Editor’s Note: This interview was recorded on Wednesday, before the ceasefire agreement in Minsk. Stephen Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War‘. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.

Study suggests arming Ukraine would prolong conflict

Michael Knigge reports for DW:

US Rakete FGM-148 JavelinThe heated debate over whether to supply lethal arms to the Ukrainian government to defend against Russian-backed separatists has caused considerable transatlantic friction, particularly during last weekend’s Munich Security Conference. The arguments, often exchanged with much gusto, are easily summed up.

European politicians generally oppose arming Ukraine, saying it would only escalate and not end the conflict. Many American policy makers favor arming Ukraine, arguing it would increase the costs for Russia and force the Kremlin to enter into earnest negotiations. Even proponents of lethal military aid do generally not believe that external arms supplies would enable Kyiv to compete militarily with Moscow, or reverse the gains made by Russian-backed separatists.

The dispute is still unresolved. That’s why both sides should take a look at a 2012 study on the consequences of arms transfers on civil wars. In “Selling to Both Sides: The Effects of Major Conventional Weapons Transfers on Civil War Severity and Duration” Matthew Moore of the University of Central Oklahoma examines the impact of major conventional arms transfers on 114 cases of civil war.’


U.S. Senator “Duped” Into Using Old Photos to Promote New War With Russia

Adam Weinstein reports for Gawker:

Senator "Duped" Into Using Old Photos to Promote New War With RussiaThis afternoon [Feb 12th], the Washington Free Beacon published EXCLUSIVE photos, obtained by Sen.Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), that purportedly showed new Russian aggression in Ukraine and vindicated Inhofe’s case for U.S. intervention. Apparently, neither Inhofe’s staff nor the Beacon bothered with a Google reverse image search.

[…] It’s not clear what Inhofe’s independent verification process involved, but it didn’t work. Several national security experts on Twitter immediately set about determining the provenance of the images and found that some of them were from as far back as 2008, and a few were traceable to the conflict in Georgia and Ossetia, rather than the current war in Ukraine.’


Ukraine Deal Reached, Ceasefire Will Begin Sunday

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

After another 17 hours of marathon talks in Minsk, Belarus, the Ukrainian civil war is once again heading for ceasefire, with officials on both sides announcing the deal, and the fighting scheduled to formally end Sunday.

Both sides are getting significant concessions, including the long-sought withdrawal of heavy weapons and artillery from the front lines between Ukrainian government territory and rebel-held Donbass.’