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Thread: Russia, politics and power: internal & external(new title)

  1. #121
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Doh!

    Saturday as Russia resorts to 'devious tricks' to limit numbers at anti-Putin rally
    Males over 17 also warned they could be conscripted into the Russian army if they protest


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz1gB6R06sO
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  2. #122
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A corrupt state with dissidents

    Russia I doubt has shifted off our radar, though not as a Small War topic and catching up with my reading today I found this article 'Russia's new dissidents' by Anne Applebaum, whose writing is consistently good IMHO.

    It is not so much her theme rather the environment in Russia she reports is worth knowing.

    Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/al...ssidents.thtml
    davidbfpo

  3. #123
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    Nice simple diagram (in Russian) about Putin's court.

    http://visual.ly/their-home-russia

  4. #124
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default Ded Hassan Assassinated

    Ded Dead: the assassination of Russian crime boss Aslan Usoyan (‘Ded Khasan’), Mark Galeotti. In Moscow's Shadows, 16 January 2013.
    News is just breaking that Russian (actually Kurdish Yezidi from Georgia) crime boss Aslan Usoyan (‘Ded Hasan’ or ‘Ded Khasan’ — ‘Grandfather Hassan’) was shot and killed last night in Moscow. Apparently a sniper took him down (some say with a head shot, but probably multiple hits) as he was leaving a restaurant (initial accounts vary, but it was almost certainly the Stary faeton on Bolshaya Nikitskaya, known as his favored hang-out). He died in intensive care at the Botkin hospital.

    While the details of the hit will emerge soon enough, the fundamentals are clear — another classic Russian mob killing, reflecting rising tensions within the national underworld as well as the prosecution of a long-running feud(s). The 75-year-old Usoyan was one of the foremost leaders within the Russian underworld, but at a time when that underworld is going through a process of realignment due to a number of forces, not least the increasing flow of Afghan heroin through the country. This was the third assassination attempt in his underworld career, after one in Sochi in 1998 and then another in Moscow in 2010. The latter was a result of his running feud with Georgian mobster Tariel Oniani (‘Taro’) who is currently in prison but still managing his extensive crime empire from behind bars. His feud with Oniani dates back at least to 2007 and has been one of the defining pressures within the Russian underworld.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  5. #125
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    This will have repercussions from Western Europe to Central Asia. Expect further killings in Greece, Spain, France, or the UAE - and naturally in Russia and the South Caucasus.

    Potential impact on Georgian domestic politics and Afghan heroin trafficking via the Northern Route.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  6. #126
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default Retaliation in Abkahzia

    From RFERL's Power Vertical blog - http://www.rferl.org/content/mob-war.../24879836.html
    And so it begins.

    The assassins were waiting in a silver Mercedes as Astamur Guliya, a 31-year-old crime kingpin, left a restaurant in downtown Sukhumi. They opened fire as Guliya entered the parking lot, mortally wounding him.

    It was impossible not to notice the similarities with the killing four days earlier of the legendary gangster Aslan Usoyan as he left a restaurant in central Moscow. It was also impossible not to notice that the hit took place on the same day that Usoyan was buried in the Russian capital, where hundreds of mob bosses from all over the former Soviet Union bid their farewells.

    And it was impossible not to notice that like Usoyan, Guliya was a "vor v zakone," or "thief in law," the rough equivalent of a "made man" in the Russian and post-Soviet underworld.

    But Usoyan and Guliya were very different types of made men.
    Mark Galeotti's blog - http://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.co...d-in-abkhazia/
    Could the murder of a no-more-than-moderately infamous local gangster in Abkhazia, Astamur Gulia, ‘Astik Sukhumski,’ mark the start of a wider gang war following the murder of Aslan Usoyan, ‘Ded Khasan’? Usoyan’s death inevitably sent shock waves through an underworld already in a degree of turmoil. The long-running feud between Usoyan and Tariel Oniani (‘Taro’), the hungry encroachments of Rovshan Janiyev (‘Rovshan Lenkoranskiy’) for dominance over the Caucasus gangsters, new disagreements with Zakhar Kalashov (‘Shakhro Junior’), sparked by rows over the distribution and management of his assets after he was arrested in Spain in 2006, all these helped ensure that the ‘mountaineers’ — the gangs from the North and South Caucasus — were increasingly at daggers’ drawn. However, it’s important to realize that for all the airtime they get, the ‘mountaineers’ do not comprise the majority of Russian organized crime and the extent to which there are wider, economic and political pressures also bearing down on the status quo that has held for the past decade.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  7. #127
    Council Member kowalskil's Avatar
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    Default Conflicts in Russia

    Contemporary Russian Situation (10/17/2014)

    as described by BSN, an unnamed Russian author

    Translated by Ludwik Kowalski, Ph.D.

    http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html


    1) My translation of BSN's article is available online at:

    http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/bsn.html

    2) Why did I translate this article? Because I know that the present political situation in Russia is far from clear, and that many people will be interested in how it is described by an intelligent Russian patriot. Feel free to share the link with those who might be interested.

    3) Point 4 below is only for those who want to know how I became involved.

    Best regards, Ludwik

    P.S. Comments will be appreciated.

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    4)On October 12, 2014 I subscribed to a Russian website: < http://mirbudushego.ru/forum >. My first post contaied the link to my autobiography (as above).

    The forum administrator BSN, responding to me, wrote: "Stalinist repressions, which you describe, belong to the distant past. Don't you think that emphasis on repression, and comparing Stalinism with Nazism, were, and still are, used by American imperialists to demonize the Soviet Union, and then Russia? At the same time they cynically implement criminal policies. They try to dominate the world and to impose the new totalitarian World Order. Why should one particular policy of Stalin, or other errors of Soviet leaders, discredit the idea of building a just society? Why should it justify support of capitalism, controlled by the worldwide lust-and-power-hungry oligarchy?"

    To which I responded:
    "Yes, America, too, is far from an ideal. Yes, politicians of all countries use deplorable events to promote their interests. Stalinism was based on Marx's theory, according to which the dictatorship of the proletariat is the only way to build a just society. My parents believed in this ideology. But it was not justified by the Soviet reality. That reality should be studied, to avoid repeating similar catastrophes.

    BSN replied:
    "The main reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union was the betrayal by the elite, which, at the behest of the United States, and under the demagogic arguments about freedom and democracy, decided to discontinue building a just society, and to live comfortably in the unjust society, at the expense of common people. Marx's mistake was obvious; he believed that a change in the economic system would automatically change the consciousness of people. Reality is different; an economic system cannot be changed without first changing the consciousness of people. The primary desire of most people (in the socialist countries, like that of people living in the West), is material comfort, fun and entertainment. Therefore, to build a just society, it is necessary to rely on changing attitudes of people, not just a change of the socio-economic model, or transfer of the steering wheel from one social class, to another. What you think about it? Do you agree that today we should fight for a just society on the basis of an ideology similar to Marxism but modified, to account of mistakes made in the USSR?"

    My immediate reply was short; I wrote: "Yes I agree. But I am not a sociologist. Who is developing such a theory in the Russian Federation today?"

    BSN's reply was also short; he wrote:

    " see, for example, ====> http://mirbudushego.ru/koncepciya/index.htm "

    What is this link for? It allows one to read 23 articles (all in Russian), on BSN's open forum. The first 22 articles address psychology, sociology and history topics; the last one is a very interesting, (and probably unique?) description of the contemporary Russian situation. Unfortunately, BSN did not reply to my suggestion to discuss the last article privately, via email. After waiting several days I translated his article into English, and posted the translation on our university forum. The link is:

    http://pages.csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/bsn.html

    Why did I do this? Because I know that present political situation in Russia is not clear, and that
    many people will be interested in how it is described by BSN.
    Ludwik Kowalski, author of a free ON-LINE book entitled “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

    http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

    It is a testimony based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

    The more people know about proletarian dictatorship the less likely will we experience is.

  8. #128
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    The blatant killing on the open streets of Moscow of an aggressive investigative journalist who was openly researching Moscow’s various roles in the eastern Ukraine mercenary movements.

    This killing goes to the heart of what Putin has created since 2002 in Russia and should be a warning to US senior leadership that they are now dealing with a true fascist state and no amount of diplomacy is going to work.

    Does the US senior leadership truly feel that even now whatever Russia signed for a document or for that matter any document –that it and they will ever be honored—meaning without trust there is diplomacy and right now we are seeing the true form of Russian nationalism that borders on fascism and the sooner we call it what it is the sooner one can finds solutions. Remember what Stalin told close friends---we will sign documents and if it helps us we will follow them if not them ignore them.

    The US senior leadership needs to fully understand that to understand Putin you just need to understand his actions it is that simple--for to trust his words is a massive mistake---he has been showing his actions since 2002 and yet the US and West in general did not want to "see" and "understand" because it contradicted their own ideas and that is a deadly mistake in diplomacy and now we have the Crimean/Ukrainian problem and it will not stop until a true red line is placed and defended.

    Since 2002 the following have been killed in Russia----
    Paul Khlebnikov of Forbes shot in 2004; Anna Politkovskaya shot in 2006, Natalya Estemirova shot in 2009, ETC.,ETC. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/28/wo...T.nav=top-news

    David Patrikarakos @dpatrikarakos
    #Russia is regressing to a very dangerous place. This done publicly & symbolically. Kremlin no longer bothers to maintain a facade #Nemtsov

    #Nemtsov was working on a report presenting evidence of #Russia's involvement in separatist rebellion in #Ukrainehttp://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT

    Nemtsov murder scene evidence being washed away bc Putin doesn't care abt meaning of impartial forensic investigation pic.twitter.com/rog24acbcS

    Julia Ioffe ✔ @juliaioffe
    Here is #Nemtsov a few hours before his death at a Moscow radio station, encouraging people to Sunday's protest. pic.twitter.com/CEHweHUDQD

    Bill Browder @Billbrowder
    The cover up begins. Nemtsov's flat is being searched in Moscow. Investigators are planning to seize all documents and materials

    Kevin Rothrock @KevinRothrock
    https://twitter.com/tvrain/status/571487291002241024 … Reports that police are now at Nemtsov’s apartment, seizing documents from his home.

    Garry Kasparov ✔ @Kasparov63
    Reports now that police are ransacking Nemtsov's home. Putin's enemies are always victims, and his victims are always suspects.


    Laura Mills @lauraphylmills
    Interior Min Rep Elena Alexeeva: Nemtsov hit by assailants in a light colored car, as walking w/ acquaintance from Ukraine. Investig ongoing

    Garry Kasparov ✔ @Kasparov63
    Politkovskaya was gunned down. MH17 was shot out of the sky. Now Boris is dead. As always, Kremlin will blame opposition, or CIA, whatever.

  9. #129
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    Boris Nemtsov, opposition politician asassinated near Kremlin, four bullets on the brige, Columbia-stile.


    I, personally, have no idea who would benefit from this, Nemtsov was well-known, but his political weight was about zero. Although, opposition finally got a sacrificiall lamb.
    Last edited by mirhond; 02-28-2015 at 08:32 AM.
    Haeresis est maxima opera maleficarum non credere.

  10. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    This is exactly what I mean---this was one of the initial reports on the killing and notice it talks about being hit by a car--NOT hit by four bullets.

    Laura Mills @lauraphylmills
    Interior Min Rep Elena Alexeeva: Nemtsov hit by assailants in a light colored car, as walking w/ acquaintance from Ukraine. Investig ongoing


    I took a beating here in SWJ back on the Crimea event when I mentioned a number of times that in order to "understand" Putin and the Russia he has built one just needs to reread Orwell's 1984---down to virtually Orwell's same terms can be seen and found now inside Russia and in the current Russian leadership.

    And that was a beating--then I mentioned over a number of times that Russia has evolved into a rouge state with again beatings and lately one can even apply the concept that Russia is a "state sponsor of terrorism" on a virtual "Holy War" against western values and alleged decadent western liberalism.

    There is currently only one other organization on a global "Holy War jihad"-IS.

    The US "Old Guard" political/diplomatic/international relations speaking multiple languages types have been gone since 1990-- when "we" decided that they are no longer necessary because "peace was upon us all" ---has left a major void in the US senior leadership decision making and it is now truly apparent.

    Suggest many go back and reread Orwell's 1984, reread any article on fascism especially those written on the emergence of Russian fascism, and read the article I linked to recently on the Russian "Holy War" against the West and then ask the simple question" does it appear that the current US senior leadership have a strategy "any" strategy?

    The answer is easy--there is none.
    Notice just how quickly Russia "blames" the victim" and their trolls go to work "framing the Ukraine"

    Putin's propaganda machin already produced video: "We warned you - they will kill themselves just to frame us" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iatd...ure=youtu.be&a

    Moscow city admin warns that procession to mourn Nemtsov instead of planned Spring demonstration is illegal http://tvrain.ru/articles/merija_mos..._vesna-383068/

    Vladimir Milov: Few doubts authorities behind Nemtsov's killing (in Russian)http://v-milov.livejournal.com/404003.html

    LifeNews Publishes Video of Getaway Car of Nemtsov's Murder Suspects
    http://www.interpretermag.com/russia...-28-2015/#7181 … pic.twitter.com/PdHBOaPbQF

    #Nemtsov murder proves him right, sadly: "3 years ago, we were an opposition. Now we are no more than dissidents” https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/27...ead-in-moscow/

    Notice the Russian troll world shifts gears and uses this to “establish” an Ukrainian link –it is all nothing but the standard “it ain’t us” argument Putin has been using for over a year now and the West still thinks diplomacy will work???
    Here's the "Ukrainian link", from Kremlin bots:https://twitter.com/klinok/status/571431786997288960https://twitter.com/klinok/status/571439075758084096https://twitter.com/jakoryuri/status/571426452136206336

    From the hate factory:
    "Total lawlessness. Closing a bridge at night because of a national traitor."
    pic.twitter.com/zOSKXWc7XC

    Russian media, following script:
    "The Ukrainian girl with Nemtsov might have "led" him to the site of the murder."pic.twitter.com/jLkZigcuKU

    Notice again the standard "it ain't us and it has got to be those Ukrainians own fault"?

    That has been the massive Russian disinformation messaging since Feb 2014 and has anyone anywhere seen in the western media any push back on this messaging--none.

    An interesting question-- does even the mainstream western media even know what disinformation messaging is and is the current mainstream journalism even able to answer it when they are so trained for the 30 second news bite and the 24 hour news cycle?

  11. #131
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    [B]
    Since 2002 the following have been killed in Russia----
    Paul Khlebnikov of Forbes shot in 2004; Anna Politkovskaya shot in 2006, Natalya Estemirova shot in 2009, ETC.,ETC.

    David Patrikarakos @dpatrikarakos
    #Russia is regressing to a very dangerous place. This done publicly & symbolically. Kremlin no longer bothers to maintain a facade #Nemtsov
    Indeed it seems that being against the policies of Mr. Putin has been rather dangerous in and around Russia for some years now. I personally blame the Mossad, not the CIA despite what clever cui bono people say.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  12. #132
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    Quote Originally Posted by mirhond View Post
    Boris Nemtsov, opposition politician asassinated near Kremlin, four bullets on the brige, Columbia-stile.


    I, personally, have no idea who would benefit from this, Nemtsov was well-known, but his political weight was about zero. Although, opposition finally got a sacrificiall lamb.
    mirhond you are Russian, you live in Russia, Russia the home of the richest oligarchs in the world which have plundered the natural wealth of Russia since the Czarist days and yet you yourself have no earthly idea who could profit from this inside the Putin elite and Russian neo Nazi cicrlces.

    come on mirhond you are better than that statement even for you.

    Putin who is indirectly on trial for murder in London should be able to point you in the right direction.

    let's see just "how transparent" this Russian investigation will be since LifeNews has a video of the shooters vehicle--remember Russia screamed for transparency on MH17 and screamed transparency on Odessa and Mariupol and on and on and yet just what are the results from all of this supposedly Russian transparency--ZERO.

    just how many fake stories did we get from Russian transparency on MH17--SIX in total and all lies.

  13. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by mirhond View Post
    Boris Nemtsov, opposition politician asassinated near Kremlin, four bullets on the brige, Columbia-stile.


    I, personally, have no idea who would benefit from this, Nemtsov was well-known, but his political weight was about zero. Although, opposition finally got a sacrificiall lamb.
    mirhond--let's see just how far and wide that Ruyssian FSB "transparency really goes these days in Moscow the home of the KGB/FSB.

    CARE to comment??

    Boris Nemtsov didn't take one step not under FSB surveillance. My reaction. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/p...ropaganda.html

  14. #134
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    More subtle than ISIS/ISIL/IS, perhaps closer to the former cartels in Columbia, Putin's oligarchy uses terrorism as a principle tactic to suppress his people. Russia seems to be little more than a state captured by the Russian mafia. Why any other state would treat them as an equal is a mystery.

  15. #135
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    Great Russia news media source that was forced out of Russia recently--in English
    15 hours after the murder. What we know about the investigation into the killing of Boris Nemtsov https://meduza.io/en/feature/2015/02...ter-the-murder

    Nemtsov murder site at 10am and 5pm. Eight hours of flower laying: pic.twitter.com/iBnQg3wi48

    Ramzan Kadyrov already figured out who's behind #Nemtsov killing. Says Western Secret Services did it.
    https://instagram.com/p/zpY3odiRv9
    Maybe Mongolian hordes killed Boris. Maybe it was the LGBT Tatar Red Army Faction. Maybe it was NATO trying to discredit Putin...
    Chechen mercenaries provided by Kadyrov are fighting in eastern Ukraine

    From Antimaidan poster girl to blaming the USA for Nemtsov's murder. Meet @KatasonovaMaria. pic.twitter.com/kkplOIxpgB

    Sad play of words: 'Boris is killed, Nadezhda (hope) is dying' v @martin_camera #FreeSavchenko
    http://martin.livejournal.com/366524.html
    pic.twitter.com/tbUCRfHlTe

    Russian doublethink:--really read the tweet
    This is dark. pic.twitter.com/lFel9e5KfS
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-28-2015 at 05:07 PM.

  16. #136
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    Great article sorry it is in Russian though.
    Extremely sharp post by @xenia_sobchak on the "chaos of hatred" and the responsibility of those who created it http://snob.ru/profile/24691/blog/88680 … (RUS)

    Chechen Republic of Ichkeria expresses deep condolences to Boris Nemtsov family. We've lost a great political thinker pic.twitter.com/IkgtjyPTqQ

    Notice the Black Wolf member—remember the biggest organizer of the recent anti-Maidan rally in Moscow were the Black Wolfs –the biggest Russian biker gang---think Hell Angels on steroids Close supporter of and supported by Putin personally.
    Jan.19 2015 "Fear of death is the only Thing which Stops the opposition. Killers are already in training " #Nemtsov pic.twitter.com/XAL3J00QGc

    This. pic.twitter.com/WvTddVXfMs Russian TV claims police are using "hypnotists" to question Nemtsov's female companion, tweeting this photo

    #Moscow's forensic police dept. thoroughly investigating the scene of Boris #Nemtsov's murder. pic.twitter.com/qSpwv6qC0y
    Russian transparency washes away all forensics.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-28-2015 at 05:08 PM.

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    Michael McFaul ✔ @McFaul
    When I was ambassador, there were death threats against me. Upon investigation, they almost always came from crazy Russian nationalists.

    Putin is seriously trying to get ahead of this T72b2 tank that is rolling---this alone can cause major political problems and form a stronger opposition as they now have a martyr for the cause of political change.
    Putin Sends Telegram of Condolences to Nemtsov's Mother
    http://www.interpretermag.com/russia...-28-2015/#7189

    Eliot Higgins @EliotHiggins
    #CSIMoscow Nemtsov tripped and fell on some Muslim bullets

    Did anyone mention in numerous stories and obits about Nemtsova that he was considered a likely Yeltsin successor a few years before Putin?

    Nemtsov silenced for his opposition to Putin's imperialism in the Crimea and East Ukraine http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1425080092http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1425080092

    Flowers for #Nemtsov outside Russian Embassy in Kyiv alongside #FreeSavchenko posters pic.twitter.com/0MX87clJKc

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    Kind of feel sorry for Russian FSB—now social media is checking each and every video coming out of Russia and on VK and noted the following already.

    The same man watching over the murder scene soon after #Nemstov was killed in front of Kremlin in #Moscow
    @tvrain pic.twitter.com/ZejR0Eqb5l

    Here he is again at the same site new position:
    pic.twitter.com/f8kpzd0dc1

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    To understand just where Putin is coming from read the following article:

    Putin’s Orthodox Jihad

    December 27, 2014

    http://20committee.com/2014/12/27/pu...rthodox-jihad/

    Excerpts taken from the article:

    What motivates this is a complex question. Putin is a complex character himself, with his worldview being profoundly shaped by his long service as a Soviet secret policeman; he exudes what Russians term Chekism – conspiracy-based thinking that sees plots abounding and is reflexively anti-Western, with heavy doses of machismo and KGB tough-talk. Hence persistent Western efforts to view Putin as any Western sort of democratic politician, albeit one with a strange affectation for judo and odd bare-chested photo-ops with scary wild animals, invariably miss the mark.

    This year ending also saw the mask drop regarding Putin’s ideology beyond his bone-deep Chekism. In his fire-breathing speech to the Duma in March when he announced Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin included not just venerable KGB classics like warnings about the Western Fifth Column and “national traitors,” but also paeans to explicit Russian ethnic nationalism buttressed by Orthodox mysticism, with citations of saints from millennia past. This was the culmination of years of increasingly unsubtle hints from Putin and his inner circle that what ideologically motivates this Kremlin is the KGB cult unified with Russian Orthodoxy. Behind the Chekist sword and shield lurks the Third Rome, forming a potent and, to many Russians, plausible worldview. That this take on the planet and its politics is intensely anti-Western needs to be stated clearly.

    But what of Putin’s actual beliefs? This knotty question is, strictly speaking, unanswerable, since only he knows his own soul. Putin’s powerful Chekism is beyond doubt, while many Westerners are skeptical that he is any sort of Orthodox believer. According to his own account, Putin’s father was a militant Communist while his mother was a faithful, if quiet, Orthodox believer; one wonders what holidays were like in the Putin household. He was baptized in secret as a child but was not any sort of engaged believer during his KGB service — that would have been impossible, not least due to the KGB’s role in persecuting religion — but by his own account, late in the Soviet period, Putin reconciled his Chekism with his faith by making the sign of the cross over his KGB credentials. By the late 1990’s, Putin was wearing his baptismal cross openly, for all bare-chested photo ops.

    The turn to faith in middle-age, after some sort of life crisis, is a staple of conversion and reversion stories. In his last years in power, Saddam Hussein began talking a lot about Islam openly, which was dismissed as political theater in the West, but in retrospect seems to have been at least somewhat sincere. Did Putin opt for Orthodoxy after a mid-life crisis? I am an Orthodox believer myself and, having carefully watched many video clips of Putin in church and at religious events, I can state without reservation that Putin knows what to do. His religious act — kissing icons, lighting candles, interacting with clerics — is flawless, so Putin is either a sincere Orthodox or he has devoted serious study to looking and acting like one.

    Whether this faith is genuine or a well-honed pose, Putin’s potent fusion of KGB values and Orthodoxy has been building for years, though few Westerners have noticed. Early in Putin’s years in the Kremlin, the younger generation of Federal Security Service (FSB) officers embraced a nascent ideology they termed “the system” (sistema), which was a sort of elitist Chekism — toughness free of corruption and based in patriotism — updated for the new 21st century. However, this could have limited appeal to the masses, so its place was gradually taken by a doctrine termed “spiritual security.” This involved the ideological fusion of the FSB and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), culminating in the 2002 dedication of an Orthodox church at the Lubyanka, the FSB — and former KGB’s — notorious Moscow headquarters. It suddenly became fashionable for senior FSB officers to have conversion experiences, while “spiritual security” offered Putin’s Russia a way to defend itself against what it has long seen as the encroachment of decadent post-modern Western values. Just how seriously Putin took all this was his statement that Russia’s “spiritual shield” was as important to her security as her nuclear shield.

    It is in this context that Putin’s comments at last year’s Valdai Club event ought to be seen:

    Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

    The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote pedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

    This week the ideological ante was upped by the Kremlin with the comments of Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, a media gadfly cleric, who gave a very long newspaper interview in which he castigated, among other things, radical Islam, usury, and the West generally, but it was his comments on the current conflict with America that got all the attention. Chaplin minced no words, proclaiming that Russia’s God-given goal today is halting the global “American project.” As he explained:

    It is no coincidence that we have often, at the price of our own lives … stopped all global projects that disagreed with our conscience, with our vision of history and, I would say, with God’s own truth .. Such was Napoleon’s project, such was Hitler’s project. We will stop the American project too.”

  20. #140
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    To Understand Putin, Read Orwell

    Ukraine, Russia and the Big Lie.By TIMOTHY SNYDER

    September 03, 2014


    http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...l#.VPGPSmA5DIU

    Anyone who wants to understand the current Russian position on Ukraine would do well to begin with George Orwell’s classic, 1984. The connections go deeper than the adjective “Orwellian”: the structure and the wisdom of the book are guides, often frighteningly precise ones, to current events.

    The easiest way to begin, in light of the now entirely open Russian invasion of Ukraine, is with “War is Peace,” one of the slogans of the imagined empire in Orwell’s tale. After all, every attempt thus far at negotiation and cease-fire has been accompanied by a Russian escalation, to the point where we can be certain that this is not a coincidence. If Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with other leaders, we must simply expect that this is cover for the latest outrage, as with the entrance of Russian troops, armor and artillery during the recent talks in Minsk.

    Sound familiar with the Minsk 2 all night agreement and then the subsequent Russian assault on Debaltseve?
    AND the West response--virtual silence from the French and Germans.

    But we need to dig a bit deeper into the plot for the three concepts needed to understand this very strange war, in which Putin has radicalized Russian politics, destroyed a European peace order, challenged Europeans’ assumptions about their entire future — and even threatened nuclear war. Every reason proffered to explain a war that is pointless to the point of nihilism is obviously bogus or self-contradictory or both. To grasp this horrible event in which people are killing and dying for no discernible reason, we need to remember some key concepts from Orwell: Eurasia, doublethink and learning to love Big Brother.

    In Orwell’s 1984, one of the world powers is called Eurasia. Interestingly enough, Eurasia is the name of Russia’s major foreign policy doctrine. In Orwell’s dystopia, Eurasia is a repressive, warmongering state that “comprises the whole of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass, from Portugal to the Bering Strait.” [U]In Russian foreign policy, Eurasia is a plan for the integration of all the lands from—you guessed it—Portugal to the Bering Strait. Orwell’s Eurasia practices “neo-Bolshevism”; Russia’s leading Eurasian theorist once called himself a “national Bolshevik.” This man, the influential Alexander Dugin, has long advocated that the Ukrainian state be destroyed, and has very recently proposed that Russia exterminate Ukrainians.

    Orwell can help us understand what is happening to us as if we make a good-faith effort to use Russian media official sources to try to understand the world. Russian propaganda about Ukraine is today’s doublethink: it requires that people, as Orwell put it, “hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing both of them.” Russian propaganda daily pounds out two sides to every story, both of which are false, and each of which contradicts the other. Consider the propositions in italics below, all of which should by now, after eight months of repetition, sound familiar.

    "One the one hand, Russia must invade Ukraine because the Ukrainian state is repressive. (In fact, Ukraine is a democracy with free expression and is in every respect a freer country than Russia.) On the other hand, Russia must intervene because the Ukrainian state does not exist. (In fact, it is just as functional as the Russian state, except in the problematic spheres of war, intelligence and propaganda.)"

    Timothy Snyder is Housum professor of History at Yale University and the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

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