Sunday, December 14, 2014

Putin's Russia Archive: June 10 - Dec. 14, 2014

Continued from the Live Blog

Dec. 14, 2014

Newspeak and Paranoia in Russia's Information War

Three recommended reads on Putin's Russia. The first item is illustrative of the paranoia and the misinformation in the developing tyranny. Mark the wording: "US is trying to build another Iron Curtain around Russia". There never was an Iron Curtain around Russia. The original Iron Curtain was built by the East Germans on the orders of the Soviets and was meant to prevent people from leaving the Socialist paradise. This kind to newspeak has become the order of the day. The second item is a rather comprehensive recapitulation of the current situation. The third piece of news is that Congress at last is showing its teeth.

Dec. 10, 2014

Putin's Pravda (Правда) ("Truth")

Pravda (Russian: Правда; IPA: [ˈpravdə] ( listen), "Truth") is a Russian political newspaper associated with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. (Wiki)

Dec. 9, 2014

Putin's Weaponization Of Information

RT America's Liz Wahl resigns live on air on the heels of her colleague Abby Martin's comments in which she voiced her disagreement with certain policies of the Russian government and asserted her editorial independence.

Today let's have a look at Russian propaganda directed at the public, not to the confused with misinformation and disinformation which are mind fucks on another level. This weekend we posted an article by a Russian Libertarian, who explained that it's actually Russia that's a fascist state, not Ukraine. Students of the Russian mindset already knew that. Just as Western liberals smear every opponent with the racist allegations, to the Russians every enemy is a fascist or a Nazi. Nothing new there. (Source) Now let's have a look at Putin's open channel to Libertarian and Right-wing fans in the West, Russia Today:

Dec. 8, 2014

What Vladimir Putin Really Wants

In the recent days we posted a number of items dealing with Putin's apparent love affair with the European Right. But it would be easy to misread this intentions. Putin isn't led by ideology. He's simply working in the national interests of Greater Russia, meaning he's seeking to weaken the West by dividing it. The best way to do that is to support the disenfranchised parties on the extreme of either side of the political spectrum -- meaning the European far Right as well as the Left -- and to work against parties and countries that pursue independent paths. Recommended read >>> (Source)

The following is a master piece of Russian misinformation in the series about Special War. Watch how the picture puts a completely false twist to the story:

Dec. 7, 2014

Front National Wants Axis Paris-Berlin-Moscow

In the series of right-wing friends of Putin, today the case of France's Marine Le Pen. The Kremlin’s ties to France’s extreme-right National Front have been growing stronger. Marine Le Pen, the party leader, visited Moscow in June 2013 at the invitation of State Duma leader Sergei Naryshkin, a close associate of Putin’s. She also met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and discussed issues of common concern, such as Syria, EU enlargement, and gay marriage. France’s ProRussia TV, which is funded by the Kremlin, is staffed by editors with close ties to the National Front who use the station to espouse views close to National Front’s own perspective on domestic and international politics. The National Front wishes to replace the EU and NATO with a pan-European partnership of independent nations, which, incidentally, includes Russia and would be driven by a trilateral Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance. Le Pen’s spokesman, Ludovic De Danne, recently recognized the results of the Crimea referendum and stated in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that, “historically, Crimea is part of Mother Russia.” In the same interview, he mentioned that he had visited Crimea several times in the past year. Marine Le Pen also visited Crimea in June 2013.

Dec. 2, 2014

Russia Blocks Western Analysts of Islamic State

UPDATE: Is this part of the 'special war' too? Suppose it might be...

Nov. 27, 2014

Russia, Hungary and 'Special War' Against the West

States that are members of NATO and the EU are of particular interest to Moscow as it seeks to divide alliances and conquer without fighting. No European country better illustrates how Russia wages Special War than Hungary, which is a member of both NATO and the EU. Russian intelligence is highly active in Hungary, with its agents burrowed deep into politics, the security sector, and the economy.

(...) Budapest has a strategic counterintelligence problem on its hands that it is unlikely to defeat on its own. Neither is it evident that Budapest possesses the political will to seriously confront this covert threat from Moscow. 

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in power since 2010, has led his ruling Fidesz party down an increasingly Putinesque road, while Orbán’s admiration for the Russian leader is undisguised. Not only has the current government forged close economic ties with Russia, Orbán speaks respectfully about Putin, while a recent speech the prime minister gave which denounced liberalism and the existing European democratic model, while holding up Russia as an “illiberal” model worthy of emulation, caused shock across the EU.

Although Orbán was castigating Western (neo)liberal economics more than democracy, per se, this was cold comfort as it’s evident that Putinphilia is in fashion in Budapest’s power circles. While many in the West have registered their displeasure with Orbán and his throwback nationalist ways, and some have wondered if Hungary is something of a Russophilic Trojan Horse inside NATO and the EU, the alarming fact is that Fidesz is not a particularly right-wing party by current Hungarian standards.

While Orbán possesses a strong parliamentary majority, it bears observing that the opposition is far to his right, and there lies the real concern — and Moscow’s opportunity. In April, second place in Hungary’s national elections was taken by the far-right party Jobbik, which secured twenty-one percent of the vote and twenty-five seats in parliament. Founded in 2003, Jobbik (which means “better”*) is an unapologetically radically nationalist party that despises the EU and espouses overt anti-Semitism.

While Jobbik’s particular bugbear is Hungary’s Roma population, which it has unpleasant plans for should the party ever come to power, Jobbik’s dislike of Israel and Jews isn’t something they seek to hide. In a typical case, Krisztina Morvai, Jobbik’s top female politico, suggested that Hungarian Jews who don’t like her or her party masturbate with “their tiny circumcised dicks.” In more-Putin-than-Putin fashion, Jobbik aggressively espouses traditional values and strongly dislikes gays.

The party’s youthful leader, Gábor Vona, who has led Jobbik since 2006, is prone to radical and sometimes downright odd statements, including praising Islam and espousing considerable Turcophilia in addition to his admiration for Putin’s Russia. (Affection for Turkey, whom they view as ethnic kin, has been a trope among Hungarian ultra-nationalists for over a century.) Vona’s comments about Iran are customarily warm also, as Jobbik sees Tehran as an ally against the World Zionist Conspiracy.

Of greatest concern to NATO and the EU, however, are Jobbik’s views regarding most of Hungary’s neighbors. The party espouses open irredentism against nearly all neighboring states, where large Hungarian minorities are present. After World War One, no defeated power suffered greater territorial losses than Budapest. The Allied-imposed Treaty of Trianon deprived Hungary of the majority of its territory and population, while leaving nearly a third of all Magyars (i.e. ethnic Hungarians) outside the borders of much-truncated Hungary.

There remain large Magyar populations in neighboring states, including over 150,000 in Ukraine, more than a quarter-million in Serbia (specifically Vojvodina), some 460,000 in Slovakia, and above all more than 1.2 million Magyars in Romania. Most Hungarians continue to view Trianon as an injustice, while Magyar right-wingers have foamed at the mouth about it for nearly a century.

Prime Minister Orbán has not been above playing the nationalist card, hinting at possible revisions to Trianon, causing alarm in the Danubian basin, but Jobbik goes considerably further. The party has frequently called for border revisions, leading to significant tensions with Romania and Slovakia, both of which are fellow members of NATO and the EU. While Fidesz exploits the Trianon issue every once in a while to score points with Hungarian nationalists, few think Orbán takes the issue seriously, while on the matter of its co-nationals outside Hungary Jobbik seems to be deadly earnest. Its full name is Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom).

Then there is the troubling question of foreign support for Jobbik. Many believe the party has taken secret funds from Tehran, but that has yet to be proved, while Jobbik’s close ties to Moscow are no longer a matter of conjecture. In May, Hungary’s Parliamentary National Security Committee accused Béla Kovács, a leading Jobbik player and a member of the European Parliament (MEP), of being an active Russian spy.

Although he was short of funds for years after his salad bar restaurant failed, Kovács by 2010 was flush with cash, leading to questions about the origin of his wealth. This may have something to do with Kovács’s regular clandestine meetings with Russian case officers that Hungarian counterintelligence uncovered. Kovács lived for several years in Russia and made no efforts to disguise his deep admiration for that country and Vladimir Putin. He was an agent hiding in plain sight.

In Brussels, as an MEP, Kovács was widely considered to be more a lobbyist for Moscow than for Budapest. Significantly, Kovács also serves as the President of the Alliance of European National Movements, an umbrella group of far-right parties across the EU, several of which are believed to be on the Kremlin payroll. Kovács protested his innocence of any espionage, and Jobbik brushed off accusations of secret Moscow ties, but the Hungarian media was generally skeptical, calling the suspect “KGBéla” — the nickname by which he was known inside his own party!

It is widely suspected that Kovács is not the only Jobbik higher-up to be secretly working for Moscow. Party leader Gábor Vona has made trips to Russia, palling around with leading Kremlin ideologist and ultra-nationalist Aleksandr Dugin. Former Jobbik members have stated that Vona is actually a Kremlin agent, while the Budapest media wondered about the Jobbik’s head’s curious comment in January: “masses of our sleeping agents await our victory in state administration. They are still wary of showing their support in public, but we can count on them when the time comes.” 

More than a few Hungarian patriots have looked at Jobbik and determined that it is not an actual nationalist party, rather a fake one in the pay of Moscow. This background inevitably raises questions about some of Jobbik’s recent actions. The party has fully taken Moscow’s side in the Ukraine crisis, denouncing the government in Kyiv as “chauvinistic and illegitimate,” while Jobbik has also encouraged ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine not to serve in the military to resist the Russian-directed war in the country’s east.

Jobbik has tried to stir up trouble for Ukraine in the Transcarpathia region, where the country’s Hungarians are, and there have been strange events happening lately near the Hungarian border. Antiwar protests among ethnic Hungarians have become a nuisance in Transcarpathia, where local Hungarian politicians have openly accused Jobbik of fomenting unrest to aid Moscow in its war against Ukraine, a view which is held by Ukrainian intelligence as well.

Last week’s mysterious attack on the headquarters of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) headquarters building in the border town of Uzhhorod, adjacent to Hungary, by four men in camouflage (source) has raised more questions still.

Of greatest concern are Jobbik’s recent efforts to stir up serious trouble inside NATO and the EU, particularly with regards to Romania, a critical frontline state for the Atlantic Alliance as its neighbor Ukraine is convulsed by war. Last week, party leader Vona, in a speech that praised Russia and denounced Hungary’s “Euro-Atlantic orientation,” stated that autonomy for Hungarians living in Romania is inevitable, “no matter what the Romanian state might do.”

Needless to add, this provocative statement caused serious concern in Bucharest and has raised tensions between Romania and Hungary, yet again, at a critical time when such disharmony is detrimental to both NATO and the EU. Cui bono? is the obvious question to be asked here. While Jobbik certainly are Hungarian nationalists who pine for the revision of Trianon — which most Hungarians understand is a fantasy in any military and political terms — the timing of the party’s provocations against Ukraine and Romania must be questioned.

Given its known ties with the Kremlin and its intelligence services, one need not be overly suspicious to wonder about who is calling the shots inside Jobbik. This issue matters far beyond Hungary, and with the rise of far-right parties in many European countries, some of whom, like Jobbik, openly admire Putin and his country, all those in the Euro-Atlantic region who think Russia does not represent a positive force for peace should pay attention. (Source)

Nov. 22, 2014

Greek Neo Nazi Party in Moscow For Cooperation

Golden Dawn (Ghrisi Avgi) Chapter New York: Against All. 

The Greek Neo Nazi Party, Ghrisi Avgi has held meetings with Russian officials and the top advisor for President Putin, Moscow University Professor Alexandr Dugin. Wiki The People’s Association headed by our members Artemis Mattheopoulos and Eleni Zaroulia visited Moscow and had extensive talks regarding Russian political and economic factors. This visit marks the formal approach of Hellenism with Orthodox Russia through the People’s Association, expressing the will of the Greek people for an immediate strengthening of bilateral relations. This meeting with the Moscow University Professor and advisor for Putin discussed geopolitical issues such as energy, international security and culture. Mr. Dugin discussed developments in Ukraine, the political persecution of the Golden Dawn, the geostrategic position of Russia and bilateral relations with Greece.

With respect to the possibility of cooperation between the two states Mr. Dugin was very clear and stressed that this is imperative because we share the common values ​​of Orthodoxy and culture. Greece needs to lead a cultural (and geographical) empire in the Mediterranean region. Mr. Dugin believes the destiny of our country is the creation of a new empire with cultural content, based on ancient Greek values. The Golden Dawn is a natural ally of Russia, and is fighting American expansionist policies. Russia is perfectly aware of the political persecution against us and believes that this is precisely because we talk openly in favor of a geopolitical shift towards Russia. With respect to the elections, Mr. Dugin stressed that the time is approaching to build a Europe of Nations and culture against the usurers and the decadent. (Source)

Strategy (3): Special War

What have minor conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, Novorossiya, Chechnya, the Baltics, Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and Hungary have in common? All are examples of Russia involved in what is known as 'Special War'. So what is it? The conflict in Ukraine is a good example of what is known as Special Warfare -- an amalgam of espionage, subversion, even forms of terrorism to attain political ends without actually going to war in any conventional sense. Also diplomacy, misinformation and disinformation play an important role in Special War. Special war is the default setting for countries that are unable or unwilling to fight major wars, but there are prerequisites, above all a degree of cunning and a willingness to accept operational risk to achieve strategic aims. (Source)

Nov. 8, 2014

Putin: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 'not so bad'

During a meeting with historians Vladimir Putin revised his opinion of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that Moscow signed with Nazi Germany. "...what’s bad about that if the Soviet Union didn’t want to fight?"

UPDATE: Vladimir Putin has said there was nothing bad about the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the non-aggression treaty which led to the carve-up of Poland at the outset of the Second World War, suggesting Britain and France were to blame for Adolf Hitler's march into Europe. The Russian president made the comments at a meeting with young historians in Moscow, during which he urged them to examine the lead-up to the war, among other subjects. The comments are likely to cause dismay in eastern Europe, amid wider debate in Russia about growing attempts to use history as a means of shoring up Mr Putin's rule. Mr Putin said that Western historians today try to "hush up" the 1938 Munich Agreement, in which France and Britain – led by Neville Chamberlain, the prime minister – appeased Adolf Hitler by acquiescing to his occupation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. "Chamberlain came, waved a piece of paper and said, 'I've brought you peace' when he returned to London after the talks," Mr Putin, who is a keen amateur historian, said on Wednesday, according to a Kremlin transcript. (Source)

World's Most Powerful Man Isn't a Benevolent Giant

The time will come that many will think back about the good old days of Pax Americana. When power was dominated by a benevolent giant with a very big gun. As American power wanes, the vacuum is filled by the world's bullies and other scum that come crawling out of the woodwork, unafraid anyone will interfere with their lust for power for power's sake.
As Vladimir Putin tops the Forbes list of powerful men, Russia targets NATO with air incursions and moves missiles toward Ukraine. As it does, Finland warns Europe is "at the gates of a new kind of cold war." (...) Forbes says its rankings are based on "an evaluation of hard power" and reflect the ability of those ranked to "wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the world, and moves people, markets, armies and minds." Putin is on the march as the lamest of lame-duck presidents watches the world move on without him. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto spoke to the British newspaper Guardian from his private residence before a conference Thursday at the Northern Future Forum with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Nordic and Baltic state leaders. He spoke after Finnish FA-18 Hornets intercepted a Russian Antonov AN-27 transport plane as it violated Finnish airspace. (...) (Source)

Nov. 7, 2014

Putin Critic and Gay Activist Found Dead

A well-known Russian actor who was a vocal critic of the Kremlin has been found dead in suspicious circumstances at his home in Moscow. Alexei Devotchenko, 49, was discovered in his apartment in the north of the city, police told Russia news agencies. "There is reason to suppose that the artist's death is of a criminal character," said one law enforcement source. Mr Devotchenko was know for his roles in several popular television drama series such as "Bandit Petersburg" and "The Street of Broken Lamps" and in performances at the highly regarded Moscow Art Theatre. Some reports said the actor was found by a friend in a pool of blood outside his home while others said he was inside the apartment. (Source)

Nov. 1, 2014

Russian State Watchdog Warns Critical Radio Station

A Russian state watchdog has warned a radio station known for its critical reporting of President Vladimir Putin's government over a talk show it broadcast about the Ukraine conflict, the station said on its website on Friday. The warning issued to Ekho Moskvy is seen as putting further pressure on Russian media, which have experienced a series of restrictions in the 14 years of Putin's rule. If a second warning is issued within a year, the station can be shut down. According to the copy of the warning notice by the watchdog Roskomnadzor posted on the Ekho Moskvy website, a show it ran earlier this week contained "information justifying war crimes practices." (Source)

Oct. 24, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 Putin speaking to political experts at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi. He accused the U.S. of destabilizing the world by trying to enforce its will on other countries. (Putin speech only).

Putin: "US Is Destabilizing the World"

You have to agree with Putin as far as the deeply vicious foreign policy known as Arab Spring is concerned. This is at the core an exercise to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power as the 'democratic, secular and peaceful' alternative for virulent Islamism -- except that it essentially the same. Egypt has to thank its plucky people for rescuing their country in the nick of time. As regards everything else, Putin is utterly wrong, because his fundamentals are wrong. Like every European leader he is reasoning from group think, in 'blocks' of states locked in a balance of power. This is Cold War think. Sovereign states are made up of individuals who choose their own course, even if they happen to be physically in Moscow's 'orbit'.
The United States is destabilizing the global order by trying to impose its will on other nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Friday, warning that the world will face new wars if Washington fails to respect the interests of other countries. In a speech to political experts in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin pointed to wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples of botched U.S. policies that have led to chaos. With visible emotion, he said Washington and its allies have been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in those countries. "They are throwing their might to remove the risks they have created themselves, and they are paying an increasing price," Putin said. (Source)

Sep. 30, 2014

Back in the USSR: Merkel Evokes the Cold War

The Beatles: Back In the U.S.S.R. (LOVE Version) - H/t @MartijnHeeroma

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union and the U.S. may be facing a long confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, citing the 40 years it took East Germany to escape communist control. Merkel, who grew up in former East Germany, signaled determination to uphold EU sanctions on Russia in comments in Berlin yesterday that underscored the fraught relationship with President Vladimir Putin, whose actions in the Ukrainian crisis she says are rooted in a Cold War mentality. “I don’t see any change at the moment regarding Russia’s position,” Merkel said. “We needed 40 years to overcome East Germany. Sometimes in history one has to be prepared for the long haul, and not ask after four months if it still makes sense to keep up our demands.” Merkel’s warning added to her comments to German industry leaders last week that an end to the ‘‘deep-rooted conflict’’ with Russia is far off as a cease-fire fails to halt fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists. “Merkel lost faith in Putin a long time ago, but there’s now a realization in Germany and Europe that the Ukraine conflict is turning from hot-phase crisis management into a long game,” Jan Techau, head of the Carnegie Endowment’s office in Brussels, said by phone today. (Source)

Sep. 7, 2014

Russian Propaganda Machine In Overdrive

The Russian propaganda and desinformazie machine is in overdrive. Earlier the news broke that Russian soldiers go door to door in the Donbas region of Ukraine, imposing a Russification program just like we've seen in Crimea and in Georgia in 2008 prior to the annexations (source); presently we learn it's Finlands turn for a Heim-Ins-Reich campaign. Except that, Finland is totally unaware of this. Appeasement politics is to thank for these relentless attacks. (Source, autotranslation) And that's not all:
"Anti-Semitism started World War II, Russophobia could start the third. Finland is one of the most russiphobian countries in Europe, together with Sweden and the Baltic states,” says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal envoy Sergei Markov, interviewed by Hufudstadsbladet this weekend. The interview with Markov is made after Finland´s President Sauli Niinistö last week said a referendum would be required to change the country´s constitutionally neutral status before a possible NATO membership could be applied. Finland is today, together with Sweden, members of NATO’s affiliate program known as the Partnership for Peace. “Russia recommends Finland not to join NATO. That military alliance has lost its aim and goal and is therefore looking for new tasks. If Finland joins NATO it would weaken the security in Europe, not strengthen it,” says Sergei Markov in the interview. (Source)

Sep. 6, 2014

Feudal Russians Do Not Understand the West

One of the worst mistakes is to explain the enemy from our own paradigm. This pertains particularly to the Russians. They view the world in power blocs. Historically the Russians see their power bloc as Mother Russia and her children, buffers and vassal states that are little more than pawns on a chess board.  If politics warranted it entire populations were deported to other parts of the Empire. From that perspective a former vassal who has the intention of  joining NATO, is an act of aggression. The same goes for NATO itself. Though a defensive treaty, Russia sees it as an aggressive plot against the Empire. Every independent state is free to apply for membership of  NATO, but the Russians wouldn't know freedom and independence if it drifted in their borscht. But they do not get to set the moral standard.
(...) a Russian general has called for Russia to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the U.S. and its NATO allies as Moscow's enemy number one. That in itself is not disturbing: we reported as much yesterday and is merely more rhetorical posturing. Where things, however, get very problematic is that the general demands that Russia spell out the conditions under which the country would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the 28-member military alliance. (...) (Source)

Aug. 24, 2014

Why "War Is Coming to Europe"

July 24, 2014: Interview with Russian Presidential Advisor Sergei Glazyev who said that "war is coming to Europe".
The log on July 29, 2014 mentions a Putin adviser who has predicted that "war is coming to Europe". The above is a larger section of the interview with Sergei Glazyev and we can hear on what basis he has come to that statement. It's a very instructive interview in many respects, as it offers a unique insight into the minds of the Russian rulers. These people wouldn't know Liberty if they happened to fall over it! On the face of it, is sounds rational enough, but if you listen carefully it is a collection of mystical prejudices, propaganda and conspiracy theories in a mindset that is entirely statist (or perhaps even imperialistic). This was the Evil Empire that deported entire populations across the vast Eurasian landmass, stretching from Ukraine to Siberia because it suited their political goals. It's tyranny at its worst. Libertarians and EU haters ignore this at their peril. H/t @JackMarsman

Aug. 10, 2014

Pro or Anti Putin's Russia? 

Authoritarian Vladimir Putin taking Russia on the way to a fascist superstate.

At the moment we see two separate fallacies developing in the West concerning the nature of Putin and Russia. In Libertarian circles it is now fashionable to hate the US and to love Putin. Apparently Putin's Russia is all about individual liberty, non coercion and a limited state - which is of course ludicrous! In Europe the political Right is trapped in another Hegelian tread mill rooted in disgust for the EU. Since the EU is championing Ukrainian independence, the European Right has come out against Brussels and Kiev and pro Putin and Russia. Both stands are equally irrational. Yaron Brook, director of the Ayn Rand Institute explains the right arguments in two podcasts:

  • Why aren’t you taking a pro-Russia stance against Ukraine? (Source)
  • What should the United States do about Russia’s aggression toward the Ukraine? (Source)

July 31, 2014

An Anti Putin Ad For Polish Apples

July 29, 2014

Putin Adviser: "War Is Coming In Europe"

An associate of Putin has made very ominous remarks in the aftermath of the Yukos verdict, which was a triumph for property rights. Yukos was a nationalized privatized petroleum company which, until 2003, was controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. After Yukos was bankrupted, Khodorkovsky was convicted of fraud and sent to prison. He was released earlier this year. (Source) The arbitration court's decision in The Hague last week to rule in favor of Yukos shareholders (and thus against the allegedly "politically motivated" confiscation of the firm's assets by the Russian government) with a $50 billion settlement (half what was sought) has prompted a quick and angry response from the Russian government. ZeroHedge has this:

Having $50 billion of assets under potential seizure is enough to make anyone whince. However, despite a quickly worded statement on the Yukos award, Vladimir Putin seems less than anxious to find a resolution. We think we know why, and it's very concerning. As The FT reports confirming our earlier comments: 
The award is a landmark not just for its size – 20 times the previous record for an arbitration ruling. The tribunal also found definitively that Russia’s pursuit of Yukos and its independently-minded main shareholder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a decade ago was politically motivated. ... Though Russia cannot appeal against the award, Moscow said it would pursue all legal avenues for trying to get it “set aside”. Even if the ruling stands, shareholders face a tortuous battle trying to enforce it. If Moscow refuses to pay, they must pursue Russian sovereign commercial assets in the 150 countries that are party to the so-called 1958 New York Convention on enforcing arbitration awards.
But perhaps this explains why Putin is not coming out swinging, as The FT concludes, 
One person close to Mr Putin said the Yukos ruling was insignificant in light of the bigger geopolitical stand-off over Ukraine. “There is a war coming in Europe,” he said. “Do you really think this matters?” 

July 5, 2014

Putin Is Turning Russia Into A Premodern State

A law banning swearing in film, theater and other forms of art took effect Tuesday, outlawing the profanity abundantly used in works by Russian literary giants like novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky and poets such as Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov. The so-called profanity law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in May, lists the use of four particular swear words and their derivatives — a particularly vulgar and vivacious lexicon known as Russian "mat" — in public performances as punishable by fines of up to 2,500 rubles ($70) for individuals and up to 50,000 rubles for companies and organizations. The 19th century Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, however, devoted an essay praising the all-encompassing expressive powers of one of the simple monosyllabic words now banned under the new law, arguing it could replace all others in Russian speech. And the novelist hardly suffered from a limited vocabulary. (Source)

June 10, 2014

Putin Agrees With Petition to Revert to Stalingrad

This pretty much tells you all you need to know.