Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Russian Pilgrims Prepare for the Hajj

00 russian muslims 120815


The Russian Hajj Committee has begun accepting applications from Russian Muslims for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. According to Rushan Abbyasov, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, republics in the North Caucasus such as Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia send the largest number of pilgrims from Russia to Saudi Arabia. Abbyasov pointed up that Tatarstan also sends a significant amount of pilgrims, adding that there are even a few groups from Siberia and the Russian Far East. The Muslim holy sites became more accessible to Russians after Perestroika. Whilst pilgrims from Russia are more aware of the hardships of undertaking the pilgrimage, they still find the trip physically and mentally challenging, according to Rashid al-Rashid, who works at the Russian Hajj mission, accompanying pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for more than 15 years, saying, “The Russians aren’t as well prepared as pilgrims from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, and Iran. The hot weather and large crowds tend to overwhelm Russian pilgrims. They also take time to adjust to Arabian cuisine”.

This year since, due to the rouble depreciation, the pilgrimage became prohibitively expensive for many Russians. The cost of a package tour doubled; it can be as expensive as 5,000 USD (323,000 Roubles. 32,000 Renminbi. 325,000 INR. 6,520 CAD. 6,850 AUD. 4,500 Euros. 3,200 UK Pounds), which is around half a year’s salary in some regions. Syed Muhammad from the Medina Travel agency said, “A couple of years ago, we had a long list of people willing to go, but this year, we had to run publicity campaigns to attract people”. However, despite the drop in demand, the Hajj mission of Russia requested the Saudi Arabian authorities to increase the Russian quota from 16,400 to 17,000. This increase in quota is to accommodate Crimean Tatars; they used to be Ukrainian citizens, but are now Russian citizens. According to the last census (2010), there are around 14.5 million Muslims in Russia, forming about 10 percent of the population. Immigration from former Soviet republics has pushed up the numbers over the last few years, although there are no updated official statistics available now.

12 August 2015

Russia Behind the Headlines


Sunday, 9 August 2015

KSA Determined to Crash Oil Prices Until American Shale Oil Breathes Its Last



American-German economic researcher and historian F William Engdahl observed that never in its wildest dreams did the Obama administration expect that it’d face a financial disaster after it conspired with Riyadh to drop oil prices and flood the market with cheap petroleum, trying to rerun the highly successful American-Saudi deal of 1986 that weakened the USSR. Although it wasn’t  not made public, on 11 September 2014 US Secretary of State John Kerry and King Abdullah concluded a secret deal to use Saudi “oil muscle” to bring Russia and the Kremlin to its knees. Remarkably, on the very next day, the US Treasury’s aptly-named Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, headed by Treasury Under-Secretary David Cohen imposed new sanctions on Russia’s energy companies Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftgas, and Rosneft and prohibited American oil corporations from participating in Russian offshore oil projects in the Arctic. Engdahl said, with a touch of irony, “Then, just as the rouble was rapidly falling and Russian major corporations were scrambling for dollars for their year-end settlements, a collapse of world oil prices would end Putin’s reign. Clearly, that was the thinking of the hollowed-out souls who pass for statesmen in Washington today. Victoria Nuland was jubilant, praising the precision new financial warfare weapon at David Cohen’s Treasury financial terrorism unit”.

Meanwhile, nothing hinted at any trouble in July 2014… West Texas Intermediate traded at 101 USD (6,460 Roubles. 627 Renminbi. 6,440 INR. 133 CAD. 136 AUD. 92 Euros. 65 UK Pounds) a barrel, and Engdahl noted, “The shale oil bonanza was booming, making the USA into a major oil player for the first time since the 1970’s”. However, when WTI slid to 46 USD (2,940 Roubles. 286 Renminbi. 2,930 INR. 60 CAD. 62 AUD. 42 Euros. 30 UK Pounds) per barrel in January 2015, American strategists suddenly realised that they’d cut their own throat. Indeed, “the over-indebted US shale oil industry” was about to breathe its last because of the plummeting oil price. Although Washington and Wall Street made every effort to artificially stabilise the dire situation (resulting in a slowly rising oil price since February to May, when it hit 62 USD (3,970 Roubles. 385 Renminbi. 3,950 INR. 82 CAD. 84 AUD. 57 Euros. 40 UK Pounds) per barrel), the American political and financial élite underestimated the Saudi factor’s importance.

Engdahl said, “Reportedly, al-Naimi [the Saudi Oil Minister] saw a golden opportunity in the Kerry proposal to use the chance to, at the same time, kill off the growing market challenge from the rising output of the unconventional American shale oil industry. Often, al-Naimi said that he’s determined to eliminate the American shale oil ‘disturbance’ to Saudi domination of world oil market”. Alas, the Saudis are very unhappy with Washington’s shale oil advance and the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration with Tehran. Engdahl emphasised, “In fact, the Saudis are beside themselves with rage against Washington. This has all added up to an iron Saudi determination, aided by close Gulf Arab allies, to further crash oil prices until the expected wave of shale oil company bankruptcies. On 29 July 2015, WTI fell to 49 USD (3,140 Roubles. 305 Renminbi. 3,130 INR. 65 CAD. 66 AUD. 45 Euros. 32 UK Pounds)”.

Morgan Stanley, the Wall Street bank, reported in panic, “We anticipated that OPEC wouldn’t cut, but we didn’t foresee such a sharp increase. This downturn would be more severe than that in 1986. As there was no sharp downturn in the 15 years before that, the current downturn could be the worst of the last 45+ years. If this were to be the case, there would be nothing in our experience that would be a guide to the next phases of this cycle… in fact, there may be nothing in analysable history”. What makes matters even worse for Washington, is that Saudi Arabia, its longstanding and subservient ally, has begun to play its own geopolitical games. On 18 June 2015 Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister and son of King Salman visited Russia and met with  President V V Putin. The parties discussed up to 10 billion USD (640 billion Roubles. 62.07 billion Renminbi. 637.48 billion INR. 13.14 billion CAD. 13.48 billion AUD. 9.12 billion Euros. 6.46 billion UK Pounds) trade deals.

Engdahl remarked, “Today, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer and Russia a close second. A Saudi-Russian alliance on whatever level was hardly in the strategy book of Washington State Department planners”. Engdahl went on to say, “October 2015 is the next key point for American shale oil companies… banks will decide whether to keep funding fading American shale oil production or rollover their loans. At the same time, if the Federal Reserve raises American interest rates in September, highly indebted American shale oil manufacturers would face “disaster of a new scale”. Unfortunately, such a “doomsday” scenario may be accompanied with further unintended consequences for American and global financial system. Indeed, as a proverb says, “Curses, like chickens, come home to roost.”

8 August 2015

Sputnik International


Thursday, 14 May 2015

14 May 2015. The Saudis Want to Lynch Nimr Baqr al-Nimr… Where is America’s Self-Righteous Indignation?

00 ayatollah Nimr al-Nimr. 14.05.15


Ayatollah Nimr Baqr al-Nimr is a Shia cleric in the KSA. Ayatollah al-Nimr called for protestors to resist police bullets using “the roar of the word” and not violence… he scares the bejesus out of the American client junta in Riyadh. He said, “If we can’t have our honour and dignity back, I call for Saudi Shiites to secede. Our dignity is more important than the country’s integrity is”. He told the Saudi régime, “If a foreign country is responsible for the Shiite protests, why not attack it? Why are you attacking us miserable peons? Well, if you mean Iran, then, attack Iran.. then, we’d all see how much power you have”. Another time, he said, “The [Saudi] authorities depend on bullets… on killing and imprisonment. We must depend on the roar of the word, on the words of justice. We don’t accept [using guns]. This isn’t our way. We’d lose; it isn’t in our favour. Our approach is to [use words]. We welcome those who follow such an attitude. Nonetheless, we can’t enforce our ideology on those who want to pursue different approaches, who don’t subscribe to ours. The weapon of the word is stronger than the power of lead”. The House of Saud American collaborator pigs want to hang him… most countries have formally protested this… but NOT the USA and UK… fancy that.

One last thing… the Shiite population of the KSA is mainly in oil-producing regions… I thought that you’d like to know that. Look at how the human rights-loving Anglo Americans coddle their Saudi, Kosovar, and “Ukrainian” puppet juntas. I call such people liars… I’m not alone in that, y’ know…


Friday, 27 March 2015

Lavrov Sez USA Uses Hypocritical Double Standard in Yemen and the Ukraine

00 Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi. 06.12


On Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs S V Lavrov said at a press conference that American approaches towards ousted Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and former Ukrainian President V F Yanukovich represent double standards, saying, “I have to use a much-employed cliché… its obvious double standards, but we clearly didn’t want either what’s happening in the Ukraine, nor what’s happening in Yemen”.

On Wednesday, a Saudi Arabian-led coalition, which includes Bahrain, Qatar, and Egypt, launched airstrikes against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen following a request by Hadi. The USA isn’t participating in the military operation, but agreed to provide logistical and intelligence support. Yemen has been in political turmoil since Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa, the capital, and ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in late January. Currently, Houthi fighters are battling government troops in the central part of the country, whilst al-Qaeda militants make advances in the south. On 12 February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Yemen was sitting on the brink of collapse amidst continuing violence in the country.

Lavrov said, “These games played out in confrontations between Sunnis and Shiites are very dangerous. There’s no other solution for Yemen apart from renewing negotiations, which were in process, mediated by the Special Representative of the UN General Secretariat. We insist on this, we hope that other countries involved in the Yemen situation in one way or another will act accordingly”.

27 March 2015

Sputnik International


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