Voices from Russia

Saturday, 26 April 2014

¡Viva Putinismo!

00 Putin vs Obama. 11.11.13


Tell me your Ukraine and I’ll tell you who you are. The Ukrainian crisis is a political Rorschach test, not just for people, but also for states. What it reveals to us isn’t encouraging for the West. It turns out that Vladimir Putin has more admirers around the world than you might expect for someone using a neo-Soviet combination of violence and the big lie to dismember a neighbouring sovereign state. When I say admirers, I don’t just mean the governments of Venezuela and Syria, two of his most vocal supporters. Russia’s strongman garners tacit support, and even some quiet plaudits, from some of the world’s most important emerging powers, starting with China and India.

During a recent visit to China, people kept asking me what was going on in the Ukraine, and I kept asking in return about the Chinese attitude to it. Didn’t a country which so consistently defended the principle of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of existing states (be they former Yugoslavia or Iraq), and which itself has a couple of prospective Crimeas (Tibet, Xinjiang), feel uneasy about Russia simply grabbing a chunk of a neighbouring country? They replied, “Well, that’s a slight concern, but the Ukraine’s a long way away and, frankly speaking, the positives of the crisis outweighed the negatives for China. The USA would have another strategic distraction (after al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Iraq) to hinder its “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region and divert its attention from China. Cold-shouldered by the West, Russia would be more dependent on a good relationship with Beijing. As for the Ukraine, which already sells China higher-grade military equipment than Russia has so far been willing to share with its great Asian ally… why, the new Ukrainian authorities already quietly assured the Chinese authorities that Beijing’s failure to condemn Crimea’s annexation wouldn’t affect their future relations. What’s not to like in all that?”

Beside this realpolitik, some told me that there’s also an emotional part. Chinese leaders such as Xi Jinping, who grew up under Chairman Mao, still instinctively warmed to the idea of another non-western leader standing up to the capitalist and imperialist West. One well-informed observer said, “Xi likes Putin’s Russia”. Chinese media commentary became more cautious since Putin moved on from Crimea to stirring the pot in eastern Ukraine. The nationalist Global Times, which last month spoke of “Crimea’s return to Russia”, now warns, “The Ukraine’s eastern region is different from the Crimea. The region’s secession from the Ukraine strikes a direct blow to territorial integrity guaranteed by international law” (but then, Putin isn’t aiming at outright secession… just a Finlandised Greater Bosnia, a neutral country with a “federalism” so far-reaching that the eastern regions would become Bosnia-style entities, within a Russian sphere of influence). However, this growing concern didn’t apparently cool the warmth of the welcome given to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Beijing on Tuesday. President Xi said that relations between China and Russia “are at their best” and played “an irreplaceable role in maintaining world peace and stability”. The Chinese Foreign Ministry pronounced China-Russia to be the “major-country relationship that boasts the richest contents, the highest level, and the greatest strategic significance”. Cry your eyes out, USA. Beijing looks forward to welcoming President Putin for a major summit next month.

It isn’t just China. A friend of mine has just returned from India. He noted that, with the likely electoral success of Narendra Modi and the growth of India’s own “crony capitalism”, liberal Indian friends fear that the world’s largest democracy might be getting its own version of Putinismo. In any case, so far, India effectively sides with Russia and not the West over the Ukraine. Last month, President Putin thanked India for its “restrained and objective” stance on Crimea. India’s postcolonial obsession with sovereignty, and resentment of any hint of Western liberal imperialism, plays out… rather illogically… in support for a country that’s just dramatically violated its neighbour’s sovereignty. An Indian satirical magazine even suggested that India hired Putin as “the chief strategic consultant to bring a once-for-all end to the Kashmir issue”. Oh, and by the way, India gets a lot of its arms from Russia. It isn’t just India. Russia’s two other partners in the so-called BRICS group, Brazil and South Africa, both abstained on the UN General Assembly resolution criticising the Crimea referendum. They also joined Russia in expressing “concern” at the Australian Foreign Minister’s suggestion that Putin might be barred from attending a G-20 summit in November. The Russian ambassador to South Africa expressed appreciation for its “balanced” attitude.

What the West faces here is the uncoiling of two giant springs. One, which has been extensively commented upon, is the coiled spring of Mother Russia’s resentment at the way her empire shrank over the last 25 years… all the way back from the heart of Germany to the heart of Kievan Rus. The other is the coiled spring of resentment at centuries of Western colonial domination. This takes very different forms in different BRICS countries and members of the G-20. They certainly don’t all have China’s monolithic relentless narrative of national humiliation since Britain’s Opium Wars. However, one way or another, they do share a strong and prickly concern for their own sovereignty, a resistance to North Americans and Europeans telling them what’s good for them, and a certain instinctive glee, or Schadenfreude, at seeing Uncle Sam (not to mention little John Bull) being poked in the eye by that pugnacious Russian. ¡Viva Putinismo!

Obviously, this isn’t the immediate issue on the ground in the Ukraine, but it’s another big vista opened up by the East European crisis. In this broader geopolitical sense, take note… as we go deeper into the 21st century, there will be more Ukraines.


Note this:

Putin isn’t aiming at outright secession… just a Finlandised Greater Bosnia, a neutral country with a “federalism” so far-reaching that the eastern regions would become Bosnia-style entities, within a Russian sphere of influence.

I think that this is what VVP wants… but the American intervention may lead to the Ukraine breaking apart because the Kiev junta won’t compromise due to American “support”. The junta doesn’t realise that the USA isn’t going to commit serious military forces or aid, and that it isn’t going to go to war over the East Bank. It’ll refuse to recognise the 11 May referendums… that’ll lead to the eastern regions seceding. In short, the USA will bring about the very situation that it claims that it wants to avoid. Of course, that leads to the question, is it a matter of incompetence or it is a matter of not wishing to put more assets into an unthrifty entity? I think that it’s a combination of the two… that means confusion and bloodshed in the near term. Mark this down well… Nuland, Zbig, Biden, Kerry, and all the neocons will sleep very well. It doesn’t affect their pay packet and status quo, so, it doesn’t matter…


21 April 2014

Timothy Garton Ash

Professor of European Studies at Oxford University

Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University



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Friday, 27 December 2013

Famed AK-47 Inventor Kalashnikov Buried in New Military Cemetery Outside Moscow

00 Kalashnikov. funeral. 27.12.13


00 Kalashnikov. funeral 01. 27.12.13


00 Kalashnikov. Putin. 27.12.13


Editor’s Note:

Mikhail Timofeyevich was an Orthodox Christian. Light a candle in his memory at Liturgy, ask your priest to mention his name in the Proskomidi, and have Pannikhida said for him. That’s what real Christians do, and that’s what our duty is. That’s what God asks of us… not waving signs or condemning this one or that one. “Save your own soul and thousands will be saved about you“… that’s the ticket.



The burial of Russia’s most famous small-arms designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov took place Friday at a new military cemetery outside Moscow. Mikhail Timofeyevich died Monday at the age of 94. President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, and a host of other high-ranking officials came to pay their respects at the funeral, held with full state honours at the Federal Military Memorial Complex in Mytishchi Raion. Putin laid red roses on the coffin and offered condolences to Kalashnikov’s family members. The military paid a fitting last tribute to Kalashnikov with salvoes fired from the AK-47, the iconic assault rifle that he designed, and which brought him lasting fame. At the funeral, Yelena Kalashnikova, daughter of the famed weapons designer, said that her father dedicated his whole life to the service of the Motherland and “never thought of anything else”. Initial plans called for Kalashnikov’s burial to take place in his hometown of Izhevsk, the capital of the Udmurt Republic. However, the Russian leadership decided that the burial of a man who made such a significant contribution to the country’s defence and who held the title of Hero of Russia, amongst other honours, should be in a more prominent place. Over 60,000 people paid their last respects to Kalashnikov in two days of mourning in Izhevsk before the taking of his coffin to Moscow by plane on Thursday.

The Kalashnikov Group, the newly-formed small-arms holding that still manufactures derivatives of the AK-47, said that it plans to turn Kalashnikov’s office into a small museum and to set up an award bearing his name to honour its best branches and employees. Already, Izhevsk has a dedicated Kalashnikov museum, opened in 2004, that includes a range where visitors can fire air gun copies of AK series weapons on a range. An estimated 100 million AK-47s were built worldwide since it went into mass production in February 1947. In at least 55 countries, armed forces, guerilla groups, terrorists, and even common thugs still favour the reliable and easy-to-use assault rifle. Thirty countries, including Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, and South Africa, make derivatives of the AK-47, which has a vodka and even a rap song named after it.

27 December 2013



Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Think The Whole World Is Honouring Mandela? Not These American Conservatives

00 What Would Jesus Do. Terry Jones. Political Cartoon. 9.12
Let’s do what Christ would do… now, that’s RELIGION… and that’s a PLAN!


On Tuesday, world leaders and public figures from across the globe gathered in Johannesburg to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and revered anti-apartheid crusader. For what seemed like the first time in years, Democrats and Republicans united… in their tributes to Mandela. At the memorial service, the climate of respect for Madiba was so deep that US President Barack Obama even shook hands with Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz. So, of course, Mandela’s death has inspired similar feelings among Americans themselves. Or, has it? Sadly, no. As conservative politicians like Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio took to Facebook and Twitter to honour Mandela, some of their constituents did the opposite. Such posts were flooded with highly-rated comments calling Mandela a Communist, killer, and liar, accusing these same conservative politicians of getting into bed with the supposed secret Communist terrorist menace symbolised by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Mandela.

Soon after Mandela’s death on Thursday night, Gingrich wrote a short, deeply felt tribute to Mandela, calling him “one of the greatest leaders of our lifetime” and “the father of an integrated democratic South Africa”. Alarmingly, Gingrich’s support for Mandela enraged many of his supporters. Many of their attacks on Gingrich and Mandela were racial:

  • He hated America, Newt. Quit pandering to the blacks”.
  • “Come on Newt. He was a communist and a murder similar to our currant [sic] president. Are you too being baffled by the main stream media”.

Backlash against Gingrich from his supporters was so great that the former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate felt compelled to write an even longer separate post, praising Mandela, and asking his commenters what they would’ve done in his place. Gingrich even went on to discuss his horror at the comments on CNN, saying, “If you’d been imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of them in a cell eight foot by seven foot, how do you think you would’ve emerged? Would you have been angry? Would you have been bitter? Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison as an astonishingly wise, patient, and compassionate person… before you criticise him, ask yourself, what would you have done in his circumstances?”

Still, Gingrich’s most hardcore supporters refused to listen. One commenter… who clearly has no idea what apartheid entailed, or of what South Africa has become… wrote:

  • “[Mandela] didn’t turn S. Africa into a place of equality. He flipped the roles and has now made it racist toward all white people… So I am sorry Mr. Gingrich, but I will never honor a butchering communist”.
  • “Mandella and Fidel Castro were best friends. That’s all I need to know. That and Obama woshiped [sic] him. ’nuff said”.

Gingrich was far from the only Republican to suffer a major backlash over supporting Mandela. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote, “Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe”, and it wasn’t long before his supporters, too, let loose racially-charged, supposedly anti-Communist, nonsense:

  • “Why don’t all you Mandela lovers head on over to South Africa and see what’s going on now that ‘Mandela’s people’ have control of the nation. … Get out and go mix with the people, experience what life is really like. Especially if you’re white”.
  • “He was also a huge supporter of abortion! Don’t put him too high up! Careful Mr Cruz”
  • Another replied, using some of the most obvious racist code words: “It’s the one thing Mandela got right. Abortion among his supporters improves humanity as a whole”.

Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) received similar hate after praising Mandela’s “perseverance in fighting the apartheid system”. A concise poster wrote:

  • “glad he’s dead”.
  • “John, from your comments does it mean you support communism and the killing of white people?”

10 December 2013

Eric Brown

International Business Times


Editor’s Note:

The comments speak for themselves. It’s not for nothing that the GOP is the “Stupid Party”. Remember… it defends the greed of the unfettered Free Market. “The love of money is the root of all evil”… that says it all, and it says why NO Christian can support the godless agenda of the Republican Party. No… being anti-abortion doesn’t cancel out indiscriminate drone strikes, unlimited extrajudicial detention, the promiscuous use of capital punishment, coddling of the Affluent Effluent, and attacks against social programmes. It’s EVIL… that’s all that I can say. I oppose all who support such demonic rubbish… especially, the “clergy” who do so. I’ll see you on the other side of the barricades… now, that’s “’nuff said”.

Nevertheless, the Republicans who spoke well of Mandela DID stick out their necks, the contemporary GOP being what it’s become. I bow to them in that. Courage is courage, and, sometimes, your foe shows it. Acknowledge it or be found a pig. That’s that…


Friday, 6 September 2013

Putin sez Russia will Help Syria in Case of External Military Strike

00 Russian and Chinese soldiers. 06.09.13

Chinese soldiers present gifts to Russian soldiers in Chelyabinsk on 7 August 2013. Russian soldiers participating in the Peace Mission-2013 ChinaRussia joint military drill visited a Chinese cultural centre set up in the field, in which they enjoyed many aspects of Chinese culture. The American drive for global hegemony is driving many countries together… it looks as though more will join the anti-American coalition.


On Friday, at a press conference following the G20 summit in St Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin said, “Will we help Syria? We will”. Putin added that the USA and other countries would make themselves outlaws if they launched a military operation in Syria. He said, “I presume that everything concerning the so-called use of chemical weapons was a provocation on the part of fighters who expected outside assistance, I mean assistance from countries that supported them from the very start. This is the essence of this provocation. The use of force against a sovereign state is only possible if one does it in self-defence and, as we know, Syria isn’t attacking the USA, nor was there a decision made by the UN Security Council. As one participant in our discussion said, those who act otherwise put themselves outside the law. At this time, which is generally difficult for the world economy, to say the least, it’d be counterproductive to destabilise the situation in the Middle East“.

President Putin pointed up that the USA, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and France supported a military operation against Syria, whilst Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Italy opposed the option at the G20 summit, saying in response to a journalist who suggested that the G20 divided approximately 50/50 over the need for a military strike on Syria, “You said the vote was 50/50. This isn’t quite so and I can tell you who was in favour of military operations. As you know, those were the USA, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and France”. Putin went on to say, “Categorical objections were raised by Russia, China, India, and Indonesia and I’d like to call your attention to the fact that this is the world’s largest Islamic country, in terms of population, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Italy”.

Putin hadn’t forgotten that British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in favour of a military intervention in Syria, but the British parliament voted down the proposition. He said, “The German Bundeskanzlerin is also extremely cautious. Germany isn’t going to get involved in any military operations”. Putin said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opposed military operations against Syria, too, but Putin also said that he was surprised with the positions of certain G20 states on Syria, noting, “Last night, the Indian Prime Minister unexpectedly said that he was categorically against any military operation. The position of the Indonesian President, which is the largest Islamic country in the world with a population of, I think, 350 million {VVP is a bit off… Indonesia’s population is a tad under 240 million: editor}, came as a surprise to me. The Brazilian President took an absolutely firm stand, and the South African President did, too”.

Putin also said that he had a conversation with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit. According to Putin, the short dialogue was friendly, although they agreed to differ on certain issues. Putin said at a press conference following the G20 summit, “This was a very substantive, constructive, and friendly conversation. At least, it took place in a friendly atmosphere. Each of us stuck to our opinions, but dialogue exists”.

 6 September 2013

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Russia’s upped the ante. Its forces are on enhanced alert and VVP made it clear that he was going to stand by his Syrian ally. I hope that the current imbroglio doesn’t turn into July 1914. I truly do… the USA is playing with matches around dynamite, though. If you needed proof that the USA, as a society, is juvenile, violent, and unrestrained, well, this is it. God do keep us… for it looks as though the establishment in the USA has committed itself to a death ride. May the chalice pass from us… please…


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