“Putin’s three greatest ‘achievements’ – unifying Ukraine, the US and the West” and other neglected Russian stories

Image: Alexander Petrosyan

Image: Alexander Petrosyan 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore.

Consequently, Windows on Eurasia each week presents a selection of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 93rd such compilation, and it is again a double issue with 26 from Russia and 13 from Russia’s neighbors. Even then, it is far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.

1. Putin’s Three Greatest ‘Achievements’ – Unifying Ukraine, the US and the West

Various Russian and Ukrainian commentators have pointed out that Vladimir Putin can count among his greatest “achievements” three things he certainly didn’t want: a unified Ukraine, a unified US, and a unified West.

Moreover, some of them are suggesting that the arrest of the late Uzbekistan dictator’s daughter has frightened him more than the new Western sanctions, even though they, like the Magnitsky list, are intended to send Putin’s entourage the message that the Kremlin leader can no longer defend them.

Other Putin news this past week:

  • He was named a friend of Muslims by the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
  • He managed to avoid saying anything about the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Terror,
  • And he refused to agree to become the coach of the Russian football team although he did say he would think about running for president again.

Meanwhile, an anti-Putin site in a satirical piece suggested that Russian scholars are working on a special medication to allow Putin to live another 60 or 70 years so that he can run for president five or six more times.

2. Trump, ‘Weak and No Longer Ours,” Sees His Support in Russia Fall by More than 50 Percent

Following the overwhelming Congressional vote to increase sanctions on Russia and not allow the president to change them without legislative approval and Donald Trump’s announcement that he would sign the measure, Dmitry Medvedev described the US president as “weak” and “no longer ours.” That led Trump to criticize the Congress for its action.

Meanwhile, a new poll found that only 18 percent of Russians have a positive view of Trump, down from 38 percent earlier this year. And Russian outlets picked up on US commentaries suggesting that “Trump is a minor figure in Russian organized crimes.”

3. Russian Politics Changing in ‘Agony of a Dying Democracy’

A leading Moscow newspaper says that the upcoming presidential election in Russia is emblematic of the fact that the country is living through “the agony of a dying democracy.”

But as that happens, there are some political changes worth noting:

  • Vladimir Zhirinovsky has called for the three systemic opposition parties to unite,
  • An analysis of the Duma shows that in the last Duma, 17 deputies did absolutely nothing,
  • United Russia is setting up a Soviet-style party school for its apparatchiks,
  • And analysts are suggesting that Putin’s presidential plenipotentiary system has exhausted its utility for the Kremlin.

4. Russian Central Bank Urges Russians ‘to Think Less’ about Economic Problems

The Kremlin media report on the problems of the Russian economy less than they deserve, but even so Russians are very much aware that things are tough. Now the Central Bank has come up with a new “solution.” It says that Russians should “think less” about problems in the economy like inflation.

Among other bad economic news:

  • Russia’s GDP has now fallen back to its 2012 level,
  • More than half of Russians now fear that they won’t be paid in a timely manner,
  • And experts say that the government won’t be able to pay its employees their salaries by the end of this year now that reserves are gone,
  • Another poll found that 42 percent of Russians don’t think Moscow will help them get with their economic difficulties,
  • And only four percent think the state will allow them to get out of poverty,
  • And a third of Russians are now relying on private plots for food much as they did in Soviet times.

Other disturbing news included:

  • Reports that Western pension funds now own millions of hectares of Russian land,
  • Industrial production has fallen by six percent so far this year,
  • Purchases of high-end dachas have fallen by 30 percent since last year,
  • Housing construction has collapsed,
  • Real incomes are down 20 percent since 2014,
  • And savings are disappearing.

Russian economists are saying that even if the Kremlin can cope with sanctions in the short term, their long term impact will leave Russia ever further behind the West.

Not surprisingly, ever more articles in the Russian media include headlines like “Life in Russia is getting worse with each day.”

5. Polls Showing Russians Upbeat Reflect Fact that They Believe Things are Worse in Ukraine

Analysts say that recent polls, much celebrated by the regime, showing that a greater share of Russians are happy today than ever before reflect not a judgment on their own situation but rather their sense that things are even worse in neighboring Ukraine.

Other disturbing social news this week included:

  • Residents of six districts in the Kuban say that serfdom has returned there (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/307185/),
  • Family violence is spreading across Russia (ru.krymr.com/a/28645591.html),
  • Fewer than a million Russian marriages occurred last year, the smallest number since 2004 (newsland.com/community/6437/content/brak-utratil-smysl-v-2016-godu-v-brak-vstupili-menee-1-mln-rossiian/5934701 ),
  • Workplace suicides are on the rise (politsovet.ru/56079-uralcy-stali-chasche-sovershat-suicidy-na-rabote.html),
  • A Leningrad oblast man took out a loan to pay for the murder of his wife (asiarussia.ru/news/17188/),
  • Surveys show that young Russians are less patriotic, less collectivist and less interested in religious values than their parents (ruskline.ru/analitika/2017/08/02/tendencii_izmenenij_v_cennostyah_rossijskoj_molodezhi/),
  • And half of Russians still say you can’t do business without paying bribes (takiedela.ru/news/2017/08/03/ne-podmazhesh/).

6. Being Orthodox Doesn’t Mean Pro-Putin, Expert Says

The Kremlin mistakenly assumes that those who identify as Orthodox are invariably pro-Putin but that is not the case (republic.ru/posts/85542), despite the fact that the church cooperates with the state in attacking secularism (ng.ru/facts/2017-08-02/14_425_sud.html).

The church has its own agenda:

  • It recently attacked all those who study abroad (newsland.com/community/4375/content/v-rpts-obiavili-o-vrede-ucheby-za-granitsei-tam-detiam-meniaiut-soznanie/5935705),
  • It is pushing for an ever greater voice in educational matters, something that is sparking dissent (novayagazeta.ru/news/2017/07/29/133952-uchenye-podali-kollektivnuyu-apellyatsiyu-na-prisuzhdenie-stepeni-kandidata-teologii),
  • And it is successfully demanding the “return” of property that was never its in the first place (interfax-.ru/?act=news&div=67836 and znak.com/2017-08-02/rpc_pytaetsya_poluchit_v_sobstvennost_tri_kolledzha_v_centre_ekaterinburga).

Meanwhile, in another religious development, the RIA news agency reported that the Orthodox church is increasingly hiring Muslim workers to build new churches in Moscow (ria.ru//20170731/1499461716.html).

7. Racial Profiling Only Most Visible Ethnic Problem This Week

Russian police are increasingly singling out those who fit the image they have of ethnic minorities and especially Chechens, an approach that is outraging many non-Russians (kavpolit.com/articles/o_voronezhskom_intsidente_v_svete_rossijskogo_zako-35025/, nazaccent.ru/content/24895-v-voronezhe-ishut-zhenshinu-poslavshuyu-chechenok.html and kavkazr.com/a/voronezh-ne-dlya-chechentsev/28644875.html).

Other developments included:

  • Non-Russians were dramatically underrepresented in Presidential Grants this year (nazaccent.ru/content/24945-delu-dengi-potehe-net.html), but the Russian nationalist Night Wolves also came up short, not getting anything for the first time since 2012 (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=597F78AC5629C).
  • Stories appeared about efforts to kill Ramzan Kadyrov (svpressa.ru/accidents/article/177924/) and also about the support he reportedly has among the Jews of Chechnya (ng.ru/facts/2017-08-02/9_425_grozny.html).
  • Tatar nationalists of the Vatan organization called on Kazan to defend their republic’s sovereignty against Moscow (agonia-ru.com/archives/10176),
  • Moscow promotes Kryashen movement against Tatars (nazaccent.ru/content/24916-v-rossii-poyavitsya-pervyj-mezhregionalnyj-kulturnyj.html),
  • A major court case has arisen as a result of a hospital mistakenly confusing a Bashkir and an ethnic Russian baby and giving them to the wrong parents (nazaccent.ru/content/24888-ot-chelyabinskogo-roddoma-trebuyut-3-mln.html),

And Russian officials have been throwing up additional obstacles to prevent Circassians from gaining Russian citizenship (nazaccent.ru/content/24919-den-repatrianta-otmetili-v-adygee.html http://www.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/307028/).

But there was one development this week that may cast an enormous positive shadow on the future: Adygey librarians have posted online the texts of numerous rare Circassian books from the 1920s and 1930s, a model for other non-Russian nations (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/1927/posts/29406 and nb-ra.ru/bib_servises/neb/neb.php).

8. Regional Leaders Increasingly Hiring Their Relatives

It is not just in Moscow that nepotism is rampant. In many regions, top leaders are appointing their relatives to key positions (kavkazr.com/a/vsem-mozhno-a-kadyrovu-nelzya/28655127.html).

Many Russians are concerned about both widespread forest fires in Siberia and the Far East and the sale of timber from there to China (newsland.com/community/7451/content/lesa-sibiri-i-dalnego-vostoka-bezzhalostno-vyrubaiut-radi-eksporta-v-kitai/5941048 and nakanune.ru/news/2017/8/1/22478066/).

And the activities of the regional elites have stirred increasing concern in Moscow (afterempire.info/2017/08/03/ural-problems/).

9. Russia Now has More than One Million Registered HIV Cases

Russian medical officials say that the number of Russians infected with the HIV/AIDS virus and registered with the state has passed one million, with the real total undoubtedly higher (newsland.com/community/4765/content/v-rossii-uzhe-bolee-milliona-vich-infitsirovannykh-rekord-za-vsiu-istoriiu-nabliudenii/5942597).

Other medical news included:

  • Commentators say the Russian elite doesn’t care about oncological services in Russia because its members go abroad for treatment. Poorer Russians can’t and are protesting and dying as a result (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59842F317FCFE and svpressa.ru/online/sptv/177747/).
  • The quality of Russian tap water is so bad that Russians have continued to buy bottled water even when they have cut back on food (profile.ru/economics/item/118812-zhazhda-pribyli).
  • Human DNA has been found in Moscow sausages (regnum.ru/news/accidents/2307070.html).
  • The cost of medicine is increasing three times as fast as overall inflation (newsland.com/community/129/content/rost-tsen-na-lekarstva-prevysil-infliatsiiu-v-tri-raza/5941812).
  • Under Putin’s health optimization program, almost 9,000 of Russia’s 80,000 villages with fewer than 100 residents do not have access to any medical care within an hour’s travel time of their homes (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59807ED3D6919).

10. Protests of All Kinds Continue to Spread

The long-haul truckers have resumed their strike with a convoy through major cities, but the biggest protests of the week were by opponents of the film “Mathilda.” Those protests which in many cases enjoy the backing of the authorities are backfiring because they have stimulated enormous interest in the move among many Russians (echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/2029528-echo/, politsovet.ru/56127-sud-v-ekaterinburge-otkazalsya-shtrafovat-uchastnikov-stoyaniya-protiv-matildy.html and openrussia.org/notes/712232/).

Some Russians who wanted to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the Great Terror were able to; others were blocked by the authorities (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5982D777532F4, 7×7-journal.ru/anewsitem/97349 and politsovet.ru/56140-gibdd-ne-dala-provesti-shestvie-v-pamyat-o-zhertvah-repressiy-v-ekaterinburge.html).

One protest this week was successful: After officials fired Russia’s teacher of the year for taking part in opposition activities, popular anger forced them to reverse course and return her to the classroom (newizv.ru/news/society/03-08-2017/pobeda-glasnosti-uchitel-goda-iz-sergieva-posada-vernulsya-v-shkolu).

11. Moscow Worried Repression May Be Increasing Protests

Some Russian officials believe that the amount of repression the government has used has not intimidated people but rather sparked more dissent. Some want to cut back on repression, but others likely believe that the only answer to protest is more repression (kommersant.ru/doc/3373024, polit.ru/article/2017/08/03/thelaw/ and politsovet.ru/56106-nad-novym-zakonom-o-mitingah-budet-rabotat-rosgvardiya.html). [Presumably no one is suggesting doing what Stalin did when he launched the great terror: introducing champagne and ice cream in Soviet stores for the first time (moslenta.ru/eda/morozhenoe-ili-kommunizm.htm).]

At least repression appears to be on the rise:

  • The Federation Council has called on the FSB to check all academic papers before publication (meduza.io/news/2017/07/29/sovet-federatsii-poprosit-fsb-proverit-izdatelskuyu-deyatelnost-ran-na-sootvetstve-natsionalnym-interesam),
  • The FSB has stepped up checks on St. Petersburg metro riders to the anger of many (afterempire.info/2017/07/31/metro/).
  • Attacks on journalists and rights activists have increased, including violent ones by “private” citizens (ng.ru/politics/2017-07-31/1_7040_russia.html, kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59835F41ECC25, https://www.novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/07/31/73282-hozyaeva-zhizney, and svpressa.ru/society/article/177908/).
  • More evidence of torture and extrajudicial murder has surfaced in Chechnya (echo.msk.ru/news/2028466-echo.html).
  • Pro-Putin groups have continued to attack the offices of opposition figure Aleksey Navalny (agonia-ru.com/archives/10132).
  • Russia’s answer to Jerry Springer quit saying that there was too much political pressure on his show (themoscowtimes.com/news/host-of-russian-jerry-springer-quites-because-show-became-too-politicized-58574).
  • Siloviki broke up a Roma village in Tatarstan (idelreal.org/a/28656608.html).
  • Evidence surfaced about mistreatment of people in a Bryansk psychiatric facility (meduza.io/news/2017/08/03/zavedeno-ugolovnoe-delo-ob-izdevatelstvah-v-psihonevrologicheskom-internate-v-bryanskoy-oblasti-patsientov-prikovyvali-tsepyami).
  • But an FSB officer who murdered his wife and children got off by means of a psychiatric defense: his lawyers claimed he is a schizophrenic (sobkorr.ru/news/598426A7E0E21.html).

12. FSB Says It has Captured Underground Criminal Group Producing and Selling Arms to Population

The FSB says it has succeeded in arresting the members of a criminal group that had been selling weapons to the population (fsb.ru/fsb/press/message/single.htm%21id%3D10438174%40fsbMessage.html). That announcement came as a group of criminals tried to shoot their way out of a Moscow court (mk.ru/incident/2017/08/01/v-mosoblsude-proizoshla-strelba-est-postradavshie.html), the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee complained about rising violence in the military (ng.ru/politics/2017-08-02/3_7043_army.html), and as polls in several cities showed that many people don’t feel safe anymore (fedpress.ru/news/45/society/1828671).

Meanwhile, an anonymous caller said he was prepared to blow up all railroad stations in Russia unless he was paid off. He has not yet been captured (ura.news/news/1052299030).

13. Reuters Says Russian Forces Have Lost 40 Killed in Syria

The Reuters news agency says that Russian forces have suffered 40 killed in action in Syria, vastly more than Moscow has acknowledged. Russian officials immediately denounced the agency report as a provocation (echo.msk.ru/news/2029852-echo.html).

Meanwhile, the travails of Russia’s defense industry were highlighted this week by a continuing debate on whether Russia can build six aircraft carriers as Putin has called for (versia.ru/v-rossii-planiruetsya-stroitelstvo-shesti-avianoscev), why Moscow officials think they can build ships at a yard that is now in ruins (svpressa.ru/war21/article/178172/), and how the country can be a naval power given that only 47 of its 291 capital ships were built in Putin’s time.

Most go back to the era of the Soviet Union (newsland.com/community/129/content/pri-putine-vvedeno-tolko-16-korablei-nyneshnikh-vmf-rossii-pozor-a-skolko-iakht-dlia-oligarkhov/5938262). But the Kremlin thinks it has a magic bullet: the daughter of Putin’s press spokesman who despite lacking any experience is now giving directions at a shipyard in Sevastopol (newsland.com/community/129/content/elizaveta-peskova-priedet-v-sevastopol-reshat-problemy-mestnogo-sudoremontnogo-zavoda/5937913).

14. Putin Promises to Keep Lenin in Mausoleum until at Least 2024, Zyuganov Says

The head of the KPRF says Putin has told him that he won’t bury Lenin before the centenary of the Bolshevik leader’s death. Zyganov also opined that the mausoleum constituted a Russian Orthodox funeral and should be respected as such (newsland.com/community/43/content/ziuganov-schitaet-chto-lenin-pokhoronen-po-pravoslavnomu-kanonu/5938681 and newsland.com/community/5392/content/perezakhoronenie-tela-lenina-ne-budet-do-2024-goda-prezident-obeshchal/5939566).

On other fronts of the monuments war:

  • The Moscow Patriarchate says it will take control of St. Isaac’s in the near future (fedpress.ru/news/78/realty/1831568),
  • Officials in the Transbaikal are defending their decision to keep Soviet monuments up by saying that this will attract Chinese tourists (regnum.ru/news/society/2306965.html),
  • The demand for statues of older Russian imperial heroes is so great that sculptures are copying Greek and Roman antiquities when they don’t have a reliable picture of the individual in question (echo.msk.ru/blog/varlamov_i/2027402-echo/),
  • A new state of Nicholas II has gone up and other has been attacked (echo.msk.ru/blog/day_photo/2029164-echo/ and interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=67824), a
  • And yet another memorial to a leader of the pre-1917 Black Hundreds organization has been erected (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2017/07/31/v_pamyat_patriota_rossii/).

15. Pressure Mounts at Home and Abroad to Strip Moscow of 2018 World Cup Competition

Igor Eidman has detailed the increasing acceptance of the arguments of those who say Russia should not be allowed to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1571597369569903&id=100001589654713).

Eight US senators have urged FIFA to take the competition away from Moscow (newsader.com/38347-senat-ssha-prizval-fifa-lishit-rossiyu-chm-2018-i/). And FIFA itself has launched an investigation into Moscow’s exploitation of North Korean workers to build its stadiums (newsland.com/community/8181/content/fifa-prizvali-proverit-fakty-ekspluatatsii-rabochikh-iz-kndr-na-stroikakh-obektov-chm-2018/5941081).

Meanwhile, WADA has said that Moscow must accept the McClaren anti-doping report in full to be rehabilitated in international competition (rbc.ru/politics/03/08/2017/5982d5139a7947e196ea835c?from=main), and more Russian athletes have been disqualified and stripped of their medals for illegal drug use in the past (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/08/02/1635528.html and newsland.com/community/8181/content/piat-medalei-zavoevannykh-rossiiskimi-legkoatletami-otdali-novym-obladateliam/5942783).

The IAAF has banned Russian athletes from using the flag during competition, something Moscow says it doesn’t consider insulting (newsland.com/community/8181/content/iaaf-zapretila-rossiiskim-legkoatletam-pet-i-slushat-gimn-vo-vremia-chm/5937475 and newsland.com/community/5652/content/ministr-a-ne-schitaet-zapret-na-gimn-i-flag-rossii-unizitelnym/5939161).

More Russians are protesting the construction of a parking lot for the competition on the Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, incuding local people, architects, deputies, and the Navalny campaign (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/307062/, kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/306904/, kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/307149/ and kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/306820/).

Meanwhile, regional governments are complaining about the costs they are having to bear in support of the competition (politsovet.ru/56096-ekaterinburg-potratit-4-milliona-na-formu-dlya-volonterov-chm-2018.html), and Moscow is talking about the modern drunk tanks it plans for those attending, a discussion that calls attention to what is a real matter of concern (ng.ru/titus/2017-08-01/1_7041_filantropia.html).

16. Ever More Russians Blame Elites rather than West for Their Problems

Polls show that ever more Russians believe that their problems arise from the behavior of Russian elites rather than from any action by the West (rosbalt.ru/posts/2017/07/27/1634179.html).

17. Ruble Now Increasingly Delinked from Oil Prices

In the past, the value of the Russian ruble rose when oil prices did and fell when they fell, but now because of other economic problems and the lower price for oil, the two are not nearly as directly linked. As a result, the ruble may fall when oil prices go up and vice versa, Moscow experts say (newsland.com/community/politic/content/rubl-teper-rushitsia-dazhe-pri-roste-tsen-na-neft/5938468).

18. One-Third of World’s Population Views Russia as ‘a Serious Threat’

A new Pew poll finds that a third of the population of the earth now considers Russia to be a serious threat to the rest of the world (newsland.com/community/politic/content/tret-naseleniia-zemli-vidiat-v-rossii-sereznuiu-ugrozu/5939977).

19. Dogs of Rich Russians have Better Holidays than Most Russians Do

Photographs of the pampered canines of the Russian rich on vacation have gone viral, highlighting the unfortunate reality that dogs of the rich have much better holidays than do poor Russians (lenta.ru/photo/2017/08/04/richdogs/).

Russian tourists also face problems in that Turkish hoteliers have imposed special fees on Russians because they eat or waste more food than other visitors (bloknot.ru/v-mire/turetskie-kurorty-vveli-spetsial-ny-e-shtrafy-dlya-rossiyan-za-zhadnost-545254.html).

20. Regions Want to Revive Regional Air Carriers

Given the collapse of domestic air carriers in Russia, some regional governments are now hoping to promote new regional carriers to fill the gap and link them and their neighbors together (onkavkaz.com/novosti/2874-vlasti-dagestana-namereny-vozrodit-maluyu-aviaciyu-v-masshtabah-respubliki-hunzah-botlih-i-guni.html and fedpress.ru/article/1831340).

21. Rosneft Names Former German Chancellor to Its Board

Russia’s Rosneft company has named Gerhard Schroeder to its board, yet another way that politics and economics have been combined in Moscow strategy (snob.ru/selected/entry/127651).

22. Putin’s Inconsistent Actions on the Environment

Vladimir Putin has ordered the elimination of restrictions on economic activity near Lake Baikal, further threatening that national treasure (sobkorr.ru/news/59842013AE8F2.html) even as he has very publicly promised to do more to clean up that body of water (regions.ru/news/2608678/).

Many Russian businesses are pressing for the elimination of even more environmental restrictions arguing that such things are leading to the de-industrialization of the country (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/43447#more-43447).

23. One Russian in Five has Never Used the Internet

According to a new survey, 19 percent of Russians have never once gone on line (politsovet.ru/56126-19-rossiyan-nikogda-ne-polzovalis-internetom.html), even though for the other four Internet use is rising fast (vedomosti.ru/newsline/politics/news/2017/08/03/727829-dolya-rossiyan-virosla).

24. Fools and Roads Convert in Yekaterinburg

A road construction crew in Yekaterinburg confronted with a car parked where it was scheduled to repave the street solved the problem by simply paving over much of the car (vk.com/wall-32182751_3903558).

25. Young Turning to First Channel for Entertainment, Not News

Russian officials have celebrated recent poll findings showing that young Russians view the First Channel more often than any other, but analysts say they do so because that outlet has the best entertainment programs not because the young people rely on it for news (ura.news/articles/1036271643).

26. Russian Who hasn’t Left His Apartment Since Soviet Times an Internet Sensation

In Soviet times, newspapers occasionally reported about people who had lived so isolated from the country that they didn’t know that Russia wasn’t governed by a tsar. Now, the Internet has made a hero out of an urban Russian who has remained in his apartment every minute since 1991 and as a result is almost as out of touch (newsland.com/community/8181/content/sotsseti-pozabavilo-obnaruzhenie-v-rf-muzhchiny-sidevshego-doma-so-vremen-sssr/5940120).

 

And 13 more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:

1. Moscow’s War Against Ukraine Shouldn’t Be Minimized by Calling It ‘Hybrid,’ CIA Director Says

The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency says that Russia’s war against Ukraine is a war pure and simple and should not be minimized by calling it “hybrid” or some other adjective (qha.com.ua/ru/voina-bezopasnost/v-tsru-soobschili-kto-organizoval-voinu-rossii-protiv-ukraini/176637/). That does not mean there aren’t some unusual and even “hybrid” elements, but they don’t define the conflict (apostrophe.ua/article/society/accidents/2017-08-02/narodnyie-anarhistyi-kreml-vnedryaet-novuyu-razrabotku-po-razvalu-ukrainyi/13657).

2. Ukrainians More Divided by Class than by Language, Commentator Says

Many observers argue that Ukrainians are divided between those who speak Ukrainian and those who speak Russian, but one commentator argues that divisions between rich and poor are far more important for an understanding of Ukrainian politics (segodnya.ua/opinion/petrykcolumn/ukraincy-delyatsya-ne-na-russko-i-ukrainoyazychnyh-a-na-bogatyh-i-bednyh-1042835.html).

3. Moscow Close to Finishing Rail and Highway Projects Bypassing Ukraine

Since 2014, Moscow has committed itself to ensuring that its rail and highway networks remain within the borders of the Russian Federation rather than cross Ukrainian territory.

Now officials say that it is close to completing both the rail and highway changes needed to make that happen (newsland.com/community/4109/content/stroitelstvo-dorogi-v-obkhod-ukrainy-blizitsia-k-zaversheniiu/5936128 and newsland.com/community/7912/content/novaia-zheleznaia-doroga-moskva-lishaet-kiev-poslednikh-argumentov/5938616).

4. Ukrainians Attack Separatist Monument in Luhansk; Moscow Occupiers Plan to Put Up Castro Statue in Crimea

A monument to pro-Moscow separatists in Luhansk was blown up by Ukrainians last week (http://www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=598020C1D28E5).

Meanwhile, Russian occupiers in Crimea announced that they will soon erect a state to Fidel Castro on the Ukrainian peninsula (ru.krymr.com/a/28656321.html). Whether that will do anything to fill the peninsula’s hotels, which remain one third vacant at this peak season, remains to be seen (sobkorr.ru/news/5983134C6A47D.html).

5. US Said Promoting Intermarium; EU Actively Pushing Poland to Black Sea Waterway

Russian commentators say the United States is behind the Intermarium security discussions linking states between the Russian Federation and the EU (gazeta.ru/comments/2017/07/27_a_10808210.shtml).

Meanwhile, the EU is very publicly promoting the development to a waterway between Poland and the Black Sea via Belarus and Ukraine (rosbalt.ru/world/2017/08/02/1635397.html).

Moscow is concerned about both: As Putin’s spokesman put it, Russia doesn’t mind if the countries to its west cooperate on a one-to-one relationship with Western countries but very much opposes their joining any Western structures that moves the borders of these organizations toward Russia (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/08/01/1635116.html).

6. Belarusians Increasingly Conscious of Their Differences with Russia

Belarusians don’t look like Russians, a new study finds (https://charter97.org/ru/news/2017/7/20/257005/). Their language is so different that a dictionary has been compiled of Belarusian words which don’t exist in Russian (belsat.eu/ru/news/chtoby-ne-dumali-chto-belorusskij-yazyk-eto-russkij-perekruchennyj-92-letnuchitelnitsa-sozdala-spetsialnyj-belorusskij-slovar/).

And a series of new articles points to the ways Moscow worked to destroy Belarusian national identity in the past (belsat.eu/ru/news/sfabrikovannye-dela-beschelovechnye-pytki-kak-sovety-unichtozhali-belorusskuyu-kulturu-chast-1/ and belsat.eu/ru/news/segodnya-oni-takzhe-byli-by-v-chernom-spiske-kak-sovety-unichtozhali-belorusskuyu-kulturu-chast-2/).

7. Moldova Declares Rogozin Persona non Grata

Following Dmitry Rogozin’s tirade against Moldova for not allowing his plane to pass through Moldovan airspace, a tirade he subsequently felt compelled to remove, Chisinau declared that the Russian official is now persona non grata as far as it is concerned (lb.ua/world/2017/08/02/373002_moldova_obyavila_rogozina_personoy.html and meduza.io/news/2017/08/01/dmitriy-rogozin-udalil-tvit-zhdite-otveta-gady-o-konflikte-s-rumynskimi-vlastyami).

8. Religion Playing Ever Smaller Role in Latvia

A new sociological study finds that religion is playing a declining role in the lives of Latvians (ru.sputniknewslv.com/Latvia/20170730/5445168/religija-igraet-vse-menshuju-rol-v-zhizni-latvijcev-opros.html).

9. Tashkent Opens Second Chance University

The Uzbekistan government has opened a special pedagogical institute for those who failed to get into its regular university system (fergananews.com/news/26697).

10. Fewer Tajiks Using Mobile Phones, Internet

Rising prices and government opposition have led Tajiks to cut back on their use of mobile telephones and of the Internet (news.tj/ru/news/tajikistan/economic/20170802/v-tadzhikistane-sokratshaetsya-chislo-abonentov-mobilnoi-svyazi-i-polzovatelei-interneta).

11. Tensions Rising on Daghestan-Azerbaijan Border as Demarcation Remains in Dispute

Neither Makhachkala nor Baku have been able to agree on the demarcation of the border between their two republics, in large measure because several ethnic communities are divided by that line and because of issues concerning the division of water from the river that defines the border now (onkavkaz.com/news/1808-boleznennuyu-dlja-dagestancev-demarkaciyu-gosgranicy-baku-podogrevaet-pretenzijami-na-zemli-dag.html?fromslider).

12. Kazakhstan Says No Kazakh is to Go Abroad to Study Islam

Like other Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan has taken a number of steps to restrict Kazakh Muslims from studying abroad. Astana has now banned all of them from going abroad to study in religious institutions (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=67840).

It is likely to discover, as Turkmenistan has, that taking that step is unlikely to dramatically affect the situation at home (centrasia.ru/news.php?st=1501772700).

13. Kyrgyz Muslims Ask Mullahs to Determine Which Sex Toys are Halal

Muslims require that their religious authorities certify that food and other goods are halal, that is, pure according to Islamic norms. Now a group of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan has taken the next logical step and asked mullahs there to identify which sex toys are halal and acceptable and those which are haram and thus banned (narynaiyp.com/islam-v-centralnoj-azii-ot-vaxxabizma-do-seks-shopov/).

 

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Oknemfrod

    >Belarusians … Their language is so different that a dictionary has been compiled of Belarusian words which don’t exist in Russian<

    This caught my attention as I'm just interested in things of this nature, so I decided to look a bit deeper into it.

    First, it turned out that the "dictionary" compiled by a 92-year old Belarusian teacher contains Belarusian words absent from both Russian and Polish. She started the project after having been challenged to find such words by her ex-student who had returned home from Moscow and claimed that the Belarusian vocabulary was not an authentic but had all its words possessed from either Russian or Polish.

    Second, I went through most of the compilation containing, as of the moment, just about 3000 words, and discovered that about 90 percent of them are also found in Ukrainian and only for the remaining 10 percent I couldn’t find a Ukrainian counterpart, though I’m sure that if I dug deeper the size of this leftover would shrink even further.

    • Screwdriver

      Her goal was to rebuff student statement “Belarusian vocabulary was not an authentic but had all its words possessed from either Russian or Polish”
      She did not think of anything else (Ukrainian, Bulgarian..etc) which was kind of strange to say the least. :-)
      I gave it to read to my wife, who is originally from Belarus ( she was a teacher of Belorussian in school) …she got a kick out of it… the whole “dictionary” is so amateur, and silly in many ways. And absolutely misleading.
      For example that babushka takes the word “вiтацца”, and presents it as some unique Belorussian word, which is not true of course, as it has the same root as “privet, privetstvie” in Russian, and similar words in Ukrainian (вітання) and Polish (powitanie).
      So the whole thing is that the mountain has given birth to a mouse in this particular case.

      • zorbatheturk

        Fact is, Belorussians are sick of the RuSSian scumbags next door.

        • Screwdriver

          They appointed you as a speaker ?

          • zorbatheturk

            Bend over, Putin is coming.

        • Ihor Dawydiak

          All of Russia’s neighbors are sick and tired of the Muscovites as well as non-ethnic Russians within the Russian Federation and the vast majority of the international community.

          • zorbatheturk

            Incredible how a gang of ex-KGB criminals effectively holds the world to ransom.

      • Oknemfrod

        The question was whether there were Belarusian words not common with Russian or Polish; so not including Ukrainian, let alone Bulgarian, in the comparison, is only logically natural. Sure, her compilation is rather amateurish and has a number of holes. However, its main thrust is correct: Belarusian is not derived from either Russian or Polish; it’s a language in its own right that arose, without a slightest doubt (and unlike Russian), from the same common foundation as Ukrainian. Surely, a sizable part of its vocabulary is derived from Polish – but not from Russian. Rather, all the intrinsically Slavic words Russian has now have come from that foundation. No other than Vladimir Dal himself stated that there’s hardly a Slavic word in Russian not derived from a Ukrainian root.

        You appear to have been missing the gist of the matter: Namely, that in their unceasing desire to denigrate both Belarusians and Ukrainians, the Russians claim that neither’s language is authentic but instead both are allegedly nothing more than somewhat twisted dialects of Russian. It’s the most idiotic assertion ever made in the milieu of linguistics. As far as the Slavic content is concerned, Belarusian and Ukrainian vocabularies were at least three times larger in mid-1700’s than Russian is today.

        I won’t vouch for Belarusian, as I don’t know it well enough (though I understand fluent Belarusian perfectly well and can read it likewise). However, compared to Ukrainian, Russian is a poor and underdeveloped language from every linguistic point of reference, particularly in terms of its vocabulary and grammar. It’s understandable, as modern Russian, from the historic perspective, is a very young and largely artificially created language, a sort of Esperanto; and it hasn’t had enough time, unlike Ukrainian, to develop the variety of linguistic forms and shortcuts that emerge only when a language is used naturally and for a long period of time by common people communicating with one another daily, rather than via being concocted in an ivory tower. As a result, there’re thousands of Ukrainian shortcut adverbs (e.g.: торік, чимдуж, etc.) that can be expressed in Russian only by using a combination of three separate words. Likewise, Ukrainian has three single-word superlative degrees, while Russian has only one. Ukrainian has two Infinitive forms for every verb (e.g.: робити/робить) versus a single form in Russian. Ukrainian has single-word forms of Future Imperfect (e.g. матиму, матимемо, матимеш, матиме, матимуть) completely absent from Russian. Ukrainian has the Plus Quam Perfectum tense (e.g.: він почав був читати, та його зупинили); Russian doesn’t. And the list goes on and on.

        In short, the ludicrous claims by the Russians about the alleged superiority of Russian versus Belorusian and Ukrainian and particularly about their chicken-and-egg relationships stem from either utter ignorance or deliberate bias. In reality, they have no leg to stand on.

        • Ihor Dawydiak

          Too funny and at the same time rather pathetic. Screwball never missed “the gist of the matter” since he never knew what “the gist of the matter” was in the first place.

        • Ihor Dawydiak

          An excellent comparative analysis, Oknemfrod. I too have found that while being fluent in the Ukrainian language, the Belarusian language was much easier to understand without even having had the advantage of having been taught that language versus the Russian language which I studied while in University during which I found that there were far fewer similarities with either the Belarusian or Ukrainian languages. There could also be a very simple reason as to why the Belarusian and Ukrainian languages have been so closely related. Modern linguists who have carefully studied this matter have postulated that the colloquial language spoken in Kyiv and its surrounding areas during the time of the Principality of Kyivan (Kievan) Rus’ had a much closer relationship with the modern Ukrainian language than that of the Russian language. As for the people of Belarus and the evolution of the Belarusian language, these people have always lived in a relatively closer proximity of Kyiv and their close relations could have been a major contributing factor to the similarity of both languages. As for the Russians and the evolution of the Russian language, they too were initially influenced by the culture in Kyiv but they were also very distant in a geographic sense with their centers of local Ilmen-Slavic/Finno-Ugric culture being based in Novgorod, Vladimir, Suzdal and later in Moscow. The early “Russians” (for lack of a better term) were also able to establish an autonomy from Kyivan Rus’ (as per the Novgorod Republic) and the split became complete following the Mongol invasions which occurred in 1220 AD and 1240 AD. Thereafter, Kyiv and some of its surrounding areas became indirectly aligned with the new “Ukrainian” Kingdom in Halychyna (Galicia) whereas the “Russians” or “Muscovites” who were based in the far northern areas of the former Principality of Kyivan (Kievan) Rus’ went their separate ways. This, by the way, reflected history as it truly happened in contrast to the never ending rubbish that has been continuously cackled by Putinistas and other Great Russian chauvinists from past eras.

          • Oknemfrod

            Thanks. The issue if of course quite multi-faceted and convoluted, historically speaking, but you’ve encapsulated the pith of it.

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          The silence of Screwdriver is really deafening… Maybe his Belarussian wife knocked him on the knuckles, because as usual he bit of more than he can chew and he scored his umpteenth owngoal in these discussions 😉

          Anyway, it gives you and Ihor the possibility to enlighten people like me. So keep up the good work.

          By the way, at times I even think that Screwdriver is ‘trolling’ for the Ukrainian side 😉 He is simply making to many owngoals…

          • Oknemfrod

            Well, at least he, unlike most putinoid trolls, is smart enough to abstain from resorting to personal insults when there’s no cogent counterargument to be made. I’m actually glad he’s active in this space, propagating the putinoid point of view and thus making the absurdity of rabid anti-Ukrainism expressed from a certain ethnic angle all the more eminent. As to the U-R-B-P linguistic matters Ihor and I mull over here, I realize that they may catch attention of a very small sliver of the audience due to their esoteric nature, and yet some folks like yourself may find them interesting. On my part, if I found myself on a board discussing the variations between Vlaams and other languages of the same group, I’d find them equally fascinating. Even though I have no first clue about any of them, languages, as well as their development and origins, give one a unique perspective into the history, development, and interrelation of ethnic groups themselves.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    “And experts say that the government won’t be able to pay its employees their salaries by the end of this year now that reserves are gone.”

    According to Tatyana Golikova, Head of Dwarfstan’s National Accounting agency, the Resreve Fund would be running on fumes some time this year, though the Welfare Fund would still be availabe. But this amounts to only $80 billion or so, and would only cover the deficits until the end of 2018. But if the assessments of the experts is correct then Dwarfstan must be burning up its reserves even faster than Golikova and previously Finance Minister Siluanov told the Duma.

    What will the demented dwarf do when there are no more rubbles to pay the government’s employees? Print extra rubbles which will cause runaway inflation?

    Or will he, Medvedev, Rogozin and all their crooked chums voluntarily donate some of their loot to keep the country afloat?
    Perhaps,but I’m not holding my breath.

    • zorbatheturk

      Putin will have to raise vodka taxes.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        If he does, he will be scoring an own goal. Official vodka will become even more expensive, leading to more home brewing of rotgut samogon. Result: more Dwarfstanians dying of poisoning leading to a further population decrease when the dwarf is trying to INCREASE Dwarfstan’s population.

        • zorbatheturk

          Less RuSSians is more reasons to celebrate.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    “Meanwhile, the travails of Russia’s defense industry were highlighted
    this week by a continuing debate on whether Russia can build six
    aircraft carriers as the demented dwarf has called for.”
    With cash running out it’s highly unlikely that Dwarfstan can build even one, never mind six. It’s also doubtful whether the country can afford the planned refit of the “Admiral Kuznetsov”.
    Even more to the point, will Dwarfstan even exist in 2025???

    • Screwdriver

      “Even more to the point, will Dwarfstan even exist in 2025???”
      Just make a trip to your local tarot cards reader, I heard they can tell everything on your beloved Dagestan.

    • Tony

      russians sacrificed everything for military strength and now they cant even maintain that. haha, they better learn to eat ammunition.

    • Микола Данчук

      What surprised me was that Russia has ships listed as functional that are below the waterline and they aren’t subs. A bunch of rusted buckets is what you will find in the Russian Navy Yards!
      Not to mention the drop in production and quality of their new tank plant.

    • Murf

      The Russian Sefence Mibister recently said that Russia can not afford a “Blue Water” Navy.
      Additionally the Navy has learned it lesson and is focusing on long rang single use missiles.
      Concidering they can’t decide between steam or NUC propulsion they don’t have a design just a toy model

      • veth
        • Murf

          Talk about the Blind leading the blind.
          Or is it dumb leading the dumber?
          The ironey of the whole carrier business is that there was one country with some experience and facilities to build one. A country that might have built it for for Russia.
          But now.

          • veth

            How can Russia call itself an super-power, if all the equipment, till the last screw, must be imported…………..

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          It is difficult for me to believe that Yelizaveta Peskova is really that stupid that she would dare to give advice to an industry she clearly knows nothing about.

          On the other hand, having read the nonsense being spouted by most people hanging around the powers that be in the Kremlin, I shouldn’t be surprised by anything anymore.

          I wonder if the inner circle in the Kremlin is also made up of people like Yelizaveta Peskova, because that would be a reason to be very much afraid. People like that are capable of the most foolish acts.

    • veth

      WELCOME TO RUSSKI MIR
      More than 108,000 Crimea residents left without electricity after power cutoffs scheduled
      крым электричество блокада электрика отключение элекроэнергияThe occupation authorities of Crimea have implemented temporary schedule of power cutoffs, leaving more than 108,000 residents without electricity.
      This was announced by Russian Energy Ministry, Censor.NET reports citing RIA Novosti.
      Read more: Europe will oppose attempts to legitimize Crimea occupation, – German Foreign Office

      In occupied Sevastopol, 24,800 people were cut off electricity supply, and 83,900 people in other Crimea areas.

      A total of 70 MWt of electricity was turned off between 8:22 p.m. and 8:41 p.m. Aug. 7.

      Krymenerho agency said earlier that extreme heat has raised energy consumption levels to maximum, and asked the population to use electricity more efficiently.

  • zorbatheturk

    There is only one thing to say about the Putin:-

    LOCK HIM UP!

  • Ihor Dawydiak

    “Human DNA has been found in Moscow sausages”. Why should this come as any surprise considering the fact that the Russians have done their utmost in trying to cannibalize all of their neighbors and more since their founding in the swamps of Muscovy? Moreover, when that was not deemed as sufficient they have devoured their own kind.

  • veth