Streetwise Professor

February 4, 2012

The Third Rome Won’t Be Unbuilt In A Day

Filed under: Politics,Russia,Uncategorized — The Professor @ 9:47 pm

Few things are less precise or more politicized than crowd counts.  This is true in spades in Russia, where today witnessed dueling marches–one for the opposition, the other for Putin.

As for official estimates of crowds–well, consider the source. The “police” estimated the opposition crowd at 40,000 and the pro-regime crowd at 138,000.  Independent observers and several Russian papers dismissed both figures as risible.

But it is clear that the size and intensity of opposition crowds has not diminished.  An appreciable number of a notoriously apathetic, defeated, and atomized Russian public is persisting in its opposition to the dreary prospect of 12 more years of Putin’s purgatory.

To restate the obvious. The opposition is fragmented. It is largely leaderless. There is no agreement on any positive agenda, just the negative agenda of opposing Putin, the Party of Crooks and Thieves, and the corrupt status quo.

But those are the laments of the unrealistic and the impatient.  The Third Rome won’t be unbuilt in a day, but these fissiparous protests represent a necessary first step in the process.

In the immediate term, the protests will not result in the replacement of Putin at the ballot box.  But they have already changed dramatically the dynamics within the elite.  Putin’s ability to play the role of balancer depended in large part on the perception that he was overwhelmingly popular.  Now he is widely ridiculed, which is political poison to someone who presumes to be the Father of the Nation.  His ability to balance is seriously compromised, increasing the odds of intra-elite infighting that could lead to a reshuffling of power.  Not regime change, exactly, because the system will likely remain authoritarian, but less unified, less stable, and less domineering.

In the longer term, the protests are a harbinger of the development of a self-conscious middle class, deeply ashamed at the degradation and corruption of Russian political life, insistent on the development of a civil society independent of the state.  This is a necessary condition to a transition to a less authoritarian system.  Not sufficient, but necessary.  The transition is not imminent, but it has begun.

Putin and his clique now know that despite their bravado, control of the media, and paid-for rallies, that the opposition is not going away. So how do they respond? The main thrust of the attacks against the opposition has been to play on Russian xenophobia by portraying it as the tool of foreigners.  (For a taste of this, check out S/O’s comment in an earlier post.) I expect these attacks to be ramped up, perhaps including some Russian equivalent of a Reichstag fire.  Putin, and Lavrov, and Rogozin and others will ramp up their anti-US, anti-Western rhetoric.  The harassment of Golos and other groups will escalate.  The vote rigging efforts will ramp up.

These efforts will likely achieve their objective in the short run. But in the medium to longer term, Putinism–and Putin–will be eroded by a rising tide of opposition. The coordination game, positive feedback, tipping mechanism is underway, which will make it progressively more difficult for the regime to operate without making more and more concessions to the opposition.  The dynamic is not favorable to the survival of the vertical.

Which means that Putin’s dream of a Third Rome under his rule will not come to pass.   And as the saying goes, there will not be a fourth.

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  1. Observe this photo, and tremble with fear.

    Then try to repeat – with a straight face – that the 138,000 figure is “risible.”

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 4, 2012 @ 11:32 pm

  2. The pro-Putin rally was meant to be “anti-revolutionary” – stability, evolution and all that. Disregarding the fact that the current regime is anti-evolutionary. Revolutions happen when no evolution is allowed to take place. Anyway, somehow it turned into a pro-Putin rally. I don’t think it was the intent of the organisers to be exposed as collaborationists. Too bad.

    One of the banners said “If not Putin, then Who?”. Given Putin’s sterilisation of the political landscape, I suspect the author of the banner was taking the mickey, even if not consciously. There were plenty of other irony-laden slogans.

    Comment by So? — February 5, 2012 @ 12:19 am

  3. Another epic fail Sublime Oblivion, the neo nazi’s in that crowd are somewhat spread out, compared to the density of a real 150,000 strong protest.

    Comment by Andrew — February 5, 2012 @ 12:50 am

  4. My contribution to the debate: Far More People Protested FOR Putin Than Against, But You Wouldn’t Know It From The Western Media.

    The monetary value of NDI and IRI grants, unfortunately, have a poor exchange rate vs. the loyalties of the Russian people. Poor liberals…

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 1:22 am

  5. “There is no agreement on any positive agenda, just the negative agenda of opposing Putin…” which is what you accuse of Zerohedge of…nihilism, proposing no positive solutions. How fearful is the symmetry between S/O’s claim against the Russian ‘liberals’ and SWP’s against any one who rails against the Almighty Bailout Status Quo!

    “[Banksters] and [their] clique now know that despite their bravado, control of the media, and paid-for rallies [Romney rallies, cough cough], that the opposition is not going away.”

    “An appreciable number of a notoriously apathetic, defeated, and atomized [American] public is persisting in its opposition to the dreary prospect of 12 more years of [Great Depression 2.0, wars, and banker bailouts].”

    “The [globalist dominated ‘American’ Empire] won’t be unbuilt in a day, but these [votes for Ron Paul and the numerous] protests represent a necessary first step in the process.”

    So yes SWP, I wish all the genuine protesters who really do want a better future for Russia or America luck. But I suspect a few months from now when the soundtrucks (so successfully used in Pittsburgh) are rolled out to blast the ear drums of the Occupy and perhaps even a few Chicago Serbs protesting the NATO/G8 summits in your old home town, we all know which side you’ll be on — that of The Man and the CPD administering the beat downs.

    And as Celente said, November, December, January, February…no indictments on MF Global. I guess he’ll be waiting for the real killers to be found along with the Goldman family for the rest of his life.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 1:54 am

  6. Just to clarify, I fully support Communist, pirate, and Green protesters against the regime.

    The neoliberals, reformers and faux democrats, though, can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 2:07 am

  7. Well there’s a reason I used ‘liberals’ in quotation marks. And Eric Kraus makes some good points as always as to how the U.S. would react if the Kremlins were not merely funding RT in D.C. as everyone admits they are, but also directly financially supporting candidates for office. Putting the shoe on the other foot of course, is always going to be considered Thought Crime by the denizens who dwell here.

    Still I prefer to base my politics on hope and love, not on fear and hate.
    Golden State ‘Bombs’ (The Ron Paul Song)

    I can’t be sure of this
    memories are fading fast
    a fragile heart of glass
    thats shattered once before
    the walls start to break and crack
    nothing is built to last
    patience are running thin
    but I know we can’t give up

    If we make the choice
    to walk out the door
    and let all we have
    become nothing more
    can we look at ourselves
    and resist this
    moment in time together


    Its not impossible
    that we can end this war
    just let your heart explode
    not too late for a miracle
    it’s not impossible

    I know we can resist
    so many shots that missed
    my heart can take a hit
    cause I know I can’t let go

    If we make the choice
    to walk out the door
    and let all we have
    become nothing more
    can we look at ourselves
    and resist this
    moment in time together

    Its not impossible
    that we can end this war
    just let your heart explode
    not too late for a miracle
    it’s not impossible

    No more fighting
    no more crying
    no more hurting
    no deserting
    no more lying
    no more sighing
    I’m still trying
    arms wide open


    Its not impossible
    that we can end this war
    just let your heart explode
    not too late for a miracle
    it’s not impossible

    I’ve seen the levy break
    I’ve seen a lover take
    I’ve felt the war sun
    It’s there for everyone
    I’ve seen some troubled times
    but its not too late for a miracle
    Its not impossible

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 2:20 am

  8. “Ideas spread, they can’t stop them. An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped by any army or any government.”— Ron Paul

    That goes for Moscow, D.C., Beijing…the whole wide world. Peace out.

    And yes, in Andy’s honor, a video done by a proud black man…in tribute to Ron Paul. 🙂

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 2:28 am

  9. There are uncle Tom’s in any society X.

    You even have Jewish neo-nazi’s in Israel, they do tend to be Russian Jews however….

    As for votes for Ron Paul, he got how many in Florida?

    And in the state where he apparently has a “massive” following according to Paulbot retards such as yourself he got 18%.

    He is done and dusted, he just does not have the brains to recognize defeat.

    Comment by Andrew — February 5, 2012 @ 3:53 am

  10. BTW X, here are some of Ron Paul’s good friends and supporters.

    And here is a good article about him

    Comment by Andrew — February 5, 2012 @ 4:14 am

  11. A Very Impersonal Thing: Ron Paul’s Polite White Racism

    Comment by Andrew — February 5, 2012 @ 4:21 am

  12. A separate rally in Moscow in support of Putin drew no more than 20,000 people. Most of them were teachers, municipal workers, employees of state-owned companies or trade union activists, who had come with co-workers on buses provided by their employers. Many clearly had been drinking. The Burn in Hell supporters are funny . editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan set the tone for the channel’s coverage when she wrote on her Twitter feed that the protest leaders should “burn in hell”

    The KGB agent is Anonymous . Russia Today (RT) television has become a preferred source for the servile dictator supporter . Most Americans have never heard of Russia Today (RT) television, a propaganda arm of the Putin-Medvedev-KGB-run Russian thugocracy, but thanks to a former KGB officer, Konstantin Preobrazhensky, more about its origins and purposes have been revealed. Hiring Assange would seem a perfect fit for RT. Worries that WikiLeaks might dump a lot of embarrassing material about the Russian government into Internet never panned out.

    However, the thousands of US diplomatic cables that it did release proved to be the gift-that-keeps-on-giving for critics and rivals of Washington, including the Kremlin.

    Comment by Anders — February 5, 2012 @ 5:55 am

  13. +++Just to clarify, I fully support Communist, pirate, and Green protesters against the regime.+++

    The reconstituted HCUA will most certainly take this statement into account. Make sure you are not aspiring to a teaching position and are not planning a career in politics or media.

    Comment by LL — February 5, 2012 @ 6:07 am

  14. “But it is clear that the size and intensity of opposition crowds has not diminished.”

    SWP, that wasn’t Navalny’s goal just a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago, his goal was for the movement to GET BIGGER. It didn’t, and this time it was matched man for man by Putin on the street.

    Now scroll forward FIVE YEARS, when the next Duma election rolls around. Do you really think this so-called leadership can sustain the movement that long?

    The Internet is supposedly huge in Russia, maybe 60 million have access, but Navalny still has less than 200K Twitter followers, anemic fundraising, and has not even endorsed a party or candidate much less declared himself to be one.

    And let’s say somehow none of that mattered, and in ten years the protesters did “achieve” something. What would that be? What Yeltsin did in the 1990s? That was followed by Putin, and here we go again.

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 5, 2012 @ 6:56 am

  15. “The main thrust of the attacks against the opposition has been to play on Russian xenophobia by portraying it as the tool of foreigners”

    Looks like that is starting to happen:

    The last paragraph suggests that people who made whistleblowing vidios of the russian polls will be arrested.

    Comment by Gordon — February 5, 2012 @ 9:27 am

  16. @S/O. Re “go to hell”: You and Margarita Simonyan evidently see eye to eye. Not shocked.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 5, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  17. Trying to wrangle another RT gig?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 5, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  18. I doubt he’ll get any, Professor. Though RT doesn’t care that so called experts are not very articulate or look so presentable on the screen. S/O looks and sounds so dumb. Just for RT.

    Comment by voroBey — February 5, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  19. To Moron Sublim X who think RT is better than Aljazeera face it when was the last time you saw RT critical of the Kremlin

    There has been a massive show of force against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday.

    A month before the presidential vote, that he is expected to win, tens of thousands protested in the Russian capital.

    Comment by Anders — February 5, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  20. Why hatin’ on Putin? Cheap bluster aside, he does everything the West asks for and even doesn’t ask for (Lourdes, Cam Ranh).

    Comment by So? — February 5, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  21. Trying to wrangle another RT gig?

    You sure have an inflated idea of your influence.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  22. (Apart from being unable to separate the metaphorical from the literal).

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  23. And BTW, one last thing, speaking of RT…

    As with the previous protest on Dec 24, it had live coverage – without any editorializing – of the Bolotnaya protest throughout. But not of the Anti-Orange protest.

    Still won’t stop propagandists from painting it is a Kremlin mouthpiece though.

    The reconstituted HCUA will most certainly take this statement into account.

    That would please you wouldn’t it. Funny how many authoritarian-creeps-pretending-to-be-democrats SWP’s blog attracts.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  24. ‘Israel News Agency’ looks fake…I mean, a Google page? How about you go read his interview with Haaretz Andy. And some rambling Salon blog post with a picture of a black dude next to it? That was probably written by a white guy pretending to be black.

    You see Andy, my sources can document who they are, yours are always some random dude with a blog that nobody’s heard of until they start spouting off against Paul. In other words, rent-a-drones for the global corporatist military base empire builders.

    See Andy the difference between you and me is I’ve actually met Ron. I know him, even if we only talked for a couple of hours in a small group of people. You’ve never met him but seem hellbent on demonizing him anyway because in your words, he won’t fight the ‘Evil Empire’. So you admit and affirm that Russia is, and always will be, the Evil Empire to you. Well it’s your right to have that opinion, shave your head, and get the Georgian equivalent of a La Raza tattoo on the back of your head. And even turn your back on the sacrifices of your Kiwi forebears to prevent a German, Corporatist dominated EUrope because Russia NOT Germany will always be enemy no. 1.

    BUT YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS IN THE ‘DEMINTERN’ ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MY TAXPAYER DOLLARS FOR LIFE! You’re all getting kicked off Uncle Sam’s teet anyway pretty soon when the money printing goes into high gear and even Georgians who have money start preferring gold and silver to greenbacks.

    Your ceaseless desperate attacks on Paul suggest someone all too worried, not about the frail 76-year-old but the hundreds of thousands who’ve donated and volunteered for him turning into millions, and that movement in turn forcing your pals to find honest work, FINALLY.

    By the night of the New Hampshire primary, it was clear that Ron Paul had torn a hole in the matrix. On top of his third place in Iowa, where he doubled his 2008 vote percentage, Paul had finished a strong second in New Hampshire, tripling his share from four years earlier. In both contests, Paul won the under-30 vote going away and scored better with independents than any of his rivals. The congressman was the only Republican connecting with young people and bringing new voters into the GOP. While it is surely too soon to speak authoritatively about “Ron Paul Republicans,” as we do about Reagan Democrats or evangelicals, such a voting bloc appears to exist. Whether they become part of the GOP coalition is critical to the party’s future. If, as the Economist suggested, they came for the anti-imperialism and civil liberties and grew interested in the fiscal and monetary package, that would be telling as well. When in Iowa and New Hampshire a young crowd cheered a liberty-based campaign with chants of “Bring them home,” it was hard to imagine more full frontal repudiation of the Bush/Cheney vision of the party.

    After New Hampshire one could see the wheels of the establishment begin to recalibrate. Paul now seemed likely stay in the race for the duration and might arrive at the Tampa convention with a horde of delegates. GOP politicos began to muse over about how he might be accommodated. It was possible to imagine a Paul prime-time convention speech, but only, said David Frum, if it was subject to Romney pre-approval. (Frum might hope it focuses on Paul’s gold coin collection.) Commentary’s James Tobin, dipping into the favorite neocon trope, warned that Ron Paul could not be “appeased.” Paul has denied any interest in a third-party bid. But while the Republican Party could easily find a way to make rhetorical and platform concessions to the economic parts of Paul’s agenda, a potent “bring them home” foreign-policy movement cannot long coexist alongside the GOP’s regnant neoconservatism. What Paul’s enemies fear is that his early success may herald the beginning of the end of their own dominance. About this, at least, they are entirely correct.

    Scott McConnell is a TAC founding editor.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  25. Never let the facts get in the way of a good Goebbels-type lie. Who here is actually advocating ceaseless global deployment of the U.S. military? Russia as the eternal enemy (a view not incompatible with Hitler’s dreams of invading and subjugating the Bolshevist Slavs first expressed in Mein Kampf). Who constantly makes excuses for or just ignores the neo-Nazi rallies in Latvia? The SS veterans marches? The anti-Russia lobby, that’s who.
    Ron Paul on Israel: let them defend themselves, I said don’t condemn Israeli strike on Saddam’s Osirak reactor when Reagan Admin and most of Congress condemned it in early 80s

    Q. Do you support completely cutting all foreign aid, including the aid to Israel?

    Paul: Yes, I am personally against all foreign aid. We give $3 billion to Israel and $12 billion to her avowed enemies. How does that help Israel? And in return, we act like her master and demand veto power over her foreign policy.
    If I were President, such aid would not end until the Congress agreed and voted for it to end, because I would be President as the U.S. Constitution defines it. I am not running for dictator.
    But I believe that federal foreign aid is absurd. We’re broke! We are like a man who used to be rich and is in the habit of paying for everybody’s meals and announces at a lavish dinner that he will pay the bill, only to then turn to the fellow sitting nearby and say, “Can I use your credit card? I will pay you back.” It is ridiculous for us to be borrowing money from China and giving it to Pakistan.
    I have described foreign aid as taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries. I know that many in other nations are hurting, but I also know that the American people are a generous people. While we should end the unconstitutional federal foreign aid program, I would encourage Americans to continue to voluntarily contribute to the needs of other nations.

    Q. In the past, you have been accused by various groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, of accepting the support of racist and anti-Semitic elements and of not doing anything to distance yourself from them. What is your reaction to this accusation?

    Paul: I have always made it clear, and will continue to do so, that my message is based on the rights of all people to be treated equally. Any type of racism or anti-Semitism is incompatible with my philosophy. Ludwig von Mises, the great economist whose writing helped inspire my political career, was a Jew who was forced to leave his native Austria to escape the Nazis. Mises wrote about the folly of seeing people as part of groups rather than as individuals. Therefore, for me to advance anti-Semitism in any way would be a betrayal of my own intellectual heritage.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  26. +++how many authoritarian-creeps+++

    Yup, that’s the ticket. The guy who just went on record giving full support to “Communists and pirates” is now crying foul claiming democratic protections. “Schizophrenia, as it had been said” (C) Bulgakov

    Comment by LL — February 5, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  27. No matter who supports Ron Paul I believe him to be the least racist of any of the candidates. His opposition to fundamentally racist policies like hiring and admissions quotas would be attractive to real racists.

    I believe he does relate to people as individuals and doesn’t fall for the usual liberal strategy of dividing people into groups and labeling victims and oppressors. I do believe that he fully supports the Constitution and that all should be treated equally under the law.

    I haven’t met him I could certainly be wrong but it would be a huge surprise to me if that wasnt the case

    Comment by pahoben — February 5, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

  28. I can accept Paul’s honorable defeat because I’m impressed by how much Paul has been able to accomplish, how many debate appearances he’s had, and how many people who for the first time (like the actor Vince Vaughn, to name one) outside of the financial services world have been enlightened as to what the Federal Reserve IS and what it DOES. 2008 laid the groundwork for much more success in 2011-12 and if this government continues its present course without suspending elections altogether (and especially if Obama pulls a defeat of the wishy-washy Romney out of his hat, as he may with plentiful ballot box stuffing in Blue cities and prodigous economic numbers goosing) then Rand and the ‘Paulist’ TRUE Tea Party movement will be well positioned to take back a discredited, hollowed out, and demoralized Republican Party in 2016.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  29. Piracy is the very essence of democracy.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

  30. Neoconism isn’t.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 5, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  31. And lastly, on my charge against Andy, Anders et al that they deplore Islamism directed against the U.S. and Israel but are A-OK with the j-h-d so long as it targets Russia…I mean, whenever ‘demonstrators’ and ‘activists’ storm an AMERICAN EMBASSY IN THE MIDDLE EAST, one always presumes they’re paid or trained types posing as civilians. But this? There suddenly by magic being a bunch of ‘Syrian opposition’ figures in Tripoli? Silencio.

    “…anger at the Russian and Chinese veto has already manifested itself, as protesters have attacked the Russian embassy in Tripoli and tore down the Russian flag, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday. As Itar-Tass reports, “According to Al Jazeera, the riots staged by the Syria opposition involved Libyans as well. No further details are available so far. None of the Russian diplomats has been hurt in an rally stage by the Syrian opposition in front of the Russian embassy in Tripoli on Sunday, an officer from the Russian embassy told Itar-Tass over the phone.”

    Comment by Mr. X — February 5, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

  32. One must give props to the Putin-ites. They can be taught.

    After the first Bolotnaya Square the Kremlin whistled up Nashi and the Young Guard groups to show those pesky protestors how the pro-Putin crowd could throw a rally at Manezhnaya Square. It may not have registered in the West because it was pathetic. Beyond laughably impotent. Kids who had been bused there couldn’t wait to get off the sqaure and spend some time in the big city. The OMON had to redeploy to keep kids ON the square. Imagine that! The OMON trying to encourage people to protest. Hilarious. Anyhow…big flop with lots of on-the-spot video showing teachers checking attendees off lists, workers who didn’t speak Russian who had been forced to come by employers, etc.

    So it quickly became obvious that Nashi, the vaunted anti-orange shock troops long groomed and feted, weren’t up to the task.

    Therefore the powers that be got smart. The kids couldn’t do it, so they called in the unions. Judging by the crowd and Victory Park (I put it at about 40-45k myself) and the flags they’re sporting there’s a healthy core of Nashi and Young Guard and KRO in there…but the rest are working age.

    Press reports put all sorts of extra goodies at this Victory Park rally. Jumbotron screens, warming tents, portable wood-fired kitchens making vats of hot tea, more than 600 tour buses reserved. Cha-ching! That’s a hefty bill. Wonder who footed it?

    But the sleaziness of all this doesn’t really matter. Just because one protest is an honest grassroots protest and the other is…ah…encouraged by the authorities is immaterial. The sullen middle-agers who made up the bulk of the Park Pobedy protest have just as big a say in the way they want the country to be run as the “hipster hamsters”.

    The Kremlin was smart to call in the working class. They are the ones who have always decided elections in the end and they are firmly on Putin’s side. You can argue about their level of commitment and reluctance…but it’s obvious they still know how to hail to the chief.

    Putin by a landslide kids.

    Comment by Swoggler — February 5, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  33. It is amazing the hypocrisy of Russia/Assad supporters like Mr.X and Sublime Oblivion.

    Mr.X believes that an isolationist policy would benefit the US, sorry X, but the real world does not work that way, an isolationist policy will result in massive problems the world over, from oppressive regimes right through to wars of imperialism, genocide etc.

    All of which would have dire consequences for the USA.

    Both Mr.X and Sublime Oblivion believe pro western leaders in former soviet republics are “fascists” such as Saakashvili, and condemn former soviet republics for defending themselves from Russian interference in their internal affairs, such as the creation of separatist movements by the Russians, Russian invasions, and Russian attempts to destabilize them. For example Mr.X and Sublime Oblivion both think Saakashvili should be in front of the ICC (or hung from a lamp post) for his attempt to remove the separatist administration in South Ossetia that was shelling Georgian villages in the conflict zone, and for breaking up protests in Tbilisi last May.

    However they both laud Assad whose use of artillery, tanks, and air power on his own civilians for simply protesting for reforms, resulting in around 7000 civilian deaths, they also laud Russia’s veto, and spout the Russian line that nobody should interfere in Syria’s internal affairs.

    They would both be laughable if they were not so dangerous.

    Comment by Andrew — February 6, 2012 @ 3:47 am

  34. Moron X and Sublim Berkley boy How can the racist westeren friends of the Putin -mafia help the orthodox – jihadi terror-masters and ethnic – cleansers ?

    In 1992, Basayev traveled to Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, to assist the local separatist movement against the Georgian government’s attempts to regain control of the region—a conflict in which, ultimately, a minority of 93,000 Abkhaz were successful in ethnically purging a majority of Georgians (numbering some 250,000) from the region. Basayev became the commander-in-chief of the forces of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (a volunteer unit of pan-Caucasian nationalists, composed mainly of Chechens and other Muslim people from the Caucuses). Their involvement was crucial in the Abkhazian war and in October 1993 the Georgian government suffered a decisive military defeat, after which most of the ethnic Georgian population of the region was driven out by ethnic cleansing.

    It was rumored that the volunteers were trained and supplied by some part of the Russian army’s GRU military intelligence service. According to The Independent journalist Patrick Cockburn, “cooperation between Mr Basayev and the Russian army is not so surprising as it sounds. “In 1992–93 he is widely believed to have received assistance from the GRU when he and his brother Shirvani fought in Abkhazia, a breakaway part of Georgia”.
    The Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that Basayev was an agent of GRU, and another publication by journalist Boris Kagarlitsky said that “It is maintained, for example that Shamil Basayev and his brother Shirvani are long-standing GRU agents, and that all their activities were agreed, not with the radical Islamists, but with the generals sitting in the military intelligence offices. All the details of the attack by Basayev’s detachments were supposedly worked out in the summer of 1999 in a villa in the South of France with the participation of Basayev and the Head of the Presidential administration, Aleksandr Voloshin. Furthermore, it is alleged that the explosive materials used were not supplied from secret bases in Chechnya but from GRU stockpiles near Moscow.

    Comment by Anders — February 6, 2012 @ 7:08 am

  35. “Russia ‘planned Chechen war before bombings’ : Former Prime Minister reveals invasion of republic was prepared months in advance of terrorist attacks” by Patrick Cockburn, Moscow correspondent of the British newspaper, The Independent, January 29, 2000. Among the important bombshells dropped by Cockburn in this article:

    1) Jan Blomgren, Moscow correspondent for the Swedish daily Svenska Dogbladet, had reported on June 6, 1999 that according to his sources in the Kremlin one option being considered by the Russian government was “terror bombings in Moscow which could be blamed on the Chechens.” This was four months before the first bomb went off.

    2) Sergei Stepashin, the former Interior Minister and Prime Minister, had openly stated in recent interviews with Russian media that he had been involved in top-level government plans for the invasion of Chechnya in March of 1999. This contradicted the official Russian line that the Russian invasion was purely a response to the terror bombings of September.

    3) That top Russian officials Alexander Voloshin and Anton Surikov held a secret meeting in France in July 1999 with Shamil Basayev, a Chechen warlord who was the public face of “Islamic terrorism” in Russia. The purpose of the meeting was to coordinate Basayev’s “Chechen” invasion of neighboring Dagestan, to provide Putin with another reason for attacking Chechnya. Basayev had long been suspected of working for Russia’s KGB/FSB and/or Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU.

    “The Shadow of Ryazan:_Is Putin’s government legitimate?” by David Satter, National Review, April 30, 2002. This provides a good overview of the evidence available up to that time of the Russian government’s planning and execution of the terrorist bombings.

    “The Smashing of Chechnya” by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed of Media Monitors Network provides a detailed report on the Russian war against Chechnya and an extensive bibliography of links to many stories dealing with the terror bombings in Russia as provocations by the FSB.

    Comment by Anders — February 6, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  36. The Kremlin was smart to call in the working class. They are the ones who have always decided elections in the end and they are firmly on Putin’s side.

    Um, it was also the working class who booed Putin at the mixed martial arts fight.

    Part of the working class is made up of nationalists, and they are strongly against Putin.
    Another part of the working class is having a hard time making ends meet — they are against Putin. Ditto — parents of young men drafted into the army. Ditto — anyone arrested by the cops. Ditto — anyone sick of corruption.

    OF COURSE RT is a Kremlin mouthpiece. It funds it. It has an interest in showing the world that it’s a democracy, so it allows more criticism of the regime on RT than on Russian TV. This is nothing new; it was the same with the Soviet press for consumption abroad.

    There were “officially” more people at the oppositional rally this time than last time.

    Comment by mossy — February 6, 2012 @ 8:14 am

  37. The KGB -Vote buying . Putinism works fine until you run out of other people’s money

    The most famous episodes of vote buying came in 18th century England, when two or more rich aristocrats spent whatever money it took to win. The notorious “Spendthrift election” came in Northamptonshire in 1768, when three earls spent over ₤100,000 each to win a seat

    A company half-owned by BP and several other major oil companies will sacrifice more profits to support farmers this year thanks to a Cabinet decree published Friday.

    The decree brings discounts to 30 percent on some fuels used for spring sowing. Signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the regulation is likely to increase the number of voters thankful to him in rural areas.

    Comment by Anders — February 6, 2012 @ 10:10 am

  38. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution, drafted by Arab and European countries, would have meant taking sides in a civil war.

    What a bunch of stinking hypocrites the Russians are.

    After all they don’t mind “taking sides in a civil war” without UN resolutions when it suits them, such as their support for mass murdering racist separatists in Georgia and Moldova……

    Comment by Andrew — February 6, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  39. SWP, do you care to speculate on Russia/Syria alliance and the recent veto in the security council? Is Putin just responding to his narrow interest in keeping a naval mediterranan port? or does he see it as a bravado skirmish with the west and flexing his muscles optically?

    Comment by scott — February 6, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

  40. As long as he keeps his shirt on.

    Comment by So? — February 6, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  41. Scott. This Walter Russell Mead piece lays it out well, I think.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 6, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

  42. Really nice piece by Mead

    Comment by pahoben — February 7, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  43. Thank you – First point: domestic politics. Putin is running for reelection, and although the clueless MSM (the ones who thought the Egyptian revolution was all about liberals and tweeting) instinctively sees the issue as a contest between Putin and liberals, the opposition that worries him is on the right. They are ultra-nationalists and fascists steeped in crazy-think conspiracy theories and full of fear and hate.

    Pest or cholera – what would you prefer?

    Lol-LOL- Former Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin has expressed confidence that a right-wing party will emerge in Russia and that he is ready to participate in its creation. He also noted that he would not say he and PM Vladimir Putin are like-minded people.

    Among the speakers, there was flamboyant Prokhanov, a prolific writer and chief editor of the Zavtra newspaper, main organ of the Brown-Red coalition. He placed Russia as the next on the line of the imperialist attack, after Libya, Syria and Iran -An Orthodox Christian and a unrepentant Soviet-style Communist, Stalin admirer, he was very critical of Putin and his compromises.

    KGB Putins Wikleaks ideologist Israel Shamir tell us

    Historically, liberal views do not get wide support in Russia. Therefore a right-centered party would become a very reasonable choice for the country, Kudrin said –Israel Shamir writing on Counterpunch – His thesis are the Russians will have to decide whom do they hate more: Putin or Communists .

    It now turns out that Ermash / Shamir also wrote the foreword to an English edition of the Protocols of Zion displayed. Edition, published in 2008, is published by the Institute for Historical Review, which since 1978 has been a leading exponent of holocaust revisionism and denial. There is reason to believe that this will make it even harder for Ermash / Shamir to keep what little he may have left of credibility as a writer.

    Ermas / Shamir has recently been active in the Wikileaks, where he is responsible for conveying leaking material to the Russian media while his son has the corresponding responsibility for Scandinavia.

    Comment by Anders — February 8, 2012 @ 7:08 am

  44. I really liked the friend to all the friendless idea-ally of last resort.

    Comment by pahoben — February 8, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  45. “An Orthodox Christian and a unrepentant Soviet-style Communist, Stalin admirer, he was very critical of Putin and his compromises.” Seems a contradiction in terms, what with Stalin’s ruthless war on the Orthodox Church until he needed it during WWII, but hey, there’s plenty of cognitive dissonance among SWPistas too.

    Comment by Mr. X — February 8, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  46. There’s plenty of cognitive dissonance among the KGB-Putin-mafias supporters . KGB Putins Wikleaks ideologist Orthodox -Christian Israel Shamir have multiple anti-American roles . His agenda In order to be a good Stalinist Ortodox Christian dictator, Putin must reinstall respect and fear .

    You have Russia, which is a master country. I mean not the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, but Russia which is the master country with the great colony around it within the Soviet Union in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, in Hungary. That’s the great example today of your classic kind of colonialism. The United States, with trivial exception, has never been a colonial country.

    Comment by Anders — February 9, 2012 @ 7:18 am

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