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  • Putin’s personnel changes make a long-term dictatorship more likely, Pastukhov says
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/08/16

    The removal of Sergey Ivanov as head of the Presidential Administration, whatever the proximate causes, “symbolizes a change in eras of the Putin administration,” from one of a kind of collective leadership to a one-man dictatorship that is likely to last a long time, according to Vladimir Pastukhov.

    Ivanov’s departure, the St. Antony’s College historian says, is “not an isolated event” but rather part of “a general tectonic shift in the structures of Russian power and of a change in the general balance of forces” which for more than a decade had seemed unlikely to ever change.

    The common feature of Ivanov’s removal and that of many others near the Kremlin has been Putin’s installation of “servants in place of friends … In place of the post-communist boyars has come the post-communist nomenklatura nobility, the serving class of the 21st century.”

    With Ivanov’s ouster – and he was one of the pillars of the old system – “the dam is broken and the flood of change will not stop,” Pastukhov says.

    Four years ago, he predicted that “in order to survive, Putin must become a Stalin; that is, he must change the mechanism of power in a cardinal way. Today one can speak about this as a fait accompli.”

    “The era of the collective rule of Putin’s friends is coming to an end,” he continues.

    Russia will now be ruled not by a prince and his entourage but by a tsar and his slaves.

    There won’t be “an informal Politburo.” Instead, there will be “’evenings in secret’” with outcomes unpredictable for all their participants save one.

    In short, the system will be changed just as it was when Stalin got rid of the Old Bolsheviks and brought in the Bulganins and Malenkovs to do his bidding. One can hope, Pastukhov says, that Putin won’t use the same techniques Stalin did to do that; but it is clear that he is moving in the same direction as far as cadres policy is concerned.

    “However paradoxical it may seem,” the St. Antony’s scholar says, “what is taking place is promoting the strengthening of the regime: the dictatorship is becoming more ‘regular’ and more subordinate to certain formal internal algorithms.” There will be little room for “partisan warfare” in the entourage because the new men will not be an entourage; they will be servants.

    The new men, Pastukhov points out, “grew up within the bureaucratic hierarchy and were not implanted in it from the outside. They are more ascetic and therefore cheaper to keep, something that is not unimportant under crisis conditions.” They will be satisfied with apartments in Moscow high-rises; they won’t expect villas.

    In short, “the face of the Russian powers that be quite soon will become unrecognizable,” he argues, but its new face will bear “familiar aspects of the Soviet nomenklatura matrix as formed by ‘the father of the peoples,’” Stalin.

    According to Pastukhov, the current crisis was the catalyzer of these changes; but the changes themselves show that the regime is much more capable of survival than many of its opponents think. It has come up with “adaptive mechanisms” on its own which allow it to engage more effectively in crisis management.

    This “new political system is being developed under conditions of a more severe reality of Russia, one eternally fighting and eternally mobilized for struggle with a hostile environment living not so much with abundance but with a deficit of resources.” Those who don’t understand what is coming will pay a high price, but hopefully not with their lives.

    Pastukhov argues that “the newly rebuilt power structure can have a quite large reserve of stability and withstand further testing,” including a deepening of the economic crisis and “even war.” Whether Putin will be able to move entirely to such a new system, of course, still remains an open question.

    That is because doing so is quite difficult “in the absence of a systemic ideology, in place of which the Kremlin still uses the franchise of ‘Russian Eurasianism.’ But if all the same this intention is realized, then the dictatorship in Russia will be a long one.”

    Of course, if one takes a longer view, other possibilities emerge. “Out of the storms of 1937,” Pastukhvo says, “emerged not only Bulganin and Malenkov but also Khrushchev who in part consciously but more unconsciously accepted for himself the role of the gravedigger of the system by starting the Thaw.”

    However, that took a long time. One can’t stop the seasons; but “sometimes winter lasts longer” than one expects. Putin’s personnel changes make a long-term dictatorship more likely, Pastukhov says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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    • Remains of executed victims found in Lviv’s Prison on Lontskoho Museum
      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Christine Chraibi 2016/08/16

      For more than three weeks Ukrainian archaeologists have been excavating the courtyard of the National Memorial Museum “Tyurma na Lontskoho” (Prison on Lontskoho) (1 Stepana Bandery Str., Lviv), where the NKVD and KGB systematically imprisoned and tortured Ukrainian dissidents and nationalists. Two mass graves with human remains and personal belongings have been dug up – one contains the remains of two persons, and the other more than ten bodies. Experts are confident they will find the remains of other executed victims.

      In 2005, developers had planned to build a high-rise on the museum site, but construction was stopped when workers discovered human remains. Unfortunately, at that time no one was interested in pursuing such historical work.

      Today, many experts believe that these graves bear the signs of the brutal Soviet secret police (NKVD) – the bodies were thrown randomly into the pit together with animal remains and covered with household waste and soil, whereas the Nazi Germans lay their victims in compact straight rows and then covered them with soil.

      Ruslan Zabily, Director of the National Memorial Museum spoke to the press about the recent findings:

      “This is the second year we’ve been conducting archaeological digs in the prison courtyard. Two burial pits have been uncovered. We can definitely assert that these persons were victims of Soviet repression in the 1940s-50s. Today, we uncovered two bodies, and we continued our digs in the second pit, where we found ten human remains, but the whole excavation area has not been opened yet. There’s a lot of supporting excavated objects that will help us do research on these graves, and establish the exact dates and total number of people killed.”

      “This year we started the next phase of excavation research, using probing, coring and trenching techniques. Late last week we located the first burial pit, continued digging and found a second grave with more than ten remains in another trench.”

      “I’d like to add that this is the first large-scale archaeological study of the area since the Prison on Lontskoho Museum was inaugurated on June 28, 2009. Our work on these two graves is just beginning. In fact the Ukrainian national police has also opened criminal proceedings with regard to the human remains found in the courtyard. We plan to study the excavated bodies, identify the victims, and inform the public. We’ll be working together with our archivists.”

      Svyatoslav Sheremeta, Director of KP Dolia, the memorial research company involved in excavation work:

      “We can’t as yet determine the exact date of these finds, but we can confirm that it was definitely after 1939, after the first arrival of the Bolsheviks in Lviv.”

      “We can also assert that the other excavated objects date back to the Polish period (until 1939), but it’s clear that people were still using those objects after 1939 – dishes, glasses, bottles, pots and pans, and other household items, as well as objects from the Soviet period. In addition, we uncovered remnants of cloth, clothing, shoes, certain personal items, animal remains, and some sort of Soviet certificate belonging to one of the victims.”

      “The NKVD also covered the bodies with lime so as to eliminate any trace of their crimes. That’s why we must dig deeper and more carefully and excavate the whole courtyard.”

      About the Prison on Lontskoho Museum:

      The Memorial Museum Prison on Lontskoho commemorating victims of occupation regimes was opened in a large building which for 85 years had housed the secret police of different occupation forces. The imposing complex standing on the corner of Bandery and Kopernika Streets in Lviv was built in the late 19th century for the Austrian gendarmerie. The building was later transformed into Polish, German and Soviet prisons. During the German occupation of Ukraine, the building housed the infamous Gestapo. The Second World War in general was characterized by unheard-of violence outside the fields of battle. The violence was particularly brutal in Ukraine. When the Soviets withdrew from Western Ukrainian territory in June 1941, they shot, murdered, or burned to death nearly 20,000 inmates of NKVD prisons, including many in the Prison on Lontskoho. After World War II, the building was used by the KGB to imprison and punish partisans, dissidents, and activists. Lviv residents remember it as a place from where no one returned – “”You can see and smell Siberia from the prison windows…!” After the independence of Ukraine in 1991, it was used as a detention facility by the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine). The building now houses the National Police and the Museum.

      Video of press conference in Museum courtyard (in Ukrainian, 14:22 min)

      Remains of executed victims found in Lviv’s Prison on Lontskoho Museum -Euromaidan Press |

      Source: gazeta.lviv

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      • Russia hopes EU and US will lift sanctions by allowing them to participate in construction of Siberian transport network
        UAWIRE ORG August 16, 2016 6:50:08 PM

        The transport system project "United Eurasia", valued at $240 billion and developed in Russia, is expected to be implemented by 2035. The details of the project were reported by Kommersant with information taken from a letter to the Deputy Minister and the project’s own documentation.

        The Security Council of the Russian Federation and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Nekipelov, proposed the project to Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. United Eurasia will develop a system of transport-logistic corridors in Siberia.

        The document outlines a proposal to share project involvement with China, the USA and European countries in exchange for lifting the sanctions against Russia.

        The authors envision the creation of two 9,600 km-long transport-logistic corridors, a new high-speed railway at the base of the Eastern testing ground of Russian Railways and a network of transshipping hubs.

        At their base in Siberia, in the Far East and the Arctic, transport-logistics will be maximized with the use of water routes, aircraft hubs, and networks of quick-assembly runway systems for small aircraft and even heavy-lift and long range airships.

        Developers consider that the scope of the project and the return on investment periods (15 to 20 years) will encourage business and allow " epatriation of Russian capital from offshore” sources.
        UAWire - Russia hopes EU and US will lift sanctions by allowing them to participate in construction of Siberian transport network

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        • Gazprom expects a record decline in gas production this year
          UAWIRE ORG August 16, 2016 3:35:00 PM

          According to Gazprom’s forecast, gas production by the end of this year will amount to 417.2 billion cubic meters. In 2015, the company’s enterprises reached the lowest level of production to date, 418.47 billion cubic meters.

          According to a forecast, presented in a report for the second quarter of this year, natural gas production by the end of this year will be 0.3 percent lower than it was last year. Last year’s gas production by the enterprises of Gazprom reached the lowest level in the company's history. It decreased by 5.73 percent in comparison with 2014.

          Gazprom also expects that in 2016, gas production in Russia as a whole will amount to 632 billion cubic meters, which is 3.5 billion cubic meters less than the amount produced the year before.
          UAWire - Gazprom expects a record decline in gas production this year

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          • Former separatist leader criticizes Russia's nationalization of industry in the Donbas
            UAWIRE ORG August 16, 2016 7:08:00 AM

            The former leader of separatists in eastern Ukraine, Alexander Borodai, who led the separatists in the Donbas region at the beginning of the war and now heads Russia's "Union of Volunteers of Donbas", was interviewed by the Russian Free Press portal. During his interview he criticized the idea of the nationalization of Ukrainian businesses in the Donbas region. He has also recognized that the separatist republic exists thanks to the Ukrainian oligarchs and also said that Russia does not need the goods produced in the Donbas .

            In response to the question whether it is possible to implement socialism in the Donbas, Borodai said: "The economy in the Donbas, whether we like it or not, is a capitalist economy and it cannot be otherwise. There was never any socialism and there never will be. And those who are trying to promote the socialist idea anywhere else, including the Donbas region, in my opinion, are idiots. And those who promote these ideas in the Donbas are harmful idiots. The idea to print money in the Donbas region was inspired by those that hold communist and socialist idiotic views…This idea is still alive in the minds of some crooks and idiots. And, first of all, they are crooks. They want to print the paper currency and to exchange it for the money, which has real value.”

            The former leader of the separatists also said that he considers that it is not right to fight against the oligarchs in the Donbas region and stressed that thanks to them the DPR (Donetsk People's Republic) and LPR(Luhansk People's Republic) exist today.

            “I really like the eternal struggle with the oligarchs. Yeah, I'm not very fond of the oligarchs myself. But what can you do against reality? In the Donbas region, big business and big industry had existed and still exists to this day. And the products that it produces are not needed in the Donbas region. In Russia, frankly, it’s also not really needed. In Russia they have their own industry; it is the same. Where can these products be sold? It is all export. It can be sold only in the capitalist world. How do you do it without those people who marked themselves as the rightful owners of these enterprises,” the separatist said.

            In addition, Borodai hinted that Russia may soon also implement the Ukrainian scenario in northern Kazakhstan. So, the question of whether the events of the "Russian spring" can be repeated in Kazakhstan and whether Borodai will take part in it, he replied:

            "You understand that I have to be very diplomatic when answering such questions. I represent not only myself, but the "Union of Volunteers of Donbas." The organization I lead is a mobilized reserve of Russian people. Nobody knows where the Russians will need help?
            UAWire - Former separatist leader criticizes Russia's nationalization of industry in the Donbas

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            • Russia's Crimea Bridge Project Beset By Engineering Worries And Labor Woes
              NPR Corey Flintoff August 16, 20164:37 PM ET

              Crimea came back into the headlines this summer when Donald Trump suggested he was willing to consider recognizing Russia's takeover of the Ukrainian territory. Trump also said he'd think about lifting the sanctions the U.S. imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

              The Kremlin has been racing to cement its control over the Black Sea peninsula. A key part of this effort is the Crimea Bridge, and it's essential to President Vladimir Putin's plan to make the peninsula a viable part of Russia.

              After Russia seized Crimea, Ukraine blocked most road and rail traffic to the occupied region. There was no land connection to the Russian mainland, so goods had to be delivered by sea or air, driving up costs. The Russian tourists who are crucial to Crimea's economy had to wait in long lines to ride a crowded ferry.

              The bridge will link eastern Crimea to Russia.

              The bridge is designed to solve all that.

              From the starting point on the Russian mainland, it will stretch for nearly 12 miles across the Kerch Strait to the eastern tip of Crimea.

              Right now, it's a sprawl of temporary causeways and bridges that bring materials and equipment to the site. Trucks load up with boulders that will shore up a narrow spit leading out to what will be the main span of the bridge.

              Construction director Leonid Ryzhenkin stands on a causeway, far out into the strait, near the point where the bridge will have to span a deep channel.

              Even in near-perfect weather, it's windy here. Ryzhenkin says that can be a challenge for the builders. The weather is interfering with the work, he says. Storms back in June kept workers off the job and construction vessels in port for days.

              Critics cite other concerns, too. Engineer Georgy Rosnovsky says the bridge is badly needed, but it's being built in the wrong place and the wrong way. He has designed other bridges and says this one could be vulnerable to earthquakes and mud volcanoes on the sea floor.

              The project engineers insist they tested extensively before choosing this site. They're driving pilings as deep as 300 feet into the sea bed to reach a solid foundation.

              The builders will have to get this one right: Putin allocated $4.3 billion for this Crimea Bridge in the midst of a financial crisis.

              The contract went to companies belonging to billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, a close Putin friend. Rotenberg was a prime developer of the Sochi Olympics, which ran into billions of dollars in cost overruns.

              Now the construction companies are being accused of mistreating workers.
              Vyacheslav Abdullin, a laborer from the Ural Mountain region, says the company promised decent pay of almost $80 a day, plus free meals and a place to live.

              In the end, he says, food and lodging were deducted, leaving the workers with little to take home. He says workers were fired for taking breaks, so they could be sent home without being paid at all.

              The builders promise to finish the job swiftly, with four lanes of auto traffic open by December 2018, and two rail tracks soon after. Once it's complete, they say the bridge will be able to carry 14 million people each year between Russia and Crimea.
              Russia's Crimea Bridge Project Beset By Engineering Worries And Labor Woes : Parallels : NPR

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              • Increased terrorism against Ukraine more likely than a conventional aggression by Moscow, Bezsmertnyi says
                EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/08/17

                Moscow is unlikely to launch a conventional military attack against Ukraine in the near term, according to Roman Bezsmertnyi. It simply isn’t prepared to do so or to suffer the international consequences. Instead, he says, the Russian side is more likely to use terrorist attacks and other means of heightening tensions in Ukraine.

                In an interview on Kyiv’s 112 Ukraina television channel, Ukraine’s former representative to the trilateral contact group said that officials are currently considering several different scenarios for the future of Russian-Ukrainian relations, including heightened tensions.

                Within that vector, the ambassador suggests, three possible vectors are being discussed, but only two of them are likely.

                < The first and most widely discussed is that Russia will launch a broad military offensive. But “Russia isn’t prepared” for that and consequently, this possibility should be considered very unlikely.
                < The second possibility is that Russia will carry out various terrorist actions, including the seizure of hostages. In Bezsmertnyi’s view, “this is considered as the most probable” scenario.
                < And the third possibility is that the Russian side will ramp up the information war, something he also considers likely.

                Such conclusions, of course, reflect an understanding of Vladimir Putin’s “hybrid war,” the Kremlin leader’s use of various tactics that have plausible deniability and that many in Russia, Ukraine and especially the West will dismiss as something less than full-scale Russian aggression.

                But Bezsmertnyi’s words should be the occasion for international recognition of exactly the opposite, albeit something that few are yet prepared to say openly:

                From the blowing up of Russian apartment buildings to bring himself to power in 2000 to now, Putin has transformed Russia into a terrorist state, ready to use terrorist means and to cooperate with those who do.

                That makes Russia far more unpredictable and dangerous than it would be if it played within the normal rules of international relations and even war and means that all countries from Russia’s neighbors to its geopolitical competitors–however far afield–must now think about how to respond to someone who has shown himself unconstrained by what most expect.

                And in doing so, those threatened by Putin’s policies need to reflect deeply that the normal means of containment that worked so well against the Soviet Union are unlikely to be equally successful against him and that new tactics and strategies need to be developed and put in place.

                What these should be and whether other governments will be prepared to act on them, of course, remains to be seen. But Bezsmertnyi’s words should be an occasion for doing so rather than one in which leaders will calm themselves with the assurance “at least there won’t be a war.” Instead, they must recognize that Russia is simply carrying out a war by other means.
                Increased terrorism against Ukraine more likely than a conventional aggression by Moscow, Bezsmertnyi says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                • Russian opposition journalist: Trump threat to entire world order, as well as America itself
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/08/16

                  Should he win the US presidential election, Republican candidate Donald Trump will give Vladimir Putin carte blanche for further escalation of aggression in the post-Soviet space, well-known Russian opposition journalist Igor Yakovenko said in an interview.

                  “The inappropriate compliments that Trump and Putin have showered upon each other could somehow incite Trump supporters – as well as those who favor Russian annexation of the Crimea,” said Yakovenko.

                  He cited statements by Trump such as “the people of the Crimea prefer to be with Russia, rather than where they were before” and “Ukraine – it’s a mess.”

                  Yakovenko suggests Trump’s assuming power could disrupt the Western world, giving Putin carte blanche for further escalation of aggression within the former Soviet Union. Yakovenko also cites Trump’s now infamous “Russia, if you’re listening” request for Russia to continue hacking the e-mail of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as evidence that Trump may be a threat not only to US national security, “but the security of the entire civilized world.”

                  This writer points out: Trump’s danger to the United States lies not only in the fact that he actually encourages a hostile state to increase its spying against his own country. Serious problems with the moral character of the candidate pose a threat

                  “The inappropriate compliments that Trump and Putin have showered upon each other could somehow incite Trump supporters – as well as those who favor Russian annexation of the Crimea,” said Yakovenko. He cited statements by Trump such as “the people of the Crimea prefer to be with Russia, rather than where they were before” and “Ukraine – it’s a mess.”

                  Trump is not a conservative — he is the opposite. He is the destroyer of the foundations.

                  Yakovenko suggests Trump’s assuming power could disrupt the Western world, giving Putin carte blanche for further escalation of aggression within the former Soviet Union. Yakovenko also cites Trump’s now infamous “Russia, if you’re listening” request for Russia to continue hacking the e-mail of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as evidence that Trump may be a threat not only to US national security, “but the security of the entire civilized world.”

                  This writer points out: Trump’s danger to the United States lies not only in the fact that he actually encourages a hostile state to increase its spying against his own country. Serious problems with the moral character of the candidate pose a threat too and run the risk of destroying core principles and values on which American society is based.

                  “Donald Trump is right in saying that many Americans are tired of political correctness, the constant struggle of feminists and gays for their rights, as well as providing assistance to various ‘humiliated and insulted’ people – within the US but especially abroad. It seems to be a logical progression, if the power of the left liberal Obama were to move to the hard conservative (right-wing liberals in Russian political terminology).

                  But Trump is not a conservative — he is the opposite. He is the destroyer of the foundations. His willingness to betray the interests of the countries of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and to cooperate with the Putin regime is destructive to NATO and the overall unity of the West.

                  In his rejection of political correctness Trump comes close to abandoning fundamental principles of morality. His recent insult to the parents of the deceased soldier in Iraq indicates that this is a person who has long ago freed himself from the chimera of conscience and such trifles as appearances. Here is what he says about the mother of the deceased soldier who died for his country: ‘His wife, she just stood there, she had nothing to say. Or maybe she is not allowed to speak.’ So Trump alludes to the fact that the parents, as well as the dead soldier, and are somehow less American because they are Muslims,” recalls Yakovenko.

                  According to the journalist, the candidate’s business qualities are no different.

                  “The first time I paid attention to the eccentric billionaire was in 1988 because of the way he duped Mike Tyson, whose sports career at the time was just taking off, even as he face terrible problems in his personal life and finances. The Mighty Champion at home was a little, shall we say, naive, and just asking to be cheated. Donald Trump just could not let this opportunity pass by. After several months of work on Tyson, Trump received two million dollars from Tyson for his phony services. This, of course, is very little compared with how much Tyson had lost with other rogues, and was a minor amount for Trump. Nevertheless, it is significant,” says Igor Yakovenko.

                  The journalist stresses that Donald Trump has a very scandalous reputation, and, according to the American journalist Michael Bohm, believes that artifice is his most valuable business quality. “It’s no coincidence that his opponents call him a double-dyed gambler and charlatan,” Bohm said

                  “In politics, Trump implements the same principles as in business. Perhaps even more so, and with worse consequences. For example, his idea of restructuring the external debt of the United States looks like the solution of the Leninist government to not repay debts of the tsarist government. There is a difference, though. Lenin just did the bourgeois out of 100% of their loans, and Trump simply proposes to do the entire world out of the 60% of the money that the simpletons who believed in the United States invested in US securities. Trump’s idea to introduce 45% tariffs on imports from China and Mexico is the same nonsense as Putin’s anti-sanctions with import substitutions,” said Yakovenko.

                  Nevertheless, the writer admits that in the history of even the most highly cultured and free nations, there are periods of so-called “stupor,” like when famous dissident Yuri Koryakin, after the victory of the Liberal Democratic Party in the first Duma elections in 1993, uttered his famous phrase: “Russia, you have gone crazy!”.

                  “The number of ‘stupefied’ Russians then was 23%. Years passed, and the process of stupefaction progressed. In the 23 years since Koryakin explained the to the motherland what he thinks about it, the number of those Russians has increased several times, from 23% to the notorious 86% of those who support ‘Crimea is ours’ and Putinism.’ Most of what Zhirinovsky promised in 1993, Putin implemented in 2016… The process of stupor at different times overtakes a variety of nations. In 30-40 years of the last

                  The process of stupor at different times overtakes a variety of nations. In 30-40 years of the last century, the Germans very much went crazy. The degree of insaninty is different, but in 1933, too, not all was clear as to the size of the stupidity that was then happening to the nation of Goethe and Kant,”warns the Russian journalist.

                  At the same time, Igor Yakovenko acknowledged that Donald Trump in many respects differs from Putin and Adolf Hitler, and from Zhirinovsky, and from Boris Johnson.

                  However, with all of these policies, he has one thing in common: fringe populism, as well as cheating and quackery.

                  “Trump showered insults on women, Mexicans, Muslims, Ukraine, the Baltic States, based on the belief that the level of xenophobia among Americans is such that those drawn to populist promises will be greater than 50%. I really hope that he is wrong,” concluded Igor Yakovenko. Russian opposition journalist: Trump threat to entire world order, as well as America itself -Euromaidan Press |


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                  • Moscow set to exploit its infiltration of US politics long after November
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/08/10

                    Most Western commentators have focused on the ways in which Vladimir Putin is seeking to use his agents of influence to affect the outcome of the American presidential election, but a report in Novaya gazeta suggests he may be counting on what he is doing today to affect and destabilize the US longer after the votes are counted.

                    Aleksandr Panov, the Washington correspondent for Novaya gazeta, provided in his paper the most detailed Russian summary yet of Western articles about how the Kremlin has sought to influence the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to Russia’s advantage.

                    Near the end of that article, the Russian journalist makes a comment that suggests that once again, in contrast to Americans, Moscow is taking a longer view about its role in the US presidential vote and about what may happen both independently and as a result of Russian involvement in that process.

                    He writes the following: “This year Americans are confronted with a choice of ‘the lesser of two evils.’” And that has consequences: “Victory in the elections does not mean that the [current] scandals will disappear. The winners do not await ratings of 80 percent but new investigations in the Congress and the media, with the worst variant being impeachment.”

                    Russian involvement with campaigns could easily become the basis for such investigations and even for suggestions that the outcome of the elections was illegitimate, and that could be a reason why Moscow has not tried to conceal what it is doing but rather has almost flaunted it as an indication of Russian power.

                    Two other Russian commentaries this week, one by Igor Eidman and a second by Igor Yakovenko, provide additional reasons for drawing that conclusion because they highlight the way in which Moscow has proceeded quite publicly and without its usual caution to show that it is influencing this or that American political camp.

                    Writing on the portal, Eidman argues that “Trump is Putin’s last hope” because the Republican’s coming to power would “inevitably destroy the anti-Putin coalition of Western countries and in general introduce into the camp of democratic countries discord and division.”

                    But two other of Eidman’s observations are more to the point here.

                    He says that “Putin of course wants not only to help but also to influence Trump,” and he observes that Russian special services began playing a long game in the 1990s by paying court to American political consultants who had come to Russia.

                    Among those, the Russian commentator says, was Paul Manafort whom the Russian agencies assisted and who now is in Trump’s inner circle.

                    It is beyond question, Eidman continues, that this “link with Russian overseers has not been lost,” yet another indication that Moscow seeks to use such people to promote its own interests over the long haul.

                    And also on the portal, Yakovenko suggests that it is time to dispense with Lenin’s term “useful idiots” and instead use the term “useful scoundrels” to describe those who are cooperating with Moscow to spread its influence in the US and elsewhere.

                    He observes that “Lenin called Western bourgeois politicians and public figures who supported the Bolsheviks useful idiots. In Lenin’s time, they really could be ‘idiots,’ that is, people who did not understand whom and what they were supporting.” But with the rise of the Stalin regime, they were more like scoundrels than like idiots.

                    Today, “there are various reasons useful scoundrels masquerading as idiots have who supposedly do not understand the threat to the world that the Putin regime poses,” Yakovenko says. Some like former German Chancelor Schroeder or IOC head Bach do so for “obviously” selfish interests.

                    Others, like Trump, “are seeking together with Putin to increase chaos in the world because in a world of order and stability, they do not have any political prospects,” he argues, adding that these politicians will suffer the same fate as their predecessors who indeed were “useful idiots,” Yakovenko continues.

                    And that fate is this, he says. Their names will become symbols of those who are prepared to betray their own civilizations and reach out instead to “the enemies of civilization” as such. Moscow set to exploit its infiltration of US politics long after November | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                    • Another former employee is suing Russia’s ‘troll factory’
                      MEDUZA Russian BBC 16 august 2016

                      For the second time, a former employee at the “Internet Research Agency,” better known as Russia's so-called “troll factory,” is suing the company for unpaid benefits. Olga Maltseva says the Internet Research Agency owes her maternity pay, and she's taking the company to court to get the money, according to a new report by the Russian service of the BBC.

                      After meeting with Lyudmila Savchuk, an activist who famously worked undercover at the “troll factory” for six weeks and then sued the company for unpaid wages, Maltseva started collecting evidence of her work “trolling” the Internet for hire, and later published this information online.

                      Shortly thereafter, she was called into the office to receive an unscheduled paycheck. When she arrived, however, her manager demanded that she resign, holding her wages hostage, unless she agreed to sign a resignation letter. Maltseva accepted the money, but refused to resign, declaring that she was taking maternity leave. A representative later caught up with her and her husband, allegedly offering the couple hush money to keep the story private, but they said no.

                      Maltseva is now represented by lawyers from “Team 29,” which specializes in information-freedom cases. The legal group says it intends to leverage the labor code to “rip off the mask of anonymity” that the “troll factory” has used to disguise its activities. Ivan Pavlov, Maltseva's attorney, says he wants to expose “who is responsible for these acts—for these attacks online and for trolling.”

                      Maltseva is reportedly demanding more than 300,000 rubles ($4,675) from the company in unpaid maternity leave and labor costs.
                      In August 2015, a court in St. Petersburg sided with Lyudmila Savchuk, awarding her 1 ruble (about $.02) in compensation in moral damages. Savchuk’s lawsuit described the inner workings of the “troll factory,” stating, “The work was scheduled in shifts, and each shift was 12 hours long. The employees had to write a certain amount of posts and comments on various websites.” The aims of the special projects department, where Savchuk worked, included writing at least five political posts on topics distributed at the beginning of every week. The salary amounted to 41,000 rubles ($776) per month.

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                      • Ilya Yashin announces the target of his next research paper: United Russia
                        MEDUZA Vedomosti 09:43, 16 august 2016

                        Ilya Yashin, prominent member of Russia's anti-Kremlin democratic opposition, says he's preparing to release his next white paper, this time targeting alleged ties between United Russia, the country's ruling political party, and organized crime. Yashin says he plans to publish the report by the end of the month.

                        Yashin says he spent the past two months gathering research for the white paper, which argues that United Russia has become a mechanism for social mobility among organized crime, enabling the mob to integrate itself into Russian politics. Yashin plans to print 20,000 copies of the report and distribute them in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

                        The report will be released weeks before Russia's parliamentary elections in September. Yashin says he hopes fellow opposition members will be able to make use of his research in the last of the campaign.

                        Earlier this year, Yashin published a report on Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov, detailing Kadyrov's human rights abuses. In May 2015, Yashin presented the report “Putin. The War,” which investigated Russian involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict and Crimea. This report was originally a project by Boris Nemtsov. After Nemtsov was killed in Moscow on February 27, 2015, Yashin and others completed the report on his behalf.

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                        • The Power Vertical August 15, 2016
                          Russia's Solitary Man

                          Vladimir Putin is throwing his old pals under the bus. He's replacing them with loyal and docile servants. And he's building a security apparatus that answers to him alone.

                          A year ago, Putin fired longtime associate Vladimir Yakunin as head of Russian Railways.

                          A few months back, he effectively dismissed Viktor Ivanov as director of the Federal Antinarcotics Service.

                          Last week, he removed his old crony Sergei Ivanov as Kremlin chief of staff.

                          And in the middle of all that, Putin set up a powerful National Guard, a 400,000-strong force that is run by the Kremlin leader's former bodyguard and answers to him alone.

                          Putin is becoming a solitary man. He's building a personal army and members of his once-powerful inner circle are dropping like flies.

                          "The age of the collective rule of Putin's friends is coming to an end," writes political analyst Vladimir Pastukhov, a visiting fellow at St. Antony's College at Oxford University.

                          And they're not just being fired, they're being humiliated.

                          Consider Sergei Ivanov, a KGB veteran who has worked with Putin for decades. In addition to being Kremlin chief of staff -- one of the most powerful posts in the country -- Ivanov has served as Security Council secretary, defense minister, and deputy prime minister.

                          And his new job? Special assistant to the president for ecology and transportation.

                          But hey, at least he still has a job.

                          When Viktor Ivanov got the boot this past spring, it was almost an afterthought. Putin simply liquidated the Federal Antinarcotics Service he ran, merging it into the Interior Ministry, leaving the once-influential KGB veteran on the outside looking in.

                          When Yakunin was dismissed as head of Russian Railways, he was offered the soft landing of a seat in the Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament.

                          Given his stature and long-standing ties to Putin, Yakunin assumed that he would be given a leadership position, perhaps even deputy speaker.

                          But when leaks to the media revealed that he would be just a rank-and-file lawmaker, that he wouldn't have an office in the Federation Council's main building, and that his official car wouldn't be a Mercedes or a Volvo but a Ford Focus, Yakunin said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

                          This trend is likely to continue. There are persistent reports in the media that another old Putin crony, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, is quickly falling out of favor.

                          And who is getting promoted is just as important as who is getting fired: Mid-level bureaucrats and career civil servants who have no power base of their own and who owe their careers to Putin alone.

                          Anton Vaino, the new Kremlin chief of staff, is emblematic of this new governing class.

                          "In place of a prince who ruled with his entourage, there is now a tsar who rules over his servants," Pastukhov writes.

                          One group of Putin's old inner circle, however, appears to be immune to the purge.

                          Businessmen like Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, Gennady Timchenko, and Yury Kovalchuk make their billions off of state contracts, but they can also be counted on to finance Putin's pet projects. In Putin's new system, they remain useful.

                          "Putin is moving closer to those who serve him and away from those who, because of their resources, claim to be co-rulers," writes political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya.

                          By scrapping his old system of ruling through elite consensus and balancing clan interests and moving toward one-man rule, Putin is not only breaking with the governing model he has used for his 16 years in power, he is also breaking with the governing model used by every Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin.

                          And we all know what Stalin felt he needed to do to make that system work.

                          Which is why the new National Guard, run by Putin's old bodyguard and uber-loyalist, Viktor Zolotov, is so important. It absorbs Russia's Interior Ministry troops, the OMON riot police, and the SOBR -- or SWAT -- forces. And it reports directly to Putin.

                          When it was first announced in the spring, commentators assumed the National Guard's primary purpose would be to quickly suppress a popular uprising -- and it may eventually be used for that reason.

                          But its real target appears to be the elite. It's a message that if anybody gets any bright ideas about attempting a palace coup, they will need to contend with Putin's own personal Praetorian Guard.

                          And in that case, we'll see just how far Russia's solitary man is prepared to go.
                          Russia&#39;s Solitary Man

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                          • Brian Whitmore August 17, 2016
                            The Daily Vertical: The Crimea Con Job (Transcript)

                            So by now the holes in Russia's story about an alleged Ukrainian terror plot in Crimea are big enough to drive a truck through.

                            Nobody who has seriously looked at the evidence actually believes this tall tale. And yet, the Kremlin is sticking to its story and showing no signs of relenting.

                            But why?

                            Well, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave us a big hint during talks yesterday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

                            Lavrov said, and I'm quoting directly here: "There was a sabotage operation, planned by Ukraine’s intelligence services, which had the aim of destabilizing the situation in the Russian region of Crimea.

                            "Regardless of how our Western partners choose to work with our friends in Kyiv, we are taking comprehensive measures so that any future attempts at hostile incursions into our territory are nipped in the bud."

                            Now, the operative words here, of course, were "the Russian region of Crimea" and "our territory."

                            By manufacturing this crisis, Vladimir Putin's regime has given itself the opportunity to continuously talk in international forums about Crimea like it is legally part of Russia, to accuse Ukraine of destabilizing it, and to demand the West do something about it.

                            They're framing the debate and challenging the West to contradict them.

                            They're trying to make everybody forget -- or conveniently overlook -- that Russia illegally and forcefully annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

                            It's the functional equivalent of a car thief calling the police to accuse the rightful owner of trying to take their car back.

                            It's a con job, and it's working. The Daily Vertical: The Crimea Con Job (Transcript)

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                            • CENSOR.NET 08.08.16 17:22
                              Militants hold 107 people hostage, 10 political prisoners kept in Russian prisons, - MP Iryna Herashchenko

                              Russian militants confirm they still hold in captivity 45 people from the list of hostages submitted by the Ukrainian authorities.
                              President's Commissioner for peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, First Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Herashchenko wrote on Facebook, Censor.NET reports.

                              "On behalf of President Poroshenko, following my own convictions, and obeying the voice of my heart, I did everything in my province and power to promote the release of Ukrainian hostages. We were able to release 80 prisoners during the year that I spent as a participant in this process together with the Security Service and the Minsk group (on release of hostages, which is also represented by Viktor Medvedchuk). Nadiia Savchenko, whose release many people of good will, diplomats, and politicians took part in, is also among them. I know the extent of efforts the president personally made for that as he was forced to hold several rounds of talks about her release with Putin. The issue of the liberation of other captives held in prisons in the occupied territories and the Russian Federation was tackled at each of these telephone conversations.

                              "We take every effort daily to be able to proclaim good news. We managed to free Yurii Soloshenko and Hennadii Afanasiev in June. Ivan Beziazykov, whom we were searching for almost two years, was liberated in July thanks to the SBU. 107 people, including 64 military and 43 civilians are currently held hostage by the "Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics". As much as 45 persons from this list, instead of 20 previously claimed by the militants, were confirmed at the last meeting in Minsk. Finding a person requires sustainable and hard efforts. 10 political prisoners remain in Russian prisons. We also make a variety of efforts in this direction seeking the ways to release them. And I doubt that all the details can be disclosed at the meetings, if we want to succeed," she said.

                              "I believe it significant and positive that the UN mission was granted access to the hostages last week for the first time in two years. In Minsk, we constantly insist that the international humanitarian missions and the ICRC must obtain access to prisons in the occupied territories. We take every effort for the relatives of all the hostages and missing persons to get good news (498 persons are currently missing including 345 civilians). This is a hard process indeed and we are constantly disclosing details that we can tell today without doing harm including at personal meetings. What could the MPs possibly do for the families of the hostages? They could adopt a law on payments to the families of the hostages at the very least. We will try to vote this law vital for the families of hostages in the first week of September. We also prepare to hold negotiations in Minsk Aug. 26," Iryna Herashchenko summed up.
                              Source: Victims of Russian aggression: Ukrainians held in captivity in Russia - Heraschenko, hostage, exchange, release, negotiations, captivity, Donbas, political prisoners, Ukrainian hostages in Russia, Victims of Russian aggression, Ukrainian POWs (08.08.

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                              • Putin to visit Crimea on Friday
                                UAWIRE ORG August 17, 2016 1:45:00 PM

                                The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, will visit Crimea. The visit is scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2016 as reported by RBC with reference to two sources close to the Kremlin and also to a source close to the political representation of the Southern Federal District.

                                The edition notes that the visit of the head of state to be held two weeks after the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation has detained saboteurs who they consider to be representatives of the Intelligence Service of Ukraine.

                                According to spokespeople from the edition, the Russian leader will meet with local officials and visit the Tavrida youth camp, which is located near Sevastopol. However, the press service of the Kremlin did not provide RBC with a comment regarding these visits.

                                The representative of the edition close to the leadership of Sevastopol said that Putin's visit is connected with the recent personnel changes. "We need to ensure that all changes were settled and constructive work will begin," he said.

                                Putin traditionally visits the Peninsula in August. In 2014, the President made a speech before the members of the Federal Assembly and spoke with artists in Crimea. In 2015, he travelled in a submarine to the bottom of the Black Sea near the coast of the Peninsula. UAWire - Putin to visit Crimea on Friday

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