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  • A new man emerges in Russia – Homo Putinisticus – Eidman says
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/10/08

    http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...0e70cf0851.jpg
    Russian society is now divided between “Russian Europeans” and members of a new species, Homo Putinisticus, according to Russian sociologist Igor Eidman; and on the outcome of the battle between these two groups depends not only the future of Russia but much else besides.

    In a Deutsche Welle commentary, Eidman notes that each era promotes a set of values which defines the modal personality in it. During the period of the USSR, for example, most people shared a set of values which justified referring to them as homo sovieticus.

    “The Soviet man,” he continues, passed from the scene in the early 1990s just as the Soviet Union did; and now, in its place has emerged under Vladimir Putin a sufficiently distinctive and “new social type” that can perhaps be most appropriately described as homo putinisticus, even though it has not spread to the entire population.

    This new man arose “under the influence of two main factors,” the shock of the reforms of the 1990s which discredited democratic market reforms and integration with the West, and “the hurrah patriotic propaganda of recent years” that has promoted “chauvinism, clericalism, and xenophobia.”

    Eidman draws his conclusions on the basis of research conducted by the Friedrich Nauman Foundation and several Levada Center polls on Russian values. (For the former,see Survey: Most Russians say they want a democracy but don’t support democratic values | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |. For the latter,see Восприятие США, Украины и жителей этих государств | Левада-Центр.)

    The German foundation found that for what Eidman is calling the homo putinisticus, “law, human rights, media freedom, a market economy, tolerance for minorities, and a secular state” are not basic values. Worse, it discovered that most Russians say the special services can violate the law in their work and that security is more important than freedom.

    The Levada Center in turn found that Russians who fall into this category are
    hostile to Western countries and especially Ukraine, loyal to the Russian state, not opposed to “official chauvinism,” proud of the annexation of Crimea and support Russian operations in Ukraine and Syria. And majorities regret the end of the USSR and have a positive view of Stalin.

    The members of the homo putinisticus represent “the most widespread social psychological type in Russia now,” but there is a significant minority of between 20 and 40 percent who “give completely European responses to the questions of the sociologists,” the Russian commentator says.

    Indeed, he continues, “there is reason to think that these “’Russian Europeans’ may be even more numerous” and thus the number of homo putinisticus lower than the figures the sociologists report.” Some people may not want to dissent from the official line, especially to those they do not know.

    And some may simply feel more disposed to European positions when they compare what they see around them with what Moscow’s propaganda asserts. The Kremlin “cannot conceal the crying contradiction between propaganda and reality,” especially given that Russians expect the state to help them and it isn’t doing so.

    “This confrontation with reality” which is behind the inherent conflict between homo putinisticus and Russian Europeans represents “a delayed action bomb” under the current Putin majority, Eidman says. Indeed, should it go off, it represents a danger to much else as well.
    A new man emerges in Russia – Homo Putinisticus – Eidman says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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    • Ukraine Lawmakers Reject Bill Banning Russian Artists
      BILLBOARD Vladimir Kozlov 10/7/2016

      Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has voted down a controversial bill that would introduce restrictions on all Russian artists' touring the former Soviet republic, the Ukrainian online newspaper Podrobnosti.ua reported.

      The bill stipulated that artists representing Russia, "the aggressor state," would only be allowed to perform in Ukraine if they submitted to promoters a written document condemning "the occupation of Ukrainian territory" by Russia. However, only 174 Rada members voted in favor of the bill, with 226 needed for it to pass. The parliament speaker's proposal to send the bill back for revision similarly failed to generate enough votes, effectively burying the initiative.

      Relations between the two countries soured in 2014, following Russia's annexation of the peninsular region of Crimea, which Ukraine now refers to as an occupied territory, and for its support for rebels in East Ukraine.

      Ever since, artists have been -- willingly or not -- part of the conflict between the two countries. Last year, Ukraine banned some Russian artists who praised the annexation of Crimea, or in some cases even performed in the region, from entering the country.

      Ukraine's "black list" includes singers Oleg Gazmanov, Iosif Kobzon, Valeria, Mikhail Boyarsky, Nikolai Rastorguyev and Grigory Leps.

      Ukraine also released a "white list" of foreign cultural figures who supported it in the standoff with Russia, which features veteran rock singer Yuri Shevchuk and indie star Zemfira alongside the likes of George Clooney, Jared Leto and Milla Jovovich.

      With Ukraine set to host next year's Eurovision Song Contest, there have been reports that the selection of a blacklisted artist as Russia's contestant is likely to lead to controversy.

      Meanwhile, the failure of the bill restricting Russian artists' touring apparently put a lid on Ukraine's broader initiative aimed at preventing pro-Kremlin Russian artists from performing in Ukraine.

      Several months ago, Ukraine's culture minister Yevgeny Nishchuk announced plans to create an agency that would prevent artists with anti-Ukrainian views from performing in the country.
      Ukraine Lawmakers Reject Bill Banning Russian Artists | Billboard

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      • Why are reforms lagging
        UNIAN Dmytro Sydorenko 07 Oct 2016

        "If the reform package is approved, then the effect will be seen ahead of the elections. The stakes are enormous because this year, economic growth begins in Ukraine. It is still slow, and it will depend on the implementation of reforms in the country, whether this growth will continue or accelerate," Co-Chair of the strategic group of advisors Leszek Balcerowicz said at a briefing on Thursday.

        This group of strategic advisors was established this spring, headed by two co-chairs: former Deputy Prime Minister, ex-Finance Minister of Poland Leszek Balcerowicz and former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia Ivan Miklos.

        Eminent reformers, who contributed to the fact that their home countries had joined the European Union and demonstrated significant progress in economic development, agreed to share their experience at the invitation of the Ukrainian authorities.

        Recent events have shown that the engine of reforms in Ukraine began to act up ahead of schedule.

        During this period, strategic advisers had time to prepare for the President, Government and Parliament proposals on the main directions of reforms to bring Ukraine to the path of stable development.

        However, as it turned out, those who had invited them, are in no hurry to implement the reforms proposed and they try to sit on two chairs at a time. Introducing minor improvements, they leave the most important sectors intact.

        Making his statement, Balcerowicz made it clear that with the approach of the elections, the spirit of reforms is being blown away from the high offices, while all the attention will be drawn to retaining ratings. Therefore, major changes need to be implemented as soon as possible, ideally before the end of this year.

        At the same time, recent events have shown that the engine of reforms in Ukraine began to act up ahead of schedule. Advisory Group co-chairs at their briefing in the Ukrainian House once again explained what steps the Ukrainian authorities should take to achieve GDP growth of 5-6% rather than the mere 1-1.5%.

        And at the same moment, in the Verkhovna Rada just a few blocks away, the deputies once again extended for one year a moratorium on the sale of agricultural land. The launch of the land market is constantly referred to by strategic advisors and international lenders of Ukraine headed by the IMF. The neighboring Eastern European countries have long implemented this reform, but the Ukrainian agrarian lobby, with the use of populists, has repeatedly managed to back-shelve the reform indefinitely.

        Low support of reforms by the Rada was repeatedly called one of the problems in the way of Ukraine's development. Deputies adopt only about a third of the bills submitted by the government. However, yesterday, Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan personally attended the parliament session to finally witness the long-awaited adoption of the bill on the establishment of the Road Fund.

        But where was the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Taras Kutoviy? Why nobody from the government tried to persuade those 297 MPs who pressed the Yes button and deprived the Ukrainians of the right to dispose of part of their legitimate property for one more year. Why hasn’t Kutoviy offered an alternative - the bill on the creation of the market of rights to the lease of land?

        The thing is that the previous law on the moratorium tasked the Government with developing and submitting to the Rada of the bill on the establishment of a land market. Consequently, the failure of the land reform is not only the parliament’s "merit".

        Another important step toward building up a normal market economy is privatization, the advisors say. In an interview with UNIAN, Ivan Miklos noted that it was a long and difficult process, the results of which could be seen in a couple of years. But a showing example with the failure to sell the Odesa Portside Chemical Plant, the most “delicious peace of pie”, has made it clear that the government is not ready to go on this path, either.

        Another thing proposed by foreign advisors is a pension reform. The huge deficit of the Pension Fund, very low pensions for the majority of elderly people, and the continuing division of society into castes due to “special pensions” - this is an incomplete list of problems in Ukraine’s pension system.

        While the issue of raising the retirement age is debatable, the abolition of early retirement for prosecutors, special pensions for judges and other provisions that divide the society in half is quite a feasible task. The advisors offered Ukraine to leave a separate system of pensions only to the military. And the Rada even supported the relevant bill.

        However, a logical rollback ensued. To begin with, the Constitutional Court has withdrawn the category of judges from under this law, which was supposed to raise questions to the Constitution guarantor and all others responsible for the judicial reform. The next thing was the government-offered draft law on public service being adopted. And once again, civil servants became a “little more equal” than the rest of Ukrainians by qualifying for special conditions for retirement.

        The authorities don’t wish to consider the cuts in social spending, either, on which Ukraine’s international partners insist. The sums allocated for subsidies and other benefits are growing by leaps and bounds, while control of their disbursement remains minimal. The minister of social policy jokes that even the deputies can get a subsidy. But the bitter truth is that no one prevents anyone who concealed their income from deceiving the country.

        Verification of recipients of social benefits, launched by former Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, sees no support in the government. The Ministry of Social Policy is in no hurry to create a single electronic register of recipients of social assistance. As a result, no one can say exactly how many people receive social assistance, and in what amounts. In the meantime, a parliamentary committee on social policy, employment and pension provision is not sure whether the Ministry of Finance should be given the right to monitor spending of those who receive social assistance.

        In fact, today’s reforms in Ukraine are fragmented. Utility tariffs were raised, deregulation started, a single social contribution was reduced. At the same time, pressure on business remains high, while the State Fiscal Service remains unreformed. As a result, the reduction of the single social contribution has not led to large-scale de-shadowing. Investment attraction levels are still very low, deregulation has not become complex, while the anti-corruption efforts are miserable.

        This can satisfy neither the public nor the country’s Western partners. Strategic advisors repeat again and again: the essential benefits of the reforms can only be achieved thanks to the cumulative effect, therefore reforms need to be implemented quickly and comprehensively.

        However, the authorities seem to be trying to play a hero of a cheap sci-fi movie, who sets one foot into the future, while leaving the other in the past. In such movies, this usually ends with the hero being torn apart.
        Why are reforms lagging - news about economy | unian | UNIAN

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        • War against Ukraine: the second humanities front
          EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/10/08

          Article by: Serhiy Borshchevsky, writer and diplomat, first vice-president of the Association of Ukrainian Writers, political expert at the Research Centre on Russia

          As you surf Ukrainian sites, you can see maps of different “hot spots” in Ukraine. As a rule, they’re clearly marked along the demarcation line in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. In fact, front lines should also be drawn through Kyiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya, Krivy Rih, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Rivne, Kharkiv and even such small towns as Izium in Kharkiv Oblast. I haven’t chosen these names at random, but more on that a later…

          An awkward question keeps popping up in my head: Are the President, Verkhovna Rada, Government of Ukraine, and the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine aware that our country, in its twenty-sixth year of independence, is regulated not only by their decrees and resolutions, but also – as in the worst years under the USSR – by instructions issued in Moscow?

          Do our distinguished leaders know about Russia’s federal target program called “The Russian Language in 2016-2020”, approved by RF Government Resolution No.481 dated May 20, 2015? According to the developers of this program, methods for learning and teaching the Russian language should meet the “strategic priorities of the Russian Federation” and strengthen “the position of the Russian language in the national education systems of CIS countries”. In particular, the program stipulates that “expanding the Russian language geographically will contribute to enhancing Russian influence, building a positive image of Russia abroad, raising its international prestige, and ultimately protecting Russia’s geopolitical interests.”

          I’m a writer, but as you see, here I’m talking about geopolitics rather than philology. I’ve already said that Russia usually attacks on two fronts: using tanks along one front line and the Bolshoi Ballet in the other one, or vice versa… depending on the situation.

          So, in the face of Russia’s continued armed aggression against Ukraine, how much longer will we carry out the plans devised by Kremlin thinkers, which include supplying textbooks… to CIS member states, as well as to the Republic of South Ossetia and Abkhazia!!?

          In addition to the program signed by Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin has also come up with Decree No.-2283 “Concept on state support and promotion of the Russian language abroad” approved on November 3, 2015 by Vladimir Putin. Here, the Russian language is considered as a sort of battering ram that Russia will use to attack the whole world, but first of all, its neighbours. The concept targets “strengthening the international position of the Russian Federation and promoting its foreign policy interests”. It notes that “one of the most important tools for spreading… Russian influence (that’s right, influence and not cooperation!) in educational, scientific, cultural and information spheres is the support and promotion of the Russian language abroad.”

          So, here we go again… the same old mantra about “preserving the Russian language in countries that are historically tied to Russia”, “ensuring the expansion of the Russian language as part of the integration process for CIS countries”, “creating a single Russian-speaking space abroad,” etc.

          Some time ago, Oleksandr Danylchenko (colleague and diplomat) and I published an article called “The Dummies Guide to Ukraine and the CIS”, in which we underscored the fact that Ukraine must withdraw from this so-called association. Here’s another argument in favour: Russia sees post-Soviet space as its personal sphere of interests and seeks international recognition for its role as leader of this space. Unless we leave the CIS, we may well see the occupied territories called “DNR” and “LNR” joining the CIS… along with the mythical Republic of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

          A separate paragraph is devoted to presidential Decree No.796 “Russkiy Mir Foundation” (Russian World) dated June 21, 2007… sounds familiar, doesn’t it! The website of the foundation lists Russian cultural centres in 45 countries, including Ukrainian cities named at the beginning of this article. These Russian centres are based in libraries, universities, theatres… and in the town of Izium where it has an office in the Municipal Department of Culture!! There are three more interesting addresses on the website – in Luhansk, Donetsk and Horlivka, where “Russian World” fans and followers have fulfilled their mission by transferring power and responsibility to Russian-backed militants.

          And one more… RF Government Decree No.2321-p “Program for working with compatriots abroad, 2015-2017”, which provides for a variety of interesting events, such as the annual international celebration of the St. George Ribbon, festivals such as Vivat, Russia!, With Russia in My Heart, etc.

          Russia’s expansionist pseudo-humanitarian plans abroad are financed by the state budget, as well as through different murky foundations, such as the fore-mentioned “Russian World” and the Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation in the CIS. The activities are coordinated by Russian diplomatic missions abroad, the Federal Agency for CIS Affairs, Russian citizens living abroad, and the International Humanitarian Cooperation Bureau (Rossotrudnichestvo).

          I don’t know whether our esteemed leaders know how and what Rossotrudnichestvo is doing in Ukraine with different categories and age groups of our citizens. Do they know about the competition “The CIS is My Family”, which is currently programmed by Moscow for children and students attending Russian-speaking schools in Ukraine? These are Ukrainian children who were born in an independent Ukraine! Why should we all silently agree with the fact that their country is the CIS? Shall we abandon all our children to Rossotrudnichestvo?

          In conclusion, my last direct question to the President of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian Government and NSDC: Given Russia’s open armed aggression against our country, when will the Ukrainian government finally stop and outlaw the activities of the “Russian World” outpost in our country?

          (CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) was formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union: full members – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstzn, Kyrkhyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan; associate members – Ukraine and Turkmenustan; Georgia withdrew its membership in 2008, while the Baltic states (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia)) refused to participate-Ed)
          Translated by: Christine Chraibi
          Source: Den

          War against Ukraine: the second humanities front -Euromaidan Press |

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          • How ‘separatists’ are prosecuted in Russia Independent lawyers on one of Russia’s most controversial statutes
            MEDUZA 12:11, 21 september 2016

            Russia’s Supreme Court is preparing a ruling to clarify one of the Russian Criminal Code’s most controversial statutes: Article 280.1 (on public calls to action for the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation). The article entered the Criminal Code in May 2014, and has, so far, been applied in 15 cases (the majority of which concern Crimea). In addition, there have been five convictions for statements on social networks and publications, in particular. Since this article has no precedence in Russian law, Meduza asked the head of the international human rights group Agora Pavel Chikov and its lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev for their thoughts.

            After the parade of sovereignties
            The issue of Russia’s territories has garnered a lot of discussion in recent years in terms of how and who can join the Federation and whether someone can leave. A consensus has formed in public opinion both on a measure of autonomy and a right to self-determination and – concurrently with the appearance of article 280.1 in the Criminal Code – about being held liable for calls to action to violate Russia’s territorial integrity.

            Article 280.1 went into effect on May 9, 2014, and a relevant case appeared almost immediately, with the first sentences being handed down in 2015. Though the lawyers confirmed that investigators were and are cautious in applying this law: in two years, there have been 15 cases, five convictions, and one forced hospitalization. All of these defendants were found guilty: three were given prison terms and one was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

            So what is so wrong with convicted citizens getting sentenced to prison?

            To understand the situation, perhaps, it stands to briefly recall the Russian Constitution, which guarantees the right to peoples’ self-determination (Article 5). The Constitution also includes an entire chapter on Federation (chapter 3). But there is one small detail: the Constitution only addresses the question of being admitting to the Russian Federation. There is not a single line about the possibility, or even the right, to secede from it.

            Well, then what about sovereignty? Yes, republics have a right to sovereignty, but in no way does this imply the right to secede from the Federation. This is the official explanation and interpretation of the constitutional provisions the Constitutional Court gave in the late 1990s and early 2000s (for example, the decision № 10-P of 7 June, 2000).

            We will not bore you with legalese like "contractual federation" or "constitutional federation." Put simply, the Constitutional Court’s positions are as follows: all subjects of the Russian Federation are inalienable and constitutive parts of the Federation and do not have the right to secede from the Russian Federation. The Constitutional Court made these rulings after the so-called "parade of sovereignties" and infamous events in the North Caucasus in the 1990s. It turns out that the subjects of the Russian Federation misinterpreted the term "sovereignty". In reality, the term had several different meanings that the subjects did not understand.

            One can argue over whether these findings are valid or not, but today the situation should be taken as a given, since the Constitutional Court is the only authority that has the right to officially interpret the Constitution’s provisions and its decisions cannot be appealed. Hence, the government’s official position is: it is possible to join the Russian Federation, but impossible to secede from it. All of this is clear in the words of the anthem “the age-old union of fraternal peoples,” or its Soviet equivalent “forever united.2 It seems like freedom, but is really an eternal union.

            The Politics of Separatism
            Increasingly, the word "separatism" has a negative, illegitimate meaning. In reality, separatism does not mean something prohibited and illegal in all cases. Separatism is a policy and practice based on peoples’ right to self-determination and secession in order to create a new state or become a part of another state.

            We can identify two main ways to realize secession: peaceful and violent. Currently, there are legal separatist political parties: there’s the Québécois Party in Canada and the Scottish National Party in Scotland. There have been official referendums on independence held in these countries: in Scotland, just recently, in 2014, and in Quebec in 1995.
            The most famous example of a violent solution to territorial issues was that of Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary organization whose goal was to achieve full independence for Northern Ireland (In 2005, the IRA leadership announced a transition to a political settlement of the conflict). It is likely that defined legal regulations in the West in regards to independence referendums are intended to limit such violence. This position is also held by the European Court of Human Rights. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which Russia plays an important role, shares this position as well. In particular, the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism (of June 15, 2001 and ratified by Russia in 2003) mentions criminal prosecution for separatism carried out exclusively through the use of force.

            Russian lawmakers introduced a new article into the Criminal Code prohibiting calls for the violation of territorial integrity in 2014. We will not speculate on the real motives of law’s authors or try to find a connection between these innovations and infamous events in Russia and Ukraine in spring of 2014. The draft amendments to the Criminal Code were developed and adopted in 2013, long before those events. Today this is not so important. What is more crucial is to understand how investigators and courts interpret and apply these laws, and even more importantly, against whom.

            There is another important detail. As we have said, the amendments to the Criminal Code went into effect on May 9, 2014, but after two and a half months (that is on July 21, 2014), revisions were adopted. The maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment was increased to four. Crimes that were initially treated as minor offenses were now more serious crimes.
            As a rule, amendments to sentencing in the Criminal Code occur in large blocks (that is of amendments to numerous laws pertaining to various categories of offenses simultaneously), but, in this case, amendments were introduced for this single article only, which is something that had never happened before. Why all the attention? It is very simple: the code practically prohibited sentencing for minor offenses and only then punished people mainly with probation, as opposed to real imprisonment. A “legitimate” reason is necessary to arrest and sentence someone to real time in prison.

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            • please delete

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              • How ‘separatists’ are prosecuted in Russia Independent lawyers on one of Russia’s most controversial statutes
                MEDUZA 12:11, 21 september 2016

                Russia’s Supreme Court is preparing a ruling to clarify one of the Russian Criminal Code’s most controversial statutes: Article 280.1 (on public calls to action for the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation). The article entered the Criminal Code in May 2014, and has, so far, been applied in 15 cases (the majority of which concern Crimea). In addition, there have been five convictions for statements on social networks and publications, in particular. Since this article has no precedence in Russian law, Meduza asked the head of the international human rights group Agora Pavel Chikov and its lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev for their thoughts.

                After the parade of sovereignties
                The issue of Russia’s territories has garnered a lot of discussion in recent years in terms of how and who can join the Federation and whether someone can leave. A consensus has formed in public opinion both on a measure of autonomy and a right to self-determination and – concurrently with the appearance of article 280.1 in the Criminal Code – about being held liable for calls to action to violate Russia’s territorial integrity.

                Article 280.1 went into effect on May 9, 2014, and a relevant case appeared almost immediately, with the first sentences being handed down in 2015. Though the lawyers confirmed that investigators were and are cautious in applying this law: in two years, there have been 15 cases, five convictions, and one forced hospitalization. All of these defendants were found guilty: three were given prison terms and one was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

                So what is so wrong with convicted citizens getting sentenced to prison?

                To understand the situation, perhaps, it stands to briefly recall the Russian Constitution, which guarantees the right to peoples’ self-determination (Article 5). The Constitution also includes an entire chapter on Federation (chapter 3). But there is one small detail: the Constitution only addresses the question of being admitting to the Russian Federation. There is not a single line about the possibility, or even the right, to secede from it.

                Well, then what about sovereignty? Yes, republics have a right to sovereignty, but in no way does this imply the right to secede from the Federation. This is the official explanation and interpretation of the constitutional provisions the Constitutional Court gave in the late 1990s and early 2000s (for example, the decision № 10-P of 7 June, 2000).

                We will not bore you with legalese like "contractual federation" or "constitutional federation." Put simply, the Constitutional Court’s positions are as follows: all subjects of the Russian Federation are inalienable and constitutive parts of the Federation and do not have the right to secede from the Russian Federation. The Constitutional Court made these rulings after the so-called "parade of sovereignties" and infamous events in the North Caucasus in the 1990s. It turns out that the subjects of the Russian Federation misinterpreted the term "sovereignty". In reality, the term had several different meanings that the subjects did not understand.

                One can argue over whether these findings are valid or not, but today the situation should be taken as a given, since the Constitutional Court is the only authority that has the right to officially interpret the Constitution’s provisions and its decisions cannot be appealed. Hence, the government’s official position is: it is possible to join the Russian Federation, but impossible to secede from it. All of this is clear in the words of the anthem “the age-old union of fraternal peoples,” or its Soviet equivalent “forever united.2 It seems like freedom, but is really an eternal union.

                The Politics of Separatism
                Increasingly, the word "separatism" has a negative, illegitimate meaning. In reality, separatism does not mean something prohibited and illegal in all cases. Separatism is a policy and practice based on peoples’ right to self-determination and secession in order to create a new state or become a part of another state.

                We can identify two main ways to realize secession: peaceful and violent. Currently, there are legal separatist political parties: there’s the Québécois Party in Canada and the Scottish National Party in Scotland. There have been official referendums on independence held in these countries: in Scotland, just recently, in 2014, and in Quebec in 1995.
                The most famous example of a violent solution to territorial issues was that of Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary organization whose goal was to achieve full independence for Northern Ireland (In 2005, the IRA leadership announced a transition to a political settlement of the conflict). It is likely that defined legal regulations in the West in regards to independence referendums are intended to limit such violence. This position is also held by the European Court of Human Rights. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which Russia plays an important role, shares this position as well. In particular, the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism (of June 15, 2001 and ratified by Russia in 2003) mentions criminal prosecution for separatism carried out exclusively through the use of force.

                Russian lawmakers introduced a new article into the Criminal Code prohibiting calls for the violation of territorial integrity in 2014. We will not speculate on the real motives of law’s authors or try to find a connection between these innovations and infamous events in Russia and Ukraine in spring of 2014. The draft amendments to the Criminal Code were developed and adopted in 2013, long before those events. Today this is not so important. What is more crucial is to understand how investigators and courts interpret and apply these laws, and even more importantly, against whom.

                There is another important detail. As we have said, the amendments to the Criminal Code went into effect on May 9, 2014, but after two and a half months (that is on July 21, 2014), revisions were adopted. The maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment was increased to four. Crimes that were initially treated as minor offenses were now more serious crimes.
                As a rule, amendments to sentencing in the Criminal Code occur in large blocks (that is of amendments to numerous laws pertaining to various categories of offenses simultaneously), but, in this case, amendments were introduced for this single article only, which is something that had never happened before. Why all the attention? It is very simple: the code practically prohibited sentencing for minor offenses and only then punished people mainly with probation, as opposed to real imprisonment. A “legitimate” reason is necessary to arrest and sentence someone to real time in prison.
                >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

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                • Separatists prosecuted in Russia Part 2

                  Provocative Statements
                  As of today, there have been 15 criminal cases tried on the basis of Article 280.1, all in the period of 2015-2016. According to official Supreme Court data, no one was sentenced under the article in 2014.

                  In 2015, sentences were handed to Rafis Kashapov, Yuri Avdoshkin, Darya Poliudova, Vladimir Zavarkin, Alexei Moroshkin, and Alexei Z. Kashapov pleaded innocent and he was sentenced to three years in a penal colony. Polyudova pleaded innocent and got two years in a settlement colony; Moroshkin was sent to compulsory mental treatment. Zavarkin pleaded innocent and was fined. Alexei Z. pleaded innocent and received probation. Criminal cases have been initiated and investigated against three more: leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement Refat Chubarov, Crimean businessman Lenur Islyamov, and Crimean journalist Anna Andriyevskaya.

                  In 2016, Alexei Bubeev pleaded innocent and was sentenced to two years and three months in a penal colony. Ilmi Umerov, Nikolai Semena, Vladimir Khagdaev, and Andrei Piontkovsky are currently being investigated under Article 280.1. Piontkovsky fled Russia, Umerov is in custody, and Semena and Khagdaev are under house arrest. In Kaliningrad, there also a case that the FSB initiated in August 2016.

                  The statements of the accused pertained to status of Crimea (eight cases), Karelia, Siberia, and the Urals, as well as a unified Mongolia, Chechnya, the Republic of Komi, the Kuban Region, and the Kaliningrad region.

                  The statistics are strange. Do only those who have threatened Russia’s integrity fall under Article 280.1? Why has one statute caused so much fuss? Who are these “villains” who call for Russia’s disintegration? Where are their weapons, recruits, plans to seize telephones, railway stations, etc.? Where are their calls to violence? In reality, there is no evidence of such menacing uses of force, nor the court actually need them, the lawyers say. Nothing but words are necessary for both prosecution and conviction. The numbers do not tell the whole story about these people and their dealings. Therefore, we focus on those who have already been convicted.

                  Avdoshkin, aka Yuri Stop, a known co-chairman of the nationalist organization "Northern Frontier" and the chairman of the group "Russians" in the Komi Republic, "acted on separatist sympathies deliberately kept texts on his computer that appealed to the public for the secession of the Komi Republic from the Russian Federation with the purpose of provoking an indefinite number of people to carry out illegal acts aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the state”. The court did not mention any calls for violence in its sentence. In reality, Avdoshkin had posted a comment to a certain article online. The defendant plead guilty and the court past judgement without examining the evidence.

                  Alex Bubeev, an electrical engineer from Tver with no prior convictions, a wife, and two young children, is an active Internet user. A Tver court found him guilty of posting another author's article titled "Crimea is Ukraine!” on his social network page. According to an expert from the FSB’s Institute of Criminology Center of Special Technology, Bubeev "had called on an anonymous group of persons . . . [to] violate the integrity of the Russian Federation." There was no incitement to violence or armed formation (the only appeal was to make banners) in the text. In March 2016, human rights activists from Memorial declared Budeev a political prisoner, noting that "the text’s tone may have been excessively abusive and aggressive, but that that is not a sufficient reason for persecution."

                  On May 20, 2015, there was a rally calling for the resignation of Alexander Khudilainen, the governor of Karelia in Petrozavodsk. Deputies from the Legislative Assembly were among the speakers. At the end of the rally, protesters appealed to the President with a request for the governor's resignation due to his involvement in worsening the region’s socio-economic situation and the supporting political repression. In response to the authorities’ inaction, deputy of the Council of the Suojärvi urban settlement Vladimir Zavarkin suggested in an emotional speech that a referendum be held on Karelia’s secession from Russia.

                  The basis for his sentence was the fact that "statements of a motivational character calling for the secession of the Republic of Karelia from the Russian Federation couched in ambiguous set of proposals" were identified in his speech.

                  A Petrovsk-Zabaikal City Court in the Zabaikal region sentenced local eighteen-year-old resident and follower of the Right Sector, an extremist organization banned in Russia, to prison for two and a half years. Prosecutors argued that he "deliberately created a group on a social network page in January 2015 and posted and endorsed a picture containing insults against Russians . . . and edited image with an inscription calling for violence against anyone who supports Crimea’s incorporation into Russia."

                  In the case of Rafis Kashapov, Tatarstan’s Naberezhnochelny City Court found that he had used "textual and visual materials … to form a negative attitude toward Russia’s actions in Crimea in 2014 . . . through claims about the "occupation" of Crimea and violations of international law. His allegations were too found to be aimed at violating of Russian Federation’s territorial integrity through the dissemination of ideas Russia’s “illegal” in “occupying” Crimea. The defendant and his lawyers argued that his criticisms of the Russian authorities’ actions were his opinion and that he was merely exercising his freedom of speech. No calls to commit violence were identified in Kashapov’s rhetoric.

                  The brothers Rafis and Nafis Kashapov are activists in the Tatar national movement. Nafis emigrated from Russia in 2005. Rafis Kashapov is the chairman of the Tatar Public Center and lives in Naberezhnye Chelny. In 2009, the latter was convicted under Section 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code for making a few blog posts against forced Russification and Christianization. In May 2015, Memorial declared the Kashapov brothers political prisoners.

                  Moroshkin, a resident of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and a native of Ukraine, was diagnosed, during the court’s investigation, with "chronic mental illness”. The court concluded that he was “unaware of the actual nature of his actions [when he distributed] printed materials.” In these materials, Moroshkin expressed his opinion on the current situation between Russia and Ukraine and on the need for political reform in Russia. He also spoke of the need to establish an an independent Ural State. In his opinion, Ukraine had fallen out of Russia’s political influence, so he proposed the creation of an independent state in the Urals in light of Ukraine’s experience. This position was the result of his religious beliefs, concluded the court, as, in 2012, he became the head of the Church of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite.

                  Moroshkin received involuntary psychiatric treatment in a mental hospital.

                  Daria Polyudova is civic activist and blogger from the Krasnodar Territory. The Court found that Polyudova had published texts on social networks (namely, Kuban: the ethnic Ukrainians of Kuban ask Ukraine and the world community to protect them from harassment and Russian chauvinism. Kuban requires reunification with Ukraine—its historic homeland!") that violated Section 2, Article 280.1 of the Russian Criminal Code. The court established that the motive for Polyudova’s crime was her hatred for the current political regime in the Russian Federation.

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                  • Separatists prosecuted in Russia Part 3

                    Territorial subjects in the Russian Federation have no right to withdraw their membership. Even if Russia recognizes the subject’s right to self-determination at the time of accession, the subjects will irrevocably lose these rights thereafter. It is illegal to even pose such questions on succession and one cannot hold referendums. It is illegal to speak and or to call for secession from the Federation, even by peaceful means. It is impossible to discuss, much less criticize (i. e. to question the legitimacy of decisions made by Russian authorities) or appeal a decision by a legislator or a head of state. Based on current practice, the actual degree of threat pose by a citizen’s actions or statements against Russian sovereignty does not actually matter. Nor does the question of whether the citizen has used or incited violence. The courts do not take freedom of speech into consideration.

                    Territorial disputes between states are some of the most pressing issues that concern various societies. Russian courts and law enforcement agencies are absolutely unnecessary when there is public and political debate on territorial issues from time to time, and people express a variety of views, even radical ones, in these discussions. The police and courts, of course, may not like the supporters of opposing views. However, such discussions are well within the scope of freedom of expression. However, the courts’ position on freedom of expression in regard to the particular issue of succession is very clearly reflected in its rulings.

                    Any citizen discussing any issue related to the loss of Russia’s territory risks criminal prosecution. But it is not all that bad. You can quite safely discuss issues about the incorporation of new territories without fear of being persecuted, at least not by Russian law enforcement officers. You can easily croon about “darling Alaska” and its future “return” to Russia.

                    The collection of signatues against giving China the Tarbarov and Big Ussuriisk Islands. Khabarovsk, October 2008.

                    So that is where things stand for ordinary citizens; Gods may do what cattle may not. In both international and Russian law there are such terms as delimitation, demarcation, rectification of borders, and so on. We will not go into legal technicalities. Anyway, procedures exist for certain territories to join neighboring countries, as opposed to Russia. This is not separatism.

                    Here are a few examples. In 2008, Russia gave China the Tarabarov island and part of Big Ussuriysk island. In 2010, Russia handed over the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea Shelf, an area of about 175 thousand square kilometers. Norway subsequently discovered natural gas deposits worth $30 billion in this territory. In 2009 and 2011, Azerbaijan received half of the Samut river in addition to three villages and three meadows. All these territorial issues have been resolved through bilateral agreements.

                    As you can see, the review and resolution of territorial disputes in Russia is contradictory and ambiguous, and Article 280.1 of the Russia Criminal Code does not correspond to the general principles of law.

                    Now the Plenum of Russia’s Supreme Court is preparing revisions to its rulings on judicial procedural procedures on extremist cases. We hope that the Plenum will clarify its position and will comply with the general principles of law. Any attempts to circumvent this issue will inevitably lead to complications and the need to bring this issue before the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice. In fact, the first complaint against this the Article (the Kashapov case) is already being reviewed by the European Court of Justice.

                    History shows that the highest national courts are the quickest and most effective way to fix judicial errors. There was a time when British courts also did not want to recognize such things are torture, violence, and murder in the actions of Irish Republican Army supporters. As a result, today the ECHR’s main policies are based on its decisions in those cases. I would not like for Russia to have to face such judgement, as well.

                    This text was translated from Russian by Sean Guillory. https://meduza.io/en/feature/2016/09...uted-in-russia

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                    • The Duma approves bill to deploy Russian air force unit to Syria indefinitely
                      Interfax
                      14:53, 7 october 2016

                      The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, unanimously approved a bill to indefinitely prolong the deployment of a specially-formed Russian air force unit in Syria. All 446 Duma members partook in voting.

                      The agreement was signed in August 2015, almost a month before the start of Russia's military campaign in Syria. August 9, 2016 it introduced to the State Duma, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

                      The agreement the Russian air force unit unlimited mobility in Syria and free use of the Hmeymim airfield in Lattakia.
                      Russia has been engaged in a military operation in Syria since September 30, 2015 at the request of the latter's President Bashar al-Assad. An international coalition under US leadership has repeatedly claimed that Russian planes attacked not only terrorist groups but also the armed opposition fighting against Assad and his regime.
                      In March 2016, Putin said the main body of Russian troops from Syria. Airstrikes have not ceased since that point.

                      https://meduza.io/en/news/2016/10/07...a-indefinitely

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                      • Putin fires ten interior ministry generals
                        Official website of the state system for legal information
                        12:14, 7 october 2016

                        Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday dismissing ten interior ministry generals. The document was published on the official state web portal for legal information.

                        According to news agency TASS, the Interior Ministry said that all of the generals, with the exception of one, ha supervised entities which have now been transferred to Russia's National Guard, Rosgvardiya.

                        Rosgvardiya was established by the decree of Vladimir Putin in April 2016 to fight terrorism and organized crime. The agency is composed of Interior Ministry troops, riot police, SWAT teams, and personal security personnel.

                        Putin appointed the former head of the Russian President's personal security service Viktor Zolotov to lead the National Guard. Previously, Zolotov was in charge of Russia's Interior Military Forces.

                        The National Guard will number some 350,000 to 400,000 troops, reported news agency Interfax in April 2016.

                        In mid-September 2016, it was reported that 163,000 police officers who were rendered redundant when Russian President Putin signed a degree reducing the maximum number of law enforcement officials to 904,881 individuals would be transferred to the country's National Guard.
                        https://meduza.io/en/news/2016/10/07...istry-generals

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                        • In September, Russia complained to UN about criticism of Trump
                          UAWIRE ORG October 9, 2016 1:24:25 PM

                          In September, Russia submitted a formal complaint to the United Nations in connection with the remarks regarding the US presidential candidate Donald Trump, as well as leading politicians of some European countries. This was announced on Friday, October 7th.

                          According to Russian representatives, these remarks were made by some senior officials of the United Nations. The complaint emphasizes an "extraordinary relationship between the candidate of the Republican Party and the Kremlin,” the Associated Press points out. However, there is no evidence that Trump addressed Russia for support or that he even knows about these remarks.

                          Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, said that he had filed the complaint to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in connection with the critical remarks towards Trump by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein.

                          Diplomats familiar with the details of the conversation between Churkin and Ban Ki-moon revealed that Churkin protested against the statements of Al-Hussein in which he denounced the "demagogues" and, in particular, criticized Trump and some European populist leaders.

                          "Prince Zeid occasionally crosses the boundaries and we are not happy about it,” Churkin said on Friday. "He criticized some leaders of states and governments. He would be better served to focus on his work, which is very important,” the Russian diplomat added.

                          At the same time the Kremlin officially stated that they did not support any official stance points regarding the presidential elections in the United States. Trump's campaign headquarters issued no comments regarding Russia’s complaint. UAWire - In September, Russia complained to UN about criticism of Trump

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                          • German Foreign Minister fears last vestiges of trust between US and Russia will be lost
                            UAWIRE ORG October 9, 2016 2:27:25 PM

                            Frank Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview with Bild on October 8th that today’s tension between the USA and Russia is worse than it was during the Cold War, and that it is destroying the last vestiges of trust between the two largest countries in the world.

                            "The number of reasons for conflict between Russia and the United States is growing. It seems that even the last trust is fading. If it goes on this way, we will be back in the days of confrontation between the two largest countries,” he said.

                            The head of the German Foreign Ministry is sure that Cold War times cannot compare with the current situation. "What is happening now is even more dangerous. In the past, the world was divided into two parts but both Moscow and Washington knew where the breaking points were and used to respect them. But recent regional conflicts and the continual reduction of major countries’ influence are making the world much more unpredictable for politicians,” Steinmeier believes.

                            The German Foreign Minister called on the USA and Russia to continue the dialogue and joint efforts to end the hostilities in Syria. The first step towards this, he said, should be the delivery of humanitarian aid and medicine to the residents of the besieged city of Aleppo. UAWire - German Foreign Minister fears last vestiges of trust between US and Russia will be lost

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                            • Separatist commander shot in so-called Luhansk People's Republic
                              UAWIRE ORG October 9, 2016 4:45:00 PM

                              The Separatist Commander, Armen Bagiryan, and several of his subordinates were shot in Slovianoserbsk, as reported by journalist Galina Sozanchuk. “The Militias’ Commander and his men were not killed in the fight at the front line and their vehicle didn’t strike a land mine. They were killed in the territory which is under our control,” Sozanchuk wrote on her Facebook page.

                              Galina Sozanchuk also noted that Bagiryan had deleted photographs taken in the Donbas from all his social media pages shortly before his death. Armen Bagiryan also reported that he has kept his service in the Armed Forces of the Luhansk People’s Republic from his relatives. Since 2015, the Russian citizen, Bagiryan, was the Head of the unrecognized Administration of Slovianoserbsk, Ukrainian media reported.

                              As previously reported, separatists, including Bagiryan, demanded money for unimpeded transportation of food products via the Siverskyi Donets near Slovianoserbsk.

                              Russian authorities have repeatedly stated that the Russian Federation isn’t a party to the Ukrainian conflict and its servicemen don’t participate in the fight in eastern Ukraine. UAWire - Separatist commander shot in so-called Luhansk People's Republic

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                              • Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the transfer of Iskander missile systems to Kaliningrad
                                UAWIRE ORG October 9, 2016 11:16:54 AM

                                The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the deployment of Iskander missile systems to Kaliningrad region. According to TASS news agency the statement was made by the official representative from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Igor Konashenkov.

                                Previously, this transfer was reported by Western media, including references to US intelligence.

                                The general said that the Defense Ministry did not make the transfer of Iskanders a secret. “Nobody made a big secret out of the transportation of the complex by the dry-cargo freighter Ambal. I will tell you more; before loading it in the Ambal freighter, one Iskander was specially put in the open under the trajectory of the American reconnaissance satellite , so that we could determine the accuracy of this spacecraft,” the general said.

                                “We did not have to wait long. American partners in ‘a revelatory fit’ confirmed everything for us themselves,” he added.

                                The official representative from the Ministry of Defense said that the Russian military had previously transferred operational-tactical Iskander missile complexes to the Kaliningrad region and will do so in the future as part of the military training.

                                “The operative-tactical missile complex Iskander is mobile. As part of the combat training plan, units of missile troops are conducting year-round marching training, overcoming great distances on the territory of the Russian Federation in various ways: by air, sea and on their own,” the general stated.

                                “The Kaliningrad region is not an exception, where these units of missile troops were transferred several times and will be transferred within the framework of combat training of the Armed Forces,” he added.

                                Iskander is designated for the destruction of targets such as missile complexes, multiple rocket launchers and long-range artillery, aircraft and helicopters at airfields, command posts and communications centers. The Iskander-M modification has a range of up to 500 km. UAWire - Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the transfer of Iskander missile systems to Kaliningrad

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