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  • US Senate considers resolution to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons
    UAWIRE ORG March 30, 2017 12:15:00 PM

    A resolution was introduced in the U.S. Senate in connection with the third anniversary of the annexation of the Crimea, calling for the maintenance of sanctions against the Russian Federation and the provision of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.

    According to the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, the draft resolution "Condemning illegal Russian aggression in Ukraine on the three year anniversary of the annexation of Crimea" was introduced by Senators Robert Portman and Sherrod Brown, Co-Chair and Vice-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus.

    Almost twenty senators from the Republican and Democratic parties acted as co-authors of the resolution.

    The resolution follows the three-year anniversary of Russia’s attempt to illegally annex the Crimea and considers the illegal Russian military occupation of the Crimean region of Ukraine an affront to international norms, an unprovoked aggression, and a threat to regional stability.

    "Consequently, the U.S. Senate reaffirms the commitment of the United States to the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances and reiterates that it is the policy of the United States not to recognize the de jure or de facto sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea, its airspace, or its territorial waters," the Embassy said.

    The Senators also advocate for further support for Ukraine, including strengthening economic sanctions against the Russian Federation, providing defensive lethal assistance to Ukraine, supporting democracy, and providing humanitarian assistance as authorized by the U.S. Congress. UAWire - US Senate considers resolution to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons

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    • Sudden movement - Aleksei Navalny brings Russia’s opposition back to life
      Anti-corruption protests herald a new generation of political activism
      THE ECONOMIST MOSCOW Apr 1st 2017

      NOBODY inside or outside Russia saw it coming. The government seemed to have established complete control over politics, marginalising the opposition with nationalist adventures in Ukraine and Syria. Vladimir Putin’s approval rating had stabilised at more than 80%. After Donald Trump’s victory in America, the Kremlin had proclaimed the threat of global liberalism to be over. And yet on March 26th, 17 years to the day after Mr Putin was first elected, tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in nearly 100 cities to demonstrate against corruption, in the largest protests since 2012.

      The protests began in Vladivostok and rolled across the country to Moscow and St Petersburg, which saw the largest crowds. Riot police arrested more than 1,000 people in Moscow alone. The state media ignored the demonstrations; the top Russian search engine, Yandex, manipulated its results to push reports of them down the page. The Kremlin was speechless.

      The marches came in response to a call from Aleksei Navalny, an opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner who wants to run for president next year. Despite the government’s crackdown on activism, Mr Navalny has doggedly continued publishing exposés of corruption on social networks and YouTube, and expanding his volunteer organisation. His latest target is Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister. On March 2nd Mr Navalny released a film alleging that Mr Medvedev had used charities and shell companies to amass a collection of mansions, yachts and other luxuries. The video has been watched 15m times on the internet.

      The decision to target Mr Medvedev was strategic. Whereas Mr Putin is praised for restoring Russia’s geopolitical power, Mr Medvedev is seen as weak and held responsible for Russia’s economic woes. He is often ridiculed for his taste for Western gadgets and frequent gaffes. (“We have no money, but you hang in there,” he told pensioners in Crimea last year.) He is equally disliked by security-service hardliners, such as Igor Sechin, Mr Putin’s closest confidant, and by moderate technocrats such as Aleksei Kudrin, a former finance minister. Yet the protests were not restricted to Mr Medvedev. Denis Lugovskoi, an engineering student who demonstrated in Orel, 325km (200 miles) south of Moscow, says they were aimed at the whole political elite.

      Although the crowds were thinner than those in Moscow in 2011-12, they were in some respects more alarming for the Kremlin. The protests of five years ago, sparked by rigged parliamentary elections, were largely confined to Moscow and St Petersburg, and deliberately lacked unified leadership; the educated, urbane protesters considered this a sign of political maturity. Now both demography and geography are much broader. Protests took place in industrial towns in the heartland, such as Nizhny Tagil and Chelyabinsk, and in poorer cities such as Nizhny Novgorod. Meanwhile, Mr Navalny has become the movement’s clear leader. On March 27th a court sentenced him to 15 days in jail for organising an unauthorised demonstration

      The crowds also reflected a generational shift. Whereas the protests in 2011-12 had a middle-aged core, the rallies on March 26th were filled with people in their teens and 20s with few memories of their country before Mr Putin. With their diverse class backgrounds, the Kremlin cannot portray them as spoiled city hipsters or pitch them against blue-collar workers, as it did with the protesters five years ago. Unlike the 30-somethings who took to the streets back then, these younger protesters have little to lose.

      When the feeling’s gone
      With the economy in trouble, the patriotic buzz of Mr Putin’s military exploits is fading. Denis Volkov of the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, writes that for most Russians, the annexation of Crimea “has lost its relevance”. The Kremlin, which successfully suppressed the protests five years ago, has fewer tools at its disposal. Arresting or beating up teenage demonstrators would risk bringing their parents onto the streets. And one of the Kremlin’s chief ideological weapons, the fear of returning to the chaos of the 1990s, is lost on a generation that has no memory of it. Another favourite concept, Russia’s resurgence to great-power status, is also of limited use: most of the protesters take it for granted.

      A group of anthropologists from the Russian Presidential Academy who have studied attitudes among young people say they lack the fear of authority instilled during the Soviet era, and are more attached than their elders to universal values such as honesty and dignity. The Soviet coping mechanisms of cynicism and double-think are notably absent among the young. They see Russia’s current elite as financially and morally corrupt, and find Mr Navalny’s simple slogan, “Don’t lie and don’t steal”, compelling.

      Television, the medium which Mr Putin’s government uses to manipulate mass opinion, has little effect on the young, who mainly get their news from the internet. The power of the regime’s use of television relies on the majority of Russians choosing to be passive spectators of the political narratives which the government creates for them. According to the Levada Centre, most Russians believe that “nothing depends on us.” The younger generation appears to be different. “I need to exercise my civil rights if I don’t want to live my life complaining about the country in which I was born,” says a 20-year-old student in Moscow. “It is wrong to say that ‘nothing depends on us.’ Of course it does.”|eur

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      • Reform to deoligarchize Ukrainian politics reaps first results
        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Olena Makarenko 2017/03/31

        President Petro Poroshenko stated that the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine would only benefit the Kremlin and will not happen. But the president’s fear of a snap election may be also caused by the falling ratings of his Bloc party. The growing polling numbers of the other political forces led to intensified discussions on the necessity of electing a new parliament. However, no matter whether a party is interested in new polls or not, it is always ready to promote itself. The revealed budgets show that Ukrainian parties spent a big share of their state allocated funds for this reason.

        The Ukrainian political scene for many years has been a playground for Ukrainian oligarchs securing political influence through financing political parties, which in their turn guarded the profits of the oligarchs. With platforms that hardly represented any real ideological divide, legal electoral loopholes, and victories secured by vicious populism, year after year the same faces crafted laws in the interests of their shadowy benefactors.

        The promising Law on Prevention and Counteraction to Political Corruption which was called to end the oligarch-controlled politicians rule of the country came into force over six months ago. Called to put an end to the oligarch-political tandem, its first positive result is the increased transparency of parties’ budgets. However, it also now apparent that Ukrainian politicians don’t consider other ways of being known and trusted except through advertising.

        Those that drafted the law say that it has been a successful experiment but the legislation should now be supplemented. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and the drawbacks of this experiment, presented at.
        The parties overwhelmingly spend on self-promotion

        In 2016 state funding was provided to parties represented in parliament proportionate to their results in the last elections (in 2014). Last year the state allocated UAH 191 mn ($ 7 mn) to political parties. However, the Opposition Bloc (the successor of the party of the runaway tyrant president Viktor Yanukovych) refused them and Batkivshchyna did not receive the state funding in the 3rd quarter because it did not manage to prepare the necessary documents, so 162.7 mn ($ 6 mn) was actually distributed to parties last year.

        As the reports revealed, UAH 63.4 mn ($2.3 mn) or 39% of their allocated funds were spent on different kinds of self-promotion. In comparison, only UAH 10.6 mn ($393,000), or just 7%, was spent on the rent of premises and only UAH 9.9 mn ($367,000), or 6%, on salaries.

        Poroshenko’s Bloc, the party with the biggest share of representatives in parliament, spent UAH 18.8 mn ($697,000) on propaganda activities. Further details were not provided.

        The second biggest party Narodnyi Front leads in propaganda expenditure – UAH 33 mn ($1,2 mn). The largest portion of this sum going on TV advertisements, with the rest spent radio and printed press.The Samopomich party spent UAH 17.6 mn ($652,000) of their state funds on their newspaper.

        The Committee of Voters of Ukraine, the NGO which analyzed the expenditures, has pointed out that this newspaper has suspiciously enormous circulation — 6.5 mn copies, and despite the fact that the newspaper is distributed across Ukraine, it covers mostly local problems. For example, a number of issues were devoted to the rubbish blockade in Lviv, a problem which was harmful for the Lviv’s mayor Andriy Sadoviy, who is also the head of Samopomich. The Radical Party of Oleh Liashko spent more than UAH 5 mn ($185,000) on branded products – calendars, T-Shirts, jackets, notebooks etc. All the parties justified these large expenditures on promoting themselves saying they had only a short period to spend the provided money. Parties received the state funds for the third quarter only a few days until before it ended, so in the fourth quarter they had to spend money for six months. “So we started to think quickly how to master it. If we had not spent the money it would be returned to the state’s budget, and we would be criticized for not coping with it. On the other hand we would be criticized for the way we spent it,” said Maksim Savrasov, the representative of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko at a Forum called “Financial evolution of Ukrainian parties: Reform or Imitation?”.Whether these enormous expenditures are one off or shall be repeated, they need to be regulated by law.

        “We can’t forbid political advertisement at all, because the advertisement is what helps media to survive,” said Viktoria Syumar, an MP from Narodnyi Front and an initiator of the law on political corruption. However, she believes there must be a maximum threshold for the amount to be spent on political advertising. Syumar also thinks the contents of political advertising needs to be changed: “The “The TV ads should show not grannies who make you want to cry, but politicians telling you about their activities.”

        The bill which should define what the parties can use the state funds for is already registered in the parliament and it’s likely that it will pass. The bill forbids spending state funds on party promotion.

        The success and points for improvement

        Weak points

        Despite receiving funds from the state, shadow financing of the parties still exists. For example, Narodnyi Front did not mention any centers of the party in regions which would have the status of an entity. Also there was no any mentions of the centers of Radical Party of Oleg Liashko in the third quarter.

        The way the parties were allocating money to the regional centers is not transparent. They either gave the majority to the center office, or divided it disproportionately between regions.

        “For example, there are two neighboring oblasts. One receives 300,000, another gets a million. The number of the members of the party is approximately equal, the elections results are also almost equal,” said Viktor Taran, the head of the anti corruption NGO Eidos.

        One of the biggest problems is that contributions are done by anonymous persons,” says Syumar. She explained that in financial reports the information about the sponsors is absent or partially present.

        Another example of the lack of transparency is that parties exceed the maximum possible allowable contribution from one person, as well as parties not spending money on disseminating their policy, analysis, or teaching their members.

        So far there is no serious punishments for the violating the legislation despite the risk of harming a party’s reputation.


        Still, the legislation has made parties make huge steps towards transparency. For the first time society has received access to information on parties’ finances. Before it came into force, it was impossible for society to see even a 15 page report on this.

        “Now financial reports of parties consist of 200-250 pages. For the parties which are not represented in the parliament it is about 100 pages,” said Taran.

        He also emphasized that introducing state funding has proved that parties can survive without oligarchs money and that will be the next step of the reform.

        Among other positive changes is that parties started to develop their regional networks.

        “The accountability reform did take place. This is the main success of this law,” concludes Taran.
        Financing for 2017

        In 2017 the state will allocate UAH 442.4 mn ($16.4 mn) for the statutory activities of the parties:

        Narodnyi Front
        UAH 113.7 mn ($4.2 mn)
        Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc
        UAH 112.1 mn ($4.1 mn)
        UAH 56.4 mn ($2 mn)
        Opposition Bloc
        UAH 48.5 mn ($1.7 mn)
        Radical Party of Oleh Liashko
        UAH 38.3 mn ($1.4 mn)
        UAH 29.2 mn ($1 mn)

        Also Samopomich will receive additional UAH 44.2 mn ($1.6 mn) as a bonus for adherence to gender quotas during the previous election. Gender quota bonuses are received by parties

        whose electoral lists feature at least one woman for every three candidates.

        According to Ukrainian media sources, this year the Opposition Bloc fulfilled the requirements for eligibility for state funding and has received funding for the first quarter.

        The first half-year of the law’s implementation showed that Ukrainian politicians still feed citizens with slogans and promises but don’t provide real strategies or show
        intentions to implement them.

        Those who invest more in self promotion usually win the competition for people’s trust, which translates into votes. Nevertheless, the new rules introduced make it much harder for the parties to stick to the old order. Now they have to take into consideration that the society’s oversight does matter. The new legislation is the first big step towards the financial independence of Ukraine’s political parties, previously an instrument of oligarchs. Reform to deoligarchize Ukrainian politics reaps first results -Euromaidan Press |

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        • The Daily Vertical: What Will Be Putin's New 'Crimea Drug'?
          Brian Whitmore 3/31/3017
          The Daily Vertical: What Will Be Putin's New 'Crimea Drug'?

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          • Cargo Vessels Evade Detection, Raising Fears of Huge Trafficking Operations
            VOICE OF AMERICA Henry Ridgwell March 31, 2017

            LONDON —

            Hundreds of ships are switching off their tracking devices and taking unexplained routes, raising concern the trafficking of arms, migrants and drugs is going undetected.

            Ninety percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea. Every vessel has an identification number administered by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization or IMO. But crews are able to change the digital identity of their ship, making it possible to conceal previous journeys.

            The Israeli firm Windward has developed software to track the changes. Its CEO, Ami Daniel, showed VOA several examples of suspicious shipping activity, including one vessel that changed its entire identity in the middle of a voyage from a Chinese port to North Korea.


            “It’s intentionally changing all of identification numbers. Also its name, and its size, and its flag and its owner. Everything that’s recognizable in its digital footprint. This is obviously someone who is trying to circumvent sanctions [on North Korea],” says Daniel.

            Transfers at sea

            In a joint investigation with the Times of London newspaper, Windward showed that in January and February more than 1,000 cargo transfers took place at sea. Security experts fear traffickers are transporting drugs, weapons, and even people.

            Suspicious activity can be highlighted by comparing a vessel’s journey with all its previous voyages. In mid-January a Cyprus-flagged ship designed to carry fish deviated from its usual route between West Africa and northern Europe to visit Ukraine, deactivating its tracking system on several occasions.


            “It’s leaving Ukraine, transiting all through the Bosphorus Straits into Europe, then drifting off Malta,” explains Daniel, as the Windward system plots the route of the reefer [refrigerated] vessel on the screen. “On the way it turns off transmission a few times ... then it comes into this place east of Gibraltar. This area is known for ship-to-ship transfers and smuggling, because of the proximity to North Africa.”

            Under global regulations all vessels must report their last port of call when arriving in a new port.

            “But as you can understand, when it does ship-to-ship transfers here, it doesn’t actually call into any port, right, because it’s the middle of the ocean. So it’s finding a way to bypass what it already has to report to the authorities,” Daniel said.

            Finally the vessel sails to a remote Scottish island called Islay, but again it anchors around 400 meters off a tiny deserted bay. The specific purpose of this voyage hasn’t yet been identified.

            Lack of political will

            Daniel shows another example of a vessel leaving the Libyan port of Tobruk before drifting just off the Greek island of Crete, raising suspicions that it is involved in people smuggling.

            But he says using information like this to investigate suspicious shipping activities requires political will as well as technological advances.

            “Regulation, coordination, legislation. And then proof in the court of law. And not all of this necessarily exists. The high seas, which means 200 nautical miles onwards by definition, are not regulated right now. The U.N. is still working on it.”

            Meanwhile the scale of smuggling around the United States’ coastline was underlined this month, as the Coast Guard intercepted 660 kilos of cocaine off the coast of Florida, with a street value of an estimated $420 million. Cargo Vessels Evade Detection, Raising Fears of Huge Trafficking Operations

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            • StopFakeNews #125 [ENG] with Brian Bonner
              March 27, 2017 - 10:18 News, Videos

              The latest edition of StopFake News with Kyiv Post chief editor Brian Bonner. This week’s fakes include claims that Kyiv sanctions against Russian banks will worsen Ukraine’s investment climate, visa free travel to the EU will flood Europe with Ukrainian radicals and prostitutes, the Kremlin competes to outperform itself in cynicism about Eurovision and more in this week’s StopFake digest.
              StopFakeNews #125 [ENG] with Brian Bonner

              Sorry, ‘Experts,’ but Ukraine Has Not Yet Died: An Investigation
              March 30, 2017 - 20:33 News, Opinions
              STOPFAKE Jim Kovpak

              Since 2014, Ukraine has been one of the Russian state media’s favorite topics. So much so, that the major state-run networks will sometimes totally ignore major events in Russia to cover run-of-the-mill stories in Ukraine. The most recent example was last Sunday, when news presenter and Rossiya Segodnya chief Dmitry Kiselyov told viewers about rampant corruption in Ukraine while ignoring mass anti-corruption protests which had taken place in over 80 Russian cities that very day.

              The themes have been repeated endlessly since 2014- Ukraine has totally collapsed and is a failed state. Ukraine is on the point of collapse, starvation, and freezing due to lack of fuel for the winter. Ukraine is a puppet of the US. So shrill are Russia’s pundits and commentators, they often neglect to notice the stark contradiction between their claims. If Ukraine supposedly became a failed state in 2014, how could it have been in danger of becoming a failed state multiple times since then? And if Ukraine is a puppet state of the West and the EU, why would it be failing? The Cold War is filled with examples of Western-backed puppet state which were deliberately propped up with arms and aid to make sure that they could resist Communist influence. Oddly enough, the Kremlin and its supporters abroad are convinced that the West is manipulating Ukraine as part of a NATO conspiracy against Russia, yet at the same time they’re sure those same Western conspirators are allowing their alleged puppet state to fail and fall to pieces.

              While we’d expect such nonsense from Kiselyov’s Sunday news program and the other usual suspects such as Sputnik and RT, recently even TASS got in on the Ukraine doomsayer routine. Sorry, ‘Experts,’ but Ukraine Has Not Yet Died: An Investigation

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              • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 31.03.2017
                New financial restructuring procedure to be launched in Ukraine on April 3

                The administrative secretariat that would manage the financial restructuring system and be responsible for processing individual restructuring cases will start working on April 3, a member of the supervisory board for financial restructuring Olha Bilay said at a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday.

                She said that starting this day borrowers can submit applications for restructuring. Next day after receiving the applications the secretariat is to check if the documents meet some provisions of the law on financial restructuring and is to decide on launching the restructuring procedure. On the same day the secretariat is to publish the relevant information on its website.

                "I know that there are borrowers interested [in the launch of financial restructuring]. One cannot say that there are many of them. Most of them want to wait a month or two and see how the procedure will pass. Nevertheless, now, during the first month the secretariat would have a lot of work," she said.

                According to a press release of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the financial and logistical support for the operations of the secretariat is provided by the Independent Association of Banks of Ukraine (NABU) and the EBRD. The framework and implementing institutions are governed by a supervisory board which will include representatives of the National Bank of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine as well as the state-owned banks Oschadbank and Ukrgasbank.

                Along with the secretariat, an arbitration committee will manage any disputes between parties through the appointment of an independent and qualified arbitrator selected from an officially approved list.

                "The framework, introduced by the Law on Financial Restructuring in late 2016, is designed to improve the portfolios of financial institutions by making them more sustainable and competitive. It is also expected to contribute to the quality of customer relations between banks and corporate borrowers," the bank said in the press release.

                "This truly revolutionary procedure is designed to address the issue of NPLs [non-performing loans] in Ukraine, which rank among the highest in Europe. It provides a much-needed out-of-court loan restructuring mechanism for market participants and will help to preserve jobs as well as restore viable businesses," Francis Malige, EBRD Managing Director for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, said.

                Head of NABU Council Roman Shpek said that at present over 26% of loans are NPLs, amounting to over UAH 270 billion.

                "We do not think that this procedure would be a cure-all solution, but we would like that one third of the total NPL portfolio used it," he said.

                The procedure is voluntary. The framework agreement regulating the rules and principles of cooperation of the sides during negotiations does not contain any liabilities on the conditions of restructuring of concrete borrowers.

                Bilay said that at present three banks have joined the framework agreement: two state-run banks and the Individuals Deposit Guarantee Fund, and one financial institution.
                New financial restructuring procedure to be launched in Ukraine on April 3

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                • That time when the Soviet Union tried to join NATO in 1954
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2017/03/31


                  Sixty-three years ago, the USSR attempted to apply for the membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

                  How did the Alliance meet this idea, and why was it never accepted?

                  On 31 March 1954, the Soviet Foreign Ministry sent identical notes regarding the possibility of joining NATO to the governments of the three Western powers: France, Great Britain, and the United States.
                  By the time, a year had passed since the death of Stalin; Nikita Khrushchev was the new communist boss. NATO itself was five-year-old, the same as the Soviet atomic bomb.

                  In those notes, Moscow insisted that the North Atlantic Treaty in the present form was certainly an “aggressive pact” but its nature could change if the USSR, the principal member of the former Anti-Hitler coalition, joined it. The Soviets also expressed their hope that the great powers would not allow the participation of Germany (its division into the two states was not seen as irrevocable) in any military bloc.

                  On April 7, Moscow’s proposal was discussed at the session of the North Atlantic Council in Paris. The minutes of that meeting has been declassified and is available online on the NATO Archives website. The members of the Alliance interpreted the proposal as a Soviet propaganda step targeted primarily at the Western public opinion. To them, it looked implausible that the Kremlin would accept the requirements of NATO, primarily,

                  --the comprehensive control over its military planning and
                  --securing democratic rights and freedoms in the USSR and the countries within its current area of influence.

                  Discussion of the Soviet proposal. Minutes of the meeting on 7 April 1954. Source:

                  During the discussion in Paris, the Danish representative emphasized that the very establishment of NATO was a response to the failure of the United Nations to ensure effective collective security in the years following World War II. Everyone certainly bore in mind the Korean War of 1950—53, when the USSR and China confronted Western powers. The Kremlin, he maintained, contributed to this failure by its abuse of veto in the UN Security Council.

                  The delegates of other member states supported this view. The representative of Italy warned that since the decisions of NATO collective bodies must be unanimous, the Soviet Union could have used veto to paralyze this organization alike and, hence, the Alliance would have become just as ineffective as the UN. The participants of the session also criticized Moscow’s attempt to thrust the non-participation of West Germany in the European defense initiatives.

                  In a few weeks, the American, British, and French governments officially responded to the Soviet proposal, which they called “completely unreal.” NATO, their joint note stressed, was based on the principles of individual liberty and the rule of law, and its effective institutions could not be replaced with “illusory” ones. The three states urged the Soviet Union not to prevent the UN from exercising its global security functions in accordance with its Statute.

                  Post-WWII Europe divided by Iron Curtain into the military and political blocs. Communist Yugoslavia (green), which defied Moscow’s leadership, did not join the Warsaw Pact, and Albania left it in 1968. Spain joined NATO in 1982, after the transition from Francoist dictatorship to democracy.

                  While the Soviet Union was denied the entry into NATO, the Federal Republic of Germany, which had undergone the process of denazification, received the invitation in the coming months. On 5 May 1955, the West German Bundestag ratified the North Atlantic Treaty.

                  Only nine days later, the USSR and its seven Central and East European satellites announced the formation of their own military alliance, the Warsaw Pact (which allowed the presence of the Soviet armed forces in those countries and made possible the military intervention of the Kremlin, as it would happen to Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968). This completed the split of Europe into the two confronting blocs, which would last until 1990.
                  That time when the Soviet Union tried to join NATO in 1954 -Euromaidan Press |

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                  • US Escalates Criticism of Russia Over Ukraine, Vows Sanctions to Stay
                    VOICE OF AMERICA Michael Lipin & Guita Aryan April 01, 2017 1:57 AM

                    WASHINGTON —

                    The Trump administration escalated its criticism of Moscow Friday, with two of its most senior officials denouncing Russia’s treatment of Ukraine and reiterating a vow to maintain U.S. sanctions.

                    In his first visit to a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Russia of “aggression” in Ukraine and told his counterparts that their alliance is “fundamental to countering both nonviolent, but at times violent, Russian agitation” in the region.

                    He also said U.S. sanctions against Moscow will remain in effect until it “reverses the actions” that triggered them. Washington imposed the sanctions in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and expanded them after Moscow began providing military aid to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

                    Tillerson’s previous language on Russia had been more conciliatory. After his first meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a Group of 20 major economies meeting in Bonn in February, Tillerson said the U.S. wants to find “new common ground” with Russia and “expects” it to honor commitments to de-escalate violence in Ukraine as part of the 2015 Minsk agreement.

                    U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, whose role is subordinate to Tillerson, similarly criticized Russian “aggression” and vowed to keep U.S. sanctions in place in remarks to the U.N. Security Council February 2.

                    U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also fired a verbal attack at Russia Friday. Echoing language he used in February, Mattis told reporters in London that Russian “violations” of international law are now a “matter of record — from what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behavior in mucking around inside other people’s elections” — a likely reference to U.S. allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

                    Senior Russian lawmaker Alexey Pushkov was not amused by the U.S. verbal assaults. In a Friday tweet, he said the new U.S. administration “sounds like the old one — Mattis is indistinguishable from (former Defense Secretary Ash) Carter, Tillerson is talking about ‘Russian aggression.’ (Barack) Obama and (Hillary) Clinton must be happy.”

                    But NATO’s previous secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told VOA Persian that he believes the Trump administration should go further. After speaking at a Hudson Institute forum in Washington Thursday, Rasmussen said the U.S. should “strengthen” its sanctions in response to what he called Russia’s continued destabilization of eastern Ukraine.

                    Tillerson and Mattis made no reference in their new remarks to Russia’s plans for more weapons sales to Iran, a nation the Trump administration has warned against threatening the U.S. or its Middle East allies.

                    A Russian lawmaker who heads the upper house of parliament’s defense and security committee, Viktor Ozerov, visited Iran last November and told reporters that Tehran was in talks to buy $10 billion worth of Russian military hardware. Ozerov said any Russian deliveries of conventional weapons to Iran likely will have to wait until 2020 when U.N. restrictions on arms sales to Tehran expire.

                    Moscow had taken a major step to boost military cooperation with Tehran before Ozerov’s announcement, delivering an S-300 advanced air defense system to Iran last year.

                    U.S. officials responded to the Russian-Iranian weapons talks with alarm, according to The Washington Free Beacon news site. It quoted State Department officials as saying they had long been working behind the scenes to persuade Moscow not to sell weapons to Iran.

                    Former NATO deputy secretary general Alexander Vershbow, who also spoke at Thursday’s Washington forum, told VOA Persian he does not think U.S. sanctions alone can stop Russia from arming Iran.

                    “To be effective, the U.S. would have to adopt a unified sanctions approach with Europe,” Vershbow said. “While some sanctions imposed on Russia because of Ukraine may cover the Russian defense as well as financial sectors, targeting additional sanctions against Moscow specifically because of Iran may not be an easy issue for agreement with Europe, given its desire not to harm the Iran nuclear deal.”

                    Iran agreed to curb activities that could produce nuclear weapons as part of a 2015 deal with world powers, who agreed to ease sanctions against Tehran in return. US Escalates Criticism of Russia Over Ukraine, Vows Sanctions to Stay

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                    • Putin is ‘a criminal but not Stalin’ and other neglected Russian stories
                      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2017/04/01

                      A defaced Putin billboard in Sevastopol, a naval base on the southern tip of the Russia-occupied Crimean Peninsula, March 2017 (Image: social media)

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

                      Consequently, Windows on Eurasia typically presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This week, it offers almost a double – 25 stories from Russia and 12 from countries in Russia’s neighborhood because of the extent to which the Navalny demonstrations eclipsed other news.

                      This is the 76th such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, once again, one could easily have put out such a listing every day — but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove to be bellwethers of the future or of broader interest now.

                      1. Putin is ‘an Autocrat but Not a Tsar’ and ‘a Criminal but Not Stalin’
                      Russian commentators continue to try to define the Kremlin leader with these two characterizations having been offered in the last week.

                      This week, Putin attracted attention for his visit to the Arctic where he announced some grandiose plans even as he cast doubt on the human origins of climate change. Many found Putin’s words unpersuasive given first that he earlier promised to expand protected areas in the Arctic but in fact has cut them, second that it is far from clear that there is any money to pay for his plans, and third that evidence surfaced of Soviet plans to use human means to change the climate in the Russian Far East.

                      Putin was also widely attacked for his attempts to impose his power vertical on the Russian Academy of Sciences, something scholars said would further undermine Russia’s capacity for growth and development.

                      2. Russians Amused by ‘Meester Trump’ and His Tweets But Politicians Say He’s No Different than Obama
                      The American president still delights many Russians who say that his tweets sound even better in Russian than they do in English. But now that he has imposed new sanctions on Russia, Russian politicians “have ceased to distinguish” him from his hated predecessor, Barack Obama.

                      3. Putin’s Plan to Boost Russian Military to Soviet Size Faces Serious Hurdles
                      Vladimir Putin attracted attention this week by issuing a decree calling for the Russian military to expand to a size almost equal that of the Soviet one. But it is unlikely he’ll be able to do that.

                      On the one hand, even by raising the upper draft age, Moscow is finding it difficult to find enough soldiers. Indeed, Putin didn’t boost the size of this spring’s draft sufficiently to get to his goal. Nor did he indicate how he would avoid having such an army dominated by non-Russians. And on the other, it is far from clear that the Russian economy could support what a larger military would entail, not just more soldiers but bases and military equipment.

                      And this week brought more bad news on the military front: all second and third stage motors for the Proton rocket have been recalled to fix problems, and Moscow has been caught again trying to hide just how many casualties its forces in Syria have suffered.

                      4. Russians have Become Poorer Four Straight Years – and There is No End in Sight
                      Russian statistics show that Russians have suffered their fourth straight year of declining real incomes, and economists say that even if the Kremlin’s plans to turn things around are ultimately successful, at least initially, these innovations will make the situation worse in the short and medium term.

                      Three other pieces of economic news:

                      --Regional debt rose again last month,
                      --An international rating agency found Russian banks rank below those of Mexico,
                      --But polls suggest that some Russians at least are quite willing to pay higher taxes despite everything.

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                      • Putin is a Criminal Pt 2

                        5. Social Problems Continue to Multiply
                        Wherever one looks in Russia, there are intensifying social problems. Among those which were noted in the media this week are the following:

                        --No one should be breathing the air in Omsk as the atmosphere there has more than 400 times the permissible level of chemical contaminants
                        --There are now more HIV/AIDS cases in Russia than tuberculosis ones
                        --Tuberculosis is an increasing problem among wealthier groups
                        --Bears searching for food are driving people out of their homes in Pskov oblast
                        --Book sales in Russia are plummeting
                        --Drug use is down overall but up significantly among younger age groups
                        --More than half of all products in Russian stores do not correspond to Russian government sanitary norms
                        --And Russians are wrestling with problems for which they have no answers, including how to make graduate education useful for those who do not intend to pursue an academic career.

                        6. To Fight Alcohol Surrogates, Moscow May Ban Night Sales of Perfume and Cleaning Supplies
                        Russian officials say that one way to reduce the consumption of alcohol surrogates is to ban the nighttime sale of perfumes and cleaning supplies. Another official wants to promote beer drinking as a way of getting people off vodka. But no one has any idea how to deal with the biggest problem of all: ethnic Russians are ruining their health by overconsumption of hard alcohol, and members of Muslim nationalities are experiencing better health and even living longer because they consume far less of that.

                        There were two other alcohol-related stories that received a great deal of media play: a prostitute declared that she didn’t take money for her services but only various amounts of vodka, and a man threatened to blow up a store unless he was given a bottle of vodka.

                        7. Russian Statistics, Never Reliable, Appear Set to Get Much Worse

                        Researchers are expressing alarm about the way in which the transfer of Rosstat to the economic development ministry is likely to make statistics even less reliable than they are now. As bad as things are at present, they say, this move will make it worse. And bad they are already. Here are some examples from this week:

                        --Moscow was able to understate the collapse of foreign travel by including Abkhazia as a foreign destination
                        --Rosstat inflation statistics are so distorted that no one should rely on them
                        --Rosstat reported that Russians were becoming healthier when regional figures showed just the reverse
                        --In the most ridiculous release of the week, Rosstat reported an average salary for doctors that researchers say only 5.7 percent of them get.

                        But these problems are not limited to Rosstat by any means: In Daghestan, doctors said they would not confirm any harm inflicted by the police or siloviki unless the latter authorized them to, something very unlikely ever to happen, and VTsIOM, a polling agency with links to the Kremlin said it publishes only ten percent of the survey results it collects for clients. One can understand why: In making that statement, officials there said that they had found that one Russian in every four still thinks the sun goes around the earth rather than the earth around the sun.

                        8. No Let Up in Monument Wars

                        The high – or rather, low – point in Russia’s monuments wars this week was a decision by the authorities to refurbish the Pushkin Statue in Moscow over the coming months, thus depriving the Russian opposition of one of its favorite places to demonstrate.

                        Among other developments on this “front” were the following:
                        --Moscow announced it would spend two billion rubles (33 million US dollars) to restore the Motherland Calls statue in Volgograd
                        --The fight over St. Isaac’s showed no sign of being resolved
                        --A recently erected statue honoring Russia’s construction workers was knocked down by a strong wind
                        --The Old Believers, following the Orthodox, the Muslims, and the Roman Catholics, now say that they want the government to give them their churches back
                        --Officials in Irkutsk announced plans to build a Museum of Russian America there
                        --Fights continued over plans to build a cathedral and a mosque in Yekaterinburg
                        --A Lenin statue was decapitated by vandals in Oryol
                        --A prominent Muslim leader spoke out against anyone erecting a statue to Ivan the Terrible because of the latter’s sacking of Kazan
                        --Kaliningrad officials say they lack the funds to restore a memorial to the Great Fatherland War and that they won’t restore an imperial palace there either.

                        9. German Athletes May Boycott World Cup if FIFA Doesn’t Move It from Russia
                        German sports organizations say that German footballers may refuse to take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup if that competition is not taken away from Russia. Despite the continuing doping scandal, it appears unlikely that FIFA has the will do to that.

                        Indeed, it said this week it saw no reason to move the competition. Nonetheless, news coming out of Russia was not encouraging: Putin admitted that the Russian anti-doping system had broken down. Evidence of this was provided by the Russian government shortly after he made that remark: it took one of the banned substances off the list of drugs athletes are not allowed to use.

                        10. Protests Spread and Authorities Prepare to Crack Down
                        There were protests across Russia last week that had nothing to do with corruption or with taxes on long-haul drivers. Among those were environmental issues in Sochi and Asbestos and over ethnicity in Buryatia. The Putin regime was preparing to respond: it was noted that Russia now has more police per capita than any other country, including North Korea and that the FSB is now actively studying how to torture those it detains.

                        In addition, it was announced that the Russian Guard plans to use drones to monitor protests and that the police will use all available means against any future protesters.

                        Other developments were more closely linked with the widely covered Navalny protests, but some aspects of those protests and their fallout were not covered extensively. Among these:

                        --St. Petersburg deputies want to impose a minimum age for those taking part in demonstrations
                        --Russian siloviki are now going after the children of those who do take part in demonstrations
                        --Unexpectedly, last Sunday’s demonstrations did not spark a dramatic rise in Yandex searches about the issues involved.

                        Perhaps the two most important results of the protests were these: parliamentarians decided they must talk about the problems raised, but some of them said that fighting against corruption in Russia was unpatriotic.

                        11. The Islamic State Creates a Russian-Language Website
                        Reflecting the fact that more than 10,000 people from Russia and other former Soviet republics are now fighting for ISIS and that it expects to recruit even more, the Islamic State has set up a Russian-language website to promote itself to Russian speakers.

                        12. Nothing Sells in Russia as Well as Russophobia, Schulmann Says
                        Russian scholar and commentator Yekaterina Schulmann says that Russophobia or charges of Russophobia guarantees public attention because “nothing sells as well in Russia” as that.

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                        • Putin is a Criminal Pt 3

                          13. Creating Christian Political Parties in Russia Would Open a Pandora’s Box
                          Many are calling for the formation of one or more Christian political parties in Russia, but taking that step, commentators says, would open a Pandora’s box not only by dividing Christians but by encouraging Muslims and other religious groups to do the same thing.

                          14. Moscow to End Northern Peoples Benefits for Those Who Live Outside Their Homelands
                          Russian law specifies that Moscow provides specific monetary benefits to members of the numerically small peoples of the North; but now, to save money, the central government is providing such funds only to those who live in the region and engage in traditional economic activity. Those who move elsewhere will no longer get the benefits.

                          15. Russian Gun Rights Advocates Say Russian Laws Protect Criminals
                          Russia’s guns rights advocacy group says that Russians need guns for self-deference but that existing laws make it hard for them but not for criminals to get firearms.

                          16. Moscow Commentators Denounce NATO Study on Russian Humor
                          Russian commentators say that a NATO study of Russian humor shows just how bankrupt the Western alliance is. The NATO study is available at; the Russian critiques at and

                          17. Putin’s Troll Factory Expands into Major Media Holding Company
                          A company established to run trolling operations against Western targets has now grown into a major media holding company in Russia with a wide variety of media properties under its control.

                          18. Putin’s Foreign Agents Law has Forced a Third of All Russian NGOs to Close Down
                          The law introduced by Vladimir Putin requiring any non-governmental organization receiving money from abroad to identify itself as “a foreign agent” has led 33 percent of all Russian NGOs to cease operations.

                          19. Four Out of Five Russians Say They’ve Never Personally Encountered Corruption
                          Despite evidence of massive corruption in Russia and the attention that issue has received recently, 78 percent of Russians, according to a new poll, say that they personally have never encountered the phenomenon.

                          20. Russian Interior Ministry Says There are 10 Million Immigrants in Russia
                          Few statistics are more politically sensitive than the numbers of immigrants legal and otherwise now in Russia. The numbers offered by various outlets range from three million to 18 million or more. Now the Interior Ministry has entered the fray and suggested there are 10 million immigrants at present.

                          21. Moscow Media Claim that Alaska Would Have Been Better Off Russian Blows Up
                          The Russian media claimed that Alaska would have been “a more developed region” if it had remained part of Russia, a claim it said was based on a statement by an Alaskan official. But the claim, absurd on its face given conditions on the other side of the Bering Straits blew up in the faces of those who made it.

                          On the one hand, the Russian blogosphere pointed out just how absurd this suggestion was, and on the other, the Alaskan official cited said he had never made any such statement.

                          22. Hijab Again Legal in Two Russian Federal Subjects
                          Many Russians oppose the hijab, seeing it as an offensive symbol of Islam, and they have tried to prevent school children and others from wearing it. But now the courts in one region, Mordvinia, and the government in another, Chechnya, have restored the right of Muslim women to wear this traditional dress.

                          23. Putin Promises Russians Will Live Longer to Hide That There Will Be Fewer of Them
                          Vladimir Putin has proudly projected that he will increase life expectancy in Russia by four years in the coming decade. It is unlikely that he can do that, but regardless of whether it happens, one commentator suggests the Kremlin leader is only making that projection to distract attention from a fundamental reality: over the same period, there will be far fewer Russians as a result of falling fertility rates and rising mortality ones.

                          24. If Putin is Pushed Out, Russia will Disintegrate Regionally

                          Russian commentators are again arguing that only if the current Kremlin leader remains in power will Russia avoid civil war and disintegration. What is interesting about the latest suggestions in this regard is that most of them point to Russia falling apart regionally rather than along ethnic lines.

                          25. Half of Russia’s Elderly Help Others Even More Needy than Themselves
                          Russia’s elderly, even now when the Russian government is making it ever more difficult to live on their pensions or even to get them, are frequently helping others who are in an even more difficult position than themselves, with about half of all elderly doing so on a regular basis.

                          And 12 more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:

                          1. Planting Season Explains Absence of Belarusian Protests
                          Many observers have suggested that the Belarusian protest movement has run out of steam, pointing to the fact that opposition figures have not called for any demonstrations until early May as evidence. But the reason for the absence of protests in the coming weeks is not a decline in anti-Lukashenka sentiment but rather the requirement that people in the regions plant their crops and thus cannot easily get away to take part in demonstrations.

                          2. Moscow Tries Again to Play Hungarian Card Against Kyiv
                          The Russian government is working with some in Hungary to promote the idea that a Hungarian autonomy should be formed in the Western part of Ukraine. The idea has periodically surfaced, but Russian outlets have stepped up their articles about this possibility in recent days.

                          3. Crimean Occupation Forces Building Company Towns There

                          Even though company towns (monogorody) in Russia itself are rapidly dying out, the Russian occupation forces in Crimea are planning to create analogues of these disasters there.

                          Other occupation news this week:

                          --There have been 43 kidnappings since the Anschluss
                          --Moscow has increased subsidies for flights to Crimea hoping that more Russians will travel there
                          --The occupation authorities say that Crimean Tatars are not filling the classrooms in Crimean Tatar language schools
                          --Bashkortostan closed its representation in Crimea.

                          4. Revisionist History on Central Asian National Delimitation Raises Questions about the Future
                          According to a new history of the national-territorial delimitation of Central Asia in 1924, Central Asians, not Moscow, promoted the idea. That challenges the accepted wisdom that Moscow took this step either as part of a divide and rule campaign or to promote itself in the eyes of colonial subjects in British India as solicitous to Muslim concerns. But if the new interpretation has an impact on the thinking of current elites in the region, that could open the way for border changes or recombinations of various ways.

                          5. GUAM Creates a Free Trade Zone
                          At the urging of Kyiv, the organization of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova have agreed to form a free trade zone by the end of this year. If these countries succeed, it will further undermine the importance of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States.

                          Meanwhile, in Moscow, a group of communists has announced a counter-effort, calling for the restoration of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as a first step toward the restoration of the USSR.

                          6. Russian Historian Says Soviet Deportations from Baltics Didn’t Have an Ethnic Character
                          In yet another revisionist claim that is contradicted by all available evidence, a Russian historian argues that Stalin did not deport people from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the basis of ethnicity but only on the basis of class status and antagonism to Russia.

                          7. Kazakhstan Justice Ministry calls for Imposing Death Penalty on All who Threaten Country’s Stability
                          Kazakhstan may soon have the most draconian law in the post-Soviet space if Astana goes along with a justice ministry call for introducing the death penalty for crimes that threaten the stability of the country.

                          8. Kyrgyzstan Officials Must Know Kyrgyz by 2018
                          The Kyrgyzstan government says that by next year, all its officials must know the national language. Many now speak only Russian even though Kyrgyzstan has been independent since 1991.

                          9. Moldovan Government Wants to Withdraw from CIS
                          Chisinau officials say that their country is planning to pull out of the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States. If it does, and given Ukraine’s suspension of membership, Moscow will no longer be able to claim that that group includes the majority of the post-Soviet states.

                          10. Belarusian Young People Turning from TV to the Internet
                          A major reason that Russian influence in Belarus has declined is that young people are no longer watching television, most of it Russian produced and supplied, but instead relying on the Internet which is much less Russian dominated than TV.

                          11. Kazakhstan Now Providing ‘Citizens for Russia and Wives for China’
                          Experts in Kazakhstan say that Central Asian country is increasingly the source for additional citizens for the Russian Federation and wives for Chinese husbands.

                          12. Only One Russian in 25 Thinks Moscow Should Help Kyiv Restore Control over Donbas

                          A new poll shows that Russians who have an opinion are nearly equally divided between those who think that the Donbas should be absorbed into Russia and those who think it should become independent. Most striking, however, is that only four percent think that Moscow should, as it is committed to doing under the Minsk Accords, help Kyiv restore Ukrainian control over the region.

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                          • Full ceasefire in Donbas comes into force today, April 1 According to the agreements of the Trilateral Contact Group for Donbas settlement, a ceasefire is being established in eastern Ukraine April 1.
                            UNIAN 01 April 2017

                            Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave a corresponding order to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ministry of Defense on March 30.

                            "On my instructions, our delegation in Minsk proposed to announce a cease-fire ahead of Easter. Unfortunately, we do not have much optimism that another party will honor the agreements reached, but the life and health of every Ukrainian soldier are of the greatest value," the head of state said.

                            Poroshenko stressed that it was the Ukrainian side which proposed full ceasefire from April 1.

                            The president noted that it was necessary to act decisively to ensure a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy equipment and artillery. This is the key point of the Minsk agreements and the decision of the National Security and Defense Council.

                            "We will see how these agreements will be implemented from April 1," Poroshenko said. Read also Minsk talks: April 1 set as new deadline for Donbas truce pending Easter.

                            On March 30, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak stated that Ukraine was ready to start a ceasefire in Donbas; however, it would defend its positions in the event of a threat to the life of the Ukrainian troops.


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                            • Kremlin has lost control of the future, but also the past
                              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2017/04/02

                              Russia, it is sometime said, is a country with an unpredictable past; but Russian governments have worked hard to try to control not only the future but also the past. Now, however, Sergey Shelin says, the Kremlin “no longer controls either the future or the past” – and that leaves Putin “without the two accustomed instruments” for manipulating the people.

                              Many have pointed out that Putin’s team now doesn’t have “any model for the future” as it heads into the presidential elections, the Rosbalt commentator says. “This is true, but it is far from the whole truth.” The Kremlin has also lost control over the past as well and thus is increasingly unable to hold people in check. Indeed, Shelin argues,

                              “the present-day situation is absolutely new for post-Soviet Russia.” Occasionally, it has been unable to present “an attractive picture of the future … But never has this been combined with an inability to speak in the role” of either an opponent of a hated past or a defender of one Russians as a whole like.

                              Instead, the regime’s constant revisions of its views of the past and the transparent falsification and exploitation of themes, combined with the indifference of Russians to a past that is ever more distant from and less significant to them than before make the regime’s failure to talk about the future even more critical.

                              “Ever less time remains until March 2018,” Shelin points out, “and the mechanisms of control over the past and over the future are misfiring again and again. [As a result,] Vladimir Putin is approaching his re-election without either of the traditional instruments for manipulating the minds” of the voters.

                              He gives several examples to support these conclusions. What, he asks rhetorically, can a regime propagandist say about the anti-corruption “disorders?” Besides referring to the Arab Spring or Western machinations, two things few Russians pay attention to, he will be driven to talk “about the horrors of all Russian coups and revolutions, from the earlier up to 1991.”

                              This propagandist will do so because he “imagines that this is a completely irresistible intellectual weapon. And he will then be surprised when his listeners simply yawn.” His shock will be greater because “earlier this wasn’t the case: images of the past occupied a central place in the propaganda of our regime at all of its turning points. And they worked. People responded.”

                              In 1996, for example, Boris Yeltsin was re-elected not because he enjoyed real support but because he successfully portrayed Gennady Zyuganov as someone who would restore Soviet times – and not just Brezhnevite stagnation but Stalinist terror.

                              In 2000 and 2004, Putin was elected and then re-elected on a platform of “moderate restorationism” which promised to turn away “from the cursed 1990s” and return to the relative well-being and stability of the late Brezhnev years.

                              In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected with the support of both those who hoped for “a continuation of Putin restorationism” and those who wanted “a return” to the greater freedoms of the 1990s. “Both the one and the other, however, instead of the past they wanted go the past which they wanted somewhat less – the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin throne.”

                              And thus it is no accident that 2012 and the years following “became a time of grandiose militant mobilization of history with the goal of having it serve the interests of the bosses.” Not only was the traditional celebration of victory in World War II but also of all kinds of other victories from the times of Ivan the Terrible onward.

                              But today, none of this has the same effect.

                              Russians see how often the regime is prepared to rewrite the past and how difficult a time it faces in confronting the complexities of earlier times. And they see that the regime uses these things only to try to distract attention from its failure to address their real problems now.

                              The reason Russians have changed is not only that the young people “going into the streets don’t remember even ‘the cursed 1990s’ not to speak about the times of Gorbachev and Brezhnev,” Shelin argues. Instead, it is rooted in the fact that all events have a certain “to be used by” date, after which they don’t play the same role.

                              Instead, they are met with indifference bordering on contempt. “Don’t believe pollsters” who talk about the rising rating of Stalin, he says. “Pollsters simply can’t capture the indifference with which the masses view today both Stalinism and anti-Stalinism.” Those are increasingly issues of the distant past.

                              And efforts to use even more distant pasts – such as the revolutionary year of 1917 – not only highlight that problem but show that the regime can’t make up its mind about how it wants to treat this or that issue. The Kremlin’s failure to take a clear line only makes it easier for Russians to go their own way, ignoring the past and focusing only on current problems.
                              Kremlin has lost control of the future, but also the past | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                              • German military will create a Cybernetic and Information Command
                                UAWIRE ORG April 1, 2017 5:54:00 PM

                                In Germany, a Cybernetic and Information Command will come into existence in early April, as reported by Reuters.

                                The new facility will be located in Bonn. Its initial size will be 260 people, but it is planned to bring it to 13.5 thousand people, including strategic military intelligence and communication centers, by July. By 2021, the number of employees of the service will reach 14,500 people, 1,500 seats of which will be reserved for civil contractors.

                                The Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, has already named the head of the new cyber-command: Lieutenant-General Ludwig Leinhos.

                                As the agency notes, the command structure has been created in compliance with the decisions of NATO and Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the defense of Germany against cyber-attacks one of her main priorities. Russia is considered to be the main enemy, as Berlin believes that it is trying to destabilize German society through propaganda and disinformation.

                                On January 7, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany stated that there was a trace of "Russian hackers" in the cyber attack on the OSCE that happened in December 2016. According to the head of the department, Hans-Georg Maassen, the experts have evidence pointing to the involvement of the “ART 28” (a.k.a. “Fancy Bears”) group, which is associated with Russia. UAWire - German military will create a Cybernetic and Information Command

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