Monday, July 29, 2013

Pogrom in St Petersburg

A camera follows a group of Russian nationalists as they make the rounds of St Petersburg fruit stalls run by migrants from Central Asia and the south of Russia, overturning and stealing the fruit and threatening the migrants - mostly women and elderly men - with baseball bats. The police back up the nationalists, first standing idly and approvingly by while the intimidation takes place, and then detaining many of the migrants on suspicion of illegal status.

Hat tip: Marina Litvinovich on Twitter

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cyberwarfare and Propaganda

At Wired State, Catherine Fitzpatrick has compiled a detailed timeline that highlights the deep interrelation of events surrounding the WikiLeaks state security-breaking campaign, the Snowden affair and the involvement of the Russian government and intelligence services in both. As she points out, there is a clear mutual, though not necessarily causal connection between
Kremlin TV's propagandistic celebration of US hackers in Anonymous; WikiLeaks and Occupy; Russia's own crackdown on Internet freedom and "foreign agents" at home (mirroring its one-time championing of Western peace movements by the Soviet government even as it jailed pacifists at home).
Fitzpatrick also notes that
America has enemies from both domestic and foreign non-state and foreign state actors, some of whom show signs of collusion with each other; they are succeeding to alarming degrees; the pushback against them causes new backlashes and enables enemies to portray the US as "oppressive" and distract from the greater oppression of Russia, China, Iran and other authoritarian states...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alyokhina Denied Parole

Maria Alyokhina has refused further participation in the parole hearing at the Perm Regional Court, which she has been attending via videoconference from the remand center where she is being held, claiming that the proceedings are a travesty of justice and her rights are being fundamentally violated. As a sign of her non-participation, she turned her back to the camera. Her request for parole has now been denied by the court.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Navalny Interview

Alexey Navalny has given his first full-length interview since being freed from captivity. TV Rain's Ilya Vasyunin is the interviewer. Excerpt:
Васюнин: Многие, в том числе оппозиционные, политики, сегодня говорят о том, что Навальный стал некой разменной фигурой в политической игре, за него вступается одна группа против другой группы в Кремле. Как ты к этим разговорам относишься?

Навальный: Это что за оппозиционные политики такие? Это какие-то клоуны, а не оппозиционные политики. У меня нет ни желания, ни возможности, ни необходимости доказывать кому-то, что я не являюсь пешкой в игре. Есть люди, которые меня окружают. Эти люди мне верят. Мне этого достаточно. Какие-то там непонятные «оппозиционные» политики меня совершенно не интересуют.
Vasyunin: Many people, including members of the opposition, politicians, are saying today that Navalny has become a kind of interchangeable figure in the political game, that one group in the Kremlin stands up for him against another. How do you feel about this talk?

Navalny: What sort of opposition politicians are they? They are some sort of clowns, not opposition politicians. I have neither the desire nor the possibility nor the need to prove to anyone that I am not a pawn in a game. There are people who surround me. Those people trust me. For me that's enough. Some strange "opposition" politicians don’t interest me at all.

Navalny Returns to Moscow

Навальный выступает на вокзале on Twitpic

Friday, July 19, 2013

Navalny and Ofitserov Released Pending Appeal

In a sign that the Kremlin may be having some second thoughts, Alexey Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov have been released from custody pending their appeal, with travel restrictions.

In Eurasia Outlook, Petr Topychkanov writes of two points that may underlie the effects of this decision:
the unexpected consequences of a political act, undertaken without the proper understanding of the rapid political, social, and economic changes that are taking place. The second one is that trying to secure their political position by means of primarily pressure or violence, political actors can weaken their position.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Alyokhina 'Beaten by Guards'

Khodorkovsky Center reports that Maria Alyokhina has been beaten by guards in the remand center in Solikamsk where she is currently being held, for refusing to be transferred to another prison without access to documents. More details from RAPSI.

Update 1: In a statement to Novaya Gazeta, Alyokhina's lawyer Oksana Darova has denied that she saw her client being beaten.

Update 2: Alyokhina has written a letter to Novoye Vremya from the remand center in Solikamsk.

Navalny Declared Guilty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been found guilty of embezzlement, in a political trial aimed at silencing him.

See  also these links:


Sentence is 5 years.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Obstructions of Justice

On the day that the British government refuses a request by Coroner Sir Robert Owen to hold a public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, Edward Snowden announces his intention to seek political asylum in Russia.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Bomb and the Hedgehog

Despite the often invoked ending of the Cold War, Russia’s defence policy is still focused on nuclear deterrence, and particularly the nuclear balance with the United States.  Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov recently announced that Russia will continue to increase its potential in airspace forces and other parts of its nuclear deterrence strategy.

The Defense Ministry worked on building the early-warning radars along Russia's borders as well as permanent deployment of S-400 and S-500 anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.

"We have a possibility to efficiently counter a high-technological enemy should it undertake aggression against Russia," Gerasimov said.

Writing in Pravda, a defence correspondent noted that

according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Wesley Miller, U.S. nuclear weapons are in need of urgent modernization. Defense structures experienced global reduction that affected nuclear armed forces of the United States. The Americans are also concerned about Russia's efforts to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces.

Russia’s conventional armed forces are still in a state of relative disarray, and are currently no match for their U.S. counterparts:

During a conference in Moscow last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that an attack with the use of 3,500-4,000 units of high-precision weapons would deprive Russia of the possibility to resist in only six hours. "According to current estimates from the United States, as a result of such an attack, 80-90 percent of the Russian nuclear potential could be destroyed," said Deputy Prime Minister.

Commenting on Twitter, Carnegie Moscow Center director and defence analyst Dmitri Trenin points out that  while there is an absence of strategic trust between Russia and the United States, the enormous disparity in conventional military power between the two nations means that nuclear deterrence remains the only area in which Russia can maintain equivalence. For Russia, he notes, “this is a hedgehog posture”. 

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Eurasia Outlook

Eurasia Outlook is a new Carnegie Moscow Center blog with quite a wide range of contributors and topics. Recent English-language posts include a comparison of the protests in Turkey and Russia by Lilia Shevtsova, an American Interest op-ed on the surge of new authoritarianism throughout the world, and a discussion by Dmitri Trenin of the interconnection between economic and political factors in the process of civic awakening.

The blog also publishes material in Russian, French and several other languages. In the Russian-language section Alexey Malashenko considers the demise of Egypt's President Morsi, and points to the lessons that will inevitably be drawn from it by leaders of other nations in the region:
За ситуацией в Египте пристально наблюдают в соседних странах. И поражение местных исламистов (если это, конечно, поражение, а не временное отступление) эхом отзовется в Тунисе, Ливии, в некоторых других государствах, в том числе в Турции.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

No sheikh under the mosque's dome

“We thought there was a sheikh under the mosque’s dome.” Egyptians say this when they anticipate something big from someone and then get nothing at the end. Before reaching power, we thought the Brotherhood were these great business people who will improve the living standard of Egyptians. On the contrary, we discovered that the MB know nothing about the economy and their economic policy depended solely on borrowing money from anyone who showed any sign of willingness to lend. We thought they were Warren Buffets, they turned out to be Seven Eleven cashiers.

Tales of the Caucasus

A recent Levada Center poll indicates that half of Russians would not oppose Chechnya's secession from Russia:

Meanwhile, a new video by Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov appears to call for a resumption of hostilities on Russian soil, and contains a threat to the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics:

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Bolotnaya suspects refuse to plead guilty

Via The Interpreter:
All 12 suspects in the case of mass disturbances on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012 have refused to plead guilty in court, a correspondent of the Russian Agency for Legal and Judicial Information (RASPI) reports.