Monday, May 29, 2017

The Russian Government and the 1999 Apartment Bombings

I have noticed on Twitter that some observers have been recalling Amy Knight's review of John B. Dunlop's book The Moscow Bombings of September 1999. It's quite a remarkable read. In addition to summing up the conclusions of Dunlop's investigation it brings into sharp relief aspects of the bombings that have not to the best of my knowledge been widely discussed:
Dunlop explains why the political situation in which the terrorist attacks took place is crucial for understanding them. Yeltsin and his “Family” (an entourage that included his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin adviser Valentin Yumashev, who later married Tatyana, the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, and Aleksandr Voloshin, head of the presidential administration) were facing a huge crisis by the spring of 1999. Yeltsin was in ailing health and suffering from alcoholism. His popularity had fallen steeply and there was a strong possibility that his political base—a loose movement called “Unity”—would lose the parliamentary and presidential elections (respectively scheduled for December 1999 and March 2000). Yeltsin and his two daughters were facing reports charging that they had large amounts of money in secret bank accounts abroad through illegal transactions with a Swiss construction firm called Mabetex. And Berezovsky was under investigation for embezzlement when he had been running Aeroflot. 
The Family’s solution to its dilemma, according to Dunlop, was a plan to destabilize Russia and possibly cancel or postpone the elections after declaring a state of emergency. In June 1999, two Western journalists, Jan Blomgren of the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and Giulietto Chiesa, the respected, longtime Moscow correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, reported that there was going to be an act of “state terrorism” in Russia. The goal would be to instill fear and panic in the population. Chiesa wrote:
With a high degree of certitude, one can say that the explosions of bombs killing innocent people are always planned by people with political minds who are interested in destabilizing the situation in a country…. It could be foreigners… but it could also be “our own people” trying to frighten the country.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Russia Mystery

What is one to make of the "Russia connection" - the narrative that says U.S. and Russian officials and government members have been "colluding" in some ill-defined conspiracy to subvert the rule of law in America?

It appears that the connection is being taken seriously by many U.S. public figures. Congressmen, statesmen and journalists are busily exploring the backgrounds and recent activities of officials close to President Trump - Carter Page, Manafort, Bannon, Kushner, Flynn and others - to find out if they have formed secret links to Russian intelligence or have become compromised via business deals, thus also compromising the country's security.

In the Soviet era, the consequences of all this would have been earth-shattering: it would have meant that a carefully prepared Soviet espionage network had succeeded in bringing down the United States, the world's most powerful entity. Yet now, in the era of Putin and the insipid "power vertical", it somehow seems less significant - as if a minor undemocratic and unstable country had developed pretensions to grandeur based on a harebrained scheme to infiltrate the intelligence, information and economic structures of America and to cause as much damage as possible within a short space of time. This is not to say that damage has not been inflicted - it may well emerge from the countless investigations now underway that leaks, cyber attacks and the actions of certain U.S. officials and diplomats have had a disastrous effect on sections of America's infrastructure and public life.

But the question that arises is: why would Russia go to such lengths to disrupt America's security and economy? Russia is dependent on the U.S. for trade, and in general sees itself as a 'partner' of the U.S. in exerting pressure on ISIS in the war on terror. And also - why would U.S. officials suddenly want to collude with Russia in causing damage to the United States? Is there some secret cabal of Trumpist functionaries intent upon seizing power in the name of the Russian Federation? It hardly seems likely, yet this possibility is what lies behind the headlines: "Kushner's 'secret channel' with Russia", "Alleged Russian Hacker Shared DCCC Docs with Fla Operative", and so on.

The entire affair is still a mystery - a mystery as enigmatic as the presence and personality of Donald Trump himself, who combines all these serpentine threads into a single worrisome focus. America and the world face uncertain times.

Friday, May 26, 2017

British forces in Estonia's Spring Storm exercise

Kevadtorm (Spring Storm) is the annual Estonian Defence Forces’ exercise with the purpose to train and test the readiness of Defence Forces and contingents of Allied troops to deter various threa

It is held at the Estonian Defence Forces central training ground.
British Armed Forces are taking a leading role in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, with the British Army leading a multinational Battlegroup in Estonia from early 2017.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Zakayev: a Third Chechen War can be avoided

In his latest interview for Sotnik TV, given in the context of the recent Conference in Brussels, held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement between Russia and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, exiled Chechen leader Akhmed Zakayev ponders the increasing hostility towards Chechnya and Chechens that can be observed in Russian propaganda. Chechens are being accused of all bad things - the latest being the fomenting of homophobia, an ironic touch, clearly. At the same time the rise of ISIS continues, and a new generation of young Chechens are espousing jihad and developing a sense that their fathers were "too nice". The level of mutual hostility is now at such a pitch that Zakayev sees the approach of a third Chechen war, and he is anxious to avert it, both for Russia's sake and for Chechnya's. A repeat of incidents like Beslan and Nord-Ost would be in no one's interests, yet that is precisely what waits on the horizon. Zakayev says that a third war can and must be avoided.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

All Chechen Facebook Groups Closed

  1.   Retweeted
    Akhmed Zakayev, Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Report on Conference, Brussels, 15.05.2017 (Rus)
  2.   Retweeted
    Mark Zuckerberg's data mining racket censors Chechens just as it did Ukrainians when in 2014.
  3.   Retweeted
    WTF . Is this true? What has Zuck allowed FB to become?
  4.   Retweeted
    Why would you close down the Independence for Chechnya page? Please reconsider!
  5.   Retweeted
    A victim of the /Russia collusion
  6. Replying to   and 
    1 admin of the "Independence for Chechnya!" facebook group wrote to kadyrovist Artur Tokaev it's not good to torture people, unfriended.....
  7. Replying to 
    They have closed ALL Chechen facebook groups.
  8. Independence for Chechnya! facebook page was closed today. Russia has captured power in FB, please help to recover it.