Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Russia, China Lash Out At U.S. Sanctions While Forging Closer Ties

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Russian and Chinese leaders are lashing out at U.S. sanctions and tariffs that they say are undermining the global trading system built by Washington, and said the measures have served to cement closer economic and political ties between Beijing and Moscow.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


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RUSSIA and THE WEST – РОССИЯ и ЗАПАД: US military options in Syria – Google News: What can the sanctions do? – CT Post

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November 07, 2018
US military options in Syria – Google News: What can the sanctions do? – CT Post
В мире – Новости Google: Журналист CNN “распустил руки” во время пресс-конференции с Трампом – Российская Газета
Voice of America: Latest Arrest Prompts Media Rights Group to Demand Iran Journalists’ Release
Russia News: Global Voices по-русски: Мозамбикский владелец магазина одежды посчитал отличной идеей назвать его в честь Гитлера, однако сетяне с этим не согласились
Russia News: Eurasia Review Newsletter: EU Reiterates Commitment To Iran Nuclear Deal

US military options in Syria – Google News: What can the sanctions do? – CT Post

1. Russia from mikenova (113 sites)
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В мире – Новости Google: Журналист CNN “распустил руки” во время пресс-конференции с Трампом – Российская Газета

1. Russia from mikenova (113 sites)
Корреспондент CNN Джим Акоста остался без пропуска в Белый дом после перепалки с президентом США Дональдом Трампом. Поводом стало неподобающее поведение представителя СМИ. “Мы никогда не допустим, чтобы журналист распускал руки”, – говорится в сообщении пресс-службы Белого дома.
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Voice of America: Latest Arrest Prompts Media Rights Group to Demand Iran Journalists’ Release

1. Russia from mikenova (113 sites)
Authorities in Iran’s capital have arrested a journalist who wrote about government corruption, in the latest of a series of Iranian journalist detentions that have drawn international concern.
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Russia News: Global Voices по-русски: Мозамбикский владелец магазина одежды посчитал отличной идеей назвать его в честь Гитлера, однако сетяне с этим не согласились

1. Russia from mikenova (113 sites)
Имя Гитлера на магазине модной одежды в Мапуто | Фото использовано с разрешения автора [Все ссылки ведут на сайты на португальском языке, если не указано иное.] После шквала гневных реакций со стороны пользователей Facebook между 21 и 22 октября 2018 года магазин одежды в столице Мозамбика Мапуто, использовавший в оформлении нацистскую иконографию, избавился как от своего названия, так и от логотипа.
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Russia News: Eurasia Review Newsletter: EU Reiterates Commitment To Iran Nuclear Deal

1. Russia from mikenova (113 sites)
The European Union announced on Tuesday that it will remain committed to Iran nuclear agreement as long as Tehran complies with the deal. Speaking to reporters, Margaritis Schinas, the spokesman for the European Commission said there is already a deal that is called the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.
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RUSSIA and THE WEST – РОССИЯ и ЗАПАД


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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Doesn’t Believe Putin and Regime are Less Popular than They Were, Stanovaya Says

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Paul Goble
            Staunton, November 7 – The Kremlin doesn’t believe that there has been any decline in the popularity of Vladimir Putin or his regime “as a whole,” Tatyana Stanovaya says. Instead, it thinks any appearance of declines in support for officials is their fault or something the regime can easily manage.
            If those around Putin do conclude that there has been a decline, the Russian analyst says, they may artificially seek to boost in via media campaigns or alternatively they may tighten the screws still further, eliminating the last remnants of any real competition in the political system (carnegie.ru/commentary/77646).
            The latter variant is more likely, she argues; and either is far more probable than one that some in Moscow are talking about – “the liberalization of the regime.”  That is because for “a significant part of the Russian elite, especially the siloviki, that is viewed as capitulation before the West.” 
            The Putin regime, she argues, was not prepared and is not now prepared for declining ratings of itself. Instead, it blames any appearance of that on the bad decisions of particular officials or even as a natural result of the extremely unpopular pension reform. The first can be replaced, and the second will ultimately be accepted.
            Those attitudes have governed the Kremlin’s response to losses in the gubernatorial elections and to demands for policy changes, Stanovaya says.  This means that governors now aren’t “the subjects of the political process but part of the faceless mechanism of corporate administration,” something that could make the current problems even worse.
            The oft-repeated thesis that “’there is no catastrophe’ sums up the general attitude in the Presidential Administration, Everything is built around the conviction that Putin is the only choice and that his rating cannot seriously fall;” and that in turn means that those in his entourage are increasingly concerned only about him and not about anything else.
                 There is a logic here, Stanovaya says. “An alternative to Putin can only be a successor of Putin.” And consequently, she continues, if there is more evidence of a decline in his or the system’s popularity, “the kremlin will see in this everything except the political weakness of the president.” It cannot face that because it cannot admit that it is possible.
            That in turn means that the Kremlin is unlikely to eliminate the basic features of the electoral system lest it appear weak but instead seek to cope with occasional defeats by a focused cadres policy. And that attitude is true for the political system as a whole. The Kremlin now isn’t planning on any major changes.
            If any changes do take place, Stanovaya says, “this will be connected with the process of the transition of power and not with any adaptation to the declining ratings of support.”  This isn’t “stupidity or shortsightedness,” but rather the result of an almost exclusive focus on Putin as the source of power and legitimacy.
             Via cadres policy, the Kremlin will largely rid itself of politicians and put administrators in their place, people who aren’t interested in or skill at political activities.  They won’t be like the Surkovs or Volodins of the past but rather faceless people who will shine only with the reflected light of Putin.  Intrigues will decline because such people won’t engage in them.
            The Putin regime, Stanovaya concludes, is working on the formation of a corporate state “where the interests of the corporation are automatically classed as those of the people and the population itself loses its last political rights.”  Only if the regime becomes indecisive will this change, and that will only happen if there are serious challenges from below.

Window on Eurasia — New Series


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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Wants Regions to Extract More Money from Russians so Moscow Can Give Them Less and Take More

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Paul Goble
            Staunton, November 7 – Moscow has moved beyond imposing ever more unfunded liabilities on the regions, demanding that they carry out various programs even though it leaves them with ever fewer resources to do so. Now the center is giving the regions advice on what they must do to extract more money from the population — so they can send it to Moscow.
            The finance ministry has sent out a letter to ten pilot regions suggesting they tighten control over such things as the registration of migrants and the renting of property even to the point of organizing raids on businesses and apartments so the regions can collect more income (minfin.ru/ru/perfomance/regions/methodology/and newsru.com/russia/02nov2018/minfin.html).
            The document is cast in the form of recommendations for the regions to be in a position to boost their own economic development, but given that any additional income the regions would take in would either be viewed as the basis for the imposition of new taxes to be paid to Moscow or a new excuse not to give the regions more aid, it is clearly a two-edged sword.
            That is, the regions might in fact derive some benefits by taking in more income from the population, but they would likely lose much of it either by being forced to hand over a large part of their income as now to the central authorities or find that Moscow would use any improvement in the situation of the regions as the basis for cutting back on assistance further. 
            The After Empire portal makes that point explicit today, saying that the latest finance ministry recommendation is nothing but an update of Dmitry Medvedev’s famous remark, “there is no money, but you hold on.”  Now, the regionalist portal says, what Moscow is saying is give us all that you have and take even more from the citizenry (afterempire.info/2018/11/07/control/).
            This is a clear indication of just how tight money has become as Russia’s economic crisis continues and how once again the regions are being asked to bear the burden for Moscow’s imperial adventures, adventures that the site suggests are the only justification that the imperial center has for continuing to exist.
            But by highlighting that reality, the portal suggests, Moscow with this latest step will further infuriate the already hard-pressed regions and lead more of them to question why they should be paying for Russia’s involvement in far away conflicts when there isn’t enough money for schools, hospitals and roads. 

Window on Eurasia — New Series


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IRRUSSIANALITY: The liberal international order

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The Holy Roman Empire, it’s often said, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. The same might be said about the so-called ‘liberal international order’ – it’s neither liberal, nor international, nor an order. That might be a little unfair, but it’s not unreasonable to ask whether the system governing international relations is really quite what the proponents of the ‘liberal international order’ imagine it to be (democratic values, free trade, international institutions, international law, and the like). Whatever the answer, a lot of people are saying that the existing system is in crisis due to a resurgent Russia, a rising China, and far-right populism in Europe. Of course, if the liberal international order doesn’t exist, it can hardly be in crisis, but discussions of the matter are nonetheless revealing as they tell us quite a lot about how the advocates of this system truly view it.

This thought came to mind after attending a talk today by John Herbst and Daniel Fried. Herbst was at one point American ambassador to Ukraine; Fried was Assistant Secretary of State for Europe. Both men now work for the Atlantic Council, and their presentations were pretty much what you’d expect from that organization: ‘Kremlin aggression’, ‘Kremlin aggression’, and ‘Kremlin aggression’, with occasional references instead to ‘Russian aggression’, and the odd nod to concepts such as the ‘Putin regime’, ‘corrupt kleptocracy’, ‘hybrid war’, and ‘the Gerasimov doctrine’. It’s striking how men with such enormous diplomatic experience can have such an unsophisticated view of international affairs, in which their chosen enemies are entirely to blame for the problems of the world and are apparently motivated solely by malice rather than any type of legitimate interests which we might have to take into consideration.

But that’s by the by. Along the way, both Herbst and Fried had a lot to say about the ‘liberal international order’, which they felt was under threat for all the reasons mentioned above. And then Herbst said something quite interesting. Talking about Ukraine, he remarked that he was confident that reform would continue even if current frontrunner Yulia Timoshenko wins next year’s Ukrainian presidential election. Timoshenko is running a campaign based in part on rejection of much of the proposed reform program. But, Herbst pointed out, Ukraine is in desperate need of money. So we needn’t worry, he said, for the West can use the IMF ‘to bash her on the head’ (or words to that effect) to force Timoshenko and the Ukrainian parliament to enact the reforms that the West deems necessary.

And there’s the ‘liberal international order’ for you. Unwittingly, Herbst let the cat out of the bag and told us something important about how members of the Western establishment view the purpose of international institutions – not as institutions designed to facilitate foreign governments’ efforts to pursue the policies they wish to pursue, but as tools of the West to force them to do what the West wants them to do. In other words, the liberal international order, isn’t really international, but an extension of Western power. As you will notice, there’s also very little about this which is ‘liberal’. Forcing foreign governments to do things they were elected not to do doesn’t have a whole lot in common with democracy. (Though it’s hardly exceptional – think of the Greeks, for instance.) And it’s hard to see how it’s compatible with freedom either – after all, you’re not really free if you have to do what foreign governments tell you to do. Whatever its theoretical principles, when put into practice in this way, the liberal international order is simply a codeword for what those on the left like to call ‘imperialism’.

And that’s a shame. At heart, I’m a typical Western liberal democrat. I believe in the theoretical principles of liberal international order – free trade, international institutions, respect for international law, and all that. To some extent, I think they are indeed part of the practice of the international system, and it would be great if they could be practiced in an even more perfect way. But they’re not going to be if the states with the most power don’t respect them. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that reform in Ukraine is a bad idea. But you can’t preach freedom, democracy, and all the rest of it, if what you  practice is something very different. When ‘liberal international order’ is just code for ‘bash her on the head’ till she does what we want, the liberal international order is in trouble. But the root of the trouble doesn’t lie without; it lies within.

IRRUSSIANALITY


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Johnson’s Russia List: NEWSLINK: “Russia Seen Adopting New Tactics in U.S. Election Interference Efforts” – Reuters

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“Russian agents believed to be connected to the government have been active in spreading divisive content and promoting extreme themes ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. mid-term elections, but they are working hard to cover their tracks, according to government investigators, academics and security firms. Researchers studying the spread of disinformation on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other platforms say the new, subtler […]

Johnson’s Russia List


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Johnson’s Russia List: NEWSLINK: “VLAD’S KGB SPIES: Vladimir Putin has up to 75,000 Russian spies in Britain, shock report reveals; Dr Andrew Foxall revealed up to half of the 150,000 Russian ex-pats in Britain are feared to be spy service ‘assets’” – The Sun (UK)

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“Russia has up to 75,000 spies on our streets, a shock report claimed yesterday. Vladimir Putin’s army of spooks has risen five-fold in eight years, with 200 ‘case officers’ each handling hundreds of agents, it warned. …”  

Johnson’s Russia List


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