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July 6, 2022 1:21 pm

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1. Russia Blogs

Dances With Bears: DUTCH TREAT – DERK SAUER MAKES A MOSCOW COMEBACK FOR THE SAME OLD GANG


By John Helmer, Moscow Russia has grown up; Derk Sauer (lead image), boy scout for American, Dutch and NATO plots for Kremlin regime change since Boris Yeltsin left office, can’t. Under cover of Russian frontmen, he has bought back the Moscow Times, and put his son Pyotr in charge of opinion. The opinion is the […]

Dances With Bears


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Twitter Search / JohnsonRussiaLi: RUSSIALINK: “Putin reaffirms Russia’s plans to ratify Paris Agreement on climate change” – Interfax https://russialist.org/russialink-putin-reaffirms-russias-plans-to-ratify-paris-agreement-on-climate-change-interfax/ …


RUSSIALINK: “Putin reaffirms Russia’s plans to ratify Paris Agreement on climate change” – Interfax https://russialist.org/russialink-putin-reaffirms-russias-plans-to-ratify-paris-agreement-on-climate-change-interfax/ …

Twitter Search / JohnsonRussiaLi


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1. Russia Blogs

Johnson's Russia List: RUSSIALINK: “Putin reaffirms Russia’s plans to ratify Paris Agreement on climate change” – Interfax


ST. PETERSBURG. April 9 (Interfax) – Russia is committed to ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change after comprehensively analyzing it, but Russia’s role in maintaining environmental security in the Arctic should not be overestimated, President Vladimir Putin said. Speaking at the International Arctic Forum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, Putin corrected the mediator, who said that Russia is the […]

Johnson’s Russia List


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Video Clip Saying Putin Ordered Yevkurov to Give Land to Chechnya Attracting Attention


Paul Goble
            Staunton, April 10 – A video clip put out by the “Revolution of Consciousness” group, an anti-Kremlin organization, says that Vladimir Putin ordered Ingushetia’s Yunus-Bek Yevkurov to hand over 26,000 hectares of land to Chechnya last fall, an action that has triggered the demonstrations which have roiled his republic ever since.
            The 25-minute Youtube clip has already attracted 60,000 views and, although without corroboration of any kind, will likely have an impact in Ingushetia, leading some anti-Yevkurov to redirect their anger from him to Moscow but causing others to conclude he had no choice and is not the traitor they thought (youtube.com/watch?v=81BbjTuv9fE&fbclid=IwAR12-L7HmKwBsME80MEcy7XUmIEzwQdhIEJNBz1Ew5RDyvPVioTnqSJazYo).
            Meanwhile, arrests and court hearings continued in Ingushetia, and the Russian authorities shifted some of the Ingush prisoners to Kabardino-Balkaria in the hopes of using the trials to divide the Ingush and the Circassians, two groups that have been mutually supportive for some time.
            But this traditional divide-and-rule strategy doesn’t appear to be working this time, Israeli analyst Avraam Shmulyevich says. Instead, Circassian activists from the region have repeated their four-square support for the Ingush opposition as chief defenders now of the common cause of all non-Russians  and of Russians outside of Moscow (region.expert/circassia-ingushetia).
                Andzor Kabard says that “what is taking place in Ingushetia concerns not only the Ingush. The only people who have come into the streets and defended constitutional rights by peaceful means despite provocations by the Russian siloviki are the Ingush who have shown us what a small but free nation is capable of if its people are strong in spirit.”
            We Circassians number in the millions, mostly of course in Turkey. We love to talk about this. But for some reasons we do not go out into the streets in a comparable number.” The Ingush are showing the way.
            And Ibragim Yaganov seconds that idea: “Today the numerically small but grat Ingush people is in the avantgarde of the defense of the constitutional system.”
            But perhaps the most important comments about the direction things are moving in Ingushetia and the likelihood that Yevkurov will fail to calm the situation and will be replaced in good time comes from Tanzila Chabiyeva, a scholar at the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (caucasustimes.com/ru/tanzila-chabieva-o-tom-kakoj-budet-ingushetija-posle-repressij).
                She tells Prague’s Caucasus Times that Ingushetia “will never be what it was before” the protests began last fall.  The Ingush people do not accept the decision of the Russian Constitutional court, and they will “continue to struggle for their rights.”  Moreover, it appears that “this struggle will be quite prolonged.”
            The repressive actions of the republic government are only making the situation worse, she says. They are in no way leading to a resolution.
            According to Chabiyeva, “the authorities and civil society have distanced themselves one another to a dangerous point. This is obvious. The rating of the republic authorities is so loyal and the authority of the leadership has fallen so much that today we are already seeing a split in the closest entourage of Yevkurov. 
            Those closest to him “are leaving him.” That means, the ethnographer continues, that “the entire situation will be resolved in a short time but it will be resolved in an extremely radical way.”
            Yevkurov is very much involved in the repressions, Chabiyeva says. He is a military man and expects discipline. He may need Moscow’s help but he is very much behind the line his republic government is pursuing. But what it is doing is not suppressing dissent but exacerbating the situation.
            Moscow is supporting Yevkurov in the hopes that he can be successful, in order to avoid looking like it is backing down when faced with public pressure and so that the protests in that republic will not infect other republics in the region. Getting rid of Yevkurov right now would be a manifestation of weakness. 
            According to Chabiyeva, Moscow will get rid of Yevkurov relatively soon, after there is a pause in the protests; but it will replace him with another military type with close ties to the Presidential administration rather than the businessman or the economist many in Ingushetia would prefer to see in his place.

Window on Eurasia — New Series


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Washington Calls Russia-Backed Venezuela 'True Threat' To U.S., Urges Guaido Recognition


Washington has stepped up the rhetoric against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, calling his Russia-backed government a threat to the United States and urging the world to recognize his opponent as the legitimate ruler of the oil-rich South American country.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Trump 'Will Continue To Ratchet Up Pressure' On Iran, Pompeo Says


U.S. President Donald Trump will continue to increase pressure on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told the Senate.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

IRRUSSIANALITY: Mutual lack of introspection


Every so often, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) in Moscow publishes a forecast of where Russia and the world are headed in the near future.  At the end of last year, the Institute of International Relations in Prague published an English-language version of the latest IMEMO forecast in its journal New Perspectives. Now the journal has issued a set of responses to the forecast by several Western scholars and a member of IMEMO. They’re worth a brief look.

A common theme runs through all the responses. The authors all agree that when analyzing current East-West tensions, Russians have a tendency to see their own country as essentially reactive – that is to say that they portray Russia as simply responding to Western provocations. In doing so they deprive Russia of agency, and so deny that it may be in part responsible for the current crisis in Russian-Western relations. Instead, the West is held to be entirely at fault.

Thus Mark Galeotti, in the first response to the IMEMO forecast, remarks that, ‘What is most striking is that Russia is presented throughout this report as object, not actor. It may be a victim or a beneficiary, but the initiative is always elsewhere.’ This, he continues, ‘demonstrates a determination to paint Russia as the geopolitical victim, which is in itself a form of passivity, a sense of a country as lacking the capacity to influence, let alone master its fate.’

Likewise, Tuomas Forsberg of the University of Helsinki accuses the Russians of ‘attribution bias’, which ‘conveys the image that the criticism of Russia in Europe is mainly an outcome of malevolent intentions and not related to Russia’s own behavior.’ And Ruth Deyermond of King’s College London speaks of a ‘strengthened perception amongst Russian analysts and politicians that the US political establishment is irredeemably Russophobic’ and notes that Russian elites view foreign affairs through a ‘prism of grievance’.

I have some sympathy with these complaints. As IMEMO’s Irina Kobrinskaya writes in the final article in the journal, ‘While external factors certainly act on Russia, Russia also acts.’ Portraying oneself always as responding to the actions of others is a useful way of declining responsibility for one’s own behaviour, but also self-deceptive and liable to prevent one from a proper analysis of why one has ended up where one has. If Russians persist in viewing themselves solely as victims, then they’re unlikely to come up with constructive solutions to their problems.

But, as the saying goes, ‘it takes two to tango’. In another article in the journal, Minda Holm of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs speaks of a ‘mutual lack of introspection’. Holm complains that according to IMEMO,

the Russian state merely reacts to an antagonistic partner defined by ‘anti-Russian hysteria’, and nothing is said of where that sentiment, however exaggerated or unfair, emanates from. Whilst the roots of the ‘Russia factor’ lie in both past stereotypes and strategic needs, Russia’s own actions are also clearly part of the cause.

‘This form of one-sidedness is an impediment to any hope for an improved relationship’ says Holm. At the same time, however, she notes that Western analysts are equally guilty of the same intellectual failing. As she writes,

The current desire, and/or reflex, to cast Russia as an external enemy is strong in liberalWestern epistemic circles. Unwanted domestic political developments are often connected to Russia based on circumstantial evidence, and/or a reduction of the agency of others.

Thus, Holm concludes, ‘I am sympathetic to their [Russians’] critique of the tendency in self-defined liberal states to cast Russia as the enemy with little critical introspection.’ Russia-West relations’, she says, ‘seem locked in a mutual negative dynamic where nuances are increasingly left out of representations of the Other.’ Each side views themselves as purely reacting to the malign activity of the other. Each side therefore fails to understand its own responsibility for the breakdown in relations. What can done about this? ‘For a start,’ says Holm, ‘academics working on these questions have a particular responsibility not to fall into the traps of unproblematically reproducing simplified enemy images.’

Regular readers of this blog will hardly be surprised to learn that I completely agree. I would say also that it’s not enough just to understand that one has committed mistakes. Returning to the attribution error, it’s all too easy to designate one’s own misdeeds as ‘mistakes’ while attributing the misdeeds of one’s adversaries to their malignant character. Critical introspection has to go beyond admitting error and also involve admitting wrongdoing. The only caveat I would add is that in engaging in this critical introspection one shouldn’t overdo things. It’s one thing to understand that one’s own side has behaved badly; it’s another to then conclude that one’s own side is always wrong and the other side always right, and end up going full-blown Noam Chomsky or Gary Kasparov (a comparison which is probably a bit unfair on the former).

That caveat notwithstanding, let me finish by quoting the Gospel of St Matthew:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Every now and again I come across something I wish I’d written myself. ‘Mutual lack of critical introspection’ is a case in point. It hits the nail firmly on the head.

 

IRRUSSIANALITY


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Johnson's Russia List: JRL NEWSWATCH: “All About the U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Putin’s Russia” – Bloomberg/ Henry Meyer, Laurence Arnold, Olga Tanas, Tony Halpin


“… Since 2014, the U.S. has imposed travel bans, asset freezes and finance and trade restrictions against hundreds of Russian individuals and companies … a multinational effort …. 1. What U.S. sanctions are in place against Russia? More than 700 Russian people and companies have been targeted …. 2. Why were the sanctions imposed? … starting in 2014 after Russia […]

Johnson’s Russia List


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Johnson's Russia List: JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s New Gold Rush Could Shake Up the International Monetary System; Russia and China might be considering a gold-backed digital currency.” – Moscow Times/ Bruno Macaes


“Russia is buying … [a] lot of gold … quadrupl[ing] reserves [within a decade]. Gold buying last year exceeded mine supply for the first time … Russia is about to become a net importer …. Are the Russian authorities preparing for a renewed clash with the United States … attempting to reduce … vulnerability to … sanctions? Or do they […]

Johnson’s Russia List


Categories
1. Russia Blogs

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Number of Marriages and Number of Divorces Both Falling in Russia – and Possibly for Same Reasons


Paul Goble
            Staunton, April 10 – The Russian justice ministry reports that the number of marriages and the number of divorces in Russia have fallen sharply in recent years, with experts providing a wide variety of explanations. Some say that both trends reflect the uncertainties many feel as a result of economic hardship or international threats.
            Others, in contrast, insist that these figures are simply the result of the declining number of people in the prime marriage cohort and that when that number goes up as the number of people in it increases, there will be more marriages and possibly as a result of that alone more divorces as well.
            Andrey Vaganov, the editor of NG-Nauka, uses these figures and these different explanations for them as ways to approach the challenges the Russian government faces as it has committed itself in the  Demographics National Project to boosting the birthrate over the next seven years (ng.ru/nauka/2019-04-09/9_10_7552_wedding.html).
            The number of marriages and the number of divorces are both falling. In 2018, there were 967,056 marriages, down 21 percent from the figure in 2013 when 1,226,353 couples married.  Ove the same period, the number of divorces in Russia fell from 696,688 to 613,042 – or approximately 12 percent.
            Some observers, like Moscow sociologist Leonid Byzov, say uncertainty both economic and geopolitical is driving both: those who haven’t married aren’t ready to assume the risks, and those who are already married don’t know what might happen if they divorced.  In sum, having a foreign enemy explains both.
            But Tatyana Gurko of the Moscow Institute of Sociology disagrees. She says having a foreign enemy doesn’t explain what is happening.  Instead, she says, the lower number of marriages reflects the declining size of the age cohort most likely to get married. When that cohort increases in number, so too will the number of marriages.
            But the size of that cohort isn’t going to increase anytime soon. Most demographers now predict that by 2025, the number of Russians aged 20 to 29 will in fact fall by 50 percent of its already low current figure.  Other stimuli will be needed, and some are pressing for family life courses in Russian schools.
            According to Gurko, “marriage relations in Russia today are already not those of traditional societies such as in Muslim countries, with high rates of marriage and a low level of divorces but not yet those of Western post-industrial societies” where living together, childbirth outside of marriage and a relatively low level of divorces.”
            One problem with Russian statistics is that Moscow does not count those living together, and therefore the government understates the number of couples who could have children.   The number of such arrangements is increasing, the sociologist says, but there are no exact figures as to how much. 
            A European investigation, ESS-2016, found that among those aged 20 to 23, there are just as many Russians living together as there are in Sweden, about 21 percent in each case. Some of these couples may eventually marry, pushing up the marriage rate to begin with and the divorce rate later.

Window on Eurasia — New Series