Friday, February 27, 2015

Ten Disturbing Developments In and Around Russia

Paul Goble


            Staunton, February 27 – Disturbing events are happening with such dizzying speed that it is impossible to keep up with all of them. Indeed, this flood seems to be part of the Kremlin’s strategy to overload everyone’s cognitive system so that no adequate assessment or response can be developed or employed.


            The last few days have been especially full of such developments both large and apparently small that are at risk of being ignored as new events push them out of the news cycle. Although it is far from complete, here is a list of ten such reports that must not be ignored or forgotten:


  1. Moscow has Put Nuclear-Capable Rockets in Crimea, Cemilev Says.  Mustafa Cemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement, says that Moscow has now concentrated more than 40,000 troops in the Russian-occupied peninsula and equipped them with nuclear-capable rockets (
  2. Russia Annexed Crimea Three Weeks Before the Referendum, Russian Court Actions Show.  Russian courts are treating the annexation of Crimea as having occurred three weeks before the referendum Vladimir Putin has said ratified the action, yet another way in which what the Kremlin has said and what are the facts on the ground are quite far apart (
  3. Bashkirs Urged to Put Aside Six Months of Their Incomes to Prepare for Massive Layoffs. Rustem Mardanov, the vice prime minister of Bashkortostan, has told citizens of his republic that they should begin putting aside six months of their income in savings in order to cope with what he suggested would be massive and long-lasting layoffs in the future, a comment that has done nothing to reassure people in the Middle Volga (
  4. Even Systemic Opposition Parties Not Safe from Police Raids.  Police in Makhachkala dispersed an official meeting of the Daghestan regional organization of Just Russia, an indication that the Putin regime is now prepared to go after members of the systemic opposition in much the same way it has pursued the non-systemic groups (
  5. FSB Wants Study of Russian-Language Skills of Baltic Nations and Ukrainians.  The FSB has published a tender offer for a study of how well ethnic Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Ukrainians speak Russian.  The Russian security agency wants it completed by September 2017. Such a study by itself is disturbing: the FSB isn’t supposed to be involved in that kind of foreign affairs activity. But it is even more frightening because of Moscow’s aggressive stance toward the four groups and their countries (
  6. Duma Considers Renaming Simferopil Putinoslavl to Honor Current Russian President.  In yet another example of the growing cult of personality of Vladimir Putin, the Russian legislature is considering renaming the Crimean city of Simferopil after him. It has already approved monuments to him in various places (
  7. Pro-Moscow Party Formed in Poland.  A new pro-Russian political party, “Zmiana” or “Change” has been organized in Poland. Its leaders have backed the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and the actions of the LNR and DNR militants (
  8. Hit by Hard Economic Times, Russians are Buying Fewer Pets and Pet Stores are Closing. One of the signs of improved lives in post-Soviet times was the acquisition of pets by many in Russia and elsewhere, but now that times are tough, Russians are purchasing 30 to 70 percent fewer dogs, cats and other pets and pet stores are closing throughout the country (
  9. Imprisoned Ukrainian Flier Now Near Death.  Supporters of Nadezha Savchenko, the Ukrainian pilot held in a Moscow jail and on hunger strike, say that she is now near death and could pass away any time.  They have called on the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society to take action to save her (
  10. UN Should Go the Way of the League of Nations, Moscow Commentator Says. As if the Kremlin had not given the world enough reasons to compare what is happening now with what happened in Europe in the 1930s, Anna Shafran, a Moscow commentator, argues that the United Nations has become so politically biased against Russia that it should go the way of the League of Nations, close shop and allow a new and better organization to take its place (

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