Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Putin Set Up Unit that Blew Up Apartment Blocks in 1999 a Year ahead of Time, Kruglov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – Drawing on his contacts that he had developed with the criminal world during his first years in the KGB, Vladimir Putin in 1998 when he was head of the Russian FSB created the mixed intelligence-criminal group that blew up the apartment blocks the following year and powered him to the presidency, Artyom Kruglov says.

            The man behind the Putinism portal (putinism.wordpress.com/) and the 12-part YouTube serial, “Putinism as It Is” (youtube.com/playlist?list=PLU5ERRTOxFWQVteyeU5f-b2R5xWq6Vun4), provides details in the course of an interview he gave to Dmitry Volchek of Radio Svoboda (svoboda.org/a/30513127.html).

            Putin, Kruglov says, created the FSB’s Special Assignments Center in 1998 by combining the Alpha anti-terrorist spetsnaz groups with the Vympel group of professional diversionists and “a certain super-secret subdivision which initially was called the special operations service and then became Administration S.”

            The last includes both professional FSB officers and people from prominent criminal groups, many of whom Putin came into contact with in the murkiest part of his KGB career, the five years before he was dispatched to Dresden, the analyst says. 

            “The closest ties of the Special Assignments Center were with the organized criminal group in Izmailovo. The Center is its protector.” Over the last two decades, the regime has gone after all kinds of criminal groups but not this one, an indication of its special relationship with the Kremlin leader.

            Kruglov suggests that there is “yet another moment of the history of the Izmailovo criminal group: In 1993 Yeltsin disbanded the Vympel group when it refused to storm the Supreme Soviet. Immediately 600 well prepared diversionists and liquidators found themselves on the street.”

            The Izmailovo group took them in and then five years later, Putin as head of the FSB integrated both in his special group which he was then in a position to use for criminal acts such as the bombings in 1999 as well as various “wet” operations against his opponents at home and abroad.

            As a result, Kruglov argues, “the Izmailovo group even now is the most powerful criminal syndicate of Russia.” And this means, he continues, that “we must look truth in the face and recognize that a criminal-Chekist of the very worst kind rules in Russia.” Those involved are all “covered with blood,” involved in theft and other criminal activities.

            But Putin’s decision in 1998 did not come out of nowhere, the analyst says. Its roots are to be found in the period between 1979 and 1985 when the future president was a KGB officer whose job of trying to entrap foreigners required him to work with “criminal and anti-social elements” including “prostitutes of both sexes, illegal traders in goods, and those involved with illegal currency exchanges.”

            Out of that milieu and from that experience, Putin gained the contacts and allies that he used to become president and has used to stay there. 

Muscovite Opposition along with Russian State Moving Backwards toward Medievalism, Degtyanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – Russia has been moving backwards since the 1990s, Andrey Degtyanov says. The movement in that direction by the state first towards the pre-Soviet past and then towards a combination of that with the Soviet one that has driven back well before the tsarist period.

            That has attracted a great deal of attention and some alarm, the political analyst says; but less attention and consequently less alarm has been generated by a parallel process, the movement of the  political opposition centered in Moscow in the same direction with its central issues shifting from democratic rights to the issue of whether the tsar is genuine or not.

            And that movement has been accelerated not slowed by the entrance of large numbers of young people into the opposition movement because the only model they have is not that of those in the past who pursued democracy but rather that of those who are opposing the current “tsar” in the name of a “true” one (region.expert/reverse/).

            The latest example of the slide toward medievalism by the state is the spectacle of Putin like some medieval prince being asked to rule, as Pavel Luzin has pointed out, an archaism about which more than enough has been written (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/putins-being-asked-to-rule-only-latest.html).

            But a similar “process of archaization affected the opposition even earlier than it did the powers that be,” Degtyanov says. Until 2011/2012, the opposition focused on the goals of democracy, on legitimate elections, and even formed a Coordinating Council which it clearly hoped would be the Russian version of Solidarity.

            But instead of that, this organization fell apart and the opposition became an underground movement concerned above all with challenging Putin as “the false tsar” and inevitably generating a true “pretender” in the person of Aleksey Navalny, whether he personally wanted this or not.

            As a result, after 2013 and even before the emergence of the Crimean consensus, the opposition adopted as its key slogan, “the tsar is not real.”  And thus, in large measure, “the authoritarian-personalist character of the presidential autocracy called to live a similarly authoritarian-personalist opposition.”

            By 2019 with Putin in his third term, the Kremlin was caught by its own “move to the past,” as was the opposition. “The clear inability of the authorities to create over the last ten years an at least partially working semi-party system transformed the transition in 2024 into a dynastic crisis,” potentially “opening the era of boyar tsars in place of ‘the national leader.’”

            Any hypothetical successor was thus “condemned to be not the heir to the throne but someone put forward by this or that boyar grouping,” Degtyanov says. That has thrown Russia back to the times of Boris Gudonov, an especially dangerous development at a time of global epidemics.

            In the 17th century, “the war between the boyar tsars and the pretenders ultimately ceased” when “’the deep people’ of the Russian middle ages” came together in support of “self-administration without Muscovite boyars and against them.  It is an open question whether something similar might happen again, the analyst says.

            Clearly, however, “the lastest cycle of imperial history is rapidly moving toward its end,” thus opening “a window of possibilities” which neither the state mired in the past nor the current Moscow opposition which is mired in that same past seems capable of exploiting. And that means that the future of Russia may be defined not by either but by those beyond the ring road.

A Million Cars Said to Have Left Moscow as Fear of Coronavirus Spread

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 28 – According to a letter posted by political analyst Marat Bashirov, “approximately one million” cars left Moscow as the coronavirus infection spikes in the Russian capital and just before the days immediately preceding the imposition of restrictions intended to fight it.

            That figure is likely exaggerated, but even if the actual one was only half of that, this would mean that more than a million Muscovites have left their homes because of fears of the coronavirus or of concerns about the limitations on their lives they expected to be imposed as a result (censoru.net/2020/03/28/iz-moskvy-za-sutki-vyehalo-okolo-milliona-avto-naselenie-panikuet-i-gotovitsja-k-hudshemu.html).

            The letter Bashirov posts suggests that in some nearby Russian cities the hotels are full and many of the Muscovites – identifiable by their license places – are being taken in as paying guests by local people.  The towns the writer mentioned did not have coronavirus cases before this wave arrived, but it is entirely possible that they do now.

            In reporting this story, the Censoru portal says, that “Russians are making the very same mistake that Italians did at the start of the pandemic. As soon as the coronavirus spread through the major cities of Italy, residents immediately fled from these centers of infection” and by so doing spread it to smaller cities and rural areas.

            It adds that “a pandemic spreads very rapidly. A difficult situation with regard too th e coronavirus is already observed in Moscow Oblast and St. Petersburg.” There are cases in more than three-quarters of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation, including occupied Crimea and Stavropol.

            Russians are also experiencing another problem that other countries face: price-gouging by producers and sellers of goods in short supply be they things like masks directly related to the disease or those less so such as alcohol (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2020/03/28/826472-rossiiskie-postavschiki-alkogolya).