Monday, June 24, 2024

Fragging Appears in Russian Units in Ukraine, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ Suggests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 17 – Fragging -- attacks on officers by soldiers under their command and a phenomenon that was notorious in the US military in Vietnam as well as in Soviet forces in Afghanistan as well -- is now taking place in Russian units in Ukraine, data collected by Novaya Gazeta suggest.

            The independent paper examined military court records in the occupied territories between February and October 2023. It identified more than 135 cases in which Russian soldiers were charged with killing either civilians or other Russian military personnel (

            These figures are necessarily incomplete both because of the limited time and territory they covered, the paper acknowledges, and because not all crimes of this type are brought to the courts or correctly categorized. Consequently, the real numbers may be far higher, the paper suggests.

            But even these numbers are indicative of breakdowns in command and control and unit cohesion that threaten the ability of the Russian military to carry out its mission, prompting officers to avoid giving orders that might lead to their own deaths at the hands of their own soldiers.

            And to the extent that such cases become more widely known, fragging of this kind will certainly prompt discussions among Russians in general and those in the political elite about the potentially dangerous consequences of continuing to pursue the Kremlin’s military goals and could even lead to demands for changes in both tactics and strategy.

Putin’s Recent Personnel Moves Threaten to Spark Conspiracies Against Him, Eidman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 18 – Over the course of the last month, Vladimir Putin has offended large swaths of his entourage by firing or demoting officials but leaving them or their supporters in position of real power where there is a growing possibility that at least some of them may engage in conspiracies to oust him from power, Igor Eidman says.

            Indeed, the Russian commentator argues, “never before in the Putin leadership have their been so many people who have been offended by the dictator” (

By his actions, Eidman says, Putin has seriously offended influential “clans” headed by Patrushev, Shoygu, and generals from the defense ministry as well as senior officials in the Presidential Administration and the wealthy partners of all these people in business and elsewhere.

“None of this would have been a problem for Putin if he had acted in a Stalinist manner and had the offended been sent to the camps. But they haven’t been dealt with in this way and preserve their positions in power.” And as a result, the commentator continues, Putin himself “has created a seedbed” for a revolt by those nominally closest to him.

Almost all of the officials who have been demoted or seen their positions weakened, including Patrushev, Shoygu, Gerasimov, and Kiryenko, still retain real power and influence; and having been “mortally offended” by Putin, they may decide to act against him before he can take even more steps against themselves.


Putin Must Avoid Kolchak’s Mistakes on National Question, ‘Soveshenno Sekretno’ Historian Suggests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 17 – The Russian past offers many lessons for the present and not just those the current powers that be want people to draw. Among those unlearned lessons, Sergey Lozenko of Sovershenno Sekretno says, is one that comes from the disasters that followed from Aleksandr Kolchak’s failure to take the nationality question seriously.

            In a 2,000-word article entitled “Kolchak’s Nationality Question,” the historian says what the leaders of the White Movement routinely underestimated the importance of ethnic issues and believed that any problems in that area could be solved by force alone. The result was disaster (

            Lozenko devotes particular attention to the ways in which Kolchak ignored and then sought to repress Ukrainian nationalism in the Russian Far East. His intelligence operatives told him that ethnic Ukrainians there wanted to split off that region from Russia and that he had no choice but to use force against them.

            That is precisely what he did, alienating many Ukrainians there and driving some of them into the hands of the Bolsheviks. But at the same time, Kolchak chose to rely on units raised by Ukrainian military leaders, only to see these forces later change sides and fight against him including at the Volga, thus preventing a link up with Denikin that might have led to victory.

            The details Lozenko provides are fascinating and convincing. But it is his conclusion about Kolchak’s failure and the lessons it has for today that are especially noteworthy. He writes that the inability of the White Russian leaders to “realize the significance of nationality policy and provide a unifying idea for the representatives of the peoples in Russia led to disaster.”

            And he ends by asserting that “it is necessary to draw lessons from this history in order to promptly identify and forestall challenges that are emerging today.” Few who read his article will fail to see the parallels he is drawing between Ukrainians then and now and between Admiral Kolchak and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Russian Victims of Natural Disasters Send Record Number of Complaints to Putin, Kremlin Admits

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – Russian victims of flooding and fires sent more than 2500 complaints to Vladimir Putin during April and May complaining about the failure of the authorities to help them, a number far in excess of the figures registered in 2019 before the pandemic and the war in Ukraine occurred, the Kremlin has acknowledged.

            According to the Kremlin, almost a third of these complaints came from Orenburg Oblast alone, the hardest hit region in the Russian Federation situated between Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan (, and

            While the Putin regime may be pleased that Russians choose to write to Putin about their problems rather than to any one else, its officials can hardly welcome the fact that these data suggest that Russians are ever more ready to complain in a public and entirely identifiable way about things that hit their lives directly.

Russian Opposition Paralyzed by Fear of Choice Between Centralization and Disintegration, Guseynov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 16 – One of the most serious weaknesses of the Russian opposition, Gasan Guseynov says, is a lack of a vocabulary which could allow it to overcome its paralyzing fear “before the choice between a centralized Russian state and a multiplicity of new states which could arise on the territory of the present-day Russian Federation.”

            The Paris-based Russian philologist says that the words leaders of the opposition use not only prevent them from seeing just how far Russia has moved to becoming a Russian nation state but also prevent them from being able to navigate between centralizers now in power and those who advocate disintegration as the only way forward (россия/20240616-с-чего-начинается-освобождение-языка).

            The word “disintegration” frightens them to the point that they cannot respond adequately when it is mentioned. As a result, they don’t recognize how small that threat is now that Russia is becoming a nation state and thus find themselves in an alliance with the centralizing imperialists and thus make the possibility of disintegration far greater.

            Is it really better for Russian people today living in the vastness of Eurasia to have a single aggressive and unjust state rather than several additional compact and peace-loving states named for example after large Russian cities or regions?”  the philologist asks rhetorically. But the vocabulary the Russian opposition uses prevents this from even being discussed.

            Instead, Guseynov says, those in the opposition who dream of “a beautiful Russia of the future … forbid representatives of the Russian minorities from even mentioning the possibility of ‘the collapse of Russia.” And still worse, they tell the latter to “’know their place’” lest in saying anything about changing relations between center and periphery they frighten people.

Muslims Moving Beyond the Umma into Russian Establishment

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – Kazan’s Business Online has offered its list of the 100 most influential Muslims in the Russian Federation. The most striking thing about the list is that these influentials are now in the Russian establishment government or business rather than at the top of the Muslim Spiritual Directorates (MSDs) which oversee the umma in that country.

            Among the top 10 of these influential Muslims, only three are leaders of the Muslim community as usually understood: Ravil Gainutdin, head of the MSD of Russia, Talgat Tajuddin, head of the Central MSD in Ufa, and Albir Krganov, head of the Spiritual Assembly of Russia (

            The others are government officials, Duma members and business leaders, a pattern that holds for the other 90 Muslims on the list, and clear testimony to the fact that Muslims now have multiple ways of rising to the top of Russian society and are not nearly as ghettoized as some would like and many more continue to believe is the case. 

Navalny Team’s ‘Traitors’ Affecting Russian Opposition Much as Khrushchev’s 1956 Secret Speech Affected Communists, Zharkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – The new film, Traitors, prepared by Navalny’s Foundation for the Struggle with Corruption, is having an impact on the Russian opposition comparable to that which Khrushchev’s secret speech in 1956 had on communists both in the USSR and around the world, according to Vasily Zharkov.

            In both cases, the Russian activist who is now at the European University of the Humanities in Vilnius says, they attacked an earlier leader, Yeltsin in the film and Stalin in the speech, for betraying the principles in which he supposedly acted and opened the way for the recovery of those principles (

            Just as Khrushchev’s attack on Stalin gave “the children of the 20th congress” the opportunity to seek to restore Leninism so now the film is giving “a new generation of Russian politicians, the generation of the children of Aleksey Navalny” the opportunity to propose “their version of a democratic future and a path to a more just, equal and free society.”

            “In the eyes of most Russians, the terms ‘democracy’ and ‘liberalism’ were seriously discredited by the policy of Yeltsin and his team.” If they are to be revived, they must be freed of that burden, something that requires “an analysis of the mistakes of previous political generations” and a rejection of their discredited approaches.

            Comparing the new film with the 1956 congress is “of course, a metaphor.” There are many differences, but these two events are “turning points for the history of ideologies and the political history of Russia.” The 20th congress began “the long process of revising ideas of socialism;” the new film, the ideology of liberalism and democracy.

            “In criticizing Stalin, Khrushchev called for returning to ‘Leninist principles’ but not to tsarist times.” In criticizing Yeltsin, the new film is doing something similar, not calling for a return to Soviet times but to fulfilling the promises of democracy and freedom that Yeltsin failed to keep.

            That demolishes what had been a long-standing consensus in the liberal opposition: say nothing about Yeltsin or speak only good about him.” Now what the first Russian president did to subvert democracy and freedom can be openly discussed by a new generation of opposition figures without any suggestion that the alternative is a return to Sovietism a la Putin.

            For the opposition, criticism of Yeltsin has been “finally legalized,” and that has triggered a fight between the older generation of opposition figures who backed his “good tsar” approach to introducing the ideology but not the substance of freedom and democracy and those who want those values in forms that allow them to be pursued.

            What happened under Yeltsin was the establishment of “freedom exclusively in a negative sense, freedom from government oversight but not freedom for participation in the affairs of the state and society. The state and the people for a time turned out to be free from one another, but a decade later, the state retook what it had lost,” Zharkov says.

            Most of the earlier opposition leaders have fled abroad but there they lost social capital and “committed a fatal mistake,” he continues. That mistake, which consists of “a fear of the people alongside the absolutization of the role of the market,” remains for them what it was for Russian liberal dogmatists of the 1990s, the only way forward.

            Their attitude can be summed up in the following way: In addressing the people, they say “you are rabble so you don’t deserve anything good in your life. You will never have democracy but must instead recognize our privileges and power over you in Russia because we are your intellectual elite.”

            “Such a message,” Zharkov points out, “does not make democratic ideas more popular across society.” Instead, by taking that position, “Russian liberals have driven themselves into a ghetto from they can escape only by returning to empathy for their fellow citizens,” something a younger generation of the opposition is willing to do.

            “Unlike the heirs of the old Soviet pop nobility who flourished in the 1990s,” the commentator says, “these people do not consider themselves ‘an elite’ and are much closer to understanding the needs and aspirations of the mass population.” They don’t view their fellow countrymen “as a rabble but rather as people worthy of living in an equal and free society.”

            The new film will speed this process as it is “high time” for “the Russian opposition to leave the pseudo-elite ghetto” it has been in and instead “learn to speak with the people in a respectful way and in clearly understandable language,” Zharkov concludes.


Monday, June 17, 2024

Putin Arose Because Russian Reformers of 1990s Focused on Privatizing Economy Rather than on Creating a New Political System, Chernova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 11 – Russian liberal reformers in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the rise of a ruler like Putin by using despotic means to achieve the liberal goal of privatizing the economy rather than seeking to create a new political system that would institutionalize conflicts, Elena Chernova says.

            The St. Petersburg sociologist who specializes in the study of conflict says that by acting in this way, the reformers allowed those like Putin who favored a despotic approach to all things to rise to power because they set the precedent and failed to create countervailing institutions (

            “The reformers have entered history as liberals because they freed the economy from the rule of the CPSU and proclaimed a free market,” she argues; “but on the political level, they acted in the typical despotic approach to the country as an economic system.” That subverted their own goals and made the return of authoritarianism inevitable.

            The Russian economy “beyond doubt” needed to be restructured, “but the political system needed to be created from scratch.” Instead of focusing on that, the reformers argued that “democracy would have to be developed after the introduction of ‘elements’ of capitalism.” And as is not always appreciated, that departed from what Gorbachev was trying to do.

            “Gorbachev’s reforms,” Chernova continues, “were directed above all at the development of ‘glasnost and pluralism,’ that is on the creation of a republic political milieu. But after 1991, Boris Yeltsin led a team of reformers for whom politics was equated with economics and pluralism was an afterthought.” The clash of October 1993 highlighted this change.

            The Yeltsin government, “armed with the only true economic doctrine of the free market, sought to quickly get into a bright future” [stress supplied, just as the Soviet government had]. The conflict was acute and was fundamentally different than anything that had occurred in public in Soviet times.

            But instead of viewing this as progress to a new Russia, “Yeltsin labelled it a destructive vicious cycle he had to break” to ensure that his position won and resistance was destroyed. As a result, “the liquidation of the ‘retrograde’ parliament was not the beginning of the end of democracy but the restoration of the traditional despotic type of government” Russia has had.

            As a result, a Putin figure became almost inevitable.

Chernova does not say but very much could have that the approach of the Russian liberals in the 1990s was in fact supported by Western governments who were quite prepared to declare Russia a democracy even though it wasn’t as long as the regime dismantled the state-controlled economy and blocked the return of the communism.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Patriotic Education in Russia Both Broadly Similar and Very Different from Its Soviet Predecessor, Vinogradov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 11 – Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the Petersburg Politics Foundation, says that the content of patriotic education in Russia under Vladimir Putin shows 10 important continuities with that of Soviet times but varies in 20 equally important ways by what it leaves out and what it includes.

            The continuities ( include:

1.     Positive assessment of country’s past rulers except for immediate predecessors,

2.     Identification of the country, state and people with the current regime,

3.     Emphasis on country’s exceptionalism,

4.     Ideological loyalty based on birth or citizenship,

5.     Presenting West as main threat to the country,

6.     Emphasizing weakness, injustice and approaching collapse of opposing countries,

7.     Support for countries in the third world who are opposed to the colonial and imperial west,

8.     Glorification of military service,

9.     Government pressure on family to promote these values, and

10.  Avoidance of any reflection of social stratification or divisions within one’s own country.

The 10 features of Putin-era propaganda that were not found in its Soviet predecessor.

1.     Promotion of patriotism as the key ideological element,

2.     Promotion of traditionalism and emphasis on threats from minorities of various kinds,

3.     Promotion of cultural homogenization as an ideological goal,

4.     Backing for geopolitical rivalry and the creation of a multi-polar world,

5.     Emphasis on and unconditional priority for national interests that remain undefined,

6.     Appeals to the use of nuclear weapons as the argument of last resort.

7.     Playing down of the value of international partnerships,

8.     Presentation of China as the primary ally,

9.     Moral sympathy for those who engage in violence, and

10.  Support for the idea that the previous century was “golden.” 

And the 10 principles found in Soviet patriotic propaganda that are not found in the Putin-era variant:

1.     Internationalism,

2.     Atheism,

3.     Humanism,

4.     Progressivism,

5.     Anti-Capitalism,

6.     Criticism of consumption,

7.     Collectivism and egalitarianism,

8.     Any talk about the obligation of the state to the citizenry

9.     Encouragement of social mobility, and

10.  The struggle for peace and disarmament.

Putin Working to Reduce Nations within Russia to Status of Ethnic Groups, Sidorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 15 – Since coming to power in 2000, Vladimir Putin has consistently worked to reduce the peoples within the current borders of the Russian Federation from self-standing nations, as proclaimed in the 1993 Russian constitution to mere Russian-speaking ethnic groups, Kharun (Vadim) Sidorov says.

            This change in terms, one long promoted by neo-Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin ( and former nationalities minister Valery Tishkov (, is no small thing, the Prague-based specialist on ethnic issues says (

            Instead, it is fateful because once the peoples of the Russian Federation are reduced from the status of nations to that of ethnic groups, they are put on the road to losing their republics and their languages and becoming component parts of the only remaining nation in the country, the ethnic Russians.

            While many in Western countries may have no problem with this change, viewing it as nothing more than bringing Russia into line with what their countries have gone through in the past and now enshrine as completely acceptable, two aspects of Russian policy show why this is a mistake, Sidorov continues.

            On the one hand, Moscow is reducing nationality to ethnicity by suggesting that festivals are the best manifestation of the latter and working to eliminate distinctions between nations within the Russian Federation and ethnic groups with roots in other countries where those groups are defended as nations.

            And on the other, Moscow’s approach stops when it comes to the ethnic Russians not only within the country but especially beyond its borders where the Russian government demands that other states protect Russians as a nation and opposes all efforts to reduce them to the status of an ethnic group speaking the language of the state in which it exists.

            Sidorov’s important reflections on this point have been prompted by events in Mordvinia, a place where there are two nations submerged by Soviet and Russian policy to an artificial Mordvin identity and where these are equated with registered Cossack and diaspora groups and where all concerned are being compelled to speak Russian and ultimately to reidentify as such.   


Moscow Continues to Restrict Data It Releases but in Incomplete and Inconsistent Ways, ‘To Be Precise’ Portal Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 9 – Since February 2022, when Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine, Russian government agencies have stopped publishing almost 600 datasets; and they continue to shut them down, the To Be Precise portal says. But they have been doing so in incomplete and inconsistent ways.

            This trend, however, has been both incomplete and inconsistent. Sometimes the authorities have removed the data from one table or another but continued to put it up in another; and sometimes, they have stopped publishing data on a subject altogether but issued other data that allows these data to be easily calculated (

            Obviously, the portal says, less data is available to researchers; and it is more difficult for them to do their work. But many agencies have their own agendas as to what is released and what is not, and perhaps most importantly, the government as a whole finds it increasingly difficult to do its work when data isn’t released either at all or in comparable ways.

            A February 2024 law was supposed to introduce a certain consistency in what the ministries and agencies of the Russian government released. It required that any government body seeking to stop releasing data seek approval from the council of ministers. But that rule has been ignored in many cases, the portal says.

            That the Putin regime is trying to hide anything related to combat losses in Ukraine and other highly sensitive information is obvious. That it is doing so in a rational and centralized way, however, is equally clear and means that for the time being, much that the Kremlin wants hidden is still available to researchers prepared to spend more time and effort.

            This pattern is likely to continue because much of the data the Kremlin wants hidden is important for a wide variety of government agencies; and if the data is not released at all and if the government doesn’t have an effective system of distributing data secretly, then many of these agencies will be flying blind as they attempt to carry out their jobs.  

Saturday, June 15, 2024

In 1991, the Russian People Wanted a Sovereign Russia, were Ready to Give Up the Empire to Get It and thus Opened the Way to the Disintegration of USSR, Tsipko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 10 – By accusing Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Western governments of being behind the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Tsipko says, the Putin regime seeks to conceal what for it is a most unwelcome truth: at the end of Soviet times, it was Russians and no one else who wanted a sovereign Russia and were ready to give up the empire to get it.

            According to the senior Russian commentator who was deeply involved in Russian political life in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the USSR’s disintegration, which Putin calls the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century, was “the sovereign choice of the Russian people” (

            Tsipko points out that the idea of a sovereign Russia was formulated and promoted by Russian ruralist writers, a group especially close to the thinking and feeling of the Russian people and distant from many democrats and certainly the West, at the RSFSR Writers’ Congress in 1988.

            Aleksandr Yakovlov, then a close advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and someone often presented by the Putinists as “a CIA agent” who supposedly undermined the Soviet Union, advised Tsipko, then one of his aides, at the time that “you should read it and you will understand how the disintegration of the USSR began.”

            “I can give many other examples to show that today’s historians who are putting out conspiracy theories and linking all the events of post-Soviet history to a project of the CIA do not in fact have the slightest idea about what happened in the country after Stalin and what in fact led to the collapse of the USSR,” the Russian commentator says.

            Indeed, Tsipko continues, “all this conspiracy theory is designed to conceal” that the Russians themselves having suffered the depredations of Soviet power wanted sovereignty for a Russian country and were not ready to go into the streets to fight for the preservation of the old empire.

            The commentator notes that he personally was “at the time a categorical opponent of the disintegration of the USSR, spoke against sovereignty for the RSFSR, and, understood, even with Yakovlev’s comments, that the idea of sovereignty would lead to the demise of historical Russia.”

            But despite that, Tsipko says, Boris Yeltsin was positively inclined toward him and in December 1992 even proposed that Tsipko become minister for nationality affairs. The current Russian commentator says he rejected that proposal because he “felt that sooner or later this would end in blood, and already in October 1993 my fears were proved true.”

            Despite what today’s conspiracy theorists say, “today one must see the truth” and it is this: Yeltsin, “who really after his March 1991 meeting with striking Kememovo miners took the decision to actively support the idea of sovereignty for the RSFSR fulfilled he deep  demands of the Russian people.”

            The Beloveshcha accords that put the final nail in the coffin of the USSR were “based on the deep-seated need of the Russians to get rid of the empire, where they had never been a metropolis and where they lived at least during Soviet times even worse than the other peoples” under Moscow’s rule, Tsipko argue.

            “Today’s patriots,” he points out, “have forgotten what was heard everywhere especially in 1991 – ‘stop feeding the Caucasus,’ ‘stop feeding Ukraine,’ and ‘we must give all the natural reserves of Russia to its people” rather than to anyone else. Thus, “the idea of killing the empire belonged to the Russian people of the USSR” who were tired of living in poverty.

            These reflections, Tsipko says, arise when he and others visit the Yeltsin Center that some in Moscow want to close. Not only what is one display there but even more what is not sends a cleare message. In the museum, there is no reference to the fact that the Russian people and above all the Muscovites didn’t support the coup” in August 1991.

            That is an important truth. A second, which is not mentioned in the museum, is that “no one protested against the Beloveshcha agreements” or that Soviet officers who had sworn loyalty to the USSR and the CPSU almost to a man changed sides overnight and supported Yeltsin and Russian sovereignty.

            Another truth that everyone should remember despite efforts to get them to forget by accusing Yeltsin of treason and betrayal is this: “After the defeat of the GKChP, after Yeltsin’s glorious victory, there was no political foce which could have opposed the disintegration of the USSR.”

            Democratic Russia actively supported the idea of the disintegration of the USSR, and that political force in fact “actively cooperated with the Democratic Party of the US.” But the American government under President George H.W. Bush, did not favor the coming apart of the USSR and spoke against it in Kyiv on August 1.

            Tsipko says that he knows that to be the case on the basis of a month-long visit he paid to Washington at the time.

            Within Gorbachev’s command, the commentator continues, there were “only three people – Georgy Shakhnazarov, Andrey Grachev, and himself who actively resisted the idea of the sovereignization of the RSFSR.” The others followed what they were confident were the views of the majority of the Russian people rather than someone else, whatever the Putinists say.

Kazakhs Demand Reversal of Astana’s Decision to Impose Single Time Zone in Kazakhstan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 9 – Kazakhstan, which extends more than 3,000 km east to west, has had two time zones since Soviet times; but on March 1, Astana, in the name of national unity, decreed that all regions operate would henceforth function within a single time zone. The results? Popular outrage and the possibility that the government will back down.

            The Russian Federation has a long history of protests about time zones and day light savings time adjustments, with the most recent outbursts taking place in 2010 when Moscow sought to reduce the number of times zones in Russia from 11 to nine, a decision popular anger led the center to reverse (

            Now something similar is taking place in Kazakhstan. According to the Fergana news agency, people in northeastern portions of the country are angry about a change which means they do not have as many hours of daylight after work as they did. And they are expressing their anger openly (

            Kazakhstan citizens have gathered 41,000 of the 50,000 signatures they need on a petition that would require the government to reverse course; and a government commission has been sent to the region to try to mollify the population by assuring that the government will listen to the people (

            Whether Astana will back down remains to be seen. It seems likely that it will. But the fact that protests have arisen over this issue is a clear example of  how black swan events can prove far more important that developments that commentators might expect to provoke the kind of protests no government can afford to ignore. 


Friday, June 14, 2024

Putin Successfully Exploiting Widespread Anti-Americanism to Gain International Support, Shekhovtsov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 9 – Vladimir Putin has “very successfully” exploited both widespread anti-Americanism especially in the global south and the belief which exists there and more broadly that Russia today plays the same role in relation to the US as did the Soviet Union, Anton Shekhovtsov argues.

            “If something unites the contemporary world, that is anti-Americanism,” the director of Vienna’s Center of Democratic Principles continues. And Putin exploits that by saying that “we are against the Americans, and we are fighting with American proxies in Ukraine,” a message many accept (

            According to Shekhovtsov, “this is one of the main strategic narratives which Russia uses in its conversation with ‘the global South,’ one that allows it to present itself as being a leader of the struggle with American imperialism and an anti-colonial power,” even as it conducts its own neo-colonial war in Ukraine.

            Many people in the global south and in the west view today’s Russia in the ways they viewed the USSR,” despite the fact that Putin’s Russia is “a hyper-capitalist state.” And “even many on the left as before view Russia as a certain counter-balancing force with regard to the US,” which they denounce as capitalist ignoring the fact that Russia is capitalist too.

            Putin’s success in exploiting unquestioning anti-Americanism helps him to obscure his own raw capitalism and his own imperial goals, especially because few are prepared to expose what Russia today is doing and just how unlike it is from its Soviet predecessor in this regard, the Russian émigré analyst suggests. 

After a Decade of Decline, Russian Nationalist Violence has Skyrocketed Since Start of Putin’s Expanded War in Ukraine, SOVA Center Reports

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 9 – After falling sharply from 2007 to 2021, the number of violent attacks by Russian nationalists on their opponents has risen sharply since the start of Vladimir Putin’s expanded war in Ukraine, according to Aleksandr Verkhovsky of Moscow’s SOVA Analytic Center.

            In 2007, the center recorded 630 such attacks, a number fell to 421 in 2010, 97 in 2015, and 54 in 2020. But now, the human rights activist and monitor says, it rose to 123 last year and continues to go up (

            This upsurge “began in the spring of last year,” Verhovsky says, acknowledging that the real increase is likely to be larger than his numbers show. On the one hand, not all attacks by Russian nationalist extremists are reported; and on the other, the SOVA Center records such attacks if victims are identified.

            Other monitoring groups show an even greater upsurge in violence over the last two years. The Nazi Video Monitoring Project, for example, reports that there have been 526 such attacks since January of this year.  Both monitors agree that while the attacks have increased and become more violent, the number of deaths has declined to only a handful.

            They also agree that most of those engaged in such attacks are young men who often engage in what looks like hooliganism and is often classified as such rather than the ethnic violence which it in fact is.


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Almost 40 Percent of Russia’s Journalists Covering Environmental Issues have Been Threatened, Many Physically, EJN Reports

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 6 – There is an old joke that if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall? Perhaps inspired by that idea, the Putin regime is seeking to repress the coverage of journalists about the wholesale destruction of the environment in the Russian Federation.

            According to the Earth Journalism Network (EJN), 39 percent of journalists in Russia have been threatened because of their work, with slightly more than a quarter of these cases involving a threat of physical violence against the writers and broadcasters ( and

            The journalists say that most of those who threaten them are directly connected with enterprises doing damage to the environment, but in the Russian case, these threats emanate slightly more often than from businesses, “on the order of 30 percent,” than from private businesses, 25 percent.

            These threats undoubtedly have prompted some journalists not to cover environmental issues; and 39 percent of those EJN surveyed said that they regularly engaged in self-censorship  or included information on climate change, for example, that they knew to be false but that the powers that be are committed to.

            Unfortunately, the Russian journalists working in this area said that the number of fake news stories on the environment has risen over the last decade and continues to go up.

Ukrainian Drones Now Attacking Russian Facilities in Non-Russian Regions

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 6 – Ukrainian drones have now hit targets in a dozen federal subjects of the Russian Federation. Most of these are predominantly ethnic Russian oblasts and krays but in at least two cases, Tatarstan and North Ossetia, this list includes non-Russian republics as well ( and

            That should not come as any surprise given that the Russian Federation’s military industries and bases are located in non-Russian as well as predominantly Russian regions and thus those located in non-Russian regions are entirely legitimate targets for the Ukrainian military in response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.

            But for some, such attacks may seem to be in conflict with Kyiv’s efforts to reach out to the non-Russians within the Russian Federation as potential allies of Ukraine in the struggle against Russian imperialism. Paradoxically, however, these drone attacks may be helping that effort.

            That is because these attacks are against facilities hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian-Russian border and they highlight the reality that Moscow, all its claims to the contrary, is not able to defend these republics despite all the tax money it takes from non-Russian as well as Russian regions.

            Instead of making the non-Russians more loyal to Moscow, it may be having just the opposite effect. When Ukrainian drones hit military targets in Tatarstan earlier this year, for example, Rustam Minnikhanov, the republic head, said these attacks showed “no one will defend us besides ourselves” ( and

            To the extent that Ukrainian attacks on Russian facilities in the non-Russian republics spread, such attitudes are likely to spread as well. And that in turn will lead to outcomes precisely the opposite of the ones that the Kremlin has long believed it can count on in the event of an attack.