Screenshot of fake photo used by Russian experts to claim Ukrainian plane shot down MH17.
Moscow’s Actions Producing Exactly the Opposite of Its Proclaimed Goals, Eidman Says
Staunton, VA, May 2, 2016 – Even during the first Cold War, Moscow commentator Igor Eidman says, there was no talk about Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Now that is very much on the front burner of discussions, a reflection of the fact that again and again Moscow is producing exactly the opposite outcomes that it says it wants.
On Kasparov.ru, Eidman lists just some of the places in which this pattern holds:
· “The struggle against the expansion of NATO is leading to new countries becoming members.”
· “’The struggle for peace’ is leading to war.”
· “’The defense of the rights of residents of the Donbass’ is leading to the most difficult problems for them.”
· “’The defense of the self-determination of Crimea’ is leading to the actual liquidation of its autonomous status and to direct rue from Moscow.”
· “The struggle with sanctions is leading to the introduction of new sanctions against its own citizens (for example, on the import of agricultural products).”
· And “the striving to impose a union on Ukraine to mortal hostility with it.”
In “the kingdom of distorted mirrors” that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia today, he suggests, this list can be extended to many other issues as well, something that should be raising questions for those who support the Kremlin leader because what he is achieving is exactly the reverse of what he proclaims are his goals.
Russia in Midst of Third Post-Stalin Succession Struggle, Piontkovsky Says
Staunton, May 2, 2016 – Russia has entered the third post-Stalin succession struggle, Andrey Piontkovsky says, and just like the two earlier ones, the struggle has begun even though the man to be replaced has not physically departed the scene and even though he like his predecessors has the resources to remain in place for some time to come.
“Stalin ruled 31 years; Brezhnev, 18; and Putin, already almost 17 if one counts from the day of his appointment as Russian prime minister and Yeltsin’s successor,” the commentator says. And these three transitions – Piontkovsky calls them “deaths” – form a single triptych reflecting post-1917 Russia.”
First, he writes, there was “the tragedy of communism,” then “its farce,” and finally “its post-modernist absurdity, one that involves “the last generation” of people tracing their roots to the October Revolution and “the inevitable result of the evolution of ‘the new class’” who “do not have and cannot have a project for the future” except personal survival.
“In the immediately coming years and perhaps months, already after the political death of the third avatar which has taken place,” Piontkovsky argues, “we will find out whether this hole has swallowed Russia forever or whether it still has a chance to break out of this by a desperate effort.”
But one thing is already clear: “Every time, in 1953, 1982, and 2016, the approaching death of the sacred pharaoh was first preceded by the awakening of the entourage of the departing who sought to seize power,” the commentator continues.
Piontkovsky points out that “the winter of 1952 was one of the most dramatic periods in Russian and perhaps world history.” Stalin, “having descended into madness thought about conducting a holocaust throughout the USSR as well as a new pitiless purge of the nomenklatura and the beginning of a third world war.”
But because of his age, he suggests, the dictator had lost control over his own special services [intelligence agencies]; and they may even have hastened his end.
In 1982, as Brezhnev lay dying, various groups in the Soviet elite and the apparatus of KGB chief Yury Andropov in the first instance began conspiring not just to change the direction of the country but to take power for themselves.
Now, much the same thing is happening in Moscow, Piontkovsky argues. “The political end of the third avatar began on February 27, 2015,” when Boris Nemtsov was killed “not far from Red Square” – “not because this was the first such serious crime” by Putin “but because it signaled the first serious reaction against him by a significant part of the special services.”
The security services arrested the Kadyrov militants because “they decided to make use of this murder for the unleashing of an attack against Putin’s “Kadyrov Project,” something they had long disliked and saw a chance to end. Unlike ordinary Russians, the security services recognized that Putin had already suffered “a political death.” And so they decided to act.
“Authoritarian personalist regimes can do a lot,” Piontkovsky says, “but a dictatorship cannot survive an obvious foreign policy defeat” because that “automatically desacralizes the leader and destroys the structure-forming myth about the infallibility of the leader and his project as a whole.”
In this as in other ways, he argues, the Russian elite around Putin is like a group of criminal clans. When the top one loses, it is by definition no longer on top and will be challenged.
Putin could perhaps have gone on as he had before 2014 if he had not been caught up in what Piontkovsky calls “his Ukrainian catastrophe.” This became “fatal,” he says, not when the Kremlin leader seized Crimea: that action had a limited and pragmatic goal of keeping Ukraine from moving toward Europe.
Instead, it occurred on March 18, 2014, when Putin spoke about his plans to achieve his “neo-imperial conception of ‘the Russian world’” and become the latest Russian ruler to engage in the “in-gathering” of what he supposes are Russian lands. What made this fatal, Piontkovsky says, is that it requires constant forward momentum, something Moscow couldn’t achieve.
Ethnic Russians in Ukraine “in their majority rejected the ideas of ‘Novorossiya’ and ‘the Russian world,’ supporting instead the anti-criminal revolution and showing themselves to be patriots of the Ukrainian state.” That meant that Putin was forced to stop, and stopping in this situation was a signal that he had failed and that he could be attacked.
“In such situations,” Piontkovsky writes, “the force clans shift in a standard way from the struggle for influence on the leader to the struggle for positions of power after him.” And that is exactly what happened last month when the security services forced Putin to back down on both Viktor Zolotov and Ramzan Kadyrov, reducing the influence of the former after boosting him and stripping the latter of his own military force and then publicly criticizing him.
And the commentator concludes: “Now it is understandable why the Chekists so sharply threw challenges in February 2015 and so sharply raised the stakes in February 2016. They have levers of pressure, and they have demonstrated that they can effectively make use of them.” But what especially matters is that they now they have “nowhere to run.”
‘Novorossiya’ Museum in St. Petersburg Firebombed
Staunton, VA, May 2, 2016 – On May 1, an unknown individual threw an incendiary device through the window of the ‘Novorossiya’ Museum in St. Petersburg. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, and no serious harm was done to the collections, according to the Drugaya Rossiya’s VKontakte page, Rufabula reported.
“Two national Bolsheviks” came to the museum, which opened on May 9, 2015, and is located in the basement of No 54 Decembrist Street in the Northern capital, in order to guard the facility against further attacks
Among the exhibits in the museum are ones devoted to the history of conflict between Eastern and Western Ukraine since the 18th century, life in the Donbass before the Russians arrived, “and also about destruction there in the course of the war.” As Rufabula notes, the museum often hosted measures organized by “supporters of imperial revenge.”
In the coming days, the operators of the museum intend to organize several memorial measures “devoted to the second anniversary of the defeat of the anti-Maidan forces in Odessa.” Drugaya Rossiya “does not exclude,” Rufabula says, that these plans motivated “’the enemies of the Russian World’” to firebomb the facility.
At the same time, the party notes that “the list of those who want to close the museum is constantly growing,” and that the museum is in conflict not only “with local pro-Ukrainian nationalists and supporters of ‘the Right Sector” but also with its landlords.
One hopes that this firebombing will end without consequences, but unfortunately in the current Russian environment, it is entirely possible that it will be exploited by either the Putin regime or pro-Russian world forces or by both to launch new attacks on Ukrainian, pro-Ukrainian or simply opposition groups.
Moscow May Soon Blame Extraterrestrials for Boeing Catastrophe, Russian Aviation Expert Says
Staunton, VA, May 2, 2016 – It would be entirely consistent with the Russian approach since the shooting down of the Boeing airliner over the Donbass for Moscow soon to declare that little green men from Mars are responsible because muddying the waters with ever more versions is its preferred technique of deflecting attention to its own responsibility for this crime.
That judgment is offered by Russian aviation expert Vadim Lukashevich on Apostrophe May 2 and is particularly important because the technique Moscow has adopted in this case is one that it has used often quite successfully in many others.
The occasion for his remarks is the Russian exploitation of a BBC program on the Boeing disaster titled “Conspiracy Files.” Instead of recognizing that the British program simply tried to list all the explanations that have been offered, Moscow propagandists, Lukashevich points out, suggested that the BBC had blamed the CIA and the Ukrainians.
That misuse of the BBC program is typical but it reflects Moscow’s continuing attempts to distract attention from the reality that “Russia is guilty” of shooting down the plane, the expert says. In fact, those most responsible are “the higher army leadership and President Vladimir Putin,” although few are likely to name them but rather fasten on lower-level people.
Indeed, Lukashevich continues, even serious investigations are unlikely to be able to link Putin to the crime “for the simple reason that Russia has not declared war on Ukraine [and that] there are no written orders with the signatures of senior people.” But such things will exist at lower levels and can be used to establish guilt if investigators gain access to them.
And that is all the more likely because in the name of balance and objectivity, many Western news outlets will recount some or even all of the distorted versions of reality that Moscow propagandists put out, thus unwittingly at least in most cases, helping Putin hide behind the fog of multiple versions and Russian stonewalling against those who seeking the truth.