BOOK PLUG. Please take a look at this: Putin’s New Russia. A number of us have contributed in an effort to counter the continuous outpouring of slipshod and biased reporting on Russia.
LOCAL ELECTIONS. United Russia dominated; the opposition cried foul. Turnout rather low but better in the five regions electing governors (all five drearily United Russia). But what is the “opposition” anyway? opposed to Putin yes, but agreed on what? See next.
DEMOS. Another large opposition demo passed off peacefully last month. The opposition is becoming more fragmented by the day; an eyewitness tells me about supernationalists yelling at PARNAS: “Russia without Jews!” and insulting gay rights campaigners; anarchists telling the white ribbon people to take up the black flag of anarchy; Udaltsov’s Red Front calling for Lukashenka to head a Russia-Belarus union; Monarchists calling Nemtsov a Russophobe. As if Nazis, Communists, and Occupy people all shared a stage shouting at each other with the occasional ???? appearing.
UDALTSOV. An NTV program ran a film supposedly showing him plotting civic disorder with a Georgian politician: he insists the film is a fake. The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a case. I have nothing intelligent to say: it could be true or it could be a fabrication designed to knock him out.
CORRUPTION. It is reported that corruption investigations totalled 15,800 in the first half of 2012: last year at the same time there were 10,400. The claim is that the increase is due to better investigation.
RUSSIA INC. There is a general agreement that GDP growth is slowing: an official gives 2.8%; the World Bank 3.5% and the IMF 3.7%. Even so, better than either the EU or the USA.
BEREZOVSKIY. Berezovskiy has lost his case against Abramovich: the judge finding him to be an “unimpressive, and inherently unreliable, witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes” and must pay the latter’s court costs of £35 million. Hmm, moulding truth to suit his current purposes… maybe the Western media may become less willing to re-type his press releases on deaths and music groups.
RUSSIAN SPIES. The USA claims to have broken up a spy ring that was moving microelectronics to Russia; the Canadian naval officer has admitted he was passing information to Russia and Germany claims to have broken up another ring. Now why on earth would Moscow feel that it had to know what NATO was up to?
USAID. Has left Russia. Given that its main business these days seems to be “democracy promotion”, given that that seems to be little more than the attempt to discredit Putin, I can sympathise with the decision to get it out. More thoughts, and my reasons for saying this, here. Foreign Minister Lavrov said Moscow would not treat European foundations the same way, they, he says, “act on the basis of intergovernmental agreements, well-considered and mutually acceptable ones, which are based on the principles of reciprocity and equality”.
SYRIA. A couple of days after calling Moscow’s position “morally bankrupt”, Washington called on it to help it get rid of Assad. Apart from this being a rather ineffectual way to solicit cooperation, Washington still doesn’t understand Moscow’s position. Which is to keep out of it. Washington is having trouble handling the fact that Assad is thus far not losing. And Washington might wonder where the weapons it’s sending are winding up: even the complaisant NYT suspects they’re not going to future friends. The simple fact is that Moscow’s stance is much more prudent. It’s not as if Washington these days has any reason to be pleased with the overthrow of Khadafy in Libya. Meanwhile another charge of Russia supplying weapons collapses.
UKRAINE. Yulia Tymoshenko may now have murder added to all the other charges.
GEORGIA. Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream comfortably won the election. Georgia is now in a dual power situation and that has seldom had a happy ending. I am very sceptical that Saakashvili will go quietly when his term ends. More thoughts here.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (see http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/)