SYRIA. So, another fun military intervention that will be over by the weekend is about to light-heartedly begin. It is justified by unshakeable evidence that will later turn out to be ephemeral; evidence so certain indeed that we can’t wait for the inspectors who were conveniently nearby to report. Actually, it’s already fading. As before, the costs will go to us and the benefits to our enemies. I just don’t understand why we are spending our blood and treasure supporting our enemies .I never thought I would ever agree with Robert Fisk, but there it is.

RUSSIA-SYRIA. I believe there is too much talk of Syria being Russia’s “ally” and all that: I see such assertions as part of the preparation of the intellectual battlespace: Putin and Assad are each made a more acceptable target by their alleged close association. Moscow has three main interests here. Principled: Moscow sees the actions of Washington and a few others re-arranging governments as destructive of such principles of international behaviour as exist. Practical: Moscow believes, and precedent suggests it is correct, that these “humanitarian interventions” just make things worse. Personal: the appetite grows with the feeding; is Moscow on the list to be overthrown by the new moral imperialists? The consequent instability can overflow into Russia. As a member of the P5 it is a strong upholder of the UN, a forum in which it is a big player with a veto; it doesn’t like all that to be bypassed by some sanctimonious fraction of NATO. All quite simple in fact and firmly based on national interest. The famous “Mediterranean naval base” in reality amounts to the occasional use of a dock in a small port (look at it on Google Earth). The arms sales are small change and the big ticket items are postponed. There is little Moscow can do to stop intervention, but Putin plays the long game. From that perspective, these “humanitarian interventions” weaken the USA and the other participants. He is the only adult in the playpen.

SNOWDEN. Readers will remember that Snowden appeared at Sheremetyevo en route to Cuba. Now we hear, via Kommersant, that Havana told Moscow that the aircraft would not be allowed to land because of Washington’s pressure. Thus he was stuck there. So, if this is so (and who could doubt it given the forcing down of Morales’ plane?) Snowden is in Russia today because of Washington’s actions. (Fidel Castro denies, but, applying the Rice-Davies test, we may discount this). More “smart power” I suppose.

THE LATEST ANTI-RUSSIA CAMPAIGN. If you are interested in reading the opinions of Russia’s leading gay rights crusader on the latest Western contrived anti-Russia issue, here it is. He does not thank all his new best friends in the safe West. He actually welcomes the laws: “These laws, especially the one passed at federal level, actually gave a boost to the LGBT fight in Russia. More activists are now protesting in various cities. Look at St. Petersburg, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kostroma and Syktyvkar. The topic is being widely discussed in the media. This was unthinkable in 2005 when we started.”

NGOs. The Kostroma Center for Civic Initiatives Support has filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court over the application of the NGO law. It certainly did receive foreign financing but I guess that the question to be tested is whether it is “political”. I reiterate that the USA has an exactly similar law (not that the endlessly anti-Russian media bothers to mention that). Meanwhile the government has a program of giving money to NGOs (something, as we know from Western experience, that is fraught with co-option possibilities) and will give money to several NGOs now deprived of foreign financing.

PUTIN. A Levada poll shows a certain tiredness. Between now and 2001 the number disappointed in him has doubled to 22% from 10%; unconditional supporters are down to 14% from 19% and the “anybody but” opinion is now 5% (0% then). One of the reasons why I thought his return was a mistake is that everyone runs out of his possibilities eventually.

CORRUPTION. The May law that prohibits senior officials, including lawmakers, judges and heads of state corporations. Their spouses and underage children, from having foreign bank accounts or financial instruments abroad has now taken effect. Part of the efforts against corruption.

GEORGIA. Moscow and Tbilisi have agreed to resume cross-border passenger and cargo road transportation suspended on 2006. Given that more than half of the $800 million in remittances that Georgia has received so far this year – came from Russia – this is a good thing all round.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (


SNOWDEN. Despite Washington’s promise that it would neither execute nor torture Snowden (!!) Russia granted him temporary asylum for a year. Obama has cancelled the bilateral meeting with Putin at the St Petersburg G20 meeting. Meanwhile, Ilyas Akhmadov remains in the USA. What goes around, comes around. Also, see Browder. Why should Russia cooperate? By the way, there is some body of opinion that holds that espionage charges are normally not extraditable offences, being “political”. (Strongly argued here).

BROWDER. A Russian court found Browder guilty of tax evasion and asked Interpol to put out a “Red Notice” on him. Interpol refused, citing “a predominantly political nature” of the case. Ah well, the Khodorkovskiy trial was political too. Until it wasn’t. Unsurprising: Browder as a crook would obliterate the foundations of the Magnitskiy Bill. But what difference does a “Red Notice” make? See Andrey Borodin.

RATINGS. A recent Levada poll shows that the ratings of both Putin and his pedestal party are up. The trend – Levada’s been at this for a long time – shows that Putin’s approval rating has crashed from the dizzying heights of 88% in 2008 to the abyssal depth of 64% in May 2013. Or so you are told: “wanes” “Katrina moment” “weaker” “lowest” “booed”. Few Western politicians can imagine 64% after a few years in office. If anything the anti-Putin campaign and continual booming of “democratic leaders”, one after forgotten other, increase his popularity among Russians, who don’t like being told what to think any more than anyone else.

NAVALNIY. I highly recommend that you take the time to read Alexander Mercouris’ analysis of the trial; long, but he covers a lot of points. (summary here). Agree or disagree, but you’ll be much better informed than by the Western coverage. Meanwhile Navalniy’s out campaigning for Mayor of Moscow; likely to come second but the question is whether he’ll get more than 10% of the vote as the incumbent romps to victory. A Levada poll shows that his popularity does not increase with familiarity. .

THE LATEST ANTI-RUSSIA CAMPAIGN. The famous law is actually an amendment which prohibits propaganda of homosexuality among minors”. But already we are told that “homosexuality is against the law” and that it’s just like Hitler. Anybody smell an organised campaign here? By the way, American Stoli comes from Latvia. Watch this video; you’ll figure out what’s happening (not what you’ve been told to expect. Warning: it might be a put-up job to manufacture some anti-Russia “evidence”; if so, it backfired.). Also check out this story as an indication that there are – as usual – more nuances than you’re told. While in Moscow, have a Russian Stoli in one of these places.

ANOTHER RUSSIA. They say about a million people paid their respects to an important religious relic in Russia; certainly eyewitnesses spoke of enormous lineups in Moscow.

MARKETS. Last week a policeman, attempting to arrest an accused rapist was severely beaten by a mob: one arrest has been made. A clampdown has begun. Moscow’s markets are notoriously gang-ridden and hideouts for illegal immigrants and sweat shops. A tent camp has been set up to house people to be deported – several hundred already and hundreds of arrests have been made. At least one sweatshop depending on exploitation of illegals has been uncovered. This activity has only a temporary effect of course but a longer lasting one may be found in an examination the Investigative Committee has begun on the possible (likely actually) corrupt relationship between police, bureaucrats and traders at these markets.

PIKE. Putin caught a fish the other day. An absurd amount of coverage showing how far Putin Derangement Syndrome has metastasised. It’s always hard to pick the worst but I nominate Yulia Latynina (an official Freedom Defender): “The huge pike is right out of Freud, or to be more exact, from Jung. It is the archetype of the Russian soul.” On the other hand, it might just be a big fish. I often wonder whether Putin does these things (he does, after all, take a cameraman) in order to get a good laugh at the reactions.

ANNIVERSARY. What a lot has changed. A new government in Tbilisi; Saakashvili soon to be gone. But what remains is mistrust in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the declaration. Be a long time, if ever, until that stops. IF the new government apologises sincerely for attacks since the late 1980s; IF arrests are made of the guilty; IF Georgia becomes the sort of country that you might want to be a part of; IF enough time goes by; THEN maybe. Meanwhile a poll says nearly half of Russians have good feelings towards Georgia.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (