SAAKASHVILI AND RUSSIAN OPPOSITION. Remember when Moscow said a Georgian politician had secretly met with Russian oppositionists? Remember when everyone laughed? (“risible charges” details “immediately suspicious” “political”) Well, Saakashvili just admitted it. Once again, Moscow turns out to be closer to the truth than the others.
DISAGREEMENT. It’s a common assumption in the West that no one dares disagree with Putin. Not so. Lawyers from 80 firms have issued an open letter protesting the proposal to merge the Supreme Arbitration Court into the Supreme Court. The billionaire and politician Mikhail Prokhorov has joined many others against a proposal to modify the rules on tax investigations. We shall see.
REPORTING. If anyone thinks there’s much difference between reporting on Russia and outright propaganda, compare these stories. Anti-gay laws bar Selena Gomez from Russia. Elton John will perform despite homophobia. They can’t both be true, can they? Does anyone actually spend an instant thinking before they squash things into the anti-Russia mould of the moment?
LITVENENKO. A British court has ruled that national security demands secrecy. Remember what a simple case this was sold to you as: enemy of Putin murdered by Russians? What do you suppose they’re trying to hide?
GREENPEACERS. The last one has been granted bail and maybe they will be let go. But, again, I am fascinated by the hostility to GP shown in comments to puff pieces like this one. Again, dear readers, I notice there no campaign in the Western media on this one. Is it because the campaign-funder-in-chief is no more? Or do people not like GP? But they wouldn’t have liked Pussy Riot if they’d known what it actually was…
CORRUPTION. Putin vowed to continue to struggle against official corruption, regardless of rank or party membership, reminding his listeners of the fate of Vyacheslav Dudka, former governor and member of United Russia, now in prison.
AT LAST. After years of delay, the carrier INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov as was) has been handed over to the Indian Navy and sailed for there. India is a large arms customer for Russia and likely to continue to be.
UKRAINE AND EU. At the last moment, Kiev walked out of the EU association agreement. Despite the PM’s explanation that IMF’s conditions were “the last straw”; despite the official statement that the EU did not pay enough attention to “Ukraine’s needs”; despite fears that an agreement would put costs up; despite concerns about Ukraine’s independence; despite the EU’s interfering demands; the MSM has concluded that it knows the real reason: Russia. This piece actually describes the years of insults and goalpost-moving Kiev endured from Brussels before it puts the blame on Russia. The arrogance of the West is astonishing: whatever we want is, ipso facto, in your best interests too. Kiev is playing its suitors for the best deal possible from its perspective and the bidding is still open: Azerov just said that this does not mean the Ukraine will join the Customs Union. Curious that Kiev might see Moscow as a more trustworthy partner but, after replacement of governments in Greece and Italy and bank raids in Cyprus, perhaps it has reasons to fear for its independence as a small player on the edge of the EU. Thanks to the great psychic divide between east and west in Ukraine, there are large protests. Canada just negotiated a free trade deal with the EU and it is a member of NAFTA. Is it impossible for Ukraine to have some of both?
GEORGIA. Giorgi Margvelashvili was inaugurated as President last Sunday, Saakashvili did not attend and is still out of the country (bet he doesn’t come back). Irakli Garibashvili is the new PM. True to his word, Ivanishvili announced he was leaving politics but will remain “active” (I still think Putin should have done that). Some Western players are starting to worry that Saakashvili may be charged with crimes – well, all I can say is that they should have paid closer attention to what they were supporting in the first place. Remarks by the US Ambassador have caused some excitement in Tbilisi: “Abkhazians and Ossetians were treated by Georgians in the same way as Russians had treated Georgians and Georgia will have to apologize for the mistakes of the past”. Is Washington starting to see reality, or is this just a blip?