OLYMPICS. A triumph, no question about it, with the added unexpected pleasure for Russia of topping the medal list. A Levada poll showed something less than enthusiasm at the start: 53% were glad Russia was hosting but 26% were not. Bet there’s more support now! Perhaps connected is a poll rating that puts Putin up to 68% approval. So, after all the toilets, fake pictures, (intentional fakes too), breathless warnings, subtropical, they were safe, everybody had a private toilet and food, the athletes seem to have enjoyed themselves. Will Western opinioneers and media outlets admit to getting it wrong? (“Sochi has been utter embarrassment for Vladimir Putin”). Silly question: “away from all the cameras, there are still many glaring questions”, “these games were anything but carefree”. I believe they went too far: in the event, millions and millions of viewers have seen the Western MSM’s coverage of Russia revealed to be largely lies and propaganda and the happy, modern ordinary Russians shown are a contrast to the grey, miserable, downtrodden Russians we’re told about. So, while they are indeed only sports, the Games’ success is another bucket of paint remover thrown at the Western portrait of Russia.
CORRUPTION. Investigations chew away: an investigation into fraud at the Defence Ministry re-opened upon new testimony. Perhaps connected is a report that the former minister seeks amnesty. Seven generals and admirals investigated last year for corruption. A senior official in Interior Ministry detained over claims of bribery and abuse of office. Another senior Interior Ministry official dismissed with no reason given.
BOLOTNAYA CASE. Jail sentences for seven (longest 4 years, shortest 2 ½ – less double time served I presume as is usual) and probation for one. An anti-Putin rally turned violent in 2012. My sources tell me the violence was organised to happen (one of the principal Putin opponents said she wouldn’t appear because she knew there would be violence) but the WMSM of course pretends that this is a terrible outrage.
MORE LIBERALS. Vladimir Ryzhkov has quit RPR-PARNAS. I have lost track of how many registered parties there are now – over a hundred I think – so I guess there will soon be one more. The Russian “liberals” are so ego-bound that none can bear to cooperate with another.
OMBUDSMAN. Putin nominated Ella Pamfilova as ombudsman. An interesting choice: she had been the head of the human rights council until she resigned quite loudly in 2010. The apparent reason being her conviction that no one was listening. Many of the other members subsequently quit.
THE WORLD IS CHANGING. Straws in the wind. China unloading some US bonds (by the way China has an interest in Ukrainian developments). Russia-Egypt arms deal. Big year for Russia-India arms sales and cooperation. India showing interest in the Customs Union. Thoughtful people should know of this editorial in the CPC People’s Daily on Ukraine: “The theories related to politics, economics and security during the Cold War period are still influencing many people on their concept of the world, and some Western people are still imbued with resentment towards Russia”. What would happen if China unloaded, say, 10% of its $1.27 trillion of USD bonds to underline its displeasure with “outdated thinking”?Perhaps the EU and USA aren’t the final word any more.
UKRAINE. Nuland has got her way for the moment and “Yats” is named Prime Minister, As far as I can see, what actually happened was that the protest leaders made their “suggestions” and Parliament rubber-stamped them. And now it’s time to talk money because Ukraine is bankrupt. At the moment the number mentioned is US$35 billion but it will probably be more – someone has to pay for the gas. But the EU and USA aren’t as rich as they once were: Kerry thinks a billion is possible and the EU doesn’t sound helpful and the IMF is only talking $15 billion. No wonder Hague thinks Russia should chip in. (Who’d have thought, 20 years ago, that Russia would be the one with the spare cash?) Meanwhile, who’s in charge? People like this former fighter in Chechnya? Secession or civil war coming? The next month or so will tell us. My argument that the Standard Western Media Narrative is propaganda and lies is here. My prediction is that Moscow will sit back and watch developments: the EU and USA have broken it, let them pay for it. Ukraine in its present condition is no prize and it could be a real nightmare in a few weeks. I hope I’m wrong.