Normalising Russia 194

There has been surprisingly little coverage of almost three hundred arrests yesterday of protestors across Russia demonstrating against Putin on his birthday. While the evidence so far is that demonstrations were not suppressed with the same level of brutal thuggery as witnessed in Spain, many more arrests were made which will have long term consequences for protestors.

I fear the reason it was not covered much is that it is unsurprising. We have become habituated to the idea that democracy has not really taken root in Russia, and probably will not. But Putin’s continued domination of Russian politics, his playing of the system to avoid the restriction on number of terms, the elimination of the opposition media and the gradual but relentless tightening of the limits of free expression, are not inevitable.

Children of the Cold War like myself were brought up to view Russia as isolated, threatening and entirely irrelevant to contemporary European culture. That of course is wrong. Russian writers, thinkers, scientists and composers are central to the very fabric of European civilisation. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov are as central to our thought as Tchaikovsky is to our emotion.

The end of the Cold War promised to reunite Europe’s great cultural traditions. The neo-imperial ambition of the western powers, and their remorseless pursuit of the neoliberal agenda, has since again isolated Russia from the West, despite the fact that very many (myself included) have been very thankful to Putin for redressing the balance of Western foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, where the USA’s Saudi driven support for Sunni jihadists is barking mad.

One result of the neoliberal fury at Putin’s great effectiveness at frustrating their international designs, has been the McCarthy like anti-Russian phobia sweeping the USA. Today is exactly one year since the FBI announced it was investigating Russian “hacking” allegedly to damage neoliberal idol Hillary, and in that twelve months the one thing that is clear is that there is not one single solid bit of evidence to back it up. It is perfectly possible both to recognise that Trump is a disaster, and to understand that the Trump/Russia scandal is the biggest Fake News of all.

But none of that must blind us to the very real democratic deficit in Russia, and the very real failures in Russian democracy, which is going backwards not forwards. Nor must it blind us to the very nasty anti-Muslim and anti-refugee subtext to Russian nationalism, which explains some of the strange preferences of Russian media in the West. Those arrests of demonstrators yesterday ought not have happened. Russia can be better than this.


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194 thoughts on “Normalising Russia

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  • freddy

    It seems that the Americans are being called out for supporting Islamic State in Syria, it is being reported that the Americans are helicoptering IS fighters about the place to upset the Syrian Government and the Russian Government

  • freddy

    Russia says Islamic State operates near U.S base in Syria unhindered

    Russia accused the United States on Wednesday of allowing Islamic State to operate “under its nose” in Syria, saying Washington was letting the militant group move about freely in an area abutting a U.S. military base.

    The allegations, made by Russia’s Defense Ministry, center on a U.S. military base at Tanf, a strategic Syrian highway border crossing with Iraq in the south of the country.

    Russia says the U.S. base is illegal and that it and the area around it have become “a black hole” where militants operate unhindered.

  • freddy

    Damascus [Syria], September 1 : A Syrian rebel has revealed that U.S.troops based at the Al-Tanf base in Syria’s southeastern desert were not fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists and were selling weapons and ammunition to them to fight against the Bashar al-Assad forces.

    Asaad As-Salem, who defected from the U.S.-backed Maghawir al-Thawra group stationed at the Al-Tanf base in the southern Syria, said U.S. is engaged in pursuing the main aim of expanding the ISIS influence in Syria by assisting them with U.S. made weapons.

    Salem, who served as a chief security officer at the Al-Tanf base

  • Paul Barbara

    More ‘Russian Interference’ found:

    There is a rumour going about that all US military personnel have been instructed to check under their bunks each night, and to report any suspicious characters found hiding there…

  • freddy
    Bojo to go to Russia

    Mr B. Johnson was due to visit Moscow in April, but the trip was cancelled following a deadly chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in Syria. The atrocity was blamed on President Assad’s regime, which is backed by the Russians, although the Syrian government has denied using nerve gas.
    The attack prompted a military response from the US, which bombed a Syrian air base it suspected of storing chemical weapons.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ freddy October 13, 2017 at 20:13
      ‘..The attack prompted a military response from the US, which bombed a Syrian air base it suspected of storing chemical weapons.’
      Yes, just like it ‘suspected’ Saddam had WMD, and that Qaddafi was going to commit genocide upon hi own people.
      And just like it ‘accidentally, bombs Assad’s forces, and ‘accidentally’ airdrops arms to ISIS/Daesh headchoppers, and air-ferries them out of harms way, and gives them or arranges for them to get modern weaponry, and how their ‘War on Terror’ is a total LIE.

      • Xavi

        Like it nuked two civilian cities in Japan and sprayed chemical weapons on women, children and elderly people in SE Asia .. in order to “save lives”.

        Rule 1/ground zero of western thought:: whatever the US does is divinely ordained; whatever it says is God’s own truth.

  • Paul Barbara

    ‘FBI Report Shows It Was Seth Rich – Not Russians – Who Gave DNC Emails to Wikileaks’:

    ‘….They [the FBI] found what he [Rich] had done was he had submitted a series of documents – of emails, of juicy emails – from the DNC.
    By the way, all this shit about the DNC, where the hack, it wasn’t hacked …
    He offered a sample, an extensive sample, I’m sure dozens of emails, and said I want money. [Remember, WikiLeaks often pays whistleblowers.]
    Later, WikiLeaks did get the password. He [Rich] had a dropbox, a protected dropbox, which isn’t hard to do.
    They got access to the dropbox. That’s in the FBI report.
    He [Rich] also let people know with whom he was dealing … the word was passed, according to the FBI report, “I also shared this box with a couple of friends, so if anything happens to me, it’s not going to solve your problem”.
    But WikiLeaks got access, before he was killed…….’

    • Xavi

      Amazing what you can get away with in advanced democracies when the truth is deemed out of bounds.

    • freddy
      It would seem that the main backers of a would be Kurdistan, are Americans.
      This is rather involved.
      Iran / Persia was a darling of America, after all, they are floating on Methane / oil, then Mohammad Reza Shah
      was removed. America, did not like the regime replacement.
      Saddam Hussein was coerced by the Americans to take on Iran.
      After many dead and no winners, the American love-in, turned soar.
      Saddam took his anger out on the Kurds, who sit on some of the Methane / oil wealth of Iraq.
      Saddam invades oil rich Kuwait, Saddam’s Iraq is utterly crushed, Saddam is hung.
      Iraq is smashed, Iran starts to recover.
      The Kurds, start to feel there may be a shinning light moving over them, coming from America.
      The largest known Methane field in the world is a huge crescent from the Gulf of Persia, through Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Eygpt, Libyia, Tunisia.
      Time for Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, Iraq, Syria to be broken up.

      • freddy

        Israel powers ahead.

        Noble Energy announced that it was pushing ahead with the development of Israel’s offshore Leviathan gas field,
        securing financing for the nearly $4 billion project and planning on bringing it online by 2019.

        Leviathan, discovered in 2010, is estimated to hold 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate.
        Development of its own energy resources is seen as a major strategic asset for Israel, which has no oil and little water.

        It seems that Israel does not want top share with Lebanon or Syria or Palestine,
        it will share with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

  • freddy

    Damascus demands ‘immediate & unconditional’ pullout of Turkish troops from northwest Syria
    “The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the incursion of Turkish military units in the Idlib Province, which constitutes to blatant aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and flagrant violation of international law,” an official source in the foreign ministry told Sana news agency.

    “The Syrian Arab Republic demands an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Turkish troops from the Syrian territory,” the source stated.

    Well, it would seem that Turkey is overreaching itself

  • SA

    What is being normalised is the anti Russia rhetoric.
    Today BBC radio 4, a concerted anti Russia rhetoric, first
    The Russian president Vladimir Putin has said Russia’s biggest mistake over the past 15 years was to trust the West too much, and said he was ready to develop new weapons.Robert Hannigan is the former head of GCHQ.
    then :
    Jake Sullivan, former director of policy planning for Obama says we are in a new cold war with Russia on the cyber-front.

    In this and many other BBC broadcasts it is now stated quite authoritatively that Russia interfered with the US election and other EU elections. There has not been a shred of evidence, as Craig well knows, produced and yet it is now stated as fact.
    In one of these broadcasts it was stated that the 4 big social media, a virtual cartel, should monitor this if they don’t want the US and UK to do it for them, and to stifle free speech. In none of these discussions does anyone resent how these same media have given free rein to Al Qaeda and IS.
    Another aspect of this ‘hybrid war’ has been the recent attack on RT by prominent Labour politicians, including Tom Watson and Lord Adonis.

    I am now reading Tony Kevin’s book ‘Return to Moscow’ and although I am still on page 40 I can see that it is a very valuable book in understanding how the wrong approach taken by the West, if they really want Russia to integrate, is this trying to alienate Russia.
    Russia and the Russian government is far from perfect, but so are our western government in a totally different way. The defensive attitude in Russia is a product of this justified ‘paranoia’ which has been proven to be well founded ever since the collapse of the Soviet union.
    This is a proud nation, and although I have never visited Russia and so have many others, I can always relate to the great culture including some of the greatest music. The Soviet union nurtured culture, even though they wanted it to be constrained through the prism of ‘social realism’, but nevertheless gave us Shostakovich and many other greats, and others lesser known. The Russian piano school from its first start in the two conservatoires in Moscow and St Petersburgh, started by the two Rubinstein brothers, grow into one of the most important musical achievements and gave us some of the greatest pianists. Russian pianists and pianist composers dominated and still play a very major part, in pianism throughout the world.
    I think this is the perspective we need to look at and not join the propaganda of the BBC and the UK government.

    • freddy

      anyone notice if there were any
      White Helmets in Raqqa?
      Syria war: UN says it is ready to go into Raqqa
      If the White Helmets – only operate in certain areas,
      one might begin to think they are not non-aligned
      but are in actuality aligned to a group or grouping,

      this would allow you to think, they they are politically motivated,
      thus we have been lied to by Western media/governments.

      • SA

        You seem to be on the wrong thread.
        Re white helmets it is not the only propaganda instrument. Have you noticed that we now have ‘singing for Syria’?
        If you look at the NGO charity you may notice some interesting links.
        Also are you aware that the Labour Party supports the White Helmets through the Jo Cox appeal?

        • freddy

          Yes, it may be that Jo Cox was an unthinking supporter of the White Helmets.
          It may be that Tony Blair, Hillary Benn, Neil Kinnock, Angela Eagle, Lord Mandelslime, JackSprat and other New Labour persons “encouraged” her to support the White helmets, for some bizarre political reasons?
          But I can not believe that Jo Cox did not know that the White Helmets were a political theatre group,
          aligned with Turkey / Free Syrian Army / Tahrir al-Sham.
          Russia has been pointing out for “some time”
          that the White Helmets only seem to exist in areas “encouraged” by the Turkish Regime.
          Russia believes that the White Helmets,
          were involved in staging the nerve gas attack at Khan Shaykhun,
          this, apparently, was the prelude to America firing 60 Scottish Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airbase, adjacent to Damascus.

  • SA

    The demonisation of Russia is very engrained. Now on BBC Radio 4 there is a very interesting programme on how the allies invaded Russia in 1918 to help the White army to defeat the bolsheviks, not something well publicised. Sometimes the BBC comes out with gems.

  • freddy

    State Department ( U.S.A.) admits Al-Nusra affiliate using chemical weapons in Syria
    “Terrorist and other violent extremist groups including ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham [dominated by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization], operate in Syria,” the travel warning reads.

    “Tactics of ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, small and heavy arms, improvised explosive devices, and chemical weapons,” it said.

    Terror groups have targeted roadblocks, border crossings, government buildings and other public areas in major Syrian cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Daraa, Homs, Idlib, and Deir-ez-Zor, the State Department acknowledged.

    • freddy

      The Turkic-speaking Tatars make up about 12% of Crimea’s population and their parliament was legally recognised by Ukraine in 1999.
      But Russia banned the Mejlis last year, describing it as an extremist organisation.

      Maybe, he will be having better luck in Turkey?

    • SA

      When will these democracy pushers realise that it is not up to Britain, US and France to decide who the Rulers of Syria are, it is up to the Syrian People.

  • Paul Barbara

    ‘BAM! Clinton Colluded With the British – Part of the Coup is Now Exposed’:

    ‘The Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee have admitted that they funded the work of British intelligence agent Christopher Steele directly. The admission, contained in a letter from Perkins, Coie, LLP, Counsel for the DNC and Hillary in 2016, is the first tree in the forest to fall, provided we keep our focus on the strategic reasons for the coup and the actual mechanisms in play. That focus must remain on the British for their role in attempting to dictate the American election for the strategic purpose of preserving the decadent and collapsing post World War II Anglo-American imperium. As demonstrated in our dossier about Robert Mueller, every time you hear that Russia did something to meddle in our elections, substitute “the British” and you are on the path of truth….’

    Perfidious Albion still up to it’s old tricks.

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