Normalising Russia 180

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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180 thoughts on “Normalising Russia

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  • 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…….’

    • 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

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