Monday, June 24, 2013

RUSSIA and THE WEST - РОССИЯ и ЗАПАД: Russia and the West - Blog Posts Review

RUSSIA and THE WEST - РОССИЯ и ЗАПАД: Russia and the West - Blog Posts Review: Click for "RUSSIA and THE WEST Blog Review". Powered by RSS Feed Informer

Kerry to Russia: 'Do the right thing' and return NSA leaker - World News

Kerry to Russia: 'Do the right thing' and return NSA leaker - World News

1 Share

U.S. Urges Russia to Hand Over Snowden -

1 Share

James Hill for The New York Times
Television journalists gave reports outside the Ecuador embassy in Moscow on Monday.

The End Of The Consensual Hallucination

1 Share
 lot of things that people say never happened before suddenly seem to be happening. 

When news agencies 
incorrectly reported
 -- based on a forged government press release -- that President Vladimir Putin had sacked his longtime ally, Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin last week, some analysts called the incident unprecedented.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," Alexander Rahr of the German Council of Foreign Relations, a biographer of Putin,
 told Reuters

Actually, it did.

Back in February, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich appeared to 
announce his resignation
 on Twitter. He later announced on Facebook that he hadn't resigned, that his account had been hacked, and the tweet in question 
was a fake.
But Dvorkovich is pretty peripheral to Putin's inner circle while Yakunin is a bona fide member of his Politburo.

Nevertheless, if last week's firing wasn't exactly unprecedented, it was at least highly unusual. And so too was another firing that actually happened.

According to most accounts, Putin really didn't want to remove Anatoly Serdyukov as defense minister last November despite the procurement scandals engulfing him. But he appeared to have been pressured into doing so by a cabal of aides including Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, and Russian Technologies chief Sergei Chemezov.

It "may have been the first instance of Putin giving in to pressure and doing something he didn't want to do," political analyst 
Vladimir Pribylovsky
 wrote recently. 

Yakunin's fake firing and Serdyukov's real one each illustrate that despite his bluster, Putin has actually become an increasingly weak leader who can no longer control his courtiers. On last week's
Power Vertical podcast
, co-host Mark Galeotti of New York University likened the phenomenon to that of a collective mirage being lifted. 

"In politics, everything is about a consensual hallucination. Everything is about people agreeing with each other about what really matters. People agreeing with each other about who is powerful," said Galeotti, who authors the blog "
In Moscow's Shadows

"Putin for a long time was the beneficiary of this," Galeotti added. "He had this astonishingly effective image as the ruthless, mechanical, totally well informed 
 in the Kremlin. People on the whole didn't want to go up against him."

Nobody is going up against him yet. Not directly anyway.

But he couldn't prevent what was a clear attack -- even if it is still unclear from whom -- against Yakunin, one of his closest allies. And he couldn't resist the Ivanov-Rogozin-Chemezov conspiracy to get Serdyukov fired.

Putin is also known to disdain the elite airing its dirty laundry in public, and during his first stint in the Kremlin the mudslinging was kept to a minimum.

Now it is commonplace.

Remember those 
videos attacking Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
 that appeared on the YouTube account of Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin? 

It was once unthinkable for members of Putin's inner circle to openly vie to be his successor. Now it is conventional wisdom that 
the president's own chief of staff
 is angling for that designation.

All the open infighting, brazen shenanigans, and naked ambition suggest not only that the chimera of Putin's omnipotence is fading. It also suggests that Putin is no longer able to perform his key role as the ultimate trusted arbiter of disputes among the elite's various clans -- the role that has long made him Russia's
 indispensable man.
Nobody is quite saying "
pay no attention to that man behind the curtain
" quite yet.

But the consensual hallucination in the Kremlin is indeed fading.

And we still don't know what reality -- or the next hallucination -- will look like.

-- Brian Whitmore
Read the whole story
· ·

For Snowden, a Hasty Exit Started With Pizza Inside a Hong Kong Hideout 

For Snowden, a Hasty Exit Started With Pizza Inside a Hong Kong Hideout by By KEITH BRADSHER - NYT

For Snowden, a Hasty Exit Started With Pizza Inside a Hong Kong Hideout 

1 Share
Before leaving Hong Kong, Edward J. Snowden sought answers from the government about the consequences of his decisions.

Quotation of the Day: "I think telling the story about male victims is the key t... 

1 Share
Quotation of the Day: "I think telling the story about male victims is the key to changing the culture of the military." — Anuradha K. Bhagwati, executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network, on reports that the majority of service members who are sexually assaulted are men.

In Debate Over Military Sexual Assault, Men Are Overlooked Victims
In its latest report on sexual assault, the Pentagon estimated that 53 percent involved attacks on men, mostly by other men.

Why didn't Snowden board the flight to Cuba?

1 Share
Cuba might be trying to keep its word to the US.

Taking Note: Edward Snowden’s Mad Dash

1 Share
He is diminishing himself by seeking asylum in countries that have their own agendas.

Berlusconi Sentenced to 7 Years in Sex Case

1 Share
Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian leader, was expected to appeal a court ruling that he paid for sex with a minor.

British woman 'raped in Moscow nightclub run by bikers' group'

1 Share
The source added that a gynaecologist had confirmed sexual contact took place.
Russian media, citing sources close to the investigation, said the woman had attended the club for the first time to see a concert by a group called Zelenka Band, and was "dragged off to a secluded place" there by her attacker. After the alleged assault, she reportedly went back with police to examine CCTV footage but was unable to identify her attacker.
A spokesman for the British Embassy in Moscow said: "We can confirm an incident [took place] involving a British national in Russia on June 15. We are providing consular assistance." The discrepancy in dates could not be immediately explained.
A man who answered a phone number listed on the Sexton club's website said there was no one available to comment. He said he believed Mr Zaldostanov was presently out of the country.
Earlier, Mr Zaldostanov told the popular Russian website Life News that "nothing happened in the club".
"Nobody raped anyone here," he was quoted as saying.
It is not the first time the Night Wolves have been drawn into controversy. Last year a member of the group was shot dead during a violent confrontation with a rival group, the Three Roads.
The clash was said at the time to be rooted in the smaller club's reluctance to endorse the Night Wolves' high-profile support of the Kremlin.
Earlier this year, Mr Putin awarded Mr Zaldostanov with the prestigious Order of Honour at a ceremony at Novo-Ogarevo, the president's residence outside Moscow. The state medal was given for the biker's "active work in patriotic upbringing of the young" and for helping search for the remains of dead World War Two soldiers.
Next Page of Stories
Page 2

Obama and Putin Signal a More Businesslike Path -

1 Share

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Barack Obama and Vladimir V. Putin during the Group of 8 conference in Northern Ireland.

1 Share

Obama and Putin Signal a More Businesslike Path

19 Jun 2013 — USA
President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin have agreed that they would create a working group on improving trade and investment to be led by US Vice President Joseph Biden and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Obama said: ”We had extensive discussions about how we can further deepen our economic and commercial relationships. I think we are poised to increase both trade and investment between our two countries. And that can create jobs and business opportunities, both for Russians and Americans.”
Source: The New York Times

Russia needs to reclaim its 'digital sovereignty' from US, says MP | World news

1 Share
Moscow internet cafe
An internet cafe in Moscow. Foreign websites should all be forced to be subject to Russian laws, a United Russia MP says. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/AFP/Getty Images
A prominent Russian MP has called on the country to boost its "digital sovereignty" and wean its citizens off foreign websites following revelations that the US was operating surveillance systems to spy on foreigners' electronic communications.
Sergei Zheleznyak, a member of the ruling United Russia party and deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, wrote in a column published on Wednesday that the revelations, leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, should prompt Russia to re-strategise its approach to the internet.
He said he would introduce legislation this autumn to create a "national server", which analysts say would require foreign websites to register on Russian territory, thus giving the Kremlin's own security services "backdoor" access.
Russia has been seeking ways to address the skyrocketing growth of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook in the country, particularly following street protests that accompanied Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin last year.
"The US, which presents itself as a bastion of democracy, has in fact been carrying out minute-by-minute surveillance of tens of millions of citizens of Russia and other countries," Zheleznyak wrote in the online journal Ekonomika i Zhizn (Economics and Life).
"All the main internet companies that were formed in the US are involved in this ugly story, and these companies operate on the territory of our country."
Referring to the Duma's recent adoption of an anti-gay law, Zheleznyak continued: "The Americans reproach us for curbing the propaganda of sodomy among kids and then stick their noses into the personal correspondence of tens of millions of Russian citizens."
Zheleznyak said that "naive Russian users" of social media were "actually being cynically used" in order to have their information, including financial information, gathered and stored. He said Russia should conduct a "thorough investigation of American companies' and intelligence agencies' illegal access to the private information of Russian citizens".
"I think we must secure the digital sovereignty of our country. The world is changing," Zheleznyak wrote. He proposed creating a national "server network" that would include "personal data and information" and subject all websites to Russian laws.
Andrei Soldatov, an analyst who focuses on the Russian security services and internet, said: "It seems that the NSA scandal makes a perfect excuse for the Russian authorities to launch a campaign to bring global web platforms such as Gmail, Facebook or Twitter under Russian jurisdiction – either requiring them to be accessible in Russia by the domain extension '.ru', or obliging them to be hosted on Russian territory. In this case the services would be required to build backdoors for the Russian secret services."
Zheleznyak also said the Kremlin should boost support of the Russian web industry. "We must create our own information products, and not use others'," he wrote.
Read the whole story
· · ·

Obama, in Berlin, calls for U.S., Russia to cut nuclear warheads