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Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria, Ukraine, and Phony US Election Meddling

Sun, 30/12/2018 - 23:52
Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria, Ukraine, and Phony US Election Meddling by Stephen Lendman ( - Home - Stephen Lendman) Endless war in Syria continues despite most parts of the country liberated from US-supported terrorists.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Hysterical Media Promoted Fake News About Russia

Sat, 29/12/2018 - 17:39
Hysterical Media Promoted Fake News About Russia by Stephen Lendman ( - Home - Stephen Lendman) Major media in America and the West operate as mouthpieces for wealth, power and privilege - betraying their readers and viewers. 
Categories: Russia & CIS

2019: Putin should end 'friendship' with USA, Japan and Belarus

Thu, 27/12/2018 - 17:13
Friendship between Russia and Belarus has become an issue recently. Is Russia going to be friends with Belarus in 2019 or is the brotherly nation going to join the ranks of Russia's enemies similarly to Ukraine? Moreover, Russian experts believe that President Putin should not be friends either with his US counterpart Donald Trump or Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. There are many questions about 2019, the answers to which we would like to know already today, as the year 2018 is about to end. Will Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko win the election? Will Russia sign a peace treaty with Japan? Pravda.Ru turned to political scientist, deputy dean of the Department of World Economy and Politics of the Higher School of Economics, Andrei Suzdaltsev, in a humble attempt to find out the future that the world is going to see in the next 365 days."Ukraine will hold the presidential election in March of 2019. What chances do you think sitting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has to win the vote? "His re-election is quite possible, although this is not going to happen within the framework of the democratic expression of the will of the people. The people of Ukraine will most likely go to the polls to choose between two evils. Poroshenko may also try to extend his stay in power, as he has already tried having declared martial law in Ukraine. I do not think we are going to bid farewell to Petro Poroshenko in the spring of 2019.""Do you think they will impeach Donald Trump in the United States in 2019?" "I do not think so. Trump's impeachment is excluded. There is no technical opportunity for it,  because it is the Republicans who control the Senate. There is an unprecedented campaign going on against Trump now in the States, he snarls, and all this rocks the boat a lot. The US elite are confident that the country's political system is stable and strong, but they do not notice political changes that are taking place before them as the country is increasingly shifting towards a parliamentary-presidential republic. We believe that the situation, in which the Americans are looking for the enemy in the face of Russia is now fading away.""What unexpected decisions can Trump make?" "He is unpredictable. He has become a symbol of fruitless politics on the international arena. It is the US Congress that regulates all international affairs and US foreign policies in relation to Russia, China, Korea, Iran and so on. Trump is aware of it, and he tries to do something to attract attention to his persona of a major international leader. In fact, he is a hooligan rather than a leader. He has no potential in the international arena. It makes no sense for Russia to come to any agreement with Trump. There is no point for Putin to arrange meetings with Trump either. Donald Trump is not even close to such presidents as Nixon, Ford, or Reagan. There was no good from meetings with Barack Obama either. Obama had his head in the clouds. Trump tries to act to his own benefit of a public persona, so his PR stunts will continue in 2019. Russia does not need to contribute to his promotion. All the talking about Trump being a sincere person, who tries to improve relations with Russia is rubbish. The United States sees Russia as a nuclear power - the only power on the planet that can destroy the United States in return. That's all.""Do you think Russia can sign a peace treaty with Japan?""I come from the Far East of Russia, and I can understand Sakhalin residents, who are vehemently opposed to the idea of delivering a few Kuril Islands to Japan. A nation can lose its territory only during the time of war. We hadn't lost anything to Japan. The fact that this situation has become a stumbling block in our relations may also contain a hidden motive of Soviet diplomacy. It's like the Crimea that was given away to Ukraine. "I can see that the Russian administration is doing its best to find a solution to this problem. Yet, if we solve the problem by giving our land away, we will doom Russia. As soon as we give away small islands of Habomai and Shikotan, the Japanese will ask for Iturup right away. They will keep asking for more, and if we give the islands away, others will rush to ask for their pie too. The Japanese do not want to try to understand Russia, but this does not mean that we will sell out our territory.""How can Russia develop the relationship with Japan then?" "We should leave this topic behind and show determination. There are many of those in Russia who believe that we should surrender and give away the Kaliningrad enclave, the Kuril Islands, return the Crimea. Those people do not seem to understand that if we start giving away, the process will not end until we give away everything. At the same time, there are many people in Russia who think that Russia should stick to tit-for-tat policy: to sink foreign vessels that enter Russian territorial waters, and show tough response to other attacks. The West is bullying Russia. The British have been bullying us a lot lately. We were surprised that the Brits did not blame Russia for the drone incident at Gatwick Airport."There is also the "happy medium" - the people who think that Russia should act within the framework of international law, fight back, persuade, explain, stay firm in negotiations, perform without the national flag at the Olympics - in short, to tolerate and endure all these humiliations. Those people who stick to this kind of position know what patience is. One has to admit that the Russian administration sticks to this policy. "Let's take Belarus and its president Alexander Lukashenko. For 25 years, we have not seen any integration, but we have seen rudeness, an anti-Russian campaign inside Belarus and anti-Russian foreign policy. Lukashenko comes to Russia, puts his feet on the table and asks for another ten billion dollars. In fact, Lukashenko has been waging an information war against Russia too. He ships military hardware and fuel to Ukraine and then says rude things Putin in the face. Lukashenko is the only president in the world, who attacks Putin verbally in his presence. Strangely enough, Russia has invested over 100 billion dollars in Belarus in 25 years."Read article in Russian
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia's 2018: Confidence in Putin gone

Wed, 26/12/2018 - 16:29
The main event of the outgoing year 2018 for Russia is neither the FIFA World Cup nor even the opening of the Crimean Bridge. The main event is the pension reform, the negative influence of which has undermined public confidence in the president. Russia's Pension reform - Putin' brainchild Gone are the days when most Russians would praise President Putin for his desire to listen to no-one important people. However, the decision of the Russian government to raise the retirement age in Russia and the swift approval of the relevant law showed that Vladimir Putin listens to interests of big business representatives to the detriment of the interests of the population.Putin says that one would have to raise the retirement age in Russia in five or seven years anyway. Yet, this mantra of his sounds unconvincing just because this is a long period of time, during which it could be possible to break the negative trend. There were good proposals made at this point, but they were all about the redistribution of income of large capital and the introduction of a progressive taxation scale. Also read: Putin loses everything he hasFor example, the rate of returns in gasoline prices in the Russian oil industry is 40 percent. This is a lot. For comparison, the profitability in the mining industry in the United States is only ten percent. The average profit rate in Russia is eight to ten percent. In a nutshell, Russian oil companies receive extra high monopoly profits, the lion's share of which accounts for the natural resource royalty, which the state should appropriate to spend it on the needs of the people.Putin decided not to go that way. He took account of the fact that many current pensioners in Russia are indifferent to the pension reform, because they still receive their pensions. In addition, the majority of young Russians are indifferent to the issue as well, because it is too early for them to think about pensions. The decision to raise the retirement age in Russia has struck not just the material (people will lose 82.2 billion rubles of income during the first year of the program), but the psychological blow on the country.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin: The world underestimates danger of nuclear war

Thu, 20/12/2018 - 15:49
On December 20, Russian President Putin started his 14th, large press conference. Interestingly, on December 20 Russia marks the Day of the Security Officer, which has been commonly known in Russia as the "Chekist Day" ('Chekist' is a Russian colloquialism for 'KGB officer'). After the press conference, Putin will attend a gala evening dedicated to this date.A record number of journalists - more than 1,700 people - were accredited for the press conference. Traditionally, Putin started the press conference with a brief report about the economic situation in Russia. The president said that Russia's GDP grew by 1.7 percent over the year. The real level of wages was growing, while the inflation rate remained on an acceptable level. As of 2018, it will exceed the target level of 4 percent and will make up 4.1-4.2 percent. The unemployment level in the country decreased to 4.8 percent having thus set an all-time low, Putin said. Life expectancy in the Russian Federation in 2018 increased to 72.9 years compared to 72.7 years last year.The budget surplus of the Russian Federation in 2018 will make up 2.1 percent of GDP.Putin stressed that Russia needs a breakthrough, a leap into the new technological order. This requires resources, which the government and the administration are looking for. Answering a question of whether the Russian economy is stagnating, Putin said that the government did not rely on "mechanical" calculations in its forecasts. The government plans a growth of three  percent by 2021. Fluctuations are possible, but it is important to enter another league of economies, Putin said, adding that Russia's goal is to become the fifth economy in the world.Speaking about the work of the Russian government, Putin said that he was "generally pleased" with the work that the Russian government conducts under the chairmanship of Dmitry Medvedev. According to the head of state, the budget surplus of 2.1 percent of GDP is a good indicator of the work of the government.Answering the question of whether the fiscal burden on Russian people was too high and how it could be related to the policy of the government that raises VAT, housing and utility tariffs for people and imposes a tax on self-employed individuals, Putin said that in many countries VAT makes up 20% (Russia is raising VAT from 18 to 20 percent from January 1, 2019). Putin said that the change in the VAT rate was necessary to reduce oil and gas budget deficit. He said that during the recent economic crises, Russia was forced to spend petrodollars, which led to an increase in the oil and gas deficit. It became possible to reduce it to 6.6 percent.Answering a question about fears of a new global military conflict, a global nuclear disaster and a world war, Putin noted that the world was underestimating the danger of a nuclear war during the recent years. The danger of such a scenario in the world is being obscured, which may lead to the death of human civilisation and even the whole planet, President Putin said. In the West, there is an idea of using low yield nuclear weapons, but the use of such weapons can lead to a global catastrophe, the Russian leader stressed.Answering a question about unnecessary conflicts between authorities and representatives of the younger generation, about dispersing rap concerts, banning young people from participating in rallies, Putin said that young people make the foundation of today's and future Russia.Yet, there are different kinds of young people, he said. He referred to the story of young paratroopers, who were fighting to death with hordes of terrorists. "Out of several dozen, only six of them remained, and they were fighting against two thousand militants," said Putin making a reference to the feat of 90 paratroopers from Pskov, who engaged in a battle with 2,500 Chechen terrorists near the village of Ulus-Kert in 2000. In addition to young military men, there are a lot of young volunteers and people who are engaged in search and rescue activities. "Those people make the stronghold of today and the future of Russia," Putin said, adding that "there are also talented musicians."He then condemned the drug propaganda in rap songs. "Do we want to degrade? In no way this should be encouraged. At the same time, one should counteract differently here," he said. Therefore, the Russian president considers the arrests of rap singers and the abortion of their concerts unnecessary, since such conflicts are counterproductive."Yet, there is nothing good in the fact that they use foul language in their songs - but let them sing so," Putin noted. "Art does not exist to indulge sordid values," he added. Speaking about the state of affairs in Ukraine, attempts to solve political problems of the Donbass by force are doomed to failure, Vladimir Putin said when answering a question from a correspondent of Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, who asked the Russian president how much money Russia spends on the Donbass, whose people Russia treats like slaves."Attempts to solve political issues with the help of force, and we can see that this is exactly what the Ukrainian authorities have been doing for several years, are doomed to failure. It must be understood," Putin said.Putin also said that Russian-Ukrainian relations are not going to go back to normal until there were Russophobes in power in Ukraine. "As long as there are Russophobes in power in Kiev, who do not understand what the interests of their own people are, an abnormal situation like this will continue regardless of who is in power in the Kremlin," Putin said.At the same time, Russia is interested in peace and prosperity in Ukraine, as Ukraine remains one of the largest economic partners of the Russian Federation. The trade turnover between Russia and Ukraine has increased compared to 2017. "This is not strange, because it is a natural connection, and these natural connections will someday make their presence felt," he added.Russia will continue providing humanitarian and other assistance to people living in the Donbass. "We really provide humanitarian, other type of assistance and support to people who live in this territory. We are doing it so that they do not get crushed, torn and eaten there. And we will do it further," said the head of state.It was not Russia, but the Ukrainian authorities that set up the blockade between the Donbass and the rest of Ukraine. "It is them, who shell the people, whom they consider their own citizens. Every day people get killed there - civilian people," Putin said. Maria Butina, a Russian citizen, who was arrested in the USA, was not executing any tasks for the Russian authorities, no matter what she may say.  Therefore, there are no grounds for accusations against Butina in the United States, Putin said. "They force her to confess, but I do not really understand what she can confess there, because she was not fulfilling any assignments of the state bodies of Russia, and I can responsibly declare this to you, no matter what she's saying there under the influence of threats of imprisonment for 12-15 years," said Putin. "I don't understand why they jailed her. There is simply no reason for it," Putin added.Speaking about the detention of foreign citizens in the United States, Putin said that Moscow would not be acting on an "eye for an eye" principle to subsequently exchange prisoners.Speaking about the case of Skripal poisoning, Putin said that there was nothing to comment on - Skripal and his daughter are alive, but the media hype does not subside. Thus, the Skripal case is only a pretext for an attack on Moscow, Putin said. "If there had been no Skripals, they would have come up with something else just to contain the development of Russia as a competitor," Putin said. At the same time, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, but no one introduces sanctions, the Russian president recalled, pointing out the policy of double standards in the West.The Russian president believes that the Russian economy has adapted itself to international sanctions. Generally, Russia has always been living under sanctions which the West impose on Russia at the time when Russia's power and international influence grows. The West has lost the Russian market, and the number of jobs in the West has declined. The unemployment level in Russia is only 4.8 percent, while in EU countries, for example, in Spain, it reaches 15 percent, he said. Moreover, restrictions forced the Russians to think different in many areas. The share of transport engineering currently makes up more than 90 percent, while sales to the foreign market have increased.Answering a question about growing nostalgia for the times of the USSR among the Russians, President Vladimir Putin said that he considered the restoration of socialism in Russia impossible."I think it is impossible," he said. "A profound change in society excludes the restoration of socialism ... this is impossible," the president added.Speaking about elements of socialism that can and even need to be restored, Putin noted the equitable distribution of resources, the aspiration to reduce the level of poverty to a minimum, ensure medical and educational services to people on acceptable conditions. "We are carrying out such policies now. This is what our national projects aim to," Putin said. With regard to the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, Putin said that the United States withdraws troops from Afghanistan every year. The withdrawal of US troops from Syria, is not yet visible either, he noted.Putin said that there was no need for US troops to be present in Syria. "Let us not forget that the presence of US troops in Syria is illegitimate. The UN Security Council had not confirmed the presence of US troops in Syria. It is only the decision of the UN Security Council or the invitation from the legitimate government of Syria that can make the presence of a foreign military contingent in Syria legal," Putin added. Vladimir Putin agreed with Donald Trump who said that the United States contributed to the destruction of terrorists in Syria. "I agree with Donald here," he said but recalled that Russia had taken immense efforts to destroy terrorists."Despite all discrepancies, there's still quite a constructive dialogue between our specialists, our military men and special services to resolve acute problems in the struggle against terrorism in Syria," Putin said. Photo credits:
Categories: Russia & CIS

L'Antidiplomatico Interview: Andre Vltchek interviewed by Alessandro Bianchi

Sun, 02/12/2018 - 20:42
L'Antidiplomatico Interview: Andre Vltchek interviewed by Alessandro Bianchi    AB: Let's start from today's crisis in the Sea of Azov. The European Union and NATO have given full support to Ukraine after the violation of Russian sovereignty by two Ukrainian vessels. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave his full support to Poroshenko, who declared martial law. What does a country like Italy risk in continuing its accession to NATO?
Categories: Russia & CIS

Trump/Putin Meeting at G20: On or Off? Showdown with China's Xi Jinping?

Fri, 30/11/2018 - 10:40
Trump/Putin Meeting at G20: On or Off? Showdown with China's Xi Jinping? G20 leaders will meet on Friday and Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kiev's staged Black Sea provocation and Trump's trade war with China hang over the summit, along with US hostility toward Russia, endless war in Syria, and other major geopolitical issues. Major Sino/US differences highlighted the mid-November APEC summit - notably America first protectionism v. fair trade.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russians ready to endure anything for a life without war

Wed, 21/11/2018 - 17:38
Depression in Russian smaller cities continues rising, while state-run major corporations continue counting their profit. Nevertheless, most people in Russia are ready to endure any hardships. As they say in Russia - anything for a life without war. The psychology of the Russian person does not change and there is no leader who can change this. Real income of the population does not grow A study conducted by Romir public opinion research centre said that the volume of extra money in the average Russian household has decreased in October by 500 rubles or 2.2 percent as compared with September. Thus, the average Russian family has 22,000 rubles ($334) to spend after all bills are paid. Residents of smaller Russian cities with the population of 100,000 have suffered largest losses: 15,100 rubles of extra money a month, which marked a decline by 1,000 rubles as compared to September. The data suggests that the real incomes of most Russians do not grow, even though officials speak of the opposite. For example, German Gref, the head of Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, stated that Russian people started raising more loans and switched from savings to consumption. In reality, however, inflation and taxes eat the nominal growth of wages. Many Russians raise new bank loans to be able to repay the loans that they had raised before. Thus, a study by Equifix Bureau of Credit Histories said that overdue debts of the population to microfinancial institutions amounted to 35.4 billion rubles, which marked a record of 40.3 percent of the number of loans in the credit portfolio. The Duma and the government are too far from people Meanwhile, the government and the Duma continue making people's wallets thinner. Having raised the value added tax (the move that will raise prices in the country on all goods and services without exception), and the retirement age, the government proceeded to introducing a new tax on those individuals who take extra work (self-employed tax). To make matters worse, the government considers taxing "unhealthy food products" (such as sausages, for example) and introducing new insurance payments.Russians can get ready for mandatory real estate insurance, a rise in property taxes in connection with the transition to the cadastral base of valuation and so on. At the same time, however, the level of unemployment in provincial Russian cities has been on the rise lately. Such a state of affairs is supposed to disseminate protest sentiments in the country, the popularity of the ruling party is supposed to decrease too. However, most people still go to the polls to vote for United Russia. Nikita Isaev, director of the Institute of Actual Economics, told Pravda.Ru that there was economic growth in Russia. "It is formed in revenues from state corporations - oil and gas, banking, financial sectors, and so on. Most of the households that receive these revenues are concentrated in cities with a population of over one million. If we talk about a possible increase in population income, one does not talk about smaller cities and towns, where people survive," Nikita Isaev said. The state of affairs in Russia will get even more dangerous in 2019, the expert believes. "I traveled by car across Russia from Moscow to Sakhalin this year and talked to people from 29 regions. People told me that they were ready to make up with an increase in the retirement age, although it was not an unfair move on the part of the government. "They told me that they were ready to live for 6,000 rubles without social benefits and grow their food - they are ready for anything for a life without war. This is what the Russian people are all about - they are ready to endure everything at all times," Nikita Isaev noted."As our economic crisis is entering its fifth year, one has to admit that economic problems do not improve the situation. One needs a competitive form of economic and political structure, as well as the political will of the leader. Russia is so rich with natural and human resources, but Russia is also a part of the world that tries to defend itself from the cruel West," Nikita Isaev told Pravda.Ru.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Unemployment in Russia hits record high of 15 percent

Tue, 20/11/2018 - 14:50
Unemployed Russian citizens will have to pay all insurance contributions to social funds for themselves. It goes about the fees to the pension fund, the mandatory medical insurance fund and the social insurance fund. The new rule will affect only able-bodied individuals of working age who officially do not work anywhere.The suggestion in the draft law "On Amendments to Article 23, Article 419 and Article 425 of the Tax Code of the Russian Federation" was prepared by a member of the State Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs Sergei Vostretsov.Under the current law, the fees to the Pension Fund, the Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund and the Social Insurance Fund are paid by the employer (for employed individuals). In total, they make up 30 percent per month and give the right to free health care services, retirement benefits, sickness allowance, maternity and child care allowance. Every month, the employer shall transfer the following taxes for every employee: 22 percent to the Pension Fund, 5.1 percent to the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund and 2.9 percent to the Social Security Fund. The personal income tax is withheld from every employee as well. Vadim Gorshenin, the chairman of the Board of Directors of Pravda.Ru found a number of interesting nuances in Vostretsov's initiative. "From his initiative, we learn that 18 million Russians of working age do not work anywhere officially. I looked into the Rosstat data (I did not find the data for 2018), and in 2017, there were 3.967 million unemployed people in Russia, which accounted for 6.6 percent of the total working-age population. As of January 2018, Rosstat announced that the unemployment rate in Russia declined to 5.2%, that is, to 3.918 million."At the same time, Russian officials announced that the unemployment level in 2018 reached its all-time low. All of a sudden, we can see Mr. Vostretsov saying that there are as many as 18 million unemployed people in the country. Let's take these figures as a basis and we will find out that the unemployment level in today's Russia actually makes up 15 percent - the highest in the 2000s. Before that, the record was 9.4 percent - 5.544 million people."There is something that I like about Mr. Vostretsov's initiative - namely the need for unemployed citizens to cover their own social welfare spending. Such a measure should educate civil feelings and understanding of what our common state budget is made of. I have long proposed to introduce this principle with respect to all citizens in general, rather than just a single category of people. On the other hand, what if such a move would double or triple the unemployment rate?"In the meantime, there is a clear understanding that the treasury is empty while oligarchs keep counting their growing dividend from privatised mineral companies."Vadim GorsheninPravda.Ru Chairman of Board of Directors  Read article in Russian
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia rips its economy apart with help from the West

Wed, 14/11/2018 - 12:26
Experts believe that the rate of the Russian ruble may collapse again just like it happened during the crisis in 2014. In turn, Russian companies may deal with the shortage of currency to pay their debts on foreign markets. Pravda.Ru reported earlier that the net outflow of capital from Russia during the first ten months of 2018 made up $42.2 billion, which was three times as much as in the same period last year. This is the largest capital outflow figure that Russia has seen since 2014. Almost all of the additional income that Russia has received from growing oil prices was levelled off because of the outflow of capital, chief economist at VEB (Vnesheconombank, Foreign Economic Bank) Andrei Klepach believes. "If we look at the dynamics of the ruble exchange rate and its separation from the dynamics of oil prices, we can see that all the revenues obtained from the current oil price of $70 per barrel as opposed to the earlier predicted price of $50, have been taken out of the country. In other words, nothing of those extra revenues has settled in the Russian economy - everything was taken out," said Andrei Klepach.Valentin Katasonov, a professor at the Department of International Finance of MGIMO, told Pravda.Ru that Russian businessmen take their capitals out of Russia over the fear of economic sanctions against the Russian Federation. "They cannot handle stabs in the back that the Russian Central Bank and the Finance Ministry inflict on the Russian economy, because such things can cause their fortunes to shrink," the expert believes. The expert noted that the Russian Central Bank still violates Article No. 75 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which binds the bank to ensure the protection and stability of the Russian ruble. Instead, the Central Bank pursues the inflation targeting policy and has in fact abandoned maintaining the ruble exchange rate by conducting currency interventions."This may eventually cause the currency to collapse again as it happened in December 2014," said Valentin Katasonov. According to the expert, there are three constituents in the outflow of capital. "First off, this is the net outflow of private capital, the second part is the negative balance on investment income - this is what Western creditors receive as interest on loans. The third part is the growth in gold reserves."According to my calculations, these constituents make the capital outflow of $100 billion a year. Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, gives a much smaller amount, but Central Bank estimates are nothing but bluff. The Central Bank does not control anything. To regulate the problem, one needs to restrict the movement of capital," Valentin Katasonov told Pravda.Ru.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia close to recognising Donetsk and Luhansk republics after Donbass elections

Tue, 13/11/2018 - 15:51
Moscow has strengthened its position in Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics (LDNR) on Sunday, November 11. Now there are legitimate authorities in the republics, with which Russia can implement the project of the economic integration of the Donbass.Representatives of Western countries and Ukraine released a joint statement at the UN, in which they said that they did not recognise the elections. This was predictable and uninteresting. Everyone understands that the elections in the breakaway republics became a real step towards the recognition of the independence of the People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk by the Russian Federation.Moscow has repeatedly reminded that Russia was only a guarantor of the Minsk Accords. Kiev shows unwillingness to implement them and even tries to kill those who signed the documents. After the assassination of Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of the People's Republic of Donetsk, the Kremlin lost its patience. Moscow eventually agreed to hold the elections in the breakaway territories on November 11, even though Russia had earlier declined such an opportunity in 2015 and 2016 at the request of Normandy format "partners." The turnout at the election was over 70 percent. Kremlin officials said that they could "understand" the aspirations of republican residents. One can read between the lines here that Russia's economic integration with the region is inevitable. The people of the Donbass have deserved their sovereignty, and Moscow can see it. The economic integration with the People's Republic of Luhansk was launched in 2017. External management was introduced at a number of strategic companies of the republics in 2017. A separate company - Vneshtorgservis - was registered to take control of all city-forming companies working in the metallurgical, coal and chemical industries. In 2017, 14 companies resumed their work in the People's Republic of Donetsk. Their products were exported to 15 countries of the world with Russia being the largest importer - 87.5 percent. Russia also accounts for one-third of the exports of mechanical engineering products.The introduction of external management at Luhansk companies that used to be affiliated with Ukraine, made it possible to save more than 60,000 jobs, the head of the People's Republic of Luhansk, Leonid Pasechnik said. In 2018, the republic plans to launch nine more industrial companies, including the Stakhanov Ferroalloy Plant, the Luhansk Pipe Plant, the Krasnoluchsky Machine Building Plant, the Bryankovo Drilling Equipment Plant, and the Kirov Blacksmith Plant, Rhythm of Eurasia wrote. It is worthy of note that President Putin signed a decree approving the new Concept of the State Migration Policy for 2019-2025. The policy will simplify the acquisition of Russian citizenship for Russians in the Donbas. After the distribution of passports, the situation will develop according to the scenario of the integration of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It is worthy of note that Hungary follows a similar practice distributing passports to Hungarians in Transcarpathia.In five years, Donbass will be de facto integrated with Russia economically. The legal integration is a long process, but it will accelerate with the collapse of Ukraine or its pro-Russian transformation, if this can ever be possible.Denis Pushilin gained 61 percent of the vote in the election of the head of the People's Republic of Donetsk, whereas Leonid Pasechnik won the support of 68 percent in Luhansk.We may suggest that Putin will recognise the independence of People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk to trigger their swift economic integration with Russia if the West continues putting the pressure of sanctions on Russia. Read article in Russian
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian Foreign Minister negotiates with terrorists in Moscow

Mon, 12/11/2018 - 17:50
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had a meeting with the administration of the Taliban* terrorist organisation in Moscow. Originally, the Russian government intended to have representatives of the government of Afghanistan involved in the talks. The latter, however, refused to talk to terrorists in the capital of Russia. Russia's Foreign Minister did not miss such an opportunity, though. After the meeting, a member of the Taliban,* Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, set out a hope that such meetings would take place in the future as well. Daria Mitina, ex-deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, granddaughter of the Prime Minister of Afghanistan in 1963-1965, shared her point of view on the subject of why the Russian government wants to conduct negotiations with terrorists. "Why does the Russian government negotiate with terrorists?""The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation has been trying to make representatives of the official government of Afghanistan and the Taliban* movement sit down at the table of negotiations for 20 years already. The Taliban* sees the government of Afghanistan as a puppet government controlled by the United States of America. Unfortunately, they have every reason to believe so, because Washington had provided every type of support to overthrow the Taliban* regime in Afghanistan. Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai took office with the help of the United States."Ashraf Ghani, the sitting head of state, came to power in a completely different way. He took office as a result of the official election that divided the country into two opposing camps. Ghani defeated incumbent Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah by a slender majority. It is believed in Afghanistan that the candidates won an equal number of votes and found a compromise to make Ghani the president and Abdullah - the prime minister."Nevertheless, the Taliban*, continues to believe that Afghanistan still remains in the hands of the United States. Today, the Taliban* takes more and more regions of the country under control, and Moscow is trying to make the parties to the conflict negotiate." "Still, it just so happens that Russia is negotiating with terrorists. How can it be possible at all?" "One can negotiate with anyone, even with the devil himself. The main thing here is the goal. If the goal is to resolve the Afghan issue and establish peace in the country, then the talks are perfectly justifiable. In this particular case, however, the story is quite complicated. Look at Russia's actions in Syria. Russia found there the terrorists with whom negotiations can be possible. During several years of its military presence in Syria, Russia managed to establish dialogue between the parties that used to kill each other before. Russia started the peace process in Syria, and nearly all territories of the Arab republic have been liberated from criminal groups. "In Afghanistan, everything is different, to put it mildly. Kabul believes that Russia wants to overthrow the current government in Afghanistan to put a representative of the Taliban* in power. Afghan officials do not accept the idea of Moscow's intention to negotiate with the Taliban*. The Taliban* is just like the Islamic State*, a local version of the movement. No one knows what the Taliban is going to do in the future - maybe the movement will decide to expand its sphere of influence. In general, Russia should view the Taliban as a real national threat."   *terrorist groups, banned in Russia
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia’s sanctions against Ukraine send message to Washington

Fri, 02/11/2018 - 15:41
Russia's sanctions against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies come as a serious blow to the economy of Ukraine. The sanctions block non-cash funds, securities and property on the territory of the Russian Federation. They also prohibit the transfer of Ukrainian capital out of Russia. However, the Russian authorities have not sanctioned the Ukrainian oligarchs, who finance the war in the Donbass. Ukraine's top Russophobes - President Petro Poroshenko, oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Rinat Akhmetov do not appear on Russia's black lists either. Has Russia struck a serious blow on Ukraine indeed? We asked this question to experts.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia imposes massive sanctions on Ukraine, but spares Chocolate King Poroshenko

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:50
Russia imposed economic sanctions against 322 Ukrainian citizens and 68 companies. The Kremlin hopes that the sanctions will help normalise Ukraine's relations with Russia. The decree to impose sanctions against Ukrainian natural persons and legal entities was signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to counteract unfriendly actions against Russian citizens and organisations.Russia will thus freeze bank accounts, securities and property in Russia for individuals and legal entities of Ukraine. In addition, it will not be allowed to withdraw capital outside Russia. The sanctions apply to judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 8th convocation, major Ukrainian entrepreneurs, officials of the presidential administration of Ukraine, heads of executive bodies and large Ukrainian companies, legal entities controlled by Ukraine's largest businessmen.Russia's sanctions will in particular affect Ukrainian MP Anton Gerashchenko, the leader of the Batkivshchyna party Yulia Tymoshenko, former head of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev, chief military prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios and the son of Ukrainian President, businessman Alexei Poroshenko. The sanctions will also be imposed on chemical company Ukrhimenergo, located in the Luhansk region.Russia may lift the sanctions in the event Ukraine lifts its sanctions against Russia. Reportedly, however, Russia's sanctions list does not include Ukraine's wealthiest man Rinat Akhmetov, whose fortune was evaluated at $5.5 billion according to Forbes magazine. Akhmetov's key industrial assets are concentrated in the Donbas, from where he comes. His companies provide electricity and heat to most of Ukraine's settlements.The list of Russia's sanctions against Ukraine does not include Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman. The sanctions will not affect businessman Igor Kononenko - Poroshenko's right hand and his main business partner. Poroshenko's confectionary holding Roshen does not appear on the lists either. Introducing retaliatory measures against Ukraine, the Kremlin expects Kiev to show political will to normalise relations with the Russian Federation sooner or later, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.When asked about the absence of Ukrainian president on Russia's black lists, Peskov said that presidents usually are not included on sanctions lists as it would be off the scale, Putin's official spokesman said. Ukraine imposed sanctions against dozens of Russian citizens after Russia reunited with the Crimea in 2014. Ukraine has been expanding its restrictions against Russia afterwards. In May 2018, the list contained the names of 1,748 Russian individuals and 756 legal entities. They are Russian MPs, Russian political parties, businessmen and their companies.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Is Putin guilty of the Kerch school massacre?

Fri, 19/10/2018 - 19:13
Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of Valdai Discussion Club that the tragedy at the Polytechnic College in the city of Kerch was "a result of globalisation." However, he did not say who has drawn us into this globalisation."In social networks, on the Internet, we can see that whole communities being created. Everything started with well-known tragic events at schools in the United States," the President of the Russian Federation said. Well, it is easy to blame abstract "globalisation" for what happened. In fact, one may come to a completely different conclusion, and one needs to look for it in the policy of the elite, to which Mr. Putin belongs. Russia lacks youth organisations, like the ones we used to have during the Soviet times - Pioneer or Komsomol organisations. In the Soviet Union, there were no such tragedies, nor were there any security guards and metal detectors at schools - there were teachers and students instead. Sergei Komkov, President of the All-Russian Education Fund, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that the Kerch massacre came as a consequence of the educational reform which Russia had been conducting on the advice of American specialists. "We warned 15-20 years ago that a tragedy like the one that happened in Kerch would be possible in Russia by analogy with what was happening in America," the expert said. The expert referred to the book by Bel Kaufman, "Up The Down Staircase," in which the author talks about the morale at American school in the 60-70s. "I flew to the USA in the 1990s. I was observing how things were working there, and they deported me in 1997 after I told them what it would all end up with," the expert told Pravda.Ru. During the 1990s, in accordance with recommendations from Soros advisors, Russia started reforming its educational system on the American template. "They had eradicated the ideological component, the system of upbringing, and switched to the mere transfer of knowledge and skills," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.All school youth organisations were taken out of schools. In addition, on the advice of Westerners, all additional education could be received for money. The reform sharply divided the youth based on the income of their parents, Sergey Komkov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. According to the expert, an army of hopeless children had appeared in Russia already in the late 1990s. Children did not know what to do as their parents were doing their best to try to survive during the time of the crisis," the expert told Pravda.Ru. The system of upbringing should be restored at Russian schools as well. "The first thing we need to do is to kick all Western advisers right out. One needs to close the Higher School of Economics, because this school is a nest of American and British advisers. It was them who introduced the Unified State Exam system, the testing system, the system of sex education - they are trying to prove it to us that the most important thing is the system of education, rather than upbringing.""Security guards cannot protect children. They can be protected if they get engaged in creative work, hiking trips, including to sites of military glory, if they sing in the choir, learn how to dance, how to draw, if they are busy with research activities and history studies. In this case, an idea to grab a rifle and go to school to kill other kids will not occur to them," the expert told Pravda.Ru. "We must have our own brains to do everything the Russian way and avoid the American template," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia wants to switch the world to its own SWIFT system

Thu, 04/10/2018 - 14:13
Foreign companies will be able to access the Russian equivalent of the SWIFT payment system. The State Duma is preparing a bill designed to protect the companies that have fallen under Western sanctions in order to give them a possibility to conduct mutual settlements with foreign counterparties. Russian MPs believe that the system will function most effectively if the BRICS countries, as well as Iran and Turkey, join it. "Although they plan to use national currencies in settlements with Russia, but they do not exclude that settlements can be conducted through the Russian equivalent of SWIFT," Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets said. Earlier, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Olga Skorobogatova, said that connecting foreign companies to the financial messaging system would expand possibilities for mutual exchange of messages and settlements between sanctioned companies that do not have access to making payments through the original SWIFT system, and foreign contractors.The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a financial messaging system known for the Russian initials as SPFS. The bill stipulates for direct messaging between both Russian and foreign legal entities.According to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, there are more than 400 participants in the SPFS system, including banks, the federal treasury, legal entities, and corporate clients. "Inside the country, our system covers the exchange in financial messages completely," a source at the Central Bank of Russia said. "If we talk about cross-border operations, they can be implemented only on the basis of the agreement between several countries. There are such discussions happening already on the level of both the Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS."In the near future, SWIFT may have another competitor in Europe. The head of the German Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas, said in August that the European Union was in need of its own and independent SWIFT system to protect the financial stability of European companies from US sanctions. Russia found such an intention of European partners quite natural. After the appearance of the European SWIFT system, Russia intends to offer European companies to incorporate a Russian analogue to SWIFT."The possibility to connect foreign countries to the Russian system depends on a number of factors. As for Iran, a lot depends on the volume of economic cooperation that is going to happen. So far, it has not been large at all, but there are reasons for it to grow, especially in the oil and gas sector," Nikolai Kozhanov, a researcher at the European University at St. Petersburg Energy Policy Research Center said. Turkey is already showing willingness to cooperate with the Russian SWIFT. "The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a revolutionary innovation in the digital world. The possibility of its use by Turkish companies can provide an important development of trade relations between our countries," Mehmet Yolcu, chairman of the board of directors of FinExpertiza Turkey said.According to Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, China's position on the matter will depend on its relations with the United States. The worse China's relationship with the States goes, the better it is for the Russian SWIFT system. "The relations between China and the USA have been quite intense lately, but if the United States shows positive signs to China, then taking into account the volume of their trade ($500-600 billion) and China's trade volume with Russia ($100 billion as of 2018), China will demonstrate loyalty to the United States and will not connect to the Russian project," the expert said. SWIFT is an international interbank system for transmitting information and making payments. The system incorporates more than 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries of the world. After 9/11 attacks, the United States gained access to SWIFT network in order to track possible transactions between terrorist groups. Thus, US authorities have access to information related to any payment that goes through SWIFT. Russia launched its own version of SWIFT - SPFS - for domestic financial operations in December 2014. Also read: SWIFT refuses to cut Russia off
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian opposition MPs accept pension reform without a fight

Thu, 27/09/2018 - 15:35
On Wednesday, September 26, the Russian parliament, the State Duma, gave the second reading to the government bill on the pension reform. Officially, it goes about a move to improve the pension law. In fact, however, the authorities prefer not to talk about the "improvement" as it basically raises the retirement age in Russia. Three hundred and twenty-six out of 450 MPs supported the bill. Only 59 voted against it and one abstained. Here is some more food for thought in numbers. The ruling United Russia party counts 342 MPs. Obviously, their votes would be enough to approve the document. Communists come second - 42 MPs. LDPR is next with 39 MPs. Just Russia counts 23 deputies, two others are exempt from parliament factions. All the three opposition factions were originally opposed to raising the retirement age in Russia. However, 59 out of 104 opposition MPs voted in favor of the bill. Forty-five others did no find such an opportunity for themselves.Moreover, prior to the vote on the bill, the MPs approved nine of Putin's amendments to it. One of them lowers the retirement age for women from 63 to 60 years. After the vote, the leader of the United Russia faction, Sergei Neverov, noted with satisfaction that no one voted against president's amendments. "Presidential amendments were supported by representatives of all political factions in the State Duma: 385 voted for them, no one either abstained or voted against the amendments," the official said. "It is also very important that all factions without exception supported the ratification of the International Labor Organization Convention (415 votes for), and issues of medical examination of persons of pre-retirement age (419 votes for)," also noted Neverov.State Duma deputy from the Communist Party faction, Leonid Kalashnikov, explained the paradoxical behavior of his faction to Pravda.Ru. According to Communists, there is no paradox here - the faction cares about the people. "We believe that we can make people's lives easier, at least with the help of the draft law that we have here. We can not vote against it if these amendments suggest making people's lives easier. They do help in the draft. In general, we vote against the law about the pension reform. However, United Russia will adopt it anyway, so we vote to make people's lives easier, at least a little," Leonid Kalashnikov told Pravda.Ru. Also read: Putin: I don't like the idea of the pension reform
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian officials celebrate 60th anti-Russian sanction

Fri, 21/09/2018 - 17:07
Spokespeople for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation commented on the expansion of US sanctions against Russia because of the alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. According to Russian officials, there is already a round number of anti-Russian restrictions. "We continue watching the United States practicing sanctions against our country. It appears that it has turned into some kind of national fun there, because yesterday's anti-Russian measures have become the 60th since 2011," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. Ryabkov noted that Washington continues to introduce new sanctions because old ones bring no results. "We can also see the excitement that has engulfed American politicians, many of whom, being prisoners to their beliefs of their own "exceptionalism," hope that they need to take a little bit more effort before they can start dictating their conditions to Russia," Ryabkov said. "No one will succeed in this ever," the official continued. "Washington operators of the sanctions machine ought to get acquainted with the history of Russia, to stop the unnecessary fussing," he added. He also noted that the Americans "thoughtlessly rock global stability by escalating tensions in the Russian-American relations.""It's stupid to play with fire, because it can become dangerous," the deputy head of the department said. On September 29, Washington announced the imposition of sanctions on 27 physical and six legal entities from Russia, whom the US administration links with intelligence services and defense institutions. The sanctions were introduced as a response to Russia's alleged interference in the election of the American president in 2016.In particular, the United States imposed sanctions on PMC Wagner, the St. Petersburg Agency for Internet Research (known as the "troll factory"), Evgeny Prigozhin's companies Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering. Prigozhin himself, who is dubbed as "Putin's chef," also appears on the sanctions list. The list also includes alleged employees of the "troll factory" and employees of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation accused of interfering in the 2017 presidential vote in the US: First Deputy Head of the GRU Vladimir Alekseev, Deputy Chief of the GRU Sergei Gizunov, GRU supervisor Igor Korobov, Deputy Chief of the GRU Igor Kostyukov.The list of sanctioned companies includes Defense Ministry's logistics company Oboronlogistics, an aviation plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, MiG aircraft-building corporation and Tupolev aviation design bureau. Also read: US sanctions to kill Russian banks and sovereign debt
Categories: Russia & CIS

Gubernatorial elections in Russia: Stop, cancel, start again

Wed, 19/09/2018 - 16:51
The results of gubernatorial elections in Russia's Primorsky region (Far East) have been canceled. However the situation remains too vague to hope for its coming resolution. The head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said on Wednesday that the results of the gubernatorial election of the Primorsky region are to be abolished. According to the law, it is up to the regional election commission to make the decision. If the regional commission does not cancel the results of the vote, the Central Election Commission will do it instead, Pamfilova said. New elections will take place in three months, she added. For some reason, though, both regional Governor Andrei Tarasenko and Communist Party candidate Andrei Ischenko decided that this would be a third round of elections for them. The Russian legislation does not envisage such an option, though. At first, United Russia party candidate Andrei Tarasenko said that he would not participate in the new elections. Some time later, he changed his mind and announced at a meeting of his supporters that he would participate. When the meeting was over, he said that he would not take part in the elections. At the same time, a rumor started saying that Tarasenko was stepping down as acting governor. Putin's spokesman stated that the rumour was not true because acting governor can be appointed by president's decree. Communist Party candidate Andrey Ischenko said that it was absurd to abolish the elections because he had won the vote. According to the information from the election committee of the Primorsky region and the CEC, Tarasenko came only 1.5 percent ahead of Ishchenko. Communists say that the margin of 1.5 percent was made possible as a result of falsifications, which automatically makes  Ishchenko the winner. The communist candidate said that he was ready to participate in the new elections. For the time being, it remains unknown whether it goes about a new election and new candidates, or a third round that would come contrary to the Russian legislation. The regional election commission will make an announcement on September 20. Anton KulikovPravda.RuRead article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian gubernatorial elections: Solid winner loses vote overnight

Mon, 17/09/2018 - 16:19
The second round of gubernatorial elections in Russia's Primorsky Krai (the Far East) will go down in history of Russia's political life. During the elections of the governor of the Primorsky region, one of the candidates was winning the vote by a significant margin. All of a sudden, it turned out that the winner of the race has lost the election. The advantage of Communist candidate Andrei Ishchenko over acting governor Andrei Tarasenko was not striking, but it was larger than the number of uncounted ballots. In other words, if all the uncounted ballots had been added to Tarasenko's favor, Ishchenko would have still remained the winner. However, the announcement from the Central Electoral Commission made after counting 99.03% of the ballots said that acting governor Andrei Tarasenko won the election having left his rival only 0.5 percent behind. The head of the CEC, Ella Pamfilova, stated in the morning that her department would not rush to finalise the results of the elections in Primorsky Krai. If any violation are found, the results of the second round of the vote are likely to be canceled, she said, urging the supporters of the two candidates to file complaints.The candidates themselves accuse each other of fraud and falsificationы. For example, representatives of regional authorities claim that the team of communist candidate Andrei Ishchenko  delayed the entry of disadvantageous ballots into the electronic GAS "Vybory" system to overblow  a scandal afterwards. Ischenko's supporters claim that his opponent was "given" several tens of thousands of votes.At first, Andrei Ishchenko called to put up tents and threatened to go on a hunger strike. He changed his mind later after he talked to Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Russian Communist Party.  Instead, Ishchenko invited his supporters to come to the building of the administration of the Primorsky region every day at 6:00 p.m. and stay there till late at night. LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky suggested his own solution to the problem. "Gubernatorial  elections in Russia are absolutely unnecessary and nerve-racking. There is no real competition, because candidates of one and the same party take all posts anyway. It is the president who should directly appoint the governors, because they represent the executive power. However, the head of state can appoint representatives of different parties as governors. If a representative of the pro-government party fails, he then appoints a representative of the parliamentary opposition. This would preserve governance and let the steam out," Zhirinovsky wrote on his social media page. Gubernatorial elections were abolished in Russia from 2004 till 2012, when governors were approved by legislative assemblies on the basis of proposals from the president. Afterwards, gubernatorial elections were reinstated. Gubernatorial elections will be held in Russia in Khakassia, Khabarovsk and Vladimir regions on September 23. One can hardly imagine a situation that can eclipse the one in the Primorsky region. Anton KulikovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Categories: Russia & CIS