Putin’s Wars Come Home to Russia — Despite Moscow’s Efforts to Hide the Bodies

Russian combat losses in Ukraine are sufficiently large that they have already had an impact on demographic statistics, pushing up to anomalous heights the number of dead in three Russian regions in 2014-2015 and possibly prompting Moscow to send bodies to various places to conceal just how large these losses are, Tatyana Kolesova says.

Kolesova, who works with the Petersburg Observers group, told Radio Liberty’s Tatyana Voltskaya that the official figures were striking because the usual causes of mortality from accidents and alcoholism had not increased and yet the number of dead had soared in Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod and Krasnoyarsk oblasts.

She says that the only conclusion she could reach was that “the appearance of this anomalous mortality in May 2014 was connected with the fact that a significant number of Russians were participating in military actions on the territory of other countries,” in this case Ukraine.

In these three oblasts alone, she says, there were 6312 “excess” deaths in 2014 and 2015 than one would have expected on the basis of figures for the pre-war year of 2013. Moreover, increases in the number of deaths was marked in every month and not in one or two as one might have expected from an accident or an epidemic.

And there is another problem: officials clearly registered these deaths in these three places even if it may not have been the case that the people who died were from there, Kolesova says. That leads to suspicions that officials in these regions but perhaps not in others were prepared to cooperate with Moscow in seeking to hide these combat losses.

Given how many problems there are with official statistics in Russia, no final conclusions can yet be drawn, although one other expert confirmed Kolesova’s findings that the death numbers she points to were truly anomalous.

There is no reason to assume that the Russian government isn’t continuing to do the same thing now to hide continuing losses in Ukraine and Syria lest Russians come to recognize what the true cost of Putin’s wars are for them, especially given Moscow’s denial of Russian involvement in the former and downplaying of its ground role in the other.

But there is another reason to suspect that Moscow is trying to hide these losses: It has a long tradition of seeking to cover up losses it doesn’t want anyone to talk about, not only in its reports about deaths from the Holodomor and the GULAG but in other far more recent events as well.

The author of these lines was exposed to a horrific example of this after the violent clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Sumqayit in February 1988 when Soviet officials shipped the bodies of victims to morgues across the USSR so that no one place would know just how many died and in this case how they died.

In response to sanctions, Moscow goes nuclear

A new Russian PR campaign is threatening nukes in response to sanctions in a recent propaganda stunt.

Moscow’s government Public Relations Committee launched a T-shirt campaign today to put a positive, patriotic, spin on the global sanctions that have been levied on Russia’s economy and numerous officials. That spin, however, has been to playfully threaten nuclear war.

“Trendy answer – no sanctions!” – as the campaign is called – will run from September 23 to October 6, allowing Muscovites to trade in any clothing bearing foreign symbols or slogans for new “patriotic” swag.

Two of the three designs offered feature nuclear missile launchers with the slogans: “Sanctions? Don’t tell my Iskander” and “Topol’s aren’t afraid of sanctions.”

An ‘Iskander‘ is a mobile theater ballistic missile system with units in range of Poland and the Baltics, while the ‘Topol‘ is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching any city in the United States.

City organizers hope to “bring happiness” to at least 30,000 people, and will be touring the city in a bus in adorning imagery of the nuclear-payload on its mobile launcher.

“The purpose of the project, which was initiated by designer Anastasia Zadorina and civil society activist Ksenia Melnikova – to support our country, to demonstrate their patriotism and love for the motherland by being creative and fashionable: using T-shirts, which promises to be a hit this season,” said a PR Committee spokesperson.

The ongoing rounds of sanctions issued by the west have been in response for Russia’s ongoing and escalating military aggression in Ukraine: First in occupying the Ukrainian province of Crimea, then arming and fomenting terrorist groups in the country’s east, up to the more recent invasion of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions by Russia’s armed forces. Many in the Russian public, however, have failed to grasp why they are being punished by the international community for the state’s ongoing international crimes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07iamFiyMSY

Nuclear T-shirt campaign in Moscow

Nuclear T-shirt campaign in Moscow

Nuclear T-shirt campaign in Moscow

Nuclear T-shirt campaign in Moscow

The “Ukraine crisis” is a long-planned operation

What is now known as the “Ukraine crisis” in the international media is hardly a properly Ukrainian phenomenon. The first uses of this phrase go back to the pro-European protests that started in November 2013 and ended with a revolution that ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014. Yet even if the initial pro-European protests could be considered an internal Ukrainian development, their trigger lay beyond the country’s borders.

It was Russian foreign policy that has always been directed at preventing Ukraine from leaving Russia’s sphere of influence. Since the annexation of Crimea in March, “the Ukraine crisis” seems an increasingly misleading concept. Especially because [highlight]the plans to annex Crimea and support separatists in Eastern Ukraine were designed by the Russian authorities several years ago[/highlight] and have little to do with the defence of ethnic Russians allegedly threatened by the new Ukrainian authorities.

We heard this story before, 75 years ago, when the Soviet Union invaded Poland under the pretext of protecting ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians from the advancing army of the Third Reich. It was only in 1989 when the Soviet authorities admitted the existence of the secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet Pact that was signed on the 23rd of August, 1939, and implied the division of Poland, Romania, the Baltic States and Finland into Nazi and Soviet “spheres of influence”. It was Soviet expansionism initially supported by the Third Reich, rather than a concern about ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians, that was the first and only reason of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

Nazi-Soviet division of Europe
Nazi-Soviet division of Europe

Russian university textbooks on geopolitics published since the late 1990s routinely questioned the territorial integrity of Ukraine and, especially, the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Since the 1990s, Russian top officials regularly visited Crimea and spoke about the republic’s integration with Russia in future. In 2008, then Mayor of Moscow Yuriy Luzhkov was denied entry in Ukraine for his earlier speech about the “return” of Sevastopol, the major port in Crimea, to Russia.

For the Russian authorities, the “colour revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine that brought to power pro-Western governments in 2003-2004 was a sign that these countries were willing to leave the Russian sphere of influence choosing liberal democracy over semi-authoritarian kleptocracy. President Vladimir Putin perceived these revolutions as a direct threat to his rule: if Russian citizens see that post-Soviet countries such as Georgia and Ukraine can successfully modernize and democratize, then they may want the same for Russia – and this would dramatically undermine the authoritarian regime that Putin and his elites have built. Hence, Putin’s task was to subvert democratic governments in the neighbouring countries to prevent them from successful modernization.

(left to right) Vladimir Yakunin and Igor Sechin, two of the most influential representatives of the siloviki group
(left to right) Vladimir Yakunin and Igor Sechin, two of the most influential representatives of the siloviki group

Most importantly for him was to prevent former Soviet countries from joining NATO. Despite the fear of NATO that Putin and his colleagues from security services (or siloviki) inherited from the Soviet times, the expansion of NATO in the 1990s and 2000s posed a very different threat to what was claimed by the Kremlin. [highlight]It had nothing to do with Moscow’s official line that NATO expansion near Russian borders was a danger to Russia’s national security. Rather, the organization’s system of collective defence secured member states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, and this made it impossible or, at least, very dangerous for Russia to pursue its expansionist agenda.[/highlight]

Russian expansionism has always been veiled by the rhetoric of concern about “Russian compatriots” in neighbouring countries. A year after the Ukrainian “Orange revolution” in 2004, Putin lamented about “tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots” who had “found themselves outside Russian territory”, and claimed that “the collapse of the Soviet Union had been a major geopolitical disaster of the century”.

It was in 2005, when the Kremlin’s siloviki revitalized their support for pro-Russian separatists in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. That year, the organization “Donetsk Republic” – a Russian proxy in the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine – was created. Its leaders went to Russia in 2006 to participate in the summer camp of the Eurasian Youth Union that was established in 2005 with the money from the Presidential Administration of Russia on the initiative of Aleksandr Dugin, major ideologue of the Russia-led Eurasian Empire, and Vladislav Surkov, then deputy head of the Presidential Administration. This summer camp was aimed at further indoctrination of the activists and training for fighting against democratic movements in the neighbouring states. Instructors from security services taught methods of espionage, sabotage and guerrilla tactics. Among the participants of the summer camp was Andrey Purgin, who is now “First Prime Minister” of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”.

(from left to right) Oleg Frolov, currently a member of the "parliament of the Donetsk People's Republic", and Pavel Zarifullin, former leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, in the summer camp in 2006
(from left to right) Oleg Frolov, currently a member of the “parliament of the Donetsk People’s Republic”, and Pavel Zarifullin, former leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, in the summer camp in 2006

A political discussion of possible NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia in 2008 prompted Putin to lift the veil on Russian plans concerning Ukraine. It was at the Bucharest NATO meeting when Putin told then President George Bush: “You don’t understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state. What is Ukraine? Part of its territories is Eastern Europe, but the greater part is a gift from us”. In his official speech at the same meeting, Putin even suggested that rapprochement with the West might result in Ukraine’s loss of statehood.

For the Kremlin, the ideal “solution of the Ukrainian question” (Plan A) was to integrate Ukraine into the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia that would be transformed into the Eurasian Union in 2015, and, consequently, prevent the country from signing an Association Agreement with the EU. [highlight]If Ukraine did not cooperate in this regard, then the Russian invasion of Ukraine would be Plan B.[/highlight] In September 2013, when the Ukrainian authorities still discussed the prospects of signing the Association Agreement with the EU, Putin’s aide Sergey Glazyev explicitly stated that if Ukraine signed the Agreement, Russia could no longer guarantee Ukraine’s status as a state and could intervene “if pro-Russian regions of the country appealed directly to Moscow”. The Ukrainian revolution that set the country on the pro-European course was a signal for Moscow to launch that Plan B.

[box]

“We don’t want to use any kind of blackmail. This is a question for the Ukrainian people,” said Glazyev. “But legally, signing this agreement about association with EU, the Ukrainian government violates the treaty on strategic partnership and friendship with Russia.” When this happened, he said, Russia could no longer guarantee Ukraine’s status as a state and could possibly intervene if pro-Russian regions of the country appealed directly to Moscow.

“Signing this treaty will lead to political and social unrest,” said the Kremlin aide. “The living standard will decline dramatically … there will be chaos.”

[/box]

The Kremlin and its propaganda machine depict the annexation of Crimea as an act of defending ethnic Russians, and the current conflict in Eastern Ukraine – as a Ukrainian civil war. This narrative cannot be any further from the truth. What has been going on in Ukraine since February 2014 is an operation that Russia developed several years ago for the event of Ukraine willing to become a part of the family of European free, democratic nations.

[hr] Originally published on Anton Shekhovtsov’s blog

Putin’s useful idiots and little ribbentrops in Europe

By Anton Shekhovtsov

The Ukrainian revolution that started from pro-European protests (Euromaidan) in November 2013 and eventually ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych in March 2014 turned Russian president Vladimir Putin’s blood cold. There were two major – political and geopolitical – reasons for Putin to be terrified.

First of all, with his antagonism towards mass protests, which his regime systematically crushes in Russia itself, Putin feared that Maidan – which, after the “Orange revolution” in 2004, has become a name for a successful popular protest – could be somehow transferred to Russia and cause problems to his rule.Second, the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, which was the initial demand of Euromaidan, could effectively pull Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence. Furthermore, through the rapprochement with the West, Putin feared that Ukraine might wish to join NATO – an organisation that never ceased to strike terror into the hearts of Russian nationalists and military “hawks”.

What happened in March, when Russia invaded and annexed the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as well as starting its open covert operation in the Eastern parts of Ukraine, was sudden but not entirely unexpected. Have not Russian university textbooks on geopolitics been questioning the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine since the late 1990s? Did not Putin say, in 2008, to former US president George Bush that Ukraine was not “even a state” and that “the greater part” of it had been a “gift” from Russia? Did not Putin, through one of his mouthpieces, Sergey Glazyev, warn, in September 2013, that the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU could lead to the intervention “if pro-Russian regions of the country appealed directly to Moscow”?

American fascist Lyndon LaRouche, his wife and colleague Helga-Zepp LaRouche and current Putin's aide Sergey Glazyev, then Russian parliament chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, June 2001
American fascist Lyndon LaRouche, his wife and colleague Helga-Zepp LaRouche and current Putin’s aide Sergey Glazyev, then Russian parliament chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, June 2001

The Russian invasion and the Kremlin’s support – including arms, money and manpower – ofpro-Russian right-wing extremists in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have drawn condemnation from the EU, but this condemnation was not unanimous. While the mainstream political forces – conservatives, social-democrats, Greens and liberals – criticised the Russian aggressive interference in Ukraine, the radical right-wing and left-wing parties largely approved of it. The vote in the European Parliament on the 17th of March 2014, when it adopted the “Resolution on Russian pressure on Eastern Partnership countries and in particular destabilisation of eastern Ukraine”, has been revealing: out of 49 MEPs who voted against the resolution, 20 MEPs represented the far right, 26 MEPs – the left and the far left, and 3 MEPs were coming from generally Eurosceptic parties.

Historically, the strategic alliance between the far right and the (far) left is nothing new, as well as the annexation of a territory of another sovereign state. Thus, the similarities with the late 1930s were too obvious to ignore: the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that divided territories of Central-Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet “spheres of influence” and the consequent Nazi and Soviet annexations of these territories. Putin’s appeal to Russia’sCouncil of Federation of the Federal Assembly “to use the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine” reminded of the statements made both by Adolf Hitler following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 and by Soviet chief CommissarVyacheslav Molotov on the eve of the Soviet invasion of Poland: all of them invaded these sovereign states on the grounds of protecting co-ethnics.

There are various reasons why the EU-based far right and (far) left are willing to endorse and approve of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
European left-wingers, who rightly deserve – recalling the phenomenon of Western sympathisers of the Soviet Union during the Cold War – the title “useful idiots”, see in Russia a force that can challenge the alleged geopolitical unipolarity and the domination of liberal political economy. Being unable, due to their marginal role in national politics, to implement socialist and communist ideas in their home countries, they look at Russia as their last hope, despite the fact that Russia is not even a capitalist, but a kleptocratic, state.
Front National's leader Marine Le Pen in Moscow, June 2013
Front National’s leader Marine Le Pen in Moscow, June 2013

The far right’s reasons to support Putin are partly similar. Like the left, most of the EU’s far right parties despise the US as the dominant power in the world. Yet, for the far right, the US is also the “hotbed” of multiculturalism and multiracialism – the ideas and practices which the far right strongly oppose in the EU. Parties like the French National Front, Hungarian Jobbik, British National Party, Austrian Party of Freedom, Greek Golden Dawn and some others also praise Putin for turning Russia into a “truly sovereign” state that does not reckon with any other world power. And, obviously, Russia’s positioning as the last remaining bastion of traditional moral values does not fail to impress the far right who seem to not distinguish between the Kremlin’s posture and the shoddy reality of Russian mainstream culture.

What these little ribbentrops also fail to understand is that Putin is cooperating with them only to undermine and corrupt their countries. Of course, their strategic goal is mutual: theKremlin and the European far right want to weaken or even abolish the EU. The far right cherish the utopic idea of returning to a nation state to bring back a mythic sense of national belonging. Putin, however, wants something very different, something which can be achieved by following a maxim “divide and rule”. Through undermining the EU politically, binding the EU countries to Russia economically, Putin aspires to turn Russia into a super power.

In the world where Russia indeed secures a role of a super power, European countries will become Russia’s economic vassals. When Putin talks about “a unified Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok”, one may remember the words of Belgian National Bolshevik Jean-François Thiriart who dreamed of the “Euro-Soviet Empire” and “Europe as far as Vladivostok”. These ideas may be attractive to some elements of the European far right, but for Putin, in his own vision of a space “from Lisbon to Vladivostok”, there is no Europe as we know it. This space will be called “Eurasia”, a kleptocracy extended from Vladivostok to Lisbon.

In this ominous reality, liberal democracy, rule of law, human rights, economic freedoms, equal opportunities and progressive values will be eliminated – as they have largely been eliminated in today’s Russia. The Kremlin will not need to invade European countries with Russian tanks: economic and political corruption is a weapon more clandestine, powerful and, eventually, virulent than conventional arms. The EU may be no bowl of cherries, butPutin’s useful idiots and little ribbentrops in Europe do not imagine what Putin has in store for them.

[hr] Originally published on anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.com, republished with permission

Stepanivka completely destroyed by Russian 'Grad' rockets

The village of Stepanivka was completely destroyed by rocket salvos originating from beyond the Russian border, reported the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).

Stepanivka, in Donetsk oblast, is located roughly 9km from the border. Grad rockets have a launching distance of up to 40km.

According to the report, nearly 1,000 people lived in the village.

Watch This: Shocking Russian national broadcast invokes Nazism, terrorism, and the restoration of the Soviet Union

Today in Russia something scary happened. On live television, broadcast nationally, shot in occupied Crimea in the city of Sevastopol, a musical Olympic-esque ceremony and rock concert was performed at a motorcycle expo attempting to depict Ukraine and its revolution in ways only worst described by Russian state propaganda to date. Last year’s show depicted a lavished reenactment of the battle of Stalingrad, but this year was all about the battle for Ukraine. The performance, broadcast on the Rossiya-2 network, was the most egregious example to date of Russia’s attempts to instill fear in the population, glorify terrorists operating in the east, and ring in a new era of Soviet restoration. Russian media described it as “patriotic,” but many should recognize this as classic agitprop – agitation propaganda.

What exactly happened and is this an exaggeration? Let’s take a look.

(The full video can be seen here)

The piece begins with a number of masked drummers marching in torch wielding performers dressed in black. The drummers, who stand beside an ominous US dollar symbol, have various bloody special effects; what the performers do is much more shocking. As they begin to goose-step in formation, they jointly form a human swastika as if putting on a production of Springtime for Hitler from the musical The Producers. This is meant to represent Ukrainians in general and more specifically Right Sector, a far-right political party which garnered less than 1% of the national vote in the previous presidential elections and played a minor but visible role in the Euromaidan revolution. In Russia, Right Sector is regularly portrayed as an enormous menace that brought European “fascism” to Ukraine; this portrayal, of course, is entirely fictional.

Masked drummers play beside US dollar sign
Masked drummers play beside US dollar sign
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika

As the thunder of the music dies down, the ‘Nazis’ form a rigid line in salute of a now risen banner bearing the Right Sector emblem, beneath a pyramid emblazoned with the US dollar mark ($) and what can presumably be the Eye of Providence, seen on the US one-dollar bill and Great Seal.

"Nazis" stand in salute of the Right Sector banner and US dollar
“Nazis” stand in salute of the Right Sector banner and US dollar

Giant, skeletal, mechanized hands then descend center stage as the ‘marionettes’ beneath begin to fight amongst themselves. The hands have a ring bearing a striped eagle surrounded by stars, meant obviously to represent the United States’ engineering of the revolution. A globe featuring a map of Ukraine is defaced with explosions and blood as it lifts to the sky.

Ring on hands bearing a US eagle
Ring on hands bearing a US eagle
"Ukraine"
“Ukraine”

As they fight, shield carrying riot police wearing blue-camouflage, meant to represent the notorious ‘Berkut‘ special forces, former president Yanukovych’s personal stormtroopers, are rushed in who are promptly attacked on sight. In Kyiv, the Berkut made headlines for mercilessly attacking innocent civilians and journalists with impunity, and later for firing on unarmed crowds, killing protesters – in Russia, they are often heroized as martyrs.

A frightened child looks on
A frightened child looks on

The Berkut troops are then set on fire and a rock band beings to play as lynchings begin to happen.

Burning Berkut troops
Burning Berkut troops
A lynching
A lynching
Band playing the song "Maidan"
Band playing the song “Maidan”

Following the musical number, the sound of bomb dropping fills the air as Armored Personnel Carriers with red-and-black flags are rolled in.

Military vehicles bearing the black and red flag of the WW2 Ukrainian Insurgent Army
Military vehicles bearing the black and red flag of the WW2 Ukrainian Insurgent Army

But fear not, as AK-47 wielding terrorists (“freedom fighters”?) storm in to the sound of a triumphant musical score as they plant flags of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics in victory. These scenes here are eerily similar to Russian fantasy novels which have been released recently depicting the Russian destruction of Ukraine.

Terrorist firing a Kalashnikov
Terrorist firing a Kalashnikov
Terrorists flying "Donetsk Republic" terrorist group flag
Soldier flying “Donetsk Republic” terrorist group flag
Soldier flying "Lugansk Republic" terrorist group flag
Soldier flying “Lugansk Republic” terrorist group flag

 

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Long live the creation of the will of the people, the united, mighty Soviet Union![/quote]

This, magnificently, culminates with an orchestral and glorifying rendition of the Soviet national anthem. Many may confuse it for that of the Russian Federation, which uses an identical musical score, but the lyrics are the Soviet rendition: “Long live the creation of the will of the people, the united, mighty Soviet Union!” The camera then pans to a slightly altered Soviet coat of arms as a salvo of fireworks explode overhead – however –  gone are the iconic hammer and sickle of the Communist regime, and in its place is the imperial eagle of the Russian Empire (now used by Russia). This iconic fusing of the USSR and modern Russian Federation only lead credence to the longstanding belief that that Russian president Vladimir Putin is intent on rewinding the clock and restoring the Soviet Union.

The new coat of arms of Russia?
The new coat of arms of Russia?
Fireworks compliment the Soviet anthem
Fireworks compliment the Soviet anthem
A triumphant finale
A triumphant finale

Imagine if a mass performance in Germany performed the national anthem of the Third Reich. Imagine if this took place in any other country depicting another like this. Period. Scary, isn’t it?

Of course, following this display of Cirque du Jingoism, President Putin’s name was announced to thunderous applause by Alexander “the Surgeon” Zaldostanov, leader of Russia’s equivalent of the Hell’s Angels – a passing of the torch both fitting and bizarre. 

What do you think of this performance? Leave a comment below.

Russian Communist Party wants Ukrainians fighting in the east classified as "terrorists"

Russia’s Communist Party is calling for Russia to officially recognize Ukraine’s volunteer battalions as “terrorist organizations.” The statement, issued by two Communist MPs, specifically names the the paramilitary-political party Right Sector, and the Dnipro, Donbas, and Azov Battalions in their complaint.

Azov Battalion recruits
Azov Battalion recruits

The named volunteer units are some of the most notable formations fighting on Ukraine’s front lines in the east, and the government has seen considerable success in its Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) thanks to the initiative of volunteer special forces that have been made up largely of local eastern Ukrainians. While autonomous in command they are subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which also controls Ukraine’s National Guard. The battalions also coordinate with and train at National Guard bases.

The appeal was brought forth by Russian State Duma deputies Valery Rashkin, the Deputy Chairman of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, and Sergei Obukhov, its Secretary, who appealed to Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to recognize and include the groups as both foreign and domestic “terrorist organizations.”

Obukhov believes that Ukrainian forces fighting Russian-sponsored terrorists and insurgents in the east must be recognized in turn by the Russian Federation as terrorist organizations themselves, and that the Russian Foreign Ministry should petition the UN to ban their funding at the international level.

“I am a supporter of the toughest measures for persons, organizations and even states representing a real threat to Russia’s security and our citizens. No sanctions, protest notes and wailing about the “aggressiveness” of our country should worry us and make us detour from our path,”  said Rashkin.

The move appears to be an attempt to mirror calls by US Senators to classify the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) as a “foreign terrorist organization,” and expert opinion that Russia is acting as a state-sponsor of terrorism. A WhiteHouse.gov petition for the US to designate Russia as the latter collected over 105,000 signatures.

“In Russia, this is already being done – for example, through the identification and confiscation of assets of the sponsor terrorist tycoon [Ihor] Kolomoiskiy. But the Americans, in turn, discuss funding the Right Sector. Apparently, to “promote democracy” through punitive actions. If so, then the United States should in fact be defined as a state sponsor of terrorism,” he Rashkin continued.

Ukrainian Volunteer Corps
Ukrainian Volunteer Corps

The Communist statement also recalls that on March 3 a criminal case was brought against Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh for “public calls to extremist activity.” The incident in question occurred when Russia alleged that Yarosh had made a posting on the Russian social media site VK appealing to Chechen leader Doku Umarov for support – a statement which Right Sector says was the result of the account being hacked.

Yarosh, a commander of the Right Sector ‘Ukrainian Volunteer Corps’ battalion, was recently put on a Interpol’s wanted list at the request of Russian authorities.

Rashkin previously urged Russian special forces to “follow Mossad examples” and assassinate” Yarosh.

U.S. State Dept: 'Confident' Russia sending tanks, number on-site doubled

The U.S. Department of State (DoS) has released a statement on its official blog, compelling Russia to engage in a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine and refrain from further assistance of agression. In the post, the State Department sees no evidence that Russia has waned in actively supporting the separatist factions, and compels the country to “stop destabilizing Ukraine and occupying Crimea, a part of Ukraine’s territory.”

[quote]We assess that Russia continues to provide them with heavy weapons, other military equipment and financing, and continues to allow militants to enter Ukraine freely. Russia denies this, just as it denied its forces were involved in Crimea — until after the fact.[/quote]

The statement goes further, expounding on and updating the situation in Rostov where previous reports by the Department and NATO exposed a buildup of main battle tanks and other heavy equipment being delivered to Russian militants in Ukraine.

Rostov

The DoS says it is ‘confident’ that the Russian government is mobilizing even more tanks from old stock to the Rostov deployment site, and that tanks, artillery, and multiple rocket launchers have already been delivered – several of which were transferred this past weekend alone.

It also says that the number of vehicles at the site is ever increasing (roughly doubling) and that more advanced air defense systems are beginning to arrive. This of course would mark a departure from the previously listed Soviet-era stock. Separatist recruitment efforts have also stepped up, and are now seeking out volunteer operators to man these very air defense systems.

Rostov deployment site imagery, May 30
Rostov deployment site imagery, May 30

Recruitment of militants to fight in Ukraine is ongoing opposite its border, with the DoS explicitly stating that “Russia has allowed officials from the “Donetsk People’s Republic” to establish a recruiting office in Moscow,” while pointing out that many separatist leaders “hail from Russia and have ties to the Russian government.”

[quote]This all paints a telling picture of Russia’s continued policy of destabilization in eastern Ukraine.[/quote]

Read the full article here

 

Russian military near Kharkiv border bear "peacekeeper" markings

An armored column of Russian personnel carriers allegedly recorded near Belgorod were seen with blue ‘peacekeeper’ (MC) markings fixed to their rear. This story was affirmed by Mark MacKinnon, senior international correspondent for The Globe and Mail. Street signs in the video confirm the column to be near Razumnoye.

Throughout the day, multiple witness accounts of the symbol appearing on Russian military units in the region were also uploaded by separate users, strengthening the supporting evidence of the ‘peacekeeping’ convoy operating dangerously near Kharkiv.

There has been no official explanation for the units’ presence, but Russia has ratcheted up rhetoric and claims of Ukrainian forces shelling positions in Russia in recent days. Pretext for the invasion of Georgia in 2008 also included claims of Russian peacekeepers dying in Tskhinvali during the Georgian military response to the ongoing South Ossetian insurgency. A similar assault is precipitating in both Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russian-backed insurgents are concentrated and largely surrounded.

Below is a gallery of other Russian ‘peacekeeping’ units bearing the blue MC mark, principally during the occupation of Georgia / South Ossetia.

 

Russian lawmaker asks to ban 100-ruble bill because of nude statue

In a letter to the Central Bank, Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) lawmaker Roman Khudyakov has called for the removal of the classical Greek statue of Apollo from the Russian 100-ruble bill, saying the statue showed “intimate parts of the body” and that the banknote should come with an “18+” rating, referencing the rating system used for films.

Russia recently enforced a ban on ‘indecent’ language in the arts.

The bill currently depicts the statue of Apollo riding a four-horse chariot from above the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. The statue was altered during restorations in 2011 which included covering Appolo’s penis with a fig leaf.

russia-rouble-naked-apollo.si
The controversial banknote

“You can see clearly that Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia,” Khudyakov told Reuters Television.

Khudyakov says he was inspired after overhearing a conversation between two children gawking at the image: “The girl screamed at the boy: ‘Can you see that? I told you, there is a penis here!’ I was shocked, you know.” He then justified his request by saying “As bills of that denomination often get into the hands of children as pocket money, I strongly request your help in changing the design of the banknote or otherwise bringing it into accordance with current legislative regulations.”

“I submitted a parliamentary request and forwarded it directly to the head of the central bank asking for the banknote to be brought into line with the law protecting children and to remove this Apollo.”

Officials responsible for enforcing the recently-introduced law on protection of minors from harmful information declined to comment officially on Khudyakov’s grievance, but noted that money printing was outside the powers of the agency. The request to remove the statue from the bill comes admin a significant growth of religious and social conservatism in Russia, especially with regard to the Kremlin’s stance toward sexual relations and perceived