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Dedicated Russian thread

Indeed...
 
It would appear that the Novichok nerve agent was in one of the water bottles from the hotel room and not in the tea Navalny drank at the airport:

“Two weeks later, a German laboratory found traces of Novichok precisely on the bottle of water from the Tomsk hotel room,” the post said.

“And then more laboratories that took analyses from Alexei confirmed that that was what poisoned Navalny. Now we understand: it was done before he left his hotel room to go to the airport.”


OPCW have been asked to support. They can now apportion blame for any use of CW:

Germany, France, Britain and other nations have demanded explanations from Russia, and there have been calls for new sanctions against Moscow.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Thursday that Germany had asked it for technical assistance.
 
Interesting reporting on Nord Stream Two from France 24:
Was reading an FT article on Brexit and why it isn't the top of German concerns - herself, Mutti, talking about canning NS2
 
Signs of ongoing, and increasing, economic problems in Russia. I'm sure the oligarchs and other Putin cronies will have ways of side-stepping any financial burden so the people worst affected by the tanking economy will be those hit with additional tax burdens. I wonder if Xi is getting ready to buy up the Kremlin's debt?

'Russia will spend more on supporting its economy than funding its armed forces next year for the first time since 2014, as the Kremlin ramps up borrowing to pay for increased social spending ahead of critical parliamentary elections.

'Russia’s economy has been in the doldrums for years amid low oil prices and western sanctions, and will contract sharply this year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

'The Kremlin announced a splurge in spending this summer in a bid to mitigate the damage caused by Covid-19, and arrest a steady fall in living standards and household incomes that has hurt President Vladimir Putin’s ratings and the popularity of his ruling party, ahead of elections next September.

'Moscow is set to cut back defence spending and reduce handouts to oil companies, while increasing taxes on metal and mining industries and high-earners to help pay for the rise in spending, alongside increased borrowing that will increase its public debt load by about 50 per cent.

'The budget, details of which have been published by state-owned news agencies, was signed off by the government last week, it said in a statement on Saturday. It will now be discussed in the country’s parliament.

'The budget “should preserve its social orientation and ensure the implementation of the national development goals”, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Friday.

'Defence spending will be cut by 5 per cent, taking it below the level of spending on state-backed industries for the first time since 2014. Social measures will rise by almost 10 per cent to account for more than a quarter of the entire budget.

'At the same time, following proposals outlined by Mr Putin earlier this year, Russia’s flat income tax will be scrapped in favour of a higher rate for those earning more than Rbs5m ($65,000) a year and a new tax will be levied on bank deposits larger than Rbs1m.

'Mr Mishustin has also proposed “slightly increasing taxation on a number of lucrative industries”, including proposals to pare back tax breaks for oil production, raise levies on mining of metals and hike taxes on tobacco products.

“Russia’s budget policy rests on a mix of populism, higher taxes for the middle class and promises of continued fiscal support for the poor, each seen as an effective tool to garner support for the ruling party in an election year,” said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Global Markets in Moscow.

“The need to keep high volumes of spending on anti-crisis measures . . . has led authorities to agree to a significant rise in the volume of domestic public debt.”

'Russia’s fiscal surplus of recent years is set to swing to a deficit of about 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product this year, according to government forecasts, which expect a deficit of 2.4 per cent in 2021 and 1 per cent in 2022.

'Extra borrowing to fill that gap will see the country’s public debt-to-GDP ratio jump to about 20 per cent next year from 13 per cent at the start of this year, according to the country’s finance minister.'


 
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Signs of ongoing economic problems in Russia. I'm sure the oligarchs and other Putin cronies will have ways of side-stepping any financial burden so the people worst affected by the tanking economy will be those hit with additional tax burdens. I wonder if Xi is getting ready to buy up the Kremlin's debt?

'Russia will spend more on supporting its economy than funding its armed forces next year for the first time since 2014, as the Kremlin ramps up borrowing to pay for increased social spending ahead of critical parliamentary elections.

'Russia’s economy has been in the doldrums for years amid low oil prices and western sanctions, and will contract sharply this year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

'The Kremlin announced a splurge in spending this summer in a bid to mitigate the damage caused by Covid-19, and arrest a steady fall in living standards and household incomes that has hurt President Vladimir Putin’s ratings and the popularity of his ruling party, ahead of elections next September.

'Moscow is set to cut back defence spending and reduce handouts to oil companies, while increasing taxes on metal and mining industries and high-earners to help pay for the rise in spending, alongside increased borrowing that will increase its public debt load by about 50 per cent.

'The budget, details of which have been published by state-owned news agencies, was signed off by the government last week, it said in a statement on Saturday. It will now be discussed in the country’s parliament.

'The budget “should preserve its social orientation and ensure the implementation of the national development goals”, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Friday.

'Defence spending will be cut by 5 per cent, taking it below the level of spending on state-backed industries for the first time since 2014. Social measures will rise by almost 10 per cent to account for more than a quarter of the entire budget.

'At the same time, following proposals outlined by Mr Putin earlier this year, Russia’s flat income tax will be scrapped in favour of a higher rate for those earning more than Rbs5m ($65,000) a year and a new tax will be levied on bank deposits larger than Rbs1m.

'Mr Mishustin has also proposed “slightly increasing taxation on a number of lucrative industries”, including proposals to pare back tax breaks for oil production, raise levies on mining of metals and hike taxes on tobacco products.

“Russia’s budget policy rests on a mix of populism, higher taxes for the middle class and promises of continued fiscal support for the poor, each seen as an effective tool to garner support for the ruling party in an election year,” said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Global Markets in Moscow.

“The need to keep high volumes of spending on anti-crisis measures . . . has led authorities to agree to a significant rise in the volume of domestic public debt.”

'Russia’s fiscal surplus of recent years is set to swing to a deficit of about 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product this year, according to government forecasts, which expect a deficit of 2.4 per cent in 2021 and 1 per cent in 2022.

'Extra borrowing to fill that gap will see the country’s public debt-to-GDP ratio jump to about 20 per cent next year from 13 per cent at the start of this year, according to the country’s finance minister.'


The peoples under Muscovite control are no longer cut off from information sources outside the control of the Kremlin; therefore the usual historic lie of “You are better off here, so suck it up” can no longer be used and pure repression will not suffice. The neo-Tsar in the Kremlin will try to maintain his power by any means.
 
Signs of ongoing, and increasing, economic problems in Russia. I'm sure the oligarchs and other Putin cronies will have ways of side-stepping any financial burden so the people worst affected by the tanking economy will be those hit with additional tax burdens. I wonder if Xi is getting ready to buy up the Kremlin's debt?

'Russia will spend more on supporting its economy than funding its armed forces next year for the first time since 2014, as the Kremlin ramps up borrowing to pay for increased social spending ahead of critical parliamentary elections.

'Russia’s economy has been in the doldrums for years amid low oil prices and western sanctions, and will contract sharply this year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

'The Kremlin announced a splurge in spending this summer in a bid to mitigate the damage caused by Covid-19, and arrest a steady fall in living standards and household incomes that has hurt President Vladimir Putin’s ratings and the popularity of his ruling party, ahead of elections next September.

'Moscow is set to cut back defence spending and reduce handouts to oil companies, while increasing taxes on metal and mining industries and high-earners to help pay for the rise in spending, alongside increased borrowing that will increase its public debt load by about 50 per cent.

'The budget, details of which have been published by state-owned news agencies, was signed off by the government last week, it said in a statement on Saturday. It will now be discussed in the country’s parliament.

'The budget “should preserve its social orientation and ensure the implementation of the national development goals”, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Friday.

'Defence spending will be cut by 5 per cent, taking it below the level of spending on state-backed industries for the first time since 2014. Social measures will rise by almost 10 per cent to account for more than a quarter of the entire budget.

'At the same time, following proposals outlined by Mr Putin earlier this year, Russia’s flat income tax will be scrapped in favour of a higher rate for those earning more than Rbs5m ($65,000) a year and a new tax will be levied on bank deposits larger than Rbs1m.

'Mr Mishustin has also proposed “slightly increasing taxation on a number of lucrative industries”, including proposals to pare back tax breaks for oil production, raise levies on mining of metals and hike taxes on tobacco products.

“Russia’s budget policy rests on a mix of populism, higher taxes for the middle class and promises of continued fiscal support for the poor, each seen as an effective tool to garner support for the ruling party in an election year,” said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Global Markets in Moscow.

“The need to keep high volumes of spending on anti-crisis measures . . . has led authorities to agree to a significant rise in the volume of domestic public debt.”

'Russia’s fiscal surplus of recent years is set to swing to a deficit of about 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product this year, according to government forecasts, which expect a deficit of 2.4 per cent in 2021 and 1 per cent in 2022.

'Extra borrowing to fill that gap will see the country’s public debt-to-GDP ratio jump to about 20 per cent next year from 13 per cent at the start of this year, according to the country’s finance minister.'


It looks like a normal pandemic economic response package, such as most other countries are dealing with as well. Their national deficit and debt to GDP ratio are quite low which puts them in a better position in that respect than most other countries.

It will be interesting however if they follow through with plans to cut back tax breaks for the oil industry, as it would suggest that they foresee low oil prices and capacity surpluses lasting far enough into the future to not make it worth while putting much investment there for some time to come. If so, then that does not bode well for other major oil producers as well, particularly those in the Middle East who don't have much else to fall back on economically.
 
The new Russian nuclear icebreaker Arktika has left St. Petersburg on its way to Murmansk. It is apparently the world's largest and most powerful icebreaker, and can operate in 3m ice.
Russia says world's largest nuclear icebreaker embarking on Arctic voyage

The Arktika will operate on the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia, helping to ensure navigation there between Asia and Europe.
"The creation of a modern nuclear icebreaker fleet capable of ensuring regular year-round and safe navigation through the entire Northern Sea Route is a strategic task for our country," Vyacheslav Ruksha, head of Rosatom's Northern Sea Route Directorate, said in a statement.
 
Back to the Future. The “Muscovite Mindset” in action.

Putin decrees the re-establishment of “Political Officers” and “Political Education” in the Russian National Guard.


They have seen that the security forces in Belarus have been affected by public sentiment and opinion.
 
Not only have they (allegedly) tried to poison him with a nerve agent, they've now apparently frozen his bank accounts and seized his apartment:

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s bank accounts were frozen and his Moscow apartment seized under a lawsuit while he was recovering from a suspected poisoning in a Berlin hospital, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Thursday.
“This means the flat cannot be sold, donated or mortgaged,” Yarmysh said in a video posted on Twitter.

Navalny was flown from Russia to Berlin last month after falling ill on a domestic flight in Siberia. The West has demanded an explanation from the Kremlin, which has denied any involvement in the incident and said it has yet to see evidence of a crime.
 
Only in Russia, well maybe in one or two others as well, but dummy candidate wins election:

 
Russian independent news website editor self-immolates in protest, in front of Interior Ministry building in Nizhni Novgorod. (Note: These buildings usually also house the state security enforcement, i.e. the secret police).

The Muscovite Mindset considers any criticism of government authorities as aberrant.
 
Russian independent news website editor self-immolates in protest, in front of Interior Ministry building in Nizhni Novgorod. (Note: These buildings usually also house the state security enforcement, i.e. the secret police).

The Muscovite Mindset considers any criticism of government authorities as aberrant.


When I read that same piece on the BBC website yesterday, what struck me was her determination when she pushed away the person who tried to beat the flames out. Very sad. Seems that another journalist who was just trying to do their job is beaten down by the regime.
 
Some interesting data in this report: What It Would Take for Russia’s Millennials to Topple Putin

However, I would say that it is a little hubristic asserting that the US can help young Russians to become politically active and this is the sort of thing that adds grist to the mill of the paranoid "Muscovite Mindset".

I would say that the data points to young Russians seeing no future in their country as it is being run at present and no way to change it. This would indicate to me that those with a bit of gumption and "get-up-and-go" will do exactly that and emigrate and those without will find solace in the age-old Russian habit of self-medication, whether it be by alcohol or something else.

Quite sad really.
 
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The following is a very interesting video on Russia's goals and objectives. It is based around an interview with a political expert in Moscow (Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center), and covers a number of subjects, including:
  • Putin's actual popularity
  • COVID-19 in Russia
  • Putin's place in Russia's political system
  • Belrus
  • Russia's relations with Turkey
  • How the Russian public view Russia's foreign military involvement
  • Putin's goals with respect to dealing with the West
  • Russia and Trump
  • Russia's political culture
The video is just over 20 minutes long and is worth listening to. Recommended.
 
The following is a very interesting video on Russia's goals and objectives. It is based around an interview with a political expert in Moscow (Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center), and covers a number of subjects, including:
  • Putin's actual popularity
  • COVID-19 in Russia
  • Putin's place in Russia's political system
  • Belrus
  • Russia's relations with Turkey
  • How the Russian public view Russia's foreign military involvement
  • Putin's goals with respect to dealing with the West
  • Russia and Trump
  • Russia's political culture
The video is just over 20 minutes long and is worth listening to. Recommended.
Thanks for that. Trenin’s assessment and views fit neatly alongside the “Muscovite Mindset” which I expand on and the “Moscow Rules” as outlined in Kier Giles’ excellent book on Russia.
 
U.K. and EU sanctions applied due to the use of Novichok on Navalny. Amongst the sanctions, referral is made to ‘The State Scientific Research Institute for Chemistry and Technology’ alleging they didn’t destroy their stocks of CW:

The State Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology was also sanctioned.

“The deployment of a toxic nerve agent of the Novichok group would ... only be possible due to the failure of the Institute to carry out its responsibility to destroy the stockpiles of chemical weapons,” the Official Journal said.
 
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Heard today that Russian propaganda is being "seeded" in the West which suggests that users of the Oxford vaccine will turn in to monkeys. As ridiculous as it sounds, the idea is to sow the seeds of doubt. Russia has huge hopes that their own vaccine will be a significant money earner. How much of it is their own research is a matter of debate. There were attempts to hack Western CV19 research projects.
 
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