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Dedicated Russian thread

A great piece by Tim Snyder in the Grauniad (an extract from his latest tome):
Vladimir Putin’s politics of eternity | Timothy Snyder

Nicely summarises the distortion politics of the Kremlin and underlines the dominance of the "Muscovite Mindset" (see my previous posts explaining this phenomenon) in Russian politics and government.
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After landslide re-election, Russia's Putin tells West - I don't...
As mentioned on the other ongoing threads relating to Russia ie the alleged nerve gas assasination attempt in Salisbury, Putin wins again in a 'landslide victory' achieving over 70% of the vote, but voter turnout didn't exceed the reported 70% wished for. In one of his first speeches to the defeated candidates he says he doesn't want an arms race with the West. This seems at odds with the propaganda disseminated prior to the election including new weapons systems targeted on Florida:
But Putin, 65, used a Kremlin meeting with the candidates he soundly defeated in Sunday’s election to signal his desire to focus on domestic, not international, matters, and to try to raise living standards by investing more in education, infrastructure and health while reducing defence spending.

“Nobody plans to accelerate an arms race,” said Putin.

“We will do everything to resolve all the differences with our partners using political and diplomatic channels.”
OSCE mentioning the lack of competition. Nemtsov and Navalny spring to mind:
But the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a rights watchdog, said restrictions on fundamental freedoms, as well as on candidate registration, had restricted the scope for political engagement and crimped competition.

“Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not real choice,” the OSCE said in a statement.

The CEC said earlier on Monday it had not registered any serious complaints of violations.
Sergey's Communists got 11.8%:
His nearest rival, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, won 11.8 percent while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 5.6 percent. His most vocal opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running.
Russia may annul election results at two polling stations - officials
Why bother vote rigging if your popularity is so strong? Bizarre. Anyway, Russia may annul the results from two polling stations after an investigation by Reuters. Allegations some govt employees voted more than once:
Chairwoman of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova said a local election commission had filed a lawsuit, which may challenge results at two out of three polling stations - 216 and 217 - where the reporters witnessed multiple voting.

“They filed a lawsuit to cancel election results at these polling stations,” she told Reuters at a commission sitting.

Ludmila Sklyarevskaya, a deputy head of a local hospital, and Jamila Tebueva, a city administration employee, were among those seen voting more than once.
Despite allowing multiple registration, they believe there are no flaws, just some 'fine tuning':
Reuters also uncovered a loophole in the voter registration system that could allow multiple voting. Three Reuters reporters obtained authorization to vote in more than one location and got the go-ahead by officials to vote a second time, although none of them did so.

Asked if the registration system needs to be changed, Pamfilova said that the system is “wonderful”.

“It is absolutely new ... We are proud of our system. We do not need to reform it, we need to fine-tune it when defects are revealed,” she said.
E2A: Identical twins and 'carousels' - Russia's fairground election
The earlier article I partially quoted re Reuters on one of the nerve agent poisoning threads:
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were established procedures for reporting election violations. “If these reports from the respected Reuters agency are backed up by corresponding statements to law enforcement agencies from the observers who were at each polling station, then it’s a worry. If they are not backed up, then it does not worry us at all.”
A graph on the discrepancies:
Russian tycoon Magomedov arrested on embezzlement charges
Another Oligarch who has upset Putin? Who’s companies will be sold off to Putin’s current crop of friends?
Russian authorities on Saturday arrested billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov on charges of embezzling more than $35 million, in one of the highest-profile prosecutions of a Russian tycoon in years.

Magomedov denied the charges at a pre-trial hearing, where a judge ordered that he be held in custody until May 30.

One of Russia’s richest men, the 49-year-old Magomedov holds assets in construction and logistics through his sprawling Summa Group. He also has investments in U.S. tech ventures, including the Virgin One Hyperloop project.
He’s not in Putin’s inner circle and the sanctions along with economy appear to be affecting his business’s:
Magomedov is part of a group of Russian multi-millionaires who, while publicly loyal to the Kremlin, are not in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Some members of the group say they are being squeezed by a tough economy, Western sanctions on Russia, and powerful state-run companies that are muscling in on nearly all sectors of the economy.

In past cases when magnates have been prosecuted, some in the Russia business community have said the tycoons were victims of a plot by the Kremlin or by politically connected business rivals - though the authorities deny that.
Ha! @scalieback don't be too nervousness about your "Lebensraum". We don't need it here, because barrier Norway-Britain-Ireland-Iceland-Greenland will became almost inhabitated in the first hour of the war. Nothing personal, but you are sitting on the our way in Atlantic.
You silly sausage. As soon as Russian troops reach the first Western country, they will be halted by the looting of goods, only previously enjoyed by their masters. Peasant forces always succumb to temptation

Joshua Slocum

Book Reviewer
Ha! @scalieback don't be too nervousness about your "Lebensraum". We don't need it here, because barrier Norway-Britain-Ireland-Iceland-Greenland will became almost inhabitated in the first hour of the war. Nothing personal, but you are sitting on the our way in Atlantic.
Oh yes, we saw your warship recently, steam powered was it ?
it made enough smoke to black out the sun

Joshua Slocum

Book Reviewer
We shall land sizable forces in Greenland or Iceland only in the next stage of war. First exchange of nuclear strikes means full demolishion of any human activity on the North Atlantic barrier, including Norway (except Tromsø), UK, Ireland, Iceland Greenland. No activity, no bases, no attempts to stop our ships.
Yes dont mess with Tromso, you need a place to feed your starving troops
VarLigger- Öppettider nära dig
G7 to set up group to study Russian 'malign behaviour' - UK
Now the G7 are setting up a Group to discuss 'Russian Malign Behaviour'. I aways thought the whole purpose of setting up a group to study something was to kick the can further down the road. BoJo sets it off:
Johnson said the G7, meeting in Toronto, had agreed on the need to be vigilant about Russia, which denies involvement in the attack.

“What we decided yesterday was that we were going to set up a G7 group that would look at Russian malign behaviour in all its manifestations - whether it’s cyber warfare, whether it’s disinformation, assassination attempts, whatever it happens to be and collectively try to call it out,” he told reporters.
Looking for a solution on Syria from Russia. I suppose UNSCR 2254 doesn't count?
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas earlier told reporters that the G7 would formally call on Moscow to contribute to solving the crisis in Syria, where Russia and Iran are backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked what the final statement from the two-day meeting would say, Maas told reporters that “It establishes again that there will be no political solution in Syria without Russia ... and that Russia has to contribute its share to such a solution.”
Also looking at the JCPOA and Iran. Whether the US will carry on 'sanctions relief' or not:
Maas also said the leaders of France and Germany would urge U.S. President Donald Trump not to pull out of an Iran nuclear deal with major powers.

Trump has given the European signatories of the deal a May 12 deadline to “fix the terrible flaws” of the 2015 nuclear agreement, or he will refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran.

The agreement offered Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear programme.

“We accept that Iranian behaviour has been disruptive in the region, we accept the president has some valid points that need to be addressed but we believe they are capable of being addressed (inside the deal),” said Johnson.
Russia-wary U.S. to press NATO allies to hike military spending:...
Another push for the 2% from NATO countries to be spent on defence, especially aimed at Germany. Reuters have again found an unnamed source. NATO meeting in Brussels on Friday:
”At no point since the Cold War has NATO been more relevant than it is today, we see this renewed relevance above all through the lens of Russian aggression,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The Russian government has demonstrated its ability to threaten, coerce, undermine and even invade its neighbors,” the official said, emphasizing that Moscow was a “destabilizing factor” in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria.
6 have committed to 2% by 2024, 13 to go:
The official said six NATO member countries had submitted spending plans to meet a target of 2 percent of economic output on defense every year by 2024.

“It is time for the other 13 members of the alliance to step up, and especially Germany, NATO largest and wealthiest European member state of NATO,” the official said.
Russia says thwarts planned Islamic State attacks in Moscow
An alleged IS 'sleeper cell' from Siberia has been thwarted on possible attacks this summer in the Moscow area. They were apparently getting information via 'Telegram' (think WhatsApp) from Syria. Four man cell, twenty detained:
Russia’s domestic security service said on Friday it had thwarted an Islamic State plan to carry out a series of high-profile attacks in the Moscow area, where soccer World Cup matches are due to take place this summer.

The FSB security service said it had cut short the activity of what it called a four-man Islamic State sleeper cell which was taking instructions from someone in Syria via the Telegram messenger service.

It did not provide details of when the attacks were meant to take place or what the precise targets were.

Russia, whose military is helping the Syrian government fight rebel forces, is hosting the FIFA soccer World Cup from June 14-July 15 and is increasing security measures.

The sleeper cell originally came from Siberia, the FSB said in a statement, and 20 people were detained in a related special operation in the town of Novy Urengoy around 2,300 km (1,400 miles) northeast of Moscow.

Searches in Novy Urengoy had found extremist Islamic State propaganda, the FSB said.
Earlier this year Theresa May was also talking about the need to "do something" about Telegram in particular, but also others as well. She only wants communications methods that the UK can monitor. She has been vague about what she intends to do, preferring so far to try to strong arm the tech industry behind closed doors. In addition to that she has made veiled threats about regulating investment flows into companies that won't play along.

There has been some limited success so far, with Apple being prevailed upon to pull Telegram from their app store.

If those indirect methods don't get the results she wants, then you may in Russia be seeing a preview of what is to come in the UK as well.
Russia close to drawing up draft law to raise pension age: PM Medvedev
Russia is looking at raising the pension age. Currently 55 for women and 60 for men. I know it’s chalk and oranges comparison but are those ages viable? The U.K. is consistently raising ours and women and men retire at the same age:
Russia is close to drawing up a draft law to raise the pension age, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, but wants to do so carefully and in a way that avoids disrupting the existing pension system or causing social tensions.

Policymakers see raising the pension age — currently 55 for women and 60 for men — as a way of spurring faster growth at a time when Western sanctions are a drag on the economy.
As with all countries, it’s a balancing act:
“A pretty serious study of all these questions has already been done,” Medvedev told state TV channel Rossiya 1.

“... We are on the brink of starting to discuss this at a legislative level. ... it (a decision) will be taken based on different factors, it will be done carefully, and in such a way that will not unbalance the pension system or, on the other hand, create negative feelings among people.”
Obviously, don’t make the changes before Putin is ‘re-elected’:
Two government sources and one source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Putin had already agreed the pension age needed to go up.

“In February, there was a meeting of government officials with the president and everyone agreed to increase the pension age. The president said not to do it before the elections,” one of the sources said.
Russian Life Expectancy Hits Record High
A Moscow Times article from June last year shows a rise in life expectancy, depending on region:
Russians born in 2016 are expected to live 71.87 years on average, according to state statistics agency Rosstat. Women still outlast men by several years, with the average Russian female living to 77.06, compared to 66.5 years for males.

The southern Russian region of Ingushetia boasted the highest life expectancy in the country, with residents expected to live 80.8 years on average. It was followed by Dagestan and Moscow, where newborns are predicted to live 77.2 years and 77 years respectively.
Russian govt info:

Life expectancy at birth, total (years) | Data
Seems there is a raise overall and quite a sharp one since 2003 or so.
Russian Twitter accounts tried to help opposition in UK election:...
More allegations of election interfering by Russia. This one from 2017 and pro Labour/Corbyn, research by Swansea University. 6,500 automated Twitter accounts pushing the message:
The research by Swansea University and The Sunday Times found about 6,500 automated accounts sent messages praising the opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his policies in the closing stages of the election.

They also attacked Prime Minister Theresa May for refusing to take part in televised election debates and criticized her for cutting police numbers in the wake of the Manchester bombing.

The study found nine out of 10 messages from the accounts about Labour backed the party. In contrast, nine out of 10 tweets about the Conservatives were hostile.

“These new revelations are extremely concerning,” the culture minister Matt Hancock said in a statement. “It is absolutely unacceptable for any nation to attempt to interfere in the democratic elections of another country.”

The British government has accused Russia of meddling in elections around the world and planting fake stories in the media, but has denied Russia has successfully interfered in British elections.
Paper plane protesters urge Russia to unblock Telegram app
Telegram protesters in Moscow, throwing paper aeroplanes (the symbol of Telegram). Telegram wouldn't comply with a Court order to allow the FSB access to users encrypted messages, so the App was blocked in Russia:
Thousands of people marched through Moscow, throwing paper planes and calling for authorities to unblock the popular Telegram instant messaging app on Monday.

Protesters chanted slogans against President Vladimir Putin as they launched the planes - a reference to the app’s logo.

“Putin’s regime has declared war on the internet, has declared war on free society... so we have to be here in support of Telegram,” one protester told Reuters.

Russia began blocking Telegram on April 16 after the app refused to comply with a court order to grant state security services access to its users’ encrypted messages.

Russia’s FSB Federal Security service has said it needs access to some of those messages for its work, that includes guarding against militant attacks.

In the process of blocking the app, state watchdog Roskomnadzor also cut off access to a slew of other websites.
12,000 people apparently:
“Thousands of young and progressive people are currently protesting in Moscow in defense of internet freedom,” Telegram’s Durov wrote on his social media page.

“This is unprecedented. I am proud to have been born in the same country as you. Your energy changes the world,” Durov wrote.
Interestingly, Iran has just banned Telegram.