What Does Freedom Mean to You? Putin at Valdai, 2016

Uncle Volodya says, "The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”

Uncle Volodya says, “The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”

American protest songs, lyrically at least, showcase that as an expression of national consciousness, Americans lost their understanding of what freedom means somewhere in the early 1970’s. Sentiment against dictatorships and enslavement of populations gave way to more America-centric problems, dominated by the war in Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, national race relations and the problems associated with getting a job. In latter decades the media honed its skills at what has become known as the politics of division, and became adept at turning whole segments of the population against one another, always dangling the illusory concept of freedom just out of reach.

What is freedom, really? Is it the liberty to make mistakes while pursuing greater goals, knowing that you still must bear responsibility for the consequences – unintentional and potential – of those mistakes? Or is it simply the removal of all restraints on one’s personal behavior, as Jen suggests here?

This and other issues is discussed here in a provocative guest post by the inimitable Aussie contributor, Jenifer Hor, in her analysis of Putin’s speech to the attendants of the final plenary session of the Valdai Discussion Club at Sochi, last month. For me, it reaffirms that Vladimir Putin remains committed to a united global problem-solving approach which emphasizes frank and open discussion of world problems, while the west remains mired in creation of wedge issues for its own benefit and discrediting all sources which do not correspond to its worldview. Permit me to offer my accolades in advance for a solid and perceptive first-line analysis. Take it away, Jen!

Vladimir Putin’s Valdai Speech at the XIII Meeting (Final Plenary Session) of the Valdai International Discussion Club (Sochi, 27 October 2016)

As is his usual custom, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the final session of the annual Valdai International Discussion Club’s 13th meeting, held this year in Sochi, before an audience that included the President of Finland Tarja Halonen and former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. The theme for the 2016 meeting and its discussion forums was “The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow” which as Putin noted was very topical and relevant to current developments and trends in global politics, economic and social affairs.

Putin noted that the previous year’s Valdai Club discussions centred on global problems and crises, in particular the ongoing wars in the Middle East; this fact gave him the opportunity to summarise global political developments over the past half-century, beginning with the United States’ presumption of having won the Cold War and subsequently reshaping the international political, economic and social order to conform to its expectations based on neoliberal capitalist assumptions. To that end, the US and its allies across western Europe, North America and the western Pacific have co-operated in pressing economic and political restructuring including regime change in many parts of the world: in eastern Europe and the Balkans, in western Asia (particularly Afghanistan and Iraq) and in northern Africa (Libya). In achieving these goals, the West has either ignored at best or at worst exploited international political, military and economic structures, agencies and alliances to the detriment of these institutions’ reputations and credibility around the world. The West also has not hesitated to dredge and drum up imaginary threats to the security of the world, most notably the threat of Russian aggression and desire to recreate the Soviet Union on former Soviet territories and beyond, the supposed Russian meddling in the US Presidential elections, and apparent Russian hacking and leaking of emails related to failed US Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s conduct as US Secretary of State from 2008 to 2012.

After his observation of current world trends as they have developed since 1991, Putin queries what kind of future we face if political elites in Washington and elsewhere focus on non-existent problems and threats, or on problems of their own making, and ignore the very real issues and problems affecting ordinary people everywhere: issues of stability, security and sustainable economic development. The US alone has problems of police violence against minority groups, high levels of public and private debt measured in trillions of dollars, failing transport infrastructure across most states, massive unemployment that either goes undocumented or is deliberately under-reported, high prison incarceration rates and other problems and issues indicative of a highly dysfunctional society. In societies that are ostensibly liberal democracies where the public enjoys political freedoms, there is an ever-growing and vast gap between what people perceive as major problems needing solutions and the political establishment’s perceptions of what the problems are, and all too often the public view and the elite view are at polar opposites. The result is that when referenda and elections are held, predictions and assurances of victory one way or another are smashed by actual results showing public preference for the other way, and polling organisations, corporate media with their self-styled “pundits” and “analysts” and governments are caught scrambling to make sense of what just happened.

Putin points out that the only way forward is for all countries to acknowledge and work together on the problems that challenge all humans today, the resolution of which should make the world more stable, more secure and more sustaining of human existence. Globalisation should not just benefit a small plutocratic elite but should be demonstrated in concrete ways to benefit all. Only by adhering to international law and legal arrangements, through the charter of the United Nations and its agencies, can all countries hope to achieve security and stability and achieve a better future for their peoples.

To this end, the sovereignty of Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Syria and Yemen should be respected and the wars in those countries should be brought to an end, replaced by long-term plans and programs of economic and social reconstruction and development. Global economic development and progress that will reduce disparities between First World and Third World countries, eliminate notions of “winning” and “losing”, and end grinding poverty and the problems that go with it should be a major priority. Economic co-operation should be mutually beneficial for all parties that engage in it.

Putin also briefly mentioned in passing the development of human potential and creativity, environmental protection and climate change, and global healthcare as important goals that all countries should strive for.

While there’s not much in Putin’s speech that he hasn’t said before, what he says is typical of his worldview, the breadth and depth of his understanding of current world events (which very, very few Western politicians can match), and his preferred approach of nations working together on common problems and coming to solutions that benefit all and which don’t advantage one party’s interests to the detriment of others and their needs. Putin’s approach is a typically pragmatic and cautious one, neutral with regards to political or economic ideology, but one focused on goals and results, and the best way and methods to achieve those goals.

One interesting aspect of Putin’s speech comes near the end where he says that only a world with opportunities for everyone, with access to knowledge to all and many ways to realise creative potential, can be considered truly free. Putin’s understanding of freedom would appear to be very different from what the West (and Americans in particular) understand to be “freedom”, that is, being free of restraints on one’s behaviour. Putin’s understanding of freedom would be closer to what 20th-century Russian-born British philosopher Isaiah Berlin would consider to be “positive freedom”, the freedom that comes with self-mastery, being able to think and behave freely and being able to choose the government of the society in which one lives.

The most outstanding point in Putin’s speech, which unfortunately he does not elaborate on further, given the context of the venue, is the disconnect between the political establishment and the public in most developed countries, the role of the mass media industry in reducing or widening it, and the dangers that this disconnect poses to societies if it continues. If elites continue to pursue their own fantasies and lies, and neglect the needs of the public on whom they rely for support (yet abuse by diminishing their security through offshoring jobs, weakening and eliminating worker protection, privatising education, health and energy, and encouraging housing and other debt bubbles), the invisible bonds of society – what might collectively be called “the social contract” between the ruler and the ruled – will disintegrate and people may turn to violence or other extreme activities to get what they want.

An English-language transcript of the speech can be found at this link.

 
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222 Responses to What Does Freedom Mean to You? Putin at Valdai, 2016

  1. et Al says:

    Moon of Alabama: Russia Again Disciplines The Wannabe Sultan
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/12/putin-again-disciplines-the-wannabe-sultan.html

    The Russians just gave (again) a public lecture of how to handle the wannabe-Sultan Erdogan….

    …Erdogan and Putin discuss #Aleppo for the third time this week: Disagreement over ceasefire? – November 30

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the grave situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin by phone on Nov. 30 for the third time in a week, with the two “agreeing on the need for a ceasefire,” presidential sources said.

    The sources said the two leaders agreed to step up efforts to stop clashes in Aleppo and deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in the besieged city.

    That was the Turkish version of the call. The Russian statement on that call was sparse and did not mention any ceasefire.

    Thus this translation from Diplomatese:

    “I will take that statement back if you give me a ceasefire deal in Aleppo,” Erdogan told President Putin.

    “Screw you,” was the response….

    The game Erdogan tried would probably have worked with Merkel, or some other EU politician. Russia will have none of it. No means no. When Russia says stay out of Al-Bab it means stay out of Al-Bab. With regard to Syria Erdogan now has to do what he is told to do. He was just publicly lectured about that again. Still, I doubt that he really learned the lesson.
    ####

    Spanked.

    • Jen says:

      Karl, wherever you are, do you want to comment on this?

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Kolyan “The Rusty Nail” Gvozdyov and Tolik “The Curly Head” Kudryashov from Solntsevo’s gangster “family” ask Radio Shanson to play the following musical compisition to their common acquaintance (winter vacation of 2009) Erdogan:

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    Always good to hear, that in our tumultuous times some things stay the same. Like The New Joke Time’s panic-stricken hand-waving hysterics:

    Trump’s Breezy Calls to World Leaders Leave Diplomats Aghast

    “President-elect Donald J. Trump inherited a complicated world when he won the election last month. And that was before a series of freewheeling phone calls with foreign leaders that has unnerved diplomats at home and abroad.

    In the calls, he voiced admiration for one of the world’s most durable despots, the president of Kazakhstan, and said he hoped to visit a country, Pakistan, that President Obama has steered clear of during nearly eight years in office.

    Mr. Trump told the British prime minister, Theresa May, “If you travel to the U.S., you should let me know,” an offhand invitation that came only after he spoke to nine other leaders. He later compounded it by saying on Twitter that Britain should name the anti-immigrant leader Nigel Farage its ambassador to Washington, a startling break with diplomatic protocol.

    Mr. Trump’s unfiltered exchanges have drawn international attention since the election, most notably when he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan with only one other American in the room, his daughter Ivanka Trump — dispensing with the usual practice of using State Department-approved talking points.

    […]

    Mr. Obama never visited Pakistan as president, even though he had a circle of Pakistani friends in college and spoke fondly of the country. The White House weighed a visit at various times but always decided against it, according to officials, because of security concerns or because it would be perceived as rewarding Pakistani leaders for what many American officials said was their lack of help in fighting terrorism.”

    […]

    Mr. Trump’s call with President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan raised similar questions.
    Mr. Nazarbayev has ruled his country with an iron hand since 1989, first as head of the Communist Party and later as president after Kazakhstan won its independence from the Soviet Union. In April 2015, he won a fifth term, winning 97.7 percent of the vote and raising suspicions of fraud.

    The Kazakh government, in its account of Mr. Trump’s conversation, said he had lavished praise on the president for his leadership of the country over the last 25 years. “D. Trump stressed that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country over the years of independence had achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle,’” it said.

    The statement went on to say that Mr. Trump had shown solidarity with the Kazakh government over its decision to voluntarily surrender the nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviets. “There is no more important issue than the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, which must be addressed in a global context,” it quoted Mr. Trump as saying.

    Mr. Trump’s statement said that Mr. Nazarbayev had congratulated him on his victory, and that Mr. Trump had reciprocated by congratulating him on the 25th anniversary of his country. Beyond that, it said only that the two leaders had “addressed the importance of strengthening regional partnerships.”

    Outrageous! Calling Nursultan Nazarbayev “one of the world’s most durable despots” – but not a word about the Lord Sauron of Mordor!

    And the meat of the article? Turns out Trump is giving a finger to the “diplomatic community” of the USA:

    “On Thursday, the White House weighed in with an offer of professional help. The press secretary, Josh Earnest, urged the president-elect to make use of the State Department’s policy makers and diplomats in planning and conducting his encounters with foreign leaders.

    “President Obama benefited enormously from the advice and expertise that’s been shared by those who serve at the State Department,” Mr. Earnest said. “I’m confident that as President-elect Trump takes office, those same State Department employees will stand ready to offer him advice as he conducts the business of the United States overseas.”
    “Hopefully he’ll take it,” he added.

    A spokesman for the State Department, John Kirby, said the department was “helping facilitate and support calls as requested.” But he declined to give details, and it was not clear to what extent Mr. Trump was availing himself of the nation’s diplomats.”

    He is giving them the finger… before giving them a boot, perchance?

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Though I earlier stated personal doubts about the final implementation of “Turkish Stream”, it seems that Naftogaz has none as regards this matter:

    “Нафтогаз” начал считать потери после соглашения по “Турецкому потоку”

    “Naftogaz” has begun to count losses after the agreement on “Turkish stream”

    15:0602.12.2016 (updated: 16:34 02.12.2016)

    KYIV, Dec 2 — RIA Novosti. “Naftogaz of Ukraine” has refused to implement a costly project of reconstructing items of its infrastructure. Such investments in companies are considered to be inappropriate after Moscow and Ankara have agreed about the construction of the gas pipeline “Turkish stream”.

    “National Joint Stock Company ‘Naftogaz of Ukraine’ sees no need for the reconstruction of a number of compressor stations that are used exclusively for gas supplies to Turkey, as it believes that heading in such a direction is unpromising in view of the implementation of Turkish stream”, said the company press service on Friday.

    It has been clarified that equipment that had earlier been planned to purchase for the sum of more than $156 million was for the reconstruction of stations involved only in the transportation of gas to Turkey and would be impossible to use at other sites because of technical reasons.

    “Given the agreement between Russia and Turkey on the implementation of the project “Turkish stream”, which is intended to replace the transit of Russian gas to Turkey through the Ukraine, the investment is inexpedient”, said “Naftogaz”. The company has recommended that general purpose equipment be purchased.

    On 10 October, Russia and Turkey signed an agreement on the project “Turkish stream”. The document envisages the construction of two gas pipeline branches under the Black Sea, each branch having a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas. One branch is to supply gas directly to the Turkish market, the other for a gas supply transit through Turkey to European countries. The completion date is December 2019.

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    Poroshenko talks out of his arse to an audience of arse-holes:

    Порошенко выразил желание окончательно похоронить СССР

    Poroshenko has expressed his desire to finally bury the Soviet Union

    The President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has said that the Soviet Union that officially ceased to exist 25 years ago, is still as alive as before. He said this during a forum dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Poland recognizing the independence of the Ukraine, reports “Interfax”.

    Commenting on the statement of the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, that the USSR died 25 years ago at Belovezhskaya Pushch, Poroshenko said: “Don’t you believe it! The Soviet Union is neither on paper nor in the Belovezhskiy Putsch: the Soviet Union is in the mind, and in that sense, the USSR is still not buried and the Ukraine is now fighting in order to bury the Soviet Union”.

    The Ukrainian leader said that for 25 years the country has only strengthened its desire to get away from what was the Soviet Union. “The old and the new version of the Soviet colonial past is just not for us: we are for a Unified Europe”, he said.

    The current Ukrainian government has repeatedly proclaimed it is moving towards European integration. However, on 30 November, the Chairman of the Supreme Rada, Iryna Gerashchenko, said that the people of the country are disappointed with this idea owing to the fact that the EU has still not provided the country with a visa regime and ratified the Association Agreement.

    On December 8, 1991 Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus signed in Viskuli (Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Belarus) an agreement on the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Alma-ATA Protocol of December 21 joined the CIS and other former Soviet republics (except Georgia and the Baltic countries).

    Fighting the good fight against the Empire of Evil!

    Who could refuse giving Ukraine support in its noble fight against Soviet tyranny?

    Слава Україні! Героям слава!

  5. Northern Star says:

    “Turkey’s own intervention into Syria, Operation Euphrates Shield, has been carried out with the ***tacit complicity of Russia,*** which controls much of Syrian airspace, even as the Assad government has denounced the Turkish incursion.”
    Really???
    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/12/02/syri-d02.html

  6. Northern Star says:

    RecountORama:
    http://www.theblaze.com/news/2016/12/02/election-recount-in-michigan-less-likely-after-state-ags-latest-move/

    \”Stein’s campaign paid nearly $1 million upfront for the recount. But the actual cost to re-tally all the millions of votes could exceed $5 million, leaving taxpayers footing the bill for the difference.”

    Ahhh..so the little (aging) JAP puppet of Soros/Killary continues to enjoy taking it both ways..raking in the phony recount bucks for her Green Party’s coffers and sodomizing the Michigan taxpayers to also pay for the scam!!!

    http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/02/first-day-of-wisconsin-recount-nets-hillary-one-vote/

  7. Belarussian and Ukrainian Nazis are plotting a new Maidan together in Minsk: http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/12/unholy-alliance-belarusian-and.html

    Russia better not screw this up like it screwed up in 2013.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      karl, will you eat a bucket of shit should bat’ka Lukashenko and VVP somehow miraclously prevent this 100% real and bound to happen (any moment naow!) BelMaidan?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Screw up what? It’s relationship with that political dung-heap that is the Ukraine?

      The Ukraine is bankrupt.

      The Ukraine has lost territory.

      Areas of the Ukraine are in rebellion against the government.

      The Ukraine is now recognized as the most politically corrupt country in Europe.

      Ukrainians are becoming ever more impoverished, poorer than they are in some god-forsaken sub-Sahara African countries.

      Thousands of Ukrainians are leaving the Ukraine every week..

      Most of those Ukrainians fleeing the Ukraine settle in the “Aggressor State”, Russia.

      In short, the Ukraine is fucked several times over sideways.

      And you say Russia had better not screw it up this time as it did in 2013 with the Ukraine?

    • yalensis says:

      But…. but…. Karlushka!
      Are you not a neo-Nazi yourself?
      Sort of …?

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    At noon on 2 December ended the firing of Ukrainian army missiles into the Black Sea. And in connection with these firings, during the night from November 30 to December 1, the Ukraine changed the boundaries of its alleged aircraft danger zones.

    The announced firing area initially touched onto Russian territorial water limits on the West coast of the Crimea. After a change of coordinates, the firing took place in international waters.

    Thus, the latest crisis in Ukrainian-Russian relations has been exhausted. Nevertheless, the provocation had been organized. It had been organized by the Ukraine at the highest state level. And, despite the fact that in the end, the provocation failed, there was a reason behind of it all — but what?

    This is not the first attempt to start a war

    Remember that this is not the first provocation in relations between Kiev and Moscow that could give rise to a casus belli (a formal reason for starting a war).

    In 2014 Ukrainian missiles “accidentally” flew and armoured vehicles accidentally drove into Russian territory. Then the Ukraine authorities were trying to involve Russia in a war no matter what the cost. After a while, when it became clear that it was impossible to do this, Kiev calmed down and redirected its provocative activities towards the DNR/LNR.

    But suddenly, since August this year, one provocation has followed another.

    The first was the attempt of sabotage and reconnaissance groups to penetrate the Crimea, which action resulted in the deaths of two Russian soldiers.

    Then, on the territory of Russia (including, once again, the Crimea) there were detained several groups who were associated with Kiev and consisting of Ukrainian and Russian citizens who were preparing attacks on Russian territory. In parallel, Kiev intensified the shelling of Donbass cities, and during the October meeting in the Normandy format, Poroshenko almost openly refused to perform the Minsk agreement…

    The article continues about hawks vs. doves in Kiev and Porky,being, appropriately, the “pig in the middle”:

    Turchynov is known as one of the leaders of the extreme Kiev “hawks”, who consider it necessary to break diplomatic relations with Russia, close the border, declare martial law, carry out total mobilization and renew the war in the Donbass, and also start a war with Russia.

    The “hawks” interests periodically coincide with those of Poroshenko. The “hawks” want constant aggravation. For Poroshenko this is also necessary as a tool for the relief of another political crisis fraught with revolution…

    In the last month, the political position of Poroshenko has once again dramatically weakened: the IMF has denied the next tranche of a loan; the EU has not granted a visa-free regime;Yulia Tymoshenko (long-time and steadfast enemy of Poroshenko) has urged his supporters to take to the streets of Kiev and demand the resignation of the President.

    All this draws together Poroshenko and those “hawks” (Turchynov and interior Minister Arsen Avakov) who want to overthrow Poroshenko, but who do not want to share power with Tymoshenko, to say nothing of making her president.

    Thus, the provocation with missiles to strengthen Poroshenko’s position was necessary for both the president and Turchynov…

    When Kiev received a clear message from the Russian MOD and unofficial confirmation from Moscow that military measures would be taken, Poroshenko’s enthusiasm dried up. He immediately showed willingness to make concessions. But for right-wing hawks, a retreat was not on the cards. They are not afraid of war: on the contrary, they crave it, because war can bring them to power.

    Therefore, the “hawks” organized a second stage of provocation. They leaked to the press information about the content of defence ministry notes, believing that after this, Poroshenko would not be able to make any concessions, since that would make him look like a coward.

    However, this time Poroshenko was more afraid of a military response by Russia than he was of the “hawks” and still retreated. But all the internal contradictions of Ukrainian politics remain unresolved.

    Therefore, provocations up to the brink of war with Russia will continue to serve as an effective tool for solving these problems. And then Poroshenko will try to hold back at the last moment, and the hawks will try to push him a little further until retreat becomes impossible.

    So this is neither the first nor the last anti-Russian provocation undertaken by the Ukrainian authorities. With the deepening of the Ukrainian political crisis, their frequency and stiffness will increase.

    Rostislav Ishchenko, columnist MIA “Russia today”

    See: Ростислав Ищенко: Почему сорвалась украинская провокация c ракетными стрельбами

  9. Moscow Exile says:

    The presidents of Poland and the Ukraine have criticized the EC decision in favor of Gazprom

    Dec. 2nd, 2016 at 8:56 PM

    During a meeting in Warsaw on 2 December, the presidents of Poland and the Ukraine, Andrzej Duda, and Petro Poroshenko, signed a declaration on energy cooperation between their states. In the shared declaration they noted that the decision of the European Commission on the OPAL gas pipeline has negative consequences for Poland and the Ukraine.

    “We believe that this decision should be reviewed, although we realize that this is a complex process. We are committed to protecting our common interests, using legal mechanisms”, wrote in their statement the heads of Poland and the Ukraine.

    Recall that in late October of this year, the European Commission adopted a decision on the OPAL gas pipeline. According to this decision, the Russian concern Gazprom could increase gas supplies to Europe, bypassing the Ukraine. According to the decision of the European Commission, until 2033 Russia can use 80% of the capacity of OPAL. At the moment, “Gazprom” utilizes only 50% of pipeline capacity.

    See: Президенты Польши и Украины раскритиковали решение ЕК в пользу «Газпрома»

    Tough shit for a pair of tossers!

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Oh, Poland! Goodie-goodie! Remember, fellow stooges! Poland – stronk, can into relevance and is of big importnace in the EU and NATO! So, whatever crazy shit its, pardon me, “political leadership” is up to – its okay! No consequences for them in the end!

      Need another example? Fine! Just recently Polish Ministry of Education’s sex ed expert claimed that:

      – Using the rubber causes breast cancer!
      – A woman without “positive seed influence” is prone to sickness
      – Teachers’ backgrounds should probably be checked if those deviants aren’t giving a bad example to children by being, say, divorced or of other religion than Catholic. God forbid if they’re of intelligentsia, too.

      And I remind you – this is coming from the EU member (like, you know, an organization which has, allegedly, “common libera values”) and NATO’s eastward pleasure toy (or is it Latvia?).

      Other revelations include not including Lech Wałęsa in the newest draft of the official history book. Because he is unhandshakable by the PiS leadership. Other people who aren’t included include Mieszko I first historic king of Poland. Why? He wasn’t a Christian! Dobrawa, his wife and the reason he went Christian, is there.

      To imagine that such things could possibly happen in Russia – oh, the outrage!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Why is that a surprise?

      The Ukraine has been independent since it first came into existence — in 1991: nobody argues with that.

      That newly independent sovereign state was also given tabula rasa by Russia, itself newly independent from the USSR, in that Russia picked up the tab for all USSR debts — and settled them!

      The Ukraine, however, degenerated into the present shithole that it now is and this has all been of their own corrupt making. From day 1, the “elite” in the Ukraine have been creaming of that land hand over fist: they are still at it, but blame Russia for their own shit that fills their filthily vile and corrupt nest.

      Russians don’t want the Ukraine to be part of Russia: there are enough thieving bastards here as it is, but most learnt their lesson when Khodorkovsky got sent down. There has been no Ukrainian version of that slimy rat.In fact, one of the most corrupt politicians ever, former Yukie PM “Mr. 50%” Lazarenko, was arrested, tried and sentenced by a US court.

      It’s Westerners who have created their own reality as regards Russia wishing to bring back the Ukraine into the fold, that Putin has desires to resurrect the USSR.

      I feel that this myth stemmed, as usual, from ignorance as regards Russia. When Putin mentioned “Novorossiya” some 3 years ago and the meaning of that word became known in the West, then they in the West, the commentators, pundits and specialists and the rest of the know-nothing smart-arses such as “Moscow correspondent ” Harding, all started howling about Russian imperial expansion.

      Putin mentioned “Novorossiya” as a historical fact; that that part of present-day Banderaland was thus named after it had been annexed by the Russian Empire as a result of its military victory over the Ottomans, all done officially and above board, the Sultan of Turkey legally ceding his lost provinces to Russia, and settled by those encouraged to migrate there, and they were not only Russians from “Greater Russia” or “Little Russia” who settled in “New Russia”.

      Putin and the Russian government have never in any way contemplated having the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov provinces of Banderaland as part of Russia: for one thing, the majority of citizens in those provinces don’t want this either.

      The Crimea was a different kettle of fish, a horse of different colour or whatever you wish to call it, and most certainly never happy with being administered from Kiev. And in the Crimea is the city of Sevastopol, constructed by the Russian Empire as a base for the Russian Black Sea fleet, which city has never, ever been fully part of the Ukraine.

      • yalensis says:

        Excellent points!
        If there is one that sets post-Soviet Russia apart from post-Soviet Ukraine, it is Khodorkovsky.
        I have said it before: Khodor was the ALPHA AND OMEGA. Everything in modern Russian history flows from Khodorkovsky. His rise and his fall.

        Russia fired Khodor. Ukraine promoted him (or his like).
        In that single differential lies the difference in the fates of the two ill-starred nations.

  10. Cortes says:

    A very humbling account of the initial capping of Chernobyl:

    http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/brave-hero-chernobyl-nikolay-timofeyevich-antoshkin/ri17953

    Spoiled somewhat by failure to acknowledge Fukushima as much worse.

  11. Cortes says:

    The rare bird of a threefer (wash your minds, dirty beggars):

    Preamble on the new McCarthyism, exquisite retelliing of the headline subject and reflection on post election matters in exceptionalistan:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/roaming-charges-the-cias-plots-to-kill-castro/

  12. yalensis says:

    Lyttenburgh! Have you seen this ??
    Akopov is trying to steal your thunder as Kultur-Kritik!

    Just barely skimmed it.
    Seems like Putin was not thrilled with the latest production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” – or something like that…

  13. yalensis says:

    On Syria:
    Sometimes we tend to forget how, in modern cities, so many people live together so compactly. Hence, when journalists write that “16 blocks of Aleppo were liberated from terrorists by government forces”, it doesn’t really seem like that much territory.
    Until you take into account that something like 90,000 people inhabited those 16 blocks!
    Accompanying video shows the residents of those 16 blocks coming out into the streets, after being liberated by the Syrian army.

    And, by the way, this theme fits in very well with the title of Jen’s post “What does Freedom mean?”
    Freedom has many definitions; one of which is the freedom to NOT live under the jackboots of unelected headchopping terrorists, who just march in and take over one’s neighborhood.

    The VZGLIAD piece mentions that Russian President Putin signed an executive order on 29 November to send Russian mobile hospitals into Aleppo and neighboring suburbs, as soon as possible. The need for medical attention is very great among this suffering population.

  14. kirill says:

    Remember all the braying, bleating, screeching and pissing about the “anti-gay” and “anti-ngo” laws in Russia? Well, here you go:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-02/house-quietly-passes-bill-targeting-russian-propaganda-websites

    This is is likely to become law and is actual repression and not the fake hysteria about the Russian laws. These Russian laws have been forgotten but the aftertaste created by the NATzO MSM enables laws such as the above in the “paragon of democracy” called the USA.

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