Seasons Greetings From the Masters of Illusion

Uncle Volodya says, “When people complain of your complexity, they fail to remember that they made fun of your simplicity.”

Nolan Peterson, perennial Ukraine optimist and is-the-glass-half-empty-or-are-you-not-listening-to-me guy, feels like the country has turned a corner. Yes, by God, things are looking up. Ukraine might not be able to look forward to EU membership, but hey! It has visa-free travel, so if you have enough money for a vacation, you can go to the EU and see what it would be like to live there. Ukraine might not be able to look forward to NATO membership, but there are a few NATO troops in Ukraine training the country’s soldiers so that they can get a feel for what it would be like to be a NATO soldier, sort of.  I mean, apart from getting paid, and stuff.

And the country’s GDP growth might be an anemic 0.2%, the Balance of Trade might have been relentlessly negative for more than a year, so that Ukraine is digging itself into a deeper hole every month by buying more than it’s selling – worse yet, nearly all of it with borrowed money – and the Government Debt to GDP ratio might have more than doubled from Yanukovych to Poroshenko. Running the economy is like juggling flaming tar. But never mind that. Sit down for a minute, because Mr. Peterson has big news, the kind of news that is going to make you want to pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. You’re going to want to jump in the air – proof, incidentally, that you are not a Moskal – and click your heels together.

Ukraine now has Christmas.

Yes, isn’t that great??? Petro Poroshenko the inspirational leader, moved by a compulsion to give his countrymen a gift that all could enjoy, signed it into law – December 25th is now a public holiday, just like it is in the west! Now Ukrainians can experience – vicariously, at least – the joy of sharing a holiday with the west: not like those bearded Orthodox wierdos. In fact, that’s what makes it the best! Russia doesn’t have it!!

You might think I’m being sarcastic, but I assure you I’m not. Establishing an ever-more-obvious difference between Ukrainians and Russians who share the same genetic makeup is sufficiently important to Mr. Peterson that he put it in the headline. In Ukraine, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And a lot less like Russia.

I suppose we should have expected this, because it’s the kind of thing westerners – especially Americans – do in their eagerness to spread their culture of consumerism. The Moscow Times, a western-oriented newspaper with an American editor, based in Moscow, mounted a spirited campaign for a couple of years to get Hallowe’en to catch on in Russia, and was scathing in its denunciation of the government and the Orthodox religion for their resistance. I don’t really understand why this is so important, but it just seems as if the ‘democracy activists’ believe if they can get foreign populations to adopt western commercial holidays – which virtually all of them now are – they will respond more readily to exhortations to throw themselves into the kind of ridiculous spending frenzy holidays in the west imply, and docilely allow themselves to be managed by corporate advertising.

Holiday surveys in America predict the average American will spend between $950 and $1,200 on Christmas shopping this year. Some can afford it. Quite a few can’t.

Well, in that respect, Americans and Ukrainians are already just like brothers. You can sort of tell from the throngs of eager shoppers you can see in the picture accompanying Mr. Peterson’s smug article. At first glance, I would say Santa has his work cut out for him. According to state statistics, the average monthly wage across Ukraine in July 2017 was $276.00 USD. Right off the top of my head, I’m going to predict the average Ukrainian will not be spending a minimum of $950.00 on Christmas, because that represents almost three and a half months’ wages.

A big part of consumer research in the west is dedicated to finding out where people spend their money, and then developing advertising which will persuade them to spend it on targeted products instead. So what do Ukrainians spend their money on? Well, mostly – some 94% – goes on  food, transport, essential goods and communal services. According to a popular Ukrainian news site, Ukrainians have only 6% of their wages available for savings. Or…er…Christmas shopping. Gee; what a dilemma.

Say; you know, maybe there’s a lesson here. Maybe Ukrainians don’t need to be herded into aping westerners’ consumer habits quite yet. Perhaps they don’t need to be pawns in a one-upmanship game where western ideologues take a poke at Russia and then giggle behind their hands, waiting for a reaction. Maybe they need help breaking out of a system in which the country’s 50 wealthiest citizens control 85% of the nation’s GDP – because their president sure as hell isn’t going to help them there. Maybe instead of just blindly pumping money into the country without any accountability, so that much of it ends up in wealthy citizens’ offshore accounts and shell corporations, they need local agencies distributing aid money directly to small businesses and farmers and tradesmen under conditions of strict oversight and monitoring. Maybe the grinding noise of being crushed by poverty is making it hard for them to hear the jingling of sleigh bells and the prancing and pawing of each little hoof, if you get my drift.

Instead, westerners busy themselves thinking up ways in which Ukrainians can show that they are different from the dirty Russians, which plays into the fantasies of a tiny fraction of the population, and those the most ideological and least stable. Instead, westerners invent barriers which caused Ukraine to lose the Russian market for its goods which was more than a third of its GDP. In their minds, western ideologues are still missionaries, going amongst the heathen to save their souls for the real God.  And he’ll likely have them soon enough: Ukrainians’ life expectancy has faltered and stumbled, and they are dying faster than new Ukrainians can be born. If it were happening in Russia, it’d be ‘a death spiral’, because the Russians are our enemies and we like to think about lots of them dying. We don’t talk that way about our friends, though, so it’s a big mystery, although Ukrainians themselves have a pretty good idea why.

“This is a serious problem for the country,” Alex Ryabchyn, a member of Ukraine’s Parliament, told The Daily Signal. “People are dying due to bad living conditions, declining environmental standards, or the war. Another problem is that the most active workforce is considering emigration..More people are dying than are being born in Ukraine. In 2016, every birth in Ukraine was matched by 1.5 deaths, according to a January report by the State Statistics Service of Ukraine.

Where did we learn that? Why, from Nolan Peterson; the same guy who thinks a little ho-ho-ho is just what Ukrainians need to chase away those winter blues.

“They are Man’s and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Charles Dickens; A Christmas Carol

 

 

 

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1,921 Responses to Seasons Greetings From the Masters of Illusion

  1. Warren says:

    • Warren says:

      Kudos to the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia and most of the world! Trump and the obnoxious Nimrata Randhawa were humiliated and defeated.

    • Patient Observer says:

      You can see the countries slavish to the US abstain – Poland, Romania, Croatia, Latvia, etc. but Hungary and, in particular, the Philippines were surprising to me. Nevertheless it was a resounding rebuke of US threats and Haley’s statesmanship.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      No official comment off the White House yet, but Haley is mouthing it:

      • Moscow Exile says:

        So she thinks the organization to which she is the permanent representative of her state is irresponsible?


        The Queen Bitch is not amused.

        • Northern Star says:

          http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a14479968/nikki-haley-un-jerusalem/

          “If this administration* feels so put upon by the rest of the world, let it have the guts to pull the country out of the U.N. entirely, and do it in the open, and not through clumsy threats and angry laments about the ingratitude of it all. Did we lose the vote in the General Assembly? Of course, we did, 128-65. You get someone dependent upon what you provide, and then you threaten to withhold it if that person doesn’t do exactly what you say. That’s not how a great democracy acts. It’s how drug dealers do business.”

          Drug dealers..or Pimps…Guess Nikki may get a good bitch slappin’ for not bringing in enuf votes!!!!

          :O)

          • Jen says:

            Significant that the countries that sided with the US on recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital are (apart from Israeli itself) mostly small Central American countries dominated by extreme right-wing governments, one of which took power by coup in 2010; or tiny Pacific island countries dependent on US faux-humanitarian aid or the Pentagon in maintaining military bases in their territories and/or probably overrun by evangelical US missionaries.

            • Northern Star says:

              Yup!!
              http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/politics/trump-un-jerusalem-aid-intl/index.html

              Wow!! I’m looking over how the vote went nation by nation..USA got the crap kicked out of her on this..
              https://qz.com/1163296/un-jerusalem-vote-how-every-country-voted-on-trumps-decision/

              • marknesop says:

                You wait and see. Other countries who are *cough* arms suppliers would love to step in and make countries who fall victim to US pique their customers instead. Yeah, the USA gives away a lot of military hardware to its client states. But it also almost always specifies that if those aircraft and ships are not refitted by qualified US technicians, they will not be responsible for the results. Those tanks had better be upgraded by American armament techs, or else. You can get your ammo for those rifles anywhere, I suppose – but if you strip the rifling because you used someone else’s ammunition, don’t expect the USA to carry out repairs.

                The USA is not going to cut funding to anyone to whom it supplies arms, or else as soon as the existing systems wear out, the users will junk them and buy from someone else, knowing they can’t get parts or servicing. And it might be Russia, in a lot of cases. Uncle Sam should have had enough of shooting himself in the foot for this year.

          • marknesop says:

            As I commented on the Twitter feed, in response to a commenter who said something similar, let’s just take our money and go, Nikki, we can use it for jobs and infrastructure in our own country;

            “This, in a nutshell, is why you should take your money and go. You are the only country that thinks whatever cannot be bullied can be bought”.

        • marknesop says:

          In politics, never ask a question to which you do not already know the probable answer.

  2. Northern Star says:

    Is Serbia playing both Western and Russian Balkans endgames against the middle???

    “While Moscow treats President Vucic as a credible partner, he reportedly said he was “satisfied” with the Atlantic Council’s proposals and wished they would become official US policy. Having previously conducted an “internal dialogue” with himself on the topic of surrendering the Serbian claim to Kosovo ‒ in the pages of Western-owned newspapers, no less ‒ he now says he’d be happy to hand the issue over to Russia for mediation.
    Embittered Serbians might say that Vucic is setting up Moscow to take the fall on Kosovo so he can finally do what he wants and cave into Washington’s demands. Given Serbia’s ongoing political and media vassalage to the West, it’s difficult to argue they’d be wrong.”

    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/413852-vucic-russia-serbia-nato/

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Oh look at what I just got given me!

    !https://icdn.lenta.ru/images/2017/12/21/12/20171221122514922/brief_f8fe6380f3186e74c06a46d665607174.jpg

    The state Department has approved the delivery to the Ukrainian army of modified 50 calibre Barrett sniper rifles, “Model M107A”

    It may be related to the Model 82A1®/M107®, but the M107A1 is far from a simple evolution. Driven by the demands of combat, every component was re-engineered to be lighter yet stronger. Designed to be used with a suppressor, this rifle allows you to combine signature reduction capabilities with the flawless reliability of the original Barrett M107, but with a weight reduction of 5 pounds. Advanced design and manufacturing make the M107A1 more precise than ever.

    See: BarrrrettM107A1

    Happy hunting!

  4. Warren says:

    RT
    Streamed live 27 minutes ago
    SUBSCRIBE 2.2M
    UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Moscow on Thursday, December 21, ahead of a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

  5. Northern Star says:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/hr-mcmaster-us-trump-ready-to-take-north-korea-nuclear-weapons-by-force-2017-12

    Asked by the BBC on Tuesday whether the US was committed to a peaceful resolution to the North Korean crisis, McMaster abandoned the usual formality of political speech.

    “We’re not committed to a peaceful resolution,” McMaster said. “We’re committed to a resolution.”

    McMaster thinks an attack on NK will be like his Desert Storm Glory Days as a young Captain..
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._R._McMaster#Military_career

    it won’t

    • Warren says:

      For the US it will be more like…………..

      a la 1950……….

      • Northern Star says:

        EXACTLY…LOL!!!!

        (However..in spite of some of my comments-I do not celebrate the deaths of people-other than white racist or neo nazi vermin or black drug dealers..or rap artists pedophiles..or
        NWO warmongers..or..etc.)

        :O)

  6. Northern Star says:

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/21/nkor-d21.html

    “Far from cancelling its provocative war games ahead of the Winter Olympics, the US is considering not sending a US team to compete. US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley told Fox News earlier this month it was an “open question” whether American athletes would participate, citing security reasons.”

    Anyway..
    “The US has mounted a series of major joint military exercises with South Korea and other nations in what amount to rehearsals for war with North Korea. Last week, in another provocative show of force, hundreds of special forces troops took part in “Warrior Strike” to practice a US-led military intervention into North Korea to seize its nuclear weapons.”
    Under pressure from Washington, the UN has already banned virtually all exports from North Korea, and placed limits on the sale of oil to the Pyongyang regime. This week the Trump administration called for another 10 ships to be added to the UN’s blacklist for allegedly circumventing sanctions on North Korea. In addition, the US has imposed its own unilateral sanctions not only on Pyongyang, but also individuals and entities from other countries, including Russia and China.
    These crippling sanctions are aimed at provoking an economic and political crisis in Pyongyang that the US and its allies could exploit to change the regime. The rehearsal of military interventions into North Korea is part of a broader joint strategic plan—OPLAN 5015—that envisages pre-emptive strikes on key targets and “decapitation raids” to assassinate North Korean leaders.”

    LOL!!!

    Going into an affluent ritzy suburban compound –
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbottabad#Economy
    and ambush assassinating a bin Laden surrounded by his harem is one thing…..

    Going into Pyongyang up against heavily armed NK troops who are expecting an attack…whole different ball game

    • Jen says:

      Makes you wonder whether Nikki Haley will make a list of all those American athletes who decide to compete under the Olympic flag.

  7. Moscow Exile says:

    Navalny a lawyer?

    Тайны биографии Навального: «Первые сто тысяч евро получил от Ходорковского»
    Secrets from his biography: “The First hundred thousand euros came from Khodorkovsky”

    After school, Navalny entered the law faculty of the Russian University of Peoples’ Friendship and, according to official figures, graduated in 1998. But could not have graduated, according to Lina Kandakzhi, a teacher of radio journalism at the PFUR, who wrote about this in her Twitter account. “This person Navalny did not graduate from the university: he was expelled from the first year. He is a liar.” This Twitter entry was re-signed by Kandakzhi’s attorney, Violetta Volkov, but the topic did not receive any resonance and the teacher herself has refused to comment on this story.

    My official inquiry at the PFUR does not receive a reply for about a month: they say that they transferred it from one department to another; they ignore letters, promise to clarify the information later by phone … What is this? Whether it is negligence of employees or deliberate reluctance to answer is unclear.

    You cannot directly blame Navalny for lying, however: to buy a diploma for one university, and then enter another higher education course at another was a scheme typical for those years. Indeed, a year after the alleged graduation from the PFUR, Navalny became a student in the fee paying Finance and Credit Faculty of the Government of the Russian Federation Finance Academy, majoring in Securities and Exchange Business, and graduated in 2001.

  8. Northern Star says:

    https://www.rt.com/news/413556-assad-west-support-terrorism-war/

    “The war in Syria won’t be over until every last terrorist is defeated, including those backed by the West, Syrian President Bashar Assad has said, accusing some Western countries of having hands “covered in Syrian blood.”

    “Since the beginning, France has been the spearhead of supporting terrorism in Syria,” Assad shot back. “France’s hands are covered in Syrian blood and it has no right to evaluate any peace conference. Those who support terrorism do not have the right to talk about peace, let alone the right to interfere in the Syrian affairs. All their statements mean nothing to us and have no value.”

    Assad is absolutely on point..but **all** of syrian territory needs to be cleanses of vermin ASAP:
    https://www.rt.com/news/413877-aleppo-shelled-liberation-anniversary/

  9. Northern Star says:

    LOL!!….Zionists want to keep folk-particularly guys- mesmerized by that hot phat ass!!!

    Not distracted by this stuff:
    “Comparing western media coverage of two Middle Eastern girls – one from the occupied West Bank and one from eastern Aleppo – reveals the media is beholden to the imperatives of US foreign policy.
    On Monday night, Israeli forces arrested Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old girl Palestinian girl. She now sits in a military prison awaiting judgement. But if you’re watching US mainstream media, you wouldn’t know it. That’s because the coverage of Tamimi – or lack thereof – is in stark contrast to the case of Bana al-Abed, an eight-year-old Syrian girl who became an almost overnight media sensation in October 2016.”

    https://www.rt.com/usa/413798-tamimi-bana-media-bias/

  10. Northern Star says:

    The issue of exactly what entity or entities are to be recognized as having Jerusalem as capital is inextricably bound up with the two-state solution issue,as is set forth in the 2017 reaffirmation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act:

    “On June 5, 2017, the measure passed the Senate by a 90-0 margin.
    Here’s the caveat: The same resolution that passed the Senate 90-0 also included this provision: The Senate “reaffirms that it is the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States government that the permanent status of Jerusalem remains a matter to be decided between the parties through final status negotiations towards a two-state solution.”

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/dec/06/donald-trump/donald-trump-correct-about-history-jerusalem-embas/

  11. Northern Star says:

    Uh Oh… Slovenia is among the Coalition of the 128 NOT willing to be punked by USA..

    Maybe some panic stricken late night 911 DV calls from the WH??

    Melania better keep a low profile around Trump and Nikki !!!!!! LOL!!

    • Warren says:

      Murder, rape, theft and desecration is the IDF stock-in-trade. The creatures defecate in people houses, smearing faeces on peoples walls.

      • Jen says:

        Utterly disgusting – the IDF are worse than animals. I remember reading something over a decade ago about IDF soldiers trashing a school in the West Bank, leaving faeces and urine everywhere, even in the school’s photocopier machine. The children’s work was destroyed as well. “Most moral army in the world” – no way, Jose!

  12. Cortes says:

    Encouraging that the UNGA including the usual chihuahuas like the UK dared to oppose the wishes of Exceptionalistan.

    The real battle for hearts and minds still seems to be sports related.

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/dec/21/our-sin-take-task-fifa-seriously

    The campaign against FIFA 2018 is in its early stages.

    • marknesop says:

      We knew, of course, that changing an institutional culture would be a long process; two steps forward, one step back. We were dealing with a game, and its organisations, including national football associations, generally extremely resistant to independent scrutiny, lacking real democracy and integrity, dominated by a small group of people resistant to public accountability, in a context of huge economic stakes and endemic political interference.

      Yes, of course – any entity which is on the receiving end of American meddling and interference ‘lacks democracy and integrity’. You simply cannot go wrong by citing democracy too often.

  13. Moscow Exile says:

    Суд арестовал поставки газа из Словакии на Украину

    Court stopped supply of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine
    22 Dec 2017, 00:56

    On 20 Dec., a court in Slovakia stopped gas supplies to “Naftogaz of Ukraine”. The decision was made pursuant to the decision of the Stockholm arbitration over a claim made by the Italian company IUGas that its Ukrainian consumer owed it money.

    The total amount of the claim, including interest and penalties, is approximately $21 million. An arbitration ruling was accepted on 19 December 2012 and relates to unpaid 2007 transactions .

    Under international law, if the defendant has not fulfilled the resolution of the arbitration, the plaintiff may apply to the courts of other states with a request that the ruling be executed.

    “Naftogaz of Ukraine” is analyzing the situation to determine its next steps, according to the Ukrainian edition “Mirror of the Week”.

    For 11 months of 2017, “Naftogaz of Ukraine” had bought in Eastern Europe 20.9 billion cubic metres of gas. Most of the supplies — more than 8 billion cubic metres — are in Slovakia.

    As written in iz.ru, arbitration is under consideration in Stockholm as redgards the lawsuit made by “Gazprom” against “Naftogaz”, the decision on which will be issued by the court no later than February next year. The adjusted amount of the claims made by the Russian company was more than $ 37 billion.

    All this is the Aggressor State’s doing!

    For the sake of freedom and democracy, the Ukraine must be supported!

  14. Warren says:

    CGTN
    Published on 21 Dec 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 277K
    Forty-five years ago on December 21, China and Australia formally established diplomatic relations. Since then, the bilateral ties have enjoyed tremendous development. Tension, however, recently brewed between the two countries. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his country will “stand up” to China’s influence, while denying he is anti-China. Why does Australia worry about China’s influence? And how does Australia’s foreign policy reflect the nature of the overall relationship?

  15. Moscow Exile says:

    Isn’t she just too wonderful for words?

  16. Warren says:

    Suspicious ‘Russian diplomat’ removed from UK Parliament debate is actually American

    The House of Commons has become the scene of another bizarre incident as Members of Parliament demanded that a suspicious “Russian diplomat” be ejected from the chamber. The man, however, turned out to be American.

    https://www.rt.com/uk/413920-man-parliament-russain-american/

    • James lake says:

      To think this is the level of representation here in the UK.
      It brings to mind the following
      – Better to remain silent and be thought an idiot, than to speak and remove all doubt.

      The quality of people that go into politics here in the UK is so low, and they wonder why people don’t vote!
      Ben Bradshaw is obsessed with Russia and believes they caused Brexit despite there being no proof – he blames the investigators for not finding it. Very odd
      Chris Bryant is infamous because he posted pictures of himself in his underpants! And they are considered to be prominent MPs

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    How should one look upon disrespect shown by the US towards others at the UN?

  18. Warren says:

    TheTalko
    Published on 16 Nov 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 4.6M
    Take a look inside the world of the wealthiest Russian citizens.

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    They don’t do “Christmas” in Russia — not like they do in “Independent” Ukraine, do they?

    Not according to an American mercenary, resident in Kiev they don’t — and he should know, shouldn’t he?

    But they do — with the full coca-Cola treatment, worse luck!

    Праздник к нам приходит!
    Вот уже 17 лет перед новогодними и рождественскими праздниками по дорогам России неутомимо колесит «Рождественский караван Coca-Cola»


    The Christmas Caravan has arrived in Yemelyanovo

    The Holiday is approaching!
    For 17 years, prior to the New Year and Christmas holidays, the “Coca-Cola Christmas Caravan” has been tirelessly rolling along.

    • yalensis says:

      I never understood that advertising connection between Coke and winter.
      Coke is a cold drink, after all, isn’t it better suited to summer?
      When you think of winter and Santa Claus, one thinks of warm beverages, like coffee, tea, hot chocolate…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The Coke-Christmas connection has been rolling merry along since the Coca-Cola company hired Santa Claus in the 1930s:

        Father Christmas never sold out, though.

        That’s because Father Christmas is Woden really, not a reincarnation of some pre-Great schism Christian bishop from Anatolia.

        Old English gods don’t drink that fizzy stuff from Atlanta, Georgia; and who would, indeed, if there is mead and ale on offer?

        Waes hael!

  20. yalensis says:

    People:
    For those interested in the true spirit of Christmas, a “very special” Christmas edition of my blogpost. Featuring reindeers and stuff.

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    Moscow Times sends me an unsolicited, snidey, monthly summary of events in Mordor , which goes directly to my spam box.

    But sometimes I check it out.

    Take a dekko at this Yuletide one that’s just arrived:

    Right after the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union’s first secret police organization — the Cheka — is celebrating its 100th birthday.

    It was a century of not entirely unjustified terror, FSB head Alexander Bortnikov explained in a lengthy interview, interrupted only by the ringing of his Felix Dzerzhinsky iPhone.

    Trust Pussy Riot to play the contrarians. “Happy Birthday, Butchers,” read the banner Maria Alyokhina unfurled outside the FSB’s Lubyanka headquarters. She was promptly sentenced to 40 hours of community service to teach her some manners.

    Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been slapped with Magnitsky sanctions for human rights abusers following reports of a gay purge in his North Caucasus republic. Kadyrov laughed off the measure while pumping iron at the gym.

    Pickle ornaments and nutcrackers will add a Russian flavor to your holiday season. Just in time, since pickles and mayonnaise might soon be cut from the traditional New Year Olivier Salad, after a Russian scientist warned of potential health hazards.

    A real holiday tragedy.

    Editor’s Picks

    Nabi Abdullaev predicts the four main risks for foreign businesses in 2018.

    And Mark Galeotti argues that the sentencing of former Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev to eight years in prison heralds the beginning of the end for Putin’s regime.

    The weather, dolphins, even tedium — what hasn’t Putin weaponized?

    Happy Christmas from all of us at The Moscow Times!

    Pussy Riot! Doncha just love ’em!

    And Galleoti’s latest prediction! Will you look at that!

    Hark the Galleoti herald sings,
    Putin is soon to pay for his sins?

    We shall see.

    Interesting for me though, is that although whoever wrote the above about “Olivier Salad” is very likely a North American, in that he does not know what salted gherkins are, calling them “pickles”, US style, he ends with greeting his unsolicited readers with “Happy Christmas” which expression, I have noticed over recent years, having become quite common in my native country.

    They also talk of “Christmas Lunch” now in my home country.

    What the hell is “Christmas Lunch” — a turkey sandwich?

    “Merry Christmas” if you will, but I prefer “Yuletide Greetings” for it is Yuletide now, the Winter Solstice, Yule, having taken place yesterday, 21 December.

    Christmas?

    Bah, humbug!

    🙂

  22. Moscow Exile says:

    Борис Джонсон пошутил про отданное Лаврову пальто
    22 декабря 2017

    Boris Johnson jokes about his overcoat that he handed over to Lavrov

    British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov exchanged jokes about their trust, as reported by an RBK correspondent
    .
    “As evidence of the measure of my confidence, I can tell you that as soon as I had arrived at the talks, I immediately handed over my coat and everything that was in my pockets, as well as my gloves, to Sergei Lavrov. I knew that he would look after them and that nothing untoward would happen”, Johnson said.

    Lavrov responded: “I am able to say that there was nothing in Boris’s coat pockets”.

    During the meeting of the two ministers in Moscow, Johnson announced his readiness to “turn over a new leaf” on the subject of possible Russian intervention in the election campaigns of Western countries. To this end, he said, it is necessary that such attempts by Russia remain in the past.

    The British Foreign Secretary said that he was a “convinced Russophile”.

    “I am the first foreign minister of Great Britain whose name is Boris, and there will not be any more in this post named Boris for a long time to come. Do not doubt that I want an improvement in the relations between our peoples”, he said.

    This is the first time in five years that a British Foreign Minister has visited Russia. The visit was announced in October, after which announcement there appeared an article in “The Times” by Labour Party politician Chris Bryant, who advised Johnson not to take to Russia any gadgets that could be accessed by the Internet so as avoid eavesdropping by the FSB. He also recommended that he watch out for food and drink in Russia lest it be “poisoned” and that he not use a lift alone.

    In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Twitter jokingly urged Johnson to beware of bears on the Moscow streets.

    As indeed did the Russian Embassy in London:


    Chris Bryant

    Bryant, a former Church of England vicar who left the ordained ministry after having decided that being a homosexual and being a priest were incompatible, is a House of Commons swindler:

    Bryant claimed over £92,000 in expenses over the five years leading up to the 2009 scandal over MPs’ expenses. During that time he flipped his second-home expenses twice, claimed mortgage interest expenses that started at £7,800 per year before rising (after flipping) to £12,000 per year. He also claimed £6,400 in stamp duty and other fees on his most recent purchase, and £6,000 per year in service chargesWiki

    Bryant was Shadow Leader of the House of Commons until he resigned from the post with a mard lip on following the Brexit vote in the Commons.

    He also said that if Trump comes to the UK, he should be arrested for inciting racial hatred, albeit that, as far as I know, the US President has not incited racial hatred in the UK.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    В «Газпроме» ответили на заявления «Нафтогаза» о победе в суде

    Gazprom has responded to Naftogaz’s statements about victory in court

    The Stockholm arbitration has satisfied most of Gazprom’s claims made against Naftogaz Ukraine regarding payment for supplied gas, the company has said in a statement. In Moscow. They stressed that the main demands of the Ukrainian side by the court had been rejected.

    The court did not recognize the right of Naftogaz to review the price of gas, the deliveries of which were carried out from May 2011 to April 2014. Also, the Ukrainian side was denied recovery of overpayment. Gazprom noted that the court found it necessary to apply the “take or pay” principle (annual payment of a minimum amount of gas) before the expiry of the contract.

    “Naftogaz” has to pay back $2 billion in arrears and interest for late payment to Gazprom. The Ukrainian side is also obliged from next year to take 5 billion cubic metres from Russia annually.

    Earlier on Friday, Naftogaz said that the court had awarded the victory to the Ukrainian side. In Kiev, they stressed that Gazprom’s “take-or-pay” requirements had been “completely” rejected by the court, and the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 had been lowered to $ 352 per thousand cubic metres.

    The court considered contracts for the supply of gas from Russia to the Ukraine, as well as gas transit through the Ukraine. They were signed back in 2009. The Ukraine, insisted “Gazprom”, did not get any gas 2012-2014, and also in individual quarters of 2015 and 2016. “Naftogaz” asked the court to review the gas prices, and that overpayment be reimbursed and that the ban on further resale of gas be cancelled.

    Kremlin propaganda from a “Kremlin controlled” newspaper?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Naftogaz’s victory in the Stockholm arbitration: not a knockout, but a clear advantage and three knockdowns 🙂

      PEREMOGA!!!!!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Reuters:

          Both Ukraine and Russia claim victory in gas dispute

          “Naftogaz won the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute,” Naftogaz said in an emailed statement.

          It said the ruling was worth around $75 billion to Naftogaz in the long term, but did not give a breakdown on how it reached the estimate. [My stress — ME]

          Meanwhile Gazprom said the court had satisfied most of Gazprom’s claims and ruled that the main terms of the contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom were valid.

          Gazprom said the Stockholm court had ordered Naftogaz to pay more than $2 billion to Gazprom for gas supply arrears and that it had also ordered Naftogaz to buy 5 bcm of gas from Gazprom annually from 2018.

          Estimated $75 billion in the “long term”?

          Have to pay $2 billion to Gazprom in arrears now (not mention interest).

          From 2018 (i.e. in just over a week’s time) have to buy annually 5 bcm of gas off the “aggressor state”.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Western media, e.g. Deutsche Welle, is now all singing of a Naftogaz victory.

            • marknesop says:

              Of course; that’s what Klimkin told them. Why should they check? Klimkin is always reliable, and I’m sure he tweeted a press statement directly to them. Let them hold a Naftogaz victory party if that’s what they feel like doing. Just don’t spend Russia’s money on it. Because I notice Ukraine has to pay Russia. I did not see anything in there about Russia having to pay Ukraine. And so Ukraine can have all of that kind of victories it wants.

          • Cortes says:

            Is the 5 bcm a year for the domestic market? Asking because I thought the cutoff for transit for gas to Europe was 2019.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Ultimately, the court greatly reduced the amount of gas that Ukraine is contractually obligated to buy from Russia. From 2018, “Naftogaz” should annually take and pay for up to 5 billion cubic metres instead of the original 52 billion cubic metres … in any case it means the resumption of gas purchases in Russia, which stopped in 2015, since when “Naftogaz” has been buying all its fuel through reverse flow from Europe.

              See: Победителей не рассудят

              But nobody in the Western media seems to be bothered to point out where this reverse flow gas mostly originates.

            • marknesop says:

              Ukraine would likely use that as domestic supply, not for transit. Russia could ensure that was the case by not paying transit fees. Ukraine is not going to transit the gas to Europe for free.

        • marknesop says:

          It’s as if Ukraine was a man accused of murdering his wife, and upon whose case the defense lawyer announced, “The court absolutely agreed with my client that someone killed her”.

  24. Moscow Exile says:

    Lavrov makes a complete ass out of Johnson:

    “I should still like to at least get some facts supporting our unsuccessful meddling.

    Without facts, it’s very hard to have a serious discussion.

    I think you’ve just made all of this up. Unfortunately, you are a sort of hostage to this subject.

    It’s very hard to get down from the fence you’ve climbed.

    Look at the fool’s body language!

    He’s dealing with a professional diplomat here in the shape of Lavrov, and he’s giggling and chuckling and fucking around as though he were with his Bullingdon Club pals back in Oxford:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Does anyone think that the fair and balanced, not-Westminster-controlled, BBC will transmit the above Lavrov -Johnson meeting back in the UK?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Whatever they were, they were not successful. It seems to me that if these attempts were unsuccessful, it would have been very different. Unfortunately, there was lots of evidence of Russian interference in the elections in Germany, Denmark, France, the United States of America — the British Foreign Minister to the Russian Foreign Minister in Moscow earlier today.

      He should provide evidence or shut his fat gob.

      Better still, he should be fucked off for making such unsubstantiated accusations against Russia in Russia.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Bollocks!

        That’s a Russian to English translation of what Johnson said, and as usual, they never get their conditional sentences right!

        This is what the vulgar oaf said in real English:

        Whatever they were, they were not successful. It seems to me that if these attempts had not been unsuccessful, it would have been very different. Unfortunately, there was lots of evidence of Russian interference in the elections in Germany, Denmark, France, the United States of America — the British Foreign Minister to the Russian Foreign Minister in Moscow earlier today.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          This how the Russian media translated what Johnson said (above):

          Какими бы они ни были, они оказались не успешными. Мне кажется, что если бы эти попытки возымели успех, все было бы совсем иначе. К сожалению, было очень много свидетельств вмешательства России в выборы в Германии, Дании, Франции, Соединенных Штатах Америки.

          And this is how it translates word for word without a machine translator:

          Whatever they were, they did not turn out to be successful. It seems to me that if these attempts had been successful, everything would have been very different. Unfortunately, there was lots of evidence of Russian interference in the elections in Germany, Denmark, France, the United States of America.

  25. Moscow Exile says:

    What has Putin ever done for Russia?

    #1 During Putin’s presidency, Russians began to dress much better:

  26. Patient Observer says:

    FYI, a recent (double) police murder in the US:

    A 6-year-old boy was shot and killed by Bexar County sheriff’s deputies as they opened fire on a woman who was thought to have a gun at a mobile trailer park after a lengthy manhunt. No gun was found.

    “Something in the way she presented [herself] placed deputies in fear for their lives,” Sheriff Salazar told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/414004-6yo-boy-killed-by-deputies/

  27. Patient Observer says:

    Putin on improving infant and maternal health care in Russia:

    “Our infant and maternal mortality rates have noticeably gone down. Since 2000, the infant mortality rate has fallen three times, and the maternal [mortality] rate has fallen almost four times. I don’t think that any other social sphere in the world shows such data. And the result is the rise of life expectancy. It was just over 70, and now it’s 72 years,” the Russian leader said during the live program.

    • kirill says:

      Alcohol consumption has collapsed to levels lower than those seen during Gorbachev’s draconian controls but without any state coercion. I think this is the best overall indicator of the well being of Russians. During the 1990s under the heady freedom days of Yeltsin the Comprador Russians were drinking themselves into the grave and life expectancy for males was 58 years. It was over 65 years before 1991. If Navalny and the rest of the scumbags trying to ruin Russia had truth on their side, then Russians would be consuming more alcohol than ever and the life expectancy for males would be under 55 years and for females under 60.

      People should be reminded regularly about Navalny’s love for Yeltsin the Comprador.

  28. Patient Observer says:

    The US leads in troll technology. No more windowless warehouses staffed with minimum wage English majors sweating over ancient CRTs. Here are the juicy parts:

    http://russia-insider.com/en/ny-times-frets-about-russian-propaganda-ignores-massive-troll-farms-run-america-and-its-allies

    – Defense Department’s $100 million program Operation Earnest Voice software that “creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda.”
    – US Air Force’s 2010 solicitation of “persona management” software designed to create hundreds of sock puppets, “replete with background, history, supporting details and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.”
    – USAID (the same government agency, incidentally, that funds Freedom House) secretly creating an entire social media platform to “stir unrest” in Cuba.
    – US State Department’s newly created $160 million Global Engagement Center, targeting English-language audiences with unattributed Facebook videos combating, in part, “Russia propaganda.”

    • et Al says:

      JTRIG.

      Snowden broke it via Glenn Greenwald & Wikileaks.

      The British officially stood up their Brigade 77 a while ago, but you can bet that such operations were going on well before any announcement.

      It’s quite impressive how the world’s ‘free, fair and democratic’ media have been such willing water carriers for their governments claims that they are only responding to cyberwarefare hacking, surveillance, phishing etc. when the facts show that the West has led. CIA/Mossad STUXNET anyone? And that’s one we know about. Now everyone has it, criminals too. Siemens must be charmed.

    • marknesop says:

      “The column condemns “surreptitious techniques pioneered in Moscow and Beijing to use the internet to drown out dissent and undermine free elections…”

      What, you mean free elections like the one where Clinton’s campaign cut Bernie Sanders’ campaign off from access to the DNC voter list? And he had to sue to get it back? Like the one where the Chair of the DNC had to resign because they were caught red-handed rigging the race for Clinton? To be immediately hired as honorary Chairwoman of Clinton’s campaign? That kind of free election?

  29. Northern Star says:

    How many American Stooges were even aware of this hideous fascist farce of judicial abuse?

    “A Washington DC jury has acquitted all six defendants of all charges against them, in the first trial of the victims of mass arrests by police during the inauguration of President Trump last January 20.

    The so-called J20 defendants faced sentences of as long as ***50 years in prison*** if they had been convicted on the seven counts each one faced, including two of rioting and five of destruction of property. Instead, the jury delivered not-guilty verdicts on all 42 separate counts. Judge Lynn Leibovitz previously dismissed one of the most serious charges, felony inciting to riot, for all six defendants.

    The six included Jennifer Armento, 38, of Philadelphia; Oliver Harris, 28, of Philadelphia; Brittne Lawson, 27, of Aspinwall, Pennsylvania; Michelle Machio, 26, of Asheville, North Carolina; Christina Simmons, 20, of Cockeysville, Maryland; and Alexei Wood, 27, of San Antonio, Texas, a freelance journalist who was live-blogging the inauguration protests.

    The verdict was a shattering setback for the government’s case, which was an antidemocratic frame-up from beginning to end. Prosecutors readily conceded in statements to the jury that there was no evidence that any of the six defendants had committed acts of violence or property destruction. They nonetheless insisted that merely by remaining in the demonstration while scattered acts of violence took place, all six were guilty.”

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/22/inau-d22.html

    But it is NOT over, many more are still facing charges and the administration is deciding whether or not to pursue those cases.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/j20-trial-verdict-jury-acquits-inauguration-day-protesters-trump-2017-12

  30. Northern Star says:

    @Mark
    For your unabashed leering lust for the Nimrata C….20 years hard labor at the Norilsk re-education compound..no possibility of parole!!!
    https://io9.gizmodo.com/scenes-from-the-worlds-northernmost-big-city-a-polluted-1595204982

    • Northern Star says:

      Ummm…you may post this on your frozen straw/mud hut wall:

    • Patient Observer says:

      Am I missing something? The city looked pretty decent. The bright colors on the building facades would help an otherwise bleak landscape.

      Where is the evidence of its lofty ranking in the polluted cities? Based on particulate matter pollution, it does not even appear in the top 500 (no Russia city did for that matter):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_polluted_cities_by_particulate_matter_concentration

    • kirill says:

      None of those photographs is showing what is claimed. There is no evidence of any ground level pollution. Given its location, this city has the cleanest background air on the planet compared to basically any other city. Clearly the stacks are not loading up the near surface environment with aerosols and pollution gases. Norilsk is a very large source of SO2, but it gets distributed over most of the Arctic and does not sit in a trap like in the case of LA or the Sacramento Valley.

  31. Patient Observer says:

    Haley has completed the transformation of diplomacy at the the UN into a farce. Its her party and she can cry if she wants to.

    The 64 nations that voted ‘no,’ abstained, or were not present during the UN General Assembly’s diplomatic spanking of Washington’s Jerusalem move will get a “thank you” reception from US envoy Nikki Haley.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/414008-nikki-haley-un-party-jerusalem/

    All food will be kosher.

    Perhaps those unwanted miserably losers (e.g. China, Russia, most of Europe, etc.) can have their version of the deploraball featuring sumptuous Middle East cuisine (no joke, that would be good eatin’).

  32. Northern Star says:

    I realize some of you are skeptical of VT…However I think that this particular article is Spot ON!!

    https://www.veteranstoday.com/2017/12/21/russia-rises-new-world-order-morally-and-intellectually-falls/

    “JEA: Have you stumbled upon the writing of Masha Gessen? She is one of the most dishonest people I have ever encountered when it comes to Russia. She also cannot put two coherent thoughts together. I have discussed some of her writings in the past.

    PB: I wrote a story about Gessen, which is about to be published. Ordinarily, I shun harsh personal criticisms of such individuals, but this woman is an especially onerous and dangerous case. Suffice it to say she is “damaged goods”, or someone a psychologist might refer to as irrational or “unbalanced” – I would not consider anything she says credible.

    Gessen’s agenda is entirely wrapped around her gayness and the LGBT empowerment agenda. Like the ousted Russia oligarchs, the western hegemons see her influence in this community as a weapon. This is the open book of Masha Gessen.”

  33. Warren says:

    RT
    Published on 22 Dec 2017
    SUBSCRIBE 2.2M
    Britain’s Foreign Secretary has held a joint news conference with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov following bilateral talks. It comes as relations between the two nations are at a historic low. To discuss their talks and more, RT crossed live to Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London.

    “Red” Ken Livingstone makes a very interesting claim, he says Obama wanted Putin to align with the US against China, when Putin refused, cue the orchestrated campaign against Russia and Putin personally. This caught my attention, because I have notice how many within the so-called Russian opposition are anti-China, anti-Arab, anti-Caucasus, etc. Andrei Piontkovsky remark that the strategic relationship between Russia and China was akin to “a partnership between a rabbit and a boa constrictor” is often repeated by Western so-called experts seeking to cause mistrust within and undermine the Russian-Chinese strategic relationship. Navalny bigotry towards people from the Caucasus has been well documented. nevertheless I have yet to hear him say anything in the foreign policy realm, and specifically with regards to Russia’s relations with China. Western so-called experts and media have consistently promoted the “Yellow Peril” in Russia.

    • kirill says:

      China does not have any history of global hegemony ambitions. The UK and its spawn the USA clearly had and still have such ambitions. And Russia is only weak in the rabid delusions of Russia haters. China may try, but it will not succeed in militarily taking over Russia. But China is the least likely out of all of Russia’s “friends” to try this.

      • davidt says:

        I agree that China does not have a history of global hegemony ambitions. Thus, it seemed to me, Deng’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979 was unexpected and stupid. The reasons that Deng gave for this war left me very uncomfortable, and have left deep divisions between China and Vietnam.

  34. Northern Star says:

    For the American UN rep to be a warmongering psycho POS has a certain Deja Vu feel to it..does it not??

    http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/5689320359001/?#sp=show-clips

    Hmmm..who were the reps under Obongo??

    Well…there you have it…!!!

  35. et Al says:

    Euractiv: ‘Fact or Fake’: Did Russia influence the Brexit campaign on Twitter?
    http://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/video/fact-or-fake-did-russia-influence-the-brexit-campaign-on-twitter/

    As Brexit throws up new twists and turns almost every day, EURACTIV’s Frédéric Simon goes over some recent allegations about Russian interference in 2016’s vote to leave the European Union.

    ‘Fact or Fake’ is a programme developed in partnership with France 24 as part of the weekly show Talking Europe. Watch the full show on France 24 here.

    Several studies published in the UK have recently shed light on the role played by fake Twitter accounts created from Russia during the Brexit campaign…

    …First, the majority of those fake Twitter accounts were created after the Brexit referendum. Their role in shaping the outcome of this election is therefore still unproven.

    Second, the influence of Twitter and social media should not hide the influence exerted by the tabloid press, which has considerable authority in Britain and has campaigned against the European Union for many years…
    ####

    Commenter no.1 says it all:

    true says:
    21/12/2017 at 12:42

    Logic, please. “.. the majority of those fake Twitter accounts were created after the Brexit referendum. Their role in shaping the outcome of this election is therefore still unproven.” Unproven? If they were created AFTER Brexit, what more do you need to prove that they could NOT have influenced Brexit?

    And, for a journalist, quoting a sources that is known to be biased against Russia, to say “..mysterious donors based in Russia..” is an admission of incompetence. You don’t know who these donors are. You do not know whether they are Russian citizens (you could live in Russia and be a Brit, or you could activate the accounts in Russia from Washington). Even if you knew that they are Russian citizens you do not know whether they are connected to the Russian government. How can you conclude that this can justify shedding doubts on the legitimacy of the referendum? Come on, Euraktiv, this is shoddy journalism.

  36. et Al says:

    EUObserver.com: Interview
    Russia pipeline is investment risk, EU commissioner warns

    https://euobserver.com/energy/140404

    Investors should “think twice” about putting money into Nord Stream 2 due to “uncertainties” around the Russian pipeline, the EU energy commissioner told EUobserver.

    “I would really think twice, or many more times, simply because there are a lot of uncertainties,” Maros Sefcovic said in an interview.

    “It’s the decision of the project promoters if they want to proceed in this atmosphere … which might lead to legal disputes down the line,” he said…

    …”Nord Stream 2 is supported by five major western European energy companies that have each committed up to almost €1 billion to the implementation of the pipeline,” the consortium’s Sebastian Sass said.

    “It shows that there is both market demand and great confidence in … Nord Stream 2,” he added.

    Stefan Meister, an expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank in Berlin, also said Russia had little to worry about from the EU.

    “In Germany the overall impression is, that the project will come … Merkel is not against it. That means she supports it,” he said.

    Meister said the fact Gazprom was prepared to dig into its own pockets meant “the investment risks are limited”. He added that energy companies were used to working “in an even more risky environment” in other parts of the world.

    “Except the US sanctions, there are no real risks to stop the project,” he said…
    ####

    Plenty more of Sefcovic blowing hot air out of every orifice at the link. Did someone slip him some cocaine instead of sugar in his coffee before the interview? All mouth and no trousers.

  37. et Al says:

    EUObserver.com: EU defends new trade rules after Chinese criticism
    https://euobserver.com/eu-china/140392

    The EU on Thursday (21 December) defended a report on China’s market distortion practices saying new European rules against cheap imports did not target any one country.

    The EU had, on Wednesday, introduced trade defence rules designed to combat dumping. It also published its first report on state induced market distortions in China, partly to help EU producers who want to lodge complaints. …

    …”It is a proposal, which is not against any country, it is neutral, the idea is for trade defence instruments be fit for purpose, and fit to meet the challenges that exist globally,” a spokesman for the commission told reporters on Thursday.

    He added the next commission trade report will focus on Russia. …

    …The report is important because the EU has changed the way it handles anti-dumping cases. In cases of “significant market distortions”, it can impose anti-dumping tariffs.

    The new rules – which have been in the making for over a year – were approved last month….

    …That new status would have changed the criteria for determining what was a “fair price” for exports and would have made it harder for the EU to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods sold at low prices.

    But the new EU rules allow to impose anti-dumping duties no matter of the “market economy” label. …
    ####

    More at the link.

    I think this is a pretty good example about how ‘Rule of Law‘ EU changes the rules to suit itself when they consider the current set of rules (WTO) insufficient to their liking. They are general enough to be able to claim that they are not targeting China even though they are. Sure, China has been dumping solar and steel products in the EU, but I think the rancour is more that when China joined the WTO it was expected to play the Magician’s Apprentice and sit quietly in the corner and learn from the big boys, being helpfully corrected where necessary.

    The reality was that from day one of accession, China having done its homework thoroughly on the rules, charged in as if it had no time to waste. The EU has been trying to catch up since, stymied by its own rules – particularly the unanimity required to pass more restrictive measures, and here EU biggies like the UK & Germany have blocked bigger tariffs against clear dumping (solar/steel for example).

    The irony is of course that China is a very big investor in the EU which has got itself in to serious economic trouble. They want to take the cash, but then complain about it. Smacks too much of having their cake and eating to me. Unlike western imposed colonialism, this is entirely voluntary. In other news, Mexico has told the EU to F/O in recent trade talks and refused to roll over (the EU jealously protecting its own agricultural markets while demanding open access to Mexico’s) and the same with Mercusor too. The French and their ‘NON!’ are a significant part of this. The thing is, there are now other big boys in the playground and they are only going to get bigger. The same is true for Russia who will be targeted next and I suspect is a ploy to keep sanctions rolling in one form or another just in case the 6 month roll over fails to occur.

  38. Patient Observer says:

    A relatively snark-free article on a potential Russia plan for a 5-star motel in orbit:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/satellites/a14471796/luxury-hotel-iss/?src=nl&mag=pop&list=nl_pnl_news&date=122117

    But all these plans [space tourism] aren’t exactly a first-class experience. Even after paying millions, a few super-wealthy adventurers have to brave spartan accommodations in orbit alongside well-trained astronauts.

    But in a few years, space tourism agents might be offering five-star orbital adventures, courtesy of the Russian space agency. The amenities will include a luxury orbital suite parked at the International Space Station (ISS) offering private cabins with big windows, personal hygiene facilities, exercise equipment and even Wi-Fi. In addition gazing at our tiny blue orb from a dizzying altitude of 250 miles, space tourists will have an opportunity for space walks accompanied by a professional cosmonaut.

    The entire trip, lasting from one to two weeks will cost $40 million per person and going with the spacewalk option and an extended month-long stay will set the traveler back an additional $20 million.

    I would buy a lottery ticket for a chance at that opportunity. The Mrs likely would not go, however.

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    Another christmas present for Porky from Uncle Sam:

    Белый дом одобрил поставки противотанковых ракет Украине
    23 декабря 2017, 05:56

    The White House has approved delivery of anti-tank missiles to the Ukraine

    US President Donald Trump’s administration has endorsed a plan to provide the Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles.

    After complying with this formality, the supply plan will go to Congress, which is obliged to consider it and pass it for approval by the U.S. Department of State, reports “RIA Novosti” with reference to data of the Agency Associated Press.

    In the press has appeared information that we are talking about granting to Kiev 210 missiles and 35 launch complexes costing $47 million

    This is the second batch of weapons which will be focused on the Ukraine. Earlier, the media found out that Washington would send Kiev the large-calibre Barrett M107A1 sniper rifle , as well as ammunition and spare parts, their cost amounting to $41.5 million

    • marknesop says:

      Completely defensive in nature, of course, meaning they will never be used except in the case of an attack against Ukraine from the eastern regions or otherwise from without.

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    From the unbiased BBC:

    Goodbye Russia: A generation packs its bags

    Another glass of Russian Demographic Spiral, anyone?

    Focuses on “Russia’s leading environmental activist” Chirikova.

    I don’t think many regret her absence on her home patch of Khimki, where she stood for mayor and failed dismally to be elected.

    Interesting that Chirikova chose Estonia as her new “home”:

    Between 2006 and 2016, Romania, Lithuania, Greece, and Portugal all saw their median ages increase by more than four years. That rise can’t simply be accounted for by an overnight spike in life expectancy; this is clearly because people—especially young people—have been leaving in large numbers.

    “Median age rises can stem from two things: young people leaving [and] a low birth rate, which of course can be combined,” says Pernd Parusel, a migration expert at the European Migration Networks. “I know that some Central and Eastern European countries, such as the Baltic States, for example, have a significant out-migration, especially young people at the beginning of their careers. [My stress — ME]

    Source: Mapping Where Europe’s Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work
    FEARGUS O’SULLIVAN SEP 27, 2017

    I wonder what the BBC author of the linked above articles thinks of this:

    In 1991, before the fall of the Soviet Union, Latvia had 2.7 million people. Today, there are only 1.97 million. The situation will only continue to get worse — by 2060 there will be 1.4 million people in Latvia.

    “Young people are moving to more developed countries, while we remain with an aging population. The mortality rate is above the birth rate. We can say that we’re dying out,” demographer Parsella Aglita said, according to Nrg Maariv.

    The situation is similar in Lithuania. Out of 3.7 million people in 1991, there are now 2.9 million. The country is expected to lose another 40 percent of its population by 2060, according to EU forecasts.

    Source: Shattered EU Dreams: Baltic States to ‘Die Out’ Due to Massive Immigration [sic]

    (They don’t know the difference between “immigration” and “emigration” at “Sputnik”, it seems!)

    or this:

    Report: Estonia unable to maintain population size without immigration

    Estonian will not be able to maintain its population size without immigration, according to the fresh Human Development Report, which fund that if high rates of emigration continue and birth rates remain low, Estonia’s population could shrink to below 800,000 by the end of the 21st century.

    or this:

    Population of Russia (2017)

    or this:


    German emigration 2004-2013

    Germany is currently experiencing a boom in immigration. *Only the US attracts more people from all over the world. At the same time, the Germans are becoming increasingly mobile. Nearly four million German emigrants now live outside the Federal Republic. As a study by the German Council of Experts on Integration and Migration shows, the desire for a career and a better standard of living, in particular, draws people abroad. Often family reasons also play a role.

    *The USA has the highest total number of immigrants, being home to 19 per cent of the world’s immigrants. This is followed by Germany and Russia, with a combined share of 9.7 per cent of the world’s immigrants — source: Mapped: Which country has the most immigrants? [21 Jan 2016].

    The main thing, I suspect, that has led the BBC to publish this story about those “young and well-educated – who have packed their bags and left the country in recent years” is to focus attention on Chirikova’s emigration, that woman being, of course, an “outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin”.

    They are all fleeing the the tyranny of the Dark Lord?

    Well, clearly they must be!

    I wonder how many Russians, not least those who are residents of Khimki, give a flying fuck about Chirikova or about where she has chosen to live?

    I shall ask the BBC to send a correspondent there to find out.

    • marknesop says:

      It was about time for one of those ‘demographic death spiral’ pieces anyway; you want to keep the audience focused. And Putin just got through claiming a decrease in mortality and a corresponding increase in life expectancy in Russia – which must have made La Russophobe roll over in her grave – so that would need to be countered.

  41. Moscow Exile says:

    Social network reports murder of Navalny:

  42. Moscow Exile says:

    I have written about this before, I know, but I repeat: my attention was first brought to Gessen shortly after she had arrived in the Russian Federation in the 90’s. She had previously left the USSR for the USA as a 14-year-old with the the rest of her family.

    She returned to the “Old Country” to make some dough, and contributed to the Moscow Times.

    She wrote in MT how bloody awful the USSR was, especially to Jews, and that in Soviet passports one’s nationality was entered.

    Gessen, of course, was entered under nationality as Еврейка — “Jewess”. She said that this labelling of her as a Jew was indicative of Soviet anti-Semitism, notwithstanding the fact that if you were a Bashkir, Tatar, Buryat etc., namely one of the numerous peoples that had Soviet citizenship, your nationality was entered into your passport accordingly.

    Time passed. And then Boris the Drunkard’s government introduced a law by which nationality was no longer to be entered into a Russian Federation passport.

    Gessen thereupon whined about this in MT, saying that as a result of this new legislation, she felt as though she was losing part of her identity.

  43. Lyttenburgh says:

    And now for something completely different:

    There is sooooo many things wrong with this pic… but, strangely enough, for me it’s Putin’s hair color.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      It’s a colouring book for “adults”:

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Was that a punch bowl being filled that I saw at 0:51 in the clip?

        • Jen says:

          Yes that was a punch bowl – the colouring-in class was having refreshments as well. Colouring in pictures must be a lot of hard work!

          Seems rather sad that classes for adults to colour in black-and-white pictures in books they buy themselves are substituting for other art classes where people would be instructed in basic art concepts such as line, texture, shape and portraying mass and space, and learn basic human anatomy by doing sketches of models (clothed and nude) or drawing portraits.

          Having said that, I have nothing against colouring-in books for an adult audience: you’ve probably heard of “The Cunt Coloring Book” by Tee Corinne that was published in 1975 for sex education purposes and which is apparently still a good seller?

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, they go out of their way to portray Putin as aging and increasingly infirm.

    • J.T. says:

      As far as caricatures go, this Putin ain’t too shabby. Interestingly, the artist chose to emphasize forehead and lower facial structure instead of the usual nose and eyes/browline. The result is a face that is more “balanced” but not quite slipping into the uncanny valley. He doesn’t look particularly evil either, despite the whole “puppet master” thing. The most adorable of aggressors.
      Eh, I give it a 6/10.

    • Patient Observer says:

      10% of the profits donated…..

      I stopped reading there. Is that a joke? You’d better say 100% or nothing at all. Very poor PR.

      But, please do not knock adult coloring books. A good portion of our engineering team spends morning breaks doing such using colored pencils per an HR initiative. I was skeptical at first.

      The choice of pictures range from the abstract to nature scenes to machines of every sort. I may try it myself. We also have about fifty hand-drawn pictures from local schools posted throughout the facility. There is something nice about “real” artistic efforts versus the stuff interior designers often push.

  44. yalensis says:

    Don’t know if somebody already posted this — Vovan/Lexus prank call to Nikki Haley.
    If you don’t read Russian, that’s okay, just watch the video. Both parties speak in English, and there are English subtitles. The pranksters pretend to be the Polish Prime Minister, and discuss various foreign policy issues with Nikki.
    The highlight being that Russia is interfering in the elections of some made-up Asian country called Binomo. Nikki says she is very familiar with that situation.

    Oi, I think in her shoes, if I didn’t recognize the name of a country, I would just say, “No, I hadn’t heard of that.” What is it about Americans, that they always try to concel their ignorance?

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. correction – the subtitles are in Russian. Sometimes I get confused which language I am reading.
      Anyhow, the funniest part is at the end, when the pranksters tell Nikki the story of how Poroshenko was sexually harrassed by Kevin Spacey, and this is the incident that turned him into an alcoholic. They then describe how Donald Trump sexually harrassed a Polish female diplomat. Nikki never catches on, not even then. The Polish “victim” (who may or may not be a made-up person) now says that she regrets rejecting Trump in such a rude manner. Nikki: “Well, maybe that was what she needed to do!”

    • Patient Observer says:

      I was intending to listen to just a few minutes but that guy was a really good pranker. If there were any doubt that Haley was way in over her head, this removed it. Actually, her near total ignorance likely saved her from even more embarrassment.

      • marknesop says:

        What a bullshitter. I almost laughed out loud when she said the USA tries to stay out of politics in Ukraine. Sure it does, when you’re asking the USA to help change something which is of no interest to them whatsoever. She completely bit on Binomo, pretending like she knew all about it. In fact, that recording was tremendously significant because it highlighted how US government officials just fob you off with “We’re watching it very closely’ whether they know what you are talking about or are just pretending they do.

        • yalensis says:

          Here is Zakky’s take on the Haley remarks.
          She has a rather mild response to that portion of the prank where Nikki says Russia needs to know “its place” in the world.
          God forbid Russia should get too uppity and start manipulating elections in Binomo.

          Normally I don’t approve of practical jokes, but I think Vovan/Lexus are doing yeoman work here showing just how ignorant and yet also (pompous + self-righteous) are the American ruling class!

      • yalensis says:

        Patient Observer: I have followed several of their pranks. These two have a certain methodology, start off slow and reasonable, and then, towards the end, they start getting more and more outrageous, as they build up to that “You’ve been pranked!” moment.
        You can usually hear it in their verbal cues, the voice pitch goes higher and faster, they get more excited as they reach their denouement.

        Their marks usually start catching on by that point.
        The Haley prank is a bit different. As they start building up, with the “sexual harrassment” stuff, this is where she is supposed to catch on that she is being pranked. But she never does. And then they sort of back off at the end, they don’t stick the knife all the way in.

        I think they must have felt sorry for her and wouldn’t commit to fully gutting her at the end. They even sort of end on an “all good fellows” note.

        • Patient Observer says:

          I think you are right on all the points and they did indeed left her with a little dignity at the end. I suppose it would be like pranking a child. It looks funny to the adults but the realization sets in that the victim is essentially helpless and there is no sport or point to carry it on any further.

          I think her appointment was better than say a Madeline Albright. She is a pure evil/sociopaths while Haley is just an ambitious waitress who got lucky. She does not have the cunning to greatly facilitate the nasty schemes of her bosses. Her ineptitude should be welcomed and, indeed, cherished:)

  45. Moscow Exile says:

    Further to the Stockholm Gazprom / Naftogaz arbitration, the smoke seems to be clearing somewhat.

    In this morning’s Gazeta.ru:

    Россия — Украина: газовая ничья

    Russia – The Ukraine: a gas draw

    “Naftogaz” will not pay in full for its violation of the “take or pay” conditions and got a retrospective reduction of the contract price. However, in 2018-2019 it shall have to purchase from the Russian company 5 billion cubic metres of gas a year (at present, the volume of purchases is zero) and to pay Gazprom $2 billion.

    The Russian gas company had decided that “Naftogaz” had breached its payment obligations under the natural gas “take or pay” contract for 2009-2019.

    The agreement was signed in 2009 by Prime Ministers Yulia Tymoshenko and Vladimir Putin. Subsequently, Tymoshenko received a prison sentence because of this contract, but was released after President Viktor Yanukovych had fled the Ukraine in February 2014.

    The Russian and Ukrainian sides interpret the decision of the Stockholm arbitration in their favour.

    “Naftogaz” has reported that it won the arbitration against Gazprom “on all contentious issues”, that the arbitration had completely rejected Gazprom’s “take or pay” claims amounting to $56 billion being owed it over the period 2009-2017.

    “Naftogaz” has been able to reduce the contract value of gas received in the second quarter of 2014, from $485 to $352 per thousand cubic meters.

    Naftogaz estimates the total positive effect of the arbitration awards to be more than $75 billion for the entire term of the contract for the supply of gas.

    But that is not all that the Stockholm arbitration has decided. There is a second part of the verdict, which, according to the Russian side, speaks in favour of “Gazprom”.

    First, the court has obliged the Ukraine to buy in 2018-2019 from Gazprom up to 5 billion cubic metres of gas per year. “Naftogaz of Ukraine” presents this as an achievement: the company “has achieved a more than tenfold reduction of future required annual volume of gas purchases from Gazprom and in accordance with the actual need for imported gas”.

    But the fact is that this last year “Naftogaz” has not bought any gas from Russia. In a statement on the outcome of the procurement of gas for the 11 months of this year, it is especially emphasized that “the supply of imported gas to the Ukraine from the Russian Federation in 2016 and 2017 has not been carried out, all gas volumes having been received from the European direction”.

    Now “Naftogaz” shall have to buy gas in Russia or pay Gazprom for it under the “take or pay” terms, which will be valid until the end of the contract.

    The second problem for “Naftogaz”, about which it prefers not to speak, is the decision that it pay Gazprom its overdue debt for gas deliveries, which amount to $2,019 billion. And it is in the interests of “Naftogaz” to give the Russian company this money as soon as possible, as there shall be for each day of delay in this repayment of its debt a 0.03% interest charge.

    So Naftogaz has to pay back its debt of $2,019 billion to Gazprom, and there is a 0.03% interest charge on that unpaid debt that amounts to over $0.5 million a day — $605, 700 daily if my arithmetic is correct.

    Pobeda!

    Of course, whether they pay this debt is a moot point.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Oops!

      Wrong transliterated into the Latin alphabet language!

      Peremoga!

    • marknesop says:

      I see. The Stockholm court completely rejected Gazprom’s take-or-pay contract terms, and yet Tymoshenko was a prisoner of conscience who was jailed despite being innocent of any crime, although she signed this contract on behalf of her country after being specifically ordered, in an extraordinary cabinet meeting, to take no action on it. Makes perfect sense.

  46. J.T. says:

    Decided to disguise my “year in books” post as a Naughty and Nice list. Guess where Ted Bell’s book ended up!

  47. Patient Observer says:

    A replay to Ryan Ward regarding the discussion of WW II Yugoslavia. You state about my response:

    I’ve clearly rustled some jimmies here 😉

    Yeah, I’m funny that way about those who seek to minimize mass murder. You should see my jimmies when discussing Native Americans, Iraqi children, etc.:)

    Yes, you are scrapping a hole in the bottom of the barrel with your source (The Espresso Stalinist) but I found this statement particularity interesting:

    At first, the Western Allies had viewed the Chetniks as the core of the resistance movements in Yugoslavia against the invaders. But reports from British parachutists who had joined the fighting forces in Yugoslavia began to reach the West, indicating that the Chetniks’ policy was to fight the partisans under Tito, rather than the Germans and their allies. Consequently, the attitude of the western Allies underwent a change in the second half of 1942, and they switched their aid to the partisans who were fighting the Germany enemy.

    The above is indeed an important fact. The British, whom most who post here would agree, really had not objection (if not outright support) of the Nazis as long as the Nazis were seeking to destroy the SU (pretty much the same today, no?). Given the foregoing, why would the British seek to stop supporting Mihailovich if his forces were ineffective and Tito’s forces were? Your assertions are full of holes but here is one you could drive your ego through:

    http://www.gregoryafreeman.com/forgotten500.html

    American agents from the OSS, the precursor of the CIA, worked with a Serbian guerilla, General Draza Mihailovich, to carry out the huge, ultra-secret rescue mission.

    This mission, occurring in 1944 (hmmm), rescused over 500 allied airmen shot down over Yugoslavia. Wait, there’s more from another source:

    https://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/01/news/nation/oss-agent-who-led-wwii-rescue-of-500-dies-in-ny/?ref=comm-from

    The Serbian-American and Pittsburgh native was an officer of the OSS, the precursor of today’s CIA, when about 500 pilots and other airmen were downed over Serbia in the summer of 1944 while on bombing runs targeting Hitler’s oil fields in Romania, according to U.S. government field station files.

    The airmen were hidden in villages by Serbian guerrilla fighter Draza Mihailovich, leader of the Chetniks, whom Yugoslav communist officials considered to be Germany’s collaborators.

    “This mission would not have succeeded without the great courage of Draza Mihailovich and his brave men,” Vujnovich said at a 2010 ceremony in which he was formally awarded the U.S. Bronze Star Medal.

    It was no small feat to convince American officials to allow him to work with Mihailovich on the clandestine mission, dubbed Halyard, meaning a rope used to hoist sails. By then, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had decided to follow British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s lead, abandoning support for Mihailovich in favor of the Yugoslav communists, the strongest grass-roots guerrilla force fighting the invading Nazis and Italian fascists.

    “Vujnovich is the one who sold the mission to U.S. officials. He pushed hard,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Oluic, a former West Point professor who prepared the award submission for the Department of the Army.

    Yup, that is the way it went down.

    I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss this matter. Thank you for that.

    • Patient Observer says:

      The Halyard mission was the largest rescue mission behind enemy lines in military history per this link:

      The above video features many of the 500+ allied airmen. Major Richard Feldman, one of those rescued, made it his personal mission to win recognition for the Serbs, the Chetniks and in particular Mihailovich. Feldman (a Jew) simply wanted to show his gratitude to those who saved him and his men:

      You know as well as I do, I don’t have another
      fifty years to fight for a cause as American as the
      American flag, the Star Spangled Banner,
      and the Bill of Rights. Gratitude. American
      gratitude. That’s all we want, for 500 American
      lives.”

      – Major Richard L. Felman, U.S.A.F.
      May 31, 1994

      Mahailovich was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1948 by Harry S Truman:

      http://www.generalmihailovich.com/2006/07/mihailovich-legion-of-merit-medal.html

      The Legion of Merit in the degree of Chief Commander was bestowed upon the late General Dragoljub Draza Mihailovich of Yugoslavia by President Harry S. Truman in 1948, two years after General Mihailovich was executed by the Yugoslav communists. It was awarded to General Mihailovich posthumously in acknowledgment of and appreciation for “organizing and leading important resistance forces against the enemy which occupied Yugoslavia, from December 1941 to December 1944. Through the undaunted efforts of his troops, many United States airmen were rescued and returned safely to friendly control. General Mihailovich and his forces, although lacking adequate supplies, and fighting under extreme hardships, contributed materially to the Allied cause, and were instrumental in obtaining a final Allied victory.”

    • kirill says:

      Ah, how predictible. NATzO revisionists accuse the Chetniks of fighting Tito instead of Hitler while they parrot the outright BS of the Banderite Nazis that they were fighting both Hitler and Stalin during WWII. NATzO revisionists are brazen liars. There is no depth to their chutzpah.

      • Chatnik says:

        During WW II and after, Banderite Ukes and Ustasha Croats found common cause.

        The Chetniks and Partizans fought each other as well as the Nazis. Mihailovic was a pro-Serb Yugoslav opposed to Tito, much like how Vlasov opposed Stalin. Mihailovic and Vlasov attempted to link up with each other late in WW II.

        As is true with the Chetnik-Ustasha comparison, Vlasov’s army didn’t have the same murderous record as the OUN/UPA Banderites.

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