Friday, May 1, 2015

Iran Steps Up Covert Action in Latin America: “The penetration of Venezuela by Iran is clear. There is overwhelming information on this... Now they’re in the open, above board, advertising and letting the world know, ‘We’re right in your front and back yard...” | The Appalling Mr. Zarif | Austrian Court Denies U.S. Request to Extradite Dmytro Firtash

» Pentagon grapples with retaliation in sex assault cases
01/05/15 12:14 from AP Top Headlines At 7:05 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's not against the law or military regulations to choose not to sit with someone in the dining hall or to unfriend them on Facebook, but in the traumatic aftermath of a sexual assault, a victim could interpret those ...

» NATO General Sees Threat of Rebel Offensive in Ukraine
01/05/15 00:27 from World News
NATO’s military chief said Russian-backed forces appear to be preparing for a potential new offensive in eastern Ukraine, even as European leaders said the conflict there was entering a ‘political phase.’

» Berlin Accused of Spying for NSA
30/04/15 23:56 from World News
Accusations that Germany’s intelligence service helped the U.S. spy on European allies have ensnared Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in an espionage controversy.

» White House Says FBI Help on Ransom Not a Policy Violation
30/04/15 23:07 from World News
The White House said that it is not a violation of the government’s strict no-ransom policy for federal agents to facilitate ransom payments for hostages.

Austrian Court Denies U.S. Request to Extradite Dmytro Firtash

» Iran Steps Up Covert Action in Latin America
01/05/15 06:00 from Washington Free Beacon
MIAMI—The Iranian government is significantly boosting its presence and resources in Latin America, posing a national security threat to the region, according to a group of U.S. and Latin American officials who met earlier this week in F...

“The penetration of Venezuela by Iran is clear. There is overwhelming information on this.”

Iran currently hosts at least 80 so-called cultural centers in the region and has doubled the number of embassies in the region since 2005.
Ros-Lehtinen warned that this activity has become “more pronounced and open” in the past few years.

“Now they’re in the open, above board, advertising and letting the world know, ‘We’re right in your front and back yard,’” Ros-Lehtinen said.

» The Appalling Mr. Zarif
01/05/15 06:00 from Washington Free Beacon
Not since Baryshnikov has a foreigner so captivated a New York audience.  “ A Conversation with H.E. DR. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran ” played the other day at NYU. The show ran for just 90 minut...

Iran and Latin America - Google Search

Iran Steps Up Covert Action in Latin America

1 Share
President Hassan Rouhani  of Iran / AP
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran / AP
BY: Adam Kredo 
MIAMI—The Iranian government is significantly boosting its presence and resources in Latin America, posing a national security threat to the region, according to a group of U.S. and Latin American officials who met earlier this week in Florida to discuss Iran’s covert actions.
While Iran has long had a foothold in the Western hemisphere, these officials warned that the Islamic Republic has invested significant resources into its Latin American operations in a bid to increase its sway in the region.
Iran’s growing influence in the region—and its effort to exert influence over governments there—has fostered pressing security concerns as the Iranians inch closer to the United States’ southern border, according to these U.S. officials and Latin American leaders, who met for several days this week at a summit organized by the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF).
“It is troubling in some of the briefings we get, particularly on the classified side, to see Iranian influence in Latin America,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “A lot of these [Latin American officials] share the concern.”
“It’s a security risk for all of us,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis was one of several members of Congress and 20 Latin American lawmakers from 14 different countries who met during the IAF summit, which began on Sunday and ran until Tuesday morning.
Iran is becoming increasingly open about its presence in Latin America and providing its officials with passports from Venezuela and other countries, giving them free rein to travel throughout South America.
Iran has forged close ties with countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, among others.
Luis Heber, a member of the Uruguayan senate, said that Iranian agents—who some suspect are members of the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—have been spotted in his country holding Venezuelan passports.
Officials have determined that there is “a clear penetration of Iran in our country,” Heber said during remarks Sunday before U.S. lawmakers and other Latin American officials.
“We’ve also seen Venezuelan passports in the hands of Iranians,” he revealed. “The penetration of Venezuela by Iran is clear. There is overwhelming information on this.”
Heber said Uruguayan officials have spotted at least 10 Iranians carrying Venezuelan passports.
They “can enter anywhere in Latin America because the passports are legal,” he explained.
Iran’s goal, in part, is to establish deep ties in these countries in order to influence their policies toward America, Israel, and other Western allies, officials said.
“The threat level has increased, it’s more open,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), vice-chair of the House’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
“The Iranian threat comes not from espionage as much, but from influencing the ideology of their host country,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “That’s what they’re aiming for and penetrating [these countries] so they have a presence in Latin America right at the foothold of the U.S.”
Iran establishes consulates in these countries and then uses them as a base to conduct espionage and other covert activities, Ros-Lehtinen said.
“How is it they have Iranian consulates in Latin America?” she asked. “It’s ridiculous to think all of sudden Latin Americans want to travel to Iran. They’re not using it to issue their visas. Something is happening that Iran is penetrating the Western Hemisphere and it’s not for cultural exchanges or approval of travel docs.”
“This makes no sense … other than espionage, subterfuge, and illicit activities,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
This activity has intensified of late, several officials said.
“There’s no question we’re seeing an uptick in Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere,” Rep. Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.), a House Foreign Affairs Committee member, said during a meeting with the Latin American leaders in attendance.
“Unfortunately, the U.S. administration, our administration, seems to be willing to turn a blind eye towards what’s happening,” he said.
“There have been instances where Iranian agents have crossed the U.S. border,” Salmon claimed, referring to past reports by members of Hezbollah being arrested attempting to cross the Mexican border.
Iran currently hosts at least 80 so-called cultural centers in the region and has doubled the number of embassies in the region since 2005.
Ros-Lehtinen warned that this activity has become “more pronounced and open” in the past few years.
“Now they’re in the open, above board, advertising and letting the world know, ‘We’re right in your front and back yard,’” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Read the whole story

· · · · ·

В НАТО недовольны темпами реформ украинской армии

1 Share
По словам спецпредставителя генсека НАТО, советы и поддержка альянса были бы эффективнее, если бы в армии была бы большая настроенность на реформы
НАТО считает скорость реформ в украинских Вооруженных силах и Министерстве обороны недостаточным. Об этом заявил специальный представитель генерального секретаря Североатлантического альянса Джеймс Аппатурай в интервью украинской редакции 
Радио Свобода

"Украине нужно провести огромную работу. Вооруженные силы Украины требуют глубинных изменений. Мы готовы помочь ей в этом. Для этой цели предназначены трастовые фонды. Некоторые страны НАТО помогают Украине на двустороннем уровне. Украинской стороне нужно провести больше реформ, и это необходимо осуществлять быстрее. Советы и поддержка, которую мы даем, были бы значительно эффективнее, если бы в Министерстве обороны и армии была бы большая настроенность на реформы... В достаточной мере ее не наблюдается. Я скажу это прямо", - сказал Аппатурай.

По его словам, президент, премьер-министр и министры в Украине стремятся к реформам и демонстрируют соответствующую политическую волю. "На низшем уровне украинские структуры реформируются очень медленно. И это не проблема отдельных людей. Система в целом является очень медленной. Я бы не сказал, что нет желания реформ, но их скорость очень медленная. Мы призываем украинские Минобороны, МИД, МВД провести болезненные, но такие необходимые изменения", - заявил представитель Альянса.

На саммите Украина-ЕС, который на днях состоялся в Киеве, представители Евросоюза Дональд Туск и Жан-Клод Юнкер призвали Украину оперативно проводить реформы, а не просто рассчитывать на помощь Запада. 
Подписывайтесь на аккаунт ЛІГАБізнесІнформ в Twitter и Facebook: в одной ленте - все, что стоит знать о политике, экономике, бизнесе и финансах.

Putin Thrives on Russian Passivity

1 Share
How will the Russian middle class react to the effects of low oil prices, Western sanctions and deep-set economic problems, a state of affairs that some economists have dubbed the “triple whammy”?
Unfortunately, these problems are only part of the broader systemic crisis that plagues Russia today. Yet there is little reason to believe that the Russian middle class will react to the ongoing financial and economic crisis with protests or renewed calls for change.
Instead, it seems almost certain that this dynamic segment of society will opt for strategies of survival and perseverance rather than articulating a political agenda that challenges the Russian government or its current policies.
The nature and consequences of Russia’s current crisis cannot be reduced to economic issues. Sberbank President German Gref argued in his January 14, 2015 speech at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow that it is important not to overlook the impact of critical governance shortcomings.
But instability or gaps in the quality of the state’s administrative capabilities—however important—are not a root cause. Rather, they are one of the effects of a deeper institutional and values-based crisis. All other aspects of the crisis, including the current political situation, merely stem from it. And there should be no question that Russia is indeed in a political crisis, despite outward manifestations of calmness and the consolidation of society and elites around the head of state.
Unfortunately, the triple whammy is not unleashing the forces of “creative destruction” or disruption that some reformist voices had been pinning their hopes on.
In many cases, crises enable states to reform political life and move forward. In this sense, the 2008–2009 financial crisis was a lost opportunity for Russia. The crisis did not change behavior among state capitalism’s elites, nor did it spur structural reform. Rather, the struggling economy was simply flooded with money from the state’s reserve funds. The state’s playbook conformed with former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s old axiom: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Russia’s economic problems are certainly significant.
Economic analysts generally agree that Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) will decline by at least 3-7 percent in 2015, while annual inflation will soar. Inflation is forecast by the central bank to peak at 17.0-17.5 percent in the second quarter of 2015.
Headline inflation was 15 percent in January 2015 (from January 2014 to January 2015), and increasing at a rate of 3.9 percent a month—the highest rate since February 1999. The disaggregated components of the inflation numbers also tell a powerful story.
‘Inflation and a weak ruble have made Russia unattractive even to migrants; there was a 70 percent decrease in those arriving at the start of 2015.’
Prices for medicine and medical equipment grew 6.6 percent in January (19.4 percent year-on-year). Food prices, excluding fruit and vegetables, were up 3.7 percent in January (18.4 percent year-on-year). Fruit and vegetable prices increased by 22.1 percent in January (40.7 percent year-on-year).
Assessments of the effect of sanctions on overall GDP vary. Experts from FBK Grant Thornton, a business consultancy, suggest that the sanctions will shave off 1.2 percent of Russian GDP by mid-2015.(1) The effect of the sharp decline in oil prices on GDP is even greater. Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy experts Sergey Drobyshevsky and Andrey Polbin estimate that a decrease in oil prices to $40 per barrel would translate into a 3.7 percent decline in GDP in constant prices.
Structural problems—for example, state intervention on behalf of favored industries and companies and the blocking of pension reform—are in part linked to the Russian economy’s dependence on oil and gas. They are also tied to the lack of reform in the sectors of the economy (such as health care and education) that are human-capital-intensive as well as the lack of resources allocated to these sectors due to inadequate government financing.
As the labor force has shrunk, economists have begun to notice a decline in the skill level of Russian workers. The rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Vladimir Mau, has pointed out that “the unemployment rate in Russia is rather low due to the effects of demographic factors. However, a conflict is brewing: On the one hand, the army of retirees is on the rise; on the other, there are young people who are unwilling to fill the jobs being vacated.”(2)
Тhe low-skilled segment of the labor market is also changing. Inflation and a weak ruble have made Russia unattractive even to migrants—the most unpretentious part of the workforce; there was a 70 percent decrease in the number of migrants arriving in Russia in the beginning of 2015.
Another factor contributing to the current situation is the large percentage of workers who are employed in the shadow economy, which, according to official statistics, accounts for 12.5 percent of GDP. According to Rosstat data, in 2011, 22 million Russians—almost a third of the 71-million-person workforce—were employed in informal sectors of the economy. (This sector comprises, for example, many entrepreneurs and their employees, those providing paid services off the books, and agricultural workers.)(3)
The number is expected to increase as a result of the ongoing decline in real incomes, worsening labor market conditions, employee realignment and reductions at various large-scale enterprises and other crisis-related factors. Workers in the informal economy pay no taxes and therefore will not be able to contribute to the Pension Fund. According to data from the Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, 20 percent of the able-bodied population is missing from the Pension Funddatabases.(4)
‘Attempts by the government to mount economic policy changes could be blown to bits if troops were to move on the city of Mariupol.’
While oil price volatility is certainly not a by-product of current Russian economic policy, the other two components of the triple whammy—sanctions and structural problems—have a lot to do with decisions made by the government. Moreover, they are directly related to the nature and content of domestic and foreign policy decisionmaking.
In a nutshell, such decisions are increasingly the province of an extremely close-knit and ever-shrinking circle of decisionmakers around Russian President Vladimir Putin, known as “Putin’s friends,” a description that has become increasingly literal.
It is telling that Russia’s economic downturn worsened after the annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014. Macroeconomic indicators looked dreadful by the end of the year. The ruble was the world’s worst-performing currency against the dollar.(5)
Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin has suggested that the drop in oil prices only accounts for 25 percent of the ruble’s recent depreciation. Kudrin claims that sanctions account for 25 to 40 percent of the currency’s slide, with the dollar’s overall surge contributing an additional 5 to 10 percent. Kudrin also highlights the negative effects of “risks, expectations, and fears,” including investors’ lack of confidence in the government’s efforts to improve the investment climate and support economic growth.(6)
Economic policy-making is increasingly held hostage by a new and unexpected set of factors. For example, any attempts by the government to mount superhuman policy changes in the economic sphere or complex diplomatic maneuvers could be blown to bits if Donetsk People’s Republic leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko were to order his troops to move on the city of Mariupol.
Russia’s investment climate, financial stability and economic development depend more on the actions of separatist leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk, the chief prosecutor and the Investigative Committee than the central bank’s official monetary and interest rate policies or deputy prime ministers’ declarations at the Davos World Economic Forum.
Amid growing isolationism, nationalism and anti-Western sentiments, the “Zakharchenko Factor” may not be the sole determinant of current developments, but it plays a very important role.
‘Putin-era oligarchs are not constrained by political institutions that would ordinarily help relay public opinion to the government.’
Meanwhile, Russians remain quite passive about their economic situation, even as the consequences of the triple whammy gradually emerge.
Both Hegel and Marx wrote about alienation (Entfremdung)—specifically, the mutual alienation of the people and their government. On a conceptual level, governments seek to exploit the benefits from GDP, economic rents and tax revenues for the sake of self-preservation. This goal in turn leads to unproductive government expenditures on defense, law enforcement and operations that significantly exceed productive government expenditures in other areas, say, education and health care.
In Russia, the clique of Putin-era oligarchs is not constrained by political institutions that would ordinarily help relay public opinion to the government. Of course, the Russian political system has never fully subscribed to the principle of “no taxation without representation.” However, under Russia’s particular brand of state capitalism and heavy dependence on oil and gas profits, closed channels of political representation have practically obliterated it.
The president’s inner circle views economic rent as its personal revenue stream or private property, as evidenced by state-owned oil company Rosneft’s request for substantial subsidies from the National Wealth Fund, which was created in order to accumulate oil-based revenues to compensate for a projected state-backed Pension Fund deficit.
This is quite logical for a system in which having power is synonymous with owning property; this so-called power-property relationship is also sanctified by the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church. The church is increasingly playing a role geared toward maximizing the effect of pro-government propaganda and ensuring greater conformity inside Russian society with its socially conservative goals and values. (The persecution of the band Pussy Riot is only the most well-known example of these efforts.)
However, such an arrangement contradicts the Russian constitution, which states that “land and other natural resources shall be utilized and protected in the Russian Federation as the basis of the life and activity of the peoples living on the territories concerned.” Those resources were not intended to be the basis of life and activity for a handful of beneficiaries of state capitalism and their families.
Еconomic rent is alienated from the people, and so is the government. People believe that they have no way to advocate meaningful change in their country and thus allow the establishment to make decisions on its own. The classic Putin-era social contract (“freedom in exchange for sausage”) that emerged during the period of high oil prices gave way in 2014 to “freedom in exchange for Crimea and national pride.”
The government is also alienated by virtue of the fact that elections now distort the principles of representation more than ever before. This fact triggered the street protests in 2011–2012, when some in the middle class demanded democracy and fair elections. These demands were perfectly in line with Seymour Lipset’s theory that higher living standards, education and income are the foundations for a realization by increasingly affluent members of society of the need for greater democracy.(7)
‘Sixty percent of the population agree with the statement that they are unable to affect the situation in the country.’
RTR4TWC4A vendor (L) takes a Russian rouble banknote from a customer buying a handmade woolen rug in the Krasnoyarsk region, Siberia, March 17, 2015. The Crimea annexation and the collapsing economy have left Russians resigned to their fate, the author argues. Ilya Naymushin/Reuters
In 2011, Russia’s urban middle class offered some support for Lipset’s hypothesis by advancing their demands for democracy. Yet in 2014, after failing to achieve their original goal, they set aside such political interests in favor of the “Crimea is ours” (Krym nash) concept. In essence, they agreed that the concoction of hybrid and trade wars was better for the motherland than its presence, to put it pompously, in the family of European nations.
The year 2014 marked the degradation and militarization of state policies and mass consciousness. These policies were a striking contrast to the recent behavior of modern democratic societies, which consider military losses unacceptable and regard appeals to an entity’s sacred status as a relic of bygone theocratic eras.(8)
Along with the post-Crimean consolidation of Russian society, sociologists have found that Russians stayed true to a core belief: “We cannot have an impact on anything so therefore we do not want to impact anything.” According to a Levada Center poll, about 60 percent of the population agree with the statement that they are unable to affect the situation in the country. Close to 50 percent believe that they can do nothing to influence events in their own city or town.(9)
Such views give rise to paternalistic attitudes like “let the state decide everything for me.” These attitudes correlate with the relatively insignificant contribution that taxpayers make to federal and local budgets compared with the budget revenues derived from sales of oil and gas.
Kudrin has described the public’s alienation from the decisionmaking process in the following terms. “In the 2000s, the country’s prosperity grew largely due to the revenue from natural resources,” he wrote. “But the people were not the ones benefiting from it. In terms of GDP, out of 37 percent of all collected taxes and other payments, rents constituted more than a third, while individual income tax accounted for only about 3 percent.... Officials easily and freely redistributed easy money—as a result, no feedback mechanisms were created.”(10)
While the Russian citizen is alienated from the rent revenues, he knows that his livelihood depends on them. He is willing to accept them from the state, but at the same time he develops an inferiority complex about his material wealth, knowing that he did not exactly earn the money.
This belief allows pro-redistribution coalitions—which divide rent among those close to the authorities’ clans as well as lobbyists and pressure groups—to claim their “right” to “their” share in the redistribution of public funds. This stance seems extremely provocative in the midst of the economic crisis, but clearly indicates who holds the keys to the house of Russian politics.
For example, Nikolai Podguzov, the deputy minister for economic development, recently announced that “Rosneft requests a total of 1.3 trillion rubles from the National Wealth Fund (NWF) for 28 projects.... Rosneft proposes that the NWF finance projects worth over 3 trillion rubles.”(11) Not surprisingly, such a state of affairs angers the members of other pro-redistribution coalitions.
‘Crimea was not a collective effort by any stretch—the Russian public stormed the peninsula while sitting in front of their televisions.’
Out of this emerges a level of passivity among the public and acceptance of the consequences of the triple whammy as they gradually materialize. It appears that there never was and never will be a taxpayer democracy in the current rentier system—after all, individual contributions to the national well-being are quite small when contrasted with what is received from hydrocarbon-based rents.
The public’s impact on government decisions, their own political participation and their involvement in civic life are just as insignificant. The process of spending taxpayer money does not concern the taxpayers themselves.
But when the oil-oozing, ostensibly collective pie is complemented by the mantra “Crimea is ours,” it destroys both consensus-based and participatory democracy, along with any sense of civic duty or collective effort. Crimea was not a collective effort by any stretch—the Russian public stormed the peninsula while sitting in front of their televisions. Rather, Crimea was a gift from the government.
In their heart of hearts, Russians do not consider themselves creators of national wealth. That further discourages most forms of political participation, which should ideally be directed at achieving a more rational, honest and equitable distribution of the goods and services produced by the economy.
This reality explains the public’s willingness to tolerate just about everything and its unwillingness to protest. It also explains the lack of incentive for private initiative, for private investment, for innovation and for the protection of private property. For their part, state investments further discourage private economic activity and fail to spur economic growth.
Generally speaking, state-generated investment produces a pool of money that either provokes inflation or encourages capital flight to countries with more attractive investment climates. The Russian economy needs state investment as much as Soviet-era enterprises needed foreign machinery, most of which was never unpacked and rusted away in leaky warehouses.
The triple whammy is a blow to all income levels of Russian society, but it especially affects lower- and middle-income groups who are more sensitive to price increases. The general level of inflation that took off in early 2015 severely impacted the middle class, the major consumer of various services and durable goods.
Real disposable incomes fell 7.3 percent in December 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. According to a January 2015 Public Opinion Foundation poll, 62 percent of the population describes the situation as an economic crisis and sees “dreadful inflation” as the main manifestation of the crisis.(12)
Research on the middle class by the director of the Independent Institute for Social Policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Tatyana Maleva, suggests that the social structure of Russian households has not undergone significant change in recent years. According to Maleva, about 70 percent of the population are below the middle class. Approximately 40 percent of households belonging to that group are at risk of poverty, while 30 percent could potentially join the middle and upper-middle class.
‘The regime’s goal is to preserve the class pyramid, which has enabled crony capitalism to reproduce itself.’
The size of the middle class can be measured in a number of ways based on different criteria. A rough estimate of the size of the middle class puts the number at around 20 percent of the population.(13) While some other studies have come up with different numbers, an approach based on analysis of 2012 Eurobarometer data supports Tatyana Maleva’s conclusions.(14)
In a political sense, the group at risk of poverty makes up the regime’s social and electoral base. Not coincidentally, they are also the main recipients of public funds. Even amid the constraints imposed by the triple whammy, the government will therefore strive to ensure that this group does not end up below the poverty line.
Humanitarian considerations play a fairly minor role in these efforts, which are based on cold political calculations and the regime’s desire to discourage the creation of social tensions. Social mobility from the middle to the upper-middle class, which has been long stifled by the highly monopolistic economy controlled by a small number of political-business elites, may cease altogether as a result of the current crisis.
Thus, the regime’s social goal is to preserve the class pyramid, which emerged during the oil boom and economic recovery of the 2000s and has enabled the system of power-property and crony capitalism to reproduce itself. Evaporating material gains are being replaced with spiritual appeals, which will involve using cruder and more archaic propaganda, including indoctrination by the top brass of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the increasingly selective application of repressive laws.
This is only a slight correction of the regime’s principal course of action, which Higher School of Economics professor Simon Kordonsky describes as “the suzerain takes care of his people—the amalgamation of estates—by distributing resources in a way that ensures that the privileged estates don’t get too brazen and the underprivileged ones don’t die from hunger.”
Notably, this theory views modern Russian society as estate-based rather than class-based. And, as Kordonsky explains: “The distribution of resources is at the core of estate-based society, in contrast to class society, whose economy is mainly based on converting resources into capital and their broader reproduction.”(15) In essence, this is status commercialization.
Status can be acquired by assuming high office (hence all the talk of regime figures buying top positions, seats in parliament and so on). It can also be bestowed by the suzerain (look at the members of the Kremlin’s inner circle, who share similar security and intelligence backgrounds with Putin), and it can be inherited.
Children of high-ranking officials and state capitalists from the redistributional coalitions take charge of high offices and even receive government decorations. Naturally, concludes Kordonsky, “Such a system does not need democracy as an institution for reconciling interests, nor does it focus on the needs of individuals who fall outside of the estate system.”(16)
Privatization in the 1990s was a way to utilize (and increase) resources within the market framework. The “re-privatization” of the 2000s in favor of state capitalism and figures from the president’s inner circle was a way to escape the market framework and return to a system based on estates.
Instead of encouraging middle-class growth, this type of estate structure actually slows it down. Quite often, one can only join the middle class—at least in terms of income levels—by working in a system dominated by the most privileged estates, for example, state-run corporations and companies that live off of government contracts or tenders.
How will the Russian middle class respond to the triple whammy? How will its political behavior and socioeconomic well-being be affected?
Some researchers point out that the middle class has been “the main actor of socioeconomic adaptation” in recent years.(17) At the same time, it is still not large enough, strong enough, or confident enough in its future well-being to clearly formulate a political outlook or to insist on proper representation in government bodies and decisions. Other economists also talk about its “low bargaining power.”(18)
This bargaining power decreased even more after the failure of the 2011–2012 protests. After Dmitry Medvedev left the president’s office, both society and the loyal, liberal political elite lost incentives to construct political, lobbying and civic coalitions in favor of modernization. Thus, modernization coalitions were replaced with redistributional, estate-based ones.
‘The middle class does not express passionate or unequivocal support for the government; it is simply not ready to struggle for change.’
The big question is whether the middle class, which is quite adaptable, even wants such coalition-based bargaining power. In reality, its political behavior and positions are far removed from the romantic image that took shape in Moscow’s streets and squares and in the independent media during the democratic illusions of late 2011 and the first half of 2012.
In a 2014 book, Francis Fukuyama argues that the middle class has been the engine behind practically every recent protest in various countries across the world.(19) What’s more, even a fairly elected but ineffective or corrupt government does not enjoy sufficient legitimacy in the eyes of the most advanced segments of the population. As Fukuyama writes, “Government actually had to deliver better results if it was to be regarded as legitimate, and needed to be more flexible and responsive to changing public demands.”(20)
That was exactly the chief motivation behind the 2011–2012 protests. Russians were dissatisfied with the government, and its legitimacy was diminishing as a result of dishonesty and ineffectiveness.
But the political protests that grew out of the public’s stance against the regime’s corruption were mostly limited to Moscow and involved only a very small part of the educated, urban middle class (although some upper- and lower-income segments of the population joined at times). This social stratum was immediately named the “creative class,” which, in turn, led to the shorter and more derisive word, “creatives.”
While this concept does have something in common with the term coined by Richard Florida, the Russian meaning of the term does not actually cover people who are engaged in creative work. It refers instead to a small segment of Russian citizens who are dissatisfied with the regime and its authoritarian rule, predominantly for political and ethical reasons. In their beliefs and goals, creatives today somewhat resemble the democratic intelligentsia of the late 1980s.
Nor is the creative class always synonymous with the middle class, especially in terms of income levels (although its behavior does correspond to that of the middle class). In addition, its opposition activities sharply contrast with the conformism exhibited by the majority of the middle class.
Contrary to expectations, this conformism will only grow or remain unchanged as a result of the triple whammy. Despite some sporadic protests, the majority will more readily embrace the strategies and tactics of survival instead of protests and demands for change, at least in 2015.
Consider the 2012 Eurobarometer survey of the middle class.(21) According to the data, against the backdrop of blatantly dishonest elections that provoked protests in 2011, the middle class actually voted for United Russia—the pro-regime party. And at higher strata of Russian society, the level of support for the regime actually increased. The motivations underlying voting behavior varied: Some voters had benefited handsomely during the economic boom of the early 2000s while others became complacent with their lot. Either way, conformism became the overarching trend.
The middle class was only slightly more active in terms of participation in opposition rallies (2.3 percent versus 1.9 percent at lower-income levels). The upper-middle class seemed to be the most active (11.7 percent), but this stratum was also quite active when it came to attendance at pro-government rallies (6.7 percent versus 1.0 percent of the middle class).
The lack of participation by the middle class—either in opposition to or in support of the government—suggests that its conformism is inherently passive. It does not express passionate or unequivocal support for the government; rather, the middle class is simply not ready to struggle for change. (It seems that active support for the regime manifested itself only after the referendum in Crimea and did not diminish much, if at all, as the Ukraine crisis worsened.)
According to the Eurobarometer survey, the middle class was evenly split in its assessment of the political situation (43 and 44 percent were satisfied or dissatisfied with it, respectively). In fact, the majority of respondents wanted no change to the political situation, while 12 percent preferred radical change.
The middle class’s relationship to the European Union (E.U.) is further proof of its conformism: 18.2 percent of the middle class and 27.8 percent of the upper-middle class wanted Russia to distance itself from the E.U. as much as possible.
It is quite indicative of the mood in the country that the lower-middle class was the biggest supporter of E.U. integration, at 23.4 percent. These numbers have changed in the direction of greater “patriotism” for the time being. A January 2015 Levada Center poll, for example, demonstrated an increase in negative attitudes toward the United States and E.U. countries to 81 and 71 percent, respectively.
In his 1997 work “Anomalies of Economic Growth,” Yegor Gaidar, the architect of Russian reform, noted that two main social groups are interested in liberal market reforms in Russia: “The middle class, which needs a level playing field, effective protection of private property and a government that is not cumbersomely involved in economic affairs; and the intelligentsia—those who are connected to the science, education, healthcare, culture and other such sectors—to whom the redistribution of resources objectively reflects the economic needs of the country.” Russia’s developmental perspectives depend on the combined resources of these two groups.
In the nearly two decades since Gaidar began his work, by and large, very little social change has come to Russia: Those in the middle class are considered the agents of change. The creative class can be considered the new intelligentsia.
Nevertheless, the coalition for modernization that began to emerge under Dmitry Medvedev was never realized. The signal from above that permitted the very existence of such a coalition was unceremoniously cut off, while the politician who had the best chance to launch perestroika 2.0 surrendered power based on his own free will.
The Russian model of change can only work if the demand for modernization expressed from below is noticed and clearly approved from above. In such a case, the notorious middle-class conformism toward official government policy could yet play a constructive role.
If the higher-ups allow democracy, this brand of conformism implies that citizens will recognize that it must be supported and taken advantage of. As for the creative potential of the Russian middle class, it may very well serve as the engine of economic liberalization and political democratization, if it receives a level of representation in the government.
However, the creative forces among the agents of change can lie dormant for extremely long periods of time. After all, modernization coalitions in Venezuela and Iran have never really gained momentum, and those countries have experienced their own analogues to the triple whammy. So far, these forces have not yet fully shaken the Russian middle class.
We are now anxiously waiting for the agents of modernization, who have turned into the agents of mobilization, to finally come to their senses. But we probably will need to wait quite a bit longer. Give it a year or two.
Andrei Kolesnikov is a senior associate and the chairman of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center.  This article first appeared on the Carnegie Moscow site.


1 “Санкции стоят России 1,2% ВВП – исследование компании ФБК,” [The price of sanctions to Russia—1.2% of GDP: The research of the FBK company] FBK Grant Thornton, January 12, 2015.
2 “Первое заседание Дискуссионного клуба «Академия»: экономические вызовы и риски–2015,” [The discussion club “Academy” first meeting: The economic challenges and risks in 2015] Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, December 19, 2014.
3 Maxim Tovkaylo, “Голодец: 38 млн россиян заняты ‘непонятно где и чем,’” [Golodets: It’s incomprehensible what 38 million of Russians are doing and where] Vedomosti, April 3, 2013.
4 Lyudmila Klimenteva, “Топилин: Около 20% населения может остаться без страховой пенсии,” [Topilin: Approximately 20% of the population can remain without noncontributory pension]Vedomosti, January 26, 2015.
5 Henry Meyer and Irina Reznik, “The Chilly Fallout Between Putin and His Oligarch Pals,”Bloomberg, January 22, 2015.
6 Gaidar Institute, 2014.
7 A number of researchers have found empirical evidence for this controversial modernization hypothesis put forward by Seymour Lipset. For instance, Robert J. Barro, Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997).
8 Michael Howard, The Invention of Peace (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 99.
9 Denis Volkov and Stepan Goncharov, Потенциал гражданского участия в решении социальных проблем [The potential of the civic participation in solving social problems] (Moscow: Levada Center, 2014).
10 Alexei Kudrin, “Экономика и политика в поисках баланса” [Economy and politics in search of a balance] Общая тетрадь, no. 2-3 (Moscow: Moscow School of Civic Education, 2014).
11 Margarita Lyutova, “‘Роснефть’ попросила из ФНБ 1,3 трлн рублей на 28 проектов” [Rosneft asked for 1.3 billion rubles from the National Wealth Fund] Vedomosti, January 28, 2015.
12 “Россияне о проявлениях экономического кризиса” [Russians about manifestations of the economic crisis] Public Opinion Foundation, January 21, 2015.
13 Tatyana Maleva and Lilia Ovcharova, Российские средние классы накануне и на пике экономического роста [Russian middle classes on the eve and at the peak of economic growth] (Moscow, 2008), 73.
14 Svetlana Misikhina, Социально-экономические характеристики и ценностно-политические ориентиры среднего класса в Российской Федерации [Socioeconomic characteristics and value-political choices of the middle class in the Russian Federation] preprint edition (Moscow: Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, 2014).
15 Simon Kordonsky, Сословная структура постсоветской России [The estate structure of the post-Soviet Russia] (Moscow: Public Opinion Foundation, 2008), 28.
16 Ibid., 34.
17 Tatyana Maleva et al., Долгосрочная концепция социальной политики Российской Федерации до 2050 [The long-term concept of social policy of the Russian Federation until 2050] preprint edition (Moscow: Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, 2014), 43.
18 Alexander Auzan et al., Средний класс и модернизация: гипотезы о формировании экономических и социально-политических институтов в России [The middle class and modernization: Hypotheses on the formation of economic and sociopolitical institutions in Russia] (Moscow: 2009), 264.
19 Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014), 6.
20 Ibid.
21 The data are cited from Svetlana Misikhina, Социально-экономические характеристики [Socioeconomic characteristics].
Read the whole story

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Фарид Закария: путинизм становится модным трендом

1 Share
fzakaria-1The Insider публикует перевод колонки знаменитого эксперта по международным отношениям Фарида Закарии, опубликованной в The Washington Post
С окончанием холодной войны Венгрия заняла особое место в истории революций 1989 года. Она стала первой страной в советской сфере влияния, которая отказалась от коммунизма и вступила на путь либеральной демократии. Сегодня она снова диктует моду, становясь первым европейским государством, которое порывает с либеральной демократией и дистанцируется от нее. Она перенимает новую систему и набор ценностей, наилучшим примером которых служит Россия при Владимире Путине, хотя есть отголоски и в других странах
В своем выступлении в минувшие выходные премьер-министр Венгрии Виктор Орбан пояснил, что его страна полна решимости построить новую политическую модель — «нелиберальной демократии». Это заявление обратило мое внимание, потому что в 1997 году я написал эссе по проблемам международных отношений, используя ту же фразу для описания опасной тенденции. Демократические правительства, зачастую популярные, используют свой мандат для ослабления личных прав, разделения властей и верховенства закона. Но я даже не мог себе представить, что государственный лидер, да притом европейский, будет использовать этот термин как почетный знак отличия.
«Наиболее популярной темой для дискуссии сегодня стало то, как системы, которые не относятся ни к Западным, ни к либеральным, ни к либеральным демократиям и, возможно, даже вовсе не к демократиям, могут, тем не менее, сделать свои народы преуспевающими», — заявил Орбан. По его мнению, мир  принципиально изменился в 2008 году в момент, как он это называет «великого Западного финансового краха.» С тех пор, утверждает он, американская власть была в состоянии упадка и либеральные ценности сегодня воплощают «коррупцию, секс и насилие.» Западная Европа стала территорией «нахлебников системы социального обеспечения». К нелиберальным образцам для подражания в будущем, с его точки зрения, относятся Россия, Турция, Китай, Сингапур и Индия.
Оставляя в стороне его странный список (Индия?), следует отметить, что судя по деятельности Орбана в последние годы, его собственным образцом для подражания была Россия при Путине. Орбан ввел и использует в Венгрии разновидность системы, для которой лучше всего подходит определение «путинизм». Чтобы понять это, мы должны вернуться к ее основателю. Когда Орбан пришел к власти в 2000 году (Орбан занимал пост премьер-министра Венгрии с 1998 по 2002 год и с 2010 года по наст. вр. — The Insider), Путин казался жестким, умным, компетентным менеджером, полным решимости обеспечить стабильность в России, страдавшей от хаоса во внутренней политике, а в экономике — от стагнации и дефолта 1998 года. Путин пытался интегрировать Россию во внешний мир и хотел построить хорошие отношения с Западом, говоря с Вашингтоном о возможности членства России во Всемирной торговой организации и даже в НАТО. Его администрация была представлена технократами, которые по взглядам были западные либералами и хорошо разбирались в рыночной экономике и свободной торговле.
Через некоторое, однако,  Путин  удалось установить порядок, в условиях эконмического бума из-за выросших в четыре раза цен на нефть. Он начал создавать репрессивную систему политического, экономического и социального контроля, чтобы сохранить свою власть. Столкнувшись с оппозицией, особенно во время парламентских выборов 2011 года, Путин осознал, что для победы над противником ему требуется нечто большее, чем просто грубая сила. Ему была нужна идеология, оправдывающая его власть, и он стал ее транслировать в своих речах и новых законах,  а также, используя свое служебное положение, стал выражать приверженность определенному набору ценностей.
Ключевые элементы путинизма — это национализм, религия, социальный консерватизм, государственный капитализм и доминирование государства над средствами массовой информации. Все они, так или иначе, расходятся  и даже вступают в противоречие с такими западными ценностями как личные права, толерантность, космополитизм и интернационализм. Было бы ошибкой думать, что идеология Путина — это источник его популярности. Он был популярен и прежде, но эта идеология способствует поддержанию его популярности.
Виктор Орбан и Владимир Путин
Виктор Орбан и Владимир Путин
Орбан пошел по стопам Путина, уничтожив независимость судебной системы, ограничив права личности, выступая в националистическом тоне по поводу  этнических венгров и обуздав прессу. Методы контроля часто являются более сложными, чем традиционная цензура. Венгрия недавно объявила 40-процентный налог на доходы от рекламы, что, похоже, нацеленно только на основную независимую телевизионную сеть страны, что может привести к ее банкротству.
Если вы посмотрите на другие страны мира, то можно увидеть и другие примеры государств, принявших основные элементы путинизма. Президент Турции Реджеп Тайип Эрдоган перешел от своей реформистской повестки дня к консервативной, исламистской и крайне националистической. Он тоже использовал разные методы подавления прессы, чтобы получить получить над ней контроль. Многие из крайне правых европейских лидеров — Марин Ле Пен во Франции, Герт Вилдерс из Нидерландов и даже Найджел Фараж из Великобритании  — открыто восхищаются Путиным и тем, за что он выступает.
Успех путинизма будет в значительной степени зависеть от успеха Путина и России под его руководством. Если в Украине его ждет триумф, в результате которого экономика Украины будет разрушена, а сама она придет к Москве с протянутой рукой, то он будет выглядеть победителем. Если же, напротив, Украина, покинув российскую орбиту влияния, добьется успеха, а экономика России и дальше будет слабеть, Путин может вдруг оказаться в положении лидера сибирской сырьевой экономики, оказавшейся в мировой изоляции.
211 просмотров всего 2 просмотров сегодня
Read the whole story

· · · · · ·

Убийство Бориса Немцова — Новый путинизм — Старый дебилизм: 04 марта 2015 года 19:00 Мск Прямой эфир | Свободная Россия

1 Share
Лицом к событию
Лидер в той или иной сфере общественной жизни - человек известный и информированный - под перекрестным огнем вопросов журналистов
В эфире: ежедневно в 19:05
повтор: в 23:05 и на следующий день в 08:05
Ведущие: Елена Рыковцева и Михаил Соколов.
Новый путинизм? Эфир в 19:05
Убийство Бориса Немцова - символ изменения системы? Обсуждают Марк Урнов, Григорий Голосов, Александр Кынев.
Убийство Бориса Немцова - символ коренного изменения политической системы?
"Новый путинизм" обсуждают политологи Марк Урнов, Григорий Голосов, Александр Кынев.
Ведет передачу Михаил Соколов.
Эфир программы "Лицом к событию" - 4 марта в 19:05.
Видеозапись передачи

+ Слушать Грани времени в архиве Радио Свобода (ОТКРЫТЬ ОКНО)

+ Смотреть Грани времени Видео архив Радио Свобода (ОТКРЫТЬ ОКНО)

Прямой эфир
Не все люди мыслят одинаково. Есть разные точки зрения, многие из них - в "Гранях времени". Ведущий Владимир Кара-Мурза предлагает соглашаться, уточнять, дополнять и спорить, сделать программу дискуссионным клубом.
В эфире: с понедельника по пятницу в 21:00

Радио Свобода Слушать и Смотреть Прямой эфир 24/7 Live

Радио Свобода Слушать Прямой эфир

Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа ставит своей задачей распространение ценностей демократии и гражданского общества, обращаясь к аудитории тех стран, в которых свобода прессы либо запрещена или ограничена властями, либо пока не стала нормой жизни общества. Журналисты Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа предоставляют обществу то, чего оно не может узнать из местных средств информации. Это - новости без цензуры, аргументированный и ответственный обмен мнениями, открытое и честное обсуждение проблем.

+ Слушать - Радио Свобода:

Последние передачи Радио Свобода в плейлисте (Обновление)
Исходя из убеждения, что первым требованием демократии является информированность граждан, основываясь на шестидесятилетнем опыте своей деятельности -
Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа сообщает объективные, проверенные новости, проводит анализ событий и обсуждение внутриполитических и международных проблем, решение которых необходимо для успешных демократических преобразований в условиях свободного рынка.
Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа содействует укреплению гражданского общества, рассказывая об опыте применения демократических ценностей в других странах.
Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа противодействует этнической, расовой и религиозной нетерпимости, поддерживает и развивает взаимопонимание между людьми.
Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа стремится подавать пример объективности и профессионализма местным средствам информации, содействует обучению и росту мастерства журналистов, формированию их независимой позиции, развивает партнерские отношения с местными средствами информации.
Радио Свобода/Свободная Европа поощряет укрепление связей между демократическими государствами мира и странами, для которых оно работает.

Спасибо Вам за добавление нашей статьи в:

 61 1 1Google +1


mail.ru7Odnoklassniki0 0Digg1 0

Смотри видео на Free RuTube - То, что не покажет ZomboЯщик

SvobodaNews Free RuTube
Read the whole story

· · ·

Путин и Кабаева: версия WikiLeaks - Google Search

1 Share

Wikileaks: Путин и Кабаева: версия WikiLeaks
Translate this page
Feb 9, 2011 - Путин и Кабаеваверсия WikiLeaks. Почему в России не принято обсуждать личную жизнь политиков. Забавная депеша, отражающая ...
Next Page of Stories
Page 2

Wikileaks: Путин и Кабаева: версия WikiLeaks

1 Share
Поскольку бывший посол в Москве Уильям Бернс полагает, что в СМИ в России живут в условиях жесточайшей цензуры, то он никак не может понять, с чего бы это некоторые издания позволяют себе нападать даже на первое лицо государства, причем основываясь на слухах и явной лжи. Ему кажется, что случай с «Московским корреспондентом» подтверждает гипотезу о кремлевской цензуре, хотя на самом деле – это один из примеров того, как много сомнительного и непроверенного публикуется в российской печатной прессе и в интернете - интернет и по сей день пестрит баннерами «про Путина и Кабаеву». Что наша ситуация со свободой прессы - не плоская, а сложная и разнообразная. Что с одной стороны есть федеральное ТВ и множество государственных СМИ в регионах, которые не позволяют себе критики первых лиц вообще, но при этом существует федеральная печатная пресса и интернет-издания, в которых «можно все», то есть даже больше чем западным: например, призывы к смене политического режима и публикация непроверенных слухов и компромата. В США это было бы каждый раз скандалом и оборачивалось бы проблемой с властями и судами, а у нас – норма жизни.
Есть культурные различия и в самой теме – личной жизни политиков. Но тут культура США ближе к российской, чем к культуре стран Старой Европы. Если скандалы вокруг личной жизни Саркози или Берлускони на политику влияют не сильно, являются фоном, то в США, как и в России такие вещи всегда оборачиваются скандалом. В США – потому что все-таки эта страна в гораздо большей степени религиозная и консервативная. Там компромат из личной жизни всегда работает и часто губит карьеры политиков. В России причины другие. У нас страна крайне «либеральная» в том, что касается вопросов семьи и брака. Статистика разводов с 90-х опережает американскую, случай типа скандала с Биллом Клинтоном не вызвал бы ценностного раздражения. Однако работает другой фактор. Если политик не как политик, а «как мужик» не попытается защитить честь семьи и женщины всеми возможными способами, в нашей культуре это будет воспринято как признак его человеческой слабости. Поэтому обсуждать в жанре таблоида личную жизнь политиков в нашей политической культуре реально «нехорошо», все понимают, что это вызовет не политическую реакцию, а человеческую, и провоцировать на это просто некрасиво. Оскорбление чести семьи всеми участниками политической жизни понимается как грубое нарушение приличий, социальной нормы, а не как навязанная цензура. Собеседники посла пытаются это ему втолковать, но, кажется, без результата. Некоторые имена были вычеркнуты «РР» из соображений этики.
Второй раздел депеши отсутствует в нашей базе, и, вероятно, в WikiLeaks – видимо, был утерян.
Засекречено: посол Уильям Дж. Бёрнс. Основание: 1,4 (b, d).
1 (С) РЕЗЮМЕ. Издававшийся в Москве таблоид «Московский Корреспондент» 18-го апреля приостановил свою деятельность по требованию владельца после того, как он стал первой российской газетой, сообщившей 11 апреля слух о том, что Путин в феврале месяце развелся с женой и планирует жениться на 24-х летней гимнастке и депутате ГД Алине Кабаевой. Владелец «Корреспондента» Александр Лебедев рассказал послу, что он не получал никаких телефонных звонков, а также никто не оказывал на него нажим с целью закрытия издания, о чем сообщалось в прессе. «Корреспондент» прекратил издаваться потому, что владельцы киосков отказались распространять его на гребне скандала. Путин опроверг эти слухи в ходе пресс-конференции с Сильвио Берлускони, прошедшей 18-го апреля на Сардинии, при этом освещение события, последовавшее в основных российских средствах массовой информации, было сфокусировано на факте самого опровержения - без анализа аспекта достоверности слухов. Представители средств массовой информации, с которыми нам довелось пообщаться, заявили, что не следует навлекать на себя гнев Кремля, публикуя истории, касающиеся семьи первого лица государства. КОНЕЦ РЕЗЮМЕ
2 (U) Расположенный в Москве таблоид «Московский Корреспондент» (тираж 30 тыс. экземпляров) приостановил свою деятельность 18-го апреля по требованию своего владельца Александра Лебедева. По информации от Артема Артемова, гендиректора медиакомпании, выпускающей газету, таблоид продолжит свою деятельность в «менее политизированном» формате. Газета «Московский Корреспондент» оказалась первой, кто опубликовал 11 апреля слух о том, что президент Путин развелся со своей женой и намеревается жениться на 24-х летней гимнастке и депутате ГД Алине Кабаевой. В ходе интервью на радио «Эхо Москвы» 16-го апреля Лебедев утверждал, что его не было в городе в момент публикации этого материала. Он узнал о нем только после публикации.
3 (U) В том же интервью на радио «Эхо Москвы» Лебедев также заявил, что необходимо провести анализ достоверности опубликованного материала, а журналисты должны принести свои извинения в случае, если будет выявлено, что опубликованная информация не соответствует действительности. Он также отверг предположения о том, что им вынашиваются планы «наказания» журналиста, написавшего статью, или газеты в целом. Двумя днями позже он закрыл газету после того, как публикация в Московском Корреспонденте дала старт лавине прочих публикаций и спекуляциям в международных и электронных средствах массовой информации, а Путин был вынужден публично опровергать слухи на пресс-конференции с Берлускони, состоявшейся 18 апреля в Италии. Как сообщалось, Лебедев провел встречу с сотрудниками газеты за несколько часов до ее закрытия, однако официальной причиной закрытия газеты стало ее «плохое финансовое состояние».
4 (С) 22-го апреля на встрече с послом Лебедев неубедительно рассказывал о том, что он не представлял себе масштаба полемики, которая развернулась вслед за публикацией, а также сообщил, что он не предпринимал никаких шагов с целью приостановки выхода материала в свет, о чем сообщалось в прессе. После публикации материала, по словам Лебедева, ему никто из Кремля не звонил, но владельцы киосков отказались распространять газету после случившегося скандала, что сделало дальнейшее издание газеты бессмысленным.
5 (С) Близкий к Кремлю Виталий Третьяков – редактор журнала «Политический класс» - признал, что «политическая корректность» в России распространилась на сферу личной жизни президента и его семьи. Это как ничто другое не является чем-либо новым для российской политики. Третьяков напомнил о решении НТВ при «либеральном» Киселеве отменить репортаж Третьякова о Наине Ельциной, в котором основное внимание было сфокусировано на удивительных политических обмолвках, допущенных ею в качестве первой леди. Требование начальника аппарата Ельцина Валентина Юмашева «не трогайте семью» до сих пор звучит рефреном в Кремле. Слухи о несчастливом браке Путина циркулируют годами – заметил ХХХХХХХ – а имя Кабаевой связывают с именем Путина уже более двух лет. ХХХХХХХ скептически отозвался об утверждениях Лебедева о том, что он действовал по собственной воле, когда закрывал свою газету. Если бы Лебедев не предпринял никаких действий, то Кремль сделал бы свой ход. Николай Сванидзе – популярный телеведущий и автор выходящей в свет книги интервью с избранным президентом Медведевым – подчеркнул, что тема семьи является самой красной из всех красных линий. Радио «Эхо Москвы», являющееся бастионом либеральной журналистики в Москве, испытывало ли мучения о том, сможет ли репортаж о пресс-конференции Путина в Италии разоблачить слухи в этой истории. Сванидзе сообщил, что руководство «Эхо Москвы» запретило ему обсуждать скандал в его еженедельной радиопрограмме, пытаясь избежать конфронтации с Кремлем. Одновременно с тем, что «каждый знает» о несчастливой семейной жизни Путина, каждый также знает, что писать об этом не следует. ХХХХХХ сказал, что аналогичные правила будут действовать и при Медведеве. Бывший советник Горбачева Александр Цыпко утверждал, что оскорбляющая статья положила начало опасной (на его взгляд)
********************* Отсутствует раздел 002 *************** 
1. (C) Summary. The Moscow-based tabloid Moskovskiy Korrespondent suspended its operations on April 18 at the request of its owner after being the first Russian newspaper to report the rumor on April 11 that Putin had divorced in February and planned to marry 24-year old rhythmic gymnast and Duma member Alina Kabayeva. Korrespondent owner, Aleksandr Lebedev, told the Ambassador that no one had called him and he had not been forced to suspend the publication, as reported in the media. Korrespondent had ceased publication because kiosk owners had refused to carry it in the wake of the scandal. Putin denied there was any truth to the rumors during an April 18 joint press conference in Sardinia with Silvio Berlusconi, and the reporting which followed in the mainstream Russian press focused exclusively on his denial, pointedly failing to address the veracity of the rumors. Media sources we have spoken with indicate that it is not worth the risk of attracting Kremlin scorn to print any stories having a First Family angle. End summary.
Lebedev Denies Involvement
2. (U) The Moscow-based tabloid Moskovskiy Korrespondent (circulation 30 thousand) suspended its operations on April 18 at the request of its owner, Aleksandr Lebedev. According to Artyom Artyomov, the Senior Executive at the paper, the tabloid will eventually resume publication in a "less politicized" format. Moskovskiy Korrespondent was the first Russian publication to report -- on April 11 -- the rumors that President Putin had divorced his wife in February and planned to marry 24-year old rhythmic gymnast and Duma member Alina Kabayeva. When interviewed by Ekho Moskvy radio station on April 16, Lebedev claimed that he had been out of town when the story was published, and only learned about it after publication.
3. (U) In the same Ekho interview, Lebedev also said that the story's authenticity should be investigated and the journalists should apologize if it proved to be false, and denied he had any plans to "punish" the journalists who penned the story or the paper as a whole. Two days later he shut them down, after the Moskovskiy Korrespondent story unleashed a flood of other reporting and speculation in the international and electronic media, and forced Putin to deny the rumor publicly at an April 18 press conference with Berlusconi in Italy. Lebedev reportedly met with Moskovskiy Korrespondent staff in the last hours before its shutdown, but the official reason given for closing the tabloid was "poor financial performance."
4. (C) In an April 22 meeting, Lebedev -- unconvincingly -- told the Ambassador that he was unaware of the controversy as it was unfolding, and said he had not taken steps to suspend the publication, as reported. No one from the Kremlin had called him after publication of the article, Lebedev said, but kiosk owners had refused to distribute the newspaper after the controversy broke, making further publication of Korrespondent pointless.
5. (C) Vitaliy Tretyakov, editor of journal "Political Class," and close to the Kremlin, conceded that "political correctness" in Russia extended to not touching on the personal lives of the President and his family. Noting that this was nothing new in Russian politics, Tretyakov pointed to NTV's decision under the "liberal" Kiseylev to quash Tretyakov's story on Nina Yeltsin -- a profile that had focused on her amusing political slips as first lady. Yeltsin's chief of staff Valentin Yumashev's refrain, which Tretyakov said still echoed in the Kremlin, was "don't touch the family." Rumors of the unhappy state of the Putin marriage had circulated for years, ХХХХХХ noted, and Kabayeva's name had been linked to Putin's for over two years. ХХХХХХХ was skeptical of Lebedev's claims that he acted unilaterally to close down the offending journal; if Lebedev had not acted, he stressed, the Kremlin would have taken its own measures. Nikolay Svanidze, a prominent TV host and author of the forthcoming book of interviews with President-elect Medvedev, underscored that family issues represented the reddest of red-lines. The bastion of liberal reporting in Moscow, Echo Mosvky, had agonized over whether the report on Putin's Italy press conference debunking reports of his affair. Svanidze related that Ekho management nixed his intention to discuss the scandal on his weekly radio broadcast, in an effort to avoid picking a fight with the Kremlin. While "everyone knows" the unhappy state of Putin's family life, everyone also knows not to write about it. ХХХХХХ said the same rules would apply under Medvedev, with former Gorbachev advisor Aleksandr Tsipko claiming that the offending article had started a dangerous (in his view)
*********************** * Missing Section 002 * ***********************

См. также:
«Движущая сила в семье». Светлана Медведева – новый тип первой леди России
"Это цивилизованный развод". Сегодня, после посещения балета "Эсмеральда" в Кремлевском дворце, Владимир и Людмила Путины объявили о своем разводе
Read the whole story

· · · · · · · · ·

NSA scandal rekindles in Germany, with an ironic twist

1 Share

A July 16, 2013 photo shows a sign reading "video surveillance" fixed to a lamp post in front of radomes of the former monitoring base of the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Bad Aibling, southern Germany. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN — The uproar shaking the halls of power here could aptly be titled, “NSA Scandal II, the Sequel.” But in this latest spy drama, the nefarious Americans have a co-conspirator: the recalcitrant German intelligence service.
Outrage in Germany about American snooping erupted in 2013, after data released by whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed U.S. surveillance on friendly European targets up to and including Chancellor Angela Merkel. But fresh revelations suggest that the Bundesnachrichtendienst — Berlin’s foreign intelligence arm also known as the BND — may have separately aided U.S. agents with snooping on hundreds of European companies, regional entities and politicians. The targets, according a report in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday, included French and European Commission officials.
The new disclosures center on a list of 2,000 suspicious “selectors” — including phone numbers, IP addresses and e-mails — provided by the United States and plugged into German intelligence data systems that the Germans later determined exceeded the operation’s mandate. The German government has privately acknowledged the existence of the list to select lawmakers but has not clarified the targets, according to one of the parliamentarians briefed but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the briefing was classified.
In a country where Merkel berated Washington in the wake of the Snowden disclosures by saying that spying on friends is “a no go,” the revelations are rocking the government to its core. A bevy of German lawmakers are demanding answers to highly uncomfortable questions, some aimed at top figures in Merkel’s cabinet. Next week, they will summon intelligence officials before two parliamentary committees to testify. Some are now even threatening to call Merkel.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, are clamoring for the complete list of targets, and that is likely to prove highly embarrassing to Washington and Berlin. The Suddeutsche Zeitung report, for instance, said that unnamed officials in the Élysée Palace, the French foreign ministry and European bureaucrats in Brussels were targeted.
“It will be extremely embarrassing for Merkel, who prides herself on her close relationship with [French President Francois] Hollande, if it turns out that the BND helped the NSA to spy on French politicians. Obama knows the feeling,” said Hans-Christian Ströbele, a member of the parliamentary intelligence control panel from the Green Party.
In Germany, fresh outrage is being aimed at the United States, with critics mostly worried that attempts to snoop on companies such as Airbus could qualify as industrial espionage. But this time, many here appear far more scandalized by the actions of their own intelligence agencies and officials, with words such as hypocrisy, ineptitude and cover-up flying at the BND and the chancellery.
“There was always a feeling that Merkel and [Foreign Minister Frank-Walter] Steinmeier were much too soft with the U.S. government on this, and now we are learning almost everyday that Germany has been more involved in all this than initially believed,” said Olaf Boehnke, the Berlin office head for the European Council on Foreign Relations. “They need to explain.”
The current allegations pivot around operations at a top-secret Bavarian surveillance base in Bad Aibling, where the Germans and Americans have been engaged in beefed-up intelligence operations in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. German and U.S. officials agreed to closer cooperation that involved tapping into sensitive German data, including satellite incepts and information accessed from the major Internet cable hubs in Frankfurt.
As part of the deal, U.S. intelligence would provide search terms such as phone numbers and e-mails that would be fed into the computers in Bad Aibling for data matches. There were, however, supposed to be restrictions. A 2002 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Germany and the United States narrowed the kinds of targets open to the operation, excluding, for instance, German and American nationals and companies.
According to an initial report in Der Spiegel on April 23, the United States presented the Germans with at least 40,000 search terms that were quickly deemed unacceptable. Yet after the Snowden scandal erupted in 2013, an official at the BND conducted a review that revealed about 2,000 other “suspicious” searches that had been processed even though they appeared to be outside the scope of the operation. The list of targets, German lawmakers said, included the defense arm of Airbus Group and the helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter, now also part of Airbus.
But recent reports now suggest that the list included other European officials. And what is shocking to many here is that such lapses were not publicly disclosed when Germany was railing against the United States for snooping on Merkel in 2013.
It remains unclear, however, who in the government knew, and when they knew it. If it does turn out that top German officials knew and withheld the information, the scandal, observers here say, could become one of the biggest of Merkel’s tenure. If they were kept in the dark, the BND’s failure to disclose the lapses to the highest level of government, especially given the national debate at the time, would be viewed as a potentially colossal error of judgment.
“What is the extent of this?” said Martina Renner, a lawmaker from the Die Linke party who sits on the parliamentary committee investigating the NSA scandal. “The important thing is who knew about this, and who failed politically to prevent this from happening.”
In addition, at least some of the lapses may have been flagged earlier and passed on. As early as 2008, according to Bild, officials at the BND notified the chancellery — the civilian overseers of the BND — that the NSA was using the joint operation to pursue its “own interests which go beyond common interests.”
Publicly, German officials have been cagey at best, merely conceding that there were “technical and organizational deficits” within the BND. But they have refused to elaborate, or clarify who knew what, and when.
Thomas de Maizière, the top civilian in charge of overseeing the BND in 2008 and currently Merkel’s interior minister, is taking the most fire. After his ministry informed lawmakers two weeks ago that it had no prior knowledge of lapses, he has been accused of being disingenuous or derelict in his duties for not uncovering them in 2008.
After the tabloid Bild published his image with a Pinocchio nose and the headline, “Mr. de Maizière, You’re a Blatant Liar!” he defended himself. In a statement Thursday, he said the allegations are not true. He could not air the evidence publicly, he said, because it was top secret. But he pledged to offer confidential briefings to members of parliament.
The U.S. Embassy in Berlin declined to comment.
“We’re not just trying to blame the NSA,” Renner said. “We’re looking at what happened here.”
Stephanie Kirchner contributed to this report.
Read more

Anthony Faiola is The Post's Berlin bureau chief. Faiola joined the Post in 1994, since then reporting for the paper from six continents and serving as bureau chief in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, New York and London.
Continue reading
Get the Act Four Newsletter
Free twice-weekly updates delivered just for you.
Success! Check your inbox for details.
Please enter a valid email address
You might also like:

Our Online Games

Play right from this page
Read the whole story

· · · · · · ·

Austrian Court Denies U.S. Request to Extradite Dmytro Firtash

1 Share
In a rebuke to Washington, an Austrian court refused Thursday to extradite a Ukrainian billionaire to the U.S., ruling that the federal bribery case against him was politically motivated.
Dmytro Firtash, who made his fortune in the natural gas industry, has accused the U.S. of trying to remove him from the political scene in Ukraine, where he was allied with the country’s recently ousted pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Mr. Firtash was detained in Austria shortly after the toppling of Mr. Yanukovych. Arrested on a U.S. warrant, he was released pending an extradition hearing on bail of €125 million ($139.46 million) and a promise not to leave the country.
The U.S. had charged that Mr. Firtash conspired to pay $18.5 million in bribes to officials in India in an effort to expand his global empire, which includes banks, chemicals, media and metals smelting.
Prosecutors allege the bribes were an attempt to win approval for companies controlled by Group DF, his holding company, to launch an Indian titanium project.
In Vienna, Mr. Firtash’s lawyer’s argued that the U.S. used the Indian case to pressure Mr. Firtash and, in turn, Ukraine’s leaders, as they considered whether to pursue closer relations to Moscow or the West.
The contest between Moscow and Washington for influence in Ukraine sharpened in the past two years, as Kiev considered rival offers from Moscow and the European Union to sign economic cooperation agreements.
Mr. Firtash’s lawyers said the U.S. had requested his arrest before, in October 2013, on the same day Victoria Nuland, the state department’s top diplomat for Europe, left Washington for a trip to try to convince Mr. Yanukovych to sign the EU agreement, according to a person close to Mr. Firtash who attended the hearings. The request was withdrawn four days later, after Mr. Yanukovych warmed to plans to sign the European pact.
The latest request for Mr. Firtash’s extradition was filed in Vienna on Feb. 26 of last year—four days after Mr. Yanukovych was ousted by street protests in Kiev.
At the time, U.S. State Department officials said the timing was coincidental and that the U.S. Justice Department was acting independently.
In the ruling Thursday, Austrian Judge Judge Christoph Bauer disagreed, saying the application is “politically motivated and therefore extradition is inadmissible.”
A U.S. Justice Department spokesman said “we are disappointed with the court’s ruling and have filed an appeal.”
Mr. Bauer, also cited a lack of evidence about the bribery case that supported the extradition request. U.S. prosecutors relied upon two anonymous witnesses to try to prove Mr. Firtash’s complicity in the bribery scheme, but didn't provide the full transcript of their testimonies or make the witnesses available for questioning, according to the person who attended the hearings.
The judge ordered Mr. Firtash’s passport returned, making him free to travel. His lawyer issued a statement saying that Mr. Firtash “feels vindicated” but that “Mr. Firtash will initially remain in Vienna to wait for the judgment to become final.”
Born in western Ukraine, Mr. Firtash amassed a fortune after the collapse of the Soviet Union by moving to Moscow and jumping into the natural gas-trading business between Central Asia and Ukraine. He and his partners netted millions, he said in a 2006 interview with The Wall Street Journal, by arranging to supply food and other goods to Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, in exchange for gas he could sell to Ukraine.
U.S. officials have alleged that Russia has used shady intermediaries in the gas business to influence Ukraine’s political elite by giving key officials lucrative slices of the trade. In 2004, Mr. Firtash forged a lucrative joint venture with Russian giant OAO Gazprom to sell gas to Ukraine and central Europe.
In 2006, that trade drew interest from the U.S. Department of Justice, which began investigating its dealings but has never released its findings.
—Benoît Faucon in London contributed to this article.
Write to Nicole Lundeen at
Read the whole story

· · ·

What we know, don't know about Freddie Gray's arrest

No comments:

Post a Comment