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This episode reaches its unsurprising denouement:

  • Small first protest
  • Even smaller second protest
  • Navalny gets jailed

So, exactly as I predicted it would go. It didn’t require much in the way of unique insight, but Western hacks in Russia have an obligation to spin up fantasies demanded by their editors.

This creates a lot of false hopes and disillusionment.

More interesting development is the following FSB recording, leaked to RT on the eve of the trial, apparently showing the exiled head of Navalny’s “Anti-Corruption Fund” beseeching $10-20 million from MI6 agent James Ford in a Moscow restaurant back in 2012.

He then suggests that MI6 could help him out with dirt on prominent Russians (translation h/t Paul Robinson):

In some cases we don’t have maybe the direct evidence, our evidence is circumstantial, but I’m sure that SFO has access to a lot of information that would not be available to us right from British sources. And if, you know, I’m sure there is information within the British agencies which would like Abramovich or Usmanov, people in the Russian government. Britain is a key European country that can influence and is already taking a tougher stance towards Russia.

Assuming that is legit, it’s quite damning. Imagine the degree of Russiagate hysteria the Blue Checks would have been driven to if the manager of Trump’s campaign was filmed begging for money and dirt on Hillary Clinton. It would have literally been Russiagate as a reality, not as conspiracy theory.

But aside from the not unusual double standards angle, it is also interesting in that it shows that the kremlins seem to have “kompromat” against Navalny. Perhaps there are bigger revelations kept in reserve should he ever become a real threat. It’s quite interesting that this was released now, and not even back in 2013, when Navalny won 27% in the Moscow mayoral elections. Possibly it means that the kremlins are serious with going ahead with a treason trial against Navalny, in addition to the 2.5 years of his suspended sentence for fraud that he will now have to serve out (3.5 years in total, but the year he spent under home arrest will be deducted). A treason sentence, which can potentially be as long as a decade, will keep Navalny out out of politics until after the 2030 elections.

I don’t think this video will mean much. The “vatnik” majority is already convinced that Navalny is a traitor. The Navalnyites don’t care, will consider this a fake, or actually a good thing if true.

Since the imprisonment does not come as a surprise, so I don’t expect a much higher turnout in the third protest. My guess is that it will be bigger than the second one, but no bigger than and possibly smaller than the first one.

I do wonder whether or not Navalny and his people expected this damp squib. I expected it and predicted it because I know that Putin’s approval rating is around 65%, that Navalny has a high anti-rating, and that Russians treat elite corruption as an inescapable reality. However, in the past month, I met some people, even sociologists, who believe that Putin’s ratings are fictive and that the sociological services making them up (e.g. see this Russian language interview from a couple of months ago with Sergey Zadumov). If this is a widespread view among Russian liberals (wishful thinking > logical thinking), then this might help explain why Navalny felt bold enough to come back. Perhaps he expected 250,000 on the streets in Moscow, not the 25,000 he actually got.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Alexei Navalny, Espionage, Law, Navalny Affair, Russia 
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  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

    Commenting rules. Please note that anonymous comments are not allowed.

  2. If this is a widespread view among Russian liberals (wishful thinking > logical thinking), then this might help explain why Navalny felt bold enough to come back.

    I don’t think he had a choice actually. When Navalny dared to criticize Twitter censorship, his handlers flew into rage, and ordered him to return to Russia within 10 days.

    The last thing they needed was exiled Russian dissident calling out lack of democracy in the US. Navalny would be more useful in a Russian prison.

  3. not even back in 2013, when Navalny won 27% in the Moscow mayoral elections.

    In your own post from 2013 you claimed Navalny would get under 10% based on the same “sociology”. Very poor prediction.
    Now you are making the same mistake. As if it’s unknown to you that Chaushesku had 99% approval before his execution.

    As for the protests, they have been the largest “unsanctioned” in Russia’s history, larger than 2011, despite the use of government terror against protesters since then.

    One asks oneself how many people would come out to support Vlad Putain if he was blocked in his residence by FSB. And how many would under a threat of getting beaten or imprisoned? My guess: not many, given the fact that government rallies are staffed with municipal workers for 300 rubles.

    P.S.
    Mr. Karlin, you are a respecter of IQ, so I’d like to know if you updated your priors regarding Putin’s IQ in light of the facts that his palace has no internet infrastructure, no library, but has some other dubious things, as we know from the plans.

  4. Some Guy says:

    A treason sentence, which can potentially be as long as a decade

    Surprising to me that you can’t get a life sentence for treason of all crimes.

    • Replies: @EldnahYm
  5. Navalny is just a tool. He is probably more useful to his handlers in prison.

  6. @Felix Keverich

    I don’t think he had a choice actually. When Navalny dared to criticize Twitter censorship, his handlers flew into rage, and ordered him to return to Russia within 10 days.

    I doubt that had anything to do with it. But I’m a bit surprised he flew to Russia. Surprisingly few people cared about Navalny getting poisoned so it was never going to be a “hero’s return” deal. Perhaps Navalny was told there was a huge uproar about it.

    The plan seemed to be to get a lot of attention with the Putin’s palace video and use that for protests. There was obviously also a massive PR campaign tied to this together with some kind of manipulation to boost views on the video (botting perhaps).

  7. Navalny gets jailed

    Serves him right. Should have been jailed from get-go. That would actually prevent booze-induced bout of pancreatitis his paymasters called “poisoning”.

  8. @Concerned citizen

    Fake commenter talking about fake palace based on fake film. How harmonious.

  9. @Concerned citizen

    In your own post from 2013 you claimed Navalny would get under 10% based on the same “sociology”. Very poor prediction.

    You’re a liar. I predicted 18-22%: https://akarlin.com/2013/09/open-discussion-the-moscow-elections-2013/#comment-74821

    It was a pretty good prediction in the context of that time.

  10. unit472 says:

    Hope Navalny has lots of clean underwear!

    • Replies: @Mulga Mumblebrain
  11. I wonder now if all the other traitors are going to be rounded up. Bank accounts frozen etc.

    The whole anti corruption grift has to be stopped

    I can’t imagine the behaviour exhibited by Navalnys gang being tolerated anywhere else in the world – not just in the west.

    There must have been a reason it was tolerated- and after the release of that video – I reckon it was to collect Kompromat on other individuals, foreign. And domestic.

    We shall see as I agree with Anatoly – they will try him for treason.

    EU and USA have made strong statements and I assume sanctions may follow – any Russian businessman who has money in the west neeeds their head examined

    P.S. I can’t understand the appeal of navalny – the eyes look possessed and the grooming of the young “hamsters” is very sinister

  12. Dreadilk says:
    @Felix Keverich

    His criticism was a non criticism and in line with Euro view. He was sent back as a lever to use on Russia in short term because he lost all value since Russia cracked down on FBK. What is damning is the way they burned their asset this will absolutely reduce the quality of future traitors.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  13. But is was always about collecting 200 pounds.

    There wasn’t much left in Navalny. The Palace video was only good for a week or so. And his paymasters would have said – you have a choice. A Russian prison or a real dose of Novichok. He is probably safest in Russian care.

    The paymasters have 2 objectives. Cause mischief, and get more funding out of CIA/UK/Nato.
    The distorted demo reports are not aimed at Russian public opinion. They are simply aimed at maximising the impression back in Langley/Washington/London/Brussels while they burn their fading asset.

  14. El Dato says:

    Free our Navalny or the gas gets it!

    No wait, the gas gets its in any case.

  15. The funniest thing to me, in the footage presented, is just how bored and disgusted “special agent” Ford appears to be. Like, “Good grief, just another native selling his mother for 10, 20 mil.”.

    By the way and off topic, the MI6 headquarters building has got to be the ugliest building ever built, surpassing anything socialist architecture can throw at it.

  16. @Dreadilk

    this will absolutely reduce the quality of future traitors.

    Is there room to further reduce the quality of traitors? Navalny and his associates are already way sub-standard, particularly intellectually. Will they hire clinical idiots now?

    • Agree: Dreadilk
  17. El Dato says:
    @Concerned citizen

    that his palace has no internet infrastructure, no library, but has some other dubious things, as we know from the plans

    Are you implying that there is a hidden dungeon where virgins are kept?

    And unless the PTB are masters are transforming a palace (temporarily) into an unfinished building, which I doubt, there is no wonder there is “no internet infrastructure, no library”.

    https://www.rt.com/russia/514016-putin-palace-empty-shell/

    Looks like Arkady Rotenberg has some cash flow problems?

  18. Assuming that is legit, it’s quite damning. Imagine the degree of Russiagate hysteria the Blue Checks would have been driven to if the manager of Trump’s campaign was filmed begging for money and dirt on Hillary Clinton. It would have literally been Russiagate as a reality, not as conspiracy theory.

    But aside from the not unusual double standards angle, it is also interesting in that it shows that the kremlins seem to have “kompromat” against Navalny. Perhaps there are bigger revelations kept in reserve should he ever become a real threat. It’s quite interesting that this was released now, and not even back in 2013, when Navalny won 27% in the Moscow mayoral elections.

    This makes the poisoning even stranger. It would’ve been much easier using the video as proof for foreign collusion to jail Navalny. It’s so much better than anything Russiagate has. Pushing the video hard could’ve done a lot. Enough to make the majority of the country hate Navalny anyway.

  19. • Thanks: AltanBakshi
  20. @Anatoly Karlin

    It’s remarkable how strong an insult calling someone(thing?) a liar is, when he (it?) has genuinely lied and the information is genuinely irrefutable with no room for metaphysical debate. No need to even curse, when a liar is amongst the lowest things a person can be.

    Hopefully, as time goes on, Muscovite youth become more consciously and sensibly nationalist, not protesting for tools of foreign wills. Those internet rulings ought to help.

  21. Ludwig says:

    However, in the past month, I met some people, even sociologists, who believe that Putin’s ratings are fictive and that the sociological services making them up (e.g. see this Russian language interview from a couple of months ago with Sergey Zadumov)

    Levada – which is quite virulently anti-Putin – has similar ratings to VCiOM, so not sure why you would think Putin’s ratings are made up.

    Incidentally an interesting thing about Navalny returning: if he indeed believed he was in fact poisoned by the Kremlin, why would he return? The standard explanation seems to be that he is brave and that after the botched job, the Kremlin would dare not try it again. But the case is curiouser because the Skripals – including the daughter who no one has ever called a deliberate target – in contrast have been whisked away supposedly for their own protection from the long arm of Russia’s GRU.

    So why would Julia Skripal be more at risk than Navalny if the Kremlin was intent in killing them? Why on earth can’t Julia Skripal – if not the dad, whose treason term had in any case expired and who seemed to be making overtures to return – be so threatened that she is hidden away with a new identity while a far greater threat to the Kremlin returns to the belly of the beast?

    • Agree: AltanBakshi, mal
    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @Bashibuzuk
    , @Beckow
  22. El Dato says:
    @Ludwig

    More to the point, why a repeat application of the ever-present “Novichock”. Its like a bad & boring Navy CSI subplot. Or someone losing the “Protocols of the Elders” on a commuter train. Repeatedly.

  23. @Ludwig

    have been whisked away supposedly for their own protection from the long arm of Russia’s GRU.

    I don’t think we can be sure that Skripals are still alive.

    • Agree: AnonfromTN
    • Replies: @AnonfromTN
  24. There is a silver lining to this sad story: Navalny could now use his blogger talents to entertain us with his AУЕ stories.

    АУЕ – жизнь ворам.
    Салам брат Алёха, салам…

  25. Beckow says:
    @Ludwig

    …Navalny returning: if he indeed believed he was in fact poisoned by the Kremlin, why would he return? The standard explanation seems to be that he is brave…

    Navalny thinks that he knows the script – part of the script has been that he and his group have been very useful for Kremlin – it’s always better to pick and control your so-called street opposition, who knows who could replace relatively harmless Navalny. He also thinks that he has complete protection from the West.

    The problem is that people play a script until they don’t. It is likely that the script is done and nobody told Navalny. Navalny’s usefulness for Kremlin has been exhausted and his protection by the West has evaporated. Both sides will squeeze all they can from the ritual discarding of Navalny and move on. Another bites the dust…and another…

  26. @Bashibuzuk

    I don’t think we can be sure that Skripals are still alive.

    Second thought. If MI6 had any competent professionals, they won’t be alive: they are used material. As an added bonus, dead people tell no tales. However, if MI6 had competent professionals, they would have concocted a lot better story about Skripal “poisoning.” The story they came up with was so lame that they had to change it five times within the first week. The picture with perfectly happy and healthy British bobby next to two clowns in spacesuits was a dead giveaway. If MI6 competence and professionalism are at this dismal level, Skripals might be still alive.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
  27. @AnonfromTN

    I haven’t bothered caring about the Skripal poisonings but for you who think “Russia dindu nuffin” what’s your explanation for these fine gentlemen?

    Maybe just spies doing something completely unrelated? Maybe the interview with them is some kind of trolling?

  28. @Shortsword

    Russia dindu nuffin

    I never claimed that. I am sure Russian spy agencies do a lot of undercover work, some of it undoubtedly dirty. What I am saying is that Western spy agencies (who do their fair share of dirty work, too) do not appear to be competent enough to uncover something real, so they resort to inventing clumsy improbable stories, like Skripal poisoning, instead.

    what’s your explanation for these fine gentlemen?

    I have no idea. What I do know is that having exactly the same time stamp on pics of both of these guys was sloppy work by some agency, and that agency wasn’t Russian.

    • Replies: @216
  29. Say it ain’t so. Regime change in Russia hits a stall . . .

  30. 216 says:
    @AnonfromTN

    What I am saying is that Western spy agencies (who do their fair share of dirty work, too) do not appear to be competent enough

    Until the Obama era, these agencies were largely immune from political correctness, affirmative action and feminism.

    Since Wikileaks/Snowden, the agencies have gone full Woke to appease the liberals working there and approving the budgets.

    That’s one small benefit for the Dissident Right, agencies run on meritocracy would have a much easier time infiltrating and subverting our movements.

  31. Ludwig says:
    @Shortsword

    These two were almost certainly GRU agents. But a possible explanation for their presence is this:

    Sergei Skripal wanted to come home and sent feelers out. His daughter was an intermediary. A couple of days after she landed in UK, the GRU followed. The idea was to meet the Skripals to talk. The MI6 was tipped off to the whole thing and arranged a false flag op to kill a lot of birds with one stone (prevent Skripal – who had a lot of UK info – from going back or divulging info; pin the blame on the Russians. The daughter was also dangerous to send back because she knew the truth.)

    This explains a lot of puzzling details about the day of the alleged poisoning: for example why even if the Kremlin wanted to poison Sergei – even after his original sentence for treason expired – they picked that particular weekend when they knew his daughter was visiting to do so and endanger her life as well. Why the Skripals turned off their mobile phones when they left the house. Why they were found convulsing the sane time at a park by someone who turned out to be a person from the classified Porton Down facility, where the alleged chemical agent was first identified. And why the UK refuses to set the Skripals free or even let them meet with relatives let alone Russian diplomats with only one carefully controlled appearance by the daughter to meet with a journo giving stilted answers. There are a lot more of these plot holes.

    So if the above version is true, why would the Kremlin not reveal what the truth? Firstly, it would be embarrassing to admit that their mission to extract Skripal not only failed but blew up in their faces. Secondly, they don’t know the mind of Sergei and the daughter who may deny the whole thing (under coercion by various means) or alternatively put their lives in danger if they refuse orders from their British handlers. And so it would be their story vs the UK’s who already put out the definitive version holes and all, and there’s no point.

    One thing is clear: whether the Kremlin or MI6 was the guilty party both know the exact truth of what happened even if the rest of us can only speculate based on logic and probability of actions. So at the secretive level where these deadly games are being played both know how far the other is willing to go.

    • Thanks: Shortsword
    • Replies: @Beckow
    , @Shortsword
  32. Beckow says:
    @Ludwig

    Something along the lines of what you wrote probably happened. The two dufuses – who partied the night before in a cheap London hotel – were not necessarily agents, likely collaborators used for these occasions.

    A key element is missing. The plan was for them to talk to Skripal – the daughter was intermediary – but not about a return to Russia. Skripal was not stupid enough to ever trust that he could return (unless he was dying from something). They knew they were under constant surveillance, something possibly quite prosaic was to be discussed, or resolved and settled – something family related, financial, or from the past, whatever, that’s the part we don’t know. And:

    whether the Kremlin or MI6 was the guilty party both know the exact truth of what happened

    Only one side knows what they were to meet about. And only one side knows how it was intercepted. So both sides stonewall. Neither side knows the full story. By the way, I think Skripals are alive, why get rid of them? What would be the process today to do it? Well, maybe the old man is not, but not because they killed him, he might have had a serious or fatal disease. That’s what triggered the whole affair. I think it’s about money and property, probably something very obscure and boring. It’s almost always about money, most mysteries are.

  33. Ludwig says:

    Something along the lines of what you wrote probably happened. The two dufuses – who partied the night before in a cheap London hotel – were not necessarily agents, likely collaborators used for these occasions.

    While I stopped following the saga some time ago, I believe that one of the two guys was linked via a photo to a known GRU officer? In either case, whatever their exact role, the Russian Govt almost certainly sent them. (If they were not affiliated with the Govt but some businessman in Russia, more details of their private lives and alleged jobs would come out. After all if there two were indeed health food businessmen or some such as they claimed, anyone could go visit them somewhere. Why would the Kremlin protect some private business deal?)

    Only one side knows what they were to meet about. And only one side knows how it was intercepted. So both sides stonewall. Neither side knows the full story.

    Neither side may know all the exact details of the whole incident, but they would have a common knowledge about the salient points. For example the Kremlin would know whether the GRU tried a hit on Skripal or not. (Unless there’s a rogue cell within the GRU which is operating independent of the Kremlin’s knowledge which tho theoretically possible I’d think would be improbable). If there was a hit, the story is pretty much as the British said it is (plus or minus some details to protect intelligence methods). If there was no hit, then the whole thing was a MI6 (or equivalent) plot. Same thing from the MI6 point of view: they would know if they ordered a false flag or whether events did in fact unfold as they said they did (with minor details left out to protect intelligence methods. BTW I think it’s more likely that civilian leadership in the UK is out of the loop about what their intelligence services are doing rather than the Kremlin about theirs.)

    Net is that both would know the exact answer to the following question and also know the other knows and so on, ie they have common knowledge:

    Did the Kremlin order a hit on the Skripals or was it a false flag op by the MI6?

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  34. In other news, president Zelensky of the Ukraine just banned 3 national television channels. They were all connected to Putin’s pal Medvedchuk and his Russia-friendly opposition party. Zelensky approval rating has been in freefall in recent months, and support for Medvedchuk grew at his expense.

    • Replies: @AltanBakshi
    , @AnonFromTN
    , @AP
  35. @Felix Keverich

    Ukrainian logic: to rid yourself of totalitarian Soviet/Russian past and become an European democracy, you must repress freedom of speech and become totalitarian!

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  36. @Ludwig

    That does sound feasible. The Western narrative seems to be that FSB did it to show to any potential traitor that they’re ready to kill anyone. It’s pretty flimsy.

    one carefully controlled appearance by the daughter to meet with a journo giving stilted answers

    Maybe the interview in Russia of “the tourists” was a response to this. I can’t see this interview as anything else than an intentional joke, no matter if Russia or UK did the poisoning.

  37. @Shortsword

    I seem to recall their claim of being tourists in Salisbury wasn’t very believable, for a start who would stay in East London to visit Salisbury?

    Then there was something about they planned to walk to Stonehenge, but there was too much snow as if England has terribly harsh weather compared to Russia. Stonehenge is also like 10 miles from Salisbury.

    I’m surprised they didn’t go to the effort of concocting a more believable story, unless it was deliberate trolling.

    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @mal
    , @maz10
  38. El Dato says:
    @Europe Europa

    there was too much snow as if England has terribly harsh weather compared to Russia

    IIRC that was actually true because the UK was under the spell of “the beast from the East” at that time the UK infrastructure was in a bit of disarray.

    But yeah. I think if it feels like one is being trolled, one is probably being trolled. But why?

    • Agree: mal
  39. mal says:
    @Europe Europa

    I initially thought they were drug dealers (their official business was selling nutritional supplements to gyms and health clubs around Europe – this is exactly what you would say if you wanted to smuggle drugs, steroids, etc).

    But they did like to visit Switzerland a lot and as car as Skripal goes, I just don’t see either Swiss or Skripal being into roided up weightlifting or whatever. So I don’t think they brought Skripal drugs. Documents maybe? Not sure. But they definitely look and behave like couriers/delivery boys, not professional assasins. Could be some kind of GRU messenger service, but of non lethal variety.

    Also, they got on a plane literally like a day after Yulia. Is it really that easy and fast to get a British entry visa from Russia? In my experience in US, it takes at least a couple of weeks to get international visas. And if it was a special fast track approval on the British side, who was the approver? Who in the British government wanted them in the UK so badly?

  40. @AltanBakshi

    It makes sense actually. Totalitarian censorship IS European.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  41. @Felix Keverich

    And Chinese.

    And increasingly, American.

  42. If Navalny expected a huge crowd of organic support taking to the streets spontaneously he’s more of a lightweight than I thought. If you’re not retarded you anticipate what you know and have verified allied organizers can deliver, not what you conjecture could happen if disorganized proles (who may or not actually exist) spontaneously rise up.

    If the best stooges the American alphabet soup can come up with are ones who credulously believe liberal theory of how society functions (i.e. that powerless prole preferences create the ruling power) then expect the rate of America’s embarrassing losses abroad to accelerate.

  43. @Shortsword

    Without trying to play a retarded and pointless game of analyzing the story and body language of these 2 whose real identity and occupation I have no reliable way of verifying, I’ll say I sincerely doubt the higher ups of the Russian government cared to kill Navalny.

    1) There are extremely reliable ways to poison people, and the Russian government has some experience in this area. If they really wanted to poison him, I suspect they would have succeeded

    2) There are other ways to kill people and the method isn’t really important if they just want somebody gone. Russia was guaranteed to be blamed by the western powers if Navalny ended up dead no matter the circumstance.

    This was basically the ideal situation for America/Globohomo generally. A botched “poisoning” that they can blame on the boogeyman that also preserves their asset so he can “return in triumph!” When the situation ends up ideal for someone, why should I expect it was anyone other than they who engineered it?

    • Replies: @Shortsword
    , @Mikel
  44. @RadicalCenter

    To want to preserve your rule and punish transgressors is in other words human. No government has ever allowed it’s enemies unlimited latitude to spread propaganda or ever could while staying in power.

    It’s just that American propaganda convinced you that they did allow this (they don’t and never did). America has always been just as censorious to credible threats, it’s just that previously credible threats were less numerous because American governance was less exploitational and predatory, and their rulers more competent. It’s not that censorship is wrong so much as censorship protects the rulers, and the current rulers are evil. You’d have to be irredeemably retarded to go to bat for the rights of demonically obsessed SJWs to pollute the world with their ideology if it was outlawed.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @RadicalCenter
  45. @Athletic and Whitesplosive

    Those two are the suspects from the Skripal poisonings from almost 3 years ago. It has nothing to do with Navalny. Ludwig does make a few convincing points for the “Russia dindu nuffin” case for that one.

  46. @Felix Keverich

    In other news, president Zelensky of the Ukraine just banned 3 national television channels.

    Nothing unexpected. When the American overlords go for shameless censorship, so do their lackeys. The overlords have already replaced Ukrainian clown in socks with holes (Porky) with the clown in socks w/o holes (Ze). They will replace this clown with the next, if they feel the need. Nothing substantive changed. Nothing substantive will change until Ukrainians rise up against their overlords and the clowns who serve them. Every nation has the government it deserves (now, this phrase should be considered rabidly anti-American after Jan 20).

    • Replies: @Aedib
  47. maz10 says:
    @Europe Europa

    To make it clear: I do not believe for a second that they were tourists but:

    Surveillance vids of them walking in Salisbury actually show them pointing towards the cathedral

    There was actually snowfall in that part of England at that time

    While giving their interview they were muttering something about personal stuff they did not want to discuss and sure enough it emerged that they were boozing and whoring

    Now that does not make them lilywhite innocent tourists but what they said was more anchored in facts than many in the West wanted to admit. Oh, and for realising / revealing footage & info re points two and three which corroborated the Ruskies story some people in Brit spooks agency should have been demoted or at least reprimanded.

  48. Aedib says:
    @AnonFromTN

    Do you think a further deconstruction/feudalization of Ukraine is unavoidable?

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  49. @Aedib

    Do you think a further deconstruction/feudalization of Ukraine is unavoidable?

    Frankly, Ukraine dug itself so deep into a hole that I don’t see any bright prospects for it in the next 10-20 years. The most sensible government Ukraine can have should follow the first rule of holes: when you are in one, stop digging. However, I don’t see the prospect of a sensible government there. Even though the populace appears to be slowly coming to its senses, it takes a lot of activity to change a government. Prevalent mentality of Ukrainian population appears to be “my house is on the outskirts, I don’t know anything” (моя хата скраю, я ничего не знаю), i.e., passivity, often combined with petty stealing. Even with the best government, it would take at least 10 years to recover to 2013 level if its debts are forgiven. If not, it won’t recover for many decades yet. Too bad. It could have been a country, but blew its chances.

    • Agree: AltanBakshi
    • Replies: @AP
  50. EldnahYm says:
    @Some Guy

    Russia has a long history of going easy on traitors.

  51. @Anatoly Karlin

    On another note – is the guy “Usmanov” referenced in the recordings – the same guy who bought into Arsenal Football Club in England?

  52. Seraphim says:
    @Felix Keverich

    He indeed had no choice, but his handlers had no choice either. He was placed on a wanted list by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service on December 29 with instructions “to detain him when his whereabouts are identified” (was that a request for a ‘Interpol Red Notice’?). What if Russia had asked for his extradition? Was Germany prepared to take the risk of refusing the extradition of a common criminal? Navalny is not Browder.
    OTOH, one underestimates the FSB at his own peril. Navalny and his ilk may contemplate a longer vacation in a holiday resort in the Arctic region, than the mere three and a half years for fraud.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  53. joniel says:

    It seems like there were lots of Ukrainian svidomites patriotically avoiding the draft in Russia at the protests.

  54. Seraphim says:
    @Ludwig

    Why G.U. (Главное управление Генерального штаба Вооружённых Сил Российской Федерации = Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, (it is no more GRU – Главное Разведывательное Управление) ‘agents’ to carry on assassinations? It is not the role of G.U.
    The G.U., unlike Russia’s other security and intelligence agencies—such as the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the Federal Protective Service (FSO), whose heads report directly to the president of Russia—the director of the GRU is subordinate to the Russian military command, reporting to the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff. Its main role is gathering military intelligence. Dealing with dissidents, traitors was the task of the Cheka/NKVD/KGB, Security Services.

    • Replies: @Mikel
  55. Mikel says:
    @Seraphim

    Why G.U. …/… ‘agents’ to carry on assassinations? It is not the role of G.U. …/… Dealing with dissidents, traitors was the task of the Cheka/NKVD/KGB, Security Services.

    Well, perhaps that is the explanation. Military people acting on their own without the approval of the Kremlin. It happens in the US, as we saw for example with the Pentagon lying to Trump in order to stay in Syria, and it could very well happen in Russia.

  56. Mikel says:
    @Athletic and Whitesplosive

    of these 2 whose real identity and occupation I have no reliable way of verifying

    In fact, one of the few aspects of the story we can be very reasonably sure about is that those two were Russian officers Mishkin and Chepiga.

    I got tired of being called a “Kremlin agent” in other places because I argued against the Kremlin having ordered that senseless action but Bellingcat (with the very likely help of the British secret services) left me with egg on my face.

    There is no credible explanation to those two not being Mishkin and Chepiga and Putin having lied (or having been lied to) about their identity. This was in fact acknowledged by Israel Shamir here on Unz, AK himself if I’m not very mistaken and, shortly after their identities were made public, Putin asked Russian journalists to stop talking about “scumbag” Skripal.

    As far as I could see, Russian media did just that and no attempts were made to disprove Bellingcat’s revelations while the BBC and others corroborated the story through visits to their hometowns and interviews with former classmates.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
    , @maz10
  57. @Seraphim

    Are you kidding? Western countries never extradite Russian criminals. They are willing to shelter everyone from two-bit fraudsters to Chechen terrorists. It would have been highly extraordinary, if Germany complied with Russian extradition request.

  58. Seraphim says:
    @Mikel

    The two spies were in Britain most likely to spy.
    There is no reason whatsoever for Putin or Shoigu to kill flies with the sledgehammer. All the fuss is about reinforcing in the minds of the flies the illusion that they are sooo important that Putin and his ‘cronies’ have no other recourse than to kill them. It’s true that flies are annoying, but you kill them with just a slap or a flyswatter, or a very mild spray. But the Lord of the flies needs to believe that people are scared of him.

    • Agree: AnonFromTN
  59. Now the authorities can finish getting the evidence together for the treason charge Navalny so richly deserves. Out east, ‘counting trees’, or, perhaps, fighting fires in the taiga. Good riddance.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  60. @Felix Keverich

    They has some tapes of Navalny and an under-age wombat taken at Epstein’s Noo Yerk pad. He had no choice.

  61. @unit472

    He mistook his alcoholism induced faecal incontinence for ‘Novichok’. I make the same mistake myself, often.

  62. maz10 says:
    @Mikel

    Two FACTS

    The movements of those two clowns were recorded by surveillance cameras and the did not come near Skripal’s house

    At the site supposedly contaminated by a deadly agent unprotected cops indifferently looked on at a theatrical performance by men in protective suits

    These two FACTS alone disprove the story as it was pushed by western govs, media and the crapping cat. I will not even getting into how often the story and its details changed or into its inconsistencies.

    Now the two Russian clowns were certainly doing something they should not be doing but that is another story.

    Putin telling to leave it be shows a few things. For example the fact that the president has to say it publicly means just how little direct control over media there is in Russia. In contrast in the USA, UK and elsewhere in the West the media acts like a well oiled machine pushing the story and changing it and finally dropping it in remarkable coordination. Also it made no sense to debunk it – if agents who do not come near the victim poison him is acceptable as a credible version of events nothing, no explaining will change it making any efforts at debunking futile from the start.

    Of course the two clowns were there for a reason, a different reason, and placing that reason into the spotlight would not be exactly in Russia’s interest.

  63. @Concerned citizen

    Your misspellings are ludicrous , but you’re not Tiny Duck.

    If you’re going to play the role of the dim-witted troll, at least make it amusing !

  64. Seraphim says:
    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    I said it: ”People underestimate FSB at their own peril!”

  65. @Shortsword

    Slight reading comprehension fail for myself there, but I just skimmed it because like I said, it’s really not a particularly interesting subject to me overall.

    1) I don’t see a good reason why Russia would want to do either set of poisonings

    2) I and every other pleb have no real ability to assess if they did it or not (the official sources on both sides have no incentive to be honest).

    3) Even if Putler did it all, doesn’t really affect my opinion on anything of import. Ex-KGB man might kill somebody? WOW. America would never kill somebody!

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  66. @Athletic and Whitesplosive

    America would never kill somebody!

    In 2015-2020 nobody was shot to death by on duty police in Russia. That’s authoritarian state.
    In the same period at least 5,992 people were shot to death by on duty police officers in the US
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/
    That’s democracy.

    If someone does not believe that war is peace, Big Brother is opening reeducation camps soon.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
    , @RadicalCenter
  67. @AnonFromTN

    American cops are trigger happy. There is admittedly some justification for it. United States has a lot of homicides involving firearms, a lot more than Russia, and cops getting killed isn’t a rarity. But it’s still a really good statistic to throw out to annoy Americans. Incarceration rate is another one.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  68. Biggest potential problem for the kremlins might be the fact that there is some slight level of appearing sympathy for Navalny even amongst the most hardcore vatnik political crowd (e.g. Viktor Alksnis), even if in absolutely free elections Navalny or his party would get about 10% of overall RF vote at most. But the created political system is so weak it cannot tolerate even those miniscule levels of real opposition without spiraling down in a uncontrollable mess, while in postwar Italy western system managed to deal even with communist party getting about 40% of the overall vote.

    https://www.facebook.com/VAlksnis/posts/2931437890433859

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  69. @Shortsword

    Incarceration rate is another one.

    Yea, incarceration rates tell the same story.
    https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/incarceration-rates-by-country
    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/largest-prison-population-rates-in-the-world.html
    The US is #1 in the world, with 639 (or 655, depending on the source) prisoners per 100,000 population (over 2 million prisoners total). That sure is democracy. Only El Salvador, #2 with 566, and Turkmenistan, #3 with 552, are nearly as democratic.
    Autocratic Russia’s and China’s incarceration rates are nowhere near, at 386 and 118, respectively.

    • Replies: @Yevardian
    , @AP
  70. @sudden death

    Navalny or his party would get about 10% of overall RF vote at most.

    Sorry to disappoint, Navany and his “party” would be lucky to get 3%. Real opposition is a lot more anti-Western than Putin and his cronies, and would get 15-40% in fair elections (hard to be more precise, insufficient info).

    I think the only reason kremlins kept traitorous Navalny clown out of jail for so long is that he discredits the opposition a lot more efficiently than the authorities ever could. They pretend that this is the opposition, whereas the real one would actually beat the shit out of navalnista scum, and then turn its anger against thieving oligarchs. Pretty broad consensus in Russia is that Chubais should be publicly hanged, all other thieves from the 1990s imprisoned and their loot confiscated.

    • Replies: @sudden death
  71. @AnonFromTN

    Sorry to disappoint, Navany and his “party” would be lucky to get 3%

    Might be as well, cause in truly fair&free RF elections there would be more than one pro-Western leaning party or leaders, so the figurative “Western” voters could be split into several fractions.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
    , @AnonFromTN
  72. @sudden death

    This is a good point. Maybe Russia should create really gay pro-Western controlled opposition parties to balkanize that voter base. Navalny doesn’t have consistent opinions so it would be easy to attack him from such a position.

  73. @sudden death

    the figurative “Western” voters could be split into several fractions.

    Maybe the sum total of all pro-Western parties would be ~10%. The sum total of rabidly anti-Western parties would likely be ~30-40%, with the rest voting for the status quo (i.e., Putin’s in between policies).

  74. Yevardian says:
    @AnonFromTN

    I was thinking you would have to compare America with other majority European, first-world societies with as proportionately large populations of ¡Blacks!, but then again, I don’t think France has anything close to American incarceration rates, so I don’t know.

    • Replies: @silviosilver
  75. @Yevardian

    That kind of point goes right over the head of negroid-lover AnonTN. Perhaps he thinks all those people are unjustly imprisoned, so America would be a better country if they were all freed or something. That’s the typical level of his nitwit logic. Why in the world anybody ever considered this clown a knowledgeable commentator is beyond me.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  76. @Athletic and Whitesplosive

    American governance was less exploitational and predatory, and their rulers more competent

    They had lots more resources per capita than most other white countries.

  77. I have to laugh when governments say they don’t negotiate with terrorists and rioters. In truth violence and terrorism is literally the ONLY thing that works in terms of getting ones own way, the world is ruled by terror of both the state kind and the revolutionary kind.

    Irish republicans got their way and dominate the English/British unionists, Catalans are subservient to the Spanish and got nothing but beaten to a pulp by Spanish police. Why? Because Irish are prepared to use terroristic violence and the Catalans are not. Terrorism is sadly the only thing that gets results in this world.

  78. @Athletic and Whitesplosive

    Yes, you’re right. I’ve come around from my formerly naive ideological support for everyone’s “freedom of speech” to something like your position.

    The serious problem right now is WHO is in power and WHOM they will censor, deplatform, intimidate, and selectively prosecute.

  79. @AnonFromTN

    Good point, except that Russians are dealing with a very different set of human stock.

    Russian police would find themselves engaged in thousands of pointless violent encounters every day — and shooting a goodly number of people in self-defense — if they had tens of millions of angry, fatherless Africans trained to hate them, like we do here in the Dis-Uniting States of America.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  80. @RadicalCenter

    if they had tens of millions of angry, fatherless Africans trained to hate them, like we do here in the Dis-Uniting States of America.

    Arguably, countries like El Salvador have even greater fraction of fatherless thugs hating any kind of law enforcement. There might be fewer blacks, but drags of society of any color are about the same. E.g., primitive tribal Chechens, Dagestanis, or Ingushes in Russia are hardly different from inner-city scum in the US. I strongly suspect that incarceration rate in the US is the result of prisons becoming private profit-producing enterprises. Greed has no bounds and no morals.

    • Replies: @AnonFromTN
  81. @AnonFromTN

    but drags of society

    Spellchecker strikes back. This should have been “the dregs of society”.

  82. @silviosilver

    If you think that worldview where “black” fully defines a person is any different from worldview where “white” fully defines a person, think again. I’ve met people of every color and gender who were at both extremes in the distributions of smart-dumb, honest-dishonest, hardworking-lazy. In my experience, only hopelessly pathetic people who have no personal achievements to be proud of take pride in things like their skin color, nationality, gender, or religion. Now, that fully defines a person in question.

  83. AP says:
    @AnonFromTN

    Even with the best government, it would take at least 10 years to recover to 2013 level if its debts are forgiven

    Wages equaled 2013 levels in March 2019:

    http://bunews.com.ua/economy/item/ukrainian-monthly-salaries-return-to-pre-war-levels-in-us-dollar-terms-as-recovery-continues

    And GDP per capita PPP in constant dollars surpassed 2013 in 2019 (but was still lower than Ukraine’s post-Soviet peak in 2007, when Yushchenko was president):

    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.KD?locations=UA

    But keep dreaming 🙂

    Ukraine like everywhere in the world experienced a drop in 2020 due to Covid but it was not much worse than in other countries – 4.4% drop, compared to 3.1% drop in Russia and 6.4% drop in the EU. It should get back to normal in 2021.

    • Replies: @Passer by
  84. AP says:
    @AnonFromTN

    There is certainly room for reform,* but overall America’s high incarceration rate maintains a relatively European-level crime rate with a largely non-European population whose countries of origin have crime rates much higher than America’s.

    *Some nonviolent drug offenders can be let out, etc.

  85. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Zelensky approval rating has been in freefall in recent months, and support for Medvedchuk grew at his expense.

    Medvedchuk’s rating also declined:

    http://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1003&page=1

    Poroshenko’s has been stable, Tymoshenko and Tiahnybok have gone up.

    In terms of party rating. Medvedchuk’s party has gone up slightly in popularity (+1% since December) Zelensky’s has declined (-2.7%), but growth has mostly been from other pro-Western parties. Poroshenko’s European Solidarity +1.5%, Tymoshenko’s Fatherland +.5%, Strength and Honor +2%, Svoboda +.8%. Lyashko’s Radicals have declined.

    Zelensky has gone after the pro-Russian TV stations in order to shore up support. It’s a populist move, most people don’t like Medvedchuk so screwing him is a good way to get some support.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  86. @AP

    Ukronazis make up a small minority of the population in the Ukraine. And sucking up to them does not make Zelensky a ‘populist’.

    • Agree: AltanBakshi
    • Replies: @AP
  87. Passer by says:
    @AP

    According to the IMF there was a bigger drop in Ukraine than in most of the rest of the world. I think it was around – 7 % for Ukraine vs – 4 % for the world.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
  88. @Passer by

    Those are older estimations. The GDP decline for most countries turned out to be smaller than what the estimations predicted.

    • Agree: AP
  89. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich

    “Ukronazis aren’t the only ones opposed to Russian influence in Ukraine. Going after pro-Russian oligarchs is indeed a populist move in Ukraine. Expect Zelensky’s rating to rise (or at least, decline to stop) after this move.

    • Replies: @AnonfromTN
  90. @AP

    That’s the main problem of present-day Ukraine. Medvedchuk, Boiko, and others of their ilk are repulsive. But compared to other Ukrainian politicians, including previous and current clowns, even they look semi-decent and nearly sane.

    Covid added a funny twist. Merkel wants the EU to seriously consider Russian vaccine Sputnik V
    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/07/covid-vaccine-merkel-open-to-producing-russia-sputnik-in-the-eu.html
    At the same time Ukies refused to even consider the use of anti-covid vaccine from “aggressor” in Ukraine. Kiev puppets take master’s order to cull the populace very seriously.

    • Replies: @Jazman
    , @AP
  91. Jazman says:
    @AnonfromTN

    It is so funny reading WaPo and NYT they could not hide The Lancet study on Sputnik V but reaction of people is like we Americans vaccinated way more people comparing to Russia and China must be propaganda , Pfizer is the best solution . I just mention IVERMECTINE that many ICU doctors are pushing and guess what they accused me Putin troll and anti vaxxer lol

  92. AP says:
    @AnonfromTN

    That’s the main problem of present-day Ukraine. Medvedchuk, Boiko, and others of their ilk are repulsive. But compared to other Ukrainian politicians, including previous and current clowns, even they look semi-decent and nearly sane.

    Their powerbase is the most crime-ridden, corrupt and socially diseased part of Ukraine. They are the least decent and most repulsive elites in Ukraine, which is saying a lot.

    • Replies: @Bashibuzuk
  93. @AP

    They are the least decent and most repulsive elites in Ukraine

    Are they?

    • Replies: @AP
  94. AP says:
    @Bashibuzuk

    Poroshenko is a Trumpian figure, corrupt and vulgar but under whose watch the economy grew, the army was strengthened, etc. He seems to be a much better family man than Trump, a deacon in the Orthodox Church who has stayed married for 30 years and has 4 kids. He also made his fortune not only by stealing Sovok industries but by creating his chocolate business. But he is far from perfect, a family friend served in his government and I heard things I won’t repeat publicly that are bad (not stuff he personally did but people linked to him, working for him). He was not spawned in or in control of the region which is Ukraine’s black hole of crime and corruption, which means something.

    These are the eastern oligarchs whose TV stations were taken away:

    Medvedchuk, literally the son of a Nazi collaborator whose father was sending Ukrainians to slave labor camps on behalf of the Germans, and Rabinovich, a Berezovsky figure.

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

    Medvedchuk’s father, Volodymyr Medvedchuk, avoided being drafted into the Red Army during World War II due to his suffering from Pott disease. During Nazi Germany’s occupation of Ukraine, he worked for the German administration in a labor camp from April 1942 to November 1943. The section provided enforced deportation of the local able-bodied Ukrainian youth to work in Nazi Germany.[11]

    ::::::::::::::

    Medvdchuk himself worked for the Sovok government in the persecution of dissidents. As a “defense attorney” he asked his client to be given more time in prison. So the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. During the 90s looting he was head of the Ukrainian Bar Association.

    ::::::::::::::

    So I would not compare Poroshenko, despite his flaws, to such creatures.

    • Replies: @Shortsword
    , @Bashibuzuk
  95. @AP

    Volodymyr Medvedchuk was arrested by SMERSH on 7 August 1954 and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment and four of exile in Siberia “for participation in Ukrainian nationalistic activities.”

    Perhaps it’s time to recriminalize such acts.

    • Replies: @AP
  96. @AP

    I am unable to discuss any Ukrainian politicians seriously. What is happening in Ukraine is a tragicomedy. I have been in Odessa in 2018, it is a sad and hilarious sight at the same time. Perhaps something good will come of this whole madness, but I am frankly not optimistic at all. Ukraine should have been divided along the cultural and linguistic lines in 1991 or it should have been federalized, now it is probably too late to fix this mess.

    • Agree: AltanBakshi
  97. AP says:
    @Shortsword

    The thing is, he wasn’t engaged in some kind of Banderist or actual “Ukrainian nationalistic activities”, he was straight up helping the Germans send Slavs to slave labor camps. The sentence was well deserved but the label was a lie. Well, Soviets lie, what can you do?

    Here is Medvedchuk’s close partner in Ukraine, Vadim Rabinovich, c0-chair of Ukraine’s largest pro-Russian political party:

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

    In 1970, Rabinovich graduated from Kharkiv Secondary School 45 and entered the Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University. From 1973 to 1975, he performed mandatory military service in the Soviet Army’s Air Defense Army. After leaving the army, Rabinovich was a foreman in the repair and construction department of the Kharkiv City Council.

    On January 20, 1980, he was arrested for embezzlement of state funds in especially big amount. Released after a nine-month investigation.[2]

    Between 1980-1982, he heads wooden door production workshops.

    Early in 1982, he was arrested for embezzlement of state fund in especially big amount.[3]

    On February 10, 1984, he was sentenced to 14 years in forced-labor camp by the Kharkiv regional court. Assets were confiscated and professional activity was prohibited for 5 years. Then in the camp, Rabinovych was enrolled in the KGB, nickname Zholud.

    In early 1986, he began operating a business. Being released, Rabinovych along with Andrii Alioshyn establishes the Pinta firm engaged in trading in metal.

    In fall 1993, Rabinovych was appointed as Ukrainian representative of Austrian-based Nordex company. Reputation of Nordex president and a USSR descent and Russian mafia baron Grigory Luchansky affects image of Rabinovych.[4]

    In the early 1990s, Rabinovich was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship and made the aliyah to Israel.[5] In the late 1990s, Rabinovich returned to Ukraine.[5] A naturalized Israeli citizen, Rabinovich maintains homes in Ukraine and Israel.[6]

    Rabinovich had his visa to the United States revoked in 1995, reportedly due to his links to arms dealers.[7]

    In 1997, Rabinovich founded the 1+1 TV channel with Alexander Rodnyansky and Boris Fuksman. In 1996, he was appointed chairman of the Israeli-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce. From 1997 to 2009, Rabinovich was president of the Stolichnye Novosti publishing company.

    • Replies: @AltanBakshi
  98. @AP

    What’s your opinion of Vadim Novinsky? I dont know anything about him, except that he generously supports Russian Orthodox Church, which in my opinion is better way to use ones money than buy yachts and real estate in London. Novinsky seems to be more sympathetic and spiritual than other Ukrainian oligarchs.

    • Replies: @AP
  99. AP says:
    @AltanBakshi

    I don’t know much about him, he seems to be a good man (relatively – is any post-Soviet oligarch who got rich in the 90s really a good man?) and decent patriot – of Russia. He was born in Russia, is a Russian who moved to Ukraine as an adult. Yanukovich gave him Ukrainian citizenship in 2012 by the recommendation of…Poroshenko (!). Not sure why his influence and ongoing presence are tolerated in Ukraine, but who knows what goes on behind the scenes.

    From what I’ve seen he’s certainly much better than Medvedchuk and Rabinovich.

    • Thanks: AltanBakshi

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