The Evolution of Homo Sovieticus to Putin’s Man

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

The Evolution of Homo Sovieticus to Putin’s Man

The tumultuous decades have left their mark on Russians’ inner life

Evgeny Tonkonogy

Lev Gudkov remembers sitting in his Moscow office as a young sociologist, surrounded by stacks of letters.

It was 1989, and for the first time after decades of hushed conversation around kitchen tables, Russians had been asked for their opinions on a range of economic and social issues.

The response was so overwhelming that the nearby post office was instructed to stop deliveries so that the team would not be barricaded in, says Gudkov, head of the independent Levada Center polling agency.

After almost 30 years of sociological research, The Moscow Times asked Gudkov to describe Russians’ changing attitudes and beliefs from perestroika up to today.

Soviet Man

Sovyetsky chelovek (Soviet man) is the archetype of a person born in and shaped by a totalitarian regime. Life in repressive conditions has made him crafty and skilled at doublethink. He knows how to bypass the authorities’ demands while simultaneously maintaining informal and corrupt relations with them.

They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work. They pretend to care for us, we pretend to respect them.

Soviet man demonstrates his loyalty to the authorities through collective symbolism and performance. But his real values and interests are in the private sphere — his home and family.

He has few demands: he knows he has little to no power and deeply mistrusts everyone but those closest to him, expecting nothing good from anyone else.

After living through countless restrictions — the traumas of war, collectivization, modernization, miniscule salaries, residence permits — he just wants one thing: to survive.

Russia and the World

In the 1990s Russia was oriented towards the West and Europe, ready to follow their path. Then, 40 percent of Russians thought their country should join the EU and even NATO. Only 13 percent could name any adversaries: Islamists, the CIA, communists, democrats, and the mafia.

Many more, 47 percent, said: Why are you looking for foes when all our problems are caused by us? This inferiority complex was, in a sense, a condition for reform. People said they’d trade their status as an influential nation in return for calm and stability.

For people accustomed to socialism, the 1990s were pure chaos, with hyperinflation, salaries not being paid on time and job insecurity. People lost their sense of self-respect and dignity.

Then Vladimir Putin arrived on the scene and said: “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. Let’s turn a new page in our history.”

Source: Levada

With that came the conviction that Russia had a right to use force, especially on its borders. Russians’ pride was hurt when former Soviet republics changed alliances. When they had color revolutions or moved to integrate with the West, aggressive feelings spiked, fueled by state propaganda. In November 2013, before the Maidan revolution, around 75 percent of Russians said that Ukraine’s integration into Europe was their own business and that Russia should stay out. Attitudes shifted sharply when media warned against a potential “genocide” of Russians in Donbass and Crimea by Ukrainian “fascists.”

Today in polls, Russians describe the West as coldhearted, lacking in spiritual values, extremely formal and aggressive. Russians no longer believe the Western model is for them — their country has its own “special” path.

Source: Levada

A national inferiority complex and imperial arrogance — these are parts of the same mechanism that allows Russians to come to terms with their lowered status following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But while Putin’s foreign policy enjoys tacit support, it has serious limits. Only around 7 percent of Russians say they’re prepared to make a personal sacrifice to advance the country’s interests abroad. Because people feel they have no decision-making power, they don’t feel responsible for the outcome.

Individual vs. the State

Russians came out of the 1990s with an acquired taste for consumption.

Buffered by the “golden rain” of high oil prices, the market economy finally appeared to be picking up after the 1998 crisis, bringing prosperity.

Under Putin, the state has largely returned to its previous role as a paternalistic caretaker with the redistribution of resources as its main function. “Putin takes care of us” is a frequently-heard response in polls.

Human rights and individual freedoms are just words for the majority of the population. At the same time, attitudes towards repression have softened. Josef Stalin, whose popularity is steadily rising even among those who suffered most under him, is seen as an effective manager who deserves respect. This return to the Soviet concept of governance is most common among the elderly who live in the countryside.

People in cities are more educated, have a broader range of employers other than the state, and have access to several sources of information. But politically active liberal democrats, hardcore conservatives, and communists only make up about 15 percent of the population. The vast majority is completely uninterested in political life. Asked whether they want to be more involved, 85 percent of people say no. Politics, they feel, has nothing to do with them.

Source: Levada

Conservatism

On the one hand, Russians describe their own society as brutish and uncivilized. On the other, they consider themselves to be open and warm, as opposed to the cold, closed, hypocritical people in the West.

Like Snow White’s stepmother, they look in the mirror and ask, “Who is the nicest in the world?” and then answer, “We are!”

After the protests of 2011, religious conservatism was presented as a counterpoint to demand for reform and political opposition. Being Russian has become synonymous with being an Orthodox Christian.

As with most ideologies, this belief is superficial. Orthodox crosses and icons in cars and homes are more elements of superstition than deep religious feeling.

The number of people who describe themselves as religious has increased from 16 percent several decades ago to 77 percent today. But 40 percent out of those “religious people” say they don’t believe in God. Many have never even heard of the pillars of Christian dogma.

Source: Levada

Soviet Man 2017

Sovyetsky chelovek has somewhat changed. He’s been fed, he’s changed his clothes, he’s bought a car and owns a home. But he still feels insecure and vulnerable. And he’s just as aggressive towards his neighbor because there are no institutions that have laid down rules that people follow.

Today the average Russian expects a minimum living standard — work, a home, and some social rights. Private property is valued, but no one expects any guarantees. People know that the government can take away everything they have at any moment and for any reason.

In polls, people say the government represents the interests of the security services, oligarchs and bureaucracy — but not the interests of ordinary people. And they believe this cannot be changed. So, in Soviet fashion, they adapt and make deals with the authorities. Corruption is perceived as both serious and commonplace.

The theory that Russians are somehow not prepared for a liberal democracy is false. Russians today simply reflect and respond to their circumstances. In a different situation they’d behave differently.

Now there is no desire for change. The idealism and romanticism of the perestroika era has evaporated.

The young people who participated in Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption protests are an exception to this rule. But the narrative that a new generation will bring change is a false one. Today, Russia’s Soviet-era institutions stamp out any idealism. It will take more than one generation to change that.

Russia: President Putin’s Birthday, Some Celebrate Some Demonstrate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

To coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s birthday on Saturday, Russian opposition leader and presidential hopeful Alexei Navalny’s campaign has called for nationwide demonstrations.

Navalny was recently sentenced to 20 days behind bars ahead of a campaign event in Nizhny Novgorod.

Protests are planned in 80 Russian cities, from Belgorod, near the Ukrainian border in western Russia, to Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains and Irkutsk, one of Siberia’s largest cities.

Events will be held throughout the day — at 2 p.m. in Moscow and 6 p.m. in St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown. Moscow Times staff will be reporting from both rallies.

Here are the highlights so far:

12 p.m. — Protests have already been held in several Far Eastern cities, including in Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, and Ulan-Ude. Attendance was low, with only dozens of people attending, according to media reports.

, Привокзальная: фотосессия с плакатами. Школьник, которого в лицее гнобили за значки, тоже здесь. 

— In several cities, including in Krasnodar and Smolensk, regional coordinators of the Navalny campaign have been detained and sentenced to several days behind bars for organizing unsanctioned protest rallies, the police monitoring website OVD-Info reports. Other campaign employees, including several lawyers, have also been detained.

В российских городах сегодня пройдут акции в поддержку Алексея Навального pic.twitter.com/UmD5qzVidS

— Ahead of Saturday’s demonstrations, an unidentified source told the Interfax news agency that police in St. Petersburg had been instructed to “act very harshly,” against protesters. On Saturday, photos showed there were renovation works going on at the planned protest site.

Sudden renovation works at the Field of Mars in St. Petersburg, where a rally in ‘s support is ssupposed to take place today https://twitter.com/BukvaCe/status/916560258662879232 

— Some media also report protesters have been detained. The reports have not been confirmed so far.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Protest arrests already being reported by @tvrain. According 2 pro-opposition channel, this old lady ws carried away by 4 officers in Samara

13:39 p.m. — Ahead of the Moscow protest, there is a moderate police presence in the city center. Around 5 law enforcement vans have lined up on Moscow’s Revolution Square, a Moscow Times reporter on the scene reports.

Members of volunteer ‘druzhinniki’ brigades have come out to reinforce police on Pushkin Square.

Around 7 volunteer ‘druzhinniki’ with orange armbands join police ahead of @navalny rally on Pushkin Square: http://bit.ly/2hUL6Oa 

14:00 p.m. — Several hundred people have gathered at Moscow’s Pushkin Square, a low turnout compared to earlier protests.

— A retired man, who asked to be identified only as Sergei, tells The Moscow Times: “I came here to see how the youth will behave.

But what can we expect? They will all be detained. The authorities won’t allow Navalny to do anything, they’ve put him behind bars now.

I worked at a factory for 40 years but my pension is 15,000 rubles ($260).”

— The crowd size has gradually grown, with some Russian media estimating around 500 people have come to Pushkin Square in Moscow. Protesters chant: “Happy birthday, Putin!”, “Free Navalny!,” “Russia without Putin!” and “Navalny is our president!”

15:00 p.m. — The OVD-Info police monitoring website reports that at least 40 people have been detained ahead of and during the Navalny protests in Samara, Izhevsk, Saratov, Pskov, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. In Yekaterinburg, at least 24 people have been detained, according to the Mayor Yevgeny Roizman, who also attended the rally.

Some media report arrests have also begun in Moscow.

Natasha (21): “We are all tired of the economic problems, we are fed up with all the lying and corruption” http://bit.ly/2hUL6Oa 

— St. Petersburg authorities reiterate a warning that attending an illegal rally could lead to arrest, urging residents and visitors to stay away.  A Moscow Times reporter on the site says police have begun patrolling the area ahead of the protest, scheduled for 6 p.m.

There also appears to be construction work going on at the Field of Mars protest site.

Francesca Visser/ For MT

16:00 p.m. — The Interfax news agency cites Moscow police as saying the rally in Moscow has gathered around 700 people, including journalists. As some marched towards the Kremlin, law enforcement closed off Red Square, amid pouring rain.

The rain stops, the crowd stays. Van-mounted police loudspeakers now demanding they disperse. Roads around protest operating normally pic.twitter.com/H4aPUdDNLl

Sorry, tourists – police and riot forces close off Red Square as protestors march down to city centre pic.twitter.com/FfQctIMQEB

View image on Twitter

In St. Petersburg, a Moscow Times reporter counts roughly ten riot police buses and several dozen police cars on standby just behind the Cathedral of Spilled Blood, ahead of the 6.p.m. rally.

— According to new figures from the OVD-Info police monitoring site, around 104 people have been detained in 22 Russian cities — at least 18 people in Yekaterinburg, 12 in Tula, 11 in Saratov, 10 in Samara and 8 in Nizhny Tagil. More people were detained at rallies in Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Perm, St. Petersburg, Pskov, Rostov on Don, Saransk, Sochi, Stavropol, Tver, Tyumen, Yakutsk and Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, as well as Moscow.

In Yekaterinburg, a protester was pictured lying on the ground unconscious surrounded by police, reportedly after being beaten.

In Yekaterinburg someone appears to have lost consciousness, reason unclear. Ppl chant: Release him!

16:45 p.m. — The protest in Moscow is still going strong. Crowds sing the national anthem and the song “Everything is going according to plan,” about the perestroika era.

"Happy birthday, you little thief," this poster reads.

“Happy birthday, you little thief,” this poster reads. Ksenia Churmanova / For MT

17:30 p.m. — In St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, people have begun gathering at the Field of Mars protest location. Ahead of the events, city authorities have warned of detentions.

— Updated figures from the OVD-Info police monitoring website say that 124 people have been detained across 23 Russian cities. Most detentions were carried out in Lipetsk and Yekaterinburg.

— Some of those attending the rallies are teenagers. “I’m not a supporter of either Navalny or Putin,” Alexander, a 15-year-old at the Field of Mars protest site in St. Petersburg told The Moscow Times. “I’m simply here to watch. I know it’s dangerous to be here but it doesn’t matter, I’ll be careful.”

— ” I am here because I am against Putin and his gang,” Valentina Stefanovna, 70, tells The Moscow Times. ” I don’t really like Navalny but I am against what is going on with our government and I am against Putin. I stand for our constitution and I want to see changes in the government.”

Valentina Stefanovna, 70

Valentina Stefanovna, 70 Francesca Visser / For MT

A small group of protesters holding Catalonian flags have appeared on the Field of Mars site, saying they are protesting Spanish police violence.

At @navalny protest site a group of people are protesting against “medieval Spanish police violence” in Catalonia http://bit.ly/2hUL6Oa 

— 18:10 p.m. In Moscow, most protesters have gone home.

The streets have cleared

The streets have cleared Ksenia Churmanova/ For MT

Riot police stands in line by the Kremlin, though most protesters have gone home.

Riot police stands in line by the Kremlin, though most protesters have gone home. Ksenia Churmanova/ For MT

— A loudspeaker announcement is offering free tickets for a screening of the film “Krym,” set in Crimea, a Moscow Times journalist reports from St. Petersburg. Several hundred have begun chanting: “Putin is a thief!” and “Free Navalny!”

Several hundred people have gathered on the Field of Mars site in St. Petersburg

Several hundred people have gathered on the Field of Mars site in St. Petersburg Francesca Visser/ For MT

— Media reports police have begun detaining protesters in St. Petersburg, using force.

21:30 p.m. — The latest figures from OVD-Info say in total 271 people across 26 cities have been detained. Most protesters were detained in St. Petersburg, where riot police detained 62 people, often using force.

With that report, we’re ending today’s live blog. For the news story click here.

Two Years on, the Stakes of Russia’s War in Syria Are Piling (Op-ed)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Two years ago, on Sept. 30, 2015, Russian warplanes launched their first airstrikes in Syria, plunging Russia into a civil war that had already been festering for four years.

Moscow intervened in Syria vowing to fight Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, terrorist groups banned in Russia. Its objective was to transform its relationship with Washington and Brussels by disarming an imminent threat to the West after it had hit Russia with sanctions for the Kremlin’s “adventures in Ukraine.”

Days before the airstrikes began, Putin delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a united front against international terrorism, framing it as the modern equivalent of World War II’s coalition against Hitler.

But two years later, Russia’s hopes of winning concessions in Ukraine for its campaign against Islamic State have come to very little. Putin’s strategic alliance with the United States never materialized.

Russia, however, has met two less lofty goals. One was to rescue the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, Moscow’s longtime ally, from the inevitable defeat at the hands of an armed Sunni rebellion.

Moscow leveraged its ties with Iran, another regime ally, to deploy Shia militias from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the Syrian rebels. This allowed Moscow to send a modest ground force to Syria — artillery and some special operations forces — without a large footprint.

Russia helped Assad recast the civil war and the popular uprising against his regime as a fight against jihadi terrorists by focusing its airstrikes over the last two years on moderate Syrian rebel groups, while paying little attention to Islamic State.

This rendered the conflict black and white — a binary choice between Assad and jihadists. It allowed Moscow to sell its intervention as support for Syria’s sovereignty against anarchy and terrorism. Russia made clear that it saw the path to stability in the Middle East as helping friendly autocrats suppress popular uprisings with force.

At home, the Kremlin sold its Syrian gambit as a way of defeating terrorism before it reached Russian soil. Russia, after all, needed to prevent Russians and Central Asians who joined Islamic State from returning home to wreck havoc at home soil.

Moscow was also able to use Syria as a lab for its newest weaponry.

By workshopping newly-acquired precision cruise-missile strikes, Russia joined the United States in an exclusive arms club. Showcasing military prowess, while keeping casualties figures low — some 40 Russia servicemen died in Syria — it was able to win public support at home for the intervention.

But perhaps most importantly, the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria has reaffirmed Russia’s status as a global superpower which is capable of projecting force far from its own borders.

Andrei Luzik / Russian Navy Northern Fleet Press Office / TASS

While Moscow may have been offended by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s dismissive description of Russia as a “regional power,” it impressed Arab leaders with its unwavering support for Assad, which was important at a time when U.S. commitment to allies’ security and the stability in the region was in doubt.

Moscow’s backing of Assad ensured it had channels with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, despite their support for Syrian rebels. It was even able to convince the Gulf to wind down its support for the opposition as a Russia-led victory for the regime became inevitable.

Russia’s alliances with Jordan and Egypt proved useful in setting up direct lines to armed opposition groups to reach de-escalation agreements. And even as it fights alongside Shia Iran, Moscow has avoided being drawn into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states.

Russia’s most stunning diplomatic coup was to change Turkey’s calculus in the war from a proxy adversary into a major partner in securing the decisive victory in Aleppo. Through the Astana process, Russia alongside Turkey wound down fighting with moderate rebels.

Russia’s victory in Syria was helped by Washington’s decision not to immerse itself into Syria and a war by proxy with Russia. Instead, the U.S. focused its military operations on defeating Islamic State in eastern Syria.

Now, with de-escalation in western Syria, regime forces and Russian airpower are turned to defeating Islamic State, which has brought them into contact with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advancing from the northeast as part of their offensive to liberate Raqqa from Islamic State.

The potential for a U.S.-Russia kinetic collision in Syria with unpredictable consequences is escalating. This highlights the looming endgame in Syria and the choices Moscow and Washington will have to make moving forward.

Washington needs to decide whether it wants to stay in Syria for counterinsurgency operations to prevent the re-emergence of Islamic State. It may also decide to block Iran from establishing the “Shia land bridge” from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean.

But this entails supporting the SDF and helping them control sizeable real estate northeast of the Euphrates river and blocking regime forces and Russia from advancing east.

Moscow needs to decide whether it wants to be dragged into Assad and Iran’s strategy of ensuring a complete military victory in Syria and preventing the opposition from exercising any autonomous self-rule. That could see Russia pulled into a nasty proxy fight with the Americans.

Two years after Russia intervened in Syria, the war may be winding down. But the stakes for Moscow and Washington are stacking.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

Related

America’s new world order is dead:—China And Russia Are The New World Order?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JAPAN TIMES)

 

America’s new world order is dead

China and Russia have derailed the post-Cold War movement toward U.S.-led global integration

BY 

BLOOMBERG

American foreign policy has reached a historic inflection point, and here’s the surprise: It has very little to do with the all-consuming presidency and controversies of Donald Trump.

For roughly 25 years after the Cold War, one of the dominant themes of U.S. policy was the effort to globalize the liberal international order that had initially taken hold in the West after World War II. Washington hoped to accomplish this by integrating the system’s potential challengers — namely Russia and China — so deeply into it that they would no longer have any desire to disrupt it. The goal was, by means of economic and diplomatic inducement, to bring all the world’s major powers into a system in which they would be satisfied — and yet the United States and its values would still reign supreme.

This was a heady ambition, one that was based on the idea that Russia and China were heading irreversibly down the path of political and economic liberalization, and that they could eventually be induced to define their interests in a way compatible with America’s own.

Yet that project has now unmistakably reached a dead end. The new goal of U.S. strategy won’t be to integrate rival great powers into a truly global world order, but to defend the existing international system — successful yet incomplete as it is — against their depredations.

This conclusion may be difficult to accept, because it flies in the face of the enormous optimism that characterized the post-Cold War era. As the superpower contest ended, democracy and free markets were spreading like wildfire, walls were falling and geopolitical divisions were disappearing.

Even Russia and China — America’s longtime geopolitical rival and the next great power looming on the horizon — were showing interest in greater cooperation and integration with the U.S.-led international community. It seemed possible that the world was moving toward a single model of political and economic organization, and a single global system under American leadership.

Encouraging this outcome became a chief preoccupation of American policy. The U.S. sought to deepen diplomatic ties with Boris Yeltsin’s Russia and to encourage democratic and free-market reforms there, even as it hedged against potential Russian revanchism and European instability by expanding NATO to include the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.

Similarly, Washington pursued “comprehensive engagement” toward China, focused on integrating Beijing into the global economy and encouraging it to take a more active role in regional and international diplomacy. The theory of the case was that a richer China would eventually become a more democratic China, as the growth of the middle class produced pressures for political reform. America’s integration policy would simultaneously give Beijing an equity stake in the existing, U.S.-led liberal order and thereby deprive Chinese leaders of reasons for challenging it.

As President Bill Clinton’s administration described it, this approach was one of “seizing on the desire of both countries to participate in the global economy and global institutions, insisting that both accept the obligations as well as the benefits of integration.”

This strategy, which was summed up by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in 2005 as the “responsible stakeholder” model, reflected an admirable aspiration to permanently leave behind the intense geopolitical and ideological competition of the 20th century. Yet, as has become increasingly clear over the last decade — first in Russia, and now in China — that approach was based on two assumptions that have not withstood the test of reality.

The first was that China and Russia were indeed moving inexorably toward Western-style economic and political liberalism. Russian reform ground to a halt in the late 1990s, amid economic crisis and political chaos. Over the next 15 years, Vladimir Putin gradually re-established a governing model of increasingly undisguised political authoritarianism and ever-closer collusion between the state and major business interests.

In China, economic growth and integration into the global economy did not lead inevitably to political liberalization. The ruling Communist Party instead used dizzying economic growth rates as a way of purchasing legitimacy and buying off dissent. In recent years, the Chinese political system has actually become more authoritarian, as the government has assiduously repressed human rights advocacy and independent political activism, and centralized power to a degree not seen in decades.

The second assumption was that these powers could be induced to define their own interests the way the U.S. wanted them to. The trouble here was that Russia and China were never willing fully to embrace the U.S.-led liberal order, which emphasized liberal ideas that were bound to seem threatening to dictatorial regimes — not to mention the expansion of NATO into Moscow’s former sphere of influence and the persistence of U.S. alliances and military forces all along China’s East Asia periphery. And so, as Beijing and Moscow obtained, or regained, the power to contest that order, they increasingly did so.

Russia has, over the past decade, sought to revise the post-Cold War settlement in Europe by force and intimidation, most notably through the invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. Putin’s government has also worked to undermine key institutions of the liberal order such as NATO and the European Union, and it has aggressively meddled in the elections and domestic political affairs of Western states.

China, for its part, has been happy to reap the benefits of inclusion in the global economy, even as it has increasingly sought to dominate its maritime periphery, coerce and intimidate neighbors from Vietnam to Japan, and weaken U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

American officials hoped that Moscow and Beijing might eventually become satisfied, status quo powers. Instead, as Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution has written, they are behaving in classic revisionist fashion.

The age of integration is thus over, in the sense that there is no realistic, near-term prospect of bringing either Russia or China into an American-led system. This does not mean, however, that America is destined for war with Russia and China, or even that it should seek fully to isolate either power.

For better or worse, U.S.-China trade remains vital to American prosperity and the health of the global economy; cooperation between Washington and Beijing — and even Washington and Moscow — is important to addressing international diplomatic challenges such as nuclear proliferation and climate change.

What this does mean, however, is that the U.S. needs to become both tougher and less ambitious in its approach to great-power relations and the international system. Less ambitious in the sense that it needs to set aside the notion that the liberal order will become truly global or encompass all the major powers anytime soon. And tougher in the sense of understanding that more strenuous efforts will be required to defend the existing order against the challenge that revisionist power represent.

This will require taking difficult but necessary steps, such as making the military investments needed to shore up U.S. power and deterrence in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific, and developing capabilities needed to oppose Chinese coercion and Russian political subversion of their neighbors. It will require rallying old and new partners against the threat posed by Russian and Chinese expansionism. Above all, it will mean accepting that great-power relations are entering a period of greater danger and tension, and that a willingness to accept greater costs and risks will be the price of meeting the revisionist challenge and preserving American interests.

In short, the goal of achieving a fully integrated world is no longer achievable today. Successfully defending the existing international order that the U.S. has successfully constructed and led over the years will be challenge — and accomplishment — enough.

Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Trump’s Personal Attorney Reached Out To The Kremlin For Help During The Campaign

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

President Donald Trump’s attorney reached out to the Kremlin for assistance in building a Trump Tower in Moscow well into the business mogul’s presidential campaign, he said Monday, adding that he discussed the project with Trump three times.

The attorney, Michael Cohen, denied that the project was related “in any way” to Trump’s campaign, though the developments appear to contradict Trump’s vehement denials of any such business connections to Russia in the past.
Previous reports have indicated that efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow were underway during the presidential campaign in 2015, but it had not been reported that those efforts continued into 2016.
“The Trump Moscow proposal was simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected,” Cohen said in a written statement.
“In late January 2016, I abandoned the Moscow proposal because I lost confidence that the prospective licensee would be able to obtain the real estate, financing and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition,” he added. “It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”
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Cohen’s own attorney provided documents to the House intelligence committee that included a reference to the Moscow project. In a second, separate statement Monday, Cohen said the proposal “was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Both I and the Trump Organization were evaluating this proposal and many others from solely a business standpoint, and rejected going forward on that basis.”
Cohen told CNN he reached out to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, describing the message as “an email that went unanswered that was solely regarding a real estate deal and nothing more.” In the second statement, Cohen said he contacted Peskov after it was suggested that the proposal would require approval by the Russian government, but that it was never provided.
Trump and Cohen discussed the proposal three times, though Cohen said he “never considered asking Mr. Trump to travel to Russia in connection with this proposal” and did not brief on him on his decision to terminate the development.
Cohen told CNN that the conversations were “short.” The first was to inform him about negotiations happening for a possible deal. Second time was to sign a letter of intent. The third time was letting him know that the deal was off after he decided himself to terminate it.
Cohen said the proposal was under consideration from September 2015 until the end of January 2016 and progressed to soliciting building designs and negotiations over financing.
The Washington Post, citing several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers, first reported the project, which involved Russian-born developer Felix Sater.
The Post said that Sater “urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get Russian President Vladimir Putin to say ‘great things’ about Trump.” Cohen said he determined that the proposal was “not feasible.”
According to the Post, in a November 2015 email to Cohen, who at the time was executive vice president of the Trump Organization, Sater also said that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating the real estate project and Trump’s election.
In a statement Monday, Cohen said Sater has “sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to ‘salesmanship.'”
The Trump Organization has signed similar letters in the past, pursuing deals in Russia and elsewhere only to see those efforts fall through in the initial stages.
Cohen has been a central focus for investigators on the House intelligence committee who are digging into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — he is one of only two people to have been subpoenaed by the committee so far; the other is former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump’s involvement and awareness of the negotiations remains unclear and there is no public record that Trump has ever spoken about the effort to build a Trump Tower in 2015 and 2016. Trump denied having any business interests in Russia in July 2016, tweeting, “for the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.” He then reiterated that point again at a news conference the following day, telling reporters “I have nothing to do with Russia.”
However, Trump has spoken out in news interviews and in sworn depositions about his previous efforts to develop properties in Russia, which date back decades, praising the market there as ripe for investment. Messages left with the White House were not returned Monday.
Sater confirmed to CNN that he put together a real estate proposal for the development of “the world’s tallest building in Moscow” in the latter half of 2015, and presented the development to Cohen, which resulted in a signed Letter of Intent for the project. Cohen was the only member of the Trump Organization he communicated with on the project, Sater said, and added that he would not have been compensated by the Trump Organization if the project had been successful.
“During the course of our communications over several months, I routinely expressed my enthusiasm regarding what a tremendous opportunity this was for the Trump Organization,” he said. “Ultimately, in January 2016, Michael informed me that the Trump Organization decided not to move forward with the project.”
But his interest in developing a project in Russia has been well documented, and Trump himself said he wanted to build a Trump property in Moscow at the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
Cohen said he worked with a Moscow-based development company, I.C. Expert Investment Company, through Sater. The Trump Organization would license the Trump name for the building. Other reports have detailed similar efforts between Trump and Aras Agalarov, an Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch close to Putin.
Agalarov is also tied to the June 2016 meeting Donald Trump Jr. attended on the premise that he would receive dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Kremlin — the publicist for Agalarov’s son first proposed the meeting to Trump Jr. in an email made public last month.
New details about Trump’s business deals also come as federal investigators have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward, people familiar with the investigation told CNN earlier this month.

Trump spoke positively of Putin

While Cohen was working on the Trump Tower deal, Trump was speaking positively about working with Putin and also minimizing Russia’s aggressive military moves around the world. His openness to Putin, and his willingness to accept narratives favored by the Kremlin, contrasted strongly with not only his Republican opponents but also with the Obama administration.
“I would talk to him, I would get along with him,” Trump said about Putin at a Republican primary debate in September 2015. “I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with.”
At that debate, moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper, Trump went on to suggest that the US stand back as Russia fought ISIS in Syria. But Obama administration officials at the time were saying that Russia wasn’t going after ISIS but instead was targeting other Syrian rebel groups, some of whom were trained and armed by the US government.
Two months later, Trump quickly pivoted when asked on the debate stage what he would do about Russia’s aggressive moves in both Syria and Ukraine, where it annexed the Crimean peninsula and has supported a separatist insurgency since 2014.
“First of all, it’s not only Russia,” he said. “We have problems with North Korea, where they actually have nuclear weapons.”
This friendly posture toward Russia continued after the Trump Tower deal was terminated. During a March 2016 debate, Trump lavished the Russian leader, who has been criticized for rigging elections, killing his enemies and crippling free speech.
“As far as Putin is concerned, I think Putin has been a very strong leader for Russia,” Trump said. “I think he has been a lot stronger than our leader, that I can tell you. I mean, for Russia. That doesn’t mean I’m endorsing Putin.”

Muslims in the Former Soviet Union Rally Behind Myanmar’s Besieged Rohingya

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Muslims in the Former Soviet Union Rally Behind Myanmar’s Besieged Rohingya

‘Rohingya’. Creative commons image by Flickr user Rockefeller.

Over the past few weeks, Russia’s North Caucasus republics and the ex-Soviet states of Central Asia have seen an explosion of interest in the plight of Myanmar’s besieged Rohingya minority, who share the Islamic faith dominant across the region.

According to the United Nations over 270,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state for Bangladesh amid a campaign of government-backed violence sparked in part by a standoff with militants during the last two weeks. Al Jazeera and aid agencies estimate almost a million members of the stateless minority have fled Myanmar since the late 1970s.

Several large, seemingly Whatsapp-fuelled rallies against the violence have already taken place in Moscow and Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. The rallies went ahead in spite of Russia’s seeming official position on Myanmar, that saw it block a UN Security Council resolution regarding state-sponsored violence against the Rohingya earlier this year. In ex-Soviet Central Asia, while no-one took to the streets, a football match featuring Myanmar’s international team was cancelled over security fears and Facebook posts, petitions and even poetry in support of the Rohingya flooded timelines.

A strongman takes a stand

The Moscow rallies that took place on September 3 and 4 were unsanctioned in a country where the right to protest is strictly controlled. The first Moscow rally didn’t result in any arrests, despite heavy police presence, but 17 people were briefly detained on Monday at a follow-up rally. According to reports in the Russian media, WhatsApp groups served as a the main hub for organizing the protests.

Chechnya’s controversial leader Ramzan Kadyrov has played a leading role in organising the response to a sudden surge of violence and state-driven persecution in the Southeast Asian country. Kadyrov, famed for gay-bashing and fiery tirades in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has used social media to strike out against world leaders for their inaction. On September 4 he staged a rally attended by tens of thousands — the official claim was a million people, or almost 80 percent of the republic’s total population — in the Chechen capital Grozny. On Thursday, three days after the Grozny rally, Kadyrov made another statement on Instagram, saying that no further protests will be necessary as enough awareness had been raised.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year. Russian government photo. Creative commons.

By that point Kadyrov had already hinted that Moscow should step up pressure on Myanmar, while claiming he would launch a nuclear strike against the Rohingya’s oppressors if he was able to.

He later said the comments — which analysts called alarming for his superiors in the Kremlin — had been taken out of context by his enemies. Russia’s foreign ministry warned against putting pressure on Myanmar on June 8.

Given Kadyrov’s uncompromising stance on Myanmar, it is no surprise that social media users from Chechnya have been among the loudest voices backing the Rohingya on Russian social media. Users from neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia have also been vocal even as citizens in Russia’s other majority Muslim federal republics, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, largely ignored the issue.

This North Caucasus bias was reflected in Yandex, Russia’s largest national search engine, reporting a sharp increase in searches about Myanmar (Мьянма in Cyrillic) coming from the region.

Support for the Rohingya cause across the region has a pop-up feel. Many long-standing Islamic-themed Vkontakte pages have transformed themselves into 24/7 pro-Rohingya advocacy channels overnight. Most are explicitly run by and aimed at residents of Chechnya.

Pro-Rohingya meme widely shared on Russian social media

One such online community, [V]Chechnye ([In]Chechnya), has posted at least 43 messages relating to the Rohingya crisis since September 1. Messages include video appeals informing Muslims of the atrocities against the Rohingya, calls to sign a Change.org petition, and allegations that anti-Muslim violence in traditionally Buddhist regions of Russia such as Kalmykia goes unpunished (incidents reported in the Russian media, such as a prayer room in Elista, Kalmykia’s capital, being torched by unidentified assailants, and a pig’s head thrown into a village mosque, were mentioned).

Some have gone as far as recruiting volunteers online to join a “holy jihad” to save their brethren in Myanmar.

One page, Overheard in Chechnyapublished a post bringing attention to the September 4 rally, adding bullet-pointed instructions on how to keep the online campaign alive.

They are experiencing what we cannot even imagine!
#Rohingyawearewithyou
ALLAHU AKBAR
Tomorrow (04.09), a rally near Grozny’s central mosque!!
Don’t be indifferent!!!!
Max repost!!

Let’s all hold a rally on social media!!! All! All of you! Everyone who opposes the genocide in Myanmar!!! Your faith, denomination or nationality don’t matter!!!
Replace your Instagram, What’s App [sic], Vkontakte etc profile picture with the following image (share both the text and the image)
DON’T LIKE IMAGES AND VIDEOS NOT RELATED TO THE CAMPAIGN! So that the genocide stays on top of most discussed posts!!! So that everyone knows!!!
DISSEMINATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE RALLY AMONG EVERYONE YOU KNOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Let the whole world know that we won’t just let the story go!!! We are prepared to go any length to save innocent people!!!
USE THE HASHTAG #ROHINGYAWEAREWITHYOU

Even My Private Aul, an anonymous online community for gay persons from Northern Caucasus — arguably one of the most marginalized and persecuted groups in Russia — posted an appeal to sign a petition addressed to Russia’s UN envoy.

The petition, which at the time of writing has over 160 thousand signatures, urges the the Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzya to support a UN Security Council resolution on violence in Myanmar, rather than vetoing it with China, as happened earlier this year.

Political football and poems of woe

Over on the other side of the Caspian Sea in the Central Asian states once part of the Soviet Union there has also been a strong reaction to violence in Myanmar. This was most apparent in Kyrgyzstan, where the government cancelled a scheduled Asia Cup football qualifying fixture with Myanmar, amid concerns over a potential terror threat and fan clashes with Burmese players.

Many Kyrgyz social media users thought this was an overreaction. But officials were clearly nervous in the build-up to the game, as social media users called variously for a boycott of the match, a peaceful protest outside the stadium and a minute’s silence in respect of the Rohingya victims prior to kick off.

The football federation, whose Facebook page was overwhelmed by criticisms of Myanmar and support for the Rohingya, posted a plea for order before the country’s Prime Minister eventually moved to cancel the game:

We position ourselves as a friendly and hospitable nation!!! Like all we condemn and mourn what is happening to Muslims in Myanmar! Nevertheless…let’s show on September 5 that we don’t give in to provocations. Let’s support our guys in a friendly fashion!

Not all Kyrgyz have been impressed by online pro-Rohingya messaging. One post in the group We are for a Democratic and Secular Kyrgyzstan (In Russian Мы за СВЕТСКИЙ, ДЕМОКРАТИЧЕСКИЙ КЫРГЫЗСТАН!) hinted at frustrations over pan-Islamic sympathies and posts written “stupidly for likes and comments”.

In this post a Facebook user criticizes another user for writing posts “stupidly for likes and comments”. The original post calls on Muslims to pray for the Rohingya and for God to punish their persecutors “in the harshest possible way.”

The violence in Myanmar also inspired a number of lyrical tributes. Here citizens of Tajikistan came into their own. One website focused on the country counted at least five Tajik poems on social media, themed on the unfolding tragedy in Myanmar.

A woman poet Shoira Rahimjon wrote:

I’ll go to Myanmar!
To tell Burma not to take hopes from
My poor pregnant sister,
Not to burn my nation,
Not to take my soul,

I’ll go right now!
To take Burma to the house of justice,
And to the home of forgiveness

Although the Grozny and Moscow protests may have played a role in drawing Central Asians towards the Rohingya cause, it is worth considering that the opportunity for solidarity presented to them by the conflict in Myanmar is also an opportunity for self defence.

While all five countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) have majority-Muslim populations, they also share aggressively secular authoritarian governments, who fear growing religious adherence is undermining their authority.

Tajik migrants gather on a Moscow street for Eid al-Fitr prayers. Praying on the street is banned in Tajikistan. Photo by David Trilling for Eurasianet.org. Used with permission.

Last week Tajikistan moved to ban the Islamic hijab covering from schools completely while mobile service providers mobbed citizens with SMS messages stressing the need to wear non-religious “national” clothes. Neighbours Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are routinely recognised by the US state department as “countries of particular concern” in regards to religious freedom. Kazakhstan is seemingly movingin a similar direction.

For citizens in these countries then, the plight of a geographically distant community whose religion they share has offered a chance to amplify concerns about injustices committed against Muslims the world over, without too much fear at the consequences of speaking out.

For Ramzan Kadyrov over in Chechnya, the Rohingya tragedy perhaps represents something even greater: a bid for power and influence across the Muslim world.

FBI Special Council Mueller Gets Important Warrant: Trump And Family Federal Prison Bound?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

  • Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant for records of “inauthentic” Facebook accounts
  • It’s bad news for Russian election interference “deniers”
  • Mueller may be looking to charge specific foreign entities with a crime

FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the “inauthentic” accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election.

The warrant was first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday night and the news was later confirmed by CNN.

Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team.

“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime.

Mueller would not have sought a warrant targeting Facebook as a company, Rangappa noted. Rather, he would have been interested in learning more about specific accounts.

“The key here, though, is that Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info,” she said. “That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues of Russian election interference.”

It also means that Mueller is no longer looking at Russia’s election interference from a strict counterintelligence standpoint — rather, he now believes he may be able to obtain enough evidence to charge specific foreign entities with a crime.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, now a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, said that the revelation Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content “may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.”

The FBI conducted a predawn July raid on the home of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in late July. The bureau is reportedly investigating Manafort’s financial history and overseas business dealings as part of its probe into possible collusion between the campaign and Moscow.

jared kushnerWhite House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump answer questions regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Facebook warrant “means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with an election,” Mariotti wrote on Saturday.

“It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things: first, that there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second, that evidence of the crime existed on Facebook.”

That has implications for Trump and his associates, too, Mariotti said.

“It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That’s aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller’s search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged.”

Congressional intelligence committees are homing in on the campaign’s data operation as a potential trove of incriminating information.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC earlier this month that he wants to know how sophisticated the Russian-bought ads were — in terms of their content and targets — to determine whether they had any help from the Trump campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee also wants to interview the digital director for Trump’s campaign, Brad Parscale, who worked closely with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Kushner was put in charge of the campaign’s entire data operation and is  now being scrutinized by the FBI over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.

Facebook said in its initial statement that about 25% of the ads purchased by Russians during the election “were geographically targeted,” and many analysts have found it difficult to believe that foreign entities would have had the kind of granular knowledge of American politics necessary to target specific demographics and voting precincts.

In a post-election interview, Kushner told Forbes that he had been keenly interested in Facebook’s “micro-targeting” capabilities from early on.

“I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner said.

“We brought in Cambridge Analytica,” he continued. “I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world, a nd I asked them how to scale this stuff . . . We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.”

President Putin Offered A Plan For Full And Immediate Normalization Ties With The U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)Russia offered a plan to the United States for a full and immediate move toward normalization — or a restoration of diplomatic ties — in the opening weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration, the Kremlin confirmed Wednesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that “of course” Russia floated proposals such as this one to the US.
“Moscow systematically advocated for a resumption of the dialogue, for an exchange of opinion and for attempts at finding joint solutions,” Peskov said. “But, unfortunately, it saw no reciprocity.”
Peskov said Russia’s proposals had come through in parts and a summary of the offer went through diplomatic channels.
News of the plan first came to light in a BuzzFeed News report after the outlet obtained a document which outlined the proposal a top Russian diplomat made directly to the US State Department.
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Asked about the report, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert would neither confirm nor deny its accuracy. Nauert said in general terms that the US and Russia share the goal of improving diplomatic relations between the countries.
A Russian official confirmed to CNN that the document was authentic.
“We are sorry to hear that documents keep leaking from the (Trump) administration, though it shows that Russia keeps doing its best to normalize relations‎,” the official said.
Earlier Tuesday, Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon met with his Russian counterpart in Finland. The meeting was their third of the year to discuss so-called “irritants” in the relationship. Nauert said the meeting provided an opportunity to “raise questions or concerns,” but did not say if the two had resolved anything.
The proposal, BuzzFeed wrote, called for the US to restore all channels — diplomatic, military and intelligence — that had been cut following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and intervention in Syria.
In the coming months, the proposal called for Russia and the US to collaborate on information security, Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, North Korea and eventually a full face-to-face meeting between the top national security officials of the two nations.
Relations between the United States and Russia have soured considerably since the opening of the Trump administration, when many expected Trump might bring the nations closer together as he said repeatedly was his goal during the campaign.
Russian military involvement in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an attempt to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, has cast a shadow on the US side over the potential rapprochement.
The US under then-President Barack Obama increased sanctions on Russia following the country’s alleged election interference, and moved to shutter some of the Kremlin’s facilities in the US.
Trump met with Putin face-to-face in a scheduled meeting at the G20 summit in July then spoke again during an unannounced conversation at a dinner for world leaders during the summit. Trump went on to propose a joint US-Russia cyber effort, then after sustained criticism of the proposal, Trump said he knew “it can’t” happen.
Russia responded in kind to the US’ sanctions after several months delay and ordered large cutsin the US diplomatic staff in Russia. Around the same time, Trump signed a bill putting more sanctions on Russia and restricting his ability to lift them.
He also thanked Putin for forcing the US to reduce its diplomatic staff in a comment the White House later described as sarcastic. Before Moscow’s deadline for the US to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia, the US ordered the closure of three Russian facilities in the US.

Russian politician: US spies slept while Russia elected Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Russian politician: US spies slept while Russia elected Trump

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Russian parliament, made the snarky comment
  • Nikonov’s tone suggests that the remarks were made in jest

Washington (CNN)A Russian politician appeared to mock the US intelligence community in a recent television appearance, saying American spies “slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, made the snarky reference to Russian interference in the 2016 US election on Sunday during a weekly political show called “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.”
“(To achieve world dominance) the US overextended themselves,” Nikonov said. “Because the most recent tendencies, economical, military, even tendencies in the intelligence (services) which slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”
“It’s just ridiculous, what kind of intelligence in the USA one can even talk about?” he added. “The US sagged in all these aspects for the past two decades. This superpower is losing its ability to define the world.”
The comments were first noticed by Julia Davis, who runs a website that is largely critical of Russian media called “Russia Lies.”
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While Nikonov’s tone suggests that the remarks were made in jest for the purpose of arguing the point that American power in the world was declining, his jab at US intelligence services comes amid several ongoing investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, including a probe into alleged collusion with members of the Trump campaign.
The US government publicly announced in October that it was “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to the election.
And in January, days before President Donald Trump took office, the US intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at hurting Trump’s rival, Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump has branded the investigation the “single greatest witch hunt” in political history and consistently questioned the intelligence community’s findings well into his presidency.
Since the election, Trump has appeared to view suggestions of Russian meddling as a Democratic effort to de-legitimize his election win, even though the intelligence community did not conclude that Russian efforts made a difference in the election result.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in any attempts to influence last year’s US Presidential election.
When asked directly whether Russia interfered in the election, Putin said in March: “Read my lips: No.” He also described the allegations as “fictional, illusory, provocations and lies.”
At a June economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin compared accusations of Russian meddling in the US election to anti-Semitism and labeled the reports of then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s meetings with Trump associates as “hysteria,” saying the envoy was simply doing what he’s paid to do.
In March, CNN reported that Kislyak is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington, citing senior US government officials. Russia’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected the allegations.
Kislyak downplayed his contact with members of the Trump campaign in an exclusive interview with CNN last month, calling allegations that he worked as a spymaster and tried to recruit people within Trump’s orbit “nonsense.”

Presidents Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump: 3 Demonic Souls?

Please Take The Time To Reference The Book Of Revelation For Greater Understanding

 

I have been debating how to write this article for about a month now, I have even been debating how to word the title also. I had been thinking about making the title something like ‘Are These 3 Men 3 Beasts Of Revelation’, yet as I started writing the title I changed it to what you see now. Obviously I am trying to tweak folks interest enough to get them to take a few moments to stop in, read and contemplate what I am going to say to you here in this article today. I hope that you enjoy the read, I hope that I am able to get you to think and maybe even get you to reread the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.

 

As this system that we all live in keeps getting worse as it and we are spiraling toward the ‘End Of Days’ spoken of several times throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. The Rapture, the second coming of Christ, will not come today or tomorrow, I can say this with total confidence simply because all of the Bible’s end of time prophecies have not been fulfilled yet. For those of you who are unaware of it the Rapture is when Armageddon will happen. Armageddon is when the governments and their armies and their people fight against God and His Angels and the people are crushed like grapes in a wine-press. When Christ returns one of the first things that will happen is the Demons who posed as world leaders will straightway be cast into Hell. This will happen because they have already been judged and found guilty by God. This is when the people will see and understand that they have been deceived by their Demonic Leaders and it will be too late for those poor Souls then. These humans are the ones who allowed these evil governments and their leaders to insert computer chips in their hands or in their head. This, is the ‘Mark of the Beast’, the Devil’s mark, the way that the governments will get all the people to bow down to them.

 

As time closes out the broader circle of world power will continue to shrink into fewer and fewer hands. There will come a time when almost all of the worlds military and economic power will rest in the hands of 10 governments, 10 Leaders. This system will then be usurped by just 3 seats of power, then finally just one. I believe that the 3 world powers will come from 3 regions of the world. Please think of the globe in the means of north to south planes. One of these 3 great powers will come from Asia so almost without a doubt, China. Another of the 3 great powers will come from the center area. I believe that Russia in time will dominate Europe, don’t laugh folks, President Putin if he wished to do it can right now turn off the oil and gas to Europe. With no energy all of their economies will quickly implode or Russia could play the ‘good neighbor’ and end up having a seat at the EU table. Then you have the western hemisphere, the Americas, most likely dominated by the U.S.. These 3 will be usurped by ‘The” Anti-Christ who will come up from underneath them and the 3 will give all their power to their Master, “The” Anti-Christ which is the Devil Himself.

 

Do I really believe that the 3 Presidents that I mentioned in the title are or will be the 3 who will control these 3 realms? Do I really believe that these 3 men are evil, yes I do. Everyone’s body is like unto a house and this house can only have 3 options, I am referring to the Spiritual plane . One option is the house is empty, anther option is the house is the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit, and the third option is that it is occupied by at least one Demonic Spirit. A demon can not enter where the Holy Spirit resides so they cannot share one house. Where the Holy Spirit is, no Demon is there. So, these three Presidents are just like you and I in regard to our bodies being a dwelling place, a house, a home. There is a such a thing as a person who chooses to be evil by their nature, one does not need a Demonic presence to be hate filled, egotistical and selfish, way to many humans manage that all on their own dime. Now do I believe that these 3 Presidents I mentioned are going to be the “big 3” very shortly before the ‘end of days’? Honestly, I think probably not, but is it possible? Yes it is possible, certainly these 3 men fit the profile and I believe that in China and in Russia their two current Presidents have no intention of ever letting go of the power they now have. Trump, who knows about this egomaniac. Pope Francis last year questioned Trumps faith and his being pro-life and Mr. Trump rebutted that “no religious leader should ever question another man faith.” A couple of things, yes, it is exactly what a religious leaders job is in part to question people’s faith. Yet in Mr. Trumps case it is my belief that you cannot question something that does not exist.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little ‘future’ history discussion. I hope that you will take an hour or so and read through the Book Of Revelation again. I also hope that if you have any questions, please ask them I will give you the most honest and truthful answers that I know of. God’s love and peace I wish to each and every one of you, God bless.