Aleppo, Ukraine, Cyber Attacks, Baltic Threats: What Should We Do About Putin? [The Guardian] “The challenge presented by Russia is one of the biggest facing the next US president. Some analysts say Putin is taking advantage of Obama’s lame duck status to create “facts on the ground” in Syria. The Russian president is said to anticipate a further deterioration in bilateral relations if Hillary Clinton wins. The two have a history of personal dislike, dating back to Clinton’s time as secretary of state. “She says she sees in him a cold-blooded, self-enriching KGB agent and a bully; he remembers how she appeared to encourage street protests against him in 2011,” said analyst Leonid Bershidsky. Speaking in August, Clinton described Putin as “the grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism” – lumping him with Trump, German anti-immigrant xenophobes and hard-right populists such as France’s Marine Le Pen.” [more inside]
Coming off Labor Day weekend, the POTUS candidates answered questions in the first Commander in Chief Forum, the clear loser of which was Matt Lauer. Hillary managed to move attention to Trump's "basket of deplorables" for a day, but then drew it back to herself by stumbling or collapsing while leaving a 9/11 memorial. Her camp blamed dehydration, then revealed she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. [more inside]
A conversation with Ilya Ponomarev, an exiled dissident Russian State Duma Deputy living in San Jose - "When the Russian government voted to annex Crimea last year, only one member of parliament stood in opposition—Ilya Ponomarev. The final tally was 445 to 1, with Ponomarev wanting the world to know that the annexation did not have unanimous support. He is now barred from returning home to Russia. First elected to Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in 2007, Ponomarev became a leader of political protests that shook Moscow before Putin's return to the presidency in 2012. Now, the Russian parliament has voted overwhelming to strip Ponomarev of the immunity from prosecution granted to lawmakers by the Russian Constitution. How long can this government maintain control by silencing these voices of opposition? With elections scheduled for next year, what is the future of Putin's government and Russia's relationship with the United States?" [more inside]
The Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System - the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society sends out a message of peace, love, understanding and respect to Russian submariners cruising through the Stockholm archepelago
Putin Has Vanished, but Rumors Are Popping Up Everywhere.
“I have enough trouble keeping track of the whereabouts of one world leader,” said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. “I would refer you to the Russians for questions on theirs. I’m sure they’ll be very responsive.”This is, in large part, a crisis of the Kremlin’s making. (Previously)
Putin's Russia: Like a gangster running a crime syndicate, Putin muscles opponents and assassinates critics. Nonetheless, his bid in Ukraine may be reactionary to NATO edging closer to Russia's borders. As Dan Carlin notes, it's as if Russia began training Mexican soldiers. Meanwhile, everyone needs a hero.
Most people in the English-speaking parts of the world missed Putin's speech at the Valdai conference in Sochi a few days ago, and, chances are, those of you who have heard of the speech didn't get a chance to read it, and missed its importance. (For your convenience, I am pasting in the full transcript of his speech below.) Western media did their best to ignore it or to twist its meaning. Regardless of what you think or don't think of Putin (like the sun and the moon, he does not exist for you to cultivate an opinion) this is probably the most important political speech since Churchill's “Iron Curtain” speech of March 5, 1946.Via includes tl;dr of top 10 points
What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now? "With all eyes on Russia, two members of the country’s most notorious band of shit-stirrers are free after nearly two years of political imprisonment and enjoying the rock-star treatment during their first trip to the U.S. But the group’s unlikely journey from art-school project to international icons shows just how rotten Russia has become and how much the mission has changed."
Suzdal awaited the Emperor's arrival... So the ancient Russian town had to acquire a duly imperial lustre, somehow, anyhow. [more inside]
"Putin has long kept a veil of secrecy over his personal life. Thus, he startled the world with an abrupt announcement on state television in June that he was divorcing his wife, Lyudmila, after 29 years of marriage. The news revived long-running speculation that the 60-year-old president was seeing another woman, possibly the 30-year-old Kabaeva, a State Duma deputy with United Russia and one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of rhythmic gymnastics."
A Plea for Caution From Russia (SLNYT) My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Pussy Riot found guilty of anti-religious ‘hooliganism’ for church protest. [NYTimes.com] Previously Previously.
Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster, and presidential opponent to Putin, has just been detained on charges of organizing a protest and resisting arrest. [more inside]
President Putin fires entire Russian government. Sounds very ... dictatorial. Why so little concern in the media?