Russian Blogosphere Survey for April 13, 2015
This is a daily Fort Russ feature. To access earlier editions, please click on the Daily Brief tab above the title.
It’s the 54th anniversary of Yuriy Gagarin’s flight into space!
The skirmishes around the Donetsk Airport are still of the firefight variety–neither side is actually attempting to advance, though the UAF has adopted the same tactic as around Shirokino, by launching raids into the no-man’s land separating the two front lines, and subjecting Novorossia’s entrenchments to direct fire from tanks and small arms, but apparently not attempting a direct assault. UAF is simply carrying out a “reconnaissance by force” to discern the strength and dislocation of Novorossia defenses. Other purposes may include training of newly arrived reservists, and even masking own weakness–it’s doubtful the UAF is in the same shape as it was even in early January. In the longer term, however, offensive operations cannot be ruled out–by either side. Kiev has succeeded in largely subordinating all the “volunteer battalions,” and moreover Rinat Akhmetov’s pacifying influence is diminishing due to the bankruptcy of his Metalinvest. Thus Poroshenko does not need fear another Maidan by the neo-Nazis–the big question is whether the centralization is aimed at removing a threat to his own power, or at launching a more coordinated offensive effort against Novorossia in the future.
Struggle over Yatsenyuk’s seat
No sooner was the anti-corruption commission voted into being than speculation over who would replace Yats intensified. Candidates include Yaresko (highly likely), Groisman (not as likely), Timoshenko (radioactive), and Kononenko (who???). Yurasumy’s money is on Yaresko, as is mine, incidentally. She owes her job to Poroshenko, has no own power base, therefore poses no threat to Poroshenko whatsoever. The fact of her close ties to the US is a major plus, too.
Information War Background Noise. “Battles” are replacing “firefights.”
Yurasumy notes that in the Ukrainian reports from the Donbass, there are increasing references to “battles”, and fewer to mere “firefights.” A “firefight” is a feature of the “ceasefire.” However, for there to be a “battle” one has to be in a “war”, which suggests the Ukrainian public is being prepared for the resumption of active combat operations sometime in the spring, or during the summer at the latest.
The author, a well respected Russian political analyst Gevorg Mirzayan, argues that Russia is unlikely to permit the Novorossia militia to advance on Mariupol (or, probably, to engage in other similar offensive operations). He argues that this would only play into Poroshenko’s hands, as the war would help him solidify domestic popular support (it would make it easier to attribute the economic catastrophe to Putin, Russia, Novorossia, etc.), and would bring the West once again down on Ukraine’s side. It may well be that the UAF “battle days” have precisely that in mind–provoking Novorossia into action, so as to get EU and NATO to help Ukraine. Considering Ukraine’s current situation, what else can its government hope for?
In reply to the pope’s naming of, among other things, Stalinism as one of the worst crimes in history: So the Pope does not wish to acknowledge that the Crusades, the sack of Constantinople, the inquisition, the Night of St. Bartholomew, the Church’s support of the Nazis, were all forms of genocide?
US Air Force C-5A Galaxy heavy transport aircraft photographed at Lvov, April 12, 2015. What was the cargo???
The blogger Miss Trammell makes a not unreasonable point that if the current trend toward Ukrainian chauvinism and jingoism continues, it will soon be against the law to acknowledge that, well, perhaps there were some major discoveries made by non-Ukrainians, or that one or two major world historical figures were not in fact from Ukraine.
Littlehiroshima is a blog run by a Russian humanitarian worker operating on the Donbass. The photo above is one of the tamer ones at that link. Also, a video of post-war (?) Pervomaysk:
McFaul: Obama was able to establish a new relationship with Cuba and Iran, but wasn’t able to with Russia. Why? Whose fault is that?
Margarita Simonyan: Yours.
Whoever comes to us with a sword is, to be honest, a moron.
This is clearly a riff on Prince Aleksandr Nevskiy’s words before the Battle on the Ice in 1242: “Whoever comes to us with a sword will die by the sword.”
Several reasons: freely available and high quality education, ditto for health care, free housing (though waiting lists were long), absence of unemployment (though some underemployment), equality, rest and recreation opportunities, science and technology investment, the power of the Soviet armed forces, confidence in the future, civic consciousness, high birth rates, friendship among nations, culture, availability of consumer goods, and the prestige associated with working in the manufacturing industry. There were weaknesses too: agriculture, for example, and the almost unmanageable task of central planning which the 5-year plans entailed, but the Soviet economy performed remarkably well even in the 1980s.
After many years of fruitless reforms, there is finally a trend toward improving the conditions of Russia’s orphans. The number of children of orphanages decreased by 9 thousand in 2014, in large part thanks to the stepped up adoption campaign, which resulted in 64 thousand adoptions during that year. 2014 was also the first year during which the number of adoptions exceeded the number of new arrivals at orphanages. This success was in large part due to a monthly 8 thousand ruble stipend the adoptive parents receive (soon to be increased to 11 thousand rubles). However, there are still 60 thousand orphans in Russia, so the problem is not yet solved.
Once a year the city of Moscow public transportation replaces its current fleet of street cars with historical ones, including examples of every single design ever used (more photos at the link). The blogger Varlamov regrets this is done only for one day during the year.
The factory employs 150 people and is the product of a 4 billion ruble investment by the Danish firm Novo Nordisk.
Russian aquaculture enterprises located along the coast of the Black Sea (Krasnodar and Crimea, especially) are ready to completely satisfy Russia’s demand for oysters within two years, provided an exception is made to Russia’s sanctions against the EU in order to procure the necessary “seed material” to start domestic production.
The Nerekhta remotely controlled mobile battle robot is being tested in 18 different configurations, including units fitted with machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, and anti-tank guided missiles, as well as surveillance and transport variants. The Nerekhta is the product of the famous Degtarev plant, and will undergo evaluation by the Russian military later this year.
Another set of “time overlay” images.
Naval model photo gallery from the Moscow Hobby Expo 2015.