Russian Blogosphere Survey for May 1, 2015

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May 1, 2015

Russian Blogosphere Survey for May 1, 2015

By J.Hawk

This is the 27th edition of this almost-daily feature. To view earlier editions, click on the “Daily Brief” tab above the title.

Politics


Who’s coming to the May 9th Parade

 Not coming are the usual suspects: most NATO countries (except for Greece), Japan, Australia, etc. The countries attending the parade are all of the BRICS, plus several smaller ones, including many developing world countries with close ties to Russia dating to the Cold War era. Several countries are still sitting on the fence: Romania, Hungary, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Switzerland, Denmark, Portugal, and a few others. So the parade is shaping up to be something of a “litmus test” of alliances and allegiances. You can readily tell along which lines the world is realigning itself.

VISA and Master Card have returned to Crimea

Their official policy has not changed–what has changed is the fact that Russia is now operating its own electronic payment system which VISA and Master-Card were, in effect, forced to join if they wanted to continue doing business in Russia. But now that Russia’s national payment system is operating in Crimea, it means that de-facto VISA and Master-Card have returned to Crimea as well. This appears to be part of a wider Russian counter-sanction strategy–making Western firm presence in Russia conditional on participation in Russia-wide official or semi-official entities which are also present in Crimea. 

The most unimportant news of the day

 The news is that Nicaragua will host a Russian satellite-tracking station, and is moreover in talks to acquire Russian-made fighter aircraft.

Without a title

Ivan Voronov (on the photo above) was severely wounded by Ukrainian artillery during the fighting on the Donbass. Thanks to a humanitarian campaign organized by the RF Investigative Committee, which collected millions of rubles for his treatment, his life was saved at the Leonid Roshal Clinic, one of Russia’s most advanced medical institutions. Moreover, the RF Investigative Committee enrolled Vanya Voronov in its Cadet Corps and issued him an invitation to observe the May 9 Victory Parade. 

Vladimir Putin to eco-activists: “You are performing useful and important work.”

Environmentalism came up during President Putin’s recent meeting with 300 regional journalists, where he underscored the importance of the work being performed by Russian eco-activists in preventing and identifying environmental abuses and waste of natural resources, which are not infinite even in Russia. This statement is also a reflection of the overarching policy of the Russian government concerning civil society organizations, whose activity is welcome and even supported, provided they are not operating at the behest and to the benefit of foreign powers.

SBU complicit in Buzina’s death

 Cyber-Berkut published documents (copies available at the link) from hacked email accounts indicating that the radicals who murdered Oleg Buzina were in contact with the SBU, which in fact pointed the radicals in Buzina’s direction. However, SBU wanted Buzina “roughed up”, not killed, which once again suggests the Kiev junta has limited control over their “friendly extremists”. As Cassad (Boris Rozhin) points out, Buzina’s murder is wholly consistent with Nalivaychenko’s earlier-reported desire to tap into OUN-UPA traditions. Traditions of terrorizing civilian population…

The Motherland Monument removed from the list of “most absurd monuments”

Business Insider’s decision to place that statue on its list of the “most absurd monuments of the Soviet era” caused a storm of criticism, which led the publication to remove the Motherland from the list. It’s not the first time something like that happened–CNN came up with a similar list of “the world’s ugliest monuments”, and one of them happened to be the monument to the defenders of Brest Fortress. Following criticism, CNN apologized and dropped the monument from its list.

Ukraine population counter

To make long story short, Ukraine’s demographics are pretty disastrous. The country’s population is continuing to shrink to to emigration and a death rate that considerably outstrips the birth rate, leading to a gradually aging population, which in turn increases the burden on public finances (not enough workers per retiree). Also of interest is the massive imbalance between men and women (46% vs 54%), which is presumably caused by the considerably shorter male life expectancy, but also by the large number of Ukrainian men being outside the country (though mainly in Russia) in search of work and, more recently, shelter from the successive waves of mobilization.

Russia’s Demographics Online

Russia’s demographics are rather better, as Russia’s population is increasing by 202 people ( as compared to Ukraine’s daily decrease of 586…) with every day. Here, too, there persists a sizable gap between male and female population, in this case mainly due to the shorter life male expectancy. However, in contrast to Ukraine, the trends are all in the right direction. 

 Don’t worry, Petya, it’s not time yet

There seems to be a shared expectation in Russia and Ukraine that nothing will happen before May 9, but after the Victory Parade all bets are off. Nyka-Huldra is making a comparison to how Russia basically “ignored” the Maidan as long as the Sochi Olympics were continuing, but once they were over…And, indeed, many of the political and economic initiatives that have been reported on the pages of this blog share the overarching intent to make Russia less vulnerable to a new round of sanctions or other forms of pressure should the conflict in Ukraine enter a new round of escalation.

Economy

Rosselmash delivers the first 12 NIVA–Effect harvesters to Armenia

 National food security implies self-reliance in farm equipment as well, which was discussed in yesterday’s blogosphere survey. The effectiveness of Rosselmash’s efforts is testified to by its export successes, including the major contract with Armenia.

Full stop

The
main reason for the US once again teetering on the edge of recession is
that which was supposed to wreck Russia’s economy, namely the drop in
oil prices. What the Obama Administration seems to have forgotten about is that the US oil industry was one of the main drivers of the US post-Great Recession “recovery”, and that the US has massively increased its oil output during the 6 years of Obama (though for some reason it’s Bush Jr. who is still described as being under the control of the petroleum industry). However, shale oil is expensive to extract, as it requires nearly constant drilling activity, so the the US energy sector was actually hit harder than Russia’s. 

Music on VKontakte to remain free

 OK, so maybe this is not a big deal in the Big Scheme of Things, but it certainly matters in the Little Scheme of Things (in other words, My Scheme of Things), because I listen to music on VK every day–it has an enormous searchable store of user-uploaded mp3 files, and not just Russian songs. To be sure, many artists are opposed to such a free availability of their creations, but evidently VK has managed to find a loophole in the recently adopted anti-piracy law that comes into force on May 1.

Starvation in the ATO Zone

I was tempted to place this in the humor zone, except that the story does have a serious economic dimension, as Poroshenko and his family are literally eating Ukraine out of house and home. The feeding of the Poroshenko clan costs the Ukrainian taxpayer a whopping 370 THOUSAND EURO A MONTH. What, pray tell, do they eat? Gold-plated lobsters?

Military

Su-35

An Su-35 fighter (“third-generation Su-27”) landing at Bolshoye Savino, Perm Region. In the background one can see an airliner belonging to the Pobeda (Victory) low-cost airliner, which was formed by Aeroflot in part to service Crimea. This is also part of the Russian counter-sanction strategy (similar to the National Payment System discussed above) aimed at making it impossible to sanction entities doing business in Crimea by making the cost of sanctions unacceptably high to the West. Because sanctioning Pobeda would mean sanctioning Aeroflot, which in turn would lead to the closing of Russian airspace to all airlines based in countries that are part of the sanctions regime. 

72nd Brigade launches Kh-35 anti-ship missiles

 Armatas in Moscow

This is the second round of rehearsals, this time on the streets of Moscow. Lots of other equipment present in the video as well. 

Exoskeletons

Several designs are being developed for various applications which demand “superhuman” strength. 

 The least trainable army in the world

Or I suppose the post could be titled “How the US came to feed the Novorossia Army”, since the link above leads to a massive collection of photographs of the detritus left by the UAF at Debaltsevo, including quite a few US-provided MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) field rations. Mmm, meatballs in marinara sauce…

A Right Sector mortar

The word “zigamyot” stencilled on the mortar tube literally means “Sieg Heil thrower.” But no, no Nazis in Ukraine…

History


“We’re heading East, but we’ll come back. Sleep, brother…”

 A diorama presumably depicting an episode of the tragic summer of 1941, showing a group of retreating Red Army soldiers passing (and talking to…) a destroyed BA-10 heavy armored car. More photos at the link.

Frontline Illustration. Victory Day issue, May 9, 1945.

They returned as promised. And then kept on marching West…The entire fully illustrated issue is at the link.

Photo Galleries

St. Petersburg: the best city in Russia

 Tanks in the city

Humor

A whiff of the Right Sector

 “FUUU…”

A little humor

“Psst, what’s going on with the Russians? Are they done with their military exercises?”

“Baltimore–our tomato sponsor”.  

This is not even photoshop. “Baltimor” is a brand of spicy ketchup sold in Russia.

“Ukraine is testing its newest weapon system”

“If you have no f***ing clue what they are talking about, make a serious face”

“Look, kid, what kinds of tweets your grandpa used to send”

“Ukrainian will become an official EU language”

“I serve the US State Department…I mean, Ukraine!”

“Fine, fine, whom are we trying to fool, anyway…”

It’s like that

“If there’s a tragedy in Russia, it means there’ll be a celebration in Ukraine. But if there’s a tragedy in Ukraine, Russians are ready to help at a moment’s notice, but it’s the Russians who are the fascists.”

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