Russian Blogosphere Survey for May 5, 2015

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May 5, 2015

Russian Blogosphere Survey for May 5, 2015

By J.Hawk

This is the 30th edition of this almost-daily Fort Russ feature. To view earlier editions, click on the Daily Brief tab above the title.

Politics


Why Americans in tanks can, but Russians on motorcycles cannot?

 The Night Wolves are in Bavaria today, laying down a wreath at the Dachau concentration camp, an action that is prompting many Germans to question the official policy of their own government. The Night Wolves were stopped in Munich for two hours by the police, but allowed to continue on their way. The culmination of their journey will be Berlin on May 9. Remarkably, the Night Wolves have enjoyed extensive support from biker clubs in every country through which they passed, including Poland (whose clubs organized a public awareness campaign on behalf of the Wolves) and now Germany. Bikers of the world unite!

Kerch Bridge receives federal classification

 The Medvedev government classified it as part of Russian federal highway A290, which incidentally also makes it part of the European route E75. The bridge is to be completed not later than 2018.

Russian submarine recorded near Finnish waters

Now we know the cause of the Great Finnish Freakout of 2015. The Project 636 diesel-electric submarine was photographed by a Finnish fishing boat in international waters SW of Helsinki. Since the photos were taken at night, presumably the photo that illustrates the story ain’t it. However, given the complex acoustic conditions of the Baltic Sea, especially in the archipelagos of the Gulf of Finland, it’s not difficult to imagine that the Finnish Navy thought it heard submarine diesel engine noise emanating from within its territorial waters.


Nazarbayev: If Kazakhstan overdoes it with the Kazakh language, it can expect the fate of Ukraine

 Nazarbayev is taking a stance against those who advocate establishing the Kazakh language as the only official one in the country, warning that such a move would lead to a political destabilization. Kazakhstan is a de-facto bilingual country, with most of its inhabitants able to communicate in both Kazakh and Russian. We’ll see whether Nazarbayev’s successors heed his warning.

St. George’s Ribbon distribution services

 They can be obtained through embassies, consulates, and official cultural centers in the beige-colored countries above.

The US is deliberately undermining peace efforts to resolve crisis in Ukraine

The post is making a reference to a Nation article which criticizes the behavior of Gen. Phillip Breedlove and his belligerent rhetoric. However, at this point it’s not even clear whether the US even has a coherent policy on Ukraine, Russia, or any place else in the world. Obama is an inept executive, Biden is not much better, and without a steady hand on the helm of the ship of state it’s entirely possible that people like Breedlove are not merely implementing policy, as there’s hardly a policy to implement (which is reason enough for spawning numerous conspiracy theories, since there’s no way that the US government would not have a policy on an issue as important as this one, right?). They may well be improvising it in the absence of clear direction from above. Which actually makes the situation a very dangerous one because what’s the point of having a “hotline” with someone who’s not in control of his own government?

Russia and India in consultations to acquire Su-30MKI as a supplement to Rafale

While India decided to buy 36 French-built Rafale fighters (a French delegation is expected in New Delhi shortly to sign the contract), the question of the 126 advanced fighters which India wants to procure (and, ideally, assemble in their own country) is still open. Both Rafale and Su-30MKI are in play, as India is talking to the representatives of both countries concerning the terms they would be willing to offer. What those terms might be is not clear, but the Rafale negotiations (as well as the idea of developing a T-50 variant for India’s needs) have stumbled over the question of technology transfer.

About the May 3 fighting

 Azov’s seizure of the OSCE observation point was predictably enough followed by more fighting around Shirokino. DPR and LPR intelligence services are reporting the UAF is reinforcing frontline positions with troops, armor, and artillery, and that it has made numerous attempts to break into NAF positions not just at Shirokino (Azov’s operations there may well be a ruse) but also at Gorlovka and Donetsk.

 The video above shows that the UAF is not quite what it used to be, the battles and cauldrons have done their damage. Gone are the orderly columns of tanks, BMPs, and BTRs, replaced by a patchwork mix of Saxons, Humvees, and whatever Ukraine’s industry can still churn out.

The killers of police officers turned out to be Azov militants, while the officers were former Berkut

The two officers were killed while attempting to apprehend suspected robbers, who turned out to be heavily armed Azov militants (more graphic photos at he link). This is but the latest in a long string of murders of law enforcement officers, usually at the hands of right-wing militants who now enjoy not merely legal, but super-legal status thanks to their claim to being “patriots of United Ukraine.” The murderers in this case were ultimately arrested, time will tell whether MVD chief Avakov will allow anything to happen to his Nazi proteges.

Bandera’s grave in Munich desecrated with Polish obscenities

It’s the Polish “f-word”, in imperative form. Given that the monument is also desecrated decorated by the Ukrainian flag, I surmise the relations between Polish and Ukrainian diasporas in Munich (and in Germany at large) must be fairly tense these days. Not that they were ever friendly.

The attackers also sprayed a WW2-era Polish underground symbol, anchor-like letters PW, which stand for Fighting Poland.

Shiryak’s Nepal voyage

Ukrainian EMERCOM chief Zoryan Shkiryak decided to personally fly to Nepal to get away from the Kiev madhouse evacuate Ukrainian citizens (who, incidentally, are being evacuated by Russian aircraft, which evidently is too politically incorrect an act to tolerate) but his delegation ran out of money and is now asking to be evacuated too! Moreover, the lone Ukrainian Il-76 that was supposed to fly Shkiryak out of Nepal is now stranded in India due to a technical malfunction. There’s a metaphor here somewhere…

Sadness in Lvov: Red Star discovered in Main Post Office stained window

Yep, that’s a red star, alright. Of course, it’s been sitting there for years and years until attention to it was drawn by a Lvov nuthead activist by the name of Ivan Sprinskiy who heads an organization named “Slaves won’t be allowed into Heaven” (which enough to make one wonder where he might be going…). No word on how the Ukrainian Postal Service is planning to deal with this outrageous spreading of Soviet propaganda.

Oblomingo Bird has arrived in Kiev

 Oblomingo is a Russian slang word, a mix of Oblomov (a Goncharov novel character) and flamingo, which is synonymous with failure. This particular dose of friendly encouragement suck was delivered by Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni who gave an interview to La Stampa in which he declared that Kiev, in addition to granting Donbass autonomy, also should carry out far-reaching political and economic reforms. In other words, fulfill the obligations it undertook when signing Minsk-2. Italy’s opposition to the continuation of sanctions is well known, so the obvious enough fact of Kiev’s failure to live up to its responsibilities is probably being mentioned here in context of explaining Italy’s position on its relationship with the Russian Federation. The fact that Gentiloni’s statement comes on the heels of the failed Ukraine-EU summit only rubs salt into wounds.

A little fascist humor

Of course that’s an oxymoron. And in this instance, no translation is really needed.

Odessans

 Vadim Papura–“They threw me out of the window”

The post contains names, faces, and causes of death of those murdered in Odessa on May 2.

Economy


It’s time for the West to start worrying about Russia’s gold reserves

 Russian Central Bank officially announced that it procured an additional 30 tons of gold in March 2015, raising the country’s total gold reserve to over 1200 tons, the fifth largest gold reserve in the world. The emphasis on gold is driven by the desire to ensure the stability of the ruble, but likely also as a hedge against a future global financial crisis which might well play havoc with international currencies, even seemingly invulnerable ones like the US Dollar. It’s a sign that the Russian ruling circles are still expecting things to get worse before they get better. Assuming they ever get better.

Russian farm equipment for Russian farmland

History and products of Almaz, a major Russian farm equipment manufacturer in operation since 1992 which currently manufactures and sells over 40 types of farm equipment.

Amur-Yakutia Railway–Russia’s biggest project in the last 30 years

This 1239km railroad built through some pretty rugged terrain is an indicator of Russia’s prowess at constructing infrastructure, its repository of technological know-how that will be applied to the Kerch Bridge.

Military


New equipment revealed

 Images of other vehicles of the Armata family,  as well as Kurganets and Bumerang, at the link.

More Armata

 The wraps have come off, so to speak. More photos from the most recent canvas-free rehearsal at the link. Interesting placement of smoke/fragmentation grenade launchers, and the turret bustle seems to be mainly intended as ammunition storage (autoloader and most of the ammo appear to be in the hull, under the turret) but what is that niche on the side of the turret?

Bataysk and Rosvertol

 Prime Minister Medvedev instructed that part of the airport in the city of Bataysk (Rostov Region) be transferred to the Russian Rosvertol consortium which manufactures and services helicopters, including transport and attack machines of the Russian military. The objective is to transform Bataysk into a major helicopter maintenance and support center.  

Army necessaire

Photographs depicting the standard assortment of toiletries issued to newly inducted Russian military personnel.

History


Russia’s top models of the 1930s

 Several Russian women, mainly from emigre families who left the country after the Revolution, pursued very successful modeling careers in Paris, where they were regarded as representing the elite of their profession.

The largest German mass suicide

The official records of the north-eastern German town of Demmin indicate that up to 2500 of its inhabitants committed suicide on May 8, 1945, in expectation of the arrival of the Red Army. This is the largest mass suicide recorded in Germany, though many cities (including Berlin, with over 7 thousand recorded suicides) have exceeded that total. The reasons for suicides varied. The many years of Nazi propaganda have taken their toll, after all. However, if you were a Nazi Party official, a member of the SS, or someone who simply benefited from Nazi Germany’s plunder of the entire occupied Europe (with the Holocaust being an important component of the overall scheme, with the belongings of the gassed victims being redistributed to German families all over the country), or you simply knew what you country was up to, then one cannot rule out fear of just retribution or even simple guilt as the motive.

Kiev heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser  in the Atlantic, 1987

The Kiev was the first Soviet or Russian ship to deserve the title “aircraft carrier”, though its official designation is a more apt description of its role, namely that of a large missile cruiser which happened to carry aircraft for self-protection and helicopters for anti-submarine work and over-the-horizon target detection for its large Bazalt missile battery (8 missiles ready to fire, plus 8 reloads). None of these ships are in service with the Russian Navy, but the for the fourth and last one to be built, Baku, serves with India’s navy as Vikramaditya.

Early 20th Century Moscow

Life and Society


The Best City in the World

Aerial view of Donetsk, June 19, 2014…

 Donetsk Airport runway, May 4, 2015

A pine forest find

 The pine forest in question happens to be near Severodvinsk, but that still is quite a ways for a little seal to stray! The hikers returned the seal to its proper habitat.

Train to Vorkuta VIII: From Knyazh-Pogost to Pechora

Smuglyanka-singing flash mob video goes viral, gets 1 million hits

No surprise there, considering their singing is truly amazing.

Humor


It’s like that

“Ukraine’s current attitude toward the St. George’s Ribbon is something to behold. It’s no longer simply a symbol of Victory.”

Filaret will set you straight

“Trust me, Petro, in your case suicide is no sin!”

“He may regret showing how it should be done…”

May 4 Demotivators

“Obama, Nuland, Pyatt, Poroshenko, Turchinov, Nalivaychenko, Yatsenyuk, Tyagnibok”

“John Connor sent me to kill cyborgs”

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