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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Kremlin, FSB, and the 'Berlin patient's' underpants


The Navalny poisoning should remove any last doubts about the Kremlin’s routine use of political murder as an instrument of state policy. Navalny was scheduled to follow Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, and many others to their early graves. Prior to Navalny, Putin and his Kremlin allies could always blame sinister false flag operations, lone mavericks, or ethnic gangs for these murders. With an exposed assassination squad, aided by military weapons labs and transportation coordinated by transport police, it would strain credulity to argue that the Navalny poisoning was not an operation of the Kremlin itself.

A conversation in Moscow:

Where do you work?

In the FSB.

What department?

The Department of Underwear.

 

They say that every morning before Putin puts on fresh underpants, he gives them to his guards to wear first.

 

Switching out jars of urine, washing other people's panties. The FSB still has many “wet” cases ahead. The whole world should tremble and fear!



go to The Hill 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A new Putin worse than the old Putin?


In a word, the transfer of “the Putin system” to a successor should be a piece of cake. Immunity is another matter. Putin, as an “ex-KGB” surrounded by ex-KGB, seems bound to trust his immunity to security officials. Thus, Russia may end up with a “new Putin” from the already powerful security apparatus. The outlines of any transition will be defined by the Yeltsin precedent. We can anticipate an internecine battle royale among various interest groups of Putin’s inner circle; who comes out on top is anyone’s guess.

F.A. Hayek, in his 1944 “Road to Serfdom,” wrote that in political systems like Putin’s Russia, the worst rise to the top — namely, those most ruthless in using power. Thus, we might have to get used to a new Russian president who is worse than Putin.

go to The Hill 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict adds to Putin's headaches, West's worries


The last thing Vladimir Putin needed is another hotspot in Russia’s “near abroad” — Russia’s term for the 14 republics that once were part of the old Soviet Union, along with the Russian Republic. 

In 1994, Putin boasted of an ambitious imperial restoration project; his plans included a “New Russia” encompassing parts of Ukraine and Belarus, along with a Eurasian Union (including, among others, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan) that eventually would grow to rival the European Union.

That was then. Now, Putin sees his vision fading as popular unrest and armed conflicts take hold in the former-USSR territories he had scheduled for restoration.



go to The Hill 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Navalny Poisoning Just A Bump In The Road For Nord Stream 2

The smart money would be on NS2’s eventual completion and Russia’s continued domination of the European gas market. Navalny has survived, NS2’s defenders and lobbyists are in full swing. The Trump administration may have run out of sanctions options. The European Union has bigger problems to deal with. With the feeble demand for gas associated with COVID-19, Germany and Europe can take their time as Russia pulls out all stops in its defense of NS2.

NS2 will be completed. The only question is the duration of the delay.

go to Forbes.com 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Don't expect Europe to hold Putin accountable in Navalny poisoning

The Kremlin has already made clear there will be no “transparent” investigation of the attempted murder of Aleksei Navalny. How can there be when the chief suspect is the head of state?

The West is not able to deal with a rogue state located in its heartland. Russian forces still occupy Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and Georgian territory; Russia still denies being involved in shooting down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Russia ranks among the most dangerous countries for journalists, and any number of political assassinations remain unresolved.

When Putin is caught red handed, he keeps on playing for time and throws preposterous theories against the wall to see if any stick. 

It seems that only the Russian people – somehow, some day – can find a solution.


go to The Hill 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Is Putin getting away with poisoning another political opponent?

Irrespective of Navalny’s health outcome, we can pretty well predict what will happen next: The Kremlin will cook up all kinds of alternative explanations for Navalny’s presumed poisoning. Almost certain will be charges that Navalny poisoned himself to get back at Putin, that the CIA slipped him the poison, or that it was those dastardly Ukrainians who did so. If necessary, Putin can raise the volume to blast the entire Russian Federation with the good news that their president (for life) is not to blame.

Perhaps the tried-and-true Putin playbook will not work this time; Russia already is sufficiently riled up — and Navalny is a sympathetic figure with a beautiful wife and daughters. Maybe Putin can no longer go to this well. But does he have other tricks up his sleeve? The smart money would bet that he does.



https://thehill.com/opinion/international/513276-is-putin-getting-away-with-poisoning-another-political-opponent