Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Donald Trump Moment Is Developing In Vladimir Putin's Russia

Last weekend, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin expressed mutual admiration for each other. But their similarities go deeper. Donald Trump’s lead in the race for the Republican nomination reflects the widespread disenchantment of America’s blue collar families with “politics as usual.” Trump’s followers believe that the professional political class has given us crony capitalism, a captive media, unsustainable debt, foreign Main Street; we should remove them and get America moving again. Russia could be on its way to a Donald Trump moment.

go to Forbes.com

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Russia Worries About Shock Economic Scenarios

The September 2016 elections will take place in a time of scarce budget resources and dwindling reserve funds. Putin’s opposition will be his core supporters — blue-collar workers and pensioners — who have been hardest hit by economic stagnation. Putin’s media can scarcely accuse them of being CIA agents or traitors.

go to National Review online

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Truckers Halt Moscow Traffic As Putin Shifts The Blame

Ukraine’s almost three-month Maidan revolution went through ebbs and flows. There were times when the protest action nearly fizzled out only to be revived by some new event. Its ultimate success was assured only when the state lost its nerve and used excessive force. Russia’s truckers’ protest will not go away. It may go through the same ebbs and flows as Maidan. It may fizzle. Whatever the case, the truckers’ protest is the most serious challenge to Putin’s kleptocracy since the mass protests of November 2011 to March 2012.

go to Forbes.com

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why Putin Makes a Bad Ally Against ISIS

At first blush, the idea that Russia is a natural ally against Islamist terrorists seems to make sense. The country has suffered horrific terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists, including the bombing in November of a plane above the Sinai Peninsula, which killed 224 passengers and crew, nearly all of them Russian. Around 20 million Muslims, most of them Sunni, live within the Russian Federation, and the country’s security officials report that some 7,000 fighters from the former Soviet republics and Russia have joined the Islamic State.
On deeper examination, however, it becomes clear that an anti-terror alliance with Russia is wishful thinking. Putin has not gone into Syria to defeat the Islamic State. He has intervened to save the regime of Russia’s client, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Putin may sometimes give the appearance that he is ready to abandon Assad, but ultimately he will defend him. Leaving Assad to his fate would be a sign of weakness – and thus anathema to Putin.

Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/why-putin-makes-a-bad-ally-by-paul-r--gregory-2015-12#EWTz8A2H8ML8iEKd.99

go to Project Syndicate

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Has Putin Met His Match In Russia's Truck Drivers?

Russia’s long-haul truck drivers have disrupted the country’s federal highways for more than two weeks to protest a new road tax (platon in Russian) collected (with a 20% commission) by the Putin-associated Rotenberg oligarchs. The protesters threatened a full blockade of Moscow today unless their demands for a radical restructuring of the government are met. Russia’s riot and traffic police have not been able to halt the convoys, and the Russian government has refused good-faith talks. Putin’s propaganda machine cannot brand three million ordinary citizens as traitors and CIA agents. It can only saturate the news with the “outrage” of Turkey shooting down its fighter jet. The Kremlin is threatened with its own version of a nationwide Maidan.

go to forbes.com