Saturday, October 25, 2014


The Power Vertical

The Return Of The King

President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting in the Kremlin on December 13.
President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting in the Kremlin on December 13.
Maybe it was the rumors about his health. Maybe it was the poor reviews his big speech to parliament received last week. Or maybe he just wants to end the year with a bang.
 
But whatever the reason, the Kremlin has clearly decided to play up President Vladimir Putin's December 20 press conference in a very big way.
 
From the dramatic voice over and Hollywood-style background music, to the classic action-hero shots from the Putin archives, the message in trailers on Russia's state-controlled television channels announcing the big event seems clear: the old hard guy is back with a vengeance. Or so we should believe.
 
WATCH FOR YOURSELF HERE:
 


AND HERE: 


 
In addition to emphasizing the Kremlin leader's physical vitality, the trailers also highlight the recent anticorruption campaign -- and make a point of splicing in a clip of Putin announcing the sacking of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. (Significantly, this comes shortly after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a point of defending Serdyukov in his television interview earlier this month.)
 
Putin's image makers and political advisers have clearly decided to raise expectations for the annual event. What is not clear yet is why. Is this part of Putin's anticipated image makeover? Is the government shake-up the press has been speculating about for months finally coming? Or will it fall flat just like his speech to parliament did last week?
 
We'll know in a couple of days.
 
-- Brian Whitmore
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vladimir from: Volgograd
December 18, 2012 22:38
Yeah well at least the Russian economy is still going strong. What have the dhimmi governments of the EU done for their citizens? Apart from bankrupting them financially and morally? Apart from turning sections of their cities into no-go areas, ghettoes and rape capitals of Europe? What's theunemployment rate in the Eurozone? And in Russia? Try a comparison? What moral compass do the spineless bureaucrats like Barrosso and Van Rompuy offer Europe? Vladimir Putin espouses the tried and tested and sound morals of a family man. A traditional family unit is what keeps countries alive. The moment Europe abandoned that they started a downwards spiral towards financial ruin, demographic suicide and appeasement of radical outsiders.
In Response

by: Anonymous from: USA
December 19, 2012 20:48
Actually, northern Europe is doing quite well for itself. Please don't lump all European nations together economically. Greece and Spain are far from being like Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia. What's this about Putin and family values? LOL! Putin put his wife in a convent, so he could have an affair with a gymnast. Also, Russia has the second highest divorce rate in the world...only the USA is higher. Americans tend to divorce over money, Russians divorce over violence and wife-beating. Russia is also a leader in producing child pornography and child prostitution. So much for family values! Russia itself is demographically challenged...a slight uptick in the birthrate won't stop the overall decline predicted by the UN. Sorry Vlad, make sure you look in a mirror before you criticize.
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
December 20, 2012 00:45
"make sure you look in a mirror before you criticize" I'm sure you did that before you went on to critisize. Bottom non of the worlds states or union are doing what needs to be done to fix the problems that world and societies face today, they work around them until something collapse and Awe cries from politicians, then comes the good ol' finger pointing, then the solution that will help themselves out and not the people. USA AND RF are both morally bankrupt nations (at least those who lead) Self-enrichment will defeat any idealogy and ruin nations, like it always has in the past, present and you guest it FUTURE...
In Response

by: La Russophobe from: USA
December 20, 2012 13:50
Going strong? You must be kidding.

Perhaps you've been suckered by the Kremlin's lies. For instance, the define "poverty" at a ludicrously low level so they can claim there are few poor people, then the squelch the news that even at that level the number of poor is rising. http://dyingrussia.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/russian-poverty/

Or maybe you just don't read the papers, which show massive capital flight, anemic stock market, undiversified economy still wholly dependent.

Russia occupies the same position on the "doing business" lest of nations as it does no the "life expectency" list of nations, a shockingly low #112. https://twitter.com/larussophobe/status/281393310633959424

Then again, maybe you know all this too well, and you are just one of the Kremlin's paid liars. You certainly don't make the slightest attempt to document your absurd claim, so that would make sense.
In Response

by: Mark from: UK
December 20, 2012 16:19
LOL! twitter and wordpress! what a references!
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 20, 2012 18:36
Right on Marky,how could they quote lowly twitter and wordpress too??? Not as reliable as Russia today and Radio Moss cow,arent they??? And how do they dare criticize your bigger than life Sovereign??? I suggest you challenge them for a duel or send them to Sunny Siberia without a one!!! Gazputin Rules OK!!!
In Response

by: La Russophobe from: USA
December 22, 2012 13:24
Mark, did you actually READ the two links before you "commented"? I suspect not, since both are FULL of links to mainstream sources. Are you lazy or just illiterate? Either way, you offer ZERO links of your own to challenge the facts asserted, making you nothing more than a dancing jester.
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
December 21, 2012 23:51
Have you noticed how many Russians drive taxi cabs to and from the New York airport? Their accents are so easy to spot...

Have you noticed how many Americans drive taxi cabs to and from the Moscow airport? Yeah, I haven't either. And I've been there quite a few times.

In fact, how many Russians have you seen driving cabs in Berlin... compared to the number of Germans driving cabs in Moscow?

Just a little bit of reality, as far as your "economy" goes. The Russian elite knows where their money should go and where their children should get an education. So should you.

by: Fred Eidlin from: Prague, Czechia
December 19, 2012 11:33
Maybe it's just time for the next one of these major press conferences. They have always been important, since the beginning of Putin's first Presidency. They have always been big public events, aimed at the broadest public, in contrast to Putin's "state of the union" addresses which, like all such addresses everywhere, are aimed at much narrower audiences. Strangely missing from the list of speculations as to why they are making such a big deal of it is the possibility that Putin may use it to announce one or more major policy initiatives, or to give a boost to one already underway, like the anti-corruption drive at the highest levels, and/or to mobilize public support.

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
December 19, 2012 18:05

There’s a song by Bulat Okudzhava where he points out that sometimes the pedestal becomes more important than the statue. I suspect that all the sound and fury advertising this press conference may be a clever attempt to hide the deficiencies in Tsar Vladimir’s form of governance. The tsar will demonstrate his verbal proficiency for a few hours, flexing his sharp-witted tongue with some tough street jargon—but at the end of his remarks, nothing will have changed. Viewers will return to their vodka and sausage, frozen streets with crowded traffic, lousy schools and hospitals, corrupt police and bureaucrats. Words alone won’t instill hope into broken political and social system.

by: Alex from: LA
December 20, 2012 00:39
How dare you call and EMPEROR a KING? Ohh Why don't you write about countries that actually have kings. England maybe, there is that one royal family that still collects taxes, and does do anything good in the world.

by: Ben
December 20, 2012 10:17
Putin obsession. The West happy with the Cold War finish,is frantically affraid of the new confrontation with the strengthening Russia. All Russia critics consentrates on Vladimir Vladimirovitch,it`s more easy.
In Response

by: peter from: ottawa
December 20, 2012 13:40
Russia is a joke waiting to happen. Mr Big s bagman by the name of Vitaly MALKIN just purchased 111 condo apts in Toronto for 50 million . I wonder where the kgb errand boy got such a sum. Travel outside of Moscow and all you see are hundreds of miles of outhouses and no road signs, gps is no help. With a recession looming in the west, 60 dollar oil comes with a low demand for energy, some chimpanzee in the russian central bank pegged 100 dollar benchmark for russian oil, anything below 100 is bad, anything above is good, two thirds of russias revenue comes from energy at 60-70 dollar range, you do the math., add new supplies from North Africa, Irak, Central Asia, Albania, plus solar, wind, 100,000 new electric cars are manufactured for North America powered by a fuel cell the size of your little finger, coal [production will overtake oil in 2017 add fracking to the equation and out comes a flat oil price just like naural gas, prices have barely moved in the last 5 years. In 1987 the price of oil dropped almost overnight from 46 to 9 dollars The remaining one third of russias revenues comes from a declining forest industry, the internet is saving trees, manufacturing , another declining industry, arm sales, lousy vodka and russias prized export- HIV infected natashas.

by: Natalia from: Brussels
December 20, 2012 14:44
Are these videos available anywhere with English subtitles?
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 20, 2012 18:14
Yes,Natalia,Eugenia from Vienna,Jack from the US and Mark are providing us with the great man`s subtitles in alltheir posts here.You can also count as always on FOX News to render all Gazputin`s brilliant remarks in excellent angwish.Generally the most exact translations go like `blah blah blah from me to you,and blah blah blah,too`!!!
In Response

by: Natalia from: Brussels
December 21, 2012 09:32
Thanks Camel. I have found a lot of translations and clips of the actual press conference but none yet of the 'trailer' (which for me is the best part!). If you come across a subtitled version - can you post it please? Thanks!
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 21, 2012 17:40
Dear Natalie ,I would have translated the trailers for you but the sound quality is very bad,so i cant do it from these you tube posts.The first trailer consists of primitive YCL-Komsomol-thats young communists league slogans and the second says;`Only once a year,in one place only there are no laws but only one;a question put correctly-then the kgb man with his superb taste chooses the most beautiful girl to ask her question-its very interesting for double-speak researchers or psychopathological analysts and we would have thought that a real russian Natalia should have some command of her mother tongue!!!

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17:49 October 24, 2014

EVENING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

PUTIN ACCUSES UNITED STATES OF 'UNILATERAL DIKTAT'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of escalating conflicts around the world by imposing what he called a "unilateral diktat."

Putin made the remarks in a combative speech to political experts at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin said the United States has been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

He said risks of serious conflicts involving major countries have risen, as well as risks of arms treaties being violated.

He also dismissed international sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "mistake," saying they aimed at pushing Russia into isolation and would end up "hurting everyone."

We did not start this," he added, referring to rising tensions between Russia and the West.

(Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, TASS)

MERKEL URGES PUTIN TO SOLVE UKRAINIAN GAS DISPUTE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call to push for a quick resolution of the ongoing gas dispute with Ukraine as winter looms.

The call by Merkel to Putin on October 24 comes as representatives of the EU, Russia, and Ukraine are due to meet again next week in EU brokered talks aimed at solving the gas dispute between Kyiv and Moscow.

Merkel also underlined that upcoming elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists must respect Ukrainian national law.

Pro-Russian insurgent leaders are boycotting a parliamentary snap poll on October 26 in Ukraine and are holding their own election in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, home to nearly three million people, on the same day instead.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)

UNHCR SAYS MORE THAN 800,000 DISPLACED IN UKRAINE CONFLICT

By RFE/RL

The United Nations says the conflict in Ukraine has forced more than 800,000 people from their homes.

Around 95 percent of displaced people come from eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, told a briefing in Geneva that an estimated 430,000 people were currently displaced within Ukraine -- 170,000 more than at the start of September.

It said at least 387,000 other people have asked for refugee status, temporary asylum, or other forms of residency permits in Russia.

Another 6,600 have applied for asylum in the European Union and 581 in Belarus.

The agency said it was "racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people" as winter approaches.

It also said the number of displaced people is expected to rise further due to ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine.

THREE ALLEGED MILITANTS KILLED IN NORTH CAUCASUS

Three alleged militants have been killed by security forces in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee says that two suspects were killed in the village of Charoda in Daghestan on October 24 after they refused to leave an apartment and opened fire at police and security troops.

One police officer was wounded.

Also on October 24, police in another North Caucasus region, Kabardino-Balkaria, killed a suspected militant after he refused to identify himself, threw a grenade towards police, and opened fire with a pistol.

A police officer was wounded in that incident.

Violence is common in Russia's North Caucasus region, which includes the restive republics of Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Chechnya.

Islamic militants and criminal groups routinely target Russian military personnel and local officials.

(Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS)

MOSCOW LAWYER IN HIGH PROFILE ORGANIZED CRIME CASE KILLED

A lawyer, who represented an alleged victim of the notorious Orekhovo criminal group in Moscow, has been assassinated.

Police in the Russian capital say that Vitaly Moiseyev and his wife were found dead with gunshot wounds in a car near Moscow on October 24.

Moiseyev was representing Sergei Zhurba, an alleged victim of the Orekhovo gang and a key witness in a case against one of the gang's leaders Dmitry Belkin.

Belkin was sentenced to life in prison on October 23 for multiple murders and extortion.

Last month, another of Zhurba's lawyers, Tatyana Akimtseva (eds: a woman), was shot dead by unknown individuals.

The Orekhovo group was one of the most powerful crime gangs of the Moscow region and in Russia in the 1990s. Its members are believed to be responsible for dozens of murders.

(Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax)

17:27 October 24, 2014

LITTLE GREES VOTERS, ANYONE?

17:26 October 24, 2014

SPY VS. SPY

17:00 October 24, 2014
08:29 October 24, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

UKRAINIAN PM WARNS OF RUSSIAN DESTABILIZATION OF ELECTIONS

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is warning that Russia could attempt to disrupt Ukraine's parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26.

Yatsenyuk told a meeting of top security officials and election monitors on October 23 that "It is absolutely clear that attempts to destabilize the situation will continue and will be provoked by Russia."

Yatsenyuk said "we are in a state of Russian aggression and we have before us one more challenge -- to hold parliamentary elections."

The prime minister said Ukraine needs the "full mobilization of the entire law-enforcement system to prevent violations of the election process and attempts at terrorist acts during the elections."

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said authorities have ordered some 82,000 policemen on duty for election day.

He said 4,000 members of a special reaction force would be among those maintaining order during polling hours and would be concentrated in "those precincts where there is a risk of some terrorist acts or aggressive actions by some...candidates."

The warning by Yatsenyuk comes on the heels of three violent attacks on parliamentary candidates in the past week.

The latest, against Volodymyr Borysenko, a member of Yatsenyuk's People's Front Party, occurred on October 20 when Borysenko was shot at and had an explosive thrown at him.

He allegedly survived the attack only because he was wearing body armor due to numerous death threats he had recently received.

Elections to the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, will be held despite continued fighting in the eastern part of the country between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Voting will not take place in 14 districts of eastern Ukraine currently under the control of the separatists.

Those separatist-held areas -- in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions -- are planning on holding their own elections in November.

Additionally, Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in March means the loss of 12 seats from the 450-seat parliament.

Polls show President Petro Poroshenko's party leading with some 30 percent of respondents saying they would cast their vote for the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

It that percentage holds on election day it would mean Poroshenko's bloc would have to form a coalition government, likely with nationalist groups who oppose conducting peace talks over fighting in the east.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax)

RUSSIA DENIES ESTONIAN AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS

By RFE/RL

Moscow has denied claims of an incursion by a Russian military plane into Estonia's airspace.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency on October 23 that the Ilyushin-20 took off from Khrabrovo airfield in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on October 21.

The spokesman said the reconnaissance plane flew "over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea" while on a training flight.

On October 22, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Tallinn, Yury Merzlakov, after the Estonian military said the Russian plane had entered its air space.

In a statement, NATO said the Ilyushin-20 was first intercepted by Danish jets when it approached Denmark, before flying toward non-NATO member Sweden.

Intercepted by Swedish planes, the alliance said the Ilyushin entered Estonian airspace for “less than one minute” and was escorted out by Portuguese jets.

NATO has stepped up its Baltic air patrols and Moscow has been accused of several recent border violations in the region amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict.

Last month, Estonia accused Russia of abducting one of its police officers on the border.

Russia claims Eston Kohver was seized inside Russia on September 5, while Estonian officials say he was captured at gunpoint in Estonia near the border and taken to Russia.

The European Union and United States have called for the immediate release of the Estonian security official, who is facing espionage charges in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Navy has been searching for a suspected submarine sighted six days ago some 50 kilometers from the capital, Stockholm, although it said on October 22 it was pulling back some of its ships.

Swedish officials have not linked any particular country to the suspected intrusion and Moscow has denied involvement.

(With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and the BBC)

RUSSIAN COURT POSTPONES RULING ON OIL FIRM BASHNEFT

A Moscow court postponed to next week a ruling on a move to take control of Bashneft, an oil company from tycoon Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The judge said on October 23 that the next hearing will take place on October 30 after the prosecution requested more time to prepare its case.

Prosecutors filed the suit in September to regain state ownership of Bashneft, citing alleged violations in the privatization and subsequent sale of the company to AFK Sistema investment group.

Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder of the conglomerate, is under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering during the firm's acquisition in 2009.

Yevtushenkov, 66, was arrested on September 16.

He is ranked Russia's 15th richest man by U.S. magazine Forbes, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion.

(Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS)

11:11 October 23, 2014

THERE IS NO RUSSIA WITHOUT PUTIN?

According to a report in the pro-Kremlin daily "Izvestia," deputy Kremlin chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Western politicians "do not understand the essence of Russia."

"Volodin stated the key thesis about the current state of our country: As long as there is Putin there is Russia. If there is no Putin, there is no Russia," Konstantin Kostin, head of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society, told "Izvestia."

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or