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Bulletin 6:24 (2012)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 6, No. 24(180), 3 October 2012 Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2012
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 6, No. 24(180), 3 October 2012
      Compilers: Fabian Burkhardt, Parikrama Gupta, Vildane Oezkan & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 16 - 30 September 2012

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of the - otherwise truncated - issue will appear. When quoting from an article found here, please, mention the RNB, as the source. Thank you!]

      I NEWS: 16 - 30 September 2012

      The Participation of Nationalists in the "March of Millions-3" in Moscow
      SOVA, September 17, 2012

      On September 15 2012, during the third oppositional march and rally "March of Millions" the nationalists were once again present as in the previous marches.
      According to estimates made by SOVA Center observers there were around 200 participants in the main nationalist line carrying imperial and neo-pagan flags. The nationalist line was led by Georgy Borovikov from the ethno-political association "The Russians" (Etnopoliticheskoe ob'edinenie - Russkie) and he was followed by a crowd carrying a large banner representing the imperial flag. After the banner there was another group of people led by Dmitry Demushkin, also from the association "The Russians". Among the nationalist marchers were also observed Vladimir Ermolaev, Anton Severny ("The Russians") and the lead singer of the band "Kruger", Alexander Hammer. The marchers were chanting traditional slogans including "Russian Country for Russians", "Cancel 282" (referring to the article 282 in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation "Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity") and "Death to the enemies."
      Among others, the event was attended by activists from the political party "The Will" (Volya), led by Svetlana Peunova (no more than 50 people); a few paratroopers; supporters of the Yekaterinburg activist Leonid Khabarov from "Russian National Militia of Minin and Pozharsky" (NOMP) (about 10 people); activists from the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Russian Civil Union (RGS) (about 50 people, including Konstantin Krylov).
      Walking separately was observed the group "Volnitsa" (less than 10 people) with the banner "Direct democracy - a Russian tradition."
      Activists from the organization Eurasian Youth Union (ESM), which stated on the eve of the demonstration their intention of "stopping the march of the opposition with crosses, daggers and silver bullets ", gathered at the Griboyedov monument and later followed the crowd to the Sakharov Avenue. Their numbers did not exceed 10 people, including the four women representing the movement of "Women's council" (Zhensovet). One of the activists of the ESM, Andrei Kovalenko, holding the poster "a million of you - a multitude of us" was punched in the face by an unknown man wearing the badge 'Organizer', who later fled and disappeared into the crowd.
      At the Sakharov Avenue the nationalists, as usual trying to push their way forward towards the stage, clashed with the anarchists and started throwing sticks and bottles at them. Several people were detained by the police. According to some blogs, there were also clashes between nationalists and LGBT activists.
      The nationalists and other "party" sections did not manage to push themselves forward towards the stage due to an additional fence set up by the police approximately 50 meters from the stage. The nationalists remained behind the fence shouting offensive and xenophobic slogans towards the speakers.
      Among others, the rally hosted speakers like the blogger Alexei Navalny, Natalia Kholmogorova (ROD) and Alexander Belov ("The Russians"). The latter eagerly shouted slogans like "The future belongs to us", "Homeland or Death", "We will fight to the end" and "Glory to Russia!". Before Belov's performance, one of the organizers Ilya Yashin greeted and welcomed the "Russian nationalists". The father of Danil Konstantinov (leader of Moscow Defence League), who was arrested on suspicion of murder, held a speech calling for the "release of political prisoners."


      Patriarch Kirill blesses Russians in Japan
      Interfax-Religion, September 17, 2012

      Tokyo, September 17, Interfax - Dozens of Russian expatriates accorded a warm welcome to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who visited the Russian Orthodox Church's embassy parish in Tokyo on Sunday.
      After conducting a service at the Church of St. Alexander of the Neva, Patriarch Kirill said that, "a parishioner's last will has been fulfilled and an Orthodox church was dedicated in Tokyo four years ago after 40 years of incessant work."
      "I remember how excited all of us were as the church was being sanctified and prayers said. Many of you remember the entire drama, which only proves that the truth is always right and that God hears the righteous prayer. This church is an example that must edify us all," he said.
      "The deeds of truth, the firmness of conscience and the fervent power of prayer" are the binding condition of victory and triumph over the most dramatic trials," the Russian Patriarch said.
      "May your Christian life go this way," he said.
      Patriarch Kirill presented an Order of St. Nicholas of Japan (Kasatkin), the founder of the Russian Orthodox Church in Japan, to the archpriest of the church, Nikolay Katsyuban, in recognition of his role as a missioner.
      The Russian Orthodox Church's embassy parish in Japan emerged from the Japanese parishes that remained faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate during the split of Japan's Orthodox community between 1947 and 1970. On May 22 1979 the Metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was officially registered.
      On September 12 2008, Patriarch Kirill, then Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, dedicated the Church of St. Alexander of the Neva, built on a land site, donated by parishioner Susanna Kravtsova in her last will.
      The Moscow Patriarchate's embassy parish in Japan currently includes the St. Sofia Convent in Sanmu, the churches of St. Nicholas and St. Alexander of the Neva in Tokyo, the chapel of St. Alexander of the Neva in Yokohama , the Chapel of St. Nicholas of Japan at the Russian military cemetery in Nagasaki and a parish in Hitachi.
      According to Japan's Immigration Service, 7,801 Russian citizens and several thousand Russian-speaking persons resided in Japan on a long-term basis as of the start of 2011. The natural disaster that hit Japan in March 2011 led to an intensive outflow of foreign nationals. The Russian community has shrunk to 5,000.
      About half of the Russian expatriates, permanently or mostly residing in Japan, are members of Japanese families.


      Russia warns on Syria military intervention
      The Moscow News (Source Nathan Toohey), September 17, 2012

      Russia is concerned about possible plans for Western military intervention in Syria, RIA Novosti reported on Monday.
      "We proceed from the fact that any action should be taken collectively within the UN Security Council, and any unilateral steps will sidetrack us from seeking a political solution to the Syrian crisis," RIA Novosti quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying. He added that any actions taken without the approval of the UN Security Council would not lead to a lasting peaceful solution.


      USAID to Stop Operating in Russia
      RIA Novosti, September 18, 2012

      The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will stop operating in Russia, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement on Tuesday.
      "The United States recently received the Russian government's decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation. We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID's programs," Nuland said.
      "While USAID's physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations," she said.


      USAID Shutting Operations in Russia
      RIA Novosti, September 18, 2012

      The United States is ending its efforts to promote democracy and civil society in Russia under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.
      The move comes in response to the Russian government's decision to halt USAID's programs in the country, the State Department said.
      Senior Russian officials have portrayed some of these programs - such as those funding election monitoring and human rights groups critical of the Kremlin - as attempts by a foreign nation to undermine Russia's sovereignty.
      "The United States recently received the Russian Government's decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. "We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID's programs."
      USAID, which operates in more than 100 countries, has been active in Russia over the past two decades. Its array of social programs have targeted issues such as at-risk youth and pressing public health issues like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
      But the agency has also funded civic organizations that have rankled Russian officials, including the election watchdog Golos, whose monitors have catalogued violations in local and federal elections in recent years.
      The United States has repeatedly denied that these programs are aimed at interfering in Russia's domestic affairs.
      "While USAID's physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations," the State Department said.


      Campaign Against Georgian Govt Is Financed From Russia - Saakashvili
      By Steven C. Welsh
      Johnson's Russia List, September 23, 2012

      TBILISI. Sept 21 (Interfax) - The campaign against the government in Georgia is financed from Russia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at the Tbilisi House of Justice opening ceremony.
      "They are fighting us with Russian money, using Russian methods, threatening us and wielding weapons on the border. But they won't intimidate us," he said.
      Saakashvili reiterated that Russia is trying to force "the Russian path of development" on Georgia and "bring it back to the past and block its way to the future."
      "they are trying to drive us in the Gldani prison where this dirty and irreparable violence took place. They want to turn the entire Georgia into this prison, using maneuvers on the border and forces inside the country," Saakshvili said.
      Saakashvili called on the people of Georgia to "think, open your eyes wide and pay attention to the fact that the materials were filed for over 1.5 years and were shown just before the elections."
      "It's well-though out politics and an attempt to mislead our people using a situation of shock," he said.
      Saakashvili also said the Georgian and international mafia prepared for the Georgian elections and worked on a plot to overthrow the current administration. "We will do everything to communicate this information to people," he said.
      Saakshvili said he is confident of the people's choice, saying he knows they will vote for "good society in Georgia."
      Earlier this week, the opposition television channels Maestro and TV-9 aired videos of prisoners being beaten and tortured in the Tbilisi Gldani prison. The publication of the videos drew mass protests in Georgia.


      Putin attempted to find out what Russian culture lacks
      ITAR-TASS News Agency, September 26, 2012

      On Tuesday, the renovated Presidential Council of Culture and Arts had a meeting in the Kremlin. Putin stated that the state authorities allocated four billion roubles for higher salaries to cultural workers. Meanwhile, the president said that the Russians should not face "cultural fast food" and not to lose "their cultural code".
      The Novye Izvestia daily reported the Presidential Council of Culture and Arts met in the new line-up for the first time. Under the presidential decree on September 19, 2012 the numerical strength of the council increased from 45 to 58 members. The Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported that, according to the president, various false cultural products, which Putin called as "cultural fast food", threaten Russian culture. To combat their malign impact the president proposed to focus on the education system, moreover, many cultural personalities are concerned over a lower humanitarian aspect of modern education. Putin noted that the schools, kindergartens, universities should bring up a personality, teach in the critical way, think in their own way, not just to transmit the information, but also to draw a clear-cut line between the good and the evil, "I believe that the most important task of education is to form personal culture and taste of a person, his or her spiritual guidelines and the vision."
      The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily reported in the article titled "Putin does not like "fast food" that the state authorities will protect the cultural heritage together with ordinary people. But Russia should pass from the protection of some facilities to the complex protection of historical centres in the cities. The traditional financial support to culture will be not only continued, but also will be intensified. Putin noted that the salary of cultural workers will grow 30-33% in 2013. The state authorities are planning to allocate four billion roubles for these purposes.
      The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily cited film director Karen Shakhnazarov, who proposed to make the entrance to the museums free, as it was done in several countries. On what funds the museums will live? "Let the football clubs buy one foreign footballer less and pass these spared funds to the museum," the film director underlined.


      Russia blocks Council of Europe youth rights declaration over gay rights
      Nathan Toohey
      The Moscow News, September 26, 2012

      Russia has blocked a declaration on youths' rights at a conference of youth affairs ministers from the Council of Europe, Gazeta.ru reported on Wednesday. Russia refused to ratify the declaration after an item was added confirming the rights of sexual minorities. As a result, the resolution may not be submitted to the Council of Europe. It was the first time that a youths' rights conference declaration was not ratified, Gazeta.ru reported.
      "The Russian Federation delegation considers that this topic is not a priority in the sphere of youth policy implementation. There are other priorities," tweeted the assistant to the Education and Science Minister, Alexander Stradze, on Wednesday


      Putin Urges Unity Against Violent Regime Changes, 'Violence Only Begets Violence'
      Jason Ditz
      Antiwar.com, September 26, 2012

      In a speech seen as a major rebuke to the West in general and the Obama Administration in particular, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the trend toward violent regime change in the Middle East, saying that they are only leading to further unrest. "Violence only begets violence," Putin added, urging the international community to unite in favor of calming tensions across the region and supporting negotiations instead of bloody civil wars like the one ongoing in Syria. The comments come after President Obama's speech calling for the world to stand with Syria's rebels and see to it that President Assad was eventually forced from office. Russia is allied with Assad and was also critical of last year's NATO war against Libya. Russia's warnings have particular currency now after an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi earlier this month, with several Russian officials pointing out that they had warned imposing regime change in the country would not lead to stabilization.


      Chernov's Choice
      Sergey Chernov
      The St. Petersburg Times (Issue #1728), September 26, 2012

      Global Pussy Riot Day 2 in support of Pussy Riot's imprisoned members is to be held on Monday, Oct. 1, the day of the appeal hearing on the verdict handed down to Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were each sentenced to two years in prison on Aug. 17.
      Tolokonnikova's lawyer Mark Feigin said that he hopes that the campaign will be held in more than 100 cities across the globe. The first Global Pussy Riot Day was held on the day of the verdict and reportedly saw people gather in more than 60 cities worldwide.
      On Sunday, Feigin took the stage to announce the Pussy Riot solidarity day during Peter Gabriel's concert in New York.
      Yoko Ono and Amnesty International awarded this year's LennonOno grant for peace to Pussy Riot's imprisoned members Friday. The award was accepted by Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov, who was in New York with their daughter Gera, on behalf of the three women.
      "I thank Pussy Riot in standing firmly in their belief for freedom of expression and making all women of the world proud to be women," Ono was quoted by Reuters as saying.
      On Thursday in Washington, Verzilov and Pussy Riot's lawyers met with the American lawmakers who drafted the Magnitsky bill, whose aim is "to impose visa and banking restrictions on Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses."
      They proposed that the Magnitsky bill should be broadened to include the people responsible for the persecution of the punk group, so that similar sanctions would be imposed on them.
      Those people include Judge Marina Syrova, who displayed open disregard for the law and backed the prosecution, and reporter Arkady Mamontov, who made mud-slinging programs about the group for Russian state television, among others.
      Earlier this month, Feigin urged Muscovites to show their support by coming to the Moscow City Court on the day of the appeal hearing.
      "There is no justice in Russia, there are no honest courts in Russia," said Feigin, speaking at the Sept. 15 March of Millions in Moscow.
      "The street should become the court, this is the only way to bring about changes inside Russia."
      In St. Petersburg, a rally will be held in support of Pussy Riot, the activists arrested and investigated in the wake of the May 6 rally on Bolotnaya Ploshchad and The Other Russia activist Taisia Osipova, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on fabricated drug distribution charges.
      The St. Petersburg rally has been authorized by City Hall, according to organizer Yulia Alimova. It is due to be held on the Field of Mars at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1.
      Alyokhina, Samutsevich and Tolokonnikova have been named "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty International.
      The appeal will be heard at 11 a.m. on Monday at the Moscow City Court.


      Popular Front as hope for new national elite
      Mukhin, Alexei
      Valdai Discussion Club, September 27, 2012

      The Popular Front must concentrate the national elite by attracting a group of politicians and public figures that enjoy the complete trust of the public and reflect the interests of all social strata of Russian society. They should form new national elite. That said, the front should not replace the ruling party (let United Russia continue playing this role). But it should be more sensitive to the aspirations of civil society and should implement these aspirations in law-making activities as much as possible. United Russia's rating has gone down precisely because it did not show real interest in the problems of civil society. Politically, the front is now a mothballed project, but the groups of the public that voted for Vladimir Putin in March 2012 have a vital interest in its existence and development. United Russia and the front should divide the political field in the following manner: the ruling party should continue its activities in the future State Duma under the leadership of Dmitry Medvedev and express the interests of the conservative part of Russian society; while the front should become a political projection of a broad coalition of public interests - creative moderates (the so-called creative class, which is obviously disappointed in the so-called opposition that was trying to attract its interest), and the Left-wing forces that traditionally express the interests of the poor. A mechanical replacement of the front with United Russia will not resolve the problems of the latter and its ratings will not increase, because in this case there will be no qualitative change in the party structure and voters will not react to this transformation - political technology will have to do its job, which is bound to lead to early disappointment with the new structure. The front should try to avoid the biggest mistake in its role as United Russia's backup - not to welcome into its ranks defectors and failed policy-makers, as was the case with the Just Russia Party in the past. As long as Putin remains president, he should try to avoid direct leadership of the front. Instead he should delegate to this post his confidant, who enjoys prestige among pro-Putin groups of population. Regions are designed to be a venue for the front's projects, but it should not rely exclusively on the local elite as its personnel corps. It is necessary to ensure the proper ratio between the federals and the regionals - strategic mentality and tactical innovation. The front's regional offices should create initiatives that could be transformed at the federal level and returned to the regions with corresponding funding and administrative support. United Russia is clearly interested in making the front its subsidiary (as it happened with the Just Russia Party, which could never shake off its label of "toy opposition"), but such positioning is bound to seriously damage the image of not only Putin personally, but also the supreme authorities in general. This is fraught with the emergence of the revolutionary situation, which could well be exploited by external groups with unpredictable consequences for Russia. Alexei Mukhin is President of the Center for Political Information.


      Russia 'consecrates' North Pole to reassert ownership
      Bruce Jones and Tom Parfitt
      The Telegraph, 27 September 2012

      The service was held by Bishop Iakov on the ice alongside the nuclear icebreaker Rossiya during a polar expedition titled "Arctic-2012", organised by the country's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. The metal capsule carried the blessings of the church's leader, bearing the inscription: "With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the consecration of the North Pole marks 1150 years of Russian Statehood." The Kremlin is keen to claim the hydrocarbon riches off its northern coast despite territorial claims from other governments, and is gradually re-militarising the area. A conservative Moscow think-tank suggested in July that the Arctic Ocean should be renamed the "Russian Ocean" and this week it was announced that MiG-31 supersonic interceptor aircraft will be based in the region by the end of the year. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, who says exploiting oil and gas reserves in the North is a "strategic priority".,Related Articles Russia plans Arctic military build-up, 11 Jun 2008 Greenpeace scales Russian Arctic oil platform, 24 Aug 2012 BP may get Arctic second chance with Rosneft, 06 May 2012 At the North Pole, the bishop's service was attended by a small group of scientists and the Rossiya's captain Oleg Shchapin. It was held during an expedition to find a floe suitable for Russia's 40th drifting polar research station and to deliver a 17-strong team to man the outpost for the next year. The consecration earlier this month highlights Russia's urge to claim international waters beyond its continental shelf because of underwater ridges it says are attached to the mainland. Bishop Iakov, who is thought to be the first Russian priest to visit the pole, emphasised that the consecration symbolised efforts "to restore Russia's position and confirm its achievements in the Arctic". In 2007, in another political move, Russia planted its flag on the seabed below the polar ice cap using a remotely operated mini-submarine, symbolically laying claim to the surrounding area. The Rossiya carried on its voyage an icon and holy relics of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker, the patron saint of sailors, normally kept in the diocese's main church on dry land. Bishop Iakov was appointed last year as bishop of the newly created, most northerly diocese of Naryan-Mar and Mezen, which lies inside the Arctic Circle on the White and Barents Seas. The diocese includes the islands of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, where airfields have recently been upgraded by the Russian Air Force as operational strategic bomber stations. One airbase on Graham Bell Island boasts a 7,000-foot year-round compacted ice runway. Bishop Iakov has taken part in other polar missions, sailing the length of the contested Northern Sea Route between Scandinavia and Alaska along Russia's Arctic coast, which Russia claims and seeks to charge ships for using like the Panama Canal, but is regarded by most other countries as international waters. In 2004 the bishop consecrated an Orthodox church in Antarctica at Russia's Bellingshausen research base.


      Duma Bill Would Send Blasphemers to Jail
      By Jonathan Earle
      The St. Petersburg Times (Issue #1728), September 27, 2012

      MOSCOW - Such acts are currently considered administrative offenses punishable by a fine of up to 1,000 rubles ($30).
      The bill would also make it an administrative offense to publicly "profane" religious literature or symbols, warranting a maximum 50,000 ruble ($1,600) fine, said Nilov, who represents the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party.
      In a joint statement Tuesday that paved the way for Nilov's bill, deputies of all Duma factions described a growing attack on Russia's "centuries-old, spiritual-moral foundation" aimed at discrediting traditional values, arousing civil discord and undermining the country's sovereignty.
      The measure appeared to have the public's backing, with 82 percent of Russians supporting harsher punishments for blasphemy, according to a survey this month by the state-run VTsIOM pollster.
      Recent months have seen the attempted assassination of the chief mufti of Tatarstan, the felling of Orthodox crosses, vandalism against Orthodox churches and the jailing of three members of the punk band Pussy Riot for an anti-Kremlin performance in a Moscow church.
      The Pussy Riot case received international attention and came amid what government critics describe as a general crackdown on dissent that has included increased fines for illegal rallies, searches and new legal cases against opposition leaders, and the criminalization of slander.
      Several prominent opposition leaders denounced the anti-blasphemy bill as a violation of the constitutional right to free speech and a crude tool for punishing critics of the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church.
      The bill is a "gross violation of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of opinion and speech, including harsh opinions about the church," said Vladimir Ryzhkov, co-founder of the opposition Party of People's Freedom, Interfax reported Wednesday.
      "Interesting. Why aren't there any plans for a law that would ban offending the feelings of nonbelievers?" designer Artemy Lebedev quipped on his LiveJournal blog Tuesday.
      "[Expletive] God," he wrote.
      An Orthodox activist and a group of Orthodox believers told the Russian News Service on Wednesday that they would sue Lebedev for that remark.


      Russian Church spokesman: proposed harsher punishment for insults to religious feelings essential
      Interfax-Religion, September 27, 2012

      Moscow - A senior Russian Orthodox priest has defended a planned law to introduce stricter punishment for insulting the religious feelings of believers and vandalizing holy sites.
      "It's obvious that many in our society have been waiting for such an initiative. Except for several small but hyperactive elitist groups, it has developed a wide-scale consensus that present-day punishments for insulting the feelings of believers, objects, signs and emblems that they revere, and symbols of various world outlooks are patently insufficient," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Synodal Department for Relations between Church and Society, told the Interfax-Religion.
      Today such offenses are punishable with fines from 500 to 1,000 rubles, he mentioned.
      Insulting believers' feelings, vandalizing holy sites and items that are venerated by adherents of any religion or supporters of any non-religious world outlook "is an act of utter public danger, which sets large strata of society against each other," Chaplin said.
      He mentioned that history records quite many bloody conflicts over symbols.
      "When someone topples a symbol that is very dear to and very significant for a religious or world outlook group, it means an attack on this entire group, an attempt to assert one's power over it, subjugate and humiliate it. Therefore a war against symbols always produces a very pained reaction, and one should remember that," he said.
      He mentioned that Russian law prescribes harsh penalties for non-religious offense and for vandalizing non-religious items. He cited ethnic and racial insults and vandalizing state symbols and graves.
      "But believers have exactly the same right to the defense of something that is infinitely dear to them - after all, we have equality of world outlooks and of world outlook groups," he said.
      "By the way, it's not bad that the draft law would offer a court quite a wide freedom of choice between a fairly mild and a pretty harsh penalty. Of course, in enforcing such a rule, a court must carefully investigate the circumstances of the case, study the motives, hear both the prosecution and the defense, take it into account whether this is the first time one has committed such an act. So the range of penalties that is being proposed would provide extensive opportunities both for clemency and for strictness," the priest added.


      Head of Russian church opposes 'mindless copying' of western values
      Russia Today, September 28, 2012

      Patriarch Kirill said the Orthodox Church did not intend to merge with the state but advised to stop copying western ways and values as this would mean 'an eternal lagging behind'.
      Speaking to Moscow State University students, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church blasted those who advocated the European way of development as, in his view "imitating and copying is always inferior to the original as it lacks the original beginning, the true authorship".
      The cleric went on to suggest that such an approach was dangerous. "When you build a civilization on the foundation of imitation this means that you determine the development in such a way that it will always be dependent upon those who have given birth to the original and continues to do so" the Patriarch said. "It is dangerous to stay in the lead, at least for adults," he concluded.
      Kirill added that Russia had already known examples of "senseless and often aggressive westernization", but the true European way was not in copying, but in understanding one's own European roots and return to these roots with understanding of all particular details in the cultural and historical environment.
      The Patriarch stressed that the European civilization was based on two cornerstones - Greco-Roman philosophical traditions and the Biblical Revelation. He then said that the Russian civilization, which is a direct heir to the Byzantine Empire, has managed to keep the tradition for centuries and is still viable.
      The head of the Russian Orthodox Church also assured his audience that the Church did not intend to become the official state religion in the Russian Federation. He added that Russia is now one of the most secular countries in Europe and stressed that the Church was not interested even in obtaining the status that some churches possess in various European countries.
      This time Kirill did not speak of the alleged concentrated attack on the Russian Orthodox Church, mentioned by him and other top clerics in previous statements. But the chairman of the Russian Lower House, Sergey Naryshkin, who delivered a speech at the same conference, filled this gap by saying that "when certain forces attempt to play on contradictions inside the society it is very important to know the history of our state, including the last 20 years of it."Naryshkin apparently meant the revival of all major religions in the Russian Federation following the 70 years of repressions during Soviet times.
      Earlier top clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church suggested that some unnamed anti-Christian forces had launched an attack on the Christian Faith, most notably with last year's 'punk prayer' by the girls presenting themselves as the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Three members of the band were detained, tried and sentenced to two years each for aggravated hooliganism. The sentence caused a wave of protests, including a series of incidents when people desecrated icons and chopped down crosses in various regions of Russia.
      This prompted parliament to quickly prepare and start to consider a draft law on insulting believers' feelings. The current draft suggests that aggravated vandalism should be punished with up to five years in prison. The State Duma promised to approve the bill before the end of the autumn session.


      Patriarch Kirill cautions against copying Western political, cultural models in Russia
      Interfax-Religion, September 28, 2012

      Moscow, September 28, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes blind imitation of the West will destine Russia for eternal backwardness.
      "When they tell us about a European development path, they as a rule mean imitation and reproduction of Western political and cultural models. Imitation is always worse than the original," Patriarch Kirill told an international conference on Russian history held in Moscow State University on Friday.
      Those who imitate something place themselves in a subjugated position in relation to the author of the original, he said.
      "For this reason, if we build our civilization on the basis of imitation, this means determining development in such a way that it will always be behind those who made the original. Being the one who is led is dangerous, at least for an adult," Patriarch Kirill said.
      The Patriarch recalled that "thoughtless and sometimes aggressive westernization" has taken place in Russian history before. A truly European way envisages " the realization of one's own European roots and return to them with regard for specific cultural and historical conditions, not imitation of foreign things," the Patriarch said.
      He pointed out that the foundation of European civilization, which includes Russia, is based on two cornerstones: Greek-Roman philosophy and biblical revelations.
      Patriarch Kirill said it was the Orthodox faith and the learning it helped to spread that included Rus and later Russia in the cultural tradition of the Roman Empire.
      "Being the successors of Byzantine, we at the same time have maintained out Slavic identity through ages. The civilization whose foundation was laid by the genius and works of Sts Cyril and Methodius is still viable and joins European cultural and intellectual heritage with Orthodox spirituality and the Slavic outlook on life," he said.


      Chechen court outlaws 'Innocence of Muslims' in Russia
      Evgeniya Chaykovskaya
      The Moscow News, September 28, 2012

      The Leninsky court in the Chechen capital of Grozny has outlawed the scandalous film "Innocence of Muslims" and banned its screening and distribution in all mass media or by individuals, Chechen Ethnic Policy, Print and Information Minister Murat Tagiyev told journalists on Friday.
      Based on the decision, YouTube owner Google announced that it would block the video for Russian users, RIA Novosti reported.
      Film is insulting - minister
      Murat Tagiyev said that Chechen authorities went to court because "the film portrays the life of Prophet Muhammad and his companions in a distorted and insulting manner."
      He said the court decided that "not taking the necessary measures to prevent the uncontrolled distribution of this insulting to religious feelings, socially dangerous and provocative video material may cause serious negative consequences."
      These consequences could be connected with "destabilising the political situation in the whole region, where a significant portion of the population professes Islam."
      Decision binding for Russia
      According to the existing law, any decision on extremist materials made by any Russian court must be enforced across the country. Thus showing "Innocence of Muslims" anywhere in Russia is illegal.
      At the same time, other Russian courts can also make decisions on the movie and if they contradict each other, the High Court must make the final decision.
      Any Russian citizen could also appeal the decision in 10 days, and until then the video can only be blocked temporarily. After the decision comes into force, Roskomnadzor, the Russian the communications watchdog, will be able to add it to the list of extremist materials.
      Representatives of the regional branch of Roskomnadzor, internet providers Chechenskaya Sotovaya Svyaz, Oranzh, Elektrosvyaz, MTS and the Caucasus branch of Megafon were present at the hearings. The court fully satisfied their lawsuit, ruling that the distribution of "Innocence of Muslims" online and from other sources should be stopped, but explained that it was a preliminary measure.
      Unrest over 'Innocence of Muslims'
      Last Thursday, media reported unrest in the Caucasus over the movie that has caused riots in many countries. The Caucasus region deputy head of the prosecutor's office, Alexei Vasilkov, said there was unrest, but did not say where.
      Earlier, prosecutors from Chukotka, Altai, Khakassia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Omsk region and Ingushetia demanded that Internet providers block access to the movie. However, Ingushetia's providers refused, citing a lack of a court decision and lawsuits they could incur.
      On Oct. 1, a Moscow court will hear a case on the controversial film.


      Happy Milkman's dairy products targeted by anti-gay organization for rainbow packaging
      Nathan Toohey, September 28, 2012

      The St. Petersburg branch of the People's Council, which is best known for its protests against Madonna's recent St. Petersburg concert and its general anti-homosexual lobbying, has come out against the Happy Milkman brand of dairy products for their display of a rainbow next to the jovial dairy farmer on its products' packaging.
      "This is the international symbol of the homosexual movement," Interfax quoted Anatoly Artyukh, the leader of the St. Petersburg People's Council branch, as saying. He added that a request to investigate the milk producer had been sent to the Prosecutor's Office and that pickets were being prepared to convince customers to boycott the products.
      "We will convince everyone so that the people will not buy it. We will start picketing next week. It is not a secret that the Will Bill Dann company [which owns the Happy Milkman brand] belongs to PepsiCo and you can consider this its plot - to create such propaganda."



      Russian policy in the Post-Soviet area: cycles and labyrinths
      Irina Bolgova PhD in History, Post-Soviet Studies Center at the MGIMO University
      Russian International Affairs Council, 26 January 2012

      Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union politicians and pundits are still concerned about the interests Russia should pursue in the post-Soviet area and prospects of their realization. The assessments of the Russian policy in the post-Soviet area range from highly pessimistic with doubts about the necessity of continued integration efforts to enthusiastic ones predicting a stronger political influence and economic growth of Russia due to greater cooperation with the closest geographic neighbors.
      "A Civilized Divorce" as the "Greatest Geopolitical Catastrophe of the 20th Century"
      Difficulties involved in the construction of new independent states were similar for all the former Soviet republics, with one priority - not the least important - the necessity to change the relations with foreign partners. Russia had to integrate into the global democratic context, with the simultaneous resolution of the fundamental security problems in the disintegrated military and political space and creation of conditions for economic stabilization and further development. At the initial stage the external influence was decisive. The Russian leadership proclaiming a policy of "democratic solidarity" with the West focused on solving the most important problems: nuclear-free status of Ukraine, Belorussia and Kazakhstan, prevention of mass bloodshed in the conflict areas of Georgia, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Tajikistan, maintenance of the minimal economic stability level inside the country.
      Refusal to preserve the single ruble zone was natural and seminal for Russian relations with the post-Soviet space states.
      The results achieved by 1994-1995 matched the efforts made. Due to certain pressure on the part of the international community primarily concerned about the nuclear problem, this issue was solved and taken off the agenda. The hot phase of the conflicts of self-determination in the newly formed independent states with Russia's active mediation was over and the established modus operandi remained unchanged till August 2008. Russia linked its further economic development with material and ideological assistance of the West, which shaped the economic policy of the first half of the1990s on the basis of "the Washington consensus". The burden of vertically oriented links with the former Soviet republics, considerable indirect subsidies to the new national economies which often freeloaded on the remaining links ,were regarded as an obstacle to the movement in the new direction. Refusal to preserve the single ruble zone was natural and seminal for Russian relations with the post-Soviet space states. The step, tactically motivated, in many ways predetermined further controversies in the Russian strategy of economic interaction with the CIS countries.
      The Burden of Desires
      Shortly after the phase of uncertainty in the post-Soviet space was over, when it became apparent that large-scale destabilization and irreparable harm to the continental and global security had been avoided, the Russian leadership was confronted with disappointingly cooling attention on the part of Western assistants. Changes in the rhetoric and practice of Russian foreign policy also affected the attitude to the post-Soviet space. The conceptual vision of future cooperation was set forth in the document "The Strategic Course of Russia with the States-Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States" (1995). In practice, Russian initiatives were confined to attempts of multilateral and bilateral reintegration of national economies. The decline of the real sector of the economy, lower industrial output, opening up of new markets for the products of developed countries stepped up the competition for Russian companies on the post-Soviet markets. It resulted in gradual curtailment of Russian exports to the CIS countries against the background of efforts to create institutional formats, above all various customs unions which could protect the regional markets from outside expansion. However, the similarity of the commodity range of the post-Soviet exports (mainly natural resources and agricultural produce) alongside with the desire to expand the circle of extra-regional partners predetermined the competitive character of foreign trade aspirations of the new independent countries. It hampered the promotion of Russian initiatives beyond the declaration level. The institutional projects remained in the logical context of "integration for survival", collided with the counter- activity of major international operators and did not give Russia an opportunity to affirm its regional leadership. The tactical component was unfavorable: continued subsidizing of national economies (in the form of lower prices for energy resources as compared with the world prices) did not produce the desired political effect and was aggravated by the asymmetry of the results which were immediately visible to the partner states but whose effect was delayed and uncertain for Russia.
      Unavoidable Responsibility
      The present policy of Russiain the post-Soviet area in many ways is determined by this multifaceted post-bipolar legacy. Activity vectors of external players have been determined and not challenged since the early 2000s. Russia has to further its national interests in the context of the military presence of the USA in Central Asia, greater economic influence of China, expansion of European Union activity formats in the western part of the CIS. Commitment to multi-vector foreign policy, a desire to determine by themselves the distance in relations with Russia are typical even of those states which are regarded as allies in the post-Soviet area. In this situation the goals of the Russian foreign policy consist in determining the parameters of multilateral interaction with the region on the basis of Russia's own interests which involve maintaining national security and forming the international economic centre capable of enhancing Russia's influence in the world.
      As shown by the political crises of recent years (in Moldavia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan), Russia is the only player able to assume responsibility and ensure stability in the post-Soviet space. Alongside with obvious internalization of conflict solution processes Russia continues be the initiator of key stages of these processes and in many ways forms the international policy framework in which they unfold. After a short general bewilderment caused by the five-day war in August 2008 and its political aftermath, the involved players in one way or another recognized the right of Russia to determine mechanisms and level of foreign involvement in the situations of conflict and post-conflict settlement. Political declarations welcome the expansion of the circle of mediators; support the activity of existing multilateral formats and creation of new ones (for example, the Mezeberg Memorandum on Creation of the EU-Russia Committee on foreign policy and security issues on the ministerial level). However, the range of instruments of the Russian foreign policy is quite self-sufficient here.
      The promotion of integration initiatives is a method of increasing one's own economic resources
      At the same time the political issues depend on the pragmatic economic interests which is openly admitted in the seminal foreign policy documents of Russia. The promotion of integration initiatives is a method of increasing one's own economic resources, in particular due to the increase in the aggregate economic potential and rational use of the multilateral cooperation environment. Yet it is evident that the existing system of internal mutual links and outside influence determines the major paradox of the current situation: Russia acts as a major sponsor of economic and political processes in the sphere of its privileged interests and simultaneously is their major hostage. Meticulously assembled chain of interdependence in the framework of collective security formats (first of all CSTO) and economic convergence (the Common Economic Space with the declared prospect of developing the Eurasian Union can be ruptured in one of its links; the donor state finds itself in a trap of necessity to keep it intact at all costs.
      The major issue of the present-day development of Russia on the post-Soviet space is still a problem of finding a new basis for mutual relations which is not determined by the common past but oriented towards the commonality of the future. Integration as an end in itself does not make sense and has no prospects while common future should take into account the direction of the global development vector in order to have the potential to influence it.


      Bronze Soldiers, Russia, Europe, Idealism, and Realpolitik
      By Andrey Makarychev
      PONARS, 2 May 2012

      Vladimir Putin's comeback to the Kremlin continues to ignite polemics about the future of Russia-EU relations. With an eye toward the upcoming PONARS Eurasia workshop in Estonia (see the previous post on this page), let me remark on what Kristina Ojuland, a former Estonian Foreign Minister, said recently at the informative "Europe meets Russia" conference in Berlin held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
      Ojuland began by taking a very normative position, proclaiming that the "democracy agenda is back on the table again in EU's Russia policy." However, she insisted that Russia is an autocratic and corrupted regime, which makes the prospects of strategic partnership with the EU rather bleak.
      Moreover, in her view, the EU - especially the European parliament - won't continue a "business as usual" policy with Russia. More specifically, the EU will increase its support for civil society and opposition, and seek to finalize the "Magnitsky bill" legal procedures. Ojuland mentioned that in the last two years the European Parliament adopted six critical resolutions on Russia and she underlined the importance of the Council of Europe, saying that either Russia respects its normative obligations or "it may leave."
      Fielding a question about comparing Boris Yeltsin's 1996 election to the 2012 elections, she indicated that there were expectations then that Russia was moving in the right direction, which is absolutely not the case of Putin's regime.
      Another former Estonian Foreign Minister, Raul Malk, admitted that the 1990s was a time of opportunities lost not only for Russia, but for the West as well. During several years of his diplomatic work in Brussels, Malk could recall only three or four situations when Russia was seriously discussed by the EU Commission. He dalso said that Russia "understands the workings of the Eu very well, but they don't like it."
      Malik sees the key problem for Russia in its overwhelming adherence to Realpolitik, which leads to the underestimation of non-material ("soft") instruments of power. It is true that Russia has enormous problems with its image all across Europe, but how strong is Russia's commitment to Realpolitik?
      Apparently, apart from undeniable elements of realist policies, Russia very often acts out of typically idealist premises as well, thus making its foreign policy a mixture of multidirectional moves. Russia's nervous reaction to the relocation of the Bronze Soldier monument from Tallinn's downtown to the military cemetery was quite idealistic in its background. Russia's intention to preserve the Soviet heritage, yet without engaging in a new Cold War, also contains a great deal of idealism.
      Russian discourse on BRICS (especially attempts to present it as an incarnation of "civilizational harmony") looks very idealistic as well. I would even argue that the concept of multipolarity, despite its obvious realist pedigree in the West, was re-signified by the Kremlin as an idealistic concept.
      Another interesting voice from Berlin was Fraser Cameron, director of the EU-Russia Center in Brussels. His interpretation of the Putin regime was that instead of looking at it as a combination of realist and idealist components, he dubbed Putin as a "pragmatic nationalist."
      This formula leaves some chances for pragmatic exchanges in the future. Take for example the EU-Russian negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which were stalled for years because of Russia's difficulties with accending to the WTO, but since this issue is solved, Russia won't be able to keep introducing selective discriminatory measures against various partners, the relief of the EU.
      This may cause the much needed perceptional shift in Moscow, since it is not the EU that pressures Russia so much as the obligations on Russia to follow institutional rules that have to be observed by the Kremlin, be it WTO or the Council of Europe.
      In Cameron's prediction, this pragmatic attitude can assuage Russia's feeling of insecurity as grounded in its painful transformation from empire to regional power. In this capacity, as he ironically noted, Russia is free to presume that it is its association with countries like Kazakhstan and Belarus that streamlines Russia's modernization.
      Among topics, Aureliu Ciocoi, Ambassador of Moldova to Germany, characterized the appointment of Dmitry Rogozin as the presidential representative on the Transniestian conflict as a surprising and unfriendly gesture by Moscow. On a more general note. Ciocoi assumed that the biggest trouble for Russian diplomacy comes from its expectation that someone in the West is going to hurt Russia - "a kind of complex inherited from the old times," Ciocoi said, continuing, "Russia needs to understand that the real challenges come from China, while the Western countries are Russia's closest partners."
      Yet Karl-Erik Norrman, the Swedish diplomat and EU insider, noticed that the only example of Russia' adaptation of European values was the moratorium on capital punishment. In all other cases, indeed, the issue of common norms is substituted by the repeated references to Russia's indispensability to Europe.
      This point was nicely illustrated by Armen Oganesian, editor-in-chief of the Russian "International Affairs" magazine, who said that Europe has to accept Russia as it is, without expecting significant changes in its behavior - a notion that the Kremlin often repeats.
      In Oganesian's view, Russian European identity is completely derived either from history or geography. This argument could be comfortable, but it misses a very important point: in international debates, Europe is discussed not as a territory, but as a socially constructed concept.
      "Europe is not in a position to teach Russia," claimed Oganesian. Perhaps, this is politically a very correct statement, but the whole logic of international socialization is about studying and learning, and Russia's refusal to be part of this everlasting process certainly raises doubts about its ability to get socialized in the European milieu.
      The Bologna process, in Oganesian's view, was imposed on Russia and ultimately was detrimental to Russian higher education. PerhapsÂ… but aren't the core problems with Russian Universities the mismanagement, corruption and flight of cadres?
      Russia desperately wants to prove its normalcy, argued Oganesian, yet without undertaking any serious reforms, "Trust is a result of negotiating process, not its precondition," again pointing to the same message: Europe has to keep working with Russia, regardless of who we are and what we do inside.
      So I asked him about the Khodorkovsky affair? "It's old stuff," he said.
      Identity crisis? "It is all across Europe."
      Violations of human rights? "This happens in the EU and United States as well."
      And so on and so forth.
      Yet at least once this logic obviously proved its irrelevance. "Why do you deal with the Karzai government and are reluctant to admit Russia as a partner," Oganesian rhetorically asked those around him. Immediately Cameron said, "Afghanistan is not a member of the Council of Europe."
      I think latter moment is the crucial point of the Berlin discussions. Should Russia proclaim itself a despotic tyranny, those in Europe could clear away false illusions, but since Russia constantly tries to reiterate its belongingness to Europe, it has to match the whole set of European criteria of human rights, democracy, and civil society.
      This was the key message of the former prime minister of Russia, Mikhail Kasyanov, who suggested that both Russia and the EU face deeply political challenges. The key Russian issue is that fully fledged implementation of liberal values in Russia ultimately means the removal of the current regime. The most important political question from the EU side is whether major European countries will help to legitimize the Putin's rule, thus partly compensating its limited domestic legitimacy.
      On the colorful side, the visit of conference participants to the Russian Embassy in Berlin only confirmed that the Russian state has serious problems with presenting its image abroad positively. Russian diplomats quoted Russian Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov - the same way as their predecessors quoted Brezhnev. They did their best to make their foreign guests excited about the grandeur of the Embassy building, but were much less convincing in explaining the European prospects of Russia, substituting analysis by expectations ("we hope", "we anticipate", etc.).
      As in any group of people with different backgrounds there were voices among conference participants calling for more pragmatism in EU-Russia relations. In other words, EU and Russia have to do business together, and thus need to think in terms of gaining or losing money, rather than about common norms. In my view, this is a false distinction. Even if we trade with each other, we must think of how trustful our partners are, and whether they are committed to the common rules of the game. Pragmatism is in no way an indulgence for corruption or power abuses.


      Russia is building an "iron fist" to deter the West: A National Consensus in Moscow on Pursuing a Revisionist Strategy
      By Pavel Felgenhauer
      Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume 13 Issue. September 17, 2012

      In an interview published on September 26 in the official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of armaments Dmitry Rogozin, highly praised President Vladimir Putin's plans to "reindustrialize Russia" by spending hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild its defense industry. During his reelection this year for third term as Russia's president, Putin promised to create 25 million new "high-tech jobs" and, according to Rogozin, up to 17 million of those new "high-tech jobs" will be created within the revitalized defense industry. Russia will once again become a true industrial world powerhouse, while at the same time transforming its military into an "iron fist" to deter the West. Rogozin, a former flamboyant populist-nationalist politician, served as Russia's chief representative in NATO headquarters in Brussels from January 2008 to December 2011. In the Rossiyskaya Gazeta interview Rogozin recalls his NATO experience, insisting that the Western "civilized world" recognizes only raw military power, while "smart power" and "soft power" are only nice words. According to Rogozin, Russia will be acquiring Western know-how and technologies to revamp its military prowess. It does not have "global military expeditionary plans," but may use its newly found might closer to its home territory (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, September 26).
      After the fall of Communist rule in 1991, Western and Russian leaders have time and again publicly declared the Cold War over and that the former Cold War adversaries are no longer enemies. Since 2009, this assumption has been the backbone of the Barack Obama administration's policy of "reset" of relations with Russia. It turns out the view from Moscow is different: the US and the US-led alliance of Western nations are seen as the primary long-term adversary that Russia must arm against at all costs and oppose, while partial security cooperation and tactical agreements on issues like Iran and Afghanistan are temporary, opportunistic in nature and may be abandoned as soon as plans to turn Russia into a world industrial and military powerhouse are realized.
      Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the CAST (Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) think tank, closely associated with the defense ministry, writes that "a national consensus exists in the Russian elite on state-building, defense and foreign policy." This "consensus" has effectively replaced Russian official military and national security doctrines that are formal documents in most respect, used for propaganda and window-dressing. According to Pukhov, the "consensus" is not only shared by the Putin apparatchiki in the Kremlin, but also by most of the anti-Putin prodemocracy opposition leaders, "except some marginal ultraliberal radicals" (VPK, September 12).
      Russia must restore itself as an economic, military and political superpower, which involves not only rebuilding its military, industrial and technological base, but also reestablishing absolute dominance in its "natural sphere of influencethe former Soviet republics," that gained independence in 1991. All of Russia's neighbors are seen as potential adversaries, "especially pro-Western, nationalistic anti-Russian entities, like Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltic states." The present "Moscow consensus," according to Pukhov, recognizes that Russia must dislodge, using soft power or direct military efforts against all neighboring anti-Russian regimes and limit Western influence. Since the US and the US-led alliance of Western nations actively oppose Russian efforts to reestablish its dominance, they are Russia's chief enemy. Other, "non-Western powers," like China and Iran are seen as a much lesser threat, since they at present do not actively oppose Moscow's strategic revisionism. Of course, Moscow needs the West as a source of capital and technologies and does not want to engage in a global all-out confrontation, as during the Cold War. This makes Russian foreign policy ambivalent and partially susceptible to the policy of "reset" (VPK, September 12, VPK, September 19).
      Pukhov declares Russia a "revisionist power" that is outside the Western world, is opposed to the present world order and must destabilize it in order to achieve its national ambitions. The Russian military must prepare to fight and win low-intensity conflicts with separatists inside Russia and in neighboring states, like the war with Georgia in August 2008. At the same time Russia must develop conventional military capabilities to successfully prevent the "incursion of US forces into the post-Soviet space" without the use (or with pinpoint tactical use) of nuclear weapons. At the same time the strategic nuclear parity with the US must be maintained as a deterrence of last resort. Overall Russia must build an armed force that could give it a free hand in dealing with neighbors within its sphere of influence, while depriving the West of any hope to intervene. A global nuclear confrontation with the US is seen as highly improbable in the foreseeable future, unlike low-level conflicts within the post-Soviet space (VPK, September 12, VPK, September 19).
      Last week, the strategic Kavkaz-2012 war games were enacted in the North Caucasus as well as in the Black and Caspian Seas. A simultaneous exercise Vzaimodeistviye-2012, involving the Russian military, was held in Armenia under the mantle of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). New precision-guided weapons were used as well as network-centric, command, control and communications capabilities. The Kavkaz-2012 exercises were held under a cloak of unprecedented secrecy and Western military observers were not invited (EDM, September 20). According to remarks by Chief of General Staff Army-General Nikolai Makarov, the Kavkaz-2012 "involved the resolving of two distinct very important strategic tasks: to use troops to resolve an internal conflict, while at the same time repulse an external conflict" (www.kremlin.ru, September <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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