Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

Ruble news:

More moaning and groaning from another of Putin’s bankers:

Cheese!

Even as Russia’s “liberals” laud sanctions:

Who doesn’t want cheap Russian sausages?

The Sistema affair continues:

This is one way to keep people home this holiday season:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

Navalny is still giving out interviews like candy at Halloween:

Great resource:

The 2010 census keeps giving:

Still looks like this is just a rumor:

And naturally Peskov denies (but we know what his word is worth):

More corruption allegations from Navalny:

At least these people still have a home?

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

Russia is driving Daghestan into a ditch:

Ramzan Kadyrov is getting a new airport:

Here’s his excuse:

 

UKRAINE

 

More propaganda from Russia about Nazi Ukrainians:

The next invasion of Ukraine has begun:

We have a deal!

But it faces skepticism:

 

 

COLD WAR 2

 

Off again on the Mistral delivery:

Like this Facebook page:

Map of Russian air activity over the past few days:

Finland gets annoyed:

As more Russian citizens flee Putin’s Russia, are they really safe living abroad?

This is sad, but probably true:

 

CRIMEA

 

Says it will only cost ¼ of what the bridge will cost:

 

GEORGIA

 

Georgia’s Minister of Defense visits troops in Germany:

But things are not looking good for him at home:

Georgian food!

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

40 minute lecture, but worth taking a peak:

Prague for tourists:

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Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

Ruble continues to fall:

More counter-sanctions?

And in English:

Rosneft denies:

But Sechin does want more money, and has no shame in admitting it:

He still might not get what he wants, however:

The current sanctions appear to have backfired:

Capital flight prediction:

And inflation:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

The World Cup in 2018 is going to be great:

Fun rumor:

It only took 5 days for Peskov to finally jump in on the Putin has pancreatic cancer rumors:

And another poll of Russian attitudes:

LOL?

Anecdotal evidence but worth taking note of:

The Russian March on 4 November:

And:

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

Did they include Umarov in this list?

I cannot say Daghestan without sighing anymore:

 

COLD WAR 2

 

More hacking scandals:

And more Russian muscle flexing:

This was weird:

Sweden wants NATO more than ever:

The Mistral warship delivery is still up in the air:

Pretty big statement:

Russia upset by news report about the US embassy being harrassed in Moscow:

 

UKRAINE

 

The waiting game:

A coalition government is in the works:

Savchenko is still under arrest in Moscow:

 

CRIMEA

 

This NPR series is worth listening to:

More human rights worries:

 

GEORGIA

 

Javakheti continues to be a problem:

Is Saakashvili planning a glorious return?

Georgia’s PM downplays it:

South Ossetia wants to be annexed, but Russia doesn’t want it:

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Russia’s World Cup logo becomes a joke online:

Two Photo Series of the Day:

And:

Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

And unsurprisingly:

The Russians seem to believe they can ‘influence’ countries like Slovakia, Cyprus, and Bulgaria into dropping the sanctions:

He’s right:

And nobody wants Russian bonds:

Another Russian company takes the EU to court:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

But this was already a problem during the holidays last year:

A corruption scandal hits the Russian government (though they probably don’t care):

Government backed march of 20K approved for 4 November after nationalist “Russky March” was sent out to Moscow’s suburbs

This is low when compared to Putin’s approval rating:

He looks half-dead here:

Crackdown:

Really, the World Cup in Russia is going to be great:

And Blatter defends it:

Revealed!

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

It is sad that this is news:

Bane of my existence, truly:

 

UKRAINE

 

Disgusting:

The Battle for Donetsk:

Just in time for the elections?

Happy Holiday, Ukraine:

https://twitter.com/PoroshenkoEng/status/527166721179009025

 

COLD WAR 2

 

Another sub spotting:

The harassment of US Embassy employees in Moscow story got a snide response:

 

CRIMEA

 

NPR has started a radio series on Crimea:

Dead in the water? Or will Kadyrov try again?

 

GEORGIA

 

More odd goings-on in Pankisi reminded me that I don’t like trends:

Member of Abkhazia government-in-exile killed after water heater exploded in the middle of the night at his office:

This probably should not be as surprising as it was:

Alasania is not coming back:

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

For the Poles:

Pankisi 2

Another rumor emerged a couple of days about the man who is allegedly overseeing ISIS in Iraq. According to an unconfirmed report, the Chechen known as Abu Omar al-Shishani (aka Tarkhan Batirashvili) had been ordered to Kobane in Syria. Whether Shishani ends up in Kobane remains to be seen, but people are certainly interested in this mysterious man and his origins.

By my count, no fewer than four different English-language journalists have gone to Pankisi in the last month or so. I have recounted and discussed the results of one journalist’s report on Pankisi that was published earlier this month here. Now, The Daily Beast has another article about the Pankisi fighters who are ISIS masterminds.

Frankly, the article reads like a Tom Clancy novel. It is hyperbolic and romantic, featuring a “mother of martyrs” and a young Chechen woman who “With big brown eyes, long lashes, and voluptuous features, she was once one of Chechnya’s most desired brides.”

There are just too many holes in this story for it to be believable, and it brings up more questions than it answers.

How likely is it that a 19-year-old girl living a privileged life in Ramzan Kadyrov’s Grozny is going to go searching for a Muslim fighter on the Internet? And why is there never any question of the veracity of the narrative of either parent?

The 19-year-old girl from Chechnya, Seda, is almost certainly a real person, anyway. Her story first came to prominence in November 2013, when Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov announced on his Instagram that he was sacking the chief of the local Federal Migration Service.

The bureaucrat Dudurkaev had held his position for more than 10 years at that point (longer than Kadyrov had been in power himself). In his note, Kadyrov first mentioned corruption in Dudarkaev’s office, a complaint that had dogged Dudurkaev for years (see this Memorial report from 2006). Kadyrov then launched into a scathing diatribe about Dudurkaev’s inability to control his own daughter, who had run off to Syria [text translated by Joanna Paraszczuk].

 

“Moreover, Dudurkaev, as the leader of one of the most important structures, has no moral right to speak with subordinates about morality and patriotism and religion. His own daughter is in the ranks of the Wahhabis and bandits, who are shedding the blood of civilians, and blowing up Islamic shrines in Syria.”

 

A month later, Russia’s LifeNews published another account of the story of Dudurkaev’s runaway daughter. In this version, Seda had met an unnamed boy and been communicating with him for over a year. It is unclear if they ever met in real life, or had been conducting their relationship solely online. In May of 2013, Seda had gone to Turkey with a friend, and run away to meet her “love” in Syria from there. She refused to return home even after she had been tracked down, saying that she was “married according to the Muslim tradition”. However, the article made no mention of whom she had married, nor of any connection to Pankisi.

Meanwhile, Tarkhan’s father’s interview most recent is also given to melodrama. No parent wants to say that their child is a mediocrity. A child’s actions reflect on the parent regardless of culture. Of course, a parent wants to make their child sound clever and powerful, and so on. As time has gone on, Tarkhan has gotten a bit more important, and a bit more skilled, until this interview when he is suddenly portrayed by his father as a victim of an older, more experienced brother.

In a BBC interview published this past summer, Umar’s father barely mentioned his middle son, Tamaz. And then only in passing. A casual mention of the fact that Tamaz had fought in Chechnya for two years. And another when he says all three of his sons are “Wahabbi”. In the summer interview, Temur is acting on his own. But now suddenly Tamaz has become the leader behind the scenes.

In addition, some have questioned the fact that Temur is in regular contact with his son, Tarkhan. In the BBC interview, Temur says Tarkhan phoned him once [English translation by Joanna Paraszczuk]:

He asked if I prayed. And I said, “Of course I pray. The St George holiday is coming up and I will buy candles and light them for my sons”. When he heard that I was continuing with Christian prayers, he hung up.

Is it likely that they would have talked again after that?

I don’t intend to disparage anybody or cast blame here. But I have a lot of questions, and this story does not answer them. Wouldn’t an interview format have been just as effective in getting the message across? It certainly would have given the readers the opportunity to make up their own minds about the veracity of the story. Sensationalism sells, of course, and that is clearly coming into play with these stories about Pankisi and the influence of its fighters in Iraq and Syria. It is just unfortunate that a wonderful place like Pankisi has been turned into a geopolitical battleground.

 

EDIT: It appears that the ‘interview’ with Leila was taken from this one that she gave to the Georgian press in January.

Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

Energy prices continue sliding:

Duma passes first reading of new budget, despite Finance Minister Siluanov’s warnings:

The drama with Sistema and Bashneft continued in court:

Highest prediction seen so far:

And the oligarchs start to feel sanctions’ sting:

Now it’s the air traffic controllers’ fault:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

Another oppositionist gets searched:

MPs told they have to return their diplomatic passports:

But employees at government corporations can go where they want?

Putinism & where it ends (2-5 years):

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

Unsurprisingly, reforming Daghestan is not an easy task:

 

COLD WAR 2

 

Lithuania opens its new LNG terminal:

This sounds like it is probably somewhat awkward:

Poland readjusts:

“Reset”?

And Prague is still a den of spies:

More hacking scandals:

And

 

UKRAINE

 

Turnout in Ukraine’s elections were at a little more than half, which is lower than previous elections, but not bad for a democracy:

Even as the shelling starts up again:

Though we should not be surprised by that fact:

Russia seems unsure how to respond at a diplomatic level at this point:

But not militarily, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues:

 

CRIMEA

 

Finally a statement:

And a report:

But:

And:

 

GEORGIA

 

More on the tense situation in Javakheti:

Georgia’s Prime Minister is living in a fantasy world of his own:

What happens when you hold a Security Council meeting but nobody shows?

Text for this is in Georgian, but the photos are worth looking at:

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Long but excellent read on Western & Russian attitudes to post-Soviet states:

Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

More worries that falling gas prices will hit Russia’s economy hard:

Putin is still looking for a way out of sanctions:

Because:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

Nord-Ost memorial:

Russia is now permanently on winter time:

Is Russia’s collapse only a matter of time?

Another self-exiled Russian:

And another article on Russians fleeing Russia:

 

UKRAINE

 

Ukraine voted:

And in Donetsk:

Refugees from Ukraine are ending up in unexpected places:

 

COLD WAR 2

 

This is possibly connected to Poland’s recent spy scandal:

And:

 

CRIMEA

 

Russia’s only access point to Crimea looks like this:

 

GEORGIA

 

Saakashvili endorses the protest on 15 November:

More troubles in Javakheti turned into a full history lesson at our house:

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Photos of the day:

 

Notes

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

Putinism:

 

 

COLD WAR 2

 

More on the stand-off between Russia and Europe:

The Swedes gave up and went home:

 

UKRAINE

 

Sunday is the election in Ukraine:

 

GEORGIA

 

Observation on the situation in Javakheti:

Even as the Georgian Orthodox church ups the ante:

And more strange goings-on in Tbilisi:

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Photos:

Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

Rosneft’s Sechin said this in Italy:

No technology, though, so we’ll see how it works out:

Okay, then:

McDonalds lost $9 billion in its last quarter earnings in Russia:

Merkel standing strong:

How much did this cost?

Someone is worried anyway:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

In case you missed it:

Someone suggested this means Putin is afraid of Russia’s far right:

Propaganda works:

Vedomosti just doesn’t care anymore:

And from another Russian who fled:

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

More detentions:

 

UKRAINE

 

Tightening the screws:

Downsizing:

Ukraine on the potential gas deal with Russia:

And:

 

COLD WAR 2

 

“This is the weirdest story”:

But so is this:

The End?

As Estonia continues to face harassment:

On the disconnect between Russia and the West:

This was the title of Putin’s ramblings in Sochi today:

LOL?

Putinism:

More:

And still more:

And is Putin’s craziness just an act?

Long read on Poland’s missile defense program:

 

CRIMEA

 

Before or after Sunday’s election?

Crimea could turn into another Chechnya for Russia:

 

GEORGIA

 

Meanwhile in Javakheti:

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Another one bites the dust:

A mention from Kasparov!

Thought for the day:

Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

Russia’s Central Bank is still spending to prop up the ruble:

Reminder that Moody’s downgraded last week:

One way of looking at it:

But Moody’s warns against such a decision:

Despite sanctions, Sechin somehow made it to Italy:

But who would buy it?

We are all shocked by this:

Bashneft case gets postponed again:

Stranger and stranger:

And stranger:

Background on another of Putin’s bankers:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

Alcohol was probably involved in this poor decision:

Bears keeping an eye on:

Alexei Navalny is giving interviews from home like candy at Halloween:

Perplexing:

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

More photos from Chechnya:

Daghestan’s Abdulatipov appears to be fighting for his career:

 

COLD WAR 2

 

‘The Hunt for Black October’ is not the first such incident in recent years:

You mock but…

On the Mistral contract:

Though France seems to think they have some kind of out:

The CSTO is not NATO:

 

 

UKRAINE

 

How much is the life of a dead Russian soldier worth?

Compare:

More evidence of Russian troop involvement in Ukraine:

And:

Sergei Ivanov stays on message:

Long read, but big takeaway:

 

 

GEORGIA

 

Spot the disconnect in this quote:

More troubles in Javakheti:

Deadline for compliance postponed until 1 March 2015, but:

Something struck me as odd about this:

Of roads and fools (and license plates):

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Self-plug

The Uzbekistan cotton fields–another of my campaigns:

Advertisement for Armenia in the New York Times:

Notes

 

ECONOMY

 

Both:

More counter-sanctions:

I sure am glad we granted Russia WTO membership:

When hope is all you have:

The money from the reserves has already been spent:

That’s 2/3rds of the reserves:

But:

Kudrin may be right, but only because the Europeans don’t have anybody else to slap sanctions on:

He is probably correct here too:

This story keeps getting stranger:

And, of course, Zhirinovsky has an opinion:

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

 

“Putinism”:

There is no political will to resolve this:

My return to Global Voices:

 

NORTH CAUCASUS

 

Let’s talk about your Instagram addiction:

 

UKRAINE

 

This is where we stand on the gas talks:

Is this offer still on the table?

One way to win an election:

 

COLD WAR 2

 

A transcript for those who doubted:

And Saakashvili backs up Sikorski:

A forgotten story:

Odd:

And in the midst of “The Hunt for Black October”:

A denial:

 

CRIMEA

 

Can we talk about this?

 

GEORGIA

 

More than you probably ever wanted to know, really:

More on Tuesday’s protests:

 

 

ODDS & ENDS

 

Comic of the Day:

Long Read:

It has been 12 years since Dubrovka:

Photo of the Day: