Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Putin's Russia

The Guardian reports on police arresting protesters and suppressing political protest ahead of Vladimir Putin's inauguration for a fourth term as President of Russia.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was prevented from standing in the election - both he and his supporters are harassed whenever they try to hold the Russian leader to account.


Old Foghorn and Putin's Russia (01/02/18)

Donald Trump's favourite world leader must surely be Vladimir Putin because while the American president he has sounded off against democratic allies and friends in the UK, Germany, France, Australia and Mexico - 'Old Foghorn' has nothing much to say about the goings on in Russia.  

Even when President Putin's repressive state tries to silence the opposition leader Alexei Navlany who has been the subject of a vile campaign of harassment and intimidation by Kremlin thugs.



Russian presidential elections: Navalny freed after day of protests
Media caption - The BBC's Steve Rosenberg: "We were standing right next to Mr Navalny... it was very dramatic"

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been freed after detained by police at a Moscow rally in support of a presidential election boycott.

His lawyer told the press that he had been released without charge but will have to appear in court at a later date and may then face charges.

Earlier, police raided his offices in Moscow, reportedly seizing equipment.

Mr Navalny - President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic - is barred from standing in the 18 March election.

BBC footage showed him being wrestled to the ground by policemen during the arrest.

Soon afterwards the opposition leader tweeted to urge others to join protests across the country. "The detention of one person is meaningless if there are many of us. Someone, come and replace me," he wrote (in Russian). 

Protest rallies were held in a number of Russian cities. In Moscow and St Petersburg they were not sanctioned by authorities.

More than 180 people were detained across the country, reports say.

Earlier on Sunday, Russian police raided the property of Mr Navalny's anti-corruption organisation in Moscow. A YouTube clip showed a broadcast recording from the office being interrupted.

A spokesman for Mr Navalny said the officers used a power tool to break into the office, adding that they said they were investigating a bomb threat.
Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - Alexei Navalny has said that the upcoming Russian presidential election is "dishonest"

The demonstrations come after weeks of pressure on Mr Navalny's supporters across Russia, who have faced detentions and had leaflets in support of the rallies confiscated.

Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Mr Navalny's supporters attend a rally in the city of Vladivostok calling for a boycott of the election

Mr Navalny, who insists he would beat Mr Putin in a fair fight, is barred from running in the ballot over a criminal conviction that he says is politically motivated.

The opposition leader led mass street protests against Mr Putin in the winter of 2011-12 and was arrested three times in 2017 for organising unauthorised anti-Putin protests.

Mr Putin, who refuses to mention Mr Navalny by name, retains a massive approval rating in Russia and is widely expected to win a fourth six-year term in office.

Putin's Russia (30/09/17)

Sky News reports on the latest attempts to silence opposition leader Alexei Nalvany  inside Putin's Russia.

I suspect we shall not hear Donald Trump raising his voice in protest, nor that of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn whose official spokesperson, Seumas Milne, is a long standing admirer of of President Putin.



Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained on way to rally

The longtime critic of Vladimir Putin has tweeted from a police station that he has been detained without charge.

Image:Alexei Navalny is arguably Russia's best-known opposition leader

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detained by police on his way to a political rally in Moscow.

The activist posted a video to Instagram in the early hours of Friday morning, saying officers were outside his home and summoning him to a police station.

The following afternoon he tweeted from a police station to say he was being held without charge.

Mr Navalny, the head of the politically centrist Progress party, which campaigns against corruption, is one of the country's most prominent critics of President Vladimir Putin.

He had planned to run against the country's longstanding leader in December's presidential elections, but was barred from standing in June after being found guilty of embezzlement earlier in the year.

Image:Mr Navalny has called for nationwide protests

He had planned on Friday to travel to the city of Nizhny Novgorod for the latest in a series of regional demonstrations in support of his opposition bid, against corruption and in protest at United Russia, the ruling party to which Mr Putin belongs.

In his tweet on Friday afternoon Mr Navalny said the Kremlin viewed him as a "huge threat".

"They were saying for so long that opposition has no support in the regions, and it now pains them to even look at our rallies," he said.

Image:The activist has suffered chemical burns after being attacked with a mystery green substance

In recent months the activist has been targeted by authorities on numerous occasions.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail after being arrested on his way to an anti-Kremlin protest in June, and has had green liquid thrown into his faceby unknown assailants.

The rallies have attracted thousands of people, and have recently focused on broadening support for opposition politics in more remote regions of Russia.

Some 10,0000 people showed up to a recent St Petersburg rally, and at one Moscow demonstration 800 were arrested.

But the Kremlin has dismissed Mr Navalny's political campaign, branding him a cosmopolitan out of touch with the needs and desires of ordinary people.

The Russian interior ministry said in a statement on Friday that it had detained the activist on account of his calls for unsanctioned rallies.

Putin's Russia (02/05/17)

The BBC reports that Alexei Navalny, a vocal Russian opposition leader and an arch-critic of President Putin continues to be intimidated by his political rivals.

While Navalny tries to make light of his situation with his 'Mask-like' Jim Carrey pose there is nothing funny about what's going on here and given the propensity for critics of President Putin to die mysterious and untimely deaths -the warning signs are clear.

How odd it is that Donald Trump should have such warm words for President Putin whose authoritarian, gangster-style version of capitalism Trump seems to admire.    



Russia opposition leader Alexei Navalny attacked with "brilliant green" dye

BBC Europe

Image copyright - @NAVALNY Image caption - It is the second time Mr Navalany has had dye thrown on him this year

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been taken to hospital after an antiseptic green dye was splashed on his face in Moscow.

It is the second time he has been attacked with zelyonka ("brilliant green" in English) this year.

The dye is a common antiseptic in Russia and has been used in protests there and in Ukraine.

"It looks funny but it hurts like hell," Mr Navalny tweeted.

It is not clear who carried out the attack, which happened near the offices of the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) that he founded.

According to one report (in Russian) he was diagnosed with a chemical burn to the eye.

Navalny: Russia's vociferous opposition leader

Mr Navalny is one of the foremost Russian critics of President Vladimir Putin and has announced his intention to run for president himself.

But his intentions may be thwarted - he has been convicted of embezzlement, which would bar him from running for office, although he denies it.

A new weapon of choice - Vitaliy Shevchenko, BBC Monitoring

A mild antiseptic known as "brilliant green" has recently become a weapon of choice against government critics in Russia. 

Media caption - Footage from March appears to show Mr Navalny being attacked with a green liquid

Mr Navalny has been doused with it twice this year. One of Russia's most popular bloggers, Ilya Varlamov, had it thrown at him twice on the same day on 26 April. And pro-Western politician Mikhail Kasyanov had it splashed in his face at a rally commemorating murdered opposition activist Boris Nemtsov.

So why brilliant green? It stains the skin and is hard to wash off, which can be a problem if you want to take the media spotlight. Also, it doesn't do any lasting damage, which means attackers will not be facing charges of grave bodily harm.

But the attackers don't always have the last laugh. When Mr Navalny was last doused he turned his green face into an internet meme and was imitated by his supporters.

Mr Navalny was among 500 people arrested after organising an anti-corruption rally last month. Rallies across the country were the biggest opposition demonstrations in Russia in several years.

He has said repeatedly that he wants to challenge Vladimir Putin's control of the Kremlin and expose what he claims is the "myth" that Mr Putin commands more than 80% popular support.

Meanwhile a separate opposition group, Open Russia, says its office has been raided by police, a day after the group was blacklisted by the authorities.

Activists said more than 20 riot police raided the office and removed computer equipment and 100,000 flyers for an unsanctioned rally planned for this weekend.

Open Russia was founded by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who lives in exile after spending 10 years in a Siberian prison on fraud charges, which he says were politically motivated.

Tycoons and Oligarchs (08/04/17)

The Herald reported a remarkable story the other day claiming that shell companies in Scotland were used to money launder billions of pounds out of Russia and the former Soviet Union by the business figures and 'oligarchs' who have grown rich beyond their dreams under President Putin.

Now Scotland doesn't emerge from this sorry tale very well, but nor does the likes of Donald Trump who clearly admires the way President Putin does business - unencumbered by a free and independent press that is capable of holding the government to account. 

If you ask me, Trump's 'fake news' strategy is an attempt to discredit and neutralise the media so that he can run the White House along the lines of a business empire - which is how the Kremlin operates under Vladimir Putin.



Scots shell companies used to launder £4 billion out of Russia
Scots shell companies used to launder £4 billion out of Russia

By David Leask - The Herald

SCOTTISH shell firms were used to move at least £4 billion out of the former Soviet Union as part of what is thought to be the world’s biggest and most elaborate money-laundering scheme.

In a dramatic blow to the country’s global image, The Herald can reveal Scotland played a key role in the so-called “Laundromat”, a giant criminal conspiracy enabling Russia’s elite to funnel a minimum of $20bn out of their country.

Oligarchs Love-In

Share of wealth held by top 1%
Russia: 74.5%
India: 58.4% 
Indonesia: 49% 
Brazil: 48% 
US: 42% 
Mexico: 38% 

(Credit Suisse)

Who knows why Donald Trump admires Russia and President Putin so much?

But these figures from Credit Suisse might help provide a clue as to how President Trump aims to Make America Great Again.