Four Buddhist monks were arrested in Moscow for praying in front of the Ukrainian Embassy for the civilians killed in a terrorist rocket attack. Two men have had criminal charges laid against them after holding "Je suis Charlie Hebdo" picket signs and one 75 year old pensioner could face five years in jail.
This article has more details of Russian clamp down on free speech.
Russian press has come out strongly in favour of strict censorship and blames the magazine for the deaths in Paris. Lierov marched in the parade, though relegated to the fourth row. There were other countries represented where freedom of speech is even more controlled than Russia. At least Obama had the good grace not to attend but that is a blog rant for another day.
Some Russians are wearing "Je suis Valera" buttons in support of a mentally deranged Russian soldier who killed a family of seven Armenians in their own home. According to the agreement between Russia and Armenia, he should be tried in an Armenian court. Russia is refusing and Armenians are rioting. The killer is being treated as a martyr in Russia (see above link for more details).
The war has heated up almost full scale again. Russian troops and equipment continue to be sent across the border into Ukraine and Russia continues to deny it. One of the best comments I read on an article was "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck but denies it is a duck, then it is a Russian duck".
The Donetsk airport has come under extremely heavy attack in the last few days. It has held out longer than Stalingrad and has assumed the same mythical proportions in Russia's war against Ukraine. As I write, I do not know if it has fallen or not. Both sides are fighting fiercely.
|Map of combat zone in eastern Ukraine|
According to Sytnik, Leonid Reshetnikov, the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Research, and Tamara Guzenkova, the head of the Institute’s department responsible for Ukraine, were vehemently opposed not only to Ukraine, but to the very notion of a distinct Ukrainian identity as such. The two, along with their subordinates, writes Sytnik, “could not say anything, but ‘there is no Ukraine, only Little Russia [Malorossiya]’; ‘Ukrainian statehood is a bluff and it is a failed state’; ‘it is a result of the criminal destruction of the Russian Empire by the Bolsheviks’; ‘the Ukrainian language was artificially created by the Austrians and the Poles to break up Russian unity’; ‘the consolidation of the post-Soviet space on the foundation of territorial and spiritual rebirth…’ ”
According to (Stytnik), who specialized in the Baltic States during his time in the Russian Institute for Strategic Research, he was fired after his analytical report on Belarus was delivered in September 2014. Sytnik’s main premise was that Belarus would participate in the Moscow-crafted Eurasian Union only as long as Belarus’ sovereignty remained intact. In his words, he was subsequently told that his point of view contradicted that of the Russian presidential administration and, therefore, the view of the Institute, and he had to go. (Note: He appears to have been right)
The Russian analyst’s scathing remarks about the country’s leadership and about the community of government experts confirm that the concept of Russian supremacy has a strong hold on the Russian leadership. These supremacist views are not limited to the post-Soviet space, where “only ethnic Russians are capable of creating statehood.” The West is also seen as decadent and somewhat spiritually inferior to the Russians. The spread of such views in Russia, especially among the country’s leaders, precludes easy and quick solutions to the Ukrainian crisis, but rather suggests a relatively lengthy period of tensions between Russia and the West, even if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin were, for some reason, to step down.