Ash: Progress has been made with gas price reform, e-declarations, reform of VAT refunds, prozorro, but much more needs to be done, and perhaps the ACC [Anti-Corruption Court] could be the game changer.

UBO Commentary: The questions raised in the opinion piece are – to our mind – made all the more urgent for consideration since the source, Igor Eidman, is one of the most reliable Kremlin-watchers currently working. Also, just as we said when this subject came up earlier in the Goble column, we believe quite strongly that some of those “Russians” killed in this fashion were likely to be Russian-speaking Ukrainians, part of that considerable number who committed crimes against the Ukrainian state and chose to follow Viktor Yanukovych into exile.

That is already costing him support not only among many Russian enthusiasts for the use of force such as Igor Girkin (Strelkov) the former head of the DNR, who is accusing Putin of “weakness and cowardice” but also among a broader strata of the population who know Russians have been killed and aren’t comfortable with the lack of a response.

Many mistakenly assume that Khrushchev’s moves on Crimea were “somehow extraordinary.” But that is a mistake: The Soviet leader wanted to take part of Kazakhstan and transfer it to Uzbekistan and transfer another part of Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan (or possibly Turkmenistan).

“On the one hand,” she says, “[Putin] will be forced to maintain the mechanism of the survival of the system by using Western resources without which [many parts of the Russian economy] can’t work.”  And “on the other, Putin wants to turn the country to the past, “to return Russia to traditional and archaic values,” including the idea that it is “a besieged fortress.”

[Goldman Sachs head of investment research Steve] Strongin stressed that it’s possible that one or a few of the currently-existent cryptocurrencies could emerge from the so-called “speculative bubbles” as the crypto-equivalents of Amazon and Google, but he said that it’s unlikely that most coins will ever recover to their recent all-time highs.


“…the Kremlin’s interference in the American elections ‘has changed the situation’ and in fundamental ways.  By doing that, Putin ‘personally’ has completely undermined the basis of his power; and he has ensured that the Americans will never forgive him for what he has done, however much fake news he and his friends put out.”

“For Russia,” [Viktor Kamenev] argues, “it is important that this war of the special services in America have an impact on the Ukrainian question.” The American neo-cons want a war in Ukraine.  “Trump in contrast is not interested now in a military escalation in Ukraine: it can interfere with his suppression of those pursuing him. Therefore, now he is ours.” (emphasis added)



No one for a second thinks that things in the upcoming Russian presidential election might get out of hand and someone other than Vladimir Putin might have one chance in a million of becoming president. However, the reins on candidates have been loosened to the point that one well-known perennial candidate is calling for giving Crimea back to its rightful owner and for good measure halting armed aggression in the Donbas. Another candidate has decided that her best campaign tool is a promise to legalize the use of marijuana. The show will go on – at least through election day – and then Russians will go back to watching the same old television shows that are slightly better-scripted than the game of charades that passes for free elections in Russia.


Putin’s dreams of a great new empire centered on Crimea is already costing the Russian state budget over a hundred billion rubles a year with figures almost certain to keep growing indefinitely.

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