The only thing consistent about Kremlin policy – is its inconsistency. For example, in the field of Internet technologies Putin and Company judges you to be a criminal or a patriot depending on who you’re hacking and what you’re doing with the information. 


The priest as the little father of the peasants remains central to the Patriarchate’s image of itself. The church hasn’t taken note of the rise of a middle class or even of an educated stratum. Instead, it remains rooted in a vision of society from the 19th century or even earlier that is designed to keep the population at the level of irresponsible children the powers will control.

In most civilized countries, there are laws against what is generally referred to as “bait and switch” merchandising, i.e. a situation in which the seller makes you an offer and when the goods are delivered they are found to be considerably less than what was offered. Vladimir Putin is a long-time practitioner of the “bait and switch” game and he’s at it again. In this case Putin has agreed that Ukraine’s demand for UN peacekeepers in the Donbas conflict is a good idea that he is ready to support. What Putin does not broadcast is that his version would have peacekeepers limited to policing areas where there is conflict and not on the borders that according to international law – and a treaty agreed to and ignored by Russia - determine the sovereign territory of Ukraine. 


Ash: “The imposition of peacekeepers in Donbas, along the current line of conflict, would likely significantly reduce the costs to Moscow now of sustaining the DPR/LPR militarily, while Moscow would still keep its optionality of intervening elsewhere in Eastern Ukraine as noted from his comments over a reaction to the US arming Ukraine.”


Belarusian scholars say that it is quite possible to be a Belarusian without knowing a word of Belarusian and that such an approach reflects a phenomenon more widely recognized among the Irish who speak English or Austrians who speak German but are nonetheless committed Irish or Austrian patriots, writer Valentina Akudovich says. Putin may find his hybrid war is awaking levels of nationalism far beyond any benefit he could have imagined. Ukraine is lost and Belarus could be next.


Photo: Scenes like this one are becoming increasingly common “with Russians ever more inclined to see violence as a legitimate means to solve their problems,” Kirill Martynov says.



On Monday of each week, Brian Whitmore and one or more of his Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty cohorts gives you their thoughts on what Putin and Company may be planning to spring on the Russia people – and those in the mostly Russian-speaking so-called “near aboard” - in the week ahead. It is sometimes frightening, other times just bizarre – but almost always interesting.



There are many ways to commit suicide – and one new way has been discovered that seems to be almost foolproof. If you live in Ukrainian Crimea – and want people to remember that its annexation was an illegal action, part of Vladimir Putin’s effort to rebuild Russia’s place as an empire - then all you have to do to assure you death or disappearance into one of Russia’s prison hell-holes is to publicly state your objection to this blatantly illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory.


UBO: We recommend you read the Frolov op-ed in the Moscow Times but the headline above very correctly encapsulates the article’s message. In his yearning for a return to departed days of empire for Russia, Vladimir Putin wants control but does not want the economic burden of the Donbas. We can only hope that Ukraine’s leadership has the guts and brains to steadfastly oppose this extremely negative result.


Shelin says that he will not venture “to predict how this contradiction will be resolved, but a new page in the history of repression in the fatherland is already being written.”


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