Who is the culprit of Russia’s troubles in the last three hundred years? Why do we show benevolence and generosity to those who betray us? Leading historian and opinion journalist Nikolai Starikov explores the history of Russia’s relations with the leading countries of the world and answers these questions. This book is a collection of shocking facts about the treachery and cynicism of most countries in Europe and the United States, which will not leave even those who are remote from history and politics unmoved.
A leading public historian of Russia, writer, economist and politician explores the history of Russia’s relations with the leading countries of the world.
This wonderful book gives a comprehensive answer to the question: why today, as a hundred years ago, as two hundred years ago, does Russia have only two allies, its army and navy?
Are we the problem? Is it our naivety? Our almost complete lack of rancor? Our generosity and benevolence?
But mostly the problem is the guile and cynicism of most countries in Europe and the United States.
Starikov’s book calmly, step by step, argument by argument, reveals the damning truth about Russia’s relations with so-called allies, partners and brothers.
The reader will discover a lot of unusual, shocking facts in this book. Consequently, it will open everyone’s eyes and reveal the main secret of the ages: who is the culprit of our troubles over the past three hundred years?
Source: Litres email newsletter, 7 October 2021 + website
Were you surprised when you found out about all the offshore companies that Ernst, Chemezov and others own? We weren’t particularly surprised. It has long been clear why Putin and his friends need power: to steal. They don’t do anything useful, but all of them are billionaires. Their children are billionaires, and even their mistresses are billionaires. They made themselves rich at the expense of the federal budget.
The owners of offshore companies are very unhappy when they are not allowed to steal quietly, when they are prevented from disposing of the country as if it were their property. Therefore, they brand all dissatisfied people as “foreign agents” and “extremists” and declare them enemies of Russia.
But they are not Russia. We are Russia. While they are crooks and enemies of our country.
Support Team Navalny, and we promise to spend every ruble to fight Putin and his offshore friends. As always.
Attention! Do not use PayPal if you have a Russian account. We advise everyone who lives in Russia to donate in cryptocurrency: it is the safest way right now. And we also advise you to install a VPN if you cannot open our links: then no blocking will be able to prevent you from opening them.
Thank you for being on our side!
Source: Anti-Corruption Foundation/Team Navalny email newsletter, 7 October 2021
Central image courtesy of Ozon.ru email newsletter. Translated by the Russian Reader, who received these images and texts via email this morning.
It turns out Chris Hedges has a regular program on RT. On his program on the Kremlin’s propaganda channnel, he interviewed Noam Chomsky. The interview was dubbed into Russian and posted on YouTube on August 11.
How dumb do you have to be to work for RT? How dumb do you have to be to let RT interview you at length?
Do either of these formerly respectable people realize they are shilling for the Kremlin and stoking the infernal imagination of an utter creep like Starikov?
What in God’s name is going on in this world?
Red-brown alliance indeed.
Meanwhile, the geriatric perennial musical rebels known as The Rolling Stones have done an advertisment for VTB24, a wholly owned subsidiary of VTB Bank, whose main shareholder is the Russian Government.
The ad’s copy reads, “Mastercard. Priceless cities. Win a trip to a concert by the legendary Rolling Stones. VTB24.”
The list of VTB Bank’s other shareholders makes for fun reading:
The main shareholder of VTB is the Russian Government, which owns 60.9% of the lender through its Federal Agency for State Property Management. The remaining shares are split between holders of its Global Depository Receipts and minority shareholders, both individuals and companies.
In February 2011, the Government floated an additional 10% minus two shares of VTB Bank. The private investors, who paid a total of 95.7 billion rubles ($3.1 billion) for the assets, included the investment funds Generali, TPG Capital, China Investment Corp, a sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing China’s foreign exchange reserves, and companies affiliated with businessman Suleiman Kerimov.
In May 2013 VTB completed a secondary public offering (SPO), issuing 2.5 trillion new additional shares by public subscription. All the shares have been placed on Moscow’s primary stock exchange. The government has not participated in the SPO so its stake in the bank decreased to 60.9% after the subscription has been closed. The bank has raised 102.5 billion rubles worth of additional capital. Three sovereign wealth funds Norway’s Norges Bank Investment Management, Qatar Holding LLC and the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) and commercial bank China Construction Bank became the largest investors during the SPO after purchasing more than half of the additional share issue.
In October 2015, VTB chair and president Andrey Kostin went on CNBC to talk Syria, geopolitics, and the need to lift sanctions against Russia as quickly as possible.
It’s no wonder that Kostin was concerned about these issues, because VTB have been accused of acting as banker for the Assad regime. Curiously, WikiLeaks is alleged to have removed evidence of the relationship between VTB and the Assad regime from a 2012 trove of hacked emails.
Even worse, VTB have been on the US and EU sanctions list, imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, since September 2014. As a wholly owned subsidary of VTB, VTB24 should be subject to the same sanctions, as explained in a press release issued by the US Department of the Treasury on December 22, 2015, namely,
“Today, OFAC also identified a number of subsidiaries of VTB Bank, Sberbank, and Rostec as being owned 50 percent or more by their respective parent entities. The two banks and one defense company were previously sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13662 in September 2014. The subsidiaries identified today were already subject to the same financing restrictions as their respective parent entities per OFAC’s Revised Guidance on Entities Owned by Persons Whose Property and Interests in Property Are Blocked (“50 percent rule guidance”), which can be found here. These identifications will help the public more effectively comply with the sanctions on VTB Bank, Sberbank, and Rostec.”
According to a May 22, 2014, article in the Guardian, The Rolling Stones are music’s “biggest business.” Where is this business registered?* Is it exempt from the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU on VTB Bank and its wholly owned subsidiary, VTB24?
I ask these questions to the wind, the Holy Spirit, and the inhabitants of other, distant galaxies, because I very much doubt that any of these niceties would bother the morally unimpeachable preacher Chris Hedges, the world’s greatest anti-imperialist Noam Chomsky, and those fun-loving seventy-year-old lads from London, just as long as they get paid on time and paid a lot.
Frankly, I doubt that this bothers you very much, dear readers, although in a nutshell it says a lot about how our fallen world actually works. || TRR
*UPDATE. The Rolling Stones apparently pay their taxes in the Netherlands, which is not only an EU country in good standing, but a country that lost many of its nationals when the Russian army decided to blow Flight MH17 out of the sky over Donbass on July 17, 2014, one of the actions that triggered western sanctions against Russian companies and individuals connected to the regime in the first place.
But The Rolling Stones have bigger fish to fry.
What two of the other three Rolling Stones apparently learned, including Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, was that Mr. Richards’s near-death experience meant that it was time to think about their heirs. For that, the aging rockers turned to a reclusive Dutch accountant, Johannes Favie, whose company, Promogroup, has helped them minimize their tax bills for more than 30 years. (The fourth Rolling Stone, Ron Wood, handles his finances apart from Promogroup.)
And so, last August, according to details disclosed in documents maintained by the Handelsregister, the trade registry of the Netherlands, Promogroup helped the three performers set up a pair of private Dutch foundations that will allow them to transfer assets tax-free to heirs when they die. Other Dutch shelters that Promogroup has arranged for the three have already paid off handsomely; over the last 20 years, according to Dutch documents, the three musicians have paid just $7.2 million in taxes on earnings of $450 million that they have channeled through Amsterdam — a tax rate of about 1.5 percent, well below the British rate of 40 percent. (Lynnley Browning, “The Netherlands, the New Tax Shelter Hot Spot,” New York Times, February 4, 2007)
It’s hard to believe that a little over three years have passed since Russia downed Flight MH17 and what, all is forgiven and forgotten? Now the exemplary Dutch taxpayers Keith, Mick, and Charlie can promote a Russian bank that, I repeat, is still on the US-EU sanctions list, put in place after Russia’s violent actions against a neighboring sovereign country that threatened it in no way whatsoever? And how did the passengers on Flight MH17, over half of them Dutch nationals, threaten Russia?
P.S. In case you thought I was dreaming or had somehow photoshopped the Stones/VTB24 advert, it popped up again on my Facebook news feed this morning (September 9) as a “suggested post,” albeit with more details, namely:
The copy reads:
Win a trip to the Rolling Stones concert in Paris! https://goo.gl/JBP379 Pay for purchases with the World Mastercard Black Edition card from VTB24 before September 15 and, perhaps, it will be you who makes it to the concert by the legendary rock musicians. The winner of the promotion will receive two tickets for special places in the group’s own box and the right to skip the queue, a meeting with members of The Rolling Stones, a keepsake photo, and a gift from the group.
The link leads to a page on VTB24’s own website, promoting its World Mastercard Black Edition Privilege Card and providing a few more details about the promotion, including the fact that you are eligible to win only if you spend 50,000 rubles [approx. 725 euros according to exchange rates on September 9, 2017] or more in purchases using the card between August 1 and September 15.
According to the Rambler news website, the average monthly salary in Moscow during the second quarter of 2017 was 49,900 rubles.
On April 21, 2017, popular Petersburg news website Fontanka.ru, citing Rosstat as its source, published a brief item stating the average monthly salary in Petersburg in February 2017 was 51,024 rubles [sic].
I won’t bother citing average monthly salaries in Russia’s eighty-one other regions. They would be higher only in the handful of regions where oil and gas is produced, and much lower in most regions that do not produce oil and gas. Most people in those regions live in what would be regarded as abject poverty in the west.
So, even in the so-called two capitals of Moscow and Petersburg, the actually nonexistent average inhabitant would have to blow an entire month’s wages buying things with a card she probably cannot afford to have in the first place in order to have a slim chance to win the promotion and see The Rolling Stones in Paris.
This still begs the question of whether The Rolling Stones, a highly profitable company that, at least until 2007 (see above), paid its bare minimum of taxes in the Netherlands, can do business with a Russian bank on the US-EU sanctions list.
Ideological Underachievement Russian universities to examine the loyalty of students and lecturers
Alexander Chernykh Kommersant
October 24, 2016
Kommersant has learned that volunteers at Russian universities have been working to assess the “protest potential” of students and professors. The results will be “compiled as memorandums for official use by state authorities.” Attendees of the Russian Congress of University Vice Chancellors for Morale and Discipline, which took place this past weekend, discussed the assessment. The authors of the study have discovered that the “destructive promotion of anti-state ideas has been occurring” among the student bodies and faculties of the capital’s universities. On the eve of the presidential election, they intend to shift their focus to regional universities.
It was the sixth time the Russian Congress of University Vice Chancellors for Morale and Discipline had taken place in Moscow. Representatives of 642 educational organizations from eighty-one regions attended the congress. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sent his greetings to the congress, and guests of honor included Stanislav Sulakov, acting head of the Moscow Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”), Metropolitan Merkurii, chair of the Synodal Department for Religious Education and Catechesis, and Ernestas Mackevičius, presenter of the news program Vesti.
The meeting of the vice chancellors kicked off with a discussion of a sensitive issue.
“For twenty years, we have had to prove that the country needs discipline and morale in the universities,” complained Zinaida Kalinina, a vice chancellor at Tula Pedagogical University. Even Pushkin said, ‘The university completes the soul’s education.’ Let them argue with Alexander Sergeyevich [Pushkin]!”
Alexander Stradze, former head of the Department of State Policy on the Education of Children and Youth, one of the first officials to be dismissed by Olga Vasilyeva, the new Minister of Education and Science, tried to define the vector of the discussion. He introduced himself as assistant head of Rossotrudnichestvo, but from force of habit he attempted to preach to the vice chancellors.
“The state’s educational ideology has moved away from paternalism,” he explained. “Yes, it’s easier, probably, to work with loyal subjects, with subordinates. But the country and the conditions are no longer the same today. Nowadays, we bring up children in terms of humanism, free choice, and support for individuality. This path is justified in any democratic society.”
Alexander Balitsky, vice chancellor at Izhevsk Technical University and a former lecturer in the department of scientific socialism, tore the ex-official’s speech to shreds.
“Everything we do has often been canceled out by sociocultural circumstances,” Balitsky began in a roundabout way. “And these circumstances even often originate in our ministry.”
Mr. Balitsky casually, as it were, mentioned that the Ministry of Education and Science has been implementing a nationwide project entitled “Time to Act,” and read aloud a message from [ministry] officials to university students.
“Twelve of the country’s best entrepreneurs will share their know-how and teach you think in new ways. On September 22, entrepreneur Oskar Hartmann—” the vice chancellor underscored the entrepreneur’s [non-ethnic Russian] given name and surname,* while the audience applauded and laughed in support “—will talk about how you need to think to become a dollar millionaire by the age of thirty.”
“Nifty, eh? There’s an ideal for you. I have nothing against entrepreneurs, but these are not the core values we need. With all due respect to the Ministry of Education and Science.”
“But now there have been changes in the ministry,” an audience member reminded him.
“Thank God,” the speaker replied.
“Yeah, and there won’t be anymore Soroses,” someone joyfully shouted from the crowd.
“I think the expert community understands the country is in a state of undeclared war,” said Nikita Danyuk, assistant head of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasting (ISIP) at the Russian People’s Friendship University. “It is hybrid in nature, and there are many fronts. One of them runs inside our country: it is the mental front.”
Complaining that “western planners” use the “practice of inspiring coups,” he acknowledged university students were one of the main “destructors.” To keep the country from “plunging into chaos and anarchy,” Mr. Danyuk’s team had drafted a special educational program, entitled “Scenarios of Russia’s Future,” a series of lectures on “combating politically destructive forces.” Over the past two years, Mr. Danyuk and his colleagues had visited over forty universities in Moscow and a dozen regional universities, where they had encouraged the students to openly express their own views on political issues “and even join in the discussion.” Surrounded by his colleagues, however, Danyuk admitted the real purpose of the trip had been to assess the “protest potential” of students and lecturers.
“The outcomes of the project were compiled as memorandums for official use, including by government officials and officers of certain specialized organizations,” Mr. Danyuk announced proudly. “Unfortunately, the destructive promotion of anti-state ideas has been occurring among professors and lecturers—not openly, but without being shy about it.”
Danyuk said that society was “most exposed to destructive spin doctoring during the electoral cycle.”
“Fortunately, our country negotiated the milestone of the parliamentary elections nearly without losses, but our project will be relevant until 2018, when the presidential election will be held. And from the viewpoint of prevention, it will be relevant beyond then.”
The Institute of Strategic Studies and Forecasting at the Russian People’s Friendship University is headed by Georgy Filimonov, a professor in the department of the theory and history of international relations. The university’s website relates that, from 2005 to 2009, Prof. Filimonov worked in the presidential administration as a foreign policy advisor. According to Mr. Danyuk, the “Scenarios of Russia’s Future” lecture series has been implemented with the involvement of the Anti-Maidan Movement, political scientist Nikolai Starikov, and “other media figures.” The project has already been the source of controversy. In May 2015, students and lecturers at the Russian State University for the Humanities attempted to disrupt a lecture by Nikolai Starikov at their university. Mr. Danyuk confirmed to Kommersant that he had been at the event. In his opinion, the protest had been organized not by students, but by lecturers at the university.
“The strategy of our foreign so-called colleagues has changed. The protest potential has now shifted to the regions, and we are really interested in making contact with people from regional universities and organizing events there,” he said.
At the end of the event, the vice chancellors queued up to talk with Mr. Danyuk, vying with each other to invite him to their universities and assess the “protest potential” of their colleagues.
* According to an article, dated March 15, 2016, in the magazine Sekret firmy, businessman Oskar Hartmann was born in Kazakhstan to a family of Russian Germans.
Remembering the Great Terror David Frenkel
Special to the Russian Reader
November 1, 2015
On October 30, the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions, the Vesna (“Spring”) Movement organized a memorial event entitled Immortal Gulag, by analogy with the popular annual memorial event Immortal Regiment, held on Victory Day (May 9), during which crowds of people march through the streets of Russian cities bearing portraits of their relatives who fought in the Second World War.
As solo pickets are the only form of public protest in Russia that does not require prior permission from the authorities, and most people are reluctant to attend unsanctioned street protests, Vesna decided to held series of solo pickets on Vosstaniya Street in downtown Petersburg.
The activists stood in front of buildings holding posters bearing the name of somebody who had lived in the building and was arrested and executed during the Great Terror of 1936–1938.
Earlier in the week, the website of the political party Velikoye Otechestvo (Great Fatherland), co-chaired by the notorious pro-Putin nationalist Nikolai Starikov, published an article dubbing the memorial event a “provocation”, and its organizers “a new generation of people willing to betray the interests of their Motherland for fine talk about democracy [a]nd green paper slips [printed] with portraits of American presidents.”
The article exhorted Petersburgers to avoid Vosstaniya Square on the evening of October 30. It reminded readers that “Russia [was] striking IS positions in Syria,” and there was thus “an extremely high risk of terrorist threats in major [Russian] cities,” they “should avoid large gatherings of people whenever possible.”
Despite the fact that the event had been heavily promoted, only thirty-some people took part, most of them Vesna activists and their friends.
Another disappointment was the fact that the posters contained the bare minimum of information about the Terror victims: their names, professions, and dates of birth and execution. There was only one line in small print at the bottom of each poster reminding passersby that October 30 was the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression.
A pack of torn-up posters found in a trash bin also raised eyebrows, triggering unpleasant associations with discarded “granddads on sticks” from certain Immortal Regiment events, which had provoked a storm of protest on Russia social networks.
Most passersby who stopped to read the posters reacted positively. Some shared stories of their own families, while others nodded and said, “We support you.” One woman even handed out flowers to the activists.
As usual, other passersby sought to link the event with evil plots by the US State Department or the Ukrainian government, but there were few such people.
One standout among them, Andrey Yazov, posed as a journalist and attempted to “troll” the activists. He even subsequently posted a video on his page on the Russian social network VKontakte. In the video, entitled “Trolling Vesna,” he asks the activists whether the Terror victims had not, in fact, been criminals. He clearly loses his interest when he learns that Soviet authorities later exonerated all of them.
He does, however, reveal the sensitive fact that not all of the activists studied the biographies of the people whose posters they held. On the other hand, two participants held posters bearing the names of their own relatives.
As during other such memorial events, most passersby sped past the activists without visibly paying any attention to them.
The police did not interfere. They merely asked the activists, “Why don’t you stay at home?”
Enter Pioneers, all in ranks, some with plywood planes and lorries, Others with piquant denunciations, handprinted in block letters. From the next world, like chimeras, shades of pensioned janissaries Nod their approval to the kids, whose snub noses gleam with ardor. They crank up “The Russian Balldance” and dash in the hut to Dad, Chasing out sleepy Dad from the double bed where they were made.
What can you do? Such is youth. Strangling them would be uncouth.
Students at the Russian State University for the Humanities disrupted a lecture by Nikolai Starikov, a member of the Anti-Maidan movement. They were supported by some professors. How, in your opinion, should the conversion of public universities into hotbeds of liberalism and a source of manpower for a Russian Maidan be stopped?
• Regularly rotate teaching staff, weeding out teachers known for making Russophobic statements and being involved with dubious Western NGOs — 83 votes (25%)
• Actively campaign for vocational education as an alternative to countless “lawyers” and “economists.” People who are busy with real work do not rebel — 33 votes (10%)
• Follow the recipe used by Tsar Alexander III, who pacified Russia for a long time after the terror campaign by the Populists: reduce the number of higher education institutions and raise tuition costs for fee-paying students — 53 votes (16%)
• Leave them alone, let them sow their wild oats. Students have always been rebels, but once they graduated and wised up a bit, they became conscious and law-abiding members of society — 168 votes (50%)
Editor’s Note. The survey results were current as of 1:30 p.m. Moscow time on May 27, 2015. Thanks to the invaluable Andrei Malgin for the heads-up.
“We’re still little,” or Delegating political responsibility to adults
May 26, 2015 Vedomosti
Recently, debates about how bad things are in Russia—whether they are very bad or whether there is light at the end of the tunnel—have been topical. For example, an article by Maria Snegovaya and Denis Volkov, published in Vedomosti (January 20, 2015), dealt with the political mood of Russian young people. The authors came to a relatively optimistic conclusion. Young people were much more democratic and focused on Western values than the older generation. This attitude on the part of young people gave the authors hope for social and political change in the foreseeable future.
Research carried out by the Higher School of Economics in 2012–2013, as part of the European project MYPLACE: Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement, found that the views of Russian young people were much more complicated and confusing than has been suggested by the usual divisions into “pro-Russian” and “pro-Western,” “pro-Putin” and “oppositional” camps. Our data consisted of 1,200 surveys, answered by young people 16–25 years of age in Saint Petersburg and Vyborg, and sixty in-depth interviews with survey participants where we had the opportunity to discuss the political views of respondents in greater depth. The interviews showed the survey data had to be treated with caution. Even if a person had come across as liberal in the survey, it did not mean they did not consider Stalin an effective manager, and Putin, a democratic leader.
Entrusting Russian young people with one’s political hopes is, at very least, premature. They have noticeable problems with political consciousness. Until we got to politics, the vast majority of our respondents gave the impression of being quite conscious, informed, independent citizens. But when it came to political issues, many felt insecure and did not want to analyze them. In part, this explains the comfortable, quite normative choices of answers in the questionnaire. It was easier to check off that you support freedom of speech, the ability of citizens to shape events at home, and other “correct” answers.
On the other hand, young people have traditionally delegated responsibility to “adults” and “those who know best.” This position—that we are “little”, that we have to finish our educations, and get our own lives up and running—is a powerful barrier to collective action. It is curious this stance is a response to the attitude of “adults” towards young people. In the Russian discourse, young people are usually imagined as dependent objects in need of refinement, “patriotic” and other mentoring, but not as subjects of their own destinies. (Elena Omelchenko, director of the Center for Youth Studies at the Higher School of Economics, has long argued this point; see, for example, her article “Youth Activism in Russia and Global Transformations of Its Meaning.”) Young people willingly accept this position and do not want to change anything. Consequently, they do not shape the participatory skills, the civic skills they would need for political engagement in adulthood. Postponing interest in politics “for later,” young people practically postpone it forever. No wonder that a variety of civic education programs designed to instill the habits of citizens in young people are so popular all over the world.
When pinning hopes on young people, we need to consider two other things. First, young people, as they grow up, often forget about tolerance and the experiments of adolescence. Second, in Russian society there is not the radical ideological and cultural gap between the generations of parents and children that would be necessary for the kind of revolutionary outbursts of student unrest the world saw in 1968. For our respondents, parents and older relatives are the only people who can be trusted, and when making decisions, young people are guided by their opinions. Some respondents from the older age group (21–25 years of age) voted the same way in the 2011–2012 elections as their parents had. Moreover, family discussions of political change and parents’ opinions of the 1990s, the “restoration of order” in the 2000s, and even Soviet times have a much stronger impact on young people than any TV propaganda, which our respondents fairly easily identified and ignored, in contrast to the views of their elders. It is often forgotten that Russian society is experiencing a crisis of confidence in public institutions as well as in people outside the closest circles of friends and family. Our respondents are far from being ideological rebels in their families. Even if you do not agree about something with your parents, only they can be counted on for support, and only they want the best for you.
Under these circumstances, it was to be expected that the interviews showed the young people were extremely alienated from politics in general. Politics and everything associated with it was a “dirty business” in which involvement was absolutely senseless. This feeling of meaninglessness has been another important factor blocking attempts by even critically minded and informed young people from participating in political and civic processes. “Nothing can change” and “Everything has already been decided for us” were the phrases they used to explain their own lack of involvement. This, however, is not an exclusively Russian trait. Studies of European young people have also demonstrated a long-term, growing disillusionment with formal politics, declining interest in political parties, elections, and so on (see Flash Eurobarometer 375, April–May 2013).
Interpreting sociological data and trying to use them to make forecasts is a complicated and often thankless task, especially when it comes to mass mobilization, revolutions, riots, and similar “flash” events. Researchers of social movements have long been struggling with the question of why people do, nevertheless, take to the streets. Even in the most difficult conditions, when there is strong dissatisfaction with the situation, policies, and the regime, protests may or may not happen. That is why the analysis of attitudes and stated opinions is not an effective way of predicting behavior. People do not always do what they say, and even if they honestly believe in liberal values, it is not a given that at the crucial moment they will back up their statements with action. On the other hand, if they keep silent, it does not mean this will always be the case.
The author is a senior fellow at the Center for Youth Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg. All texts were translated by the Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of anatrrra.livejournal.com