Showing posts with label Putin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Putin. Show all posts

June 26, 2020

Putin is Leaving The Poor Cities to Fight COVID on Their Own

GERGEBIL, Dagestan — Nurmagomed Medzhidov is looking at his sister’s gravestone. “She sacrificed her life so that we could live,” he told VICE News.

The 44-year-old mother of four and X-ray technician was one of at least three healthcare workers who died of COVID-19 in the remote mountain village of Gergebil in the past few months, and her name, Aminat, is just one among hundreds on an unofficial "Memory List" of health-worker deaths in Russia.

April 28, 2020

Putin Prosecutions Intensifies About His Own Fake News on The Corona Virus

 Trump invented the prase "fake news" to excuse the inexcusable in his behaviour. Putin uses it but with the opposite meaning, he is the producer of the fake news (since the days of the USSR, Russia had depts with many people who only job was to produce fake news about the country and others 7 days a week).

Russia is once again at the heart of an international “fake news” scandal. Since February, some media have accused Moscow of unleashing a coronavirus disinformation campaign. This claim was repeated in an internal document draftedby the EU's foreign policy arm on March 18.
Amid these headlines, it's easy to miss that the Russian government is also fighting a war against disinformation of its own — and its definition of “fake news” is very much in the eye of the beholder.
At the time of writing, according to the Johns Hopkins University Map, there are over 68,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Russia. The country is under strict quarantine measures. But for several weeks, Russia was an outlier, and recorded significantly lower deaths than other large countries and an unusually low rate of infections despite its comparatively large testing drive. There has been much speculation over this data, much of it focusing on the effectiveness of Russia's testing equipment. As late as March 21, the country only reported 306 confirmed cases — as hospitals started to fill up with unusually severe cases of pneumonia. “I have a feeling they are lying to us,” exclaimed Anastasia Vasilyeva, head of the country's medical union.
As the pandemic intensified in Russia, some citizens started to doubt the official figures. It appears to have been this tendency which led President Vladimir Putin to state on March 4 that claims of thousands of cases in Russia were “fakes” which most likely came “from abroad,” intended to sow panic among the population.
Disputes over the probable number of cases appear were at the centre of the first high-profile “fake news” row during Russia's epidemic. On March 20, independent radio station Ekho Moskvy removed the transcript and recording of a conversation with political scientist Valery Solovey from its website. The demand came from Roskomnadzor, the Russian state media watchdog, which on March 18 had threatened to remove Russian news outlets’ licences or block their websites if they published “fakes” about the coronavirus. Roskomnadzor explained that it had to “remove inaccurate socially significant information which posed a massive disruption of public order,” but did not specify the offending content in Ekho Moskvy's broadcast. It is now believed that what irked the authorities had been Solovey's estimation that the coronavirus had already claimed 1,600 lives in Russia, and comparison of the Kremlin's handling of the crisis to the Soviet Union's response to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
At the same time, an online publication in Magadan also fell foul of Roskomnadzor. On March 20, Govorit Magadan was threatened with a large fine in connection with an article claiming that a man with a suspected coronavirus infection had died in the city in Russia's Far East. Although the man's infection was never confirmed, the publication defended its reporting; as an editor told state media outlet RIA Novosti: “either the patient wasn't in hospital, either he wasn't suspected of having the coronavirus, or he didn't die. All these things happened.”
When the local edition of prominent national newspaper Kommersant reported that 1,000 graves had been prepared for coronavirus victims in a single cemetery in the city of Ufa, on April 12 its editors received exactly the same call — Roskomnadzor demanded the removal of the article. And when Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Milashina wrote a critical article about the Chechen authorities’ handling of the crisis, the Prosecutor General demanded its removal on April 16 due to inaccuracies. Milashina was later publicly threatened by Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
It is not only publications which have fallen foul of this trend. Several individuals in recent weeks have been accused of sharing “inaccurate socially significant information.” Or to translate from Russian legalese: ‘fake news’.

A law against fake news

A law against publishing “unreliable socially significant information disseminated under the guise of truthful messages” entered force in Russia in March 2019. The law, which was introduced alongside a controversial ban on “offending” the authorities. 
The 2019 law had made fake news an administrative offence, punishable by fines. It was seldom, and inconsistently, used by prosecutors — until this March, when the number of trials under the law increased sharply.
On April 1 this year, Putin upped the stakes by signing a new law which makes sharing fake news a criminal offence. It was accompanied by another law which makes violating quarantine measures a criminal offence if doing so causes deaths. Criminal liability for sharing “fake news” could now mean a fine of up to two million rubles and prison sentences of up to five years. If disseminating “unreliable information” interferes with the operation of essential services, the perpetrator may be fined up to 400,000 rubles.
According to Stanislav Seleznev, a lawyer for the Agora International human rights NGO, one of the sticking points in the law is that authorities must prove that the culprits knew that the information was supposedly false before distributing it. This also allows the authorities to punish only one person rather than the entire chain of people who shared alleged “fake news” — imbuing it with more meaning with every share.
Seleznev and his colleagues fear that the law will have chilling effects on freedom of speech. Over the nearly three weeks since it entered force, RuNet Echo has identified at least six instances of criminal cases for spreading “fake news.”
The first criminal case was brought against St Petersburg resident Anna Shushpanova due to a post she made in the Sestroretsk Asset group on VKontakte on April 2, where she claimed that a patient at a local clinic was discovered to have mild coronavirus symptoms but was later sent home by public transport. Pavel Yasman, Shushpanova's lawyer, told Meduza that the case is tricky given that it is impossible to prove that Shushpanova was “knowingly sharing” fake news, as she believed her source to be entirely trustworthy. Shushpanova also told Meduza that she believes the case was linked to her activism.
Nevertheless, administrative cases for “fake news” continue to be announced — law enforcement appear to prefer them, and have launched at least 12 since administrative measures for the offence were tightened on April 1. These cases also largely concern social media users who have cast doubt on official reports about the pandemic.
For example, on April 9, the police in St Petersburg launched an administrative case against Vladimir Vorontsov, administrator of a group on popular social network VKontakte called “Police Ombudsman.” Vorontsov's offending post was a recording dated on April 2 in which Vorontsov had claimed that 70 percent of people at the FSB Institute in St Petersburg had been infected with the coronavirus. According to RBK, Vorontsov said that he had first discovered the accusation against him on the RT television network, and that VKontakte had already deleted the offending post by the time he went to look for it. More recently in Surgut, a young man was charged with an administrative offence on April 21 for disseminating fake news for arguing in a social media post that the local authorities were not within their rights to arrest non-infected people for not complying with the self-isolation regime.
It must be stressed that these charges have been brought against social media users making more dangerous claims: on April 15, a 38-year-old man from Vladikavkaz was arrested for sharing a video online calling on citizens to come out of isolation and insisting that doing so posed no threat to their health.
With COVID-19 on everybody's minds, it is clear that the Russian authorities cannot apply the new law against every social media user with a controversial opinion about the coronavirus. They may not intend to do so; on April 15, the opposition news website MBK-Media reported on a document allegedly from the Presidential Administration advocating “demonstratively” applying the fake news law against “a few bloggers” and “a couple of media outlets.”
Thus the mounting number of “fake news” coronavirus cases, both administrative and criminal, has left some RuNet users bitter about what they see as its selective application. When the videoblogger Alexander Thorn recorded a satirical video mocking COVID-19 conspiracy theories, he faced criminal prosecution under the new law:

September 11, 2019

The Russian Elections Shows Putin Tub is Beginning To Crack


{By James Rodgers, head of International Journalism Studies at City, University of London}

Since Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia almost 20 years ago, the unwritten rules governing the relationship between political power and the people have been clear: Citizens accept less political freedom in return for receiving greater prosperity. But five years of falling incomes mean that the Kremlin is no longer keeping its side of the deal.
Russia's leadership is increasingly worried that more people will demand change. The results of Sunday’s elections in Moscow for local government positions suggest they are right to be afraid. 
Russia's strict laws governing political protests — not encouraged, and requiring permission which is only sometimes granted (often merely to give the impression that freedom of assembly exists) — were not enough to stop demonstrators taking to the streets by the tens of thousands in the months leading up to Sunday's vote.
The rallies — which resulted in police beating demonstrators and more than 2,000 protesters being detained— were sparked by the government's refusal to allow opposition candidates to register for the elections. Though the majority of the protesters were released shortly afterward, the heavy-handed approach seemed to only steel the protesters' determination. 
Denied the chance to vote for candidates opposed to Putin, the rebels endorsed the practice of tactical voting, supporting candidates from parties other than United Russia, the party that exists mainly to support whichever policies the Kremlin is pursuing.
In an early sign of the power of the opposition, the fact that candidates did not even clearly identify as part of United Russia — choosing, for the most part, to present themselves as independents — suggests that their brand is, to say the least, losing its appeal with voters. Altogether, United Russia lost a third of its seats on the Moscow City Council. Elsewhere, the picture was more positive for pro-Kremlin candidates.

Image: Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin waits for his ballot as he arrives to vote at a polling station during a city council election in Moscow, Russia on Sept. 8, 2019.Alexei Nikolsky / Sputnik/Kremlin Pool via AP

Naturally, the way you choose to interpret this outcome depends on your view of the situation. It may have been “victory” to the most prominent opposition activist, Alexei Navalny. To Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the results were proof that predictions of “protest voting” had not turned out to be true.
Look beyond the competing claims, though, it is clear something has shifted. When I was a correspondent in Moscow a decade ago, opposition demonstrations were pitifully small. In a city with a population of 10 million or more, the so-called “marches of the dissenters” often attracted no more than a couple thousand.
Russia then was growing richer on the back of soaring oil prices. For most Muscovites, and those who flocked to the capital to grab a share of the good times, there really wasn't much to complain about. Rising incomes secured Putin's popularity, with annual growth reaching 7 percent in the 2,000s, even as Western observers expressed concern about restrictions on political freedom. 
Those concerns did not trouble the majority of ordinary Russians. Traveling around Russia as a reporter in the 1990s, I heard stories of unpaid salaries and visited factories working at a fraction of their capacity. Wearied by the chaos that had followed the collapse of communism, many voters were content to accept the stability and steadier pay that came with a former KGB officer as president.
Things are different now, as that stability has eroded. With living standards falling, there are Russians taking to the streets to improve their financial prospects. Some of the most significant before this summer's demonstrations over the elections have been against pension reforms proposed raising the retirement age
While many of those protesters were close to retirement age, there is also a new generation of frustrated citizens who have only known Russia with Putin in charge. They want something else.
For the moment, these young activists pushing for change at the top remain in the minority. Putin's popularity may not be what it was — and a dispute over polling methodology earlier this year showed that it had become a touchy subject — but it is still higher than that enjoyed by many Western leaders.
But if the opposition activists campaigning for their candidates' right to run could harness the popular anger over the economy, too, then the Kremlin would have real cause for concern.
Ironically, it's the same thirst for economic prosperity coursing under this popular dissent that might save Putin from mass upheaval and the economic dislocation they equate it with from the past turmoil they've experienced.
Russia underwent radical change twice in the last century. The first time, in 1917, revolution followed centuries of violent injustice visited upon the people by the political elite. The second, in the 1990s, was a case of Communism collapsing as a result of an attempt to reform rather than destroy it. The instability that followed gave democracy itself a bad name in many parts of Russian society. (And that doesn't count the trauma of mass political murder and Nazi invasion in the time of Joseph Stalin.)
The wave of protest that rose in Russia this summer may now break without making much of an impact. But the change of some sort will have to come soon. 
Putin was re-elected in 2018 for a six-year term. By the time that ends in 2024, he will, for the second time, have served the two consecutive terms permitted by the Russian constitution. 
Last time he transitioned into the role of prime minister but continued to call the shots for his hand-picked replacement, Dmitry Medvedev. Even if he's able to pull off the same maneuver in 2024, though, he will be more than 70 years old and, if trends continue, further weakened by the mounting popular frustration. And failing that maneuver, either the constitution must change to permit him to continue in office, or the president must change. 
No one should underestimate Putin's desire, or ability, to survive. His opponents are unbowed by the beatings the riot police have handed out and jubilant at their success — an achievement to be sure, but still a modest one. But if Putin's administration is unable to offer the prospect of better times ahead, the protesters may find their ranks begin to swell further.

March 19, 2019

"Is Donald Trump Lindsey Graham’s personal Vladimir Putin?"

 The faces will tell you who gives it, who gets it and likes it and who does it because there is no choice

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Is Donald Trump Lindsey Graham’s personal Vladimir Putin?
Although there might not be a pee tape, many have wondered how John McCain’s best friend, who often acted like a maverick by regularly eschewing the Republican ethos, did a complete 180 and became Donald Trump’s mouthpiece.
MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle speculated without proof that President Trump could be holding “something pretty extreme” on South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and she may be right.
Before Trump took office Graham had been one of the most vocal Republican leaders against his presidency. In fact, in 2015, Graham called Trump a “xenophobic, race-baiting bigot.” While Trump has done nothing to change Graham’s 2015 feelings, somehow Graham has done a complete 180-degree turn and become Trump’s lap dog.
On MSNBC’s Velshi & Ruhle on Tuesday morning, former GOP congressman David Jolly (I-Fla.), who left the Republican Party in 2018, had this to say about Trump and Graham’s relationship.
“Before Don got elected, Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a racist, xenophobic bigot. Those are Lindsey Graham’s words,” Jolly said, according to the Hill.
“I doubt Lindsey Graham could tell you Donald Trump has had a change of heart in the last 24 months, I bet the change of heart has been with Lindsey Graham, not the president,” he said.
Then Ruhle added before going to commercial break: “Or it could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham.”
 Was it irresponsible journalism? Maybe. It’s probably not the best move to speculate wildly as to why a Senator has a had a huge change of heart towards a man whom he once believed was a racist, anti-immigrant bigot. But I don’t think she’s wrong.
Trump moves more like a member of the mafia than the senior most member of American politics, so it wouldn’t be shocking if Trump pulled Graham into the Oval Office to show him footage of himself in his teens stealing from a Piggly Wiggly.
From the Hill:
Graham has been one of Trump’s more vocal defenders since he took office, particularly during the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the fall.
But the former 2016 presidential rival has also recently criticized the president on big issues, including over Trump’s abrupt declaration last month about a U.S. withdrawal from Syria.
Graham vehemently opposed the move, calling it a “disaster” and a “stain on the honor of the United States.” He maintained that despite Trump’s initial declaration, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had not been defeated in Syria.
“To say they’re defeated is an overstatement and is fake news,” Graham said on the Senate floor Dec. 19. “It is not true. They have been severely damaged but they will come back unless we’re there to stop them.”
So now we wait to see if the Graham dossier is exposed. Is it called the “Graham Dossier?” Where does one hide a dossier? Is it in a vault? And where can I get a dossier vault? Probably from the secret white hardware retailer, Wypipo Depot.
I bet it’s a tape of Lindsey Graham that will ruin his career with his Republican base. It’s probably footage of him doing something very liberal like solving an algebra equation or treating a Mexican like a human being.
God help us all

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