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

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

January 15, 2019

Sergei Polunin, Does Not Like Gays, Strong Female Types and Can’t Stand Fat People But Likes Putin

                                                        Image result for Sergei Polunin and Putin

By Roslyn Sulcas
The New York Times

Sergei Polunin will dance at the Paris Opera Ballet. Sergei Polunin will not dance at the Paris Opera Ballet.

Barely 48 hours passed between a tweet on Thursday announcing a coming guest appearance as Siegfried in “Swan Lake” by Mr. Polunin, whom many consider one of the finest male dancers of his generation and an announcement on Saturday by the Opera that the invitation had been withdrawn.

The withdrawal came after a furor on social media, responding to news of the Paris performances. That’s because, over the last two months, Mr. Polunin, a former principal at the Royal Ballet in London, has posted around a dozen Instagram messages trumpeting his dislike for homosexuals and “females now trying to take on man role”; and his desire to slap fat people for their lack of discipline. (This last, most recent message has been removed from Instagram.) Beyond those, he has used social media to address his admiration for Vladimir V. Putin, whose image is tattooed on his chest, and his support for Donald Trump.

Mr. Polunin, 29, who has more than 170,000 Instagram followers, has achieved fame beyond the ballet world, thanks in part to his solo to Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” filmed by David LaChapelle, which attracted over 26 million views on YouTube. 

On the day that the news of his invitation to dance at the Opera was announced, Mr. Polunin wrote on Instagram: “Got strong feeling What if Vladimir Putin would become the leader of the world. I will pray for that because it would be an ultimate win over evil.” He added: “I believe this will be the future and my energy will help him to do that.”

The Ukrainian-born Mr. Polunin, who holds both Russian and Ukrainian passports, has also posted several messages about the need to unite those two countries.

Over the past two weeks, Mr. Polunin’s posts have seemed increasingly incoherent and troubling. He expressed homophobic and sexist sentiments in a rambling rant about male and female roles onstage and off: “Man up to all men who are doing ballet there is already ballerina on stage don’t need to be two”; “Man are wolfs man Are lions man are the leaders of there’s family you suppose to take care of everything”; “Stop being weak be a man be a warrior what’s wrong with you???”

Several Paris Opera Ballet dancers, dance critics, and others, were quick to express dismay. Adrian Couvez, a corps de ballet member, addressed Mr. Polunin directly on Twitter. “Such an embarrassment you are,” he wrote, adding in French, “to invite someone like this to Paris in 2019 is just impossible.” Other dancers and members of the public weighed in, most criticizing the decision to invite Mr. Polunin.

By Saturday, Aurélie Dupont, the artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet announced that Mr. Polunin would not appear with the company. A press representative confirmed that Ms. Dupont had written in an internal email that while she “recognized Mr. Polunin’s talent, she had discovered public statements that had shocked her, and which didn’t correspond to her values or to those of the institution she represents.” In response to a request for further comment from Ms. Dupont, a Paris Opera Ballet press representative said she “has already responded and clearly stated her position.” 
Other social media commenters were critical of Ms. Dupont’s decision. “A renouncement that puts in question her authority and confirms political correctness,” wrote one, while another wrote on Facebook that Mr. Polunin merely expressed “things any rapper band has been bawling with impunity for decades.”

Mr. Polunin’s public unraveling is dismaying to the many who consider him a huge talent whose best dance years have been largely lost to the ballet world. Many of his followers have expressed concern for his mental health; others have defended his right to hold whatever political views he pleases. Mr. Polunin did not respond to a request for comment.

His story is well known to ballet fans, and was the subject of a 2016 documentary, “Dancer.” The film shows his passage from an impoverished childhood in Kherson, Ukraine, to his arrival at the Royal Ballet School, speaking no English, at 13, and on to his meteoric success at the Royal Ballet, where he became the company’s youngest-ever principal dancer at 19.

Two years later, he abruptly resigned, declaring he was bored with ballet, its punishing physical regimen, and meager financial rewards. He tweeted about taking drugs, drinking and going to parties, and about the tattoo parlor he co-owned. The British media wrote endlessly about him, calling him “the bad boy of ballet,” and bemoaning the loss of his talent.

Mr. Polunin has since pursued a film career, appearing in small roles in “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Red Sparrow” and “The White Crow.” But his dance career has faltered. After leaving the Royal Ballet, he danced with the Stanislavsky Company in Moscow and he has been a “permanent guest artist” with the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich. (Igor Zelensky, the director of the Munich Ballet, was unavailable for comment.)

But Mr. Polunin’s own venture, Project Polunin, and a joint program with his former girlfriend, the ballerina Natalia Osipova, have met with a tepid critical reception. He is currently scheduled to appear at the London Palladium at the end of May in what is described as “a new mixed program.”

August 31, 2018

Russia's Putin Forced to Soften A Little His Dramatic and Unpopular Pension Cuts

 Mr. Alexei Navalny (Can you see what is behind that face?)

Usually Putin doesn't say much when he decries about anything in a way of explanations. But this time the Russian population was having a big problem swallowing the fact they now had to wait 8 more years to retirenment. That is a big increase and only a leader that either has a lot of backing from his constituents or a dictator that can use force to jail and kill the opposition could just say it and do it. But this time Putin had to soften the years by 3 which is not much but I guess it was his gesture from someone who doesn't back down to his people. At the end the Russians have to swallow what ever he throws at them. I wonder if the population knows or suspect how many billions he is got in multiple properties in Russia and much more in dollars, pounds, rubles  and real estate in outside banks. All he had to do is put some money back to the economy like a $billion or so as a way of thanking the Russian population for making a nobody ex KGB middle level spy with not many assets to one of the riches man in the whorld. 

If you like the order that comes from dictators you have to put up with making them rich with the family and many friends. You also have to put up with the jailing with jacked up charges and sometimes dissapearences which means death bcause you never get to see your son or husband ever again. 

I know some don't like to suffere while Putin enjoys your money. One of those is Alexei Nalvany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has softened his plan for pension reform in response to his falling approval rating and the threat of nationwide protests, reports the AP.
Why it matters: In a rare concession, Putin said the retirement age for women would be raised from 55 to 60, rather than 63 as originally planned. The televised speech in which he announced the partial change illustrates just how unpopular the reforms were, as Putin seldom explains his policy decisions to the public. 

Russian opposition leader and prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 30 days in prison for breaking public protest laws, reports Al Jazeera.
Why it matters: Navalny was convicted in January but sentenced more than six months later, a delay he claims was part of the Russian government's efforts to stop him from leading nationwide protests over pension reformon Sept. 9. Navalny has been jailed several times for organizing protests against Putin and for other charges he says are bogus. He was barred from running for president in January.

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