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10 Vladimir Putin classics from this year’s marathon Q & A

The marathon session clocked in at just under 4.5 hours!

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Vladimir Putin has delivered yet another marathon Q & A session known as Direct Line with The President. For nearly four and a half hours, President Putin took questions from people across Russia and throughout the wider world about any and all topics. It happens every year and by now, President Putin is a seasoned pro.

Here are some of the highlights. 

1. Asylum for Comey 

Vladimir Putin was asked what he thought of the continuing saga between former FBI Director James Comey and the Trump administration.

Putin responded saying that it was “strange” also translated as “weird” that Comey should leak the contents of a private memo detailing a meeting with President Trump to the media via a surrogate.

Putin then stated that in some ways there are parallels between the Comey incident and that of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden who has received asylum in Russia on human rights grounds.

Putin said that if necessary, Russia is happy to grant Comey asylum on the same basis.

This rather sarcastic remarks demonstrates Putin’s keen sense of humour, something rarely discussed in western mainstream media.

CNN are probably  still trying to make out what it really means.

IT WAS A JOKE! That being said, a joke which referenced a lot of truth behind the recent political saga in the US.

2. Putin’s Time Machine 

Vladimir Putin was asked by a 12 year old girl where he would go if he had a time machine. In spite of the fantastical nature of the question, Putin rhetorically asked the girl if this time machine would allow a traveller in time to change the course of past events or simply observe them?

Putin then stated that he would use a time machine to observe  great moments in Russian history, including the Great Patriotic War.

He then told the girl that learning objective history is our real life time machine and encouraged all children to learn as much history as they can.

3. The Next President of Russia

Next year, Russia holds Presidential elections in which Vladimir Putin is eligible to run. Thus far, the only officially confirmed candidate is political veteran Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia).

Putin stated,

“Certainly, one day I will make up my mind. I don’t see anything bad in sharing my preferences [about the future president of Russia]. But ultimately let’s not forget that only the voters, Russian citizens, can determine who will lead”.

He continued,

“I look at what happens in other countries. And there you go, we know how political processes go there, we know political veterans. It’s basically normal, as long as it confirms democratic procedures and the nation’s law.

Nobody broke the law here in that regard”.

It seems Putin wants to keep the public in suspense even though recent polls have found that a majority of Russians want Putin to run for and win another term.

4. Ukraine 

Putin received a question from a man in Kiev who worried that Russia has abandoned a fraternal people. The man stated that he loves Russia, celebrates victory in the Great Patriotic War on the 9th of May and wants the Russian President to know that the current fascist regime in Ukraine does not speak for people like him.

President Putin thanked the man for his kind words but stated that Russia will not interfere in the business of the Kiev regime. He also said that Kiev regime leader Petro Poroshenko is beholden to the people he surrounds himself with who are “scoundrels wearing swastikas”.

Putin expressed concern for the fact that living standards in Ukraine have gone down while wages in Russia have risen from the depths of the dark 1990s.

Putin warned that the economic decline in Ukraine may make it so that Ukrainians won’t even be able to wash themselves. Nevertheless he said that Russia will not interfere in the workings of the current regime.

5. Putin’s Family 

Putin confirmed that he has grandchildren but that he wants to shelter them from the wider world. He explained that he does not want them growing up in the throes of fame and “blue blood” but would rather they live a life where they can talk with other children their age and grow up in a normal way.

It is this reason why Putin does not parade his children publican in the way that many western leaders do.

6. Church and State

When asked a question about St. Issac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Putin said that Russia is a secular state but that religious traditions must always be respected and the feelings of believers must not be insulted.

He insisted that great Russian Orthodox Churches can function as places of worship as well as public museums. He cited the Vatican as such an example of this mix.

7. Call From American Supporter 

President Putin received a call from a supporter in Arizona, USA. The man said that he is saddened that the US and Russia are politically at odds as he believes that Russia is an admirable country which should have good relations with America.

Vladimir Putin stated that there is much to admire in America and that the US is not seen as an enemy by Russia. He said that he looked forward to meeting President Trump and working with him on many issues, including climate change.

He said that while it is in the best interests of the world for nuclear powers like Russia and the US to have good relations, that ultimately, the political situation in the US has prohibited this. Nevertheless, Putin said that the door remains open.

8. Anger Management 

President Putin was asked how he deals with being cheated. Putin said that he “never forgets” but that at the same time one shouldn’t ever act in  haste and that one should try to see what the lying person might be getting at. He elaborated in the following way,

“I believe everyone sitting here had the experience when somebody was trying to deceive him.

I am a human being and this happens to me, too. But even when I see I am being lied to, I try not to act rashly. Before reacting, even if I am convinced that was a lie, I always try to understand what that person wanted and why. And I never forget”.

9. World Cup 

As Russia readies to host the World Cup, Putin spoke with builders at a football stadium in Kaliningrad. He assured the builders as well as a local football coach that based on the success of the Sochi Olympics, it will be imperative for facilities built for the World Cup to be converted into local facilities for young people to play sport in a modern and fun environment.

10. Big Fish 

Like Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergey Lavrov, Vladimir Putin is a keen fisherman. He was ask about his biggest catch.

Putin replied,

“Yes, I know that fishermen and enthusiasts (of fishing) are interested in it. I read about it, seen in the Internet. Honestly, (the fish) was weighed in front of me, it was 20 kilograms, though many believe it was too small for 20 kilograms, but anyway, that is what I saw”.

For those who missed the marathon sessions, you can watch it all here.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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