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Chronically deluded Poland wants to dominate Europe from the Baltic to the Adriatic

Europe’s most pathetic chauvinists want to resurrect a failed hegemony strategy from the 1920s

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(New Eastern Outlook) – Poland’s Three Seas Initiative to date is a thinly-disguised geopolitical attempt to create a counter to the influence of both Russia to the east and of Germany to her west. Comparisons with Poland’s ill-fated Intermarium following World War I come to mind, not without reason. Following that war Poland’s leader Josef Pilsudski attempted to create a de facto union of states from the Black Sea to the Baltic to oppose both the Soviet Russian and the German empire under the name Intermarium. If we superimpose the states geographically from the various configurations of Intermarium with that of today’s Three Seas Initiative we see a clear resemblance, if you will, a kind of demarcation line between Germany in the west and the Russian Federation in the east. The similarities do not end there.

The current Three Seas Initiative was formally founded in Dubrovnik in August 2016 and includes twelve central and eastern European states as members. Member countries span the space between the Baltic, the Adria and the Black Seas, hence the name. In addition to Poland and Croatia, members presently include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovenia. It’s second meeting in Warsaw in July 2017 was attended by the US President Trump, who gave the group his clear imprimatur.

The question is what political or economic notions are driving Poland’s Three Seas Initiative? If we look more closely at its initial focus on energy, much becomes clearer.

US Shale LNG

On July 6, 2017 en route to the Hamburg G20 Summit, US President Donald Trump made a high-profile stop in Warsaw to attend the second meeting of the Three Seas Initiative, a project first publicly proposed by Polish President Andrzej Duda.

While the prime actors, Poland and Croatia, insist that the Three Seas Initiative is not at all geopolitical, but rather a forum to better integrate common infrastructure projects north-south in the new EU states of central Europe, it’s clear that the opposite is the case, it’s geopolitics. The real driver of the initiative, Washington, is clearly opposed to the German-Russian undersea Baltic Nord Stream II gas pipeline. Poland for her part stands to lose gas transit fees as the present transit routes of Russian gas via Ukraine and Poland would be phased out, but that is not the major driver. For Germany and for Russia, since the US-initiated February 2014 Kiev coup d’etat broke Ukraine’s ties with Russia, Ukraine transit of Russian gas has been a highly explosive and uncertain issue.

In July in Warsaw Trump told his audience, “We are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.” The remarks were a not-so-veiled slap at Moscow where Washington alleged, falsely, in 2008 that Russia’s Gazprom cut gas supplies via Ukraine to western European consumers, something Moscow vehemently denied, stating it was done by Ukraine, with the almost certain backing of Washington. During the worst tensions of the Cold War Moscow never disrupted gas deliveries to Europe. They had no reason to do so in 2008, rather the opposite. However, US-backed President Viktor Yushchenko did.

A Polish Gas Hub

For their side Poland has dreams of using the Three Seas Initiative to make Poland into a new gas hub for the EU by importing US Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

To ship gas by LNG tanker is a costly process. It requires construction of special LNG terminals at both port of origin and of destination. The gas must first by transformed into a cold liquid state at about −260 °F, and loaded on the specially-made tankers. At destination a similar special LNG terminal is required where the gas can be again changed from liquid to gas state for ultimate consumption. All this is quite costly compared with pipeline gas routes.

By contrast, Russia today delivers most of its gas via pipeline to the EU market. The cost of Russian gas as a result of this and other factors is significantly lower. For Poland this seems not to matter. They dream of replacing Ukraine as the gas transit to the EU with gas from Norway and LNG gas from the USA and perhaps gas from Qatar if Washington does not manage to disrupt that via Saudi sanctions.

In late June, 2017 Poland’s new LNG terminal on the Baltic Sea at Swinoujscie received the first US LNG shipment from the Texas terminal of Cheniere Energy, currently the only US LNG terminal for export of LNG. During the Trump visit Poland’s president made clear he wanted long-term contracts with US LNG suppliers, ultimately to export to other countries of the Three Seas Initiative in place of Russian gas via Ukraine. In the process, Poland has dreams of replacing Russia also as supplier to Ukraine.

Commenting on the Polish wish, Trump declared that “many more” US LNG shipments will be coming to Poland, but added that the price might rise. “Maybe we get your price up a little bit, but that’s ok, tough negotiations,” Trump told his audience in Warsaw. “We are sitting on massive energy, we are now exporters of energy. Whenever you need energy, just give us a call.” Tough negotiations, to be sure.

Poland is building a strategy to make it the new energy hub of central Europe to replace Russian gas. This is at the heart of her Three Seas Initiative project. The new LNG terminal which was built at a cost of $ 1 billion can accept 5 billion cubic meters of gas per year, about one-third Poland’s nnual gas consumption. Poland is discussing doubling that.

But that’s only the first part of what in fact is a NATO strategy to drive Russian gas out of EU markets. The strategy calls for making Poland a natural gas hub for Central Europe by linking Poland with Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic through interconnectors.

Blocking Nord Stream II

The Polish Three Seas Initiative on energy infrastructure for importing US LNG is at one and the same time a strategy against German influence on EU energy markets and against Russia as major energy supplier. It is no wonder, given Poland’s gas hub ambitions that the country takes the lead in trying to block the German-Russian Nord Stream II under-Baltic gas pipeline.

On November 1, Krzysztof Szczerski, head of the Chancellery of the President of Poland, announced that Poland’s government will do everything possible to block Nord Stream II. “We must be aware of the Nord Stream 2 issue, of what scale of interests we are facing,” he stated. “We are dealing with the interests of two large states (Germany and Russia-w.e.), which will launch significant resources for the implementation of this project. Nord Stream 2 is not a side project, but a foundation to their interests. Simultaneously, it has a deep anti-European character (sic!),” he said.

Blocking Nord Stream II is also a high Washington priority. In June, 2017 the US Congress passed and President Trump signed into law severe new anti-Russian sanctions that among other aims explicitly targeted investment in Nord Stream II. The latest US economic sanctions against Russia take direct aim at the companies involved in backing the German-Russian Nord Stream II pipeline expansion across the Baltic, independent of Poland transit. If activated by the US President it would impose severe economic sanctions on EU companies involved in energy projects with Russia, such as Nord Stream II.

The governments of Germany and Austria immediately registered vehement opposition to the latest possible US sanctions for obvious reasons. On June 15 the German and Austrian foreign ministers issued an unusually US-critical joint statement. They declared in very strong terms, “Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America. We cannot accept … the threat of illegal extraterritorial sanctions against European companies that participate in the development of European energy supply.” Austria boycotted the Trump July 6 appearance before the Three Seas Initiative as well to signal its disapproval of the US gas talks.

Poland’s Costly US LNG

On November 21, 2017 Poland’s state gas firm PGNiG signed its first mid-term deal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries from the United States, as part of their plan to cut dependence on Russian supplies. PGNiG said that as part of the deal, signed with Centrica LNG Co. an Anglo-American energy group, it will receive nine LNG shipments in 2018-2022. The company has not revealed the volumes and prices agreed under the contract. Market indications are that the Polish government is paying a huge penalty for its Russo-phobia.

Estimates of Russia’s Gazprom suggest that Poland must pay for winter 2017-18 in the range of $265-$295/1,000 cubic meters. Russian gas via pipeline is being delivered for an average price of $190/1,000 cu m. If accurate, it suggests that Poland is paying up to 50% more for its US LNG deliveries. To deliver that US LNG further to other Three Seas Initiative partner countries implies far higher gas prices in central Europe.

What is developing are new major EU fault lines around the economic lifeline of energy, explicitly of natural gas energy. On the one side is the axis between especially Germany but also Austria, France and other EU states currently tied to major Russian gas supplies. Now emerges clearly the opposed axis of Poland allied with Washington.

Role of Atlantic Council

For Washington Poland’s Three Seas Initiative is a win-win situation. That should come as no surprise when we consider that the Atlanticist NATO think tank, Atlantic Council, is playing a shaping role behind formation of the Poland Three Seas Initiative.

The naming of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State was no accident. It is part of a longer-term Washington strategy to make the United States, particularly with its recent exploitation of unconventional shale gas and shale oil, to become the dominant global energy power. US actions in Syria and with Saudi Arabia against Iran and Qatar fit into that strategy. Elimination or sharp curtailing of Qatar LNG exports, including to Poland, stands to benefit US gas suppliers.

One reason for the Saudi sanctions on Qatar, imposed following the May 21 Trump meeting in Riyadh to discuss creation of an “Arab NATO,” had little to do with claims that Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood, something that had been true. Saudi Arabia for its part had spent billions backing every terror group in Syria from Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, to ISIS, in its effort to dislodge Bashar al Assad. The real issue for the US-backed Saudi embargo of Qatar was the fact that Qatar had begun secret negotiations with Iran on joint development of their shared Persian Gulf gas fields, the largest known in the world. Were that Qatar-Iran cooperation to happen with Bashar al Assad firmly in power after Russia’s intervention in Syria, it would change the entire world energy geopolitics in Russia’s favor and against the US role.

In reality the Qatar blockade by the Saudis is aimed not at stopping radical terrorists. It is aimed at keeping Iranian and Qatari and, potentially, Syrian gas out of the EU gas market, estimated to become the world’s largest gas consumer in coming years. For Washington, Poland and their Three Seas Initiative are merely a chess play in a larger geopolitical game.

The creation of Poland’s costly LNG terminal and its strategy to become a central European gas hub via the Three Seas Initiative was not an idea born in Warsaw. It came from Washington, specifically from the geopolitical strategists of the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council, created by Washington during the height of the Cold War, today is a major think tank of NATO policy financed by the Pentagon and US intelligence agencies. Official donors include the US Department of the Air Force; Department of the Army; Department of the Navy and the US National Intelligence Council. As well the US State Department and Energy Department contribute to the Council, along with NATO itself.

In April, 2017 the Atlantic Council held a conference in Istanbul on the Three Seas strategy. The theme of the conference was “Making the Three Seas Initiative a Priority for Trump.” The keynote speech was made by General James L. Jones, chairman of the Atlantic Council, and former Obama National Security Advisor. The Atlantic Council was present in Warsaw in July for the Trump appearance at the three Seas Initiative meeting.

Jones remarked in his April remarks on the Three Seas Initiative, “This is a truly transatlantic project that has enormous geopolitical, geostrategic, and geo-economic ramifications.” Jones went on to confirm that the Three Seas Initiative is designed to “alleviate the Kremlin’s strong hand in the European energy sector.” Jones noted also that he had spoken with Secretary Tillerson about the importance of supporting the Three Seas Initiative: “He understands it. He understands the strategic interest; he understands the economic interest,” Jones noted.

Another Initiative Shows Limits of Three Seas

On November 27 a quite different forum assembled, hosted by a member country of the Three Seas Initiative. The China – Central and Eastern Europe summit in Budapest, hosted by Prime Minister Viktor Orban included all 12 members of the Three Seas Initiative as well as non-EU states Serbia, Bosnia Herzogovina, Macedonia and Albania. The China-CEE countries discussed participation in China’s vast One Belt, One Road infrastructure to increase European-Eurasian trade flows. They discussed creation of new infrastructure funds, of currency cooperation and much more. It was a far contrast to the prospects of the Three Seas Initiative to spend billions in risky US shale gas LNG projects in order to alienate Russia and Germany further.

The contrast of the China-CEE summit to that of the Three Seas Initiative couldn’t be more stark. It shows the geopolitical fault lines of what little positive Washington is able to offer its European NATO allies today in contrast with the possibilities to join with China and Russia in building a new Eurasian infrastructure to Europe.

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Trump Demands Tribute from NATO Vassals

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO are a captive audience.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Regardless of whether one loves or hates President Trump at least we can say that his presidency has a unique flavor and is full of surprises. Bush and Obama were horribly dull by comparison. Trump as a non-politician from the world of big (real estate) business and media has a different take on many issues including NATO.

Many, especially in Russia were hoping that “The Donald’s” campaign criticism of NATO would move towards finally putting an end to this anti-Russian alliance, which, after the fall of Communism really has no purpose, as any real traditional military threats to Europe have faded into history. However, Trump as President of the United States has to engage in the “realpolitik” of 21st century America and try to survive and since Trump seems rather willing to lie to get what he wants, who can really say which promises from his campaign were a shoot and which were a work.

So as it stands now Trump’s recent decision to maintain and build US/NATO bases across the world “and make country X pay for it” could mean anything from him trying to keep his campaign promises in some sort of skewed way, to an utter abandonment of them and submission to the swamp. Perhaps it could simply be his business instincts taking over in the face of “wasteful spending”. Making allies have to pay to have US/NATO forces on their territory is a massive policy shift that one could only predict coming from the unpredictable 45th President.

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO (and other “allies”) are a captive audience, especially Germany, Japan and South Korea, which “coincidentally” are the first set of countries that will have to pay the “cost + 50%” to keep bases and US soldiers on their soil. Japan’s constitution, written primarily by American occupation forces forbids them from having a real military which is convenient for Trump’s plan. South Korea, although a very advanced and wealthy nation has no choice but to hide behind the US might because if it were to disappear overnight, then Gangnam would be filled with pictures of the Kim family within a few weeks.

In the past with regard to these three countries NATO has had to keep up the illusion of wanting to “help” them and work as “partners” for common defense as if nuclear and economic titan America needs countries like them to protect itself. Trump whether consciously or not is changing the dynamic of US/NATO occupation of these territories to be much more honest. His attitude seems to be that the US has the possibility to earn a lot of money from a worldwide mafia-style protection scam. Vassals have no choice but to pay the lord so Trump wants to drop the illusions and make the military industrial complex profitable again and God bless him for it. This level of honesty in politics is refreshing and it reflects the Orange Man’s pro-business and “America will never be a socialist country” attitude. It is blunt and ideologically consistent with his worldview.

On the other hand, one could look at this development as a possible move not to turn NATO into a profitable protection scam but as a means to covertly destroy it. Lies and illusion in politics are very important, people who believe they are free will not rebel even if they have no freedom whatsoever. If people are sure their local leaders are responsible for their nation they will blame them for its failings rather than any foreign influence that may actually be pulling the real strings.

Even if everyone in Germany, Japan and South Korea in their subconscious knows they are basically occupied by US forces it is much harder to take action, than if the “lord” directly demands yearly tribute. The fact that up to this point US maintains its bases on its own dime sure adds to the illusion of help and friendship. This illusion is strong enough for local politicians to just let the status quo slide on further and further into the future. Nothing is burning at their feet to make them act… having to pay cost + 50% could light that fire.

Forcing the locals to pay for these bases changes the dynamic in the subconscious and may force people’s brains to contemplate why after multiple-generations the former Axis nations still have to be occupied. Once occupation becomes expensive and uncomfortable, this drops the illusion of friendship and cooperation making said occupation much harder to maintain.

South Korea knows it needs the US to keep out the North but when being forced to pay for it this may push them towards developing the ability to actually defend themselves. Trump’s intellectual “honesty” in regards to NATO could very well plant the necessary intellectual seeds to not just change public opinion but make public action against US/NATO bases in foreign countries. Japan has had many protests over the years against US bases surging into the tens of thousands. This new open vassal status for the proud Japanese could be the straw to break the camel’s back.

Predicting the future is impossible. But it is clear that, changing the fundamental dynamic by which the US maintains foreign bases in a way that will make locals financially motivated to have them removed, shall significantly affect the operations of US forces outside the borders of the 50 States and make maintaining a global presence even more difficult, but perhaps this is exactly what the Orange Man wants or is just too blind to see.

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High-ranking Ukrainian official reports on US interference in Ukraine

It is not usually the case that an American media outlet tells the truth about Ukraine, but it appears to have happened here.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Hill committed what may well have been a random act of journalism when it reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Hill.tv’s reporter John Solomon that the American ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him a “do not prosecute” list at their first meeting.

Normally, all things Russia are covered by the American press as “bad”, and all things Ukraine are covered by the same as “good.” Yet this report reveals quite a bit about the nature of the deeply embedded US interests that are involved in Ukraine, and which also attempt to control and manipulate policy in the former Soviet republic.

The Hill’s piece continues (with our added emphases):

“Unfortunately, from the first meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, [Yovanovitch] gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute,” Lutsenko, who took his post in 2016, told Hill.TV last week.

“My response of that is it is inadmissible. Nobody in this country, neither our president nor our parliament nor our ambassador, will stop me from prosecuting whether there is a crime,” he continued.

Indeed, the Prosecutor General appears to be a man of some principles. When this report was brought to the attention of the US State Department, the response was predictable:

The State Department called Lutsenko’s claim of receiving a do not prosecute list, “an outright fabrication.” 

“We have seen reports of the allegations,” a department spokesperson told Hill.TV. “The United States is not currently providing any assistance to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), but did previously attempt to support fundamental justice sector reform, including in the PGO, in the aftermath of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. When the political will for genuine reform by successive Prosecutors General proved lacking, we exercised our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer and redirected assistance to more productive projects.”

This is an amazing statement in itself. “Our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer”? Are Americans even aware that their country is spending their tax dollars in an effort to manipulate a foreign government in what can probably well be called a low-grade proxy war with the Russian Federation? Again, this appears to be a slip, as most American media do a fair job of maintaining the narrative that Ukraine is completely independent and that its actions regarding the United States and Russia are taken in complete freedom.

Hill.TV has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine for comment.

Lutsenko also said that he has not received funds amounting to nearly $4 million that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was supposed to allocate to his office, saying that “the situation was actually rather strange” and pointing to the fact that the funds were designated, but “never received.”

“At that time we had a case for the embezzlement of the U.S. government technical assistance worth 4 million U.S. dollars, and in that regard, we had this dialogue,” he said. “At that time, [Yovanovitch] thought that our interviews of Ukrainian citizens, of Ukrainian civil servants, who were frequent visitors of the U.S. Embassy put a shadow on that anti-corruption policy.”

“Actually, we got the letter from the U.S. Embassy, from the ambassador, that the money that we are speaking about [was] under full control of the U.S. Embassy, and that the U.S. Embassy did not require our legal assessment of these facts,” he said. “The situation was actually rather strange because the funds we are talking about were designated for the prosecutor general’s office also and we told [them] we have never seen those, and the U.S. Embassy replied there was no problem.”

“The portion of the funds, namely 4.4 million U.S. dollars were designated and were foreseen for the recipient Prosecutor General’s office. But we have never received it,” he said.

Yovanovitch previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia under former presidents Obama and George W. Bush, as well as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan under Bush. She also served as ambassador to Ukraine under Obama.

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who was at the time House Rules Committee chairman, voiced concerns about Yovanovitch in a letter to the State Department last year in which he said he had proof the ambassador had spoken of her “disdain” for the Trump administration.

This last sentence may be a way to try to narrow the scope of American interference in Ukraine down to the shenanigans of just a single person with a personal agenda. However, many who have followed the story of Ukraine and its surge in anti-Russian rhetoric, neo-Naziism, ultra-nationalism, and the most recent events surrounding the creation of a pseudo-Orthodox “church” full of Ukrainian nationalists and atheists as a vehicle to import “Western values” into a still extremely traditional and Christian land, know that there are fingerprints of the United States “deep state” embeds all over this situation.

It is somewhat surprising that so much that reveals the problem showed up in just one report. It will be interesting to see if this gets any follow-up in the US press.

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President Putin’s anti-fake news law is brilliant, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. This law is brilliant, for it hits the would-be slanderer right where it counts – in the pocketbook.

We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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