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Why the political situation in Russia is so calm

Personnel changes and reforms of the police and internal security agencies point to a calm situation with the government fully in control and the political system functioning normally.

Alexander Mercouris

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The recent reshuffle in the Kremlin discussed by Nathaniel Habibullin and by me, and the very low-key parliamentary election campaign recently discussed by Adam Garrie, all serve to underline the same point: the political situation in Russia is stable and calm.

Whatever the reasons for the Ivanov reshuffle (and in addition to the points previously made by Nathaniel Habibullin and myself it is worth adding that Ivanov recently suffered the tragedy of the death of his son in an accident, which may have diminished his capacity for work) there is no reason to think it implies any sudden shift in policy or that it is the result of any power struggle in the Kremlin. 

Whatever Sergey Ivanov’s faults as a manager Putin would be unlikely to agree to the removal of so loyal a man if he felt that his own position was coming under challenge or if he thought that the situation in the country was becoming unstable.  On the contrary the fact that Putin agreed to Ivanov’s removal is a sign of his confidence in the stability of the political situation in the country.

As for the parliamentary election campaign, my opinion is that domestic factors are more important in deciding how Russians vote than foreign policy ones.  However early indications are that United Russia by riding on Putin’s coat-tails will maintain or even increase its share of the vote, with less reason to worry that the vote is going to be manipulated than was the case in the parliamentary elections in 2011. 

What is striking about this election is how much more low-key the campaign has been by comparison with 2011.  During the 2011 election campaign media talk then centred on Navalny’s description of United Russia as the “Party of Crooks and Thieves”, though how much impact that had on how Russians actually voted is open to doubt.  There has been nothing like that this time largely because, with no prospect of a tandem switch between Medvedev and Putin and with Putin firmly in control and enjoying stratospheric poll ratings, prospects of a major political change are so much lower.

In the quest to prove that there are hidden stirrings of unrest beneath the placid surface some media commentators as is their wont have connected together entirely unrelated things to create a narrative of a darkening picture.  Thus the Ivanov reshuffle, a reshuffle of certain regional governors and of other regional officials, the appointment of Kudrin to an advisory post, and the recent announcement of the formation of a National Guard, are all taken as signs of a gathering political crisis.

A reshuffle of regional governors and officials is however a routine event in Russia.  There is nothing unusual or interesting about the latest one.  It is in fact impossible to see in any of the recent personnel changes whether at the centre or in the regions any evidence of a systematic purge of the power structure in one direction or another. 

Sergey Ivanov and Vladimir Yakunin (who in January stepped down from his position as head of the Russian Railways) are generally thought of as anti-Western hardliners.  Nikita Belykh, recently sacked as Governor of the Kirov Region following his arrest on corruption charges, is however a prominent liberal, as is Mikhail Zurabov who was recently sacked in disgrace from his post as ambassador to Ukraine.  It is impossible to see in these dismissals any evidence either of a liberal or of a conservative shift on the part of the government.

As for the National Guard, its formation has been ably discussed by the Saker and by Gordon Hahn.  In my opinion it is a purely administrative reorganisation of no political significance.  Certainly it is not a case of the setting up of some sort of Praetorian Guard to defend “Putin and the regime” from the people.  On the contrary it has been under discussion in Russia since at least 2012, and follows logically from the police reform of 2011. 

That attempted to increase public confidence in the police and to improve its work as a law enforcement agency by civilianising it (thus the change in its name from “militsia” to “politsia”) and by centralising it at a federal level.  It made total sense therefore, and is fully in line with the philosophy of the 2011 police reform, to separate from the police and the Interior Ministry (which administers the police) the various paramilitary formations (the Interior Ministry troops, the OMON riot police, the MVD Spetsnaz units etc) that the Interior Ministry had acquired during the Soviet period, and to consolidate them in a new agency, which would be called the National Guard.  

That way the police and the Interior Ministry become purely civilian law enforcement agencies – as the police reform of 2011 intended they should be.

What both the reshuffle of the governors and the reorganisation of the Interior Ministry and the setting up of the National Guard in fact show is how stable the situation in the country is.  No government that felt itself under serious threat would reshuffle its personnel in the regions or embark on a complex reorganisation of its internal security agencies on the eve of parliamentary elections if there was a serious danger of public unrest.  That the Russian government feels able to do both things is a sign of how secure it feels itself to be.

The degree of misunderstanding there is in relation to these issues is shown by some of the discussions that have centred on the person of Vladimir Kolokolstev, Russia’s Interior Minister.  There have been suggestions that Putin set up the National Guard because he does not fully trust Kolokoltsev and does not feel he can rely on him in case of public unrest.  It was also widely reported that Kolokoltsev was so upset by the setting up of the National Guard that he offered to resign.

If Putin genuinely feared public unrest and distrusted Kolokoltsev he would presumably sack him and replace him with someone more reliable, not leave someone he doesn’t trust in his post whilst carrying out a complicated reorganisation of the country’s internal security agencies which in the short term can only disorganise them and make them less able to cope with public unrest. 

In reality Kolokoltsev was made Interior Minister in May 2012 directly following the 2011 police reform precisely because he is a veteran police officer (he has served continuously in the police since 1982) and is therefore the obvious man to head the Interior Ministry as it is converted into a strictly civilian police agency.  Far from opposing the setting up of the National Guard Kolokoltsev must have anticipated it when he was appointed.  Almost certainly he was involved in creating it.

The episode of the police reform and of the setting up of the National Guard shows something else: that when Russia does carry out a reform of the sort its critics constantly demand, such as one intended to make its police more accountable and responsive and better suited for work in a modern democratic society, it gets no credit for doing it.  Instead the reform gets interpreted in the most sinister imaginable way.

Lastly, on the subject of Kudrin, I have discussed his appointment previously, and made clear my doubts that his appointment to a purely consultative post has any great relevance to the overall political situation in the country.  Whilst it is possible and even likely that following the elections a government reshuffle of some sort will occur, I personally doubt that Putin will appoint Kudrin – a deeply unpopular and highly polarising figure – either Prime Minister or Finance Minister as some people fear and other people hope.  Nor on the strength of what I heard Kudrin say during the SPIEF conference in St. Petersburg in June do I see why Putin would want to do so given that Kudrin’s programme seems to differ little from that of the existing government.

Overall and for whatever reason, Russia on the eve of the parliamentary elections is stable.  There is much criticism of the government – unsurprising given that there has been a recession (see my discussion here) – but its legitimacy and authority are not in doubt, whilst Putin’s popularity is stratospheric and his authority is unchallenged.  Any Western officials or commentators hoping for signs that the situation in Russia is slipping out of control are going to be disappointed.

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Defeat in Bavaria delivers knockout punch to Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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The stunning CSU defeat in Bavaria means that the coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government has lost an absolute majority in their worst election results in Bavaria since 1950.

In a preview analysis before the election, Deutsche Welle noted that a CSU collapse could lead to Seehofer’s resignation from Merkel’s government, and conceivably Söder’s exit from the Bavarian state premiership, which would remove two of the chancellor’s most outspoken critics from power, and give her room to govern in the calmer, crisis-free manner she is accustomed to.

On the other hand, a heavy loss and big resignations in the CSU might well push a desperate party in a more volatile, abrasive direction at the national level. That would further antagonize the SPD, the center-left junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, themselves desperate for a new direction and already impatient with Seehofer’s destabilizing antics, and precipitate a break-up of the age-old CDU/CSU alliance, and therefore a break-up of Merkel’s grand coalition. In short: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel’s fall.

The Financial Times reports that the campaign was dominated by the divisive issue of immigration, in a sign of how the shockwaves from Merkel’s disastrous decision to let in more than a million refugees in 2015-16 are continuing to reverberate through German politics and to reshape the party landscape.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the stunning Bavarian election defeat of the CSU party, and the message voters sent to Angela Merkel, the last of the Obama ‘rat pack’ neo-liberal, globalist leaders whose tenure as German Chancellor appears to be coming to an end.

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Via Zerohedge

Voters in Germany’s economically dominant southern state of Bavaria delivered a stunning rebuke to the ruling Christian Social Union, in an election that delivered another crushing blow for the parties in Angela Merkel’s grand coalition in Berlin.

With all eyes on Sunday’s Bavaria election, moments ago the first exit polls showed a historic collapse for the ruling CSU party, which has ruled Bavaria continuously since 1957, and which saw its share of the vote collapse from 47.7% in the 2013 election to just 35.5%, losing its absolute majority and suffering its worst result since 1950, as voters defected in their droves to the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

German newspaper Welt called the election “the most painful election defeat of the past 50 years for the CSU”. As predicted in the polls, the CSU experienced a “historic debacle” in the Bavarian state elections, according to Welt. The CSU was followed by the Greens which soared in the election, more than doubling to 18.5% from 8.6% in 2013, the Free Voters also rose to 11% from 9.0%, in 2013.

Meanwhile, the nationalist AfD are expecting to enter Bavaria’s parliament for the first time ever with 11% of the vote, and as such are setting up for their post-election party. Party leader Alice Weidel already is having the first beer in the small community of Mamming in Lower Bavaria.

Establishment party, left-of-center SPD also saw its support collapse from 20.6% in 2013 to just 10% today.

The full initial results from an ARD exit poll are as follows (via Zerohedge):

  • CSU: 35.5 %
  • Grüne: 18.5 %
  • FW: 11.5 %
  • AfD: 11.0 %
  • SPD: 10.0 %
  • FDP: 5.0 %
  • Linke: 3.5 %
  • Sonstige: 5.0 %

The breakdown by gender did not show any marked variations when it comes to CSU support, although more women voted for the Greens, while far more men supported the AfD:

There was a greater variation by educational level, with highly educated voters tending more towards the green GRÜNE (G/EFA) and liberal FDP (ALDE) then the average, while low/middle educated voters tended more towards CSU (EPP) and AfD (EFDD).

This was the worst result for the CSU since 1950.

Zerohedge further reports that alarmed by the rise of the anti-immigration, populist AfD, the CSU tried to outflank them by talking tough on immigration and picking fights with Ms Merkel over asylum policy.

But the strategy appeared to have backfired spectacularly by alienating tens of thousands of moderate CSU voters and driving them into the arms of the Greens.

Meanwhile, as support the CSU and SPD collapsed, the result confirmed the Greens’ status as the rising force in German politics. Running on a platform of open borders, liberal social values and the fight against climate change the party saw its support surge to 18.5%, from 8.4% in 2013. Meanwhile the AfD won 11%, and for the first time entered the Bavarian regional assembly.

“This is an earthquake for Bavaria,” said Jürgen Falter, a political scientist at the University of Mainz.

The CSU had governed the state with an absolute majority for most of the last 60 years. “It was Bavaria and Bavaria was the CSU. That is now no longer the case.”

The latest collapse of Germany’s establishment parties highlights the shaky ground the grand coalition in Berlin is now resting on as all three parties in the alliance, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the CSU and the SPD, are haemorrhaging support. Some are now questioning whether the coalition, already frayed by personal rivalries and near constant bickering over policy, can survive a full term in office.

“This outcome throws ever more doubt on the future of the grand coalition,” said Heinrich Oberreuter, head of the Passau Journalism Institute and an expert on the CSU. “Based on current polls, if an election were held now, the CDU, CSU and SPD would not even command a majority in the Bundestag.”

The CSU will now be be forced to form a coalition government — a humiliating outcome for a party that has run Bavaria single-handedly for 49 of the last 54 years. Its preference is probably for a three-party coalition with the Free Voters, a small party that is mainly focused on local politics. It could also team up with the Greens, though it would be highly reluctant to do so: the two parties are deeply divided over immigration, transport and environmental policy.

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Elizabeth Warren’s DNA ploy backfires big time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 1.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ‘genius’ idea to accept POTUS Trump’s ‘Native American DNA’ challenge. Let’s just say that Warren will never recover from this self-inflicted wound.

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The Cherokee Nation issued a statement crushing Elizabeth Warren for her “continued claims of tribal heritage.”

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America. Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, who ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is prove. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.

– Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr

Zerohedge reports that Elizabeth Warren just owned herself after releasing a DNA test confirming that she’s as little as 1/1024th Native American – about half the percentage of the average white person.

What’s more, the DNA expert she used, Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamente, “used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American” as opposed to, say, DNA from a Cherokee Indian which Warren has claimed to be throughout her career.

Adding to the absurdity are two major corrections by the Boston Globe (which has become the media mouthpiece of Warren’s 2020 damage control efforts of late), letting readers know that “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024,” and later updating it to “between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.”

Adding to the absurdity are two major corrections by the Boston Globe (which has become the media mouthpiece of Warren’s 2020 damage control efforts of late), letting readers know that “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024,” and later updating it to “between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.”

Elizabeth Warren’s got trolled by Trump in the most epic fashion, pushing the Senator to make a blunder that will follow her for the rest of her career.

The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson exposed Elizabeth Warren’s history of lies in 10 simple tweets…

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Hillary Clinton: Democrats have been TOO CIVIL with GOP (VIDEO)

Civil war becomes more likely as Clinton calls for greater civil unrest after weeks of absolutely insane behavior from leftist activists.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton just called for an end to civil behavior towards Republicans and conservatives. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN expanded on in a piece by USA Today, the failed candidate had this to say:

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about… That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and / or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

Clinton said that Senate Republicans under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “demeaned the confirmation process” and “insulted and attacked” Christine Blasey Ford – who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about a sexual assault she alleges Kavanaugh committed in 1982 – along with other “women who were speaking out.”

It should be pointed out here that Clinton told a lie. The Senate Republicans did everything possible to hear out Dr Ford’s testimony, and no one has gone on record with any sort of insults or demeaning comments about her. Every Republican Senator who stated anything agreed that something happened to her, but they also agreed that there was no corroboration showing that Judge Kavanaugh was actually involved in any misdoings. USA Today’s piece continues:

Clinton compared the handling of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to “Republican operatives shutting down the voting in 2000,” the “swift-boating of John Kerry,” attacks on former Arizona Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary and “what they did to me for 25 years.

“When you’re dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, you can be civil but you can’t overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections,” she told Amanpour.

Clinton compared Kavanaugh’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House on Monday to a “political rally” that “further undermined the image and integrity of the court.”

She told Amanpour the effect on the court “troubles” and “saddens” her “because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”

“But the President’s been true to form,” Clinton added. “He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign – really for many years leading up to the campaign. And he’s continued to do that inside the White House.”

Here, Clinton told at least two more incendiary whoppers.

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First, no one has been specifically after her, and second, President Donald Trump’s record with women including in the White House has been nothing short of stellar and gentlemanly. Nikki Haley, who supported Marco Rubio in the 2016 campaign and has at times been openly critical of Donald Trump, yesterday announced her full support of his 2020 campaign and her intent to campaign with and for him.

By all accounts, Mrs. Haley is a woman.

The first American Civil War had economic policy and states’ rights as its central focus. Slavery was a part of that issue, though slavery was practiced in the North as well in the South before this war began.

Now a new civil war is coming, but perhaps it should be called the American Social War. It is not about any real policy matter at all. It is hysteria, but it appears to be hysteria with a purpose.

The first American Social War has two apparent sides and allying forces and groups:

The Left:

  • pro-gay marriage
  • pro-death (in other words, pro-abortion)
  • anti-Christian, especially Christianity that says these first two issues are wrong
  • anti-GOP / Republican / Conservative
  • “victim class” – feminists, some millenials
  • supporters of legalized use of mind-altering / mood-altering drugs
  • appears to support overreaching socialist style government, featuring “fair” wages, such as a $15.oo minimum wage
  • anti-traditionalist
  • Mainstream media is strongly allied here
  • George Soros is a supporter
  • social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter are supporters through “scrubbing” of media content
  • anti-white, anti-male, and if you are white, male and Christian, look out. You are Enemy Number One
  • supports and executes violence against all these people they are against, including family members.
  • very zealous, and very monolithic in terms of alignment and energy

The Right:

  • Conservatives
  • people who generally want the government to leave them alone
  • generally favors life, considering abortion tragic and to be avoided, though some consider that it should be made illegal
  • marriage has always been between one man and one woman and it should not be redefined to fit the whims of a few
  • God is sovereign (though many conservatives would never make this connection)
  • No real animus against the left, but at the same time, fed up with being hectored by the left all the time, as we saw in Senator Lindsey Graham’s explosive confrontation against Senate Democrats
  • Generally Republican by party affiliation, though many libertarian and conservatives are also present as well as a number of conservative democrats.
  • seeks to avoid violence. While there do exist a very few neo-Nazi types, their numbers are infinitesimal, and their behavior is rejected by the Right
  •  generally against drug use, though many have unfortunately moderated on the matter of actual illegality

The main characteristic of this approaching war, as stated before, is little more than some sort of outrage over identity politics and perceived victimization. This is something both new and old, as there is always a party in any war that claims that they are fighting because they are in fact the aggrieved party, under the other side’s aggression and suppression.

That factor exists with this war too. However, the reality of that aggression or suppression is that it does not exist, and this makes it very difficult for the “perceived aggressors” to ramp up the zeal needed to carry out the fight.

This factor is often very maddening for conservative people. As a whole they do not wish to fight. They wish to be left alone. The left on the other hand insists that everything must be fought for because the right has somehow managed to take it away from them, or is keeping it away from them.

This is purely fiction but it is almost impossible to convince a leftist that this is so. Tucker Carlson expands on this matter in this report. He makes reference at 6:37 about how Hillary Rodham Clinton is now openly calling for civility to the GOP to end (as if it hasn’t already!), but the entirety of this report begs to be seen to give perspective to the look and feel of this crisis:

This is unfamiliar territory in many ways, and it is unclear how far this will go. But one this is clear: it is testing all available limits, and it may come to real fighting, and real killing, for no reason better than perceived victimization.

It should be understood that the advocates for violence are all people that reject God and traditional values openly. There is certainly a connection.

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