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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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Hungary Prime Minister Attacks Juncker and Soros in Billboard Ad

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán attacked EC President Jean Claude Jucker and George Soros in a billboard ad.

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Via MishTalk:


The EU has never seen anything quite like this. Orbán has a billboard campaign that claims European Commission president Juncker and and George Soros are “Endangering Hungary’s Safety”.

Opening a new front against Brussels a few months before European [parliament] elections, the poster shows the European commission president alongside the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a familiar target in Hungary.

“You have the right to know what Brussels is planning to do,” the poster says. On its official Facebook page, the Hungarian government says the poster is part of an information campaign to tell the public about Brussels’ migration plans, which it claims “fundamentally endangered Hungary’s safety”.

Although the government has previously run a “Stop Brussels” campaign, the decision to use an image of Junker is an escalation in the Orbán government’s public relations war with the EU’s most senior leaders.

It also exposes the rift in the centre-right European People’s party in the European parliament, which counts Juncker and Orbán, as members.

Orbán was re-elected for a third straight term last April, after a campaign dominated by immigration. A long-term critic of the EU, Orbán has accused NGOs and critical media of being part of a plot orchestrated by Soros to send millions of people to Hungary.

In recent weeks, Orbán has spoken of his hopes that the next European parliament will be dominated by anti-immigration parties.

Birds of a Feather Not

​Juncker once met Orbán with the jokey greeting “hello, dictator” and playfully tapped his face.

Today, Juncker responded Orban Should Leave Europe’s Centre-Right.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party should leave the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament (EP).

“Against lies there’s not much you can do,” Juncker was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency, adding that he had called for Fidesz’s expulsion from the EPP.

​”They didn’t vote for me in the European Parliament,” he said in Stuttgart, Germany, in a speech. “The far right didn’t either. I remember Ms. Le Pen, she said: ‘I’m not voting for you.’ I said: ‘I don’t want your vote.’ There are certain votes you just don’t want,” Juncker said, referring to the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Eurointelligence Comments

Looking at Orbán’s previous record, and noting that one cannot of be sure, we continue doubt that Hungary’s Prime Minister has changed his European strategy and is now working to provoke the exclusion of his party from the EPP. Rather, Orbán seems to be doing one his classic hit-and-runs.

There is little doubt that the new smear campaign will make life on the campaign trail much more difficult for Manfred Weber, the CSU MEP and EPP spitzenkandidat. Juncker himself has now declared more forcefully than ever before that the EPP values are not consistent with keeping Fidesz in.

But we note that the CSU leadership in Munich has in the past consistently worked to maintain close and even warm ties with Orban.

Spitzenkandidat

US readers no doubt need an explanation of Spitzenkandidat. The following video explains.

In short, the term refers to an election process instead of an appointment process to determine the head of the European Commission.

63% of Europeans want the commission president determined by vote. Those in power still support the behind closed doors process for obvious reasons.

Orbán’s mission

Orbán’s mission is to weaken the EU from within. Italy has the same mission, for different reasons, as does President Trump.

EU Splintering

Two days ago I reported a Commerce Study Deems “European Cars a Threat to US National Security”. That’s nonsensical, of course. But Trump’s mission is easy to spot. He is doing his best to bust up the EU.

And now Trump has a lot of help on the inside: Marine Le Pen in France, Victor Orbán in Hungary, and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

I response to Trump, I noted, EU Pokes Trump Again, This Time Over Huawei’ s 5G Technology.

In the UK, Seven UK MPs Split from Labour Party Over Brexit. More MPs joined that parade today.

The splintering of the EU continues with escalating infighting at unprecedented levels.

It is illogical for the UK to want to part of this mess. Yet, the UK Remainers want to stay in.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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Is Venezuela On The Verge Of Becoming Another Syria?

It should not be considered a coincidence that the situation with Venezuela is being accelerated at the same time as tensions between the US , China and Russia are hitting a crescendo.

The Duran

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Via AltMarket:


Establishment elites have always had a predilection for regime change. Obviously, this strategy helps weed out nation states that might be uncooperative with their future plans for a fully centralized global economic and political order. We have also seen regime change occur when former puppet leaders go rogue and refuse to follow the script they have been given. Most of these men have acted as dictators and are not very empathetic public figures, so we rarely care when they get overthrown or murdered. That said, there are always wider implications to such events.

I believe the reasons for regime change and the destabilization of particular countries have evolved in recent years. In the past it was about bringing each countries under the new world order umbrella. Today, the goal seems to be an attempt to create points of global contention. That is to say, the elites want to draw much of the world into various forms of conflict, and they are using special regions of the globe as nexus points for these conflicts.

Syria was and still is one of those nexus points. The transmutation of Syria began as an extension of the Arab Spring. Western funded and organized coups in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt inspired even more extremism as well as a vast flow of black market military grade armaments. The CIA under the Obama Administration in particular took advantage of this chaos to fill training camps in Jordan with “moderate rebels”, the same rebels that would go on to launch ISIS and start a civil war in Syria.

While the billion dollar program to arm and supply Syrian rebel groups, many of which were closely tied to ISIS, was finally “officially ended” under the Trump administration in 2017, more covert US support continued for these groups as well support for Israeli incursions into sovereign Syrian air space.

Syria has had the potential to draw multiple nations into close and hostile proximity with each other, including the US, Russia, Israel and Iran. This was not a mistake, it was entirely deliberate.

I warned of the potential exploitation of Syria as a global point of contention for years before the actual insurgency took place because of the unique military alliances in the region. The only reason Syria has not yet been exploited to its full potential is because of the effective exposure of the conspiracy by the alternative media. The establishment push to use American troops to help ISIS extremists overthrow Bashar al-Assad presidency was thwarted. The mainstream media originally portrayed ISIS groups as courageous clean cut rebels fighting for freedom. This ended after the alternative media flooded the web with evidence of rebel led genocide and atrocities.

Had the American public and American troops been tricked into even deeper involvement in Syria as well as helping ISIS overthrow Assad, this could have potentially pushed us into direct confrontation with either Russia or Iran or both. We would be seen as the villains, supporting monsters as they commit war crimes in the name of an ideology many Americans despise.

Those unfamiliar with the concept of the False East/West Paradigm will probably be at a loss as to why the establishment would WANT to deliberately undermine America’s geopolitical or economic position. Once they understand that both China and Russia maintain close ties to the globalist framework, and that they represent false opposition to the “new world order”, the reality of the situation becomes more clear.

I recommend my article ‘In The New “Multipolar World” The Globalists Still Control All The Players’ for facts and evidence on this dynamic. The engineered destabilization of the US and parts of Europe and the rise of the East is intended to cause the removal of the current economic model of sovereign nations and currencies led by the US dollar as the world reserve. This would leave quite a void in the global economic structure, a void which the elites plan to fill with a new centralized one world currency system.

This system, to be managed by the IMF, has been openly supported by both the Chinese and Russian governments. The delusion that the East is somehow opposed to the NWO melts away when we examine their long time alliances to the banking cabal, as well as the IMF programs the East now champions. But how do the elites plan to get the masses to go along with such a historic and painful shift in global economic architecture?

In my view, the confrontations in regions of confluence like Syria are intended to lead to World War; not in the form of a nuclear war, but in the form of a full spectrum economic war and smaller regional wars. There is another nation beyond Syria that I have also been warning about for many years as a potential nexus, or what the elites might call a “linchpin”. That region is Venezuela.

In my article ‘How A Collapse In Venezuela Could Trigger Martial Law In the US’, published in May of 2016, I outlined how the socialist structure of Venezuela in particular was so unstable that the slightest push could cause the entire country to topple. Venezuela did indeed crash economically to the point that martial law is the only mainstay holding the system together.

I have also warned that a collapse in Venezuela could spread into surrounding countries, already weakened by fiscal uncertainty and debt. Such a collapse in South America rather strangely matches the scenario described in Operation Garden Plot and Rex 84, a secret Pentagon plan exposed during the Iran/Contra affair which would use mass migrations from South or Central America as a rationale to enforce martial law measures within the United States.

In recent months, however, the Trump Administration has added a new dimension to the problem. Expanding sanctions against Venezuela are adding fire to the flames of economic collapse. With an even more aggressive stance against Nicolas Madruro including possible military action, the prospect of a direct US led coup is now on the table.

One would think that if the US government wanted a breakdown in Venezuela, all they would have to do is sit back and wait as the socialist nation imploded under it’s own faulty economic policies. But apparently the country was not collapsing fast enough for the elites. My theory – the goal is to create another Syria, but this time much closer to US borders.

Venezuela has close ties to not only Russia, but also China. Venezuela’s military ties to Russia are well known. Their military is supplied to this day by Russia, and Russia has been very vocal in their opposition to any US military involvement in the region.

Both China and Russia continue to support Nicolas Madruro as the president of Venezuela in the face of opposition from assembly leader Juan Guaido. The US and a number of European nations support Guaido. The question is, how far will a confrontation in Venezuela go?

US involvement in South and Central America does not paint a pretty picture. Reagan era coups in countries like El Salvador in the name of stopping communism created not only civil war, but also the installation of more violent dictators and regimes (look up the White Hand death squads in El Salvador for the ugly details). Not coincidentally, we also saw the use of death squads and extremists in the destabilization of Syria.

I find it interesting that extreme leftists like Ilhan Omar are suddenly interested in exposing the underhanded nature of such tactics. They remain decidedly quiet on the same kind of subversion in Syria, and aggressively push for a continued American presence there. My suspicion is that this might be an establishment attempt to gain conservative support for a US led coup in Venezuela. Whatever their leftist puppets attack, we are supposed to defend, right?

But in this case, the Trump Administration is just as insidious as the leftists in its activities, and support for such a coup would be an affront to true conservative principles.

It should be noted that the arming and training of insurgents in Syria started out undercover. At the time it was labeled “humanitarian aid”. In Venezuela, the US is once again offering “aid” to the people of Venezuela and the opposition party, backed by a US military aircraft. The establishment is not generally very creative in their tactics; they simply use the same methods over and over again because historically they succeed more than they fail.

If this dynamic happens again in Venezuela, I predict immediate and aggressive economic response from Russia and China, including yet another excuse for China to dump its US Treasury Bond holdings and dollar reserves, effectively killing the dollar’s world reserve status. The US would be hit the hardest by this reset, and with the Trump Administration driven by globalist warmongers like John Bolton, there would be little sympathy from the rest of the world when the consequences land on our doorstep.

It should not be considered a coincidence that the situation with Venezuela is being accelerated at the same time as tensions between the US , China and Russia are hitting a crescendo. Add yet another regional conflict similar to Syria on top of the trade war, and the potential for a financial “World War III” is high. If allowed to play out uninterrupted, such an event provides even more cover for the “global reset” and the shift to a one world economic model.  Not only this, but a collapse epidemic in South America could lead to vast migrant caravans swarming to the southern US border far beyond what we have already seen.  As Operation Garden Plot outlines, this would inevitably be used as a rationale for martial law measures.

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Why Autocrats Are Replacing Democrats

High among the reasons Trump was elected was that, for all his flaws and failings, he was seen as a doer, a man who “gets things done.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


“If you look at Trump in America or Bolsonaro in Brazil, you see that people now want politicians who are tough enough to do what they promise,” said Spanish businessman Juan Carlos Perez Carreno.

The Spaniard was explaining to The New York Times what lay behind the rise of Vox, which the Times calls “Spain’s first far-right party since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.”

Indeed, the growing impatience of peoples with elected leaders and legislators who cannot or will not act decisively explains two realities of our time: the eclipse of Congress and the rise of autocracy worldwide.

In condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency and use Pentagon funds to build his wall, Beltway elites have charged the president with a multitude of sins against the Constitution.

He has usurped the “power of the purse” that the Founding Fathers invested in Congress. He has disregarded the “checks and balances” of Madisonian democracy. He is acting like an imperial president.

Yet the decline of Congress is not a recent phenomenon. And the principal collaborator in its fall from grace, from being “the first branch of government” to the least esteemed, has been Congress itself, its own timidity and cowardice.

Contrast, if you will, the now-inveterate torpor and inaction of Congress with how presidents, declared by historians to be great or near great, have acted.

Thomas Jefferson seized upon Napoleon’s sudden offer to sell the vast Louisiana territory for $15 million in an act of dubious constitutionality by Jefferson’s own judgment. History has validated his decision.

Andrew Jackson — “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” — shoved aside a Supreme Court ruling denying him the right to transfer the Indians of Florida to the middle of the country.

Abraham Lincoln arrested Maryland legislators to prevent a secessionist-minded legislature from meeting, violated the habeas corpus rights of thousands, ordered Chief Justice Roger Taney arrested, shut down newspapers, and, in January 1863, declared free all the slaves of every state still in rebellion against the Union.

“I took Panama!” said Theodore Roosevelt, whose agents helped rebels shear off the province from Colombia to build his canal.

FDR ordered some 110,000 Japanese, 75,000 of them U.S. citizens, into detention camps in 1942 for the duration of the war.

Without authorization from Congress, Harry Truman ordered U.S. troops into South Korea in 1950 to resist the invasion by North Korea, calling it a police action.

Though a Republican House voted against attacking Serbia in 1998, Bill Clinton continued his 78-day bombing campaign until Belgrade yielded up its cradle province of Kosovo.

Yet while presidents have acted decisively, without congressional authorization and sometimes unconstitutionally, Congress has failed to defend, and even surrendered, its legitimate constitutional powers.

Congress’s authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” has been largely ceded to the executive branch, with Congress agreeing to confine itself to a “yeah” or “nay” vote on whatever trade treaty the White House negotiates and sends to the Hill.

Congress’s authority to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” was long ago transferred to the Federal Reserve.

Congress’s power to declare war has been ignored by presidents since Truman. Authorizations for the use of military force have replaced declarations of war, with presidents deciding how broadly they may be interpreted.

In declaring the national emergency Friday, Trump rested his case on authority given the president by Congress in the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

The Supreme Court has usurped Congress’ powers with impunity.

While the civil rights acts of the 1960s were enacted by Congress, the desegregation of America’s public schools was simply ordered by the Warren Court in 1954.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Congress sat indolent as busing for racial balance was imposed on countless school districts by federal judges.

As the Supreme Court, for decades, exploited the establishment clause of the First Amendment to de-Christianize all public schools and public places, Congress did nothing. A triumphant court then moved on to declare abortion and same-sex marriage constitutional rights.

Yet Congress had the latent power, in Article III, Section 2, to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and every other federal court. But the big stick the founders left for Congress to corral a runaway Supreme Court was never picked up, never used.

High among the reasons Trump was elected was that, for all his flaws and failings, he was seen as a doer, a man who “gets things done.”

And high among the reasons that autocrats are on the rise is that the centrist parties being shoved aside are perceived as having failed the people in their most basic demands — fewer migrants, more secure borders, preservation of national identity, putting their own people and their country own first.

Whatever may be said of the autocrats, be it Trump, Putin or Xi Jinping, they are not talkers but doers. They act.

And they may very well own the future.

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