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Russian presidential candidates release first official videos to woo voters ahead of March 18th ballot

The candidates’ platforms range from the strength and stability of the nation to radical changes in people’s lives

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This article originally appeared at RT

Campaign videos for Russian presidential candidates have started running on TV and the internet. Voters are variously promised things ranging from the strength and stability of the nation to radical changes in their lives.

Candidate Sergey Baburin of the All-Russian People’s Union political party emphasizes his Russian ethnicity and prioritizes family values. “The Russian choice is to love children, respect the family and help the elderly,” he says in one video. “A Russian is someone who is accepted by Russians,” he states in another. Baburin’s election slogan “A Russian choice for Russia” is also an attempt to sway the ethnically-conscious voters; ethnic Russians make up about 80 percent of the Russian Federation’s population.

Baburin started his career in Soviet times and is backed by the All-Russian People’s Union party. The party describes itself as nationalist conservative, and Baburin’s program is built around economic protectionism and strong social support, as well as constitutional reform seeking to shift from a presidential to a parliamentary republic.

Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin claims in his video that the Lenin State Farm agricultural enterprise he ran before pursuing his political career is “an island of socialism in modern Russia.” The video overlays beautiful views of residential buildings with claims of high salaries, free healthcare, interest-free credits and other benefits for workers. Grudinin himself appears in the video next to Vladimir Lenin’s monument and promises to rebuild the country using his company as a model. The video concludes with the slogan “Pavel Grudinin — the president that Russia is waiting for.”

Grudinin is not a member of the Communist Party that backs his candidacy, but he has previously stated that “it is not important what party certificate you hold, what is important is how you see yourself.

The head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, used his videos to emphasize the existing problems faced by the nation, such as poverty, inflation and the general “humilitation of the people.” The political veteran then makes a personal appearance, promising to freeze consumer prices for “important foodstuffs” and completely eliminate poverty, hunger and unemployment. In other videos Zhirinovsky says he would change the system of school exams, as well as both repairing the aging housing stock and building new homes. “Let’s make a powerful leap forward together” is the slogan for the Liberal Democrats.

While the Vladimir Putin campaign video running on the first day does not show his face or mention his name, it runs one of the incumbent’s speeches in the background while showing images of various noticeable buildings and structures erected in the country in recent years. These include the city stadium in Kazan or the major bridge connecting the city of Vladivostok with the island of Russky. The slogan reads “Strong president — strong Russia.” Another video does briefly show the incumbent, but quickly switches to images of monuments and beautiful landscapes with narrative saying that “a strong president” would ensure protection and support for all strata of the population, as well as generally successful development of the country. Previously, Putin has officially refused to participate in televised election debates.

Campaign videos promoting TV host and magazine editor Ksenia Sobchak put the emphasis on the candidate’s personal appearance at rallies and public events. Sobchak claims that “there is no such thing as state interests; there are only people’s interests” and then recites a list of “traditional values,” from abstract “freedom” to an “independent court system” that are supposed to help the nation reach peace and prosperity.

Sobchak is running as a Civil Initiative party candidate, but presents herself as a “none of the above” candidate. Her stated objective is to give voters who cannot choose from any of the current contenders the opportunity to express their feelings and political position.

Maksim Suraikin, who is running on the ticket of his own political party “Communists of Russia,” does so in his trademark style of mimicking Soviet-era propaganda bordering on satire. In the video Suraikin describes himself as a Stalinist and promotes his program of “10 Stalinist blows to capitalism,” with plans of major nationalization, restoration of the USSR and openly populist promises, like an increased minimum wage and a ban on raising the retirement age. The narrator also describes Suraikin as “Comrade Maksim… a president of the poor against the rich” while the main campaign slogan reads “against capitalism, for socialism and the power of the Soviets.”

Russian business ombudsman and head of the Party of Growth Boris Titov has probably the simplest video of all — text on a reddish background states existing problems like unemployment and poverty and claims that “the authorities think that they are doing everything right.” Then the video shows the slogan “And what about Titov?” that is also read out by the narrator.  No promises are made in the video.

The presidential program published on Titov’s web-site is based on the plan to send groups of effective managers to target destinations who would gradually reform the economy. The first such group would be an ‘Administration of Growth’ set up to develop a detailed program for economic reforms and later oversee its implementation.

A video promoting Grigory Yavlinsky of the liberal party Yabloko features an animated short wherein the candidate meets a stereotypical ordinary person who faces various problems — from registering copyright to attempts to combat corruption — and turns to the politician for possible ways of solving them. In a different video Yavlinsky silently sits in a chair in a dark room and holds up signs saying that those who are happy with the crisis can stay home on election day but those who want a better life should come out and vote.

Yavlinsky’s election program is built around the promise to grant every Russian citizen a free one-acre parcel of land on which to build a home. At the same time, in press interviews Yavlinsky has emphasized that his major objective is not to win the elections, but to influence the current Russian authorities by showing them that the support for liberal ideas in the society can be substantial.

Russian law mandates that all registered presidential candidates and the political parties that back them have to receive equal air time on federal TV and radio. Last week, head of the Central Elections Commission Ella Pamfilova said that in practice this could mean that party candidates have an advantage over the independent ones because they will be promoted both in their own ads and those of their parties.

The only candidate running as an independent is Vladimir Putin, and neither the incumbent nor his representatives have so far protested this situation. Baburin’s All-Russian People’s Union and Suraikin’s Communists of Russia parties chose not to apply for free air time. In addition, Vladimir Putin has refused to participate in “joint promotional events on federal TV channels” — the official name for election debates.

The current stage of campaigning will last until March 16, with March 17 being the official “day of silence” when all electioneering is forbidden. The vote is scheduled for March 18.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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