Abby Martin is a feisty liberal progressive and often she and the Mendeleyev Journal are on very different sides of an issue. Abby is tough as nails and yet we believe she tries to be fair and one should respect that, even in disagreement. Her comments on the Russian invasion however have ruffled a lot of feathers in Russia.
Here is what she said to cause all the uproar:
After that you can expect the smear campaigns to begin cranking up very quickly to give the impression that she is a nutcase who shouldn’t be taken seriously. Par for the course.
The Kremlin was none to happy about her comments and that prompted RT management to quickly released a statement that they were sending her to Crimea so that she could get a better view of the story on the ground (re-education lives on).
But no, Abby isn’t going as she informed them just as promptly. Here is her response on-air:
Against the backdrop of a successful Olympics, one bloated with corruption, Russian President Vladimir Putin is fighting for his existence. The protests in Kyiv were the spoiler and had that situation not spiraled out of control, Mr. Putin would be sitting back and enjoying the accolades of the world community. The vastly over-priced Olympics allowed him to further line the pockets of his most loyal oligarchs, a move to keep their loyalties firmly in place.
The pro-democracy events in Ukraine put a huge damper on an otherwise successful public event on the world stage. An article in Back Channels sums it up perfectly by saying, “The Bear regards the old system of buffers as its own…(and)… Ukraine is also a borderland naturally spanning a cultural divide between Europe and Eurasia, between the politics of the now open democracies and their common currency and shared values and a stalwart attempting to build some kind of new Slavic society out of the 19th Century manners of aristocracy….”
David Satter in the Daily Beast further explains that “Russia and Ukraine under Yanukovych shared a single form of government – rule by a criminal oligarchy. This is why the anti-criminal revolution that overthrew Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych is a precedent that is perfectly applicable to Putin’s Russia. It is also the reason why, from the Russian regime’s point of view, the Ukrainian revolution must be stopped at all costs.”
On Monday Mr. Putin arrived at the Kirillovsky Military Testing grounds in the Leningrad region, home to forces of the Western and Central Military districts where he watched military training maneuvers along with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidorov and Head of General Staff Combat Training Directorate Ivan Buvaltsev.
Writing in the Guardian Masha Gessen asserts that, “It’s unlikely that what’s happening in Ukraine will foment a new protest movement in Russia: the ongoing crackdown on civil society makes the cost of protest too high. Still, the Crimean invasion is a landmark in Russian domestic politics.”
For Vladimir Putin the stakes are high, for if he fails in Ukraine he will eventually fail at home.
Is US President Obama always sleeping? In a scenario right out of the Benghazi playbook, once again Mr. Obama’s security team has met in a crisis without him. The White House says that his schedule was clear but the only officials attending were Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, and CIA Director John Brennan.
Vice President Joe Biden eventually joined the meeting via video conference but Mr. Obama was AWOL. Mr. Biden has complained lately that the administration only gives him “shit jobs” and we’re sincerely hoping that he doesn’t classify this situation as one of those.
The US president eventually surfaced and was briefed by National Security Advisor Susan Rice prior to his telephone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During the conversation Mr. Putin told the American president that he considered the interim government in Kyiv to be provocative, criminal, and a danger to Russian citizens living in Ukraine.
Speaking in some of his strongest terms yet, Mr. Obama insisted that the Russian actions constitute a “clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act.”
Mr. Putin argued that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas. Mr. Obama informed Mr. Putin that the USA would immediately step out of the preparations phase for the upcoming G8 Summit in Sochi.
Later in the evening President Putin took calls from President of France Francois Hollande and then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Putin told Secretary-General Ki-moon that any cases of violence against the Russian-speaking population of the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea would lead Russia to take whatever measures are necessary to protect Russian citizens.
One theme through the telephone calls was Mr. Putin’s repeated references to Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. As to whether that is a deliberate signal that he intends to eventually take full possession of those regions is unclear as of yet.
Hardly a surprise, but whether this is a real invasion or something else, Russia is sending special forces, landing paratroopers and blockading roads and airports in the Crimea region of Ukraine.
In recent days the regional Crimean government has been sacked and replaced with a new and unelected government, including regional Prime Minister who holds only Russian citizenship.
If current events do signal an invasion it is likely that the Kremlin will use the excuse that the new Crimean government needed protection from so-called radicals coming down from Kyiv, but in the end the scenario will probably be a repeat of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the war with Georgia in 2008.
We should note that by treaty the Russian military presence in Crimea is limited to three helicopters in the air simultaneously without permission from Kyiv. The Kremlin refuses to acknowledge the new government and thus claims there is no one to ask permission during the crisis.
Access to the Simferopol and Sevastopol airports had been blocked after a group of Crimean Tatars battled Crimean self defense units yesterday.
Today new troops arrived and airport security officials in Sevastopol said that Crimean police did not know the identity of those who took control of the airport other than it was a group of fluent Russian speaking and heavily armed men who told airport security officials to go home and not return until asked.
Interfax News reported that the troops arrived at the airport in KAMAZ (Russian military vehicles) without license plates and no markings.
Civilian and commercial air traffic in and around Crimea has been curtailed. Aeroflot has announced the temporary suspension of service as have Ukrainian airlines.
Meanwhile in Moscow the Russian Duma (parliament) is reportedly working overtime on a bill to re-word the law allowing a territory to enter into the Russian Federation. Current Russian law stipulates that a territory must seek permission of both its current state and appeal to the Russian Federation. Only after the country in which the territory is located agrees to the transfer can Russia accept a new member of the Federation.
Sources say that the new bill being drafted would allow the President of Russia to receive a foreign territory, regardless of agreement from another country, if that territory has carried out a referendum of the territory’s citizens or if its council of ministers has voted on the request to Russia. Russia says this is necessary because there is currently no legitimate government in Ukraine.
Is Mr. Putin throwing Viktor Yanukovich under the bus? The two have never gotten along that well anyway and given the language of the new bill being drafted in parliament we’d expect Mr Putin to continue to hold ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich at a distance until Crimea is securely in Russian hands. Yanukovich has repeatedly voiced his refusal to allow Crimea to leave the Ukrainian state.
Local media are reporting that phone and internet connections between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine has been cut. Crimean communications utility Ukrtelecom is reportedly under the control of either the new pro-Russian government or Russian special forces.
Citizens of the area were to have voted in March on removal of Lenin statues which are objected to by ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars. However the new pro-Russian government has postponed that poll with no date set for voting.
The annual rent that Russia currently pays Ukraine for the Black Sea naval base is $100 million dollars annually.
Several Russian news agencies are reporting that impeached Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich might be in Russia and will soon hold a news conference in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
Reports from three news agencies say that Russia granted his request for security from “extremists.” One report linked him to the Hotel Ukraina in Moscow. Hotel Ukraina director Dmitry Yelizarov, told Interfax news agency that Yanukovych had not stayed at the hotel recently however the AP is reporting unusually high security around and inside the hotel although some sources told Interfax that he had been relocated to a health sanitarium outside Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office denies any information on whether Yanukovich is inside Russia.
Yanukovich is wanted by Ukrainian investigators for allegedly giving orders for security forces to fire upon civilian protesters, an action forbidden by the Ukrainian constitution.
In the south of Ukraine the newly formed government of Crimea say that they’ve been promised financial support from Russia.
There have been whispers that the screws will tighten on any opposition groups in Russia after the Olympics and some say that it may have quietly started.
TV Rain, the only independent television network remaining, was just filed with an investigative intent over its recent coverage of the anniversary of the liberation of Leningrad. “Rain” did a fine job on the coverage but the Kremlin is apparently angered about a poll they ran at the end. The poll simply asked if Leningrad leaders had made the right decision to refuse to surrender or at some point should they have surrendered in order to stop the starvation and suffering?
In reality the order to hold the city at all costs came from Stalin, not the local city leadership. While such a poll would seem fairly innocent in the West, people could express their opinion and as observers in hindsight most will have an opinion one way or the other, but that was too much for the censors to fathom. Two large cable systems loosely affiliated with the Kremlin have just dropped Rain programming and that cuts their audience size substantially.
A couple more cuts like those and Rain simply won’t have an audience base. You can view some programming online: http://tvrain.ru/
TV Rain is not the only media outlet running a poll on the Leningrad siege; the government controlled Russia Beyond the Headlines is continuing a similar poll on Leningrad.
Alexei Navalny was arrested yesterday morning outside Zamoskvoretsky Court in Moscow on charges for his role in leading past opposition protests, including the case regarding an opposition meeting on Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. New Russian laws hold opposition leaders accountable if the meetings involve violence against other persons and/or police (Article 318).
Four of the initial twelve charged in regards to the Bolotnaya case were released under the amnesty law prior to the Olympics. The remaining eight defendants were sentenced to jail time as follows:
- Alexandra Naumova, suspended sentence of 3 years and 3 months.
- Andrei Barabanov, 3 years and 7 months.
- Sergei Krivov, 4 years.
- Yaroslav Belousov, 2 years and 6 months.
- Artem Savelov, 2 years and 7 months.
- Stepan Zimin, Denis Lutskevich and Alexander Polikhovich each will serve 3 years and 6 months.
A large crowd waited for the verdict and Moscow police say they detained approximately 200 citizens for holding a public meeting without a permit.
Later in the day investigators opened new criminal charges under Article 212 and Article 318 against Navalny. Article 212 allows Russian authorities to press charges to anyone who promotes and advertises mass protest meetings.