Russian News

This is a compilation of Russian news you might not have heard. There’s a lot going on in Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s popularity is flagging, so much so that his United Russia Party had to resort to shady dealings in recent elections in Russia’s Far East. The retirement age for pensions has been raised, and people are not happy. They’ve just mounted a big military exercise, but probably not as big as they claim. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church will probably split organizationally from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Paul Goble worked in the State Department during the breakup of the Soviet Union. He retired some time ago and has taught in universities in Estonia. He speaks Russian and Estonian. He maintains a blog, Window on Eurasia, where he summarizes news and opinion from Russia and its neighbors in English. I’ll draw on his posts and a few other sources to note recent developments in Russia. This is far from exhaustive, and probably not even indicative of larger trends. Just things that are happening.

Quick tl;dr for those who don’t want to look through this whole long post. It looks like the events most likely to persist and potentially cause trouble for Putin are dissatisfaction because of the pension changes and the border changes in the North Caucasus. The other issues, like the continuing annoyance to people whose native languages are not Russian of Moscow’s emphasis on Russian in the schools. That was a continuing annoyance in the Soviet Union and contributed to its breakup. Tie that to other upsets, and larger disturbances could result.

Putin’s declining popularity could convince him that he needs to ramp up his foreign involvements, although this prediction has been out there for a year or more, with no significant ramping up of military action.

Russia is a big country, with a wide variety of people. It’s not surprising to find various types of conflict. Sanctions are hurting a vulnerable economy. It looks like Russia will continue pretty much as it has, barring extraordinary events.

 

Polling

With the caveat that public opinion polls are less reliable in Russia than the US –

In a poll by the independent Levada Centre, 39% of Russians listed Putin as a politican they trust. That is a 20% decrease from November 2017, when Putin was named by 59% of Russians, according to the same polling agency. Also this month, 45% of Russians told FOM (Public Opinion Foundation), a polling agency close to the Kremlin, they would vote for Putin if elections were held this Sunday. That rating was down from 67% at the beginning of the year. (more at The Guardian)

 

In one poll, respondents were asked “In your opinion, have there been more successes or failures in the foreign policy of Russia recently?” Just over half – 52 percent – said there were more successes than failures, a figure down from 64 percent at the start of 2017.  Almost a quarter – 23 percent – give the opposite answer, up from 15 percent 20 months ago.

Respondents to a new Levada Center poll say that they view the Internet as providing more objective news than Russian television does on the issue of pension reform, the lifestyles of politicians, the state of the economy, protest actions and foreign policy. This decline in public trust in television parallels the decline in trust in Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials. Indeed, the decline in trust in the one case promotes the decline in the other, and each may thus reinforce the other, with more declines ahead for both if nothing radically changes.

 

Demonstrations, Opposition, Elections

In late August, a group of Russians at the Petrovsky Zavod station in the Transbaikal attacked a group of Russian soldiers who, after firing warning shots into the air, shot directly into the crowd killing one and injuring several others. According to the Novosti news service, there had been a fight between soldiers and local people in a bar during which the civilians had attacked the soldiers with knives. The service reported that the local man who was later killed by the soldiers was a convicted criminal. It did not specify whether all the others involved were.

A report by a Russian human rights organization says that violence by the authorities against protesters is becoming the norm.

In September elections, three of the four regions where United Russia candidates for governor failed to win outright in the first round were east of the Ural Mountains. Moreover, the ruling party lost numerous mayoral posts as well as a guaranteed majority in many of the regional assemblies. People in the regions feel that Moscow is doing nothing for them despite a rhetorical “turn to the East.” Part of the dissatisfaction is with the raising of the pension age. The numbers of voters have increased in the second-round voting, apparently to protest Moscow’s policies. Bloomberg has more.

There are small moves toward establishing a Social Democratic political party

Russia has its very own ethnonationalist gun-humpers. Blowback from cozying up to the NRA? Russian officials are confiscating the weapons that northern indigenous peoples need for their hunting and fishing economy.

To deal with dissatisfaction with the raising of the pension age, the Kremlin is turning to disinformation.

 

Economy

Global warming will open up the Northern Sea Route around Russia, but Russia won’t have the infrastructure in place to support shipping that way for another decade. This is not extraordinary – developing ports takes time.

Most of the Russian money for the Chernobyl cleanup is being misused. Among major countries with developing economies, such as Brazil, China, and India, Russia has the greatest inequalities among its regions. Global warming is melting the permafrost in the country’s Arctic regions and putting key infrastructure there, including buildings, military facilities, roads, and oil and gas pipelines. Racism against non-Slavs is flourishing in the Moscow apartment rental market.

The Defense Minister, Sergei Shoygu, has suggested “something like” a new Russian capital east of the Urals. This would, of course, have to have been okayed by Putin.

For a year now, anonymous bomb threats have been causing evacuations of railway stations, shopping malls, and other public places across Russia. People are beginning to think that the FSB may be behind at least some of them. Over a million people have been evacuated.

 

Russian Military

Independent military analyst Alexander Golts says that the numbers of troops involved in Russia’s recent Vostok 2018 military exercise are much smaller than advertised. Here’s an explainer for Vostok 2018. Moscow included troops from China and Mongolia, but not from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has been wary of Russia because of its ethnic Russian population and has not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Beijing commentators are playing down the exercise, saying that Russia is using tactics of 37 years ago.

 

Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Partiarchate of Constantinople, the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, has moved toward granting autonomy to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This is a serious blow to Vladimir Putin, who has linked his government closely to the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Church has been subordinate to the Russian Church. In mid-September, the Russian Church broke with Constantinople on participating in its structures. There is concern that Moscow will orchestrate physical attacks against Ukrainian churchmen. Here’s more detail and a pop music analogy.

 

Belarus

Belarus is a dictatorship in the mode of Russia and is often regarded as a mini-Russia. But its leader, Alexander Lukashenka, is extremely wary of Moscow and has taken steps to insulate himself and his country from Moscow. One of those moves was to refuse to host a Russian military air base. That argument continues. Recently, Lukashenka has tempered his remarks toward being more pro-Russian. An independent television channel has begun operation in Belarus. Will Constantinople grant autonomy to the Belarusian Orthodox Church?

 

North Caucasus

The North Caucasus includes Chechnya, which has tried to break away to form an independent country in the past. The situation there has stabilized, with Ramzan Kadryov in charge and (so far) loyal to Putin. But there are still stresses. The region is poor, and gas and food prices are rising. Kadyrov and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the leader of Ingushetia, have agreed on border changes. The changes give Chechnya control of areas that contain oil deposits. Protests against the changes are ramping up in Ingushetia. The first president of Ingushetia has come out in favor of the protests. Support is broad, and Amnesty International has issued a statement against using force against the protesters.

 

Languages

Social media in non-Russian languages are becoming more popular than the official television channels, according to a study done in Tatarstan. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov is urging parents to choose Tatar as the primary language of their children’s instruction. Moscow has been pushing for Russian.

 

The top photo is mine, taken at a farm on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal.

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.






63 replies
  1. 1
    Jerzy Russian says:

    This isn’t the type of Russia news I was expecting.

    The photo does not show up for me. I see it in the side tab from the previous post, and it is also in Cole’s Twitter feed at the moment.

  2. 2
    sukabi says:

    No photo for me either.

  3. 3

    Good point about the photo. I will contact Alain about it. We are doing “featured photos” a little differently than we did before. I’ll do what I think will be a quick fix. I love that photo.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Better now?

    Yes, thanks.

  6. 6
    Chris Johnson says:

    Yup. That’s all very plausible, makes perfect sense.

    I’ve been saying that Russia is now out-capitalisting us, or at least out-oligarching us (something of an exaggeration, but they too are true believers) and this totally confirms that opinion. And it’s no more popular there than it is here, and maybe that’s our biggest hidden advantage.

    The thing is, what with climate change and mass migrations, the only options that remain are burning up a bunch of the capital to rescue and care for and help people (of all colors, genders etc) or to prepare for the mass KILLING of the huge numbers of people who’re increasingly falling through the cracks.

    That goes for migrants, but it also goes for our own coal miners etc: the whole litany of people whose jobs have been shipped to China or simply disappeared. The whole hidden population dependent on things like fake Social Security Disability: a massive and begrudged safety net keeping people in abject poverty and trying to prey on their helplessness, lack of education. Workers, in an era where work is unnecessary because capital begets more capital pretty much directly.

    You can’t both keep the oligarchy getting ever-richer, and sustain those dependent people, even in abject poverty. Sooner or later you have to either grab the money away from the rich and return to a time when capital was more fluid and had more velocity and could be worked for… a time where you could have customers because they weren’t sucked dry… or you gotta exterminate those people.

    Either by natural disaster and quietly whistling while you watch them die (or become even more precariously desperate, and do nothing), or you literally come up with a reason to kill them all.

    Putin faces this problem every bit as much as Trump does. The trick is, if the populace works out that you’re ready to literally kill them all (especially directly, but the Republicans got GREAT mileage out of claiming that the Democrats meant to intentionally starve all the Midwest to death) then the populace turns against you. Once it’s clear that’s what you’re doing, legitimacy is totally gone.

    Both Putin, and Trump, need to direct all the capital ever to their elites and oligarchies, in order to keep power (see CGP Grey’s ‘Rules For Rulers’). They are quickly running out of ways to conceal their need to kill off a hell of a lot of their rabble and peasants.

    This is an opportunity.

  7. 7
    zhena gogolia says:

    Beautiful picture. A friend and I were just talking this morning about what a shame it is that Russia has this terrible image in this country, when it’s full of normal, decent people who are not enamored of Putin and might even be recognizable as jackals if you got to know them. But Putin represents them all to the world, just as shitgibbon does us.

  8. 8
    sukabi says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: yes. Nice pic😊

  9. 9
    Millard Filmore says:

    The front page says 7 comments. This page says zero comments.

    [NOW I see the comments.]

  10. 10
    germy says:

    Victoria Marinova's last Bulgarian TV newscast was an in-depth interview on fraud involving European Union funds. The journalist's body—beaten, raped and strangled—was found six days later. https://t.co/atkESwZQAH @pressfreedom @RSF_en @jrezaian @hrw h/t @MiriamElder pic.twitter.com/5B3REf5K7B
    — David Beard (@dabeard) October 7, 2018

  11. 11
    kindness says:

    Putin and his oligarch buds are trying to digest what they’ve swallowed. It isn’t going well. No doubt they are spending their energy on holding what they have rather than future stuff. Just like Trump. Who is the student, who is the master? Don’t answer that. Putin isn’t stupid, where as Trump….

  12. 12

    […] Cross-posted to Balloon Juice. […]

  13. 13
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @zhena gogolia: Stalin didn’t help the reputation much either

  14. 14
    Chris Johnson says:

    @kindness: I think he’s spent too many resources over here.

    Too many hackers and social media folks deeply involved in US affairs where they could have been doing the same thing in Russian territories and looking after his interests at home.

    There’s only so many hours in a day. Even if your people are really good at manipulating things, if they’re working in the USA you’re missing out on using their services within Russia. I think that’s a miscalculation, or it shows how overextended Putin is here.

  15. 15

    @Steve in the ATL: And don’t forget the various Czars. Putin is just the latest in a string of horrible rulers Russia has had.

  16. 16
  17. 17

    @Steve in the ATL: And don’t forget the Czars. Putin is just the latest in a long line of terrible Russian leaders.

  18. 18
    sdhays says:

    Regarding climate change – I remember a few months ago (I think) where Putin was interviewed about global warming and he said, basically, “it’s all good, it’s going to give us a bunch of land that we can grow stuff on”. It was beyond stupid. From what I’ve read, the melting of the permafrost is going to make much of Siberia even more difficult to deal with than it is now.

    What will Russia do if some its major oil pipelines collapse and become treacherous to repair? Oil is basically the only thing holding their economy up.

  19. 19

    @kindness:

    Putin and his oligarch buds are trying to digest what they’ve swallowed.

    I think it’s less about trying to digest what they’ve swallowed than trying to deal with what they’ve inherited. The old Russian empire was, as its name says, a multi-ethnic empire that never dealt very well with most of its ethnic minorities. The USSR inherited that, didn’t do much better, and bequeathed the same problems to the new Russia. Instead of trying to deal with his ethnic problems, Putin is actively making them worse, both by continuing to oppress the minorities already in his empire and by trying to expand back to the historic limits of what Russia used to be, which would incorporate even more unhappy minorities.

    Oh, yeah, and the USSR collapsed because its economy sucked, and being run by a bunch of mobsters hasn’t done it any favors since. They’ve been propped up by high oil and gas prices, but we all know how precarious that can be.

  20. 20
    lamh36 says:

    testing

  21. 21
    lamh36 says:

    @lamh36: dang…no spoiler tags on here?

  22. 22
    Steve in the ATL says:

    Where is everyone tonight? Thought there would be a bigger crowd since the baseball season ended.

  23. 23
    Jay says:

    I continually find myself surprised at how mediocre minds wind up in National Leaders heads.

    The North East Passage was never going to be a windfall for Russia, because in order to profit, you have to be either a from place, or a to place.

    Nobody will be landing cargo’s at Russian ports, because there is no market in Russia, and there’s no infrastructure that will ever make Russian Ports a viable transit option to the actual markets.

    Instead, Chinese shipping will blythy sail past the Russian Arctic Coast on their way to the EU, then back again to China.

  24. 24
    raven says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Proly watchin them stinkin jankees!

  25. 25
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @raven: I’ll accept that, seeing as how they are getting whipped!

  26. 26

    @Roger Moore: There’s quite a bit more about ethnic problems in Russia at Paul Goble’s blog. I didn’t include them all by a long shot!

  27. 27
    Another Scott says:

    The BBC is reporting that Vlad is supposedly upset that the GRU goons who tried to kill the Skripals in the UK have been IDed. And they failed.

    Since Vlad’s original base of support was in the KGB, it makes one wonder who might succeed him. Dmitry Medvedev has always seemed to be just a puppet (but I honestly haven’t looked into what power base he might have). Since there’s so much money and power at stake, and since corruption is so wide-spread among the oligarchs, as well as all the political issues outlined above, it seems likely that there will be lots of conflict when Vlad exits the scene. It could get very, very messy.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  28. 28
    debbie says:

    I wonder if the GOP will take note of Putin’s slipping approval ratings after cutting pensions and reconsider backing off their dream of killing Social Security.

  29. 29
    WhatsMyNym says:

    The investigative website Bellingcat has identified the second suspect responsible for poisoning Sergei Skripal as Alexander Mishkin, a doctor working for Russia’s GRU military spy agency.

    via The Guardian

  30. 30
    Czanne says:

    I’m a fashion watcher (it’s like watching sports, but different technology) and Moscow fashion is unusually interesting this year.
    For the past decade, there have been 3 consistent factors: VERY high platform heels, skinny trousers/leggings, short or high-low hemlines.

    Except starting this spring? The heels vanished, replaced by sneakers & boots. Trousers got baggy, sprouted lots of pockets. Hemlines dropped. (The 1920s statement about hemlines & economics has no statistical basis, and none whatsoever in Moscow. The one modern Econ paper that tried to show the theory was accurate was not written by fashion people, and the stats were bad, too. Dataset manipulation So just drop that idea now.)

    Another piece? Russian women have outnumbered men by about 10% for the past few years, up to 3:1 in major urban areas, and it’s getting worse. There’s a 20 *year* life expectancy gap that’s getting bigger, and all of Vladdie’s various interventions (foreign & domestic) come with a gender cost.

    If I’m reading this fashion change right, it is now fashionable to dress for one’s own comfort and not to attract or keep the male gaze. I don’t know for sure because I’m not there, but I think young women don’t care much about what men think of them right now.

  31. 31
  32. 32
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    I have a question (I know I ask a lot of those here). What would it take to make the United States a dictatorship in the mode of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey? Would R’s risk a forcing a constitutional convention? And could this process be completed sometime around 2030-2040 or is American civil society as a whole too liberal currently for it to happen that quickly?

  33. 33
    raven says:

    Brees for the record!

  34. 34
    Amir Khalid says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷:
    I suggest you read about the rise of the Third Reich. By the way, how’s the novel coming along?

  35. 35
    Baud says:

    @raven: My Lord, was that guy open or what?

  36. 36
    Jay says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷:

    Major amounts of power would have to be concentrated in the Executive.

    Some argue that this process has already started to happen, because the House, Senate and Supreme Court have failed in many cases to act as a check on Executive Power.

    Formalizing the system requires Consitutional and Legislative changes.

    Normalizing the system, such as the New American Aristocracy, simply requires that “norms” are ignored and voter’s aquisiest.

  37. 37
    Chris Johnson says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: It’s not about constitutional conventions. They just start DOING stuff and not giving a fuck, much like putting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Watch for which/how many things just get done and then ignored. There’s already plenty of it, right here. It’s not about rules and civil society isn’t particularly liberal at all.

  38. 38
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I’ve been writing little scenes here and there. I have fall break this week so I’ll spare some time for writing.

    I know that there are some similarities, as laid out in this New York Review article by Christopher R. Browning. But he highlights some key differences:

    Invoking the Nazi example was understandable then, and several aspects of democratic decline in the interwar period seem eerily similar to current trends, as I have noted. But the Nazi dictatorship, war, and genocide following the collapse of Weimar democracy are not proving very useful for understanding the direction in which we are moving today. I would argue that current trends reflect a significant divergence from the dictatorships of the 1930s.

    The fascist movements of that time prided themselves on being overtly antidemocratic, and those that came to power in Italy and Germany boasted that their regimes were totalitarian. The most original revelation of the current wave of authoritarians is that the construction of overtly antidemocratic dictatorships aspiring to totalitarianism is unnecessary for holding power. Perhaps the most apt designation of this new authoritarianism is the insidious term “illiberal democracy.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary have all discovered that opposition parties can be left in existence and elections can be held in order to provide a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, while in reality elections pose scant challenge to their power. Truly dangerous opposition leaders are neutralized or eliminated one way or another.

    Total control of the press and other media is likewise unnecessary, since a flood of managed and fake news so pollutes the flow of information that facts and truth become irrelevant as shapers of public opinion. Once-independent judiciaries are gradually dismantled through selective purging and the appointment of politically reliable loyalists. Crony capitalism opens the way to a symbiosis of corruption and self-enrichment between political and business leaders. Xenophobic nationalism (and in many cases explicitly anti-immigrant white nationalism) as well as the prioritization of “law and order” over individual rights are also crucial to these regimes in mobilizing the popular support of their bases and stigmatizing their enemies.

  39. 39
    J R in WV says:

    @Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):

    Why would you think this isn’t happening right now? The Russo-Republicans have perhaps already taken over the Supreme Court, which would be enough to prevent them from ever being successfully prosecuted for their un-American activities. Done and done.

    Now, I really don’t think they can get away with it, not now and not in 20 or 30 years, because there are too many real patriots willing to fight and die to prevent such a takeover.

    But only time will tell, and I’m too old to hang on long enough to see that far into the future. I might have 20 more years, but I would be too feeble to fight…

  40. 40
    Jay says:

    @J R in WV:

    Take the balls and rubber feet off your walker.

    In Spears vs. Swords, ( spoiler alert, spears +18 despite the fact that everybody trained with swords and nobody trained with spears), by Lindybeige, he noted that none of the spearmen and women made the classical spear move of pinning the foot to the ground.

  41. 41
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Thank you Cheryl, for a post that covers a lot.

    The matters surrounding the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are a Very Big Deal, and are far from settled, although Bartholomew does seem to be doing the right thing, and to be undeterred by the noises coming from Moscow.

    And I envy you the trip to Lake Baikal, a place I’d really like to visit.

  42. 42
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: You really need to read some history.

  43. 43
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Well, I did, in the article I linked to above. I like to test the waters sometimes with my ideas and I use BJ commenters as guinea pigs 😅

    I plan on getting my hands on books on Putin’s Russia and his rise. Probably want to study the concept of “illiberal democracy” itself. Won’t be for a few months though.

  44. 44
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: You might get more constructive feedback if you showed some evidence of having done some homework. Reading one NYRB article doesn’t count.

  45. 45
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    That’s not the sum total of my exposure and knowledge to authoritarianism and you shouldn’t have assumed it was. It was just an idea that popped into my head today or yesterday and I had an exam as well that I had to study for, in addition to my job. It’s been two years since my last history course and it was early American history. As you know, most history courses at the primary and secondary levels don’t focus on details like that most of the time.

  46. 46
    FelonyGovt says:

    Late to the thread but I wanted to thank you for this post, Cheryl. We tend to forget that, as Sting once sang, “Russians love their children too” and many of them would love nothing better than to be free of Putin.

  47. 47
    Origuy says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. I follow Russian news somewhat, because of several Russian-American friends, a continuing attempt to learn the language, and one trip there five years go. The split in the Orthodox Church is interesting; Moscow has always seen itself as the “third Rome”. I think the FSB likely is behind some of the bomb threats, to keep people jumpy. The metro stations bombed in 2010 have large plaques in commemoration. I think people still leave flowers there.

  48. 48
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Pretty funny. RT correspondent/contributor/mouthpiece Sameera Khan posted some absolutely atrocious memes about how Stalin’s gulags weren’t so bad (see here, for instance.) Twitter reaction was, how could I say, not gentle. I went to take another look just now, just to get my jollies, and she has deleted her account.

  49. 49

    @Gin & Tonic: Baikal is wonderful. We were on a boat belonging to the Limnological Institute for a week, stopping at various places along the lake. Go if you get the chance.

    The Orthodox split is indeed a big deal, because, as Origuy says in #47, Moscow wants to believe it is the “Third Rome.” If Constantinople decides that Kyiv is yet another power center, that takes away a lot from that “Third Rome” idea. Plus the Moscow Patriarchate is very close to the Kremlin. The split then emphasizes the split of Ukraine from Russia. There is a more recent article at Goble’s blog that I didn’t link saying that the split is pretty much a done deal, and only a major intervention by Turkey or Russia can stop it.

    Since I wrote the post, I’ve seen a report that Putin is sending military feelers into Libya, which might be the next foreign adventure he’s looking to boost his popularity back up. The Middle East and North Africa is a treacherous place to do that sort of adventuring, though, as the United States has learned. During the Cold War, the stark rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union forced allegiances in the region. That forcing no longer exists.

  50. 50
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The Moscow Patriarchate was basically a subsidiary of the KGB in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this is known. But yes, Moscow views itself as the direct lineal descendant of Kyivan Rus’ in ecclesiastical terms. Ukraine, of course, disagrees. And I agree that the split is looking an awful lot like a done deal.

    Minor nit, please write “Kyiv” and not “Kiev” – Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has started a popular campaign to that effect, as it is a more accurate transliteration. More here.

  51. 51

    @Gin & Tonic: Good point. I have not entirely mentally transitioned to “Kyiv,” but I have changed it in my comment.

    The business about being a direct descendent of Kyivan Rus’ is historical nonsense, although there may be a bit to it on the church side, whose history I am not so conversant with. Muscovy owes at least as much to the Mongols. One of my favorite alternative history turning points is if Muscovy had not defeated the Novgorod Republic.

  52. 52
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Why did you ignore my comment at #45?

  53. 53
    Vhh says:

    @Jay: China is building rail links to Germany. Faster.

  54. 54
    Czanne says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Kyiv *should* be the third center, not Rome. Because Kyiv was that center for several hundred years, until Gudunov & the eventual Romanov established the northern capitals.

    Hell, Russia takes its very name from the Kyivian Rus, not the other way around.

    Sure, I’m talking about events 500-1000 years ago, but for Europe? That’s not that long ago.

  55. 55
    Dan B says:

    Thanks for this post! We Americans get so little news from the world at large that it’s a wonder we still believe we are the best nation to rule the world.

  56. 56

    My team compared photos this way to find trash pits at Los Alamos.

  57. 57
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Czanne:

    Hell, Russia takes its very name from the Kyivian Rus, not the other way around.

    Way late in a dead thread where nobody will read it, but this is nonsense. The word Rus’ is not the same word (not from the same root) as the word “Rossiya”, which more or less incorrectly transliterates to “Russia”. Russia, of course, does nothing to dispel this misconception. I’d point out the differences in phonetics in the Cyrillic, but lately typing in Cyrillic causes my comments to vanish.

  58. 58
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: I didn’t ignore it. I read it.

  59. 59

  60. 60
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    But you didn’t reply. It gave the impression you ignored what I said

  61. 61
    dr. luba says:

    @Gin & Tonic: SO what is the correct etymology of “Rossiya”?

  62. 62
    Kent says:

    The Russian economy is smaller than that of Texas. And it its economic growth lags behind that of the US.

    Were it not for the apparent fact that Putin owns Trump it seems like long-term Russia is going to continue to slide backwards into irrelevance Can anyone name one single manufactured product from Russia that anyone wants? For which they are a world leader?

  63. 63
    grumpy realist says:

    @Kent: They do a pretty good cheap Atomic Force Microscope. Supposedly made with the metal from reclaimed Soviet submarines.

    Actually, the best export from Russia has been (for some time) its educated workforce. I remember back in 1997 someone saying that there were no more Russian biorhodopsin experts left in Russia–that they were all working in his laboratory in Italy.

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