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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
February 4, 2017

Publication: Windows on Eurasia
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
‘Trump Administration is the Obama Administration on Steroids,’ Russian Analyst Says

The wild gyrations in Russian expectations about new US President Donald Trump are continuing with the events of February 3 prompting Veronika Krasheninnikova to say that instead of the change Moscow had expected, “the Trump Administration is the Obama Administration on steroids.” 

The Russian political analyst made her comments late February 3 after Abm. Nikki Haley, the US permanent representative to the United Nations said sanctions would continue until Russia returned Crimea to Ukraine, a position the White House subsequently confirmed as settled American policy. 

Krasheninnikova, head of the Moscow Institute for Foreign Policy Research and Initiatives, said that she had never shared the optimistic hopes of some in Moscow that Trumps election would lead to a reset of American policy toward Russia in a way favorable to the interests of the latter. 

That is now obvious not only from statements like Amb. Haley but also from what some of Trump’s advisors have said. Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, for example, has titled his Twitter account “Believe in American exceptionalism – it is real” and has labelled Russia and Iran as “the two most active and strong members” of an anti-US alliance. 

And Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief political advisor, comes out of “an ultra-right milieu” which informed by the ideas of Oswald Spengler, Julius Evola and other “key ideologues of European fascism and Nazism” and sworn enemies of Russia and promoters of the idea that Russia must be contained and then defeated.

Given this, Krasheninnikova says, it is time for Russians to understand that “the Trump Administration is the Obama Administration on steroids,” that is, “it will continue Obama’s policies but in a much more aggressive way.” It will likely start a war with Iran, a country that is Russia’s “partner with whom we are fighting in Syria against international terrorism.” 

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council’s International Relations Committee, appeared on the same television program yesterday and offered similar thoughts. Trump is unpredictable, he said, but “the radicalism of Trump’s team will be realized in foreign policy, including in relations with Russia.” 

“We will have to deal with a very inconvenient and tough partner,” Kosachev said. “This must be understood now.” 

In comments to Vitaly Portnikov of Radio Liberty, Russian analyst Dmitry Oreshkin pointed out that the Kremlin following the election of Donald Trump had fallen into the trap of believing its own propaganda. “Only now,” he said, “has it become clear to the Russian powers that be” that they have miscalculated. 

Indeed, the Kremlin’s constant refrain that Trump would change American policy toward Russia may have worked against Russia because it meant that the new US leader couldn’t move in that direction at least anytime soon without being accused of “treason.” In short, Moscow gave Trump another reason not to make concessions now. 

And that leaves Vladimir Putin in a difficult position: “Russia now does not have the resources for a new round of conflict.” The Kremlin leader wants to get out from under the problems his actions in Ukraine have caused not because he is in a strong position but because he is in a weak one. A pragmatic Trump can certainly sense that too.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ethnic Minorities Form an Increasing Share of Putin-Era Emigration

Staunton, VA, February 4, 2017 - The rising tide of emigration from the Russian Federation as a whole has attracted significant attention in Moscow and the West, but this flow has generally been presented, with a few notable political exceptions, as a search by citizens of that country for greater economic opportunity.

That makes this “fourth Putin wave” in many ways very different from the so-called “third wave” in the last decades of USSR when most of those who left, Jews and Germans, did so for reasons related to the ways in which their communities were treated by the Soviet authorities. 

But there are exceptions to that explanation, involving those suffering because of who and what they are. As Yevgeniya Baltatarova and Mariya Khankhunova pointa out in Buryatia’s Respublika, “national minorities, gays, journalists and activists are [now] a major part of the political emigration of the Putin wave”. 

They do not provide statistics, but they do suggest that while gays, journalists and activists who leave have attracted a great deal of notice, members of non-Russian nationalities generally have not, something they say should be corrected because ever more of the latter are moving abroad and willing to talk about the repression that drove them there. 

In a 2,000-word article, the two journalists provide examples from the growing Buryat diaspora not only in the United States but elsewhere and provide information on which countries offer the easiest path to asylum, information that may lead even more Buryats to consider leaving as well. 

The kinds of repression that the Buryat emigres describe to them will be familiar to anyone who tracks developments among them and other non-Russians: attacks and loss of jobs and income because of views and actions that the Russian authorities consider unacceptable such as insisting that their nations were absorbed by Russia in anything but a voluntary way. 

But one aspect of this situation that Baltatarova and Khankhunova do not mention may be especially important: The Russian government may be especially pleased to see such activists go because it lowers the temperature in  nationalist movements in the non-Russian republics as well as their organizational potential.

That in turn should lead analysts in the West to view the non-Russian emigres as an important source of information about what is going on outside Moscow’s ring road. The testimony of such people already suggests that at least in some places, nationalism is again growing, and that Moscow, however much it denies the fact, is frightened by it.


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
US Protests Against Trump Now Resemble Russian Ones against Putin in 2011-2012, Yudin Says
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2017-02-05 08:25:11

Staunton, February 4 – Many people have drawn parallels between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, but now a Russian analyst is drawing them between US protesters against the former and earlier Russian protests against the latter, a parallel that is not altogether encouraging given the ways in which the Kremlin leader exploited them to tighten the screws on his country. 

In a comment for the Republic portal, Grigory Yudin, a professosr at the Moscow Higher School for Social and Economic Sciences, says that “the similarities” between US protests now and those against Putin six year ago are “striking.” In both, the chief means are humor and a predominant commitment to moderation and a peaceful approach.

"Both in Russia and in the US,” Yudin continues, “the demonstrations brought out into the streets angry residents of the cities. The egregious violations in the elections to the Russian Duma like the installation of an outsized American president generated anger. Such actions bring citizens into politics and show they have real power which must be taken into consideration.” 

“Irritation must be distinguished from rage,” he says. Initially both Russians in the past and Americans now were simply angry. There was no place for humor the day after the Duma vote, and there was none at the American airports when Trump’s immigration restrictions went into force. 

But both sets of protesters shifted toward humor given the lack in each case of political goals which had a “clear” path to being achieved. Russian protesters called “for honest elections” but didn’t say just what should happen to move in that direction. American protesters want Trump out but again have no clear plan as to how that could happen. 

Ultimately in the Russian case, the demonstrations died out and the Putin regime made use of them to tighten the screws. Will the same thing happen in the US? the Moscow professor asks rhetorically. And does the shift to humor, an indication that the protesters don’t have a clear road map for the future, mean that this is already happening? 

When those taking part in any protests begin to celebrate the fact that they are taking part, those demonstrations “lose their political potential,” however satisfying they may be to participants. That happened in Russia six years ago: it appears to be happening in the United States now. 

“The fact that the masses in Russia and America began to speak a common language and in places make use of one and the same symbols is a sign that the processes in both countries bear resemblance,” Yudin argues. They share in many ways similar emotions, similar political situations, and similar problems. 

And “these problems,” he insists, “have a global character and can hardly be resolved within a single state on its own.” That’s in part why the American protesters have been joined by demonstrators in other countries. Perhaps, Yudin says, “they will learn to listen to one another … and sooner or later seek to close ranks.”

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