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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
Ukraine Liveblog Day 102: Has the Vostok Battalion Taken Charge in Donetsk?

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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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
Putin's Electorate, And A Comparison of Conflicts

In today's entries for our column Window on Eurasia, Paul Goble summarizes the state of the modern Russian middle class and emphasizes differences within from Western standards of criteria. The changing middle class in Russia, with vast regional differences, calls for expanded criteria to include a feeling of well-being and self-awareness relative to position in the social system.

Read Putin Electorate Reflects Underlying Continuities in Russian Society, Sociologist Says 

In his next piece,  Paul Goble highlights five key points of comparison between Ukraine and Russia's often brutal counter-terrorism efforts in the North Caucasus, which includes Moscow's inefficiency to pacify the North Caucasus through the perpetuation of violence and force.

Read Ukraine’s Counter-Terrorism Effort in East Far More Effective and Less Horrific than Russia’s in the North Caucasus

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Separatist 'Mayor' of Slavyansk Says OSCE Observers Held by 'Non-Slavic' Fighters

The Moscow Times reports that the self-proclaimed 'people's mayor' of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, told Echo Mosky radio yesterday that the 4 detained OSCE observers are being held by Chechen fighters.

Speaking of the OSCE observers, Ponomaryov said: 

"I told them not to go anywhere for a week," Ponomaryov said. "But they ignored [it], well, I'm sorry. Especially since they hit upon non-Slavic resistance fighters."

The Moscow Times notes that this remark seems to refer to Chechen fighters.

While Ponomaryov did not further identify the group, the only "non-Slavic" force that has emerged in eastern Ukraine recently is a militia of Chechen natives, who have reportedly come from Russia — though Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied sending or controlling the forces.

The report says that Ponomaryov had previously given assurances on the state of the captives that day, but that he now appeared to be backtracking:

Ponomayov told Interfax earlier Thursday that the OSCE monitors — a Dane, an Estonian, a Swiss, and a Turk — were fine and that his administration knew where they were being held. But in the Thursday afternoon interview with Ekho Moskvy, he brushed off concerns about "some four strange people" and any chance that he would help secure their release.

"These people are not held by us," Ponomaryov told Ekho Moskvy, adding that his powers did not extend to freeing the monitors: "I am not a military commander-in-chief, I'm not the head of some service."

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Bank Hit Hard By Sanctions, Devalued Ruble

Precious few Russian businesses have been directly targeted by US or EU sanctions, but one of the few business to be directly slapped by them has been deeply impacted. Gulf Times reports:

Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank by assets, reported an 18% slide in profits yesterday and more than doubled its provisions for bad loans, hit by the Ukraine crisis, a falling rouble and an economy flirting with recession. 

Once feted for its fast-growing economy, Russia is now forecast to achieve growth of just 0.5% this year, hurt by Western sanctions and instability brought by the stand-off with Kiev and wider emerging market uncertainty. 

State-owned bank Sberbank — viewed as a proxy for the broader Russian economy — joined its smaller rival VTB in announcing worse than expected results for the first quarter this year. 

Net profit dropped to 72.9bn roubles ($2.1bn) from 88.5bn a year ago, and also fell short of analysts’ consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of 78.2bn. 

“(The) operating environment in the Russian Federation during the first quarter 2014 remained subject to several negative factors,” Sberbank said in its earnings report. “In particular, recent events in Ukraine significantly impacted the dynamics of the Russian economy.” 

Digging into these numbers, though, we see that it is not sanctions alone that did this damage. Sberbank is suffering from general instability in the Russian markets, some of which predate the Ukrainian crisis and some of which directly spring from the falling ruble and market fluctuations cause by the crisis itself. The sanctions add to this pain and reduce the cushion for other blows.

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian-Manufactured Drone Downed in Ukraine

UNIAN reports that a Russian-manufactured Orlan-10 drone has been shot down in the zone of the ongoing Ukrainian government's Anti-Terrorism Operation on May 28. 

Yesterday, UNIAN reported that Alexei Dmitrashkovsky, a press secretary for the ATO, had told the TSN TV channel that, in addition to video and camera equipment, a container of a liquid of unknown chemical composition had been found aboard the drone. The substance, along with the rest of the aircraft, were taken away for testing. 

The SBU provided the following photos of the wreckage:

1401443297-6286-bespilotnik-rossiya.jpg

1401443369-4754-bespilotnik-rossiya.jpg

1401443187-3141-bespilotnik-rossiya.jpg

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
US Defense Department Says Russian Troops Withdrawing

A source in the U.S. defense department has told the Associated Press that seven Russian battalions remain on the border, but most have withdrawn. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also made comments on the withdrawal:

"They are not where they need to be and won't be until all of their troops that they positioned along that border a couple of months ago are gone," Hagel said.

"We do know that thousands of Russian troops have been pulled back and are moving away. But we also know that there are still thousands of Russian troops still there that have not yet moved," Hagel said.
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