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From Leningrad With Love. A note on colonel’s generals

City of Leningrad is not only the birthplace of the Revolution… 

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Comrades, listen carefully!

Lev Trotsky didn’t expect czarist officers who worked for him in building the Red Army to “repaint themselves as bolshenivks’, neither should we expect colonel’s generals to vest their loyalty to St. Petersburg. 

In 1917 Leningrad (Petrograd at the time) was teeming with bolsheviks, mensheviks, anarchists and other political adventurers and populists, as is now Kremlin. Although the Kremlin lot are still loyal to their Leningrad upbringing in an ideational sense – they owe everything to the bolsheviks who created the Service in time of political survival. In current ‘identity crises’ and Putin’s bet on … imperialism (oh, really?) the old KGB salt will have to go through lobotomy to understand that Leningrad is no more. Its St. Petersburg. 

Ok, that’s all rhetoric. Lets introduce our leningradians, leningradites, leninists:

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N.Patrushev (left), A.Murov (right)

Alex Murov is closest to the colonel, heading Federal Security Service – guarding top politicians including the Patriarch. Of course he is from Leningrad KGB and yes he worked with Putin in the 90’s. From Putin’s rise to power Murov jumped through the ranks – in four years from major general to army general. And he is also running a successful business (altough the law forbids as he is a statesman) – Pulkovo airport. During late 90’s Murov was working for V. Cherkesov – at the time head of Petersburg FSB.

Viktor Cherkesov – Duma deputy, previous place of work – military procurement, and before that  – FSKN (russian DEA). After being Murov’s boss he moved to Moscow to become deputy director of FSB (headed by Putin). Yes, of course he started in Leningrad’s KGB. Chemezov, in his scandalous article in the Kommersant, openly admitted that there was a ‘special services  war’ going on in the country between FSB and FSKN. Murov, with his powerful FSS, was steering in between the two like Stalin used to – between Soldier’s Soviet and United Social-Democrats (mezhraionka) in revolutionary Petrograd. In the fight against the FSB Cherkesov lost but saved his face, after all they’re all gentlemen leningradians.

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V. Cherkesov and VV

The head of FSB Nick Patrushev won the fight against FSKN. Once (or twice…) officers of both services opened fire on each other in Novgorod. Partushev headed FSB for nearly ten years and probably, for wining over FSKN or staying loyal to colonel for so long, he’s been promoted to become the secretary of the  Federal Security Council. Some say that this body decides on nothing ever since general Lebed (ran against Yeltsin in 1996), who used to be the FSC secretary, accidentally crushed in a helicopter. But Patrushev is the weirdest of the three. He is trying to push through this idea of neo-nobility, the new russian gentry, the ‘true’ elites who have ‘official titles’ form the House of Romanov. I wonder what Duke of Kent makes of it. 

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Adventurers in Winter Palace

‘Noble leningradites’ in Kremlin are driven by corporate allegiance and personal ruthlessness. Like hundred years ago in Petrograd, when political blocs had their own militias to enforce their own mandates, todays numerous services are prepared to use theirs agents in the name of great revolutionary imperial soviet power… and comforts of life. 

 

His name is Vladimir. A note on tricameral mind.

What is in Putin’s mind? What he’s going to de next? What motivates him?

Everyone tries to explain Putin, trying to get into his head and justify his reasons or rationalize distorted perceptions of reality. 

Let me try a schizophrenic approach to explain Putin by not comparing but by synthesising some of his contemporaries into colonel’s personality. Coincidently the three people I’ve chosen are named Vladimir.

trying to keep it where it is

Vladimir Son

Son of a KGB agent V. Pozner is Russian-American journalist known not only to the Russian public but also to wider world audience through his recent work on CNN – commenting on the Ukrainian crisis. Pozner shows the West to the Russians and presents Russia to the West. He’s taken on a role of a teacher, master of wit, the wise interlocutor advocating for dialogue between the ever increasingly distancing West and East. Being hopelessly soviet Mr. Pozner is responsible for convincing Russians of their difference. With high ratings and primetime shows he’s not suffering from the lack of followers.

Vladimir (right) transcribing soviet though on US TV

Vladimir Spirit

Spirits have always played a critical role in Russian armed forces diet. However, with trendy professionalisation and the cult of healthy might the free spirit of military talent is in fashion. General V. Shamanov is a heroic epitome of such ruthlessness, decisiveness, cold mindedness, and might makes right approach. An all rounded individual – a war hero, a war criminal, a governor, a defence minister candidate, the commander of Russian paratroopers – General Shamanov is the guiding mechanism in a Russian rocket aimed at whatever the Father points his finger at.

General and his colleagues

Vladimir Father 

Father Cyril who became the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was named Vladimir at birth. His brilliant organizational skills and connections in St. Petersburg and Western Europe gave him respect and a clear career path up through the ranks (in church hierarchy as well). Cyril embodies the patronage system and devotion to duty in a world where a step from the Gods way means death and there’re plenty of envies trying to push you and trip you over. Kinship, God, Brotherhood are patriarch’s virtues.

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All three men are Putin. This picture doesn’t make things any clearer or explains anything. So don’t attempts of the expert community. I personally disapprove of the fact that Putin’s cortex is much different of any other human being. 

gas! gas! gas! a note on gas

2014 is the year of WW1 and what else comes to mind when I think about the events at the beginning of  twentieth century? Gas.

you cannot see very well in a gas mask

Gas was used for the first time. Much to some people’s disappointment it is still in use. But then war is immoral and it is a tough, brutal world out there.

The take over of Crimea changed the prospects of modern world gas warfare. The South Stream pipeline that is due for completion in 2018 was first initiated by Russia in 2008, to provide gas for southern Europe and further establish itself as a major european gas supplier. The construction started two years ago with Gasprom chasing for 50% and Italians, French and Swiss jumping on board as well. Number of countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia) signed a deal with Putin and then Medvedev… and then Putin.

However, there was (as not is) a problem – Ukraine. The building of Nord Stream and South Stream would cut off Ukraine form venturing on transit of the blue gold to Central and Western Europe. In case of the South Stream the pipeline was supposed to go through Ukraine’s shelf/territorial waters.

There is always an option. The plan B is to just draw a line through Turkey’s waters, but Turkey is also planning on a thing of its own – the Nabucco Project – transiting gas form Azerbaijan and Central Asia to Europe. But as in any other business – who needs an extra agent in the chain? Who would put all the pipelines in one basket?

For now the South Stream project is in the air. So is Nabucco. Both projects’ future is at mercy of Russia’s european partners. Looking at sanctions taken agains Europe’s leading gas supplier South Stream has some prospects.

The biggest problem with using gas is wind change.

Some say…

Ukraine has become the ground for imaginative counterfactualist’s battles. It is such an attractive exercise, a chance given to as by history that the number of possible scenarios appearing in the press is fascinating me and demand to have a go as well. 

All sorts of pundits, diplomats, ex-diplomats, theoreticians, journalists, ex and serving officers, experts felt like they have a duty to inform the public on how, when and why Russia will invade Ukraine, and what the outcome will be. But the thing is, all these people are having it half way. There’s so may ifs and buts in the equation that it makes their stories lacking the plot, the detail and most importantly the horrors of war. Scenarios are lacking fiction, drama and realism. 

In order to fulfil the crave for predicting the future I’m going to draw attention to a book written by Gleb Bobrov – a well known russian journalist, writer, editor. Gleb was born and still lives in Ukraine. In 2007 he’s written a book called “Epoch of stillborn“. Back then he got it much better than many of contemporary ‘experts’. 

Here’s what the book is about:

After the revolution and followed breakup of the country, Ukraine is divided into Republic of Galicia (western Ukraine), Central Ukrainian Republic (Ukraine proper), Republic of Crimea and Eastern Confederation.

Obviously there’s a war going on were the Central Ukraine tries to retake the eastern territories. 

In the book the baddies are central Ukrainians backed by the NATO (with polish troops and equipment on the ground) and volunteers form Galicia. The Eastern Confederation is backed by the Russians – the goodies. Although Russians limit themselves only to providing air-defence, hence the Eastern Confederation can actually do some fighting and not being thrashed in the first few days of the war. 

The main hero is an ex-government official from the Eastern Confederation. After the coup that overthrew the local oligarchy/mafia bosses (hello Yanukovitch) the hero sends his family to Russia and takes on fighting. He’s commanding a platoon of confederate forces and goes through a few successful battles until being captured. 

The book actually starts  with hero’s interrogation before deportation to Nuremberg tribunal for war criminals. The book ends indecisively with the fighting still going on. Probably the author’s point is: solution resolving to violence is not a solution.

So here’s a scenario that is actually not too far away from what some pundits see coming with the current situation in Ukraine. However, what they are not talking about (and the book does) is horrors of war: lies, death, marauding, rape, lies, plunder, torture, lies, lost hopes and lies…

…the hero was actually captured by the russians. Nothing personal, just politics.

Phenix

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So the list of people who have been sanctioned was announced.

A question raises about the relevance of sanctioning officers of the Russian Black Fleet, who just carried out their orders.

Or, what was the point of sanctioning the traitors: Berezovsky (ex-comander of Ukranian Fleet), Medvedchyuk (Chief of Staff) who should be trailed?… poor souls

However, among the people on the list we have shady characters who are quite well known – Surkov (minister of truth) and Rogozin (deputy-prime minister for anti-NATO patriotism) – there is now person standing out.

Please welcome Nikolay Ivanovich Ryzkov. A soviet monster, a supermen who suffered a hart attack when kicked out by Gorbachev form the post of prime minister, an apparatchik form Donetsk. For considerable amount of time Ryzhkov worked in Urals heavy industry. If one reads his numerous biographies on the internet he can get enough mind boggling material to write a novel where the main character shakes hands with Andropov, drinks with Gorbachev, fights gangs in russian old city of Tver, gets into banking business (the bank, by the way, is still around, which is fantastic!) ships raw material abroad and makes millions out of it, stands for presidential elections, forms political parties, becomes a PM in a small Russian southern city,  advises Putin on national and CIS politics, becomes a member of Federal Council and gets on the list of people banned from travelling and assets freeze by the EU.

A man of many interests. A well rounded individual. By the way in the Russian upper house Nikolay Ivanovich heads a commission on local governance and the Russian North.

One can spot parallels between Ryzhkov and Aksyonov, both were involved in organised crime in early 90’s. But the thing is that Aksyonov biography doesn’t stretch beyond Crimea. Ryzhkov lived several life. I’m beginning to think what might be his real name.

The point is that the real lives and real past of russian politicians (i.e. one KGB colonel) is a curved mirror image of russian politics. With no knowledge of who the people are, what their motives are, the situation make look absurd and so does the list, which many have called a joke.

Unfortunately, there are way too many speculative suggestions on reasoning of actors and people involved in the current conflict in Crimea that the picture of reality becomes bleak with more pastel colourings and shadows. I think that Mr. Ryzhkov and Mr. Putin tried hard for it to be so.

Персона революции

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События на Украине, которые разворачиваются вот уже с прошлого года, показали нашему вниманию вереницу почти гоголевских персонажей. Нам были представлены более или менее известные политики, люди случайные, но хорошо подготовленные и, конечно, крайне фотогеничные бойцы с улицы Грушевского.

Но кто хочет стать лицом революции? Кто может стать? Возможно ли персонифицировать Евромайдан? Будет ли это «большой политик» или безликий «националист в противогазе»?

В Российских и Западных СМИ украинские события персонифицируются с Путиным, Янучовичем, Турчиновым и майданской троицей: Яценюк, Тягнибок, Кличко. Фигуры знаковые, но безучастные в том смысле, что для героев украинской драмы они не подходят в силу своей недостаточной вовлеченности в борьбу на уровне брусчатки.

Персона Евромайдана, это нечто среднее между студентом киево-магилянки с активной гражданской позицией и щирым политиком владеющим мовой.

Выбрав золотую середину, можно назвать героя революции – это лидер националистической религиозной организации Братство, а также создатель УНА-УНСО – Дмитрий Александрович Корчинский.

«Выдающемуся украинскому писателю и философу», профессиональному провокатору приписывают развязывание силовых методов борьбы против беркута четвертого декабря прошлого года. Когда активисты «Братства» повели бульдозер на сотрудников милиции, политический протест перешел в фазу силового противостояния.

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Именно эта «заслуга» выдвигает персону Корчинского над другими видными лицами евромайдана.

Как пишет Пан Дмытро в своей книге «Война в толпе»: «ситуацию военную, ни в коем случае нельзя переводить в политическую». Профессиональный революционер живет конфликтом и эскалацией конфликта.

Корчинский, как персона революции и как ненавистник России, важен тем, что в своих заявлениях (еще с 2008 года) обещает российскому народу «новую Чечню», только уже не на Кавказе, а в Крыму. Его сподвижники (Ярош и ко.) готовы проводить террористические акты против сотрудников силовых ведомств и в самой Москве.

 Если призывы лидера «Правого Сектора» о помощи к чеченским боевикам вызывали бурную реакцию российской прокуратуры, то речи Корчинского о повстанческом сопротивлении в Крыму и столице должны вызвать очень большие и неудобные вопросы о том, как украинский революционер давал уроки «Нашим» на Селигере по… борьбе с революцией.

 Вопрос, конечно, к «Нашим», так как с Корчинским все ясно. Все в той же своей книге он пишет как познакомился со своей женой. На очередном митинге-протесте молодой Дмытро встретил девушку с плакатом требовавшим освободить ее мужа – полит. заключенного. Узнав, что никакого узника совести не существует и оценив нон-конформизм юного дарования, будущий лидер «Братства» решил создать ячейку нового украинского общества. Провокаторсво в семье Корчинских, – это семейное.

 Все то, чего так боятся телезрители российских каналов, можно персонифицировать не абстрактным бандеровцем, малоизвестным Сашко Билым или очередным «сотником», а человеком, который «держал фронт на Кавказе, чтобы его не было в Крыму». Сейчас Дмитрий Корчинский активно создает фронт там, где так боялся что он может быть, воюя в Чечне.

Остается надеяться, что эта личность вызовет не ненависть, а жалость. Дмитрий Алексеевич фундаменталист, считающий себя христианином желающим «славно повоевать на развалинах Москвы». На деле же он не спасает, а губит души приходящих к нему молодых людей

Khodorkovsky. Sweden or Kronstadt?

Michael Khodorkovsky – russian ex-prisoners number 1 – said that he is ready to come to any city in Ukraine to negotiate peace talks in order to prevent what he calls a ‘civil war’

For several months after his release journalists speculated on his future occupation and role in russian politics. Where Mr Khodorkovsky will steer the ship of russia middle class opposition? Is he capable of taking on a leadership role?

The unknown of his intensions and motives reminds me of one russian naval officer.

On the 9 October 1975, Sablin Valery Mikhaolovitch – 3rd rank captain of the Soviet Navy – seized control of the large counter-submarine ship ‘Guardian’ and took it from Riga to Kronstadt … or Sweden (according to the official version)

The Soviet Navy officer (Communist Party member) wanted to draw attention of the people and general secretary Brezhnev personally to the issue of building socialism and party politics in the country. To his view the political life of the country wasn’t reflecting the original ideas of welfare and republicanism proposed by early Bolsheviks. He wanted to address the nation and the cradle of the october revolution – Kronstadt.

The officials thought Sablin was steering for Sweden and threatened to sink the ship. The captain of the ship when released (he was barricaded by Sablin deep inside the vessel) shot the mutineer in a knee. On 3 August 1976 Sablin was shot dead in Moscow.

Failed but not forgotten. Khodorkovsky is not a match for Navalny for now, however, he is certainly out there, navigating in deep waters waiting to resurface.

Here’s Sablin’s coat of armed (the hero in question doesn’t belong to the noble family but the reading is appropriate: Everything Changes Nothing Dies)