November 02, 2016
KYIV — Dressed in a black sweater and equally nondescript turtleneck, with wisps of raven hair corkscrewing from under a black baseball cap, the lanky Ukrainian introduces himself in accented English as “Sean.” Sean Townsend is his chosen pseudonym on Facebook, complemented by images of the notorious Guy Fawkes mask of hacker group Anonymous and the Ukrainian coat of arms. Before Sean, he was “Ross Hatefield,” until the world’s leading social network banned that account for impersonation.
In hacker circles, he is better known as RUH8 — pronounced “roo-hate” to express his aversion to all things Russian. RUH8 agreed to speak with RFE/RL on condition that we avoid publishing his real name, which he only uses with friends unaware of what he does outside his day job as a Kyiv-based security researcher. He provided details of the cyberwar that has been raging — parallel to the shooting war between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine over the past 30 months — between the respective sides’ patriotic hackers using digital subterfuge. Continue reading
A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin by Ukrainian artist Darya Marchenko is made from 5,000 used bullet cartridges collected at the Russo-Ukrainian front in eastern Ukraine. The portrait is named “The Face of War.” The portrait was presented along with a novel which tells personal stories of six people involved in this project including Darya’s own story and stories of people who helped her to collect the bullet shells at the frontline. She calls her art approach philosophic symbolism where every element has its hidden meaning. In her works each used bullet cartridge stands for a human life that was brutally ended by Putin’s military invasion into Ukraine. (Image: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)
The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore.
Consequently, Windows on Eurasia presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 51st such compilation. It is only suggestive and far from complete – indeed, once again, one could have put out such a listing every day — but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.
- Rumors Swirling about Putin’s Exit and a New Russian Revolution. In the low-information, high-tension environment in which Russians exist, rumors often sweep across the country. This week, there have been widespread reports that the Russian elite is preparing itself for Putin’s departure; and others are talking openly about the likelihood Continue reading
Russian internet trolls
Article by: Yuriy Savytskyi
Warsaw — Kremlin “trolls” have launched a massive campaign to discredit Ukraine and Ukrainians in the Polish Internet space. Polish analysts note that an unprecedented wave of anti-Ukrainian propaganda on the Web first appeared in 2013, shortly after the Maidan protests began in Kyiv. In order to convince the Poles that Ukrainians are their bitter enemies, the Internet trolls are repeating the views of the current Kremlin authorities hundreds of thousands of times.
Mateusz Bajek, editor of the Polish portal kaukaz.pl, has an atypical hobby. He hunts Russian Internet trolls, who, for the past two years, have become extremely active on the Polish web and online networks. Bajek believes that one of the most striking examples of the Kremlin’s trolling in Poland is the Internet forum of the Russian-Polish Radio Sputnik Polska, where Kremlin trolls began to appear massively in late autumn of 2013. Continue reading
Billionaire Kirill Shamalov, who is widely reported to be Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, is one of a number of wealthy or influential Russians who seem to have had their names removed from property records. (file photo)
Peculiar things are afoot with senior Russian officials and their relatives tied to pricey real estate: Their information keeps disappearing from public property records.
Kremlin foes, journalists, and anticorruption activists in recent months have uncovered evidence that entries in the official federal real-estate database have been quietly edited, in some cases obscuring ownership of expensive properties thought to be controlled by members of Russia’s political elite.
Moreover, the Russian intelligence community is pushing draft legislation that would curb access to personal information in public real-estate records, thus shielding these details from inquisitive journalists and the broader public.
This article from Euromaiden Press links the fable of the boiling frog to Russian society accepting its worsening fate under Putin. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will leap out to escape the danger, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be slowly cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that occur gradually.
Article by: Kseniya Kirillova
Russia: A “superpower” with no safety net
Playing global games as a “superpower” has led Russia to the brink of disaster: the Russian population is slowly dying out. We’re not talking about volunteers or soldiers who have gone to fight in the Donbas or Syria, but about ordinary citizens who haven’t left the country. Many people are dying for the most trivial reasons, such as a flu vaccine. The high mortality during the current flu epidemic can be explained very simply – lack of imported drugs. Continue reading
T-shirts in support of Ukrainian political prisoners illegally held in Russia. Designed by Braty Design
Over 10 Ukrainian citizens are political prisoners in Russia, facing up to 20 years of jail over trumped-up charges, sometimes for the sole reason of being Ukrainian. Some of them, according to human rights activists, were simply kidnapped. In order to raise awareness about their imprisonment, the Ukrainian organizations EuromaidanSOS and the Center for Civil Liberties, are launching the campaign #LetMyPeopleGo. Its purpose is to spread information about citizens of Ukraine who are illegally kept captive in Russia, as well as citizens of other countries imprisoned in Russia for political reasons, for supporting Ukraine, and public demonstrations against Russian aggression in Ukraine. Continue reading
Europe and Central Asia Briefing N°795 Feb 2016
Despite repeated expressions of support for the Minsk process and recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty over the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR, LNR), Moscow’s policy in Ukraine’s east looks more likely to strengthen those entities than prepare for the dismantlement the Minsk agreement envisages. The Kremlin views Ukraine’s European choice as a major security threat and the 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych as Western-backed and aimed at isolating Russia. It wants to keep Ukraine under its pro-Western leadership unstable, embroiled in open-ended military confrontation it cannot afford, so as to return it eventually to its sphere of influence. Moscow often seems to play with several options, but its tactical fluidity is dangerous. Almost 10,000 have died in the conflict, and tens of thousands of troops face each other along a 500-km line of separation. While Continue reading
Russian President Vladimir Putin used to seem invincible. Today, he and his regime look enervated, confused, and desperate. Increasingly, both Russian and Western commentators suggest that Russia may be on the verge of deep instability, possibly even collapse, Alexander J. Motyl wrote in an article titled “Lights Out for the Putin Regime” published by Foreign Affairs on January 27.
This perceptual shift is unsurprising. Last year, Russia was basking in the glow of its annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas. The economy, although stagnant, seemed stable. Putin was running circles around Western policymakers and domestic critics. His popularity was sky-high. Now it is only his popularity that remains; everything else has turned for the worse. Crimea Continue reading
A Krasnodar district court has found activist Darya Polyudova guilty of “public calls to separatism and extremism” on social media and has sentenced her to two years in a penal colony.
Prosecution earlier asked that Polyudova receive a 3.5-year term, according to an Ovdinfo.org report.
Earlier, Polyudova was charged with public calls to activity aimed at disrupting the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation (under a new article 280.1 of Continue reading
A former Russian insider says he was there when Putin began openly planning the present invasion of Ukraine back in 2003.
At a conference in Brussels this week, Andrey Illarionov, a Russian economist and former economic advisor to Vladimir Putin informed that the invasion of Ukraine has been in official planning since at least 2003.
“Since 2003. I can say that certain questions relating to the future war with Ukraine were discussed in my presence. I didn’t think the talks would really lead to a real war,” he said.
In an anguished response to the Orange Revolution a year later which brought about an ostensibly pro-Western government, Russian officials then began Continue reading