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Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Putin’

RYSSLAND | Bill Browders bok om korruption och maktövergrepp inom den ryska affärsvärlden under Vladimir Putins styre har kommit ut på svenska.

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice har på svenska fått namnet Mitt krig mot Putin: den sanna historien om stora pengar, mord och en mans kamp för rättvisa.

Nyhetsmagasinet Time har publicerat ett utdrag från boken. Så presenteras författaren:

Bill Browder may be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s No. 1 foe. For the past several years the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management has led an international campaign to expose deep corruption and human-rights abuses in Putin’s Russia. His efforts culminated with Congress’s 2012 passage of the Magnitsky Act, which forbids gross abusers of human rights in Russia from banking in or visiting the U.S. It’s named after Browder’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blower who was murdered in a Moscow prison in 2009 after uncovering massive Russian government fraud.

Before he became an unlikely human-rights activist, Browder was for a time one of the largest foreign investors in Russia. In the tumultuous years following the fall of the Soviet Union, he made a fortune for himself and his clients by confronting some of the country’s corrupt oligarchs. But in Russia, shareholder activism could be dangerous work, as Browder explains in this excerpt from his new book Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Search for Justice.

Läs mer: “The fallen idol: seeing Putin in a new light” är A. D. Millers recension av Browders bok i The Spectator.

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RYSSLAND | Ingen kan längre låtsas vara okunniga om Kremls propagandakrig mot väst. Nästan all media har vid det här laget rapporterat om det.

The Economist February 14th-20th 2015

Först ett utdrag från ”From cold war to hot war” där The Economist beskriver Vladimir Putins ”hybrid-war strategy”.

Destabilisation is also being achieved in less military ways. Wielding power or gaining influence abroad—through antiestablishment political parties, disgruntled minority groups, media outlets, environmental activists, supporters in business, propagandist “think-tanks”, and others—has become part of the Kremlin’s hybrid-war strategy. This perversion of “soft power” is seen by Moscow as a vital complement to military engagement.

[…]

Abroad, the main conduit for the Kremlin’s world view is RT, a TV channel set up in 2005 to promote a positive view of Russia that now focuses on making the West look bad. It uses Western voices: far-left anti-globalists, far-right nationalists and disillusioned individuals. It broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish and is planning German- and French-language channels. It claims to reach 700m people worldwide and 2.7m hotel rooms. Though it is not a complete farce, it has broadcast a string of false stories, such as one speculating that America was behind the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

The Kremlin is also a sophisticated user of the internet and social media. It employs hundreds of “trolls” to garrison the comment sections and Twitter feeds of the West. The point is not so much to promote the Kremlin’s views, but to denigrate opposition figures, and foreign governments and institutions, and to sow fear and confusion. Vast sums have been thrown at public-relations and lobbying firms to improve Russia’s image abroad—among them Ketchum, based in New York, which helped place an op-ed by Mr Putin in the New York Times. And it can rely on some of its corporate partners to lobby against policies that would hurt Russian business.

The West’s willingness to shelter Russian money, some of it gained corruptly, demoralises the Russian opposition while making the West more dependent on the Kremlin. Russian money has had a poisonous effect closer to home, too. Russia wields soft power in the Baltics partly through its “compatriots policy”, which entails financial support for Russian-speaking minorities abroad.

Mr Putin’s most devious strategy, however, is to destabilise the EU through fringe political parties (see article). Russia’s approach to ideology is fluid: it supports both far-left and far-right groups. As Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss put it in “The menace of unreality”, a paper on Russian soft power: “The aim is to exacerbate divides [in the West] and create an echo-chamber of Kremlin support.”

The Spectator 21 February 2015

I The Spectator skriver Anne Applebaum om ”Putin’s grand strategy”som inkluderar att manipulera val och finansiera politiska partier i Europa.

We’ve spent the past decade arguing about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, almost anything but Russia. Meanwhile, Russia has been pursuing a grand strategy designed to delegitimise Nato, undermine the EU, split the western alliance and, above all, reverse the transitions of the 1990s.

Much of the time, they are pushing on an open door. The Kremlin doesn’t invent anti-European or anti-establishment ideas, it simply supports them in whatever form they exist, customising their tactics to suit each country. They’ll support the far left or the far right — in Greece they support both. Despite its economic plight, the new Greek government’s first act was not a protest against European economic policy but a protest against sanctions on Russia. Only then did it tell its European creditors that it might not pay them back.

If need be, Russia will court select members of the political and financial establishment too. In Britain, Russia has friends in the City, but also sponsors RT, the propaganda channel which features George Galloway and other titans of the loony left. In France, Russia keeps in close touch with industrialists, but a Russian-Czech bank has loaned Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front €9 million, with another €30 million said to be on the way.

[…]

A little bit of money goes a long way in Czech politics too. The election campaign of the current president, Milos Zeman, was openly financed in 2013 by Lukoil, the Russian energy company. Since then President Zeman — who doesn’t, fortunately, control the government — has argued vociferously against Russian sanctions, dismissed the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a ‘bout of flu’ and invited western-sanctioned Russian oligarchs to Prague. Nor is he alone. In Prague, I was invited to debate a close associate of Vaclav Klaus, Zeman’s predecessor, who complained at length about the pernicious influence of Germany and the EU. I asked him whether German companies had ever paid for Czech presidential election campaigns, as Lukoil does. He couldn’t answer.

Läs mer:”De är Putins soldater på nätet” i Dagens Nyheter. Simon Shusters ”Inside Putin’s on-air machine” i Time.

Tidskriftsomslag: The Economist den 14-20 februari 2015. The Spectator den 21 februari 2015.

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RYSSLAND |Om kriget kommer” var en informationsskrift som förr delades ut till alla svenska hushåll. Men vad gör vi om kriget redan är här?

Axess nr 9 2014

Det har blivit alltmer uppenbart att Vladimir Putins propagandakrig är både effektivt och omfattande. Och som vanligt, är man böjd att säga, verkar Sverige ha tagits på sängen.

Innan man i den svenska samhällsdebatten är villig att ta hoten från Ryssland på allvar måste vi tydligen alltid genomgå en period av bortförklaringar och önsketänkande. Det kan väl inte vara så farligt? Putin är nog bara missförstådd.

Men nu har kanske naiviteten avlösts av en lite mer realistisk syn på regimen i Moskva. (Vi får kanske ”tacka” Putins invasion av Ukraina för det.)

Ett tecken i tiden är att denna månad släpper både månadsmagasinet Axess och veckomagasinet The Spectator ett nummer med exakt samma tema.

I Axess skriver författarinnan och dramatikern Sofi Oksanen om ”Putins finlandisering”.

Under den gångna hösten har såväl medier som statsmakt medgett att också Finland utsätts för det informationskrig som förs av Ryssland. Situationen är inte ny – det nya är att man erkänner det offentligt.

Verksamheten ger sig till känna på många sätt i vårt vardagsliv. Tidningarnas debattspalter har befolkats av en armé av internettroll som basunerar ut Moskva­vänliga åsikter och härjar till och med på babyforum som annars frekventeras av vanliga mammor. Den som följer nyheterna från Ryssland kan råka ut för betald Facebook-reklam där man hänvisar till sajter som driver Kremls agenda.

[…]

Mot finland använder sig Ryssland av taktiken piska och morot, välbekant från finlandiseringsåren. Då belönade man med handelsförmåner och skrämde med provokation. Så har också Aleksander Dugin, en av Putins chefsideologer, uppmanat Ryssland att hålla fast vid sina intressen i Finland just genom finlandisering. Det är inte konstigt, eftersom psykologisk krigföring alltid använder sig av förhärskande föreställningar och känslolandskap i det aktuella landet. Trots att Dugins läror på senare tid inte har uppmärksammats så mycket finns det skäl att minnas att hans verk Geopolitikens grunder (1997) tillhör den ryska arméns läroböcker. Finlandiseringen ligger Dugin så varmt om hjärtat att han skulle vilja sprida den över hela Europa.

[…]

Kärnan i det ryska informationskriget är upprepning och dess grundläggande budskap sprids ut över ett geografiskt vidsträckt område, under ett långt tidsspann. När dessa texter eller budskap citeras mångfaldigas de och slutligen ­försvinner den ursprungliga källan, men känslans sinnebild blir kvar. Och däri döljer sig desinformationens list.

[…]

Enligt den ryska krigföringsläran bör konstnärer, diplomater, sakkunniga, journalister, författare, förläggare, tolkar, specialister inom medier, internetplanerare och hackers ingå i de grupper som genomför informationsoperationerna. Om inte västerländska medier upphör att citera den ryska statsledningens tal eller börjar begränsa sina egna medborgares yttrandefrihet, så kommer budskapen från Kreml oundvikligen att tränga in i de fria medierna.

Ett sådant förfarande placerar västerländska medier i en svår situation och gör dem också sårbara: man kan inte kväva en medborgardiskussion och varje person med avvikande åsikter tillhör inte den ryska armén av internettroll. Enligt den ryska läran om krigföring ska informationskriget fortlöpande utkämpas i världens massmedier.

[…]

Eftersom ett varmt krig är kostsamt, utkämpar Ryssland sin kamp om lydländer och landområden med hjälp av ombud i andra länder och uppmuntrar lokala meningsskiljaktigheter, precis som i Ukraina, de baltiska länderna och i Finland. Ryssland kommer fortsättningsvis att använda sig av informativa och psykologiska medel även i framtiden, och med dessa medel fortsätter man att destabilisera väst – i väst. Hos oss och hos er.

The Spectator 6 December 2014

I “Moscow calling” är John O’Sullivan inne på samma tema i The Spectator. Hans fokus är på propagandakanalen RT som nyligen lanserat sin andra annonskampanj i landet.

Unlike rival broadcasters, Russia Today — or RT as it has rebranded itself since 2009 — has a growing -budget; President Putin himself is said to have intervened to protect it against cuts. The network now claims a worldwide audience of 700 million, a figure the old Voice of Russia could only dream about. It is widely present in social media, having 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, for instance. And it has achieved a largish cult following on the fringes of the left and the right in the West. Its audience seems to believe in RT’s marketing message — that the network covers the stories which the mainstream media ignores, such as Occupy Wall Street or WikiLeaks scandals.

[…]

The turning point is generally agreed to have occurred in 2008, when Russia provoked the Georgian government into an attempt to recover its lost province of Ossetia and promptly responded with an invasion and occupation of parts of Georgia. RT gave Putin cover with a jingoistic campaign that denounced the Georgians as genocidal. That campaign in turn now looks like a dry run for RT’s reporting and commentary on the Ukrainian crisis, which depicted the Kiev government as bloodthirsty neo-fascists intent on ethnic cleansing etc. — while depicting actual bloodthirsty neo-fascists (and Russian soldiers) in eastern Ukraine as peace-minded democrats.

If that were all, RT would be as ineffective as Radio Moscow used to be. Simple ideological abuse alerts people that they are being manipulated. But as Peter Pomerantsev explains in his forthcoming book on modern Russia, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, what makes RT more insidious is that it has most of the external features of legitimate western journalism:

Russia Today began to look and sound like any 24/7 news channel: the thumping music before the news flash, the earnest pretty newscasters, the jock-like sports broadcasters. British and American twentysomethings straight out of university would be offered generous compensation packages, where in London or Washington they would have been expected to work for free. Of course they all wondered whether RT would turn out to be a propaganda channel. ‘Well, it’s all about expressing the Russian point of view,’ they would say, a little uncertainly.

[…]

Western journalism is sometimes biased, usually unconsciously, but it is actuated by some concern for the truth which in major news organisations results, for example, in formal rules about sourcing. These rules are constantly examined and updated. Complete cynicism about such matters is rare and punishable — see, for instance, the fate of Stephen Glass, who invented stories out of whole cloth for the New Republic. But when Pomerantsev met the managing editor of RT in his office, he was told: ‘There is no such thing as objective reporting.’ And that mission statement goes far beyond a humble acceptance that reporting cannot overcome every bias; it treats the truth as something malleable in theory and determined by authority in practice.

Tidskriftsomslag: Axess, December 2014 och The Spectator den 6 december 2014.

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STRATEGI | Fabian Lindes analys av den politiska ideologin bakom Vladimir Putins utrikespolitik är nog det bästa som skrivits på svenska.

Internationella Studier nr 2 2014

Artikeln ”I huvudet på Vladimir Putin” borde vara obligatorisk läsning för alla som vill förstå Rysslands politik gentemot sina grannar.

Linde, som är forskare vid Uppsala Centrum för Rysslandsstudier, skriver i Internationella Studier att Putins ideologi brukar av forskare kallas ”civilisationsnationalism”.

Ideologin är ett hopkok där man kombinerar ”ett slags endemisk mångkulturalism, med ett värnande om ryskhetens centrala ställning.” I denna ideologi är den ryska staten allt.

Linde skriver:

Internationella studier nr 2 2014 1

Internationella studier nr 2 2014 2Internationella studier nr 2 2014 3

Om detta är sant är det inte bara Ukraina som ligger illa till. Alla länder – inklusive de tre baltiska länderna – har anledning att frukta Putins nästa steg.

Tidskriftsomslag: Utrikespolitiska institutets tidskrift Internationella Studier nr 2, 2014.

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IDEOLOGI Rysslands agerande i Ukraina har fått omvärlden att fundera över vad som ideologiskt driver Vladimir Putin.

Standpoint April 2014

Father of Russia’s conservatism” av Lesley Chamberlain, Standpoint

There’s nothing new about the Russian conservatism Putin stands for, and it is something worth understanding, even if it makes us weep with frustration at the heavy-handed seizing of Crimea and the evident will of most Ukrainians not to be subject to Russian rule.

Just as many liberal Western democracies trace their histories of tolerance and a sharp separation of church and state back to the Enlightenment, so Russia still seems to be fighting the French Revolution, the political climax of that period. Russian conservativism has its roots in resistance to the modern momentum of individualistic liberation. There was never a Russian Edmund Burke to make a sophisticated plea for the powers of tradition and community over rationality as a guide to how to live. But there was always the Orthodox Church to bluntly dismiss reason as anathema. And for three and half centuries there was a tsar to rule by divine authority.

Whenever I try to understand the authoritarian Russian way anew I have to think of a man who 50 years before Lenin and 150 before Putin spelt out the classic Russian formula: Orthodoxy, autocracy, nationality. Count Sergei Uvarov’s tripartite slogan of 1833 was conservative Russia’s answer to liberté, egalité, fraternité. It meant, in something closer to today’s terms, autocracy, religious authority and managed democracy. Many Russians seem to find that acceptable.

Standpoint March 2014

The Russian Enigma: Is The Bear Turning East?” av Walter Laqueur, Standpoint

”An elite without an ideology is a threat.” This is the central point in an article by Aleksei Podberezkin in the first issue of 2014 of the Moscow weekly Zavtra. This is the organ of the Russian far-Right, Podberezkin being a leading figure in these circles. He is a strong believer in Russian nationalism and therefore critical of the present state of affairs in Russia in which politicians are preoccupied with ”technical” issues such as macroeconomics, but he also wants to preserve much of Soviet Communism. As a politician he was not very successful: competing in the elections for the presidency of Russia he scored 0.1 per cent of the vote. But he still is a respected figure in these circles as a political thinker. Whether the absence of an ideology is really a threat is not at all clear; Russia has  suffered from many disasters in its history but they were more often caused by a surfeit of ideology rather than the absence.

But it is certainly true that the recent period in Russian history has been marked by the absence of an ideology (or doctrine or strategy) comparable to the past. This has been noted by many authoritative interpreters of the Russian political scene irrespective of their political orientation. To give but one example, Dmitri Trenin, head of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, wrote ten years ago that in Russia at present ideas hardly mattered and interests reigned supreme. The world view of Russian elites centred on financial interests.

Russia has had a national idea ever since the days of Filotel, a 16th-century monk in the city of Pskov who claimed that Moscow was the third Rome and that a fourth Rome would never be. The leaders and the political elites were always preoccupied with Russia’s destiny.

Tidskriftsomslag: Standpoint mars respektive april 2014. 

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INDIEN | På måndag blir Modi officiellt Indiens nästa premiärminister. Han har kallats både en modern Nero och Indiens Vladimir Putin!

New Statesman 9-15 maj 2014

Narendra Modi blev partiledare för det hindunationalistiska Bharatiya Janata Party efter att ha inlett sin politiska karriär i den paramilitära organisationen Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Grundaren av RSS beundrade bl.a. Adolf Hitler hantering av Tysklands minoriteter. Organisationen introducerade t.o.m. en egen hälsning; den skiljer sig bara från nazisthälsningen genom armens vinkel, horisontellt över bröstkorgen (se omslaget ovan).

BJP bildades med syfte att vara den politiska grenen av RSS. Många äldre medlemmar i partiet har även varit medlemmar i RSS.

Författaren William Dalrymple, som även är Indienkorrespondent för New Statesman, skrev strax innan valet en längre artikel om ledaren för världens största demokrati.

In the past few months he has been transformed into a hugely popular, even cult figure for many around India and is now widely admired by many who do not share his Hindu nationalism. This is because he has come to embody the collective longing, especially among India’s middle class of 300 million, for an economic rebirth of the nation: after all, under his stewardship, the economy of the state of Gujarat, for which he has been chief minister since 2001, has nearly tripled in size. He also has a reputation for decisiveness, getting things done, rooting out corruption, stimulating investment and slashing through the bureaucratic red tape and outdated, cumbersome regulations.

It is easy to understand why so many Indians feel a need for bold change and why the thought of another five years of a dithering, divided and corrupt Congress government fills them with dismay. But it is less easy to understand why so many are willing to overlook Modi’s extremely dodgy record with India’s religious minorities.

In 2002, the year after Modi became chief minister of Gujarat, as many as 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed and about 200,000 more displaced in an intercommunal bloodbath. Large numbers of girls were raped; men were cut to pieces and burned alive with kerosene or burning tyres. Pregnant women had their womb slit open and the foetuses smashed in front of their eyes. Modi, who prides himself on his hands-on administrative skills, was accused of allowing the 2002 riots to happen, or even of ordering the police to let the rioters get on with their work – something he has denied.

A report by Human Rights Watch asserted that his administration was complicit in the massacres. “The attacks were planned in advance,” a senior researcher for the organisation said, “and organised with the extensive participation of the police and state government officials.”

Modi has survived several formal investigations by the courts without conviction, but he has never apologised for his government’s failure to protect the minority or shown the slightest remorse for what happened. He refuses to answer questions about the riots. In a rare comment on the subject last year, he said he regretted the Muslims’ suffering as he would a “puppy being run over by a car”. Once he seemed to half-justify the actions of the rioters: in the US, he said, “An innocent Sikh was murdered after 9/11. Why? Because he looked like the terrorists. If the educated in America can get provoked, why use a different yardstick to evaluate Gujaratis?” On another occasion, even more chillingly, he told the Washington Post: “Why even talk about 2002? . . . It’s the past. What does it matter?” His only regret, he told the New York Times, was his failure to handle the media fallout.

[…]

On the campaign trail, whether from pragmatism or otherwise, Modi has largely kept his Hindu nationalism hidden and presented himself throughout as an able, technocratic administrator who can turn the country’s economy around and stimulate much-needed development.

[…]

What seems certain, however, is that, in the absence of any serious competition, the BJP’s Modi will be the man attempting to build the new coalition: not necessarily something to which his abrasive character will be suited. In voting like this, India is knowingly taking a terrific gamble on its future, in effect choosing to ignore Modi’s record on civil liberties and human rights in return for putting in place a strong and decisive leader who would be brave enough to make the difficult reforms and provide the firm governance and economic prosperity this country is craving.

Tidskriftsomslaget: New Statesman den 9-15 maj 2014.

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UKRAINA Kartor har i alla tider använts för att både roa och sprida propaganda. Här är tre tidskriftsomslag på temat rysk expansionism.

The Economist 19-25 April 2014

The Ukraine crisis: The boys from the blackstuff”. The Economist, 19-25 april 2014.

Russia’s short-term objective is to sabotage the elections. “National elections cannot take place without Donetsk,” says Maksim Shevchenko, a journalist close to the Kremlin. Its long-term aim is to stop Ukraine ever moving towards Europe. Given that the February revolution was powered by aspirations to do just that, this would provoke unrest in Kiev and in western Ukraine. That is not a problem for Mr Putin. Russia wants to turn Ukraine back into a buffer state, with a level of disorder it can turn up or down. In the end, Ukraine may end up barely a state at all.

Time 31 mars 2014

Old World Orderav Robert D. Kaplan. Time, 31 mars 2014.

So what has Putin done? The Russian leader has used geography to his advantage. He has acted, in other words, according to geopolitics, the battle for space and power played out in a geographical setting–a concept that has not changed since antiquity (and yet one to which many Western diplomats and academics have lately seemed deaf).

The Spectator 8 mars 2014

Europe’s nightmare neighbour” av John O’Sullivan. The Spectator, 8 mars 2014.

Much will depend on what we think Putin’s longer-term strategy is. Does he want to reverse the revolutions of 1989 and 1991 and restore Russian control over central and eastern Europe? Or does he have the lesser ambition — itself not an appealing prospect — of creating small wars and irredentist enclaves in countries formerly within the Soviet orbit to keep them under Moscow’s control? It is likely that he does not know the answer himself.

Om krisen i Ukraina har fört något gott med sig så är det att väst inte längre kan ignorera kopplingen mellan maktpolitik och geopolitik.

Det är bara att fråga Vladimir Putin. Han har säkert en karta med helt andra gränser än vad man sitter med i Washington, London och Bryssel.

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