Category Archives: Russia

New Syria Ceasefire

As reported in the news, the US and Russia have agree to enforce new Syria ceasefire. A new deal between the US and Russia to enforce a ceasefire in Syria has been reached, with the cessation of hostilities set to come into force on 27 February. A report by diplomatic editor of the Guardian is extracted below: The ceasefire, subject to the agreement between the warring parties, would exclude Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and other groups deemed to be terrorist organisations. Scepticism about whether it can be enforced will be widespread after a previous planned ceasefire failed to take place. Instead, Russia continued its bombing campaign, sieges of starving towns were never lifted and other confidence-building measures ignored. Continue reading

Syria: Partial Ceasefire Agreed

As reported, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, says the partial Syria ceasefire agreed at talks in Munich ‘will apply to any and all parties in Syria with the exception of the terrorist organisations Daesh and al-Nusra’. However, the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) on Syria conflict finds that in all, 11.5% of the country’s population have been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011. The number of wounded is put at 1.9 million. Life expectancy has dropped from 70 in 2010 to 55.4 in 2015. Posts on Syria’s war are available on Pakistan Horizon here, here, herehere and here.

Continue reading

Litvinenko Inquiry: President Putin ‘Probably’ Approved Murder

The following news is extracted from the BBC’s reporting today on the Litvinenko murder: The murder of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 in the UK was “probably” approved by President Vladimir Putin, a public inquiry finds. Mr Putin is likely to have signed off the poisoning of Mr Litvinenko with polonium-210 in part due to personal “antagonism” between the pair, it said. Home Secretary Theresa May said likely state involvement was deeply shocking. Mr Litvinenko’s widow welcomed the report, but the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was “politicised”. It said: “We regret that the purely criminal case was politicised and overshadowed the general atmosphere of bilateral relations.” It said the inquiry had “not been transparent”, saying it had not expected the process to be unbiased. Mr Litvinenko died aged 43 in London in 2006, days after drinking tea poisoned with the radioactive substance. He was a former Russian spy but fled to Britain where he became a fierce critic of the Kremlin. Two Russian men, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, deliberately poisoned Mr Litvinenko, the report said. They both deny killing him. Giving a statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May said the UK was to impose asset freezes on the two suspects. International arrest warrants against the two men remained Continue reading

Russia’s Gulags Remembered

In this excellent  piece entitled Russia’s Gulag camps cast in forgiving light of Putin nationalism Shaun Walker of the Guardian explains “many Russians regard the horrors of the forced labour camps as a necessary evil during a difficult period of Soviet history”. The article continues: In today’s Russia it is not fashionable to delve too deeply into Gulag history, and 60-year-old Panikarov’s collection is one of just two museums devoted entirely to the Gulag in the whole country. Indeed, even Panikarov himself has a somewhat surprising view of the Gulag system. “We should not have one-sided evaluations. People fell in love in the camps, people got pregnant; it wasn’t all bad,” he says, attributing negative information about the camps to a western campaign against Russia. “It was fashionable to say bad things about the USSR. Now it is again fashionable to insult Russia. We have sanctions against us. The west looks for negative things.” Panikarov’s views on the Gulag are part of a larger trend. With the Soviet victory in the second world war elevated to a national rallying point under Vladimir Putin’s presidency, the forced labour camps, through which millions of Soviet citizens passed, are seen by many as an unfortunate but necessary by-product. Continue reading

Ramzan Kadyrov: Putin’s Blunt Instrument

In yet another intriguing long read in The Guardian, Putin’s closest ally – and his biggest liability, Oliver Bullough is of the view that Chechen leader and Instagram king Ramzan Kadyrov is vulgar, vicious and very rich. Moreover, Bullough asks: is he out of control, or just the kind of blunt instrument the Russian president likes to have around? As far as I can see, this is a must read article for all PIIA members; see podcast. Furthermore, Oliver Bullough clarifies that: Ramzanism is almost the ur-expression of Putinism: equal parts bling, violence, nationalism, kleptocracy and religion. Bullough also says that: Kadyrov is essentially employed by Putin to stop Chechens from killing Russians, but he has also been linked to a long list of killings. The motives have tended to be, like Kadyrov himself, crude and straightforward: someone threatened his hold on power, and ended up dead. It is not easy to see why he would want rid of Nemtsov but, all the same, Kadyrov’s track record was sufficient for many people to view a motive as unnecessary. (Kadyrov’s spokesman, who I have known for a decade, did not respond to multiple requests via phone, text and email, for comment on this article.) “The crime clearly leads directly to Kadyrov. I cannot imagine that these men could commit such a terrible crime without, at the Continue reading