No Good Options for Russia in Navalny Case

‘Troubles come in threes’, goes the saying. Still struggling with the coronavirus, Russia’s leaders have this past week also been troubled by the protests in Belarus and the potential loss of a key ally. And now they face a third, and in some ways politically far more troublesome, problem – the suspected poisoning of Russian opposition activist Aleksei Navalny.

From the moment that Navalny fell ill on a plane travelling from the Siberian city of Tomsk, his supporters have accused the Kremlin of poisoning him and then endeavoring to cover up its crime by falsifying his medical diagnosis and delaying his transfer to Germany for treatment.

Western leaders are demanding that the Russian government institute a full and independent investigation into the apparent attempt on Navalny’s life. For instance, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said that, ‘It is imperative that the Russian authorities initiate an independent and transparent investigation into the poisoning of Navalny without delay.’

On Monday, the Kremlin rejected this demand. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that accusations that President Putin had personally ordered Navalny’s poisoning were ‘idle talk’. He quibbled that Navalny’s German doctors had not identified a poison in his body, merely an ‘effect’ – ‘lowered cholinesterase’ – which the Russian doctors had themselves discovered ‘in the first hours.’ If the Germans succeed in identifying a poison, said Peskov, ‘then, of course, this will be cause for an investigation’. Otherwise, no investigation was called for.

The Kremlin’s problem here is that in the eyes of the Western media, Western politicians, and no doubt the vast bulk of the population of most Western countries, it has no credibility on such matters at all. Previous cases, especially the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in England, have strongly entrenched the idea that Moscow is in the habit of murdering its political opponents. The attempts by the Kremlin and Russian media to deflect blame for the Skripal poisoning (as also with the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine) have also reinforced the impression that nothing the Russians say can be trusted. Faced with two diagnoses – one by Russian doctors saying that there was no poisoning, and one by German doctors saying that there was – the overwhelming majority of people in the Western world are going to favour the latter.

This has important geopolitical consequences. Perceptions of how regimes and individual leaders behave on the domestic scene impact perceptions of how they are likely to behave internationally. A state which habitually murders its own citizens, and then lies about it, is a state which cannot be trusted. Commenting on the Navalny case, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul commented that, ‘Putin is evil’. In the face of the announcement by the German doctors, this type of rhetoric is likely to find an ever more receptive audience.

There can be no doubt, therefore, that what has happened to Aleksei Navalny is very bad news indeed for Russia’s international reputation, and is yet another nail in the coffin of East-West relations. The question then arises of whether there is anything that Moscow can do to mitigate the damage.

Unfortunately for the Kremlin, it has few good options. Even if poisoning isn’t proven, doubts will remain. And if poisoning were to be established, and the Russian authorities were to carry out a thorough investigation which identified some culprits, and arrested and convicted them, it’s unlikely that critics would be satisfied. As with previous cases, such as the murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, sceptics would probably claim that those convicted were fall guys set up to hide the true guilty parties lurking deep in the corridors of power.

That said, failure to act would be even worse. Efforts to dismiss allegations against the Russian government by pointing out that that it has nothing to gain by killing Navalny, or by claiming that others were responsible, will simply lead to charges that Russia is engaging in propaganda and disinformation.

In these circumstances, the most sensible thing that those in power in Russia can do is treat the Navalny incident as a case of suspected attempted murder and do what foreign leaders are demanding – i.e. carry out a thorough and transparent investigation, ideally with the participation of an outside party. Only in this way can they hope to deflect the huge wave of criticism that is coming their way. Anything less will be treated as an admission of guilt.

64 thoughts on “No Good Options for Russia in Navalny Case”

  1. There is no presumption of innocence where Russia is concerned

    You don’t even give them the benefit of the doubt; which exposes yet again your own intrinsic bias.

    First, you quote Michael McFaul who has always held a negative view of the Russian government

    Secondly You don’t even discuss Navalny and his group and their role as a foreign agents in Russia. Which most Russians who have heard of him, know who pays him for his provocations.

    As long as the citizens of Russia know what is true and what is fake and what is conjecture – the Russian government have nothing to be concerned about

    Pleasing the western governments gets you know where – ask Lukashenko!!!!

    The western governments have shown themselves to be hypocrites of the highest order – I am in the UK where Julian Assange is slowly being tortured by the state – and no one is discussing that. Boris Johnson is not called “ evil” . It is not mentioned at all

    Whatever Russia does should satisfy its citizens and them alone .

    Your column on this subject shows that westerners are always going to think the worst – so you are best left to your thoughts it obviously fills a need to think the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is no doubt about British hypocrisy, especially concerning Assange. I have written on this subject myself. Indeed, even if the allegations concerning the Salisbury incident are true, what Britain is doing to Assange is vastly worse because, unlike Skripal, Assange is a freedom fighter rather than a paid informer. Yet talk of ‘intrinsic bias’ towards Russia really doesn’t get us anywhere. I don’t think it’s a helpful paradigm.

      I don’t think it is any more reasonable to accuse Navalny of serving foreign interests than levelling the same accusation at Tulsi Gabbard or Bernie Sanders, as has been argued in some circles. Navalny is an uninteresting, second-rate hack and, whatever funding he may have received from America’s National Endowment for Democracy, he is primarily a marginal home-grown phenomenon.

      It is true that some rumours have been invented, perhaps even fabricated, abroad and are wisely ignored by Moscow. Indeed editorial standards in western coverage of Russia is completely substandard. Yet this plainly isn’t the case with such things as MH17, where the evidence of separatist complicity is overwhelming whereas Russia released numerous statements on the subject, now known to be false.

      I’m a Russian citizen and I share your frustration with the lack of scrutiny concerning accusations levelled at Russia. Yet I would like to see more than just straightforward denials from Russian authorities and whining about Russophobia. Indeed, I was extremely sceptical of Russia’s role in the Salisbury incident until that nonsense about “солсберецкий собор” on RT.

      From mainstream media in the west, I’d like to see some attempt at objectivity. From Russian authorities, at least some attempt at transparency.


    2. Michael McFaul has been disproportionately featured at the homepage of Johnson’s Russia List. Hence, his getting a mention along with the likes of Mark Galeotti, unlike some competent, very well deserving others, who don’t play phony, croney, baloney, wonky tonk BS games.

      Regarding Navalny and Twitter’s supposed effort to blot out fake news:

      From the perspective of seeking a mutually beneficial improved US-Russian relationship, the above Tweet along with a number of her other comments, serve to underscore why it was appropriate to oppose Farkas’ recent Congressional bid. The eventual winner of that seat will at least not be as zealous as her, when it comes to spouting anti-Russian propaganda.

      And now for some “comparative politics”, which is said to be McFaul’s specialty.

      In the US, when law enforcement are attacked, or have had an unhealthy substance put in their drinks, it’s considered by many to be hyperbole to hold the Democrats directly responsible for such behavior. Likewise, with the Republicans, when people get attacked for reasons having to do with having a non-white skin complexion.

      On this matter of some people taking matters into their own hands in an unacceptable way, Russia has a somewhat similar situation, which appears worse in some ways. The BBC had a segment with former Brit ambassador Anthony Brenton, who said that he doesn’t believe the Russian government was involved in any poisoning of Alexei Navalny, a political activist with limited popularity in Russia and someone who has expressed views reasonably deemed as nationalist and insensitive to some minorities, along with having been accused of corruption – matters which Anglo-American mass media have very much downplayed.

      I disagree with Brenton’s suggestion that the Russian government was clearly involved in the poisonings of Alexander Litvinenko and the Skripals, as the evidence isn’t so clear, with other believable possibilities.


  2. It is a joke, not a poisoning. Told for the second time.
    It would be quite wrong for a serious country to react to it.
    1 million Ujghurs was a joke – impossible even if some pretended to take it seriously.
    The whole Hong Kong story was a joke – if media start by saying 1.5m demonstrators (because organisers said so while Police said 150k) you know you can get anything printed. The large protests were always about the HK administration, not Beijng.
    Belarus is a joke – lady Random Guiado got no more than 30% of votes – the story is not serious.
    Putin is a mega billionaire was a joke (not so much Medvedev).
    Skripal was a comic routine and Russian intervention in 2016 elections was made up because HRC was terrified of being accused over Uranium One.
    Russia would be quite wrong to start treating these jokes as if they required a response.


  3. Perhaps not so very off-topic: Nordstream II is almost complete and the Germans are in NATO’s bad books for allowing it to continue. Berlin has to make up for this by hosting Navalny and his groupie network.

    There have been reports about Navalny being diabetic and a coke fiend. His collapse in the plane could have been a diabetic episode. He had not eaten anything before boarding the plane. Disregard for one’s health and eating irregularly often go together with a long-term cocaine habit.


  4. It doesn’t matter what Russia does, in the Wests’ eyes, they are ‘the enemy’ and we all know that by the time ‘a thorough and open enquiry’ has been conducted the West will have invented another dozen fake/poorly researched ‘Russians are evil’ stories. It is endless propaganda and Russophobia and that is it. Russia is on its merry way with the Chinese, its a long hard furrow to plough but it will outlast the West, the collapse of the dollar is imminent soon to be followed by the end of the petro dollar scam by which the US takes money from everyone which it then invests in its military in order to then invade the same countries and steal their oil. Eurasia is interested less and less in the BS coming out of the EU, US and UK, leave them to themselves, they are overseeing their own destruction and the Russia/China distraction is just that. As is usual with the West there is no strategy, no end game (other than regime change, which will not happen) If it’s war they want they’ll get it and they will lose and I know there are still a few sane heads left in the US military who know that, so … the plan is the same failed colour revolution playbook … ad infinitum. The West just continually embarrasses itself on the world stage, over and over again, a sort of infantile, spoilt brat child constantly blaming everyone else for the fact that it shit its own pants. Russians don’t care anymore, the US have proved themselves as vipers and completely incapable of sane behaviour. Russia will stay the course and the West will fall apart, taking large parts of the world down in flames with it, but not Eurasia, the rest is just semantics. Yes, Russia are a superpower and have to deal with the West in several spheres on a daily basis, mostly protocol and militarily, which they will continue to do as professionals, anything other than that is surplus to requirements.They can leave the frankly idiotic Americans and the whiny ill informed ignorant and racist British establishment to spill its bile into the press, who cares? The reality is that by their very behaviour the West constantly indicates it has lost control of its bowels and are like an old intemperate dog farting and pissing itself only for domestic consumption, if I were Russian I doubt I would care a fig for what the western MSM or ‘elites’ thought, the West is no longer a foe to be respected but a deranged child to be tolerated until that final moment when it is slapped in the face and put to bed in its cot.


    1. yes, apparently both sets of doctors came up with the same results but their conclusions differed, of course that will not make it into the press. Any actual attempt at murder would be better investigated in Tomsk not Moscow. Navalny was investigating/exposing corruption involving the mayor(?) there. We’ve seen oligarchs and corrupt politicians ‘incapacitating’ their competitors and enemies, what better way to do it knowing that all attention would be directed at the Kremlin.


  5. Paul on Russia can only go so far, then the conventional wisdom of ‘his side’ (and job, one suspects) seems always to kick in.


    1. Nah, it’s just a new school/education year is kicking in his parts, so he and the likes of his are rushing to prove themselves “tough on Russia”. Because how otherwise can they maintain their academic bona fides (and lofty lifestyle), provided they kept mum and didn’t voice “politically correct” noises during this pan-Western Summer of Discontent?

      Tl;dr – Mr. Robinson is writing things like this for money. Not in the sense that he is paid to do that, but in the sense of maintaining one’s tenure in weaponized Academia during our Interesting Times. The fact, that Professor might have realized, that RT (and “The Regime”) “had” him, Highly Likely (c), contributed for the real feelings emanating from this, ah, “piece”.


      1. It is most regrettable that you choose to level libellous insults at esteemed academics who write in a balanced and sophisticated way about Russia. Can you not cope with anything less crude and pseudo patriotic than Kiselyov and co?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “It is most regrettable that you choose to level libellous insults at esteemed academics who write in a balanced and sophisticated way about Russia.”

        >esteemed academics
        >balanced and sophisticated writing about Russia


        I can say with light heart and unburdened conscience, that,no, I did not engaged in “libel” against “esteemed academics who write in a balanced and sophisticated way about Russia” (c)

        “Can you not cope with anything less crude and pseudo patriotic than Kiselyov and co?”

        Don’t watch Kiselyov, have no idea what his latest talking points are. You, Grisha, OTOH, resort to stereotyping of your fellow Russian citizen.

        P.S. Btw, I ask you once again – чей Крым, Гриш?


      3. In which case, you clearly lack an understanding of the word ‘libel’. Did you read Prof Robinson’s (excellent) study of Russian conservative thought? Do you actually engage with the arguments in his blog posts? His work is fantastic, well-researched and extremely balanced. (If you don’t think it is, you should look at the likes of Snyder, Kuzio or Applebaum.) And yes, he is held in high esteem in academic circles. Yet you keep levelling false and poorly argued accusations of Russophobia at him as well as other ad hominem insults. Honestly, why is it that Russian квасные патриоты resort to tactics practised by ‘woke’ teenagers in the UK? I fervently defend Russia against genuine Russophobes in Britain, but folks like you make it very difficult.

        Regarding the Kiselyov reference, I am not engaging in stereotypes. It derives from the content and analytical value of your comments rather than your national origin.

        Regarding Crimea, I didn’t initially answer your question because you approached me with completely unwarranted personal abuse. Under international law it belongs to Ukraine. That is not even controversial, no matter how you quote (or misquote) the UN Charter and other relevant treaties. It is illegal to take capture territory by force, irrespective of the will of the local population. The people of Crimea quite clearly do support union with Russia and returning it to Ukrainian jurisdiction, as advocated by some westerners, would be harmful. Personally, I am happy that the peninsula is administered by Russia. I was there a couple of years ago. Yet, from a legal standpoint, my answer is unambiguous and concurs with the non-controversial position articulated above. I do not find it necessary to delude myself in order to love my country of birth.

        Also, may I remind you, “Ты мне не тычь!”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The establishment options running counter to him aren’t better. At the same time, there’s good reason to disapprovingly note some court appoint handshake worthy attributes like what’s linked (like Meduza) and not linked (Strategic Culture Foundation-SCF), as well as some comments about Global Research and the SCF, which can be reasonably viewed as snide and in line with establishment biases.

        RT could and should be better.


      5. “Under international law it belongs to Ukraine. That is not even controversial, no matter how you quote (or misquote) the UN Charter and other relevant treaties.”


        How neolibs. neocons and flat out Russia haters deal with Kosovo, northern Cyprus, Golan Heights.


      6. @Mikhail. There is no question that western states violate international law and territorial integrity of certain countries as in the examples you’ve mentioned (and plenty of others too – East Cuba, West Bank). Indeed I get very concerned when Russia’s actions are portrayed as if they are without precedent. Broadly, I’m very happy that Crimea is under Russian jurisdiction and I don’t want it returned to Ukraine. But that the initial annexation/reunification (call it what you will) was illegal is unquestionable.


      7. “But that the initial annexation/reunification (call it what you will) was illegal is unquestionable.”

        How so? The state of Ukraine collapsed in February 2014, and consequently one of its provinces declared independence. What’s illegal here, other than the coup in Kiev that destroyed the state?

        You do a violent takeover in the capital city, and then complain that rejecting the legitimacy of your regime in provinces is illegal? That’s a bit much, methinks.


      8. @Mao Chen Ji. The Ukrainian state didn’t collapse. It had an unconstitutional change of government/coup, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that the Ukrainian state ceased to exist or that its constitution lost legal value. The statement that violation of the constitution by the legislature nullifies its legal value simply isn’t true. Besides, it’s not how state succession works in international law and it certainly doesn’t permit foreign military intervention. Furthermore, the authority of the new Crimean Parliament was illegitimate as Aksyonov was “elected” in a building besieged by Russian troops and in violation of parliamentary rules.

        Russian soldiers had no right to operate outside the naval base as established by the Kharkov Accords. As you know under international law, use of force is permitted if sanctioned by UNSC, in response to an invasion (article 51 of UN Charter) or if invited by the authorities of the country (in this case, the Verkhovna Rada as stipulated by the Ukrainian Constitution, not the outgoing President Yanukovych). None of these conditions applied here. Whether you consider their response to be justified on moral/strategic grounds is a separate matter. The legal position remains unchanged.

        Under international law, it is illegal to conquer territory through military force regardless of the will of the local population


      9. “It had an unconstitutional change of government/coup, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that the Ukrainian state ceased to exist or that its constitution lost legal value.”

        But of course it does.

        “The statement that violation of the constitution by the legislature nullifies its legal value simply isn’t true.”

        What ‘legislature’? The party of regions had (iirc) an absolute majority in the parliament in February 2014. Several attacks, burning the headquarters, the coup, and this party is nowhere to be seen. Disappeared. Another party, the communists, was banned altogether.

        It wasn’t a “violation of the constitution by the legislature”. It was a complete takeover of the whole government apparatus by outsiders. The presidency, the parliament, and all state agencies.

        I dunno. Suppose a ship is taken over by pirates. Are you saying the sailors who jump the ship are deserters, because one of the pirates is now wearing captain’s uniform?

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Mao Cheng Ji, the legal position isn’t controversial. It is true, the ‘impeachment’ of Yanukovych was unconstitutional: the Verkhovna Rada lacked the necessary quorum and the constitutional court did not review the matter as per the legal requirements. Yet the constitutional crisis did not amount to a collapse of the Ukrainian state or the abrogation of relevant treaties.

        Regarding the secession issue, territories may be allowed to secede, however, this plainly wasn’t what happened. The change of local government in Crimea, with the building besieged by the ‘polite people’, was illegal and the secession from Ukraine was intended as a prelude to absorption by Russia who also coordinated the affairs. The presence of Russian troops outside Sevastopol without invitation from the Verkhovna Rada (not the president) was illegal under both the UN Charter and the Kharkov Accords.

        Gaining territory through military force is illegal. This even applies in the case of defensive force by states invoking article 51 of the UN Charter. Nor does it depend on the will of the local population.

        The moral/strategic case is obviously more complicated. I do believe that Russian concerns about NATO encroachment were justified (esp. concerning potential Ukrainian membership as proposed at the Bucharest Summit) and there is no question that Crimea genuinely did vote to join Russia as confirmed by subsequent polling. There may have been strategic and legal alternatives (as proposed by Henry Kissinger at the time) that would have served Russian interests better: while gaining Crimea, Putin has irreversibly lost Ukraine and we now face a generation of Ukrainians who hate us with a passion. What’s more Russo-Ukrainian peace is now very difficult because the constitutions of both countries would make concessions on Crimea very difficult.


      11. “Yet the constitutional crisis did not amount to a collapse of the Ukrainian state or the abrogation of relevant treaties.”

        Like I said, outsiders taking over all government institutions is, without a doubt, a collapse of the state.

        Was the 1917 October revolution in Russia a constitutional crisis? And if so, do Poland and Finland legally belong to the Russian Federation?

        The rest of your comment makes even less sense, imo. There were no buildings “besieged by the ‘polite people’” as far as I know. If some units of the Russian navy did help maintain law and order in the context of collapsing state institutions, I see no problem whatsoever with that. In fact, it would’ve been criminal (in the colloquial sense) to refuse doing it.

        There was no “secession from Ukraine”, because there was no Ukraine at that time. Ukraine, as the geopolitical entity created in 1991, came to an end and ceased to exist. It’s gone. Just like the geopolitical entity known as ‘the Russian Empire’ disappeared in 1917.

        Most definitely, there wasn’t any “gaining territory through military force”, as the population had decided to join the Russian Federation through a referendum.

        And yes, under the circumstances, the will of the local population — and of course the ability to implement it — is all that matters. Just like Finland in 1917.


      12. I’m afraid Mao Cheng Ji’s and Lyttenburgh’s legal analysis (as well as specific events of 2014 and historical analogies) displays a jaundiced and ill-informed view of international and Ukrainian law. It shows a lack of understanding of basic principles of self-determination and state succession, especially uti possidetis juris which as stipulated by the Vienna Convention of 1978 reaffirms that the formation of a new state within Ukraine (which isn’t what happened anyway) wouldn’t undermine its territorial integrity. You also clearly don’t understand international law on use of force which clearly forbids deployment of Russian forces outside Sevastopol as stipulated by the Kharkov Accords. The legal position isn’t controversial and it isn’t patriotic to delude yourself.

        I have no intention of responding to Lyttenburgh’s poorly argued and badly written rendering of international law, particularly since much of it is recycled propaganda from Russian diplomatic speeches dating back to 2014. In short, a physicist will not debate a flat-earther.


      13. Oh, please. Are you a Revolution of Dignity denialist?

        Are you going to stick with your theory of a “constitutional crisis” despite the Maidan government itself proudly identifying it as a glorious revolution? Have you no respect for the Heavenly Hundred and their ultimate sacrifice?


  6. “A state which habitually murders its own citizens, and then lies about it, is a state which cannot be trusted.”

    “[I]s yet another nail in the coffin of East-West relations.”

    Wrong – it’s another sympton of constantly worsening Russia-West relations. You, Professor, mistake cause and effect. The entire “civilized World” ™ basically allowed Prince Salman to chop a troublesome journo with no consequences. Why? Because Saudi Arabia is “a key ally” (c).

    Priniciples does not matter.

    “[A]nd do what foreign leaders are demanding – i.e. carry out a thorough and transparent investigation, ideally with the participation of an outside party.”

    I have a counter-offer. The West goes and blows itself. Let us not pretend that Russia’s submitting to the foreign dictat would SOMEHOW prevent the de-facto Cold War that is already going on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exploiting the death of George Floyd here is crude and improper. Furthermore, there is a difference between political murder allegedly sanctioned at a high level and an attack by a rogue policeman, symptomatic of a long history of racism and police brutality but not directly implicating the incumbent government. Also, Floyd was killed in Minnesota by a policeman who violently restrained him. Litvinenko was killed in the UK using a radioactive isotope and Skripal was allegedly targeted using a chemical weapon. Disgusting as Floyd’s murder was, it was an internal affair whereas the latter took place on foreign soil and had international security implications.

      I agree that international relations are not guided by moral principles and double standards certainly apply, however, incidents like these can serve to undermine trust. UK-Russia relations were relatively good at the time of the Litvinenko murder. Why did the UK allow them to sour in the aftermath?

      I also agree that Russia doesn’t owe anyone an investigation concerning Navalny. It is an internal affair. Yet cooperation and transparency are important where other states are involved. Wouldn’t you like more transparency from Moscow on issues such as MH17? Were you convinced by the ramblings on RT about the “солсберецкий собор”?


      1. Exploiting the death of George Floyd here is crude and improper.”


        I’m Russian, Grisha. You, despite holding RF citizenship, is thoroughly Western. I will do whatever I deem necessary while ignorying cockrell cries from the usual parts.

        “Furthermore, there is a difference between political murder allegedly sanctioned at a high level and an attack by a rogue policeman, symptomatic of a long history of racism and police brutality but not directly implicating the incumbent government. “

        Brought to you by:

        “Disgusting as Floyd’s murder was, it was an internal affair whereas the latter took place on foreign soil and had international security implications.”


        “UK-Russia relations were relatively good at the time of the Litvinenko murder. Why did the UK allow them to sour in the aftermath?”

        UK-Russia relations began deteriorating the very second Boris Abramovich Berezovsky chose for his personal galut Britain’s welcoming shores.

        “Wouldn’t you like more transparency from Moscow on issues such as MH17?”

        No, because Russia is (legally) not a part of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine. It’s Ukraine who needs more transparency.

        “Were you convinced by the ramblings on RT about the “солсберецкий собор”?”

        I’m Russian, so I don’t watch RT. Its intended auditory are foreigners. Also, its “солсберийский собор” wherever you look it up.


      2. Never mind the lack of transparency with the UK Skripal investigation.

        Not sure about Litvinenko getting murdered as there’s another possibility, based on what’s known and not known.


      3. @Mikhail fully agree with you regarding lack of transparency on the UK side concerning Skripals. The news coverage of the affair was pathetic in the west. Doesn’t mean I uncritically accept Russia’s version of events regarding that, Litvinenko or anything else.


    2. I’d prefer it if you stuck to the argument rather than discussing my citizenship.

      You are quite clearly exploiting the death of George Floyd to advance a nationalist agenda. Horrible as the murder of George Floyd was, I simply do not think it is a workable analogy. America has a horrible problem with racism and police brutality, however, that is a domestic problem. Incidentally, insofar as police brutality takes place inside Russia’s borders, I would absolutely agree that the US has no business lecturing Russia on that. The attack on Litvinenko was, however, an international affair. You didn’t really answer the rest of my point re Floyd (I’ll ignore the memes, particularly since I’m a fervent critic of UK-Saudi relations) so I’ll move on.

      I think we both know what’s going on re MH17. We both know the conspiracy theories – thoroughly debunked – about the Ukrainian pilot and other clear examples of obfuscation on Moscow’s side including abuse of veto power at the UN.

      Regarding the unusual spelling of the cathedral, it was deliberate satire. The interview in question became notorious for peddling a preposterously unlikely story of two tourists who came to Salisbury to see that cathedral, one of whom mispronounced the cathedral’s name. Perhaps prior to mockery, you will next time choose to research your point properly.


      1. “You are quite clearly exploiting the death of George Floyd to advance a nationalist agenda”

        You are engaging in strawmanning, Grisha. Again. If you’d actually examined the pic I linked, you’d notice, that this mural includes the caption of “Say our names”, followed by the names of all those “neutralized” (to use the proper American law-enforcement agencies term) over the years. This pic is a most graphic – and pointed – response to Professor Robinson’s words: “A state which habitually murders its own citizens, and then lies about it, is a state which cannot be trusted.” (c).

        Judging by you absolutely hysterical reaction (one, that, sadly, is the result of you being cross-cultural mule) shows that what I did hit home the soft point of yours, and of the Western (mainstream) outlook in general.

        But, OTOH, if you objection for me to use George Floyd’s visage is making you incapable of coherent conversation, perhaps it’s because you’d prefer me to post a different kind of picture – like this one:

        “The attack on Litvinenko was, however, an international affair.”

        No, it was just an example of the internecine struggle inside cut-throat Londongrad community of oligarchs, criminals and “exiles”. An internal affair of the Misty Albion, totally of its own making.

        “I think we both know what’s going on re MH17.”

        You’d been shown many, many times, Grisha, that you assume wrong on behalf of other people here. Keep doing it to show how ridiculous you are.

        Besides, nothing you said changes the fact, that Russia is (legally) not a side of the conflict in Donbass. To ask (let alone – demand) anything from us in this regard is not only illegal, but also a sheer folly. You seem to like international law so much – why not in this case?

        “The interview in question became notorious for peddling a preposterously unlikely story of two tourists who came to Salisbury to see that cathedral, one of whom mispronounced the cathedral’s name.”

        Oh, I know of these tourists! There’s a lovely game about them:

        No mispronunciation here, nope 🙂


  7. . ……Even the Financial Times, no friend of Putin, said in an August 21 editorial:

    “………“Mr. Navalny made enemies across Russia’s business and political class. If he was poisoned, there is no certainty the authorities or state-linked articles were responsible.”

    In the interests of fairness, we need consideration of all myriad possibilities, not a rush to convenient judgment. “

    Liked by 4 people

  8. In these cases of poisonings, airliners being shot down, journalists being killed, it is important to ask, qui bono, who benefits? It may look bad for Russia, but those attuned to reading beyond the headlines see several likely false flag operations against Russia. What if it’s not the evil Putin, but the evil CIA?


    1. I don’t find the cui bono argument in support of false flag theories to be convincing. It goes round in circles and seldom proves anything. It’s pure speculation. How can anyone prove that Putin had nothing to gain from the death of Litvinenko or that the CIA had a greater incentive to make Putin look bad, especially back in 2006? For MH17, it more closely resembles a tragic accident than an organised conspiracy.


  9. G.S. Matyunin,

    On Litvinenko, you would be unwise in the extreme to accept anyone’s claims uncritically.

    To see some of the problems with the version which is now practically universally accepted in the West, all you need to do is go to the archived website of the Inquiry conducted into his death by Sir Robert Owen, and compare the ‘narrative’ set out in his report, published in January 2016, which is the basis of that version, with some of the ‘small print’ of the ‘Evidence’ submitted to the Inquiry.

    (See .)

    On pages 279-80 of the report you will find the ‘timeline’ of Litvinenko’s movements in central London on 1 November 2006, the day he was supposedly poisoned, on which its conclusions rest.

    You will see that he is supposed to have travelled, by bus and tube, from his home in Muswell Hill to Oxford Circus, arriving there at 13:34.

    His only visit to the offices of the late Boris Berezovsky at 7 Down Street is supposed to have been after the meeting at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel, timed at 16:00-16:30, at which, according to Owen, Andrei Lugovoi and/or Dmitri Kovtun poured polonium into Litvinenko’s green tea.

    If you scroll down further, to page 315 of the report, you will find ‘Appendix 8: Key Documents’.

    These include Letranet reference INQ018243, ‘Maps showing the movements of Alexander Litvinenko on 1 November 2006.’ Actually the link is to the original website, and so does not work – one needs to go to the ‘Evidence’ page on the archived site, and search for that reference.

    It is well worth the trouble, which nobody in the Western MSM appears to have taken. So, for instance, you will find it asserted, at entry 7 on the maps, that Litvinenko visited Berezovsky’s offices at ‘13:40 approximate’, on the authority of a statement by the security guard there.

    The clear suggestion that Litvinenko visited 7 Down Street before, as well as after, the Pine Bar meeting, and the fact that there appears to have been a statement saying this, obviously raises questions both as to whether Owen’s ‘timeline’ is fraudulent, and also whether he deliberately suppressed critical evidence.

    It would seem that there may also be an amusing parallel between the picture of events in London in November 2006 and those in Stalin-era Moscow in Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘The Master and Margarita.’

    To make the ‘timeline’ in the maps work, it would seem one would need to imagine that the late Boris Berezovsky had some of the powers which his creator attributed to the academic expert on black magic, Woland, who turns out to be Satan in disguise.

    Admittedly, to turn up at 7 Down Street at 13:40, having arrived at Oxford Circus at 13:34, only involves crossing Mayfair in six minutes, not quite as remarkable a feat as the sudden appearance of the Variety Theatre manage Stepa Likhodeev in Yalta, when he had been in his flat in Moscow very shortly before.

    However, ‘a miss is as good as a mile’, and as anyone familiar with that part of London can tell you, and as the invaluable ‘Citymapper’ app will confirm, the quickest way of making it from the top right corner of Mayfair to the bottom left would take you almost twice that time. Perhaps Berezovsky’s companions, like those of Woland, were able to fly.

    Why, however, if their timing was only approximate – and the security guard’s statement apparently only said Litvinenko’s visit was between 13:00 and 14:30 – did the detectives not avoid this apparently absurd suggestion, by putting, for instance, ‘14:00 approximate’, which would have allowed twenty-six minutes for him to make a leisurely walk through the back streets?

    And then, if one consults entry 8, it does indeed begin to look as though Berezovsky and his associates must have had powers exceeding those of Woland and his companions.

    The next item relating to Litvinenko in Owen’s ‘timeline’, after his arrival at Oxford Circus at 13:34, is actually at 14.00, at which time we are told, ‘AL briefly visited DA (Dean Attew) at Titon, 25 Grosvenor Street.’

    The fact that accordingly to the maps Litvinenko left the Titon offices at ‘14:30 approximate’ sits slightly uneasily with Owen’s ‘visited briefly’, but the more serious problem is that, according to entry 8, ‘Litvinenko walked to Dean Attew’s office at Titon 25 Grosvenor Street’ at ‘15:55 approximate.’

    So, according to the detectives who prepared the maps, Litvinenko arrived at Dean Attew’s offices just five minutes before turning up at the Millennium, where Lugovoi and Kovtun were waiting with the polonium to poison him, but left there almost an hour and half earlier.

    While Woland and his associates do habitually fly, I cannot recall any of them travelling back in time, so might seem, as it were, that Berezovsky and his associates could teach them a thing or too about black magic.

    One possible explanation, of course, is that, rather like Likhodeev in the novel, the detectives were totally incompetent. And perhaps, like him, they had drunk too much spirits and followed it up with port – mixing grain and grape is not usually good for the concentration.

    There is however an alternative possibility which could put the maps, and their makers, in a much more favourable light, and Owen in an even less favourable one.

    It could be that they were simply not in a position to produce an accurate account of the results of their investigation, because it was always intended to conceal the truth rather than reveal it, and trying to provide an accurate account of the evidence would thus been, if not quite as risky as doing so in the cases of Bukharin or Tukhachevskii, dangerous enough.

    In situations candour is unsafe, people not uncommonly resort to what the intellectual historian and political theorist Leo Strauss called ‘esoteric writing’: of which one can indeed find interesting examples from Soviet history.

    Put crudely, this means ‘talking out of both sides of one’s mouth’, so that what one produces appears to support a ‘narrative’, but actually leaves indications which people with the wit to see can pick up, that one thinks it nonsense.

    And the more closely one looks at the maps, I think, the more evident it becomes that what the relevant people in Counter Terrorism Command produced was indeed a particularly ingenious example of ‘esoteric writing’, which among other things includes at least one very good joke.

    The likely explanation of the ‘reverse time travel’ is that there were at least two, and indeed probably more, visits by Litvinenko to Titon, just as the likely implication of the claim about the 13:40 visit is that there were at least two, and probably more, visits by him to 7 Down Street.

    An amusing feature of the maps, however, is that the timeline to which they point, which has Litvinenko starting out for central London, by car, before 09.00, with the clear implication that he spent the whole morning in central London, rather than arriving well into the afternoon, is one which there is strong reason to believe was known to the Russian security services all along.

    (To see why I think the detectives were telling me that this was when and how the journey into central London was made, try putting the postcode referred to in those entries, N10 1DT, into ‘Google Maps’ and ‘Google Earth.’)

    If one reflects on the implications of the ‘timeline’ that begins to emerge, it looks as though we may be dealing with a not uncommon phenomenon, where exchanges of melodramatic accusations and counter-acccusations serve to hide the fact that those making them have a disguised common interest in obscuring what actually happened.

    That said, there is one sense in the late Boris Berezovsky does indeed seem to have had hypnotic powers rather reminiscent of those attributed to Woland, at least by the Moscow police, when they were trying rational sense of the mayhem he and his associates had caused.

    Last November, the ‘Global Investigations Editor’ of ‘BuzzFeed’, Heidi Blake, formerly with the ‘Insight’ team at the ‘Sunday Times’, published a book-length version of the ‘From Russia With Blood’ series, originally published on the site in June 2017.

    (For the original series, see .)

    As with Owen’s report, reading Ms. Blake’s work did make me suspect that these people may have read too much Enid Blyton when young.

    The actual lesson from both, I think, is that the ‘narrative’ of the Putin ‘sistema’ as the ‘return of Karla’ which was disseminated by Berezovsky and his ‘information operations’ people seems to have hypnotised élites in Washington, as well as London, with a quite remarkable degree of success.

    As a consequence, they sided with that figure and his associates in what was, in essence, an attempt to repeated the supposed success of the 1996 presidential election in Russia. It was as a result of this that London, and Britain more generally, did indeed become the scene of some very bizarre events indeed.

    Without doubt, the Russian authorities have plenty they want to hide about some of these.

    However, in those cases about which I know something – those of Litvinenko, Berezovsky himself, his long-term partner ‘Badri’ Patarkatsishvili, the lawyer Stephen Curtis, who acted for them and the Menatep people, and Sergei and Yulia Skripal – the notion that they were the victims of Russian-sponsored assassination plots is patent BS.

    And frankly, if one does decide to get involved in a ‘bare knuckles fight’ between Putin and his ‘siloviki’ associates and the members of the ‘semibankirshchina’ of the ‘Nineties who refused to accept the – hardly so very unreasonable – terms he offered, one really is asking for trouble.

    Those who actually encourage Woland to commit mayhem can hardly be surprised if they get more of that commodity than they anticipated.

    Of course, if Paul wants to censor this comment, I shall fully understand. An unavoidable conclusion, however, would be that, on this point at least, it would be rather difficult for any reasonable person, seriously concerned to follow evidence where it leads, to disagree with some of the key arguments Lyttenburgh has made.


      1. He has been good with the comments section, in contrast to some of what is and isn’t linked here, as well as some who do and don’t get mentioned in blog posts.


  10. Crimea was not annexed. With the assistance of foreign powers, there was a coup/putsch in Kiev in Feb. 2014. The putschists were violently hostile to millions of citizens of old Ukraine. They were called terrorists, Colorado beetles — nuke them. Crimeans and others rejected the putschists and their foreign helpers. Is that a surprise? With foreign help the putschists destroyed the state of old Ukraine and they destroyed the boundaries of old Ukraine. By May and Oct. of 2014 when new elections were held in the new (remaining) Ukraine, the state-of-affairs had changed. New state, different boundaries, another gov’t. Even the new boundaries are in dispute. Is that a surprise? Had Galicia faced violently hostile putschists in Kyiv, would you dispute their right to leave old Ukraine? The 2014 putsch assisted by foreign powers was in accord with which international law?


    1. An annexation, as defined by international law, is the acquisition of foreign territory without the consent of the government which previously had jurisdiction over it. The moral arguments have no bearing over the use of the legal term or the legality of Russia’s use of force.

      There is no question that the Maidan coup was violent and in violation of Ukrainian law. Equally, Victoria Nuland and others violated international law and acted extremely irresponsibly by lending support to the demonstrators. I am not surprised the coup was rejected in Southeastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula. Russia’s strategic calculations and concerns over NATO expansion are also clear and understandable. Indeed I have visited the peninsula and a friend of mine actually participated in the events of 2014. I love my country of birth and, broadly speaking, I am pleased that Crimea is reunited with Russia. Still, that has no bearing on the legality of the proceedings. And it is indeed unfortunate that the move served to destabilise the situation in Ukraine.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, for the love of God, this is such bullshit!
    Come on, Professor, you are better than this, Navalny “poisoning” — even a child can see that this is just another CIA provocation.

    What do they need this time? A casus belli?
    Navalny is such a spent too, CIA maybe decided it’s time he started earning his paycheck again.
    He will join the Skripals in that CIA version of Valhalla….


      1. Thanks, Moon! I was kinda proud of that Lear analogy, myself.
        By the rules of the same metaphor, I believe that Goneril = Tikhanovskaya? No?


      2. Yep, I realized, and yes. I was a bit puzzled about your Goneril reference. Maybe I have to give her a chance after all these years:

        Lear. And my poor fool is hang’d! No, no, no life!
        Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
        And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,
        Never, never, never, never, never!
        Pray you undo this button. Thank you, sir.
        Do you see this? Look on her! look! her lips!
        Look there, look there! He dies.


      3. Well, it’s pretty dramatic, of course. Lear realizes his own folly, and how Cordelia has been loyal to him all this time, while the other girls have just been following their own, selfish goals. Goneril and Regan equally disloyal and power-hungry.
        I had to pick one of them to be Tikhanovskaya, so I arbitrarily chose Goneril, only because the name is so funny. Sounds like Gonorrhea!


  12. The best option for the Russia government in this case is to make sympathetic noises but do absolutely nothing. Let the Germans get out of the situation they so stupidly got themselves into. Let the German government accuse and make as complete a fool of itself as the British government has.
    As to the investigation, it’d be a wasted effort. The West couldn’t care less for Navalny or anyone else. It’d use the exact same narrative regardless of what Russia does or what the facts of the matter are. Russia should just ignore the whole fuss as I am sure it will.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Now, for the benefit of young Grisha M. here. This stuff ought to be re-posted once in a while. About Crimea and legality of its reunion with the Russian Federation.

    1. Legality of the Referendum vis-à-vis the Constitution of the Ukraine.

    According to the Art. 5 of the Constitution of the Ukraine “The people are the bearers of sovereignty and the only source of power in Ukraine… No one shall usurp state power.” (укр. «Носієм суверенітету і єдиним джерелом влади в Україні є народ…Ніхто не може узурпувати державну владу»)

    As you all know, at the time when the Referendum took place in Crimea, there was no legally elected government in Ukraine. After coup d’état, President Yanukovych and the Ukraine’s legitimate government were overthrown without any impeachment procedures being followed.

    Post-coup Ukrainian authorities (and Grisha – and Westies – after them) claim that the legitimate Verkhovna Rada appointed a new government, as it was necessary to govern the state, thus claiming the continuity and, therefore, the legitimacy. However, in the Ukraine, as nearly everywhere else, the state power is divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches, which provides a system of checks and balances. Each branch of government has strictly defined functions.

    In accordance with Art. 112 of the Constitution of the Ukraine (before the fraudulent amend that happened at 02.21.2014), “[i]n the event of the pre-term termination of authority of the President of Ukraine”, his powers are transferred to the Prime Minister. In violation of this provision, on February 21, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada appointed acting President Turchinov, who in turn illegally appointed a new government.

    The usual parties may object and point out, that the Verkhovna Rada changed Article 112 of the Constitution of the Ukraine, and these amendments made it possible to appoint Turchinov (as the head of the Verkhovna Rada) an acting President. However, the law that changed the Constitution of the Ukraine (allowing the appointment of Turchynov as the head of the Verkhovna Rada to be acting President), Turchynov signed already in the status of acting President! The (rhetorical) question is – on what basis?

    So, as you can see, it turns out that the parliament of the Ukraine illegally took over the functions of the executive power, which makes its power in general illegitimate. What would’ve the “opposition” say if Yanukovych ordered the arrest of all members of parliament (despite their immunity), forced them to flee the country, and then single-handedly approved laws without the consent of Rada? That’s right – they’d call him a usurper. But the Verkhovna Rada did the same!

    In such a situation, when state institutions are destroyed and do not function, what should have guided the people of Crimea? Only their own will and generally recognized norms of the international law.

    The UN Charter and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights state that all peoples have the right to self-determination (grandpa Lenin’s favorite topic, btw, which ended up in the UN Charter thanks to the victorious USSR). By virtue of this right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. All States, which are parties to this Covenant must, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter, promote the exercise of the right to self-determination and respect this right.

    In a situation of a legal vacuum, when the central authorities were formed and acted contrary to the Constitution and the will of the people (recall first legislative initiatives of the post-Maidan regime), in a democratic state the people have the right to directly express their will, including self-determination – up to secession.

    2. International law on inviolability of the borders and territorial integrity.

    The Declaration of Principles of International Law states that in the actions of states “nothing should be interpreted as authorizing or encouraging any actions that would lead to the dismemberment or partial or complete violation of the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent states that observe the principle of equality in their actions and self-determination of peoples”.

    It is clearly stated, that the principle of territorial integrity applies only to sovereign states that respect the equality and self-determination of peoples. Was the Ukraine a “sovereign” state, when the coup took place, and the linguistic and cultural interests of the Russian-speaking population were thrown under the ultra-nationalist bus driven by the Western quislings? Of course not.

    Thus, the holding of the Crimean Referendum was actually based on the direct implementation of the norms of international law recognized by the Ukraine and de jure being part of its legislation.

    3. On official Kiev’s sanction for Referendum.

    As already noted, the Ukrainian authorities lost their legitimacy in late February 2014. But, okay, let’s pretend and assume that they would’ve agreed to hold an all-Ukrainian referendum. Could Crimea then secede from the Ukraine?

    According to Art. 157 of the Constitution of the Ukraine, it cannot be changed, if the changes are aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. But without changing the Constitution, the right to self-determination cannot be realized in principle. Art. 133 of this Basic Law determines the territorial composition of the subjects of the Ukraine. It turns out that the realization of the right to self-determination under the Ukrainian Constitution is in principle impossible. So, what to do when you must exercise universally recognized right to self-determination?

    Art. 9 of the Ukrainian Constitution to the rescue! “International treaties that are in force, agreed to be binding by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, are part of the national legislation of Ukraine.” (укр. «Чинні міжнародні договори, згода на обов’язковість яких надана Верховною Радою України, є частиною національного законодавства України.»).

    Thus, the holding of the Crimean referendum was actually based on the direct implementation by the people of the peninsula of the norms of international law recognized by the Ukraine. The right to self-determination implies that the self-determining part does not ask the permission of the whole.

    After all, did Serbia hold a national referendum on secession of Kosovo? Or, and this is more topical for Grisha here, when a referendum on the independence of Scotland was held – were all the British asked about the status of their northernmost neighbors?

    4. Fate of Crimea shortly prior and immediately after the dissolution of the USSR.

    In January 1991, a referendum was held in Crimea, in which more than 83% of Crimean residents took part. In accordance with the results of the referendum, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed within then still existing USSR. Important note here – within the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics itself, not one of its constituent Republics.

    UkrSSR had abandoned the Union with violations of the proper procedure, also appealing to the right of self-determination.

    On May 5, 1992, the Supreme Council of Crimea adopted a declaration on state sovereignty. But in 1995, the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukraine canceled all the normative acts of Crimea, including its Constitution.

    De facto (and, it could be argued, de jure), for the last decades, Crimea was the territory illegally occupied by the Ukraine.

    5. Crimean Referendum vis-à-vis Budapest Memorandum.

    In accordance with this document, Russia agreed “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine.”

    It is necessary to start with the fact that the United States, according to this document, also assumed obligations to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. However, is it possible to recognize the active participation in the preparation of the Maidan or the allocation of 5 billion dollars for “support of democracy” (let alone other activities by Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland &Co) as a respect for sovereignty? Again – the question is purely rhetorical.

    As for Russia, it has never (and could not) undertake obligations to violate the UN Charter, which guarantees the right of peoples to self-determination (which, as we have found, is above territorial integrity). As Foreign Minister Lavrov correctly pointed out, the Ukraine’s loss of Crimea was the result of internal processes (originating from the Euromaidan), to which Russia has nothing to do.

    It should also be added that Putin was absolutely right in stating the fact, that in relation to the “state”, that emerged as a result of the Maidan, Russia did not undertake obligations under the Budapest agreement. You have a revolution? Okay, we respect your choice. Just be so kind, sit down and negotiate again, since all previous agreements and relations have been canceled.

    In short, to quote the most famous phrase by granda Panas (think of him as the Ukrainian version of the Mr. Rogers and his show for kids):


    1. “…thus claiming the continuity…”

      May I suggest that those claiming continuity, as well as those describing the glorious events of 2014 as a mere “constitutional crisis”, are guilty of denying the Revolution of Dignity.

      And this is utterly unacceptable.

      It amounts to a subversive (and potentially criminal) activity undermining the very foundation of the post-Maidan state, by eroding the most important of its three fundamental pillars: the Revolution of Dignity, the Russian Aggression, and the Holodomor.


      1. You jest, Mao, yet just a few years ago there were suggestions to fine or jail up to 5 years people for the Holodomor denial, followed by the initiative by Yatsenyuk’s (and the Interior Minister Avakov’s) party, to make it criminal “to deny, fail to recognize and voice cynical opinions about the Revolution of Dignity” (c).

        In the end, these legislative initiatives failed to attain the force of the law. So it would hearten people immensely, that when the “civil rights activists” (c) from the National Corps, battalion Azov, C-14 and/or UNA-UNSO beat them to the pulp for lack of respect to the Sacred Maidan, they are doing it illegally. Triple SUGS!


  14. @Lyttenburgh. If Russia was made up of people like you and other similarly-minded people with ultranationalist views, I would have advocated for maximum pressure sanctions. Fortunately it isn’t. And I don’t call for anything of the sort. Before I pursued my current degree I obtained a diploma in piano performance and taught in schools for some time (which also gives some indication as to my age and my preferred form of address). You remind me of bored, second-rate pupils at the back of the classroom who devoted all their time to idiotic remarks (if you maintain that you are older than me after all, it clearly isn’t showing in your comments).

    I do not wish to continue this conversation, partly because your defective grammar is largely unintelligible, partly because your argumentation is incoherent and partly because I prefer not to engage with fanatics who would give the Right Sector a run for its money.

    I have nothing more to say to you other than to advise you to stop defiling the powerful legacy of your own ancestors who fought against Nazi Germany with your ‘Russland Russland über alles’ credo.


    1. Dear Matyunin: Oh, for the love of god, can you stop being such a pompous tosser.
      If you cannot see how Crimean reunification was completely legal and appropriate, then you are a hopeless case. Amen.


      1. The ‘amen’ is interesting. Reinforces the fact that Russian nationalists behave like a religious sect. That Russia’s annexation/reunification/absorption (whatever) of Crimea was illegal isn’t controversial. It is fact. My status as a ‘hopeless case’ signifies I am ill-suited to membership of your flat-earth society, which is probably correct and most definitely a very big compliment.


    2. “If Russia was made up of people like you and other similarly-minded people with ultranationalist views, I would have advocated for maximum pressure sanctions. Fortunately it isn’t.”

      One, I keep telling you and all others, Grisha, that I’m a paragon of moderation and restraint for the politically aware Russian. AKA – I represent more or less the majority of Russians in my views on the most topical questions.

      Two – you have no fucking idea what are some real “ultranationalist views” as held by those in Russia.

      Three – you are right, that not everyone shares my mostly balanced and restrained opinions in Russia. On the one hand, there exist a plethora of much more radical and less tolerant views in the vein of action directe (well… so to speak ;)), of which your misattributed Russian ultranationalists are surely an integral and important part. If you find my views not to your taste, boy, imagine what kind of shenanigans these fine chaps can be up to!

      Four – voices that might more align with a cross-cultural mule like you, from the family with the petite bourgeoisie aspirations (and worldviews) also are present in Russia. Like sexual deviants, their number is more or less constant and miniscule. As long as they are kept from imposing their demented views on the majority of population, they are tolerated by the rest.

      Five… Thank you, Григорий Матюнин, for further political coming out on your part. The admission that you, basically, are okay to turn coats and condemn your own country over a political disagreement, just underscores that you are morally rotten. The mere fact that you posted it, means it’s up in the cards for you, that you’ve contemplated it, that it is, actually, acceptable for you. The question is “when”, not “if”, you become a traitor in exchange for the modern day’s equivalent of the “carton of crackers and a jar of jam”.

      This simple revelation, which you did on your own accord here, for everyone to see, once again proves, that “Чей Крым?” test is ideal in assessing one’s personality.

      P.S. The fact, that you accuse gentle Yalensis of being a “Russian nationalist” and ascribing to him any kind of religious worldview… Astagfir allāh, what a load of crock!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Paul does an amazing job of writing this blog. He is part of the (amazing) minority of scholars who see Russian politics from a balanced perspective and look for East-West dialogue.

    Yet it is despicable that Russian nationalists continue to shower him with abuse for the sole reason that they can’t cope with even the mildest criticisms of the Kremlin.

    One thing that amazes me is that Russian nationalists, while having little else in common with ‘woke’ teenagers in the West, act exactly the same. The tantrums, the anti-scholarly propaganda, the name-calling is all exactly the same. Some people go around screaming at statues and insulting women for not affirming the latest trans orthodoxies. Some people choose to scream “Russophobia” purely because some of us believe in international law. Yet the premise is the same. Affirm the orthodoxies of your milieu, delude yourself due to cowardice and root out the heretics. Very narrow-minded and very shameful.


    1. “Yet it is despicable that Russian nationalists continue to shower him with abuse for the sole reason that they can’t cope with even the mildest criticisms of the Kremlin.”

      Here, you betray the bottomless abyss of ignorance, that dwells inside your head cavity, Grisha. For there are no more rabid and intolerant of the official Kremlin’s policy in Russia, than various strands of the Russian nationalism.

      Those, who you label “nationalists”, are in fact Russian patriots. Like I am here. I don’t scream “Russophobia” – I say it quietly, if I ever choose to say it. Whether I say it or not, btw, won’t change the fact that, yes, Russophobia is widely present in the West and is morally acceptable.

      I also see the world as it is, understanding full well that when someone has declared a war upon you and labels you and your country an enemy (“adversary”), your first job is to fight back. Situation as it is allows little place for bystanders. If anything, it’s gonna deteriorate even further – and much sooner than you expect.

      So, yeah, go and join the side of your new adopted homeland, Grisha, in the hope that the great white sahib will one day appoint you an honorary white man, for your bravery in fight against dem Ruski “nationalists”. OTOH, (“highly likely” (c)) locals will always view you with suspicion for being a cross-cultural hybrid of dubious loyalty. Soon, you will find that to have a “balanced perspective” is a luxury no one, even in the Free West, could afford anymore.


  16. @G.S.Matyunin
    “was illegal isn’t controversial. It is fact.”

    Puh-leez. Certainly, the Russian government maintains that it was perfectly legal, and it presents its arguments: the Kosovo precedent, self-determination, breach of constitutional continuity. And therefore your position is, by definition, controversial.

    Also, “illegal” doesn’t really make much sense in this situation. There’s no judge, no jury, and the Russian Federation has veto power in the closest equivalent of a “jury”: the UN security council. So, “illegal” is not a fact.

    You feel that the unification was inconsistent with the international law, and that’s fine. It can be discussed, logically, without ‘appeal to authority’.

    I believe I successfully refuted your assertion that the events of February 2014 in Kiev amount to a mere “constitutional crisis”. But you could argue that even a revolution and complete breakdown of state machinery didn’t justify the secession and unification. It would be more difficult, of course.


  17. When the conspiracists start mouthing off, I just follow the money (cui bono). Putin ordering such a hit, would not provide him or his government with any value, none whatsoever. He is much too smart to do something as risky as this, without an extremely good and valid reason. There is none here.


  18. How much more mileage can be got out of this Novichok agent as a weapon of assassination when it has yet to kill any of the chosen targets? Or is its only power its Russian name, which evokes nobody but the Russians? Do we need to rehearse the names of the countries, including the NATO countries, where the Novichok nerve agents have been available for years? Does anybody actually need to launch an investigation in order to answer the question: Cui bono?


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