The Czech news site iDNES reported yesterday that Vladimir Putin just signed a decree that will streamline and fast-track the process whereby members of Russian minorities who now find themselves outside Russia proper can gain Russian citizenship.  The decree is aimed at large concentrations of Russians in former Soviet republics who now hold Ukrainian, Estonian, Kazakh or other citizenship, or who may even be stateless.  The law was proposed by the Duma last month in the wake of the Russian annexation of the Crimea as part of a “normalization effort” among the two million-strong population of the peninsula.  It is also particularly relevant to the seventeen per cent of Ukraine’s citizens who claim Russian ethnicity.



At the same time, Putin signed a decree rehabilitating the Crimean Tatar, Armenian, German and Greek minorities, all of whom had been suspected of being perennial “enemies of the state” and who had suffered greatly under the Soviet regime. In particular, the Tatars had been expelled from the Crimea during World War Two and only allowed to return starting in the 1980s.  The decree rules that the Soviet-era deportations were illegal, and guarantees autonomous rights for Crimea’s minorities.

Moscow’s decrees notwithstanding, reality in Russian Crimea may be a little different. For instance, the Globe and Mail reports that

A leading figure in the Crimean Tatar minority has been barred by Russia from returning to the peninsula following its annexation by Moscow, the Tatar community’s assembly said on Tuesday.

In an online statement, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People said Mustafa Dzhemilev, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and the former chairman of the Mejlis, had been handed a notice banning him from Russia for five years as he crossed back to mainland Ukraine after a weekend in Crimea.

The Mejlis statement said the current deputy chairman, Aslan Omer Kyrymly, was also handed a similar banning notice.

Decapitation (in the sense of neutralizing leadership) is, of course, one of the most efficient ways to “pacify” a restive population, something Putin the former KGB lieutenant colonel understands extremely well.  In any case, these bans bode ill not just for the 300,000-strong Crimean Tatar community but for all other minorities under Russian suzerainty.  The fact that Putin had also just announced that he will authorize an extensive gambling district in the Crimea to help the local economy is sure to be of no help to the much-abused and long-suffering (non-Russian) minorities of the Crimea.

One awaits, with bated breath, further developments.


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Some interesting news from Russia, courtesy of the Czech news organizations iDNES and ČTK.

Apparently, Putin is searching for a legal basis for his move against the Ukraine and, very likely, for future aggressions. So it seems to me, anyway. And he may have chanced upon something any sea lawyer would love.

Per Czech news, the Russian press agency ITAR-TASS reported on April 10, 2014 that a group of Russian Duma members is demanding that Yuri Chaikov, Russia’s general procurator, open an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the USSR. The ultimate goal is apparently prosecution of the responsible parties, possibly even Mikhail Gorbachev. These politicians claim that the breakup was actually illegal since (1) 76% of those who had voted in a referendum had been for retaining the union, (2) Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Moldavia and Armenia had not taken part in the referendum, and (3) Soviet representatives had taken a number of illegal steps during the negotiations that ultimately resulted in the breakup of the USSR. The Duma members further note that the Soviet procurator’s office actually wanted to take legal action against Gorbachev in 1991 but was dissuaded by the Kremlin. Finally, they accuse Gorbachev of having created a top governmental organ after the August 1991 coup, for which there was no basis in the Soviet Constitution, noting further that it was this very organ which illegally recognized the independence of the Baltic republics.

I keep thinking of Putin’s statement that the breakup of the USSR was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.”  If that was a serious statement, and I think it was, then this legal stratagem might be used to justify moves not just against the Ukraine but against any of the former Soviet republics.

Speaking of the Ukraine: the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has recently published a briefing paper on the Ukraine’s – and Russia’s – military dispositions following the Russian takeover of the Crimea. The paper offers four possible military scenarios available to Russia.  It also reviews the geopolitical and economic realities in the region. Excellent and informative, if ominous, read.

Looking at the map and thinking about the general situation…

If I were Putin, I would now wait patiently and start making friendly noises, possibly even pay reparations to the Ukraine, until the Crimea becomes old news, like Benghazi.  This would let Obama declare victory and continue reducing U.S. military capabilities in peace (figuratively speaking).  And if I waited until after the 2016 elections, I might see another Obama type (like, for instance, Clinton) elected.  If so, I’d roll into the Ukraine just after the results of the U.S. elections were announced and not stop until I reached the Dnieper.

On the other hand, if I were an Eastern European Slav, I might start thinking really hard about a defensive federation of the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Ukrainians, over and above NATO.  That would create a 100 million-strong block of Slavic peoples who, by virtue of their location and their very long historical memories, would create a powerful stabilizing force that could face down threats from east – or west.  If I felt very generous, I might in time invite the Hungarians and the Romanians to join, but that darn long memory of mine would not let me sleep well.

Nice thought; but I can’t see that happening, not now, certainly not with EU overlordship…


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My favorite neighbors, all puffed up against the cold and the snow swirling around them.IMG_3249 IMG_3250 IMG_3252


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Brave young man, rest in peace.

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Fifty German cows, possibly weary of being exploited by humans, conspired in Rasdorf, Germany to blow up a barn.  They apparently coordinated their burping and farting to create a critical quantity of methane gas, then caused a spark, and poof!  (h/t Euronews)

One cow was treated for burns.

There is no word whether Al Qaeda was involved, but it is feared that the cows have a stash of guns somewhere and may be plotting something worse than a barn roof-raising.


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Joni Ernst believes that she is River City, Ioway’s man for Washington DC because she knows how to castrate hogs.  With this qualification, she hopes to become a U.S. Senatrix of the Republican variety. (h/t The Hill via Weasel Zippers)

To quote her first TV ad, filmed in a barn: “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington I’ll know how to cut pork. My parents taught us to live within our means. It’s time to force Washington to do the same, to cut wasteful spending, repeal ObamaCare and balance the budget.  I’m Joni Ernst and I approve this message because Washington is full of big spenders. Let’s make ‘em squeal.”

I understand the image, cutting pork and all.  However, comma, as they say…

Imagine, if you would, an ad in which a man says that he’s going to Washington to hoick out the ovaries of any woman who [---fill in the blank - any blank---].  Or, let’s lower the temperature a bit: a man is going to Washington to kick the butt of any woman who [---fill in the blank - any blank---].  Could anyone stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Using images of violence against a particular segment of the population, regardless of context or attempt at cleverness, seems to me to be a measure of moral decay.  That this is routinely done with impunity – indeed, today, violence of all kinds against men is indispensable fare in both popular and highbrow culture – is a further indicator of moral decay and, I daresay, rank stupidity.  But that is another story.  The issue is that Ernst seems to have absorbed this pathetic mindset to the point where she sees nothing wrong with it.

However popular it might be, there is no room for such a mindset in civilized society.  If you don’t believe it, just ask a Jew, particularly one from Eastern Europe.

Joni Ernst is proud that her parents had taught her to live within her means.  Good on them.  Good on her.  But it is too bad that they gave her no moral compass.

If Ernst wants the votes of men, if any such are left in Ioway, she has a lot of retorquing of her clitocentric mindset to do.  My guess is that she will fail – women this far gone usually do – but time will tell.  She touts herself as a veteran, so maybe her time in the Service had taught her something.  But in the meanwhile, she should go back to the farm and ask someone to help her grow up.


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Pics I took in 1981.

This is where Leopold V of Austria had imprisoned Richard the Lionhearted after their dispute on the Third Crusade.  The castle was reduced to near-rubble by the Swedes in 1645.

Of note, Swedish troops had cut such a wide swath through Central Europe during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) that the Germans still have a saying to describe a total mess: “It looks as though the Swedes had been here.”  (Es sieht aus, als ob die Schweden hier waren.)


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