The Fascist in the Kremlin

first_imgLife has become dangerous for those Russians who–despite daily brainwashing and state control–preserve a clear mind. In Moscow, 50,000 of them took to the streets in an anti-Putin march in memory of Nemtsov. Labeled the country’s “fifth column,” these Russians are so vilified on federal television that they could become victims of hate crimes committed by the people–or by the state. Many of them are openly asked to leave: Riga is fast becoming a hub for an escaping Russian middle class.Asked by a BBC presenter if Nemtsov will join the long list of unexplained murders in Russia, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov chillingly replied: “The list is not that long.”. On his weekly TV show Vesti Nedeli, Russia’s most famous propagandist Dmitry Kisilev told viewers that, for the West, Nemtsov was “more useful dead than alive.” The pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported that investigators are focusing on the Ukrainian intelligence agencies and Chechen militants as the main suspects in the murder.Yet, despite dragging Russia into the past and starting a European war, the Kremlin still has friends in Europe. Putin needs their help to dismember Ukraine and to stop democracy from reaching Russian borders. The Russian leader seeks support to realize his vision, in which any country that was once under Soviet or Russian rule should serve Moscow. Currently, Putin’s team of loyal dictators in Belarus and Central Asia are safeguarding his Eurasian dream. But now that Russia is in confrontation with the West and its economy is a ticking time bomb, Putin wants to divide the EU and create pro-Moscow lobby groups in Brussels. This not only involves supporting Europe’s far-right and far-left parties, but also courting entire mainstream political elites.Hence Putin’s visit to Hungary last month. Standing in front of the cameras in the heart of Europe, Putin told Ukrainian soldiers to surrender and mocked Kiev for having lost to “miners and farmers”. Meanwhile, separatists under Russian command pushed out Ukrainian soldiers in a bloody battle for Debaltseve, a key town in Eastern Ukraine.The visit was also meant to showcase Russian backing of Prime Minister Orban as an ideological partner, one whose nationalist rhetoric falls in line with Kremlin propaganda. Despite Russian aggression in his neighborhood, Orban has consistently deepened his links with Putin. During the war in Ukraine, Hungary’s friendship with Russia has been ringing ever more alarm bells inside the EU.Orban seeks closer ties with Russia while benefitting from NATO’s security protection and from the economic assets of an EU member state. When speaking to European diplomats, Orban claims he has no love for Moscow and that he only reaps the benefits of Russian money and gas. In reality, it is Putin who is exploiting Orban in his effort to show the world that Western unity is no more. By offering Hungary profitable trade projects, Russia can strengthen those EU states that can influence Brussels in Moscow’s interests. Vladimir Putin is fighting a war on two fronts. At home, opposition activists no longer risk jail, but death. The assassination of Boris Nemtsov at the Kremlin walls–one of the most policed places on the planet–turned a new page in the regime’s offensive against its opponents. Abroad, Putin’s tanks continue to roll into Ukraine and Moscow’s other neighbors feel threatened.But just as he’s apparently managed to winnow out his political enemies at home, the Russian dictator is still making friends on the Western front. Only last month, Putin demonstrated that it is possible–despite Western sanctions and ongoing aggression in Ukraine–to build a partnership with a European Union state. In his first visit to a European Union country in nine months, Putin visited Hungary and cuddled up to his emerging new ally, Prime Minister Viktor Orban. From Budapest, he sent a clear message: We are ready to support any European country that has grievances with Brussels or Washington.A year after the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s Russia is looking ever more like an expansionist fascist state. “Putin has brought Nazism into politics,” Nemtsov told a reporter hours before he was shot. As the regime aims to destroy critical thinking, years of round-the-clock propaganda–hugely intensified by the Ukraine campaign–has taken its toll on Russian society. Many Russians are ready for war: this can be seen in the numbers of men who left their homes to fight in Ukraine as volunteers (alongside regular Russian troops). Hungary is not alone in looking to the Kremlin. Russia has been making inroads in Central and Southeast Europe for years. With heavy Russian investment in their countries, the Czech and Slovak governments have consistently spoken against Western sanctions imposed on Moscow. The Balkans are increasingly becoming fertile ground for Russian destabilization. And, since Syriza’s electoral victory in Athens, Greece has fallen to Putin.Two days after hosting Putin, Orban visited Warsaw. Though one of Europe’s firmest Putin critics and most loyal defenders of Ukrainian sovereignty, Poland has until now been largely silent on Orban’s growing ties with the Kremlin and trampling of democracy. When the West condemned Orban for his authoritarian leanings, Warsaw defended him. Poland saw double standards from “Old Europe”: French and German populists were not a problem for Brussels, whereas Orban’s Fidesz party was beyond the pale.For Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the Polish conservative Law and Justice opposition party, Viktor Orban was once an idol. “We will have a Budapest in Warsaw,” Kaczyński declared in his election campaign in 2011. But since the war in Ukraine began, Orban’s flourishing friendship with Putin grew into a problem for Kaczyński, and the Poles are worried about their brothers-in-arms from 1989. The Hungarian received the cold shoulder from the Polish press and establishment. “Orban doesn’t believe in Europe”, read the front page of Gazeta Wyborcza, a major Polish newspaper. “I believe that Ukraine, a great European nation, should have the right to decide its own future”, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz told her Hungarian counterpart.As ever darker clouds descend over Moscow, the choice for European diplomats and heads of states is now between acting as Putin accomplices or adversaries. Europe can’t afford any more Viktor Orbans, just as it needs more Boris Nemtsovs.Ola Cichowlas is a journalist covering Russia and Eastern Europe. Follower her on Twitter @olacicho.This article was first published on on 03/03/15.last_img read more

New year resolutions

first_img David Pickup is a partner in Aylesbury based Pickup & Scott I was ill just before Christmas, which is not a good time to be off for various reasons. I will not bore you with the details but it was unpleasant. However, it gave me a chance to get up to speed on the mysterious world of daytime television. Most of the advertisements are for people who, well, put simply, are stuck at home. There are plenty of advertisements offering advice on the various ailments that persons of a certain age are likely to suffer – mostly toilet related. There are also lots of advertisements for making claims of different types of claims. I expected that but not the number of different claims firms. I could not tell which were solicitors and which were another breed of claimers. I am sure they are fine upstanding firms in many ways but they all look the same and have similar sounding names. If you have had an accident, or been mis-sold something how does the victim decide which one to use? Fortunately I recovered to enjoy more festive television, which in the lead up to Charles Dickens’ anniversary featured lots of Dickensian lawyers. Grim-faced men with lots of facial hair, quill pens and simpering clerks. How things have changed. We now have computers not quill pens. My point, if you were wondering, is that the public’s concept of lawyers is either claims firms or Great Expectations. An exaggeration I know but there is some truth in it. Doctors have exciting, glamorous programmes about emergency units; even vets get a better press curing cuddly animals. Which brings me to resolutions. Scrooge in A Christmas Carol vowed to live in the past, present and future. So those are my resolutions. Firstly the past: I will prepare for Christmas better next year. I will give more time, write cards, see people and all the rest. I know I will not but I ought to. I will also enjoy the heritage we have as lawyers. We have a history of service and occasionally as a profession, firms, or as individuals, get it right and make a difference to someone’s life. I will live in the present. I will plan better and work efficiently. I will say ‘no’ when faced with a client asking me to handle a case in an area I am unfamiliar with. I will know what is going on, what is in colleagues’ in-trays, filing cabinets etc. I will encourage an atmosphere of openness. Yes, dear reader, you do all those things now. I will live in the future. I will think how IT, whatever that is, can help. I will ponder about what services the public want. I will encourage youngsters to enter the law if they really want, not because it is a quick route to fame and fortune but because it is a great profession.last_img read more

Travel’s biggest, baddest bucket list!

first_img Sharing is caring! Tweet 59 Views   no discussions Share Sharecenter_img My Destination, the global travel resource powered by a community of local experts, has unleashed travel’s Biggest, Baddest, Bucket List, in which one lucky person will get the opportunity of a lifetime – a six month, all inclusive, blogging trip around the world to a minimum of 25 international destinations and $50,000 (USD). The opportunity opens for applications from the 28th January and closes on 31st March 2013. Ben Southall, winner of Tourism Queensland’s ‘Best Job In The World’, will preside over the entrants as guest judge. To win travel’s Biggest, Baddest, Bucket List, it’s very straightforward to apply.Step one: Applicants must create a video application in English and up to three minutes in length telling us about your favourite destination around the world – whether that’s the city you live, your best holiday or the place you’ve always dreamed of travelling to. Step two: Upload your video together with a completed application form and travel blog-style entry to candidates will make it through to the voting shortlist, five chosen by My Destination and five selected by the world and then the final round of voting opens – be sure to encourage all your friends and family to vote for you!Entry dates:• 28th January – competition opens• 31st March – applications close• 12th April – top ten announced and final round of voting opens• 26th April – top three finalist chosen• 7th May – final winner announced• 8th June – the trip of a lifetime begins The winner will travel the world in six months in which to travel the world, all expenses paid, blogging, meeting the locals and taking part in challenges in each location. The challenges will be wide and varied, covering everything from visiting a landmark to tasting a local delicacy and staying with a family to an adrenaline pumping activity.The best part is that the winner gets to create their own six month itinerary. You will blog for My Destination throughout the trip, keeping the people back home and around the world up to date with your adventures and the new friends you have made along the way.Upon completion of all the challenges and the blogging tasks throughout the six month trip, a pot of gold will be waiting for you on your return: $50,000 (USD) for the winner to spend on anything they want – paying off that student loan, starting a business or buying a home – it really is a life changing amount of money!The dream job contest has been created in partnership with fellow travel brands, Travelex and Viator.Dominica Vibes News Share LifestyleNewsRegionalTravel Travel’s biggest, baddest bucket list! by: – February 23, 2013last_img read more