9 September 2019   Leave a comment

Over the last few months there have been protests in Moscow over elections to the City Council. The election was only symbolically important, since members of parties opposed to the Putin regime were not allowed to run. But the results were quite revealing. Putin’s party, United Russia, lost 13 seats to a potpourri of parties not opposed to Putin, but not supportive of him either. Vox outlines the results:

“The ruling United Russia party, which supports Russian President Vladimir Putin, barely clung to its majority, losing about 13 seats in the city council (from the current 38 down to just 25).

“Opposition parties, on the other hand, did quite well, winning 20 seats. They included the Communist Party (13 seats), the A Just Russia party (3 seats), and the liberal Yabloko party (4 seats).

“There’s a catch, though: These aren’t the ‘real’ opposition parties in Russia.

“With the exception of the Yabloko party members, the opposition candidates who won are part of Russia’s ‘systemic opposition.’ These are parties that are more or less loyal to the Kremlin and are sanctioned by the government to operate as ‘opposition’ parties and stand for elections. In other words, they’re mostly a sham meant to provide a veneer of democracy on an undemocratic system.”

We will have to see how Putin responds to the vote. The Russian economy is not doing very well and Putin’s popularity seems to be deceasing as a result.

CNN is reporting that a US spy at the highest level of Russian decision-making was extracted after the US intelligence community decided that President Trump’s casual treatment of classified intelligence threatened the spy with exposure. The extraction decision came after President Trump revealed classified material to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the then ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, in a meeting in May 2017. That intelligence had come from Israel and the disclosure threatened future intelligence sharing because the Israelis were afraid that their sources were exposed by Trump’s leak. President Trump also released a classified photo of an Iranian missile launch failure that many believed compromised the integrity of future satellite images. It is hard to believe that other states will be willing to share information with the US given their fears that the US President will compromise their sources and methods. It is impossible to determine how significant this loss of intelligence may be, but it is a completely gratuitous loss.

Posted September 9, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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