The Financial Times has an article about the political situation in Russia and “the change coming” there, entitled “Putinism delays a reformist shift in the course of Russian history.”
Writer Tony Barber said that it is certain that a less repressive regime will emerge one day (in Russia), but that the influence of the West on political change in Russia will be “limited”.
The writer stresses that change is coming to Russia, saying, “To be precise, the great change is coming. This is the name of the children’s and youth movement that the Kremlin is establishing under the personal control of President Vladimir Putin.”
The writer notes that “Putin’s new initiative brings to mind the Young Pioneer Movement for ideological training, whose membership served as a gateway for Soviet youth.”
The Great Change Bill came out on May 19, the centenary of the pioneers. The new movement is prohibited from cooperating with “foreign agents” and “undesirable” organizations, in reference to organizations in the West and those who criticize the Russian regime from within.
“Russia’s painful past reverberates in other ways as Putin’s war on Ukraine enters its fifth month,” Al-Kanb says.
Barber argues that the definition of Putinism, now entering its third decade, is “as much internal oppression and manipulation of minds as it is defined by foreign aggression. This combination is a constant feature of modern Russian history. On the contrary, when Russia is going through a moment Liberal at home, as was the case under Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, its foreign policy tends to calm international tensions.
The writer concludes that “no liberal transformation can be imagined under Putin.” He says that Russia’s history goes through cycles: dictatorship under Joseph Stalin, reform under Nikita Khrushchev, tougher conditions under Leonid Brezhnev, liberalization under Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, and repression under Putin. Although we don’t know when the tournament will be back for sure.”
But he believes Ukraine’s war may play its part in bringing about change, because previous wars that went wrong, the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, “spurred the quest for reform, leading respectively to the emancipation of farmers (land slaves) and perestroika President Gorbachev.” On the other hand, “Russia’s victory in Ukraine may prolong the cycle of repression, as did Stalin’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.”
However, the writer notes that much of Western public opinion “believes in something better emerging in Russia”, but says that the West “often deceives itself”.
He went on to say that in 2008, when Putin chose Dmitry Medvedev, to replace him for a four-year term as president, Westerners tapped into the new man’s passion for British rock band Deep Purple. The West believed that there was a post-communist Russia that could be dealt with, but the story faded, and it was a false dawn, according to the writer.
Medvedev is now described by the writer as “one of the mouthpieces of malicious social media propaganda denouncing Russia’s enemies as bastards and degenerates”.
The erratic nature of Putin’s power structures makes it difficult to determine who might embody the next turn of the cycle. He says a lot of power lies in the army and security men, but some influential figures, such as Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman known as “Putin’s chef”, do not hold any official government position.
new emblem for ukraine war
On Russia, we also read an article in The Times about the Kremlin’s attempt to remarket its war in Ukraine by changing the “Z” logo, which was placed on Russian armored vehicles and weapons during the fighting.
Writer Mark Bennetts said the Kremlin “may be planning to remake” its invasion of Ukraine after officials ordered the removal of huge banners from prominent buildings bearing the pro-war Z and V symbols.
In Moscow, inspectors asked Sergei Mironov, head of the “Just Russia – for Truth” party, to take down a sign at his office in the city center, citing “several” complaints from the public.
He added that in Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city, officials acted after a teen said the signs hanging on the outside of the mayor’s office were violating regulations on public advertising. A sign was also removed from the facade of a military veteran’s office in Perm in the Urals region.
The writer noted that “children who decorated the windows of a cultural center in the Pskov region of western Russia with Z and V signs were asked to remove the symbols.” A local official told state television they would put up politically neutral pictures.
The writer talks about the fact that Russian officials ignore state laws when it suits them, and some analysts have suggested that removing the banners may mean that the Kremlin decided to get rid of the symbols of war on Ukraine.
The two craftsmen have appeared since the beginning of the war on Russian tanks and armored vehicles that were crossing the border into Ukraine in February.
Although they were likely used initially for identification purposes, Russian defense officials later said they represented “zaopido” and “silla in pravdi,” which translates to “victory” and “strength in truth.”
According to Benites, the Russians have failed to capture the public’s attention, and these two characters appear mainly in government offices and pro-Kremlin organizations and in police cars.
“It is possible that the Kremlin is planning to rebrand it,” political analyst Abbas Galiamov was quoted as saying. “These two strange letters have not made a good memory, so they should be replaced with something more effective.”
The writer says that it is interesting that the Russian alphabet does not contain the two letters (Z, V), although each has a phonetic equivalent. Its critics say the Z symbol, also used by Nazi forces during World War II, resembles a swastika, and opposition activists have dubbed it the “swastika”.
Galiamov, a former Kremlin speechwriter, predicted that the decision to remove the symbols could be a sign that Moscow was looking for ways to end what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
It is believed that between 15,000 and 30,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the war, including approximately 600 generals and high-ranking officers. Russia has acknowledged the deaths of 1,351 soldiers in Ukraine, but has not updated the death toll since last March.
The New Middle East Reality
The Independent Online newspaper spoke of a “new reality in the Middle East” with the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Turkey and the resumption of the partnership path between the two countries.
Brozo Draghi, the newspaper’s international affairs correspondent, said that both bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are looking for new opportunities to consolidate his power.
The writer explains that Saudi-Turkish relations witnessed a golden period before the rise of the rising star of the Crown Prince, as well as the explosion of various disputes in the Middle East.
Draghi believes that the two countries seem to have decided to return to the path of partnership, after six years of accusations, sieges, boycotts, and proxy wars, all of which cast a shadow over the brutal murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey in 2018.
Bin Salman arrived in Turkey on Wednesday, in the first visit of a high-ranking Saudi official to Turkey since the killing of Khashoggi, and Erdogan received him at the entrance to the presidential complex with a salute of artillery and guards dressed in blue uniforms on horses and carrying Saudi and Turkish flags.
The writer pointed out that bin Salman’s visit came after his visit to Egypt and Jordan, and a day before the visit of British Defense Ministers Ben Wallace, and her foreign minister, Liz Truss, to Ankara to hold security talks. He said that Turkey is considering purchasing Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes produced by the British, German, Spanish, and Italian consortium.
The writer referred to reports that Saudi Arabia concluded a $10 billion deal with Turkey to boost Ankara’s reserves. For both countries, he said, friendly relations mean more trade and influence at a time when the United States is on a long road toward exiting the Middle East.
“There are new opportunities, and a new situation is emerging,” said Guven Saik, the economist who leads the TEPAF Foundation, a think-tank.
This new reality includes the Abraham Accords, a series of diplomatic agreements backed by the United States that bind some Arab countries to Israel without taking Palestinian concerns into account.
This new reality also includes, according to the author, a change on the part of the United States regarding Saudi Arabia. The administration of President Joe Biden, first pledged to stay away from Saudi Arabia because of its human rights violations and its war in Yemen, but it has now changed its course, and Biden is scheduled to visit Riyadh next month. To meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his crown prince.
Draghi explained that regional powers see a new economic and security order emerging in the Middle East and other regional actors, with new energy and lucrative transportation aimed at circumventing the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Trump trial is near“
In the Financial Times, writer Edward Luce spoke of the President of the United States, “Trump’s impeachment is approaching,” noting that there is a consensus in Washington that the former president will escape prosecution, but avoiding the case will be very costly.
Whatever path US Attorney Merrick Garland takes, whether to impeach Donald Trump or not, the matter involves significant risks. Impeaching the former president would hasten the country’s drift toward political violence, and letting Trump get away raises the possibility of another coup attempt.
He added that Garland “would be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. Both paths could jeopardize American democracy.”
Evidence collected by the January 6 Committee of the US House of Representatives makes it extremely difficult to turn a blind eye, leaving the attorney general in a delicate position.
Luce notes that the standard of proving a criminal conviction is much higher than observers of the January 6 protests might assume, as a failed prosecution would make Trump stronger and even help re-elect him.
He says that “when you hit a king, even if he was a former king, you must kill him.”
And Garland’s job, he says, will be to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump had criminal intent, a major drawback not only showing that he tried to cancel the election, but that he was fully aware that what he was doing was illegal.
“We know that Trump tried to turn it around,” he says. “Proving that he knew his actions were criminal means getting into his head. The January 6 commission makes that job much easier.”