MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti)
Pro-Kremlin Nashi Youth Movement to Evolve into a Different Organization
Established in 2005 by the presidential administration, the Youth Democratic Anti-Fascist Movement Nashi (Ours), the successor of the Moving Together youth movement, seems to be on the verge of a radical reorganization and rebranding.
The idea to divide the organization into several projects and rename it the All-Russia Youth Community was conceived in January this year, when Nashi activists met with Presidential Deputy Chief of Staff Vyacheslav Volodin, to present their reports and discuss patriotic projects.
Following the meeting, the movement has actually split into several projects: Stop the Boor, Pigs (an anti-pedophile project), Run After Me!, Environment, A Smart Russia, and some others – and renounced any further involvement in political events such as rallies.
Nashi Federal Commissar Anton Smirnov has confirmed that his organization is planning to change its name and sphere of activities. “Certain projects which are meeting with no response from the public will be shut down and replaced by new and more interesting ones. The details will be made public in spring,” he said.
Dmitry Chugunov, a leader of Stop the Boor, admitted that the public was not always pleased with the methods Nashi used in the media and political areas. “This project is causing a mixed reaction. I think the important thing is not just a rebranding but changes within the organization itself,” he said.
Deputy Director of the Center for Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin, believes that Nashi is trying to turn over a new leaf and bury its somewhat scandalous reputation. “They are attempting to jump on top of a new wave. They’ve chosen a conservative name, which means they’ll be fighting for morality. But I don’t think the authorities will be putting big stakes on them,” he said.
Dmitry Orlov, Director general of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications, also thinks Nashi wants a more conservative image. “The new name is clearly meant to evoke associations with the Soviet Young Communist League. My guess is that they will tackle leisure and patriotic education projects,” he said.
Washington’s New Arms Cuts Proposals for Moscow
Washington will propose further nuclear weapons cuts to Moscow, Kommersant has learned. This will be the subject of a visit to Russia beginning tomorrow by US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller. The White House believes the two countries can scrap half of their warheads without any harm to their security. According to Kommersant, the US delegation will try to persuade Moscow that the new cuts will help the US and Russia each save up to $8 billion every year.
The new proposal stems from a report by the State Department, the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the intelligence services and the US Strategic Command. The secret memorandum specifies a new list of targets for US strategic forces. The country’s nuclear arsenal has been halved since 2000, while the number of potential US opponents has also declined.
Iraq and Syria are no longer among the targets. A nuclear strike at Baghdad is no longer needed, nor is Syria seen as a nuclear target now that the civil war has weakened Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Facilities in Russia, China, North Korea and Iran remain on the list of potential targets for US strategic forces. Until recently a first strike had the purpose of destroying a country’s leadership and inflicting “undiminished damage” on its armed forces. Now, experts believe, the missiles could be re-targeted at economic and military facilities. According to analysts, the number of Russian ballistic missiles on combat duty is unlikely to be more than 230 now.
Washington believes that under the latest scenario 1,000 to 1,100 warheads are adequate. But the recent New START agreement actually allows Russia and the US to keep a larger inventory of nuclear weapons. The treaty says each country must have only 1,550 warheads on combat duty by 2018. However, the counting rules allow this number to be as high as 1,900.
Nor does the treaty limit the number of short- and intermediate-range warheads or warheads in storage. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the US has 2,700 such units, Russia almost the same: 2,680.
The Pentagon considers these numbers to be too high. James Kowalski, head of Global Strike Command, has called for reducing the number of strategic warheads on combat duty below the 1,500 limit. Such a cut could almost halve the total American nuclear arsenal – down to 2,500 warheads. That could lead to considerable savings: cancelling the construction of at least two Trident-class submarines would save $16 billion, and the dismantling of one ground-based strategic missile command would cut US spending by $360 million a year.
The details of the report are not being revealed. Nevertheless, the heads of key departments have already backed the new strategy. President Obama also supports these conclusions. A plan for the further reduction of the nuclear arsenal could be made public within the next few weeks. Such an agreement could be framed as a supplement to the START Treaty or as a protocol of intent.
Former Intelligence Colonel’s Riot Verdict Causes no Repercussions
The Moscow City Court has sentenced a retired intelligence service colonel to 13 years in prison for plotting a coup d’état in a surprisingly low-profile case.
The court found Vladimir Kvachkov, 64, leader of the Minin and Pozharsky People’s Militia movement, guilty of planning a riot aimed at overturning the constitutional regime. His accomplice, retired Interior Ministry officer Alexander Kiselyov, 62, was sentenced to 11 years behind bars.
The verdict states that Kvachkov planned to seize a military training center in Kovrov and organize a riot in Vladimir, while Kiselyov was allegedly planning a riot in St. Petersburg. Other suspected plots involved riots in Voronezh, Samara, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. A group of three pensioners was supposed to seize Yekaterinburg (they are now being prosecuted there). Investigators believe the People’s Militia was then planning a march on Moscow.
This sounds quite sensational, doesn’t it? Aborted coups do not happen every day, especially in a stable country like Russia where military and security chiefs dominate the government. Yet Kvachkov’s case failed to cause any repercussions or publicity. Even state TV channels have not taken the opportunity to whip up panic. Meanwhile, the country’s future was hanging by a thread.
The evidence proving his guilt may be somewhat weak. The case was instituted shortly after he was acquitted of an assassination attempt on former Unified Energy Systems head Anatoly Chubais. The investigation was conducted with the Federal Security Service and was naturally classified. The rioters were said to be armed with crossbows; the link between Kvachkov and Kiselyov was confirmed by an eyewitness who later withdrew his evidence. The story that links Kvachkov with the Yekaterinburg pensioners was told by a witness who was later deemed mentally ill and sent for compulsory treatment. Whatever the retired colonel was plotting to achieve, he stood almost no chance of succeeding.
Another possible explanation for the low profile of the case is that the public has long gotten used to hearing accusations which are too far-fetched to be true. It does not seem to matter whether or not Khdorkovsky stole his own oil or whether the Pussy Riot band violated some non-existent laws. All that matters is to report to the superiors before the deadline.
The lack of publicity around a planned coup definitely explains a lot about the riot, as well as about the regime.
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Military exercises are held in order to prevent a war rather than prepare for one. If a potential enemy knows and sees that the Russian Army is constantly improving its skills and adopting state-of-the-art combat equipment and combat support systems he will hardly risk aggression against these Armed Forces and the country they defend.