Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do [updated 6 January 2019]:

My blogposts are written in English.  I review content mostly from the Russian-language online press, in search of stories which interest me.  From time to time I venture out and review other things, for example, opera or movies!

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

As my blog concept evolved, it contains content divided into the following categories:

  • Animal Rights
  • Art Criticism
  • Ballet
  • Breaking News
  • Cat Fighting
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Friendship of Peoples
  • Human Dignity
  • Humor
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine and Health
  • Military and War
  • Navalniana
  • Opera
  • Popular Culture
  • Religion
  • Russian History
  • Sex and Spy Scandals
  • Space, Science and Technology
  • Sports
  • The Great Game
  • True Crime

I hope you read and enjoy my posts!

Sincerely yours,


Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Azarov’s Opinions Regarding Belorussian Events

Dear Readers:

Today I have this very interesting interview with Nikolai Azarov, former Prime Minister of the Ukraine.  Azarov is a canny former politician who freely gives his opinions on current events in Belorussia, comparing their situation to what happened in the Ukraine 6 years ago.  Quick bio first:

Nikolai Yanovich Azarov was born in 1947 in Kaluga, Russia.  He’s not Jewish.  There is some Estonian blood in him, hence the “Yanovich”.  In 1966 was accepted into the Geology Faculty of Moscow State University, graduated in 1971.  Worked at various jobs as an engineer, specializing in the coal-mining industry.  In 1984 Azarov’s Ukrainian adventure began when he arrived in Donetsk to work at the Ukrainian State Research Center of Mining Geology and Geomechanics.  Quickly assimilated and became a “Donbass” type Ukrainian.

Nikolai Azarov

In 1990 Azarov entered politics when he ran for the office of First Secretary of Donetsk Obkom of Communist Party Soviet Union (CPSU).  He was also a delegate to the 28th Congress of the CPSU, as a member of the Democratic Opposition faction.

After the collapse of the USSR and dissolution of the CPSU, Azarov continued his new career, navigating the shark-infested waters of Ukrainian politics.  Joined the Labor Party (led by Valentin Landyk).  Started getting government posts, and was elected to Parliament, as a supporter of President Kuchma.  From 1995-98 was a member of the Credit-Currency Council of the Cabinet of Ministers.  Continued to rise and work on various government committees, became a specialist in economics and trade.  In 2001 became the head of the influential Party of Regions.  From 2002-2005 was the First Deputy Prime Minister and simultaneously the Minister of Finances under President Yanukovych.

In 2006 was elected to the Supreme Rada on the Regions ticket.  Was once again Deputy Prime Minister in the second Yanukovych administration.  Again elected to Supreme Rada in 2007.  In 2010 again became the leader of his political party, Regions.  And then Prime Minister of the Ukraine.  Was always associated very closely with Yanukovych.

On 21 November, 2013 Azarov, as head of the government of the Ukraine, worked on the final stages of the negotiations with the EU.  Ukraine sought Associate Membership in the EU and a loan from the IMF.

One day later, 22 November, Azarov spoke at a session of the Supreme Rada, explaining the reasons why the negotiations had fallen apart:  The conditions proposed by the IMF were much too draconian, not to mention intrusive, including a usurious rate of interest, and the raising of tariffs on communal services; also freezing of salaries and wages, pensions and social services.  The Ukrainian delegation felt they could not accept these demands for austerity.

The failure of these negotiations were the proximate cause of the Euro-Maidan coup which drove Yanukovych out of office and brought to power the current pro-Nazi and pro-European Banderite government.  Azarov and his family fled to Vienna, where they still reside.

The rest of this is just translation of the interview, without any additional commentary on my part.  The interlocutor is Russian reporter Alexander Kots.

The Interview

Kots:  The day before my call, Nikolai Yanovich “fell under the train”, as they say.  As soon as he started blogging about Belorussia, his Facebook account was removed immediately.  Followed by the closing of his Youtube channel.

They have closed all of your channels where you could express your point of view? I asked the former Prime Minister of the Ukraine.

Azarov:  I have already opened a new channel on Youtube, and a new Facebook page.  But I lost all my old  archives, content, subscribers — I had 230,000 and 170,000 subscribers, respectively.  Every day I had up to half a million readers.  And now I have to start all over again.  They plucked me naked, such is “Freedom of Speech”, as the Americans understand it.

Reporter Alexander Kots

Kots:  The same thing happened to me in the Ukraine.  And just now, the moment I crossed the border into Belorussia and wrote my first post on Facebook — they cut me off.  Are the Americans just playing with us?

Azarov:  Absolutely, 100%.  In the evening I give an interview to the main government channel in Belorussia, and that same night the Americans have already blocked me.  Automatically, without any explanation of the reason.

Kots:  Why is this [censorship] happening, first with the Ukraine, and now Belorussia?

Azarov:  They want to cut off any approaches [to the subject matter] that are not in their favor.  They are conducting a total propaganda [war] in the social media and Telegram-channels.  There is a total disinformation [war being conducted against] the Belorussian population via the internet.  A massive one, to boot.  It’s the exact same thing they did during the Ukrainian Maidan.

Kots:  The difference being that the Maidan had its own television [channel].

Pavel Latushko promotes a European vector for Belorussia.

Azarov:  Yes, I agree.  But I imagine the satellite TV from Poland and Lithuania can reach the Western oblasts of Belorussia without any problems.  A completely unprepared generation is being bombarded by fairy tales about “a bright European future”.  Latushko [ex-Minister of Culture for Belorussia, member of the Oppositionist Coordinating Council, recently having fled to Poland] is on the airwaves constantly, insisting that the Russian loan should not have been accepted, that it will be a burden.  [yalensis:  Russia offered Belorussia a loan of $1 billion to be forked over by the end of this calendar year.] But European credits — well, this is more reliable, these are reforms, this will bring about the wealthy European lifestyle.

Kots:  You don’t think it will?

Azarov:  In his whole life Latushko has never gotten one kopeck out of the European Union.  And if he were to start engaging in this for real, then he would know that, in all these years, the biggest loan the Ukraine ever received [from them] was 1.1 billion Euros [yalensis:  roughly $1.3 billion American dollars].  And even that, in two tranches, and with humiliating conditions, from the point of view of [national] sovereignty.

Kots:  For example?

Azarov:  For example, NaftoGaz or EnergoAtom — state-owned companies, but the oversight committee was to consist of 70% foreigners, and also be located outside the borders of the country.  The referees were to be selected by the committee exclusively from among foreigners.  So, in other words, if Latushko were to try to get something from them for Belorussia, well, nobody is going to give him the 3-4 billion that he is asking for.  And even if they were to cough up something like 300-400 million, well the conditions they would place…  But Latushko doesn’t care about that, he is an Agent of Influence.  Let’s just say that Belorussia would lose her sovereignty.  But from Russia, the $1.5 billion [yalensis:  I believe they are talking American dollars here] is being offered, I am convinced, without any strings attached whatsoever.  Just as we, back in the day, received credits from Russia.

Kots:  And yet the leaders of the Belorussian protests are calling upon the people to go out on strike, to not pay their taxes, their electricity bills…

Azarov:  I can tell you exactly what will happen, if there is a change of regime in Belorussia and a transition to the European model.  We went through all of this ourselves, starting with the Orange Revolution in 2005.  And ending with the Maidan in 2014.  We heard the very same slogans.

Kots:  And what did this lead to, in the Ukraine?

Average monthly salary in Ukrainian regions, including both rich and poor.

Azarov:  To the situation where we started to pay 10 times more for the communal services, for gas and electricity.  Currently our [utility bills] are higher than in Europe.  Whereas the real value of wages has gone down.  Currently, according to their own calculations, wages approach $400 dollars [per month].  But that’s just the average, which includes [on the high end of the scale] the income of the oligarchs and the very wealthy officials, who don’t exist in Belorussia.  In the Ukraine the salary of the head of a state-owned corporation might be [as high as] $3-5 million dollars per month.  If one were to [take this away and share among] the remaining personnel, then the result would not be bad at all.

Prices have gone up.  Our produce now costs more than in Poland.  The average pension is $120 dollars [per month], of which 60% goes to paying off the communal utility bills.  The Ukraine has transformed into an importer of produce!  Such a fertile land, good climate, and we are importing produce.  We still export corn, grain, sunflowers, but everything else we have to import.

Kots:  What about industry?

Kharkov Tractor Factory used to produce these babies…

Azarov:  A simple example.  The Kharkov tractor factory was one of the largest in the USSR.  It produced 100,000 tractors a year.  Now they only produce single units, on demand.  Production has practically ceased.  The same fate awaits the Minsk Tractor Factory.  The European Union will insist on replacing these products with exports of their own agricultural technology.  And by the way, GomelSelMash, Minsk Tractor — these are excellent companies.  They produce up to date technology.  But that won’t mean anything, they will be privatized and handed over to some new owner; either to struggle in a competitive market, where they will soon be bankrupted; or simply just tear the factories down and sell them for scrap — which is exactly what is happening in the Ukraine.

During the era of the “European reforms” 4,500 Ukrainian enterprises were simply torn down for scrap.  The future of their Belorussian counterparts is not enviable.  Simply because of the fact, that the EU does not need any competitors.  Nor do the Americans.

Kots:  But why do they need Belorussia to be weak?

Azarov:  In order to turn a people into a herd.  A herd which is enraged against Russia.  It’s easier to rule over a poor country.  Ukraine showed the way:  15 years have passed since the first Orange Revolution, and we already have a whole generation who learned in school, that Russia is an aggressor and barbarian.  [They are told that] if it were not for Russia, they would be living like people do in Switzerland.  This is totalitarian propaganda, which excludes any other opinions.  And the same thing awaits Belorussia.

Kots:  Indeed, these young people who are marching in the streets, they will be the first ones to lose their jobs, won’t they?

Polish farm workers enjoying a break.

Azarov:  Without a doubt.  The Belorussians have preserved their higher education institutions.  They have many students in the Humanities curriculum.  But Humanities are not needed any more.  Even engineers won’t be needed, if there are no factories for them to work in.  Even the sciences won’t be needed any more.  The educational system will collapse.  In order to prepare an engineer, very serious studies are needed, knowledge is needed.  But to prepare a farm laborer to pick berries in Poland — no knowledge or experience is needed.  I know this, we have been through all of this.  This is painful to talk about.  I have seen all of this with my own eyes.  Those of us in the Ukraine, we did what we could.  But there were these continuous upheavals and revolutions…

Kots:  I have heard that something like 8-10 million Ukrainian citizens are living abroad as guest workers.  Do those figures sound right?

Azarov:  In 1991 there were 52 million residents of the Ukraine.  Today, even by the cunning standards of Ukrainian officials, who come up with estimates [yalensis:  I understand that Ukraine has not had a real census for quite some time] based on consumption of bread, milk, meat — there are at most 37 million Ukrainians.  And that includes residents of the Donbass and the Crimea.  If you discount Donbass/Crimea, then there are 32 million Ukrainians.  Where did the other 20 million go, during these 30 years of Ukrainian independence?  A loss of 300,000 souls per year — this is a physical deficit for the Ukraine, every year we are losing an entire Poltava!  Multiply that times 30 years, it’s 9 million.  The rest is due to migration.  Roughly 10 million.  Which is comparable to the entire population of Belorussia!  The lion’s share of these migrants have already settled in Russia, they have received citizenship.  Seasonal workers, who travel back and forth, judging by the passenger flow between Ukraine and Russia — 2 million.  The rest have emigrated to Europe or America.  My Facebook posts have readers from 65 countries around the world.  I doubt if Australians or Koreans are reading me.  These are our emigrants, whom fate tossed thither.

Every year the Ukraine loses the equivalent of a Poltava.

Kots:  The Belorussian protesters say:  “We are not against Russia.  We want to be friends with everybody, both with Moscow and with Europe.  People on the Maidan used to say that too, but somehow it didn’t work out that way.

Azarov:  It’s deja vu.  The Poles and Americans worked so hard to organize these events, whom do you think they were doing all this for?  According to my inside sources, they were planning on this [Belorussian] thing to go down two or three years from now.  There was a plan, financing, assignments given out.  Agents of Influence were prepared, future leaders, activists.  They all underwent training.  But then things started happening earlier [then they anticipated].  In Ukraine the miners strikes also didn’t just spring up out of nowhere, they happened after the trade union leaders underwent training in the American trade unions.  The same thing happened in Belorussia.

Why do you think the Americans would invest so much money in this?  In order to bring to power in Belorussia people who “want to be friends with everybody?”

Kots:  But isn’t that what Yanukovych wanted?

Azarov warns of zombification.

Azarov:  Exactly.  In what way did we not please the European Union?  What did we do to them to deserve this coup?  Well, it’s very clear, what.  They don’t need any of this “friends with everybody” malarkey.  They only need countries that are hostile to Russia.  And as soon as their marionettes seize power in Belorussia, then a very clear anti-Russian course will ensue.  All the pro-Russian elements will be physically exterminated, as happened in the Ukraine, either that or tossed into jail, if they haven’t managed to flee the country first.  And then the zombification will begin.  Five years shall pass — and Belorussia will be unrecognizable!  Trust me, the fate of Belorussians is not of interest to anyone.  Whatever woes await them, will people lose their jobs, will the economy collapse — is there is a single person in America or Poland who cares about that?  On the contrary:  the worse off the masses are, the angrier they are, all the easier to sic them on the enemy by tossing them a bone or two.

Kots:  Is there any way to prevent this from happening?

Azarov:  Just one.  To recognize immediately that this is [an attempted] coup.  Isolate all the organizers.  Do that which we did not do.  And very clearly respond to those who recognized this Tikhanovskaya as President.  Already, Poland has recognized Tikhanovskaya as President.  And yet to this moment Belorussia has not severed diplomatic ties with Poland — why not?  You don’t need to be a dictator to do that, just operate according to the law.

And do not fear, as we were feared, the yelps of the Americans.  They will introduce sanctions regardless what you do.  The Belorussian government must come to grips, and communicate clearly to the people:  There will not be a European path.  All that the West wants to do is establish a Latin-American dictatorship inside Belorussia.

Kots:  So, in the end, there is no other option except Union with Russia?  What would Belorussia get out of a Union state?

Azarov:  The Belorussian economy is already integrated into the Russian one.  It is already 50% in the Russian market.  This tendency should be strengthened.  Large cooperative projects should be initiated.  For example, the building of a nuclear energy station.  The more such projects are created, the more people will be incorporated into them:  Students, workers, engineers, the scientific intelligentsia, government officials.  And this will produce prosperity.

Kots:  What about a common army?  A common currency?  Are these needed?

Azarov:  Why not?  In its time the Soviet Union was a common market consisting of 15 countries.  And this never hampered the national regions from developing in their own way.  And then [after the collapse] national trade tariffs were implemented.  Every man for himself.  And what have our republics gained in the past 30 years?  A few areas have more or less returned to the levels they were at in 1990.  When, in these past 30 years, we could have been building a real GDP!  We could be living 3 times better [than we do].

Kots:  Do you think it’s possible that a Union State could be so successful that even the Ukraine would want to join it?

Azarov:  Not without a change of regime in the Ukraine.  Currently the regime is neo-Nazi, anti-people.  Until it has been removed, nothing useful can be done.  The people there are actually ready for a change.  But people are also scared.

As for Russia and Belorussia — everything depends on the economic course.  If people are able to achieve high rates [of economic growth], then the Union will become attractive.  Although, it would seem that China, in just a short time, has become the leading economic powerhouse.  And yet the propaganda still works against it.  Everybody holds their nose:  “Yes, but they have a dictatorship there.”

You see, the attraction of a system doesn’t just depend on successes of the economy, but also on how the regime presents itself to the world.  But the fact is, that Russia, the Ukraine and Belorussia possess all the requisites, if working together, for rapid economic growth.  And then, within the next 20-30 years rise up to the level of China, Europe, America.

This could happen.  Or, it might take longer.  Or perhaps not at all.


Posted in Economics, Russian History, The Great Game | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Belarus Protesters, Directionless, Turn Into Herd

Dear Readers:

I have a big huge post coming out, probably tomorrow, also on the Belarus theme, but today just a super-quickie:  I saw this piece from KP by Alexei Ovchinnikov, who was there in Minsk over the weekend, covering the ritualistic Sunday protest.

As usual the protest was massive, proving that the Belorussian Opps can really get out the crowd, all of their supporters in one massif.  (Official Belorussian government estimates around 20,000 in all the regions, which is probably an underestimate, but who knows?  it’s hard to tell from the pictures, it sure looks like a lot of people to me.)

Anyhow, the key point here, aside from the fact that the stalemate continues (Opps can get out the crowd; but nobody in the government or security forces has flipped to their side) is that the success of the Opps marches relies on a piece of technology called Telegram Channels.  This open-source technology took the world by storm a few months ago, and has beat out Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of messaging.

Quoting the piece I just linked:

No, these aren’t TV channels. Telegram channels are somewhat different. Telegram is an open source app, which means that everyone can create content on it, and improve the platform. Channels aren’t the same as groups on Telegram.

Groups are smaller and mostly invite only. A group has a limit, 200,000 people max. Channels can have infinite members worldwide. They usually revolve around bigger topics and notions, for example, horror flick lovers.

Messages on Telegram channels are secure and encrypted end-to-end.  It’s a perfect tool for Color Revolutionaries!

Anyhow, what I am trying to get at, is that the organizers of the Belorussian Opp protests are heavily reliant on a Polish Telegram channel called NEXTA, via which their foreign leaders issue them their instructions and tactical directions during the marches.

And, according to Ovchinnikov, the Belorussian government has learned to counter this weapon by a simple method, of bringing parts of the internet down, right in the middle of the march!

Proof of Concept occurred yesterday when the Russian reporter witnessed clueless zmagary checking their phones and asking each other:  “Where are we supposed to go next?”  Instead of following a pronounced route, the protesters ended up just wandering around in circles, like a leaderless herd.

At a certain point they wandered towards the Patriotic War Museum, which was heavily guarded by security forces.  Soldiers trolled the demonstrators by blasting out patriotic Soviet war songs from loudspeakers.  Demonstrators responded by singing Ukrainian Banderite songs such as “Warriors of the Light”.

As time went on, the column of demonstrators grew quite huge, but, without their Polish minders, they still didn’t know where to go and just wandered around for hours, until evening came on, and then they dispersed.

Moral of the story:  Without internet, it is hard to function, as a professional revolutionary.  One is amazed how the Bolsheviks did it without internet.

Posted in The Great Game | Tagged | Leave a comment

Play it again, Batka: “You don’t give up what you love!”

Dear Readers:

Please treat this as a sort of Addendum to my last post.  The Belorussia news just keeps coming in thick and fast!  I can barely keep up…

First there are more details about that meeting Lukashenko had with the Women’s Forum on Thursday.  These are women who are loyal to him and voted for him, despite his gruff personality.  Here are a few sound-bites from Lukashenko’s speech:  “The situation in our Republic has been tense for the past few weeks.  The protesters wanted a quick and easy victory, but the security forces hindered them.  Their planned Blitzkrieg, under the White-Red-White flags, was not successful.”

Lukashenko continued:  “Then the Western nations started to exert political and diplomatic pressure upon the Republic.  Our neighbors even went the Venezuelan scenario and picked out their Belorussian Guaidikha.”  [His funny name for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the Pretenderess to the Throne of Belarus, alluding obviously to Juan Guaidó who pretends to be President of Venezuela.]

Lukashenko also informed his female supporters about his due diligence in fortifying the national borders with Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland, the three main enemies of his “regime”:  “These countries are participants in our internal disorders.  They are planning to use our Republic as a trampoline to attack their main enemy, Russia.”

Don’t Say It – Sing It!

Next we have some related news from the Wonderful World of Show Business.  Nobody ever imagined that the gruff and masculine Lukashenko could inspire a romantic song writer, or that the resulting product is better than 90% of the nonsense you hear at Eurovision Song Contest!  But it came to pass that a soundbite from one of Batka’s speeches inspired a group of Russian and Belorussian artists.  During the height of the crisis Lukashenko declared, in his big speech to the Belorussian Parliament and people:  “Belorussia is ours, she is beloved, and you don’t give up what you love.”  (Белоруссия наша, она любимая, а любимую не отдают.)

Evgeny Oleynik

Belorussian song-writer Evgeny Oleynik was so inspired by these words that he wrote a song based on them, as the refrain.  And then created a music video for it with beautiful and patriotic imagery.  The song never mentions Lukashenko, or the elections, or the Opposition, or the protests.  There is not one negative syllable in it.  It praises the Belorussian people and land, evoking patriotism and inspirational emotions: “Living on our own soil, in peace, love and harmony together…”You don’t give up what you love.”  This is a powerful piece of musical propaganda, evoking purely positive emotions about life, home, country, nature, family and children.  There is not one word in it which could offend anyone…  Oh wait!

[yalensis note:  I struggled with the translation of this refrain, which pronoun to use:  we, you, they.  Technically, it should be translated as the indeterminate “One does not give up what one loves.”  That’s the actual meaning, but “one” sounds stilted in contemporary English, so I just went with the pronoun “you”, even though there are semantic issues with that.]

Oleynik gathered together a team of Russian mega-stars to sing the various parts, each separately recording his or her own tracks (it’s an ensemble-ego work, not unlike Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World”).  The final product appeared on youtube just a couple of days ago, September 17, and was an instant cultural sensation, begetting a trending hashtag #любимуюнеотдают.  Various tracks were recorded by such famous singers as Anita Tsoi, Denis Maidanov, Filipp Kirkorov, Alexander Buynov, and Diana Gurtskaya.  Here is the song, please enjoy:

Although the song has not one negative note or thought, and is purely positive in its attitude, it enraged the Haters.

Hater Backlash

That part of the Russian-speaking world who are Liberal Oppositionists and kreakles — to whom it is an article of faith that Ukrainian Banderites are God’s angels, and Lukashenko is the Devil — hated the song the moment they heard it.  And not because it’s corny, but because they perceived it (correctly) as pro-Lukashenko in its intent, if not its wording.

Oleynik says, he started receiving online threats against himself and the performers, within just a couple of hours of publishing the music video.  Things got so bad that he had to remove the “Likes” and the comment section from his youtube.  Oleynik:  “Roughly two hours after the video was posted, a series of Oppositionist Telegram-channels started calling for bullying [Russian буллинг, a brand new borrowing from American English!] in the comment section.  These are the people who call themselves peaceful and amazing, but whom we, in Belarus, call zmagary [Belorussian fascists].  Within an hour they had penned around 1,000 threats against me, personally, the author of the video clip and song, and also against my beloved artists, who participated in the clip.  I simply don’t have the resources to moderate my own channel and remove anything that would upset the artists.  So, that’s why I switched off the comments.”

So much for living together in peace, love and harmony!  Maybe they should have a coke instead.

Baskov Buckles

One has to remember that Russian super-stars live in the same kind of bubble as their counterparts, Hollywood super-stars.  They have very fragile egos and are vulnerable to peer pressure.  Hence, it came to pass that, under the ideological onslaught of the kreakles, and zmagary, one of their number, Nikolai Baskov, caved under the pressure.  And this, sadly, has now led to a feud between Baskov and Kirkorov.  Once again, so much for living together in peace, love, and harmony!

Kirkorov: “Now you make me mad!”

Baskov: “I can’t stand it when people hate me.”

Although Baskov, who is actually Belorussian himself, sang a track on the song, he may have regretted it, the moment the hating started.  Haters posted such comments as:  “You are a traitor, the lowest of the low…. So, Kolya, how much did they pay you to sell your honor and sell out the Belorussian people?”  Baskov responded by distancing himself somewhat and even trying to “explain away” why he participated in this project.  The handsome Baskov apparently never learned the one true secret of being a great artist:  Never apologize.  For anything!  Did Mozart ever apologize?  I rest my case.

C’mon guys, just relax and have a coke!

At one point somebody apparently impersonating Baskov posted a quote on Twitter:  “Many artists came together to support Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belorussia.”  When he saw that, Baskov blew a gasket and felt the need to defend himself:  “This is not my Twitter or Facebook.  Respected media!  Before quoting someone, please verify the authenticity of the account!”

Personally I don’t see anything wrong in correcting something, if a quote is not attributed properly.  But in a case like that, one still has to stand one’s ground.  What Baskov should have said:  “Just for the record, that quote didn’t actually come from my account.  But it really doesn’t matter, because I feel the same way, I support Lukashenko and I am not going to apologize for that…”

I am not understanding all the nuances of the ensuing feud, but it seems like Kirkorov took offense at what he saw as Baskov’s squirmy backsliding, or caving in to public opinion.  Kirkorov posted his own aggrieved comment:  “I just wanted to say to you, (Baskov), have you lost your mind?  My dear friend, why are you waffling like this and trying to justify yourself?”  Kirkorov is right, in my opinion, and he obviously knows the first rule (and his entire career has shown this) of a major artist:  NEVER APOLOGIZE for your art!

Posted in Breaking News, Cat Fighting, Celebrity Gossip, The Great Game | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Batka And His Lady Problems

Dear Readers:

Returning to the Belorussian theme today.  I have a few short pieces to review, focusing on the various challenges facing Belorussia’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko.  Batka (“Papa”), as he likes to be known (seeing himself as the paternalistic Father of His Country) turned out to be, as American spies Nick and Mike allegedly complained in their intercepted phone call, “a tougher nut to crack” than was originally imagined.  Having lived his life in a bubble, believing, like Louis XVI, that all of his subjects loved him dearly, shocked to the core by the size of the protest movement, Lukashenko was supposed to simply give up, hand the government over to the Opposition (despite the fact that they did not win a plurality of the votes), and walk away.

President-in-waiting Tikhanovskaya, from her refuge in Lithuania, even graciously offered Lukashenko a guarantee of safe conduct out of Belorussia provided he agree to leave quietly and with his hands up.  Lukashenko’s reply to this offer was something along the lines of “And how many regiments do you command, Madam?”  To which she might have replied:  “All of NATO regiments, Sir.”  To which he might then retort:  “Yeah, but I got the Russian army on my side now.”  And so the stand-off continues…

Although the protests and demonstrations continue, like clockwork, every weekend, they are reportedly getting smaller every time.  All but the truly radicalized are starting to lose interest in this calm, but vicious struggle for the fate of a small nation which has the misfortune to stand at the crossroads of Pax Americana and the dwindling Russian Empire.

Meanwhile, as Radio Sputnik reports, the Belorussian working class did not heed the Opposition’s call to stop working and pour out into the streets for General Strike.  Only a few coffee houses, boutique stores and a few private studios in Minsk heeded the call (and even they resorted to cunning, claiming that they had closed for a “sanitary day”, i.e., “closed for cleaning”); while the masses of the industrial proletariat remained at their workshops and assembly lines, earning their crust the old-fashioned way.  I believe I called this one, back in a previous post.  Any strikes, especially general strikes don’t just happen because a politician goes on TV and calls for them.  It don’t work like that.  Years of ant-like, laborious work has to go into organizing workers to the point where they have enough discipline to sustain a major strike.

And, while my previous research seemed to indicate that the Opps did indeed have some support among certain Independent Trade Unions which grew out of the anti-Communist Labor Movement of the late 1980’s, apparently this was not enough to sway the tide against Lukashenko.  I could be wrong, because I have not seen any further news about those Potash Miners, so we shall have to see.  Also take into account that the Sputnik piece is pro-government propaganda, quoting the Belorussian Prosecutor General, as he boasts about the strike-fizzle and complains of the “cunning” of the kreakle boutiques who evade the anti-strike law.

For The Greater Good

Belorussia’s economic situation is bad enough nowadays, even without labor strikes.  The West has turned hard against Batka, the Western sanctions are aimed at destroying the Belorussian economy.  Making things so bad for ordinary people that they will holler Uncle (Sam) instead of Papa!  Belorussian Opp Valery Tsepkalo eggs on the sanctions and practically calls for the economic destruction of his own country.  Well, what can you do?  Nothing but a crowbar will remove this man with the 80% vote and a Kalashnikov from his Presidential mansion.

“A little shock therapy, Mr. Lukashenko. This will only hurt a bit…”

Tsepkalo’s ultimate goal is to pivot his country into the Western orbit, politically become a module of the American Empire; economically dependent on Western financial institutions, such as the IMF.  He advises Belorussian citizens to ditch the ruble (from their savings accounts) and start hoarding foreign currency.  This is a clever trick, because many ordinary Belorussians are doing precisely that already, not necessarily for political reasons, just as a common-sense hedge in case the Belorussian Ruble goes down the tubes.

But, as a thought experiment:  Imagine an American Presidential candidate advising the population:  “The dollar is shit, and our economy is in ruins.  You should put your savings in Chinese yuans.”

Tsepkalo: “Things have to get worse before they get better. Trust me.”

Fact:  The leading wing of the Belorussian Opposition does indeed intend to create or foster economic distress and even the collapse of their own country.  In the minds of these bourgeois ideologues, they believe this represents an unpleasant means to a greater good, namely the overthrow of Lukashenko, and the “democratization” of Belarus.  With all that entails:  EU membership, NATO, debt-slavery to the IMF; and even the glory of participating in a future war against the Russian Federation.  Lukashenko’s greatest weapon against these jackals was when he (=Batka) published their actual political program, which they themselves had tried to hide and scrub from the internet.  The majority of ordinary Belorussians would be appalled, were they to learn the actual intentions of their proposed new bosses.  Especially the juicy bits about breaking all ties with Russia, banning the Russian language, joining NATO, and privatizing the economy via shock therapy.

Some Russophiles make the naive mistake of believing that the Color Revolutionaries are naive sheep who do not understand the future consequences of their actions.  You see blog comments like:  “But don’t they get it, that this will destroy their economy?”

Yeah, they get it.  We’re not talking about ordinary people here, but about their proposed new leaders.  The professional Western-funded Oppositionists are not stupid people, they know damned well that if they win, ordinary people will suffer from the economic collapse.  But, giving them the benefit of the doubt, they think it’s still worth the misery, because, in the longer run, after a few years of shock therapy, the nation will start to bloom and prosper under market capitalism.  They point to Poland as the poster child and success-story of such a project.  In their minds, once Belarus begins to bloom (like Poland), then the suffering will have been worth it.  Especially since they themselves won’t be the ones doing the suffering during the next decade  or so, only regular working people, so it’s actually no skin off their backs.

What About The Ladies?

Now that we have some insight into the thought processes of Lukashenko’s opponents, it is time to review Batka’s relationship with the women of his country.  Given that women are prominent among the political Opposition, and that their vaginas endear them to the American Empire, with its phony-feminist ideology.  Batka is a perfect enemy for them:  a caveman, born in 1954 and still possessing that “Father Knows Best” kind of attitude.  A “traditionalist” patriarchal kind of guy, the type who believes that a woman’s place is in the home, raising kids and cooking dinner for him in the kitchen.  Batka’s sexism makes him particularly odious to Westie ideologues, but, frankly, they would hate him even if he was Mr. Sensitive.  Even if he were a flamboyant drag-queen or even transgender.  Frankly, Batka is just in their way.  He is holding on to a choice piece of real estate that they want for themselves!  Nor should people jump blindly to the notion that a national leader deserves to be overthrown simply because he’s a jerk, or has a gruff personality.  One needs to be a bit more mature in one’s thinking.  One needs to think about … yes, the Greater Good!

Juanita Guaidanovskaya: “I shake my little fist at you, Tyrant!”

So, I have two more short pieces, this first one about the anti-Lukashenko “Women’s Marches” — which, by the way, is straight out of the Gene Sharp playbook:  Sharp even invented the idea of women removing their clothing or tops as a form of protest  — not that the Belorussian women have been doing that, they are way too classy for that soft-porn stuff.

Anton Antonov reports that the Opposition Coordinating Council set up a sort of Women’s Auxiliary of their movement.  The Council denies the allegation that these women-only marches are financed by foreign agencies.  As the Council declaims:  “The female protest movement in the country exists due to the strength, courage and political will of the women; and does not receive financing from outside the country.”  These women are marching under the inspiring slogans of:  “They didn’t pay us to do this!” and “We don’t need to be paid to hate you!”

The Belorussian government retorts with:  “Aha!” and claim they found the source of the funding:  something called PandaDoc, which was founded in 2011 in the U.S. by two Belorussian emigres.  They claim this PandaDoc has a budget of 107,000 Belorussian rubles (equivalent to around $40K American bucks).  Which doesn’t sound like much, but probably enough to buy the banners and balloons, and stuff like that.

And finally, as counterpoint I have this piece, in which Batka fights back against this “Monstrous Regiment of Women” by attending his own PRO-Lukashenko women’s forum.  Under the moniker “For Belarus!

Natalia Eismont

This happened Thursday, day before yesterday.  There was a bit of a rocky start: Lukashenko’s gorgeous press secretary, Natalia Eismont mounted the stage and informed the estimated 10,000 participants that Lukashenko was not able to appear in person, after all.  But that he was grateful for the support and sent them, “the best girls and women of our country” his warmest greetings, via telegram.

Imagine their disappointment… but wait!  Lukashenko suddenly showed up after all, accompanied, as always, by his 15-year-old son Nikolai.  Descending from the stage, like a rock star, Batka greeted his female supporters in person, shaking their hands, etc.  They crowded around him eagerly while son Kolya watched shyly from a bit further away.  A pity, since many of these nice ladies might have liked to pinch the rosy cheeks of this young Cherubino.

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How America Plans To Sink Russian Submarines – Part IV

Dear Readers:

Today finishing off my review of this military/analytical piece.  Where we left off:  Author Alexander Timokhin asks the question, what should Russia do about this NATO challenge to its fleet?  NATO is not being very subtle, either.  With their exercises in the Barents Sea, and showing off all their fancy technology, like a monstrous stag preening its huge rack, Americans are practically tossing a gauntlet in Russia’s face, while trumpeting:  “All your Arctic are belong to ME!”

NATO asserts its dominance. How should Russian respond?

Well, if life hands you a lemon, then you should make some lemonade.  Timokhin advises Russia to make use of this unique opportunity to train its own fleet:

Russia should collect a few battle groups from within its fleet, send them into the water, and set them to the task of hunting and destroying the American-British-Norwegian group of ships.  [yalensis:  I don’t think he means literally.]  The Americans themselves will probably [he thinks, I doubt — lazy American military don’t like it when their war games diverge from script!] react positively to this call to “Come out and play with me!”  This will be a good chance for Russians to practice on a live opponent, and not just some dull computer simulation.  It would be a crime to miss this opportunity!

The Russian battle group can also train the skill of evading pursuit, and can practice air strikes against the U.S. and NATO forces, especially targeting the Seawolf.  Simulations don’t get any better than this.  In Soviet times, this was the practice, and no doubt was mutually beneficial, not to mention thrilling, to both parties.

Russian Northern Fleet hosts World Waterski Competition [just kidding]

However, trainings aside, there is a bigger rock to navigate, namely this:  The Russian navy badly needs to upgrade its technology.  Here it can also use the NATO exercises, and start building a database of the various sonar patterns and signals emanating from the NATO fleet.  This is precisely what the Chinese have been doing, every time NATO boats appear in their nearby waters.  And the Chinese are no chumps when it comes to tracking the NATO fleet.

Timokhin also warns, soberly:  Russia needs to seriously think about the fact that NATO is almost at the point where they can act brazenly against Russian submarines, almost right out in the open.  Things are getting very dicey out there in the cold waters.  Meanwhile, Russian Ministry of Defense just recently uttered something cryptic to the effect that they are “following” these NATO exercises closely.  We shall just have to see whether there will be a responding move from our side.


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How America Plans To Sink Russian Submarines – Part III

Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this military/analytical piece by Alexander Timokhin.  The subtext of his piece, I believe, is a patriotic plea to the Russian government:  Please spend more $$$ to upgrade our navy, because we have to keep up with the enemy!

Just saw, by the way, this related piece in The Telegraph.  The headline: Royal Navy leads four-nation Arctic mission to block Russian dominance.

Where we left off:  The author believes that the NATO ships currently swimming around in the Barents Sea are training to track Russian submarines, using infrasound emitters/detectors, which can “paint” a picture of what lies beneath.  The Russian navy does not possess a similar technology, according to Timokhin.  Although it has the capability and resources to develop it.

Towards the end of the 1990’s beginning of the 2000’s the Russian navy introduced a hydrographical vessel called the GS-31, into the Northern fleet.  This vessel was equipped with an experimental ГПБА station (компактные гибкие протяженные буксируемые антенны (“compact flexible low-towed antennae”), which, as one recalls, is towed behind the boat.  However, the Russian device differs somewhat from its NATO counterpart, and is inferior to it, being simply a passive antenna.  But even this primitive device proved its worth:  The Russian vessel, sitting in the middle of the Barents Sea, could “see” for hundreds of kilometers around, and “noticed” British and Norwegian submarines lurking below the water.

Example of an American nuclear “attack” submarine

That was during the era when the submarine “Connecticut”, of the “Seawolf” type, was prowling around and performing scouting missions against the Russian Federation.  Normally this sub would be invisible to the Russians; but with this one tiny hydrograph antenna, they could now see it clear as daylight and follow its route, right up to the edge of Russian territorial waters.  This was a huge breakthrough, and a big achievement for the Russian navy.

But one needs to go even further, according to the author.  Russia needs the better long-distance “illumination” technology that NATO ships possess.  Combined with a high-class computer complex that filters out noise and includes a database of previously recorded signals (digital fingerprints, if you will), then the results would be simply fantastic.  The NATO ships currently swimming around in the Barents have all of those bells and whistles, including the computer database.  And their antennae are better, too.  One can only imagine their range.

The Opponent’s Intentions

One can deduce the intentions of this well-equipped opponent.  It’s easy to tell, just by looking at the composition of the group.  Both the English and Norwegian frigates specialize in anti-submarine defense.  The American Destroyer, highly likely, is focused on anti-air defense.  Its job would be to defend the frigates against Russian air strikes.  This group also contains 4 helicopters, of which one is multi-purpose, and the other three specialize in anti-submarine.

Another goal of this training exercise would be to locate and catalogue any Russian submarines that are detected [yalensis:  And add them to their AI database?] and maybe even chase them.

The RDAF Challenger

Meanwhile the “Challenger” of the Royal Danish Air Force will assist with aerial surveillance during the course of the mission.  The assumption is that Russian boats might theoretically try to follow the NATO boats; so the Challenger will try to spot them from the air.

The tanker is there to provide fuel so that, theoretically, this NATO naval group can extend its stay in the Barents for quite a long time.  By conducting these training missions, the U.S. and NATO are demonstrating to Russia that they do not agree with Russia’s Arctic intentions, they do not believe that Russia has legitimate interests in the Arctic, and that they are not afraid of the Russian fleet.

The related message being:  We can see everything that you do, and we have a catalogue of every asset you own.  The Americans are practically saying, in black and white, that, in the course of any conflict, they can find and destroy the Russian submarines.  The Americans are also using this opportunity to train their allies, Norway and Denmark, for future war over the Arctic Ocean and land-crust.

How should Russia react to these displays of territorial dominance?

[to be continued]

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How America Plans To Sink Russian Submarines – Part II

ERRATUM:  I am modifying this post to fix a factual error, pointed out to me by one of my commenters.  What I translated as “ultra-sound” is actually its opposite:  “infra-sound”.  Infra-sound waves are very long in shape and have a frequency below 20 Hz, which is just below the human audible range.  Ultra-sound, the kind of technology which is used, e.g., to scan babies in the womb, has much shorter waves and uses a frequency that is higher than human hearing, approximately 20 kiloHerz.  Based on this, I  edited my post to change “ultra-sound” to “infra-sound” and also removed the reference to medical ultra-sound.

Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this military/analytical piece by Alexander Timokhin.  Where we left off:  By the 1980’s, the Americans had established their ability to detect Soviet submarines in virtually every water of the world’s ocean.  By placing vast nets of underwater detectors.  Some of this American activity could be justified from a defensive position, i.e., protecting their own shores, etc.  But they also combined this with the typically American penchant of believing that the entire world belongs to them.  A humorous remark:  The American system is called SOSUS (Sound Surveillance System), which in Russian is transliterated as СОСУС, which sounds rather naughty, since the Russian root /sos-/ means “to suck”.

Anyhow, it got to the point where the Soviet submarine fleet was completely blocked from entering the Atlantic Ocean (at least without detection).  The Soviets responded towards the end of the 1980’s with a newer, “quieter” submarine.  And the Americans countered this with hydro-acoustic technology.  [Which, if I am not mistaken, is usually referred to as “sonar”.]

A type of hydro-acoustic antenna.

This method consists of setting off acoustic waves under the water, the same way that whales and dolphins communicate, but using an emitter (излучатель). These waves reflect off the sought object, and then are detected by the hydro-acoustic antenna.  This device works on waves that are very long and have a low frequency; and its range of detection extends to great distances underwater.  This is called infra-sound technology.

Here is another technical term I just learned from reading this article: компактные гибкие протяженные буксируемые антенны (“compact flexible low-towed antennae”), abbreviated in Russian as ГПБА, and these devices are towed behind a ship[Which seems to me inferior than the older in-place “network” method, since it requires an actual towing boat.  Idea!  Why not kill 2 birds with one stone:  Have the same boat also tow water skiers!]  The towed emitter sends its long-wave signals into the water.  The returning reflections disclose not only the depth of the water, but also “draw a picture” of any objects lurking below.  The author assumes that it is precisely this device that is being towed by the NATO ships in the Barents Sea.  Their job is to detect Russian submarines.

Now, if this were a real war and not an exercise, then the NATO ГПБА system, having detected a Russian submarine, would then transmit the coordinates to the nearest NATO nuclear-powered submarine in the area; which would then hunt, attack and destroy the Russian submarine.

High-energy sonar from the 1990’s killed a lot of whales.

Here is another detail:  In the 1990’s these infra-sound transmissions proved to be very harmful to marine life, since they emitted so much energy (which also made them vulnerable to attack by anti-ship rockets).

But now things are different.  The infra-sound has become much quieter, weaker in energy, and yet at the same time gives a much higher resolution and quality.  The emitters can be placed on ships, smaller boats, helicopters and even navigational buoys.  This is really great technology, and so one must imagine that the Russian navy possesses something similar?

Alas, no!

[to be continued]

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How America Plans To Sink Russian Submarines – Part I

Dear Readers:

In this new series, I review this military/analytical piece by Alexander Timokhin.  The topic is detecting submarines.  Timokhin attempts to shed some light on the military stand-off between Russia and America; and also pointing out gaps on the Russian side which need to be fixed, if Russia hopes to survive what seems like almost inevitable war.

The sitrep:  Russia’s northern shores are currently teeming with NATO ships.  There is no aircraft carrier involved, which is why the presence of all these boats attracted little attention in the media.  However, the Russian military is taking the appearance of this escadron quite seriously.

The NATO boats are swimming around on the surface of the Barents Sea, while Russian submarines observe them from below.  Recall that the Barents is part of the larger Arctic Ocean, and is shared by Russia and Norway.

The NATO flotilla includes such vessels as the Type-23 Frigate HMS Sutherland of the British navy; the tanker Tidespring also of the British navy; the Destroyer USS Ross of the American navy; and the Frigate Thor Heyerdahl of the Royal Norwegian Navy.  These boats are being assisted by the patrol airplane Challenger of the Royal Danish Air Force.  The Challenger is a very classy plane, but does not carry weapons.  In addition to these objects, Russia has recently learned that the atomic-powered submarine USS Seawolf is also lurking somewhere in these cold dark waters.  Probably with Captain Wolf Larsen at the helm!  When asked why so many boats, NATO just responds glibly:  “It’s a training.”

Captain Wolf Larsen patrols the mean waters.

But what are they really doing out there?  Timokhin asks suspiciously.  The answer is simple:  They are conducting a scouting mission, trying to flush out Russian submarines!

Since Soviet times, the main striking force of the Russian navy = submarines.  And for a long time the U.S. has been scheming and trying to figure out how to oppose these submarines in the course of a war.  The American armed forces have achieved enormous successes in their methodology, not just of finding hidden submarines, but also have created a very effective world-wide system of defending against them.  This system is called SOSUS (Sound Surveillance System).  It consists of a network of hydrophones placed in strategic points in the oceans of the world, on the bottom of the ocean, or in various crevices.  Russian submarines of the first generation could be detected even at great distances, thousands of kilometers away.  This system was later supplemented by other forms of surveillance, for example, satellites that can detect the underwater wake of an atom-powered submarine.

By the end of the Cold War, the Americans had laid whole fields of huge antennae in all regions of the World’s Ocean.  The first networks of hydrophones were placed, obviously, along America’s own shores; and also in the Caribbean Sea.  Another network stretched from Greenland to Britain.  Still another bisected the Pacific Ocean, making it impossible for Soviet submarines to swim towards Hawaii undetected.

An example of an underwater robot.

Still later, networks of detectors were installed in the Norwegian and Japanese Seas — by this point the USSR, and then Russia, was squeezed in from all sides, and their submarines could no longer operate with any degree of freedom.  At the end of the 1980’s the British, using a huge 12-meter underwater robot named Theseus, installed sonar nets in the Nares Strait and Canadian archipelago.  In this manner, the Soviet fleet became completely isolated from the Atlantic Ocean.

However, in the 1980s the Soviet Union began to developer “quieter” submarines.  And then the Americans started to counter that with better hydro-acoustic technology.

[to be continued]

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Navalniana: Bad Spies And Bad Actors – Part VI

Dear Readers:

Today concluding my review of Krutikov’s piece.  This all started when Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko exploded with a couple of bombshell revelations.  First he leaked a snippet of an intercepted conversation between two secret agents, Mike in Warsaw and Nick in Berlin.  Their conversation relating to Navalny’s alleged “poisoning” and its relationship to the Belorussian Color Revolution.

Just to recap, here is the snippet that Lukashenko leaked; as we have now learned, both spies are speaking in American (in the original), this snippet was translated and leaked in Russian, and Yours Truly has translated it back to English, with the caveat that my blind translation cannot possibly, by all the laws of human language, be identical to the original, which I do not possess.  [Mr. Lukashenko:  could you pretty please publish the whole original, in English, for my convenience?]:

Warsaw: Hello! Good morning, Nick! How’s it going?

Berlin: Everything is proceeding according to plan. The Navalny materials are ready to go. They will be forwarded to the Chancellor’s office. Then we just wait for her announcement.

Warsaw: We got confirmation of the poisoning?

Berlin: Listen, Mike, that’s not important, given the situation. There’s a war going on. And during a time of war, any methods are justified.

Warsaw: I agree. We need to push Putin back, when he tries to stick his nose into Belarus affairs. The most effective path is to drown him in Russia’s problems, of which there are many! All the more so, as they themselves have elections coming up in the near future, elections in the Russian regions.

Berlin: We are looking into that. And how are things going in Belarus?

Warsaw: To be honest, not all that well. President Lukashenko turned out to be tough nut to crack. They are very professional and organized. It goes without saying that Russia supports them. The bureaucrats and military types are loyal to the President. We’re working on it. I’ll tell you the rest when we meet, but not over the phone.

Berlin: Yes, yes, I understand. Then bye, until we meet.

Warsaw:  Bye bye.

When this snippet was leaked, the German and Polish governments erupted in outrage, at the insinuation that their top-grade international secret agents would communicate in such cartoonish terms, sounding like five-year-olds.  But then President Lukashenko clarified, that both spies were in fact Americans, and then all became clear.

Anyhow, the plot thickened when Lukashenko recently doubled down and insisted, not only that he has tons more of such intercepted juicies, but that he gets them from his crack Radio-Electronic Surveillance troops, stationed in the Grodno Oblast, who have ears “all the way to Berlin.”

Krutikov disputes this, he doesn’t believe that (a) Belorussia has enough super computers to crack such signals on a daily basis; or that (b) the Radio-Electronic Surveillance troops even engage in this sort of spying.  Instead, he posits  his own theory that the intercepted conversation (if it actually happened) probably took place just on a regular cellphone, and the callers were careless and maybe turned on Roaming or something, instead of using a private encrypted network (?)

Personally, I am trending to believe Lukashenko.  My explanation is that his crack spies in Warsaw have helped themselves (via human intelligence or social engineering) to the Polish Daily Enigma Code Book, or whatever they call it.  Which means that Batka may have committed a boo-boo by revealing this; now the Poles will tighten up their security again!  But back to Krutikov:

How To Listen In

Krutikov:  In order to listen in on a normal land-line telephone conversation, one needs to attach a device physically to the phone itself.  This requires breaking into the target’s house, obviously.

Lukashenko: “I like to listen, sometimes.”

On occasion a different sort of apparatus is used to attach to the telephone line itself, and such an apparatus requires a small electrical current of its own, which it leeches from the wire.  This is why, when you are being wiretapped in this fashion, you can sometimes hear little clicks on the line.

Then digital technology came about, and completely changed the world as we know it.  Having said that, certain basic factors never change.  Encryptions still use the same basic techniques, such as a key or code book.  Whether you are trying to decrypt an analog or digital signal, you need to know the key to the cypher.  As encryption methods become more complicated, so do the decryption methods struggle to catch up.  But the same basic rules of protocol will always apply; for example, when talking on the phone never say out loud somebody’s name, geographical location, or phone number.

Krutikov’s concluding paragraph:  It will be very interesting to learn whether Lukashenko did actually get something here, and to what extent his claims match reality.  A different issue is that his performance with [Russian Prime Minister] Mishustin in front of the TV cameras, did not look completely spontaneous; but nor did it appear to be well rehearsed either.  His reference to the Radio-Electronic Surveillance troops was not convincing.  If true, then he has unwillingly disclosed Minsk’s capabilities to carry out special operations in Warsaw.  That’s something the Poles will have to think about.


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Navalniana: Bad Spies And Bad Actors – Part V

Dear Readers:

Before finishing up with Krutikov’s technological analysis of the plausibility of President Lukashenko’s claims to have intercepted super-secret spy conversations….

Well, golly, we have breaking news and another bombshell revelation!  Belorussian President Lukashenko doubled down on his previous bombshell revelation by clarifying, that the spies heard on the tape (Nick and Mike) are not Polish and German spies, as everybody assumed; rather, both are Americans, and both speak in pure American English.  [It follows that the snippet that we saw earlier, when this story broke, was translated from American to Russian.  In Part I of this series, I translated it back from Russian to English, but is highly dubious my back-translation would match the original, which I do not possess.  Just sayin’…]

Before unpacking Luka’s latest [the reporter is Natalia Anufrieva, who always dishes up good scoops], we take a moment to check in with the Der Spiegel correspondent in the German hospital.  Where, doctors say, Mr. Navalny is feeling much better today, and nicely recuperating from his Novichok poisoning.  When Lukashenko’s first bombshell broke, Navalny miraculously came out of his coma and was taken off the ventilator.  With this new revelation, Navalny started to talk again, with his usual glibness, one might guess.  And even started receiving visitors in his hospital room.  What’s next?  As some internet wags have said, Lukashenko must be the greatest healer on the planet.  All he has to do is publish one more tape, and Navalny will be walking again, even running or skipping!

Thank you, Batka!

But back to Lukashenko.  Batka just can’t remain silent, because people, even the Russian mainstream press, were laughing at him and disbelieving his story about the intercepted tape.  Practically accusing him of making the whole thing up, like Baron Münchhausen.

Every human being has his or her classic weakness, Achilles Heel, so to speak.  With Batka, it’s his pride.  He cannot stand not being believed, especially when he’s telling the truth:  “We most certain did intercept this conversation,” he scolded the Russian press, “however much you want to giggle about it.  This is a real conversation, it actually happened, perhaps [at some point] we can even let you listen to the recording.  But right now it is the property of the [Russian] FSB.  So you can stop joking about this, and we have a ton of similar intercepts.  But this particular one was so clear and so particular.  Can you understand that I am speaking to you in Jesuitical language?”

Lukashenko goes on to say, that, after intercepting this conversation, his technical specialists restored it “down to the last millimeter.  We handed over [to the Russians] the actual tape, the documents, and even the envelope in which this information arrived on our desk.  Everything is over there.  In the hands of Alexander Vasilievich [Bortnikov, head of Russian FSB].  Go and ask him, you’ll see.”

Batka: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

Lukashenko continues his Hamletesque soliloquy:  “And by the way, this particular tape, it’s only the first buds of spring.  Soon we shall see the fruits.  You’ll see, and then you’ll believe.  But I have to keep my mouth shut from now on.”

But then ripped the duck tape off his mouth to add:  “By the way, these spies are Americans, not Germans or Poles.”  And reassuring those who might trust him more than they trust the Russian government:  “Don’t worry, I still kept a copy, but not the original.  But it’s a real copy of this voice.  Speaking English, and not just any English, but specifically American English.”

Lukashenko also could not resist bragging about the technological capabilities of the Belorussian state:  “We have a very cool (шикарнейший) center of control of radio-electronic surveillance, we have very classy military specialists in this arena.”  [Recall that Krutikov disses this idea that the signals were intercepted by the military, trending to think it was a more routine interception of a cellphone conversation that was not properly encrypted.]

Like a bragging Bond villain showing off his lair in the center of a volcano, Batka goes on to give away dicey state secrets:  “We are very fortunate to be able to participate in this information war.  Near Grodno — it was my idea to build that center…[…]  It’s like looking into the clear waters of a lake, we can see all the way to Berlin, find out what’s going on.  And this turned out to be really useful.  We can see everything, hear everything, ALL ALL ALL of these conversations!”

[to be continued]

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