Valued reader Ortensio F. posted a comment on my blog alluding to a Telegram “Tweet” posted yesterday by Viktor Alksnis, aka “The Black Colonel”.
I want to discuss this tweet, but I plan to do this in two parts: Today I’ll just translate Viktor’s tweet, and also give some background to the unique biography of this Russian patriot.
Then tomorrow we can review the source material together, both the piece that he linked, and also another piece I found in the Russian mainstream media.
This all has to do with the grain/fertilizer deal, and ancillary issues such as prisoner exchanges. So, let’s get started.
A Brief Biography
In his Telegram profile, Alksnis explains why he calls himself The Black Colonel: “I confirm that this really is me, Viktor Imantovich Alksnis, a Peoples Deputy of the USSR, also a Parliamentary Deputy of the Duma of the Russian Federation. Why do I call myself the Black Colonel? That’s what the Liberal media called me back in the 90’s, when they accused me of attempting a military coup.”
Viktor is the grandson of Yakov Alksnis (Latvian Jēkabs Alksnis), a Latvian Old Bolshevik (I don’t know if he was Jewish or not, his first name implies his might have been, but I’m not sure) and Communist military leader. Eventually Yakov was promoted to head the Soviet Air Force. Like thousands of other Soviet officers (and like one of my own ancestors), Alksnis perished in the 1938 batch of purges, victims of Stalin’s paranoia and Voroshilov’s dishonest manipulations. Long story, no time… Yakov was officially rehabilitated in the late 1950’s, but not before his wife and family members had suffered a lifetime of persecutions, as relatives of an “enemy of the people”. Fast forward to the 1990’s, where grandson Viktor, a loyal Communist and Soviet patriot, opposed the break-up of the USSR. Viktor put together an Opposition group against the Gorbachov/Yeltsin coup. They failed, but Viktor survived the subsequent purges, and managed to find lots of other things to keep him busy, in his life. In the current Russia-Ukraine war, Viktor takes a hawkish approach and criticizes Putin from the Left. As a hard-line Communist and member of the systemic Opposition, Alksnis has been very critical of Putin’s handling of this war and considers the Russian President to be “too soft”. With an insinuation about the true cause of the softness.
Here is my translation of Viktor’s tweet:
I do not understand the President of the Russian Federation. A war is raging in the Ukraine, and it seems like this should be the main focus of his activity. But instead of this, he is welcoming a Russian oligarch named Dmitry Mazepin, the owner of the company Ural-Khim, and discussing with him a purely commercial problem: The renovation of the ammonia pipeline Togliatti-Odessa. It seems the oligarch is suffering some financial losses. Moreover, this important meeting was broadcast on the TV channel Rossiya-24.
In the past, also in order to help out this same oligarch, Putin issued the command to withdraw troops from the Kharkov Oblast. Given that this misbegotten pipeline runs through Kharkov territory. And that the Ukrainians demanded such withdrawal as a condition for renewing [and permitting] the transit of the ammonia. As a result of this “assistance”, the Ukrainian Armed Forces advanced all the way to the state border with Russia; and now on a daily basis, and with full impunity, continue to shell the Belgorod Oblast [of the Russian Federation], killing innocent citizens of the RF while destroying residential homes and infrastructure.
Now, once again, Putin has promised to help this oligarch solve his problems. What will he give in return? Zelensky is demanding of Putin, in exchange for renovating the ammonia pipeline, an exchange of prisoners by the formula “All for all”. But here’s the thing: We have around 10,000 Ukrainian POW’s, and they have only around 500 of our guys. Is this considered an even exchange? Frankly, I am worried that Putin will agree to this deal. And not just to this. I have the impression that he is willing to do just about anything to serve the interests of the Russian oligarchs. While the deaths of the Belgorod residents, and of our soldiers and officers, seems to be of secondary importance to him.
At the very least, he needs to explain, once and for all, to the citizens of Russia, what exactly it is he intends to achieve in Ukraine, and whither he is leading the nation. Instead of meeting with an oligarch in front of the television cameras, maybe he should conduct a meeting with Minister of Defense S. Shoigu and with the Commander-in-Chief General Surovikin; they should be discussing the general situation and the course of events in Ukraine; not to mention the shelling of Belgorod. Unfortunately, I doubt that we shall see such a televised meeting, or that we will finally get to hear what the President thinks about these issues.
Next: The same topic of Ammonia deals, this time from the Russian mainstream media.
[to be continued]