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Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Putin. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Putin. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, marzo 24, 2015

Radical Chechen President Becoming Ticking Time Bomb for Putin

Breitbart
By Mary Chastain
s1.zetaboards.com

Analysts following what appears to be a developing political crisis in Russia suspect the growing tensions engulfing the Kremlin may be a product of the workings of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, once a loyal ally to President Vladimir Putin.

On February 27, a gunman murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow just feet away from the Kremlin. Russians and international media immediately suspected it was an inside job, especially when the Kremlin revealed the security cameras were not working due to maintenance.
Eyebrows raised higher when the Kremlin arrested four Chechens for the murder. One man, Zaur Dadayev, confessed to the murder. Dadayev is a “former deputy commander in a Chechen police unit” and close to Kadyrov, who claimed Dadayev was “fully devoted to Russia” on his Instagram account.
“Everyone who knows Zaur says he is deeply religious person and like all Muslims was very shocked by the actions of Charlie [Hebdo] and by comments supporting the printing of the caricatures,” he wrote. “If the court finds Dadayev guilty then by killing a person he has committed a grave crime. But I want to note that he could not do anything that was against Russia, for which he has risked his own life for many years.”
Nemtsov recently noticed a “fray” between Putin and Kadyrov. Putin has continued publicly supporting Kadyrov, despite the numerous human rights violations in Chechnya. Giving Kadyrov the presidency allowed the 38-year-old to “create the Islamic republic that Chechen separatists had dreamed of – albeit one entirely reliant on Moscow for financial support and where Shariah law is selective, not absolute.” But critics believe Kadyrov is now “seeking power and relevance far beyond his base” within Chechnya. Nemtsov was one of the more outspoken critics of this relationship.
“I cannot understand what Putin expects when arming 20,000 Kadyrovtsy gathered today in the stadium in Grozny,” Nemtsov wrote on Facebook. “What will happen next? The country is entering a crisis. There is not enough money for anything, including the support of regions. And the unspoken contract between Putin and Kadyrov — money in exchange for loyalty — ends. And where will 20,000 Kadyrovtsy go? What will they demand? How will they behave? When will they come to Moscow?”
The Chechen security forces are known as “Kadyrovtsy,” even though they are part of the national Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, in private, the soldiers must “swear a personal oath to Kadyrov.” He treats Chechnya the same way. From The Moscow Times:
Of the $30 billion in federal funds spent on the North Caucasus between 2000 and 2010, for example, the lion’s share went to Chechnya. Downtown Grozny has been transformed with whole herds of white elephant prestige projects, from glittering (and largely empty) office blocks to the huge Akhmad Kadyrov mosque (named for Ramzan’s father).
However, behind this apparent renewal lies a reality of massive embezzlement for the new elite and minimal benefit for most ordinary Chechens.
Kadyrov is petulant, willful, vain and unpredictable. When his sports minister aroused his ire, he expressed it by pummeling him in the boxing ring. His collection of supercars includes one of only 20 $1.25 million Lamborghini Reventons ever made — no mean feat for a man whose reported annual income is around a tenth of that.
While fingers pointed at Putin, four people told Bloomberg he was not happy about the murder:
Putin was furious when he learned of the killing, which occurred on a bridge near the Kremlin, four people familiar with the matter said. Putin, who took charge of the probe and then disappeared from public view for a week, became even more alarmed when investigators said they’d traced a hit list of other critics to Chechnya, another person said. Putin has given Kadyrov free rein to kill jihadis and create what even former Chechen officials such as Beslan Gantamirov have called a brutal police state.
“Putin has become a hostage to his own policy of radicalizing supporters so they can spring to action whenever he needs them,” said Alexander Baunov, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “His authoritarianism is sliding into decentralized terror. His backers think he’s much more radical than he really is and are acting without clear orders.”
The FSB, which used to be the KGB, hate Kadyrov, experts believe.
“The F.S.B. hate Ramzan because they are unable to control him,” claimed Alexey Malashenko, a Caucasus expert. “He does whatever he wants, including in Moscow. Nobody can arrest members of his team if there is no agreement with Putin.”
Kadyrov said he will always be Putin’s “faithful companion, regardless of whether he is president or not. To give one’s life for such a person is not an easy task.” Some analysts believe it is a veiled threat:
If Kadyrov were indeed freelancing into political assassinations in Moscow and were allowed to walk away unpunished, he would be taking Putin and the entire Russian leadership hostage, which might be precisely his plan. This would be a threat to the Russian state that the FSB would be legally obligated to fight.
Kadyrov has been raising his political profile and sought to position himself as Putin’s most trusted lieutenant and even a peer ruler, aiming at a higher federal role. His brazen forays into Russia’s foreign and security policy, and his attempts to speak on behalf of all Russia’s Muslims, unnerved many in Moscow.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said people within the Kremlin took it as a threat. Since Nemtsov died, Putin awarded Kadyrov the “Order of Honour” just a few days after he praised Dadayev and received two more state awards.
Kadyrov just might be Putin’s undoing. From Business Insider:
Either way, an increasing number of Kremlin-watchers are coming to the conclusion that the period beginning on February 27 with Nemtsov’s assassination and continuing through Putin’s odd vanishing act marks the dawn of late Putinism — the twilight of the regime in its current form.
“Has the Russian regime’s agony begun?” asks a recent article by the prominent Russian political analyst Lilia Shevtsova in The American Interest.
Shevtsova notes that Putin’s “steely-eyed resolve” is gone, he “is losing control,” and “can’t give his entourage clear orders.” Nemtsov’s assassination, she adds, has “shattered the mirrored window concealing the Kremlin; now everyone can see the mess within.”

jueves, marzo 12, 2015

Questions About Putin’s Health After Canceled Meetings & Vague Answers

A ceremony to sign a treaty of integration between Russia and South Ossetia  scheduled for today March 11 was cancelled, RBC.ru reported, causing further speculation about the state of health of President Vladimir Putin.
The ceremony was to essentially formally annex South Ossetia, a breakaway territory from Georgia which Russia took over after the 2008 war with Georgia. A delegation had already arrived for the meeting from the capital of Tskhinvali, by24.org reported.
This was the second cancellation of a meeting on a priority issue for Putin; the first was the summit of the Eurasian Customs Union in Astana, Kazakhstan, which has now been postponed "for a few days," says sources in Kazakhstan, according to a Reuters report.
But Nezavisimaya Gazeta says that the reason the South Ossetia ceremony was cancelled was because the agreement was not sufficiently prepared. A vote of confidence was put on the agenda of the South Ossetia parliament regarding David Sanakoyev, head of the republic, who had published the draft agreement in the local press on his own initiative without the consent of the leadership. So there may have been valid reasons to halt the signing -- but it seems odd that it got as far as it did, with the participants already in Moscow.
Concern has been raised that two meetings that the official web site kremlin.ru said took place this week, with governors from Karelia and Yamal-Yenets, actually took place last week, and were only published this week. Sources say Aleksandr Khudilaynen, the governor of Karelia actually met with Putin last week, and Dmitry Kobylkin, governor of Yamal-Yenets was not in Moscow on March 10.
In the absence of any solid information, news broadcasts said to be made of Putin March 10 and March 11 are being closely examined. Do the calendars in the meetings with Kobylkin and Khudilaynen show single digits, indicating the filming was done last week?
Kobylkin.jpg
Or is this not a calendar, but perhaps a stand with an inspirational quote?

Meanwhile, without confirmation of Putin's condition, and concern that meetings at the Kremlin reported this week in fact took place last week, Russkiy Monitor has gone ahead and published an email received by the editorial office claiming that Putin  had a stroke. 

jueves, marzo 05, 2015

MMA Legend Fedor Emelianenko on God, Dana White, and Putin

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Fedor Emelianenko addressed questions about God and the UFC with Breitbart Sports but he tapped out on a discussion of Vladimir Putin.

The former Pride heavyweight champion and current Russian officeholder, still exuding a strange combination of humility and intimidation, appeared at Bellator 134 over the weekend. Before intently watching the competition cageside at Mohegan Sun Arena, a stone-faced Fedor signed autographs and posed for pictures for two hours alongside Royce Gracie and Kimbo Slice in the Uncasville, Connecticut, casino. The visual of the sport’s founding father, arguably its greatest combatant, and a mere dabbler made famous by bareknuckle YouTube brawls all sitting together nevertheless left more than one passerby to exclaim, “Hey, look! It’s Kimbo Slice!”
Fedor Emelianenko and Royce Gracie
Emelianenko went unbeaten for nearly a decade, an unprecedented perfection streak at least in elite-level mixed-martial arts. During his incredible 28-fight unbeaten run he triumphed over such notables as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, and Mark Coleman. But he never stepped inside the UFC’s octagon despite the promotion offering big money, eventually building a stable of the best fighters, and promotion president Dana White dubbing the acquisition of Fedor an “obsession.”
“The organization must first learn to respect the people with whom they wish to work,” Emelianenko told Breitbart Sports in Russian. “I did not sign up because the UFC organization does not show respect for the people that work for it.”
The UFC dubbed Fedor’s handlers difficult and his demands unreasonable after several failed attempts to land the mixed-martial artist many deem the best ever.
The fighter holds a very different view of the organization paying him to serve as an ambassador for the brand in retirement.
“In contrast to [the UFC],” the 34-4 pugilist noted, “I have known [Bellator President Scott] Coker for a long time, and he is an old friend. He invited me to come to Bellator and I agreed with pleasure.”
Emelianenko fought four times under Coker’s Strikeforce promotion. Three of the Russian’s four career losses occurred there—to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, and Dan Henderson—before he rebounded with three consecutive victories to close out his career. Despite his association with Coker corresponding with the only real fallow stretch of his career, Fedor clearly looks upon the promoter, who now runs Viacom’s Bellator MMA, with fondness.
The fledgling political leader looked upon Breitbart Sports’s question about Vladimir Putin with decidedly less enthusiasm. Emelianenko won election to a provincial duma in 2010 as a member of the ruling United Russia Party and Putin subsequently named the national hero, whom he has watched ringside, to Russia’s Council of Physical Fitness & Sports. Whether from a desire to avoid mixing sport and politics, commenting on domestic matters in a foreign country, prolonging an already long afternoon, or becoming this man should his words get lost in translation, Fedor gave the question about explaining Putin’s popularity in Russia to an American audience a great, big nyet. Emelianenko did not speak but his silence said something.
Part of Emelianenko’s popularity in his homeland stems from his soft-spoken devotion to Christ. Where other mixed-martial artists might sport a tattoo or two (or two hundred), the inkless Fedor wore a wooden cross into the cage and ring. Like other fighters, Fedor traveled with an entourage. But it included a bearded Russian Orthodox priest. Rather than join the Red Devil Sport Club, he prevailed upon them to alternatively call themselves the “Saint Alexander Nevsky Club,” named in honor of the medieval Russian patriot, or the “Imperial Team.” He talked God rather than trash.
His faith helped him as a fighter, he avowed, but it helps him more broadly as a man.
“In my opinion, faith helps in many contexts,” Fedor told Breitbart Sports. “One needs to live every day according to God’s commandments. And then any kind of difficulty or unpleasantness will be manageable.”

miércoles, febrero 18, 2015

Suenan tambores de guerra (y un bongó castrista) en Europa

cubanalisis
Antonio Arencibia
questiondigital.com
No quiero exagerar, pero en estos momentos el mundo visto desde España es mucho más amenazador que el que observan mis amigos desde las playas floridanas. Ellos están casi a un tiro de piedra de Cuba, y viven con intensidad cualquier detalle que repercuta en la Isla, en especial todo lo que cambie en las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y el régimen de La Habana. Por mi parte, 70 años después de la derrota nazi, veo venir un choque militar que puede involucrar no solo el conflicto en Ucrania, sino a los países del Báltico miembros de la Unión Europea, debido a nuevas provocaciones rusas, como fuera el envío de dos bombarderos nucleares al Canal de la Mancha.

Todos los gobiernos del viejo continente están alarmados, pero no aceptan la propuesta de Estados Unidos de dar ayuda militar al gobierno de Kiev, aunque Rusia ha dotado a los separatistas de de tanques, transportes blindados para infantería, cohetería reactiva móvil y sistemas de defensa antiaérea De ahí que este fin de semana se haya producido una reunión de urgencia en Moscú entre Ángela Merkel, François Hollande y Vladimir Putin para frenar los combates entre los pro-rusos y las tropas gubernamentales ucranianas, mediante el despliegue entre ambas fuerzas de un contingente de cascos azules.

Raúl Castro repite las mentiras de Putin

Lo que es seguro es que ningún país de la Unión Europea puede aceptar estas palabras del dictador cubano Raúl Castro en la III Cumbre de la CELAC:

Reiteramos la preocupación por los enormes y crecientes gastos militares impuestos al mundo por Estados Unidos y la OTAN, así como el intento de extender la agresiva presencia de esta hasta las fronteras de Rusia, con la cual tenemos históricas y fraternales relaciones, mutuamente provechosas. Declaramos enérgica oposición a la imposición de sanciones unilaterales e injustas contra esa nación. (1)

No hay mejor respuesta a esa falacia del anciano general sin batallas que un extracto del artículo del profesor Thimothy Garton Ash, que ha sido ampliamente difundido por la prensa mundial:

Vladímir Putin es el Slobodan Milosevic de la antigua Unión Soviética: igual de malvado, pero más grande. Detrás de una cortina de mentiras, ha renovado su empeño en crear un seudo-estado marioneta en el este de Ucrania. En el puerto de Mariupol, en el mar Negro, mueren inocentes. En la asediada Debaltseve, una mujer recoge agua de un charco enorme en la carretera. Los escombros de lo que era el aeropuerto de Donetsk evocan una escena propia de la atribulada Siria. En este conflicto armado han muerto ya alrededor de 5.000 personas, y más de 500.000 han tenido que dejar sus hogares. Europa, preocupada por Grecia y la eurozona, está dejando que se produzca otra Bosnia ante sus propias puertas. Despierta, Europa. (2)

Es importante señalar que las opiniones de Castro sobre Rusia y la OTAN no recibieron apoyo alguno en la Declaración de la Cumbre de Costa Rica. Fue un solo de bongó y no un tambor de guerra, porque de veras aquellos tiempos de aventurerismo militar han pasado. Por cierto, tampoco se toca en la declaración ni el tema de la devolución de la base de Guantánamo, ni el disparatado reclamo de indemnización por el embargo.

Como dice mi colega y amigo Eugenio Yáñez, esos temas eran “para La Caverna en la Isla: los “come-candela”, los “patria o muerte”, los de “pa’lo que sea, Fidel, pa’lo que sea”…” (3). Yo creo como él, que “[n]inguno de los dos hermanos Castro es suicida como para rechazar, en medio del caos cubano creado por ellos mismos, la oportunidad de mantenerse en el poder con dólares de EEUU”. (3)

Lo conversado en secreto con los norteamericanos durante 18 meses no se puede torpedear con un discurso aunque en el mismo se hagan nuevas exigencias desproporcionadas. Con Washington no cabe la marcha atrás, so pena de recibir la retirada de lo ya acordado. Ni los políticos ni el pueblo norteamericanos pueden aceptar que le escupan a su presidente la bandeja de las ofertas, como le hicieron a George W. en Mar del Plata.

Eso sí, por otro lado, las críticas del jefe del régimen a la Unión Europea por sus sanciones a Rusia añaden nuevas asperezas al ya viciado ambiente de la tercera ronda de negociaciones con la Unión Europea, -ya pospuesta por dos meses-, porque se trata de negociar un acuerdo de diálogo político y cooperación que tiene que ver con derechos y libertades para los cubanos, y eso la dictadura cubana ni lo va a abordar en serio, ni puede hacerlo sin renunciar a su esencia. No es que vayan a hacer descarrilar el diálogo pero los europeos deben saber que lo que se les pide son inversiones y donativos y que de lo otro, nada, ni a Washington, ni a Bruselas.

El error de diseño de la CELAC

En los últimos 15 años los gobiernos latinoamericanos han seguido un rumbo que los aparta de Estados Unidos. Todo comenzó en la IV Cumbre de las Américas de noviembre del 2005 en Mar del Plata, con el rechazo a la propuesta de George W. Bush de constituir un Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas. El apoyo de unos y el silencio de otros le hicieron el juego a Lula da Silva, Hugo Chávez y Néstor Kirchner, y aunque el gran instigador, Fidel Castro, estaba ausente, vio cumplido su sueño al saber que el presidente de los Estados Unidos era ninguneado en una reunión hemisférica.

Desde entonces, todo ha seguido “cuesta abajo” como en el tango. Los gobernantes regionales, no contentos con un embrión de integración en Mercosur, después crearon Unasur, y actualmente están agrupados en numerosas coaliciones subregionales. Una de ellas, el ALBA, empezó una política de subsidios a cambio de respaldo político a posiciones antinorteamericanas, y hoy existen más de diez bloques de todo tipo en el hemisferio. La Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC) con 33 miembros es la mayor de todas, pero cinco años después de haberse constituido aún no se ha estructurado para la integración económica.

La CELAC tiene un error de diseño por excluir a Estados Unidos y Canadá, por eso la verdadera cumbre hemisférica no es la que acaba de terminar en Costa Rica, sino la de las Américas que auspicia la OEA, y que se celebra generalmente cada tres años. Eso se corrobora por la importancia que dan todos los países del continente a la VII Cumbre de Panamá que se celebrará los días 10 y 11 del próximo mes de abril, y en la que se espera que coincidan Raúl Castro y el presidente Obama. Estados Unidos, con un crecimiento mayor que todos los demás de Occidente, que junto a Canadá y México tiene en estos momentos un potencial energético superior al de la Península Arábiga, por su cercanía y su poderío es insustituible en América.

Por eso la gran nación norteamericana mantiene un sistema de Tratados de Libre Comercio con un gran número de sus vecinos y sigue dando nuevos pasos en la cooperación, como la “Iniciativa de Seguridad Energética para el Caribe”, cuya reunión cumbre se celebró a fines de enero en Washington y a la que acudieron varios primeros ministros caribeños, la vicepresidenta de República Dominicana y el del Fondo Monetario Internacional.

En esta reunión el vicepresidente Biden anunció que un grupo de inversionistas norteamericanos con respaldo gubernamental va a invertir en junio 90 millones de dólares en un proyecto de energía eólica en Jamaica, y la USAID va a hacer un donativo de otros 10 millones para el abastecimiento energético de ese país. También dijo que la agencia de Comercio y Desarrollo de EEUU va a hacer tres nuevos donativos a la República Dominicana en apoyo a sus planes energéticos. (4)

Pero, ¿saben una cosa? Según el presidente de Venezuela, ese no fue el verdadero propósito de la reunión de energía celebrada en Washington. Como recoge la BBC: “hablando en cadena nacional de radio y televisión, Maduro dijo que Joe Biden expresó a mandatarios y primeros ministros de países latinoamericanos y del Caribe que el gobierno venezolano sería derrocado”. (5)

No hay que ser muy mal pensado para imaginarse que esa reacción del sucesor de Chávez tiene que ver con que la crisis por la que pasa la “revolución bolivariana” le impide cumplir las promesas de subsidio petrolero de Petrocaribe.  Por eso Nicolás Maduro le sube la parada al perro del hortelano: ni come, ni deja comer, y además le enseña los dientes al que trae más comida.

¿Es un fantasma, o es un cadáver lo que recorre Europa?

Diosdado Cabello no solo es considerado rival político de Maduro, sino que compite favorablemente en disparates con el elegido por el difunto Hugo Chávez. El triunfo de la coalición radical Syriza en las elecciones griegas del 25 de enero, y las encuestas favorables en España al nuevo partido Podemos, le hicieron declarar eufórico:

“Ahí está lo que pasó en Grecia, ahí está lo que va a pasar en España más temprano que tarde. Eso es el chavismo, que anda dando la vuelta al mundo entero” (6).

Exagera el  antiguo golpista y ahora presidente de una Asamblea Nacional bastante unánime en la bancada oficialista, y no debería poner en evidencia a sus camaradas españoles que están empeñados en  negar que su programa oculto incluye un gobierno de corte chavista en La Moncloa. Solo las graves consecuencias sociales de la fuerte crisis económica de la que ya está emergiendo España pueden explicar la ceguera de quienes más que militantes son devotos de Podemos.

Dentro y fuera de la península se debe divulgar que tanto su líder máximo, Pablo Iglesias, como sus principales colaboradores, han recibido la acogida y el apoyo material de los gobiernos de izquierda de Venezuela, Ecuador y Bolivia, y con la exagerada retribución por sus actividades “académicas” en esos países, han financiado la fundación de su partido.

Pero no solo hubo apoyo venezolano a Podemos: desde septiembre del 2010 el entonces embajador del gobierno de Chávez en Grecia y hoy el líder de Syriza y del gobierno, Alexis Tsipras, se relacionaron para impulsar en el país heleno la campaña “Manos fuera de Venezuela”. Según el periodista Nelson Bocaranda, Tsipras y otros izquierdistas griegos

fueron financiados desde Venezuela por recomendación de Juan Carlos Monedero y Pablo Iglesias Turión, asesores en ese momento del presidente venezolano”. (7)

Como apunta el periodista venezolano, debido a esa estrecha relación han ocurrido otras intromisiones en esos catorce años transcurridos:

Hasta un busto de Chávez colocaron en una calle de Atenas (…) el nuevo premier es Alexis Tsipras quien con razones de financiamiento ha estado exageradamente agradecido al gobierno venezolano y lo usa como ejemplo de revolución socialista comunista. Su razón tenía para asistir al funeral del desaparecido caudillo y dejarse fotografiar compungido”. (7)

Rusia necesita una Europa débil

Para sorpresa de muchos que piensan que Moscú es proclive a financiar a los partidos de izquierda, como en los tiempos soviéticos, esto ha cambiado. Hay varios partidos de derecha como La Liga Norte de Italia y el Ataka de Bulgaria que tienen fuertes lazos con el gobierno de Putin, y más allá de esos vínculos el partido Jobbik de Hungría está siendo investigado por supuesto financiamiento de Rusia.

Pero quizás el ejemplo más notable es que un banco vinculado al Kremlin ha hecho un préstamo al partido Frente Nacional de Francia por valor de 9 millones de euros (10,3millones de dólares). Recordemos que este es un partido de extrema derecha que tiene un programa antiinmigrantes y euro-escéptico, y que en las elecciones de mayo pasado al Parlamento Europeo se consagró como el primer partido de Francia con un 25% de los votos. Aunque Marine Le Pen, la presidenta del Frente, lo desmiente, hay otros dirigentes de su partido que aseguran que este es solo un primer préstamo, y que ese banco va a otorgar una suma total de 40 millones de euros (45 millones de dólares) a lo largo de 30 meses para que el partido alcance la mayoría en las elecciones regionales del 2016 y en las presidenciales francesas del 2017. (8)

Ya sean fuerzas de izquierda o de derecha, una Europa débil es lo que Rusia necesita para sus planes de volver a las viejas fronteras soviéticas. Para lograrlo, Vladimir Putin no dudará en emplear todos los medios, incluidos los financieros, aunque eso signifique que siga decayendo el nivel de vida de la población rusa, afectada ya por la caída del precio del petróleo, la devaluación del rublo y las sanciones de la Unión Europea por la agresión a Ucrania. Ya el premier Tsipras está buscando el apoyo de Moscú para aliviar la enorme deuda de Grecia, y ha anunciado la intención de viajar allí en mayo para la conmemoración del 70 aniversario de la derrota del fascismo.

No sería sorpresa que se encuentre allí con Raúl Castro, cuyo nuevo viaje a Rusia será este año, según ha revelado el viceministro de exteriores ruso. ¡Qué mejor ocasión para congraciarse con el generalato ruso que ver el desfile desde el Mausoleo de Lenin junto a sus ancianos camaradas de espionaje, amenazas nucleares e intervenciones armadas!

¡Cómo no va a saludar el endurecimiento del gran merengue soviético que se desinfló!

Por su edad, aquellos tiempos no volverán para él, pero es mucho más importante que no vuelvan nunca jamás, ni para los cubanos ni para los europeos.

----------------------

NOTAS

(1) Discurso pronunciado por el General de Ejército Raúl Castro en la III Cumbre de la Celac, Granma, 28 de enero de 2015.´

(2) Debemos parar a los matones de Putin, Timothy Garton Ash, El País, 4 de febrero de 2015.

(3) El gran alarde de Raúl Castro, Eugenio Yáñez, Cubaencuentro, febrero 5 de 2015. 

(4) Remarks by Vice President Biden on the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, Office of the Vice President, January 26, 2015.

(5) Nicolás Maduro acusa a Joe Biden de liderar campaña para derrocarlo, BBC Mundo, 2 de febrero de 2015.

(6) Venezuela equipara a Syriza y Podemos con el chavismo, Ewald Scharfenberg, El País, 3 de febrero de 2015.

(7) Nelson Bocaranda Sardi, Runrunes. El Universal 03.02.2015.
(8) Gianluca Mezzofiore, From Russia with Loan: Marine Le Pen's Front National Does Murky Deal with Kremlin Bank. International Business Times, November 28, 2014.

viernes, febrero 13, 2015

Is Viktor Orban Following Putin's Playbook?

By Mitchell A. Orenstein, Péter Krekó, and Attila Juhász
People take part in a protest against the Orban government in central Budapest, February 1, 2015. (Laszlo Balogh / Courtesy Reuters)
When, in 2010 and 2012, Hungary passed laws entitling Hungarians living abroad to Hungarian passports and then the right to vote in Hungarian elections, it seemed to fan dangerous nationalistic flames and fueled fears of secessionist movements in Hungarian communities beyond the country’s border. Indeed, Hungary’s illiberal Prime Minister Viktor Orban has frequently stated that the Hungarian nation does not end at the borders of the state; rather, it ends with those Hungarians who were stranded in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine when the Treaty of Versailles lopped off two-thirds of the Hungarian territory. Given the parallels to Russia, where granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians and Abkhazians has been a precursor to invasion, observers can be forgiven for feeling chilled.
Although Orban is certainly tapping into nationalist nostalgia when he talks about Hungarians abroad, his purposes are not the same as those of Russian President Vladimir Putin. More than irredentism, Orban is thinking about votes. In fact, since he returned to power in 2010, he has done everything possible to avoid ever losing another election. He has proven to be a world-class virtuoso of gerrymandering; after he pulled in a supermajority of votes in 2010, he was able to contort Hungary’s electoral system so much that in 2014, Fidesz, his party, was able to win two-thirds of all seats in the parliament with only 45 percent of the vote. And even if Fidesz does lose an election, Orban has manipulated the system so that Fidesz appointees in the media office, the prosecutor’s office, the state audit office, the central bank, and the presidency would continue to wield substantial power.
Keep reading on Foreign Affairs >>

Goodbye, Putin: Why Putin's Days Are Numbered

The longer the Russian war against Ukraine continues, the more likely it is that President Vladimir Putin’s regime will collapse.
Despite Putin’s bluster, the authoritarian regime he has constructed is exceedingly brittle. At the center stands Putin; surrounding him, the power-hungry loyalists he has folded into his inner circle. Some, called the siloviki, belong to powerful institutions such as the secret police or the army. Others, formally affiliated with various government agencies, are loyal only to Putin. In such a system, sycophantism is rewarded above good governance, empire-building runs rampant, policy loses its effectiveness, and corruption becomes routine.
The neo-tsarist ideology of Russian imperialism, Orthodox revival, and anti-Western Slavophilism that Putin has constructed has limited appeal to the cynical men who help him run Russia. Therefore, Putin’s ability to retain their loyalty rests primarily on his control of the country’s financial resources. Thanks to the record-high energy prices that accompanied his assumption of power in 1999, Putin was able to personally purloin some $45 billion and still have enough money to raise the country’s standard of living, strengthen the Russian military, and keep his cronies happy. No longer. Oil prices have collapsed and are likely to stay low; Western sanctions are hitting hard; and the Russian economy is on the downswing.
Sooner or later Putin will be forced to make some cuts, but it is hard to know where that money will come from. Given the ongoing war in Ukraine and his anti-Western ideological crusade, reducing military funding will be unfeasible. And Putin’s popularity would take a serious hit if he were to roll back support to the lower classes. The only option, therefore, may be to stop his cronies from dipping into state coffers, even if doing so will alienate them.
Putin has an image problem—and he knows it.
For 15 years, Putin’s record of success won him enormous public support. He crushed the Chechen rebellion, presided over military reforms, built infrastructure, improved the lives of ordinary Russians, and regularly outwitted the West. And then, just after the Sochi Olympics, he blew it all. The Crimean annexation has been an unmitigated economic disaster. The Russian war in eastern Ukraine has killed Russians by the thousands. Ukraine, which was well on its way to becoming a Russian vassal state under former President Viktor Yanukovych, has turned against the Kremlin. The ruble, along with the Russian economy, is in free fall, as Western sanctions bite. Putin, Russia’s “Man of the Year,” is now routinely compared to Adolf Hitler.
Beyond his policy mistakes, Putin also has an image problem. Fifteen years ago, Putin could pass himself off as a charismatic leader who, despite his diminutive size, was man enough to chase down Chechen rebels—in his own words—“even in the outhouse.” That tough-guy image was essential to Putin, who claimed that he could reestablish Russia’s imperial glory and needed to look the part. Now 62 years old, Putin looks tired, his face distended, and it’s hard to imagine that the two leggy singers who once sang, “I want a man just like Putin,” would still feel that way today.
Putin knows he’s in a tough spot. He started the war in Ukraine, and now it’s up to him to bring about some satisfactory conclusion, even though it’s clear from his erratic behavior that he lacks a strategy. He has no way to crush Ukraine without unleashing a global conflict. He has no way to erode Ukraine’s economy without simultaneously destroying Russia’s. Ironically, the one thing Putin could do easily—declare victory in the Donbas and withdraw his troops—is off limits for him, not because it’s politically unfeasible (most Russians would be delighted to get out of this mess), but because his own cult of personality forbids him from blinking.
OUSTING THE PRESIDENT
All signs point to the eventual collapse of Putin’s regime.
Although 85 percent of Russians currently support the president, an Orange Revolution in Moscow—a city that has seen a series of mass anti-Putin demonstrations in the past few years—is not out of the question. Such a movement need not encompass the entire country to be effective. Demonstrations in the capital, like past displays of “people power” in Cairo, Kiev, and Manila, can effect regime change.
A coup d’état is another possibility. The siloviki, like all Praetorian guards, are a mixed blessing. They can keep him in power by crushing political opposition, but they can also stage a coup should they conclude that Putin’s policies are undermining their own security and wealth. Putin knows that he replaced Boris Yeltsin (and that Leonid Brezhnev replaced Nikita Khrushchev) in just this fashion.
Even if Putin is not ousted by popular revolution or by a coup, he will be crippled by unrest in Russia’s non-Russian regions. Much of the North Caucasus, for example, has already spun out of Moscow’s control, as the recent terrorist attacks in Chechnya and the continued violence in Ingushetia and Dagestan demonstrate. As the regime visibly decays and Putin loses his sheen, militant non-Russians may emulate Putin’s invocation of Russians’ right to self-determination in southeastern Ukraine and pursue their own separatist agendas—with mass protests when possible, and violence when necessary. The Crimean Tatars, whose frustration with increasingly oppressive Russian rule in their homeland is growing, could be the first to act out violently. The Volga Tatars and Bashkirs, both of whom have large reserves of oil in their regions, could easily follow, as they did in the 1990s, with demands for greater autonomy or independence.
RUSSIA AFTER PUTIN
Will Russia and the world be better off without Putin? Yes, but only if Putin’s successor ends the war and comes to a rapprochement with the West.
All signs point to the eventual collapse of Putin’s regime.
Putin’s successor, whenever he takes power, is likely to be a hardliner; even so, his first priority will have to be to clean the mess created by Putin. Chances are that the new president will be more inclined to end the war and more likely to adopt a conciliatory tone vis-à-vis the rest of the world.
If Putin’s successor is not a hardliner, those chances will be even better. This is a small but real possibility: Russia’s democrats might just be able to take control of the country at a time of chaos and instability, especially if they succeed in forging coalitions with the increasingly disgruntled Russians whose sons are dying in Ukraine and with non-Russian minorities, as Boris Yeltsin did in the waning days of the Soviet Union. Besides, if history is any indication, Russia’s next leader is anybody’s guess. The awful Lenin was succeeded by the dreadful Stalin, but Stalin was followed by the decent Khrushchev, who was replaced by the worse Brezhnev, who was succeeded by the good Gorbachev. And Gorbachev handed over power to the pretty good Yeltsin, who was ousted by the dreadful Putin.
In the meantime, the West should do all it can now to support Ukraine and encourage Putin to deescalate the war. The West can also limit the fallout from a possible regime collapse by supporting Russia’s neighbors—especially Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine—economically, diplomatically, and militarily. When the rotten Russian dam breaks, as it inevitably will, only strong and stable non-Russian states will be able to contain the flooding, shielding the rest of the world from Putin’s disastrous legacy of ruin.

jueves, diciembre 25, 2014

Germany Looks to Russia and China

It's complicated: Putin and Merkel in Berlin, June 2012 (Thomas Peter / Courtesy Reuters)

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was a strategic shock for Germany. Suddenly, Russian aggression threatened the European security order that Germany had taken for granted since the end of the Cold War. Berlin had spent two decades trying to strengthen political and economic ties with Moscow, but Russia’s actions in Ukraine suggested that the Kremlin was no longer interested in a partnership with Europe. Despite Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and Russia’s importance to German exporters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately agreed to impose sanctions on Russia and helped persuade other EU member states to do likewise.
Nevertheless, the Ukraine crisis has reopened old questions about Germany’s relationship to the rest of the West. In April, when the German public-service broadcaster ARD asked Germans what role their country should play in the crisis, just 45 percent wanted Germany to side with its partners and allies in the EU and NATO; 49 percent wanted Germany to mediate between Russia and the West. These results led the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, in an editorial published last May, to warn Germany against turning away from the West.

Germany’s response to the Ukraine crisis can be understood against the backdrop of a long-term weakening of the so-called Westbindung, the country’s postwar integration into the West. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the enlargement of the EU freed the country from its reliance on the United States for protection against a powerful Soviet Union. At the same time, Germany’s export-dependent economy has become increasingly reliant on demand from emerging markets such as China. Although Germany remains committed to European integration, these factors have made it possible to imagine a post-Western German foreign policy. Such a shift comes with high stakes. Given Germany’s increased power within the EU, the country’s relationship to the rest of the world will, to a large extent, determine that of Europe.

THE GERMAN PARADOX
Germany has produced 
the most radical challenge to the West from within.
Germany has always had a complex relationship with the West. On the one hand, many of the political and philosophical ideas that became central to the West originated in Germany with Enlightenment thinkers such as Immanuel Kant. On the other hand, German intellectual history has included darker strains that have threatened Western norms—such as the current of nationalism that emerged in the early nineteenth century. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, German nationalists increasingly sought to define Germany’s identity in opposition to the liberal, rationalistic principles of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. This version of German nationalism culminated in Nazism, which the German historian Heinrich August Winkler has called “the climax of the German rejection of the Western world.” Germany, therefore, was a paradox: it was part of the West yet produced the most radical challenge to it from within. 

After World War II, West Germany took part in European integration, and in 1955, as the Cold War heated up, it joined NATO. For the next 40 years, the Westbindung, which led Germany to cooperate and pursue joint security initiatives with its Western allies, became an existential necessity that overrode other foreign policy objectives. Germany continued to define itself as a Western power through the 1990s. Under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a reunified Germany agreed to adopt the euro. By the end of the decade, the country appeared to have reconciled itself to the use of military force to fulfill its obligations as a NATO member. After 9/11, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder pledged “unconditional solidarity” with the United States and committed German troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Over the past decade, however, Germany’s attitude toward the rest of the West has changed. In the debate about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Schröder spoke of a “German way,” in contrast to the “American way.” Since then, Germany has hardened its opposition to the use of military force. After its experience in Afghanistan, Germany appears to have decided that the right lesson from its Nazi past is not “never again Auschwitz,” the principle it invoked to justify its participation in the 1999 NATO military intervention in Kosovo, but “never again war.” German politicians across the spectrum now define their country as a Friedensmacht, a “force for peace.”

Germany’s commitment to peace has led the EU and the United States to accuse Germany of free-riding within the Western alliance. Speaking in Brussels in 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that NATO was becoming “a two-tiered alliance . . . between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership, be they security guarantees or headquarters billets, but don’t want to share the risks and the costs.” He singled out for particular criticism those NATO members that spend less on defense than the agreed-on amount of two percent of GDP; Germany spends just 1.3 percent. In the past few years, France has similarly criticized Germany for its failure to provide sufficient support for military interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic.

One reason Germany has neglected its NATO obligations is that the Westbindung no longer appears to be a strategic necessity. After the end of the Cold War, the EU and NATO expanded to include some central and eastern European countries, which meant that Germany was “encircled by friends,” as the former German defense minister Volker Rühe put it, rather than by potential military aggressors, and it was therefore no longer reliant on the United States for protection from the Soviet Union.

At the same time, Germany’s economy has become more dependent on exports, particularly to non-Western countries. In the first decade of this century, as domestic demand remained low and German manufacturers regained competitiveness, Germany became increasingly dependent on exports. According to the World Bank, the contribution of exports to Germany’s GDP jumped from 33 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2010. Beginning with Schröder, Germany began to base its foreign policy largely on its economic interests and, in particular, on the needs of exporters.

Increasing anti-American sentiment among ordinary Germans has contributed to the foreign policy shift, too. If the Iraq war gave Germans the confidence to split from the United States on issues of war and peace, the 2008 global financial meltdown gave it the confidence to diverge on economic issues. For many Germans, the crisis highlighted the failures of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and vindicated Germany’s social market economy. The revelations in 2013 that the U.S. National Security Agency had been conducting surveillance on Germans and eavesdropping on Merkel’s cell-phone calls further strengthened anti-American sentiment. Many Germans now say that they no longer share values with the United States, and some say that they never did.

To be sure, Germany’s liberal political culture, a result of its Western integration, is here to stay. But it remains to be seen whether Germany will continue to align itself with its Western partners and stand up for Western norms as it becomes more dependent on non-Western countries for its economic growth. The most dramatic illustration of what a post-Western German foreign policy might look like came in 2011, when Germany abstained in a vote in the UN Security Council over military intervention in Libya—siding with China and Russia over France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some German officials insist that this decision did not prefigure a larger trend. But a poll conducted shortly after the vote by the foreign policy journal Internationale Politik found Germans to be split three ways over whether they should continue to cooperate primarily with Western partners; with other countries, such as China, India, and Russia; or with both.

THE NEW OSTPOLITIK
Germany’s policy toward Russia has long been based on political engagement and economic interdependence. When Willy Brandt became chancellor of West Germany in 1969, he sought to balance the Westbindung with a more open relationship with the Soviet Union and pursued a new approach that became known as the Ostpolitik, or “Eastern policy.” Brandt believed that increasing political and economic ties between the two powers might eventually lead to German reunification, a strategy his adviser Egon Bahr called Wandel durch Annäherung, “change through rapprochement.”

Germans are split over whether to cooperate with Western partners or with countries such as Russia and China.
Since the end of the Cold War, economic ties between Germany and Russia have expanded further. Invoking the memory of Brandt’s Ostpolitik, Schröder began a policy of Wandel durch Handel, or “change through trade.” German policymakers, and particularly the Social Democrats, championed a “partnership for modernization,” in which Germany would supply Russia with technology to modernize its economy—and, ideally, its politics.

These ties help explain Germany’s initial reluctance to impose sanctions after the Russian incursion into Ukraine in 2014. In deciding whether or not to follow the U.S. lead, Merkel faced pressure from powerful lobbyists for German industry, led by the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, who argued that sanctions would badly undermine the German economy. In a show of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Joe Kaeser, the CEO of Siemens, visited the Russian leader at his residence outside Moscow just after the annexation of Crimea. Kaeser assured Putin that his company, which had conducted business in Russia for roughly 160 years, would not let “short-term turbulence”—his characterization of the crisis—affect its relationship with the country. In an editorial in the Financial Times in May, the director general of the Federation of German Industries, Markus Kerber, wrote that German businesses would support sanctions but would do so “with a heavy heart.”

Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian energy also caused Berlin to shy away from sanctions. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power sooner than planned, which made the country increasingly dependent on Russian gas. By 2013, Russian companies provided roughly 38 percent of Germany’s oil and 36 percent of its gas. Although Germany could diversify away from Russian gas by finding alternative sources of energy, such a process would likely take decades. In the short term, therefore, Germany has been reluctant to antagonize Russia.

For her support of sanctions, Merkel has faced pushback not just from industry but also from the German public. Although some in the United States and in other European countries have accused the German government of going too easy on Russia, many within Germany have felt that their government is acting too aggressively. When the German journalist Bernd Ulrich called for tougher action against Putin, for example, he found himself inundated with hate mail that accused him of warmongering. Even Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, long perceived to be sympathetic to Russia, has faced similar accusations. The National Security Agency spying revelations only increased sympathy for Russia. As Ulrich put it in April 2014, “When the Russian president says he feels oppressed by the West, many here think, ‘So do we.’”

That type of identification with Russia has deep historical roots. In 1918, the German writer Thomas Mann published a book, Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, in which he argued that German culture was distinct from—and superior to—the cultures of other Western nations, such as France and the United Kingdom. German culture, he argued, fell somewhere between Russian culture and the cultures of the rest of Europe. That idea has experienced a dramatic resurgence in recent months. Writing in Der Spiegel in April 2014, Winkler, the historian, criticized the so-called Russlandversteher, Germans who express support for Russia, for repopularizing “the myth of a connection between the souls of Russia and Germany.”

In crafting a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, then, Merkel had to walk a fine line. She sought to keep open the possibility of a political solution for as long as possible, spending hours on the phone with Putin and sending Steinmeier to help mediate between Moscow and Kiev. It was only after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, allegedly by pro-Russian separatists, that German officials felt comfortable adopting a tougher stance. Even then, public support for sanctions remained tepid. An August poll by the ARD found that 70 percent of Germans supported Europe’s second round of sanctions against Russia, which included banning visas for and freezing the assets of a list of prominent Russian businesspeople. But only 49 percent said that they would continue to back sanctions even if they hurt the German economy—as the third round of sanctions likely will.

Popular support for sanctions could slip further if Germany goes into recession, as many analysts say it might. Although German businesses have reluctantly accepted the sanctions, they have continued to lobby Merkel to ease them. And even as its economic efforts come under threat, Germany has made it clear that military options are not on the table. Ahead of the NATO summit in Wales in September, Merkel opposed plans for the alliance to establish a permanent presence in eastern Europe, which she argued would violate the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. Put simply, Germany may not have the stamina for a policy of containment toward Russia.

PIVOT TO CHINA
Germany has also grown closer to China, an even more significant harbinger of a post-Western German foreign policy. As it has with Russia, Germany has benefited from increasingly close economic ties with China. In the past decade, German exports there have grown exponentially. By 2013, they added up to $84 billion, almost double the value of German exports to Russia. Indeed, China has become the second-largest market for German exports outside the EU, and it may soon overtake the United States as the largest. China is already the biggest market for Volkswagen—Germany’s largest automaker—and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The relationship between Germany and China grew only stronger after the 2008 financial crisis, when the two countries found themselves on the same side in debates about the global economy. Both have exerted deflationary pressure on their trading partners, criticized the U.S. policy of quantitative easing, and resisted calls from the United States to take action to rectify macroeconomic imbalances in the global economy. Germany and China have, simultaneously, become closer politically. In 2011, the two countries began holding an annual government-to-government consultation—in effect, a joint cabinet meeting. The event marked the first time that China had conducted such a broad-based negotiation with another country.

For Germany, the relationship is primarily economic, but for China, which wants a strong Europe to counterbalance the United States, it is also strategic. China may see Germany as the key to getting the kind of Europe it wants, partly because Germany appears to be increasingly powerful within Europe but perhaps also because German preferences seem closer to its own than do those of other EU member states, such as France and the United Kingdom. 

The tighter Berlin-Beijing nexus comes as the United States adopts a tougher approach to China as part of its so-called pivot to Asia—and it could pose a major problem for the West. If the United States found itself in conflict with China over economic or security issues—if there were an Asian Crimea, for instance—there is a real possibility that Germany would remain neutral. Some German diplomats in China have already begun to distance themselves from the West. In 2012, for example, the German ambassador to China, Michael Schaefer, said in an interview, “I don’t think there is such a thing as the West anymore.” Given their increasing dependence on China as an export market, German businesses would be even more opposed to the imposition of sanctions on China than on Russia. The German government would likely be even more reluctant to take tough action than it has been during the Ukraine crisis, which would create even greater rifts within Europe and between Europe and the United States.

A GERMAN EUROPE
Fears of German neutrality are not new. In the early 1970s, Henry Kissinger, then the U.S. national security adviser, warned that West Germany’s Ostpolitik could play into the hands of the Soviet Union and threaten transatlantic unity. He argued that closer economic ties with the Soviet Union would increase Europe’s dependence on its eastern neighbor, thereby undermining the West. The danger Kissinger foresaw was not so much that West Germany might leave NATO but, as he put it in his memoir, that it might “avoid controversies outside of Europe even when they affected fundamental security interests.” Fortunately for Washington, the Cold War kept such impulses in check, as West Germany relied on the United States for protection against the Soviet Union.

Now, however, Germany finds itself in a more central and stronger position in Europe. During the Cold War, West Germany was a weak state on the fringes of what became the EU, but the reunified Germany is now one of the strongest—if not the strongest—power in the union. Given that position, a post-Western Germany could take much of the rest of Europe with it, particularly those central and eastern European countries with economies that are deeply intertwined with Germany’s. If the United Kingdom leaves the EU, as it is now debating, the union will be even more likely to follow German preferences, especially as they pertain to Russia and China. In that event, Europe could find itself at odds with the United States—and the West could suffer a schism from which it might never recover.


Vladimir Putin's Year in Review

TIME

martes, diciembre 16, 2014

Putin's cronies lose $50 billion

Putin allies Alisher Usmanov, Vagit Alekperov and Vladimir Potanin suffered multibillion dollar losses.

Ouch! Russian billionaires have lost more than $50 billion this year due to the country's unfolding economic nightmare.

Western sanctions, low oil prices and the falling ruble have wiped billions off the wealth of Russia's 15 richest men, according to data from Bloomberg.
Here are the top 10 losers:
Leonid Mikhelson
The chairman of Russian gas producer Novatek has suffered the biggest losses, seeing his portfolio shrink by an estimated $8.7 billion. That's equivalent to a loss of nearly 50%.
Novatek was one of the first companies to be sanctioned by the U.S. over the crisis in Ukraine.
Vladimir Lisin
The chairman and largest shareholder of Novolipetsk Steel, and once Russia's richest man, has lost $7 billion, also nearly 50% of his wealth.
He is the vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee and the president of the European Shooting Confederation -- and as a gun enthusiast reportedly owns a valuable collection of rifles.
Alisher Usmanov
The metals magnate owns Russian daily newspaper Kommersant. In 2011, he sacked the editor after he published a picture of a ballot paper with "Putin, go f*!k yourself" scrawled on it in red ink.
Usmanov has lost $6.4 billion so far this year. He controls 48% of Metalloinvest, Russia's largest iron ore producer. He also has a share in Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) and Airbnb, and co-owns English soccer team Arsenal, Bloomberg data show.
He is also the president of the International Fencing Federation.
Andrey Melnichenko
The self-made coal and minerals magnate is another Russian billionaire feeling the chilling effect of Western sanctions and falling oil prices. He has lost nearly 40% of his wealth, or about $5.8 billion.
He is married to a former Serbian supermodel and owns one of the world's most admired super yachts -- the A.
Sergey Galitsky
The founder and owner of Russia's biggest food retailer Magnit is down over $5 billion. The soccer enthusiast is famous for pouring more than $250 million into his local Krasnodar club, building an arena and a sports academy.
He is thought to have lost over $855 million on Monday alone as the ruble went into free fall.
Vagit Alekperov
The chairman of Russian oil giant Lukoil was once a Soviet energy minister.
Lukoil was the first privately-owned company to be sanctioned by the U.S. over the Ukraine crisis. His wealth has fallen by $4.9 billion, or about 40% so far this year.
Mikhail Fridman
The investment mogul has watched $3.5 billion evaporate.
He made his fortune on the sale of joint venture TNK-BP to Rosneft. Together with his partner German Khan, Fridman controls Alfa Bank, Russia's largest private lender.
Vladimir Potanin
The former deputy prime minister is currently the head of the world's biggest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel. His wealth has fallen by $2.8 billion, or about 20%.
Potanin was one of the main backers of Russia's bid to host the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and he invested heavily in the development of the Olympic village.
German Khan
Mikhail Fridman's partner in Alfa Bank sold his stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft for $3.3 billion in 2013, according to Bloomberg.
He's lost $2.5 billion this year, equivalent to about 22% of his wealth.
Mikhail Prokhorov
Prokhorov's company Onexim group owns stakes in the Russian banking, energy and mining sectors. He's lost $2.4 billion.
Prokhorov also owns the Brooklyn Nets. He said earlier this year he was considering moving the company that controls the NBA team to Russia in order to comply with Vladimir Putin's call for Russian-owned companies to be based there.
He has criticized Russian policies in the past, condemning the country's anti-gay laws.

lunes, agosto 04, 2014

How to Solve the Putin Problem


Especially when dealing with Russians, subtlety gets you nowhere; you must tell them, bluntly, what you want to happen.  For example, when someone asked President Reagan to explain the objective of his Cold War strategy he replied: We win, they lose.
As President Reagan might have put it: Well, here we go again....
Last month’s shoot down of Malaysia Air Flight 17 over Ukraine has made clear to just about everyone -- certainly to President Obama and even to some of Western Europe’s most feckless leaders -- what should have been obvious a long time ago: Russian President Vladimir Putin is a serious threat to world peace.
Belatedly, but now with considerable precision and skill, the president and his European counterparts have begun to impose a range of financial sanctions against Russian energy companies, banks, and even against some of those individual Russian billionaires known as oligarchs.  Imposing sanctions is the right strategy; what they haven’t got right is the objective of these sanctions.
Based on statements from the president, from administration officials and from European leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, the purpose of these sanctions is to punish Putin and make him see the error of his ways.  More precisely, they’d like him to be satisfied with Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and to not gobble up the rest of Ukraine.  Above all, they want him to not go beyond Ukraine -- to not threaten the independence of any other countries in Europe, for instance Latvia or Estonia.
Fat chance.  If there is any lesson to be learned from studying European history -- or from growing up in a Brooklyn school yard as opposed to, say, attending the most exclusive prep school in Hawaii -- it’s that thugs like Putin don’t stop because they’ve been punished or because they see the error of their ways.  Thugs have a high tolerance for pain, and they are incapable of changing their behavior.  They keep going until someone takes them out -- permanently -- with a knockout punch.
That’s why the objective of our sanctions strategy should be to get the Russians who’ve been keeping Putin in power, or tolerating Putin in power, to throw that knockout punch.
They’d Rather Take Over Kaiser Aluminum than Kiev
The key to forcing these Russians to act, and thus to making the sanctions strategy succeed, will be to rapidly widen the gap that already exists between their financial interests and Putin’s political ambitions.  Russia’s corporate business leaders don’t really care about Ukraine, or about Putin’s lunatic dream of re-creating the old Romanov Empire.  They fight in boardrooms, not on battlefields; they would rather launch a hostile takeover bid for Kaiser Aluminum than for Kiev.  Russia’s oligarchs are among the most pushy, self-indulgent, thoroughly unpleasant bunch of billionaires in history; the old phrase nouveau riche doesn’t come close to evoking their ostentatious behavior.  All they care about are their yachts, their private jets, and the blonde-bombshell-shopoholic mistresses they stash at their multi-million-dollar condos in London, New York, and on the Riviera, and like to flash around at swishy restaurants.
Are they really willing to give up all this for -- Donetsk?  Or for Riga, or Tallinn?  Are you kidding?
That’s why the sanctions will work if the president and his European counterparts will keep tightening the screws; if they keep making commerce more difficult for Russia’s serious business executives, for instance by blocking their access to capital, and if they keep making life more miserable for Russia’s playboy oligarchs, for instance by canceling their credit cards and denying landing rights to their private jets.  And if the president and European leaders keep telling these Russians -- bluntly and publicly -- that all this will end the moment Vladimir Putin leaves the Kremlin for good.
Russia after Putin may not be a Western-style democracy -- at least, not for a while -- but without Putin in power Russia won’t be a threat to world peace.  That’s because today’s Russia is less like the old Soviet Union and more like a 1950s-style Latin American dictatorship.  The old Soviet Union was a top-to-bottom police state in which the Communist Party, led by the Politburo, dominated every aspect of public and personal life throughout the country.  Not much changed when one General Secretary of the Communist Party replaced another.  The new Russia is more of a one-man show; although Putin likes to think of himself as another Joseph Stalin, he’s more like Argentina’s Juan Peron (well, Juan Peron with nuclear bombs) and it’s highly unlikely than any successor would pick up where Putin left off by continuing to go after Ukraine or otherwise threatening Europe’s political stability. Putin’s immediate successor may not be one of Russia’s emerging democracy-minded superstars like Gary Kasparov, the former chess champion.  But he’s more likely to focus on keeping Russia’s economy afloat than on recreating the old Romanov Empire.
Putin’s Their Problem, Not Ours
Simply put, we should make clear to the Russian business executives and oligarchs who are the target of Western sanctions that Putin is their problem, not ours.  These people may lack the spark of political genius or the high-minded patriotism that drove our country’s Founding Fathers -- but they aren’t stupid.  It won’t be long before a bunch of them get together for a quiet conversation -- perhaps in a Moscow board room, more likely on a yacht anchored off the Cote d’Azur -- to, um, decide what might be best for Russia’s future.
Since subtlety doesn’t work with Russians, the president and his European counterparts should also make absolutely clear that we have no interest whatever in how these people solve their Putin problem.  If they can talk good old Vladimir into leaving the Kremlin with full military honors and a 21-gun salute -- that would be fine with us.  If Putin is too too stubborn to acknowledge that his career is over, and the only way to get him out of the Kremlin is feet-first, with a bullet hole in the back of his head -- that would also be okay with us.
Nor would we object to a bit of poetic justice.... For instance, if the next time Putin’s flying back to Moscow from yet another visit with his good friends in Cuba, or Venezuela, or Iran, his airplane gets blasted out of the sky by some murky para-military group that somehow, inexplicably, got its hands on a surface-to-air missile.
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council.  He is author of How to Analyze Information and The Cure for Poverty.

martes, julio 15, 2014

Putin ultima con Rousseff la venta de un sistema de defensa antiaérea a Brasil

El presidente ruso, Vladímir Putin, y la presidenta brasileña, Dilma Rousseff, se vieron el domingo en la tribuna del estadio de Maracaná, en Río de Janeiro, donde la dirigente de Brasil ejerció el papel de anfitriona, entregó la Copa del Mundo al capitán de la selección alemana y, por último, pasó el testigo a su homólogo ruso, encargado de organizar el próximo Mundial, en 2018. Pero el siguiente encuentro entre los líderes de ambos países, que forman parte del grupo denominado BRICS (en el que también figuran China, India y Sudáfrica), se celebró este lunes en circunstancias muy diferentes, en Brasilia, sede del Gobierno brasileño. Durante más de dos horas, los mandatarios ruso y brasileña, cada uno envuelto en circunstancias políticas convulsas por diferentes razones, dialogaron y llegaron, según las notas divulgadas por el Ejecutivo de Brasilia, a varios pactos económicos. Entre otras materias, suscribieron acuerdos sobre infraestructuras, salud, tecnología, educación y cultura.
Entre todo el paquete destacan, sobre todo, las negociaciones sobre Defensa. Rusia y Brasil llevan regateando desde hace varios años por la venta, por parte de Moscú, de un sistema de defensa antiaérea para las Fuerzas Armadas brasileñas. El documento firmado este lunes especifica que, en agosto de este año, representantes de Brasil participarán en unas maniobras o demostración con fuego real de este sistema de defensa. También se adelantaba que la compra podría llegar a efectuarse “a corto plazo”, sin especificar más detalles. Además, en el encuentro se sellaron acuerdos en otros sectores estratégicos, como el aeronáutico.
Ambos países aspiran a duplicar sus transacciones económicas, que ahora alcanzan los 5.600 millones de dólares (4.110 millones de euros). Tanto Rousseff como Putin han manifestado su voluntad de llegar hasta un nivel de intercambios de 10.000 millones de dólares.
A la salida de la reunión y con el mandatario ruso al lado, la presidenta brasileña insistió en que los inversores rusos tienen en el gigante latinoamericano una gran oportunidad en sectores emergentes del país, como el energético. A este respecto, uno de los puntos del acuerdo prevé la colaboración de ambos países en la exploración, explotación, almacenamiento y transporte de yacimientos de petróleo y de gas en Brasil.
El encuentro de Putin con Rousseff se inscribe en la gira latinoamericana que el dirigente ruso ha emprendido en los últimos días y que le ha llevado ya por Cuba, Nicaragua y Argentina. Putin y Rousseff participarán en la cumbre de los denominados BRICS, que se celebra en Fortaleza, al noreste de Brasil. Este grupo heterogéneo de estados, unidos más por conformar un frente común ante los dictados del FMI y a las directrices de los países desarrollados que por compartir afinidades, tratarán de forjar una alianza más estrecha. En Fortaleza, los presidentes de China, Rusia, Sudáfrica, India y Brasil van a poner en marcha las bases para crear un banco de desarrollo que sirva para financiar proyectos de infraestructuras y un banco de reserva en previsión de crisis financieras.
De cualquier modo, no es el mejor momento ni para Putin, lastrado por la crisis ucrania, ni para Rousseff. Brasil ha perdido el fuerte ritmo de crecimiento de los últimos años y ahora languidece con un alza anual del PIB de apenas el 1%. La inflación, el problema crónico de la economía brasileña, se sitúa ya por encima del 6,5%, el tope que el Gobierno brasileño se ha autoimpuesto para que no descarrile la economía.
En una entrevista celebrada hace pocos días con un grupo de periodistas extranjeros, la presidenta brasileña admitía que el motor económico brasileño se ha ralentizado. Pero después lo justificaba, asegurando que los crecimientos anémicos del PIB no constituyen algo exclusivo de su país.
Rousseff, del Partido de los Trabajadores, se encuentra ahora en un momento político delicado por otra razón: se juega la permanencia en el cargo en las elecciones que se celebrarán en octubre, que se presentan muy disputadas.
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"Hablame"

"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño

(el-alto-sueño);

le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.

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La columna de Cubanalisis

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]
¨Saturno jugando con sus hijos¨/ Pedro Pablo Oliva

Seguidores

Carta desde la carcel de Fidel Castro Ruz

“…después de todo, para mí la cárcel es un buen descanso, que sólo tiene de malo el que es obligatorio. Leo mucho y estudio mucho. Parece increíble, las horas pasan como si fuesen minutos y yo, que soy de temperamento intranquilo, me paso el día leyendo, apenas sin moverme para nada. La correspondencia llega normalmente…”

“…Como soy cocinero, de vez en cuando me entretengo preparando algún pisto. Hace poco me mandó mi hermana desde Oriente un pequeño jamón y preparé un bisté con jalea de guayaba. También preparo spaghettis de vez en cuando, de distintas formas, inventadas todas por mí; o bien tortilla de queso. ¡Ah! ¡Qué bien me quedan! por supuesto, que el repertorio no se queda ahí. Cuelo también café que me queda muy sabroso”.
“…En cuanto a fumar, en estos días pasados he estado rico: una caja de tabacos H. Upman del doctor Miró Cardona, dos cajas muy buenas de mi hermano Ramón….”.
“Me voy a cenar: spaghettis con calamares, bombones italianos de postre, café acabadito de colar y después un H. Upman #4. ¿No me envidias?”.
“…Me cuidan, me cuidan un poquito entre todos. No le hacen caso a uno, siempre estoy peleando para que no me manden nada. Cuando cojo el sol por la mañana en shorts y siento el aire de mar, me parece que estoy en una playa… ¡Me van a hacer creer que estoy de vacaciones! ¿Qué diría Carlos Marx de semejantes revolucionarios?”.
¨La patria es dicha de todos, y dolor de todos, y cielo para todos, y no feudo ni capellaní­a de nadie¨ - Marti

"No temas ni a la prision, ni a la pobreza, ni a la muerte. Teme al miedo"
-
Giacomo Leopardi

¨Por eso es muy importante, Vicky, hijo mío, que recuerdes siempre para qué sirve la cabeza: para atravesar paredes¨Halvar de Flake [El vikingo]

"Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir" - Lorca

"Al final, no os preguntarán qué habéis sabido, sino qué habéis hecho" - Jean de Gerson

"Si queremos que todo siga como está, es necesario que todo cambie" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"Todo hombre paga su grandeza con muchas pequeñeces, su victoria con muchas derrotas, su riqueza con múltiples quiebras" - Giovanni Papini


"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon

"Habla bajo, lleva siempre un gran palo y llegarás lejos" - Proverbio Africano

"No hay medicina para el miedo" - Proverbio escoces

"El supremo arte de la guerra es doblegar al enemigo sin luchar"
- Sun Tzu

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother" - Albert Einstein

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office" - H. L. Menken

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" - Elie Wiesel

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" -
Steve Jobs

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years ther'ed be a shortage of sand" - Milton Friedman

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less" - Vaclav Havel

"No se puede controlar el resultado, pero si lo que uno haga para alcanzarlo" -
Vitor Belfort [MMA Fighter]

Liborio

Liborio
A la puerta de la gloria está San Pedro sentado y ve llegar a su lado a un hombre de cierta historia. No consigue hacer memoria y le pregunta con celo: ¿Quién eras allá en el suelo? Era Liborio mi nombre. Has sufrido mucho, hombre, entra, te has ganado el cielo.

Para Raul Castro

Cuba ocupa el penultimo lugar en el mundo en libertad economica solo superada por Corea del Norte.

Cuba ocupa el lugar 147 entre 153 paises evaluados en "Democracia, Mercado y Transparencia 2007"

Cuando vinieron

Cuando vinieron a buscar a los comunistas, Callé: yo no soy comunista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los sindicalistas, Callé: yo no soy sindicalista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los judíos, Callé: yo no soy judío. Cuando vinieron a buscar a los católicos, Callé: yo no soy “tan católico”.
Cuando vinieron a buscarme a mí, Callé: no había quien me escuchara.

Reverendo Martin Niemöller

Martha Colmenares

Martha Colmenares
Un sitio donde los hechos y sus huellas nos conmueven o cautivan

CUBA LLORA Y EL MUNDO Y NOSOTROS NO ESCUCHAMOS

Donde esta el Mundo, donde los Democratas, donde los Liberales? El pueblo de Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan los Green, los Socialdemocratas, los Ricos y los Pobres, los Con Voz y Sin Voz? Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan el Jet Set, los Reyes y Principes, Patricios y Plebeyos? Cuba desesperada clama por solidaridad.
Donde Bob Dylan, donde Martin Luther King, donde Hollywood y sus estrellas? Donde la Middle Class democrata y conservadora, o acaso tambien liberal a ratos? Y Gandhi? Y el Dios de Todos?
Donde los Santos y Virgenes; los Dioses de Cristianos, Protestantes, Musulmanes, Budistas, Testigos de Jehova y Adventistas del Septimo Dia. Donde estan Ochun y todas las deidades del Panteon Yoruba que no acuden a nuestro llanto? Donde Juan Pablo II que no exige mas que Cuba se abra al Mundo y que el Mundo se abra a Cuba?
Que hacen ahora mismo Alberto de Monaco y el Principe Felipe que no los escuchamos? Donde Madonna, donde Angelina Jolie y sus adoptados around de world; o nos hara falta un Brando erguido en un Oscar por Cuba? Donde Sean Penn?
Donde esta la Aristocracia Obrera y los Obreros menos Aristocraticos, donde los Working Class que no estan junto a un pueblo que lanquidece, sufre y llora por la ignominia?
Que hacen ahora mismo Zapatero y Rajoy que no los escuchamos, y Harper y Dion, e Hillary y Obama; donde McCain que no los escuchamos? Y los muertos? Y los que estan muriendo? Y los que van a morir? Y los que se lanzan desesperados al mar?
Donde estan el minero cantabrico o el pescador de percebes gijonese? Los Canarios donde estan? A los africanos no los oimos, y a los australianos con su acento de hombres duros tampoco. Y aquellos chinos milenarios de Canton que fundaron raices eternas en la Isla? Y que de la Queen Elizabeth y los Lords y Gentlemen? Que hace ahora mismo el combativo Principe Harry que no lo escuchamos?
Donde los Rockefellers? Donde los Duponts? Donde Kate Moss? Donde el Presidente de la ONU? Y Solana donde esta? Y los Generales y Doctores? Y los Lam y los Fabelo, y los Sivio y los Fito Paez?
Y que de Canseco y Miñoso? Y de los veteranos de Bahia de Cochinos y de los balseros y de los recien llegados? Y Carlos Otero y Susana Perez? Y el Bola, y Pancho Cespedes? Y YO y TU?
Y todos nosotros que estamos aqui y alla rumiando frustaciones y resquemores, envidias y sinsabores; autoelogios y nostalgias, en tanto Louis Michel comulga con Perez Roque mientras Biscet y una NACION lanquidecen?
Donde Maceo, donde Marti; donde aquel Villena con su carga para matar bribones?
Cuba llora y clama y el Mundo NO ESCUCHA!!!

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