Tags: putin*

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  1. Nell’ultima settimana, due articoli pubblicati su due testate americane, BuzzFeed News e New York Times, hanno riproposto al centro dell’attenzione mediatica e politica il tema della propaganda e della disinformazione online nel nostro paese.

    In Italia, questi due articoli si sono inseriti in un rinnovato dibattito sul rischio che le fake news possano inquinare e condizionare la campagna elettorale del prossimo anno. A riaccendere l’interesse su questo tema è stato, in particolare, il segretario del Partito Democratico, Matteo Renzi, che durante l’ultima Leopolda, ha citato i due articoli per invitare a battersi contro le fake news, dicendo di “aver sgamato Cinque Stelle e Lega Nord” e annunciando che “ogni 15 giorni il Pd presenterà un rapporto ufficiale sulle schifezze in rete”.

    Abbiamo provato a seguire le fila delle questioni aperte e a ricostruire il contesto e il dibattito a seguito di questi due articoli.
    Tags: , , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-11-28)
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  2. Pressed by investigators in Congress, Facebook said Wednesday that it has found evidence that a pro-Kremlin Russian “troll farm” bought $100,000 worth of ads targeted at U.S. voters between 2015 and 2017. The finding was first reported by the Washington Post, and Facebook published its own statement Wednesday afternoon.

    A few of the roughly 3,000 ads that Facebook traced to the Russian company mentioned presidential candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton directly, according to the Post’s sources. The majority focused on stoking people’s emotions around divisive issues such as “gun rights and immigration fears, as well as gay rights and racial discrimination.”

    Facebook wouldn’t disclose the ads in question, nor exactly how the scheme worked.
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  3. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the last thing that Russians wanted to hear about was a new set of obligations that were ostensibly to serve the common good. No viable notion of common good had survived the Soviet decades, when neighbors betrayed neighbors, children betrayed their parents, and the state enslaved or murdered its subjects, justifying its actions with words about patriotism and peace on earth. As long as Russians lived in fear, they mouthed state slogans and obeyed. When they ceased being afraid, they in effect told the state, Go to hell.

    Putin the Terrible

    On New Year's Eve, 1999, Yeltsin resigned and handed over executive power to his Prime Minister, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a former KGB agent who had recently served as the head of the KGB's successor agency, the Federal Security Service, or FSB. Yeltsin and his entourage chose Putin, a relative unknown, because Putin had the security connections to protect them once Yeltsin left office; and Putin's first deed as acting President was to sign a decree granting Yeltsin immunity from prosecution. After nine years of national impoverishment, privatization scandals, the mafiya takeover of the business world, the bombardment of the Supreme Soviet, two wars in Chechnya, and the countrywide entrenchment of corruption (not to mention the economic collapse of 1998, which the oligarchs and state officials were rumored to have brought about for their own enrichment), members of the Yeltsin administration had reason to fear for their liberty and even their lives. Thus, to save his skin, Yeltsin left the Kremlin in the hands of an officer of the very agency that had kept the Soviet regime in power through mass murder, expropriation, exile, torture, surveillance, violation of individual liberties, blackmail, and lies.

    As the former head of the FSB, Putin may well have had damaging information on all his rivals in the presidential election that was to take place three months after his appointment. The media reported a groundswell of support for Putin among the electorate—impossible to measure in real terms, given the media's obvious bias in his favor, although his stated intent to restore order in Russia did resonate with many. Most of the other candidates gave up the race without a fight, and Putin won the election in the first round. Given that he had come to power on a wave of hysteria about the war in Chechnya (a war he had launched, albeit in response to the Chechen invasion of Dagestan) and panic generated by terrorist explosions that destroyed apartment buildings in several Russian cities (for which, it was rumored, his associates were responsible), it is tempting to conclude that his election resulted from a scenario contrived to dupe the Russian public into choosing a ruler their hated former President had chosen.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2017-06-08)
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  4. Presidential candidate Trump’s embrace of Putin and calls for closer cooperation with Moscow put him at odds with the House Republican caucus, whose members have long advocated a harder line on Russia, with the exception of Rohrabacher and a few others.

    Among GOP leaders in the House, McCarthy stood out as a Putin critic who in 2015 called for the imposition of “more severe” sanctions for its actions in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

    In May 2016, McCarthy signed up to serve as a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention, breaking ranks with Ryan, who said he still was not ready to endorse the candidate. McCarthy’s relationship with Trump became so close that the president would sometimes refer to him as “my Kevin.”

    Trump was by then the lone Republican remaining in the contest for the nomination. Though Ryan continued to hold out, Trump picked up endorsements from the remaining GOP leaders in the House, including Rep. Steve Scalise, the majority whip from Louisiana, and Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) — both of whom took part in the June 15 conversation.

    Ryan announced on June 2 that he would vote for Trump to help “unite the party so we can win in the fall” but continued to clash with the candidate, including over Putin. While Trump sought to cast Putin as a better leader than then-President Obama, Ryan dubbed him an “aggressor” who didn’t share U.S. interests.

    On the same day as Ryan’s endorsement, Clinton stepped up her attacks on Trump over his public statements praising Putin. “If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin,” she said.

    Ukrainian officials were unnerved by Trump’s statements in support of Putin. Republicans, they had believed, were supposed to be tougher on Russia.

    When Trump named Paul Manafort as his campaign manager in April 2016, alarm bells in Kiev started ringing even louder. Manafort was already well known in Ukraine because of his influential role as a political consultant to Viktor Yanukovych, the country’s former Kremlin-friendly ruler until a popular uprising forced him to flee to Russia. Manafort had also consulted for a powerful Russian businessman with close ties to the Kremlin.

    “Ukraine was, in a sense, a testing ground for Manafort,” said Ukrainian political scientist Taras Berezovets, who became a grudging admirer of Manafort’s skills in the “dark arts” of political stagecraft while Berezovets was working for one of Yanukovych’s political rivals.

    At the urging of Manafort, Yanukovych campaigned with populist slogans labeling NATO a “menace” and casting “elites” in the Ukrainian capital as out of touch, Berezovets said. Trump struck similar themes during the 2016 campaign.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-05-18)
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  5. Non il regime di Bashar al-Assad ma i ribelli. Furono loro, secondo l’inchiesta condotta da Seymour Hersh, ad usare le armi chimiche in Siria. Una scelta maturata però altrove, in Turchia, per convincere e costringere gli Stati Uniti ad intervenire militarmente.
    Nella ricostruzione fatta dal giornalista americano che vinse il premio Pulitzer nel 1970 per il reportage sul massacro di My Lai del marzo 1968 durante la guerra del Vietnam, in cui le forze armate americane uccisero deliberatamente almeno 109 civili, l’attacco dell’agosto con il sarin fu, in sostanza, una trappola preparata apposta per Washington che, solo all’ultimo momento, si accorse di come stavano le cose e annullò l’ordine di attacco.
    Era la fine del 2012 quando l’intelligence americana si convinse che i ribelli siriani stavano ormai perdendo la guerra. Un esito inaccettabile per il premier turco Recep Tayyip Erdoğan che i ribelli aveva sostenuto politicamente e, cosa più importante, economicamente. E a questo punto sarebbe maturata la decisione di trascinare nel conflitto gli Usa, gli unici in grado di capovolgere l’esito della guerra.
    La politica del presidente Obama era però chiara, c’era un limite preciso che Assad avrebbe dovuto superare per scatenare l’intervento degli Stati Uniti, e quel limite non era stato passato. L’utilizzo di armi chimiche avrebbe però segnato il salto di qualità in grado di far alzare in volo i bombardieri a stelle strisce.
    Così ad Ankara maturò la decisione di far utilizzare ai ribelli le armi chimiche di cui erano già in possesso, realizzate anche con l’aiuto turco, e addossarne la responsabilità ad Assad. L’attacco andò in scena il 21 agosto.
    Un’operazione apparentemente ben congeniata. Al punto che navi e aerei americani erano già stati dislocati in modo da colpire Damasco. Persino la data dell’attacco era pronta, gli Usa avrebbero colpito la Siria la mattina del 2 settembre, un lunedì. All’ultimo momento però il presidente Obama, informato della reale situazione e delle responsabilità turche e dei ribelli, fermò l’attacco. Era il 31 agosto.
    Quel giorno Obama, che non poteva ammettere di essersi sbagliato asserendo che Assad era l’unico in Siria ad essere in possesso di un arsenale chimico, e non potendo accusare apertamente Ankara, alleato Nato, si smarcò chiedendo un voto del Congresso per dare il via libera all’operazione. Nel frattempo prese corpo l’accordo orchestrato insieme al presidente russo Vladimir Putin in cui Assad prometteva di consegnare il suo arsenale chimico per farlo distruggere. Accordo che, disarmando il presidente siriano, smontava le condizioni per cui Washington avrebbe di nuovo corso il rischio di trovarsi in una situazione simile.
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  6. What the erratic flip-floppery of Trump’s foreign policy really means is that America’s foes can easily manipulate the Trump administration into greater and greater military quagmires.

    Has the administration considered how Lebanon’s Hezbollah will react to the US bombing their close ally Bashar al-Assad? Is the Trump administration prepared to put large numbers of troops on the ground to accomplish its goals? Will it militarily challenge Russia if needed? Or does the US military now only “send messages”?

    The administration seems to have no vision of what it wants to accomplish or what it can accomplish. Trump ended his announcement of Thursday’s strike with the modest goal of ending “terrorism of all kinds and all types.” Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the heart of the problem is that the United States seems always to have only one solution to war: make more war.

    None of this exonerates the murderous, thuggish and brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. The moral and strategic imperatives of our world today demand that the Syrian civil war be brought to a swift and just conclusion. And we must recognize that the end of Syria’s civil war will not be found through military means but through careful deliberation between many different parties.

    But we are moving farther away from those goals. At its best, Thursday’s reckless and largely ineffective bombing does little but make US lawmakers feel good about themselves. At its worst, it deepens a war which the US has no idea how to end.
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-04-07)
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  7. According to a WhoWhatWhy exposé, published Thursday on AlterNet, the FBI declined to inform the U.S. public about ties between Trump and the Russian government for fear of exposing informants and “ jeopardizing » a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.”

    A two month-long investigation by the publication revealed that FBI agents likely feared exposing an ongoing operation against “an organized crime network headquartered in the former Soviet Union.” This Russian mob “is one of the Bureau’s top priorities,” spans several decades, and is intricately linked with associates of Trump and businesses the president owns.

    As the report notes, federal officials were intent on protecting an FBI source—a convicted criminal with deep links to the organized crime network—upon whom the bureau came to rely for information. Some federal officials “were so involved in protecting this source” they later became a part of his personal defense counsel; upon his conviction government attorneys urged for “extreme leniency” toward this man.

    The article further reveals that among the many details Comey was unable to discuss during his Mar. 20 testimony to Congress was the fact that “for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights,” monitoring its occupants’ deep ties to organized crime networks. According to the report, one former Trump Organization adviser, Felix Sater, fits the bill for the FBI’s source into the Russia-based crime ring.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-04-01)
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  8. Ad Aleksandr Dugin chiediamo dove nasca la sua avversione culturale per l’Europa che tanto sembra aver ispirato Putin.

    “Oggi l’Europa occidentale sta nella trappola della modernità e della postmodernità, il progetto della modernizzazione liberale va verso la liberazione dell’individuo da tutti i vincoli con la società, con la tradizione spirituale, con la famiglia, con l’umanesimo stesso. Questo liberalismo libera l’individuo da ogni vincolo. Lo libera anche dal suo gender e un giorno anche dalla sua natura umana. Il senso della politica oggi è questo progetto di liberazione. I dirigenti europei non possono arrestare questo processo ma possono solamente continuare: più immigrati, più femminismo, più società aperta, più gender, questa è la linea che non si discute per le élite europee. E non possono cambiare il corso ma più passa il tempo e più la gente si trova in disaccordo. La risposta è la reazione che cresce in Europa e che le élite vogliono fermare, demonizzandola. La realtà non corrisponde più al loro progetto. Le élite europee sono ideologicamente orientate verso il liberalismo ideologico”.

    A Mosca, la vittoria di Donald Trump è stata accolta con favore, per usare un eufemismo.

    “Trump negli Stati Uniti ha preso il potere cambiando un po’ questa situazione, e l’Europa si trova oggi isolata”, continua Dugin. “La Russia oggi è il nemico numero uno dell’Europa perché il nostro presidente non condivide questa ideologia postmoderna liberal. Siamo nella guerra ideologica, ma stavolta non è fra comunismo e capitalismo, ma fra élite liberal politicamente corrette, l’aristocrazia globalista, e contro chi non condivide questa ideologia, come la Russia, ma anche Trump. L’Europa occidentale è decadente, perde tutta l’identità e questa non è la conseguenza di processi naturali, ma ideologici. Le élite liberal vogliono che l’Europa perda la propria identità, con la politica dell’immigrazione e del gender. L’Europa perde quindi potere, la possibilità di autoaffermarsi, la sua natura interiore. L’Europa è molto debole, nel senso dell’intelletto, è culturalmente debole. Basta vedere come i giornalisti e i circoli culturali discutono dei problemi dell’Europa, io non la riconosco più questa Europa. Il pensiero sta al livello più basso del possibile. L’Europa era la patria del logos, dell’intelletto, del pensiero, e oggi è una caricatura di se stessa. L’Europa è debole spiritualmente e mentalmente. Non è possibile curarla, perché le élite politiche non lo lasceranno fare. L’Europa sarà sempre più contraddittoria, sempre più idiota. I russi devono salvare l’Europa dalle élite liberal che la stanno distruggendo”.

    “Irrisolta la questione ucraina” Ma la Russia non dovrebbe aspirare ad avvicinarsi all’Europa, come sembrava dopo il crollo del comunismo?

    “La Russia è una civiltà a sé, cristiana ortodossa. Ci sono aspetti simili fra Europa e Russia. Ma dopo il crollo del comunismo, quando la Russia si è avvicinata all’occidente, abbiamo capito che l’Europa non era più se stessa, che era una parodia della libertà, che era decadente e postmoderna, che versava nella decomposizione totale. Questo occidente non ci serviva più come esempio da seguire, per cui abbiamo cercato un’ispirazione nell’identità russa, e abbiamo trovato che questa differenza è fra cattolicesimo e ortodossia, fra protestantesimo e ortodossia, noi russi siamo ereditari della tradizione romana, greca, bizantina, siamo fedeli allo spirito cristiano antico dell’Europa che ha perso ogni legame con questa tradizione. La Russia può essere un punto di appoggio per la restaurazione europea, siamo più europei noi russi di questi europei. Siamo cristiani, siamo eredi della filosofia greca”.
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  9. After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there's no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.

    On its own, Trump's relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we're talking about most generous reads here.)

    But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching 'peace plans' for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen - who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters - is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.

    Were Cohen not involved, one might speculate that Sater is just up to yet another hustle, looking to parlay his one-time association with Trump into influence with the new President. Cohen hand delivering his messages to the President changes the picture considerably. How or why Cohen would do this, if for no other reason than the current massive scrutiny of Trump's ties to Russia and Sater's scandals, almost defies belief. But here we are.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2017-02-20)
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  10. For Americans to really understand what’s going on, it’s important to review some details about this sordid but little-remembered history. During the 1950s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers — CIA Director Allen Dulles and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles — rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a neutral zone in the Cold War and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab nationalism — which Allen Dulles equated with communism — particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies that they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism. At a White House meeting between the CIA’s director of plans, Frank Wisner, and John Foster Dulles, in September 1957, Eisenhower advised the agency, “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,” according to a memo recorded by his staff secretary, Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster.

    The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline, which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni monarchy by giving it a foothold in Shia-dominated Syria. The Saudis’ geopolitical goal is to contain the economic and political power of the kingdom’s principal rival, Iran, a Shiite state, and close ally of Bashar Assad. The Saudi monarchy viewed the U.S.-sponsored Shiite takeover in Iraq (and, more recently, the termination of the Iran trade embargo) as a demotion to its regional power status and was already engaged in a proxy war against Tehran in Yemen, highlighted by the Saudi genocide against the Iranian backed Houthi tribe.

    Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”
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