Russian Politics, & Personalities

Putin’s Pike

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Vladimir Putin’s fishing expedition in Tyva lit up the Russian blogosphere over the weekend.  There were lots of bromance jokes about Putin and Medvedev, and debates about the size of the fish Putin caught (conclusion: much smaller than the claimed 21kg).

But there was also an interesting post by Andrei Malgin on his LJ blog with the conspiracy theory that the fishing trip did not take place at all.  And that the photos released were actually from a previous trip to Tyva in 2007.  He notes that the Kremlin never noted Putin’s visit to Tyva on the dates he was allegedly there.  Furthermore, the Kremlin press pool was not informed of the trip, nor were they present.  Finally, the cutter Shoigu and Putin are in has an MChS (Emergencies Ministry) tag on it.  This is important because Shoigu was the long-time Minister of the Emergencies Ministry until last year.

The evidence does not look good, but… here is the thing: we know Peskov lies.  It is an open secret in Moscow.  Someone once joked, “When Peskov lies, you know he is lying, and he knows that you know he is lying.”  Frankly, I don’t think he can help himself.  But there is a difference between lying in an interview about how much Putin’s pike weighed (and who really cares anyway?), and posting photos that are 6 years old and trying to pass them off as being only a week old.  Why would you lie about something like that?  What does it get you?

One commenter joked: “Maybe Putin has already died, and we don’t know it.”

Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov denied on Sunday that the photos were from the 2007 trip.

Written by Nina Jobe

July 29, 2013 at 1:39 AM

Surkov Speaks

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A partial interview with former Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov was released today on Russki Pioneer’s (Russian Pioneer) website [http://www.ruspioner.ru/honest/m/single/3718].  This is the first interview Surkov has given since he left the Government in early May of this year.  In the published excerpts Surkov reiterates his previous assertion that Putin was sent by God to save Russia, and calls Putin a “white knight”.

Interestingly, in an interview [http://izvestia.ru/news/552844] given just a few weeks ago, Surkov’s father said something similar: “Russia was given Putin by God and that there are no alternatives now.”

While the timing and placement of both interviews is odd, the reasons for them are not.  A criminal case [http://www.interpretermag.com/investigative-committee-ready-to-open-criminal-case-against-ponomarev/] has been started against Just Russia MP Ilya Ponomarev over allegations that he was given money from Skolkovo for work he never did.  Ponomarev denies the charge, but Bastrykin’s Investigative Committee is pushing for Ponomarev’s parliamentary immunity to be stripped, something that is not unprecedented in Russian politics today (3 other MPs have been stripped of immunity in the last year).

Given Surkov’s involvement with the Skolkovo project (it was part of his portfolio while he was Deputy PM), it is likely that a criminal case is being prepared.  However, Surkov does not have parliamentary immunity to prevent a criminal case from starting right away.  So Surkov is obviously worried, and for good reason.  Today’s interview and the interview given by Surkov’s father a few weeks ago indicate that he is getting out in front of it, and attempting to write his own narrative about his resignation from the Government and his loyalty to Putin.  But will his efforts be successful?

P.S. We should get more of the Kolesnikov-Surkov interview on Monday.

Written by Nina Jobe

July 27, 2013 at 12:21 PM

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Navalny’s Poll Numbers

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VTsIOM today released the first poll numbers on the Moscow Mayoral race after Alexei Navalny’s conviction in the KirovLes fraud trial.  How much did the exposure help to improve Navalny’s poll numbers?  According to the state-run pollster’s results, not much.  A survey conducted on 9-10 July found 11.6% of eligible voters would vote for Navalny if the election was held the following Sunday.  A mere 10 days later, when asked the same question, 12.9% of respondents answered Navalny.  By contrast, Moscow’s current mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, received 78.3% and 77.1% respectively. 

Levada Center, meanwhile, has not released a poll on the Moscow mayoral election since early July, well before Navalny’s conviction.  In their last poll, 9.5% of respondents said they would vote for Navalny in the September 8 election.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Frolov said in an op-ed published yesterday in the Moscow Times, “All Navalny needs to do now is walk the streets of Moscow with his beautiful wife and shake hands to get more than 30 percent of the vote.”

But what exactly would prevent Navalny from rallying people to protest the results of the election by saying fraud took place?  It would not even have to be massive fraud.  Just a few well-documented cases would be enough to call for a march or even an Occupy-type scenario. 

Or, to put it another way, is there a “magic” percentage that allows Navalny to lose gracefully and does not end in street protests? 

Written by Nina Jobe

July 23, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Kazan 2013 Update

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Someone claiming to be the Emir of Tatarstan has recently set up a blog with a video message that can be accessed via Vimeo: http://idelural.blogspot.co.uk/

Written by Nina Jobe

April 21, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Kazan 2013

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I will confess I am not a sports fan. I am not competitive by nature, and I participated in 4 different competitive sports before I realized it.  So I do not play sports, and I also do not watch them except for a few select Olympic sports. And I do not recall hearing of the Universiade before Kazan 2013 came on the scene.

That being said, I am interested in the Universiade in Kazan for one reason: security.  The events in Kazan this summer (6-17 July) will be a test run for next winter’s Olympic Games in Sochi.  They will be a test for Russia’s security apparatus, and could potentially be a test run for terrorists too.

I want to briefly look at the threats facing the Summer Universiade and what the authorities say they are doing to combat these threats.

The security threat is vague.  We know that Tatarstan has seen some terrorist activity in the last year or so.  Last July, there was a dual attack on Tatarstan’s mufti and his deputy [http://www.rferl.org/content/tatarstan-attack-spar-fears-that-islamist-threat-is-spreading/24650674.html].  The mufti miraculously survived, but his deputy did not.  It is still unclear who exactly was behind the dual attack, as fingers were pointed at both “Wahabbis” & some kind of power struggle over money/influence [http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=9570].

Shortly thereafter a video was posted to YouTube [http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BH0_CVDy8oQ#!] of an unmasked man claiming to be Tatarstan’s emir, and reaffirming loyalty to Dokku Umarov, leader of the North Caucasus Emirate.  However, it was unclear if the video was authentic.

A month later, a car exploded on the highway to Kazan [http://www.rferl.org/content/three-killed-in-tatarstan-car-blast/24682340.html].  The authorities said it was a group of 3 men who were planning a terrorist attack.  Their intended target was not identified.

In late October 2012, a Counterterrorism Operation (CTO) was conducted in Kazan [http://rt.com/news/russia-militants-special-operation-140/ & http://vserusskie.ru/news/134123%5D.  This was the first CTO ever conducted in Tatarstan, and ended with 2 militants, and 1 FSB officer dead [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20072293].

As for how the authorities are preparing for the event in July, here is what their candidature proposal says [http://kazan2013.net/index.php?id=questionnaire]:

Kazan has a rich experience of hosting major events including sports competitions. The level of security provided during the Universiade will satisfy the highest demands. The Organizing Committee will develop a detailed plan for ensuring safety at all facilities, especially in and around the Universiade Athletes’ Village which will be guarded twenty-four hours a day by law enforcement officers. In order to prevent illegal trespassing, the territory will be regularly patrolled and CCTV cameras will be used. Sports competition venues will be fenced by portable metal barriers. Participants and spectators will be required to pass through check points equipped with standard metal detectors. In order to ensure no forbidden objects and weapons are carried through, all bags will be checked by security guards and documents will be subject to electronic inspection. All Universiade facilities and nearby areas will be patrolled by canine handlers with dogs specially trained to search for explosives.


About 10,000 law enforcement officers from Tatarstan and the neighboring regions will be on active duty during the Universiade. If necessary, more officers can be available to guarantee safety. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan guarantees the presence of safety staff in required numbers and the reliability of the safety system during the Universiade. Moreover, specially trained volunteers in distinctive uniform, selected from Kazan University students, will help ensure public order at the Universiade facilities and recreational areas.

These are all good traditional methods of crowd control, but how effective will they be against a car bomb, for example?  Tatarstan has been relatively quiet since the shootout in Kazan last October, but that is not a guarantee of safety, especially considering the fact that we know almost nothing about the insurgency in Tatarstan, including how many people claim membership.  There is also a possibility that a group from the North Caucasus insurgency could come in and use Kazan as a test run for the Olympic Games in Sochi next winter. 

The threat against the Universiade in July is real, however much the authorities wish to publicly turn a blind eye.  This is not to say they are not gathering intelligence even now against a threat, but the lack of transparency is concerning.

Written by Nina Jobe

April 9, 2013 at 11:58 PM

“New” Government

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I have compiled a list of the “new” Russian Government.  Bios and responsibilities will be posted over the next few days.

1st Deputy PM — Igor Shuvalov

Deputy PM — Vladislav Surkov

Deputy PM — Arkady Dvorkovich

Deputy PM — Olga Golodets

Deputy PM — Dmitry Rogozin

Deputy PM — Dmitry Kozak

Deputy PM — Alexander Khloponin

Interior — Vladimir Kolokoltsev (Former Head of Moscow Police)

Foreign — Sergei Lavrov

Defense — Anatoly Serdyukov

MChS — Vladimir Puchkov (Former deputy of MChS)

Justice — Alexander Konovalov

Health — Veronika Skortsova (Former Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development)

Labor & Social Dev — Maxim Topilin (Former Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development)

Finance — Anton Siluanov

Economic  Development — Andrei Belousov (Former Deputy of Economic Development)

Culture — Vladimir Medinsky

Education — Dmitry Livanov (Former rector at National Institute of Science and Technology (MISIS))

Natural Resources — Sergei Donskoi

Industry & Trade — Denis Manturov

Regional Development — Oleg Govorun (Presidential Envoy to Central Region)

Communications — Nikolai Nikiforov (Former Deputy Prime Minister of Tatarstan Republic)

Agriculture — Nikolai Fyodorov (Former Head of Chuvash region)

Sports, etc. — Vitaly Mutko

Transport — Maxim Sokolov (Former Director of the government’s department of industry and infrastructure)

Energy — Alexander Novak (Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

Minister of Relations with Open Government — Mikhail Abyzov

Minister of Far East Development — Viktor Ishayev (also retaining post as Envoy to Far East Fed District)

Written by Nina Jobe

May 21, 2012 at 11:09 AM

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Dear Dokku Umarov, I Also Have Questions

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As previously noted, on Friday April 13th, Kavkaz Center posted what they claimed to be a new video of Dokku Umarov, self-proclaimed leader of the Caucasus Emirate.  The video was titled “Dokku Umarov Answers Questions”.  And for 20 minutes that is exactly what Umarov does.  He reads a question, and then he answers it.  He reads another question, and he answers it.  Umarov gives no indication of where he got the questions he claims are from “Caucasian journalists”, but they have been written out on a piece of paper that he reads from.



The video itself is reminiscent of previous videos submitted by the Caucasus Emirate. Umarov is shown sitting on a rug in a room with no natural light.  On the wall behind him is black flag of the Caucasus Emirate, and a green wall peaking out from behind that.  Umarov himself is wearing all black.  However, unlike previous videos, the distracting background noise in this one was kept to a minimum, with only one other person coughing in the background a few times throughout the video that lasts 20 minutes.

Umarov again denies that there is a split in the leadership of the Caucasus Emirate, saying that it is all just rumours and gossip.  However, he does not present Gakayev and Vadalov as proof, so it is difficult to determine if there is actually any truth in his claims.

The most emotion that Umarov shows in the video is when he is discussing the price the Americans have placed on his head under the Rewards for Justice program.  In fact, he appears very smug about the fact that he is worth $5 million to the Americans, and mentions it repeatedly.  While this is not a lot of money (for comparison, Ayman al-Zawahiri is worth $25 million, and Mullah Omar is worth $10 million under the same program), it is enough to make Umarov self-satisfied about his position as a leader in the worldwide Islamic jihad.

I am not convinced that the video is entirely legitimate.  While the man in the video is almost certainly Dokku Umarov, I have a hard time believing that the video was taken last month.  There are several odd choppy cuts at the end, and Umarov never mentions the alleged assassination attempt on Russia’s President-elect Vladimir Putin, or gives any proof that the video was taken in March 2012.  In addition, the topics that he chooses to discuss are somewhat dated.  The Americans placed Umarov on the Rewards For Justice list in May 2011. The split with Gakayev & Vadalov was allegedly resolved last July. That being said, Umarov does not say anything that would indicate the opposite either.

In the end, there was very little new information offered in the video.  The video is called “Umarov answers questions” but, quite frankly, I still have questions.  Why does he not mention Gakayev & Vadalov by name?  Why doesn’t he mention Vladimir Putin’s reelection?  Why doesn’t he mention the Russian opposition?  Is the moratorium on civilian targets over now that Vladimir Putin has been reelected?  These are just some of the questions I would like Dokku Umarov to answer.  Maybe he will take the time to answer them in his next video.

Written by Nina Jobe

April 16, 2012 at 4:21 PM

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Dokku Umarov Answers Questions

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I am posting the transcript from Dokku Umarov’s new video for those of you who cannot access Kavkaz Center’s website.  Analysis to follow shortly.


Мусульмане Чечни, Кавказа и всего Мира, которые следят за событиями на Кавказе с большим удовлетворением восприняли известие о том, что фитна между моджахедами, которая продолжалась почти год, преодолена.

Амир Имарата Кавказ Докку Абу Усман ответил не несколько вопросов, переданных ему кавказскими журналистами, по ситуации в ИК, перспективах Джихада, объявления США Имарата Кавказ т.н. «террористическим образованием» и др.

В своих видео ответах Докку Абу Усман также затронул вопросы по распространяемым противниками Имарата Кавказ различным слухам и сплетням, и своей позицией в связи с объявленным США вознаграждением в 5 млн. долларов за его убийство.

КЦ предлагает распечатку ответов Амира Имарата Кавказ.


Вместе с тем, противники Имарата Кавказ, как в России, так и на Западе, не оставляют попыток провокаций для внесения раскола среди моджахедов. Мусульман интересует оценка произошедших событий, перспектив ведения джихада на Кавказе и реакция на попытки врагов посеять смуту между моджахедами.

Прежде, чем ответить на этот вопрос, я хочу вам напомнить хадис, где сказано, что когда Пророк (алейхи салату вассалам) попросил Аллаха о трёх вещах: первое, чтобы его Умму не постигло наказание, которое постигло Уммы предыдущих пророков; второе, чтобы его Умма никогда не была покорена и уничтожена внешними врагами — на это тоже был дан удовлетворительный ответ. Но на третью просьба Пророка (алейхи салату вассалам): чтобы его Умму не постигала фитна (искушения, разногласия — КЦ) — Аллах не ответил.

Поэтому мы знаем, что наша Умма всегда страдает из-за фитн.  Я не могу сказать, что фитна произошедшая на Кавказе была столь масштабна для исламской Уммы и для моджахедов всего Мира, но она была достаточно болезненной для мусульман и моджахедов Кавказа.

Хвала Аллаху, с помощью Аллаха мы этот этап, эту фитну прошли без крови, без потерь, вышли из неё более умными, и хавал Аллаху, что ни одна из сторон не преступила той черты, откуда нет возврата.  АльхамдулиЛлах, воздадим за это хвалу Всевышнему.

Так же мы знаем, что для мусульман, когда между ними возникаю разногласия, есть Коран и Сунна Пророка (алейхи салату вассалам), с помощью которых приказано разрешать свои споры. Поэтому мы, как истинные мусульмане, как истинные моджахеды, обратились к этой заповеди и Коран и Сунна рассудили наши недопонимания. 

Алимы, знатоки ислама, рассудили иншаЛлах, с помощью Аллаха. Мы прошли этот этап, опираясь на Коран и Сунну, что нас очень радует.

Поэтому реакция врагов, которым так хотелось, чтобы моджахеды Кавказа, Вилаята Нохчийчоь раскололись – была негативной, так как их номер не прошел. ИншаЛлах, и в дальнейшем постараемся, чтобы по нашей вине не было между нами этих разногласий, из-за чего могли бы страдать мусульмане и исламская Умма.

Не могли бы Вы поименно назвать командиров, которые сегодня обновили свой байат, из числа тех, которые в прошлом году вышли из под присяги? Каков их статус сегодня?

Противники Имарата Кавказ все еще пытаются использовать разные имена моджахедов для своих манипуляций, спекуляций.

Нам доступны средства массовой информации, мы так же слушаем радио, так же смотрим интернет и тоже видим, как не могут угомониться противники ислама, противники моджахедов Кавказа и раздувают эту фитну, называя некоторые имена моджахедов, которых они не видели на том меджлисе, где обновляли байат (присяга — КЦ). 

Хочу расстроить этих журналистов, этих специалистов, этих аналитиков. Байат обновили все амиры.

Не обязательно, чтобы они присутствовали во время общего собрания. Сегодня перед нами стоят трудные задачи, поэтому мы не смогли собраться вместе, чтобы продемонстрировать это, но альхамдулиЛлах все амиры обновили свой байат и вернулись под общую присягу. 

Поэтому придумывать и раздувать сплетни вокруг имён моджахедов, лучше бы им не стоило, так как под этим нет основания.

Как известно с момента провозглашения Имарата Кавказ некоторые бывшие члены правительства бывшей чеченской республики Ичкерия выступили с обвинением в Ваш адрес, заявив, что якобы получили от ФСБ России 500 миллионов долл. за объявление ИК.


В этой связи так же часто упоминалось имя Мовлади Удугова и так же Вас обвиняли в том, что якобы Ваши дети учатся в лучших университетах за рубежом и не принимают участие в джихаде. Как Вы прокомментируете эти спекуляции?

Мы хорошо знаем, что за деньги 500 млн. долларов. Это полмиллиарда. Мы также знаем, что сегодня нынешняя ситуация на Кавказе не требует пожертвования таких огромных сумм. 

Я могу вам привести маленький пример из достоверных источников от своих моджахедов, которые были в плену у ФСБ, в застенках у кафиров.

Они рассказали, что подписали вербовку, сотрудничества с ними, и когда получали от них свое задание, то в первую очередь им ставилась задача уничтожить Удугова. 

Цена, которую определило ФСБ за голову Удугова — это 500 тыс. долл. Так я хочу спросить у тех, кто распространяет эти сплетни — сначала они дают 500 млн., а потом дают 500 тыс., чтобы уничтожить Удугова или кого-нибудь другого. 

Так же мы сегодня знаем, что они за меня объявили 5 млн. долларов. Тогда спрашивается — зачем давать 500 млн, чтобы потом за мизерные суммы стараться нас уничтожить.

Я не хочу называть фамилию человека, который распространяет эту фитну, не хочу называть рупора этих сплетен, но мы знаем, что этот человек очевидно считает всех, кто слушает его и всех, кто верит в это, идиотами. Но он скорее сам идиот, если верит своим словам и распространяет эти сплетни. 

В провозглашении Имарата Кавказ Удугов не принимал участия. Имарат Кавказ был провозглашен мною, это было согласовано в то время с кадием Кавказа, (кадием, который дает оценку в исламе за все, что соответствует шариату) СейфулЛах Кабардинским (Анзором Астемировым – КЦ).

Так что обвинения нас в том, что мы получили 500 млн долл.  — это сплетни для идиотов.

А то, что еще говорят, что мои дети учатся в лучших университетах за рубежом, это тоже  сплетни от того же рупора, из той же категории. 

Моему самому старшему сыну нет и 10 лет. ИншаЛлах, когда они станут взрослыми, мы их призовем на джихад, и университетское образование они будут получать иншаЛлах на Джихаде.  Сплетники распространяют слухи, слыша звон, но не знают, где он. Сегодня можно проверить официально, каких возрастов мои дети.

Какова общая обстановка на фронтах кавказского джихада? Как Вы оцениваете перспективы Имарата Кавказ?

Чтобы оценить обстановку на Кавказе, я хочу, чтобы вы сначала посмотрели на этот вопрос с другой стороны.

Пик финансового могущества России пришелся на 2010 — 2011 годы. Сейчас, иншааЛлах, идет спад. Мы знаем — Джихад зависит от финансов. Мы так же знаем, что Джихад на Кавказе возрос в своей цене, а вокруг нас нет исламских государств, которые нам помогли бы, и поэтому нам вдвойне тяжело вести Джихад на Кавказе, когда мы полностью в окружении кафиров. 

Но альхамдулиЛлах, меня радует обстановка, которая сложилась на сегодняшний день. Я считал самой важной задачей для себя сохранить Джихад на Кавказе, и мы с помощью Аллаха, с помощью братьев-моджахедов, которые вокруг нас сегодня сплотились на всем Кавказе, с помощью Аллаха  иншаЛлах, сохранили Джихад.

Те изменения, которые происходят в мире по воле Аллаха, коснутся непосредственно и Кавказа.  

Мы всегда готовы принять моджахедов, которые готовы выйти на Джихад во имя возвышения слова Аллаха. Мы — та цепочка, которая передает этот флаг, знамя Джихада следующему поколению.

АльхамдулиЛлах мы его сохранили, альхамдулиЛлах сегодняшняя молодежь, как бы ее не старались затянуть в разврат, на исламских ценностях. Они растут и именно поддерживают Джихад, и готовы по первому призыву встать в ряды моджахедов. Это меня очень сильно радует, иншааЛлах. 

А то, что сегодня наблюдается некоторое затишье, так этому есть объяснение. Да устали, да понесли большие потери, но альхамдулиЛлах, с помощью Аллаха мы не останавливаемся иншааЛлах. Результаты будут, результаты будут в эту весеннюю компанию.

Как известно, США внесли ИК в так называемый «черный список», а за Вас лично объявили награду 5 млн. долларов.

Какова Ваша оценка такого открытого враждебного действия США в отношении ИК и мусульман Кавказа? Чем, по Вашему мнению, они продиктованы? Какую цель преследуют американцы?

Если взять 11-ый и 12-ый аяты из суры Бакара Священного Корана, то мы прочтем в них, что нечестивцы, по сути, считают себя владыками мира, что они, мол, устанавливают порядок в мире.

Я считаю, что США относятся к этим нечестивцам. Они себя считают вправе объявлять, кого хотят террористом, за кого хотят объявлять за награду, так как они считают себя владыками мира.  Но у этого вопроса есть два аспекта, которые я вижу. 

Первый — американцы и им подобные поняли, что на Кавказе между моджахедами будет единство, что моджахеды будут под единым командованием, что они будут делать Джихад во имя возвышения слова Аллаха. Поэтому американцы делают  посыл моджахедам, которые попали в фитну.

Что, мол, вашего амира Абу Усмана мы объявили террористом, и что Имарат Кавказ тоже объявили «террористической организацией». Если хотите быть легитимными, если хотите, чтобы вас поддерживали, то не присоединяйтесь к нему. 

Но альхамдулиЛлах этот посыл на моджахедов не подействовал, альхамдулиЛлах, моджахеды все встали под флаг Имарата Кавказ, все встали под байат Абу Усмана. АльхамдулиЛлах, этот номер у них не прошёл. 

Второй аспект — Мы знаем, что кремлевские нечестивцы ради достижения своих целей идут на любые уступки, на любые потери, и американцы, зная эту их болезнь, делают им маленький подарочек, за который, я думаю, Москва заплатит огромную цену или уже заплатила. Какую цену, я не знаю, потому, что мне это не интересно. 

Вот я думаю, что эти две причины, из-за которым американцы пошли на этот шаг — может быть для России, а может быть в своих интересах. Но меня это не расстраивает. АльхамдулиЛлах, я сегодня являюсь врагом всех врагов Аллаха.

Какие пожелания, обращения Вы хотели бы донести до моджахедов Кавказа и мусульман Уммы?

К моджахедам Кавказа и всего мира я обращаюсь с пожеланием укреплять стопы на пути Джихада.

Аллах нам даровал нам Джихад. Хвала Аллаху за то, что мы сегодня являемся моджахедами, что мы сегодня являемся частью той армии моджахедов, которая делает Джихад во имя возвышения слова Аллаха.

Клянусь Аллахом, другой  более достойной миссии для нас не могло быть в этом мире. Аллах даровал нам эту милость и поэтому мы должны быть благодарны нашему Всевышнему Аллаху, Субхана ва тааля. 

Джихад сегодня фард-айн (обязателен) для всех мусульман, так как сегодня исламская Умма переживает тяжелые времена. Тот, кто не делает сегодня Джихад, рискует попасть в очень тяжелое положение в Судный День. 

АльхамдулиЛлах, мы должны гордиться тем, что мы сегодня ведем Джихад, мы должны укреплять свой иман, свою веру в Аллаха, боясь Аллаха, Субхана ва тааля, и делать дуа за всю нашу Умму, делать дуа друг за друга и переживать друг за друга.

Я так же хочу обратиться к моджахедам Кавказа. Наступил новый год, 1433 год по Хиджре. Прошел очередной год Джихада, много наших братьев-моджахедов стали шахидами (иншааЛлах).

Пусть примет Аллах их Шахаду. Надеемся, что Аллах присоединит нас к ним, и мы все войдем в сады Рая. 

АльхамдулилЛах, мы знаем, насколько они были нам близки и насколько мы переживали потерю наших братьев. Но Аллах знает лучше, Аллах призвал их к Себе.

Мы не знаем, каков будет наш конец. Будем делать дуа, молить Аллаха, чтобы наш конец был таким же достойным, как конец наших братьев. И чтобы мы все вошли в сады Рая, иншааЛлах. И слава Аллаху, Господу Миров.

Аллаху Акбар!!!

Written by Nina Jobe

April 15, 2012 at 3:03 PM

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The Caucasus Emirate

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I am veering away from my usual topics (the elite in Moscow) to talk about the latest Dokku Umarov video. I am doing so because while Umarov is physically far away from Moscow and its elites, he seems to be more aware of what is taking place there politically than the elites are.  And he is taking advantage of the weakness that the Putin regime has portrayed (and is continuing to portray) in its moment of political crisis.

The latest video was posted two days ago on the rebel website Kavkaz Center, with the headline: “Dokku Umarov has changed the status of the population of Russia, and gave the order to avoid attacks on civilian targets.”  Umarov’s stated reason was that in protesting the falsified elections, the civilian population is currently in direct conflict with the regime, and therefore deserving of this moratorium.

While the man in the video was almost certainly Umarov, the sudden and remarkable change in tactics shows that Umarov may not be the one making all of the decisions anymore.  In bringing Vadalov & Gakaev back into the fold last summer, some concessions were probably made about how decisions are reached within the Caucasus Emirate.  Neither Vadalov nor Gakaev were in this most recent video, and Umarov made no mention of them.  However, I find it very doubtful that they are not participating in discussions on tactics, and strategies, and targets.  In fact, I would be willing to posit that the two are very much involved in the larger tactical plans.

Umarov and the Caucasus Emirate leadership seek to portray the Putin regime as weak, but they are weak too. Umarov may have been trying to project strength here, but everything about this video (except for the great graphics in the first 35 seconds) screamed weakness.  He’s sitting out in the cold snow, and he is obviously in pain.  A terrorist attack in Moscow, or anywhere outside the North Caucasus, has not been staged for a little over a year (since Domodedovo).  We have not really heard anything from Riyadus-Salikhin since then.  They tried to claim responsibility for the assassination of Yuri Budanov last June, but no one really took them seriously.  And as for Khamzat, the supposed leader of Riyadus-Salikhin, we saw him the last time we saw Umarov (back in October) when Umarov declared that Khamzat had not been killed in Istanbul.

As a political strategy, this moratorium is a good one, but in practical terms, it is highly doubtful that the Caucasus Emirate is currently capable of attacking even a soft target in Russia’s heartland.

Competing factions, competing ideas, competing numbers

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In my last post, I laid out the three options that Putin’s campaign had to win the presidential election on 4 March.  As we get down to the last month before the election it is important to see how things are progressing, and if any decisions have been made by Putin, and his campaign committee.  As I noted before, Vyacheslav Volodin is leading the campaign this time around.  There are, however, still competing ideas for a strategy to win.

On the one hand, there is a group that is advocating a second round win.  Remember, in this scenario, Putin gets between 45-50% of the vote. High enough to look good compared to Zyuganov’s second place 11%, but low enough that a second round is required.  Promoted by Stanislav Belkovsky, the group is arguing that a “clean” second round would lend legitimacy to Putin’s next administration.  While this is most likely true, and would be the smartest way to go, it does not appear that Volodin is willing to go this route.

Moskovsky Komsomolets is reporting that a message has been sent to the regions that certain results are expected.  This is what happened in the Duma elections last fall, where the governors were told that a certain threshold was required percentage-wise.  We all saw what has happened to those governors who failed to meet that standard: they were fired (e.g. Volgograd, Arkhangelsk, and Vologda).

Nevertheless, the numbers posted last week by FOM, & Levada make it seem like a second round is practically inevitable.  Levada conducted an “open survey”, and did not give the respondents a list to choose from.  Only 37% of those polled said that they would vote for Putin if the election were held on Sunday.  FOM questioned 3000 potential voters, and got a result of 45%.  Both of these numbers, if accurate, would automatically mean a second round of voting. However, VTsIOM came up with a much higher number of 52% for Putin.

While the statistics of these organisations have been called into question, the numbers themselves do not really matter. The way in which they are reported, however, do.  This campaign is all about perceptions.  Putin understands this important fact.  This is why we are not seeing him as much, and why he is meeting with small groups of university students, and judo pupils, rather than large groups (as seen in this video from Sky News).

As far as the articles that Putin has been publishing laying out his alleged agenda for his next term, I am not sure that they have much value as a campaign strategy.  They appear to be more valuable as a starting point for dialogue within society about such subjects.  This may be the best thing Putin will do for society this year.

Note: I would highly recommend viewing Amanda Walker’s Sky News piece (not only for the gem clip of Putin speaking English).

Written by Nina Jobe

January 29, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Churov & Election 2012

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The head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission Vladimir Churov came out to talk to Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) on Thursday.  He once again defended his role as Commissioner by claiming very little fraud occurred in the December Duma elections.

Churov also repeated his claim that they are preparing to install transparent ballot boxes in 30,000 polling stations across Russia for the March Presidential Elections.  This is only about 1/3 of all polling stations.  The Commission is also working on setting up webcams in “nearly all polling stations”, though Churov gave no indication of what “nearly all” actually equals to as a concrete number.

While Ekho Moskvy, and its audience, got nothing really new from the interview, it was interesting to witness the effort that the Kremlin is making to explain themselves.  Ekho Moskvy appeals to a very specific audience, the educated, liberal, middle class.  Many of its listeners are the same people who attended the mass meetings on Bolotnaya, and Sakharova in December.

But what does Churov’s interview mean for the coming Presidential election?  I am still not convinced that the Kremlin has decided on a strategy, but I have some ideas.

According to the most recent poll from VTsIOM, if the election had been held on 25 December 2011, Vladimir Putin would have gotten 45% of the vote.  Even though Putin’s next closest rival, Communist Party Leader Gennady Zyuganov, received only 10% of the vote, Putin would still be 6 percentage points under the required amount to prevent a run-off.

At this point, Putin, and his campaign team, have a few options.  They can stick with their current strategy, campaign mildly, and get the approximate amount the VTsIOM poll shows (give or take a couple points).  They would then be forced into a run-off with Zyuganov, where Putin would probably win in a landslide.

Another option would be to take a small win in the first round.  This would be something over 51%, but under 60%.  However, this is risky because of the amount of perceived fraud that took place in the Parliamentary elections last month.  A small win could be within an arguable margin of error, and lead to more protests.

The last option would be to take a large win in the first round (say 65%, for a round number).  This is also a risk because the larger win could be indicative of massive fraud, and could also force more protests.

As far as I can tell, these are the choices that are open.  Do you have other ideas?  What would you choose?

Written by Nina Jobe

January 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM

United Russia’s Prospects for the 2011 Duma Election

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Even Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to NATO apologized for the poor timing of the announcement.  While Rogozin’s Twitter comment may have been a joke, Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement yesterday was not.  Looking nervously at the camera, the President of Russia stated that he was instructing the military to ramp up, and prepare for a missile defense shield in Europe.  Speaking slowly and clearly, Medvedev also threatened to place Iskanders in Kaliningrad.

This was the second time in as many days that Medvedev had come out with a big defense announcement.  On Monday, at a meeting in Vladikavkaz, the President had claimed that the 2008 war in Georgia had been carried out in an attempt to prevent Georgian ascension to NATO.  While the threats and posturing are nothing new, the timing did seem a bit suspicious.  The elections for the State Duma are in 10 days, and the Russian President is leading the party lists for United Russia, the majority party.

For the leading party, United Russia, the numbers do not look promising.  In the last few weeks there have been several leaks about how badly United Russia is doing in the polls. Levada Center, the leading polling organization in Russia, revealed the results of its most recent poll.  Levada takes this poll on a monthly basis, and always asks the same question: “If the election for the Russian State Duma was held next Sunday, would you vote in them, and which party would you vote for?”

Levada’s most recent results revealed that United Russia’s numbers are falling, with just 51% of their respondents answering that they would vote for United Russia.  In the same poll, the Communists would get 20% of the vote.  Sergei Mironov’s party would get only 7%, and LDPR (Zhirinovsky’s party) would receive 14%.

Compare this to the other polling organizations in Russia, VTsIOM, and FOM.  VTsIOM’s most recent poll only gives United Russia 40%, and FOM gives United Russia 39%.  Both organizations give the Communists 13%.

To give you an idea of how bad this is, United Russia currently holds 64.3% of the seats in the State Duma.  The authorities are patently worried.  In early November the President’s office leaked their own internal poll numbers.  These numbers were closer to VTsIOM’s numbers.  The leak appeared to be deliberate.  A portrayal of weakness from people who do not normally like to appear weak.

So the numbers are bad, and different regions have sought to make up those numbers using “administrative resources”.  This has, so far, included pressuring the clergy to urge their congregants to vote for United Russia, publishing posters with the same background as the Election Commission’s posters, and hanging up posters in public schools.

Stories have also leaked that governors’ jobs are on the line, if they fail to produce a certain result. In Novgorod, recent poll numbers placed United Russia at 40%, but fail to take into account regions like Chechnya where Ramzan Kadyrov has promised to deliver “110% of the vote”.  While most people have treated Kadyrov’s oath as a joke, in the 2007 election, Chechnya did deliver over 90% of the vote to United Russia.

Utilizing so-called “administrative resources”, and with help from Governors anxious to keep their jobs, United Russia could still potentially receive 60% of the seats in the next parliamentary session.  While this is not a Constitutional majority, it would enable the ruling party, and Vladimir Putin to claim a mandate.  A necessity if they intend to follow through on their “modernization” platform.  And, perhaps more importantly, a necessity for Putin to shore up support for the Presidential elections scheduled in March.

Written by Nina Jobe

November 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Marina Litvinovich

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has created a website called Election 2012.  On it she looks at members of the Russian Government, their ties to one another, their ties to big business/oligarchs, their past associations with the business community, etc.  It’s all very interesting, and I am hoping that it will aid my own research, and serve to make this blog better.

Happy reading.

Kudrin vs Sechin

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There has been a story floating in and out of Russian politics for a while regarding former Finance Minister and Deputy PM Alexei Kudrin.  It went like this: Kudrin was the leader of the economic liberals, and a counter-balance to Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, and his clan, the siloviki.

And, the narrative continued, Alexei Kudrin was the only person preventing the siloviki from dipping into the pot of money called the Stabilization Fund (a kind of rainy-day investment portfolio created for when oil prices dropped). The siloviki, the rumour mill alleged, wanted to use the money to improve infrastructure.  Finance Minister Kudrin, however, wanted to keep that money safe for its intended use: riding out any future financial crisis.

After Kudrin’s dramatic exit on Monday (video here; and English transcript here), I’ve started to wonder if the story was all fake: something that Kudrin made up and then leaked in order to make himself seem more powerful in the eyes of the West.

We may never know, but it will be interesting to see if Putin ends up authorising any withdraws from the Fund in the coming months.

P.S. I do have some reactions to the decision of the Tandem to swap, but after poring over so many others’ reactions, I may just end up doing a summary.


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After Poltavchenko’s move to Petersburg this week, and with rumours of another reshuffle taking place soon (either before or after the elections), the thought occurred to me: what if every time you reshuffle, your group gets weaker?  It doesn’t matter how small the reshuffle is.  Even if you only lose one person, you still have to move three people (or more) to make it all work.  For example, they lost Mironov.  And to replace him, they had to lose Matviyenko, who was then replaced by Poltavchenko, who will be replaced by… and it keeps going.  But every time you do that, you lose trust.  Trust that has to be rebuilt.  And that takes time.  If you reshuffle on a regular basis, the trust never really gets rebuilt to its previous point, because there isn’t enough time to rebuild it.  So that every time you reshuffle, your group becomes less cohesive, and therefore weaker.

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Written by Nina Jobe

August 30, 2011 at 7:31 PM