J.T.’s note: I just realized how often it seems I change the format of these Reading on Russia Roundups. I started off paraphrasing the summary of the articles, then inserting a tiny bit of my own opinion into the summaries, then went back to summary alone, then started using boldface, summaries with figures from the articles and my interpretation. Inconsistencies are my consistency! And now I’m going to change the format again.
Russia vs. NATO. The National Interest‘s Ted Galen Carpenter argues that it’s very unwise for Western leaders to increase NATO presence on Russia’s borders without stopping to think how their actions will be received in Moscow.
The announcement that NATO would deploy four battalions of troops to the Baltic republics and Poland is merely the latest evidence that Western officials are utterly tone deaf about how their actions are going to be received in Moscow. The apparent assumption is that such a vigorous display of determination to protect the security of the Alliance’s vulnerable eastern members will cow the Kremlin and prevent any inclination to engage in coercive measures. Those officials seem oblivious to the notion that even reasonable Russians, much less the somewhat paranoid crowd gathered around President Vladimir Putin, might regard NATO’s moves as menacing to Russia’s core security interests.
Browder vs. “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes”. A new documentary blows apart the West’s Russia-bashing narrative about the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, so the response has been to stop the public from seeing the film while calling it Russian “agit-prop,” as Gilbert Doctorow explains.
Despite all the threats of lawsuits and physical intimidation which hedge fund executive William Browder brought to bear over the past couple of months to ensure that a remarkable investigative film about the so-called Magnitsky case would not be screened anywhere, it was shown privately in a museum of journalism in Washington, D.C., last week.
The failure of the intimidation may give heart to others. There is talk that the film may be shown publicly in Norway, where its production company is located, but where an attempt several weeks ago to enter it into a local festival for documentaries was rejected by the hosts for fear of lawsuits. Moreover, a Norwegian court has in the past week declined to hear the libel charges which Browder’s attorneys were seeking to bring against the film’s director and producers…
Patriotism in Russia. This VCIOM survey indicates that the level of patriotism in the country is high. More than half of Russians are ready to send their relatives to defend Russia in the case of war.
Чувство долга перед Отчизной в нашей стране очень сильно: 65% поддержали бы решение своих близких пойти на войну в случае необходимости (в т.ч. 49% посоветовали бы им отправиться прямо на линию фронта).
More on Orlando shooting. Apparently, on the same night that the shooting occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a shooting occurred at a gay club in Yekaterinburg. In Kater, nobody died even when the police refused to respond to the call. With a well-run police force with federal support in Orlando, 49 did.
Because the soccer hooligans who attacked were using air guns with rubber bullets.
Harry Leeds at the NYU Jordan Center writes a LGBT rights/plea for gun control/Russia piece here.
In the wake of Orlando, gun-control advocates are looking for parallels in other countries with stricter gun control laws. Russia is not exactly known for its tolerance of gays, and many Russians would probably consider America to be full of “tolerasts.” Yet within the very same day, two analogous events have occurred about what twenty angry men and what one angry man could do with the weapons available to them. Russia’s gun control laws made sure that the Yekaterinburg shooting wasn’t a Yekaterinburg massacre.
The road from 1996. Carnegie Center’s Andrei Kolesnikov writes about Russia’s failure of democracy, post-Yeltsin. Read [for eyerolls?]
The country now lives with strategic failure and a totally uncertain future. Does anyone—from the armchair politicians in provincial towns to the cynical “wise men” in their Moscow offices—know what will happen to Russia after 2018? The answer is a decisive “no.”
Russia’s net exports. Mark Adomanis examines recent Rosstat data that shows a decline in Russia’s net exports.
In 2015 it appeared that the country was adjusting to the “new normal” of cheap oil and a weak ruble with surprising quickness: the country was earning less from its exports and was therefore weaning itself off of imports. Imports actually fell more sharply than exports. In 2016 the picture looks rather different: Russia is earning even less from its exports, but it isn’t adjusting as quickly on the import side. If that continues for much longer, there will be problems.