Decent dissent within Putins Russia

If your Putin you try not to worry about the power of your opposition from within your own country you can always criminalising any that oppose your point of view and threaten all that oppose you with a 15-year jail sentence. The west finally has a cause worth uniting and fighting for whilst Russia on the other hand looks to legislate, dictate and indoctrinate those that are forced to watch and listen to why it thinks the invades of Ukraine is wrong.

While the west will not put boots on the ground or planes in the sky over Ukraine, Putin claims his war is not even a war and his occupation and bombing of civilians is not even taking place. One super power says it cannot commit, whilst another claims’ it has not committed to a war in Ukraine and the atrocities it clearly repeatedly does for Putin are not actually happening.     

Thousands of people have been arrested in cities across Russia for protesting at the bloodshed in Ukraine. New laws have forced the BBC, CNN and other media organisations to suspend their reporting from the country. They are not allowed to describe Russia’s assault on Ukraine as an invasion.

In a Russia, the truth of the war on Ukraine is available. The risk comes in sharing it. Putin’s Russia has brought a new intensity to its crackdown on independent news.

As mentioned it is now a crime — punishable by up to 15 years in prison — to publish “fake” information about the all-out attack on Ukraine. The government has blocked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and news websites aimed at Russians, such as Latvia-based Meduza. It is a crime for the average citizen to publicly post information that contradicts the government line.

In a meeting on March 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of a “necessary self-purification” and called on Russians to cast out any dissenting voice. 

“The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a bug that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said. 

Natasha Rastova, a former Russian journalist and author of two histories of Russian journalism, said the restrictions on free speech marked a turning point, even by Russian standards. 

“In a matter of days, Putin went from being the leader of an authoritarian state to becoming a full-scale dictator,” Rastova said.

Despite the new restrictions, Russians can still access news from outside. The risk comes in sharing it.

Russians who want outside news have to be adaptable. Facebook is banned, but with software called virtual private networks, users can circumvent restrictions. 

That said, special apps are not essential. Broadly, the internet still operates. Connection speeds might be slower after a leading internet service provider dropped its service, but Russians can read articles from the BBC, CBS News and other news organizations. They can watch videos on YouTube.

“Despite all the efforts of the Russian authorities to clean up the information space, alternative sources of information still exist in Russia,” said Viktor Muchnik, who ran the independent news website TV2 in Tomsk, Siberia, with his wife Viktoria.

We reached Muchnik in Armenia, where he fled after the government shut down TV2 on March 7.

Many younger Russians use the encrypted messaging app Telegram to follow Russian-speaking reporters they trust. They can see reports, photos and videos within the app, or open links they find there.

Russians know they might be stopped by police who demand to see their phones.

“In the event that someone is stopped and searched, even just having those apps on one’s phone could be risky,” said Paul Goode, the McMillan Chair of Russian Studies at Carleton University in Canada. 

Russians risk severe penalties if they are caught sharing banned information.

“Russians can be fined and prosecuted for facilitating the dissemination of ‘fake news’, discrediting Russia’s army, and supporting international sanctions on Russia,” Goode said. “This includes posts and re-posts made on social media, including even posts made by other people on one’s discussion thread.”

While younger Russians get their news from the internet, older Russians watch television.

“A lot of people still watch television, which is completely controlled by the state,” said  Anton Shirikov, researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “These people tend to be older, from smaller towns or villages.”

Television delivers the government’s message. When Putin made false claims about the people of Donbas facing genocide at the hands of the Ukrainians; of the U.S.-backing bioweapons labs in Ukraine; and of Russia having “no other option for self defense,” that is what Russian television reported. 

The massive bombing of Ukrainian cities and civilian deaths are minimized.

When younger Russians show their parents videos of missiles hitting apartment blocks in Ukraine, they face denial. Michnik said it goes against the message their parents have been hearing virtually every day for eight years, since Russia annexed Crimea.

Jonathan Becker, a political scientist at Bard College, shared a message he got from a friend inside Russia. The friend’s wife installed Telegram on her mother’s phone. The mother is a Putin supporter.

“She still thinks that all the videos she watches are Ukrainians bombing themselves,” the email said. “What can one say?”

The Russians we contacted all said that these intergenerational splits are common. 

They and other observers also raised the concern that international efforts to pressure Russia economically could undermine access to outside news. When Visa and Mastercard stopped processing credit cards in Russia, that affected some internet users.

“It is increasingly difficult for Russians to pay for foreign services like virtual private networks, so it’s conceivable that this escape hatch could be closed off eventually by the impact of international sanctions,” said Goode.

There is also the fear that some of YouTube’s restrictions on advertising revenues inside Russia could make it harder for independent journalists to finance their work.

Russian journalist Mikhail Fishman was an anchor for the independent station TV Rain until he left Russia on March 3. He said unintended ripple effects could become even more important as Russians begin to feel the sting of economic sanctions.

“The more impact the sanctions have, the more will be the demand for alternative sources of information,” Fishman said.

21st Century War

To look into the global suffering of the world would be a very dark place to try and gain any insight from or find any truths concerning what had led to wars and what are the long term consequences for us all.

Truths are often taught or indoctrinated from the winners and learned by those who are left behind, concerning global events and across world history. I have been looking at a variety of sources in order to attempt to gain an insight concerning what was going on in the world prior to the invasion of Ukraine from a perspective of wars of the 21st century. There do appear to be parallels between the western war on terror post 9/11 with oil and gas grabs and Putin’s allegation of his needs to invade Ukraine.

Many people seem to state these days that care equally about the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq as they do about the people of Ukraine but the international community and our media outlets do not care so much for the people of Palestine as it does for the people of Ukraine. Though I don’t think the bombing and murdering of one nation over the bombing and murdering of another nation is a competition and when one power occupies another or attempts to do so we should see one occupier as less wrong or of less importance than another. Two wrongs do not find a right.

I have also been reading articles on the natural resourses wealth of Ukraine and why these are strategic recourses that Putin desires and ones he thinks will provide him with tactical advantages in the future. The invasion of Ukraine and the plan to undertake such an invasion was not the first act of war in the 21st century.

Unfortunately the US and UK are not innocent in these land grab incidents, or oil and gas grabbing and occupying incidents, which appear to have emboldened Putin into thinking I could do something similar to that and have potentially got us into the mess where we collectively all are today.

Sadly the world’s economies are hugely addicted to oil and gas that is pumped out of the planet and our thirst for these resources that we need like a vampire nation feeding on the blood of oil and gas in order to sustain our modern form of existence means that we we have the potential to purchase oil from any regime at any cost to our society and biosphere. Like a junkie that does not know it has a problem or has an inability to reflect or count the cost of its addiction or know when or even if it can stop we continue to inject oil into the veins of our global mechanical, industrial economies. We claim that by doing so we sustain life and the economy, whilst in reality putting it all at risk.

Although ultimately Putin might see the actions and historic shaping of the globe as some of his reasons and justifications to invade Ukraine but only he is the one that acts on his impulse to inflict the horror of war on the Ukrainian people.

When the US and UK invaded Iraq it was seen as regime change and though the initial conflict was won swiftly the long-term war and casualties inflicted on the country if Iraq cost many lives. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. But the terrorist attacks in the United States changed forever the lives of Iraqis.

In their aftermath, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, swiftly deposing the Taliban regime that had been sheltering Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida terror network blamed for the attacks. Only some 20 years later to leave Afghanistan knowing it could not successfully occupy the land allowing the Taliban to retake power there.

President George W. Bush identified Iraq along with Iran and North Korea, as part of an “axis of evil” and asserting that its brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, was armed with weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al-Qaida. No evidence of either of it ascertains were ever found and no trials have ever taken place concerning crimes against humanity for the actions and consequences of the war in Iraq. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has spurred a decades of war, which has had consequences that reverberate across the region and the world to this day.

6 Step Disinformation Guide

Don’t Get Swept Away by Falsehoods about War in Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine opened the floodgates to disinformation. Follow our 6 step guide to protect yourself and avoid being swept away by untrustworthy news stories.

by Eleanor Brooks –  https://www.liberties.eu/en/stories/disinformation-guide/44093

Disinformation is playing an outsized role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and there is mounting evidence that Russians are being deliberately misled by their government and state-controlled media outlets.

Disinformation poses a major threat to democractic societies in peacetime as well. Conflicting versions of events muddies the water, which makes it difficult for people to know the truth about what is happening. Without an accurate picture, it is harder for citizens to speak out and make their voices heard about issues which matter to them. Disinformation can also distort public debate, threatening free and fair elections.

What is disinformation?

Disinformation is false information that is shared with the intention of misleading people. The sharer of the “news” knows that it is false and intends to deceive their audience. Unlike misinformation (misleading, inaccurate or completely false information that is shared without the person knowing it is incorrect), the sharing of disinformation isn’t done in good faith. Rather, it is a deliberate intention to create division and stir up fear by knowingly spreading content that is incorrect.

6-Step Disinformation Guide

Conspiracy theories have become more sophisticated as of late, so in order to be alert to disinformation it is essential that you adopt a critical mindset to all the online content you consume. Before sharing anything, take a pause and go through this checklist.

1. Know your author

As a first step you should consider, who is the author?

Is the author regarded as credible? Is this person simply stating their opinion or sharing anecdotal evidence? You should be extra cautious about information circulated on social media, messaging apps and messaging boards.

Just because someone has a high follower count or a verified account on social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean their content is trustworthy. You should be particularly wary of accounts that have recently joined the platform.

2. Know your outlet

On which platform or outlet did you find the information? Consider the trustworthiness of the outlet you are using and verify the information against other sources.

3. Verify the evidence

Is the claim supported by reliable evidence? Look closely at the evidence that is offered – do the details match the current story e.g. location, weather, setting? Watch out for repurposed content from an older news article or an entirely different event.

4. Crosscheck images and videos

If you have a hunch that the evidence provided is dodgy, listen to your instinct. There are plenty of tools and strategies available to verify whether an image or video is legitimate.

·Check to see if an image has been photoshopped: by checking an image’s metadata you can see if it has been doctored. Use EXIF tools on your smartphone such as the app ExifWizard

·Reverse image search – take a screenshot and search for the image using Google’s reverse image tool, or other similar tools such as Tineye.com or the Google extensionRevEye

· Use an Amnesty International tool which verifies YouTube videos

5. Check your facts!

If a story seems fishy to you, there are plenty of trustworthy fact-checking websites who debunk conspiracy theories and misinformation.

·Snopes

·FactCheck.org

·Bellingcat

·Google Fact Check Tools: lists recent fact-checks by various online publications

6. Report it!

If you spot a fake story online, report it to the platform and send it to a fact-checking website. If one of your friends posted the story – send them this guide!

If you read something on social media, check to see if the same story is also published by larger, well-established news outlets. If you read a story in a politically extreme outlet, are other news outlets running the same story?

Emili Sande – Read All About It Pt. III

Putin’s mass rally

Putins mass rally for his one man war, where truth becomes a lie and lies become truth. How ironic that he claims to be anti nationalist and fascist when his actions show his true self. Truth in Russia is no longer a form of communication sanctioned by the state. Putin at first enslaves the truth and information in his occupation and invasion of Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine continues, Putin addressed tens of thousand of Russians filling Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, to celebrate eight years since the annexation of Crimea, oh boy what a party.

Putin has regularly used the anniversary to highlight love of the motherland.

Officials said more than 200,000 people had gathered at the stadium, although the numbers could not be verified. The stadium’s official capacity is 81,000, but there were also large crowds outside.

Many people at the rally told the BBC they worked in the public sector and had been pressured into attending by their employers.

One man who works in the Moscow metro said he and other employees had been forced to attend the rally.

“We know what we have to do next,” the Russian president told the crowd. “We’ll definitely carry out all the plans we have made.”

But his address on state TV suddenly cut to singer Oleg Gazmanov belting out the words “Forward, Russia”, in what the Kremlin later called a technical glitch.

In Ukraine itself, the plight of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol was the focus of renewed concern.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said 130 survivors had so far been recovered from the basement of a theatre in the city, but hundreds more remained trapped,

Civilians were sheltering underground when the theatre was bombed by Russia on Wednesday.

The city council said that so far, rescue workers had found one severely injured person, but there were no reports of deaths.

Mr Zelensky said Russian shelling prevented the city authorities from establishing effective humanitarian corridors to the besieged city.

Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, confirmed Russian reports that fighting had reached the centre of the city.

“There’s no city centre left. There isn’t a small piece of land in the city that doesn’t have signs of war,” he told the BBC.

Overall, however, military analysts say the Russian invaders have made little progress in the past week.

DAvid Rovics – How Far is it from here to Nuremberg

What happened at the Nuremberg rally?

The Nazi Party Rallies, held annually from 1933 to 1938 at a specially designed site in Nuremberg, were carefully planned propaganda events. Marching contingents, parades, memorial events for the dead, and displays by the armed forces were intended to demonstrate strength and communal spirit.

The existential threat of modern warfare

The Courage of the people of Ukraine is unquantifiable, Putin has threatened and acts like he is trying to bomb and shell the people of Ukraine out of existence and yet still they fight on. The west though offering shelter for any that can get out to a foreigner land in a strangers home or arms Ukrainians with guns on the street, is not able to stand side by side with Ukraine and offer cover from the sky.

We create sanctions against Russia and though the people of Russia will suffer it will not stop Putin from eating what he wants and firing bullets and bombs where he wants, so in some way they seem not an effective method of shielding the Ukrainian people from Putin’s wrath.

The Untouchables (1987)

People argue that Putin wants NATO to join his war, I disagree he thinks he is untouchable and no laws apply to what he does or say. NATO has a considerable fear of engaging in world war 3 unnecessarily. Though what we don’t know yet is if Putin has already chosen to begin world war 3 and we are still watching from the sidelines, while the people of Ukraine fight and die for the benefit of the wider world.

I feel like for the first time in my life I am no longer a dove or a man or peace. But would respect and support the defence of the people of Ukraine. But wiser minds in power are fully aware that that could escalate to a full scale nuclear war if Putin wanted such a war to occur.

Putin engages in war and wishes to confront and deafeat the west democracy and free peoples of the earth, for a war he fights that he believes was originally waged by the west against him and the USSR. The collapse of the USSR was a result of a system that imploded upon itsself it was not destroyed or conquered from the outside, though try telling Putin that.  

He blames the west and NATO for the collapse of the Soviet union and with great fury and vengeance he wishes to turn the tables on the west and NATO and beat it in a war and at a game that has never actually been plaid out or lost or won. Like a gangster he hits first and doesn’t even ask questions later on. Might and fight is right for him.

I can’t bare the concept of living in a world occupied by his forces or run by him and yet his desire and will to dominate others has no limits. So with a finger on the red button of nuclear war and obliteration for us and him he truly is a dangerous man whom Ukraine stands up against and is bombed by.

Putin’s darkness does not come from his will to dominate others but from the weapons and arms of a so called modern military nation that has a great deal of capacity and capability to destroy this world many times over.

Hundreds and thousands of years ago a man of war had to fight and enslave people on one field in one battle at a time, Putin is no greater danger of a man than tyrants and villains of the past. The only difference between past and present tyrants is the perfection and evolution of destructive warfare that makes him an existential threat to humanity.

When genocide has been committed against people in the past it was never done with such precision as it can be done today, or on such a scale. This is a curse of modern warfare and mans capacity to invent ever greater weapons of death and mass destruction and is not a result of Putin being any greater or more competent in his capacity for evil than those that came before him or may rise up against humanity in the future. He is just one very bad man with a modern arsenal of global destruction at his command.

Villagers – Little Bigot

To be hopeful in dark times

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage & kindness – Howard Zinn

MILAN, ITALY – FEBRUARY 26: Protesters take to the streets of Milan to protest against the Russian invasion of the Ukraine at the “Milano Contro La Guerra” (Milan Against War) anti-war protest on February 26, 2022 in Milan, Italy. The protesters are asking to stop the war in Ukraine and the Russian invasion. (Photo by Ming Yeung/Getty Images)
Snow Patrol – Run

God bless Ukraine

Bob Marley & The Wallers – Redempion Song

I have heard a number of people argue that Putin cannot lose or has already won and although he might occupy some land and take many lives, but he has also lost morally, economically and spiritually due to his choice of action and the consequences thereof.  

The concept of what happens if he wins or how he makes a form of winning happen are quite dark and what he does will contiune to be witnessed and broadcast so long as there is working camera on the ground from either citizen’s phones or major news outlets.

The options to Putin’s victory are quite dark but those for his defeat or withdrawl from Ukraine are all still options on the table and include but are not exclusive to the following for Ukraine and ergo humanity.

  1. There is a nuclear accident or deliberate assault on a nuclear facility in Ukraine that leads to a ceasefire.
  2. The Russian army puts down its weapons against its Slavic brothers.
  3. Putin dies of natural causes or is assassinated.
  4. There is regime change in Russia and Putin is held to account for war crimes along with those that supported said crimes.
  5. An ongoing war with much bloodshed and TV coverage that has no winner and exhaustes Russian resources.
  6. Russia does not use its nuclear arsenal.
  7. NATO escalates its commitment to Ukraine and a conventional war is undertaken which Putin loses.
  8. Any other combination of possibilities 1-7.

These are just a selection of what could happen. No one knows what will happen yet, but I hope we still exist when this madness has ended and that includes Ukraine and its people and homes too.

To assume Putin must win or has already won is short sighted and I pray and hope he will not, this one of the most critical prayers I and the world has ever pray for and although I do not know Gods will or vision for the future, I pray it includes living sentient beings.

China attempts to ride two horses while life on earth walks along a tightrope

China has an authoritarian cloak that casts a shadow over the world over the issue of Ukraine and its relationship with Russia.

Russia and China are strategic allies and partners although China has not endorsed openly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine it also struggles to call or show the military situation as a war and certainly does not broadcast the atrocities being committed in Ukraine on state media. My gut feeling is that China feels behind the scenes that it could potentially benefit from a war between the West and Russia with which if it does not choose sides upon and by not competing in it ends to benefit therefore from the outcome of the conflict situation stronger than those that entered into conflict.

Even worse for the global none authoritarian and pro democratic nations if it believes that NATO goes too far in its defence of Ukrainian citizens it could have the potentially side with Russia. An escalation to a nuclear reactor incident or accident in Ukraine or a nuclear conflict in Europe alone let alone a wider nuclear conflict could destroy the ozone layer of the earth an d risk all life on earth as we know it, let alone result in a potential nuclear winter from the nuclear fallout in the sky destroying crops and life across the globe or where the situation occurs.

It is only last year that China showed its distain for the will of citizens and democracy in Hong Kong. It should also not be forgotten that China has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against the Uyghur population and other mostly-Muslim ethnic groups in the north-western region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups believe China has detained more than one million Uyghurs against their will over the past few years in a large network of what the state calls “re-education camps”, and sentenced hundreds of thousands to prison terms.

The truth of the matter on how China operates within its own country and what it thinks of others and what rights others have is masked or casts a shadow on the world. They are not open and transparent about their own agenda and what their ultimate goal for their own citizens or others is.

China says officially that it respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and Russia’s security concerns – hence it is trying to ride to horses which means – to do (or attempt to do) two or more things simultaneously, often when those things conflict or are at odds with one another.

So what is at stake if something goes wrong well very much life as we or anyone else knows it hence life is walks/treads a tightrope, where we have to deal with difficult situations, especially one involving making decisions between two opposing plans of action. The present is unfolding before our eyes and the future is not written or yet to take place. The fact that we are still here is a cause of optimism and hope although the decisions that are to be made in the next few hours, days months and years will be difficult ones.  

Watership Down is the tale of a group of rabbits in search of a home. Fiver, a small, young rabbit, has a gift: He can tell when things are going to happen and he can sense whether they will be good or bad. Fiver foresees great danger to the rabbits’ home warren.

To Prep or not to Prep

Am I mad to consider prepping for a serious emergency or disaster or am I mad not to? It feels like thinking the unthinkable.

I have made some small changes to my life recently just in case there is nuclear situation that effects the Ukraine, Europe or the world, or a nuclear accident at a power plant in Ukraine which might risk people not being able to go outside their homes.

  1. I have empty water bottles in my kitchen stacked together that I could fill up quickly.
  2. I invested in a new pair of sturdy walking boots and thick pairs of walking socks in case I need to walk a long distance anywhere at any time for any reason.
  3. I have purchased a new first aid kit and first aid book as my old one was a number of years out of date.
  4. I have purchased a radio that can be recharged by a hand wind up and used in an emergency with no electricity. It also has a phone charger on it.
  5. I have a new windup torch again charges through a turning handle which does not need batteries or electricity.
  6. I have purchased a number of protein bars which I eat normally anyway but I have more than I would normally have just in case I am suddenly in need of food and shelter in my home.
  7. I am going to hopefully clean out an airing cupboard on the weekend too so that I could use it as a shelter if needed in an emergency.

This is stuff that I never thought I would have to do but I am fearful that we are potentially closer to  a nuclear catastrophe whether that be from a power plant accident in Ukraine or from the actual launching of rockets from Russia and it all feels so bloody unnecessary.

I feel guilty thinking and writing about this stuff. It’s easier to write down what I am up to on here than talk about this with others at the moment.  

Frank Turner – Be More Kind