23 October 2018
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The opinions expressed by the authors of the articles in this section are for discussion purposes only and may not coincide with the position of the Russian Government and the Embassy


The west's hypocrisy over Pussy Riot is breathtaking (Simon Jenkins)

Anyone in England and Wales with a dog out of control can now be jailed for six months. If the dog causes injury, the maximum term is to be two years. I have no sympathy for such people. Keeping these beasts is weird, and those who do it probably need treatment. But the Defra minister, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, complained in May that fewer than 20 people were in jail for dangerous dog offences. The sentencing council has duly told courts to raise the threshold to two years, "to send a message".

The same sentiment a year ago motivated magistrates to play to the gallery by jailing 1,292 people for stealing bottles of water or trainers or sending idiot incitements during the dispersed rampage dubbed "urban riots". Hysterical ministers raced home from holiday to tell judges to send messages. Judges duly ruined the lives of hundreds of young people, at great public expense and to no advantage to their victims. I have no sympathy for these people either, but again the politicised response to crime was disproportionate.

A month before, a London court jailed a stoned Charlie Gilmour after he swung on a union flag from the Cenotaph and tossed a bin at a police car, thus causing widespread outrage in the offices of the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. The judge sent him down for 18 months to send a message carefully designed to wreck his university career. Yet again we need have no sympathy for Gilmour. But there is no such thing as a rap over the knuckles in jail. Judges know that any term in prison is a sentence for life.

How can British politicians, whose statements clearly seek to influence pliable judges, criticise other sovereign states for doing likewise? Last week the Foreign Office professed itself "deeply concerned" at the fate of Russia's Pussy Riot three, jailed for two years for "hooliganism" in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. They had staged what, by all accounts, was an obscene publicity stunt, videoing an anti-Putin song defamatory of the Virgin Mary in front of pious worshippers.

Good for free speech, we might all say. That the act outraged public decency is an understatement. In a Levada poll of Russian public opinion, just 5% thought the girls should go unpunished and 65% wanted them in prison, 29% with hard labour. Artists round the globe may plead free speech, but to treat the Pussy Riot gesture as a glorious stand for artistic liberty is like praising Johnny Rotten, who did similar things, as the Voltaire of our day. There can be disproportionate apologias as well as disproportionate sentences.

Artists can look after their own. For the British and US governments to get on high horses about Russian sentencing is hypocrisy. America and Britain damned the "disproportionate" Pussy Riot terms. In America's case this was from a nation that jails drug offenders for 20, 30 or 40 years, holds terrorism "suspects" incommunicado indefinitely and imprisons for life even trivial "three strikes" offenders. Last week alone a US military court declared that reporting the Guantánamo Bay trial ofKhalid Sheikh Mohammed would be censored. Any mention of his torture in prison was banned as "reasonably expected to damage national security". This has no apparent connection to proportionate punishment or freedom of speech.

The British security establishment during the Tony Blair-Gordon Brown regime tried to censor history books for possible "terrorist" incitement. It introduced control orders, restricted courts and long-period detention without trial. It made unlicensed demonstrating an offence and has since sought prosecution of Twitter and Facebook abuse. British ministers and courts are craven to what passes for public opinion. The idea that, whenever a crime or antisocial action hits the headlines, "the courts must send a message" is politicised justice. At times, especially in tragic cases involving children, it gets near to a lynch mob. Again the only message sent is to the media. If Britain's draconian sentencing were effective, British jails would not be bursting at the seams.

There is of course a difference between the liberties enjoyed in most western democracies and the cruder jurisprudence of modern Russia, China and much of the Muslim world. It would be silly to pretend otherwise. But the difference is not so great as to merit the barrage of megaphone comment from west to east. Pussy Riot may have attacked no one physically, but no society, certainly not Britain, legislates on the basis that "words can never hurt". If a rock group invaded Westminster Abbey and gravely insulted a religious or ethnic minority before the high altar, we all know that ministers would howl for "exemplary punishment" and judges would oblige.

Commenting on the social mores of other countries may offer an offshore outlet for the righteous indignation of politicians and editorialists. It has no noticeable effect. Western comments on the treatment of women in Muslim states, dissidents in China or drug offenders in south-east Asia are dismissed as imperial interference. But then how would we feel if Moscow or Singapore or Tehran condemned the treatment of Cenotaph protesters?

British courts jail at the drop of a headline. One of the few cabinet ministers in recent years to show a sincere desire to relate punishment to crime and imprisonment to consequence is the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke. He is now being bad-mouthed out of his job by Downing Street's dark arts, frightened not of Clarke but of the rightwing press. Clarke is, with Iain Duncan Smith, a rare minister intellectually engaged with his job and eager courageously to see it through. Why are the Lib Dems not defending him? For David Cameron to sack Clarke would indeed send a message. Of the worst sort.

Information source: The Guardian



The current round phase of Russia’s pivot to the East was conceived in the second half of the 2000s as a largely belated economic response to the rise of Asia, which opened up a plethora of opportunities for the development of the country and primarily its eastern regions. This rise offered a chance to turn the territory beyond the Urals and the Russian Far East from predominantly an imperial burden or rear in the confrontation with the West, and sometimes the forefront in the rivalry with Japan or China, into a springboard for the development of the whole country.


Oleg Barabanov, Timofey Bordachev, Fyodor Lukyanov, Andrey Sushentsov, Dmitry Suslov, Ivan Timofeev, Moscow, February 2017

18.02.2017 - Global riot and global order. Revolutionary situation in the world and what to do about it - report by Valdai discussion club

(Report in Russian, English version to be published shortly) Спустя много лет после студенческих волнений, которые охватили практически весь мир в 1968 году, активист тогдашнего движения Даниэль Кон-Бендит так вспоминал суть происходившего: «Это было восстание поколения, родившегося после Второй мировой войны, против общества, которое военное поколение построило после 1945 года». Бунт проявлялся по-разному– в зависимости от места действия. В Варшаве и Праге люди протестовали против коммунистического режима, в Париже и Франкфурте клеймил и буржуазно-консервативное засилье, в Сан-Франциско и Нью-Йорке возмущались милитаризмом и неравноправием, а в Исламабаде и Стамбуле отвергали власть военных. Всех объединяло нежелание житьпо-старому.«Мы были первым медиапоколением. СМИ играли большую роль, потому что они передавали искру жгучего неприятия, и она воспламеняла одну страну за другой», – вспоминал Кон-Бендит.

03.02.2017 - Sergei Karaganov, Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, "A view from Moscow"

The victory of Donald Trump reinforced international tendencies, which had been obvious for Russians and which had been guiding Russian behavior for last few years. Among them – deglobalization led by forces, which previously created it, but started to retreat from it, when they saw that it benefits others equally or more. The change in correlation of forces against the old world and towards Asia will continue, though at somewhat slower pace than in previous decades. China will continue to become in the very foreseeable future an equal to the U.S. in cumulative power. Europe of the EU will continue to muddle down. (Hopefully, not towards a collapse, but something leaner, more stable and healthier like a Common market, Schengen minus, two Eurozones or a Eurozone minus). The rivalry between the U.S. and China will continue to exacerbate. The confrontation between Russia and the West will continue, but will gradually dampen.

20.08.2015 - The Interview: Henry Kissinger

The National Interest’s editor, Jacob Heilbrunn, spoke with Henry Kissinger in early July in New York.

10.08.2015 - "Shame on UK for Sham Litvinenko Trial", by William Dunkerley for "Eurasia review"

What started off as a massive fabrication in 2006 just received a great boost from a complicit British government. The mysterious polonium death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is the focus. An inexplicably long series of official UK hearings on this nearly 9 year old case has just concluded. That’s prompted a new flurry of sensational media reports.

02.06.2015 - Eurasian Way Out of the European Crisis (Article by Sergei Karaganov, to be published in late June in "Russian in Global Affairs")

I have already written before that having emerged victorious from the Cold War, Europe lost the post-war peace. The continent is on the verge of strategic degradation that may either become a caricature of military-political division into opposing blocs or a time of disquieting uncertainty. The military-political conflict over Ukraine can escalate as well.

13.03.2015 - NEW RULES OR NO RULES? XI Annual Valdai Discussion Club Meeting Participants' Report

In Search of an Order For those who believe in the magic of numbers, the year 2014 was further proof in its existence. The World War I centenary had been anticipated in awe and History, by taking another dramatic twist, confirmed the worst of expectations. It pronounced that centuries-old conflicts are still with us and that such concepts as the balance of powers, borders, and sovereignty are still relevant even in the era of a global interdependence.

15.09.2014 - Western delusions triggered this conflict and Russians will not yield (by Professor Sergey Karaganov for FT)

The west is without direction and losing sight of moral convictions, writes Sergey Karaganov

29.05.2014 - It’s not just about gas: why China needs Russia (by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy)

In a pre-election article published a little over two years ago, Vladimir Putin wrote that Russia wanted to harness the Chinese wind for its sails of development. Every sailor knows that in stormy weather, and the world is a stormy place today, controlling a sailing ship is incredibly difficult. But by working skilfully there is a chance of inching one's goal much faster.

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