RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 870K; total deaths 14,606; tests per 1 million 203K. Russia has done 29.7 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it's second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. The Health Minister says mass vaccinations will begin by October. Has Russia really won the vaccine race? this researcher believes so and gives his explanation.
KHABAROVSK. Protests continue (video of Sunday's). A lot of things going on: Furgal was popular, his replacement, while from the LDPR, is unknown in the area, Khabarovsk feels ignored (Moscow is only 700kms closer than Vancouver), outside activists coming in, corruption. Moscow has handled it badly.
RUSSIA INC. Despite the usual predictions from the usual sources, Russia Inc is healthy: big FOREX kitty; low debts. And, furthermore, it's about the closest thing to an autarky that exists today. Entertaining argument that it can only get better in the rest of the year. It's just been suggested that there may be even more money available in a couple of oil and gas companies.
CHURCH. Some of the Church's officials live very well indeed. An Abbess was requested to sell her Mercedes. This is drawing some attention. The Patriarch says such speculations "are designed to prevent the spread of God’s word". Which is not an entirely satisfactory response. In the Yeltsin days the ROC was given a piece of the action of certain imports (tobacco for one) so as to fund itself. That seems to have stopped and revenue today comes from the state, sale of articles for church use and some business entities. Scandals come up from time to time and are forgotten as this one probably will be too. The wealth of religious organisations is not, of course, just an issue with the ROC.
FOREIGN CONNECTIONS. A Constitutional amendment prohibits certain officials from having foreign
citizenship or residency permits. A KPRF Deputy says 39 Deputies from the pedestal party have; the Speaker has promised to look into it. Some one else has published a list of officials with a second passport. Quite a few; something to watch: presumably they formally renounce these things or are fired.
MOON. The Roscosmos head says that Russia and China are likely to build a Moon research base. Another sign neither sees Washington as reliable. I note Beijing is becoming blunter: a "bully" "undermining international law and order" "reckless provocation" "conspiracy theories".
BEIRUT DISASTER. First Russian aid arrived yesterday, more coming today.
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Source of The Dossier finally revealed – unimpressive, to put it mildly. Interesting link with Fiona Hill and Brookings. Even the CIA thought it was junk but the FBI insisted. Comey "went rogue". (Are we ever going to get to the arrest and handcuff phase of this so that even WaPo and NYT readers can learn what happened?)
BELARUS. Pretty mystifying. The Russians-sent-to-destabilise story is absurd (vide.) I know that Lukashenka has been playing Russia and the West, I see signs of a "colour revolution" (colours. Slogans). I've heard that the arrested Russians were on their way to be security guards for a facility in Libya. Now Lukashenka says US citizens have been arrested and that Putin's his "elder brother". It's smelling to me like a Western regime change operation that hasn't been very well prepared. I would expect Lukashenka to prevail and suggest he check his immediate entourage.
GERMANY-USA. Little by little the split grows. Some recent German polls show good support for American troop reduction. And good support for reducing dependence on the USA and improving relations with Russia.
FREUDIAN SLIP. "So we can all deter Russia and avoid peace in Europe".
PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Sloppy, sloppy: the latest UK Russian hacker story debunks itself: documents reported in UK media two days before "Russian hackers" "hacked" them!
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer