RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 707K; total deaths 10843; tests per 1 million 151K. Russia has done 22 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. RT reports a survey finding that most Russian physicians are sceptical of the official numbers. Its counting rule is strict; a looser rule would create bigger numbers: I don't take any numbers very seriously. (Vide chaotic UK counting.)
CONSTITUTION. Passed comfortably. The ads I saw varied between happy families and – the one projected on the US Embassy facade – in 1993 we were yours and now we're ours. Sums up the main changes. As to the term reset many argue that it is designed to kill any succession in-fighting (or foreign fiddling): even if Putin quits after this term, he can still come back. I still see it as a cheap trick.
ESPIONAGE. Ivan Safronov was arrested on Tuesday and charged with espionage. The claim is that he passed information on weapons sales to the Middle East and Africa to Czech intelligence which then passed it the the USA. He denies the charges. He had worked for several newspapers covering space and defence and had been hired by RosKosmos in May. The authorities say they had been watching him for several years (from which we can deduce that the information passed on was probably false – the Russians are very very good at this). Meanwhile it has been officially denied that an exchange is been considered for Whelan (which, I guess, means that it either is or isn't).
MH17 TRIAL. Hops along to its pre-ordained conclusion: "'The relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987,' the judge claimed. 'In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Konashenkov] can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located'". So we're not going to look at the provenance of the conveniently discovered missile bits; wouldn't suit the guilty verdict. A farce.
DEJA POO. Let's make up a story that 1) keeps the Russia enemy theme going 2) can be used to harm Trump 3) will stymie negotiations to get out of Afghanistan and 4) fool the simple-minded. Should run for a week or two and then we'll come up with something else. Meanwhile, in the real world, survivors or families are suing US companies that paid protection money to Taliban.
WADA YA KNOW. Der Spiegel dares to question the US/Canadian Russia mass doping story.
MORE SANCTIONS. The UK has just revealed new sanctions against Russians (and others). Moscow says it will retaliate.
THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Shrinks or slammer. Once the West's darling. Do you think HRW will get excited about this "sinister reminder of the Soviet legacy of punitive psychiatry"?
AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Every time I think the insanity has reached the top, somebody shoves it up another notch, the "Lincoln Project" with this absurdity. But then that is surpassed by some Democrat politician: "Wakes up every morning, goes to be every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy." And these people are spectacularly ignorant: Russia is bulging with new infrastructure; even the Moscow Times reports it. Americans get in a tizzy over their enemy du jour but when they kill him (Qaddafi, Hussein) or jail him (Milosevic) they calm down. How much more frenzied can they get?
NEW NWO. Interesting poll about COVID: about half the Europeans polled thought the EU had been irrelevant; 60% said they thought less of the US than before. The pollster concluded that "Europeans have lost faith in the United States in its power and competence to lead the world".
BIO-LABORATORY. In Tbilisi. What's the story? Russian Foreign Ministry expresses concern. Russian disinformation. Perfectly OK says Washington. Sinister purposes say other Americans. Even creepier says investigative reporter. I don't know, but if the purposes are benign, why can't they be done at home? Fauci-funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan?? USAF admits to collecting Russian genetic material?? Some serious questions here, I think. Certainly one could understand Moscow and Beijing taking a mistrustful view.
EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Nordstream advances. Washington contemplates sanctions, Berlin, committed to it, bites back. Merkel says Europe has to prepare for a future in which USA not a world power. Schroeder says the sanctions would mark the "definite termination of the Transatlantic partnership". Copenhagen gives approval for the final bits. An important defiance of Washington's diktat.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer