Sunday, January 15, 2023


Portable Kamidana Jinja
An Inexpensive Fold-out Shinto Altar for Home or Away

The Portable Kamidana Jinja with a sample ofuda. The pictured ofuda is only a representation. An actual ofuda can only be purchased from a Shinto shrine.
The Portable Kamidana Jinja with a sample ofuda. The pictured ofuda is only a representation. An actual ofuda can only be purchased from a Shinto shrine. 
Originally posted on 6/19/19
Most readers of this blog know that a kamidana or "God Shelf" is a small, Shinto altar for the home, office, or place of work. Usually made of wood and attached to a wall near the ceiling it was once ubiquitous in Japan. However, these days, when most people live in apartments, where attaching anything to the wall is restricted, move frequently, or live away from home for long periods of time due to work requirements, the kamidana has all but disappeared. Still, many people frequent the local shrine, particularly at New Year's, and purchase ofuda for the home, then have no place to properly keep them. For people in these situations, as well as for foreign visitors with a keen interest in Shinto, the Portable Kamidana Jinja is an excellent solution. Please keep in mind that the kamidana is only a home alter and does not refer to any specific kami or jinja. In other words, it is not imbued with any spiritual power. Only an ofuda from a jinja can represent the spirit of any specific kami. The one pictured above is only a sample, not an actual ofuda.

Simply follow the easy instructions to unfold the kamidana, and set it up in on a shelf or cabinet. No tape or glue needed. Then place your ofuda in the position provided. Now you are set to offer a silent prayer to the kami and receive it's blessings. If you would like to send the Portable Kamidana Jinja as a gift, it slips conveniently into an A4 size envelope. You can also collapse the Kamidana and reset it any number of times. The Portable Kamidana Jinja costs 2,700 yen including 200 yen tax. (Shipping and paypal fee adds 450 yen for a total of 3,150 ). For further information or orders, contact me at

The Portable Kamidana makes an excellent gift as well. Made of heavy weight paper and beautifully printed, it presents a formal appearance appropriate to the task of supporting the ofuda. Once again, please keep in mind that the sample provided with the kamidana, is not an actual ofuda, and should not be displayed. Also note that some ofuda may be very long and not easily supported. The sample ofuda depicted here is 190mm tall but up to 250mm is fine. You can pay through paypal internationally or furikomi within Japan.

Instructions for setting up the Kamidana Jinja
 The Kamidana Jinja comes with a suzu and saisenbako. Remove the folded kamidana from the package and follow the set-up instructions printed on the back.
The kamidana with two Goshuinchou

The Kamidana Jinja with the saisenbako and suzu in place.


"Violence Is Part of Russian Mindset, Not Many Understand That". Interview with Russian-German Expert

Wednesday, 11 January 2023 — ,  Re-posted from European Pravda

Sergei Sumlienny is an unusual German expert. He was born and raised in Russia. He moved to Germany and became a citizen due to his German ancestry. He gave up his Russian passport.

He works in Berlin and heads the European Resilience Initiative Center.

Sergei unconditionally stands with Ukraine and admits that he does not belong to the mainstream of German experts who have not yet overcome their psychological bonds with Russia. He does not doubt that Germany will make a decision eventually and hand over tanks to Ukraine. 

The most complicated issue that the Germans have to overcome is that the murders, rapes, and other war crimes in Ukraine support the vast majority of Russians. We met in the EuroPravda studio in Kyiv, where Sumlienny stopped from Berlin to Izium, where he delivered humanitarian aid.

On Leopard tanks and what Germany is for Ukraine

Germany is definitely not Ukraine's enemy. However, it is questionable in what spheres it is a friend. It is interested in Ukraine's victory; in strong Ukraine, in Ukraine, which is a European state integrated into the EU and NATO.

The problem is that Germany needs to do more for this victory now. It does not understand what "bills" it will get because this war lasted 1.5-2 years, and not 3-4 months, as it could have with its sufficient assistance.

This is Germany's problem: loud statements and very slow action.

Olaf Scholz is not an anti-Ukrainian politician. He is not an enemy of Ukraine. But in some cases, not being an active friend is already wrong.

I'm sure they will hand over Leopard tanks. 

Germany will deliver them to Ukraine, but only following other states. For example, if the United States hands over tanks, Germany will wait two weeks and do the same. 

The real problem is not Scholz. The problem is that his coalition partners let him do this. They need more political experience and courage to stand up and say out loud that Scholz is making a mistake. 

What German politicians think about Russia's defeat in the war

German politicians are frightened by the thought of Russia's defeat in the war because they cannot comprehend it. "What will happen after?"

They cannot imagine Russia's defeat, let alone a defeat that will end up with Russia's collapse. Germans are scared even to think about it. So it is better not to think about it.

The opposite outcome, like "reconciliation" with Russia, is welcome by many.

First, they cannot imagine how the Ukrainian nation, which for many Germans "did not exist" until recently, wins a war against a nuclear state.

Secondly, they cannot realise that the crimes committed by the Russian military in Ukraine are actually part of the Russian political worldview. They do not realise how much Russians do support such actions.

On violence as a "religion" of Russians

It was easier for me to understand the actions of Russians in Ukraine because I was born in Russia and socialised there. I didn't doubt that Russia would attack Ukraine. I understood that destroying Ukraine is a fundamental value of Russian statehood.

In general, for a normal person, and even more so for a German, it is terrifying to understand who the Russians are as a political community.

Russian worldview is violence which is a top of values. Not wealth, not health, not fun, but violence itself is their basic value. 

The history of Russia "taught" Russians that power is useless, money is useless, life is useless. Today you are Stalin's People's Commissar, and tomorrow you are "in the basement." Today you are an oligarch, and tomorrow you drink polonium in your tea.

That is why the cult of war, disguised as the cult of victory, is so popular there. They honour Victory Day not because they saved their country. The idea of victory for the Russians is that "we destroyed everyone. Our tanks marched across Europe." Russians also have a cult of sexualised violence, including the "We Can Do It Again" car stickers, where two human figures are depicted in a position that apparently implies violence and rape. Victory for them is when you rape someone.

Likewise in the current war.

Ukrainians see victory when their country is saved, and there are no more threats. Russians see victory when they enter the city, burn everything, rape, and move on. Destroying something is even better for them than stealing. They demonstrate their power in such a way. "To steal" is not so relevant because today you have it, and tomorrow someone will steal it from you.

Moreover, very educated Russians fully share this concept of cannibalism - representatives of business, science, and culture integrated into the Western world. They see nothing wrong in destroying Mariupol or Kyiv, striking a nuclear attack on Ukraine, in those created in Russia filtration camps, in torture...

But the Germans do not see this. They cannot imagine that this is possible.

The Germans cannot believe it is about Russia's desire to physically destroy the Ukrainian nation and turn those who remain alive into Russians.

On Germany's attitude to Ukraine's EU membership

Ukraine can join the EU but a lot depends on how this war ends.

If the war ends as a "frozen conflict," when Russia still has ambitions for another offensive, then, most likely, Ukraine will not join the EU.

But if Ukraine wins this war, in this case, Ukraine's EU will be very interesting for the European Union itself because Ukraine is a large country, which is better to have inside the EU.

On the alleged collapse of Russia through the eyes of Germany

The Germans are absolutely not ready for Russia's collapse, although it is very real nowadays. It was the same situation when they were entirely unprepared for the USSR collapse.

Even the expert community is not ready to talk about it. They have admitted though, that Russia is an enemy and that it is impossible to negotiate with. But they are not ready to talk about Russia's defeat. Those who say that Putin will lose the war and Russia will fall apart are again marginalised and called radicals.

The German mainstream will understand the reality only when Russia starts falling apart.

There are several reasons for this attitude towards Russia.

First, Germany has a very romantic, fairy-tale image of Russia. They really believe that Russia is a "great country."

Secondly, the USSR was called "Russia" in Germany and it got its consequences. This lasted for decades and led to the Germans feeling guilt for WWII only for the Russians, and not for other peoples of the former Union. 

On the German experience of repentance for WWII crimes

Any comparison of modern crimes committed by Russia and Russians with the crimes of Nazi Germany (Holocaust, war of extermination in the East, etc.) is unacceptable to most Germans.

The German political responsibility for WWII crimes was based, among other things, on the idea of the Holocaust's uniqueness: they say that this crime is so terrible that it is one of a kind in world history.

It leads to a shameful consequence - some Germans have a certain pride, like, "we have committed the worst crime in the history of mankind, and we are best repenting for it." Many cling to this subconsciously. They want to keep this experience private from Russia.

If it turns out that we are no longer "champions in repentance," then what should we be proud of?

Unlike post-war Germany, Russia will not be either occupied or integrated into world structures or save its institutions.

Post-war reconstruction is not waiting for Russia. It will face disintegration and new identities. Russians will try to distance themselves from their historical guilt.

Even though Putin radicalised Russians similarly to Hitler in the 1930s, the outcome will be different. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

What Russia and Putin's power are built on 

NV interview with UK writer Peter Pomerantsev

September 8, 2022
What Russia and Putin's power are built on – NV interview with UK writer Peter Pomerantsev (Photo:Pako Mera/Alamy via Reuters)

  Peter Pomerantsev (Photo:Pako Mera/Alamy via Reuters)

Re-posted from New Voice of Ukraine,

A British writer and journalist reflects on the passivity of "good Russians", propaganda, and the world's perception of Zelenskyy and Ukraine

Peter Pomerantsev is a UK writer and journalist who researches modern media and who has for many years been analyzing propaganda –particularly Russian propaganda. In his 2014 book “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible,” he draws on his own experience as a TV documentary producer in Russia to describe a world of authoritarian rule, big money and all-powerful Russian television. The journalist also reflects on the way of thinking of modern Russia, which has a deeply split personality. According to Pomerantsev, whom NV met with in Kyiv, this became one of the reasons for the Russians' conformist perception of the war with Ukraine.

In the interview, he also talks about the role of information in a full-scale war, about the historical parallels between Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, the sadomasochism of Russian society, and the actions of the West, which is facing a difficult winter with energy supplies.

– How does Russian military propaganda in 2022 differ from Russian military propaganda in 2014?

Even though these are completely different operations – (in 2014) there was a bloody operation in Donbas, and now it is genocide – the Russians still won’t use the word "war."

Inside the country, they’re trying to create the feeling that this is happening somewhere far away, that these are all international affairs and you (Russians) have nothing to do with it. They’re still afraid of general mobilization. Despite the fact that so much has changed compared to 2014, a lot has remained the same – then, too, there was a lot of talk about the fact that it was the evil West that forced us to act, we were left with no choice. Now, despite the fact that the war is going on, people in Russia still don't want to talk about it.

– Why does Russia not call the war a war?

Hitler did the same. Until 1941, he hardly used the word "war" – it was all "operations" The “Operation in Poland,” for example. There was no legal prohibition, but Hitler tried to use the word "war" as little as possible, because people don't want to live in war – people want to live in safety. That's probably why.

It's nice to humiliate, conquer, and capture, but you want to feel safe. And war is an acknowledgment that I’m going to kill and be killed. I recently read an article by a journalist from (German magazine) Der Spiegel. He went to Moscow and tried to describe the city. So, there are no posters about the war, as if there is no war at all. War is everywhere on television, but not on the streets of Moscow. You can live in Moscow and forget about the war. You’re not mobilized to the army – the Buryats (national group from the Russian far east) and others fight for you. That is, the Russian authorities do not want the type of people living in Moscow to think about war, know about war, and be afraid of it.

– Like many other journalists, I wrote an article about how Ukrainians communicate with their relatives living in Russia. Very often there’s a wall of misunderstanding: (Russians) refuse to believe that Russia is shelling and dropping bombs on residential areas, even if they are told about it by their closest relatives who are affected by it. We can see that the war isn’t just about Putin. Why does Russian society support it?

There two completely different things at work here, to do with Russia and dictatorship, and military attitudes. Putin came on the scene, he was elected, (even) when he openly used authoritarian rhetoric.

Even after he unleashed a horrific, bloody war against the civilian population in Chechnya, he was elected president as a strong man. He sold himself to voters as an authoritarian leader and people voted for him several times. He was the answer to society's demand for an authoritarian leader. Russian society deliberately chose this model. If he began his reign with a war and mass murders of civilians in Chechnya and his rating rose, what does it mean? He’s the answer to a request (from society).

Of course, the war isn’t just about Putin. Like Hitler, the Germans chose him quite consciously. Another thing is that when such people come to power, they can’t be got rid of. This model of authoritarian leadership always leads to tragedy and blood – it can have no other outcome.

The whole of Russian political culture is built on humiliation, aggression and sadomasochism. They humiliate themselves and try to humiliate others. That’s because it’s clear that nothing has worked out in Russia, despite all their oil and gas. It's a horror anyway, so let's drag others into our hell – such is their logic. They have not dealt with their historical traumas. And those who cannot cope with it, they cannot invent the future, but have to play out the same scenario from the past. And they try to drag others along with them.

Regarding the collective responsibility of the Russians, I know there is a big debate around this, and it’s a difficult debate. More than 70 years have passed since the end of the Second World War, and 30 books are still published every year on the topic: Were all of the Germans guilty of the Holocaust? It’s an eternal debate. (Karl) Jaspers, (the German philosopher, psychologist and psychiatrist) and (Hannah) Arendt (the German-American philosopher) started arguing about this back in the 1950s. And it’s like they never finished. Some people do feel responsible and admit that they are ashamed, they realize everything and so. But most don’t. They say things like – “What have I done? What? Am I dropping the bombs?” People don't want to take responsibility – it's unpleasant, because then you have to act.

In order to survive in such a society, you are given a condition – be a conformist, you are no longer a social individual. You can live a personal life, do something in business, that's where you show yourself.

But you’re nothing in public life. Your task is to agree with the leader. To feel responsible and guilty, you have to have high self-esteem. And in Russia, everyone is humiliated – even the oligarchs. People are told: today there’s war with Ukraine. People answer: well, OK. Tomorrow they will be told: war with America, they will say: well, OK. They always need to humiliate someone else, because they are humiliated daily themselves.

Conformism can be even worse than fascism. Conformists, unlike fascists, don't tend to kill and rape people. They don't wake up with this thought, but they have agreed to these rules and agreed to destroy themselves as individuals.

– In the first weeks of the war, famous people in Ukraine, celebrities, recorded video messages in Russian, trying to reach out to the liberal part of Russian society. Almost no one does this now, because even when traveling abroad, Russian liberals do not organize large anti-war protests and are busy with their own lives. Why are even progressive Russians so passive?

I don't really like the expression "liberal part of Russian (society)."

– Now they are called "good Russians" – it’s already a term.

These are very shaky concepts. I can give a historical example. At the beginning of the Second World War, there were similar debates in Britain. Then too, there were hopes about "good Germans." A

German BBC service was created, foreign groups and newspapers were supported, it was hoped that they would be able to inspire the silent majority in Germany who did not vote for the Nazis.

This was the hope in the first few years (before) the war. But 1939 followed, then 1940. Hitler was conquering new territories, and the West gave up on these "good Germans," as it became clear that they wouldn’t do anything. And a great conversation begins within the British elite, philosophers, writers, psychoanalysts, politicians: what should be done? And everyone had different opinions, just like now.

We have to forget about the role of information as a way of persuading people what is true and what is not. Those Russians who want to know the truth will find it, and yes, this is not the Second World War – the information is out there, and it’s easy to find. But the role of information is changing. Now the role of information is to win the war. It has nothing to do with belief at all. It doesn't matter what Russians believe, whether they like Putin or not, or what they think of Ukrainians. We need to understand how we want to win this war and what the role of information is in this.

– And what is it?

It’s not related to journalism. Journalism plays a major role in democracies. Journalism must exist and be a source of information, but it won’t change the war. Psychological operations start, such as demoralizing the enemy, and the Ukrainians are successfully doing this. I’m against all this. Because it’s against democracy. But when there's a war, that's exactly what they do.

– How do you assess Ukrainian propaganda? A vivid example is the Ghost of Kyiv, which was talked about in March, when the Russians were advancing on the capital. Only later did people learn that it was not about one specific pilot, but that it was a collective image of the Ukrainian pilots who protected the skies of Kyiv. That is, we created a military mythology.

I think it’s being done very competently. The word propaganda during war scares me, but it’s still necessary to think about what it means. Propaganda is harmful when it removes the chances for people to understand each other, to listen to each other, and to communicate. Conspiracies kill our chance to communicate. Conspiracy theories stop relationships. But to create patriotic myths during a war, it seems to me, is a must. Ukrainians do it well.

– During the war, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy became a wonder to many in the West. The way he conveys information about the war – he always does it humanely, and gives specific examples. But the full-scale war has been going on for more than six months. Zelenskyy talks to someone in the world almost every day. Isn't the world tired of him and of the war in Ukraine as a whole?

No, not Zelenskyy. On the contrary, politicians want to be with him. If he’d run for office in the UK or the United States, he’d probably have won (laughs). He’s still new, compared to our politicians, and he has a good reputation. But yes, there is a problem with news from Ukraine, because the news has to be new.

When people hear “shelling again” this isn’t new for them. I’m horrified to say this, but it’s true. I wouldn't call it fatigue – Ukraine is supported, and Russia is considered evil all the same, and this hasn’t changed. But there’s a dangerous winter ahead. Russia will try to convince Western societies that prices are rising because they are protecting and supporting Ukrainians. And yes, there is already an association between prices rising and the war. Putin hopes that the West is weak and that he will break it. But … I hope the West will understand that this is not just Ukraine's war, but that it is "our war", and that bastard (Putin) is trying to humiliate us all. I really hope that the West will have the dignity to react to this. And the reaction should be: “Yes, it will be a very difficult winter, but then we will break (Putin).”

This, of course, will require a transition. After all, Europe convinced itself for decades that if it traded with, and maintained relations with Russia, everything would be fine.

In Britain the new prime minister is Liz Truss, and she’s very anti-Russian. How did it happen that Britain became one of the biggest open opponents of Russia? After all, we know that Russian oligarchs love Britain a lot, and they buy real estate there.

There are several important issues here. One is related to the poisoning of the Skripals (in 2018 Russian GRU agents came to the UK and tried to poison former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter). The British were greatly offended by this. It was like: “Why did you come and kill on our territory?” People didn't like it at all, it was insulting. Secondly, the oligarchs are a bit of an illusion: the UK has no close economic ties with Russia. The amount of Russian investments is pennies. The real estate market – yes, it's a problem for politicians, houses in London were bought by oligarchs, and not only Russian ones, and people didn't like it either. But (economically) we’re still completely independent from Russia. Britain refused to buy Russian energy. There are also historical reasons – we were always at war with Russia. In the 19th century, there was an idea that Russia was an authoritarian empire, and we were a liberal one. Read the English journalism of the 19th century – it’s all about the fact that we’re not Russia. Russia is what we would not like to be. We have never had such romance with the Russian Federation as in Germany or France. There was always a conviction that Russia is hell, and Britain is not Russia.

— Sometimes it seems that the world is afraid of what will happen to Russia when Ukraine wins the war. Is the world ready for a Ukrainian victory?

We all understand that when there is a victory and a ceasefire, which will be determined by Ukraine, Ukraine will need security guarantees. No one can say what they will be. Personally, I think that the real guarantees of security are if U.S. or European soldiers are stationed in Kherson and Kharkiv. I don't see any other security guarantees that the Russians will understand. They are cowards in this regard. As for what should be done with Russia, there’s still no intellectual consensus in the world.

Maybe that’s for the better.


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

 This article is reprinted from Ukrainaska Pravda

"The atrocities committed by the Russians are their reaction to the fact that they are nobody in their own country." 

Interview with a historianWednesday, 6 July 2022, 11:37

The full-scale war that began on 24 February has been, for many Ukrainians, the first experience of hostilities and their consequences. What the cities of the Ukrainian region of Donbas have been experiencing for 8 years, Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and other cities have now also had to go through. 

The greatest tragedy facing the Ukrainian people is the genocidal actions of the Russians, which we had previously only read about in books about the Soviet "Great Terror" [the Great Terror, also known as the Great Purge, was a cruel political campaign by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to kill dissenting members of the Communist Party and anyone else he considered a threat] or the German occupation during the Second World War.

It seems that we have survived everything: shootings, tortures, deportations and sexual violence.

We discussed the crimes committed by Russians in historical perspective with Dr Larysa Yakubova, a researcher in historical sciences specialising in the study of the "Russian world".

"Ukraine has been able to elude the state that has been destroying Russia"

- The term "Russian world" is not new for you, and you have devoted many publications to it. Did you foresee the war, knowing all that?

- People had feared that something bad would happen, and 24 February was the point when it finally did.

It had already been clear since November that war was coming, and that it was a matter of weeks.

When you are just a scientist who is engaged in studying the "Russian world" and you know enough about it, then this burden completely suffocates you and does not allow you to live fully.

- The Russians are trying to use their own historical myths against Ukraine. Before the full-scale war, we listened to a speech by Putin in which he denied Ukrainian statehood. Can we say that Ukrainians already have a certain degree of immunity to this?

- I have been studying Russian propaganda for 8 years - it is quite difficult for an average person to understand it.

In the area they refer to as the "Russian world", people have long been living in a "virtual world" that can’t be called our history, Soviet or Russian history - it is an alternative history in which the same commonly used word forms seem to float around, but they are combined in such a way that we find ourselves immersed in Orwell's reality or that of other outstanding fiction writers.

I believe that for 30 years we, as historians, have been doing things right in Ukraine. Ukraine was able to elude the state that has been destroying Russia, namely, the state of unwillingness to know anything about its real past, of forgetting and erasing it from memory, of refusing to repent of anything and seeing only progress and victories.

As a result, Russian historians ceased to be historians and deprived the people of Russia of understanding where they are and who they are.

The difference between our countries in this sense is enormous. That is, Ukrainians today are people with their own true history, whilst Russians are still wandering through the swamps with their 17th-century hero, Ivan Susani

- Will the Russians ever be able to get out of this state?

- They will not get out of this dead-end for another 50 years, because it is impossible to write a new history just from Wikipedia.

There need to be tens of thousands of professional historians, but they hardly have any left. The current cohort, who were trained in the past 30 years, are propagandists who do not have the tools for professional work.

First, it is necessary to train young professional historians, explain the difference between propaganda and historical science, and then they all have to go to real archives, which are currently closed to researchers, to work and think for a couple of dozen years.

The results should then be published, put into mass circulation, and it will take 10-20 years for society to accept it.

"For 30 years, the Russian people were deliberately led by their government into a state of atrocity"

- Why do Russians draw on historical perspective to destroy Ukrainians? The Holodomor [the great famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 caused by Soviet policy], repression, destruction of culture and memory, and now the public denial of Ukrainian statehood and atrocities committed in the occupied territories.

- It’s all very simple, because the "Russian world" is a virtual picture of an alternative history. Researchers quite often use the cliché that Russians are people with a false self-identification.

There are many examples when families have kept silent about their origins. Russians can go through their whole lives and learn only near old age that they are the descendants of repressed Greeks, Finns, Jews or Ukrainians.

That is, we are talking about negative selection, where Great Russian chauvinism is a necessary prerequisite for being promoted through the levels of internal hierarchy.

Although Stalin was a Georgian by nationality, he was also a Great Russian chauvinist. So was Lenin. Not to mention the tsars, who could not have become imperialists simply by the fact of their birth - they were brought up in the tradition of Russian imperial historiography.

-Were the Bolsheviks also brought up on imperial historiography?

- They also shared an imperial historiography. It could not have been otherwise, from a historical point of view.

The main task of Ukraine at the current stage is to ensure that Russians leave us alone; to separate this two-unit matrix on which the basic historical reflection on the question of origins is based. And where are the origins of historical reflections on Russia?

- Since the time of Kyivan Rus...

- Here's the answer to why they pick on us: because the internal system of coordinates in the personality structure of every Russian dictator takes its starting point in Kyiv.

However, a common starting point and the present-day community are not the same thing.

If that were the logic, then Kyiv could claim that Moscow should become a region of Ukraine. But no - because at some stage, Vasily Klyuchevsky [a 19th-century Russian historian] de facto transferred the emphasis on continuity from the "mother of Russian cities" [Kyiv] to the "dynasty". Thus, the focus switched to the notion that, for some reason, Kyiv should be a province, not Moscow.

Until the Russians accept their true history as part of their mentality, until then there will be a terrible mess that will bring death and war everywhere.

- Most Ukrainians were shocked by the scale of torture and abuse in Bucha and Irpin, but if we open a textbook on the history or study of Soviet terror, we will see that this behaviour is typical of Russians...

- The Russian people have been deliberately brought to a state of brutality by the authorities over the past 30 years. This is a side effect of a totalitarian society as such.

They were deliberately pushed into a totalitarian matrix, although it should be noted that they have never actually left it behind. There was a period that saw a degree of easing, sometime before the First Chechen War.

Russia is moving in the direction of a large Gulag [the government agency that administered the prison camps in the Soviet Union, and also refers to the network of those prison camps] covering the entire territory of the state. And the totalitarian matrix dehumanises every person at every level.

We consider their leaders, we look at Putin: he stands completely stone-faced and proclaims the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Not a single muscle on his face moves, although he must understand that he is condemning an entire nation before the eyes of the whole world.

And with a similar stone face, 70-80% of 140 million [Russian] people say "okay, that's how it should be."

Atrocities are their reaction to the fact that they are nobody in their own country. This is no longer an army, but an armed bunch of scumbags who will do whatever it takes to follow  their orders.

- Can this behaviour of Russians be considered the norm for them?

- The civilisation praised by the "Russian world" [mentioned earlier] was brought to such a state by 30 years of work on the mass consciousness of people by the Russian authorities. This was done on purpose, because only in this way can there be a totalitarian state and power that does not change and is cemented. This is a country where historical time and social development have stopped.

But we should understand that this side effect is the norm in totalitarian regimes; the same thing happened in Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and in post-war China.

When totalitarianism wins as a form of social organisation, mass brutality is its direct consequence. And every war is an atrocity, regardless of who wages it. The exception is the country that defends itself.

Why do Europeans repeat "Never again"? Because they understand that any nation can be brought to such a state, and everyone can turn out to be a victim or an "animal".

We have something to be proud of in this situation: we are holding our ground, and the Russians will have to live with it. Our task is not to lose our humanity. And once we persevere and win, we must ensure that in the end, all the guilty parties are punished. But Russia is playing around with history in order to avoid this.

"The tools of interaction with society are all the same: basements, tortures, mutilations, camps, interrogations"

- If we compare what the Russians are doing now to the Soviet terror of the 1930s and the German occupation during the Second World War, can we say that they have increased the atrocities to a new level?

- Such comparisons are not correct from a historical point of view, because people were different 70 years ago, even if we are talking about your grandfather. The majority of Russians at that time had not completed 4 years of education - we are not talking about the intelligentsia or elites here.

The mass of individuals who lived under the Nazi regime at the time were burghers who had gone bankrupt after the First World War. Moreover, they were people who did not have an average, full-fledged Western European primary education. They were told that a Jew is not a person, and that a physically disabled person can be killed without remorse in order to "purify the race".

It was explained to the Germans that Ukrainian lands are their living space. The Nazis came to Ukraine to get a large piece of land, where they planned to start farms, create a colony where their children and great-grandchildren would rule, and drive Ukrainians into slavery.

And today we see a Russian man, allegedly an educated person, with access to the Internet, raping a girl.

It is possible to compare them, but in making a comparison one should not forget about the internal structures of the countries which commit crimes against the population.

NKVD [The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, abbreviated NKVD, was the secret police agency of the Soviet Union 1934-46, subsequently renamed the KGB]

After all, if we consider that every Russian is capable of doing this, then we will come to a dead end. That's how they think about us, and genocidal practices grow out of such assumptions: when an entire nation is denied every right to remain human.

- Have the working methods of the Russian special services changed since Soviet times?

- The tools of interaction with society are all the same: basements, tortures, mutilations, camps, interrogations. If you look at a study of what was done during the "Great Terror" of 1937-38, you will see that the same thing has been done for 8 years in the basements of the "DPR" [self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic] and "LPR" [self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic].

The only difference is the scale. The only thing is that mass war crimes are the crimes of another structure, the so-called Russian army. It is now not an army, but basically a terrorist organisation.

And it [the Russian army] is doing the same thing to Ukraine as to Syria. That is, it is  technically possible to turn every Ukrainian city into Aleppo. There are orders, there is no honour, there is no dignity, there are no human values.

After all, the Nazis did the same thing. Our catastrophe is that we will have to live with this terrible neighbour for a long time, because I do not see the leaders of Russia radically changing its internal settings in the near future.

The next 30 years will be very difficult for all of us, and in this situation it is very important to be down-to-earth.

- Sexual violence is one of the types of terror in Russia today. How common were such cases during the Soviet terror in the 1930s?

- From a purely scientific point of view, sexual violence is a reflection of barbarism. We have to understand that it is present in every war, because all the violent attitudes, the dehumanisation of the enemy are the archetype of the behaviour of a barbarian warrior who comes to the land he has captured.

The first thing a barbarian does before a defeated enemy is to rape women, daughters and sons, kill the master and begin to rule over all those who have been humiliated. After enduring such stress, one must have a very strong inner core not to break down and to continue the struggle, and even to continue to live.

This topic is studied on the basis of what happened in the Second World War, during Soviet occupation, and from Western European material. Let's consider what happened after the capture of Berlin, where wives and daughters were raped in front of the captured officers, after which those officers committed suicide.

Rape in public places is an act of humiliation and moral murder. When all the information is available, we will talk about what we are dealing with today.

Fortunately, now the Ukrainian army is working quite well, and it will be difficult for them [Russian soldiers] to reach the boys, men, and women, and this may hold them back. In the first stage of the war, when they marched in in full uniform, they had a sense that it was open season.

- You have done a great deal of research on the history of Donbas. Is it now symbolic that the fate of Ukraine is being determined there?

- If our border with Russia was in Ternopil Oblast or Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, then the symbolism would lie there.

We recaptured Kyiv Oblast, Chernihiv Oblast, and Sumy Oblast not because there is less support for the "Russian world" there than in Donbas. The problem is that Donbas has been a stepping-stone for the past 8 years.

Donbas was chosen as the zone that was easiest to "sway". At that time [in 2014], the fugitive president Yanukovych was "the leader of the common man from Donbas", just as the average Russian now identifies with Putin. That is, these slogans worked there because of a high level of social tension, not because of "pure love" for Russia.

Secondly, it was a zone of chronic social depression, and this weakened Kyiv's position. Similar zones of social disaster in Russia are now zones of support for Putin's "special operation". Their residents thus strive to "establish order" in Ukraine, when they have no influence on anything and live on the edge of survival [within their own territory]. 

We have taken a huge step forward in these 8 years. I don't like it when they write that if it weren't for Putin and the war, there would be no Ukrainian nation.

The symbolism of Donbas is that in 2014, the Russians wanted to "revive" Novorossiya ["New Russia", the historical term for a region that was part of the Russian Empire and included part of present-day Ukraine], but they failed.

After that, they would state, on various platforms, look: Putin's Russia is a nightmare, and we will build a "new, beautiful Russia" in Donbas. So what happened? It turned into a festering cesspool of terrible degradation: intellectual, moral, economic, and social.

These pseudo-republics, like metastases, spread to the mental body of Russia itself. And now we see that the insignificant "LPR/DPR" [self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics] have turned out to be a projection of the totalitarian future of Russia itself.

But we have different projections: we will retake Ukrainian Donbas and we will "live our own lives", building a future of peace and freedom.

Mykhailo Zahorodnii, Ukrainska Pravda. Zhyttia

Monday, June 13, 2022

Japanese people put a curse on Putin

 Japanese People Put a Curse on Putin

Photo: Pakutaso

Straw dolls with Putin's photo keep getting nailed to town’s shrine trees

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Summer is the traditional season for scary stories in Japan, and right on cue, we’ve got a spooky tale coming out of Chiba Prefecture. It’s also a pretty bizarre situation, but we’ll start with the creepy aspects.

In Japan, there’s a kind of doll called a wara ningyo. That translates to “straw doll,” but wara ningyo are no innocuous arts and crafts projects. Instead, they’re Japan’s version of voodoo dolls, created as an effigy for someone you wish harm to befall. Instead of damaging the wara ningyo directly, though, you’re supposed to nail it to a tree inside the boundaries of a Shinto shrine between the hours of 1 and 3 a.m., in a ceremony called ushi no toki mairi, or “shrine visit during the hour of the ox” (in the old Japanese time-keeping system, the hour of the ox was designated to what we now call 1 to 3 in the morning).

▼ A wara ningyo

Photo: Pakutaso

The standard curse inflicted by wara ningyo is supposed to be death, but these days most people with murderous intent tend to opt for more direct means. Because of that, the dolls are now pretty rare outside of horror movies and anime, but since the start of last month, wara ningyo have been found nailed to trees on the grounds of seven shrines in the town of Matsudo, about 20 minutes east of downtown Tokyo. In a modern twist, each one of them also has a photograph of the same person’s face attached to the head.

So just who is the intended target of this dark magic? None other than...

… Russian president Vladimir Putin. Oh, and just in case whatever spirits are supposed to carry out the curse don’t recognize the Russian head of state by sight, at least one of the dolls, the one found at Masudo’s Kanegasaku Kuamano Shrine, also had a piece of paper folded up inside of it with Putin’s full name, current age, and date of birth, all written in Japanese, as well as the message “Praying for his death.”

Even prior to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin wasn’t the most popular politician internationally, and the ongoing conflict hasn’t done anything to improve his image in Japan. That said, it’s pretty shocking to see such old-school methods employed in protest, as Japanese Twitter reactions show:

“I was actually at one of the shrines where this happened and saw the wara ningyo nailed to the tree. Couldn’t believe my eyes.”

“Having a hard time imagining Putin dropping dead because some Japanese person put a curse on him.”

“Do wara ningyo curses have the kind of range to hit people overseas?”

“Those are some really beautifully made wara ningyo.”

“Hammering a nail into a shrine’s sacred tree? That’s gonna get whoever did it some divine retribution raining down on them.”

As alluded to in the last comment, in the Shinto religion nature is held to be divine, and a shrine’s trees in particular are often considered sacred. At Kanegasaku Kuamano Shrine, for example, the doll was found nailed to its camphor tree, which is more than 200 years old and predates even the shrine itself. Priests and shrine caretakers are asking that whoever is carrying out the ushi no toki mairi cease and desist, and while the curse itself is not a chargeable offense, local police are investigating the incidents as crimes of trespassing and vandalism.

Click the link to see a TV news report.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Hitler learned it from the Russians

Hitler Learned Nazism from the Russians

Left top to bottom: Ivan the Terrible, Michael Romanov, Right top to bottom: Lenin, Putin, Center Hitler with Prussian Eagle, left and Russian Eagle, right 

To understand how Russia was a forebearer of Hitler-ism or Nazism, it is necessary to define terms. Nazism is no more than a specific subset of Imperialism. Imperialism is the increasing of ones own lands by conquering other states, through war or other means. In the ancient world this was common and war was constant. This was true of Greece, Persia, Rome, Mongolia, China, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia. It was also true of tribal warfare and even the United States can be considered an Imperial power in relation to its wars against the native American tribes whose land was taken by force. 

The differences between all these empires are ones of the era in which they evolved, and their specific characteristics: their methods, motivations and administration. Since about the end of the 19th century, three such attempts at Empire building stand out. Of the three, Russia, Germany, and China, China came much later and will not be discussed extensively here.

Taking motivations first, these are generally of two types: the desire for gain and the desire for protection. In the past, states that were targets of conquest tended to be adjacent states, states along important trade routes, and states with riches of one sort or another-including slaves. Some were seen as buffers to protect the original state from direct attack: essentially the same as building a moat around a fort. Conquered states were generally plundered for their riches and resources, their women taken as brides or concubines, and their men taken into the conquerors army or used for other types of forced labor. Motivations do not distinguish Russia and Nazi Germany from any other Empire builders in history. Administration does.

Once a state was captured it needs to be administered in one form or another. This usually involved surveys of land and other possessions, headcounts, and tax assessment and collection. It also required the deployment of troops as a police force, for boundary protection, and a judiciary. Another important aspect of administration involves seeing to it that the native culture and religion are suppressed in favor of adopting the culture and religion of the conqueror. This is how Christianity spread from it's middle east origins to all of Europe.

Though war and conquest is a nasty business, it is relatively straightforward. The difficulty for the conqueror and the conquered comes partly in the methods used in the conquest but especially in the administration. Before getting back to the specific subsets of Imperialism represented by Russia and Nazism, I will step back further in history.

When the Roman Empire collapsed, Byzantium, which was essentially the Eastern branch of the Roman Empire, continued as the center of Christendom. At various times it was made up of Asia Minor, southern Italy, and the Baltic states. After the Turks captured Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453, Ivan the Terrible of Russia wished to claim the title of "third Roman Empire" as the premier Christian Orthodox state of the day.  He was the first to assume the title of Czar (Cesar). One of Ivan's wives, Anastasia Romanov, was distantly related to the Byzantine Palaeologus family, who were Emperors of Constantinople until about the 16th century. This dynasty used the 2-headed eagle as a symbol and it seems that Anastasia encouraged Ivan to adopt it as a mark of Imperial ancestry. About 60 years after Ivan, Michael Romanov was elected head of state by the Russian Parliament (Zemsky Sobor). Anastasia was his great-aunt. This was the beginning of the Romanov line and the pre-modern Russian state which still employs the double-headed eagle.

The combination of the secular and the sacred has been a hallmark of almost every society that ever existed. Originally, the ruler was seen as a living God. Later, the desire of the people was that the ruler be anointed by and protected by God. That protection was thought to flow through the ruler to the country. None of this is unique to Russia. Maybe the clearest example of a break with this tradition is the United States with it's enshrinement of the separation of church and state. This separation went hand in hand with the concept of freedom of religion. In other words when the state no longer received its legitimacy from one specific God, then the citizens were free to worship a god of their choosing and still be considered good citizens—so long as they fulfilled their civil duties. It also meant that the power of the church was greatly diminished. European societies also followed this pattern to one degree or another.

Orthodox Christian (Eastern Christian) Russia, retained the symbiotic relation of church and state until the revolution of 1917. Though the post-war Soviet Union is associated with the rise of Communism, and the symbol of the hammer and sickle, the vast majority of Russian history is Imperialist, conservative, and Orthodox Christian. Karl Marx famously said "religion is the opiate of the masses" and the Soviet Union became a strictly secular state for about 80 years. An apparent separation of church and state alla the USA. But it also staunchly opposed capitalism and Western liberal values as they developed from the 18th century. In other words anti-freedom of choice. It suppressed religion. As such, both Imperialist and Communist Russia were backward-looking states that feared other than proscribed ideas and values. With all channels for evolution of the society cut off, Russia inevitably faced (and still faces) constant revolution in order to release the pressure that builds up from suppressing change. As with all such fearful, dictatorial societies with a hard shell and a soft core, so to speak, it is more likely to self-destruct than be destroyed from the outside.

So finally we come to methods. A point always comes with empire when it is too big and has taken in too many peoples of different cultures and religions to sustain the original idea of a single state. But by then, it's too late to go back. Allowing any of the states it has collected to become independent is seen as a sign of weakness and a potential danger to the original core state. The Eastern areas of Russia were the last to be annexed, including Finland, which was the eastern half of Sweden, in 1809. Other areas came from the annexation of Poland and Lithuania (between 1772 and 1795) after the defeat of Napoleon. These were added to the Western-most area called Pale of Settlement, which already included a large part of Ukraine. The inclusion of these new territories greatly increased the size of the Jewish population in Russia. Existing since 1791, the newly expanded Pale was basically the only territory in Russia where Jews were allowed to reside permanently—about 5 million in total. In other words, a large ghetto.

In Russia, the preferred method of compensation, for the failures of administration, for losses in wars, and a host of other problems, was to blame the Jews. As in many Christian European countries of the day, Jews were considered outsiders and either undesirable or tolerated as a necessary evil under severe restrictions. But in Russia conditions could be extreme. For example after an uprising of Poles was put down in 1864, 80,000 Poles were exiled to Siberia. Jews in Europe were particularly hated for a number of reasons including, 1. Christians blamed the Jews for having Christ crucified. 2. Because Jews were often expelled from countries they tended to be nomadic. This led them to taking up trade as a livelihood, which could be very lucrative and made many rich. Banking and money lending were part of the culture. This, despite the fact that the vast majority of Russian Jews were poor. 3. Because they were not allowed to fully integrate into European societies in any case, they formed self-help groups and networks which made them largely self-sufficient. 4. This network of self-help, kahals or kabals, became part of the false idea of an international Jewish conspiracy that developed later, and became an urban myth that continues worldwide to this day.

Jews in Russia became easy targets for all the frustrations of the society. This resulted in constant pogroms. A pogrom is basically a mass assault on one community by another. These assaults, basically riots, were often directed by the authorities or supporters of the Czar and the Orthodox church. For example, after Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, the Jews were blamed and a wave of pogroms resulted in a great loss of life and business. Naturally, the authorities responded by placing greater restrictions on the Jews. Known as the May Laws, these included quotas for work, education, and residence. It also caused the creation of revolutionary populist movements filled with minorities and Jews.

In 1905, there occurred a mutiny on the Battleship Potemkin, after a humiliating defeat by the young Japanese Navy. The crew killed the captain and commandeered the ship and sailed to the port of Odessa, where a general strike was already underway. Riots destroyed much of the port. This mutiny spurred the growth of revolutionary organizations, such as the Bund, which had existed in Russia since the late 1800s. Many Jews joined these new groups and many took leadership positions. 

In, St. Petersburg, hundreds of peaceful protesters were fired on and killed in what came to be known as the Bloody Sunday massacre. The Potemkin and Bloody Sunday incidents triggered widespread revolts and forced the Czar to agree to some reforms including the creation of the Duma, an elected body with which he was supposed to consult. This is considered the First Russian Revolution and Jews were very active in it. But another result was the proliferation of extreme right-wing, Monarchist groups, which were strongly antisemitic. This was the age of the Black Hundreds and continuous pogroms aimed primarily at "the Yids" (Jews). The idea of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world became prominent at this time (see above). Such ideas were spread by right-wing newspapers and publications such as the fictitious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This was originally part of a French satire directed at Napoleon III, which was modified to read like a secret plot by Jewish Elders to destroy Christians and dominate the world. It's final revisions were made by the Czar's secret police. Right-wing extremists, to this day, continue to promote it as a real historical document.

Another method of administering the population arose in the late 1800s through the Pan-Slavic movement. Though originally organized as a benevolent society aimed at supporting Christian Slavic people living under the Ottoman Turks, it morphed into an aggressive, support for bringing all Slavic nations under the protection of the Czar. It helped bring about the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78. Then, in 1914, WW1 engulfed most of Europe. The war pitted Russia, Britain, and France against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. After 1917 it included the United States. The countries aligned with Russia were the very ones the Monarchists and right-wing groups that made up the Black Hundreds, blamed for the liberal ideas they fought against. The desire of these groups was a strong alliance with Germany which they saw as the natural partner. But after a sound defeat by the German and Austrian armies the pressures of war caused another revolution in Russia, this time deposing the Czar and ending Russia's participation in the war. This was the beginning of the Soviet Union.

As the Bolsheviks (Communists) began arresting and killing anyone associated with the monarchy, as well as rival progressive groups, many fled to other parts of Europe. Many of the anti-Soviet emigres gathered in Germany. Fedor Vinberg was a Russian army colonel, a prolific writer, member of the UAM (the Black Hundreds core group), and rabid anti-Semite. He also pushed the idea that the Bolshevik revolution was a Jewish conspiracy. He was arrested by the Bolsheviks and served 3 years. His close associate, Shabel’skii-Bork, brought to Germany a copy of the Protocols from which the first German translations were made. Vinberg was part of a German-Russian organization named Aufbau, that had strong ties with the German Workers Party, the forerunner of the Nazi Party. Here is where Vinberg held many discussions with a young Adolf Hitler.

Another prominent Russian emigre in Germany was N.E. Markov who was formerly the president of the URP, prominent Black Hundreds anti-Semite, and member of the Duma. "Within Markov’s worldview, it was nearly impossible for any upheaval to occurindependent of Jewish influence; if the situation were analyzed properly, the all-powerful black hand of the Jews could always be uncovered somewhere." Markov warned that an alliance with the British would cause Russia to go to war with Germany, and urged an alliance with the Kaiser Wilhelm, stressing the two countries had common interests. When the Czar was overthrown the provisional government arrested Markov and sentenced him to 3 years. When he was released, he emigrated to Berlin in 1920. He organized a congress in Berlin made up mostly of other Black Hundreds emigres. Their purpose was to restore the monarchy in Germany and Russia. Markov always bragged that the Black Hundreds represented the "exact prototype" of fascist movements.

When Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1925 he quotes from the fictitious Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the idea of the need to crush the "international Jewish conspiracy" was a cornerstone of his philosophy as was his hatred of Marxism. In the early 1900s, Russian Monarchism, Imperialism, conservative Orthodoxy, antisemitism, targeted pogroms, mass-deportations, segregation of Jews, and continuous war, produced the model of Nazism before the word was coined. Only the gas chambers were a Germain innovation. 

Of course, Nazism did not stop with the defeat of Hitler. The Russians continued the very same methods, motivations and administration as the Nazis. Only now it was called Communism and it blights the planet to this today. Communist nations mimic all the habits of Nazism: increasing ones own lands by conquering other states, seeing to it that the native culture and religion are suppressed in favor of adopting the culture and or religion of the conqueror, deployment of troops as a police force—not to protect the populace—but as a means of control. Constant surveillance, arrest, and summary execution, as well as scapegoating and persecution of "undesirable" populations is the method of administration. When Russia "liberated" Eastern Europe after WW2, it was not called living behind the "Iron Curtain" for nothing. In 1953 Stalin was on the verge of a mass-deportation of Jews to Siberia when he suffered a stroke and died.

By all these definitions, Russia and China are now the leading examples of Nazism in the modern world. Russia, still hates Jews and supports every type of Muslem extremist group, but deals with the Israelis because they can be equally ruthless (after all, they learned from the best). China has no "Jewish problem" but does not hesitate to suppress any perceived threat. So it was that Mao Zedong attacked Tibet and killed more than a million Tibetans. So it is that Xi Jinping kills, sterilizes, and confines to massive concentration camps, millions of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities, not to mention the mass arrests and the total suppression of democracy in Hong Kong. One party, one-man rule, severe suppression of freedom and human rights: the core principles of all totalitarians no matter the country, the era, or the name.

For some insightful contemporary discussions, please see the following articles:

On Putin

On Jews

 On the modern Hundreds

On Putin's "brain" Alexander Dugin


Friday, April 29, 2022

Putin the Poisoner

Election by Assassination: Putin Wins by Killing the People's Choice

putin the poisoner

Photo from

In March 0f 2022, President Joe Biden said of Putin, "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in Power." To which, Putin's pompous puppy, Demity Peskov, piped up, "That's not for Biden to decide, the President of Russia is elected by Russians." Well, that must come as quite a surprise to the Russians!

One of the most surprised would have to be Alexei Navalny, who famously labeled Putin's political party, United Russia, a "party of crooks and thieves". He was allowed to run for Mayor of Moscow twice, but not allowed to win. He was also arrested on trumped-up charges of "embezzlement" twice. So he decided to conduct his own embezzlement investigations which culminated with a film which focused on approximately1.2 billion USD embezzled by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Naturally, when he tried to run in the 2018 presidential election and, due to popular support was sure to win, he was barred from running by the Central Election Commission due to those trumped up convictions. This caused massive demonstrations. Fearing his ability to motivate people and confront monsters, he was poisoned in 2020. Novochok was spread on his underpants likely on orders from Putin. He was evacuated to Germany where he received life saving treatment. Being less fearful of Putin than Putin was of him, he returned to Russia and was arrested for violation of parole. He celebrated by releasing his newest documentary, Putin's Palace. History of the World's Largest Bribe, about Putin's massive corruption operations. A must see. He is serving 11.5 years in prison. Now, with the release of a new film by Daniel Roher, Navalny, about his poisoning and arrest, he may never see the light of day so long as Putin lives. So much for the Russians choosing their president.

Boris Nemstov also thought it was up to the Russian people to decide who they wanted to be president. Wrong again. Nemstov who was the deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin was expected to succeed him. He was nudged out of the way by Putin but continued to campaign against corruption and the illegal 2014 takeover of Ukraine's Crimea. Five days before he was to  march at the head of a massive protest, he was gunned down in the street in 2015, in broad daylight, within meters of the Kremlin. This is the cost of running for president in Putin's Russia. It was blamed on "Chechens". But now some astute investigations by Bellingcat, The Insider and the BBC reveal that Putins FSB was behind it. Not that anyone needed convincing.

Certainly not Alexander Litvinenko, the intelligence agent who defected to the West and was poisoned in London where he lived in 2006.This was a gruesome and lingering death brought on by having his tea laced with deadly radioactive polonium-210. Two Russian agents,
Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, were convicted of the crime but flew the coup back to Moscow. Killing Russians in Russia is one thing but killing them on foreign soil is another, you might say. 

But don't say it to Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia. Skripal was a Russian spy recruited by the British in the 1990s. This sort of thing happens all the time and he was not a "high-level" guy. He was arrested by the Russians and released in a spy swap with America in 2010. In March of 2018 he and his daughter Yulia were found, foaming from the mouth, on a bench at a beach in England where they lived. They had been poisoned with Novochok, possibly sprayed on the door handle of their home. Very luckily the poison was not enough to kill them and they recovered. But thanks to the who-gives-a-shit attitude of Putin's assassins, who discarded the "perfume" bottle in the neighborhood in which they used it, another woman died after she accidentally found the contaminated bottle. Her husband, who also handled the bottle did not die but did go blind. Skripal was a guy who posed zero threat to Putin. But Putin fancies himself the "Godfather" and once he thinks you crossed him, he must have revenge.

However, in fairness to a fiend, he is only following in a long line of poisonous Russian politics dating to at least the 15th century, as this excellent article by Linda Kinstler explains. Ancient history aside, it was the "father of the Revolution", Vladimir Lenin, who really got the ball rolling with his KGB Poison Factory, better known as the Kamera. For the Soviets, who—due to their own mistrust and paranoia—spent as much time killing each other as they did the enemy, poison was a natural choice. It fit perfectly with their habit of carrying out a crime and then disclaiming any knowledge of it. Discovering "evidence" that someone else was the perpetrator, the so-called "false flag", is often part of the plot. But Putin has raised the "technique" of his namesake to an art and deployed it in total contempt of other countries sovereignty.

Alexander Perepilichny and Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky were not running for office but both were involved in exposing massive theft from the Russian state coffers, carried out by Russian officials. Again, nothing of this kind can be carried out without Putin's okay and without him getting the biggest cut. One of the perks of being an absolute dictator. Perepilichny handed over documents showing how 220 million was stolen through Heritage Capital Management. Its a complicated story which you can read about here. The point is that things got too hot for him in mother Russia, so he left to live a quiet life in England. However he suddenly dropped dead while jogging in 2012. Toxin from a Chinese flowering plant Gelsemium was found in his stomach but no proof of how it got there was established. Sergei Magnitsky was a mild mannered tax advisor who also reported massive theft by Russian officials in regard to the same company. He was rewarded with arrest and thrown in jail in 2008. He died after being held without trial for 11 months. The United States passed the Magnitsky Act, "barring those Russian officials believed to be involved in Magnitsky's death from entering the United States or using its banking system." (Wikipedia) The other part of the story is that one of the founders of Hermitage, American Bill Browder, who set up the fund in 2005 believing that Putin was on track to clean out crime and modernize Russia, became one of the most vocal critics of the regime when he saw the massive theft that was going on. Now he fears for his own life though he hasn't stopped speaking out. Putin even suggested to Trump that he hand over Bill Browder in exchange for letting Robert Muelller go to Russia as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the American election.  

Vladimir Kara-Murza is another critic of the regime of "crooks and thieves" (and we must not forget, murderers). He was poisoned twice but refused to die. At least, not that way. After the second poisoning in 2017, he left Russia and lived for awhile in the USA. Now he has returned to the "old country" because, like Navalny, he refuses to be isolated from those who continue the fight for freedom. Now he has been jailed on charges of “deliberately disseminating false information about Russian military forces”, a charge which can bring a 15 year sentence. He did an interview for Frontllne in 2017 which is a brief and clear history of the rise of Putin. A must read.

Viktor Yushchenko was fortunate in that he did not run for President of Russia but of Ukraine. Even so, running against Putin's hand picked man, Viktor Yanukovych, was tantamount to the same offense. The Ukrainian system requires one of the candidates to garner over 50 % of the vote or face a runoff. In the 2004 election, neither candidate did and in a runoff, Yanukovych was the clear winner. Except that he wasn't. Massive fraud was the winner and the Ukrainan people were not standing for it. Huge demonstrations, which came to be known as the "Orange Revolution" forced a new election. This was won by Yuschenko who immediately took sick and had to be transported to Austria for emergency treatment. Pictures of his badly distorted face, the result of having digested a massive dose of toxin, were widely posted at the time. He survived and went on to serve as president for five tumultuous years. After 5 years of battles between parties, strongman Yanukovych was ready to throw his hat in the ring again. He was elected but immediately began moves to cancel a pending European Union membership in favor of accepting a bailout and closer ties with Russia—which was clearly not what the people wanted. This led to violent clashes between protestors and the police, known as the "Maidan Revolution".  Putin lost another chance at controlling the country through a puppet regime when Yanukovych fled to Russia and the parliament fired him and held another election in 2014. He now enjoys a comfortable retirement in Putin's warm embrace. 

But the whole incident was just another reason for Putin to hate Ukraine and determine to get his revenge. Which he did immediately by marching into the Crimea and proclaiming it part of Russia. He also moved troops into Donesk and Luhansk all under the pretext of protecting Russians living in the area. Ukraine was just trying to rebuild it's government and had little power to organize a resistance. The world protested, cut some ties, but did little to punish Putin. Ironically, it may have been this very lack of attention that he found so dissatisfying: dictators love to stand on balcony's while the loving masses applaud, you know. So he decided to invade and gain the admiration he truly deserves. But the poison he has been sprinkling so freely around the world's kitchens has now come back to pollute his own pantry. And, even as he has made thousands of graves in Ukraine, it is the place where he too will be buried.