Mês: março 2017

Russia

Corruption Protests, Insurrection and Presidential Elections M. K. Bhadrakumar Tue., Mar. 28, 2017 The wave of public protests that swept over Russia on Sunday has strong undercurrents. For a start, it may seem that 7000 to 8000 people demonstrating in Moscow, a city of 12 million population, is no big deal. But then, in Russia’s specific context, it is never so much the number of protesters but the fact that a substantial number of common people take to the streets to air their anti-establishment sentiments at all that needs to be carefully noted. The protests were largely spontaneous. No one ‘organized’ the protests. The protests had no ‘leaders’. The prominent opposition politician, Alexei Navalny tried to turn the inchoate protests into a political platform and was promptly whisked away by the police. The protests were fuelled by the government’s failure to respond to the demand by Navalny’s public forum known as Anti-Corruption Foundation to inquire into Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s private assets estimated to be worth $1.2 billion. Thus, Navalny had a claim on the protesters being his ‘natural allies’. Interestingly, a big share of protestors consisted of young people. The salience lies undoubtedly in the looming prospect that public corruption is going to be a major issue in the campaign for the presidential election in Russia slated for early next year. Suffice it to say, this is a dress rehearsal...

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Russia

Sergei Lavrov on Russia in International Politics (Speech at the Military Academy of the General Staff, Moscow, March 23, 2017) Mr Kuralenko, Comrade officers, colleagues, friends, I am grateful for the invitation to speak at the Military Academy as part of the Army and Society series of lectures. The organisers are doing a great job supporting the tradition of unity of the people and the army, as it should be and has always been in the best years of Russia’s history. Today, we will focus on Russia’s role in international politics. This theme has always been of interest to our citizens, patriots, and all the more so to servicemen protecting our state. How is the role of state determined in international politics? Just like in other social disciplines, there are specific fundamental values ​​and criteria in international relations for making judgments on that. Geopolitical weight is among the most important ones. It is clear that a vast country like Russia, with its wealth of resources and unique geographical location spanning Europe and Asia, is unlikely to remain on the side, let alone be isolated from international processes, especially in the modern era when trade, economic, financial, information, cultural and human relations simply demand that our planet be united into one truly unified space. I’m aware that some entertain the notion, which is eagerly picked up by Russophobes, that Russia’s...

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Science

The findings of medical research are disseminated too slowly   The Economist March 25th 2017 ON JANUARY 1st the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation did something that may help to change the practice of science. It brought into force a policy, foreshadowed two years earlier, that research it supports (it is the world’s biggest source of charitable money for scientific endeavours, to the tune of some $4bn a year) must, when published, be freely available to all. On March 23rd it followed this up by announcing that it will pay the cost of putting such research in one particular repository of freely available papers. To a layman, this may sound neither controversial nor ground-breaking. But the crucial word is “freely”. It means papers reporting Gates-sponsored research cannot be charged for. No pay walls. No journal subscriptions. That is not a new idea, but the foundation’s announcement gives it teeth. It means recipients of Gates’ largesse can no longer offer their wares to journals such as Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, since reading the contents of these publications costs money. That will hurt. Publication in such Premier-league journals is the stuff careers are built on. But it will also hurt the journals themselves. Their prestige is based on their ability to pick and publish only the best. If some work is out of...

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Afganistan

Taliban’s Quetta Shura, Haqqanis check out peace talks   M. K. Bhadrakumar Fri., Mar. 24, 2017 A US state department official told Associated Press on Thursday that Washington wants to work with Moscow on regional efforts to end the 16-year Afghan war and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be discussing this during his visit to the Russian capital on April 12. The Trump administration’s idea of seeking Russian cooperation to bring about national reconciliation in Afghanistan signifies a radical departure from the consistently negative approach taken by the Barack Obama presidency aimed at keeping Moscow out of the Afghan problem as far and as long as possible. This is of course brilliant news. (See my recent opinion piece in Tribune newspaper titled The grand bargain.) However, Trump’s best-laid plans in this direction are surely going to run into big headwinds. The NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, US Army General Curtis Scapparotti may have already made a valiant attempt to raise dust by saying on Thursday that he has seen “increased influence” of Russia of late in Afghanistan “and perhaps even supply to the Taliban.” Hot-shot generals do not usually speculate, and the word “perhaps” has simply no place in their vocabulary, but then, this is politics with the objective of caricaturing Russia in adversarial terms. The Russians promptly hit back saying that the accusation by the general is...

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Afganistan

The grand bargain : US-Russia-China joint effort needed to end the Afghan war   M. K. Bhadrakumar Mon., Mar. 20, 2017 THERE are some positive signs and many negative portents of a Russian-American détente in world politics appearing through the eight-week period of the Donald Trump presidency. I2n the frenetic rush of current history, we fail to take note of nascent processes, only to grasp with hindsight that the kaleidoscope had inclined ever so slightly, causing a shift in the symmetrical pattern. To be sure, the security of the Greater Middle East — arc stretching from the Levant to Central Asia’s steppes — hinges on the extent to which US-Russia cooperation becomes possible. However, any new policy direction toward Russia on the part of the Trump administration can only crystallise at a glacial pace. Syria beckons the future of US-Russia détente. Politics is a seamless web. Progress anywhere makes progress everywhere more likely. Any Russian-American cooperation to fight terrorism in Syria may inevitably “spill over” to Iraq — and, almost unavoidably, to Libya — and, perhaps even to Yemen. Can Afghanistan be far behind? Trump has shown sensible aversion toward committing good money to kick-start a dubious second “surge” in Afghanistan – this time around, without a timeline, until the war is won. He underscored in his address to the US Congress recently that the $6 trillion Washington spent in...

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