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For Duma, Putin's Policies Are a No-Brainer

Published: July 1, 2014 (Issue # 1817)




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According to the laws of evolution, an unused organ gradually atrophies and finally devolves into a vestigial organ. This law is used to explain why a monkey's tail eventually became nothing more than a tailbone in humans. And in exactly the same way, the Russian parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, has atrophied into a mostly pointless political tailbone in the country's government, becoming a body without a brain.

This was demonstrated when the Federation Council, upon President Vladimir Putin's request, dutifully revoked his authority to send Russian troops into Ukraine. Putin's request was illogical and absurd. When the Federation Council first granted Putin the authority to intervene in Ukraine on March 1, it did not obligate him to use force, but only permitted it. By asking lawmakers to essentially tie his hands, it would seem that Putin does not trust himself to behave rationally. Perhaps he believes that, in a fit of madness, he might order a full-on invasion of eastern Ukraine.

However, during a visit to Austria, Putin awkwardly explained that he had needed the authority granted him on March 1 for the sole purpose of annexing Crimea. Now that Crimea has been incorporated into Russia, the right to use military force is no longer necessary. As Putin openly explained, the Russian military enabled Crimean residents to fully express their will, an impeccably democratic and legal action. Or translated from politico-speak, Russia used its military to grab a sizable chunk of a neighboring state's territory.

Now, in his letter to Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko, Putin argues that the earlier decision to permit the use of troops should be revoked "in order to normalize and resolve the situation in Ukraine's eastern regions." He thus effectively confirms that the earlier threat of the use of Russian troops placed an obstacle in Kiev's path in its attempts to come to terms with the Donbass separatists.

Behind all of these extremely awkward verbal gymnastics, Putin is trying to hide the obvious fact that the Kremlin is frightened by the prospect of further Western sanctions. According to news reports, the U.S. and European Union have already agreed to implement damaging sectoral sanctions should they believe Russia to be working to further destabilize Ukraine.

The only way Putin can delay them is to show that he has no intention of invading Ukraine's eastern and southern regions. The problem is that nobody believes his promises anymore. Recall that just days before Russia annexed Crimea, Putin announced that no such move was under consideration. And now he is attempting to provide convincing evidence that Moscow has no intention of seizing eastern and southern Ukraine. And to that end, he had to order the entire Federation Council to do a humiliating about-face and force it to revoke his earlier authority.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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