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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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