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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

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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