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This week’s Open Thread.

***

@ak

More notable posts since the last Open Thread in case you missed any of them.

***

Featured

***

Russia

***

World

  • US declares IRGC is a terrorist organization, Iran reciprocates designating CENTCOM as same. More rhetoric, or are we again trending towards wars for freedumb (and flagging approval ratings)?
  • Andrew Yang’s op-ed on CNN
  • Audacious Epigone: Support for Eugenics, by Race
  • Peter Frost: They really are smart … and other surprises
    • Expects large scale African migration into demographically weakening China later this century. I can see this happening. As spandrell says, Chinese HBD realism is folksy, not “scientific”. Flimsy foundations against the Poz storm.

***

Science & Culture

***

Humor & Powerful Takes

***

 
• Tags: Open Thread, Russiagate 
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Prokudin-Gorsky. Malorossiya, c.1905-1915.

In the 24 hours since the results of the second round of the Ukrainian Presidential elections became known, there has been a strange convergence of views on Ukraine’s course under President-Elect Zelensky from opposite sides of the barricades. Many “svidomy” Ukrainians are in tears over their “hoodwinked” or “stupid” compatriots electing a “clown” and Putler puppet as President. Meanwhile, a significant number of “Russophile” commenters – for once, not just Westerners, but even Russian nationalists – are besides themselves with glee, portraying this as a “rejection of the Maidan” and “anti-Russian hysteria.” This idea that the Dark Lord of the Kremlin has just subverted yet another plucky little democracy is also a major, if not dominant, theme in current discussions on large Western forums such as /r/worldnews.

As it so happens, all of these people are almost certainly wrong. Let’s recap some facts about Zelensky that I am sure will be rather inconvenient for all of these people:

  1. He is sponsored by Kolomoysky, a self-styled “Zhidobandera” (Jewish Banderist). He is the main sponsor of Dnepropetrovsk-based Right Sector, which played a key role in putting down pro-Russian rebellions in East Ukraine during 2014. He is also closely associated with hardline Dnepropetrovsk mayor Boris Filatov, whose proposed solution to the separatist problem is to “give the bastards all sorts of promises, guarantees, and concessions… And then hang them.”
  2. He is also supported by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the Kharkov-based sponsor of the far right Azov Batallion.
  3. He donated one million grivnas of his own earnings to the ATO.
  4. In the debates, he has stated that he supports Poroshenko’s work on building up the Ukrainian military, anti-Russian language laws, and his schismatic church. He said he would continue those policies, but with less stealing.
  5. His proposed Defense Minister, Ivan Aparshin, is staunchly pro-NATO, and his main beef with Poroshenko was his haplessness on military corruption. Many other members of his team are Maidan activists, including foreigns from the Baltics and Georgia, who were sidelined after the Maidan or left on account of disillusionment over continuing failures to tackle corruption.
  6. He has come out against autonomy for the Donbass, and against amnesty for the rebels. This effectively translates into repudiating Minsk II, just like Poroshenko. He has also ruled out against speaking to the rebels directly, and even wants to remove Viktor Medvedchuk – a politician with close ties to Putin who now plays a key role as a liaison between the Kremlin and the Bankova – from any negotiations.
  7. Moreover, he has stated he wants to expand the current Normandy Format to also include the UK and the USA, those well known epicenters of Russophile sentiment in the West.
  8. He intends to start paying out pensions to the Donbass again. While one can interpret this as an attempt at reconciliation, it is more logical – given the above – to interpret it as a statement that the Ukraine really is serious about getting those territories back. Many Ukrainian nationalists from Lvov don’t really view the Donbass as a core or integral part of the Ukraine; indeed, many of them are willing to accept cutting it off entirely as the price of consolidating their nation-state. Ukrainian nationalists from Dnepropetrovsk, the center of gravity of Zelensky’s support, do not share that outlook.
  9. There are doubtless heroes. Stepan Bandera is a hero for a certain percentage of Ukrainians, and that’s perfectly cool and normal. He is one of the people who defended Ukraine’s freedom.

Now just to be clear, I am not saying that Zelensky will be a “svidomy”, anti-Russian ideologue. He certainly cares much less for “culture war” issues such as Bandera, and soon after the Maidan, he even criticized the practice of banning Russian performers from the Ukraine. I allow that much of the above – especially the parts relevant to Donbass – are more campaign rhetoric than policy. There will now probably (hopefully) be fewer statues of Russian generals and statesmen getting toppled (generals who played a key role in opening up Novorossiya to Ukrainian settlement in the first place), there will be fewer gratuitous restrictions on the Russian language (most of which are not enforced), there will probably (hopefully) be fewer stupid, sovok-svidomy laws banning most of the Russian Internet (even if the Ukraine seems to be too incompetent to actually enforce them).

All I am saying is that the facts do not warrant getting ones hopes up about any imminent Russo-Ukrainian reconciliation.

Why? Because even if I am wildly wrong on all this, and Zelensky really is a hardcore Russophile in real life – as opposed to just in Poroshenko’s PR – there are a whole series of structural factors that will hamper any such efforts.

***

First, despite a few tentative signs of improvement, Russia and the Russian vector is much less popular in the Ukraine now than it was before 2014.

These elections showed that the pre-elections polls were very accurate. According to those polls, Poroshenko would have lost to any of the major opposition candidates, with the sole exception of… Yury Boyko. Now Boyko is a classic representative of the old Party of Regions (now Opposition Bloc), complete with the pre-elections flight to Moscow to ask for lower gas prices. Between Boyko and Vilkul – the latter is an Akhmetov-sponsored spoiler to ensure that Boyko wouldn’t make it into the second round in Poroshenko’s stead – this “Blue” or “sovok” faction gained 15% of the votes in the first round*. For comparison, the division was around 50/50 before 2014. Moreover, Boyko was the only major politician projected to lose in a head to head against Poroshenko, while anybody else was projected to win with handsome margins. So even a “classic” Party of Regions-style candidate would have lost to an extremely unpopular politician who jacked up gas prices and failed to do anything about corruption while reading the hoi polloi lectures about “Army. Faith. Language”, multiplying his wealth many times over, and sending family members gallivanting around London.

Legend: Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia [blue]; Russian attitudes towards Ukraine [orange]

As I have previously explained in rather exhaustive detail, this is part of a general “westwards” shift on the Ukrainian political compass. This shift occured as a result of both demographic change – the loss of Crimea and the most pro-Russian, urban part of the already Russophile Donbass; and of social change – Ukrainian anger over Russia stoking civil war in their lands, or outright “invading” them (opinions differ). The combined effect equals an approximately one standard deviation decline in “Russophile” sentiment. Before 2014, Ukrainians were 50/50 on joining EU vs. Eurasian Union, ~85% against joining NATO. Now the EU is vastly more popular, while opinion on NATO is 50/50.

Now on the Ukrainian political compass, Zelensky is a centrist; neither a svidomy, not a sovok (as was the old division). But as per above, that “center” has moved much further west after 2014, as Kiev became like Galicia used to be, Dnepropetrovsk became like Kiev used to be, and Kharkov/Odessa became like Dnepropetrovsk used to be. Zelensky, in this situation, is as centrist as can be – for instance, whereas the “svidomy” late Poroshenko enshrined the goal of NATO membership in the Constitution, Zelensky now promises a referendum on the matter. A hypothetical “centrist” Ukrainian President would not be raising that issue at all before 2014.

Second, there are long-standing structural factors ensuring that Ukrainian politicians – even those that campaign on a pro-Russian platform – rapidly drift west relative to their constituents. That is because the Ukrainian elites are much more Western-orientated than the proles – adjusting for geography (the famous west-east Russophile gradient), and for age structure (younger people are more pro-Western), both pro-Western and Ukrainian nationalist sentiments increase with education**. Even a large percentage of Party of Regions elites (if not rank and file voters) are Westernizers. And the oligarchs, of course, hold their offshore accounts in Western jurisdictions. This means westwards drift in the wake of any election.

Third, Zelensky’s political capital is meager, only appearing large in relation to Poroshenko’s trainwreck. Ukrainian voters will soon realize he is not a miracle worker who will defeat corruption in a day, actualize their “tyscha v den'” (1,000 grivna per day, or 1,000 Euros per month), and end the war on Ukraine’s terms while forcing Russia to cough up reparations. So his ratings will start plummeting like those of all previous Ukrainian leaders. One area of particular concern is Kolomoysky, who has – in an event of impeccable timing – just won a series of court cases that allow him to stop contributing surety payments towards financing PrivatBank, which was nationalized by the Ukrainian state to save it from bankruptcy in December 2016. Apart from the direct effects of allowing PrivatBank to collapse, it also threatens an immediate cutoff of almost $4 billion worth of IMF funding. And come the end of this year, Nord Stream II is projected to come online, which will annul the great bulk of Kiev’s $3 billion worth of annual gas transit revenue. These are serious sums for a state with a nominal GDP of not much more than $124 billion.

Now I am not saying that the Ukraine necessarily faces a serious fiscal-debt crisis. I am expressly not one of those people who have predicted all ten of Ukraine’s zero collapses in the past half decade. However, what it does mean is that the Ukraine should not count on any extra cash coming in, so the austerity that killed Poroshenko’s popularity will have to continue for the indefinite future (just one day in, Zelensky has already poured cold water on his more rosy-eyed supporters by rejecting any decreases in utilities tariffs). Neither the Ukrainian deep state nor the oligarchs (insofar as they are even separate) are interested in a genuine anti-corruption campaign, and both hardcore svidomy nationalists and the military establishment view him with suspicion (the General Staff Tweeted an implicit condemnation of him after he called the LDNR forces “rebels”, instead of the politically correct “terrorists”). There are vested interests in keeping the Donbass War gig alive – neither hot, nor frozen – as it enriches many people through contraband, kickbacks on supply contracts, etc.

It is hard to see how Georgian libertarians, reactivated Maidan activists, and promises to legalize weed and gambling can be competitive with entrenched oligarchs, suspicious siloviks, and an electorate subjected to indefinite austerity. Once Zelensky’s approval rate begins to plummet, his position becomes precaurious and his options on pursuing any radically new policies with respect to Russia will dwindle.

Finally, there is also, of course, the banal fact that even though there is scant evidence that Zelensky is Putin’s stooge in any sane definition of the word, the association has still been made. This make provoke a similar dynamic to what happened with President Trump after the 2016 US elections, who was forced to pursue a much harder line than he wanted to as a candidate on Russia just to “prove” that he was not beholden to the Kremlin.

***

In my previous post on the future of Russia-Ukrainian relations, I posited a “Georgization” of Ukraine’s relations with Russia:

However, I think it is reasonable to posit that – all else equal, and with no drastic developments (e.g. a Democratic President in the US that has it out for Russia and starts to energetically lobby for Ukraine’s NATO membership, like George W. Bush in his second term) – that Ukraine’s course and social attitudes will converge to some point between those of Moldova and Georgia. This means the resumption of normal economic relations between Russia and the Ukraine, and direct flights between Moscow and Kiev. However, the victory of pro-Russian forces in the Ukraine has been ruled out for the foreseeable future, it will be consistently voting with the Western Powers at the UN, and deepening its security integration with NATO and EU structures as the opportunity presents itself.

This is still a possible – and, of course, positive – scenario.

For instance, Igor Ivanov, the head of a prominent foreign relations thinktank RIAC, has just written an article in Kommersant by (summarized in English here) in which he argues that the Ukraine crisis has effectively blocked productive relations between Russia and the West for the past half decade, to the detriment of both. One of his suggestions is to form a high-level Contact Group, as was the case in Bosnia. It even suggests expansion of the Normandy Format to include the US. This would be a stepping stone to discussion of “broader issues of European security architecture,” which is “indispensable for a complete resolution of the Ukraine crisis.”

That said, I don’t know how much pull (if any) these people – mostly systemic liberals who want reconciliation with the West – have within the Presidential Administration.

So far, I would make a couple of perhaps more germane observations. First, Putin has yet to congratulate or even to recognize Zelinsky as the winner of the elections (he took a month to recognize Poroshenko in 2014, whereas Yanukovych was congratulated and recognized after a couple of days). Zhirinovsky has even suggested that the disenfranchisement of Ukrainian voters in Russia could be used as a pretext not to recognize Zelinsky at all. Second, as I have mentioned, there have been rumors of mass giveouts of Russian passports in the Donbass since early this year; rumors which have just recently made their way into the Ukrainian media. This would effectively complete the LDNR’s Transnistrianization. Considering their current status of legal limbo, and the political impracticality of shoving them back into Ukraine unconditionally, this would also be the humanitarian thing to do.

In any case, today’s report in Komsomskaya Pravda suggests that no final decisions have yet been taking, and that the kremlins are now waiting for Zelensky to clarify his contradictory statements on the Donbass (i.e. promising to end the war, but rejecting autonomy and amnesty). One of the key questions going forward: Was Zelensky serious about ignoring Minsk II, or was it just campaign rhetoric?

***

* Speculative alternate history path of victory for Poroshenko: Get somebody with a similar cool/populist profile to Zelensky to run as well, and split his vote (e.g. Vakarchuk); don’t rig the vote in Donetsk, and allow the Ukrainians in Russia to vote, propelling Boyko just ahead of Tymoshenko; beat Boyko in the second round.

** Incidentally, as I have pointed out, the latter correlation in particular is very unusual in the modern world, though it was common in the age of European nationalism during the late 19th century.

 
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Big Red Scary comments:

According to the Venerable Bede, the English word “Easter” comes from the name of an Anglo-Saxon month, which in turn was named after the goddess Eostre. With that in mind, “Easter worshipper” sounds decidedly pagan, which perhaps explains its popularity in this clique.

This “Easter worshipper” thing is a new literary construction created for the sole purpose of not mentioning Christianity.

/r/The_Donald user comments:

The oldest result I can find on Google is 1983 in the NYTimes. It doesn’t crop up again until 1994 (some weird blog) and nothing after that until 2000, yet it only really took off today. I’m sure a more detailed search would reveal additional uses of the term in the past, but it’s still very strange.

So weird that both of the two most prominent Dems, as well as one of their candidates, would all that Tweet that within ~3 hours of each other. Did they plan it out in some kind of globalist teleconference?

And then Blue Checkmarks “wonder” why conspiracy theories are on the rise.

***

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Christianity, Conspiracy, Globalism 
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Zelensky [green] vs. Poroshenko [red] via @vybory_91

Raw results here.

With 99.74% of votes counted as of the time of writing, Zelensky is at 73.22% to 24.46% to Poroshenko. The sole region where Poroshenko won was in Lvov oblast.

Zelensky [green] vs. Poroshenko [red] abroad via @vybory_91.

Raw results here.

Poroshenko’s best performance: Canada, where Chrystia Freeland lives – 74%; USA – 72%, UK – 70%. Diaspora is even more svidomy than Lvov, but they are hardly representative. While they are good commenters, this is something to bear in mind wrt AP and Mr. Hack.

Even in Poland & Czechia more Ukrainian Gastarbeiters voted for Zelensky than for Poroshenko. I had an explanation as to why in my post on Ukraine’s (near) unique status as a place where better educated people lean more nationalist (after adjusting for geographic patterns, age structure, etc).

So successful American-Ukrainian professionals vote for Poroshenko through the same underlying mechanisms that Russian-Americans tend to favor liberal anti-Putin candidates, or why American year abroad students in Europe feel ashamed about Trump. While more redneck type Ukrainians toiling on construction sites in Poland don’t care as much.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Elections, Ukraine 
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I looked at all the people with more than a 2% chance of becoming US President in 2020 according to PredictIt.

There are some patterns here.

Biden: Hasn’t Tweeted since April 19.

Not a credible contender, but honorary mention goes to:

 
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The second round of the Ukrainian elections are this Sunday.

* Zelensky is almost certainly going to win (PredictIt has had him at ~95% for weeks now). It looks like he is going to blow Poroshenko out, probably something like Zelensky 67% vs. Poroshenko 30%.

* Unless plans change I’ll be discussing the Ukrainian elections live on Prosvirnin’s stream on Sunday evening (Moscow time).

* Two things that can save Poroshenko: (1) Last minute disqualification of Zelensky; (2) Еlectoral fraud on a scale that puts anything Putin/United Russia has done to shame.

The first will very likely lead to another Maidan, though in the eastern cities, not Kiev. There is currently a last minute court case to disquality Zelensky as a candidate based on alleged vote buying. It seems to be the private initiative of a svidomy lawyer and its unclear whether it would even have the appropriate jurisdictional strength.

The second will have the same result, but it is even more impractical, because Poroshenko looks like a loser, and the bureaucrats at the Central Electoral Commissions and the teachers/government workers manning the counting booths are not going to stick their necks out for someone who will almost certainly be gone soon.

* DEBATE. I watched the Poroshenko vs. Zelensky debate in Kiev’s main football stadium on April 19.

Main takeaway from Ukrainian debates is the very low level of political culture there. Even US prez. debates look cerebral in comparison. It’s how I imagine such debates go in Third World tinpot democracies.

There was precisely *zero* discussion of policy.

Just insults and mudslinging over who stole more money and dumb theatrics like kneeling to display respect to Donbass veterans (for anyone interested in the details: Poroshenko knelt to the vets in his team on one knee, Zelensky knelt before the assembled crowd on both knees).

Since Poroshenko is an oligarch as opposed to just being sponsored by one, and was in power these past five years, fights over who stole more was not a “debate” that he could win.

For his part, Zelensky said he will continue Poroshenko’s program – he specifically praised the Army reforms, the abortive creation of the Ukrainian Church, the bezviz, etc. – but he would do it better and will less corruption.

He would also end the war, but also somehow return not just the Donbass but even Crimea. How he would accomplish any of that was not specified. These are germane questions, since just like Poroshenko, he has also said he will not abide by Minsk II.

I think these were pretty much the only soundbytes that actually touched on policy however tangentially. All the rest was slights and insults, grandstanding, and veiled (and not so veiled) threats to imprison the other guy.

There were some deluded people on Twitter who thought that these Ukrainian debates would influence or “inspire” Russians, get them to start asking why they can’t also have such performances. First, there are plenty of circuses in Russia, so that’s a factually incorrect premise from the very start. Second, Russia even has political debates during elections. They are nothing to write home about either, but even so, the typical debate between the commie, LDPR, and liberal representative actually has significantly more substance than this Ukrainian zoo. Yes, Putin doesn’t participate in these debates. But he is not legally required to. And there is no point for an incumbent President with vastly higher approval ratings than any of his competitors to engage in debates. If Poroshenko’s and Zelensky’s approval ratings were reversed, it is extremely unlikely that Poroshenko would have debated him either. As it was, that was Poroshenko’s only chance – however far-fetched – of reversing the awning disparity in ratings between them, and he failed.

* Real Junta When? Ukrainian military is not happy with Zelensky for calling LDNR separatists “rebels” during his debate with Poroshenko, as opposed to “terrorists.” This really triggered the svidomy, even though Internet sleuths have since uncovered plenty of occasions on which Poro has called them “rebels” himself. Anyhow, I will be genuinely impressed with the Ukraine if they go ahead and do a military coup, but I’m sure they’ll disappoint as usual.

Anyhow, on a more serious note, with political capital in the form of 70% of the vote, I don’t see Zelensky getting seriously challenged in the near future.

* As I wrote in my previous post, this summer-autumn will likely see Russia begin to give out Russian passports to LDNR residents on a massive scale, creating a Transnistria situation.

Possibly Zelensky can prevent this by recomitting to Minsk II – autonomy within the Ukraine, and amnesty for rebel fighters – but I don’t think he’ll be able to do this even if he wanted to. Like Trump, he has been painted as a Russian stooge even though he is nothing of the sort, so there’s a chance that – if anything – he will have to take a harder line on the Donbass than Poroshenko, who has barked a lot but hasn’t bit much since 2015. Accepting Russian citizenship implies losing Ukrainian citizenship, paving the way for nominally legal mass deportations of Ukraine’s problematic Donbass citizens into Russia in the wake of any future Operation Storm. This is not something that Russia could politically accept. So – five years after the initial optimism and referenda on joining Russia in May 2014 – it looks like we might finally get a timeline for the Donbass’ journey home.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Elections, Ukraine, War in Donbass 
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Alexander Chalenko.

There are many forms of Ukrainian identity. The svidomy believe that the Ukraine is a purely autochthonous entity, whose “Russian” achievements were stolen by Muscovy (Richard Sakwa, more politely, calls them “monists”). There are “pluralists” who believe that they share a common cultural and genetic ancestry with Russia and Belorussia in the medieval Rus state, which partially translates into integrationist sentiments. But there are also those who believe that the Ukraine is simply one particular local expression of Russianism. The latter were never anywhere near the majority on the ground, and after 2014, they are probably in the low single digits (e.g. as proxied by the percentage of Ukrainian citizens who now say they support union with Russia: Once around 15%-20%, now down to 4%). However, these people do exist, and some of them are willing to make the case publicly.

One example is Alexander Chalenko, a journalist who fled the Ukraine in 2014 ahead of politicized charges after the Maidan. Having been reasonably influential at one point – he has apparently hobnobbed with Poroshenko and several other Ukrainian bigwigs on at least a few occasions – he now lives in Moscow and writes columns for the Ukraina.ru project. This is despite the fact that he is an ethnic Ukrainian himself; as he said, his grandparents had “Ukrainian” stamped onto their passports.

To the extent that he identifies with his Ukrainian roots, he prefers to use the term “South Russian.” Even so, he is not quite a classical Russian nationalist either – or at least, not what is often associated with Russian nationalism. More on that later.

Anyhow, as part of my (strategically questionable?) project to acquaint Anglophones with actually-existing-Russian-nationalism beyond the Wikipedia entry on Foundations of Geopolitics, here is a detailed breakdown of Chalenko’s main theses/points:

1. Difference between Russians and Ukrainians? He recounts having an argument with a svidomy, in which he challenged his interlocutor to name one concrete difference between Russians and Ukrainians. After pondering, the svidomy replied, “The Ukrainians fry their potatoes in salo.”

2. The War in Donbass: Obviously, he said a lot about this, but it can be summarized thus:

  • Smol brain: Russian-Ukrainian war [standard Western/Kiev narrative]
  • Normal brain: Ukrainian civil war [after all, 80% of LDNR combatants even in 2014 were Ukrainian citizens]
  • Galaxy brain: Russian civil war

(Someone should make this into a meme).

3. Little Russia is a peasant culture. But for that matter, so is Great Russia. In fact, he repeatedly stresses the viewpoint that the foundation of the Russian nation was only laid c.1800, above all by Alexander Pushkin. Moreover, Chalenko – despite his personal anti-Semitism – argues that this nation was only actualized under Stalin, as he defined a nation through urbanization, mass literacy, and mass culture, not ethnicity. Incidentally, he is obviously, he is a civic nationalist, not an ethnonationalist.

(While I don’t disagree with this 100%, I disagree more than I agree. I am very receptive to Azar Gat’s arguments that nations are not exclusively modern constructs, and consider the Russian nation to have emerged within the medieval Russian state. Certainly the people who wrote the chronicles wrote of the “Russian lands” as an ethnocultural whole, and there was at least the expectation that individual principalities owed some degree of loyalty to it. And while I am not into “hard” racialism, there do seem to be hard limits to the ethnic churn a nation can undergo before it phase transitions into something else. These are not fringe positions, and there was in fact plenty of both agreement and disagreement with Chalenko on that score from the other nationalists, conservatives, etc. assembled in the room. However, this does demonstrate the diversity of views that actually exist within the Russian nationalism.)

3. Vyshivanka. He dislikes both the Ukrainian vyshivanka and the Russian kosovorotka (incidentally, these are basically the same thing). And indeed made light fun of Kholmogorov and Dugin for their habit of indulging them. But note that the vyshivanka has only become a national symbol in the Ukraine, not in Russia. This sort of cultural parochialism doesn’t happen in real European countries. While I do like the aesthetics of the vyshivanka/kosovorotka, and wouldn’t even mind wearing one myself – why should the entire world dress like 19th century Brits? – the people who strut about in them are regarded as a bit weird in Russia. Not so in the Ukraine.

4. Galician separatism FTW! Russian nationalists used to have some counterintuitively nice relationships with Galician neo-Habsburgists, whose ambitions are largely limited to their own small shire. Not with Banderists, because Banderists want a *unitary* fascist Ukraine from the Carpathians to the Don – a project that became increasingly realistic after the Orange Revolution in 2004, and reached fruition a decade later. Neo-Habsburg larpers were good allies of convenience because they also want to dismantle the Ukrainian entity so as to not to have to associate with Donbass sovoks and assorted riffraff. I suspect that Chalenko would get along with our AP. Obviously that became irrelevant after 2014, since that was when getting the whole pie (or almost all of it, with the exception of Crimea and the Donbass) became possible and even probable.

5. Russia is a European nation. This also translates into Europhilia: He considers Russian propaganda against Europe and European values (e.g. “eurogays”) to be stupid and embarassing; village behavior. However, by dint of that same fact, Russia should act as the equals of the other European nations, informing the “Western partners” that Russia will be reunited regardless of their opinions on the matter. So I suppose you can interpret this post as spreading the message. 🙂 Indeed, he frames modern Russian irredentism as a classically European phenomenon, often comparing it to the Risorgimento and other 19th century “springtimes of peoples.” Quote: “You Russians don’t have the right to abandon us South Russians.

6. You might like Europe, but Europe doesn’t much like you. This was my question/criticism addressed to him (1:48:30 on the video).

What to do about the ensuing total Western sanctions when he sends Russian tanks to Kiev?

There wasn’t, unfortunately, a clear answer to that question. Or how to resolve the contradiction between these geopolitical ambitions and maintaining a firm European orientation. (Like many liberal Russian nationalists, he is dismissive of China).

7. Complaints:

(a) Russia doesn’t do enough to fund/promote soft power, so things like the Ukraine debacle keep happening over and over again. This is something I have written much about myself and I see no need to repeat them again.

(b) The “authoritarian-bureaucratic system” that rules Russia (his words – but pretty accurate) isn’t responsive. Many Ukrainian political refugees have had difficulties getting Russian passports, and a few were even deported (e.g. Marina Menshikova; Olena Boyko would be a more recent example).

8. Russian passports in Donbass? One revelation for me was that there was some limited support within the Presidential Administration for handing out Russian passports en masse to LDNR residents in 2015, but it was vetoed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it would violate Minsk II.

However, this idea is apparently getting resurrected. People close to Donbass affairs have been semi-publicly hinting at it for a few months, but with Chalenko also mentioning it, and now the Ukrainian media crawling all over it in the past days, my strong suspicion that this is for real. Now there were some fears in these circles that the kremlins may have wanted to postpone it again, in order to attempt a “reset” once Zelensky takes over from Poroshenko. However, a couple of days ago, Zelensky went on record against providing any special status to the LDNR or amnesty for the rebel leaders. This is completely incompatible with Minsk II, so there’s an excellent change that mass Russian passportization – the model used in Transnitria – really will go ahead this summer.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nationalism, Russia, Svidomy, The AK, Ukraine, War in Donbass 
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I looked at this question in depth in 2016 (see “Trump Is Factually Right on Crimea“).

TLDR: Yes, the did, and overwhelmingly so.

Opinion Polls

I am not going to go over this again, since I’d mostly just be repeating the older post. Suffice to say that since 2016, nothing has changed.

In a VCIOM poll this March marking the 5 year anniversary, some 93% of Crimeans said they have a positive view on joining Russia, and 89% said they would vote to join Russia if the referendum was to be run again.

The sole post-unification/annexation [cross out as per ideological preferences] “poll” to show ambiguity on the question is from the Russian President’s Human Rights Council. However, this was not a poll, as I pointed out at the time, but the personal opinion of a single member of the Council, Yevgeny Bobrov, who based his assessment on conversations with a couple dozen unnamed “activists.”

Incidentally, I was amused to see that Yevgeny Bobrov was put on Ukraine’s Myrotvorets blacklist either way, as commenter E commented – despite the minor propaganda he generated for them.

***

Ukrainian Leaders

Speaking of commenter E, he also had a much lengthier treatment of internal political discussions between top Maidan politicians during the Crimean Crisis, in which they acknowledged the vast majority of Crimeans backed the transfer:

***

http://www.rnbo.gov.ua/files/2016/stenogr.pdf
The host site of that document, rnbo.gov.ua, is the homepage of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, currently led by the same Turchinov who was Acting President of Ukraine back then. That’s pretty convincing as proof that it’s legitimate.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a fully transcribed version, much less a translation into English. I’m not great at reading Ukrainian myself. I did find that most (but not quite all) of the text in the PDF can be copied+pasted into Google Translate.

Anyway, here are some of my own translations of relevant sections concerning the Ukraine elite’s beliefs about public opinion in Crimea (I mostly translated the Ukrainian into Russian, then that into English, manually fixing any mistakes along the way):

The 2nd paragraph of pg. 6 is where Valentin Nalivaychenko admits that the idea of joining Russia enjoys mass support in Crimea:

The fourth point concerning the situation in the Crimea is the mass support of the population for the actions of the Russian Federation.

2nd paragraph, pg. 8: Nalivaychenko:

Our military and security forces are demoralized. many of them do not recognize the new government and are not ready to carry out orders, or have already betrayed their oath. The situation in the Navy of Ukraine is especially difficult. There are signed letters of resignation, including by the Commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. The moral and psychological climate of the leadership is extremely low, if not entirely treasonous.

p.9 paragraphs 2&3, Avakov (Minister of Internal Affairs):

Separately, I’ll say that the majority of the population of Crimea takes a pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian position. This is the risk we need to take into account. We are establishing communications with employees who have not betrayed us, but among the police these are very few.

p.12, Tenyukh (Ukraine’s Minister of Defense) replying to Turchinov (acting President of Ukraine), who is asking how many of Ukraine’s 15,000 nominal forces in the region would be willing to fight:

Difficult to answer. Most of the military are local contract soldiers. For them, service is money. You know the mood of the population in Crimea. There are also young people, conscripts who are unlikely to fight. Those who are ready to execute the order to use weapons will be 1.5-2 thousand maximum.

p. 16, Nalivaychenko:

Dear colleagues, I propose to invite to Kiev the leaders of Crimea’s Prosecutor’s Office, SBU and Police, because the vast majority of them are traitors. We need to know who is on our side now and who is not!

p.16-17, Vitaliy Yarema (General Prosecutor of Ukraine):

During the preparation of these preliminary steps, we discovered the dominant opinion of the civilian population. Since the premises of state institutions begin to be seized, they say, “If it’s fine to do it in Kiev, why we can’t we capture them in Crimea?”. Therefore, today I would like to address the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council Andriy Parubiy to vacate today the premises seized by the Samooborona [Self-defence forces of Maidan], as much as possible, in order to show that we have law and order…

(this suggestion was not discussed any further in the meeting, and no resolution was taken to implement it)

The only sort-of dissenting voice at the meeting was Acting President Turchinov (he also seems to admit that the Crimean public and elites are against Ukraine, but believes that their opinion is not very deeply-held and can be changed. He also, unlike the others, does not accept that the opinions of the Crimean “street” played a crucial role in the Maidan government’s quick loss of power in Crimea in the days preceding the referendum, believing that it was 100% due to the Russian troops. Turchinov’s view became the mainstream one among Western analysts), p.23-24:

The emphasis on the mass media is correct.
It’s very important that we appeal to the residents of the Crimean peninsula. They must understand that the Ukrainian government is not their enemy, that we are ready to solve their local problems. We need to dispel this myth that the Crimeans raised a rebellion against Ukraine. These are not Crimeans. It’s solely a military operation against a sovereign country. That’s why we need to inform them that these are not activists of any party or public structures, but the Russian military who are not even hiding their identity any more. It is very important to recite and to propagate this objective view of these events to Ukraine and all the world.
Andrei Vilenovich [Senchenko, head of Batkivshchyna party in Crimea], let’s have a few words concerning working with the Crimean elites. How can we drag the Crimean elite onto the side of Ukraine, and not the separatists?

I think this is the first time that any of this text has been translated into English… if anybody wants to use it, be my guest.

***

The Logic of Western Sanctions

One interesting aspect about the Western sanctions on Russia is that they affected Crimeans more so than Russians. Siemens has been fined for selling gas turbines that ended up in Crimea, gamers were barred from Steam, etc.

But if the Crimean referendum was rigged and illegitimate, as Kiev and the West have repeatedly argued, on what grounds are ordinary Crimeans getting punished for what is in fact Russian aggression?

Alternatively:

The Crimean referendum accurately reflected the will of the Crimean people. In that case, the US and EU sanctions on Crimea – already getting expressed in the forms of Crimean residents losing access to the services of Western companies and even getting their money confiscated[1] – are, in effect, to punish them for voting the wrong way. In other words, it is economic blackmail by any other name.

Consequently, the only logical, self-consistent explanation is that these sanctions – the ones above those imposed on Russia as a whole – are a way to punish Crimeans for voting to join Russia. Whose main point is a warning.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Crimea, Russia, Ukraine 
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It seems to be the one *major* country where the more intelligent – on average, and adjusting for the east/west gradient – vote for the “nationalist” candidate, Poroshenko.

And just to be clear, he has for all intents and purposes captured the nationalist niche, however unlikely. His slogan: “Army, Language, Faith.” Meanwhile, Zelensky talks of cutting down the time to start up a business to half an hour.

Apart from a few minor exceptions – the blogger Kireev noted Moldova, Latvia, and Lithuania – this would seem to make it unique amongst the bigger countries.

  • Lower IQ whites vote for Republicans, and especially for Trump (even if this effect is significantly confounded at the national level by greater minority support for Democrats).
  • Lower IQ French vote for Marine Le Pen.
  • Lower IQ Germans vote for the AfD, higher IQ ones vote for the Greens.
  • Lower IQ Britons vote for UKIP and Brexit.
  • Lower IQ Czechs vote for Zeman.
  • Lower IQ Russians vote for Putin and Zhirinovsky, while higher IQ ones vote for liberals.
  • Even Brazil is not an exception, despite even greater racial confounding than in the US (e.g. 64% of atheists supported Haddad).

Now let’s look at the Ukraine, or rather Kiev in particular, to adjust for regional patterns (e.g. country bumpkins from Ivano-Frankovsk are not going to be particularly intelligent, despite voting for Poroshenko; though for that matter, they support him less than do Galicians, and especially Lvov).

In Kiev, Zelensky got 27%, vs. 26% for Poroshenko, 13% for Tymoshenko, and 6% for Boyko.

Here is a map of Poroshenko [blue] vs. Zelensky [green] in first round of 2019 elections via Ukrainian data blogger @polottenchegg.

As one can see, it includes the central areas, more expensive areas.

This can also be confirmed at looking at results from particular polling stations, as Alexander Kireev did.

Poroshenko won outright in Kiev’s most central district, which includes the Maidan of Independence. Only 15% for Zelensky vs. 30% for Poroshenko.

In one prison, Zelensky led with 45%, with Tymoshenko at 31% and Poroshenko at just 3%. (Indeed, Tymoshenko is very popular with cons, like Zhirinovsky is in Russia).

Universities are popular with young people, and Zelensky is MUCH more popular with young people (e.g. one poll: 57% support amongst 18-20 y/o’s, just 22% amongst 50-59 y/o’s). So we should expect to see him dominate in university districts, even in Kiev (where he won overall, if narrowly). But we don’t: In the polling stations serving the (less prestigious) Kiev National University, he only got around ~35% in those districts, relative to Poroshenko’s ~30%. Zelensky did do rather better in the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute: Around 48% to Poroshenko’s 20%.

Finally, just as French expats vote overwhelmingly against the National Front, like Russian expats vote against Putin, like American expats vote against Trump – so Ukrainian expats overwhelmingly supported Poroshenko.

Map of worldwide Ukrainian voting in 2019 elections (first round) via Seva Bashirov. Poroshenko >50% [dark red], Poroshenko wins with <50% [red], Zelensky wins [green], Boyko wins [blue].

The two countries where the pro-Russian Boyko won (in the traditional Party of Regions way of being pro-Russian such as asking for lower gas prices) are Moldova and Estonia. He’d have probably won had Ukrainians in Russia been allowed to vote as well. This can be ascribed to ethno-cultural preferences for Russia. However, there is a clear contrast between Ukrainians in places such as Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia (young, lower educated Gastarbeiters), who voted for Zelensky, and Ukrainians in places such as Germany, the UK, or China (older, better educated expats and professionals).

Hilariously, it looks like the one type of nationalism that intelligent whites will support is Ukrainian svidomism.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Elections, Nationalism, Svidomy, Ukraine 
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It’s been a month since I predicted that Andrew Yang would be more than just a meme.

I wanted to check to see if this still holds true and that does seem to be the case.

1. He is on a steady 10% chance to take the Dem nomination at PredictIt.

2. He is getting ~3% in polls.

That might be well shy of the real “meme” candidate of the day (Buttigieg) and people with existing political capital and associated name recognition, but this is perfectly okay at this early stage of the game.

3. Much stronger support amongst younth people, e.g. 14% amongst 18-29 year olds in Nevada!

Unsurprisingly, young people want $1,000 more than older people, and spend more time on the Internet. This is part of why Yang now has the most powerful meme community after Bernie Sanders. (I am not even sure anybody will be memeing for Trump this time round).

4. Only Sanders and Buttigieg are consistently ahead of Yang in search intensity on Google Trends.

Biden surged ahead, but since that was people Googling him for his creepy videos, that’s hardly something to write home about. Beto is not even on the radar by now.

5. Subscriber counts on candidate subreddits:

Bernie Sanders, predictably, dominates. However, he has a massive head start by virtue of having been the second strongest candidate in the previous elections, having inherited his subscriber base.

Yang is the only other candidate competing head to head with Buttigieg, both having exploded out of nowhere very recently.

It would be pointless to make comparisons with Biden, who had four years of exposure as Obama’s VP. That said, I think his biggest sub, /r/BidenBro, only has just a bit more than 100,000 subscribers, which isn’t that impressive.

As a gray Establishment figurehead who doesn’t seem to do anything but utter the correct “woke” slogans (I have followed her on Twitter for a couple of months now), nobody could care less about Kamala.

5. Website visits (March 2019, SimilarWeb):

  • Yang 2020: 2.68 million
  • Bernie Sanders: 2.48 million
  • Pete for America: 750,000

Website visits (latest USA rank, Alexa):

  • Yang 2020: 3,012
  • Bernie Sanders: 3,945
  • Pete for America: 4,296

So he is also getting more people coming to his website than any other person, even Bernie. This is presumably explained by his extremely detailed set of policies.

I predicted in my original post that the real competition will be a threeway race between Sanders, Yang, and Harris.

Assuming Buttigieg is a temporary phenomenon, that seems to be coming along nicely.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Andrew Yang, United States, US Elections 2020 
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Meanwhile Jaakko Raipala comments about political developments in Finland:

***

You figured it out. The Finns party has been recovering from the party collapsing and splitting into two. They betrayed all their promises on immigration during the Merkel migrant crisis, the party rebelled against its sellout leaders and Halla-aho was chosen as the new party chairman.

All the old leaders of the Finns party quit in 2017 to protest the evil racist Halla-aho and started a new cuckservative party called Sininen Tulevaisuus (Blue Reform). This is the first election for the two parties and the sellout Blue Reform was wiped out to zero seats. The Finns party recovered its old vote so now we have one debate settled in this country – there is absolutely no voter base for virtue signaling over how opposition to immigration must be done with “clean”, “palatable” arguments that don’t use real ethnic crime statistics or race and IQ charts like Halla-aho does.

PS. … while Halla-aho is extremely based and redpilled, he wouldn’t be very popular on this blog as he is super Ukrainophile and pro-NATO. He’s a PhD level expert on East Slavic languages and he is the only Finn I’ve ever met that’s fluent in Ukrainian. He used to live in Kiev.

***

Well, as we just saw in my country, the HBD blogger turned politician who has been universally vilified in the media as the leading evil Nazi racist bigot white supremacist for two decades is now the most popular politician in Finnish history. Cucks who thought they should please the media more than their voters have been wiped out.

Just keep going. All the potential voters hate the media. The recipe for success is very simple:

1. Don’t be a Nazi. Really, just don’t be. It was a stupid ideology.
2. Watch as the media calls you a Nazi anyway
3. Harvest public sympathies from people who are tired of being called Nazis when they’re not

It worked very well for Trump, though of course Trump had the advantage that he was already a famous man so baseless Nazi accusations worked massively in his favor.

***

What are you talking about? 17.5 % is a strong result in these elections. The largest party are the Social Democrats with 17.7 % of the vote and the second largest is the Finns party with 17.5 % of the vote.

https://www.iltalehti.fi/eduskuntavaalit-2019/tulospalvelu#/

SDP = Social Democrats, PS = Finns party, KOK = cuckservative, KESK = cuckcentrist, VIHR = Greens, VAS = “former” communists, RKP = ethnic Swedes, KD = tiny Christian party

By personal vote totals, the biggest winner is Jussi Halla-aho with 30527 votes in his district – the highest parliamentary vote total in Finnish history for any candidate. This is the HBD blogger turned politician that I mentioned. (This comparison is not entirely fair of course since some districts have less population. They do try to equalize them but it’s impossible with the north that has no people.)

In Finland, you vote for a person and the total of personal votes gets calculated for the party. Seats are given to the parties based on that total and then personal vote totals within the party decide who goes in. Halla-aho is pulling the Finns party behind him as they sadly have no other stars.

This entire election was effectively a test of whether race realism, HBD blog posts and “hate speech” convictions are political disqualifiers for voters as Halla-aho has all that. Since he became the new leader of the Finns party after the party split in two, the strategy of all the other parties was reminding voters about how racist and evil Halla-aho is and how much more acceptable the other party that split off from the Finns is. This has been a total failure as the story of the election is that the Finns gathered back their vote share that had collapsed due to the party fracture and the other split off party was utterly destroyed down to zero seats.

Of course, the other parties will likely isolate the Finns and they won’t get into the government but this is a conclusive result that open race realism, “hate speech” convictions and blunt real talk is no vote loser at all for a nationalist party.

***

I should also add that Halla-aho scored the highest personal vote total in the election district of Helsinki, the purely urban district. Helsinki is the shitlib center of Finland, yet the most popular politician in Helsinki is a nationalist and a general believer in the exact opposite things of the urban SJW.

The second most popular candidate in Helsinki is the leader of the “former” communist, now multiculti LBGT “Left” party (and an ethnic Swede, fucking Swedes behind multiculturalism as usual). What we’re seeing is a new political alignment in the capital around a multiculti-SJW pole and a race realist, immigration focused nationalism pole. The youth is especially polarized so it will grow even more strict in the future.

The Finns party was built on the ruins of a party called the Finnish Rural Party. They used to score 0 % in Helsinki until immigration became an issue and people like Halla-aho showed up with their HBDish talking points.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Finland, Human Biodiversity, Politics 
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Which showed a new record in Stalinophia, with positive views of the mustachioed Georgian BDSM master now approaching 70%.

Here is a more interesting/original poll.

40% said they wanted the pensions they had under Stalin vs. 26% said they wanted the pensions they have under Putin.

Under Stalin, only bureaucrats and urban workers enjoyed pensions – kolkhoz workers only got them in 1956 – and they were extremely low relative to wages.

Anyhow, I wrote more indepth about modern Stalinophilia here: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/tribal-stalinism/

 
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I visited it sometime in the early 2000s. Too young to remember any details, but I’m sure it was a nice place.

I translated an article by Egor Kholmogorov back in 2013: Europe’s Week of Human Sacrifice. (Incidentally, this was my blog’s first ever Kholmogorov translation).

TBH, I can’t be bothered being as Christian and charitable as Kholmogorov!2013 these days. If the French couldn’t care less about their own civilization, why should I?

Probably spandrell’s question is more pertinent.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: France, Paris 
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My post about how it is very likely that Julian Assange sought asylum in the Russian Embassy before being refused has met some criticism, as well as outright allegations of making things up and being a Russophobe CIA troll.

Consequently, I feel the need to clear up a few issues.

Am I a lying homosexual ZioNazi CIA agent out to get Russia?

This is entirely up to you. Ultimately, I am just a blogger on the Internet.

But what I can say (and that Ron, at least, can confirm) is that I have been holding off from publishing this post for almost a year. That is because I did not think releasing it before Assange’s eviction was a good idea. As of April 11, 2019, this episode has passed on from “current politics” to “history.” With Assange’s asylum status terminated, there is no more need to keep him in Ecuador’s good graces. As for his coming extradition battle, online allegations of having sought out Russian help does not constitute a crime (and in any case his status as a “Russian puppet” is already well established in the Western MSM).

Are these claims Russophobic?

They can be considered to be so because they don’t exactly paint Russia in the best light. OTOH, let’s be realistic here for a second; Russia had no absolute obligations to go out of its way to protect Assange. Also, 2012 was not 2019. Relations with the West weren’t great, but we weren’t in a New Cold War.

Note that even today, Russia occasionally deports pro-Russian Ukrainian citizens back to the Ukraine, straight into the loving hands of the SBU secret police (e.g. Marina Menshikova; Olena Boyko would be a more recent example). While I personally do not like it that Russia refused Assange asylum, I personally find it orders of magnitude more outrageous that the Russian bureaucratic machine stabs its own direct supporters and sympathizers in the back every so often. Incidentally, though, this would be one more point of evidence in support of the theory that it refused asylum to Assange. If it does things like this to its direct supporters…

Contra an unfortunately large percentage of “Western Russophiles,” Russia is not on some great holy crusade against “AngloZionist Imperialism” today, let alone before the Ukrainian crisis. Note that even with respect to Snowden, who flew directly to Russia and whose only exit out was straight into the gaping maws of a vengeful US had to wait a considerable amount of time before acquiring temporary asylum. At the end of the day, the Russian state is going to be looking out for the Russian state’s interests, not so much those of foreign dissidents.

So you’re going by one anonymous source?

Also one who happens to have been an impeccable position to know had Assange applied for asylum. Far more so than RT chief editor Margarita Simonyan, for instance (who has said that Assange never asked her for help).

Apart from ethical considerations, I am obviously not going to burn a source because some trolls on Russia Insider are calling me a CIA agent or whatever.

Could he have misrepresented the situation to me? I suppose that is possible. (Though what would be the point in that?). If this was the only piece of evidence I had for this, it is unlikely I would have even written this post.

Indeed, I should point out that these claims went against my initial intuitions. Back in 2012, I wrote in “Assange Should Have Picked the Russian Embassy“:

I think ideology played a part. Assange is perpendicular to Russian views, not aligned with them. He is against Assad. He doesn’t like hierarchical power structures, including of the kind operating in Russia. Defecting to Russia he might as have seen as too big a betrayal of his core values.

Ecuador (at least in rhetoric) is far more concerned with stuff like giving legal rights to the environmental, social justice, people’s democracy, etc. Nor does it have the toxic reputation of Venezuela, Russia, China, and (increasingly) Argentina.

Tellingly, this idea that Assange was too independent to reach out to them is pretty much the gist of what Simonyan is saying now.

However, since then, there have been two major developments that have made me much more confident that my source was indeed correct.

1. As I wrote in the original post, a Russia-based journalist with very good connections (sorry – not going into any further details) told me that he has “heard the same.”

2. Also mentioned – the AP investigation last year, which showed that Assange sought and obtained a Russian visa with Israel Shamir’s help back in 2010.

Now unless that investigation has itself been disproven – has it? – then we must concede that Assange had no ethical compunctions against at least entertaining the idea of Putler’s “mafia state” as a potential bolthole.

So you see what happened here?

Not only did I get information from an excellent source – information which would, last year, be loosely corroborated by a journalist with excellent connections himself. I have no reason to think either of them were confabulating, short of a conspiracy theory in which the Russian Foreign Ministry was purposefully pushed these stories just to, I don’t know, paint themselves in a worse light. Then the AP investigation destroys the theory that Assange had ethical or moral qualms about seeking refuge in Russia, well before 2012.

Simonyan claims otherwise.

Simonyan has said that Assange never asked her for help, despite having productive communications (as you recall Assange did a series for RT at that time).

This is perfectly possible and compatible.

For instance, he may have put out feelers previously, and been rejected, and thus didn’t feel the need to broach the subject with her. Moreover, given that Simonyan has hinted that Assange might face the death penalty in the US, it is also perhaps just a little strange that she did not offer to pull a few strings and suggest he seek asylum at the Russian Embassy herself.

Or she’s lying. Or my source is lying. Or I am lying. Point is – there is no hard contradiction here.

Is this an attack on Putin?

If you think that Russia was very wrong to refuse Assange asylum, then yes, I suppose you could consider it an “attack” on Putin. If he was the one who made the decision.

But where did I say it was Putin who refused?

I said that the order came from the “the highest levels of the Russian government.”

In the context of this situation, it could have been Dmitry Medvedev (recall that Putin was only sworn in as President in May 2012; Assange defected to the Ecuador Embassy in August 2012).

Or it could have been Sergey Lavrov, as the head honcho at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

While Lavrov has a reputation as a hardliner in the West, this is something of a misrepresentation. For instance, it is more or less open knowledge amongst the Novorossiya crowd that the Russian Foreign Ministry placed a veto on handing out Russian passports en masse to Donbass residents back in 2015 because of muh Minsk Accords. Would an institution like this be open to the idea of ruffling feathers by giving asylum to some Australian hipster leaking government secrets and stating his intention of laying bare “authoritarian conspiracies”? This is a rhetorical question.

Why didn’t the other journalist scoop this?

Without going into unnecessary details: I am privileged, thanks to Ron, for having much more editorial freedom than the vast majority of journalists.

***

At the end of the day, this question of whether or not Assange asked Russia for asylum is now a largely historical one. It might have made waves in 2012, or even in 2016. Now this is a historical curiosity much more than anything else. It seems pretty stupid to get overly emotional about it.

Personally, I am 95% confident that Assange asked for asylum and got refused.

Thing is, at this point, even if this were to be confirmed 100%, it wouldn’t really change anything. Assange could credibly claim to be neutral towards/disassociated from Russia in 2012, now he cannot – for reasons much bigger than having considered it as a potential refuge in the early 2010s. It also demonstrates that Russia was not particularly seeking out conflict with the United States; this, given the current reality of the New Cold War, is largely irrelevant, except perhaps to historians decades in the future. Now yes, this should make one cautious about relying on the charity and goodwill of the Russian government a bit too much. But if you didn’t know that already, you haven’t been paying attention.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Julian Assange, Russia, Wikileaks 
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Leonid Volkov is Navalny’s long-standing campaign manager.

Translation: “A day of good news: Al-Bashir and Assange have overstayed their welcome, both are in need of a court, and neither deserve a drop of pity.

One problem of Russian liberals from Novodvorskaya down to Navalny is that they are not so much liberals as American stooges*. This would be Exhibit #532,783.

There are plenty of niches for oppositionism in Russia. There is a niche for more social welfare. There is a niche for nationalism. There is a niche for anti-corruption. There are even niches for human rights from Internet freedoms to LGBT. But there is not much of a niche for American stoogedom.

Gallup: 1% of Russians Approve of US Leadership. That also happens to be Navalny’s current trust rating.

I sometimes wonder what drives people like Volkov to so aggressively signal their subservience to America. It certainly can’t help their political prospects. I suppose their hatred of their own country is so deep that they just can’t help themselves.

He also blocks all critics on Twitter and engages in stalkerish behavior towards women.

That said, I feel that the new generations of Russian liberals appearing now seem to be a cut above the frankly cartoonishly Russophobic cohorts that emerged out of the sovok ruins (Kasyanov, Illarianov, Kasparov, Milov, Novodvorskaya, Shevtsova, Alexievich, etc, etc.).

For instance, here is the reaction of Mikhail Svetov, who is the main face of Russia’s libertarians:

Translation: “They often ask me why I haven’t left. Because the same is happening all across the world. If you fight for freedom, as opposed to against Russia, then you don’t have anywhere to run to.

This seems to be the more typical reaction amidst the under 25’s liberal crowd.

* Another, directly related example from a few years from 2012: Konstantin von Eggert’s defense of Assange’s persecution.

 
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All the cool biopunk stuff seems to be happening in China these days: Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys—and yes, they may be smarter

Here is the paper in question:

Shi, Lei, Xin Luo, Jin Jiang, Yongchang Chen, Cirong Liu, Ting Hu, Min Li, et al. 2019. “Transgenic Rhesus Monkeys Carrying the Human MCPH1 Gene Copies Show Human-like Neoteny of Brain Development.National Science Review, March. https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwz043.

Brain size and cognitive skills are the most dramatically changed traits in humans during evolution, and yet the genetic mechanisms underlying these human-specific changes remain elusive. Here, we successfully generated 11 transgenic rhesus monkeys (8 first-generation and 3 second-generation) carrying human copies of MCPH1, an important gene for brain development and brain evolution. Brain image and tissue section analyses indicated an altered pattern of neural cell differentiation, resulting in a delayed neuronal maturation and neural fiber myelination of the transgenic monkeys, similar to the known evolutionary change of developmental delay (neoteny) in humans. Further brain transcriptome and tissue section analyses of major developmental stages showed a marked human-like expression delay of neuron-differentiation and synaptic signaling genes, providing a molecular explanation to the observed brain developmental delay of the transgenic monkeys. More importantly, the transgenic monkeys exhibited better short-term memory and shorter reaction time compared to the wild type controls in the delayed matching to sample task. The presented data represents the first attempt to experimentally interrogate the genetic basis of human brain origin using a transgenic monkey model, and it values the use of nonhuman primates in understanding human unique traits.

I strongly support this, we need to uplift the animals.

Intelligence is almost always adaptative. There are almost no conceivable ethical downsides to this.

There are questions on how we will support support these animals.

Well, if animals are uplifted, they could become as intelligent as humans. For instance, chimps would only need around 7-8 S.D.’s worth more of IQ to be competitive with humans. This would allow them to compete in the market economy.

To be sure, they will fall behind if we upgrade humans too – as we should – but the economy will become much more productive, allowing uplifted animals to be subsidized even as we use what we learned from uplifting them to further upgrade ourselves.

Conceivably, some animals may become even more intelligent than humans, e.g. elephants due to their high cranial capacity.

I am in general in favor of such biosingularity scenarios for a couple of reasons.

1. They seem safer than machine intelligence singularities (e.g. they are not as “fast”, and we can be pretty sure that we won’t accidentally scrub consciousness through genetic augmentations – unlike the case of mind loading).

2. It would certainly appear to be superior to dysgenic-technological slideback, which is the default future if there is no intelligence exposion this century (i.e. the Age of Malthusian Industrialism).

If it’s going to happen anywhere, it is going to happen in China. Judeo-Christians and SJWs are not going to allow it in the West.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Animal IQ, China, Intelligence, Transhumanism 
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moscow-patriarch-poinds

In another timeline, Julian Assange may have enjoyed long walks with Edward Snowden by the Patriarch Ponds in Moscow.

Imagine that you are a dissident at risk of extradition to a jilted superpower, whose secrets you just spilled for the entire world to gawk at, and you happen to be caught up in the capital of one of its vassal states.

What do? Which Embassy do you pick?

map-us-rogues-and-lackeys

Map of how often countries vote with the US at the UN.

One of your first, more elementary considerations should be that your target country would actually be willing to give you political asylum. This rules out pretty much the entire West, and America’s various vassal states in the Third World. This is the relatively easy part, and few go wrong here. Though there are exceptions. I am reminded of a particularly dim MI6 agent who tried to sell UK intelligence secrets to… the Netherlands. But say what you will of him – Assange is mostly certainly not stupid.

Second, it should be a powerful, politically stable country. For instance, Russia has never extradited Western spies back to their homelands, even during the Americanophile 1990s under Yeltsin. In contrast, while much of Latin America might be run by American-skeptical leftists these days, they have a habit of veering sharply to the right, which tends to be highly subservient to the United States there. Ecuador narrowly avoided that in 2017, when the neoliberal Guillermo Lasso – who had promised to evict Assange – was defeated by Lenin Moreno, who promised to continue Correa’s policies. But Ecuador is a small country, vulnerable to outside pressure, and in any case, as has already long been clear, Moreno is not so committed to the anti-imperialist struggle as his predecessor.

Third, it should preferably have a physically big embassy. You are potentially going to be spending a lot of time there, and being confined to a small room for years on end will be comfortable neither for you, nor for your hosts. It will be like going to prison anyway, if with more dignity. Moreover, should you get a serious medical issue, you will be in a real pickle. In fairness, this point is mostly covered by the second requirement, since the more powerful countries also tend to have the bigger Embassies. For instance, Hungary’s Cardinal Mindszenty made the right decision, opting for the US Embassy in the wake of the crushing of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. He ended up spending 15 years there, but at least his accomodations were reasonably lavish, consisting of two rooms and his own bathroom.

Presumably, the US Embassy was not an option for Assange. So that left China or Russia.

And of these, Russia must have been the better deal. It already had much worse relations with the West in general, and the UK in particular, than China, and was even then considered likelier to stick it to the West. This was seemingly confirmed a year later, when China pressured Edward Snowden to move on from Hong Kong to Russia, to avoid a lengthy extradition battle with the US. Seeking refuge on Russian territory would also not have been as completely ideologically contradictory for a freedom of speech activist. While Russia doesn’t have much to write home about on that front, at least its Internet was more or less entirely free back then.

Hence, my article on August 16, 2012, at the height of the drama over whether Ecuador would give him refuge: “Assange Should Have Picked the Russian Embassy.” In an exchange with the blogger spandrell in the comments, I argued that this was Assange’s own choice, on the basis that his ideological values – which included strong antipathy to “authoritarian conspiracies” – were hardly compatible with the very nature of the Russian secret police state.

Well, more fool me. Julian Assange did try to claim asylum with Russia.

Only problem was: He was refused.

This would be unambiguously confirmed to me several years later by a source who must remain anonymous, but who was in a consummately first hand position to know those details. Russian diplomatic officials were apparently not happy with the decision, but the order was clear and it came from the highest levels of the Russian government. A few months ago, a senior Russia-based journalist who has excellent access to the Kremlin elites told me he heard the same.

In September 2018, AP released an investigation showing that Julian Assange sought, and received, a Russian visa in 2010 thanks to the efforts of Israel Shamir. This happened ten days after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest over sex crimes charges, and a day after Wikileaks began releasing the US State Department cables. Julian Assange left it too late to go to Russia physically – but he was, at least, exploring this possibility.

So why did Russia, two years later, refuse Assange asylum in their London Embassy? Why did they refuse to harbor the man who was supposed to be their puppet, at least according to the mainstream Western narrative?

Israel Shamir on the pages of this webzine has suggested that it was just a function of Russians’ general suspicion towards “ideologues” of Assange’s calibre:

It is said that Assange was in cahoots with the Russians, that they guided him and provided with the stuff they hacked and even that “Wikileaks is a Front for Russian Intelligence”. As a matter of fact, Russians were extremely hesitant to have anything to do with Assange. They could not believe he was for real. Are you so naïve, they told me, that you do not understand he is a CIA trap? Such people do not exist.

It is a problem of the Russian mind: as a rule, they do not understand and do not trust Western dissidents of Assange’s ilk. They want their western sympathisers to be bought and paid for. Free agents are suspicious in their eyes. God knows there are many people in the West whose opinions roughly coincide with those of the Russians; but the Russians would prefer to buy a journalist off the peg. That’s why RT has had more than its fair share of defectors, that is of broadcasters who denounced RT and went to the Western mass media.

As the AP investigation showed, Israel Shamir may well have been in a better position to know than most of us had hitherto expected (at least assuming he was also privy to the denied asylum request).

Still, perhaps the real explanation is more banal.

Putin, like many in the Russian elite, had started off as an Anglophile, and his strongest relationship with a Western leader during the early years of his rule was with Tony Blair. The Litvinenko Affair and the South Ossetian War had certainly soured relations with the West in general, and Britain in particular, but not in a way that appeared hopeless and permanent, as has increasingly seemed to be the case since 2014. There were hopes that things would go back to normality, and I can only assume that Putin didn’t want to set himself up a headache for the next few years, if not decades.

I suppose he sort of failed at that.

For his part, Assange will have to place his hopes on the British judicial system and its political independence.

 
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Apologies for the paucity in poasting the past couple of weeks. My laptop finally gave up the ghost and had to be sent to repairs before a replacement was ready, which caused lag in IRL work, which had to be made up when I acquired a workstation again. It’s also more difficult to start up again after taking a long (if inadvertent) break. Obviously, all this put a major crimp in my blogging activity. I suppose we’ll start with an Open Thread to get up to speed.

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Featured

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Russia

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World

  • “No religion” has become most predominant US religion.
  • سليمان Sulaiman Gu: “A WeChat poll of Chinese users finds 60% of the 2,000+ respondents see the New Zealand mosque massacre as a revenge and “extremely sympathize” with the killer after reading his manifesto of terror. 中国人民微信发声:我们非常同情对穆斯林复仇的新西兰杀手
  • Caius Julius Caesar Mussolini is running for office in Italy on a nationalist platform.
  • Manufacturing wages in China are way above Latin America’s and converging on Portugal.

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Science & Culture

  • gwern reviews Stalker (1979)
  • Smith, Cory J., Oscar Castanon, Khaled Said, Verena Volf, Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, Amanda Hornick, Raphael Ferreira, et al. 2019. “Enabling Large-Scale Genome Editing by Reducing DNA Nicking.bioRxiv.
    • To extend the frontier of genome editing and enable the radical redesign of mammalian genomes, we developed a set of dead-Cas9 base editor (dBE) variants that allow editing at tens of thousands of loci per cell by overcoming the cell death associated with DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and single-strand breaks (SSBs). We used a set of gRNAs targeting repetitive elements – ranging in target copy number from about 31 to 124,000 per cell. dBEs enabled survival after large-scale base editing, allowing targeted mutations at up to ~13,200 and ~2610 loci in 293T and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), respectively, three orders of magnitude greater than previously recorded. These dBEs can overcome current on-target mutation and toxicity barriers that prevent cell survival after large-scale genome engineering.
  • Khosravi, Pegah, Ehsan Kazemi, Qiansheng Zhan, Jonas E. Malmsten, Marco Toschi, Pantelis Zisimopoulos, Alexandros Sigaras, et al. 2019. “Deep Learning Enables Robust Assessment and Selection of Human Blastocysts after in Vitro Fertilization.Npj Digital Medicine 2 (1): 21.
    • Much better embryo selection with IVF through deep learning.
  • US population density 1790-2010
  • *Amerotriumphalism* Loyalka, Prashant, Ou Lydia Liu, Guirong Li, Igor Chirikov, Elena Kardanova, Lin Gu, Guangming Ling, et al. 2019. “Computer Science Skills across China, India, Russia, and the United States.
    • We find that seniors in the United States substantially outperform seniors in China, India, and Russia by 0.76–0.88 SDs and score comparably with seniors in elite institutions in these countries. Seniors in elite institutions in the United States further outperform seniors in elite institutions in China, India, and Russia by ∼0.85 SDs.
  • Richard Dawkins asks why not boost IQs.
  • Guillaume Durocher: The Hellenic Canon
  • Mollica Francis, and Piantadosi Steven T. n.d. “Humans Store about 1.5 Megabytes of Information during Language Acquisition.Royal Society Open Science 6 (3): 181393.

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Humor & Powerful Takes

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• Tags: Open Thread 
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So it’s pretty clear from the exit polls that Zelensky and Poroshenko are going to be the ones duking it out in the second round.

It’s also very likely that the next Ukrainian President is almost certainly going to be Zelensky.

The former might have had a chance if there was only 5% separating Poroshenko (19%) from Zelensky (31%), but a ten percent gap – one that is getting confirmed by incoming results – is too high a hurdle to clear, no matter the “administrative resources” at his disposal. This is especially important as almost all Boyko supporters (10%) and most Tymoshenko (14%) supporters will go over to Zelensky.

The only regions where Poroshenko won – according to the exit polls – is in the west and in Kiev. Incidentally, these are also the only regions that voted to exit the USSR.

Turnout has fallen massively in the west and center, a stark change from the elections in 2014, when the buoyant Maidanist regions had much higher turnout than the east. Now turnout has largely equalized. It is especially low in Zakarpattia oblast, which would seem to confirm some of what Beckow has been saying about the political apathy of people from that region.

Poroshenko’s platform is, in a nutshell, patriotic: “Army. Language. Faith.” Ironically, for this former functionary in the Party of Regions, he has become the candidate of the more svidomy regions. But it is neither very plausible at a personal level, nor has it been competently realized to any major extent, plus it takes a back seat to issues such as higher utilities bills so far as most people are concerned. So, just as pre-elections polls predicted, Poroshenko bombed.

Zelensky’s program consists of cool, hip liberal rhetoric: Streamlining bureaucracy, voting online, EU and NATO accession. The kind of program that appeals more to people outside Kiev and Galicia. As a comedian with no previous experience with politics, it also makes him part of the general populist wave sweeping the world, in which “outsiders” from Trump to Macron have been sweeping elections in the West in the past few years.

He has also said he wants to wind down the war in the Donbass; a position that has the support of an absolute majority of Ukrainians, according to other opinion polls. This does not mean he is any kind of “Russophile”, as some of Poroshenko’s partisans have ludicrously claimed – he is just more realistic. He contributed a lot of his own money to the ATO.

He is not an oligarch like Poroshenko or Tymoshenko (both of whom have also been implicated in corruption schemes over the years). However, it is openly known that Kolomoysky stands behind Zelensky, the Dnepropetrovsk honcho evidently having decided that he would be better suited for the Presidency than Tymoshenko, with whom he was previously allied. The stories of how Western educated technocrats and reformists have become disillusioned with the course of the Ukraine after 2014, and gradually abandoned or jumped ship, has become almost a trope of the more insightful Western reporting about that country. With Zelensky surrounded by oligarchs; financed and heavily shilled by one of them; and without the initial promise of the Euromaidan attracting human capital, his chances of success – transforming the Ukraine from an oligarchy into a “normal” country – don’t appear to be bright.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Elections, Ukraine 
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I have sometimes made the point that All-Russian improvements in mortality/life expectancy lag the City of Moscow (or the Baltics) by around a decade. There are some good, relevant graphics that reinforce it from a recent paper:

Щур, Алексей Евгеньевич. 2019. “Города-миллионники на карте смертности России.Демографическое обозрение 5 (4): 66–91.

GRAPH: Life expectancy [male/female] in Moscow [red], Saint-Petersburg [green], the cities [blue], and the rest of Russia [orange].

As I pointed out in 2008, the post-Soviet economic crisis overwhelmingly impinged on the life expectancy of the less well educated (as most of the mortality increase accrued to heavier drinking; more education being associated with higher IQ, greater foresight, etc). The better educated were also able to partake of foreign health and medical technologies earlier. Hence why there appeared this large gap between Moscow and the rest of the country after the mid-1990s.

This gap is now closing, as life expectancy gains will slow down in Moscow – where they are already at First World levels – while the rest of the country continues catching up as it drinks less and hospitals are modernized. Though it will never close entirely, as LE gaps between capitals (cognitive clusters) and the country at large are typical everywhere.

GRAPH: Life expectancy in Russian cities [blue] vs. their regions [blue] in 1989 vs. 2016.

  1. Volgograd
  2. Voronezh
  3. Rostov
  4. Nizhny Novgorod
  5. Samara
  6. Kazan/Tatarstan
  7. Ufa/Bashkiria
  8. Perm
  9. Ekaterinburg
  10. Chelyabinsk
  11. Krasnoyarsk
  12. Novosibirsk
  13. Omsk

Less educated, heavy drinkers are relatively more a feature of the countryside

GRAPH: GRP per capita [bottom] vs. life expectancy [left]; left – Rest of Russia [orange], millioniki cities blue], Moscow [green]; right – total population [sphere size], regions [blue], cities [red]/

Incidentally, note that Saint-Petersburg is within the cluster of million-population cities in that GRP per capita/life expectancy graph, which confirms my characterization of it as “just the largest gorod-millionnik.”

GRAPH: Share of over 30 y/o’s with higher education [bottom] vs. life expectancy [left]; millionik city regions [left cluster], millionik cities [right cluster], Moscow [far right].

TABLE: Life expectancy [men, women, both].

  • Volgograd
  • Voronezh
  • Ekaterinburg
  • Kazan
  • Krasnoyarsk
  • Moscow
  • Nizhny Novgorod
  • Novosibirsk
  • Omsk
  • Perm
  • Rostov
  • Samara
  • Saint-Petersburg
  • Ufa
  • Chelyabinsk

Just inserting this for easy later reference.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Demographics, Mortality, Russia 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.