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Who speaks of victory?
An apostate's view from Moscow
By Riley Waggaman, a Moscow-based writer and former “senior editor” at RT
Things are really heating up, friends. Your humble Moscow correspondent is extremely worried. Sweaty, even.
After 48 hours of staring at my computer screen, I have finally typed up a few thoughts and observations. Let us now speak openly with one another, as fellow meatshields.
Goodbye domestic cattle tags (for now), hello state of emergency
Thanks to a projected “epidemiological remission” in Russia, the federal government plans to “soften” its COVID guidelines for museums, theaters, fitness centers, catering, and schools.
The new recommendations will likely prompt Russia’s regions to suspend the use of QR codes. Tatarstan—which had some of the strictest cattle tag rules in Russia—abolished the use of QR codes on Monday. Over the past week, more than a dozen regions across the country have rolled back their digital ID regimes.
This is obviously a welcome development. But is it permanent? As of February 21, a positive antibody test can be used to obtain a QR code, valid for six months, via Russia’s public services portal. This new cattle tagging option is also available to foreigners.
Anna Popova, the unhinged desk jockey in charge of “human wellbeing” in Russia, has already made it clear that the easing of restrictions is based on the current “situation” and is subject to change.
While internal measures are being relaxed, Russia is ratcheting up biosecurity controls at its border. Evacuees from Donbass—many of whom have Russian passports—have been subjected to rapid tests, health inspections, and quarantine after crossing into Russia. There are even suggestions that half a million unwanted doses of Sputnik V could be made available to uninjected refugees.
In mid-December, the federal government announced its “Sanitary Shield”—a series of border checkpoints used to test, screen and collect data from people entering the Russian Federation—would be launched at the start of 2022. In early February, Popova called for the creation of a “common sanitary shield” with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members. Around the same time, the Russian government also requested to join the EU’s vaccine passport verification system.
The aim, it seems, is to make QR codes necessary for crossing national borders. Coincidentally, the shift from domestic health certificate to international travel ID comes as geopolitical and economic uncertainties are creating conditions for a global refugee crisis.
More and more, QR codes resemble the “temporary” WW1-era document (initially used to manage wartime refugees) that later became the international passport system.
In Russia, the suspension of QR codes has been replaced by “state of emergency” regimes in regions that are accepting evacuees from Donbass.
These emergency decrees give regional authorities considerable powers. For example, residents can be ordered to evacuate an area if deemed necessary, and to carry and present a form of ID upon request; regional officials can demand the use of vehicles and property owned by both public and private organizations. The emergency powers also cancel formalities like competitive bidding on government contracts.
The waiving of “red tape” could apply to things such as providing medical care without requiring a medical insurance policy—which of course would be useful if you are providing healthcare to refugees.
But given what we’ve witnessed, globally, over the past two years, it’s easy to imagine how such emergency powers could be abused or indefinitely extended without justification. Saratov region announced a state of emergency on February 21 after taking in 510 refugees. The region is home to 2.5 million people.
Other parts of the country are taking extreme measures—seemingly without any firm legal footing. In Sverdlovsk region, which has yet to declare a state of emergency, hospital patients were forcibly evicted to make room for evacuees.
It seems we are not allowed to simply return to “normal”: the spectre of biosecurity continues to hang over us. Under such conditions, legal norms deteriorate; assumed rights become treasured privileges, and one grows accustomed to getting rug-pulled.
“Isn’t it clear that the ones we rose up against are ruling us now?”
Why did Russia recognize the breakaway republics now, as opposed to two, four or eight years ago? Undoubtedly there are many reasons.
One reason—possibly not the main reason, but certainly an important reason!—is that the original rebel leaders were not exactly “compatible” with Russia’s political and socioeconomic system. This is putting it mildly.
Probably the most extreme example of this phenomenon was Lugansk rebel commander Aleksey Mozgovoy, who had some interesting theories about the war in Donbass:
I'd like to appeal to everyone who is fighting—on both sides. People on both sides are fighting against the oligarchy. But somehow we only kill each other, ourselves. So we’re committing a slow suicide of sorts.
The “gladiators” need to break out from the “Colosseum”. Instead, a new Colosseum is being organized. We’re burying ourselves. Do we need it all? War for the sake of war? It’s stupid.
Does anyone remember why we have rebelled? Isn’t it clear that the ones we rose up against are ruling us now? For both sides. Isn’t it time for us to come to our senses, military gentlemen? Otherwise, there won’t be a single one of us left.
And the ones we should be fighting against…they will be living on. Without problems. And everything’s going to be as it was before.
So I appeal one more time: start thinking. Your brain should be working, not your grenade launcher. That’s when there will be order. While the guns are working, there will only be deaths.
Mozgovoy was assassinated in a mafia-style hit in May 2015. That’s what happens to troublemakers.
Seven years later, who’s valiantly leading the people of Donbass “out of the Colosseum”?
In Donetsk: a meathead clown who previously enlisted in Eastern Europe’s largest and most infamous financial pyramid, MMM:
In Lugansk: a career spook:
Both of these gentlemen officially joined Russia’s Uniparty (sorry, “United Russia”) in December:
These are true men of action whom the Russian government can work with. Behold the fruits of their labor:
The Head of the Republic also commented on the changes to the decree “On the introduction of a high alert regime”, which will come into force on February 10, 2022. In particular, restrictions are imposed on visiting cinemas, theaters, restaurants and cafes, sports clubs without documents on vaccination or past illness.
As Donetsk braces for purported all-out war, the Republic is still (allegedly) conducting mass COVID testing… and scoring a 40% positive rate:
Donetsk, February 23 - DAN. Doctors of the Republic registered 1843 new cases of coronavirus infection in the past day. This was announced today by the Ministry of Health.
It is noted that according to the results of 4466 studies, the virus was confirmed in 1841 people, and two more were detected clinically and epidemiologically.
Not impossible. But hard to believe.
One gets the impression that these public health rituals are being performed as a show of loyalty to the Kremlin. Obviously these anti-human decrees (whether enforced or not) have absolutely nothing to do with actual public health—let’s be very clear about this.
As one Donetsk resident recently told Kommersant, the republic’s local leaders are guided by two desires: “long service to Moscow and personal enrichment.”
Sounds about right.
Are these recent moves by the Kremlin really about protecting the lives of ethnic Russians? That’s difficult to believe when you consider the callous criminality and disregard for basic decency that has led to the wholesale slaughter of Russians (and people all over the world!) over the last two years. Sorry.
Twenty-six percent of Russians who lived through the Great Patriotic War have died over the past year-and-a-half—more than 310,000 people.
Do people seriously believe the Russian government cares at all about the safety and wellbeing of average Russians? Stop and think.
“People are forcibly dragged from one stress to another”
Sorry for being a a party-pooper but I see nothing but trouble ahead for anyone who isn’t an oligarch. That means you and me.
Escalation is now the name of the game. With each passing day, war seems more likely. That’s not good. That’s very bad.
It doesn’t even matter who “starts” it anymore. We are being dragged along for the ride. Frankly, the last few days have felt entirely scripted.
“From the meaninglessness of what is happening, I want to cry,” one Donetsk resident observed. Welcome to 2022.
As Russian blogger El-Murid (who vocally supported both the uprising in East Ukraine in 2014, as well as Assad’s struggle against US-backed creeps, but is very “meh” about the current Crisis) noted earlier this week:
A military aggravation is a great reason to forget previous troubles and problems…
This is a standard and very primitive technique for creating a new crisis in place of the previous one. People are forcibly dragged from one stress to another.
A normal life with ordinary current tasks and problems is no longer possible for the regime, as people will immediately begin to ask questions—who created these ordinary and current problems and raised them to an insoluble state? And now what to do with it?
A new Colosseum is being organized. Who needs it?
Hope it all works out, honestly. Not so sure though. Not sure at all.