BIG NEWS!" Outbreak of Arab" Spring-like demos in Russia threaten Iran, Syria


by FG

(Not even the NY Times has anything on this as I post this. I don't know about TV newworks since I don't usually watch TV news. The link that follows is from Enduring America).

It appears dictators everywhere are in trouble these days. Russia now appears to getting hit with growing demonstrations over complaints of massively rigged elections. I suspect they'll get bigger and continuous if not now, after winter ends. (Winter being a special problem in Russia). It's not the sort of problem that goes away.

Russia, like Iran, has had a pseudo-democracy in which the government arrests journalists and has used death squads tied to the security forces who kill opposing politicians, journalists and human rights demonstrators. Vladimir Putin, former head of the KGB, had been ineligible to run lasd time, so he used a surrogate much as Ahmadinejad hopes to do while he controlled things behind the scenes. Now that the term is almost up, Putin was hoping to seize Russia's top office one again. Like Supreme Leader Khamenei and the Shah in Iran, Czar Putin has lost popular legitimacy. As in Iran, he has relied heavily on the security forces and manipulating elections to keep in power. Like Khamenei and other dictators, Putin is blaming foreign conspirators for all his problems.

Russia, which has a naval base in Syria, and recently supplied advance missiles to Assad, has been a major backer of both the Iranian and Syrian dictatorships and has joined with China in blockiong sanctions against both. If the chaos gets bad enough there, it should effect economic and other arrangements with both those regimes. Freedom for the Russia people, the Syrian people and Iranians. I suspect China's government may break out in a sweat over this news.


Russia Feature: Putin Accused --- Large Protests on Saturday?



more from FG

NY Times is running updates on Russia's protests

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See the Lede at:


You may also want to check the Times' homepage where the protests are the lead story today.

Putin noticed how brutal crackdowns aggravated Assad's troubles in Syria, so the regime is exercising more caution for now while it's winter ally can help contain things temorarily. 

Make no mistake however,  This is only the beginning.

The real trouble--with immediate economic consequences--may start in late Spring when protestors don't have to close shop for nighttime temperatures that can drop below zero degrees farenheit.  Any Putin candidacy will surely fire things up. 

In the meantime Russians will work up their rage on the Internet.  Bet on that!



‘Another 12 years of Putin? No thank you’



Reflections on Putin, Assad and Khamenei

by FG on

Not long ago Putin and Assad were fairly popular and Khamenei still widely respected.  It's amazing how quickly such things can be squandered.


Putin has become widely unpopular in Russia now but not nearly as unpopular yet as the other two leaders.  It won't take long depending on what he does now. Things are just beginning to snowball. The real crisis could come in late spring when better weather makes prolonged demonstrations viable.

THE SELF-DECEPTIVE CHOICE: When a dictator turns to massive intimidation, repression and censorship he loses all chance of escape or freedom. Repressive policies throw oil on the fire that drives demonstrators.  News of every new crime reaches the masses.  His country suffers endless deaths and destruction that could have been so easily been avoided with a little foresight.  

Once mass protests start, a dictator who chooses to stick around will face intense daily pressures and worries that never let up.  In that sense he has already lost his freedom.  As tides turn that pressure increases to 24 hours a day.  A dictator is on the run and cannot stay at the same location more than one night.  Many supporters are dead or captured. Who needs it?

Most likely the dictator's dead body winds up on public display in a refrigerator, or hangs nude by their toes from a clothesline while people jeer.  Maybe he is pulled from a filthyhole in the ground before being tried and hung.  If he has exception good fortune, he might wind up tried before the World Court and spending all his remaining jails in a prison.

THE SWEETER ALTERNATIVE: A. Quit politics.  B. Take enough money to live the good life but avoid the World Court.  C. Emigrate to someplace like Paris. D. Eliminate almost all worries immediately and start living the good life.


When Syria's demonstrations began, the government and ruling clique had
lost most public trust.  Assad was an exception--a man seen as a closet
reformer, like Khadaffi's son, Saeed in Libya.  Surely he would side
with the people and support  large scale reforms, democracy and real and
open elections.  Had he done so, he might have been elected president
by a landslide.  


Nobody confused Khamenei with reformers but few imagined he'd go so far and commit so vast a number of shamesless crimes and so openly for all to see.

Khamenei might have saved his public
image by coming out for reform, calling for new elections, eliminating
the despised Guardian Council and purging security forces of hard
liners.  We know now that the chances of that happening were equal
to the chances of Joseph Stalin becoming Pope.


1. If you commit embarassing crimes, don't imagine they can be hidden in the day and age.

2. When the dam of exposure begins to breaks, it soon turns into a
muddy  flood..  There is no containing the damage or restoring a
leader's reputation once that occurs.

3. The only escape dicators have or escaping with ill-gotten gains and
free of prison is at the beginning, BEFORE cracking down.   It you don't
do it then, you probably won't get out at all.


Washington Post

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Russian Web gets protesters’ word out



ANALYSIS: Unique factors likely to affect Russia protests

by FG on

1.  Winter weather (advantage to regime).

2. The sheer size of Russia, it's population and the number of cities
would multiply problems of the sort Assad has faced in having to cover
too many outbreaks in too many places. (advantage: opposition)

3. Russians have cut military forces substantially since the
Cold War.   Too few forces having to cover so much territory complicates fatigue problems especiallly as they are forced to cover huge distances and potentially shifting protests.   It can take a long time for security reinforcements to arrive.  Life in the military was always rotten in
Soviet times.  It better have improved a great deal since or this
could affect defection possibilities. (advantages to opposition).

4. Youthful populations tend to be more explosive and harder to deter. Russia has an aging population, totally unlike Arab states and Iran (advantage to regime)  On the other hand, Russia has already been faced demographic collapse because of below replacement level reproduction that goes back years to Soviet times in part caused by miniscule housing for families.  I doubt that housing problem has been resolved (and this crisis if prolonged will worsen it). The growth of a middle
class dependent on two incomes also affects child-bearing decisions

I'd also imagine they've lost a substantial portion of younger folks to emigration.  Whether or not there has been a brain drain as a consequence is uncertain. Note also that Russia is far more urbanized than ever.  In Soviet days you needed special permission to migrate from a collective farm to the city.   Privatized farms, being far more efficient, have also cut into rural populations.

5. Like Iran's mullahs Russia needs a modern economy to meet other ambitions and you can't have one
without computer literacy, ownership and access to information--a
two-edged sword.   At one time news of an outbreak in one location could
easily be concealed if a regime had control over the media.  The internet also disperses leadership 
and encourages quick adaptation and individual explosiveness at the grass roots level.  

tactics used by demonstrators in one country are quickly copied elsewhere.  They even exchange ideas on how to counter tactics of dictators. The number of cities in which demonstrations appear to be breaking out mirrors the kind of spontaneous, adaptive outbreaks that quickly
adapt to tactics seen elsewhere.  

In two respects the Russian regime might be more vulnerable than Assad if Syian tactics are adapted, which is likely.  Considering items #2 and #3 above, what happens if protesters copy two popular Syrian tactics against security forces that can't be everywhere: Mobile demonstrations within cities abd responding to regime moves against one city by
shifting demonstrations to other cities where security forces are in short supply.  

A third characteristic of Syrian
protests, their daily and continuous nature, could be hampered by winter
weather for now but will be available come late spring.   Compared to Assad, Putin has more oil wealth to prob him up, but endless and dispersed demonstrations would likely
have major impact on an economy.   Ask Cairo and Aleppo.

Let me note one other way in which Putin's pseudo-democracy
resembles Iran and other dictatorships--the need to pump up xenophobia
against western democracies.   With any normal regime, neither Iran nor
Russia would need that.  It only benefits governments characterized by
limited freedoms and mafia-type privileged insiders, like Russia's
post-Soviet nomenklatura class.