"Members of the so-called [Ukrainian nationalist] 'Right Sector' now wield influence throughout Ukraine. Members of the Russian parliament say that they have received calls for help from a range of regions [in Ukraine]." (http://www.1tv.ru/news/polit/254063)
"The [Russian] self-defence forces of Sevastopol have seized five homemade bombs stuffed with nuts and bolts...from a young man who tried to smuggle these into the city...Self-defence groups continue to operate under emergency law to prevent [Ukrainian] militants and provocateurs from entering Crimea." (http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/858538/)
"The Western nations have spent a tremendous amount of time and efforts in influencing Ukrainian society and leading it to the present situation, believes Konstantin Kosachev, the head of Russia's federal agency for foreign cooperation." (http://rt.com/politics/ukraine-russia-us-ideology-510/)
...and we say thank you to our commentators tonight from Russian television stations Pervyi Kanal, NTV, and - why of course - good ole Russia Today...
Oh, and on a completely different topic the Russian Ministry of Truth - erm, no of course, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecoms, Information Technologies and Mass Communications - has announced that access to the internet-sites www.grani.ru, www.kasparov.ru, www.ej.ru, and http://navalny.livejournal.com will be curtailed as these websites are calling for unsanctioned mass protests in Russia. (http://rkn.gov.ru/news/rsoc/news24447.htm and my always impressive friend and analyst Jesper Gormsen).
For the love of...
I appreciate some readers of this blog may sympathise with parts of the Russian position in relation to Ukraine and the West. I certainly agree that a solution must be found whereby Russians and Ukrainians can live peacefully side by side and the rights of people in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine are guaranteed. I am even willing to accept that a large part of the Russian populace may not love President Vladimir Putin, but would be opposed to the mass insecurity, which might well follow a real challenge to his rule. But what will appear next from the cauldron of the Kremlin? A more general "firewall" to restrict access to the internet in Russia, as we already know it in China? A general climate of uncertainty that, as a minimum, prevents proper investigation of attacks on and killings of media personnel? (Anna Politkovskaya and Anastasia Baburova spring to mind, as do dozens of other high-profile victims, https://cpj.org/killed/europe/russia/) Even more restrictive press laws? In 2013, Russian media was still a little less unfree than that of Azerbaijan - will Putin try to beat his southern neighbour this year in a race to the dregs... (http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2013/russia; also http://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-press)
It seems to have become a reflex now for the Kremlin to crack down on things. The above-mentioned restricted websites are not widely read by Russians; and certainly not by the core voters that Putin still commands. The coverage of the crisis in Ukraine perhaps makes more sense, helping the President to keep his apparently high domestic approval ratings... (http://rt.com/politics/putin-rating-boost-crimea-122/) Yet Russian internet use is exploding - the average Russian can still access unflattering information about their elites. And control of the major television channels might bolster the Kremlin's attacks on "Ukrainian nationalists" as such, but not on the ordinary Ukrainians, who are friends and family to so many Russians. So does the Russian state now simply use all crises to restrict civil society even more? Or are Russian actions abroad and at home just a sign that Putin and his people have little more to offer - no constructive ideas for taking their great country forward into prosperity and security, but simply some impetus to make Russia "powerful" (however ill defined...)?
We shall know more in the coming days. Especially if all of us in the West, as well as Russians elites and Russians at large, remember with Tim Berners-Lee that it is our privilege and duty to seek information about our world from many sources - both from those approved by the authorities and from those, which might from time to time go against the official line. (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/12/online-magna-carta-berners-lee-web)