The Closing of Russia
By Nadin Brzezinski, Medium, 20/5/23
May 21, 2023 - 8:43:20 AM
Crimean train derailment, war on the rails
Two things are happening at the moment. The first is that Russia sees more train derailments within the Federation and near the front lines. The second is the arrest of members of the opposition. Neither is a surprise, and they are connected. These are also coming within an environment where the Russian army is failing to perform.
So let’s deal with the opposition first. This is via MO:
The oppositionists who remained in the Russian Federation are being searched allegedly because of their connection with the “terrorist” Ponomarev. Versions of the security forces in the pro-government media are filled with fakes
According to RIA Novosti, searches are taking place in five regions. In Moscow, the security forces came to the politician and associate professor of Moscow State University Mikhail Lobanov, former mundeps from Yabloko Galina Filchenko and Nodari Khananashvili, and journalist Alexander Kalinin. The pro-government media call them associates of politician Ilya Ponomarev and point to their participation in the “Congress of People’s Deputies” organized by Ponomarev. There is a lot of untruth in these reports, their acquaintances and interlocutors in the opposition told MO.
🔹 Lobanov denies any connection with Ponomarev. A message appeared on Lobanov’s Telegram channel stating that the politician “does not know and does not have any contacts at all with Ponomarev, whose criminal case is used by the security forces to legalize searches.” This is the second search at Lobanov’s place because of the alleged connection with Ponomarev.
🔹“I don’t know Lobanov,” Ponomarev confirmed in an interview with MO, “I don’t understand who they come to and on what basis. Someone participated earlier in the Congress, someone did not at all. I am also not familiar with Khanashvili, he was on the YouTube channel “February Morning”, but this does not say anything about his connection with the Congress.”
🔹 Filchenko and Khananashvili are not members of the Yabloko party, contrary to pro-government media reports. “They were municipal deputies from us in previous years in the Tverskoy and Akademichesky districts of Moscow,” said Kirill Goncharov, deputy chairman of the Moscow branch of Yabloko, “Such news is alarming, let’s hope that this will not end in criminal cases.”
🔹Ponomarev creates reasons for the security forces. “Ilya takes on the organization of terrorist attacks. I think participation in his congress was the reason for the searches,” says politician Marina Litvinovich. Ponomarev previously stated that a certain “National Republican Army” associated with him was involved in the murder of Daria Dugina, military commander Vladlen Tatarsky and the attempt on Zakhar Prilepin.
🔹 Filchenko does not hide his connection with Ponomarev. The activist’s Facebook page is filled with photos from the congress in Warsaw. “I don’t understand how it was possible to calmly return to Russia after this congress, especially given the fact that Ponomarev already took responsibility for the murder of Dugina. We all warned her that participation in this congress is not the most reasonable idea, and it’s definitely not worth returning to Russia, ”says Filchenko’s colleague at Yabloko.
“Any political activity and public position inconsistent with the authorities can become a reason for repression. Any article can be applied — from participation in the activities of an undesirable organization to fakes about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, ”says lawyer Anastasia Burakova.
The state has refused to acknowledge Ilya Ponomarev and the National Republican Army openly. They are doing it now. However, it’s by inference, given the reason for the arrest.
Given Russian history, the use of the term repression is also chilling. So it is clear that, at this point, the state is under pressure. My guess is that the silence on a few things or claims of total destruction of Patriot systems is leading to a crisis. Incidentally, Russia tried again to penetrate Kyiv’s airspace and again failed to do much of the intended damage.
So if the Ministry of Defense was right, and a system was removed, it would have been easier to penetrate that airspace. So we can infer Ukraine is telling it as is. There was slight damage to a system that could be fixed in the field.
Which brings me back to the arrests. This is a good sign that things are not going well. Authoritarians tend to do this to create internal enemies as a distraction.
This brings me to a comment from Moscow Calling regarding train derailments. By the way, the photo I am using at the top shows the most damage to a rail bed and comes from Crimea. However, the pace of the war on the rails continues to accelerate. Here is his post:
Damage to railway tracks in Crimea as a result of today’s explosion.
In principle, it is quite realistic to eliminate the consequences in a day, so the question is the regularity of such sabotage — how Russian “siloviki” are able to deal with real saboteurs, and not with those who went out into the street with posters or make “wrong” reposts …
Significantly, he is questioning the effectiveness of the security services. People in authoritarian spaces rarely dare do that. He is also noting something else, which is not a bug, Siloviki is going after low-hanging fruit. The best choice is for people to stop saying what they think out of fear. Here is where denunciations and fines come in:
A resident of Tambov was fined 30 thousand for the denunciation of a certain Grigory Yavlinsky, but not from the Yabloko party.
Andrei Polyakov was found guilty of discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Article 20.3.3 of the Administrative Code), “Sold Sign” reported. The reason was the repost in VKontakte of Alexei Navalny’s article “15 points of a Russian citizen who wishes the good to his country.”
The case materials indicate that one of the authors of the denunciation against him was Grigory Yavlinsky. The leader of the Yabloko party wrote to the judge that he did not make a denunciation and called his name and surname in the case “a strange misunderstanding or deliberate falsification”.
The judge refused to summon witness Yavlinsky to court because he allegedly did not leave his phone number and address.
This is not an isolated example either. He was denounced for posting on social media. He was charged, and he was fined. You can bet he will think twice about voicing anything, even at home. This is the point of the exercise.
And for the Siloviki, this is easy work. Going after well-organized guerrillas and developing a good sense of operational security is not this easy. The Cheka originated in the hot fires of the civil war. They used brutal methods back then. So I guess a fine is better than a one-way trip to the basement.
Finally, this update on Backhmut just came through. They tend to be short and to the point.
Our troops managed to advance 700 meters deep into enemy positions on the outskirts of Bakhmut, reports the 3rd Assault Brigade.
For the most part, there is somewhat of a silence in Russian channels regarding Ukrainian successes. Whether this is a local operation, part of shaping processes or a larger offensive is a good question. But Russians seem unable to deal with this. For the record, I think it is part of a larger offensive, but this is drawing Russians to this part of the front, which will weaken others.
Source: Ocnus.net 2022