Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Cartoon Of The Week
Quotes Of The Week
On December, 5, Russia's military hospital in Aleppo was shelled and Russian doctors were killed. Commenting on the attack on the Russian hospital, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said: "Today, from 12:21 to 12:30 Moscow time, the medical center of the Defense Ministry's mobile hospital was subjected to the militants' artillery fire while receiving local residents. As a mine directly hit the hospital's reception department, one Russian female medic was killed. Two other medics were heavily wounded. Local residents who had come to visit the doctors were also hurt... No doubt, the opposition's gunmen carried out the shelling. We understand where the militants got the precise data and coordinates of the reception of the Russian hospital at the moment when it began working." He then added: "The blood of our soldiers in on the hands of those who requisitioned this murder. Those who created, nurtured and armed these beasts in human clothing, and called them "opposition" to appease their conscience and justify themselves to the voters. Yes, yes, on your hands, gentlemen, sponsors of terrorists from the US, Great Britain, France and other countries and entities sympathizing with them."
(Echo.msk.ru, December 5; Tass.com, December 5)
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "We regret that the world community, including our partners in the United States, reacts more than modestly towards the tragedy involving the shelling of our hospital in Syria."
(Tass.com, December 6)
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said: "We are confident that this attack was planned... It was planned by those who are trying to retain their positions in Aleppo under the guise of their foreign patrons."
(Tass.com, December 6)
Commenting on the shelling, Igor Girkin, known as Strelkov (the shooter), who was the former military commander of the Donetsk People's Republic, strongly criticized the Russian authorities. It is worth noting that Strelkov's opinion of the Kremlin has assumed a harsh tone since he was removed from the post of Donetsk People's Republic defense minister. Though considered a marginal figure, Strelkov, as a fighter for the Russian world and a self-described Russian nationalist and imperialist, reflects the mood of the Russian right wing towards Kremlin policies. Strelkov, who enjoys reenacting czarist-era military battles, wrote on his VK account:
"The dead in Aleppo. So, we have this wonderful comment [by Konashenkov]: 'The blood of our soldiers in on the hands of those who ordered this murder. Those who created, fostered, and armed these beasts in human clothing, and called them "opposition" to appease their conscience and justify themselves to the voters. Yes, yes, on your hands, gentlemen, sponsors of terrorists from the US, Great Britain, France and other countries and entities sympathizing with them'.
"I have a completely different opinion.
"Firstly, the blood of our citizens is on the hands of adventurers and utter idiots in the leadership of the Russian Federation, who have entangled our country in a war it absolutely does not need.
"Secondly, on those imbeciles in the military command who placed a hospital in the area of direct enemy fire without any shelter.
"The first cannot be punished because our leadership is 'sacred' and is never accountable for any of its actions to anyone. The second group could be made to answer, but how?
"Legally, we are not at war with anyone. Accordingly, we have no military legislation in effect, which is the only one that could be applied in situations like that."
(Vk.com/igoristrelkov, December 5)
Strelkov (Source: Vk.com/igoristrelkov)
Pushkov's Tweet Storm:
Commenting on the US Senate's rider to the Pentagon's 2017 budget, which prohibits military cooperation with Russia, Senator Alexey Pushkov (@Alexey_Pushkov) wrote on his Twitter account:
"The US Congress, acting as 'a McCain collective', blocks military cooperation with Russia. The Congress apparently has priorities other than the fight against terror."
(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, December 2)
In another tweet Pushkov wrote: "The US Congress has forbidden [government] financing for military cooperation with Russia. But we act in Syria without the U.S. and we will continue to do so. The Congress cannot forbid that".
(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, December 3)
Commenting on the accusation that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections, Pushkov wrote: "McCain insists: there are 'facts regarding Russian involvement in the US elections'. He already has had 'facts' about Iraq and Libya. The 'facts' proved to be bogus."
(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, December 11)
In The News:
Elections In Transdniester
Vadim Krasnoselsky, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Transdniester, won the presidential elections in the unrecognized republic with 62 percent of the vote. The presidential election took place on December 11. Six candidates competed for this position but the incumbent president Yevgeny Shevchuk and Krasnoselsky were the main contenders. Shevchuk became president of Transdniester in 2011 riding the wave of a protest vote against the current president, Igor Smirnov. They also rejected the Moscow-imposed candidate, Supreme Council chairman Anatoly Kaminsky.
(Sputniknews.com, December 12; Gazeta.ru, December 4)
Transdniester/Transnistria (Source: Kyiv Post)
Krasnoselskii with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (Source: Moldovanpolitics.com)
Russia's Information Security Doctrine
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree signed a decree approving Russia's information security doctrine. The Russian news agency TASS reported:
"The doctrine says that one of major negative factors influencing information security is that some foreign countries are building up the capabilities of information and technical impact on Russia's information structure for military goals. Special services of certain states increase the scope of using means of information and psychological influence aimed at 'destabilizing domestic political and social situation in various regions of the world and leading to undermining sovereignty and violating the territorial integrity of countries.'
"The doctrine also says there is a growth in the number of materials in foreign mass media outlets with biased assessment of Russia's state policy. Russia's mass media outlets are often subjected to discrimination abroad and Russian journalists face obstacles when carrying out their professional activity. 'There is an increased information impact on Russia's citizens, first of all young people, with the goal of washing out traditional Russian moral and spiritual values,' the doctrine says... In this regard, the major directions of strategy of ensuring information security 'in line with Russia's military policy' are strategic containment and preventing military conflicts that may occur as a result of using information technologies and improving the system of ensuring information security of Russia's Armed Forces."
(Tass.com, December 6)
The Russian state-owned arms-manufacturing company Almaz-Antey and Iran's Shiraz Electronics Industries signed a cooperation agreement (joint scientific research, development, production, supply and maintenance of equipment and its components for managing air traffic, communications, navigation and surveillance." Almaz-Antey stated that the agreement seeks to harness the two companies' capabilities "for developing the aircraft navigation system of the Islamic Republic of Iran and also advancing the results of joint scientific research and developments on the markets of third countries."
(Tass.com, December 7)
On November 28, Putin had a phone conversation with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, at the Iranian side's initiative. The Kremlin reported that during the phone call, the two leaders agreed to continue coordinating steps in global hydrocarbon markets, including as part of the Russia-OPEC energy dialogue, and "noted the critical importance of measures taken by OPEC to limit crude oil production as the key factor in stabilizing the global oil market." They also "highly rated the level of "Russian-Iranian cooperation on the anti-terrorist track and agreed to continue to work closely together to ensure the long-term normalization of the situation in Syria."
(Kremlin.ru, November 28)
Russia- Turkey Relations
On December 1, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said that "the aim of the Euphrates Shield Operation [in northern Syria, which began on August 24, 2016] is not any country or person, but only terrorist organizations." He then added: "No one should doubt this issue that we have uttered over and over, and no one should comment on it in another fashion or try to derail it." Erdogan appeared to contradict his own November 29 statement, where he said that Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria is aimed at ousting Assad. On that occasion, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov expressed surprise over that statement. "No doubt, we hope that in the near future there will be explanations on this from our Turkish partners," Peskov said. Zakharova said that Moscow relies on public statements made by the Turkish president, while the words concerning Bashar Assad were made "off the record."
(Rt.com, December 1; Tass.com, November 30)
Recently, Canada imposed additional sanctions on Russian nationals in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Russian Embassy in Ottawa's press secretary, Kirill Kalinin, commented: "We express deep disappointment with the decision of the Canadian authorities to once again expand the list of Russian officials and parliamentarians." He then added: "This will definitely have a negative effect on the whole complex of Russian-Canadian relations... the Russian side will take into consideration this unfriendly step and will react on the basis of reciprocity."
(Tass.com, November 29)
Zakharova said: "We regret the Canadian authorities' decision to yet again expand the list of Russian officials subjected to sanctions. Instead of trying to improve bilateral relations, for the deterioration of which Russia is not to blame, the Canadian government has again decided to obediently follow in the footsteps of U.S. President Obama's administration, which made anti-Russia actions a key element of its failing foreign policy. These irresponsible actions by Ottawa only hinder the possible normalization of bilateral cooperation, including at the United Nations, where Canada has been trying to receive the status of a non-permanent UN Security Council member. These actions also cast doubt on the sincerity of the Canadian government's proclaimed intentions to forge a constructive dialogue with Russia. Of course, this unfriendly action, as before, will not remain unanswered. But the negative consequences of our response will be the sole responsibility of our Canadian partners."
(Mid.ru, November 29)