What's going on in Russia? (ongoing thread)

    Putin is chairing his emergency economic meeting to respond to US, UK, and EU sanctions. He calls the west “the empire of lies” pic.twitter.com/CdNW8qipAj

    — max seddon (@maxseddon) February 28, 2022

    continued after the jump

    The table is extremely long but the economic team are all crunched together as far away from Putin as possible pic.twitter.com/pUFJFZdISr

    — max seddon (@maxseddon) February 28, 2022

    Look, it's one thing when Macron is sitting opposite you, but there are seven people at the other end of this table. How does he know which one is speaking? If they snicker and pass notes, can he see them? pic.twitter.com/B0LxDCyJZ6

    — max seddon (@maxseddon) February 28, 2022

    Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Russian central bank, and Maxim Oreshkin, Putin's economic advisor, look like they are thinking hard about what to do with the western sanctions. pic.twitter.com/j9l2QzSBnJ

    — max seddon (@maxseddon) February 28, 2022

    Spot which one of these people is having fun pic.twitter.com/Ba426CxoNX

    — max seddon (@maxseddon) February 28, 2022


    So, something about those sanctions, a lot of neighboring countries, including Ukraine, use Russian banks. Could harm those it wasn't intended to harm.

    this is a good example of the ripple effect from the sanctions that they are dealing with; Bank of China-Singapore is probably not doing this for ideological reasons:

    (Reuters) - Bank of China's Singapore operation has stopped financing deals involving Russian oil and Russian companies, amid concerns of western sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said a source on Monday with knowledge of the matter.

    — Phil Stewart (@phildstewart) February 28, 2022

    If this song were what was going on in Russia, I think everyone would be a lot more chill. 

    Let's have fun with all of this!

    A lot of people say that Mark Zuckerberg is really a robot, but this picture of Vladimir Putin looks somewhere between a wax figure and a badly rendered video game cut scene: 


    Still at 2.5million Covid cases, 120K new per day (likely more), down from 200k.
    Consider 700-800 deaths a day since the 1st of the year, which is better than
    the 1000-1200 per day for the last 2 1/2 months of 2021, 800+ per day since July 1.
    And yet Putin has the energy and lack of focus to go chasing moonbeams in Ukraine.

    How many Russians did those "Nazis" kill vs plain old Covid-19 (215k in 8 months)
    Though Russia also has one of the highest excess mortality rates, around 750k extra deaths
    (likely Covid or problems caused by Covid such as lack of treatment due to crowded hospitals)
    Did Putin really think he could distract from these difficulties, excite the people by attacking fellow Slavs?

    Too many deaths—COVID has killed more than a million Russians and likely many more as #COVID19 rips thru RU. So far excess mortality is running high in Russia (144 mil pop)—higher per capita than many others.

    COVID and war are the last things the world needs right now. pic.twitter.com/PWLabrA9ug

    — Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) February 23, 2022


    Shell now too in addition to BP:

    Vladimir Putin accidentally revitalized the West's liberal order. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2022/02/vladimir-putin...


    One Putin move and the West reunites overnight https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-vladimir-putin-west-eu-nato-f8...

    Robin Wright retweeted by Fordham Law: Putin's miscalculation may make him a war criminal

    “Putin’s gamble seems to be that he can be in charge of what comes next... That is a foolish lack of appreciation for the power nato & the other countries have to contain his incursion—& in that lies his miscalculation.” -@KarenGreenberg3 @CNSFordhamLaw https://t.co/fkzCIh4SNU

    — Fordham University (@FordhamNYC) February 28, 2022

    Russian's unemployment is about to explode. "There were signs that something extraordinary was taking place: the Moscow Exchange, Russia’s largest stock market, has halted trading until 5 March". https://t.co/0A2Rnb3btP

    — Bao Hoang (@INBH0168) February 28, 2022

    #Russia’s central bank on Feb. 28 raised its key policy interest rate to 20% from 9.5% as it tried to contain the fallout of Western sanctions imposed in retaliation against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine https://t.co/7ThZx5IkDU

    — Aroguden (@Aroguden) February 28, 2022

    U.S. shuts embassy in Belarus, OKs evacuation from embassy in Moscow https://t.co/YYX9xNqgPa pic.twitter.com/bDEmWZTPmW

    — Reuters (@Reuters) February 28, 2022

    US expelling Russian diplomats from UN mission in New York
    US mission to UN accuses Russian diplomats of ‘espionage activities’, but Moscow’s envoy slams move as ‘hostile’.

    — F. Macías (@mexmad) February 28, 2022

    FIFA has decided to ban Russia and its teams indefinitely, thereby ejecting them from World Cup Qualifying. UEFA is following in the same direction which means that Spartak Moscow can no longer continue in the Europa League.#Ukraine #football #FIFA #sanctions #UEFA #Russia pic.twitter.com/OuJsIFpPlY

    — Remote Tavern (@remotetavern) February 28, 2022

    Moscow underground. Sometimes the act of resistance doesn’t have to be loud or bold, it just has to be. #Ukraine #SlavaUkraini pic.twitter.com/MvZc9wscUj

    — Belarus Free Theatre (@BFreeTheatre) February 27, 2022

    The Kyiv metro is open and the Moscow stock market is closed.

    — Larisa Galadza - (@LGaladza) February 28, 2022

    Fiona Hill on Putin: yes he would do nukes...

    No, i don't think we're on the verge of WoW III. I don't think China is really committing to bombs-away, and there's not the alliances that made the 2 Great Wars complex.

    But some on the left have shrieked "WW3! Nuclear war!" before any confrontation, taking the "you must back down, concede, or Putin could start the unthinkable" which has helped keep us from standing up for anything. Granted the incrementalism was relatively acceptable up to last week, aside from holding a sock puppet US presidency for 4 years - that sucked big time 

    War Crimes: not just an accusation on the internet anymore!

    VERY IMPORTANT POINT how western intel about what Putin intends is backed up by mistakes by his own propaganda producers:

    Splained even better on this Twitter thread, with ominous implications for Ukraine and us all as long as Putin is in power:

    ^ undoubtedly this is why so many countries are jumping on the bandwagon against Putin after sorting out all the facts they have - HE REALLY DOES WANT TO DESTROY "THE WEST"; they don't have to rely just on arguments from Ukraine or the U.S. or whatever, they've basically also got the same story backed up from the horse's mouth 

    Navalny speaks in an Instagram post and The Moscow Times publishes on it:

    Navalny not just speaking through his wife now! 12 tweets in English, here's the first 6

    No Apple, and now no Samsung:

    Likely a black market develops

    paywalled but you get the gist from the tweet:

    Russian talkshows dismiss ‘fake’ reports of military losses

    Pundits and officials turn to ‘mythbusting’ as evidence of Ukraine destruction undermines official line

     in Moscow TheGuardian.com, Tue 1 Mar 2022 19.36 GMT

    Russian state television talkshows are describing videos of missiles striking Ukrainian cities and reports of Russian soldiers killed in action as “fakes”, as the country’s media try to account for photos and video emerging from Ukraine that contradict official reports of the invasion.

    The “mythbusting” is one of the adjustments that TV propaganda shows have had to make as evidence of the growing destruction in cities such as Kharkiv and Kyiv makes it increasingly difficult for the government to present the fiction of a concentrated offensive in the Donbas region.

    On Channel One’s Vremya Pokazhet (Time Will Tell), pundits and officials took on the reports that hundreds of Russian soldiers had died, in a sign that the information about casualties could no longer be kept from the public.

    That followed stories over the weekend of Russian relatives describing shock and anger at finding out that their husbands, brothers and sons had been sent to fight in Ukraine.

    “There’s an enormous wave of information,” said the Russian MP Boris Chernyshev. “People are showing fakes, they’re showing what are allegedly our dead soldiers. All of that needs to be stopped.”

    For the first time on Tuesday, the Russian defence ministry said it planned to strike targets in Kyiv, days after its missiles rained down around the city as part of the beginning of the invasion. Soon, Russian missiles struck a TV tower in Kyiv, a sign that bombardments of Ukrainian cities are soon going to become far more widespread.

    Indiscriminate attacks are growing after early Russian failures to take the cities. Earlier on Tuesday a rocket aimed at the centre of Kharkiv killed at least seven people. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called it an act of terrorism.

    On TV debate shows, guests have begun to speak openly about the government’s desire to take Kyiv. “It’s just a question of time before they surrender or they are destroyed,” said Igor Korotchenko, a hawkish military journalist who featured prominently on one of the marathon sessions of 60 Minutes, a talkshow. “The fall of Kyiv is also a question of the coming three, four, five days, I don’t know exactly.”

    Russian news channels originally followed Vladimir Putin’s lead in calling the war a “special operation in the Donbas”, but on some state-run channels there have been references now to the beginning of a war.

    “It hasn’t changed that much but they’re having to admit now that it is a full-scale war and before it almost seemed like a surgical operation with no resistance,” said Francis Scarr, a journalist for BBC Monitoring who has closely followed how Russian state television has presented the war.

    The shows have come to dominate state television programming. “It’s very unusual. On Channel One they don’t have any entertainment shows throughout the whole day. Right from nine o’clock in the morning until 9pm, it’s just nonstop Vremya Pokazhet and Bolshaya Igra [The Great Game], you know, that one where they think they’re sort of dividing up the world.” [....]

    yup, good point:

    The Guardian's Moscow correspondent:

    On behalf of Oracle’s 150,000 employees around the world and in support of both the elected government of Ukraine and for the people of Ukraine, Oracle Corporation has already suspended all operations in the Russian Federation.

    — Oracle (@Oracle) March 2, 2022

    H&M temporarily suspends all sales in Russia https://t.co/H4LPe0Xgpl

    — BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 2, 2022

    Netflix pauses future projects in Russia https://t.co/mayu4e1Rnc

    — Business Writer (@Writer_Business) March 2, 2022


    doing the golden oldies ala War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

    BUT WAIT there's more!


    humor break (I think Putin would certainly like this video)

    The deluded and dense Putin seems to be starting to see the writing on the wall:

    Russian Covid cases down to 87k a day, but deaths remain steady at 750/day - 4th in the world for deaths, they've been over 700 per day for *8 months* now (and these are undoubtedly underreported). Still over 2 million infected at the moment. Just as backdrop to current events and faith in government.

    Zara closing all 502 stores, MORE -

    so no mo consumer credit!!! very serious. even for cards issued in other countries, will no longer work there

    BREAKING: Mastercard and Visa are suspending operations in Russia, in the latest blow to the country's financial system after its invasion of Ukraine. https://t.co/wGo7iGPs12

    — The Associated Press (@AP) March 5, 2022

    "We don't take this decision lightly," Mastercard said in a statement. Cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by Mastercard's network, and any of its cards issued outside the country will not work at Russian stores or ATMs.

    — The Associated Press (@AP) March 5, 2022

    Visa said it's working with clients and partners in Russia to cease all Visa transactions. https://t.co/axNIy9dNeG

    — The Associated Press (@AP) March 5, 2022



    wherein arta goes 'DOH!" and slaps forehead:


    Butina appears to be involved in such a swell program:

    Galeev followup tweet to the above should be of interest to Orion for one:

    Check out whole thread. "Galeev" is far from an I.R. know-nothing, though others may disagree Galina Starovoitova Fellow @WoodrowWilsonCenter MLitt in Early Modern History, St Andrews. MA in China Studies, Peking University


    The Daily Beast on what Putin's "top propaganda henchmen" are saying -

    The Guardian citing NYTimes article 1/2 hour ago, so you know it's good -

    Some Ukrainians have reported that their loved ones in Russia refuse to believe that Russian soldiers could bomb innocent people, or even that a war is occurring, according to a new report from a New York Times journalist in Lviv.

    Across Ukraine, residents reported that their close family members in Russia were repeating the official Kremlin position to them, denying the attacks and the extent of the violence, reporter Valerie Hopkins wrote. Some examples:

    Some more on the disinformation, misinformation and propaganda from Russian-backed outlets that has been spreading over the last week:

    Flood of Russian misinformation puts tech companies in the hot seat

    Read more

    followed by more tweets on protesters and arrests

    looks like "The West" includes Korea, Singapore & Japan as well as Australia & New Zealand:

    Here's on the Kremlin's symbol for the fight

    (by Neil MacFarquhar, a reporter who has been around the block a bit on this kind of thing.)

    Santa Putin's checking it twice

    McDonald's to temporarily close its 850 stores in Russia https://t.co/atpgfdz7F8

    — BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 8, 2022

    LIke it or not, I think this will be a huge deal as far as sending the message to ordinary proles that most of the world disagrees with what their country is doing. The Kremlin propagandists will have to spin another narrative to explain why this is happening, big time.

    they'd just REALLY like the world to sing in perfect harmony

    last chance, last dance -

    Has anyone else noticed how Israel is wisely avoided this entire situation? A lot of Israelis are from that part of the world.

    I think you have totally got that wrong! totally! Intimately involved with negotiations (including flying to Moscow to meet with Putin this last sabbath, actually) and the citizenry seems real proud of that-it's a big deal in all their media (of course it's complicated because it's involved with Iran negotiations too, and Russia is still at that table...)

    They are a major playa here. Here's the latest, I was gearing up to post it elsewhere:

    "Jerusalem views the gaps between the sides as shrinking,with Zelensky “cooling down” on NATO and willing to negotiate on the status of the Donbass and Crimea.Russia has backed down from calling for a full demilitarization of Ukraine..."Some hopeful signs. https://t.co/oSH7YFUV8X

    — Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) March 8, 2022

    maybe even more important that the U.S., because both sides will still talk to them. Both Zelenskyy & Putin welcome their input...

    IAEA Says Loses Contact With Chernobyl Nuclear Data Systems

    Not going to obey any of your international institutions? Or incompetence of military staff? Only Putin knows for sure...

    And why would Iran take any agreement seriously with this going on? I dunno, maybe ask Israel?

    I'm just a bit curious what would replace the Russian Federation if it collapsed. Maybe there'd be another Mongol invasion? I'm JK.

    Kamchatka is 12% bigger than California - has a half million people. Krasnoyarsk is 6x the size of Cali - has 2.9m. Sakha is 19x Cali's size, has less than a million. Prolly much of Russia is an invitation for China to attack for raw resources.

    Russia Admits It Actually Has Forced Conscripts to Fight in Ukraine

    by Rachel Olding @ DailyBeast.com, Published Mar. 09, 2022 10:34AM ET 

    Just a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin promised that conscripts and reservists were not being sent to fight in Ukraine, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has admitted they actually are. In a Wednesday statement, the ministry said some had even been taken prisoner in Ukraine after joining the Russian invasion. “Comprehensive measures are being taken to prevent conscripts from being sent into combat areas and to release captured servicemen,” the statement claimed.

    Read it at The New York Times

    Here is how Russian news broadcasts are covering the war in Ukraine.

    by Neil MacFarquhar @ NYTimes.com, March 8, 2022, 4:50 p.m.

    To spend several days watching news broadcasts on the main state channels, as well as surveying state-controlled newspapers, is to witness the extent of the Kremlin’s efforts to sanitize its war with the Orwellian term “special military operation” — and to make all news coverage align with that message.

    Words like “war” or “invasion” to describe the actions of the Russian military are forbidden under a new law that President Putin signed on Friday. The law mandates up to 15 years in prison for any coverage the state deems “false information” about the military campaign.

    “It is not a war on Russian TV,” said Stanislav Kucher, a veteran Russian television host and former member of the presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. Mr. Kucher moved to the United States after his shows were repeatedly shuttered.

    “You will not see explosions, you will not see strikes on neighborhoods where civilians live, you will not see a lot in terms of troops, soldiers, heavy armored vehicles or anything like that,” he added.

    News bulletins are fairly uniform from one television channel to the next. The “operations” in Ukraine are basically described as a peacekeeping mission by the military to rescue the Russian-speaking residents of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk from the terrible war crimes perpetuated on them by the Ukrainian government. The West is described as completely unsympathetic to their plight.

    The vast destruction visited on the city of Kharkiv and many smaller towns in the northeast usually merits at best a passing reference, or is blamed on Ukrainian forces.

    The 2 p.m. News on Saturday on Channel One, one of the two most popular channels along with Rossiya-1, was typical in this tale of two wars.

    It started with the anchor quoting Mr. Putin, saying that the “special operation’’ was proceeding as planned. The destruction of the military infrastructure will be completed soon, he added

    Read the full story about the Kremlin’s efforts to sanitize its war on the main state news channels.

    ^ highly recommend reading the FULL NYTimes article at the link at the bottom above, much more detail and lots of photos

    He was so incredibly good at finding the right words -

    the kids Russia is left with after he's gone are not going to be all right:

    Blinken trying to prick the conscience of Russian officials:

    Now this just looks so phony, more CGI than Potemkin:

    Do Chechen soldiers carry halal MREs with them?

    looks to me like these cyborg Chechens, they don't need to eat cheeky

    same (?) Chechen commander back with another propaganda video, supposedly from Ukraine, looking more real this time

    what Lavrov said yesterday (I think) is similar

    James has a good question


    what Peter Dickinson, chief editor of Ukraine Business, thinks, published by Atlantic Council, March 10

    Not just Putin: Most Russians support the war in Ukraine


    This agitprop is devilishly clever, I couldn't decide whether it should go on my "Creating a Narrative" thread or this one; I include Ostlund's comment because it does show one of the ways it could be used

    try again? was interested in your comment but it didn't take!

    edit to add, if you're interested, here's the problem you ran into trying to embed the tweet here - which Peracles figured out right away and taught me. When a tweet includes symbols or emojis, Dagblog software can't read those the way Twitter codes them. BUT it's easy to fix! If you delete them in your pasted embed code, the embed goes through and they appear anyways!!!

    Here, Spencer put two flags between his first and last name. They show up in the embed code as little "EU" letters and two squares. I deleted those before I hit publish and voila, here's the tweet:

    oh, so interesting, the realignment this is causing

    Psaki statement on possibility of Russia seizing assets of U.S. & international companies, Twitter thread starts here

    From NY Times: 

    Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

    The Perebyinis family

    The photograph has become a worldwide symbol of Russia’s brutality toward Ukrainian civilians.

    Four people lay near an intersection in Irpin, a Kyiv suburb, on Sunday. All were dead or soon would be, from the force of Russian mortars. There had been no Ukrainian forces where the mortars landed, suggesting Russia might have been targeting a civilian escape route near Kyiv.

    If so, it was part of Russia’s larger campaign to demoralize Ukraine by killing and wounding ordinary people, a strategy the Russian military has also used in Syria and Chechnya. Ukraine is now enduring these attacks every day, many of them undocumented.

    In Irpin, however, a team of Times journalists happened to be nearby when the mortar shells landed, and one of them, Lynsey Addario, took the photograph of the family. “I thought, you know, it’s disrespectful to take a photo, but I have to take a photo — this is a war crime,” Lynsey told CBS Evening News. “I think it’s really important that people around the world see these images.”

    In the days since the attack, my colleagues have reconstructed the lives of the four victims: Tetiana Perebyinis and her two children, 18-year-old Mykyta and 9-year-old Alisa, along with Anatoly Berezhnyi, a 26-year-old church volunteer trying to help them to safety.

    Serhiy Perebyinis with photos of his wife and children.Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

    Putin says Russia is going to recruit “volunteers” to fight against Ukraine and “help them make it to the combat zone.”

    Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister, says the most “volunteers” are from the Middle East, where 16,000 people apparently want to fight for Donetsk and Luhansk. pic.twitter.com/8aur4Wt8JC

    — max seddon (@maxseddon) March 11, 2022



    if this goes on much longer, dissidents will have to revisit the idea of samizdat

    related, I did note with interest a segment on MSNBC that I saw about this growing movement yesterday

    Uniglo caved - it is interesting that so many companies end up seeing writing on the wall of the benefit of doing so, it's like a world poll, where you better get out of that market or you'll be sorry?

    Deutsche Bank too! [GASP! then shock and awe!]

    Ambiguity in use of nukes

    To be or not to be?

    What *is* "existential"?

    Where's Foucault?


    A Russian spy chief is said to have been placed under house arrest in a sign that President Putin is seeking to blame the security services for the stalled invasion of Ukraine https://t.co/FtlYZ5g4YV

    — The Times (@thetimes) March 12, 2022

    Twitter is starting an events page on it, so you can get more here


    Perfect - i imagine the security services are in the best place to take Putin out.

    doh, forgot they were invented for just this kind of time!

    Russians are gonna be seeing a lot of Tucker Carlson



    using blank signs to "protest". still getting arrested.

    Meantime Zelensky mktg push invites comparisons with inept Trump public exposure. (how was he even popular? Why do people like him? Strange.)

    more on the Channel One News protester:

    A Russian millionaire-politician's daughter writes with passion that the "difficulties" Russians now face will make them more patriotic. She posted these comments from...Dubai https://t.co/O1AcW7yVcX

    — Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) March 13, 2022

    don't know about the accuracy of this one but worth sharing:

    French activist broke into the villa of
    Putin's daughter Catherine Tikhonova in Biarritz,France, changed the locks in the house and invited refugees from #Ukraine.https://t.co/2cSbwBiV4k

    — AlexandruC4 (@AlexandruC4) March 13, 2022

    there is another big story today of police evicting activists from an oligarch's house in London...

    Basically it's: no talking on the street to cameras, period.

    more at Twitter events

    War in Ukraine 31 minutes ago

    Fact-checkers identify deepfake video of President Zelenskyy after Ukrainian officials warned of Russia spreading fabricated media

    Ukrainian officials, including those from the military and intelligence agencies, have warned against the potential spread of deepfake media of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy created through machine learning. Fact-checkers at Snopes identified one such video by looking at the source of the footage, reporting that, “Zelenskyy has recorded several videos using the same background on his social media profiles and on the official social media pages of the Ukrainian government. This deepfake, needless to say, was never posted to these pages.”

    ^ Il Duce without the intellectual pretensions. (And of course since it's about mother Russia and not Rome, with the Russian Orthodox Church instead of Roman Catholicism.)

    overall what comes across from the article is that she is one of the few foreigners in Moscow

    (NYTimes' Moscow Bureau Chief)

    meantime at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, there is a sizable crowd gathered for a pro-government rally. Some Russian and foreign media say public-sector employees were forced to attend https://t.co/KOblSnOPNw

    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022

    the rallies -- in Moscow, Izhevsk, and other cities-- are to mark the 8th anniversary of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula. The annexation was hugely popular in Russia.

    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022

    meantime, @AvtozakLIVE dug up a social media post advertising today's rally at Luzhniki. The post offers people 500 rubles to attend (plus hot food). pic.twitter.com/bijyefJXrL

    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022

    Putin's introduction and entrance -- to the roaring crowd -- is pic.twitter.com/68mJxyNnSj

    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022

    "We, the multinational people of the Russian Federation, are united by a common destiny for our land." pic.twitter.com/DGWgxsKIVv

    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022

    "We see how heroically our guys are acting, and fighting, in the course of this operation." (the Kremlin has prohibited Russians from using the word 'war' or 'invasion' to describe Russia's invasion of Ukraine) pic.twitter.com/IkcBglWkAH

    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022


    — Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 18, 2022

    A Pro-Kremlin rally to mark the 8th anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea is about to take place at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. Reuters and others have reported that state employees have been pressured to attend the event pic.twitter.com/rAtYA78Hxq

    — Pjotr Sauer (@PjotrSauer) March 18, 2022

    Russia is losing tens of thousands of outward-looking young professionals.

    3 hours ago Jane Arraf NYTimes.com

    The Lumen cafe in Yerevan, Armenia, has become one of the hangouts for young Russian professionals who left their country after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

    The Lumen cafe in Yerevan, Armenia, has become one of the hangouts for young Russian professionals who left their country after Russia invaded Ukraine. Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    YEREVAN, Armenia — At the Lumen cafe in the Armenian capital, Russians arrive as soon as the doors open, ordering specialty coffees, opening up their sleek Apple laptops and trying to navigate a dwindling array of options for starting their lives over.

    The background music and the sunlit interior are calming counterpoints to the frantic departures from their country, where they left behind parents, pets and the sense of home that all but vanished when Russia invaded Ukraine last month.

    “This war was something I thought could never happen,” said Polina Loseva, 29, a web designer from Moscow working with a private Russian I.T. company that she did not want to name. “When it started, I felt that now, everything is possible. Already they are putting people in jail for some harmless words on Facebook. It was safer to leave.”

    This is a different kind of exodus — tens of thousands of young, urban, multilingual professionals who are able to work remotely from almost anywhere, many of them in information technology or freelancers in creative industries.

    ImageBulat Mustafin, 24, and his girlfriend, Viktoria Poymenova, 22, from the Russian city of Mineralnye Vody, arrived in Yerevan on Monday. Their plan was to travel on to Georgia and find an affordable apartment.

    Bulat Mustafin, 24, and his girlfriend, Viktoria Poymenova, 22, from the Russian city of Mineralnye Vody, arrived in Yerevan on Monday. Their plan was to travel on to Georgia and find an affordable apartment.Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    Russia is hemorrhaging outward-looking young professionals who were part of a global economy that has largely cut off their country.

    Before the war broke out, only about 3,000 to 4,000 Russians were registered as workers in Armenia, according to officials. But in the two weeks following the invasion, at least an equal number arrived almost every day in this small country. While thousands have moved on to other destinations, government officials said late last week that about 20,000 remained. Tens of thousands more are looking to start new lives in other countries.

    The speed and scale of the exodus are evidence of a seismic shift that the invasion set off inside Russia. Though President Vladimir V. Putin repressed dissent, Russia until last month remained a place where people could travel relatively unfettered overseas, with a mostly uncensored internet that gave a platform to independent media, a thriving tech industry and a world-class arts scene. Life was good, the émigrés said.

    ImageRepublic Square in Yerevan. Before the war broke out, only about 3,000 to 4,000 Russians were registered as workers in Armenia, according to officials.

    Republic Square in Yerevan. Before the war broke out, only about 3,000 to 4,000 Russians were registered as workers in Armenia, according to officials.Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    For the new arrivals in Armenia, a sense of controlled panic overlays the guilt of leaving their families, friends and homeland, along with the fear of speaking openly and the sorrow of seeing a country they love doing something they hate.

    “Most of those who left oppose the war because they are connected to the world and they understand what’s happening,” said Ivan, part-owner of a Cyprus-based video game development firm. He and many other Russian exiles interviewed in Armenia said they did not want to give their full names for fear of repercussions at home.

    Ms. Loseva and her boyfriend, Roman Zhigalov, a 32-year-old web developer who works for the same company that she does, sat at a table in the crowded cafe with friends who were looking for a place to stay. Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, she leaned against Mr. Zhigalov, closing her eyes as he put his arm around her shoulder.

    “A month ago, I didn’t want to move to another country,” she said. “But now, I don’t want to go back. It’s not the country I want to live in anymore.”

    ImagePolina Loseva and her boyfriend, Roman Zhigalov, in their temporary apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia, after leaving Yerevan, their first stop after Moscow.

    Polina Loseva and her boyfriend, Roman Zhigalov, in their temporary apartment in Tbilisi, Georgia, after leaving Yerevan, their first stop after Moscow.Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    At other tables in the small cafe, young Russians tapped on laptops or checked their Apple watches. Some logged into Zoom meetings; others searched for places that they could afford to rent with their savings inaccessible.

    But the plunge in the ruble, which at one point had lost about 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar, and the soaring housing costs in Armenia, which are priced in dollars, have left some who lived in stylish apartments in Moscow contemplating moves from budget hotels to even cheaper hostels with bunk beds and shared bathrooms.

    Most of those who have come to Armenia work in I.T. and other sectors that rely on unfettered internet and international banking links, the country’s economy minister, Vahan Kerobyan, told The New York Times.

    But among those who have fled Russia are also bloggers, journalists or activists who feared arrest under the country’s draconian new law that makes it a crime even to use the word “war” in connection with Ukraine.

    Some of the recent Russian arrivals in Armenia said they have contracts that will pay them for at least a couple of months of working remotely if they can find a way to get the money. Others said they had been relocated to Armenia by U.S. and other I.T. firms, which continue to pay their salaries. But many have been left scrambling to access enough money to scrape together apartment deposits.

    ImageKonstantin Chistokhin, 33, was staying at a hostel in Yerevan. “I wanted to move away from Russia a long time ago, with no future, low salaries. Now the war in Ukraine is a catastrophe for Russia and the Russian people,” he said. “I left my home five days ago and now I am trying to rebuild my life.”

    Konstantin Chistokhin, 33, was staying at a hostel in Yerevan. “I wanted to move away from Russia a long time ago, with no future, low salaries. Now the war in Ukraine is a catastrophe for Russia and the Russian people,” he said. “I left my home five days ago and now I am trying to rebuild my life.”Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    Visa, Mastercard and PayPal have all cut ties with Russia, leaving only the Russian Mir bank card, which is accepted in Armenia and a very few other countries, for electronic payments.

    Kate, 26, who works at an aid agency, said the night before she and her boyfriend left Moscow, they went from A.T.M. to A.T.M. for three hours, unsuccessfully trying to withdraw dollars. At every cash machine, people with bodyguards would push to the front of the line and withdraw $5,000 at a time until the machines were empty, she recalled.

    “We couldn’t say anything because it felt really dangerous,” she said.

    Tens of thousands of other Russian exiles have traveled to Georgia and Turkey. But Armenia, a former Soviet republic which has remained neutral in the conflict, has offered the softest landing. Unlike the reception in Georgia, none of the Russians interviewed said they had encountered hostility. Here, they can enter the country without visas or even passports and stay up to six months, and Russian is widely spoken.

    For some, the anguish of leaving their country is compounded by the feeling that the world increasingly equates all Russians with their president.

    “I want to be with the rest of the world, not with Russia,” said Mr. Zhigalov, the web developer. “But we cannot be with the rest of the world because it feels like being Russian now is seen as a bad thing.”

    Maria, a 30-year-old Russian travel guide editor who had arrived in Armenia the previous week, also worried about the hostility.

    “What do people in America think of Russians?” she asked earnestly. “Do they hate us?”

    Maria said she had been involved in anti-government protests in Russia in 2018.

    “I was so scared,” she said of her decision to leave with her husband, a manager of a sports training center. “I was afraid of being arrested if I went out to protest. And to live there and do nothing, I don’t want to live like that.”

    Most of the Russians interviewed said they left because crushing international sanctions had made it impossible to work for companies from other countries or with foreign clients, or because they feared that Russia could close its borders.

    Like many of the men who left, her husband, Evgeny, feared that he could be conscripted and forced to fight in Ukraine. The couple scrambled to find a flight out of Moscow after most airlines had cut ties with Russia, eventually spending almost all the money they had on tickets for a flight to Yerevan.

    ImageThe Mother of Armenia statue in Yerevan. Armenia, a former Soviet republic, has offered the softest landing for thousands of Russian exiles.

    The Mother of Armenia statue in Yerevan. Armenia, a former Soviet republic, has offered the softest landing for thousands of Russian exiles.Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    Many of those who left are entrepreneurs or freelancers in industries that relied on foreign clients, who have cut ties with them, even for work outside of Russia.

    “They just tell us, ‘Sorry guys. We hope to work together in the future but right now, we cannot,’” Ivan, the video game developer, said of his European partners.

    At another cafe, 35-year-old Alex, his blond hair pulled back with a hair tie and arms tattooed with milestones in his life, said he spent four hours at the Moscow airport while his flight was delayed, drinking gin and tonics.

    “I just got drunk in the airport to get some courage,” he said. “I probably should have left earlier, but I’m in love with my country.”

    Alex, who did not want to say what industry he worked in, said he cried as he listened to voice messages from Ukrainian friends who had been called up to fight.

    “These guys were sitting around, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, playing music,” he said. “The next day, they had to go get a gun and defend their country. These were people who had never held a gun before. It’s horrible.”


    Sergey Naumeno, 36, and his wife, Natalya Vinagradova, 38, working from their new temporary apartment in Yerevan. Many Russian professionals who have left are able to work remotely from almost anywhere.

    Sergey Naumeno, 36, and his wife, Natalya Vinagradova, 38, working from their new temporary apartment in Yerevan. Many Russian professionals who have left are able to work remotely from almost anywhere.Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    For many Russians, there is also the pain of a generational divide with parents and grandparents who grew up in the former Soviet Union.

    “My parents, my grandma and grandpa are watching TV and totally believing the TV line so it hurts to speak with them,” said Kate, the aid worker. “At one point, I realized I loved them too much to argue. So I said, let’s not talk about it.”

    “I don’t have any stable ground under my feet,” she said. “We are here now, but we don’t know where we will be in a week or a month, or even tomorrow.”

    At the Yerevan airport last week, Viktoria Poymenova, 22, and her boyfriend, Bulat Mustafin, 24, from the Russian city of Mineralnye Vody, wheeled out a tower of suitcases, bulging backpacks and two small carriers holding their small rescue dog, Mukha, and their tortoiseshell cat, Kisya.

    Mr. Mustafin, an engineer, worked as a technician for film projectors in cinemas, which are now unable to show films from Hollywood studios, since they have cut ties with Russia.

    Ms. Poymenova teaches web programming for a Cyprus-based online school. Their plan was to find an affordable apartment in Georgia.

    “If we don’t find one, we will come back here. And if we don’t find one here, we will go to Turkey. And if there is nothing, we will go to Serbia,” said Ms. Poymenova. “We just want a peaceful life, but it is very hard when your country is making such a disaster.”

    ImageMr. Mustafin at the airport in Yerevan with his rescue dog, Mukha.

    Mr. Mustafin at the airport in Yerevan with his rescue dog, Mukha.Credit...Daro Sulakauri for The New York Times

    Hungo-Polish intrigue w LePen?


    (no, don't know how accurate this is)

    Ukraine has killed RU's weapon sales

    The hype is over - it won't recover.

    I've read a LOT of stuff now along these lines by knowledgeable and pragmatic people, and that's part of the problem as he cant back down, and all he's got left is brutal crude stuff. Syria allover again but worse this time. He wants the Russian 'empire' to be a contender but it's all strings and mirrors in his head, there's no there there (even things like population,not just weapons)

    By Sheelah Kolhatkar, a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she writes about Wall Street, Silicon Valley, economics, and politics-

    INTERESTING that MacNab and her followers would be considered a threat worth spending time on -

    and ICYMI -

    that's a thread if you don't have access to Bloomberg, you can get the gist of it on Twitter

    Black Sea ship struck

    current WaPo headline: Putin faces fury in Russia over military mobilization and prisoner swap

    Amid tearful farewells for thousands of Russian men called up for potential deployment to Ukraine, pro-war hawks raged over the release of Azov Regiment fighters.

    By Robyn DixonMary Ilyushina and David L. Stern 1 hour ago

    oops, deleted, moved to newer thread


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