EDITORIAL: News from the front

The news from Russia – also known as the Capitol of the old Soviet Union – comes down the lines so fast we can hardly keep up. A squid starts writing an editorial about a story, and the next one overshadows them.

In summary, or rather, catch up:

–Last month, the peoples of four regions in Ukraine were “prompted” by the Kremlin to vote in a referendum on whether to join Russia.

“The referendums are over,” Vladimir Putin’s lackey Dmitry Medvedev said at the end of September. “The results are clear. Welcome home to Russia!”

The results were clear. Incredibly clear. In the Lugansk region, 98.4 percent of the people voted to join Russia. Not to be outdone, in Donetsk, 99.2 percent voted to join Mother Russia.

This week Comrade Putin declared martial law in these four regions.

Welcome to Russia, indeed.

No one in Russian state media — there is no other kind in Russia — has explained why martial law is necessary in regions where people are clamoring for annexation by Moscow. Maybe some people just don’t like it.

– Vladimir Vladimirovich not only declared martial law in his new lands, but according to cables he also gave emergency powers to all regional governors in Old Russia. The American press has barely reported it, but it may say more about President Putin’s influence on his homeland than any other piece of news.

According to the Associated Press: “Putin did not provide details on the additional powers that will be given to the heads of Russia’s regions under his decree. However, the order says that measures provided for by martial law could be imposed anywhere in Russia “if necessary”.

“Under Russian law, martial law could require, among other things, banning public gatherings, imposing travel bans and curfews, and enforcing censorship.”

The upper house of the Russian parliament “quickly approved” the law, because of course it did.

–One of the messages was headlined: “Where have all the men gone in Moscow?” Because men of a certain age don’t frequent the pubs and barbershops or the streets.

One theory is that many left Russia for better climes. Another theory is that many are staying at home to avoid being picked up by the state and sent to Ukraine to fight.

A message says at least 200,000 men have fled to Kazakhstan, where Russians can travel without passports. Can you imagine how scared you must be to flee to Kazakhstan?

–A CNN investigation of the so-called “Wagner mercenaries” shows them to be “Vladimir Putin’s unlikely shock troops.” That’s what they called Cossacks. Well, the polite way to describe them is: a Kremlin-sanctioned private military company.

These troops have played an important role for Moscow, from Syria to Sudan. They were the Russian answer to Western special forces. That is, highly trained, highly effective troops. You can make up to $5,000 a month, American. That is, they are paid in dollars.

But the CNN report says those units have been decimated on the battlefield while Ukrainians fight back for their country. The latest word: The mercenaries advertise in Russian prisons, promising mercy for a tour to Ukraine.

So much for highly qualified. But in the coming months we will see how effective they will be.

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