Letter From the Editors: April 18 - 24, 2016

Navalny Takes on the CEC; Russia Ups the Ante With Antics Over the Baltic; and a Possible Homecoming for Savchenko

Shel Silverstein’s poem "Hug O’ War" starts with the lines: "I will not play at tug o’ war/ I’d rather play at hug o’ war/ Where everyone hugs/ Instead of tugs/ Where everyone giggles/ And rolls on the rug." You won’t find anyone rolling on the rug in Brussels this week, however. Despite the fact that the NATO-Russia Council has resumed its work following a two-year hiatus, the meeting ended up being the usual exchange of tired grievances.

So why was this format resurrected, and why now? According to military expert Viktor Litovkin, it was mainly because of "the Russian military’s successes in conducting the antiterrorist operation in Syria." Apparently, Washington was so bowled over by Russia’s show of strength that it finally saw the light and decided to treat it with a little more respect. Litovkin does not give NATO countries any credit, though - according to him, "the alliance is Washington’s fine-tuned military-political tool used to enslave and control Europe." So he suggests starting a dialogue, but strictly with Washington. "As for Stoltenberg & Co., they should go have a smoke."

Another tug o’ war - this time in Russia - resulted in a slightly more amicable outcome. After candidates from Aleksei Navalny’s Anticorruption Foundation announced they were dropping out of local village council elections due to procedural irregularities, the CEC made a surprise move - it invalidated the election results. The brouhaha started after it was discovered that several hundred people had voted early. In a small village, that translated to a fairly large percentage of the votes. In addition, the opposition candidates noted other instances of fraud: "free rides for voters to polling stations" and "bribes in the form of property rights offers."

Newly appointed CEC chairwoman ...

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