Julia Ioffe

Carter Page

#NoPuppetNoPuppet | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Composite — Donald Trump: Detail of photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for msnbc; Carter Page: AP Photo; Puti-Toots: Artist unknown.

This is Carter Page. Honestly, it is pretty much what it looks like. The headlines can tell you quite a bit, and either read along or don’t; there is a lot there, and the tale really is as clumsy and ridiculous as it seems.

• Milder, Zachary. “Trump’s New Russia Adviser Has Deep Ties to Kremlin’s Gazprom”. Bloomberg. 30 March 2016.

• Ioffe, Julia. “The Mystery of Trump’s Man in Moscow”. Politico. 23 September 2016.

• Nechepurenko, Ivan. “Carter Page, Ex-Trump Adviser With Russian Ties, Visits Moscow”. The New York Times. 8 December 2016.

• Schwarz, Jon. “Carter Page, at Center of Trump Russian Investigation, Writes Bizarre Letter to DOJ Blaming Hillary Clinton”. The Intercept. 15 February 2017.

• Woodruff, Judy. “Former Trump adviser says he had no Russian meetings in the last year”. News Hour. 15 February 2017.

• Reilly, Steve. “Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention”. USA Today. 2 March 2017.

• Helsel, Phil. “Carter Page, Adviser Once Linked to Trump Campaign, Met With Russian Ambassador”. NBC News. 3 March 2017.

• Herridge, Catherine, Pamela K. Browne, and Christopher Wallace. “Ex-Trump adviser Carter Page rips ‘false narrative’ on Russia collusion”. FOX News. 30 March 2017.

• Ross, Brian and Matthew Mosk. “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page targeted for recruitment by Russian spies”. ABC News. 4 April 2017.

• Groll, Elias. “Russian Spy Met Trump Adviser Carter Page and Thought He Was an ‘Idiot'”. Foreign Policy. 4 April 2017.

• Kaczynski, Andrew. “Former Trump adviser Carter Page says he didn’t disclose Russian spy contacts to campaign”. CNN. 5 April 2017.

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The Strange Phenomenon Known as Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015.  Italy's prime minister visited Moscow on Thursday in a bid to repair ties that have been hurt by Russia-West tensions over Ukraine.  (AP Photo/Sergei Karpukhin, Pool)

Strangeness and Vladimir Putin might go together like, well, never mind that part. But Puti-Toots is missing, and there goes next season’s Dancing With the Tsars. Damn. Too bad about that; I should have gone with a cliché about not having a thing to wear.

Such as it is, Julia Ioffe explains for the Washington Post:

It’s been more than a week now since anybody’s seen Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had a mundane meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on March 5, and then … nothing. Since then, Putin hasn’t been seen in public, and the Russian blogosphere can talk about nothing else. Their president skipped a number of events—including one with his FSB bigwigs—and the Kazakhs, with whom Putin was supposed to meet this week, said the Russian president was ill. They quickly walked it back after the Kremlin denied it. The Kremlin began fiddling with Putin’s schedule. State television began broadcasting news of meetings planned for the future as if they had already happened in order to show that Putin was alive enough to attend meetings. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s mustachioed spokesman, has been stonewalling all week, insisting that his boss is not only breathing, but “breaking hands” with his manly handshake.

Unsurprisingly, this combination—active and seemingly frantic dissimulation, and flat denial that anything is amiss—is perfect for the Internet. #PutinIsDead began trending on Russian Twitter, and the Russian blogosphere began to churn out theories of what happened to Dear Shirtless Leader, each version more ludicrous than the next.

In a way, it would be perhaps genuinely funny if something untoward has, in fact, occurred. Ioffe’s account of the current murmur is about as morbid as we can expect for so entertaining a spectacle as the Russian President puts on, and, well, there is a bit of history with Russian leaders suddenly disappearing. In other words, it is not quite fair to say that it keeps going downhill from there, although we would note that nobody’s suggesting autoerotic asphyxiation, or even merely two weeks off for the world’s most famous closeteer to scratch his itch.

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Image note: Detail―Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. Italy’s prime minister visited Moscow on Thursday in a bid to repair ties that have been hurt by Russia-West tensions over Ukraine. (AP Photo/Sergei Karpukhin, Pool)

Ioffe, Julia. “This is why it’s impossible for the Kremlin to lie about Putin’s weird disappearance”. The Washington Post. 14 March 2015.

Just a Reminder

With much attention given to the evolving circumstances in Ukraine, perhaps it seems the wrong moment to remind that there are other wars going on:

Ethiopian and Somali government forces have seized a key town in central Somalia from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, officials say.

There is always a war going on, somewhere.At least 12 people were killed in heavy fighting for control of Rabdhure town in Bakol region, residents said.

The attack may signal the start of a new offensive against al-Shabab, according to a BBC reporter in Somalia.

Ethiopian troops are part of a 22,000-strong African Union (AU) force battling the militants in Somalia.

The BBC’s Mohamed Moalimu in the capital, Mogadishu, says the fall of Rabdhure is significant, as it was a major al-Shabab base for attacks across the region.

It would be the first town the group has lost since September, when Mahaday in central Somalia fell to AU-backed government forces.

(BBC)

There are always other wars going on.

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