Pravda.Ru offers its version of the most significant political events of 2013 that pushed away the feeling of the impending doomsday that owned the world a year ago. Even the deep crisis of the Roman Catholic Church shows that the abscess is opened, and liberal values promoted by the West have met a proper pushback in all parts of the world. Russia is entering the New Year in a greatly consolidated position, which cannot be said about the United States.
1. The main event of the year was Ukraine's refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union in November and the subsequent failure of the "Eastern Partnership" initiative. This essentially means the victory of Russia in the struggle with the West for the influence in the post-Soviet space in the long term. The smooth movement of independent Ukraine towards the tight embrace of the EU was interrupted by Vladimir Putin who asked his Ukrainian colleagues: "You want to live like in Paris, but do you know how to read? Markets are open, European rules and regulations are introduced. Industry will be shut down. This represents a definite shift towards an agricultural appendage of the Eurozone," Putin said, adding that he would introduce customs barriers to protect his own markets. For Ukraine standing on the verge of a default and bankruptcy this was unacceptable. While the Maidan was raging, President Viktor Yanukovych set off to seek loans. First, he asked the EU and IMF for money, but was turned down because they do have that much money, and if they do, it comes with unacceptable conditions. Then he went to Putin, though very reluctantly. As a result, in December Russia has provided Ukraine unprecedented assistance that will enable the country to not only survive the crisis, but show growth. The West called this pressure and desire to show off, but gentlemen, he who pays the piper calls the tune.
2. Two Russian strategic victories were won earlier in the area of the diplomatic battle for Syria. In July the advantage in the civil war in Syria was on the side of the government forces. Then the opposition came up with chemical weapons allegedly used by the government troops. In fact, it was used by Islamic terrorists who really wanted to give President Barack Obama a reason to accuse President Bashar Assad of stepping over the "red line." The culmination came in September. U.S. troops were preparing for limited strikes, but suddenly the main allies started leaving Obama's side. First the British Parliament voted for noninterference in the Syrian affairs, then Hollande said "only after you", then Obama was stalled by his own Congress that would not issue the approval. This was when Russian diplomacy has taken the initiative to destroy the "stumbling block." Everyone agreed very fast, and an agreement on the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria was signed. Joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize for assisting Putin and Obama. Putin is frequently visited by Arab sheiks who come to consult and negotiate, but the President has no intention to share the success.
3. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death from cancer in March has stunned the world. It was an extraordinary man and politician who built a strong state with socially oriented policy that he called socialism of the 21st century. Hugo Chavez has united Latin America, taught the continent not to be afraid of U.S. intelligence and created a political counterweight to the U.S. U.S. President Barack Obama after the death of the Comandante hoped that Venezuela would start a new chapter in its history, of course, with the changed course. But the U.S. bet on the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles fell through despite the blatant interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and subversive activities. As a result of the recognized democratic elections in April of 2013, Chavez's protégé Nicolas Maduro was elected Venezuelan President. This means that all contracts signed between Chavez and Russia, mainly in the military-technical and oil sectors, remained in force.
4. In late November, six international mediators (including the Russian Federation) and Iran have signed an agreement under which Iran would reduce work to enrich uranium to the level of five percent and will provide access to the IAEA inspections. In response, the U.S. agreed to weaken economic sanctions, namely, to release approximately $5 billion of the $50 billion of Iranian assets in foreign banks. Russia's position has always been determined by the fact that it would not be beneficial for Russia if Iran had a nuclear bomb. On the other hand, Russia understood that excessive pressure would harm its interests because it has a common sea border with the Islamic republic. Therefore, Russia teetered between the positions of the West and Iran. The main outcome is positive for the Russian Federation because no one is talking about a war between Iran and Israel, and especially between Iran and the West.
5. In February, Pope Benedict XVI, known as Joseph Ratzinger, has resigned. It was an unexpected, even sensational, move since such recusals are not common, and even more so due to the Pope's health problems or old age. The reasons for his departure were different. Known for his commitment to the "conservative values," the Pope could not withstand the pressure of liberal bishops, including his compatriots from Germany. He could not bless tolerance for sodomy, abortion and legalization of gay marriage. Interestingly, after his abdication the Vatican was struck by a lightning. The conclave chose a new Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit from Buenos Aires. His first steps have shown that he follows the well-organized, cohesive "gay lobby" in the United States and Europe that enjoys media support.
6. In early June, the Guardian newspaper started publishing the information provided by an employee of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden exposing total tapping and surveillance of the U.S. government in the entire world. The revelations have caused significant damage to the image of "the most democratic country in the world" and its president, who reportedly was not aware of the massive violations of the U.S. law. Whether you choose to believe in Obama's ignorance or not, it is bad for his image. Then the spying was justified by a terrorist threat, but U.S. authorities have not explained how it was a pretext for spying on presidents. The U.S. has a system of control and repression that consists of secret institutions (secret judgments, concentration camps) contrary to the U.S. Constitution. None of U.S. presidents (starting with Bush) have accepted the political responsibility for the establishment and operation of the system. Snowden's revelations destroyed the myth of the U.S. as a country of democratic values serving as a model for civilization.
7. On April 15, 2013 two bombs were detonated at the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, over 260 injured. U.S. authorities believe the organizers and perpetrators of the bombings to be Tsarnaev brothers, 26 -year-old Tamerlane and Johar who turned 20 last summer. Reflections after the fact, after revelations of Snowden, make you think that either NSA operates inefficiently with all the totality of its surveillance, which proves the vulnerability of America to terrorists, or it was a provocation to justify the total surveillance of NSA. The fact that Tsarnaev case is dubious is evidenced by the constant shift of the date of announcement of Tsarnaev's indictment. We can only guess whether the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requests a death penalty for Tsarnaev.
8. In June Russian Duma adopted a law on administrative responsibility for the propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among children. Adoption and ratification of the law were of great international importance. Russia withstood enormous pressure of the gay lobby that Pope Francis I has succumbed to. Moreover, it went on the offensive at the level of people's diplomacy, political figures and athletes. In his message to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would continue to adhere to the traditional values despite the fact that throughout the world morality and ethics norms are being reconsidered "We will strive to be leaders, defending international law, ensuring respect for national sovereignty, independence and identity of the people," said the president. Russia was successful in becoming such a leader and its example was followed by other countries. India restored the article of the Criminal Code criminalizing homosexuality, Australia abolished the state laws allowing same-sex marriages, and Uganda adopted a law providing imprisonment for sodomy.
9. The past year was marked by the expansion of the list of the countries wishing to join the Customs Union or form a free trade area (FTA). Armenia will be definitely joining, and a roadmap for Kyrgyzstan is being developed. CU is negotiating a FTA with the EFTA (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein), New Zealand, Vietnam, and Israel. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Russia is also hopeful that if successful, negotiations with Vietnam may serve as a model for similar negotiations on a free trade zone between TS and ASEAN. This expansion of the CU is both economic and political, as any political issue of this kind makes economic sense, and any economic project of this magnitude becomes political. But the expansion of the economic ties may bring RF not only advantages but also disadvantages, such as a threat of substitution of imported goods for Russian ones. Therefore, in the subsequent expansion Russia has to consider, first of all, its own national interests and the intentions of its partners in terms of further integration.
10. As a result of the October presidential election in Georgia, a new political system was finally formed. "Georgian Dream" became the ruling party, and George Margvelashvili became president. The United National Movement of Mikheil Saakashvili went into opposition, and its former leader has fled to the U.S. to escape from prosecution. Now he will lecture at a university. The Russian President recently said that it was necessary to restore diplomatic relations with Georgia, and it will be the first step towards the normalization of the relations. However, the path will not be easy because in August Putin's visit to Abkhazia forced Georgia to send a protest note to the Russian Federation. Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze called the Russian leader's visit "another assault on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia." So far there have been no indications that Georgia would recognize the independence of its former republics. On the other hand, Russia and Japan have not signed a peace treaty for over half a century, but that does not stop the countries from conducting joint military exercises.