RIP Soviet-Era Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, 1942-2019


Vladimir Bukovski nominated as candidate for president of Russia. Posted by AP to YouTube July 21, 2015.

Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, once dubbed “a hero of almost legendary proportion among the Soviet dissident movement” by the New York Times, died of cardiac arrest in Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridge, England at 9:46 PM Greenwich Time on 27 October, 2019. He was 76. His health had been poor in recent years.

A gifted writer, Bukovsky was revered for his ability to document both the daily insults and grand oppression of Soviet prison life, and to convey with detail the soul-crushing effects of torture on both prisoner and jailer. – 10/27/2019 (more on website).

Related Online

In 1971, between prison sentences, Bukovsky helped smuggle to the West the psychiatric hospital records of six well-known dissidents – exposing a Soviet practice of declaring dissidents mentally ill in order to detain and discredit them, rather than have them labelled as political prisoners.

Then in 1976 Bukovsky was expelled to the West, in exchange for the imprisoned Chilean Communist Party leader Luis Corvalán. He settled in Cambridge in the UK. – 10/28/2019.

Posted to YouTube by Oslo Freedom Forum, July 14, 2011.

— First Publication in English, May 2019 —

Robert Frost interviews Vladimir Bukovsky on February 29, 2008, and the two discuss Vladimir Putin prior to the 2008 elections in which Dmitry Medvedev would win the Presidential appointment and the next day appoint Putin as Russia’s Prime Minister. Posted to YouTube by Al Jazeera English, March 1, 2008.


FTAC – About ‘Hybrid’ Putin – Some Questions for EU-NATO


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The grousing question was, ” Europe is right on Russia’s door step. They have militaries. Why aren’t they stopping Putin ? E.U. doesn’t do squat.”

The answer from BackChannels was —

Stop him . . . where?

From making friends?

From offering Russian passports to Russian speakers whom he may claim to be offering protection?

From spiffing up the nuclear missile silo and two radars in Crimea, Ukraine?

From bombing hospitals in Syria and bulking up his military presence in a space scoured of apparently excess Syrians?

From financing politicians like Marine Le Pen using circuitous routes to do so?

From cultivating like-minded “leaders” who view their states as family businesses and themselves as the best representatives of their national kind?

From playing his “energy card” in Turkey — and in Germany?

From flying nuclear-capable bombers in the Western Hemisphere?

From developing a nuclear missile too erratic and too fast to catch by any known defense system?

From stealing a Superbowl ring?

The boys, one selling, the other shopping Russian jets break for ice cream in the vicinity of August 27, 2019.

Related Online

Bekdil, Burak Ege and Matthew Bodner. “No obliteration: Western arms embargo has little impact on Turkey as it looks east.” Defense News, October 24, 2019.

ANKARA, Turkey, and MOSCOW — A number of Turkey’s NATO allies have suspended arms sales to the country in condemnation of its military incursion into Syria, but analysts and officials are shrugging off the embargo, saying it will have a minimal impact on the military’s operational capabilities.

Several countries, including France, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Spain and Germany, imposed arms embargoes against the Turkish government after its troops entered Syria to attack the Kurdish militia, which Turkey views as a terrorist group. Turkey said its military operation, launched Oct. 9, will help create a safe zone in northeastern Syria. – 10/23/2019.


A Precarious Kurdistan


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The official presentations of peace have become surreal.

Most understand that with the repression of democracy, especially through the jailing of journalists and the shuttering of publications, Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has all but denounced democracy for a turn “east” toward dictatorship.

America’s President Trump has agreed to the program but with one difference, i.e., claiming credit for peace in the region. He has nonetheless praised the Turkish leader, essentially hollowing out the meaning of “NATO” and the related Western ideals, principles, and values that were to be defended before the “Phantoms of the Soviet”, i.e., the forces of feudalism and associated criminals, political criminals, and tyrants.

Turkish news channels ran a countdown clock at the top of their screens to let the country know when the ceasefire in northern Syria would end. Military and political commentators tried to outdo each other’s prognostications about what would come out of the meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the city of Sochi. In the end, the presidents spent six hours discussing their path forward in northern Syria. – 10/23/2019.

Posted to YouTube by ABC News, October 21, 2019.

Posted to YouTube by CBS News, October 23, 2019.


Posted to YouTube by PBS NewsHour, October 21, 2019.

Posted to YouTube by Guardian News, August 28, 2019.

BackChannels expects the powerful mainstream media (Fake News!) to take note of the discrepancies illustrated here by juxtaposition.

It appears some wealthy — way “up there” in wealth born of thuggery — have in some states displaced democratic processes, evolving liberalism, rule of law and become powers unto themselves acting in their own feudal and wholly narcissistic and malign interests.



Kurdish Border With Turkey

Yesterday’s morning began with live videos of . . . nothing. “Live from Turkey-Syria border as ceasefire ends” said the Ruptly header. It turns out that while the phlegmatic American Congress had been inquiring about the changed state of affairs between Turkey and the West, Russia and Turkey together had been “taking care of” the Kurds . . . .

VOA News, October 23, 2019

Related: “US is biggest loser in Russia-Turkey Syria deal.” CNN, October 23, 2019.

The Devolution Will be Televised: Kurdistan – End of Ceasefire


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There may be a no-fly zone in force for the border of interest. The editor here has been listening to more testimony that watching “action” on the live cameras.

Earlier Today

Posted to YouTube in 2015

Kurdish forces acting as American / western proxies fought and died ejecting Islamic State from Syria. Is the west now to do nothing for them?

Related Online

Bekdil, Burak. “Turkey’s Pyrrhic Victory in Syria”. The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), October 22, 2019.

Fahim, Kareem. “Russia, Turkey agree to jointly remove Kurdish fighters along Turkey’s border in northern Syria.” The Washington Post, October 22, 2019.

O’Connor, Tom. “Russia and Turkey Present New Deal for Syria After Six Hours of Talks and U.S. Exit.” Newsweek, October 22, 2019.

Stark, Alexandra and Ariel I. Ahram. “How the United States Can Escape the Middle East’s Porxy Wars.” Foreign Policy Research Institute, October 22, 2019.

Now, the whole rationale Trump put forward for the retreat — to get American troops out of the Mideast and “endless wars” — is in doubt.

Rather than leaving the region, the withdrawing troops will deploy in neighboring Iraq to fight the Islamic State group, which could get new life from the Syrian turmoil. Some U.S. forces are still in eastern Syria, helping Kurdish fighters protect oilfields. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday he was discussing keeping them there.

Trump surprised even his own military on the ground when he agreed to remove U.S. soldiers working with Kurdish-led forces near the border in an Oct. 6 phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Three days later, Turkey launched its offensive with heavy bombardment along the border. 10/22/2019


From Democracy to Despotism – Erdogan Takes Turkey East


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Erdoğan says his demand for a safe zone in Syria is rooted in Turkey’s war against terrorism. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Erdoğan says, is as much a threat as the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense . . . .

Rubin, Michael. “Turkey’s Syria Policy Could Lead to Its Own Destruction.” National Interest, October 21, 2019.

While those both enamored and fearful of power have always played “both sides of the street”, Turkey’s drift from a freely speaking, open, and vibrant democracy to one far from NATO ethics, interests, and values should be clear to the free world. Through the power of President Erdogan’s feudal imagination and thuggery, Turkey has been transformed into a politically absolute polity driven by the narcissism of its leader

Worse for the Turks and even his fans: President Erdogan’s toadying before Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan may appear strong standing up to the west, which today cannot levy enough sanctions on his project (probably hurting the Turks more than the Turkish President), but how may he appear doing Putin’s bidding while his equally enamored — or captive to Moscow — neighbor, Bashar al-Assad AKA “Bashar the Butcher”, continues destroying and strangling Syria — in Turkey’s direction too — under cover of destroying Sunni Islamists?

When Turkish air power rightly downed two Russian MIGs overflying Turkey’s airspace while refusing communications with Turkish air defense, Erdogan refused apology. And what for? He and his military had done everything right for the purposes of Turkish Defense.

The Su-24 shootdown took place on November 24, 2015.

Eight months later, widely reported on June 27, 2016, Erdogan apologized to Putin.

That has turned out a fair demonstration of Russian “realpolitik” and maddening absolute power.

For those watching — and those who knew the facts — “Sultan Erdogan” may just as well have knelt before “Emperor Putin”.

Perhaps President Erdogan has had some household bills yet to pay, and, beside, has needed a certain supply of energy to heat the house.

I hope the excerpts and videos that follow prove helpful as windows into the love fest developed between Ankara and Moscow.


Posted to YouTube by Erdogan Gönüllüleri (Erdogan Volunteers), October 30, 2014.

The first direct gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey was the Blue Stream, commissioned in 2005. In 2009, Putin proposed a Blue Stream II line parallel to Blue Stream under the Black Sea.[2] The Blue Stream II project did not carry through and the South Stream project took the lead, until it was abandoned in 2014. The TurkStream (then named Turkish Stream) project was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 December 2014, during his state visit to Turkey.[1]

Related Online

Kenyon, Peter. “Turkey’s President And His 1,100 Room ‘White Palace'”. NPR, December 24, 2014.


Posted to YouTube by Channel 4 News, November 24, 2015.

The Russia Defence Ministry denied the aircraft ever left Syrian airspace, counter-claiming that their satellite data showed that the Sukhoi was about 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) inside Syrian airspace when it was shot down.[5] The U.S. State Department said that the U.S. independently confirmed that the aircraft’s flight path violated Turkish territory, and that the Turks gave multiple warnings to the pilot, to which they received no response and released audio recordings of the warnings they had broadcast.

Moscow’s Grand Mosque Dedication – Published to YouTube by RT, September 23, 2015.


MOSCOW — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized Monday for the downing of a Russian warplane in November and called for Russia and Turkey to mend a bilateral relationship that has become openly hostile over the incident. – 6/27/2016


Gazprom has started to fill the first branch of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream pipeline with natural gas. This is the final stage of testing the pipeline before putting it into operation later this year . . . .

. . . The first line is intended for the supply of Russian gas to Turkish consumers, the second – for gas supply to the countries of southern and southeast Europe. – 10/19/2019.

Erdoğan says his demand for a safe zone in Syria is rooted in Turkey’s war against terrorism. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Erdoğan says, is as much a threat as the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense: The SDF formed to fight Al Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State at a time when Turkey was passively if not actively supporting them. Nor can Turkish officials credibly point to terrorist attacks from Kurdish-governed portions of Syria. Groups that evolved from the PKK are not monoliths: The SDF is progressive and moderate; any visit to the region makes clear that the group does not embrace the PKK’s Cold War-era Marxism. The PKK itself has long sought peace and does not attack civilians. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) splinter group continues to engage in terrorism, but they are based nowhere near Syria nor do they have any links to the SDF. 10/21/2019

In a recent article in Foreign Policy, my colleague Steven A. Cook argued that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was playing Washington like a fiddle. With a combination of bluffs, threats, and bluster, Erdogan managed to convince the United States to come up with an arrangement in northeastern Syria to prevent a Turkish invasion—an arrangement that comes at the expense of the Kurds, who have carried the brunt of the fighting against the Islamic State. Whatever one thinks of the Kurds, their determination and sacrifice should be treated as an international public good; they have stopped and destroyed one of the most dangerous and homicidal groups the modern world has known. The Turks by contrast have contributed nothing to this endeavor.

If Erdogan has succeeded in manipulating Washington, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in turn, has played him to the hilt. – 9/3/2019.

Related on BackChannels

“Civilizational Narcissism”; “Malignant Narcissism”.

Also Related Online

Abadi, Cameron. “Why is Turkey Fighting Syria’s Kurds?” Foreign Policy (FP), October 17, 2019.

BBC News. “Qatar’s emir ‘gives $500m private jet to Turkey'”. September 17, 2018.

How Homeowner Erdogan Looks Online

Posted to YouTube by James Mac, December 28, 2014 – Primary Source: BBC News, “Erdogan presidential palace – in 60 seconds”, November 6, 2014.

Posted to YouTube by Global News, August 27, 2019.


Flashback Kurdistan 2016 – Three Videos


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Stephan Mansfield on TEDx Talks and posted to YouTube May 18, 2016.

Bayan Sami Rahman interview with David Rubin of the Rubin Report – posted to YouTube March 21, 2016.

Bayan Sami Rahman interview with David Rubin of the Rubin Report – posted to YouTube March 21, 2016.

Related Online

Leon, Melissa. “Erdogan vows to ‘crush the heads’ of Kurds if they don’t withdraw; both sides trade blame for violating cease-fire.” Fox News, October 19, 2019.

Manson, Katrina. “An ambassador without a country.” Financial Times, September 8, 2017.

Tomlinson, Lucas. “Trump says US troops in Syria to be withdrawn, redeployed in region.” Fox News, October 15, 2019.

Varfolomeeva, Anna and Mahir Zeynalov. “Kurdistan Representative: Sanctions, Threats Don’t Work on Us.” The Globe Post, October 2, 2017.

She said the U.S. and other countries privately acknowledged that Kurdistan has legitimate aspirations and some of them even agreed that Baghdad had pushed the region into a corner leading effectively to a point where it needed to have a referendum. But they also advised the regional Kurdistan government that it was not the right time for independence.

“But when we asked them, ‘well when is the right time?’, there wasn’t an answer.” – 10/2/2017.

BackChannels could do with professional intelligence interpretation — and vetting — on this apparently (or so claimed) near live video compilation.

Published to YouTube by “Drone Time” October 19, 2019.


A Reminder: Antietam National Cemetery


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There’s a lot of meaning packed into the three primary pictures and the cropped detail of “Old Simon” (officially, “Private Soldier Monument”) — and meaning for the greater world if it cares to adopt and defend the humanist best of western concepts and ideals that would win both restatement and setting forth as national purpose in the founding documents of the United States. The national narrative — from the ratifying of the Constitution through to the Civil War and about one-hundred years later our massive Civil Rights Movement and to this day’s extraordinary political and social evolution — has been wholly coherent and remarkably progressive and most human and good.

We keep old photographs for memories and reminders – and old cemeteries, memorials, and historic battlefields and parks for the same purpose.

Related on BackChannels

“Basic Training”.

Related Online

Library of Congress: “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”.

National Archives: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Bill of Rights, The Emancipation Proclamation.

National Park Service: “Antietam National Cemetery”.

History, Posted to YouTube on June 29, 2016.

AP Archive, posted to YouTube July 21, 2015.

We’ve had such a good spell of peace here in the U.S. that we’re rather cavalier in our lifestyles and opinions. That is what freedom allows and does and is supposed to do (for everyone). However, we may take our condition as a developing and vibrant national culture for granted. It may be helpful — and especially online — to revisit now and then the basics and historical touchstones of the American political dream and the experience of it.