So, How was Sweden doing in 2020?

On this blog all through 2020 I’ve been tracking the number of excess deaths recorded by statistics Sweden and for some part of the year, it looked like the number of deaths was around the same as the average of the years 2015-2019.

Now, it’s February 2021 and it’s a good moment to look at the whole year of 2020. The data is from Statistics Sweden at scb.se under Preliminär statistik över döda (Excel). The file is being updated regularly, I picked the one on Feb. 7, 2021:

Fig. 1 – Number of deaths per day Sweden

As we can see, towards the end of the year the number of deaths did increase again compared the the average of years 2015-2019.
These “excess” deaths are normally attributed by some people to the effects of COVID-19, however that is a stretch at this point and you’d have to look at other data to see whether this is actually the case here or whether there were also other factors contributing to a higher number of deaths in 2020 than in the average in years 2015 to 2019.

Boring, girls!

There’s something familiar about this “Putin’s Palace” story, for two reasons. For one thing, this piece of real-estate has been in the news since 2010, when it was buing built and rumours that it was somehow linked to Putin began to appear about “Putin’s Palace”. The rumours were kicked off by Sergei Kolesnikov who decided it was more lucrative to market himself as a whistleblower. The story was described by Reuters in 2014. In short, it seemed to have been owned by a company named Rirus then owned by Nikolai Shamalov and was later sold to Alexander Ponomarenko according to the Reuters article.

The Reuter’s article wasn’t even news. In 2012, BBC Newsnight already ran with this story, with a bit more prose and some images. They re-hashed it in 2016 in an article called “Russia RBC shake-up seen as new Putin raid on media”.
The story went quiet until recently when Navalny warmed it up again in a video that shows mostly speculations as what the interior might look like based on 3D renderings based on building blueprints that may or may not be accurate. The whole video is long an boring, and contains no real (primary) evidence on what the building actually looks like on the inside and about belonging to Putin.

The other reason that this looks familiar is because of the familiar pattern that is visible here: Create outrage, support anti-regime protests. The same modus operandi was visible in 2013/2014 when similar stories were run by Western media as part of their regime change campaing in Ukraine. Back then it was “Yanukovych’s Palace” – which actually existed and belonged to him, but was used as a proof of his corruption. Allegedly, there was a “golden toilet” in there, and you could even find pictures purporting to show it on the Internet, but when the estate was raided and made accessible to the public, the toilet failed to materialize.

So it seems West is trying to use the same tricks again to create strife – this time in Russia and cook up an old story, which Putin commented with “Скучно, девочки!” (Boring, girls!).


US Coronavirus Numbers – By State and Territory Dec 24, 2020

An update on the coronavirus situation in terms of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States, all 56 States and Territories. Data is from covidtracking.com and up-to-date as of December 24, 2020. Note, however, that due to holidays, reporting might be delayed.
First, overview of hospitalizations across the United States (large version is on Google Drive):

Data for most states shows a significant upward movement of hospitalizations. Most obvious increase happens in California and New York.

Second, overview of daily deaths across the United States (large version is on Google Drive):

And finally, the comparison of states as to the number of deaths due to COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants, as of Dec. 24, 2020:

Russian Peacekeepers Extend their Area of Responsibility after Incident

The MoD of Russia has published an new map of their area of responsibility on December 13, 2020.
It shows an extension in the South of Nagorno Karabakh. I present here the maps of Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, so you can see the change:

This is in response to incidents on Saturday Dec. 12 in the area there, when Azeris and Armenians exchanged fire and Azeris moved into the villages Khin Talgar and Khzaberd. The incident is said to have caused several deaths among Azeri and Armenian soldiers, also rumour has it that Turkish special forces also took part in the incident. Prime minister Pashinyan of Armenia made this claim, but it is unconfirmed.
The situation is now calm again and both villages have passed under control of Russian peacekeepers.

UAF Shells Village in DPR

⭐️🕙⭐️ Summary of the official representative of the People’s Militia of Donetsk People’s Republic

💥Violations of the ceasefire by the Ukrainian Armed Forces over the past day

♦ ️Over the past 24 hours, the armed formations of Ukraine have violated the Set of Additional Measures to Control Compliance with the Armistice FOUR times.
➖All violations were recorded in the Mariupol direction, where the militants of the Marine Corps battalion of the 36th brigade of the VFU, in violation of the SECOND clause of additional measures, from positions in the area of ​​the settlement of the item. VODYANOE TWICE opened fire from RPGs, AGS and grenade launchers in the area of ​​the settlement. LENINSKY, firing a total of SEVEN grenades.
❗️ In addition, in the Ukrainian positions in the area of ​​the settlement VODYANOE, at 14.27 and 14.51 FOUR explosions were recorded during the installation of additional minefields, which were carried out in order to exclude attempts to transfer subordinate military personnel to the side of the Republic.

Original Source in Russian: https://t.me/nm_dnr/2175

You can find an interactive version of the map at https://maps.ofehr.media/maps/ukraine

US Coronavirus Numbers – By State and Territory Nov 16, 2020

An update on the coronavirus situation in terms of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States, all 56 States and Territories. Data is from covidtracking.com and accurate as of November 16, 2020.
First, overview of hospitalizations across the United States (large version is on Google Drive):

Data for most states shows a visible upward movement of hospitalizations.

Second, overview of daily deaths across the United States (large version is on Google Drive):

And finally, the comparison of states as to the number of deaths due to COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants:

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict enters new Phase

We start with a translation of the three-party agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia:

Statement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and President of the Russian Federation
10 November 202011: 45
We, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan I. G. Aliyev, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia N. V. Pashinyan and the President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin, have declared the following:

1. A complete ceasefire and all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are announced from 00:00 hours Moscow time on November 10, 2020. The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia, hereinafter referred to as the Parties, stop at their positions.

2. Aghdam region is returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan until November 20, 2020.

3. Along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor, a peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is deployed in the amount of 1,960 servicemen with small arms, 90 armored personnel carriers, 380 units of automobile and special equipment.

4. The peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is being deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces. The duration of the stay of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is 5 years with automatic extension for the next 5-year periods, if none of the Parties declares 6 months before the expiration of the period of intention to terminate the application of this provision.

5. In order to increase the effectiveness of control over the implementation of the agreements by the Parties to the conflict, a peacekeeping center is being deployed to control the ceasefire.

6. The Republic of Armenia will return the Kelbajar region to the Republic of Azerbaijan by November 15, 2020, and the Lachin region by December 1, 2020. The Lachin corridor (5 km wide), which will ensure the connection of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and at the same time will not affect the city of Shusha, remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation.

By agreement of the Parties, in the next three years, a plan for the construction of a new route along the Lachin corridor will be determined, providing communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, with the subsequent redeployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to protect this route.

The Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of traffic along the Lachin corridor of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.

7. Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas under the control of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

8. The exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons and bodies of the dead is carried out.

9. All economic and transport links in the region are unblocked. The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the aim of organizing the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. Transport control is exercised by the bodies of the Border Service of the FSB of Russia.

By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be provided.
Russian original: http://kremlin.ru/acts/news/64384

To get a better feeling for what this means on the ground, let’s look at some maps.
First, the current military situation on the ground according to sources from Azerbaijan (Artsakh sources are similar):

Fig. 1 – Situational Map as of Nov. 10, 2020

There have been published a few maps that purport to show how the situation is supposed to be resolved.
The one that most closely matches the above official text is the one from Sputnik News:

Fig. 2 – Conflict Resolution Map

According to this, the green areas are already under the control of Azerbaijan. The shaded-green areas are currently under the control of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh and will be handed over to Azerbaijan.
The shaded-read areas will be under the control of Russian peacekeepers, including the Lacin corridor which connects Artsakh to Armenia and the city of Shushi.

To better understand this, it is important to understand, what was the area originally covered by the Nagorno-Karabakh Oblast, this mapped is attached at the beginning of the article (the red solid line on the Fig. 2).

Chapter 9, 10 & 11 of the Constitution of the USSR of 1991

If you want a better understanding of what’s going on in former Soviet Republics like Ukraine or Belarus, you may want to have a look at the Constitution as it was in 1991.

The full length original of the constitution in Russian is here.

In the last post, I mentioned Chapter 8, which is the most pertinent one regarding the territory of the USSR. There are also Chapters 9, 10 and 11 that have direct significance and applicability to many situations of today.

Lets start with Chapter 9:

Which translates in English as (according to Google, with some corrections by me marked by strikethrough of original and bold replacement):

Chapter 9. Union Soviet Socialist Republic

Article 76. The Union Republic is a sovereign Soviet socialist state, which has united with other Soviet republics into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Outside of the limits specified in Article 73 of the Constitution of the USSR, the union republic independently exercises state power on its territory.

The union republic has its own Constitution, which corresponds to the Constitution of the USSR and takes into account the peculiarities of the republic.

Article 77. The Union Republic participates in resolving issues within the jurisdiction of the USSR at the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Federation Council, the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR and other bodies of the USSR.

The Union Republic ensures comprehensive economic and social development on its territory, promotes the exercise of the powers of the USSR on this territory, and implements the decisions of the highest bodies of state power and administration of the USSR.

On issues related to its jurisdiction, the union republic coordinates and controls the activities of enterprises, institutions and organizations under union jurisdiction.

Article 78. The territory of a union republic cannot be changed without its consent. The boundaries between union republics can be changed by mutual agreement of the respective republics, which is subject to approval by the USSR.

Article 79. The Union Republic determines its territorial, regional, district, district division and decides other questions of the administrative-territorial structure.

Article 80. The Union Republic has the right to enter into relations with foreign states, conclude treaties with them and exchange diplomatic and consular representatives, participate in the activities of international organizations.

Article 81. The sovereign rights of the union republics are protected by the USSR.

It might not be immediately clear what the difference is between Chapter 8 (Union State) and Chapter 9 (Union Soviet Socialist Republic). In my understanding Chapter 9 just describes the legal entity, while Chapter 8 describes the purpose, extent and organs of the USSR, but there might be intricacies of Soviet law I am not aware of.

In any case, of special interest are Art. 79 and Art. 81.

Now, on to Chapters 10 & 11:

Which translates in English as (according to Google, with some corrections by me marked by strikethrough of original and bold replacement):

Chapter 10. Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

Article 82. An autonomous republic is a part of a union republic.

An autonomous republic, being outside the limits of the rights of the USSR and the union republic, independently resolves issues related to its jurisdiction.

An autonomous republic has its own Constitution, which corresponds to the Constitution of the USSR and the Constitution of the Union republic and takes into account the peculiarities of the autonomous republic.

Article 83. The Autonomous Republic participates in the solution of issues attributed to the jurisdiction of the USSR and the Union republic through the highest bodies of state power and administration, respectively, of the USSR and the Union republic.

The Autonomous Republic ensures comprehensive economic and social development on its territory, promotes the exercise of the powers of the USSR and the respective Union republic on this territory, implements the decisions of the highest bodies of state power and administration of the USSR and the Union republic.

On issues related to its jurisdiction, the autonomous republic coordinates and controls the activities of enterprises, institutions and organizations of the union and republican (union republic) subordination.

Article 84. The territory of an autonomous republic cannot be changed without its consent.

Article 85. In the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic there are autonomous Soviet socialist republics: Bashkir, Buryat, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkarian, Kalmyk, Karelian, Komi, Mari, Mordovia, North Ossetian, Tatar, Tuva, Udmurt, Chechen-Ingush, Yakutsk.

The Karakalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Nakhichevan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

Chapter 11. Autonomous Region and Autonomous Okrug

Article 86. An autonomous region is part of a union republic or territory. The law on the autonomous region is adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the union republic on the proposal of the Council of People’s Deputies of the autonomous region.

Article 87. In the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic there are autonomous regions: Adyghe, Gorno-Altai, Jewish, Karachay-Cherkess, Khakass.

The South Ossetian Autonomous Region is part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.

The Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region.

Article 88. An autonomous region is a part of a krai or region. The law on autonomous regions is adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the union republic.

You’ll find some familiar names here, like Nagorno-Karabakh or South-Ossetia, while you’ll not find Crimea, for example.

Note that I am working here with the Constitution of the USSR as of Dec. 26, 1990, which is essentially the same – with some changes – as the constitution of Oct. 7, 1977.
In this context, I’ll leave it at that and won’t go farther back in history.

Chapter 8 of the Constitution of the USSR of 1991

If you want a better understanding of what’s going on in former Soviet Republics like Ukraine or Belarus, you may want to have a look at the Constitution as it was in 1991.

The full length original of the constitution in Russian is here. The following is an excerpt of Chapter 8, which is the most pertinent one regarding the territory of the USSR:

Which translates in English as (according to Google, with some corrections by me marked by strikethrough of original and bold replacement):

Chapter 8. USSR – Union State

Article 70. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a single union multinational state formed on the basis of the principle of socialist federalism, as a result of the free self-determination of nations and the voluntary unification of equal Soviet Socialist Republics.

The USSR personifies embodies the state unity of the Soviet people, rallies all nations and nationalities for the purpose of building communism together.

Article 71. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the following are united:

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic,
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic,
Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic,
Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic,
Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic,
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic,
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic,
Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Article 72. Each union republic retains the right of free secession from the USSR.

Article 73. Subject to the jurisdiction of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics represented by its highest bodies of state power and administration shall be subject to:

1) the acceptance of new republics into the USSR; approval of the formation of new autonomous republics and autonomous regions within the union republics;

2) determination of the state border of the USSR and approval of changes in the borders between the union republics;

3) establishment of the general principles of organization and activity of republican and local bodies of state power and administration;

4) ensuring the unity of legislative regulation throughout the territory of the USSR, establishing the foundations of the legislation of the USSR and the union republics;

5) pursuing a unified social and economic policy, managing the country’s economy; determination of the main directions of scientific and technological progress and general measures for the rational use and protection of natural resources; development and approval of state plans for the economic and social development of the USSR, approval of reports on their implementation;

6) development and approval of the unified state budget of the USSR, approval of the report on its implementation; management of a single monetary and credit system; the establishment of taxes and incomes for the formation of the USSR state budget; determination of the policy in the field of prices and wages;

7) management of sectors of the national economy, associations and enterprises of union subordination; general management of the branches of the Union-republican subordination;

8) issues of peace and war, protection of sovereignty, protection of state borders and territory of the USSR, organization of defense, leadership of the Armed Forces of the USSR;

9) ensuring state security;

10) representation of the USSR in international relations; relations of the USSR with foreign states and international organizations; establishment of a general order and coordination of relations between the Union republics with foreign states and international organizations; foreign trade and other types of foreign economic activity based on state monopoly;

11) control over the observance of the Constitution of the USSR and ensuring the compliance of the constitutions of the union republics with the Constitution of the USSR;

12) solution of other issues of all-Union significance.

Article 74. The laws of the USSR have the same force on the territory of all Union republics. In the event of a discrepancy between the law of a union republic and an all-union law, the law of the USSR shall apply.

Article 75. The territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is unified and includes the territories of the Union republics.
The sovereignty of the USSR extends to its entire territory.

It’s worthwhile to compare this to the timeline of events in the Soviet Union in 1991. Which I intend to to in a future post.
I am just putting out here now that, according to this constitution, most – if not all – actions of body of union republics have either dubious legitimacy or are downright illegal.
This gives rise to conflicts because you have different groups with different ideas and a general lack of legitimacy of the new “nations” which manifests itself in utter bellicosity against its neighbours to justify it’s own existence, permanent chaos, and outright dictatorship.

There’s even a line of thought that claims none of the republics had left the Soviet Union according to the law, thus the Soviet Union de iure still exists.

In future posts I am going to look at some of those new “nations” and former Soviet republics and their inner or outer conflicts.

Nagorono-Karabakh Conflict – Some Numbers

As usual in such conflicts, reliable information is hard to come by and you have to rely on information that is provided by the parties to the conflict and see how much of it you can verify.
While it may not all be objectively true, it still gives you a good view on how the parties see the conflict developing.

First of all, it helps to keep in mind, that there are three entities in play here: Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), Armenia on the one side and Azerbaijan on the other.

From Artsahk sources, I have the following information about civilian costs of the conflict (Russian original/English translation added by me):

From Armenian official sources, losses of Azerbaijan military forces (doesn’t need translation, numbers are obvious):

From Azerbaijan sources, a map of the current situation on the ground according to them (note that there is a difference between Nagorno-Karabakh as a province/autonomous region of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh as a Republic):