Russian Cyberwarfare Documents Leaked

Now this is interesting:

Thousands of pages of secret documents reveal how Vulkan’s engineers have worked for Russian military and intelligence agencies to support hacking operations, train operatives before attacks on national infrastructure, spread disinformation and control sections of the internet.

The company’s work is linked to the federal security service or FSB, the domestic spy agency; the operational and intelligence divisions of the armed forces, known as the GOU and GRU; and the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence organisation.

Lots more at the link.

The documents are in Russian, so it will be a while before we get translations.

EDITED TO ADD (4/1): More information.

Posted on March 30, 2023 at 6:00 PM40 Comments


Clive Robinson March 30, 2023 7:20 PM

@ Bruce, ALL,

Re : Big Business + Government.

Remember the shock when the NSA room in an AT&T major node was made public?

The noise about RIM / BlackBerrygetting under the covers with Packistan and Saudi Arabia?

How about Google and others snuggling up to the Chinese?

The list goes on and on… They talk about “Battle Fatigue”, “Shell Shock” and all sorts of other names when such atrocities nolonger even get a “shoulder shrug”…

It is what “business does” it’s always profit / growth / share holder value before morals, ethics, or quite often legality…

After all how many corps have had their collars felt over bribery and corruption with foreign governments?

Thus this “tie-up” is shall we say “expected” rather than “unexpected”.

I’m sure many will be shocked by some of what comes out but I can remember back to the early 1990’s where Russian Business was done with bombs, bullets and killer dogs, and those from the West who had invested and not taken appropriate precautions if they were lucky faced hundredsd year jail sentances for crimes they not their Russian partners had committed… With all the forged paperwork, bribed judges, frightened off or misteriously dead defence witnesses, the only sensible thing was to get the heck out of dodge with if you were lucky your shirt still on your back…

As we now know a lot of that alleged criminal activity and “wet work” was actually carried out by Russian Security Forces for certain Russian persons that are now only just getting put on international lists and having their cruise ships etc confiscated…

Let’s just say the closer you are the harder it is to say NO to such “inducements”. As someone pointed out “family tickets for flying lessons” especially out of hospital upper floors tend to only have one very short lesson, that often does not get to “terminal velocity” not that that effects the outcome.

ResearcherZero March 31, 2023 2:29 AM

“Later, I understood that we weren’t just collecting data. But that it was being used by the Russian secret service.”

“You don’t find network diagrams and design documents like this very often. It really is very intricate stuff. This wasn’t meant to be ever seen publicly.”

The experts cautioned that it was not clear which of the programs had been completed and deployed, as opposed to being merely developed and ordered up by the Russian military, including by units linked to the GRU. This includes programs to create fake social media pages and software that can identify and stockpile lists of vulnerabilities in computer systems across the globe for possible future targeting.

The documents detail a suite of computer programs and databases that would allow Russia’s intelligence agencies and hacking groups to better find vulnerabilities, coordinate attacks and control online activity. The trove offers a rare window into the secret corporate dealings of Russia’s military and spy agencies, including work for the notorious government hacking group Sandworm. The unsigned, 11-page document, dated 2019, showed a Sandworm official approving the data transfer protocol for one of the platforms.

Several mock-ups of a user interface for a project known as Amezit appear to depict examples of possible hacking targets, including the Foreign Ministry in Switzerland and a nuclear power plant in that nation. Another document shows a map of the United States with circles that appear to represent clusters of internet servers. The documents do not, however, include verified target lists, malicious software code or evidence linking the projects to known cyberattacks.

“With physical access, you can plug this tool into a network and it will map out vulnerable machines.” Emails suggest that the Amezit systems were at least tested by Russian intelligence agencies by 2020. Emails suggest that the Amezit systems were at least tested by Russian intelligence agencies by 2020.

Amezit is intended to enable discovery and mapping of critical facilities such as railways and power plants, but only when the attacker has physical access to a facility.

NTC Vulkan has held contracts with Russian intelligence services on projects to enable cyber and IO operations, potentially in tandem with cyber operations against OT targets.

Capabilities documented in the contracted NTC Vulkan project Scan could help automate parts of the reconnaissance and preparation of operations. Scan is a framework comprising multiple components including a large-scale database, methods to gather data from various sources, and a platform to process and action such data collections.

The documentation about Scan is incredibly comprehensive, detailing data transfer between components, open-source and foreign-made software and hardware. Additionally, the capabilities described for this tool’s design take into consideration the need for coordination across groups and operators in different locations. Comprehensive capability gathering and processing data—such as the one described in Scan—could enable the operators to systematize and automate cyber operations to conduct activity across a range of domains from cyber espionage to OT targeted attacks.

Krystal-2B appears designed to support both offensive exercises against OT environments (Figure 4) and defensive exercises to examine vulnerabilities in Russian military infrastructure. The OT portion of the project is referenced in a set of testing requirements for Amesit, which describes the implementation of simulated OT test bed environments for rail and pipeline control systems. The Amesit documentation indicates these models would be supported by either graphical or physical models of these systems to visualize the effects of cyber attacks, clearly establishing these industries as Russia’s targets of interest for OT-oriented attacks.

While we have not linked this activity to existing toolsets, frameworks like INCONTROLLER are designed to support these types of parameter changes.

AlexT March 31, 2023 12:15 PM

Do you (or anyone in this forum) have a link to the actual leak ?

Because none of the articles published in the 3 newspapers on this subject, with the notable but minor exception of the Wapo (a single page without much context), have any link, extract or anything specific to the supposed leak.

We have to take the whole think 100% at face value.

Again, the Wapo, to their credit

These officials and experts could not find definitive evidence that the systems have been deployed by Russia or been used in specific cyberattacks

The documents do not, however, include verified target lists, malicious software code or evidence linking the projects to known cyberattacks.

Still, they offer insights into the aims of a Russian state that — like other major powers, including the United States — is eager to grow and systematize its ability to conduct cyberattacks with greater speed, scale and efficiency.

Now I don’t doubt Russia, as dozens of other countries, have a cyber warfare capability. I don’t doubt they use it. I don’t see anything really new or breathtaking in this “leak” (if it ever existed).

Winter March 31, 2023 12:53 PM


Do you (or anyone in this forum) have a link to the actual leak ?

There is none (yet). The leaked papers are analysed by a consortium of newspapers. Looking back to earlier such data leaks, they will clean the data and remove anything that might endanger persons.

Everybody has a right to privacy that should not be infringed upon without good reason. Not everyone mentioned in the leaks is a criminal. And criminals have rights too.

AlexT March 31, 2023 2:52 PM

There is none (yet). The leaked papers are analysed by a consortium of newspapers. Looking back to earlier such data leaks, they will clean the data and remove anything that might endanger persons.

I see. If they do such a good job as the ICIJ with the Panama papers we are in for a ride… (they where very carefully curated not to embarrass anyone in the “axis for good”

Everybody has a right to privacy that should not be infringed upon without good reason. Not everyone mentioned in the leaks is a criminal. And criminals have rights too.

So there are people mentioned & idetifiable in the leaks ? did you have access to them ?

ResearcherZero April 1, 2023 4:06 AM

“Their goal is complete control over the information in the territory they are trying to penetrate. So you go into an area, take control of communications and then use that control to spread disinformation, manipulate social media and suppress information.”

The Russian leadership and it’s secret services, want to bring the war online. They want to use digital tools to attack and systematically monitor targets abroad, and monitor their own population. Amesit can block access to unwanted data channels and, according to Vulkan files, redirect users to desired Internet resources in designated territories.

ResearcherZero April 1, 2023 4:32 AM

“The Russian services have long spent far more of their time on things like disinformation, sabotage, deception, agitation, and assassination. What we have seen from Putin over the past 20 years are these same asymmetric attacks. …he looks for weaknesses to exploit and soft targets to attack.”

What Putin and the KGB were up to in the 1980s, Belton argues, is “a blueprint for everything that was to come later.”

Nostalgia was the most palpable emotion in Yeltsin’s Russia, less for l’ancien régime than for the stability and strength of a functioning state.

Strategic deception is a secret, offensive effort to create an alternative narrative that serves Moscow’s interests.

“The country’s biggest exports, gas and oil, have lost major customers. Government finances are strained. The ruble is down over 20% since November against the dollar. The labor force has shrunk as young people are sent to the front or flee the country over fears of being drafted. Uncertainty has curbed business investment.”

“the myth of Putin’s resilient economy is nothing but a myth… My researchers and I have been tracking the slow but steady deterioration of the Russian economy over the last year, as the effects of sanctions combined with the exits of over 1,000 global multinational companies gradually eat away.”

ResearcherZero April 3, 2023 2:03 AM

“The Kremlin has assigned the agency another important function: to act as Vladimir Putin’s personal digital eye. Inside Roskomnadzor there is a whole state enterprise that employs more than 1,000 people, and every day — sometimes even on weekends and holidays — they look for published online material critical of Putin. Their reports are sent to the Presidential Administration of Russia and the security forces.”

By November 2022, 74% of the media in the Zaporizhzhia region and 63% of the media in the Kherson region were labeled as “pro-Russian” by the staff of the GRFC. All other media outlets were either already blocked or were expecting to be blocked. In addition to traditional media, Russian censors monitored messages in city-specific social network groups, and even the social networks of local residents.

Our report describes the structures of Roskomnadzor on the eve of and during the war, as it stamped hundreds of sheets to label Russians as “foreign agents”, blocked media outlets by the dozens, participated in information campaigns against people the authorities disapprove of — and for those who were favored, cleaned up unflattering publications.

After the invasion, authorities labeled almost all independent media in Russia as “foreign agents” and blocked their websites. The list of “foreign agents” is still updated weekly with new names of independent journalists, oppositionists, activists, actors, musicians and more.

Also found in the leak were official requests from the Ministry of Justice, to prepare sheets for certain people “as soon as possible,” on which the ministry itself decided to conduct an audit.

OlGreybeard April 3, 2023 5:52 PM

This news does not surprise me. I am willing to bet UK spy agencies, US spy agencies, French spy agencies, Deutsch spy agencies, Israeli spy agencies, ad astra, have hired contractors to develop code for some of their tools of the trade, or even boosted their ranks. I would be surprised if that was not standard practice around the globe.

ResearcherZero April 5, 2023 3:46 AM

Numerous Vulkan employees are graduates of Bauman University in Moscow. The university has close ties to the Russian security apparatus and carries out “special studies” for the Russian Defense Ministry and the intelligence agency FSB.

Russian cyberwarriors don’t just hunker down in their secret bunkers and hidden headquarters somewhere in Moscow. Some have obtained jobs at multinational companies, including some in Germany. DER SPIEGEL has been able to track down former Vulkan employees at SIEMENS and at a BASF service provider, in addition to Trivago and The most concerning trail, however, leads to Dublin, into one of the centers of the European tech industry.

Many of the largest companies in the world store their information, and even much of their IT needs, with AWS, including Netflix, Vodafone, NASA, the U.S. Navy and most of the companies listed on Germany’s blue-chip stock index DAX, from Allianz to Volkswagen. A huge portion of the global internet runs though AWS servers – as does Ukrainian government information.

According to the emails, the present-day Amazon employee Sergey N. was also to join the trip to present four “Amezit” sub-systems. For that purpose, it was made clear in the email traffic, the necessary equipment (“three servers, five mounts, switchboard”) was to be sent ahead to the FSB institute as quickly as possible.

Teams of developers regularly made the trip to FSB headquarters on Lubyanka Square in Moscow, just four stops away from Vulkan on the subway. The square is flanked by the gigantic, ominous building which today houses the FSB – and where Stalin’s KGB used to torture and murder those designated as enemies of communism. It is just a few hundred meters from here to the Kremlin.

It sounds like textbook FSB, which is in charge of conducting surveillance in Russia, and has always considered the free flow of information to be a direct threat to the stability of the government. Russia’s army and its secret police did not just hate each other; they viewed the world through different lenses. Putin’s era brought about new rules and a new mentality, as the Vulkan files make clear.

But Amezit was not intended for FSB use – the Rostov institute was acting as a front for the Russian military. It was the military that commissioned the development of a system to help its personnel quickly take control over sections of cyberspace. The borders between war and peace in Russia are not just blurred, they are nonexistent.

by 2030, Belarus should have a single currency and tax system with Russia, and its media space must be under Russian control. The Belarusian army must comply with Russian regulations. All key military production must be transferred from Belarus to Russia.

…the full document, which appears to have been written in 2021 by the FSB’s Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation. Its title is “Strategic objectives of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova.” The FSB document lays out long term goals including the “creation of stable pro-Russian groups of influence in the Moldovan political and economic elites” and “the formation of a negative attitude towards NATO.”

The document sets out a 10-year strategy for bringing Moldova, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, within Russia’s sphere of influence.

ResearcherZero April 6, 2023 4:05 AM

The GRU group Sandworm is identified as having authorized Vulkan to help build Skan-V.

Vulkan developer Oleg Nikitin described collecting a list of employees “to visit the territory of our functional user” to install and configure equipment for the Skan project, and upgrade and configure software and demonstrate functionality. The functional user is described as “Khimki,” a reference to the Moscow suburb where Sandworm is based.

Another Vulkan project, known as Fraction, was designed to monitor social media sites for key words to identify regime opponents, both at home and abroad.

Ukraine, every NATO and European Union member, and several other states are identified as “unfriendly countries”, including Australia, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand.

“More than 90 former staff of NTC Vulkan worked for a several other European companies.”

“But unlike during the cold war, the new generation of engineers are not blinkered specialists trained to work with outdated Soviet technologies. They are well versed in western technology (Amezit would not be possible on exclusively Russian software), well educated and globally connected.”

“For decades, Soviet engineers were schooled intensively in technical skills, but the breadth of their education was narrow. They were taught to work on projects without questioning the bigger picture. Rarely, if ever, were they exposed to the humanities. In return for their loyalty, they were treated with respect and paid relatively good salaries. That education model was never changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. New generations of engineers emerged, specialising in computer programming. Many were driven not by ideology but anger, having come to blame the west for their loss of social status.”

“Putin and his military and security services exploited this resource. When government funding was once again poured into military projects, Russian IT engineers made for enthusiastic recruits, and eventually private companies such as Vulkan were launched to fortify military and security research.”

Clive Robinson April 6, 2023 7:42 PM

@ Ross Anderson,

Re : Five-Eyes Planted Story.

Whilst I can not say if the story was “generated by the inteligence community” of the West,

Craig Murray pulls up the same paragraph from the Guardian article that gave me pause for thought,

“John Hultquist, the vice-president of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which reviewed selections of the material at the request of the consortium, said: ‘These documents suggest that Russia sees attacks on civilian critical infrastructure and social media manipulation as one and the same mission, which is essentially an attack on the enemy’s will to fight.'”

Long term readers on this blog will know that for years I’ve been extreamly doubtful about “Mandiant” and it’s analysis of APT and similar oragins.

In short I’ve regarded them as “a political mouth piece” for various US Government agencies. At one point it was so obvious others started noting Mandiant’s statments were way too inline with US Government statments that were later proved wrong. So Mandiant cleaned up their act a bit, but only in some of their statments.

So I regard anything involving Mandiant with at the very least extream caution right through to assuming it’s blatantly propaganda for certain interested parties in the USG.

In effect Mandiant can be assumed to be paying a paid part in a propaganda “merry-go-round” that in effect forms a spiral of quotes. As seen with the Yellow-Cake[1] and Iraq 45min falsehoods.

[1] The Yellow-Cake nonsense was a manufactured story by various members of the Five-Eyes nations ICs. Basically alleged intelligence got fed around and around with the likes of the Israeli IC taking a report from one IC rewording it adding uncheckable and unverifiable “chatter” to it and sending it on to other IC’s that then passed it around to other IC’s thus appearing to “confirm” the nonsense. There are various write ups at various levels the UK’s Private Eye magazine revealed some of what was going on and this got picked up and used by other news outlets like the New Statesman,

Note they got facts wrong… They said,

“of two tractor-trailer beds, discovered by America’s Kurdish allies in northern Iraq, which allegedly had been outfitted for the production of biological weapons.”

The “tractor-trailers” were not bio-weapons as the UK IC very well knew as did any reader of “Janes”. Because they were actually “hydrogen generators” for inflating “barage balloons” that the UK military had no further use for so had sold to Iraq…

ResearcherZero April 7, 2023 10:20 PM

It wouldn’t make much sense to post a list of vulnerabilities for facilities (including power stations) publicly on the web would it?

That is the point of redactions. Passing on material to a number of media outlets provides an opportunity for material to be sourced, checked and verified, and redactions to be made where needed.

German politician responds to Vulcan Files:

need for a central office where “work is gathered and coordinated”

ResearcherZero April 7, 2023 10:39 PM

On the other hand some might prefer their medical records, banking and other personal details to be publicly available. “Different strokes for different folks,” as they say. It’s a possibility, you could get lucky.

Conversely you could spend years carefully sourcing and verifying information, produce a detailed report, that cites and provides accompanying evidence. You could pop it on every desk, at it might just end up in storage without anyone ever comprehending the contents, because no one bothered to properly read it.

“Home Affairs’ cyber systems are vulnerable to hacking and frontline officers are not properly trained, according to a damning internal report that says chronic underfunding has undermined the department’s ability to keep Australia safe.”

ResearcherZero April 8, 2023 12:13 AM

Events in reality can be chaotic, even if preparations are made in advance.

“authoritarianism is even more likely to generate state weakness than democracy since without free media, an active civil society and regular elections, authoritarianism has more opportunities to make use of corruption, clientelism and predation than democracies do”

This (among other reasons) is why Putin would seek to control the flow of information resulting from his invasion of Ukraine. The Russian economy has already taken a 20% hit.

“The era of windfall profits from the oil and gas market for Russia is over.”

The government reported a budget deficit of about 1,761 billion rubles ($23.5 billion) for January. Expenditure jumped 59% year-over-year, while revenue plunged 35%.

“High prices for energy and food pose immediate threats to human security… These threats may also trigger cascading risks, which may combine with existing socio‑economic and political stresses to spark unrest and even further conflict in other parts of the world.”

While fertilizer prices dropped in recent months, they continue to be high, which could result in reduced application rates with likely adverse implications for yields.

The 2022 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2022) highlights the remarkably high severity and numbers of people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent in 53 countries/territories, driven by persistent conflict, pre-existing and COVID-19-related economic shocks, and weather extremes. The number identified in the 2022 edition is the highest in the report’s six-year existence.

Winter April 8, 2023 6:17 AM


authoritarianism is even more likely to generate state weakness than democracy since without free media, an active civil society and regular elections, authoritarianism has more opportunities to make use of corruption, clientelism and predation than democracies do

With bad information comes bad decisions, hence, censorship leads to bad choices. Which is what authoritarians want. You should not choose what is good for you, but what is good for your superior.

You do not have to look far to see that authoritarian governments are bad. Republican lead counties in the USA have lower life expectancies than Democrat lead counties.[1] And the difference is growing. Also, the poorest counties are Republican. [2]

Correlation is not causation, but income growth is consistently lower under Republican rule [3].

Authoritarians are simply very bad rulers.

Russia, China, and India are current examples of this principle. Without information, people make bad decisions.

[1] ‘

[2] ‘

[3] ‘

ResearcherZero April 8, 2023 6:29 AM


The first chapter of The Gulag Archipelago – 1. Arrest, is the best description of arrest, arrest theory, and the many ways one can be arrested.

The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 ~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Our Law is powerful, slippery, and unlike anything else on earth known as “the law.”

The foolish Romans invented the idea that “the law has no retroactive force.” But in our country it does! A reactionary old proverb murmurs that “the law cannot be written ex post facto.” But in our country it can!

…our Law completely fails to remember the sin of Bearing False Witness. It generally does not even consider it a crime! Legion are the false witnesses who flourish among us, advancing toward a respectable old age, and basking in the golden sunset of their days. Our country is the only one in all history and in the whole world that pampers perjurers!

And if tomorrow orders are given once more to send millions to prison for their way of thinking, to exile whole peoples (the same ones as before or others) or rebellious city populations, and once more to hang four‐digit prison numbers on people—the powerful hull will scarcely tremble, nor will the prow waver.

In 1986, near the end of the Soviet Union, a Russian satirical novelist tried to imagine the future of his homeland. He envisioned a head of state who had risen through the ranks of the KGB, used a war to cement his power, elevated his former security colleagues into positions of influence, claimed to derive authority from the Russian Orthodox Church and ruled Russia for decades.

“The Soviet Union was a giant mental hospital but it was organized. Now, the inmates have been told that they can do whatever they want. So Russia is funnier than ever.” ~ Vladimir Voinovich

Kartsev’s ticket was more expensive than an ordinary flight from Germany to the Soviet Union because it involved traveling 60 years into the future as well as the miles from Munich to Moscow.

Once in the future, Kartsev finds himself welcomed as a hero. A society in which state, party and church have merged regards him as a cultural witness and validation of itself.

But–alas!–the copies of Kartsev’s works that he has brought with him are seized and suppressed. The only work for which he is known is one he has not yet written, and the state demands that Kartsev make some changes in it. Just a few little changes. But they must be made to assure the political correctness of the book.

Winter April 8, 2023 7:17 AM

Re: Russia

The Czar owned Russia and the Russians and their church. After the revolution, Stalin owned Russia and the Russians. Now Putin owns Russia and the Russians and their church.

Russia is not a state, it is, and always has been, an estate populated by serfs.

There is no law and there is no justice in Russia, there is only the will of the owner.


Russian politics has been characterised by increasing cultural and political conservatism since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. This article argues that Putin’s turn to cultural conservatism is a reaction to a crisis in Russia’s neo-patrimonial system. The article presents a model of neo-patrimonialism and argues that the turn to cultural conservatism under Putin is only a partial solution to the problems of neo-patrimonialism in Russia. This is because the turn towards cultural conservatism does not define any internal transformational tasks for Putin to fulfil.

MarkH April 8, 2023 5:30 PM

After the first Russian revolution, Pyotr Stolypin served as Prime Minister. In paraphrase, he observed that for Russia, in one year everything changes; in 100 years, nothing changes.

Clive Robinson April 8, 2023 7:33 PM

@ MarkH, Winter, ALL,

Re : Stolypin the optomist.


blockquote>“… in one year everything changes; in 100 years, nothing changes.”

As @Winter observed Russia is not a nation with citizens, they’ve been serfs tied to the land lord and master who owns them body and soul for more time than has been documented.

And it’s not a meer 100years over which nothing has changed, but appart from the turn up of some rather unpleasent misogynistic priests to make things worse, nothing much has changed socially in over a thousand or two years.

JonKnowsNothing April 9, 2023 12:26 AM

@Winter, All

re: The Czar owned Russia

China owned Russia before the Tzars.

For those of us from Protestant countries, we often forget that there is something other than Protestant and Catholic. There are many varieties of Orthodox Christianity, and there are as many versions of it as there are of Protestant Groups.

George Carlin had a wonderful routine about Hats On and Hats Off.

Another variant is the Loop (Stand Up Sit Down Stand Up Kneel Stand Up Sit Down Kneel).

Clive Robinson April 9, 2023 4:02 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, name.withheld…, Winter, ALL,

Re : Religion is not a free lunch, but you are…

“There are many varieties of Orthodox Christianity, and there are as many versions of it as there are of Protestant Groups.”

The “visable” difference to note between “Orthodox” and “Protestant” is that the former is still based on two fundementals,

1, Blood sacrifice.
2, No privacy to authority.

Both are “totally abusive” processes.

Combined they give a wood pile that hides some very nasty criters.

I won’t go into details because it would be moderated. But they are not difficult to find if you look with open eyes.

What I will say though is as organisations,

1, They are hierarchical with the attendant problems that creates.
2. They have no independent human oversight and we know what issues arise from that.
3, They all have at their basis a “long con” in that you have to spend a liftime in servitude and total obediance to the organisation for a ficticious reward that is supposadly delivered after you are dead.

As a result the “orthodox religions” –which encompass more than christianity– collectively hold more wealth than any other organisation/industry on Earth, likewise they have more political control than any national government.

Oh and they embody all of the traits of the dark tetrad especially that of Machiavellism. As I note from time to time “Beware the humble helper” because they are where true evil realy does hide.

As for those who broke away from the Orthodox they may appear to no longer have the visable “blood sacrifice” and “loss of privacy to authority” but they are still built in as foundation stones, as they are in all exploitative cults and similar organisations.

Why normal humans are so susceptible to this method of control is theoretically a philisophical question but practically a psychological one. But importantly a question that many with status, wealth, power and control do not want asked let alone answered.

JonKnowsNothing April 9, 2023 9:07 AM

@Clive, Winter, ALL

re: “Orthodox” Christianity

I recently became aware of 2 different uses of this term.

a) Meaning a strict interpretation of Western Protestant American English Translations of previously published works under “the King James version”. These American English translations fuel the USA Christian and Evangelical movements. All of these are offshoots of older denominations but the interpretation is strictly American Hierarchical Patriarchal in organization with highly defined Roles within the religious and secular followers. This isn’t particularly new, but the use of the term to apply to this group was new to me.

b) The term as applies to a group of “Eastern Orthodox” type churches and followers. Groups like Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, and many offshoots of this branch Christianity. Defined within the context of Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, denominations; where Orthodox is the oldest lineage, Catholic the second and Protestant the newest iteration.

I believe Winter’s comment was in reference to Term B, as was my response.

One interesting aspect is that within groups where Term B is common, they do not use the New Gregorian Dates of which I am most familiar.

  • Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) came from the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar as enacted in various European countries between 1582 and 1923. By the 20th century, the date on the Julian calendar was 13 days behind that on the Gregorian calendar.

Along with time, dates are variable. Something I doubt gets much attention within our auditing systems. Like Y2K, dates are not all that they seem and not as they appear and not where they originated from.

There are of course, many calendars and many time systems, some archaic, some ecclesiastical and some practical. There are personal calendars and times systems too.

I have to remember that not everyone’s Christmas Day is Dec 25th.


htt ps://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates

htt ps://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/Adoption_of_the_Gregorian_calendar

(url fractured)

Winter April 9, 2023 11:35 AM


the King James version

I understood that King James instructed the translaters to let the translation fit the English church’s theology. That is, the original text should not get in the way of the church of England’s interests.

I mistrust anyone who bases his opinions on a translated text.

MarkH April 9, 2023 1:23 PM

“I mistrust anyone who bases his opinions on a translated text.”

How many people have thorough reading knowledge of Classical Hebrew, Middle Aramaic, and Koine Greek? Not just one of these, but all three?

To read Mahabharata or Upanishads requires Vedic Sanskrit — no form of Sanskrit is a native language in the modern world.

Knowing modern English enables guessing scattered words of Beowulf, though the meaning of the text remains opaque. (Winter would do rather better, because Old English is more closely related to languages in his country.)

How many people do you know who learned Russian in order to read The Brothers Karamazov? Even some native speakers find Dostoevsky’s language dense and difficult.

Winter April 9, 2023 2:24 PM


How many people have thorough reading knowledge of Classical Hebrew, Middle Aramaic, and Koine Greek? Not just one of these, but all three?

It is interesting and fun to learn about a text through a translation. But a translation is second hand knowledge, hearsay in legal terms.

If you want to know about US, or UK, affairs, you must read the English originals, not the Russian or Chinese translations. The same holds vice versa.[1]

If you claim to follow gods word, you should read the original. It should be clear why “they” claim the writers of the King James Bible were inspired by God and not King James’ advisors.

[1] Only American agencies base foreign policy on “experts” who cannot read the language of the people they are “expert” on.

JonKnowsNothing April 9, 2023 2:59 PM

@Winter, MarkH, All

re: I mistrust anyone who bases his opinions on a translated text

fwiw In the case of biblical documents of all sorts, folks that are interested in them and their various versions and editions, use a cross reference called a CONCORDANCE or BIBLE CONCORDANCE.

These are detailed cross-reference of every sentence and every word and the derivatives along with cross links to similar uses. Some of them can trace the definition changes from Aramaic to Greek and on wards.

Some of the interesting things when you follow the path is that many words have changed meaning over the centuries on top of the malleability of English as it moved through Old, Middle, Elizabethan and forward though 18th and 19th century English.

  • 1) Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne
  • 2) Has in the Ram his half-course run
  • 3) His half course in the sign of the Ram has run


ht tps://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/Bible_concordance

ht tps://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/Strong%27s_Concordance

ht tps://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/General_Prologue#Translation

(url fractured)

Winter April 9, 2023 3:34 PM


fwiw In the case of biblical documents of all sorts, folks that are interested in them and their various versions and editions, use a cross reference called a CONCORDANCE or BIBLE CONCORDANCE.

One source of Humanism was the realization that you could not understand the old texts, be it Homerus or the Bible, if you did not understand the language of the time.

Hence the extensive study of philology. This consideration is nowadays generally lost on the English speaking world it seems.

lurker April 9, 2023 4:34 PM

Lost in Translation

If a working knowledge of Classical Hebrew, Middle Aramaic, and Koine Greek is essential to understand the Book on which the Christian faith is based, then why are those languages not taught in the schools in those nations that proclaim on their money “In God We Trust” or “King Charles III, Defender of the Faith”?

Of course King James wanted a translation to fit his needs. The existing Latin version fitted the needs of a Mediterranean empire a thousand years previous.

Sidebar: the Foreign Languages Publishing House publishes translations of the Chinese Classics, English on one page, the Chinese ‘original’ on the facing page. Handy for students, except that the ‘original’ has already been translated from ancient to modern Chinese, orthography and definitions changed.

MarkH April 9, 2023 5:27 PM

Only American agencies base foreign policy on “experts” who cannot read the language of the people they are “expert” on.

Got a reference on that? The U.S. Department of State had (before its recent gutting by a barbarian) quite a lot of regional expertise.

Did Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot know Arabic? I’ve found no evidence to that effect. Sykes became a “near east expert” on the strength of his passion for traveling the Ottoman Empire as a tourist.

When the Netherlands East Indies was fighting for colonial independence, how widespread was fluency in Indonesian language — let alone the hundreds of other languages of the region — in the Netherlands Foreign Ministry?

MarkH April 9, 2023 5:36 PM


You might find amusing, the incredulity of my friends with Russian as their first language, when I’ve explained to them that their copies of the novel “Lolita” were translations and not the original.

Nabokov — living by that time in the U.S. — wrote Lolita in American English, and then made his own translation into Russian.

MarkH April 9, 2023 6:00 PM

In a serious vein, to learn an acquired language well enough to truly comprehend deep texts requires years of concentrated effort. Those with an ordinary language student’s knowledge will miss a great part of what they’re trying to read.

Stephen Leacock noted the folly of university students struggling to obtain skin-deep knowledge of ancient Greek, conjuring his own example of student translation with imbedded alternate readings:

“Thus Ajax leapt (or, better, was propelled from behind), into the fight.” Now that’s grand stuff. … But the modern reader can’t get it. It won’t mean to him what it meant to the early Greek.

MarkH April 9, 2023 6:18 PM


To read with deep comprehension the world’s 7 or so most important religious texts in original tongues needs mastery of at least six little-used languages.

Mastery isn’t just knowing the tenses and how to conjugate some verbs; it’s encyclopedic familiarity with the subtleties and ambiguities of poetic word usage, which entails immersion in the history, culture, and extant literature of the place and time in which the words were written. It means knowing the proverbs, songs or poems, and traditional mythos which contextualize the meaning of language.

How many out of a million could do this?

lurker April 9, 2023 11:36 PM

How many out of a million could do this?

How many out of a million could be taught to do it? How many teachers would we need, and how were they taught?

Those who ignore history can’t be condemned to repeat it. We can’t repeat what the Accadians did, we’ve moved on from there, yet we have to understand to some degree what they did so we can understand how we got here.

Winter April 10, 2023 4:33 AM


Got a reference on that?

It was in a documentary some time after 9/11 where an Israeli military security expert told he had given a talk for an American agency (IIRC, the CIA) and there met their expert for the Egyptian Military. The man could not read Arabic. The Israeli was baffled.

But it has been a running gag that after 9/11 the CIA, nor any other US TLA had anyone who could speak the languages of Afghanistan.

Also, see:
CIA Seeks Anyone, Anyone Who Can Speak 2 Languages

When the Netherlands East Indies was fighting for colonial independence, how widespread was fluency in Indonesian language

I know for a fact that soldiers, even conscripts, who were send to Indonesia had to learn some Malayan. And the Netherlands had the world’s foremost academic center on Indonesia and Islam before it was gutted in an idiotic attempt to cut spending. Even now, I can easily order food in Indonesia as I know most of the food items in the menu [1].

[1] I actually did that when I was in Indonesia, and I can cook some of them too. I found out to my surprise that my home made Soto Ayam (Javanese chicken soup) was actually passable.

Winter April 10, 2023 4:35 AM


Nabokov — living by that time in the U.S. — wrote Lolita in American English, and then made his own translation into Russian.

But then, that is not actually a translation. If an author writes the same book in two different languages, both are authoritative texts.

Winter April 10, 2023 5:37 AM


To read with deep comprehension the world’s 7 or so most important religious texts in original tongues needs mastery of at least six little-used languages.

This is not my point. My point is that many claim to follow the word of God to the letter. But then do so using a politically manipulated translation.

All but a few people have to rely on translations and interpretations of some kind to consume and understand texts. But if you want to make absolute claims based on such translations and interpretations, without making reservations for the fact that you rely on the authors of these translations and interpretations, you are a fool or a charlatan.

This is not just language. conspiracy theories are almost always based on people doing “research” in Google. They then always use secondary or tertiary, or even newspaper, sources. In science and research the rule is you read and use the original publications if you want to comment findings or use them. That is the same error as using a translation instead of the original.

That most people cannot understand the primary literature is unfortunate, but using the primary literature is indispensable for drawing the correct conclusions. Which is amply shown by the disinformation floating around about almost anything science.

MarkH April 10, 2023 4:50 PM

“Translation” and “authoritative” are not mutually exclusive. Nabokov certainly prepared the Russian language version by reading and translating his original text.

It’s an authoritative translation.

Winter April 11, 2023 1:05 AM


It’s an authoritative translation.

Indeed. But I do not see the difference.

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