пятница, 28 ноября 2008 г.

Mumbai terrorists used Chechen tactics

Budennovsk, 1995, hospital on fire after terrorist attack, (AFP Photo / Sergey Kuznyetsov)

The terrorists in the Indian city of Mumbai, who killed more than 150 people and injured over 300, used the same tactics that Chechen field militants employed in the Northern Caucasus, says Russian counter terrorism presidential envoy Anatoly Safonov.

In towns of the Northern Cauasus in 1990s, terrorists seized homes and hospitals and took numerous hostages.

"These tactics were used during raids by militant Chechen field commanders Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev against the towns of Buddyonnovsk and Pervomaiskoye. For the first time in history the entire towns were terrorized, with homes and hospitals seized. The Mumbai terrorists have learned these tactics well," Safonov told Russian news agency Interfax on Thursday.

Safonov says that the terror in Mumbai is proof that the anti-terror measures on a regional level are insufficient.

“The world is spending enormous resources to fight nonexistent threats and to support the military adventures of the leaders of certain countries. And it turns out that a big city may be unprotected against the raid of a handful of terrorists. This is another warning that in the global world terrorism truly remains the greatest challenge," Safonov said to Interfax.

He also pointed out that now it’s the task of Indian special services to track down the terrorist group behind the attack on Mumbai. Safonov said they would need to determine whether it was “a subsidiary of some prominent terrorist organization”.

The presidential aide expressed hope that the Russian-Indian working group for combating terrorism will meet in the near future.

"We express our support and condolences to the people of India and sympathize with the families that lost relatives and dear ones in the terrorist attack in Mumbai," Safonov said.

On Thursday terrorists attacked 10 targets in Mumbai, including several five star hotels, a cafe and a railway station.

Police say they have regained full control over the city.


Russia returns to Latin America

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - "Russia has returned to Latin America, including Cuba," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in Havana about the results of his five-day tour of the southern continent.

On November 24-28, he has been to Peru, Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba, visiting more countries in South America than any other Russian leader has been to in one go. In fact, no other top Russian leader has visited Venezuela before.

This spurred the optimism of Russia's experts on Latin America and everyone connected with it in the past decades. They did not expect any Russian leader to say what Medvedev has said in Cuba, although they had spent years reminding the Kremlin about the "Latin American comrades."

The Russian delegation has signed the largest number of agreements and memorandums ever, from traditional military and cultural contracts to multilevel agreements on nuclear power generation, joint oil and gas production, construction of tankers, use of high technologies, and establishment of banks.

Although very important, they are only part of the evolving picture. Making the effort to reclaim Russia's position in Latin America is a good start, but the Kremlin will have to work hard to keep it. It is not enough to send Tu-160 strategic bombers, the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser or the Admiral Chabanenko destroyer there, even though their joint fire power exceeds that of all South American countries taken together.

"A few Russian ships are not going to change the balance of power," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said when asked about Russian warships off Venezuela during Medvedev's visit. And she is right, although a demonstration of the Russian naval flag was a good thing.

An analysis of America's attitude to Russia's reviving relations with South America makes an interesting study. For the past two decades, the Americans pretended not to be concerned about Russia's attention to the continent, and in particular its close friendship with Venezuela. They could be irritated by it, but they were definitely unconcerned.

But when Medvedev's trip to Latin America was announced, the U.S. media published articles titled "Russia poses challenge to Obama" and "Russia's new presence in Latin America."

According to them, Barack Obama is trying to find a way out of the economic crisis and ensure a smooth transition of power in the White House. In principle, he likes Moscow, they wrote, but is too busy now to give a proper response to the Russians, who took advantage of the situation to stage a provocation in the U.S. backyard.

But Medvedev's tour was planned long before the November 4 presidential elections in the United States, when nobody could say definitely who would win, McCain or Obama. And I don't see any logic in the media's hint that Moscow should have waited until Obama assumed office and determined his Latin American policy.

The overall U.S. sentiment is that "Russians have nothing to do in Latin America." When all newspapers write the same, it usually means that they had been leaked information from the State Department or the White House. This shows that the White House is seriously worried by Russia's return to Latin America.

Besides, diplomats like to present their rivals' smart moves only as minor achievements, especially when they themselves have missed the chance.

The United States will never fully abandon its backyard, because former paratroopers (Venezuela), Native Americans (Bolivia), bishops (Paraguay), the extreme left or moderately left politicians will not remain in power forever there.

When Washington comes to from the shocks of the elections, the financial crisis and the nearly total neglect of Latin America under the Bush administration, it will make a U-turn and head back to its southern neighbors. And we will find it very hard to withstand its economic and political offensive.

Latin Americans know that life without close ties with the United States will be very difficult despite Russia's rekindled love. The Kremlin should remember this and plan its strategy in Latin America so as to prevent a repetition of past mistakes, when it jettisoned some friends there, for example Cuba.

Immediately after winning the elections, Obama started rethinking the U.S. policy regarding Cuba. The latest issue of The Nation carried Sean Penn's "Conversations with Raul Castro about Obama, Guantanamo and the Pentagon."

Castro granted the interview to Penn, an old-time Democratic supporter and a personal friend of Obama, long before the November elections. The Cuban leader told him that he would meet with Obama.

"We should meet in a neutral place," he said. "You asked if I would accept to meet with [Obama] in Washington. I would have to think about it."

So, Obama will most likely re-discover Cuba, because that's what most Americans, including the Miami Cubans, want.

Russia will also have to compete for Cuba's attention with China, France, Canada and Spain.

During his Latin American tour, Medvedev spoke about such exotic things as the use of national currencies in Russian-Venezuelan settlements, visa-free travel to Brazil and Venezuela, and Brazilian football schools in Russia. The president was also awarded the two countries' highest orders.

However, his agenda also included much more important issues - and much more serious than sending Russian warships to the continent. Some of them are still on paper, but if they are implemented, Moscow will surge to the forefront of the global financial scene.

The main event happened after Medvedev had arrived in Brazil from Peru, where he announced a decision that can change the BRIC group of Brazil, Russia, India and China from a banking term into an international organization, or at the very least a consultative forum.

The Russian president said after his meeting with his Brazilian counterpart that Russia would host a BRIC summit in 2009. The BRIC countries are comparable to the European Union economically and financially, and by far surpass them in terms of energy resources. So, the world should respect their opinions.

The most important part of Medvedev's visit to Latin America is that he has made it. Since the beginning of Gorbachev's perestroika, Russia has been trying to forget about Latin America, for some obscure reason, and by doing so destroyed many achievements scored there by the Soviet Union.

Nobody knows how long this unfortunate situation would have lasted if not for George W. Bush, who placed the southern neighbors on ice.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

четверг, 27 ноября 2008 г.

Colossal Financial Collapse: The Truth behind the Citigroup Bank "Nationalization"

On Friday November 21, the world came within a hair’s breadth of the most colossal financial collapse in history according to bankers on the inside of events with whom we have contact. The trigger was the bank which only two years ago was America’s largest, Citigroup. The size of the US Government de facto nationalization of the $2 trillion banking institution is an indication of shocks yet to come in other major US and perhaps European banks thought to be ‘too big to fail.’

The clumsy way in which US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, himself not a banker but a Wall Street ‘investment banker’, whose experience has been in the quite different world of buying and selling stocks or bonds or underwriting and selling same, has handled the unfolding crisis has been worse than incompetent. It has made a grave situation into a globally alarming one.

‘Spitting into the wind’

A case in point is the secretive manner in which Paulson has used the $700 billion in taxpayer funds voted him by a labile Congress in September. Early on, Paulson put $125 billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for his old firm, Goldman Sachs. However, if we compare the value of the equity share that $125 billion bought with the market price of those banks’ stock, US taxpayers have paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could have bought for $62.5 billion, according to a detailed analysis from Ron W. Bloom, economist with the US United Steelworkers union, whose members as well as pension fund face devastating losses were GM to fail.

That means half of the public's money was a gift to Paulson’s Wall Street cronies. Now, only weeks later, the Treasury is forced to intervene to de facto nationalize Citigroup. It won’t be the last.

Paulson demanded, and got from a labile US Congress, Democrat as well as Republican, sole discretion over how and where he can invest the $700 billion, to date with no effective oversight. It amounts to the Treasury Secretary in effect ‘spitting into the wind’ in terms of resolving the fundamental crisis.

It should be clear to any serious analyst by now that the September decision by Paulson to defer to rigid financial ideology and let the fourth largest US investment bank, Lehman Brothers fail, was the proximate trigger for the present global crisis. Lehman Bros.’ surprise collapse triggered the current global crisis of confidence. It was simply not clear to the rest of the banking world which US financial institution bank might be saved and which not, after the Government had earlier saved the far smaller Bear Stearns, while letting the larger, far more strategic Lehman Bros. fail.

Some Citigroup details

The most alarming aspect of the crisis is the fact that we are in an inter-regnum period when the next President has been elected but cannot act on the situation until after January 20, 2009 when he is sworn in.

Consider the details of the latest Citigroup government de facto nationalization (for ideological reasons Paulson and the Bush Administration hysterically avoid admitting they are in the process of nationalizing key banks). Citigroup has more than $2 trillion of assets, dwarfing companies such as American International Group Inc. that got some $150 billion in US taxpayer funds in the past two months. Ironically, only eight weeks before, the Government had designated Citigroup to take over the failing Wachovia Bank. Normally authorities have an ailing bank absorbed by a stronger one. In this instance the opposite seems to have been the case. Now it is clear that the Citigroup was in deeper trouble than Wachovia. In a matter of hours in the week before the US Government nationalization was announced, the stock value of Citibank plunged to $3.77 in New York, giving the company a market value of about $21 billion. The market value of Citigroup stock in December 2006 had been $247 billion. Two days before the bank nationalization the CEO, Vikram Pandit had announced a huge 52,000 job slashing plan. It did nothing to stop the slide.

The scale of the hidden losses of perhaps the twenty largest US banks is so enormous that if not before, the first Presidential decree of President Barack Obama will likely have to be declaration of a US ‘Bank Holiday’ and the full nationalization of the major banks, taking on the toxic assets and losses until the economy can again function with credit flowing to industry once more.

Citigroup and the government have identified a pool of about $306 billion in troubled assets. Citigroup will absorb the first $29 billion in losses. After that, remaining losses will be split between Citigroup and the government, with the bank absorbing 10% and the government absorbing 90%. The US Treasury Department will use its $700 billion TARP or Troubled Asset Recovery Program bailout fund, to assume up to $5 billion of losses. If necessary, the Government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will bear the next $10 billion of losses. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve will guarantee any additional losses. The measures are without precedent in US financial history. It’s by no means certain they will salvage the dollar system.

The situation is so intertwined, with six US major banks holding the vast bulk of worldwide financial derivatives exposure, that the failure of a single major US financial institution could result in losses to the OTC derivatives market of $300-$400 billion, a new IMF working paper finds. What’s more, since such a failure would likely cause cascading failures of other institutions. Total global financial system losses could exceed another $1,500 billion according to an IMF study by Singh and Segoviano.

The madness over a Detroit GM rescue deal

The health of Citigroup is not the only gripping crisis that must be dealt with. At this point, political and ideological bickering in the US Congress has so far prevented a simple emergency $25 billion loan extension to General Motors and other of the US Big Three automakers—Ford and Chrysler. The absurd spectacle of US Congressmen attacking the chairmen of the Big Three for flying to the emergency Congressional hearings on a rescue loan in their private company jets while largely ignoring the issue of consequences to the economy of a GM failure underscores the utter lack of touch with reality that has overwhelmed Washington in recent years.

For GM to go into bankruptcy risks a disaster of colossal proportions. Although Lehman Bros., the biggest bankruptcy in US history, appears to have had an orderly settlement of its credit defaults swaps, the disruption occurred before-hand, as protection writers had to post additional collateral prior to settlement. That was a major factor in the dramatic global market selloff in October. GM is bigger by far, meaning bigger collateral damage, and this would take place when the financial system is even weaker than when Lehman failed.

In addition, a second, and potentially far more damaging issue, has been largely ignored. The advocates of letting GM go bankrupt argue that it can go into Chapter 11 just like other big companies that get themselves in trouble. That may not happen however, and a Chapter 7 or liquidation of GM that would then result would be a tectonic event.

The problem is that under Chapter 11 US law, it takes time for the company to get the protection of a bankruptcy court. Until that time, which may be weeks or months, the company would need urgently ‘bridge financing’ to continue operating. This is known as ‘Debtor-in-Possession or DIP financing. DIP is essential for most Chapter 11 bankruptcies, as it takes time to get the plan of reorganization approved by creditors and the courts. Most companies, like GM today, go to bankruptcy court when they are at the end of their liquidity.

DIP is specifically for companies in, or on the verge of bankruptcy, and the debt is generally senior to other outstanding creditor claims. So it is actually very low risk, as the amount spent is usually not large, relatively speaking. But DIP lending is being severely curtailed right now, just when it is most needed, as healthier banks drastically cut loans in the severe credit crunch situation.

Without access to DIP bridge financing, GM would be forced into a partial, or even a full liquidation. The ramifications are horrendous. Aside from loss of 100,000 jobs at GM itself, GM is critical to keep many US auto suppliers in business. If GM failed soon most, possibly even all of the US and even foreign auto suppliers will go under. Those parts suppliers are important to other auto makers. Many foreign car factories would be forced to close due to loss of suppliers. Some analysts put 2009 job losses from a GM failure as high as 2.5 million jobs due to the follow-on effects. If the impact of that 2.5 million job loss is seen in terms of the overall losses to the economy of non-auto jobs such as services, home foreclosures caused and such, some estimate total impact would be more than 15 million jobs.

So far in the face of this staggering prospect, the members of the US Congress have chosen to focus on the fact the GM chief, Rick Wagoner, flew in his private company jet to Washington. The Congressional charade conjures up the image of Nero playing his fiddle as Rome goes up in flames. It should not be surprising that at the recent EU-Asian Summit in Beijing, Chinese officials mooted the idea of trading between the EU and Asian nations such as China in Euro, Renminbi, Yen or other national currencies other than the dollar. The Citigroup bailout and GM debacle has confirmed the death of the post-1944 Bretton Woods Dollar System.

The real truth behind Citigroup bailout

What neither Paulson nor anyone in Washington is willing to reveal is the real truth behind the Citigroup bailout. By his and the Republican Bush Administration’s adamant earlier refusal to take an initial resolute action to immediately nationalize the nine or so largest troubled banks, he has created the present debacle. By refusing on ideological grounds to instead reorganize the banks’ assets into some form of ‘good bank’ and ‘bad bank,’ similar to what the Government of Sweden did with what it called Securum, during its banking crisis in the early 1990’s, Paulson and company have created a global financial structure on the brink.

A Securum or similar temporary nationalization would have allowed the healthy banks to continue lending to the real economy so the economy could continue operating, while the State merely sat on the undervalued real estate assets of the Swedish banks for some months until the recovering economy made the assets again marketable to the private sector. Instead, Paulson and his ‘crony capitalists’ in Washington have turned a bad situation into a globally catastrophic one.

His apparent realization of the error of his initial refusal to nationalize came too late. When Paulson reversed policy on September 19 and presented the nine largest banks with an ultimatum to accept partial Government equity ownership, abandoning his original bizarre plan to merely buy up the toxic waste asset-backed securities of the banks with his $700 billion TARP taxpayer money, he never revealed why.

Under the original Paulson Plan, as Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and L. Randall Wray of the Jerome Levy Institute at Bard College in New York point out, Paulson sought to create a situation in which the US ‘Treasury would become an owner of troubled financial institutions in exchange for a capital injection—but without exercising any ownership rights, such as replacing the management that created the mess. The bailout would be used as an opportunity to consolidate control of the nation’s financial system in the hands of a few large (Wall Street) banks, with government funds subsidizing purchases of troubled banks by "healthy" ones.’

Paulson soon realized the scale of crisis, largely triggered by his inept handling of the Lehman Brothers case, had created an impossible situation. Were Paulson to use the $700 billion to buy up toxic waste ABS assets from the select banks at today’s market price, the $700 billion would be far too little to take an estimated $2 trillion ($2,000 billion) in Asset Backed Securities off the books of the banks.

The Levy Economics Institute economists state, ‘It is probable that many and perhaps most financial institutions are insolvent today -- with a black hole of negative net worth that would swallow Paulson's entire $700 billion in one gulp.’

That reality is the real reason Paulson was forced to abandon his original ‘crony bailout’ TARP plan and opt to use some of his money to buy equity shares in the nine largest banks.

That scheme as well is ‘dead on arrival’ as the latest Citigroup nationalization scheme underscores. The dilemma Paulson has created with his inept handling of the crisis is simple: If the US Government paid the true value for these nearly worthless assets, the banks would have to write down huge losses, and, as Levy economists put it, ‘announce to the world that they are insolvent.’ On the other hand, if Paulson raised the toxic waste purchase price high enough to protect the banks from losses, $700 billion ‘will buy only a tiny fraction of the 'troubled' assets.’ That is what the latest nationalization of Citigroup is about.

It is only the beginning. The 2009 year will be one of titanic shocks and changes to the global order of a scale perhaps not experienced in the past five centuries. This is why we should speak of the end of the American Century and its Dollar System.

How destructive that process will be to the citizens of the United States who are the prime victims of Paulson’s crony capitalists, as well as to the rest of the world depends now on the urgency and resoluteness with which heads of national Governments in Germany, the EU, China, Russia and the rest of the non-US world react. It is no time for ideological sentimentality and nostalgia of the postwar old order. That collapsed this past September along with Lehman Brothers and the Republican Presidency. Waiting for a ‘miracle’ from an Obama Presidency is no longer an option for the rest of the world.

F. William Engdahl is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by F. William Engdahl


Motorcade shooting was a Georgian stunt - Poland

Georgian security officers protect Poland's President Lech Kaczyinski after shooting at the checkpoint near South Ossetia`s border (AFP Photo / Irakli Gedenidze)

Poland has dismissed last week’s shooting incident involving the motorcade of the Georgian and Polish presidents as a stunt. Special services in Warsaw say the alleged attack near the South Ossetian border was a provocation staged by Georgians.

A report by Poland’s Internal Security Agency (Agencja Bezpieczenstwa Wewnetrznego – ABW), published by the Dziennik newspaper, claims Georgia staged the incident for propaganda purposes.

The incident took place on Sunday evening when Georgian President Mikhail Saakasvili was showing his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski the area near the border with South Ossetia. After the convoy stopped at a checkpoint, there was gunfire, which the Georgians claimed was an attack by Russian troops.

Russia strongly denied the allegations, saying Tbilisi was behind it. President Kaczynski confirmed that shooting had taken place but stopped short of blaming anyone.

Vladimir Kremlev for RT Click to enlarge

Russia’s position has now been supported by Poland’s ABW, who said “the shots fired near the cars of Georgian and Polish president were a Georgian provocation”.

The document points out that Mikhail Saakashvili kept on smiling after the first shots and his bodyguards didn’t react.

The report also highlights another suspicious fact, namely, that the bus carrying journalists was instructed to travel in front of the motorcade, while the car with Kaczynski’s own bodyguards was pushed back by Georgian soldiers. The result was that they were not in a position to witness the alleged shooting.

The official report was sent to leading national politicians.

Meanwhile ABW is considering a legal action against Dziennik. They said the documents that the newspaper revealed were classified, making publication of them a crime.


Botched Ukrainian exhumation was illegal

Image from zik.com.ua
The mishandled exhumation of soldiers buried beneath a WW2 Soviet memorial in the town of Komarno in Ukraine’s Lvov region has caused outrage in Russia. Once exhumed, the soldiers' remains were left lying around a park near the memorial, allowing local youths to take photos of them with their mobile phones. The area was not even properly fenced-off or guarded.

This apparent lack of respect was not shown during the much-disputed removal of the Bronze Soldier and reburying of the remains in Tallinn last year.

The decision to rebury the soldiers was taken by the local administration in Lvov, which believed the remains would be better taken care of at a local cemetery. But they remain just lying around in the central park.

Ukraine’s law prohibits reburial without the consent of relatives. The number of those buried in the town’s central park is unknown, but Komarno authorities managed to contact only one relative, who had no choice but to give his consent, as the remains had already been dug out.
Image from zik.com.ua

And according to Evgeny Guzeev – Russia’s Consul General in Lvov, – the exhumation contradicts another Ukrainian law: on preserving the memory of WW2.

However, Russia is unlikely to take any action

“We can only express our regrets on the matter as the memorial belongs to Ukraine and stands on its territory,” Guzeev said in an interview with Russian daily MK.

He continued that the “most horrible thing about this is that the people buried there were mostly Ukrainians,” he said.


US convoy rams Russian diplomats off road in Baghdad

A row is brewing between Moscow and Washington after a US military vehicle almost ran a Russian diplomatic car off the road in Baghdad. Russia has accused the American soldiers of deliberately swerving into the car as it headed towards the airport.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said three diplomats and some of their guards suffered bruises.

The incident happened when a group of US armoured personnel carriers overtook a three-strong convoy of Russian diplomatic vehicles on the main highway from Baghdad to the airport.

A spokesman for US forces in Baghdad said they were looking into the incident.

The American vehicles were reported to be driving at more than 100kmh when they overtook the Russian convoy.

Russian news agency Itar-Tass reports that three bullet-proof vehicles from the Russian embassy with three Russian diplomats and their seven bodyguards were making their way along a highway from the so-called "green zone" to the international airport of Baghdad when the incident happened.

The Russian column was advancing at a speed of 80-90kmh in the middle of the highway, leaving the left-hand lane free for passing vehicles.

It’s reported that the American military motorcade advanced from behind without any warning signals. Moscow says the Russian vehicles bore even more to the right to let the military vehicles pass.

According to Russian accounts, the lead US APC swerved sharply, making contact with the first Russian car, forcing it off the road.

The Russian car was forced to stop on the hard shoulder. Those inside suffered bruises and other minor injuries.

Then the US army column went on without stopping.

Moscow has already condemned the actions as aggressive and unacceptable.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad agree that the American servicemen’s behaviour was intolerable.

The Foreign Ministry has already demanded that the US conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and punish any transgressors.

A spokesman in Moscow said: "Russia reserves the right to claim material and moral damage from the American troops, including possible health claims from injured Russian officials".


среда, 26 ноября 2008 г.

Point of view: Holodomor – an unrecognized stratocide*

The millions of victims of the 1930s' 'Holodomor' famine, potentially due to the disastrous soviet collectivization policy, in Ukraine and Russia have been subject to political manipulation and the creation of historic myths by both countries.

* Stratocide – elimination of a social class, from Latin ‘strat’ (stratum – layer, social layer, class) and ‘cide’ (oxido, occido – to vanish oft. reacting with air, to massacre).

President Dmitry Medvedev’s refusal to participate in the events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor famine in Ukraine has brought the issue of the millions of peasants’ death in the time of the USSR’s first five year plan to the fore again. The evaluation of those events has acquired not only a historic but also a moral meaning. However, in Ukraine and in Russia historical ignorance is widely favoured in the name of political expediency.

Peasantry – a threat to Bolshevism

The Stalinist collectivization policy was specific to the revolutionary process in 1917. It’s impossible to understand the reasons and the character of the unprecedented tragedy of 1932-1933 which is often referred to as ‘Holodomor’ without evaluating the events taking place before and during collectivization. In the years of 1918-1920 a new ruling class was formed in the country, maintaining political power and privileges by the means of authoritarian rule by one party. The Communist Party bureaucrats (around 150 thousand people by 1930-1932) comprised leaders of party organizations, employees of the central administration and party governing agencies as well as leaders of punitive state security agencies.

The food crisis of 1927-1928 made it evident that the coexistence of a self-sufficient country peasant and the Communist Party officials was impossible.

The peasant and the entrepreneur had always been a threat to the Bolsheviks through their capability to control the situation in the food market, and thus affecting major supplies to the cities. In 1928 Stalin realized that ‘the Soviet power’ was hanging by a thread and it had to be rescued. After 1928 it was possible for the nomenclature to retain power only by creating a system of production which exploits the labour of the population. Keeping any other forms of economic relations would have inevitably strengthened the influence of free entrepreneurs in the country. As a result, had the entrepreneurs been left on their own they would have pushed Communists out of the economical and political life of the country. The nomenclature would have been stripped of their power, and would suffer inevitable personal responsibility for the socialist experiment and crimes committed after 1917 with unpredicted consequences for many active members of the Communist Party. Consequently, a peasant – a free producer of bread and agricultural goods – had to become either a farm labourer attached to the land or a state enterprise or be annihilated.

It was not a national but a social group, despite its geographic or regional boundaries, became a target for a massive instance of monstrous violence.

The main reason of collectivization, first of all, is that the superior nomenclature of the Communist Party strives to retain its supremacy in Russia won by the Bolsheviks in the years of the civil war.

In 1929, around 154 million people lived in the USSR with no less than 130 million peasants among them. By 1932 the Bolsheviks had herded 61.5 % of peasant farms into collective farms, which became state enterprises for compulsory work on the land. By 1937 they had collectivised 93% of the peasant population.

Counterrevolutionary activists

On January 5, 1930, the Central Committee made a decision to “collectivize” most peasants’ property. On January 15 a special commission was formed with Molotov as its head. The commission prepared the following recommendations to eliminate ‘kulaks’ (well-off peasants):

(1) Abolish the law concerning hired labour thus, disabling the kulaks from hiring other peasants to work on their land.

(2) Requisition agricultural property, such as: tools, farm animals, agricultural and residential constructions, produce-processing facilities, and food, fodder and seed reserves.

(3) All kulaks were to be divided into three categories. Those whom OGPU and party officials included in the first category, “counterrevolutionary activists,” were to be sent to concentration camps or executed; those in the second category were to be deported to remote areas inside the USSR; and those in the third category were to be expelled outside the collective farms.

On January 30, 1930, the recommendations prepared by the Molotov Commission were approved by a Politburo secret resolution.

In the first category, the plan was to execute or send to concentration camps 60,000 people; while under the second category, deport 245,000 people to the northern regions, Siberia, the Ural Mountains, or to Kazakhstan.

The deported people were allowed to keep “only the most necessary items, basic tools (axes and shovels), and a minimal amount of food. All money was to be confiscated; each family was allowed to keep no more than 500 roubles. Family members of those arrested by OGPU would automatically be in the next category.

In 1930, OGPU “troikas” considered 180,000 cases. Of these, 19,000 people faced the firing squad, and approximately 100,000 were sent to prisons and camps. By the end of 1930, the number of people in Soviet prisons was 250 to 300 thousand, plus 160 thousand more in OGPU camps.

(The number of people imprisoned, by comparison, in the Russian Empire as of January 1, 1911, at that time there were 174,733 prisoners, including 1,331 political prisoners.)

Collectivization activists, Communists, and Komsomol members along with representatives of local authorities would draw an inventory of a kulak’s property, and then his family would be thrown outside the house and sent along with other kulaks to a nearby railway station.

At the station, men, children, women and old people were loaded like animals onto cargo trains and sent away to Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Komi, the Urals, and Siberia. They travelled for weeks without bread, food and water. Once they arrived, they were left on a barren steppe. It took a long time to build a house. By September 1930, less than two percent of the housing needed for the deported was ready in the Arctic Region. This means that people spent the winter of 1930 outside, in dugouts, in tents, dying by the thousand in woods and swamps.

According to some recently declassified reports from FSB archives, from 1.8 to 2.1 million deported kulaks died in special settlements during the 1930s.

In response to the collectivization, peasants staged major rebellions during the winter and the spring of 1930. In Don, Kuban, and Terek in Western Siberia and even in some central provinces, rebels offered resistance to armed groups of Soviet and party activists that were reinforced by OGPU and army units. According to OGPU reports, during the first four months of 1930, there were more than 6,000 peasant rebellions, involving almost 1.8 million people (By the summer of 1919 the number of White Army troops by comparison in Russia was 600,000).

As a result, Stalin had to reduce pressure on peasants temporarily, announcing that the collectivization movement was “voluntary.” As a result, in the spring and the summer of 1930 collective farms started falling apart, but the future of the Communist elite still depended on their success in establishing a system of collective farms. Therefore, the mandatory collectivization resumed in 1931-1932. It met with particular resistance in the grain-producing provinces and in those areas which were centres of anti-Bolshevik resistance in 1918-1920.

Holodomor and collectivization

Long before the Nazis the Party officials started to apply famine as a tool for political repressions against their own nationals in a peaceful time.

The plan was, through excessive bread procurements, to force the unruly population to live from hand to mouth and not resist a forced creation of collective farms.

The immense number of deaths because of the famine in villages in 1933 was organized by Party and Cheka officials’ excessive and ruthless bread procurements held in the autumn of 1932 and winter of 1932-1933. Collective farming allowed the Bolsheviks to get cheap grain more effectively than during grain requisition in 1918-1921. In 1930 the Party and Soviet authorities took away more than 30% of the crop, but in 1931, it was about 40%. In 1932 the norm of grain withdrawal was increased by 45%, though the crop of 1932, 698.7 million centners (a soviet measurement, or 69.87 million tonnes), was much lower than the crop of 1930 (834.5 million centners, or 83.45 million tonnes).

As a result the grain procurements of 1932 were higher than the grain procurements of 1930, by more than 30%.

In the summer of 1932 some regions were already seized by famine. In Ukraine 127 regions suffered from a famine. In Central Kazakhstan about 100 thousand farms starved. That spring almost 15 thousand Kazakhs died. At the same time, the harvest of 1932 was not as poor as in 1931.

There were no objective conditions for high mortality in the country. The harvest of 1932 was good enough to avoid a famine and provide reasonable grain supplies,
Moreover the crop of 1932 (698.7 million centners) was higher than the “not so hungry” 1931 (694.8 million centners), but the crop of 1932 was unbearable for peasants. The excessive plan was fulfilled with enormous hardships. Neither collective farmers nor farmers were not in any hurry to supply grain to the state, which pretended to have not only excessive grain, but also winter and spring supplies for personal needs.

In the winter of 1932-1933 millions starved to death in a famine in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The famine had become interregional by the winter of 1933. In September of 1940 Stalin personally mentioned that about 25-30 million people starved in Ukraine, the Northern Caucasus, the Volga region, Kazakhstan, Tavriya and southern regions of the Central provinces of Russia, in some regions of the Far East and the Urals in spring-summer of 1933.

Documents that have now been published depict appalling pictures of human sufferings and degradation.

Only in the late summer of 1933 did Holodomor begin to decline. The exact number of victims of a famine of 1932-1933 is not known. Despite the collectivization the country had a steady population increase, though in 1931-1932 it shrank. On the first of January in 1934 it was 156,797,000 thousand people. Even in a tragic year of 1932 when a famine seized Ukraine and Moldova, the natural growth in population compensated for its decline. And in 1932 the Soviet population increased by 1,051,000 people. In 1933, however, the population of the USSR did the opposite, and shrank by 6,115,000 people.

Direct victims of the Soviet era as a result of collectivization and the Holodomor (1930–1933) are roughly distributed as follows: no less than 100 thousand died in repressions against collective farms from 1930 to 1932 and extrajudicial repressions during collectivization; 6.5 million (4 million of which in Ukraine) as a result of Holodomor organized by the Party officials in the second half of 1932 and winter of 1933 to weaken resistance to collective farming in areas of the Don, in Kuban; in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the Volga areas and Western Siberia; 1.8 – 2.1 million of the deported died due to poor conditions and excessive labour in special settlements created by the authorities in 1930-1940; 35,734 people charged with 'counter-revolutionary crimes' were shot by OGPU-NKVD in 1930-1933. The total death toll is roughly 8,450,000 people.

PR on Blood

The attempt by modern Ukrainian politicians to present the tragedy of villagers exclusively as an “act of Russia’s repressive policy against Ukraine” does not stand up to criticism. Similar assessments can be equally considered an insult of the memory of those farmers who died during the collectivization years and were not ethnic Ukrainians.

The artificial famine was staged by the top nomenclature officials of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolshevists (the VKPb) not only in Ukraine, but also in the areas of the Volga, the Don and in Kuban, Kazakhstan and some other regions of the Soviet Union.

It’s quite obvious that the number of Soviet farmers, including ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs and others, eliminated by Stalin during the collectivization years is several times more than the number of Soviet Jews killed by the Nazis during the occupation in 1941-44, and in total exceeds the number of civilian victims in the occupied territories of the USSR during the war. It is a question of a humanitarian disaster quite comparable with the Holocaust, although with a social, rather than ethnic, tinge.

This is why the authorities in the Russian Federation in their turn, are definitely not keen on an objective assessment of the collectivization and Holodomor during the years of the first Five-Year Plans, as well as the perpetuation of the memory of millions of farmers who died then. Similar steps would make the question of a legal and moral evaluation of the political undertakings of the Communist Party topical again.

A recognition of the Stalinist state policy in 1929-33 as an act of stratocide - a massive elimination of its own population according to social status – would sharply contradict the false historical memory, rooted in the Russian public awareness and the attempts to build a new Russian statehood based on recognition of the value and the positive character of the Soviet period. Unfortunately, millions of collectivization victims in Ukraine will be used only for political machinations and to create Russophobia myths, whereas in Russia they will be continuously debunked, so as not to allow the delegitimization of the current people in power who are not capable to exist in their positions without returning to the Soviet historical tradition.

Kirill Aleksandrov, St. Petersburg State University for Gazeta.Ru
(translated by Maya Kalinina, Vladimir Demidov, Andrey Pechonkin, RT)


Swiss authorities have confiscated several million Swiss francs belonging to businessman Boris Berezovsky

Michael Leupold, a senior Swiss justice ministry official has spoken highly about mutual legal assistance between Russian and Switzerland in dealing with criminal cases, saying there had been only once instance - the Yukos case - where the Swiss Federal Tribunal denied such help to Russia.

Mutual assistance with their Russian counterparts has been increasingly significant for Swiss prosecution authorities in recent years, Leupold, director of the Federal Department for Justice of the Swiss Federal Department for Justice and Police (justice ministry), told Interfax.

Switzerland had received very valuable help from the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General in important trials, Leupold said.

Switzerland and Russia had been jointly fighting crime for a long time under Council of Europe conventions, he added.

Such cooperation is increasing all the time, the official said. Switzerland yearly receives an average of 50 requests for legal help, often on corruption or economic crime cases, he said.

On several occasions, Swiss courts have received suits from persons under prosecution disputing Russian-Swiss cooperation under criminal cases but most of the suits have been thrown out, Leupold said

Swiss authorities have confiscated several million Swiss francs belonging to businessman Boris Berezovsky at Russia's request.

"The Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland on October 27, 2008 ruled to confiscate several million francs from bank accounts in Switzerland, one of whose beneficiaries was or is Berezovsky. The Federal Criminal Court's ruling has not yet taken legal effect," Michael Leupold said.

The matter involves the so-called Aeroflot case, under which a Russian court trying Berezovsky in absentia found him guilty of embezzling nearly 215 million rubles belonging to Aeroflot and sentenced him to six years in prison at the end of last year.

In addition, Switzerland earlier passed documents on the Aeroflot case to Russian authorities, Leupold said.

"The Federal Criminal Court ruled on July 15, 2008 that the money frozen under mutual legal assistance procedures will remain blocked because of possible restitution request that Russia might make," he said.

"In the past, Switzerland provided Russia with documents on the investigations into various cases, and Switzerland also returned Russian money of criminal origin, which was blocked based on confiscation rulings passed by competent courts," Leupold said.

"However, these cases did not involve particularly famous people, and the sums were not astronomical, either," he said.

Leupold also told that Swiss banks had almost 32 billion Swiss francs (about $25.5 billion.) of Russian origin.

According to this country's National Bank, the holdings lodged with Swiss banks or their foreign branches by Russian residents and Russian-based businesses totaled 31.6 billion Swiss francs by the end of 2007, said Michael Leupold.

That includes 13.8 billion Swiss francs in bank assets, 42 million in savings and current accounts; and 17.5 billion other bank liabilities (call deposits and fixed-term deposits), Leupold said.

By the end of 2007 the liabilities [of Swiss banks] before foreign clients totaled 2.0704 trillion Swiss francs, he said.

Apart from few exceptions, property holdings managed in Switzerland are of legal origin, Leupold said. It is very rare for criminals manage to get around the anti-money laundering system (in particular, the system of thorough verification of the money origin by banks) and to deposit illegal money in Switzerland, he said.

For years Switzerland has been actively fighting against the illegal use of our financial institutions and is playing a notable role in international cooperation and restitution of criminal holdings, he said.

Some of the high-profile cases, such as Marcos case or the Abachi case [Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and former Nigerian leader Sani Abachi], made it clear to criminals that they should not rely on the Swiss bank secrecy in order to escape justice. Switzerland is a wrong place for concealing or depositing illegal funds, the justice official said.


No US missile system in Czech Republic (petition in 6 languages)


Russia and Brazil boost ties

No crisis can prevent Russia and Brazil from taking the lead in global economic growth, according to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “Russia and Brazil have strategic relations, we are part of the BRIC group,” he told a gathering of Russian and Brazilian businessmen in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.
“Our countries are developing according to a similar scenario, both hoping to become the leaders of economic growth. I am convinced that our problems will be solved,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by the Vesti channel.

He described the climate in the two countries’ economic relations as “very warm,” and the potential for deeper contacts as “simply huge.” “A lot depends on our countries today, our cooperation is extremely important for the entire world. Russia is ready to cooperate with Brazil,” Medvedev emphasized.

Among other things, the Russian president believes that Russia and Brazil need to sign a double taxation convention and boost interbank relations.

“The structure of our trade is imperfect, but we are confident that it can be optimized,” he noted. “Brazil is our largest trade partner in South America. Our trade reached $5 billion in 2007, and I think we can bring it to $10 billion over the next few years,” he said.

Hi-tech and energy projects should play a greater role in Russian-Brazil ties, Medvedev stressed: “Our energy cooperation is still modest, but it has huge potential, especially regarding the development of new oil and gas fields in Russia and Brazil.”

The governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, invited Russian companies to join energy projects in his state, which holds 85 percent of the country’s total oil and gas reserves. The help of Russian companies was needed to develop those reserves, Cabral said. Russian gas giant Gazprom will open an office in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of next year, according to Medvedev.

Turning to Russia’s domestic economy, he said it was set to face more problems in the near future, but assured that the government would fulfill its obligations. “Significant changes have taken place in all sectors of the Russian economy over the past ten years. Economic growth will remain at 7 percent, though we do expect some difficulties,” he explained. “Since 2001, Russia has had a double surplus: in budget and in balance of payments,” Medvedev added. “We will develop our economy, performing our social obligations and sticking to our priorities,” he concluded.


Trying to learn history's lessons

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik) - The main lesson of history is that nobody learns anything from it. This truth is as ancient as the world, but its age does not make it less relevant. Considering global developments, namely the wars conducted by the United States, one can't help getting the feeling of deja vu. The same events already happened in the past. Only the details were different.

The similarity of wars in Iraq and Vietnam, as well as the resemblance of the Soviet and U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan, is evident to everybody. The development of conflicts, especially the war in Afghanistan, repeats past events with uncanny accuracy, and one can't give up the idea that other people's mistakes do not teach anyone anything. The United States is now repeating one of such errors: it is building up its Afghan contingent aiming to boost it to 52,000. Washington hopes that having a larger contingent, coupled with several its allies' building up their forces, will finally lead to a resounding victory over the Taliban and separate guerrilla groups without common command.

In a similar situation many years ago the Soviet Union preferred to build up its limited Afghan contingent as one of the main strategies of securing a victory: a large contingent was believed to ensure control over vast territories. It also made it possible to guard convoys with cargoes more effectively. That decision was justified to a certain extent; however, soon it became clear that it was pointless to build up a military contingent when there was no opportunity to deliver a blow to the adversary's supply and training bases. The Pakistani Mujahideen who had been killed were replaced by individual fighters, small groups and large gangs armed with American, Chinese, and Soviet weapons (received from some former allies of the Soviet Union), and the process was repeated.

The only way to annihilate Mujahideen was to conduct a military operation against their bases in Pakistan, but such escalation of war was impossible.

What is happening now? We are seeing practically the same picture. The United States fights against guerrilla groups backed by Iran and Pakistan, but it has no opportunity to destroy their bases. War on Pakistani territory, as well as war against Iran, is impossible at present. How can this situation end?

Building up the U.S. contingent in Afghanistan will only result in a higher death toll (it should be noted that the United States is reluctant to report its losses in the conflict zone). As a result, it will face a choice: either to terminate the operation, or to venture on a radical expansion of the contingent. Termination will mean a failure and shameful flight. After the United States pulls out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will quickly restore control over the country. Even according to the most liberal forecasts, Hamid Karzai's government will not exist "independently" for more than a couple of months.

It is even more difficult to predict how this decision may tell on America's domestic problems. Given the aggravating crisis - not only economic, but also psychological - a lost war will only make things worse. But the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, forced by its inability to make groundbreaking changes in the country, is an even worse scenario.

The second option, the conflict's expansion, means using force both when addressing the Iranian problem and attempting to steer the Pakistani ally in the "right" direction.

These steps will cause a full-scale war in the Middle East, from Iraq to India's borders, with dozens of divisions, hundreds of thousands of men on the ground, dozens of battleships, and thousands of planes and helicopters involved. Such a war will be on a larger scale than any conflict of the 20th century, except for the two world wars. It is impossible to imagine the outcome and consequences of such a conflict, where almost all Asian states will participate.

It is hard to believe that the United States will choose this way. However history, whose lessons go unheeded, shows that boosting military production and entering World War II, coupled with active provoking of Japan, became a way to overcome the Great Depression. Today's economic and financial crisis has every chance of surpassing the Great Depression. Who can guarantee that the means of countering it will not be equally impressive?

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

вторник, 25 ноября 2008 г.


Forgery of various national histories has got the same handwriting


Deletion of truth is as typical for informational wars as casualties for physical warfare. Information designated for various target audiences is commonly adapted and sieved, some details being zoomed in while others left out of eyeshot.

Still, the rules of the genre, as well as standards of morality, suggest that a professional author is reluctant to spread blatant lies. After all, as it is well known from lessons of history, political lies are sooner or later exposed and tend to return to the falsifier as a boomerang. By the end of World War II, information, spread by Josef Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda, was doubted even when it was true.

Still, if revivified today, Goebbels would be fascinated with the multitude of successors in the skills of political lie. Following his experience, they rely upon short memory of the international audience, and the mental clichés of a Philistine, supposed to take lies for granted, especially when they concern a priori unpopular states, institutions, or persons. Brevity of an "ordinary" human memory supposedly guarantees that after fulfilling its immediate objective, even a most disgusting libel would dissolve in the informational flow, leaving no traces behind. Three recent examples, broadly debated in international mass media, are most illustrative.


Mastering the TV coverage of the Russian military operation in Georgia, undertaken as an effort to coerce the aggressive side to peace, CNN tasked its personnel to present a picture of the city of Gori, supposedly utterly demolished with the fire of Russian bombers. The problem was that Gori was almost wholly intact and did not remind a new Guernica. How to find the required smoking ruins, mutilated corpses and bereaved families weeping above them? CNN's approach was not very sophisticated: they just displayed the ruins of Tskhinval, the central city of South Ossetia, ruined days before by the Georgian army. The required horrific material was at hand in abundance. Shortly later, Russia Today channel's reporter discovered the forgery: "Our team was working in Tskhinval, preparing a TV report about the destruction of public facilities, including the city university. Imagine our amazement when we saw this building in CNN's report in the scene of what was presented as Gori. We possess the original material and can prove its authenticity. CNN's produce is nothing else but gross ad shameless falsification", says Russia Today's cameraman Nikolai Baranov.


A movie entitled "No One's Land", staged by Bosnian TV director Denis Tanovic, was decorated with the Oscar award as the best documentary of atrocities against Bosnian Moslems, committed by Serbian nationalists. The scene of physical extermination of civilians on the order of a Serbian officer was most impressive. Last year, it was found out that the scene, as well as other episodes, was grossly forged: the material, used in the movie, was made by a UN official in 1992, and in fact depicted an attack of Moslem fighters on a column of Serbian refugees, victimizing thirty persons, among them women and kids. This falsification was exposed by the Serbian Association of Internees whose spokesmen believe that Mr. Tanovic was perfectly aware of the real situation.


Last week, Ukrainian authorities broadly marked the 75th anniversary of famine of 1933, determined by the official Kiev as "Holodomor", i.e. deliberate extermination through famishing. Photo documentation used to illustrate the tragedy featured exhausted persons, hardly able to move from hungry fatigue; kids, resembling tiny skeletons, and heaps of dead bodies on the ground. Experts found out that the photo evidence belonged to an earlier period of the civil war in Soviet Russia. The photos were identical to samples from the collection of Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen who used them at that time for organizing rescue of the starving people of the Volga region.

This particular forgery does not except the fact of a massive famine in the droughty summer of 1933, encompassing all the south-western steppe regions of then-Soviet Union, and not distinguishing kolkhozniks on the principle of ethnic origin. The archives of the Krasnodar Kray Administration of Russia contain a lot of materials, including photo documentation, about the famine in the Kuban Valley, with lists of victims in the whole range of this multi-ethnic region adjacent to North Caucasus.

Meanwhile, the official Ukrainian propaganda, encouraged and assisted from the United States and Canada, describes the famine as a purposive extermination of people of Ukrainian origin. In comments to authentic materials used by Kiev officials, starving kolkhozniks are passed off as ethnic Ukrainians, though the population of the affected areas in Eastern and Central Ukraine was mixed – as it is today.

The Holodomor concoction was raised decades ago by Reagan's Republican administration with assistance from a number of activists from the Ukrainian diaspora, most of whom did not live in Soviet Ukraine in the related period, and one prominent specialist, longtime Freedom House president Adrian Karatnycky, safely escaped with his whole family from the "prison of peoples" right at that time.

Reagan's administration was then supposed to use relevant materials to officially blame the Soviet Politburo for "ethnic" atrocities. This plan was then postponed probably due to the arrival of Soviet perestroika when Mikhail Gorbachov (originating from Krasnodar Kray and married to a Ukrainian) came to power. Since that time, after the powers of Russia had rehabilitated the victims of Stalinism, denouncing, particularly, the really deliberate and systematic extermination of Orthodox clergy and severe persecution of Russian nobility – though Stalin's henchmen were similarly merciless also to well-to-do farmers (kulaks), disloyal artistic intelligentsia, and ruthlessly purged the Bolshevik party and the Red Army as well. Still, the rusty propagandist inventory is surfacing anew in over two decades. Why? Obviously, propagandists rely upon convenient extinction of surviving witnesses.


What is common for these three episodes? In each of them, images of real victims, raised from archives, are forged for needs of particular political use by persons who cannot imagine the reality of the relevant historical periods, though the true chronicle is available in the Library of the US Congress as well as in Russian archives, open for foreign specialists.

These stolen images of really perished people, who aren't able to object in courts, are used without permission from their surviving relatives. The memory about these people, instead of being kept in due solemnity, is resold as commodities of the propagandist industry. The images of Ossetians, exterminated by the US-nurtured Georgian regime, are exploited for fencing off this regime that had long discredited the whole vocabulary of democracy. The images of Serbs, exterminated by Moslem mercenaries, are laid in the foundation of the myth about "Serbian fascism". The images of Russians and Volga minorities that perished from starvation in 1918-1919, are utilized for instigating hate towards Russians in Ukraine.

The handwriting of this legally doubtful and essentially immoral practice is the same. The propagandist machine of the nation that backed Izetbegovic and Tudjman and today embraces convicted felon Hashim Thaci and corrupt raider and arms trafficker Mikhail Saakashvili, has long exceeded all the imaginable ethnical barriers of media debate.

Why do we raise this issue again and again? We have to do this, as brainwashing of mass audience, for a mere purpose of producing an "enemy image", is going to multiply, spawning remote effects. Libel scenarios used against Russia are likely to be applied to any country that questions the right of the United States for global domination. In a decade or two, the newer and less educated generation of the international audience will be told that the genocide in Kampuchea was unleashed not by the West-backed (though Communist) Khmer Rouge but by the government of Vietnam that overthrew the bloody regime. Quite possible, the "Big Leap" of China in 1975-78 will be interpreted as a means to exterminate Chuans, Manchurians, and Uighurs. And, eventually, the horrible scenes of torment and torture of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisoners will decorate albums telling about the "crimes of the Ayatollahs" as a political pretext for a military assault on Iran.


Russian prosecutors bring new fraud charges against Berezovsky

MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russian prosecutors have brought new charges of large-scale fraud against fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, the General Prosecutor's Office said on its website on Tuesday.

The prosecutors have referred the criminal case to the courts against Berezovsky and Yuly Dubov, accused of money laundering during a deal for the delivery of a large batch of cars, involving Russia's AvtoVAZ carmaker, the website said.

Over a dozen criminal probes have been launched in Russia against Berezovsky, a one-time close associate of late president Boris Yeltsin, including plotting to stage a coup and embezzling $13 million from a leading Russian bank.

Russia has issued multiple warrants for Berezovsky's arrest and has repeatedly demanded his extradition from Britain, where he was granted political asylum in 2000.

According to investigators, Berezovsky, who was the mastermind behind an organized criminal group, used his personal connections with the management of AvtoVAZ to arrange for a deal in 1994 between AvtoVAZ and another automaker, LogoVAZ, managed by the oligarch and other group members.

"Under the contract, AvtoVAZ undertook to supply 20,000 VAZ cars of different models to LogoVAZ at prices valid at the time of supply. Prepayment for the cars was not envisaged," a statement by the investigators said.

Investigators believe that Berezovsky and other members of his criminal group planned to use the proceeds from the sale of the cars to acquire stocks of reputable companies, real estate and for other personal needs.

Investigators have established that contrary to the contract terms, the criminal group led by Berezovsky failed to pay AvtoVAZ for 5,560 vehicles supplied and used an estimated sum equivalent to around $24 million for their own needs.

In particular, the money was spent on acquiring shares in Russian Public Television and the Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation, which owned the TV6 channel. Also, a part of the money was spent on real estate purchases in elite areas outside Moscow.

Investigators have also established that Berezovsky spent part of the money to buy a 14.3-hectare plot of land in the Krasnogorsk district northwest of Moscow for his daughter.

пятница, 21 ноября 2008 г.

Russia banks to be barred from state rescue package for loan abuse

MOSCOW, November 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian banks that have received state loans during the current financial crisis but converted them into U.S. dollars will be barred from the government's rescue package, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Thursday.

"We have drafted a law. It could be submitted to the State Duma [the lower house] today. The Central Bank will have additional authority to check how money received as state support is spent," Shuvalov said.

The move comes after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that some banks had transferred government bailout money to offshore accounts instead of giving it to the intended recipients.

President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday as the financial crisis deepened that the government could spend more than the previously planned $200 billion on stabilization measures.

Russia has been hard hit by the global financial crunch that began with the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States last summer and has quickly spread to the rest of the world.

The country's stock market has lost around 70% of its value since May, and the Central Bank has spent billions of dollars to prop up the ruble, which is sinking amid economic turmoil and falling oil prices.

Speaking at a news conference, Shuvalov said the government had come under pressure from members of the business community that opposed its efforts to shore up the ruble.

"We have come under serious pressure from business and financial experts over a drop in the ruble's exchange rate," Shuvalov said, adding however that there would be no drastic alteration in its exchange rates and that speculation to the contrary had no grounds.

He also said the government was set to review state projects and state-run organizations' investment programs in a bid to streamline spending amid the crisis, but added that transport and energy infrastructure projects would not be subject to revision.

Shuvalov said spending cuts would not concern preparations for a 2012 APEC summit in Vladivostok, in Russia's Far East, and for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort Sochi.

He also backed a proposal made by Putin at a ruling party congress earlier on Thursday to cut taxes. Shuvalov said the tax cuts would allow the Russian economy to save 556 billion rubles ($20.2 billion), or 1.1% GDP.


четверг, 20 ноября 2008 г.

Russia to cut profit tax

RBC, 20.11.2008, Moscow 13:16:08.Speaking at the 10th congress of the United Russia political party, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that profit tax would be decreased by 4 percentage point from January 1, 2009.

At the same time, he indicated that businesses had the right to pay profit tax on the basis of their actual profit, as opposed to paper profit. Putin stressed that this would allow Russia's regions to avoid returns of excessive taxes. He also urged the deputies to make corresponding amendments to the Tax Code, so that they could become effective on November 28, 2008.

Squabble over underwater treasure trove

A priceless lost treasure is due to be lifted from the bottom of the sea. Having spent over two centuries underwater off the shores of Finland, the ship "Frau Maria" along with its priceless cargo is due to be lifted from its resting place on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

The Russian imperial riches are said to be the most important underwater discovery ever, presenting unprecedented historical and monetary value. Now the question stands of who will reap the benefits. Russia, Finland and The Netherlands all claim that the bounty should be theirs.

Its history is like an adventure novel. In 1771, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great ordered an extensive collection of art for her newly-founded Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. The Empress was fastidious in her choices and paid for them generously, yet she never saw the result of her efforts. Leaving Amsterdam, the ship encountered a storm, ran aground and sank near what is now Finland. The crew was saved, unlike the masterpieces, which were left in the vessel's storage. Only in 1999 did Finnish divers come across the ship.

According to records, 27 paintings were onboard the ship, including previously unseen works by Rembrandt, van Goyen and other Dutch painters of the period. Experts say that the paintings were not severely harmed after spending all those years underwater. Before shipment, the canvases were put into lead containers with wax poured over the openings. In addition to the paintings, Frau Maria dragged away dozens of bronze sculptures, hundreds of porcelain objects as well as countless gold and silver coins. Art lovers around the world consider the collection to be priceless, while antiquarians give it the tag of 500 million to 1 billion euros.

The question now stands as to which country has the strongest claim for the treasures. The Finnish government asserts that the law is on its side. Indeed, according to a Finnish law, anything which spends more than 100 years on the bottom of its sea officially becomes its property. Nevertheless, matters are further complicated by the fact that the Russian Empire signed a deed buying all of the ship's contents. Furthermore, at the time that the deeds were signed, Finland, including the location where the sunken ship now lies, was part of the Russian Empire. The Netherlands, from their part, suggest that the riches should be reaped by them, since "Frau Maria" is a Dutch ship.

However, the countries shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch – the ship still needs to be hauled from the seabed first. Artyom Tarasov from the Russian charity organisation "The Rescue of national cultural and historic valuables" says that exploring the ship's bottom and the surrounding area will take up the whole of 2009. Then, a decision will have to be made on how to lift "Frau Maria" up from the seabed.

"We predict two possible scenarios. The first one is that the boat will be lifted up as a whole using special soft ropes made from artificial fibres so that the boardsides are not harmed. The second option is for divers to remove the valuables out from Frau Maria's hold," said Tarasov.

According to experts, unlike Jaques Yves Cousteau's nautical missions which involved the swift lifting of objects from the bottom of the sea, the operation with "Frau Maria" needs more scientific planning. Russian representatives have said that the project should not be individualised, but rather considered pan-European and humanitarian and intended to benefit not only all the parties involved, but also, above everything else, world culture.

Russian engineers have pointed out that the Frau Maria could have been lifted as far back as nine years ago. However, intense negotiations are needed for the project to be conducted adequately. The Finnish government has even said that the Frau Maria may not see the light of day until 2018.


New website allows South Ossetia war victims to speak out

The conflict in South Ossetia in August may have been short, but the consequences will continue for a long time. A website has been set up by those affected by the fighting to allow fellow victims share stories and make sure no one ever forgets the tragedy and suffering of the people.

The website www.helpossetianow.org shows the war in the republic through the eyes of its people: of the civilians who suffered the Georgian bombardment late at night when most of them were sleeping.

On August 7 Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili stated on television that his country is for peaceful negotiations with South Ossetia and wouldn't fire a single shot, but according to the peacekeepers, Georgian troops had already surrounded the South Ossetian capital preparing for an attack. AFP Photo / Viktor Drachev

When the fighting started, thousands of Ossetians were fleeing to Russia trying to save their lives. Many civilians were deliberately killed in their attempt to escape.

Some of those who survived the onslaught have shared their stories on the www.helpossetianow.org website.

“My wife was killed when our car was caught up in the shelling. I was wounded in the leg and my son received a serious head injury,” says Tskhinval resident Pyotr Petoev.

Some other reminders of the war on the site are equally horrifying.

“Here is the grave of my brother. Every morning when I come out of my house I see the grave. It's very hard for me,” Zalina Kabisova from Tskhinval region says.

One family ravaged by earlier conflicts was wiped out during the summer war and their story has been told by their neighbours.

“The whole family, the whole house, suffered at the hands of Georgian fascists. A 26-year old girl and her mother died this way. The father and the son were killed during the previous conflicts in the 90s and in 2001,” says eye-witness Alla Gasieva.

Lira Tskhovrebova, who runs the website, collected the stories.

“One should do anything they can to prevent what happened in August from happening again. And to achieve that goal, the world should know the truth about the war in South Ossetia!” emphasized Lira Tskhovrebova.

Lira says an Ossetian bias doesn’t affect her coverage as her own mother is Georgian. New stories are constantly being added to her site – the new voices eager to be heard by the rest of the world.


Russia's new strategic submarine to start sea trials by yearend

SEVERODVINSK, November 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's first Borey class strategic nuclear submarine will start sea trials by the end of 2008, the Sevmash shipyard said on Thursday. (Russia launches new nuclear submarine - Image Gallery)

The fourth-generation Yury Dolgoruky was built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia and was taken out of dry dock in April 2007. It will be equipped with Bulava ballistic missiles upgraded from Topol-M (SS-27) missiles.

"The [submarine's] reactor will be switched on by the end of November. Yury Dolgoruky will go to sea by yearend," Sevmash general director Nikolai Kalistratov said.

The submarine is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107 (55 officers), a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles.

Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011.

"The construction is going according to schedule," Kalistratov said.

Russia's Navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, said in July that the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarines is a top priority for the Russian Navy's development.

Under the Russian State Armaments Program for 2007-2015, the Navy will receive several dozen surface ships and submarines, including five Project 955 Borey nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarines equipped with the new Bulava ballistic missiles, two Project 885 Yasen nuclear-powered attack submarines, and six Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines.


среда, 19 ноября 2008 г.

UN adopts Russian proposed anti-Nazi resolution

UN, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - The UN General Assembly on social and humanitarian issues has adopted a draft resolution proposed by Russia on tackling a rise in the glorification of Nazism and the desecration of WWII monuments.

The draft resolution on "combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," is aimed at tackling the practice in the former Soviet republics of Latvia and Estonia of honoring SS veterans who fought for Nazi Germany during WWII.

"Nazi monuments are unveiled in a ceremonial atmosphere and the dates of liberation from the Nazis are proclaimed as days of mourning," Russia's UN representative, Grigory Lykyantsev, told the UN, adding that "this attitude towards anti-fascist veterans plays into the hands of those who call for 'a pure race.'"

The resolution was passed with 122 countries voting in favor, while 54 delegations abstained, including Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia. Only the U.S. voted against. The resolution is now practically guaranteed to be adopted at the next UN General Assembly session in December.

Parades in honor of Waffen-SS veterans, involving veterans from the Latvian Legion and the 20th Estonian SS Division and their supporters, are held annually in Latvia and Estonia. Russia has repeatedly criticized the Baltic States for allowing these parades to take place.

Another former Soviet republic, Ukraine, announced plans in July to erect a statue in Lutsk, western Ukraine, honor of Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) that fought against the Soviets during WWII.

The resolution also raises Russian concerns over the dismantling and desecration of Soviet-era WWII monuments and the "unlawful exhumation" or transfer of the remains of those killed in the fight against fascism.

The dismantling in Tallinn of the Soviet war memorial, the Bronze Soldier, just before the May 9, 2007 Victory Day celebrations in Russia led to street protests in which over 1,000 people were arrested and one Russian national was killed.

Relations between Russia and Latvia and Estonia have also been strained over what Moscow calls the two states' unequal treatment of ethnic Russians, the alleged persecution of Soviet WWII veterans, and the apparent revival of nationalism and fascism.


понедельник, 17 ноября 2008 г.

Ruble moving closer to regional currency status

The heads of the national banks and financial ministers of the CIS countries will consider shifting to the ruble in payments for Russian energy supplies. The agreement was reached at the meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government on November 14, Moldova’s Prime Minister Zinaida Grechannaya reported.
Currently, CIS countries have to buy dollars to pay for Russian energy supplies, and Russia then converts these dollars into rubles, which only adds to the price of oil and gas. With this in mind, the switch to rubles will be most beneficial for importers.

For the ruble, the proposed move would also mean an important step towards the status of a regional reserve currency, as most of the former Soviet republics import Russian energy. So far, Belarus is the only one to pay in rubles for Russian gas and oil. The agreement was part of the Russia-Belarus deal for a loan of $2 billion, which will be granted to Belarus in 2008-2009 for 15 years.

On November 13, Russia and Belarus signed the memorandum “On mutual understanding between the governments of the Russian Federation and Belarus regarding the coordination of measures to enhance the competitiveness of national economies,” providing for a loan to Belarus to support its trade, including with Russia.

The switch to payments in rubles will be Belarus’ “contribution to making the ruble a regional reserve currency,” Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said.

For his part, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who signed the document for Russia, said that some companies were already paying in rubles for Russian supplies. “We are going to extend the sphere of ruble payments, which should be regulated by intergovernmental agreements and relations with major importers. Our goal is to ensure that this is beneficial,” Kudrin emphasized.


воскресенье, 16 ноября 2008 г.

The atrocities of croatian fascists-ustase during WW2

NO SERBS, JEWS, NOMADS ['Gypsies'] AND DOGS" - Text of signs on public establishments in secessionist Croatia in June, 1941.

The Ustasha's organization was a typically fascist organization and its military strength was an instrument for the implementation of the Ustasha's Nazi ideology.

Ustashi ready to collect blood of a victim

The Ustasha army („Ustaška vojnica“) was organized by Slavko Kvaternik, the „second in command“ and it was made up of Ustasha units (filled out with volunteers) under the direction of the Central Ustasha Headquarters, of special police units („redarstvo“) and the Home Guard („domobrani“), and in August of 1941 the Ustasha Secret Service (abbreviated UNS after the Serbo-Croatian („Ustaška Nadzorna Sluzhba“) was formed, with Eugen - Dido Kvaternik at its head. With the aid of these organizations, the greatest kind of genocide was carried out against the Serbs, Jews and Romanies in the NDH. In order to make it possible for only Croats and Muslims to live in the NDH, the mass physical destruction, expulsion and forcible conversion of the Serbs was carried out, along with the systematic extermination of the Jews, and the almost complete destruction of the Romanies. The mass murder of the Serbs began already at the end of April, 1941, with the massacres in the villages around Bjelovar, in Banija in May, in Lika in June, in Kordun, in Bosnian Krajina and in Herzegovina. It is thought that just in the period from April, 1941, to the middle of August, 1942, over 600,000 Serbs were killed in the most brutal ways imaginable, and during the entire war over 180,000 Serbs were deported to Serbia proper.

The terror of the NDH government was especially aimed at the Serbian Orthodox Church. Three Orthodox bishops and most of the Orthodox priests were murdered by the end of 1941 in the cruelest of manners. During the war, 450 Orthodox churches were demolished. The exact number of Serbs forcibly converted to Catholicism has never been established.

Professor Edmond Paris:"Genocide in Satellite Croatia 1941 - 1945"on page 235.
Vlado Margetic, Franciscan, forcibly proselytizing Orthodox Serbs.

Avro Manhattan:"The Vatican's Holocaust" on page 68, says (quote):

"Converting" the Orthodox Serbs, December 21st, 1941, Friars, besides Priests, participated in forcible conversions. They were no less ruthless than the parish clergy, e.g. Monk Ambrozije Novak, Guardian of the Capucine Monastery in Varazdin, who, after surrounding the village of Mosanica with Ustashi contingents, told the people: "You Serbs are condemned to death, and you can only escape that sentence by accepting Catholicism."

Catholic Padres did not hesitate to liquidate those who resisted. Witness Father Dr. Dragutin Kamber, a Jesuit priest and sworn Ustashi, who ordered the killing of 300 Orthodox Serbs in Doboj... Or Father Dr. Branimir Zupanic, who had more than 400 people killed in one village alone: Ragoje. Father Srecko Peric, of the Gorica Monastery, near Livno [Herzegovina], advocated mass murders with the wollowing words: "Kill all Serbs. And when you finish come here, to Church, and I will confess you and free you from sin." This resulted in a massacre, on August 10th, 1941, during which over 5,600 Orthodox Serbs in the district of Livno alone lost their lives.

Avro Manhattan: "The Vatican's Holocaust", on page 35. reads (quote):

A mass execution carried out by the Ustashi at Brode [near Vukovar], early in 1941.

Nazi troops were looking at some of the victims.

The Nazis, who for a time were posted in Croatia, were so horrified at the Ustashi atrocities that they set up special commission to investigate them. The Orthodox Church of Serbia, in fact, appealed directly to the Nazi General Dukelman to intervene and stop the Ustashi horrors.

The Germans and the Italians managed to restrain the Ustashi while they were under their supervision. When the Nazis left Croatia, however, the Ustashi multiplied their atrocities, unrepremanded by the Government. Since the later's policy was one of the total elimination of the Orthodox Serbian population via forcible conversions, expulsion, or straightforward massacre.

Victims were executed in groups without trial on bridges and then thrown into the river. In May 1941 the Ustashi beseiged Glina. Having gathered together all the Orthodox males of over fifteen years of age from Karlovac, Sisak and Petrinja, they drove them outside the town and killed 600 of them with guns, knives and sledge hammers.


Jasenovach was the largest concentration and extermination camp in CROATIA. It was in fact a complex of several subcamps, in close proximity to each other, on the bank of the Sava River, about 62 miles (100 km) south of Zagreb. The women’ s camp of Stara Gradiška, which was farther away, also belonged to this complex.
It was established in August 1941 and was dismantled only in April 1945. The creation of the camp and its management and supervision were entrusted to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustaška Narodna Služba: UNS), headed by Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburić, who was personally responsible for everything that happened. Some six hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac, mostly Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and opponents of the USTASA regime. The number of Jewish victims was between twenty thousand and twenty-five thousand, most of whom were murdered there up to August 1942, when deportation of the Croatian Jews to Auschwitz for extermination began. Jews were sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia (and Bosnia and Herzegovina, e. n.) from Zagreb, from Sarajevo, and from other cities and smaller towns. On their arrival most were killed at execution sites near the camp: Granik, Gradina, and other places. Those kept alive were mostly skilled at needed professions and trades (doctors, pharmacists, electricians, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and so on) and were employed in services and workshops at Jasenovac. The living conditions in the camp were extremely severe: a meager diet, deplorable accommodations, a particularly cruel regime, and unbelievably cruel behavior by the Ustaše guards. The conditions improved only for short periods during visits by delegations, such as the press delegation that visited in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation in June 1944.


From the summer of 1941 to the spring of 1945, death in Jasenovac took numerous forms. The prisoners and all those who ended up in Jasenovac had their throats cut by the Ustasha with specially designed knives, or they were killed with axes, mallets and hammers; they were also shot, or they were hung from trees or light poles. Some were burned alive in hot furnaces, boiled in cauldrons, or drowned in the River Sava.

Here the most varied forms of torture were used: finger and toe nails were pulled out with metal instruments, eyes were dug out with specially constructed hooks, people were blinded by having needles stuck in their eyes, flesh was cut and then salted. People were also flayed, had their noses, ears and tongues cut off with wire cutters, and had awls stuck in their hearts. Daughters were raped in front of their mothers, sons were tortured in front of their fathers. Said plainly, in the concentration camps at Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška, the Ustasha surpassed all that even the sickest mind could imagine and do in terms of the brutal way people were murdered.

People in Jasenovac were no longer human beings, but rather objects which were available for the every whim of the Ustasha.

Even the Nazi generals were amazed at the horrors of Jasenovac. Thus, General von Horstenau, Hitler's representative in Zagreb, wrote in his personal diary for 1942 that the Ustasha camps in the NDH were „the epitome of horror“, and Arthur Hefner, a German transport officer for work forces in the Reich, wrote on November 11, 1942 of Jasenovac: „The concept of the Jasenovac camp should actually be understood as several camps which are several kilometers apart, grouped around Jasenovac. Regardless of the propaganda, this is one of the most horrible of camps, which can only be compared to Dante's Inferno“.


At the beginning of April 1945, the Ustasha were preparing the liquidation of the Jasenovac camp in order to remove the traces of their crimes before escaping. The ultimate liquidation of the Camp was begun on April 20, when the last large group of women and children was executed. On April 22, 1945, under the leadership of Ante Vukotić, about 600 people armed with bricks, poles, hammers and other things, broke down the doors, shattered windows and ran out of the building. About 470 people were sick and unable to fight barehanded with the armed Ustasha, so they did not take part in the rebellion. The 150 meter long path to the east gate of the camp was covered by the crossfire of the Ustasha machine-guns, and many prisoners were killed there. A large number of them was killed on the wires of the camp. A hundred prisoners managed to break through the broken gate of the camp. Only 80 prisoners survived while 520 of them died in the first assault. The remaining 470 within the camp were later killed by the Ustasha.

The captives, 167 of them, from the so-called „Kožara“ part of the Jasenovac camp, about 8 p.m. on April 22 also began mortal combat under the leadership of Stanko Gaćeša and Zahid Bukurević. 150 of them managed to break through, but they were surrounded and fired at so heavily that only 11 prisoners survived.

The Jasenovac camp was not liquidated until the very last battles were being fought. The Yugoslav Army forces entered the Stara Gradiška camp on April 23, and Jasenovac on May 2, 1945. Before leaving the camp, the Ustasha killed the remaining prisoners, blasted and destroyed the buildings, guard-houses, torture rooms, the „Picili Furnace“ and the other structures. Upon entering the camp, the liberators found only ruins, soot, smoke, and dead bodies.