вторник, 23 декабря 2008 г.

The Ossetian tragedy: 5,000 victims

A book entitled "The Ossetian Tragedy: the White Book of Crimes against South Ossetia", containing the results of the investigation into the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict in August this year, has been published in Moscow.

It was presented by Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the Committee of Inquiry of the Prosecutor's Office, who led the investigation process.

He said that following an investigation more than 5,000 people could be considered victims, having suffered as a result of Georgian aggression in South Ossetia.

He added that during the conflict 48 Russian servicemen were killed, including 10 peacekeepers. Two Russian peacekeepers are missing and 157 were injured. According to investigators, the Russian military took all necessary steps to prevent the attack.

Bastrykin also claimed Georgia had been preparing the military operation for some time and even employed overseas mercenaries.

“According Russian investigators, mercenaries from Ukraine, the US and Turkey took part in the military operation in South Ossetia alongside Georgian troops. We also gathered testimonies from local witnesses and Georgian prisoners of war that confirm there were foreign mercenaries fighting in South Ossetia,” he said.

The book is now in the process of being translated into English and will later be published abroad.

Source:Russia Today

понедельник, 22 декабря 2008 г.

RT Expert View: Gas déjà vu


Every New Year we seem to hear the same old story – that of an unpaid Ukrainian gas debt and Russia ‘using energy as a weapon’ to get. What does this year bring?

Peter Lavelle, RT’s political commentator and anchor

Russia’s Gazprom has again warned Ukraine that if a new natural gas contract is not in place by the end of the year, the taps will be turned off. Should we expect more theatrics from Kiev? Will it go down to the wire again?

It all appears to be a well calculated game the Ukrainians like to play to generate international sympathy. And this year, we have the added element of dropping gas prices due to the global turndown. How you think all of this will be played out?

Patrick Armstrong, a retired analyst for the Canadian government, specialising in the USSR and Russia

Once again it is time for a new gas supply contract for Ukraine. Once again Ukraine is behind on payments for gas it has already received. Once again, time is running out on the negotiations. Once again Ukraine doesn’t want to pay the going rate.

However, several things are different from the last round of negotiations in 2006. In October, Prime Ministers Putin and Tymoshenko made a general agreement that Ukraine would move to “world prices” gradually – it’s still paying quite a lot less than Germany is. This would argue for a rational settlement of the issue, were it not for the fact that Prime Minister Tymoshenko and President Yushchenko seem to feel that each has to oppose what the other does. The next very important difference is that Turkmenistan is no longer, as it was two years ago, prepared to provide cheap gas for Ukraine. Given that about 60% of the gas consumed in Ukraine comes from Turkmenistan, the price is certainly going to go up from today’s roughly $170 per thousand cubic metres. President Yushchenko has promised that should Gazprom cut Ukraine off, Ukraine will not poach gas going to customers in Western Europe as it did in 2006. Another change is the decline in the price of energy in the last six months.

If these agreements were negotiated as a matter of business – and Russia has already accepted the principle that Ukraine cannot afford to pay “world prices” yet– then the whole issue could be dealt with in a rational manner. We never hear that Germany, for instance, is behind on payments and neither does it create a political fuss when it’s time for a new agreement.

If all runs smoothly, Ukraine’s neighbours will eventually stop subsidising it with cheap gas and people will see Russia’s motive as the perfectly normal one of selling energy for the going rate. And perhaps, should President Yushchenko again call on his Western supporters claiming, “Russian aggression,” they will have learned from their experience with Georgia that there are always two sides to a story.

Mind you, I don’t understand why Gazprom doesn’t just tell Kiev to negotiate whatever prices it can with the Central Asian suppliers and the pipeline companies and keep out of it altogether.

Sergei Roy, editor, guardian-psj.ru

Some Russians who have had the misfortune of spending their summer on the Crimean Black Sea coast, are bringing back strange tales of the behaviour of Ukrainian traffic police: they see Russian license plates, they stop the car and demand payment just on principle, for nothing. If pressed, they come up with this rationale: you are Russians, you are rich, a few hrivnas are nothing to you, and they will go a long way with us.

This seems to be the current Ukrainian “national idea.” All the world lives on credit: Buy now, pay later. Ukrainians have improved on that slogan: Buy Russian gas now, don’t pay ever. At least not until your trading partner has exhausted the entire spectrum of appeals – to Brussels, to recipients of Russian gas in Europe or to Universal Conscience.

As we all remember, at the beginning of 2006 no appeals of any sort helped, and Russia briefly cut off supplies to Ukraine entirely, causing shortfalls among some European consumers and a starting wave of Russophobia. At the time only grumpy business people grumbled that debts must be paid and debtors must pay up or go to the wall. In the eyes of what it known as the “international community” Russia was seen as the bad guy.

Now, two years on, the situation is worse than before. Ukraine has not paid its old debt, only about a third of it, and Ukraine’s president promises another $200 million “soon”. Gazprom says, pay up the full amount (some $2.4 billion) or there will be no new contract for the coming year. No contract, no gas supplies.

Russia also warned Brussels of the coming crisis through an early warning mechanism set up after the 2006 imbroglio, so if Europeans choose to complain about any shortfalls to come, they know who they will have to talk to, and it’s not Russia. Ukraine is a transit country, and the amount of gas on its eastern border must equal the same on the western one.

So what are the possible scenarios as of this moment? As said, the situation is more critical than in 2006. Either due to the global crisis or, as Ukraine’s Premier Timoshenko insists President Yushchenko, in cahoots with the Central Bank chairman, playing dirty tricks with Ukrainian finances. The hrivna has lost half its value against the dollar since the start of the global turndown. So Ukraine does not have enough hrivnas to buy enough dollars to pay its debt to Gazprom.

This is point one. Point two is even more serious: if Ukraine has no funds to pay its old debt, what is it going to use for money to pay for gas in the coming year, especially considering that its price will rise more than twofold, from $179 to $400 per thousand cubic meters? Answer: steal the gas it needs to survive. Just like it has been doing all these years since independence – stealing gas and making billions for the “gas princess” Timoshenko and other members of the Ukrainian elite.

Then a further question suggests itself: Will Russia and its European partners stand for it?

Well, the Europeans could pretend that it’s a matter between Russia and Ukraine only, like they did in the past. It’s a very comfortable position: on the economic side, Russia is expected to supply gas as per contract, and we don’t care how you do it; on the political side, Russia can be accused of using its energy supplies as an instrument of political pressure.

So it all comes to this one point: Russia’s readiness or otherwise to stand firm and demand her money. The money is being taken away from Russians who are losing their jobs, more of them with every passing day. Russia needs the same things as all financially hard pressed countries, funds for people on the dole, public works, retraining programs, bailout programs for ailing companies – everyone knows the litany by now.

There is one more reason for Russia to stand firm, which Gazprom need not mention – because everyone in Russia is aware of it. There is a guy called Konovalyuk, in the Ukrainian parliament, who heads a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the conduct of Ukraine’s president, its defence minister, and similar characters before and during Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia. Some of the facts they have brought to light positively stink of aiding and abetting the aggressor. There’s the sale, for peanuts, of Ukrainian military hardware, including the most advanced types, to Saakashvili not only in preparation for the assault on Tskhinval but during the hostilities. More than that, Konovalyuk says he has lists of Ukrainian servicemen who fought against Russia during the conflict itself, and quite a few other extremely interesting documents.

In this context, supplying free gas to Ukraine would be too much like offering the left cheek after one has been hit the right. Highly moral, of course, but hardly the proper basis for sound business practice.

Limits to Japan’s nuclear aversion?


Japan’s natural aversion to nuclear weapons didn’t stop its then Prime Minister, Eisaku Sato, in 1965 from asking the U.S. to be prepared to launch a nuclear strike at communist China, if a major military conflict erupted.

Foreign Ministry archives, which have been declassified recently, reveal that Sato said to then Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, that Japan “expected the United States to retaliate immediately using nuclear weapons” if a war with China started.

The politician, who won Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 for his anti-nuclear campaign, was ready to allow the U.S. to use Japan’s territorial waters – but not its territory – for a possible strike. According to the papers, McNamara said the U.S. had the technical capability for a nuclear attack on China, but didn’t commit to carrying out one.

Commenting on the embarrassing remarks, Takeo Kawamura, the Chief Cabinet Secretary– a position considered number two in the Japanese Government – said there was no evidence that nuclear weapons were ever brought to Japan.

Eisaku Sato was the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister, leading the country from 1964 to 1972.

Japan is the only country to have ever suffered from a nuclear attack. More then 210,000 people were killed by American nuclear bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Source:Russia Today

воскресенье, 21 декабря 2008 г.

Russsia in photos (river Volga)

Слойка
«Слойка» на Яндекс.Фотках
Zheltovodsky Makaryev Convent

Волга
«Волга» на Яндекс.Фотках
Near Samara

Царский вид с Царёва кургана
«Царский вид с Царёва кургана» на Яндекс.Фотках
Near Samara. The Zhiguli Mountains are a range of wooded mountains located in Russia, on the right bank of the Volga River

Рассвет над Волгой у Зольного
«Рассвет над Волгой у Зольного» на Яндекс.Фотках
The sunrise

Саратовский мост.
«Саратовский мост.» на Яндекс.Фотках
The bridge between Saratov and Engel's.(2.8 km)


Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках
Yaroslavl'

Ancient treasure found near Kremlin


An archaeologist conducting excavations in the Kitai-gorod district of Moscow just outside the Kremlin has found an ancient treasure of rare coins, a glass bracelet, and a 12th century icon.

“The most significant finding for us was the treasure of eleven rare coins. For the first time in history the Moscow numismatists have found a solid monetary treasure. These are coins minted in Moscow dating from the times of Prince (Knyaz) Vasily Dmitrievich, the son of Dmitry Donskoy, to Vasily II [from 1371 to 1462]," Moscow’s head archaeologist Aleksandr Veksler said.

The archaeological works were carried out over an area of 350 square metres, and the extent of layers reached depths of up to six metres.

"We investigated about 40 buildings, first stone then wooden. We had to use special equipment and fittings, because we were facing difficult work conditions," Aleksandr Veksler added.

Kitai-gorod is a business district in the centre of Moscow, encircled by mostly-reconstructed medieval walls. It is separated from the Kremlin by Red Square.

The walls of red brick were erected in 1536-39 by an Italian architect known under the Russified name Petrok Maly and originally featured 13 towers and six gates. They were as thick as they were high, the average being six meters in both dimensions

Source:Russia Today

четверг, 18 декабря 2008 г.

Insurers to pay compensation to Israeli crash victims’ relatives


AFP Photo / Ruhama Biton

Relatives of the tourism business workers that were killed and injured in Israel's Tuesday road accident will get insurance payments as ordinary tourists from the company with which they had concluded agreement. That’s according to the Russian Union of Tourism press secretary, Irina Tyurina.

However, it is quite possible that they will not have to pay as Irina Tyurina explains:

"The Israeli parliament has already stated that it will pay for the medical treatment ensuring the best care for the injured and will also pay for the arrival and stay of the crash victims' relatives," Tyurina said.

Meanwhile, Russian planes carrying medical aid as well as psychologists and relatives of the victims have arrived in Israel, where a bus crashed Tuesday, killing 25 people and injuring dozens of others.

A bus taking a group of tour operators from St. Petersburg, who had arrived to the country on a fact-finding business trip, slid into a 60-metre-deep ravine off road 60 near the resort city of Eilat in the south of Israel.

According to Israeli Interior officials, the accident, that claimed lives of 25 people and left 24 injured, was caused by the driver who decided to overtake another bus.

The first ambulance is reported to have arrived at the scene of the accident in less than 10 minutes. The Israeli authorities also sent helicopters and many doctors even rushed from private surgeries to treat the survivors.

Those injured are currently undergoing treatment at hospitals in five Israeli cities.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin have offered condolences to the families of the victims. In a phone conversation Israeli President Shimon Peres informed his Russian counterpart about the help being provided to the injured. Peres instructed Israeli emergency services to cooperate closely with the Russian side.

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has also expressed deep condolences in connection with the accident. According to her press service she contacted by phone St. Petersburg’s governor Valentina Matvienko and promised any help needed.

The spokesperson of the Israeli embassy to Russia, Alex Goldman-Shaiman, described the accident as one of the worst road crashes in Israeli history and says all possible reasons for it will be investigated, including driver error, technical problems and road defects.

Two information hotlines for relatives of the crash victims have been set-up:

Russian Embassy hotline: +9723-522-6744, +9723-5226736.
Israeli Ministry of Tourism hotline: +972-2-666-43-58

Deadly record in other countries

Egypt, Turkey and Thailand are popular destinations among tourists, Russians included. But it’s not rare that the perfect get-a-way turns into a nightmare.

Poor road conditions, overworked drivers and a lack of safety regulations, as well as other factors, have led to frequent road crashes in these countries.

Egypt has seen some of the worst accidents involving tourists. This year alone there have been at least nine crashes with multiple deaths. The most recent was in October, when six Belgians were killed en route from the southern city of Aswan to the ancient temple of Abu Simbel. 26 others were injured in the incident. At the time, speeding was blamed for the tragedy.

Turkey has also gained a bad reputation. In November, four tourists died and 25 were injured when their bus crashed on the way to Georgia.

In Thailand road fatality rate are also high. The country's accident research group says 13,000 people die in road crashes each year - that's approximately two people every hour. The government says 336 people died in traffic accidents last New Year in just four days.

Source: Russia Today

The pirates’ Prima Donna


An American businesswoman with connections to U.S. intelligence and the military has become a modern day Lawrence of Arabia. Conducting talks with the Somali pirates has made Michele Lynn Ballarin somewhat of an international woman of mystery.

It has emerged on December 17 that it was, in fact, Michele Lynn Ballarin who was the third party entity conducting talks with the pirates who captured several ships off the coast of Somalia.
Amongst them is the Ukrainian vessel Faina, which is carrying a cargo of tanks.


Again, just like in late November, the pirates have halted all talks with official channels of negotiation and proceeded to communicate with Ballarin directly via satellite phone. Previously, this had become an issue of major concern for executive negotiators.

A senior government official had told ABC News: "It's pretty sad when a horse country socialite has more sway in Somalia than the whole U.S. government."

On the international arena, the Virginian businesswoman claims that her interests lie with the freedom and independence of the Somali people. At least, this is what the official press statements made by Ballarin and her subordinates point to.

When her negotiations with the pirates first began on the 24th of November, she insisted that she was determined not only to free the two ships that she was in communication with, but also to bring piracy around the coasts of Somalia to a halt altogether.

To help encourage Somali residents to patrol their own waters and discourage locals from turning to piracy, Ballarin hatched a plan to recruit 500 men and women to serve as Somali coast guards. They would operate out of the country’s major port of Berbera.

To fund it, she conducted talks with international aid agencies and encouraged members of the various governments running Somalia to tax the country's vibrant currency exchanges and some of its companies. Nevertheless, the plan is complicated by the fact that Berbera itself is actually located in Somaliland, a self-proclaimed break-away entity, renowned for extreme and uncontrolled disorders which have taken many lives.

As reported by the businesswoman herself and her colleagues, her goal is a noble one: to turn Somalia from a failing state into a functioning one, suitable for investment. She has constructed an intricate network of clan and sub-clan leaders in every region of the country over the five years she has been involved in the country. These connections have helped her to exert unprecedented pressure in the region.

The pirate Ballarin-a

Ballarin runs a small Virginia-based company – Select Armor – that designs and makes body armor, and provides executive protection to wealthy individuals. She has a long history of involvement in Somalia, including allegations by a respected publication – “Africa Confidential” - that she was helping plan military operations there in 2006.

Reportedly, Ballarin is known as “Amira” in Somalia, which translates from Arabic as “princess”. And, according to local reports, she is treated like one as well. The captured Faina's captain helped the pirates drop a sign over the ship's side with the word "Amira" written on it. The crew of the Sirius draped a similar sign over the side of their ship. This could potentially suggest that the pirate crews may be seeking help from their benefactor.

There have been several suggestions which attempt to explain the “pirate princess’” interest in the Horn of Africa area. One of them is described as an elaborate attempt to completely subdue the area in order to expand her security business. In a state of inter-governmental havoc, various authorities would seek private assistance, in which Ballarin would be a leading market player.

In 2006, it emerged, via the Observer newspaper and the newsletter Africa Confidential, that a couple of U.S. based private military companies – Select Armor and ATS Tactical – were planning an intervention in Somalia. The reports quoted Ballarin as claiming to have had meetings in Virginia with intelligence agencies. Documents that came to light involved Select Armor trying to persuade the Ugandan government to use their “end user certificates” to circumvent a UN arms embargo on Somalia.

link

Ex-opposition leader approved governor of Russia's Kirov Region


NIZHNY NOVGOROD, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - Legislators in the Kirov Region in northeast European Russia approved Nikita Belykh, the ex-leader of a Russian opposition party, as governor on Thursday.

Belykh, 33, nominated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier in December, received the backing of lawmakers in a 45-4 vote with three abstentions.

Belykh was leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) opposition party from May 2005 through September 2008.

The SPS was dissolved on November 15 and Belykh was expected to co-found a new democratic party tentatively dubbed Solidarity set up to protect the country's Constitution in response to Medvedev's proposal extending presidential and parliamentary terms.

A number of opposition activists, including former world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, leader of the United Civil Front, are involved.

After the disbandment of the SPS the Democratic and Civic Force parties announced they were forming a new pro-Kremlin party, The Right Cause.

Following the Kirov governor nomination, Belykh, however, pulled out of the new "Solidarity" party.

The new governor will be inaugurated on January 14, 2009, when current governor Nikolai Shaklein's term of office expires. Belykh pledged to knock up a "professional" team after his inauguration to work in the regional government.

понедельник, 15 декабря 2008 г.

Russia to launch solar probe in January


MOSCOW, December 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will launch on January 29 a scientific satellite to study the Sun's interaction with the Earth, the federal space agency said on Monday.

The Coronas-Photon satellite, designed to study solar and global warming processes, was delivered on Monday to the Plesetsk space center in Russia's Arkhangelsk region, from where it will be launched.

A probe designer said 80% of its components and instruments were Russian-made, while the rest were contributed by various countries including Ukraine and India.

The satellite is the third of three to study the Sun from near-Earth orbit under Russia's Coronas program. Coronas-I and Coronas-F were launched in 1994 and 2001, respectively.

The Coronas program is part of Russia's Federal Space Research Program, while the Coronas-Photon project is part of the Living with a Star (LWS) international space research program.

LWS experiments aim to increase understanding of solar variability and its effects to improve predictions of space weather, which can harm spacecraft and astronauts in orbit and cause problems with radio transmissions and electric power grids on Earth.

Russian government to spend extra $5.4 bln on real economy


MOSCOW, December 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government plans to spend an extra 150 billion rubles ($5.4 billion) to prop up the real sector of the economy amid the global financial crisis, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Monday.

Together with the earlier approved 175 billion ruble ($6.3 billion) rescue package, support for the real economy will total 325 billion rubles ($11.7 billion), Kudrin told a government meeting.

He stressed that Russia's economy had not yet slipped into recession, "There is no recession in Russia yet."

Kudrin also said that the Russian government had forecast GDP growth of up to 3% in 2009.

Planned price rises for natural monopolies will be at least 10-15% lower than planned in 2009, Kudrin said.

"Growth in tariffs will be conceivably adjusted downward, at least by 10-15% from the planned level," Kudrin said.

Initially the adjustment will affect rail transport, household gas and electricity rates, Kudrin said.

четверг, 11 декабря 2008 г.

Serbia to sign 3 energy deals during president's visit to Moscow


BELGRADE, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - A Serbian delegation led by President Boris Tadic will arrive in Moscow next week to sign three oil and gas deals with Russian energy giant Gazprom, a Russian diplomatic source said on Thursday.

A preliminary agreement was signed in Moscow on January 25 that includes the acquisition by Gazprom's oil arm Gazprom Neft of a 51% stake in state-owned Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) for $400 million, Gazprom's $500 million investment in a gas storage facility in Serbia, and the construction of the Serbian segment of the South Stream pipeline.

"The Serbian delegation will be in the Russian capital on December 17. It will be led by President Tadic," the source in Belgrade said. Tadic's visit will come a week after his last trip to Moscow, for the funeral of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II on December 9.

On December 5, during talks with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller in Belgrade, the Serbian president confirmed the agreements would be signed by the end of the year.

Under the South Stream project, a 400-km (248 mile) leg will be built in Serbia for Russian natural gas supplies to and via the Balkans.

NIS produces around 1 million metric tons (7.3 million barrels) of crude annually, refines 7 million metric tons (51 million barrels), and has Serbia's largest network of filling stations.

Gazprom Neft, known as Sibneft before it was taken over by Gazprom in September 2005, produced 32.7 million metric tons (240 million barrels) of crude and posted a US GAAP net income of $4.14 billion in 2007.

Georgian Patriarch Ilia II urges Russia, Georgia to take efforts to lift tension in relations

Moscow, December 11, Interfax - Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II believes in normalization of Georgian-Russian relations and invites Russians to visit Georgia.

"Good feelings and brotherly relations that have formed between Russia and Georgia for centuries remain. In Georgia, Russians feel the same as Georgians, they have been using all conditions," he said at the meeting with the Union of Georgians in Russia on Wednesday evening in Moscow.

During the crisis in the Caucasus, many believers asked Ilia if they should leave Georgia, he said. "I asked them to stay because all this would pass," he said.

"The political tension existing between Russia and Georgia is unnatural for us and it is necessary to do everything possible so that this should go into the past. And I hope that it will be like that," he said.

"It is necessary to restore good relations existing between us," he said.

Ilia II said he came to Russia because of the death of Alexy II they had been friends for many years. Thus the Georgian Church commiserates with the Russian Orthodox Church and all Russian people, he said.

среда, 10 декабря 2008 г.

People, officials,clerics paid last respects for Patriarch Alexy II

Photos: Vladimir Eshtokin (special correspondent of orthodox magazine "Foma")























Two icons start giving myrrh on the eve of Alexy II’s death in a Sverdlovsk church

Moscow, December 10, Interfax – On the eve of Patriarch Alexy II’s death, two icons started giving myrrh in the village of Ustyanchi, the Sverdlovsk Region.

Icons of St. Alexis, the Man of God, and the Nativity of Christ started “weeping” during the mourning prayer.

“We saw a tear - the icon was glittering. We looked more attentively and saw small drops - here where the stars are depicted and where the blessing hand of God is extended from heaven, the drops are very small at the stars and there are drops from the blessing hand,” Fr. Alexy Medvedev said.

It is noteworthy that these icons are not painted, but just printed copies, the TVC reports.

“It is double witness. If myrrh were coming from icons painted by monks, who observe certain canons, fast, we could have said something, but here the icons are modern, they are just laminated lithograph - you see, it’s very simple, nothing special,” Fr. Konstantin said.

Icons are still giving myrrh. The two small images will soon find their new place in iconostasis: they will get frameworks and be placed among venerated old icons.

New Russian Patriarch will be elected on January 27-29

Moscow, December 10, Interfax - The Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church will be convened on January 27-29, Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill told the press after a meeting of the Holy Synod on Wednesday.

"The Divine Liturgy will be conducted in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on January 25 after which the first session of the Bishops' Council will be held which in line with the charter of the Russian Orthodox Church precedes the Local Council," he said.

New Patriarch's enthronement set for February 1

Moscow, December 10, Interfax - The enthronement of the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia will take place on February 1, 2009, patriarchal locum tenens Metropolitan Kirill said after the Synod meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.

Preparations for the enthronement of the new Patriarch, who will be elected by on January 27-29, will be done on January 30-31, he said.

The enthronement of the new Patriarch is expected to be held in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Metropolitan Kirill said

Georgy Sviridov's sacred music

вторник, 9 декабря 2008 г.

'Pearl among churches' is Aleksy’s final resting place



The late Russian Patriarch described it as a 'pearl among Moscow’s churches'. Now the Epiphany Cathedral is to be Aleksy II’s final resting place. The church has an important place in the history of Orthodoxy.

It was designated 'Patriarchal Cathedral' – the main church of the faith - at the peak of state-sponsored atheism during the Soviet era.

In June 1941 a special service was held in the church to bless the Russian people in the face of Hitler’s invading army.

Aleksy II was installed as Church head there in 1990, and 18 years later he is to be buried in the place that played such a special role in his life. He’ll be laid to rest in the Annunciation, a side chapel of the Epiphany Cathedral.

The Epiphany Cathedral is steeped in the history and traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is believed that one of Moscow’s most famous saints, Saint Basil, was born on the site of the church in Elokhovo in the north-east of the city. St Basil's has also become the nickname of another famous church – the iconic cathedral in Red Square familiar to millions of people around the world.

The Epiphany Cathedral in Elokhovo is first mentioned in church records back in 1698.

Between 1712 and 1731 the old wooden church was rebuilt in stone, apparently after orders from Tsar Peter the Great.

World-famous Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin was baptised there in 1799.

Between 1830 and 1853, Epiphany was rebuilt in a late Classical style. The majestic church of today is crowned with five domes – the central one reminiscent of that crowning St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

All the original bells have survived except the biggest. It was replaced by one cast in 1900.

In 1991, the Epiphany lost its status as Russia’s Patriarchal Cathedral. That honour was given to the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral. However, the Epiphany was named Moscow’s Metropolitan Cathedral.

Its main spiritual treasure is a ‘miracle-working’ icon of the Virgin Mary of Kazan - one of the most revered icons for the Russian Orthodox people.

The icon was used to bless Russian troops in 1612 before a major battle which eventually led to the accession of the Romanov dynasty to the Russian throne.

Another highly venerated treasure in Epiphany is the relic of St Aleksy the Metropolitan, who was Aleksy II's patron saint.


Source:Russia Today

понедельник, 8 декабря 2008 г.

Memory Eternal

Rebuilding Relationship in a Multipolar World


Aurobinda MAHAPATRA (India)

That India-Russia relations continue seamless despite tremendous changes in international equations is itself a fact for celebration for leadership of both the countries. Despite the much churning both the countries are able to wade through the difficult phases of globalisation, financial crises, challenges posed by diverse constellations of forces and emerging post-cold war threats such as terrorism, and to sustain the relations on an even keel. The Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev’s India visit on 4th and 5th of December 2008 rightly reflected that the bilateral relations have come of the age and both the countries are contending with the imperatives of the emerging world order.

In international relations overwhelming changes seldom happen overnight. It is only through hard diplomacy and calculus of strength and weakness to foster national interest the relations between countries are governed. The mighty Soviet Union that had elapsed from its super power zenith to initial post-Soviet trauma in the early 1990s witnessed the late Russian resurgence with consequent foreign policy projections. Hence, while the early Yeltsin years were characterised by its fragility, the Putin years witnessed sharp rise in Russia’s strength. In a multipolar world where it is economic diplomacy that plays a dominant role and where nations cling to alliances which promote their national interests sans ideology, India-Russia relations have proved to be resilient enough to adjust with the new realities. However, it would be naïve not to recognise the weaknesses and complexities involved in the relations.

The asymmetrical match of the political with the economic relations has marred comprehensive growth of Indo-Russian relations. Using the biological parallelism, there is a surfeit in good political relations with malnutrition in economic content. The slow economic relations too has been characterised by rupee-reactor syndrome, in which most of the bilateral trade is confined to arms sector. Even in this stratum, relations have not been much palatable as the recent controversies surrounding Admiral Gorshkov and some other deals indicate. Probably this laggardness in relations goaded President Medvedev along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speed up the process of resolution of these contentious issues. Both the countries have pledged to resolve the aircraft carrier issue within three months and directed their officials to work in this direction. Hence, when the scholars characterise the past decade of relations ‘lost decade,’ it gives vent to the frustration for the lost opportunities and at the same time it provide the urgency to carry forward the relations in a substantive way.

The seriousness of Dmitry Medvedev in doing business with India is vindicated by his resolve to visit New Delhi despite the terror attack in Mumbai in the last week of November 2008. The president minced no words in condemning the barbaric act and offered Russian support in ongoing investigations to bring the culprits to justice. The joint declaration issued on 5 December 2008 exhorted “all states to cooperate actively with and provide support and assistance to the Indian authorities” in investigations. Russia’s choice of words in not calling Pakistan by name as in the past occasions of terror activities in India can be seen in the context of its broadening strategy of keeping in loop the major Muslim country in South Asia. Russia has sought membership of Organisation of Islamic Conference, in which it currently enjoys observer status. Russian concerns about the Islam issue cannot be ignored as it has substantial Muslim population in its territory. Probably, the same logic of accommodating diverse interests and aspirations well explains India’s motivation to seek beneficial relationship with diverse countries including the US. However, the Russian diplomacy has shown enough resilience in supporting India’s bid to secure approval of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group in September 2008. India would hardly afford to forget Russian supply of nuclear fuel to Tarapore nuclear plant when it went fuel shortage in 2006. It is a well-known fact that 70 percent of Indian arms belong to Soviet/Russian origin. Hence, it is rather the appreciation of changing context of international relations that motivated both the countries to cooperate with each other as well as diversify relations in a meaningful way.

The recent visit of Russian president to India proved opportune in many ways. Both the countries signed ten agreements in diverse areas. One of the crucial areas can be seen in the field of nuclear cooperation, in which Russia has enough potential. It is in the process of building four additional nuclear reactors in Kudankulam in India. Another agreement worth $1.2 billion was signed for 80 MI-17V-5 helicopters to be supplied by Russia. The agreement on space flight would likely enhance the space cooperation between the two countries. It is the Soviet space station in Baikanour that had launched the Indian cosmonaut in 1983. For the first time, an agreement was signed for a joint action programme for cooperation in the tourism sector for the period 2009-10. The two countries also deliberated on a host of global issues including the global financial crisis, the Iranian issue, trilateral cooperation between India, Russia and China, and reform of international institutions. Medvedev had to return on 5th evening due to the demise of Russian Patriarch Alexy II at the age of 79.

The storehouse of past good will with rich political and economic contents coupled with increasing recognition of changing world order would prevent any kind drastic sliding down in India-Russian relations. Both the countries may drift in different directions in an emerging multipolar world, which is still in the making, but there would always be mutual recognition of the importance of each other. The emerging imperatives of the world order would provide enough space to both the countries to enhance bilateral cooperation. The collective will to activate the existing and new mechanisms such as Inter-Governmental Commission, the Joint Task Force, the India-Russia Trade and Investment Forum, and the India- Russia CEOs Council to increase bilateral trade to $10billion by 2010 is a positive indication in this regard. The year 2009 is going to be Indian year in Russia, which would likely witness further strengthening of bilateral relations in a multidimensional framework.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Orthodox leaders arrive for funeral of Aleksy II

‘Cities of Military Glory’ to be honoured for WWII efforts


Three Russian towns have been presented with honourary titles for their citizens’ courage during World War Two. Dmitrov, Velikiy Novgorod and Velikiye Luki will get special diplomas from President Medvedev at a ceremony in the Kremlin.

They join a select band of cities chosen last year. The award is similar to the ‘Hero Cities’ honour given out in the Soviet era, although no city is on both lists.

The town of Dmitrov is where Soviet troops stopped Germans from reaching the capital in 1941, the year that Nazis attacked the Soviet Union.

The skyline of the town of Dmitrov is dominated by some of Russia's most beautiful cathedrals and monasteries. And there is little in its day-to-day life to remind the visitor of its bloody past.

Yet in 1941 it was the site of one of the key battles of the war. The Germans were less than 70 kilometres from their ultimate target, Moscow. The Russians would not give it up at any cost.

With heavy losses on both sides, Hitler's armies were stopped, and Moscow was never taken. And although there are few left, those who witnessed the war first hand still can be found in Dmitrov.

One of them, veteran pilot Boris Shugaev, shot down six planes during the massive battle for air supremacy that happened there back in 1941. For him memories are vivid.

“Every time you were on a mission, your whole body would feel the fear,” Shugaev recalls. “But you had to stop it, and just to think about how to outwit your opponent. Those who didn't, didn't last long.”

Now aged 90, he considers himself lucky.

“Not everybody has an easy life now. But I feel OK,” Shugaev says. “The thing with me is that I still have my health.”

Lavish public commemorations of the war are frequent in Russia, underlining the continuing importance it plays in how the country sees itself.

But veterans there fear their efforts may be forgotten. They say the message needs to be passed on.

Dmitrov War Veterans Committee chairman Evgeny Rybakov spends his time recounting his experiences at classrooms.

Although war veterans are entitled to various financial privileges, he says this isn't enough.

“I believe the country’s authorities do not pay attention to us,” Rybakov says. “The parliament needs to pass legislation to give greater and equal social provisions for all those who played their part in the war effort.”

‘City of Military Glory’ is an honorary title given to Russian cities where soldiers have displayed outstanding courage and heroism during the Second World War. The list includes:

1. Belgorod (a city in western Russia, 40 km north of the Ukrainian border)
2. Kursk (a city in the western part of central Russia, about 520 km from Moscow)
3. Oryol (a city in central Russia, about 360 km south-west of Moscow)
4. Vladikavkaz (the capital city of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia- Alania)
5. Malgobek (a town in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia)
6. Rzhev (a town situated on the Volga River, in western Russia)
7. El’nya (a town in the western part of central Russia, 360 km from Moscow)
8. Elets (a city in central Russia, about 390 km south of Moscow)
9. Voronezh (a city in southwestern Russia, not far from Ukraine)
10. Luga (a town 140 km south of St Petersburg - Russia’s ‘northern capital’)
11. Polyarny (a closed town in Kola Peninsula, in the far north of Russia. Polyarny is the first sea port awarded the ‘City of Military Glory’ title)
12. Rostov-on-Don (Russia's biggest southern city, about 1060 km from Moscow)
13. Tuapse (a resort city on the Black Sea coast, near Sochi in Russia’s southern Krasnodar Region)
14. Velikiye Luki (a city in northwestern Russia, about 530 km from Moscow)
15. Velikiy Novgorod (the foremost historic city of northwestern Russia, about 500 km from Moscow)
16. Dmitrov (a town in the Moscow Region, 65 km north of the Russian capital)

There are 13 ‘Hero Cities’, including seven in Russia: Moscow, St Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), Novorossiysk, Tula, Murmansk and Smolensk. The other six are in other parts of the former Soviet Union: Kiev, Odessa, Kerch and Sevastopol in Ukraine, and Minsk and Brest Fortress in Belarus.

Source:Russia Today

воскресенье, 7 декабря 2008 г.

The Most Sensible of Mavericks


We realized, of course, that he was not immortal, and over the last few years we were dreading the day, with much anxiety, when he would leave us... That day has arrived. Just a few months shy of his 80th birthday, Patriarch Alexy II has died. It seems almost impossible to believe. After all, it was Alexy himself who has been with us for these past 18 years, when Russia made a dramatic turnaround as the Russian Orthodox Church has been rescued from oblivion.

Just four days ago, while finishing his regular course of treatment in Germany, Patriarch Alexy celebrated the liturgy in the Munich cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) for the first time, having personally inscribed that unity, which was obtained one and a half years ago - before that, no head of the Russian Church ever served in the churches of the ROCOR. And just yesterday, on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary into the Temple, he celebrated in the Kremlin, in the Dormition (Uspensky) Cathedral, while on the eve of his death, Alexy prayed at the relics of his great predecessor, Saint Patriarch Tikhon. Such reports from the Church's newsreel were altogether everyday items. But was it really possible even to think of something similar, when the almost disgraced metropolitan, who was only several years earlier banished from his post of Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate to Leningrad for his audacity in writing to the Central Committee of the Communist Party with the offer for wider participation of the Church in societal affairs, was elected on June the 7, 1990, as the head of the Russian Church?

A Russian nobleman, a European by origin and birth - some appreciable figure in society with a non-Soviet upbringing - Alexey Riediger was ten years old when the Soviet Union arrived in his native Estonia - but with a large experience of service as a bishop already in the Soviet conditions, the Patriarch in the last ten years actually proved to be the main link between everything torn apart by revolutions and wars in Russia’s thousand year old tradition. Perhaps that is why he felt the horror of civil war so sharply and opposed it - both in prayer and in action - both in 1991 and in 1993.

Maybe that is why in dealing with the management of the Church, Alexy acted as the unifier and the peacemaker to the bone, even when many around him implored him not to measure off, but to sever ties instead. The preservation of the unity of the Church was for him the central and utmost priority for the whole period of his service as patriarch - it was, after all, a time when everyone around him fomented each other. Looking back today at the 18 years of his patriarchate, what moderate observer can say that the unity of the Moscow Patriarchate in the post-Soviet era, the preservation of the Russian Church as a mystical, of course, yet earthly bond divided by borders and ideologies of the people has been predetermined? But to be exact it was under his direction that it became reality – against all odds!

In addition, within the Church, where the pressure between ultra-conservatives and the liberals reached a point of intolerability, Alexy cautiously led the Church along a path to tranquil openness to the world, which went against many of the “zealots.” Perhaps this was the case because unlike the overwhelming majority of us who have become members of the Church in the last ten years or so, and have devised our own lost tradition anew, Alexy was the person of the living and natural tradition which was not lost.

In conditions when church-state relations were built from scratch and the state lacked a clear-cut vision of its system, when an age-old inertia perennially drove the Church into nationalization, Alexy did not cease in repeating his own formula: the Church, separated from the state, but not separated from society.

During the period when tactical scheming and maneuvering all around us seemingly won the day, and the cascade of events forced us merely to react to them, Alexy was thinking decades ahead. Some years ago the editor in chief of the “Orthodox Encyclopedia” Sergei Kravets told me in an interview that everyone had been saying to the Patriarch, “We have no intellectual authorities to publish a multi-volume encyclopedia, let’s make a three-volume dictionary - it will be both more realistic and more useful.” But the Patriarch replied, “No, we must do an encyclopedia, so that in 25 years’ time an authentic, intellectual core of the Church will emerge amongst us around this work.”

Standing at the height of responsibility of his service, when each and every word of his was interpreted by this and that side, Alexy rarely had the occasion to appear to society in an informal manner. Such moments, when all of a sudden he abruptly broke the style of dialogue, are the more precious ones. For example, when parishioners of one of the churches in Moscow gave him a canary as a gift, he then sent an official letter to the dean of the church. The letter had the official letterhead, with the title and the other standard, grandiloquent hallmarks written on the paper, but followed with an additional note, “Tell the children that the canary is coping well and is now singing.”

Alexy had a tremendous memory for people and for faces; he remembered some person he had once seen years later, and used to ask about him. And when he spoke with you, he really did speak with you - personally, and not indifferently. And all the while, there were thousands, hundreds of thousands who made their way before him.

Once it so happened that on the last Sunday before Lent, when in the evening-time, a very intimate Rite of Forgiveness is performed, a time when all the faithful make every effort to be at their own parishes, I found myself at the Christ the Savior Cathedral by necessity - as a professional journalist. Judging from the reactions of the majority of those present at the service, one could easily figure out that almost all of the congregation were not regular church goers, but visitors. It was a fine day; many people were strolling in the Moscow city center and just dropped in to the church. His Holines also understood what was going on; and so, his sermon was simple, as clear as day - the most basic elements of the faith. Having knelt down and asked everyone for forgiveness, Alexy spoke, “And now approach and I shall bless you for Lent.” And then hundreds, perhaps even thousands of mainly non-practicing and occasional practitioners of the faith stretched out in a line leading up to the Patriarch, asking him for a blessing. After some time one priest and then another one came up to the tired patriarch, suggesting to stand in for him (this was Alexy’s second service of the day). But Alexy refused to leave his place in the middle of the cathedral. After probably half an hour had passed, I got bored and decided to leave. But all the while the Patriarch stood there, giving his blessing to one person after another, to people who had hardly crossed the threshold of the church and won’t necessarily remain there.

You will be deeply missed, Your Holiness!



Andrei Zolotov, Jr. is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and the Founding Editor of Russia Profile.

Source:Russia Profile.org

The date of Alexy II decease symbolic

Moscow, December 6, Interfax – Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia died on the eve of the Day of St. Alexander Nevsky while certain important milestones in his biography were connected with this saint, Interfax-Religion reports.

Thus, the first responsible task given to a 16-year old Hipodeacon Alexy in 1945 was to prepare Tallinn Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky to an opening ceremony.

Archimandrite Alexy was consecrated to Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia in this cathedral sixteen years later in 1961. Then Bishop Alexy (future Patriarch) didn't let Soviet authorities close St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Many years later, Alexy II insisted on bringing back relics of St. Alexander Nevsky from the Museum of Religion to St. Alexander Nevsky Laura and it became a very important event for the whole Church.

The Union of Orthodox Citizens noted that Alexander Nevsky left his mark in the history as a "man who struggled for kneeled down Russia, fought for Orthodoxy and won a victory as he didn't allow dividing the country and the Church."

"Thus, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy didn't allow dividing the Russian Orthodox Church," Head of the Union Moscow division Kirill Frolov said.

Saying that Alexy II passed away next day after the feast of the Presentation of the Holy Virgin into the Temple, he stressed that "the whole epoch of Patriarch Alexy was presentation of Russia into the Church, and today we can say that our Primate has brilliantly fulfilled the main task of his life."

Metropolitan Kirill elected interim head of Russian Church


Moscow, December 6, Interfax - Kirill, the Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, was elected on Saturday as the interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Alexy II died on Friday.

Kirill, 62, was elected at an urgent meeting of the Holy Synod at the countryside patriarchal residence in Peredelkino outside Moscow, the External Church Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate told the Interfax-Religion.

The metropolitan will remain locum tenens up until the election of the new Patriarch that cannot be called earlier than in six months' time.

Metropolitan Kirill (secular name Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev) was born in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) on 20 November 1946 into the family of a priest.

After graduation from the secondary school he entered the Leningrad Theological Seminary in 1965 and then the Leningrad Theological Academy, which he finished in 1970.

Tonsured by Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod with monastic name of Kirill on 3 April 1969, ordained hierodeacon on April 7 and hieromonk on June 1 that same year.

1970-71 - lecturer of dogmatic theology, assistant inspector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary, private secretary of Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod and form-master of the 1st class of the Seminary.

Elevated to the rank of Archimandrite on 12 September 1971.

1971-74 - representative of the Moscow Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva.

26 December 1974 to 26 December 1984 - Rector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary.

Consecrated Bishop of Vyborg on 14 March 1976 and elevated to the rank of Archbishop on 2 September 1977.

Appointed Bishop of Smolensk and Vyazma on 26 December 1984 and Administrator of the parishes in the Kaliningrad diocese in 1986.

1988 to the present day - Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.

13 November 1989 to the present day - chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (DECR MP) and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

25 February 1991 - elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.

At present Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad is Permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church from 1989; Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate from 1989; Honorary President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace from 1994; Member of the Presidium of the Interreligious Council of Russia from 1998.

суббота, 6 декабря 2008 г.

Russian Orthodox Church Council to elect Patriarch within six months


In accordance with the Rule of the Russian Orthodox Church, there will be an emergency meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops, at which a Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne will be elected. The Locum Tenens will govern the Russian Church until a new Patriarch is elected, and will head the Funeral Commission.

The Holy Synod meeting will be hosted by the oldest member, Fr. Vladimir said. "Our elder is Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga," he said.

At the same time, the Moscow bishopric, in line with the church's charter, will be governed by Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, he said.

Taking part in the Holy Synod's meeting are seven of its permanent members, i.e. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine, Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Metropolitan Vladimir of Chisinau and All Moldova, and Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk.

One of these archbishops will be elected a locum tenens to govern the Russian Orthodox Church until a new Patriarch is elected.

The time for His Holiness, Patriarch Alexei’s funeral service will also be determined at the meeting of the Holy Synod.

In accordance with the Rule, the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia must be chosen at a Local Ecclesiastical Council during the course of one-half of a year following the repose of his predecessor, which shall be in this case no later than May, 2009.


Public farewell ceremony for Patriarch Alexy II to start Saturday evening

A public farewell ceremony for the deceased Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia will start at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on Saturday evening.

"Before the evening service, the patriarch's body will be transported to the main church of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and all those wishing will have the chance to bid farewell to the deceased Patriarch following the service," patriarchy spokesman Mikhail Moiseyev told Interfax.

Access to the Patriarch's body will be free round-the clock, Moiseyev said. The Gospel will be read and mourning services served at the church during the ceremony.

Patriarch Alexy II to be buried at Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow

Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia will be buried on the grounds of the Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow on Tuesday, December 9, Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, said in a television program on Saturday.

Alexy II himself wished to be buried at the Epiphany Cathedral, where he had conducted services for years and where the relics of St. Alexy, the deceased patriarch's patron saint, are stored, he said.

One of Alexy II's predecessors, Patriarch Sergius I of Moscow and All Russia, is also buried at the Epiphany Cathedral, Metropolitan Kirill said.


Source:Pravoslavie.ru
Source:Interfax-Religion
Photos :Vesti.ru

пятница, 5 декабря 2008 г.

Russian Orthodox Church leader Alexy II dies


MOSCOW, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Patriarch Alexy II, who led the Russian Orthodox Church for 18 years, died at the age of 79 in his residency near the Russian capital on Friday morning, the Moscow Patriarchy said.

A senior church official said heart failure was believed to be the cause of death. The patriarch was known to have suffered from health problems in recent years.

Alexy II became patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, now the world's largest, in 1990, shortly before the collapse of the atheist Soviet Union, and presided over a religious revival in Russia, with thousands of churches and monasteries being restored and hundreds of new ones built across the country.

Under his leadership, Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family shot by the Bolsheviks in 1918, were canonized as well as many New Martyrs who suffered under communism.

Alexy II openly objected to then Pope John Paul II's visit to Russia, accusing the Catholic Church of attempts to poach converts in Russia and neighboring Ukraine.

In 2007, he signed a reunification act with Metropolitan Laurus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), after almost 90 years of separation. The foreign branch broke away in 1921, after accusing fellow clergymen in Soviet Russia of collaboration with the country's communist regime.

Alexy II voiced his open support for fellow Orthodox Serbs during the Kosovo conflict and called the declaration of independence by the Albanian province "an anti-historic event."

Alexy II also sought closer contacts with political leaders. The country's leadership, including Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, attended church ceremonies led by the patriarch in Moscow's main cathedral.

Following news of the death, President Medvedev postponed a visit to Italy, due to have started on Saturday, and will return to Moscow from India later on Friday, the Kremlin said.

"The rise of the Russian Orthodox Church, the real establishment of the principles of freedom of conscience and faith are directly connected with him and his name," the Kremlin quoted Medvedev as saying.

Speaking in Armenia, Prime Minister Putin said: "He was a fair man, his death is an enormous loss, a tragic event."

In a statement on the patriarch's death, the Vatican said Alexy II had led the Russian church at a time of great change, and his leadership had helped the church withstand the hardships of post-Soviet transition.

Alexy II suffered a severe stroke in 2002. In April 2007, media reports said he was in a Swiss clinic in a serious condition or even dead. Church officials then confirmed the patriarch had undergone medical treatment in Switzerland, but denied the condition was serious.

On Thursday evening, Alexy II held a church service in one of Moscow's central cathedrals to mark a major religious holiday.

The church's ruling body, the Holy Synod, is due to gather for an urgent meeting in Moscow on Saturday to pick an acting leader and make arrangements for the funeral, Bishop Mark, deputy head of the patriarchy's foreign relations department said.

The patriarch, Alexei Rediger, was born on February 23, 1929, in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, into the family of a Russian Orthodox priest of German descent. He became a priest in 1950.

link

четверг, 4 декабря 2008 г.

The Obama Bummer

Vote First, Ask Questions Later
By WILLIAM BLUM

Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way. It was historic. I choked up a number of times, tears came to my eyes, even though I didn't vote for him. I voted for Ralph Nader for the fourth time in a row.

During the past eight years when I've listened to news programs on the radio each day I've made sure to be within a few feet of the radio so I could quickly change the station when that preposterous man or one of his disciples came on; I'm not a masochist, I suffer fools very poorly, and I get bored easily. Sad to say, I'm already turning the radio off sometimes when Obama comes on. He doesn't say anything, or not enough, or not often enough. Platitudes, clichés, promises without substance, "hope and change", almost everything without sufficient substance, "change and hope", without specifics, designed not to offend. What exactly are the man's principles? He never questions the premises of the empire. Never questions the premises of the "War on Terror". I'm glad he won for two reasons only: John McCain and Sarah Palin, and I deeply resent the fact that the American system forces me to squeeze out a drop of pleasure from something so far removed from my ideals. Obama's votes came at least as much from people desperate for relief from neo-conservative suffocation as from people who genuinely believed in him. It's a form of extortion – Vote for Obama or you get more of the same. Those are your only choices.

Is there reason to be happy that the insufferably religious George W. is soon to be history? "I believe that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis." That was said by someone named Barack Obama. The United States turns out religious fanatics like the Japanese turn out cars. Let's pray for an end to this.

If you're one of those who would like to believe that Obama has to present center-right foreign policy views to be elected, but once he's in the White House we can forget that he misled us repeatedly and the true, progressive man of peace and international law and human rights will emerge ... keep in mind that as a US Senate candidate in 2004 he threatened missile strikes against Iran, and winning that election apparently did not put him in touch with his inner peacenik. He's been threatening Iran ever since.

The world is in terrible shape. I don't think I have to elucidate on that remark. How nice, how marvelously nice it would be to have an American president who was infused with progressive values and political courage. Just imagine what could be done. Like a quick and complete exit from Iraq. You can paint the picture as well as I can. With his popularity Obama could get away with almost anything, but he'll probably continue to play it safe. Or what may be more precise, he'll continue to be himself; which, apparently, is a committed centrist. He's not really against the war. Not like you and I are. During Obama's first four years in the White House, the United States will not leave Iraq. I doubt that he'd allow a complete withdrawal even in a second term. Has he ever unequivocally called the war illegal and immoral? A crime against humanity? Why is he so close to Colin Powell? Does he not know of Powell's despicable role in the war? And retaining George W. Bush's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, a man against whom it would not be difficult to draw up charges of war crimes? Will he also find a place for Rumsfeld? And Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department? And General James Jones, a former NATO commander (sic), who wants to "win" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser? Jones is on the Board of Directors of the Boeing Corporation and Chevron Oil. Out of what dark corner of Obama's soul does all this come?

As Noam Chomsky recently pointed out, the election of an indigenous person (Evo Morales) in Bolivia and a progressive person (Jean-Bertrand Aristide) in Haiti were more historic than the election of Barack Obama.

He's not really against torture either. Not like you and I are. No one will be punished for using or ordering torture. No one will be impeached because of torture. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says that prosecuting Bush officials is necessary to set future anti-torture policy. "The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don't see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable."

As president, Obama cannot remain silent and do nothing; otherwise he will inherit the war crimes of Bush and Cheney and become a war criminal himself. Closing the Guantanamo hell-hole means nothing at all if the prisoners are simply moved to other torture dungeons. If Obama is truly against torture, why does he not declare that after closing Guantanamo the inmates will be tried in civilian courts in the US or resettled in countries where they clearly face no risk of torture? And simply affirm that his administration will faithfully abide by the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, of which the United States is a signatory, and which states: "The term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession ... inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or any other person acting in an official capacity."

The convention affirms that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Instead, Obama has appointed former CIA official John O. Brennan as an adviser on intelligence matters and co-leader of his intelligence transition team. Brennan has called "rendition" – the kidnap-and-torture program carried out under the Clinton and Bush administrations – a "vital tool", and praised the CIA's interrogation techniques for providing "lifesaving" intelligence.

Obama may prove to be as big a disappointment as Nelson Mandela, who did painfully little to improve the lot of the masses of South Africa while turning the country over to the international forces of globalization. I make this comparison not because both men are black, but because both produced such great expectations in their home country and throughout the world. Mandela was freed from prison on the assumption of the Apartheid leaders that he would become president and pacify the restless black population while ruling as a non-radical, free-market centrist without undue threat to white privilege. It's perhaps significant that in his autobiography he declines to blame the CIA for his capture in 1962 even though the evidence to support this is compelling. It appears that Barack Obama made a similar impression upon the American power elite who vetted him in many fundraising and other meetings and smoothed the way for his highly unlikely ascendancy from obscure state senator to the presidency in four years. The financial support from the corporate world to sell "Brand Obama" was extraordinary.

Another comparison might be with Tony Blair. The Tories could never have brought in university fees or endless brutal wars, but New Labour did. The Republicans would have had a very difficult time bringing back the draft, but I can see Obama reinstating it, accompanied by a suitable slogan, some variation of "Yes, we can!"

I do hope I'm wrong, about his past and about how he'll rule as president. I hope I'm very wrong.

Many people are calling for progressives to intensely lobby the Obama administration, to exert pressure to bring out the "good Obama", force him to commit himself, hold him accountable. The bold reforms of Roosevelt's New Deal were spurred by widespread labor strikes and other militant actions soon after the honeymoon period was over. At the moment I have nothing better to offer than that. God help us.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.

Source:Counterpunch

среда, 3 декабря 2008 г.

India's 9/11. Who was Behind the Mumbai Attacks?

Washington is Fostering Political Divisions between India and Pakistan
by Michel Chossudovsky

The Mumbai terror attacks were part of a carefully planned and coordinated operation involving several teams of experienced and trained gunmen.

The operation has the fingerprints of a paramilitary-intelligence operation. According to a Russian counter terrorist expert, the Mumbai terrorists "used the same tactics that Chechen field militants employed in the Northern Caucasus attacks where entire towns were terrorized, with homes and hospitals seized". (Russia Today, November 27, 2008).

The Mumbai attacks are described as " India's 9/11".

The attacks were carried out simultaneously in several locations, within minutes of each other.

The first target was in the main hall of Mumbai's Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station (CST), where the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the crowd of passengers. The gunmen " then ran out of the station and into neighboring buildings, including Cama Hospital"

Attacks by separate groups of gunmen took place at two of Mumbai's luxury hotels - the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace, located at the heart of the tourist area, within proximity of the Gateway of India.

The gunmen also opened fire at Café Leopold, a stylish restaurant in the tourist area. The third target was Nariman House, a business center which houses Chabad Lubavitch,Mumbai's Jewish Center. Six hostages including the Rabbi and his wife were killed.

The domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and the Mazgaon Dockyard were also targeted.

"The attacks occurred at the busiest places. Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists struck at railway stations, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport. Seven places have been attacked with automatic weapons and grenades.(Times of India, 26 November 2008),



Indian troops surrounded the hotels. Indian Special Forces commandos were sent into the two hotels to confront the terrorists. Witnesses at the hotels said that the gunmen were singling out people with US and British passports.

Casualties, according to reports, are in excess of 150 killed. Most of those killed were Indian nationals, many of whom died in the attack on the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway Terminus.

At least 22 foreigners were killed in the attacks. Fourteen police officers, including the chief of the anti-terror squad, were killed in the attacks.

Who was Behind the Attacks?

A virtually unknown group called "the Deccan Mujahideen", has according to reports, claimed responsibility for attacks. The Deccan Plateau refers to a region of central-Southern India largely centered in the State of Andhra Pradesh. This unknown group has already been categorized, without supporting evidence, as belonging to the Al Qaeda network of terrorist organizations.

Police reports confirm that nine "suspected attackers" have been arrested and three of the attackers have, according to unconfirmed police sources, confessed to belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba [Lashkar-e-Tayyiba], a Pakistani Kasmiri separatist organization, covertly supported by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI). At least one of the arrested, according to the reports, is a British citizen of Pakistani descent.

In chorus, both the Western and Indian media are pointing fingers at Pakistan and its alleged support of Islamic terrorist organizations:

"Strategic gurus and security analysts in the US and from across the world are examining Pakistan's role in terrorism following yet another terror episode in India ending with fingers pointed at its widely-reviled neighbor.

While initial reports from India suggested the Mumbai carnage was a localized attack by militant malcontents in India because of the "Deccan Mujahideen" decoy that was used to claim responsibility, evidence cited by Indian army and security experts based on phone intercepts, nature of weaponry, mode of entry by sea etc., has quickly focused the attention on Pakistan." (Times of India, November 27, 2008)

The US media has centered its attention on the links between the Mumbai attacks and the "resurgent terrorist groups [which] enjoy havens in Pakistan's tribal areas as well as alleged protection or support from elements of Pakistani intelligence." (Washington Post, November 28, 2008).

"Clash of Civilizations"

In Europe and North America, the Mumbai attacks by Islamic fundamentalists are perceived as part of the "Clash of Civilizations". "Militant Islam is involved in a war against civilization".

The dramatic loss of lives resulting from the attacks has indelibly contributed to reinforcing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the Western World.

The outlines of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, are becoming clear. The terrorists targeted India, the U.S. and Britain, and the Jewish people. (Market Watch, November 28, 2008)

According to the media, the enemy is Al Qaeda, the illusory "outside enemy " which has its operational bases in the tribal areas and North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Washington's self-proclaimed holy mandate under the "Global War on Terrorism" is to take out bin Laden and extirpate Islamic fundamentalism.

America's right to intervene militarily inside Pakistan in violation of Pakistan's sovereignty is therefore upheld. Bombing villages in the tribal areas of North West Pakistan is part of a "humanitarian endeavor", in response to the loss of life resulting from the Mumbai attacks:

"Before these awful raids, news from South Asia had been encouraging. The central problem remains pacifying Afghanistan, where U.S. and other NATO forces struggle to stamp out Taliban and al-Qaeda elements." (Washington Post, November 28, 2008)

"Washington, however, wants the Pakistani army's cooperation in fighting terrorism. In recent weeks, U.S. officers in Afghanistan reported better results, crediting the Pakistanis with taking the offensive against the Taliban on Pakistani territory."

Media Disinformation

US network TV has extensively covered the dramatic events in Mumbai. The attacks have served to trigger an atmosphere of fear and intimidation across America.

The Mumbai attacks are said to be intimately related to 9/11. Official US statements and media reports have described the Mumbai attacks as part of a broader process, including the possibility of an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack on US soil.

Vice President Elect Joe Biden during the election campaign had warned America with foresight that "the people who... attacked us on 9/11, -- they've regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks". (emphasis added)

These are the same people who were behind the terror attacks in Mumbai.

These are also the same people who are planning to attack America.

Immediately following the Mumbai attacks, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put New York City's subway system "on high alert" based on "an unsubstantiated report of potential terrorism here in New York. This report led the New York Police Department to take precautionary steps to protect our transit system, and we will always do whatever is necessary to keep our city safe," Bloomberg said in a statement" (McClatchy-Tribune Business News, November 28, 2008, emphasis added).

It just so happens that one day before the Mumbai attacks, "the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had warned that there is a 'possible but uncorroborated' Al -Qaeda threat against the New York transportation system." (Ibid)

"As the attacks in Mumbai were carried out, U.S. authorities issued a warning that Al-Qaeda might have recently discussed making attacks on the New York subway system. A vague warning, to be sure. 'We have no specific details to confirm that this plot has developed beyond aspirational planning, but we are issuing this warning out of concern that such an attack could possibly be conducted during the forthcoming holiday season,' the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said." (Chicago Tribune, November 29, 2008)

Pakistan's Military Intelligence is America's Trojan Horse

The media reports point, in chorus, to the involvement of Pakistan's Military Intelligence, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), without mentioning that the ISI invariably operates in close liaison with the CIA.

The US media indelibly serves the interests of the US intelligence apparatus. What is implied by these distorted media is that:

1. The terrorists are linked to Al Qaeda. The Mumbai attacks are a "State sponsored" operation involving Pakistan's ISI

2. The Mumbai gunmen have ties to terrorist groups in Pakistan's tribal areas and North West Frontier Province.

3. The continued bombing of the tribal areas by the US Air Force in violation of Pakistan's' sovereignty is consequently justified as part of the "Global War on Terrorism".

The ISI is America's Trojan Horse, a de facto proxy of the CIA. Pakistani Intelligence has, since the early 1980s, worked in close liaison with its US and British intelligence counterparts.

Were the ISI to have been involved in a major covert operation directed against India, the CIA would have prior knowledge regarding the precise nature and timing of the operation. The ISI does not act without the consent of its US intelligence counterpart.

Moreover, US intelligence is known to have supported Al Qaeda from the outset of the Soviet Afghan war and throughout the post-Cold War era. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Al Qaeda and the War on Terrorism, Global Research, January 20, 2008)

CIA sponsored guerilla training camps were established in Pakistan to train the Mujahideen. Historically, US intelligence has supported Al Qaeda, using Pakistan's ISI as a go-between.

"With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of U.S. military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government". (Dipankar Banerjee, "Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry", India Abroad, 2 December 1994).

In the wake of 9/11, Pakistan's ISI played a key role in the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, in close liaison with the US and NATO military high command. Ironically, in October 2001, both US and Indian press reports quoting FBI and intelligence sources, suggested that the ISI was providing support to the alleged 9/11 terrorists.(See Michel Chossudovsky, Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration, The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (ISI) in the September 11 Attacks, Global Research, November 2, 2001)

Pakistan's Chief Spy Appointed by the CIA

Historically, the CIA has played an unofficial role in the appointment of the director of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

In September, Washington pressured Islamabad, using the "war on terrorism" as a pretext to fire the ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj.

"Washington is understood to be exerting intense pressure on Pakistan to remove ISI boss Nadeem Taj and two of his deputies because of the key agency's alleged "double-dealing" with the militants.( Daily Times, September 30, 2008

President Asif Ali Zardari had meetings in New York in late September with CIA Director Michael Hayden. (The Australian, September 29, 2008), Barely a few days later, a new US approved ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed by the Chief of the Army, General Kayani, on behalf of Washington.


In this regard, the pressures exerted by the Bush administration contributed to blocking a parliamentary initiative led by the PPP government to put the country's intelligence services (ISI) under civilian authority, namely under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior.

In other words, Washington exerts more control over the ISI than the duly elected civilian government of Pakistan.


The U.S. Violates Pakistan's Territorial Sovereignty

The US is currently violating Pakistan territorial sovereignty through the routine bombing of villages in the tribal areas and the North West Frontier Province. These operations are carried out using the "war on terrorism" as a pretext. While the Pakistani government has "officially" accused the US of waging aerial bombardments on its territory, Pakistan's military (including the ISI) has "unofficially" endorsed the air strikes.

In this regard, the timely appointment of Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the helm of the ISI was intended to ensure continuity in US "counter-terrorism" operations in Pakistan. Prior to his appointment as ISI chief, Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was responsible, in close consultation with the US and NATO, for carrying out targeted attacks allegedly against the Taliban and Al Qaeda by the Pakistani military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).


Upon his appointment, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha implemented a major reshuffle within the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), replacing several of the ISI regional commanders. ( Daily Times, September 30, 2008). In late October, he was in Washington, at CIA headquarters at Langley and at the Pentagon, to meet his US military and intelligence counterparts:

"Pakistan is publicly complaining about U.S. air strikes. But the country's new chief of intelligence, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, visited Washington last week for talks with America's top military and spy chiefs, and everyone seemed to come away smiling." (David Ignatieff, A Quiet Deal With Pakistan, Washington Post, November 4, 2008, emphasis added).

The Timing of the Mumbai Attacks

The US air strikes on the Tribal Areas resulting in countless civilians deaths have created a wave of anti-US sentiment throughout Pakistan. At the same token, this anti-American sentiment has also served, in the months preceding the Mumbai attacks, to promote a renewed atmosphere of cooperation between India and Pakistan.

While US-Pakistan relations are at an all time low, there were significant efforts, in recent months, by the Islamabad and Delhi governments to foster bilateral relations.

Barely a week prior to the attacks, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari "urged opening the Kashmir issue to public debate in India and Pakistan and letting the people decide the future of IHK."

He also called for "taking bilateral relations to a new level" as well as forging an economic union between the two countries.

Divide and Rule

What interests are served by these attacks?

Washington is intent on using the Mumbai attacks to:

1) Foster divisions between Pakistan and India and shunt the process of bilateral cooperation and trade between the two countries;

2) Promote internal social, ethnic and sectarian divisions in both India and Pakistan;

3) Justify US military actions inside Pakistan including the killing of civilians in violation of the country's territorial sovereignty;

4) Provide a justification for extending the US led "war on terrorism" into the Indian sub-continent and South East Asia.

In 2006, the Pentagon had warned that "another [major 9/11 type terrorist] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets" (Statement by Pentagon official, leaked to the Washington Post, 23 April 2006). In the current context, the Mumbai attacks are considered "a justification" to go after "known targets" in the tribal areas of North Western Pakistan.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated that "external forces" forces carried the attacks, hinting to the possible role of Pakistan. The media reports also point in that direction, hinting that the Pakistani government is behind the attacks:

US officials and lawmakers refrained from naming Pakistan, but their condemnation of "Islamist terrorism" left little doubt where their anxieties lay.

....

What has added potency to the latest charges against Islamabad is the Bush administration's own assessment - leaked to the US media - that Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI was linked to the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul some weeks back that killed nearly 60 people including a much-admired Indian diplomat and a respected senior defense official. (Times of India, November 27, 2008)

The Attacks have Triggered Anti-Pakistani Sentiment in India

The attacks have served to foster anti-Pakistani sentiment within India as well as sectarian divisions between Hindus and Muslims.

Time Magazine has pointed in no uncertain terms to the insidious role of "the powerful Inter Services Intelligence organization — often accused of orchestrating terror attacks on India", without acknowledging that the new head of the ISI was appointed at Washington's behest. (Time online).

The Time report suggests, without evidence, that the most likely architects of the attacks are several Pakistani sponsored Islamic groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), "which is part of the 'al-Qaeda compact'", Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Kashmiri separatist organization belonging to Al Qaeda which claimed responsibility in the December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Union parliament in Delhi and The Students Islamic Movement of India, (SIMI). (Ibid)

Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are known to be supported by the ISI.

Islamabad-Delhi Shuttle Diplomacy

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari indicated that his government would fully collaborate with the Indian authorities.

Pakistan's newly elected civilian government has been sidetracked by its own intelligence services, which remain under the jurisdiction of the military high command.

The Pakistan's People's Party government under the helm of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has no control over the military and intelligence apparatus, which continues to maintain a close rapport with its US counterparts. The Pakistani civilian government, in many regards, is not in control of its foreign policy. The Pakistani Military and its powerful intelligence arm (ISI) call the shots.

In this context, president Asif Ali Zardari seems to be playing on both sides: collusion with the Military-Intelligence apparatus, dialogue with Washington and lip service to prime minister Gilani and the National Assembly.

On November 28, two days following the Mumbai attacks, Islamabad announced that the recently appointed ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha would be dispatched to Delhi for consultations with his Indian counterparts including National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and the heads of India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau, responsible for internal intelligence. RAW and Pakistan's ISI are known to have been waging a covert war against one another for more than thirty years.1

On the following day (November 29), Islamabad cancelled the visit of ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to India, following Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee's "very aggressive tone with Pakistani officials [in a] telephone [conversation] after the Mumbai attacks". (Press Trust of India, November 29, 2008 quoting Geo News Pakistan).

Tense Situation. Deterioration of India-Pakistan Relations

The Mumbai attacks have already created an extremely tense situation, which largely serves US geopolitical interests in the region.

Islamabad is contemplating the relocation of some 100,000 military personnel from the Pakistani-Afghan border to the Indian border, "if there is an escalation in tension with India, which has hinted at the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai carnage." (Pakistan news source quoted by PTI, op cit).

"These sources have said NATO and the US command have been told that Pakistan would not be able to concentrate on the war on terror and against militants around the Afghanistan border as defending its borders with India was far more important," (Ibid, Geo News quoting senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir).

US Interference in the Conduct of the Indian Police Investigation

Also of significance is Washington's outright interference in the conduct of the Indian police investigation. The Times of India points to an "unprecedented intelligence cooperation involving investigating agencies and spy outfits of India, United States, United Kingdom and Israel."

Both the FBI and Britain's Secret Service MI6 have liaison offices in Delhi. The FBI has dispatched police, counter-terrorism officials and forensic scientists to Mumbai "to investigate attacks that now include American victims..." Experts from the London's Metropolitan Police have also been dispatched to Mumbai:

"The U.S. government's "working assumption" that the Pakistani militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are suspects in the attacks "has held up" as Indian authorities have begun their investigation, the official said. The two Kashmiri militant groups have ties to al Qaeda." (Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2008)

The role of the US-UK-Israeli counter terrorism and police officials, is essentially to manipulate the results of the Indian police investigation.

It is worth noting, however, that the Delhi government turned down Israel's request to send a special forces military unit to assist the Indian commandos in freeing Jewish hostages held inside Mumbai's Chabad Jewish Center (PTI, November 28, 2008).

Bali 2002 versus Mumbai 2008

The Mumbai terrorist attacks bear certain similarities to the 2002 Bali attacks. In both cases, Western tourists were targets. The tourist resort of Kuta on the island of Bali, Indonesia, was the object of two separate attacks, which targeted mainly Australian tourists. (Ibid)

The alleged terrorists in the Bali 2002 bombings were executed, following a lengthy trial period, barely a few weeks ago, on November 9, 2008. (Michel Chossudovsky, Miscarriage of Justice: Who was behind the October 2002 Bali bombings? Global Research, November 13, 2009). The political architects of the 2002 Bali attacks were never brought to trial.

A November 2002 report emanating from Indonesia’s top brass, pointed to the involvement of both the head of Indonesian intelligence General A. M. Hendropriyono as well as the CIA. The links of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to the Indonesian intelligence agency (BIN) were never raised in the official Indonesian government investigation --which was guided behind the scenes by Australian intelligence and the CIA. Moreover, shortly after the bombing, Australian Prime Minister John Howard "admitted that Australian authorities were warned about possible attacks in Bali but chose not to issue a warning." (Christchurch Press, November 22, 2002).

With regard to the Bali 2002 bombings, the statements of two former presidents of Indonesia were casually dismissed in the trial procedures, both of which pointed to complicity of the Indonesian military and police. In 2002, president Megawati Sukarnoputri, accused the US of involvement in the attacks. In 2005, in an October 2005 interview with Australia's SBS TV, former president Wahid Abdurrahman stated that the Indonesian military and police played a complicit role in the 2002 Bali bombing. (quoted in Miscarriage of Justice: Who was behind the October 2002 Bali bombings?, op cit)

Note

1. In recent months, the head of India's external intelligence (RAW), Ashok Chaturvedi has become a political target. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is intent upon firing him and replacing him with a more acceptable individual. It is unclear whether Chaturvedi will be involved in the intelligence and police investigation.


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