суббота, 28 февраля 2009 г.

Russia says self-sufficient for early warning missile data

MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia no longer depends on Ukraine to provide it with strategic missile tracking data following the launch of its new radar facility in the country's south, the commander of Russia's Space Forces said on Friday.

Russia's Voronezh-DM radar site in the southern town of Armavir went into service on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said the Armavir radar would monitor missile routes and probable directions for a missile attack in the south and southeast of Russia in place of the early warning facilities in Mukachevo in western Ukraine and Sevastopol, the Crimea.

Russia terminated a 1997 agreement with Ukraine on the use of both Ukrainian radars in February 2008 on the grounds that they had become obsolete.

With an effective range of 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) the Voronezh-class radar has capabilities similar to its predecessors, the Dnepr and Daryal, which are currently deployed outside Russia, but uses less energy and is more environmentally friendly.

Gen. Ostapenko said Russia would build more radar stations to replace the existing ones, adding that the Armavir facility was the second, after the Lekhtusi complex, in the Leningrad Region, which had been put into operation in March 2006.

Washington wants to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the neighboring Czech Republic, purportedly to counter a missile threat from Iran and other "rogue" states. Russia has fiercely opposed the plans, saying the European shield would destroy the strategic balance of forces and threaten Russia's

вторник, 24 февраля 2009 г.

Kremlin plans to hand over property to religious groups

MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia plans to change the ownership structure of property used by religious groups, a move that could make the Orthodox Church a major real estate owner and cut budget spending, a business daily said on Tuesday.

The bill drafted by the economics ministry proposes handing over buildings, land plots and other property to religious organizations that currently use them free of charge. The document also proposes returning all church property seized by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution, Kommersant reported.

Experts said the Russian Orthodox Church, the country's dominant religion, could emerge as a major real estate owner, the paper said.

"Only [gas and railroad monopolies] Gazprom and Russian Railways could then be compared with the Church [in terms of property ownership]," Roman Cheptsov from Prime City Properties consultancy told the daily. "In Moscow, for example, 1 hectare of land is worth about $6-$7 million."

The economics ministry declined to comment on the bill, the paper said. While drafting the document in 2007, however, the ministry said it was aimed at removing the expense of maintaining religious buildings from the federal budget.

An opposition Communist Party leader said the move was designed to improve public trust in the Kremlin amid the ongoing financial crisis and warned that ensuing commercial activity involving the property could harm the mission of religious organizations, the paper said.

"Some clergy will want to engage in commerce, rent out premises and land," Vladimir Kashin, also a lawmaker, told the daily. "We must prevent extremes, or otherwise we will have gilded churches and growing poverty and immorality."

Father Vladimir Vigilyansky, spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy, said the Church would have to review its economic policies if the bill was approved to support churches outside large cities, which may not have sufficient funds to maintain or rebuild the buildings, the paper reported.

In a separate interview on Tuesday, Vigilyansky said the Church has often been returned virtually derelict monasteries and cathedrals, and the state could help churches, especially those in remote regions, rebuild them.

Vigilyansky said the late Patriarch Alexy II had only allowed the lease of auxiliary church premises on rare occasions to raise money for reconstruction projects, Kommersant reported.

Since the collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union, the Church has regained the ownership of over 100 of 16,000 churches and cathedrals, the paper said.

"If religious organizations become legitimate owners of their property, they will be independent of the state, which will lose its levers to influence on them," a senior Muslim cleric, Mufti Nafigulla Ashirov, told the paper admitting that mosques would rent out extra premises to support the Muslim community.

Rabbi Zinovy Kogan told the daily: "We will rent extra premises, but will spend earnings on welfare projects, for example soup houses."

Kommersant said the bill would be discussed by a government commission on religious organizations in March.

EU warns Minsk recognition of Abkhazia could affect ties

BRUSSELS, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - Improving relations between the European Union and Belarus will be suspended if Minsk recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent, an EU commissioner said on Tuesday.

The Belarusian parliament will consider recognizing the two former Georgian republics on April 2. Russia recognized the two states as independent on August 26, 2008.

"As for the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, our position remains unchanged - we will not recognize it. And if Belarus recognizes it, that will kick our relations back to the previous position. So far this has not taken place yet, but if it does, it will be a retreat, and freeze our rapprochement," Benita-Ferrero Waldner, the EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, told reporters from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

Asked if the EU would cancel its invitation to Belarus to join its Eastern Partnership program, Waldner said it would be up to the European Council to decide how relations between Brussels and Minsk develop.

The program, which does not include potential membership in the EU but provides for political and economic relations with the organization, will be kicked off in Prague on May 7.

Under the program, Belarus and another five former Soviet republics, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, will be granted 350 million euros ($448 million) in extra financial assistance by 2013.

The EU announced on Monday the inclusion of Belarus in its Eastern Partnership program. The announcement was made after a meeting of foreign ministers from the 27-nation alliance in Brussels, and comes less than a week after EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana's visit to the former Soviet republic.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said with confidence his country's bilateral relations with the EU would be improved after Solana's visit.

"His [Javier Solana's] visit to Minsk [last Thursday] boosted the movement towards each other for Belarus and the EU and will improve relations. I have no doubt about that," Lukashenko said.

More maslenitsa paintings

Boris Kustodiev

Boris Kustodiev

Boris Kustodiev

Vladimir Makovsky

Boris Kustodiev

NATO flag burnt at Crimean rally for Ukrainian army holiday

SIMFEROPOL, February 23 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian political and civic activists held a rally on Monday in Crimea for Defender of the Fatherland Day, burning a NATO flag to protest the military alliance's eastward expansion.

"On this festive day we show our resolute protest against the plans of NATO countries aimed at expanding the military-political bloc farther east," said one of the organizers, Russian Bloc lawmaker in the Crimean parliament Oleg Slyusarenko.

Police estimated that the rally, which took place outside the parliament building in the center of Simferopol, was attended by around 400 people, including activists from the Ukrainian opposition Party of Regions, some holding banners reading "Ukraine's future - union with Russia."

"We are certain that NATO soldiers will never be in Crimea, and that Sevastopol will forever remain the main base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet," said the deputy speaker of Crimea's parliament, Sergei Tsekov.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea, including the main base in Sevastopol, as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said last year that Ukraine would not extend the lease.

In Kiev, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko laid flowers at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in honor of Defender of the Fatherland Day, while Yushchenko, who does not recognize the holiday, spent the day - his 55th birthday - at his residence in western Ukraine.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine ceased to recognize many Soviet holidays, and Armed Forces Day was introduced on December 6. However, in 2004 then-President Leonid Kuchma reintroduced February 23 as Defender of the Fatherland Day.

понедельник, 23 февраля 2009 г.

Maslenitsa, the Holiday of Spring and Sun

Maslenitsa (Boris Kustodiev)

Maslenitsa (Russian: Ма́сленица), also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week, is a Russian religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the seventh week before Pascha (Easter). Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. The Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date. In 2008, for example, Maslenitsa was celebrated from March 2 to March 8.

The name of the holiday, Maslenitsa (derived from maslo, which means butter or oil in Russian) obviously owes its existence to the tradition of baking pancakes. With the help of pancakes people tried to evoke the grace of the Sun and induce it to better warming of the frozen earth. Thus, they baked those encouraging little suns of pancakes.

Besides, it was a custom in Russian villages to do various actions associated with a circle, such as, for example, going on horseback around the settlement several times, decorating a cart wheel and carrying it on a pole along the streets, and dancing the round dance (khorovod). Such ceremonies were believed to butter the Sun, cajole it and make it kinder. Hence is the name Maslenitsa.

Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter.The tradition of Maslenitsa takes its roots in pagan times, when the Russian folks would bid farewell to stark winter and welcome long-awaited spring with mouth-watering pancakes, as round, yellow and hot, as the Sun itself, as well as with games, songs, dances and burning down the Winter effigy. The rites of this holiday are in this or that way associated with the send-off of winter and welcoming of spring. Maslenitsa is celebrated during the last week before the Lent, that is seven weeks prior to the Easter.

Until christening of Russia, Maslenitsa was celebrated on the vernal equinox day.The Orthodox Church, however, timed this holiday to the Lent, in order not to oppose the traditions of the Russian people (in a similar way, Christmas was timed to the winter equinox day).

Every day of Maslenitsa (Pancake Week) has its own name and needs certain rites.

Monday is welcoming. By this day they finished building ice-hills, seesaws and show booths. The rich already started baking pancakes. The first pancake was traditionally given to a beggar in remembrance of the dead.

Tuesday is playing. From the very morning the young were invited to chute ice-hills and eat pancakes. People would invite the kinsfolk and friends with the words: “We’ve got the ice-hills ready and pancakes baked – please, come and try”.

Wednesday is regaling. On this day the son-in-law would pay a visit “to the mother-in-law’s pancakes”. Besides her daughter’s husband the mother-in-law would invite other guests as well.

Thursday is merry-making. From this day on Maslenitsa unfolded to its full extent. The folks indulged in all kinds of entertainments, such as ice-hills, shows, seesaws, horse-riding, carnivals, fist fights and carousals, for sure.

Friday is mother-in-law’s party. Now it was the turn of the sons-in-law to invite their mothers-in-law and treat them with pancakes.

Saturday is sister-in-law’s party. Young wives would invite their sisters-in-law for a feast. The newlywed was supposed to give presents to her husband’s sisters.
On the last day of Maslenitsa they burn down a straw effigy symbolizing winter. Thus they are sending-off winter till the next year.

The last day of Maslenitsa is Forgiveness Sunday, when everyone asks each other’s forgiveness to be freed from sins before the Lent. In response they hear the traditional “God will forgive”.

On the Christian side, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent. During Maslenitsa week, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians, making it a myasopustnaya nedelya (Russian: мясопустная неделя, English "meat-empty week" or "meat-fast week"). During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden. Furthermore, Lent also excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to partake of dairy products and those social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.


пятница, 20 февраля 2009 г.

Russia, Serbia sign visa-free travel agreement

MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic signed in Moscow on Friday a deal on mutual visa-free travel for citizens of the two countries.

The agreement will allow Russians and Serbs to pay month-long visits to each others' countries without having to apply for visas. The deal is expected to come into force in several months.

In the Balkans, Russians also enjoy visa-free travel regimes with Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

The ministers said they were planning to finalize all the necessary procedures for the deal to be ratified as soon as possible.

"As for parliamentary ratification, this will be a priority task for our government, and we will propose that Serbia's parliament ratify it [the deal] as soon as possible," Jeremic said.

The deal supersedes Serbia's unilateral decision to lift visa requirements for Russians in early March of last year.

четверг, 19 февраля 2009 г.

Construction of ESPO Chinese pipeline leg could begin in April

SEOUL, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - The construction of the Chinese section of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline could begin in April, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said on Thursday.

"The construction will begin as soon as China starts transferring [its $25 billion loan to Russian state-controlled crude producer Rosneft and pipeline operator Transneft]" Sechin, who is responsible for the fuel and energy sector in the Russian government, said. "Probably, in April if everything goes as scheduled."

Transneft head Nikolai Tokarev confirmed that the construction would begin in April saying that "the funds are available."

On Tuesday Russia and China signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of a branch of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline toward China and long-term Russian oil supplies.

Under the agreement, Russia will supply 15 million metric tons (110 million barrels) of crude annually for 20 years to China. China, in turn, will provide $25 billion in loans to Rosneft and Transneft.

Sechin praised the deals as a "breakthrough," saying that "$25 billion is a unique deal in the history of the global economy."

The ESPO pipeline is currently under construction and expected to start pumping its first oil in late 2009.

Kyrgyz parliament votes to close U.S. airbase

(Adds U.S. defense secretary comment in paras 13-14)

BISHKEK, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a presidential proposal to close a U.S. airbase used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001.

The move to close the base was supported by 78 lawmakers, with one against. The pro-presidential Ak Zhol party has 70 seats in the single-chamber, 90-member legislature.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close the only U.S.base in Central Asia after talks in Moscow in early February, when he secured more than $2 billion in aid and loans.

Both Russia and Kyrgyzstan have denied any link between the aid deal and the closure of the base, located a short distance from the capital, Bishkek.

Bakiyev said Washington had refused to pay more for the base. He also linked the move to the conduct of U.S. military personnel, including the killing of a Kyrgyz national by a U.S. soldier in December 2006.

Kabai Karabekov, the head of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, said that the closure of the base would not mean that Kyrgyzstan was pulling out of the fight against terrorism.

"All interested countries should probably alter their outlook towards the Afghan problem. As time has shown, a military doctrine for restoring order in Afghanistan does not work. The U.S. military contingent has been in this country for eight years and the situation is only worsening," the lawmaker said.

"There are many other ways to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan, but it is impossible to force Afghanistan at gunpoint to live in line with Western standards," he added.

The vote to close the base comes as U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would send an additional 17,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. The move will increase the U.S. contingent to more than 50,000 personnel.

Russia, which has an airbase in Kant, a short distance from the Manas base, recently said it was ready to broaden cooperation with Washington on non-military supplies to Afghanistan via the so called "northern corridor," which is likely to cross Russia into Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before entering northern Afghanistan.

The base closure bill is still to be signed by the president. Once Bakiyev does this, the Kyrgyz government will notify the United States, giving it 180 days to withdraw some 1,200 personnel, aircraft and other equipment.

There is as yet no information on when Bakiyev will sign the bill into law.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates hinted at an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers on Thursday that Washington could pay more rent for the base.

However, he said the United States would not squander taxpayers' money simply to keep the base intact and that it could seek sites for an alternative airbase.

воскресенье, 15 февраля 2009 г.

Nato is deeper in its Afghan mire than Russia ever was

Jonathan Steele

Saturday 14 February 2009

Two decades after the Soviet withdrawal, ever more resources are being poured into a war with scant chance of success

Twenty years ago tomorrow the last Soviet units left Afghanistan after a nine-year intervention that took 15,000 soldiers' lives. As they crossed the river Oxus I was in the air above them, the only foreign journalist to fly to Kabul that day.

Russian friends in Moscow, where I was this newspaper's correspondent, doubted my sanity, convinced a bloodbath was bound to follow the Soviet exodus. I disagreed. The secular regime under Mohammed Najibullah that the Kremlin left behind had a firmer base than many outsiders realised, thanks in part to support from Kabulis who feared chaos and blood-letting if the mujahideen won the civil war.

Two decades later the ironies of America's war in Afghanistan are telling. When Richard Holbrooke, the new US envoy to the region, visited the country this week he may not have been aware of the Soviet anniversary. But the US-led intervention is already almost as long. At this stage of their war the Russians were preparing to leave. Now the US and Nato want to get further in, and if Barack Obama's plans for 30,000 extra US troops are met, along with efforts to get more from Nato, coalition forces will almost equal the 115,000 troops the Russians had at their peak.

Western casualties are considerably less, but Nato has been no more successful. Like the Russians, the western alliance mainly occupies Kabul and provincial capitals. The countryside is vulnerable to attack or in the hands of the resistance - a mixture of Islamic fundamentalists, Pashtun nationalists, local tribal chiefs and mullahs, and Arab jihadis - just like the mujahideen who confronted the Russians. The difference is that the west and Pakistan supported and armed them in the 1980s. Now, using the profits of heroin-running, they are self-sustaining and harder to control.

Nato faces tougher challenges than the Russians. Twenty years ago the Taliban did not exist, suicide bombing was not in vogue, and the Afghan army and police were more effective. Kabul under Soviet rule was an oasis of calm, where girls went to school and unveiled young women attended university. The mujahideen fired occasional rockets into the city but caused too little damage to upset normal life. Note the contrast with today's siren-screaming armoured convoys and western offices hidden behind high walls and sandbags, and still the Taliban were able to attack three government buildings a few days ago.

The Soviet invasion violated international law and was condemned by the UN. But its goals were more modest than the US's in 2001. Moscow was not seeking regime change. It was trying to prop up a regime under threat from a mounting civil war. Although western hawks claimed the Kremlin planned to advance through Afghanistan to seize warm water ports in the Gulf, the true aim was limited. Moscow wanted to defend an allied government, contain the mujahideen (who were getting CIA support before Soviet troops invaded), and prevent Afghanistan becoming a pro-western bastion. This was shortly after the US was expelled from Iran and the Kremlin feared Washington wanted Afghanistan as its replacement.

Getting out was easier for Moscow than it will be for the US. International negotiations in Geneva gave the Kremlin the face-saver of "parallelism". The peace terms were that the Russians would leave when aid to the mujahideen ceased and an intra-Afghan dialogue was launched. This disguised any appearance of defeat. It even provided a good chance for the Afghan government to continue after Soviet troops withdrew. In fact, it lasted three more years.

The causes and consequences of the Soviet withdrawal and Najibullah's eventual fall have led to some of the phoniest myths of the cold war. Claims that US-provided Stinger missiles forced the Russians to give up and that this humiliation provoked the Soviet Union's collapse are nonsense. Moscow's ally Najibullah fell four months after the USSR died, when the Kremlin's new ruler, Boris Yeltsin, cut fuel supplies to the Afghan army and Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leading Uzbek commander, defected to the mujahideen. Until that moment, they had not captured and held a single city.

Another myth is that the west "walked away" after the Russians left. If only it had. Instead Washington and Pakistan broke the Geneva agreement by maintaining arms supplies to the mujahideen. They encouraged them to reject Najibullah's repeated efforts at national reconciliation. The mujahideen wanted all-out victory, which they eventually got, only to squander it in an orgy of artillery shelling that left Kabul in ruins and produced the anger that paved the way for the Taliban. If western governments are now paying a high price in Afghanistan, they have brought the disaster on themselves.

The Taliban will not drive Nato out militarily. The notion that Afghans always defeat foreigners is wrong. The real lesson of the Soviet war is that in Afghanistan political and cultural disunity can slide into massive and prolonged violence. Foreigners intervene at their peril.

Nato is in a cleft stick and the idea that, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is the "right war" is a self-deluding trap. A military "surge", the favoured Obama policy, may produce short-term local advances but no sustainable improvement, and as yesterday's Guardian reported, it will cost the US and Britain enormous sums. Pouring in aid will take too long to win hearts and minds, and if normal practice is followed, the money will mainly go to foreign consultants and corrupt officials. Talking to the Taliban makes sense under Najibullah-style national reconciliation. But the Taliban themselves are disunited, with a host of local leaders and generational divisions between "new" and "old" Taliban. Worse still, since the war spilt into Pakistan's frontier regions, there are now Pakistani Taliban.

What of the better option, a phased Nato withdrawal? It will not produce benefits as clear or immediate as the US pull-out from Iraq. Most Iraqis never wanted the US in the first place. They know the destruction the invasion brought, have stepped back from sectarian war, and now have a government which has pressed Washington to set a timetable to leave. In Afghanistan the risks of a collapse of central rule and a long civil war are far greater.


• This article was amended on Saturday February 14 2009. 'Western casualties are considerably less, but Nato has been more successful' should have said 'Western casualties are considerably less, but Nato has been no more successful'. This has been changed.


Famous russian writers -Sergei Timofeevich Aksakov

Sergei Timofeevich Aksakov (Russian: Сергей Тимофеевич Аксаков) (September 20, 1791—April 30, 1859 (OS); October 1, 1791—May 12, 1859 (NS)) was a 19th century Russian literary figure remembered for his semi-autobiographical tales of a landlord's family life, hunting, fishing, and butterfly collecting.

According to the Velvet Book, the Aksakovs trace their male line to a nephew of Haakon the Old, who settled in Novgorod in 1027. Sergey was born in Ufa, brought up in his family estate at Novo-Aksakovka, and educated at Kazan University. Having taken part in the Campaign of 1812, he settled for the quiet life of a sporting country squire in 1816. About two decades later, Aksakov moved to Moscow, where he joined the censorship department and started to publish his notes on hunting and fishing. These made him a national celebrity and won him a number of admirers, some of whom declared Aksakov superior not only to Gogol but even to Shakespeare.

In 1843 Aksakov settled in the village of Abramtsevo, which was also frequented by his Slavophile sons, Konstantin Aksakov and Ivan Aksakov. In the late 1850s he published his most enduring works, The Family Chronicle (1856) and Childhood Years of Grandson Bagrov (1858). These are reminiscences of a childhood spent in a Russian patriarchal family rather than a full-scale work of imagination. Aksakov's semi-autobiographical narratives are unmatched for their scrupulous and detailed description of the everyday life of Russian nobility.

Among his other works are a fairy tale, The Scarlet Flower, and an account of his friendship with Gogol. The Scarlet Flower was adapted into an animated feature film in the Soviet Union in 1952.


"The Scarlet Flower"

By A. Aksakov (briefly)

Once upon a time in a faraway land a merchant was preparing to set out on a long journey. This merchant had three daughters, and he asked all of them what they would like as gifts for themselves when he returned from his voyage. The first daughter requested a golden crown, and the second one wanted a crystal mirror. The third daughter asked only for "the little scarlet flower."

The merchant set out on his journey. It did not take him very long to find a beautiful golden crown and a fine crystal mirror. He had difficulty however, finding the third gift, the scarlet flower. He searched everywhere, and eventually his search led him into a magical forest. Deep within these woods there was a palace, and in its courtyard grew a beautiful flower. As the merchant drew closer to the flower he realized what it was the scarlet flower. Cautiously, the merchant picked the flower that his youngest daughter wanted so badly. Upon picking the scarlet flower he was confronted by a hideous beast, who demanded that in return for picking the flower the merchant must send one of his daughters deep into the enchanted forest, to live with the beast forever.

Upon receiving the scarlet flower, the merchant's youngest daughter agreed to go to the beast. She journeyed alone into the forest and found the castle where she would dwell forever. For a time, she lived there very happily. The beast had not revealed himself to her, and showered her daily with kindness and gifts. She started to grow quite fond of her invisible keeper, and one day asked that he show himself. The beast reluctantly gave into her plea, and just as he had feared, she recoiled in terror at the sight of him.

That night the girl had a haunting dream about her father falling deathly ill. She begged the beast to release her, so that she could visit her dying father. Touched by her concern, the beast released her on one condition - that she return to him in three days time. The girl spent some time with her father, and prepared to return to the beast in the alloted time. However, her sisters altered the time on the clocks, making her arrive late, because they were jealous of her wealth and well-being. There upon her arrival the girl was horrified at what she encountered. The beast was dead, lying there clutching her scarlet flower. Heartbroken, the girl embraced the dead beast, and declared her love for him. Having done this, she unknowingly broke the evil spell, and her beloved beast awoke, turning into a handsome prince.

They lived happily ever after.

"The Scarlet Flower"(cartoon 1952)

суббота, 14 февраля 2009 г.

Presidents of Russia, Turkey adopt strategic declaration

MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Russia and Turkey adopted a joint declaration following talks in Moscow on Friday to promote ties and enhance bilateral friendship and partnership.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul arrived for his first four-day visit to Russia on Thursday. Following his stay in Moscow, he travels to Kazan, the capital of Russia's predominantly Muslim republic of Tatarstan.

"This is a strategic document laying out the achievements of bilateral cooperation and setting tasks for enhancing it further," a source in the Kremlin said earlier.

In the declaration, the two presidents urged action to take effective measures to settle frozen conflicts that could destabilize the situation in the South Caucasus.

They also vowed to move quicker in settling issues related to defense cooperation.

"Reaching agreements on burning issues in defense cooperation between the two countries will open up more opportunities for broader cooperation in the sphere," the two presidents said in the declaration.

The two countries, which as the Russian and Ottoman empires established diplomatic relations over five centuries ago, also agreed on mutual aid to restore and build monuments.

Taking into account the leading role of private businesses in bilateral trade, Russia and Turkey agreed "to facilitate and speed up business contacts... and visa procedures for businessmen."

The Turkish president said annual bilateral trade, which exceeded $30 billion last year, could soon grow to $50 billion.

"We could push the [bilateral trade] index to the level of $40 billion-$50 billion in the near future in the interests of our nations," Gul said.

Moscow and Ankara agreed that energy was a strategic sphere in bilateral cooperation that had potential for growth.

Turkey receives about 65% of its gas from Russia, which is pumped via Ukraine and the Blue Stream pipeline that passes directly from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told reporters on Friday that Russia could sign an energy contract worth more than $60 billion with Turkey on the construction of a nuclear power plant and power supplies to the country for the next 15 years.

He said four reactors for a potential nuclear plant in Turkey could cost $18 billion-$20 billion.

At the conclusion of the talks, the Turkish president invited his Russian counterpart to make a return trip to Turkey.

"I believe my current visit will open up a new page in the history of Russian-Turkish ties," Gul said.

Nord Stream to unveil environmental report in early March

MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - Nord Stream AG said on Friday it planned to unveil in early March an environmental report to the Baltic Sea states on a gas pipeline project designed to pump gas to the Balkans and other European states.

"The transboundary environmental report [Espoo Report] for the Nord Stream gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea will be ready for public participation in early March 2009. Until then, the Nord Stream consortium will incorporate all final comments and remarks," the consortium said.

The decision was confirmed at a meeting in Copenhagen with officials from the nine Baltic states (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden) on Friday.

"The start of public participation on our Espoo Report will mark an important milestone for Nord Stream, and confirms that we are on schedule to start transporting gas from Russia to Europe in 2011," said Nord Stream's Permitting Director Dirk von Ameln.

The Nord Stream pipeline, which will pump gas from Siberia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, bypassing East European transit countries, is being built jointly by Gazprom, Germany's E.ON and BASF, and Dutch gas transportation firm Gasunie at an estimated cost of $12 billion.

The project, which has taken on a political element amid the recent gas row between Russia and Ukraine, requires a positive environmental report before it is allowed to go ahead. The Nord Stream consortium says it has spent over 100 million euros ($130 million) on environmental impact studies and planning.

Permits to construct and operate the pipeline are required from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, countries which the pipeline will pass through, as well as Baltic Sea countries that could be affected by the pipeline.

Militants planned terror against Ingush leaders - Russian FSB

MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) - Gunmen who were killed in a special police operation in the largest city in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, had planned terrorist attacks against top Ingush officials, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Saturday.

"Acting on orders from militant leader A. Taziyev a.k.a. "Magas," one Mutaliyev a.k.a. "Abdullah" sent in January 2009 a group of suicide-bombers to Nazran to prepare terrorist attacks against newly-appointed Ingush leaders," the FSB said in statement.

On Thursday morning, police cornered several militants in a house in southwest Nazran. The subsequent shootout lasted for an hour and a half before the house was blown up by the occupants. Four police officers were killed and three injured in the operation.

Earlier reports said three militants, including one woman, died in the explosion, which had the force of the equivalent of 200 kilograms of TNT. Three nearby houses and a number of cars were damaged.

Police also found six explosive devices with the equivalent of over 1 ton of TNT, firearms and ammunition at the site.

"A large number of explosives in the house indicates that the hideout could have been used as an explosives-making lab," the FSB statement said.

FSB suspects that the same group carried out a number of terrorist attacks in Ingushetia in June-December last year.

Ingush authorities earlier said some 120 militants are currently active in Ingushetia, along with almost 1,240 sympathizers, while in neighboring Chechnya the number of militants and their supporters is approximately 500 people.

вторник, 10 февраля 2009 г.

Mafia in Georgia

In summer of 2008, not long before a military conflict broke out in South Ossetia, tensions between two Georgian thieves of honor (vory v zakone), Tariel “Tariko” Oniani and Lashi “Rustavskyi Lasha” Shushanashvili were widely discussed in Russia. The issue was made public through television and print media after investigators for the Russian Interior Ministry managed to detain a record 39 Georgian thieves of honor as they were gathering for a traditional shodka meeting (mafia`s own local court). The detainees used to control building firms, casinos, wholesale markets and shop petrol stations in Moscow, to say nothing about such traditionally criminal activites like drug and arms trade, auto theft and prostitution. Though “Tariko” claimed that Lasha and his people violated the mafia`s rules, actually the real problem was with the turnover of hundreds of millions dollar assets.

It was a rare occasion for the ordinary people to learn something more about mafia. Thieves in honor usually shun publicity and settle all the problems on their own. However, the situation changed somehow in 1990s when the number of criminals grew bigger and it was harder for them to avoid internal conflicts. Then some facts about the thieves` way of life became available and gave food for thought to film makers, writers and journalists. But still, books, films or interviews cover very few aspects of life in mafia.

There are plenty of legends explaining the origin of thieves in honor. The first references date back to early 1930s, a very remarkable time in the Soviet Russia. Then the authorities made Herculean effort to fight supporters of NEP (New Economic Policy), which lead to the rise of criminal activity. Thousands of criminals were taken to GULAG penal labor camps. Meanwhile, the country began its way to industrialization, human labor was in high demand. Indeed, it would be strange if only honest citizens worked while criminals would just spend their jail time like in sanatoriums. However, to make those people with special psychological treats and habits work for the sake of their Motherland was a difficult task, and a huge number of wardens and guards. It was necessary to control the prisoners with the help of their cell mates.

The camps` administration had a kind of “activists”- prisoners who had changed their mind and now strived for cooperation with the authorities. They were appointed to be on duty. Activists officially had power over other prisoners. But this system had been invented long before GULAG camps were established by the Soviet authorities.

But “vory v zakone” (thieves in honor) became the Soviet know-how. It was a large-scale project of the Soviet authorities, which could be even compared to nuclear or missile exploration, although the nation knew little truth about the life in GULAG camps. “Activistis” did not have much influence on the criminals. Very often the so-called “otritsaly” (those who did not like to be controlled by the activists) stirred up revolts,which cometimes led to murders. So, the major aim was to somehow make prisoners obey and work hard.

A special thieves` ideology was invented to be imposed on the prisoners. This ideology comprised some rituals used in monk orders, masonic lodges and ethnic mafias. To effectively control prisoners, thieves in honor had to be good organizers. Apart from being cruel and ruthless, they had to offer prisoners an attracitve value system. Under the code, the thieves must not have any property and any luxurious things. He should have served seevral jail sentences before his distinction could be clamed. Thieves were not allowed to marry and have children, have city registration, enter “Komsomol” (Communist Union of Youth) of the Communist Party, serve in the army or work (neither they worked in prison). They also could not cooperate with the administration of the camps and seek early parole. A thief, who was appointed senior in a prison or claimed distinct from others at large, should have to collect money (obshtshak) that could be used to support the imprisoned criminals and their families. Each prisoner (“zek”) must regularly contribute to “obshtshak” -by giving a part of money and food products he receieved from his family, and also a part of his wages he earned in a labor camp. A zek could become a thief of honor after his candidacy was approved by at least three other thieves of honor during a special ceremony taking place at a shodka.

Naturally, the number of thieves in honor and those willing to become so, was very small. They did not work but were interested in good labor activity as it directly affected the amount of the prison`s obshtshak. Although thieves did not cooperate with the administration, they had much power over zeks. Thus, activitsts and thieves in honor helped the Soviet regime to control prisoners.

Like much of those invented by Joseph Stalin, the “thief in honor” phenomenon outlived not only himself but also the Soviet Union. The phenomenon has gone through some changes with time, with Georgia being the cradle of all these transformations. The role of Georgia in the evolution of thief ideology is so big that in this article I can only touch upon some of the landmarks.

In 1970s Georgia was a special kind of republic. Although some Georgian leaders of today are talking about the Soviet era as time of harsh repressions against the Georgian people, there is enough evidence to claim to the contrary.

When the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, Eduard Shevardnadze demonstrated a creative approach to socialism, which often contradicted to that imposed by the official regime. At the same time he earned reputation of an effective lobbyist of the republican interests in the Kremlin and enjoyed little attention to his economic experiments from Moscow. Thirty years ago Georgia was already on its way to “the consumption society” pattern. People were allowed to have as many cars, flats and cottages as they liked. There were quite a lot of people in Georgia then who enjoyed millions of Soviet weighty rubles on their bank accounts.

This what caused transformation of Georgia's criminal world. Since “tsekhoviki” (black market manufacturers) were persecuted, this sphere of economy fell under control of thieves. Despite their Soviet origin, under new historic and economic circumstances thieves of honor were getting more like their fellow criminals in the West. Obliged to pay taxes, Georgian tsekhoviki made obshtshaks grew bigger. Naturally, Georgian thieves immediately felt the burden of the code. They no longer wanted to serve jail sentences and live ascetically. They treated the rules like Shevardnadze treateed socialism. A marriage ban was almost removed to let the thieves have children and strengthen relative ties. To live in comfort and at the same time not risking to be persecuted by the law-enforecment agencies, the Georgian thieves were allowed to cooperate with members of the party and the authorities.

In late 1970s the Georgian thieves even thought of seizing power but after KGB interfered, many of the criminals were put into prison outside Georgia (though usually the convicted were kept in the nearby camps and jails).

Shevardnadze is said to have had a hand in it allegedly to save the republic from criminal leaders. However, there could have been another reason. By that time the Georgian tsekhoviki were engaged in such great number of activities that gradually began to control markets in other regions. Huge sums of black money would inevitably lead to the transformation of criminal circles outside Georgia. But in this case the money raised from tsekhoviki would not return to Georgia. Probably, Shevardnadze wanted to prevent this.

So, even outside Georgia, tsekhoviki had to pay taxes to Georgian thieves in honor, who, put in prisons in new regions, continued their activity.

It is worth mentioning that originally there were very few thieves in honor in the Soviet Union. But in Georgia the situation was different: due to relative ties, the number of thieves in honor grew like a weed.

In other regions, for example, in the Far East, there could be no thieves in honor at all. That is why those from Georgia enjoyed privileged position in prisons outside their homeland. Possessing huge sums of money, they bribed a camp`s administration, helped zeks live through daily hardships and thus automatically recruited new members. At the same time they cooperated with the local criminal bosses and decided who deserved to be appointed as a thief in honor. So, in different regions there appeared thief clans controlled by Georgia. After being released from jail, many Georgian cirminal bosses prefered not to retunr to their republic or if they did so, they always appointed their “godsons”, so to speak. Georgia`s obshtshak was refilled from across the Soviet Union.

The collapse of the USSR naturally brought something new to the evolution of Georgian organized crime. In early 1990s almost all Georgian thieves, who were jailed in Russia, were convoyed to Georgia and there were amnestied. Then practically all of them returned to Russia and other economically lucractive republics (Ukraine, Kazakhstan). As Slavic thieves were spending their jail time, they missed the moment when primary accumulation of capital began in the post-Soviet Russia. Actually, among those there were plenty of true thieves of honor, who striclty observed the code. As Georgians were much more flexible in terms of this, they turned to be much better prepared to the conflicts not only inside their clans but also with those who did not recognize any bosses in the world of crime.

It is a common fact that in early 1990s the scene was occupied by criminal groups, which consisted of athletes, who had never been in jail, did not have any kind of ideology and just wanted to make easy money. They thought thieves in honor had too many prejudices and did not want to obey them. Those guys managed to seize control over some regions, including Saint Petersburg. They claimed the leading role in the Russian criminal world. First the new and the old thieves clashed in bloody conflicts but soon managed to achieve a kind of a compromise when the old ones regained their authority and many of the new ones were “crowned”. Then the first rumors appeared as if it cost hundreds of thousand dollars to have a “crown”. Nowadays the price has certainly reached millions. Even those criminal groups, where bosses were intended to become businessmen, politicians or public figures and thus were not allowed to be “crowned”, had to cooperate with the thieves in honor. This happened to one of the most powerful organized crime families of Russia, the Solntsevskaya bratva (brotherhood) in Moscow welcomed Djemal Khachidze, a thief in honor from Georgia. Of course, it was much easier to agree on a “crown” with the Georgian mafia as they had long been involved in market relations and would not miss an opportunity to benefit from this.

Did Shevardnadze have any personal ties with the thieves?

I lack enough evidence to prove this but in Soviet times and also during his return to power in times of Georgia`s independence, thieves in honor were not persecuted though preferred not to stay in the republic for a very long time, looking for other lucrative regions. At the same time, money raised by the thieves, which flow to Georgia from the nearby regions and abroad, keep the republican budget afloat and is no less important for the Georgian economy than US support or migrants` labor. Under Shevardnadze, some political and other kind of projects, were implemented only thanks to this money.

When Saakashvili came to power, he immediately launched a war against crime. The thieves residing in the republic were offered either to abandon their activity or to get ready to serve life sentence. Some former Georgian thieves, who had long forgotten their criminal past and settled in Italy, Spain, Fracne, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Greece or Turkey, were placed on the Interpol wanted list. Dozens of them were taken to Georgia and put in jail. The “war on thieves” was backed by huge propaganda but now we see it has almost come to an end.

Why? Probably, because Saakashvili has long been living outside Georgia, was not aware of how great the role played by the thieves in honor was and what he could benefit from cooperating with them. Primarily, he was aimed at pleasing Europe by demonstrating how successfully he was fighting against crime. Maybe he expected that in response Georgia would be granted membership in NATO and the EU and would receive support in conflict with Russia. But his expectations were deceived. And now the number of thieves who are about to be released in Georgia grows each day.

So what is the exact number of thieves in honor and which percentage of them are Georgians? Nobody can tell you exact figures. For various reasons (old age, death and others) some thieves in honor give way to the new ones. There are no statistics in the CIS. Besides, due to some conflicts inside the criminal world, the thieves happen to be deprived of the “crown”, which may also lead to some ambiguities with the status of a criminal. According to the most influential “Prime Crime” news agency, since the 1990s the number of thieves in honor have never been less than 600, with Georgians making 50% of them. Compare: the number of Slavic thieves have not reached 100. After his release in 2005, the most authoritative Russian thief Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov called on his fellows to deprive of crowns those who had not earned but bought it. But the initiative was not backed by the thieves (and if you look at the statistics above, you will understand why).

Nowadays the Georgian thieves are a powerful and very united criminal community, with its members having relative ties and enjoying huge financial support not only in home but in Russia and other CIS countries. They are the strongest in the post-Sovet area.Besides, they do not call themselves an “ethnic mafia” and claim they observe the ideology.

It is difficult to predict if the Georgian official leaders could get this mafia involved in the anti-Russian policies. But we should remember that the founder of the notorious “Mkhedrioni” paramilitary group, Jaba Ioseliani,was not only a politician but also a bank robber...


Source:Strategic Culture Foundation

Nordic military alliance to challenge Russia in Arctic

New Danish Knud Rasmussen class Arctic patrol vessel

Four Scandinavian countries together with Iceland could form a Nordic military alliance to protect their interests in Arctic, says a report presented by Norway at a special meeting of the countries’ foreign ministers.

The report presented by a veteran Norwegian politician Thorvald Stoltenberg proposes co-operation not limited to a joint military force, but also includes potential joint efforts in international security, air surveillance, air patrols, maritime monitoring and medical services. The report also calls for an independent polar orbit satellite system by 2020.

Nordic countries
Denmark (with Greenland and Faroe Islands)
Finland (with Aaland Islands)

The interesting fact about the Scandinavian Defence Union, which could unite Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and

Sweden,Iceland, is that it was supposed to be born immediately after WWII. The Scandinavian four were positive the union was absolutely essential to guard against possible future common threats from the Soviet Union, for example. But the birth of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation superseded these plans.

Today, Denmark and Norway (which were occupied by Nazi Germany during WWll, thus having learnt a bitter lesson) together with Iceland are already members of the NATO alliance, while Finland, which bravely fought both Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in sequence during the WWII and Sweden, which miraculously managed to escape the horrors of war, have so far preferred to stay militarily unengaged.

Now Stoltenberg has proposed pooling efforts and resources in all possible military areas, as well as civil co-operation to Thorvald Stoltenberg to ensure the effective maritime monitoring of the North Atlantic, and contiguous areas of the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea (the so-called “Barents Watch”). The report also mentions the necessity of a “Baltic Watch”.

Thorvald Stoltenberg is one of the most experienced Norwegian politicians and has held a wide number of posts in Norway (Stoltenberg is a former Norwegian Defence Minister and Foreign Minister), the UN and Norwegian Red Cross.

A mutual declaration of solidarity in key areas of joint foreign policy and a common disaster response unit are planned to deal with any disastrous events.

For Russia formation of the Nordic Alliance could possibly mean that it will be able to speak directly to the Arctic countries, thus by-passing NATO, for 60 years now wholly controlled by the US, which in turn could mean that purely economic interests would prevail. However, this is only if the US does not enter the new organisation, because, strangely enough, it has Arctic territories too.

Source:Russia Today

понедельник, 9 февраля 2009 г.

Kyrgyz parliamentary committee approves U.S. base closure

BISHKEK, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - The Kyrgyz parliamentary defense and security committee approved on Monday the closure of a U.S. military airbase.

The hearings on the closure of the base are first being held in parliament's issue-specific committees, and will be then assessed by the three parliamentary factions before going to a final debate in parliament.

A government spokesman said the Cabinet would shortly submit to parliament another "11 related bills" terminating the agreement on the deployment of coalition forces at Manas airport.

The Kyrgyz foreign minister said closing the base should not affect the republic's relations with the United States

"We have an established relationship, and the presence of an airbase should not be linked to the development of bilateral relations," Kadyrbek Sarbayev said.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the base at Manas, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks last Tuesday in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said last week that the decision to close the airbase was not linked to the deals under which Russia will forgive Kyrgyzstan's $180 million debt and grant the country a $2 billion soft loan and $150 million in financial aid.

Russia, which also runs a military base in Kyrgyzstan, has also denied that the closure is linked to the loan, and has pledged to continue cooperation with Washington on Afghanistan after the base is closed.

The United States will have 180 days to withdraw its 1,000 military personnel from the base once the agreement is formally terminated.

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek said earlier it was business as usual at the base.

President Barack Obama confirmed soon after his inauguration plans to send up to 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

суббота, 7 февраля 2009 г.

Russia in photos (The White sea)

The White Sea (Russian: Бе́лое мо́ре, Finnish: Vienanmeri) is an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast.

The important port of Arkhangelsk is located on the White Sea. For much of Russia's history this was Russia's main centre of international maritime trade, conducted by the so-called Pomors ("seaside settlers") from Kholmogory. In the modern era it became an important Soviet naval and submarine base. The White Sea-Baltic Canal connects the White Sea with the Baltic Sea.

The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be internal waters of Russia.

There are four main bays and gulfs in the White Sea. From west to east, they are the Kandalaksha Gulf, the Onega Bay, the Dvina Bay, and the Mezen Bay.

The White Sea has a very large number of islands, but most of them are small. The main island group in the White Sea is the Solovetsky Islands, located almost in its midst. Kiy Island in Onega Bay is significant due to a historic monastery. Velikiy Island, located close to the shore, is the largest island in the Kandalaksha Gulf

Karelia (Karelian and Finnish Karjala, Russian: Карелия (Kareliya), Swedish: Karelen), the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden. It is currently divided between the Russian Republic of Karelia, the Russian Leningrad Oblast, and Finland (the regions of South Karelia and North Karelia).

На Белом море
«На Белом море» на Яндекс.Фотках

Архангельск.Белое море.
«Архангельск.Белое море.» на Яндекс.Фотках
The Solovetsky Islands (Russian: Солове́цкие острова́, Соловки́) are located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, Russia. The islands are administrated from Arkhangelsk as Solovetsky District and are served by the Solovki Airport. Area: 347 km². Population: 968 (2002 Census); 1,317 (1989 Census).

Залив Белого моря
«Залив Белого моря» на Яндекс.Фотках
The bay of the White sea

Острова Белого моря
«Острова Белого моря» на Яндекс.Фотках

Соловецкие острова
«Соловецкие острова» на Яндекс.Фотках
The Solovetsky Islands

Белое море бывает черным ...
«Белое море бывает черным ...» на Яндекс.Фотках

пятница, 6 февраля 2009 г.

"The Island" by Pavel Lungin (feature film with english subs)

Somewhere in Northern Russia in a small Russian Orthodox monastery lives an unusual man whose bizarre conduct confuses his fellow monks, while others who visit the island believe that the man has the power to heal, exorcise demons and foretell the future.
Writer: Dmitry Sobolev
Director: Pavel Lungin
Pavel Lungin — main producer
Sergei Shumakov — main producer
Olga Vasilieva — producer
Stage-manager: Andrei Zhegalov
Artistic Directors: Igor Kotsarev, Alexander Tolkachev
Composer: Vladimir Martynov
Sound: Stefan Albine, Vladimir Litrovnik
Montage: Albina Antipenko
Costumes: Ekaterina Dyminskaya

Pyotr Mamonov — father Anatoly
Viktor Sukhorukov — father Filaret
Dmitry Dyuzhev — father Iov (Job)
Yuriy Kuznetsov — Tikhon
Viktoriya Isakova — Nastya
Nina Usatova — widow
Jana Esipovich — young woman
Olga Demidova — woman with child
Timofei Tribuntzev — young Anatoly
Aleksei Zelensky — young Tikhon
Grisha Stepunov — child
Sergei Burunov — adjutant

2006 — best film at the Moscow Premiere festival.
2007 — Six awards at the fifth national Golden Eagle Awards - "Best film", "Best male support role" (Viktor Suhorukov), "Best male role" (Petr Mamonov), "Best director" (Pavel Lungin), "Best scenario" (Dmitry Sobolev), "Best operator work" (Andrei Zhegalov).
2007 - Nika Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, etc.

© Pavel Lungin Studio, 2006.













Foolishness for Christ

Foolishness for Christ

Peter Drobac

Source: St. Luke's Orthodox Mission

In the Orthodox Church, we generally classify saints into categories, based on the roles they assumed in life that led them on their paths of salvation to the gates of Paradise. We often hear of the holy martyrs who "fought the good fight and received their crowns of glory" for their witness to the Faith in the face of persecution; the holy ascetics are praised for the self-denial that brought them closer to our Saviour; the radiant hierarchs that grace the Church with their teachings and pastoral guidance are honored with hymns of praise; the glorious Apostles and virgins and confessors and prophets are commemorated every day in recognition of their union with God and their glorification of Him.

But there remains one group of saints that, at a casual glance, seems to stick out from the brave and noble figures mentioned above, and contradicts the characteristics that we would consider praiseworthy in many of them. These holy people received a calling from God, just as powerful as any calling to the priesthood or to martyrdom: to live a life of abject poverty and homelessness, to suffer ridicule and abuse, and to instruct those with a modicum of spiritual insight by their sometimes absurd actions.

St Nicholas Salos

St Nicholas Salos, for instance, taunted the Tsar Ivan the Terrible to eat a piece of raw meat during Lent (the tyrant refused to break his fast out of false piety), accusing his hideous actions towards his subjects equivalent to consuming human flesh. St Isaaky the Recluse, and many others like him, took on the yoke of feigned madness and stupidity. Countless others suffered spiteful accusations and gross injustice in complete silence, desiring to be shamed and mocked by the world with all their being, instead of defending themselves. In many cases, their holiness was only made manifest to those around them after their repose. They remain one of the least understood group of saints and, especially to us in the 20th century, the most troublesome. And if we are to be saved, we must, to some degree, emulate them.

These Fools for Christ's sake embody what the Orthodox consider to be a cornerstone of Christ's teaching - the abandonment of the wisdom of this world. They took upon themselves the same suffering and humiliation that Christ underwent for our sakes, since both they and He were rejected by the world in favor of earthly things. When the Jews claimed that they had "no king but Caesar" and that Christ should be killed, they demonstrated their profound abandonment of the Lord as their King. They sided with the wisdom of the world, which told them that it was expedient that One should die so that the Jewish nation should remain.

Christ was a scandalous figure for the Jews. He claimed to be the Messiah, but the Jews were expecting their Messiah to release them from the bonds of their political enemies, not their spiritual ones. Christ preached about the Kingdom of God, about the rewards that awaited those who did the will of His Father, rather than earthly rewards. His crucifixion was the ultimate act of willing self-abasement, a most profound example of fulfilling God's will in direct opposition to the desires and expectations of those opposed to Him. And so, the world rejected Him and His Gospel because they did not conform to its expectations based on fallen perceptions and ideals.

St. Paul's words to the Corinthians in defense of his teachings reveal this clearly: " [The] Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness… God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught the things which are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Cor. 1:22-23,27-29).

Being baptized into Christ means putting Him on and living our lives according to His teachings and His example. If we have truly done so, then the same rejection and cries of ridicule await us as those that greeted His coming. When we look at the lives of the saints from this perspective, we can see, even in the most dignified of hierarchs and noblest of martyrs, the clear and unmistakable signs of Foolishness for Christ's sake. First by the pagan authorities, then by the apostates and heretics, and finally by the "faithful" themselves (even to this day!), those that remained as unyielding witnesses to the Truth faced punishment, exile and death. Rather than yield to God's infinite wisdom and mercy, His creation rejected those that bore them since they were incompatible with their goals.

But Fools for Christ went even further. They took upon themselves the difficult yoke of obedience to God's will in the absence of active persecution and presented the world, not obstinate centers of resistance, but spiritual barbs and jabs to reveal the extent to which it had deliberately strayed from God. Much like the Old Testament Prophets, who stood apart from society and spoke the word of God to His people so that they should faithfully return to Him, they could not both be a part of the world and at the same time its chastisers. In fact, the Prophets, who were the voices of God and did His will, were remarkably foolish in the eyes of their contemporaries - the Word of God they brought was rejected, and their actions, intended to convey in a physical way His word, were misunderstood, so that they were persecuted and killed by those they had intended to save.

And the Fools for Christ - who is it that railed against them and persecuted them for their rejection of the world? It was those whose minds had not been turned towards God, who had not yet accepted Him as King, and who had not accepted the rule and reign of His Kingdom in their hearts. It was those without spiritual discernment capable of distinguishing between things of this world and those of God. It was those who took pride and comfort in their imagined spiritual fruitfulness, but which were blind to the lives of these holy people, whose actions were in fact gifts from God to restore their persecutors' sight.

Brothers and sisters, let us be careful that we do not become like these, because living blindly in the world as we do, the temptation to scoff and condemn the works of God is ever-present. We must become the weak and foolish vessels of God that confound the strong and wise of the world. This, by no stretch of the imagination, means that we are required to take the burdens that the Fools for Christ took upon themselves, but rather, that we should look to them for reassurance. If the world rejects us in small ways for our small movements towards God, we can take comfort in the knowledge that they were once rejected for their great works - and before them, Christ. Let us be vigilant, so that we do not mistake the absurdity of this world's teachings for wisdom, and ignore the wisdom of God's word because we are told it is foolish, because it is the only road to eternal life.

© Copyright 2007 by pravmir.com

среда, 4 февраля 2009 г.

"The Town of Nowhere"- Igor Korneluk

One of my favourite's.

(subs by V. Chetin)


Night or total calm, having plunged for good, Everlasting rain or eternal snow: All the same, I am warmed by a limitless hope That far off, theres a town, the Town of Nowhere. There, a weary tramp will easily find share. There, you are remembered and eagerly cared. Day by day, confusing and loosing the trail, I will plod to that town, the Town of Nowhere. Burning for me, there is a hearth - Of long gone truths an eternal sigil. Theres but one step, one painful last, But this one, last, costs more than living . Who can tell me what Fortune keeps in store? That we may not be given to know. If beyond the verge of all squandered years, I will finally see the Town of Nowhere. Burning for me, there is a hearth - Of long gone truths an eternal sigil. Theres but one step, one painful last, But this one, last, costs more than living.

Post-Soviet security bloc agrees to set up rapid response force

MOSCOW, February 4 (RIA Novosti) - A post-Soviet regional security bloc has agreed to create a collective rapid reaction force, the Armenian president said on Wednesday.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a security grouping comprising the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Serzh Sargsyan said the agreement had been signed by all CSTO member states, whose leaders met in the Kremlin, although Uzbekistan had recorded "a special opinion."

"Uzbekistan cannot accept the provision whereby all special services, including emergency services, are to be part of the collective force," CSTO press secretary Vitaly Strugovets said.

The force will be used to repulse military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and neutralize the effects of natural disasters.

The force will be permanently based in Russia and placed under a single command with CSTO member countries contributing special military units.

A source in the Russian delegation said Uzbekistan would not participate in the collective force on a permanent basis but would "delegate" its subunits to take part in operations on an ad hoc basis.

Sargsyan also said the CSTO Security Council would next meet in Moscow in June.

Moscow to host CSTO, EurAsEC summits on Feb. 4-5

MOSCOW, February (RIA Novosti) - Leaders from two regional economic and security organizations, uniting a number of former Soviet republics, will meet in Moscow on February 4 through 5 for EurAsEC and CSTO summits, a presidential aide said.

Sergei Prikhodko said the Eurasian Economic Community summit, comprising Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan as full members, will focus on overcoming the impact of the global financial crisis, particularly looking at setting up a joint assistance fund.

"The fund worth $10 billion would become an effective instrument to counter negative trends in the economies and finances of member states," the official said.

The parties have yet to develop mechanisms for the fund, initially proposed at an informal summit in Kazakhstan last December.

The leaders will also consider setting up an international hi-tech technology exchange center and implementing innovative projects in member countries.

EurAsEC, established in 2000, also involves Armenia, Moldova, and Ukraine which hold observer status.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, a security grouping comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, will see its leaders discuss establishing collective rapid reaction forces to counter military aggression, international terrorism, extremism, crime, drug-trafficking and deal with emergency situations.

The talks will also focus on the CSTO budget for 2009 and on whether to confirm an extension to the tenure of Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, whose five-year term is due to expire.

Medvedev warns top Russian officials off luxury vacations-paper

MOSCOW, February 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president has warned senior officials against visiting luxury resorts abroad amid concerns over the country's image and public discontent, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Dmitry Medvedev has issued a document instructing his administration members and key ministers to inform him about where and for how long they plan to go on vacation, Kommersant said citing its sources.

The paper said the instructions came after society columns highlighted high-profile Russian holidaymakers in the French ski resort of Courchevel - the Olympic Committee head, a senior administration official and the head of the Kremlin security service.

An unidentified Kremlin official told the paper such trips damaged the country's image and could trigger discontent in crisis-hit Russia, where people have lost their jobs or part of their salaries en masse as firms have struggled since the fall.

Kommersant said presidential press secretary Natalya Timakova had declined to comment on the report, while other senior Kremlin officials neither denied nor confirmed the move.

The Kremlin tried to impose control over its officials' foreign trips under Vladimir Putin after the then-president failed to contact two governors, who were vacationing abroad with their cell phones switched off, during emergency situations in their regions, the paper said.

"Such things have not happened since 2006. We can suggest that the requirement for senior officials to report their vacation plans is not about control, but image," Kommersant said.

Luxury resorts, including in the French and Swiss Alps, have in recent years seen an influx of wealthy Russians, who have become notorious for rude behavior and for throwing extravagant parties. One of Russia's richest men, metals tycoon Alexander Prokhorov, was briefly arrested in Courchevel in 2007 amid a prostitution scandal.

вторник, 3 февраля 2009 г.

Coldest place on the earth in Siberia

Oymyakon is a village (selo) in Oymyakonsky Ulus of the Sakha Republic, Russia, located along the Indigirka River, 40km northeast of Tomtor on the Kolyma Highway. Population: 800.[citation needed]

Oymyakon is known as one of the candidates for the Northern Pole of Cold, because on January 26, 1926, a temperature of −71.2 °C (−96.2 °F) was recorded there (however, this fact is arguable because the temperature was not directly measured but obtained by extrapolation). This is the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location on Earth. It is also the lowest temperature recorded in the Northern hemisphere, except for an unofficial lowest recorded temperature of −77.5 °C (−107.5 °F) at Mount Logan in the Yukon, Canada. Only Antarctica has recorded official lower temperatures with the lowest being −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) near the Russian station of Vostok. The actual weather station is in a valley between Oymyakon and Tomtor. The station is at 750m and the surrounding mountains at 1,100 meters, causing cold air to pool in the valley.

Its name in the Sakha language means "non-freezing water"; due to the presence of a natural hot spring nearby. The ground there is permanently frozen.

Oymyakon has also been featured in at least two TV series—firstly in the episode The Winter's Tale of the 1996 PBS weather documentary series Savage Skies (USA version narrated by Al Roker, UK version narrated by actor Ian Holm), secondly in Oxford geographer Nick Middleton's television series and accompanying book on people who live in extreme climates discusses his visit to this village, and describes ways in which inhabitants cope with the extreme cold. Middleton describes how Oymyakon lies between two mountain ranges, trapping cold air in between the entire year[1]. Extreme cold temperatures are frequently recorded during winter months in Oymyakon, with temperatures regularly dropping below −40 °C (−40 °F). In 2008, temperatures were observed well below this temperature, with −60.2 °C (−76.4 °F) recorded on both the 19th of January and 22nd of December.

The reportage of Sky news

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Russia, Belarus to sign integrated air-defense system agreement

MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Belarus will sign on Tuesday an agreement on the joint protection of the Union State airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air-defense system, a Russian presidential aide has said.

Sergei Prikhodko said the documents would be signed at a meeting of the Union State Supreme Council, which would be co-chaired in Moscow by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko.

Prikhodko added that the agreements would significantly strengthen the countries' defense capability and advance their military cooperation.

Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian Air Force, previously said the integrated air-defense system would comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare (EW) unit.

The system will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander, at the presidents' discretion.


Playing off Albanian gangsters as victims of genocide, the US created a pretext for annihilation of Yugoslavia


January 15 is the tenth anniversary of the most cynical provocation of Western intelligence services that created a pretext for NATO's aggression against the United Republic of Yugoslavia.

The event of that day became known in global mass media as the "Racak massacre" – the reported extermination of forty ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovo by the Yugoslavian military.

In fact, the village of Racak had served by that time as a base for one of the brigades of the irregular Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), named Agim Celej-Coli. From this foothold, fighters frequently launched terrorist raids, targeting state servicemen and policemen of both Serbian and Albanian origin.

After the assassination of local police officer Svetislav Pesic, whose auto was attacked from an ambush on January 10, 1999, a special unit of Yugoslavian police undertook an anti-terrorist operation.

At that time, Belgrade tried to attract attention of international observers to UCK's terrorist activities. A team of EU representatives, as well as mass media, were informed about the planned operation in Racak. Arriving on several jeeps, the team, including Reuters and AP correspondents, stopped in several kilometers away from the village.

The armed clash between a special unit of Yugoslavian police and the UCK paramilitary lasted for sixteen (!) hours. Eventually, the policemen left the place. For some reason, the joint security cordon of police and military was suspended. Shortly after that, a team of foreigners collected the dead bodies from the area and threw them down into a ravine. On the next day, the place was visited by William Walker, head of the international observing mission. He was followed by a crowd of TV journalists. Posturing before the heap of dead bodies, Mr. Walker called General Wesley Clark, Commander of NATO forces in Europe, saying: "There was a mass murder here in Racak. I am standing here among corpses." That was the starting point for an international political campaign against Belgrade that later justified the secession of Kosovo which subsequently became the major military base of the United States in Southern Europe.

Days after Walker's TV opportunity, Washington Post published a "revealing" report of journalist Geoffrey Smith. Referring to intelligence sources, the author quoted an eavesdropped phone talk, in which Nikola Sajinovic, Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, allegedly instructed Gen. Sreten Lukic, commander of Yugoslavian police in Kosovo, to "cover up traces" of murder of civilians in Racak.


The episode in Racak subsequently became a major argument for a new Washington's campaign against "Serbian fascism" and a brutal assault of NATO on Yugoslavia. On March 19, 1999, days before the bombings, US President Bill Clinton declared: "I have to remind about the tragic developments in Racak, where innocent people, women and children, were dragged out of their homes to a hollow, where they were forced to stand on their knees and then killed. They were exterminated not for some wrongdoings but just for their origin".

The following NATO intervention dubbed "Merciful Angel" killed thousands of Yugoslavian civilians and inflicted irreparable damage to the nation's economy. In the midst of air attacks, in May, the International Tribunal in The Hague accused Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic of organizing an "ethnic cleansing" in Racak:

"Approximately (sic) on January 15, at early morning, the Serbian military entered the village and started a search in homes. Villagers who tried to hide were killed at the place. A group of 25 men tried to hide in one of the houses but the military found and seized them. The men were beaten, and then dragged to the nearest hill and executed. In general, around 45 civilians were killed". The published list of "executed Kosovars", exterminated allegedly for their ethnic origin, included one woman and a 14-year-old teenager.

When Slobodan Milosevic was given away to the tribunal, mass media reported that a key witness would appear and testify about the phone talk between Sajinovic and Lukic. The witness never appeared.

Eventually, on October 2003, the Tribunal accused four Yugoslavian generals of military crimes in Racak. Official charges were brought against Nebojsa Pavkovic, Vladimir Lazarevic, Vlastimil Djordjevic and Sreten Lukic.

Between January and June 1999, Mr. Pavkovic commanded Yugoslavia's Third Army, Mr. Lazarevic headed the Pristina Corps, Mr. Djordjevic chaired the Ministry of Interior's Department of Public Security, while Mr. Lukic was in charge of the Interior's contingent in Kosovo, being later elevated to the post of Deputy Minister.

The indictment, signed by O-Gon Kwon, a judge from South Korea, laid responsibility on the four generals for the "crimes against humanity" committed in the period between January 1 and June 20, 1999. During this time, they allegedly assassinated and abducted Kosovars, forcing 800,000 of the local civilians to leave their homes in Racak, Bela Crkva, Mala Krusa, Suva Reka and other villages (in fact, most of the civilians tried to escape from NATO bombs and UCK terror).

During the trial, Milosevic exposed the lie about the so-called "massacre in Racak" that was one of the major charge counts. In March 2003, he exposed Helena Ranta, a Finnish forensic expert, of manipulating facts and presenting her personal opinion instead of official conclusions of the earlier established international expertise commission. He claimed that Ms. Ranta's evidence served as an immediate pretext for the NATO air assault on Belgrade.

A press release, published by Ms. Ranta, chair of the EU group of experts, was subsequently published as an official report of the group. The press release described the 40 persons, whose bodies were "discovered" in Racak, as peaceful civilians.

"They cannot be peaceful civilians at least for the reason that the same expert group found traces of powder on the hands of 37 of them", Milosevic said. He also indicated that 23 of the killed men wore Austrian boots that UCK was then supplied with. Milosevic added that these men, according to the forensic findings, were killed from a distance of 150-100 m, while Ms. Ranta ranted that they were killed at point-blank range.


Addressing Ms. Ranta, Slobodan Milosevic claimed that with her press release she deliberately or occasionally mislead the public and provided a pretext for an international military intervention in Yugoslavia. "The press release, expressing not more than your personal view, substantiated the war for the official purpose of protecting ethnic Albanians", he said. Ms. Ranta objected that her activity cannot be associated with the NATO operation, as Finland was not a NATO member. "This is even worse", Milosevic said.

In her memoirs published in October 2008, Helena Ranta confessed of having forged the evidence on the clash in Racak under pressure from the officials of Finland's ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as from William Walker.

In his article published in Politika daily, Belgrade, Prof. Dusan Dunic, a forensic expert who took part in the investigation of the developments in Racak, claimed that Ms. Ranta's memoirs contain only a part of truth. "I believe that our state has a right to ask Ms. Ranta who particularly pressured her – Mr. Walker, head of the so-called group of observers, or anyone else. Like in the case of the memoirs of ex-Hague Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, the Government should establish a special investigative commission and officially demand her testimony".

According to Mr. Dunic, the cooperation of Finnish and Serbian forensic experts was successful and fruitful. Meanwhile, Ms. Ranta's manipulations could be noticed from the very beginning. She frequently made phone calls, reporting about the details of the findings to unidentified officials.

"In the Forensic Institute in Pristina, we carried out autopsy of forty dead bodies, one of them female. The conclusions of Serbian and Finnish specialists were identical. However, before the official results were going to be published, Ms. Ranta launched a press conference. Looking nervous, she emphasized that she was expressing her personal opinion. At this moment, Mr. Walker seized the mike from her hands and declared that Ms. Ranta has found the proof that the Racak case was a deliberate murder of civilians.

"Meanwhile, her Finnish colleagues had found out that the so-called civilians were equipped with warm underwear. They wore trousers upon sweat pants and underpants. That means that they had stayed for a long time outdoors, and not in homes", Dunic emphasizes.

According to Dunic, the tribunal disposed this evidence. "I've never seen their official conclusion. The fact is, however, that the materials on the Racak episode were subsequently withdrawn from the case of Milosevic, as well as from the case of Milan Milutinovic and other generals", he indicates.


Speaking to Russian TV journalist Yevgeny Baranov, expert Helena Ranta admitted that William Walker "was embarrassed with the results of the expertise". She also acquainted Russian journalists with the original conclusion of the military forensic expertise that had never been published. "Today, I am ready to speak about the results of the investigation", she says. But "today" is irreversibly late.

One more member of the forensic expertise team, Prof. Vujadin Otasevic, is not surprised with Ms. Ranta's testimony on the pressure exerted on her by William Walker, then-head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo and Metohija.

"I was sure she would repent sooner or later", he says. "When you are dealing with autopsy, you can't hide truth for ever", Otasevic said in his interview to Politika daily on October 23, 2008. A year before, this expert and his colleague Slavisa Dobricanin published a research entitled "Kosovo. The voice of the victims", describing the Racak episode in details.

"The truth about Racak is already revealed. This last repenting statement of Helena Ranta confirms that Yugoslavia's special police was slanderously accused of executing civilians in this village. Now, everybody in the world has to realize – though too late – that it was an armed clash of Albanian terrorists and the state security forces", he says.


That was already after the "judicial killing" of Slobodan Milosevic. While he was alive, he continued to resist and even successfully counterattacked.

In April 2004, during a cross-interrogation of the abovementioned forensic expert Slavisa Dobricanin, Mr. Milosevic repeatedly proved that the Albanians, killed in Racak, represented a paramilitary squad and were not at all "peaceful civilians", as Western human right advocates reported – with reference to intelligence sources.

Addressing the expert, the tribunal's judge inquired whether the only teenager, found dead among UCK fighters, was a peaceful civilian. The witness replied that in Albanian families, boys of this age are regarded as adults and use weapons. Answering the same question for the second time, the witness said, "I can't tell you anything definite except that the age, in this case, does not mean much".

During this interrogation, Mr. Milosevic provided convincing evidence that at least 30 males, whose bodies were found in Racak, were in the lists of UCK fighters.

On January 23, 2006, after a six-week break in the Tribunal's proceedings, the trial was continued. This time, Milosevic's defense attorneys invited Milan Kotur, a retired colonel of the Yugoslavian Popular Army, who commanded the ground forces of the Pristina Corps in 1998-1999, being responsible for connections with the OSCE mission in the region.

Milan Kotur testified that the Army strictly complied with the conditions of the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement signed in October 1999: the number of the military in Kosovo was reduced to the level preceding the clashes with UCK. The fighters were defeated before the mission arrived, but after the army pulled out, the movement used this situation for reorganization, returning to its combat site.

According to Serbian philologist and journalist Irina Antanasievic, in the period between January 1 and December 31, 1998, Albanian terrorists committed 1129 attacks on servicemen and civilians in the relatively small region of Kosovo and Metohija. 115 police servicemen were killed, 216 injured, 187 wounded and 15 abducted. Among civilians, 187 persons were killed, 158 injured, 878 wounded, and 292 were missing. This dry statistics reflect hundreds of human tragedies.

In 1998, UCK occupied the town of Orahovac for several days. The same happened with the village of Opterusa. That was more than a chain of terrorist acts: that was a war against statehood of Yugoslavia. Mass media were then silent.

It is rarely mentioned, even in Serbian media, that the consolidation of Kosovars into a nation was achieved by means of coercion, blackmail, and racketeering. In case you don't pay a tax for "free Kosovo" ranging from 100 to 10,000 German marks, you are regarded a traitor and treated like a Serb. The toll of the "peaceful" year 1998 included 77 Albanians and 46 Serbs, while in 42 cases, the origin was not identified. Similarly, number of missing persons included 173 Serbs and 100 Albanians.

Asked whether the OSCE mission itself complied with the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement, the witness said that the team "did not always behave correctly": it was spectacularly more sympathetic to UCK. He illustrated his statements with the example of Racak in January 1999. According to Kotur, the Yugoslavian army, the police and the OSCE mission had struck an agreement that forbade any comments before a joint investigation of a particular case, but William Walker and his deputy John Drevenkievic violated this agreement in the Racak case.

"They described the event in this village as a mass murder of innocent civilians, organized by the army and police. In fact, Drevenkievic just did not know what had happened. He asked me on January 15 about the developments in Racak, and I answered that it had been a counter-terrorist police operation. He told me that five or six persons were killed there, not mentioning about teenagers at all. However, on the next day he officially claimed that the murder affected women and children. "He told me about his decision to travel to Racak along with Walker in order to speak about this aloud. I tried to dissuade him from going there before the investigation publishes its judgment. But he told me that Walker was already in Racak".


Meanwhile, the tenth anniversary of the clash in Racak was celebrated in the independent Kosovo in its own style. On January 15, President Fatmir Seidiu and Prime Minister Hasim Taci declared that Kosovo "will never forget the massacre in Racak". Officials reiterated the version of a mass murder of civilians. "The Serbian military made Kosovo a scorched land, destroying over 130,000 homes, a lot of mosques, and killed 13,000 peaceful Albanians".

In his turn, Hasim Taci, the former chieftain of separatist fighters, claimed that "the Racak massacre accelerated the diplomatic and military measures against the Milosevic regime". Thus, he actually admitted that the alleged massacre was in fact a bloody performance staged after an armed clash by Western intelligence services that backed UCK. This masquerade was utilized for the destruction of Yugoslavia that still continues. Clinton's cronies, invited to the new US Democratic administration by Barack Obama, are likely to leave nothing of Serbia except reference in textbooks of history.

The commemoration ceremony in Pristina that looked rather like a holiday of the subject of the event that opened the road to the half-NATO, half-gangster quasi-independence, was concluded with Taci's expression of gratitude to William Walker, who "had chosen the side of truth", as Mr. Taci put it. Mr. Walker, the real hero of the event, received a special award, the "Gold Medallion of Humanism" from Taci's hands.