Prague Watchdog has begun to publish fiction.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
modernityblog, writing at the new blog CiF Watch, notes that
Israelis are accused of harvesting the organs of Palestinians, on the basis of no factual evidence and even the author of the piece, Donald Boström, says “But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue.” yet the Guardian and CiF can’t be bothered to question this conspicuous racism.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
August 21, 2009
The Honorable Kenny MacAskill, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
St. Andrew's House
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Dear Mr. Secretary:
Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.
Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of "compassion."
Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man's exercise of "compassion." Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.
Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane; the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years--in some cases a full career--to see justice done.
But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988. You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification--the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.
You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy. Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to "the need for compassion."
You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the back of your hand. You have given Megrahi a "jubilant welcome" in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask, is the justice?
Robert S. Mueller, III
The BBC's Andrei Ostalski analyzes media coverage of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the outbreak of World War II:
Until quite recently, the Soviet press had described Nazi leaders as "outcasts", "moral degenerates", "misfits".
Now the press needed to learn how to describe them respectfully, as the leaders of a friendly state.
Furthermore, Soviet journalists needed to correct their psychological approach to this extremely quickly - Stalin had set 23 August as the absolute deadline for von Ribbentrop's arrival in Moscow for the signing of the pact.
And the Orwell diaries are now covering the events that led up to the start of hostilities on September 1, 1939:
1. Emergency Powers Act passed evidently without much trouble. Contains clauses allowing preventive arrest, search without warrant & trial in camera. But not industrial conscription as yet. [Wireless 6 pm]
2. Moscow airport was decorated with swastikas for Ribbentrop’s arrival. M. Guardian adds that they were screened so as to hide them from the rest of Moscow. Manchester Guardian [h]
Sunday, August 23, 2009
While [Israeli Finance Minister Yuval] Steinitz did not specify his meaning, his comments were possibly a reference to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is set to visit Israel in early September but has rejected calls to condemn the story. "We have a crisis until the Swedish government responds differently," Steinitz said.In another development, the Israeli newspaper Maariv says that the Swedish foreign ministry helped to fund the book which contains the accusations of organ harvesting.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Israeli officials demand that the Swedish government denounce a recent article by a top Swedish newspaper alleging that Israel Defense Forces soldiers kill Palestinian civilians in order to harvest their organs.
On Friday, the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan met with Deputy Foreign Minister of the Scandinavian country and urged his government to issue a denunciation of the article. Deputy Foreign Minister Frank Belfrage emphasized his country's freedom of speech and how it limits the ability of the government to respond to articles in the media.
Dagan rebuffed Belfrage's explanation, saying that in the past the Swedish government responded to similar articles and their reluctance to do so in this case has made it unclear what their stance is.
The stance of the Swedish deputy foreign minister was backed up on Saturday by the country's prime minister.
A Netanyahu aide said that "Israel does not wish to infringe upon the freedom of the press in Sweden. However, as much as the Swedish press is entitled to freedom, the Swedish government should enjoy the freedom of denouncing such reports."
See also: Bildt silent on anti-Semitic article
At Z-Word, Eamonn McDonagh writes about the sentimentalism of the left in its support for the Palestinian cause:
Indeed for the progressive commentariat it is the apparent hopelessness of the Palestinian cause that makes it so appealing. The day the Palestinian leaders start to show serious signs of wanting to make a deal that’s possible to make, that’s the day the progressive commentariat will start looking for another group of exotic people to come over all misty-eyed about, in a well meaning but condescending way.
Friday, August 21, 2009
By Jonas Bernstein
20 August 2009
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin (file photo)
Sunday, August 23, marks the 70th anniversary of the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact - the non-aggression treaty signed in 1939 by Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. The pact included a secret protocol dividing Eastern and Central Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence. Days after it was signed, first German and then Soviet forces invaded Poland.
The anniversary's approach has sparked a debate in Europe. Western governments condemn Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin as two equally murderous variants of totalitarianism. The Russian government calls that comparison a "distortion" of history.
On August 17, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service issued a statement saying it had declassified documents showing that the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the Soviet Union's "only available means of self-defense."
The spy agency's demarche was just the latest in a series of Russian government statements that critics say appear to defend Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and justify actions he took shortly before and during World War II.
In early May, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu introduced legislation in parliament that would make it a crime to deny the Soviet victory in World War II.
Later in May, President Dmitri Medvedev issued a decree setting up a presidential commission to counter what he called attempts to "falsify history."
At a meeting in early July, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe passed a resolution designating August 23 - the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact - as a day of remembrance for the victims of both Stalinism and Nazism.
Russian delegates to the European security body walked out of the meeting, in protest. Russia's Foreign Ministry denounced the OSCE resolution as "an attempt to distort history with political goals," while Russia's parliament called it a "direct insult to the memory of millions" of Soviet soldiers who, in the words of the parliament, "gave their lives for the freedom of Europe from the fascist yoke."
Former independent Russian parliament Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov says what he calls the "official" Russian position on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is "extremely strange."
Ryzhkov asks why today's Russia, which has a democratic constitution and new democratic legitimacy, should justify the division of Europe between Hitler and Stalin.
He says that this view is now included in Russian history text books and has caused "enormous moral damage" to Russia's reputation, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe that were the main victims of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Ryzhkov says the only explanation for the Russian leadership's position on the issue is what he calls "sympathy for Stalin."
Public opinion surveys suggest many ordinary Russians share at least some of their government's views.
A poll conducted by the state-run VTsIOM agency, following the OSCE resolution condemning Stalinism and Nazism, found that 53 percent of the respondents across Russia viewed it negatively, while 11 percent viewed it positively and 21 percent viewed it neutrally. In addition, 59 percent of those polled said the resolution was aimed at undermining Russia's authority in the world and diminishing its contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Dmitry Furman of the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Europe calls the presidential commission to counter what it deems historical falsification an "idiotic undertaking" and a "very bad idea." He also says Stalin's government killed as many, or even more people than Hitler's.
But, given the suffering Russians endured after Hitler turned on Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union, Furman says it is natural that many resist equating Stalinism and Nazism.
Furman says it is "very difficult psychologically" for Russians to put what they see as their "victors" in the Great Patriotic War, as they call World War II, on the same level with the vanquished Nazis.
See also: The anniversary approaches
Thursday, August 20, 2009
På sina håll i Israel har man begärt att vi på ett eller annat sätt skulle ta offentligt avstånd från denna artikel eller t o m ingripa för att förhindra att en sådan artikel skulle kunna publiceras.
Men så fungerar inte vårt land – och skall inte heller göra det
Russia's Ministry of Justice has adopted a ruling by the Supreme Court that flags with crosses will be considered symbols of extremism, and their display will be banned. The ruling effectively outlaws the flags of Georgia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Dominican Republic and Jamaica, as well as those of 15 states within the Russian Federation.
Not strictly speaking a literary topic, perhaps, but in view of our earlier coverage of the issue of anti-Semitism in Norwegian public and intellectual life, it seems at least consistent to mention the outrage that was provoked by a recent article published in the mainstream Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet which repeated accusations against Israel's defence forces, or sections of them, of murdering Palestinians in order to steal their internal organs.
The article appears to reflect a belief that is common among left wing circles in Sweden, and it has been roundly condemned in some quarters, including Svenska Dagbladet, which has also published in one of its blogs a statement disclosing that the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv has sent out a message from Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier reminding the world that "Aftonbladet's cultural page does not speak for all Swedes."
One of the most troubling aspects of the whole affair is possibly the fact that so far Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, has remained silent on the issue, apparently preferring to make no comment.
Update: the Swedish government has distanced itself from the statement by Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier.
The Jerusalem Post comments that the Aftonbladet item
reads more like an opinion article than a straight journalism piece, and it attempts to connect claims he heard in the West Bank in 1992 that Israeli soldiers were illegally removing organs from Palestinians killed in fighting with a campaign for Israeli organ donors, supposed illegal purchases of organs in Israel in the early 2000s, and the recent story of American Levy Izhak Rosenbaum who was accused of illegally trafficking Israeli organs.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The practice of accusing foreign states of "piracy" that is currently so popular among leaders of the Russian Federation seems to have acquired a new adherent. Via Civil Georgia:
Sokhumi will resort to “proportional measures” to protect vessels en route to Abkhazia if Tbilisi continues their detention, Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said in his appeal to UN, EU and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on August 18.
Georgian coast guard detained a Turkish cargo vessel carrying fuel to the breakaway region’s capital Sokhumi on August 17. The Georgian law on occupied territories bans economic activities in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia without Tbilisi’s authorization.
Sergey Bagapsh write in his appeal that the detention of the Turkish cargo vessel was “third case of Georgia’s piracy” this year.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
As the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union approaches (August 23), some news stories:
First, Russia's defence minister announces that most of the hijackers of the Arctic Sea were Estonians. This later becomes eight detainees, of whom four are claimed to be Estonians, two Latvians, and two Russians. The Estonian government issues a statement saying that it received no official notification of the arrest of Estonian nationals from the Russian government, as would be required by the agreement existing between the two countries. Estonia delivers a note to the Russian embassy in Tallinn, requesting clarification.
The Czech government expels two Russian diplomats for suspected espionage. Russia calls it an "unfriendly act", and says it "will not promote development of normal relations between the two countries."
Georgia officially leaves the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent State, or former Soviet Republics, led by Russia).
Monday, August 17, 2009
An interview with Ingushetia's Moscow-backed president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, is being broadcast by Russkaya sluzhba novostei on the day that a suicide bomb attack has killed at least 19 people in the republic's capital, Nazran.
In the interview Yevkurov, who recently left hospital after an an attempt on his life, says among other things:
"I am far from believing that the Arabs are behind all this. There are other forces at work, more serious ones. I have emphasized this in the past, and I say now that the West will do everything it can to prevent Russia reviving as the former Soviet Great Power... We understand whose interests are involved ...those of the United States and Great Britain. Also Israel. This is entirely real."
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Kavkaz-Center's English section is curiously silent about the recent KC attacks on Prague Watchdog - the posts, with their accusations against PW of "Israeli influence" and the like (it's all part of a global conspiracy, apparently), are still only available in Russian.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Kavkaz-Center, the Islamist propaganda site, has started to launch vitriolic attacks on Prague Watchdog, the North Caucasus human rights NGO, over the interview with Dokka Umarov which PW published some time ago. It will be interesting to see if KC publishes its attacks in English as well as Russian, but for the moment only the Russian versions are available.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The website of the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus has published video footage (YouTube) of Moscow-backed Ramzan Kadyrov's second-in-command, Adam Delimkhanov, issuing threats to human rights workers on Grozny TV, 11 days before the execution of Natalya Estemirova, and little over a month before the execution of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Umar Dzhabrailov. In the video, Delimkhanov, speaking in Chechen, says:
There are certain people who call themselves ‘human rights defenders,’ who actually help these militant scum [sic], these criminal-militants, who work for them and do their dirty work, promote their politics,… they carry on various dialogues…, [sic]
But I know the mood among the security services, the society; I know what the simple folk are saying. They’re saying that the claims made by these people [human rights workers], and a certain Aushev and others, in other words, what they’re saying and doing, their evil deeds are no better than those of the militants hiding out in the forest.
These people [human rights activists] are confusing the people with their rhetoric, are deceiving them. But they won’t fool the people. They won’t succeed in this. Truth and justice will always prevail… Our soldiers here, commanders, our guys are always asking me, ‘what do these people (activists) want?’ and I tell them that they’re not worth a penny to me. [sic]
God willing, all those that support evil, we will hold responsible. Each one of them, be they Chechen or Ingush or whom have you, should know, that they will pay for their words…”
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Via the BBC:
The head of a Russian charity and her husband have been found dead in Chechnya a day after their abduction, activists and officials said.
The bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband were found with gunshot wounds in a car boot near the Chechen capital Grozny, the interior ministry said.
Armed men seized the two on Monday from the offices of Ms Sadulayeva's charity, Let's Save the Generation.
The case follows July's abduction and killing of activist Natalia Estemirova.
Ms Sadulayeva and her husband Alek Djabrailov were in their mid-20s and had just got married, reports say.
Their bodies were found in the boot of Mr Djabrailov's car in the Chernorechye suburb of Grozny early on Tuesday, an official at the Chechen prosecutor's office said.
The official, quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency, said the armed kidnappers had been wearing camouflage uniforms.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Writing about Ramzan Kadyrov's Radio Liberty interview, published yesterday, in which he says of Natalya Estemirova, who was kidnapped and murdered less than a month ago, that she "never had any honor or sense of shame", Zoya Svetova says:
Ramzan Kadyrov has thrown down the gauntlet to us.
Are we really not going to notice, and not react?
Meanwhile, an unlikely TV star has appeared in Chechnya.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
A few Russian-language media are beginning to publish reports about the hacking attack against Twitter, Facebook, and other Internet services on August 6, making it clear that the Georgian Internet blogger was attacked for saying that he believed Russia began the conflict of August 2008, and had prepared for it in advance. Some of the Russian-language news reports are also being hacked, like the one below, from RBC Ukraine. The page containing the news is accessible for a few seconds, but is immediately replaced by a blank page:
РБК-Украина 08.08.2009, Лондон 12:54
Атаки хакеров на популярные интернет-ресурсы Twitter и Facebook были направлены против одного пользователя. По сообщению Би-би-си, целью злоумышленников был грузинский юзер "сухуми", известный и в "живом журнале". Атака на его дневники и записи была настолько мощной, что отразилась на сервисах в целом...В своем последнем опубликованном тексте сухуми приводил данные о начале войны, которые, на его взгляд, свидетельствуют о том,что Россия заранее готовила нападение на Грузию. Сам блоггер уверен, что именно Россия стоит за хакерской атакой.
The New York Times quotes Bill Woodcock, research director of The Packet Clearing House, as saying there was evidence that the attacks had originated from Abkhazia, which is now, like South Ossetia, under the Kremlin's control.
Friday, August 07, 2009
The Georgian government has released an official report (pdf) on the events that led up to the Russian invasion of Georgia last year.
Among other things, the report states that
In 2008, the Russian Federation launched a full-scale assault against a sovereign state—its immediate neighbor, Georgia. This incursion, systematically preceded by political and other provocations, was the violent climax of policies pursued by Russia against Georgia over many years. Rather than work to peacefully resolve the conflicts in Georgia, Russia systematically stoked them. Moscow interfered in Georgian politics, supplied separatist militias with arms, ignored its peacekeeping responsibilities, failed to prevent widespread ethnic cleansing of Georgians and, ultimately, sought to annex Georgian territories by means of military force. Russia’s main goals have been to annex Georgian territories, overthrow Georgia’s legitimate government, subvert Georgia’s independence, curtail Georgia’s sovereignty, and send a message to its neighbors and to the West that it is in control of what it calls its “sphere of privileged interest”.
The report also contains a summary (pdf) of Russia's actions in the context of international law, which says that Russia's use of force “constituted an egregious breach of Georgia’s political sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
August 4, 2009
Meeting at its annual summer camp in Seliger, the Kremlin-led youth group, Nashi, decided to establish bands of militia consisting of disadvantaged youngsters armed with stun guns. Under the plan, hundreds of thousands of Putin’s young stormtroopers would patrol Russia’s streets and have the right to check people’s IDs.
The initiative to establish the Russian Militia Association (Vserossiiskaya Assotsiatsiya Druzhin, VAD) comes from Vasily Yakemenko, director of the Federal Agency on Youth Affairs (Rosmolodezh) and former leader of the Nashists. The organisation would be financed from the state budget and receive administrative support from Rosmolodezh.
Igor Kon, psychologist and member of the Russian Academy of Education, expresses grave concern about the initiative. Such organisations are usually established specifically to carry out tasks given by those in power and those who are giving the orders, Mr Kon says. Controlling these rowdy youngsters may, however, be difficult, he warns.
Yevgeni Bunimovich, teacher and member of the Moscow city council from the liberal Yabloko party, compares the Nashist militia project to the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend) of Nazi Germany. The Kremlin is drawing the nation’s troubled youth to the streets to solve its own political problems. Such a project is educationally detrimental and dangerous for the society as a whole, Mr Bunimovich says.
The idiotism of the Nashists is well established, remarks the Russian contemporary writer, Vladimir Sorokin. First they campaigned to exchange “bad books for good ones,” then they brought together 50,000 Santa Clauses in Moscow, he recalls. This latest initiative is yet another act of insanity and evidence of the ruling regime’s paranoia and idiotism, Mr Sorokin says.
Writing in FinRosForum, ex-Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov says that
Russia’s foreign policy failures are snowballing at such a rate that they threaten a second geopolitical collapse on a par with the disintegration of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
In ej.ru, Yulia Latynina writes about the present Georgia crisis:
Events in South Ossetia are unfolding according to exactly the same scenario as one year ago. This scenario is called the "Gleiwitz Radio Station": German troops dressed in Polish uniforms attacked the German station. Then, accusing the Poles of "aggression", Germany attacked Poland "in defence". No sooner had U.S. Vice President Biden left Georgia, where he said that the US would be unable to give Georgia military help, than South Ossetian head Eduard Koikoity accused the US, Israel amd Ukraine of complicity in the genocide of the Ossetian people.
Russia Troops in S.Ossetia on Combat Readiness
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Aug.'09 / 19:12
Russia said on August 4 it had placed its troops in breakaway South Ossetia on alert as Georgia’s “provocations are not stopping” ahead of anniversary of the last year’s war.
”The situation is really alarming,” Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry said in the comments posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
“Provocations from the Georgian side ahead of the anniversary of the last August events are not stopping. In this connection, we have stepped up the combatant readiness of Russian troops and border guards stationed in South Ossetia.”
“We are watching closing development on the Georgian-South Ossetian border. We thoroughly follow statements by the South Ossetian and Georgian representatives, which are of conflicting nature, full of mutual accusations, like it had been often in the past,” Nesterenko said.
He said each case of reported shooting was being studied jointly by the Russian forces and the South Ossetian authorities in order “to establish the truth.”
“Now it is essential not to let the shootouts to escalate and grow into larger clashes,” Nesterenko said.
Tbilisi, Tskhinvali Accuse Each Other of Opening Fire
EU Calls for Restraint over S.Ossetia
EUMM Says No Evidence of Firing towards S.Ossetia
Russia Warns Georgia against 'Provocations'
Tbilisi Denies S.Ossetia Reports on Shooting
EUMM Calls for Restraint Ahead of War Anniversary
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Aug.'09 / 12:27
Georgian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that two grenades were fired in direction of its police post close to the South Ossetian administrative border late on August 3.
One out of two grenades apparently fire from a hand-held grenade-launcher exploded in an immediate proximity to the police post located in the village of Plavismani at 9:30pm local time on August 3, the Georgian Interior Ministry said. No injuries were reported.
The authorities in breakaway South Ossetia reported late last night that three mortar rounds were fired from the Georgian village of Plavismani in direction of the village of Ortev on the South Ossetian side of the administrative border at 10:05pm local time on August 3. These villages are located in the south-east from the breakaway region’s capital, Tskhinvali.
EU Calls for Restraint over S.Ossetia
EUMM Says No Evidence of Firing towards S.Ossetia
Russia Warns Georgia against 'Provocations'
Tbilisi Denies S.Ossetia Reports on Shooting
EUMM Calls for Restraint Ahead of War Anniversary
Monday, August 03, 2009
LJ blogger golovin points out that while the Russian government, like Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, likes to call the guerrilla groups of the North Caucasus "bandits" or "gangsters", what Moscow's forces are really up against in the region are Islamist mujahedin (akin to the Taleban), who now comprise the Chechen resistance movement and, under the leadership of Dokka Umarov, command the support of a fair proportion of the republic's citizens. The fighters' principal aim and goal is the establishment of Sharia law throughout the North Caucasus. Akhmed Zakayev - now supposed to be ready to return to Chechnya and join Kadyrov's regime - no longer represents the Chechen opposition: one look at the Kavkaz Center website is enough to reveal the true nature of that grouping, which is certainly not dead, but is not at all "democratic" or secular. Moscow appears to be blind to this.