Terrorist Attack Outside
US Embassy in Bosnia
By SABINA NIKSIC Associated Press
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina October 28, 2011 (AP)
A man armed with hand grenades and an automatic weapon opened fire outside the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia Friday in what authorities called a terrorist attack. A policeman and the gunman were wounded, but the embassy said none of its employees was hurt.
Sarajevo Mayor Alija Behmen said the gunman “got off a tram with a Kalashnikov and started shooting at the American Embassy.” Witnesses told Bosnian television that the man urged pedestrians to move away, saying he was targeting only the embassy.
He wore a beard and was dressed in an outfit with short pants that reveal his ankles — typical for followers of the conservative Wahhabi branch of Islam.
One police officer guarding the building was wounded before police surrounded the gunman. After a 30-minute standoff, the sound of a single shot echoed and AP video showed the shooter slump to the ground.
Police arrested the wounded man — who one of Bosnia’s three presidents said is a foreigner — and took him away in an ambulance as pedestrians cowered behind buildings and vehicles. Hospital spokeswoman Biljana Jandric told The Associated Press the gunman had a minor wound to his leg, and would spend the night at the hospital before being released into police custody.
State Prosecutor Dubravko Campara identified the shooter as Mevlid Jasarevic, from Novi Pazar, the administrative capital of the southern Serbian region of Sandzak, who was tried in Austria for robbery in 2005.
Campara said Jasarevic had crossed the Serbian border into Bosnia Friday morning. He said Jasarevic had two hand grenades with him when he was arrested and is also currently under investigation by Serbian police, but did not detail why. Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic confirmed his identity and said he is 23 years old. Bosnian TV said Jasarevic is a Wahhabi follower.
The Wahhabis are an extremely conservative branch which is rooted in Saudi Arabia and linked to religious militants in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Western intelligence reports have alleged that the tense, impoverished area of Sandzak, along with Muslim-dominated regions in Bosnia, are rich ground for recruiting so-called “white al-Qaida” — Muslims with Western features who could easily blend into European or U.S. cities and carry out attacks.
The Islamic extremists joined Bosnia’s 1992-95 war for independence. They were largely tolerated by the U.S. and the West because of their opposition to late Serbia’s strongman Slobodan Milosevic’s quest to create “Greater Serbia” out of the former Yugoslav republics.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said several bullets struck the outside wall of the embassy, but that all embassy personnel were safe. She said the wounded police officer had been assigned to protect the embassy. Ambassador Patrick Moon expressed his gratitude for the swift response by the police.
“Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with those who put their lives on the line to protect the embassy,” Nuland told reporters.
Bakir Izetbegovic, one of Bosnia’s three presidents, issued a statement condemning “the terrorist attack on the embassy of the United States.”
“The United States is a proven friend of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Its government and its people supported us in the most difficult moments in our history and nobody has the right to jeopardize our relations,” he said.
Belarus condemns US economic
Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:15pm GMT
MOSCOW Aug 15 (Reuters) – New U.S. sanctions against state-owned enterprises in Belarus are “an act of aggression” and a blow to companies with ties to Russia, the former Soviet republic’s prime minister said on Monday.
The United States imposed sanctions last Thursday against four firms owned or controlled by a company linked to President Alexander Lukashenko in response to his government’s crackdown on the political opposition.
“I believe that this is an act of aggression against the Belarussian people, a blow to the Belarussian economy, especially sectors which are linked to the Russian Federation through cooperation,” Belarussian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said at a meeting in Moscow.
(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski; writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Timothy Heritage)
Slavic Humanists from Libya Appeal…
- 1. Kosovan Muslim who ’shouted Islamic slogans’ before shooting dead two U.S. airmen at Frankfurt airport was an employeeBy Allan HallLast updated at 3:48 AM on 3rd March 2011Lone Kosovan gunman, 21, shot dead soldier and driverKosovan authorities identify suspect as Arif UkaUncle says he was a German-born devout Muslim who worked at the airportTroops had just arrived in Germany from Britain’Too early to say if it is terrorist attack,’ say policeTwo American airmen were shot dead and another left fighting for his life today after a Kosovo Albanian gunman stormed their bus before
opening fire at Germany’s busiest airport where he allegedly worked.Officials said the gunman, identified as Arid Uka, 21, shouted out ‘Islamic slogans’ before opening fire.He gunned down his first victim as the soldier stood in front of the vehicle at Terminal 2 before turning his weapon on the driver as he sat behind the wheel.
The perpetrator is alleged to be from Kosovo, of Albanian ethnicity and 21 years old, according to German media sources. According to news reports, the U.S. forces involved in the attack were on their way to Afghanistan.
New Russian missile to outwit any
defense systems built before 2050
The country is developing a new inter-continental ballistic missile capable of defeating not only any existing defense shields but also those created in the next 40 years.
The rocket is to replace Russia’s Voevoda missile, considered one of the world’s most effective and heaviest pieces.
Created back in the 1970s, Voevoda can carry ten 550-kiloton warheads; its range is 11,000 kilometers.
START-1 stipulated that Russia would have to destroy half of all such rockets. The new strategic arms reduction treaty, however, does not include any clauses forbidding modernization and replacement of old arms.
The revolutionary piece has been developed since 2009. It is expected to be finished by the late 2016.
Russia to completely re-arm
anti-aircraft defense by 2020
Published: 01 December, 2010, 13:13
Edited: 01 December, 2010, 18:24
Russia will completely re-arm its air defense forces by 2020 and the process will start as soon as next year, a military official has said.
Spokesman for the Russian Air Force, Colonel Vladimir Drik, told the ITAR-TASS news agency on Wednesday that apart from S-400 and Pantsir-S, the air- and space-defense troops would receive the newest Russian anti-missile system known under temporary name s-500.
“Starting from 2011 we plan to supply the anti-aircraft missile forces with newest weapons and military hardware in mass quantities and by 2020 we plan to raise the share of such weapons to 100 per cent of the total,” Colonel Drik said.
While describing the S-500 missile system, the military official said that the weapon will be able to take down high-speed targets, including those moving in the stratosphere and on low space orbits.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dedicated part of his annual address to the Federal Assembly to the reform and re-armament of the Russian military forces. In particular, the president said that the military should pay special attention to the strengthening of the national air- and missile-defense. He said that the anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems should be united into one complex that should be able to control space. He also said that the unified complex would be subject to the strategic command.
More on Kosovo organ harvesting from butchered Serbs by a Croat author who was a paid agent of the Hague Tribunal and wants to clear his image. UK based Carl Sudetic now writes:
Belarus shutters OSCE office in Minsk
Sat Jan 1, 2011 1:7AM
Belarus has ordered the closure of the office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the capital Minsk.
“The Belarussian side has taken the decision not to prolong the mandate of the OSCE office in Minsk,” AFP quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh as saying on Friday.
Savinykh said the decision was made because the office’s mandate “had been fulfilled.”
“It needs to be said that this is a conscious decision caused by the lack of objective reasons for retaining an OSCE mission in Belarus,” he added.
Incoming OSCE chair Lithuania and Germany have condemned the move.
In a statement issued on Friday evening, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis also urged Minsk to review the decision.
“Its [OSCE] mandate has not been completed. There is an important job for the OSCE to continue in Belarus,” Azubalis said, as Lithuania geared up to take over the OSCE chairmanship from Kazakhstan through 2011.
The OSCE opened a branch office in Minsk in 1998.
The OSCE branch in Belarus was closed not long after its monitors issued a report about voting irregularities during the recent presidential election.
The Belarus Central Election Commission has declared incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko the winner of the poll.
Editorial Note: Belarus is the most sovereign of all Slavic states and represents a stumbling block to NATO’s eastward expansion. So far, NATO and its political institutions have made significant penetration into south and western Slavic states. The Ukrainian people have decisively put an end to NATO’s ambitions to conquer the eastern Slavs. Repeated EU and CIA attempts to place agents in Belarus and to interfere with that country’s elections have been thwarted many times before. We congratulate the people of Belarus for their resolve and vigour in preserving their precious liberty and autonomy in wake of political and economic pressures and subversion from abroad. We hope that the lessons of Yugoslavia and Kosovo remain a warning for the eastern Slavs in their future elections.
RUSSIAN CRUISE MISSILES TO SYRIA STILL ON TRACK
Russia appears to be moving forward with a large – and controversial – arms sale to Syria despite the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East and stiff opposition from Israel and the West. The deal involves 72 advanced Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles worth some $300 million dollars in total. An agreement for the missiles was reached in 2007, but Russia will not confirm that it has actually delivered any of the missiles yet. Russia’s Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, recently stated that the contract was still “in the implementation stage.” Russian officials also recently denied that the Kremlin had agreed to sell Syria its most advanced MiG-31 fighter aircraft, although Russia’s state arms export corporation has confirmed Syria is receiving MiG-29s, short-range air defense systems and armored vehicles.
In related news, officials in Moscow are concerned that the wave of protests sweeping Arab autocrats from power in the Middle East and North Africa might bode ill for Russia’s arms export business. Some Gulf regimes have been loyal clients of Moscow’s, dating back to the Soviet era. According to Serdyukov, “There is a chance we might lose something… But I hope that the main weapons and military equipment agreements will be fulfilled.” (Defense News February 26, 2011)
Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that China is “investing far greater funds in Russia’s Far East than the Russian Government” and called the imbalance “Beijing’s clear state policy to assimilate new territories.” The newspaper cites an official Xinhua press report on investment in the Russian Far East claiming that Chinese investors have established 34 special Chinese economic zones in Russia’s Amur Oblast, Maritime Kray, Khabarovsk Kray, and the Jewish Autonomous Region, where they have invested a total of $3 billion mostly in resource extraction. Chinese entrepreneurs also hope to open industrial and agricultural zones in Russia, including processing zones, stock raising, construction, timber cutting, and wholesale markets. To oversee the construction and development of China’s industrial and agricultural zones in Russia, the Heilongjiang provincial administration has created a special leading group. The Russian paper reported that in 2011, Moscow’s total transfers to these regions’ – $170 million for Amur Oblast, $74 million for the Jewish Autonomous Region, $234 million for Khabarovsk Kray, and $344 million for Maritime Kray – are under one third China’s investment.
In January 2011, its first month of operation, the Russia-China oil pipeline transported some 1.32 million tons of crude oil from Russia’s far east to China and maintains a daily capacity of 42,000 tons. So far, the pumping facilities have withstood the severe cold and there have been no production accidents, the director of the Mohe administration station told the official China Daily newspaper. According to a bilateral agreement, the 1,000 km long pipeline will transport 15 million tons of crude oil from Russia to China per year from 2011 to 2030. The pipeline, which originates in Skovorodino, Russia runs for 72 km before entering China at Mohe, Heilongjiang, running for another 927 km before terminating in Daqing.
MOSCOW DEMANDS EQUAL ROLE IN EUROPEAN SHIELD…
This past November, Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the design and creation of a European missile defense shield. Now, Russian officials are moving to secure a leading role in the oversight and management of the project. RIA Novosti (January 27) reports that General Nikolai Makarov, Russia’s current Chief of Staff, has already rejected two NATO proposals that would have limited or excluded Russia from at least part of the planning for the still-notional system. In their place, the General has advocated a more hands-on approach, telling the Russia-NATO Council that “the main condition for joint work [on cooperative missile defense] should be the permanent participation of Russian experts in drafting the European missile defense architecture… We want to understand the entire design of this ‘house’, its purpose and cost, and the role Russia will play in it.”
The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee has announced that two large bombs in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan have been defused. According to RIA-Novosti, the bombs – 10 kilograms and 15 kilograms in size and filled with metal shards – were found in Izberbash, a town less than 40 miles from the republic’s capital city of Makhachkala.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has expressed hopes that, after 17 years of negotiations, Russia might finally be admitted into the World Trade Organization this year. The Gulf Daily News reports WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy as saying that Russian accession to the international trading bloc in 2011 is “doable,” and that “the process has been moving on very substantially.” The EU recently backed Russia’s bid, following the Kremlin’s promise to phase out export tariffs on lumber.
A suicide bombing at Domodedovo airport outside Moscow has rocked the Russian capital. The London Telegraph reports that, in the aftermath of the blast, which killed 35 and injured more than 100, authorities are seeking three individuals suspected of involvement in the blast. The three were seen watching the suicide bombing take place at Russia’s busiest airport, and leaving immediately after. In the meantime, a “head of ‘Arab appearance’” has been found at the scene, leading to conjecture that the suicide bomber was from the North Caucasus. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the atrocity.
In the latest move of the unfolding “reset” of relations with Russia, the United States has awarded an exclusive contract to Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport for helicopters intended for Afghanistan’s military. The size and cost of the contract, according to the Wall Street Journal, has not been released publicly, but is expected to include 21 Mi-17 helicopters, including tool kits, spare parts, and testing. The deal has only recently become possible after the U.S. last year lifted sanctions against Rosoboronexport – sanctions imposed for the state arms merchant’s dealings with Iran.
As part of the Kremlin’s efforts to bolster outreach to the country’s swelling Muslim minority (now estimated at some 20 million people), Russian officials have announced plans to launch a television channel directed specifically at Muslims. Radio Free Europe reports that the channel, which is expected to go on the air in February or March, is aimed at counteracting rising neo-nationalist sentiment now spreading across Russia.
The Bangkok Post reports that Russian state oil company Rosneft has signed an agreement with Western energy giant British Petroleum for joint work in the Arctic. The deal is said to involve the exploration and development of Rosneft’s three licensed blocks of the Russian Arctic shelf – a territory that totals 125,000 square kilometers and is believed to hold up to five billion tons of untapped crude. Additional share swaps included in the agreement are reportedly worth about $7.8 billion, and have been backed by both the British and Russian governments.
Following a string of recent international contracts, officials from Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, are expecting to build 30 new nuclear reactors abroad in coming years. In addition to the 28 reactors planned for construction within Russia, reports Reuters, new contracts with India, Turkey, and Vietnam have bolstered export orders by 50 percent in 2011, topping $30 billion.
[Editors' Note: Russia already stands as the world's leading exporter of nuclear technology, responsible for an estimated 40 percent of all such trade. Yet the nuclear power industry in Russia is poised to grow still further, thanks to the prominent place nuclear technology occupies in President Dmitry Medvedev's plans to modernize the country’s economy.]
A new poll conducted among the youth of Dagestan has produced a worrying picture of public sentiment regarding the ongoing conflict in the restive Russian republic – and the role religion should play in society there. The Regnum news agency reports that a recent sociological survey published in the regional journal Nations of Dagestan found that thirty percent of participants, who include members of Dagestan’s universities and police schools, would choose to live under a Muslim-run religious regime. Similarly, more than a third of those polled would not turn in a friend or family member responsible for terrorism to authorities.
President Medvedev has approved a civil nuclear energy pact paving the way for increased technological trade between Russia and Japan, as well as an increase in uranium sales to Tokyo, Gulf Today reports. The deal, originally drawn up in 2009, was intended from the outset to foster joint mining projects in Russia and in third countries. It is expected to yield new contracts totaling as much as $7 billion between Russia and Japan.
A high-speed rail route linking Vladivostok in the Russian Far East to the Chinese border town of Suifenhe is now coming online, BSR Russia reports. Following a test month of operations in December, the new train will soon assume a regular seven-day-a-week schedule, carrying both passengers and postal freight. As many as 900 passengers daily will be ferried by the new rail service, with customs and passport control performed on board.
A prototype of China’s next-generation stealth fighter, the Jian-20, maneuvered along a runway, but initial plans for a test flight were postponed. Officials at the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, the aircraft’s manufacturer, confirmed to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun that the aircraft was a stealth prototype and that high-ranking members of the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission and Air Force officers had arrived to observe the test. A mechanical problem may have caused the abrupt cancellation of the flight test, the newspaper speculated.
[Editor’s Note: Once deployed, the Jian-20 could challenge U.S. air supremacy in the Asia-Pacific. The stealth aircraft, a potential rival to the U.S. F-22 stealth fighter, appears to be making faster-than-expected progress, the Wall Street Journal reports. Vice Admiral David J. Dorsett, director of U.S. naval intelligence, said China was advancing faster than expected in some areas, but could not tell from the Jian-20 pictures when it could be fully tested and operational.]
CSC comment: The technology for the new Chinese aircraft invisible by radar came from the American F-117 shot down over Yugoslavia in 1999. The Americans, so sure in the invisibility of their secretive aircraft, were devastated when their prized aircraft was shot down by Yugoslavia’s air defenses. As China stood by Yugoslavia and opposed NATO’s savage bombing of that sovereign country, the wreckage of the American plane was given to Russian and Chinese experts to examine. In retaliation, the Americans then bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade killing some occupants, provoking millions of Chinese to demonstrate and attack American embassy in Beijing. The seeds of Clinton’s evil policies have made it possible for China to develop its own stealth aircraft and pay back for the murder of Chinese embassy staff in Belgrade. We congratulate China on this historic achievement.
A new pipeline link between Russia and China has come online, ushering in a new era in energy relations between Moscow and Beijing. The Asian Age reports that the 1,000-kilometer pipeline links Siberia to China’s northeastern province of Heilongjang, and will transport as much as 15 million tons of crude oil annually to the PRC from oilfields in Russia’s Far East. The route is a spur on the larger, 4,700-kilometer energy line stretching from Siberia to the Pacific now under construction, via which Moscow plans to export crude to markets in Asia.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin remains widely popular among ordinary Russians, a new poll by the VTSiOM agency has found. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Putin’s popularity has risen from last year’s ranking of 50 percent in the annual survey to 55 percent today, earning him the title of “politician of the year.” President Dmitry Medvedev came in second for the second consecutive year, though he also saw a rise in support (from 33 to 37 percent). According to the same poll, the wildfires that devastated Russia throughout the summer of 2010 were voted the “most important global event.”
Controversial former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in his second corruption trail. Khodorkovsky’s lawyers, reports the Agence France Presse, insist that the verdict is “unjust” and have pledged to appeal, while the United States and other Western powers have voiced their concerns over allegaions of “serious due process violations, and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends.” Khodorkovsky and his former business partner, Platon Lebedev, are already serving eight-year sentences for fraud charges associated with their former energy firm, Yukos. With the new sentence, Khodorkovsky – who at one time was Russia’s richest man – will remain in prison until at least 2017
CSC Urges: STOP THE DOUBLE STANDARD!
While making hay of Russia’s corruptive practices, the United States officials are exacerbating the situation by supporting every crook of Jewish origin who gets into trouble with Russian law. Whenever a Jewish criminal gets into trouble with the Russian legal system, the US wastes no time to promote him as a victim and his Jewish origins are pointed out. Conversely, Jewish criminals sentenced in the US legal system are never identified as Jews and the unsuspecting victims are left to their own devices to discover that the crook who stole their money was indeed Jewish. May we politely point out to you, the reader, a couple of those?
Ivan Boesky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Boesky
Michael Miliken http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Milken
150 years imprisonment and forfeiture of $17.179 billion
Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff (pronounced /ˈmeɪdɒf/; born April 29, 1938) is a former American stock broker, investment advisor, non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, and the admitted operator of what has been described as the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world.
Following extensive negotiations, France and Russian officials have inked a deal involving the purchase of at least two French Mistral-class amphibious warships. The deal, reports the Washington Post, is the first of its kind between Russia and the West, and reflects the larger thaw in relations between Russia and NATO. For France, the sale will prop up its faltering defense industry and provide much-needed labor opportunities for its work force.
A recent visit to India by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has yielded a series of agreements dealing with defense, energy, trade, and cultural exchanges. Reuters reports that the deals include an agreement for the Russian delivery of 250 to 300 supersonic fighter aircraft between 2017 and 2027, the Russian construction of additional nuclear reactors in southern India, and a commitment to increase cooperation in both hydrocarbons and pharmaceuticals. Both countries additionally signed a memorandum of understanding to simplify visa procedures and check “irregular” migration.
CIA GULAGS IN POLAND
US refuses cooperation with Poland’s CIA ‘black site’ probe
The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a request from prosecutors in Warsaw for assistance in the investigation into the alleged CIA prisons in Poland, where captives claim they were tortured.
On 18 March, the Prosecutor’s Office of Appeal in Warsaw filed a motion for legal assistance from the US Department of Justice into the probe.
On 7 October, reports the PAP news agency, the US informed prosecutors that the motion had been rejected on the basis of the international Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and that the U.S. authorities consider the matter “to be closed”.
According to the agreement, a country has the right to refuse to provide legal assistance if the execution of the request would encroach on this country’s security or another interest of this country.
The revelation that the US will not be cooperating with the investigation into the alleged black site, thought to have been in northern Poland near the Szymany air base, comes after a second man followed al-Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in asking prosecutors in Warsaw to look into his case.
“According to the information we have, Abu Zubaydah was one of those people detained and interrogated by the CIA somewhere on the territory of Poland,” Polish lawyer Bartlomiej Jankowski told journalists in the Polish capital earlier this month.
Both Zubaydah and Nashiri are both currently being held at the U.S. military jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Despite denials from former president Aleksander Kwasniewski and former prime minister Leszek Miller that they knew of the CIA activity in Poland, air traffic control in warsaw published a report stating that at least six CIA flights had landed at a disused military air base in northern Poland in 2003.
Two aircraft, a Boeing 737 and a Gulfstream V, were US-registered and previously known to be part of CIA operations. (pg/mg)
Kosovo organ donor ring: the Israeli connection
Most international trafficking rings have involved wealthy Israeli
patients on ‘transplant tours’
guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 December 2010 19.50 GMT
The Israeli market for donor livers has been well-documented. Photograph: Ben Edwards/Getty
It is fitting that the man described as the “fixer” in Kosovo’s alleged organ ring was an Israeli of Turkish descent. Moshe Harel, a fugitive wanted by Interpol in connection with the case, is accused of matching potential donors recruited in Turkey with recipients, many if not all of whom had connections with Israel.
The Israeli market for donor livers has been well-documented, and most international trafficking rings have involved wealthy Israeli patients on so-called “transplant tours”. Organ donation in Israel is low due to concerns in the Orthodox community about the body after death.
Until recently, experts said, Israeli citizens were able to claim partial subsidies from health providers when receiving transplants abroad. The loophole is said to have been recently closed after international pressure.
Only 10% of Israeli adults hold donor cards, compared with more than 30% in most western countries. Israel has launched a scheme in an attempt to increase donor rates, meaning card carriers have the right to priority treatment should they require a transplant.
Last monththe recipients of organs illegally tranplanted in a private hospital in South Africa were described as Israelis. The donors – said to have included children – were Brazilians and Romanians paid $6,000 (£3,869) for a kidney. Netcare of South Africa, which also runs hospitals in Britain, admitted in court to receiving R3.8m (£342,000) from an illegal organ trafficking syndicate. Paul Lewis
Published 01:27 20.12.10
Latest update 01:27 20.12.10
Israeli involved in Kosovo
organ trafficking case
on run from Interpol
Moshe Harel, an Israeli of Turkish
descent, is suspected of being at the
center of a network of organ
traffickers in Kosovo.
By Danna Harman
PARIS – An Israeli is on the run from Interpol after being suspected of being at the center of network of organ traffickers in Kosovo, according to a series of reports in the British Guardian newspaper this week.
Moshe Harel, an Israeli of Turkish descent, is known as “the fixer” of the alleged organ ring, for his suspected role in matching potential donors recruited in Turkey with recipients, many if not all of whom had connections with Israel.
European Union prosecutors recently brought a case against Harel and six others in the district court of Pristina, Kosovo – but both Harel and another suspect, Turkish doctor Yusuf Ercin Sonmez – left the country and have evaded arrest.
According to the documents brought forward in the case, the donors came from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey, lured by false promises of $20,000 compensation. Their organs were transplanted into recipients from Israel, Canada, Germany, Poland and elsewhere.
The police uncovered the network in November 2008, when a tired looking Turkish man – 23-year-old Yilmaz Altun – was picked up by police at the airport in Pristina while awaiting a flight home. When questioned by police, he said he had donated a kidney to a recipient of Israel.
Altun told police that he had been in a hospital alongside a 74-year-old Israeli named Bezalel Shafran – who had paid close to $100,000 for the black-market kidney he hoped would prolong his life.
According to an indictment released this week, the surgery was carried out in the Medicus clinic in a suburb near the Kosovar capital.
According to this classified cable I found on Wikileaks, the European Union has told the Serbian government in no uncertain terms that the only way Serbia can join the EU is to recognize Kosovo. This is totally contrary to the EU and the Tadic regime’s publicly stated assertions that the two issues are not linked.
The truth is that the Serbian government can not continue it’s program of EU integration unless it is willing to recognize, and therefore give-up, Kosovo forever. The fact that Tadic is pursuing EU membership means that his intention is to forfeit Kosovo. The Serbian people need to know the truth because the Tadic regime is misleading them. They need to know that the only way to join the EU is by forfeiting Kosovo forever.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10PARIS207 2010-02-22 14:02 2010-12-06 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Paris
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHFR #0207/01 0531431
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221431Z FEB 10 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8368
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 000207
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL RS GG SR BK AF IR AM FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH MFA ON RUSSIA, BALKANS, AFGHANISTAN, IRAN,
PARIS 00000207 001.2 OF 004
Classified By: Political Counselor Andrew R. Young, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d
¶1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: During separate discussions with OSD
Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs
Alexander Vershbow and EUR Deputy Assistant Secretary Spencer
Boyer in early February, Roland Galharague, MFA
A/S-equivalent for Continental Europe, adopted a defensive
posture about the potential sale of Mistral class ships to
Russia; expressed skepticism about the depth and durability
of Russia’s support for sanctions against Iran; acknowledged
Putin’s dominance in Russia while proposing, as a means to
strengthen Medvedev, that we respond positively to his
proposals for reforming European security and holding an OSCE
summit; asserted that Serbia cannot win back Kosovo and also
win entry into the EU; expressed pessimism about the future
of Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations and about the impact of
instability in Iran on Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Armenia;
and claimed that Bosnia and Afghanistan could become
difficult issues for trans-Atlantic relations this year
because of the USG’s alleged disengagement from Bosnia and
its alleged failure to consult adequately with European NATO
allies on strategy in Afghanistan. END SUMMARY.
MISTRAL: FRENCH ADOPT A DEFENSIVE POSTURE
¶2. (C/NF) When asked about the potential sale of Mistral
class ships to Russia, Galharague inquired as to why the USG
seems to be singling out France for criticism on this issue.
“I recently spoke to my Dutch counterpart,” he reported, “and
he said you have not approached him on this subject” despite
recent Dutch (and Spanish) efforts to make similar sales.
Furthermore, the Mistral is not “top end” military equipment,
Galharague argued, describing it instead as a combination
between “a truck and an oil ship” with some helpful
navigation tools. It will not contribute significantly to
Russian military capabilities. Russian leaders have been
over-selling the military significance of the Mistral in
order to quell domestic opposition to its purchase from
abroad. Some Russians consider the sale a harbinger of the
end of shipbuilding in their country, and claim the ship
could be built at home but would simply take longer. The
production and sale of armaments is a major industry in
Russia, possibly second only to oil and gas. In his February
10 press conference, the Chairman of Russia’s National
Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, seemed “very reticent”
about the possible sale, according to Galharague.
¶4. (C/NF) Asked about Georgia’s reaction to the possible
sale, Galharague insisted that France has maintained “very
good” relations with Tbilisi. The GOF “strategy” for Georgia
to recover its lost territory is to persuade the Tblisi
government to engage with the leaders of the secessionist
territories and to continue on their path toward EU
accession. The demands of accession — such as internal
democratic reforms and good relations with their neighbors –
will serve Georgia and the region well. Nonetheless,
Galharague acknowledged that Tbilisi has good reason to fear
Russia, given their recent history. This ship will not,
however, affect their strategic situation, Galharague argued:
“The Russians have already invaded Georgia without the ship.”
¶5. (C/NF) While acknowledging that Georgia and the Baltic
countries feel threatened by Russia — with reason –
Galharague concluded that Russia is not a threat to us and
there is no reason we should not sell equipment to them which
does not fall into the realm of restricted armaments. The
Mistral class ship does not contain high end or sensitive
technology, he insisted.
RUSSIA’S COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH IRAN
¶6. (C/NF) The Russians are currently benefiting from their
helpful statements on Iran while realizing full well that
China will water down any sanctions proposals, Galharague
asserted. When praising Russia’s new stance, he argued, we
should be cognizant of their complicated relationship with
Iran. Russians have an interest in strong ties with Tehran,
especially because Iran is still a primary market for Russian
arms sales. On the other hand, were Iran to normalize its
relations with western governments, it could develop into a
major Russian rival for gas sales to the European market. To
balance various and competing elements of its relationship
with Iran, Russia has an interest in serving as a
“go-between” in the conflict between Iran and the west. In
fact, Galharague claimed, Russian leaders were furious when
Turkey recently started to seize that mantel.
PARIS 00000207 002.2 OF 004
MEDVEDEV VERSUS PUTIN
¶7. (C/NF) When discussing the comparative influence of
President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, Galharague
claimed that Medvedev, whose initial gut reactions to events
clearly differ from those of Putin, is trying to assemble his
own power bases independent of the former President. In the
meantime, “power still rests with Putin,” Galharague
assessed. Putin, not Medvedev, constantly juggles and
balances competing domestic interests in Russia. As a case
in point, Galharague cited the Russian government’s reaction
to the financial crisis. After the government painstakingly
established a mechanism for determining how to divide
stimulus funds among various economic sectors and private
interests, Putin simply decided unilaterally who would
receive state support. In general, Galharague observed,
Putin much prefers to focus on domestic issues rather than
foreign policy. Putin prefers cutting deals in the murky
Russian business world to delving into the complexities of
STRENGTHEN MEDVEDEV BY RESPONDING TO HIS SECURITY PROPOSAL
¶8. (C/NF) Galharague described the long-standing French
effort to strengthen Medvedev by respecting his official role
as president of Russia, regardless of Putin’s competing power
and influence. “We treat Medvedev as president and address
presidential issues with him.” They also seek to validate
Medvedev’s initiatives, regardless of the substantive
content, in order to reward his efforts to put new ideas
forward. As an important example, Galharague mentioned
Medvedev’s proposal for revamping European security
architecture. Medvedev invested a lot of political capital
in this effort, Galharague argued, and we should provide a
positive response, even if we do not accept the proposals.
For this reason, President Sarkozy sent Medvedev a letter of
acknowledgment after receiving the proposal. Tying this
approach to USG policy toward Russia, Galharague several
times asked how the USG plans to measure the success of the
“reset” with Russia? The French, he said, would like to know
whether the USG has established benchmarks for progress, and
they wonder how START negotiations might fit into this
EUROPEAN SECURITY: GOF SUPPORTS OSCE SUMMIT
¶9. (C/NF) Galharague stated that the French largely agree
with us about how to address questions of European security,
except in one area: they support the idea of an OSCE summit.
While Paris concurs with the USG analysis that the Russian
proposals for reforming Europe’s security institutions
contain a number of “unacceptable” elements, he argued that
we must understand that “we’re playing a game of judo — we
do not want to give the Russians a pretext to claim they’re
being ignored.” He added that the Russians are adept at
manipulation. “We constantly feel like we have a better hand
but they’re playing a better game — it’s the same in
business and economic arenas.” Claims of disrespect by
western nations resonate in Russian domestic politics, to our
detriment, he warned. Therefore, we must emphasize the
positive elements of the Russian proposal and communicate a
sincere willingness to engage. An OSCE summit can help with
these aims, Galharague argued, and at the same time support
the Corfu process. A summit would need to involve at least a
minimum number of substantive issues, such as regional
conflicts or the status of conventional forces in Europe, but
by agreeing to move ahead with the summit we would put the
onus back on Russia.
BALKANS: SERBS CAN’T WIN IN BOTH KOSOVO AND THE EU
¶10. (C/NF) Galharague asked that the USG work together with
the EU to discourage the Serbians from proposing a new U.N.
resolution on Kosovo, stating that Serbian Foreign Minister
Jeremic “seems to believe Serbia can win on Kosovo and win EU
entry. We need to let him know this is not true.” Right
now, Galharague reported, “the Serbs are furious with us (the
French)” in response to the demarche the GOF delivered in
Belgrade in early February (reftel) about Serbia’s possible
plans for a U.N. resolution. “We delivered the message in
very forceful terms.” In fact, the Serbs interpreted the
demarche as a major change in position, Galharague reported.
PARIS 00000207 003.2 OF 004
The EU had thus far maintained the position that the issues
of Kosovo and Serbian entry into the EU were not formally
linked. “There was no formal conditionality,” Galharague
said, adding that the Serbs now understand that to be a
member of the EU they must eventually recognize Kosovo. “We
told them we do not want another Cyprus,” he explained,
referring to Cyprus’ controversial EU accession in 2004 as a
divided island where EU legislation remains partly
“suspended” in the northern part of the island which is
outside of the government in Nicosia’s control. Nonetheless,
Galharague predicted the Serbs will likely go ahead with the
U.N. resolution in any case, and the USG and the EU will be
forced to oppose it.
¶11. (C/NF) Furthermore, Galharague asserted, before the
Serbs join the EU, they will need to resolve key issues with
Kosovo in the fields of justice, police, customs, transport,
agriculture, and also any differences over names and
terminology. The best way for Serbia to address issues
related to Kosovo is by working with the European Union Rule
of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). “At the end of the day,
though,” he reiterated, “Serbia must recognize Kosovo if it
wants to join the EU.”
PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE CAUCASUS
¶12. (C/NF) The Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations appear to be at
a “dead end,” Galharague averred, adding that “Minsk (The
Minsk Group) is going nowhere fast.” He noted that the
French government is not in a position to push the Armenians
at the moment because French citizens of Armenian origin
“represent about 500,000 votes” and French regional elections
will take place in March. Other factors may soon impact the
Caucasus region, he warned, such as instability in Iran.
Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkmenistan all have important
trade and energy ties with Iran and they could be immediately
affected by the Iran sanctions bill currently making its way
through the U.S. Congress. At the same time, the effort to
impose harsher U.N. sanctions may offer us an opportunity to
further engage with those three countries about their
approach to Iran.
FUTURE USG-EU FLASHPOINTS: BOSNIA AND AFGHANISTAN
¶13. (C/NF) When assessing potential issue areas where the
USG and EU may differ during 2010, Galharague focused first
on Bosnia. He said the French are disappointed that the USG
appears to have put all plans and actions on hold pending the
elections in October. Indeed, he implied that U.S. and EU
officials have differing assessments of the need for
continual engagement with the conflicting parties in Bosnia.
Bosnian parties will not make progress without unity between
the U.S. and the EU. When the Americans disengage, even
temporarily, Galharague claimed the Bosnians perceive it
immediately and react accordingly: “The Americans are giving
up, so why should we do this (make compromises)?” The USG,
the Spanish EU presidency, and High Representative Ashton
should lead the charge in engaging this year — “we need U.S.
backing now,” he urged. As a lever to press the Bosnians
forward on constitutional issues, the EU may be able to use
the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which
declared that the Bosnian Constitution does not conform with
European human rights standards.
¶14. (C/NF) Galharague described Afghanistan as the second
potential trans-Atlantic flashpoint in 2010: “There is an
emerging feeling the war is not jointly owned and managed.”
President Obama waited eight months to make a decision and,
during that period, at no point did European opinion factor
into his deliberations, according to Galharague. DAS Boyer
firmly disagreed, citing USG consultations and discussions
with French officials in Paris and in Washington, DC.
Galharague acknowledged these discussions took place, but
claimed the question Americans posed to their European NATO
allies was not “What do you think?” but “How many troops can
you put on the ground?” More recently, he said, the USG has
begun contemplating engagement with elements of the Taliban
without consulting European NATO allies. The French would
like to know, for instance, what this engagement might mean
for our future relations with Pakistan and India.
¶15. (C/NF) In purely political terms, Galharague explained
that Afghanistan has developed into a difficult issue,
especially in France. With the French death toll in
Afghanistan having reached 40, he noted, local politicians
have found themselves increasingly faced with grieving
families, to whom they must explain the purpose of the war.
PARIS 00000207 004.2 OF 004
“The perception is that we’re there because the Americans are
there,” he said. “We’re not sure where we’re going and we’re
not being asked or consulted.” Initially, the majority of
Europeans supported the war in Afghanistan, invoking Article
Five of the NATO Charter and committing a “fairly high”
amount of troops and resources. But now “no one knows the
purpose” of the war. “Perhaps the French government should
have made a better show of the consultations” that did take
place, Galharague admitted, “but to display them you have to
¶16. (C/NF) EMBASSY COMMENT: Galharague is not ultimately
responsible for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which is
handled by a separate cell within the MFA, so his comments
may not reflect the views of those who regularly engage with
the USG on this issue. Notably, when discussing public and
official perceptions of the war in Afghanistan, he made no
mention of SRAP Holbrooke’s two visits to Paris in the last
three months, or post’s constant exchanges about Afghanistan
with French officials at the senior and working levels.
Galharague focused on a perception of minimal consultation,
which he admitted could persist regardless of reality. END
¶17. (U) ASD Vershbow and DAS Boyer have cleared this cable.
by Srdja Trifkovic
WikiLeaks releases have not prompted a major reassessment of the U.S. foreign policy thus far, but the documents are nevertheless helpful in upgrading some tentative conclusions into incontrovertible facts. An interesting case in point is the relationship between Serbia and the United States.
Two months ago I wrote that for some years now President Boris Tadić and his cohorts have been conspiring with their foreign mentors to give up on Kosovo while pretending otherwise, and that they have capitulated to Brussels and Washington on all fronts. The above assessment has now become a “known known” thanks to WikiLeaks: Tadić and his team are acting exactly as described. Particularly noteworthy is a report sent last February 10 by the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade, Mary Worlick, on her conversation with Tadić’s foreign policy advisor Jovan Ratković a week earlier:
Serbia intended to continue its cooperation with the U.S. on sensitive intelligence matters and to increase defense cooperation … The Ambassador conveyed U.S. concerns about indications that Serbia would continue to take a confrontational approach on Kosovo … Dismissing the question of whether Serbia would seek an UNGA resolution calling for new status talks as a ‘mere tactical issue’ Ratkovic said the Presidency was focused on the bigger question … Tadic believes that Serbia cannot remain outside of NATO forever, but doesn’t say this often because of the political sensitivity of the issue.
JOINT CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE – To start with, it is evident that “the Presidency” is violating the constitution of Serbia, adopted in 2006, by usurping the powers to define and execute the country’s security, defense and foreign policies, all of which are explicitly reserved for the Government.
Tadić is also acting in violation of the National Assembly Resolution on Military Neutrality (December 2007), which precludes NATO membership. He is acting contrary to the overwhelming opposition of the people of Serbia to joining an alliance that illegally bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 before amputating a part of its sovereign territory and turning it into a hotbed of organ-harvesting jihadist criminality. He is acting contrary to his own public statements (“Serbia will remain neutral“), while at the same time his aides are providing conspiratorial assurances to the U.S. Ambassador that such words should not be taken seriously: the President is not telling the nation what he really thinks because the issue is so politically sensitive.
Worse still, Tadić is violating his oath of office which pledges him to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, including Kosovo as its integral part. The extent to which he treated the UN General Assembly resolution as a mere “tactical issue“ became obvious on September 10. On that day Serbia effectively surrendered its claim to Kosovo when Tadić arbitrarily altered the text of the draft UN resolution – previously adopted by the Government of Serbia and duly approved by the Assembly – to exclude any mention of Kosovo’s disputed status. He acted unconstitutionally both by usurping the powers not vested in his office and by violating his pledge to defend Serbia’s territorial integrity.
SUPPORTING UNITARY BOSNIA – According to Ambassador Worlick, Ratković reiterated to her that the Serbian government supported the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina “and would not be swayed by what he claimed was the desire of the majority of Republika Srpska residents to secede and merge with Serbia”:
In this context, Serbia also supported BiH’s entry into EU and NATO as a way to stabilize the country and cement the current borders. … He expressed regret that the Butmir process had not produced agreement since many of the elements of the plan were acceptable to all three constituent peoples… As Tadic’s foreign policy advisor, Ratkovic’s comments come closest to reflecting the President’s views and vision on issues across the spectrum.
There is no doubt that those comments do reflect Tadić’s views. Those views are catastrophic for the interests of the Serbian state and Serbian people. The “Butmir process” the failure of which Tadić regrets is a misnomer for a concerted attempt by Hillary Clinton’s deputy James Steinberg, in late 2009, to coerce the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) into self-liquidation. The Bosnian Serbs unsurprisingly rejected the proposals because they would have stripped them of the remaining elements of self-rule guaranteed by the Dayton Agreement. Now we know – and not only suspect, as before – that Tadić is stabbing them in the back, in violation of Serbia’s political pledge and legal obligation to uphold and protect the Dayton Agreement, to which Belgrade is a party.
DENOUNCING RUSSIA – The Russians, long supportive of Serbia’s official position on Kosovo, are likely to take a jaundiced view of the revelation that Tadić and his people are privately denouncing them to the Americans. In discussions detailed in a diplomatic cable marked “secret” and sent to Washington by US chargée d’affaires Jennifer Brush in September 2009, Miki [Miodrag] Rakić, Tadić’s chief of staff, told Brush that General Ratko Mladić is being assisted by “foreign sources” and hints darkly that Moscow may have better information about Mladić’s exact situation than does the Serbian government.
“Russia has not been forthcoming on Serbia’s requests for assistance in locating Hague indictee Mladić, presidential adviser Miki Rakić told us on August 25 ,” says the cable. Tadić is frustrated with the lack of Russian help, his chief of staff added conspiratorially: ”Asking that the information ‘remain at this table’, Rakić told us that he had posed a series of questions about specific contacts between Mladić associates and Russian diplomats, as well as ‘phone calls and trips to Russia by Mladić associates’.”
SERBIA’S BENEDICT ARNOLD – A day before Julian Assange surrendered to the British police last week, the authorities in Serbia announced – unpromted by anyone – that he would be immediately arrested if he came to Belgrade. Back then this gesture, however despicable, looked merely like Tadić’s obsequiousness to his foreign mentors. Now that WikiLeaks have revealed the character of Boris Tadić and the nature of his regime, the President of Serbia has solid personal reasons for wishing Mr. Assange ill.
Larry King Live with Premier Vladimir Putin of Russia
In English (3 parts)
POLLSTERS AND POLITICAL SCIENTISTS CAN NOT MEASURE THIS!
What Slavic peoples treasure in their hearts seems beyond comprehension of ordinary politicians. Football stadiums or ice hockey arenas often reveal more wisdom than country’s legislative assemblies. Take the strained relations between Russia and Belarus as an example. These are not animosities shared by the peoples of those two Slavic states. They are politically manufactured problems that the people on both sides of the border refuse to go along with.
Just how quickly sporting events can become a forum for political expression was evident in the hockey arena of St. Petersburg (Russia), when their local team “SKA” played against “Dynamo” from Minsk (Belarus). “Against” may be the wrong term here, because the Russian spectators regarded their guests as brother Slavs and not as aliens. Many St. Petersburg spectators went to the game to support the visitors, just because they are “nashi” (ours). They also came prepared with a huge banner that stretched from one isle to the next, proclaiming: “Политики нас не поссорят” , which means >The Politicians can not sow discord among us< . The arena quickly roared with “Братья – славяне”! >Brother Slavs< and Minsk fans echoed back: “Спасибо, Питер!” >Thank you St. Petersburg!<
How did the game end? Would you care to guess? Perhaps more important than the score, it ended in tears of joy and nobody counted those. Belarus won 3:2 in overtime. As our eyewitness reports: “I was so happy. And again, I was sitting in a SKA sector and felt fine jumping with joy for Dynamo, if the opponent was some other Russian hockey club I wouldn’t want to do it.”
And here is another anecdote from a Ukrainian angle in Toronto. No such joy to report from that event.
On October 8, 2010, Serhiy Kvit, President of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, gave a lecture on the status of Ukrainian education and aired a lot of chauvinism in the process. When asked if Ukrainian university diplomas are recognized on par in Russia, rather than reply the question, he said angrily: “They think we are their relatives and we think that they are not ours.”
It is obvious that after years of Yushchenko rule and the promotion of Ukrainian Nazi legacy, unwarranted hatred for their Slav neighbours is rampant in that country. Serhiy Kvit seems to say; we hate them even if they love us. State building in Ukraine, though without bloodshed, has not been significantly more successful than in Chechnya. Obsession with hatred in both those places has halted progress. Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism must be purged from Chechnya and Ukraine must be de-nazified in order to bring those two peoples to modernity and progress.
Slovakia plans to withdraw troops from Kosovo
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Defense Ministry says it has proposed to completely withdraw Slovak troops from Kosovo.
The ministry says 140 servicemen now deployed in Kosovo with the NATO-led force should be home by year’s end.
The government and Parliament will have to approve the ministry’s decision.
Ministry spokesman, Richard Sumeghy, said Friday the Kosovo withdrawal will enable the country to send more troops to Afghanistan. He did not say how many more soldiers it wants to send there.
Slovakia currently has some 300 service members with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Migration down from Poland
The number of Poles who leave the country to find a job abroad has decreased, shows a report by the Central Statistical Office.
At the end of 2009, almost 900,000 Poles lived abroad, which is 340,000 less than a year before. According to the Central Statistical Office, Poles decided to stay at home or return to their motherland because of the global recession, which affected Western European states more than Poland.
Last year, the number of Polish immigrants in the EU countries was higher, however, than right after Poland’s accession to the EU. The majority of Poles live in Great Britain, Germany, Ireland and Italy. About three quarters of Polish immigrants spend at least one year abroad. They usually leave Poland to find a better job abroad. (mg)
Battle of Grunwald draws record crowds
Yesterday’s reenactment of the Battle of Grunwald drew record crowds, despite temperatures measuring up to 35 degrees Celsius.
For about an hour almost 2,500 Polish, Lithuanian and Teutonic knights fought on the battlefield. About 150-200,000 people from Poland and from across Europe came to take part in the centerpiece of the commemorations marking the 600th anniversary of the famed battle of 1410. Thousands of spectators applauded the knights who braved the sweltering heat.
“It was so hot we were boiling in the armour, but over 2,000 people made it happen – it was a great battle like it was 600 years ago,” said a participating knight.
The reenactment was followed by rock concerts and a fireworks display. The victorious battle of the Polish and Lithuanian army was one of the largest battles of Medieval Europe and one of the key combats in Poland’s history. (aba/mmj)
Grunwald celebrated in Manhattan
Jagiello Monument in New York. Source: wikipedia.org
New York Poles have celebrated the 600th anniversary of the Grunwald battle in downtown Manhattan.
On Thursday a special concert was held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest 19th century church in the US.
The patriotic programme, prepared by conductor Janusz Sporek, included the performance of the Angelus choir, Paderewski Festival Singers and the Connecticut Chamber Orchestra.
Flowers were laid at the Grunwald Monument in Central Park. The monument of King Wladysalw Jagiello is the work of Polish sculptor Stanislaw Kazimierz Ostrowski, and was sent to the World Expo in New York in 1939.
The sculpture did not return to Poland due to the outbreak of WWII and in 1945 was donated to the city of New York and stands near the Metropolitan Museum.
Celebrations are also planned for July 17, drawn up by Polish history enthusiasts. An honorary guard dressed in 15th century clothes is to stand by the monument in Central Park.
A concert of medieval songs and a lecture on the battle of Grunwald are the highlights of the celebrations, which are also to be attended by members of the Lithuanian minority resident in New York. (ab/jb)
Poland searches for ‘new Poles’
‘But only those who show a big ability to adapt and whose culture is close to ours will be welcome in Poland,’ says minister.
The government wants to open Polish borders next year for thousands of immigrants, who are supposed to make up for the demographic crisis in Poland.
The “Dziennik” daily claims that the welcomed immigrants will be Slavs from behind the Eastern border. The final decision won’t be made till the end of the year, but the new immigration policy is taking shape already. A special team close to the PM is working out the criteria which the “candidates for new Poles” will have to fulfill.
The government is working on an immigration policy bill, which Sejm should pass next year. “Only those who show a big ability to adapt and whose culture is close to ours will be welcome in Poland,” says Janusz Grzyb, deputy head of immigration policy at the Ministry of Labour. “I mean Ukrainians, Belorussians and Russians,” adds Mr. Grzyb.
It is for citizens of these countries that the government plans to introduce a programme of inducements to make them move to Poland. Among those considered are the possibility to study by preferential rules, on condition that one stays in Poland, making welfare apartments available, help with finding employment and launching low interest loans.
But how to let in only the Slav immigrants and not Africans, Asians or Arabs? The government experts are analyzing how this issue was handled by Canadians, Australians and some EU member countries. “We don’t want to repeat the mistakes made by the Germans with the Turks or by the French with the Arabs,” says Mr. Grzyb. The Polish authorities like the Austrian idea of introducing an exam in “values”, which are believed in by the candidate for an immigrant.
“Dziennik” reports that Poland will probably introduce a system awarding points for knowing the Polish language and history and for ethnic ties with Poland. Young people may also be preferred, because they may quickly have children in Poland. Another criterion, but not necessarily the most important one, could be job qualifications.
As a NATO member and the heir to the Ottoman Empire that fought several wars against Imperial Russia, Turkey has long been considered a historic rival of the Russian state. However, budding economic ties are dramatically changing the once-contentious relationship between the two countries. In 2008, Russia became Turkey’s largest trading partner, beating out Germany. Bilateral trade is expected to eclipse $40 billion by year’s end, and Turkey now imports over two-thirds of its natural gas needs from Russia while Russian exports make up twenty percent of its imported oil.
The evolving strategic partnership between Russia and China has hit a new hurdle: intellectual property. Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye reports that “the export of Russian products for military purposes… to China during the past five years has steadily declined — from 43% of the aggregate volume of deliveries in 2004 to 12%” in 2009. The culprit, according to the military newspaper, is China’s aggressive “cloning” of Russian weapons – a trend that is continuing despite a bilateral agreement to safeguard intellectual property, and which threatens to undermine the arms trade between the two countries.
China and Russia have agreed to use their own currencies – the Renminbi and the Ruble, respectively – rather than the U.S. dollar to conduct bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in St. Petersburg. Wen and Putin signed 12 cooperation agreements on energy, aviation, railroad construction, customs, protecting intellectual property, and culture. The Renminbi has already started trading against the Ruble in the Chinese interbank market and will soon trade against the Ruble in Russia as well, Putin said. The two countries have been accustomed to using foreign currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade but since the financial crisis decided to move towards bilateral convertibility. Both sides also agreed that Sino-Russian relations had “reached an unprecedented level” and pledged that two countries will “never become each other’s enemy.” In comments carried by the official People’s Daily, Wen said: “China will support the renaissance of Russia as a great power.”
Following extensive talks in Lisbon, Russia and NATO have reached an agreement to strengthen mutual ties through missile defense cooperation. Russian officials have additionally agreed to allow the passage of non-lethal NATO supplies through its territory in support of ongoing Coalition operations in Afghanistan, reports CNN. Officials from the two sides plan to further expand cooperation in counter narcotics, nuclear nonproliferation, counter piracy, counterterrorism, and disaster response.
During their panicked retreat in Georgia’s suicidal war of 2008, the Georgian commanders abandoned all their foreign supplied military equipment and laptops containing all the military secrets of their country to the victorious Russian soldiers pursuing them. Saakashvili regime is distrusted by its people as a foreign plant and source of all the misery in Georgia.
Interfax News Agency reports that in meeting to discuss the development of the gas industry through the year 2030, Russian Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko said Russia is “proceeding from the understanding that China will take in any volume of gas that we will be able to supply to it.” China’s gas consumption has increased by 8.5 percent on an annual basis over the last nine years and the country will need 200 billion cubic meters of gas per year by 2015. At the end of September, Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) inked a document titled “Expanding the main conditions for delivering natural gas from Russia to China.” It covers key commercial aspects of shipments of Russian gas to the Chinese market, including volumes and timeframe. The signing of an export contract is expected in mid-2011, and shipments are slated to begin end-2015. It is expected to be a 30-year contract for annual delivery of 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year, Russia’s Interfax News Agency reports.
As part of an ongoing thaw in relations with Russia, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is contemplating a new transportation route using Russia’s Siberian railways. The new route, reports Japan Today, would reduce travel time and costs, and more importantly, offers greater security for uranium transport – a possibility that is especially attractive to Tokyo following July’s suspected terrorist attack on a Japanese crude oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
Russian and Japanese officials have agreed to pursue negotiations to resolve a territorial dispute originating in the years following World War II, RIA Novosti reports. The Soviet Union annexed the Kuriles, a group of four islands off the coast of Japan, in 1945. The annexation was never formally recognized by the Japanese, but it was agreed upon with Allies at Yalta and Moscow has claimed sovereignty over the island chain since.
Now, however, both sides have recommitted themselves to negotiations over the disputed territories, with the ultimate goal of hammering out a formal peace treaty amenable to both Moscow and Tokyo. “Both sides confirmed their intentions to continue dialogue to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the peace treaty issue,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed in a formal statement.
Is Russia positioning itself as the major energy supplier for neighboring China? According to the Associated Press, Russia and China have signed a raft of new agreements expanding bilateral energy cooperation during President Medvedev’s visit to Beijing. The move comes as part of growing Russian efforts to become an indispensable source of fuel for the PRC. Officials in Moscow have declared that “Russia is ready to meet China’s full demand in gas,” and state natural gas concern Gazprom estimates that it will begin supplying China with as much as 30 million cubic meters of natural gas annually by mid-decade. For their part, Chinese officials have welcomed the growing ties, with Chinese premier Hu Jintao calling it the dawn of a “new era” in relations between Moscow and Beijing.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently visited several African nations to offer the Kremlin’s support for the continent’s burgeoning energy and economic potential. According to Pravda, Moscow has made clear its interest in investing in the energy and industrial markets in Africa, provided there is an improvement in the region’s security. As part of his diplomatic tour, President Medvedev visited Namibia, Angola, and finally Nigeria, where he discussed a potential $2.5 billion gas production and exploration deal with his Nigerian counterpart.
Russia’s state railway company has reinstated a regular transit route to France abandoned since Tsarist times. The route, the St. Petersburg Times reports, will run from Belorussky Station in Moscow to Nice, France, and total roughly 50 hours. Fares for the voyage will range from $400 to $1,600 on the 12-carriage train, which will travel through Smolensk, Minsk, Warsaw, Vienna, Milan and Genoa on its trek.
Russian scientists have used a plan from the 1970s to create a fleet of floating nuclear power stations capable of operating in the extreme conditions of the Arctic. According to the BBC, the stations – once operational – will float miles offshore, and will be capable of supplying heat and electricity for as many as 45,000 people at a time for up to 12 years before requiring maintenance back in St. Petersburg.
Strongly worded calls to guard Siberia’s resources from export to China and against Chinese immigration are finding voice in the mainstream Russian press. One recent article, entitled “China’s Quiet Expansion,” that appeared in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, directly challenged the current Sino-Russian approach enshrined in the September 2009, “Program of Cooperation Between Regions of the Far East and Eastern Siberia of the Russian Federation and the Northeast of the PRC (2009-2018),” calling it a “colonial format.” It said: “Russians extract timber, copper, tin, lead, titanium and other resources, while the processing and manufacturing production will be developed in China. First, resources will be plundered, the local population will be edged out, and the area will gradually be settled by Chinese. China is quick penetration into all corners of our vast land with their goods, exporting Russian raw materials and creating their own development centers. For the sake of supplying electrical energy to China, thousands of hectares of fertile lands will be ruined by coal strip-mines and dumps. Which would be accompanied by the full array of land, water and atmosphere contamination as well as contribute to global climate change.”
Russian military counterintelligence officers in Irkutsk, Siberia have captured a Chinese citizen they accuse of illegally acquiring firearms from the Russian military for export to China. In the guise of a collector of Soviet memorabilia, the 49-year old man “sought to establish an undercover supply network delivering weapons abroad using criminal ties at the Chinese customs.” He was taken into custody after illegally purchasing a pistol for about $500 and agreeing to buy 20 AK-47 assault rifles from Russian military officers working for counterintelligence, Russia’s Interfax news agency reports.
Under pressure from declining birth rates and an aging population, local authorities in Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin, have declared a Day of Conception holiday. Not only are local employees given the day off, reports Channel 4 News, but if women give birth to a baby exactly nine months later, on June 12th (Russia Day), they have the chance to win “money, video cameras, televisions, even a fridge.” The new holiday is the latest official Russian effort to address the country’s languishing birth rate, with the typical Russian woman averaging just 1.41 children in her child-bearing years – far below the 2.1 “replenishment” rate needed to maintain the size of Russia’s population.
Russian officials have renewed their push for an improved and revised framework for European regional security. According to RIA-Novosti, the basic guidelines for the new treaty have been drafted, and now require only the formal legal backing of all European states. Russian officials have pressed for the new agreement as a way to grant more power to national legislatures and political parties to govern international politics and ensure security, and for the treaty to involve all European countries, regardless of current political and military blocs. President Medvedev has argued that the 2008 Russian-Georgian war showed the need for a new European security architecture by highlighting the “inability of all existing international bodies to handle a real crisis within European bodies.”
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent visit to Azerbaijan has yielded another agreement between Gazprom and Azerbaijani state energy company SOCAR. The third such agreement in the last year between Azerbaijan and Russia, the deal provides for a doubling of Russian gas imports from their current rate of 1 billion cubic meters annually, reports oilprice.com. Some experts have raised the possibility that the move is a Russian tactic to destabilize the planned Nabucco pipeline, which would bypass Russian territory entirely and depend heavily on Azerbaijani oil supplies. Both Russian and Azerbaijani officials have denied the charge.
Direct trading of China’s currency, the Yuan, with Russia’s ruble is scheduled to start before the end of this year, Xinhua reports. While visiting Moscow in March this year, China’s Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng suggested direct currency trading with the ruble begin as soon as possible. “Since then, China and Russia held discussions on this issue and reached agreement expeditiously.” When completed this agreement would mark the first time China’s has allowed foreign nationals to conduct unrestricted Yuan trading in their own country, a major step towards the strengthening of the role of the currency as a regional unit of trade.
In April 2009 China and Russia both publicly urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to study the “creation of strong regional currencies and to use them as the basis for a new reserve currency,” Reuters reported.
After nearly four decades of negotiation, Russian and Norwegian officials have reached agreement on a final delineation of disputed Arctic maritime borders between the two countries, Reuters reports. A final signing ceremony is expected on September 15, and will resolve a dispute involving 175,000 square kilometers in the Barents Sea. Experts believe that the agreement could provide new opportunities for offshore exploration in the oil- and gas-rich areas of the Arctic.
Though he has consistently refused to discuss his intentions regarding Russia’s 2012 presidential election, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recent comments seem to hint at a possible return to the country’s highest office. The New York Times reports that, when questioned by a reporter about whether a third presidential term would damage Russia’s political system, Mr. Putin countered by pointing out that U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected for four terms, as permitted by the Constitution at the time. According to the Russian Constitution, Mr. Putin was only barred from serving for more than two consecutive terms, and so may technically return in 2012.
Russia’s state-owned energy firm Gazprom could complete a natural gas pipeline to China before the long-planned South Stream pipeline comes online. New Europe, citing the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, reports that the Russian Energy Ministry’s latest “gas sector development” blueprint includes plans to build the 1,700 proposed Altai pipeline from Russia to China between 2015 and 2018. If realized, the timeframe would render the pipeline – negotiations for which have been underway between Moscow and Beijing for the last decade – operational some six years ahead of the South Stream pipeline also being erected by Moscow.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is in Beijing expanding economic, political and military ties with China. Ukraine expects to attract $15 billion in Chinese investment in shipbuilding, development of seaports, roads and road infrastructure. “During the reign of the ‘Orange team,’ led by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrainian-Sino relations had come to a standstill,” the official China Daily reports. By contrast, on the eve of Yanukovych’s visit, Ukraine agreed to jointly develop gas fields offshore in the Black Sea with China. Both sides also pledged military-industrial cooperation. For instance, Ukraine wants to build the engines for the Chinese made L-15 training aircraft, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Mykhaylo Yezhel said. “We have capacities for the licensed production of Chinese L-15 aircraft,” Yezhel said in comments carried by the Russia’s Interfax-AVN military news agency.
Russian Premier Vladimir Putin has cut the ribbon on Russia’s 4,857 km Eastern Siberia- Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline system which extends to the border with China. Putin said the pipeline “cemented the Russia-China energy partnership.” “There is great work for Chinese friends in store,” Putin said. “They have to lay down 930 km of pipeline – all these are highly technological operations. But I’m quite sure that Russian oil will flow to China this year.” The pipeline is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels (220,000 tons) of crude per day from Eastern Siberia to the Far East and then on to China and the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing had wanted the ESPO pipeline to go directly to China, and then on to other countries. But to avoid becoming hostage to single buyer Moscow extended the ESPO to its Pacific coast and built a spur to China, the Press Trust of India reports. Russia had been exporting crude to China via railway tankers.
China and Russia will work together to build a commercial fast breeder nuclear reactor, the head of Rosatom, Russia’s Nuclear Energy State Corporation, Sergei Kiriyenko told Russia’s state news agency ITAR-TASS. Kiriyenko said that in July, China launched an experimental fast breeder reactor built with Russian equipment, scientific expertise and technical support. He said the parties also agreed “to build another two experimental fast breeder BN-800 reactors,” each with the capacity of 800 MW. “We’ve ended the exploratory design and now we’re starting the next stage. We hope that we’ll be able to sign the technical contract by November,” Kiriyenko said while on a trip to China. Putin also voiced support for Sino-Russian nuclear power cooperation: “Russia is China’s main partner in peaceful uses of nuclear energy [and] deliveries of nuclear equipment run into billions of dollars,” he said.
Ukraine and China sign agreement on development of Black Sea oil and gas shelf
Aug 27 at 17:05 | Interfax-Ukraine
Ukraine and China have signed an agreement on the joint development of the Black Sea oil and gas shelf, the press service of the Regions Party reported on Friday, August 27.
“On the eve of the state visit by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to China, a Ukraine-China agreement on the joint development of the Black Sea oil and gas shelf was signed in Kyiv,” the statement from the Regions Party reads.
According to MP Valeriy Konovaliuk, the value of the project will be about $200 million.
“And this is only the start of the realization of our large-scale bilateral projects,” he said.
Russian oil titan OAO Rosneft is in talks to secure what will become one of the largest purchases of assets in Western Europe by a Russian state-controlled energy company. According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposed deal involves stakes in four German refineries, as well as a 50 percent share in Ruhr Oel GmbH, currently owned by a Venezuelan state-owned oil company. The deal, which carries an estimated value of $2 billion, is said to be close to completion.
A new shortcut through the Arctic could save Russian gas companies as much as $1 million per tanker in fuel costs between Russia and East Asia. The new Arctic Sea route is nearly twice as fast as its Suez Canal alternative, reports The Hindu, and has now been declared safe for vessels over 110,000 tons. Current plans for the new route are limited to the four summer months, but should global climate change cause further melting of the Polar icecaps, the route may be open for longer periods of time. If the waterway becomes popular, Russia will have one of the most lucrative trading routes in the region within its territorial waters, as well as control of the world’s only fleet of nuclear icebreakers.
As the struggle for power continues among the factions of the Caucasus Emirate, reconciliation efforts have been stalled by the recent murder of Dagestani “amir” Seifullah Gubdenskii. Gubdenskii, one of the main supporters of current CE leader Doku Umarov, released his own “audio declaration” days after four key CE figures denounced Umarov and broke from the Islamist organization, writes Russian scholar Gordon Hahn in the Monterey Institute’s Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report. Gubdenskii called for the four rebels to end their opposition and rejoin the CE’s ranks. Additional statements of support for Umarov were released across the Caucasus within days of Gubdenskii’s, but his death leaves Umarov without a key supporter, and Dagestan without a regional leader.
The member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – have entered the second stage of coordinated antiterrorism exercises in Russia’s southern Saratov Region. The Trend news agency reports that the drills began with simulated “operational and investigative activities” against a theoretical terrorist group. The second and final stage of the exercises incorporate active maneuvers intended to “organize cooperation of national antiterrorism centers, special services and law enforcement bodies of the SCO member states to implement a complex of measures in order to prevent acts of terrorism in crowded places.”
The Russian agricultural agency has announced losses totaling as much as $1 billion as a result of this summer’s droughts. Up to 26 percent of the year’s harvest was destroyed by recent acute water shortages, reports NewsCore, provoking a ban on wheat exports by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. So far, Russian farmers have harvested 40.7 million tons of grain, down from 58.5 million tons at the same time last year. According to agriculture officials, consumers can expect to see price hikes as high as 60 percent in the coming year as a result.
Magomedali Vagabov, a top Chechen rebel leader and the mastermind of the March Moscow Metro bombings, has reportedly been killed by Russian security forces. United Press International reports that Russian officials have announced five militants, including Magomedali, the alleged second-in-command to Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov, were killed in a raid by security forces in the Dagestani city of Gunib.
First Russian gas tanker forges Arctic passage to China
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Aug 25, 2010
A Russian gas tanker is this month making a historic voyage across the famed Northeast passage as receding ice opens up an elusive trade route from Asia to the West sought for centuries by explorers.
The 114,564-tonne tanker Baltica, escorted by the world’s two most powerful nuclear ice breakers, sailed from Russia’s northernmost port of Murmansk on August 14.
The largest vessel to ever navigate once-impassable route, the Baltica is due to deliver its cargo of gas condensate to China in the first weeks of September.
Russian television has shown the tanker making cautious progress through chunky sheets of ice in the wake of the steel-rimmed ice breakers, as a polar bear loped across ice floes within shouting distance of the ships.
“Never before has a ship of this size passed via the Northeast sea passage,” said Captain Alexander Nikiforov in an interview with Russian channel NTV.
The trailblazing voyage by Russian state-owned shipping giant Sovcomflot is the latest Kremlin bid to mark out its stake over the energy-rich Arctic, where retreating ice cover amid global warming is opening new strategic trade routes.
Russia hopes to make the Arctic route a competitor to the Suez Canal and increase cargo traffic along its Siberian coast from two million tonne a year now to 30 million tonnes — profiting off taxes and the lease of its unique fleet of nuclear ice breakers.
The Northeast passage is tens of thousands of kilometres shorter than existing routes, stretching 13,000 kilometres along Russian shores to Asia compared to the 22,000-kilometres passage via the Suez Canal, Sovcomflot said.
“The aim of the voyage is to determine the feasibility of delivering energy on a regular, economically viable and safe basis along the Northern Sea Route from the Barents and Kara Seas to the markets of Southeast Asia,” Sovcomflot said in statement.
But mariners admit many obstacles remain before Russia’s shipping route might steal business from established southern thoroughfares — not least because of a summer that lasts just a few weeks.
Sovcomflot said it must find new deep-water routes to steer heavy tankers through the perilous coastal waters and contend with free-floating icebergs that make the route hard to time and unreliable.
“The summer in Arctic waters lasts 2-2.5 months. It’s winter the rest of the time,” chief engineer Boris Abakhov told NTV, bundled in a parka and wool hat aboard the mighty ice-breaker Rossiya.
As the tanker neared the most precarious stretch of its journey — via the Vilkitsky Strait, leading around Siberia’s northernmost tip — mariners floated a wreath in memory of sailors who died in the icy waters, television showed.
The shallow, ice-choked strait, named after Russian explorer Boris Vilkitsky who mapped it in 1913, separates the Kara Sea from the Laptev Sea about halfway along the Siberian coastline.
In 1553, the British adventurer Sir Hugh Willoughby perished with his crew in the Arctic waters on an expedition to discover a northern route to China.
While Russia has long shipped small cargo along its sprawling Arctic shores, two German cargo ships made the first commercial trip last summer from South Korea to the Netherlands even as UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned the Arctic may be ice-less as soon as 2037.
Since a Russian expedition planted a flag at the North Pole in 2007, the five Arctic nations — Russia, the United States, Norway, Denmark and Canada — have grown more vocal in their competing claims over swaths of the energy-rich territory.
Russia to build China link by 2018
Moscow (UPI) Aug 25, 2010 – Russian energy giant Gazprom may build a natural gas pipeline from Russia to China before it completes South Stream. The 1,700-mile Altai pipeline to China is to be built between 2015 and 2018, while the launch of South Stream isn’t planned until 2015-24, Russian business daily Vedomosti reports. The newspaper cites from the latest draft of a gas sector development plan drafted by the Russian Energy Ministry, which will submit the paper to the government by the end of this month, Vedomosti quoted a ministry official as saying.
South Stream is intended to move 2.2 trillion cubic feet of gas per year from Russia under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then to Western Europe. Several European governments and companies, including Italian utility Eni, back South Stream. Plans for a pipeline to China date back almost a decade but the realization has been delayed by the difficult nature of the price negotiations between Moscow and Beijing. Well aware of the European plan to diversify its gas imports to become less dependent on Russia, Moscow would like to sell its gas to China for Western prices. Naturally, China refuses that. The row is set to continue and could delay the Altai pipeline further, observers say.
Some of them have questioned the pipeline’s merit altogether at a time when China seems to be turning to Central Asia for its energy supplies. Beijing has courted Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan for major gas and oil projects and in several instances managed to grab stakes in key fields. Due to its seemingly unlimited cash reserves, China was able to complete within three years a 1,100-mile pipeline from Turkmenistan to China. Gas deliveries started this year. The Altai pipeline has also come under fire from environmental organizations because it runs through the Ukok Plateau, a natural habitat of the snow leopard and other endangered species.
South Stream as well as Nord Stream under the Baltic Sea were jump-started in a bid to bypass transit countries such as Ukraine and deliver Russian gas unilaterally to Europe, and at the same time secure Russia’s prominent position as Europe’s main gas supplier. Russia pushed South Stream even stringer when Europe launched Nabucco, a competitor pipeline. The proposed 2,500-mile pipeline would stretch from Azerbaijan to Austria via Turkey and is aimed at breaking the Russian domination of gas import routes to Europe. Nabucco would be designed to carry 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year to Europe.
As part of its ongoing efforts to expand its presence in the post-Soviet space, the Kremlin may soon begin to supply power to Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to Bloomberg, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently discussed the proposal with his counterparts from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan at a regional summit. The current plan entails the transmission lines required to supply Pakistan and Afghanistan being built by Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The overall electricity project, known as CASA-1000, while still in its early stages, is supported by the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank.
July 20:June 27:
The Russian government is planning a major expansion of its defense acquisitions. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced that its budget for arms purchases could increase by about half, to $656 billion, this decade. Current Kremlin defense acquisition plans call for Russia to purchase “70 fifth-generation fighter jets, 20 Ruslan heavy-lift cargo aircraft and 1,000 helicopters” between 2011 and 2020.
For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian arms exports are expected to total more than $9 billion for the year. That revenue dwarfs the $8.5 billion reaped by Russia from arms sales in 2009, according to Reuters. Among the notable deals expected this year is the provision of nearly 100 battle tanks for Venezuela.
Russian and Bulgarian officials have signed a deal to fast-track construction of the South Stream pipeline across Bulgarian territory. Reuters reports that, once built, the energy route could transfer up to 63 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually to central and southern Europe. Designed to bypass Ukraine, the project was delayed a year by Bulgarian officials, until Moscow agreed to lower gas prices for Bulgaria. The portion of the line that runs through Bulgarian territory will reportedly be a 50/50 joint venture between the two states, with the official deal expected by February of 2011. Current plans project the pipeline to be operational by 2015.
Moscow and Beijing are seeking new levels of military cooperation in the missile defense arena. United Press International reports that a draft agreement on upgraded Sino-Russian military ties has been submitted to the State Duma for approval. If approved, the deal would “create a mechanism for cooperative, bilateral notifications of ballistic missile and carrier rocket launches.” The pact was originally signed by Russian and Chinese leaders in October 2009.
Russia is continuing to press for a relaxation of visa requirements for travel to Europe. Itar-TASS reports that, at a recent meeting of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov drew “special attention to the need to liberalize visa procedures,” based upon the belief that “free travel is a necessary part of cooperation within the OSCE.” Moscow, moreover, is leading by example; in recent months, the Kremlin has eased restrictions on visa procedures for travelers from the European Union and the former Soviet bloc states.
The longstanding territorial dispute between Russia and Japan over the Southern Kurils may be inching toward resolution. Japan Today reports that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to “seek progress” in resolving the dispute, while Prime Minister Kan called the resolution “the ardent wish of the Japanese people.” Japan seeks the return of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and Habomai, all four islands currently under Russian control.
Polish and Russian justice officials have also taken another step toward greater legal cooperation between their countries. It was agreed, reports New Europe, that within the next two weeks, a plan will be drafted for legal cooperation between the Polish and Russian ministries for the years 2010-2012. The Russian justice minister reportedly sees the agreement as an opportunity for “further cooperation between the ministries.”
China is using Russian know-how to develop and build its next generation fighter aircraft, Aleksandr Fomin, first deputy head of Russia’s Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service, said on the sidelines of the Farnborough air show in England. “It is a fact. We handed over a large amount of know-how to China. It is not surprising that it repeats itself in Chinese products,” he said. Fomin also said that Russia did not deliver China its most sophisticated fighter, the Su-33. “If our Chinese partners have them, they were not received from Russian sources,” Fomin said. “We have an agreement on the protection of intellectual property rights. If we uncover copyright violations, we will deal with this within the framework of the agreement,” he warned in comments carried by Russia’s Interfax News Agency.
Russian authorities have announced the arrest of six would-be female suicide bombers in the southern region of Dagestan, near Chechnya. The area, reports the New York Times, was the home of the two suicide bombers responsible for the attacks on the Moscow metro this past March. The women arrested ranged in age from 15 to 29 years old, and four were reportedly widows who had lost husbands in “security operations” carried out by the Russian state. All had written “farewell letters” as they prepared for their missions, and were found in possession of suicide belts and weaponry.
The Kremlin is reiterating its opposition to weapons in space – and to qualitative improvements to American missile defense. “We stand against unilateral approaches to missile defense issues and against the placement of weapons in space,” RIA-Novosti reports Russian President Dmitry Medvedev telling a recent meeting of Russian ambassadors in Moscow. The declaration is a restatement of Moscow’s longstanding opposition to America’s placement of weapons in space, including the potential deployment of space-based missile defenses briefly contemplated by the Bush administration. Two years ago, as part of its opposition, Russia teamed with China to propose an international treaty limiting the potential uses of space for weapons staging of any kind. That diplomatic effort, however, has not gained significant traction to date.
ICJ Ruling: Blow to Serbia,
Boon to Tadić
By Srdja Trifkovic
RUSSIA’S ENCIRCLEMENT CONTINUES
Just after Russia and China agreed to new sanctions against Iran, the United States announces a new super modern military base on the border of the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. Not to mean that they are not inside former Soviet Republics already. Out of the 15 Soviet republics, three are already in NATO
NEW U.S. BASE IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN?
The U.S. is planning to build a sprawling Special Forces base in northern Afghanistan near Mazar-i-Sharif at a cost of up to $100 million. According to the Federal Business Opportunities website (FBO.gov) the U.S. Defense Department would like a contract to construct the base signed by September of this year, making it operational by late 2011 or early 2012. The 17-acre site is just 35 miles from the Uzbek border. The proposed base is part of a larger plan by CENTCOM to spend up to $3.8 billion on construction work across the Middle East and Central Asia, including border posts in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as training facilities in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. (Eurasia Review, July 8, 2010)
Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service has released a report indicating that the number of unemployed in Russia has decreased by 14 percent over the past year. Of the total working population of 75.8 million, according to MENAFN.com, 5.6 million were unemployed as of May 2010, compared to 6.5 million in May 2009. The report also noticed a decrease in the unemployment level “calculated as the ratio of the number of unemployed to the number of economically active,” from 8.5 percent to 7.2 percent in the same period.
Russian diplomats are scrambling to do damage control with their Chinese counterparts after reports surfaced that the Kremlin might issue a visa to the Dalai Lama. The Times of India reports that Russian officials are working to reassure Beijing that “a visit by the Dalai Lama or a visa for him is out of the question.” The Kremlin has refused the Dalai Lama a visa since 2004 in order to strengthen its ties with the Chinese, recently even going so far as to criticize the exiled Buddhist leader for his “provocative stand,” and urging him to “improve relations with Beijing and stay away from politics.”
After nearly two decades of delays brought about by a lack of funding, Russia has finally launched the Severodvinsk, the first of six planned nuclear-powered attack submarines. According to the Gulf Times, 17 years after it was first green-lit by the Kremlin, the Severodvinsk is now 80 percent complete, and is expected to begin trial maneuvers this summer. President Dmitry Medvedev has applauded the vessel’s coming of age, saying that the Severodvinsk would “increase our military might and our naval potential, and strengthen Russia’s position in the world’s oceans.”
The Russian government will reportedly abandon its former “buy Russian” policy with a $12 billion arms shopping spree over the next five or six years, says a military think tank close to the Russian Defense Ministry. The Russian government is already in “advanced talks” with France over advanced weaponry, reports the Telegraph, and is “considering buying up to 3,000 state-of-the-art armored vehicles from Italy.” Additional purchases may include pilot-less surveillance drones from Israel, as well as sophisticated military targeting equipment from France.
Reuters reports that Russian paratroopers have reportedly been sent to protect military facilities in Kyrgyzstan as ethnic violence spreads in what have become the most serious clashes in the former Soviet republic since its independence in 1990. Kyrgyzstan’s interim government has appealed for Russian aid in quelling the riots throughout the south, stating that “Russian special forces could quickly end the conflict.” President Medvedev has promised to discuss further intervention.
Ali Taziyev, the military commander of the Caucasus Emirate, the group responsible for March’s suicide bombings on the Moscow Metro, has reportedly been taken into custody by Russian security forces. According to the London Guardian, the arrest is a part of a larger Kremlin crackdown on extremism throughout Southern Russia ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The FSB has already received warnings of rebel plans to “disrupt” the Olympics, though Prime Minister Putin has insisted that Russia will “put in a ‘maximum effort’ to ensure Olympic security.”
Greek and Russian energy companies have entered a joint venture to extend the South Stream natural gas pipeline through Greece. Called South Stream Greece SA, the new company will be based in Athens, with the state natural gas concerns of both companies, Gazprom and DESFA, controlling equal 50 percent stakes in the venture. The pipeline is intended to serve as a “transit hub” for Europe, reports New Europe, and will involve participation from Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria. The agreement was signed at the 7th Greek-Russian Join Inter-ministerial Committee meeting, which also included a memorandum of understanding between the transport ministries from both countries.
The recent agreement between Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Russia to create a joint customs union has provoked outrage from Kazakhstan’s leading opposition party. The National Social Democratic Party has accused current President Nursultan Nazarbayev of moving toward a reinstatement of the Soviet Union, reports London’s Telegraph. “We think there exists some sort of imperialist nostalgia about a big, great and strong Soviet Union,” Bulat Abilov, the Party’s co-chairman has said. “Even if nobody speaks loudly about it now, the idea could appear later.” In an open letter to Nazarbayev, the National Social Democratic Party demanded a national referendum on the new customs union, and warned that it could smother Kazakhstan’s fledgling manufacturing sector.
Following the latest round of United Nations sanctions on Iran, Russia has frozen a contract to deliver S-300 air defense missiles to Tehran. According to the Agence France Presse, the UN resolution “bars countries from selling Iran heavy weaponry including missiles and missile systems,” and although defensive systems like the S-300 are not specifically listed among banned weaponry, the UN decision has prompted Moscow to formally back away from the long-delayed deal. The sale has remained a controversial topic since being signed in 2007, with Russia withholding delivery of the systems over widespread fears that deployment of the sophisticated anti-aircraft system around Iranian nuclear installations would serve as a casus belli for Israel. Now, the new UN focus on sanctions has given the Kremlin convenient cover to preserve the status quo. “It is compulsory to fulfill a decision by the UN Security Council,” a source in the Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation has told reporters. “Russia is not an exception here.”
Monsanto Serbia 11 June 2010
The Head of the Administrative Board of MK Group, Miodrag Kostić, and
Gerhard Rosa, the Manager of company “Monsanto” for East Europe, have
signed the contract on strategic partnership, which makes MK Group official
seller and distributor of “Monsanto” hybrid corn, sunflower and oilseed
rape seeds for the market of Serbia.
“Monsanto” is the largest world company for agricultural products and
systems and it produces leading trademarks of corn, cottong, soybean and
canola seeds for emblements on large surfaces, as well as vegetable seeds
for emblements on small surfaces.
The most famous “Monsanto” products are leading trademarked corn,
sunflower, oilseed rape and soybean seeds, DEKALB and As grow, cotton
seeds, Stoneville and NexGen and vegetable seeds, Seminis . Farmers and
croppers also use the best-selling “Monsanto” agricultural herbicide in the
world – Roundup®.
Gerhard Rosa, the Manager of company “Monsanto” for East Europe, pointed
out that “Monsanto” plans to offer not only the seeds of highest quality to
the market of Serbia in the near future, but also integral technological
solutions for farmers, of which task is to protect the crops, yield greater
efficiency and reduction of production expenses.
“Bayer” i “Monsanto” rade zajedno:
Serbia and Croatia: caught in the crossfire
June 7, 2010 5:54pm
With both Greece and Hungary in the financial firing line, it is little surprise that the countries located between Athens and Budapest are trying to keep their heads down. The states of the former Yugoslavia, headed by Serbia and Croatia, the two biggest, have noticed mounting pressure on their currencies, which are all tied to a greater or lesser extent to the euro.
Like small trade-dependent economies elsewhere, they can try to mitigate the impact of the international turmoil but cannot escape it. Serbia today sold €80m from its reserve to limit reverberations on the local dinar. “Since the beginning of this year, we’ve sold €1bn in order to amortise too-large daily fluctuations,” Radovan Jelasic, bank governor, told the FT. “Regional events are having the main impact on exchange rates now.”
With a ratio of public debt to Gross Domestic Product of just 35 per cent, the Serbian state is living well within its means. In Croatia, where borrowing has long run higher, the figure is 50 per cent. But that still pales in comparison with Hungary (around 80 per cent) and Greece (130 per cent at the end of 2009).
Serbia has a $4bn stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund but has barely drawn on it. Croatia has no IMF support package at all. Among the smaller ex-Yugoslav entities, Bosnia and Kosovo have IMF plans in place, Macedonia has not while Montenegro is in talks with the Fund. By contrast, Greece, Hungary and Romania, all neighbours of ex-Yugoslav states, have combined IMF/European Union support packages totalling €150bn.
Of the western Balkan states, Serbia allows the biggest fluctuations of its managed-float currency, with the dinar trading around 103 per € today after declining modestly for most of this year. Croatia’s kuna appears to be firmly anchored now at 7.25 to the euro, as officials count on summer tourism revenues to again shore up euro reserves.
The western Balkan region is closely tied to the eurozone for trade, so the trade effects of the recent drop in the European Union’s common currency are limited. For example, about three-quarters of Serbian imports, exports and foreign debt are euro-denominated. Croatia, expected to join the EU in less than two years, is similarly euro dependent. For both perhaps the biggest consequence of a falling euro are rising oil import costs.
Although Greek banks hold 15 per cent market share, Serbia has escaped overt economic damage. EFG Eurobank, National Bank of Greece and others have reiterated their commitment to stay in the Serbian market, where they reap higher interest rates than in the EU.
But there are reports that one of Serbia’s Greek banks may have repatriated euros to its Greek holding group. Blic, a sober Belgrade tabloid, suggested (article available in English) on June 6 that the Greek crisis had hurt the dinar.
“They’re far more profitable in Serbia than they are in Greece at the moment,” said a Balkan economist, whose bank rules prevent him from being named. “But that doesn’t mean they can remain immune forever to problems at home.”
For Croatia, with no Greek banks, direct fall-out fears from the Greek crisis have been remote. There are extensive economic links with neighbouring Hungary. MOL, the Hungarian oil firm, holds 47 per cent of Croatia’s INA. However, in the key banking sector west European banking groups dominate and Hungarian banks have only a limited presence. OTP, Hungary’s biggest bank, holds only a 3 per cent market share in Croatia.
However, with global investors feeling risk-averse, neither Serbia nor Croatia has reason to be comfortable. Many foreign investors who had thought to invest in kuna- or dinar-denominated instruments have put their money elsewhere for now.
Jelasic said: “We are in for a very hot summer as far as emerging markets are concerned.” When a central bank governor speaks in these terms, investors would be wise to take note.
A new Duma bill drafted by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party has proposed a series of new media restrictions intended to protect the “innocence of children.” According to the Moscow Times, the draft bill targets “pornography, obscene language, drug use, alcohol, smoking, and violence,” with the goal of protecting children from “information harmful to their health and development.” It does so through a series of restrictive measures, including bans on certain newspapers, censorship of newscasts and a ban on airing action movies in primetime. The bill also extends to web sites, requiring that warnings and age restrictions must cover at least 5 percent of the top of each page.
Russia is taking a page from the American homeland security playbook. Newkerala.com reports that Russian officials have decided to introduce a terror alert level system modeled after the one used in the U.S. The news website reports that, although the system was first announced in 2008, its adoption was delayed due to technical problems. Now, however, the new system is operational – and will incorporate five threat levels ranging from green to red, depending on intelligence on imminent threats gathered by the federal security services.
President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans for a radical revamp of the Russian military. According to neweurope.eu, current Kremlin plans involve a significant force “modernization” over the next half-decade. Among them are initiatives to acquire “digital and modern effective communication systems” by 2012, and a push to modernize the weaponry of a third of all standing military units by 2015. Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, meanwhile, has announced that Russia plans to purchase “advanced warships” from France, Spain, and the Netherlands, to be used in the country’s Northern and Pacific fleets.
In its latest effort to obtain lower oil prices from Russia, Belarus has offered the Kremlin total ownership of its gas pipeline network. A $5 billion deal inked back in 2006 had ceded 50 percent control to Russia of Beltransgaz, the Belarusian energy company with control of the network, in exchange for a reduction of its debts and discounted gas prices, according to the Associated Press. Now, Belarusian president has proferred total control of its pipeline grid to Moscow in exchange for reduced market prices for imported gas.
The offer comes after Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to form a customs union — one that excludes Belarus, despite its presence throughout the negotiations. According to Prime Minister Putin, the split with Minsk arose following disagreements over “tariffs on crude oil and oil products,” reports the Associated Press. And Russia and Kazakhstan are reportedly prepared to join the WTO should Belarus remain intransigent and fail to sign onto the new customs union. The agreement would allow for free trade among the members, with a shared set of tariffs for the rest of the world.
Russia has expressed an interest in gradually eliminating visa requirements for EU citizens, according to the FOCUS News Agency. A preliminary agreement waiving visas for citizens of Europe was recently adopted by Russia at the 12th session of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council on Freedom, Security, and Justice, the news agency reports.
In an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks, Russia will install explosives detectors in the metro systems of each of its major cities. The Homeland Security Newswire reports that the sensors are part of a new, sophisticated checkpoint security system that the Kremlin plans to implement in urban centers over the next four years. Other innovations expected to be deployed by 2014 include passenger registration and ID-verification requirements for ticket sales “on all means of public transport, including inter-city buses.”
INTERNET LIBRARIES IN SLAVIC LANGUAGES
Staropolska (Old Polish literature)
Wirtualna Biblioteka Literatury Polskiej
Armenian House Library (Russian section)
Projekat Rastko (Serbian texts and images)
Zlatý Fond (in Slovakia)
Slovenian texts (in Slovenia)
Electronic Library of Ukrainian Literature (at Toronto)
National Library of Canada Electronic collection
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