Day: October 13, 2006

UNOMIG Mandate Extended

From RFE/RL:

October 13, 2006 — The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN observer mission in Georgia by six months.

The resolution also urged Georgia to refrain from provocative actions toward its breakaway region of Abkhazia.

The resolution reaffirms a commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also “urges the Georgian side to address seriously legitimate Abkhaz security concerns, to avoid steps which could be seen as threatening and to refrain from militant rhetoric and provocative actions.”

Meanwhile, the European Union is preparing to voice “grave concern” over Russia’s economic blockade of Georgia and its recent mass expulsions of Georgians, in a declaration to be adopted at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on October 17 – the declaration is likely to be “sharply critical” of Russia:

The current text with its sharp criticism of Russian measures was backed by the EU’s Nordic, Baltic, and some Central European member states. While the Czech Republic was said to be its formal initiator, a major influence behind the draft declaration appears to have been Sweden’s new Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Bildt served as Swedish Prime Minister in the 1990s and afterwards became active in conflict resolution issues in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.

The draft declaration was opposed by Italy, Greece, and Portugal — countries traditionally friendly towards Russia. Significantly, however, both Germany and France — usually also advocates of a softer EU line towards Russia — remained outside the fray.

Kallas: Echoes of 1930s Russia

Via Postimees (my tr.):

European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas called the murder of the well-known Russian woman journalist Anna Politkovskaya “a great shock”, and compared the position in Russia with that of the 1930s.

“This (Politkovskaya’s murder – ed.) was a very great shock. This is an event that will have enormous repercussions,” Kallas said a press conference yesterday.

He says that the murder of the well-known woman journalist will affect relations between the countries of the West and Russia.

Kallas said that the actions of the Russian leadership in strengthening state control did not remain unnoticed in the West. At the same time, the question at the same time arises, Kallas noted, of the fact that this strengthening of state control seems to be connected with the regular killing of people who are inconvenient to the ruling circles. As examples, he cited not only the murder of Politkovskaya, but also the murder of the editor of the Russian-language edition of Forbes magazine Paul Khlebnikov and deputy chief of Tsentrobank Andrey Kozlov.

Kallas also noted that in Russia there is a law that permits the murder of people beyond the country’s borders of the country. Recalling the murder of Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, whom Moscow did not recognize, in Qatar, and also mentioning Pavel Sudoplatov, the notorious KGB-NKVD lieutenant general], Kallas found a sad similarity between the situation in present-day Russia and Russia of the 1930s. [Sudoplatov directed the NKVD operation that resulted in the murder of Leon Trotsky].

U.S. Prepared to Investigate Murder of Politkovskaya

Caucasian Knot/Memorial

USA prepared to investigate murder of Politkovskaya

The US State Department does not rule out the possibility of the Russian party inviting American experts for the investigation of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, stated Sean McCormack, official US State Department representative on October 11. It also became known yesterday that the American embassy in Moscow is now considering the possibility of such cooperation. Anna Politkovskaya was born in the USA and, apart from being a Russian subject, was also an American citizen.

The press-service of the US embassy in Moscow informed the “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” newspaper correspondent that “in conformance with American legislation, the embassy is prepared to provide the necessary consular services to Politkovskaya’s relatives.” They noted that the Russian authorities, so far, “have not applied to the Russian party for assistance in the investigation.”

Anna Politkovskaya, “Novaya Gazeta” newspaper correspondent, was killed on Saturday, October 7, in Moscow. Politkovskaya was primarily known by her materials related with Chechnya and North Caucasus. The last interview in her life, given almost an hour before the murder to the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent, was also devoted to the Chechen problems.

A Letter

Via Jeremy Putley:

11 October 2006

The Editor
Financial Times


Putin admits journalist’s murder has hurt image of Russia, page 7 today

Whatever the motive for the assassination of the greatly respected Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, her death silences the bravest of the voices reporting on Chechnya in our times.

Your correspondent reporting today from Dresden quotes President Vladimir Putin as saying that Ms Politkovskaya had been well-known outside Russia, but that her influence in Russia itself had been small. That is a telling statement.

Anna Politkovskaya was a true Russian hero. In a decent country her stature would have been recognised. But in the Russian Federation the Hero of Russia medal is notably awarded to generals guilty of war crimes in Chechnya and to people like the brutal thug Ramzan Kadyrov, Mr Putin’s hand-picked prime minister in Chechnya.

Ms Politkovskaya’s memory is honoured abroad but barely acknowledged by her country’s leaders. Her funeral was well attended by representatives of foreign countries, including the British and US ambassadors, but no one of any rank from the Kremlin found it possible to attend.

Remarkably, none of her three books has been published in her own country, and the truth about the atrocities carried out, under the orders of the Russian leadership, by the armed forces in Chechnya, and the political repression there, is not widely known.

Russia truly needed a hero like Anna Politkovskaya.

Jeremy Putley