Month: May 2007

Gordievsky: expel the Russian ambassador

From [my tr.]:

London has already told Moscow on several occasions that it won’t extradite the people whom the  Russian General Prosecutor’s Office believes are criminals. What might be the consequences of a possible refusal by Russia to extradite Andrei Lugovoi to Britain?

Oleg Gordievsky: There will be no consequences. The British are well aware, as are all the NATO countries, that the Russians don’t extradite their murderers, and will hide them. Of course, he’ll be blacklisted for travel abroad, but nothing will happen. Because that’s just the way it is.

Won’t it have any effect on Russian-British relations?

Oleg Gordievsky: Yes, it will. All relations will be deep frozen. I am personally going to insist that the Russian ambassador is expelled for six months, and that the main KGB operatives, namely the resident and head of Line N (i.e. the illegals), are deported. Because this operation was obviously done with the help of the illegals. And they have an employee. Those are the two people who must be deported. And the ambassador – as a demonstrative gesture.

Bukovsky to run for Russian presidency

Prima News reports that the famous Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky is to run for the presidency of the Russian Federation in 2008. The report includes a declaration by Bukovsky himself:

Dear Friends,

I am very grateful for your faith in the future of Russia and in my possible role in that future. To tell the truth, I have long lost that faith. The recovery of our poor country seems less and less likely the further we get from 1991. At a given moment I stopped hoping for such a recovery. Too many opportunities have been lost, too many Soviet myths have returned to the people’s minds.

Today, however, we are no longer talking about a recovery, but about salvation. Once again we have political prisoners in Russia, which, given our history, is a symptom of a lethal illness. Mikhail Trepashkin, an asthmatic, is suffocating in his prison cell; a number of scientists have been jailed simply for having contacts with their Western colleagues; disobedient businessmen have been sent to labour-camps; for the sake of the self-assertion of the KGB regime a small Caucasus nation is being destroyed; political assassinations have become the norm.

The threat of a return to the Stalinist era was what led us, the young boys of the 1960s, to protest against the regime. I am becoming old, but I cannot betray the principles of my youth.

I am a prisoner. It is my nationality, my biography, my faith. I cannot allow someone to suffocate in prison. If my nomination for President will help to stop at least that, I agree to it.

I cannot promise our people happiness. We all have an exhausting, difficult road to recovery ahead of us. Maybe we will not be able to complete it. But if this nation still has the strength to call on people like me, we are prepared to try. You and I will face great obstacles. For the last ten years I have been banned from coming to Russia even as a tourist, thought there are no legal foundations for this ban. Maybe it is Polonium-210 that awaits me, but this does not stop me. As long as it does not stop you.

Our favourite toast in the old days was: “for our hopeless cause”. Today this cause seems hopeless. This is precisely why I agree to take part in it.

For our freedom and yours!

Vladimir Bukovsky
27th May 2007

Litvinenko suspect ‘might hand himself over’


May 28, 2007 — A Russian wanted in Britain on charges of murdering Kremlin critic Aleksandr Litvinenko has said that he does not rule out handing himself over to the British Embassy in Moscow.

But Andrei Lugovoi said in a May 27 interview on Russian television channel NTV that the British would have to “make a gesture” toward him before he considers handing himself over. He did not say what sort of gesture he had in mind.

Rolling across Europe

In the Sunday Times business section, the Hudson Institute’s Irwin Stelzer says that Russia must not be allowed to turn gas into a new weapon:

A nuclear umbrella prevented the Soviet army from rolling across Europe, but it is no match for supply cut-offs that can throw western economies into recession.

Russia achieved this dominant position for two reasons. The first is that the world’s capitalists behave as Lenin knew they would: “They will furnish credits . . . supply us materials and technical equipment which we lack . . . restore our military industry for our future attacks against our suppliers.” The West has supplied Russia with the technical skills and capital needed to exploit oil and gas resources and sold important bits of western energy infrastructure to Gazprom, chaired by Dmitry Medvedev, who is first deputy prime minister of the Russian federation. Never mind that Russia will not allow such foreign investment in its infrastructure, or that it is using its oil and gas wealth to beef up its military. “Our military is the second most powerful force in the world after America’s,” a Russian official trumpeted this month.

The second reason Russia has gained such a dominant hand in its negotiations with energy-dependent countries is the inability of the West to forge a common strategy, the necessary ingredients of which are clear: increase storage facilities as insurance against gas-supply interruptions; finance pipelines that avoid Russian-controlled territories; refuse to sell infrastructure to Gazprom; construct terminals that can receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Africa and the Middle East; unite to create countervailing buyer power.

Estonia Press Statement

Estonian State Prosecutor’s Office denies allegations of the Russian Foreign Ministry

The accusations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation claim that the Estonian Prosecutor’s Office has refused to answer queries regarding the death of Dmitri Ganin and that related investigations are ungrounded. To date nobody has turned to the Prosecutor’s Office through official channels regarding this matter.

The prosecutor in charge of the given criminal case has met with the representative of Dmitri Ganin’s mother, who did not have any complaints for the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Estonian Prosecutor’s Office has stressed on several occasions that the death of Dmitri Ganin cannot be associated with the activity or inactivity of the police. The ambulance arrived to the scene in a matter of minutes even before the police.

The Prosecutor’s Office has released as much information as possible concerning the investigation.

In accordance with article 224 of the Estonian Code of Criminal Procedure, the parties can become acquainted with the dossier only after the pre-trial procedures have been completed. Estonia observes the rule of law. Therefore, The Prosecutor’s Office assures all parties that applicable laws are strictly followed and that all criminal cases are processed accordingly.

The investigation of the circumstances of the death of Dmitri Ganin is under vigorous scrutiny of the Estonian authorities and no effort is spared to clarify all aspects of this crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Kristiina Herodes
Head of Public Relations Division
Office of the Prosecutors General
Phone: + 372 613 9415
Mobile: + 372 511 1528

European Parliament expresses solidarity with Estonia

European Parliament expresses its solidarity with Estonia and condemns economic pressure and negative rhetoric from Russia.

A  Resolution expressing solidarity with Estonia and calling on Russia to cease its economic and verbal threats was adopted today (24.05.2007) by a very large majority of the European Parliament. One of the initiators of the resolution, Tunne Kelam MEP, expressed his satisfaction with the cross party support from all the Parliament’s main political groups for the resolution.

The resolution was adopted  460 – 31 – 38.

“The key message is that Estonia is a test case for EU solidarity,” Kelam said. “My political Group (EPP_ED) was right to remain true to the position of supporting Estonia in this case – just as at the Samara Summit by Chancellor Merkel and by Commission President Barroso who also declared that EU solidarity was being tested by the targeting of one EU Member State,” Kelam commented.

The resolution as adopted “reminds the Russian authorities that the indiscriminate and hostile rhetoric used by the Russian authorities against Estonia is in sharp contrast to the principles of international behaviour and will impact on EU-Russia relations as a whole”.

The resolution also calls on the European Commission and all the Member States to assist in the analyses of the cyber-attacks on Estonian websites and to present a study on how such attacks and threats can be addressed at EU level.

Further information from EPP-ED Press Office: Kaja Sorg, Tel. 00 32 476 54 10 13

Considering the future

From Paolo Guzzanti’s recent interview with Vladimir Bukovsky [my tr.]:

Is it your view that, as Michael Ledeen says, we are on the eve of a great tragedy which no one wants to see, as in the 1930s?

“It depends. I don’t think there’s an intention to unleash a war. Russia wants the wealth and technology of Europe, intends to dominate Europe and is already doing so with some success. No, I don’t think there’s a military catastrophe in the offing – just a democratic one.”

Media in Russia today

At RFE/RL, an interview with Russian Journalists’ Union head Igor Yakovenko on censorship, blacklists and the current state of Russian media. Excerpt:

RFE/RL: Finally, some people here and in the West point to the example of the Ekho Moskvy radio station — how can there be no media freedom in Russia if a radio station like this exists that can be rather critical of the government? 
Yakovenko: Even in the most stagnant days of the Soviet Union, in the 1970s, there were so-called “air vents,” which allowed some freedom of speech. They were like pipes that allowed the steam of disgruntlement and criticism to escape, little islands for lovers of freedom and pluralism. And in the Soviet Union, this “little island” was “Literaturnaya Gazeta,” which was granted permission, from on high, to print the sorts of things that were forbidden to everyone else. This newspaper was able to carry out investigative journalism. They even made comments on the mafias that existed at the time in the Soviet Union. And so these air vents, these oases in the middle of a desert of censorship, are now in the hands of Ekho Moskvy radio and the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. And they really do enjoy relative freedom. One can say that Ekho Moskvy undertakes about 90 percent of the journalism in this country, because it has employed all the people who were sacked from state television channels, who have now become presenters. Journalists of all inclinations have flocked there. It really is the only free, pluralist radio station in Russia, you could say a quasi-social channel, I mean in terms of content.

EU Commissioner supports Estonia

From Postimees (23.05.2007 10:23) [my tr.]:

During a discussion of the forthcoming European Parliament resolution on Estonia,  EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner expressed support for the country. The EU Commissioner called the blockade of the Estonian embassy in Moscow and also the cyber-attacks on the servers of Estonia’s state institutions “unacceptable”, the EC’s press service said.

According to Ferrero-Waldner, there have been no violations of human rights in Tallinn. and the relocation of the Bronze Soldier statue was done with due consideration for all of Estonia’s obligations.

The EU Commissioner said she was aware that the relocation of the statue had become a “sore issue” for Estonia, adding that she regretted the protests in Tallinn had ended in the wrecking of shops and kiosks.

“People have a right to express their views, of course, but not by such means. For example, the blockade of the Estonian embassy in Moscow is unacceptable,” Ferrero-Waldner said.

“I’m concerned about the cyber-attacks on Estonia. We have voiced our concerns to Russia, and will do so in future,” the EU Commissioner added.

According to her, the EU will continue to follow what happens in the sphere of trade between Estonia and Russia.

On Thursday the European Parliament is planning to adopt a resolution on Estonia.