Month: September 2007

The Grand Deception

An interesting piece by JR Nyquist on the notion, beloved of US conservatives, that “the Soviet Union fell because Ronald Reagan pushed it over.”

Not so, says Nyquist,pointing to the new work of exiled Czech director Robert Buchar, who is currently making a film on the true origins of Eastern Europe’s “People power”:

Former chief of CIA Soviet Bloc Counterintelligence, Tennant H. “Pete” Bagley told Buchar that an unknown hand was behind the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. “There was a different truth in this respect,” Bagley said. “and that’s a truth that was so well hidden that I don’t know if it ever will come out….” According to Ludvik Zivcak, a Communist secret police official tasked with organizing the demonstration that triggered the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia,“Many people think or believe that in 1989 there was a mass uprising of the nation. From what I did, or where I worked, I am convinced that there was no uprising at all. It’s hard to find out today who wrote the script but it wasn’t written in America. America just jumped on the bandwagon at the end. So the script was most probably written in the East.”

Hat tip: Mark Pettifor

Giving the green light

The Washington Post’s editorial makes it clear:

The problem is that the “whole world” is not yet prepared to prevent a massacre of monks. Several countries that like to think of themselves as strategic partners of the West — in particular, Russia and China — are blocking concerted international action against the regime. China, which has taken advantage of Burma’s pariah status to turn it into a virtual economic colony, came out against U.N. sanctions yesterday. Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement rejecting “interference in the domestic affairs” of Burma and predicting that “the situation will be back to normal soon” — chilling words considering what the troops in Rangoon would have to do to return the situation to “normal.”

Return of the wolves

At Prague Watchdog, Ruslan Isayev discusses the apparent return of wildlife to Chechnya [my tr.]:

The residents of some villages in Chechnya’s Nadterechny district have already spent several nights lying in ambush for the grey predator. In the village of Goragorsk a pack of wolves attacked a private farm, savaging and killing 24 sheep. Only one of the flock survived. After an earlier attack the owners had put a guard on their livestock, but after three days lifted their precautions in the belief that the wolves sensed an ambush and would not return. The very next night a pack of wolves carried out an attack on the farm, during which this damage occurred.

Experienced hunters say that the wolves are behaving this way because it is now the time of year when the wolf cubs have to be taught how to hunt, and the raid on the sheep was one of the lessons.

Until recently it was believed that large numbers of wild animals and birds had left Chechnya and crossed into the neighbouring republics.This was mainly due to the ongoing military operations, particularly the bombing and shelling of mountainous areas. Now ecologists believe that much of Chechnya’s lost wildlife population may be gradually re-establishing itself.

State of the Union

The Telegraph reports that more than one-fifth of crime in London is committed by foreigners:

Poles, who have entered Britain in record numbers since they joined the European Union in 2004, committed 2,310 crimes in the first six months of this year to become the most prolific offenders.

Romanians, whose country became part of the EU in January, committed more than 1,000 offences — an eightfold rise on the same period in 2006, according to Metropolitan Police figures for solved crimes.


A reader sent me one of those “I’ve added you as a friend on Facebook” emails, so I went to have a look at Facebook, but decided against opening an account there. Maintaining this blog in its two parallel versions is all the “online social networking” I’m going to need, thanks. Sorry if you got an email, too, while I was deciding.

The violence in Ingushetia – IV

RFE/RL’s Liz Fuller asks: Who is behind the spiraling violence in Ingushetia? Excerpt:

A second category of killings targets civilians from several different ethnic groups. This category includes the two Russian families referred to above; a Korean father and son found shot dead on September 6; a Russian woman doctor killed on September 7; and a father and two sons, identified as gypsies (tsygane), killed on September 11. Galina Gubina, a Russian woman involved in coordinating the return to Ingushetia of Slavs who left the republic during the fighting in Chechnya, was similarly shot dead in June 2006.

These killings, too, are generally reported to be the work of unidentified gunmen traveling in unmarked cars. Russian media declined to publicize the fact that the two men arrested on suspicion of killing the first Russian family (in mid-July) were a Russian and an Ossetian contract serviceman. Isa Merzhoyev, the Ingush Interior Ministry official who went public with that information, was himself shot dead on August 11. And although the Ingush police swiftly announced the arrest of several suspects with Ingush names, Russian pedagogue Vera Draganchuk, who escaped when her husband and two sons were shot dead during the night of August 30-31, was quoted by “Novaya gazeta” on September 6 as saying the gunmen responsible spoke Russian with no trace of an accent. The Ingush suspects were subsequently released, according to on September 15.

No to Nord Stream – II

Via the Estonian daily Postimees, two interesting and important documents from FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency, on the Nord Stream project, which clearly demonstrate that the Russia-devised project is a political, not an economic venture. The links are here (pdf) and here (pdf). The reports are in English.

From the FOI’s “Statement to the Ministry of Defence concerning Nord Stream and the gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea”:

The fact that the pipeline cannot be seen as a joint EU project is also highlighted by the fact that it divides the EU into two camps. Germany, France and the Netherlands, and to some extent the United Kingdom, are supporters of the project because they will be able to share in the imported gas. Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Sweden have been sceptical or downright negative. The project thus drives a wedge between the Baltic states and the rest of the EU and makes it much more difficult to achieve a unified, common energy policy in the EU. If the project brings with it great benefits for the whole EU, the analysis upon which such a conclusion is based remains unknown to the research community.

When Russian power increases and energy policy is arranged between Russia and the larger EU member states, it becomes more and more difficult for the new EU member states to become net contributors to regional stability, something Sweden has worked hard to support. The Baltic states’ opportunities for integration into European structures are also restricted by this development, and the situation of being dependent on Russia limits their scope for international manoeuvring. As a direct result of this, Poland is opening itself to the possibility of building nuclear power stations and Estonia is considering exploiting its resources of environmentally-damaging oil shale. This is one case in which security policy and environmental consequences are related in a way which is not considered in Nord Stream’s notifications. There are also obvious risks inherent in a policy of appeasement towards Russia pari passu with the increasing dependency on imports of Russian energy.

No to Nord Stream

Bloomberg reports that the Estonian government has turned down a request by the Nord Stream/Gazprom project to survey the seabed off the Estonian coast, threatening to delay plans to ship Russian gas directly to Germany:

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s government rejected the request by Nord Stream AG based on Estonia’s “sovereignty” and “national interests”, the Estonian government said in an emailed statement today. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov vowed the project would be completed anyway.

The 1,200-kilometer (720-mile) pipeline, overseen by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, would run across the Baltic seabed, which is littered with World War II-era munitions. Poland and the three Baltic countries –Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — oppose it, citing environmental concerns. Denmark, Finland and Sweden have voiced similar concerns.

“Our main position has always been that this pipeline in the Baltic Sea is not advisable at all,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said on Estonian public television today. “There have never been any disagreements about that. We will not allow the building of this pipeline in our economic zone.”

Nord Stream requested permission to survey the seabed after Finland proposed moving the pipeline route southward into Estonia’s economic zone.