Month: October 2007


From yesterday’s RFE/RL Newsline:

The website posted on October 28 a statement it received by e-mail, signed by Chechen President and resistance commander Doku Umarov, in which Umarov confirms that he has proclaimed himself amir of a North Caucasus Islamic state, the precise extent of which he declines to specify. London-based ChRI Foreign Minister Akhmed Zakayev expressed concern one week earlier that Umarov would issue such a proclamation under pressure from radical elements within the resistance who, Zakayev claimed, have been suborned by the FSB, which intends to retaliate with harsh reprisals across the North Caucasus (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” October 22, 23, 25 and 26, 2007). The prospect that Umarov would declare a North Caucasus emirate has elicited concern among representatives of the ChRI government in exile, who warned that doing so would violate the constitution and undermine the legal status of the ChRI. Two prominent Chechen field commanders, Isa Munayev and Sultan Arsayev, have issued statements publicly siding with Zakayev, thereby implicitly distancing themselves from Umarov.

Benign Neglect

From yesterday’s RFE/RL Newsline:

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves recently called on Western countries to adopt a policy of “benign neglect” toward Russia. He argued that it is a waste of time to complain about human rights violations there because the Kremlin ignores such entreaties. Ilves also said that the West should ignore Russia’s belligerent rhetoric and not respond to aggressive comments by President Putin and his officials.


Buster is now called Jussi – after the Finnish opera tenor Jussi Björling. Being called “Buster” seemed to rankle with him a bit – while he responded to it, he obviously associated the name with some rough times in the past. He responds to “Jussi” better somehow – and this name reflects his undoubted singing powers, when he decides to meow.

He hasn’t been outside the house yet – perhaps next week I’ll try taking him into the garden in his Cat Walking Jacket Harness and leash.

In fact, here in the UK it’s fairly normal for cats to go outside unattended. In the States, however, things are rather different.

Cyber attack on HRO site

From Maidan (excerpt):

As already reported, since 21 October 2007, the website Human Rights in Russia at, the largest Russian-language Internet resource on human rights in the Russian Federation) has been subjected to a relentless and concentrated computer attack (a new form of DidoS attack***) with access to the site blocked.It would seem that has become the first public resource in Russia to be confronted with an attack of such ferocity and persistence. The human rights resource has effectively become in the frontline of the newest stage of “cybernetic warfare”.

It should be noted that this attack does not only involve a consistent flow of tens of thousands of requests. The perpetrators have also managed to penetrate the website’s extremely serious security system and insert virus infecting modules into the file system.


The more one reflects on it, the more one is convinced, I believe, that the passage from constraint to freedom is accomplished in belonging. This, however, opens up a vast field for meditation. How indeed shall we judge the modern anarchical notion of freedom which implies precisely the fact of not belonging to anybody or anything? Analysis discloses that what is here presented as a plenitude may be after all only a void. We should closely examine, however, the historical relation between this anarchical individualism and a socialism which at first sight seems to be opposed to it in every respect, since they have not only developed concurrently, but have even at times encroached on one another; as though, by a clearly marked dialectic, the unity without content of a self which belongs to nobody gave birth to the false plenitude of a social idolatry to fill or absorb it.

Gabriel Marcel (1940)

Delaying the Deal

In EDM, Vladimir Socor examines the candidacy of Kremlin-oriented politician Mikhail Margelov to the presidency of PACE (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), an appointment which as Socor says is “not yet a done deal”:

Three factors account for the slowdown in the momentum behind Margelov’s candidacy. One is the hesitation and scruples felt by a growing number of PACE members about electing a representative of the Kremlin’s “managed democracy” to the presidency of Europe’s leading democracy-promoting institution. The doubters realize that such an election would accelerate the ongoing erosion of PACE’s credibility.

Another factor is information about outgoing PACE president Rene van der Linden’s involvement in business in Russia in 2006-2007. A dossier of Russian media reports — that were available all along — on that topic has now been compiled in Estonia and is circulating among members of the Strasbourg-based PACE. Van der Linden had previously disclaimed repeatedly any business activity in Russia. Faced with the Russian media reports, he no longer denies involvement but disclaims having earned profits from it. Van der Linden played a key role in the deal to put Margelov in PACE’s presidential chair for the next three-year term. Thus, van der Linden’s overall political judgment comes into sharp question at the end of his presidential term.

Baltic parliamentarians in the three capitals and in Strasbourg were taken aback when van der Linden suddenly began replaying Russia’s propaganda themes against their countries in August and September. The Estonian parliament’s European Affairs Commission chairman, Marko Mihkelson — until recently the head of Estonia’s delegation to PACE — made public the Russian media compilation, commenting that it is up to van der Linden himself to judge whether he finds himself in a conflict-of-interest situation (Baltic Times, October 17).

Yet another factor in the debate is Russia’s failure to fulfill a host of commitments it had made to the Council of Europe in 1996 as a pre-condition to Russian membership. Quite apart from the overall assault on democracy in Russia in recent years, the non-fulfillment of Russia’s commitments to PACE involves specific, clearly worded, incontrovertible obligations. PACE’s itemized list of those issues when Russia was admitted as a member (Opinion No. 193, January 1996), now circulating among members, helps flag Russia’s unfulfilled membership conditions and commitments.

As Socor notes, there is also a Chechen connection. Read the whole thing.

Historical Excuses

In the Washington Times, columnist and political scientist Arnold Beichman takes issue with a recent book by New York Times reporter Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes, which purports to be a history of the CIA, but contains among other things the assertion that

the CIA used Radio Free Europe (RFE) to spark the October 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet occupation and satellization. In other words as instigators and cheerleaders, the CIA and RFE, says Mr. Weiner, were responsible for the bloody events.

“If Mr. Weiner had done any homework,” Beichman notes, “he would have realized how misplaced is his accusation.”

Meanwhile, Estonian politician Mari-Ann Kelam recalls that arguments of the kind presented by Weiner were common currency during the years that marked the end of Communism in Eastern Europe:

One of George Bush’s excuses in 1990 for not being pro-active on the Soviet-occupied Baltic nations was this same nonsense about the “radios encouraging the Hungarians” and not wanting to repeat that fiasco…He told us this at a meeting in the White House with American Baltic leaders.