Month: March 2008

Armed Clashes in Chechnya

Reuters reports on a renewal of fighting in southern Chechnya:

Five security officers, three separatists and a passer-by were killed during the gun battle in the Urus-Martanovskiy district just after 10:00 pm Moscow time (3 p.m. EDT) on Wednesday night, Interfax reported.

“A group of 10 to 15 militants were discovered in a wood on the outskirts of the village of Alkhazurovo… An armed clash took place with law-enforcement officers,” a security source was quoted as saying by Interfax.

The local resident was shot dead by escaping separatists when they fired on his car, while two other passengers were injured, agencies reported.

Missing the Point

Two-thirds of the way through an assessment of the U.S. missile defence shield as “Russia’s Red Herring” in negotiations with a Washington administration that is sometimes seen as slow to put two and two together where foreign policy issues – particularly Russia-related ones – are concerned, Robert Amsterdam writes:

Washington’s failure to respond positively to Putin’s unprecedented security cooperation following 9/11 will go down as the greatest wasted opportunity in recent history.

One wonders whether Washington – or indeed any other Western government professing to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – could have responded positively to “security” initiatives by a regime that engendered the documented massacres committed by its armed forces in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, and – it now seems probable – the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia which killed several hundred innocent civilians and served as a pretext for the opening of the second Russian military campaign in Chechnya.

In Search of an Opposition

We don’t need “political experts” and “political technology specialists”, not economists and not politicians in the traditional sense of the word. We need intelligent, daring and extremely well-meaning leaders who instead of loud opposition noises, can create a decisive, calm, persistent and unwavering protest and not allow it to slip out from the tradition of the great peaceful Eastern European victories over despotism, to not allow bloodshed and the brown-shirt plague. This is incredibly difficult. It is much harder in Russia than it was in Poland or Czechoslovakia, harder even than in Ukraine.

Sergei Kovalev, in an open letter to Vladimir Putin

Cross of Shame

A Serb group plans to build a huge, illuminated cross on a hill from which Serb artillery shelled Sarajevo during the 1992-96 Bosnia war, AP reports:

On Wednesday, the Sarajevo Association of War Victims criticized the plan to build the cross, calling it shameful to build the memorial in a location from which the Serb artillery pounded the city, killing thousands of people. The association issued a statement calling the planned monument a “provocation for the citizens of Sarajevo.”

“It is an illegal, immoral and shameful act, especially because it will be erected in memory of Serb soldiers who kept the city under siege, committing crimes for which their commanders have received long prison sentences at The Hague Tribunal,” the group said.

The association said it will urge Bosnia’s international administrator, Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, to bar the cross on the ground that it could threaten the country’s peace.

Sarajevo’s mayor, Semiha Borovac, said the monument would enrage people in Sarajevo.

“This is not contributing to reconciliation. It is not in the tradition of Sarajevo to build such monuments. We build churches. … But this I cannot support,” she said in an interview.

Anti-Semitism on the Rise

CNN, on a new report from the U.S. State Department:

Today, more than 60 years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just a fact of history, it is a current event,” the report says.

The report — called Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism and given to Congress on Thursday — is dedicated to the memory of the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, a survivor of the Holocaust, the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.

The report details physical acts of anti-Semitism, such as attacks, property damage, and cemetery desecration. It also lists manifestations such as conspiracy theories concerning Jews, Holocaust denial, anti-Zionism and the demonization of Israel.

“Over much of the past decade, U.S. embassies worldwide have noted an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, such as attacks on Jewish people, property, community institutions, and religious facilities,” the report says.