Month: March 2009

Zubayrayev case – more

Oksana Chelysheva writes:

Dear Friends,

The court session on the suit filed against Elena Maglevannaya took place on 26 March 2009 at 14.00 in Kirovskiy district court of Volgograd. The suit was filed by the chief of the LIU-15 detention colony administration, A.I. Mansvetov.

The main hearing was postponed as the defendant appealed to present the video and photo footage taken by a special commission at the ombudsman of Volgograd region less than a year ago.

Those witnesses who don’t live in Volgograd were also questioned, including Zubayraev’s lawyer, Musa Khadisov and two Chechen HRDs from the Human Rights Center at office of the Chechen ombusdman, Rosa Shamieva and Madina Astamirova.

The judge didn’t satisfy the appeal to bring Zubayraev to give his testimony in court.

The day before the court session Musa Khadisov had a meeting with Zubayraev. During the court session he gave a detailed description of signs of torture on his body: feet with nail wounds going through, a screw in one of his knees, the wound on the head.

Shamieva and Astamirova stated some of the facts from the previous service of V.D Deripasko, the acting chair of the LIU-15 colony. He served in Chernokozovo detention center in the 2nd war campaign in Chechnya. Dogs were set on people on his orders, according to their testimonies.

Written testimony of Zubayraev was also presented to the court.

The next court session has been scheduled for April 7. Witnesses residing in Volgograd are going to be questioned.

The judge also stated that she is going to bring owners of the websites where Maglevannaya’s articles were published as co-defendants.

Best regards,


Increased anti-Semitism in Norway – 2

The Jerusalem Post has republished Maya Spitzer’s article in an updated version, with some of the linguistic ambiguity that characterized the article in its original form removed.

Tundra Tabloids has some interesting commentary.

Update (April 1): the Jerusalem Post article has been removed again.

Nordic Voices has some commentary.

Update (April 2): the Jerusalem Post has published a new article, putting both sides of the argument.

See also in this blog: Increased anti-Semitism in Norway

Masters of the Baltic

0008 The Open Library is, among other things, a useful repository of older books which have been scanned in their entirety, and can be read online free of charge. The books are mostly in English, but there are over one million of them, and they include almost everything, from long out-of-print editions of the classics through works of history and philosophy to travel studies and political memoirs. I came across this enormous library via a recent post at the German-language Estland blog, which contains links to a number of fascinating books about the early development of the Baltic States. New Masters of the Baltic  by Arthur Brown Ruhl (Dutton, 1921) take a detailed look at the situation of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the period immediately following their independence, while The main issues confronting the minorities of Latvia and Eesti (1922) is a consideration of precisely that subject.

Increased anti-Semitism in Norway

In the Jerusalem Post, Maya Spitzer discusses the continuing rise of anti-Semitic feelings and actions among the Norwegian public, which is causing grave concern to Norway’s small Jewish community. According to Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs,

“the elite, the academics, politicians and media consider themselves to be great moralists, with very little self-introspection. Their self-righteousness, arrogance, and inherited Lutheran prejudices against Jews has led to a huge amount of anti-Israel sentiment. Gaza caused these latent feelings in society to come to the fore.”

Rabbi Yoav Melchior, considered the leading rabbi of Norway, said he had been “very scared during the war.”

“Hatred spread in a fast, dangerous way. This was blind emotionalism against Israel and against Jews. It gets deep at the heart of Norway’s emotional anti-Semitism. The current wave of anti-Semitism shows what people have been holding inside them,” he said. 

Update:The Jerusalem Post has now removed Maya Spitzer’s article from its website following a large number of protests, apparently from Norwegian-American readers. The author has stood by her report, and we are still linking to the article via Tundra Tabloids. We’ll continue to watch developments.

For a further update, see Increased anti-Semitism in Norway – 2

See also in this blog: Antisemitism in Norway and Europe

Antisemitism in Norway and Europe – II

Arnold Meri and genocide

[this is a guest post by Eric Dickens]



Arnold Meri, who died a couple of days ago, shared his surname with the late President of Estonia, Lennart Meri. They were indeed cousins, but what they did for Estonia could hardly be more different.

Lennart Meri was a somewhat eccentric ethnologist and film-maker, who was educated abroad but spent some involuntary years (1941-46) in Siberia with his parents as a deportee. When he had grown up, Lennart went again and again to Siberia, voluntarily this time, to interview and film Finno-Ugrian peoples. And he finally became the first President of a reborn Estonia in 1991.

His cousin Arnold’s exploits also led to Siberia, but in a much nastier way. Even after his death, Arnold Meri still stands accused of taking part in the notorious 1949 Deportations from Estonia, when a total of some 20,700 people were sent to various (slave) labour camps in Russia.

Arnold Meri joined the Red Army during the first Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940. He seems to have been a brave soldier and was decorated for fighting against the Germans, whom the Russians had decided were aggressors, once the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been broken. Arnold Meri ended his WWII military career with the rank of colonel. So far, so good.

As you can read in another posting here, deportations took place in June of 1940 and again in March 1949, which is the reason they are being commemorated now, some 60 years after the latter events. Arnold Meri’s hand in all this was that he helped plan and carry out the deportations specifically for the western Estonian island of Hiiumaa (Dagö, in German and Swedish). On the 25th March of that year, 251 inhabitants of that island were rounded up, taken to the Soviet base and port of Paldiski the next morning, and then sent by train (cattle wagons) from there to Siberia.

Arnold Meri also belonged to the central command structure for Estonia for the 39 so-called Destruction Battalions (hävituspataljonid) whose job it was to stamp out anti-Soviet resistance by, for instance, killing off all the Forest Brethren, an Estonian guerrilla group. He did, however, himself suffer Stalinist repression in 1951, and was not rehabilitated until 1956.

By 2003, those Estonians that wanted to bring people to trial for such crimes as the deportations saw that time was ticking away. In August 2007, Arnold Meri was charged with genocide, as 43 of the 1949-deportees in his sphere of responsibility, mostly women and children, had died in Novosibirsk. The trial was resumed in May 2008.

At this point, Russia started interfering. In that same month, the Duma clamoured for the “shameful trial” to be stopped. The Duma was worried that bringing Arnold Meri to trial would discredit the activities of the so-called anti-Hitler coalition. (This coalition seems to have been rather inactive during the validity of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact…) And now, a couple of days ago, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev posthumously awarded Arnold Meri the Medal of Honour.

While Arnold Meri may indeed have deserved such an honour for defending Russia during WWII, it is most strange that the subsequent role of this man has been conveniently airbrushed out of his official Russian obituary.

For more details about Arnold Meri, plus several links, read the Wikipedia entry here.

U.K. government boycotting Israel

The JC has a leading article on the U.K. government refusal to pass legislation that would prevent the bringing of private prosecutions for war crimes without government assent, after it promised for several years that it would do so. The paper describes this as “a shocking piece of duplicity, double-dealing and hypocrisy”. In addition, it notes:

Gordon Brown has convened a meeting next week to discuss the implementation of a scheme designed to facilitate the boycott of goods produced on the West Bank – a meeting at which, conveniently and reprehensibly, there will not be a single Israeli or even Jewish community representative present. It does not take a genius to work out what will come next after a government sponsored boycott of Israeli goods and a de facto boycott of Israeli people: a wider boycott of Israel. The government talks a reasonable fame. But it acts like a street thug. These are worrying times for our community.

Different Russias

Writing in the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, its editor-in-chief Tuomas Keskinen comments that Russian occupation has meant different things for Finland and Estonia. Sweden’s defeat by Russia in 1809 and the subsequent treaty that transformed Finland into a Grand Duchy turned out to be a relative blessing for the country after 400 years of Swedish rule. On the other hand, Russia’s occupation of Estonia, which Stalin began in the autumn of 1939, was of a wholly different order, and represented an illegal takeover analogous to the land-grabs practiced by the Nazis in Europe earlier in the decade.  Keskinen says that the publication  of Sofi Oksanen and Imbi Paju’s new book, Kaiken takana oli pelko (Fear was behind everything, WSOY, 2009), will help Finns to understand the horrors that were experienced by the people of their smaller neighbour to the south.

Zubayrayev case – further developments

Jeremy Putley writes:

The latest information is that a human rights activist – one of the few incredibly brave individuals who investigate and report on such cases – called Yelena Maglevannaya has been arraigned on charges under article 152 of the Russian Civil Code (honour and business reputation protection), accusing Yelena of spreading information on Zubair Zubayrayev in order to destroy their good name. The first court hearing has been scheduled for March 26, Thursday, and it will be held in the Kirovsky district court of Volgograd before Judge Asatiani.

We await the verdict of the court with interest. Will the court order an investigation of the serious and credible allegations of the torture and other maltreatment of Mr Zubayrayev? Or will Yelena Maglevannaya be found guilty as charged, and sentenced to some form of punishment under what passes for justice in Volgograd these days?

See this post

Report: cyberattacks on Georgia came from FSB and GRU

Via Axis News:

Security researchers from Greylogic published a report which concluded that the Main Intelligence Directorate of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU) and the Federal Security Service (FSB), rather than patriotic hackers, were likely to have played a key role in co-ordinating and organising the attacks, The Register writes. More circumstantial evidence has emerged linking the Russian authorities to cyber-attacks on Georgia that coincided with a ground war between the two countries in July and August last year.

The forum, which became a fulcrum for attacks of key Georgian websites last year, uses an ISP located a few doors down from GRU headquarters. Greylogic reckons the site was added as a front for state-backed cyber-attacks under the cover of cybercrime.

The forum was part of a bulletproofed network that relied on shell companies and false WHOIS data to (a) prevent its closure through Terms of Service violations, and (b) to mask the involvement of the Russian FSB/GRU. By mimicking the structure of the Russian Business Network, a cyber criminal enterprise, it creates plausible deniability that it is a Kremlin-funded Information Operation. Greylogic’s study concludes: “The available evidence supports a strong likelihood of GRU/FSB planning and direction at a high level while relying on Nashi intermediaries and the phenomenon of crowdsourcing to obfuscate their involvement and implement their strategy.” Nashi is a youth group in Russia founded four years ago to counter anti-Russian and fascist tendencies in the country. The group is supposedly funded by Russian businessmen, but a pipeline from the Kremlin is suspected, The Register says. Long-standing rumours that Russia was behind cyber-attacks on neighbouring countries were recently fuelled when State Duma Deputy Sergei Markov claimed that one of his assistants was responsible for instigating cyber-attacks against Estonia in 2007. Shortly after this, Konstantin Goloskokov, a “commissar” in Nashi, claimed he and other associates were responsible for the month-long cyber-assault on Estonia. The Project Grey Goose Phase II report is a follow-up to an October report by the same group of security researchers on the Georgian cyber war.

See also: Moscow called on cyberterrorists to attack Georgian government networks

Das Kapital – the Musical

Daniel Finkelstein’s Comment Central blog has an intriguing post about a new musical that’s about to hit the stage in China:

The show will take place in Shanghai where enterprising producers are hoping to introduce a new generation to the father of Communism:

We will not rule out any kind of performing style as long as it entertains our audience and helps them better understand the book