Month: August 2013

Ilves on Cybersecurity

While the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are in Washington, DC to meet with President Obama to discuss economic cooperation and theTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Estonian President Hendrik Ilves sat down with Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson for an exclusive interview on Estonia’s role in cyber security and its importance in the global context. 

http://atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/exclusive-interview-with-estonian-president-ilves-on-cyber-security

Taisia Osipova being “slowly killed”

 

RFE/RL has an article on Russian rights activist Taisia Osipova’s third birthday in prison:

Osipova, who has a 7-year-old daughter, was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison for the possession and attempted sale of heroin.

The ruling sparked an outcry and was denounced by critics as a setup aimed at putting pressure on her husband’s political activities.

She got a retrial in 2012 after then-President Dmitry Medvedev criticized the verdict as “too severe.”

But her sentence was trimmed by just two years, although prosecutors had recommended that she serve a total of four years.

Osipova has complained of being subjected to humiliation by officials at her prison near Tver, including being held in a crowded cell and routinely barred from meeting with her lawyer.

According to Fomchenkov, she is also being denied proper medical treatment for diabetes. She is also reported to be suffering from pancreatitis.

Her health, he says, is rapidly deteriorating.

“She is not receiving suitable treatment. As a person with diabetes, she should have appropriate living conditions and diet,” Fomchenkov says. “This is impossible in prison. There is no endocrinologist there. In three years of detention she has seen an endocrinologist only twice, although she should be under constant monitoring by a specialist. This is not happening. They are slowly killing her.”

 

See also in this blog: Taisia Osipova sentenced to 8 years

The Technorevolutionaries – 3

At Wired State, Catherine Fitzpatrick examines the career of Nadim Kobeissi, the techno-prodigy who devised the encryption program CryptoCat, and is now an advisor to the New America Foundation think tank. She draws some interesting conclusions about the activities of WikiLeaks and other online self-styled “Internet freedom” organizations:

If you have a social movement that depends solely on encryption to succeed, then you don’t have a social movement, you have a conspiracy and a clandestine partisan movement. It can’t succeed when it is so dependent on encryption. It is antithetical to the open society you are ostensibly trying to build.

 

The New “Hooligans”

At Grani.ru, Lev Rubinstein considers the current wave of arrests, detentions and court hearings in Russia, all targeted at those who dissent from the Putin government’s harsh and repressive social policies. Whereas in Soviet times the principal accusation leveled at dissidents was that of being “spies”, the most common charge now is “hooliganism”. But unfortunately for the authorities the new “hooligans” don’t look, speak or behave like hooligans, especially when compared with their judicial tormentors:

Well, just go and attend one or two of these hearings. Just take a look at the faces of the accused and compare them with those of the judges, prosecutors, and  “victims of crime” who have suffered primarily from Mother Nature and from a lack of love in childhood.

What in the Soviet era was explained as a “class” difference, Rubinstein interprets in modern terms as an anthropological one:

Isn’t it because most of these new “hooligans” conduct themselves so honourably and bravely in the shameful courts and in the prisons, and because they are perfectly aware of their own value and of the value of those institutions.They are simply unable to talk to the goblins and gnomes in their language, that language called “cooperation with the investigation”. It’s an anthropological incompatibility.

….

No, what governs here is not only the “social imperative”. What rules here, as in a Greek tragedy, is not only fate, which has taken up residence in our great city behind red brick walls.

“Here, dear sir, is anthropology,” as some character from Dostoyevsky might say in this or another connection.

The Security Trap

Craig Pirrong recently wrote in a post to his Streetwise Professor blog that he wondered why British journalist Edward Lucas, otherwise known for his criticism of Putin and warnings about post-Soviet Russia, was so pro-Snowden. Lucas, Pirrong said, 

has taken a very benign – to say the least – line on Snowden, Poitras, Greenwald, etc. Indeed, the publication has been broadly sympathetic with the Snowden-as-whistleblower meme, and quite uncurious about Poitras and Greenwald.  Lucas has expressed similar views on his Twitter timeline.  Yes, often in RTs and MTs which he will no doubt claim do not represent an endorsement, but given the obvious tilt in what he RTs, and the correlation with the Economist’s editorial line, it’s clear where his sentiments lie.

Understandably, Lucas wrote back in correction: not only was he not “pro-Snowden” – he had even written an article criticizing Snowden in European Voice.

I wrote in a comment:

I’ve followed Edward Lucas’s writings for many years, and particularly admire the forthright stance he has taken on support for the aims and aspirations of the Baltic States in the aftermath of the fall of Communism. In the present instance, regarding Snowden and the NSA leaks, I suspect that his allegiances may be torn, and that in the activities of the NSA he fears a lapse into practices more typical of the KGB than of Western power institutions. After all, the possibility that some collusion between Western and Russian security agencies may have taken place during the curiously-named “war on terror” is not to be excluded, particularly when the former senior director for Russia on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2004 to 2007 can make such enigmatic statements as the following:

“Russia is not the Soviet Union; it offers no compelling ideological alternative, nor is it about to invent one.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/opinion/global/the-drive-to-blame-russia.html?_r=0

Ukraine Approaches Europe

A number of recently-published articles focus on Ukraine’s forthcoming signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union at the November 28–29 EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. RFE/RL’s Dmytro Shurkhalo writes about the fears of a possible trade war between Ukraine and Russia, while Yevhen Solonyna examines a document that purports to be a plan drafted by Moscow and its allies in Ukraine “that outlines a multipronged effort to extend Russia’s influence in the country.” Attention is concentrated particularly on the Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his Ukraine’s Choice civic movement, whom some analysts have suggested are responsible for the 10-page document.

In Eurasia Daily Monitor, Maksim Bugriy asks How Powerful Is the Pro-Russian Lobby in Ukraine?, concluding:

While to date, the pro-Russian lobbyists’ activity in Ukraine seems generally ineffective to alter the country’s course, their influence cannot be underestimated. At a minimum, such activity increases the costs for the Ukrainian government to pursue a pro-Western policy. And in the medium term, Russia may increasingly rely on Ukrainian Eurosceptic power players, who will inevitably gain political weight as Ukraine works to accommodate Europe and the West.

Meanwhile, the imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko has sent a greeting to the Ukrainian World Congress being held on August 20-22, in which she says that  the matter of signing an association agreement with the European Union is a matter of the existence of Ukraine, because the accession to the EU will guarantee the country’s independence. From the text of the greeting:

It so happened that forces came to power in Ukraine that don’t recognize the Holodomor as genocide – the Party of Regions and its satellites – the Communists. Instead of honoring the innocent victims of Stalin’s cold-blooded regime, they are trying to rebuild a new regime in Ukraine, destroying freedom, democracy, denigrating our language, history and national pride. 

In the name of the dead, the living and unborn, we must finally break out of this darkness, where famine killed children, where injustice, lies and humiliation reigned. We must escape to the world that has overcome tyranny and authoritarianism, to our historical home – the European community. 

Right now there is no greater priority than the signing of an agreement between Ukraine and the European Union on political association and a comprehensive free trade area. For me this isn’t a matter of my liberty or imprisonment, it’s a matter of the existence of our country, because joining the European Union will guarantee our independence and protect Ukraine from returning to a new empire. 

We must consolidate our historical European choice with a victory of the democratic forces in the 2015 presidential elections and move to full EU membership for Ukraine. We have learned all the painful lessons we should have from 2005-2010. Three parliamentary opposition forces have already concluded an agreement on full coordination of activities during the next presidential elections in 2015. Not a day or hour goes by when I don’t think about the design for the future of our country, about every detail of the plan of changes in Ukraine after the victory of the democratic opposition in the presidential election.