The misreading of the Resolution

As the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact approaches, the Russian authorities appear to be set on finding justifications for the atrocities that were committed by Stalin’s regime. They are persisting with their plan to bring in a law that will impose criminal liability on anyone – whether individual, group or state authority – who attempts to draw a parallel between the crimes of Nazism and those of Stalinism. At Maidan, Halya Coynash examines the background to the law, and the cynical assumptions that inevitably underlie it. In particular, the proposed legislation represents a deliberate misreading of the PACE resolution:

It is difficult of late to rid oneself of the feeling that the Russian authorities are trying to shout down half the world. Mr Koperov’s point of view regarding the recent OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution “Divided Europe Reunited” (hereafter the Resolution) is repeated by Russia’s Council of the Federation which “strongly condemns attempts to give a biased interpretation of historical facts”. The following is clearly prompted by the Resolution:

“they are resorting to active efforts to reconsider the real reasons for the War and to place blame for the beginning of the War equally on the USSR and Hitler’s Germany and at the same time to absolve those who abetted the Nazis and committed crimes on the territory of countries occupied by the Nazis”.

It would be worth seeking an assessment of the Council’s following conclusions from both political analysts and psychiatrists however there is something else which is even more staggering. There is absolutely nothing in the Resolution which even remotely warrants such an accusation. The Resolution states that:

“in the 20th century, European countries experienced two major totalitarian regimes, the Nazi and the Stalinist, which brought along genocide, violations of human rights and freedoms, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

It only recalls “the initiative of the European Parliament to proclaim 23 August, when the Ribbentrop –Molotov pact was signed 70 years ago, as a Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, in order to preserve the memory of the victims of mass deportations and exterminations”

Do we have a situation like the statements once made in the Soviet Union about the novel “Doctor Zhivago” – “I haven’t read it but I know that it’s disgusting anti-Soviet propaganda”? Hardly likely: the Resolution is put succinctly and it is difficult to imagine that nobody is following the bemused reactions from various organizations, including Memorial, which have already publicly pointed out the bizarre misreading.

I suspect they were counting on something else. They assumed that the Resolution would not be read and that people would simply be indignant at entirely fabricated disrespect for the soldiers of the Red Army. People would be right to feel indignation – were there even a modicum of truth in the allegations. There is not.

Read it all.

Russia under pressure

Moscow continues to come under international pressure on the matter of its invasion of Georgia and annexation of parts of Georgian territory.

Russian media initially made much of the PACE decision on Wednesday not to suspend the voting rights of the Russian delegation in order to punish Moscow for its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, it is now clear that the decision was made in order to force Moscow to publicly comply with the conditions outlined in the PACE resolution: these include a demand that Russia must withdraw its recognition of the two separatist “republics”, and if this is not done by the next session to be held in January, it is likely that PACE will vote to implement the voting rights suspension.

It also seems clear that the Kremlin may have miscalculated how the West would take the invasion. Even a Russia-friendly politician like the Estonian Social Democrat MEP Katrin Saks, who recently returned from talks with Russian leaders in Moscow, has said that the Kremlin, and much of Russian public opinion, was “shocked” by the Western reaction.

On Thursday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, on a visit to Azerbaijan, said on Thursday that Russia will now “think twice” before repeating its actions during the Georgia conflict, AFP reports:

“The way Russia behaved in Georgia was unjustified,” Negroponte said at a press conference during a visit to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

“We and Europe helped Georgia after that and we will continue. We think Russia will think twice before she behaves like that again,” he said.

“The way this country behaves has nothing to do with the 21st century,” he added.

“We call on Russia to implement fully the ceasefire negotiated by (French) President (Nicolas) Sarkozy,” he said.

Appeal for international military tribunal on Chechnya

On Chechnya-sl, Norbert Strade has translated the text of a recent appeal by Akhmed Zakayev, chairman of the ChRI Cabinet of Ministers:

Appeal by the Government of the ChRI

CHECHENPRESS. Publications and Media Department. 26.09.08

CHECHENPRESS received by e-mail the following appeal by the Government of the ChRI to the EU Headquarters, the President of the General Assembly of the UN, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the International Criminal Court and leaders of democratic countries.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The Government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, which is obliged to democratic values and considers human rights, the rights of nations and peoples to be fundamental achievements of civilization, addresses itself to you with the following:

– Taking into account the inhuman suffering of the Chechen people during the entire period of its history when it was under the control and influence of the Russian Empire in its different political manifestations (the USSR, the Russian Federation), such as the repeated deportations and the incessant military actions during the last 14 years, which demanded more than 200,000 lives, including 40,000 children, according to authoritative international non-governmental organizations;

– taking into account the zeal and the readiness for self-sacrifice of the Chechen people in the name of achieving freedom and independence, a convincing proof of which is the substantial support by the citizens of the ChRI for the Resistance forces, despite the fact that they thus subject themselves to terror from the side of the Russian military formations and special services;

– taking into account the numerous and unpunished war crimes committed by the occupation forces on the territory of the ChRI;

– taking into account the unquestionable right of the Chechen people to national sovereignty and independence, not only within the framework of the declarations of the United Nations “About the Rights of Nations and Peoples”, but also according to the decision of April 18-20, 1990, by the supreme body of power in the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (whose legal successor is the RF), which defines an unequivocal treatment of the rights of the Autonomous Republics: “In the case of a union state leaving the USSR, an Autonomous Republic which is part of this union state has the right to determine its future independently”, a statement which precisely was the justification for the Russian authorities in their decision to recognize the independent statehood of Abkhazia and South Ossetia;

– taking into account the unquestionable fact that Russia acknowledged its military aggression against the ChRI in 1994, Russia’s defeat in this war and the signing on May 12, 1997 of the “Peace Agreement” between the RF and the ChRI, in which the sides determined that the peoples of the RF and the ChRI are ending their century-old conflict and that the relations between the subjects of this agreement from now on and forever will be based on international law and that the application of the armed forces will be categorically excluded from the solution of disputes;

– and finally, taking into account the existence of attempts by the RF side to take revenge for the lost war of 1994-1996, the incessant military operations and punitive actions, as a result of which thecitizens are suffering, as well as in view of the irreconcilability of the Chechen people with the conditions of the occupation, which are aggravated even more by a feeling of desperation over the absence of truth and justice with regard to the war criminals who committed war crimes in the Chechen Republic during the last 14 years, and furthermore in view of the alienation between the sides in the military conflict and the impossibility for the Chechen population to live in freedom and without fear in its historical native land, we request the creation of an international military tribunal for the Chechen Republic.

The Government of the ChRI believes that the absence of juridical and political consequences of Russia’s terrorist policy in the North Caucasus only discredits the entire world system of democracy and provides totalitarian regimes with a feeling of impunity and omnipotence, visible evidence of which are Russia’s latest actions against sovereign Georgia.

Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the ChRI Ahmed Zakayev

PACE session to focus on Georgia-Russia war []

PACE Session to Focus on Georgia-Russia War

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Sep.’08 / 18:17

The August war in Georgia will be the main focus of the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE), which opens in Strasbourg on September 29.

The debates will be held in two parts: on September 30 and on October 2.

A group of 24 members of PACE submitted a request for the reconsideration of the credentials of the Russian delegation to PACE “on the grounds of serious violations of the basic principles” of the Council of Europe.

Vice-Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Mikheil Machavariani, who is a member of the Georgian delegation to PACE, told journalists before departure to Strasburg that it was not yet possible to predict the outcome of the request and whether the credentials of the Russian delegations would be suspended or not.

As part of the run-up to the debates, an ad hoc committee will paid a fact-finding visit to Georgia and Russia. The group called for an international probe into the events that led to the war.

Meanwhile, on September 24, Foreign Ministers of Council of Europe member states met in New York on the sideline of the UN General Assembly to discuss Georgia-Russia war and its consequences.

This informal meeting was initiated by Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, who is now a chairman of the CoE’s ministerial committee.

The Swedish Foreign Minister said in the report submitted to the ministerial committee that as far as South Ossetia and Abkhazia are “integral parts” of Georgia “the military actions undertaken by Georgian forces during the conflict thus concerned Georgian territory” and should no way be seen “as an aggression towards the Russian Federation.”

“It is furthermore clear, that since it contravenes International law when a state uses military force to protect its citizens in another state, the Russian large-scale military actions in Georgia can not be justified as self-defense,” Carl Bildt said.

The Last Anarchists

The Norwegian literary magazine Vinduet is celebrating its 60th birthday. The anniversary issue contains a number of items of interest, including a profile of the Swedish Academy’s director Horace Engdahl, who is interviewed by Christian Kjelstrup. The Swedish Academy is, of course, best known for its annual awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Kjelstrup has some searching questions for the director, who is also the Nobel Committee’s permanent secretary. At one point in a slightly defensive explanation of the Committee’s work, Engdahl claims of himself and the committe members that “we are the last anarchists” – presumably in order to suggest an independence of thought and selection that is removed from current trends and fashions in literary taste.

Kjelstrup is not afraid to point out, however, that one major author who failed to receive the Nobel award was turned down on the grounds of his “anarchism”. He was Lev Tolstoy.

Labels: , , ,

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.