What started off as a massive fabrication in 2006 just received a great boost from a complicit British government. The mysterious polonium death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is the focus.
An inexplicably long series of official UK hearings on this nearly 9 year old case has just concluded. That’s prompted a new flurry of sensational media reports.
A recent Daily Mail headline reads “Putin ‘personally ordered Litvinenko’s murder.’” The Irish Independent said, “Vladimir Putin should be held responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.” BBC reported, “Vladimir Putin ‘ordered killing’, Litvinenko [official UK] inquiry hears.”
They support a premise that’s been around since the beginning. It implicates Russian president Vladimir Putin in the yet-to-be explained death.
You might think that reliable evidence has been presented to back up all the accusations. But careful examination shows the reports are no more than unsubstantiated allegations. No reliable facts are reported. Meanwhile, there is an abundance of evidence that this has been a nefarious witch hunt all along.
The official UK hearing has been made out to be a kind of trial, one aimed at bringing justice in the mysterious death case. The widow Marina Litvinenko told BBC, “The truth has finally been uncovered.”
That’s actually quite the opposite of the truth. Here are some facts:
–The prosecutor in the case was unable to unearth any incriminating factual evidence, only “grave suspicions” about Russian culpability. He never had a sufficient case to bring to trial.
–The current official inquiry has no capability to mete out justice. It hasn’t been a real trial at all. There are accused individuals. But they have no right to question their accusers. The inquiry doesn’t have the ability to convict anybody.
–No coroner has ever ruled that Litvinenko’s death was even a homicide. That leaves open the possibility of accidental poisoning or suicide.
–The KGB spy moniker given Litvinenko in the media is fallacious; he never did espionage work. But it added spice to all the misleading headlines.
–Litvinenko himself is on record believing an Italian named Mario Scaramella poisoned him.
–The “Putin did it” scenario that went mainstream was a highly successful fraud of massive proportion. It was instigated by Putin arch enemy Boris Berezovsky, a Russian robber baron who was hiding out in London from criminal prosecution back home. Berezovsky was angling to see Putin overthrown in a violent revolution and replaced by a monarch. No kidding. I’m not just alleging that. He said so in his own words.
–A rogue coroner dodged his statutory duty to rule on the manner and cause of death, and instead conducted a Berezovskyesque witch hunt for Russian culpability.
–He subsequently was told by Home Secretary Theresa May to cut out the witch hunt and perform his duty to rule on the manner and cause of death. She also told him that any further official inquiry was unnecessary.
–That would have ended the folly for good. But instead Prime Minister David Cameron reversed the Home Secretary and reopened the witch hunt. This came amidst the sanctions frenzy against Putin over the Ukraine crisis. It was a highly politicized move, not a search for justice.
–The result has been the just-concluded hearings, part of Cameron’s official inquiry.
Cameron has charged forward despite the obvious speciousness of the case. It’s not hard to see that fraud has been afoot all along. For instance, there was a widely-reported deathbed statement dictated by Litvinenko. News of it didn’t come out until after Litvinenko’s death. The statement blames Putin for the poisoning.
But I’ve found that Litvinenko never dictated any such statement. The story was a hoax. The hoaxer has even confessed that the words were his own, and that he had no factual basis for his allegation.
Isn’t Cameron aware of these specious claims in the Litvinenko case? If there is a real evidentiary basis, why is the record founded on outright fabrications like the deathbed statement? The case is replete with nonsense like the deathbed hoax.
So the truth that needs to be known is that the Litvinenko case has been a fraud right from the start, and continues as such to this day. I don’t know whether or not Putin or any other Russian had complicity in the death. But I do know that principals behind the accusations have been lying.
The biggest news here is that Cameron has put the weight of the UK government behind the fraud. What an extravagant affront to justice. He should be ashamed of himself.
William Dunkerley is a media analyst and a Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow.
The CBS news program 60 Minutes on Sunday aired an extended segment titled “The Battle Above” that relayed the concerns of various US military personnel that China and Russia could pose a threat to the vast system of American satellites that are used for military purposes and for commercial use by banks, telecommunications companies, farmers and others.
“Top military and intelligence leaders are now worried those satellites are vulnerable to attack. They say China, in particular, has been actively testing anti-satellite weapons that could, in effect, knock out America’s eyes and ears,” said correspondent David Martin.
Gen. John Hyten, head of the 38,000-person Space Command unit of the US Air Force, tells all his troops that there is a “contested environment” in space with multiple countries not allied with the U.S. possessing capabilities that could potentially threaten American satellites. “It’s a competition that I wish wasn’t occurring, but it is. And if we’re threatened in space, we have the right to self-defense, and we’ll make sure we can execute that right,” Hyten says.
While the Pentagon admits spending $10 billion per year on space, 60 Minutes reports that when you add in other indirect costs the actual total reaches $25 billion. And Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says the Pentagon plans to spend an additional $5 billion over the next 5 years on protecting its satellites.
Hyten describes the ambitions and activities of foreign actors in space as essentially an existential threat not just to the U.S. military but to the American economy. This is a useful narrative for an agency that is seeking billions of dollars to extend its current dominance.
Without a discernible threat, it would be difficult to justify such outlandish expenditures as the X-37B space plane. The plane is able to return to earth after voyaging for 20 months into space, allowing anything included in the payload to be later retrieved. The purpose of the plane is as yet undisclosed. But Hyten’s response when asked if it will one day be used as a weapons system – that he can’t answer – is revealing.
The military officials interviewed by 60 Minutes frame the issue as one in which the U.S. is acting purely in self-defense and within international law. Martin mentions that there is a 1967 U.N. treaty that calls for the peaceful use of space, but says in practice it does not resolve much. When he asks if this means it’s every country for himself, Lee James says, “Pretty much.”
60 Minutes makes much of anti-satellite weapons tests that China conducted in 2007, nearly a decade ago. China’s foreign ministry told the news program that it has not conducted any tests since and is “committed to the peaceful use of outer space.”
Are China’s declarations just empty rhetoric to conceal their true ambitions? And what threat do Russia and other countries like North Korea actually pose?
60 Minutes fails to mention that the United Nations has actively been dealing with the threat of weapons in space, and it is the United States itself – not China or Russia – that has been most forceful in rejecting limits on weapons programs and an arms race in space.
In its most recent session, the UN General Assembly passed two resolutions directly related to the use of weapons in space – one of which the U.S. government outright opposed and the other which it abstained from voting on.
UNGA resolution 69/31, “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” passed by a margin of 178-0 with 2 abstentions (the United States and Israel). The resolution affirmed that “the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be for peaceful purposes and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries” and recalled that all States must “observe the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations regarding the use or threat of use of force in their international relations, including in their space activities.”
The General Assembly also passed resolution 69/32, “No first placement of weapons in outer space,” passed by a margin of 126-4 with 26 abstentions. China, Russia, North Korea and Iran all voted in favor of this measure, while the United States, Israel and US allies Georgia and Ukraine were the only nations voting against it.
The resolution “urges an early start of substantive work based on the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space” that was submitted at the Conference on Disarmament. The draft treaty was submitted by two states: China and Russia.
In their story, 60 Minutes serves the role of Pentagon PR mouthpiece, allowing US military officials to hype the threat of China and Russia by presenting a narrative based on little more than their own paranoia.
If they wanted to realistically assess the threat of an arms race in space and determine who is responsible, 60 Minutes would have examined the extensive actions and voting record of the United States, China, Russia, and other states in the diplomatic arena to deal with such a threat. This would demonstrate emphatically that the United States has stood virtually alone in the world in opposing peaceful cooperation and de-escalation of military action in space. But apparently 60 Minutes finds it easier to simply take the Pentagon’s arguments and analysis at face value.
The DoD’s scare tactics of creating an imaginary threat – in the form Washington’s familiar punching bags China and Russia – allow them to frame their space program as an imperative reaction to legitimate national security threats, rather than as a superfluous, aggressive expansion of their unchallenged hegemony that extends not just around the globe, but thousands of miles into the reaches of outer space.
The Washington Post’s descent into the depths of neoconservative propaganda – willfully misleading its readers on matters of grave importance – apparently knows no bounds as was demonstrated with two deceptive articles regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and why his government is cracking down on “foreign agents.”
If you read the Post’s editorial on Wednesday and a companion op-ed by National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, you would have been led to believe that Putin is delusional, paranoid and “power mad” in his concern that outside money funneled into non-governmental organizations represents a threat to Russian sovereignty.
The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians have enacted laws requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” – and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.
The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move, announced Tuesday, is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’
“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts. …
“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”
But there are several salient facts that the Post’s editors surely know but don’t want you to know. The first is that NED is a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1983 to do what the Central Intelligence Agency previously had done in financing organizations inside target countries to advance U.S. policy interests and, if needed, help in “regime change.”
The secret hand behind NED’s creation was CIA Director William J. Casey who worked with senior CIA covert operation specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to establish NED in 1983. Casey – from the CIA – and Raymond – from his assignment inside President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council – focused on creating a funding mechanism to support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. To partially replace that CIA role, the idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.
But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”
NED Is Born
The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured. But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.
This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill. The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented, not fully recognizing the significance of the demand.
The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy. Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president.
Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC. For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”
Currently, Gershman’s NED dispenses more than $100 million a year in U.S. government funds to various NGOs, media outlets and activists around the world. The NED also has found itself in the middle of political destabilization campaigns against governments that have gotten on the wrong side of U.S. foreign policy. For instance, prior to the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing an anti-Russian regime in Kiev, NED was funding scores of projects.
A second point left out of the Post’s editorial was the fact that Gershman took a personal hand in the Ukraine crisis and recognized it as an interim step toward regime change in Moscow. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Putin.
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, NED is a U.S. government-financed entity that has set its sights on ousting Russia’s current government.
A third point that the Post ignored is that the Russian law requiring outside-funded political organizations to register as “foreign agents” was modeled on a U.S. law, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. In other words, the U.S. government also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.
If the Post’s editors had included any or all of these three relevant factors, you would have come away with a more balanced understanding of why Russia is acting as it is. You might still object but at least you would be aware of the full story. By concealing all three points, the Post’s editors were tricking you and other readers into accepting a propagandistic viewpoint – that the Russian actions were crazy and that Putin was, according to the Post’s headline, “power mad.”
But you might think that Gershman would at least acknowledge some of these points in his Post op-ed, surely admitting that NED is financed by the U.S. government. But Gershman didn’t. He simply portrayed Russia’s actions as despicable and desperate.
“Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy on Tuesday was declared an “undesirable organization” prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:
“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”
The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the op-ed.
So would an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. How many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?
Not surprisingly, Gershman couldn’t find the space to include any balance in his op-ed – and the Post’s editors didn’t insist on any.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
In a brazen move, designed to ensure that Russia is ruled by Russians, the Duma has passed laws limiting the powers of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to operate inside Russia. The first target being the National Endowment for Democracy. This is a terrible blow for freedom around the world, according to The Guardian, because the NED is simply an oasis of decency in Putin’s Empire of Evil:
The National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit funded largely by the US Congress, has become the first group to be banned in Russia under a law against “undesirable” international nongovernmental organisations.
According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is “dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world” and has funded local non-governmental organisations in more than 90 countries. But in a statement on Tuesday, the prosecutor general’s office said it “poses a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation and the defensive capability and security of the government”. [our emphasis]
Really? Really Guardian ? In order to inform us about what the NED is you just went to their own website and did copy/paste? Even the HuffPo, which is no one’s idea of hard-hitting investigative journalism can do better than that. Here’s an article it published by Mark Taliano about the NED:
Democracy is usually the first victim of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S. agency that promotes the U.S Empire’s foreign policy beneath the false guise of “promoting democracy”.
Considered a “soft” tool of Empire, NED and its subsidiaries work to transform societal fissures in target countries into gaping holes, through which covert agendas can metastize before exploding into illegal regime changes.
Funding flows from the congressional budget of USAID, to NED and its subsidiaries, and finally to factions within target countries whose political economies do not align with globalized economic models of monopoly capitalism.
Beneath NED’s democratic veneer is a Board of Directors replete with members who also represent Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, board members include signatories to the pro-war, pro-corporatocracy think tank Project For A New American Century: Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalizad, Will Marshall, and Vin Weber.
You’ll notice they don’t say whose freedom.
Which makes the Russian Duma’s decision to boot these guys out a tad more understandable, no?
Since the Graun apparently doesn’t do its own research any more, maybe it could at least copy/paste the Huff’s article in place of the contents from NED’s own About page? Or will that conflict with their GCHQ brief?
The prevalence of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, is rapidly increasing in most countries in the world. The increase of cases in Russia is a cause for concern –one out of every two people do not know they have the disease–, as initially it does not show any symptoms. Four million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in Russia, and almost six million people are unaware of their disease.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are 387 million people living with diabetes worldwide today, and it is estimated that by 2035, some 592 million people will be living with it. The burden on the economy is considerable. In Russia, the annual cost of caring for diabetic patients is $12.5 billion.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO,) there are 60 million people with diabetes in the European Region, or about 10.3% of men and 9.6% of women aged 25 years and over. In the U.S., 29 million people have diabetes, up from the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010.
Between 40 to 50 percent of newly diagnosed people have one or more complications. Kidney disease, one of diabetes most common complications, may lead to kidney failure. Other complications are diabetic retinopathy which affects blood vessels in the retina, damage of lower-extremity blood vessels, which may lead to gangrene and amputations, and arteriosclerotic changes of the major blood vessels, which increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
These complications are important not only from the point of view of people’s health but also for their economic impact. More than 90 percent of diabetes expenditures are for the treatment of diabetes-related complications. Russia’s Federal Targeted Programme on Diabetes states that earlier diagnosing diabetes and treating its complications earlier can result in significant savings.
If one takes into consideration the increase in the number of cases of diabetes and the increase in life expectancy, one can predict that there will also be a steady increase in the number of diabetes patients who have complications. This is particularly true in the case of people living in big cities, where the lifestyle is more sedentary, stress levels are higher and there is greater consumption of foods rich in fast-absorbing carbohydrates.
These changes in lifestyle are probably the reason why diabetes is now being seen at earlier ages. Until recently, mostly people who were 50 years of age or older were diagnosed with the disease. However, more patients in their 30s and 40s now have diabetes, probably as result of those unhealthy lifestyles. It is estimated that more than 66,000 people die from diabetes-related causes every year in Russia.
In recent years, several public health campaigns have been conducted to teach people some basic health lifestyle principles. However, more programs, particularly in smaller cities, are needed that specifically target diabetes awareness and prevention issues, since these are the most effective ways of addressing the disease.
Approximately 26 percent of the population over the age of 15 is obese in Russia. This figure will increase to 30 percent in 2030. Because being overweight or obese affects the body’s ability to properly adjust blood sugar levels –thus increasing the risk of diabetes by up to 20 times– dealing with the issue of obesity is another way of keeping diabetes under control.
What is needed is a wide spectrum public health government-sponsored program that will 1) raise awareness about diabetes, 2) improve data collection and analysis, 3) increase access to knowledge about diabetes both among patients and also among doctors, particularly on how to deal with its complications, 4) facilitate screening of patients and accessibility to treatment, 5) provide financial support for basic and applied research on diabetes. Diabetes in Russia today should be treated as the serious threat it really is.
Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant.
Russia is expected veto a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for an international tribunal to be formed to probe the downing of a Malaysian airliner last year. President Putin said he regretted that a compromise deal could not be worked out.
The Russian president explained to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte why Russia would not support the establishment of a tribunal into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in a phone call, the Kremlin said.
Moscow opposed the draft document submitted by Malaysia and supported by several nations, including The Netherlands and Ukraine, saying that its description of the tragedy as a threat to international security is a strained interpretation meant to subject it to the council’s authority.
“We believe it is not in the UN charter. The UN Security Council is not supposed to deal with issues like this,” Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said, adding that Russia would veto the document.
The Security Council ordered creation of special tribunals to tackle several cases, including war crimes committed during the Balkan wars and the genocide in Rwanda. But Russia believes it would be wrong to treat the MH17 downing differently from other similar incidents with civilian aircraft, such as the downing of Iran Air flight 655 by the US in 1988 or the downing of Korean Air Lines flight 007 by Soviet Union in 1983. The call for a tribunal is confrontational, Moscow believes.
An alternative draft resolution proposed by Russia and seen by RT called for more transparency in the ongoing investigation of the MH17 incident by the Dutch authorities. It also criticized UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a failure to appoint a special representative to tackle the case.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on July 21 as it was flying over a war zone, where Ukrainian armed forces were fighting against rebels, who rejected the new government imposed by an armed coup in Kiev. The tragedy has been the subject of much speculation, with Kiev and its foreign sponsors accusing the rebels of taking down the plane with a Russia-supplied missile.
The rebels rejected the accusations and blamed the Ukrainian army for the downing. Moscow denied supplying anti-aircraft missiles to the rebels and made public evidence of Ukrainian military activities in the area.
A preliminary report by the Dutch investigators in September 2014 confirmed that the Boeing airliner was taken down by an outside force, but did not indicate which side could have carried out such an attack even what kind of weapon was used. The final report is still being completed.
WASHINGTON — Restoring US relations with Russia should be among the top priorities for the newly elected president, US Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee told Sputnik.
“I would make it one of my top priorities to do everything possible to find common ground, areas where we can build on and reestablish relationships with Russia, make them better,” Chafee said in an interview.
The presidential candidate noted that there are areas where Russia and the United States still agree and cooperate, including on the Iran nuclear issue.
“I know we worked on the Iran deal together, but just keep building on that, areas where we both agree as countries, and then broaden those out, areas where we somewhat agree, and then tackle those areas where we have disagreements and work together,” Chafee said.
“There is just no room for escalation of military options in this world we live in today,” Chafee said when asked to comment on mutual accusations by Washington and Moscow of violating the INF Treaty.
Chafee noted that cooperation between the United States and Russia should be concentrated on more important issues rather than bashing Russia.
“There are many other challenges we should be tackling rather than the Russians in the West, a saber rattling,” he added.
The United States and Russia signed the INF Treaty in 1987, banning nuclear and conventional ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300-3,400 miles).
Last summer, Washington accused Moscow of not complying with the treaty by testing a ground-launched cruise missile. Russia dismissed the claims, stating that the United States had violated the deal earlier by placing missile defense launchers in Poland and Romania.
According to recent media reports, US authorities are considering the deployment of missiles to Europe to defend against supposed advantages gained by Russia’s alleged treaty violation, or the possibility of a more aggressive “counterforce” of ground-based strategic weapons or cruise missiles.
Chafee also underscored that Washington and Moscow should cooperate in resolving the Ukrainian crisis, and ensure the European markets continue to receive Russian energy.
“The immediate area that we [US, Russia] should be finding areas to resolve is, of course, Ukraine, and…with the sanctions, and how we can get the Ukrainian situation resolved, and get the European markets and the Russian energy working together,” Chafee said in an interview.
Chafee added that US-Russia cooperation is “in everybody’s best interest.”
Moscow should participate in international discussion on all world issues, the candidate continued.
“That strong country, energy-rich country, such as Russia, should be part of all our global discussions,” Chafee said in an interview.
The presidential candidate stressed that there are many areas where Russia and the West could cooperate, including the Iran nuclear program and space industry.
“This new spiral of the arms race was prompted by the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” Putin said in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS on Monday.
On December 13, 2001, Washington withdrew from the treaty, which had been signed in 1972 between the US and the Soviet Union, on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile systems used in defending areas against ballistic missile-delivered nuclear weapons.
“This treaty was a cornerstone of the entire system of international security,” he said.
According to a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a leading think-tank focusing on international security, Washington in 2014 spent USD 581 billion, the highest amount of military expenditure last year.
China, Saudi Arabia and Russia are the countries coming after the US with USD 129, 81 and 70 billion in military expenditure respectively, the British institute’s report said.
Putin also said that US officials should rethink their policies and stop “acting in a way ‘who-in-not-with-us-is-against-us.’”
“Undoubtedly, the United States is a great power. But it doesn’t mean that the current US authorities have any right to move around the world, seizing people and taking them to their prisons,” he added.
Elsewhere in the interview, the Russian president said that Moscow is ready to negotiate with the US and Europe on a host of issues including the situation in Ukraine.
“Russia takes no interest in seeking confrontation with other countries. But sometimes we simply have to defend our interests. And we will undoubtedly do it, but not in a confrontational manner but through finding compromises and mutually acceptable solutions,” he said.
The US and its European allies have imposed economic sanctions on Russia, accusing Moscow of being involved in the Ukrainian conflict that broke out last year. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusation and has imposed retaliatory sanctions against many Western countries.
WASHINGTON — On July 14, the P5+1 countries — the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China, and Germany — reached an agreement with Iran to relieve economic sanctions in exchange for assurances that it will not seek to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.
“We know, though, under the terms of this agreement, that Russia will have no hesitancy to be involved in Iran’s economy, and that is a concern.”
Cardin, ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that regardless of the nuclear agreement, the expansion of trade between Russia and Iran “has always been a concern.”
The United States has already expressed disapproval over Russian plans to deliver a S-300 air defense system to Iran, fulfilling a contract from 2007. Washington, however, has acknowledged the legality of the deal.
Enhanced Russian-Iranian trade could also result from future Iranian membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a proposition discussed on the sidelines of the recent SCO meeting in Ufa, Russia earlier in July.
Poland and the Netherlands are joining forces to counter so-called “Russian propaganda” with a new Russian-language “content factory,” after US Senator John McCain insisted that propaganda is key to “winning the Cold War” without a single shot.
The Dutch-Polish news agency will offer TV, radio, and online content in the Russian-language across the countries of Russia and eastern Europe. It is planned that the agency will start working next year, with the Netherlands and Poland hoping that other EU States will join them.
The project will “give the tools and the capacities for Russian language [media] and Russian social media to work on the basis of objective information … with the exchange of different viewpoints”, said Bert Koenders, the Dutch foreign minister. Koenders added that that there was “broad support” for the endeavor from EU foreign ministers.
The new news agency will be “something which doesn’t use the language of propaganda or aggression, but which has real, reliable information,” said Polish Foreign Minister, Grzegorz Schetyna. He added that a donor conference for the initiative will kick off in Warsaw in September with the Hague hopefully hosting another fundraising later this year.
The idea to create a Russian-language news agency stems from a Dutch-funded study on counter-propaganda by the European Endowment for Democracy (EED). The EED, a “brainchild of the Polish government,” as the Carnegie institute calls it, was established in October 2012 to support pro-democracy activists and organizations in Eastern Europe. In December 2014, EDD decided to expand their reach into Russia.
In May the organization recommended creating a “news hub” to exchange news material among leading Russian language media and launch a “content factory,” as well as a research center to study audience behavior.
A source within the project at EED told the EU observer that the new agency will be a “content factory” working as “a kind of European BBC”. The publication also reports that foreign service agencies from other EU states are also “taking action” since March to “challenge Russia’s … disinformation campaigns.”
So far five experts, from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and the UK, have been employed to lead a new communications cell called East StratCom Team.
In an interview with Carnegie Europe, Jerzy Pomianowski, the EDDs executive director said that the organization is working with a group of 90 experts and media representatives to analyze their target audience and “what kind of content is needed.”
“With the support of a grant from the Dutch government, we have launched a feasibility study on Russian-language media initiatives. This is about providing Russian-language alternatives to Russian state broadcasting for societies in the Eastern Partnership countries and beyond,” Pomianowski said in March.
Meanwhile at stateside, US Senator John McCain has once again called on Washington and the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to spread its outreach to counter Russian messaging. In June, McCain co-sponsored a bill requesting $728.2 million for the BBG to carry out international communications campaigns. That is in an addition to BBG’s $15.4 million request in April to expand its Russian-language programming and social media content projects.
“I love our folks in Prague and Radio Free Europe and all that, but we have got to catch up. We’ve got to catch up and understand that this is also a message of loyalties and truth. And we’re going to need to do a lot more,” McCain said in a speech to the Hudson Institute.
The Senator stressed that Russia’s news outreach could be countered by propaganda means alone, something that was done during the Cold War.
“One of the key elements of winning the Cold War without firing a shot… is the propaganda – the message, the social networking,” he said. “My friends, there is an inundation today in the Baltic, in Moldova, in Romania, and Poland even of Russian constant, incessant sophisticated messages that we have to counter.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry earlier criticized EU drafted information warfare initiatives to target so-called Russian propaganda. According to the ministry such activity is “clearly aimed at pushing out Russia’s presence in the international media field.”
Last month it was reported that EU has drafted a plan to counter what it sees as “Russian disinformation activities” calling for the promotion of EU policies in the post-Soviet space and the implementation of measures against Russian media, including RT.
The governmental commission for legislation has approved a bill that if passed would allow Russia to impound property of foreign states, so long as Russian courts rule these countries are infringing the sovereignty of Russian jurisdiction.
According to business daily Kommersant, the government will shortly look into the draft and then it will be submitted to the parliament.
The current draft, developed by the Justice Ministry, would give Russian courts more powers to impound the property of foreign states. Currently such steps are only allowed on condition the government of the country in question agrees. The new rules would cancel this stipulation and introduce another – impounding would only be possible as a reciprocal measure after a court decides that a nation has damaged the economic or other interests of the Russian Federation.
The Justice Ministry said in comments that the main idea behind the bill was to ensure a “jurisdiction balance” between Russia and foreign states. “The number of lawsuits against the Russian Federation is constantly growing and this happens without asking for our agreement for participation in these processes,” ministry sources told Kommersant. Therefore, recognizing the ruling of foreign courts is equal to conceding national sovereignty, they added.
In early July, mass media reported that several European countries, such as Belgium and France had frozen Russian state companies’ assets and curtailed their agencies in these countries. The move was in connection with the June 2014 ruling by the International Court in The Hague that ordered Russia to pay compensation of $39.9 billion, $1.85 billion and $8.2 billion to three companies connected with Yukos. The oil giant was dissolved in 2007 after its top managers and key owners were jailed for tax evasion.
The Russian Foreign Ministry described these steps as blatant violation of international law and promised to contest these decisions. President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the heads of international news agencies that Russia would challenge the decision to seize its assets. The president added that the country didn’t recognize the ruling of the Hague court, as it doesn’t participate in the European Energy Charter.
Earlier this month, the Russian Constitutional Court decided that no international treaty or convention has precedence over national sovereignty, and decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) should be upheld only when they don’t contradict basic Russian law. The judge who announced the ruling explained that Russia can now refuse to fulfill the obligations imposed by the ECHR rulings, when such a refusal is the only way to prevent the violation of the basic law.
The same judge also told reporters there was a possibility the Constitutional Court would investigate the Yukos case, but only if it is taken to court by the plaintiffs. Besides, the Justice Ministry issued a statement saying all its actions connected with the ECHR’s ruling on the ‘Yukos vs. Russia’ case would be based on the ruling establishing the priority of the Russian Constitution.
These comments apparently concerned the ECHR’s ruling in July 2014 that ordered Russia to pay $2.5 billion in compensation and legal expenses to former Yukos shareholders.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael Halqi has said joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will allow Damascus easier economic and trade cooperation with friendly nations. Russia and Belarus are also discussing a new loan to Syria.
“Negotiations with Russia on joining the Eurasian Union and customs-free zone are being held. We see this as a benefit and strengthening the relations with friendly states, which will facilitate economic and trade cooperation with them,” said Halqi in an interview with RIA Novosti Tuesday.
According to the prime minister, Russia and Syria have signed a number of contracts for the construction of gas processing plants, irrigation facilities and power stations. In 2013, an agreement was signed for Russian companies to develop oil fields on the Syrian coast. The first phase is worth $88 million and will last for five years.
The countries are also discussing the expansion of loans to Damascus.
“Negotiations with Russia and Belarus on the provision of new lines of credit continue. It will help to meet the needs of production, create new opportunities for the development of the internal market and economic process,” said the prime minister.
He expressed the hope that Russia would help the Syrian government “to cope with the brutal attacks, including the unjust economic sanctions imposed by the West.”
Halqi said that credits between Iran and Syria have already been implemented. The two countries have signed and implemented two lines of credit, of which $3.6 billion Tehran has allocated for projects related to oil and $1 billion for the delivery of humanitarian aid, including food, medicines, hospital equipment and components for power plants.
The prime minister said that Syria appreciates all the efforts made by the Russian leadership to maintain the policy and economy of Syria during the years of crisis, and specifically thanked Moscow for donating 100,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.