Daily Archives: July 19, 2007

July 19, 2007 — Contents

THURSDAY JULY 19 CONTENTS


(1) Battle Berezovsky: Neo-Soviet Russia Declares War on Britain, Civilized World

(2) Annals of the Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Journalism

(3) Annals of Neo-Soviet Persecution of Homosexuals

(4) A Letter to the Telegraph

(5) Annals of Screwball Yuri Mamchur: Exposed by the Blogosphere!

NOTE: Check out La Russophobe‘s editorial on Publius Pundit calling upon the world to rally to Great Britain’s aid as it is besieged by the barbaric hoards of Russia. As we report below, yet another plot against a Russian dissident has been uncovered in London (arrests have already been made), even as Russia is protecting the killer in the first incident. Neo-Soviet Russia is at last fully exposed before the eyes of the world. To action! No time to lose! And remember you were warned on this blog more than a year ago that this was coming.

Battle Berezovsky

The Beeb reports on a threat against the life of dissident oligarch Boris Berezovsky. BB’s critics may well point out how “convenient” it is that this “threat” emerges just when BB has been indicted for fraud in Brazil. What they won’t notice is just how “convenient” that indictment itself is, coming just when the Kremlin has entered a massive diplomatic conflict with Britain over its refusal to extradite accused Litvinenko killer Andrei Lugovoi. Does the Kremlin have its malignant hooks into the Brazilian government? Or did that government just so happen to decide to move against BB right at the perfect time? A fascinating story is unfolding, to be sure. The European Union has stepped solidly behind Britain in the confrontation. The new cold war has begun. Vladimir Putin has led his country into a battle with NATO, the EU and the USA that it can’t possibly even wage, much less win — in other words, he’s led it to the brink of utter ruin.

Exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky has claimed British intelligence officers thwarted a plot to kill him.

Mr Berezovsky told the BBC he had been warned about the alleged plot by sources in Russia and Scotland Yard. The Sun newspaper reported that a Russian hitman had been hired to execute him at a London hotel. The claims could further damage Russia-UK relations which are already strained in a row over extradition.

‘Business reasons’

Mr Berezovsky, 61, who lives in London, told BBC Radio Five Live he had received information about the alleged plot from sources in Russia. He said he was told that “someone who you know will come to Britain, he will try to connect to you, and when you meet him he will just kill you and will not try to hide”. The killer would then say the murder was “just because of business reasons”, Mr Berezovsky said. “And in this case he will get 20 years, he will spend just 10 years in jail, he will be released, his family will be paid, he will be paid and so on,” he added. Mr Berezovsky’s spokeswoman said he had been informed of the alleged plot three weeks ago and had been advised to leave the country for a week. The Sun claims Britain’s security services, MI5 and MI6, intercepted intelligence about the plot and the hitman was seized within the last two weeks. Neither police or security officials have commented on the allegations. The Sun’s political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, said it was not clear what had happened to the alleged hitman. “The security surrounding this case is so incredibly tight because of the diplomatic ramifications that we have not yet established where he’s been taken, whether or not he’s been charged, what the situation is,” he told BBC One’s Breakfast.

‘No involvement’

Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Yuri Fedotov, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was “nothing that could confirm” the plot. Asked if the Russian government was involved, he said: “It is excluded.” The claims come after Britain expelled four Russian diplomats in the escalating row over the murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Moscow has refused to hand over the man suspected of the murder – Andrei Lugovoi, another former KGB agent. Mr Lugovoi denies involvement. Russia says it is planning a “targeted and appropriate” response to the expulsions, adding that its constitution prevents it from extraditing its citizens to face trial in another country. Speaking on BBC2’s Newsnight on Tuesday, Mr Berezovsky urged Mr Lugovoi to submit himself for trial in a third country like Germany, Denmark or Norway. Mr Berezovsky added: “Maybe the Russian constitution is against [extradition] but Lugovoi personally, if he wants to clear the situation, he is able to travel anywhere he wants if he feels he is not guilty.” Mr Fedotov later told the BBC Britain’s decision to halt contact with Russia’s Federal Security Service would harm its fight against terror. “So by stopping these contacts, the British authorities are punishing themselves,” he said.

Response ‘considered’

A full statement is expected from Moscow, which has warned Britain to expect “serious consequences”. But the Foreign Office said it had set out its position, adding: “No retaliation on Russia’s behalf is justified.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official spokesman said any formal response from Moscow would be “considered carefully”. Mr Litvinenko died of exposure to radioactive polonium-210 in London in November 2006. The radioactive isotope used to poison him was found in several places that Mr Lugovoi had visited in London. But Mr Lugovoi told Russian television that the outcome of the inquiry had been predetermined. Under the European Convention on Extradition 1957, Russia has the right to refuse the extradition of a citizen. The UK has the right to request Mr Lugovoi be tried in Russia, but the UK’s director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, has already turned down the offer. He recommended Mr Lugovoi be tried for murder by “deliberate poisoning”.

The Associated Press reports that British authorities have already made an arrest. LR dares to wonder how long it will be before the crazed Russophiles try to claim that Berezovsky paid to have himself assassinated just so he could laugh at Putin from the grave.

Police said Wednesday they had arrested a man suspected of plotting to kill Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian tycoon and vehement Kremlin critic who is one of the key figures in the escalating tensions between Moscow and London. The Metropolitan Police said the man was arrested June 21 and turned over to immigration authorities two days later. The police did not further identify the man and British immigration officials declined to comment; the Russian Embassy said it had not been notified of such an arrest.

The police statement came hours after Berezovsky said he had fled the country for about a week in mid-June after police warned him his life was in danger. Berezovsky was a close associate of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who was killed in London last year with a dose of the radioactive isotope polonium-210. Litvinenko, also a harsh Kremlin critic who had received asylum in Britain, alleged in a deathbed statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his poisoning. Britain named Andrei Lugovoi, a Russian businessman and former KGB agent, as a suspect in the Litvinenko murder and demanded his extradition. Russia refused, saying it is constitutionally prohibited. Britain on Monday said it would expel four Russian diplomats in response to the extradition refusal, and Moscow threatened unspecified strong measures in return.

The dispute marks a new low in Russia-Britain relations, which already had been troubled by Russia’s opposition to the war in Iraq, by Britain’s refusal to extradite Berezovsky to face embezzlement charges and by Moscow’s allegation last year of spying by British diplomats. The alleged plot against Berezovsky is likely to increase widespread suspicion that Russian agents are aiming to wipe out prominent political foes abroad. Russian agents killed a top Chechen separatist leader in 2004 in Qatar, and Russia later passed a law authorizing its forces to act against enemies overseas. “I am happy that the British are very strong in protecting people,” Berezovsky told the British Broadcasting Corp. “I don’t have any chance to be alive, if not for the protection of the state which gave me asylum.”

There was no confirmation that the alleged assassination plot was connected with Berezovsky’s dissident views. He is one of the richest of the so-called “oligarchs” who amassed gargantuan wealth in shadowy privatization deals after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Berezovsky says he would be willing to face the Russian charges against him if the trial were held in a neutral country’s court, and he has suggested Lugovoi consider a similar arrangement. Russia has made no official response to that idea and Britain openly dismisses it. “We want the trial to be in a British court, on British soil,” said Michael Ellam, the spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Europe Minister Jim Murphy told the Foreign Affairs select committee Wednesday that Britain had made a targeted and measured response to Russia. Britain’s refusal to extradite Berezovsky, who was granted British citizenship after fleeing Russia, has long angered the Kremlin.

The Foreign Office said in a document Wednesday that relations with Moscow have been “overshadowed by tensions” over asylum granted to Russian dissidents. Moscow has not “fully accepted that these questions are matters of law, not of politics or diplomacy,” said the document, prepared by officials as part of a parliamentary inquiry into Russian-British relations. Berezovsky, a one-time Kremlin insider who has fallen out with Putin, said Wednesday he fled Britain briefly last month because British intelligence services told him his life was in danger. “I was informed by Scotland Yard that there was a plot to kill me, and they recommended to me to leave the country,” Berezovsky told The Associated Press. He said he left Britain for about a week and returned when informed the plot had been foiled. Berezovsky was granted political asylum in Britain in 2003. His visibility has increased since Litvinenko’s murder. Scotland Yard confirmed Berezovsky’s remarks, saying they had arrested a man on suspicion of conspiring to murder the tycoon on June 21. Police said the suspect was handed over to immigration officials two days later. “Berezovsky is a very high-profile critic of the Putin regime, and history does show that it would appear that the Russians are prepared to take action against their critics abroad,” said a MI5 domestic intelligence agency official, who demanded anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence work. The official could not say whether British intelligence services believe Russia has tried to attack dissidents in London since Litvinenko’s murder. But the official confirmed that about 30 Russian spies are believed to be based in London to monitor exiles in the city.

Russian Ambassador Yury Fedotov told BBC radio said the alleged plot to assassinate Berezovsky was “quite strange information, and I have nothing that could confirm it.” He alleged Berezovsky is linked “to many criminal international schemes of money laundering, corruption and organized crime.” Berezovsky said he first learned of the plot through contacts within Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the KGB. “They told me that someone I knew would come and kill me openly and present it as a business matter. He would say there was a disagreement over the business,” he said.

Annals of the Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Journalism in Russia

Canada’s Globe & Mail reports on the continuing saga of barbaric, uncivilized treatment of journalists in Russia (in related news, the deputy head of German publishing giant Bertelsmann’s operations in Russia has been found brutally stabbed in her dacha in Moscow):

Once, Andrei Kalitin was part of a new breed of young, hot-shot Russian journalists, riding the wave of openness that washed over the country when the former Soviet Union collapsed. As a reporter for the independent, investigative television program Sovershenno Sekretno (Top Secret), Mr. Kalitin covered war, organized crime and political scandal with equal gusto – and collected a slew of prizes along the way. One high point was his scoop on a justice official whom Mr. Kalitin caught in a Russian bath house with prostitutes. The official later resigned. And, early in his presidency, Vladimir Putin himself presented Mr. Kalitin with a crystal-studded watch for his contributions to Russian society.

“It was a crazy time,” Mr. Kalitin, 37, says wistfully of his muckraking days. “It was very interesting for me.” But times have changed for people and organizations charged with scrutinizing Russia’s shaky democracy. Journalists are especially vulnerable. Thirteen have been slain in contract-style killings in the past decade, according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

And not one death has been solved.

Last month, Mr. Kalitin survived a shooting that might have made him No. 14. On a rainy June evening, as he left his Moscow high-rise for the subway, a man approached him on the sidewalk, raised a revolver and fired. Mr. Kalitin believes the shooting is connected to a book he wrote, to be published next month, alleging Mafia involvement in Russia’s lucrative aluminum industry. The bullet that struck Mr. Kalitin hit him in the bicep just below his left shoulder and he was thrown to the ground. When he got up, the attacker had fled. Five days after the shooting, Mr. Kalitin sat at his kitchen table, still rattled by the attack. An open bottle of Scotch was on the table and his left bicep was wrapped in a white bandage. Nervously puffing on cigarettes and rubbing his injured shoulder, Mr. Kalitin said critical reporting has all but disappeared in Russia under Mr. Putin, who took office in 2000.

Beginning in 2001, when the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom took control of NTV, the last independent television network, Russia has gradually tightened controls on newspapers and broadcasting. Even though freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Russian constitution, opposition parties and government critics have disappeared from the airwaves. Even media watchdog groups complain they have been harassed by authorities. Nina Ognianova of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the string of unsolved assaults on reporters has weakened Russian journalism and she urged authorities to investigate the Kalitin shooting. Ms. Ognianova said it’s obvious Mr. Kalitin’s book made him a target. “Whenever someone follows the path of money, they get stopped,” she said in a telephone interview from New York.

Last month, a Russian non-profit group that receives funding from the United States and other Western countries to train journalists was shut down by a criminal investigation. Prosecutors alleged the group was laundering money after its leader was stopped by customs officials at the Moscow airport carrying about $2,500 (U.S.) more than the $10,000 permitted when entering the country. Manana Aslamazyan, who was returning from France, said the transgression was an honest mistake, and told reporters that she expected a fine. Instead, Ms. Aslamazyan faces five years in prison for smuggling. Officers from Russia’s Interior Ministry raided her Moscow-based organization, accusing the group of money laundering and freezing its bank accounts. Ms. Aslamazyan fled to Paris and the future of her group is unknown. Mr. Kalitin said the repressive atmosphere in Russia has prompted journalists to censor themselves.

Reporters and the Russian public have entered a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” pact, he said. Russians no longer have the same thirst for knowledge about their society, but journalists, too, have stopped scrutinizing their country like they did a decade ago, whether out of fear for their jobs – or their lives. In the past, Mr. Kalitin said, authorities used to react to scandals revealed in the press. “Now, nothing happens. Whatever you do, whatever you write about, there is just silence.” Mr. Kalitin himself probed the fatal shootings of two high-profile journalists: Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov, an American, and newspaper reporter Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of Russia’s involvement in Chechnya.

Mr. Kalitin suspects police won’t have any better luck with his case. “Maybe they [the police] would like to investigate, [but] they knew they would never find the assailant.” After the shooting, Mr. Kalitin called friends who took him to hospital. The next day he went to police. After that, he stayed with friends then moved to a hotel. He moved back home a week after the shooting. Doctors told him he was hit by a rubber bullet that caused only a flesh wound. Mr. Kalitin was more concerned by the lax police reaction. Police refused to open an attempted-murder investigation and called the attack an act of hooliganism. “They wouldn’t open a criminal case on a contract murder because I wasn’t shot dead,” he said. Asked whether he is afraid, Mr. Kalitin replied: “I would be an idiot to say I’m not afraid . … But I can’t go anywhere. I must stay here.” Will he continue writing books and reporting? Mr. Kalitin shrugged. “I’m sick and tired of it because no one reads it, no one reacts to it. So what is the point, if there is no result?”

Annals of the Neo-Soviet Crackdown on Gays

The New Statesman reports on what happens when a group of homosexuals tries to have a little protest party against the neo-Soviet crackdown on gays on a boat on Russia. Things went fine for a little while . . .

Then the atmosphere changed. The boat came in to dock at the second stopping points to find a jetty lined by paramilitary police. Rumours spread that they were not letting anyone on or off the boat. I pointed out how grim-faced the officers looked peering out from under their visors. “You would also not be smiling if you were paid the same as the soldiers in our army” someone said. A few heated exchanges with an officer ensued. A short-haired woman – who looked like Rosa Klebb out of From Russia with Love – patrolled the side of the boat, her hand on her holster. In the end the tension subsided and the boat moved on. Perhaps they were there to protect the boat from a boarding party of nationalists. It seemed unlikely. It also seemed absurd that a supposed European democracy like Russian was using its armed forces to police a peaceful cruise down the river. Where were these troops being diverted from – guarding a missile silo, patrolling the Chinese border? The day after the cruise religious Orthodox extremists took an iron-clad ship down the Moscow river to “cleanse it of the filth”.

A Letter to the Telegraph

Sir

You suggest that the West’s relationship with Russia can only deteriorate (Leading article, July 17), but Britain’s expulsion of Russian diplomats marks the first time that Vladimir Putin’s bluster has been met with a robust response. As such, it may in fact mark a turning point.

Whatever Russia’s response in the short term, the Kremlin is progressively isolating itself on the international stage. This is evident in Russia’s approach to the nuclear brinkmanship of North Korea and Iran, its use of hydrocarbon resources as a diplomatic weapon and its arrogant behaviour towards the former Soviet republics on its periphery.

On all these issues the EU and the other G8 countries are of one mind, as evidenced by the solidarity shown by Chancellor Merkel during the German EU presidency, with Poland, Estonia and Lithuania recently subjected to Russian bullying.

In the long term, Russia has far more to lose than Britain from this spat, and a knee-jerk reaction against British investments in Russia would ultimately be self-defeating. Reportedly, Boris Berezovsky is being sought for extradition by Brazil. It is important we prove President Putin wrong, that we allow due process and no one in Britain, no matter how rich, is above the law, and will be extradited, provided the charges are well founded and they face a fair trial in the country requesting extradition.

Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman, Brussels

Annals of Screwball Yuri Mamchur: Ruminations on Russia Blasts Russia Blog

Ruminations on Russia brilliantly exposes the fundamental fraud that lies behind Russia Blog, an embarasment to the entire blogosphere. Not surprisingly, Russia Blog attempted to censor the blogger’s attempt to comment on Russia Blog’s post itself, even though the blogger allowed the author of the post to comment on his comments (Russia Blog won’t let La Russophobe comment either). It’s the classic stuff of the neo-Soviet Union, perfectly encapsulated in the blogosphere. The author of a post on Russia blog referred to in the critique, a Kremlin shil named Vladimir Kuznetsov, makes money by convincing people to invest money in Russia by telling them how wonderful and perfect it is; naturally, he’s a perfect fit for the cretinous Russophile slobs at Russia Blog. Here’s his response to ROR’s criticism:

On a personal note, last week I was amused to read some derogatory remarks about my opinions from an anonymous blogger, who wrote about “the crap peddled by Kuznetsov from FINAM”. Apparently my “crap” is quite popular with readers visiting my site from the servers of leading global financial institutions (some people brag about the traffic to their site, but I prefer to know who is reading rather than how many).

Did he just say what we think he said? Did he say that a tiny number of people read his blog, but that tiny number is significant enough to justify whatever garbage he might choose to churn out because it’s not zero? Gosh, that logic would fully justify Hitler too, wouldn’t it? Reading between the lines, what he’s really admitting is that nobody reads his blog, it’s an obscure backwater of meaningless gibberish, which is comforting since he’s a raving, pathological propagandist making a one-sided sales pitch for personal gain and hoping to delude the unwary into plunging their money into Russia. His claim about lots of businessmen visiting his blog is belied by (a) the total absence of any actual data to support his bald claims (this is routinely the case with whatever Russia Blog publishes) and (b) the total absence of any other Technorati blog linking to him besides Russia Blog, where he republishes his filth, to say nothing of websites of famous businessmen (his blog doesn’t make the LR index) and (c) his classic, haughty “I was amused” statement and his attack on ROR’s anonymity — only uttered by the most crazed and arrogant Russophile nutjobs after they’ve been laid low (would he have mentioned anonymity if ROR had been complimenting him? it seems highly unlikely, to say the least), and (d) the fact that he has less than 300 profile views (LR has more than 5,000 and ROR has more than 1,000) and is confirmed by (d) his pathetically puny Alexa traffic rating (the relatively obscure White Sun of the Desert has far more traffic than Kuznetsov).

Here’s the ROR post in full. Mind you, ROR is himself a borderline Russophile who makes money off Russia as it is and therefore has a vested interest in sucking up to the Putin administration by attacking its critics. If HE is attacking Russia Blog for playing fast and loose with the facts, then you have some idea how very far removed from truth and reality Russia Blog really is. Simply not reliable, that’s all there is to it.

The Russia Blog, see link below, is some form of propaganda tool designed to paint a contrasting picture of Russia from the propaganda written by the western MSM. As such, I have no particular problem with it. However, where it falls apart in its role as purveyor of good news where little exists is that it knows as much about business as my now dead grandfather. The business stuff peddled by Charles Ganske is plain laughable [LR: As we’ve previously told you, until recently this so-called Russia expert, who doesn’t speak the language, had never once set foot in Russia], which is OK because he has been hired to pump out stories not to understand them, more entertaining is the crap peddled by Kuznetsov from FINAM. As convincing a sell signal on FINAM as you would ever need. I knew more about investing at kindergarten.

Which brings me slowly to the point of this post. I have been trying to discover the logic of bringing Total in to Shtockman (so naiive; logic and the Russian government in the same sentence) so amongst other trusted sources I went to The Russia Blog to see if it would peddle me an insight. Instead, is this heap of intellectual dog s**t . I cannot even bring myself to copy all of it below. (More on Total / GAZP in another post.)Two of the more egregious sentences are quoted below, but its pretty difficult differentiating between the rubbish:

Last week France’s Total S.A. agreed to a 25% stake in a major Russian oil and gas project, while the state-owned firm OAO Rosneft forged a new partnership with Royal Dutch Shell.

In an attempt to head off any future supply crunch, the Russian government is now allowing Gazprom to raise rates across the board, while encouraging the development of coal and nuclear power plants to diversify fuel sources for the power grid.

I attempted to comment on the post but I was told that it did not exist. So below is my comment in full and without editing:

If you have even the slightest pretense at intellectual honesty you will re-write this entry somewhat along the following lines;

1. BP, Shell and Total sign long-term meaningless agreements to develop russian reserves after having had to sell down their holdings in major opportunities after pressure was exerted for them to do just that – the new owner being allowed to continue to do what the previous owner was not allowed to.

2. Oil production at post-soviet peak, but declines now forecast by everyone as the easy post-soviet workovers are now done and no one has invested in exploration for almost 2 decades.

3. Total, a company with no arctic experience brought in to Shtockman to….increase arctic experience.

4.Gazprom, despite having a monopoly on export cannot meet current domestic demand, ask Luzhkov, and is getting Russian local prices up to export netback whilst keeping its export and pipeline monopoly. To hide the fact that it has not invested in upstream for 2 decades is buying in to coal and electricity, it being easier to engineer a purchase in the kremlin that find gas in the arctic – see total.

We all know that you write propaganda, sometimes its ok, this however flies in the face of all established facts. the trouble with hiring liberal arts students to write is that they know nothing about business and cannot be bothered to research it and don’t understand it when they do.

NB: ROR’s anger-inspired profanity has been edited by LR.