Kasparov calls Europe to Arms on Russia

Garry Kasparov, writing in The Guardian  with the endorsement of a host of Russian human rights activists (the article has drawn more than 100 comments):

In the capitals of European democracies, leaders are hailing a new era of co-operation with Russia. Berlin claims a “special relationship” with Moscow and is moving forward on a series of major energy projects with Russian energy giant Gazprom, one of which is led by the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi traveled to St Petersburg late last year to join in the celebration of his “great friend” Vladimir Putin’s 59th birthday. And in Paris, negotiations are under way for a major arms sale that would allow Russia to acquire one of the most advanced ships in the French navy.

At the same time, democratic dissent inside Russia has been ruthlessly suppressed. On 31 January, the Russian government refused to allow the peaceful assembly of citizens who demonstrated in support of … the right to free assembly, enshrined in article 31 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: the right “to gather peacefully and to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets”.

Likewise, Russian journalists have been increasingly harassed for expressing any criticism of the government. But prosecution is hardly the worst outcome for Russian journalists who fail to report the news in a “patriotic” manner. In 2009, more than dozen of journalists, human rights activists and political opponents were killed.

Having stifled internal criticism of its policies in the Caucasus, the Russian government is now turning its attention to those who criticise them from abroad – and it is being abetted in this project by European businesses and governments. The last victim of Moscow’s censors and their western friends is called Perviy Kavkazskiy (First-Caucasian). This young Russian-language television station was, until the end of January, freely available to people living in Russian-speaking areas. Now, Eutelsat – the leading European satellite provider based in Paris – has taken the channel off the air and refuses to implement the contract negotiated with the TV.

It seems the Russian company Intersputnik made Eutelsat an offer it couldn’t refuse on 15 January, holding out the possibility of millions of dollars in business with the media holdings of Russian gas giant Gazprom on the condition that Eutelsat stop doing business with First-Caucasian. Eutelsat capitulated and sent a disastrous message to the world: no Russian-language television that is not controlled by the Kremlin will be allowed to be aired in the Russian Federation. Even if it is based abroad. Even if it has a contract with a European satellite provider.

The English-language satellite channel, Russia Today, funded and controlled by the Russian government, did not face such problems with European satellites. This channel has recently launched an advertising blitz in the United States and the United Kingdom featuring billboards that show the face of US President Barack Obama morphing into that of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Nobody raised any concerns about Russia Today and western viewers will be allowed to receive the propaganda that is broadcasted in Russia. But the very idea of an alternative channel in Russian language seems too “provocative” to some Europeans.

Eutelsat’s collaboration with these policies is a clear violation of the spirit of the EU laws protecting freedom of the press, and French courts may well find that the firm violated more than just the spirit of the law as the case against Eutelstat unfolds in the coming weeks. Still, this is just the latest example of European complicity in the Kremlin’s consolidation of political power inside the country and its reconstitution of the military used to coerce those nations that lie just across the border.

This is the context in which came recent reports that the French government intends to go forward with the sale to Russia of one or more Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. The Russian military has not concealed its plan for these weapons. In September of last year, the Russian admiral Vladimir Vysotsky triumphantly declared that “a ship like this would have allowed the Black Sea fleet to accomplish its mission [invading Georgia] in 40 minutes and not 26 hours”.

Only a little more than a year ago, as Russian tanks occupied parts of Georgia, Nato secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer declared that there could be “no business as usual with Russia under present circumstances”. Russian forces still occupy Georgian territory, in violation of the ceasefire brokered by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and yet Nato, too, is back to business as usual with Putin’s regime.

As Moscow shuts down opposition newspapers, arrests journalists who fail to toe the government line and bullies its democratic neighbours into submission, some European leaders are not silent. Instead they are arguing for closer ties to Moscow, for energy cooperation, for military for arms deals.

European leaders must take a stand for freedom of speech and in defence of the free media that enables it. This starts by making clear to European companies that they are not supposed to be the obedient tools of the Kremlin’s censorship. The same leaders should also show that, at the beginning of the 21st century, one cannot occupy a foreign territory without consequence. It clearly does not imply selling weapons to occupation forces. At stake is not only the freedom of Russian citizens, but also the very meaning and the honour of Europe.

The following people endorse this article: Elena Bonner-Sakharov; Konstantin Borovoï, chairman of the Party for Economic Freedom; Vladimir Boukovsky, former political prisoner; Natalia Gorbanevskaia, poet, former political prisoner; Andreï Illarionov, former adviser to Vladimir Putin; Garry Kasparov, leader of United Citizens Front; Serguei Kovaliev, former minister to Boris Yeltsin; Andreï Mironov, former political prisoner; Andreï Nekrasov, filmmaker; Valeria Novodvorskaya, leader of Democratic Unity of Russia; Oleg Panfilov, TV presenter; Grigory Pasko, journalist, ecology activist, former political prisoner; Leonid Pliouchtch, essayist, former political prisoner; Alexandre Podrabinek, journalist, former political prisoner; Zoïa Svetova, journalist; Maïrbek Vatchagaev, historian; Tatiana Yankelevitch, archivist, Harvard; Lydia Youssoupova, lawyer

32 responses to “Kasparov calls Europe to Arms on Russia

  1. The Europeans have a bad history regarding dealing with the likes of Russia. Hopefully the Tea Party movement takes hold in Europe like it is trying to do in England.

  2. Kasparov wrote:
    [The same leaders should also show that, at the beginning of the 21st century, one cannot occupy a foreign territory without consequence.]

    Gary, occupying a foreign territory is quite in vogue at the beginning of the 21st century. Look up the country called The United States of America and its occupation of Iraq.

  3. Tea Party? Wasn’t that a protest against the British some time in the 18th century? Don’t think it will catch on here.

    The Europeans, West Europeans with the exception of Britain value their commercial ties with Russia more than Russia’s regression back into authoritarianism.

    With Ukraine once more falling under Russian influence. Europe has no appetite to confront Russia. There is no coherent European strategy on Russia, Russia has successfully through bi-lateral agreements & trade rendered Europe impotent.

    Kasparov, and his US friends should focus their energy on convincing Germany, France, and Italy to take a more robust and aggressive position towards Russia.

    • Warren,

      What does the Tea Party have to do with Russia? The modern Tea Party is an angry response bu the right wing in USA to the election of a Democrat to the US presidency.

      • Arthur

        You’re asking the wrong person, that question should be asked to Ron as he mentioned the Tea Party first.

        • No problem, Warren. The russophobic idiots view all internal US politics through the prism of russophobia: “Since Tea Party is for Republican presidency, its goal must be to defeat Russia”. I bet many russophobes would vote for a KKK candidate if he said he would be tough on Russia.

          • Who told you they are for Republicans? Some portion of them sure is, but what about the rest? Tea party people tend to be independent, with some right-of-center libertarian orientation. It appears they don’t like Republicans very much either. Ron Paul is their hero. Anyway, I think they help Democrats more than they do Republicans, as they will split conservative vote.

            Why are we even talking about them anyway?

            • [Ron Paul is their hero. ]

              But Ron Paul is LR’s biggest enemy, because he thinks that USA should stop provoking Russia into the new Cold War and he is against warmongering foreign policy in general.

              Then the idea of Tea Party gaining power in USA should make LR very unhappy.

              [with some right-of-center libertarian orientation.]

              But Libertarians don’t want hostilities with Russia.

              So, the Tea Party has doom and gloom in store for russophobes, right?

              Just look at some of her articles:

              https://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/editorial-ron-paul-american-idiot/

              EDITORIAL: Ron Paul, American Idiot

              And that’s why, when we surveyed the U.S. presidential candidates during the primaries last year, we found that Mr. Paul’s knowledge and policies regarding Russia were by far the most ignorant and harmful to both the U.S. and Russia, the most bizarrely at variance with the other candidates and his own party, the party of Ronald Reagan.

              Read some of his crazed writings for yourself. This man is a dangerous racist psychopath. So naturally he’s in love with Vladimir Putin. Birds of a feather!
              ……………………..

              So, Putin and the Tea Party are “birds of feather”, eh? :-)

      • Well Artie, if you were little better informed you’d know that (a) Republican John McCain called for open confrontation of Putin’s Russia, including booting it out of the G-8 and (b) we’ve often shown how Obama is weak on Russia. So if the Tea Party movement means Republicans taking back power and following the course of Ronald Reagan, then Putin is in big trouble.

        It’s really not all that complicated.

      • RV wrote:
        [Who told you they are for Republicans? ]

        LR. She says that “it’s really not all that complicated” to her.

  4. There have been Tea Party demonstrations in England. No doubt the press has not reported this fact. The Tea Party movement may be going international.

    • [There have been Tea Party demonstrations in England. No doubt the press has not reported this fact. ]

      Then how do you know about them?

  5. Apparently the first Tea Party demo is set for Saturday in Great Britain.

    I have seen their first sign which says,”KING GEORGE DIDN’T LISTEN TO US EITHER”.

    Go into Ace of Spades Hq. or http://ace.mu.nu//

    This movement may go no where, but it is apparently happening.

  6. Also google “british tea party”.

  7. The logic of “King George” in all this escapes me, but they apparently need to start somewhere.

    I might go into the pitchfork business. They should sell like hotcakes near these demonstrations. The participants look really angry.

    • Ron,

      Are you saying that you fail to see the historical connection between King George III and the Boston Tea Party? You don’t understand why they write: “KING GEORGE DIDN’T LISTEN TO US EITHER”? And you think the term “Boston Tea Party” has a good chance of attracting a large British following? LOL.

      [Also google “british tea party”]

      OK. I did. It returned:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party

      The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government… The North ministry’s solution was the Tea Act, which received the assent of King George on May 10, 1773.

  8. Google is fairly large. Keep trying. There is an article in “The Atlantic”.

    Also it is not a “Boston tea party”.

    The tea party movement is very large. It doesn’t take that much to tip an election.

    • Ron,

      The Tea Party movement is named after the Boston Tea Party:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Party_movement

      The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, whose principal aim was to protest taxation without representation in the British Parliament [6] rather than protesting taxes in general. Tea Party protests have nevertheless sought to evoke similar images, slogans, and themes to this period in American history.[7][8][9]

  9. Yes I understand where the tea party demonstrators got the name.

    The question is, what is going on in England???

    It is surprising to me to see these kind of protests spreading to Europe.

    I suppose we are getting a little off the subject regarding Russia.

    • In England? You mean, tax protesters? I am not sure. But certainly they will not call themselves “tea party” because the original Tea Party was anti-British.

      Russia? Why should they protest high taxes, when their taxes are only 13% flat (afaik)? It is the political democracy, not taxes, that Russians should demonstrate for.

  10. For the first time ever I’m going to agree with Artie here, it’s highly unlikely that the “Tea Party” could spread outside the US. The Tea Party is just an astroturf project aggressively promoted by Faux News and hate radio, it’s hard to take them seriously.

    Even if the “Tea Party” were in power (God forbid!) it’s not as if we could expect a more principled foreign policy. Let’s not forget that historically it was the Democratic Party that took a more interventionist stance in foreign affairs, especially with regard to the Soviet Union. McCain is a bad example, he’s always been a liberal Republican (despite his trainwreck of a campaign in 2008).

  11. I agree that tea party is an odd name, but that is not the issue. It is the criminal left that the people can finally see. The left became crazy and finally revealed themselves.

  12. Oh come on Ron, what “criminal left”? What are you talking about?

  13. The criminal left that destroyed England. That inviteds in people like themselves such as islam. That runs up huge debts and steals most of the money. That complains about restrictions in the constitution such as balance of powers that temporarily blocks their money grabbing. That uses phoney devices to block our energy production that forces us to deploy an expensive military to the middle east, etc.

    • Ron,

      What’s wrong with Islam? Most Islamists hate Russia. The great anti-Russian Chechen and Kosovo terrorists are islamists.

      Your British hero and the notorious former KGB murderer Litvinenko converted to Islam before his death. So should all Londoners who hate Russia.

      Inch Allah!

  14. [The criminal left … forces us to deploy an expensive military to the middle east]

    Are you saying that if the Conservatives were in power in UK in the 2000s, they would have refused Bush’s and BP’s request to send the British troops into Afghanistan and Iraq to help their American brothers fight terrorism and WMDs?

  15. Different subject Arthur.

    I believe the Republican party is awful.

    I believe the Democrats are evil.

    Take your choice.

    The tea party types are at least stirring the pot.

    • But I am not asking you about Republicans and Democrats in USA.

      I am asking you about your remark that you blame the Labour Party in UK for “deploying an expensive military to the middle east”. So, I am asking you: what would have Conservatives done?

  16. When I said, “Different subject Arthur”. I meant that you did not address my central point which is close our borders, keep our troops at home, develope our own energy resources and defend ourselves.

  17. It’s funny how out of the 100 generated replies to the article you mentioned, most of them are bashing Kasparov’s left-wing b.s.

    Read the top (latest) batch of the replies alone, most of the Europeans are more on Russia’s side

  18. UK has been invaded by the labor party the left). Similarly California has been invaded although CA might recover.

    The UK conservatives are weak minded so there is no hope for UK.

    Similarly Greece has been invaded with the usually results.

    What would the conservatives have done??? It is too late. The final step after the left has finished is some form of authoritarian government. This is the usual historical pattern.

    If the tea party types are tough enough the USA might recover. We will see.

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