Tag Archives: Russia

Russia Got Georgia On Its Mind

Vice President Joe Biden is in Georgia to renew ties with that nation even as Russia and Prime Minister Mikhail Saakashvilli were once again in a contest of words. The Russian government has made clear it will not tolerate other nations rebuilding the military forces of Georgia and is prepared to take “concrete steps” to prevent that from occurring. The Russian foreign ministry warned it would “sever military cooperation with any nation” that furnishes military assistance to Georgia. Biden told cheering crowds that “we, the United States, sand by you on your journey to a secure, free, democratic and once again united Georgia.” Although, the Obama administration has emphasized it will not sell out allies, there is always reality and the need to work with Russia on broader issues related to peace.

Barack Obama claims Russian President Medvedev has promised to withdraw his troops in Georgia to pre-conflict areas. The issue of the origin of the Georgia-Russian conflict are still unclear and there is some evidence Georgia initiated the conflict. Prudence suggests offering words, but not guns to the government of Saakashvilli.

Democracy Russian Style — Open The Mail!!

President Obama recently visited Russia and had conversations with President Medvedev in which the Russian leader asserted his firm belief in freedom and democracy. Unfortunately, he never communicated that belief to his prime minister, the ever powerful Putin. The Russian police, the Federal Security Service and other agencies will now have power to open the mail of people for whom they suspect of criminal behavior. The Russian Constitution, Article 23, provides for “privacy of correspondence” but apparently the police and other security agencies never go around to reading it. The new regulation does not mention anything about obtaining a court order although the law requires such action prior to checking mail.

According to security agencies, “the document was approved by the Justice Ministry, which means that it corresponds with the Constitution..” This is an interesting way to determine if something is constitutional, ask those violating the Constitution if what they are doing is legal!!

Death Of Rights Activist-Death Of Russian Freedom!

Natalia Estemirova was leaving for work when four men grabbed her and the fighter for human rights into their car as she shouted, “I am being kidnapped.” A few hours later the body of one of Russia’s most prominent defenders of human rights was found by the roadside with bullets in her head and chest. Russian human rights activists once again expressed their outrage at the death of someone who fights to uncover human rights violations in a nation that is still governed by Putin’s ideas concerning justice– whatever the government does is correct and it is only justice for all to do as they are told. Ironically, the murder of this wonderful woman came a week after President Obama visited Russia and discussed with President Medvedev the importance of human rights.

Estimirova was a close friend and colleague of Anna Politkovskaya who was murdered outside of her apartment in 2006. As of this date, there is no evidence anyone who kills human rights defenders will ever be convicted, let alone see the inside of a prison. In Putin, Russia, it is not the rule of law that dominates, but the rule of the gun. The trial of those accused of killing Politkovskaya was a farce and if Putin gets around to having another trial, we can guarantee it will be an even greater farce.

Obama On Putin-Old Ways Outdated!

President Barack Obama is headed for Russia to engage in discussions both with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin about ways to move forward in securing peace in the world. He admitted to AP that Putin still retains extensive sway over Russian policy and it is necessary to work with him on any plans for future relations between Russia and the United States. However, Obama hopes Putin will put aside “the old cold war approaches to US-Russian relations” and enter a new concept of partnership. “I think Medvedev understands that. I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new.” He wants to emphasize there is no antagonistic relationship between the two nations.

It might assist in moving into a new partnership if the United States would abandon its hostile anti-missile program of constructing bases on the border or Russia. Those bases are antagonistic and have no place in the modern world. The United States and Russia must move forward into a new era of partnership for peace. Obama is correct that Putin is tied to old conflicts, but unless President Obama abandons the Bush missile plan which makes absolutely no sense, then Russia is correct in maintaining the Americans are locked in Cold War thinking.

Should Mein Kampf Be Banned?

A popular Russian web site which offers material on the past history of Russia has been blocked because it published Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The site, Hronos.info was told by the St. Petersburg police it would be shut down because it is illegal to publish Mein Kampf in Russia. Hronos.info posts articles and scanned historical documents to assist those attempting to dig into Russia’s past history. Ironically, even a book by British historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper, a well known expert on Hitler, is banned because of its title, “Hitler’s Table Talk.” Those in charge of the site now have a warning and if they persist in publishing banned material they may face criminal prosecution.

The history of World War II is a controversial topic because leaders like Putin have their interpretation of the conflict and do not want contrary materials online. For example, most historians of World War II are aware Dictator Joseph Stalin was sent data from the British telling him Russia would be invaded by Germany in mid-June, 1941 but he refused to accept their information. The Putin version is of the great hero Stalin who from the first moment led his people.

The other issue is should any book be banned? Frankly, it is not that difficult obtaining a copy of Mein Kampf if the desire is present to read the rambling, at points, incoherent words of Hitler. It is doubtful even the most rabid neo-Nazi would ever get through the volume. Frankly, let them read the book, it might convince some that Hitler lacked any coherent ideas.

Obama Supports Medvedev On Freedom

President Barack Obama told the Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta of his firm belief that Russian President Medvedev was working to further the concept of freedom in his nation. “I agree with President Medvedev when he said that freedom is a better way of life for a country. “I see no reason why we cannot aspire together to strengthen democracy.” He also expressed his hope both nations can reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals and deal with the divisive program of former president Bush to build an anti-missile system on the border of Russia.

A key issue of human rights in Russia is the imprisonment of MIkhail Khodorkovsky whose trial is generally viewed as a kangeroo court interested in conviction rather than justice. Obama hopes that Medvedev will change the Putin oppressive actions toward those fighting for human rights. Perhaps, at some point Medvedev will challenge Putin and create a democratic society.

Pay Up Or Go To Hell In Russia!

The recession in Russia has resulted in large numbers of people who are unable to repay loans or other debts. As a result, the Federal Court Marshals Service is faced with an ever increasing load of back cases. In desperation, the Russian government has turned to the Moscow Patriarchate for assistance. The Marshals and the Church have assigned priests to offer sermons in their churches which denounce failure to repay debts as a sin. “Priests will say that unpaid debt is the same as theft in Christianity. The Marshal Service is reported in discussions with Muslim religious leaders to get the good word worked into sermons from imams. Buddhists who teach reincarnation teach failure to pay off debts means one carries them into the next alternative life. I am not exactly clear how becoming a dog enables one to pay off past debts. Perhaps, one can pay off in dog biscuits.

The entire episode is ridiculous and violates the very foundation of Christianity. Does anyone actually believe Jesus Christ would stand at the door of the pearly gates of heaven checking bank accounts and debts?

P.S. Just wondering, but how come no discussion with rabbis to slip in a few good words about paying off debts?

Russian — US Arms Talks Progesses

The administration of former president George Bush created issues with Russia that resulted in a breakdown of any possibility of reducing arms and nuclear stockpiles. The Russian foreign ministry reported progress in discussions with the current Obama administration on arms control, particularly dismantling the vast nuclear weapons that were built during the Cold War. “There is an active negotiating process going on at the moment to work out an agreement that would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” said a Russian official. There is hope both sides can come to an agreement in time when President Obama and President Medvedev meet in July.

The reduction–or elimination– of these vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons is an important first step in making the world a bit safer. There is no need in the modern world for nuclear weapons since none can realistically be used in any conflict.

Russia Number One In Europe!

There are nations which boast of a high standard of living, there are nations which boast of large exports of goods, there are nations which boast of low taxes, there are nations which claim their national debt is low, but no European nation can outdo Russia when it comes to boasting about the number of journalists who get murdered in their country. A report by the International Union of Journalists lists 312 killings of Russian journalists since 1991 which contrasts with two in Germany, one in the United Kingdom and zero in France. According to John Crowfoot, author of the report, “There is a group of states which have a persistent problem of impunity. They are Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, India and Russia.”

Of course, some of the killings are listed by Russian authorities as “accidents.” Of course, for some reason, the “accidents” and “killings” never result in anyone ever being found who committed these actions. If you want to kill a journalist and never get punished, grab the next plane for Mother Russia.

Sex Education War In Russia

In May, Russia signed the European Social Charter which provides that all nations will adhere to the concept of a “right to protection of health.” Most European nations interpret that statement to mean children will be provided information concerning health education. Russian education ignores issues dealing with sex education and the word “condom” doesn’t even appear in health books. Alexi Bobrik, of the Open Health Institute notes, “there is no sex education in the modern sense in Russia.” A parent protest already has formed in the country which claims sex education is a “looming evil.” A common view of anti-sex education advocates is that teaching children anything about the nature of sex destroys the romantic aspect of love in life.

Reality is Russia will not rush into any organized sex education for children given parental opposition and no support for such ventures from church groups. Most probably sex education will take small steps and hope the next generation will be more receptive– provided they don’t die from AIDS.