The Saker blog now also in Russian!

Читайте блог Балобана по-русски щелкнув на эту ссылку:

The Saker Blog now also in French!

Vous pouvez maintenant lire le blog du Saker en Français en cliquant sur ce lien:

The Saker Blog now also in German!

koennen jetzt den blog des Sakers auf Deutsch lesen - bitte hier anklicken:

The Saker Blog now in Oceania

you can now also visit the Oceania Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:

The Saker Blog now in Serbian

you can now also visit the Serbian Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

On conspiracy theories and credibility

Dear friends,

I am noticing with some dismay that some (many?) of you are still firmly the mental clutches of the "conspiracy theories" logical fallacy.  The reactions to Koenig's articles about Ebola and HIV are typical of that kind of logical derailment.  So it is hight time that I state a few basic assumptions of this blog.

1) A "conspiracy theory" is, a priori, a good thing.  Why?  Because the world is chock full of conspiracies.  What is a conspiracy? It is a secret plan of a group of people.  Does any of you really believe that with 16+ "intelligence" agencies in the USA there are not thousands of conspiracies hatched every day by tens of thousand of professional people just here, in the USA?  Don't you know that corporations conspire too?  What do you think antitrust laws are all about?  Do you know that the criminal code is also full of conspiracy crimes?  So here is the deal: if you want to understand what happens behind the smokescreen thrown before you by the corporate media and government official you HAVE TO spend most of your time looking into conspiracy theories.  Put simply - if you reject conspiracy theories you are blind.  Period.

2) I don't give a damn about my "credibility" or the "credibility" of my blog.  I don't deal in "credibility".  "Credibility" is an "argument of authority" which assumes that something coming from "A" is credible because it comes from "A".  This is not what I want for this blog.  In the Saker community I want everybody to be critical of everybody and everything and to only judge an arguments in its own merits (or lack thereof).  If tomorrow Poroshenko or Joe Biden write a good piece I would not hesitate to publish it.  Not because I endorse it (I only endorse what I write!), but to foster an intelligent discussion.  In other words, "credibility" is something attached to an argument, not a person.

3) In order to reject a hypothesis we have to first look into it.  Unless we develop an 1984-like automatic rejection without analysis capability, there is no way for your to evaluate a thesis without being exposed to it.  A hypothesis is just that - a "maybe" or "what if".  If it passes a preliminary stage of acceptance, and if it becomes formalized, it becomes a theory.  Then, that theory can be tested, in particular in its ability to predict.  Only then can it be proven false.  In the case of Ebola and HIV all I hear is side "A" claiming that it was created by the US government while side "B" says that this is not so.  In the meantime, NOBODY is offering any kind of halfway intelligent discussion of the hypothesis.  Instead the hypothesis is dismissed prima facie as a "conspiracy theory".  Those who do that apparently fail to realize that if, as this hypothesis states, the US government had something to do with the creation of HIV or Ebola then by definition this was a conspiracy and, again, by definition only a conspiracy theory could help prove that.

What is wrong with you guys?!  Has basic logic just become extinct?!

4) Last but not least - this blog is about *freedom of thought*, something sorely needed in our single-thought and completely monolithic society.  I feel that freedom implies the freedom to make up you own mind and therefore to be exposed to something which is wrong or untrue.  All of the media and 95% of the blogosphere is busy trying to establish "credibility" like a dog peeing in the four corners of a room to establish its territory.  I say let them aspire to "credibility" if they so chose - I aspire for *freedom*.  I want this blog to be a place where people can present odd, "heretical", rejected, crimethink and otherwise persecuted ideas.  Let them come here, present them, and if you disagree with them - tear them apart with facts and logic, be ruthless, don't leave them a place to hide from your merciless analysis.  But don't rejected them without that, without this "trial by comments" in which all of us are jurors.

It just so happens that I remember some very well informed people telling me in the late 1980s early 1990s that HIV had all the signs of having been engineered.  Is there a reason to reject such a hypothesis prima facie?  Not if you know anything about the history of biowarfare research, especially by the US government.  That I know for sure. But I personally have no opinion about HIV and no opinion about Ebola.  Frankly, I don't have the time to form an opinion about them (oh yes, I don't consider having an opinion a "right" of some kind.  Having an opinion is the result of a painstaking and long process of analysis at the end of which you sometimes, not always, end up with an opinion).  To be very honest, I don't particularly care.  But I care that others care and that is why, I posted these articles by Koenig because I know for a fact that others (which shall remained unnamed) have chickened out from posting them, probably for reasons of "credibility".

I don't care much about this specific topic, but I do care, immensely, about the intellectual freedom of this blog.  And I will never, ever, let considerations of "credibility" stand in the way of this blog's intellectual freedom.  There are plenty of really, truly, totally "credible" and "respectable" blogs out there.  Somebody got to be free and non-respectable and I very deliberately chose to be part of that "fringe lunatic conspiracy theorist" with "zero credibility" which does not let the society's doxa tell me what I should, or should not, post.


The Saker

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Observations on President Putin’s call upon US not to meddle in Russia affairs

by Peter Koenig

Press TV reports on 22 November 2014 that President Putin, speaking at a forum of the All-Russia Peoples' Front in Moscow on 17 November, said “They [the US] want to subdue us, want to solve their problems at our expense. No one in history ever managed to do this to Russia, and no one ever will.”

This is certainly no exaggeration. Russia has not only a solid trade and monetary alliance with China which already today bypasses the western dollar dominated western system, Russia is also one of the key members of the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which met last September in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to expands its current membership (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) by including India, Pakistan, Iran and likely also Mongolia. Turkey, hosting a strategically crucial NATO base, wavering between east and west, has wanted to become an SCO member for quite a while. Turkish-speaking SCO governments would likely to support their petition. This would clearly be a huge conflict and blow to the western powers, particularly Washington – and may not go ‘unpunished’.

The expanded SCO would control some 20 percent of the world’s oil and half of all global gas reserves. On top of that, the bloc would represent about half of the world’s population. The SCO and BRICS together would cover more than half the world’s population and control about a third of the globe’s GDP.

The issuance of a joint new global currency either by these countries at once or step by step is almost a certainty. The question is when. Given the disastrous course of western economies, such a new currency and monetary system is not far off. It would gradually replace the (petro) dollar for world trading as well as a reserve currency. The latter has already started. Ten years ago about 90% of world reserves consisted of dollar denominated securities. Today this proportion has shrunk to 60% - and – to the ignorance of most of the world – is steadily declining.

According to the IMF, reserves in other currencies in emerging markets have shot up by 400% since 2003. From August 2013 to February 2014, South Korea increased its yuan holdings 25-fold.

So – Mr. Putin’s seemingly ‘bold’ statement is very much supported by facts. The western predatory economic system is decaying fast. Russia and China are already today prepared with an alternative. They are working actively with the other BRICS and SCO countries to prepare a solid larger scale alternative currency and monetary system, free from the FED, Wall Street, the IMF and the BIS (Bank for International Settlements).


Epidemics and Pandemics

On a seemingly unrelated matter, a new phenomenon is emerging. From the outset it looks like detached from the east-west economic power struggle. But it may be all but detached from the western faltering economy.

It is the threat of deadly pandemics that seem to emerge at the same time – and all are under control of the UN and its specialized organization, WHO which is assisted and advised by a number of international laboratories whose identifications largely escapes common knowledge. Most of the epidemics, potential pandemics, started in Africa, which is home to about 60% of the world’s remaining natural unrenewable resources – and which are sought by the western and Northern Hemisphere’s elite for their continued comfort and well-being.

Ebola broke out a few months ago in West Africa – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and has since spread to Mali and Nigeria. Ebola is not a new disease. It has been reported and observed in Central Africa and former Zaïre in the seventies. WHO disposes of antidotes or vaccines. However, the US Department of Defense – which incidentally also has a research program on biological warfare – has contracted a Canadian laboratory two years ago to test and develop an Ebola vaccine in specially built hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Since the new Ebola outbreak in July 2014, more than 5,000 people have been killed according to WHO.

A couple of days ago it was reported by WHO that in Madagascar a plague epidemic had claimed the lives of at least 40 people since August 2014. – The bubonic plague, also called Black Death, was considered to be basically extinct since it killed a third of the European population in the 14ht Century, although a less virulent form may still be present today. No major outbreaks have occurred since 1904, when a Plague epidemic killed about 3% of Bombay’s population, when antidotes where not yet available. Today’s version can apparently fairly easily be suppressed with antibiotics and pesticides. – So – why is it still killing people in Madagascar? And why has the news become available only now?

A few weeks ago the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus was newly discovered in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Out of seven recent cases of Bird Flu in Egypt, two died. In 2009 thanks to a WHO false flag alarm, Europe bought hundreds of millions of H5N1 vaccines – a bonanza for the pharmaceuticals – a scandal for WHO that has deeply tarnished the organization’s image. In countries like Switzerland, people who showed any indication of a cold were practically force-vaccinated.

Aids – the HIV virus, also a Pentagon biological warfare experiment –broke out in the 1980’s, likewise in Africa, spread to Haiti from where it was ‘imported’ to the US and the rest of the world. Today it is, though incurable, under control. But a new strain could easily be designed to make current drugs impotent.

All of this looks like a concerted effort by the power elite to (i) keep populations in check; justify Marshall law at a whim to oppress any potential uprising, for example against a new wave of organized theft of the western predatory greed economy; and (ii) to gradually help reduce world population – a target that the elite has strived for since the end of WWII – it’s also one of the key objectives of the Bilderberg Society as voiced by many power figures, like Bill Gates and on several occasions by Henry Kissinger, arguably the worst war criminal still alive.

People could be easily quarantined by Presidential Executive Order under the guise of protecting the population at large from a pandemic – for which most likely vaccines and antidotes have been clandestinely developed as part of the biological warfare program – to protect the elite – and other strains for the public at large possibly laced with the very disease they pretend to prevent. Once Washington gives the order, say for force-vaccination, or Marshall Law – the European lackeys would simply follow suit; an easy way to keep populations under control, while the western financial system could run their final deed – depredation of the remaining social safety nets and public savings.

Again – on the dismal western economic scenario and the pandemic threats to the world, Mr. Putin’s harsh words to the US, a warning against interference in Russia – are but a signal for Washington to reckon with a vigilant Russia (and China) – vigilant vis-à-vis the impending collapse of the western monetary system, and vigilant vis-à-vis the west’s massive military and biological warfare threats.

Worth a thought? – And worth massive publication, so people may connect the dots.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, the Voice of Russia, now Ria Novosti, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

Україна - це Європа (the Ukraine is Europe)!

First Maidan anniversary (the Ukraine is Europe indeed)

The US, Canada and the Ukraine refuse to condemn the heroization of Nazism

It is often argued whether the Ukrainian junta is Nazi or not.  I would strongly argue that even though Poroshenko did not come out, make a Nazi salute and declare "I am a Nazi" all the signs point to the conclusion that the regime in Kiev has its ideological roots in the Nazi past.  The latest example of that "filiation" can be found in this absolutely amazing event last week:  only three countries - the US, Canada and the Ukraine voted against a UN Resolution condemning the heroization of Nazism.  The EU was not much better: it abstained.  This development is so crazy, so insane, that it is important to have access to the original document which was voted on.

Here is the full text of the Resolution:

You can also get this text from here:

Here is the official voting record:

To me, this is disgusting beyond belief.  Here we have two countries who try to positions themselves as the most pro-Israeli on the planet (the US and Canada) and the EU which has even passed laws making not only Nazi propaganda illegal, but jailing those who would dare investigate the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis (the so-called 'Holocaust').  And yet these putatively anti-Nazi and "democratic" countries are now refusing to condemn the heroization of Nazism not so much because they particularly like Nazis, but because they want to "protect" the Ukrainian junta.  As for the Ukrainians themselves, they have suffered more from Nazis then any other country or ethnic group, and yet they also refused to condemn the heroization of Nazism.  This makes a mockery not only of all their so-called principles and values, it also is an act of obscene disrespect for the millions of Ukrainian murdered by the Nazis.  There is one good thing about all this: it shows clearly and unequivocally how much the western elites truly hate Russia and that this hate clearly trumps any other considerations or values.

Russian disgust

For the past few days, or weeks, really, I have seen more and more signs of total Russian disgust with the West.  If, in the past, Russian diplomats and politicians were mostly trying to sound polite, now they are openly expressing their disgust.  For example, they are now openly saying the Europe does not have a foreign policy or an opinion, that Europe is just a subservient colony of the US.  As for the US, the Russians are now openly saying that this entire Ukrainian crisis was just a pretext and that the US are really out there to submit Russia.  Putin said that openly last week, adding that nobody had every succeeded in subduing Russia and neither would the USA.  This goes further than words, Russia has already announced that she was going to boycott the 2016 Summit on Nuclear Security.  This became known when the Russian informed the other members of this Summit that Russia would not participate in its preparatory work.

Sergei Lavrov also made a remarkable speech today, but since the pathetic website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not even bother providing a translation on the same day,  we will have to wait before I can post it here.

The Saker

Official - China Recognises Crimean Referendum

by Alexander Mercouris


This is the clear meaning of the statement TASS reports that a senior official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has made. 

The fact that China recognises the Crimean referendum means that de facto (and surely before long de jure) China has recognised Crimea's unification with Russia.  Note also that the official has expressed support for Russia's Ukrainian policy.

This is the clearest statement from an official source (as opposed to the news media) of China's position viz the Ukrainian crisis that China has made to date.  Because it is made by an official rather than a minister it has gone almost unnoticed.  However that is how China works: statements of this sort are first floated in the media, then made formally but at a relatively low level, following which they become uncontested policy.  Suffice to say that it is inconceivable that the official in question would have spoken out in this way without clearance from the very highest levels of the Chinese government and the fact that in his conversation to TASS he actually quotes comments made by Xi Jinping in telephone conversations with Putin puts that question beyond doubt.

I have always felt that the Chinese dimension in influencing Russia's Ukrainian policy is consistently underestimated.  I am sure that every single step Moscow has taken since the start of the Ukrainian crisis has been discussed and coordinated with Beijing at the highest possible level.  We should not make the mistake of thinking that the only conversations between Putin and Xi Jinping are those that are officially or publicly  reported.  The Chinese do not want to be seen taking an active or public role in the Ukrainian crisis - which formally speaking has nothing to do with them - but given the importance of China's support for Russia and the importance of Russia to China, it is a certainty that the two sides have been working closely together with each other and that they are discussing every aspect of this crisis all the time.  Knowledge that he has China's support is one reason for Putin's confidence in his dealings with the US and the Europeans.

The need to coordinate with Beijing does however place certain constraints on Moscow's actions.  Again I am sure that one reason amongst many why Russia has been wary of intervening actively in the Donbas or of formally recognising the various votes there is because it knows that doing so too obviously or too hastily would not be welcome in Beijing.  

China is traditionally very wary of independence declarations (a policy restated with specific reference to the Ukraine by the official quoted by TASS) not because it is worried about Xinjiang or Tibet (where the situation is fully under control) as the west alleges but because it does not want to create a precedent for Taiwan.  

Again I do not think many people especially in the west but also in Russia understand what a sensitive issue for China Taiwan is.  Suffice to say that a key reason for the Sino Soviet split of the 1960s was precisely Mao  Zedong's anger at what he correctly saw as a lack of support from Moscow over Taiwan.

That does not mean Novorossian independence will not happen or that either the Russians or indeed the Chinese are reconciled to the results of the Maidan coup or to the survival of the present regime in Kiev.  Both countries perceive the sort of staged US backed "revolutions" that the Maidan coup was, as a direct challenge and threat to themselves.  Both countries are almost certainly agreed that the results of the coup in a key Eurasian state must be reversed. Note how the official, in the clearest possible sign that he is speaking on behalf of the Chinese government, quotes a previously unreported but very revealing remark Xi Jinping said to Putin in one of their telephone conversations, that "there is no smoke without fire".  No guesses who or what that refers to.  

However the joint policy of reversing the effects of the Maidan coup is going to be done incrementally, step by step, for many reasons of which China's concerns about Taiwan are just one. 

Anyway, to those who think there is some division between Beijing and Moscow both over the Crimean issue and over the Ukrainian crisis generally, this statement from an official of the Chinese government should finally and once and for all put that question to rest: there is none.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Before hitting the road :-)

Dear friends,

I am about to hit the road and do what I like most: jump in the car with my wife, leave everything behind, and spend a couple of days in the Florida wilderness.  God willing, we will be back on Friday.

In the meantime, I want to leave you with a few short notes:

1) Podcast: there definitely was some kind of glitch in the 2nd part of the podcast and I had no time to detect it.  Lesson learned: it was a mistake to leave the post with questions open until Friday 18000 GMT and hope to get the podcast ready my Monday.  The next time around, I will leave three days to post questions (Monday-Wednesday) and then I will use the remaining time (Wednesday-Sunday) to prepare the podcast for release on Monday.  From now on and until the new blog is up, I will release on Soundcloud, Mediafire and Youtube.

2) My "homophobic video": from a comment posted today I realized that some of you had not realized that the person sitting next to the cop is not a a woman at all but, to quote the official dogma, a person manifesting a "normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects".

3) These past couple of weeks I have been bombarded with people accusing me of endorsing Šešelj or of "discrediting" or even "abandoning" Strelkov.  What these critics apparently fail to understand is that I can discuss somebody's views or situation without necessarily endorsing or betraying that person.  As it happens, I have no personal opinion whatsoever about Šešelj and I have the utmost respect for Strelkov.  My view of the world and of people is not binary, black or white, and I like to freely analyze and discuss ideas, situations and personalities.  If you are too stupid to cope with that kind of diversity of approaches, then I suggest you avoid my blog like the plague because I sure intend to continue to do that.

4) The "Putin is weak and beaten" chorus is not letting up.  I personally explain that by too much exposure to the corporate media which is constantly presenting Putin as beat, isolated, humiliated and otherwise broken.  Since these comments never come with fact based and logically presented arguments, I don't see the point if trying to refute them.

5) Novorussia: today Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke during a Q&A at the Duma and he also mentioned the possibility that the economic blockade of Novorussia by the Nazi regime in Kiev (which basically stole the money of the people of Novorussia) could be a prelude to a Ukrainian attack.  I am personally convinced that the recent statements of Putin and Lavrov about this possibility are designed to prepare the public opinion of Russia and, to some degree, the EU to situation in which Russia might have to intervene to stop such an attack.  The situation right now is extremely dangerous, but not hopeless as I am sure that there is a lot of pressure put upon the junta and its US bosses by Russia and other countries not to attack.

6) US elections: I am not a US citizen, so I don't get to vote anyway.  If I did, I still would not vote.  The choice of a lesser evil is still a choice for evil.  It is also a de-facto endorsement of the legitimacy of the system.  Can I recommend to those interested in this issue to read an old post of mine entitled "USSR 1974 - USA 2007: back to the future"? 

Okay, that's it for today.  I am off to my beloved wilderness with wifey.  See you all in a couple of days!

The Saker

The Trial Of Radovan Karadžić Enters The Final Phase

Note from the Saker: I have recently posted an excellent analysis by Stephen Karganovic of the legal farce or "judicial persecution" of Vojislav Šešelj by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague. I was so impressed by this article, that I asked Karganovic if he would agree to update me, and my readers, about the situation of Radovan Karadžić. Karganovic kindly agreed and he sent me the article I am posting today. Considering some of the comments elicited by the previous article I sadly have to remind you all of two things which I consider self-evident:

1) To describe the gross violation of basic legal norms and civil rights of an accused person does not necessarily imply an endorsement of that person's views, actions or character.  For example, do denounce the murder by a lynchmob of Muammar Gaddafi does not imply an endorsement of his policies or character.

2) In today's world, it appears that *nobody* has the intellectual honesty or courage to give the accused Serbians at the ICTFY a fair hearing or even to express concern about the total lack of respect of even basic legal norms in their trials. I refuse to "forget" or "not notice". I shall not be a bystander and I shall not give in to the social pressure to conform.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stephen Karganovic for is superb analysis of these two trials.

The Saker

The Trial Of Radovan Karadžić Enters The Final Phase

by Stephen Karganovic

The Prosecution and the Defence have filed their final submissions in the trial of Radovan Karadžić, former president of the Republic of Srpska, which was concluded on 2 May 2014. The trial was conducted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague. A total of 195 Prosecution and 238 Defence witnesses were heard. The prosecutor, Alan Tieger, has asked for life imprisonment, the maximum sentence, for Dr. Karadžić who stands accused of genocide, crimes against humanity (persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, etc.), and violation of the laws and customs of war. Dr Karadžić was the political head of the Bosnian Serb state during the 1992-1995 ethnic conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, as President, he was commander-in-chief of its armed forces.

While during the lengthy trial the prosecution focused on a variety of imputed crimes, the main charges against Dr. Karadžić concerned “ethnic cleansing” of the Muslim and to a lesser extent Croatian population, the siege and bombardment of Sarajevo by Serbian forces, and events in Srebrenica following its capture by Serbian forces in July of 1995.

In his three-day summary of the evidence which began on 1 October, Karadžić reiterated his innocence of the charges outlined in the indictment. “I am not guilty,” he proclaimed. “This court has put on trial not me, but the Serbian people.”

Although not a lawyer but psychiatrist by training and representing himself in the proceedings, as the trial advanced Dr. Karadžić’s proficiency increased noticeably. While in his 876 page final submission he addressed meticulously every item presented in the prosecution’s case, in the concluding remarks he focused mainly on refuting the three charges which were at the heart of the prosecutor’s indictment.
  1. There was never a policy or “joint criminal enterprise” to expel Muslims from Serb areas of Bosnia;
  2. The shelling and sniping in Sarajevo was in response and proportional to outgoing fire and attacks by the Bosnian Muslim forces from the militarized city, and the most dramatic of these events, like Markale, were staged by the Muslims to obtain international intervention for their side; and
  3. He had no knowledge that prisoners from Srebrenica would be, were being, or had been executed and the number of such executions has been exaggerated.
The defendant argued forcefully that while large-scale movement of each of the three ethnic populations (Muslim, Croats, and Serbs) to areas where their co-nationals constituted the majority or were under the control of their armed forces is undeniable, that is an inherent characteristic of most ethnic conflicts. The prosecution, Karadžić claimed, failed to present any evidence of a plan or policy on the Bosnian Serb side to expel members of the other ethnicities from territory under its control. Quite the opposite, numerous orders were issued to troops and authorities under Karadžić’s command prohibiting ill-treatment of Muslim and Croat non-combatants.

Radovan Karadžić
The siege of Sarajevo, as expected, was a very contentious issue during the trial. Karadžić reiterated the position of the Serbian side that while Muslims had a strong presence in the city, the surrounding countryside was mainly populated by Serbs. As a result, there was no “siege” in proper military terms but merely holding the line of demarcation between the respective territories of the two communities. Karadžić was largely successful in demonstrating that, contrary to agreements reached at the beginning of the war concerning its demilitarisation, Sarajevo contained significant and well-equipped Muslim military formations which conducted offensive operations against Serbian forces throughout the conflict.

One of the highlights of the defence case was undoubtedly the meticulous and competent dismantling of the story line constructed around Markale market bombings, with considerable civilian casualties, allegedly carried out by Bosnian Serb forces in February 1994 and August 1995. These bombings were significant in psychologically turning world public opinion against the Serb side and, additionally, served as pretexts for the military involvement of NATO forces on the Muslim side, thus helping to tip the military balance in the war.

Karadžić’s defence reinforced doubts that virtually from the start were circulating widely that the Markale massacres were a classical “false flag” operation conceived and carried out by the Muslims, perhaps with Western intelligence assistance. It was, he argued, designed to incriminate the other side, and not a war crime deliberately committed by Serbian forces. Forensic and eyewitness evidence produced by the defence left intact very little of the prosecution’s case with regard to Markale.

Turning to Srebrenica, while asserting that the prosecution offered no evidence to link him to the planning, execution, or knowledge of any crimes committed there in the aftermath of the Serbian takeover in July 1995, Dr. Karadžić vigorously disputed the standard narrative. His position was that the prosecution claim of 7,000 to 8,000 executed prisoners was an impossibility because the prosecution failed to produce evidence that more than about 3,500 Muslim POWs were ever taken captive in that military operation. Furthermore, according to evidence presented by the defence, a large number of Muslim losses were in fact combat deaths sustained during Muslim army 28th Division’s breakout from Srebrenica to Tuzla and were therefore legitimate casualties which cannot be imputed as war crimes.

Dr. Karadžić’s position is that up to 1,000 Muslim prisoners of war were probably executed after the fall of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995, but that – setting aside revenge killings – the executions had neither an official nor premeditated character and were carried out by rogue structures outside of the Bosnian Serb military chain of command. Karadžić did not deny that a massacre of prisoners took place, though on a far smaller scale than alleged in the indictment, but asserted that neither the military nor the political authorities of the Republic of Srpska were involved in it.

On the issue of “genocide,” which is particularly complex from the legal standpoint and sensitive morally, Karadžić maintained that the evidence does not demonstrate any intent, prior to the 11 July 1995 takeover of Srebrenica, to exterminate Muslims as a group protected under the Genocide Convention. Moreover, he referred to much contrary evidence produced at the trial indicating that captured prisoners were being treated regularly into 13 July, thus again refuting the existence of prior genocidal specific intent. Subsequently, groups of prisoners were shot at various locations, but the prosecution failed to link those events to state or military policy. According to Karadžić, it would be just as reasonable to view these murders as revenge by local Serbs for the atrocities previously committed by Muslim army forces using the UN-protected Srebrenica enclave as a launching pad for military operations against Serbian civilians in the surrounding areas.

In any event, Karadžić argued, the object of a genocide – even if there was the intention to commit it – could only have been Bosnian Muslims as a whole, not a comparatively negligible percentage of Muslim residents and refugees in a small town. However, no evidence was presented that a crime of such scope or nature was planned or committed either on the national or the municipal level.

The Karadžić trial (and the mostly parallel trial of Bosnian Serb army commander, General Ratko Mladic) is the last in the series of Hague show trials since the Tribunal was established and began its work in the mid-1990s. In an important sense it encapsulates the spirit and methodology of ICTY. Inequality of resources between the huge Prosecution staff and the tiny Defence team is blatant. The Chamber regularly granted Prosecution requests and blocked those of the Defence. The Prosecution deprived the Defence of thousands of pages of potentially exculpatory evidence during the trial without provoking the slightest effort on the part of the judicial Chamber to correct that outrageous procedural and substantive injustice. Defence request for access to important evidence for independent forensic verification, such as DNA data that allegedly supports the prosecution’s version of the number of Srebrenica victims, was flatly denied by the Chamber. And the list goes on and on…

The unequal conditions in which the trial was conducted leave little doubt that the judges will go to great lengths to look at the evidence and its significance from the Prosecution’s point of view. With respect to the formal outcome of the Karadžić trial, it is practically certain that the judges are highly unlikely to take the politically risky step of disregarding the prosecution’s recommendation of life in prison for Radovan Karadžić.

That being settled, the larger issue is how the verdict will be framed and what reverberations it will have on the Bosnian political scene.

Karadžić’s close collaborator, Bosnian Serb National Assembly President Momčilo Krajišnik, was initially accused of genocide, but in the verdict that charge was dropped by the court for lack of evidence. In Dr. Karadžić’s case, whether or not he is found guilty of genocide (it being understood that in light of Tribunal’s jurisprudence, there are in any event plenty of crimes in the indictment that the court could use to rationalize life imprisonment, if it so chooses) is bound to have considerable impact on local Bosnian politics. It would add considerable impetus and an apparent legal justification to the persistent Muslim demand for the dissolution of the Republic of Srpska as a “genocidal entity.” It would also provide a quasi-judicial basis for collecting from Republic of Srpska’s taxpayers huge civil indemnity judgments that individual Muslim “victims” have obtained in various courts for abuses suffered at the hands of Serbian forces during the Bosnian civil war.

There is also another important potential effect of the Karadžić judgment that is certain to have an impact on the Serbian Democratic Party (SDP) in the Republic of Srpska, which he founded. While Karadžić was in hiding and later at the Hague, his party, once considered a bastion of Serbian nationalism, was taken over by a new cadre of pragmatic politicians eager to avoid confrontations with Western powers and ready to make political accommodations in return for Western support to replace current pro-Russian Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik. SDP’s candidate lost the 12 October election to Dodik, but the party still has considerable influence with the support of about one-fourth of the electorate. It is rumored in Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serb capital, that the new SDP leadership has agreed to redesign party ideology to make it more acceptable to Euro-Atlanticist mentors, similarly to the way that operation was performed a few years ago in neighbouring Serbia by former nationalist Radicals Aleksandar Vučić and Tomislav Nikolić.

According to well-informed sources, again, current SDP leadership were warned by Western interests that by the time the Karadžić trial is over they would be well advised to fully transform their traditional image. Otherwise, their “extremist nationalist” and, after the Karadžić verdict, quite possibly also “genocidal” party might simply be banned by the High representative in Sarajevo who, after all, is the real ruler of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Resistance in France - suppressed, but not broken

It has been a very long while since I have written about the popular resistance movement in France embodied by the philosopher Alain Soral and the humorist Dieudonne.  
[Sidebar: for those who have missed these articles, they can be found here:
These are just a few examples, use the search option for more]
My purpose today is to update you on what has been happening to the only meaningful anti-system Resistance movement in France.

Soral and Dieudonne
The first thing to say is that the state repression against Dieudonne got much more vicious: both of them are now being sued for huge amounts of money. The list of lawsuits filed against Alain Soral now takes a full page on his website and the total sum for which he is being used is a stunning 489 292 Euros.  I don't know the exact figures for Dieudonne, but I do know that attempts are being made at seizing both his home and his theater in Paris.

Next to that financial repression, the "minutes of hate" against Dieudonne and Soral have now become a quasi-permanent fixture in the French media and the doubleplusgoodthing blogosphere: they are accused of Nazis, anti-Semites, homophobes and, of course, the inspiration of various terrorist movements.  Dieudo is also accused of being a crook.  Some individuals do not shy away from overtly racist slurs like the Rabbi Rav Dymovisz who said that Dieudonne proves that Darwin was right and he is the living proof that some humans are descendants from monkeys "most probably a gorilla".

There have been even numerous attempts to censor both Soral's books and Dieudo's shows, including efforts in the French State Court, but these have run into that pesky problem that French law does not foresee political censorship.  Hence the two tricks most used have been the standard accusation of anti-Semitism and "risk of trouble to the public order".  In reality, of course, both Soral and Dieudo are completely non-violent and their ideology is one of reconciliation and equality, not hatred.  They, however, have been attacked physically many times, but the police has always denied them any protection and their aggressors have walked away with, at most, a gentle little slap on the wrist.  Since Soral and Dieudo are, of course, losing most of their lawsuits, it appears inevitable that prison sentences will inevitably replace fines because they will be tried as "repeat offenders".

And yet, for all these efforts by the French 1%ers to crush them, the popularity of both men has continued to steadily grow, but mostly in the disenfranchised classes and the immigrant communities.  Diedo only plays to full theaters while Soral's books are best-sellers.  As for their websites, they have more viewers than the national TV channels.  The French elites, however, including the putatively freedom-loving intelligentsia, prefer to look away as if not noticing what is taking place or, worse, then join into the chorus of the 'official' ideological lynchmob.

Still, Diedo and Soral are not giving up the struggle.  They have even decided to form a Equality and Reconciliation (E&R) party.  These men are smart and they know that they cannot win, but what they can do is get two things which the state desperately tires to deny them: a platform and money.  Becoming a party can get them both.

In the past Soral and Dieudo have supported the short-lived Anti-Zionist Party which did remarkably well considering the political reality in France, but make no mistake, in this case "remarkably well" means single digit figures or less.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that their new party will do any better, at least visibly.  This is why:

There are really two "Frances" today: one, the official, visible one, appears to be one of consensus, of democracy, of relative well-being.  The other, the "invisible one", is one of deep alienation, of rage, of despair and of revolt.  And these two Frances are not always were one would expect them to be found.  For example, in the very same French police which is used by the state to persecute Dieudonne and Soral the popularity of both men is very high.  The same goes for the military, the fire departments, and a host of other government agencies.  Likewise, even though neither Dieudo or Soral are Muslim (both are Christian Latins, though in the case of Soral this is more of a cultural affinity), they get a great deal of support from the Muslim immigres in France who understand and respect their message.

As for the French "Far Right", it mostly dislikes them, often with no less intensity then the rest of the Establishment.  The problem here is a generational one.  If Dieudo and Soral both respect Jean-Marie LePen and if both of them are still close to him both ideologically, they both have accused the National Front of having basically joined the Establishment, of having been co-opted and corrupted, and they have strongly criticized the anti-Muslim stance of Marine LePen.

The second ideological struggle which is taking place is that Dieudo and Soral are also on the offensive against a French author named Eric Zemmour whom they accuse of being a fake dissident.  Zemmour recently wrote a book entitled "The French Suicide" in which is strongly criticizes almost all French policies and politicians since 1968 and in which he, a French Jew, openly criticized the use for petty political purpose of the Nazi persecutions of Jews.  He even went as far as to declare on national prime time TV that Petain had saved French Jewry.  Among his many theories, Zemmour is also known for declaring that Islam is not compatible with the French republic and that immigrants should be assimilated.  This is were he enters into a direct conflict with Dieudo and Soral.

They accuse him of being the new "Bernard Henri Levi", the new "official ideologue" who is now in charge of Islam-bashing in the name of French patriotism. Their proof? That Zemmour is constantly invited to all the major talkshows on French radio and TV whereas they are quasi officially blacklisted.

Eric Zemmour
Frankly, I think that in this case they are simply wrong.  First, I do not agree with Zemmour's view of Islam at all, but to say that he is simply wrong or mistaken does not imply that he is being used.  There is a very simple explanation of why he is being invited everywhere: he is not Soral or Dieudo.  Really, his views are very similar to the ones of Soral on many topics, you can think of him as a "Soral light", and that is precisely why to invite him to the official media makes sense for the Establishment: it is a safe(r) way to "prove" that there still is freedom of speech in France and that even a "quasi-Soral" gets airtime.

Zemmour is a brilliant man and speaker, he is also a formidable debater who, unless he is shouted down, usually makes minced meat of his opponents while keeping a smile all along.  Zemmour is also very direct and, in my opinion, intellectually honest man, and I don't see him at all as the next "BHL" or somebody who is corrupted by the system.  However, I also think that Zemmour is completely wrong about Islam and, even more importantly, wrong about France.  The France which is would like to see is one which is gone forever and though he does not really deny that, he also does not want to accept it.  In a way, he reminds me of Strelkov, many of whose views I share, but who appears to me to lack the realism needed to get things done in the modern world and the reality of today's Russia.  Whatever may be the case, Zemmour, who is usually associated with the French far Right, is also a target of Dieudo and Soral.

Thus it is completely wrong to classify them with the "Right".  In fact, both of them admire Jean Marine LePen and Georges Marchais, the charismatic leader of the French Communist Party until 1994.  The issue for them is not one of "Right vs Left" but one of real opposition versus selling out to the system.

Neither Soral or Dieudo have ever endorsed the political program of the National Front or the Communist Party.  What they did do is praise these two forces for being truly revolutionary (in the literal meaning of the word - wanting change) and not a fake opposition.  But if under Marchais and Jean-Marie LePen the Communist Party and the National Front were truly speaking "for the masses", then after their retirement both parties turned into tools for the elites.  I fully agree with that analysis.  This is why I say that today the only real opposition in France is E&R.

As for Zemmour, he is a nostalgic of the past and therefore neither a revolutionary nor a supporter of the current system which his views can only mildly annoy, but not threaten.

Can Dieudo and Soral, unlike Zemmour, threaten the system?

I strongly believe so.  But in the long run only.

For one thing, they are appealing to the disenfranchised masses which are, by definition, the majority.  The rest of the political scene in France only appeals to the elites.  Second, while the Establishment tries as hard as it can to create fake non-issues (homosexual marriages) while obfuscating the vital ones (poverty and exploitation), E&R brings the real problems to the forefront of its discourse.  Furthermore, while the official (Masonic) French ideology is both anti-Christian and anti-Muslim E&R is pro-Islam and pro-Christian.  This is why the key slogan of E&R is "la gauche du travail la droite des valeurs" (the Left of Labor and the Right of Values) meaning that its economics are very similar to those of traditional Socialist parties whereas its ethics and morals are more typical of the ones of religious conservatives (Zemmour, by the way, would disagree with both, even though he likes to quote Marx and defends Christian ethics).  In fact, I would argue that the ideas of Soral, Dieudo and E&R appeal to moral categories taken straight out of Christian, Islamic and Marxist traditions and that they recombine and adapt them to modern realities.  This is, I think, very, very interesting stuff, especially for me since this is also what I see happening in Russia.

Solzhenitsyn and Putin
Resistance to Empire can take many forms. Sometimes, this resistance is armed, as in the case of Hezbollah.  Sometimes this resistance is purely ideological, as was the case with Gandhi.  But sometimes, it begins on the purely ideological level and eventually becomes incarnate in a very material way.  For example, I would argue that today's continuator of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's ideas is Vladimir Putin.  And yet, Solzhenitsyn will be remembered as possibly the biggest foe of the KGB whereas Putin was an officer in that organization.  These are the amazing paradoxes of history which show over and over again that the power of ideas is far stronger than the power of the state and its institutions.

Today, Soral and Dieudo are in a position very similar to the one of opponents in the former Soviet Union.  Sure, the methods have changed, and there is no GULag in France (for the time being), but the French courts are now clearly used to silence dissent.  How long until they begin being used to sent thought-criminals to jail?

Soral, Dieudo are typically French phenomena and so is their resistance.  But they are also part of a much larger planetary Resistance to Empire.  They are part of the same struggle as Evo Morales, Ali Khamenei, Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping.  Just like these men, they are not always right, and we don't have to endorse all of their views.  But I think that is is vital to recognize them as fellow resistants and, therefore, comrades.

The Saker 

Saker Podcast #2 on YouTube

Dear friends,

Since some of you have requested it, here is the YouTube upload of the 2nd Saker Podcast.  By the way, there are a couple of instances (4 I think?) of a kind of echo in the latter part of the podcast.  This is already the case in the original audio track and I am not sure whether my microphone (Zoom H2n) or my software (Audacity) is to blame.  Sorry about that and I will try to fix this problem before the next podcast.

Kind regards,

The Saker

An example of "Russian homophobia"

Hillary, Jeb, Rand or does it make a difference anyway?

In my post this morning I failed to realize how many new readers there are on this blog, so I did not repeat things which I had sad many times in the early years of this blog.  Your comments and questions made me realize that I needed to clarify my view of the US political system.

First - I see the USA as run by a tiny elite which is good at "pretend democracy" but which makes darn sure that the people vote the "correct" way.  I consider the primaries, conventions, caucuses,and elections themselves as a mix between a farce, a form of entertainment, a re-legitimization of a system and a secular liturgical act (a form of public self-worship).  There is no "democracy" in the US and there probably never was.  However, if the regime does not change, the specific clans within the 1% do fight each other and struggle for control of the regime.

Second, there are different clans, interest groups, factions who fight *within* the top 1% and they can, and do, make use of the electoral process not as a means of popular expression, but as a way to impose their agenda and interests.  I often speak of the "old Anglo guard" (best represented by the Bush clan before Dubya) and the "Neocons", but there are many more interest group (oil, banking, military, drug warriors, big pharma, etc.) who all participate in the internal struggle for power.

Thus, there is no real difference between the Republicrats and the Demoblicans, they are all part of the same elite, but there are differences between different political figures who are more, or less, aligned with any specific interest group.  Thus Greenwald is correct when he identifies the various groups who would support a Hillary Presidency.  This has nothing to do with democracy, the political parties or even her own views and everything to do with which interest groups she sold out to.

Even in the course of a single presidency, these groups can struggle with each other and trigger a change in policies.  Initially, the election of Obama was a victory of the old Anglo guard and a defeat of the Neocons who then came right back in through the back door and ended up re-taking control.

[sidebar: I got two college degrees in the USA between 1986 and 1991 and at the time I was pretty close to several conservative think tanks in Washington DC.  I saw with my own eyes how the agents of the Israel lobby, which before that had been aligned with the supposedly "liberal" Democratic party, suddenly realized that the Republicans were a much better host, and how they then began to take control of the previously paleo-conservative think tanks and turned them into Neocon mouthpieces.  It was quite amazing.  First, they funded them.  Then, they influenced the nominations of senior officers and finally, they took them under complete ideological control.  The case study of that kind of "subversion and acquisition" of an Anglo paleo-conservative think tank by Zionist interest groups is what happened to the Ethics & Public Policy Center, but there are many many more].

The US elites agree on most goals (world domination, wealth, economic feudalism, etc.) but they can, and do, disagree on methods and priorities.  The Israel lobby wanted a war with Iran.  The old Anglo guard did not.  The latter prevailed.  As long as their interests coincide, they act as one.  But as soon as there is a real danger or a real threat - they begin to "pull" the agenda over to their own interests.

Whether it will (Hillary) Clinton vs (Jeb) Bush again or not, whoever wins the presidency will have to continue to preside over the gradual erosion of the US imperial power and thus will have to decide whether the use of force (or threat of use, which is, in many ways, almost the same thing) against Russia can, if not reverse, then at least slow down that process.  At this point whether the US goes to war or not will depend on both the of correlation of the various interest groups inside the 1%ers and on the collective personality (President + advisors) who will be sitting in the White House.

This is the moment when having a generally mentally sane Jeb Bush (and his staff)  might be better than a clearly rabid Hillary (and her staff).  This has nothing to do with being "better" or "liberal or conservative" because on all these levels there are not meaningful differences between the Left/Liberal/Democratic side and the Right/Conservative/Republican side: they are all equally for sale, they all represent a pseudo-democracy of "one dollar one vote", they all are a government "by the billionaires for the billionaires" and none of them gives a damn the 99% of the planet or even the 99% of the American people.

As for Rand Paul, his function is the same as of Dennis Kucinich: get more votes into their respective parties.  Besides, unlike Kucinich, and even very much unlike his father Ron, Rand Paul is a puppet in the hands of the Israel Lobby.

Right now, there is nobody out there representing the interests of the vast majority of the people of the USA.  No "American Putin".  This is both scary and very sad.

Anyway, these are my 2cts on this depressing issue.


The Saker

PS: as always, David Rovics put it best:'

Paul Craig Roberts and Glenn Greenwald are right: Hillary is truly dangerous

I have just read Paul Craig Roberts' article "The Next Presidential Election Will Move The World Closer To War".  In the article, PCR refers to an article by Glenn Greenwald entitled "Cynics, Step Aside: There is Genuine Excitement Over a Hillary Clinton Candidacy".  Both authors agree that the possibility of Clinton becoming President is very bad news, PCR even mentions the risk of war.

Sadly, I have to agree with both of them.  Hillary is the quintessential expression of everything that is wrong with the USA, and on the heals of an absolutely disastrous presidency by Barak Obama, Hillary will have a lot to prove to herself and to her power base (which Greenwald describes in his piece).  I won't repeat all the arguments of PCR and Greenwald, but I will just add that I am absolutely convinced that Hillary is both delusional enough and arrogant enough to believe that she can bully Russia, including with the use of military force.  And at the risk of sounding a little naive, I would also add that I think that she is also simply an evil person. 

The problem is, of course, that Russia will not back down.  Not for issues which are clearly of strategic, existential, importance to her.  That very much includes the Ukraine's future.  I am afraid that the US will think of a military confrontation with Russia as a game of chicken when for Russia it will be a matter of survival.  We all know how that can end.

Two forces might, maybe, prevent this descent into war: a hypothetical part of the ruling 1%ers who might realize how much the US would risk in such a war, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  That, or an internal crisis which would draw enough energy from the Federal government to make it unable to pursue foreign imperial policies.

Either way, I have to say that I look at the future with a great deal of anxiety.

The Saker

PS: this begs the question of whether a Republicrat candidate would be any better than a Demoblican one.  All I can say is that Jeb Bush is an intelligent man (at least he knows a foreign language) and that he does not appear delusional.  Is that better?  Maybe.

Transcarpathia, Transnistria and Gagauzia SitRep 10 Nov - 16 Nov

(Note: some urls in the links are prefixed with ''. This form provides the reader with a Yandex translated version of the source. The original article can be reached by removing this prefix.)



Only two individuals from Transcarpathia have been reported as killed at the front. The first served volunteered in AUgust and received two weeks training. He joined the 128 Mechanised Infantry Brigade and was killed by a sniper near Debaltsevo. The second was described as a Major, killed in an unreported location. A third solder, a resident of Mukachevo, who died of burns in a hospital in Dnepropetrovsk was commemorated this week.

The latest reports from the regime indicate that a total of 1654 individuals from Transcarpathia have served at the front. This presumably excludes the members of the militias who come and go as they wish. Of these, 24 are reported dead, 54 wounded and 15 have been released after being held prisoner in the east. Currently there are about 200 official combatants at the front from bases in Transcarpathia. The overall official loss figures are 1052 Ukraine military killed, more than 4000 injured and more than 400 are held prisoner. These figures contrast dramatically with those estimated by the Novorossian forces. They calculate the death toll at 20904. This includes 11590 regular Ukrainian military soldiers and 3382 from the various militias and special battalions.

The trickle of police officers rotating to and from the front continues. They seem to have been been based near Debaltsevo. One group of 50 returned after one month at the front whilst another group of 10 returned after 40 days. The Crimean Tatar spokesperson, Dzhemilev is reported claiming that 450 Crimean Tatars are serving in various battalions. He also claims that the relatives of these individuals in Crimea are at risk and are held hostage to local authorities. He seems to be doing a good job as a propaganda agent for the regime.

One recent development ids the appearance of videos in the local press of Transcarpathians serving at the front. As an example, this one shows a substantial camp located near residential buildings. The soldiers are filmed using these abandoned houses for shelter and cooking facilities. They also decorate the places with their symbolism. The local Hungarian press still refer to the Novorossians as pro-Russian dissidents rather than the term 'terrorist' ubiquitous in Ukrainian media.

The lustration process is still under way. This process of removing 'tainted' individuals has a couple of loopholes, allowing those who served under Yanukovich to continue in their posts. One loophole relates to those who have served in the ATO forces. A popular cam involves an affected person finding a quiet spot near the front to serve for a short while, gaining them exception to the process.

The Pravy Sektor (PS) forces have established a training camp in Transcarpathia. This allows those PS fighters who have seen enough of the reality of war to train other gungho individuals to take their place. A small number of individuals have been trained and form part of a so-called '1st battalion DYK'. Reports claim the PS fighters at Donetsk airport have left because their work is done there. The close combat work is being left to the Ukraine military. It appears that these PS 'cyborgs' have left without notifying the military authorities and have gone to parts unknown.


The Ukraine national bank has ceased trying to hold the Hryvnia exchange rate at about 13 UAH/$. This support was provided during the election period to mask the true state of the economy from the voters. Following the election, the central bank abandoned a fixed exchange rate policy and expected the rate to rise to 15-16. It did this almost immediately, running at 15.4 to 16.1 by mid week. To put this in context, the exchange rate was 6.99 UAH/$ at the beginning of the year and some analysts expect it to reach 20, certainly before the end of the year. In February this year, the Ukraine reserves included ~21 tons of gold, now there is only about 0.2 tons. It is not known publicly where this gold went. Possibly some of it was sold recently to support the UAH exchange rate stabilisation.

In parallel, the bank base rate has risen from 6.5% in April this year to 14%. The public are reported to have withdrawn 110 billion UAH of savings from banks since the beginning of the year. Local media report that banks are 'unwilling' to return depositors funds, and queues of 500 have been mentioned forming outside banks in Mukachevo. The central bank has refinanced several such banks, not specifically identified, to prevent a run.

The dominant local economic statistics for the regions produce including grain, wheat, barley, potatoes, fruit, berries, timber, milk, cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry typically show yields a few percent down on last year. Hungary is still the dominant local trading partner. Incomes are stead or falling. Prices are rising locally; the price of heating gas has increased 63% since Dec 2013. Similarly electricity is 11% higher, medical costs are 24% higher, fuels and oils for transport 55% higher. The costs of burials have increased 18%. The official local inflation figure is 2.3% for October, effectively around 19% for year to date.

A local helicopter production company is on the verge of bankruptcy. It owes about 1.3 million UAH in unpaid wages. It had a contract to supply some equipment to India, but India cancelled the deal, reasons unspecified.

Russia holds about $3.1 billion of bonds from Ukraine. The terms of the deal allow for immediate repayment should government debt exceed 60% of GDP. Putin has said that Russia will not make a call on the bonds as that would destroy the Ukraine economy. No doubt Putin bashers will see this as weakness. This is not the case. It is a strong hint to those in power who clamour to own Ukraine that the whole pack of cards could be demolished at a stroke. By not doing so, Putin also precludes explicit blame for the collapse on Russia. The Ukraine economy will collapse on its own anyway, unless things change rapidly and dramatically for the better.


The results of the election have more or less been determined. Of the 421 MPs, 225 are members of party lists and 196 are from the majority districts. The party "Bloc Petro Poroshenko" has won 132 seats, the "Popular Front" (Yatsenyuk) has won 82, the "Self-Help" (Semenchenko) party 33, the "Opposition Bloc" - 29, Lyashko's "Radical Party" - 22, "Batkivshchyna" (Tymoshenko) - 19, and Svoboda (Tyahnybok) - 6 seats. In addition, one deputy was elected for each of the "Strong Ukraine", "Spade", Svoboda and Pravy Sektor parties in the majority districts. Election results are still pending from two districts. The Central Election Commission has given District 38 (Novomoskovsk, Dnipropetrovsk oblast) and District 63 (Berdychiv, Zhytomyr oblast) 15 days to comply with court decisions regarding recounts.


Slovakia continues to supply gas via reverse feed. It claims to have supplied 20% of the needed volume and to have saved Ukraine $500 million.


In spite of speculation of a fourth wave of mobilisation after the election, the regime says this is currently not necessary.


One of the local clan of politicians, Viktor Baloha, is in favour of a referendum in the east. The question would be for them to stay or go. This would avoid a long drawn out drain on Ukraine's resources. I suspect Ukraine's resources are close to zero anyway so this is a moot point.


The current invocation of the Carpathian Sich, an organisation aimed at fostering nationalist spirit and protecting the interests of the Ukraine nation, was founded in 2010. The organisation aims to educate new Ukrainians - to be "strong, fair, people of Faith and Honour. We must break the stereotypes of patriotism in Transcarpathia. People will understand that the nationalists are not 'thugs'". The organisation was founded in reaction to Hungarian aggression in 1938 and no responds to Russian aggression [for some obscure meaning of the word 'aggression']. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the original organisation, a torchlight march was held in Uzhgorod. The poor lighting makes it difficult to tell how many participated, but judging from the evidence of attendance at other meetings, it is probably only 20 or so members, including some from Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. The leader of the Carpathian Sich favours a unification of all nationalist movements, which possibly reflects the low support for individual groups. The Carpathian Sich trains for military action with members of the Aidar battalion. The local head of the executive committee, Thomas Deak, has left supposedly to serve in the east.


Hungarian ministers report that Hungary now supports EU sanctions, providing everyone else does. It also is still committed to a balanced relationship with Russia. I guess the Hungarian government hope this will be sufficient to keep the Nuland regime changers off it's back. We will see.


On 11th November, the Transcarpathian SBU arrested the chief editor of a local newspaper, "Workers' and Peasants' Truth". The editor is said to oppose the central government and support the calls for separatism in the east. The paper contained images representing Communist ideology and an article said to create a negative image of Ukraine, humiliate its national dignity and denigrate the honour of the Ukrainian and individual representatives of national minorities. ALl copies of the newspaper were confiscated. The editor faced two charges i) violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and ii) violation of citizen's equality based on their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs. The prosecutors sought preventative detention. The judge allowed the editor to go free on bail. The offences carry a 5 year prison sentence for anyone found guilty.

Transnistria (aka PMR) and Gagauzia


As a result of the financial blockade, PMR foreign exchange reserves have dropped by about ~ $5 million to ~$37 million.

A survey of business in PMR shows that about 70% have been affected by Ukraine sanctions, with 17.5% having their supply chain broken. Exports to Ukraine have declined between 40 and 90%. This may reflect the dramatic collapse of the Ukraine economy itself as much as the direct effects of the sanctions.

Currently, about 40 trucks destined for the PMR are held up at Ukraine border crossing points over alleged paperwork problems.

The Moldovan Minister of Agriculture sees the possibility of more sanctions from Russia relating to Moldovan agricultural produce.


A pre-election survey in Moldova asked 1005 respondents from 75 settlements how they would vote in the election to be held on 30 November. The sample size gives a survey error of around 3%. About 60% had decided how they would vote. The results were 'Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova' - 21.2%, 'Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova' (Liberal Conservative) - 17.8%, 'Democratic Party of Moldova' (Social Democrat) - 12.9%, for the 'Rodina Party' - 9.6% and 'Liberal Party' (Conservative liberalism) is 7.3%. The 'Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova', supposedly favoured by Russia, would not pass the electoral threshold, gaining only 3.9% and the electoral bloc 'Select Moldova Customs Union' would gain only 1.1% of the votes. A summary of the position claims that the main protoges of the US/EU position are the Democrats and the Liberal Democrats. Given the likely outcome will be a coalition, some suggest this may allow third parties to create instability, whilst others suggest this would make it difficult to run a Euromaidan or run a scenario as seen in Ukraine.


The negotiations between Gazprom and Moldova over the supply of gas were conducted quickly and without the apparent histrionics observed in Ukraine. The gas price was set at $380 per thousand cubic metres by the end of 2013. The new deal resulted in a price of $332, $45 less than current price. this is based on the purchase of 3 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year by Moldova and allows for the transit fees for 19 bcm for gas supplied to Turkey, Bulgaria and Albania.


On 10 November, the PMR Prime Minister Yevgeny Shevchuk travelled to Moscow for a meeting. On arriving at Chisinau airport in Moldova, he was held up by a group of 20 or so aggressive men who tried to prevent him travelling. The group were identified as current and past members of the Moldovan police, associated with the 1992 war against PMR. The leader is associated with the far right national Liberal party. The trouble makers were blocked by Shevchuk's unarmed bodyguard. The PMR government regarded the act as a pre-planned provocation aimed at prevent free movement of PMR politicians. The severity of the act is described as unprecedented. The PMR government demanded the Moldovan authorities take action against the provocateurs. The provocateurs in turn claimed they were the victims. This sort of action supports PMR claims for its own airport at Tiraspol.

Whilst in Moscow, Shevchuk signed five Memoranda of Cooperation with Russia, covering the financial sector, health, communications, consumer rights, and human welfare.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has expressed concern about corruption in Moldova, especially the influence of oligarchs. In a recent visit to assess electoral procedures, members of the committee formed the view that the process did not meet EU standards. There was a lack of transparency, the presence of 'dirty money', much of the media is under control of oligarchs, who have close ties with political parties. A member on the committee noted that the report was not disclosed publicly to avoid complicating elections.

The Moldovan Democrat Party is controlled by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniucom. This party at one time had a two-track approach advocating the development of relations with both Russia and the West. Its representative in Gagauzia argued the party was the most pro-Russian party. However, 10,000 participants of the war against the PMR have recently joined, probably including those involved in the provocation against SHevchuk. A member of the Moldovan government considers this action as a show of force directed against those who disagree with him (Plahotniucom) According to the MP, "This scumbag [Plahotniucom] imagines himself Moldovan "Kolomoisky" and he is "ready to go on provoking a new war with Transnistria. This "plan B" to remain in power by imposing a state of emergency and postpone the elections".

Ukraine wants to open a consulate in Tiraspol for the benefit of Ukrainians living in PMR. This is at odds with the recent closure of nine consulates elsewhere. Russia has also sought to open a consulate in Tiraspol, but unsurprisingly, this has been blocked by Moldova.

The EU parliament ratified the Association Agreement with Moldova. The vote was 535 in favour, 94 opposed and 44 abstained. The pro vote amounted to about 80% of the full vote.

Serbia and Russia have quietly signed an agreement on military cooperation. They will hold their first joint military exercise named SREM 2014. This may lead to the presence of Russian forces west of Romania.


The young Gagauzian male, a supposed terrorist caught with clothing bearing a label 'G. E. Army' was released without charge 72 hours after being detained. He is being kept under watch by the Moldovan security services.

The NGO 'Youth of Moldova' has been displaying banners promoting the supposed benefits of reunification with Romania.


There is ongoing decline of trade from Moldova to Russia as a result of reverse sanctions. The trade is down 30% to about $345 million. The sanctions have al;so resulted in a negative trade balance for Moldova (imports > exports) of $140 million in the first nine months of 2014. Romania is now the leading export trade partner for Moldova. The Moldovan government petulantly insists that Russia's sanctions are unnecessary.


The Government of PMR is ready to hold a rerun of the 2006 referendum on independence, subject to international acceptance of the results. In the earlier referendum,97% supported independence. This may be a precursor to Russian recognition of PMR as an independent state. Russia has reiterated its support for PMR and is keeping course towards formal recognition of PMR.

The Moldovan government continues to block the formal 5+2 JCC process for a negotiated settlement. It even ignores supposedly mandatory emergency meetings. A formal statement of the PMR position is listed in the resources section below. The PMR government insists on continued bilateral progress. The Russian and Transnistrian governments struggle to find ways to unblock the process. The PMR member of the JCC group holds the view that Moldova is preparing to withdraw from the 1997 agreement on how to resolve the dispute. This view is strengthened by Moldova's insistence that RUssian troops withdraw from the peacekeeping mission. Moldovan security service has searched the home of Paul Grigorchuk, who is publicly critical of the regime. A search warrant was issued, and his computer and phone were sized during the search. He is a forceful critic of the oligarch running the country and the far right supporters. The Moldovan government claim they suspect him of planning to destabilize the election and of illegal participation in the election campaign.


The site Regnum Ru provides a wealth of articles, either commissioned or syntheses with additional commentary clarifying or correcting the main text. It has filtering options allowing fairly specific topics to be monitored.

"Dialogue" EU - TMR: a hot meal in exchange for the surrender a view by a former PMR finance minister of the implications of the Moldova - EU Association Agreement for PMR.

Statement of position by the PMR government regarding the status of the JCC 5+2 negotiations.