Hello; I’m From the European Council on Foreign Relations – I Hear You Have a Bridge For Sale.

Uncle Volodya says, "Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them."

Uncle Volodya says, “Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.”

Are you familiar with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)? No? Well, have a look at their website. Not to be a spoiler or anything, but let me quote briefly from it: “Inspired by the role American think tanks played in helping the US move from isolationism to global leadership, ECFR’s founders set about creating a pan-European institution that could combine establishment credibility with intellectual insurgency.”

Intellectual insurgency – now, there’s a phrase that should inflame your mental ganglia with mingled interest and suspicion, and you’re going to see an inspired example of intellectual insurgency in just a moment.

“The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think-tank which conducts research and promotes informed debate across Europe on the development of a coherent and effective European values-based foreign policy.” Having, hopefully, established its affinity for intellectual insurgency, I’d like you to take the next step with me, and think about the target of all this intellectual insurgency. The formation of a coherent and effective European values-based policy.

Once again, please expore the website and draw your own conclusions; I have no wish to apply undue influence to your development of a viewpoint – but might I draw your attention to the membership?

Oh, the hell with it. Timothy Garton Ash, obsessive non-participatory warmonger and the biggest, knobbiest Russophobic prick in a waving pink field of turgid Russophobic pricks? Carl Bildt, Psychotic Pswede of the year and compulsive tweeter of everything anti-Russian? Ivan Krastev, Mr. Moscow-is-trying-to-split-the European Union when the European Union gleefully colluded in the manipulation of Euromaidan which started the cycle of violence in Ukraine? Radoslaw Sikorski, who needs no introduction? Toomas Ilves, fourth president of Estonia, who thinks current Russian wages are close to what they are in Ukraine? Russian average wages are more than three times as high as Ukraine’s – assuming people are actually getting paid in Ukraine – when both are converted to a common U.S. dollar value. Heidi “The EU is not trying to extend its sphere of influence to its eastern neighbours ” Hautala? Do tell. Come on, for Christ’s sake – don’t you think people can read?

You might imagine from this that the ECFR’s delight in the appointment of a foreign leader would be directly proportional to how anti-Russian his policies are, and the extent to which he is an irritant to Moscow. And you would imagine correctly (thanks, Tim).

With that in mind, let’s examine the ECFR’s continuing moonie and swoony support for corpulent criminal Mikheil Saakashvili, which I frankly find incomprehensible through any filter except his value as an irritant. Can the ECFR actually believe he is a suitable candidate to fight corruption? Seriously? Using that standard of measure, such a think tank could reliably be expected to endorse Keith Martin, Europe’s fattest man, for Equestrian Jumping in the 2024 Summer Olympics. And that’s even allowing for the fact that he died last year, poor soul. Not to belabor the point, but Mikheil Saakashvili is about as ill-suited – by both his nature and his proclivities – to fight corruption as a cricket bat is unsuitable for cleaning your ears.

Holy Hannah; I’m torn between the urges to scream out the window in frustration, and guffaw like a Seinfeld laugh-track. Well, let’s look at it.

Immediately, the author indulges in wild supposition – one of the reasons, he says, that the Russians did not move on Tbilisi in 2008 was their assumption that the Georgians would finish off Saakashvili themselves. There is no reason at all to believe this, and Sharashenidze is the only person in the world who has ever postulated such a ridiculous theory – it is particularly ludicrous in light of the fact that Tornike Sharashenidze was one of the earliest voices to admit Georgia started the war by attacking Tskhinvali. He voiced his opinion at that time that Saakashvili had listened to dunces in his government and expected the United States to intervene on Georgia’s side. That’s hard to imagine, considering the U.S. Secretary of State visited him less than a month before, and told him he had to “put a non-use of force pledge on the table”  in negotiations wih the separatist provinces. No word on whether she winked broadly and significantly at him as she said it, but there’s no particular reason to imagine so. The Assistant Secretary of State and other American officials also reportedly warned him not to escalate the situation right up until just hours before the conflict went hot. Both Saakashvili’s response to direction and judgment must be viewed as reliable like a chocolate teapot. A brilliant choice for governor. I guess “loose cannon” was already filled.

Note the generous use of the passive voice in excusing Saakashvili’s more glaring failures – some people lost their jobs, some people were sent to jail, Georgian protesters were dispersed by force, the television station which backed them was raided. Nothing in there suggests Saakashvili directly participated in any of these things – they just… sort of…happened. Imagine such things just…sort of…happening in Moscow. The ECFR would scream as if it were being cooked in a giant microwave.

But the author contends confidently that Saakashvili stands a good chance of success in straightening out the situation in Odessa, in the complete absence of any reason to think so. And that is the most maddening thing of all.

Let’s take a stroll together down memory lane, shall we, and have a non-partisan look at Saakashvili’s previous corruption-fighting record. Beeeeeoooowwwowww (that’s supposed to represent a time-bending sound effect). Okay, here we are in Warsaw; March 4th, 2008. The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission’s final report on the Extraordinary Presidential Election in Georgia on January 5th has just come out – you can smell the photocopier blistering from all the way down the hall, and the pages are still warm. Just before we open it, I want you to imagine two things – one, that the events and actions we read about  took place during a presidential election in Russia, and two, whether the ECFR would regard them as examples of corruption in those circumstances. Ready? Here we go.

Oh, dear. It doesn’t kick off very positively, I’m afraid. “The campaign was overshadowed by widespread allegations of intimidation and pressure, among others on public-sector employees and opposition activists, some of which were verified by the OSCE/ODIHR EOM. The distinction between State activities and the campaign of the ruling United National Movement (UNM) party candidate, Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili, was blurred.” Intimidation and pressure of public sector employees and opposition activists, in Moscow, benefiting Vladimir Putin and his party – examples of a corrupt and rotten government? What say you, ECFR? I think you know. “Opposition parties were underrepresented in managerial positions in Precinct Election Commissions, and the ruling UNM (United National Movement, President Saakashvili’s party) held a de facto majority“. Is that how Putin runs Moscow? Not on our watch, Sunny Jim. Is that a model for governance in Odessa? I guess it doesn’t need to be – regional governors in Ukraine are appointed, not elected – pretty democratic, I think you’ll agree.

Amendments to the election code were adopted only weeks before the election, and their meaning was sometimes subject to interpretation. “[G]overnment distribution of social benefit vouchers was perceived to overlap with the campaign of Mr. Saakashvili, and raised the concerns about an unequal campaign environment.” You could say that – vouchers for utilities and medical supplies were distributed by authorities ahead of the election to pensioners and the poor; a clear case of use of state funds to buy votes, especially as the vouchers were prominently marked as being from Mr. Saakashvili and incorporated his trademark “5” (He was number 5 on the presidential ballot). Some voucher recipients were asked by distributors if they planned to vote for Mr. Saakashvili and were asked to sign documents confirming their intention. How do you think that would go over at the ECFR kaffeeklatsch if it were benefiting Putin in a presidential election? Like a turd in a punchbowl, I suspect.

The last presidential election, held in January 2004, was won by Mr. Saakashvili with 96 per cent of the vote, in a largely uncontested race in which the main opposition figures did not stand.” Well, ‘pon my word; that’s democratic, surely, and just about as non-corrupt as…say…Zimbabwe. I can easily imagine a president elected on such a believable tide of national optimism turning into a finely-honed corruption fighter, especially when the same country issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of abuse of power.

As mentioned just a couple of posts ago, Saakashvili’s reign in Georgia coincided with record high unemployment and record low wages. You can shake and stir that as much as you like without ever being able to pour it out as success. He built himself a multi-million dollar palace that dwarfs the White House, while the Georgian per-capita GDP for a year was less than $6,500.00. His Defense Minister ran an offshore business for three years, right under his nose, that grossed nearly a Billion dollars in 2012. If all of that does not smell to you like c.o.r.r.u.p.t.i.o.n in three-part harmony, your stink-recognition rectifier may need replacement.

The efforts by this author, through “intellectual insurgency”, to repackage the Georgian Misfortune as  Georgiy Washingtonvili are insulting, sophomoric and deserving of nothing but ridicule. I am frankly surprised that even a parcel of pernicious partisan peckerheads like the ECFR would print it.

This entry was posted in Caucasus, Corruption, Economy, Europe, Georgia, Government, Politics, Rule of Law, Saakashvili, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2,017 Responses to Hello; I’m From the European Council on Foreign Relations – I Hear You Have a Bridge For Sale.

  1. Jeremn says:

    Eliot Higgins encounters someone who knows something about images taken from the air, and there’s an interesting discussion about the Russian MoD images. Higgins doesn’t come out looking too good.

    • yalensis says:

      This debate between Kuramoto and Brown Moses is very interesting.
      If I am understanding correctly, Kuramoto charges that Digitial Globe is in cahoots with Google Earth to distribute doctored images.

      Please recall the debate involving the drone photo aka “satellite photo” and discussion on Evgeny Shultz blog. Shultz theorized that Google Earth doctored a map in their archive. He posited that Google took a map of a certain quadrant (above Torez, Ukraine, where the plane was shot down) from July 17, 2014 and inserted that tiny patch of sky into the archive data from a much earlier date, sometime in 2012 (don’t remember the exact date).
      The patch of sky in question contained a quite distinctive corkscrew-shaped cloud.

      The purpose being (allegedly) to discredit the drone photo of the shoot-down (which showd an SU-25 shooting down the Boeing). By enabling Brown Moses and the others to expose an actual, real photo as a “fake”. Claiming that the fakers had photoshopped a patch from 2012 into the canvas from July 17, 2014.)
      When, in reality (if Shultz is right), the exact opposite is true: the “debunkers” photoshopped an image from July 17, 2014 into Google Earth archive from 2012.

      If Kuramoto is right, then this might corrobate Shultz’s theory. Or at least prove that Google is capable of deception.

      (oh no! not google! they honest brokers!)

      • marknesop says:

        I certainly would not dispute Google’s capacity for skullduggery, but that photo had to have been a fake. The fighter pictured was not an SU-25, it looked more like an SU-27. I suppose it’s just possible that whoever inserted the graphic for the fighter used an SU-27 because he didn’t have an SU-25 – after all, the plane in the white circle is only meant to show the fighter’s position to the untrained eye, since the actual video of the fighter is just a speck. But it appears to have the same background as the nearly-invisible fighter, and to be just a blown-up representation of the same plane. Russia was quite certain the plane was an SU-25. Really, the more differing versions pop up, the less likely we will ever find out what actually happened, as the proliferation of theories contributes to the confusion of the picture. And the satellite photo has all the earmarks of something introduced specifically so it could be derided as a fake, probably by the fakers themselves.

        It is good to see Higgins get his ass paddled, though, and it is typical of his insufferable arrogance that he cannot admit he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s dazzled by being courted by the UN and all the big wheels, and to have become such a rock star, and he does not see that will all melt away like a snowball in August the first time his narrative fails to back up the western version of events.

  2. Warren says:

  3. Patient Observer says:
  4. Lyttenburgh says:

    On the previous page, Moscow Exile mentioned “Meanwhile in Poland…” referring to how mutual sanctions are harming EU’s farmers. To expand on this topic – another pair of “Back2Back” articles.

    First we have this article, which… sincere and up-beat tone personally reminds me of a “Stepford Smiler”

    Baltics struggle to recover from Russian trade ban

    The Russian trade embargo continues to hit Baltic food producers, although the worst forecasts of the impact on the region’s meat industry have not come true.


    During the first four months of 2015, exports from Latvia to Russia fell by -23.9%, Lithuania by -33.4% and Estonia by -45.9%, said the Swedbank report. At the same time, the total volume of exports from Lithuania fell by only -4.6%, Estonia -0.4%, while Latvia even managed to increase its export figure by 2.5% compared to the same period last year.

    “In general, the decline [in exports to Russia] was partly compensated by a growth in exports to other regions, especially in the EU,” said the report. Meanwhile, Swedbank analysts believe that 75% of all exports to Russia are now destined for re-export, with the situation in Latvia pretty much the same.

    Problems still observed.

    According to Latvia’s prime minister Laimdota Straujuma, Russia’s food embargo will cost the country €55 million in losses. The ban has affected the food logistics industry, in particular, as according to the State Revenue Service, 31 Latvian businesses, including livestock producers and companies engaged in cargo transportation, have requested tax breaks connected to the ban.

    Also, according to the Latvian agriculture minister Jānis Dūklavs, the biggest problem faced by the region’s agricultural industry is attributable to a decrease in purchasing prices for products, due to an ongoing oversupply crisis.

    “I cannot say that no one is threatened by financial problems,” he added, referring to meat producers. “But we do not expect any massive bankruptcies in the industry.”

    Despite this, there have been numerous reports that meat farmers several Latvian regions have sold their livestock and turned to alternative types of business. “In my opinion, if, due to certain circumstances or because of the Russian embargo, farmers decide to no longer be engaged in the livestock industry and sell their property, along with animals, then it should not be called bankruptcy,” added Dūklavs. “This is simply the farmer’s decision.”

    Emphasized parts are important in the connection with the next article. Oh, and the optimism of the last paragraph is so noticeable!

    Next we have this:

    French Farmers Are Dumping Manure on Buildings and Blockading Roads to Protest Low Food Prices

    Yeah, I know – it’s VICE. And beign VICE they surely managed to miss a giant elephant in the room. So, their story goes as following:

    Protesting French farmers have blocked several routes into their country from Germany and Spain, turning back hundreds of trucks transporting foreign produce and food products.

    The farmers have been protesting since July 19 over the government’s perceived failure to address an agricultural crisis that has left one in 10 French farmers on the verge of bankruptcy, according to French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll.

    Last week, angry farmers dumped manure outside government buildings and let pigs loose inside stores to voice their frustration over cheap European produce. They say pressure from major retailers and processors has led to unsustainably low meat and dairy prices.

    According to French weekly Le Point, farmers blocked five bridges linking Germany to France with tractors and hay bales, turning back at least 400 trucks. Gérard Lorber, the secretary general of the Departmental Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FDSEA) for the eastern Bas-Rhin district, said that he and his colleagues had been “on the lookout for [foreign] license plates.” Speaking to VICE News Monday, Lorber explained that farmers had specifically targeted refrigerated trucks.

    “Some of the drivers were nicer than others when it came to letting us check their cargo,” Lorber said. “We found some pretty astonishing things — including a truck that was transporting Laughing Cow [cheese] made in Slovakia,” a product he says most French consumers would think of as made in France.

    While the majority of recent protests have been carried out by livestock farmers, those blocking the German border highways are mainly “fruit and vegetable producers that are suffering from distorted competition” from EU countries with cheaper labor costs. French farmers were “for Europe,” he explained, but were calling on the EU to harmonize prices in order to stamp out unfair competition.


    On June 17, meat sector stakeholders agreed to pay livestock farmers an extra .05 euros per week for every kilo of meat, as long as they needed help covering production costs. But farmers say the agreement was not adhered to, and that the price of beef rose by .07 euros over the course of a month.

    But the French press managed to spot the obvious! According to it:

    À en croire Le Figaro de ce mardi, «l’embargo russe a amplifié à la puissance dix la crise structurelle qui couve depuis des années. Les porcs allemands, qui partaient en Russie, restent en Europe de l’Ouest et ont provoqué la baisse des cours en France. »

    I.e. “The Russian embargo has gravely intensified a structural crisis that was building up for years. The German pork meat, which was usually sold to Russia, now goes to the Western Europe, thus causing the lowering of prices in France”.

    One second, please! First of all – as evident from the previous article – now not only German pork is going West, not east – add here all the produce that now comes from Baltics. Second – both in Baltic countries and in France their Agro Ministries are subsidizing their farmers, but prices are still low and farmers in both countries are still under a very real threat of bankruptcy! And, as an icing on the top, even VICE themselves are admitting in one of their news-capsules, that the French farmers who blockaded the German border were targeting specifically Eastern Europen trucks.

    Well, so much for the “European Solidarity”.

    • marknesop says:

      Bankruptcy??? What are you talking about? It was the farmers’ decision – they just decided to do something else! Being forced out of the market by low prices was just an impression on your part; farmers who have been farmers their whole lives just decided they wanted to be shoe salesmen and bus drivers. Nothing more to it than that.

      Get used to it, Europe. Things are never going to be the way they were. Say, “Thank you, Washington”.

    • Cortes says:

      There must’ve been a rerun of “Annie” with the lovable orphan singing “Tomorrow ” judging by those upbeat assessments.

  5. Warren says:

    Published on 31 Jul 2015
    Residents of Zagreb on Thursday (July 30) expressed support for the decision taken the previous day by Croatia’s parliament and government to withdraw from border arbitration with neighbouring Slovenia following a diplomatic scandal.

  6. Warren says:

  7. Warren says:

  8. Warren says:

    • Jen says:

      Sarah Palin was right: she not only could see Russia from the window of her office in Wasilla or Juneau, she was standing in it as well.

  9. Moscow Exile says:

    «Двенадцать патрульных полицейских были уволены по разным причинам. Несколько человек были уволены, потому что уснули в машине»

    Twelve foot-patrol police officers have been dismissed for various reasons. Several have been dismissed for falling asleep in [police] cars.

    Source: http://gelavasadze.livejournal.com/7176517.html

    • Jen says:

      Is there something wrong with their Police Academy pants, that they have to keep holding them up?

      • Tim Owen says:

        “My belt holds my pants up, but the belt loops hold my belt up. I don’t really know what’s happening down there. Who is the real hero?”

        Mitch Hedberg

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    Fifth columnists at their best (or worst?)

    Putin’s gang clear off off to Nuremberg!

    That’s Konstantin Borovoy with the late but not lamented Novodvorskaya. He’s been declared persona non grata in Belarus after joking about his readiness to lead a guerrilla squad named after Novodvorskaya and Reagan.

    See: Konstantin Borovoy: Lukashenka daily commits crimes against Belarusians

    Yapping dogs all!

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    In Lvov, “Rapid Trident-2015”

    In defence of Freedom and Democracy!

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    On the left is Maikl-Mikhailo Botsyurkov – head of the OSCE mission in the Ukraine.

    For me, that says it all!

    • marknesop says:

      Maybe he was just ordering three pints of best bitter.

    • Jen says:

      That’s not the same Michael Bociurkiw who negotiated with the Donbass rebels for himself and another OSCE observer to investigate the MH17 crash immediately after it happened, is it?

      • yalensis says:

        Different shaped eyebrows.

        • marknesop says:

          And Bociurkiw is a Canadian. Not the same guy. He’s the one who first reported that the cockpit panel looked like it had been hit by machine-gun fire.

        • Jen says:

          From the Niqnaq blog:

          “Pictured left in a fashionable cap, is none other than Michael Bociurkiw, the head spokesman of the OSCE mission in Ukraine. Michael Bociurkiw was born in Canada, into a family of Banderites, a prominent figure of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the local Ukrainian Diaspora. His father, Bohdan Rostyslav Bociurkiw, was born in 1925 in Galicia, in what was then Poland, and during the war was an active participant in the Ukrainian nationalist movements.”

          Obituary of Professor Bohdan Rostyslav Bociurkiw at The Ukrainian Weekly:

          More about Michael Bociurkiw at Pink Trotters Traveller

          Must be the same guy, how many Michael Bociurkiws are there?

          • marknesop says:

            I’ll be damned. It must be, although he doesn’t look the same in the photo where he is giving the Svoboda Salute. He lives about 20 minutes down the road, in the same town as my sister; I suppose I could pop down and ask him for an explanation.

            But why would he say it looked as if the cockpit had been hit by machine-gun fire? Didn’t he know that was not in the script?

            • Jen says:

              After checking some other blogs and websites, I think maybe the chap giving the 3-fingered Svoboda salute isn’t Bociurkiw after all but has been mistaken for him.

              Photo of Bociurkiw from his Twitter page:

              • marknesop says:

                Yes, I agree; it looks like a misidentification. I certainly wouldn’t suggest the OSCE doesn’t play favourites, but Bociurkiw was one of the two first OSCE representatives at the scene of the MH-17 crash and did not immediately start the “looks like the Russians dunnit” line. Quite the opposite, in fact, his impressions lent weight to the SU-25 theory.

  13. Warren says:

  14. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      The institutionalized paranoia in Britain is so overwhelming where Russia is concerned that there really are no questions a Russian could ask an Englishman that would not convince the Englishman that he was the target of a KGB recruitment initiative. What does anyone ask, on meeting a foreigner? Where are you from, what’s it like there compared to here? The Englishman, presumably, has little to no experience of Russia and the Russian, presumably, has little to no experience of England. What are you going to ask? Is your girlfriend good in bed?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        In September 2003 I arrived at Manchester airport, UK, from Moscow on a brief business trip to my motherland, where I wished to tie up some loose financial ends.

        It was a Sunday morning and there were very few arrivals passing through immigration, passport and customs control.

        By the grace of God having had the good fortune to have been born an Englishman, I proceeded directly to the “green line” of customs control. I only had hand-luggage with me and it was one of the very few occasions during my travels when I was stopped by customs.

        I was asked if I had arrived on the Moscow flight and then why I had been in Moscow. I told them I lived in Moscow – at that time I had already been living there for 10 years – whereupon I was asked what my business in the Russian capital was. What this had to do with the contents of my hand-luggage, which was minimal, I have no idea.

        I have mentioned this incident to several fellow countrymen (persons whom I avoid as a rule), some of whom thereupon informing me that on arriving in the UK from Moscow they too had been questioned in a similar fashion.

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          Brother, I was in the UK not even a year ago and the security mook gave the whole third degree: ‘Where are you going to? Where are you staying? Who are you meeting?’.

          Wretched jobsworth was so busy with her stupid and intrusive questions that she forgot to ask if I had a permit for the shashkas on my belt.

          • marknesop says:

            I agree; customs officials everywhere are little tin gods, and they know very well that if you ask what the hell that question has to do with customs, it will give them an excuse to send you off to a special room for a strip-search and really make your day, so they’re free to be assholes and you just have to answer up. I despise them. Unfortunately you are almost never passing through an airport in a scenario where you have unlimited time, so that when they say “What was your business there?” you could respond, “To meet your Momma for a quick knee-trembler, you knuckle-dragging po-faced busybody”.

  15. Warren says:

  16. Warren says:

  17. Warren says:

  18. Warren says:

    Marina Litvinenko: ‘The truth has finally been uncovered’


    • Moscow Exile says:

      In his closing statement, Ben Emmerson QC, for Mrs Litvinenko, said: “Vladimir Putin stands accused of this murder on solid and direct evidence – the best evidence that is ever likely to be available in relation to secret and corrupt criminal enterprise in the Kremlin.”
      He described an honour later warded to Lugovoy for services to the ‘Motherland’ by the president in March as an attempt by Russia to undermine the inquiry.
      “It was a crass and clumsy gesture from an increasingly isolated tinpot despot – a morally deranged authoritarian who was at that very moment clinging desperately on to political power in the face of international sanctions and a rising chorus of international condemnation,” he said.

      See: Kremlin ready to dismiss Litvinenko murder report before its even written

      So according to Ben, Putin is “an increasingly isolated tinpot despot – a morally deranged authoritarian who was at that very moment clinging desperately on to political power in the face of international sanctions and a rising chorus of international condemnation”.

      Don’t visit Russia all that often, do you Ben?

      • Max says:

        so what is the definitive take on Litvinenko? Is there one?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Putin ordered his murder.

          In his closing statement, Ben Emmerson QC, for Mrs Litvinenko, said: “Vladimir Putin stands accused of this murder on solid and direct evidence – the best evidence that is ever likely to be available in relation to secret and corrupt criminal enterprise in the Kremlin.”

          Owen, the Big Wig, “is now due to report by the end of the year”.

          Quotes from Telegraph (see link above).

          Will Owen in his report say it was Putin who ordered the murder?

          Funny how another potentially key witness couldn’t make it to the enquiry because of his sudden, unexpected death shortly after he had been making overtures to the Evil One with a view to returning from self-imposed exile in the UK.

          • Max says:

            No, seriously, did Putin order the hit? He certainly went all out for this particular miscreant. I always suspected a falling out among oligarchs. As you can imagine it’s impossible to goggle anything but the official narrative. Specially for a non-Russian.

            • yalensis says:

              Dear Max:
              Nobody really knows, except those who dunnit.
              In this murder, there are 3 major suspects: (1) Putin, (2) Berezovsky, and (3) MI-5.
              (or is it MI-6? I always get those 2 confused; in any case, it HAS been established as fact, that Litvinov worked for Her Majesty’s Secret Service).

            • Moscow Exile says:

              What makes you believe that Putin “went all out for this particular miscreant”?

              What irrefutable evidence have you for making such a statement?

              Litvinenko was a a grade-A no-mark. He was not a “spy” that had defected, as the Western press usually states: he was a little money-making shit who latched onto Berezovsky’s coat-tails.

              As regards Litvenenko’s death – cui bono?


              The Russian state?


              On the other hand, of course, Putin certainly must have ordered journalist Politkovskaya’s death because she was murdered on his birthday.

              Stand’s to reason, don’t it?

            • Jen says:

              Max, one other possibility, and I believe it’s been raised by others out in the wild blue cyber-yonder, is that Litvinenko himself may have handled something with polonium, was careless or forgetful (or perhaps not advised at the time that whatever he was handling was dangerous) and contaminated himself with it. Handling polonium in itself is not dangerous and people can do so even with bare hands; it’s dangerous if you forget to clean your hands afterwards and you touch something that goes into your mouth later, like food.

              The tragedy arising from the British government’s obsession with pursuing Russia over Litvinenko’s death is that Litvinenko’s widow is being used as much as her husband was (however much he happily agreed to go along with the British) when he was alive. Marina Litvinenko could have been persuaded by her husband’s employers to believe that Moscow was after Litvinenko and killed him, to turn her away from finding out what really happened to him and perhaps demanding compensation from MI5, MI6 or any other British government agency for using him in dangerous work that its own spies wouldn’t be allowed to do. This lets the British government off the hook over Litvinenko’s death.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Dear Marina repeatedly and categorically denied that her beloved had been working for British “security” until the money stopped coming in, that is, off that nice, kind Mr. Berezovsky. She then did an abrupt about turn and blew the gaff on her husband’s British state employers.

                Mr Litvinenko’s widow Marina told The Mail on Sunday her husband had worked for MI5 and MI6 and was paid tens of thousands of pounds. It is believed he helped in combating Russian criminal gangs working in Europe.

                Mrs Litvinenko had previously denied her husband’s links to British security services out of loyalty to her husband, but now wants the inquiry to investigate all events leading up to what she calls a ‘Russian state-sponsored execution’.

                See: MI5 ordered to reveal links to murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko

                See also:

                Alexander Litvinenko: Blackmailer, Smuggler, Gangster Extraordinaire

                The Litvinenko files: Was he really murdered?

                The authorised British version is that Alexander Litvinenko was a political refugee who paid the ultimate price for his vocal opposition to Putin. The more that emerges about him, however, the more complicated his life seems to have been.

                Mystery surrounds precisely how Litvinenko occupied himself when he was not at home watching old videos. He and his family received a house and an income from Boris Berezovsky’s charitable foundation, but it is not clear what his paymaster might have asked of him in return.

                Who’s Who At The Polonium Party

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Why a spy was killed

                  Litvinenko was not a “spy”!

                  In 1991, Litvinenko was promoted to the Central Staff of the Federal Counterintelligence Service, specialising in counter-terrorist activities and infiltration of organised crime. He was awarded the title of “MUR veteran” for operations conducted with the Moscow criminal investigation department, the MUR.[15] Litvinenko also saw active military service in many of the so-called “hot spots” of the former USSR and Russia.[16] During the First Chechen War Litvinenko planted several FSB agents in Chechnya. Although he was often called a “Russian spy” by western press, throughout his career he was not an ‘intelligence agent’ and did not deal with secrets beyond information on operations against organised criminal groupsWiki

                  In exile, Litvinenko carried on relentlessly truffling for dirt on Putin, but having to live on handouts from Berezovsky niggled at his pride. While his wife, Marina, embraced her new life in the UK, re-establishing a career as a dance teacher and learning English, Litvinenko, who spoke hardly any, hankered after independence – see above Guardian link.

                  [My emphasis!]

                  Litvinenko’s “J’accuse” deathbed statement as dictated to Berezovsky fixer Goldfarb and read out by him as he controlled the “death of Sasha Show” outside University College Hospital, London:

                  I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me, the British police who are pursuing my case with vigour and professionalism and are watching over me and my family.

                  I would like to thank the British government for taking me under their care. I am honoured to be a British citizen.

                  I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.

                  I thank my wife Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.

                  But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death.

                  I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like.

                  I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

                  You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.

                  You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value.

                  You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women.

                  You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.

                  May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.

                  Alexander Litvinenko
                  21 November 2006

                  Source: BBC

                  Pretty good English that and poetic in parts: “But as I lie here I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death” and “You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life“.

                  And Goldfarb?

                  Alex Goldfarb, a child of the 1950s, was drawn into dissidence too. Trained as a microbiologist he worked on the USSR’s infectious diseases programme, winning national recognition for his research. But his political views were a matter of public knowledge. He collaborated with Sakharov and Nathan Sharansky on a political manifesto which questioned the very basis of Soviet power. Thanks to the high profile of his fellow protestors, Goldfarb was not arrested but given the chance to emigrate. He took it. In 1975 he flew to the United States and returned to the study of virology at New York University. His expertise brought him to the attention of the billionaire George Soros, who engaged him to head a programme he was setting up to combat TB worldwide. Goldfarb quickly rose through the ranks in the Soros Foundation and played a key role in his boss’s dealings with post-Soviet Russia, including some of the massive privatizations of the 1990s. Billion-dollar deals were common as Boris Yeltsin took the advice of Western economists and plunged Russia head first into capitalism by privatizing many state companies and resources. Soros profited from Yeltsin’s lunatic fire sales, but so did native Russians like Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and – more than anyone – Boris Berezovsky. As soon as Berezovsky came across Goldfarb, he knew he had to have him on his team.

                  A genial, Americanized Russian Jewish intellectual with seemingly endless anecdotes, jokes and quips for every occasion, Alex Goldfarb is today firmly on Berezovsky’s books and committed to the struggle to oust Vladimir Putin. There is a twinkle in his eye. He is inventive and blessed with a quick imagination. When I got to know him better, he confided that he wanted to be an author and showed me the manuscript of a novel he had written. It was about a plot by the FSB and a hard-line Russian president to engineer war in Chechnya by blowing up Moscow apartment blocks and blaming it on Chechen separatists. In Goldfarb’s novel a Moscow businessman and sworn enemy of the president learns about the plot, but the FSB frames him for the bombings. He escapes and ‘survives incredible odds to get his story out, only to discover that the world doesn’t want to know the truth’. Incredible? Maybe. With such an imagination, no wonder some were asking who actually wrote Sasha’s last statement.

                  Source: The Litvinenko File (ch. 12-14)

        • marknesop says:

          It was a foregone conclusion that any British inquiry was going to blame Russia – I’m just curious about Kovtun’s allegation that Litvinenko had actually vomited and shown signs of being ill – perhaps poisoned – three days prior to his meeting with Kovtun and Luguvoy. If true, that suggests someone (Berezovsky?) knew of the pending meeting and set them up, while getting Litvinenko out of the picture as well.

      • Warren says:

        The hyperbole and rhetoric is farcical. Clearly Emmerson QC was playing to the gallery – the entire inquiry was political theater and a show trial.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Playing to the gallery is part and parcel of a barrister’s skills in the English legal system.

          English court barristers are key actors in the English law adversarial system, in which two advocates represent their parties’ positions before an allegedly impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case, “truth” meaning in this instance that it is “beyond reasonable doubt” that the accused is guilty/not guilty.

          This English system is in contrast to the inquisitorial system used in some civil law systems (i.e. those deriving from Roman law or the Napoleonic code) where a judge or group of judges investigates the case.

          Because of this, barristers in English courts “play to the gallery”, e.g. “I ask you,members of the jury, do you really believe in your heart of hearts that this sweet,demure damsel brutally murdered a man in cold blood?”

      • Warren says:

        Notice the pillock in the video holding a sign and his barking dog trying to gatecrash Marina Litvinenko’s presser? What a nutter….lol

  19. Warren says:

  20. Warren says:

    Mistral talks between France and Russia are over – top Russian official


  21. Warren says:

  22. Warren says:

  23. Warren says:

  24. Warren says:

  25. Warren says:

  26. yalensis says:

    Somebody came up with a good idea:

    Recall that Russia passed a law (on 31 July, signed by Prime Minister Medvedev) to destroy unsanctioned food products coming into Russia illegally.
    This illegal food is supposed to be literally destroyed at the border.
    (In other words, food products from EU which are under sanction, but for some reason they still come in, maybe by smugglers, and agents are supposed to intercept and burn them at the border.)

    Anyhow, one of Putin’s advisors named Evgeny Bobrov came up with an idea, instead of burning the products, to donate them to refugees from Donbass.

    Which sounds good, ’cause, see, apples and cheese and the like in and of themselves are not evil. It’s just that the producers of those products should not be PAID for their goods. Because the point is to punish them and drive them to the poorhouse. As tit-for-tat for their governments hostile actions against Russian economy.

    Hence, it sounds like a good idea to use these products to feed the hungry for free.
    That way, people in need get to eat, and the foreign producers suffer economic loss.
    As my mom likes to say, “Please don’t waste good food, when there are hungry people in the world.”

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I was in an expensive shop with Mrs Exile yesterday afternoon in search of an expensive cake for my expensive son’s expensive 16th birthday, and I noticed that there were Riga sprats on sale.

      I immediately telephoned Nashi …

    • marknesop says:

      That plan does make sense. Probably, though, to make everything aboveboard, they would ask the Ukrainians for permission to transit the stuff to the checkpoint with Donbas. And the Ukies would refuse, or hold things up until the stuff spoiled, just to be pricks.

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