Major Indian Investment In 250 Russian 5th Generation Fighters

[Boeing and Lockheed executives are crying rivers over this.]

India to spend over $25 billion to induct 250 5th-gen stealth fighters

Rajat Pandit, TNN

NEW DELHI: India will eventually spend over $25 billion to induct 250 advanced stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), on way to being co-developed with Russia, in what will be the country’s biggest-ever defence project.

With a potent mix of super-manoeuvrability and supersonic cruising ability, long-range strike and high-endurance air defence capabilities, each FGFA will cost upwards of Rs 450 crore or around $100 million.

This will be in addition to the huge investment to be made in co-developing FGFA with cash-strapped Russia, as also the huge infrastructure required to base, operate and maintain such jets in India.

“We are looking to induct 200 to 250 FGFA in phases from 2017 onwards,” confirmed IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Monday. As reported by TOI earlier, New Delhi and Moscow are looking to ink the FGFA preliminary design contract when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev comes visiting here in December.

Under intense negotiations for the last four-five years, the FGFA project will also figure in the talks between defence minister A K Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov on October 8.

Though the Indian FGFA will based on the Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA, which flew for the first time this January at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur facility in Siberia, it will be built to IAF’s specifications. It’s already being touted as superior to the American F/A-22 `Raptor’, the world’s only operational FGFA as of now.

ACM Naik said the 30-tonne FGFA will be a “swing-role fighter, with very advanced avionics, stealth to increase survivability, enhanced lethality, 360 degree situational awareness, smart weapons, data-links, high-end mission computers” and the like.

Along with 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, which India plans to acquire in a $10.4 billion project, 270 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion and 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, the FGFA will be the mainstay of India’s air combat fleet for the foreseeable future.

Even as the Army revises its war doctrine to factor in the worst-case scenario of a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China, is IAF also preparing for the same?

“Our modernisation plans are based on the four pillars of `see, reach, hit and protect’…We prepare for a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, multi-front war,” said ACM Naik.

“But our approach is capability-based, not adversary-specific. Our modernisation drive is in tune with our nation’s aspirations,” he said, adding that India’s strategic interests stretched “from Hormuz Strait to Malacca Strait and beyond”.

To a volley of questions on China and Pakistan, IAF chief said, “All neighbours, from the smallest to the largest, have to be watched with caution…Their capabilities have to be assessed…Anything that can upset the growth of our nation is a matter of concern.”

With the new planned inductions in the pipeline, IAF’s obsolescence rate will come down to 20% by 2014-15 from the current 50% or so. “But this does not mean that we are not fully capable of defending the country from any air or space threat at the moment…We are,” said ACM Naik.


Reports of Serious Talks Between Taliban, Afghan gov’t to end war

WASHINGTON – The Associated Press

Secret talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan have begun between representatives of the Taliban and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, The Washington Post reported on its website Tuesday night.

Afghan and Arab sources cited by the Post said they believe for the first time that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, according to the newspaper. The sources requested anonymity to discuss the development.

Omar’s representatives have shunned negotiations in the past, insisting that all foreign troops withdraw first. However, the Post reported that its sources said the Quetta Shura has begun to talk about a comprehensive agreement that would include participation of some Taliban figures in the government and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.

Karzai long has said he will talk to insurgents if they renounce violence, sever ties to terrorists and embrace the Afghan constitution. The Post reported that the half-dozen sources directly involved in or on the margins of the talks emphasized that they were preliminary in nature, even as the sources differed on how specific the talks have been. All expressed concern that any public description of the meetings would undercut them.

The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, said last week that Taliban leaders have made overtures to reconcile with the Afghan government. “There are very high-level Taliban leaders who have sought to reach out to the highest levels of the Afghan government and indeed have done that,” Petraeus told reporters in Afghanistan.

Reconciling with Taliban leaders is being “pursued by the Afghan leadership at the very highest levels,” Petraeus said. The Afghan government last week also set up a 70-member peace council, formalizing efforts to reconcile with Taliban leaders and lure insurgent foot soldiers off the battlefield.

Waheed Omar, a spokesman for Karzai, denied that President Barack Obama’s stated goal of beginning to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan in July 2011, if conditions allow, spurred the Afghan government to set up the council or reach out to the Taliban.

Turkish enigma to remain one more mystery

ÖZGÜR ÖĞRET
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Recent claims by a retired colonel about founding an alleged clandestine strike unit that is suspected in many unsolved murders have done little to dispel the mystery surrounding the organization. While experts say many of the colonel’s claims are unbelievable, they also call for an investigation to help shed light on dark parts of Turkey’s past
JİTEM, whose existence is denied by the Turkish military, has been accused of using illegal means to fight terrorism and of being behind dozens of unsolved murders during the 1990s.
JİTEM, whose existence is denied by the Turkish military, has been accused of using illegal means to fight terrorism and of being behind dozens of unsolved murders during the 1990s.

Despite the reopened cases and new confessions drawing renewed attention to an alleged covert intelligence and strike unit within the gendarmerie, the mysteries surrounding it are unlikely to be revealed soon, experts have said.

Retired Col. Arif Doğan is at the center of much of the recent controversy with his claims of founding the clandestine group, known as JİTEM, that is claimed to be the intelligence unit of the gendarmerie, though never officially recognized by the military. The Ergenekon suspect, who is in poor health, told two newspapers last week that he wants to reveal everything he knows about the organization before he dies, prompting Ergenekon Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz to take his testimony immediately.

But journalist and author Ertuğrul Mavioğlu is suspicious about how the investigation into Doğan’s claims is being carried out.

“Let me speak openly; if they ran a real investigation, they would have to face the dirty past of the state,” Mavioğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “I am almost sure [the recent acts] are playing to the crowd.”

The journalist expressed suspicions about why Öz acted on the two newspaper interviews rather than evaluating the eight sacks of documents confiscated from Doğan’s house when he was arrested within the scope of the Ergenekon coup-plot investigation in 2008. “Only the titles of these documents are present in the second Ergenekon indictment; their content is censored,” Mavioğlu said. He claimed they include details about how JİTEM was organized and how its members carried out raids on villages in southeastern Turkey disguised as members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

JİTEM has been accused of being behind dozens of unsolved murders, especially in the 1990s; an ongoing case in Diyarbakır is looking into some of those unsolved murders from 1993-95. The General Staff, however, still officially denies the existence of such an organization. Doğan, its self-proclaimed founder, is suspected of involvement in the alleged assassination of Gen. Eşref Bitlis, who died in a plane crash in 1993. Doğan denies the charges, saying he disbanded JİTEM in 1990. Another Ergenekon suspect, retired Gen. Veli Küçük, has long been believed to be the actual founder of JİTEM.

Though various experts told the Daily News that Doğan’s comments are worthy of investigation, all expressed doubts about his claims of founding, and then shutting down in 1990, the group on his own. Retired Gen. Nejat Eslen said founding a vast covert organization within the military is not possible “if you are respectful toward the law.” He added that “a colonel cannot build such an organization alone.”

The timing of Doğan’s statements is important, Eslen said, because even though the retired colonel is a micro-factor in a larger plan, the recent efforts to solve the Kurdish issue are leading the country down a dangerous path that may lead to the breakup of Turkey. “I am neither a judge nor a prosecutor, but things smell rotten as the colonel [Doğan] speaks,” he said. “What was this colonel promised that he speaks now?”

Doğan’s comments aim to dilute the seriousness of claims about the covert organization, according to Önder Aytaç, an academic and security specialist, who accused the retired colonel of trying to muddy the waters. “Even the children in southeastern Turkey know the truth about JİTEM very well,” Aytaç said.

Though Doğan’s claims about founding and closing JİTEM are unbelievable, his statements may still help shed light on thousands of unsolved murders, said Orhan Miroğlu, a columnist and author who survived an assassination attempt allegedly carried out by the covert group. Miroğlu told the Daily News that the controversial book by Hanefi Avcı, the recently arrested Eskişehir police chief, also has important things to say regarding the past acts of JİTEM.

“I do not think the nongovernmental organizations in [southeastern Turkey] are doing their job well on the matter, nor is the [pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP],” Miroğlu said. “From the beginning, they stood faithful to [jailed PKK leader Abdullah] Öcalan’s order to stay out of [the Ergenekon case].” Many have criticized the Ergenekon investigation for not “passing the Eurphates River,” meaning not looking into the JİTEM accusations.

The columnist criticized the country’s Kurds for not standing up against JİTEM when the alleged clandestine organization had shed so much of their blood. He added that he will try to be more active in the struggle to reveal the truth about the group by writing about it more and by applying to the courts as a victim of the assassination attempt against him, an attack that took the life of his uncle, journalist and author Musa Anter.

Journalist Mavioğlu said any investigation into JİTEM should be expanded to look into past chiefs of General Staff in order to make sense. He added that he does not trust the investigation into Bitlis’ death either because he believes both the key actors at that time and the current investigators are “in consensus” on protecting the state.

Academic Aytaç said if light is shed on just two or three of the unsolved murders in Turkey’s past, the rest would be solved easily and quickly, revealing connections either to the “deep state or organized crime.”

Rakhmonov Crying “Islamist” Wolf An Invitation for American Intervention Against Russia

Dodozhon Atovulloyev: My sympathies on the side of those who fight in the mountains

04.10.2010 22:57 msk

“However”

October 5 in the Russian magazine “However,” published an interview with the leader of the movement “Vatandor” (“Patriot”), a tough critic of President Emomali Rakhmonov, opposition journalists Dodozhonom Atovulloev. Publish the full interview.

AT ALL IS NOT ENOUGH RAKHMONOV TAJIKISTAN

After 13 years of peace that followed the bloody 1992-1997 civil war in Tajikistan, once again there was a smell of gunpowder. The attack on military convoy in the Rasht region, during which, according to official figures, killed 25 government soldiers, the scale is more like a military operation than a one-time raid irreconcilable. In this case, the IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), which allegedly claimed responsibility for this action. So what really happened in the gorge Kamarob and that’s going on in Tajikistan?

On these and other questions, however, meets the leader of the Tajik opposition movement Vatandor “Dodojon Atovulloyev.

- To make it clearer, I will begin by answering the second question. In Tajikistan, ongoing civil war. She did not stop all these years, and declared the world was very conditional. Changed only the methods of warfare, the alignment of forces and enemy targets. At the present stage is not at war with the Islamists and democrats are not united opposition from the Popular Front. Now all are fighting against Rakhmonov regime. Patience of the people is full. People are tired of living without light, without gas, without proper food, no medicine. World about which all said and on which all hoped for, has turned into a trap, trap, which came one after another, not only the leaders of the opposition, but those who led Rakhmonov to power.

- And who brought him to power?

- Gaffor Mirzoyev (former commander of the Presidential Guard), Yakub Salimov (former Minister of Internal Affairs), Sangak Safarov (former field commander of the Popular Front, who served before 1923 on criminal charges), Mahmoud Khudaiberdyev (former commander of Special Forces) – the most famous people from the team. They are all either killed, or sit, or in exile. Units are lucky – they had to flee.

Dodozhon Atovulloyev

Same story with those that initially fought against Rakhmonov, and after the peace accords began his new friends. Where are they now? Said Abdullah Nuri, the leader of the Tajik opposition, and then Chairman of the Commission on National Reconciliation, was poisoned. Otahon Latifi, a prominent journalist, who worked at one time in the newspaper Pravda, he returned to the country after the signing of the peace and was killed. Mirzo Ziyoev, a warlord who became Minister of Emergency Situations, was killed last year in Tavildara. Sanginov Habib, the deputy interior minister, assassinated in 2000, Makhmadruzi Iskandarov, chairman of the committee Tajikgas (as in the text of the interview. Actually Tajikgas – a large state enterprises, M. Iskandarov headed it until 2003. – Fergana . PN), arrested in 2004 in Moscow and taken to Tajikistan, which received 23 years in prison. Thus, what has happened in Rasht – a continuation of the same policy Rakhmonov. For him, search for enemies never end. In the past year, such as fighting was going on in Tavildara, and at the same time under the guise of fighting terrorism and fundamentalism have been killed tens of any innocent people, and hundreds were imprisoned. And now trying to clean up the Rasht, where they were two months ago, was transferred two thousand soldiers and military equipment.

- Then what the enemy is looking for Rakhmonov in Rasht?

- The goal was to get rid of two powerful warlords – Mirzohudzhi Akhmadov and Schoch Iskandarov.Last year, Rakhmonov met with Akhmadov, and met in Garm, the administrative center of the Rasht region. The President swore on the Koran, which has no claims to Akhmadov and will not pursue him.They have publicly embraced, and it was shown on television. We spoke with him shortly after that, I then said: “Mirzohudzha do not believe Rahmon, this person can not be trusted.” Our last phone conversation took place just a few days ago. Again I advised him to take security measures, saying that the aim of the operation in Rasht is likely, it was he. But Akhmadov until the last minute was sure that nothing threatens him. A few days after the attack on the convoy with Akhmadov met specially arrived in Garm Ministers of Interior and Defense, as well as the deputy attorney general and deputy NSC (National Security Committee. – Auth.). They assured him that the president is good for him and no questions to him there, at the same time asked not to support troops Mullah Abdullah. And exactly two days later the house Akhmadov in Garm blew from the air. He, fortunately, was not injured, but the bombing killed five people, including a woman and three laborers Kirghiz. This information to the Murdered government carefully concealed. The next day on television said that Ahmad – a terrorist and that he hid in his Mullah Abdullah, who along with IMU accused in the attack on the convoy.

- And in fact, is not he?

- I think not. Just out of Abdullo make Bin Laden. Frankly, I can not say which group was behind the attack. But, to our knowledge, the defeat of the column were killed 25, and 40 soldiers and 25 took the side of the attackers, joining their squad. I am equally sorry for those and others. After all these young guys who take to the army – they are all from poor families who do not have 200 dollars to buy off the service. They are like rabbits for hunters – now cannon fodder. Still, my sympathies on the side of those mountains. They have experienced too much: the horrors of civil war and the hardships of life in refugee camps in Afghanistan. And now they are again in exile – in their homeland.

- But, maybe there really were IMU?

- IMU is not interested in Tajikistan, their enemy – Tashkent. But interestingly different. In 1998 idushniki really came at us, and under the roof of the Tajik National Security Committee. Remember the raid in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1998? They walked out of Tajikistan, after they were given weapons, trained at special bases. So Rakhmon wanted to punish and intimidate Tashkent. After the raid, authorities in Tajikistan idushnikov put on buses and, as guests of honor, carried to the Afghan border. Seeing on TV with comments: No more IMU in Tajikistan. So the story of friendship with the IMU Rakhmonov regime has begun in that time and probably continues to this day. Judge for yourself: IMU very necessary organization. Explosion in Khujand, the explosion in a nightclub, jailbreak, and everywhere the accusations against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and international terrorists. And in the context of these charges are called the three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Russian Federation. Why? I think Rahmon thus sends a signal to the West, for whom Islam – like a red rag to a bull. Russia is accused of supporting international terrorism solely on the grounds that in Tajikistan were arrested several Russian nationals – people from Dagestan. These guys for a year – and according to official reports – and has already been arrested and imprisoned and even killed, from which it can be concluded that the authorities themselves entangled in his own lies.

- That is from Russia Rakhmon no more waiting for?

- In Russia, he erected a cross. I do not deny the President of Tajikistan in the right to criticize the policies of Russia. But the right to insult an entire people no one else. Homeless people, drunks, people who have nothing is sacred – such remarks against the Russian people very often found in official media. Himself and his subjects as the president calls the Aryans, not hesitating at the same time send Aryans revenge streets of Russian cities. In news programs from Russia is neither a positive story. Only negative – on all four channels. Every day show, as in Russia bully the Tajiks, and so, it appears, has become a tradition since Soviet times. And never, no example of a good life guest workers. In general, Russia – it is such Auschwitz for Tajiks.Not by chance that print newspapers portraits of Putin and Medvedev in the image of Hitler. And recently, the president said at a cabinet meeting: Russia does not want our independence, Russia wants us to be slaves. I must say that Rakhmonov has not bad acting skills. When three years ago, Russia stopped to help him with money, and get a new bird feeder in the West had failed, someone advised him to appeal to Arab sheiks. And how do you think that made this farm chairman and Communist, who came to power with the slogan “No to Islam!” Which destroyed the mosque in 1992, burned the Koran, and even burned people a beard? He performed the Hajj! And then he began to position himself as the defender of Islam. In one of the Arab newspapers have published about him a great sketch, which can not be read without tears of tenderness. It turns out that at night the president reads the Quran and crying, and that in Soviet times, he pressed as a Muslim. And now, when it was free, he draws huge international conference on Islam, which is not quoted Marx as the prophet Muhammad, announced in Tajikistan Year of Islam, etc.

Believe all of a sudden can even convinced atheist, it happens. Only it’s not the case, because, having failed to obtain reciprocity from Arab sheikhs (as it has been during the abortive novel Dushanbe and Tehran), president of the Aryans has once again started to flirt with the West. Just two years ago he was a devout Muslim but now once again close the mosque, and prohibits the hijab, calling the women who wear it, monkeys. So it seems, has decided to appeal to America, where he had been recently. Rakhmonov had been in the U.S. for ten days. Just at this time there was a massacre in Rasht, but the president did not even think to interrupt his visit and return home. Mow a true Muslim was silly, but even more foolish to fight against the religion professed by 99 percent of the population. And if anyone makes people join the ranks of extremists, it is the policy of Rakhmonov. Home terrorist organization we have – a government led by president suffering from two delusions – of grandeur and persecution. He sees in every enemy, especially if the person is anything like a strong and influential. The other day in Moscow was arrested on one of the large Tajik businessmen Nizomhon Juraev. At one time it was entree into the family Rakhmonov and even friends with one of his daughters. But then, apparently, was too rich and independent. At first he took away all the business, then arrested 30 relatives, and now his own. Blaming one: an attempt to coup d’etat, terrorism, and extremism.

- He was detained by Russian special services? And has already transferred to the Tajik side?

- Not yet. We have a list of 1,555 persons declared by the Tajik side in search. These people – the former opposition or supporters of former oppositionists. All of them are accused of terrorism, illegal border crossing and killing Russian soldiers and officers. All this, of course, a lie. But with such formulations necessarily Russia will give them to Tajikistan. What do all these people? Only one thing: to defend itself by taking up arms. Why are people now gather in the mountains? After all, there goes not only the opposition, but everyone who fears for his life and liberty. In the beginning we said that the civil war in Tajikistan continues. At this stage there is a war not of faith, not of democratic ideals, not for power, and not for money. This is a war for life, and for those who are in the mountains, it is valid.

- How many people are in the mountains?

- In early summer there were 700-800, now more than 3 thousand. They live in villages, the local population to them is good, there is a refuge from the time of the Civil War. In the five years of civil war Rakhmon and could not get control over these territories, the more it will fail him now. But it is only in the Rasht region in the east. Roughly the same in the villages around Dushanbe and northern Tajikistan. Rakhmonov said recently in a not very narrow circle, that the northern Tajiks – people second-class citizens and have often rape their women, to elevate the blood. The explosion of the building security in Khujand – a response to his words. In July, Rakhmonov was in the Pamirs, where he assembled a former commander and seven days of celebrating the anniversary of reconciliation. There were taken gifts, a caravan of handouts: computers, refrigerators. Television showed the story: His Majesty urged the businessmen to help the poor, and that the president’s daughter gives people energy efficient light bulbs. Another story: A woman with Pamir said that after the arrival of Rakhmon its chickens are better scurry, and the bees started to produce more honey.Anyone can be deceived by such scenes? Only the Rakhmonov. Has grown up a new generation that is willing to live without hot water, saying that “if only there was no war.” Their war is not scared, they do not know. But know that if the machine room with four eights, it’s a family car Rakhmonov. And if the four units – family brother. The president has seven daughters and two sons, and all one Tajikistan is clearly not enough.

- But somebody Rahmon support? Domestically and abroad?

- Domestically, it’s only come in his native Dangara district, others he does not believe. Intelligence agencies are incompetent and corrupt, the recent mass jailbreak it showed. And who will be loyal to the president, that all leases? Abroad obvious allies had either, although he is actively looking for a “roof”. There are, however, the lobby – I think even that is not in one country. In Russia it’s a few senior officials, tied with Rahmon money and also have interests in drug trafficking. That they are trying to persuade the Russian leadership, which no one to replace Rakhmonov and that if “our son of a bitch” go away, then his successor will come an Islamic fundamentalist. By the way, according to our information, just in recent days, government forces are involved in Rasht two helicopters sent by the Russian side. And Kazakhstan Tajikistan handed attack – in the Parliament’s decision on grant military assistance. Would like to see people taking such decisions, they knew: they give military hardware terrorist regime, fighting against their own people.Peace is impossible. There is now a consolidation of all the opponents Rakhmonov. If the opposition groups will move to Dushanbe, the Tajik army of hungry run so far not even to the Afghan – to the Chinese border. Such a statement – just a matter of time.Rakhmonov, who was waiting for the fate of Saddam Hussein, he brought the denouement.

Algeria upset by French push on al-Qaida

Algeria upset by French push on al-Qaida

Nicolas Sarkozy speaks at Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations on September 20, 2010 in New York. UPI /Monika Graff

ALGIERS, Algeria, Oct. 5 (UPI) — France’s self-declared war against al-Qaida’s North African network is causing anxiety in a region where the former colonial power is still viewed with disdain and the ploy could backfire on French PresidentNicolas Sarkozy.

The French became involved in the shooting war with al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb in July when it deployed Special Forces troops with Mauritania’s military in an attack on a jihadist camp in the Sahara Desert in a botched attempt to rescue a 78-year-old French hostage seized in April.

Six or seven militants were killed in the raid in Mali, which failed to locate the captive, aid worker Michel Germaneau.

AQIM fighters beheaded Germaneau two days later as a reprisal for French intervention in the desert insurgency that until then had been a purely regional affair.

Sarkozy declared war on AQIM, who warned he had “opened the gates of hell.”

On Sept. 16, the jihadists struck back by kidnapping five French citizens and two Africans, all on whom worked for the French nuclear giant Areva and sub-contractors at one of the company’s uranium mines in Niger.

The French are seeking to contact the kidnappers through local go-betweens, probably Tuareg tribesmen who have worked with the jihadists in the past.

Paris has also sent a military detachment to Niamey, Niger’s capital, more troops to nearby Burkina Faso and at least two aircraft to hunt for the captives, who are believed to be held in neighboring Mali.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the AQIM commander in the region covering the Sahara and the semi-arid Sahel region to the south, is believed to have close links to senior figures in Mali’s government and military.

He has even married into the local Tuareg clans to consolidate his alliances with the nomadic tribes who run smuggling operations across the region’s porous borders.

The military intervention by the French, who maintain military bases in some of their former colonial empire across north and west Africa, has aggravated rivalries between the regional governments.

It has particularly annoyed the Algerians, who fought a brutal independence war against the French in 1954-62 and are fiercely opposed to Western military forces becoming involved in the Sahara conflict.

Algeria is the region’s main military power and the driving force behind a new regional offensive against the jihadists, which has its headquarters at the Algerian air base of Tamanrasset, 600 miles south of Algiers deep in the Sahara.

On Sept. 26, the Algerians convened a special meeting with the military chiefs of Mali, Mauritania and Niger at Tamanrasset to set out a joint strategy for fighting AQIM, which is dominated by Algerian jihadists.

There have been any number of similar gatherings before but none has produced a sustainable common strategy.

Mauritania has taken a tough line against the jihadists, as evidenced by its willingness to allow French commandos to take part in the July raids. Niger has followed suit.

But Mali has taken a far more tolerant line with the jihadists, hence Belmokhtar’s reputed links with senior figures in Bamako.

According to Africa Intelligence, a Paris Web site, Algeria’s primary motive in convening the September meeting under its chief of staff, Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, was to “send a clear message to Paris that he intended to retain control over his Sahara backyard.”

Paris has secured Mauritania’s cooperation and is conducting surveillance flights over the region. But, Africa Intelligence noted, “will Algeria allow such operations in its sphere of influence?

“Algeria remains upset over the Franco-Mauritanian offensive against AQIM in Mali in July and especially because the operation proved counter-productive for France, as the kidnapping of Areva’s staff in Niger underscored.”

Algiers is particularly annoyed at the Europeans’ willingness to pay multimillion-dollar ransoms to the jihadists to secure the release of hostages, which provides funds for weapons to fight Algerian forces.

If the French, for all their war talk, end up buying the Areva captives’ freedom, Algeria, and possibly other regional states, will be incensed.

That could reverberate heavily against Sarkozy’s administration, which is seeking to reverse years of neglect by Paris of its former African colonies to ensure access to their mineral wealth, such as Niger’s uranium, vital to France’s growing nuclear industry.

National Guard helicopter crash in Rasht–(of course there were no militants involved)

Four persons killed, 3 injured in National Guard’s helicopter crash in Rasht


Author: Avaz Yuldoshev

DUSHANBE, October 6, 2010, Asia-Plus  — Four persons were killed and three others were injured today as a helicopter of the National Guard crashed in Rasht, according to the National Guard press service.

“The National Guard’s helicopter crashed in Kamarob Gorge in Rasht district today morning,” said the source, “All four crew members were killed and three technical personnel sustained various injuries in the crash.”

The crash was caused by technical reasons and is not connected with the events in the east of the country, the National Guard press service stressed, noting that a special commission has been set up to investigate the cause of the crash.

The National Guard command expresses its deepest condolences to families and friends of the crew members that were killed in the crash.

USAID Sowing the Seeds of Dissatisfaction In Tajikistan

[The democratic-revolutionary termites are sent forth to breed and spread their subversive ideas for implementing American ideology in the Tajik youth.  But all of you know that already.]

U.S. government develops social-science research


06.10.2010 12:28

Author: Nargis Hamroboyeva

DUSHANBE, October 6, 2010, Asia-Plus  — Ten Tajik social-science researchers returned from a U.S. Embassy sponsored three-week professional development program in Washington DC, implemented by the Agency for International Development (USAID), according to the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe.

The trip was part of USAID’s Community Connections exchange program which offers community-based, practical training in the United States for business and professional organization leaders from all regions of Tajikistan.

While in Washington, ten academics, policy analysts, and NGO leaders from across Tajikistan focused on practical methods of publishing research results.  In addition, they learned from their American counterparts how think tanks in the U.S. effectively advocate influencing public policy.  Tajik researchers visited and observed public, private and government think tanks and explored how public policy research can influence policy making bodies.  The participants learned how think tanks promote the interests of their communities, and investigated the impact of private funding on research outcomes.

The professional component of the program was enhanced by a rich cultural experience. Participants lived with American families and enjoyed visits to monuments, memorials and other points of interest in the Washington area.  Among the highlights was a tour of the News History Museum, and visits to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage Performance, the Smithsonian Museums, and the Phillips Collection museum of modern art.  The delegates also joined together for a day of volunteer work at Food for All, a Washington-based charity, distributing meals to those in need.

The delegation returned to Tajikistan on September 30 and met in Dushanbe to discuss how they might connect social-science research and policy making in Tajikistan.  And, naturally, they have also been busy sharing their experiences and impressions of the United States with colleagues and friends.  Qahramon Baqoyev from Zerkalo Sociological Research Center commented that he had already made three good connections for future collaboration.  And Vafo Niyatbekov mentioned that his Center for Strategic Research and the Carnegie Endowment are planning a conference in Tajikistan on think tanks either in November 2010 or March 2011.

The USAID Community Connections Program is one of the many assistance projects implemented in Tajikistan by the United States Agency for International Development on behalf of the American people. Since 1992, the American people, through the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, has provided approximately $900 million in assistance programs that support Tajikistan’s democratic institutions, health care, education, and economic growth.

Germany downplays terror threats announced in US, British travel alerts

Germany downplays terror threats announced in US, British travel alerts

Oktoberfest has been a potential target beforeOktoberfest has been a potential target before

The US media have extensively covered the US State Department’s travel alert for Europe, even naming specific targets in Berlin and Paris. But Germany says the threat of a terror attack is no higher than usual.

The US State Department issued a rare travel advisory to American citizens living and travelling in Europe on Sunday.

“Current information suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks [in Europe],” the alert on the State Department’s website said.

Great Britain quickly followed suit, issuing its own warning for travel in France and Germany specifically, and Japan made a similar announcement for all of Europe on Monday morning.

The US media have been quick to jump on the story, and reports have emerged listing specific targets and scenarios in European cities.

American media listed the Eiffel Tower as a potential targetAmerican media listed the Eiffel Tower as a potential target

US television broadcaster Fox News, citing intelligence sources, reported that the Brandenburg Gate, the notable television tower at Alexanderplatz, and the central train station were specific targets of potential terror attacks in Berlin. The Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris were also on the Fox News list as targets of a Mumbai-style attack.

No specific threat

But despite specific targets being mentioned, the interior ministry in Berlin sees no reason to increase Germany’s terror threat level and has said it will continue its current state of vigilance.

In a statement to reporters on Monday afternoon, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that although there continues to be a general “high abstract threat” of terrorism in Germany and other European countries, he warned against overreacting to the travel advisory and media reports.

“There are currently no indications of any immediate threat of attacks planned against Germany,” said de Maiziere. “There is no reason whatsoever to be alarmist at the moment.”

De Maiziere also said that the German targets specifically mentioned in media reports had been known as potential terror targets for some time, and that there was no new information regarding the vulnerability of these sites.

De Maiziere said there were no specific threats in GermanyDe Maiziere said there were no specific threats in Germany

Common sense abroad

The US State Department said that it was not advising citizens against travelling to Europe, but simply advising them to be “aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.”

In a teleconference with reporters on Sunday, US Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy said that “these are common sense precautions that people ought to take - don’t have lots of baggage tags on your luggage that directly identify you as an American, know how to use the pay telephone, know how to contact the American embassy if you need help.”

Oliver Bendixen, who has covered security and terror related topics for German broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk since the 1970s, says a general awareness abroad coincides with the general threat of a terror attack that exists.

“If you put your ear on countries like Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or India, you have threats like this nearly every day,” he told Deutsche Welle in an interview.

Germans capable of reacting

Last September, a video surfaced on the internet foreshadowing terror attacks around Germany’s federal elections. The man in the video was a German with ties to al Qaeda, and the specific threats included Munich’s Oktoberfest celebration and the Cologne Cathedral.

At that time, Bendixen said, German authorities had a specific threat to respond to and acted accordingly, beefing up security at airports, train stations, and large public gatherings like Oktoberfest. In this case, there have been no additional measures taken by German security forces because there is no specific threat to respond to, he added.

“There have been some conferences between the law enforcement agencies, and there was no reason to react in any way,” he said.

Information exchange between security forces of allied countries, such as Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States, is common. This communication was alluded to on the State Department’s website:

“Information is routinely shared between the US and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.”

Bendixen added that it was in the best interest of the US or Great Britain to share information with foreign authorities if there was a concrete threat against its citizens abroad.

Last year, a video attributed to al Qaeda threatened attacks

Last year, a video attributed to al Qaeda threatened attacks

Travelers’ reactions

Without a specific threat – and with no instructions from the US or Great Britain beyond vague warnings to increase vigilance – Bendixen asked what exactly a traveler abroad is supposed to do to avoid being targeted.

“Do you have to look behind you every 10 steps if someone is following you? Or do you have to look under the bed when you enter a hotel room?” he asked rhetorically. “You must use the airports. You have to go by train. There’s no chance to protect yourself. The warning is not followed by any real advice. For me, it’s a little stupid, to be honest.”

Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Nancy Isenson

Pakistan Demands $600 Million for Road Repairs, US Opts for Russian Supply Route

[If this report is correct then it may signal the beginning of the end for the US/Pakistani relationship, which would open the doors for any military action ordered by Petraeus.  It is no fun being right when it is about a bunch of impending death.  Sorry, Pakistan, I tried to warn you.]

US may opt for Russian route for Nato supplies

by Amir mir

LAHORE, Oct 05: As the Pakistani authorities have decided to claim approximately $600 million from the US-led Nato/Isaf forces stationed in Afghanistan as compensation charges for using the country’s extensive road network to transport food and military supplies to the war-torn Afghanistan, the Centcom has moved swiftly to open an alternate supply route to Afghanistan via Russia and Central Asia, bypassing the ambush-prone main supply routes through Pakistan.

The decision is set to hurt Pakistan in financial terms as Islamabad currently receives a huge reimbursement of economic and military services and logistic support provided to the United States. The high command of the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan had earlier warned Pakistan that its failure to prevent rising terrorist attacks targeting the Nato/Isaf supply trucks travelling to Afghanistan via Pakistan could force them abandoning Pakistan as a key supply route for transportation of food and military supplies. Since 2002, three-quarters of all the military equipment and food supplies for the US-led allied forces had been reaching Afghanistan via Pakistan. Before Islamabad decided to suspend the Nato/Isaf supplies last week in the wake of the allied forces’ incursions into the country’s tribal belt, almost 75 percent of the ammunition, vehicles, foodstuff and around 50 percent of fuel for the 140,000-strong international forces fighting against the Mulla Mohammad Omar-led Taliban militia in Afghanistan were being transported via Pakistan.

Well informed diplomatic sources in Islamabad say the Centcom’s decision to choose an alternate supply route to Afghanistan was prompted by Pakistan’s refusal to give a timeline for the resumption of the Nato supplies, which remain suspended at the country’s Torkham border with Afghanistan for a full week now. The US-led allied forces had earlier apologised to the Pakistani authorities over their Thursday’s cross-border helicopters attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers and injured three others. Reacting sharply, Pakistan blocked the main land route Khyber Pass at Torkham for Nato convoys carrying supplies to Afghanistan.

However, the suspension of the Nato/Isaf supplies was not the only action taken by the Pakistani authorities. According to diplomatic sources, the decision makers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad further decided to claim $600 million from Nato/Isaf forces as compensation charges for causing damage to Pakistan’s extensive road network while transporting food and military supplies to Afghanistan since 2002.

The Pakistani authorities have decided to bill the Americans while maintaining that the country is suffering a huge loss of around $83 million annually due to the Nato/Isaf freight truckloads that have badly damaged the national highways network, for the last seven years. They have further argued that the average damage caused by Nato/Isaf on main routes leading to Afghanistan, was 20 percent of the total expenditure incurred on the repair and maintenance of the road infrastructure by the National Highway Authority.
Nevertheless, while ignoring the Pakistan demand for payment of compensation charges, the Centcom high command has decided to open an alternate supply route to Afghanistan via Russia and central Asia.

The diplomatic sources say the alternate supply route starts in the Latvian port of Riga, the largest all-weather harbour on the Baltic Sea, where container ships offload their cargo onto Russian trains. The shipments roll south through Russia, then southeast around the Caspian Sea through Kazakhstan and finally south through Uzbekistan until they cross the frontier into north Afghanistan. The Russian train-lines were in fact built to supply Russia’s own war in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. It was actually in July 2010 that the Americans had finally convinced the Russians to let them use the said supply route. Previously Russia had only allowed the United States to ship non-lethal military supplies across its territory by train. The diplomatic circles say the development is important because it signals Russian willingness to indirectly support the US-led Nato/Isaf forces stationed in Afghanistan.

US may opt for Russian route for Nato supplies

March 14, Israel, US, Fear Ahmadinejad’s Upcoming Visit to Lebanon

March 14, Israel, US, Fear Ahmadinejad’s Upcoming Visit to Lebanon

Readers Number : 166

06/10/2010 The U.S. has raised concerns about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon next week. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that Iran is “undermining” Lebanon’s sovereignty through its association with groups like Hezbollah.

He said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised the issue with the Lebanese president. But Crowley said it’s up to the Lebanese government if Ahmadinejad makes the trip.

On Monday, diplomatic officials in Tel Aviv said that Lebanon, not Israel, would be the party to “suffer” most from Ahmadinejad’s scheduled visit next week to south Lebanon.

“Lebanon is the primary victim, and if it wants to stop slipping into the jaws of the Iranian crocodile, it – and the moderate Arab world – should raise a strong voice and say this provocateur is not welcome,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy said.
Israel has also considered the Iranian president’ upcoming visit, especially to the Bint Jbeil and Maroun el-Rass towns in south Lebanon close the the border with occupied Palestine, as a provocative step. The two towns witnessed some of the fiercest battles between the Islamic Resistance and Israeli occupation forces during the 2006 aggression on Lebanon.
Lebanon’s March 14 alliance voiced concern last week about the visit, saying Ahmedinejad regards Lebanon as “an Iranian base on the Mediterranean.”

US Wants Turkey to Cooperate against Hizbullah, Hamas, Qaida

US Wants Turkey to Cooperate against Hizbullah, Hamas, Qaida

Washington has asked Turkey to cooperate against Hizbullah, Hamas and al-Qaida, the Turkish newspaper Taraf reported Wednesday.
It said CIA officials, during a meeting with Turkey’s intelligence chief in Washington last month, asked for more cooperation “against terrorist organizations, namely al-Qaida.”

While the Turkish intelligence chief urged the CIA for more cooperation in combating PKK separates activity and close down its military camps in north Iraq, the CIA official called on Turkey to undertake a more active role in the fight against the spread of Hizbullah, Hamas and al-Qaida in Iraq.

Making An Example of Sombody To Revive Neo-Soviet Union

[Russian leaders are doing their best to reclaim their positions of authority in their former satellites, without offering anything in return.  Attempts to establish some sort of "Warsaw Pact II," without the actual tanks to back-up the power play, will fail.  There is little to no loyalty to socialism in the former socialist empire, so ideological appeals will not work.  Why should free governments look to Moscow's cheap imitations of "democracy" and capitalism when they can find the genuine articles in the West?  It seems pretty clear that Russia will have to make an example of someone, in order to reintroduce its military might into the equation in such a way that all of the former slave states fall in line with Putin's dictates.  In this chess match between Neo-Soviet expectations and their own economic reality, Putin and Medvedev will have to keep the military operation as small as possible.  A replay of the Georgian conflict will probably seem like the easiest choice, but other alternatives are possible because of American/Russian agreements on Afghanistan, which have made possible the large-scale movement of Soviet troops near Afghanistan.  It looks like a coin toss between Kyrgyzstan, which is now seeing a Russian build-up in the south, and Tajikistan, which has reportedly accepted Russian help hunting for the recently escaped militants.]

SOS-camp

174




Ukraine is experiencing an actual coup d’etat, and Belarus – the aggravation of relations with Russia. In Russia itself, the Sunday performance anti-BelarusianPresident (?) Medvedev paid much less attention than the fate of Yuri Luzhkov. But Western Europe is not up to the East. There’s now their anxiety. But it is the Europeans still backfire. And here’s why.

Tandemokraticheskaya Russia had a fight with everyone, including Lukashenko. The Russian ruling elite had high hopes for Yanukovych, but what seems she did not know. Ideally, she sees the relationship with Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, the other closest neighbors, if not such as the first part of the USSR, at least those that were in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries.

Focused on Western values and norms of politics, headed the neighboring countries for tandemocracy unacceptable. Whether business Lukashenko, who built the ideology of his regime on the basis of special Belarusian identity – not European, as the opposition, and the Russophile. Yanukovych has no ideology at all. He and his party patsanskie representation of the state and the complete lack of understanding of national development and public interest.

But it is full of Lukashenko received it failed, and the same will be from Yanukovych. And the reason is very simple. Socio-political structure of the Warsaw Pact tank was socialism. The only source of reserves and the guarantor of the communist regimes in these countries was the Soviet Union and its military presence. Even a clever rascal Ceausescu, all strove to show independence, could not resist, when it became clear that Moscow does not intend to interfere in the affairs of the satellite countries.

The Kremlin did not understand that politicians in the former Soviet republics, even if they are focused on Moscow and enjoyed her support, relations with Russia are not as critical as the relationship with its own population. The source of their power inside the country, as it was in 1945 at the Marshal Tito and the 1949-th of Chairman Mao. But one soon fell out with Stalin, and the other for a long time the Soviet Union led by the nose and enjoyed his attention.

Just as the problems of the former Warsaw Pact countries and posttitovskoy Yugoslavia solve, Europeans and Americans without much active participation of Russia and the inevitable consequence of the authoritarian regimes in Ukraine and Belarus will be requests for assistance addressed to Western Europe and the United States, and not to Russia . Because only Russia can not guarantee the national sovereignty.

And ask for help can be present rulers, who were not going and do not intend to share power with Moscow. To offer Russia in exchange for nothing.
And this appeal once again become a complete surprise to the West.


Moscow is Alienating More than Minsk, Russian Analysts Say

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 5 – The war of words between Dmitry Medvedev and Alyaksandr Lukashenka is more than just the product of tensions between Moscow and Minsk, Russian analysts say. Instead, it is part of a broader and growing alienation between the Russian Federation and the former Soviet republics, one that has its roots in clashing visions of the future.

But both because of the West’s hostility to Lukashenka and his regime, one usually labeled “the last dictatorship in Europe,” and because of the West’s desire to curry favor with Moscow in pursuit of one or another goal, this general trend, widely noted by commentators in the region, has been largely ignored, let alone exploited, by Europe or the United States.

The clearest expression of this argument can be found in a commentary on Grani.ru yesterday. In it, Dmitry Shusharin, a regular writer for that portal, points out that the exchange of angry words between Medvedev and Lukashenka is part Moscow’s current propensity to be angry with all leaders of the post-Soviet states (grani.ru/blogs/free/entries/182276.html).

Russia’s “tandemocracy,” he says,m had placed “great hopes” on new Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, but exactly what these would in fact look like is something that Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, along with the rest of the Russian powers that be, clearly “did not themselves know” at least in any specific detail.

“In an ideal outcome,” the Russian leaders “see relations with Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and the other nearby neighbors if not as they were before in the USSR then as like those which the Soviet Union had with the countries of the Warsaw Pact,” a vision that they and others should have understood was not going to be realized.

For Medvedev and Putin, the orientation of the leaders of these states “toward Western values and norms of politics” is completely “unacceptable,” Shusharin says. That is why they placed such hopes on Lukashenka, whose ideology is a Russophile form of Belarusian identity, and on Yanukovich who “does not have any ideology” at all.

But now the Moscow leaders have been rejected by the first, and soon, they are likely to be rejected by the second as well, the commentator continues, an outcome Medvedev and Putin would have anticipated if they had remembered the real basis of the Warsaw Pact rather than the idealized version of it in which they apparently believe.

That military organization, led by Moscow, “was tank socialism” — that is, Shusharin continues, “the single source, reserve and guarantee of the communist regimes in these countries was the Soviet Union and its military presence.” When that disappeared so too did the Warsaw Pact.

But even before the events of the late 1980s, Shusharin points out, those leaders who had alternative sources of power like Yugoslavia’s Tito and China’s Mao Zedong could act independently. The only difference was that the first broke with Moscow early on while the second “for a long time led the Soviet Union by the nose and used its assistance.”

Those experiences, Shusharin suggests, should serve as a lesson to Moscow but Russian leaders have not assimilated them. Moscow doesn’t understand that “for the politicians in the former Soviet republics — even if they are oriented toward Moscow and make use of its support — relations with Russia are not as critical as relations with their own populations,” “the source of their power within [their] countries.”

Just as Western Europe and the United States dealt with the problems of the former Warsaw Pact countries and post-Tito Yugoslavia “without the particularly active participation of Russia, Shusharin says, so now “the authoritarian regimes in Ukraine and Belarus” will eventually ask for help from “Western Europe and the US, not Russia.”

The reason that is so, he argues, is that Russia “does not guarantee [their] national sovereignty.” Instead, its leaders act as if the former Soviet republics are not full-fledged independent countries but rather something less than that, places where Russia must enjoy greater deference and influence than any of them want to offer.

The current leaders of these countries “do not intend to divide power with Moscow,” and they are very much aware that is what the Russian powers that be want. Consequently, sooner than many may expect, they will turn to Western countries, something that “again will be something completely unexpected” for the latter.

German Interior Minister Questions Instant I.D. of Militants Killed In Remote Location

Berlin cautious about reports of killed German militant Islamists

Oct 6, 2010, 9:32 GMT

Berlin – German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday that he could not yet confirm reports that eight German militant Islamists had been killed by a US drone attack at the start of the week.

‘I am very surprised that this attack allegedly took place the day before yesterday, in an inaccessible area, by unmanned drones, and, at the same time, identification documents were found,’ de Maiziere said in a radio interview.

‘Not all of this make sense. We still need to clarify things,’ the minister told Deutschlandfunk radio.

In recent days, de Maiziere has stressed that Germany faces no increased danger of imminent attacks by militant Islamists. In the interview, he added that such a threat was ‘hypothetical.’

However, the minister said there were ‘several indications’ from independent sources about extremist activity in the Pakistani border region, adding that an increasing number of people were travelling between Germany and the area.

‘We don’t know all of them, we know many of them. We have also prevented much of this travel. Some return frustrated, some return trained – whatever that means. We have an eye on all this,’ the minister said.

Late Monday, a pilotless US aircraft fired two missiles at a house in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border. Of the eight people reported killed, five were allegedly German converts to Islam and three were identified locally as Germans of Turkish origin.

The German Foreign Ministry has so far declined to comment on the attack, stressing that they had ‘no reliable information’ on Monday’s events.

Thailand court delays US extradition of suspected Russia arms dealer Indefinitely

Thailand court delays US extradition of suspected Russia arms dealer

Carrie Schimizzi at 8:05 AM ET

Photo source or description

[JURIST] The Bangkok Criminal Court decided Monday not to drop additional charges against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], further delaying his extradition to the US. The court denied US and Thai requests to drop the charges of money laundering and fraud against Bout and will launch new legal proceedings [BBC report], which will delay his extradition indefinitely. The additional charges [indictment, PDF] were filed by US prosecutors in February, before a Thai appeals court ruled [JURIST report] in August that Bout could be extradited to the US to face charges including conspiracy to kill US nationals and conspiracy to provide material support to a proscribed terrorist group. According to the appeals court ruling, Bout must be extradited to the US within three months or be released from Thai custody. If the new legal proceedings continue, the court order may expire and the extradition process will have to start all over again. The criminal court will make a decision on Tuesday as to whether Bout can be extradited on these additional charges.Last week, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva [official website, in Thai; BBC profile] said that, although the case must work its way through the court system, he will make the final decision [AFP report] as to whether Bout will be extradited to the US. The August appeals court decision overturned a 2009 decision by the Bangkok Criminal Court, refusing to extradite [JURIST report] Bout on the basis that the accusations made by the US were not cognizable under Thai law. The appeals court ruled that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], the group Bout is accused of supporting, is acognizable terrorist group [Guardian report] under Thai law and that Thailand is obligated to honor its extradition treaties with the US. Lawyers for Bout argued that his safety would be in jeopardy in the US and that he would be unable to receive a fair trial. They have also indicated that they will continue fighting Bout’s extradition by filing an appeal with the Thai government.

Russia demands justice in alleged arms dealer’s case

Russia demands justice in alleged arms dealer’s case

Topic: Viktor Bout case

Bout’s Thai lawyer, Lak Nitivat, said he would appeal the court decision, which turns down the second U.S. extradition request.
© AFP/ Nicolas Asfouri

Russia called on Thai authorities to show an “unbiased approach” to the case of alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, whom the United States wants extradited and Moscow wants repatriated.

The second set of U.S. charges against the Russian national was dropped on Tuesday. The decision brings the so-called Merchant of Deathone step closer to extradition on an earlier U.S. request.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late on Tuesday that a decision on Bout’s extradition should be in line with the country’s legislation and evidence submitted to the court.

“Bout’s lawyers have closely studied the documents; we are also familiar with their contents and consider the evidence [against Bout] absolutely inappropriate,” he said.

The Russian minister earlier slammed the previous court ruling, which ordered Bout’s extradition to the United States, as “unlawful,” having been made “under outside pressure.”

Russian Foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the Bout case was “paradoxical.”

“The Thai authorities keep in prison the Russian national, who in fact was twice found not guilty by a Thai court. Bout still faces extradition to the United States,” he said.

“There are no legal norms to justify such moves by Thai authorities,” the statement reads. “This blatant injustice is explained by outside pressure being exerted on Bangkok officials.”

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department said the U.S. was looking forward “to having Viktor Bout in a prison near us very soon.”

“I believe, actually, there is a mandatory kind of waiting period,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told a daily press briefing. “But we believe after this mandatory period under Thai law, we look forward to a speedy extradition of Viktor Bout to the United States.”

“The Thai Government is very well aware of our views on this case,” he added.

Bout, 44, was arrested in March 2008 at the request of the United States. Bout claims he has never been involved in the arms trade and that there was no evidence of his involvement in the business.

The Bangkok Criminal Court refused last August to extradite him to the United States, where he is facing four terrorism-related charges and a possible life sentence.

The court explained that the U.S. request was turned down due to a lack of evidence and because the case was politically motivated. However, the United States appealed the ruling denying the extradition and filed new charges against him.

Bout’s extradition to the United States was ordered by the Thai appeals court, which has a supreme authority on the issue, on August 20.

Sirisak Tiyapan, executive director of the Office of the Attorney-General’s (OAG) International Affairs department said on the national TV that if the U.S. does not appeal the court ruling, Bout’s extradition may take place “very soon.”

“The prosecutors lost the second case. However, there are currently no obstacles for Bout’s extradition to the U.S. We will do our best to speed up the process,” he said.

Bout’s Thai lawyer, Lak Nitivat, said he would appeal the court decision, which turns down the second U.S. extradition request.

“I will protest against the wording in the court ruling,” he said. “I will seek to review the case… The present court ruling infringes my defendant’s interests,” the lawyer added.

Experts say the move is to stall Bout’s extradition, which must be carried out within three months after the announcement of the sentence. The deadline is November 20.

BANGKOK, October 6 (RIA Novosti)

Taliban blow up NATO tankers to avenge drone attacks

Suspected Taliban gunmen Wednesday set fire to NATO oil tankers in Pakistan for the fourth time in a week in an attack the Islamic extremist group claimed as revenge for deadly US drone attacks.

A Pakistani firefighter walks past burning NATO supply oil tankers following an attack in Quetta on October 6, 2010. One person was killed when at least 10 NATO oil tankers were set ablaza, senior police officials said — the fourth such attack in six days.

The militants opened fire on a depot housing 40 tankers on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta, killing a member of staff and destroying at least 10 vehicles, police official Hamid Shakeel told AFP.

Taliban militants claimed the Quetta attack and other raids this week in which nearly 60 trucks were torched and three people died.

They vowed more attacks to disrupt NATO’s supply route through Pakistan and to avenge a new wave of US drone strikes targetting Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants linked to alleged terror plots against European cities.

“We claim responsibility for attacking and torching NATO tankers in Quetta today,” Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told AFP. “We will further intensify attacks with the intensification of US drone strikes on us.”

The United States has massively increased its drone campaign in Pakistan’s lawless northwest tribal region on the Afghan border, which it calls the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and is a hub of militants fighting in Afghanistan.

Proposed Congress of peoples of Daghestan could prove explosive

Proposed Congress of peoples of Daghestan could prove explosive

Proposed Congress of peoples of Daghestan could prove explosive Daghestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov has called for the convention of a congress of peoples of his republic in order to consolidate society against extremism

Paul Goble

Daghestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov has called for the convention of a congress of peoples of his republic in order to consolidate society against extremism, but many fear this will be only a public relations stunt and some are concerned that it could prove explosive, given the high level of tensions there.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29 Magomedov called for the organization of a congress of all the peoples of Daghestan, modeled on the one his father who preceded him as president held, in order to “show the true attitude of Daghestanis to the criminal activity of the extremist underground and condemn terrorism”.

But condemning extremism in and of itself is not enough, the Daghestani leader said, arguing that “this Congress must serve as an impulse to the consolidation of society and of all healthy forces in the republic … and mark the beginning of an all-Daghestani dialogue about the future of Daghestan.”

Both those possibilities, however, have prompted some in that increasingly unstable North Caucasus republic to question the utility of such a meeting, even though, as a survey of opinion there by the Kavkaz-uzel.ru portal makes clear, Magomedov can count on the support of his own bureaucracy if not on the backing of others.

Gadzhimet Safaraliyev, who represents Daghestan in the Duma, said that he believes the measure would play “a positive role in the life of the republic,” all the more so because “the president of Daghestan … told me that he needs people who will speak the truth at the congress however bitter that truth might be.”

Akhmed Azizov, a deputy of the republic’s Popular Assembly, agreed and said that among those who should be invited would be “moderate Salafites” [those who advocate “pure” Islam against the Sufi traditions of the republic] because “now the time has come for open dialogues” not just with those who support the powers that be but also with those who oppose it.

And Akhmed Azimov, the chairman of the executive committee of the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus as well as an advisor to the leadership of the Council of Muftis of Russia (SMR), also supported the idea, arguing that if those who take part are prepared to speak “the truth in every case,” that could help “restore order and justice.”

He suggested that “today, Daghestan is at the edge of the abyss and needs an open conversation with the participation of genuinely authoritative personalities.” To that end, he suggested, the congress must include “representatives of all strata of the population, including Daghestanis living beyond the borders of the republic.”

But Isalmagomed Nabiyev, the head of the independent drivers and entrepreneurs union, expressed skepticism, noting that such meetings had been tried before without success, were bureaucratic exercises and did not offer any real possibility for a breakthrough. Indeed, he said, after Magomedov’s father held one, the situation got “much worse.”
Nabiyev said that the fight against terrorism and corruption should not be presented as “the work of one day” but rather must become “part of the routine” over a long period of time. Holding meetings is fine, but unless the actions of the powers that be change, nothing will be improved.

Zaur Cherilov, a Makhachkala resident with whom Kavkaz-uzel.ru spoke, also opposed the idea of the meeting. He said that he had never encountered terrorism but “on the other hand, each day I see incompetence, corruption, and the clanic quality of the bureaucrats, their triumph, the arbitrariness of the siloviki, the death of young people, and the collapse of infrastructure.”

As for himself, Cherilov said, “it would be funny to see on the tribune of [such a] congress a corrupt and incompetent bureaucrat who will call all of us to the struggle with terrorism as if we were in equal circumstances.” If that happens, it could easily make the situation worse.

Just how angry Daghestanis are was highlighted on Thursday, Sept.30 when approximately 100 people assembled there to protest against state terrorism in the republic, including cases of kidnapping by official forces.

The meeting called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to take steps to protect the rights of Daghestanis as “Russian citizens” and pointedly warned that this week’s meeting is “only the beginning” because “we will no longer put up with the illegality and ignoring of our rights. Our patience is at an end and it is better that you understand that.”

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia, he can be contacted directly at paul.goble@gmail.com. You can read all his blog entries athttp://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/

Al Qaeda has failed to redirect Chechen movement away from nationalism

Al Qaeda has failed to redirect Chechen movement away from nationalism

Expert:Al Qaeda has failed to redirect Chechen movement away from nationalismAs many observers have pointed out, the tensions within the Caucasus Emirate have their roots in money problems, but Shcheglovin says that it is important to understand why the Emirate has these problems.

Paul Goble

Recent events in the North Caucasus show, a Moscow expert says, that attempts by Al Qaeda to subordinate the Chechen national movement to a radical Islamist agenda have failed but that the influence of its representatives in Daghestan and Ingushetia remains strong, suggesting that even more violent terrorist attacks will emanate from there.

Shcheglovin of the Moscow Near East Institute arguesthat the recent criticism by the Caucasus Emirate’s head Doku Umarov of the Saudi representative Moganned “in fact marks the end of attempts of the worldwide ‘green international to subordinate the national separatist movement in Chechnya”.

As many observers have pointed out, the tensions within the Caucasus Emirate have their roots in money problems, but Shcheglovin says that it is important to understand why the Emirate has these problems. If one considers that issue, he suggests, it becomes obvious that Al Qaeda and its financial backers have shifted their focus.

That requires an understanding both of events in the North Caucasus and of changes in the agenda of the “green” international. Moganned, the object of Umarov’s wrath, is Al Qaeda’s representative in the region. He replaced the late Abu Haf, one of the Arabs who came to Chechnya earlier.

Such “emissaries” of the radical Islamist group, Shcheglovin continues, first came there “with the concrete goal of ‘taking control’ of the separatist movement as a whole and giving it a religious-ideological character and not in any case a purely nationalistic one,” as had been the case with the Chechen movement since the early 1990s.

To that end, the Arab representatives pushed for terrorist attacks outside of the region and the organization of suicide bomber units, but they also served as “political commissars” of the movement, seeking to direct the anti-Moscow movements in an Islamist direction, as those in Saudi Arabia providing the money wanted.

Shcheglovin says that the same thing is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq, an indication that the world has to do with “a system set up by far from poor or stupid people,” one that operates on its own without the need so many Russian and other commentators feel to refer to the CIA and Wall Street.

In the early 2000s, this system focused on the North Caucasus because Al Qaeda and its backers thought that was a place for a breakthrough in their conflict with the non-Muslim world. “But with the rise of rise of Iraq and Afghanistan,” Shcheglovin continues, “the situation changed in a cardinal way.”

Al Qaeda and the Saudis “redirected their financial flows and recruits,” and that in turn “immediately had an impact on the situation in the North Caucasus,” a region that in the view of these people was now of only “peripheral” importance.” Given the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, “weakening Russia” was no longer a task of first importance.

That shift in the views of the Islamists, the Moscow analyst says, was first highlighted in the statements of the Saudis about “a multi-polar world” and the end of fetwas like the ones that its religious scholars had issued. Indeed, the more recent fetwas from there became “acceptable for Moscow in tone and meaning.”
Not surprisingly, Umarov continued to hope for getting such funding back, and his recent statements and actions, including his brief “resignation” and his attacks on Moganned, are all about that. But they reflect the deeper division between the Chechens who have nationalist goals and the Arab emissaries who reject such projects.

Arab influence among the Chechens began to fall and “the purely national began to win” with the deaths of Yandarbiyev and Basayev, on the one hand, and the appearance of Kadyrov and Maskhadov on the other. And that trend was reinforced by Chechen antagonism to the Arab “outsiders” who viewed the Chechens in many cases as little more than “pagans.”

As Arab financing declined, the Chechen militants sought to organize their own financing just as they had done earlier, not only compelling “contributions” domestically but also seeking money from abroad. Neither of these sources included many who backed the ideas of jihad and universal war.

But if that is the situation in Chechnya and among the Chechen militants now, Shcheglovin argues, “unfortunately, one cannot say the same about Ingushetia and Daghestan.” There, the influence of the Islamists remains strong as shown by the terrorist attack on the Moscow metro which Daghestanis conducted without the knowledge of Umarov.

And in Chechnya itself, “in our opinion,” Shcheglovin says, “the recent suicidal raid on Tsentoroy [Kadyrov’s home village] also was carried out by supporters of Moganned or under his direct influence” rather than by the Chechen militants. That is because, the Moscow analyst suggest, “he needs actions” in order to get financing.

This shift within the anti-Moscow forces, he says, is important because, unlike what many analysts argue, it points to a change in the kind of attacks the militants are likely to launch. Moganned is certain to push for even “bloodier” attacks, something he may increasingly organize from Daghestan or Ingushetia rather than Chechnya itself.

What Shcheglovin doesn’t say but what many of his readers in Moscow may conclude is that this shift in the pattern of Al Qaeda funding and influence may have more to do with the relative stability in Chechnya compared to other North Caucasus republics than the actions of Ramzan Kadyrov.

And if officials in Moscow reach that conclusion, one of the major reasons why the powers that be in the Russian Federation have felt that they cannot dispense with him, however many problems he causes, will disappear or at least decline in significance, something that could lead some at the center to consider more actively his replacement.

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia, he can be contacted directly at paul.goble@gmail.com. You can read all his blog entries athttp://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/

Ukrainian Constitutional Court Reverses Orange Revolution

Changes To Ukraine Constitution Roll Country Back To 1996 Status

KIEV, Ukraine — Changes were made to the Ukrainian Constitution on Friday that make the president the dominant power and throw the country into legal uncertainty.

The Ukrainian Constitutional Court annulled the 2004 changes to the constitution, and turned the country back to its constitutional state in 1996.
The Ukrainian Constitutional Court annulled parts of the constitution introduced in 2004 to expand Parliament’s rights.

The recent decision buried amendments made to Ukrainian law during the Orange Revolution in December 2004, to narrow the president’s power and take pro-West Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency.

While the changes were adopted, tens of thousands of people protested in the streets of Kyiv over presidential election results that announced Viktor Yanukovych as the victor, and what were highlighted by mass fraud.

There was concern that authorities would use force to quell demonstrations.

Parliament’s changes to the constitution have made Ukraine into a parliamentary republic, and allowed for a third round of elections which led to Yushchenko’s presidency.

The amendments gave Parliament the power to approve key positions including the prime minister, foreign minister, and general prosecutor with the president’s recommendation.

The court said the 2004 changes were unconstitutional, as parliament violated procedures in their examination and adoption.

The recent decision has returned Ukraine to its 1996 constitution and renews the president’s power in the country. The ruling was initiated over the summer by 252 deputies from a pro-Yanukovych parliamentary governing coalition.

Former Orange Revolution leaders tried to make a similar shift after coming to power, but failed due to a lack of political support.

“[The changes] have made the government unbalanced and laid many political ‘bombs’ on the road toward reforms,” the third Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko said in a translated statement.

“I felt that every day as president and all my initiatives were smashed by the irresponsibility and insufficiency of authorities,” he added.

The 2004 changes often caused disagreements between the president, primer minister, and Parliament, which led to periodical political tensions and left Ukraine stagnating on the way to carrying out reforms.

The recent court ruling follows a shift in judges at the Constitutional Court, in favor of Yanukovych.

After Russia-leaning Yanukovych took office in February, the court supported him by allowing him to form a governing parliamentary coalition by allowing deputies to join individually.

Traditionally, only factions or parties could join together to form a minority or ruling coalition.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko criticized Yanukovych of being stubborn and set on boosting his authority in the country, rather than implementing political and economic reforms.

“The authorities still only pursue concentrating their power, while the discussion of reforms remain but discussions,” he said.

Political camps, lawyers, and analysts in Ukraine agree that the 2004 changes were adopted with serious violations, but say the court’s decision makes all governing systems in the country fragile, because all appointments, laws, and changes were made due to the 2004 constitution.

Analysts say that the question of whether Yanukovych will centralize his power in the country remains open and uncertain.

Press freedom has declined sharply in Ukraine since Pro-Russia Yanukovych assumed power earlier this year. Journalists complain that the government has become less responsive.

The opposition quickly responded to the court ruling by accusing Yanukovych of building a dictatorship in Ukraine and calling for unscheduled presidential and parliamentary elections. It also called on the constitutional judges to resign.

“The conclusion can be only the following: the president, Parliament, and the government—they must all be re-elected in urgent presidential and parliamentary elections,” former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said in a translated statement.

Authorities are unlikely to follow the suggestions, however, as they say they will implement any decision by the Constitutional Court, and will use all means to shoulder reforms in the country.

“All governmental bodies and all officials remain legitimate and carry out their duties during the period they were elected or appointed,” Justice Minister Alexander Lavrinovich said on Ukrainian TV station, Inter, translated from Ukrainian.

Lavrinovich added, “So speaking about unscheduled presidential or parliamentary elections it is a fantasy and desire.”

Source: The Epoch Times

Neo-Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic?

State lawsuit threatens nation’s largest investor

State lawsuit threatens nation’s largest investorChristophe Cornier (left), member of the ArcelorMittal group management board

Graham Stack

Another Ukrainian court seems set to turn the clocks back, this time threatening a landmark 5-year old privatization deal that brought the government $4.8 billion in the cleanest auction of government assets ever held.

The general prosecutor is bringing a lawsuit in Kyiv Economic Court against the country’s largest steel plant, ArcelorMittal Kryvyy Rih, which is owned by the country’s largest foreign investor. Steel is Ukraine’s top export.

The litigation follows the Oct. 1 decision by the Constitutional Court to cancel changes to the Constitution agreed to six years ago in 2004, paving the way for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to seize even more presidential powers to control government appointments.

Now, with many of Kuchma’s people returning to office following the Feb. 7 election of Yanukovych, a lawsuit brought by the prosecutor general against the ArcelorMittal plant could see the 2005 privatization reversed, and the company returned to the state.

This time, the 2005 privatization of the huge Kryvyy Rih plant in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast is in play. Its sale to Indian tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’s steel company, for $4.8 billion plus large-scale investment commitments, was the high point in the otherwise disappointing presidency of former President Viktor Yushchenko.

The lucrative privatization was all the more celebrated because it followed an earlier rigged privatization of the same company that had seen it go to oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, son-in-law of ex-President Leonid Kuchma, and billionaire Rinat Akhmetov for only $800 million.

Now, with many of Kuchma’s people returning to office following the Feb. 7 election of Yanukovych, a lawsuit brought by the prosecutor general against the ArcelorMittal plant could see the 2005 privatization reversed, and the company returned to the state.

A top ArcelorMittal executive, Christophe Cornier, said that the first hearing in the case on Oct. 1 was more disappointing than even the company’s worst expectations.


Kryvorizhstal steel mill in Kryvyy Rih

“We are taking this very seriously,” said Cornier, a 25- year veteran of the company flown in from London to confront the emergency situation. “We paid $4.8 billion for this plant, and put $500 million worth of capital expenditures into it. We feel it is a very good plant and we don’t want to lose it.”

“But it is very difficult to assess what the outcome will be,” acknowledged Cornier, who said he will be meeting with German and French ambassadors in Kyiv. “We are outside the boundaries of a normal law and order situation.”

The steel plant is a defendant along with Ukraine’s State Property Fund. Prosecutors are disputing a 2009 agreement between ArcelorMittal and the State Property Fund that declared a force majeure – an emergency situation — in view of the global economic crisis that caused steel prices to plummet. The deal allowed the steel plant to postpone investment commitments made under the terms of the original share purchase agreement of 2005.

“The dispute is that the addendum is not legal because it was not signed by the Cabinet of Ministers,” Cornier said. “But when you look at the original share purchase agreement [of 2005], it is written nowhere that it has to be signed by the cabinet.”

Furthermore, according to Cornier, the plant’s shareholder, ArcelorMittal Duisburg GmbH, has not been informed of the lawsuit, an apparent breach of the law.

And thirdly, according to Cornier, both the original share purchase agreement and the additional agreement of 2009 specify the International Commercial Arbitration Court at the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the place of jurisdiction for all disputes. The court is a non-state independent arbitrage court.

But on Oct. 1, the first hearing in the lawsuit took place at Kyiv Economic Court with presiding judge Oleh Khrypun dismissing claims the court had no right to hear the case.

“Normally the justice system in Ukraine is not as fast as one would expect it, but this time it is proving to be fantastically fast.”

- Christophe Cornier, top ArcelorMittal executive

“This is very strange. I have never heard before that a judge from the Economic Court handles a case stipulated for the” International Commercial Arbitration Court, said Yevdokia Paschenko, vice president of the court. Khrypun was only named to preside over the case one day before the hearing, replacing the original judge.

“If you see the pile of paper regarding the case he had to get through,” Cornier said. “I doubt if it was possible for him to have read much of it, even if he did not sleep.”

According to Cornier, Khrypun then showed that he wanted to proceed with the case at top speed. He ignored or rejected all the defendants’ petitions and scheduled the second hearing for Oct. 5, a gap of only one working day between the first and second hearing.

“Normally the justice system in Ukraine is not as fast as one would expect it, but this time it is proving to be fantastically fast,” Cornier said.

Khrypun has previously aroused controversy over his handling of cases, most recently a lawsuit of Transbank against Ukrainian TV channel Tonis in August. “This seemed to us more like a raider attack than a fair hearing,” said Larissa Rudenok, head of Tonis legal department. Khrypun has denied any irregularities in his rulings on the case.

All of this fills ArcelorMittal with a sense of foreboding as the five-year anniversary of the privatization auction approaches.
“If the general prosecutor wins the case, then they go back to the previous agreement and they say that you have not fulfilled your investment commitments, which would be true, because they were suspended during the force majeure,” Cornier said. “Then he would say that because you have not fulfilled your investment, the sale is invalid, and the shares are returned to the state.”

Such a prospect may threaten ArcelorMittal’s entire investment.

“I doubt we would see our money back. I don’t see the country is rich enough to give us back $4.8 billion, when they are not capable of returning our VAT [value-added tax], and when by the end of this year we will have paid three years corporate tax in advance.” said Cornier.

Cornier said ArcelorMittal had received no offers for the company, nor knew of anyone trying to acquire it, nor does it want to sell. “It is not the ArcelorMittal style to sell,” he said.

But he said he did not believe the pressure on the company was coming directly from the government.

“Yanukovych seems to travel a lot these days. every week he is in a different foreign country, and every time they claim Ukraine is friendly to investors and transparent, and they will restart the privatization campaign. I cannot imagine that they can say that and then do this. So maybe this is not coming from the top,” Cornier said. “I think Yanukovych is not aware of the situation.”

The Kryvyh Rih plant’s new chief executive officer, Rinat Starkov, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying he believed an attempt was under way to return the company’s shares to the state. Starkov said business interests, not the government, were behind the move.

The Prosecutor General’s lawsuit is not the only problem suddenly confronting the company, a fact that adds to the impression there is an organized campaign under way. The Security Service of Ukraine, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB, is currently investigating the company after the state Customs Service brought criminal charges allegation that the value of coal imports were under-declared.

In November 2009, Alexei Pertin, chief executive officer of Smart Holding, owned by Russian-born oligarch Vadim Novinsky, told Kommersant Ukraine newspaper that his company wanted the plant returned to the state because of its failure to meet investment commitments.

In the privatization of 2005, Smart Holdings came in third place behind the then-separate companies of Arcelor and Mittal. According to Pertin, if Arcelor and Mittal reneged on the investment commitments regarding the Kryvyh Rih plant, this would give Smart Holdings a claim to the company.

Cornier said he had not heard of Smart Holding’s claims. He also said ArcelorMittal had satisfactory relations with Akhmetov, the Ukrainian steel tycoon who owns mining and metals giant Metinvest. Smart Holding holds a 25 per cent stake in Metinvest.

The Prosecutor General’s lawsuit is not the only problem suddenly confronting the company, a fact that adds to the impression there is an organized campaign under way. The Security Service of Ukraine, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB, is currently investigating the company after the state Customs Service brought criminal charges allegation that the value of coal imports were under-declared.

“The customs service have suddenly declared that the real value of our coal imports should be $360 per ton, when you only have to open a newspaper to see that the price is $200,” Cornier said.

Trade union representatives at the plant have also raised their voices, accusing company management of failing to fulfill a collective agreement signed in 2009. Cornier played down the topic, saying: “Everyone has trade union issues, and we fulfilled 99 percent of the agreement.”

Cornier said recent developments could cause the company to rethink its plans to expand into coal mining in Ukraine and to complete a plant for processing oxidized iron ore at Kirovohrad. “Mr. Mittal is a little upset,” he said of the response of ArcelorMittal’s Indian owner and chief executive officer.

“We like our plant. We like the country. It is a good place to make steel. There is good iron ore, and skilled people,” Cornier said. “But we don’t see our Ukrainian competitors having problems with the prosecutor general.”

Kyiv Post staff writer Graham Stack can be reached at stack@kyivpost.com