200 Journalists Fired To Prevent Freedom of the Press In Pakistan

News that channels never break

by Adnan Farooq

Freemasonry of zealots cries hoarse if ever the state announces subsidy to bail out a public sector institution such as the Pakistan Railways. Stays silent on Rs 300m bribe to media barons as 200 journalists fired!

The Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, issued a cheaque for Rs300 million to the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) on March 24, using his discretionary powers.

By any standards and by any definition, PM Gilani’s largesse constitutes a public bribe lock, stock and barrel. Neither the independent media nor the independent judiciary has taken any notice.

All are silent: Self-righteous politicians like Imran Khan, moral brigades decorating talk shows, Media Mujahideen, and anti-corruption anchor-persons.

The official loose cannon Ms. Firdous Ashiq Awan says the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) would decide how to utilise this ‘aid’ aimed at bailing out struggling media industry (Express Tribune March 26).

The above-mentioned freemasonry of zealots, however, cries hoarse if ever the state announces subsidy to bail out a public sector institution such as the Pakistan Railways, WAPDA, or PIA.

But this is not a one-time chance occurrence. Violation of the Wage Board Award is an ongoing scandal. Retrenchments, delayed wages, contractual labour, sexual harassment, and bosses’ corruption has become hallmark of mainstream media practices.

The details below offer mere a tip of the iceberg:

1.       In the last two months at least 200 workers have been fired from different newspapers and TV channels

2.       Geo has fired over 100 journalists

3.       ARY fired 12 staffers and has not paid salaries for the last two months

4.       Such TV recently fired 7 staff members

5.       TV channel News One has not paid salaries for 5 months now

6.       Indus TV staffers have not received salaries for  5 months now

7.       Daily Times has not paid wages for months. For last three years, wages have not been paid timely at the DT. Similarly, Business Plus staff has not been paid salaries for three months

8.       Daily Pakistan Today, launched a year ago from Lahore by Arif Nizami, has not paid wages for three months. It recently fired four staffers

9.       Aaj TV is either not paying the wages or has been delaying the payments. The Aaj Karachi staffers have recently launched a campaign for the payment of arrears.

10.   Three English-language channels: Dawn, Express, and Geo went off air in the last two-to-three years. The staff rendered jobless, by and large, was neither accommodated in the sister organisations nor offered any compensation.

11.   Khabrain group’s most outlets are either not paying the wages or delaying. A Khabrain Group staffer three years ago committed suicide. He was not paid wages for months and being his family’s sole bread-winner, he resorted to suicide as the last resort.

12.   Daily Maqadma, Karachi, fired 6 journalists

The Express Tribune reports Prime Minister Gilani also approved Rs350 million grant, last year, through a ‘one-time’ suspension of rules and regulations in the established process. The report says: “However, the information ministry and the Pakistan Information Department staff refused to be part of the illegal process and when the bills were submitted, the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) returned them. The AGPR had clarified in its objections that the process of payments of millions of rupees was illegal and suspicious…the disputed bills belong to the period between July 2000 and June 2008 and the federal government had allocated funds twice to clear dues but the parties claiming them could not provide original documents even once to substantiate their claims”.

To its credit, the Express Triune not merely editorialized protest against this grant but has consistently reported it.  It also reported a statement by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) calling to link this grant with the implementation of the Wage Board Award.

Meantime, the APNS President Hameed Haroon has said that funds released by the prime minster would be used to bail out small newspapers and save advertising agencies that are defaulting (Tribune March 26). This is an incredible ruse.

Second-tear media outlets often prove even big exploiters. Zulfiqar Rajpar, a member of the Karachi Union of Journalist, was fired last February from the daily Awami Awaz. Rajpar told the Viewpoint that he would go on hunger strike. He says he was not even served a notice. Serving a notice is not a practice any more since the journalists are not issued any appointment letters at all. To twist the long arm of the law, even mainstream newspapers employ journalists on the rolls of ghost firms.

PS: Recently Skype sent its merchandised items as gifts to French media outlets. These are politely returned since these gifts could be construed as bribe.

Adnan Farooq has worked with daily The Nation, Lahore and  daily Jang, Lahore. He has also volunteered for Milieudefensie, Amsterdam. Friends of the earth, Europe, on environmental issues. He has been working with ON FILE, an Amsterdam-based publication run by journalists from all around the world. He studied Conflict Resolution at University of Amsterdam. He is the editor.

Moscow Pushes for CSTO-NATO Unity of Mission, Separate Spheres of Influence

[This helps to validate previous articles on US/Russian, as well as capitalist/communist conspiracies intended to establish joint world domination.  They have never really been anything more than paper enemies, who secretly cooperated as they practiced the black art of "brinksmanship," to persuade the rest of the world to accept their joint domination, through global government.  The world has been held hostage, submitted to years of thermonuclear blackmail, endured wars and accelerated levels of human suffering, to underwrite global armaments industries--All to enable the production of this sick charade.  Evidently, it is now safe to bring their deadly, illicit relationship out of the closet, as both sides boldly work towards a common vision of world government out in the open, in the clear light of day.  With both sides willing to submit their rapid reaction forces to United Nations control, we have one agenda, with two separate spheres of control.  

SHUT DOWN THE SOURCE--the UN.] 

George H.W. Bush at 1990-09-11  Joint session to Congress after Iraq invasion of Kuwait:

“A new partnership of nations has begun.

We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective — a new world order — can emerge….together with Arabs, Europeans, Asians, and Africans in defense of principle and the dream of a new world order….old adversaries like the Soviet Union and the United States can work in common cause.”

CSTO, NATO should cooperate against terrorism, drugs – Moscow

Photo: AFP

Russia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which brings it together with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The current chair nation is Kazakhstan.

At a ministerial meeting of the CSTO in Moscow on Friday, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov praised the organization’s performance in the fields of military, information and financial security. He also mentioned joint action to improve the protection of Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, a territory which still poses serious threats.

These threats are terrorism and illegal drugs. Importantly, none can be beaten without close international cooperation against it. Demonstrating full awareness of this, the ministers at the Moscow meeting unanimously backed a Russian initiative to join forces with NATO in combating the Afghan-based terrorism and the Afghan-grown drugs.

Emerging from the session, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also had this to say:

“At this highly productive meeting, the ministers also approved an agenda to be jointly pushed at a number of international organizations, which have their headquarters in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Brussels. The work will be in the form of joint argumentation and joint statements.”

“Under a memorandum in the works, the CSTO will create a joint peace-keeping force, which will operate both within and outside the CSTO area. In the latter case, this force will be deploying soldiers in accordance with mandates issued to it by the UN Security Council. The ministers approved a draft general declaration, which will go before the next CSTO summit in May. This draft contains assessments and guidelines on a variety of regional and global issues.”

Mr Lavrov also touched on the outcome of a ministerial meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent

States, which worked in Moscow on Friday almost simultaneously with the CSTO meeting:

“The ministers reviewed the progress on the programmes of the Commonwealth’s Year of Sport and Healthy Lifestyles in 2012. They scheduled a number of appropriate events in each of the CIS member countries. At the end, the ministers ruled to make 2013 a CIS Year of the Natural Environment. The focus will be on protecting it and raising public awareness of environmental problems.”

The ministers also agreed measures to exchange financial intelligence, coordinate defence policies and improve border protection.

Libya: Why Nato Intervention in Country Is Not a Victory for Responsibility to Protect

Libya: Why Nato Intervention in Country Is Not a Victory for Responsibility to Protect

BY JIDE MARTYNS OKEKE

ANALYSIS, Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane/Pretoria)

There is a moral consensus on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as a framework for ending mass atrocities. The portrayal of the NATO intervention in Libya as a ‘victory’ for R2P is however likely to do more harm than good.

A Google search on the NATO-led intervention in Libya and (R2P) produces almost two million hits. This highlights the popularity and significance of the discourse on the practice of R2P that has remained dominant especially since the NATO intervention in Libya.

Acknowledgement must be made to the constellation of institutions, individuals and governments that ensured sustained efforts to re-define sovereignty as responsibility. Notably, the 2001 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) crystallised the concept and built on the idea of (R2P). Also, the 2005 endorsement of R2P by United Nations (UN) member states during the historic Outcome Summit represented both a moral and political re-affirmation of the expedient need to protect populations at risk of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Yet, the question of how to intervene, especially in decisions requiring the use of force without the consent of the target state, remains contested and controversial. Prior to the NATO intervention in Libya, most supporters of R2P sustained its momentum through placing more emphasis on the preventive and non-coercive elements of R2P. For example the 2009 United Nations Secretary General’s Report on the Implementation of R2P underscored the centrality of non-coercive preventive action as a less controversial and more effective way of operationalising R2P.

The UNSCR 1973 on Libya is significant in two main respects. First, it authorised the first UN sanctioned military operation since the 1991 Gulf War. There are widespread claims that this resolution represented the implementation of R2P through the use of force. In contrast, specific use of R2P language was made in UNSCRs on Libya (1970 and 1973) and Côte d’Ivoire (1975) to emphasize the primary role of the states and parties to the conflict in the responsibility to protect civilians. The justification for military intervention in Libya, as contained in UNSCR 1973, was premised on the protection of civilians (PoC) as opposed to specific reference to R2P.

While there may be areas of convergence between the conception and practice of R2P and PoC, their relationship remains deeply contentious and unresolved. Second, UNSCR 1973 and the consequent NATO military intervention in Libya was contrary to the conventional belief that the great powers had either failed to act or had acted too late in situations of impending or actual mass atrocities.

Rather than a victory for R2P, the execution of NATO intervention in Libya may have re-validated a traditional criticism against humanitarian intervention as a mask for the power aspirations of great powers. Specifically, the disproportionate use of force by NATO in Libya for civilian protection-cum-regime change has been severally criticised.

It resonates the prudence by international politics expert Ken Booth that international society is governed by “western governments and a variety of local strongmen which bear an uncomfortable resemblance of a global protection racket”. The rectitude of ‘saving strangers’ from mass atrocities in Benghazi appeared to be overshadowed by the self-serving interests of France, Britain, the United States and some Arab league member states in getting rid of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi by all possible means.

The emerging negative consequences of the NATO-led intervention in Libya have further strengthened the resistance against Western (humanitarian) intervention in Africa. There are three main strands in which these negative consequences are discernible, namely at the internal, regional and global levels. Internally, there is a growing escalation of tribal tensions within Libya that were expressed by sceptics on the eve of, and during the NATO-led intervention. The former Gaddafi regime ruled Libya for over four decades through the deliberate absence of state institutions.

The vacuum left in the wake of Gaddafi’s death is beginning to create an expansion of alternatively governed spaces fuelled by a ‘liberated’ state with no monopoly or control over the use of force. For example, in southern Libya, in towns such as Kufra and Sebha, there have been tribal clashes between the Toubou, perceived as being pro-Gaddafi tribesmen, and local brigades loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC). Recent clashes have recorded an estimated 147 deaths and more than 300 injuries. This development has raised fears of protracted conflicts in southern Libya and a possibility of semi-autonomy in the eastern region of Benghazi. Human rights organisations have also expressed concerns about the absence of respect for rule of law, particularly in the treatment and prosecution of pro-Gaddafi supporters by the NTC.

Closely connected to the crisis within post-intervention Libya is the emergence of regional security threats. The historical use of southern Libya as a safe haven for rebels from Chad, Niger and Sudan has increased the likelihood of regional instability. It remains to be seen how these countries will be affected by the increased violence in southern Libya.

Notwithstanding, there is already evidence of instability in the Sahel region, fuelled by the Libyan crisis. The relative military success by the Tuareg rebels in Northern Mali and the consequent military coup by the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the State (Comité Nationale pour le Redressement de la Democracy de l’Etat) is best understood against the backdrop of intense militarisation of the region caused by pro-Gaddafi supporters fleeing Libya with massive military arsenals.

Finally, the implication of the NATO-led intervention for global governance can be seen from various perspectives. First, there is already regression and strong opposition from states (especially China and Russia) for more ‘humanitarian’ intervention elsewhere.

A notable example was the use of the UNSC veto by China and Russia, intended to protect Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad regime from actions championed by Britain, France and the United States. Second, the question of double standards in decisions regarding intervention has re-surfaced. Apart from the Libyan crisis, there are/were similar uprisings in some Arab states such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where there is less appetite for a Western-led military operations.

It should be recalled that the initial formulation of the R2P by the ICISS was partly to achieve a political consensus on how to prevent such selectivity. Finally, there may have been a setback in the modest gains achieved in the promotion of cooperation between the African Union (AU) and international organisations such as NATO, the European Union and the UN.

In a recent international research symposium, jointly organized by the Institute for Security Studies and the Research Division of the NATO Defense College on AU-NATO Collaboration in Addis Ababa, there was a marked absence of top-level AU officials. It was construed by several observers as an expression of the indignation, distrust and fractures in the operational relationship between the AU and NATO. It may also reflect a likelihood of stalled progress in current cooperation (as the case of Somalia demonstrates) and, aspiration towards political coherence between the AU and the UN.

There is certainly a universal state of mind with regard to preventing and responding effectively to mass atrocities. For those who continue to see NATO intervention in Libya as a fulfilment of R2P, history and the course of time must serve as the ultimate judge and jury to determine whether this is so.

Jide Martyns Okeke, Senior Researcher, Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division, ISS Addis Ababa

Fight over natural gas trade seen at core of 1996 murder of wealthy Yevhen Shcherban

Fight over natural gas trade seen at core of 1996 murder of wealthy Yevhen Shcherban

Fight over natural gas trade seen at core of 1996 murder of wealthy Yevhen ShcherbanYevhen Shcherban, a member of parliament and wealthy businessman, was gunned down on an airport runway in Donetsk in 1996.

Yuriy Onyshkiv

It is one of Ukraine’s greatest unsolved crimes – and one of its most brazen ones as well.

In November 1996, gunmen posing as police officers drove up to the private jet of Yevhen Shcherban on the Donetsk airport runway. They sprayed automatic fire on the passengers after they deplaned. Shcherban and his wife were killed.

Who was Shcherban?

He was among the richest people in Ukraine, a prominent and influential member of parliament.

Shcherban owned Aton Corporation, a trading, production and finance company which many coveted.

And he was involved in the natural gas trade, the source of so many fortunes and so much corruption in Ukraine’s history. Prosecutors then said the hit on Shcherban was intended to eliminate competition for control of Ukraine’s natural gas industry.

Now prosecutors say they are trying to learn whether ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, then making a huge fortune on the natural gas trade, had a role in ordering the murder.

Tymoshenko calls the allegations part of the ongoing smear campaign against her to drive her out of politics by keeping her imprisoned on trumped-up charges.

“We have a transcript of a witness being questioned in the United States where the witness states directly that the murder of Shcherban was paid for from Lazarenko and Tymoshenko’s accounts,” said deputy prosecutor gene-ral Renat Kuzmin during his appearance on a political talk show on TV on Oct. 28. “We have the documents and want to check them.”

In 2002, eight men from the “Kushnir Gang” were arrested and tried for the murder. Yevhen Kushnir, who was considered an underworld figure in the early 1990s, is believed to have been murdered while in prison in 1998. All eight men were found guilty, with three receiving life sentences.

RosUkrEnergo’s co-owner Dmytro Firtash in 2008 also blamed Lazarenko for the murder of businessman and lawmaker Yevhen Shcherban, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor wrote in a diplomatic cable published on the WikiLeaks website.

“He (Firtash) stated that Lazarenko ordered the killings of Donetsk Governor Yevhen Shcherban in 1996 and the head of [gas trading company] Itera in Kyiv for not sharing Lazarenko’s gas business philosophy,” reads the U.S. ambassador’s cable, referring to a conversation that took place on Dec. 8, 2008.

In the past, law enforcement officials claim that former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko – Tymoshenko’s patron in the gas trade at the time — hired the eight men to kill Shcherban.

Lazarenko has always denied the charge. He is serving a federal prison sentence in America on a money-laundering conviction.

Kyiv Post staff writer Yuriy Onyshkiv can be reached at onyshkiv@kyivpost.com.

Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/116272/#ixzz1rdaFixst

SBU tells details of Tymoshenko and Lazarenko fraud

New criminal case opened against Tymoshenko and Lazarenko

SBU tells details of Tymoshenko and Lazarenko fraud

The head of the SBU’s main investigative department, Ivan Derevyanko told the press the fraud details of Yulia Tymoshenko and Pavlo Lazarenko, ForUm correspondent reports.

The case relates to an investigation into a $405-million debt owed to the Russian Defense Ministry by Ukrainian United Energy Systems, which was headed by Tymoshenko in the 1990s.

“Yulia Tymoshenko, being the president and actually the owner of the United Energy Systems, has been charged for carrying out an attempt to embezzle funds from the Ukrainian budget under a preliminary agreement with then-Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko,” Ivan Derevyanko, said.

“The investigation established that in November 1995 Tymoshenko agreed with then first vice PM Pavlo Lazarenko to create a regulated commercial organization in order to use it as mediator in gas deals with Russia. Lazarenko was supposed to include this organization into the list of suppliers of Russian gas to Ukrainian consumers and to provide it with possibility to pay for gas with material assets, not money. From her side, Tymoshenko was supposed to run the organization and to work out a system to withdraw the money, subjected for payment, in order to transfer it to her and Lazarenko’s accounts abroad.

Lazarenko prepared a number of official documents for the Russian government, in which he proved the necessity to use the United Energy Systems of Ukraine as gas supplier. By the time of Lazarenko’s address to the Russian government, the corporation United Energy Systems had not been created yet.

Later, Tymoshenko created LTD with foreign investments ‘United Energy Systems’. The new company was founded on the basis of small companies, controlled by Tymoshenko, including United Energy, registered in Great Britain.

As the president of the United Energy Systems, Tymoshenko concluded a number of agreements with Gazprom on supplies of Russian gas to Ukrainian consumers. In accordance with the agreements, Tymoshenko’s companies delivered Ukrainian goods to Defense Ministry of Russia as payment for the supplied gas.

Then, Tymoshenko concluded a fictitious agreement between the United Energy Systems and United Energy (of Great Britain), both controlled by Tymoshenko. According to the agreement, the United Energy was made a mediator in gas supplies from Gazprom. Hence, instead of transferring payment for gas to Gazprom, Tymoshenko transferred one milliard dollars to the accounts of United Energy (of Great Britain).

Later this money was transferred to the accounts of Somali Enterprise, a company founded by Tymoshenko as well, and to personal accounts of Lazarenko in Swiss banks. Part of the money was transferred to Tymoshenko’s personal card account.

In 1996 Gazprom refused to supply gas through the United Energy Systems of Ukraine, and then PM Pavlo Lazarenko charged then Minister Anatoly Minchenko to give Gazprom the state guarantees. According to these guarantees, the government of Ukraine binds to pay off debts if any to Gazprom for the gas supplied through the mediator United Energy Systems of Ukraine.

Knowing about governmental guarantees and still having real possibility to pay for supplied gas, in May, 2000 Tymoshenko stopped any goods supplies to Russian Defense Ministry as payment for gas. Hence, she shifted obligations of her company to the state in the person of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

Due to lack of payment for the gas supplied through the United Energy Systems, in June, 2011 the Russian Defense Ministry addressed the Cabinet of Minister of Ukraine with a demand to pay off the debt amounting 405 million500 thousand dollars,” Derevyanko explained the details.

ForUm

Uzbekistan Gas and Railroad Blockade Shutting-Down Tajikistan’s Primary Industries

Gas ultimatum to Tashkent. Uzbekistan has provoked the collapse of the industry in Tajikistan 

V.Panfilova

Externally, the leaders of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, all right.  The energy crisis in Tajikistan caused a stop of the largest companies operating on natural gas. Strategic smelter TALKO involved only 20% of capacity, according to “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” Counselor of the Embassy of Tajikistan Suleiman Rashid. Uzbekistan, who stopped on April 1, the gas supply, dealt a serious blow to the economy of Tajikistan. The resulting tensions could escalate into a military conflict between Dushanbe and Tashkent.

TALKO – the only aluminum smelter in Central Asia – was built in 1975. It gives a whole city income with a population of 30 thousand people – Tursunzade. His stop will result in the closure of more than 40 subsidiary factories and Tajik HPPs. According to experts, the treasury will lose 75% of foreign exchange earnings.

The second strategic enterprise – “Tajikcement” producing products for the Rogun is also fully dependent on gas supplies, has announced a complete halt. Employees let go on unpaid leave. Products in stock will last for two months of shipments. This means that in May, the Tajik authorities will not like going to continue to build hydroelectric power plants.

The conflict between the two leaders of Islam Karimov and Emomali Rahmon began long ago. At its core – and the personal animosity, and border issues, and plans to build Rogun Tajikistan. Change the relationship between the two countries will be possible only after the change of power in them. That is the conclusion reached by experts at the seminar “Tajikistan: Actual Problems of Development”, held last Thursday at the Moscow Carnegie Center.

“Uzbekistan, blocked the railway line and supply of gas, is intended to prevent the construction of Rogun and demonstrates our commitment to leave the last word in the protracted conflict,” – said Senior Research Fellow Center for the Study of Central Asia, Institute of Oriental Studies Aziz Niyazi. According to the expert of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies Ajdar Kurtova, the next step in Tashkent, Dushanbe, if not abandon plans to Rogun, may close road links.

Between the two countries also have problems and the nature of the boundary. Held in February, the negotiations on the demarcation and delimitation of state borders ended inconclusively. As reported by “NG” in the government of Tajikistan, “Tashkent is trying to secure for itself a controversial Farkhad reservoir on the Syrdarya river.”In Dushanbe believe that there is “an attempt to annex the territory of the sovereign state of Tajikistan.”

Disputes between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have gone so far that experts do not exclude local military conflicts. According to Aziz Niyazi, the soil is ready for the conflict: Uzbekistan increases the forces on the border with Tajikistan.

Judge of the International Crisis Group, Louise Arbour in her study of “War of the next year,” included among the various regions and Central Asia. According to her, “Tajikistan is growing tensions emanating from both internal and external elements of the insurgency, with which the country can not handle.” “In addition to other relationship issues in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are at record low: the conflict over water resources has not moved to resolve, and Edge of fatal incidents threaten to lead to more violence,” – says Arbor.

Tajik diplomats in Moscow and Bishkek issued a strong statement against Uzbekistan, and called all the neighbors to influence Tashkent. In a statement published on the website of the Embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow, in particular, noted that the Uzbek side, acting to the detriment of its neighbors in the transport and energy sectors, is trying to destabilize the situation in Tajikistan. Thus, Uzbekistan began to dismantle the railroad leading to the south of Tajikistan. As a result, Khatlon and Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, where about 3 million people could lose their international rail services. The statement also noted that “the Uzbek authorities to prevent the transit of electricity and natural gas from neighboring Turkmenistan.”

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev in a letter to the Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov claims about the blockade of Dushanbe has called baseless. He said that “the suspension of railway traffic due to technical reasons.” Mirziyayev explained the position of Tashkent and other issues. In particular, the transit of electricity is not possible because of Uzbekistan followed by Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan emerged from the United Energy System of Central Asia. As for natural gas supplies from Uzbekistan, then, according to Mirziyoyev, JSC “Uztransgaz” fully complied with its specified in the first quarter of this year, guaranteed contract deliveries of 45 million cubic meters. meters of natural gas in front of “Tajiktransgas” and later “the matter is the subject of interaction between business entities, as is customary in international practice.” Meanwhile, Dushanbe, appealed to Uzbekistan at the conclusion of agreements for natural gas in 2012, but Tashkent under various pretexts evaded the discussion. Transit also Turkmen gas to Tajikistan can not be implemented due to the separate gas pipeline system in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

However, in Tashkent, there is a proposal for the Dushanbe CHP to build on the border, working in the Uzbek gas.

09.04.2012 / Victoria Panfilov

Source - The Independent Newspaper

US Special Forces Trained Foreign Terrorists In Nevada To Fight Iran

US Special Forces Trained Foreign Terrorists In Nevada To Fight Iran

Business Insider

U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) trained members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (M.E.K.) at a secretive site in Nevada from 2005 to at least 2007, as reported by Seymour M. Hersh at The New Yorker.

M.E.K. has been listed as a “foreign terrorist organization” since 1997. It is a felony in U.S. law to knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. Early last month two senior Obama officials said that the attacks were the work of M.E.K. and that the group is “financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service [i.e. Mossad].”

In 2002 M.E.K. publicly revealed that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location and the information was provided by Mossad, according to then-head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei.

From The New Yorker:

The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence.

The training in the U.S. took place at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, located about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

A retired four-star general told Hersh that the Iranians received standard training for about six months that included communications, cryptography, small-unit tactics and weaponry.

At one point M.E.K. operatives were intercepting phone calls and text messages inside Iran, translating them and sharing them with U.S. intelligence experts, according to a former M.E.K. official (who also said he does not know whether this activity is ongoing).

Last month the senior Obama officials denied any U.S. involvement in the M.E.K. assassinations, but a former senior intelligence official told Hersh that the U.S. provides intelligence for M.E.K. operations.

Some U.S. politicians have recently advocated on behalf M.E.K. being removed from the terror list as they have received tens of thousands of dollars from the group, as The Christian Science Monitor reported in August.

Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., pointed out the hypocrisy of simultaneously listing the group as a terrorist organization and training them, saying “How can the U.S. train those on State’s foreign terrorist list, when others face criminal penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?

Ukraine’s Tymoshenko says murder allegations “absurd”

Ukraine’s Tymoshenko says murder allegations “absurd”

Olzhas Auyezov
Reuters
KIEV (Reuters) – Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, serving a seven-year jail sentence on abuse-of-office charges, on Monday dismissed new allegations against her of involvement in the murder of a parliament deputy almost 16 years ago.

She said they were “absurd” and clearly politically driven.

The jailing last October of Tymoshenko, the main opponent of President Viktor Yanukovich, has souredUkraine’s ties with the European Union and the United States, which say the case smacks of “selective” justice.

But despite Western pressure for her release, Ukrainian prosecutors have additionally accused her of tax evasion and now say they are investigating her possible involvement in the 1996 contract killing of Yevhen Shcherban, one of the most sensational crimes of post-Soviet Ukraine.

Shcherban, a powerful businessman and politician, died in a hail of bullets as he emerged from a plane in the eastern city of Donetsk. The attackers, disguised as airport mechanics, also killed his wife and several bystanders.

His killing followed several other murders in Donetsk, including a football stadium bombing that killed the owner of Shakhtar Donetsk club, and led to a realignment of political and business alliances in the key steel- and coal-producing region.

Both Tymoshenko and Yanukovich were already big players in a turbulent region which seethed with intrigue and where fortunes were made and lost in murky dealings ranging from sales of state assets to protection rackets, extortion and theft.

Tymoshenko was head of the gas trader Unified Energy Systems, which was a major supplier of the fuel in Ukraine, while he was deputy governor of Donetsk and a close ally of other powerful regional leaders.

“Linking me to the Shcherban case is absurd,” Tymoshenko said in the statement issued by her party, Batkivshchyna. “I believe that people well understand how poorly this case holds together, who benefits from it and how absurd it is.”

State prosecutors say they have evidence that Tymoshenko could be involved in the case, along with Pavlo Lazarenko, who was prime minister at the time and has since been jailed in the United States for fraud and money laundering.

Lazarenko denied any involvement with the murder, calling the accusations “cynical lies”. “I have nothing to do with this crime,” Interfax news agency quoted Lazarenko as saying in a statement published by his lawyer on Monday.

Shcherban’s son, Ruslan Shcherban, who was 19 at the time and survived the attack by hiding under a car, told reporters last week he had evidence implicating Tymoshenko.

Ukraine’s state prison service said last week it had moved Vadim Bolotskikh, the man sentenced to life in prison for killing Shcherban and another powerful regional figure, to a detention centre in Kiev, a move which means he could be questioned by prosecutors or testify in a court.

HEALTH CONCERNS

State prosecutors said on March 28 that Tymoshenko would soon go on trial again on charges of tax evasion. They did not fix a date.

Tymoshenko, 51, was convicted in October of abusing her power as prime minister in forcing through a 2009 gas deal with Russia which, Yanukovich’s government says, ran against national interests and made vital imports exorbitantly expensive.

Tymoshenko, who denies any wrongdoing, has been in detention and then in prison since last August, and her lawyers and family say she is suffering from back pains.

The state prison service has offered to move her to a clinic in the city of Kharkiv, where her prison is located, for treatment. But Tymoshenko has refused, saying she will only follow the recommendations of trusted foreign doctors.

Ukrainian and German government officials meanwhile say their governments are in talks with a view to her possibly going to Germany for treatment, but it is not clear if Tymoshenko herself would agree to go.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry says doctors from Germany will visit her this week to advise her on treatment.

Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution which doomed Yanukovich’s first bid for the presidency and went on to serve twice as prime minister.

But she lost the 2010 presidential election to Yanukovich and after his rise to power Tymoshenko and a number of her allies in opposition faced corruption-related charges in what she has described as a campaign of repression.

Tymoshenko is challenging her initial conviction in the European Court for Human Rights. The European Union has warned Kiev that its members will not ratify a milestone Ukraine-EU association agreement while she is in prison.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Reuters Claims That Russia Unreliable Oil Supplier To Czechoslovakia

Czech Pipeline Operator Refutes Report Of Russian Oil Cuts

State-owned operator of the Czech oil pipeline network Mero has refuted a report by news agency Reuters that deliveries of Russian oil to the Czech Republic via the Druzhba pipeline are to be cut by 80 percent to just 80,000 tons in April. Mero said on Thursday that nothing of the sort is evident or planned.  Reuters cited unnamed traders as its source.

“We have checked this information in Slovakia and Ukraine and neither are there any problems there with volumes of deliveries via the Druzba pipeline. Transneft, the operator of Russia’s pipelines, also refutes the assertion that there has been any reduction in deliveries,” managing director of Mero Jaroslav Pantůček, told the daily Lidové noviny (LN) on Thursday.
Copyright 2012, Czech Position. All rights reserved.

By Gleb Gorodyankin

Russia’s Transneft has 3 days of oil for Czechs

(Reuters) – Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft only has sufficient volume in the Druzhba pipeline to supply the Czech Republic for three more days, after Russian oil companies failed to submit new requests for deliveries to Czech customers.

“We are not limiting (supplies) to anyone, but they are not processing (the requests),” a Transneft spokesman said on Monday.

Russia’s oil majors have been shifting volume away from the Druzhba pipeline in recent years and a new outlet, at Ust-Luga on the Baltic, has allowed them to divert more supplies from the Soviet-era option.

Traders said Russia had supplied just 60,000 tonnes of oil to the Czech Republic URL-CZ in the first eight days of this month, around 15 percent of the normal monthly amount.

The Czechs have alternative sources of oil but the reliability of energy supplies remains a sensitive topic in the former Soviet bloc country.

The Czech side, including pipeline operator Mero, has not been informed about any supply reductions, said Vaclav Bartuska, a special government envoy for energy security.

He said the country could replace the missing volumes through the IKL pipeline bringing oil from the Mediterranean.

“We have tested in 2008 (when Russia abruptly cut supplies) that we can replace even a dramatic drop in supply via IKL,” he told Reuters.

He said the Czech Republic has reserves of oil and oil products for more than 90 days.

Last week, market sources said the cut in deliveries along the Druzhba pipeline might force the Czech Republic to ramp up the more expensive crude imports from the Mediterranean.

Russia was due to ship 1.2 million tonnes of oil to the Czech Republic in the second quarter, slightly down from 1.25 million in the first three months of the year..

But that figure could now change significantly if deliveries remain low through the rest of April.

Rosneft and Lukoil are Transneft’s main Druzhba clients, with each receiving a monthly crude allocation for the Czech Republic of 500,000 tonnes.

Gazprom Neft has a monthly quota of 200,000 tonnes to this destination, although trading sources said the company was in talks to double volume via Druzhba to make up for some of the shortfall. (Additional reporting by Jan Lopatka in Prague; Writing by Alfred Kueppers; Editing by David Holmes)

Ukrainian Kleptocracy and the Magnetic Pull of Prison

klep·toc·ra·cy

[klep-tok-ruh-see]–a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves.

“Tymoshenko is alleged to have profited obscenely from her association with him.”

Ex-Ukrainian prime minister owes Marin $2 million in back taxes

By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko may find an inquiry from Marin County tax collector Roy Given waiting when he is released from the federal prison at Terminal Island on Nov. 1.

Lazarenko, who has been cooling his heels behind bars for the past six years following his conviction for money laundering, transporting stolen goods and fraud, owes Marin $2.1 million in back taxes and late payment fines levied against the palatial, 11-acre Novato mansion at 100 Obertz Lane he once called home.

And the bill will get bigger Tuesday, because Given doesn’t expect to get a check from Lazarenko by the 5 p.m. deadline for paying 2011-12 property taxes. Tardy taxpayers face a 10 percent penalty.

Given, head of the Department of Finance at the Civic Center, said that Dugsbery Inc. of Sausalito, the entity through which Lazarenko bought the mansion, is Marin’s biggest tax scofflaw. The bill includes $894,407 in back taxes and another $997,824 in late payment penalties, as well as $129,000 on two adjacent parcels. The properties are among 1,487 Marin County parcels that owe $20,703,732 in back taxes, penalties and interest.

“I’d like these people to call my office and try to work out a payment plan,” Given said, adding that it’s been hard to contact Lazarenko, “since he’s been in prison.”

The next step for the Novato mansion will be “final formal notifications, including to the state Franchise Tax Board and the IRS, and then we’ll

be forced to put the property up for a tax sale,” probably in late August, he said. Disposition of the property will be delayed if the federal or state governments makes a claim.

Officials said that the 59-year-old Lazarenko, once ranked as the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by an international watchdog group, pocketed millions when he controlled lucrative oil and gas contracts as head of the Ukrainian government in fiscal 1996-97. Ousted from office, he fled amid controversy in 1999 to seek asylum in the United States and wound up in Marin. Federal prosecutors accused him of stealing $114 million while in public office and trying to hide $21 million in American banks, including $9.3 million deposited in the Sausalito branch of Westamerica Bank, and he went on trial in San Francisco. He was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison and fined $10 million.

Prosecutors said he paid cash siphoned from the Ukraine to buy the Novato mansion overlooking the Marin Country Club for $6.75 million. The 19,495-square-foot, nine-bedroom, nine-bath residence has two helicopter landing pads, five dog kennels, a ballroom, granite floors inlaid with brass, and gold-plated door knobs.

The mansion was built by George Michael Shipsey, a former Marin developer convicted in 1997 of embezzling $700,000 in union pension funds. Movie star Eddie Murphy created a local stir when he rented the home for a time.

Given called Lazarenko’s lofty, tardy tax bill an aberration, and noted that most taxpayers will pay up before Tuesday’s deadline. County staffers on Monday will sort thousands of bills mailed in over the weekend.

Given’s staff already is knee deep in tax bills as sacks of mail have poured in and employees process 8,000 payments a day. Hundreds more appear to pay up in person, like those in a line last Thursday afternoon that snaked through the tax office lobby.

“It’s just been fine. People are happy,” said veteran tax cashier Katherine Haley. “Some people are concerned about all the special assessments” imposed by various taxing districts, she added.

Joani Metolius of Novato was among the taxpayers waiting to pay the tax collector.

“It costs me only $14 a day for the privilege of living in this wonderful, most beautiful county,” she said of her tax bill. “I feel privileged to live here and I’m happy to pay this.”

Contact Nels Johnson via email at ij.civiccenter@gmail.com

Fearing US raid, Taliban ex-diplomat Zaeef takes refuge in UAE

Fearing US raid, Taliban ex-diplomat Zaeef takes refuge in UAE

New Delhi: Former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Sallam Zaeef has fled Afghanistan and taken refuge in UAE, fearing arrests, say Arab media reports.

According to Al Jazeera, American forces had tried to search his Kabul home twice, but his bodyguards had denied them entry.

Afghan intelligence has confirmed that US forces tried to enter Zaeef’s home this month, but were prevented at the entry gate.

Many of the Taliban prisoners freed from Guantanamo had been killed in night raids.

Memorandum on Afghan-US night raid deal signed

Memorandum on Afghan-US night raid deal signed

NATO-led International Security Assistance Force following a statement announced, Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the United States Forces-Afghanistan and Afghan Minister for Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak today ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ signed an agreement on the process by which Afghan National Security Forces will take the lead on special operations, a critical security responsibility in Afghanistan.

The source further added, the Memorandum of Understanding means Afghan Special Operations Units will lead the way in effectively targeting insurgents and ensures special operations will continue to be conducted with the full respect for Afghan sovereignty, Afghan law and the Afghan constitution.

Allen said the agreement marks a significant milestone in the progress of the Lisbon-based transition process, in the continued advancement of sovereignty for the people in Afghanistan and in the shared effort to formalize a long-term U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Document.

“In conjunction with the Detentions MOU we signed last month, today’s MOU gives tangible expression to the vision of the Afghan Loya Jirga and to the will of the Afghan people,” said Allen.

“The Afghan Special Operations Units have developed at extraordinary speed and are manned by courageous and capable operators.”

“In large measure, this MOU is a result of the professionalism of the National Directorate of Security and the Afghan National Security Forces. We also recognize the growing capacity of the Afghan judicial system which will play a vital part not only in the implementation of this agreement but also in the lives of Afghan citizens.”

“Today we are one important step closer to our shared goal of a secure and sovereign Afghanistan. Together we will realize this vision.”

The 50-nation NATO coalition of ISAF continues its work alongside ANSF to halt acts of terror and build an enhanced security environment to promote peace and stability throughout Afghanistan.

Follow KHAAMA PRESS

Saudi Arabia dancing to Israel’s tunes

Saudi Arabia dancing to Israel’s tunes

TehranTimes

Kourosh Ziabari
It is no longer a secret that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has joined forces with the United States, Israel and Britain to destabilize Iran. Saudi officials have openly stated their opposition to Iran’s access to peaceful nuclear energy and even have boastfully promised to make the crude supply lost through EU sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
The Saudis are officially among the Muslim states that don’t recognize the Israeli regime, however their silence on many issues demonstrates the sheik’s tacit approval of much of the foreign policy of the Washington-Tel Aviv axis.
In the Stratfor (a Texas-based global intelligence firm) emails leaked by WikiLeaks and obtained by the Beirut-based Al Akhbar newspaper, it was revealed that Saudi Arabia reached out to Mossad, which assisted the Kingdom with, as Al Akhbar reports, “intelligence collection and advice on Iran”.
According to a source quoted in the emails, “Several enterprising Mossad officers, both past and present, are making a bundle selling the Saudis everything from security equipment, intelligence and consultation.”
There are also credible reports indicating that Mossad chief has recently visited Saudi Arabia and talked to Saudi officials about possible plans for attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities and the role the Arab nation can play in this dangerous anti-Iranian scenario.
As written by Haaretz, “the talks conducted in Saudi Arabia with the head of Israel’s espionage agency dealt with Iran and its nuclear program. The account follows a series of recent reports on increasing secret cooperation between Israel and the Saudis, including defense coordination on matters related to possible military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
Another report by the Times of London revealed that in 2010 and during the course of a Saudi military exercise, air defense system operations were halted for a few hours to rehearse a scenario whereby Israeli fighter planes would cross Saudi Arabian air space en route to Iran.
In retrospect, the Saudi officials have expressively and explicitly denounced Iran’s nuclear program and called on the U.S. and its European officials to tighten the noose of economic sanctions around their Muslim neighbor as if they’re unaware of the fact that several IAEA and NIE reports have confirmed that does not have an active nuclear weapons programme.
Two years ago, in a joint press conference with his American counterpart, the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi al-Faisal said that economic sanctions cannot guarantee that Iran will retreat from its nuclear program and a more effective solution is needed for the “threats posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
Al-Faisal described sanctions as a long-term solution and said the perceived threat coming from Iran is more pressing. “We see the issue in the shorter term because we are closer to the threat. We need immediate resolution rather than gradual resolution,” he said. The Saudi prince did not specify any short-term resolution, but it seems that his implied option, which he did not rule out, is a military intervention in Iran.
The Saudis are also trying to convince the U.S. and Europe that Iran’s nuclear program poses a threat to their security and should be hindered as soon as possible. That’s why many U.S. and European officials state in their bilateral meetings with the Saudi officials that a “nuclear-armed Iran” is harmful to the security of the Persian Gulf.
“I understand the Arab world cannot allow that Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons,” said Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the leader of opposition party in the German parliament and former foreign minister in a February meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
The stance which Riyadh has adopted against Tehran is absolutely in line with the anti-Iranian policies of the Israeli regime. They’re dancing to Israel’s tune and helping achieve what Tel Aviv desires most: an isolated Iran with a chasm between its government and its people. However, what is clear is that such pressures cannot bring Iranians to their knees and will only unveil the true face of the enemies of this nation. Over the course of three decades since the victory of Islamic revolution, Iran has been constantly the target of enmity and belligerence by the global superpowers and their allies, so the recent antagonistic policies and hostilities of Saudi Arabia are nothing new or surprising.
Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist and writer.