Arms, Conflict, Corruption, Hillary Clinton, Law, Middle East, Military, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scandal, Security, USA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.

“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.

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Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.

“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.

The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.

IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.

The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”

“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.

“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”

IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.

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Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”

The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.

According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.

​Clinton Foundation admits ‘mistakes’ amid concerns of foreign donors 20

German Foreign Ministry plays down intel report claiming Ukraine militia downed MH17

A picture taken on November 7, 2014, shows parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk. (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)

A picture taken on November 7, 2014, shows parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk. (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)

The German Foreign Ministry maintains the media interpretation of an October statement by the president of national intelligence agency alleging self-defense militia downed MH17 flight in Ukraine was incomplete and taken out of context.

The Russian embassy in Berlin received an official response to note #3693 from October 27 regarding Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND intelligence agency) President Gerhard Schindler’s allegations that local militia in eastern Ukraine shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight in July.

“The media interpretation of the report of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) president delivered to the Bundestag Committee overseeing intelligence activities on October 8 is incomplete and arbitrarily taken out of context,” the note says.

Gerhard Schindler, President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) (AFP Photo)

Gerhard Schindler, President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) (AFP Photo)

German diplomats insisted that the BND’s analysis and evaluation was based “on information obtained from intelligence and from open sources,” which included data from the interim report of the Dutch investigation commission conducting the inquiry. The report delivered by Schindler “evaluated multiple valid scenarios with regard to their plausibility and probability,” the note said.

The ministry stressed that according to the decision of the International Civil Aviation Association (ICAA), investigation of the MH17 flight crash was handed over to Dutch authorities, authorized to exclusively deliver all information on the issue.

According to information made public by Germany’s Der Spiegel daily on October 19, Schindler delivered a statement in Bundestag on October 8 in which he claimed the militia in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region fired a rocket from a BUK defense missile system which it had captured from a Ukrainian base. It shot down the Malaysian Boeing as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 passengers and crew aboard.

Putin accuses Ukrainian troops of shelling MH17 crash site

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met on Monday with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on the sidelines of an APEC summit in China, has also spoken on the issue of flight MH17.

Having expressed condolences to the families of the perished passengers and Malaysian state, Vladimir Putin confirmed that Moscow insists on a complete and objective international investigation of the MH17 catastrophe in accordance with the corresponding UN resolution.

A picture taken on November 10, 2014, shows parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80 kms east of Donetsk. (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)

A picture taken on November 10, 2014, shows parts of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80 kms east of Donetsk. (AFP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff)

At the same time Putin disagreed with the Malaysian PM, who demanded greater access to the crash site “fully controlled by the local militia.”

“The reference that the crash site is fully controlled by so-called pro-Russian separatists is absolutely inconsistent, because it is not them, but the opposite side that is constantly shelling that territory,” Putin said. He noted that it is this shelling that prevents investigators from working properly at the crash site.

He welcomed the fact that Malaysian experts have finally got access to fully-fledged participation in the investigation.

“I’m sure your experts will contribute the necessary to the adequate investigation off this tragedy,” Putin told Razak.

An international team of investigators managed to recover more human remains from the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine, the Dutch prime minister announced in late October.

Still, investigators are intending to continue with the search operation and hire local contractors to collect plane debris beyond their reach, Reuters reported last week.

Nobel Peace Prize laureates call on Obama to release CIA torture report

U.S. president Barack Obama

U.S. president Barack Obama – (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

 

Twelve winners of the Nobel Peace Prize have urged fellow laureate, US President Barack Obama, to release a Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s post-9/11 Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program, also known as the torture report.

The laureates revealed late Sunday an open letter that called for “full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of torture and rendition by American soldiers, operatives, and contractors, as well as the authorization of torture and rendition by American officials.”

The letter, posted on TheCommunity.com, also asked for a concrete plan to close secret international “black site” prisons – used by the US to hide, hold, and interrogate post-9/11 detainees – as well as the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, where many War on Terror captives languish with few or inconsistent legal maneuvers, if any at all, at their disposal.

The letter was signed by past Nobel winners José Ramos-Horta, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, F.W. De Klerk, Leymah Gbowee, Muhammad Yunus, John Hume, Bishop Carlos X. Belo, Betty Williams, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jody Williams, Oscar Arias Sanchez, and Mohammad ElBaradei.

“In recent decades, by accepting the flagrant use of torture and other violations of international law in the name of combating terrorism, American leaders have eroded the very freedoms and rights that generations of their young gave their lives to defend,” the laureates wrote.

“They have again set an example that will be followed by others; only now, it is one that will be used to justify the use of torture by regimes around the world, including against American soldiers in foreign lands. In losing their way, they have made us all vulnerable.”

The letter called on Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize after less than a year in the White House, to follow principles of international law outlined in the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s $40 million investigation into the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program – which was active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 – has found that the spy agency purposely deceived the US Justice Department to attain legal justification for the use of torture techniques, among other findings. The investigation and subsequent crafting of the report ran from March 2009 to December 2012.

Of that 6,000-page investigative report, the public will only see a 500-page, partially-redacted executive summary that is in the process of declassification.

According to sources familiar with the unreleased report, the CIA, and not top officials of the George W. Bush administration, are blamed for interrogation tactics that amount to torture based on international legal standards.

The report outlines 20 main conclusions about the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program which, according to the investigation, intentionally evaded White House, congressional, and intra-agency oversight.

The White House is reportedly wrestling over how to interpret a ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” ahead of a meeting in Geneva next month concerning the United Nations charter on torture.

According to the New York Times, the Obama administration remains divided over what stance a Washington delegation will officially take at the UN-sponsored Committee Against Torture panel early next month in the Swiss city.

Although Barack Obama said before and after being elected to the White House that United States officials should never engage in torturous activity, Times national security journalist Charlie Savage reported on Sunday this week that administration officials might formally adopt another stance — one on par with the policies of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush — when the panel convenes in a couple of weeks.

The Times reported that the attorneys who answer to the president are conflicted over whether or not the White House should revisit the Bush administration’s interpretation of a UN treaty, the likes of which authorized the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, on individuals detained by military and intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at facilities such as the Guantanamo Bay detention center and CIA so-called “black sites.”

The upcoming meeting will be the first one of Obama’s presidency, Savage acknowledged, presenting the commander-in-chief with a rare opportunity to speak of the UN Convention Against Torture, a treaty that since the 1980s has aimed to ensure prisoners the world over aren’t subjected to inhumane conditions.

In Sunday’s report, Savage wrote that Obama, then a US senator, spoke out adamantly against Pres. Bush when it was revealed in 2005 that his administration had been interpreting the UN treaty in a manner that they argued made it acceptable for CIA and Pentagon officials to disregard the prohibitions against torture if they weren’t on American soil.

Obama the president later condemned that reasoning with an executive order “ensuring lawful interrogations,” Savage added, although next month’s meeting may change that.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” Savage wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

“State Department lawyers are said to be pushing to officially abandon the Bush-era interpretation,” Savage added, which would simply continue to let the 2009 Obama-signed executive order stand as Washington’s official word and further ensure that American officials are obligated to adhere to the torture treaty regardless of where in the world they are located.

Other attorneys, he added, have a different idea of what to do at next month’s meeting, however. “But military and intelligence lawyers are said to oppose accepting that the treaty imposes legal obligations on the United States’ actions abroad,” Savage wrote. “They say they need more time to study whether it would have operational impacts. They have also raised concerns that current or future wartime detainees abroad might invoke the treaty to sue American officials with claims of torture, although courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits brought by detainees held as terrorism suspects.”

Should those arguing on the latter side provoke, then the current administration could soon find itself agreeing with past policies that continue to be controversial nearly a decade after the Bush White House’s use of torture started to surface.

“Many foreign political leaders and non-governmental organizations have called for members of the Bush administration, including Bush himself, to face prosecution for allowing the abuse of detainees in US custody during the course of the US campaign against Islamic militant groups spurred by the 9/11 attacks,” Mark Hanrahan wrote for the International Business Times on Sunday. “The Bush administration, which launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had to contend with a number of allegations it allowed US officials to use torture against detainees during the course of its campaigns,” including the infamous Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

If the Pentagon and CIA attorneys prevail, then Washington could once again interpret the UN treaty in a manner that allows those same torturous practices to be performed on detainees once against, as long as any such instances occur abroad.

Last week, McClatchy news service reported that a classified $40 million probe launched by the Senate to investigate the CIA’s Bush-era detention and interrogation program concludes without holding any administration officials responsible for the scandals at Abu Ghraib and other facilities that to this day remain a major scar on the presidency.

“This report is not about the White House. It’s not about the president. It’s not about criminal liability. It’s about the CIA’s actions or inactions,” a person familiar with the report told McClatchy. “It does not look at the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to literally do an end run around justice and the law.”

Strong proof Right Sector, National Guard linked to mass graves near Donetsk – Moscow

A Donetsk People's Republic militiaman is at the site of the graves of peaceful residents discovered near Mine 22 "Kommunar" outside Donetsk (still from video courtesy of the Ruptly international news agency.)

A Donetsk People’s Republic militiaman is at the site of the graves of peaceful residents discovered near Mine 22 “Kommunar” outside Donetsk (still from video courtesy of the Ruptly international news agency.)

RT NEWS

Published time: October 01, 2014

 “We know the names of many of the commanders of military units, the militants of the Right Sector and the National Guard, who carry out criminal orders of the military and political leadership of Ukraine,” Markin said, adding that all of them will sooner or later have to answer “not only before the law, but also to their own conscience.”

There is irrefutable evidence that the National Guard and ultra-nationalist Right Sector fighters are responsible for the murder of people recently discovered in mass burial sites near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine said Russia’s Investigative Committee.

“For those who have doubts regarding who’s responsible for these murders, the Investigative Committee has irrefutable evidence – witness accounts and appropriate examinations – that directly indicates that this crime was committed by fighters from the National Guard and Right Sector,” the committee’s head Vladimir Markin in a statement on Wednesday.

The mass graves discovered in September near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine “are further eloquent testimony to the atrocities of the Ukrainian nationalists,” Markin said, adding that “all of the victims were tortured before their murder.”

The murders were described in detail in the testimony of a soldier from the ‘Dnepr’ battalion, Sergey Litvinov, detained in a Russian hospital as a civilian after he fled Ukraine, Markin said. Currently Litvinov is under arrest and is to be transferred to Moscow for further questioning, he added.

Litvinov “personally killed civilians not involved in the military conflict, including women and children residents of the villages Melovoye, Shiroky, Makarovo and Kamushnoye, guided by anonymous denunciations,” Markin said, quoting the soldier’s testimony.

“What is more interesting that this fighter received a money reward for the killings from his leadership sponsored by Igor Kolomoysky,” Markin said, referring the Kiev-appointed Dnepropetrovsk governor and prominent oligarch.

“We know the names of many of the commanders of military units, the militants of the Right Sector and the National Guard, who carry out criminal orders of the military and political leadership of Ukraine,” Markin said, adding that all of them will sooner or later have to answer “not only before the law, but also to their own conscience.

In the Wednesday statement the spokesman of the Investigative Committee stressed that all information and evidence of the crimes is provided by direct witnesses, primarily refugees who fled the region of military operations.

There are over 300,000 refugees who fled to Russia, according to Markin. Over 60,000 were questioned and 12,000 of them were confirmed to be victims, he added.

“In addition to eyewitness accounts, many victims have provided evidence to the Russian Investigative Committee and evidence in the form of soil samples, genetic material. These samples were thoroughly examined, confirming the testimony of witnesses and victims themselves.”

Markin slammed Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office for failing to carry out its own investigation.

“What prevented andis preventing them now from conducting their own investigation into the massacres of the civilian population and to try to protect the innocent population of Donbass instead of making hysterical statements about the alleged ‘interference’ in the affairs of a sovereign republic?” he questioned.

The discovery of the graves was made on September 23 by self-defense forces, who were responding to information given to them by locals, who said that they had been dug by Ukrainian government forces. The OSCE confirmed the finding on September 25 and reported its concerns to the European Union.

‘Taped hands, gun wounds’: RT witnesses exhumation of mass graves in E. Ukraine

Mass graves with bodies bearing signs of violent death, and grieving relatives of those who were identified: That was the blood-curdling scene witnessed by an RT crew in a village near the city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.

Four bodies were found in two shell craters behind a burned-out coal mine near the village of Nyzhnia Krynka, 35 kilometers northeast of Donetsk. RT’s Maria Finoshina reported from the burial site.

“All the facilities you can see here were abandoned a long time ago. It’s a very remote area and apparently those who did this didn’t want these corpses to be found,” Finoshina reported.

Among the four victims was 21-year-old Nikita Kolomiytsev, a local resident, whose grieving mother arrived at the scene of mass graves to identify her son.

“I couldn’t stand for him to be killed and thrown like a dog somewhere – I had to come and identify him,” Nikita’s mother, Galina, told RT.

Galina said she fled to central Ukraine to take her younger 16-year-old son out of harm’s way, but she felt she’d “failed to protect” her elder son.

“The Ukrainian army took [Nikita]away… my husband went there and told them – take me instead of my son. But they said they had taken him for a further prisoner swap.”

“The Ukrainian army took [Nikita]away… my husband went there and told them – take me instead of my son. But they said they had taken him for a further prisoner swap.”

“The Ukrainian army took [Nikita]away… my husband went there and told them – take me instead of my son. But they said they had taken him for a further prisoner swap.”

Galina was waiting for him to be exchanged and brought home, but he never returned to his mother.

“No one exchanged anybody for anybody. They just shot them dead here outside the village and threw them into the ground… like dogs,” she added, sobbing.

According to Konstantin Gerasimenko, chief medical examiner, “all four victims – they are all male – have multiple gunshot wounds to head and body.”

“Their hands were taped behind their backs. Some of them were only in their underwear,” he said.

RT’s crew also visited another burial area that the OSCE monitors discovered, located just 3 kilometers from the first site.

Initially the grave looked like a mound, with five names written on a plaque on top of it, all in Russian. The officials were not able to reach the area as it was mined. They have only started the exhumation now.

One of those who took part in the exhumation told RT that they have found five bodies, which have already started decomposing.

The plaque on top of the grave had four names on it, and a space for a fifth name, which was blank, with only a number there.

All four names had the victims’ dates of birth and death. The dates of death were all the same – August 27. An inscription on the plague reads: “Died for Putin’s lies.”

Screenshot from RT video

Screenshot from RT video

RT tried to find any eyewitnesses who could throw light on the incident.

“I know nothing,” said a local resident, “Ukraine troops came here and they asked us to leave and we fled… we just came back recently.”

According to Evgeniy, another local resident, “a camouflaged car with people from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) inside came here – and all of them were gunned down at short range.”

The discovery of the graves was made on Sept. 23 by DNR forces who were responding to information given to them by locals, who said that the mass graves had been dug by Ukrainian government forces.

Two days before the bodies were discovered, Ukraine National Guard forces were stationed in the area, the locals reported.

On Friday, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine confirmed that militia forces found three unmarked graves allegedly containing many bodies. Two of them were located in the Komunar coal mine, near the village of Nyzhnia Krynka, and one inside the village.

The burial site near the village of Nyzhnia Krynka, 35 kilometers north-east of the city of Donetsk (screenshot from RT video)

The burial site near the village of Nyzhnia Krynka, 35 kilometers north-east of the city of Donetsk (screenshot from RT video)

When asked about the discovery, the president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Ilkka Kanerva, told RT that “of course the OSCE monitoring mission in there must be also very concerned about that.”

On Wednesday, the head of Russia’s presidential human rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, called on the authorities to do everything to “ensure an independent international probe” and “let international human rights activists and journalists” gain access to the site in Eastern Ukraine’s embattled Donetsk region.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow will pursue an open and independent inquiry into the killings of people found in mass graves in the east of Ukraine.

“Already in the last [OSCE] report, which was presented in Vienna, the first signs confirmed that the victims were civilians, and that they were shot at close range, and before that they could have been abused. All this worries us very much. We cannot blame anyone until we see the results of the investigation,” Lavrov said.

 

 

 

 

 

Protesters dump Ukrainian deputy in rubbish bin (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Screenshot from youtube by Lenta Novostei

Screenshot from youtube by Lenta Novostei

 

Crowds outside the Ukrainian parliament seized a deputy, as he left the building for a break, and put him in a trash bin. The move puzzled politicians, as the deputy was behind the lustration law which the protesters had gathered to support.

A crowd gathered outside the parliament, Verkhovna Rada, in Kiev on Tuesday to rally while MPs were voting on a new bill banning the closest allies of Ukraine’s deposed President Yanukovich from politics.

A Parliament Deputy deposited in a trash bin by protesters

 

Vitaly Zhuravsky, deputy for the Economic Development group, stepped outside the parliament building for a break, and was immediately seized by a large crowd of men. Zhuravsky was forced into a trash can full of rubbish, while the crowd cheered “Glory to Ukraine!”

deputat1

Screenshot from youtube by Dmitriy Chigrin

Several men held Zhuravsky by his head, preventing him from getting out of the bin. They threw a car tire at him and poured some liquid over him, saying he was “to blame for bloodshed.”

The deputy was carried in the bin across the street, before police intervened.

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deputy

deputy3

deputy4

Zhuravsky later said he considered the attack to be a hit, ordered by political competitors, adding that he pardons the offenders.

I am still shocked by what has happened. I take this incident as a hit by my competitors, running for the vote in the Zhitomir region. I don’t think that’s the way Maidan people could have treated me, it can’t be true, I simply don’t believe it,” the deputy said at a Rada briefing.

The deputy said he was among the draftsmen of the new so-called lustration bill, which was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday. If signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko, MPs who worked under Viktor Yanukovich will be forced to quit parliament and will be permanently banned from occupying seats.

Several of the Maidan activists later publicly apologized to Zhuravsky. The deputy said he would not press charges.

NATO members start supplying weapons to Kiev – Ukrainian Defense Minister

Members of the military special forces sit on an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.(Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

Members of the military special forces sit on an armoured vehicle near Kramatorsk September 4, 2014.(Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

 

Hagel said that the Ukraine crisis “has to be resolved politically.”

“And you can’t start that process until a ceasefire takes place,” he added. “But that isn’t the end. That is only the beginning, a ceasefire.”

RT NEWS

NATO member states have started supplying weapons to Ukraine, the country’s Defense Minister said on TV. His comments came a few days after a similar statement by a Ukrainian presidential aide sparked a diplomatic scandal and a rash of denials.

In an interview with Channel 5, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valery Geletey said that he had held verbal consultations with the defense ministers of the “leading countries of the world, those that can help us, and they heard us. We have the supply of arms under way.”

“This process has begun, and I feel that this is exactly the way we need to go,” the minister said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who attended the Sept. 4-5 NATO summit in Wales, announced that he had negotiated direct modern weapons supplies with a number of NATO member states.

Poroshenko claimed that some of the NATO member states said during bilateral consultations they are ready to supply Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal arms, including “high precision weapons,” as well as with medical equipment.

NATO has had repeatedly said that the alliance is not going to supply any weapons or military equipment to Ukraine. At the same time, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance would not interfere if member states made decisions of their own regarding arms supply to Ukraine.

When Poroshenko’s aide Yury Lutsenko wrote on his Facebook page that the US, along with France, Italy, Poland and Norway, would supply modern weapons to Ukraine, the news prompted all the countries mentioned in Lutsenko’s post to say they had no information about supplies.

Last Sunday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was the first to deny the arms delivery, saying he was not aware of a secret deal to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.

Hagel ‘not aware’ of secret deal to supply Kiev with lethal weapons

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at the Krtsanisi military training base outside Tbilisi September 7, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at the Krtsanisi military training base outside Tbilisi September 7, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)

 

 

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was not aware of a secret deal to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons. His words contradict earlier statements by an aide to President Petro Poroshenko that the US is backing Kiev’s military with arms.

“I’m not aware of any kind of a secret deal that was made in Wales about supplying lethal weapons to the Ukrainians,” Hagel told journalists on a visit to Turkey’s capital, Ankara.

Earlier, Poroshenko aide Yury Lutsenko wrote on his Facebook page that the US, along with France, Italy, Poland and Norway, will supply modern weapons to Ukraine.

The agreements were reached at the Sept. 4-5 NATO summit in Wales, Lutsenko wrote, adding that the West will also send military advisers to Ukraine.

However, Hagel later denied the report Sunday, saying that Washington has not made an offer of “lethal assistance” to Ukraine.

Shortly afterward, Norway, Italy, and Poland also denied the report.

NATO to give Ukraine 15mn euros, lethal and non-lethal military supplies from members

However, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that joint US-Ukraine maritime exercises, under the Sea Breeze 2014 program, will be held Sept. 8-10 in the northwestern Black Sea.

LEBANON-POLITICS-USS-ROSS

The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) crosses the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group. March 05, 2008 (AFP Photo / U.S. Navy / Seaman Mandy Hunsucker)

“The aim [of the exercises] is to set up safety measures in areas dangerous to ships,” Col. Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council, told reporters Monday.

Meanwhile, NATO is carrying out a week of military exercises in Latvia. The alliance says the drills are aimed at showing its commitment to Baltic member states in the face of an “assertive” Russia.

Following the NATO summit in Wales, a plan to create a new rapid reaction force in Eastern Europe was announced, likely numbering at least 4,000. The force will be ready to be deployed within 48 hours.

The Baltic states and Romania have already offered to host the force.

During his visit to Turkey, Hagel also said that he hopes the ceasefire will continue in the east of the crisis-torn country.

“We hope it holds,” he said. “If it can hold, then we are hopeful that that is the baseline, the beginning of an effort to move forward and resolve these issues that cannot be resolved militarily.”

Ukraine, US to conduct joint military drills in Black Sea

Hagel said that the Ukraine crisis “has to be resolved politically.”

“And you can’t start that process until a ceasefire takes place,” he added. “But that isn’t the end. That is only the beginning, a ceasefire.”

4 NATO warships to enter Black Sea before September 7 – military source

 

 

Russian Journalist missing Andrey Stenin confirmed dead in Ukraine

Andrey Stenin (Image by RIA Novosti)

Andrey Stenin (Image by RIA Novosti)

‘I’ll be home soon’: The life and work of Andrey Stenin (1980-2014)

 

Published time: September 03, 2014 08:36
Edited time: September 03, 2014 14:07

 

 
Photojournalist Andrey Stenin left for Ukraine on May 15, his mother Vera told RT after his disappearance in August. She said they last talked on the phone on July 17 – during that conversation her son said, “It’s close. I’ll be coming home soon.”

Vera Stenina had been trying for weeks to find her son, missing in war-torn eastern Ukraine. She told RT she had addressed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for help, and had urged Kiev to organize a search mission for the journalist.

“They said that they would try to look for him,” she said, adding that the Red Cross showed “understanding” of her problem.

Since Stenina was aware that “people are being tracked via their mobile phones” in Ukraine, she tried to use the internet to keep track of her son.

“I woke up in the morning and went online – to see if the photos were there, that everything was alright. That’s how I kept an eye on him, via the TV and internet,” she said.

Andrey Stenin was born in 1980 in the city of Pechora in northwestern Russia. He began his career at Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, where he was employed as a correspondent from 2003, and Gazeta.ru.

Russian Journalist Andrey Stenin kidnapped

Russian Journalist Andrey Stenin kidnapped

In 2008, Andrey took a professional interest in photography, and worked for such news media as Reuters, the Associated Press, Agence France Presse and Russia’s Itar-Tass, Kommersant and RIA Novosti.

“He is probably one of the most experienced Russian photojournalists, who has witnessed many wars. He has lived through Syria, Libya, Egypt and Kyrgyzstan. He was at numerous trouble spots, and he took pictures everywhere he went and sent really outstanding photographs, valued by various media,” political analyst Yury Matsarsky said on radio after news of Stenin’s disappearance broke in August.

Since 2009, Andrey Stenin had been employed as photo correspondent by RIA Novosti, which was transformed into Rossiya Segodnya international news agency in 2014.

Donetsk region update

In the course of his coverage, Stenin witnessed various emergencies, protests, trials and traveled into warzones. In 2010 and 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Russian Silver Camera.

Some of the photographer’s latest work

From the beginning of the Ukrainian coup, Stenin was at the center of it. He documented the events in Kiev’s Maidan Square in February, then the horrors of Odessa, the Crimean transition to Russia, and most lately the fierce fighting in parts of eastern Ukraine.

Rescue workers remove bodies of the dead and fragments of the Malaysian Boeing 777 airliner that crashed near the city of Shakhtyorsk in the Donetsk Region. Andrey Stenin/RIA Novosti

Rescue workers remove bodies of the dead and fragments of the Malaysian Boeing 777 airliner that crashed near the city of Shakhtyorsk in the Donetsk Region. Andrey Stenin/RIA Novosti

He sent photos of soldiers of the Ukrainian army captured by the armed militia, the horrific results of Ukrainian artillery shelling of militia-held cities and the crash site of the Malaysian Airlines plane that was downed over the Donetsk Region in July.

“Andrey was doing his job professionally: he covered both sides of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. His work was appreciated by colleagues and a wide audience, as it showed the world the sufferings of Ukraine and its people, no matter which side of the conflict they are,” Dmitry Kiselyov, general director of Rossiya Segodnya, said.

Malaysian Boeing crashes in Ukraine

Stenin went missing on August 5 as he was covering the Ukrainian army’s campaign against the anti-Kiev rebels in the country’s southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

His employers at Rossiya Segodnya said they had failed to obtain any information on their journalist from the Kiev authorities. In mid-August, an adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said that Stenin had been arrested by the Ukrainian Security Service for “aiding and glorifying terrorism.” However, he backtracked on that statement soon afterwards.

Urging the journalist’s release, a number of events in support of Andrey Stenin took place around the world in August.

Now a selection of Stenin’s recent work is on display in the street leading to the main entrance of the news agency’s building. At a press-conference, Stenin’s grieving colleagues spoke of him as a professional photojournalist, an excellent reporter and a reliable friend, who preferred hotspots to working in an office.

“Once I asked him: ‘Why do you go to war so often?’ He replied: ‘And why did you go so often – 28 times in Chechnya?’ I said that I went for one picture and then he replied: ‘I also go there to take pictures’,” photo correspondent, Vladimir Vyatkin, who has worked for RIA Novosti since 1968, recalled. “[His] photos are very professional, necessary for history, not just ours, but history in general. Sooner or later somebody will have to answer for the atrocities that are happening now in Ukraine, and his pictures will be visual documents. Andrey did it honestly, professionally, did it great,” he added.

His colleague, Vladimir Astapkovich, a photo correspondent, also stressed that Stenin was a person you felt secure with in difficult situations.

“Stenin was someone who would help you in a critical situation. I remember one of the first unauthorized rallies Moscow. The crowd, police, everyone is running, pushing. You run with everyone else. You get knocked off your feet, you almost fall. Suddenly, someone grabs you – Andrey. And then you run together. Short break… A cigarette… A quick chat and back to work,” Astapkovich recalled.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had hoped until the last minute that Stenin was alive and would return home to his relatives.

“We hoped that Andrey [Stenin] would return to his family and friends but bitter news dashed all these hopes. He performed his professional and human duty to the last. [He] did everything so that people, the whole world learnt the truth about the tragic events that are happening in Donetsk,” said Putin’s statement on the Kremlin website.

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev also expressed his condolences.

“It’s a terrible sorrow when the life of a young, talented man who is full of energy is taken in war. A war in which his only shots were photos! He wanted to bring us photos documenting the atrocities and injustice,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

RIP Andrey