A Russian priest just did an interesting blessing at Engels airbase near Saratov. It is common for them to bless weapons of war, so his blessing of a Tu-95 BEAR strategic bomber and crew was typical (Jesus apparently blessed weapons all the time…), but the added kick was that he had in tow a new icon of Mary looking over Stalin and his generals which was blessed using water from the Volga. This icon was commissioned by Russian writer and shameless lying Putin cheerleader Aleksandr Prokhanov. Some in the Russian Orthodox Church have criticized it (especially since Stalin virtually destroyed the clergy and churches until he needed them to boost his war effort), but the fact is, the government allowed this to happen in a very secure place. Engels is home to most of Russia’s strategic bomber fleet of Tu-95s and Tu-160 BLACKJACKs.
Putin’s usual sick psychological games came into play on 10 June when he arrived over 70 minutes late for meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican. This is usual for him, as he was 50 minutes late for his first meeting with the Pope in 2013, 14 minutes late to meet the Queen, left Secretary of State Kerry waiting over two hours for a scheduled meeting, left grieving air crash victims’ families waiting for hours at a cemetery in 2003, and most European leaders claim they have had long waits for an audience with the world’s self-anointed supreme ruler. Yet at the same time he is always on time for his numerous press conferences and other events of his own.
This is nothing but his sick character, and psychological game-playing. It is high time that the Pope, or any of the others he has played with, just blew him off and said to hell with meeting you. Disrespectful excuse for a person.
Oops, another flip-flop. Russia cannot keep its ‘versions’ straight, but never cared about the truth anyhow. After yesterday’s big presser and revelation by the maker of the SA-11 BUK system and several government newspapers in Russia claiming that a Ukrainian Army BUK-M1 definitely shot down MH-17 in July 2014, not an earlier version makes a reappearance. Russia’s infamous Investigative Committee now says the ‘key witness’ to the shoot-down, former Ukrainian Airforce mechanic Evgeniy Agapov, is safely under protection as a witness in Russia. He had claimed previously, per Russian TV, that he personally saw some Ukrainian Su-25 FROGFOOT ground attack airvcaft take off from an airfield near Dnipropetrovsk on 17 July, and the one of CPT Voloshin, which had air-to-air munitions, returned empty. Obviously, per the Russians, this means he had shot down MH-17.
Never mind that nothing in the story is plausible (as previously reported on this site), not to mention the simple fact once again that an Su-25 with weapons can only reach 5,000 metres–half the altitude of the Boeing shot down. BUK, Su-25, UFO. The fact that the Russian disinformation apparatus keeps changing its version totally (now daily!) makes them look like what they are–pathetic ridiculous bold-faced liars.
The crude nature of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign is becoming more laughable by the minute. The crude propaganda has now returned to the theory that a Ukrainian SA-11 (BUK) air defence missile shot it down. This comes after 10 months of multiple campaigns to show that a mystery Ukrainian Su-25 FROGFOOT ground attack aircraft somehow shot down Malaysian Flight MH-17 over Russian-held eastern Ukraine on 17 July last year (despite the fact that an Su-25 can only reach half the altitude of the Boeing), using either its 30mm cannon or a small air-to-air missile, and even producing a supposed US satellite photo (actually a badly faked doctored old Google Earth photo) in November allegedly and impossibly showing a mystery Ukrainian fighter (now an Su-27 FLANKER) actually firing its missile at the hapless 777. Given that those stupid propaganda pieces were totally discredited, the Kremlin has begun producing something even more ridiculous.
Today, 2 June, they let the SA-11 BUK system manufacturer Almaz-Antey hold a press conference releasing, as they said, previously classified information that was now allowed by the Russian Ministry of Defence. Again, a glitzy press conference spewing nothing but pure disinformation. They said their expert analysis of pictures of the holes in the fuselage show the shrapnel-produced holes were caused by the older 9M38(M1) missile used on the BUK-M1 system. They claimed that according to the Russian MOD, the Russian military no longer has that model, and only uses the newer 9M317 missiles (which have much smaller profile and shorter mid section fins than the older missiles) on the newer BUK-M2, which NATO assigns the designator SA-17, which has a slightly different warhead with different pre-cut shrapnel designs. Therefore, per the propaganda report, only the Ukrainians, who still possess the older BUK-M1, could have shot it down. End of briefing.
The only problem is, the Russian military still does have a lot of 9M38(M1) missiles and older BUK-M1 TELARs in its arsenal. Numerous photos of them from recent times have surfaced today, including the BUK-M1 that caught fire in the 9 May 2015 Victory Day parade in Chita (loaded with 9M38(M1) missiles, and Putin visiting the Russian 102nd Military Base in Armenia in December 2013, standing in front of a Russian Army BUK-M1 with 9M38(M1) missiles loaded.
As for the TELAR that shot down MH-17, it was part of a convoy of SA-11s from the Russian military’s 53rd Air Defence Missile Brigade based in Kursk, and was photographed and videoed by many Russians who uploaded the footage as the column headed south to the Ukrainian border in June 2014. This was convincingly proven by Bellingcat’s exhaustive investigation. That particular BUK-M1 TELAR (bort number 312) was then seen on video in Snezhne and nearby Torez in eastern Ukraine on a white heavy equipment transporter truck on 17 July, uploaded with four 9M38(M1) missiles. It was then seen early the next day, after the shoot-down, heading back on the same truck to the Russian border, but minus one missile. In Ukraine it had most of the bort number painted out, but unique markings and damage to the TELAR clearly show it was 312 from the 53rd Bde that had been heading toward Ukraine.
So the BUK that shot it down was clearly identified in Russia going to Ukraine, it was from the Russian 53rd Brigade, and it was a BUK-M1 carrying 9M38(M1) missiles. So the Russian propaganda machine was partially correct. It was this model that shot NH-17, but a Russian one—not Ukrainian.
One other piece of the Russian disinfo programme related to this was the release on 11 October by Russian disinformation site Kiber-Berkut of a leaked document signed by Ukrainian Colonel Zorin, Chief of the Ground Forces’ Air Defenses. This lays out how their analysis showed the damage was caused by a 9N314 warhead from a 9M38 missile from a BUK or BUK-M1. The Russian propagandists wanted to use this to show that it was an older model BUK, and also quotes the Russian MOD as saying that it only has BUK-M12s and BUK-M2s, and call Zorin the killer of 300 people. However, as noted, the MOD assertion that it has no older BUKs is a verifiable lie. Furthermore, if the Ukrainians allegedly knew they fired the BUK (which they did not), then why would the air defence chief be writing a report of his preliminary findings to higher HQ about the probable cause of the shoot-down? This is ridiculous. Russian disinformation specialists apparently have no clue what they are doing, and care nothing about getting even the smallest details right.
But certainly RT and a slew of Western conspiracy websites will be regurgitating the latest Russian BS.
On 26 May, 33 year-old Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza was hospitalised in grave condition from probable poisoning. The official diagnosis has been non-alcoholic intoxication of two substances, though those substances have not been disclosed by the hospital, and have essentially largely shut down most of his major organs, leaving him on life support. He had been a close associate of Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered in the shadow of the Kremlin on 27 February (and the vast array of surveillance cameras there incredibly were all turned off and police took 13 minutes to respond), and Kara-Murza is a top leader of Open Russia, a Khodorkovskiy-founded opposition movement. He has also been a successful opposition journalist and is a Cambridge graduate, and most recently was instrumental in finishing and releasing Nemtsov’s last project outlining Russia being behind the war in eastern Ukraine. He also must be considered dangerous by Putin, who seems to have found his niche as a serial poisoner (as well as run-of-the-mill murderer).
Kara-Murza’s wife and others have called for him to be sent abroad for medical help, though the hospital head doctor will not allow it, and he also refuses to send results of the medical tests or samples abroad to be tested and examined. Somebody is hiding something, as it would seem the hospital would want to get as much help as it could in tracking down this mystery poisoning.
This is just the latest in a long line of killings or attempted killings by the Kremlin, with Putin going out of his way to silence any critics, not matter how small they may be. On his watch about 200 Russian journalists have been killed or murdered, with most having been opposition and being murdered under suspect circumstances. Others murdered have been KGB/FSB defectors who were spilling the beans on Putin’s dirty work, or writers exposing such deeds. Oddly, street hooligans do not seem to murder reporters for Russian state TV or newspaper outlets—only opposition. Pure chance, we are supposed to believe.
Some of the most notable murders and attempts:
Boris Nemtsov (in the shadow of the Kremlin on 27 Feb 2015)
Yuriy Shchekochikhin, a liberal journalist and lawmaker murdered by an unknown poison in July 2003 just days before he was to have flown to the US to meet with the FBI. This was related to his investigations into the Putin/FSB bombings of apartment buildings throughout Russia in 1999 which led to Putin’s rise to power (which left 293 people dead). His medical records were classified by Russian authorities.
Anna Politkovskaya, the liberal journalist and writer who was a thorn in the side of Putin for investigating his Chechen war and other wrongdoings, murdered at her apartment elevator in October 2006. Some Chechens arrested later were acquitted in 2009. Two years before her death she was also taken violently ill all of a sudden, but recovered. It is widely believed in the opposition that this was a poisoning attempt.
Aleksandr Litvinenko, former KGB/FSB officer, murdered in London in November 2006 when Polonium-210 was slipped into his tea by Andrei Lugovoy, another FSB agent, now protected and feted by the Kremlin, and a member of the Duma. Litvinenko had also been instrumental in collecting and reporting information on the 199 apartment bombings that brought Putin to power. It apparently did not mattered whatsoever to Putin that Litvinenko had become a British citizen.
Putin seems to have taken a liking to having his troublemakers murdered using exotic poisons, either from having watched too many Bond films or more likely, by reaching back into the KGB files.
After all, Bulgarian intelligence, using equipment made for them by the KGB according to top KGB defectors Oleg Gordievsky and Oleg Kalugin, murdered Georgi Markov, a dissident working for BBC and Radio Free Europe in September 1978. The murderer used a special umbrella to shoot a tiny pellet of ricin poison into his leg as he waited for a bus on Waterloo Bridge in London.
Ten days earlier in Paris an identical pellet was injected into another Bulgarian dissident, Vladimir Kostov, in a Paris metro station, but he survived.
Naturally the most high-visibility attempt (though involving a gun, and not poisons), was the attempt in 1981 on Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Ağca had been hired for plausible deniability by Bulgarian intelligence, even having direct contact with the Bulgarian Defence Attache in Rome. This was due to the Polish Pope being a danger to the Soviet empire due to his support for the new Solidarity movement. Naturally the Bulgarians could not have cared less about the Pope, but were operating on behalf of the KGB, which most certainly was concerned and had its vassals do its dirty work with third country hirelings.
Putin seems to excel at this, and will continue to kill his enemies, not matter how big or small. Like Stalin, he can see anyone as a potential threat to his power, and will find the most hideous means to have them eliminated. Putin should be shunned, and made PNG throughout the world, but most governments will not call him out. In fact most still perpetuate the fairy tale of ‘pro-Russian separatists’ being the main force in eastern Ukraine, instead of calling it what it is—the Russian Army and Russian government mercenary forces.
The piece of Russian disinformation below showed up on 26 May in the main Yahoo News stories, as a story put out by the usually more balanced Peak Oil website. It was actually a rerun of a recent article from New Eastern Outlook, which lists a Moscow address and has nothing but anti-US anti-West articles in it. The article in question is called ‘What if Putin is telling the truth?’ and is filled with so many fabricated ‘facts’ that it is hard to figure out where to start. The article is from F. William Engdahl, a pro-Russian conspiratorial wacko who writes for many pro-Russian outlets, including Michel Chossudovsky’s Global Research in Montreal, which is perhaps the main Active Measures proliferator on the planet, and is dangerous in that it masquerades as a legitimate academic site and is all too often quoted by uni students who cannot take two minutes to do some basic fact checking. Engdahl also masquerades as an expert on many things, including as an ‘expert’ on oil who believes it is not biological in nature, but made by geology alone. He bills himself also as a strategic risk consultant (God help any companies that take his advice), and naturally is a feature on Moscow’s RT disinformation network. This article of his has naturally been picked up by all the regular conspiratorial and anti-US blogs and websites, but also by more reputable ones, which apparently have not bothered to do a basic fact check.
It is not that his article has a few factually incorrect pieces to it (which can be expected in just about any article written). It is that the article is based on a major lie as its premise, and he supports it with nothing but bold-faced lies and fabricated quotes. It is more cheap Russian propaganda, but a lot of people will believe this crap.
Here is Engdahl’s article, ‘What if Putin is telling the truth’, dissected and corrected. There are a LOT of corrections (in Bold).
On April 26 Russia’s main national TV station, Rossiya 1, featured President Vladimir Putin in a documentary to the Russian people on the events of the recent period including the annexation of Crimea, the US coup d’etat in Ukraine, and the general state of relations with the United States and the EU. His words were frank. And in the middle of his remarks the Russian former KGB chief dropped a political bombshell that was known by Russian intelligence two decades ago.
Putin stated bluntly that in his view the West would only be content in having a Russia weak, suffering and begging from the West, something clearly the Russian character is not disposed to. Then a short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations.
Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details. [This is all false, building on false accusations made many times before about the Georgians, who supposedly were doing the same, though the Russians never provided a shred of evidence.]
What Putin, an intelligence professional of the highest order [well, according to some co-workers in the KGB he was far from that], only hinted at in his remarks, I have documented in detail from non-Russian sources. The report has enormous implications to reveal to the world the long-standing hidden agenda of influential circles in Washington to destroy Russia as a functioning sovereign state, an agenda which includes the neo-nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine [the basic Kremlin disinfo line about 'Ukrainian Nazis and coups'] and severe financial sanction warfare against Moscow. The following is drawn on my book, “The Lost Hegemon” to be published soon…
CIA’s Chechen Wars
Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space. [Ludicrous. The Afghanis stayed where they were, and the CIA, like the whole US Government I was working in, was gearing to the ‘peace dividend’ and redirecting intel toward possibly economic endeavours. In fact, the fall of the USSR was NOT even the desired US or NATO outcome in 1991—a reformed USSR was.]
They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden. [A very old unsubstantiated lie. Actually the CIA never had any dealings with UBL because he was an Arab who did not even speak the local languages, and had no ‘street cred’ there in Afghanistan.]
With the former Soviet Union in total chaos and disarray, George H.W. Bush’s Administration decided to “kick ‘em when they’re down,” a sad error. Washington redeployed their Afghan veteran terrorists to bring chaos and destabilize all of Central Asia, even into the Russian Federation itself, then in a deep and traumatic crisis during the economic collapse of the Yeltsin era. [This is unsubstantiated bull, as once again, the US did not even want the USSR to collapse as it did.]
In the early 1990s, Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, had surveyed the offshore oil potentials of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the entire Caspian Sea Basin. They estimated the region to be “another Saudi Arabia” worth several trillion dollars on today’s market. The US and UK were determined to keep that oil bonanza from Russian control by all means. The first target of Washington was to stage a coup in Azerbaijan against elected president Abulfaz Elchibey to install a President more friendly to a US-controlled Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, “the world’s most political pipeline,” bringing Baku oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean. [There are so many blatant lies here which have to be set straight, since I have been intimately involved in Azerbaijan and involved in the oil and gas aspects of the Caspian for some 15 years. Firstly, Halliburton was an oilfield services company operating in Baku, rather modestly. The huge potential reserves of the Caspian had been known since Soviet times, but there were no good outlets. Elchibey was ousted in a coup by former Soviet Politburo member and Soviet Azeri First Secretary Heydar Aliyev in June 1993, because his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh war was pitiful. This has NOTHING to do with the BTC pipeline, which was not even first considered as an option until a year after Heydar took power, was not formalized until 2002, and not under construction until 2003. ]
At that time, the only existing oil pipeline from Baku was a Soviet era Russian pipeline that ran through the Chechen capital, Grozny, taking Baku oil north via Russia’s Dagestan province, and across Chechenya to the Black Sea Russian port of Novorossiysk. The pipeline was the only competition and major obstacle to the very costly alternative route of Washington and the British and US oil majors. [The Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline was hardly a competitor to the future BTC. It has only a capacity of a couple hundred thousand barrels per day and was always plagued by Russian inefficiency, whereas BTC was built for moving one million barrels per day of new oil. Azerbaijan’s SOCAR state oil company has always been providing oil for the Baku-Novo pipeline up into Russia. BP also even considered for a couple of years the possibility of running a pipeline south from Baku through Iran and to the Persian Gulf, because Caucasus instability made Iran look like a more stable option.]
President Bush Sr. gave his old friends at CIA the mandate to destroy that Russian Chechen pipeline and create such chaos in the Caucasus that no Western or Russian company would consider using the Grozny Russian oil pipeline. [Nobody would want to use that small pipeline, as stated, and Azerbaijan WAS and IS providing oil for it. The Bush-CIA action plan on this is pure fantasy.]
Graham E. Fuller, an old colleague of Bush and former Deputy Director of the CIA National Council on Intelligence had been a key architect of the CIA Mujahideen strategy. Fuller described the CIA strategy in the Caucasus in the early 1990s: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power.” [Fuller exists, but there is no reference found to this alleged quote of his except in this article and in various Russian government friendly and fringe political conspiracy blogs. False ‘fact’. Also, a learned CIA analyst would not refer to the Soviet forces in Afghanistan as the ‘Red Army’. Pure fabrication.]
The CIA used a dirty tricks veteran, General Richard Secord, for the operation. Secord created a CIA front company, MEGA Oil. Secord had been convicted in the 1980s for his central role in the CIA’s Iran-Contra illegal arms and drugs operations.
In 1991 Secord, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, landed in Baku and set up the CIA front company, MEGA Oil. He was a veteran of the CIA covert opium operations in Laos during the Vietnam War. In Azerbaijan, he setup an airline to secretly fly hundreds of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda Mujahideen from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan. By 1993, MEGA Oil had recruited and armed 2,000 Mujahideen, converting Baku into a base for Caucasus-wide Mujahideen terrorist operations. [Azerbaijan did for a short while fly some Afghanis Muj into Azerbaijan around this time to be experienced fighters against the Armenians in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, but after just weeks were disillusioned with them and their religiosity, which ran counter to the secular attitudes of the Azeris, and they sent them back home. They were not brought in by the US to fight Russian in the North Caucasus. In any case, until 25 December 1991, it was still the USSR. On another note, I worked many years on security issues in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan in particular, and have never heard of MEGA Oil anywhere except in this article and in associated conspiracy blogs.]
General Secord’s covert Mujahideen operation in the Caucasus initiated the military coup that toppled elected president Abulfaz Elchibey that year and installed Heydar Aliyev, a more pliable US puppet. A secret Turkish intelligence report leaked to the Sunday Times of London confirmed that “two petrol giants, BP and Amoco, British and American respectively, which together form the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium), are behind the coup d’état.” [As noted, this is pure bullshit, for lack of a better word. Heyday Aliyev was far from a US puppet, he did not come to power until 93, as opposed to this supposed 1991 Secord operation, and AIOC was not formed until a year after Heydar came to power, though AIOC did in fact include BP and Amoco amongst many other companies from other countries, including Russia’s Lukoil.]
Saudi Intelligence head, Turki al-Faisal, arranged that his agent, Osama bin Laden, whom he had sent to Afghanistan at the start of the Afghan war in the early 1980s, would use his Afghan organization Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) to recruit “Afghan Arabs” for what was rapidly becoming a global Jihad. Bin Laden’s mercenaries were used as shock troops by the Pentagon and CIA to coordinate and support Muslim offensives not only Azerbaijan but also in Chechnya and, later, Bosnia. [Unsubstantiated crap. CIA and the ‘Pentagon’ had no dealings ever with UBL, except to kill him.]
Bin Laden brought in another Saudi, Ibn al-Khattab, to become Commander, or Emir of Jihadist Mujahideen in Chechnya (sic!) together with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. No matter that Ibn al-Khattab was a Saudi Arab who spoke barely a word of Chechen, let alone, Russian. He knew what Russian soldiers looked like and how to kill them. [Actually Khattab was Jordanian and was supported by various mullahs in Saudi, though UBL may have given his blessing.]
Chechnya then was traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, a mild apolitical branch of Islam. Yet the increasing infiltration of the well-financed and well-trained US-sponsored Mujahideen terrorists preaching Jihad or Holy War against Russians transformed the initially reformist Chechen resistance movement. They spread al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology across the Caucasus. Under Secord’s guidance, Mujahideen terrorist operations had also quickly extended into neighboring Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia. [Having dealt with Azerbaijan professionally, this is utter crap. This alleged Secord operation to destabilize Chechnya via Baku was supposed to have happened after 91, though the second ‘religious’ Chechen War did not start until 1999. The allegations of Afghan heroin transiting Baku to Chechnya are not based on fact, as most Afghan heroin has gone through Central Asia into Russia.]
From the mid-1990s, bin Laden paid Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab the handsome sum of several million dollars per month, a King’s fortune in economically desolate Chechnya in the 1990s, enabling them to sideline the moderate Chechen majority. US intelligence remained deeply involved in the Chechen conflict until the end of the 1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in “yet another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces.” [Again, the alleged quote from Bodansky cannot be found anywhere except in this article and repeats of it in conspiratorial blogs, and runs contrary to his way of speaking. Basayev was somewhat active in the first Chechen War in the mid 1990s, but in an essentially secular mode, whereas Khattab did not show up there till the late 1990s before the second war. Facts.]
Bodansky revealed the entire CIA Caucasus strategy in detail in his report, stating that US Government officials participated in,
“a formal meeting in Azerbaijan in December 1999 in which specific programs for the training and equipping of Mujahideen from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon, culminating in Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US ‘private security companies’. . . to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing Jihad for a long time…Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism.” [Again, there seem to be no references anywhere to this alleged quote, or to any parts of it, except in this original article and a large number of conspiratorial blogs which have re-barfed it. It is, like the rest of this article, pure fiction.]
The most intense phase of the Chechen wars wound down in 2000 only after heavy Russian military action defeated the Islamists. It was a pyrrhic victory, costing a massive toll in human life and destruction of entire cities. The exact death toll from the CIA-instigated Chechen conflict is unknown. Unofficial estimates ranged from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians. Russian casualties were near 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers. [Actually the second war, which Putin instigated in late 1999 with his FSB apartment bombings in various Russian cities, did not wind down until 2009—quite a few years after 2000. It was not CIA-instigated by any means, and estimates of dead, which include mostly civilians subject to Russian military bombardments and sweeps which took out entire villages, range generally to over 100,000.]
The Anglo-American oil majors and the CIA’s operatives were happy. They had what they wanted: their Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline, bypassing Russia’s Grozny pipeline. [Again, BTC had nothing to do with the wars in Chechnya, which were a purely Russian affair, though there were a lot of foreign jihadists in the second one—not recruited by the US, which as you may remember, had been actively fighting against related jihadists after September 2001.]
The Chechen Jihadists, under the Islamic command of Shamil Basayev, continued guerrilla attacks in and outside Chechnya. The CIA had refocused into the Caucasus.
Basayev’s Saudi Connection
Basayev was a key part of the CIA’s Global Jihad. In 1992, he met Saudi terrorist Ibn al-Khattag in Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan, Ibn al-Khattab brought Basayev to Afghanistan to meet al-Khattab’s ally, fellow-Saudi Osama bin Laden. Ibn al-Khattab’s role was to recruit Chechen Muslims willing to wage Jihad against Russian forces in Chechnya on behalf of the covert CIA strategy of destabilizing post-Soviet Russia and securing British-US control over Caspian energy. [Actually Basayev was fighting in 1992 and 1993 in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region in a North Caucasus militia group allied with the Russian military, actively fighting against Georgians. This, even though in 1991 he and some other Chechens had hijacked an airliner. There is a mountain of evidence that Basayev was recruited by the Russian GRU after the hijacking and cooperated with it while fighting against Georgia. Like so many others in the region, he later defected and turned on his masters.]
Once back in Chechnya, Basayev and al-Khattab created the International Islamic Brigade (IIB) with Saudi Intelligence money, approved by the CIA and coordinated through the liaison of Saudi Washington Ambassador and Bush family intimate Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Bandar, Saudi Washington Ambassador for more than two decades, was so intimate with the Bush family that George W. Bush referred to the playboy Saudi Ambassador as “Bandar Bush,” a kind of honorary family member. [Not a shred of proof that this group had any CIA backing, and is again illogical given the US being busy fighting against these people post 9/11.]
Basayev and al-Khattab imported fighters from the Saudi fanatical Wahhabite strain of Sunni Islam into Chechnya. Ibn al-Khattab commanded what were called the “Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya,” his own private army of Arabs, Turks, and other foreign fighters. He was also commissioned to set up paramilitary training camps in the Caucasus Mountains of Chechnya that trained Chechens and Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and from Central Asia. [This is actually the very first factual paragraph. Amazing.]
The Saudi and CIA-financed Islamic International Brigade was responsible not only for terror in Chechnya. They carried out the October 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theatre hostage seizure and the gruesome September 2004 Beslan school massacre. In 2010, the UN Security Council published the following report on al-Khattab and Basayev’s International Islamic Brigade:
Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was listed on 4 March 2003. . . as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” Al-Qaida. . . The Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was founded and led by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased) and is linked to the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM). . . and the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR). . .
On the evening of 23 October 2002, members of IIB, RSRSBCM and SPIR operated jointly to seize over 800 hostages at Moscow’s Podshipnikov Zavod (Dubrovka) Theater.
In October 1999, emissaries of Basayev and Al-Khattab traveled to Usama bin Laden’s home base in the Afghan province of Kandahar, where Bin Laden agreed to provide substantial military assistance and financial aid, including by making arrangements to send to Chechnya several hundred fighters to fight against Russian troops and perpetrate acts of terrorism. Later that year, Bin Laden sent substantial amounts of money to Basayev, Movsar Barayev (leader of SPIR) and Al-Khattab, which was to be used exclusively for training gunmen, recruiting mercenaries and buying ammunition. [Again a factual paragraph quoting a UNSC article that actually exists, though has nothing to do with the allegations in this pro-Russian disinformation piece about the US being behind Caucasus destabilization.]
The Afghan-Caucasus Al Qaeda “terrorist railway,” financed by Saudi intelligence, had two goals. One was a Saudi goal to spread fanatical Wahhabite Jihad into the Central Asian region of the former Soviet Union. The second was the CIA’s agenda of destabilizing a then-collapsing post-Soviet Russian Federation. [Again the baseless CIA allegation.]
On September 1, 2004, armed terrorists from Basayev and al-Khattab’s IIB took more than 1,100 people as hostages in a siege that included 777 children, and forced them into School Number One (SNO) in Beslan in North Ossetia, the autonomous republic in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation near to the Georgia border.
On the third day of the hostage crisis, as explosions were heard inside the school, FSB and other elite Russian troops stormed the building. In the end, at least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children, with a significant number of people injured and reported missing. It became clear afterward that the Russian forces had handled the intervention poorly. [Factual.]
The Washington propaganda machine, from Radio Free Europe to The New York Times and CNN, wasted no time demonizing Putin and Russia for their bad handling of the Beslan crisis rather than focus on the links of Basayev to Al Qaeda and Saudi intelligence. That would have brought the world’s attention to the intimate relations between the family of then US President George W. Bush and the Saudi billionaire bin Laden family. [The typical Russian accusation that the US media belong to the US Government. RFE does, but is a thousand times more objective than any Russian news outlet will ever be. Also, I remember plenty of US and European news outlets reporting on the horrors of AQ and Basayev during the crisis. Russian state TV, which I watch, also naturally reported on that aspect, but also said in the hours after the storming that only a few people had been killed, while the ‘unreliable US propaganda channels’ were reporting on the truly staggering death toll.]
On September 1, 2001, just ten days before the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, Saudi Intelligence head US-educated Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who had directed Saudi Intelligence since 1977, including through the entire Osama bin Laden Mujahideen operation in Afghanistan and into the Caucasus, abruptly and inexplicably resigned, just days after having accepted a new term as intelligence head from his King. He gave no explanation. He was quickly reposted to London, away from Washington. [Posted from Saudi to London to avoid Washington?]
The record of the bin Laden-Bush family intimate ties was buried, in fact entirely deleted on “national security” (sic!) grounds in the official US Commission Report on 911. The Saudi background of fourteen of the nineteen alleged 911 terrorists in New York and Washington was also deleted from the US Government’s final 911 Commission report, released only in July 2004 by the Bush Administration, almost three years after the events. [Same allegations that have been around in conspiracy ‘Truther’ sites since 9/11. And the Commission report most certainly did mention that the hijackers were Saudi nationals.]
Basayev claimed credit for having sent the terrorists to Beslan. His demands had included the complete independence of Chechnya from Russia, something that would have given Washington and the Pentagon an enormous strategic dagger in the southern underbelly of the Russian Federation. [Nothing to do with Washington—since the first 1994 Chechen War this had been the goal of the Chechens.]
By late 2004, in the aftermath of the tragic Beslan drama, President Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered a secret search and destroy mission by Russian intelligence to hunt and kill key leaders of the Caucasus Mujahideen of Basayev. Al-Khattab had been killed in 2002. The Russian security forces soon discovered that most of the Chechen Afghan Arab terrorists had fled. They had gotten safe haven in Turkey, a NATO member; in Azerbaijan, by then almost a NATO Member; or in Germany, a NATO Member; or in Dubai–one of the closest US Allies in the Arab States, and Qatar-another very close US ally. In other words, the Chechen terrorists were given NATO safe haven. [This is pure bullshit. There were foreign fighters still in Chechnya until 2009, and the reason most left in the mid 2000s was because they migrated to the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they could try to kill Americans and Brits. Possibly a few went to Turkey or to European countries, since some had been from those countries in the first place, just as now there are some radicalized Muslims from Europe who have gone to fight in Syria. This all has absolutely nothing to do with NATO, or the US.]
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/05/15/what-if-putin-is-telling-the-truth/
It is incomprehensible how anyone (especially Western officials) can keep letting Putin off the hook with regards to Ukraine, when the evidence of direct Russian military operations there is beyond question.
The latest was the shoot-down on 20 May by Ukrainian forces of a Russian military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (called drones incorrectly by many) near Peski, west of Donetsk airport on the line of contact. While they have previously bagged some small tactical UAVs, this was a large 8.5 metre wingspan Forpost UAV–the newest in the Russian military arsenal. These have only been in service since early 2014 with the Russian army, and they only have (or rather had) 11 of them in service. They are actually a Russian-made version of the Israeli Searcher II UAV, being made under license, produced at the Ural Civil Aviation Works. The wreckage is most definitely a Forpost, complete with the data plates from Ural and from some Israeli components such as antennas. The UAV was reportedly equipped with multiple GPS units to probably enable it to return on autopilot in case of loss of signal–barring a shoot-down that is.
Operational radius is 250 kilometres, so these have easily been flown in across the border from Russia, giving some plausible deniability. However, having one get shot down removes that deniability. These are aircraft flown by pilots on the ground, which is not something a ‘Donbas separatist volunteer’ would be capable of doing, much less Russia trusting some Rambo locals with their most current $6 million recce asset. These are nearly as new as the smaller tactical Granat-4 UAV which was shot down by Ukraine in November last year. Similarly, those had only been in service with the Russian Army since late 2013.
Such large UAVs have been noted previously flying regularly over Ukraine, and in particular over the line of contact, where they are probably doing recce of Ukrainian positions. Naturally, in conjunction with the Russian invasion of that part of Ukraine, this is just another violation of sovereignty, and of course will be denied by Moscow, despite the rather large $6 million piece of mangled wreckage.
On 16 May, two Russian Army Spetsnaz soldiers from the GRU’s 3rd Spetsnaz Brigade based out of Tolyatti (Samara) on the Volga River were wounded in a shoot-out at a power plant in Schastya, Luhansk region, Russian-occupied Ukraine. The two were captured by Ukraine’s 92nd Brigade. One soldier was carrying a Vintorez silenced sniper rifle (a specifically Russian Spetsnaz special piece of kit), while the other had lost or ditched his weapon. True to the propaganda Putin’s apparatus dishes out, they refused to be sedated when getting medical treatment because they believed the Ukrainians wanted to harvest their kidneys for selling wherever. Both are now in a Kyiv hospital, with their kidneys, and a Red Cross visit is being set up.
The sergeant, Aleksandr Anatolevich Aleksandrov, later told an interviewer from his hospital bed that he was part of a 14-person recon group scouting the front lines, and was under the command of the other prisoner, Captain Evgeniy Vladimirovich Erofeev, and that the teams on the front rotated about every four days with others out of Luhansk (where there were some 6-8 such groups. The Groups he refers to are specific to Spetsnaz organisation.
Their status is unclear, given that like the other Russian regular forces and mercenaries operating in Donbas, they wear no insignia, and the Russian government is as usual claiming that they are not Russian military.
The disinfo effort began almost immediately. Russian presidential spokesman Peskov as usual denied there are any Russian military in Ukraine, while the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the People’s Militia stated in a news conference that the two were actually new soldier volunteers in his command, and as usual, standing the truth on its head, said they were captured by a Ukrainian Special Forces unit (not that they themselves were special forces). To prove who the soldiers were, they then produced their military ID booklets issued by Luhansk, signed by the Chief of the Cadre Department, V/Ch (military unit) L-77077. The IDs were issued allegedly in Jan and Feb 2015, and had both assigned to V/Ch L-55055. The fact that both made-up units had the same pattern of field post numbers (this is not how it is done) loudly says ‘fake’. Interestingly, though, the captain’s position is ‘Group Commander’ and the sergeant’s is ‘Section Commander’. Both are standard Spetsnaz subunit designatoins, and match what the sergeant said in the video. In both ID documents, the soldiers’ pictures show them in the tell-tale telnyashka stripy t-shirt favored by Spetsnaz and other special units. Both of the ID booklets are not signed by the bearers. Furthermore they are both brand new, and for some odd reason, the ID booklets were in the custody of the ‘LNR’ government instead of being with the soldiers they belonged to. But Russian blatant disinformation efforts and forgeries never need to be explained, as usual. Many idiots will believe them because they produced some improbable documents with numerous errors.
Of note, the press conference and the revelation of the ID booklets was made by the Russian government-linked ultranationalist website Russkaya Vesna, which tellingly uses the web digraph ‘su’ instead of ‘ru’—that is, Soviet Union vice Russia.
In sum, this is just the latest in a mountain of evidence that Russian regular forces continue to operate in eastern Ukraine. As usual, the Russian government is immediately resorting to cheap denials and disinformation to try to show they are not Russian soldiers, and it has disowned them, as Russia has not acknowledged the many hundreds of their soldiers killed in Ukraine and then buried in secret, with families getting usually nothing.
The difference between Putin and Hitler? At least Hitler admitted when he was fighting a war of conquest. Putin does not reach even that lowly standard.
More of the usual Fascistic leader worship. Yesterday in Sochi, Putin (who skates and shoots like a total beginner, to put it nicely), played in a game with Russian NHL players on a team called NHL Stars in an 18-6 “victory” over Team NHL (which included the likes of Pavel Bure), and amazingly scored 8 goals. In a leader love exhibition worthy of Kim Jong-un, he was totally left in the open in front of the net and constantly fed the puck to pull off his amazing feat.
Surely he is the best player to ever hit the ice! Gretzky, move over!
The shameless nature of Putin’s fascism really showed itself yesterday. Everything was over the top, and much of it fake. First he had his giant military parade, to which countless Russians on social media are gushing with sentiments about how great Russia is, and how everyone now fears Russia so much. Of course this is a typically Russian trait—confusing respect and fear.
During the parade, attended by a number of mainly authoritarian and dictatorial world leaders who are understanding of Putin’s ways, a number of veterans were seen in the stands, including one next to Putin’s biker buddy ‘Xirurg’ Zaldostanov, wearing medals they could not possibly have won, adding to the fakeness of everything. This was seen even more in Donbas, where the invader leaders watched a large military parade that was in clear violation of the Minsk Agreement. In that parade, amazingly the nice clean vehicles ranging from T-72B tanks to BMP-2s to Strela-10 (SA-13) air defence systems all sported amazingly exactly the same large St George (Colorado) ribbon with stylised red and white star. This banner was used on the vehicles in Moscow, but not in the regional parades in Russia, but amazingly all the vehicles in Donetsk sported this Russian Defence Ministry banner. This is another way of Putin giving the finger to to world by showing that it is indeed his people fighting there. The very good parade roadmarch discipline also indicates these were not some local coal miners who happened to learn to drive a BMP.
Speaking of coal miners, the parade was overseen by ‘DNR’ head Zakharchenko, wearing a Russian dress uniform full of medals and complete with colonel epaulettes. Not bad for a guy who was a coal mine electrician just over a year earlier. Making rank and medals seems quick in Donbas. His sidekick, Spartak Battalion commander Arseny Pavlov (Motorola), who recently said in a radio interview that he summarily murdered 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war just because he felt like it, was lurking around holding a huge dagger and looking ridiculous in his dress combat uniform with lieutenant colonel epaulettes and weighted down with medals including Hero of Donetsk and others including 4th Class Order of St George (given in Russia for senior officers who conduct military operations to protect the Motherland), the 4th Class Cross of St George (given to soldiers, sergeants, and junior officers who show distinction in battle for the defence of the Motherland), and apparently the medal for Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War (given only to participants). Funny, he doesn’t look that old. Seems like just a year earlier he was working at a Rostov car wash getting in trouble with the police there for taking a car on a drunken joyride. Again, making rank is fast when you are one of Putin’s useful idiots.
Next after the main parade, Putin took part in the Moscow march of the ‘Immortal Regiment’. These marches took place all around Russia and brought out millions who were to carry pictures of their relatives who fought in WW-II. The Moscow march was about 500,000. Putin was interviewed on the night of 9 May on Rossiya state TV, where he shamelessly said that he had not known about the marches, but just happened to come across the one in Moscow and decided on the spot to take part. Another bold-faced lie from the top liar. Spontaneously he just happened to have a sign on a pole with his father’s wartime photo on it, in a navy uniform and with the name nicely stenciled on the bordered sign. Not unlike most of the photos carried by participants of their supposed relatives. Most were of a couple of designs with the same size, borders, print, and on the same sticks. Granted, there were some participants who had clearly taken photos off the shelves at home and were carrying them, but most were the mass-produced ones on poles. And after the march broke up, stacks of these were seen near Tverskaya metro station and elsewhere in Moscow, tossed into piles by their ‘relatives’ who obviously had no need anymore for the sacred portraits. Indeed, some trash dumpsters were also seen afterwards full of the St George ribbons. Appears to have been a lot of mandatory participation and a lot of fake war hero relatives amongst the real ones. Just more fakery. Also, cynically, the very name of the Immortal Regiment seems to have been lifted form the Ukrainians on Maidan who coined the term ‘Heavenly Hundred’ (Nebesna Sotnya) after the roughly hundred demonstrators who were murdered by the Russian-backed Yanukovych regime through February 2014.
Lastly, Russian TV network RBK posted a story of the visit to the parade of UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon, and probably totally fabricating what he supposedly told to Putin in a meeting in the Kremlin. The verbiage was repeated on the page of the Russian President, but the RT/Ruptly video of the meeting cuts off right after Ban’s introductory words in Russian. According to the network and the Kremlin, Ban said, ‘Today I was pleased to see the proud faces of the people who participated in the event – not only soldiers but also ordinary people, viewers – and to see their commitment to peace. So I would like to congratulate you on this event on this achievement.’ He supposedly added that, in his opinion, Putin earned the love of the people, and RBK said that the UN Secretary General saw the pride on the faces of people when they welcomed the Russian government. He supposedly continued that ‘After the parade, in the streets were hundreds of thousands of people. At first I thought they were demonstrating against your government, but I realized that, on the contrary, they welcomed your government. I saw that they did it with pride, and saw it in their faces. They waved their hands to us, when the UN delegation passed by them, which I thought was also very nice. So I really think that you deserve this love of the people’.
If the UN Secretary General actually said these things, he is sick and delusional and cannot tell fakery from the truth. However, more likely is that this is more blatant fakery, and attributing such sentiments, which are the height of Fascism (the people gushing with love for the beloved great leader who is in the process of invading a neighbour) to the UN Secretary General, is a new low. This is Fascism 101.
But anyhow, nothing says ‘we defeated Fascism’ better than a massive military parade complete with thousands of goosestepping troops.
There can be no doubt that Putin has built a state that now resembles a fascist one worthy of Mussolini’s 1932 definition. He is the supreme power and the people must do what is expected of them. Their purpose is to serve the state, and like Louis XIV, the state is he. Dissonance is not permitted, including, of course, in the run-up to Putin’s personal Victory Day parade today (9 May). It was his personal glorification of the war victory meant to rally the people more than ever around his brand of sickly excessive nationalism (which has led to things like invading and annexing parts of unruly neighbours it considers its own).
An exhibition in a small cellar art gallery was raided yesterday and the artist arrested and taken away. The ostensibly private REN TV channel (which is now actually controlled almost entirely by Putin loyalists and toes the line) had publicized the exhibition there, leading to a raid by the MVD’s Centre for Combating Extremism and Terrorism. The ‘crime’ by artist Oleg Basov was to exhibit some pieces of work that did not conform to the patriotic norm. His pictures and exhibits extensively used the orange and black St George ribbon (originally from the 18th century, but then used as a symbol for victory in the Great Patriotic War, and tainted more recently as the symbol of occupation and invasion of Ukraine) in ways calling into question the unbridled nationalism Putin has released. One showed a meat grinder with toy Nazi and Soviet soldiers being fed into it and George ribbons coming out. Given Soviet tactics in the war which wasted ‘worthless’ soldiers, and in keeping with the English term of a meat grinder, this has some relevance. But in Putin’s world this is ‘extremism’ and has to be dealt with. Lawyer Aleksey Domnikov was present and filmed a lot of the MVD interaction at the gallery, and the arrest of the artist.
REN TV’s story banner on the raid read very Putonian nationalistically: ‘On the initiative of REN TV, the exhibition-provocation was liquidated’. This is as Orwellian as it gets.
So anyone who thinks differently and does not agree with the state line, is an extremist and will be punished. Regardless of worthless constitutional guarantees. Welcome to Rome 1932, Berlin 1937, and Moscow 2015. Victory over Fascism?
During one of the rehearsals on 7 May for today’s Victory Day parade in Moscow, one of the eight highly praised T-14 Armata supertanks (supposedly a rival to the Abrams) being shown for the first time broke down in front of the reviewing stand. Even a BREhM-1 recovery vehicle could not budge it, and actually spun its tracks trying to move the thing.
Defence Minister Shoigu in his dress uniform even came out to supervise (a job that typicallyy a sergeant would accomplish in a normal army), and eventually a specialist from the producer, Uralvagonzavod was able to start it and limp it away. At the actual parade today they rearranged the order and there were, surprise surprise, only 7 Armatas. There must have been some kind of catastrophic failure, and this also indicates they had no spares. Certainly in Putin’s Russian conspiratorial world, GOSDEP must have been behind it…
But today the actual parade came off without any major problems. Putin and his visitors, mainly CIS and world authoritarians and dictators like Mugabe, watched his version of Russian imperial greatness excess as his military leaders prepare for deeper assaults on ‘fraternal’ Ukraine.
Less successful was the parade in far eastern Chita, where one of the SA-11 BUK TELARS caught on fire. Too bad it was not TELAR 312 from the 53rd AD Missile Brigade in Kursk, which shot down MH-17 on 17 July last year in eastern Ukraine. But maybe a bit of technical karma.
People keep raining on Putin’s parade.
His biker buddy Aleksandr Zaldostanov, known as Surgeon, had been trumpeting a ride to be made by a bunch of bikers from the Night Wolves motorcycle club from Moscow through Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and on to Berlin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism at Karlshorst, where the 9 May 1945 second Nazi surrender was signed. Today it was announced that the German government was revoking some Schengen visas issued to participants, and the Polish Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying the group was not going to be allowed into Poland (while noting that other Russian commemoration groups were going to be allowed).
This is fitting, since this is not a normal biker group. Putin belongs to it (even though in PR shots he rides, of all things given his anti-Americanism, a Harley Davidson Lehman Trike–apparently the world’s top dictator cannot balance on two wheels), and it is heavily made up of former KGB, FSB, and GRU Spetsnaz personnel. It was involved in the takeover of Crimea and has openly participated in fighting in Donbas, Ukraine. Zaldostanov is nothing more than a crude thug ultra-nationalist (well, a neo-Nazi for all practical purposes).
The only drawback is that there were lots of groups, mainly in Poland, who were ready to confront them, which could have been mildly entertaining. We also will not be able to watch them shamelessly parade through Berlin to the Karlshorst museum (though they might feel at home, since up until 1994 just adjacent to the museum was the installation of a KGB Border Guards brigade).
So now Zaldostanov and his Chekist biker friends will have to stay in Moscow for Putin’s parade on 9 May. Nothing like a celebration of victory over fascism done by–fascists. Maybe they can keep some of the only high-level attendees company in the reviewing stands–basically the rogues’ gallery.
Great video from Vice News of an interview done a few days ago with Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the Kremlin-anointed leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. Interview done by Vice’s star reporter Simon Ostrovsky, a Soviet-born American who has worked extensively in the war zone since the start. He was taken captive for four days in April 2014 there by some of the Russians/separatists.
Zakharchenko (by profession a coal mine electrician) was rather slick, though did not give a single answer that was not a bold-faced lie. Spoke of how his economy was crap compared to that of the rest of Ukraine because of the war (wonder who started that?) and because they were so busy fighting (imaginary) Kyivan fascists. His handler, or chief of staff, objected when Ostrovsky asked a question about the extensive video of the Buryat tanker from the 15th Tank Brigade (of the Russian Army) who was badly burned when his tank was blown up fighting in Debaltseve, saying the question was not approved in advance and he would be thrown out if he asked any more like that. But Zakh obliged and answered, saying there are lots of volunteers fighting in Donbas from Russia (ignoring the well-established fact that he was part of a Russian Army tank battalion fighting there form the 15th OTB).
His greatest bit of BS, however, was when Ostrovsky asked about his thoughts on the Dutch MH-17 commission findings that the Boeing was destroyed by an SA-11 Buk missile fired from Russian-held territory. Zakh repeated one of the Kremlin ‘versions’ saying that he himself had witnessed it, and said he saw two Ukrainian fighter planes pulling away after having shot down the 777. (Incredible eyesight apparently since the Boeing was at 10,000 metres, even though an Su-25 can only reach 5,000 with weapons mounted, and the fact that it was a fairly cloudy day.) He also said the aircraft clearly showed bullet holes. This is the long-debunked Kremlin version of a Ukrainian Su-25 ground attack aircraft having shot it with cannon (different than other versions including the really badly faked ‘satellite’ photo of a Ukrainian fighter firing an air-to-air missile at it). The holes in the wreckage were of widely varying sizes and came from an SA-11 warhead detonation. Fact. In short, Zakharchenko made up yet another lie, but his is par for the Kremlin and its useful idiots.
Last Thursday, 16 April 2015, pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina was shot and killed near his home in Kyiv. He was the latest in a string of murders and suicides of Yanukovych allies in Ukraine, with former Party of Regions deputy Oleg Kalashnikov having been gunned down in Kyiv just a day earlier.
The string that unites all the dead is that they were not high-visibility officials, but mainly normal Party of Regions deputies. Buzina was a journalist who had written pro-Russian columns and articles for several publications and had made some appearances on Russian political talk shows. He is not someone that could be called well-known, though Russian spin changed all that and made him instantly into a ‘well-known journalist’.
He was killed at 1320 local time in Kyiv (which is in summer now on the same time as Moscow). This occurred during the middle of Putin’s ‘Direct Line’ annual question and answer marathon. He was notified about the murder by moderator Kirill Kleymenov within nine minutes of the murder, who felt necessary to interrupt the Q&A (which was then on a totally different subject) to let Putin know that a journalist in Ukraine who most Russians had never heard of had been killed. He said ‘Mr. Putin, we have been receiving tragic news from Kiev just as we are holding the Direct Line with you. We have just received a report that Oles Buzina, one of Ukraine’s most prominent observers and journalists, has been killed. The Russian audience surely knows him, since he took part in talk shows on Russian TV networks on multiple occasions. This tragedy has just taken place. Former Member of Parliament from the Party of Regions Oleg Kalashnikov was killed yesterday. All in all, this situation is absolutely monstrous.
Vladimir Putin: This is not the first political assassination. In Ukraine, we have seen a whole series of such assassinations.
Irina Khakamada here asked a question about the investigation into Boris Nemtsov’s assassination – an assassination which I consider to be an absolute disgrace for this country. Law enforcement agencies must do all they can to track down the criminals. As we know, the perpetrators have been arrested.
In Ukraine, which is laying claim to the status of a democratic state and is seeking to become part of a democratic Europe, we are seeing none of this. Where are the killers of these people? There is no sign of them – neither the perpetrators nor those who have ordered these killings. Both Europe and North America choose to turn a blind eye to this.
Kirill Kleymenov: Of course, we express our profound condolences, above all, to Oles’s family and all of his colleagues.
Vladimir Putin: I join in completely.’
A number of observers have commented on how this killing seemed made for TV and for immediate shock effect. Why would the moderator interrupt the Q&A with news of an unrelated event that had just taken place? Puti nwas also obviously totally prepared with his rant, which the moderator set up by the lead-in that these killings were monstrous.
Furthermore, Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko received an e-mail the next day from a group taking credit for the Buzina murder, Kalashnikov’s, and all the Party of Regions underlings’ murders and suicides going back to February. The group was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army–UPA (Українська Повстанська Армія) which battled both the Nazis and Soviets in WW-II, was inspired (though never led) by Stepan Bandera (the Russians’ main bogeyman, but who for most of the war was in a Nazi prison camp near Berlin), and was disbanded in 1956. It has only been out of existence for 58 years, but facts such as these never stopped Russian propagandists. The e-mail claiming credit and threatening all opponents of the Kyiv regime (which actually none of these ‘victims’ really were) was sent from Germany through an anonymiser that transited two IP addresses in the UK and US. Also, though it was written in Ukrainian by allegedly Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, it contained a lot of glaring grammatical and spelling errors, leading analysts to conclude that it definitely was not written by a native Ukrainian speaker.
But the murder (and that of some other sacrificed expendable former POR cadre) achieved its goal. A real-time Ukrainian ‘atrocity’ could be trumpeted by Putin on national live TV and contrasted with how he was able to find the Nemtsov murderers in a matter of days (or at least a couple of Kadyrov’s Chechen stooges to be the fall guys for a murder Putin himself obviously ordered to happen right outside the Kremlin). Two points for Putin’s propaganda show. Lots of idiots will believe him.