|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Putin Heads Investigation of Fatal Polish Crash
April 11 (EIRNS)In the wake of the still-unexplained airplane crash near Smolensk, Russia, which killed President Lech Kaczynski of Poland and a large number of top Polish military, government, and cultural leaders, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken charge of supervising the investigation. The Polish government plane crashed near Smolensk, just before 11 a.m. on April 10, killing all 96 people on board. Among those killed were the President, his wife, the head of the national security office, two other presidential aides, the national bank president, the deputy parliamentary speaker, the army chief of staff, the navy chief commander, the heads of the air and land forces, and several members of parliament and the Polish clergy.
The group was traveling to a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacre, in which 22,000 Polish officers were killed by the Soviet NKVD. In what was hailed as an important reconciliation gesture, Putin had attended an official commemoration, along with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, on April 7. The first Russian leader ever to attend the annual commemoration, Putin declared, "We bow our heads to those who bravely met death here." Russian television aired Andrzej Wajda's famous documentary film, Katyn, in another Russian gesture.
Preliminary flight data and voice recorder reports, received by Putin April 11 at a first meeting of the official investigatory commission, which he is chairing at President Dmitri Medvedev's request, indicate no mechanical trouble with the aircraft. They also confirm that the Polish crew received voice instructions from Russian air traffic controllers, to divert the Tu-154 plane to Minsk, Belarus, or Moscow, due to dense fog in Smolensk which limited visibility to under 400 meters. The pilot chose to ignore the warnings and attempt the landing. The plane crashed through forests and broke into pieces.
In the midst of broad questioning as to why the pilot would have made such a decision, former Polish President Lech Walesa is quoted in the Polish press saying that somebody must have leaned on the pilot to get him to act against the air controllers' advice.
Putin returned to Smolensk to meet Tusk at the crash site. On April 11, he presided over the investigatory commission meeting in Smolensk, then took part with Tusk in the ceremony during which Kaczynski's body was loaded onto a plane for return to Poland. Medvedev also responded quickly to the crash, posting a statement in both Polish and Russian on the presidential website, and placing calls to top Polish officials, including Prime Minister Tusk.
Russian media report an overwhelming outpouring of support by the Russian people, putting piles of flowers in front of the Polish embassy, and a steady flow of coverage of the historic event which occasioned the trip by the Polish leaders: the commemoration of the victims of the Katyn massacre. The statements of Prime Minister Putin in the April 7 ceremony with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk are being reprised as well. Putin had said, at that event, that it was the "historical duty and a belief in the future" that compelled the two nations to honor the Polish officers who had been massacred, and the Soviet citizens killed by the Nazis. President Medvedev's statement that "together we mourned the victims of totalitarian times" is also being rebroadcast.
Russian Youth Group Pickets NATO, Demands Afghan Poppy Destruction
April 6 (EIRNS)The Moscow news radio station City-FM reported today that activists of the Nashi youth group staged a demonstration against non-action on narcotics production in Afghanistan. They targetted the office of NATO in Moscow. On March 24 in Brussels, Russian Federal Service for Narcotics Control chief Victor Ivanov head presented to NATO, Russia's Rainbow-2 plan for the elimination of Afghanistan opiate production within five years. In the absence of a positive response, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the next day, blasted NATO forces in Afghanistan for refusing to destroy poppy fields, which are now in bloom, calling this "connivance" with the dope trade.
The Nashi ("Our People") organization was set up several years ago with Kremlin sponsorship, during Vladimir Putin's term as President. According to City-FM, "the rally was organized around the demand to destroy the opium poppy fields in Afghanistan." The report cited the well-known figure, that opium production there has increased 40-fold since NATO operations began. Nashi leader Nikita Borovikov said the group had handed a letter to the NATO representative office in Moscow, demanding to know what guidelines NATO was following, in "abetting the world narco mafia and systematically aggravating the drug situation in Russia."
Russia's Finances Are Run From the Cayman Islands
April 4 (EIRNS)"The financial capital of Russia is the Cayman Islands!" Lyndon LaRouche exclaimed in a discussion with colleagues yesterday. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev demonstrated the case on March 23, making good on his ill-advised promise to rely more on businessmen than on specialists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, in implementation of a "modernization" program for the country. He named Victor Vekselberg, CEO of the Renova holding group, to head the project to build an R&D center in the Moscow suburb Skolkovo, to develop new technologies andabove allmarket them. This is the scheme Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov has dubbed "the Russian Silicon Valley." (See EIR, March 26, 2010, "London's 'Our Men' Continue to Poison Russian Economic Policy.")
The "principal business address" of Renova is in the Bahamaswell-known as a British Commonwealth tax haven.
As readers of Stanislav Menshikov's The Anatomy of Russian Capitalism know, Vekselberg is also one of the post-Soviet Russian "oligarchs" most directly entangled with City of London interests. His Renova group has a long-standing alliance with the Alfa Group of Pyotr Aven, one of the members of the 1991-1993 Gaidar government in Russia who was schooled through the London Institute of Economic Affairs and, especially, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). In 2003, Alfa and Renova engineered the merger of TNK, then Russia's fourth largest oil company, with British Petroleum, to form BP-TNK. In 2003-06, Vekselberg negotiated unsuccessfully to form a joint venture between his aluminum company, SUAL, and the core City of London investment outfit, Fleming Family & Partners Capital Management LLP.
Vekselberg's Renova is a partner in constructing a new factory in Chuvashia to produce solar batteries, which Rosnano CEO Anatoli Chubais (Gaidar's close ally and privatization czar in the 1990s) has hailed as the wave of the future for high tech in Russia.
More Than 20% Of Russian Children Lack Parents
April 4 (EIRNS)Reports given at a March 25 board meeting of the Russian Center for Aid to Homeless Children (CAHC) revealed the continuing horror of life for children in Russia, which represents a threat to the country's future. The meeting was held at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whose chairman, former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov, is a sponsor of the Center.
Leonid Romanov, director of the CAHC foundation, said that 6 million of Russia's 28 million children are officially "not cared for," that is, living without either parent. Primakov told the meeting that the CAHC must urgently address the fact that the government allocates only 5 to 8 rubles (16 to 26 cents) daily for the care of a child in a state orphanage.
Putting the CAHC figures together with Russian anti-drug chief Victor Ivanov's recent report of 2.5 million drug addicts in the country (counting only those who are officially registered as such), that means that 8.5 million Russians, or 6% of the population, fall into those two categories alone: drug addicts and homeless children. Such is the legacy of Russia's "free market" reforms, imported from British imperial practice during the 1990s.
Britain-Controlled Terror in Ingushetia
April 5 (EIRNS)Terrorists in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia attacked a police station in Karabulak with two suicide bombers. The explosions killed six people, two of them security guards who had barred the terrorists from entering the precinct house. This attack followed the recent terrorist attacks inside the Moscow subway and on the freight train in Dagestan. The President of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, believes that the people behind the terrorist attacks in Moscow and Dagestan, were perhaps the culprits in Ingushetia, as well. "They do not operate within one republic, they do not even consider it to be such, but they have what they call the Caucasus Emirate, and therefore, there is a connection between these attacks," President Yevkurov explained.
While President Yevkurov is right that the terrorists on the ground are seeking the so-called Caucasus Emirate, they were trained, armed and funded by Britain and Saudi Arabia. In Britain, two Islamic organizations, Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tablighi Jamaat, operated by British intelligence, and financed mostly by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and opium money, are directly involved in the terrorist activities carried out in Caucasus. These British Muslims helped train Central Asian secessionists and Arab Chechens, and indoctrinated them with Wahhabi-variety of orthodox Sunni Islam in Pakistan's tribal areas, in order to launch violent activities inside Russia, and some Central Asian countries.