Archive for category Georgia

terrorism in Moscow

Timetable of Moscow blast.

07:52 Explosion at Lubyanka station in central Moscow. Two carriages were destroyed, 24 people dead, 39 injured.
08:30 Evacuation of Lubyanka station completed.
08:36. Explosion at Park Kultury station in the third wagon of the train. 12 people dead, 23 injured.
09:05 Criminal investigation into terrorist attacks opened.
09:10 FSB head Alexander Bortnikov informs President Dmitry Medvedev of the explosions.
09:15 Prosecutor’s Office employees start work at the scenes of the attacks.
09:15 Traffic police advise people not to drive into the city centre.
09:25 Traffic in Moscow paralysed because of the explosions.
09:30 Prosecutor General Yury Chaika says he will control the investigation personally.
09:39 More than 70 ambulances took injured commuters from the blast sites.
09:50 Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov arrives at Park Kultury station. Head of Traffic police Sergei Kazantsev, head of Mosgortrans Pyotr Ivanov and the leaders of Moscow Emercom are all there. No less than 100 fire engines are at Park Kultury station. Movement of transport on Sadovoye Koltso is restricted.
09:56 Moscow police switch to an intensified schedule, working both on finding the people responsible and preventing any further attacks.
10:06 An airmobile hospital is set up next to Park Kultury.
10:21 Mobile phone lines in Moscow collapse under the increased volume of calls.
10:26 The explosions were intended to cause more casualties, says Luzhkov.
10:33 Sergei Shoigy, head of the emergency services, reported to Medvedev on the attacks.
10:55 More than 50 Muscovites apply for help after nervous breakdowns.
11:09 Rail station and airport security increased.
11:31 Metro services on the affected lines to be restored in 3.5 hours after all checks are done.
11:35 The Serbsky institute opens a hotline for those affected by the explosions.
11:41 Additional security measures introduced on the St. Petersburg metro.
11:49 Investigators announce that plastic explosives were used at Park Kultury, about 1.5kg of TNT. Video footage from surveillance cameras is taken for police scrutiny.
12:03 The State Duma should hold a parliamentary investigation of the explosions, thinks Lyubov Sliska, Vice Speaker of Duma.
12:07 Half of those injured in the explosions are said to be in a serious condition.
12:09 The prosecutor’s office announces it is investigating a theory that terrorist groups from Caucasus are responsible for the explosions.
12:10 No children were caught up in the blasts, officials report.
12:06 Russian Railways increases passenger and baggage control on the train stations.
12:15 Details are circulated of two women wanted for questioning in connection with helping the bombers, Interfax reports.

12:17 Fragments of an alleged suicide bomber’s body found on Park Kultury.
12:19 The terrorists used explosive devices without shells, investigators say.

12:21 Rosaviation demands tighter security measures at all airports in Russia.
12:22 Emercom psychologists start work with the injured.
12:23 Riot police officers, some of them with dogs, patrol metro entrances.
12:28 NATO and EU denounce the terrorist acts.

12:34 Terrorists may be identified as their faces were not harmed in the explosion, says Vladimir Markin.

12:40 Moscow Metro was almost empty after the explosions, taxis reportedly charge up to 10 times the usual fares.
12:42 Medvedev announces a meeting on dealing with the consequences of the explosions.
12:46 The number of confirmed injuries rose to 64.
12:50 Medvedev demanded tighter security control in the country.
12:52 Park Kultury circle station entrance opened. The radial line remains closed
13:08 A North Caucasus terror group may be responsible for the explosions, FSB chief Bortnikov said in a meeting with the President.

13:16 Hexogen used in the explosions, said the FSB.

13:33 Lists of the dead and injured published on Emercom website.
13:44 Announcement of a day of mourning in Moscow on Tuesday.
14:07 The two women that helped the bombers are said to have Slavic appearance.
14:08 Emercom starts moving the bodies out of Lubyanka station.
14:41 Emercom starts moving the bodies out of Park Kultury station.
17:13 The number of victims rose to 38 people. 22 of them were identified, 19 men and 3 women.

Initial thoughts…

  • It’s curious that the second explosion occurred just a few minutes after the first station had been evacuated.
  • Hexogen, also known as RDX, is commonly used in military and industrial applications.
  • Women suicide bombers. Women accomplices.

Al Qaeda?

^^^^^^^

Putin looks pissed.

Who are these terrorists?

^^^^^^^

Late last month, Russian drug control chief Viktor Ivanov explained that a large drug trafficking route had shifted. Instead of going from Afghanistan and southeast through Pakistan and into India, drug trafficking has shifted west through Iran and then north through Azerbaijan. Georgia plays a large role in this new route.

“According to our data and information from foreign sources, the high level of corruption among Georgian authorities is preventing the fight against drug transit across the country from being effective,” Ivanov said.

And in the northeast corner of Georgia, Pankisi Gorge. “Russian-Georgian relations have long been strained over the presence of Chechen rebels in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge and Georgia’s refusal to let Russian troops flush the rebels out.”  (source)

The militants hide out in very beautiful, ancient places, where people have lived in peace, close to the land, for centuries.

Is that fair?
Pankisi Gorge is the little red mark in the northeast corner

^^^^^^^

There have been many reports over the past few years of al Qaeda linked terrorists in the Northern Caucasus.

September 2004: al Qaeda tie to Beslan school massacre probed

November 2007: al Qaeda associate, Doku Umarov, declares Islamic Caucasus emirate

February 2009: al Qaeda has gained strength in North Caucasus

August 2009: notorious al Qaeda militant from Algeria killed by Russian forces

March 2010: associate of Doku Umarov killed by Russian forces

Some groups in the Northern Caucasus have been linked to Wahabbi Islam and Saudi Arabia.

The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR), designated by the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organization Feb. 28, 2002 , is a Chechen terror group engaged in a bloody, ethno-nationalist struggle for the independence of the Republic of Chechnya and Ichkeria from almost 150 years of Russian subjugation.  While most of the citizens of Chechnya adhere to a mild form of Sufi Islam — mysticism based on certain indigenous pre-Islamic traditions — members of the SPIR are Sunni Islamic radicals, imbued with a passionate fundamentalism of the Wahhabi creed, who, along with two other Chechen groups recently added as terrorist organizations, have appropriated the tactics of international terrorism with Islamic connections as a means to advance their nationalist objectives. The Oct. 23, 2002 , attack on Moscow ’s Poshipnikov Zavod Dubrovka Theater was a case in point — an al Qaeda-style attack that possibly could portend things to come.  This would especially be true if SPIR and other groups decide to sabotage the results of the March 23 referendum, where Chechens voted overwhelmingly for political autonomy while remaining a part of Russia .

But while the SPIR shares the desire for independence with the mainstream Chechen population, who are moderates and largely reject fundamentalist ideologies, their interests are not the same.  The SPIR, in addition to Chechen independence, seek the implementation of their fundamentalist ideology throughout the Caucasus region as well.  This would mean, ideally, areas from the North Caucasus republics in Russia , Abkhazia in Georgia , and parts of Azerbaijan would be under the rule of an Islamic caliphate.  SPIR has managed to muddy the mainstream Chechen struggle through violent acts of terrorism and promotion of its preferred version of Islam.  As Wahhabists, the SPIR and similar groups have transformed the Chechen struggle for national liberation into the appearances of a religiously-inspired rebellion, jihad, with direct links to the most notorious and pernicious terror group the world has ever seen.

In 2005, Israel reportedly invited one of Putin’s deputies for the Northern Caucasus to Tel Aviv for a meeting to discuss building a security fence between Stavropol in the south of Russia and Chechnya and Daghestan in the North Caucasus.

The information on Dmitry Kozak’s planned visit to Israel came before an armed conflict in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, the city of Nalchik. This republic is in the central part of Northern Caucasus and also has the common border with Stavropol territory. Yesterday’s fights in Nalchik will push the Russian authorities even more strongly towards activization of cooperation with Israelis, including in erection of the protective wall on Caucasus.

…In both of these republics, regardless of the massive presence of the army units and various security services, the Kremlin is unable to establish order for 15 years already. Every day the skirmish and explosions, and even massive military operations of the government forces against the local supporters of independence or of the radical Islam, take place there. As a result, the Russian authorities decided to ask Israelis for help, taking into consideration the effectiveness of the security fence separating Israel from the West bank of Jordan river.

…According to information available, Kozak also plans to meet with the head of Israeli Foreign Intelligence Mossad, Meir Dagan. If this meeting takes place, it will mean that the members of the Russian delegation come to Israel not only to discuss the security fence project (this issue is absolutely out of Mossad’s competence).

Does Russia really need Israel, and Israel’s “help”? Does any country really need Israel? It’s laughable. And it’s a lot more laughable now than it was in 2005.

But Israel has their little pet Saakashvili in Georgia. And Georgia just happens to be so strategically located. According to a widely circulated article this month by Eric Wahlberg, Russia Azerbaijan/Armenia: All Roads Lead to the Caucasus, US special forces trained Georgian troops in the Pankisi Gorge for five years.

Interestingly, from 2002-2007, more than 200 US Special Forces troops were training Georgian troops in Pansiki, though neither the Americans nor the Georgians were able to end the attacks on Russia.

Why do you suppose they weren’t able to end the attacks on Russia hmm?

And did they bump into any al Qaeda linked rebels there in the gorge?

Maybe they share pup tents.

what do you mean you lost His Highness?

Remember this post from the other day: teevee pimps? Regarding the Georgian station Imedi?

To quickly recap, Imedi ran that stunt recently simulating a Russian attack on Georgia. The post was about who owned the station, which is a matter of some confusion.

Joseph Kay claimed to be the long lost nephew and executor of the original Georgian oligarch owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Patarkatsishvili was the owner of the Imedi TV station which was stormed by special forces on 7 November 2007. On his death Kay announced that Patarkatsishvili, whom he claimed was a relative (the claim is disputed), had given him control of Imedi.

Kay last year then said - in a statement subsequently underlined by Mikheil Saakashvili’s own office - that he had sold 90% of Imedi to the sovereign wealth fund of the Gulf emirate Rah Al-Khaimah.

The 90% ownership interest, Ras Al-Khaimah Invesment Authority (RAKIA), is (one of?) the (many) sovereign wealth fund(s) of the absolute monarchy of the United Arab Emirates.

Now that things have gone sort of pear-shaped after that teevee stunt, RAKIA claims to have nothing to do with Imedi.

But allegedly, through a series of unfortunate mishaps and poor spelling choices and barely plausible explanations, as though these guys can’t afford lawyers or something, RAKIA now claims they do not never have never did have anything to do with any of this no way. Nope. Never heard of it. It was RAAK, not RAK, and not RAKIA. Innocent mistake. Sorry we missed it, we’re just really busy counting our money. ‘ Kay?

And now, I couldn’t make this up if I tried, we learn that the head of ADIA (and RAKIA?) has gone missing when his glider crashed in a lake in Morocco.

The United Arab Emirates state news agency says the head of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund — the world’s largest — is missing after his glider crashed in Morocco.

The official Emirates News Agency said that Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s glider went down in a lake in Morocco on Friday. The pilot of the aircraft was rescued in good condition, but authorities continued the search for Al Nahyan.

Al Nahyan is the managing director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. He is also the younger brother of Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the leader of the United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al Nahyan, managing director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)
Tina Hager/Arabian Eye (BusinessWeek)

o_O

Wow that’s really really strange huh? He just disappeared in the lake?

One of these lakes?

And he had just restructured the board last week.

And his brother reportedly died in a helicopter crash in 2008.

^^^^^^^

I’ll be honest and say I do not understand how all these funds are structured. Very very confusing. For an idea of how much money the UAE has to invest, start at #25 on this list. RAKIA seems to be a separate and much smaller fund than ADIA, but both are UAE funds.

25.Abu Dhabi Investment Council/ADIC - Abu Dhabi/UAE - 100% Government of Abu Dhabi - oil rich Emirate - Abu Dhabi the world’s richest city - ADIC bought a 90% stake worth some $800 Million in the Chrysler Building, one of New York’s most iconic skyscrapers

…25a)Abu Dhabi Investment Authority/ADIA - Abu Dhabi - with estimated $900 Billion ADIA is actually the world’s largest SWF, providing Citigroup with $7,5 Billion /4,9% joining the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation’s /GIC injection of $6,9 Billion - total provided $14,4 Billion, holds 8% stake in EFG Hermes/investment bank and 10% pre IPO stake in Apollo Management/ private US equity firm - ADIA filed an arbitration claim against Citigroup saying it was misled when it invested the $7,5 Billion in the bank two years ago, seeking rescission of the investment or damages in excess of $4 Billion - U.S.- bank considers claim entirely without merit, but apparently failed in its relation with this important investor

25b)Mubadala Development Co. - Abu Dhabi -$14,7 Billion - increasingly powerful state investment company -invested $1,4 Billion/7,5% into US private equity firm Carlyle Group/ triangular industry-government-defence (top defence tecnologies, energy supply and strategic information tecnology)

And way down the list… after 26(f):

27. RAK Investment Authority/Rakia - Ras al-Khaimah/ UAE - $1,2 Billion

It’s almost like a little leftover pile of fun money.

^^^^^^^

In 2008, the ADIA made a big deal with Citigroup (links removed).

It was a whirlwind of negotiations for Citigroup and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). For a week, dealmakers from both sides, some dressed in traditional white Arab robes and others in Western suits, worked furiously across the globe. Then, on the Monday after Thanksgiving they signed a deal, with the biggest bank in the U.S. agreeing to sell a 4.9% stake to the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund in ADIA’s new headquarters, the tallest skyscraper in Abu Dhabi. Citigroup (C) chairman Robert E. Rubin, on hand as Citigroup’s top official, shook hands on the deal with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ADIA’s managing director and the 12th son of Abu Dhabi’s late patriarch Sheikh Zayed, before dashing off to meet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan. Forty eight hours later, the investment arm of the richest Gulf emirate, wired $7.5 billion to a Citigroup account.

Our pain is their gain.

The dollar looks sick, and U.S. stocks are getting pummeled. But those jitters are merely wetting the appetite of ADIA and other sovereign wealth funds for U.S. investments. These mega investors can afford to take a long term view. “The short term for us is three to five years forward,” says Sheikh Ahmed in his dark mahogany paneled office, after a servant poured small cups of Bedouin style cardamom-flavored coffee. “We find (the American market) very attractive.

…Abu Dhabi wants to be among the world’s most attractive destinations, and ADIA’s Sheikh Ahmed is pushing the giant fund to be best in class as well. So ADIA is tapping the best financial brainpower. And with huge fees and potential capital stakes at stake, top Wall Street players are more than willing to oblige. In recent months, veteran investor Wilbur Ross, BlackRock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink, and Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein all have visited executives at the fund.

When this article was written in 2008, money people considered ADIA extremely thorough and saavy investors. ADIA had already made many prominent investments, outmaneuvering Wall Street firms. ADIA created smaller investment vehicles for certain high risk projects.

I think that’s where RAKIA fits in.

I can see how it makes sense to set up separate funds for risky investment that may or may not turn out to be good ideas. Like theoretically buying a teevee station and using it for blatant psyops against Russia.

Still it’s hard to believe that this has anything to do with Sheikh al Nahyan disappearing, but still, what a coincidence.

UPDATE: A few more details about ADIA and how sovereign wealth funds work…

Back to October 2008, the Santiago Principles govern the way sovereign wealth funds are supposed to behave themselves as they gobble up assets of the industrialized world.

Given the massive size of some of these entities, many industrialized countries are justifiably concerned about how these can be used to achieve geopolitical objectives which may have little to do with investing in the sense SWFs were originally intended for–preserving and enhancing sovereign wealth.

Independence - us Westerners don’t like you foreigners using SWFs to further your national objectives by buying our firms in the defense, transportation, energy, and natural resource sectors. Your financial interests in them may diminish our “national security,” although we don’t feel the need to define these considerations too specifically;
Transparency - insofar as us Westerners cannot really regulate the activities of your SWFs, we would at least appreciate it if you could tell us what they’re investing in so we can take action if necessary (nevermind that we don’t demand similar levels of transparency from our hedge funds);
Accountability - us Westerners know that you authoritarian regimes can pretty much use your SWFs to invest in whatever you please. Maybe you should be more “democratic” so that the populace can have greater discretion about where their sovereign wealth is invested in.

In April 2009, ADIA hired a senior investment banker from Rothschild, Alex Carré de Malberg as head of investment banking to lead its advisory business for Middle East and Africa.

“Opportunities are emerging when families and corporates reposition their portfolios. In times of crisis, you only keep parts of your business that fit your long term objectives, and you sell anything that is not synergistic.”…Carré de Malberg, who worked for over a decade at independent family-owned investment bank Rothschild, said investors often need “a second, non-conflicted” opinion on cross-border situations in developed markets, alongside U.S. or European investment banks or lending banks…Carré de Malberg developed an intimate knowledge of the Middle East as he set up Rothschild’s operations in the United Arab Emirates. …M&A activity went relatively quiet in the last half of 2008 as the global economic crisis unfolded and credit dried up, but signs are emerging that companies, family offices and private equity firms are on the hunt for acquisitions as asset valuations have fallen…He has advised family offices, companies and private equity firms on M&A and leveraged buy-outs, helped governments with privatization programmes, worked on initial public offerings and arranged pre-IPO financing.

In November 2009, playing the role of “trusted adviser” to Gordon Brown and others, the Rothschild family.

Baron Rothschild shares most people’s view that there is a new world order. In his opinion, banks will deleverage and there will be a new form of global governance. “But you have to be careful of caricatures: we don’t want to go from ultra liberalism to protectionism.”

So how did the Rothschilds manage to emerge relatively unscathed from the financial meltdown? “You could say that we may have more insights than others, or you may look at the structure of our business,” he says. “As a family business, we want to limit risk. There is a natural pride in being a trusted adviser.”

It is that role as trusted adviser to both governments and companies that Rothschilds is hoping to build on in the region. “In today’s world we have a strong offering of debt and equity,” he says. “They are two arms of the same body looking for money.”

End of November 2009, Rothschild adviser comes on board to restructure Dubai’s assets.

Paul Reynolds, head of Rothschild’s advisory operations in the Middle East, was this week asked to work for the Dubai government’s chief restructuring officer alongside Aidan Birkett of Deloitte, who was appointed on Wednesday. The team is tasked with assessing the group’s assets, which is likely to result in a large scale sell-off of assets…The neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi is seen as one of the main buyers of Dubai’s assets.

About a week later, Dubai starts to fall apart.

“Dubai will struggle to tap the debt capital market in the near business cycle,” Stephen de Stadler, managing director at Fitch Ratings in the Middle East told Zawya Dow Jones. “Now that the bond is rated junk, certain investors will be forced to sell.” …Deloitte’s Aidan Birkett has been appointed to restructure Dubai World. Rothschild and Moelis & Co. are also advising on the restructuring.

Two weeks ago, ADIA says as much as 45% invested in the developed world.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the worlds’ largest sovereign wealth funds, has invested as much as 45 percent of its assets in developed markets, the fund said in its first annual review….Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and home to about 8 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, is trying to diversify away from oil. ADIA and its Norwegian and Chinese peers are the three largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, managing over $1 trillion between them, Preqin Ltd said March 11. The emirate lent neighboring Dubai $20 billion last year to help it meet its debt obligations.

Thanks to James for the links.

teevee pimps

Oh brother. I was going to tell you about this new show offered by the same teevee station, Imedi, that ran the fake news of Russia invading Georgia… remember that? Vineyard of the Saker covered that fiasco here.

Georgia

In case you’re interested, you can read about the new show here, here, here. Evidently the people at Imedi want to sex up those uptight Georgians, so they hired a playboy bunny hostess to show them the ropes. Even MSN Lifestyle covered the news, so you *know* that Georgia must be a bunch of people desperately in need of loosening-their-morals cultural help from “The West.” So anyway, interesting as that may be, I couldn’t help but wonder, who own this station?

Well, I am not the only person to wonder.

First off, here’s an excellent analysis trying to make sense of who would decide to run the war simulation and why…

The most down-to-earth question remains: why exactly did Imedi embark upon this adventure controversial and potentially risk the survival of the media group? A citizens’ movement has already announced that it would drag the matter to court. In the fake report, the use and falsification of outrageous lyrics and existing persons of importance (Barack Obama, Eric Fournier, the French Ambassador, the leaders of Baltic states and Poland, who all called for aid to save Georgia ) would be sufficient to bring down the group in the lawsuit.

Currently, Imedi is run by a close associate of President Saakashvili, Giorgi Arveladze. However, it differs from the public channels and those that are clearly and openly allied to the power such as Rustavi 2. For a time the opposition’s main media source, owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili–personal opponent to Saakashvili–had been closed following the events of November 7, 2007. After the astonishing death of Patarkatsishvili during the presidential campaign in which he participated, the question of its ownership, with the purchase of a major part of shares by a certain Joseph Kay, whom the opposition accuses of being a government agent, has been a murky issue. In any case, Imedi has since become another voice of the party in power.

About Giorgi Arveladze: “A longtime ally and deputy of president Mikhail Saakashvili, Arveladze was a central actor in the Rose Revolution of November 2003. He was put in charge of President Saakashvili’s PR campaign of 5 January Georgian presidential election.” (wikipedia)

Supposedly Arveladze did not expect the simulation to cause such a panic. Mm hmm.

^^^^^^^

As for the mysterious Joseph Kay…

Kay *claimed* to be the cousin of the last owner of the station, who died of a “heart attack” while exiled in the UK.

The last owner of the station, Badri Patarkatsisvili, was a Jewish Georgian oligarch. He was into it all — all the typical oligarch business interests, dirty cut-throat dealings, the whole thing.

Arkady Shalovich Patarkatsishvili, was born in 1955, to a family of the Jewish Georgian intelligentsia in Tbilisi, then capital of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. …[big snip covering his life as an oligarch - ed.]

Although Patarkatsishvili had initially supported the administration of President Saakashvili, he became disillusioned, notably after the mysterious death of the Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania (obituary, February 4, 2005) . He became involved in opposition politics, and it was after a rally in November last year that the Georgian government declared a state of emergency, shut down Imedi and accused Patarkatsishvili of plotting a coup. The station was later allowed to reopen.

Patarkatsishvili went into exile in Britain and Israel. In December it was claimed in The Sunday Times that a Georgian government official had been plotting to kill Patarkatsishvili. Despite this, he launched a chaotic campaign in the snap presidential elections called by Saakashvili. Unable to return to Georgia, and pulling out and then re-entering the race days before the vote, he scored only 7 per cent.

Despite this failure, Patarkatsishvili was a household name in Georgia. People knew him for his eccentric appearance, with his moustache a flamboyant blaze of white on his upper lip - and for his excesses. While he was in Moscow rumours spread that, for example, he bought his wife the whole floor of an apartment block in the heart of the city. He also owned a large estate in Georgia, as well as the Dinamo Tblisi football team, and a multimillion-pound mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey, where he died

I’m guessing a split opened up between these guys, probably because Saakashvili reportedly has very serious personality defects, like tie-sucking under stress, which tends to reduce confidence in his abilities. But, probably Saakashvili seemed easier to control for TPTB. In any case, Patarkatsishvili opposed Saakashvili.

^^^^^^^

Anyway, back to Kay, who suddenly claimed to be this dead oligarch’s cousin, and the executor of his will as a matter of fact.

In what has been described as a “desperate step”, controversial US-based buisnessman Joseph Kay, who has claimed to the be the executor of the will of Badri Patarkatsishvili (pictured) has now accused the late billionaire’s widow of having him murdered in a new law suit filed in New York.

Patarkatsishvili died two years ago today, in exile in Surrey, England. He had fled Georgia after being accused of plotting a coup against Mikheil Saakashvili.

Patarkatsishvili was the owner of the Imedi TV station which was stormed by special forces on 7 November 2007. On his death Kay announced that Patarkatsishvili, whom he claimed was a relative (the claim is disputed), had given him control of Imedi.

Kay last year then said - in a statement subsequently underlined by Mikheil Saakashvili’s own office - that he had sold 90% of Imedi to the sovereign wealth fund of the Gulf emirate Rah Al-Khaimah.

Well most of this has since fallen apart.

But Patarkatsishvili’s family never accepted Kay’s claims and two weeks ago announced a major victory over him which has quickly led to the unravelling of much of Kay’s claims and seen the stain of corruption spread into the President’s office. In particular the authorities in Ras Al-Khaimah have chosen to claim that they did not buy Imedi - effectively exposing the president to the claim of having lied about a major business deal for reasons of political convenience.

…We are still searching for information about the mysterious “Mark Monem” who Kay said represented the RAK Invesment Authority when he announced the sale of Imedi. Please look here for more details.

The statement from the oligarch’s family begins…

Recently, several European courts have dealt with the dispute between the Estate of Badri Patarkatsishvili and his step cousin Joseph Kay. The High Court in England recently ruled that Joseph Kay is an unfit character to manage or have any control over assets as an Executor and is banned from doing so in England. Courts in Gibraltar and Liechtenstein also recently ruled against Joseph Kay’s claims that numerous assets under his management were his and not Badri’s.

^^^^^^^

This all devolves into chaos pretty quickly. The 90% ownership interest, Ras Al-Khaimah Invesment Authority (RAKIA), is the sovereign wealth fund of the absolute monarchy of the United Arab Emirates.

But allegedly, through a series of unfortunate mishaps and poor spelling choices and barely plausible explanations, as though these guys can’t afford laywers or something, RAKIA now claims they do not never have never did have anything to do with any of this no way. Nope. Never heard of it. It was RAAK, not RAK, and not RAKIA. Innocent mistake. Sorry we missed it, we’re just really busy counting our money. ‘ Kay?

In fact they ask us to believe they let a year go past where a bunch of imposters, with the active connivance of the president of Georgia, the Georgian telecommunications regulator, the national TV media and Giorgi Arveladze, passed themselves off as representatives of RAKIA when they were nothing of the sort. Indeed we all now know that the company that bought the station was RAAK, and not RAK, Georgia Holding.

mystery man, Mark Monem

And the only person who would seem to know is the person introduced by Joseph Kay as the local representative of the holding company which allegedly purchased 90% of Imedi, Mark Monem.

Rakeen used a specially established vehicle, RAK Georgia Holding, to buy the company, introducing Mark Monem (see video), a local representative of Rakeen at the press conference where the sale was announced.

…Who Mark Monem was or is, is not explained.

Are we supposed to believe this bizarre tale?

Noted expert on Georgia Cory Welt says we should. He might be right, but we confess to being not entirely convinced.

RAKIA’s denial of ownership just as they are staring down the barrel of a legal gun seems just too convenient. What sort of serious company lets people steal its brand for a year and says nothing about it?

One person who surely knows the answer is the mysterious Mark Monem (pictured).

Which is exactly why we are asking for all the help we can get to find out who he is.

And who is “noted expert on Georgia” Cory Welt, who encourages us to believe that it was all an honest mixup? No idea. He runs a blog to “monitor and promote democratic reform in Georgia.” His blogroll includes a few NGOs and government links. He has posted 13 times. He lists himself in Washington DC. He’s been on booger since October 2009. He has 110 profile views.

I’m not gonna say it. Draw your own conclusions based on your experience of the internet.

^^^^^^

Kay’s lawyer hails from New York. This is from March 2008. According to this source, Kay’s lawyer, Seltzer, was known to be a document forger two years ago:

Oddly, no one had known that Josef Kay is the Badri’s heir, except an American lawyer Mr. Seltzer. As reported by Josef Kay himself, “Mr. Seltzer came to me on the second or third day and told me that Badri Patarkatsishvili had left a will. He left it with Mr. Seltzer in New York.”

In the mean time, Mr. Seltzer is known to have been involved in a few scandalous cases, the last of them being the action by Sergei Veselkov, the owner and founder of Nord Service, Inc (NSI). The action was brought to the Texas Court against former Company’s managers Palter and Keiser, and the lawyer of those two is Mr. Emmanuel Seltzer.

In his suit, the owner accused his hired managers of stealing his company.  During the court proceedings, the lawyer Seltzer presented a number of documents and witnesses to prove the alleged fact of selling the company by Mr. Veselkov.

Besides, poor Mr. Veselkov – whose oil drilling companies are working successfully in Siberia and who started the company in question in America for enlarging his business and patenting the technologies - was accused by Mr. Seltzer of procuring, organizing the channel of illegal immigration to the USA, and money laundering.

The experts from NSI managed to prove that all the submitted documents were forged.

3 March the judge Leonard Davis recognized the fact of falsification and declared Sergei Veselkov to be the only legal owner of NSI. It becomes clear from the court’s decision that Palter and Keiser could not be people who have forged the signatures at the presented deeds, as their signatures and those by the false witnesses were just copied from other documents. It’s difficult to figure out by whom it could have been done, if not by the lawyer Seltzer.

Emmanuel Seltzer, a USA citizen of Russian origin, was considered in the USA to be an expert in struggle with money laundering and organized crime. He cooperated with the US investigative bodies about the case of money laundering through the Bank of New York.
12 March [2008] Emmanuel Seltzer was arrested at the Minsk airport. It is known that the lawyers of Patarkatsishvili’s family had applied to Georgian and Byelorussian authorities, accusing Mr. Seltzer of fraud and forgery of the hereditary deeds. At the time being, Mr. Seltzer is arraigned under the Article 380 Part 2 of the Byelorussian Criminal Code – that’s about use of the forged documents by a group of accomplices.

Josef Kay (his real name is Soso Kakiashvili) said the arrest of his lawyer to be the result of intrigues by Berezovsky.

So why is anyone listening to Kay? He has ZERO credibility.

^^^^^^^

I started by noting the corrosive effect played by Imedi teevee, given the decision to do a sex talk show in a largely Orthodox Catholic society, hot on the heels of disturbing the Georgian people with a clumsy and outrageous “war of the worlds” stunt.

It’s all still a little murky, but by their fruits shall ye know them.

Meanwhile, in other Georgian news…

Mikheil Saakashvili to visit Brussels on March 25

US Congress delegation to visit Georgia March 27-28

69 suspected Georgian mafia members arrested in huge crackdown in Europe, most detained in SPAIN

teaching moment

wall street journal stories about the luge track death:

1. the luge organizers gloss over safety considerations to make a super fast track which is financially viable for the future — after the event.

2. they know the track is super fast and USE that fact as a marketing gimmick.

3. they fail to put in adequate safety features. people express concern.

4. the athlete dies. BUT WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED?????

5. they blame the athlete.

6. nobody can be sued for various reasons, all of which have been arranged in advance, including compartmentalizing the liability.

HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM MURDERING SOMEONE AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT?

for context see sociopaths at work

Next up the ladder is the evil person of above average intelligence. These people have a similar goal to evil people of average intelligence; the production of human misery. However these people see the opportunity to do something that evil people of normal intelligence don’t see how to do; murder someone and get away with it. They understand that the way to murder someone and get away with it is to not care who they kill, how they kill them, or when they kill them. Such people set up conditions where someone will be ‘accidentally’ killed and wait for the circumstances to occur.

1. speed and commerce skewed luge track’s design

Years before a young luge racer from the Republic of Georgia flew to his death at the Olympics last week, officials made a series of decisions designed to make the icy track a commercial success after the Games but that left it faster, and ultimately more dangerous, than any competitive track before.

…According to 2008 engineering documents and letters reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, officials signed off on the course’s speeds. By last year, some of these officials said such speeds are unsafe and recommended that courses built in the future be slower. Following the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Vancouver organizing committee, Vanoc, and the international federation that governs luge racing said the track was safe. The racer, they say, failed to control his sled.

In the wake of the death, Vanoc and the governing bodies for luge and bobsledding, which use the same track, added a large wooden wall on the outside of the turn where the Georgian flew off the track. They padded the steel posts that bore the brunt of the collision. They also made moves to slow top speeds, including starting all luge athletes from lower points on the course to slow them down by as much as five miles an hour.

A reconstruction of the events leading up to Mr. Kumaritashvili’s death shows that the track was the result of decisions that weren’t entirely related to sport.

Tim Gayda, the vice president of sport for the Vancouver organizing committee, told the Vancouver Sun in October 2002 that the decision would make the track financially viable after the Games. “In order to make this thing financially sustainable, we want it someplace where people will pay top dollar to go whipping down this thing in both summer and winter,” Mr. Gayda told the newspaper.

Bob Storey, the bobsled federation’s president and a former bobsledder, said it would be jumping to conclusions to blame the Mr. Kumaritashvili’s crash on speed. “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not attribute it to design flaws and did not attribute it to speed,” he said. “The reason they call it an accident is that nobody can define the cause.”

The course’s dangers became part of its marketing.

“Vivid, violent and rough— the Whistler Sliding Centre is not for the faint of heart,” the Web site of the center, operated by Vanoc, said in promotional material that remained on the site this week. “The track has a rhythm that every slider must try to capture. Sliders must find it early in their run. If they lose it, it will be hard to get back on the beat.”

Soon after the track opened for testing in March 2008, it became apparent that it was faster than expected.

…According to the letter, the federation conditioned its approval on the construction of safety walls and guidelines that require inexperienced riders to start lower down the course.

Lugers themselves were beginning to express concerns.

The error wasn’t in designing a difficult, fast course - the error was in failing to ensure that, at any given point on the course, a crash would NOT result in a head-on collision with a solid piece of metal. That error made the difference between injury and instantaneous death.” - comment at article

As often happens during Olympic controversies, it is unclear who bears ultimate responsibility among numerous committees and federations. The IOC and Vanoc have both said they aren’t responsible for the tracks because they essentially subcontract technical specifications out to the luge and bobsleigh federations.

It’s unclear whether anyone can be held legally liable. All athletes involved in the games must sign a legal liability waiver with the IOC, which says that they participate at their own risk.

Some legal experts say that any potential lawsuit filed against the IOC, the luge federations or the designers by Mr. Kumaritashvili’s family—which has said it doesn’t want to sue—would face significant hurdles. The law in Canada, the U.S. and many other countries provides that people participating in potentially dangerous sports “assume” the risks inherent in them and therefore are often barred from suing, unless lawyers could show organizers’ negligence.

That authorities made changes to the track after the accident might seem to indicate an acknowledgment of fault. But Ryan Rodenberg, a lawyer who teaches sports law at Indiana University, says that for public-policy reasons, such evidence would likely not be admissible in court as proof of such acknowledgment. “You don’t want people shying away from corrections or improvements because they fear they’ll be used against them in court,” said Mr. Rodenberg.

One potential issue may have been the division of labor in laying out the course. Mr. Gurgel said that at other tracks, he has been the general contractor, in charge of building the safety walls and other equipment. This time, he was limited to designing the sheet of concrete that became the track, with the Vancouver organizers contracting out the safety features and the roof, which required the supporting column that Mr. Kumaritashvili hit. Officials from the luge and bobsled federations say the safety walls weren’t the problem.

full story here

2. as for blaming the athlete — that’s so wrong. even tie-eating Mikheil Saakashvili gets it!

BAKURIANI, Georgia—The Georgian luger who died in a horrific training accident hours before the opening of the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Friday told his father he was terrified of the track before doing the run that killed him. “He called me before the Olympics, three days ago, and he said, ‘Dad, I’m scared of one of the turns,’ ” David Kumaritashvili said in an interview at his house in the small mountain town of Bakuriani on Sunday.

…The International Luge Federation has blamed the crash on the luger and not on any “deficiencies in the track,” saying that Mr. Kumaritashvili “did not compensate properly to make the correct entrance” into the curve where he slid off the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Despite those assertions, Olympic officials took unusual measures on Saturday to shorten the course by 190 yards to slow the speeds, and they altered the run to keep lugers on the track should they crash.

Josef Fendt, president of the luge federation, said on Saturday that the track is safe, but that it had turned out to be far faster than designers ever intended it to be….“We did not expect these speeds on this track, but after a while we determined that the track was safe,” Mr. Fendt said. He reiterated comments from last year that luge organizers need to consider a speed limit in the design of future tracks.

…Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili expressed annoyance at the International Luge Federation Saturday for saying Mr. Kumaritashvili died because of human error and said a new luge track would be built in Bakuriani and named in his honor. “I don’t claim to know all the technical details,” Mr. Saakashvili said, “but one thing I know for sure: No sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death.”

read full story


news from Russia and the stans

1. Bagapsh inaugurated as president of Abkhazia

Sergei Bagapsh was sworn in on Friday for his second term as president of Abkhazia, thanking Russia in his inaugural address for helping the republic achieve independence from Georgia. …Bagapsh was re-elected as Abkhazia’s president on December 12, 2009, winning with over 60% of the vote in the republic’s first presidential election since Russia recognized its independence in August 2008 after a brief war with Georgia..

Bagapsh, 60, has been president of the former Georgian republic since January 2005.

The U.S. Department of State said the elections were illegitimate, while Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili condemned the vote as an illegal Kremlin-backed gesture in an “occupied territory.”

Russia is the guarantor of Abkhazia’s security with several thousand troops in the region under bilateral security and cooperation agreements signed since August 2008. Abkhazia’s independence has been recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

SUKHUMI, February 12 (RIA Novosti)

2. runaway journalist gathered shocking videos about South Ossetia

Vakhtang Komakhidze, a well-known Georgian journalist, who requested political asylum in Switzerland, has shocking materials about South Ossetia, received in the course of his journey to the region in December 2009.

He managed to record “scandalous interviews, videos that can shake”, and the government of Georgia doesn’t want these to be published, said Nana Kakabadze, the human rights activist, in her interview to the Alia newspaper.

She added Komakhidze made his decision to request a political asylum in the airport of Tbilisi, when realized he was watched by Interior Ministry representatives - the VZGLYAD.

The human rights activist explained that in Switzerland he must have interviewed one of the judges of the Hague Tribunal. Now he plans to complete his film in that country. Komakhidze stated he made this decision as he couldn’t perform his professional duties in Georgia. He also mentioned threat to health and lives of himself and his family. Komakhidze explains his decision by menaces from the authorities.

source: georgia times

3. photographer on trial for showing real life in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT (Uzbekistan) - AN AWARD-WINNING Uzbek photographer went on trial for slander Tuesday after her work documenting the daily struggles of ordinary people in the Central Asian state landed her in hot water.

Umida Akhmedova, 54, stands accused of portraying people in the ex-Soviet nation as backward and impoverished in a collection of her photographs and a documentary film, both financed by the Swiss embassy in Tashkent….Akhmedova put the blame for the trial not on the government, but on an expert panel it had convened to analyze her work. The panel concluded in its report that the ‘photo album does not conform to aesthetic demands,’ a throwback to Soviet jargon, and that it would damage the country’s ’spiritual values’. The trial sets a chilling precedent for artists, said Surat Ikramov, head of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan. — AFP

source: straits times

see photos here and here

4. Russian court extends pretrial detention of oligarchs

A Moscow court ordered on Friday that Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev spend another three months in harsh pretrial detention rather than return to regular jail.

Khodorkovsky, 45, and Lebedev, 42, are already serving eight-year prison terms for tax evasion and fraud issued by a Moscow court in 2005 after a highly politicized trial seen by many in the West as part of a Kremlin drive to subdue politically ambitious business tycoons.

Both were moved in 2009 from prison in Siberia to Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina jail to face new charges of embezzling 350 million tons of oil. Since then, their stay in the pretrial detention center has been repeatedly prolonged despite complaints from their lawyers.

Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court on Friday authorized keeping Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in pretrial detention until May 17.

“The court took into account the severity of the charges Khodorkovsky and Lebedev face when considering extending their detention,” presiding judge Viktor Danilkin said.

Russian officials have consistently denied any political motivation behind their convictions, but the fate of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is still viewed by Russia-watchers abroad as an indicator of the state of Russia’s judicial system.

MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti)

5. Thailand drops arms case and releases Kazakhs — no decision on what to do with the seized weapons

BANGKOK - THAILAND said on Thursday it had decided to drop a case against the five member crew of a plane carrying sanctions-busting weapons from North Korea.

‘The trial here will not benefit Thailand so we have decided to drop the charges,’ said Thanapich Mulapruk, spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, in a statement. ‘Their countries of origin want to try the men in their home countries,’ he said.

Another official from the attorney general’s office said the Belarussian pilot and four Kazakh crew would not be formally extradited. ‘(We) are sending an official to file a petition with the court to release all five men,’ Kayasit Pissawanprkan told reporters. ‘This is not an extradition but we consider them as having entered (Thailand) illegally.’

more @ straits times

diplomacy: a poke in the eye, a wink across the room…

1. Moscow wants answers from US on Romania missile shield plan as US does what looks like a work-around

Moscow is waiting for clarification from the United States over its plans to deploy missile defense elements in Romania, the Russian foreign minister said Friday. Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Thursday his country had approved a U.S. plan to deploy interceptor missiles as part of a missile shield to protect Europe.

“We expect the United States to provide an exhaustive explanation, taking into account the fact that the Black Sea regime is regulated by the Montreux Convention,” Sergei Lavrov said. He said Russia acted on the assumption that “there is an agreement between the two presidents on the joint study of common threats, with the participation of the European Union.” “When we understand that we have a common understanding of possible threats, it will be possible to say what measures could be taken in response,” the minister said.

A U.S. State Department official said the facilities were due to become operational by 2015 and were aimed at defending against “current and emerging ballistic missile threats from Iran.” U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped plans last year for Poland and the Czech Republic to host missile shield elements to counter possible strikes from Iran. The plans had infuriated Russia.

Washington then announced a new scheme for a more flexible system, with a combination of land- and sea-based interceptors, to be deployed in Central Europe by 2015. U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden visited Romania, Poland, and the Czech Republic last October to promote the new missile shield plan. Warsaw and Prague have already expressed their support for the revamped U.S. strategy.

BERLIN, February 5 (RIA Novosti)

2. US determined to park missiles as close to Russia as possible

Russia is very close. There are about 500 kilometers between Romania and Russia’s major naval base in Sevastopol. Russia’s southern areas are close too. Even if the missile base is not going to be a threat to Russia, as the Romanian president said, Russia is not thrilled about such a neighborhood.

Romania was prepared to provide its territory for the missile defense system several years ago. In 2005, Romania was mentioned as a location for CIA’s secret prisons. President Basescu did not feel shy to call the United States Romania’s main strategic partner.

One has to give Basescu credit for his determination as a politician. Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007 despite such deviations from the rules as an extremely low living standard.

The deployment of US military objects in Romania will not improve security in the region, but US and Romanian officials do not seem to care much about it.

more @ pravda

3. Saakashvili attacked on all fronts

The authorities’ opponents say that Saakashvili is losing not only Europe’s support but the support of the blessed West as well. First, there appeared information about the Georgian president being abandoned by his American advisor Daniel Kunin. The press service, however, denied the fact. As was stated by Press Speaker Manana Mandzhgaladze, the information does not quadrate to facts. For instance, one of these days, the All News Georgian edition has published an article titled: “Saakashvili may be seriously concerned about his political future”.

The newspaper pays attention to the fact that the general attitude of the most foreign media towards the Georgian president who had been treated as a golden boy in Washington has switched to negative. “There are many articles saying that Georgia has got an image of an unstable country because of Saakashvili’s policy, which prevents the inflow of considerable investments to Georgia”, - the periodical reports.

The foreign friends seemed to forget to invite the Caucasian democrat to the Munich conference on safety policy that will be held on February 5-7. The oppositional Georgian media noticed mockingly that this fact confirmed Mikhail Nikolaevitch being in disfavor of his friends and partners. The press service asserts that he does not come to Munich because of being too busy. The official authorities did not make any comments as to the fact that leader of the oppositional Alliance for Georgia Irakliy Alasania has been officially invited to Munich to represent Georgia this year.

more @ georgia times

3. Daniel Kunin interview from August 2008 w/ telegraph uk

Meanwhile, Mr Kunin has been working hard to keep himself below the radar. This is his first interview. One of the reasons for this secrecy may be that until March this year he was being paid by USAID (the US government’s development arm). Mr Kunin insists that he was a consultant paid by the US, not an employee - and therefore not beholden in any way - but as the calls on his mobile phone suggest, clearly this is the man that provides the link with America.

If Mr Saakashivili is winning the propaganda war against the Kremlin, Daniel Kunin is his general, tutoring him on his press appearances, advising on strategy and trying to spin the criticism that the Georgian administration is receiving of both breath-taking naivety and recklessness in baiting the bear of Russia. But did the confidence in his pro-West PR campaign create so much confidence that it caused Mr Saakashvili to over-reach himself, over-estimating the support he would get from the West, and thus causing his downfall?

“It wasn’t a case of over-estimating ourselves, but a case of under-estimating Russia,” he says. “There is a tendency to blame victim. Saying that it was Saakashvili’s gamble is a convenient way of ducking the issues, and not accepting responsibility for what they have to do.”

So is there any advice he regrets having given? “None at all,” says Mr. Kunin unrepentantly.

more @ telegraph

4. India breaks the ice, calls Pak for talks. the game seems to have changed a bit.

New Delhi In an incremental step aimed at restoring some official-level conversation on terrorism and a range of issues affecting bilateral ties, India has invited the Pakistan Foreign Secretary for talks to New Delhi.

While modalities will be worked out after a response from Islamabad, sources said the Indian side was hoping for a meeting this month.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said there were signals emanating from India that it was willing to hold bilateral talks….Sources said the government is moving cautiously this time given the political backlash after the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement which sought to delink the dialogue process from terrorism directed at India from Pakistan soil. This time the government is keen to make the point that the core focus at the talks will be on cross-border terrorism. At the same time, the discussions will look at other “peace and stability” issues….This dialogue also has a bearing on larger issues related to developments in the broader AfPak region. With its overtures drawing no answer from New Delhi, Islamabad had begun to take a more combative approach against involving India in any regional discussion on the future of Afghanistan. It was at Pakistan’s instance that India was not involved in the Turkey-sponsored regional meeting. The US too has been indicating to India that starting a conversation was better than having no interaction at all.

more @ express india

5. more regime change efforts

CARACAS (Venezuela) - VENEZUELA accused the United States on Thursday of portraying President Hugo Chavez’s government as thuggish in an effort to entice the opposition to try to topple the socialist leader.

Venezuela’s ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, took issue with an intelligence report presented to US senators earlier this week that described Mr Chavez as an autocratic leader who uses repression to stifle dissent.

In a letter sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Mr Alvarez rebuked the findings of the report, saying it ‘is full of politically motivated and cynical accusations’. Mr Alvarez called it part of a US campaign ‘to criminalise our government and encourage groups within Venezuela’s opposition to seek anti-democratic paths to take power’.

US officials have repeatedly denied they would support any attempt to unseat Mr Chavez through anti-democratic means, and Venezuela’s opposition leaders insist they want to remove the former paratrooper at the polls.

Mr Chavez vehemently rejects allegations that his government has sought to silence criticism, including using trumped up criminal charges to imprison or intimidate outspoken political adversaries. — AP

source: straits times

6. Dora Akunyili, Nigerian Information Minister, tells fellow ministers to stop lying about Yar’Adua

The cabinet must stop lying to Nigerians about President Yar’Adua’s illness and face up to the reality that he is no longer able to perform his duties; information minister Dora Akunyili bluntly admonished fellow ministers yesterday.

At the regular weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation, Mrs Akunyili stunned her colleagues by presenting a memo in which she challenged them to tell Nigerians the truth about the president’s health and stop deceiving the people.

According to our sources, Mrs Akunyili had wanted to submit the memo through the cabinet office but was worried that the office might sit on the memo so she took it to the Council meeting to distribute.

NEXT however learnt that as soon as she began to do that, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation stood up to challenge her. He said what she was doing was irregular and she should have passed it through the cabinet office. Both the Minister of Water Resources, Ruma Sayyadi and his colleague in charge of transportation Diezani Allison-Madueke also supported Mr. Aondoakaa that she should follow procedures.

At this point, a perplexed Akunyili looked up to the Vice President for support but Mr. Jonathan told her to withdraw the memo and pass it through the requisite channels. With no support from her colleagues, Mrs Akunyili left the meeting and Mr. Yayale went around collecting all copies of the memo. Inevitably, the meeting which ended in less than two hours, discussed only one memo before it dispersed, without considering even the customary approval of contracts.

In a surprising twist, many of the ministers went to meet her and praised her candour after the meeting.

more @ next

Georgia, Iran, Ukraine. sorry about Saakashvili

1. Georgia apologizes for extraditing Iranian national to the US in 2008

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze has apologized to Iran for the extradition of an Iranian national to the United States in 2008. Vashadze made the apology during a meeting with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran on Monday.  He said the extradition of Amir-Hossein Ardebili took place at a time when Georgia was in a complex political situation.[when Saakashvili attacked South Ossetia - ed.]

During the meeting, Larijani expressed disapproval of the presence of foreign powers in the region. “The problems and crises of the region should be revolved through regional countries, and the presence of foreign powers only complicates the situation,” Larijani said. He went on to say that the insecurity in Afghanistan and Iraq affects all other countries in the region.
more @ press tv

2. Georgia backs Iranian nuclear program

Tehran : Visiting Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Monday that the Islamic Republic of Iran as signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty should benefit from nuclear energy for civilian utility. The Georgian foreign minister made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran. The issue of confidence-building is of prime importance which should be taken into account in talks between Iran and the international community, he said. He said that his country welcomes active role of Iran to implement various development projects in Georgia mainly in energy sector. He thanked Iran for helping Georgia with gas supply when Russia stopped gas flow to Georgia in the winter 2006. “Iran proved its sincerity through timely action.” Expressing satisfaction with expansion of ties and cooperation with Iran during his talks with the Iranian foreign minister, he underlined the need to enhance level of trade between the two countries.

source: two circles

3. Georgia leaves CIS — sort of

On January 22 Georgian parliament will officially secede from the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) explaining that the assembly has always been a formal structure without any functions. Remarkably, saying good-bye to the CIS Georgia plans to stay in nearly 75 international treaties signed within CIS framework. A logical question arises: whom do current Georgian authorities want to show their independence from the CIS to and why?

As is known, Georgia joined the CIS in 1994 closing the list of members. Tbilisi seriously expected that CIS membership would solve problems with Abkhazia and South Ossetia that already then pressed for their independence.

Nonetheless, with Mikheil Saakashvili’s advent to power Georgia drastically changed the vector of its foreign policy pursuing US interests in South Caucasus. In the aftermath of August 2008 events Tbilisi decided to leave the CIS on the pretext that after the war with Georgia Russia recognized Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s independence.

A short while later the European Union announced launch of Eastern Partnership scheme, essentially the CIS’s direct competitor, aimed at close cooperation with 6 ex-USSR republics - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldavia, Ukraine and Belarus. Except for financial profit, free trade zones and facilitated visa regime were promised to the members. In May 2009 Mikheil Saakashvili swore Georgia had irrevocably seceded from the CIS and now the EU is its “natural partner”.

It is noteworthy that so far Tbilisi and Europe are not exactly on “free-trade terms”: the related agreement is still under preparation. As for visa-free access to Europe for Georgian citizens the recently reported seizure of a train in Poland by Georgian migrants will make Brussels think thoroughly before taking a decision like that.

Remarkably, the CIS is not upset about Georgia’s departure from the Commonwealth. The Georgian parliament’s decision to secede from the Inter-parliamentary assembly was taken ambiguously. First of all, the organization believes that if Georgia departs from the CIS IPA it will not be for a long time. Secondly, in November the Secretary General of Inter-parliamentary Assembly Council informed about Georgia’s intention to remain in 75 treaties and contracts including a crucial free trade zone agreement.

In reality Georgia wants to adhere to free trade zone agreements within Eastern Partnership and CIS frameworks. Here is a question: why did Tbilisi decide to leave the Commonwealth for good?

source: georgia times

4. Saakashvili accused of interfering in domestic affairs of Ukraine by sending a couple thousand election monitors

According to the statement of the pro-opposition of Democratic Movement-United Georgia movement council, by sending over 2000 monitors to presidential elections in Ukraine, the government of Georgia rudely interfered in the domestic affairs of the country and impaired Georgia’s image - RIA Novosti. The party believes that sending the aforesaid monitors “caused tension in electoral process.”

…The first tour of presidential elections in Ukraine took place on January 17th. Before the elections 400 Georgian “monitors” arrived in Donetsk. The President of Georgia commented the incident and said that monitors were sent on the request of Ukrainian people, and “their arrival was hailed with heart and soul”. According to Saakashvili, “their stay there was on my order agreed with all political forces, we received confirmation and agreement from all. Surely, before the second tour we’ll ask them again whether they want to involve our monitors. It’s up to them to decide.”

more @ georgia times

5. Laborites apologized to Ukrainians for Saakashvili

The Labour party of Georgia condemns President Mikheil Saakashvili for his actions in regard to Ukraine and apologizes for the incident with Georgian “monitors” to Ukraine and its people - Georgia Times correspondent in Tbilisi. At today’s press conference Shalva Natelashvili, the party leader, on behalf of the Georgian people apologized to Ukrainians and asked not to make equal Saakashvili and Georgian society.

He said that events in Ukraine again confirmed that Saakashvili is the biggest, global threat for Georgia.

“Sending to Kyiv, Donetsk and other cities and regions of Ukraine the so-called monitors who in fact turned out special services employees, can spoil relations between Ukraine and Georgia, ” Natelashvili said.

He alluded to the statements of Ukrainian politicians about possible visa regime between the countries and said it would be followed by deportation of thousands of Georgians, staying in Ukraine. Besides, he was worried about Yanukovich’s team making statements about possible recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

source: georgia times

iran is not the isolated country

1. Lebanon’s Hariri to Abu Dhabi, then to France

Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Monday with UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum at Mushrif palace in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported. Sheikh Mohammed is also UAE vice president and Dubai’s ruler. The meeting was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to WAM. Hariri was in the UAE on a two-day official visit. The premier is scheduled to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks with top French officials.

source: naharnet

note that Erdogan is also in Abu Dhabi, and this links back to the assassination in Cyprus: here and here — Lieberman again

2. Jumblatt: Syria reconciliation nearly complete

“I believe that three-quarters of the road to Syria has opened up and what remains is the final gesture which depends on the right moment,” said Jumblatt in an interview with AFP at his ancestral home in Lebanon’s Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.  The 60-year-old hereditary chieftain of Lebanon’s Druze minority has come under fire since defecting in August from the US-backed March 14 ruling coalition he helped create in order to move closer to the Hezbollah-led opposition camp supported by Syria and Iran. The move came as Syria emerges from its international isolation and amid a rapprochement between Damascus and Riyadh, two key regional players. Jumblatt justified his U-turn, saying it was a necessary step to preserve the peace and avoid sectarian bloodshed. “I am willing to sacrifice everything for the civil peace even if my decisions are not popular,” he said. “One must at times swim against the current.” He said the sectarian unrest that brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008, when members of his Druze clan fought bitter battles with the Shiite Hezbollah in the Shouf region, had been a rude awakening.

more @ iloubnan

3. meanwhile, Iran seems pretty popular. Iran and Syria, Iran and Georgia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, etc.

TEHRAN (FNA)- Relations between Tehran and Damascus are invulnerable to third party interference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated on Monday .

“Iran and Syria don’t allow any third party to interfere in their ties,” Mottaki stressed.  Mottaki, who was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with his Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, further pointed to the relations between Tehran and Tbilisi, and said the two nations enjoy historical, cultural and geographical bonds.

Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy great potential

Asked on the relations between Tehran and Riyadh, Mottaki reiterated that Iran has designed a framework for the promotion of cooperation and intimate relations with the regional countries and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia.  “We utilize capacities and potentials to develop cooperation,” he said, and added, “We are in contact with these states.  The two-day conference dubbed as “Persian Gulf: Challenges and Regional Mechanism” was officially kicked off at the ministry’s Political and International Studies Office following an inaugural address by Mottaki. Experts from 15 countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and Russia as well as academics from around the globe are present in the gathering to discuss protection of the environment, PGCC, Iraq’s role in Persian Gulf developments and stability, security of the area as well as the global economic crisis and its impacts on the Persian Gulf.

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TEHRAN (FNA)- Venezuela’s oil reserves do not pose a threat to Iran’s position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the two countries cover the two ends of the market, an Iranian oil ministry official said following the discovery of major oil reserves in the Latin American country….Venezuela and Iran are two of the 12 members of OPEC along with Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered as OPEC kingpins with strong clout on the policies and decisions adopted by the oil cartel.

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Georgia welcomes Iran’s presence in Nabucco — yeah this one is a little suspicious

TEHRAN (FNA)- Georgia announced on Monday that it supports Iran’s presence and partnership in the Nabucco gas pipeline project to carry natural gas from Central Asia to Austria via Turkey and the Balkan states, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.

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4. Iran to send 5th fleet of warships to Gulf of Aden because of Somali pirates

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the Navy is due to dispatch a fifth fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden late January to defend the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against continued attacks by Somali pirates.

5. Japanese envoy underscores Iran’s role in regional security

TEHRAN (FNA)- Japanese Ambassador to Tehran Akio Shirota stressed Iran’s key role in the restoration of security and tranquility in the region.