Archive for category Kazakhstan

the fire of corruption flashes over

Peter Chamberlin has collected various interesting news articles about the upheaval in Kyrgystan.

Blood in the Streets of Bishkek
Kyrgyz protestor: “The Jews are Kaput”
Is the Kyrgystan upheaval bad for the US?
Maksom Bakiev appears online — from the US evidently
Trouble in the Stans: Which is the next country to blow up?

Let’s break this down.

Vanity:

The corruption that pissed people off in Kyrgystan — mainly the president using his position to enrich himself and his family — also happens in Uzbekistan, except that it’s worse. (Independent UK)

In Uzbekistan, a similar process has been under way. The president’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, is a glamorous, Harvard-educated socialite based in Geneva, and, according to Mr Murray and others, controls the regime’s billions of dollars of assets through the Zeromax company. She has her own jewellery and fashion lines, and occasionally releases saccharine pop songs. She is also said to have provided the money for one of the regime’s biggest vanity projects – the Bunyodkor football club, based in the capital Tashkent. The side, which plays in the obscure Uzbek League, has paid millions to lure stars such as the Brazilian Rivaldo to play for them, and last year recruited former Brazil and Chelsea boss Luis Felipe Scolari to manage the team, giving him the highest salary of any football manager in the world.

Last month we learned that international organized crime rings cooperate and use legitimate businesses, including sports teams among other things, to launder money. This is from a Telegraph UK story.

In July last year, police arrested seven alleged mafia members suspected of attempting to buy into the Lazio soccer team [to launder money - ed.]. … After the offer was turned down, the Casalesi allegedly tried purchasing shares in the club through front companies based in Switzerland or Hungary. Police said the attempt to acquire a soccer club was “a new phenomenon”.

Vanity projects in Uzbekistan. Vanity projects in organized crime rings. Do vanity projects reliably indicate the presence of organized crime? We do not know.

Nepotism:

Speaking of presidential daughters, next door in Kazakhstan the president’s daughter Dinara has an important role in the business of the country, particularly in the oil and gas sector, through her marriage to Timur Kulibayev.

An intelligent and ambitious President and CEO of the KMG group since June 2006, Kulibayev is married to President Nazarbayev’s second daughter Dinara. Until his promotion, he used to be KMG’s first vice president of KMG. In his 30s, he began his career in the finance ministry’s division which was once in charge of the petroleum sector. In March 1997, as Nazarbayev made Balgimbayev president of KazakhOil, the latter made Kulibayev the financial boss and vice president of the company. The oil and gas firms then were transferred from the finance ministry to KazakhOil.

Timur Kulibayev, the president’s son-in-law, has reportedly fathered a “love child” with Goga Ashkenazi. Goga has also dated Prince Andrew. And, come to find out, they’re all good buds, helping each other with selling mansions and what-not! Turns out that moneyed people and British royals just love to hang out in Kazakhstan. Who knew?!?

Goga Ashkenazi and Prince Andrew, from News of the World
Does any of this matter? We do not know. It sure is interesting though.
Israel:
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan is actually “Israel’s Partner in Eurasia” according to Ariel Cohen, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (source) (source: http://tinyurl.com/yfw6d8h)
  • Israel and post-communist, resource-rich states have similar geopolitical priorities in opposing terrorism and radical Islam.
  • By developing closer ties with Kazakhstan - and with Eurasian countries in general - Israel can expand its ties to the secular Muslim Turkic states and its role in the new “great game” of Eurasia: economic development fueled by exports of the region’s massive natural resources.
  • Israel and the countries of Eurasia are economically complimentary: Central Asian countries are rich in natural resources, and can benefit from Israeli solar, irrigation/agricultural, medical and other know-how. Israel can offer high-tech, military, and advanced agricultural technology, cutting-edge medical sciences, and educational opportunities. As always in international relations, common interests define strong ties.
  • On occasion, President Nursultan Nazarbayev used his good services to appeal to Iran on behalf of missing Israeli servicemen or call on Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons, as Kazakhstan did in 1994. Unfortunately, these appeals usually fall on deaf ears.
  • With oil prices rising, Kazakhstan may have left the nadir of economic decline behind, although banking and construction sectors were hurt particularly hard.

Kazakhstan is much larger than Kyrgystan, and the two countries share a long border. You can read more about the two countries and their possible connections to Israel here.

The “Stans” — click to enlarge (source)

So far we have established:

  1. a culture of corruption in Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan
  2. a culture of nepotism and the strong presence of moneyed people from the UK
  3. connections to Israel

But wait there’s more.

^^^^^^^

Consequences:

So now that things have gone wrong, Kyrgystan presidential son-in-exile Maksim Bakiev may have fled to the US, according to State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley.

As for Maksim Bakiev, Crowley said, “We believe he is in Washington.” He had no further details.

Bakiev, or someone claiming to be him, then appeared online posting from New York, muttering something about the Rule of Law….

Livejournal, one of the Russian-language blogosphere’s leading platforms, showed that a user named “maksimbakiev” had created a profile today, and has posted two entries.
The first was a link to his father’s defiant interview with Ekho Moskvy.
The second, posted just minutes later, was a statement allegedly written by the deposed president himself.

In it, Bakiev Sr. writes, “I am ready to take responsibility for my guilt in the tragic events taking place if my guilt is proven by objective and impartial investigation.”

Whenever powerful people start invoking the Rule of Law, that’s a pretty reliable indicator that they’ve been bagged. I have noticed that they rarely show the slightest concern for the Rule of Law until they get in some trouble, and then they suddenly become legal experts.

Why did the Kyrgyz people expel Bakiev? Because they were sick of his corruption.

Why did Bakiev reportedly flee to the US? Because his corruption is safe with us.

Azimbek Beknazarov, the new government’s vice prime minister responsible for legal matters, said that U.S. officials were apparently indifferent to Bakiyev’s human rights violations, while providing the means for the Bakiyev family to become extraordinarily rich.

“The last two-three years, Kyrgyzstan’s democratic values have been destroyed,” Beknazarov said in an interview with GlobalPost amid the debris of the looted presidential administration building, which was the focus of Wednesday’s violence. “America closed its eyes to this,” he said. “That’s why the majority of people now think that America only needs its military base and nothing else interests it.”

Now the US military might lose access to Manas Air Force Base. The US and NATO use Manas as an important logistical hub for the Afghanistan operations.

Beknazarov said that the provisional government has not yet formally started to discuss whether to keep the base open, although many ordinary people are asking them take up the question. “My own personal opinion is that Kyrgyzstan doesn’t need such a base,” he said.

Meanwhile, operations at Manas air base have been curtailed sharply. A press spokesperson there said that troop transport flights have been temporarily suspended, although other “normal operations,” such as re-fueling, continue. He did not provide details why the troop flights were halted.

The truth is that Kyrgystan unrest poses a dilemma for US military.

Losing Manas would have been a major setback for U.S. operations. In 2005, Air Force Col. Randy Kee, then the commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, said the Kyrgyz base had become the “primary logistics hub” for Operation Enduring Freedom. That same year, neighboring Uzbekistan cut off U.S. access to Karshi Khanabad (also known as “K2″), a former Soviet airbase that had been an important staging area for operations in Afghanistan, and many of K2’s operations shifted to Manas.

Since then, Kyrgyzstan’s importance to the U.S. effort in Afghanistan has only grown. Among the chief reasons: As rising violence in Pakistan threatens U.S. and coalition supply lines, the U.S. is keener than ever to ensure that northern supply routes to Afghanistan remain open. Underscoring Kyrgyzstan’s strategic role, Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, paid a visit last month to the country.

Continued unrest in Kyrgyzstan could pose a serious problem for U.S. military planners. After Wednesday’s events, Bakiyev fled the capital. His whereabouts are not confirmed, although news reports say he flew to southern Kyrgyzstan, where he maintains a regional power base.

^^^^^^^

Networking:

The US government is very supportive of business opportunities in Kyrgystan.

On November 10, [2009] the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Embassy held a seminar “Doing Business with the USA” providing information to Kyrgyz companies on how to conduct business with U.S. partners and identifying future business opportunities. U.S. Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller and Maksim Bakiev, the newly appointed Head of the Central Agency for Development, Investment and Innovation, opened the Bishkek seminar with comments on the importance of expanding bilateral business ties (the Ambassador’s remarks appear below). The seminar attracted over 120 participants, and stimulated many companies to explore possible ways of increasing business ties with the U.S. This was the fifth “Doing Business with the USA” conference held in Kyrgyzstan.

…On November the 12th 2009, AmCham in the Kyrgyz Republic in partnership with U.S Department of Commerce held the Second Annual Conference “Trade and export in Kyrgyzstan: how to strengthen capacity?” in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Over 100 guests participated in this event….Glen Lockwood, Board Chair and President of TFI opened the Second Annual Conference and stressed the importance of the conference, strengthening the connection between governmental authorities and business. The keynote addresses were delivered by U.S. Ambassador in Kyrgyz Republic Tatiana Gfoeller (whose remarks appear below) and Aidar Mokenov, Deputy Minister of Economic Regulation in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Very cozy. Happy hours and Christmas celebrations, etc.

^^^^^^^

Mystery:

The other day I came across a story from a newspaper on the Texas border, the Del Rio News Herald. Del Rio is next to Laughlin AFB. The story was reported on April 6, 2010. The Kyrgystan unrest took off the very next day.

A man was found dead in his hotel room. He apparently worked for a company called TolTest in the Indianapolis area.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Fred Brockwell identified the man found in the room as Alvin L. Lehman, 46, a resident of Indianapolis, Ind. Brockwell pronounced Lehman dead at 2:45 p.m. Monday and ordered an autopsy of the body to determine the cause and manner of Lehman’s death. Brockwell said Lehman was found sitting in the bathtub inside the motel room, but added there was no trauma to the body and no obvious signs of foul play.

So, probably nothing. But I looked up TolTest and it’s a very large defense contractor. (You would never know this from the news item.) For example, it was awarded part of a $4 billion contract to the USAF in 2004. TolTest has locations throughout the world including Guantanamo Bay, the Azores, Spain, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan, South Korea, Japan and Guam. (http://www.toltest.com/?event=locations)

So not a rinky-dink operation. In fact TolTest comes in above Lockheed Martin on this list of top 100 contractors:

1 KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root)
2 DynCorp International (Veritas Capital)

…..

12 Blackwater USA

….

17 Toltest
18 Lockheed Martin

So this guy, Alvin Lehman, just happens to die mysteriously while on business for TolTest, down in Texas right next to Laughlin AFB. And the next day the Kyrgystan people toss out their president and his son. Again, I’m sure it’s probably nothing. But it got me thinking about the accusations of corruption in Kyrgystan, and Manas, and the logistics of running NATO operations. Because one of TolTest’s core business is bulk fuel services. (http://www.toltest.com/?event=news.read&newsid=169)

Services include asbestos; lead abatement/demolition; bulk fuel services; construction; design/build; environmental consulting & remediation; general contracting; operations & maintenance (OM); site engineering; telecommunications installations; transportation and disposal; underground/above-ground storage tank management, removal & installation; and value engineering.

So anyway, for the third time, it’s all probably neither here nor there. It just flicked my whiskers. The point is that some people are making a lot of money in Central Asia. And those people probably know each other, because let’s face it, that’s how business is done. It’s all about who you know, and there aren’t all that many people mixing it up in Kyrgystan based on the reports of these US Department of Commerce conferences. So when we start talking about corruption, the problem can flash over very quickly and engulf others. Thus whenever we see people dying mysteriously or getting tossed off buildings or committing “suicide,” like all those bankers, then we must ask whether these deaths are really fire doors slamming shut to prevent the corruption exposures from spreading.

^^^^^^^

Control:

Getting back to this story about trouble in the Stans and which one is next to blow, we learn a little more about Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan:

…Ordinary Uzbeks live in crushing poverty, with no free press and in fear of the rapacious security services. The country’s border with Kyrgyzstan has been shut off since the unrest began last week, and the Uzbek authorities have ensured that local media do not cover the uprising. Nevertheless, the fear for the Uzbek regime will be that news of the collapse of the Kyrgyz regime may put thoughts of revolution into the heads of Uzbeks.
In May 2005, roughly two months after the Tulip Revolution that brought Mr Bakiyev to power in Kyrgyzstan, protests erupted in the Uzbek town of Andijan, not far from the border with Kyrgyzstan. Uzbek troops fired into the crowds, and it is estimated that several hundred people died. The government refused to hold an independent inquiry into the events at Andijan, and claimed that the uprising was organised by terrorists, but those who were there speak of unarmed civilians being sprayed with machine gun fire and later buried in mass graves.

That is pretty much exactly the method covered in yesterday’s post about state-sponsored violence in Guatemala: refusing to hold inquiries, blaming the violence on terrorists:

Social cleansing and state-sponsored violence does not get investigated.

What may arguably be the strongest indication of the state’s role in the current violence is an absolute void of effective homicide investigations. Null or non-existent forensic investigations are a textbook indication of social cleansing. They allow for complete impunity, a heightened culture of terror, and increased powerlessness of victims’ family members, and more widely, civil society.

As for the border between Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan, a company called TFI (Task Force Innovation Internation) reported in their December 2007 newsletter the completion of two projects in Kyrgystan. The president of TFI is Glen Lockwood, the guy who chaired the U.S Department of Commerce Second Annual Conference “Trade and export in Kyrgyzstan: how to strengthen capacity?” on November 12, 2009.

Lockwood’s company completed several Kyrgystan projects in 2007. One was a border crossing.

On the 1st of October 2007, the official opening ceremony of Bekabad Border Crossing Point (Kyrgyzstan –Uzbekistan border) was held and attended by Glen Lockwood, The President of TFI International; Marie Yovanovich, The US Ambassador in Kyrgyzstan; Zlatko Zigic, The Head of Mission of International Organization for Migration in Kyrgyz Republic; Zamir Moldoshev, The Head of Kyrgyzstan Border Services; Jusupjan Jeenbekov, The First Deputy Minister of Emergency Situation of Kyrgyzstan, and other border and customs control officials. Construction of Bekabad Crossing Point was funded by US Department of State within the bounds of EXBS program implemented by IOM in Kyrgyzstan, and successfully completed by TFI International.

The second project involved the construction of showers and latrines at Manas AFB.

Glen Lockwood got married in Kyrgystan on September 11, 2001.

After his marriage, Lockwood planned to work for John Dawkins, who attended the wedding and was part owner and General Director of a Moscow technology company called IPSOTEL. But without explanation Russian authorities denied Lockwood entrance and sent him back to Kyrgystan.

Those crazy Russians. Who would think such a thing?

Anyway, a fascinating story thus ensues involving money, military people, contractors, Turkey, Iraq, intelligence operatives, etc. People coming in and out, companies changing names, giant egos, bitter grudges ending in a death and a disappearance.

In 2004, eight months after the disappearance of Kirk von Ackermann and six months after the death of Ryan Manelick, it appeared that the US Army had finally begun an aggressive investigation into what had happened to the two men. Initially the investigation was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the U.S. Army’s Fourth Infantry Division, based in Tikrit, Iraq. By May, the case had moved to the Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (HQCID) in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The general assumption is that the Army’s renewed interest was the result of Greg Manelick’s tireless efforts to uncover the truth of who killed his son. In August of 2005, Geoff Nordloh met with agents of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division for a second time. The investigation into the disappearance of Kirk von Ackermann and the murder of Ryan Manelick was said to be close to “wrapping up.“

Pretty serious. And somehow Glen Lockwood managed to survive all that because he’s still the president of TFI and up until last week, he was presumably acquainted with Maksim Bakiev.

^^^^^^^

Let’s recap. From this one incident in Kyrgystan we can detect the following:

  1. a culture of corruption in Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan
  2. a culture of nepotism and the strong presence of moneyed people from the UK
  3. connections to Israel
  4. Bakiev hiding in the US and Manas now at risk
  5. US government and business personnel exposed to the fallout of Bakiev’s corruption
  6. the possibility of other contractors deeply involved in corruption
  7. the possibility of state-sponsored violence and intelligence operatives at work
hot

administering the dope slap

In December a Russian journalist was murdered.

Gennadyi Pavlyuk, a well-known political journalist and media-expert, was pronounced dead December 22 in Almaty, Kazakstan. Pavlyuk’s death is the latest in a string of suspicious incidents and violent attacks against freelance reporters in Kyrgyz Republic. According to Radio Free Europe’s Kyrgyz branch, “Azattyk,” on December 16 in the city of Almaty (Kazakstan), Kazakh police responded to a report, arriving to a scene where unconscious Pavlyuk was found on the ground by a residential building, after falling off the sixth floor. (See more)
Kazakh police confirmed that Pavlyuk’s death was violent. RFE/RL reported that his feet and hands were bound behind his back with duct tape.
Pavlyuk has been working as freelancer for various Russian news agencies in Kyrgyzstan. He is also a founder of a popular and independent news outlet Parus.kg in the country.

I wrote a post about Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan
after reading a Sorcha Faal report (yes I know just stay with me for a sec…)…
which mentioned a secret Mossad base in Kyrgystan.

It was this paragraph that I found so interesting:

Important to also note in these reports is that the US spray plane shot down in China was reported to be targeting a secret Israeli base located in the Central Asian Nation of Kyrgyzstan, which many Ashkenazi Jews (Ashkenazi Jews make up approximately 80% of Jews Worldwide) consider their ‘spiritual homeland’ after their long exile their under Soviet Communist rule, and where Russian Intelligence Analysts report the Israelis are nearing the end of their decades long deciphering of the ancient Epic of Manas manuscript (with close to half a million lines the Epic of Manas is twenty times longer than Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad combined) that they believe contains our World’s oldest warning to our present age and which (coincidentally?) agrees with the ancient Mayan peoples that the year of 2012 will see the ending of our present age.

A month earlier I wrote about Birobidjan and the Northern Caucasus and the Khazars, excerpting from Koestler:

…The history of the Ashkenazi Jews was widely known and appreciated in the former Soviet Union. Ashkenazi militants traced the area where the Turkic Khazars originated before their migration to Southern Russia to Birobidjan, an Eastern Siberian area as big as Switzerland bordered by the Amur river, by China and Mongolia. Around 1928 they started building settlements with the Soviet government’s help and in 1934 the Autonomous Republic (Okrug) of Birobidjan Yevrei came into being with official languages of Yiddish and Russian. It is still there as an Autonomous Republic to this day, offering the only historically legitimate settlement area for Ashkenazi Jews willing to exercise their “right to return”…

And concluding:

Of course I can’t speak for anyone else but I find this amazing.

In fact, today, Birobidjan is a virtual Jewish paradise. The home of two synagogues, Birobidjan City has 77,250 inhabitants. Yiddish theaters opened in the 1970s. Yiddish and Jewish traditions have been required components in all public schools for almost 15 years, taught not as Jewish exotica but as part of the region’s national heritage.”

The Birobidjan Synagogue, completed in 2004, is next to a complex housing Sunday School classrooms, a library, a museum and administrative offices. The buildings were officially opened in 2004 to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (JAR). Concerning the Jewish community of the region, Governor Nikolay Mikhaylovich Volkov stated that he intends to “support every valuable initiative maintained by our local Jewish organizations.”

But noooooooo. That solution would require a lot of people to eat a lot of words. I’m sure they’d rather die in some blaze of glory. And that’s why nobody talks about this because Jesus God who needs the pressure of some common fucking sense solution complicating sixty years of elaborate Zionist propaganda?

Hey maybe Birobidizhan wouldn’t solve anything but we’ll never find out if it can’t be discussed, right? Exactly. And it can’t be discussed because it de-links the Jewish narrative from the Holy Land, and the Jews can’t be God’s Chosen People unless they came from the Holy Land, and if they’re not really God’s Chosen People… well you see it all just falls right apart like spit and toilet paper.

So Birobidizhan doesn’t exist.

And about halfway between the Northern Caucasus and Birobidjan lies Kyrgystan. I was wondering about that Epic of Manas translation, whether that could be verified, and why Israelis would be so interested.

I think some people might have their eyes on more than natural resources.
It’s just a suspicion.
Knowing how people are.
But I could be wrong.

If you wanted to control how the Kyrgyz people think, aside from the terrorism method, you’d have to insinuate yourself somehow into their Manas epic, into their ancient history.

It would take time, decades perhaps, of scholarly work. Of cultural appreciation. Of sharing and helping, until the “discovery” of long lost brotherhood, before. Before.

^^^^^^^

And then the embarrassment of Richard Holbrooke at Manas last month, beginning of March.

…Holbrooke and his party become concerned when Kyrgyzstan 454 is late. When the flight arrives, Holbrooke is told Rigi is not on board the flight and that two men were taken off the plane at Bandar Abbas. Holbrooke, clearly embarrassed and angry, departs Kyrgyzstan knowing the Iranians have nabbed one of the CIA’s top assets in the military operations being planned against Iran. Holbrooke, one of the most powerful American Jewish Zionists in the Obama administration, has egg all over his face, courtesy of a well-planned Iranian intelligence operation.

So regarding Kyrgystan, it’s not clear to me what’s going on, but this might be a clue:

February 23, 2010: Moscow chills relations with Kyrgystan

Relations between longtime allies Russia and Kyrgyzstan seemed as close as ever when Moscow agreed to provide Bishkek with a $2 billion loan and a large grant in February 2009. The pledges, announced during a visit to Moscow by Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, followed his surprise announcement that the Manas air base outside Bishkek would be closed.

Considering Russia’s vocal displeasure with the United States’ use of the base as part of its military operations in Afghanistan, observers widely assessed the announcements as a quid pro quo. That appraisal seemed to grow more likely when Bakiev and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev later signed a memorandum that would bring more Russian troops to Kyrgyzstan and allow Moscow to establish another military base there.

The developments caused concern near and abroad. In Washington, officials scurried to find an alternative air bridge to supply the military campaign in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan, meanwhile, shuddered at the thought of Moscow allying with its neighbors in regional squabbles.

One year later, however, Moscow is not concealing its anger with the Kyrgyz government and has frozen its financial pledges. Uzbekistan appears to be trying to use the discord to advance its own regional ambitions. And the United States is again using Manas, not as a base, but as a “transit station.”

According to Vitaly Skrinnik, the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, everything was going fine between Bishkek and Moscow until Russia’s financial aid began to arrive in Bishkek.

…”Nobody will give you that kind of money with such low interest,” Skrinnik says. “But what does the [Kyrgyz] government do with the money? They establish a new foundation [the Central Agency for Development, Innovation, and Investment, headed by Bakiev's son, Maksim], deposit the money there, and begin loaning it out with interest.”

Skrinnik describes the Kyrgyz actions as “complete nonsense,” saying the funds were provided “to pay Kyrgyz teachers, doctors, police, judges, etc. The Russian State Duma had to pass a law about this money. But the Kyrgyz authorities decided to make money out of that money.”

Yeah, so they start acting like little bankers. What of it?

Presidential son Maksim Bakiev (source)
I would like to be a banker using the Russian people’s money!
What could possibly go wrong?
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly made the Kremlin’s unhappiness with Bishkek apparent at a November meeting in Yalta with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Daniyar Usenov. The Kyrgyz weekly newspaper “Belyi parus” reported that Putin told Usenov: “I’ve heard there is family business going on in Kyrgyzstan at the state level. Why is Russian money to Kyrgyzstan going straight to commercial banks?”

Putin’s statement was seen as an answer to Usenov’s question about when the rest of Russia’s promised $2 billion would be delivered to Bishkek.

So then, not content with merely pissing off Vladimir Putin, Maksim decides to kick some sand in his face.
The Kyrgyz government, apparently seeking a new financial suitor, didn’t travel far. Last month, the increasingly powerful Maksim Bakiev — in his new role as head of the cash-infused Agency for Development, Innovation, and Investment — led a high-profile Kyrgyz business delegation to China.

Modest Kolerov, editor in chief of the Regnum Information Agency in Moscow and who worked in the Kremlin from 2005-07 as chief of the department for interregional and intercultural relations, says the Beijing visit outraged Moscow.

“Maksim Bakiev, without waiting for the results of negotiations with Russia — negotiations on vital projects in Kyrgyzstan — goes to China, and offers to China some of those projects,” Kolerov says. “This kind of approach — it would be an understatement to call it ‘irresponsible’”

Among the investment opportunities reportedly discussed was the Kambar-Ata hydropower plant for which Moscow had already pledged funds, and which it had expressed interest in helping construct. A group of Chinese specialists recently visited Kambar-Ata and inspected the site.

Kolerov downplays the role the U.S. use of Kyrgyzstan’s Manas air base has played in Bishkek-Moscow relations. But he says the way in which Bishkek apparently played the United States and Russia off each other — offering Washington use of the base as a “transit station” after initially having told the United States the base would be closed — certainly damaged bilateral relations with Russia.

What a dope.
And then there is the matter of the Russian journalist who was tossed off a building.
There are other apparent bones of contention as well. Moscow has expressed concern over several incidents in which ethnic Russians have been attacked and beaten in Bishkek in recent months, not to mention the killing in Almaty of journalist Gennady Pavluk, who was thrown from a high building after having his arms and legs bound with masking tape.

One of the ethnic Russians attacked was Kyrgyz political scientist Aleksandr Kniazev, the director of the regional branch of the Moscow-based Commonwealth of Independent States Institute think tank, who was beaten in December in Bishkek. It was Kniazev who then announced at a press conference in January that that all assets and bank accounts in Russia that belong to Maksim Bakiev had been frozen due to a criminal investigation launched against them.

There were no media reports of such actions having been taken against any Russian-based assets belonging to Maksim Bakiev or anyone else in the Kyrgyz government. The statements by Kniazev are seen by many as a public warning from Moscow to the Kyrgyz government.
Kniazev is still in Bishkek, and has not been sued or charged with defamation. For his part, Maksim Bakiev denied the reports and that he has assets in Russia.

And we even have an oligarch in the mix.
In addition, there is also the well-known shadow of former Russian oligarch and Kremlin enemy Boris Berezovsky looming over Kyrgyz-Moscow relations.
Right after the 2005 Tulip Revolution that brought President Bakiev to power, Kyrgyz authorities were accused publicly — in parliament — of having secret relations with the self-exiled tycoon.

Kyrgyz officials, and even Berezovsky, denied any connections existed between them, but his influence and role in relations with Moscow are among the topics often discussed in Kyrgyzstan.

The palpable change over the past 12 months in Russian-Kyrgyz relations seems to be caused by an intentional disregard by Bishkek to Moscow’s wishes. Although it is unclear how upset the Kremlin is with the Kyrgyz government, one must note that Kyrgyz public opinion is strongly pro-Russian — over 90 percent of Kyrgyz in some surveys say they trust Russia – and be wary of the Kremlin’s ability to manipulate Kyrgyz politics if it so chooses.

March 10th, Maksim Bakiev is being asked to leave.

NARYN, Kyrgyzstan — Some 3,000 people rallied today in the central Kyrgyz city of Naryn to demand that President Kurmanbek Bakiev’s son, Maksim, resign as head of a state agency and leave the country, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports.

April 8th, they’re out.

The toppled President of Kyrgyzstan refused to admit defeat today despite a bloody uprising against him and formation of an interim government. Opposition leaders announced that they had taken power after a day of rioting that left as many as 100 dead and hundreds wounded. Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, has in effect recognised the new leadership and the opposition this morning took control of the country’s armed forces. They also demanded the resignation of President Bakiyev, who has fled to the city of Osh, in his southern heartland, after demonstrators set fire to government buildings and fought running battles with riot police in the capital Bishkek.

Punk: 0, Putin: 1
works for me

trafficking news — the international dimension

1. France: drug money laundering linked to sports teams

A vast drug and money-laundering operation run by British gangsters which may have links to Premier League football transfers has been smashed by police in France’s Dordogne region.

Officers from both sides of the Channel raided a number of upmarket homes in two isolated villages favoured by British expatriates.

There they found drugs and thousands of pounds worth of used notes, along with luxury cars including Aston Martin DB9s and Mercedes SLKs.

There have been at least four arrests in connection with the enquiry, all of British nationals who claimed to have moved to France ‘for the good life’, said an investigating officer.

organized crime in Goa

Think you had a good weekend? Think again. Brad, Angelina and the kids, currently in Pune, India, hopped a private charter flight to Goa, India for a little R&R. Reports are rolling in that the couple needed a break from the ‘razzi and left Pune on Friday night around 9pm on a small jet.
Goa’s fame and beauty have attracted multiple old-school Hollywood types, as well as India’s wealthiest families (think private beach houses, etc.) The Pitt’s apparently checked into a guesthouse in Ashvem Beach in North Goa about 50 miles away from the Dabolim international airport there. Is Goa the Hamptons of India? Hm….The word is that North Goa is much more vibrant that South Goa, so we think it’d be like East Hampton vs. South Hampton perhaps. Shhh! Don’t let Lizzie Grubman find out.

Actually, sometime between then and now, Goa fell apart. I think, possibly, there’s a connection between the influx of the Hollywood types and wealthy Indian families, and the increase in drugs, rapes, and organized sex trafficking. Just. A. Guess.

I referenced this December 13, 2009 jpost (cached) article about two weeks ago, and I will reference it again today: ‘Israelis in Goa disastrous for tourism.’

In one section he quotes a tourist from the UK who gave his opinion on Israelis in Goa as saying that Israelis come to the area and bring with them drugs from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmire, then use Goans and Indians to sell it. “The Israelis who sell drugs have control over the Ministers from Goa to Delhi,” the tourist said. “They pay them a large amount of money. They also bribe the police.”

^^^^^^^

Today: Goa emerging as drug, sex destination, say industry

The Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has issued strict caution to the state government, asking it to shore up its act on tourism, in a pre budget note which was handed over to chief minister Digambar Kamat on Tuesday.

…Industry stalwarts like travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG) president Ralph de Souza have already said that the bogey of the Russian mafia in Goa could spell disaster for tourism in the state in the near future.

Tourism minister Mickky Pacheco had earlier said Goa was on its way to becoming the rape capital of India. Increasing crimes against tourists in recent times, beginning with the rape and murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling, has put the international spotlight on Goa.

The recent rape of a nine-year-old Russian girl Jan 26 triggered a nationwide media debate on the safety of women tourists in Goa.

A 25-year-old Russian woman was allegedly raped by a Goan politician in December last year.

Police have also been unable to crack the mysterious death of Russian teenager Elena Sukhonova, whose mangled body was found on the railway tracks near Thivim, 25 km from Panaji.

Goa receives nearly two million tourists annually, nearly half a million of which are foreigners.

More specifically, from jpost: “Tourists from Israel, along with those from Britain, Russia and Germany, top the number of tourists arriving in Goa every tourist season.

^^^^^^^

And police having trouble cracking the case? There seems to be a rash of that going around. The police in Delaware seem to experience the same problems.

Goa police hand-in-glove with organized sex mafia: official

PANAJI: A senior Goa police official on Thursday admitted that the state is emerging as a den for the organized sex mafia in collusion with the local police.

Superintendent of Police (Criminal Investigation Department) Atmaram Deshpande wrote in his weekly column in a vernacular daily ‘Gomantak’ Thursday: “There is a disturbing increase in number of instances where massage parlours and beauty salons are being used for prostitution. People are getting restive.”

…Deshpande, who is the nodal officer for all police intelligence networks in the state, in his article has also taken a subtle dig at the police top brass that had approved a Russian belly dancer for the inauguration of a coastal police station in Anjuna last year.

“There is an increase in bar dancers, foreign (belly) dancers and escort services professionals coming in to Goa. There is an urgent need for these to be stamped out, before they flourish here,” Deshpande said.

The official also said that local police stations were often hand-in-glove with the organized sex crime mafia.

“The police have to keep an eye on massage parlours and beauty parlours. But sometimes the local police turn a blind eye to these issues and then the crime branch is forced to bust these operations,” Deshpande said.

…Deshpande said that Goa, a major tourism destination in India, is also emerging as a centre for trafficking and high profile prostitution.

“Over the last one or two years, young Goan women too have been getting involved in the business of prostitution. That is a worry. Since this (high profile prostitution) is an easy way to get into the world of fashion and the hotel industry, a lot of women from India and abroad are flocking to Goa,” Deshpande said.
Goa receives nearly two million tourists annually, of which nearly half a million are foreign nationals.

Maybe they want to meet some Hollywood people.

I would also anticipate the Goa police having trouble catching the Israeli drug dealer’s Kazakh girlfriend. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

PANAJI: Anti-narcotics sleuths are tracking down the Kazakh girlfriend of an alleged Israeli drug peddler arrested in the coastal belt of north Goa for possessing drugs worth Rs 3.81 lakh.

The residence of David Graham alias Dudu was being searched for nearly 48 hours for documents related to his import export company, which police suspect was used to transport drugs out of India, a senior police official said Wednesday.

“Yes… his girlfriend is missing. We had summoned her to the anti narcotics cell police station, but she has suddenly disappeared,” Superintendent of Police (ANC) Veenu Bansal said.  Bansal however refused to reveal the identity of the Kazakhstan national.

Dudu Division Import and Export Pvt Ltd, a firm run by the accused, came under the police scanner after its annual returns showed profits only once in 2005. The company specialises in exporting chocolates and garments.

“We are interested in knowing the exact nature of their business. The company has the making of a front for drugs,” the official said.

Dudu was arrested on Monday at Anjuna and 144 ecstasy tablets as well as quantities of heroin, cocaine, liquid LSD and charas were seized from him.

Bansal added that Dudu had been earlier arrested in 2008 by the Mumbai anti-narcotics squad. He was also arrested in 2006 for over staying.

^^^^^^^

As if that isn’t bad enough, corrupt officials also rape the land in Goa.

Goa chief minister, aide shielding illegal mining: BJP

Panaji, Feb 25 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Goa unit Thursday accused Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and his secretary Rajiv Yaduvanshi of shielding illegal mining operations in the state and said it would raise the issue in the coming assembly session.

Addressing a press conference here, Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar claimed that illegal mining in Goa comprised an unparalleled 22 percent of the total nearly 33 million tonnes of iron and manganese ore exported from the state annually over the last decade.

“Digambar Kamat has been the mining minister for 10 years now. He is directly responsible for the rampant illegal mining in Goa,” he said, terming Kamat’s government “impotent” to quell the large-scale illegal mining.

Parrikar also accused Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Yaduvanshi, who besides being Kamat’s secretary heads several crucial departments including mining, forests, of being part of the conspiracy to shield the illegal mining lobby.



…“There is complete chaos in the mining sector. Most ministers are involved in illegal mining,” he said, adding that the mining policy being devised by the state government was “an eye wash”.

Noting that mining for minerals was a central government subject under Schedule I of the constitution and the state government does not have much of a say in it, Parrikar said the state government can effectively deter illegal mining and mining-related excesses by enforcing laws on transportation and implementing other existing laws.

Open cast mining, a Rs.6,000 crore industry in Goa, is seeing increasing popular resistance due to uncontrolled illegal mining and rampant destruction of the state’s forests. The opposition has repeatedly alleged on the floor of the house that the chief minister and several cabinet ministers were sheltering the mining mafia in collusion with the bureaucracy.

Read nobody.

Read Dave McGowan. more….

Read aangirfan.

Put it together. It’s time.

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

a resurrected post from december

here are some links i had gathered together on 12/13/09, and posted at my news blog, which has since been quarantined as a spam blog by google. somebody in india reviews it about once a week and puts it back in quarantine. this particular page has also been erased from the google cache, for some unknown reason.

1. Kazakh uranium boss trial to proceed - 12/10/09

Prosecutor’s office spokesman Nurdaulet Suindikov commented, “The investigation charges former Kazatomprom president Mukhtar Dzhakishev with theft by way of embezzling a state company’s property.” Suindikov added that Dzhakishev would be charged with embezzling 100 million tenge ($600,000) from Kazatomprom.

Dzhakishev, who was earlier credited with making Kazakhstan a top global uranium producer while overseeing Kazatomprom, has denied all charges against him.

Kazakhstan contains the world’s second-largest uranium reserves, estimated at 1.5 million tons. The country in 2006 produced 5,279 tons of uranium, but as part of its plans to increase output boosted uranium output in January-September to 9,535 tons.

upi asia

2. Chinese president to visit Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan - 12/9/09

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay a working visit to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan from Dec. 12 to14 at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said here Wednesday.

chinaview

3. Kazakhstan urged to lift visa requirement for Iranian traders - 12/8/09

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran called on Kazakhstan to lift visa requirements for those Iranian businessmen willing to run trade activities in the Central Asian country.

“…if lifting visa requirements comes on both countries’ agenda, then visits by traders and businessmen will be facilitated and the ground will be prepared for the expansion of cooperation,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman Parast said at a round table dubbed as ‘Trade Opportunities of Iran and Kazakhstan’ here in Tehran on Tuesday.

Mehman Parast reiterated that the Iranian foreign ministry is striving to prepare the necessary grounds and conditions for those traders interested in making investments in target markets.

Noting that the trade volume between Iran and Kazakhstan has increased in recent years, he stressed that in case existing problems are resolved, the two countries can boost the volume of annual trade to $10 bln.

Mehman Parast also referred to the strategic situation of Iran and Kazakhstan in the region, and said today the world supplies its needs through importing either the goods and products manufactured by Iran and Kazakhstan or the other countries’ products which should again pass through Iran or Kazakhstan.

fars

4. International Space Station astronauts land safely on Kazakhstan steppes - 12/1/09

BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhuanet) — Three astronauts landed safely on the Kazakhstan steppes Tuesday after spending six months on the International Space Station.

The Russian Soyuz TMA-15 capsule landed as planned at 10:17 a.m. Moscow time (07:17 GMT) about 85 km north of the town of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan.

chinaview

5. Yunnan Copper mulls buy in Kazakhstan - 12/1/09

BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Yunnan Copper Co., China’s third-largest copper producer, is thinking of acquiring a copper mine in Kazakhstan next year, China Daily reported Tuesday.

The company is also considering investing in Southeast and South Asian countries including Laos and Indonesia, the newspaper said, quoting the company’s general manager Yang Chao.

Besides investment in the overseas market, the copper producer is also scouting for more copper reserves in the Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions. The company’s copper reserves would touch 9 million tonnes by 2012, according to Yang.

He predicted that copper prices might even surpass 70,000 yuan (10,294 U.S. dollars) per tonne in 2010, although prices are likely to remain volatile over the next year, and copper demand will increase next year

Copper is widely used in home appliances, wires and cables; it can also be used in water pipes, largely increasing the need for copper in the future, Yang said.

chinaview

6. Kazakhstan: Israel’s Partner in Eurasia by Ariel Cohen in Jerusalem Viewpoints Sept-Oct 2009

http://tinyurl.com/yfw6d8h

The June 2009 visit by Israeli President Shimon Peres to Kazakhstan once again focused Israel’s attention on energy-rich, secular Muslim states of the Caspian and Central Asia: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This was not Peres’ first visit to the steppe country in the heart of Eurasia: he visited Kazakhstan several times before as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. This was a good long-term investment:

Kazakhstan is as large as the entirety of Western Europe, but with a population only 1.5 times larger than the population of the city of Moscow. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries on Earth.

7. 11/16/09 - Germans ID convert, 27, as terrorist suspect

BERLIN — Authorities have identified a 27-year-old German convert to Islam as an al-Qaida associate suspected of traveling to Afghanistan and planning to attack German targets. The report could fuel concerns about European converts being recruited by Islamist terrorist groups for attacks. The Federal Criminal Police Office confirmed a Spiegel Online report Sunday that it had posted notices across Afghanistan warning that Jan Schneider, a Kazakhstan-born ethnic German, may plan attacks on German military or civilian institutions in Afghanistan.

Schneider, who is also known as Hamza, has recently traveled to the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Spiegel reported. He left Germany in 2004 to study Arabic in Saudi Arabia. He was seen in his hometown of Saarbruecken several times after his departure from Germany.

…Spiegel also wrote that the criminal office has warned of several other German extremists who supposedly have traveled to Afghanistan in recent months. More than five million ethnic Germans have immigrated to the country from the former Soviet Union, Poland, Romania and other Eastern European countries since the 1950s under a special migration law for persons who can prove German ancestry.

DEFUNCT LINK: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gRbmVOhddpRWJo-KpO06aa6sHQRwD9C03L2O1

alternate link (cache): http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:hJxPAOZqPHsJ:www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33949307/ns/world_news-europe/+BERLIN+%E2%80%94+Authorities+have+identified+a+27-year-old+German+convert+to+Islam+as+an+al-Qaida+associate&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

8. 10/12/09 - Avigdor Lieberman visits Kazakhstan among other countries to discuss Iran

By Roni SoferY Net NewsOctober 12, 2009

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is set to leave for a round of visits abroad this week, after recently returning from Africa, South America, and the Balkans. This time Lieberman will visit Austria, Kazakhstan, Holland, and Denmark, mainly in order to discuss the topic of Iran.

Lieberman says he wants to “invest effort in nations that have not received attention from Israel until now”….The foreign minister is also scheduled to meet with his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, following the latter’s request. Lieberman has clarified that the object of this meeting, as well as those in Holland and Denmark, is “to bolster Israel’s status by widening the wingspan of its foreign policy”.

Lieberman will also meet with Israeli ambassadors to Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, as well as the ambassador to the EU.

via aletho news - LINK DEFUNCT


9. 9/10/09 - Caspian sea states shut Iran out of summit

Iran is peeved at its northern neighbors over a decision to exclude the Islamic Republic from a meeting ofCaspian Sea states on Thursday.
Iran’s top diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, said today he was outraged that Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan plan to meet in the Kazakh city of Aktau without Iran, according to the website of Iran’s state-owned English-language Press TV satellite news channel.
“In our view the meeting runs contrary to Iran’s national interests,” Mottaki said.
Iran has stewed for years as Russia and its former Soviet satellite states gobble up more and more of the Caspian Sea’s resources.
The four countries attending the Aktau meeting, described as an “informal” summit to discuss “subregional cooperation,” say they don’t plan to make any decisions on the status of the sea or the division of the seabed, an official representative of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry told Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency.

there are no sunglasses

10. 12/2008: Michael Parenti

“While claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves. A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world. US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific.”

11. 11/3/08 - Putin: we must end monopoly in world finance

The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has called for a complete overhaul of the world’s financial system in order to guarantee stability and ensure progress. He was speaking in Astana in Kazakhstan, where the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is meeting to in discuss the global financial crisis.
The organisation, which comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is widely seen as a counter-weight to NATO’s influence in Eurasia. It is primarily concerned with security issues. This time, however, the sides are discussing how to develop social and economic cooperation.
At the beginning of his speech at the SCO Council of Prime Ministers, Vladimir Putin stressed the role the SCO countries should play in the changing world political and economic landscape.
“We now clearly see the defectiveness of the monopoly in world finance and the policy of economic selfishness. To solve the current problem Russia will to take part in changing the global financial structure so that it will be able to guarantee stability and prosperity in the world and to ensure progress,” he said.
He also named projects in transportation, telecommunications and modern technology as priorities of the SCO and spoke in favour of mutual space programmes.
While in Kasakhstan, the Russian prime minister is also expected to discuss the formation of a customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan with Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

russia today

12. 11/13/08 - Kazakhstan and the financial crisis

The financial crisis that began in the United States has made its presence felt around the globe and Central Asia is no exception. How is Central Asia’s greatest economic power, Kazakhstan, handling this economic crisis and how is the economic downturn effecting the stability, security, and development of the region. These were the main topics of a conference between many regional experts in Astana last month called “New Challenges and Kazakhstan’s Contribution to Stability and Security.” [link defunct]
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, a scholar of the region’s economic and strategic outlook attended the conference and not only summarizes the major issues and policies discussed, but also provides a historical perspective of past economic crisis’s in Kazakhstan. Here is an excerpt of what Nurbakh Rustemov, the keynotespeaker and Chairman of the hosting parliamentary committee, had to say of the economic downturn and its consequences:

“He bluntly stated that the world financial crisis was leading to a “misunderstanding” among geopolitical forces, and carried the danger of a direct threat to humanity, through hunger and poverty.(1) He called for uniting forces internationally, to overcome the financial-economic crisis, which he dubbed the “number one priority.” Rustemov mentioned the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Kazakhstan is a founding member, as well as the OSCE, which Kazakhstan will chair beginning 2010, as bodies his government would like to utilize to find solutions to the crisis. Two concrete means that his country could use to impact the crisis, would be in securing energy resources, and providing grain and meat exports to alleviate food shortages.”
Rustemov is correct in stating that this economic crisis may lead to following and connected geopolitical disruptions and he’s also right in arguing that regional and multilateral groups, such as the SCO and OSCE, will be crucial in helping the world get through this mess in one stable piece. Another important aspect of his comments is the positive role Kazakhstan can play in impacting the crisis in a productive way and that is in securing energy resources and in providing food stuffs to alleviate shortages in other countries, specifically in harder hit CA states, such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan’s abundance of energy supplies, combined with President Nazarbayev’s prudent planning, have left the nation in good condition despite the tough times. Nazarbayev announced last month that the government would spend $2 billion to stimulate the economy, mainly targeting banks and the construction industry, funds drawn from the nation’s oil fund. Unfortunately, not all CA or world states have an oil fund to fall back on.
What the whole of Central Asia can hope for is sturdy economic stewardship by its regional leader,Kazakhstan, and help from regional bodies, both from the East and West to weather what will most likely be a lengthy recession. During this time, it will be vital to keep the region from falling into disrepair as poverty and extremism would both be on the rise and this may lead to conflict. The US, Russia, China, and the EU all have roles to play in mitigating negative ramifications of this crisis in the region, but a strong and active Kazakhstan is crucial. As Muriel Mirak-Weissbach concludes:
“Kazakhstan has become the foremost interlocutor in Central Asia, not only for Eurasian giants Russia and China, but also for the two major economies of western Europe, Germany and France. If the current world crisis can be overcome through participation of major Eurasian nations, Kazakhstan can become the linchpin in the region for stability and security.”
In addition, the US State Department announced a nuclear safety cooperation with Kazakhstan. Read Below. [link defunct]
The United States and the Republic of Kazakhstan reached a new milestone in a multiyear joint project to irreversibly decommission the Soviet-era BN-350 fast breeder reactor located at the Kazakhstani port of Aktau on the Caspian Sea. The participating governments completed a sodium processing facility that will be used to dispose of coolant from the reactor core. This action demonstrates and reinforces the strength of the U.S.-Kazakhstani strategic relationship, and our joint commitment to preventing the proliferation of nuclear materials.

source: foreign policy blogs

http://centralasia.foreignpolicyblogs.com/2008/11/13/kazakhstan-and-the-financial-crisis/

back rooms of the NWO

In previously covered news:

Kazakhstan is a big place, far away, private, strategically located, full of natural resources, and not so full of people. If you’ve been following along, you will immediately see the attraction. Generally speaking, from the perspective of those who value power and natural resources over people, Kazakhstan is a turn-key operation.

This may explain why Kazakhstan is “Israel’s partner in Eurasia,” as well as why the capital city, Astana, has been built in New World Order Fantasy style.

^^^^^^^

Timur Kulibayev married President Nazarbayev’s daughter, Dinara.

An intelligent and ambitious President and CEO of the KMG group since June 2006, Kulibayev is married to President Nazarbayev’s second daughter Dinara. Until his promotion, he used to be KMG’s first vice president of KMG. In his 30s, he began his career in the finance ministry’s division which was once in charge of the petroleum sector. In March 1997, as Nazarbayev made Balgimbayev president of KazakhOil, the latter made Kulibayev the financial boss and vice president of the company. The oil and gas firms then were transferred from the finance ministry to KazakhOil.

In September 2009, for instance, Kulibayev entered into discussions with Azerbaijan about possible oil transport routes through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea.

Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are discussing the possibility of opening new routes to transport Kazakh oil. “Yesterday we held talks with Azerbaijan’s national oil and gas company, and agreed to carry out research on transporting Kazakh oil through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea,” the chairman of the Kazenergy association, Timur Kulibayev, told a news conference held within the Kazakh energy week in Astana today. Kulibayev said that the matter concerned possible construction of a new pipeline within the existing Baku-Supsa corridor.

This week Kulibayev sued several Kazakh papers for libel after the published a letter from an exiled Kazakh banker accusing him of corruption.

In the letter, former banker Mukhtar Ablyazov accused Kulibayev of pocketing a portion of proceeds from the sale of a government stake in a Kazakh oil company to a state Chinese major. The government sold the stake for $150 million in 2003….Kulibayev, 43, is deputy chief executive of Kazakhstan’s powerful state welfare fund Samruk-Kazyna which controls key state companies such as energy firm KazMunaiGas [KMG.UL]. Kulibayev and his wife indirectly own a 41.8 percent stake in Kazakhstan’s second-largest bank, London-listed Halyk (HSBKq.L) HSBK.KZ.

The exiled politician who made the allegation, Mukhar Ablyazov, once Kazakhstan’s energy minister, used to run another Kazakh bank, BTA BTAS.KZ, until early 2009. The state accused Ablyazov of fraud last year, blaming him for part of BTA’s losses which exceeded $8 billion. Ablyazov, who has since left Kazakhstan, has denied any wrongdoing. BTA has since been nationalised.

Kazakh officials seized copies of the offending newspapers.

ALMATY — Kazakh officials have seized editions of at least five opposition and independent newspapers that contain an article alleging corruption by President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s son-in-law, Timur Kulibaev, who is suing the newspapers, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports.

An Almaty district court ordered the seizure of the newspapers after Kulibaev filed a libel lawsuit against the publications “Respublika,” “Golos Respubliki” (Voice of the Republic), “Vzglyad” (Glance), “Kursiv,” and “Kursiv-News.”

The court also banned any reports “damaging the dignity and honor of Timur Kulibaev.” Kulibaev is an executive in many of Kazakhstan’s energy-sector businesses.

All of the impounded newspapers had printed a statement by former Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, who accused Kulibaev of corruption on several websites last week.

Ablyazov, who left Kazakhstan for London in 2009 after his BTA Bank was taken over by the government, stated that he had sent open letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao, China’s prosecutor-general, and the state security minister urging them to look into the companies involved in an allegedly corrupt deal with Kazakhstan.

Ablyazov claimed in the letter that when the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed several years ago to buy shares of Kazakhstan’s AqtobeMunayGaz oil and gas company, Kulibaev made CNPC create an offshore company.

Ablyazov said that 49 percent of the off-shore company’s shares were sold to Darley Investment Services — which is controlled by Kulibaev — for $49. Ablyazov claims that CNPC and some of its branches then bought the shares back from Darley Investment Services for $165.9 million.

^^^^^^^

Could Kulibayev be corrupt?

According to News of the World in March 2008, Timur Kulibayev fathered a “love child” with a woman named Goga Ashkenazi (also known as Gaukhar Berkalieva). Ms. Ashkenazi has also dated Prince Andrew. (candid photos)

PRINCE Andrew had an intimate date with a society beauty just 72 HOURS after she gave birth to Timur Kulibayev’s lovechild, the News of the World can reveal. The Duke of York and sultry Goga Ashkenazi enjoyed a three-hour dinner at his favourite Chinese restaurant. It is not known if Andrew was aware that his Kazakhstan-born companion, the secret mistress of married Russian oil tycoon Timur Kulibayev, had just given birth.

And after the meal, 28-year-old Goga told pals: “I have every girl’s dream—a prince on one arm and a billionaire on the other.”

Kulibayev, 41, has a £1.2billion fortune and is married to the daughter of Kazakhstan’s President. Goga gave birth to his son, Adam Berkaliev, at London’s Great Portland Street hospital on December 27. Three days later, she arrived for dinner with Andrew in Ascot, Berks, in a chauffeur-driven £137,000 Bentley Continental Flying Spur.

…”We all knew that Andrew gave her unbeatable social status and was a valuable business contact too. “But in the romance stakes he is neither as powerful nor anywhere near as rich as Mr Kulibayev. I don’t think he comes close.” Andrew, 48—who gets a £250,000 a year allowance from the Queen— counts Goga as a “dear friend” and even introduced her to his mother at Ascot races last summer.

…The dusky brunette—whose real name is Gaukhar Berkalieva—was born in Kazakhstan in 1980 and educated in England from the age of 13. Her mother Saule Aralbayeva lives with her in Surrey. Goga has mixed with the wealthiest men in society since she was a teenager. Formula One supremo Flavio Briatore fell for her in 2002 and introduced her to the international playboy jet-set.

…Briatore, 57, is reported to have dumped Goga her discovering she was not, as he thought, the daughter of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. After that Goga fell for Kulibayev, who controls access to Kazakhstan’s vast untapped reserves of crude oil. It was hoped her friendship with Prince Andrew would please the tycoon and help generate investment in his oilfields. The prince travelled to Kazakhstan in October last year looking to promote links with the UK’s North Sea oil industry.

…In contrast to her flirty style with Prince Andrew, Goga is said to be very respectful of Kulibayev. He was widely tipped, until recently, to be the hand-picked successor of President Nazarbayev. Despite his high profile and politically significant marriage to the president’s daughter, he and Goga registered the birth of their son together in London last month. They went to Westminster Council’s register office on February 5, taking Goga’s maiden name as their boy’s surname. The father is named on the birth certificate as Timur Askarovich Kulibayev and his profession is listed as “entrepreneur”.

Goga has one failed marriage behind her. She wed Aidar Akayev, son of the President of Kyrgyzstan, in 1998. He later fled the country accused of money laundering and the relationshipe broke down.

…Kulibayev’s marriage to President Nazarbayev’s middle daughter Dinara cemented his position at the heart of the country’s powerbase and he was put in control of the country’s oil and his family’s finances. The tycoon is said to have kept Goga on a luxury yacht off the coast of Turkey during a holiday with Dinara in 2007.  His daily visits to his mistress, almost within sight of his wife, were an open secret among his staff. Goga’s loyalty to Kulibayev has been lavishly rewarded. She is currently Chief Executive Officer of MunaiGaz Engineering, a Kazakh oil firm with offices in London’s Grosvenor Cresent, that is building a pipeline across Kazakhstan.

A few months later, Prince Andrew’s marital home was sold to an offshore company for £15m.

In May The Sunday Times revealed that the foreign buyer had paid £3m more than the guide price on the property, even though there were no other bidders and it had been languishing unsold on the market for five years. Now it has emerged that the Kazakh who negotiated to buy Sunninghill Park may not be the real owner of the property, which in less than a year has become neglected and semi-derelict with doors left unlocked. Close family members of the man who negotiated the sale were also under investigation for suspected money laundering at the time of the sale, which took place last year.

…What is not in doubt is that the true buyer of Sunninghill Park is personally known to Andrew, who has a number of links to Kazakhstan, both professional and personal. He has visited the country many times on official business in his capacity as a roving amabassador for British trade and also on discreet private trips.
On one of his most recent visits, in May, he is understood to have spent a weekend on a goose-shooting excursion with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan.

A spokesmen for the prince said that the sale of Sunninghill Park was a private matter, as no public money had been involved. But the Duke of York’s public role, for which he last year received £436,000 to cover his expenses, makes it essential that all his dealings are seen to be above board.

The Sunday Times has established that Kenes Rakishev, a wealthy 29-year-old Kazakh businessman, negotiated the purchase. He was said by a source close to the deal to have orchestrated it with the help of Imangali Tasmagambetov, his father-in-law, who is the mayor of Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Andrew, who knows both Rakishev and Tasmagambetov, has refused to comment on the identity of the owner of his former home, which was a gift from the Queen at the time of his marriage to Ferguson.

Gaukhar “Goga” Ashkenazi, a 28-year-old Kazakh business-woman who is often seen with Andrew, is said to have told friends that she is the owner of Sunninghill Park and intends to knock it down and build something new. No planning applications have been lodged, and this weekend a spokeswoman for Ashkenazi, who last year bought a house in Holland Park, west London, for £27.5m, denied that she is connected to Sunninghill Park.

The other person who is thought to be the owner of Sunninghill Park is one of the most powerful men in Kazakhstan. Outstanding water bills for the property have been sent to a woman who works for him.

Timur Kulibayev, 41, is a billionaire oil and gas tycoon who is known to Andrew, not least through their attendance at hunting parties thrown by Nazarbayev. Sometimes, according to sources, the president has been known to shoot bears.

…Kulibayev’s connection to Sunninghill Park is well hidden. But the Crown Estate, which runs Windsor Great Park in which Sunninghill Park is sited, has been attempting to send invoices for outstanding water bills at the property to a woman called Olga Aristova, who works for Kulibayev in Kazakhstan. Rakishev said that Aristova worked for the billionaire as a manager. She refused to comment when contacted. At the same time, a debt collection agency working for the power company E.ON has been pursuing Rakishev for electricity bills of more than £4,000 for Sunninghill Park.

…One Kazakh politician described Rakishev as Kulibayev’s “bell boy”.

…Kulibayev, who is a former vice-president of KazMunaiGas (KMG), the state oil and gas company, and now chairman of KazEnergy, the industry’s umbrella organisation, repeatedly failed to respond to questions put to him. Although on paper Kulibayev is no longer connected to KMG, his tentacles in the oil industry are still far-reaching. They will undoubtedly have brought him into contact with the prince whose official task for the government is to help to broker deals between British firms and foreign interests.

According to one politician in Kazakhstan, the prince met representatives of KMG in May at the time of one of his most recent private trips. Witnesses also report seeing the prince in the country on a private visit in November, shortly after an official visit. On that occasion Andrew was seen at a bar called Soho in the city of Almaty. Again, he was said to be in the company of senior executives from KMG while also enjoying the attentions of a brunette.

Kulibayev has also been busy inviting VIPs, reportedly including the prince, to regular hunting meets hosted by the Kazakh president. The events involve hospitality of every conceivable kind.


That’s a worrying statement right there. One might pause to extrapolate here.

You know, I think it’s possible they might be corrupt.

Nazarbayev’s financial dealings are being exposed to unfavourable scrutiny. He is facing embarrassment in the United States over a pending court case involving James Giffen, an American businessman who is accused of paying Nazarbayev $78m in bribes from oil companies in return for contracts.

Nazarbayev and other Kazakhs who are linked to people involved in the purchase of Sunninghill Park were, at the same time, being investigated by prosecutors in Liechtenstein over suspicions of money laundering via a company called the Walisa Foundation.

Among the 10 people involved in the “preliminary investigation” were Tasmagambetov, who has denied any connection to the prince’s house sale, his daughter Asel, who is married to Rakishev, and Dinara Kulibayeva.

According to Interpol transmissions between Liechtenstein and the United States, Tasmagambetov, Nazarbayev and Dinara were being investigated over a suspicion of money laundering, while Asel was described as also “involved in this case”. Rakishev was not involved.

And as for Prince Andrew, it all worked out swell. He’s on a small allowance and it’s not easy, you know.

…The extra money from the sale will have come in handy. After leaving Sunninghill Park, Andrew, whose only known personal income is a £249,000 annuity from his mother, moved into Royal Lodge, the Queen Mother’s former Windsor residence. He borrowed money from the Queen to fund a £7m refur-bishment on the understanding that he would pay her back from the sale of Sunninghill. Thanks to the Kazakhs he can easily afford to pay his debts.

^^^^^^^

Moneyed people and royals in Britian have become enamored with all things Kazakhstan.

Britain is the third largest foreign investor nation in Kazakhstan. More than 100 UK-based companies are operating there, primarily in the field of energy, although the St Helens-based Pilkington glass company is currently developing a plant near Kyzylorda, which was said at its inception in 2007 to be the largest industrial project in the country.

Undoubtedly the British kingpin in this economic love-in is Sir Richard Evans, the former chairman of BAE Systems and the man who brokered the largest arms deal in British history during the 1980s in Saudi Arabia. Sir Dick is a world-renowned tough cookie. Since 2006 he has been in charge of Samruk, the Kazakh oil-to-railwaysto-airline state holding company, now Samruk-Kazyna, which controls one third of the nation’s developing economy and in effect employs some 250,000 of the 16 million population. Not bad for a lad from Lancashire.

Furthermore, two years ago Lord Rothschild established an investment fund, Tau Capital, to ‘give investors the opportunity to participate in the wealth of investment opportunities in Kazakhstan,’ says its website. Interestingly, this is a return to the region for the Rothschilds who, at the start of the 1900s, were the second most important family in the Caspian Sea area.

But what has attracted headlines beyond the business pages is the number of members of our own Royal Family who have taken an interest in all matters Kazakh. Earlier this month Prince Michael of Kent confided that he was heading to Almaty on a ‘private visit’ business trip later this year. ‘There are a number of ventures I am looking into,’ he said. These are belttightening times for the Prince, who has announced that from next year he will be paying an annual rent of [pounds sterling]120,000 to remain at the apartment in Kensington Palace that he has long shared with his wife for a nominal amount. One can only imagine that Prince Michael has taken advice from Prince Andrew who has had serious property problems of his own, only to have them solved by doing business with the man who has run Kazakhstan with an iron grip for almost two decades.

Tight. One big happy family.

UPDATE: Goga Ashkenazi turns 30, has a big party with her friends.

Who said we live in austerity Britain? Last night saw the 30th birthday party of glamorous socialite Goga Ashkenazi, who has shot from being a complete unknown to boasting that she has “a prince on one arm and a billionaire on the other”. That refers to her close friendships with Prince Andrew and the son-in-law of the Kazakh premier, Nursultan Nazarbayev, oil magnate Timur Kulibayev, with whom she is believed to have had a child.
The guest list for the Tyringham Hall, Buckinghamshire, soirée included the Duke of York, Colonel Gaddafi’s socialite sons, Moutassim and Saif, Sir Philip Green, Lord Mandelson and Lakshmi Mittal. Meanwhile, the dress code stated “black tie and truly fabulous” as tycoons were told that they could drop off their private jets at, er, Luton Airport. Camparis all round!

And:

And partygoers — who included Russian model Natalia Vodianova, Indian-born steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, glamourpuss Nancy Dell’Olio, and Lord Mandelson — were asked to adhere to a ‘black tie and truly fabulous’ dress code. But not even the spectacle of Kazakhstan beauty Goga’s image being beamed on to the walls of the 18th-century mansion could match the highlight of the evening — special guest Prince Andrew (whose house Goga sold) being  entertained by a live performance from louche American rapper Akon, famous for his hit song Smack That.

North Korea, multi-purpose tool, links into all the hotspots

1. firms in 5 countries linked to N. Korean arms smuggling: Kazakhstan, Ukraine, New Zealand, UAE, Sri Lanka, Iran (natch)

Five companies in five countries were involved in a complex process of cargo laundering for a shipment of North Korean arms that was confiscated at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport last month, according to media reports.

Efforts to track the cargo were complicated by the involvement of a Kazakh arms dealer and his wife who handled the arms through a ghost company, AP said Tuesday. Thai police discovered 40 tons of North Korean arms including multiple rocket launchers, 40 surface-to-air missiles, and hundreds of rocket-propelled grenades worth an estimated US$18 million on an Ilyushin cargo plane operated by Air West of Georgia, which landed in Bangkok on Dec. 12.

All five crew were arrested, but it was not easy to trace the route the arms had taken. Alexander Zykov, a Kazakh dealer in illegal arms, is allegedly behind the transport. He hired five crew for an air freight company he owned named East Wing in Kiev, Ukraine, in July last year. Three days later, a friend of Zykov’s established a ghost company named SP Trading in New Zealand.

SP Trading then leased the cargo plane from Air West, which is also effectively run by Zykov and had earlier leased it to Overseas Trading FZE, a company in the United Arab Emirates owned by Zykov’s wife. Once SP Trading had leased the plane, it received an order from a Hong Kong-registered firm, Union Top Management, to transport “petroleum industry components” from the [North] Korean General Trading Corporation.

The plane took off from Kiev and flew via Azerbaijan and the UAE to North Korea. Once the freight had been loaded, it was scheduled to stop for refueling in Thailand and fly west to Ukraine by way of Sri Lanka and the UAE. From there, some reports say it was leapfrogged via Iran to Montenegro, but the tiny peaceful principality seems an unlikely final destination for the cargo.

source: chosun ilbo

2. North Korea also supplying ‘Congolese insurgents’

North Korea smuggled about 3,400 tons of weapons into the Democratic Republic of Congo in the midst of a civil war there in January, with some of them going to Congolese insurgents or nearby countries, VOA quoted a UN official as saying Wednesday.

Christian Dietrich, a member of the UN Security Council committee investigating Congo, told VOA that the North Korean ship Birobong arrived in the port of Boma, Congo on Jan. 21, where it unloaded some 3,400 tons of weapons, 100 times the amount seized in Thailand earlier this month.

more @ chosun ilbo

3. US congressional report says NK also passing WMD tech to Syria, through Iran of course — sorry no details classified into, you understand

A new U.S. congressional report claims North Korea is transferring weapons technology to Syria through Iran. In the report, the Congressional Research Service, an entity that works exclusively for the U.S. Congress, revealed that Iran was assisting in the procurement of weapons of mass destruction-related technology by providing North Korea with a platform for such trade with Syria. The report however does not offer further details on the alleged interaction.

source: chosun ilbo

4. Hillary Clinton — very worried about NK and Burma

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says military cooperation between North Korea and Burma would be very destabilizing for the region, and would pose a direct threat to Burma’s neighbors. She says Washington is taking regional concerns about this connection “very seriously.” Clinton addressed the concerns on Tuesday in Bangkok after meeting Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. She will join a regional security conference in Phuket on Wednesday.North Korea’s possible cooperation with Burma made headlines in June, when the U.S. Navy began tracking a North Korean ship believed to be traveling to Burma with suspicious cargo. The ship returned to North Korea without ever docking in Burma.

more @ chosun ilbo

5. Iran buys masses of arms from North Korea, ships them all over the world, including to Hamas and Hezbollah, according to WaPo, citing US and UN officials. yup they know all about it.

Iran has imported piles of North Korean-made conventional weapons, the Washington Post reported Thursday, even though both countries are under UN sanctions over their nuclear programs. Weapons also went to two Palestinian militant organizations, the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Islamist Hamas, the paper said.

To avoid international pursuit, the North Korean weapons were “shipped halfway around the globe in sealed containers, labeled as oil-drilling supplies, that passed through a succession of freighters and ports,” including China, Southeast Asia and the Dubai free trade zone, before reaching Iran, it said.

One example was a shipment of North Korean weapons aboard the ANL Australia which was confiscated by United Arab Emirates authorities on July 22. According to U.S. and UN officials, the ship carried 2,030 detonators for 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, as well as electric circuitry and solid-fuel propellant for rockets, which Hamas and Hezbollah use when attacking Israel.

The UAE made no official announcement, but the paper said the shipment of North Korean weapons consisted of 10 cargo containers. They left the North Korean port of Nampo on May 30, five days after the North’s second nuclear test on May 25 and before the UN Security Council adopted a fresh resolution sanctioning the North.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1874 on June 12, extending the arms embargo on North Korea and authorizing member states to inspect its cargo on land, sea, and air. By that time, the vessel carrying the arms had already arrived in China. The containers were transferred to a Chinese ship in the northern port of Dalian on June 13.

From there, they were ferried to Shanghai, where they were moved to a third ship, the ANL Australia, a 47,326 ton freighter. They were finally discovered at the port of Khor Fakkan in the UAE. The officials claimed that there were as many as five such smuggling attempts since early this year.

source: chosun ilbo

6. on top of all that, the North Koreans are firing away past an imaginary line in the ocean

North Korea vowed to continue artillery drills Wednesday along the West Sea border after firing dozens of shells on two separate occasions there, reiterating that the de-facto inter-Korean border should be redrawn. After the first batch of about 30 artillery shells in the morning, South Korea responded by firing warning shots, but no casualties or damage occurred.

The North began firing again at 3:25 p.m., with a dozen more shells landing north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto western sea border. But the South did not respond.  This is the first time that the North has fired artillery into the NLL in the West Sea, though the navies from both Koreas have exchanged gunfire near the border before.  No casualties or injuries were reported as both sides fired in the air and no fishing boats were present, a spokesman for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

more @ korea times



developments in the “war on terror”

1. Nigerian president reportedly brain-damaged in Saudi Arabia

President Umaru Yar’Adua is seriously brain damaged, is not able to recognise anyone, including his wife Turai, and can no longer perform the functions of the office of the president, according to multiple sources who have spoken to NEXT on Sunday.  But this fact, which has left a nation of 150 million people rudderless and its government in disarray, is being concealed from the public through an elaborate scam orchestrated directly and energetically by the First Lady.

read more @ NEXT

2. SITE says qaeda threatens to execute French hostage in Mali (three Saudis recently killed near Mali border recently, that was “al qaeda” too)

The north African branch of al-Qaida said it will execute a French hostage unless four of its militants are freed from jail in Mali in 20 days, the U.S. monitoring group SITE said on Monday.

source: naharnet

3. crew of seized plane turns to Kazakh president in Thai court

The four Kazakh crew members of an arms-laden cargo plane seized in Bangkok in mid-December have asked the president of Kazakhstan to defend them as they face major charges for illegal transportation of weapons….”We were making a flight ordered by the Air West Georgia company and the plane’s lessee, AirTech company, from Ukraine. In line with a contract, we should have transported a 35-ton civil cargo from Pyongyang to Kiev. The flight to Pyongyang was made on schedule… After landing in Pyongyang on December 10, 2009, in the evening, we went to a hotel,” the crew, which is now being held in the Bangkok Remand prison, said in the statement. According to the statement, the next morning, when the crew arrived at the airport, they found the cargo packed in wooden and iron boxes and sealed. “We were not allowed to inspect the cargo,” the crew said, adding “according to documents, the cargo consisted of ‘mechanical parts,’ and looked similar to oil drilling equipment.”

more @ ria novosti

4. Thailand: suspects in 20 year old Saudi case indicted

The case has received much attention from the public. Saudi charge d’affaires to Thailand Nabil Ashri, who on Monday voiced his concern over the handling of the case by Thai authorities to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, described the indictment of the five suspects as “good news” which Saudi Arabia has long been waiting for. He said Saudi Arabia waited for nearly 20 years to see the first case being brought into the judicial process.  The two other cases are the murder of three Saudi diplomats, also in 1990, and the jewellery theft in 1989.

more @ bangkok post

5. Saudi teen poses as pilot in Manila airport

A 19-year-old Saudi Arabian man dressed as a pilot was arrested Tuesday after he illegally entered a restricted area in the main airport in the Philippines, an airport official said. “He was able to elude our security by misrepresenting himself as a pilot of Saudi,” said airport general manager Alfonso Cusi, referring to the Saudi Arabian flag carrier. …The detained Saudi, identified by the local authorities as Hani Abdulelah Bukhari, told airport police he was there to meet his father, a retired Saudi pilot who later arrived on a flight from Saudi Arabia. He was wearing a pilot’s uniform from Saudi Airlines when airport security personnel noticed him lining up at the immigration section of the passenger terminal, Cusi told ABS-CBN television.

more @ naharnet

6. Canadian faces terror charges

OTTAWA - A TORONTO man who earned a six-figure salary as a computer programmer appeared in court on Monday for the first day of his trial on charges of plotting to attack Canada’s main stock exchange and other targets. Shareef Abdelhaleem, 34, is accused of conspiring to bomb Canada’s main stock exchange, spy agency offices and a military base in order to try to provoke Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

more @ straits times

7. FBI and Shin Bet tracked Teitel a year before his arrest — it was all just police work you understand

A year prior to Yakov “Jack” Teitel’s arrest, the Shin Bet and the FBI were in close contact as part of an investigation into bombings targeting homosexuals, messianic Christians and left-wing figures, Haaretz has learned.  Teitel was arrested on October 7. However, the initial exchanges on the case between the two security services on the case began in October 2008, when a Shin Bet officer, code-named Ariel, contacted the FBI with a request for assistance in the investigation. Eventually, the authorities would come to suspect Teitel as the person behind the bombings.

more @ haaretz  http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1142043.html

8. Houston TX consulate reportedly issued questionable passports

Three Indian citizens, including a man linked to the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, were issued Pakistani passports by the country’s consulate in the U.S. city of Houston, an anti-corruption court has been told by a senior diplomat. Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston, Aqil Nadeem, appeared as a witness in the accountability court in Rawalpindi on Monday and confirmed that Pakistani passports were issued by the consulate to Indian nationals Aziz Moosa, Saleem Ali and Abdul Sadiq.

more @ the hindu

many people throwing their weight around

1. India, Bangladesh sign 5 pacts

NEW DELHI - LEADERS of India and Bangladesh met in New Delhi on Monday with talks focused on strengthening the previously difficult ties between the two south Asian neighbours, an Indian official said. Cross-border relations have improved in recent years and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s delegation signed five cooperation agreements with India in areas ranging from cultural exchanges, security, preventing crime and power supply.

more @ straits times

2. India confers Indira Ghandi Peace Prize to Bangladeshi PM

NEW DELHI, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — India Tuesday conferred Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to peace and democracy, reported the Indo-Asian News Service. Indian President Pratibha Patil conferred the award at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace and praised Hasina for “shaping her country’s onward path of progress and development”, said the report.

more @ chinaview

3. Malaysian PM to visit Saudi Arabia

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be making an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 13-16 to deepen bilateral ties, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said here on Tuesday. Najib will later attend the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 18. Malaysia will be working towards enhancing trade and investment relations with the two countries.

source: chinaview

4. Clinton to visit Japan, Pacific region

Since coming to power last year, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has pushed to see negotiations restart on the SOFA agreement, creating tension between the two countries. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to decide by May how to proceed on the base issue. Apart from talks with Okada, Clinton will deliver a policy speech focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement in Hawaii, and will be consulting with the Pacific Command. She will be traveling to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, her first visit to the region since becoming the secretary of state. In Canberra, Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts Stephen Smith and John Falkner will participate in the 25th Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations to discuss key global and regional security challenges.

source: chinaview

5. ASEAN prepares own “Marshall Plan’

MANILA, Philippines—Asean is preparing its own Marshall Plan, the United States program in post World War II to rebuild and create an economically stronger Western Europe to repel the threat of internal communism, the Asean Secretariat said Tuesday….In a working lunch in Jakarta Monday, Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan described the plan to Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Masayuki Naoshima. He urged the Japanese official and his delegation to look at the plan and the roles of Asean and Eria as a package….Surin, who coined the “Marshall Plan for Asia” tag for the plan, said his office was collaborating with Eria and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the development of the plan. The plan aims “to contribute to coordinating, expediting, upgrading, and expanding sub-regional initiatives and promoting private sector participation.”

more @ inquirer

6. incoming EU trade chief sees WTO deal by 2011

BRUSSELS—Would-be new European trade chief Karel De Gucht expressed confidence on Tuesday that a deal to free up international commerce is attainable by next year.… The Doha round began in 2001, with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations by striking an accord that will cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. Deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed. Discussions have been dogged by disagreements on issues including how much the US and the EU should reduce aid to their farmers and the extent to which developing countries such as India, China and South Africa should cut tariffs. “We have to do that deal,” De Gucht added, refusing to concede that the terms of the talks had to change to take account of the aftermath of the global economic crisis.

more @ inquirer

7. China views Ethiopia as major economic trading partner

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — China views Ethiopia as its major economic and trading partner in Africa, says Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Monday….Chen put forward a four-point proposal on further development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation: First, further expanding its imports from Ethiopia through the use of tariff-free policies; Second, strengthening cooperation in investment and engineering contracts and continuing to encourage strong Chinese firms to invest in Ethiopia; Third, fully implementing the eight new measures to enhance cooperation with Africa; Fourth, further promoting cooperation in official development assistance to support Ethiopia’s infrastructure, and projects aimed to improve people’s well-being.

more @ chinaview

8. China, Morocco hold talks on enhancing bilateral ties

RABAT, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is on a five-nation African tour, held talks Monday with his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi Fihri on ways to upgrade relations between the two countries….Yang is on his first official foreign visit of the year that includes five African nations, namely Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Saudi Arabia. It has been China’s tradition for 20 years that its foreign minister visits Africa in the beginning of the year.

more @ chinaview

9. China VP meets Pakistan’s opposition party chief

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met Tuesday in Beijing with Nawaz Sharif, chief of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying party exchanges would help facilitate bilateral relations….Highlighting the friendship between China and Pakistan, Xi said China had treated bilateral ties from a long-term and strategic perspective and would make efforts with Pakistan to lift pragmatic cooperation. Sharif expressed his admiration for the achievements China had made, saying the political parties in Pakistan shared the view of improving friendly cooperation with China.

more @ chinaview

10. experts discuss NATO’s future at Prague meeting

An international conference has opened in Prague, aiming to help redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. The international panel is led by former U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright. About hundred other experts are also participating. The group is working to update the alliance’s mission statement, which was written in 1999. Albright is present at Tuesday’s gathering. The draft will be submitted for consideration to the leaders of NATO’s member nations at their spring summit in Lisbon, Portugal. NATO started the process to update its outdated mission statement last year to focus on handling new challenges such as piracy, terrorism and cyber attacks as well a resurgent Russia.

source: taiwan news

11. new EU foreign chief criticized for lack of specifics

Under its previous holder Javier Solana, the post of top EU diplomat focused on smoothing relations and boosting Europe’s influence in such places as the Middle East, Iran, and the Balkans. But the job has greater powers under the new Lisbon Treaty of reforms, even though the EU’s 27 nations remain well in charge over foreign and defense policy, with Ashton set to be their mouthpiece. Despite the pressure, Ashton appeared relaxed throughout, confidently responding to questions mainly focused on institutional concerns and how the former EU trade commissioner saw the future of EU foreign policy. She gave answers that demonstrated an understanding of the issues, but would not be drawn into diplomatic minefields like her stance on sanctions against Iran and was cautious on Middle East policy. More broadly she urged Europe to play a greater role on the world stage. “I am convinced there is a clear call, inside the EU and around the world, for greater European engagement—to promote peace, protect the vulnerable, fight poverty ,and address the many problems of our time,” she said. “We have to answer this call.”

more @ inquirer

12. Kazakh minister visits Vienna, Austria

Secretary of State - Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev began his official visit to Vienna yesterday… According to the press release, the visit on part of OSCE Chairman Saudabayev, to Austria will take place on January 12 - 15. Saudabayev will meet with President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, to discuss the further development of Kazakhstan-Austrian cooperation as part of international organizations. … According to the press release, Astana considers Vienna a key political and economic partner in the EU, and is interested in developing bilateral dialogue in all areas and levels. During the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will hold meetings with UN structures administration based in Vienna – including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Universal Prohibition of Nuclear Tests to discuss cooperation with these organizations, according to Kazakhstan Today.

source

13. Austrian president to visit China next week

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Austrian President Heinz Fischer will pay a state visit to China from next Tuesday to Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.  Fischer will make the visit as guest of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular briefing.   This will be Fischer’s first China trip since he took office in 2004.

source: chinaview

14. China very very very unhappy with US weapons sales to Taiwan — in diplomatic language this is a full-blown fit

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Defense Department announced on January 6 the approval of a plan of Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell Patriot III missiles to Taiwan. Although it was a step to implement the huge-scale arms sales package announced by the George W. Bush administration in October 2008, such a move only about one month after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to China tarnished the China-U.S. ties….the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan fully justified any suspicion about the United States’ sincerity to take concrete actions to “respect each other’s core interests.”

Undoubtedly, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violated the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the spirit of the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement, breached the U.S. promise to respect the core interests of China and disobeyed the mainstream wish shared by the people across the Straits.  This move clearly showed the dual character of the United States in dealing with the major issues related to China’s core interests, especially at the moment that the cross-Straits relations have embarked on a path of peaceful development.

Profound lessons should be drawn from history. All previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have caused great damage to the Sino-U.S. relations and blocked their stable and smooth development.  This time is no exception, since the arms sales to Taiwan are rootless and absolutely harmful, whether from the perspectives of legal, moral and justice principles, or from the perspectives of joint interests of the two countries and the long-term development of their relations.

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