Life in the Putin's Army: Beatings, Torture and Rape and 'Clockwork Orange-like' Sadism

New Zealand News: "Russia's once mighty armed forces are riddled with Clockwork Orange-style sadism where senior soldiers subject their junior colleagues to vicious beatings, torture, sexual violence and death threats, a report claimed yesterday. After three years of research and more than 100 interviews with victims, New York-based Human Rights Watch said the problem of bullying - known as Dedovshchina or "rule of the grandfathers" - had reached horrific levels which were sapping morale and undermining combat readiness. Official figures say 25 soldiers have died as a result of bullying by older conscripts since the beginning of the year, 12 others have died from excessive force used by their officers and 109 have committed suicide."

Guerillas in Russisan School May Have Fled or Surrendered Had Different Strategy Been Used

Boston Globe: "The guerrillas who took over a school in southern Russia last week argued heatedly with one another over whether to abandon the siege in the moments leading up to the firestorm of explosions and shooting that killed hundreds of children and adults, Russian officials said yesterday. Investigators are still trying to piece together how the first bomb went off; that bomb triggered the confrontation. Aslakhanov said one theory was that a guerrilla grew confused over the wires and connected the wrong ones, setting it off. But Aslakhanov also pointed to the internal rift. 'The special services have a recording of a split among the terrorists,' he said. 'Some wanted to leave and others wanted to stay. The conflict was happening and at that moment this tragic explosion occurred.' "

Putin Proves He's a Bush Soul-Mate: Blocks Investigation into Tragedy, Refuses to Use Diplomacy to Save Lives

Guardian: "Vladimir Putin, last night refused to order a public inquiry into how the Beslan school was captured by gunmen and then ended with such a high death toll, and told the Guardian that people who call for talks with Chechen leaders have no conscience [but people like Putin who allow children to be slaughtered to prove their machismo DO?] ""Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?' Why don't you do that?" he said with searing [arrogant rightwing Bush-like] sarcasm. "You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are childkillers?" Gee, maybe because if you had TALKED to the "bastards" they wouldn't have become childkillers!

No Wonder Bush can See into Putin's Soul! Russia uses Death Squads and Torture in Chechnya

Independent: "Russian forces in Chechnya were yesterday accused of operating So. American-style death squads which routinely target innocent civilians. Russian troops were also accused of running unofficial torture centres known as "filtration camps" and of routinely committing war crimes and human rights abuses "with total impunity." [Amnesty International says] Russia's occupying forces indulge in the systematic rape, torture and kidnapping of innocent civilians. Very few of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. The findings contradicted the Russian government's claim that the situation in the strife-torn republic was "normalising" and accused Russia of failing miserably to live up to its human rights obligations. "In spite of claims to the contrary by Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen officials, the situation in the Chechen republic is far from normal.""

Vladmir Putin Puts Bush to Shame by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol

This week, Vladimir Putin stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun for Planet Earth by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Although the Duma must approve the move, observers say Putin's move will make it very hard for them to decline. Reports Reuters: "Without Russia, Kyoto would collapse because President George W. Bush pulled the United States's 36 percent share out in 2001, arguing that the U.N. scheme was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations."

Russia to Ratify Kyoto Protocol, Leaving US Isolated as 'Environmental Sinner'

While recent reports show that more than half of all Americans now breath air dirtier than EPA minimal standards and the nation's national parks are obscured by smog, Bush continues to use phony science and voodoo economics to justify his failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Now Russia, which earlier followed Bush's lead on the Protocol, is breaking away and joining forces with the European Union in agreements that will not only help clean up the air but economically benefit both. The Independent reports that Russia's decision "would allow the United Nations treaty to finally become legally binding and leave America isolated on the world stage as an environmental sinner. An anonymous Kremlin source told the daily Kommersant that the announcement may be made during a two-day visit to Russia by Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi... or... an EU-Russia summit in May."

The Benefits of NOT Being a Bush Booster: Putin Wins by a Landslide

On Mar 14, Putin won reelection by a landslide (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3511164.stm'). He was without doubt aided by the fact that he has, in recent months distanced himself from Bush, even refusing to go on the record as supporting Bush's reelection bid. In January, Colin Powell sharply criticized Putin and ran the blast in a Russian paper. It backfired -- a consensus of opinion in Russia was that if the White House criticizes Putin, he must not be all bad! Meanwhile, every declared Bush booster is now struggling: Berlusconi is facing fraud charges, Tony Blair continues to narrowly dodge a no-confidence vote from his own party, and in Spain, the party of Aznar (who vociferously backed Bush's war) lost big in the 3/14 election. In short, being a Bush booster is an international kiss of death!

US Military Will Stay in Georgia; Bush Challenges Russia to Remove Its Military

"Georgia's new president-elect has set the removal of Russian troops still based in the country as a major priority for his government. On Saturday the US ambassador to Georgia said they had decided to continue training the Georgian army in a full-time programme -- US 'security guarantee.' For Moscow, the Caucasus is a geopolitical backyard, rich in energy resources and crucial to the conflict in Chechnya. Moscow's refusal to remove its military bases from Georgia has long fueled tensions between the two countries... Last week, the Bush administration also called for Russia to remove its military."

Busheviks Complain about Pro-Government Media Bias - In RUSSIA

"The US raised concerns about the fairness of Russia's [America's] parliamentary [Congressional] election, which handed a victory to allies of Vladimir Putin [Bush]... The OSCE said the vote was skewed by use of state resources to promote United Russia [GOP], a party loyal to Putin [Bush], and State Dept. spokesman Richard Boucher expressed concern about state media 'systematically reporting favorably on pro-Kremlin [pro-White House] parties and reporting negatively on opponents.' 'We share those concerns - a fact which underlines the importance of Russian [American] legislators dedicating themselves to pushing through the political and economic reform agenda,' McClellan told reporters. Interfax quoted a Kremlin source as saying in response, 'The record of the last presidential elections in the U.S. hardly entitles the American side to make such comments' - a reference to disputed 2000 vote recount in Florida that put Bush in the White House."

Autumn of the Oligarch

Wm. Pfaff writes: "The Yukos affair in Russia is being treated abroad as a challenge to political liberties and the latest example of President Vladimir Putin's appetite for power, but this is true only in a superficial and dangerously misleading sense. The conflict between Putin and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of Yukos Oil and Russia's richest man, is a stage in the struggle over what Russia is to become during the next decade. The issue is whether the oligarchs will control the Russian state, or whether a Russian national and nationalist elite will control the oligarchs... The alternative to Russia's control by the oligarchs is a Russia run by the ambitious elite Putin represents, which emerged from the intelligence and security apparatus of the former Soviet Union. This politically conscious elite sees itself responsible to history for the Russian nation. It is authoritarian in style and action. What this will mean to the nature of Russian government in the future is unforeseeable."

US Demanded Russian Diplomats Leave Baghdad

"Russian diplomats who came under fire as they fled Baghdad headed to Moscow on Tuesday, and a media report claimed that Washington had demanded they leave on suspicion the embassy had aided Iraqi forces. The Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and U.S. Embassy in Moscow all declined to comment on the report... The business daily Kommersant reported Tuesday that Russian diplomats left Baghdad after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell "repeatedly and persistently" demanded their evacuation. Kommersant also quoted an unidentified Russian Defense Ministry official as saying that Washington had demanded the embassy's evacuation because it suspected Russian diplomats were providing technical assistance to Iraqi forces defending Baghdad."

Russian Ambassador Says U.S. Deliberately Attacked His Convoy

AFP reports, "The Russian ambassador to Iraq accused US forces of deliberately shooting at his convoy as it was fleeing Iraq for Syria." The RIA Novosti news agency first reported that "Ambassador Vladimir Titorenko was lightly injured, with his arm hurt in the attack. The ambassador thinks that the column of Russian cars, filled with diplomats and journalists, was deliberately attacked by the Americans." AP reports "earlier Russian news reports had said that the convoy was carrying Russian flags as it was leaving Baghdad. The state-run news agency said that four cars in the convoy had been hit in the attack and that US M-16 bullet casings were found in the vehicles. The report further accused US forces of trying to stop the Russian convoy for inspections several times, but these attempts were thwarted by the Russian diplomats. In Moscow, US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice held hastily-arranged talks Monday with Russian officials."