Archive | May 15th, 2015

Iron Curtain 2.0, The Great Wall of Ukraine

NOVANEWS

Kiev to Spend $200 Mln to “Wall Off Russia”

drapeau-de-lukraine

The Ukrainian government has approved an approximate price tag for the construction of a so-called “wall” along its border with Russia: the newly-released cost estimate of $500 mln as of the end of 2014 has been slashed to approximately $200 mln; and the works will run faster – it will now take three years rather than four, as was claimed earlier.

Ukraine has reduced the estimated cost of the construction of a so-called “Wall” project along its border with much-feared Russia.

Construction work will now require 4 billion hryvnias (almost $200 million) and will run for three years. At the end of 2014, the government had claimed it would need four years and an estimated 8 billion hryvnias (at that time, the equivalent of $500 mln).

A Ukrainian national flag is attached to the fence on the Ukrainian-Russian border near Hoptivka, Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine
A Ukrainian national flag is attached to the fence on the Ukrainian-Russian border near Hoptivka, Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine

According to the project, more than 2,000 kilometers of the country’s actual border with Russia will be protected with anti-tank (anti-transport) trenches measuring four meters wide and two meters deep as well as 17-meter tall metal watchtowers, observation posts, alarms, retaliatory weaponry and special border check-points.

The construction work along the border as well as in territories adjacent to the zone of the so-called anti-terrorist operation and Russia’s Republic of Crimea will be supervised by the state border guard service.

Out of the 4 billion hryvnias needed for the project, 1 billion ($48mln)  is slated to be spent by the end of 2015.

International crossing point at Ukrainian state border
International crossing point “Ugrinov-Dolgobichuv” at Ukrainian-Polish state border

Earlier in May, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed that the nation’s government still plans to build its so-called Great Wall of Ukraine but claimed that Ukraine will set aside 300 million hryvnias ($12.8 million) to begin engineering work on border defenses this year.

Ukrainian officials first proposed the Great Wall in Autumn, claiming it will prevent Russian tanks from crossing the border.

The project was called the “Wall”, but then-Prime Minister Yatsenyuk proposed to rename it the “European bulwark”.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Iron Curtain 2.0, The Great Wall of Ukraine

Washington Post Stories on North Korea Are Highly Speculative

NOVANEWS
‘Wrong as Often as Right’ Is Good Enough When Reporting on an Official Enemy
Global Research
NK-Gen-Chol

North Korea may have executed this general with anti-aircraft guns. Or he may be alive and well. The Washington Post thought you might like to read some guesses about him.

The Washington Post (5/12/15) has a sensational story about North Korean Gen. Hyon Yong Chol:

North Korea’s equivalent of a defense minister has been executed by anti-aircraft gun for insubordination and treason—including for sleeping during a meeting where Kim Jong Un was speaking, South Korea’s intelligence agency said Wednesday.

Reporters Anna Fifield and Yoonjung Seo continue:

The report, if true, would starkly illustrate the brutal extent to which the young North Korean leader is going to consolidate power.

And if it isn’t true? I suppose it would starkly illustrate the low standards the Washington Post sets for itself when reporting about an official enemy.

Most of the information in the article is based on what “officials from the [South Korean] National Intelligence Service told local reporters at a briefing in Seoul”—local reporters, meaning not the Washington Post. What did the Post hear directly? “An NIS spokesman confirmed to the Post that it believed Hyon had been executed.”

So the sensational stuff in the article is what local South Korean journalists said they were told by South Korean intelligence about that country’s bitter rivals. But South Korean intelligence is a reliable source, right?

Well, no—not according to the Post. In the article’s eighth paragraph, the reporters note: “The NIS report could not be independently verified. NIS’s claims turn out to be wrong as often as they are right.”

Is it really the Washington Post‘s policy to base stories on claims that are “wrong as often as they are right”?

The Washington Post presents images of “some sort of targets” on a firing range as evidence that North Korea is executing prisoners with anti-aircraft guns.

In this case, presumably the Post felt confident betting on “right” rather than “wrong” because someone who blogs about North Korea said the report “rang true.” Isn’t this the kind of bizarre thing the North Koreans are always doing?

The Post also tried to shore up this highly speculative story by referring to another highly speculative story the paper recently published.  The new article noted:

A recent report from the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea contained satellite imagery apparently showing several people standing in front of anti-aircraft machine gunsat a military training area 13 miles north of Pyongyang in October last year.

The link in that passage goes to an article the Post published on May 1, with the lengthy headline, “Does North Korea Execute People With Anti-Aircraft Guns? New Satellite Images Suggest the Rumors May Be True.” The article reports that the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released images that

appear to show several individuals standing in front of anti-aircraft machine guns at a military training area…. It appears, though it cannot be confirmed, that these people are being executed.

Actually, if you follow the Post‘s link to the report, the committee itself says that the images show “what appear to be some sort of targets” on a North Korean firing range–and then concludes, mainly because the firing range doesn’t look to be designed for high-caliber weapons, that “the most plausible explanation of the scene captured in the October 7th satellite image is a gruesome public execution.”

Maybe. Or maybe “what appear to be some sort of targets” on a firing range actually are targets. Or maybe they are people who are lining up not because they are about to be shot, but because they are engaged in military training, which frequently involves lining up.

But this is North Korea we’re talking about, so “maybe” is good enough to pin a story on.

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on Washington Post Stories on North Korea Are Highly Speculative

Obama Hosts Camp David Summit for Gulf Oil Monarchies

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Oil-markets-Camp-David-Obama

President Barack Obama Thursday played host to a collection of emirs, crown princes and senior ministers of the Persian Gulf Arab oil monarchies, a collection of dictatorial regimes that constitute Washington’s principal allies in the Arab world.

Appearing before the press with representatives of the six regimes that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, Obama described them as among Washington’s “closest partners” and affirmed a US commitment to “stand by our GCC partners against external attack.”

The summit at Camp David was part of an increasingly clumsy balancing act by Washington as it attempts to conclude an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program and pursue the possibility of a rapprochement with Tehran. This policy is bitterly opposed by the sectarian Sunni monarchies, which view Iran as a threat in large measure because of their repression of their own Shia populations.

The presence of only two of the six crowned heads that make up the GCC—the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar—was widely viewed as a deliberate snub of the Obama administration by the oil monarchies, expressing their hostility to the negotiations with Iran and concern that US imperialism could be weakening its decades-old commitment to defend these regimes as bastions of reaction in the Arab world.

The most notable of the absentees was Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Salman, who assumed the throne just last January, is widely reported to suffer from both Alzheimer’s and dementia and may not have been able to play any role in the talks in Maryland. In any case, he sent the two most senior members of his regime, his nephew, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Together they hold the reins of Saudi Arabia’s security and military forces.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa skipped the summit to join Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for a horse show at Windsor Castle.

Disappointment in the Obama administration’s failure to come through with a formal US-Japan-style mutual defense pact for the Gulf monarchies may have played a role in the no-shows. In discussions last week in Paris with GCC foreign ministers, US Secretary of State John Kerry made statements that were interpreted by some in the region as suggesting that such an agreement was in the offing.

Also expressing the Gulf regimes’ displeasure was a vow by a leading figure in the Saudi royal family, Prince Turki bin Faisal, the 70-year-old former Saudi intelligence chief, that Saudi Arabia would build up its own nuclear program. “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” he said on the eve of the summit. Iran has always denied that its nuclear program is intended for anything but peaceful purposes.

As part of US imperialism’s protracted drive to assert its hegemony over the energy-rich Middle East, successive American administrations have sworn to defend Saudi Arabia and the lesser oil monarchies. In proclaiming the Carter Doctrine in the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution, President Jimmy Carter declared that any attempt by an outside power to assert control of the Persian Gulf would be “regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

The fear among the Saudis and other oil monarchs is that rapprochement with Iran combined with Washington’s “pivot to Asia” could lead to a downgrading of the US military presence in the region, which these undemocratic and widely despised regimes regard as essential to their own survival.

In what appeared to be an indication of the absence of substantive progress in the Camp David talks, Obama said that he was going to “make sure this is not just a photo opportunity” by organizing a similar session next year.

The summit served mainly to underscore the bloody catastrophe that US imperialism has wrought in the region and to expose the gross hypocrisy and duplicity of the rationales used to justify Washington’s policies.

Obama declared that he and the oil emirs and princes had discussed close collaboration in the struggle against “terrorism,” in the process lumping Iran together with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In reality, ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Al Nusra Front, have become the principal fighting units in the bloody sectarian struggle for regime change in Syria, precisely because of the substantial financial and arms support lent by the Sunni oil monarchies, with Washington’s collaboration.

And for all of Obama’s talk of defending the countries of the region against outside aggression, his government is providing critical logistical and intelligence support along with the bombs and missiles that have been used to turn much of Yemen into rubble, in a criminal war of aggression that has killed over 1,400 Yemenis and wounded another 6,000, the vast majority of them civilians.

Obama said that in the course of the summit he had reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad commitment to the security of our Gulf partners.”

He said that this would take the form of increasing “already existing security operations” with more frequent military exercises and other measures aimed at building up the security forces in these dictatorial states. He said that this would include the promotion of “rapid reaction forces” for “peacekeeping” missions. The precedent for such operations was set when Saudi Arabia sent tanks rolling into Bahrain in 2011 to suppress protests by the oppressed Shia majority in that Sunni-ruled monarchy.

He also said his administration would “streamline and expedite” the massive flow of US weaponry into the region, promoting an integrated regional anti-missile system, which will spell massive profits for Lockheed Martin and other US arms merchants.

For all the talk of an Iranian threat, the Gulf monarchies spent some $100 billion on armaments last year, compared to $15 billion for Iran, which has three times as many citizens as all the GCC countries combined.

Keeping a straight face, Obama said he and the emirs and princes had also discussed the importance of “inclusive governance” and “human rights.” In virtually every one of these states, torture, the suppression of free speech and assembly, the imprisonment of political dissidents and brutal executions are the favored means of propping up their ruling royal families. Obama’s rhetoric notwithstanding, they do so with the close collaboration of the CIA and the Pentagon.

 

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Mainstream Media Claims Assad Official Arrested for Coup

NOVANEWS

Proved Wrong Hours Later

Global Research
media fail

Every week it seems the Western mainstream media devises yet another propaganda narrative to be launched at the Syrian government and Bashar al-Assad. As one can easily see, each attempt becomes more and more desperate.

After numerous attempts at portraying Assad as guilty of having committed atrocities against innocent civilians, using chemical weapons, and dropping barrel bombs, the media has since taken to narratives portraying the Syrian president as losing his grip on the Syrian government as well as suffering huge territorial losses.

The latest round of propaganda surrounded the alleged arrest of the head of the Syrian Intelligence Bureau, Ali Mamlouk, due to his also alleged participation in a coup attempt against Assad. Western media proudly boasted of the weakness of the Syrian state and the Syrian President with headlines like “Assad’s Intelligence Chief Ali Mamlouk Arrested For Coup Plot,” “Bashar al-Assad’s Spy Chief Arrested Over Syria Coup Plot,” and “Syria Intel Chief Under House Arrest For Coup Plot Against Assad.”

There was just one problem with this volley of headlines – none of them were true.

Yet only hours after the media frenzy began, Syrians who were confronted with the Western propaganda were surprised to learn that the man they had just seen in the presence of Bashar al-Assad at a highly prestigious meeting had supposedly been arrested as a result of his coup attempt. Indeed, Syrian audiences were not so gullible as Western ones. Of course, direct visual contradiction to claims being made by media outlets generally makes it easier to determine that such outlets are inaccurate.

As the International Business Times reported,

Syria’s intelligence chief, who, according to British newspaper The Telegraph was placed under house arrest after plotting a coup against President Bashar Assad, made his first appearance on Syrian State TV on Wednesday.

Ali Mamlouk, the chief of the national security office, was seen sitting next to President Bashar al Assad during a meeting with visiting Iranian official Alaeddin Boroujerdi. A photo of the meeting also appeared on the official SANA news agency on 13 May.

Earlier on Monday, The Telegraph had reported that Brigadier General Ali Mamlouk was arrested for plotting a coup with rebel groups and other exiled leaders to overthrow President Assad. Mamlouk is one of the closest supporters of Assad and said to be among the few officials who still closely interact with the Syrian president.

Johnlee Varghese also mentioned that,

The report of Mamlouk house arrest was seen by many as a sign of an increasing ‘unrest’ in the inner circle of President Assad. However, his latest appearance on State TV dispels several claims, including one that he was in a hospital.

Middle East Monitor earlier last month had reported that Mamlouk was fighting for his life in Al-Shami Hospital in Damascus. Similarly, a report in Middle East Eye claimed in late April that he was reportedly in a Damascus hospital after being poisoned with cyanide.

The reports went on to claim that if Mamlouk died, “whether in the hospital or under other circumstances,” he will be the fifth suspect to be linked to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Thus, it seems that not only are Western media outlets attempting to compete for the most outlandish propaganda narrative (a tough competition since the State Department’s Libyan Viagra claims) regarding the history of the Syrian crisis and the events on the ground, they are apparently competing for the most outlandish Ali Mamlouk story.

While little time and energy should be spent debunking the Telegraph and all of its copycats’ claims regarding Mamlouk, it nonetheless stands as a perfect example of the depths to which Western media will sink to promote a false narrative in the minds of their readers.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Mainstream Media Claims Assad Official Arrested for Coup

McCain Appointed to Ukraine “Reform Advisory Team”

NOVANEWS

Headed by Fugitive Georgian Saakashvili

By RT
JohnMcCain

Georgia’s fugitive ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili and hawkish US Senator John McCain have been approved as members of the newly-formed International Advisory Group that will help Ukraine’s president in “conducting reforms.”

Saakashvili has been appointed as head of the new advisory group, says the statement on Ukraine’s presidential website.

The list of members included in the advisory group mostly includes current and former European politicians. Among them are the German member of the European Parliament and the current Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Elmar Brok, Sweden’s former Prime and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Slovakia Mikulas Dzurinda, and Lithuania’s former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

Back in February Saakashvili was appointed as a non-staff adviser to Poroshenko. The ex-Georgian president, who was in power from 2004 to 2013, faces numerous charges at home, including embezzlement of over $5 million, corruption and brutality against protesters during demonstrations in 2007. Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched proceedings to indict Saakashvili and place him on the international most wanted list, but Kiev refused to hand over the fugitive president, despite an existing extradition agreement between Ukraine and Georgia.

Saakashvili is known for his strong anti-Russian stance, which garnered heavy US support. In August 2008 during his term in office Georgia launched an offensive against South Ossetia, killing dozens of civilians and Russian peacekeepers stationed in the republic. Georgia’s shelling of Tskhinval prompted Russia to conduct a military operation to fend off the offensive. Despite Saakashvili’s claims that the conflict was “Russian aggression,” the 2010 EU Independent Fact Finding Mission Report ruled that Tbilisi was responsible for the attack.

Image from Facebook (Mikheil Saakashvili's Page)
Image from Facebook (Mikheil Saakashvili’s Page)

Meanwhile Senator John McCain, for years spearheading the anti-Russian and particularly anti-Putin crusade, said that while he “would love to do anything” to help Ukraine, he has not yet cleared his new appointment under the US Senate rules.

“I was asked to do it both by Ukraine and Saakashvili and I said I would be inclined to do it but I said I needed to look at all the nuances of it, whether it’s legal under our ethics and all that kind of stuff,” McCain told BuzzFeed.

At the onset of the Ukraine’s Maidan protests against former president Viktor Yanukovich, McCain appeared in Kiev to support the uprising that months later culminated in a coup.

“We … want to make it clear to Russia and Vladimir Putin that interference in the affairs of Ukraine is not acceptable to the United States,” the US Senator told a crowd of some 200,000 anti-government protesters in the central square of Ukraine’s capital.

Image from Facebook (Mikheil Saakashvili's Page)Image from Facebook (Mikheil Saakashvili’s Page)

Following the new Kiev authorities’ attempt to suppress dissent in the east of the country and Crimea’s ascension into the Russian Federation, McCain became the main engine of lobbying for lethal arms supplies to Ukrainian forces to “defend themselves” and Europe from “Russian aggression.”

“The Ukrainian people don’t want US or Western troops to fight for them; they are simply asking for the right tools to defend themselves and their country,” he said late last month at a hearing on US security policy in Europe. “Russia’s invasion and dismemberment of Ukraine should remind everyone of the true nature of Putin’s ambitions and the fragility of peace in Europe.”

McCain’s statements following the Minsk II ceasefire agreement make it clear that peace in Ukraine is not something the hawkish politician supports. Despite the general agreement that Minsk Accords is the only way forward for a political resolution to the crisis, McCain rejected the agreement as “solidifying the gains of Russian aggression.”

In addition, the Senator is a strong supporter of the NATO buildup on Russian borders. McCain insisted recently that the Baltic allies should help secure eastern borders of the alliance as they cannot “continue with business as usual”claiming that Russia poses a “geopolitical challenge… to our entire vision of Europe.”

McCain has also been hinting at starting a new nuclear arms race with Russia. “Negotiating further strategic nuclear reductions with Russia would be a dangerously naive non-starter with the US Senate. It simply defies common sense to negotiate nuclear reductions with Vladimir Putin,” he said last month following US administration’s call for further strategic nuclear reductions.

Posted in USA, UkraineComments Off on McCain Appointed to Ukraine “Reform Advisory Team”

SYRIA: US-Saudi-Turkey Supported “Army of Conquest”

NOVANEWS

Comprised of “Jihadist” and Al-Qaeda Affiliated Groups

The Army of Conquest is the coalition, of mostly jihadist and Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, Jund al-Aqsa and the powerful Islamist Ahrar al-Sham.

Global Research
syria_1

Last month Islamist insurgents including al Qaeda’s wing in Syria, Nusra Front, captured the town of Jisr al-Shughour in Syria’s Idlib province, edging closer to the government-held heartland of Latakia along the coast. In turn, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said army setbacks were part of normal warfare.

Battles have been raging around the hospital on the southwestern outskirts of Jisr al-Shughour, where army forces and allied fighters have been holed up since the extremists’ offensive began. Government forces have endured a series of setbacks on the battlefield and Islamist fighters have edged closer to Assad’s stronghold in the coastal areas.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is actively supporting a hardline coalition of Islamist rebels against Bashar al-Assad’s regime that includes al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. The country is focusing its backing on the combined Jaish al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, a command structure for the jihadist groups in Syria that includes Jabhat al-Nusra, an extremist rival to the Islamic State which shares many of its aspirations for a fundamentalist caliphate.

It threatens to trump Washington’s own attempt to train so-called “pro-Western opposition fighters”, announced by President Barack Obama a year ago but finally launched only last week. The number of fighters involved is small and, crucially, the State Department insists that they would take the field against Isis and not against the regime. However, official Washington’s attitude has to be examined apart from its real interests. Many refer arising of terroristic entities such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State with US’s activity in the region.

The Army of Conquest is the coalition, whose formation was announced in March, comprises a range of mostly jihadist and Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, Jund al-Aqsa and the powerful Islamist Ahrar al-Sham. Its command center is established in Idlib, northern Syria. Turkish officials admit giving logistical and intelligence support to the command headquarters. Although they deny giving direct help to al-Nusra, they acknowledge that the group would be beneficiaries. Turkish officialsclaim that bolstering Ahrar al-Sham will weaken the influence of al-Nusra. Material support – arms andmoney – have been coming from the Saudis, say rebels and officials.

Syria will face greater instability and control by extremist groups as soon as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s momentum in fighting off rebel groups is decreased. U.S. security officials attribute the gains of militants in part to their wide battleground experience and ability to use advanced tactics. There are also marks that extremists have become more coherent in their organization. The U.S. is continuing to argue that it supports only moderate rebels. Meanwhile, U.S. officials pointed out that they still had trouble identifying moderate partners, while al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra and Islamic State were tried to take advantage of any cracks in the government’s control. In account of these facts, question arises. If US has troubles with identifying ‘moderate rebel groups’ and its training of “pro-Western opposition fighters” is failed, which entities is U.S. supporting now?

The Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov met his U.S. counterpart John Kerry, on Tuesday, in the Russian city of Sochi. Addressing the media after the talks, both diplomats stressed that they were on common ground with regards to many issues, including the situation in Syria and the threat of Islamic State terrorists in the region, as well as the Iranian nuclear deal. They also discussed the developing conflict in Yemen. The Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak added that the discussion between the ministers and President Putin will help define priorities and outline a future course in the relations between the two countries.

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Posted in SyriaComments Off on SYRIA: US-Saudi-Turkey Supported “Army of Conquest”

Who Owns Agricultural Land in Ukraine?

NOVANEWS
Global Research
ukraine-wheat

The fate of Ukraine’s agricultural sector is on shaky ground. Last year, the Oakland Institute reported that over 1.6 million hectares (ha) of land in Ukraine are now under the control of foreign-based corporations. Further research has allowed for the identification of additional foreign investments. Some estimates now bring the total of Ukrainian farmland controlled by foreign companies to over 2.2 million ha;1 however, research has also identified important grey areas around land tenure in the country, and who actually controls land in Ukraine today is difficult to ascertain.

The companies and shareholders behind foreign land acquisitions in Ukraine span many different parts of the world. The Danish “Trigon Agri,” for example, holds over 52,000 ha. Trigon was established in 2006 using start-up capital from Finnish “high net worth individuals.” The company is traded in Stockholm (NASDAQ), and its largest shareholders include: JPM Chase (UK, 9.5 percent); Swedbank (Sweden, 9.4 percent); UB Securities (Finland, 7.9 percent); Euroclear Bank (Belgium, 6.6 percent); and JP Morgan Clearing Corp (USA, 6.2 percent).

The United Farmers Holding Company, which is owned by a group of Saudi Arabian investors, controls some 33,000 ha of Ukrainian farmland through Continental Farmers Group PLC.

AgroGeneration, which holds 120,000 ha of Ukrainian farmland, is incorporated in France, with over 62 percent of its shares managed by SigmaBleyzer, a Texas-based investment company.

US pension fund NCH Capital holds 450,000 ha. The company began in 1993 and boasts being some of the earliest western investors in Ukraine after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Over the past decade, the company has systematically leased out small parcels of agricultural land (around two to six hectares in size) across Ukraine, aggregating these into large-scale farms that now operate industrially. According to NCH Capital’s General Partner, George Rohr, the leases give the company the right to buy the currently-leased farmland once the moratorium on the sale of land in Ukraine is lifted.

Another subset of companies have Ukrainian leadership, often a mix of domestic and foreign investment, and may be incorporated in tax havens like Cyprus, Austria, and Luxembourg. Some of them are also led by Ukrainian oligarchs. For instance, UkrLandFarming controls the country’s largest land-bank, totalling 654,000 ha of land. 95 percent of the shares of UkrLandFarming are owned by multi-millionaire Oleg Bakhmatyuk with the remaining five percent having been recently sold to Cargill.  Similarly, Yuriy Kosiuk, Ukraine’s fifth richest man, is the CEO of MHP, one of the country’s largest agricultural companies, which holds over 360,000 ha of farmland.

With the onset of the political crisis, several of these mostly Ukrainian-based companies have descended into crisis themselves. One example is Cyprus-incorporated Mriya Agro Holding, which holds a land-bank of close to 300,000 ha. In 2014, the company’s website (which is no longer available online) indicated that 80 percent of the shares of Mriya Agro Holding are/were owned by the Guta family (Ukrainian), who hold primary leadership positions in the company. The remaining 20 percent are/were listed on the FrankfurtStock Exchange.

According to news sources, in summer 2014 the company defaulted on its payments for two large Eurobonds, putting its future into question. The company first enlisted the support of US-based Blackstone Group and Ukrainian-based Dragon Capital, both of whom withdrew support after only one month; and later, the international auditing and financial service firm, Deloitte. An international bondholder committee was struck, comprised of several US and UK-based investment groups (including CarVal Investors – Cargill’s investment arm), which together own over 50 percent of the debt owed on Mriya’s 2018 Eurobonds and 15 percent of the 2016 Eurobonds. The future of this firm is unclear with some sources suggesting a risk of bankruptcy.

Other Ukrainian-owned companies incorporated in tax havens are also experiencing difficulties. Sintal Agriculture Public Ltd (based in Cyprus, traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as of 2008, and holding almost 150,000 ha of land) ceased trading in shares on January 29, 2014 “until further notice” after bankruptcy proceedings were initiated against the company. In 2013, its website (now also defunct) indicated that 36.3 percent of the company was free floating shares.

The potential bankruptcy of these corporations, and the involvement of Western investors in the crisismanagement, raises questions about the fate of the agricultural land they hold. At this time, it is not clear how control over the agricultural lands in question will be addressed and what the role of foreign companies and funds who have invested in these companies will be. However, if things progress in a similar way to neighboring Romania, foreign control of this land could transpire.

Romania has a similar story of dissolving collectivized farms, giving land titles to collective farm workers, and imposing a moratorium on the sale of agricultural land. Loopholes in the country’s national legislation have created opportunities for foreign control of land via bankruptcy proceedings. As documented by Judith Bouniol, the bankruptcy of national agribusinesses has provided a gateway for foreign control of Romania’s farmland.

It is far from clear if the same scenario could take place in Ukraine. However, this lesson from Romania emphasizes the importance of keeping close watch on these agricultural land deals. In addition, the murky situation around land ownership in Ukraine raises many questions. Perhaps the most important is whether the growing concentration of Ukrainian land in the hands of a few oligarchs and foreign corporations can benefit the country, its people, and its economy.

Note

1 Two land investment databases were accessed over the past year: the Land Matrix accessed in July 2014 and April 2015, and GRAIN’s 2012 data set on land investments worldwide. Taken individually, these databases suggest foreign land acquisitions of between 997,000 ha to 1.7M ha. When consolidated, individual deals reported by these databases represent over 2.2M ha of land in Ukraine.

Photo source: IFC

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Who Owns Agricultural Land in Ukraine?

Zio-Wahhabi (ISIS) stealing passports and ID’s from Westerners

NOVANEWS

Image result for isis photos

Now they won’t have to sneak their way in. With documents like these, Zio-Wahhabi ISIS terrorists will be able to move freely around Europe and America.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Zio-Wahhabi (ISIS) stealing passports and ID’s from Westerners

Two Christian women attacked with acid in Quetta

NOVANEWS
SYED ALI SHAH 

— Reuters
— Reuters

QUETTA: A man severely injured two Christian girls in Quetta on Friday when he threw acid on them in the city’s Kasi road.

Through a syringe, the accused sprayed acid on the faces of both the women, police said.

The girls identified as Rimsha Masih and Hina were rushed to Bolan Medical Hospital (BMC) for emergency medical treatment.

“The girls were admitted in the burns ward of BMC,” said Dr Masood Nowsherwani.

“Rimsha’s face was 30 per cent affected whereas 15 per cent of Hina’s face was burnt in the attack,” Nowsherwani added.

Capital City Police Officer Quetta, Razzaq Cheema said that Rimsha and Hina were 27 and 15 years old respectively.

Cheema stated that the families have already nominated an accused Vijay Masih, a resident of Brewery Road in the case.

Vijay was subsequently arrested and taken into custody.

Last year in July, four men sprayed acid on six women inside a house in Balochistan’s Pishin district. The attack was also carried out through syringes. Similarly, two acid attacks also took place in Mastung and Sariab last year in July.

Read more: Unforgiving scar: 2014, a year of horrific acid attacks

Acid, found easily and cheaply across Pakistan has been used a weapon to exact ‘revenge’ in domestic violence cases. The victims are often left with no legal recourse and suffer severe psychological trauma as well facing social stigma which comes with disfigurement.

The horrific crime, which disfigures and often blinds its overwhelmingly female victims, has long been used to settle personal or family scores with hundreds of cases reported every year.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Two Christian women attacked with acid in Quetta

Zio-Wahhabi regime Break Cease-Fire in First 24 hours

NOVANEWS
Saudi Arabia Break Cease-Fire in First 24 hours
Zio-Wahhabi Break Cease-Fire in First 24 hours
Yemen’s humanitarian ceasefire came under significant danger in its first 24 hours Wednesday, disrupted by Zio-Wahhabi -led coalition airstrike, fighting between rival sides in a strategic province and shelling by coalition warships west of the port city of Aden.

Zio-Wahhabi warplanes airstrike in Abyan province and targeted some regions, according to Yemeni security officials. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the airstrike.

Also in the south, officials and witnesses said coalition warships deployed off Aden shelled Houthi forces.

Residents of the southern provinces of Shabwa and Lahej, also reported airstrikes overnight.

Witnesses in the southwestern city of Abyan said warplanes had hit positions there following the late Tuesday of the cease-fire, which is intended to ward off a humanitarian catastrophe.

Zio-Wahhabi and its Zionist coalition of Arab regime’s began the air campaign on March 26 to try to break the advance of the Houthis and its allies, who overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen late last year and have been on the offensive in the south, in other hand replace “CIA agent Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi” ousted fugitive CIA agent who fled to Saudi Arabia.

Aid agencies said the five-day break in fighting to allow fuel, medicine, food and aid workers to enter Yemen could be a “lifeline” for civilians trapped in conflict zones.

Iran’s Shahed cargo ship carrying Iran humanitarian aids for people of Yemen including more than 2500 tons relief consignment like rice, flour, canned food and medicine plus 40 to 60 Red Crescent Society relief workers .

Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri Vice of Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff warned that: if any problem created for Iranian aid ship a “fire might start” that US and Zio-Wahhabi regime can’t put it off.

Vice of Iran Armed Forces Chief of Staff in an exclusive interview with Al-Alam News Network said: honestly I says that Iran self-preservation has a scale.

Brigadier General Jazayeri said, if this cargo ship don’t reach the target, problem makers should expect Iran’s reactions.

 

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Zio-Wahhabi regime Break Cease-Fire in First 24 hours

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