Archive | October 3rd, 2016

Petrenko: The verdict in our case has already been written

Sept. 29: The judges on the judicial panel of the Riscani sector court in Chisinau, Moldova, exceeded their authority when they decided to remove the members of the “Petrenko Group” from the courtroom, and when they tried to remove attorney Ana Ursachi from the process to have a “tête-à-tête” with the prosecutors, it signaled they “have already written the verdict” in this case.

This was stated by former deputy Grigory Petrenko, on Thursday, September 29, noting that he “came from the courtroom where police used physical force to expel us from the hall.”

“This is the second time that force has been applied against the Petrenko Group; it happened the first time on February 15. The judges behave insolently, in an absolutely biased way. This is not a trial, but its imitation. In the cases of [former government officials] Filat and Plato, trials are being held behind closed doors, and in our case, hearings are held without the accused, that is, without us. And now even more ridiculous, they want to remove our lawyer from the process. We will not be in the hearings, we will not have a lawyer – then what remains?

“This is another proof that it is a fabricated case, made to order. We do not trust the judges, and demanded their removal. They have refused to transmit our appeal for consideration. I believe that there is no sense in participating in these games with [oligarch Vlad] Plahotniuc’s court. We are innocent, the case is political. I look with disgust at these judges, who are doing their best to follow the instructions of Plahotniuc and people from his entourage,” said Grigory Petrenko at a press conference organized at the Riscani sector courthouse.

According to the politician, the situation shows that “the verdict is already written,” and what is happening now is only an imitation of a trial. “While the defense attorney is suspended, the judges remain in a tête-à-tête with prosecutors, and try to consider so-called business. In fact, the verdict is already written, and this is an imitation of justice and a trial. Everyone should know the names of the judges: Natalia Klevady, Grigore Cazacu, Tatiana Bivol — they will go down in history as the most obedient lackeys of Plahotniuc’s regime,” said the leader of the party Our Home is Moldova (Red Bloc).

Petrenko added that after today’s judicial conduct, they would petition international bodies and request monitoring of the case. “To have these iniquities taken into account, they will have to assess the situation in Moldova in regard to human rights, the independence of the judiciary. I firmly believe that, just as happened earlier this year, future hearings will be attended by representatives of the embassies of EU member states, the United States, the OSCE mission. We will inform the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe, PACE co-rapporteurs for Moldova, and make every effort to ensure that international bodies respond to this lawlessness,” he said.

Recall that the September 29 court session was interrupted after judges rejected a request for their disqualification, filed by lawyer Ana Ursachi, and ordered the expulsion of the accused from the courtroom. Attorney Ana Ursachi then exited in protest.

Subsequently, the court threatened to remove her from the process, but because this maneuver is unseemly, imposed a group of “public defenders” on the Petrenko Group.

The court hearing was rescheduled for Monday, October 3.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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Remembering October ’93 uprising: Not a ritual, but a continuation of the struggle

By Kirill Vasilev

Unforgettable soldered blood
only this — a popular relationship —
promises the future any
renewal and celebration.
– Olga Bergholz

More than 10 years ago, on October 3-4, I first came to a rally in memory of those who are called “defenders of the House of Soviets” or “defenders of the Constitution,” although it is more correct, in my opinion, to speak of “participants in the popular uprising of 1993.”

I think this is a fundamental distinction. The fallen of September and October 1993 were not just defenders of the (by this time considerably rewritten) 1978 Constitution, the legislature and heads of the Supreme Soviet. Of course, among the opponents of Yeltsinism there were personal sympathizers of Ruslan Khasbulatov, Alexander Rutskoi, or, say, Sergei Baburin. There were those who did not fundamentally oppose the course toward capitalism, hoping for a milder version of the entry into the market without the shocks prescribed by the “Chicago School.” There were romantic patriots, for whom the defining motive of participation was the “painful insult to the honor of the regime” — the Soviet Union, which to them represented the continuation of historical Russia. There were romantic Democrats – the same ones who voted for the elimination of the “evil empire,” the liberal choice and Boris Yeltsin, but could not forgive their recent favorite for how cynically he stepped over constitutional procedures.

Yet the personal motivation of an individual does not give us an idea of the deeper nature of major social upheavals, which, without a doubt, October 1993 was. And the so-called “constitutional crisis,” expressed in a confrontation between branches of the young bourgeois power, was only a reason, but not the cause, of the tragic events which broke out 22 years ago in Moscow.

In its objective class content, October 1993 was a belated reaction of the Soviet citizen to the bourgeois counter-revolution of Gorbachev-Yeltsin. It was the rising of proletarianized workers against the further capitalization of the country. We shouldn’t be misled by what support the insurgent Soviet worker, teacher, technician and professor had from various groups of the national bourgeoisie (“red directors,” part of the regional elites). By the autumn of 1993 there was no other real mass force that the leaders of the Supreme Soviet could call upon except those gathered outside the parliamentary palace. That’s why the leaders of the White House, reluctantly grinding their teeth, endured next to the “demon-possessed red-brown street.” It was much nicer to negotiate a “zero option,” to seek support from “patriotic businessmen” and rely on the mediation of the Moscow Patriarchate. More important is the point so often painfully spoken of by participants in these memorable events: even after the Ostankino slaughter, weapons available inside the House of Soviets were not distributed to its defenders. This fact sums up the class instincts of the fake popular leaders. Arming the workers was clearly not part of their plans. Even under threat of death, they realized that their “discretion” might be the ticket to a return to politics after all the storms.

That’s part of what happened. It’s no secret that no People’s Deputies were killed. Yes, some of them were beaten and abused by drunken riot police. Yes, the leadership of the House of Soviets spent a few months moved to “Lefortovo” [prison in Moscow]. But against the backdrop of hundreds of victims, all these privations look, to put it mildly, none too serious. Sometime later, the deputies returned to their benefits, and many of them have made successful careers in business and politics. A “rebellious past” did not prevent Alexander Rutskoi from becoming governor of the Kursk region, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Ruslan Aushev were repeatedly re-elected presidents of their republics.

It is also significant that there is no movement for the memory of those nationalists who actually fell victim to the tragedy in October 1993. Coming to actions on October 3-4, one must involuntarily wonder: where is the once-formidable RNU, where are all these churches and fronts, which so vehemently denounced the “American-Zionists” 22 years ago and posed with a stylized swastika in front of enthusiastic pro-Kremlin media? Why is it the communist youth, who did not directly experience the tragedy of 1993, who come every year to the memorial marches carrying portraits of the fallen heroes, while their right-wing peers prefer to walk in “Russian marches” a month later? The answer is obvious. Despite all the ideological diversity on the barricades in October 1993, the popular uprising had, at its essence, an anti-capitalist content.

It’s surprising and discouraging to see some left-wing statements distributed about “ritual and meaningless walks” at the mourning rallies and marches on October 3-4. Comrades apparently forgetting that without collective memory of the tragic and heroic pages of the popular struggle, it is impossible to imagine a revolutionary movement. Such dates are widely celebrated around the world, for example, May Day — a holiday which grew out of the memory of the tragedy of the shooting of the Chicago workers.

For me there is no question about whether to participate in the October events. It is neither a ritual nor a teary requiem. The only possible way forward is on the basis of this tradition. And we must bring the memory of those events to a new generation of fighters for a more just society.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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Moscow memorial rally for victims of Yeltsin’s 1993 October coup


    On October 3 at 18.00 in Moscow, at the national memorial to the defenders of the House of Soviets near “Krasnaya Presnya” stadium (Druzhinnikovskaya Street, Metro station “Krasnopresnenskaya), a rally will be held in memory of the victims of Boris Yeltsin’s 1993 coup.

    Memorial graffiti in Krasnya Presnya stadium, where hundreds of Soviet defenders were murdered
    by Boris Yeltsin’s OMON death squads with backing of  U.S. imperialism. 
    Twenty-three years ago in Moscow, a coup under the leadership of former Russian President Yeltsin ended in the bloody suppression of a popular uprising, tanks shelling the parliament – the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation – and the liquidation of the vestiges of Soviet democracy.

    #Октябрь1993 #Ельцин #Переворот

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“Boris and Nicolas Are Redrawing Europe”

Adelina Marini, Zagreb

This is the headline of a commentary in today’s edition of the Serbian newspaper Politika. Due to the lack of serious regional and internal scandals, many of the large newspapers in the region are dealing today with … European issues. “Will Europe give birth to its Donald Trump following America’s example, or even two of them?”, asks the commentary’s author Zorana Šuvaković. In her opinion, there are many who find parallels between the contender in the French presidential election next year Nicolas Sarkozy and Donald Trump. Even Prime Minister Manuel Valls recently mentioned the Trump-isation of France and the minister of environment made a similar comparison before him. Otherwise media, writes Šuvaković, call Sarkozy “Trump à la française” because of his populist turn to the right and his rude statements, which are supposed to grant him the support of the low educated part of the French population.

The other favourite for the European Trump, according to the author, is the British foreign affairs minister Boris Johnson, who used to scare people during the Brexit campaign with the possible EU membership of Turkey and now officially supports the said membership. “What will happen to Europe and how will it be redrawn if its future is decided by politicians of two large and powerful states? Nicolas Sarkozy supports Turkey staying in Asia and Great Britain returning to Europe. Johnson is for Great Britain exiting Europe and Turkey entering”, further writes Zorana Šuvaković.

While waiting for the resolution of the coalition negotiations between the HDZ and MOST NL in Croatia, where there already starts to appear tension, Croatian media turn their eyes towards Europe. In a commentary for Jutarnji list, Gojko Drljača asks whether the next step of the monetary “visionaries” will be helicopter money. In his opinion, the times of extremely low and negative interest rates, created with the help of “a large bureaucratic intervention by central banks” can easily end in an era of very high interest rates, or even the handing out of money. Mario Draghi is beginning to feel it that his policy does not work, so he began touring the continent explaining that it needs the support of structural reforms, pointed at productivity, writes Gojko Drljača.

The main goal of the quantitative easing programme (QE), combined with a policy of low interest rates everywhere, was assisting fiscally irresponsible authorities or the even more irresponsible financial sector circles. The goal was masked with care about GDP growth, the unemployed and the poor, continues the author.

Vecernji reports in today’s edition that Croatia has received a warning from the European Commission for running late with the development of the digital market and the over expensive fast internet. The newspaper quotes the Croatian national television, according to which the EC wants internet costs in Croatia to drop by 30%. As a user of internet in the country I can say that I share the Commission’s concerns in the assessment that internet in Croatia is too expensive, but instead it is terribly slow. What is even worse is that due to the lack of any real competition in the market, getting connected to the internet could take months. The Commission warns Zagreb for one more thing – Croatia has still not provided automatic transfer of data for DNA, fingerprints, and automobile registrations, which is part of the fight against terrorism. Croatia is lagging behind in this paragraph together with Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal.

The fifth day after the referendum in Republika Srpska (BiH)

The subject has practically dropped out of Croatian media attention and of the Bosnian as well, but it remains relatively high on the list of priorities of Serbian media. Serbian state television RTS reports that Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dačić said in the course of a multi-hour debate in the foreign affairs committee of the Skupština that Serbia never supported the referendum of the Bosnian Serbs, but neither will it support sanctions against Republika Srpska, because this is not realistic.“We will not allow someone to play with Dayton. Those, who have been asking for Dayton 2 for 10 years, are now protectors of Dayton and it turns out that Republika Srpska is the one destroying it”, said Dačić.

Blic, on the other hand, published a lengthy article, in which, not clear why, there is a discussion of the legal options of preserving the name of the Serbian BiH entity. Under the headline of “While there is Dayton, there will be Srpska as well”, the newspaper writes that the BiH Constitution is protecting the Serbs from the “blows” of the Bosniak politicians. According to Blic, this is the answer of politicians and experts to a possible “new Bosniak blow” at RS, which could be embodied in a request for a Constitutional Court ruling on the constitutional compliance of the entity’s name. “The name of RS as an entity has long been a thorn in the foot of Bosniak nationalists and this subject has once more become current after the Constitutional Court of BiH encouraged such actions, contesting January 9th as Day of the Republic. In case a miracle happens and the judges contest the name of RS, it would draw BiH in a yet unseen political crisis, because it would hit at the foundations of the peace agreement itself”, writes Blic.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina itself they have other worries. Klix reports that BiH prosecution has no idea where it will hold the Milorad Dodik hearing, after officially calling him for an interview because of the referendum. The reason is that Dodik stated that he will honour the invitation, but only on RS territory. His arguments are that he does not feel safe in Sarajevo and he fears for his physical security.

Beyond these problems, which hide within them the huge problem with the very statehood of BiH itself, the country’s discourse is already on a different level. In his column for 6YKA, Miodrag Živanović reasons on the political transformation of Milorad Dodik, but reveals the depth of political problems in the country, something that is discussed in Montenegro as well, but a bit later on that. “Political parties, since at least ten years ago, have been separated based on ethnic origin. They exist and function as Bosniak, Serb, and Croat ones. Everything is totally levelled. Today, there are no more nationalists (because nationalism has turned into the natural state of the political and societal conscience in general), nor are there social democrats, liberals, or even racists or fascists. We seem not to be attractive even to the latter two”, writes Miodrag Živanović.

Regarding Dodik, he is not a nationalist, nor a social democrat, liberal, or stalinist. He is, in fact, a technologist of power. This problem is especially pronounced in Republika Srpska, continues the author, where the political competition between the position and the opposition revolves around everyone showing themselves as a greater Serb and mightier protector of RS. A Montenegrin blogger reasons on a similar problem, his  text being reprinted by the most sold daily newspaper in the country,Vijesti. “The voter’s task is winning a party and not the party winning them”. The author dedicated his text to the choice available to minorities in Montenegro, more specifically the Bosniaks. Ever since the introduction of the multi-party system, he writes, Bosniaks have simply had no choice.

They have always voted under duress and much larger than other communities in Montenegro at that. During the 90’s, they voted under the duress of pure physical survival. Later, under the fear transferred to them that the 90’s will come back. This fear was fuelled by the regime, and perhaps (un)intentionally by the opposition as well. After the switch of the regime, not being with Đukanović, who turned from accessory to war crimes into a democrat overnight, meant you are a traitor.

The Russian shadow on Montenegro​

Understanding that nothing in Montenegro is what it looks like, Pobjeda newspaper ran a huge material, entitled “The Russian shadow. Elections: the third big battle for Montenegro”. According to the daily, elections on October 16 are the last big battle for the true independence of Montenegro. The newspaper writes that the letter of Sergei Jelezniak, a high-ranking functionary of Putin’s United Russia, in which he demands the creation of a “United opposition of Montenegro”, reveals that the rude interventions of the Kremlin in the affairs of the sovereign state of Montenegro have entered a new, even more brutal phase.

The repertoire of the Russian imperial policy towards Montenegro is quite diverse: open financial, diplomatic, propaganda, even intelligence support is granted to the anti-Western, pan-Slavonic and Greater-Serbian parties, the Serbian Orthodox Church, anti-NATO NGOs and media, and also the so called independent newspapers and TV channels with pro-NATO rhetoric and American capital, as well as influential NGOs, which have millions in grants from the EU and America. Russian special warfare experts, retired KGB officers, aided by experts from Israel, have the goal of instilling a sense of feebleness and fear in public opinion regarding NATO, writes Pobjeda.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Is Nationalism Growing in Croatia?

Adelina Marini
A Strong pro-European Party Has Won Elections in Croatia

While doing the review of the press in the countries of the former Yugoslavia in the beginning of September, I stumbled into an article in the Serbian newspaperBlic, which quoted the distinguished Balkans expert from the London School of Economics (LSE) James Ker-Lindsay, who believes that Croatia is to blame for the current deteriorated state of relations between Zagreb and Belgrade, depicted by many in the region itself as being worse than in the early 1990s, when the bloody disintegration of the former Yugoslavia began. I shared the text on Twitter, expressing my doubt that Mr Ker-Lindsay said exactly that, knowing that Serbian media should be handled with care. I guessed it was a question of words out of context, or an overly free translation. Alas, he confirmed on Twitter that he stands behind his words. We deepened our discussion, but he did not back down on his opinion.

Later, two days before the snap parliamentary elections, The Financial Times published an article on the subject, which again focused on the thesis of Croatia’s responsibility for the deterioration of bilateral relations with Serbia, as well as the dangerous growth of nationalism in the country. The opinion of James Ker-Lindsay was also quoted. A day after the September 11 elections, another highly regarded and internationally distributed British daily newspaper (The Guardian) published an analysis by Paul Mason, entitled “Croatia’s election is a warning about the return of nationalism to the Balkans”.

Having in mind what I published in my surely not as massively circulated website on the subject of the Croatian elections, you will probably understand my urge to disprove the theses of the two respectable media of international influence and the deeply respected analyst from LSE, knowing full well that my expertise is just as modest as the number of euinside’s impressions (compared toFT’s and The Guardian’s), and also compared to the expertise of LSE. There are two theses I intend to disprove. The first one is that there is a rise of nationalism in Croatia and that it is directly related to the country’s accession to the EU. And the second is that Croatia is to blame for the worsening of relations with Serbia.

Is there a growth of nationalism in Croatia?

The short answer is no. A broader one is that there was an attempt to mobilise it, but tendencies in Croatia are just the opposite to those in already almost all EU members, not taking this for granted, of course. When I came to Croatia exactly a year before it joined the EU with the very goal to follow the process, my first impressions were that there was nationalism in the country, which I termed “healthy”, meaning nationalism of the American type, whose goal is keeping the nation’s spirits high and unifying the population on the subject of the country’s development direction. Croatia is among the youngest states in Europe after it announced its independence from former Yugoslavia with the bloody war to follow. The first years of its life were dedicated on the establishment of institutions, rebuilding of the economy, setting the national goals, and all the other tasks that every newborn state needs to undertake in order to survive and even prosper, which undoubtedly is the Croats’ goal.

The accession on July 1st 2013 fulfilled the second national goal of the Croats after their independence. A period of not having a third national goal followed, thus degrading national unity and entering a period of ideological searching by the two main political players – the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). Croatia joined the EU under the rule of the left-liberal “Kukuriku” coalition, led by Zoran Milanović. The coalition won the parliamentary elections in the late fall of 2011 thanks to the heavy crisis that the HDZ went into, caused by the corruption scandals surrounding its former boss and PM Ivo Sanader. Following the defeat, the leader’s seat in the party,

which describes itself as a state-building and by default charged with a heavy dose of nationalism, was taken by the dark figure of Tomislav Karamarko.

His winning platform was a return to Tuđmanism, or the so called re-Tuđmanisation, which was a retrograde process of return to authoritarianism, deep conservatism, and of course nationalism, based on a final settling of accounts with Serbia and Serbs in general. While Croatia was battling a heavy economic recession (lasting over six years) and the huge unemployment rate that came with it, mostly in the younger population, the HDZ was busy building the Patriotic coalition, which included the most nationalistic right-wing parties of the country. The coalition managed to win several elections in a row, although the reason for these victories is not nationalism, but something else, as I wrote some time ago. Recession and the receding determination of the government of Zoran Milanović to implement the set reforms, the possibility for a preferential vote, and the presence of good candidates gave the HDZ and the Patriotic coalition victories at two consecutive European Parliament elections, and also at the presidential elections.

The cleanest appearance of the Patriotic coalition as such was at last year’s parliamentary elections, when it finished level with its arch-enemy from the new left-liberal coalition, surrounding Zoran Milanović’s social democrats “Croatia is growing”. Both parties’ plans got disturbed by the newborn political power Most of Independent Lists (MOST NL). The very rise of MOST NL showed that Croats are looking for something different, that they are deeply tired of the pulling of skeletons out of the closet, nationalism, Ustaša and Communists, and all the rest. They want reforms, which can bring them jobs and prosperity. This attitude was even more clearly shown at the snap elections this year. They were brought about after MOST NL and internal strife in the HDZ put an end to Tomislav Karamarko’s attempts at fulfilling in Croatia a Polish-Hungarian scenario of illiberalism, or democratura, as it is termed in the region.

The fall of Tihomir Orešković’s government, in which Karamarko was first deputy PM, also brought about radical changes in the HDZ itself. After a lightning-fast organisation of internal party elections, MEPs came to power in the party. Leader of the party became the vice chair of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, Andrej Plenković, and his closest associates are also MEPs – the member of another influential EP committee – the economic one – Ivana Maletić and Davor Ivo Stier, who rebelled against Karamarko last year by writing an essay on the road the HDZ should take. Plenković lost no time and began clearing the party out of its extreme nationalism. First of all he dealt with the circle around Karamarko, then positioned the party in the centre-right, inserted the EU and its values in the discourse, refused playing Ustaša and Communists, broke the Patriotic coalition and announced that the HDZ will appear solo at the elections, and set an entirely new tone to the political dialogue.

Results were quick to follow. The HDZ alone, without far-right wing nationalist parties won more seats in the Sabor than the Patriotic coalition last year. Besides, at these elections not a single one of the nationalist extreme right parties, which were part of the Patriotic coalition before, managed to step over the election threshold, which is a very clear indicator of Croats’ attitudes. Moreover, the new orientation of the HDZ brought about reforms in the SDP as well, which decided to repeat the Patriotic coalition’s mistake and bet on nationalist rhetoric during the campaign, as The Financial Times andThe Guardian correctly note. Voters, however, punished Zoran Milanović and the SDP itself. There is a campaign ongoing in the party currently for the election of a new leader. There are for now eight candidates, among whom is MEP Tonino Picula. So far it could be inferred from the candidates’ platforms that nationalism is a completely denounced ideology and is not dear to the heart of any of the candidates.

The party’s election loss analysis shows that they see the turn towards nationalism and radical rhetoric as a mistake. It is very true that there were nationalist and Ustaša displays, left non-denounced by the political elite, especially from the HDZ. It is also true that during the short reign of the HDZ-MOST NL coalition government extreme rhetoric turned into the norm and a process of relativisation of crimes and rehabilitation of condemned ideologies began. The elections, however, showed that this does not appeal to Croatian voters. Nationalism in Croatia today, even during Orešković’s government with Minister Hasanbegović in it, is far less nationalist than in a number of EU states. Incidents against non-Croats (meaning Serbs) have not increased in number, which does not mean that the Croatian state does everything necessary to prosecute violations.

The situation in Croatia, despite the peak from the start of the year is far calmer than in Great Britain for example, where a MP was murdered a week before the June 23 referendum and there were also attacks against Poles for example. One of the reasons for such calmness in Croatia is the media environment, which is deeply critical to any display of nationalism and attempt at rehabilitation of crimes and perpetrators.

Who is to blame for bad Croatian-Serbian relations?​

In the spring of 2012, before I moved to Zagreb, I went to Belgrade to cover the campaign for the parliamentary and presidential elections there, won by the new clothes of radicals – The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) with leader Aleksandar Vučić. During the campaign, the party’s presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolić did the first of a line of provocations of the former (really?) radicals by stating in an interview for a German newspaper that Vukovar is a Serbian town. It is possible that Zagreb’s cautious reaction at the time was prompted by the need for not having EU membership overshadowed by a regional problem. The Croatian president at the time, Ivo Josipović, announced that he would not meet Nikolić until the latter apologised. This never happened, but the two of them met anyway as part of the persistent efforts for a warm-up of relations during the rule of Zoran Milanović both before the accession and after it happened.

The culmination of this warm-up was the apology of deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić for the bombing of Dubrovnik. This happened during the Croatia Forum in the town in July of 2014. Despite some temporary quarrels, the former administration kept really good relations with Belgrade authorities. The refugee crisis turned out to be a large challenge to relations between the two states, even leading to trade wars. At the time, PM Zoran Milanović was leading a circle defence against all Croatia’s neighbours, a large portion of which was due to the preparations for the parliamentary elections several months later.

Anyway, no one in Croatia crossed the thin red line as did Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić when he recently admitted during the visit of European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, that the situation a year ago was at the brink of an armed conflict. A thing that never passed through the mind of anyone in Croatia, then or now. This came as a surprise to many, as it revealed what passed through the minds of Serbian authorities, trying to present themselves to Europe as fully reformed and completely disengaged from their radical past.

When evaluating Serbian-Croatian relations, there are some more worrying facts that need to be taken into consideration. Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić continuously talks about him fighting for stability in the region, but it is not always certain that he is working for that. One of the largest provocations, done by his government is the organisation of the military parade two years ago to honour Russian President Vladimir Putin on the occasion of the liberation of Belgrade from the Fascists and the 100th anniversary of the First World War. Croatia replied by marking with another military parade the following year the 20-year anniversary of operation “Storm”, which Croatia regained its territorial integrity with.

And while Aleksandar Vučić positioned himself as a mature and fully transformed leader, his Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin works as a mouthpiece on neighbourly relations, often resorting to a tone and vocabulary which are completely incompatible with the claims of the government that it wishes good and pragmatic relations with Zagreb. Opposite to Croatia, where this is a field for marginals, to Serbia the relativisation of crimes and the rehabilitation of even such figures as Slobodan Milošević is official policy.

It is without doubt that in Croatia, especially during the campaign for the latest elections, nationalism and radical rhetoric took central stage, but democracy in the country this summer went to a higher level and it can now be said that it is mature enough to be able to cleanse itself of such phenomena. The appearance of MOST NL unleashed a long overdue process of reforms in the two largest political parties. After the “nationalistic” HDZ took a firm pro-European course and positioned itself in the centre-right, there is currently a real democratic battle running for the leader’s post in the SDP, due to the intention of the long-standing leader Zoran Milanović to step down. There are currently eight nominations announced for the post, one of which is again of a MEP – former foreign minister Tonino Picula. Radical and nationalist rhetoric is not dear to any of them, as is evident from their statements so far.

Despite some veering and the peak of revisionism and nationalism since the start of the year, you could safely say that democracy in Croatia is robust and going in the right direction. There is not a single party in Croatia to have considerable supremacy over the rest or which has nationalist ideology. Authorities always have solid opposition which is able to present an alternative. Something, which was even admitted by Garry Kasparov recently when he said that Croatian democracy is in an even better shape than the American one. A huge credit for this is due to Croatian media environment, which, despite the very legitimate remarks in the report of a group of international organisations of this year, fulfils its functions of public conscience and a corrector of the political elite. The most-read media and the most popular journalists in unison denounced any case of radical manifestations and urged the state elite to also denounce them and fulfil its obligations by punishing and preventing them. By this I do not mean there is no more work to be done. On the contrary. Croatia has a lot to do on settling its own accounts with its past – both the recent and the more distant one.

The situation in neighbouring Serbia is the exact opposite. Opposition in the country is currently almost non-existent. It is too weak and divided to present a realistic alternative and thus a corrective to the government. This is due to a large extent to the media environment, occupied by tabloids, which are said to be close to PM Vučić. When they are not busy denouncing the Croats, they spend day and night spitting on any possible opposition to Mr Vučić and his government. Last year, during the trade wars, you could see on the front pages of many tabloids such words aimed at PM Zoran Milanović and Croats in general, which would make even Donald Trump blush. As Veselin Simonović recently wrote for Blic, the tabloids’ reign will continue until Vučić says “enough”.

He does not, however, see any reason to do so, because he thinks the EU is on his side. The Serbian PM said this directly during the visit of Commissioner Hahn to Belgrade in the beginning of September, when the Serbian government complained of Croatia’s behaviour. Serbia knows very well that it is important to the EU in the geopolitical re-distribution currently going on. The opening of negotiation chapters 23 and 24 for Serbia are a large domestic politics victory, but is also perceived as another victory in the never ending conflict with Croatia. And in this sense, I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Mason in The Guardian, in whose opinion Europe has much more to do in the Balkans. As I wrote myself, a key role is attributable to European political parties, which often remain silent about objectionable behaviour by members of theirs. The EPP kept  silent about Orbán, and Karamarko, and Borissov, and is probably going to do the same about Vučić’s napredniaks, who expect to be accepted to the EPP this autumn.

For the sake of Balkans stability, it is extremely important to be careful when blame is thrown for one thing or another. European integration has always had a geopolitical element, but the experience of recent decades teaches us that while it is unlikely that this will ever cease, it should not be at the expense of the transformation process. In a long term plan, it is very important to the survival of the Union itself that it is joined by robust democracies with a healthy media environment, for otherwise the very foundations of the Union are being undermined, as is quite clearly demonstrated by the example of Hungary and Poland.

The Financial Times and The Guardian, as well as all the rest have an important role in this sense. In the Balkans, and in small countries in general, it is very important what the large ones say. Large media as well. The texts in both newspapers are correct, but they are several months too late and thus missing the extremely important changes, which are happening on the Croatian political scene. Should these processes complete successfully, perhaps the country’s direction will be irreversible and will serve as a good example in the battle with current phenomena in Europe, which, apart from being aimed against the EU, are often pointed against democracy as well. The processes in

Croatia disprove the claim that accession to the EU has unleashed nationalistic sentiments. On the contrary, thanks to the EU Croatia is headed in a positive direction. Leading the possible next ruling party are MEPs. It could happen that at the lead of the other large party as well will stand a MEP, automatically transferring the Brussels political culture to the domestic scene.

If there is a problem anywhere, it is in Serbia and it should be addressed in the most decisive manner in the name of the wellbeing of Serbian citizens, as well as of the peace in the region and in Europe. The EU must do everything in its power to avoid the raising of another democratura in its backyard, and for this to happen it is very important that media and analysts be precise in their assessments of what is happening and in the distribution of responsibility.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Yemen, Saudi Arabia expected to start real peace talks



The formation of a new government in Yemen is expected to be a proper move to uphold the Yemenis’ stance in bargaining for peace with militants loyal to resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Veterans Today’s senior editor Gordon Duff told Press TV’s ‘Top 5.’

Yemen’s ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement and allies have agreed to task Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, former governor of the province of Aden, with forming a new government.

Duff said that Habtoor is “an excellent leader” and he will be able to unite the impoverished country. The development inside Yemen may help the new government to begin a real negotiation with the Saudi-backed militants, he added.

The Yemeni government has recognized that there is no military balance between Yemen on the one side, and the Saudi-led coalition including the United States, Israel, Morocco, Spain and even Denmark on the other, the analyst said.

He further noted that Saudi Arabia refused to hold real negotiations with Yemen because the Saudis wanted to continue their airstrikes to reinstate Hadi, adding however that the Saudi kingdom is now running out of money and is falling short of its objectives in Yemen.

Duff also hoped that the US allegations of Saudi complicity in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had shown to the Saudis that the US was not a good partner for them. He predicted that Washington’s change of policy towards Riyadh after the 2016 US presidential election will push the Al Saud to hold real negotiations with the Yemeni government.

Ruling out a “false narrative” that claims the Saudi war on Yemen derives from a longtime “animosity” between Riyadh and Tehran, he argued that Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to redress their relationship.

Yemen has been under almost incessant Saudi airstrikes and ground operations since March last year. The attacks, which have killed nearly 10,000 people and lack any international mandate, are meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and its allies.

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Civilian targets hit in fresh Zio-Wahhabi airstrikes in Yemen

A man inspects the damage in a house after a Saudi air strike in the Old City of Sana'a, Yemen, on September 24, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
A man inspects the damage in a house after a Saudi Zio-Wahhabi air strike in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen, on September 24, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi warplanes have carried out a series of fresh airstrikes against residential areas across Yemen, leaving a number of people dead and causing more material damage in the impoverished Arab country.

Two fishermen lost their lives and more than 10 others suffered injuries on Sunday morning, when Saudi Zio-Wahhabi fighter jets struck an area in the Red City of Mokha, situated 346 kilo meters south of the capital, Sana’a, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Zio-Wahhabi military aircraft also bombarded an area in the city of Sirwah, which lies about 120 kilometers east of the capital, as well as Nihm district in the capital province of Sana’a, but there were no immediate reports on possible casualties and extent of damage.

Also on Sunday, Yemeni army soldiers launched several missiles at a gathering of Saudi Zio-Wahhabi backed militants loyal to C.I.A puppet Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Sirwah, leaving an unspecified number of them killed and injured.

The developments came a day after two people were killed and five others injured in a Saudi Zio-Wahhabi aerial attack against a district in Sana’a.

Yemen has been under Saudi Zio-Wahhabi military strikes since late March 2015. The war was launched in a bid to reinstate C.I.A puppet Hadi, who has stepped down as Yemen’s president but is now seeking to grab power by force.

The United Nations puts the death toll from the military aggression at about 10,000.

Yemeni army forces together with fighters from the allied Popular Committees are fighting back the Zio-Wahhabi invaders and occasionally launch retaliatory attacks on the kingdom’s soil.

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‘Hate crimes in UK increased following Brexit vote’

Polish police officers talk with Essex Police officer PC Paul Harrison (center) in Harlow, north of London, on September 15, 2016, as he patrols the neighborhood where a Polish man, Arkadiusz Jozwik was killed in a possible hate crime incident in August.(Photo by AFP)
Polish police officers talk with Essex Police officer PC Paul Harrison (center) in Harlow, north of London, on September 15, 2016, as he patrols the neighborhood where a Polish man, Arkadiusz Jozwik was killed in a possible hate crime incident in August.(Photo by AFP)

European Union embassies in the United Kingdom have reported a rise in xenophobic attacks on their citizens by Britons.

The EU embassies in Britain recently filed 60 incidents of suspected hate crime and abuse against their citizens.

On Monday, the British daily The Guardian published a survey based on which xenophobia, which was already present in the UK society, intensified since the referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU.

The Guardian contacted the embassies of all 27 EU member states in London for an inquiry.

Only 17 embassies replied. Out of them, the embassies of Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland confirmed the rise of xenophobic abuse in the 12 weeks since the EU referendum.

The Polish Embassy said 31 incidents of hate crime – the highest rate among other foreign missions – had been logged since June 23, including eight attacks in the past three weeks.

Floral tributes and a photograph of Arkadiusz Jozwik who was killed in Harlow, north of London, in a possible hate crime incident in August. (Photo by AFP).

These include the killing of Arkadiusz Jozwik in Harlow, in an apparently unprovoked attack that is being treated by police as a possible hate crime as well as an arson attack on a Polish family in Plymouth that destroyed a shed at their home in Efford. The perpetrators left a note which read, “Go back to your country next be [sic] your family.”

Polish Ambassador to London, Arkady Rzegocki, said he was “saddened by each and every incident.”

“The Polish community is the largest national minority in the UK and, due to its visibility, may be statistically an easier target of xenophobic abuse,” he said.

Researchers have link the upsurge in xenophobic attacks to the buildup of anti-EU sentiment ahead of the Brexit referendum.

They say the violent hate crimes “should come as no surprise.”

“Given the way that they [Eastern Europeans] have been portrayed repeatedly as scroungers, cheats and, ultimately, threats. This depiction, which intensified in the build-up to the referendum, of course predated it. The hate crimes are a product of a politically constructed climate which has been years in the making,” said Jon Burnett, a researcher at the Institute of Race Relations.

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum on European Union membership, which resulted in an overall vote in favor of leaving the bloc.

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UK Muslims no longer trust police due to discrimination

Image result for ISLAMOPHOBIA LOGO

The UK government’s so-called “Prevent” policy has alienated Muslims across Britain to a point that they no longer trust the British law enforcement, says prominent Labour lawmaker Andy Burnham.

Speaking at a conference organized by a non-profit called Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), Burnham called for a “root and branch review” of the government’s constant monitoring of Muslim communities so that the real extent of Islamophobic crimes in the country could be measured.

“If people have a feeling that the bodies that they would go to are also simultaneously being asked to monitor them there’s a possible conflict of interest there isn’t there?” the shadow home secretary said.

“Then people won’t feel able to come forward and say exactly what’s happening to them and their family if they also feel they’re being monitored in some way,” he noted before proposing a third-party agency that would allow Muslims to bypass police when reporting a crime.

Last year, the UK Parliament passed the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, which introduced the so-called Prevent program as a strategy to keep people from becoming “radicalized.”

The over-exaggerated image of radicalism that was painted in the bill resulted in a wave of maltreatment against Muslims and prevented Muslim students from voicing their opinions in lectures and seminars for fear of being accused of extremism.

According to a study by MEND, a company that aims to enhance the engagement of British Muslims in national life, 61 percent of the Muslim participants said they had not reported workplace discrimination to anyone.

Burnham, who is Labour’s mayoral candidate for Greater Manchester, drew a comparison between the Prevent and France’s ban on the so-called burkini swimsuits, warning against falling “into the trap into which the French have fallen.”

Rights groups say the ban violates basic freedoms of dress, religious expression and movement and foments religious tensions in France.

“Our equivalent here, you might say, is Prevent: an approach to policy that singles out one community for different treatment. That is highly problematic, I would say,” Burnham noted.

“In the midst of all these figures we’ve seen, we know that it is Islamophobia that is absolutely the most virulent strand of this hate that is coming forward,” he continued.

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Watch out: Over half of female workers abused at largest UK union

Image result for Unite UNION LOGO

More than half of women working at Britain’s largest union have been subjected to bullying and harassment at work, a leaked internal study shows.

The 39-page research titled Women Officers in Unite, focused on the treatment and working conditions of Unite’s 74 female representatives, who support the union’s members and elected shop stewards on shop floors and in offices.

Over half of female workers at Britain's largest union have been subjected to harassment, a survey shows.

Over half of female workers at Britain’s largest union have been subjected to harassment, a survey shows.

Nearly 40 percent of the female workers said sharing working concerns with the union and their colleagues is usually viewed as a weakness.

According to the report, which was commissioned by Unite’s Officers National Committee (ONC) in February and presented to senior management in May, a quarter of the female workers were not satisfied with the union’s handling of abuse claims.

One of the women told the interviewers that she was “sexually assaulted” by a senior officer in the past.

“The old-boys network is alive and kicking unfortunately in Unite, where it is who you know and where they come from that matters.”

“I have to sit among colleagues who refer to our secretaries as the girls … [They] think it is correct to refer to black people as colored, talk about chairmen, refer to women as a piece of skirt,” another female officer said.

Howard Beckett, Unite’s executive director for legal services, said the union had received no reports of assault and would have informed law enforcement if such claims were made by an employee.

The survey’s findings comes a week after an unsuccessful attempt by Unite to overturn a court ruling that held it responsible for the sexual harassment and bullying of a female former official named Sally Nailard.

Nailard says she was forced out of her job after being abused by her co-workers for two year. She claims that instead of helping him, the union’s senior officials helped the abusive behaviour to a point that she had to leave her position.

On Tuesday, an employment appeals court upheld a previous ruling that Unite was responsible for sexual harassment she was subjected to by shop stewards. The court also ruled that her dismissal amounted to sexual discrimination.

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