Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Lithuania drops CIA prison inquiry

‘No parliament support’

RT | March 14, 2015

The Lithuanian legislature decided against a new inquiry into a secret US torture facility in the country, despite a damning US Senate report released three months ago which indicated its existence.

“No new inquest will be considered, because there is no longer sufficient support for it among parliament members,” Loreta Grauziniene, speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, told Reuters on Friday.

Allegations that the CIA set up and ran a secret detention center near the country’s capital of Vilnius between 2004 and 2006 were investigated in 2009 and 2010 by a parliamentary committee. The inquiry concluded the CIA did operate flights in and out of Lithuania, and that there may have been as many as two secret facilities for what the CIA termed “enhanced interrogations.” The committee added that such information could not be confirmed because US officials refused to cooperate.

When a heavily redacted US Senate report on secret CIA prisons came out in December 2014, it did not identify any countries by name. However, the descriptions of the facility identified as ‘Violet’ closely matched the Lithuanian parliament’s original report. Arvydas Anusauskas, the lawmaker who led the inquiry, told the media that the Senate report had made a “convincing case” that prisoners had been held in Lithuania. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius expressed hope that there would be another parliamentary inquiry, and that information would be “shared and exchanged” this time around.

Former president Valdas Adamkus, however, insisted to the local media that he would continue to believe “there were no prisons or prisoners in Lithuania” until he saw “documents before my eyes” proving him wrong.

No further explanation was given for Friday’s decision to drop the inquiry. It comes as hundreds of US troops and vehicles deploy to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia as a “deterrent” to alleged Russian aggression.

Human rights groups have criticized Lithuania’s complicity in the CIA’s secret detention program, as well as its reluctance to investigate claims by Guantanamo Bay detainees Abu Zubaydah and Mustafa al-Hawsawi of being held and tortured at the CIA facility in the country.

Read more:

Not so magnificent 7: nations ‘busted’ in redacted CIA terror report

Over 100 US armored vehicles roll into Latvia, NATO flexes muscles in Europe

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border

RT | February 25, 2015

NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in the border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.

Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.

Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).

Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.

The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.

Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.

NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.

Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.

The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.

“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.

Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.

The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.

It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.

The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to sow dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

American, Georgian & Lithuanian get key jobs in Ukraine’s new government

RT | December 2, 2014

Natives of the US, Georgia and Lithuania were hastily granted Ukrainian citizenship in order to become key ministers in the new government of Ukraine, which was approved by the country’s parliament on Tuesday.

President Poroshenko has also announced he will sign a decree to grant citizenship to foreigners fighting on Kiev’s side in the east of the country.

Natalie Jaresko of the US, who currently heads the Kiev-based Horizon Capital investment fund, will take reigns at the Ukrainian Finance Ministry.

In 1992-1995, Jaresko served as the first Chief of the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Ukraine.

Before that she occupied several economic positions in the US State Department, according to Horizon Capital’s website.

The position of health minister went to Aleksandr Kvitashvili, who occupied a similar post in the Georgian government in 2009-2012.

“Ukraine spends 8 per cent of its GDP on healthcare, but half of this money is being plundered. Aleksandr Kvitashvili must implement radical reforms as he has no ties with the Ukrainian pharmaceutical mafia,” Ukrainian PM, Arseny Yatsenuk, said as he presented the new minister to the deputies.

1

Alexander Kvitashvili, a candidate for head of the Ukrainian health ministry, at a session of Verkhovna Rada in Kiev (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Polinchak)

Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius has been approved as the economy minister by the new parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

Abromavicius, who is a partner at the $3.6 billion-worth East Capital asset management group, conducts his operations from Kiev after marrying a Ukrainian.

“There’s hard work ahead of us because Ukraine is a very poor and corrupt country and we’ll have to use radical measures,” he told MPs from the Rada Tribune.

288 out of 450 deputies supported the cabinet proposed by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, with the new ministers sworn in right after the vote.

“I congratulate the Ukrainians with the formation of the pro-European government,” Poroshenko wrote on his Twitter page.

He told the Rada that he views the foreigners as some kind of anti-crisis management need due to the difficult situation in economy, the fighting in Donbas, the necessity of radical reforms and large-scale corruption.

Earlier on the Tuesday, the president has signed special a decree granting Ukrainian citizenship to Jaresko, Kvitashvili and Abromavicius.

2

Aivars Abramovicus (Aivaras Abromavicius), a candidate for head of the Ukrainian economy ministry, at a session of Verkhovna Rada in Kiev (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Polinchak)

Dual nationality is forbidden in Ukraine and the trio has already written applications to give up the citizenship of foreign states, Yury Lutsenko, the head of the Petro Poroshenko Block (PPB), said.

Poroshenko said that there’ll be even more foreigners on administrative positions in Ukraine as the country “must attract the best international experience, which includes assigning positions in the government to representative of states friendly to Ukraine.”

Also on Tuesday, the MPs from Poroshenko’s ruling bloc have registered a draft law in the Rada on amending the Ukrainian legislation for it to allow citizens of other states in the government.

It had been announced by Poroshenko a week ago. This move has been dubbed “unprecedented” and attracted criticism from experts with some calling it “allegiance to the so-called European choice,” and others expressing concern that it can be a sign of Ukraine losing its sovereignty.

Poroshenko also promised to grant the citizenship of Ukraine to all foreigners fighting for Kiev against the militias in the country’s eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

“I’m going to sign a decree conferring Ukrainian citizenship to those, who defended Ukraine with arms in their hands,” he wrote on Twitter.

However, not everybody in the parliament supported the inclusion of foreigners into the Ukrainian government.

Earlier, the MP from the Opposition Block said Aleksandr Vilkul suggested that by inviting people from abroad the Ukrainian authorities are trying to absolve themselves of responsibility for the state of things in the country.

Vilkul colleague, Yury Boyko, said he can’t understand how it wasn’t possible to find 10 candidates for the cabinet among Ukraine’s 40-million population.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

There to stay: US troops keep Poland, Baltic deployment for 2015

RT | November 24, 2014

A ‘temporary’ deployment of US troops in Poland and the Baltic states has been extended through 2015, a US commander in Europe said. NATO sells its presence as a deterrent to an ‘aggressive Russia’, with Moscow countering that it only escalates tension.

The alliance deployed several hundred US troops in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia earlier this year. The move was explained by a desire to give confidence to these NATO members after the political crisis in Ukraine and the secession of its region of Crimea to rejoin Russia. The alliance called it an annexation and said countries in the region feared that Moscow would militarily attack them.

Originally the troops were supposed to stay until the end of the year, but now NATO wants to keep them for at least 12 months more, said Lieutenant-General Frederick Ben Hodges, Commanding General of US Army Europe.

“We have planned rotations out through next year. Units are designated that will continue to do this,” Hodges told journalist in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

“There are going to be US Army forces here in Lithuania, as well as Estonia and Latvia and Poland, for as long as is required to deter Russian aggression and to assure our allies,” he said as cited by Reuters.

A 1997 Russia-NATO agreement forbids the alliance from having troops permanently stationed in the Baltic States, so the deployment remains a temporary mission. However, it’s not immediately clear when, if ever, NATO would consider the perceived threat of a Russian aggression no longer valid and withdraw the troops.

Washington’s assurances to its eastern NATO partners were also delivered last week through diplomatic channels.

“When NATO and the US as part of NATO took new members into the alliance, this means that we are ready to participate in the defense of the security of these countries, and this means that we are ready to give our lives for the security of these countries,” said US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Victoria Nuland during a visit to Latvia.

Amid the Ukrainian crisis, Poland and the Baltic states have been among the most vocal critics of Russia. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite went as far as branding Russia ‘a terrorist state’ last week, prompting some Russian MPs to call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Vilnius.

Russia considers the build-up of NATO troops close to its borders provocative and dangerous. Moscow’s envoy to the alliance Aleksandr Grushko said NATO “is turning the Baltic region, which used to be militarily calm, into an area of military confrontation with Russia.”

The Russian military said it would respond to the emerging NATO threat from the Baltic with appropriate counter-moves.

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latvia urges Europe to stop ‘war of sanctions’ before it ruins world economies

RT | August 19, 2014

The “right steps” politicians in the West and Russia are now taking against each other are very similar to what was happening before World War I, Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikinsh warned EC President Jose Manuel Barroso in a letter Tuesday.

It’s crucial to stop reciprocal sanctions before they throw people into poverty and ruin the economies altogether, the European Parliament member wrote.

“In 2014 exactly 100 years have passed since the beginning of World War I that killed millions of people and left Europe in ruins. On the eve of that war similar processes occurred when countries took “the right” steps against each other and eventually were not able to stop. It is doubtful that in the end of that war anyone remembered for what good intentions it had started,” Mamikinsh wrote in his letter.

These would be ordinary people, not politicians, who’ll be hit first and hardest by a so called “risky poker” played by politicians in the West and Russia, the Latvian MEP, added.

Latvia is expected to suffer the most from the tit for tat sanctions imposed by the West and Russia, Mamikinsh said.

Further escalation of a “sanctions war” would erode about 10 percent of Latvian GDP, which means thousands of people could be left out of work with shrinking living standards.

August 19, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

NATO’s record 6,000-strong drills kick off in Estonia amid Ukraine tensions

RT | May 5, 2014

NATO’s three-week ‘Spring Storm’ drills, involving a record-breaking number of 6,000 troops, have begun in Estonia. For the first time, a cyber security team from France is participating in the military exercises.

“This year’s Spring Storm brings together a record number of allied troops – infantry from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, soldiers from Latvia, soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the US army, as well as soldiers from Lithuania,” the Estonian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

In addition, Poland has sent three of its Sukhoi Su-22 attack aircraft and a division of missile defense system unit SA-8, which will be tasked with protecting an air base near Tallinn and the surrounding airspace.

Just like last year, the exercise also involves anti-aircraft personnel from Belgium.

The main goal of the military exercises is to assess the skills of the infantry battalions, rehearse cooperation between different units, and improve management methods of staff divisions, the ministry stressed.

The Spring Storm drills have been held annually in different parts of Estonia since 2003.

This year, military maneuvers will be held in 5 out of 15 Estonian counties, including southern and southeastern regions close to the border with Russia. The exercises are scheduled to finish on May 23.

Britain, France, and the US have been deploying troops to the Baltic region since April 29, a week ahead of the drills in Estonia. A day earlier, around 150 personnel of the US airborne division arrived in a military transport aircraft to Amari airbase. Upon completion of the maneuvers, the US Marines will remain in Estonia at least until the end of 2014.

Amid rising tensions in Ukraine, the UK and France deployed eight fighter jets to Lithuania and Poland to strengthen NATO air defense over the Baltic regions.

On May 2, a group of NATO ships arrived in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda to “ensure regional security.”

Russia considers the increase of NATO forces so close to its border a provocation, and believes it is counter-productive in the struggle to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.

On Monday, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu called on his American counterpart, Chuck Hagel, to cool down the rhetoric over Ukraine and work together to defuse the situation.

May 5, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Art of drills: 10 NATO war games that almost started armed conflicts

RT | February 28, 2014

The world’s largest military alliance seems annoyed about Russia’s “lack of transparency” over military drills at a very “delicate time.” NATO, however, has its own long history of war games all over the globe.

Western politicians have leveled criticism at Russia for planned drills on its own territory, seemingly glossing over the many joint military exercises Western powers, namely the US and NATO forces, have conducted on foreign soil over the years.

South Korea

This week, US and South Korean forces began their annual joint military drills, which will last until mid-April. The Foal Eagle exercise is conducted near Iksan and Damyan, South Korea.

The drills prompted a stern reaction from North Korea, which slammed the exercises as “a serious provocation” that could plunge the region into “a deadlock and unimaginable holocaust.”

Israel

The US joined Greece, Italy, and Israeli forces at Ovda air base in southern Israel for the ‘Blue Flag’ air-training drills in November 2013. The drills were called the “largest international aerial exercise in history,” by Israeli news outlet Haaretz.

According to Israel National News reports the exercises are geared towards “simulating realistic engagements in a variety of scenarios, based on Israel’s experience with air forces of Arab armies in previous engagements.”

Poland and Latvia

NATO’s ‘Steadfast Jazz’ training exercise was held in November 2013, in Latvia and Poland. The drills included air, land, naval, and special forces.

Over 6,000 military personnel from around 20 NATO countries and allies took part in the largest NATO-led drills of their kind since 2006.

Bulgaria

In October, NATO also held anti-aircraft drills in Bulgaria, along with the Greek and Norwegian air forces. The exercises were held to test responses in conditions of radio interference, according to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense.

Persian Gulf

In May 2013, the US joined 40 other countries in the Persian Gulf for maritime war games. The US Navy said the mass exercises are aimed at “enhancing capability to preserve freedom of navigation in international waterways.”

The drills provoked a sharp response from the Iranian government who voiced concerns at how the maneuvers came in the run-up to the Iranian elections.

Japan

In August 2012, US Marines joined Japanese troops for military drills in the western Pacific. The drills were held in part in Guam, a US holding, just as an old territory dispute reemerged between Japan and China over islands in the East China Sea.

“China will not ignore hostile gestures from other nations and give up on its core interests or change its course of development,” the Chinese Communist Party stated in response to the drills, warning the US and Japan not to “underestimate China’s resolve to defend its sovereignty.”

Jordan

The US joined 16 other nations in May 2012 for military exercises in Jordan near the Syria border. The ‘Eager Lion’ drills included 12,000 soldiers from the participating countries, Turkey, France, and Saudi Arabia among them.

Denying accusations that the violence in Syria had nothing to do with the drills, the US claimed it was “designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships through a joint, entire-government, multinational approach, integrating all instruments of national power to meet current and future complex national security challenges.

Vietnam

In August 2010, the US Navy joined Vietnamese forces for drills in the South China Sea, to the dismay of China. Sovereignty claims in the South China Sea have long been a subject of debate and animosity among Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, and Malaysia, though China’s territorial declarations have been the most aggressive.

Ukraine

Ukraine welcomed a fleet of NATO warships for a two-week period of military drills in July 2010. Operation ‘Sea Breeze-2010’ focused on joint anti-terror exercises, despite Kiev’s decision not to enter the NATO alliance. Some 3,000 international military personnel were said to be a part of the drills.

Ukraine began hosting the Sea Breeze exercises in 1997, as part of its commitment to join the alliance. In 2009, the Ukrainian parliament voted against the drills, curtailing then-President Viktor Yuschenko’s efforts to seek NATO membership.

Georgia

In May 2009, 15 NATO countries held a series of controversial military exercises in Georgia less than a year after it launched an offense against its breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia called the maneuvers “dubious provocation” saying it may encourage the country’s regime to carry out new attacks.

February 28, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lithuanians vote out pro-austerity government

Press TV – October 15, 2012

Lithuania’s left-wing and populist opposition parties are expected to form a new coalition government after anti-austerity Lithuanians voted out the country’s conservative-led government.

The leaders of three opposition parties–Labour, the Social Democrats and Order and Justice parties– held a meeting early on Monday after an exit poll showed that the voters decided to evict the country’s centre-right Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius in Sunday parliamentary election.

“We’re creating a working group to start consultations on a coalition,” Labour leader Viktor Uspaskich said after the meeting.

Figures published by the national elections commission indicated that with almost half of the ballots counted, the left-wing populist Labour party secured about 23 percent of the vote.

The Baltic state’s centre-left Social Democrats came in second with 20 percent of the vote, while the ruling conservatives received about 13 percent.

The incumbent government took office in 2008 amid global economic crisis and implemented a drastic austerity package in a bid to prevent the country’s bankruptcy.

The economic output of Lithuania, which is regarded as one of the European Union countries most hard hit by the crisis, fell by 15 percent and unemployment climbed.

Meanwhile, opposition parties pledged to ease the unpopular belt tightening measures by raising the minimum wage, creating jobs and making the rich pay more income tax.

By Christian Lowe and Andrius Sytas | Reuters | October 15, 2012

VILNIUS – Lithuanians rejected a plan to build a nuclear plant to cut dependence on imports of Russian energy, in a non-binding referendum that does not kill off the project but leaves a question mark over its future.

Support for the plant in Lithuania, one of the European Union states most dependent on imported energy, waned after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year.

With results counted from all but a handful of Lithuania’s districts after Sunday’s referendum, 62.74 percent voted “No”, while 34.01 percent were in favour. … Full article

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanians vote out pro-austerity government