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Lithuanian government impoverishes their own citizens to try and topple Lukashenko

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 26, 2020

Since the re-election of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on August 9, deemed a rigged election by the West, protests have persisted for nearly three months. Led by opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the protests do not only continue to persist, but neighboring countries are actively intervening in the domestic affairs of Belarus in the hope that Lukashenko will be toppled, and thus, in their view, weaken Russian influence.

Just days after the election, a faction of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats in the Seimas, the unicameral parliament of Lithuania, called for the immediate announcement of Lithuanian sanctions against 39 of the most influential representatives of the “Alexander Lukashenko regime,” as they termed it.

“Lithuania must clearly, quickly and unambiguously formulate and consolidate strategic provisions for the Belarusian regime at the European Union and transatlantic level, be an icebreaker in the fight for freedom and against tyranny. Sanctions must also send a signal to other influential members of the regime that continue to support Lukashenko, will mean a stalemate and further sanctions against a wider range of the current elite,” said leader of the Seimas opposition, Gabrielius Landsbergis.

With full backing from the opposition, decision makers in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius achieved complete unanimity to pressure Belarus on behalf of NATO and the European Union. Taking on the so-called responsibility of dealing with the situation in Belarus, Lithuania developed a plan to challenge the legitimacy of Lukashenko by providing visas, housing and financial support to opposition figures; promoting Belarusian activists in Lithuanian universities, including awarding educational scholarships at the expense of the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sports; simplified employment in the Lithuanian labor market; and, free medical services.

In addition, separate assistance is also provided to the Belarusian opposition in the form of a €200,000 grant to the Belarusian European Humanitarian University, a private liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992 shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. It has however been operating in exile in Vilnius since 2004 after being shut down for “unsuitable classes,” but more likely for aggressively promoting liberal ideology.

While Vilnius may be proud of its role in the Belarusian conflict, Lithuanians are beginning to realize the economic consequences of such assistance, especially since a Ukraine-style color revolution was averted and Lukashenko’s position is consolidated and secure. Despite the fact that Vilnius annually receives visible support from the European Union, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and his government ineffectively allocate resources received towards anti-Lukashenko activities.

Social protection spending in Lithuania is among the lowest in the Europe Union while the poverty rate is among the highest. Lithuanian citizens do not have enough employment opportunities, which is why they seek for it in Western Europe. Many educated Lithuanians travel abroad for work opportunities but often end up doing mundane work, irrespective of their university qualifications. In the United Kingdom it is common to find Lithuanians doing construction, nannying or maid work. According to a statement by representatives of the Ministry of Social Security and Labor, the situation with unemployment in Lithuania is absolutely critical.

Belarusian migrant workers to the Baltic country are just worsening the situation, especially since 2,360 labor permits were issued since the beginning of the year, a significant amount considering Lithuania’s population is only about 2.7 million. This would be especially frustrating for Lithuanians considering unemployment in Belarus was 4.6% in 2019, lower than Lithuania’s 6.35%. Belarus is also capable of consistent GDP growth without having to rely on remittances unlike Lithuania which is experiencing a population decline due to immigration to the West because of the lack of employment opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been any kinder to Lithuania’s prospects as a negative trend continues in almost all sectors of the economy, including wholesale trade and retail business, transportation, food services, industrial output, the scientific and technical service sector, construction and tourism.

Vilnius’ priority in favor of the Belarusian opposition instead of Lithuanian citizens has seen a degradation of living quality. In fact, crime is beginning to explode in Lithuania, partially because of the lack of opportunities. In all of the EU, Lithuania had the second highest number of intentional homicides in 2017. It was only behind Latvia and recorded 4 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. It can only be assumed until the next release of official statistics that crime in Lithuania has only become worse as a result of the downturn in the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Primary care and public health measures in Lithuania are underfunded but there is no shortage for the defense sector, whose funding is steadily growing. While Lithuania spends 2.02% of their GDP on defense, parliamentary parties signed an agreement pledging to increase the country’s defense spending to 2.5% of the GDP by 2030. An increasing military budget and prioritized funding for the Belarusian opposition will only see more Lithuanians become dissatisfied with the domestic situation.

Lithuania claims its bloated military budget is part of their NATO responsibilities and is a deterrence against Russia. Although Lithuania cannot match Russia militarily, the justification of stalling the Russians long enough so that NATO can intervene in a hypothetical war is being actively used. Of course, Russia has no ambitions of conquering the Baltic States as they would try to have us believe, but this permanent paranoia cannot be shaken off. This paranoia and servitude to Atlantic-Euro interests drives Vilnius’ anti-Lukashenko policies.

Whereas Lukashenko is believed to be a Russian puppet, he was actually far more dynamic as he attempted to balance Moscow and the West. In fact, Lukashenko often prioritized relations with the West over Moscow. However, given Belarus’ recent negative experience with the West, largely spearheaded by Lithuania, it has only forced Lukashenko to return to Russia’s sphere of influence. Effectively, rather than pressuring Lukashenko into capitulation, Lithuania has only driven him back to Moscow, thus weakening their own geopolitical positioning and failed to strengthen it. While Lukashenko is secure in Minsk, Lithuanian citizens are increasingly impoverished as their government does everything it can to topple the Belarusian leader.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

US troops to stay longer in Lithuania: Defense minister

Press TV – September 22, 2020

A new battalion of US military forces, equipped with tanks and other armored vehicles, is to be deployed to Lithuania in November and will remain there until next June, the country’s defense minister says.

Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis made the announcement on Tuesday, though he said the deployment was “not connected at all to the situation in Belarus.”

He said the new battalion would replace an American troop contingent that was stationed in the country near Belarus’ border earlier this month for a two-month tour.

NATO activity has picked up near the borders of Belarus, where there has been unrest after the re-election in August of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko has said Western countries seek to destabilize Belarus and has put the country’s military on high alert and shut its borders with Poland and Lithuania.

The US battalion currently deployed in Lithuania arrived earlier and is staying longer than the government had indicated before the outbreak of protests in neighboring Belarus.

Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin warned in a recent televised interview that an American armor battalion had redeployed its tanks to a location in Lithuania close to the Belarusian border.

Lukashenko also accused the US of organizing the post-election protests in Belarus through social media platforms. He said Americans, acting through centers in Poland and the Czech Republic, were controlling the social media platforms that are playing a leading role in the unrest.

Earlier this month, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that the US would deploy 500 troops to the country to engage in war games near the border with Belarus.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Provocative & unacceptable’: Minsk says Lithuania’s recognition of Tikhanovskaya as Belarusian president breaks international law

By Jonny Tickle | RT | September 15, 2020

Lithuania’s decision to recognize Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the leader of Belarus “violates the norms of international law,” according to a statement by the Council of the Republic, the upper house of parliament in Minsk.

Last week, the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) adopted a resolution titled “On the Illegitimate Union Imposed by Russia on Belarus,” naming former presidential candidate Tikhanovskaya as the “elected leader” of the Belarusian people, and incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko as “illegitimate.”

“The decision of Lithuanian MPs to appoint a ‘leader of the people of Belarus’ is beyond the scope of common sense,” the Presidium of the Council of the Republic’s statement read. “Such actions are provocative and unacceptable, and violate the norms of international law.”

The statement also called Lithuania’s actions “blatant interference,” accusing the Seimas of “showing open disrespect for the sovereign right of the Belarusian people to choose their own leadership.”

Tikhanovskaya fled across Belarus’ northern border to Lithuania on August 11, two days after official election results suggested that she had come in a distant second place. Following the vote, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets throughout the country to protest over what they believe to have been a wholly rigged election. During days of demonstrations, police and internal troops used tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets to disperse protesters, while strikes began at large factories.

Following her arrival in Lithuania, Tikhanovskaya formed a body called the Coordination Council, with the goal of organizing a peaceful transition of power away from President Lukashenko, and of holding new elections. The group, which includes Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich as part of its leadership, has been accused by the Belarusian authorities of “aiming to seize state power” and “harming national security.”

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Poland and Lithuania are escalating events in Belarus as they did with Maidan

By Paul Antonopoulos | August 18, 2020

On August 9, presidential elections were held in Belarus with five candidates bidding to be head of state. According to the Central Election Commission, the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, won in the first round with over 80% of the votes. Mass protests began in Belarus right after the announcement of the preliminary election results. People went to the streets, expressing their dissatisfaction with the results of the elections that they believe were unfair. Mass protests turned into riots and there were clashes between rioters and the police. Many people were detained and injured, and two protestors died.

Representatives of the European Union and the U.S. stated that they did not consider the presidential elections fair and appealed to the Belarusian authorities to have a second election. As both the EU and U.S. condemned Lukashenko’s re-election, it was therefore unsurprising that the deputy head of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paweł Jabłoński, stated that Poland did not want the EU to limit itself to only introducing sanctions against Belarus, as he claims it will push Belarus deeper into the sphere of Russian influence.

Tomorrow’s EU summit to discuss the situation in Belarus, and possibly pass sanctions, resulted from Warsaw’s call for prompt action, and above all, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki who personally exerted pressure immediately after the Belarusian elections.

“We do not want the EU’s reaction to be limited only to presenting an idea for sanctions and adopting a joint statement, which is obviously needed, but to give Belarusians something more,” said Paweł Jabłoński in an interview with PAP. “The point is that we should present a real offer to resolve this conflict in a stable and lasting manner, and this is only possible if we, as the EU, offer Belarus a real perspective of cooperation if a solution based on dialogue is reached.”

Jałoński also pointed out that EU member states should jointly adopt a common position on the events in Belarus.

“We will want to send a signal that if Belarus begins the process of reforms leading to a system in which citizens decide on the direction of changes, the EU is ready for real cooperation with Belarus – primarily economic,” said Jabłoński, adding that “Belarusians should be able to choose their own development path and have a real choice here – our role is to propose this choice.”

This suggests that Warsaw’s main concern is to see the liberalization of the Belarusian economy to follow the same path as the other post-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe. The World Bank estimates that 75% of industrial output comes from state-owned companies, with the state sector employing about half of the Belarusian workforce. Because of this, unemployment in Belarus was at 4.6% in 2019, significantly lower than neighboring Ukraine (8.8%), Latvia (6.52%) and  Lithuania (6.35%), with only Poland having a lower figure at 3.47%. Belarus is also capable of consistent GDP growth without having to rely on remittances like its neighboring countries which are also experiencing population decline due to emigration.

Effectively, what Lukashenko has done is protected the country from neo-liberal policies that spread throughout Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, which resulted in many of the industries being shut down or privatized, impoverishing much of the population. Because of this action, Lukashenko earned the nom de guerre of “the last dictator of Europe” and Belarus the title of “mini-Soviet Union.”

Although Lukashenko has a complicated relationship with Moscow, one that can be cold at times, but generally speaking, Belarus, which gets its etymology from “White Rus(sia)”, has positive relations with its larger neighbor. Lukashenko, who at times panders towards the West, has amicable relations with Syria, Venezuela and other states that are targeted by the U.S. and Western Europe. Due to Lukashenko’s strong relations with these states and his sternness in preventing the liberalization of the economy, it is expected that when an opportunity is presented for the West, a Maidan-like event will begin in Belarus.

Although Poland is pushing for a Maidan-like event to occur, it is not the only neighbor of Belarus that wants this. A faction of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats in the Seimas, the unicameral parliament of Lithuania, called for the immediate announcement of Lithuanian sanctions against the 39 most influential representatives of the “Alexander Lukashenko regime,” as they termed it.

“Lithuania must clearly, quickly and unambiguously formulate and consolidate strategic provisions for the Belarusian regime at the European Union and transatlantic level, be an icebreaker in the fight for freedom and against tyranny. Sanctions must also send a signal to other influential members of the regime that continued to support Lukashenko, will mean a stalemate and further sanctions against a wider range of the current elite,” said leader of the Seimas opposition, Gabrielius Landsbergis.

It was recently revealed that Lithuania had a key role in the Ukrainian Maidan events, and Poland’s involvements are also well noted. It is unsurprising that both countries are once again united in their demands to escalate tensions and hostilities with Belarus in their mad drive in what they perceive to be the de-Sovietizing and de-Russification of Eastern Europe. Perceiving that Russia and Belarus could be a threat to their security, both Warsaw and Vilnius have taken the opportunity to escalate the protests through rhetoric in the hope that a Maidan-like event will occur in Belarus, thereby further weakening Russian influence in Eastern Europe.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

Lithuania’s alleged involvement in Maidan contradicts supposed European values

By Paul Antonopoulos |  August 4, 2020

New scandalous information about the 2014 Maidan coup d’état in Ukraine has emerged that implicates Lithuania’s important role in instigating the violent events. David Zhvania, a former Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, revealed on his YouTube channel that the seizure of power in Ukraine was financed in “several ways.”

“One of the external sources was the Lithuanian embassy, ​​through which money and weapons were transferred, and the internal channel was Diamantbank. I have documented evidence to support my words,” said the former ally of Petro Poroshenko, the previous president of Ukraine.

Zhvania called on Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova to initiate criminal proceedings and to summon him for questioning. According to the former MP, “Ukrainians should finally find out the truth” on who funded Maidan and who was bribed. He then admitted he was a member of a “criminal group that carried out a coup.”

“To help the conspirators, I used my political influence and my position as head of the State-Building Committee,” he said, adding that he would testify against himself, “but with one condition.”

“Please guarantee my security because I know who the people of Poroshenko are. They can easily order me to be removed,” he stressed.

Mass protests in Kiev began in November 2013 after preparations for the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union were suspended. This set off mass anti-Russian hysteria and by the end of February 2014, a coup d’état took place in Ukraine, ousting President Viktor Yanukovych from power. This led to Petro Poroshenko becoming president and ultra-nationalists, including neo-Nazis, gained significant power in Ukraine and instigated a war with the Russian-speaking minority of Eastern Ukraine.

Although U.S. and Western European involvement in Maidan are well documented and known, Zhvania’s admissions are the first admittance of how a small Baltic country of under 3 million people played a key role in destabilizing Ukraine. Lithuania’s role was not only with financial support, but also with arms transfers. Although some may be sceptical that Lithuania played such a role, Zhvania is confident enough in his allegations that he announced he is willing to submit “documented evidence” to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.

The question arises whether the Prosecutor’s Office will accept Zhvania’s testimony and evidence. Such a testimony and submission of evidence would further question the legitimacy of the Maidan events as a fight for freedom and democracy in Ukraine. If the legitimacy of Maidan is questioned, ultra-nationalists in Ukraine could become hysterical and instigate political destabilization to maintain and protect the powers they attained when Yanukovych was ousted. This is something the Prosecutor’s Office would be considering.

Lithuania was an active supporter of the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution that brought pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko to power in Ukraine. Although Yushchenko was unconstitutionally brought to power, for Lithuania this was not a problem so long as Kiev had a pro-Western orientation. It is therefore not surprising that in 2014 it again supported reactionary forces in Ukraine. From the beginning of the conflict in Donbass, the eastern region of Ukraine where the majority of the Russian-speaking minority are, Lithuania started to provide official military support to Ukraine with armaments and advisers, and informally by recruiting and sending mercenaries.

As Lithuania has taken a pro-American position since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country’s leadership has aggressively served Washington’s ambitions of limiting Russian influence and expanding American interests in the post-Soviet space. It is for this reason that Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland created the “Lublin Triangle,” a trilateral platform for these three countries to counter supposed “ongoing Russian aggression” and show their “firm support” for Western institutions. In their joint declaration published online, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the three countries condemned Russia’s “ongoing aggression” and its “attempted annexation” of Crimea, while welcoming Ukraine’s “European choice.” Effectively the trilateral platform is a pillar for the three countries to enact Washington’s main foreign policy priorities in the region, that they call “Central Europe” instead of Eastern Europe. Claiming that Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine are in Central Europe instead of the geographical reality that they are in Eastern Europe, is an awkward attempt by these countries to disassociate themselves from Western orientalization that the East is primitive and/or backwards.

If Zhvania’s statements that Lithuania’s role in Maidan are confirmed to be true, it would certainly not come as a surprise, but as mentioned, they delegitimize the initial claims that the movement was a struggle for democracy and Western European values in Ukraine. It would also confirm that Lithuania interfered in the internal affairs of another state and participated in an unconstitutional coup. Effectively, if proven true, the supposed values of Western Europe that Maidan struggled for would prove to be a sham as it was not achieved through the will of the people, but rather through foreign funds and weapons, including those from seemingly insignificant states like Lithuania.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Lithuania’s Television Commission Bans Broadcasting of Five RT Channels

Sputnik – 08.07.2020

The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) has banned the broadcasting of five RT channels in the country, following the example of neighbouring Latvia, commission chairman Mantas Martisius said on Wednesday.

“Yes, we can confirm this. The decision will come into force after being published on the LRTK website,” Martisius said.

The ban is applicable to RT, RT HD, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD and RT Documentary, and will go into effect on Thursday, LRTK chairman explained.

Last week, Latvia banned the broadcasting of seven RT channels (namely RT, RT HD, RT Arabic, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD, RT Documentary, RT TV), saying they are all owned by Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Director-General Dmitry Kiselev, who is under EU sanctions. Notably, Rossiya Segodnya and RT are two different legal entities, RT is not chaired by Kiselev, and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan is not under any EU sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has slammed Latvia’s decision to ban seven RT channels as a disgraceful and illegal move.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said on Tuesday that the government was mulling the possibility to ban RT broadcasting in the country.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Baltic countries seek relevance on the international scene

By Lucas Leiroz | March 20, 2020

In 2017, RAND Corporation published in its associated media Small Wars Journal an article by the researchers Marta Kepe and Jan Osburg, outlining a strategic defense plan for the Baltic countries in the event of a Russian invasion. The authors claim that Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia will manage their weaknesses to face the Russians, overcoming their population and military deficit through the participation of civilians in the conflicts, working with the armed forces to create a “total defense” plan that would make the invasion too costly and laborious for Russia. Subsequently, the RAND Corporation article was mentioned in a paper by the National Interest magazine, authored by Michael Peck, in which the author studies the Baltic defense strategy, speculating about “total defense” and its efficiency in a possible case of Russian invasion. The researcher, finally, takes a pessimistic conclusion, stating that, despite all efforts, nothing will change the fact that Russia is a large country and the Baltic States are small and weak.

In March last year, the renowned American magazine Foreign Policy published an article by Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, claiming that Russia’s next “targets” would be European nations. In the text, Saakashvili considers the possibility of a Russian attack on the Baltic countries, saying that President Vladimir Putin sees them as real threats because they are “functional democracies on the Russian border”. After developing his reasoning, the author comes to the conclusion that this invasion will not occur, pointing other countries as future “targets” of Russia. However, even though Saakashvili does not believe in the possibility of a Russian invasion, rumors about a Russian plan to invade and annex the Baltic nations have generated unfounded tensions in the region.

The height of media alarmism regarding relations between Russia and the Baltic countries was, however, an article published by the American expert Hall Brands on Japan Times website, whose title is “How Russia could force a nuclear war in the Baltics”. Referring again to the studies of the RAND Corporation, the author considers the possibility of a nuclear escalation on the frictions between Moscow and NATO in the Baltics, concluding that the geographic condition of these states would hinder rapid action by the West in the event of Russian action, raising the risks of forced annexation.

Apparently, media agencies aligned with the liberal establishment are working together to spread the idea that there is a Russian interest in invading and annexing the Baltics. For these agencies, the interest is so great that it would even justify a nuclear action. However, when we investigate the reasons for such despair, we found no concrete argument to justify such speculations. The great Western think tanks, such as the RAND Corporation, are spreading this myth with the specific purpose of instilling fear and tension in the Baltic States, so that, in the face of “Russian terror”, they will increasingly align themselves with Washington and NATO.

The concrete data indicate exactly the opposite of the rumors spread by RAND analysts. In January last year, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas publicly expressed an interest in improving relations between his country and Russia, with a view to pacifying bilateral tensions and envisioning a future of peace and cooperation, despite divergent interests. Also, Latvia remains the only member country of the European Union that is totally dependent on Russian gas – a situation Lithuania has only recently withdrawn from. So why Moscow would be interested in invading and annexing such countries, when the threat they pose to the Russian political structure is absolutely nil? In a way, it is much more logical to think that for the Baltic countries it is more profitable and interesting to maintain good relations with Russia than to embark on unfounded conspiracies by Western experts who are extremely ideologically involved. However, there is a second hypothesis.

It is still likely that the Baltic States are simply acting in the interest of increasing their role on the international scene. Unable to form a solid political, military and economic force, even if united, capable of facing the great world powers, these States may be anchoring themselves in NATO’s military apparatus to seek the affirmation of their own interests in Europe and in the world. By this logic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia would be voluntarily adopting the alarmist discourse of the West and reaffirming it in order to, increase the western military presence on its borders, try to increase its regional and global influence, moving from being small European States to becoming potencies in the global geopolitical game.

Indeed, the Baltic countries are making a big mistake in adopting either of these two stances. Unlike Moscow, for whom the interest in “invading” the Baltic is nil, Washington has clear interests in occupying the region, so as to face Russia. That is the main reason for the presence of NATO troops in the Baltic expected for the Defender Europe 2020 drills – now canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Baltic States are adhering to the discourse of Western think tanks, however, under no perspective can this opposition to Russia be profitable for them. Following the interests of Washington, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have too much to lose.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Shameless Racism’: 13 Countries Change Long-Standing Position on Palestine at UN

Palestine Chronicle – December 5, 2019

For the first time, 13 countries changed their longstanding positions and voted against a pro-Palestine measure at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Brazil, and Colombia voted against the annual resolution regarding the “Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat”, according to the Times of Israel.

They had previously abstained on the vote.

The resolution, which includes a call to halt to illegal Israeli settlements being constructed in the occupied West Bank, still passed with a large majority voting in favor.

The Palestinian representative told the council: “If you protect Israel, it will destroy you all.” He also said Israel’s character as a Jewish state is “shameless racism”.

The New York-based Division for Palestinian Rights oversees the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Comoros, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The UK, France, and Spain abstained, as they do every year, allowing the resolution to pass with a vote of 87-54, with 21 other abstentions.

The General Assembly adopted five resolutions on the question of Palestine and the Middle East, including one calling on the Member States not to recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regards to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN Urges Full-Fledged Probe Into Allegations of Secret CIA Prison in Lithuania

Sputnik – 27.07.2018

In 2016, Lithuania told the European Court of Human Rights that the country wasn’t harboring a secret US Central Intelligence Agency prison where terrorist suspects were allegedly detained.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has urged Lithuanian authorities to fully investigate allegations that a secret CIA prison operated in the Baltic state.

“The UNHRC is concerned about the fact that the pre-trial investigation was not completed, no suspects were identified, and all information about the progress and results of this inquiry is classified,” the committee was cited by the Latvian news network Delfi as saying.

The UNHRC also called on Vilnius to investigate the possible complicity of government officials in human rights violations related to detainees’ treatment in the alleged secret CIA prison in Lithuania.

“The state must ensure that the perpetrators are convicted and if found guilty, punished with the appropriate sanctions; victims should be guaranteed access to effective legal protection,” the UNHRC pointed out.

In late June 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg held a public hearing in the lawsuit brought by Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah against Vilnius. Abu Zubaydah, who is accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, claimed that he was subjected to inhuman conditions and torture in a secret CIA prison in Lithuania.

The ECHR ruled that Lithuania should pay 130,000 euros to Abu Zubaydah, a decision that has yet to be appealed by Vilnius.

In November 2009, the Lithuanian parliamentary committee on National Security and Defense opened a probe into ABC News claims that Lithuania provided the US Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) with a building near the capital Vilnius to detain and possibly interrogate eight al-Qaeda members between 2004 and 2006.

The committee finally concluded that there were conditions for the existence of a secret CIA prison in Lithuania, adding that in 2005 and 2006 the CIA planes that landed in the country were not inspected by customs services.

The United States did not cooperate with the committee on the issue, which is why the question of whether al-Qaeda militants were ever transferred to Lithuania has yet to be clarified.

July 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Germany to help Baltic states establish Russian-language media

Press TV – February 28, 2017

Germany plans to help Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania establish Russian-language media outlets to counter the “disinformation” allegedly being spread by Russian channels broadcasting in the region.

The plan was announced by German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer, RT reported on Tuesday.

The announcement came ahead of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s trip to the Baltic states and Sweden, which is due to take place this week.

“During his trip, Mr. Gabriel will also employ what we already started last year in the Baltic states, which is — as we say in new German — handling Russian ‘fake news’ together with appropriate partners,” Schaefer said on Monday.

He added that the main goal of the initiative was to launch Russian-language radio and TV channels, which will be “attractive to Russian speakers living in the three Baltic states” in order to produce news “in a different way” from the Russian media.

The United States, too, recently announced plans to launch a Russian-language television news channel. The US has long accused Russian media of propagating “fake news.” Such allegations have also been leveled by European governments, which are concerned about alleged Russian attempts to influence their elections in much the same way as the US has said Moscow influenced its recent presidential vote.

Western ties with Russia have plummeted significantly in recent years, particularly following Crimea’s separation from Ukraine and reunification with the Russian Federation after a referendum not authorized by Kiev.

Military build-ups close to the Russian borders, including in the Baltic countries, have also been a major source of tension.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

4,000 NATO troops take part in Lithuania’s largest exercise near Russia’s border

RT | November 20, 2016

Eleven NATO countries have sent 4,000 troops to Lithuania, the largest Baltic nation, to participate in this year’s Iron Sword exercises. The war games are meant to test the country’s ability to rapidly deploy a large number of troops.

The exercise, which started on Sunday and is set to last till December 2, involves training at two separate sites in Lithuania.

“This time poses new unexpected challenges before our military. We have to prepare units and their commanders to efficiently respond to conventional military threats,” General Waldemar Rupšys, the head of Lithuania’s Land Forces, told journalists ahead of the exercise.

This year’s Iron Sword maneuver, which is the third and, by far, largest held so far, involves almost 4,000 troops from the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Luxemburg, and the three Baltic states. The exercises held in the last two years had 2,500 and just over 2,000 troops participating, respectively.

The troops will train to execute offensive and defensive operations, rapid deployments, and other tasks, Lithuania’s Defense Ministry said.

Iron Sword 2016 is Lithuania’s first chance to test its new Žemaitija (Iron Wolf) brigade, which was formed earlier this year. It currently has two battalions and support units, but is to add two more battalions next year. The brigade consists of soldiers conscripted after Lithuania reinstated mandatory military service in March of 2015.

NATO is placing additional military assets in Eastern Europe and conducting intensified training there, claiming that such measures are necessary to deter what it calls “Russian aggression.” However, Moscow denies threatening its neighbors and says the alliance is using the notion as a pretext to justify increased military spending and encroach on Russia’s border.

Lithuania, like some other European NATO members, is struggling to meet its obligation to spend two percent of its GDP on defense, but the government says it will be able to meet this benchmark by 2018.

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment