‘We Caved’: How Barack Obama’s Idealistic Rhetoric Collided With the Cold Realities of War and Dictatorship in the Middle East

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The persistent problem of how to deal with American-allied strongmen has long tripped up an inflexible president who boasts of his preference for ‘pragmatic solutions’ over moral purity but has been unable to find much of either in the Middle East.

Michael Crowley writes: On a late July day this past summer, a roar filled the sky over Cairo. It was the sound of Barack Obama’s capitulation to a dictator.

Eight new American fighter jets, freshly delivered from Washington, swooped low over the city, F-16s flying in formation. As they banked hard over the city’s center, they trailed plumes of red, white and black smoke—the colors of the Egyptian flag.

“The rhetoric got way ahead of the policymaking. It … raised expectations that everything was going to change.”

— Michael Posner, who served as Obama’s top State Department official for human rights and democracy in his first term

For Egypt’s brutally repressive president, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the spectacle was a triumph, symbolizing not only his militaristic power at home, but also his victory over an American president who had tried to punish him before surrendering to the cold realities of geopolitics.

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“He’s never quite melded his rhetoric with his policies.”

— Dennis Ross, who served as Obama’s top Middle East aide in his first term

Just two years earlier, Sisi had seized power in a military coup, toppling Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected successor to Hosni Mubarak, himself a strongman of 30 years pushed out in early 2011 by mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the summer of 2013, Sisi followed his coup with a brutal crackdown that would have done Saddam Hussein proud. His security forces arrested thousands of people, including much of his political opposition, and in one bloody day that summer, they gunned down some 1,000 pro-Morsi protesters (or more) who were staging peaceful sit-ins. The massacre was shocking even by the standards of Egypt’s long-dismal human rights record.

“It seems like we are swinging back to the idea that we must make a choice between supporting dictators or being safe.”

— Robert Ford, who was Obama’s ambassador to Syria before resigning in frustration over the president’s policy there

Obama was appalled. “We can’t return to business as usual,” he declared after the slaughter. “We have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and ideals.”

[Read the full text here, at POLITICO Magazine]

Several weeks later, Obama halted the planned delivery of U.S. military hardware to Cairo, including attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles and several F-16 fighter jets, as well as $260 million in cash transfers. He also cast doubt on the future of America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt—a subsidy on which Cairo depends heavily, and much more than the United States sends to any country in the world aside from Israel.

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But a fierce internal debate soon broke out over whether and how to sanction Egypt further, a fight that many officials told me was one of the most agonizing of the Obama administration’s seven years, as the president’s most powerful advisers spent months engaged in what one called “trench warfare” against each other. It was an excruciating test of how to balance American values with its cold-blooded security interests in an age of terrorism. Some of Obama’s top White House aides, including his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, and the celebrated human rights champion Samantha Power, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged the president to link further military aid to clear progress by Sisi on human rights and democracy. But Secretary of State John Kerry, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Hagel’s successor, Ash Carter, argued for restoring the aid. Trying to punish Sisi would have little effect on his behavior, they said, while alienating a bulwark against Islamic radicalism in an imploding Middle East. “Egypt was one of the most significant policy divides between the White House and the State Department and the Department of Defense,” says Matthew Spence, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy. Read the rest of this entry »


Mysterious ‘Space Balls’ Investigated

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The metal balls fell from the sky, scaring local residents.

Vietnam’s military is investigating the appearance of three mysterious metal balls — believed to be debris from space — which landed in the country’s remote north, a senior army official said Friday.

Two metal balls were discovered in northwestern Yen Bai province on January 2, army spokesman Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan told AFP.

Later a larger ball weighing some 45 kilograms (100 pounds) landed in a maize field in neighbouring Tuyen Quang province, he said.

“We are still identifying where they came from,” he said, adding the army had determined they did not contain explosives or hazardous material.

The metal balls fell from the sky, he said, scaring local residents.

“Before and after these objects were discovered, the Vietnamese army was not conducting any military activity in the region,” Tuan said.

 Witnesses told state-run media that they heard what sounded like thunder before the balls plunged to the earth.

Read the rest of this entry »


#BernieSanders2016 Wins Key Endorsement

BERNIE-STALIN


OH YES HE DID: Putin Raises Possibility of Using Nuclear Weapons Against Terrorists 

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But hopes they ‘will never need’ them

Serina Sandhu reports: Vladimir Putin has said he hopes nuclear warheads will not be needed to deal with terrorists, after Russia launched cruise missiles from its submarine at Syria.

“With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”

— Vladimir Putin

During a meeting in the Kremlin, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the President that Kalibr cruise missiles had been fired by the submerged Rostov-on-Don submarine from the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.

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He said TU-22 bombers also took part in the latest raids and that “significant damage” had been done to a munitions depot, a factory manufacturing mortar rounds and oil facilities. Two major targets in Raqqa, the defacto capital of Isis, had been hit, said Mr Shoigu.

President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads – but that he hoped they would never need them.

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He said: “With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”

President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads – but that he hoped they would never need them. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama pardons Turkey. Putin does not. #Thanksgiving

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 via Twitter 

 


[VIDEO] Russian SU-24 Jet Shot down by Turkish F-16 Warplanes Over Syria

A Russian jet has been shot down by Turkish warplanes this morning, near the border with Syria.

Russia’s defence ministry claims the aircraft at no point strayed into Turkish airspace, with authorities insisting it remained in Syria “at all times”, according to Interfax.

However, a Turkish military official told Reuters that the Nato member country’s F-16s had fired on the then-unidentified aircraft only after warning it was violating Turkey’s airspace.

“It was downed in line with Turkey’s rules of engagement after violating Ankara‘s airspace,” the wire reports. President Tayyip Erdogan has been briefed.

A statement issued by Turkish military added that the plane had been warned “10 times in five minutes” Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing’s Fear: Impotence in the Face of Terror

Islamic State’s slaying of Fan Jinghui, right, who was executed along with a Norwegian hostage, left, has put pressure on Beijing to step up protections for Chinese citizens abroad. Photo: Associated Press

Deaths, image of bloodied hostage speed up calls for Chinese intervention in world’s trouble spots.

Andrew Browne reports: A self-described drifter and thrill-seeker, Fan Jinghui didn’t fit the typical profile of Chinese victims of terrorism overseas.

“To an extraordinary degree, China’s international security policy in recent years has been driven by the political imperative to be seen doing everything it can to protect an estimated five million Chinese nationals living and working outside the country.”

Among the scores of Chinese expatriates who have met violent deaths in the past decade at the hands of extremists, most have been workers in state companies drilling for oil, operating mines or building highways, hospitals and other infrastructure in unstable parts of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

“In response to Mr. Fan’s execution, don’t expect Chinese fighter jets to join bombing runs against Islamic State; China lacks the ability to project force in that way, even if it wanted to. It has no overseas military bases, and shuns military alliances.”

But the recent execution of the itinerant Beijing resident by Islamic State, along with a Norwegian hostage, triggered a particularly bitter outpouring of online commentary in China. While France responded to the massacre in Paris by declaring it was at war with Islamic State, and U.S. and Russian jets pounded the group’s strongholds, critics noted that the Chinese government offered only angry rhetoric in response to the killing of Mr. Fan.

“Beyond that, what else can it do?” scoffed one Internet user.

Police escort a Chinese hostage in Bamako, Mali, where three Chinese rail executives were killed during a hotel siege.

Police escort a Chinese hostage in Bamako, Mali, where three Chinese rail executives were killed during a hotel siege. Photo: Panoramic/Zuma Press

“But it’s only a matter of time, say security analysts, before China sends in special forces to free hostages or rescue Chinese civilians trapped in a crisis.”

Any accusation of impotence abroad, when Chinese lives are at stake, stings Beijing’s leadership. Almost certainly, Mr. Fan’s brutal slaying, together with the deaths of three Chinese rail executives gunned down in the Mali hotel siege, is likely to accelerate a trend for Beijing to intervene in lawless areas of the globe to protect its own nationals and massive investments.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

President Xi Jinping vowed to strengthen collaboration with the world community “to resolutely fight violent terrorist activities that hurt innocent lives.” A foreign ministry spokesman said Monday, “In light of new circumstances, we will come up with new proposals to ensure the security of Chinese citizens and institutions overseas.”

To an extraordinary degree, China’s international security policy in recent years has been driven by the political imperative to be seen doing everything it can to protect an estimated five million Chinese nationals living and working outside the country.

That has eaten away at China’s long-standing policy of “noninterference” in the affairs of other countries. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Russia Confirms That Explosive Downed Plane over Sinai 

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‘We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act’

MOSCOW – The Kremlin said for the first time on Tuesday that a bomb had ripped apart a Russian passenger jet over Egypt last month and promised to hunt down those responsible and intensify its air strikes on Islamist militants in Syria in response.

“According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogram of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid air, which explains why parts of the fuselage were spread over such a large distance.” 

Until Tuesday, Russia had played down assertions from Western countries that the crash, in which 224 people were killed on Oct. 31, was a terrorist incident, saying it was important to let the official investigation run its course.

[Read the full text here, at Jerusalem Post]

But in a late night Kremlin meeting on Monday three days after Islamist gunmen and bombers killed 129 people in Paris, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB security service, told a meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin that traces of foreign-made explosive had been found on fragments of the downed plane and on passengers’ personal belongings.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

“We will search for them everywhere wherever they are hiding. We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them.”

— Vladimir Putin

“According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogram of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid air, which explains why parts of the fuselage were spread over such a large distance,” said Bortnikov. Read the rest of this entry »


Palace Intrigue: Putin’s Aide Mikhail Lesin Found Dead in Hotel ‘Murdered for Being an FBI informant’ – or ‘Could Even Still Be Alive’

Will Stewart reports: The death from a ‘heart attack’ of a longtime close ally of Vladimir Putin in a Washington hotel has led to a swirl of speculation that he was murdered on Moscow’s orders after offering to help the FBI.

“Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Lesin was one of the key props of the Putin presidency, personally masterminding a wide-ranging media crackdown which has left the vast majority of Russian TV stations and newspapers obedient to the Kremlin.”

Mikhail Lesin, 57, was announced last weekend to have been found dead in the US capital. He was a Svengali figure for Putin, who was alleged to have menaced the Russian media into idolizing the strongman president.

“He also set up Russia Today, now RT, seen by critics as a ‘propaganda’ channel aimed at the West.”

The shock death has created an eave of speculation in Moscow that it is related to previous reports that he was helping the FBI – and could be murder.

There are even separate allegations that Lesin may still be alive, with his demise faked by the US authorities.

[Read more here at Daily Mail Online]

According to this version, he is being kept safe as part of a witness protection scheme, while spilling to the FBI all he knows on Putin’s Russia.

Daily Mail Online can reveal that only weeks before his death was announced, he fathered a child with glamorous model and flight attendant Victoria Rakhimbayeva.

Murdered? Mikhail Lesin and his new love Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who were photographed when she was pregnant. He was found dead last Friday in a Washington DC hotel - and now speculation is mounting about him

Murdered? Mikhail Lesin and his new love Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who were photographed when she was pregnant. He was found dead last Friday in a Washington DC hotel – and now speculation is mounting about him

Claim: Lesin was reported by the TV station he set up - RT, known to be pro-Kremlin - to have died from a longstanding illness while staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured)

Claim: Lesin was reported by the TV station he set up – RT, known to be pro-Kremlin – to have died from a longstanding illness while staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured)

World traveler: Victoria Rakhimbayeva, believed to be 29, posted photographs from around the world and said that she and Lesin were planning to live in New York, although she preferred Los Angeles

World traveler: Victoria Rakhimbayeva, believed to be 29, posted photographs from around the world and said that she and Lesin were planning to live in New York, although she preferred Los Angeles

“There are unsubstantiated claims in Moscow that when he died he was in debt to billionaire Yury Kovalchuk, one of Putin’s closest big business friends.”

She is believed to be aged 29, with whom he had enjoyed a close relationship since at least mid-2014.

She has not commented on his death other than to thank friends on social media for their commiserations, but before the tragedy she made clear that they intended to set up home permanently in New York.

[Read the full story here at Daily Mail Online]

Despite Russian reports of a heart attack, police in DC have said no cause of death has been determined while also indicating there was no obvious sign of foul play.

‘A ruling on the cause and manner of death is pending further investigation,’ said a Saturday statement.

Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Lesin was one of the key props of the Putin presidency, personally masterminding a wide-ranging media crackdown which has left the vast majority of Russian TV stations and newspapers obedient to the Kremlin.

He also set up Russia Today, now RT, seen by critics as a ‘propaganda’ channel aimed at the West.

But earlier this year, after the break-up of his marriage, and in a new relationship with his Siberian lover who he may have wed – she referred to him as her ‘husband’ – he suddenly quit the latest of several high profile positions, as head of Gazprom Media, a major state owned media conglomerate. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Russia Today’ Co-Founder Mikhail Lesin Reportedly Found Dead In D.C. Hotel

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Russian President Vladimir Putin with former Mass Media Minister Mikhail Lesin in Vladivostok, Russia on August 24, 2002. ITAR-TASS / Reuters

WASHINGTON —  reports: A Russian media mogul who helped found the Kremlin-run news channel RT was found dead in his hotel in Washington, D.C., according to reports.

“The Embassy does not have any further comment on the demise of Mr. Lesin out of respect to his privacy. Please refer to the family members or the law enforcement officials.”

— Russian Embassy spokesperson Yury Melnik told BuzzFeed News.

Mikhail Lesin, who was formerly the top media affairs minister for the Russian government, died of a “heart stroke,” a family member reportedly told RIA Novosti.

“Our consular officials had an opportunity to confirm that the Russian national who passed away in DC is indeed Mikhail Lesin. Out of respect to the privacy and sensitivity of the matter we are not at liberty to disclose any other information, and would ask you to refer all further requests to his family and the law enforcement officials.”

— Russian embassy spokesperson, to Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Sean Hickman told BuzzFeed News that there had been a death Thursday on the 1500 block of New Hampshire Avenue, where the Dupont Circle Hotel is located. An ABC News article on Lesin’s death reported that the location had been the “Hotel Dupont,” though a hotel by that exact name doesn’t exist in Washington. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Officials Believe ISIS Planted Bomb on Russian Plane

(CNN) Barbara Starr reports: The latest U.S. intelligence suggests that the crash of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai over the weekend was most likely caused by a bomb on the plane planted by ISIS or an ISIS affiliate, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.

“There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane.”

But the official stressed a formal conclusion has not been reached by the U.S. intelligence community.

“There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane,” the official, who is familiar with the latest U.S. intelligence analysis of the crash, told CNN.

Other U.S. officials also told CNN that the analysis is pointing toward the cause being a bomb.

Based on the same intelligence, the U.S. belief is that ISIS or an ISIS-affiliated group is responsible for the attack, the official said….(read more)

Source: CNNPolitics.com


[VIDEO] President Obama Ranks Third in Forbes ‘Most Powerful’ List, First Time Sitting U.S. President Drops Out of Top Two

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 reports: President Obama ranked third in the Forbes “World’s Most Powerful People” list released Wednesday, the first time the sitting U.S. president has ever not ranked No. 1 or 2 in the annual survey.

For the third straight year, Russian president Vladimir Putin was listed at No. 1, but German chancellor Angela Merkel came in at No. 2. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King expressed surprise at Obama’s standing while the show’s panel interviewed Forbes‘ Luisa Kroll about how the magazine came up with its list.

“That’s the first time since we’ve been doing the list that any U.S. president falls out of the top two spots,” Kroll said. “Again, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that this is going to be hist last year in office. He’s a little bit more hamstrung, both domestically and internationally, and it’s just a nod to his decreasing power at this time.”

On Obama, Forbes wrote:

“There’s no doubt that the United States remains the world’s greatest economic, cultural, diplomatic, technological and military power. But as Obama enters the final year of his presidency, it’s clear his influence is shrinking, and it’s a bigger struggle than ever to get things done. At home, his approval ratings are perpetually stuck under 50%; abroad, he’s outshined by Angela Merkel in Europe, and outmaneuvered by Putin in the Middle East.”

“I was stunned by that, because the U.S. economy is five times larger than the Russian economy,” co-host Norah O’Donnell said. “We spend 10 times more on the military than the Russians do, so how do you define power for this issue?”

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“It’s money, it’s the use of power, it’s the spheres of influence, and it’s the number of people,” Kroll said. “Obviously, it’s also a subjective list … It’s not that we’re saying the U.S. isn’t powerful. It is definitely still the most powerful country.” Read the rest of this entry »


TIME Cover: ‘Moron of the Year’

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Source: 


‘External Influence’: Russian Plane Crash: ‘Planes Don’t Just Break Apart in Mid-Air’

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(CNN) The only reasonable explanation for the crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt is “an external influence,” an executive from the airline that operated the flight said Monday, stressing that planes don’t just break apart in midair.

“There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash. It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”

— Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel

Kogalymavia Flight 9268 broke into pieces before it hit the ground in a remote area of Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board. 

The executive was not specific about what he meant by an external influence. Experts say it is too early to know for certain what caused the plane to break up at the start of what could be a lengthy investigation.

The state-run Russian news agency Sputniknews.com reported that the head of Rosaviatsia, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, had told Rossiya-25 television that claims that external factors could have caused the crash were not based in fact.

“It is completely premature to speak about the reasons of this, as there are not grounds. And I’d like to call on the aviation community to refrain from any premature conclusions,” it quoted Alexander Neradko, the agency chief, as telling the station.

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CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest suggested that the Kogalymavia official could have meant something abnormal and out of the ordinary had occurred.

“We exclude technical problems and reject human error,” the Kogalymavia airline official, Alexander Smirnov, said at a Moscow news conference as he discussed possible causes of the crash.

He added that the crew did not issue any warnings or communications during the final moments, indicating that the flight crew must have been disabled and not able to radio out.

However, Smirnov said that while the plane’s flight and voice data recorders had been recovered, they had not been read or decoded.

Officials have played down an apparent claim by Islamic militants in Sinai that they brought down the Airbus A321-200, saying technical failure is the most likely reason for the crash.

Here’s where things stand:

THE FLIGHT

Flight 9268 was on its way from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg early Saturday when it dropped off radar about 23 minutes into the flight, Egyptian officials say.

Air traffic controllers apparently didn’t receive any distress calls from the pilots. “There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash,” Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamel said Saturday. “It suddenly disappeared from the radar.”

CNN’s Richard Quest said it was “unusual” for an aircraft to go down roughly 20 minutes into a flight.

“At this point, a plane is on autopilot. It’s reaching its initial cruising altitude, and there is little that can or should go wrong,” he wrote in an analysis.
Read the rest of this entry »


Tomorrow’s Sun Front Page

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Russian Warplanes Buzz USS Ronald Reagan, U.S. Launches 4 Fighter Jets in Response

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 F/A-18 Super Hornets Escort Russian planes Out.

Two Russian warplanes flew within one mile of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, forcing the U.S. Navy to launch four fighter jets in response Tuesday, a Navy spokesman told Fox News.

Two Russian warplanes flew within one mile of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, forcing the U.S. Navy to launch four fighter jets in response Tuesday, a Navy spokesman told Fox News.

The USS Reagan was sailing in international waters east of the Korean peninsulaStars and Stripes reports. It adds that the U.S. is currently engaged in joint military exercises with South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Politics, Ukraine Style: Just Days Ahead of Election, Mayoral Candidate Valeria Prokopenko’s Compromising Video Leaks

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Jed Smith reports: Valeria Prokopenko was a 21-year-old mayoral candidate in Odessa, Ukraine, an impressively ambitious young woman by any standard. She’s also in the spotlight for an unexpected reason.

video from her recent past has cropped up, just days before voters hit the polls—but did it hurt her chances, or help them?

The video, which the law school graduate said she made for a beauty contest known as ‘Miss Olymp,’ begins with Prokopenko rolling around her bed wearing gray leggings, and then follows her around the apartment as she dances, puts on makeup, poses in sultry positions, and shows off various “sexy” outfits.

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It’s being assumed now that an opponent leaked the video in order to damage Prokopenko’s campaign.

But apparently, since the leak, her popularity has skyrocketed….(read more)

Source: ijreview


‘New Cult of Stalin’: Soviet Nostalgia, Stalin Portraits in Ukraine’s Rebel Regions 

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The horrors of Stalin’s repressions and the deaths of up to five million Ukrainians in the 1930s due to famine caused by forced collectivisation go unmentioned.

Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) – Nicolas Miletitch reports: Three portraits of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin are on display in the centre of Donetsk, the rebel capital of eastern Ukraine, as the separatist authorities fuel a mood of Soviet nostalgia.

“The Soviet Union was a great country and it was a huge mistake that it was destroyed by the CIA and other secret services.”

The portraits, adorning a main square, seem to go down well with one young woman walking past.

“I think the portraits of Stalin are a good thing. It’s our history and a lot of people have forgotten he even existed,” said Yekaterina, a 22-year-old student.

The previously taboo display comes as the rebels revive Soviet customs to cement their Moscow-backed rule — while glossing over Stalin’s atrocities.

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“I think the portraits of Stalin are a good thing. It’s our history and a lot of people have forgotten he even existed.”

The Stalin portraits feature a quote from the wartime leader: “Our cause is just. The enemy will be routed. We will claim victory.”

The horrors of Stalin’s repressions and the deaths of up to five million Ukrainians in the 1930s due to famine caused by forced collectivisation go unmentioned.

The Donetsk rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko told AFP how he regretted the break-up of the Soviet Union.

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“Stalin portraits have become de rigueur in the offices of rebel officials in eastern Ukraine, where the separatist conflict has killed more than 8,000 people.”

“The Soviet Union was a great country and it was a huge mistake that it was destroyed by the CIA and other secret services,” said the 39-year-old former field commander who prefers to dress in camouflage gear.

“Europe and other countries were scared stiff of us.”

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New cult of Stalin 

Stalin portraits have become de rigueur in the offices of rebel officials in eastern Ukraine, where the separatist conflict has killed more than 8,000 people.

The Donetsk rebels’ deputy defence minister Eduard Basurin wears a badge with Stalin’s profile on his uniform.

This new cult of Stalin revives the memories in Donetsk, a coal-mining city that was formerly known as Stalino.

It was renamed in the early 1960s after Nikita Khrushchev, who emerged as Soviet leader in the power struggle that followed Stalin’s death, condemned his predecessor’s cult of personality. Read the rest of this entry »


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