Category Archives: Russian and Eurasia

Shut down, but not out: How can Russia Today triumph over NatWest?

“There is an imperialism that deserves all [honour] and respect — an imperialism of service in the discharge of great duties. But with too many it is the sense of domination and aggrandisement, the glorification of power. The price of peace is eternal vigilance”.

— Leonard H. Courtney, President of the British Statistical Society

The ongoing bickering between Russia’s RT news channel and Royal Bank of Scotland subsidy NatWest has polarised into polemics over freedom of speech on one end, and baseless drivel on the other.

Without explaining itself for weeks, then finally citing ’poor ratings’, NatWest officially severed ties with RT, leaving the channel’s employees and supporters reeling in confusion and anger.

“We only wish the UK government and its crony bank would grow a pair, and just admit that they are trying to shut down RT’s operations in the UK because the United States and VP Joe Biden gave then the order to do so,” The Duran’s Alex Christoforou exclaimed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed condemnation:

“Actions of this sort […] by the UK media regulator, OFCOM, are part of attempts to oust from the British media space an internationally popular broadcaster that offers an alternative point of view on global affairs”.

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RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan

It is certainly questionable that 4 billion viewers—over 65 times the UK population before triggering Article 50—qualifies as ‘poor ratings’ by OFCOM standards. Notwithstanding concerns of a post-Brexit economy, NatWest chose falling on its sword over keeping the British economy afloat.

This was evidenced by a wave of solidarity voiced by British citizens, businessmen, trade unions and fans of RT, prompting ridicule and even threats to close NatWest accounts.

“Dear #NatWest you should stick 2 #banking & not try 2dictate our politics. I’ve just closed my account in view of you blocking,” one commentator tweeted.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-ML) even initiated protests in front of NatWest and RBS branches across Birmingham and London, and released a full statement in response.

“The BBC and the corporate media are constantly attempting to prepare British people for a military confrontation with Russia, which would be catastrophic for British workers,” the organisation mentioned.

“We must not allow such blatant bias and propaganda to go unchallenged, [and] fight the interference of NatWest in the affairs of Russia Today which operates legally and fairly in Britain.”

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Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-ML) cadres protest in front of a Birmingham NatWest Branch [Photo: CPGB-ML]

A London CPGB-ML cadre highlighted during a RUPTLY interview:

“RT is a fantastic source of news that gives a different side of the story from most other media outlets. If you say that you have freedom of speech, democracy, and freedom of the press, it’s important to have a variety of sources […] We saw the same thing happen last year when we saw the Cooperative bank shut down the Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts.”

Continue reading Shut down, but not out: How can Russia Today triumph over NatWest?

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The Clash of the Titans—How Greece became the target of an epic energy struggle

By Haneul Na’avi

Greek-EU relations parallel the epic battle of Hesiod’s Theogony, in which Kronos (Saturn/ restriction) overthrows his father Uranus (innovation) to become ruler of the Cosmos, and then devours his five children save for Zeus (Jupiter/ expansion) to prevent their future uprising.

Similarly, the trade bloc has done the same by devouring Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, and Greece in order to cement dominion over Europe, using the global financial crisis as an impetus.

1. “[…] the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and […] swiftly lopped off his own father’s members…”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ struggle with the bureaucratic Cerberus known as the European Troika—the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—failed after he betrayed former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who sought radical fiscal options to rescue Greece’s economy.

Tsipras later signed the 2015 Supplemental Memorandum of Understanding, which claimed to “tackle tax evasion, fraud and strategic defaulters”, but in reality, shackles the country to another immovable €85 billion bailout and imposes a neoliberal, graduated privatisation scheme.

Unsurprisingly, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was the architect of Greece’s calamity, where in 2001 he feloniously hid Greece’s debts using complex credit default swaps in order to meet Eurozone requirements set by the Maastricht Treaty, but the spell did not last long.

“After the 9/11 attacks, bond yields plunged, resulting in a big loss for Greece because of the formula Goldman had used to compute the country’s debt repayments under the swap. By 2005, Greece owed almost double what it had put into the deal, pushing its off-the-books debt from 2.8 billion euros to 5.1 billion,” Salon reports.

“[…] as interest rates plunged and the swaps turned out to cost far more, Goldman and the other banks refused to let the municipalities refinance without paying hefty fees to terminate the deals.”

Since then, Hellenic ministers have desperately sought options to revitalise its economy whilst battling austerity, but even rational measures to save it have come under fire from Brussels.

In 2008, Greek ministers tried to bail out its national industry Hellenic Shipyards before selling it to a German enterprise, which was later declared an “illegal move under Brussels law”.

EU technocrats imposed “a six million euro upfront penalty on Greece’s cash-strapped government, to be followed by a daily levy of 34,974 euros,” the Express highlighted.

“[…] Greece will be required to pay 34,974 euros to Brussels every day until it has recouped all of the 250 million euros it used to bail out Hellenic Shipyards”.

The country continues to battles a Hydra of problems, and despite slow gains, very few options remain within the EU framework. Fortunately, it is not alone and there is still hope. Continue reading The Clash of the Titans—How Greece became the target of an epic energy struggle

Simferopol Under Siege—Revisiting the Crimean Referendum

By Haneul Na’avi

The 7 August skirmish on the Crimean peninsula has ratcheted tensions between Ukraine and Russia, calling into question Kyiv’s legitimacy and claims to the territory. Currently, both nations are on high alert as they boost their military defences following a terrorist plot sanctioned by the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF).

“[The] FSB received a warning from Armyansk locals, who had reported on some suspicious people in military uniforms in their town,” and “detected some 20 people in the area, who were loading explosives and weapons from their hideout. Once the suspects noticed the Russian security forces, they immediately opened fire, shooting to kill,” RT reports.

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FSB agents investigate terrorists in Crimea [PHOTO: The Duran]

Acting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s immediate, scripted reaction was to deny involvement. “Russian accusations that Ukraine has launched terror attacks in occupied Crimea are as cynical and insane as its claims that there are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. These fantasies have only one goal: a pretext for more military threats against Ukraine,” UNIAN reports.

Nevertheless, Poroshenko’s statements are at cross purposes with Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who chauvinistically asserted the opposite just months before.

“We have nothing. We need a new army, a new National Guard, a new police force. This is what the government of Ukraine is working on right now. We must restore all of this, and then, with enough will, Crimea will be ours,” Avakov mentioned. Continuing, he noted that “Kiev is currently training a separate special force within the Ukrainian National Guard,” Press TV stated.

These contradictions elucidate that Kyiv authorities are simply losing control of their defence forces. The UAF—a loose confederation of over 50 volunteer batallions—simply lack the skills and coordination to best the Russian FSB and infiltrate the Crimean peninsula.

This became evident on 8 Sept. 2014, during the onset of hostilities, after Amnesty International released a scathing report documenting the lawlessness of the Aidar Battalion and other Ukrainian paramilitary groups’, as they committed increasingly brutal human rights violations in the Russian-speaking Donbas region in a manner compared to Islamic State.

“Our findings indicate that, while formally operating under the command of the Ukrainian security forces combined headquarters in the region members of the Aidar battalion act with virtually no oversight or control, and local police are either unwilling or unable to address the abuses,” Amnesty International remarked.

Ironically, Marcin Mamon of The Intercept wrote a groundbreaking series of articles on how the Kyiv government began overlooking Ukrainian collaborations with Islamic State.

“Ostensibly state-sanctioned, but not necessarily state-controlled, some have been supported by Ukrainian oligarchs, and others by private citizens. Less talked about, however, is the Dudayev battalion, named after the first president of Chechnya, Dzhokhar Dudayev, and founded by Isa Munayev, a Chechen commander who fought in two wars against Russia,” Mamon highlighted.

Due to a long list of violations, Russian-Ukrainian relations remains in utter disarray and has come to a volatile showdown as the UAF advances southward to the Isthmus of Perekop, violating the Minsk agreements along with the self-determination of Crimean citizens.

Continue reading Simferopol Under Siege—Revisiting the Crimean Referendum