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Peter Hitchens - Thu Apr 22, 2021 09:35

I thought I would re-post this discussion of the recent history of Crimea, more than five years after I first wrote it. I have made some minor changes to the original, first published on February 21, 2015.

All right, I admit it, it’s not that brief. I didn’t have time to shorten it. But what follows is a condensed history of the argument about who should control Crimea, one which still rages and which (as usual) is not as simple as politicians like to claim it is.

I’ll begin with a question:

What do you reckon is the date of the following Reuters News Agency dispatch? I’ve slightly doctored one or two things in it, but only to conceal the date.

‘Elected officials in the Crimea voted on Monday to hold a referendum to resolve heated debates on the future status of the region.

‘A Moscow news agency said the regional council voted to issue a declaration restoring the Crimea's "statehood" and also to hold a vote to determine the future of the attractive peninsula on the shores of the Black Sea.

‘Moscow television suggested the referendum could take place early next February. It said the region, part of the Ukraine but with a large population of ethnic Russians and other groups, was sharply divided between maintaining its present status or rejoining the Russian Federation.’

Well, it was 12th November 1990, more than 30 years ago.  And it forms the opening page in a fascinating file compiled for me, entirely from Western sources,  by a friend and colleague in Moscow.

What it shows is that the issue of Crimea’s relations with Ukraine (and of the Donbass region around Donetsk) was a live and troublesome matter even before the break-up of the USSR at the end of 1991. And it also shows that at one stage the recently-established Ukrainian  government  in Kiev acted with considerable ruthlessness to prevent a referendum in Crimea on independence, a referendum which had been requested by 246,000 of the peninsula’s 2.5 million people. I’ll come to the details of this forgotten scandal later.

This is especially paradoxical, since Moscow did nothing to prevent Ukraine from declaring its own independence from the USSR, nor did it act to prevent the referendum which confirmed this. At the time, it seemed as if pretty much anyone could declare independence from Moscow. But nobody could declare independence from Ukraine. Or else.

One explanation of this was that Russia had, by and large, been liberated from Soviet rule by democrats, or would-be democrats. But in the non-Russian parts of the USSR, liberation tended to be accomplished by nationalists. Nationalists are out of fashion now and frowned on by the EU, especially. But at that time, before and since, in this part of the world, they served a useful purpose in dismantling the Russian empire, as long ago suggested by our old friend Herr Richard von Kuehlmann, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Foreign Secretary, in 1918. So you will find that Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Bosnian (but *not* Serb) nationalism, plus Latvan ,Lithuanian, Estonian, Georgian and Polish nationalism,  are viewed as 'nice' nationalisms, in the post-modern halls of Brussels, even though the the idea of nationalism itself  is generally despised. Like all anomalies, this draws attention to what is really going on, if you are thoughtful and onbservant enough to see it.

Russia, belatedly waking up to the danger of having nationalist bombs planted beneath its fromer Empire, has now turned nationalist itself, and that is very much not approved of. For Russian nationalism does not serve Kuehlmann’s prescient purpose, continued in modern times by his successors, in dismantling the old Russian empire and creating a new liberal empire of ‘limited sovereignty’ dominated instead by German interests. Thus, it is the *wrong* kind of nationalism. Whereas Ukrainian nationalism (though in fact it is if anything even more chauvinistic, virulent and intolerant than the Russian version) is the *right* kind. Which shows that it is its effect on the European map, not its innate characteristics which decide which nationalism is cool, and which despicable.

But back to the day before yesterday, by the sunny, rugged shores of Crimea.

The BBC Monitoring service , on 19th January 1991, picked up a report that the government of the Crimean Oblast (region) had scheduled a referendum on the legal status of Crimea, for the 20th of that month.

On 21st January, Dow Jones reported an overwhelming vote  (93% of an 80% turnout) for Crimean autonomy  - that is, separating the peninsula from the direct authority of Ukraine. This, of course was before Ukraine had declared its own independence. Russians in Crimea had long resented Krushchev’s 1954 transfer of their region to Ukraine from Russia.

But Ukrainian nationalists rightly realised this was a canny pre-emptive move, designed to prevent a new Ukrainian state seizing control of Crimea, and opening the way for a reunion with Russia.

The Ukrainian nationalist movement Rukh declared ( according to Reuters)

‘The referendum is an assault on the territorial integrity of the future Ukrainian state’.

In the following March, in a vote on Mikhail Gorbachev’s curious and murky ‘Union Treaty’ , a last attempt to hold the USSR together by consent instead of force,  87% of Crimean voters voted to stay in the Soviet Union and become independent.

This is outwardly puzzling, as the two seem contradictory. But there is an explanation. Presumably they believed a form of Crimean independence would be available within a loosened Union.  And they feared (with reason) the effects of Ukrainian independence on their lives.

Then came the failed KGB putsch in August 1991, which finally discredited the USSR and the Soviet Communist Party in the eyes of almost everybody, and spelt the end of both.

But very soon afterwards, on August 26th 1991,  a statement issued in the name of the then Russian president Boris Yeltsin warned that borders would have to be redrawn if Ukraine and other republics quit. It’s often said these days that, though the Soviet borders between Russia and Ukraine are quite unfitted for use as international frontiers, there was never any concern about this at the time of the split. The following news agency despatch shows that this is not true.

‘Russia warned neighbouring Soviet republics on Monday that it would not let them secede from the Soviet Union taking large Russian-inhabited areas with them.

A statement issued in Russian President Boris Yeltsin's name said the Russian Federation reserved the right to review its borders with any adjacent republic which left the Union.

His spokesman, Pavel Voshchanov, who signed the statement, told reporters at the Russian parliament this referred mainly to northern Kazakhstan and to the Donbass region and the Crimea in the Ukraine.’

The ‘Donbass Region’ is of course the area around Donetsk and Lugansk, now in flames.

Instantly, Ukraine’s President Leonid Kravchuk reacted. Reuters reported the following day ‘Kravchuk said on Tuesday Soviet republics were concerned by Russia's warning that it would not allow those with large Russian populations to secede.

"[The statement] sent reverberations through the republics...Territorial claims are very dangerous and could end in problems for the people," Kravchuk told a news conference in the capital Kiev.’

Within a day, Boris Yeltsin had backed down (I suspect that when the archives are opened, if they ever are, it will turn out that he did so under pressure from the USA, but what do I know?)

Reuters reported :

’PARIS, Aug 28, Reuter - Russian President Boris Yeltsin said on Wednesday Russia would respect the frontiers of republics that decided to sign the Union treaty.

"As for republics that stay in the (Soviet) Union, we will of course respect their frontiers, the Union treaty caters for frontiers to be respected," he said in an interview with French radio.

Yeltsin added that a joint Soviet-Russian delegation which flew to Kiev on Wednesday would tell Ukrainians that Russia would have no territorial claims on their republic if the Ukraine decided to stay in the Union.

The Ukraine's parliament declared independence from Moscow on Saturday subject to confirmation by a referendum in December.

The Soviet-Russian delegation's mission is to try to defuse Ukrainian alarm over Yeltsin's announcement on Monday that Russia reserved the right to contest borders with any republic that quit the Soviet Union.

His statement stirred historic suspicions of "Russian chauvinism" in the Ukraine, which contains two areas -- the Donbass and the Crimea -- populated mostly by Russians.

"Relations with Russia are becoming more and more complex as a result of Yeltsin's statement," an official in the Ukrainian administration earlier commented.

In the radio interview Yeltsin said questions of territory, frontiers, frontier security and diplomatic relations would all have to be settled by negotiation and "without shedding blood.

"When I speak of frontiers I am basing myself on laws and international treaties. If a state or republic leaves the union, then we will have to establish state-to-state relations by discussion around a table."

Soon afterwards, AP reported:

‘MOSCOW (AP) - The Soviet legislature, backing Mikhail Gorbachev's bid to stem the collapse of central authority, voted today to send a delegation to the Ukraine to discourage the breadbasket republic's secessionist drive.

The delegation also will discuss potential border disputes with the Russian republic, which has thrown a scare into some of its neighbors by saying it reserves the right to review its borders with them.

Gorbachev put his political future on the line yesterday, threatening to resign if the Soviet Union cannot somehow be preserved and indicating he would settle for a loose alliance of sovereign states.’

These efforts would be a complete failure. The break-up of what was left of the USSR was complete by the end of the year, and the old Stalin-Krushchev borders survived.

But shortly before the final collapse, Crimea’s local parliament tried to throw a spanner in the works. On November 23rd. AP reported :

’SIMFEROPOL, U.S.S.R. (AP) _ The Crimean parliament laid the groundwork for secession from the Ukraine when lawmakers approved a measure enabling the region to hold a referendum on its political future.

On Friday, lawmakers also sent a message to the Ukrainian parliament, asking it to continue to participate in Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's plan to hold the Soviet Union together as a loose federation.

The Crimea is an autonomous republic of 2.5 million people in an area that juts from the southern Ukraine in the Black Sea.

Its parliament, dominated by former Communist Party members, voted 153-3, with two abstentions, to hold a referendum to decide whether the Crimea should stay under Ukrainian jurisdiction, reunite with Russia or become independent. No date was set.

On March 17, voters in the Crimea gave 87.3 percent approval to Gorbachev's federation plan.

Ethnic Russians comprise 67 percent of the Crimea's population. Many of them worry that the Ukraine might try to exert more control on the region after the Ukraine's presidential election and referendum on independence, set for Dec. 1.

Crimean lawmaker Yuri Ryzhkov said he expected a referendum on Crimean secession within a month of the presidential election.’

On the 27th, Reuters reported:

‘SIMFEROPOL, Soviet Union, Nov 27, Reuter - Angry and frightened Russians in the Crimea are vowing resistance to the idea of their fertile sunny peninsula becoming part of an independent Ukraine.

"I don't want to find myself living in a foreign country," shouted 67-year-old war veteran Georgy Malyshev, one of hundreds of Russians who demonstrated here last week outside the Crimean parliament.

Inside the parliament, still dominated by the old communist elite, deputies failed narrowly to approve an appeal to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for the Crimea to be returned to Russia.

For nearly four decades, formal subordination to the Ukraine barely mattered as all vital decisions were taken in Moscow and official policy favoured Russian interests.

But now, with the Ukraine likely to opt for complete independence in a referendum on December 1, fears are growing that the Crimea could become a flashpoint of tension between Moscow and Kiev.

Anatoly Los, a Russian deputy to the Crimean parliament, said he expected the Crimea to vote "No" to Ukrainian independence in the referendum while the rest of the republic votes yes.’

On 1st December AFP (Agence France Presse) reported a low turnout in Donbass and Crimea (and other heavily Russian regions) in the Ukrainian independence referendum

‘The Kharkhov and Odessa regions reported turnout of 62 percent, while in the Crimea just under 59 percent of the voters went to the polls.

In Donetsk, turnout was put at over 67 percent, while the lowest participation in the election -- 51 percent -- was in Sebastopol, the officials said.’

In Western Ukraine turnout was 87.8%, in Kiev, 80%.

On the 6th January, the Wall Street Journal reported :

‘CRIMEA, Ukraine -- When empires start disintegrating, at what point do they stop? Ukraine has now firmly established itself as an independent state, but within Ukraine, there is the Crimea.

Home to 2.5 million people, with some 105 different nationalities living on its territory, Crimea, an autonomous republic located in the south of Ukraine, is like a miniature Soviet Union. It, too, is facing a shakeup.

While a surprising number of people here say they had never thought about the question of their own independence -- being an autonomous republic within a vast empire was enough -- they are now saying that with the Soviet machine having broken down, the Crimean people now want a shot at their sovereignty.

Only 52.6% of Crimeans voted in favor of the Ukrainian independence referendum that elsewhere passed overwhelmingly on Dec. 1. Many Crimeans would like to see their region affiliated with Russia…’

Later in the report, it noted:

‘Mr. Kravchuk made a fact-finding visit to the autonomous republic on Oct. 23-24 after reports of civil unrest here and to persuade local deputies to vote yes to an independent Ukraine….

‘In no uncertain terms, he told the legislators they were not ready for independence -- the Crimea had neither a constitution nor other important laws in place that would guarantee success as a separate nation. Mr. Kravchuk drew applause, however, when he promised that under an independent Ukraine, the Crimea would maintain its current autonomous status, including a guarantee that all languages and cultures on that territory would be respected.

‘In a later press conference, Mr. Kravchuk said, "Ukraine will not be cut up into pieces. No one is going to look at all the painful points . . . with a red pencil. We won't sit at a table to cut up the territory. That would be the beginning of the end."

‘He noted Ukraine was ready to work with the Crimean parliament and people to build one unified country -- Ukraine.

"Today we want to create a nation. The majority of the Crimean people understand the only way to live is with Ukraine," he stressed.’

Round about this point, a movement began to collect signatures demanding a referendum on Crimean independence, a legal entitlement under Ukrainian law.

In the background, tension was growing between Moscow and Kiev about the future of the Russian naval facilities in Sevastopol.  The Russian Parliament, after the referendum crisis was over, even voted symbolically to rescind Krushchev’s transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Plainly this had no practical effect at the time.  As Boris Yeltsin had discovered when he briefly sought border revision, Russia was too weak to reincorporate what it regarded as Russian parts of Ukraine.  But it staked an implied claim.

In February 1992, worried by the threat of an independence referendum, Kiev offered more autonomy to Crimea. By then, the independence campaigners, plainly with Russian backing, had already gathered 50,000 signatures.

On 21st February, BBC Monitoring gave this account of a Kiev press conference given by President Leonid Kravchuk

‘Is the president of Ukraine going to hamper the collection of signatures and the holding of the referendum on the new status of Crimea? The answer to this question has clearly defined the attitude to processes which are taking place in Crimea and the possible solution of the Crimean issue.

[Kravchuk] If people are collecting signatures in order to determine their political situation in their region, I do not see anything unusual in it. Whether or not it is necessary to do that at present is another thing, in my opinion, since the referendum has already taken place and this peninsula has expressed its attitude both during the referendum on 1st December and during the other referendum [all-union referendum] and in a great number of resolutions of the supreme soviet of the Crimean republic - well, that is another matter.

But the president will not be able to ban or cancel this referendum.

We can only pin our hopes on common sense, and the existing legal foundations and legal norms along with the Constitution of Ukraine and the paragraph concerning the Crimean republic which was made part of the constitution. This is the situation here. I somehow think that the supreme soviet of Crimea must show its attitude to this even if those signatures are collected - the Supreme Soviet must give its assessment of them and I would like it to be the Supreme Soviet of Crimea.’

Four days later, AP was reporting that the independence movement had collected enough signatures to trigger a vote:

‘Crimea has ancient Greek ruins, Tatar castles, a stunning Black Sea coast, an important navy base and an angry majority of Russians who want independence from Ukraine.

‘Russians have gathered nearly 250,000 signatures, enough to force a referendum on Crimea's status. Such a vote would likely increase friction between Ukraine and Russia.

"Ukrainians are nationalists," said Alexander Tsitov, a Russian who works in a cooperative in Simferopol, the capital. "They want to introduce their language, and that is no good for us. They want us to be their colony.

"There is a danger the tension here could be transformed into armed conflict."’

Later President Kravchuk warned that bloodshed was possible if the Crimea went ahead with the referendum, placing established frontiers in question.

On the 5th May,  things were speeding up, as AFP reported:

‘SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, May 5 (AFP) - The parliament of Crimea Tuesday voted for secession from Ukraine, subject to confirmation by a referendum to be held soon.

The regional assembly of the Black Sea peninsula approved the independence bid by a large majority and offered to enter into immediate negotiations with Ukraine on a future bilateral agreement with the republic, local sources reported.’

Reuters elaborated:

‘SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, May 5, Reuter - The Crimean peninsula passed a declaration of independence from Ukraine on Tuesday, a move likely to inflame relations between Kiev and Moscow.

Deputies in the Crimean parliament in Simferopol stood and applauded loudly after passing an "Act of Independence" by 118 votes to 28. The decision must be confirmed by a referendum.

Several thousand people standing outside the rambling, modernistic building in the sunshine waved banners and cheered as the decision was announced over loudspeakers.

The act stated: "In view of the threat posed to Crimean statehood...and expressingcrime great alarm about worsening relations between Russia and Ukraine, the parliament of the Crimea declares the creation of a sovereign state, the Republic of Crimea."

Parliamentary leader Nikolai Bagrov told reporters: "The Crimea is a republic and should have its own statehood."

The declaration will infuriate Ukraine, which considers the Black Sea peninsula part of its territory. The referendum is likely to take place on August 2.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has said that any referendum on Crimean independence could lead to bloodshed.’

Events now became bizarre, and readers will have to form their own conclusions as to how an entire regional assembly can totally change its mind on a central issue in the course of one day. Severe outside pressure seems to me to be one possible explanation.

For on the 6th May, we see this despatch:

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, May 6, Reuter - The Crimean parliament on Wednesday appeared to reverse the previous day's declaration of independence by changing its constitution to say the peninsula formed part of Ukraine.

"The republic of Crimea is part of the state of Ukraine and determines its own relations with Ukraine on the basis of treaties and agreements," the amendment said.

It was passed by a big majority.

The Crimean parliament had on Tuesday declared the Republic of Crimea a sovereign state. Independence was to be confirmed in a referendum, likely to be held on August 2.

Tuesday's vote was a reaction to a Ukrainian parliamentary resolution giving the Crimea a measure of independence which the local parliament said fell short of its demands.

But Wednesday's apparent reversal of the independence vote may be an attempt to find a face-saving compromise which will give deputies more say in running their own affairs but which will not trigger a complete break with Kiev.’

Perhaps a clue to  the explanation can be found in these words of President Kravchuk, on a visit to Washington DC at the time :

‘"But I would have to say that the voting in the parliament of Crimea is not the last instance," he said during a ceremony marking the opening of Ukraine's embassy in the United States.

"We can say one thing for sure that what has been voted in the parliament of Crimea is against the constitution of Ukraine," Kravchuk added.

On May 8th Reuters reported :

‘KIEV, May 8, Reuter - A campaign by the Crimean peninsula to break away from Ukraine could plunge the region into a conflict similar to that in Northern Ireland, a top aide to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has said.

Alexander Yemets, Kravchuk's top adviser on legal issues, also said in an interview on Thursday that Ukraine would never give up the peninsula, populated mainly by ethnic Russians but given to Ukraine as a "gift" by Russia in 1954.

Speaking a week before a summit of leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States, he accused prominent Russian leaders of stirring up confrontation in the run-up to Tuesday's declaration of independence by the Crimean parliament.

"The problem is difficult and complex and could take on a violent character," Yemets told Reuters in his office, once part of the headquarters of the now-banned Communist Party.

"If we cannot solve this through political dialogue, the situation will resemble that of Northern Ireland in terms of the violence involved. That is, partisan-like actions by different groups pursuing different aims, violent confrontation," he said.’

On 13th May, we learned from AFP:

‘The Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday declared unconstitutional a recent declaration of independence by the Crimean peninsula, where the former Soviet Union's huge Black Sea fleet is based.

The parliament called on the local authorities in the peninsula, which was ceded to Ukraine by Russia in 1954, to "return to legality" by rescinding the declaration of independence they issued on May 6.

The Crimean authorities have said they will organise a referendum on independence on August 2.

And on 14th May, the London Times reported : ‘Ukraine's parliament yesterday moved to bury the Crimea's growing Russian separatist movement by issuing a five-point plan over-riding the peninsula's independence vote and threatening direct presidential rule.

In a rare show of strength by the Kiev parliament, deputies voted by an overwhelming margin to declare last week's actions by the Crimea's supreme soviet unconstitutional, and banned the Black Sea peninsula's government from holding an independence referendum this summer.

On 30th June, we learned from Reuters;

‘KIEV, June 30, Reuter - Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday granted the Crimean peninsula wide-ranging autonomy, allowing it to determine its own foreign economic relations and social and cultural policies.

The power-sharing arrangements were detailed in amendments to a new law aimed at satisfying the territory's aspirations for self-rule while keeping it under Kiev's jurisdiction.

And on the 9th July 1992, Reuters said:

MOSCOW, July 9, Reuter - The Crimean parliament voted on Thursday to suspend plans for a referendum on independence from Ukraine, local journalists in the regional capital Simferopol said.

The decision, approved by 106 of the 137 deputies attending parliament, will help remove a possible source of conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The referendum had originally been scheduled for August 2.’

But it hadn’t really gone away. In summer 1993, BBC monitoring noted:

’A regular congress of the Crimean Electors' Movement [Ukrainian: Rukh Vybortsiv Krymu] was held today [29th May] under the slogan "Away with independence! Give us a referendum!". The movement is made up of adherents of joining the peninsula to Russia. Several resolutions were adopted at the congress, and on the situation in the Black Sea Fleet too. Those present called on the presidents of Ukraine and Russia to hold their meeting on problems of the Black Sea Fleet only in Sevastopol, and to adopt at the meeting an unequivocal decision - on the impossibility of dividing the fleet, and on preserving Sevastopol's status of Russian Federation naval base. In the event that this demand is not fulfilled, says the resolution, the participants of the movement reserve the right, following the sailors's example, to hang Russian flags on their buildings.

‘A decision on setting up a civic committee to safeguard the referendum on Crimea's state status was adopted. The movement intends to organize a warning strike of work collectives on 2nd August in support of this referendum...’

I assembled this account because I had not seen a proper explanation of the history of the Crimean independence issue. I think it helps to explain the origin of the dispute. I also think it once again raises the curious and ever-fascinating question of title in international affairs.

Who really owns which piece of land? On what is his claim based? Why are some units permitted to declare independence from large countries, and others not? And if there is no consistent legal or moral answer to any of these questions, what lessons should we learn from that?

Source: The Daily Mail

I thought I would re-post this discussion of the recent history of Crimea, more than five years after I first wrote it. I have made some minor changes to the original, first published on February 21, 2015.

All right, I admit it, it’s not that brief. I didn’t have time to shorten it. But what follows is a condensed history of the argument about who should control Crimea, one which still rages and which (as usual) is not as simple as politicians like to claim it is.

I’ll begin with a question:

What do you reckon is the date of the following Reuters News Agency dispatch? I’ve slightly doctored one or two things in it, but only to conceal the date.

‘Elected officials in the Crimea voted on Monday to hold a referendum to resolve heated debates on the future status of the region.

‘A Moscow news agency said the regional council voted to issue a declaration restoring the Crimea's "statehood" and also to hold a vote to determine the future of the attractive peninsula on the shores of the Black Sea.

‘Moscow television suggested the referendum could take place early next February. It said the region, part of the Ukraine but with a large population of ethnic Russians and other groups, was sharply divided between maintaining its present status or rejoining the Russian Federation.’

Well, it was 12th November 1990, more than 30 years ago.  And it forms the opening page in a fascinating file compiled for me, entirely from Western sources,  by a friend and colleague in Moscow.

What it shows is that the issue of Crimea’s relations with Ukraine (and of the Donbass region around Donetsk) was a live and troublesome matter even before the break-up of the USSR at the end of 1991. And it also shows that at one stage the recently-established Ukrainian  government  in Kiev acted with considerable ruthlessness to prevent a referendum in Crimea on independence, a referendum which had been requested by 246,000 of the peninsula’s 2.5 million people. I’ll come to the details of this forgotten scandal later.

This is especially paradoxical, since Moscow did nothing to prevent Ukraine from declaring its own independence from the USSR, nor did it act to prevent the referendum which confirmed this. At the time, it seemed as if pretty much anyone could declare independence from Moscow. But nobody could declare independence from Ukraine. Or else.

One explanation of this was that Russia had, by and large, been liberated from Soviet rule by democrats, or would-be democrats. But in the non-Russian parts of the USSR, liberation tended to be accomplished by nationalists. Nationalists are out of fashion now and frowned on by the EU, especially. But at that time, before and since, in this part of the world, they served a useful purpose in dismantling the Russian empire, as long ago suggested by our old friend Herr Richard von Kuehlmann, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Foreign Secretary, in 1918. So you will find that Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Bosnian (but *not* Serb) nationalism, plus Latvan ,Lithuanian, Estonian, Georgian and Polish nationalism,  are viewed as 'nice' nationalisms, in the post-modern halls of Brussels, even though the the idea of nationalism itself  is generally despised. Like all anomalies, this draws attention to what is really going on, if you are thoughtful and onbservant enough to see it.

Russia, belatedly waking up to the danger of having nationalist bombs planted beneath its fromer Empire, has now turned nationalist itself, and that is very much not approved of. For Russian nationalism does not serve Kuehlmann’s prescient purpose, continued in modern times by his successors, in dismantling the old Russian empire and creating a new liberal empire of ‘limited sovereignty’ dominated instead by German interests. Thus, it is the *wrong* kind of nationalism. Whereas Ukrainian nationalism (though in fact it is if anything even more chauvinistic, virulent and intolerant than the Russian version) is the *right* kind. Which shows that it is its effect on the European map, not its innate characteristics which decide which nationalism is cool, and which despicable.

But back to the day before yesterday, by the sunny, rugged shores of Crimea.

The BBC Monitoring service , on 19th January 1991, picked up a report that the government of the Crimean Oblast (region) had scheduled a referendum on the legal status of Crimea, for the 20th of that month.

On 21st January, Dow Jones reported an overwhelming vote  (93% of an 80% turnout) for Crimean autonomy  - that is, separating the peninsula from the direct authority of Ukraine. This, of course was before Ukraine had declared its own independence. Russians in Crimea had long resented Krushchev’s 1954 transfer of their region to Ukraine from Russia.

But Ukrainian nationalists rightly realised this was a canny pre-emptive move, designed to prevent a new Ukrainian state seizing control of Crimea, and opening the way for a reunion with Russia.

The Ukrainian nationalist movement Rukh declared ( according to Reuters)

‘The referendum is an assault on the territorial integrity of the future Ukrainian state’.

In the following March, in a vote on Mikhail Gorbachev’s curious and murky ‘Union Treaty’ , a last attempt to hold the USSR together by consent instead of force,  87% of Crimean voters voted to stay in the Soviet Union and become independent.

This is outwardly puzzling, as the two seem contradictory. But there is an explanation. Presumably they believed a form of Crimean independence would be available within a loosened Union.  And they feared (with reason) the effects of Ukrainian independence on their lives.

Then came the failed KGB putsch in August 1991, which finally discredited the USSR and the Soviet Communist Party in the eyes of almost everybody, and spelt the end of both.

But very soon afterwards, on August 26th 1991,  a statement issued in the name of the then Russian president Boris Yeltsin warned that borders would have to be redrawn if Ukraine and other republics quit. It’s often said these days that, though the Soviet borders between Russia and Ukraine are quite unfitted for use as international frontiers, there was never any concern about this at the time of the split. The following news agency despatch shows that this is not true.

‘Russia warned neighbouring Soviet republics on Monday that it would not let them secede from the Soviet Union taking large Russian-inhabited areas with them.

A statement issued in Russian President Boris Yeltsin's name said the Russian Federation reserved the right to review its borders with any adjacent republic which left the Union.

His spokesman, Pavel Voshchanov, who signed the statement, told reporters at the Russian parliament this referred mainly to northern Kazakhstan and to the Donbass region and the Crimea in the Ukraine.’

The ‘Donbass Region’ is of course the area around Donetsk and Lugansk, now in flames.

Instantly, Ukraine’s President Leonid Kravchuk reacted. Reuters reported the following day ‘Kravchuk said on Tuesday Soviet republics were concerned by Russia's warning that it would not allow those with large Russian populations to secede.

"[The statement] sent reverberations through the republics...Territorial claims are very dangerous and could end in problems for the people," Kravchuk told a news conference in the capital Kiev.’

Within a day, Boris Yeltsin had backed down (I suspect that when the archives are opened, if they ever are, it will turn out that he did so under pressure from the USA, but what do I know?)

Reuters reported :

’PARIS, Aug 28, Reuter - Russian President Boris Yeltsin said on Wednesday Russia would respect the frontiers of republics that decided to sign the Union treaty.

"As for republics that stay in the (Soviet) Union, we will of course respect their frontiers, the Union treaty caters for frontiers to be respected," he said in an interview with French radio.

Yeltsin added that a joint Soviet-Russian delegation which flew to Kiev on Wednesday would tell Ukrainians that Russia would have no territorial claims on their republic if the Ukraine decided to stay in the Union.

The Ukraine's parliament declared independence from Moscow on Saturday subject to confirmation by a referendum in December.

The Soviet-Russian delegation's mission is to try to defuse Ukrainian alarm over Yeltsin's announcement on Monday that Russia reserved the right to contest borders with any republic that quit the Soviet Union.

His statement stirred historic suspicions of "Russian chauvinism" in the Ukraine, which contains two areas -- the Donbass and the Crimea -- populated mostly by Russians.

"Relations with Russia are becoming more and more complex as a result of Yeltsin's statement," an official in the Ukrainian administration earlier commented.

In the radio interview Yeltsin said questions of territory, frontiers, frontier security and diplomatic relations would all have to be settled by negotiation and "without shedding blood.

"When I speak of frontiers I am basing myself on laws and international treaties. If a state or republic leaves the union, then we will have to establish state-to-state relations by discussion around a table."

Soon afterwards, AP reported:

‘MOSCOW (AP) - The Soviet legislature, backing Mikhail Gorbachev's bid to stem the collapse of central authority, voted today to send a delegation to the Ukraine to discourage the breadbasket republic's secessionist drive.

The delegation also will discuss potential border disputes with the Russian republic, which has thrown a scare into some of its neighbors by saying it reserves the right to review its borders with them.

Gorbachev put his political future on the line yesterday, threatening to resign if the Soviet Union cannot somehow be preserved and indicating he would settle for a loose alliance of sovereign states.’

These efforts would be a complete failure. The break-up of what was left of the USSR was complete by the end of the year, and the old Stalin-Krushchev borders survived.

But shortly before the final collapse, Crimea’s local parliament tried to throw a spanner in the works. On November 23rd. AP reported :

’SIMFEROPOL, U.S.S.R. (AP) _ The Crimean parliament laid the groundwork for secession from the Ukraine when lawmakers approved a measure enabling the region to hold a referendum on its political future.

On Friday, lawmakers also sent a message to the Ukrainian parliament, asking it to continue to participate in Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's plan to hold the Soviet Union together as a loose federation.

The Crimea is an autonomous republic of 2.5 million people in an area that juts from the southern Ukraine in the Black Sea.

Its parliament, dominated by former Communist Party members, voted 153-3, with two abstentions, to hold a referendum to decide whether the Crimea should stay under Ukrainian jurisdiction, reunite with Russia or become independent. No date was set.

On March 17, voters in the Crimea gave 87.3 percent approval to Gorbachev's federation plan.

Ethnic Russians comprise 67 percent of the Crimea's population. Many of them worry that the Ukraine might try to exert more control on the region after the Ukraine's presidential election and referendum on independence, set for Dec. 1.

Crimean lawmaker Yuri Ryzhkov said he expected a referendum on Crimean secession within a month of the presidential election.’

On the 27th, Reuters reported:

‘SIMFEROPOL, Soviet Union, Nov 27, Reuter - Angry and frightened Russians in the Crimea are vowing resistance to the idea of their fertile sunny peninsula becoming part of an independent Ukraine.

"I don't want to find myself living in a foreign country," shouted 67-year-old war veteran Georgy Malyshev, one of hundreds of Russians who demonstrated here last week outside the Crimean parliament.

Inside the parliament, still dominated by the old communist elite, deputies failed narrowly to approve an appeal to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for the Crimea to be returned to Russia.

For nearly four decades, formal subordination to the Ukraine barely mattered as all vital decisions were taken in Moscow and official policy favoured Russian interests.

But now, with the Ukraine likely to opt for complete independence in a referendum on December 1, fears are growing that the Crimea could become a flashpoint of tension between Moscow and Kiev.

Anatoly Los, a Russian deputy to the Crimean parliament, said he expected the Crimea to vote "No" to Ukrainian independence in the referendum while the rest of the republic votes yes.’

On 1st December AFP (Agence France Presse) reported a low turnout in Donbass and Crimea (and other heavily Russian regions) in the Ukrainian independence referendum

‘The Kharkhov and Odessa regions reported turnout of 62 percent, while in the Crimea just under 59 percent of the voters went to the polls.

In Donetsk, turnout was put at over 67 percent, while the lowest participation in the election -- 51 percent -- was in Sebastopol, the officials said.’

In Western Ukraine turnout was 87.8%, in Kiev, 80%.

On the 6th January, the Wall Street Journal reported :

‘CRIMEA, Ukraine -- When empires start disintegrating, at what point do they stop? Ukraine has now firmly established itself as an independent state, but within Ukraine, there is the Crimea.

Home to 2.5 million people, with some 105 different nationalities living on its territory, Crimea, an autonomous republic located in the south of Ukraine, is like a miniature Soviet Union. It, too, is facing a shakeup.

While a surprising number of people here say they had never thought about the question of their own independence -- being an autonomous republic within a vast empire was enough -- they are now saying that with the Soviet machine having broken down, the Crimean people now want a shot at their sovereignty.

Only 52.6% of Crimeans voted in favor of the Ukrainian independence referendum that elsewhere passed overwhelmingly on Dec. 1. Many Crimeans would like to see their region affiliated with Russia…’

Later in the report, it noted:

‘Mr. Kravchuk made a fact-finding visit to the autonomous republic on Oct. 23-24 after reports of civil unrest here and to persuade local deputies to vote yes to an independent Ukraine….

‘In no uncertain terms, he told the legislators they were not ready for independence -- the Crimea had neither a constitution nor other important laws in place that would guarantee success as a separate nation. Mr. Kravchuk drew applause, however, when he promised that under an independent Ukraine, the Crimea would maintain its current autonomous status, including a guarantee that all languages and cultures on that territory would be respected.

‘In a later press conference, Mr. Kravchuk said, "Ukraine will not be cut up into pieces. No one is going to look at all the painful points . . . with a red pencil. We won't sit at a table to cut up the territory. That would be the beginning of the end."

‘He noted Ukraine was ready to work with the Crimean parliament and people to build one unified country -- Ukraine.

"Today we want to create a nation. The majority of the Crimean people understand the only way to live is with Ukraine," he stressed.’

Round about this point, a movement began to collect signatures demanding a referendum on Crimean independence, a legal entitlement under Ukrainian law.

In the background, tension was growing between Moscow and Kiev about the future of the Russian naval facilities in Sevastopol.  The Russian Parliament, after the referendum crisis was over, even voted symbolically to rescind Krushchev’s transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Plainly this had no practical effect at the time.  As Boris Yeltsin had discovered when he briefly sought border revision, Russia was too weak to reincorporate what it regarded as Russian parts of Ukraine.  But it staked an implied claim.

In February 1992, worried by the threat of an independence referendum, Kiev offered more autonomy to Crimea. By then, the independence campaigners, plainly with Russian backing, had already gathered 50,000 signatures.

On 21st February, BBC Monitoring gave this account of a Kiev press conference given by President Leonid Kravchuk

‘Is the president of Ukraine going to hamper the collection of signatures and the holding of the referendum on the new status of Crimea? The answer to this question has clearly defined the attitude to processes which are taking place in Crimea and the possible solution of the Crimean issue.

[Kravchuk] If people are collecting signatures in order to determine their political situation in their region, I do not see anything unusual in it. Whether or not it is necessary to do that at present is another thing, in my opinion, since the referendum has already taken place and this peninsula has expressed its attitude both during the referendum on 1st December and during the other referendum [all-union referendum] and in a great number of resolutions of the supreme soviet of the Crimean republic - well, that is another matter.

But the president will not be able to ban or cancel this referendum.

We can only pin our hopes on common sense, and the existing legal foundations and legal norms along with the Constitution of Ukraine and the paragraph concerning the Crimean republic which was made part of the constitution. This is the situation here. I somehow think that the supreme soviet of Crimea must show its attitude to this even if those signatures are collected - the Supreme Soviet must give its assessment of them and I would like it to be the Supreme Soviet of Crimea.’

Four days later, AP was reporting that the independence movement had collected enough signatures to trigger a vote:

‘Crimea has ancient Greek ruins, Tatar castles, a stunning Black Sea coast, an important navy base and an angry majority of Russians who want independence from Ukraine.

‘Russians have gathered nearly 250,000 signatures, enough to force a referendum on Crimea's status. Such a vote would likely increase friction between Ukraine and Russia.

"Ukrainians are nationalists," said Alexander Tsitov, a Russian who works in a cooperative in Simferopol, the capital. "They want to introduce their language, and that is no good for us. They want us to be their colony.

"There is a danger the tension here could be transformed into armed conflict."’

Later President Kravchuk warned that bloodshed was possible if the Crimea went ahead with the referendum, placing established frontiers in question.

On the 5th May,  things were speeding up, as AFP reported:

‘SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, May 5 (AFP) - The parliament of Crimea Tuesday voted for secession from Ukraine, subject to confirmation by a referendum to be held soon.

The regional assembly of the Black Sea peninsula approved the independence bid by a large majority and offered to enter into immediate negotiations with Ukraine on a future bilateral agreement with the republic, local sources reported.’

Reuters elaborated:

‘SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, May 5, Reuter - The Crimean peninsula passed a declaration of independence from Ukraine on Tuesday, a move likely to inflame relations between Kiev and Moscow.

Deputies in the Crimean parliament in Simferopol stood and applauded loudly after passing an "Act of Independence" by 118 votes to 28. The decision must be confirmed by a referendum.

Several thousand people standing outside the rambling, modernistic building in the sunshine waved banners and cheered as the decision was announced over loudspeakers.

The act stated: "In view of the threat posed to Crimean statehood...and expressingcrime great alarm about worsening relations between Russia and Ukraine, the parliament of the Crimea declares the creation of a sovereign state, the Republic of Crimea."

Parliamentary leader Nikolai Bagrov told reporters: "The Crimea is a republic and should have its own statehood."

The declaration will infuriate Ukraine, which considers the Black Sea peninsula part of its territory. The referendum is likely to take place on August 2.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has said that any referendum on Crimean independence could lead to bloodshed.’

Events now became bizarre, and readers will have to form their own conclusions as to how an entire regional assembly can totally change its mind on a central issue in the course of one day. Severe outside pressure seems to me to be one possible explanation.

For on the 6th May, we see this despatch:

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, May 6, Reuter - The Crimean parliament on Wednesday appeared to reverse the previous day's declaration of independence by changing its constitution to say the peninsula formed part of Ukraine.

"The republic of Crimea is part of the state of Ukraine and determines its own relations with Ukraine on the basis of treaties and agreements," the amendment said.

It was passed by a big majority.

The Crimean parliament had on Tuesday declared the Republic of Crimea a sovereign state. Independence was to be confirmed in a referendum, likely to be held on August 2.

Tuesday's vote was a reaction to a Ukrainian parliamentary resolution giving the Crimea a measure of independence which the local parliament said fell short of its demands.

But Wednesday's apparent reversal of the independence vote may be an attempt to find a face-saving compromise which will give deputies more say in running their own affairs but which will not trigger a complete break with Kiev.’

Perhaps a clue to  the explanation can be found in these words of President Kravchuk, on a visit to Washington DC at the time :

‘"But I would have to say that the voting in the parliament of Crimea is not the last instance," he said during a ceremony marking the opening of Ukraine's embassy in the United States.

"We can say one thing for sure that what has been voted in the parliament of Crimea is against the constitution of Ukraine," Kravchuk added.

On May 8th Reuters reported :

‘KIEV, May 8, Reuter - A campaign by the Crimean peninsula to break away from Ukraine could plunge the region into a conflict similar to that in Northern Ireland, a top aide to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has said.

Alexander Yemets, Kravchuk's top adviser on legal issues, also said in an interview on Thursday that Ukraine would never give up the peninsula, populated mainly by ethnic Russians but given to Ukraine as a "gift" by Russia in 1954.

Speaking a week before a summit of leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States, he accused prominent Russian leaders of stirring up confrontation in the run-up to Tuesday's declaration of independence by the Crimean parliament.

"The problem is difficult and complex and could take on a violent character," Yemets told Reuters in his office, once part of the headquarters of the now-banned Communist Party.

"If we cannot solve this through political dialogue, the situation will resemble that of Northern Ireland in terms of the violence involved. That is, partisan-like actions by different groups pursuing different aims, violent confrontation," he said.’

On 13th May, we learned from AFP:

‘The Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday declared unconstitutional a recent declaration of independence by the Crimean peninsula, where the former Soviet Union's huge Black Sea fleet is based.

The parliament called on the local authorities in the peninsula, which was ceded to Ukraine by Russia in 1954, to "return to legality" by rescinding the declaration of independence they issued on May 6.

The Crimean authorities have said they will organise a referendum on independence on August 2.

And on 14th May, the London Times reported : ‘Ukraine's parliament yesterday moved to bury the Crimea's growing Russian separatist movement by issuing a five-point plan over-riding the peninsula's independence vote and threatening direct presidential rule.

In a rare show of strength by the Kiev parliament, deputies voted by an overwhelming margin to declare last week's actions by the Crimea's supreme soviet unconstitutional, and banned the Black Sea peninsula's government from holding an independence referendum this summer.

On 30th June, we learned from Reuters;

‘KIEV, June 30, Reuter - Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday granted the Crimean peninsula wide-ranging autonomy, allowing it to determine its own foreign economic relations and social and cultural policies.

The power-sharing arrangements were detailed in amendments to a new law aimed at satisfying the territory's aspirations for self-rule while keeping it under Kiev's jurisdiction.

And on the 9th July 1992, Reuters said:

MOSCOW, July 9, Reuter - The Crimean parliament voted on Thursday to suspend plans for a referendum on independence from Ukraine, local journalists in the regional capital Simferopol said.

The decision, approved by 106 of the 137 deputies attending parliament, will help remove a possible source of conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The referendum had originally been scheduled for August 2.’

But it hadn’t really gone away. In summer 1993, BBC monitoring noted:

’A regular congress of the Crimean Electors' Movement [Ukrainian: Rukh Vybortsiv Krymu] was held today [29th May] under the slogan "Away with independence! Give us a referendum!". The movement is made up of adherents of joining the peninsula to Russia. Several resolutions were adopted at the congress, and on the situation in the Black Sea Fleet too. Those present called on the presidents of Ukraine and Russia to hold their meeting on problems of the Black Sea Fleet only in Sevastopol, and to adopt at the meeting an unequivocal decision - on the impossibility of dividing the fleet, and on preserving Sevastopol's status of Russian Federation naval base. In the event that this demand is not fulfilled, says the resolution, the participants of the movement reserve the right, following the sailors's example, to hang Russian flags on their buildings.

‘A decision on setting up a civic committee to safeguard the referendum on Crimea's state status was adopted. The movement intends to organize a warning strike of work collectives on 2nd August in support of this referendum...’

I assembled this account because I had not seen a proper explanation of the history of the Crimean independence issue. I think it helps to explain the origin of the dispute. I also think it once again raises the curious and ever-fascinating question of title in international affairs.

Who really owns which piece of land? On what is his claim based? Why are some units permitted to declare independence from large countries, and others not? And if there is no consistent legal or moral answer to any of these questions, what lessons should we learn from that?

Source: The Daily Mail

Jordan Schachtel - Thu Apr 22, 2021 07:40

For decades, Anthony Fauci was an unrecognizable government bureaucrat to anyone who lived outside of the D.C. Beltway. He would pop up out of obscurity and into the conversation every few years in the event of a niche issue involving infectious diseases. That all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, which elevated the once-irrelevant mandarin to stardom. Today, he is a media mainstay. The celebrity doctor, who has become best known for his routine peddling of quackery related to the coronavirus, has developed a cult following thanks to his consistent political activism and regular appearances across a plethora of media platforms.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — where Fauci has held the top post for 38 years — now accommodates their celebrity doctor by maintaining a dedicated list of his media appearances. Scroll through the “Fauci In The News” tab on the NIAID website and you will find page after page of Dr. Fauci’s seemingly endless schedule of media hits. By my count, he has accumulated well over 300 media appearances over the past year alone. On Sunday, Fauci got a high dose of his television fix, racking up 4 separate TV appearances on ABC, CNN, CBS, and NBC.

The partial list, which was last updated on April 19, shows that Fauci has collected 309 media appearances over the past year alone. By comparison, in 2019, Fauci about 1 media appearance per week. Additionally, the “Fauci In The News” list does not account for many of Fauci’s appearances on random celebrity YouTube channels, podcast hits, radio interviews, livestreamed conferences and the like, which easily send his average media hits over the past year to well over one appearance per day.

When Anthony Fauci isn’t in front of a camera, he’s said to be on the front lines battling the pandemic as the nation’s “foremost infectious diseases expert,” a label that is somehow justified by his track record of being a government bureaucrat for half a century. However, other than working his way up the ranks of a government bureaucracy, and using crafty political maneuvers to build his personal status in Washington, D.C. and around the world, it’s unclear what exactly Fauci has accomplished to deserve this label.

With all of that time in front of a camera, it might make some wonder if the celebrity bureaucrat has time to actually follow the latest data and statistics on the pandemic. Given his routine blunders, his lack of transparency, and his advocacy for continued shut downs (there are now over 50 published scientific studies that show lockdowns don’t work), it’s safe to say that the NIAID director is either ignorant and clueless and/or purposely advocating for measures that do not work to “stop the spread.”

Good news doesn’t control people, which is why Fauci has become exclusively known as the bearer of bad news. Good news is not particularly good for ratings, nor is it good for the prospects of another exclusive appearance with Brian Stelter or Chuck Todd. He prefers to keep viewers afraid, malleable, and on edge. In media hit after media hit, Fauci predictably reminds viewers that there is supposedly an active or imminent crisis in the works. Without a perpetual crisis to shine a light on, the cameras may turn in another direction. Fauci, a seasoned operative, wants the show to continue. When the virus wasn’t scary enough, surely, the “double mutant” virus would keep people compliant. When people started accommodating the COVID vaccine, Fauci pulled the rug out from under them and openly speculated about the possibility of “variants” avoiding the vaccine, thereby making you “vulnerable” once more.

Fauci is having the best year of his life. It has become clear that he desperately wants the show to continue, even if that means demanding that tens of millions of people suffer by conforming to his pseudoscience-based edicts.The TV doctor sure knows how to drive ratings, with the hopes that this is just Season One of his long running hit pandemic series.

Source: The Dossier

For decades, Anthony Fauci was an unrecognizable government bureaucrat to anyone who lived outside of the D.C. Beltway. He would pop up out of obscurity and into the conversation every few years in the event of a niche issue involving infectious diseases. That all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, which elevated the once-irrelevant mandarin to stardom. Today, he is a media mainstay. The celebrity doctor, who has become best known for his routine peddling of quackery related to the coronavirus, has developed a cult following thanks to his consistent political activism and regular appearances across a plethora of media platforms.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — where Fauci has held the top post for 38 years — now accommodates their celebrity doctor by maintaining a dedicated list of his media appearances. Scroll through the “Fauci In The News” tab on the NIAID website and you will find page after page of Dr. Fauci’s seemingly endless schedule of media hits. By my count, he has accumulated well over 300 media appearances over the past year alone. On Sunday, Fauci got a high dose of his television fix, racking up 4 separate TV appearances on ABC, CNN, CBS, and NBC.

The partial list, which was last updated on April 19, shows that Fauci has collected 309 media appearances over the past year alone. By comparison, in 2019, Fauci about 1 media appearance per week. Additionally, the “Fauci In The News” list does not account for many of Fauci’s appearances on random celebrity YouTube channels, podcast hits, radio interviews, livestreamed conferences and the like, which easily send his average media hits over the past year to well over one appearance per day.

When Anthony Fauci isn’t in front of a camera, he’s said to be on the front lines battling the pandemic as the nation’s “foremost infectious diseases expert,” a label that is somehow justified by his track record of being a government bureaucrat for half a century. However, other than working his way up the ranks of a government bureaucracy, and using crafty political maneuvers to build his personal status in Washington, D.C. and around the world, it’s unclear what exactly Fauci has accomplished to deserve this label.

With all of that time in front of a camera, it might make some wonder if the celebrity bureaucrat has time to actually follow the latest data and statistics on the pandemic. Given his routine blunders, his lack of transparency, and his advocacy for continued shut downs (there are now over 50 published scientific studies that show lockdowns don’t work), it’s safe to say that the NIAID director is either ignorant and clueless and/or purposely advocating for measures that do not work to “stop the spread.”

Good news doesn’t control people, which is why Fauci has become exclusively known as the bearer of bad news. Good news is not particularly good for ratings, nor is it good for the prospects of another exclusive appearance with Brian Stelter or Chuck Todd. He prefers to keep viewers afraid, malleable, and on edge. In media hit after media hit, Fauci predictably reminds viewers that there is supposedly an active or imminent crisis in the works. Without a perpetual crisis to shine a light on, the cameras may turn in another direction. Fauci, a seasoned operative, wants the show to continue. When the virus wasn’t scary enough, surely, the “double mutant” virus would keep people compliant. When people started accommodating the COVID vaccine, Fauci pulled the rug out from under them and openly speculated about the possibility of “variants” avoiding the vaccine, thereby making you “vulnerable” once more.

Fauci is having the best year of his life. It has become clear that he desperately wants the show to continue, even if that means demanding that tens of millions of people suffer by conforming to his pseudoscience-based edicts.The TV doctor sure knows how to drive ratings, with the hopes that this is just Season One of his long running hit pandemic series.

Source: The Dossier

Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Wed Apr 21, 2021 14:20

Since use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was put on hold on 11th March, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has considered further use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Norway, together with other experts. 

"We now know significantly more about the association between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare but severe incidents with low platelet counts, blood clots and haemorrhagesthan when Norway decided to pause use of the AstraZeneca-vaccine in March," says Geir BukholmDirector of the Division of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

"Based on this knowledge, we come with a recommendation to remove the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Coronavirus Immunisation Programme in Norway," says Bukholm. 

Bukholm points out that this has not been an easy recommendation to makeIt has a direct consequence for when the risk groups can receive a coronavirus vaccine, with subsequent protection, while also having an impact on when it will be possible to lift infection control measures. 

Higher risk associated with AstraZeneca vaccine than from COVID-19 disease in Norway 

Having come a long way in vaccinating the oldest citizens, Norway has reduced the risk of death for many of those most at risk. Since most of the elderly have either been vaccinated, or soon will be, this means that continued use of the vaccine would mainly be among the under-65 years age group if we were to use this vaccine in Norway.   

Calculations have been performed based on Norwegian data where the risk of dying from COVID-19 disease among the different age groups is compared with the risk of dying from the severe, but rare, condition with severe blood clots observed after AstraZeneca vaccination. 

"Since there are few people who die from COVID-19 in Norway, the risk of dying after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine would be higher than the risk of dying from the disease, particularly for younger people," says Bukholm. 

In addition, there is reason to assume that there is scepticism about using the AstraZeneca vaccine in Norway, and it is uncertain how many people would have accepted an offer of this vaccine now. 

For those who have had the first dose 

People who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered another coronavirus vaccine for their second dose. 

"We will come back with more specific information about when and how people who have had their first dose will get their second doseOne dose gives good protection against COVID-19 for at least 12 weeks," says Bukholm. 

Postponed rollout of Johnson vaccine 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on 9th April that they have begun signal management for the COVID-19 Vaccine Johnson to investigate whether there is an association between the vaccine and several reported cases of severe blood clots among vaccinated people. Johnson has announced a pause in deliveries to Europe after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDAand Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCrecommended a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson vaccine, following reports of several cases of severe blood clots after vaccination in the USA.

"Use of the Johnson vaccine in Norway has been put on hold until more information becomes available from ongoing investigations," explains Bukholm. 

Consequences for vaccination progress 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health estimates that removing the AstraZeneca vaccine from the immunisation programme would incur a delay of approximately two weeks.  

Not using the Johnson vaccine would delay the immunisation programme by up to 7 weeks for some age groups 

Currently, there are under 200 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 24 000 doses of the Johnson vaccine in storage in Norway. The doses are being stored in accordance to regulations until it is decided how these shall be used.  

Source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health


Norway's health authority has recommended AstraZeneca be withdrawn from its Covid-19 vaccination program, but the country's government has delayed a final decision until May.  

The government has said it believes more information is needed before making a final decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine, after the Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommended it be withdrawn from the national vaccination programme.A final decision will be given on May 10th, Health Minister Bent Høie said at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

“The government believes we do not yet have a good enough basis for drawing final conclusions,” Høie said.

“We must assess the consequences for the health of the entire population if we have to live with restrictions for longer than other countries in Europe”, he added.

Use of AstraZeneca has been on hold in Norway since March 11th due to suspected serious side effects including blood clots and low platelet counts.

The government said it was setting up an expert committee to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment on the vaccine. The committee will submit its report ahead of the decision in May .

The risk assessment will look at both AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has delayed its European rollout due to reported blood clots.

“We set up this committee because we want to know more about the consequences for the population and society before we make a decision,” Høie said.

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are based on the same vaccine technology. As such, a decision by to withdraw AstraZeneca in May could also be significant for Johnson & Johnson’s single use Janssen vaccine.

“If we now say no to AstraZeneca, it could have consequences for the opportunity to use Johnson & Johnson,” Høie said.

Norway has ordered over a million doses of the Janssen vaccine.

The vaccination program in Norway could face delays of up to seven weeks if both serums are dropped according to head of the NIPH, Camilla Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg also said the recommendation to recommend withdrawing the vaccine was one of the hardest decisions the authority has made during the pandemic.

So far, five patients under the age of 50 have been admitted to Oslo University Hospital (OUS) with severe blood clots after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine. Three of them have died.

Experts at the hospital have said the blood clots were triggered by a strong immune response linked to the Anglo-Swedish manufacturers serum.

The European Medicines Agency last week came to the conclusion that the unusual blood clots suffered by numerous people around Europe should be considered as rare side effects of the vaccine.

The EMA added that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

On Wednesday Denmark became the first country in the world to scrap the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Source: The Local

Since use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was put on hold on 11th March, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has considered further use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Norway, together with other experts. 

"We now know significantly more about the association between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the rare but severe incidents with low platelet counts, blood clots and haemorrhagesthan when Norway decided to pause use of the AstraZeneca-vaccine in March," says Geir BukholmDirector of the Division of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

"Based on this knowledge, we come with a recommendation to remove the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Coronavirus Immunisation Programme in Norway," says Bukholm. 

Bukholm points out that this has not been an easy recommendation to makeIt has a direct consequence for when the risk groups can receive a coronavirus vaccine, with subsequent protection, while also having an impact on when it will be possible to lift infection control measures. 

Higher risk associated with AstraZeneca vaccine than from COVID-19 disease in Norway 

Having come a long way in vaccinating the oldest citizens, Norway has reduced the risk of death for many of those most at risk. Since most of the elderly have either been vaccinated, or soon will be, this means that continued use of the vaccine would mainly be among the under-65 years age group if we were to use this vaccine in Norway.   

Calculations have been performed based on Norwegian data where the risk of dying from COVID-19 disease among the different age groups is compared with the risk of dying from the severe, but rare, condition with severe blood clots observed after AstraZeneca vaccination. 

"Since there are few people who die from COVID-19 in Norway, the risk of dying after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine would be higher than the risk of dying from the disease, particularly for younger people," says Bukholm. 

In addition, there is reason to assume that there is scepticism about using the AstraZeneca vaccine in Norway, and it is uncertain how many people would have accepted an offer of this vaccine now. 

For those who have had the first dose 

People who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered another coronavirus vaccine for their second dose. 

"We will come back with more specific information about when and how people who have had their first dose will get their second doseOne dose gives good protection against COVID-19 for at least 12 weeks," says Bukholm. 

Postponed rollout of Johnson vaccine 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on 9th April that they have begun signal management for the COVID-19 Vaccine Johnson to investigate whether there is an association between the vaccine and several reported cases of severe blood clots among vaccinated people. Johnson has announced a pause in deliveries to Europe after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDAand Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCrecommended a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson vaccine, following reports of several cases of severe blood clots after vaccination in the USA.

"Use of the Johnson vaccine in Norway has been put on hold until more information becomes available from ongoing investigations," explains Bukholm. 

Consequences for vaccination progress 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health estimates that removing the AstraZeneca vaccine from the immunisation programme would incur a delay of approximately two weeks.  

Not using the Johnson vaccine would delay the immunisation programme by up to 7 weeks for some age groups 

Currently, there are under 200 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 24 000 doses of the Johnson vaccine in storage in Norway. The doses are being stored in accordance to regulations until it is decided how these shall be used.  

Source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health


Norway's health authority has recommended AstraZeneca be withdrawn from its Covid-19 vaccination program, but the country's government has delayed a final decision until May.  

The government has said it believes more information is needed before making a final decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine, after the Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommended it be withdrawn from the national vaccination programme.A final decision will be given on May 10th, Health Minister Bent Høie said at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

“The government believes we do not yet have a good enough basis for drawing final conclusions,” Høie said.

“We must assess the consequences for the health of the entire population if we have to live with restrictions for longer than other countries in Europe”, he added.

Use of AstraZeneca has been on hold in Norway since March 11th due to suspected serious side effects including blood clots and low platelet counts.

The government said it was setting up an expert committee to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment on the vaccine. The committee will submit its report ahead of the decision in May .

The risk assessment will look at both AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has delayed its European rollout due to reported blood clots.

“We set up this committee because we want to know more about the consequences for the population and society before we make a decision,” Høie said.

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are based on the same vaccine technology. As such, a decision by to withdraw AstraZeneca in May could also be significant for Johnson & Johnson’s single use Janssen vaccine.

“If we now say no to AstraZeneca, it could have consequences for the opportunity to use Johnson & Johnson,” Høie said.

Norway has ordered over a million doses of the Janssen vaccine.

The vaccination program in Norway could face delays of up to seven weeks if both serums are dropped according to head of the NIPH, Camilla Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg also said the recommendation to recommend withdrawing the vaccine was one of the hardest decisions the authority has made during the pandemic.

So far, five patients under the age of 50 have been admitted to Oslo University Hospital (OUS) with severe blood clots after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine. Three of them have died.

Experts at the hospital have said the blood clots were triggered by a strong immune response linked to the Anglo-Swedish manufacturers serum.

The European Medicines Agency last week came to the conclusion that the unusual blood clots suffered by numerous people around Europe should be considered as rare side effects of the vaccine.

The EMA added that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

On Wednesday Denmark became the first country in the world to scrap the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Source: The Local

Insomniac Resurrected - Wed Apr 21, 2021 13:10

"Russia Brings Warmth and Light"

Those were the words uttered by the Czech parliamentarian, Lubomír Volný. And they are eerily similar to those that I uttered while I was still trolling Twitter.

The construction is not hard to make when you think that a large part of the electricity in this country is generated by Russian TVEL (nuclear fuel) and the water in homes, middle class and wealthier ones at least, are heated by gas from Russia.

The Czech Republic is in midsts of a hysteria regarding the possible Russian involvement in the construction of new blocks at the nuclear plant Dukovany. The issue is acute, since the nuclear power plants in the country are aging.

Several years ago, the government wanted to construct several new blocks in Temelín, the younger of the two power plants in the country. I do not know what happened to the plans because I was in the UK back then. My information is, there was a media hysteria which buried the initiative.

Currently, the Russian bid for Dukovany is further endangered by a fanciful conspiracy theory about Petrov and Boshirov blowing up a munition storage. Hence the Dukovany project may go the way of the dodo, I mean Temelín.

The US administration has been already heard that they do not wish to see the Russians building nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic. Serval years ago, the Americans tried to push their version of TVEL on the Czechs but due to technical problems, the Czechs went back to using Russian nuclear fuel.

It seems we have another case of Murica trying to cuck the economies of Eastern Europe.

I really hope the government will find an alternative to Rosatom and the nuclear plants in this country will eventually be built but I am afraid they will not. The Russians have the appropriate technology suited for Dukovany and Temelín. It is not clear the Americans can come up with something similar and for the same price. The rest of the Western bidders are even less hopeful. The Koreans seem good but they are a half World away.

What I think will actually happen is that the current government will chicken out of any plans for nuclear plants and come autumn, they will lose the elections due to people being fed up with the COVID measures. The people that will replace them will not be keen on building anything.

It is funny that the liberal democratic system that replaced communism will prove incapable of building nuclear power plants. Mind you, both nuclear power plants in the country were initiated by the communists. Eventually, I believe, the Czechs will have to close their nuclear plants and their coal plants too. What will be left, will be energy imports from neighboring nations.

The Americans are working hard to expel Russia from this region but other countries may also have an interest in keeping the Czech Republic from generating energy because in the end, they will become the suppliers. It would be really funny if Germany became the supplier of electricity and gas in the Czech Republic. Gas from Russia, and electricity generated by German gas plants running on Russian gas.

It is very unfortunate but I fear Mr. Volný will probably not grace the next parliament. He was kicked out of his home party some months ago, and the Czechs vote for parties not personalities. I voted for Mr. Volný in the European national elections.

Source: Insomniac Resurrected

"Russia Brings Warmth and Light"

Those were the words uttered by the Czech parliamentarian, Lubomír Volný. And they are eerily similar to those that I uttered while I was still trolling Twitter.

The construction is not hard to make when you think that a large part of the electricity in this country is generated by Russian TVEL (nuclear fuel) and the water in homes, middle class and wealthier ones at least, are heated by gas from Russia.

The Czech Republic is in midsts of a hysteria regarding the possible Russian involvement in the construction of new blocks at the nuclear plant Dukovany. The issue is acute, since the nuclear power plants in the country are aging.

Several years ago, the government wanted to construct several new blocks in Temelín, the younger of the two power plants in the country. I do not know what happened to the plans because I was in the UK back then. My information is, there was a media hysteria which buried the initiative.

Currently, the Russian bid for Dukovany is further endangered by a fanciful conspiracy theory about Petrov and Boshirov blowing up a munition storage. Hence the Dukovany project may go the way of the dodo, I mean Temelín.

The US administration has been already heard that they do not wish to see the Russians building nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic. Serval years ago, the Americans tried to push their version of TVEL on the Czechs but due to technical problems, the Czechs went back to using Russian nuclear fuel.

It seems we have another case of Murica trying to cuck the economies of Eastern Europe.

I really hope the government will find an alternative to Rosatom and the nuclear plants in this country will eventually be built but I am afraid they will not. The Russians have the appropriate technology suited for Dukovany and Temelín. It is not clear the Americans can come up with something similar and for the same price. The rest of the Western bidders are even less hopeful. The Koreans seem good but they are a half World away.

What I think will actually happen is that the current government will chicken out of any plans for nuclear plants and come autumn, they will lose the elections due to people being fed up with the COVID measures. The people that will replace them will not be keen on building anything.

It is funny that the liberal democratic system that replaced communism will prove incapable of building nuclear power plants. Mind you, both nuclear power plants in the country were initiated by the communists. Eventually, I believe, the Czechs will have to close their nuclear plants and their coal plants too. What will be left, will be energy imports from neighboring nations.

The Americans are working hard to expel Russia from this region but other countries may also have an interest in keeping the Czech Republic from generating energy because in the end, they will become the suppliers. It would be really funny if Germany became the supplier of electricity and gas in the Czech Republic. Gas from Russia, and electricity generated by German gas plants running on Russian gas.

It is very unfortunate but I fear Mr. Volný will probably not grace the next parliament. He was kicked out of his home party some months ago, and the Czechs vote for parties not personalities. I voted for Mr. Volný in the European national elections.

Source: Insomniac Resurrected

Spiked - Wed Apr 21, 2021 12:20

Keir Starmer was kicked out of a pub in Bath yesterday. The landlord ejected him after confronting him about his failure to challenge lockdown. Video footage of the events has gone viral. spiked caught up with the landlord, Rod Humphris, to find out what happened.

spiked: Why did you feel the need to confront Keir Starmer?

Rod Humphris: I didn’t even really know he was coming until very shortly before he arrived. But the reason I wanted to confront him was that, as someone who is centre-left, I have been bitterly disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has not stood up for the young, the old, the poor and the vulnerable during the pandemic. These are the people who have been hurt by lockdown. Labour, if it has any value, should be speaking up for them. Starmer simply hasn’t. He has not been willing to challenge the narrative. Many elderly people have died of Covid instead of dying of something else. That doesn’t mean their deaths don’t matter. But my point is that the deaths from cancer, poverty and alcoholism matter too.

spiked: What did Starmer say to you in response?

Humphris: He said that he didn’t need a lecture from me. And I think he mentioned that his wife was on the front line, which I thought was patronising. We all have skin in this game. I’m not saying it hasn’t been hell in hospitals at times. That’s not my point. My point is that the other things matter, too.

spiked: What happened next? You appeared to be manhandled by Starmer’s security.

Humphris: Starmer went into the pub for whatever reason, possibly to get away from me. And I wasn’t happy with that. So I went in after him to eject him. One of the security guards manhandled me and took me to one side, and Starmer left. But getting manhandled is trivial compared to the issue of lockdown. That’s what I care about.

spiked: Starmer said after the interview that he wasn’t sure you believe there is a pandemic. What do you say to that?

Humphris: All I did was offer him data and request the issues it raised get talked about – and that the whole thing gets seen in context. I’m not suggesting that there hasn’t been a pandemic. I’m not suggesting that Covid doesn’t exist, or that it’s not serious. It’s just that our reaction to Covid has been out of proportion.

spiked: As somebody who runs a pub, how difficult has the last year been?

Humphris: It has been unpleasant. And that has mainly stemmed from the Covid rules – particularly their stupidity. We have been dancing around them. Look at the substantial-meal rule, or face masks when you get up to use the toilet. Everybody that comes into the pub is over 18, is allowed to drink alcohol and is generally a responsible adult. They do not need to be told this stuff. It should not have been mandated.

However, compared to making eight-year-olds wear face masks or not treating cancer, these offensive rules are utterly trivial.

spiked: What has your first week since reopening been like?

Humphris: I’ve got a strong sense that people want to get back to normal. I think there’s a hunger for normal life. For just not doing Covid. We have done a lot of Covid – now let’s have a life. Interestingly enough, I have had one or two people phone me up to call me a ‘Covidiot’, but the vast majority of calls have been people saying thank you – from as far away as Australia. That has been lovely and I really appreciate it.

spiked: Starmer is barred from your pub – is Boris?

Humphris: Yes. If he would like to have a conversation with me on the street outside, that would be great.

Rod Humphris was speaking to Paddy Hannam.

Source: Spiked

Keir Starmer was kicked out of a pub in Bath yesterday. The landlord ejected him after confronting him about his failure to challenge lockdown. Video footage of the events has gone viral. spiked caught up with the landlord, Rod Humphris, to find out what happened.

spiked: Why did you feel the need to confront Keir Starmer?

Rod Humphris: I didn’t even really know he was coming until very shortly before he arrived. But the reason I wanted to confront him was that, as someone who is centre-left, I have been bitterly disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has not stood up for the young, the old, the poor and the vulnerable during the pandemic. These are the people who have been hurt by lockdown. Labour, if it has any value, should be speaking up for them. Starmer simply hasn’t. He has not been willing to challenge the narrative. Many elderly people have died of Covid instead of dying of something else. That doesn’t mean their deaths don’t matter. But my point is that the deaths from cancer, poverty and alcoholism matter too.

spiked: What did Starmer say to you in response?

Humphris: He said that he didn’t need a lecture from me. And I think he mentioned that his wife was on the front line, which I thought was patronising. We all have skin in this game. I’m not saying it hasn’t been hell in hospitals at times. That’s not my point. My point is that the other things matter, too.

spiked: What happened next? You appeared to be manhandled by Starmer’s security.

Humphris: Starmer went into the pub for whatever reason, possibly to get away from me. And I wasn’t happy with that. So I went in after him to eject him. One of the security guards manhandled me and took me to one side, and Starmer left. But getting manhandled is trivial compared to the issue of lockdown. That’s what I care about.

spiked: Starmer said after the interview that he wasn’t sure you believe there is a pandemic. What do you say to that?

Humphris: All I did was offer him data and request the issues it raised get talked about – and that the whole thing gets seen in context. I’m not suggesting that there hasn’t been a pandemic. I’m not suggesting that Covid doesn’t exist, or that it’s not serious. It’s just that our reaction to Covid has been out of proportion.

spiked: As somebody who runs a pub, how difficult has the last year been?

Humphris: It has been unpleasant. And that has mainly stemmed from the Covid rules – particularly their stupidity. We have been dancing around them. Look at the substantial-meal rule, or face masks when you get up to use the toilet. Everybody that comes into the pub is over 18, is allowed to drink alcohol and is generally a responsible adult. They do not need to be told this stuff. It should not have been mandated.

However, compared to making eight-year-olds wear face masks or not treating cancer, these offensive rules are utterly trivial.

spiked: What has your first week since reopening been like?

Humphris: I’ve got a strong sense that people want to get back to normal. I think there’s a hunger for normal life. For just not doing Covid. We have done a lot of Covid – now let’s have a life. Interestingly enough, I have had one or two people phone me up to call me a ‘Covidiot’, but the vast majority of calls have been people saying thank you – from as far away as Australia. That has been lovely and I really appreciate it.

spiked: Starmer is barred from your pub – is Boris?

Humphris: Yes. If he would like to have a conversation with me on the street outside, that would be great.

Rod Humphris was speaking to Paddy Hannam.

Source: Spiked

Dave DeCamp - Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:54

Due to the hostile policies of the Biden administration, tensions between the US and Russia are soaring. Now, amid the souring relations, the two countries won’t have ambassadors in each other’s capitals, making diplomatic communications even more difficult.

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan announced on Tuesday that he is returning to Washington for “consultations.” His announcement came after Russia’s foreign minister suggested Sullivan return to the US for the time being in response to new US sanctions against Moscow and the White House’s decision to expel 10 Russian diplomats.

Last month, Russia recalled its ambassador to the US after President Biden agreed in an interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer” who has “no soul.” Since his comments, Biden has called Putin and proposed an in-person meeting, which US and Russian officials are discussing setting up.

Although Biden suggested meeting with Putin, it was after the phone call that the US slapped a wide array of sanctions against Russian officials and entities and expelled the Russian diplomats. Moscow responded by expelling US diplomats and releasing a list of current and former officials who are banned from entering Russia.

On top of the rhetoric and the sanctions, the US has also expressed its “unwavering” support for Ukraine amid tensions with Russia. The Biden administration is hyping the presence of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border, claiming it is the largest Russian military build-up since 2014.

On Monday, the EU claimed that Russia had sent over 150,000 troops near the border with Ukraine but had to correct the number and said later it was more like 100,000. But it’s still not clear how this number has been determined.

Source: Antiwar.com

Due to the hostile policies of the Biden administration, tensions between the US and Russia are soaring. Now, amid the souring relations, the two countries won’t have ambassadors in each other’s capitals, making diplomatic communications even more difficult.

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan announced on Tuesday that he is returning to Washington for “consultations.” His announcement came after Russia’s foreign minister suggested Sullivan return to the US for the time being in response to new US sanctions against Moscow and the White House’s decision to expel 10 Russian diplomats.

Last month, Russia recalled its ambassador to the US after President Biden agreed in an interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “killer” who has “no soul.” Since his comments, Biden has called Putin and proposed an in-person meeting, which US and Russian officials are discussing setting up.

Although Biden suggested meeting with Putin, it was after the phone call that the US slapped a wide array of sanctions against Russian officials and entities and expelled the Russian diplomats. Moscow responded by expelling US diplomats and releasing a list of current and former officials who are banned from entering Russia.

On top of the rhetoric and the sanctions, the US has also expressed its “unwavering” support for Ukraine amid tensions with Russia. The Biden administration is hyping the presence of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border, claiming it is the largest Russian military build-up since 2014.

On Monday, the EU claimed that Russia had sent over 150,000 troops near the border with Ukraine but had to correct the number and said later it was more like 100,000. But it’s still not clear how this number has been determined.

Source: Antiwar.com

Devirupa Mitra - Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:11

India has for the first time directly questioned the investigative report of the global chemical weapons watchdog that accused the Syrian military of a 2018 chemical attack at an informal meeting of UN Security Council member states.

Last week, the UNSC held five meetings on Kosovosexual violence in conflictYemen, Libya and Eritrea. Two resolutions were unanimously adopted on Libya, which established a ceasefire monitoring mechanism and extended the sanctions regime.

However, the most contentious and sharp exchanges were held technically outside the UNSC’s formal setting and in the platform of an Arria-formula meeting last Friday.

At short notice, Russia and China convened an Arria-formula meeting titled “Protection of Developing Nations Against Political Pressure: Upholding the Integrity of International Non-proliferation Regimes”.

Despite the long title, the meeting was essentially to discuss the “politicised nature” of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in the backdrop of the latest report of the UN-backed international body’s Investigation and Identification Team (ITT) on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

On April 12, OPCW released the second report of the ITT, which claimed that a Syrian Air Force helicopter had dropped at least one cylinder of chlorine gas on the town of Saraqib on the night of February 4, 2018.

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, opened the meeting, held through video conference, by flashing a photograph of Colin Powell’s speech at the Security Council in 2003 in which then US secretary of state had claimed “irrefutable and undeniable” evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Any Council member can convene an Arria-formula meeting, but it is not part of the formal records. It is also held outside the chambers of the UNSC in normal circumstances, with non-Council states and external experts also allowed to take part in the meeting.

As expected, there were sharp words from the US and EU countries, who described the meeting as part of Russia’s “disinformation” campaign and supported the findings of the ITT report.

It was at the April 16 meeting that India unambiguously raised questions about the OPCW’s latest report.

In a short statement, India’s deputy permanent representative K. Nagaraj Naidu said that India had taken note of the first and second report of OPCW’s ITT. The first report of ITT released last year in April had concluded that the Syrian Air Force used chemical weapons in three separate attacks in the town of Ltamenah in March 2017.

Stating that India has always underlined the need for an “impartial, credible and objective investigation” into the use of chemical weapons, Naidu noted that such a probe should “scrupulously” follow the provisions and procedures embedded in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The investigation should conform, he reiterated, “with the delicate balance of power and responsibility enshrined under it (CWC) and finally to establish the facts and to reach evidence-based conclusion”.

The current report falls short of these expectations,” asserted the senior Indian diplomat.

Naidu did not give further details on India’s specific objections to the second report. However, he added that the concept note prepared by Russia for the meeting had mentioned Iraq, especially in the context of weapons of mass destruction. “We need to draw lessons from such instance to address such credible way to addressing this issue.”

While stating that nations must strictly adhere to their international commitments, he also asserted that multilateral bodies must be “mindful that perception of bias or subjectivity in the discharge of their duties impacts adversely on the credibility of the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture”. This “dents international cooperation among member states, especially the developing countries,” he added.

India’s criticism of the OPCW report was a new development, as it had not made any public comment on the substance of the first report last year.

However, India’s position on the role of OPCW, whether on Syria or Salisbury poisoning, has largely leaned towards the Russian camp in the last few years.

India had voted against creating the Investigation and Identification Team during the OPCW special session in June 2018. “India opposed the formation of the Investigation and Identification Team, on legal grounds, because it believed that creation of such a mechanism is not provided for in the Convention. If such a mechanism was to be created, it would require amendment of the Convention itself. This was a stand similar to that adopted by Russia, Syria, China and others,” India’s former ambassador and permanent representative to OPCW, Venu Rajamony told The Wire.

The two old allies, Russia and India, have drifted apart on several strategic matters, especially over United States’ Indo-Pacific policy. Russia has repeatedly expressed concern that the ‘Quad’, of which India is a member, was merely another way to create an anti-China platform.

But at the Hague-based body, which has become yet another multilateral forum polarised between the US and Russia, India’s path largely ran adjacent to that of the latter.

Against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war, the western countries argued that the principal organ of OPCW, Conference of State of Parties, had the mandate to form the ITT that would be responsible for “identifying individuals or entities” involved in the use of chemical weapons.

Rajamony, who was India’s envoy to the Netherlands while accredited to OPCW, noted that the Technical Secretariat was authorised by the CWC to identify whether weapons have been used or not, not to attribute responsibility for who has used it.

“India also believed that all issues pertaining to Syria should be addressed through dialogue, something western countries did not agree with. They say Syria as a country which has used chemical weapons in violation of the Convention and who should be brought to justice,” he said.

India has also maintained close ties with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime, considering him crucial in the fight against ISIS and providing development assistance to reconstruct the country.

According to Rajamony, India’s position on OPCW’s responsibility in probing the use of chemical weapons in Syria was “based on legal and political considerations”.

After the first report of the ITT, OPCW’s Executive Council voted to condemn Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons in July 2020. As per the decision adopted, Syria was asked to declare where the chemical weapons used in the 2017 attack were “developed, produced, stockpiled, and operationally stored for delivery” within 90 days.

It was adopted by 29 votes in favour and three against. India was among the nine abstentions.

In its explanation of vote on July 9, 2020, India had underlined the same principles for a credible investigation as stated at the Arria-formula meeting in New York last week. However, India had publicly eschewed any judgment on the first report. “We have seen the First Report of the IIT on incidents in Ltamenah, Syria,” India commented.

The explicit stance taken by India on April 16 on the second report of the ITT is also significant as it comes ahead of the OPCW’s Conference of State Parties this week. The Conference is likely to consider and vote on a draft decision circulated by France to suspend Syria’s voting rights and privileges in OPCW.

The Syria chemical weapons issue is an active file on the Security Council’s formal agenda, with regular briefings held on a monthly basis.

While India has general reservations on the Arria-formula meetings, Russia and China have been trying to catch up with the western countries in employing this platform to project their national priorities.

Russia has convened 13 Arria meetings, while France, UK and the US have organised 155 in total. Out of the 13 Russia-convened Arria meetings, nine have been held in the last 16 months alone, and three were on Syria chemical weapons.

Source: The Wire

India has for the first time directly questioned the investigative report of the global chemical weapons watchdog that accused the Syrian military of a 2018 chemical attack at an informal meeting of UN Security Council member states.

Last week, the UNSC held five meetings on Kosovosexual violence in conflictYemen, Libya and Eritrea. Two resolutions were unanimously adopted on Libya, which established a ceasefire monitoring mechanism and extended the sanctions regime.

However, the most contentious and sharp exchanges were held technically outside the UNSC’s formal setting and in the platform of an Arria-formula meeting last Friday.

At short notice, Russia and China convened an Arria-formula meeting titled “Protection of Developing Nations Against Political Pressure: Upholding the Integrity of International Non-proliferation Regimes”.

Despite the long title, the meeting was essentially to discuss the “politicised nature” of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in the backdrop of the latest report of the UN-backed international body’s Investigation and Identification Team (ITT) on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

On April 12, OPCW released the second report of the ITT, which claimed that a Syrian Air Force helicopter had dropped at least one cylinder of chlorine gas on the town of Saraqib on the night of February 4, 2018.

Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, opened the meeting, held through video conference, by flashing a photograph of Colin Powell’s speech at the Security Council in 2003 in which then US secretary of state had claimed “irrefutable and undeniable” evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Any Council member can convene an Arria-formula meeting, but it is not part of the formal records. It is also held outside the chambers of the UNSC in normal circumstances, with non-Council states and external experts also allowed to take part in the meeting.

As expected, there were sharp words from the US and EU countries, who described the meeting as part of Russia’s “disinformation” campaign and supported the findings of the ITT report.

It was at the April 16 meeting that India unambiguously raised questions about the OPCW’s latest report.

In a short statement, India’s deputy permanent representative K. Nagaraj Naidu said that India had taken note of the first and second report of OPCW’s ITT. The first report of ITT released last year in April had concluded that the Syrian Air Force used chemical weapons in three separate attacks in the town of Ltamenah in March 2017.

Stating that India has always underlined the need for an “impartial, credible and objective investigation” into the use of chemical weapons, Naidu noted that such a probe should “scrupulously” follow the provisions and procedures embedded in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The investigation should conform, he reiterated, “with the delicate balance of power and responsibility enshrined under it (CWC) and finally to establish the facts and to reach evidence-based conclusion”.

The current report falls short of these expectations,” asserted the senior Indian diplomat.

Naidu did not give further details on India’s specific objections to the second report. However, he added that the concept note prepared by Russia for the meeting had mentioned Iraq, especially in the context of weapons of mass destruction. “We need to draw lessons from such instance to address such credible way to addressing this issue.”

While stating that nations must strictly adhere to their international commitments, he also asserted that multilateral bodies must be “mindful that perception of bias or subjectivity in the discharge of their duties impacts adversely on the credibility of the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture”. This “dents international cooperation among member states, especially the developing countries,” he added.

India’s criticism of the OPCW report was a new development, as it had not made any public comment on the substance of the first report last year.

However, India’s position on the role of OPCW, whether on Syria or Salisbury poisoning, has largely leaned towards the Russian camp in the last few years.

India had voted against creating the Investigation and Identification Team during the OPCW special session in June 2018. “India opposed the formation of the Investigation and Identification Team, on legal grounds, because it believed that creation of such a mechanism is not provided for in the Convention. If such a mechanism was to be created, it would require amendment of the Convention itself. This was a stand similar to that adopted by Russia, Syria, China and others,” India’s former ambassador and permanent representative to OPCW, Venu Rajamony told The Wire.

The two old allies, Russia and India, have drifted apart on several strategic matters, especially over United States’ Indo-Pacific policy. Russia has repeatedly expressed concern that the ‘Quad’, of which India is a member, was merely another way to create an anti-China platform.

But at the Hague-based body, which has become yet another multilateral forum polarised between the US and Russia, India’s path largely ran adjacent to that of the latter.

Against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war, the western countries argued that the principal organ of OPCW, Conference of State of Parties, had the mandate to form the ITT that would be responsible for “identifying individuals or entities” involved in the use of chemical weapons.

Rajamony, who was India’s envoy to the Netherlands while accredited to OPCW, noted that the Technical Secretariat was authorised by the CWC to identify whether weapons have been used or not, not to attribute responsibility for who has used it.

“India also believed that all issues pertaining to Syria should be addressed through dialogue, something western countries did not agree with. They say Syria as a country which has used chemical weapons in violation of the Convention and who should be brought to justice,” he said.

India has also maintained close ties with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime, considering him crucial in the fight against ISIS and providing development assistance to reconstruct the country.

According to Rajamony, India’s position on OPCW’s responsibility in probing the use of chemical weapons in Syria was “based on legal and political considerations”.

After the first report of the ITT, OPCW’s Executive Council voted to condemn Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons in July 2020. As per the decision adopted, Syria was asked to declare where the chemical weapons used in the 2017 attack were “developed, produced, stockpiled, and operationally stored for delivery” within 90 days.

It was adopted by 29 votes in favour and three against. India was among the nine abstentions.

In its explanation of vote on July 9, 2020, India had underlined the same principles for a credible investigation as stated at the Arria-formula meeting in New York last week. However, India had publicly eschewed any judgment on the first report. “We have seen the First Report of the IIT on incidents in Ltamenah, Syria,” India commented.

The explicit stance taken by India on April 16 on the second report of the ITT is also significant as it comes ahead of the OPCW’s Conference of State Parties this week. The Conference is likely to consider and vote on a draft decision circulated by France to suspend Syria’s voting rights and privileges in OPCW.

The Syria chemical weapons issue is an active file on the Security Council’s formal agenda, with regular briefings held on a monthly basis.

While India has general reservations on the Arria-formula meetings, Russia and China have been trying to catch up with the western countries in employing this platform to project their national priorities.

Russia has convened 13 Arria meetings, while France, UK and the US have organised 155 in total. Out of the 13 Russia-convened Arria meetings, nine have been held in the last 16 months alone, and three were on Syria chemical weapons.

Source: The Wire

The Babylon Bee - Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:19

A popular new mask has a message for people who see you while you're walking around or driving about town: "I'm Not a Democrat, I Just Forgot To Take Off My Mask When I Left the Store."

This mask is handy for conservatives who live in blue states where they still have to wear masks at Walmart, Target, and the few other stores that are still open after lockdowns.

"We found that many people just accidentally left their masks on, and everyone who saw them assumed they were Democrats, which is obviously devastating," said one of the inventors of the mask, Bill F. Parton. "Now, people who glare at you for thinking you're a Democrat will take a second look, read your mask, and chuckle at you for forgetting to take off your mask. They might even give you a hug for being such a cool guy."

"Thanks for this awesome mask, guys!" said one man in Southern California. "I kept leaving Stater Bros. and forgetting to pull off my mask, and everyone thought I was one of those liberals who live up in L.A. I realized with horror as I got home that I had been wearing my mask for the full five-minute drive home. Absolutely horrible!"

The manufacturers are working on a mask that automatically destroys itself in a blaze of fire the moment you step out of Target, but there are still a few bugs to work out.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire.

A popular new mask has a message for people who see you while you're walking around or driving about town: "I'm Not a Democrat, I Just Forgot To Take Off My Mask When I Left the Store."

This mask is handy for conservatives who live in blue states where they still have to wear masks at Walmart, Target, and the few other stores that are still open after lockdowns.

"We found that many people just accidentally left their masks on, and everyone who saw them assumed they were Democrats, which is obviously devastating," said one of the inventors of the mask, Bill F. Parton. "Now, people who glare at you for thinking you're a Democrat will take a second look, read your mask, and chuckle at you for forgetting to take off your mask. They might even give you a hug for being such a cool guy."

"Thanks for this awesome mask, guys!" said one man in Southern California. "I kept leaving Stater Bros. and forgetting to pull off my mask, and everyone thought I was one of those liberals who live up in L.A. I realized with horror as I got home that I had been wearing my mask for the full five-minute drive home. Absolutely horrible!"

The manufacturers are working on a mask that automatically destroys itself in a blaze of fire the moment you step out of Target, but there are still a few bugs to work out.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire.

Sabine Beppler-Spahl - Wed Apr 21, 2021 08:31

Could the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) be about to make history? Before the AfD’s party conference had even ended last Sunday, the term ‘Dexit’ – short for a German exit from the EU – was circulating in the press. The reason is the AfD’s programme for September’s elections: ‘We consider a withdrawal of Germany from the European Union and the establishment of a new European Economic and Interest Community necessary’, it says – a demand which has caused more than a little stir.

This is the furthest the AfD has ever gone in its opposition to the EU. Of course, its programme has other demands, but it is in the Dexit policy that many commentators see proof of an increasing influence of the far-right within the party’s ranks. The AfD is now ‘openly radical’, said Der SpiegelDeutschlandfunk, Germany’s state radio station, reminded its listeners that before the 2019 European elections, AfD delegates had still been willing to follow the leadership’s milder Euroscepticism, only calling for Germany to leave the Euro.

Pro-EU commentators in Germany have long tried to dismiss any EU scepticism as right-wing extremism – the fact that the AfD is now campaigning for Dexit seems to confirm their point. But most are also anxiously asking themselves how many voters the AfD might win over with its new anti-EU programme. Time and again, the AfD has demonstrated a good sense of the mood in large parts of the population. And even though pundits like to pretend that party delegates were manipulated by the right-wing Björn Höcke (the leader of the notorious Flügel wing of the party), they know this is wrong.

The real reason the AfD has embraced Dexit, after long debates at the party congress, is simply that delegates believe it can help the party reach more voters. Dexit has given the AfD an important and unique selling point for the upcoming elections.

The EU is more unpopular in Germany than ever – and it isn’t just the AfD that knows it. There are many reasons: Ursula von der Leyen’s undemocratic appointment as EC president, the unresolved refugee crisis, the coronavirus vaccination disaster, and the way in which the Next Generation EU Recovery Fund is being waved through parliaments, despite its risks and uncertainties (a lawsuit against it is currently pending before the German constitutional court).

Only the most arrogant or naive Europhile could expect the electorate not to notice any of this. And it would be absurd to believe that no party would try to capitalise on voters’ rising sense of frustration. And since the Left Party (Die Linke) abandoned Euroscepticism several years ago, the field has been left to the AfD.

So is it good or bad that the AfD is calling for Dexit? Of course it would be good if others, perhaps even some new parties, could develop a serious critique of the EU and offer an alternative to German voters. But it is good that Dexit has at least been brought into the election campaign. The very possibility of a critical debate emerging will put pressure on our already defensive establishment to find better arguments for the EU than ‘it’s a nice idea’ or ‘it’s good for our exports’.

Of course, only the election itself will show how successful the AfD’s campaign will be – but the party might find that it is pushing against an open door.

Source: Spiked

Could the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) be about to make history? Before the AfD’s party conference had even ended last Sunday, the term ‘Dexit’ – short for a German exit from the EU – was circulating in the press. The reason is the AfD’s programme for September’s elections: ‘We consider a withdrawal of Germany from the European Union and the establishment of a new European Economic and Interest Community necessary’, it says – a demand which has caused more than a little stir.

This is the furthest the AfD has ever gone in its opposition to the EU. Of course, its programme has other demands, but it is in the Dexit policy that many commentators see proof of an increasing influence of the far-right within the party’s ranks. The AfD is now ‘openly radical’, said Der SpiegelDeutschlandfunk, Germany’s state radio station, reminded its listeners that before the 2019 European elections, AfD delegates had still been willing to follow the leadership’s milder Euroscepticism, only calling for Germany to leave the Euro.

Pro-EU commentators in Germany have long tried to dismiss any EU scepticism as right-wing extremism – the fact that the AfD is now campaigning for Dexit seems to confirm their point. But most are also anxiously asking themselves how many voters the AfD might win over with its new anti-EU programme. Time and again, the AfD has demonstrated a good sense of the mood in large parts of the population. And even though pundits like to pretend that party delegates were manipulated by the right-wing Björn Höcke (the leader of the notorious Flügel wing of the party), they know this is wrong.

The real reason the AfD has embraced Dexit, after long debates at the party congress, is simply that delegates believe it can help the party reach more voters. Dexit has given the AfD an important and unique selling point for the upcoming elections.

The EU is more unpopular in Germany than ever – and it isn’t just the AfD that knows it. There are many reasons: Ursula von der Leyen’s undemocratic appointment as EC president, the unresolved refugee crisis, the coronavirus vaccination disaster, and the way in which the Next Generation EU Recovery Fund is being waved through parliaments, despite its risks and uncertainties (a lawsuit against it is currently pending before the German constitutional court).

Only the most arrogant or naive Europhile could expect the electorate not to notice any of this. And it would be absurd to believe that no party would try to capitalise on voters’ rising sense of frustration. And since the Left Party (Die Linke) abandoned Euroscepticism several years ago, the field has been left to the AfD.

So is it good or bad that the AfD is calling for Dexit? Of course it would be good if others, perhaps even some new parties, could develop a serious critique of the EU and offer an alternative to German voters. But it is good that Dexit has at least been brought into the election campaign. The very possibility of a critical debate emerging will put pressure on our already defensive establishment to find better arguments for the EU than ‘it’s a nice idea’ or ‘it’s good for our exports’.

Of course, only the election itself will show how successful the AfD’s campaign will be – but the party might find that it is pushing against an open door.

Source: Spiked

Tsukasa Hadano - Wed Apr 21, 2021 07:39

Editor's note: Nikkei Asia is the English-language branch of the mainstream Japanese financial paper Nikkei or Nihon Keizai Shimbun (lit. Japan Economics Newspaper). What follows is the mainstream Japanese interpretation of the reform.


Chinese authorities have ordered primary and secondary schools to rid their libraries of books that may lead to veneration of the West at the expense of promoting patriotism.

The move by the Ministry of Education took effect around April 1. Elementary, middle and high schools are expected to focus on so-called Xi Jinping thought -- the president's ideology, officially called "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era."

One middle school in Beijing has recently filled its bookshelves with the likes of "The Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation" -- a collection of Xi speeches and documents.

The order will impact the nation's 240 million primary and secondary school students, including kindergartners. It also applies to books recommended by the schools.

The clear aim is to foster loyalty and devotion to Xi among the young ahead of the July 1 centennial of the Chinese Communist Party. [Surely the goal is much more long-term than that.]

Books viewed as going against the party's agenda and policies are targeted. So, a wide range of titles could be banned, especially ones conveying political, economic and cultural ideas from Western democracies and Japan.

The very first paragraph of the Communist Party's constitution states that the "highest ideal and ultimate goal is the realization of communism." Up to now, schools have recommended books about the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

These figures are poster children of U.S. capitalism, meaning that such titles could be pulled.

Books promoting certain Western ideas or tending to "obsequiously embrace all things foreign" are prohibited. The meaning is open to broad interpretation, so foreign titles for children could be banned.

Books with "scientific errors" are off-limits as well. But online retailers have suggested "Gulliver's Travels" for second graders.

"It's become difficult to choose books for kids to read," an elementary school teacher in Anhui Province said.

Books on religion face a harder crackdown. Titles going against party policies on religion are banned, along with those that lend themselves to proselytizing. There are fears of tighter controls on school libraries spilling over to other libraries and bookstores.

Today's patriotic education traces back to the suppression of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989. Then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping declared the young protesters inadequately educated. That understanding was adopted by Jiang Zemin, the party secretary hand-picked by Deng right after the protests.

Jiang put the patriotic education campaign in place in 1994, and historic sites from the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) were designated as instructional locations. On a 1998 state visit to Japan, he openly criticized the host country over historical issues.

The first large, violent anti-Japan protests in China broke out in 2005. Others occurred in 2010 when Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain involved in a collision near the Senkaku Islands, and in 2012 when Japan nationalized the uninhabited islets, claimed by China as the Diaoyu.

Some riotous demonstrators declared that their patriotism immunized them from prosecution. Bilateral ties were said to have deteriorated to their worst since diplomatic relations were normalized.

The patriotic education by the current leadership has its eyes on a protracted standoff with the U.S. The idea is to emphasize the legitimacy of the Communist Party's rule while ramping up criticism of Western thought.

The government is promoting the teaching of Mandarin to ethnic minorities in the name of ethnic unity. During a discussion with Inner Mongolia delegates at March's National People's Congress, Xi called for the promotion of standard Chinese in the region.

In 2020, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region unveiled a phased plan to replace Mongolian-language textbooks on three subjects with books written in Chinese. That decision, affecting elementary and middle schools, sparked boycotts of classes. But Xi only doubled down.

The Communist Party is holding more study sessions aimed at adult party members. Providing instruction on its history, they are held once or twice a week in government organs and state-owned enterprises by party apparatchiks.

"A Brief History of the Communist Party of China" weighs in at about 530 pages -- around 150 of which cover the administration of Xi, who took power in 2012 as general secretary.

"The things brought up in the study sessions frequently concern Xi's record," said a veteran member in his 50s who lives in Beijing.

Mao Zedong's chaotic Cultural Revolution, which ran for a decade from 1966, is being downplayed in the historical narrative.

A previous edition of the book said Mao bears "significant responsibility" for the Cultural Revolution, according to the Sing Tao Daily newspaper in Hong Kong. The errors of that period were detailed in its own chapter.

This time, Mao's responsibility is downplayed with language that he "mistakenly" launched the Cultural Revolution after "counterrevolutionaries" took advantage of him. This may have been influenced by the Xi administration, which looks to the father of modern China as a political role model. [Hardly a role model, but as a statist neither does he want to obsess over the biggest blunders and atrocities of the state.]

Source: Nikkei Asia

Editor's note: Nikkei Asia is the English-language branch of the mainstream Japanese financial paper Nikkei or Nihon Keizai Shimbun (lit. Japan Economics Newspaper). What follows is the mainstream Japanese interpretation of the reform.


Chinese authorities have ordered primary and secondary schools to rid their libraries of books that may lead to veneration of the West at the expense of promoting patriotism.

The move by the Ministry of Education took effect around April 1. Elementary, middle and high schools are expected to focus on so-called Xi Jinping thought -- the president's ideology, officially called "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era."

One middle school in Beijing has recently filled its bookshelves with the likes of "The Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation" -- a collection of Xi speeches and documents.

The order will impact the nation's 240 million primary and secondary school students, including kindergartners. It also applies to books recommended by the schools.

The clear aim is to foster loyalty and devotion to Xi among the young ahead of the July 1 centennial of the Chinese Communist Party. [Surely the goal is much more long-term than that.]

Books viewed as going against the party's agenda and policies are targeted. So, a wide range of titles could be banned, especially ones conveying political, economic and cultural ideas from Western democracies and Japan.

The very first paragraph of the Communist Party's constitution states that the "highest ideal and ultimate goal is the realization of communism." Up to now, schools have recommended books about the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

These figures are poster children of U.S. capitalism, meaning that such titles could be pulled.

Books promoting certain Western ideas or tending to "obsequiously embrace all things foreign" are prohibited. The meaning is open to broad interpretation, so foreign titles for children could be banned.

Books with "scientific errors" are off-limits as well. But online retailers have suggested "Gulliver's Travels" for second graders.

"It's become difficult to choose books for kids to read," an elementary school teacher in Anhui Province said.

Books on religion face a harder crackdown. Titles going against party policies on religion are banned, along with those that lend themselves to proselytizing. There are fears of tighter controls on school libraries spilling over to other libraries and bookstores.

Today's patriotic education traces back to the suppression of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989. Then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping declared the young protesters inadequately educated. That understanding was adopted by Jiang Zemin, the party secretary hand-picked by Deng right after the protests.

Jiang put the patriotic education campaign in place in 1994, and historic sites from the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) were designated as instructional locations. On a 1998 state visit to Japan, he openly criticized the host country over historical issues.

The first large, violent anti-Japan protests in China broke out in 2005. Others occurred in 2010 when Japan arrested a Chinese fishing boat captain involved in a collision near the Senkaku Islands, and in 2012 when Japan nationalized the uninhabited islets, claimed by China as the Diaoyu.

Some riotous demonstrators declared that their patriotism immunized them from prosecution. Bilateral ties were said to have deteriorated to their worst since diplomatic relations were normalized.

The patriotic education by the current leadership has its eyes on a protracted standoff with the U.S. The idea is to emphasize the legitimacy of the Communist Party's rule while ramping up criticism of Western thought.

The government is promoting the teaching of Mandarin to ethnic minorities in the name of ethnic unity. During a discussion with Inner Mongolia delegates at March's National People's Congress, Xi called for the promotion of standard Chinese in the region.

In 2020, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region unveiled a phased plan to replace Mongolian-language textbooks on three subjects with books written in Chinese. That decision, affecting elementary and middle schools, sparked boycotts of classes. But Xi only doubled down.

The Communist Party is holding more study sessions aimed at adult party members. Providing instruction on its history, they are held once or twice a week in government organs and state-owned enterprises by party apparatchiks.

"A Brief History of the Communist Party of China" weighs in at about 530 pages -- around 150 of which cover the administration of Xi, who took power in 2012 as general secretary.

"The things brought up in the study sessions frequently concern Xi's record," said a veteran member in his 50s who lives in Beijing.

Mao Zedong's chaotic Cultural Revolution, which ran for a decade from 1966, is being downplayed in the historical narrative.

A previous edition of the book said Mao bears "significant responsibility" for the Cultural Revolution, according to the Sing Tao Daily newspaper in Hong Kong. The errors of that period were detailed in its own chapter.

This time, Mao's responsibility is downplayed with language that he "mistakenly" launched the Cultural Revolution after "counterrevolutionaries" took advantage of him. This may have been influenced by the Xi administration, which looks to the father of modern China as a political role model. [Hardly a role model, but as a statist neither does he want to obsess over the biggest blunders and atrocities of the state.]

Source: Nikkei Asia

Anti-Empire >>

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