cue the lightning bolts

the only question that matters: is it true?

Iran has signed the NPT. As a signatory to the NPT, Iran may rightfully, legally, use nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes. Iran has submitted to and passed repeated IAEA inspections. The US intelligence community (NIE) does not consider Iran a nuclear threat. Israel refuses to sign the NPT. Israel has an estimated several hundred undeclared nuclear weapons. Russia and China have warned that an attack on Iran will have global consequences. That's the situation in a nutshell. Where to next, people? Where to?

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? - Galatians 4:16

12.24.2009

fun with oligarchs

1. Deripaska blasts Khodorkovsky, lauds Putin

Former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky became an oligarch through "the support of a fairy godfather" and Russia became a free country under Vladimir Putin, billionaire Oleg Deripaska
said in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Deripaska offered harsh criticism for the reforms of the 1990s and made a string of accusations about Khodorkovsky.

"Khodorkovsky, for example, didn't serve in the army," Deripaska said. "And I'd like to know why, and he didn't have very good grades."

The Basic Element owner also brought up Khodorkovsky's past as a high-ranking official in the Komsomol, the Communist Party's youth organization.

"There are people who worked, and there are those who, as a member of the Komsomol, found the support of a fairy godfather who gave them everything," Deripaska told the newspaper.

Alexander Temerko, a former deputy chief of Yukos, responded to the interview, suggesting that Khodorkovsky would defend his political convictions even from prison, where he is serving an eight-year sentence on tax charges.

"If, God forbid, Oleg Vladimirovich [Deripaska] were to find himself in such a situation, one could only wish him courage and express the hope that his service in the army would help him bear similar ordeals with just as much dignity" as Khodorkovsky, Temerko said.

The interview is not political, and Deripaska is merely offering his personal opinion on a number of economic issues, his spokesman said. In October, El Pais and other Spanish newspapers said local judge Balthazar Garzon was planning to visit Moscow to speak with Deripaska, whom he suspects of laundering "the Russian mafia's" money in Spain.

Deripaska criticized the reformers of the 1990s, including the recently deceased Yegor Gaidar, who served as Russia's first acting prime minister and "put an end to the planned economy overnight and didn't create anything to replace it."

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin received much warmer praise. "Our country is much freer than certain other developed democratic countries," he told the newspaper.

He also said he was not an oligarch because he only helps the state and doesn't ask it for anything.

Over the past two years, however, his companies have received significant state assistance. In October 2008, United Company RusAl received a $4.5 billion loan from VEB, and the state bank recently said it was willing to spend 20 billion rubles ($656 million) to buy 3 percent of the company during its January IPO.

The state has also offered guarantees for 20 billion rubles in loans to Deripaska's carmaker, GAZ Group.

Deripaska is now very dependent on the state, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said. GAZ is making a not very competitive product, so it is no surprise that Deripaska would give an interview like this, he added.

source: moscow times


2. Russian supreme court deems arrest of Khordorkovsky associate "illegal"

Russia's supreme court has ruled the 2003 arrest of Platon Lebedev, a business associate of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was illegal.

Russia's highest court ruled on Wednesday that the 2003 arrest of Platon Lebedev, the businessman convicted in connection with Russia's former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was illegal.

The case was reviewed after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that found Lebedev's rights had been violated during his arrest and pre-trial detention.

Lebedev was arrested in 2003 along with Khodorkovsky, who is the former CEO of the now disbanded Yukos oil company. Both men are serving eight-year prison terms after being convicted of fraud and tax evasion. They are now facing a second trial on fresh charges of embezzlement and money laundering which could keep them in jail for another 20 years. Khodorkovsky's supporters have argued for quite some time that the charges against both men were politically motivated. They say the prison sentences amount to government retaliation for the fact that they helped finance the opposition when Vladimir Putin was president. Khodorkovsky has repeatedly stressed his innocence, and says government officials wanted him in jail so they could carve up his multi-billion dollar empire.

However, the government has maintained that the two men are guilty of large financial crimes dating back to the 1990's. Putin, who is now prime minister, recently said on Russian TV that Khodorkovsky and other former bosses of Yukos ordered the murder of their opponents.

Lebedev's lawyers say they are still not sure what the implications of Wednesday's court decision will be.


source: dw-world

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legal mumbo jumbo

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