Crimea: EU non-recognition policy

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU condemns the decision of the Russian Federation to conduct a population census in the “illegally annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” from 15 October until 14 November, and the launching of yet another conscription campaign on 1 October.

“These actions are an attempt to legitimise the illegal annexation of Crimea and further undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.(Tweet below: new road infrastructure).

The European Union calls on Russia to stop all violations of international law and international humanitarian law on the Crimean peninsula. The European Union will continue to work for a peaceful end of Russia’s “illegal annexation of the peninsula”, as reiterated at the first summit of the International Crimean Platform on 23 August. The European Union will continue and to enforce its non-recognition policy.

Russia denies AstraZeneca theft allegations

Brussels 13.10.2021 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday October 12 that claims put forward by UK media of Russia having allegedly stolen AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine formula are unfounded.

“I don’t think anyone will take these unfounded accusations seriously, there have already been many baseless accusations,” Russian top diplomat said.

Lavrov added that he had not heard these accusations against Russia, and also recalled that the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in many cases had produced negative side effects, particularly thrombosis (blood-clotting).

“No such cases have occurred with Sputnik V. I think that everyone who is interested will draw conclusions for themselves,” the foreign minister has underlined.

On October 10, The Sun, a well-known UK tabloid, published an article that claimed that Russian intelligence services allegedly received information about the formula of the vaccine developed by UK-Swedish company AstraZeneca and later used it to create Russia’s Sputnik V formula.

Moscow Ryabkov-Nuland talks

Brussels 12.10.2021 The talks between US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov ended at the Russian foreign ministry. The negotiations lasted more than an hour and a half.(Image: Moscow skyline).

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that during the talks with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, the sides addressed bilateral issues with a focus on strategic stability.

“We deliberated at length on all the issues on bilateral agenda. This was our main focus. Among international topics, we addressed strategic stability and the prospects for continuing work in this area. Although, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nuland does not nominally discuss this topic as the so-called Russian portfolio is assigned to her, she expressed several considerations and we responded to them,” the senior diplomat told TASS.

Ryabkov left the building at 12:25 p.m. Moscow Time, while Nuland got into her car five minutes later, refraining from giving any comments to reporters.

Nuland arrived in Moscow on Monday, October 11, to hold several meetings with Russian officials. The diplomat’s visit will last until October 13. It was reported that apart from the meeting with Ryabkov, Nuland would hold talks with Aid to the Russian President for Foreign Policy Yuri Ushakov and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak.

UNESCO welcomes Nobel prize press awards

Brussels 09.10.2021 UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay welcomed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov and Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, reads the statement issued on Saturday, October 10.

“By awarding this prize, the Nobel Committee stated its belief that the freedom of expression of opinions and access to information is the basis of democracy and peace,” Azoulay said. “These ideals fully resonated with the UNESCO mandate.”

According to Azoulay, “reporters are at the frontline of a fight for shedding light where necessary, oftentimes facing a huge risk.”

“Today, they are rightfully considered protectors of justice and truth,” the official said.

On Friday, the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov and Filipino journalist Maria Ressa for “their efforts on protection of the freedom of press, which the basis for democracy and sustainable peace.”.

#PandoraPapers: Ukraine President Zelensky starring

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky may have pledged to reform the country’s corrupt system of politics, but the Pandora Papers reveals otherwise.

Driving the news: Ukraine is the country with the highest number of politicians named in the leak of offshore data, which implicates hundreds of people linked to offshore companies — including President Volodymyr Zelensky, presumably fighting corruption.

Though offshore companies are not themselves illegal, they often help facilitate tax evasion or money laundering, writes the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the network of reporters and media organisations that obtained the records, revealing double-faced politicians.

While being a popular professional comedian, Zelensky had campaigned on reforming Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated system, positioning himself as an outsider of the crooked universe of the politicians, including incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who hid offshore assets.

However the Pandora Papers revealed that Zelenski was involved with a network of offshore companies, which he co-owned with friends and business partners.
Zelensky is one of several politicians who campaigned on anti-corruption platforms — others include Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan — who will now be facing questions over undisclosed wealth tied to them or their close associates, Axios’ eidotor Dave Lawler said.

By the numbers: Ukraine leads with 38 politicians named in the Pandora Papers. The top five are …

– Ukraine: 38
– Russia: 19
– Honduras: 11
– United Arab Emirates: 11
– Nigeria: 10

#PandoraPapers: $32 trillion tax evasion

Strasbourg 05.09.2021 More than 600 journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ @ICIJorg 2021 have conducted a vast investigation named #PandoraPapers which reveals how the offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies.
The Consortium @ICIJorg has uncovered tax evasion and corruption totaling up to $32 trillion involving:

– 35 current/ex-world leaders;
– 336 politicians/public officials;
– 130 billionaires, mostly from Russia, Brazil, UK, Israel.

The Washington Post, owned by the American billionaire Jeff Bezos, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) gained an unprecedented look into the money flowing into trusts in the United States by examining a trove of more than 11.9 million confidential documents maintained by trust and corporate services providers around the world.

The records, presented to public under the name of the Pandora Papers, expose how foreign political and corporate leaders or their family members moved money and other assets from long-established tax havens to U.S. trust companies.

The investigation identified 206 U.S.-based trusts linked to 41 countries holding combined assets worth more than $1 billion. Nearly 30 of the trusts held assets connected to people or companies accused of fraud, bribery or human rights abuses in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The cache of confidential files, obtained by @ICIJ and shared with more than 150 media partners, describe only some of the trusts in the United States but is the most significant set of records ever made public from inside America’s trust industry.

The trust documents come mostly from the Sioux Falls office of Trident Trust, a global provider of offshore services. In a written statement, Trident said it is committed to compliance with all applicable regulations and routinely cooperates with authorities. The company declined to answer questions about its clients.

On Monday, October 4, the European Parliament included Council and Commission #PandoraPapers statements to agenda of the Plenary in Strasbourg. On October 6 at Strasbourg plenary of the European Parliament – implications on the efforts to combat money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance will be presented at 15h00. The MEPs will vote on the resolution at the next part-session.

UN: Borrell-Lavrov meeting in NYC

Brussels 24.09.2021 The EU High Representative Josep Borrell met with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, in the margins of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. They discussed EU-Russia relations as well as pressing international issues.(Image: archive)

High Representative Borrell addressed some of the challenges in EU-Russia relations, the objective being to aim at a more stable and predictable relationship. Disagreements persist, in particular in regards to Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in the area of democracy and human rights, as well as with regard to cyber, disinformation and other hybrid threats.

The discussion focused on international issues where the EU and Russia should continue to cooperate, with a view to addressing global security challenges such as the situation in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, the Middle East Peace Process or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Lavrov acts as Deripaska lobbyist

Brussels 16.09.2021 Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has been lavishing gifts on Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his lady-friend and her extended family in exchange for lobbying his business interests internationally.

The recent investigation by the team of Alexei Navalny Anti-Corruption Fund has revealed the strong connection between the top civil servant and the prominent businessmen, indicating that Russian diplomat has been working relentlessly to promote internationally private business of the oligarch in exchange for support of an excessive luxury lifestyle of his favourite and her relatives.

Anti-corruption Fund researches have revealed that the top diplomat mistress Svetlana, as well as her mother Tamara and daughter Polina were frequent passengers on Deripaska’s planes, guests on his yachts and in his mansions since at least 2014. In particular, Lavrov’s favourite and her relatives took the oligarch’s private planes to Montenegro, Austria, Germany, Norway and many other countries for pleasure trips. They have also used systematically chances to join the diplomat on his foreign trips, disguised and a part of the Russian delegation.

Moreover, according to Navalny’s colleagues, the de facto stepdaughter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Polina, has repeatedly posted photographs from houses belonging to Deripaska. So, for example, she was vacationing at the ostentatious property of an oligarch in Montenegro and celebrated her 22nd birthday at his extraordinary villa located in Sardinia, Italy. In the social networks, while showing off to friends, Polina was ecstatic about the properties dabbing Deripaska’s real estate her “second home”.

Colleagues of Navalny emphasize that Lavrov uses his public office to lobby private interests of Deripaska. In particular, the Foreign Minister made an effort to help the oligarch obtain an American visa.

It it common in contemporary Russia among top officials to exploit their public service to enrich themselves privately, however until present Sergei Lavrov has been considered as an exception of this rule. He has been regarded by majority of Russians and as a true patriot, serving Russian people, and promoting Russian national interests. Apparently after the Navalny Fund revelations the reputation of the Minister and his image of a patriot are in tatters.

AUSTRIA refuses Afghan migrants

Brussels 07.09.2021 This week Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has reiterated that he does not want to see a surge of Afghan migrants and praised Greece for reinforcing the external border of the European Union.

Chancellor Kurz made the remarks on Monday, September 6, during a press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade.

“If there are waves of migration from Afghanistan, migrants must be cared for in neighbouring countries. That is why we are in contact with the countries of that region,” Kurz said, according to Euronews.

Adding: “They must not go to Europe.”

President Vučić agreed with the Austrian chancellor’s sentiments, stating: “Those who leave Afghanistan have a clear goal: Western Europe and the United States. Not many of them want to stay in the Western Balkans. We will show solidarity with everyone, but we will not be the place where they can camp.”

Chancellor Kurz also praised the Greek government for its stance on fortifying the European Union external border, saying: “Today, at the external borders of the EU, these phenomena are better dealt with, and the approach is different than it was in 2015 when with European funds, i.e. European taxpayers’ money, migrants were promoted through Greece to other countries in Europe. ”

“This has changed. Greece is now making a significant contribution, making great efforts, to guard the EU’s external borders,” he said.

While Sebastian Kurz has come out against taking in large numbers of Afghan migrants, at home, his Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and their stance on the issue has conflicted with their Green Party coalition partners.

The debate takes place while about 500 homeless people, mainly migrants including Afghans and families with children, set up tents on Wednesday September 1 in Paris, under the windows of the prefecture of the Ile-de-France region, in order to ask the state “Dignified and lasting hosting solutions”.

550 Afghan migrants welcomed in Hauts-de-Seine, accommodated in hotels.
At the same time, a homeless person is sentenced to prison for not wearing a mask.
“Hotel *** Mercure (in Strasbourg) for migrants, prison for the French” write indignant users of social networks.

NordStream II: Zelensky threatens with U.S. sanctions

Brussels 02.09.2021 The United States will impose sanctions against Nord Stream II in case other countries create energy problems for Ukraine, President Vladimir Zelensky said on Wednesday, September 2, after his visit to Washington.

“So far, we are at a stage when President Biden personally guarantees that if Russia or other parties to Nord Stream II after its commissioning … create energy problems to Ukraine, the United States guarantees it will impose sanctions against Nord Stream II,” he told at a briefing, which was aired by the Ukraina-24 TV channel.

Zelensky said it is a “big victory,” but the issue still needs further discussion.Ukraine’s position on Nord Stream II enjoys serious support in the U.S. Congress, he added.

Nord Stream II is an international project for the construction of a gas pipeline that will run across the seafloor of the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast to Germany bypassing transit states, such as Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and other Eastern European and Baltic countries.

The new 1,230-kilometer pipeline, basically following the same route as Nord Stream I, traverses the economic zones and territorial water of five countries, namely Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.

Works under the project were suspended in December 2019 after Allseas, a Swiss company laying the pipes for the Nord Stream II pipeline, suspended pipe-laying works over possible US sanctions and recalled its vessels. The construction works were resumed only a year later in December 2020 after an intense legal struggle.

On July 21, 2021, the United States and Germany published an agreement on the Nord Stream II project, where Washington recognised that sanctions would not stop the project implementation and Berlin undertook the efforts to ensure the extension of Russian gas exports via Ukraine. The United States however reserved the right to take measures in case Russia, as it put it, uses energy as a geopolitical weapon in Europe and in case of its “aggression” against Ukraine.

The Russian side has repeatedly stressed that Nord Stream II is purely a commercial project and is being implemented jointly with European partners under the WTO rules. Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov expressed resentment over attempts of a number of countries to link the future of the project to political context and various circumstances unrelated to trade. Moscow has also repeatedly underlined that it has never used energy resources as an instrument of a political pressure, even providing Georgia with gas during the war.

President Biden recent promises to support Ukraine in its struggle out of economic difficulties, the endemic corruption is not the least factor,and reminds of his own son Hunter adventures in Ukraine entering the board of Burisma energy company without any relevant experience. It is also reminded about the impeachment documents failed by Representative Marjory Taylor Greene last year, clearly stating Joe Biden should be investigated over the conflict of interests caused by his son involvement in corruption scandal in Ukraine.