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Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry

Resource scarcity, competition to dominate Eurasian energy corridors, are behind Russian militarism and US interference
Troops under Russian command at the Belbek airbase in Crimea, Ukraine

Troops under Russian command order Ukrainian soldiers to turn back before firing weapons into the air at Belbek airbase in Crimea. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russia‘s armed intervention in the Crimea undoubtedly illustrates President Putin’s ruthless determination to get his way in Ukraine. But less attention has been paid to the role of the United States in interfering in Ukrainian politics and civil society. Both powers are motivated by the desire to ensure that a geostrategically pivotal country with respect to control of critical energy pipeline routes remains in their own sphere of influence.

Much has been made of the reported leak of the recording of an alleged private telephone conversation between US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt. While the focus has been on Nuland’s rude language, which has already elicited US apologies, the more important context of this language concerns the US role in liaising with Ukrainian opposition parties with a view, it seems, to manipulate the orientation of the Ukrainian government in accordance with US interests.

Rather than leaving the future of Ukrainian politics “up to the Ukrainian people” as claimed in official announcements, the conversation suggests active US government interference to favour certain opposition leaders:

Nuland: Good. I don’t think [opposition leader] Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Pyatt: Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other opposition leader] and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what [President Viktor] Yanukovych is calculating on all this.

Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.

[…]

Nuland: OK. He’s [Jeff Feltman, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] now gotten both [UN official Robert] Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.

Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.

As BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus rightly observes, the alleged conversation:

“… suggests that the US has very clear ideas about what the outcome should be and is striving to achieve these goals… Washington clearly has its own game-plan…. [with] various officials attempting to marshal the Ukrainian opposition [and] efforts to get the UN to play an active role in bolstering a deal.”

But US efforts to turn the political tide in Ukraine away from Russian influence began much earlier. In 2004, the Bush administration had given $65 million to provide ‘democracy training’ to opposition leaders and political activists aligned with them, including paying to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet US leaders and help underwrite exit polls indicating he won disputed elections.

This programme has accelerated under Obama. In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington DC last December as Ukraine’s Maidan Square clashes escalated, Nuland confirmed that the US had invested in total “over $5 billion” to “ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine” – she specifically congratulated the “Euromaidan” movement.

So it would be naive to assume that this magnitude of US support to organisations politically aligned with the Ukrainian opposition played no role in fostering the pro-Euro-Atlantic movement that has ultimately culminated in Russian-backed President Yanukovych’s departure.

Indeed, at her 2013 speech, Nuland added:

“Today, there are senior officials in the Ukrainian government, in the business community, as well as in the opposition, civil society, and religious community, who believe in this democratic and European future for their country. And they’ve been working hard to move their country and their president in the right direction.”

What direction might that be? A glimpse of an answer was provided over a decade ago by Professor R. Craig Nation, Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, in a NATO publication:

“Ukraine is increasingly perceived to be critically situated in the emerging battle to dominate energy transport corridors linking the oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian basin to European markets… Considerable competition has already emerged over the construction of pipelines. Whether Ukraine will provide alternative routes helping to diversify access, as the West would prefer, or ‘find itself forced to play the role of a Russian subsidiary,’ remains to be seen.”

A more recent US State Department-sponsored report notes that “Ukraine’s strategic location between the main energy producers (Russia and the Caspian Sea area) and consumers in the Eurasian region, its large transit network, and its available underground gas storage capacities”, make the country “a potentially crucial player in European energy transit” – a position that will “grow as Western European demands for Russian and Caspian gas and oil continue to increase.”

Ukraine’s overwhelming dependence on Russian energy imports, however, has had “negative implications for US strategy in the region,” in particular the strategy of:

“… supporting multiple pipeline routes on the East–West axis as a way of helping promote a more pluralistic system in the region as an alternative to continued Russian hegemony.”

But Russia’s Gazprom, controlling almost a fifth of the world’s gas reserves, supplies more than half of Ukraine’s, and about 30% of Europe’s gas annually. Just one month before Nuland’s speech at the National Press Club, Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with US energy giant Chevron “that the ex-Soviet nation hopes could end its energy dependence on Russia by 2020.” The agreement would allow “Chevron to explore the Olesky deposit in western Ukraine that Kiev estimates can hold 2.98 trillion cubic meters of gas.” Similar deals had been struck already with Shell and ExxonMobil.

The move coincided with Ukraine’s efforts to “cement closer relations with the European Union at Russia’s expense”, through a prospective trade deal that would be a step closer to Ukraine’s ambitions to achieve EU integration. But Yanukovych’s decision to abandon the EU agreement in favour of Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests.

To be sure, the violent rioting was triggered by frustration with Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU deal, along with rocketing energy, food and other consumer bills, linked to Ukraine’s domestic gas woes and abject dependence on Russia. Police brutality to suppress what began as peaceful demonstrations was the last straw.

But while Russia’s imperial aggression is clearly a central factor, the US effort to rollback Russia’s sphere of influence in Ukraine by other means in pursuit of its own geopolitical and strategic interests raises awkward questions. As the pipeline map demonstrates, US oil and gas majors like Chevron and Exxon are increasingly encroaching on Gazprom’s regional monopoly, undermining Russia’s energy hegemony over Europe.

Ukraine is caught hapless in the midst of this accelerating struggle to dominate Eurasia’s energy corridors in the last decades of the age offossil fuels.

For those who are pondering whether we face the prospect of a New Cold War, a better question might be – did the Cold War ever really end?

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed

Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry

Resource scarcity, competition to dominate Eurasian energy corridors, are behind Russian militarism and US interference
Troops under Russian command at the Belbek airbase in Crimea, Ukraine

Troops under Russian command order Ukrainian soldiers to turn back before firing weapons into the air at Belbek airbase in Crimea. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russia‘s armed intervention in the Crimea undoubtedly illustrates President Putin’s ruthless determination to get his way in Ukraine. But less attention has been paid to the role of the United States in interfering in Ukrainian politics and civil society. Both powers are motivated by the desire to ensure that a geostrategically pivotal country with respect to control of critical energy pipeline routes remains in their own sphere of influence.

Much has been made of the reported leak of the recording of an alleged private telephone conversation between US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt. While the focus has been on Nuland’s rude language, which has already elicited US apologies, the more important context of this language concerns the US role in liaising with Ukrainian opposition parties with a view, it seems, to manipulate the orientation of the Ukrainian government in accordance with US interests.

Rather than leaving the future of Ukrainian politics “up to the Ukrainian people” as claimed in official announcements, the conversation suggests active US government interference to favour certain opposition leaders:

Nuland: Good. I don’t think [opposition leader] Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Pyatt: Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other opposition leader] and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what [President Viktor] Yanukovych is calculating on all this.

Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.

[…]

Nuland: OK. He’s [Jeff Feltman, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] now gotten both [UN official Robert] Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.

Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.

As BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus rightly observes, the alleged conversation:

“… suggests that the US has very clear ideas about what the outcome should be and is striving to achieve these goals… Washington clearly has its own game-plan…. [with] various officials attempting to marshal the Ukrainian opposition [and] efforts to get the UN to play an active role in bolstering a deal.”

But US efforts to turn the political tide in Ukraine away from Russian influence began much earlier. In 2004, the Bush administration had given $65 million to provide ‘democracy training’ to opposition leaders and political activists aligned with them, including paying to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet US leaders and help underwrite exit polls indicating he won disputed elections.

This programme has accelerated under Obama. In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington DC last December as Ukraine’s Maidan Square clashes escalated, Nuland confirmed that the US had invested in total “over $5 billion” to “ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine” – she specifically congratulated the “Euromaidan” movement.

So it would be naive to assume that this magnitude of US support to organisations politically aligned with the Ukrainian opposition played no role in fostering the pro-Euro-Atlantic movement that has ultimately culminated in Russian-backed President Yanukovych’s departure.

Indeed, at her 2013 speech, Nuland added:

“Today, there are senior officials in the Ukrainian government, in the business community, as well as in the opposition, civil society, and religious community, who believe in this democratic and European future for their country. And they’ve been working hard to move their country and their president in the right direction.”

What direction might that be? A glimpse of an answer was provided over a decade ago by Professor R. Craig Nation, Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, in a NATO publication:

“Ukraine is increasingly perceived to be critically situated in the emerging battle to dominate energy transport corridors linking the oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian basin to European markets… Considerable competition has already emerged over the construction of pipelines. Whether Ukraine will provide alternative routes helping to diversify access, as the West would prefer, or ‘find itself forced to play the role of a Russian subsidiary,’ remains to be seen.”

A more recent US State Department-sponsored report notes that “Ukraine’s strategic location between the main energy producers (Russia and the Caspian Sea area) and consumers in the Eurasian region, its large transit network, and its available underground gas storage capacities”, make the country “a potentially crucial player in European energy transit” – a position that will “grow as Western European demands for Russian and Caspian gas and oil continue to increase.”

Ukraine’s overwhelming dependence on Russian energy imports, however, has had “negative implications for US strategy in the region,” in particular the strategy of:

“… supporting multiple pipeline routes on the East–West axis as a way of helping promote a more pluralistic system in the region as an alternative to continued Russian hegemony.”

But Russia’s Gazprom, controlling almost a fifth of the world’s gas reserves, supplies more than half of Ukraine’s, and about 30% of Europe’s gas annually. Just one month before Nuland’s speech at the National Press Club, Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with US energy giant Chevron “that the ex-Soviet nation hopes could end its energy dependence on Russia by 2020.” The agreement would allow “Chevron to explore the Olesky deposit in western Ukraine that Kiev estimates can hold 2.98 trillion cubic meters of gas.” Similar deals had been struck already with Shell and ExxonMobil.

The move coincided with Ukraine’s efforts to “cement closer relations with the European Union at Russia’s expense”, through a prospective trade deal that would be a step closer to Ukraine’s ambitions to achieve EU integration. But Yanukovych’s decision to abandon the EU agreement in favour of Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests.

To be sure, the violent rioting was triggered by frustration with Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU deal, along with rocketing energy, food and other consumer bills, linked to Ukraine’s domestic gas woes and abject dependence on Russia. Police brutality to suppress what began as peaceful demonstrations was the last straw.

But while Russia’s imperial aggression is clearly a central factor, the US effort to rollback Russia’s sphere of influence in Ukraine by other means in pursuit of its own geopolitical and strategic interests raises awkward questions. As the pipeline map demonstrates, US oil and gas majors like Chevron and Exxon are increasingly encroaching on Gazprom’s regional monopoly, undermining Russia’s energy hegemony over Europe.

Ukraine is caught hapless in the midst of this accelerating struggle to dominate Eurasia’s energy corridors in the last decades of the age offossil fuels.

For those who are pondering whether we face the prospect of a New Cold War, a better question might be – did the Cold War ever really end?

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed

It Begins: Gazprom Warns European Gas "Supply Disruptions" Possible | Zero Hedge

It Begins: Gazprom Warns European Gas “Supply Disruptions” Possible | Zero Hedge.

We had previously warned that Putin’s “trump card” had yet to be played and with Obama (and a quickly dropping list of allies) preparing economic sanctions (given their limited escalation options otherwise), it was only a matter of time before the pressure was once again applied from the Russian side. As ITAR-TASS reports, Russia’s Gazprom warned that not only could it cancel its “supply discount” as Ukraine’s overdue payments reached $1.5 billion but that “simmering political tensions in Ukraine, that are aggravated by inadequate economic conditions, may cause disruptions of gas supplies to Europe.” And with that one sentence, Europe will awaken to grave concerns over Russia’s next steps should sanctions be applied.

 

It would appear this is the most important map in Europe once again…

 

 

Some recent history…

In late January, Ukraine asked Russia for deferral of payments for gas supplied in 2013 and in early 2014. President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s debt totalled $2.7 billion then.

and then…

On March 1, Gazprom’s spokesperson Sergai Kupriyanov said the gas holding could cancel its gas supply discount for Ukraine as its overdue debt for gas reached $1.5 billion. This figure includes debts not only for last year’s supplies, but also for the current deliveries.

 

The situation with payments is worrying,” said Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom’s chief financial officer.

Ukraine is paying but not as well as we would like it to. We are still thinking about whether to extend the pricing contract into the next quarter based on current prices.”

And now today…

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom said on Monday it did not rule out possible disruptions of gas supplies to Europe over Ukraine’s political situation.

 

Simmering political tensions in Ukraine, that are aggravated by inadequate economic conditions, may cause disruptions of gas supplies to Europe,” the monopoly said in its materials, adding that it would do its utmost to reduce export risks.

 

“We will further invest into other export-oriented projects such as South Stream and will enhance our LNG (liquefied natural gas) production and export capacity. We also increase our access to underground gas storage facilities in Europe.”

 

Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom’s chief financial officer, said at the moment Russia had been supplying gas to Ukraine according to schedule, although the latter failed to fulfil its debt obligations.

With that last sentence providing exactly the ‘real world’ cover Gazprom needs to cut its supplies “through” Ukraine and thus to Europe…

And, as The Guardian notes, this would…

not the first time Russia has used gas exports to put pressure on its neighbour – and “gas wars” between the two countries tend to be felt far beyond their borders. Russia, after all, still supplies around 30% of Europe’s gas.

 

In late 2005, Gazprom said it planned to hike the price it charged Ukraine for natural gas from $50 per 1,000 cubic metres, to $230. The company, so important to Russia that it used to be a ministry and was once headed by the former president (and current prime minister) Dmitry Medvedev, said it simply wanted a fair market price; the move had nothing to do with Ukraine’s increasingly strong ties with the European Union and Nato. Kiev, unsurprisingly, said it would not pay, and on 1 January 2006 – the two countries having spectacularly failed to reach an agreement – Gazprom turned off the taps.

 

The impact was immediate – and not just in Ukraine. The country is crossed by a network of Soviet-era pipelines that carry Russian natural gas to many European Union member states and beyond; more than a quarter of the EU’s total gas needs were met by Russian gas, and some 80% of it came via Ukrainian pipelines. Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Poland soon reported gas pressure in their own pipelines was down by as much as 30%.

Short of an actual war, the consensus appeared to be, Europe’s gas supplies are unlikely to be seriously threatened (since Putin relies on those revenues)… that is clearly about to change with Gazprom’s comments.

As the following image from Agence France Presse (created at the end of last year) indicates, things are about to get a lot more problemati for Germany, France, and Italy…

It Begins: Gazprom Warns European Gas “Supply Disruptions” Possible | Zero Hedge

It Begins: Gazprom Warns European Gas “Supply Disruptions” Possible | Zero Hedge.

We had previously warned that Putin’s “trump card” had yet to be played and with Obama (and a quickly dropping list of allies) preparing economic sanctions (given their limited escalation options otherwise), it was only a matter of time before the pressure was once again applied from the Russian side. As ITAR-TASS reports, Russia’s Gazprom warned that not only could it cancel its “supply discount” as Ukraine’s overdue payments reached $1.5 billion but that “simmering political tensions in Ukraine, that are aggravated by inadequate economic conditions, may cause disruptions of gas supplies to Europe.” And with that one sentence, Europe will awaken to grave concerns over Russia’s next steps should sanctions be applied.

 

It would appear this is the most important map in Europe once again…

 

 

Some recent history…

In late January, Ukraine asked Russia for deferral of payments for gas supplied in 2013 and in early 2014. President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s debt totalled $2.7 billion then.

and then…

On March 1, Gazprom’s spokesperson Sergai Kupriyanov said the gas holding could cancel its gas supply discount for Ukraine as its overdue debt for gas reached $1.5 billion. This figure includes debts not only for last year’s supplies, but also for the current deliveries.

 

The situation with payments is worrying,” said Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom’s chief financial officer.

Ukraine is paying but not as well as we would like it to. We are still thinking about whether to extend the pricing contract into the next quarter based on current prices.”

And now today…

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom said on Monday it did not rule out possible disruptions of gas supplies to Europe over Ukraine’s political situation.

 

Simmering political tensions in Ukraine, that are aggravated by inadequate economic conditions, may cause disruptions of gas supplies to Europe,” the monopoly said in its materials, adding that it would do its utmost to reduce export risks.

 

“We will further invest into other export-oriented projects such as South Stream and will enhance our LNG (liquefied natural gas) production and export capacity. We also increase our access to underground gas storage facilities in Europe.”

 

Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom’s chief financial officer, said at the moment Russia had been supplying gas to Ukraine according to schedule, although the latter failed to fulfil its debt obligations.

With that last sentence providing exactly the ‘real world’ cover Gazprom needs to cut its supplies “through” Ukraine and thus to Europe…

And, as The Guardian notes, this would…

not the first time Russia has used gas exports to put pressure on its neighbour – and “gas wars” between the two countries tend to be felt far beyond their borders. Russia, after all, still supplies around 30% of Europe’s gas.

 

In late 2005, Gazprom said it planned to hike the price it charged Ukraine for natural gas from $50 per 1,000 cubic metres, to $230. The company, so important to Russia that it used to be a ministry and was once headed by the former president (and current prime minister) Dmitry Medvedev, said it simply wanted a fair market price; the move had nothing to do with Ukraine’s increasingly strong ties with the European Union and Nato. Kiev, unsurprisingly, said it would not pay, and on 1 January 2006 – the two countries having spectacularly failed to reach an agreement – Gazprom turned off the taps.

 

The impact was immediate – and not just in Ukraine. The country is crossed by a network of Soviet-era pipelines that carry Russian natural gas to many European Union member states and beyond; more than a quarter of the EU’s total gas needs were met by Russian gas, and some 80% of it came via Ukrainian pipelines. Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Poland soon reported gas pressure in their own pipelines was down by as much as 30%.

Short of an actual war, the consensus appeared to be, Europe’s gas supplies are unlikely to be seriously threatened (since Putin relies on those revenues)… that is clearly about to change with Gazprom’s comments.

As the following image from Agence France Presse (created at the end of last year) indicates, things are about to get a lot more problemati for Germany, France, and Italy…

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research.

Global Research, March 02, 2014
Ukraine extreme-droite

According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as anotherflowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,  NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”?  The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.

The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

Confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, key organizations in the Ukraine including the Neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington: “We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. … We will continue to promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”

The Western media has casually avoided to analyze the composition and ideological underpinnings of the government coalition. The word “Neo-Nazi” is a taboo. It has been excluded from the dictionary of mainstream media commentary. It will not appear in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post or The Independent. Journalists have been instructed not to use the term “Neo-Nazi” to designate Svoboda and the Right Sector.

Composition of the Coalition Government

We are not dealing with a transitional government in which Neo-Nazi elements integrate the fringe of the coalition, formally led by the Fatherland party.

The Cabinet is not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of defunct fascist UNA-UNSO), the two main Neo-Nazi entities have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice and National Security.

While Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party controls the majority of portfolios and Svoboda Neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok was not granted a major cabinet post (apparently at the request of assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland), members of Svoboda and the Right Sector occupy key positions in the areas of Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs.

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

nuland in ukraine

US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland together Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (left)

Andriy parubiy.jpgAndriy Parubiy [right] co-founder of the Neo-Nazi  Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts.

Parubiy was one of the main leaders behind the Orange Revolution in 2004. His organization was funded by the West. He is referred to by the Western media as the “kommandant” of the EuroMaidan movement. Andriy Parubiy together with party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a follower of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, who collaborated in the mass murderer of Jews and Poles during World War II. Reuters / Gleb Garanich

Neo-Nazi march honoring Stepan Bandera

In turn, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, has been appointed Parubiy’s deputy Secretary of the RNBOU.

Yarosh was the leader of the Brown Shirt Neo-Nazi paramilitary during the EuroMaidan “protest” movement. He has called for disbanding the Party of the regions and the Communist Party.

Dmytro Yarosh speech at Euromaidan (Centre)

The Neo Nazi party also controls the judicial process with the appointment of  Oleh Makhnitsky of the Svoboda party to the position of prosecutor-general of Ukraine. What kind of justice will prevail with a reknown Neo-Nazi in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?

Cabinet positions were also allocated to former members of the Neo-Nazi fringe organizationUkrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO):

“Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov,known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.

Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life. (See Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education, Global Research, March 02, 2014

The Lustration Committee is to organize the Neo-Nazi witch-hunt against all opponents of the new Neo-Nazi regime. The targets of the lustration campaign are people in positions of authority within the civil service, regional and municipal governments, education, research, etc.  The term lustration refers to the “mass disqualification” of people associated with the former government. It also has racial overtones. It will in all likelihood be directed against Communists, Russians  and members of the Jewish community.

It is important to reflect on the fact that the West, formally committed to democratic values, has not only spearheaded the demise of an elected president, it has instated a political regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots: Under a “regime of indirect rule” they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.The RNBOU

A scenario of military escalation leading to confrontation of Russia and NATO is a distinct possibility. The Ukraine’s National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is controlled by Neo-Nazis plays a central role in military affairs.  In the confrontation with Moscow, decisions taken by the RNBOU headed by Neo-Nazi Parubiy and his brown Shirt deputy Dmytro Yarosh –in consultation with Washington and Brussels– could potentially have devastating consequences.

However, it goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a Neo-Nazi government does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.

“The flowering of democracy” in Ukraine –to use the words of the New York Times– is endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It’s a bipartisan project. Lest we forget, Senator John McCain is a firm supporter and friend of Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (Image right).

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research.

Global Research, March 02, 2014
Ukraine extreme-droite

According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as anotherflowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,  NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”?  The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.

The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

Confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, key organizations in the Ukraine including the Neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington: “We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. … We will continue to promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”

The Western media has casually avoided to analyze the composition and ideological underpinnings of the government coalition. The word “Neo-Nazi” is a taboo. It has been excluded from the dictionary of mainstream media commentary. It will not appear in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post or The Independent. Journalists have been instructed not to use the term “Neo-Nazi” to designate Svoboda and the Right Sector.

Composition of the Coalition Government

We are not dealing with a transitional government in which Neo-Nazi elements integrate the fringe of the coalition, formally led by the Fatherland party.

The Cabinet is not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of defunct fascist UNA-UNSO), the two main Neo-Nazi entities have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice and National Security.

While Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party controls the majority of portfolios and Svoboda Neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok was not granted a major cabinet post (apparently at the request of assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland), members of Svoboda and the Right Sector occupy key positions in the areas of Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs.

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

nuland in ukraine

US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland together Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (left)

Andriy parubiy.jpgAndriy Parubiy [right] co-founder of the Neo-Nazi  Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts.

Parubiy was one of the main leaders behind the Orange Revolution in 2004. His organization was funded by the West. He is referred to by the Western media as the “kommandant” of the EuroMaidan movement. Andriy Parubiy together with party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a follower of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, who collaborated in the mass murderer of Jews and Poles during World War II. Reuters / Gleb Garanich

Neo-Nazi march honoring Stepan Bandera

In turn, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, has been appointed Parubiy’s deputy Secretary of the RNBOU.

Yarosh was the leader of the Brown Shirt Neo-Nazi paramilitary during the EuroMaidan “protest” movement. He has called for disbanding the Party of the regions and the Communist Party.

Dmytro Yarosh speech at Euromaidan (Centre)

The Neo Nazi party also controls the judicial process with the appointment of  Oleh Makhnitsky of the Svoboda party to the position of prosecutor-general of Ukraine. What kind of justice will prevail with a reknown Neo-Nazi in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?

Cabinet positions were also allocated to former members of the Neo-Nazi fringe organizationUkrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO):

“Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov,known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.

Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life. (See Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education, Global Research, March 02, 2014

The Lustration Committee is to organize the Neo-Nazi witch-hunt against all opponents of the new Neo-Nazi regime. The targets of the lustration campaign are people in positions of authority within the civil service, regional and municipal governments, education, research, etc.  The term lustration refers to the “mass disqualification” of people associated with the former government. It also has racial overtones. It will in all likelihood be directed against Communists, Russians  and members of the Jewish community.

It is important to reflect on the fact that the West, formally committed to democratic values, has not only spearheaded the demise of an elected president, it has instated a political regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots: Under a “regime of indirect rule” they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.The RNBOU

A scenario of military escalation leading to confrontation of Russia and NATO is a distinct possibility. The Ukraine’s National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is controlled by Neo-Nazis plays a central role in military affairs.  In the confrontation with Moscow, decisions taken by the RNBOU headed by Neo-Nazi Parubiy and his brown Shirt deputy Dmytro Yarosh –in consultation with Washington and Brussels– could potentially have devastating consequences.

However, it goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a Neo-Nazi government does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.

“The flowering of democracy” in Ukraine –to use the words of the New York Times– is endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It’s a bipartisan project. Lest we forget, Senator John McCain is a firm supporter and friend of Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (Image right).

Ukraine: The East-West tug of war – Counting the Cost – Al Jazeera English

Ukraine: The East-West tug of war – Counting the Cost – Al Jazeera English.

As tension continues in Ukraine, we analyse why the country remains economically torn between Russia and the EU.

 Last updated: 01 Mar 2014 09:38
It was the bloodiest week in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history. The president fled, an opposition leader left jail after three years and, with the dust now settling, a clearer picture is emerging about the dire state of the country’s finances.Ukraine’s political crisis began with the economy; ousted president Viktor Yanukovich wanted to align with Russia, while his opposition was looking to Europe – which prompted what almost amounted to a bidding war.

On the Russian side, Moscow had earmarked $15bn to inject into the Ukrainian economy.

The European Union had offered just $800m and while Ukraine would get great access to EU goods and services, it would not actually be able to get its own products into the continent.

Things are now worse, as Ukraine says it needs $35bn over two years, and Standard & Poors says the country, the central bank and its state-owned oil companies have about $13bn worth of debt to repay. Although it has $18bn in reserves, that is not enough to run an economy.

On this week’s Counting the Cost, we look how Ukraine remains torn between Europe and Russia and which side offers the best deal. We speak to Dmirty Sologoub formerly an economist with the IMF, but now head of research Raiffesien Bank Aval in Ukraine.

Nigeria’s ‘missing money’ 

In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the central bank for “financial recklessness and misconduct”.

Sanusi had earlier exposed all sorts of corruption in Nigeria’s oil industry, alleging that $20bn had gone missing from oil sales.

Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege in Lagos, Sanusi said the money that disappeared in the last 19 months was supposed to be given to the central bank by the state oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

His allegations mean losses in public money could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The ex-governor says he will not be surprised if he is jailed for speaking out.

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers. Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of state revenue, although as little as one percent of Nigerians are thought to benefit from the wealth.

Many people we spoke to in Abuja about Sanusi’s ouster told us they thought the missing money might be used to fund election campaigns. Nigerians go to the polls next year to vote in presidential elections. But Sanusi thinks the public money may have already been squandered.

Ndege also spoke to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s finance minister.

Over-fishing in Indonesia

In Indonesia, over-fishing is depleting fish stocks. The government has introduced marine-protected areas, but for some fishermen that is not enough.

They are using increasingly aggressive means to put fish in their nets, and food on their tables. Many fishermen, who wish not be identified, admit they use explosives.

Despite using desperate measures they still cannot compete with the big boats catching all the fish. They also now have to travel a lot further to find tuna.

Millions of Indonesians are dependent on fish for their income and nutrition. The government has introduced measures to make sure fish populations will grow back, but this might be too little too late. With aggressive fishing techniques not being banned, traditional fishermen have only a slim chance to pass on their skills to the next generation.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Benoa, Indonesia.

Rome Is On The Verge Of Detroit-Style Bankruptcy | Zero Hedge

Rome Is On The Verge Of Detroit-Style Bankruptcy | Zero Hedge.

With European peripheral bond yields collapsing every single day to new all time lows (primarily driven by Europe’s near-certainty that a US-style QE is imminent as we first showed here in November, despite Mario Draghi’s own words from November 2011 that a QE intervention is virtually impossible), increasingly more of Europe is trading just as safe, if not more, as the United States. And in keeping with the analogies, considering a major US metropolitan center, Detroit, recently went bankrupt, it is only fair that Europe should sacrifice one of its own historic cities to the gods of negative cash flows. The city in question, Rome, which as the WSJ reports, is “teetering on the brink of a Detroit-style bankruptcy.”

Rome, the eternal city, which survived two millennia of abuse from everyone may be preparing to lay its arms at the hands of unprecedented corruption, capital mismanagement and lies

On the first day of his premiership, Matteo Renzi had to withdraw a decree, promulgated by his predecessor, that would have helped the city of Rome fill an €816 million ($1.17 billion) budget gap, after filibustering by opposition lawmakers in the Parliament on Wednesday signaled the bill had little likelihood of passing.

Devising a new decree that provides aid to Rome will now cost Mr. Renzi time and political capital he intended to deploy in promoting sweeping electoral and labor overhauls during his first weeks in office.

For Rome’s city fathers, though, the setback has more dire consequences. They must now face unpalatable choices—such as cutting public services, raising taxes or delaying payments to suppliers—to gain time as they search for ways to close a yawning budget gap. If it fails, the city could be placed under an administrator tasked with selling off city assets, such as its utilities.

“It’s time to stop the accounting tricks and declare Rome’s default,” said Guido Guidesi, a parliamentarian from the Northern League, which opposed the measure.

Alas, if one stops the accounting tricks, not only Rome, but all of Europe, as well as the US and China would all be swept under a global bankruptcy tsunami. So it is safe to assume that the tricks will continue. Especially when one considers that as Mirko Coratti, head of Rome’s city council said on Wednesday, “A default of Italy’s capital city would trigger a chain reaction that could sweep across the national economy.” Well we can’t have that, especially not with everyone in Europe living with their head stuck in the sand of universal denial, assisted by the soothing lies of Mario Draghi and all the other European spin masters.

So what is the catalyst that would push the city into default? Trash.

No really: an appeal for a €485 million transfer from the central government to compensate Rome for the extra costs it incurs in its role as a major tourist destination, the nation’s capital and the seat of the Vatican. “Rome is unique compared with other cities” and deserves state support because of huge numbers of visitors who use services but don’t contribute much to the economy, Mr. Marino said in a recent interview. But even before the government of Enrico Letta fell this month, the proposed transfer had prompted complaints that the aid was unfair, given the dire straits of other cities.

Rome has long struggled to balance its books. Because of its dearth of industry, the city depends heavily on trash-collection levies and the sale of bus and subway tickets. It struggles much more than other European cities to collect either one. About one in four passengers on Rome’s public transit system doesn’t buy tickets, costing around €100 million in lost revenue annually, compared with just 2% of passengers on London’s public transit network.

Meanwhile, employee absenteeism at Rome’s public-transit and trash-collection agencies runs as high as 19%, far above the national average.

But how can Rome’s clean up costs be a surprise? Well, they aren’t. What is however, is the severity of the recession that crushed the national economy.

Just six years ago, some €12 billion in city debts was transferred to a special fund subsidized and guaranteed by the national government in a move aimed at giving Rome a fresh start. But Italy’s economy has shrunk by almost 10% since then, eroding the tax base just as national austerity programs pushed extra costs onto local governments.

Even before the withdrawal of the “Save Rome” decree, Mr. Marino was facing unpalatable choices. He has already raised cremation and cemetery fees and plans to centralize city procurement, which he says will save €300 million a year.

Now, without the transfer from the central government, he may be forced to impose income and property tax surcharge—already among the highest in the country—and to cut salaries to the city’s 20,000 employees or trim city services such as child-care centers or job-training programs—also unpopular moves.

What would happen then is unknown, but hardly pleasant:

The political fallout could be severe. The mayor of Taranto, a southeast city that defaulted on €637 million in debt in 2006, has suffered some of the lowest poll ratings in the country after cutting back services.

Oh well, another government overhaul is imminent then, after all it is Italy. Just as long as it is not elected. Because then there woud be a chance that someone who actually sees behind the facade of lies, like Beppe Grillo for example, may just be elected PM, and then all bets are off.

Howeber, that will never be allowed, and instead Rome will almost surely be bailed out. That however would open a whole new can of worms as every other insolvent city demands the same treatment:

A new appeal for a special transfer to Rome could embolden demands that other cities in distress be helped, even though Italy’s public finances are already strained. Naples is close to having to declare bankruptcy. Reggio Calabria has been run by a special commissioner for the past three years, but may still default on €694 million in debt, according to Italy’s Audit Court.

And if all else fails, there is the nuclear option: “Some politicians say Rome should sell assets such as ACEA, the electric utility that is worth about €1.8 billion and is 51% owned by the city.

True: and Goldman, or some other bank filled to the gills with the Fed’s generous excess reserves, would be happy to swoop in and scoop up hard Roman assets providing it with just the right cover for creeping global encroachment. The benefactors? A select few equity shareholders. Because for every million or so peasants who suffer, a few rich men have to get even richer in the New Feudal Normal.

French Joblessness Surges To New Record High (Up 30 Of Last 32 Months) | Zero Hedge

French Joblessness Surges To New Record High (Up 30 Of Last 32 Months) | Zero Hedge.

It would appear French President Francois Hollande’s promise to bring jobs to the nation continues to fail dismally. Perhaps it was his recent trip to the US, but French Jobseekers rose more than expected for the 3rd month in a row to a new record high of 3.316 million. Joblessness has now risen for 30 of the last 32 months. The last 5 months have seen jobseekers reaccelerate – surging by 2.5% (the most in 6 months). So, in a nutshell, things are getting worse, faster for the 2nd largest economy in Europe (and 5th largest in the world).

 

 

Charts: Bloomberg

 

New Internet law in Turkey sparks outrage – Features – Al Jazeera English

New Internet law in Turkey sparks outrage – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Controversial web controls implemented after phone-recording leaks raise questions and stoke public anger.

 Last updated: 25 Feb 2014 13:10

Street protests and anti-censorship campaigns have been launched to oppose Turkey’s internet law [AFP]
Turkey’s new law tightening the state’s grip on the Internet has gone into force after President Abdullah Gul approved the controversial legislation pushed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.The legislation changes Turkey’s original 2007 Internet law, and has sparked street protests and various public campaigns against the new online controls.

The conservative government has rejected claims that the law will lead to censorship, arguing instead that it aims at protecting individual rights and privacy. “There is no censorship on the Internet. Freedoms are not restricted. We are only taking precautions against blackmail and immorality,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said.

“If the Internet and computers are not used in a proper way under certain monitoring and order, they do not constitute beneficial or educational tools anymore. Instead, they turn into dangers with bitter results.”

Last year’s Gezi Park protests against the Turkish government were largely organised through social media, which Erdogan at the time called “the worst menace to society“.

#UnFollowAbdullahGul

A Twitter campaign – #UnFollowAbdullahGul – was launched after Turkey’s tech-savvy president approved the proposed Internet bill, despite his expressed concerns. His follower count dropped by more than 100,000 in two days last week.

In another campaign named #4Saat (“four hours” in Turkish), liberal newspaper Radikal started self-censoring various news stories on its website every four hours – the time needed to block a URL under the new administrative process – to protest against the legislation.

Critics of the new law organised several protests

Eyup Can, the editor-in-chief of Radikal, told Al Jazeera the digital campaign aims at providing the Turkish public with a better understanding of the new law.

“As the legislation is highly technical both in terms of law and technology, sometimes it is not easy for the public to understand. We wanted to display the practical future outcomes of the law and make the Turkish public grasp what changes it would make in our lives,” he said.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party, has repeatedly declared it would take the legislation to the Constitutional Court.

“The AKP government, striving to restrict freedom in every domain, is stepping up its pressure on the Internet, which is becoming increasingly important in our daily lives,” CHP said in a statement.

Turkey is an Internet-savvy country with 21.9 million broadband Internet subscriptions as of last September, according to a report by Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority. There are 68.4 million mobile-phone subscriptions and 47.5 million 3G subscriptions in a country with 75 million people.

The European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations have expressed concern over the legislation, along with rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

A similar bill proposed by the government in 2011 was shelved following mass street protests. This time, however, the government decided to go forward despite a similar reaction.

What is new?

The legislation allows Turkey’s telecommunications authority (TIB) to block websites without first obtaining a court order. With a complaint filed for breach of “privacy of persons”, TIB has the power to order the blocking of a URL, which will be carried out by Internet service providers within four hours.

A court order must then be sought by the telecommunications authority within 24 hours. However, the web page remains offline until the court makes a decision.

The president of the TIB can also block URLs without complaints having been filed, if prospective plaintiffs are not capable of applying, or if a delay could cause “irreversible consequences”.

Gokhan Ahi, a lawyer and lecturer specialising in Internet law, told Al Jazeera the TIB could use its newly given authority anyway it sees fit. “Will it monitor delays of complaints [over breaches of privacy] for every citizen, or only for the government? By law, this institution works under the jurisdiction of the government, and it would carry out any written order from it to block a web page when it has such a power,” Ahi said.

Blocking web pages immediately after complaints are lodged creates a legal basis to sweep news reports and other online information under the carpet, Ahi said, pointing out that the ensuing court process ensures the URLs stay blocked for some time.

The rush of phone recordings to the Internet is so disgusting that, I believe, accelerating the legal decision-making mechanism [for blocking URLs] is in line with the principle of right to privacy.- Hilal Kaplan, columnist

Data will be stored

The law also requires Internet service providers to collect all data on web users’ activities for up to two years, and to provide authorities with the data in question on demand.

Users’ information on Internet traffic will be collected based on IP and subscriber numbers, instead of URLs, which was criticised as being more intrusive. The collected data will only be accessible by court order.

The law allows single URLs to be blocked, as opposed to entire websites, as directed by the old legislation. The blocking of YouTube from 2007 until 2010 for videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was a significant example of that.

It also removes prison sentences for content and access providers who violate the law, which was a big obstacle for foreign investors in the sector. However, prison sentences can still be handed down if violators do not pay fines they incur under the law.

According to Can of Radikal, there is nothing wrong with regulating the Internet as long as it doesn’t restrict freedom of information.

“Through this law, the job [to block web pages] has been left to the initiative of a public employee heading a state institution, and this creates an arbitrary situation,” Can said.

Leaked recordings

The swift adoption of the new Internet law comes after the online leak of phone recordings that allegedly document corruption in state tenders and bribery involving businessmen and the Turkish government.

The latest recording, which was leaked on Monday, purports to be a conversation between Erdogan and his son Bilal, in which the prime minister asked him to move money from his and his relatives’ homes. Bilal supposedly said in the recording that some 30m euros ($41m) still remain to be disposed of. The prime minister has said the recording is fake.

Other recordings have revealed Erdogan’s direct intervention in mainstream media coverage. He confirmed one of these conversations at a recent press conference.

Some of these recordings were released through court orders and publicised by the CHP, the main opposition party. Others were leaked anonymously on social media and video-sharing websites, and their authenticity has not been challenged by the government.

Listening Post: Turkey’s media pressure points

In mid-December, the government was hit by unexpected and comprehensive corruption probes, mainly targeting the sons of ministers, bureaucrats and prominent businesspeople.

The government alleged the investigations were organised by a “parallel state”, an apparent reference to Gulen, a religious group formerly allied with the AKP whose followers are widely believed to wield significant influence over Turkey’s police and judiciary.

Erdogan linked the phone leaks several times to the Gulen Movement.

The government’s reaction to the corruption investigations was to initiate a country-wide comprehensive reshuffling in the Turkish Police Forces, which, according to media reports, halted a planned second and third wave of detentions. Prosecutors who launched the investigations were removed, and the AKP-dominated parliament recently adopted a new law increasing its influence over the judiciary.

Hilal Kaplan, a pro-government columnist for the Yeni Safak daily, linked the revamped Internet law to the recent phone leaks. “The rush of phone recordings to the Internet is so disgusting that, I believe, accelerating the legal decision-making mechanism [for blocking URLs] is in line with the principle of right to privacy protected by Article 20 of the constitution,” she recently wrote.

The government has rejected any link between the phone leaks and the new legislation, saying it had worked on the text of the law for the past two years.

Radikal’s editor Can disagreed, however, saying the leaked recordings had spurred the government to push through the new Internet controls before local elections scheduled for March 30.

“The government would not bring the bill to the parliament this fast if it was not for the recent developments. It is an issue that should have been widely discussed in the country, as there are no certain global norms about the use of the Internet,” he said.

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Thriceee

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