Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Colpo Grosso" of the Golden Dawn Party in Greece

Lieutenant General Eleftherios Synadinos former Director od the Special Forces of the Greek Army, is Member of the European Parliament Candidate, with the Golden Dawn

Another prominent figure in the public life of oGreece, for Euro Parliamentary Elections, inside the staffs of the Golden Dawn Party. The reason for the higher military figures of the Country, including in politics for the Greek National Issues, the Lieutenant General, Eleftherios Synadinos, is the former Director of the Special Forces of  Greece,.

For the first time, the Greek national struggle of the People's Association are present of the list for candidates, shoking again the turbo polirics not only in Greece but also in Europe, by the Golden Dawn Party.
Lieutenant General Eleftherios Synadinos, served with a successful on almost 4 decades for the Greek Armed Forces wearing the uniform of the honored Greek officers.

Photo of the day

Deputy U.S. Ambassador in Albania, Henry V. Jardine, during a Bike-tour in Southern Albania, is stopped, in Porto Palermo, Kiparo in Himara Region. Many residents have complained to the Albanian state, which are being robbed properties, favoring oligarchy and the Albanian mafia.

Greece pressures Germany on WWII reparations

Struggling through a continued economic downturn, Greece has reopened the debate on German reparations.

Last updated: 26 Apr 2014 10:21

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Germany holds that reparations issues were settled in September 1990 [AP]
Athens, Greece - On June 10, 1944, three Wehrmacht units converged on the village of Distomo in Nazi-occupied central Greece. They had received reports of black market activity in the area - a hanging offence under the Nazis, who stockpiled food to supply their armies overseas, leaving the local population strictly rationed. Instead of smugglers they found a dozen resistance fighters and rounded them up.
"A representative ran off and warned the resistance that was encamped three or four kilometres from the village," says Thanos Bouras, who was then 20 years old. "The resistance attacked, and they mortally wounded the German commander. A woman brought him some water. He thanked her, and said: 'The entire village [is] kaput, but don't harm this woman.'"
What followed was one of the worst Nazi atrocities in Greece during their three-and-a-half-year occupation. Angelos Kastritis, who was eight, remembers the Germans going house to house, bashing down doors and spraying interiors with machine-gun fire.
Kastritis' mother had told him and his father to make themselves scarce while she stayed home with her in-laws, believing that women and the elderly would not be harmed.
"When I returned I first saw my grandfather. The back of his head was gone and his brains had been splattered against a staircase. My grandmother was seated next to him [dead]. Inside the house I saw my mother… They had killed her execution-style, from behind."
Sture Linner, the Swedish head of the Red Cross in Greece, arrived in Distomo three days later. He described what he saw in his autobiography, My Odyssey, "For hundreds of yards along the road, human bodies were hanging from every tree, pierced with bayonets - some were still alive. In the village… hundreds of dead bodies of people of all ages, from elderly to newborns, were strewn around on the dirt. Several women were slaughtered with bayonets, their wombs torn apart and their breasts severed …"
Seven percent of the Greek population at the time of the war - over half a million people - was wiped out. Four-fifths of those were civilians and were killed in mass executions and punitive massacres like that at Distomo. But the single biggest killer was starvation, stemming from Germany's disastrous management of the Greek economy. Greece lost 97 percent of its exports. Agricultural production fell; infrastructure was systematically destroyed. A year into the occupation, Germany was so worried about a collapse of civil society that it let Britain and the Red Cross distribute food and aid......

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Albania to set up joint customs terminal with Kosovo

TIRANA, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Friday informed about the establishment of a joint customs terminal with Kosovo to facilitate transport of goods, according to the Albanian Telegraphic Agency.
He said that integration of the two markets remain a major challenge, while noting that although many years have passed and the entrepreneurial experience is more than enough, the markets of Kosovo and Albania remain isolated and inaccessible to the producers and trades.
He said that procedures are terrible, long, tedious and very discouraging.
"There is a great barrier between Albania and Kosovo, which hampers interaction and cooperation, and which has artificially removed instead of approaching the two Albanian areas," said the premier.
Rama posed several issues that should be solved immediately. He stressed the fact that it is impossible to move ahead without having a joint customs terminal between Albania and Kosovo.
"The establishment of a common terminal and customs offices is a must to facilitate trade," said Rama. He said that Kosovo's goods to Serbia reach their destination within four hours, while to Albania it takes two days, because of repeated bureaucratic procedures.

Unknown gunmen land from helicopters, attack checkpoint in Donetsk region - militia

Published time: April 26, 2014 17:59
Edited time: April 26, 2014 20:25
A Ukrainian military helicopter flies near the village of Malinivka, east of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine April 25, 2014 (Reuters / Baz Ratner)
A Ukrainian military helicopter flies near the village of Malinivka, east of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine April 25, 2014 (Reuters / Baz Ratner)
Unknown assailants landed in helicopters and attacked a checkpoint in Soledar city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, a militia source told RIA Novosti adding that there is a fight going on.
There is no information on the number of casualties.
Soledar is located about 30 kilometers south east of Slavyansk.
The people’s governor of Donbass region Denis Pushilin confirmed to RT that there is fighting in Soledar.
As the unknown men attacked the checkpoint, the militia was forced to retreat, the source told RIA.
The second checkpoint is preparing for attack he said, adding that there are about 50 activists, many without weapons.
“We cannot send reinforcements from Slavyansk as all [forces] are defending the city," the source stressed.
The militia has blocked the entrances to warehouses storing arms to prevent the National guard forces from confiscationg the weapons, a militia source told RIA.
He added that the warehouses were left over from Soviet times and have in storage only outdated weaponry, such as Mauser, Colts, Degtyarev machine guns, submachine PCA guns but in great amounts.
“Armed men attacked our warehouses storing weapons, we are repelling the attack, there is fighting,” Interfax cites a militia in the people’s self-defense HQ as saying.
Kiev authorities are carrying out a military operation against anti-government militia supporting the federalization of Ukraine in the eastern part of the country.
Kiev said on Friday that “the second stage” of the military operation in Slavyansk has been launched.
Slavyansk is in the control of people’s self-defense forces that are defending the city, repelling the attack of the Kiev military.

Screenshot from
Screenshot from
Kiev authorities are carrying out a military operation against anti-government militia supporting the federalization of Ukraine in the eastern part of the country.
Kiev said on Friday that “the second stage” of the military operation in Slavyansk has been launched. Slavyansk is under thecontrol of people’s self-defense forces that are defending against the Ukrainian armed forces that have set up a military base some 20 kilometers from Slavyansk, RT's stringer, Ukraine-based British journalist Graham Phillips reported on Friday.
The aim is to completely isolate Slavyansk to localize the problem,” the coup-appointed acting head of presidential administration Sergey Pashinsky told media on Friday as cited by RIA.
On Thursday, five self-defense members were reportedly killed and one injured in a gunfight in Slavyansk in a night attack on a militia checkpoint on the outskirts of the city. The incident happened as Kiev authorities sent tanks and armored vehicles against the local population.
In response to the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed Kiev on Thursday saying that the use military force against the civilian population is a serious crime which makes Kiev authorities a “junta”.
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin pointed out in an interview to Rossiya 1 channel on Friday that if the violence in the southeast of Ukraine doesn't stop, Russia will call a special session of the UN Security Council.

Ukraine blames Moscow for 'human shield' detentions in east

SLAVIANSK, Ukraine Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:10pm BST

An armored personnel carrier is seen near a barricade around the state security service building in Slaviansk, April 26, 2014. REUTERS-Gleb Garanich
The self-styled mayor of Slaviansk Vyacheslav Ponomaryov attends a news conference in the mayor's office in Slaviansk April 26, 2014. REUTERS-Gleb Garanich

Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich
(Reuters) - Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine offered on Saturday to release eight captive international observers in a prisoner exchange, as Western governments prepared new sanctions against Moscow.
The pro-Western government in Kiev blamed Russia for what it called the kidnapping on Friday of the monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The separatists said they suspected the observers of spying; Ukraine said they were being used as human shields.
Since Ukrainians toppled their pro-Russian president in February, Russia has annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and massed tens of thousands of troops on the country's eastern border. NATO has responded by sending reinforcements to eastern Europe, in the gravest East-West crisis since the Cold War.
Earlier on Saturday the Group of Seven major economies announced they had agreed to impose more sanctions on Russia, which they believe is bent on destabilising its former Soviet neighbour and possibly grabbing more territory. Diplomats said the United States and the European Union were expected to unveil new punitive action against Russian individuals from Monday.
Russia denies orchestrating a campaign by pro-Moscow militants who have seized control of public buildings across eastern Ukraine. It accuses the Kiev government of whipping up tensions by sending troops to root out the separatists.
The OSCE sent more monitors on Saturday to seek the release of those detained in Slaviansk, a city under the separatists' control. Those being held are from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, de facto mayor of Slaviansk, told reporters: "They were soldiers on our territory without our permission, of course they are prisoners."
He said the separatists were ready to exchange the captured monitors for fellow rebels now in the custody of the Ukrainian authorities.
"Prisoners have always been coins to exchange during times of war. It's an international practice," he said.
Ukraine's state security service said the OSCE observers - part of a German-led military verification mission deployed since early March at Kiev's request - were being held "in inhuman conditions" and that one needed medical help.
A spokeswoman for the Vienna-based organisation, of which Russia is a member, said the OSCE had been in contact with "all sides" since late on Friday but had had no direct contact with the observers.
The Russian foreign ministry said it was working to resolve the crisis, but blamed Kiev for failing to ensure the OSCE mission's safety in "areas where the authorities do not control the situation and where a military operation against residents of their own country has been unleashed".
Russia's Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper released a video interview with a man it identified as Ivan Strelkov, a militia leader in Slaviansk, accused by Ukraine's security services of being an employee of Russian intelligence.
He suggested the monitors might have been using their diplomatic status "to carry out reconnaissance of the resistance positions, for the benefit of the Ukrainian army".
It is standard practice for serving military officers to be seconded to OSCE missions.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed the Ukraine situation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov by telephone on Saturday "with an accent on possible steps to de-escalate the situation," the Russian ministry said.
Steinmeier said Lavrov had offered his backing, which he welcomed.
In a separate call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Russian minister said Ukraine must halt military operations in the southeast of the country in order to defuse the crisis.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Russian military aircraft entered Ukrainian airspace seven times overnight.
"The only reason is to provoke Ukraine ... and to accuse Ukraine of waging war against Russia," the prime minister told reporters before cutting short a visit to Rome.
Washington deployed 150 paratroopers to Lithuania on Saturday. A total of 600 U.S. troops have now arrived in Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states in a bid to reassure nervous NATO allies.
"As threats emerged, we see who our real friends are," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said as she greeted the troops at the Siauliai air base.
Without mentioning Russia, she said the presence of U.S. troops would "repel those who encroach on stability in Europe and peace in the region".
"The numbers are not important. If just one of our guests is harmed, this would mean an open confrontation, not with Lithuania but with the United States of America."
U.S. officials said new sanctions targeting "cronies" of President Vladimir Putin could be unveiled as early as Monday unless Russia moved fast to defuse the crisis.
In a joint statement, G7 leaders said Russia had not taken any concrete steps to implement an accord, signed earlier this month in Geneva, intended to rein in illegal armed groups.
"Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military manoeuvres on Ukraine's border," it said.
"We have now agreed that we will move swiftly to impose additional sanctions on Russia."
But it added: "We underscore that the door remains open to a diplomatic resolution of this crisis."
Senior EU diplomats will meet on Monday to discuss the next steps and are expected to add 15 more names to a list of Russians subject to asset freezes and a travel ban.
Putin acknowledged for the first time this week that sanctions were causing difficulties for Russia, though he said the impact was not "critical".
Standard & Poor's cut Russia's sovereign long-term debt rating on Friday, making it more expensive for the government to borrow money. That forced the central bank to raise its key interest rate to limit a fall in the rouble.
Russian banks have been moving funds out of foreign accounts in anticipation of sanctions.
Russia has threatened to cut off gas to Ukraine, which would have a knock-on effect on customers further west because many pipelines transit the country.
Slovakia said on Saturday it had reached an agreement with Ukraine on opening up limited reverse flow of natural gas from central Europe to Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Donetsk, Ukraine, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Nigel Stephenson and Jason Bush in Moscow, James Mackenzie in Rome, and Madeline Chambers and Sabine Siebold in Berlin; Writing by Christian Lowe and Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

US soldiers arrive in Lithuania to ‘reassure’ NATO allies amid Ukrainian crisis

Published time: April 26, 2014 13:56
American soldiers stand on the tarmac after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
American soldiers stand on the tarmac after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
American troops have arrived in Lithuania for military drills as tensions rise in the region over Ukraine. Russia has voiced its concern over the troop buildup in Eastern Europe as well as to the deployment of NATO ships in the Black Sea.
The Lithuanian government welcomed the arrival of 150 troops at the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base in Siauliai on Saturday, reported Reuters. Referring to the escalating tensions in Ukraine, President Dalia Grybauskaite said “we know in this situation who our real friends are coming to help."
"If any of our guests are injured, it would mean an open confrontation not with Lithuania but with the United States," she added. The group of troops is part of a larger contingent of 600 troops that have been deployed throughout Eastern Europe to reassure NATO allies. Another company of soldiers arrived in Poland on Wednesday and in Latvia on Friday. Troops are also expected to arrive in Estonia on Monday.
"It's a message to anyone who will listen, and the message is that the United States of America will honor its commitments to Lithuania,” Richard Longo, Deputy Commanding General of US Army Europe, told reporters in Siauliai.
According to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry the soldiers will conduct a number of military exercises throughout this year.

US soldiers walk at the airport after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
US soldiers walk at the airport after arriving at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
The US Department of Defense announced the drills on Tuesday, saying they sent a clear message to Moscow.
"If there's a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe," Kirby told reporters. Washington has accused Russia of meddling in the affairs of neighboring Ukraine, which is currently embroiled in a crisis that shows no signs of abating.
Russia denies it has any involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and has alleged that the US is “running the show.” In addition, Moscow has spoken out against the buildup of allied force troops in Eastern Europe, saying their war games will not help to normalize the situation in Ukraine.
“Our concern is caused by an increase of US air force and military personnel in the Baltic, Poland, and also the Alliance's ships in the Black Sea,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, quoting General Valery Gerasimov who spoke with his American counterpart on Friday.
The US has also deployed frigate USS Taylor in the Black Sea, which will shortly be joined by French NATO vessel Dupleix. France will also send four fighter jets to participate in aerial patrols over the Baltics.

Lithuanian soldiers and US soldiers stand in front of an aircraft of the US air force at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
Lithuanian soldiers and US soldiers stand in front of an aircraft of the US air force at the air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26, 2014. (AFP Photo/Petras Malukas)
Moscow has voiced its concern over the Ukrainian government troops that have been deployed in the East of the country as part of an “anti-terror” operation. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 armored carriers and at least 150 artillery pieces have been deployed in the region. At least five people have been killed so far during the Ukrainian operation.
In response to the buildup of troops close to its borders, Shoigu said Russia was “forced” to begin military drills on Thursday.
Moscow does not recognize Kiev’s coup-appointed government and has decried the use of force against Ukrainian civilians in the east of the country.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Greece: Naval Support Activity Souda Bay

Apr. 17, 2014 - 12:38PM   |  
The Navy's joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead arrives in Souda Bay for a scheduled port visit in February.
The Navy's joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead arrives in Souda Bay for a scheduled port visit in February. (Paul Farley/Navy)
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LOCATION: On the northwest coast of the rugged Greek island of Crete, smack in the warm, sunny Mediterranean Sea.
MISSION: This strategically important deepwater port not far from the entrance to the Suez Canal is the permanent home of less than 500 U.S. military personnel. But each year, more than 100,000 troops pass through the harbor and nearby airfield, which have become primary logistics outposts for operations in the Black Sea, the Middle East and Africa. Carriers can dock pierside and EUCOM commanders can put thousands of ship-based Marines on standby. The vast facility, which stretches inland for several square miles, is also used by the Greek navy, a Greek air force fighter wing and, since 2007, a joint NATO training school.
LIFESTYLE: Crete is a wildly popular tourist destination. The resort town of Chania, just a short cab ride from the Navy base, is full of history and culture dating back over 4,000 years. Healthy cuisine, sunny weather, awesome beaches.

Albanian 'killer' found in Glasgow loses extradition fight

Fatjon Kapri Kapri faces a retrial in Albania before three judges
A convicted killer from Albania who was arrested while working in a chip shop in Glasgow has lost a lengthy legal bid to avoid extradition to his homeland.
Fatjon Kapri, 34, went on the run after being sentenced in his absence to 22 years for murdering fellow Albanian, Ylli Pepa, in London in 2001.
Albanian law allows for nationals to be prosecuted for crimes committed abroad.
Appeal judges in Scotland ruled Kapri could be extradited after dismissing claims any retrial would be unfair.
Kapri was alleged to have stabbed Mr Pepa after both men became involved in a fight.
New identity Kapri went on the run after his conviction and was featured on an Interpol wanted listed before being traced to Glasgow in 2010.

Start Quote

The court heard no evidence whatsoever that an ordinary murder trial, or indeed an ordinary criminal trial of any serious offence, would be affected by judicial corruption”
Lord Carloway Appeal court judge
He was found to be living under a false Macedonian identity, working in a chip chop in the city centre.
Kapri began a fight against extradition after the Albanian authorities requested he be returned.
His lawyers argued that corruption was a long-standing and persistent problem in the country's legal system and that a potential violation of his rights to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights should prevent him being sent back.
But judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh rejected his legal challenge and opened up the way for his return to Albania, where he faces a re-trial before three judges.
A hearing on evidence about the legal system in Albania went ahead before the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lady Dorrian and Lord Bracadale.
Lord Carloway said: "The court heard no evidence whatsoever that an ordinary murder trial, or indeed an ordinary criminal trial of any serious offence, would be affected by judicial corruption.
"If corruption exists to a substantial degree in the criminal justice system, it is relative to the prosecutions of influential political figures, organised criminals or their respective friends or families," he said.
Lord Carloway said there would be careful scrutiny by the justice inspectorate and the media.
The judge said: "There would be effectively no prospect of the appellant's trial being compromised when the spotlight of the inspectorate and the media was upon it."

Ukraine helicopter hit by grenade taking off

A Ukraine helicopter has been crippled in a grenade attack as OSCE monitors are feared missing in volatile east

An Ukrainian military helicopter flies near the village of Malinivka, east of Slavyansk
An Ukrainian military helicopter flies near the village of Malinivka, east of Slavyansk Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters
Following the incident there were fears that the situation had taken a sinister new turn when Germany said it feared a group of military observers operating in eastern Ukraine had gone missing. Officials said they could not contact the delegates from the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe.
The Ukrainian military helicopter exploded at a base near the eastern town of Kramatorsk on Friday after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, officials in Kiev said. The helicopter was hit in the fuel tank and exploded.
"An army Mi-8 helicopter has exploded at the Kramatorsk aerodrome," the defence ministry in Kiev said in a statement.
The chopper was on the ground when it was targeted and that the pilot managed to escape but sustained injuries.

Russia wants to start third world war, says Ukraine

Prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk accuses Moscow of acting like a gangster by aiming to occupy Ukraine 'militarily and politically'
A pro-Russian armed man guards the mayor's office in Slavyansk on Friday
A pro-Russian armed man guards the mayor's office in Slavyansk on Friday. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, has accused Russia of wanting to start a third world war by occupying Ukraine "militarily and politically".
"The world has not yet forgotten world war two, but Russia already wants to start world war three," he told his interim cabinet in remarks broadcast live. "Attempts at military conflict in Ukraine will lead to a military conflict in Europe."
In some of the strongest language he has used so far during the crisis, Yatseniuk accused Moscow of acting like a gangster supporting terrorists.
"It is clear that Russia's goal is to wreck the election in Ukraine, remove the pro-western and pro-Ukrainian government and occupy Ukraine politically as well as military," he added.
Both sides have deployed troops close to their frontier.
Yatseniuk took office in February after pro-European protests prompted the Kremlin-backed president to flee to Russia.
Ukraine plans to hold an election on 25 May to replace Viktor Yanukovich, but the Russian-speaking east of the country has been disrupted by pro-Moscow militants who have taken over the city of Slavyansk and public buildings elsewhere, demanding to follow Crimea and be annexed by Russia.
Russia denies involvement in the protests but has denounced the Ukrainian government, which it says is illegitimate and backed by Ukrainian nationalists it describes as fascists, and has threatened to step in to protect ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine.
Yatseniuk called on Moscow to fulfil its obligations to persuade activists in eastern Ukraine to lay down arms under a four-way agreement signed last week in Geneva by the two governments, as well as Ukraine's US and EU allies.
"Russia's support for terrorists and bandits who torture peaceful citizens is an international crime. It is a crime against humanity," added the prime minister.
Ukraine's state security service has accused Russian intelligence officers operating in Ukraine, and the separatist leader in Slavyansk, of involvement in the torture and murder of a local councillor from Yatseniuk's Batkivshchyna (fatherland) party.
He said Kiev was still waiting for a response to an official request for details of Russian military exercises on the border. It made the request through Europe's OSCE security body and set a deadline of Saturday.
Yatseniuk said: "If the United States, the European Union and the entire international community continues to be united and act together to compel Russia to fulfil its obligations, then we will maintain the peace, stability and international security system that Russia wants to destroy."

Helicopter explodes at Kramatorsk airfield in eastern Ukraine (VIDEOS)

Published time: April 25, 2014 09:21
Edited time: April 25, 2014 13:04
Still from YouTube video/NewCrimea
Still from YouTube video/NewCrimea
“Our people approached the airfield, shot a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in the direction of the helicopter. There was an explosion. [Kiev] militants started shooting and we [protesters] retreated,” a representative from the Kramatorsk self-defence troops told RIA Novosti.
А video posted online shows a loud explosion at the site where a plume of smoke is seen. The smoke was swiftly followed by another explosion. Witnesses say fire was also seen in the area of the blast.

Still from YouTube video/NewCrimea
Still from YouTube video/NewCrimea
The blowing up of the helicopter has also been confirmed by Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU.
Earlier, reports from, said several explosions took place at about 11am local time (09:00 GMT). The explosions were followed by a fire and smoke, the news portal added.
“An Mi-8 helicopter has exploded at Kramatorsk airfield, with no victims reported. The pilot managed to jump [from the plane],” Dmitry Tyimchyuk, the head of the Center for War-Political Investigations told news. “The preliminary theory is that the helicopter caught fire during a warm-up before a flight.”

Earlier, the representatives of the Kramatorsk Interior Ministry said anti-government protesters were behind the explosions. The ministry didn’t report any victims.
However, local residents say that at least three people died in the explosions. They say the blast took place when the Ukrainian military was arming the helicopter.
According to SBU General Vasily Krutov, the helicopter was targeted by a sniper, who shot the fuel tank. He added that the pilot was injured in the incident.

KLA graffiti appear on gate of Serb Orthodox monastery

GRAČANICA -- A graffiti reading "UCK" - Albanian for "KLA", the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army - appeared on the gate of the Visoki Dečani Monastery early on Friday.
A file photo of the Dečani monastery (
A file photo of the Dečani monastery (
This is according to a statement issued by the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).
The 14th century Serbian monastery is located in western Kosovo and is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

"This is the latest in a series of similar provocations by Albanian extremists who previously wrote messages containing hate speech on the church wall in Đakovica, after which similar writings appeared on the facades of Serb houses in Orahovac," the Eparchy said.

This time, extremists wrote on the very gate of the Visoki Dečani Monastery, only a dozen metres from the KFOR's Italian checkpoint, according to the statement.

The Eparchy of Raška and Prizren noted that this act constitutes an open threat to the Visoki Dečani Monastery and its brotherhood.

The Eparchy recalled that armed Albanian extremists attacked the monastery on four occasions "in the course of the so-called 15 years of international peace in Kosovo and Metohija," and the monastery brotherhood received threats several times.

The Eparchy noted that the latest threat and provocation is "a consequence of the nationalist rhetoric which has been spreading through the local Albanian-language media against the monastery where monks provided assistance to Albanian refugees and refugees of other ethnicities during the war."

The latest incident is also an indicator that the safety of holy sites in Kosovo and Metohija is still in jeopardy, even when guarded by KFOR, the Eparchy said.

Abbot Archimandrite Sava of Visoki Dečani wrote to international representatives about the latest incident and called on them to reinforce protection measures at the monastery which has been on UNESCO list since 2005.

"Although such provocations pose jeopardy for the safety of monks and Orthodox believers, as well as numerous tourists from around the world, they are most detrimental to Kosovo which remains the only area in Europe where Christian monuments and holy sites are still in jeopardy," the Eparchy noted.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tony Blair urges British intervention against Islamic extremists around the world

The former PM believes Western 'engagement' needs to go beyond the political

Whitehall Editor
In a significant and controversial intervention, the former Prime Minister will suggest that, as a result of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, governments in Europe and America have become “curiously reluctant to acknowledge” Islamic extremism.
This unwillingness to confront Islamism risks the 21st century being characterised by “conflict between people of different cultures”, he will warn.
Mr Blair will also call for Europe and America to put aside their differences with Russia and China and “co-operate” to fight what he describes as the “radicalised and politicised view of Islam” that is threatening their collective interests. Mr Blair is due to make his remarks in a speech in London. But despite carrying significance because of his role as Middle East peace envoy they are unlikely to be well received in Downing Street or Washington.
Just last week the Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Britain should “learn the lessons from history” and “cultivate influence” rather than always relying on hard power “that jars”.
But Mr Blair, whose political legacy has been tainted by his role in the US-led invasion of Iraq, is understood to be increasingly concerned by the failure of Britain and other Western countries effectively to tackle what he believes to be the growing threat of radical Islam – that combines politics with religion and opposes pluralistic societies.
While he does not specifically mention military intervention he makes clear that he believes Western “engagement” needs to go beyond the political.
“When we look at the Middle East and beyond it to Pakistan or Iran and elsewhere, it isn’t just a vast unfathomable mess with no end in sight and no one worthy of our support,” he will say.
“It is in fact a struggle in which our own strategic interests are intimately involved; where there are indeed people we should support if only that majority were mobilised, organised and helped.
“Engagement and commitment are words easy to use. But they only count when they come at a cost. There is no engagement that doesn’t involve putting yourself out there. There is no commitment that doesn’t mean taking a risk.”
He goes on to add that the West should also be prepared to back “revolution” in countries, such as Iran, which are run by radical Islamic regimes. “Where there has been revolution, we should be on the side of those who support those principles and opposed to those who would thwart them,” he will say.
“Where there has not been revolution, we should support the steady evolution towards them [those principles].”
In a swipe at those who opposed greater military intervention in Syria Mr Blair will say the West has to “take sides” to protect its own interests. “We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time,” he will say.
“We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent. And above all, we have to commit. We have to engage.”
Mr Blair also implicitly criticises regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – which are nominally pro-Western but often tolerate the preaching and teachings of radical Islam.
“We spend billions of dollars on security arrangements and on defence to protect ourselves against the consequences of an ideology that is being advocated in the formal and informal school systems of the very countries with whom we have security and defence relationships,” he will say.
Mr Blair will warn that unless these problems are tackled worse will come.
“The threat of this radical Islam is not abating,” he will say. “This struggle between what we may call the open-minded and the closed-minded is at the heart of whether the 21st century turns in the direction of peaceful co-existence or conflict between people of different cultures.”
A Downing Street spokesman declined to comment on Mr Blair’s speech.

US Airborne Lands in Eastern Europe as Ukraine Tensions Rise

First company-sized contingent of about 150 U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Italy march as they arrive to participate in training exercises with the Polish army in Swidwin, Poland, April 23, 2014.
First company-sized contingent of about 150 U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Italy march as they arrive to participate in training exercises with the Polish army in Swidwin, Poland, April 23, 2014.
VOA News
U.S. Army paratroopers landed Wednesday in Poland, at the start of military maneuvers aimed at easing anxieties in allied eastern European countries alarmed at Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

The Pentagon said the exercises, slated to last about a month, initially involve about 600 troops, including 150 members of an airborne combat team based in Italy. Additional units are set for deployment in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The troop landing comes one day after Ukraine scrapped a truce and resumed its push against armed pro-Russian separatists occupying buildings in several Ukrainian cities near the Russian border.  Moscow responded to the move with a warning that it will retaliate, if the interests of Russian-speaking citizens in the region come under attack.

Ukraine's decision to resume what it calls "anti-terrorist" operations came after the discovery of two bodies near the rebel-controlled city of Slovyansk.

One of the victims was identified Tuesday as a local member of acting Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov’s political party whose body was said to show signs of torture.

Truce ended

Ukraine has formally called off an Easter truce with pro-Russian separatists in the country's east and announced "anti-terrorist operations" are on again.

First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema told reporters during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday that "appropriate steps" will be taken and that results will be seen shortly.

Yarema said Ukraine has received assurances from the United States that it would not be left alone to face Russian aggression. He expressed hope that the U.S. support will be more substantive.

Ukraine's interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has already ordered security forces to resume "anti-terrorist" operations in eastern Ukraine. His order came just hours after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden ended a two-day trip to Kiyv Tuesday.

Russia 'forced' to launch military drills near border in response to Ukraine op - Moscow

Published time: April 24, 2014 12:53
Edited time: April 24, 2014 16:14
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu (Reuters / Michael Klimentyev)
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu (Reuters / Michael Klimentyev)
Russia has begun extensive military exercises near the Ukrainian border following the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine.
“The order to use force against civilians has already been given, and if this military machine is not stopped, the amount of casualties will only grow,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said during an official meeting in Moscow.
“War games by NATO in Poland and the Baltic states are also not helping the normalization of the situation. We are forced to react to the situation.”
Shoigu said that the drills involve march and deployment maneuvers by forces in the southern and western military districts, and separate Air Force exercises.
Shoigu said that 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 armored carriers and at least 150 artillery pieces are involved in the operation against anti-Kiev activists.
“National guard units and Right Sector extremists are fighting against the peaceful population, as well as a volunteer Donbass ‘anti-terrorist’ unit. Also security and internal forces transferred to Lugansk and Donetsk from other areas of the country are suppressing dissent,” he said.
Shoigu added that Ukrainian sabotage units had been deployed near the Russian border.

RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo
RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo
In contrast, he said that the pro-Russian self-defense units number about 2,000 and have about 100 guns between them, which have mostly been taken from local police stations.
"It's not an evenly matched confrontation," Shoigu said.
The coup-imposed Ukrainian acting president, Aleksandr Turchinov, has demanded that Russia pull back its troops back from the Ukrainian border, calling the ongoing Russian military exercises “blackmail.”
In a brief address, Turchinov claimed that “terrorists have crossed the border… taking hostages and killing the patriots of Ukraine.” He also called for the Russian government “to stop interfering into the internal affairs of our country.”
The heaviest fighting on Thursday took place in Slavyansk, with the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reporting the deaths of at least five "terrorists."
NATO has estimated that Russia has massed at least 40,000 troops near its border with Ukraine. Moscow has not denied that it has moved troops to the region, but said that its internal troop movements are its own prerogative.

Soldiers from the first company-sized contingent of about 150 U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Italy walk after unpacking as they arrive to participate in training exercises with the Polish army in Swidwin, northern west Poland April 23, 2014 (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)
Soldiers from the first company-sized contingent of about 150 U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Italy walk after unpacking as they arrive to participate in training exercises with the Polish army in Swidwin, northern west Poland April 23, 2014 (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)
NATO began military exercises in Poland on Wednesday, with more scheduled to take place in the Baltic states next week. So far, 150 US paratroopers have arrived in the country from their stationary base in Italy, with 450 more set to join them.
Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, has also asked NATO to deploy 10,000 troops in his country.
On Wednesday, the frigate USS Taylor became the latest US ship to enter the Black Sea on a rotating deployment. NATO has dispatched a separate rapid reaction force to the Baltic.

Does Putin Want a War?

Does Vladimir Putin want war with Ukraine? Given Moscow’s failure to help implement the April 17 Geneva statement and its bellicose tone, it is increasingly difficult to escape that conclusion. The United States and Europe need to apply sterner sanctions immediately if they hope to have any chance of dissuading Mr. Putin from more aggressive action.

Russia illegally occupied Crimea by force in March. The Kremlin, however, wants more than that peninsula. It seeks a weak and compliant Ukrainian neighbor, a state that will defer to Moscow and not develop a significant relationship with the European Union.
Since annexing Crimea, Moscow has done nothing to defuse tensions. It has instead sought to destabilize the interim government in Kyiv, piling on economic pressure and keeping tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border. The Kremlin has supported—by all appearances, with Russian special forces personnel—armed seizures of government buildings in eastern Ukraine. In these operations, local politicians and reporters have disappeared, and at least one was murdered.
The April 17 meeting of the U.S., Russian, Ukrainian and European Union foreign ministers offered a chance for a diplomatic solution. Little appears to have come of it. One week later, Russia has done nothing to get illegal armed groups in cities such as Donetsk or Slavyansk to disarm or evacuate the buildings that they occupy. Indeed, the Kremlin’s agreement to the statement seems to have been to delay further sanctions from the West while continuing to run an insurgency in Ukraine’s east.
Mr. Putin last week denied Russian soldiers are present in the buildings. His denial must be dismissed. It came in the same telethon in which he admitted that Russian troops had seized Crimea—in contrast to his March 4 press conference, in which he attributed that seizure to “local militia” and denied the involvement of Russian soldiers.
If Moscow wanted to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine’s east, it clearly could have done so. Instead, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov threatens military action if the Ukrainian government moves to secure its own cities. It almost appears that Russia wants a pretext to use force.
A Russian military invasion of eastern Ukraine would differ greatly from the Crimea operation. The Ukrainian military may be under-resourced and out-gunned, but it would fight. Some civilians would take up arms. Recent polls show that an overwhelming number of people in eastern Ukraine do not want the Russian army. It could be ugly and bloody.
In that case, the West almost certainly would slap harsher sanctions on Russia. But they would come too late to help Ukraine or prevent a total crash in West-Russia relations.
Some U.S. and EU sanctions, focused on individual Russians and mostly applied in the aftermath of the March annexation of Crimea, are in effect. They have had some impact. According to the Russian finance minister, Russia’s economy this year may experience zero growth while capital flight in the first quarter reached $50 billion. The Russian Central Bank has burned through billions of dollars defending the ruble.
But the sanctions thus far have failed in their primary purpose. Mr. Putin’s aggression against Ukraine continues. He apparently calculates that, by creating facts on the ground “covertly,” he can ensure a weaker Western response that he can weather.
If Washington and Brussels wish to change that calculation, they must now apply additional and more meaningful sanctions.
First, the United States and European Union should greatly expand the list of individual Russians—inside and outside of government—targeted for visa and financial sanctions. Sanctions should apply to family members as well.
Second, the West should sanction key parts of the Russian economy, beginning with its financial sector. It should target at least several Russian financial institutions. The European Union, particularly Britain, must join in, with the aim of halting international credit to Russian entities. That would further stress the slowing Russian economy.
Third, the United States and European Union should block their energy companies from new investments to develop oil and gas fields in Russia. With Moscow dependent on oil and gas sales for seventy percent of its export earnings, such a measure would send shudders through the Russian energy sector.
Since coming to power in 2000, Mr. Putin has offered Russian citizens a trade-off: diminished individual political space in return for economic growth and rising living standards. The West should undermine his ability to deliver on the economic side. Mr. Putin may retaliate, but the combined economies of the United States and European Union dwarf Russia’s by a factor of well over ten to one.
This is a menu of serious actions. Mr. Putin’s continuing aggression against Ukraine calls for a serious response. A failure to act now will allow him to believe that he has a free hand regarding Ukraine. That is not in Ukraine’s interest, or the West’s.
Steven Pifer was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000 and is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. John Herbst was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006 and directs the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University. William Taylor was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 and is vice president for the Middle East and Africa at the United States Institute of peace.

Ukraine crisis: Obama warns Russia that more sanctions are 'teed up'

Men wearing military fatigues in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk 
Warning comes as US accuses Moscow of failing to abide by Geneva pact to defuse tensions
Link to video: Russia says US is 'running the show' in Ukraine
Barack Obama has said Russia is failing to respect the Geneva agreement to defuse tensions in Ukraine and the US has fresh sanctions "teed up" to impose on Moscow.
Under last week's accord struck by Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU, militias in Ukraine were to disarm and give up control of seized state property. But law and order has deteriorated rapidly in parts of eastern Ukraine as Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of failing to follow through on the Geneva accord.
"So far at least we have seen them not abide by the spirit or the letter of the agreement in Geneva," Obama said in Tokyo at the start of a tour of Asia. "Instead we continue to see malicious, armed men taking over buildings, harassing folks who are disagreeing with them, destabilising the region and we haven't seen Russia step out and discouraging it."
If Russia did not play its part, he said, there would be "consequences and we will ramp up further sanctions".
His comments came as the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, sounded a more conciliatory note and said Moscow expected the Geneva accords to "be implemented in practical actions in the near future".
On Wednesday, Lavrov accused the US of "running the show" in Ukraine after a visit to Kiev by Joe Biden, the US vice-president, and said Russia would respond if attacked. Obama said new sanctions would come into force in a matter of days, not weeks, if the agreement was not implemented but acknowledged that the US needed to secure the support of allies to ensure additional economic pressure was evenly applied.
He conceded that new sanctions may not change the calculations of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. "There are some things the United States can do alone but ultimately it's going to have to be a joint effort, a collective effort," Obama said during a press conference with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
The pending penalties on Russia are expected to target wealthy individuals in Putin's inner circle, as well as the entities they oversee. Although the US has also threatened to levy potentially crippling sanctions on key Russian industries including its energy sector, officials say they plan to employ those tougher penalties only if Russia moves military forces into Ukraine.
The US and Europe have already issued asset freezes and visa bans targeting Russian and Ukrainian officials in response to the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea. Obama's comments underline the difficulties he faces in devising a united western response to Russia, with Europe dependent on Russian gas supplies.

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Exclusive: Meet the Pro-Russian Separatists of Eastern Ukraine

Alexander Mozhaev, a pro-Russian separatist whose photograph has appeared in numerous publications in recent days and who says he is not employed by the Russian state, stands with fellow separatists in the town of Slavyansk on April 20.
Alexander Mozhaev, a pro-Russian separatist whose photograph has appeared in numerous publications in recent days and who says he is not employed by the Russian state, stands with fellow separatists in the town of Slavyansk on April 20 Maxim Dondyuk

Ukraine has alleged that Russian forces are operating in the east. But one man tells TIME that they do not work for the Russian government

Spend a few days riding around the separatist badlands of eastern Ukraine, and you’d have a good chance of running into Alexander Mozhaev, the fighter suspected of being a Russian government operative. He’s hard to miss, and not just because photographs of him — or claiming to be of him — have been made available by the Ukrainian government in recent days. His beard, which juts out of his face like a spade, has made him something of a mascot for the local separatists.
Perhaps aptly, Mozhaev’s nickname among them is Babay, the Russian word for bogeyman, which is exactly what the Ukrainian government has tried to make him. Over the past week, authorities in Kiev have released photographs that purport to prove that Mozhaev is an agent of the Russian military intelligence service known as GRU, and they have shared that information with senior Western diplomats and some reporters. This claim has been at the center of their narrative that Russian special forces, controlled by the Kremlin, have taken over towns in the Donbass, the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine.
But Mozhaev, a mild-mannered fighter with a chest like a barrel, says he only wishes that were true, and so do many of the people in the separatist-controlled towns that dot this region. If Russian forces had indeed taken over eastern Ukraine, as they did in Crimea last month, the streets of the separatist stronghold of Slavyansk would probably not be nearly as lawless as they have become in recent days. On the ground, the conflict in this town of 120,000 feels far more erratic and dangerous than the Russian occupation of Crimea, where a sense of order largely prevailed, in part because of the presence of disciplined and professional Russian troops. The ranks of the so-called “green men” who are running Slavyansk, in contrast to those troops, appear to be made up mostly of war veterans, itinerant pro-Russian nationalists and ethnic Cossacks from across the former Soviet Union. Fitting neatly into all these categories is Mozhaev, a Russian citizen, whose fellow fighters are now armed not only with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but also tanks and armored vehicles that they have seized from the Ukrainian army.
Mozhaev and his comrades took control of Slavyansk about a week ago. But over the past few days there has been no evident sign that they are receiving material support from Russia. Their foot soldiers have been so short on fuel that they have asked journalists to bring them gasoline in exchange for granting interviews, saying they don’t have enough fuel to go on patrols.
Their leader, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, a soap manufacturer who took the title of “people’s mayor” after seizing power, has pleaded for assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but has apparently been ignored. “We need guns, you understand? We’re running out of everything but spirit,” he tells TIME. His militia force, he admits, is made up partly of volunteers who have come from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other parts of the former Soviet Union. But Kiev’s cries of a separatist insurgency fueled with money, weapons and troops from the Russian government look out of sync with the reality in Slavyansk.
No one embodies that disconnect quite like Mozhaev. In trying to link him to Russia’s GRU special forces, the government in Kiev has offered two blurry photos as evidence. One of them, allegedly taken during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, shows a bearded man wearing the GRU insignia — a black bat with its wings spanning the globe — on the shoulder of his uniform. The second photo, taken this year in eastern Ukraine, shows Mozhaev dressed in camouflage among his fellow separatists. Kiev says the two photos are of the same man. Mozhaev finds that slightly flattering but altogether false.

Mozhaev talks with TIME's Berlin Correspondent, Simon Shuster, in the town of Kramatorsk on April 21.
Mozhaev talks with TIME correspondent Simon Shuster in the town of Kramatorsk on April 21 Maxim Dondyuk
When TIME tracked him down on Monday night, Mozhaev and his men had just finished taking over the local headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, in the town of Kramatorsk, a short drive from their base of operations in Slavyansk. Having met no resistance at the SBU that evening, he and his men were riding around Kramatorsk in a dark green van, which looked like a windowless, Soviet version of an old VW Camper. The vehicle, whose fender had been stenciled with the words People’s Militia of the Donbass, disgorged at least 10 heavily armed passengers in mismatching camouflage uniforms.

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