Saturday, March 29, 2008

"As a simple monk..."

His Holiness Dalai Lama has a very good website of his own on On 28 March he appealed to the Chinese for stopping the violence in Tibet. But before jumping to it I'd like to make a point of him writing on how to achieve nothing more or less than the World Peace.

He is reminding the mankind we should take responsibility. In the beginning of his essay about Peace, "A Human Approach" he is wondering what has gone wrong – and just telling the scientific concept is not doing much good in this field (either):

Science and technology have worked wonders in many fields, but the basic human problems remain. There is unprecedented literacy, yet this universal education does not seem to have fostered goodness, but only mental restlessness and discontent instead. There is no doubt about the increase in our material progress and technology, but somehow this is not sufficient as we have not yet succeeded in bringing about peace and happiness or in overcoming suffering.

* * * * *
An Appeal to the Chinese People (28 March, 2008)

Today, I extend heartfelt greetings to my Chinese brothers and sisters around the world, particularly to those in the People’s Republic of China. In the light of the recent developments in Tibet, I would like to share with you my thoughts concerning relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, and make a personal appeal to all of you.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events in Tibet. I am aware that some Chinese have also died. I feel for the victims and their families and pray for them. The recent unrest has clearly demonstrated the gravity of the situation in Tibet and the urgent need to seek a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution through dialogue. Even at this juncture I have expressed my willingness to the Chinese authorities to work together to bring about peace and stability.

Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek Tibet’s separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. On the contrary my commitment has always been to find a genuine solution to the problem of Tibet that ensures the long-term interests of both Chinese and Tibetans. My primary concern, as I have repeated time and again, is to ensure the survival of the Tibetan people’s distinctive culture, language and identity. As a simple monk who strives to live his daily life according to Buddhist precepts, I assure you of the sincerity of my personal motivation.

-- [Then His Holiness wrote about China conquering Tibet, and the recent history of the exile of the Tibetan people.]

This year, the Chinese people are proudly and eagerly awaiting the opening of the Olympic Games. I have, from the start, supported Beijing’s being awarded the opportunity to host the Games. My position remains unchanged. China has the world’s largest population, a long history and an extremely rich civilization. Today, due to her impressive economic progress, she is emerging as a great power. This is certainly to be welcomed. But China also needs to earn the respect and esteem of the global community through the establishment of an open and harmonious society based on the principles of transparency, freedom, and the rule of law. For example, to this day victims of the Tiananmen Square tragedy that adversely affected the lives of so many Chinese citizens have received neither just redress nor any official response. Similarly, when thousands of ordinary Chinese in rural areas suffer injustice at the hands of exploitative and corrupt local officials, their legitimate complaints are either ignored or met with aggression. I express these concerns both as a fellow human being and as someone who is prepared to consider himself a member of the large family that is the People’s Republic of China. In this respect, I appreciate and support President Hu Jintao’s policy of creating a “harmonious society”, but this can only arise on the basis of mutual trust and an atmosphere of freedom, including freedom of speech and the rule of law. I strongly believe that if these values are embraced, many important problems relating to minority nationalities can be resolved, such as the issue of Tibet, as well as Eastern Turkistan, and Inner Mongolia, where the native people now constitute only 20% of a total population of 24 million.
Chinese brothers and sisters – wherever you may be – with deep concern I appeal to you to help dispel the misunderstandings between our two communities. Moreover, I appeal to you to help us find a peaceful, lasting solution to the problem of Tibet through dialogue in the spirit of understanding and accommodation.

With my prayers,

The Dalai Lama

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Please see the website of His Holiness and read more of his texts. You want some mind-training? Excellent, please try here. He is also webcasting, here.

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The following link is to the website of Tibet Foundation, You can also provide the Tibetan children with school meals through this site.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What an insult!

This is hilarious. I mentioned this the other day:

On 21 March 2008, some members of the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP) made a snowman outside the regional prosecutor’s office in Nizhny Novgorod.

The nine opposition activists hung a sign on the snowman reading “The Biggest Extremist”.

The chief of local police came out and tore the sign, saying the opposition activists had “insulted the snowman”. The police then arrested five of the activists. Local NBP activists will file a formal complaint for unlawful detention against the chief of police.

I think it was the police who insulted the snowman, don't you agree? And soon at least prosecutors are busy with work.

According to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Article 1,
everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels, and

Article 6.b provides that everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Unfortunately snowmen do not have these rights – no, in Russia they certainly don't.

Friday, March 21, 2008


All of these people here are part of the demo. Life outside them is moving on, but they are out of it for five minutes.

On Thursday, 19 March, there was a new kind of demonstration in the centre of Helsinki. New to us, at least. People "froze", stood completely still in various positions, by Mannerheimintie, in a very busy spot, but so loosely others not being part of this work of art were able to walk by and between the frozen men, women and kids.

See the video I shot:

* * *

Two journalists from Dagestan have been killed, with extreme violence, torture. Both were famous correspondents, specialised in Caucasus.

Tension is escalating in Nizhny Novgorod. Human rights activists there are afraid there will be some kind of a juridical show, putting them as examples for the rest of the country: "See, if you raise your voice you'll be put to the camp, too".

This does not look good.

Snowman causing arrests in Nizhny Novgorod

Let me introduce you my pal "Frosty". I will carry him outside the Soviet Embassy tonight.

(Based on an update from Nizhny Novgorod. You can also look for more updates on the web site of Finnish-Russian Civic Forum,

Today, on 21 March 2008, members of the banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP) made a snowman outside the regional prosecutor’s office in Nizhny Novgorod. The nine opposition activists hung a sign on the snowman reading “The Biggest Extremist”.

The chief of local police came out and tore up the sign, saying the opposition activists had “insulted the snowman”. The police then arrested five of the activists. Local NBP activists will file a formal complaint for unlawful detention against the chief of police.

Yesterday, police in Nizhny Novgorod and neighbouring Arzamas raided the homes of 17 NBP activists in connection with a criminal investigation under Article 282 (”Extremism”) of the Criminal Code. The police also raided the offices of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Update on Nizhny. The police harassing human rights activists.

Dear Readers

The following text is an update written by Oksana Chelysheva. Please also take a look at the previous post on IStori.

More about this in Russian on the Kasparov website,


This morning, on March 20, 2008, a new wave of searches were carried out by the police in Nizhny Novgorod city and Arzamas town located in the region.

The police raided the offices of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation for the Promotion of Tolerance. Then they confiscated all the computers at the offices. Afterwards the office was closed and sealed.

The police have also confiscated a mobile phone of Stanislaw (Stas) Dmitrievsky, a member of the board of the Foundation and the chair of the Finland-registered Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.

Besides it, since early morning the investigatory committee has been conducting searches in the private flats of some other people associated with the Other Russia movement. Searches are being carried out in flats belonging to Ilya Shamazov, Yury Staroverov, Evgeniy Lygin, Elena Evdokimova, Ekaterina Bunicheva and Igor Voronin in Nizhny Novgorod, and Dmitri Iisusov and Maxim Baganov in Arzamas. These people have been active in the Other Russia movement, and in a most peaceful way. As far as I know, there has been no criminal elements whatsoever in their activities.

Shamazov, Evdokimova and Staroverov are staff members of the Foundation to Promote Tolerance. That is a Russian NGO, established to continue programs of the banned Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.

When the search in Baganov's flat was over, it became known that a criminal case has been opened under article 282.2 of the Criminal Code. Baganov has been summoned to the interrogation at 3.30 pm today. The police has confiscated his passport.

Stas Dmitrievskiy has gone to the Investigatory Committee to clarify the situation with mass searches. When I [Oksana Chelysheva, Istori reminding] managed to reach him after he returned from the regional prosecutor's office to the premises of the Nizhny Novgorod Committee against Torture, Dmitrievskiy gave the following explanation of his visit there.

According to Dmitrievsky, "the motion to search the office of the Foundation to Promote Tolerance was signed by Kozitsyn Vladimir Ivanovich, a chief investigator at the Regional Prosecutor's office. It has become known that an investigatory group has been established at the regional Prosecutor's office. All the confiscated stuff is being taken there. The staff of district prosecutors' offices is involved in these activities."

Stas Dmitrievsky discussed with Kozitsyn. In Stas's opinion, Kozitsyn was trying to pretend he didn't understand what Foundation Stas was speaking about. After long discussion with his chiefs, Kozitsyn agreed to talk to Stas. Stas feels that the prosecutor's office are aware of the likely international scandal.

The Foundation was developing the project initiated by the Russian-Chechen friendship society on application of the international law to the assessment of the war conflict in Chechnya. Kozitsyn has refused to summon Dmitrievskiy for the interrogation.

We have to remind that a number of people associated with the Other Russia in Nizhny Novgorod were interrogated as witnesses on another criminal case on alleged counterfeit software. The case was opened in October 2007 against the Foundation to Promote Tolerance, chaired by me, Oksana Chelysheva. The prosecutors also summoned former staff people who have earlier stopped working with the Foundation.

Oksana Chelysheva

And, she also added this: "we had been followed everywhere by plain-clothed policemen (up to six) for some three days. They were demonstrating their interest to our visits to banks as we had to withdraw money in cash. It is obvious that all the phones are being tapped."

Serious and frightening situation in Nizhny Novgorod

The police has raided the office of the Human rights activists in Nizny Novgorod. Again. They have also interrogated people closely or not-so-closely connected to the activists, asking questions like where do they get the money etc.

(Needless for me to say, but I will say this anyway: ALL the money – which is not much, by the way – is coming from public sources, like other NGO's.)

Edit: SUPPOSABLY some activists are detained or arrested. Difficult to say yet, as some telephones have been confiscated and many people are out of reach. Those who have reached each other are desperately looking for other colleagues and friends.

The organisations the activists and workers of which are targeted are the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation for Promoting Tolerance and Russian-Chechen Friendship Society.

Members of these organisations are scared. They are also totally unable to work, as the police has sealed the office. No-one can get in.

IStori will publish an update here, once I get more information from the spot.

Do not play with the Omon. This demonstration took pleace in Moscow. But there were marches like this in Nizhny, too. And likewise, Omon stopped everything.

Day before yesterday I asked Oksana Chelysheva, the chair of Foundation for Promoting Tolerance if she thinks Medvedev will be an easier guy compared to Putin. Vice versa, she said: "Medvedev admires Putin. And, Medvedev is even more worried about his status as a leader than Putin. So that makes him scarier. Things will get even worse."

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To get more background information, please see the posts I have labeled under the tag "Russia".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn"

The Romans conquered Britain, too.

Recently I have

a) been writing like a dog (but I'm not sure if they write. Have never had any. Hopefully they do, and a lot, because otherwise this saying is not at all correct). And also I have

b) tried to cope with Miss Funnybunny's tantrums. She has a strong will, and if Mr HP or I, either one of us is away or even absent-minded, for a longer period of time ("longer period" = one evening), she really seems upset and demanding! But this is what raising a kid is about, I know, I know... I should add I have

c) heard pretty incredible but unfortunately true stories from Russia, and I will update them by posting some of them here, too. Did you know this Medvedev is as bad as Putin, or even worse? So it really seems. But I'll get back to this. And, as usual,

d) visited amazing places in Helsinki (= will tell you more about this, too). Do not miss the fact that I have

e) planned my new trips, bought plane tickets, etc: London in April, Oslo in May, Vienna in June and Frankfurt in October. At least these. This list must include the fact that I have

f) visited Tallinn very briefly. Next time I have to stay there at least for two days and stay overnight, of course. Just because that town is so nice and interesting. The more you see, the more you want to discover. And, soon I will

g) go to a publishing party of a book written by two friends of mine. The book is a quiz on Ice Hockey. The National season is about to end soon, and the Hockey World Cup games will take place in May in Canada. Exciting.

But all the above were just excuses for not having updated this for a week. The text below is the real topic of today's blog post:

Robert Fisk: The only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Five years on, and still we have not learnt. With each anniversary, the steps crumble beneath our feet, the stones ever more cracked, the sand ever finer. Five years of catastrophe in Iraq and I think of Churchill, who in the end called Palestine a "hell-disaster".

But we have used these parallels before and they have drifted away in the Tigris breeze. Iraq is swamped in blood. Yet what is the state of our remorse? Why, we will have a public inquiry – but not yet! If only inadequacy was our only sin.

Today, we are engaged in a fruitless debate. What went wrong? How did the people – the senatus populusque Romanus of our modern world – not rise up in rebellion when told the lies about weapons of mass destruction, about Saddam's links with Osama bin Laden and 11 September? How did we let it happen? And how come we didn't plan for the aftermath of war?


Well, well. I hope Mr Fisk (='fish' in Swedish, by the way) understands I tried to speak up and did not think for a moment the war would solve anything. And I was not against the deadly plot (cooked up by Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc - Blair?) alone, there were zillions of people marching against the predicted war in several countries.

As a matter of fact, I happened to be protesting in London, too, at the time of the book fair, when the Parliament was making a decision on joining the attack, and thousands of people were shouting and demonstrating outside Whitehall.

As a counteract "against terrorism" war is the most stupid method. As if killing thousands of people – most of whom are civilians – would do any good. Like, to show an example? No way.

See the Body Count.

PLEASE DO read the rest of the article here, on the Independent web site.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cast a vote. Leg men, be aware.

Like many of her fellow contestants she says her dream job is any job.

The web voting for Miss Landmine Angola is open until April 3, 2008.

I couldn't help feeling slightly uncomfortable with this at first. Raising awareness and questioning old concepts is great - but organising a beauty contest; is that a new concept? Even if the pageants are far from mainstream beauty queens. Of course I think ladies can be beautiful even without a leg or two. But it does not lead to the conclusion that ladies – in general, anywhere – should be beautiful.

On the website they say this campaign is to

* Question established concepts of physical perfection.
* Challenge old and ingrown concepts of cultural cooperation.
* Celebrate true beauty.
* Replace the passive term 'Victim' with the active term 'Survivor'.

Among other things. There you can also find quite a lot of information on landmines and campaigns against them.

Ok, fine. Go, girls, go!

(I got the hint from Ajatusten Rekolanoja. Thanks!)

Just thinking

According to the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat, Ria Novosti has run a story on Putin saying "things [under Medvedev's administration] are not going to get any different" - he was referring to relations between Russia and foreign countries.

Excuse me, but how can Putin predict that? He's a fortune-teller or what. Medvedev is the president, isn't he?

Ooops, I forgot the presidency does not count if this pompous little dictator still has an office.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Russian "elections". Food chain in Kremlin. No, sorry, in Everglades.

Medvedev and Putin are hitting the road. New positions set for new adventures.

I have been thinking about something cunning to say about the Russian elections, but so far I can't think of or find anything worth posting. Except this:

Putin goes to a restaurant with Medvedev and orders a steak. The waiter asks, "And what about the vegetable?" Putin answers, "The vegetable will have steak too."

Thanks, Time.

* * * * *

But the most interesting piece of news I have so far heard today was two predators fighting, a python and an alligator, and the snake exploded. Really.
(Just a quick teaser.)

Snake bursts after gobbling gator. The predators died in the clash.

An unusual clash between a 6-foot (1.8m) alligator and a 13-foot (3.9m) python has left two of the deadliest predators dead in Florida's swamps.

The Burmese python tried to swallow its fearsome rival whole but then exploded.

The remains of the two giant reptiles were found by astonished rangers in the Everglades National Park.

The rangers say the find suggests that non-native Burmese pythons might even challenge alligators' leading position in the food chain in the swamps.

Read the breathtaking article here on the BBC web site. Thanks, PN, for copying this link as a note in Facebook.

* * * * *

When the nature is teaching us a lesson, be quiet and learn. If Medvedev and Putin challenge each others' positions in the food chain, this might be their future, too.

(But in You Tube you can find an anaconda eating a crocodile. Über-exciting.)