Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two Buildings in Tallinn

Before I leave for Tallinn day after tomorrow, I want to show two buildings one will remember eternally. (Last Christmas I gave you my heart... NO, it happened earlier, but I took these photos last Christmas. And I can hardly wait to get to Tallinn again! A visit in every two months is a must, but visiting more often is my wish.)

Soviet-style film theater, Kino Soprus. A real treasure. Opened in 1955. Still with a high-standard independent program. Vana-Posti 8, in the Old Town.

A business office house in business-office-house-trees! Pärnu Mnt, I think. Or was it Tarttu Mnt? Don't worry, I'll check this out.

The Murder Investigations = Total Failure

Lavrenti Beriya (1899–1953). Originally Georgian. At the highest times of his glory Stalin's right hand, head of the KGB. After getting rid of his predecessor Yezhov (killing him in Lubyanka, the KGB prison in Moscow), Beriya was responsible for the deportations from the Baltic states, among other things.

Politkovskaya's assassination is still badly investigated and therefore, of course, the murderer unpunished.

But, like almost everybody who have been following this, I am very sure the murderer has been indentified by both the Kremlin and the KGB.

According to the rumours I have heard a number of times, the guy in the baseball cap, the one who really pulled the trigger, has been living in Belgium for quite some time already.

Oh sorry comrades, the agency is FSB nowadays.

Statement issued by Russian Union of Journalists

Monday, 23 February 2009

The trial of those involved in the murder of Novaya gazeta commentator Anna Politkovskaya has ended in total failure. The jury unanimously acquitted all the accused and they were freed right there in the courtroom.

Despite everything, the hearings were made open to the media and public and once again this gave us vivid evidence of the defects of our law enforcement system, which requires urgent reform. And still we can see one positive outcome. It did not prove possible, by convicting minor figures, to evade the most important question: Who ordered the killing of our comrade and colleague, and why did they do so.

The investigation will be renewed and so it is of fundamental importance that all those who obstructed the investigators in their work, shielding the guilty and concealing vital information, are named without delay. The Russian authorities must realise that it is essential that they display political will. The collapse of such a trial is a national disgrace and they will not be able to shift the blame to the investigators, who did not do their job, still less to the jurors.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Sledgehammer Response: No Stupid Medleys at Oscars

So. As for the players of progressive rock, a minute is nothing, Gabriel should have been offered enough time for a 75 minute solo.

No, really, just kidding. The lame 65 secs must be an offending offer. Please read the following piece of news from the Independent.

Gone in 65 seconds: Gabriel quits Oscars

Musician furious at decision to shorten his performance to a little over a minute
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles

There's a week to go, but this year's Oscars have already spawned their first major celebrity hissy-fit. Peter Gabriel, the laid-back king of progressive rock, has abruptly withdrawn from next Sunday's awards show after his performance there was shortened to just 65 seconds.

The former Genesis singer had expected, in keeping with tradition, to have several minutes in the spotlight to perform his song "Down to Earth". Composed by Gabriel for the computer-animated film Wall-E, it is shortlisted for an Academy Award in the best original song category.

But in an attempt to revitalise ratings, the event's organisers decided to jazz up this year's ceremony by blending all three of the nominated tracks together in a short, sharp medley.

As a result, Gabriel announced yesterday that he was refusing to participate. He said in a video posted on his website: "Songwriters, even though they're a small part of the whole film-making process, we still work bloody hard, and I think deserve a place in the ceremony. So I think ... I'm an old fart and it's not going to do me a lot of harm to make a little protest. For some of the other artists, it wouldn't be so easy."

* * *

...and the story as a whole is in here.

Hey, don't give up.
cos you have friends
Dont give up
Youre not beaten yet
Dont give up
I know you can make it good

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Kids Snooping in Russia

Another Russian revealing dirty secrets believed to be in danger is Anna Bukovskaya.

I have met several activists of "The Other Russia", the political opposition, and they have all said they phone calls are being listened to, and they are being followed. But I have not realised also kids can act as agents.

Nashi Activist Tells of Snooping for Kremlin

06 February 2009 By Natalya Krainova / Staff Writer

Undercover pro-Kremlin agents have worked in opposition groups across Russia to provide the presidential administration with information on opposition activists and rallies, a self-described handler said Thursday.

Anna Bukovskaya, a St. Petersburg activist with the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group, said she coordinated a group of 30 young people who infiltrated branches of the banned National Bolshevik Party, Youth Yabloko and United Civil Front in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Voronezh and six other cities.

The agents informed Bukovskaya, who passed the information to senior Nashi official Dmitry Golubyatnikov, who in turn contacted "Surkov's people" in the Kremlin, Bukovskaya told The Moscow Times. Vladislav Surkov is President Dmitry Medvedev's first deputy chief of staff.

The agents provided information on planned and past events together with pictures and personal information on activists and leaders, including their contact numbers, Bukovskaya said by telephone from St. Petersburg.

They were paid 20,000 rubles ($550) per month, while she received 40,000 rubles per month, she said.

The story as whole is in here, in the Moscow Times website.

Changes with Music

München (Munich)

Obama has certainly started with Big Changes. And Joe Biden, now travelling in Munich, is seemingly backing up the President and moving forward with the new American agenda. According to a news release from Russia, "European media reported that Biden may voice Obama’s idea on a radical – up to 80% – slashing of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals." Gosh.

Many are still sceptical, of course, wondering if Obama can really change things -- will he be able to, is he a puppet or with a mind of his own? And so on.

It is too early to have all the answers, and even I am not naive enough to think every example of the ignorant Bush administration could change for the better at once. For example, the USA seems to be willing to make NATO even stonger and more powerful, and the talks about the threats of terrorism are very much alive - and I find the both of these things quite strange.

But after the latest news on Obama's actions, I'd judge a lot is changing, and the changes have been good.

* * * *

By the way, I rarely recommend this news agency, but now I make an exception, since that was here in the ITAR-TASS site. Putin, be aware!

* * * * *

At the end of his speech Biden whacked Russia, and then with diplomacy he softened the statement:

"We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the United States will not -- will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. We will not recognize any nation having a sphere of influence. It will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances. But the United States and Russia can disagree and still work together where our interests coincide. And they coincide in many places."

And not agreeing with Russia is a good start.

* * * * *

For all the music lovers, here comes the Bush speech once again.

Remember when he said the fact that there was no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been "a significant disappointment"?

I still find it hard to understand how stupid that man has been. As well as the ones who voted for him.