Monday, March 09, 2009

The Angel of Grozny Arrested. Orphans Suffering.



Raided offices and confiscated computers.

A closed court case with activities surrounding it strongly implying there is no way the accused will be treated fairly. The police and the authorities not respecting the rule of law.

And all this has to do with Chechnya again, though surprisingly not in Russia but in the European Union.

The following is written for the European Court by the Lithuanian Human Rights workers. Best of luck to you and your case!

As for the kids in the orphanages... No-one has been able to create a healthy and stable future for them. That is just tragic. And totally unjust.

Please see Åsne Seierstad telling here who Mrs Gataeva really is: The Angel Of Grozny.

I also recommend this heartbreaking review in the New York Times website.

* * * * *

"Malik and Khadizhat Gataev were arrested in Kaunas, Lithuania on 15 October 2008. Until their arrest, the couple ran two large orphanages for children from Chechnya, one in Grozny, Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, and one in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Khadizhat Gataeva has been featured in many journalistic accounts, in a film like “Three Rooms of Melancholia” by Finnish director Pirjo Honkasalo) and a recent book by Åsne Seierstad, The Angel of Grozny. Gataeva has been collecting orphans from the streets of Grozny and elsewhere since the first war broke out in Chechnya.

Mrs. Gataeva first established an orphanage in a refugee camp in Ingushetia, with help from foreign sponsors, and later moved back to Grozny. The husband Malik Gataev has been residing in Lithuania for the past decade and, until his arrest, he was running another orphanage there. Mrs Gataeva kept alternating from Chechnya to Lithuania.

The arrest of Mr and Mrs Gataev was carried out by the Lithuanian State Security Department (SSD), even if the nature of charge against the Gataev - extortion of money from their adult children (out of 17 children of the orphanage eight are young adults) - demands involvement of Criminal Police. The extortion charge brought against the Gataev does not fall under the authority of State Security Department whose main tasks are intelligence, counterintelligence, protection of state secrets, anti-terrorist activities and protection of national economy and strategic objects.

The State Security has been heavily involved in the Gataev case ever since the arrest of Mr and Mrs Gataev and has been cooperating closely with Kaunas Regional Prosecutor’s Office. The first private lawyer, who started working on the case in October 2008, dropped it shortly after his wife was ‘warned’ that she would lose the job if her husband continued working on the case.

The SSD initially blocked any access to the orphanage and kept it under strict surveillance. Evidence at our disposal indicates that the adult children of the orphanage were subjected to psychological pressure by the State Security Department and forced to report and cooperate with its agents, which in the end resulted in some of them testifying against their foster parents. Importantly, testimonies of some of the adult children were recorded on video prior to the trial. The prosecutor applied a measure of the Lithuanian Criminal Code that permits questioning of witnesses under the age of 18 prior to court proceedings, not to cause a psychological trauma or other serious consequences. However, all witnesses whose testimonies were recorded are over 18.

We also possess evidence that the Prosecutor in charge of the case and SSD are currently putting pressure on the adult children of the orphanage who are considered to be victims in the case but want to provide positive testimonies in defence of their foster parents. Last week, after one of the adult children, Denis Volkovskii, expressed his wish to provide positive evidence in person during the second hearing in the case at Kaunas City District Court on 24 February 2009, SSD agents summoned him to the SSD Kaunas office on 25 February where he was questioned for six hours by 6-7 SSD employees. During the questioning session, the agents threatened to imprison the Chechen youth for two years if he refused to provide evidence against his foster parents, or deport him from Lithuania. They also suggested that the best option for the young man would be to leave Lithuania till the court trial was over. After the questioning he was diagnosed with a psychological trauma and started undergoing medical treatment.

Prosecutor Nomeda Oškutyte and two employees of SSD had also visited the orphanage on 13 Jan 2009, after the first court hearing in the Gataev case took place. The prosecutor and VSD agents asked the young adults how they had found out about the court hearing. In an attempt of intimidation, the prosecutor vaguely threatened to detain some of the young.

SSD has also been putting constant pressure on the friends and supporters of the Gataev family who showed interest in their arrest and tried to help them and the children of the orphanage. Thus some of the Gataev friends and acquaintances were detained for short periods and harassed by SSD agents.

Most recently, on 2 February 2009, Prosecutor Oškutyte with two law enforcement agents arrived at the office of a translation company in Kaunas that belongs to Gataev family friend sand supporter Gintautas Bukauskas. Law enforcement agents raided the office and confiscated two desktop computers and all the available files of documents, thus effectively depriving Mr and Mrs Bukauskas from the means to run their business and earn income. The prosecutor remarked that the company of Mr Bukauskas had been 'very active' in the Gataev case and that he had obtained a lot of testimony letters from the acquaintances of Malik and Khadizhat Gataev to be presented at the court. The prosecutor also told Mrs Bukauskas that if she does not want her husband detained for two weeks, he should better stay away from the Gataev case."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pam Am witnessing the jolly British and some short-tempered Frankfurters

As I have so wonderful friends in Frankfurt I
must post this one here.

(Please find the original source, Teknik 360, here. Thanks, TN!)

* * *

The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one’s gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them.

So it was with some amusement that we, a Pan Am 747, listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.

Speedbird 206: ”Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway.”

Ground: ”Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven.”

The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.

Ground: ”Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?”

Speedbird 206: ”Stand by, Ground, I’m looking up our gate location now.”!

Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): ”Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?”

Speedbird 206 (coolly): ”Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, and I didn’t land.”

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lex Nokia - You should all be worried

Despite of numerous appeals, demonstrations and strong critisism among the specialists and media (in Finland and abroad), today the Finnish Parliament will put the so called Lex Nokia to the vote in the plenary session.

EDIT: The Government porposal was approved some time ago in a 96-56 vote, with 47 parlamentarians absent.

"Lex Nokia", because the whole idea of the law, let alone big parts of the text itself, has been put together by the reps of the Nokia company.

Also in the Finnish media some high-raking officials in the Finnish ministries have leaked that the Nokia lobbyists have pushed really hard: they have threatened the company would leave Finland if the law is not approved. This is a major scandal already.

And if the law is approved, it will be an even bigger scandal. EDIT: It has been. Unbelievable.

* * *

SO: what is it, actually? The EDRI (European Digital Rights) site calls it "Snooping law and says raison d'être for the bill officially is that it would allow employers to investigate the log data of employees' e-mails, if the company has reason to suspect that corporate secrets are leaking out of the company or that the employer's communication networks are being misused. The employer would not be allowed to read the content of the messages themselves, however. The bill has been dubbed "Lex Nokia" because it was sparked in 2006 by an announcement by prosecutor Jukka Haavisto that Nokia had been illegally monitoring contact information of its employees' e-mail in 2000 to 2001.

Please bear in mind that the "company" mentioned above does not mean just a business, ie. not just enterprises with employers and employees, BUT just anyone running a collective or communal internet service. The controlling party running the net services in question can be a hospital, school, university, library...

Second most important thing: snooping does not just mean the log data of e-mails, it refers also to the log data of the employee's/ web user's/ customer's/ student's/ patient's/ recident's web traffic: which sites is s/he visiting most frequently?

Some company could use it to prevent secret business inventions to be sold to other parties, yes, but it could be used for other, much gloomier purposes.

The controller could find out - even by interpreting the log data - if the employee/ web user/ customer/ student/ patient/ recident is
* an extremist (defined by the government)
* a dissident (defined by the both government and himself)
* homosexual
* practising some strange religion/ a Satanist/ the only Cristian among Satanists
* a native speaker of urdu
* someone who's homeland is Tibet/ in Caucasus/ not where the others think it is
* whatever,

the information in some context could be harmful, even damaging for the web user, and perhaps for others, too.

If only the controller should wish to use it, like sell it forward, give it under pressure to other parties, or store the information carelessly. There are possibilities.

* * *

If this law is approved, Finland will be moving towards the kind of future all dictators & unfair and perhaps even unstable societies without freedom of expression would love. EDIT: Hello, Putin, Il Jong, Gazprom, Shell, Monsanto, the Turkmen Kreml, Lukashenka, and all your friends: These air-heads in Finland have smoothened your way. Now come here and get a copy of the text. You can do what you do legally.

Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick. They knew what was really going to happen.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he wrote about what had happened when the society had all the means of controlling its subjects (not "citizens").

* * *

The Lex Nokia law has got blessing from Constitutional Law Committee.

Therefore, the legislative proposal is presented to Parliament in the pleanary session. Today.

If the Parliament is to approve this law, it will be sent to the President of the Republic for ratification.

Strange. The law is so compilicated the Constitution should be re-written. According to the website of the Parliament of Finland a bill regarding the Constitution must first be approved by a simple majority of votes on its second reading. The bill is then left in abeyance until after the next general election. The newly elected Parliament continues discussion of the bill and must approve the bill by a two-thirds majority of votes in order for it to become law. However, a bill regarding the Constitution need not wait until after the next general elections if it is declared urgent by a five-sixths majority of votes.

I don't understand how this proposal has moved even this far. But hopefully not any further from here.

See the anti-ad in You Tube. The text "SUOMEN PERUSTUSLAKI" on the cover of the book means "the Constitution of Finland".

(The ones who understand Finnish, please see the site of Electronic Frontier Finland and the FAQ.)

Philip K. Dick (1928–1982), one of the greatest science fiction writers in the world. On the right. The manuscipts of Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report were based on his novels and short stories.