The West learns shocking truth about Kosovo "freedom fighters"/ RusAl's ownership of Guinea aluminum-assets under threat/ Russia faces $10 billion international ruling over Yukos bankruptcy/ Russian Army badly needs modern weapons
The West learns shocking truth about Kosovo "freedom fighters"
The Western press has reported that Kosovo "freedom fighters" allegedly had a network of concentration camps where Serbs and other "aliens" were tortured and killed, and where they took their organs for transplantation.
In fact, it is a only a sensation in the West, because Serbia and Russia have long been writing about the atrocities committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The West possibly thought exposing these crimes was politically inexpedient. Instead, the press depicted Kosovo Albanians as innocent and helpless victims of ethnic cleansing campaigns to prepare the international community for the upcoming "humanitarian operation" viewed as the only way to save them from the ruthless Serbs.
NATO's humanitarian operation involved the bombing of Serbian cities and towns.
Believing in myths is a convenient way to live, as they can be used to justify almost any, even a highly questionable, project in the eyes of the electorate. Ideological cliches such as "freedom fighters," "the victim of arbitrariness," "the oppressed people" and "a bloody dictatorship" lull the public into a stupor and make it believe whatever politicians say.
One more example of the use of double standards is the division of the CIS leaders into "authoritarian rulers" and "reliable partners." They are easily moved from one category to another depending on political expediency.
A leader who agrees to join a pipeline project bypassing Russia or refuses to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is praised as nearly a democrat. This is enough for the West to forget about the falsification of election results and arrests of opposition members, and makes the said leader a fighter for the sovereignty of his people against the Russian expansion, and almost a hero of a new myth.
RusAl's ownership of Guinea aluminum-assets under threat
Guinea's ruling military junta which seized power in late 2008 said on Sunday it planned to challenge in court the 2006 sale of the Friguia alumina refinery to Russian aluminum company RusAl for $19 million.
The junta believes that RusAl failed to pay $238 million for the refinery. Analysts said this sum exceeded the company's annual Guinea earnings by 100%.
Prior to privatization, the Friguia refinery annually produced 2.2 million metric tons of bauxites and 700,000 metric tons of alumina, while production has now plunged to 600,000 metric tons. RusAl invested $300 million into the project, including purchase-and-modernization expenses.
On Monday, a RusAl spokesperson in Moscow expressed hope that the conflict would be settled out of court, as soon as a governmental commission, independent international analysts and corporate representatives started investigating the legality of the privatization deal.
Yevgeny Korendyasov, director of the Center of Russian-African Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of African Studies, said the Guinean government was probably worried about RusAl plans to downsize production during the global financial and economic crisis.
RusAl officials stressed the company planned to reduce outlays, to axe 5% of jobs and to reduce alumina production only in Ireland, Italy, and Jamaica.
Ivan Andriyevsky, a managing partner at 2K Audit-Business Consulting company, said Friguia accounted for over 5% of RusAL's alumina output, and that the company annually earnt almost $115 million at current market prices.
Andrei Zelenin, a partner at Lidings Law Firm, said RusAl's chances would improve if the case were tried by an international arbitration court.
He said the company would file a counter-claim with an international court, even if the bilateral contract did not stipulate this procedure for settling disputes, and that it could ask the Russian Government to exert diplomatic pressure on Conakry.
Olga Lazareva, deputy director of the Yakovlev and Partners law firm, said Moscow was unlikely to intervene in the civil law conflict in Guinea at state level.
Russia faces $10 billion international ruling over Yukos bankruptcy
A number of Spanish investment funds, holders of Yukos Oil Company American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), have secured a major victory in an international arbitration against Russia - the decision on jurisdiction by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC).
The Spanish holders are seeking damages arising from the Russian government's uncompensated expropriation of the bankrupt Russian oil firm's assets. Russia will face a $10 billion worth of claims if it loses the case.
The fund Renta 4 S.V.S.A. represents the consolidated position of the affected parties, according to Covington & Burling LLP, the legal firm acting on behalf of the plaintiffs.
Baker Botts, the lawyers representing Russia, declined to make a comment to Vedomosti. A Justice Ministry official confirmed the receipt of the arbitration documents which were "being studied."
Information of the lawsuit by seven Spanish funds against Russia was leaked to the media back in 2007. According to the Law.com website, the court eventually took jurisdiction of only four claims, while the other three funds' legal status was not confirmed under Spanish legislation. Neither the full list of the plaintiffs, nor the size of their claims was disclosed then.
"This case will have significance for Yukos ADR holders in all countries that have BITs with Russia. The losses of Yukos ADR holders in such countries exceed $10 billion," Covington & Burling said in a statement.
The Covington arbitration team in 2005 was led by partner O. Thomas Johnson, Jr., who presented a $9 million claim of 11 individuals and the company FCT America Ltd in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Russian Federation, the country's top officials, Gazprom, Rosneft and Baikalfinansgroup. The claim was not set to hearing.
Baker & McKenzie Partner Vladimir Khvalei from the Firm's Moscow office predicts that Russia stands a 90% chance of losing the case, after the Stockholm Arbitration Institute's decision on jurisdiction. Further disputes will focus on the size of compensation, he added.
The court will include very influential arbiters, and the case is expected to have important implications for future investment arbitrations against Russia on behalf of Yukos ADR holders in Spain, Denmark and Britain.
Russian Army badly needs modern weapons
The main threat to Russia's security comes from its technological backwardness in the area of offensive and defensive precision weapons.
More than six months have passed since the August operation to force Georgia to stop the conflict in South Ossetia. The conflict exposed the lack of modern weaponry in Russia, but the Russian army has failed to draw the proper conclusions.
It is said that the conflict highlighted the flaws in of the Russian armed forces, but this is not true. These drawbacks were a common fact 10 years ago. Inefficient reconnaissance equipment affects the effectiveness of Russian weapons, putting it at 60%, and prevents the swift use of intelligence data. The army also lacks automated command and control equipment, especially at the tactical level.
In March 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said that Russia had a unique opportunity to create a highly effective armed forces despite the economic and financial problems. He said a large-scale rearmament program would begin in 2011.
Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov complained that modern systems comprised only 10% of the weaponry in the Army. Ex-defense minister Sergei Ivanov said the figure was 20% in 2003. If this is true and the number of modern weapons is falling by 10% every five years, there must be a systemic flaw in the state rearmament programs.
In fact, these modernization programs are limited to expensive repairs of obsolete weapons. The current system of manufacturing weapons is insufficient to ensure quality and a high rate of rearmament. The policy of consolidating defense companies into holdings has proven ineffective. When 15-20 nearly bankrupt companies with obsolete equipment that lack skilled personnel are brought together in a super holding, this can only create a huge, unwieldy, ineffective and problem-ridden monster.
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