• John Key’s Dirty War Against Kim Dotcom

    John Key’s Dirty War Against Kim Dotcom

    Why would the Prime Minister of New Zealand develop a relationship with a hate-speech prone blogger? Inside the ugly defamation campaign against Kim Dotcom.

    Read More

  • Thailand: The Plot Against Democracy

    Thailand: The Plot Against Democracy

    The purpose of the document is alert the international community to the grave risks faced by Thai citizens who may be subjected to an unlawful coup and removal of the elected prime minister. There are serious concerns of a repeat - or worse - of the 2010 massacres of protesters ...

    Read More

  • Putin’s War Driven by Domestic Motives

    Putin's War Driven by Domestic Motives

    Is this a new Cold War? Is this a rational decision on behalf of Putin to reinforce Russia's security? Or is it more a matter of domestic political survival as the driving motivation behind the seizure of Crimea?

    Read More

  • The Unlawful Persecution of Nigeria’s Central Banker

    The Unlawful Persecution of Nigeria's Central Banker

    The Nigerian government's attempt to pin a criminal case against its former Central Banker Lamido Sanusi after he exposed a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme reeks of political motivations.

    Read More

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 23, 2014

BN-CL992_navaln_G_20140422091729TODAY: Navalny under pressure after new slander ruling; crackdown on social media; ousted Vkontactke founder persona non grata in Russia; Zhirinovsky faces possible criminal charges. Kiev re-launches ‘antiterrorism’ offensive after politician found dead in eastern Ukraine; scrabble for Arctic, scrabble for Caspian; Lenin’s birthday gift.

Moscow’s Babushkinsky District Court has found opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty of slander against City Duma Deputy Alexei Lisovenko.  The campaigner could face a stint in jail over the charges.  Moscow municipal deputy Alexei Gusev, a supporter of Alexei Navalny, is being investigated for extremism as a result of a spoof interview with himself which he claims the authorities posted.  The State Duma has approved harsh new limitations on social-networking sites and bloggers on the pretext of fighting terrorism.  The founder and former CEO of leading Russian social-networking site VKontakte, Pavel Durov, targeted by the authorities, says he has left Russia since ’unfortunately, the country is incompatible with Internet business at the moment’.  A Moscow court has sentenced a journalist to 6 1/2 years in prison for extremism over articles examining Chechen separatism.  In Eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have apparently captured an American reporter, Simon Ostrovsky, who works for Vice Media.  Ultranationalist Kremlin-loyalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky could face criminal charges after being caught on camera urging an aide to rape a pregnant reporter. Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 22, 2014

durov vkontakteTODAY: Journalist detained in Slovyansk as pro-Moscow groups crack down on press; Vkontake founder ousted; Biden in Kiev; Lavrov remains critical of Ukrainian government. Crimean Tartar leader’s travel restricted; Putin puts Stalinist persecution of region to rights; gambling; foreign pilots. 

Dramatic images of a blindfolded journalist have emerged in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, after pro-Russian separatists detained and paraded a Ukrainian reporter, accusing her of ‘war crimes‘ during the Euromaidan protests.  Yacheslav Ponomaryov, the newly-installed mayor of Slovyansk, made no secret of his punitive intentions, stating that authorities ‘have captured some spies, infiltrators. Right now, we’re working them over: they are being held in captivity’.  Vkontake founder Pavel Durov, who has resisted Kremlin pressure to reveal information about dissident users of the network, has been fired as its CEO.  U.S. Vice President Biden has landed in Kiev where he has pledged he will assist in Ukraine’s attempts to stage successful presidential elections, as the State Department has warned that President Putin himself could face sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, which the Russian Foreign Ministry maintains is the fault of Kiev.  Washington will decide on possible additional sanctions within days.  Prime Minister Medvedev, who has a gloomy prognosis for the Russian economy, has promised domestic manufacturers financial assistance in the event of further sanctions.

Dramatic images of a blindfolded journalist have emerged in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, after pro-Russian separatists detained and paraded a Ukrainian reporter, accusing her of ‘war crimes‘ during the Euromaidan protests.  Yacheslav Ponomaryov, the newly-installed mayor of Slovyansk, made no secret of his punitive intentions, stating that authorities ‘have captured some spies, infiltrators. Right now, we’re working them over: they are being held in captivity’.  Vkontake founder Pavel Durov, who has resisted Kremlin pressure to reveal information about dissident users of the network, has been fired as its CEO.  U.S. Vice President Biden has landed in Kiev where he has pledged he will assist in Ukraine’s attempts to stage successful presidential elections, as the State Department has warned that President Putin himself could face sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, which the Russian Foreign Ministry maintains is the fault of Kiev.  Washington will decide on possible additional sanctions within days.  Prime Minister Medvedev, who has a gloomy prognosis for the Russian economy, has promised domestic manufacturers financial assistance in the event of further sanctions.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 21, 2014

Russian President Putin, PM Medvedev, Medvedev's wife Svetlana, Moscow Mayor Sobyanin attend an Orthodox Easter service in MoscowTODAY: Geneva accord tested by deadly shootout in Eastern Ukraine; Putin initiates simplification of citizenship for Russian speakers; Shell committed to Russia expansion; Kremlin vaunts China ties; Moscow agrees to slash North Korea debt by 90%; Zhirinovsky tirade; lonely at the top.

Three people have been killed and three others injured in an overnight shootout in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk after a group of gunmen launched an attack on a checkpoint.  Russia’s Foreign Ministry has spoken of its ‘outrage at the attack, which has undermined last week’s Geneva agreement, as a violation of an Easter truce called by Ukrainian authorities.  Pro-Russian authorities in the region have laid the blame squarely on Ukrainian far-right nationalists; Ukraine’s police have accused Russia of staging the incident.  Following an entry ban on Russian males, Ukrainian border guards have denied entry to around 600 citizens in the first 24 hours of the ban.  Analysts here discuss the idea that the entry ban might be contributing to ghettoisation.  According to this report, despite the Ukraine crisis affecting bond markets, Russian companies are still well-placed to service their debts.  President Putin has approved legal amendments to make it simpler for Russian speakers in the former Soviet Union to acquire Russian citizenship.  Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed that Russia does have troops near the Ukrainian border, some on a ‘permanent basis’Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 18, 2014

2TODAY: Putin’s Q+A features Ukraine, Washington and surprise from Snowden; tentative deal reached in Geneva on Ukraine crisis; President hopes to limit Crimea spending; Usmanov retains top spot in Russian billionaire rankings. 

In Vladimir Putin’s ‘confident’ performance at his live Q&A session (his 12th, during which he answered 85 questions) he attacked sanctions imposed by the West over Russia’s actions in Ukraine as ‘a violation of human rights‘.   He added that annexing Crimea was partly to do with NATO’s eastward expansion, though he was quick to assert that the Western military alliance does not inspire fear in the Kremlin.  The President argued that trust between Moscow and Washington had been undermined for some time, ‘but we do not think we are to blame‘.  Nonetheless he reassured a six-year-old who asked the question of whether President Obama would save him from drowning with an affirmative response.  Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? ‘In my view, it’s impossible‘.  The President also assured viewers that a drop in oil prices from $90 to $85 per barrel would not seriously affect the economy.  The Q&A’s most unexpected moment came in the form of a question about the Kremlin’s use of surveillance from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in response to which Putin asserted that intelligence was ‘under the strict control of the state and society‘.  Putin also threw an apparent lifeline to threatened independent TV station Dozhd (Rain) and informed viewers that he has no intention of remaining president for life.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 17, 2014

ukraine_2884947bTODAY: Putin’s annual Q+A expected to focus on Ukraine; Kiev’s attempts to regain control of Donetsk thwarted; 3 dead at Mariupol base; little expected from talks scheduled for today. The West’s financial leverage; Turkey approves South Stream; the art of protesting under fire.   

President Putin’s annual live Q+A session which takes place today is expected to focus upon Crimea, other issues surrounding Ukraine and high housing bills.  Yesterday’s reports that Ukrainian forces had recaptured parts of the Donetsk region are being denied: the Independent reports that Ukrainian APCs were seen flying Russian flags. ‘Kiev’s military intervention has had no success‘.  Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press secretary, maintains that there are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.  The Guardian states that armed men ‘made little secret of the fact they took orders from Moscow. Many of them appeared to be Russian troops from Crimea‘.  Ukraine’s interior minister says three pro-Russian protesters have been killed near Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.  Can diplomacy save the day? wonders the Telegraph as four-party talks begin, while expectations for the talks remain low.  ‘You can’t send in tanks and at the same time hold talks’: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voices his complaints.  Professor Valery Solovei examines the way in which the media shapes Russian perceptions of the Ukraine crisis here.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 16, 2014

RUSSIA-master675TODAY: Ukraine tensions mount as army clashes with pro-federalists in Kramatorsk; 11 dead; Putin lambasts Kiev’s actions; U.S. sees clear Russian involvement in the standoff. The financial cost of keeping Crimea; zero economic growth on the horizon; slumping stocks. 

‘The country is on the threshold of a civil war: Prime Minister Medvedev’s Facebook comment on Ukraine, one example of what the New York Times has called Russia’s ‘extraordinary propaganda campaign‘ of ‘misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories [...] and occasionally, outright lies’ about the crisis. Reports of escalating conflict are to be found elsewhere as the Guardian states ‘Ukraine is on the verge of major armed conflict‘.  The latest events have seen government forces launch their first significant military action in Kramatorsk, which they have apparently recaptured from a pro-Russian group after a shootout which claimed 11 lives.  Pro-federalist fighters are reportedly stepping up their campaign in the city.  Ukrainian units have also assembled in the city of Slavyansk with the aim of regaining control of it from armed pro-Russian groups.  President Putin has decried the moves of the Ukrainian government as ‘anti-constitutional acts‘ in a phone call to the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, criticisms seconded by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 15, 2014

TODAY: Separatists riot and seize buildings across Ukraine; Putin and Lavrov deny Russian involvement; economy suffering; Putin to take a pay rise; UN report says Russia rigged Crimea referendum; Russian jets nearing US and Japanese territory.

Pro-Russia separatists rioted at government buildings across Ukraine yesterday (including a police building in Horlivka), prompting US President Barack Obama to urge President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to persuade the separatists to stand down.  He was echoed by Germany and the UK.  The BBC has footage of skirmishes in Slavyansk, including an attack on a local journalist.  The Guardian has a useful timeline of yesterday’s events.  Both Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied accusations of Russian involvement; Lavrov went so far as to say that Russia does not even have any intelligence agents in Ukraine. He also accused Ukraine of blocking Russian journalists from crossing its borders.  A leaked UN report on human rights in Ukraine claims that Russia tampered with the Crimea referendum.  A weatherman on state television channel Russia 24 spoke of a ‘gusty wind, possibly the wind of change’ over eastern Ukraine during his broadcast yesterday.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 14, 2014

TODAY: Ukraine’s acting president says it’s war; deaths on both sides as Kiev meets pro-Russian separatists with force; Russia calls emergency UN meeting, quarrels ensue; Naftogaz suspends gas payments; thousands protest in favour of media freedom in Moscow; Khodorkovsky prison book published; Russia spent more than US on military last year.

The acting President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced to his nation in a televised address that it is at war with Russia, and vowed to launch a ‘large-scale anti-terrorist operation’, after Kiev sent troops into government buildings in a bid to remove pro-Russian protesters by force, reportedly leading to deaths and casualties on both sides.  This morning marks Ukraine’s deadline for pro-Russian separatists to disarm or face attack.  Russia says the deadline is effectively ‘a criminal order’.  Russia called an emergency meeting at the UN yesterday to address the situation: the US ambassador accused Russia of having ‘written and choreographed the current instability; Ukraine’s ambassador said his country just wants Russia ‘to leave us in peace’.  Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin says Ukraine needs to end what he called ‘a war with its own people’, dismissed all Western accusations of Russian involvement in the current crisis, and slammed ‘grotesque Russophobia and embedded hatred’ in the Ukrainian parliament.  Perhaps Russia’s aim is to destabilise Ukraine before the latter’s presidential elections next month, says The Economist.  Ukraine’s state energy company, Naftogaz, says it has suspended payments to Gazprom.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – April 11, 2014

TODAY: Satellite images show troops on Ukraine border; Putin warns EU of gas shortage in event of cuts, says Crimea was a last-minute decision; Shuvalov says sanctions won’t influence policy; Council of Europe votes to withdraw Russia voting rights; Kiselev praises Russian freedom of speech; Ukraine activist alleges torture in Crimea; Gazprom takes over Kyrgyz gas company.

Satellite images newly released by Nato show a strong Russian military buildup along Ukraine’s eastern border, giving grounds to Western fears of an invasion, and challenging Russia’s prior assertion that it has no plans to use force.  In a letter to the leaders of 18 EU states, President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia will cut natural gas deliveries or switch to an advance payment system for Ukraine if Kiev fails to pay its debt, and that such a move would inevitably reduce the gas available to Europe; approaching the matter from another angle, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov says that, in any case, Russia doesn’t need the West’s energy custom.  Furthermore, Shuvalov said, the threat of further sanctions will not change Moscow’s policies; he insisted that current capital outflows are due to fluctuations in the ruble exchange rate, not the Ukraine crisis.  Putin says that the annexation of Crimea was not planned in advance, and that he only made the final decision ‘after the mood of the people became clear’.  Russia is considering pulling out of the Council of Europe after the human rights body voted to withdraw Russia’s voting rights in the wake of a three-hour debate condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Read More »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MPAA Hopes to Shatter Copyright Law with Megaupload Lawsuit

Blogging over at TechDirt, Mike Masnick gets right down to the point of the MPAA’s latest lawsuit against Megaupload – the company which they already destroyed via a bogus criminal case from the Department of Justice. The lawsuit, which attacks the basis of numerous perfectly reasonable activities for tons of cloud computing companies, may have extremely negative consequences felt broadly across the internet by seeking rulings which would require that tech start ups maintain expensive filtering technologies – placing the onus on service providers rather than rights holders.

The article argues:

You can argue that Megaupload was widely used for infringement. You can even argue that Megaupload management were awful people who didn’t care that much about copyright. But if you read this lawsuit objectively, you have to admit that it is a straight up attack on the basic principles of cloud computing and user-generated content, while seeking to change settled law and reinterpret the DMCA in a way the MPAA fantasizes it should be, rather than the way the law is today. That’s incredible dangerous.

It’s no surprise that they’re doing this against Megaupload, a company based halfway around the globe, with all its assets seized, and which is fighting a massive criminal complaint at the same time. That will, obviously, lead to limited resources to fight this civil suit, making it easier for the MPAA to sneak through dangerous changes to the law, via potential court rulings. These are changes that it’s been unable to get written into the law for the past few years, so now it’s using the courts to try to do its dirty work.

No matter what you think of Megaupload, this is a very dangerous lawsuit.

Hollywood’s determination to fight against the advance of technology is very, very worrying, and it’s time we did something about it.

2 Comments