Recently in Russian Affairs Category

Why Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych Was Cast Adrift

The New York Times reported on January 3, 2015, that an investigation it conducted “into the final hours” of former Ukrainian President Viktor F.Yanukovych’s rule — based on interviews with prominent players, including former commanders of the Berkut riot police and other security units, telephone records and other documents — shows that the president was not so much overthrown as cast adrift by his own allies, and that Western officials were just as surprised by the meltdown as anyone else.”

It’s a fascinating story I highly recommend. For more, see “Ukraine Leader Was Defeated Even Before He Was Ousted.”

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Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, explains that, “there was no legal duty on Russia's part to turn (National Security Agency whistleblower Edward) Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.” Mr. Snowden has been granted a one-year visa.

Mr. Falk, “the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights,” writing in an August 5, 2013, post at Al Jazeera English, opines:

The most influential media in the United States has lived up to its pro-government bias in the Snowden Affair in three major ways: firstly, by consistently referring to Snowden by the demeaning designation of 'leaker' rather than as 'whistleblower' or 'surveillance dissident,' both more respectful and accurate.

Secondly, they are completely ignoring the degree to which Russia's grant of temporary refugee status to Snowden for one year was in full accord with the normal level of protection to be given to anyone accused of nonviolent political crimes in a foreign country, and pursued diplomatically and legally by the government that is seeking to indict and prosecute. In effect, for Russia to have turned Snowden over to the United States under these conditions would have been morally and politically scandalous considering the nature of his alleged crimes.

Thirdly, the media's refusal to point out that espionage, the main accusation against Snowden, is the quintessential 'political offense' in international law, and as such is routinely excluded from any list of extraditable offenses. That is, even if there had been an extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, it should have been made clear that there was no legal duty on Russia's part to turn Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.

Mr. Falk said, “If these elements had been clearly articulated, the United States government would have seemed ridiculous if it complained about the willingness of some foreign governments to give Snowden asylum.”

To read the entire post, please see “Snowden's Asylum: 'It's the law, stupid.'”

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Sergey Lavrov's Dispute With Foreign Affairs

"Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov issued a statement" July 19, 2007 "explaining his withdrawal of an article that was accepted for publication in the September/October 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs," Maxims reported July 19, 2007  

Maxims said, "In  response to the foreign minister's characterizations, Foreign Affairs Editor James F. Hoge issued a statement, rejecting all suggestions of censorship."

Maxims also provided "the full text of the article as edited by Foreign Affairs and posted on the Russian foreign ministry's website" July 19, 2007.

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Russia, Britain and the Lugovoi Affair

In a January 17, 2007, post in Russia Profile, writer Shaun Walker observed: "The decision by new British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to expel four Russian diplomats from Britain and tighten visa regulations for Russian officials dominated the front pages of British and Russian newspapers this morning. Both sides were indignant with the other, with only isolated voices of reason among the rhetoric." It's all related to the Litvinenko affair and the extradition of  Andrei Lugovoi, described by Wikipedia as:

a former KGB operative and millionaire who met with Alexander Litvinenko on the day Litvinenko fell ill (1 November 2006). Litvinenko died later that month from radiation poisoning caused by polonium-210, and on 22 May 2007 British officials charged Lugovoi with Litvinenko's murder, announcing they would seek his extradition from Russia. However, a Russian official stated it was against the Russian constitution to perform extraditions of Russian citizens.
Britain wants Lugovoi "to face trial" for the murder of Mr. Litvinenko, a London-based Russian writer, dissident and himself a former operative of  the "Russian Federation's Federal Security Service (FSB)." He became a British citizen a week before he died.

Some observers say he was murdered because of his outspoken views about the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially its policy in Chechnya.

As Wikipedia notes, Litvinenko "tried to publish a book in Russia in which he described Vladimir Putin's rise to power as a coup d'état organised by the FSB. He stated a key element of FSB's strategy was to frighten Russians by bombing apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities. He alleged the bombings were organised by FSB and blamed on Chechen terrorists to legitimise reprisals using military force in Chechnya.". 

To read Walker's entire article, please see "Media Fallout Polarizes Around Lugovoi." Also see Reuters UK's "TIMELINE: The case of poisoned ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Note: Links added for background purposes.

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Is Russian Intelligence Using Same Tactics Under Different Name?

British writer and journalist Martin Sixsmith reported November 21, 2006, in The Guardian that, "The near-unanimity with which the world concluded that Russia's security services were behind the poisoning of Aleksander Litvinenko suggests that the reputation of the KGB has not been erased by renaming it the FSB. And there is plenty of historical evidence that, whatever the name, the organisation's tactics change very slowly," he added.

To read more, see "Different name, same tactics.

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The AP: 'Activists, Reporters Imperiled in Russia'

"Internet postings are calling on Russian nationalists to kill government critics--death lists that underscore the dangers journalists and rights activists face in Russia," Maria Danilova of The Associated Press reported October 11, 2006.

To read more, see "Activists, Reporters Imperiled in Russia.".

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