Archives for posts with tag: NATO

Image result for turkey animal

turkey |ˈtərkē|
noun (pl. turkeys)
1 common, a much maligned member of the buzzard family Benjamin Franklin had unsuccessfully nominated as the USA’s national symbol.
2 slang, something that is extremely or completely moronic • e.g. a stupid or inept person named Erdogan.
3 formal, a NATO nation located on the Anatolian peninsula in western Asia, with a small enclave in southeastern Europe west of Istanbul; pop. 76,805,500 (est. 2009); capital, Ankara; language, Turkish (official.)

Follows are several examples covering crime and corruption, centered on NATO’s Turkey(s), up to and inclusive of mass murder pinned on the wrong party; or what happens when the ‘national security state’ (read intelligence agencies) make policy, ‘color of law’ supplants constitutions and ‘democratic’ principles are reduced to perpetrating fraud:

When The Enemy of Your Enemy is Your Enemy buying IS oil

NATO’s (not so) Free Press news suppression

NATO’s Most Censored Story false-flag sarin attack

About Those NATO Nukes in Turkey

Mike Flynn & Turkish Silver sold out for 30 pieces

The Poisonous Toad on Fetullah Gulen

Calling Our Corbett Report poisoning the poison gas narrative

No Alliance is Too Obscene the USA ‘tomahawk chop’

All In The Mix: of Sultans, Spooks & Sarin

The Sultan’s Sleaze Circus

Primary Responsible NATO Intelligence Chiefs:

^ John Brennan CIA

^ Mike Pompeo CIA

^ Bernard Bajolet DGSE

^ Gerhard Schindler BND

^ Bruno Kahl BND

^ Alex Younger MI6

^ Hakan Fidan MIT

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Turkey-Dahmer - 1

Where a killer’s sleaze spreads like fungal spores

Sultan Edogan, a sometimes member of the NATO ‘Gladio’ serial killers club, that is, when not freelancing as a serial killer, has the eyes of what one would presume to be a Ted Bundy or Jeffery Dahmer. Or perhaps an Enrique Prado.

How it is serial killers rise to rule in democratic states is not the subject of this essay; rather how it is Erdogan’s very peculiar fungal infection spreads to impact in most surprising ways, stretching the very idea of ‘cross-purposes.’

We begin with this guy

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…who as an Iranian turned Turkish businessman was laundering billions in gold bullion for Iran with a wink and nod from erstwhile American ally & NATO partner Erdogan. No one is certain as to exactly why, but suddenly Reza Zarrab got on the wrong side of the ayatollahs (he probably ripped them off) and they apparently put out a fatwa on him and for reasons even more unclear, this moron-tycoon-criminal deliberately fled into the arms of USA legal jurisdiction and encountered this guy…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Bharara%2C_Preet_Headshot.jpg

Preet Bharara

…when Reza Zarrab full well knew USA prosecutors would be bent on putting him behind bars forever. Seem strange? It get stranger.

NO MENTION of this high profile prosecution at Preet Bahara’s Wikipedia page:

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Trump met personally with Bharara and asked the (in)famous US attorney to stay on in his job. Then, Mike Pence buddy Jeff Sessions fires Bharara and these two infamous morons enter the picture…

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Michael Mukasey & Rudy Giuliani

…who’re somehow interested in ‘trading’ Reza Zarrab to Erdogan, like a cold war spy swap. In case you miss the significance of Giuliani’s involvement, he had been a prime player in ‘rehabilitating’ the Iranian terrorist group Mojahedin-e-Khalq even as that group, which had renounced terror, had been blackmailed back into the game as proxy assassins of Iranian scientists on behalf of Israel. Meanwhile, Mukasey had been a Bush era attorney general/specialist in phony investigations that let the guilty off without charges, notably when he assigned a prosecutor who sat on his hands and did nothing to prosecute the destruction the CIA’s torture tapes. And then, it gets even stinkier, Michael Mukaseys son, Marc Mukasey, is the top contender to replace Preet Bharara as prosecutor of Reza Zarrab:

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Marc ‘the skull’ Mukasey

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“Marc Mukasey, the son of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and a ‘protege’ of former New York Mayor New York Giuliani, emerged as a leading contender this weekend after Trump fired Bharara…”

Here’s the simplified math:

  1. Criminal Iranian turned Turkish tycoon Reza Zarrab launders gold for Iran with a wink and nod from Erdogan.
  2. Iran’s ayatollahs suddenly want specified tycoon dead, the tycoon flees Turkey (!) to the USA knowing he’ll be arrested on arrival.
  3. USA attack-dog/US attorney Preet Bharara puts together a case to see the tycoon off to jail forever.
  4. After change of administrations, Trump meets with the attack-dog-US Attorney and  asks him to stay.
  5. Mike Pence’s fraternal brother, Jeff Sessions, fires Preet Bharara despite Trump previously meeting with and asking Bharara to stay on in the job. Trump keeps quiet.
  6. Mukasey and Giuliani (Both personally met with Erdogan on this specific case and Giuliani is registered as an foreign agent representing Turkey) enter the scene in ongoing attempt to ‘broker’ an international agreement to return the jailed tycoon to Turkey via a deal recalling cold war spy swaps.
  7. The judge presiding over the tycoon’s case hauls said tycoon into court and asks tycoon what’s up with Mukasey & Giuliani meddling. Tycoon doesn’t seem to know, tells judge he’s never spoken with either one.
  8. Michael Mukasey’s kid, Marc ‘the skull’ Mukasey, emerges as a leading contender to take over the role of boss to the prosecutor’s office pursuing this case (decision pending as of this composition.)

By the time the aroma of this sewer can be sorted by the bloodhounds, no doubt multiple millions will have been deposited in several off-shore accounts. With Mukasey and Giuliani in the play, certainly the Sultan of Sleaze hijinks will continue to spread like a fungal ooze. Perhaps most significant, Pence ally Sessions trumps Trump’s stated position of keeping Preet Bharara on the job and Trump says and does nothing.

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Sundry notes

Erdogan, who’s apparently back-stabbed every partner he’s ever had, whether Assad, Islamic State, Russia, the USA & his NATO partners, now decides he can play the Russians off NATO and the Americans; trying to get a bidding war going. Consequently, Putin, from a culture of consummate chess players, has taken complete advantage of the stinky sultan’s paranoia of Kurds and the USA generals incompetence, generals who prefer studying thousands of year old fairy tales at Pentagon Bible studies, generals who’d rather analyze the tactics of Joshua at Jericho to engaging reality. The immediate result?  Putin co-opts the American plans for a ‘no fly zone’ … the Americans would have used the ‘no fly zone’ proposal to shield the recent losers heretofore branded ‘moderate opposition’ (in reality al-Qaida allied Islamist militants), whereas Putin, fully cognizant of the sultan of sleaze paranoia of the American allied Kurds, plays it to perfection; the new circumstance require any ‘moderate opposition’ groups taking advantage of  so-called ‘safe zones’ to engage Islamic State as opposed to Assad… Jesus, how dumb can a bible studying Pentagon be? (pun intended.) When (more likely than if) the stinky sultan back-stabs Putin in this new arrangement, look for Turkey’s Kurds to magically manifest shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles (and much more, Putin’s patience will have run out.)

CIA/MI6/MOSSAD partner Amnesty International plays a publicity stunt with a perfectly worthless 250,000 signatures demanding Erdogan release all jailed journalists, as if a man who fired 150,000 from state institutions and arrested 50,000 of the same would give a shit at what AI has to say. AI would have said NOTHING were Erdogan playing ball by the USA’s rules. Pitifully useless ploy for the American propaganda effort now that it’s clear who has gained control over the stinky sultan, and short of nukes, a weak move in a losing game (speaking of nukes, when push comes to shove, what happened to the NATO tactical nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik air base? The stinky sultan had demonstrated he has more police on location than NATO has soldiers guarding those very nukes. One source claims they were moved but this is also denied)

Turkish-American dual national Sibel Edmonds who’d bravely exposed Gladio B continues to erode her standing with a singular myopia when she quite honestly states Islamic State turning on Turkey is a NATO initiated phenomenon … but in a seeming pro-Erdogan context with her ‘newsbud’ promotion stating…

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“Sibel Edmonds exposes a covert operation aimed against the democratically elected government of Turkey in response to the directional change of the Syrian war”

…Sibel misses something pretty big here; altogether never minding the ‘democratically elected’ Erdogan’s past participation in buying oil from and arming Islamic State (not to mention false-flag gassing Syrians with sarin) … look at a striking resemblance to the USA’s immediate post war ‘commie scare’ leading to a ‘democratically elected’ government initiating the National Security Act of 1947 which has altogether usurped the USA constitution and ultimately led to rogue NATO elements initiating Gladio. Our stinky sultan has managed the same: with blown out of proportion Gulen hysteria behind Turkey’s recent presidential-constitutional referendum pushed over the top by fraud (2nd story HERE.) Turkey’s is decidedly NOT a democratic government now.

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Updated 27 April 2017:

NATO vs Syria

Prior to the ‘world-wide-web’ allowing for the spread of ‘unsanctioned’ information, the world of spies was much safer (for the spies.) Few common people understand the depth of depravity in that world. With the CIA recently up to its armpits in the cesspool of its own making and credibility in serious doubt, the ‘remove Assad for a western pipeline‘ project turns to the French for the new frame-up job; where sarin produced for ‘the moderate opposition’ in Syria (includes a rebranded al Qaida) by NATO’s Turkey is proof ‘Assad did it’ but when the facts are examined closely, we know it is actually NATO intelligence agencies are responsible. However when French intelligence pronounces Assad responsible because the sarin matches the ‘Assad did it’ (actually NATO’s Turkey) from 2013, the western corporate media whore ‘Associated (with journalistic prostitution) Press’ picks up the lie and runs with it.

The simple math: Turkey frames Assad for a sarin attack in 2013, Turkey’s NATO allies all step up and close ranks around the ‘Assad did it’ lie and because the sarin of 2017 matches the sarin of 2013, Assad must’ve done it this time as well.

Don”t get me wrong, I don’t think Assad is some sweet guy, after all, no different to Gaddafi, Assad was willing to take in CIA (out-sourced) renditioned prisoners for ‘enhanced’ (super-barbaric) torture prior to NATO stabbing him in the back. However if this immediate preceding should be out in the open, the truly responsible parties to the sarin attacks should be in the open as well. If indeed there is a sarin match to the 2013 attack, this would point to NATO’s Turkey having supplied Islamic militants rather than ‘Assad did it’

That French intelligence would perpetrate this tired lie is nothing short of psychopathic; but that’s how the game is played. This link is the lie as presented at France 24 (and how we know better after that)

http://www.france24.com/en/20170426-french-intelligence-syrian-regime-behind-disputed-chemical-attack

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One year ago, Eric Zuesse put words in Seymour Hersh’s mouth in an article titled “Seymour Hersh Says Hillary Approved Sending Libya’s Sarin to Syrian Rebels” picked up by several ‘alternative’ news sites including Strategic Culture Foundation:

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One year on, this patent disinformation has been disseminated widely, so far as finding its way into the almost always astute Corbett Report:

In otherwise excellent reporting, at minute 2:07, we discover Zeusse’s disinformation referred to in both audio and screenshot:

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Prior to Turkey’s President Erdogan shutting down pretty much all independent (those unsupportive of Erdogan) media in Turkey, it had been reported (preserved article HERE) some overzealous local police and prosecutors uncovered Turkish intelligence had facilitated delivery of sarin nerve agent to Islamic State in Syria, used to murder over 1,300 Syrians. The plan was to blame this on Basher al-Assad and force Obama to make good on his ‘red line’ threat towards Assad’s removal. According to the reporting, this had been covered up, that is, until a pair of CHP opposition deputies (members of parliament) had brought the criminal investigative file into public and included this following:

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“CHP deputies Eren Erdem and Ali Şeker held a press conference in İstanbul on Wednesday in which they claimed the investigation into allegations regarding Turkey’s involvement in the procurement of sarin gas which was used in the chemical attack on a civil population and delivered to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to enable the attack was derailed.

“Taking the floor first, Erdem stated that the Adana Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into allegations that sarin was sent to Syria from Turkey via several businessmen. An indictment followed regarding the accusations targeting the government.

““The MKE [Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation] is also an actor that is mentioned in the investigation file. Here is the indictment. All the details about how sarin was procured in Turkey and delivered to the terrorists, along with audio recordings, are inside the file,” Erdem said while waving the file”

What did Hersh actually say?

Independent of this preceding reporting, Seymour Hersh, in his essay ‘The Redline and the Ratline’, attributes the August 2013 sarin attack (blamed on Assad) to Turkey, from altogether different sources via American intelligence:

“‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’”

Hersh also cites DIA intelligence that independently matches the Zaman reporting on Turkey providing the sarin precursor chemicals to Islamic radicals except Al-Nusra (al-Qaida) rather than Islamic State:

“‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’”

Then, Hersh appears to be referring to the same intelligence agency endeavors reported in the (now shut down newspaper) Zaman story covering the CHP deputies in Turkey:

“Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention”

Hersh then cites the DIA again, pointing to Turkey supplied sarin precusors, pointing to a Turkish company as suppliers, for purpose of acquiring “sarin precursor” chemicals:

“The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’.

None of this points to the ‘ratline.’ Hersh then places a * between paragraphs to change the subject away from the sarin story and moves onto the Libya arms channel. When Hersh does refer back to the subject of sarin in the larger context, he again locates that in Turkey:

“By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT [Turkey’s CIA] was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’

After another * break and moving to conclusions, Hersh again cites USA intelligence source:

“‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’”

What Hersh had actually been describing is, a failing clandestine policy, the ratline, leading to an increasingly desperate Turkey employing a homegrown (in Turkey) plot to provide nerve gas to Islamic militants to gas the Syrian civil populace and blame it on Assad; to draw the USA in more deeply. Nowhere in his article(s) does Hersh claim Hillary was involved with ordering the gas attack, nor does Hersh ever point to the sarin components originating in Libya. But Zuesse, I presume an atheist, behaves like a fundamental Christian interpreting Bible prophecy with his:

“Hersh also said that a secret agreement in 2012 was reached between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to set up a sarin gas attack and blame it on Assad so that the US could invade and overthrow Assad. «By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria». Hersh didn’t say whether these «arms» included the precursor chemicals for making sarin which were stockpiled in Libya, but there have been multiple independent reports that Libya’s Gaddafi possessed such stockpiles, and also that the US Consulate in Benghazi Libya was operating a «rat line» for Gaddafi’s captured weapons into Syria through Turkey” 

After Zuesse claims Hersh said the Americans were premeditated co-conspirators in the sarin attack (Hersh said no such thing), Zuesse ‘sort of’ admits Hersh actually didn’t make that claim, while reading tea leaves that must have ayahuasca hallucinogen residue when going on to make his case Hersh is saying (without saying) the USA delivered the sarin in context that actually shows Hersh never inferred as much.

Hillary is a world class criminal without having to lay false blame on her giant ass. What Zeusse had done is, deflect blame from the real perpetrators of the attack with Sarin at Ghouta, Syria, in August, 2013. Those perpetrators are, at the top, President Erdogan of Turkey and his intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. Zuesse blew it. His story is bollocks.

That the Corbett Report would pick up what amounts to a lie and run with it, points to the dangers of not vetting stories; and perhaps, harboring prejudiced associations; where a Turkish Sufi news outlet (the Zaman shut down by Erdogan) by default associated with Fetullah Gulen, would have reliably reported the facts must give close Corbett Report associate (and more often astute) Sibel Edmonds a case of hives.

And, of course, none of Zuesse’s disinformation does anything to help the Turkish member of parliament who’d blown the whistle and revealed the investigative files which determined the sarin precursor chemicals had been imported by Turkish companies, FROM EUROPE, and then delivered by Turkish intelligence to Islamic militants:

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“All basic materials are purchased from Europe. Western institutions should question themselves about these relations. Western sources know very well who carried out the sarin gas attack in Syria

“As for his accusations about Turkish businessmen being involved in supplying Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) with the poisonous gas sarin and other reactants needed for chemical warfare, Erdem maintained this statement was made based on the results of a Turkish court investigation in 2013”

Note: The confusion between sources of  whether sarin was being delivered to Islamic State or al Nusra (al Qaida) appears to stem from these events were occurring about the time al Qaida in Iraq and Levant (includes Syria) was splitting into the separate groups Islamic State and al Nusra (or perhaps indicates Turkey supplying both)

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This in from Raghead a.k.a. Bill Purkayastha, his other blog HERE

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Disclaimer: Just in case James Comey’s FBI doesn’t get it, this IS a satirical cartoon that does NOT support terrorism, and especially does not support NATO’s Gladio B false-flag terror:

Why is the USA media, intelligence agencies and congress in hysteria over “Russian propaganda”? Because the Russians have,  for quite some time, had the absolute upper hand in the growing field of alternative media. How is that?

What the Russians appear to have clearly recognized is how to take advantage of the corrupt nature of the western ‘mainstream’ press, an institution which has been co-opted by western intelligence agencies for a very long time.

The Russian method? It could not be more simple; report the actual facts in the geopolitical contest and when this is inconvenient, practice lies by omission. Here is an example: Both NATO (an extension of the USA) and Russia are contesting Syria over competing energy pipelines, primarily. One from Iran transiting Syria, favored by Russia; the other from Qatar transiting Syria, favored by NATO.

The disadvantage NATO has faced in this competition is Syria controlled by a Russian ally, that is, the government of Basher al-Assad.

Because NATO sponsored Salafist militants to effect ‘regime change’ (the preferred NATO model since 1980s Afghanistan), a large number had, not surprisingly, gone out of control (e.g. Islamic State is a direct result.) Paradoxically, NATO aligned states have pitched the anti-Assad endeavor in terms of a ‘war on terror’, and there are so many NATO lies (and lies to cover lies) in the co-opted western media, the Russians only need to stick to the facts (omitting the pipeline) to ultimately win the propaganda war. What’s more is, Russia further only need stand back and allow western dissident journalists to dig up the real facts on the ground:

  1. NATO’s ‘moderate’ rebels are aligned with al-Qaida…………….. ✓
  2. NATO policy created the conditions for the rise of IS…………… ✓
  3. Western ally Saudi Arabia bankrolls the Salafist extremists……. ✓
  4. NATO member Turkey has protected & supplied IS…………….. ✓

Depending on the geopolitical reality of the day, for instance whether the paranoid ego-maniac Sultan Erdogan of Turkey is behaving well or not, the stories by western dissident journalists that will withstand a close scrutiny are run in Russian or Russia friendly media outlets. The result? Odds are 100:1 you’ll get more reliable information from Russian state TV or Russian sponsored websites than from ABC, CBS, CNN or NBC.

Shoot the messenger

 At the end of the day, the only solution NATO’s main sponsor, the USA, can come up with to protect it’s colossal efforts to deceive and manipulate the western public is to silence dissident journalists by cutting off access to alternative media. Zerohedge on the present proposal:

“On November 30, one week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against “Russian propaganda fake news”, with 390 votes for, the House quietly passed “H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017“, sponsored by California Republican Devin Nunes (whose third largest donor in 2016 is Google parent Alphabet, Inc), a bill which deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including Russian propaganda, or what the government calls propaganda, and hints at a potential crackdown on “offenders.”

“A quick skim of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”,  whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in  coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

“The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:

  • Establishment or funding of a front group.
  • Covert broadcasting.
  • Media manipulation.
  • Disinformation and forgeries.
  • Funding agents of influence.
  • Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
  • Assassinations.
  • Terrorist acts.

“As ActivistPost correctly notes, it is easy to see how this law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, a list which has been used to arbitrarily define any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media’s proclivity to serve as the Public Relations arm of a given administration [see the immediate preceding post, ‘On Fake News‘, at this blog]

Russian victory enhanced

The reactionary moves by the NATO/USA propagandists to having been bested in the game by Russia only sweetens the Russian victory; similar to Erdogan’s over-reaction in cracking down on anyone who doesn’t follow the ruling party line in Turkey, the USA governing elite is sowing ever deepening dissent in the psyche of those Americans actually inclined to think, understand and know for themselves what is actually going on. The sort of reactionary behavior embodied in the color of law [anti-constitutional order represented in the ‘national security state’] governing the United States and its allies destabilizes any society.

Propaganda budget

The USA media mouthpieces are not going to broadcast the American propaganda budget, so let’s turn to Russia’s Sputnik to get the facts:

“Last year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the US federal agency responsible for Voice of America and Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, among others, requested a substantial budget increase. Seeking a boost of $30 million, the BBG’s budget soared to $751.5 million.

“That was, evidently, not enough money. President Obama’s newly proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 proposes another massive increase in spending for the BBG. If granted, the agency will receive nearly $778 million, a roughly $27 million increase” [over the $30 million boost]

The Russians are willing to broadcast the factual news the USA’s intelligence agency co-opted media mouth-pieces will not. Point made?

Western press propagandizing Americans

How much of the USA’s propaganda budget is actually aimed at Americans?

The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed.

The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion

Huh. And yeah, that was made into law.

Odd bedfellows

Glenn Greenwald’s related, and otherwise excellent piece ‘Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group‘ throws a bone to one of the very worst propaganda prostitutes extant on the world-wide-web: Elliot Higgins of Bellingcat. WTF.

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Related: On Fake News

Exile

A Ronald Thomas West assessment

Updated 31 July 2016: So, now in (post-coup attempt) Turkey it’s a choice between the democratically elected paranoid narcissist Erdogan, who’s been intimate with the CIA in the efforts to overthrow Assad, behaving somewhat like Mao during the cultural revolution (democratic principles have recently died in Turkey the attentive might notice) embarking on a massive purge of the CIA sponsored Gulen movement and turning to the Russians to keep him in power; or whoever NATO (a future coup) will again attempt replacing him with. Some choice.

Meanwhile (pre-coup attempt) a Gulen associated newspaper, Today’s Zaman, had been shut down by Erdogan following its’ reporting Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT was doing business with Islamic State (supplying arms), as well MIT had facilitated supplying the sarin components used by al-Qaida at Ghouta, Syria in August 2013 (blamed in western media on Assad.) The journalists were jailed. The CHP deputies (members of parliament) who’d produced the sarin investigative files (by now jailed investigating police and judges) have since had their immunity lifted. The main opposition CHP (Republican People’s Party), also under repression, can hardly be accused of any historic sympathy for Gulen. The censored reporting checks out as absolutely legitimate and had been doing the USA no favors. So, who did the shutting down of Today’s Zaman benefit? It follows, the post-coup attempt Gulen ‘fifth column’ purge argument is simplistic, inaccurate, serves as cover for a much wider purge on behalf of the blossoming dictator Erdogan, and as well has been about shutting up news outlets exposing Erdogan as complicit in CIA associated crimes. It’s not a black & white movie folks. If the CHP has been recently linking up with the so-called Gulen movement, it is most certainly survival driven. Then, there’d been the Zaman reporting on the (not so small) matter of Islamic State doing the bulk of its oil exports via Erdogan’s Turkey, as noted previously by the Russians (and admitted by the Pentagon.)

A bit of post-coup attempt levity on Turkey’s purge of the so-called ‘Gulen movement’ or ‘fifth column’ would be an analogy; if every Reform Jew in the USA were fired from their civil service job, inclusive of police, judges, educators, military, legislators, mayors and more, because their leadership were international criminals in bed with MOSSAD via AIPAC, the result would be tens of thousands of honest civil servants who went to work every day simply to do a honest job; purged as a so-called ‘fifth column.’ Tens upon tens of thousands of firings and arrests in Turkey because Gulen has slept with the CIA (Erdogan had done that as well) cannot be construed to be neutralizing a ‘fifth column’ but should rather be construed to be a fracturing society on the road to a police state and likely civil war. The CIA associated Gulen’s notorious rival, the (until just recently) CIA associated paranoid-narcissist Erdogan, might be in some respects popular but popularity does not excuse world class crimes. Meanwhile, the Russians might consider the criminal character and motives of Erdogan, now that he’s pivoting in their direction (I’m certain Putin has no illusions about the filthy character embodied in the current President of Turkey.) It follows, NATO is about to come apart at the seams, Turkey had been their historic under-belly access to Russia and storage site of up to 100 tactical nuclear weapons, guarded by Erdogan’s military. Listen hard for the fellatio the Pentagon will be required to perform to attempt correcting another CIA world class screw-up that can never be admitted; as it would appear the CIA, with a failed coup attempt, just handed control of a Pentagon nuclear arsenal to an unstable paranoid nominally in charge of nation in process of imploding.

Note 1: Those inclined to endorse Erdogan’s mistaken belief the attempted coup was orchestrated via the US military at Incirlik airbase should be disabused of such a fantasy; recalling military career is almost certainly the most common of all CIA operative covers, surpassing the Department of State diplomatic corps.

Note 2: Seven thousand militarized Turkish police suddenly mobilized at Adana, Turkey, location of NATO’s Incirlik airbase coincides with the emergency visit of the USA’s top military commander sending a message concerning the facility where Turkey secures up to 100 of NATO’s (USA) tactical nuclear weapons.

Related: How Dumb is the CIA, Part One

16 March 2016, Today’s Zaman English language website has been taken down. Replacing it is a Turkish language pro-government webpage. More on censored Zaman stories HERE. It didn’t take long, since 6 March when you would go to the Turkish language Zaman website you’d see…

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…which translates to English: “The Zaman Gazette website is being updated. Soon we will provide more quality and unbiased service to our readers”

Meanwhile it is reported the 6 March Sunday Zaman paper sold in Turkey’s newstands runs a headline of Erdogan at a newly constructed bridge ribbon cutting ceremony…

…with Erdgan’s court trustee conflict of interest evidence and related incriminating documents and other information disappeared (but preserved here.)

Here is the last pre-censorship article (screenshot headline followed by preserved illustrations and text) of Today’s Zaman in Istanbul. Future editions will be published (if anything is published) by the minions of Sultan Erdogan’s state apparatus and one of the last, important voices of dissent reporting on the crimes of NATO’s Turkey will have been silenced. Today’s Zaman’s sins? Reporting on corruption in the present Turkey regime, inclusive Turkey doing arms business with Islamic State, Turkish intelligence providing the sarin precursor chemicals to al-Nusra (al-Qaida) used to kill 1,400 Syrians; blamed on Assad… examples given.

Today's_Zaman.jpg - 1

4 March 2015

An İstanbul court has appointed trustees to take over the management of the Feza Media Group, which includes Turkey’s biggest-selling newspaper, the Zaman daily, as well as the Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency, dealing a fresh blow to the already battered media freedom in Turkey.

The decision was issued by the İstanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace at the request of the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which claimed that the media group acted upon orders from what it called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” praising the group and helping it achieve its goals in its publications.

The prosecutor also claimed that the alleged terrorist group is cooperating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization to topple the Turkish government and that high-level officials of the two groups have had meetings abroad.

The court decision means that the entire management and the editorial board of Feza Media Group companies will be replaced by the three-member board named by the court.

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A crowd of Zaman and Today’s Zaman journalists, readers and supporters gathered outside Zaman’s headquarters as court-appointed trustees were expected to arrive at any moment.

Zaman Editor-in-Chief Abdülhamit Bilici addressed his colleagues on the grounds of the newspaper, calling the court decision a “black day for democracy” in Turkey as journalists and other newspaper workers held up signs that read: “Don’t touch my newspaper” and chanted “free press cannot be silenced!”

“Today, we are experiencing a shameful day for media freedom in Turkey. Our media institutions are being seized,” Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Sevgi Akarçeşme said as she addressed the crowd.

“As of today, the Constitution has been suspended,” she said, referencing to the fact that the Turkish Constitution forbids seizure of printing houses and press equipment.

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Şahin Alpay, a veteran political expert and a columnist for both Zaman and Today’s Zaman, lamented the situation, saying Turkey is having a “dark day” when one of the most prominent media outlets in the country is being confiscated at the order of a political leader.

“It is utterly saddening, particularly for people of my generation, that Turkey is turning into a third-world dictatorship,” Alpay said.

The takeover of Zaman comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that he founded intensified pressure on the Turkish media. Zaman, which is affiliated with the Gülen movement, is one of the few opposition media outlets in the country, which is dominated by pro-government television stations and newspapers.

Turkey’ satellite provider Türksat halted the broadcast of the independent İMC TV station last week on terrorism charges. Two newspapers and two television stations owned by Koza İpek Holding were placed under the management of a trustee board on charges of financing terrorism in October 2015. Those media outlets were closed down by the trustee board due to financial losses last week.

“This is not a matter of a fight between the government and the [Gülen] movement. This is a matter of existence for Turkey,” columnist Levent Gültekin said as he joined the crowd outside Zaman in a show of solidarity. “Just a few days ago, they pulled the plug on İMC TV for ‘supporting terrorism,’ which is a massive lie.”

Erdoğan declared the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, his number one enemy after a corruption investigation in December 2013 that implicated people in his inner circle. He accused alleged sympathizers of the movement within the judiciary and the police of staging a coup against his rule. The corruption charges were dropped after prosecutors of the case were replaced.

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According to the court’s decision three trustees were appointed to the Feza Media Group. One of the trustees is Sezai Şengönül, who serves as an editor at a news website. The two others are lawyers are Tahsin Kaplan and Metin İlhan.

İlhan’s social media accounts showed that he is an open supporter of the AK Party and Erdoğan. His personal Twitter account’s background photo shows Erdoğan and Davutoğlu while some of his tweets even included insults at main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

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APEC-SUMMIT

ALEXANDER KADOBNOV/AFP/GettyImages

 

“if someone is not happy with our stance, they could find a better option than declaring us an enemy every time. Would not it be better to listen to us, to critically reflect on what we say, to agree to something and to look for a common solution?” -Vladimir Putin, 5 January 2016

Vladimir Putin’s interview with [German newspaper] Bild:

Bild: Mr President, We have just marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. Last year, we witnessed a great number of wars and crises across the world, something that had not happened for many years. What did we do wrong?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: You have started just with the key question. We did everything wrong from the outset. We did not overcome Europe’s division: 25 years ago the Berlin Wall fell, but Europe’s division was not overcome, invisible walls simply moved to the East. This created the foundation for mutual reproaches, misunderstanding, and crises in the future. Many people, including in the Federal Republic [of Germany], criticise me for my well-known speech at the Munich Conference on Security. But what was so unusual that I said?

After the Berlin Wall fell, there were talks that NATO would not expand to the East. As far as I remember, the then Secretary General of NATO, national of the Federal Republic Manfred Woerner said that. By the way, some German politicians of that time gave warnings and proposed their solutions, for example, Egon Bahr.

You know, before meeting with German journalists I, naturally, thought that we would anyway come to the issue you have touched upon now, so I took archived records of talks of that period (1990) between Soviet leaders and some German politicians, including Mr Bahr. They have never been published.

Bild: Are these interviews?

Vladimir Putin: No, these are working discussions between German politicians Genscher, Kohl, Bahr and Soviet leadership (Mr Gorbachev, Mr Falin, who, I think, headed the International Division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party). They have never been made public. You and your readers will be the first to learn about this talk of 1990. Look what Mr Bahr said: “If while uniting Germany we do not take decisive steps to overcome the division of Europe into hostile blocs, the developments can take such an unfavourable turn that the USSR will be doomed to international isolation.” That was said on June 26, 1990.

Mr Bahr made concrete proposals. He spoke about the necessity to create a new alliance in the centre of Europe. Europe should not go to NATO. The whole of Central Europe, either with East Germany or without it, should have formed a separate alliance with participation of both the Soviet Union and the United States. And then he says: “NATO as an organisation, at least its military structures must not extend to include Central Europe.” At that time, he already was the patriarch of European politics, he had his own vision of Europe’s future, and he was telling his Soviet colleagues: “If you do not agree with it, but on the contrary agree with NATO’s expansion, and the Soviet Union agrees with it, I will never come to Moscow again.” You see, he was very smart. He saw a deep meaning in that, he was convinced that it was necessary to change the format radically, move away from the times of the Cold War. But we did nothing.

Bild: Did he come to Moscow again?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. This talk took place on February 27, 1990. This is a record of the conversation between Mr Falin representing the Soviet Union and Mr Bahr and Mr Voigt representing German politicians.

So what has actually happened? What Mr Bahr had warned about – that’s what has happened. He warned that the military structure – the North Atlantic Alliance – must not expand to the East. That something common, uniting the whole of Europe must be created. Nothing like that has happened; just the opposite has happened what he had warned about: NATO started moving eastwards and it expanded.

We have heard a thousand times the mantra from our American and European politicians, who say: “Each country has the right to choose its own security arrangements.” Yes, we know that. This is true. But it is also true that other countries have the right to make decisions to expand their own organisation or not, act as they consider appropriate in terms of global security. And leading NATO members could have said: “We are happy that you want to join us, but we are not going to expand our organisation, we see the future of Europe in a different way.”

In the last 20–25 years, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union when the second centre of gravity in the world disappeared, there was a desire to fully enjoy one’s sole presence at the pinnacle of world fame, power and prosperity. There was absolutely no desire to turn either to international law or to the United Nations Charter. Wherever they became an obstacle, the UN was immediately declared outdated.

Apart from NATO’s expansion eastwards, the anti-ballistic missile system has become an issue in terms of security. All this is being developed in Europe under the pretext of addressing the Iranian nuclear threat.

In 2009, current President of the United States Barack Obama said that if Iran’s nuclear threat no longer existed there would be no incentive for establishing the ABM system; this incentive would disappear. However, the agreement with Iran has been signed. And now the lifting of sanctions is being considered, everything is under the IAEA control; first shipments of uranium are already being transported to the Russian territory for processing, but the ABM system is being further developed. Bilateral agreements have been signed with Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Spain. Naval forces that should operate as part of missile defence are deployed in Spain. A positioning area has already been created in Romania, another one will be created in Poland by 2018; a radar is being installed in Turkey.

We strongly objected to developments taking place, say, in Iraq, Libya or some other countries. We said: “Don’t do this, don’t go there, and don’t make mistakes.” Nobody listened to us! On the contrary, they thought we took an anti-Western position, a hostile stance towards the West. And now, when you have hundreds of thousands, already one million of refugees, do you think our position was anti-Western or pro-Western?

Bild: As far as I understood, you have summed up the mistakes made by the West with regard to your country. Do you believe that Russia on its part has made any during these 25 years?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, it has. We have failed to assert our national interests, while we should have done that from the outset. Then the whole world could have been more balanced.

Bild: What you just said, does that mean that starting from 1990–1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all the years after it, Russia has failed to clearly assert its national interests?

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.

Bild: We know that you have special attitude towards Germany. Ten years ago in an interview given to us on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II you said: “Russia and Germany have never been so close to each other as they are now.”

What do you believe has been left of that closeness to this day?

Vladimir Putin: Our relations are based, most importantly, on mutual attraction of our peoples.

Bild: So nothing has changed in this respect?

Vladimir Putin: I think, no. Despite all the attempts (you and your colleagues have been making) to upset our relations using mass media and anti-Russia rhetoric, I believe that you have failed to do this to the extent that you wanted to. Of course, I do not mean you personally. I refer to the media in general, including German ones. In Germany, the media are under a strong foreign influence, first and foremost from the other side of the Atlantic.

You have said that I have summed up everything that we see as the mistakes made by the West. That was far from everything, I have named but a few most important points. After the Soviet Union collapsed, equally adverse processes emerged inside Russia itself. Those included a drop in industrial production, the collapse of social system, separatism, and the most evident onslaught of international terrorism.

Certainly, we are responsible, there is no one but us to blame. At the same time, for us it was an obvious fact that the international terrorism was also used as a means of fighting against Russia, while everyone either turned a blind eye on that or provided support to terrorists (I refer to political, information, financial or in some cases even armed support to the actors fighting against the Russian state). Certainly, at that moment we realised that discussions and geopolitical interests are completely different things.

As for the Russian-German relations, indeed, they reached an excellent level in 2005, and would have developed successfully further. The trade turnover between our two countries grew to over $80 billion.

In Germany, a huge number of jobs were created thanks to Russian-German cooperation. We tried to prevent negative developments in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, together.

We made major steps in furthering our energy cooperation. A lot of German entrepreneurs opened businesses in Russia, and thousands of enterprises were established. Exchanges between our citizens expanded, and humanitarian contacts developed. The Petersburg Dialogue public forum was also established at that time.

As I have said, our trade turnover used to reach $83–85 billion, and in the first months of 2015 it fell by half. I believe as of the end of the year it will stand at about $40 billion, at 50 percent of what it was. Nevertheless, we maintain relations, and the Federal Chancellor and I meet regularly at various events. I think, I met her seven times, and had 20 telephone conversations with her in 2015. We still hold reciprocal Years of the Russian Language and Literature in Germany and Years of the German Language and Literature in Russia. This year is to be the year of youth exchanges. So the relations are still developing, thank God, and I hope they will develop further. We will overcome the difficulties we are facing today.

Bild: If I got you right, NATO should have told the East European states there and then that it would not admit them? Do you believe NATO could have survived that?

Vladimir Putin: Certainly.

Bild: Yet this has been set forth in the NATO Charter.

Vladimir Putin: The Charter is written by people, isn’t it? Does the Charter say that NATO is obliged to admit everyone who would like to join? No. There should be certain criteria and conditions. If there had been political will, if they had wanted to, they could have done anything. They just did not want to. They wanted to reign.

So they sat on the throne. And then? And then came crises that we are now discussing. If they had followed the advice the old wise German, Mr Egon Bahr gave them, they would have created something new that would unite Europe and prevent crises. The situation would have been different, there would have been different issues. Perhaps they would not have been that acute, you see.

Bild: There is a theory saying that there are two Mr Putins: the first one was young pre-2007 Mr Putin who showed solidarity with the United States and who was friends with Mr Schroeder, and then, after 2007, another Mr Putin came. Back in 2000 you said, “We should have no confrontations in Europe, we should do everything to overcome them.” And now we have found ourselves in such confrontation.

May I ask you a straightforward question? When we are going to have the first Mr Putin back?

Vladimir Putin: I have never changed. First, I still feel young today. I was and I continue to be Mr Schroeder’s friend. Nothing has changed.

My attitude to such issues as the fight against terrorism has not changed either. It is true, on September 11 I was the first to call President Bush and express my solidarity. Indeed, we stood ready to do everything to combat terrorism together. Not so long ago, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I called and then met the President of France.

If anyone had listened to Gerhard Schroeder, to Jacques Chirac, to me, perhaps there would have been none of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as there would have been no upsurge of terrorism in Iraq, Libya, or other countries in the Middle East.

We are faced with common threats, and we still want all countries, both in Europe and the whole world, to join their efforts to combat these threats, and we are still striving for this. I refer not only to terrorism, but also to crime, trafficking in persons, environmental protection, and many other common challenges. Yet this does not mean that it is us who should agree with everything that others decide on these or other matters. Furthermore, if someone is not happy with our stance, they could find a better option than declaring us an enemy every time. Would not it be better to listen to us, to critically reflect on what we say, to agree to something and to look for a common solution? That was what I referred to at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in New York.

Bild: I would like to express the view that today the fight against Islamic terrorism is such an acute issue that it could bring Russia and the West back together in this fight, but the problem of Crimea arises. Is Crimea really worth putting cooperation with the West at stake?

Vladimir Putin: What do you mean when you say ‘Crimea’?

Bild: Redrawn boundaries.

Vladimir Putin: And what I mean is people – 2.5 million of them. These are the people that were frightened by the coup; let’s be frank, they were worried by the coup d’état in Ukraine. And after the coup in Kiev – and it was nothing but a coup d’état, no matter how the extreme nationalist forces, the forces that were coming to power at that moment and largely stayed there, tried to sugar it up – they just began to openly threaten people. To threaten Russians and Russian-speaking people living in Ukraine and in Crimea in particular, because it was more densely populated by Russians and Russian-speaking than other parts of Ukraine.

What was our reaction? We did not make war, nor did we occupy anyone; there was no shooting, no one got killed during the events in Crimea. Not a single person! We used the Armed Forces only to stop more than 20,000 Ukrainian service members stationed there from interfering with the free expression of will by the residents of Crimea. People came to the referendum and cast their vote. They chose to be part of Russia.

Here is a question: what is democracy? Democracy is the will of the people. People voted for the life they wanted. It is not the territory and borders that I am concerned about but the fates of people.

Bild: But borders are a component of the European political order. You have previously said that this is actually very important, including in the context of the NATO expansion.

Vladimir Putin: It is important to always respect international law. In Crimea, there was no violation of international law. Under the United Nations Charter, every nation has the right to self-determination. Concerning Kosovo, the UN International Court of Justice ruled that, when it comes to sovereignty, the opinion of the central government can be ignored. If you are a serious periodical that is honest with its readers, find the transcript of the statement made by the German representative in the International Court of Justice in the archives and cite it. Take the letter, which I believe was written by the US Department of State, or the statement made by the British representative. Find them and read them. Kosovo declared its independence, and the whole world accepted it. Do you know how it in fact happened?

Bild: After the war?

Vladimir Putin: No, it was done by a decision of the Parliament. There was even no referendum held.

What happened in Crimea? Firstly, the Crimean Parliament was elected in 2010, that is when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. This fact I am talking about is extremely important. The Parliament that had been elected while Crimea was part of Ukraine met and voted for independence and called a referendum. Then the citizens voted at the referendum for reunification with Russia. Moreover, as you pointed out quite correctly, the events in Kosovo took place after several years of war and the de-facto intervention by NATO countries, after the bombing of Yugoslavia and missile strikes targeting Belgrade.

Now I want to ask you this: if the Kosovans in Kosovo have the right to self-determination, why don’t the Crimeans have the same right? If we want the relations between Russia and our friends and neighbours in Europe and around the world to develop in a positive and constructive manner, at least one condition must be observed: we need to respect each other, each other’s interests and follow the same rules instead of constantly changing them to suit someone’s interests.

You asked me if I was a friend or not. The relations between states are a little different from those between individuals. I am no friend, bride or groom; I am the President of the Russian Federation. That is 146 million people! These people have their own interests, and I must protect those interests. We are ready to do this in a non-confrontational manner, to look for compromise but, of course, based on international law, which must be understood uniformly by all.

Bild: If, as you say, there was no violation of international law in Crimea, how can you explain to your people that because of that step the West, including at Ms Merkel’s initiative, imposed sanctions against Russia that the Russian population is now suffering from?

Vladimir Putin: You know, the Russian people feel in their hearts and understand in their minds very well what is happening. Napoleon once said that justice is the embodiment of God on earth. In this sense, the reunification of Crimea with Russia was a just decision.

As to the reaction of our western partners, I believe that it was wrong and it was not aimed at supporting Ukraine but at suppressing the growth of Russia’s capabilities. I believe that this should not be done and this is the main mistake; on the contrary, we need to use each other’s capabilities for mutual growth, to address common issues together.

You have mentioned sanctions. In my view, this was a foolish decision and a harmful one. I have said that our turnover with Germany amounted to $83–85 billion, and thousands of jobs were created in Germany as a result of this cooperation. And what are the restrictions that we are facing? This is not the worst thing we are going through, but it is harmful for our economy anyway, since it affects our access to international financial markets.

As to the worst harm inflicted by today’s situation, first of all on our economy, it is the harm caused by the falling prices on our traditional export goods. However, both the former and the latter have their positive aspects. When oil prices are high, it is very difficult for us to resist spending oil revenues to cover current expenses. I believe that our non-oil and gas deficit had risen to a very dangerous level. So now we are forced to lower it. And this is healthy…

Bild: For the budget deficit?

Vladimir Putin: We divide it. There is the total deficit and then there are non-oil and gas revenues. There are revenues from oil and gas, and we divide all the rest as well.

The total deficit is quite small. But when you subtract the non-oil and gas deficit, then you see that the oil and gas deficit is too large. In order to reduce it, such countries as Norway, for example, put a significant proportion of non-oil and gas revenues into the reserve. It is very difficult, I repeat, to resist spending oil and gas revenues to cover current expenses. It is the reduction of these expenses that improves the economy. That is the first point.

Second point. You can buy anything with petrodollars. High oil revenues discourage development, especially in the high technology sectors. We are witnessing a decrease in GDP by 3.8 percent, in industrial production by 3.3 percent and an increase in inflation, which has reached 12.7 percent. This is a lot, but we still have a surplus in foreign trade, and the total exports of goods with high added value have grown significantly for the first time in years. That is an expressly positive trend in the economy.

The reserves are still at a high level, and the Central Bank has about 340 billion in gold and foreign currency reserves. If I am not mistaken, they amount to over 300. There are also two reserve funds of the Government of the Russian Federation, each of which amounts to $70 to $80 billion. One of them holds $70 billion, the other – $80 billion. We believe that we will be steadily moving towards stabilisation and economic growth. We have adopted a whole range of programmes, including those aimed at import replacement, which means investing in high technologies.

Bild: You have often discussed the issue of sanctions as well as the issue of Crimea with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. Do you understand her? Do you trust her?

Vladimir Putin: I am certain that she is a very sincere person. There is a framework within which she has to work but I have no doubt that she is sincere in her efforts to find solutions, including to the situation in southeast Ukraine.

You spoke of sanctions. Everyone says that the Minsk Agreements must be implemented and then the sanctions issue may be reconsidered. This is beginning to resemble the theatre of the absurd because everything essential that needs to be done with regard to implementing the Minsk Agreements is the responsibility of the current Kiev authorities. You cannot demand that Moscow do something that needs to be done by Kiev. For example, the main, the key issue in the settlement process is political in its nature and the constitutional reform lies in its core. This is Point 11 of the Minsk Agreements. It expressly states that the constitutional reform must be carried out and it is not Moscow that is to make these decisions.

Look, everything is provided for: Ukraine is to carry out a constitutional reform with its entry into force by the end of 2015 (Paragraph 11). Now 2015 is over.

Bild: The constitutional reform must be carried out after the end of all military hostilities. Is that what the paragraph says?

Vladimir Putin: No, it is not.

Look, I will give you the English version. What does it say? Paragraph 9 – reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine based on the Ukrainian law on constitutional reform by the end of 2015, provided that Paragraph 11 has been fulfilled, which stipulates constitutional reform.

Consequently, the constitutional reform and political processes are to be implemented first, followed by confidence building on the basis of those reforms and the completion of all processes, including the border closure. I believe that our European partners, both the German Chancellor and the French President should scrutinise these matters more thoroughly.

Bild: Do you think this is not so?

Vladimir Putin: I think they have a lot of problems of their own. But if we are addressing this matter then we must scrutinise it. For example, it says here that changes to the Constitution should be permanent. The Ukrainian Government introduced the law on the special status of those territories, a law that had been adopted earlier, into the transitional provisions. But this law, which they incorporated in the Constitution, was adopted for the duration of three years only. Two years have already passed. When we met in Paris, both the German Chancellor and the French President agreed that this law should be changed and included in the Constitution on a permanent basis. Both the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany confirmed that. Moreover, the current version of the Constitution has not even been approved and the law has not become permanent. How can demands be made on Moscow to do what in fact must be done inline with the decisions of our colleagues in Kiev?

Bild: What is your attitude towards the Federal Chancellor now? You said some time ago that you admired many of her personal qualities. How do things stand now?

Vladimir Putin: When did I say that?

Bild: That you respect her.

Vladimir Putin: I feel the same way now. I have already said that she is very sincere and highly professional. In any case, I think the level of trust between us is very high.

Bild: Let me ask you a personal question. When the Federal Chancellor visited you in Sochi in January 2007, did you know that she was afraid of dogs?

Vladimir Putin: No, of course not. I did not know anything about that. I showed her my dog because I thought she would like it. I told her so later and apologised.

Bild: Mr President, will you take any steps to re-establish the G7 format as the G8?

And another question: what did you think when the US President said that Russia is a regional power?

Vladimir Putin: I did not think anything in particular. Every individual, all the more so the President of the United States, is entitled to his or her own opinion on anything, on partners and on other countries. That is his own opinion, as I also know his opinion that the American nation, the United States is unique. I cannot agree with either of those opinions.

Let me clarify a few things about Russia. First, we do not claim the role of a superpower. This role is very costly and it is meaningless. Our economy is fifth or sixth in the world in terms of volume. It may have moved down to a lower place at present taking into account the economic difficulties I have mentioned but we are confident that we have very good development prospects and potential. We occupy, roughly, the sixth place in the world in terms of purchasing power parity.

If we say that Russia is a regional power, we should first determine what region we are referring to. Look at the map and ask: “What is it, is it part of Europe? Or is it part of the eastern region, bordering on Japan and the United States, if we mean Alaska and China? Or is it part of Asia? Or perhaps the southern region?” Or look at the north. Essentially, in the north we border on Canada across the Arctic Ocean. Or in the south? Where is it? What region are we speaking about? I think that speculations about other countries, an attempt to speak disrespectfully about other countries is an attempt to prove one’s exceptionalism by contrast. In my view, that is a misguided position.

Bild: And what about the G8?

Vladimir Putin: We planned to host the G8 summit in 2014. I think Russia never became a full-fledged G8 member, since there were always separate negotiations between foreign ministers of the other seven countries. I would not say that this mechanism is useless. Meetings, discussions, seeking solutions together are always beneficial.

I believe that Russia’s presence was useful, since it provided an alternative view on some issues under discussion. We examine pretty much the same issues within the G20, APEC in the East and within BRICS. We were ready to host the G8 summit in 2014. It was not us who did not go somewhere; other countries did not come to Russia. If our counterparts decide to come for a visit, they will be most welcome, but we have not booked any tickets yet.

Bild: What do you think about the possibility of re-establishing cooperation, if not within the G8, then, perhaps, with NATO? There was the Russia-NATO Council after all, and you conducted joint military exercises. Is there a chance to re-establish such cooperation or should we forego the prospect altogether?

Vladimir Putin: At the outset, the idea of creating the Council was actively supported, if not initiated, by Mr Berlusconi, the former Prime Minister of Italy, and I believe it was in Italy that we signed the document on establishing the Russia-NATO Council. It was not Russia that cut off cooperation through the G8 or the Russia-NATO Council. We are willing to interact with everyone, once there is a matter for common discussion. We think that there is one, but a relationship can be happy only when the feeling is mutual. If we are not welcome as partners, that is fine with us then.

Bild: Regrettably, at the moment the Russia-NATO relations are at the stage of confrontation, rather than cooperation. Turkish military forces have downed a Russian aircraft, and Russian and Turkish warships are reported to come dangerously close to one another all the more often. Do you think that such developments may at a certain point cause an escalation from a cold war to actual hostilities?

Vladimir Putin: Turkey is a NATO member. However, the problems that have emerged have nothing to do with Turkey’s NATO membership; nobody has attacked Turkey. Instead of trying to provide us with an explanation for the war crime they committed, that is, for downing our fighter jet that was targeting terrorists, the Turkish government rushed to NATO headquarters seeking protection, which looks quite odd and, in my view, humiliating for Turkey.

I repeat, NATO has to protect its members from attack, but nobody has attacked Turkey. If Turkey has vested interests elsewhere in the world, in the adjacent countries, does it mean that NATO must protect and secure these interests? Does it mean that Germany, as a NATO member, must help Turkey to expand into neighbouring territories?

I hope that such incidents will not cause large-scale hostilities. Of course, we all realise that Russia, once under threat, would defend its security interests by all available means at its disposal, should such threats against Russia arise.

Bild: Now let’s turn to Syria, if you do not mind.

We say that we are tackling common challenges there. This is the joint fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, some people in the West say that Russian military forces in Syria are fighting the anti-Assad rebels, rather than ISIS. What would be your response to the allegations that Russia is hitting the wrong targets?

Vladimir Putin: They are telling lies. Look, the videos that support this version appeared before our pilots even started to carry out strikes against terrorists. This can be corroborated. However, those who criticise us prefer to ignore it.

American pilots hit the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by mistake, I am sure. There were casualties and fatalities among civilians and doctors. Western media outlets have attempted to hush this up, to drop the subject and have a very short memory span when it comes to such things. They mentioned it a couple of times and put it on ice. And those few mentions were only due to foreign citizens from the Doctors Without Borders present there.

Who now remembers the wiped out wedding parties? Over 100 people were killed with a single strike.

Yet this phony evidence about our pilots reportedly striking civilian targets keeps circulating. If we tag the “live pipelines” that consist of thousands of petrol and oil tankers as civilian targets, than, indeed, one might believe that our pilots are bombing these targets, but everyone is bombing them, including the Americans, the French and everyone else.

Bild: However, it is clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is carrying out strikes against his own population. Can we say that al-Assad is your ally?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this is a rather subtle issue. I think that President al-Assad has made many mistakes in the course of the Syrian conflict. However, don’t we all realise full well that this conflict would never have escalated to such a degree if it had not been supported from abroad through supplying money, weapons and fighters? Tragically, it is civilians who suffer in such conflicts.

But who is responsible for that? Is it the government, which seeks to secure its sovereignty and fights these anti-constitutional actions, or those who have masterminded the anti-government insurgency?

Regarding your question if al-Assad is an ally or not and our goals in Syria. I can tell you precisely what we do not want to happen: we do not want the Libyan or Iraqi scenario to be repeated in Syria. I have to give due credit to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and I told him this myself, because had he not taken on the responsibility, demonstrated fortitude and brought the country under control, then we might have witnessed the Libyan scenario in Egypt. In my view, no effort should be spared in strengthening legitimate governments in the region’s countries. That also applies to Syria. Emerging state institutions in Iraq and in Libya must be revived and strengthened. Situations in Somalia and other countries must be stabilised. State authority in Afghanistan must be reinforced. However, it does not mean that everything should be left as is. Indeed, this new stability would underpin political reforms.

As far as Syria is concerned, I think that we should work towards a constitutional reform. It is a complicated process. Then, early presidential and parliamentary elections should be held, based on the new Constitution. It is the Syrian people themselves who must decide who and how should run their country. This is the only way to achieve stability and security, to create conditions for economic growth and prosperity, so that people can live in their own homes, in their homeland, rather than flee to Europe.

Bild: But do you believe al-Assad is a legitimate leader if he allows the destruction of his country’s population?

Vladimir Putin: It is not his goal to destroy his country’s population. He is fighting those who rose up against him with deadly force. And if the civilians suffer, I think that the primary responsibility for this is with those who fight against him with deadly force as well as those who assist armed groups.

As I have already said, though, this does not mean that everything is all right out there and that everyone is right. This is exactly why I believe political reforms are needed so much there. The first step in that direction should be to develop and adopt a new Constitution.

Bild: If, contrary to expectations, al-Assad loses the elections, will you grant him the possibility of asylum in your country?

Vladimir Putin: I think it is quite premature to discuss this. We granted asylum to Mr Snowden, which was far more difficult than to do the same for Mr al-Assad.

First, the Syrian people should be given the opportunity to have their say. I assure you, if this process is conducted democratically, then al-Assad will probably not need to leave the country at all. And it is not important whether he remains President or not.

You have been talking about our targets and means, and now you are talking about al-Assad being our ally. Do you know that we support military operations of the armed opposition that combats ISIS? Armed opposition against al-Assad that is fighting ISIS. We coordinate our joint operations with them and support their offensives by airstrikes in various sections of the frontline. This is hundreds, thousands of armed people fighting ISIS. We support both the al-Assad’s army and the armed opposition. Some of them have publicly declared this, others prefer to remain silent, but the work is on-going.

Bild: Finally, I would like to touch upon a topic that has never come up before, that is the rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as if Syria was not enough. Does it mean that this rift can lead us to a very grave conflict?

Vladimir Putin: It hampers the efforts to settle the Syrian crisis and the fight against terrorism, as well as the process of halting the inflow of refugees to Europe, that much is certain.

As for whether this will lead to a major regional clash, I do not know. I would rather not talk or even think in these terms. We have very good relations with Iran and our partnership with Saudi Arabia is stable.

Of course, we regret that these things happened there. But you have no death penalty in your country, right? Despite a very hard period in the 1990s–early 2000s, when we were fighting terrorism in Russia, we abolished the death penalty. And there is no death penalty in Russia at present. There are certain countries that use the death penalty – Saudi Arabia, the United States and some others.

We regret this has happened, especially given that the cleric had not been fighting against Saudi Arabia with lethal force. Yet it is true that an embassy attack is a totally unacceptable occurrence in the modern world. As far as I know, the Iranian authorities have arrested several perpetrators of the assault. If our participation in any form is needed, we are ready to do everything possible to resolve the conflict as soon as possible.

Bild: One last question, Mr President.

During the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, there was heavy criticism in the West of democratic development and human rights situation in Russia. Do you expect similar criticism to arise again during the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

I think the Russian language is more extensive than German. (Noting the long translation of the question from German into Russian.)

Vladimir Putin: I would say the German language is more precise.

The Russian language is more diverse, more elegant. However, such genius minds as, say, Goethe make the German language sound very elegant and beautiful. One can feel its beauty only in German, and to be able to feel it one needs to understand it.

As far as democracy is concerned, the ruling classes usually talk about freedom to pull the wool over the eyes of those whom they govern. There is nothing new about democracy in Russia. As we have already identified, democracy is the rule of the people and the influence of the people over the authorities. We have learned very well the lesson of one-party rule – that of the Communist Party (CPSU). Therefore, we made our choice long ago and we will continue developing democratic institutions in our country. At present, 77 political parties can take part in parliamentary elections in Russia. We have come back to direct gubernatorial elections.

We are advancing the instruments of direct democracy, meaning various public organisations, and will continue to do so. There can be no identical clichés in democracy – be it American, European (German), Russian or Indian. Do you know that twice in American history the President was elected by the majority of delegates representing the minority of voters? Does it mean the absence of democracy? Of course not. But it is not the only or the most important problem. One of the European leaders once told me: “In the United States it is impossible to run for presidency without a few billion dollars in your pocket.”

Now, regarding the parliamentary system of democracy.

I am repeatedly asked: “How long have you been President?” But in a parliamentary democracy, the person number one is the Prime Minister, who can head the Government an unlimited number of times.

We have returned to direct elections of regional heads. In some countries, however, heads of regions are appointed by the central government. I am not sure, I may be wrong, it is probably better to leave it out or to double-check it, but, as far as I know, that is the case in India.

We still have a number of problems to solve before people feel confident that they have real influence over the authorities and that the authorities respond to their demands. We are going to work towards improving our instruments.

As for the attempts to use sport in political rifts and political competition, I believe that is a huge mistake. That is what stupid people do. If problems arise, particularly at the interstate level, sport, art, music, ballet and opera are the very means that should bring people closer together rather than divide them. It is vital to foster this role of art and sport rather than belittle and suppress it.

Bild: Thank you, Mr President, for a wonderful and very detailed conversation.

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