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August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Putin’

Canadian Politician Irwin Cotler ‘Honored’ to be Banned by Russia

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Irwin Cotler, a veteran human rights activist and member of Canada’s parliament,  says being banned from Russia is an “honor.”

When Russia issued its blacklist of 13 Canadians on Monday, Cotler was quick to express his pleasure at being included. ”I wear my exclusion from Russia as a badge of honor and am proud to be in such distinguished company,” he said in a statement. “I have no intention of visiting Siberia. I have no investments in Sochi. I have no desire to visit Moscow.”

This is not the first time Cotler, renowned for representing Jewish refuseniks from the Soviet era, has been banned from Russian soil.

He was expelled from the Soviet Union and then banned in 1979 while advocating on behalf of political prisoners, including Natan Sharansky. “I was arrested and accused of consorting with ‘criminals,’ among them the great Soviet human rights dissident, Andrei Sakharov,” Cotler wrote on his website. “These acts did not stop my human rights advocacy. Indeed, [Monday's] announcement only inspires me to redouble my efforts to advance the cause of human rights for all.

“I stand in solidarity with the Russian people and those fighting for human rights and democracy. Their day will come and [President Vladimir] Putin will be no more.”

This time, Cotler suspects his banishment is because he introduced a bill regarding Sergei Magnitsky. The Huffington Post reported that Magnitsky was an accountant and auditor in Moscow who uncovered a corruption scheme and testified against several senior Russian officials. He was subsequently imprisoned and died in jail in 2009 at the age of 37. Cotler chairs an intra-parliamentary group on Magnitsky, and he said that is like a “red flag” to Russia.

“My sense is that’s probably the retaliatory reason in my case,” according to Cotler.

He said some of the Americans banned by Russia were people who had worked on the Magnitsky file. Cotler added he does not need to go to Russia to advocate for Magnitsky.

“Our intra-parliamentary group for Sergei Magnitsky is international. It contains parliamentarians from over 20 countries.”

Putin’s Iran Threat is Good for Israel

Monday, March 24th, 2014

In a column analyzing Russia’s recent threat to rethink its position on Iran, Walter Russell Mead and his staff at The American Interest postulated, “Linking the Ukraine crisis with the Iran negotiation is an American nightmare; it might just be a Russian dream come true.” Mead is on to something; however, he stops short in his analysis. Russia’s threat could also be quite helpful to Israel.

Obama entered into the Iran negotiations in order to avoid a military confrontation, as well as to constrain the “true barrier” to peace in the region – Israel. His hope was to bide time, notwithstanding that Iran’s centrifuges would continue to spin, bringing its nuclear capability to the brink or to fruition.

If Iran does in fact go nuclear on Obama’s watch, so be it; he will proceed to sell containment to the American public for the little time left in his term. The carnival salesmen in the White House are quite talented at selling the American people a bill of goods – just look at ObamaCare. While Russia invades a European country and threatens all-out war, the administration spends $52 million of taxpayer funds in just three months on advertising this debacle. One can only imagine what they will spend to convince Americans that a nuclear Iran poses no threat to our national security.

Alas, since reality has yet to penetrate the White House bubble, Obama has likely never lost sleep thinking about Iran’s nuclear capabilities (his Baracketology, next vacation, and golf game, perhaps, but national security, not so much) – that is, until Vladimir Putin stepped into the picture.

Obama’s failure to realize that he is now unmasked as a fool on the world stage does not mean that the rest of the world’s leaders have not noticed. It is not a coincidence that just six months after Putin manipulated Obama out of bombing Syria despite its having crossed Obama’s disingenuous red line, Putin took to annexing Crimea from Ukraine. And Putin did so despite a U.S. promise to protect Ukraine. As one Ukranian parliamentarian stated, “[e]veryone believed that for good or bad the United States would be the world’s policeman. Now that function is being abandoned by President Obama, and because of that Russia invaded Crimea.”

So Mead is correct that linking Ukraine with Iran is good policy for Russia while thrusting Obama into a nightmarish situation. It will cause Obama to quake in his mom-jeans and further diminish American power. Obama has already stated that he will not act militarily in response to the Ukrainian situation. What are his choices if Russia acts on its threat and allies with Iran? Cancel Putin’s Netflix account?

But linking Ukraine and Iran just might be an Israeli dream come true as well. Mead stated, “The Obama strategy has always been a risky one; if Russia shifts into active cooperation with Iran, it is hard to see how the White House can keep hope alive.” True enough.

But if Russia moves into Iran’s camp, Israel has the perfect excuse to move ahead with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and will likely have the support of the entire Western world (in addition to America’s Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia), all of which will be relieved that at least someone is standing up to the bad guys.

Middle East and foreign policy experts have vacillated for years analyzing Israel’s capability to conduct a successful unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, guessing when it might proceed, and wondering whether the United States is holding Israel back from doing so. Some ask why U.S. support is a necessary prerequisite to an Israeli strike that is in Israel’s own national security interests. One need only look at a map of the region and the fact that the country, the size of the state of New Jersey and only nine miles wide at its narrowest point, is surrounded by 21 Arab nations, the vast majority of whom are adversaries, to understand Israel’s need for supportive friends.

Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Clarification and Update:

Wording in the title of this article has been changed from “Rabbi in Crimea Escapes with Torah Scroll” to “Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train”, to avoid any potential misunderstanding that Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc may have stolen the Torah from the Crimea war zone, or abandoned his community in its time of need.

The Torah was moved to a safer location in Simferopol, and Rabbi Lipszyc was advised by his superiors at Chabad headquarters to temporarily move his center of operations out of Crimea. The Rabbi is still working with his community via Skype, phone and email.

JewishPress.com apologizes for any misunderstanding the title may have caused if read out of context from the text of the article.

Crimea’s Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Meyer Lipszyc escaped Simferopol with his wife on the last train that left the area before the Russian sealed it off.

“The main action in Crimea was taking place right across the street from our synagogue,” said Rabbi Lipszyc, who has been a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, for more than two decades. “There were demonstrations with over 30,000 people. The protestors were pro-Ukrainian. But eventually the ones who took over were in the unidentified uniforms—they were obviously Russian military. There was Cossacks there too; for Jews that was a bit scary because of their history in the pogroms.”

Lipszyc spoke told JNS.org, “For the last 22 years under the Ukrainian government, everything has been going very well. When this situation began, it turned things upside down. We were told by Chabad headquarters to get out and we barely made it out. My wife in fact got the last two tickets on a train out of Simferopol on the night before everything got sealed off by the Russians.

He said that despite the referendum that was almost unanimous for annexation by Russia, the thinks “most of the people wanted to stay with Ukraine, because that was what they were familiar with, but then when the Russians took over the media and propaganda switched the other way, within days we saw it swing towards being overwhelmingly pro-Russian.’

The situation is even worse for Americans like the rabbi, he added. “Americans were persona-non-gratis for both Ukrainians and Russians at this time. For Russians it is because of the stance the American government has taken against Russia. While on the Ukraine side they are deeply disappointed that America is not doing enough to help them.

“Oddly enough we had to leave there more because we were Americans and not because we were Jewish.”

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was anything but comfortable for Jews. Rabbi Lipszyc said that the Russian troops cordoned off the synagogue and that he and his wife moved to their house.

At his wife’s suggestion, they decided to move away as far as possible and wrote a note to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to ask his help to get them out.

“Believe it or not, when our friend reached the military checkpoint, he explained to them that we needed to retrieve the Torah out of the synagogue, [the Russian soldier] suddenly moved out of the way and removed the barriers to let him,” according to the rabbi. “On his way out, the solider actually even apologized to him for the inconvenience, which was unheard of there! It was a miracle. We were able to move our Torahs to a safer location in Simferopol, where services were held for several weeks.””

Despite anti-Semitism, Jews are able to practice without interference. However, he noted, “We have to prepare for Passover and need to raise a lot of money to help with the extra costs. We not only need extra security, but we have taken loses during the process.

“We were getting our kosher meat from Ukraine; we had ordered and paid for it, but they [Russian forces] didn’t let it through. We also paid for the Matzos, but that didn’t get through either. We need to figure out how to all our supplies through now. We are appealing to everyone to help out the Jewish community there.”

Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS.org that according to international law and most Western observers, the referendum was illegitimate.

“In 1991, Crimea went to independent Ukraine because, since 1954, it was part of Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic which in turn was an integral part of the Soviet Union,” said Kliger. “That is why nobody really cared. As long as it was a part of the USSR, it did not really matter whether it is formally a part of Russia or Ukraine. Now Russia, using as pretext the instability created by Ukrainian revolution and imaginary ‘discrimination’ against ethnic Russians, just grabbed the opportunity to return Crimea to where, according to Russia, it historically belongs.”

US Rejects Arming Ukraine’s Interim Government

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The Obama administration has rejected an appeal from the interim government in Ukraine that the United States send arms, ammunition and intelligence support, senior officials said Thursday.

With Vladimir Putin breathing down his neck, the last thing President Barack Obama needs is doing anything to aggravate the Russian bear, who already is fuming at the United States for “interfering” in what he calls Russian affairs.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia on Thursday that it faces a “very serious series” of steps from both the us and Europe if it claims sovereignty over Ukraine’s strategic Crimean peninsula

Russia Test-Fires ICBM

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Russia test-fired an ICBM on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The missile was launched near the Caspian sea and hit a target in Kazakhstan.

The launch was probably a warning shot related to the Ukrainian tensions.

Security Cams Show Moment Russians Take Crimean Government Building

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Security camera footage uploaded by Reuters show the moment armed men seized a government building in the Crimean city of Simferopol.

On Saturday, Russian armed forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, after the Russian Parliament authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force in order to control the chaos in the Ukraine.

On Friday, President Barack Obama used strong language to warn Russia against invading Ukrainian territory, saying: “We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine … Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe. It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people.

“It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws.”

The authorization given by the Russian parliament was based on a threat to the lives of Russian citizens and soldiers stationed in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, essentially thumbing Russia’s nose at the American president.

According to the Reuters, heavily armed soldiers had tightened their grip on the Crimean capital, Simferopol on Thursday night, even before Putin’s statement in Moscow. The Russians surrounded government buildings, as can be sen in the video below, shuttered the airport, and blocked city streets.


Putin to Pardon Russian Tycoon from Jewish Family

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Russian president Vladimir Putin said Thursday he will sign pardon for jailed tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky “in the nearest future,” RIA Novosti reported.

Khodorkovsky’s father was Jewish and his mother was Christian. He was Russia’s richest man before his arrested in 2003 and was slated to be freed next August.

“He has spent over 10 years in confinement – which is a serious term, I believe,” Putin told reporters. Now age 50, Khodorkovsky claimed that his trial was a mockery and an attempt to “destroy the reputation of the judicial system and trust in this state institution, merely for the sake of extending a prison term for opponents of the authorities.”

Khodorkovsky funded opposition parties and publicly challenged Putin’s handling of corruption. He and his business partner then were arrested and convicted for tax evasion. When their prison terms nearly expired in 2012, they were sentenced again on charges of money laundering and stealing oil.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/putin-to-pardon-russian-tycoon-from-jewish-family/2013/12/19/

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