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Update on the banning of opposition political parties in Ukraine

24 September 2022

Since the release on 25 August 2022 of the Fact Sheet “The Banning of Political Parties in Ukraine: Chronology and Status of Appeals”, two more of the seven opposition parties appealing their bans before the Supreme Court of Ukraine have lost their appeals. 

After an appeal hearing on 6 September, the Supreme Court declined to overturn a lower court’s decision to ban the Party of Shariy. It is noteworthy that one piece of evidence used against that party was an interview given by activist Anatoly Shariy, for whom the party is named, five years before the Party of Shariy was founded. 

Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Political Parties in Ukraine”, banning “pro-Russian parties”, were passed by Parliament and signed into law in May 2022. The cases brought by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine against 16 opposition parties, however, have consistently applied that law retroactively to statements and actions dating from long before May 2022, despite the fact that Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ukraine is a party, states: “No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed.” 

The appeal of the party Opposition Platform – For Life (OPFL) was heard before the Supreme Court on 15 September. This party had received 13 percent of the vote in the Parliamentary elections of 2019 and held 44 seats in the Supreme Rada (Parliament), the second largest bloc. The Supreme Court let the lower court’s ruling stand, meaning that the OPFL is now permanently banned in Ukraine.

The next hearing of an appeal is scheduled for Tuesday, 27 September at 10:00am local time. Representatives of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU) will argue their case, that due process and their fundamental civil and political rights have been trampled in the Ministry of Justice and Security Service of Ukraine drive to ban their party. The Central Committee of the PSPU has released a statement, dated 8 September, “Ukrainian Democracy Needs to Be Defended by the Supreme Court against the Government’s Dictatorship” (English translation below). It will be attached to the case files, along with statements by individual PSPU members, when the PSPU representatives argue their case.

Observers, including foreign diplomats and media, are permitted at Supreme Court hearings, which are held at 8 Moskovskaya St., Bldg. 5, in Kyiv. Telephone number for Supreme Court: (044) 207-35-46. For requests regarding specific case files: (044) 501-95-30. The online schedule of hearings before the Administrative Court of Appeal (in Ukrainian) can be checked for updates.

Ukrainian Democracy Needs to Be Defended

by the Supreme Court against the Government’s Dictatorship

Statement

of the Central Committee

of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine

Kyiv, 8 September 2022

We, members of the Central Committee of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU), lawfully elected by a Congress of the PSPU, as confirmed in the Register of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, are compelled to address the Supreme Court in connection with its review of the PSPU’s Appellate Complaint. The purpose of our address is to inform the high court about the real goals and actions of the PSPU, which have been grossly distorted in the statement of claim by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine (hereinafter “MinJust”) and the letter of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which led to an unlawful and groundless decision by the 8th Administrative Appeals Court in Lviv on 23 June 2022.

We dispute that court ruling and fully support the Appellate Complaint of the PSPU dated 21 June 2022, and we demand that the decision of the 8th Appeals Court’s decision be overturned. We hope that, in meticulously reviewing our Appellate Complaint, you will be convinced that that court decision, in effect, abolishes any democratic constitutional order in Ukraine, grossly violates the state’s obligations to ensure the rights of citizens of Ukraine, assembled in the PSPU, under the Constitution and conventions, and abrogates Article 15 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the freedom of political activity, and Article 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Political Parties in Ukraine”, with respect to the protection of opposition activity.

In basing its decision upon the positions of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the court of the first instance grossly violated fundamental principles of European democracy (formulated by the Venice Commission): 1) the rule of law, including a transparent, regulated, and democratic procedure for adopting laws; 2) legal certainty; 3) the impermissibility of arbitrariness in taking decisions; 4) access to due process of law, carried out by an independent and impartial court with the possibility of appealing administrative acts in court; 5) respect for human rights; 6) nondiscrimination and equality before the law.

During the 26 years of the PSPU’s activity, there have been no claims against either the programmatic goals of our party, or against its actions. Not a single administrative or criminal protocol has been drawn up regarding any violations of law by the party, nor has any court ruling found the PSPU to be in violation of either Article 37 of the Constitution of Ukraine or Article 11, Paragraph 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We consider the Decree of the President of Ukraine, dated 19 March 2022, on banning the activity of political parties, including the PSPU, to be a challenge to democratic constitutional principles. That Decree violated the principle of the supremacy of law in Ukraine, unlawfully halted the activity of the PSPU, and, during a situation of heightened tension in the country due to the tragedy of the war, unlawfully attached to our party the political label of a “pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian party”.

We evaluate all that as political repressions against an opposition party, as is confirmed by the political, rather than legal, arguments provided for the claim by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and the ruling by the 8th Administrative Appeals Court of Lviv.

We see in this not only a presumptuous reprisal against our party, but also a violation of all the foundations of Ukraine under the Constitution and conventions. This is the road to totalitarianism, dictatorship, and fascism.

Mankind has already paid with tens of millions of lives for Italian fascism and German Nazism. And now we see horrific parallels.

In 1928 the governing body of the fascist party (the Grand Council of Fascism) became one of the highest agencies in Italy and officially banned all political parties except for the fascists. The same kind of process of banning parties took place in 1933 in Germany, making it possible to establish the Nazi regime. Hitler’s people carried out the Reichstag fire provocation, for which two days later (without any investigation!), Hitler accused the Communists. After this the court exonerated Dimitrov, Tanev, and Popov, but found Marinus van der Lubbe guilty, and he was beheaded. This Nazi sentence was overturned on 10 January 2008, and Lubbe was amnestied on the basis of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) Prosecutor General’s finding that the sentence was incommensurate with the act committed and because the communist was sentenced to death on the basis of a law adopted after the incident.

  In his presentation at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, member of the prosecution from the USA Maj. [Frank] Wallace exposed the essence of German Nazism as being the destruction of everything non-German. Analyzing chapter 4 of the party program of the National-Socialist German Workers’ Party, Wallace brought to the attention of the Tribunal that the theory of a superior race: “had annihilation as its goal. Call something ‘non-German’ or ‘Jewish’, and you have the full right – moreover, you are obligated – to wipe it from the face of the Earth” (Nyurnbergskii protsess [The Nuremberg Trial], collected materials in 7 volumes, Vol. 1, p. 569).

This alarming parallel to a slide into dictatorship and totalitarianism arose from the adoption by the President of Ukraine of Decree №153/2022, dated 19 March 2022, on suspension of the activity of certain political parties (including the PSPU) and the application of that Decree as the basis of the statement of claim by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and the Security Service of Ukraine on banning the activity of the PSPU. The 8th Administrative Appeals Court of Lviv used these grounds for making its ruling to ban the PSPU.

The political and civil rights of citizens of Ukraine, among which are the right of association in political parties, are defined solely by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine and the obligations of the state under ratified international treaties. In particular, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Without withdrawal from these treaties and the passage of amendments to the Constitution, which would endow the President with the right to interfere in the activity of parties by decree (including to halt the activity of parties and to block their bank accounts), it is illegal to manipulate these processes. The application of the Presidential Decree dated 19 March 2022 by the Ministry of Justice, the SBU and the 8th Administrative Appeals Court violated a fundamental principle of the democratic order – the supremacy of law.

This Decree, in violation of the presumption of innocence, labelled all members of the PSPU as “anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian”. Neither the Constitution nor any law of Ukraine contains any legal certainty regarding these terms, nor is there any indication of what these violations of law consist in and what the consequences are for parties in the event of their committing such violations. Consequently, the PSPU evaluates the application of such accusations to parties as a manifestation of Nazism and the annihilation of the opposition on political grounds.

This political label tarnished the dignity of members of our party, who are conscientious, law-abiding citizens of Ukraine, turning them into enemies of their own people in the eyes of not only the Ukrainian, but the world community. This was an instigation to political harassment of members of the PSPU, their families and friends, and to physical reprisals and killings.

With this policy towards members of the PSPU, the President of Ukraine, the MinJust, the SBU and the court of the first instance, in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, launched psychological and moral terror, and created conditions of fear, suffering, and inferiority for members of the PSPU.

One of the examples of such terror was the harassment of member of the CC PSPU, Secretary of the Sumy Regional Committee of the party Sergei Gavras (Serhiy Havras). This outstanding athlete, a world-class master of sports in the javelin throw, many-time champion of Ukraine, the USSR, Europe, the world, and the Olympic Games, was forced in August of this year to leave Ukraine because of harassment in his native town of Romny in Sumy Region, with not only insults, but also threats of physical reprisals. 

We, members of the CC PSPU, are disturbed by the MinJust’s and SBU’s distortion of the programmatic goals, founding principles, and activity of our party. We have been accused of crimes, defined in Article 37 of the Constitution of Ukraine and amendments to Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On Political Parties in Ukraine”, among which is: “The party and its members continue to propagandize a pro-Russian position and circulate reports justifying the actions of the Russian Federation” (Article 7 of MinJust’s claim).

As members of the CC, the governing body of the Party, we are authorized to inform the Court, that this position of the MinJust and the SBU is a politically motivated lie.

The PSPU has never, in the entire 26 years of its opposition activity, called for the use of violence, for a violent change in Ukraine’s constitutional order, for undermining the security of the state, for violating its sovereignty or territorial integrity, for fanning inter-ethnic, religious, or race enmity, or for infringing human rights and freedoms. The PSPU always adopted its decisions collectively – by a congress, by the Central Committee, or by the CC Presidium. All such sessions were always video- and audio-recorded and all resolutions of the PSPU were published.

We draw the Court’s attention to the fact that neither the MinJust nor the SBU presented any decision by the PSPU’s governing bodies in support of their accusations. That is because none exist.

As for the unfounded assertion regarding “continuation of pro-Russian propaganda and justification of the RF’s aggression”, we state that the PSPU has adopted no decisions in that regard, nor could it have done so, because all units of the party (including the governing bodies of the PSPU) ceased their activity as of 24 February 2022.

Unlike the organizational form of the Nazi Party in Germany or the Fascist Party in Italy, which implemented the “fuehrer” principle, i.e., members of the party, before joining, pledge allegiance and unconditional obedience to the head, or fuehrer, of the party, the PSPU Charter embodies the principles of collectivism and democracy in decision-making.

The MinJust, to deceive the court, concealed the contents of the PSPU Charter, according to which all units of the party (from local cells to regional organizations to governing bodies) make their decisions democratically, i.e., by a majority vote of those present. A unique element of democracy within the party is that the governing bodies of the PSPU, the leaders of the PSPU, and the governing bodies and leaders of local and regional PSPU organizations are chosen by secret ballot. That is the highest form of democracy.

The MinJust deliberately left out of account that, upon joining the PSPU, citizens of Ukraine united around the party’s programmatic goals, but did not surrender their personal rights to freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of belief.

Thus, in accordance with the PSPU Charter, the party’s position on any economic, social or political issue was determined by an officially adopted decision. The party bears responsibility for its adopted decisions, but not for the statements or actions of members of the party. We cite Paragraph 1.4 of the PSPU Charter:

“The activity of the PSPU is incompatible with the propaganda of violence, of ethnic, religious, or social enmity, or of narrowing the content of existing human and civil rights and freedoms.

“The party shall bear no liability for the statements or actions of a member of the PSPU, or of leading persons in the local, municipal or regional organizations of the PSPU and their governing bodies, if they violate the Constitution of Ukraine or fail to adhere to the PSPU’s Program and Charter and to the decisions of the Party’s highest governing bodies.”

The PSPU has always been guided, in its programmatic goals and actions, by two fundamental documents, on the basis of which the entire world recognized the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, and, inclusively, guaranteed its territorial integrity. Those documents, adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, are the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine and the Declaration of the Rights of the Nationalities of Ukraine. Section V of the PSPU Program recognizes fulfillment of these two declarations as the PSPU’s minimum program.

The programmatic goals and activity of the party in fulling the aforementioned declarations have not been found to be illegal under any law of Ukraine. It is not the PSPU, but the government of Ukraine, without the approval of our people (without holding a referendum), that has refused to implement those declarations in the conduct of domestic and foreign policy. The government authorities have ignored repeated warnings from the Progressive Socialists about threats to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, in the event that domestic and foreign policy contradict those declarations.

It is the governing regime, not the people of Ukraine by referendum, that adopted the laws on lustration, on decommunization, on the functions of an official language, on making heroes of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN-UPA), on Ukraine’s path into the EU and NATO, and on the sale of land. It is the government, the President, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the SBU, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Justice – upon whom the Constitution lays responsibility for defending the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Ukraine – that miscalculated the risks and consequences of such policies. And now they lay the blame on us.

The essence of democracy, which the governing authorities are obliged to defend, has been set forth many times in decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In particular, in the Prager and Oberschlick case (Prager et Oberschlick c. Autriche. 26.04.95), the court emphasized that the freedom of speech applies not only to “information” or “ideas” that are received positively and considered harmless or insignificant, but also to ones that offend, shock, or perturb the state or any part of society. 

We are disturbed by the position of the SBU and the MinJust, that ideas about developing Ukraine upon the principles of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine have become, in effect, the basis for banning the PSPU. Moreover, that Declaration was supported by the population of Ukraine in two referendums, those of 17 March and 1 December 1991, and acquired the status of highest juridical authority.

The political pretensions set forth by the MinJust in its complaint, supported by the SBU and applied by the court of the first instance in making its ruling on banning the PSPU, contradict the requirements of European democracy and Ukrainian legislation. No law forbids discussion of such political issues as these:

  • a neutral, non-bloc status for Ukraine (i.e., against its joining NATO);
  • granting the Russian language the status of an official language for inter-ethnic communication or the status of a second official language;
  • the impermissibility of making heroes of the OUN-UPA fighters, who collaborated with Nazi Germany;
  • Ukraine’s entry into an interstate union with republics of the former USSR (i.e., against joining the EU);
  • opposition to the sale of land;
  • opposition to a colonial model of capitalism in accordance with International Monetary Fund reforms.

Therefore, to indict the PSPU for raising such questions constitutes political repression and is a manifestation of totalitarianism and dictatorship.

We, members of the CC PSPU, inform the High Court, that our party has funded its activity by contributions from members of the party and has not received financing from any Russian funds.

We reject the SBU falsehood that our party has financed L/DPR terrorists.

We are disturbed that the SBU, having failed to provide any legal substantiation against the legal position of the PSPU’s Appellate Complaint, resorted once again to pressuring the court by packing the case files with so-called evidence in the form of screenshots from Internet websites. That is, information from the Internet cesspool. This has been done on the basis of a review, dated 1 August 2022, of six web pages of little known and probably SBU-controlled websites, on which a pile of dirt against N. Vitrenko has been poured (beginning from her activity in the year 1974), along with fabrications about illegal activity by the women’s organization Gift of Life. 

In violation of the law, the SBU did not submit this information to the court of the first instance, where evidence is supposed to be investigated, but rather attached it to the case files in August of this year. We state that not a single piece of this information has anything to do with the activity of our party in general and, in our view, cannot be recognized by the court as proper and authentic evidence.

We also state that the PSPU did not manage the activity of the All-Ukraine Women’s Organization “Gift of Life”, did not receive any funds from it, and had no plans to use such funds for any illegal activity.

Our party took no decisions and endowed no one (including L. Shesler) with the right to create a Facebook group called “Our Leader is Natalia Vitrenko!” and post information there in the name of the PSPU.

We are disturbed by the MinJust’s distortion of the content of interviews given by PSPU leader Natalia Vitrenko on 22 February 2022 and 24 February 2022. Without study of the transcript, without any forensic examination by expert linguists, without examination of the original electronic evidence, and without the establishment of N. Vitrenko’s guilt in accordance with the procedure established by law, the MinJust has submitted its personal conclusions, suppositions, and personal evaluations as evidence for banning the party.

The MinJust, the SBU, and the court unquestionably know that publications of N. Vitrenko’s interviews without examination of the original sources in the form of complete transcripts (not posted fragments) cannot be accepted as appropriate, authentic evidence. The European Court of Human Rights has determined the need for special protection of statements of a person’s own opinion and evaluative judgments on issues of general interest. For example, in the case Altuğ Taner Akçam v. Turkey, from 25.10.2011, it stated: “…the plaintiff stated his own opinion and critical judgments regarding the situation with the freedom of expression, and his statements were clearly part of debates of issues of general interest. Consequently, his freedom to express his views should enjoy the highest level of protection, while interference in his exercise of that freedom ought to be under strict control; moreover, government agencies should be allowed a narrow limit of freedom for review.”

The interviews given by our party’s leader N. Vitrenko concerned an extraordinarily high level of general interest. N. Vitrenko was not found to be in violation of the law for these personal opinions and evaluative judgments. Consequently, we consider the employment of her statements as evidence for banning the PSPU to be unlawful and disproportionate.

A mockery of the principle of the supremacy of law, and in particular the establishment of actual circumstances, is the MinJust’s position (supported by the SBU and employed by the court of the first instance in making its ruling on banning the PSPU) in submitting as evidence the assertion: “From publicly available sources and analysis of the activity of the Defendant, it is known that the political party Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine is a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine” (p. 5 of the MinJust complaint). This is a travesty of all requirements for the concept of evidence – requirements established both by national legislation and by international norms of law.

By analogy, for example, anyone – in particular, Minister of Justice of Ukraine Maliuska – may be accused of crimes involving drug addiction or pedophilia, based on information from “publicly available sources”, and his dismissal and punishment be demanded. 

We, members of the CC PSPU, inform the High Court, that the political persecution of our party by the SBU and the MinJust has been going on since 2015. On 29 October 2016 the SBU, without stating any pretensions against the PSPU, and without notifying the party’s leaders and in their absence, conducted a search in the central party office in Kyiv (seized the day before by the raider Shatilin). During the search the SBU seized the party’s archive in both paper and electronic form (on hard disks), party literature, blank party cards and official PSPU stationery, and the personal scientific and political libraries of N. Vitrenko and V. Marchenko. In violation of the norms of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, the SBU did not make copies of the seized documents and did not return the originals to the party. We are disturbed, that the SBU could have used the party stationery and blank party cards to fabricate any video-montage, falsifying the activity of our party for the purpose of discrediting it.

Since 2015 the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, by its unlawful activity, impeded the PSPU’s participation in parliamentary, presidential, and local elections, refusing to register the PSPU’s amendments to its Program, Charter, and the make-up of the PSPU’s governing bodies, which had been adopted by congresses of the PSPU. The party was forced to litigate with the MinJust until 2019, trying to overturn its illegal juridical conclusions. We won the court cases, by which the unlawful refusal to register the PSPU’s documents was lifted. The party has attached the judges’ decision to the files of this case.

In 2020 the MinJust was compelled to register the PSPU documents submitted. But this was done only after the presidential and parliamentary elections had taken place, which deprived the public of a political alternative. We believe that by doing this, the MinJust deprived our society of a chance to avoid war.

We, members of the CC PSPU, believe that the MinJust, supported by the SBU and subsequently also by the decision of the 8th Administrative Appeals Court of Lviv, has completely annihilated the legal system of Ukraine as defined by the Constitution of Ukraine and by our country’s obligations under international law, by retroactively applying Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On Political Parties in Ukraine”. This is a disgraceful parallel with Nazi Germany. In 1933, the Communist Marinus van der Lubbe was executed there as the arsonist against the Reichstag, on the basis of a law adopted only after the incident. In 2008 the Prosecutor General of the FRG amnestied him on the grounds that the law was adopted after the incident and the sentence was out of proportion to the violation of law.

The Constitution of Ukraine sought to avert the commission of such dictatorial, totalitarian crimes by establishing in Article 58, Part 1 of the Constitution: “Laws and other regulatory acts have no retroactive validity…”, while Part 2 of that Article states: “No one is answerable for actions, which at the moment of their commission were not recognized by law as violations of law.”

This norm of the protection of democracy against totalitarianism has twice been explicated and supported by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. This question is central to the protections of the European Convention on Human Rights and the practice of the European Court.

Consequently, the MinJust had no right to file on 18 May 2022 its complaint for banning the PSPU on the basis of Article 5 of the Law on Political Parties with amendments, adopted in May 2022, and including indictment of the PSPU for actions that occurred before 24 February 2022.02.2022.

We draw the Court’s attention to the fact that there were no allegations against the programmatic goals and actions of the PSPU until the adoption of points 10 and 11 of Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On Political Parties in Ukraine”. Yet upon the adoption of those points regarding justification of the Russia Federation’s aggression and so forth, the MinJust applied these types of violations, newly introduced into the law, to our party. And it accused us of committing these violations from the moment the PSPU was founded in 1996. For this reason, it submitted to the court the documents of incorporation of the PSPU, from April 1996.

Such a violation of a fundamental principle of juridical certainty – the ban on retroactive application of a law – was likewise committed by the court of the first instance in making its ruling on banning the PSPU.

If the Supreme Court does not overturn the ruling of the 8th Administrative Appeals Court of Lviv, dated 23 June 2022, on banning the PSPU, we believe that will mark the end of democracy in Ukraine.

Addressed to the Supreme Court by members of the CC of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine: Natalia VITRENKO, Chairman of the PSPU; Vladimir MARCHENKO, First Deputy Chairman of the PSPU; Vasily RUDAKOV, Deputy Chairman of the PSPU, Secretary of the Committee of the Kharkiv Regional Organization of the PSPU; Victor BOBOSHKO, Secretary of the Committee of the Cherkasy Regional Organization of the PSPU; Sergei GAVRAS, Secretary of the Committee of the Sumy Regional Organization of the PSPU; Ivan DONETS, Secretary of the Committee of the Chernihiv Regional Organization of the PSPU; Lyudmila GORBACHOVA, Secretary of the Committee of the Vinnytsia Regional Organization of the PSPU; Vera MARISAY, Secretary of the Committee of the Kyiv Regional Organization of the PSPU; Larisa SHAKALENKO, Secretary of the Committee of the Mykolaiv Regional Organization of the PSPU; Tatyana MAKARENKO, Secretary of the Committee of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Organization of the PSPU; Vladimir SOLOZHUK, Secretary of the Committee of the Kirovohrad Regional Organization of the PSPU; Nina SORBA, Secretary of the Committee of the Chernivtsi Regional Organization of the PSPU; Alexander DERENYUK, Deputy Secretary of the Committee of the Odessa Regional Organization of the PSPU; Larisa SHESLER. 

Chairman of the PSPU Natalia Vitrenko


CCD Integration into NATO “Counter-Disinformation” Ops Is Stepping Up

CCD Integration into NATO “Counter-Disinformation” Ops Is Stepping Up–

Sept. 21, 2022 (EIRNS)–Ukraine’s notorious Center for Countering Disinformation (CCD) announced proudly on Sept. 20 that its specialists had participated in the Sept. 13-15 “Counter Disinformation Wargames” organized by the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (“Hybrid COE”) with the support of the NATO Center of Excellence for Strategic Communications in Latvia.

Hybrid COE reported on Sept. 20 also that seven national teams had “practiced countering malicious disinformation disseminated by a red cell simulating Russia, China and their proxies in a closed information environment” during the games, held in Riga, Latvia. For its part, the CCD reported that their team had “learned about the experience of the Czech Republic, Turkey, Slovakia, Finland, Moldova, the Netherlands, as well as other NATO and EU countries in countering Russian and Chinese disinformation,” and “discussed ways of cooperation and joint action algorithms in the context of implementation of joint measures to counter current and projected threats to national security and national interests.” No mention was made as to whether producing joint “blacklists” of foreign figures opposing NATO’s war policies was discussed.

Hybrid COE is another so-called “autonomous institution” created as an extension of NATO.


Amb. Chrysanthopoulos Will Be in First Greek Political Delegation to Russia

Amb. Chrysanthopoulos Will Be in First Greek Political Delegation to Russia–

Sept. 21, 2022 (EIRNS)–Ambassador (Ad Hon) Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, well known to the Schiller Institute as a frequent speaker and supporter, will be a member of the first Greek political delegation to visit Russia since the beginning of the Russia Special Military Operation in the Ukraine. Invited by Municipal Authorities of St. Petersburg for a conference on the fight against Fascism, the delegation will also include Panagiotis Lafazanis, former minister and head of the “Democratic Movement of National Liberation,” and Kostas Karaiskos, head of the “Spartakos” faction and municipal councilor of Komotini district in Greece. It is needless to say all three individuals strongly oppose Greece’s, NATO’s and the European Union’s anti-Russian policy.

The delegation will speak at an event that will be held at the School of International Relations of the historical State University of Saint Petersburg on the fight against Fascism during World War Two. They will speak about Manolis Glezos, the first Greek partisan of the anti-Nazi-anti-fascist front in World War II. In that context they will discuss the modern struggle against a unipolar totalitarian world of the neoliberal globalization of the multinationals and against neo-Nazism and neo-fascism that are rearing their heads again in Europe according to an article in the Greek website, Iskra.gr.

They will also have the opportunity to hold high-level meetings with officials of the St. Petersburg region as well as interviews with Russian media such as TASS. In a statement released by the delegation they declare, “Our presence in Russia should be seen as a bridge for a just peace in Europe and a bridge of friendship to the Russian people, cooperation with Russia and a positive turn in Greek-Russian relations with our country abandoning the anti-Russian sanctions, the shipments of Greek arms to Ukraine and the use of American bases in Greece, for equipping the “junta” and the neo-Nazis of Kiev and the encirclement of Russia.”


Pope Francis Is the Latest Target of Ukraine’s Myrotvorets Hit Squad

Aug. 31, 2022 (EIRNS)–On August 28, the website of the fascist Myrotvorets (“Peacemaker”) hit squad in Ukraine attacked Pope Francis for his recent comments about the assassinated Russian journalist Darya Dugina. Although they did not place His Holiness on their official hit list (at least not yet), the Myrotvorets site warned: “The Myrotvorets Center is closely following statements by the Pope. We note with astonishment that Francis of Rome is voicing Kremlin talking points and belittling the blood-letting of the fascist Russian invaders of Ukraine.”

The remarks by Pope Francis that were considered offensive were made while addressing a congregation in the Vatican on Aug. 24: “Whether they are Ukrainians or Russians … I think of so much cruelty, of the many innocents who are paying for the madness, the madness of all sides because war is madness… I think of the poor girl (Darya Dugina) who was blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for the war.”

That quickly led to a protest by Ukraine’s envoy to the Vatican, Andrey Yurash, who called the remarks “disappointing,” because it is a mistake to speak about the “aggressor” and the “victim” in “the same categories.” Then Kiev summoned the Vatican envoy, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, to lodge a formal complaint, which Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba told the media about on Aug. 25. Kuleba also said “Ukraine’s heart was torn by the Pope’s words,” calling them “unjust.”

The Pope has been considering a trip to Ukraine, but has made it clear that he will only go if he can also travel to Russia. This is a standard Vatican diplomatic effort to maintain neutrality in such conflicts. The Zelensky government in Kiev has made it clear they are totally opposed to such a Russia trip by the Pope.


Russian-African Network University Established at V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University

Russian-African Network University Established at V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University

Aug. 27, 2022 (EIRNS)–The V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University, which was established on the basis of the Tauride University, set up in Simferopol, Crimea by Vladimir Vernadsky in 1920, will host the Russia-African Network University (RAFU), holding classes from Aug. 29-Sept. 9. Crimean Federal University was one of the initiators in the creation of this network, so they were given the opportunity to coordinate the summer university project with the participation of African students. 

RAFU Summer University is implemented on the platforms of 10 universities located in Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Republic of Crimea, Rostov-on-Don, and Astrakhan. In total, the international educational project will bring together more than a hundred African students.

According to the press service of the university, students of the RAFU Summer University project will be trained in two additional educational programs of medical direction: reproductive medicine and laparoscopic surgery. “The endoscopic surgery program will include training on the equipment of our simulation center. The work on special simulators—endoscopic workstations—fully simulates the course of laparoscopic surgery.” They will also visit leading clinics in Crimea and will have the opportunity to visit Crimea’s sights as part of a cultural leisure program.


Successful Flight of Chinese Sub-orbital Space Rocket

Aug. 28, 2022 (EIRNS)–China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) announced on August 26 that China’s reusable sub-orbital space carrier made its first successful repeated-use experiment flight on Friday.

The suborbital vehicle launched vertically from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Friday, Aug. 26 Beijing time (Aug. 25 Eastern), according to CASC, China’s main space contractor. It landed stably at an airport in Alxa Right Banner in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region after finishing a flight in the sub-orbit as planned, according to the announcement. The short statement provided neither images of the craft nor information such as time, duration or apogee of the launch.

CASC’s statement declared the complete success of the flight test, and represents a leap in the development of China’s space transportation technology from single-use to reusable.

Song Zhongping, a space analyst and TV commentator, told the Global Times that sub-orbital carriers, which are used for sending payloads to about 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, could serve a variety of purposes such as ferrying satellites. The lifting-body and sub-orbital characteristics mean that the carrier has aerodynamic design and can conduct operations in sub-orbit. Such craft have more lifting power, Song explained.

Technologies required for reusable sub-orbital flights are very demanding, as the craft had experienced both the environment in space and that under the Earth’s atmospheric influence, experts said.

The latest successful repeated-use flight means that both materials and engine system of China’s domestic reusable sub-orbital vehicle can be reused, which is a great technical breakthrough and remarks a technical milestone, Song said. In a statement the CASC provided to the Global Times, the CASC said that it was working on a series of reusable space launch and transport systems, which will greatly boost the country’s space shuttle capability, lowering costs and empowering future development in this domain.


A Group of 9/11 Families Tells Biden Afghan Central Bank Funds “are Theirs, Not Ours”

A Group of 9/11 Families Tells Biden Afghan Central Bank Funds “are Theirs, Not Ours”

Aug. 18, 2022 (EIRNS)—In a letter to President Joe Biden dated Aug. 16, 77 members of the 9/11 families called on him to affirm that the $7 billion in Afghan Central Bank funds currently being held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York belong to the Afghan people and should be returned to them. To use those funds to pay off 9/11 family members in court judgments “is legally suspect and morally wrong,” the letter argues, and urges Biden to modify his Feb. 11, 2022, Executive Order and “affirm that the Afghanistan Central Bank funds belong to the Afghan people and the Afghan people alone.”

In previous court cases, some 9/11 families were awarded $3.5 billion from the confiscated funds, while the Biden administration began negotiations with the Taliban to create a mechanism by which to distribute the remaining $3.5 billion to the Afghan people, stipulating that the Taliban could not access it, and offering the spurious argument that the Afghan Central Bank lacked the appropriate regulatory and other means to handle the funds responsibly. Following the recent killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri, the administration halted negotiations on creating this alternative mechanism on the pretext that the Taliban hadn’t broken with Al Qaeda.

The letter from the families notes that earlier legal suits brought by a small group of 9/11 family members, “and the legal claims involved, are complex. But these arguments are founded on a false premise. This money does not belong to the Taliban,” as the lawsuits claimed. “This money comes from Afghanistan’s Central Bank, and as such, it belongs to the Afghan people. Victims of terrorism, including 9/11 victims, are entitled to their day in court. But they are not entitled to money that lawfully belongs to the Afghan people,” the letter charges.

The letter goes on to describe the impoverishment of the Afghan people, with nearly nine million at risk of starvation. While affirming that these funds belong to the Afghan people won’t solve Afghanistan’s problems, and figuring out how to transfer the funds is a formidable task, it underscores, the simple reality is that the money “is theirs, not ours.”


China To Increase Its Humanitarian Assistance, Engagement with Afghanistan

China To Increase Its Humanitarian Assistance, Engagement with Afghanistan

Aug. 18, 2022 (EIRNS)—China’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu, has announced that China intends to step up its engagement with Afghanistan, “as Afghans are good neighbors, brothers and partners.” China he said, “will stand firm on the concept of community with the shared future for mankind,” ToloNEWS reported him saying today. He underscored that he was not speaking about diplomatic recognition, because there are still certain criteria Kabul must meet for that, including becoming “stable, peaceful, pursue a moderate policy and meet expectations.”

However, the ambassador said, China will “substantially enhance bilateral cooperation in all areas” guided by Xi Jinping’s Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative. One priority will be to assist with the grave humanitarian crisis, adding to China’s already substantial contributions of food and other vital necessities. China has provided $8 million in assistance to families affected by the recent earthquake in Afghanistan, in addition to 6,000 tons of rice worth $8 million, with aid provided to 34 provinces.

Ambassador Wang spared no words in addressing the devastation wrought in Afghanistan by 20 years of U.S. occupation and war. “The U.S. pursued its own interests only,” he said. The U.S.’s 20-year occupation “did not help the country realize its social development…war has destroyed its infrastructure, leading to more difficulties in its economic development and people’s livelihoods.” The U.S. military intervention has produced a “deep disaster” for the Afghan people, he added. The U.S.’s irresponsible withdrawal a year ago “has created more problems for Afghanistan,” he elaborated. And, he continued, not only did the U.S. ignore the disaster facing the Afghan people, but it also refused to return the assets belonging to them, which were illegally seized. Those funds should be returned, he said.


China’s Overview of the Program of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

China’s Overview of the Program of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

Aug. 18, 2022 (EIRNS)–The FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) Coordinators’ meeting to follow up on FOCAC program implementation, took place Aug. 18. In anticipation of the meeting, Li Zhigang, Chargé d’ Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, wrote an overview of these programs, which appeared in the Independent Online (IOL) Aug. 17.

One project of especial interest: “The two sides have set up a China-Africa RMB [renminbi] center to explore RMB settlement for China-Africa trade, logistics, and industrial cooperation.”

The nine broad points are presented here in brief:

The medical and health program: China has provided more than 250 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa, covering almost all African countries, and launched joint production of COVID-19 vaccine in Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. China has made constant efforts to pair up Chinese and African hospitals for cooperation, and the African CDC headquarters project (Phase I) is expected to be completed in early 2023. China has also been helping with control of malaria, schistosomiasis and AIDS.

Poverty reduction and agricultural development program: China has provided emergency food aid and other humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa and other regions. China has offered locust control insecticides, irrigation equipment, and technical assistance. The first four “China-Africa joint centers for modern agrotechnology exchange, demonstration and training” have been set up to train professionals in the fields of tropical crops, aquaculture, biomass energy and dry farming.

Trade promotion: From January to June this year, China-Africa trade volume registered U.S. $137.38 billion, up by 16.6% year-on-year, of which China’s exports to and imports from Africa increased by 14.7% and 19.1% respectively. China has opened “green lanes” for faster export of African agricultural products to China. As a result, products such as Rwandan stevia, South African fresh pears and soybeans, and Zimbabwean citrus have gained access to the Chinese market. China has signed agreements with Togo, Eritrea, Djibouti, Guinea, Rwanda, Mozambique, Sudan, Chad and Central Africa, among other LDCs, on expanding the scope of zero-tariff treatment to 98% for products exported to China, covering 350 kinds of African products.

Investment promotion program: From January to June this year, China’s industry-wide direct investment in Africa amounted to U.S. $1.74 billion, growing by 1.5% against all the odds. The turnover of Chinese enterprises’ contracted projects in Africa amounted to U.S. $18.32 billion, an increase of 8.4% year-on-year. The two sides have set up a China-Africa RMB center to explore RMB settlement for China-Africa trade, logistics and industrial cooperation. China has continued to provide aid in the form of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans to help African countries achieve independent and sustainable development.

Digital innovation program: To expand Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, China and Africa have jointly made a success out of the “Quality African Products Online Shopping Festival” to market African products in China. Fifteen China-Africa science and technology cooperation projects have been initiated.

Green development program: China has completed the construction of hydroelectric power stations, photo-voltaic power stations, and water supply projects. China participates in the “Great Green Wall of Africa” initiative, and strengthens cooperation with Africa in desertification control.

Capacity-building program: China provides vocational skills training for local youths where there are Chinese enterprises in Africa, and give the graduates jobs in these enterprises. China helps African students who have completed study courses in China to find jobs in Chinese enterprises in Africa.

People-to-people exchange program: The first Conference on Dialogue Between Chinese and African Civilizations and the 11th Meeting of the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum were successfully held, contributing to the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future.

The African Film Festival project: It has introduced well-made African films and TV shows to the Chinese audience. The “2022 China Culture and Tourism Month” has served as a window for African friends to learn and understand more about China.

The peace and security program: At the second China-Africa Peace and Security Forum, the two sides agreed to maintain strategic communication, strengthen cooperation in equipment and technology, expand maritime exercises and training, and enhance exchanges in professional fields. Chinese peacekeeping troops to Africa have performed to satisfaction, and the 25th batch of Chinese peacekeeping troops sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo was awarded the United Nations “Peace Medal.”

The full text of Li Zhigang’s article is here.


Modi Declares India Will Be a Developed Nation In Next 25 Years

Modi Declares India Will Be a Developed Nation In Next 25 Years

Aug. 15, 2022 (EIRNS)–Speaking on the occasion of India’s 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong push for the development of his nation. “By the 100th year of Independence, we have to work with the vision of accomplishing what our freedom fighters dreamt of,” Modi declared. He called on youth in particular to devote themselves to this goal, saying “We must resolve to work towards a ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India) and remove any vestiges of colonialism from any corner or in our hearts.”

“In the coming years, we have to focus on ‘Panchpran’ (5 pledges). First: to move forward with bigger resolutions and resolve of developed India; second: to erase all traces of servitude; third: be proud of our legacy; fourth: the strength of unity; and fifth: the duties of citizens that also includes the PM and CMs,” Modi noted, referring to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers. “We will work towards the development of the entire humanity. That is the strength of India,” he added.

The Prime Minister also referenced the freedom fighters of India’s past, including Gandhi, Bose, Ambedkar, Savarkar, and others. “When the dreams are big, hard work is important. It needs to be inspired by the pledge and the determination of freedom fighters who dreamt of a free India,” Modi said.


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