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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.


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.”


Helga Zepp-LaRouche on CGTN’s “World Today” Show; Denounces Decoupling of Germany and Europe From China

Aug. 9, 2022 (EIRNS)—The following interview with Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche was included in CGTN’s “World Today” podcast.

The World Today host began a segment: “Decoupling of the EU and Germany from China could cost Germany almost six times as much as Brexit. This is the finding of a scenario analysis conducted by the Info Institute on behalf of the Bavarian Industry Association. The report shows that automotive industry companies producing transportation equipment and manufacturers of machinery and equipment would be hurt the most if the decoupling happens.

So, for this and more on EU-China and Germany-China relations, let’s have Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder of the Schiller Institute, a Germany-based political and economic think tank. Thanks for joining us, Ms. Zepp-LaRouche.

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Good day.

CGTN: Germany would face costs almost six times as high as Brexit if Germany and the European Union were to shut China out of their economies. What do you make of the projections?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think it’s much worse, because as you have mentioned already, there is right now an effort to push Germany and all of Europe into a decoupling from Russia and China. This, in my view, would mean economic suicide. You already have an almost total decoupling from Russia that has led to an explosion of energy prices. You have hyperinflation going on, which is not due to anything having to do with Ukraine or Russia’s war with Ukraine. It has to do with the quantitative easing and pumping of money for many years. So, you have hyperinflation; you have an energy crisis. And now on top of that, if you also would decouple from China, the most important trading partner for Germany, this would mean economic suicide. I think this is something people should review and really step back away from, because it would lead to complete social chaos in Germany and Europe, with unpredictable consequences.

CGTN: The report said the biggest loser of a trade war with China would be the automotive industry, manufacturers of transport equipment and mechanical engineering which have had strong ties with China over the years. With the domestic argument for decoupling getting louder in Germany and the European Union, do we hear any voices from those industries?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, my personal experience in talking to many of those, is that the individual firms really want to stay in China, but they are being pressured by the banks with their credit policies, the financial sector, and that is all hanging together with Wall Street and the City of London. They have geopolitical motives to push this decoupling. I think if German industry wants to survive, and I really mean survive, because it’s an existential situation which most of them are in, they have to stand up and defend their own interests. They have to fight for the jobs of the people; they have to stand up for German interests and the common good of the people.

I think we are heading into an incredible social crisis in the coming weeks and months. The question is, will Germany economically survive this assault? It’s time for Germany to define its own interests and not be the instrument of NATO.

CGTN: Speaking of that, we heard from Volkswagen’s CEO, who defended [inaud] in China in Xinjiang. What do you make of this, because there are two different opinions nowadays? On the one hand, people say their insistence is only about profit and making money. On the other hand, people believe they see a different Xinjiang in China from the ones mirrored in the Western media. What’s your take?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, we had two members of the Schiller Institute traveling to Xinjiang and visiting many locations. And many diplomats from many countries also have traveled there to investigate the situation. What all of these people report is that China has brought development into one of the previously poorest areas, and given people jobs, bringing prosperity, infrastructure. So, a lot of people who turned from the Uighurs to terrorism before now have a perspective and a future, and have stopped being terrorists. I think to overcome terrorism through development is a much better method than throwing bombs and drones and having civilian casualties you don’t care about, like it happened so many times in Afghanistan or Iraq, where the United States conducted these things. I think people should not listen to this guy Adrian Zenz, who recently came out with a study. He’s a right-wing Christian fundamentalist who has very dubious beliefs, because he thinks that God gave him a mission to destroy China. All of this anti-Xinjiang propaganda is mainly based on this extremely dubious source. People should not fall for it.

CGTN: Given what we have been talking about, if you also ask a lot of experts in Germany, they suggest that companies should find more countries to reduce dependency on China. How do you look at this suggestion? Can China, as the top trading partner of Germany, be replaced at least in the short term?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: In the short term, for sure not, because the idea to diversify and have partnerships with so-called “like-minded democracies,” if you really look at it, it’s only the U.S., the British, the countries of the Five Eyes, Japan, New Zealand. But the overwhelming majority is going with China’s BRI. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS, most countries of the Global South want to have development. There is a revival of the spirit of Bandung, which is the Non-Aligned Movement. I think it would be complete suicide for countries like Germany that are very export-dependent to cut off these markets which are the future. The only growth which occurred in the recent period was in Asia, and not in the Atlantic sector. So, Germany should really redefine its own interest.

CGTN: Thank you very much. That’s Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder of the Schiller Institute, a Germany-based political and economic think tank.

Here is the link to the interview; this segment is with Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche: ④ Decoupling with China could cost Germany six times as much as Brexit, a study shows at 33:55 min.


“Government Endangers Germany As a Business Location!”

“Government Endangers Germany As a Business Location!”

Aug. 15, 2022 (EIRNS)–Germany’s MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk) TV/Radio station reports that an “incendiary letter to Chancellor Scholz” has been issued in which predominantly eastern German medium-sized companies call for a rethink on the Russia sanctions. They see the economy is at great risk.

“Mr. Scholz, stop and make a policy that we can live with and not sink.” With this urgent appeal, medium-sized companies belonging to the Zentralkonsum eG association call on the German government to “readjust the embargo policy against Russia.” The association is the umbrella organization of the East German consumer cooperatives, whose member companies employ nearly 6,300 people, according to their own figures.

In an interview with MDR, Martin Bergner, spokesman for the association’s board stated: “Stopping all gas deliveries and putting the German economy in front of price increases at which no one can produce at a profit anymore, that won’t work.”  Sufficient gas must be imported to keep the economy running, he said. He added, existing nuclear and coal-fired power plants must also guarantee security of supply.

A bakery chain, Landbäckerei Stendal, reports that they have already been told that they would have to pay four times as much for electricity and six times as much for gas. Added to this would be the increase in the minimum wage from October, and the gas levy, i.e. the additional costs that every consumer would have to pay if, instead of cheap Russian gas, a more expensive one had to be purchased, for example from the U.S.A.

The increased costs have to be added to the products, which in turn fuels inflation, whether in retail, hotels, restaurants, or industry. This is by no means about diminished profits, he says: “We are really in the red,” says Andreas Bosse, the managing director of Landbäckerei Stendal, and expects his family business to lose as much as 300,000 euros already this year.

“It undermines the existence of the companies with damage that cannot be made good,” write the authors of the appeal to Scholz: “The government wants to promote regional products and organic products. But exactly these products are the first thing buyers do without in order to save money,” adds Martin Bergner. He adds that the Chancellor himself once was active at the Central Association of German Consumer Cooperatives. He should therefore know exactly what the situation is like for cooperatively organized businesses. The signatories of the open letter, which charge the government with “being ideologically stuck,” also include prominent restaurants like Berghotel Oberhof and Dorotheenhof Weimar.


South African Foreign Minister Tells Blinken: We’re Sovereign, and We’ll Do Things Our Way

Aug. 9, 2022 (EIRNS)–Americans, and others in the West, could take a lesson from African leaders, who are not taking orders from arrogant elites demanding capitulation. South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told reporters on Monday, with Secretary of State Tony Blinken sitting next to her, that she objected to “patronizing bullying” coming from the West: “Because when we believe in freedom – as I’m saying, it’s freedom for everybody – you can’t say because Africa is doing this, you will then be punished by the United States…. One thing I definitely dislike is being told `either you choose this or else.’ When a minister speaks to me like that … I definitely will not be bullied in that way, nor would I expect any other African country worth its salt to agree to be [so] treated.”

Blinken is on a three-nation trip to Africa, a trip widely billed as aimed at countering Russian and Chinese influence in the area. Playing “Mr. Nice Guy” did not score Blinken points in South Africa. In the joint press conference given by Blinken and Pandor after holding the first U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue in nearly eight years, Pandor made three key points, in addition to her refusal to join geopolitical blocs:

On China and Africa: “Countries are free to establish relationships with different countries. African countries that wish to relate to China, let them do so, whatever the particular form of relationships would be. We can’t be made party to conflict between China and the United States of America, and I may say, it does cause instability for all of us, because it affects the global economic system. We really hope that the United States and China will arrive at a point of rapprochement, where all of us can look to economic development and growth for all our countries, because that’s extremely important for all of us. These are two great powers, the two biggest economies in the world. They’ve got to find a way of working together to allow us to grow.”

On Blinken’s push for “democracy,” one of the four U.S. priorities in the administration’s “Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy,” Pandor recommended:

“If your tactic is to approach African countries and say that, `listen, you must be democratic either and use our model, it works,’ I think it’s bound to lead to some failure.” All countries and peoples deserve the right to exercise their civil and political rights, but how that should be approached is the issue,” she said. She noted that “there has been a lot of external interference in Africa [which] has fueled conflict in many African countries, has fueled instability and supported opposition groups against liberation fighters and so on,” much of that stemming from foreign interest in “Africa’s rich mineral wealth.”

And, Pandor spoke eloquently against the war and “apartheid” in which Palestinians are forced to live, as an example of the double-standard often played by those who say they are defending the principles of the UN charter: “Just as much as the people of Ukraine deserve their territory and freedom, the people of Palestine deserve their territory and freedom. And we should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine.”


Sanctions Crippling the Syria that Was Once Proudly and Steadily Growing

Aug. 9, 2022 (EIRNS)—The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released a study, “Syrian Arab Republic: Access to Electricity and Humanitarian Needs,” in March 2022, documenting meticulously, respecting Syria, what Helga Zepp-LaRouche contends in her July 12, 2022 statement, “Lift Sanctions Against Russia Immediately!”: that sanctions are a “brutal form of warfare” that kill, and must be lifted everywhere they are currently enforced.

In 2011, the European Union enforced sanctions against Syria with the intent to overthrow the country’s President, Bashar al-Assad, following the Bernard Lewis Plan overthrow and eventual killing of the leaders of Iraq and Libya. Britain, the U.S., and other nations joined the sanctions regime, and the range of sectors of the Syrian economy against which they were applied was expanded. The U.S. and other nations carried out military intervention in Syria in 2011, first using proxy terrorist groups, then directly.

Syria’s electricity sector was brutally targeted. The OCHA study reports, “Two of the country’s 13 major power plants were fully destroyed: the Zeyzoun Power Plant in Idlib governate (487 MW installed capacity) and the Aleppo Thermal Power Station (1,065 MW installed capacity).” The World Bank reported that six other power plants were partially destroyed.

“As a result of this damage, the country’s electricity generation capacity fell from 5,800 MW in 2010… to 4,000 MW in 2018.”  The further tightening of sanctions caused Syria’s installed electricity generation capacity to fall to 2,000 MW in 2021, a collapse of 63%! Obtaining replacement parts and maintaining the surviving plants, due to sanctions, has become even more acute. Whereas, in 2010, “93% of the country had access to electricity,” that is sharply down today. Compared to 2010 standards, today’s Syrian population consumes 85% less electricity per capita, twelve years later. Thirty percent of Syria’s population has access to electricity for only 2 hours per day. That slashes electricity to industry, and households, and all the equipment that goes with that.

But electricity is the source for powering all other features of society. Around 2010, “access to safe drinking water in Syria was estimated at 92% in rural communities and 98% in urban centers. Seven major water systems serve the country’s eight largest cities…. However,” the study emphasizes, “by 2019 annual public water production in Syria had fallen by 40% relative to pre-crisis levels (from 1,700 Mn cubic meters in 2010 to 1,020 Mn cubic meters in 2019.” But to use water from groundwater and springs, or most rivers, requires continuous electricity to pump water and distribute it, a commodity Syria now lacks as the study highlights.

The lack of electricity (and water) also means there is sometimes insufficient power to run medical facilities and health clinics. Because of damage to infrastructure, Syria runs its schools on two shifts. In the second shift, in particular, often there is no clean water in the bathrooms, and not enough electricity to heat the schools. Some students study at home by candlelight.

The OCHA’s ReliefWeb website reported March 12, 2022, “this year, 90 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line, and more than 80 percent are food insecure. Families say they are eating less, cutting meals, and going into debt to meet their basic needs.” {Emphasis added.}

As Zepp-LaRouche says in her July 12 statement, sanctions “are a brutal form of warfare against the respective populations of the sanctioned states with the aim of making their living conditions so intolerable that they rise up against their respective leaderships, and overthrow them. But the victims are always the people.” It is past time to lift them in Russia, Syria, and everywhere.


Greek Amb. Chrysanthopoulos Scored the Ukraine Blacklisting of Schiller Institute on RT TV

Aug. 8, 2022 (EIRNS)–Greek Ambassador Ad Hon., and member of the Schiller Institute, Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos presented the blacklisting of the Schiller Institute by the Center for Combating Disinformation (CCD) of Ukraine, in an interview this week on RT television. While being interviewed on the recent Amnesty International Report denouncing the Ukrainian military’s use of human shields, the Ambassador went into a full briefing on the blacklisting, referring directly to the Schiller Institute. He declared that conducting this blacklist operation exposes the fascist nature of the Ukrainian regime. The Ambassador is also a signatory to the Schiller Institute petition denouncing the blacklisting. The entire interview can be seen here.


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