Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poland Violated Rights in CIA Rendition Case, Court Says

(Bloomberg) Poland cooperated with the Central Intelligence Agency in its “rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations” of two terrorism suspects, the European Court of Human Rights ruled today.

The panel of judges in Strasbourg, France, ordered Poland to pay 230,000 euros ($310,000) in damages to the two men, who had lodged complaints against the country and argued that it violated prohibitions on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and undermined their right to a fair trial.

The decision risks tarnishing the reputation of Poland, which has championed human rights since the collapse of the Communist regime in 1989. It may also strain the country’s relations with the U.S. as Poland clamors for NATO to reinforce its commitment to regional security by deploying more troops to counter Russia amid the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk Resigns as Ukraine’s Premier After Coalition Dissolves

(Bloomberg) Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned after two parties quit the ruling coalition and President Petro Poroshenko signaled his support for early elections.

Yatsenyuk told the parliament in Kiev today that he’s stepping down after losing the support of his allies and failing to pass legislation. Former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR and Svoboda, a nationalist group, said they’d leave the government and seek a snap parliamentary ballot, according to statements today on their websites.

“The fact is that the coalition has fallen apart, that laws haven’t been voted on, that soldiers can’t be paid, that there is no money to buy rifles, that there is no possibility to fill gas storages,” Yatsenyuk told lawmakers. “What options do we have now?”
Western powers largely alone in condemnation of Russia

(Globe and Mail)  In Kiev, Brussels, Washington and Ottawa, the response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was angry and almost unanimous: The evidence was seen as clearly pointing at Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, which means Moscow itself was at least partly to blame.

But while Western powers like to refer to the “international community” when mustering a case they believe in, such solidarity doesn’t really exist. Among Russia’s allies – most crucially, its fellow members of the BRICS club of emerging powers (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) – the initial response to the tragedy was silence, followed by increasing skepticism of the evidence presented by the U.S. and Ukrainian governments.

That means Russia – even as Western governments move to punish the Kremlin for its continued support of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic by escalating economic sanctions – will still have an escape valve for its economy. As markets in the West close, Moscow can turn east and south, a process under way since March, when the first Western sanctions were implemented in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
Even the European Union – where most of the 298 dead on board Flight 17 were from – seems reticent to go as far as the United States and Canada in new sanctions against Russia. The 28-nation bloc said Tuesday it would impose an arms embargo on Russia and financial restrictions on Russian firms, but the details of those proposals were still to be worked out amid squabbling over who should bear the brunt of the pain while confronting the Kremlin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ukraine gets $200 million a year for allowing overflights

(Washington Post)  Economically beleaguered Ukraine earns an estimated $200 million a year simply by allowing foreign aircraft to cross its airspace enroute to other destinations.

The Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944 allows nation​s to set "reasonable" charges for planes that transit their airspace at altitude. Some nations are public about their charges. For example, rates to fly over the United States will increase on Oct. 1 to $56.86 per 100 nautical miles, up $6.91 over current rates. Air carriers will be charged less -- $21.63 -- to fly over a vast expanse of ocean controlled by the United States.

Other nations are less public about their overflight rates, and, in some cases, they are negotiated with individual carriers. The estimate that Ukraine earns $200 million came from an international aviation organization that keeps track of overflight charges.

After Malaysia Air Flight 17 apparently was shot down over Ukraine, some critics questioned whether the Kiev government allowed dangerous airspace to remain open so that it could continue to collect overflight fees. Ukraine had declared its airspace below 32,000 feet off limits to commercial flights. MH17 was reported at 33,000 feet when the incident occurred.

Russian info about Ukrainian antiaircraft weapons in the area.

Dubbed in English

Airplanes are flying around Ukraine

Click here for a picture

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ukraine will need billions of dollars in new aid this year, economists say

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has pushed the country deeper into an economic tailspin, and the strife-torn nation will need billions of dollars of new assistance this year, economists say.

Less than three months after approving a $17 billion loan package for Ukraine, the International Monetary Fund has revised its forecasts, predicting a sharper economic downturn, lower tax revenues, a spike in military expenditures and new costs to repair bridges and other infrastructure damaged by fighting.

“Ukraine will now need more financing,” said Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics and a former adviser to Russia and Poland. He said the country would need at least an additional $3 billion; other experts said it could require as much as $5 billion more in aid.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dutch expert says Ukraine body recovery team 'did a hell of a job'

(Reuters) - The Dutch head of a team sent to identify the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 praised the Ukrainian recovery workers who collected hundreds of bodies from a giant swathe of land in a war zone for doing a "hell of a job".

Peter van Vliet, leader of a 3-man team of Dutch body identification experts, the first international investigators to visit the crash area, said his priority would be getting hundreds of bodies now stored in refrigerated rail cars to a location where they can be identified and sent home.

Despite reports that some of the bodies may have been looted and were never properly secured during days lying out in summer sun, van Vliet expressed admiration for the recovery crews that gathered them.

"I'm very impressed about the work that was done over here," he said after inspecting the main crash site, where bodies were still being found a day earlier pinned under chunks of aircraft wreckage.
Malaysia Airlines picks Syria route now

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines re-routed a Kuala Lumpur-to-London flight over Syrian airspace on Sunday after its usual route over Ukraine was closed, flight tracking data showed on Monday. Flightradar24 posted a flight map on its Twitter account on Monday showing the change in the route. Flight tracking data showed this flight had previously crossed over eastern Ukraine.
Russian billionaires who have lost $14.5-billion this year live in ‘horror’ as Putin risks isolation

(Financial Post) Russia’s richest businessmen are increasingly frantic that President Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine will lead to crippling sanctions and are too scared of reprisal to say so publicly, billionaires and analysts said.
“The economic and business elite is just in horror,” said Igor Bunin, who heads the Center for Political Technology in Moscow. Nobody will speak out because of the implicit threat of retribution, Bunin said by phone Sunday. “Any sign of rebellion and they’ll be brought to their knees.”
Amid market turmoil provoked by the Ukraine conflict, the 19 richest Russians lost US$14.5 billion since the start of the year, compared to an increase in wealth of US$56.5 billion for the richest 64 Americans, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Andrey Kostin, head of state-run lender VTB Group, signaled last week that the sanctions already in place may harm Russia’s US$2 trillion economy and may cut Russia off from globalization. Putin, who has repeatedly denied arming the separatists in Ukraine, won’t back down because he is determined to resist U.S. and European encroachment, according to Eurasia Group.

“He will still view Russian influence over east Ukraine and a Russian veto over Ukrainian NATO membership as vital Russian national interests,” Eurasia Group said. “Military aid to the rebels will continue.”

Putin, a 61-year-old former KGB colonel, is bolstered by a surge in his popularity since he annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in March to a near record of 86%, according to Moscow’s independent Levada Center.
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