Author Archive: mrdsk

Cuba’s media: Revolution, resistance and transition

‘Cuba is a notoriously difficult place to get accreditation – let alone talk to journalists. Most of the media on the island are state run. It has been that way ever since the revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed Batista government with a socialist one that is still in place. Many dismiss the media in Cuba as mere relics of its Cold War past – Soviet-style propaganda machines designed to control the masses. But now there is a diplomatic transition underway – a rapprochement with the US aimed at ending decades of animosity between the two countries. As the relationship with Washington changes, Cuban media outlets like Granma, Huventud Rebelde, Radio Havana – will undoubtedly change too. There has already been some reform – an opening up – of Cuban media: accreditation and access are easier to get, officials are more open to talking, although there are still plenty of red lines journalists there know better than to cross. The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro reports from Havana on the media landscape, the changes taking place and what is all means for journalism in Cuba.’ (Al Jazeera)

2015 Memorial Day: Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?

Bill Quigley writes for CounterPunch:

Memorial Day is, by federal law, a day of prayer for permanent peace.   But is it possible to honestly pray for peace while our country is far and away number one in the world in waging war, military presence, military spending and the sale of weapons around the world?

Permanent War

Since 1980 the US has engaged in aggressive military action in 14 countries in the Islamic world alone, according to research published in the Washington Post: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. In this hemisphere, US military forces invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989), and landed 20,000 military forces in Haiti (1994).

US Global War Machine

The US has 1.3 million people in the military and another million serve in the military reserves. The US has over 700 military bases in 63 countries across the world deploying over 255,000 US military personnel there. The Department of Defense officially manages over 555,000 buildings on 4400 properties inside the US and in over 700 properties across the globe.   The US has over 1500 strategic nuclear warheads, over 13,000 military aircraft, dozens of submarines, many of which carry nuclear weapons, and 88 huge destroyer warships.’

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20% of Africans Live in Post-Conflict Fragile States: Interview with Leonce Ndikumana

‘Leonce Ndikumana, director of the African Policy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute says while poverty, inequality, weak institutions, and low development in general are the outcome of fragility, they also undermine efforts to accelerate economic development in these countries. He also says aid and timing coupled with a national economic development strategy by sector is required for success.’ (The Real News)

Former Reagan Adviser: Fox News Is A “Self-brainwashing” Bubble That Is Destroying The GOP

Duncan Campbell at Ditchley: Talking to GCHQ (interception not required)

Duncan Campbell writes:

A remarkable consequence of the Snowden revelations took place last week (14 May), when a former “C” (Chief of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)) presided as forty-plus participants from around the world sat down in private for three days to talk intensively through changed approaches to intelligence, security and privacy.

I was asked to open the conference discussions, in conjunction with GCHQ’s new Director, Robert Hannigan (pictured below). No-one argued against calls for greater openness. That’s a first; coming 40 years after a time when it was a crime in Britain even to mention the existence of GCHQ, and programmes on the subject were banned.

Perhaps to many participants’ surprise, there was general agreement across broad divides of opinion that Snowden – love him or hate him – had changed the landscape; and that change towards transparency, or at least “translucency” and providing more information about intelligence activities affecting privacy, was both overdue and necessary. An event like this would have been inconceivable without Snowden.

Away from the foetid heat of political posturing and populist headlines, I heard some unexpected and suprising comments from senior intelligence voices, including that “cold winds of transparency” had arrived and were here to stay.’

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#AlbumoftheWeek ~ III by BADBADNOTGOOD (2014)

‘Toronto-based jazz trio BadBadNotGood‘s third album is their first on the Innovative Leisure label and also the first full-length to feature all their own compositions. The Canadians first made waves early in the 2010s while posting videos of them playing jazz covers of hip-hop tracks by the likes of Odd Futureand MF Doom. They maintained this ethos into their first two records, BBNG and BBNG2, by covering the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Kanye West as well as My Bloody Valentine and Feist. III captures the raw energy, togetherness, and musicianship of a live concert, at points drifting off at a tangent and then rejoining to climactic chord structures and beautiful jazz melodies. (Read the full review by James Pearce at All Music)

Who’s Supporting Assad? Interview with Charles Glass

‘Charles Glass discusses his essay “In the Syria We Don’t Know.” He drove through Syria in October 2014 to see how the country’s civil war had impacted daily life. With Bashar al-Assad benefiting from US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State, and large areas of the country under his regime’s control, Glass found people carrying on at a relatively normal pace amid the conflict. But signs of death and personal loss were inescapable, as resentment mounted among citizens who feel they have no choice but to support Assad or be slaughtered at the hands of Sunni radicals.’ (VICE News)

Protests as debate over GM crops and pesticides heats up

Jihadi threat requires move into ‘private space’ of UK Muslims, says police chief

Vikram Dodd reports for The Guardian:

Isis flagIslamist propaganda is so potent it is influencing children as young as five and should be countered with intensified monitoring to detect the earliest signs of anti-western sentiment, Britain’s most senior Muslim police chief has warned.

Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty said children aged five had voiced opposition to marking Christmas, branding it as “haram” – forbidden by Islam. He also warned that there was no end in sight to the parade of British Muslims, some 700 so far, being lured from their bedrooms to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) propaganda.

In an interview with the Guardian, Chishty said there was now a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier. He said this could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer, which could be because the store is sometimes mistakenly perceived to be Jewish-owned.

Chishty said friends and family of youngsters should be intervening much earlier, watching out for subtle, unexplained changes, which could also include sudden negative attitudes towards alcohol, social occasions and western clothing. They should challenge and understand what caused such changes in behaviour, the police commander said, and seek help, if needs be from the police, if they are worried.’

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ISIS and the ‘Costa’ caliphate: what a militant claims the ‘holiday’ state is like

ISIS claims responsibility for Saudi mosque attack

Media Executives Are Salivating Over Big Money Flooding the 2016 Election Cycle

Lee Fang writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Media Executives Are Salivating Over Big Money Flooding the 2016 Election CycleAt least one small slice of the American public looks forward to the non-stop, sleazy political advertisements set to inundate viewers during the 2016 elections: media executives and their investors.

Peter Liguori, the chief executive of Tribune Company, said earlier this month that the next presidential campaign presents “enormous opportunity” for advertising sales. Speaking at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan Chase, Liguori, whose company owns television stations and a number of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, referenced Super PAC spending as a key factor for why he thinks Tribune Co. political advertising revenue will rocket from $115 million in 2012 to about $200 million for the 2016 campaign cycle.

Vince Sadusky, the chief executive of Media General, the parent company of 71 television stations across the country, told investors in February that his company is positioned to benefit from unlimited campaign spending, referencing decisions by the Supreme Court. “We are really looking forward to the 2016 elections with spending on the presidential race alone estimated to surpass $5 billion,” Sadusky said, according to a transcript of his remarks.’

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Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Medium:

A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that the Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

The document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.”’

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ISIS magazine Dabiq attacks ‘conspiracy theories’ causing jihadists to flee

Umberto Bacchi reports for International Business Times:

Dabiq Isis Magazine The Islamic State (Isis) group has released a new issue of its slick propaganda magazine Dabiq, featuring articles justifying the enslavement of Yazidi girls and condemning conspiracy theorists, as well as a report by British hostage John Cantlie.

[…] The publication features an article suggesting that the terror group is losing militants to conspiracy theories.

Titled Conspiracy Theory Shirk (Sin) the piece implies that some fighters have grown delusional because of conjectures saying that IS is a puppet in the hands of western intelligence agencies.

“If the mujahedeen liberated territory occupied by the kuffar [infidels], they would say that the kuffar allowed them to do so because kafir [disbelievers] interests’ necessitated a prolonged war,” the article reads.

“According to these theorists, almost all the events of the world were somehow linked back to the kuffar, their intelligence agencies, research, technology, and co-conspirators! Conspiracy theories have thereby become an excuse to abandon jihad.”‘

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Saudi Arabia “seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council”

Roisin O’Connor reports for The Independent:

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to make a bid to head the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, in a move that has been described as the “final nail in the coffin for the credibility” of the HRC.

Reports of the bid come just days after Saudi Arabia posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners. This year it has already put 85 people to death in what has been branded by Amnesty International a “macabre spike” from the 87 people it killed in total last year.

The country will move to assume lead control over the HRC after 2016 when the presidency is awarded to a new nation.

UN Watch, a non-profit human rights group that monitors the international body, disclosed Saudi Arabia’s intentions in a recent report and urged the United States to fight against it.’

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Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke

Editor’s Note: Matt Taibbi was recently interviewed about the role of the media in the lead up to the Iraq War on Democracy Now!

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone:

Jeb Bush[…] The media quickly piled on. “Jeb Bush’s Iraq Stumble” was the title of the Wall Street Journal’s “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox. “On Iraq Question, Jeb Bush Stumbles and GOP Hopefuls Pounce,” countered the Washington Post.

“Jeb Bush’s Revisionist History of the Iraq War,” wrote New York Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Yeah, Jeb Bush’s argument that the Iraq War was right even in retrospect is insane,” tweeted current New York and erstwhile New Republic writer Jonathan Chait early in the story cycle, when Jeb was still defending the war.

A few writers, like Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune, criticized Jeb for not disavowing the “reckless adventurism” of the Bush II era that led to the war in the first place. In other words, Chapman blasted Jeb for being wrong then and now.

But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.

We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.’

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Indicted: Grand Jury Brings Charges Against Baltimore Police Officers Tied to Freddie Gray Death

‘A grand jury has indicted six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, clearing the path for a criminal trial in the Maryland courts. Freddie Gray died on April 19 from his injuries suffered in police custody. The indictments came nearly three weeks after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby first announced her decision to bring criminal charges against the officers. While some of the charges have been amended, the most serious ones — second-degree murder against Officer Caesar Goodson and involuntary manslaughter against four of the officers — remained intact. We speak to longtime Baltimore civil rights attorney A. Dwight Pettit.’ (Democracy Now!)

Matt Taibbi on Baltimore, Freddie Gray and How Legal System Covers Up Police Violence

‘New cellphone video sheds light on Freddie Gray’s fatal journey in a Baltimore police van. The footage obtained by The Baltimore Sun shows Gray lying motionless as several police officers shackle his ankles and load him into the vehicle. It appears to contradict earlier police claims that Gray was “irate” and “combative.” One of the officers, Lt. Brian Rice, reportedly threatened to use his Taser on the eyewitness who was filming. We are joined by Matt Taibbi, whose latest article for Rolling Stone is “Why Baltimore Blew Up.” He writes, “Instead of using the incident to talk about a campaign of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of illegal searches and arrests across decades of discriminatory policing policies, the debate revolved around whether or not the teenagers who set fire to two West Baltimore CVS stores after Gray’s death were “thugs,” or merely wrongheaded criminals.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Jade Helm 15 Is Not a Federal Takeover: It’s Domestic Military Expansion

Candice Bernd writes for Truthout:

8 December, 2007: U.S. Army paratroopers prepare to board a C-130 Hercules during Operation Toy Drop, Ft. Bragg, N.C. (Photo: The U.S Army)[…] The mainstream media and much of the independent media have been right to publicly call out (and poke fun at) Gov. Abbott and some Republican presidential candidates for giving Texas’ conspiracy culture far too much credence. However, the exclusive emphasis on some of the more bizarre theories emerging out of rural Texas counties has overshadowed valid concerns from activists about a much larger ongoing domestic military expansion, of which Jade Helm 15 plays a significant part.

Truthout’s Dahr Jamail has reported extensively on the Navy’s ongoing use of nearly every US coastal state’s land and air for its realistic training exercises and war games. In recent years, these exercises have included electromagnetic warfare training and the testing of sonar devices, despite evidence of the exercises’ harmful effects on marine animals and pushback from concerned environmentalists.

“According to the Pentagon, between 1985 and 2012, the US military had completed at least 92 joint land use studies in preparation for expanding its domestic training, which proposed expansions in all but 16 US states,” Jamail writes.

Several branches of the US military, including the Air Force, Army and most prominently, the Navy, are encroaching on public and private lands to expand “realistic” warfare-training exercises domestically. Despite some of the more cockeyed theories to emerge about Jade Helm 15 recently, the realistic training exercise fits into this quiet military expansion in an unprecedented way.’

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Palestinian Israel FIFA Vote: Sepp Blatter fears suspension vote could set precedent

New flag proposed to represent planet Earth on its journey into space

Jon Stone reports for The Independent:

Oskar PernefeldtA new flag has been proposed to represent planet Earth’s astronauts and spaceships on their journey into the cosmos.

The flag, which has yet to be officially adopted, was drawn up by a designer with contributions from NASA and other organisations.

The design consists of seven inter-linked white rings on a blue background.

The linked rings would represent the interdependence of life on earth, while the blue would allude to the planet’s vast oceans.

The design was conceived by Oskar Pernefeldt, a Swedish design researcher.’

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The Hypocrisy World Cup

Campaigners target Qatar World Cup: Interview with Andrew Jennings

Andrew Jennings a British investigative journalist who has been covering corruption involving FIFA and the IOC for many years. He is the author of a number of books including The Great Olympic Swindle, FOUL! and Omerta. All of which are available via his website, Transparency In Sport.

As two rivals fall by the wayside, Sepp Blatter remains on course to retain FIFA presidency

World Soccer reports:

Sepp Blatter FIFA PresidentPrince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan will stand alone against Sepp Blatter at FIFA Congress next Thursday after Michael Van Praag and Luis Figo withdrew their candidacies for the presidency of the world football federation.

The two men announced their FIFA candidacies only three days before the nominations deadline in January. They were surrogates for UEFA president Michel Platini who had declined to translate his own criticism of Blatter into candidacy deeds.

Blatter, a popular president of the world football federation largely everywhere but in Europe, remains runway favourite to secure a fifth term in office.

He has overseen a remarkable economic transformation over the past decade and many federations around the world have appreciated his development support strategy. They have remained far more relaxed about the ISL and World Cup bid scandals than critics within the European FAs and the western media.’

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Matt Taibbi: World’s Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)

‘Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the $5 trillion FX spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. No individual bank employees were hit with criminal charges as part of the settlements. We are joined by Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine.’ (Democracy Now!)

Five Big Banks Plead Guilty to Rigging Currency Markets and No One Goes to Jail: Interview with James S. Henry

Oldest Stone Tools Yet Discovered Unearthed in Kenya

Helen Thompson reports for Smithsonian.com:

Approximately 3.3 million years ago someone began chipping away at a rock by the side of a river. Eventually, this chipping formed the rock into a tool used, perhaps, to prepare meat or crack nuts. And this technological feat occurred before humans even showed up on the evolutionary scene.

That’s the conclusion of an analysis published today in Nature of the oldest stone tools yet discovered. Unearthed in a dried-up riverbed in Kenya, the shards of scarred rock, including what appear to be early hammers and cutting instruments, predate the previous record holder by around 700,000 years. Though it’s unclear who made the tools, the find is the latest and most convincing in a string of evidence that toolmaking began before any members of the Homo genus walked the Earth.

“’This discovery challenges the idea that the main characters that make us human—making stone tools, eating more meat, maybe using language—all evolved at once in a punctuated way, near the origins of the genus Homo,’ says Jason Lewis, a paleoanthropologist at Rutgers University and co-author of the study.

Up until now, the earliest clear evidence of stone tools came from a 2.6-million-year-old site in Ethiopia. An early human ancestor called Homo habilis likely made them. Similar ‘Oldowan style‘ tools, known for choppers with one refined edge, have been discovered at several other sites in East and Southern Africa.’

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The US government told me Bin Laden read my book. But what is it not telling us?

Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, writes for The Guardian:

Osama bin Laden‘[…] I do hope Osama made it to page 229. I talk about a guy who worked at my office, Clinton Davis. Before I left to write for the Guardian and Observer, my office was in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. Davis, a cop, was safe at ground level, but he ran upstairs to save others – and disappeared, forever. Did Bin Laden get a little laugh out of that one? At least he got to know his victim’s name.

And what did Bin Laden think of my investigation of the 9/11 attack? While working at Newsnight, a few weeks after the towers fell, a little birdie dropped off a 30-page memo marked “SECRET,” “eyes only” and “1-99I WF”, which is code for “national security document”. The document suggested that FBI agents were blocked from investigating the Bin Laden family well before 11 September 2001. Calls to the Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA and FBI insiders authenticated this bombshell of a devastating intelligence failure.

No, the evidence did not show that President Bush knew about the 9/11 attack in advance. But here was something still quite damning: we learned that the Bush family connection to the Bin Laden family business might have been a shield against government probes. Did Bin Laden, reading that, make a note to himself to thank the Bushes for their unintended protection? I assumed the FBI would deny the authenticity of the document. Instead of denying that the Bin Laden investigation had been spiked, the FBI spokesman told Newsnight these chilling words: “There are a lot of things the intelligence community knows and other people ought not to know.”’

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Bin Laden’s Bookshelf

A list of books Osama bin Laden reportedly had on his digitised shelf in Abbotaland: 

  • The 2030 Spike by Colin Mason
  • A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by I. A. Ibrahim
  • America’s Strategic Blunders by Willard Matthias
  • America’s “War on Terrorism” by Michel Chossudovsky
  • Al-Qaeda’s Online Media Strategies: From Abu Reuter to Irhabi 007 by Hanna Rogan
  • The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast
  • The Best Enemy Money Can Buy by Anthony Sutton
  • Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris
  • Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier
  • Bounding the Global War on Terror by Jeffrey Record
  • Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions by Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson
  • Christianity and Islam in Spain 756-1031 A.D. by C. R. Haines
  • Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies by Cheryl Benard
  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
  • Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 by John Coleman
  • Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert
  • Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance (only the book’s introduction) by C. Christine Fair and
  • Peter Chalk
  • Guerilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons and Techniques for Guerilla Forces by James Crabtree
  • Handbook of International Law by Anthony Aust
  • Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
  • Imperial Hubris by Michael Scheuer
  • In Pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure by Asim Abdul Maajid, Esaam-ud-Deen and Dr. Naahah Ibrahim
  • International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific by John Ikenberry and Michael Mastandano
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II by William Blum
  • Military Intelligence Blunders by John Hughes-Wilson
  • Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s program of research in behavioral modification. Joint hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, August 3, 1977.
  • Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky
  • New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin
  • New Political Religions, or Analysis of Modern Terrorism by Barry Cooper
  • Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward
  • Oxford History of Modern War by Charles Townsend
  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum
  • The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall (1928)
  • Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins
  • The Taking of America 1-2-3 by Richard Sprague
  • Unfinished Business, U.S. Overseas Military Presence in the 21st Century by Michael O’Hanlon
  • The U.S. and Vietnam 1787-1941 by Robert Hopkins Miller
  • “Website Claims Steve Jackson Games Foretold 9/11,” article posted on ICV2.com (this file contained only a single saved web page)

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Macedonia, the New US-Russia Battlefield

Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg:

Macedonia is a poor, landlocked Balkan country of about 2 million. To the Kremlin, it’s also the newest front in an ideological battle, with the U.S. fomenting regime change to counter Russia’s influence. As is often the case, that view is correct to the extent that Russian interests are aligned with those of a corrupt authoritarian ruler.

Here’s what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had to say last week:

I cannot judge for sure, but it so happens objectively that these events in Macedonia are unfolding against the background of the Macedonian government’s refusal to join sanctions against Russia and an active support from Skopje for the plans to build the Turkish Stream pipeline, to which many in Brussels and across the Atlantic are opposed. We cannot get rid of this feeling that there’s some sort of a connection.

The origins of this conjecture, and Lavrov’s sarcasm, are clear. The Kremlin couldn’t help being suspicious about the timing of Macedonia’s political crisis.’

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