Ukrainian Svoboda fascists and the European Union


This video is called Surviving the Holocaust in the Ukraine (Full Documentary).

By Alex Lantier:

What the European Union said in 2012 about its current fascist allies in Ukraine

12 March 2014

Since last month’s putsch in Kiev, the US and European media have denounced reports from Russia and internationally of fascist involvement in the new, Western-backed Ukrainian regime.

The media has attacked such reports as “empty” (New York Times), “a fancy” (Guardian), “Putin plays the Nazi card” (Fox News), and “the supreme lie” (Le Monde). One source that inspires total confidence, Russian oligarch and convicted felon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, speaking on Monday to a right-wing crowd in Kiev, summed up the line of the corporate media. He called reports of fascist influence over the new regime “lying Russian propaganda.”

To evaluate this torrent of pro-fascist apologetics, it is worth recalling what the European Union itself said only two years ago about its current partners in Kiev. Today, the far-right Svoboda party holds top ministerial positions (deputy prime minister, education, ecology, and agriculture) and advisory posts in a regime that enjoys the economic and military backing of the EU and Washington.

Svoboda was condemned in an official resolution voted and adopted by the European Parliament. The document, titled “European Parliament of 13 December, 2012 on the Situation in Ukraine,” is available online.

In section 8 of the resolution, the EU’s legislative body declares itself “concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada,” the Ukrainian parliament.

Stating that “racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values,” the European Parliament “therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse, or form coalitions with this party.”

When the imperialist powers embarked on a critical foreign policy operation, however—the installation of a pro-Western regime in Kiev—they easily overcame whatever scruples EU legislators may have had about Svoboda’s racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. It fell to a corrupt media, academic and cultural elite to package the resulting collaboration with fascists as a struggle for democracy, misleading the public through a combination of complicit silence and active falsification.

The author also recommends:

The fascist danger in Ukraine
[6 March 2014]

Ukraine and the pro-imperialist intellectuals
[5 February 2014]

In addition to fascistic elements from the Svoboda Party controlling six key government ministries, the new administration has appointed prominent oligarchs to head regional administrations in Ukraine’s most important industrial eastern regions: here.

With Ukraine facing the likely secession of Crimea, the far-right regime in Kiev is moving to slash social spending and build a new army: here.

War propaganda in the German media: here. And here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Greek Golden Dawn nazi doctor convicted


This video is called Dr. Josef Mengele, the angel of death 1/6.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

Greek court convicts doctor who posted ‘Jews not Welcome’ sign

Costas Kastaniotis, a neurologist from Thessaloniki, received a 16-month suspended jail sentence for inciting racial hatred.

By JTA

Mar. 9, 2014 | 7:08 PM

A Greek doctor who posted a “Jews Not Welcome” sign outside his office was convicted and given a 16-month suspended jail sentence for inciting racial hatred.

Costas Kastaniotis, 57, a neurologist from Thessaloniki, also was convicted of illegally possessing weapons on Friday in a court in the northern Greece city. He was fined $3,500.

Kastaniotis has appealed the sentence.

The doctor has denied posting the sign, which was written in German. However, police discovered pamphlets in his office linking him to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which is known for its Nazi swastika-like flag and Holocaust-denying leadership.

Police also found three daggers and 12 knives at his home, as well as pills without prescriptions. Two of the daggers were engraved with Nazi symbols.

The Jewish community of Thessaloniki was an important center of Sephardic Jewry for 450 years following the expulsion from Spain. It had a pre-World War II Jewish population of 55,000; now about 1,000 Jews live there.

Enhanced by Zemanta

French National Front politician advocates concentration camps for Roma


This video from Romania says about itself:

The exile from Bassarabia, a documentary about [Hitler's] Roma holocaust

28 Jan 2013

A documentary made by the National Roma Center in cooperation with E-Romani Glinda from Sweden.

From The Local in France:

‘Concentrate’ Roma in ‘camps‘: far-right runner

Published: 04 Mar 2014 13:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Mar 2014 13:26 GMT+01:00

A National Front party candidate running in Paris’s municipal elections has caused outrage by suggesting the best way to deal with the country’s Roma population was to “concentrate” them in “camps”. It is just the latest outrageous gaffe made by National Front affiliates.

In a blog posting, the top candidate on the National Front’s electoral list in Paris’s posh 6th arrondissement lashed out at the presence of Roma people in his district and offered up a solution that has caused outrage among anti-racism campaigners.

Paul-Marie Coûteaux, a candidate for Marine Le Pen’s “FN-Rassemblement Blue Marine” party, wrote in his February 19th post: “But what can the Minister of the Interior do–apart from concentrating these foreign people in camps–where life would undoubtedly be so below what they counted on that they would prefer to flee such inhospitable territory?”

The comments were naturally seized upon by anti-racism campaigners in a country which has often been criticized for its policy of mass deportations of Roma, which reached record levels last year.

In a statement SOS Racism denounced “Coûteaux’s “vile words” and announced it would press charges of racism in the coming days “in light of the severity and wretchedness of this anti-republican text.”

His words also provoked outrage among Twitter users. “Apart from this the National Front are not racist hey? Paul-Marie Coûteaux wants to replay the night of the long knives,” wrote one of the many tweeters who compared his words to Hitler’s policies.

“Couteaux” means “knives” in French.

National Front election threat

The ensuing anger his comments drew online and in the French press came just weeks before municipal elections are to be held across the country.

There are concerns the National Front, with its anti-immigrant and anti-Europe stance, could put up a strong showing as it attempts to continue its recent march towards mainstream power. …

‘I’d prefer to see her hanging from a tree’

In October Anne-Sophie Leclere, who was due to run on the party’s ticket in the northern French region of Ardennes in March, was suspended by the party after comparing Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black, to a monkey in a Facebook post.

The post included a photo montage of a baby monkey, with the caption “18 months”, next to an image of Taubira with “now” written below it. Leclere attempted to explain the post to a TV news reporter.

National Front compares Black minister to ape

“Honestly, she’s a wild animal, coming on TV with that devil’s smile,” Leclere told France TV.

“I’d prefer to see her swinging from a tree than in government,” she added, denying that she or the photo were racist, claiming, “I have friends who are black.”

Only last month another National Front candidate was barred from running for election after it was discovered he had a tatoo honouring a unit of Hitler’s SS division that operated in France.

Critics say this type of incident and the words of candidates such as Coûteaux reveal the true colours of the National Front’s members.

“Concentrating Roma in camps,… yes the National Front has changed… or not! It’s the same old shop, again and again,” Tweeted Damien Toumi.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Ukraine and neo-nazism


This video says about itself:

Testimony of Bronya Khalfina about the mass murder of the Jews from Medzhibozh in Ukraine

11 July 2013

Bronya Khalfina (née Zats), who was born in 1928 in Medzhibozh, Ukraine, testifies about the mass murder of Jews from Medzhibozh. Before dawn on the morning of September 22, 1942, on the day of Yom Kippur, Germans came to the Medzhibozh ghetto and, with the help of Ukrainian policemen, rounded up about 1,000 Jews. They marched them along the Rusanovtsy road in the direction of the Southern Bug, and shot them in a ravine.

By Max Blumenthal in the USA:

Is the U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

Exposing troubling ties in the U.S. to overt Nazi and fascist protesters in Ukraine.

February 24, 2014

As the Euromaidan protests in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev culminated this week, displays of open fascism and neo-Nazi extremism became too glaring to ignore. Since demonstrators filled the downtown square to battle Ukrainian riot police and demand the ouster of the corruption-stained, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, it has been filled with far-right streetfighting men pledging to defend their country’s ethnic purity.

White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev.

An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the Euromaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. “There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.”

“There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis,” the anti-fascist continued. “They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.”

One of the “Big Three” political parties behind the protests is the ultra-nationalist Svoboda, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.” In the Ukrainian parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels – he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.” According to Per Anders Rudling, a leading academic expert on European neo-fascism, the self-described “socialist nationalist” Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector.

Right Sector is a shadowy syndicate of self-described “autonomous nationalists” identified by their skinhead style of dress, ascetic lifestyle, and fascination with street violence. Armed with riot shields and clubs, the group’s cadres have manned the front lines of the Euromaidan battles this month, filling the air with their signature chant: “Ukraine above all!” In a recent Right Sector propaganda video, the group promised to fight “against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.” With Svoboda linked to a constellation of international neo-fascist parties through the Alliance of European National Movements, Right Sector is promising to lead its army of aimless, disillusioned young men on “a great European Reconquest.”

Svoboda’s openly pro-Nazi politics have not deterred Senator John McCain from addressing a EuroMaidan rally alongside Tyahnybok, nor did it prevent Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland from enjoying a friendly meeting with the Svoboda leader this February. Eager to fend off accusations of anti-Semitism, the Svoboda leader recently hosted the Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked. “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”

In a leaked phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, Nuland revealed her wish for Tyahnybok to remain “on the outside,” but to consult with the US’s replacement for Yanukovich, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, “four times a week.” At a December 5, 2013 US-Ukraine Foundation Conference, Nuland boasted that the US had invested $5 billion to “build democratic skills and institutions” in Ukraine, though she did not offer any details.

“The Euro-Maidan movement has come to embody the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies,” Nuland proclaimed.

Two weeks later, 15,000 Svoboda members held a torchlight ceremony in the city of Lviv in honor of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). Lviv has become the epicenter of neo-fascist activity in Ukraine, with elected Svoboda officials waging a campaign to rename its airport after Bandera and successfully changing the name of Peace Street to the name of the Nachtigall Battalion, an OUN-B wing that participated directly in the Holocaust. “’Peace’ is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes,” a Svoboda deputy explained.

Revered by Ukrainian nationalists as a legendary freedom fighter, Bandera’s real record was ignominious at best. After participating in a campaign to assassinate Ukrainians who supported accommodation with the Polish during the 1930’s, Bandera’s forces set themselves to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. In the process, they killed over 90,000 Poles and many Jews, whom Bandera’s top deputy and acting “Prime Minister,” Yaroslav Stetsko, were determined to exterminate. Bandera held fast to fascist ideology in the years after the war, advocating a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe while his affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out a doomed armed struggle against the Soviet Union. The bloodbath he inspired ended when KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959.

The Right Connections

Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements. “You have to understand, we are an underground organization. We have spent years quietly penetrating positions of influence,” one member told journalist Russ Bellant, who documented the group’s resurgence in the United States in his 1988 book, “Old Nazis, New Right, and the Republican Party.”

In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.

“Your struggle is our struggle,” Reagan told the former Nazi collaborator. “Your dream is our dream.”

When the Justice Department launched a crusade to capture and prosecute Nazi war criminals in 1985, UCCA snapped into action, lobbying Congress to halt the initiative. “The UCCA has also played a leading role in opposing federal investigations of suspected Nazi war criminals since those queries got underway in the late 1970’s,” Bellant wrote. “Some UCCA members have many reasons to worry – reasons which began in the 1930’s.”

Still an active and influential lobbying force in Washington, the UCCA does not appear to have shed its reverence for Banderist nationalism. In 2009, on the 50th anniversary of Bandera’s death, the group proclaimed him “a symbol of strength and righteousness for his followers” who “continue[s] to inspire Ukrainians today.” A year later, the group honored the 60th anniversary of the death of Roman Shukhevych, the OUN-B commander of the Nachtigall Battalion that slaughtered Jews in Lviv and Belarus, calling him a “hero” who “fought for honor, righteousness…”

Back in Ukraine in 2010, then-President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of “National Hero of Ukraine,” marking the culmination of his efforts to manufacture an anti-Russian national narrative that sanitized the OUN-B’s fascism. (Yuschenko’s wife, Katherine Chumachenko, was a former Reagan administration official and ex-staffer at the right-wing Heritage Foundation). When the European Parliament condemned Yushchenko’s proclamation as an affront to “European values,” the UCCA-affiliated Ukrainian World Congress reacted with outrage, accusing the EU of “another attempt to rewrite Ukrainian history during WWII.” On its website, the UCCA dismissed historical accounts of Bandera’s collaboration with the Nazis as “Soviet propaganda.”

Following the demise of Yanukovich this month, the UCCA helped organize rallies in cities across the US in support of the EuroMaidan protests. When several hundred demonstrators marched through downtown Chicago, some waved Ukrainian flags while others proudly flew the red and black banners of the UPA and OUN-B. “USA supports Ukraine!” they chanted.

What had been unthinkable in Europe since the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich in 1945 has come to pass: while the US and Germany ruthlessly and recklessly destabilized the country, fascists became the decisive force on the ground: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Ukrainian Jews threatened by anti-Semitic violence


This video says about itself:

Jews upset over Ukraine election

11 November 2012

For the first time the nationalist Svoboda or Freedom party will be represented in Ukraine’s parliament.

The movement which has links with foreign far-right groups like France’s National Front has been accused of anti-Semitism. Their election showing has raised concerns among the Jewish community.

“Unfortunately I have read their speeches and statements not once but many times. So I do not need any proof that they are anti-Semitic,” said Rabbi Pynchas Vyshedski.

More than 800,000 Jews were killed in Ukraine during the Second World War. There remains deep ties with Israel where there is anger at Svoboda’s success, winning parliamentary seats.

“We don’t understand why they gave them the opportunity to go to the election, we understand the democracy of Ukraine but this kind of partiy ought to be out of parliament,” explained Alex Miller head of inter-parliamentary Ukrainian-Israeli committee.

Oleh Tyahnybok was expelled from the centre right Our Ukrainian party eight years ago. In a speech he referred to Jews as being among the enemies of Ukraine.

He now heads Svoboda but rejects the allegation his party is anti-Semitic.

Tayhnabok and his party has forged links with other political groups including that of Yulia Tymoshenko and could be set to be part of a coalition in the forthcoming legislation.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

Ukraine’s chief rabbi tells Kiev‘s Jews to flee city

Fearing violence against Ukraine’s Jews, the Jewish community asks Israel for assistance with the security of the community.

Published 12:44 22.02.14

Ukraine’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country if possible, fearing that the city’s Jews will be victimized in the chaos, Israeli daily Maariv reported Friday.

“I told my congregation to leave the city center or the city all together and if possible the country too,” Rabbi Azman told Maariv. “I don’t want to tempt fate,” he added, “but there are constant warnings concerning intentions to attack Jewish institutions.”

According to the paper’s report Azman closed the Jewish community’s schools but still holds three daily prayers. He said the Israeli embassy told members of the Jewish community to avoid leaving their homes.

Edward Dolinsky, head of the umbrella organization of Ukraine’s Jews described the situation in Kiev as dire, telling Maariv: “We contacted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman requesting he assist us with securing the community.”

Protesters in the Ukrainian capital claimed full control of the city Saturday following the signing of a Western-brokered peace deal aimed at ending the nation’s three-month political crisis.

President Viktor Yanukovich is still in Ukraine, a senior security source told Reuters on Saturday following reports his residence was empty and unguarded and his Kiev offices were in the hands of protesters.

Enhanced by Zemanta

US Assistant Secretary of State says F-ck the European Union


This is a video of United States Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking to Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine.

By Patrick O’Connor:

US regime-change operation in Ukraine exposed in leaked diplomatic phone call

7 February 2014

A leaked phone conversation between Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, has exposed the anti-democratic and colonialist character of the Obama administration’s intervention in the former Soviet republic.

The discussion between the two officials includes a detailed review of which right-wing opposition figures Washington is working to install in office, and how it is using the United Nations to rubber-stamp the operation. While Germany and other European powers have worked closely with the Obama administration in promoting the violent protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, the leaked phone call reveals tensions between the imperialist powers. At one point Nuland tells Pyatt, “F–k the EU.”

The discussion, posted anonymously on YouTube, underscores the thoroughly cynical character of Washington’s public diplomacy. The Obama administration’s rhetoric about “democracy” and the Ukrainian people’s right to determine their own future is a charade, concocted for public consumption. Behind the scenes, government officials speak frankly with one another about the real agenda—advancing Washington’s geo-strategic and economic interests in Eastern Europe by installing pro-US and anti-Russian puppet figures in the Ukrainian capital.

The phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt apparently took place late last month, after President Viktor Yanukovych offered the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister to opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko, respectively.

Referring to Klitschko, head of the UDAR (Strike) party, which has close financial ties with Germany’s ruling conservative party, Nuland tells the ambassador: “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Pyatt agrees, saying, “let him stay out and do his political homework.”

Nuland continues: “Yats [Yatsenyuk] is the guy that who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.” Pyatt later warns Nuland that “Klitschko has been the top dog” within the opposition, and that she will need to “move fast on all this stuff” and speak with the UDAR leader as part of their “personality management” of the opposition leadership.

The utter criminality of Washington’s drive to install a pliant regime in Kiev sharply emerges in Nuland and Pyatt’s discussion of Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the neo-fascist All-Ukrainian Union (Svoboda) party. Nuland describes Tyahnybok as one of the “big three” within the opposition leadership. The State Department operative goes on to tell Pyatt that “what [Yatsenyuk] needs [after he is installed in office] is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside—he needs to be talking to them four times a week.”

These remarks confirm that there is no confusion whatsoever within the Obama administration that it is working in partnership with fascist movements in Ukraine.

Tyahnybok is the leader of the Svoboda party, which was initially called the Social-National Party of Ukraine and featured a neo-Nazi logo. In 2004, Tyahnybok praised right-wing Ukrainian partisans in World War II, who, he declared, “did not fear, but took up their automatic rifles, going into the woods to fight Muscovites, Germans, Jewry and other filth.”

He added that Ukraine still had to be liberated from a “Moscow-Jewish mafia.” In 2005, Tyahnybok signed an open letter to Ukrainian leaders demanding a halt to the “criminal activities” of “organised Jewry,” which, he declared, was attempting to commit “genocide” against the Ukrainian people.

This is one of the “big three” figures with whom the Obama administration is working to install a client regime in Ukraine. Yesterday, Nuland met with several opposition figures, among them Oleh Tyahnybok. No details of the discussion have been made public, but Ambassador Pyatt released via Twitter a photo of a smiling Nuland posing next to the pro-Nazi leader and his colleagues.

Yesterday’s meeting between Nuland and Tyahnybok was not the first. The two also held a closed-doors discussion when she was previously in Ukraine, last December. After that meeting, Nuland staged a photo opportunity in the Kiev central square that has served as the headquarters for the anti-government protests organised by the right-wing opposition, handing out bread to the demonstrators in a show of US support.

In her telephone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland praises UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for deploying a special envoy, Robert Serry, to Ukraine. This, she explains, will “be great, I think, to help glue this thing [i.e., a new government].” These remarks underscore the role played by the UN as an instrument of imperialism, working with the US and its allies to cover up or endorse their predatory operations around the world.

Immediately after praising the UN, Nuland declares, “F–k the EU,” in apparent frustration that the European powers were not doing more to back the regime-change operation. According to the Kyiv Post, another leaked phone conversation, in German, between EU official Helga Schmid and EU Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Tombinski includes a discussion between the two figures over how the US regards the EU as being “soft” on Ukraine.

In the Nuland-Pyatt discussion, the US ambassador expresses his agreement on the need for the UN to be involved, saying, “we’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.” He adds that “we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.”

Washington is engaged in a ruthless struggle to undermine any obstacle posed by Moscow to its drive to dominate the geo-strategically crucial Eurasia region, the vast land mass stretching from Eastern Europe, extending over the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia, and reaching to China’s western borders. US imperialism is promoting fascist movements in Ukraine and fuelling the flames of a nascent civil war as a means of advancing its interests and ratcheting up the pressure on the Russian government.

Nuland’s nomination as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in May last year clearly formed part of the Obama administration’s aggressive strategy. She previously served as a deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and is married to the prominent “neoconservative” commentator and historian Robert Kagan.

Yesterday, Sergei Glazyev, a senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed that the US was spending $20 million a week sponsoring Ukrainian opposition groups, including supplying them with arms.

Responding to questions about the leaked phone conversation, state department spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted that it was genuine and said that Nuland had apologised to EU figures, before absurdly declaring the incident marked “a new low in Russian tradecraft.”

Psaki said that while the Obama administration had no evidence that the Russian government was responsible for intercepting and leaking the phone conversation, “this is something they have been actively promoting, posting on, tweeting about, and certainly we feel that represents a new low.”

The Obama administration was revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to have erected a vast surveillance network to eavesdrop on the telephone and Internet communications of the world’s population, including heads of state and government. It is no position to lecture anybody about “new lows.” Its hypocritical protests nevertheless point to concerns that the leaked conversation could prove damaging to its ongoing campaign against Moscow and the Yanukovych government.

Angela Merkel: Victoria Nuland’s remarks on EU are unacceptable: here.

Washington’s response has confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube clip of a leaked telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that emerged Thursday: here.

UK Conservatives face crisis over referendum on European Union: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Musician refugee from Hitler plays in Berlin


This video from Switzerland is called Menahem Pressler – Interview – Verbier Festival 2013.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

Pianist Menahem Pressler, refugee from Nazism, performs at the Berlin Philharmonic

6 February 2014

In January, an audience of thousands experienced a moving event: a slight, 90-year-old man sat nimbly at the piano in a Berlin concert hall and played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major (1784). During his performance, he was visibly cheerful, communicated with the orchestra, particularly with the wind section, and spoke through Mozart’s music to the audience—urging the listener to enjoy every trill.

The pianist was Menahem Pressler, born Max Jacob Pressler in 1923 in Magdeburg, Germany. Seventy-five years ago, in 1939, he and his family were barely able to flee the Nazi terror against the Jewish population.

His family’s clothing store was ransacked and destroyed on November 9, 1938, during the Nazi’s Kristallnacht pogroms, and Max Jacob was expelled from high school. He continued to take piano lessons in secret. His uncles, aunts and grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz. His family, via Italy, fled to Palestine and thereafter to the US.

When he was 17, Max Jacob adopted the name Menahem (Hebrew for comfort or solace). He studied piano under fellow émigrés Leo Kestenberg and Eliahu Rudiakov, among others. In the US, he founded the renowned Beaux Arts Trio in 1955, an ensemble in which he performed internationally, including in Germany, until its dissolution in 2008.

After 73 years, on September 27, 2012, Menahem Pressler’s German citizenship was restored. At the ceremony in Berlin, he said that Germany had remained his cultural home throughout. He had always spoken German at home with his family, had read Goethe and Heine and played Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart on the piano. “I can understand those who could not face all that after Auschwitz,” said Pressler, “but for me, there has always been this land of culture that I clung on to.”

Pressler’s three concerts January 10-12 were his first performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, the elite orchestra that performed for the Nazi dictatorship up until 1945. One had the impression that both he and his audience realised this concert was a historic occasion.

The applause after Pressler’s performance was thunderous, and many in the audience rose to their feet to show the musician their appreciation and respect. During the latter’s encore, Chopin’s Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor (1830)—gentle, full of feeling, but with no melodramatic exaggeration—there was silence in the room, no one coughed.

Mozart was 28 years old when he composed his Piano Concerto No. 17. Written for his pupil Barbara Ployer, it was the last of four piano concertos that Mozart produced in the early part of that year.

In the concerto, Mozart allowed the pianist to perform on an almost equal footing with the other instruments, rather than in the usual manner as a soloist accompanied by an orchestra. The desire for new timbre and for unorthodox and surprising moments is exemplified in the development section when Mozart moves through no fewer than 13 different keys. Minor-key episodes suddenly enter the andante section and, in contrast to the conventions of a classical concerto-sonata movement, the piano is granted a third theme of its own. Mozart features an almost chamber music-like dialogue between piano and winds or strings.

Shostakovich’s “The year 1905”

The second half of the Berlin Philharmonic concert featured Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, subtitled “The Year 1905.” The symphony attempts to find musical expression for the events of the 1905 Russian Revolution, including “Bloody Sunday” (January 22, 1905) in St. Petersburg, when the troops of Tsar Nicolas II shot down an unarmed demonstration of workers and their families.

Again, at the conclusion of the piece, there was great applause from the audience, who rightly celebrated the remarkable musical efforts of the orchestra and its guest conductor, Semyon Bychkov from St. Petersburg.

Nonetheless, this interpretation did not have the same emotional impact as Pressler’s Mozart concerto. One could sense a certain distance between the orchestra, the conductor and the significance of the Russian revolution. As a result, in spite of the technical precision, the soul of the music was missing.

Shostakovich composed his Eleventh Symphony in 1957, and the piece received its first performance during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the October Revolution in Moscow. …

The four movements of the Eleventh Symphony depict four moments or scenes from January 22, 1905 (January 9 in the old Russian calendar): “Palace Square,” “The 9th of January,” “Eternal Memory” and “Tocsin.”

The movements are performed without a break, so that the symphony develops a remarkable dynamic.

In the opening, the strings evoke the repressive atmosphere of the tsarist regime, accompanied occasionally by flutes, distant brass and drumbeats—all in all, an unsettling atmosphere. The first theme, based on the hymn “Lord have mercy on us,” points to the religious illusions of the people. A second theme takes up a song of Siberian forced labourers, and a third, a song from the 1860s entitled “Prisoner.” In the second movement, the attack by the tsarist guards is initiated by a fugue and salvos of percussion.

Shostakovich also uses many famous themes in the following movements; for example, the popular revolutionary song “You fell as victims” appears in the third movement as the funeral march for the dead. This song was also sung at Lenin’s funeral in 1924. Among the march-like rhythms in the final movement, quiet and reflective tones join in again—the victims should not be forgotten. In his music, Shostakovich always remembered the victims of the Stalinist terror, who included many of his friends.

In certain ways, the Eleventh Symphony draws on the Seventh, the famed Leningrad Symphony. As with that symphony, the Eleventh was dismissed as mere propaganda music by many Western critics at the time and, as a result, was rarely performed.

In the Berlin concert programme notes, Susanne Stähr opposes the charge of propaganda. She notes that Shostakovich had in principle sympathised with the original ideas of the revolution, which were perverted by Stalinism. At the same time, like many other critics, she attempts to uncover the failure of these revolutionary ideas in the Symphony No. 11.

This is the problem with the Berlin performance. Although the orchestra’s playing was technically superb, the passion of the revolution, with all its heroism, self-sacrifice and tragedy, hardly finds musical expression. As a result, the contrasts between quiet and reflective sections, on the one hand, and the booming, martial portions sometimes seem too stiff—brilliant, but without inner connection or a deeper understanding.

In comparison, the author would like to suggest a performance by the Leningrad Philharmonic under the direction of Yevgeny Mravinsky. In a recording of a 1959 concert, a different tone can be detected—a tone that suggests participation in the revolutionary upsurge and defeats in the Soviet Union, which so moved Shostakovich himself.

A brief sample of the Berlin concert is available here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Drowning refugees and nazis in Greece


This video says about itself:

Greece: Families of survivors from “Greek Lampedusa” arrive

23 Jan 2014

A total of 16 Afghan and Syrian refugees arrived at the port of Piraeus, Thursday, after 12 people drowned following an incident involving the Greek coast guard pulling a refugee boat towards the Turkish coast. As the refugees arrived, they were greeted by sympathisers and protesters, some of whom holding banners comparing the incident to the tragic incident in Lampedusa, when more than 350 refugees drowned off the coast of Italy.

Refugees had tried to land their boat at Farmakonisi, a Greek island in the eastern Mediterranean. A total of three women and nine children drowned in the incident. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) has condemned the Greek coast guard following interviews with survivors, who said their boat capsized while they were being pulled back to the Turkish coast.

From I Can’t Relax in Greece blog:

Migrant drowns off Rhodes

Posted on 04/02/2014 by icantrelaxingreece

Man, believed to be Syrian, died while trying to swim ashore …

The man’s death comes two weeks to the day after a dozen people, including three women and nine children, drowned when their vessel capsized while being towed in a controversial coastguard operation near the island of Farmakonisi, also in the eastern Aegean.

Behind the Coast Guard officers and illegal ‘refoulements’, there is the government which provokes anyone seeking clarifications about the Farmakonisi affair: here.

UN’s High Commissioner Muiznieks expressed concern about the escalation of anti-migrant rhetoric in Greece: here.

The German press speaks of relations between Golden Dawn and neo-nazi organizations from the south of Germany, while it is noted that a delegation of fascist organizations participated in the Golden Dawn demonstration on the anniversary of the Imia crisis: here.

Greece’s Golden Dawn to form new party if banned from polls. Far-right activists say they will form National Dawn to contest elections if they are prevented from standing in elections: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta