Voices from Russia

Friday, 3 February 2012

Archbishop Ieronymos Liapis of Athens Calls Austerity “Fatal”

This is Greece! But Greece isn’t Giving Up Yet!

Sergei Yolkin



On Thursday, Archbishop Ieronymos Liapis of Athens and all Greece, the First Hierarch of the Local Church of Greece, warned that rising poverty in the crisis-hit country could trigger a “social explosion”, as the government raced to push through more cost-cutting reforms needed to conclude debt deals and avoid a default in March. He wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, “Homelessness and even hunger… phenomena seen during (World War Two)… have reached nightmare proportions. Patience amongst Greeks is running out, giving way to a sense of anger, and we can’t ignore the danger of a social explosion any longer. The medicine we’re taking has proven fatal for the nation. More painful and more unjust measures are now set to follow along the same hopeless course”.

Greece is promising rescue creditors tougher austerity measures as it nears agreement for a second bailout worth €130 billion (5.184 trillion Roubles. 171.1 billion USD. 108.1 billion UK Pounds) with its partners in the 17-nation Euro Zone and the International Monetary Fund, and a related deal with private creditors that’ll see €100 billion (3.99 trillion Roubles. 131.6 billion USD. 83.15 billion UK Pounds) wiped off the national debt. Without those agreements, Greece faces bankruptcy next month, as it’s unable to cover a €14.5 billion (578.5 billion Roubles. 19.1 billion USD. 12.06 billion UK Pounds) bond repayment due on 20 March. Under pressure from the government and rescue creditors, leaders of Greece’s unions and employers resumed talks to slash labour costs in the private sector. The two sides said they made progress, but haven’t yet reached an agreement after their three-hour meeting, and said they would inform the government and rescue creditors of their respective positions.

Debt inspectors from the EU, IMF, and European Central Bank… known as the troika… are currently visiting Athens, and insist the cuts are needed to boost Greece’s sluggish competitiveness. Greek government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis told privately-run Mega Channel TV, “This is a very difficult negotiation and, of course, there are differences of opinion, so we’ll see where that leads. As a country, we’ve reached the brink of official bankruptcy. We’ve been borrowing for so many years; now, we have our backs to the wall, so, we have difficult decisions to make”.

The Greek Church stepped up a charity drive this week, during a cold snap that left much of the country in sub-freezing temperatures and a growing number of homeless people at risk. Unemployment in Greece surged to 19.2 percent, with the jobless rate for people under age 25 at 47.2 percent, according to figures for October from the EU statistics agency, Eurostat. Also on Thursday, workers from the state-run National Health Service gathered in protest outside the Health Ministry to protest spending cuts in healthcare, including a new round of wage reductions that took effect on 1 February. One group of protesters carried an empty coffin outside the central Athens building.

2 February 2012

Derek Gatopoulos

Associated Press

As quoted in Deseret News


Editor’s Note:

Vladyki Ieronymos takes the same foursquare position on Social Justice and Economic Fairness that His Holiness does! I’ll bet you that’s one reason why Abba Ephrem rots in a prison cell. Remember Abba Ephrem? Don’t forget that Langley supports Abba Ephrem’s imprisonment and that they toppled Ecumenical Patriarch Maximos Vaportzis in 1948… to put a disastrous American-sponsored hierarch on the throne in the Phanar. The Church does NOT support the POV that we need to slash the working people so that the filth in McMansions get through this crisis with no pain or sacrifice whatsoever. The Mitt Romneys of this world CAN afford to dig deeper, but they REFUSE to… and call that refusal GOOD. Reflect on that…

I support Vladyki Ieronymos without reservation… as should all decent people. As for the bondholders… “let them eat brioche”… they’ve throttled ordinary folks long enough. They could close off part of their McMansion to save on the heating bills, dontcha know! That’s what they’re always telling us…



“Red Lines” on the UN Resolutions Concerning Syria

Vitaly Churkin (1952- ), Russian Ambassador to the UN


Russia reiterated its position that it’ll veto a UN Security Council resolution on Syria if it finds it mistaken or if it worsens the conflict there. According to Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, the domestic conflict in Syria could still be resolved, the conflicting parties have to confer, but someone has to initiate negotiations. 

After a Security Council meeting on Syria, Ambassador Churkin explained to journalists the differences between the two approaches concerning the Syrian crisis, and related a bit about the atmosphere of the negotiations, saying, “Our Western counterparts conducted themselves very correctly. They were careful to abstain from any critical remarks concerning Russia. I appreciated that. I’ll tell you a little secret… as a result, my statement wasn’t as aggressive as it could’ve been, and the meeting had a much calmer atmosphere than it could’ve had under different circumstances. It created a favourable climate for working on a resolution that would not only overcome the Syrian crisis, but for one that would be consensual as well”.

The diplomatic standoff has persisted through a number of Security Council meetings. After all, the fate of a nation-state and its people are at stake. Right now, there are two draft resolutions on Syria, from Russia and Morocco. The latter, although formally presented by the Moroccan delegation, was prepared with the unofficial participation of France and some Arab countries that aren’t members of the UN Security Council. Morocco is the only Arab country on in the Security Council at present. The Moroccan resolution doesn’t rule out third-party military intervention in Syria. Bluntly speaking, Russia won’t accept that. The resolution also supports a plan suggested by the Arab League that requires President Bashar al-Assad to resign and hand over power to his vice-president.

Ambassador Churkin said, “The Arab League resolution is too over-specific to end the political standoff. It doesn’t only stipulate the creation of a ‘government of national unity’ in Syria, but, for example, it dwells on how this government should interact with the Vice President and what problems it should tackle first. Damascus has already rejected this proposal, so it’s really out of the question to consider it at all. Of course, there isn’t any point in a ‘dialogue’ if you know in advance what the end will be. Naturally, the Arab League has a right to express its opinion. However, we can’t ignore the fact that the UN Security Council just doesn’t have the statutory authority to dictate specific political outcomes, or to force political decisions on other countries, even if they’re in crisis. The Security Council can’t adopt resolutions calling on this King or that Premier to stand down. So, there’s still much to talk about, but it has to be genuine palaver, engaging in dialogue”.

There isn’t such a thing as a unilateral “dialogue”. Churkin said, “Diplomats and politicians alike should talk to their opponents, particularly in times of national crisis. Syria has the potential to get out of this crisis. Opposition forces in Syria must find the political courage to enter into negotiations with the government”. Russia’s ready to host talks between the conflicting Syrian parties in Moscow. The Syrian government confirmed its willingness to take part in such a proposed confab. However, Burhan Ghalioun, the chairman of the Syrian opposition Syrian National Council made several counter-proposals. There’s been no official reply from Moscow and Damascus to his demands. For instance, Ghalioun said that he’d consent to come to Moscow only on the condition that Russia agreed to the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad first. For its part, Moscow insisted that talks between the Syrian factions must go ahead without any preliminary conditions. Yes, Russia does have a list of “conditions”. It won’t support an arms embargo against Syria or even a hint at one. Nor will it approve any use of force, third-party military intervention, or sanctions against Damascus. Russia won’t cross these “red lines”.

2 February 2012

Olga Denisova

Voice of Russia World Service


Kremlin Mobilises “Working Stiffs”


On Thursday, Rossiiskaya Gazeta said that supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the Ural region created a political movement called In Defence of the Working Man, reviving old Soviet rhetoric. Local news web site Ura.ru reported that the group, which has Kremlin endorsement, planned to give political representation to the country’s 27 million workers. Ura.ru said that it aims to help Putin in his campaign for the presidential elections on 4 March, mobilising workers in the Urals and other industrial regions.

Igor Kholmanskikh, a worker in a tank factory in the city of Nizhny Tagil, is a co-founder and the informal leader of the movement. In mid-December, Kholmanskikh made headlines when he said to Putin that he’d go to Moscow with his friends and personally disperse anti-government protests, which saw tens of thousands rally in the capital against alleged rigging of the parliamentary elections. In Defence of the Working Man may also convert into a political party following the elections, or, possibly take the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia away from its leader, the flamboyant populist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the report said, adding that 65-year-old Zhirinovsky is reportedly ready to part with his political vehicle for 50 million dollars (1.512 billion Roubles. 38 million Euros. 31.6 million UK Pounds). Earlier media reports indicated that Putin’s campaign staff’s planning to counter the growing opposition protests by mobilising their own supporters. An unidentified official confirmed the strategy to Ura.ru, saying, “There’s a huge risk of a public standoff on the country’s [public] squares” after the elections.

2 February 2012



New UN Resolution on Syria Watered Down… Churkin says “Nyet” to Western Aggression against Syria Disguised as “Humanitarianism”


On Thursday, the BBC reported that UN Security Council diplomats toned down a resolution on Syria in a move apparently aimed at overcoming Russia’s opposition to an earlier draft. The new text, submitted by Morocco, no longer explicitly calls on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power, which was a key point of an Arab League plan to settle the Syrian conflict. According to the UN, the Syrian government‘s 11-month crackdown on protests killed at least 5,400 people. Syrian authorities blamed the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda, and said that more than 2,000 soldiers and police were killed. Russia, along with China, already vetoed a European-drafted resolution containing the threat of sanctions against Syria in October 2011.

Amnesty International advised Russia against blocking international efforts to end ongoing violence in Syria and to join a binding UN Security Council resolution. Russia, one of Assad’s firm supporters during the uprising against his régime, indicated earlier this week that it would veto any draft resolution calling on Assad to step down and providing for “further measures” should he refuse. Moscow proposed its own draft, which the West criticised as being too soft. Some Western countries tried to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorising a military operation, but Russia repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is a preparation for a “Libyan scenario”. In Libya, rebels ousted and killed long-standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces. On Wednesday, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, said Russia would vote against the Morocco-submitted draft on Syria if it turned out unacceptable for Moscow.

2 February 2012



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