Author Topic: Interesting Guardian article this morning  (Read 2077 times)

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Offline Strelets

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Interesting Guardian article this morning
« on: November 30, 2004, 10:53:24 AM »
I need to apply for a job at this newspaper.  I'm way ahead of them on the curve :-)


PR man to Europe's nastiest regimes

David Aaronovitch
Tuesday November 30, 2004
The Guardian

Whenever, as this past week, eastern Europe is on the news, so too is a man called John Laughland. Last Sunday he was playing Ukrainian expert on the BBC's The World This Weekend, the day before he was here in the Guardian defending the Ukrainian election "result", and at the beginning of the month he was writing for the Spectator - also on Ukraine.

Laughland's great strength is that he sees what no one else in the west seems to. Where reporters in Kiev, including the Guardian's own Nick Paton-Walsh, encounter a genuine democracy movement, Laughland comes across "neo-Nazis" (Guardian), or "druggy skinheads from Lvov" (Spectator). And where most observers report serious and specific instances of electoral fraud and malpractice on the part of the supporters of the current prime minister, Laughland complains only of a systematic bias against (the presumably innocent) Mr Yanukovich.

A quick trawl establishes this to be the Laughland pattern over the past few years and concerning several countries. Laughland has variously queried the idea that human rights are a problem in Belarus, or that the Serbs behaved so very savagely in Kosovo. He has defended Slobodan Milosevic, criticised the International Tribunal in the Hague and generally argued that the problem in countries normally associated with human rights abuses is, in fact, the intervention of western agencies.

It was the British Helsinki Human Rights Group hat that he was wearing last Sunday. On its website the BHHRG - of which Laughland is a trustee - describes itself as a non-governmental organisation which monitors human rights in the 57 member states of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Laughland is listed as a trustee, the historian Mark Almond (to be found writing about the Ukraine in last week's New Statesman) is its chairman.

Founded in 1992, the BHHRG sends observers to elections and writes reports which - along Laughlandish lines - almost invariably dispute the accounts given by better known human rights organisations. This stance has led to the BHHRG being criticised by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (established in 1976) as preferring "the role [is to take] PR flak for a new breed of authoritarian rulers in Europe" to the business of actually monitoring abuses.

So what on earth is going on here? I know nothing about BHHRG's finances, but the ideological trail is fascinating. Take the co-founder of the group, Christine Stone. She was a lawyer before she helped set up BHHRG. Since then she has "written for a number of publications including the Spectator and Wall Street Journal on eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union".

This information comes from a US website called where, for a while, Stone had a regular Thursday column. But was not a leftwing site opposing the Iraq war. It was a rightwing site set up to oppose the Kosovo intervention in 1999. Its "editorial director" was a man called Justin Raimondo who was active in the small US Libertarian party before joining the Republican party. In the 1992, 1996 and 2000 elections he supported the campaigns of Pat Buchanan, the far-right isolationist candidate.

Raimondo is also an "adjunct scholar" with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. This is a libertarian think-tank in Auburn, Alabama, founded by one Lew Rockwell, who describes himself as "an opponent of the central state, its wars and its socialism". A contributor to Rockwell's own site is Daniel McAdams, who is - in his own words "honoured to be associated" with the British Helsinki Human Rights Group.

Trail 2. Laughland is also European Director of the European Foundation (patron, Mrs M Thatcher), which - judging by its website - seems to spend most of its time and energy sending out pamphlets by arch-Europhobe Bill Cash. A synopsis of one of Laughland's own books, however, notes his argument that, "Post-national structures ... and supranational organisations such as the European Union - are ... corrosive of liberal values (and) the author shows the ideology as a crucial core of Nazi economic and political thinking."

Beginning to get the picture now? Trail 3 leads us to Sanders Research Associates, a "risk consultancy" for which Laughland is, according to their website, "a regular contributor" and to which companies can subscribe for information and advice. The "principal" is a Chris Sanders. The kind of steer Sanders gives his customers can be adduced from this report on the morning of the US presidential election. "We will be very surprised," he wrote, "if on Wednesday John Kerry has not won a clear majority of electoral college votes and that his supporters are not nursing substantial post vote celebration hangovers, if not still drinking the champagne."

Lots of people got that one wrong, and some blamed their own judgment. Not Sanders. "Our bet," he says following the results, "is that we will soon be adding an investigation into the biggest vote fraud in history.'"

Sanders, it seems, is not beyond the odd bit of conspiracising. In a bulletin from June 2002 he also has something to suggest about the Twin Towers atrocity. "It was obvious then, and it is obvious now," he writes, "that something besides the brilliance of a band of terrorists or the incompetence of America's security apparatus was responsible for the disaster of 9/11." But he doesn't tell us what that "something" was.

Sanders on America and Laughland on Ukraine, however, are not the most amazing features of Sanders Research Associates. That distinction belongs to the report on Rwanda written for Sanders by a Canadian lawyer named Chris Black. Black is the only person I have ever seen putting the word genocide in quotation marks when applied to Rwanda. Rwanda, you see, was all the US's fault, and wasn't carried out by Hutus in any case. It was all got up to justify US intervention in the region. He condemns the "demonising (of) the Hutu leadership".

Since 2000 Black has been the lead counsel representing General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, chief of staff of the Rwandan gendarmerie, at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He is also chair of the legal committee for the international committee for the defence of Slobodan Milosevic. Last year (though not for Sanders) Black went on a delegation to North Korea. The report he wrote on his return is full of references to happy peasants, committed soldiers and delightful guides. The North Korean system, he suggested, being "participatory", was in many ways more democratic than parliamentary systems in the west.

This is weird company. And what we seem to have in Laughland and his associates is a group of right-wing anti-state libertarians and isolationists, suspicious of any foreign entanglements, who have somehow morphed into apologists for the worst regimes and most appalling dictators on the planet.

And where does it all end up? A couple of weeks ago Sanders commended to his clients "John Laughland's series of articles [showing that] the attack on Iraq is just the southern offensive of a larger campaign to tighten the noose on Russia." And he continued, "What is less well understood are the risks that the unravelling political compact in Israel poses for the United States and Great Britain, whose political processes, intelligence services, military, media and financial establishments are so thoroughly enmeshed with Israel's."

Read that last sentence again and then ask yourself: in what way are Britain's media and financial interests "thoroughly enmeshed" with Israel's?
"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Offline Strelets

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Re:Interesting Guardian article this morning
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2004, 11:43:44 AM »
Oops, I meant for this to end up in the free-for-all forum.  :o
"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Offline MsGuided

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Re:Interesting Guardian article this morning
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2004, 11:49:35 AM »
Done. Continue. :)
"Forgive me that great love leads me to talking nonsense." Barsanuphius

Offline Orthodoc

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Re:Interesting Guardian article this morning
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2004, 03:31:15 PM »

British Helsinki Human Rights Group - Regarding Ukrainian Elections

Page 2:



 24 November 2004

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG) sent observers to the

 second round of the presidential election in Ukraine on 21st November 2004.

BHHRG monitored the election in the city and district of Kiev, Chernigov, and

 Transcarpathia. Counts were observed in central Kiev and Uzhgorod.

 Contrary to the condemnations issued by the team of professional politicians

and diplomats deployed by the OSCE mainly from NATO and EU states, the

 BHHRG observers did not see evidence of government-organized fraud nor of

 suppression of opposition media. Improbably high votes for Prime Minister,

 Viktor Yanukovich, have been reported from south-eastern Ukraine but less

 attention has been given to the 90% pro-Yushchenko results declared in


 Although Western media widely claimed that in Ukraine the opposition was,

in effect, excluded from the broadcast media, particularly in western Ukraine

 the opposite was the case. On the eve of the poll - in flagrant violation of the

law banning propaganda for candidates - a series of so-called “social

 information” advertisements showing well-known pop stars like Eurovision

 winner Ruslana wearing the orange symbols of Mr Yushchenko’s candidacy

 and urging people to vote appeared on state television!

 Although BHHRG did not encounter blatant violations in either the first or second

 rounds, the Group’s observers were alarmed by a palpable change in the

 atmosphere inside the polling stations in central Ukraine in particular. In Round 1,

 a relaxed and orderly mood prevailed throughout the day. In Round 2 the situation

 had become slightly tense and chaotic. In BHHRG’s observation the change in

 Round 2 was attributable primarily to an overabundance of local observers, who

 exercised undue influence over the process and in some instances were an

 intimidating factor. The vast majority of observers in the polling stations visited

 were representatives of Viktor Yushchenko.


Transparent ballot boxes meant that these observers could frequently see

how people had voted. This OSCE-approved innovation made intimidation of voters

 for the more unpopular candidate in any district easier since few supporters of

the minority would wish it to be seen how they had voted.

 Ukraine’s election law allows only candidates and political parties, not non-

 governmental organizations, to deploy observers. However, observers can be

 deployed in the guise of journalists. For example, the Western-sponsored

 Committee of Voters of Ukraine (KVU) - clearly sympathetic to the opposition -

 deployed observers throughout Ukraine as “correspondents” for the

organization’s newspaper, <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tochka Zora. On 31st October, BHHRG did not

 encounter any representatives of this newspaper anywhere, but on

 21st November such journalist-observers were highly visible in central Ukraine.

 In Chernigov 11/208, for example, all 6 journalist-observers represented

 opposition newspapers and one, for <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tochka Zora, stood very close to the

ballot boxes and closely inspected how votes were cast. Because ballot

 papers in Round 2 were much smaller than in Round 1 and were not

 placed in envelopes before insertion into the transparent ballot boxes,

 secrecy of the ballot was compromised. In this case, the immediate

 impression was that a young <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tochka Zora correspondent exercised more

 control over the process than the election commission chairman himself.

 In Chernigov (7/208), all 7 journalist-observers represented opposition

 newspapers, in some cases simply temporary campaign publications such

 as the pro-Yushchenko propaganda paper <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tak - his election slogan “Yes.” In

 a scene exemplary of the mood of voting on November 21st, BHHRG watched a

 nervous looking old woman emerge from a voting booth, approach the three

 opposition observers sitting directly behind the ballot boxes, and ask: “Have

 I filled out the ballot correctly?” An observer inspected the ballot, saw it was filled

 in for Viktor Yushchenko, and replied: “Yes.” The woman’s unfolded ballot was

 plainly visible in the transparent ballot box.

Such groups of opposition journalist/observers were not in evidence in the

 Transcarpathian region visited by BHHRG’s observers. Exit pollsters in

 Mukachevo admitted to being Yushchenko supporters and were carrying out

 their poll in a simplistic manner - asking every twentieth voter for their choice

 without categorizing by age, class, etc. 40% of voters refused to say how they

 had voted, but 80% of the remainder said that they had backed Yushchenko.

 The exit polls were clearly not scientific - less so even than the ones predicting

 Kerry trouncing George W. Bush in Florida and Ohio!

 In a polling station attached to Uzhgorod’s university a group of young, male

Yushchenko observers hung around the entrance to the polling room and next to

 the ballot box. OSCE guidelines condemn the presence of such un-authorised

 personnel. The commission chairman in this polling station stated that four

 members of the election commission had prevented observers for Mr. Yushenko

 from fulfilling their tasks leading to the intervention of lawyers. When this

accusation was put to other members of the commission they appeared dumb-

 founded and said no such incident had taken place. The chairman appeared

 shocked that the BHHRG observers sought to confirm his detailed account

 of the misbehaviour of some of his colleagues by asking other witnesses, but

no proper observation should accept allegations unquestioningly.


 Whatever may have been the case in south-eastern Ukraine, it was clear to this

 Group’s observers in central Ukraine and western Ukraine that the opposition

exercised near complete control. The broadcast media showed bias towards

 Mr. Yushchenko in these areas, particularly in western Ukraine where Viktor

 Yanukovich was invisible - not even being shown voting on polling day. It is

 na+»ve to think only the government had the facilities to exercise improper

 influence over the polls. From what BHHRG observed, the opposition exercised

 disproportionate control over the electoral process in many places, giving rise

 to concerns that the opposition - not only the authorities - may have

 committed violations and may have even falsified the vote in opposition-

 controlled areas. So-called “administrative resources” in places visited by

 BHHRG appeared to be in the hands of the opposition, not the Yanukovich

 government,and this may have frightened voters. After all since Sunday,

 police and security personnel in some western towns have declared their

loyalty to “president” Yushchenko.

 The open bias of Western governments and their nominated observers in the

 OSCE delegation, some of whom have appeared on opposition platforms,

 makes it unreasonable to rely on its report.

 In spite of these specific concerns, BHHRG finds no reason to believe that

 the final result of the2004 presidential election in Ukraine was not generally

 representative of genuine popular will. The election featured a genuine choice

 of candidates, active pre-election campaigns, and high voter participation. It is

 clear that Ukrainian opinion was highly polarized. That meant many people

backing a losing candidate would find it difficult to accept a defeat. Foreigners

 should not encourage civil conflict because the candidate on whom they have

 lavished expensive support turned out to be a loser.





Oh Lord, Save thy people and bless thine inheritance.
Grant victory to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries.
And by virtue of thy Cross preserve thy habitation.

Offline Strelets

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Re:Interesting Guardian article this morning
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2004, 07:47:06 PM »
It's already been made clear the British Helsinki Human Rights Group is a fraudulent group that has nothing to do with the International Helsinki Group, and it consists only of John Laughland, Mark Almond, and Christine Stone.  In this supposed election report, along with their other ones, no names are provided on who these mysterious "observers" are that they sent.  Go ahead.  Look for them.  Where can they be reached?  Whom did they interview?  You won't find the info because the BHHRG trio make the stories up.  They routinely write these articles with concocted information, with no author and contact info listed, and which contradict what's written by every respectable news organization.  They are not journalists, but paid propagandists for the folks they defend.  There's no founding date provided, no personnel list (including journalistic staff), no authorship on their "election reports", and no explanation why they use the "Helsinki" moniker when they have nothing to do with that organization.  You can't track their source of funding because they don't release that information.  The Donation link on their home page is a dead link.  It's not a "charity" as they claim, but a three-person scam.
"The creed is very simple, and here is what it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ; and there not only isn't, but I tell myself with a jealous love, there cannot be." ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky