Jun 30, 2008

Move Over Armenian Genocide...

...the Ukrainian Genocide is totally the hippest unrecognized genocide now. Who could deny the Holodomor when there's a starvation torch being passed around the globe? Well, Britain, the US, Germany, and Russia to name a few. The UN will not be recognizing Holodomor this year despite Ukraine's best PR efforts. Russia just didn't want it more. :(

Podrobnosti.ua: Президент Мирового конгресса украинцев Аскольд Лозинский заявляет, что в новой резолюции ООН по поводу Голодомора 1932-33 годов скорее всего не будет упоминания о геноциде украинского народа. По словам Лозинского, Великобритания вместе с Соединенными Штатами, Германией и Россией принадлежит к странам, которые пока не готовы признать Голодомор актом геноцида против украинского народа.

Напомним, что ранее глава политического комитета ПАСЕ, депутат из Швеции Йоран Линдблад сообщил, что Парламентская Ассамблея Совета Европы будет изучать последствия Голодомора на территории всего Советского Союза, а не только в Украине. Это он объяснил тем, что российская делегация в ПАСЕ лучше лоббировала свою позицию, чем украинцы.

Jun 29, 2008

Russian Bishop Threatened with "Defrocking"

Dramatization of a defrocking.

NY TIMES: A bishop who accused leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church of forming an inappropriate alliance with the Kremlin will be defrocked unless he repents, clerics ruled. Bishop Diomid, who has also spoken out against ecumenical ties with other Christian faiths, had to be disciplined because he was trying to create a split within the church, the Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement. Many Russian Orthodox believers are sensitive about any sign that the church is compromising its independence from the Kremlin, especially because under Soviet rule senior clerics were recruited by the Communist authorities as collaborators. “With his appeals and statements, he is cultivating the spirit of schism in the church and destroying its unity,” the church said of the bishop.

Jun 27, 2008

Какая боль! Испания-Россия 3-0

Сегодня солнце зашло за тучи, Сегодня волны бьют так больно,
Я видел, как умирает надежда России
Моя душа плачет.

Зачем ты стучишь в мои барабаны?
Зачем ты танцуешь под мои барабаны?
Зачем ты поешь мою песню?
Мне и так больно.

Какая боль! Какая боль!
Испания-Россия 3-0

Jun 26, 2008

Kazakhstan makes Colbert's Map of Potential Bombing Targets

Oh and Russia is planning a crystal island...What is the Russian word for tacky?

Politics in Sport? No way...

Josh Patashnik over at the New Republic has an interesting take on Russia’s march through the European Championship:

Russian soccer has been in a two-decade slump--failing to qualify for some tournaments and quickly being eliminated from others--that's mirrored the country's geopolitical funk. So it's not surprising that geopolitics helps explain the team's success this year.

First, everyone roll your eyes and groan. Now, consider:

--Roman Abramovich is personally paying Guus Hiddink’s $4 million salary to coach the Russian team. “Part of a tacit bargain with the Kremlin that keeps Abramovich and others of his ilk from meeting the kind of fate that befell imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.”

--Andrei Arshavin, “the team's musically gifted striker who tore up the Dutch defense in Russia's quarterfinal victory, sits on the St. Petersburg city council as a member of Putin's United Russia party,” and Gazprom is paying his salary. "He wants to play for Barcelona,” says Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, “but I don't think they can pay him more than he earns now."

Patashnik notes, “There are worse things an authoritarian petro-state could spend its money on” but suggests cheering for Spain anyway.

Burma, You Can't Hug Your Cyclone Victims with Russian Nuclear Arms

www.dictatorwatch.org: Russia is providing Burma’s dictatorship, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), on its nuclear program and more generally its military modernization. A 10 MW reactor is to be installed in the Kyauk Pa Toe area of Tha Beik Kyin Township, Mandalay Division, by the end of this year. Russia is also providing a factory to produce guided rockets, which will be constructed in Thazi Township in the Pyin Nyaung area on the Shwe Nyaung Railway between Mandalay Division and Southern Shan State. More than 5000 Burmese “State Scholars,” who have already graduated from the Defense Services Academy, are studying in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Their subjects include nuclear science, tunneling science, rocketry, artillery, and a wide variety of other military fields. In return for this assistance, Russia has received mining concessions in Burma for gold, titanium and uranium.

So I don't know if this is true or not, but I'd like to tell Spielberg and Lucas, the above story would have made for a MUCH more interesting plot than the crystal skulls BS. Just saying.

Jun 25, 2008

Sharapova Not Allowed to Carry Russian Flag at the Olympics

...because it's for her own good. Now eat your kutlety before they get cold! Davai!

ESPN: Officials have rejected Maria Sharapova's request to carry the Russian flag in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics so that she can save her energy. "She wanted to be a flag-bearer but I advised against it," Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev said Wednesday. "I don't want her to spend 3 or 4 hrs in hot weather waiting to march in the opening ceremony. We want her to be fresh, not tired, during her matches."

It seems that these "officials" are most likely a merry-band of babushki worried about their little Masha.

Corruption Inflation

Yesterday, Reuters ran a story on the Kremlin's current drive to address state corruption:

"Medvedev says graft is hindering economic growth and undermining the state, but opposition politicians say he is unlikely to be able to root out a problem that is deeply entrenched in Russian society."

Deeply entrenched? That's a bit cynical. Clearly blat networks are entrenched, as are expediting payments and public perceptions of corruption. But are all the apples bad?

The article goes on to source a "senior Russian prosecutor" who estimates that corrupt officials skim $120 billion a year, or one third of Russia's budget, into their pockets.

Ok then….deeply entrenched it is.

Obama Might Just Pull Off the Russian Mail Order Bride Vote

From the great ellustrator; thank you, Igor. It kind of makes me like Obama more. I'm thinking if some of the mail order brides finally have their citizenship, maybe that's a demographic Obama should try appealing to. Thoughts?

Jun 23, 2008

Medvedev Wants to Loot the Kitty

For everyone who has ever taken money from their retirement account and hopped a plane to Vegas, there's a job for you at the Russian Finance Ministry.

Jamestown reports:
"In February of this year, the [oil stabilization] fund, which was created in 2004 as a reserve to ensure that the federal budget could be balanced if the price of oil fell below a cut-off price (currently $27 per barrel), was split into a $129 billion Reserve Fund, which is invested abroad in low-yield securities and retains the Stabilization Fund’s original mandate, and a $33 billion National Welfare Fund (NWF)... That has now changed. Medvedev told the Finance Ministry and Central Bank that it was necessary 'to think about expanding the list of instruments for [the National Welfare Fund’s] investment to include securities of both Russian and foreign issuers.'"

It was only a matter of time, really. More white elephant projects are on their way.

Also, Medvedev doesn't seem to mind that his plan is technically against Russia's own laws, which are designed to protect the fund. But as Aslund and others have pointed out, oil funds were made to be looted.

Czech President Scorns "Europeism", Compares to Esperanto

The Sofia Weekly: EU skeptic Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic has declared that he was against "Europeism". Klaus stated:

"We should let people living on the European continent live as Czechs, Poles, Italians, Danes. Let's not turn them into "Europeans". This is a faulty project. The difference between the Czech, the Pole, the Italian, the Dane and the European is the same as the difference between the Czech, Polish, Italian, Danish languages and the Esperanto. Europeism equals Esperanto - an artificial, dead language."

While this Remont correspondant understand's Klaus' concerns, s/he can only offer this rebuttal: As long as William Shatner lives, Esperanto is not dead, and for that matter, as long as we can continue netflixing Incubus, Esperanto is not dead. Your move, Klaus!

2 Romanians Arrested in Attempt of Smuggling 1,300 Perfumes in Bulgaria

Alternate Title: Smuggling Bust Leaves Romania Smelling Like Ass...and Ironically, Bulgaria Somehow Retains Its Unique Odor

The Sofia Weekly: 2 Romanian citizens were detained at Bulgaria's border checkpoint of Kapitan Andreevo while trying to smuggle a total of 1,344 vials of perfumes late on Monday. The cosmetic goods were found in a Mercedes bus, driven by the Romanians, aged 25 and 37. They have been transporting the perfumes of famous brands without a permit, issued by the producing companies. All the vials have been seized and legal proceedings were instituted against the two men.

Football Brings Swiss into the Fight, for Once...

Russia’s unexpected victory this weekend over the Netherlands brought out the best in fans throughout Geneva.

As IHT reports, Swiss “police said they had to break up a number of fights in the city center [following the match]…The arrests included Russian and Dutch fans, as well as Swiss nationals.”
Ultimately, 800 ended up in the Klink.

What we've learned: the Swiss won’t take sides in a war, but a quarterfinal match will bring out the football hulligan in anyone.

Next up, Russia will play Spain on Thursday. More hilarity to come, for sure.

Jun 20, 2008

Not Seen Since 1948

We’ve been covering this trend for a while now: oil-rich Russians are buying up the world’s art like it is going out of style.

Now it seems that the cash-strapped Berkshire Museum in Massachusetts is more than happy to take their money. As Bloomberg reports, Sotheby's New York will auction three paintings by Boris Grigoriev (''Pipe Players'' pictured) for 73,629 barrels of oil, or $10.3 million.

The paintings have not been seen in public since 1948.

The New Monumental Propaganda???

Yahoonews: A monument to the enema, a procedure many people would rather not think about, has been unveiled at a spa in the southern Russian city of Zheleznovodsk. The bronze syringe bulb, which weighs 800 lbs and is held by 3 angels, was unveiled at the Mashuk-Akva Term spa, the spa's director said Thursday.

"There is no kitsch or obscenity, it is a successful work of art," Alexander Kharchenko told The Associated Press. "An enema is almost a symbol of our region."

Sculptor Svetlana Avakina said she designed the 5-foot-high monument with "irony and humor" and modeled the angels on those in works by Italian Renaissance painter Alessandro Botticelli. "This device is eternal, it will never change," she told the AP. "We could promote this brand, turn it into a franchise with souvenirs and awards for medical doctors."


Jun 18, 2008

The City That They Lost

Ah, the good ol' beer tank, where are you now...

English Russia has posted some rather haunting photos of Moscow in the 1960s. For some reason, these pictures have made me increadibly sad -- least of which because that place no longer exists.

Actual Title: Еврейская община обеспокоена слухами о том, что преемник Путина – еврей


Российская еврейская община встревожена кампанией, развязанной националистическими партиями, – а именно, слухами о том, будто Дмитрий Медведев, лично подобранный президентом Владимиром Путиным преемник, является евреем по национальности.

Лидеры российской еврейской общины отказываются публично комментировать эти слухи, опасаясь придать им оттенок достоверности. В кулуарах, однако, один из них сказал: "Я молюсь, чтобы это не оказалось правдой, так как это принесет лишь неприятности для него и для нас".


What century is it again?

Novaya Gazeta on the Murder Charges

Novaya Gazeta Editor Dmitry Muratov spoke to Interfax after charges were filed in Politkovskaya's murder:

"We believe, as before, that the investigation is on the right track. But one cannot interpret this as an end, or say that the crime has been solved."

However, from this point forward, both Muratov and Novaya Gazeta are going to have a tough time countering the argument that, 'These charges, honored comrades, are a People's victory against the forces of legal nihilism,' etc.

Also quietly missing from the indictment is any mention of Boris Berezovsky. We suppose he didn't have anything to do with the murder after all.

4 Charged with Politkovskaya's Murder

AP: Formal charges were filed Wednesday against 4 men accused in connection with the 2006 killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Russian investigators said. 3 men were charged with involvement in Polikovskaya's murder while an FSB officer from faces charges of extortion and abuse of office. The 4 have been held since their arrests last Aug.

1 suspect, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, is a former police officer. Two others, brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, are from Chechnya. The committee said the charges against the FSB officer, Lt. Col. Pavel Ryaguzov, relate to other crimes. It wasn't immediately clear whether Wednesday's charges were somehow connected to Politkovskya's murder. Authorities previously have accused Ryaguzov of giving Politkovskaya's killers her address.

Russian officials have alleged that Politkovskaya's killing was ordered by someone living outside Russia with the aim of discrediting the Kremlin -- statements that have been interpreted as alluding to Boris Berezovsky. Novaya Gazeta has said the mastermind is likely in Russia.

Jun 17, 2008

Aliyev Doesn't Like Che Guevara?

Being a journalist in the land of Eternal Remont is a dangerous job. It's also prone to some dark irony.

This week, CPJ reports that Emin Huseynov, head of Azerbaijan's Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), was arrested, beaten, and hospitalized after losing consciousness...in police custody.

Huseynov crime? Reporting on the 80th birthday Che Guevara, of course.

While in detention, the local cops didn't take kindly to Huseynov's jail house reporting, via cell phone, of his treatment. So Huseynov was taken to the 'special room,' after which he required hospitalization.

However, the entire affair is clearly a case of misunderstanding, since hospital officials report that Huseynov lost consciousness due to a rare condition called "hyperactive nerves." Apparently, this condition also caused Huseynov's concussion and has now made him incapable of walking unaided.

How odd.

By the way, Freedom House reports that Azerbaijan has become one of the "worst performers" in Eastern Europe for press freedom, behind only Belarus and Russia.

All of this is well and good, but it still doesn’t explain why Aliyev's cops don't like Che Guevara. We can only assume it is his association with pot-smoking liberal arts majors – a known subversive demographic for nepotistic oil states.

Zombie Mayor Re-elected in Romania

I think it's fair to say I am Remont's "Senior Correspondant on Zombie Politicians" (to wit).

Okay, so this one isn't really a zombie either, yahoonews: The residents of a Romanian village knowingly voted in a dead man as their mayor in Sunday's municipal election, preferring him to his living opponent. Neculai Ivascu, 57, who ran the village for almost two decades, died from liver disease just after voting began -- but still won the election by a margin of 23 votes. Said a pro-Ivascu villager:

"I know he died, but I don't want change."

In the end, election authorities gave the post to the runner-up, but some villagers and Ivascu's party, the powerful opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD), have called for a new vote.

Jun 16, 2008

WorldPublicOpinion.org: The World's Opinion of Putin Is Not So High These Days

A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 20 nations finds that none of the national leaders on the world stage inspire wide confidence. While the W is one of the least trusted leaders, no other leader--including China's Hu Jintao and Russia's Vladimir Putin--has gained a broad international base of support.

Putin remains popular inside Russia as he makes the transition from president to prime minister but has not emerged as an attractive world leader. 11 publics have a negative view of Putin while just 5 are positive (including China) and 3 are divided (including Azerbaijan). On average 32% express confidence in Putin--1 of the highest positive ratings--but a larger 48% do not. No region has predominantly positive views on Putin's global leadership.

Putin appears to have become a divisive figure. Although his ratings have improved slightly since a 2007 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, the large positive movement in certain countries--such as China, where Putin's ratings are up 17 points--is balanced by negative movement in others--such as the US, where his ratings are down 21 pts.


Moscow on the Bosphorus

Back in the day, Americas would take the kids to France so they could expierence EuroDisney. Now, oil-rich Russians are the new Americans.

As the NYTimes reports, "One of the most enduring changes in the lives of Russians in recent years has occurred not in Russia itself, but in places like this coastal region of Turkey, where an influx of Russian tourists has given rise to a mini-industry catering to their needs...."

Dried fish and sun tan oil, we assume.

“Nobody believes me when I say this, but the Germans drink even more than the Russians,” said Ali Akgun, a manager at another hotel in the area, the Kemer Holiday Club. “It’s just that the Russians drink a little faster.”

Jun 13, 2008

It's a Sad, Sad Day

The eXile is closing down.

RFE/RL: After 11 yrs of providing Moscow readers with investigative journalism, irreverent commentary, and sophomoric gags, the English-language newspaper the "The eXile" is closing down after investors fled in the face of a government inspection of the paper's content.

The alternative tabloid -- known for its Gonzo-style journalism on drugs, sex, politics, and the seamier side of Moscow nightlife -- announced the closure in a blog posted on its website on June 11.

The paper's demise, and the investors' flight, was sparked by a visit on June 6 by inspectors from the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

The eXile brought us such gems as face control and the happy planet guide to Moscow: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=19059&IBLOCK_ID=35

You will be missed!!!

Jun 9, 2008

Vadim Volkov Gets a Cookie

A decade ago, Vadim Volkov argued that the KGB -- and assorted power ministries -- were rapidly replacing the mafia as the main arbiter of business disputes in Russia. The latest edition of Business Week shows just how far we’ve come. For starters, there’s a pricelist for harassing your competition:

"...[T]he practice is common enough for the Russian press to name the prices corrupt officials allegedly charge for various 'services:' Getting police to open a criminal investigation costs $20,000 to $50,000, an office raid is as much as $30,000, and a favorable court ruling runs anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000."

All of this dovetails nicely with the recent testimony of Senior Federal Arbitration Court Judge Yelena Valyavina, who claimed that the "Kremlin has pressured and threatened the Russian judiciary to secure favorable rulings."

'I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'

Valyavina's testimony stems from a Kremlin libel suit against journalist Vladimir Solovyov. As it happens, Solovyov was foolish enough to claim, "there are no independent judges in Russia." Sure enough, the very same Kremlin official suing Solovyov also threaded Valyavina after she issued an unfavorable ruling against a Kremlin-controlled company.

This is why Russia is the greatest country in the world. Where else would the government sue a journalist for claiming there is no judicial independence, then list as the plaintiff the very same person responsible for intimidating judges.

Bulgaria to Entice Tourists with Erotic Graffiti

The Sofia Weekly had too many this time to choose just one: Erotic graffiti dating back to the Middle Ages have become the greatest attraction for tourists visiting Bulgaria's medieval capital of Preslav. The drawings are on the eastern fortress wall of Preslav, which was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 972. The director of the national archaeological reserve, Alexander Gorchev, said that it is not clear who the author of the drawings was, but scientists suppose authorship belongs to Bulgarian soldiers or workers from the 10th century.

Mr Gorchev added that there is an idea to create an "alley of love and sex" in the fortress in order to further popularise the drawings among tourists. "If we consider the artistry of the drawings, we could say the medieval inhabitants of the old Bulgarian capital had elaborate sex lives," Gorchev also said.

Just Because You Joined the EU...

...doesn't mean you get to eat...or procreate and live long. Lesson learned, Eastern Europe. Lesson learned.

The Sofia Weekly: EUROSTAT research shows Bulgaria ranks first among all member states of the European Union in the percentage growth of food prices. The data shows food prices in the poorest EU member state went up 25% between April 2007 and April 2008. Bulgaria is followed Latvia and Estonia.

Also, according to EUROSTAT, Bulgaria's population dropped 8% in the last 10 yrs, which places the country dead last on population growth. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Hungary, and Croatia also have negative values for population growth, whereas Ireland, Cyprus, and Luxembourg rank 1st. The EU population as a whole rose 3,4%. Ouch...

Jun 6, 2008

Moldova: The 6th Worst Place On Earth...

...if you are a woman.

That's according to Foreign Policy Magazine's new list.

Moldova is a major source country for women trafficked into prostitution....some government officials and police officers have even been complicit in trafficking. But things might be looking up: The first female prime minister took office this year.

Even in it's treatment of women, Moldova can't win for loosing. But for the first time, that's a good thing.

The top five:
1) Haiti
2) Yemen
3) Sierra Leone
4) Nepal
5) Papua New Guinea

We Should Consider Getting In on this Venture

Silly, but it's Friday, so why not?

Jun 5, 2008

Russian Office Rampage

Last week, some fellow in Russia lost it at work. His colleagues obviously thought this was important enough to share with the world.

At first you think, ‘bah -- it’s a fake,’ but that level of hatred for a copy machine can’t be faked.

For everyone who's ever had a rough day at work, we can all be glad it didn't end with a taser.

(Also, someone from the office has been nice enough to provide a second camera angle, this time with sound.)

Bakiyev can't get rid of [US] roommate...

Relations between the US and Kyrgyzstan have been on ice ever since an American serviceman shot Alexander Ivanov -- Kyrgyzstan’s champion knife thrower -- in 2006.

Before you ask, Ivanov did bring a knife to a gun fight -- with predictable results.

Jamestown now reports that, aside from regularly scheduled outbursts of public anti-Americanism, members of Kyrgyzstan’s own intelligence service are convince that the “U.S. might be sponsoring terrorism,” or worse, “[seeks] to establish political control over Central Asia.” Poor intelligence resources and limited exposure to non-Russian news are driving these perceptions, according to Jamestown.

Despite the quiet opinions of his intelligence services, President Bakiyev's key dilemma remains the slowing economy and surging inflation, now up to 25% year-on-year. Meanwhile, Kyrgyz citizens must grapple with sky-rocketing prices for gas & food, as the government imposes new measures to ration electricity.

Ay, there's the rub.

Kyrgyzstan may have grown tired of American troops at the Manas Airport, but the government relies upon rent from the US to pay the bills. So for now, the uncomfortable roommate situation remains.

Gorbachev Fears Zombie Lenin

Well not really, yahoonews: The embalmed body of Lenin should be moved from Red Square and buried, Gorbachev said on Wednesday. Lenin died on January 21, 1924 and despite the pleas of relatives, his body was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum on Red Square in the shadow of the Kremlin walls. His body is still on public display. Opponents say the ghosts of the USSR should be put to rest and that Lenin, an atheist known by his patronymic, Ilych, be given a proper burial.

"My view is as follows -- we should not be occupied right now with grave digging. But we will necessarily come to a time when the mausoleum will have lost its meaning and we will bury Ilych, give him up to the earth as his family had wanted," Gorbachev told reporters. "I think the time will come ... it will happen."

Jun 4, 2008

Real Headline: "Another drunk baby born in Poland"

Another one? This is a trend, now?

According to Polskieradio: "A 25-year-old heavily intoxicated woman has given birth to a baby in a hospital in Trzebnica, south-west Poland. The amount of alcohol in the newborn's blood was 4 times the legal limit, and 5 times the legal limit in its mother's blood."

For the record, the legal blood alcohol limit in Poland is a draconian .02, and that's just for driving. Nobody said anything about child birth. What's more, 4x the legal limit in Poland translates to a measly .08, or the minimum level for Nick Nolte to function properly.

Since the newborn is clearly not going to be driving home from the hospital, lets hold off calling this woman a "bad mother."

Jun 3, 2008

What's Old Is -- Yeah, It's New Again

The NYTimes has a mildly disturbing article on the Kremlin's new plan to mute public dissent: digitally erase political critics from television.

"Not only were his remarks cut — he was also digitally erased from the show, like a disgraced comrade airbrushed from an old Soviet photo."

President Aliyev's "New Jobs"

Life for President Aliyev jr. has been going pretty well.

For starters, Azerbaijan announced that oil exports for January – April were up 37.8%. This prompted Aliyev to boast of a 20% increase in total oil production for 2008.

What's more, the inflow of oil riches allowed the government to claim it created a whopping 650,000 new jobs last year -- a key part of Aliyev's re-election campaign.

Unfortunately for the government, its own numbers don’t add up.

As Eurasianet notes, over the last five years, “only 154,000 individuals have been registered to pay into the social insurance system.” So someone has been lying.

"If there are so many new jobs, why don’t they increase my retirement pension?" said one retieree.

Back at the Ministry of Economic Development, Spokesperson Abbas Aliyev (relation?) claims that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation: “A certain number of employed people conceal their employment to avoid paying social insurance fees."

Well, at least 496,000 certain someones. Azeris, it seems, don't take kindly to paying their taxes. Why should they? Oil is $125-ish and the government will just pump more. It's worked thus far, how could the scheme fail?

Jun 2, 2008

Bulgarian City Rules on the Armenian Genocide

...and brilliantly avoids the word "Turkey".

Sofia Weekly: The District Administrative Court in Bulgaria's Danube city of Ruse rejected Friday the appeals against the declaration of the City Council recognizing the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. The appeals were tabled to the Court by the Ruse District Governor Mariya Dimova, and by city counselors from the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms party. The Court ruling states that the declaration recognizing the genocide over Armenians and Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire could not be disputed because it was not an administrative act, it was only declarative, and had no legal consequences. The declaration recognizing the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1922 was adopted by the Ruse City Council on April 17.

Macedonia Tries to Vote

Macedonia tried to hold a parliamentary election over the weekend. The operateive word here is tried.

After the dust settled, incumbent Nikola Gruevski and his "Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for National Unity" claimed victory in a 48% - 22% drubbing of the opposition Social Democratic Party.

Unfortunately, violence and vote tampering were the big themes of the day, as international election monitors had to withdraw from at least 30 locations due to gunfire and violence at the polls.

In most countries, voters bring their registration cards to vote. In parts of Macedonia, they bring guns.

As RFE/RL reports, "One man was killed and nine wounded in violence among ethnic Albanians on election day. Gunfire halted voting in one town. Ballot boxes went missing. Two election officials were held briefly by gunmen before being freed unharmed by police."

Meanwhle, British MP Denis McShane --who was on hand to observe this goat rodeo for the Council of Europe -- didn’t have many nice things to say: ”Very clearly, this election needs to be re-run, in whole or in part, under much stricter supervision.”

Next stop: NATO.