Posts Tagged ‘Hague’

Libya is in danger of turning into a Carry On film

17/04/2011, 10:46:28 AM

by Dan McCurry

David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy have adopted their very own belligerent Arab city, along with several belligerent Arab towns. In total, the entire population of eastern Libya. Whether they like it or not, if they walk away from the situation now, they will be responsible for every act of the regime’s retribution, every arrest made and every life taken.

For Britain and France, to walk away now would be the equivalent of a parent who refuses their baby food, or a doctor refusing their patient treatment. When a politician starts a war, they are responsible for those on the ground who will suffer the consequences of the military action.

If this were a movie, the tragic-comic premise would be the central characters stuck in a situation of their own making. Unable to negotiate a truce between Tripoli and Benghazi, and unwilling to lose face, their only option is to carry on bombing. Perhaps Sid James would play Sarkozy and Hattie Jakes would play Cameron as Matron.

They are publicly angered with the Nato partners who have not been pulling their weight. It is not the provision of jets that is at the forefront of their concerns, but the laying off of responsibilities, the sharing of the burden and the consequent reduction of their own embarrassment.

Cameron and Sarkozy are telling everyone that, “we’re all in this together”, while desperately trying to play down who led the way in this inadvisable adventure. They want Italy to share the blame of a war gone wrong. (more…)

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Chris Bryant reports from the Khodorkovsky trial

24/09/2010, 09:58:59 AM

Russia can often seem surreal. Layer upon layer of history. Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Lenin, Stalin, Yeltsin – and now Putin/Medvedev.

For all the oligarchic bling in all the shops, the red stars on the top of the Kremlin towers suggest Communism is still alive and the very walls of the fortress themselves seem to invite kremlinology. Who really pulls the strings? Is it the President, Medvedev, who is organising the probably accurate smearing of the Moscow mayor, which has dominated the state-run media for the last two weeks? Or is it Putin? And why are they doing it now, when mayor Luzkhov’s term runs out soon and he is barred from standing again? All too often, the labyrinthine political chicanery and the extraordinarily tight circle of the very well-heeled elite reminds one of communism, but without the ideology.

At the heart of the parabola of surrealism lies the legal system. Torture is endemic according to Amnesty International. Many prisons would be better termed ‘penal colonies’ or indeed ‘gulags’. Thousands are infected with HIV and have little or no medical care. And the criminal justice system is regularly used to settle political scores.

I went to see one such case this Monday.  The courtroom, on the third floor of a tired Moscow building, was tiny, panelled with cheap varnished plywood, its parquet flooring scuffed by decades of rearrangements of the furniture. At the front, a dais with the double-headed Romanov eagle and the flag of the Russian Federation limply hanging from a thumb tack and a piece of sellotape. To the left a sort of tank, made of reinforced glass and chunky steel, in which stood the two defendants, Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.


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