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THE TRUTH RESIDES IN SYRIA


TERRORIST TURKS, DOUBLE-FACED ARABS, MURDEROUS AMERICANS, 

HYPOCRITES EVERYWHERE

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A call for a collective confrontation against terrorism. 

By Walid al-Moallem - Syrian Foreign Minister
23 January 2014



Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Syrian Arab Republic, SYRIAN – steeped in history for seven thousand years. ARAB – proud of its steadfast pan-Arab heritage despite the deliberate acts of aggression of supposed brotherly Arabs. REPUBLIC – a civil state that some, sitting in this room, have tried to return to medieval times. Never have I been in a more difficult position; my delegation and I carry the weight of three years of hardship endured by my fellow countrymen - the blood of our martyrs, the tears of our bereaved, the anguish of families waiting for news of a loved one - kidnapped or missing, the cries of our children whose tender fingers were the targets of mortar shelling into their classrooms, the hopes of an entire generation destroyed before their very eyes, the courage of mothers and fathers who have sent all their sons to defend our country, the heartbreak of families whose homes have been destroyed and are now displaced or refugees.

Al-Moallem: My delegation and I carry the hope of a nation for the years to come

My delegation and I also carry the hope of a nation for the years to come – the right of every child to safely go to school again, the right of women to leave their homes without fear of being kidnapped, killed or raped; the dream of our youth to fulfill their vast potential; the return of security so that every man can leave his family safe in the knowledge that he will return.

Finally, today, the moment of truth; the truth that many have systematically tried to bury in a series of campaigns of misinformation, deception and fabrication leading to killing and terror. A truth that refused to be buried, a truth clear for all to see – the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic representing the Syrian people, the government, the state, the Army and the President - Bashar al-Assad.

It is regrettable that seated amongst us are representatives of countries that have the blood of Syrians on their hands

It is regrettable, Ladies and Gentlemen, that seated amongst us today in this room, are representatives of countries that have the blood of Syrians on their hands, countries that have exported terrorism along with clemency for the perpetrators, as if it was their God given right to determine who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. Countries that have prevented believers from visiting holy places of worship whilst abetting, financing and supporting terrorists. Countries that gave themselves the authority to grant and deny legitimacy to others as they saw fit, never looking at their own archaic glasshouses before throwing stones at acclaimed fortified towers. Countries that shamelessly lecture us in democracy, in development and in progress whilst drowning in their own ignorance and medieval norms. Countries that have become accustomed to being entirely owned by kings and princes who have the sole right to distribute their national wealth granting their associates whilst denying those who fall out of favor.

They lectured Syria – a distinguished, virtuous, sovereign state, they lectured her on honour whilst they themselves were immersed in the mud of enslavement, infanticide and other medieval practices. After all their efforts and subsequent failures, their masks fell from their quivering faces, to reveal their perverse ambitions. A desire to destabilize and destroy Syria by exporting their national product: terrorism. They used their petrodollars to buy weapons, recruit mercenaries and saturate airtime covering up their mindless brutality with lies under the guise of the so-called “ Syrian revolution that will fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, how is what has happened and continues to plague Syria, meeting these aspirations? How can a Chechen, Afghani, Saudi, Turkish or even French and English terrorists deliver on the aspirations of the Syrian people, and with what? An Islamic state that knows nothing of Islam except perverse Wahhabism? Who declared anyway that the Syrian people aspire to live thousands of years in the past?

In Syria, the wombs of pregnant women are butchered and their fetuses killed

In Syria, Ladies and Gentlemen, the wombs of pregnant women are butchered and their fetuses killed; women are raped, dead or alive, in practices so heinous, so vile and repulsive that they can only be attributed to their perverse doctrine. In Syria, Ladies and Gentlemen, men are slaughtered in front of their children in the name of this revolution; worse still, this is done whilst the children of these foreign perpetrators sing and dance. In Syria, how can so-called revolutionaries cannibalize a man’s heart and claim to promote freedom, democracy and a better life?

Under the pretext of the “Great Syrian Revolution,” civilians, clergymen, women and children are killed, victims are indiscriminately blown up in streets and buildings regardless of their political views or ideologies; books and libraries are burned, graves are dug up and artifacts stolen. In the name of the revolution, children are killed in their schools and students in their universities, women are extorted in the name of jihad al-nikah and other forms, mosques are shelled whilst worshipers kneel at prayer, heads are severed and hung in the streets, people are burned alive in a true holocaust that history and many countries will deny without being accused of anti-Semitism.

In the name of a revolution, “to free the oppressed Syrian people from the regime and to spread democracy,” does a father blow himself up with his wife and children to prevent foreign intruders from entering his home? Most of us in this room are fathers - I ask you then, what would compel a man to kill his own family to protect them from freedom fighting monsters. This is what happened in Adra, a place that most of you have not heard of but where the same alien monsters attacked: killing, looting, beheading, slaughtering, raping and burning people alive. You have heard nothing of this brutality for sure, yet you have heard of other places where the same heinous crimes were committed and where the same blood soaked finger was pointed at the Syrian Army and government. And when these flagrant lies were no longer credible, they stopped spinning their web of deceit.

This is what their masters ordered them to do, these countries that spearheaded the war against Syria, trying to increase their influence in the region with bribes and money, exporting human monsters fully soaked in abhorrent Wahabi ideology, all at the expense of Syrian blood. From this stage, loud and clear, you know as well as I do that they will not stop in Syria, even if some sitting in this room refuse to acknowledge or consider themselves immune.

Ladies and Gentlemen, everything you have heard would not have been possible, had our border sharing countries been good neighbours during these challenging years. Unfortunately they were far from it; with backstabbers to the North, silent bystanders to the truth in the West, a weak South accustomed to doing the bidding of others, or the tired and exhausted East still reeling from the plots to destroy it along with Syria.

Misery and destruction, which has engulfed Syria, has been made possible by the decision of Erdogan’s government

Indeed, this misery and destruction, which has engulfed Syria, has been made possible by the decision of Erdogan’s government to invite and host these criminal terrorists before they entered into Syria. Clearly, oblivious to the fact that magic eventually turns on the magician, it is now beginning to taste the sour seed it has sown. For terrorism knows no religion, and is loyal only unto itself. Erdogan’s government has recklessly morphed from a zero problems with its neighbours policy to zero foreign policy and international diplomacy altogether, crucially leaving it with zero credibility.

Nevertheless, it continued on the same atrocious path falsely believing that the dream of Sayyid Qutb and Mohammad Abdel Wahab before him was finally being realized. They wreaked havoc from Tunisia, to Libya, to Egypt and then to Syria, determined to achieve an illusion that only exists in their sick minds. Despite the fact that it has proven to be a failure, they nevertheless are still determined to pursue it. Logically speaking, this can only be described as stupidity, because if you don’t learn from history, you will lose sight of the present; and history tells us: if your neighbor's house is on fire, it is impossible for you to remain safe.

Some neighbours started fires within Syria whilst others recruited terrorists from around the globe – and here we are confronted with shockingly farcical double standards: 83 nationalities are fighting in Syria - nobody denounces this, nobody condemns it, nobody reconsiders their position - and they impertinently continue to call it a glorious SYRIAN Revolution! While when a few scores of young resistant fighters supported the Syrian Army in a few places, all hell broke loose and it suddenly became foreign intervention! Demands were made for the departure of foreign troops and the protection of Syrian sovereignty and for it not to be violated. Here I affirm, Syria - the sovereign and independent state, will continue to do whatever it takes to defend herself with whatever means it deems necessary, without paying the least bit of attention to any uproar, denunciations, statements or positions expressed by others. These have been and always will be Syria’s sovereign decisions.

They imposed sanctions on our food, our bread and our children’s milk

Despite all of this, the Syrian people remained steadfast; and the response was to impose sanctions on our food, our bread and our children’s milk. To starve the population, pushing them into sickness and death under the injustice of these sanctions. At the same time, factories were looted and burned, crippling our food and pharmaceutical industries; hospitals and healthcare centers were destroyed; our railroads and electricity lines sabotaged, and even our places of worship - Christian and Muslim – were not spared their terrorism.

When all of this failed, America threatened to strike Syria, fabricating with her allies, Western and Arab, the story about the use of chemical weapons, which failed to convince even their own public, let alone ours. Countries that celebrate democracy, freedom and human rights regrettably only choose to speak the language of blood, war, colonialism and hegemony. Democracy is imposed with fire, freedom with warplanes and human rights by human killing, because they have become accustomed to the world doing their bidding: if they want something, it will happen; if they don’t, it won’t. They have heedlessly forgotten that the perpetrators who blew themselves up in New York follow the same doctrine and come from the same source as those blowing themselves up in Syria. They have heedlessly forgotten that the terrorist that was in America yesterday is in Syria today, and who knows where he will be tomorrow. What is certain, however, is that he will not stop here. Afghanistan is an ideal lesson for anyone who wants to learn – anyone! Unfortunately, most do not want to learn; neither America nor some of the ‘civilized’ western countries that follow its lead, starting from the city of lights to the kingdom over which “the sun never set,” in the past; despite the fact that they have all felt the bitter taste of terrorism in the past.

And then suddenly they became “Friends of Syria.” Four of these ‘friends’ are autocratic, oppressive monarchies that know nothing of a civil state or democracy, whilst others are the same colonial powers which occupied, pillaged and partitioned Syria less than one hundred years ago. These so called ‘friends’ are now convening conferences to publicly declare their friendship with the Syrian people, whilst covertly facilitating their hardship and destroying their livelihoods. They openly express their outrage over the humanitarian plight of Syrians whilst deceiving the international community of their complicity. If you were truly concerned about the humanitarian situation in Syria, you would remove your strangle hold on her economy by lifting the sanctions and the embargo, and by partnering with her government in tightening security by fighting the influx of weapons and terrorists. Only then can we assure you that we will be well as we once were, without your deep concern for our wellbeing.

Some of you may be asking yourselves: Are foreigners the sole manufacturers of the happenings in Syria? No Ladies and Gentlemen, Syrians amongst us here, having been legitimized by foreign agendas, have played a contributing role as facilitators and implementers. They did this at the expense of Syrian blood and the people whose aspirations they claim to represent, whilst they themselves were divided hundreds of times and their leaders on the ground were fleeing far and wide. They sold themselves to Israel becoming her eyes on the ground, and her fingers on the trigger for Syria’s destruction; and when they failed, Israel intervened directly to reduce the capabilities of the Syrian Army and thus ensuring the continued implementation of her decades old plan for Syria.

Our people were being slaughtered while opposition figures legitimized by foreign agendas were living in five star hotels

Our people were being slaughtered while they were living in five star hotels; they opposed from abroad, met abroad betraying Syria and selling themselves to the highest foreign bidder. And yet, they still claim to speak in the name of the Syrian people! No, Ladies and Gentlemen, anyone wishing to speak on behalf of the Syrian people cannot be a traitor to their cause and an agent for their enemies. Those wishing to speak on behalf of the people of Syria should do so from within her borders: living in her destroyed houses, sending their children to her schools in the morning not knowing if they will return safe from mortar shelling, tolerating the freezing cold winters because of the shortage in heating oil and queuing for hours to buy bread for their families because sanctions have prevented us from importing wheat when we were once exporters. Anyone wanting to speak in the name of the Syrian people should first endure three years of terrorism, confronting it head on, and then come here and speak on behalf of the Syrian people.

Syrian has welcomed hundreds of international journalists and facilitated their mobility

Ladies and gentlemen,

the Syrian Arab Republic – people and state, has fulfilled its duties. It has welcomed hundreds of international journalists and facilitated their mobility, security and access; and they in turn have reflected the stark and horrific realities they witnessed to their audiences, realities that have perplexed many Western media organizations who couldn’t bear their propaganda and narrative being exposed and contradicted. The examples are too many to count. We allowed international aid and relief organizations into the country, but the clandestine agents of certain parties sitting here, obstructed them from reaching those in dire need of aid. They came under terrorist attack several times, whilst we, as a state, did our duty in protecting them and facilitating their work. We issued numerous amnesties and released thousands of prisoners, some even members of armed groups, at the anger and dismay of their victim’s families; these families though, like the rest of us, ultimately accepted that Syria’s interests come before anything else, and hence we must conceal our wounds and rise above hatred and rancor.

What have you done, you who claim to speak on behalf of the Syrian people. Where is your vision for this great country? Where are your ideas or your political manifesto? Who are your agents of change on the ground other than your armed criminal gangs? I am certain that you have nothing and this is only too apparent in the areas that your mercenaries have occupied or to use your words “liberated.”

In these areas, have you freed the population or have you hijacked their moderate culture to enforce your radical and oppressive practices? Have you implemented your development agenda by building schools and health centers? No, you have destroyed them and allowed polio to return after it had previously been eradicated in Syria. Have you protected Syria’s artifacts and museums? No, you have looted our national sites for your personal profit. Have you demonstrated your commitment to justice and human rights? No, you have enforced public executions and beheadings. In short, you have done nothing at all except muster the disgrace and shame of begging America to strike Syria. Even the opposition, over which you are the self-appointed masters and guardians, do not acknowledge you or the methods in which you manage your own affairs, let alone the affairs of a country.

A country they want to homogenize; not in the sectarian, ethnic or religious sense, but rather in a warped ideological sense. Anyone against them, whether Christian or Muslim, is an infidel; they killed Muslims of all sects and targeted Syrian Christians with severity. Even nuns and bishops were targeted, kidnapping them after they attacked Ma’loula, the last community that still speaks the language of Jesus Christ. They did all this to force Syrian Christians to flee their country. But little did they know, that in Syria we are one. When Christianity is attacked all Syrians are Christians, when mosques are targeted all Syrians are Muslims. Every Syrian is from Raqqa, Lattakia, Sweida, Homs or the bleeding Aleppo when any one of these places is targeted. Their abhorrent attempts to sow sectarian and religious sedition will never be embraced by any levelheaded Syrian. In short, Ladies and Gentlemen, your “glorious Syrian revolution” has left no mortal sin uncommitted.

There is another side to this dark gloomy picture. A light at the end of the tunnel shinning through the Syrian people’s determination and steadfastness, the Syrian Army’s courage in protecting our citizens and the Syrian state’s resilience and perseverance. During everything that has happened, there are states that have shown us true friendship, honest states that stood on the side of right against wrong, even when the wrong was clear for all to see. On behalf of the Syrian people and state, I would like to thank Russia and China for respecting Syria’s sovereignty and independence. Russia has been a true champion on the international stage strongly defending, not only with words but also with deeds, the founding principles of the United Nations of respecting the sovereignty of states. Similarly China, the BRICS countries, Iran, Iraq and other Arab and Muslim countries, in addition to African and Latin American countries, have also genuinely safeguarded the aspirations of the Syrian people and not the ambitions of other governments for Syria.

The Syrian people, like other people of the region, aspire to more freedom, justice and human rights

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Syrian people, like other people of the region, aspire to more freedom, justice and human rights; they aspire to more plurality and democracy, to a better Syria, a safe, prosperous and healthy Syria. They aspire to building strong institutions not destroying them, to safeguarding our national artifacts and heritage sites not looting and demolishing them. They aspire to a strong national army, which protects our honour, our people and our national wealth, an army that defends Syria’s borders, her sovereignty and independence. They do not, Ladies and Gentlemen, aspire to a mercenary army ‘Free’ to kidnap civilians for ransom or to use them as human shields, ‘Free’ to steal humanitarian aid, extort the poor and illegally trade in the organs of living women and children, ‘Free’ to canibalise human hearts and livers, barbequing heads, recruiting child soldiers and raping women. All of this is done with the might of arms; arms provided by countries, represented here, who claim to be championing “moderate groups”. Tell us, for God’s sake, where is the moderation in everything I have described?

Where are these vague moderate groups that you are hiding behind? Are they the same old groups that continue to be supported militarily and publicly by the West, that have undergone an even uglier face-lift in the hope of convincing us that they are fighting terrorism? We all know that no matter how hard their propaganda machine tries to polish their image under the name of moderation, their extremism and terrorism is one and the same. They know, as we all do, that under the pretext of supporting these groups, al-Qaeda and its affiliates are being armed in Syria, Iraq and other countries in the region.

This is the reality, Ladies and Gentlemen, so wake up to the undeniable reality that the West is supporting some Arab countries to supply lethal weapons to al-Qaeda. The West publically claims to be fighting terrorism, whilst in fact it is covertly nourishing it. Anyone who cannot see this truth is either ignorantly blind or willfully so in order to finish what they have begun.

Is this the Syria that you want? The loss of thousands of martyrs and our once cherished safety and national security replaced with apocalyptic devastation. Are these the aspirations of the Syrian people that you wanted to fulfill? No, Ladies and Gentlemen, Syria will not remain so, and that is why we are here. Despite all that has been done by some, we have come to save Syria: to stop the beheadings, to stop the cannibalizing and the butchering. We have come to help mothers and children return to the homes they were driven out of by terrorists. We have come to protect the civil and open-minded nature of the state, to stop the march of the Tatars and the Mongols across our region. We have come to prevent the collapse of the entire Middle East, to protect civilization, culture and diversity, and to preserve the dialogue of civilizations in the birthplace of religions. We have come to protect tolerant Islam that has been distorted, and to protect the Christians of the Levant. We are here to tell our Syrian expatriates, to return to their home country because they will always be foreigners anywhere else, and regardless of our differences we are all still brothers and sisters.

We have come to stop terrorism as other countries that have experienced its bitter taste have done, whilst affirming loudly and consistently that a dialogue between Syrians is the only solution; but as with other countries that have been struck by terrorism, we have a constitutional duty to defend our citizens and we shall continue to strike terrorism that attacks Syrians regardless of their political affiliations. We have come to hold those accountable, for as long as particular countries continue to support terrorism, this conference will bear no fruit. Political pluralism and terrorism cannot coexist in the same landscape. Politics can only prosper by fighting terrorism; it cannot grow in its shadow.

We are here as representatives of the Syrian people and the state; but let it be clear to all, – and experience is the best proof – that nobody has the authority to grant or withdraw legitimacy from a president, a government, a constitution, a law or anything else in Syria except Syrians themselves; this is their constitutional right and duty. Therefore, whatever agreement is reached here will be subject to a national referendum. We are tasked with conveying our people’s desires, not with determining their destiny; those who want to listen to the will of the Syrian people should not appoint themselves as their spokesperson. Syrians alone have the right to choose their government, their parliament and their constitution; everything else is just talk and has no significance.

Finally, to all those here and everyone watching around the world: in Syria we are fighting terrorism, terrorism which has destroyed and continues to destroy; terrorism which since the 1980’s Syria has been calling, on deaf ears, for a unified front to defeat it. Terrorism has struck in America, France, Britain, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan; the list goes on and it continues to spread. Let us all cooperate to fight it, let’s work hand in hand to stop its black, horrifying and obscurantist ideology. Then, let us as Syrians stand united to focus on Syria and start rebuilding its social fabric and material structures. As I said, dialogue is the foundation to this process, and despite our gratitude to the host country, we affirm that the real dialogue between Syrians should in fact be on Syrian soil and under Syrian skies. Exactly one year ago, the Syrian government put forward its vision for a political solution; think of how much innocent blood we would have saved had some countries resorted to reason instead of terrorism and destruction. For a whole year, we have been calling for dialogue, but terrorism continued to strike at the Syrian state, her people and institutions.

Today, in this gathering of Arab and Western powers, we are presented with a simple choice: we can choose to fight terrorism and extremism together and to start a new political process, or you can continue to support terrorism in Syria. Let us reject and isolate the black hands and the false faces, which publicly smile but covertly feed terrorist ideology, striking Syria today, but ultimately spreading to infect us all. This is the moment of truth and destiny; let us rise to the challenge.

Thank you .


Walid al-Moallem

Syrian Foreign Minister
23 January 2014

SYRIA, Al-Jaafari: Amos report incomplete and lacks credible information

Mar 28, 2014




Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said that the report submitted by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos on the application of resolution no.2139 on humanitarian affairs is incomplete and lacks credible information.

In a press conference held on Friday in New York following a Security Council closed session to discuss Amos's report, al-Jaafari said that the report in question ignores the armed terrorist groups' hindering of humanitarian aid delivery to various area or them opening fire on aid convoys, like what happened in Yarmouk Camp in Damascus.

He said the report also ignores the fact that these terrorist groups continue to besiege some civilian areas and deprive them of essentials, and that they occupy hospitals and turn them into bases for military operations, torture and executions.

Al-Jaafari said that Amos's report, though better than previous report, failed to mention massacres committed by terrorist, such as the massacre of Adra workers city, nor does it mention the hundreds of innocent civilians, some of them women and children, who were abducted nearly a year in Lattakia's northern countryside and whom nobody talks about.

He also noted that the report did not mention the need to deal with the crisis in Syria politically, not just deal with the humanitarian aspect, because humanitarian issues cannot be resolved without addressing the political aspect represented by foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs, and supporting terrorists and sending them from around the world under Turkish-Qatari-Saudi-Israeli intelligence support.

Syria's Permanent Representative pointed out that the Syrian government established a joint committee for cooperating with relevant UN resolutions and coordinate efforts to implement resolution no.2139, yet Amos neglected to mention in her reports any of the achievements made in this regard, including the opening of the Nasibin crossing point on the borders with Turkey to admit 68 trucks so far carrying humanitarian aid to northern Syria, the opening of 5 new UN offices, and providing 400 visas for people working with UN and humanitarian aid organizations, noting that these organizations number over 80 added to 173 national NGOs.

"The fact that the report and some members of the General Secretariat and the Security Council refrain from acknowledging facts on the ground is a bad sign that doesn't help improve the situation. If they actually want to implement resolution no.2139, they have to deal with the Syrian government, not with terrorist groups," he said.

Al-Jaafari said that the General Secretariat and some Security Council members don't want to hear the truth because some of them are deeply involved in escalating terrorism in Syria, and three years into the crisis, they continue to refuse to acknowledge the presence of thousands of terrorists operating in Syria and are allowed to do so because of the massive resources made available to them by Arab and foreign intelligence agencies, not because the Syrian government can't handle them.

He stressed that the British representative at the UN doesn't want to acknowledge facts or achievement made via cooperation between the Syrian government and UN organizations, and he denied the presence of terrorists and was content to describe them as "opposition."

Syria's Permanent Representative said that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey directly supports terrorist groups in Syria, interferes in Syria's internal affairs, and escalates terrorism in it, noting that the leaked voice recording of a meeting between senior Turkish officials on fabricating excuses for the aggression on Syria constitutes a major scandal, and the UN must deal with these facts which violate its resolutions in order to understand the reality of what is happening.

He called upon the Security Council to hold the Turkish government responsible for escalating terrorism in Syria, infringing blatantly upon the sovereignty of a UN member state, and allowing terrorists to attack this state from Turkish territories, saying that some sides' attempts to doubt the authenticity of the recording in question are laughable.

"The Turkish government has been carrying out an aggression against Syria since the beginning of the crisis. The Turkish ambassador at the UN, who used to say before that what we present isn't worthy of a response, must comment along with his government on this huge scandal which was published by the Turkish media, if he actually has the bravery to respond," al-Jaafari said.

He asserted that what happened in Kasab was a crime against Syrian civilians, some of them Armenians who fled Ottoman massacres in the 1920s and today face a similar massacre at the hands of the Ottomans' descendants who used their tanks and artillery to cover Chechen, Saudi, Afghan, Tunisian and other terrorists supported by the dirty money of Qatari-Saudi petroleum to wage their aggression on Kasab.

Al-Jaafari said that Erdogan supported this attack because he fears losing the upcoming elections, so he sought to open an imaginary front and sacrifice the blood of innocent Syrians in Kasab and elsewhere to distract Turkish public opinion from the accumulating mistakes he makes inside Turkey, asserting that this is a double crime that violates Syria's sovereignty and increases violence on one side and manipulates the interests of the Turkish people on the other side.
(SANA) 

SOURCE | http://sana.sy/eng/21/2014/03/28/535870.htm

Post by Tim Anderson

Suffering continues in Syria 3 years on

By John Wight - Published time: March 14, 2014



While the world’s attention has been focused on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the conflict in Syria has continued unabated, and with it the suffering of the Syrian people.

With the third anniversary of the conflict now upon us, it is appropriate to consider where we are and to look at what the future holds for this nation of 23 million people who’ve seen their country ripped apart in the course of one of the most protracted and brutal civil conflicts since World War II.

When historians consider this war in years to come, they will only be able to do so accurately if they factor in its specific regional and historical geopolitical context. In this regard they will note how Syria has existed in the crosshairs of the West since 9/11 as a pole of opposition to Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s objective of regional and geopolitical hegemony, predicated of course as a struggle against terrorism.

Here the sentiments of US academic and political commentator, Noam Chomsky, are apposite: “If you wish to end terrorism, stop participating in it.”

The mass uprising swept through the Middle East, beginning in Tunisia in late 2010 after a poor street vendor by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in protest at being denied the right to scrape a living selling cheap produce in the street by a corrupt and bullying local police officer.

The momentum of what came to be known as the Arab Spring arrived in Syria in 2011 and it was expected to just sweep aside yet another ‘unpopular’ Arab government. Pro-Western commentators and voices were verily rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of Bashar al-Assad’s regime going the same way as Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi’s in Libya before it.

Three years on and those same commentators and voices are vocal in their condemnation of the West’s failure to intervene militarily in order to topple the Syrian government. This mindset is a consequence of a blinkered approach to the region, in which its people are reduced to pawns in a geopolitical version of a John Wayne movie, pitting the civilized West against a barbaric enemy standing in the way of progress.

In the real world, however, it is the West which represents barbarism. The record in this regard doesn’t lie. The devastation visited on the Iraqi people, for example, alone qualifies as one of the most brutal crimes against humanity ever witnessed, compounded by the years of punitive sanctions that went before the 2003 invasion and occupation. To date, millions of Iraqis have been killed, maimed, displaced, or seen their lives reduced to a living hell. The sectarian fissures within the country have burst asunder, with no sign of any let up in the regular diet of sickening violence the world has become desensitized to.

Libya is another country on the charge sheet when it comes to the West’s role in the region. This is where the Arab Spring ran out of momentum and where the West, willfully abusing a UN resolution, intervened with the objective not of protecting civilians, as the lie went, but with effecting regime change. In the name of democracy Muammar Gaddafi was slaughtered by a mob and Libya is now a country where chaos and lawlessness reigns.

The aforementioned examples of the West’s role in the chaos to engulf the Arab world leave us in no doubt of the stakes involved when it comes to the conflict in Syria. The nature of this war, in which atrocities are being committed on a near industrial scale, reflects those stakes. With 120,000 people dead and over 9 million displaced - over 2 million of whom have crossed Syria’s borders seeking sanctuary - there appears no end in sight.

The lack of progress in trying to arrive at a political solution at the Geneva II, which broke down in February, was no surprise. With an opposition that is hopelessly fractured and lacks cohesion, and with the West supporting that fractured opposition’s unreasonable and ludicrous demand for Assad to step down as a precondition of any negotiated settlement, once again we see that the words‘serious’ and ‘diplomacy’ have no place in the same sentence where the West is concerned.



Meanwhile, in Syria itself, an invasion of the country by thousands of Sunni fundamentalists, which includes hundreds of British jihadists, rubbishes any lingering claim that Syria without Assad would be a shining beacon of democracy and human rights. Some of the most heinous and savage acts of brutality imaginable have and continue to be committed in service to a medieval ideology that seeks to turn the country into a graveyard for minorities – both Muslim and non-Muslim - leaving no doubt that the Syrian government is pitted in a struggle to prevent Syria descending into the same abyss as Iraq and Libya before it.

The consequences for the Syrian people and people throughout the region if barbarism is allowed to prevail do not bear thinking about. The West, in its support for the country’s destabilization, has blood on its hands.

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Author, John Wight is a writer and commentator specializing in geopolitics, UK domestic politics, culture and sport.


Al-Akhbar's Unchanging Stances


By: Ibrahim al-Amin  | Published Friday, March 14, 2014

In the past couple of days Al-Akhbar has received a barrage of criticisms accompanied by a good amount of insults from people who strongly protested our decision to postpone publishing French documents that prove that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman had illegally forged French passports when he was chief of the armed forces.

Of course, these people have the right to say what they did but they also have the right to understand the context in which we took this decision. It is also their right to express their skepticism of any stance we take on any future issues.

But it is useful to openly discuss our current situation, including developments like the decision by the public prosecutor [on Wednesday] to send Al-Akhbar’s articles about Suleiman and Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to the Court of Publications. And the head of the court, Judge Roukoz Rizk, rushing to set the first court date in less than a month.

It is not important to explain the circumstances that led the public prosecution to take this decision and whether Rifi was upset because the case was referred to the Court of Publications instead of a criminal court. It is not important now to explain the details of a lot of the contacts made between political figures within the state and relevant parties within the judiciary about this issue. But it is necessary, in light of what went on, to say the following:

First, Al-Akhbar strongly adheres to its position not to appear before the current Court of Publications and confirms the motion by legal representative, attorney Nizar Saghieh, requesting that the current court staff step down.

Second, between now and the date of the hearing, Al-Akhbar will publish a set of official documents that prove the charges included in the articles that have been referred to the court against Suleiman, Rifi, and others whose involvement in illegal activities will be exposed.

Third, Al-Akhbar expects the judicial authorities to fully investigate the official documents that will be published. If judicial authorities fail to act in this case, under the pretext of political immunity, then we will consider this a violation of public duty, which will release us of our commitment to appear before any judicial body. We will not respond to any request to appear before any judicial body with prior preparation to endure the results of this decision, whatever the cost may be.

Fourth, Al-Akhbar’s attempt to give judicial authorities the chance to take practical steps to correct these problems and announce the court’s refusal to succumb to the dictates of political power failed. Nothing of the pledge made to the newspaper was fulfilled, even if it was an informal and undocumented pledge.

Fifth, Al-Akhbar will continue in its initiative to organize a joint effort between the media and legal groups aimed at regulating the media’s relationship with the judicial system and no other authority. Al-Akhbar strongly supports the initiative launched by organizations such as the Legal Agenda and Maharat to reach a formula that would regulate the relationship between the media and the judiciary in a way that would protect both people’s rights and public freedoms. We will support every action that would lead to this result.

Sixth, Al-Akhbar did not and will not strike a deal, neither with the public prosecutor nor with the political, security and judicial authorities irrespective of their positions and influence. And Al-Akhbar will not refrain from publishing everything it decides the public should know. The decision to postpone publishing the Suleiman documents did not at any time come as a result of a deal and it will not in the future.

Republishing does not mean that we did not receive certain requests. All it means is an honest attempt requested by a judicial figure for the sake of interests that supersede everyone else’s. Even though we did not think the attempt would succeed, we preferred - and we still do - the victory of the law over any other benefit for us as a newspaper or in the press. But that same judicial figure informed us that his attempt is hopeless and that he releases himself from his commitments and releases us from any further action.

Seventh, Al-Akhbar’s critical position towards Suleiman has nothing to do with the political disagreement between the president and any political party, especially Hezbollah. For those who care to remember, they can search Al-Akhbar's free online archive. They will see that the newspaper was always critical of Suleiman and scrutinized everything he did when he was the army chief, when he became president, and when he was on good terms and cooperated closely with Hezbollah. Incidentally, Suleiman always asked Hezbollah officials about materials printed by Al-Akhbar who clearly and categorically denied any relationship to it. Therefore, our critical stance of the president is not influenced by any political position.

Finally, Al-Akhbar’s position regarding the Resistance against the Israeli enemy is not a personal position or even a political position. It is rather a nonnegotiable moral position. Whoever thinks that the Resistance could be the subject of criticism, we tell him, irrespective of his position, that he is wrong and that the Resistance is beyond criticism.

Attempts by politicians of all stripes to criticize Hezbollah’s leadership in terms of its political behavior and its alliances, or even its military intervention in Syria, will not sway a firm moral stand regarding any of these issues. Whoever attacks the Resistance, serves the enemy and whoever serves the enemy is either an enemy or the enemy’s agent, end of discussion.

(This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.)

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SOURCE | http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/al-akhbars-unchanging-stances

US caught planning terror attacks in Ukraine

Fri Mar 14, 2014  | By Gordon Duff


In a series of hacked emails received from “Anonymous Ukraine” it is clear that Pentagon officials working in concert with extremist elements in the Ukraine have carried out and are planning more attacks in Ukraine.

What is also clear is that these attacks are to be blamed on Russia including blowing up planes at an airport. Other attacks may well include mass civilian casualties.

The long series of emails include several that are frighteningly incriminating. This is first of the “worst,” three “smoking gun” false flag planning documents:

Ihor,

Events are moving rapidly in Crimea. Our friends in Washington expect more decisive actions from your network.


I think it's time to implement the plan we discussed lately. Your job is to cause some problems to the transport hubs in the south-east in order to frame-up the neighbor.


It will create favorable conditions for Pentagon and the Company to act.
Do not waste time, my friend.
Respectfully, 


JP
Jason P. Gresh
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
Assistant Army Attaché
U.S. Embassy, Kyiv
Tankova 4, Kyiv, Ukraine 04112
(380-44) 521 - 5444 | Fax (380-44) 521 – 5636



“Framing up the neighbor” as Lt. Col. Gresh states so inelegantly defines false flag terrorism. Other documents including a White Paper done by the International Centre for Policy Studies in Kiev dated March 4, 2014 warns of Russian “conspiracy theories.”

The Centre’s White Paper provides what intelligence experts call “deception and cover” for terror attacks planned, as we learn, by the US Army working with Ukrainian military officials and terrorist groups.

The email below, copied to COL Igor PROTSYK, Chief, Bilateral Military Cooperation Division, Main Directorate for Military Cooperation and PKO, General Staff, Armed Forces of Ukraine, not only outlines a terror attack to be blamed on Russian Special Forces, it actually includes a map of where the wreckage is to be found:

Oleg, an urgent need poshumity (sic) on behalf of Russians at the airport in Melitopol. This should be done by March 15 . Sam understands why.

First of all you must contact Pasha Tarasenko. You must know him , he is a local Liberty and has a theme. 
Before you arrive 10-12 boys from the Centre. Top fighters Trident. Chief Mike there, you should know it too . Details will know him. We need people to meet and provide everything you need.
Proceed with caution. Speak only Russian. 25 team is executing combat missions, so do not do them much damage to aircraft . There is a lot of scrap metal, with it you can do anything. Damaged aircraft you specify. It is essential that all was as real attack neighbor's Special Forces. But without corpses.

Give me again your account. The money will come in time, do not worry.
See the appendix . This is an example of action. Decisions are made in person.


Will publication of this hacked email actually stop the upcoming attack on Melitopol? When they specify that corpses aren’t needed, does this mean that they are planning on getting them elsewhere?

When they say “the money will come in time,” are they aware of sequestration and how the US has been paying its bills less quickly than before?

We quickly found Pasha Tarasenko through his “My Space” account. Prominently featured is a photograph in a Ukrainian Army officers dress uniform.

In this final email about the upcoming terror attack on Melitopol airport, Colonel Protsyk takes clear control of the operation:

Basil , you must quickly carry out proactive in Melitopol. There's 25 aviation brigade . Must zamaraty our sworn friends and good neighbors. I think you understand me.

Just proceed carefully and cautiously. 25 brigade combat mission out , so do not do them much damage to aircraft . There is already damaged aircraft , that He can do everything. Yihny board numbers you give. Remember , you need everything to be as real attack of the Russian Special Forces.


Brigade commander there is a reasonable man . Details of know he will not, but in extreme cases it can turn to. We did come.


COL Igor PROTSYK
Chief, Bilateral Military Cooperation Division
Main Directorate for Military Cooperation and PKO
General Staff, Armed Forces of Ukraine
tel +38044 481-5407
Cell +38067 407 97 40
e-mail: i.v.protsyk @ mil.gov.ua
e-mail: protsyk@ukr.net


..
It began with terrorist snipers hired by the “new” Ukrainian government, killing their own supporters. The US involvement was long proven through the infamous Victoria Nuland phone conversation, America “anointing” their chosen terrorists to stage a confrontation with Russia.

The second call, between the Estonian Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet and EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ahston gave us that “smoking gun,” that the current cabal in Kiev are terrorists and criminals.

We now have Americans hiring terrorists, planning attacks, working with the Ukrainian Army and Neo-Nazi groups to blow up planes, attack airports and clearly do so in order to blame Russia and inflame the world to the point of war.

Many of the other documents show planning and logistic support through Bulgaria with PowerPoints in English. Mixed in with the documents are a selection of NATO unclassified news reports.

What can be safely assumed? The US government, certainly the State Department and US Army are involved. NATO involvement is a given.

The current rulers in Kiev are proven to be the criminal element predicted by Catherine Ashton of the EU and so many others.

What we do have is a clear smoking gun, not just names but personal email addresses, mobile phone numbers and language that can never be mistaken.

Gladio based false flag terrorism is alive and well, there can be no question.

+++

SOURCE | http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/03/14/354594/us-planning-terror-attacks-in-ukraine/

Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran, a combat infantryman, and Senior Editor at Veterans Today. His career has included extensive experience in international banking along with such diverse areas as consulting on counter insurgency, defense technologies or acting as diplomatic representative for UN humanitarian and economic development efforts. Gordon Duff has traveled to over 80 nations. His articles are published around the world and translated into a number of languages. He is regularly on TV and radio, a popular and sometimes controversial guest. More Press TV articles by Gordon Duff

THE STORY THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA REFUSES TO TELL YOU ABOUT SYRIA

The Stor

Video has surfaced detailing the execution of Syrian men, women, and children by the same rebel forces that Secretary Of State John Kerry was so eager to aid last summer.
March 11, 2014


In yet one more incident showing the foreign makeup of the so-called Syrian “rebellion,” a video showing “rebels” speaking in what sounds very much like Russian/Chechen dialect during the course of committing another in a long line of atrocities has surfaced.[1]
Although informed researchers have known since the beginning of the conflict that outsiders had been shipped in to Syria to engage in war against the Syrian government, it is not the language of nationalities of the men that is so shocking.
The video shows the execution of men, women, and children – both elderly and as young as ten – for the crimes of “aiding Kufir in the fight against Islam.”
According to the killer, such is the “is destiny of everyone who helps kufir to fight against islam.” Kufir can be roughly translated to mean “infidel” or “unbeliever.”
After executing their victims, the killers can be seen strutting around the room with smiles on their faces.
Before the executions took place, a man can be heard begging for the life of his ten year old son.
You can see the video if you wish at this link. However, as you watch, bear in mind that the killers in the video are funded by the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf State Feudal Monarchies.
Of course, anyone who has followed the crisis in Syria should be aware of videos showing the death squads machine gunning captivesbeheading prisoners (see here and here), and forcing young children to behead them. I, myself, have written an article dealing with reports regarding the death squad’s hanging of a young child after murdering his family in front of him. One can also view the videos of the death squad members beating and humiliating the famous elderly “Yellow Man” in Aleppo.
Indeed, the videos of the torture of prisoners in the hands of the death squads are legion. One need only type the relevant keywords into a YouTube search engine to be greeted with generous results.
Likewise, a number of chemical attacks directed against innocent civilians on the part of the Syrian death squads have taken place over recent months. 
Although the mainstream media and Western governments have attempted to blame these attacks (and every other atrocity) on the Assad government, each and every one has, in fact, turned out to be the work of the Syrian death squads, who are themselves funded by Western governments, intelligence agencies, and NATO command structures.
To the lexicon of death squad atrocities, we are also able to add the video of Syrian “rebel” leader Abu Sakkar cutting out the heart of a Syrian soldier and then biting it for the camera. Shortly before biting the man’s heart, Sakkar states to the camera “I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers.”
Let us also not forget the execution of Mohammed al-Qatta, a young boy who was guilty only of a sarcastic comment.
The execution of these men, women, and chilren, while tragic, merely stands as one more act of savagery on the part of the Syrian death squads. So long as the Western world continues to support them, it is unlikely to be the last.



[1] The language in the video has been analyzed by SyrianGirl, a popular commentator on the Syrian Crisis. She states that she believes the language to be “Slavic” or “possibly Chechen.”
This article is free and open source. Feel free to republish this article in part or in full with credit to the author and a link back to the original source TheAntiMedia.org
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact anticodex@yahoo.com.

--
SOURCE | http://theantimedia.org/foreign-backed-death-squads-in-syria-execute-men-women-and-children/

Putin’s full one hour interview transcript



PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues,

How shall we do this? This is what I’d like to suggest: let’s have a conversation, rather than an interview. Therefore, I would ask you to begin by stating all your questions, I will jot them down and try to answer them, and then we will have a more detailed discussion of the specifics that interest you most.

Let’s begin.

QUESTION: Mr President, I would like to ask (you took a lengthy pause, so we have quite a few questions by now) how you assess the events in Kiev? Do you think that the Government and the Acting President, who are currently in power in Kiev, are legitimate? Are you ready to communicate with them, and on what terms? Do you yourself think it possible now to return to the agreements of February 21, which we all talk about so often?

QUESTION: Mr President, Russia has promised financial aid to Crimea and instructions were issued to the Finance Ministry yesterday. Is there a clear understanding of how much we are giving, where the money is coming from, on what terms and when? The situation there is very difficult.

QUESTION: When, on what terms and in what scope can military force be used in Ukraine? To what extent does this comply with Russia’s international agreements? Did the military exercises that have just finished have anything to do with the possible use of force?

QUESTION: We would like to know more about Crimea. Do you think that the provocations are over or that there remains a threat to the Russian citizens who are now in Crimea and to the Russian-speaking population? What are the general dynamics there – is the situation changing for the better or for the worse? We are hearing different reports from there.

QUESTION: If you do decide to use force, have you thought through all the possible risks for yourself, for the country and for the world: economic sanctions, weakened global security, a possible visa ban or greater isolation for Russia, as western politicians are demanding?

The man who never overreacts

QUESTION: Yesterday the Russian stock market fell sharply in response to the Federation Council’s vote, and the ruble exchange rates hit record lows. Did you expect such a reaction? What do you think are the possible consequences for the economy? Is there a need for any special measures now, and of what kind? For instance, do you think the Central Bank’s decision to shift to a floating ruble exchange rate may have been premature? Do you think it should be revoked?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fine, let us stop here for now. I will begin, and then we will continue. Don’t worry; I will try to answer as many questions as possible.

First of all, my assessment of what happened in Kiev and in Ukraine in general. There can only be one assessment: this was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power. Does anyone question this? Nobody does. There is a question here that neither I, nor my colleagues, with whom I have been discussing the situation in Ukraine a great deal over these past days, as you know – none of us can answer. The question is why was this done?

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that President Yanukovych, through the mediation of the Foreign Ministers of three European countries – Poland, Germany and France – and in the presence of my representative (this was the Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin) signed an agreement with the opposition on February 21. I would like to stress that under that agreement (I am not saying this was good or bad, just stating the fact) Mr Yanukovych actually handed over power. He agreed to all the opposition’s demands: he agreed to early parliamentary elections, to early presidential elections, and to return to the 2004 Constitution, as demanded by the opposition. He gave a positive response to our request, the request of western countries and, first of all, of the opposition not to use force. He did not issue a single illegal order to shoot at the poor demonstrators. Moreover, he issued orders to withdraw all police forces from the capital, and they complied. He went to Kharkov to attend an event, and as soon as he left, instead of releasing the occupied administrative buildings, they immediately occupied the President’s residence and the Government building – all that instead of acting on the agreement.

I ask myself, what was the purpose of all this? I want to understand why this was done. He had in fact given up his power already, and as I believe, as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. Everybody agrees on this, everyone I have been speaking to on the telephone these past few days. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer. Did they wish to humiliate someone and show their power? I think these actions are absolutely foolish. The result is the absolute opposite of what they expected, because their actions have significantly destabilised the east and southeast of Ukraine.

Now over to how this situation came about.

In my opinion, this revolutionary situation has been brewing for a long time, since the first days of Ukraine’s independence. The ordinary Ukrainian citizen, the ordinary guy suffered during the rule of Nicholas II, during the reign of Kuchma, and Yushchenko, and Yanukovych. Nothing or almost nothing has changed for the better. Corruption has reached dimensions that are unheard of here in Russia. Accumulation of wealth and social stratification – problems that are also acute in this country – are much worse in Ukraine, radically worse. Out there, they are beyond anything we can imagine. Generally, people wanted change, but one should not support illegal change.

Only constitutional means should be used on the post-Soviet space, where political structures are still very fragile, and economies are still weak. Going beyond the constitutional field would always be a cardinal mistake in such a situation. Incidentally, I understand those people on Maidan, though I do not support this kind of turnover. I understand the people on Maidan who are calling for radical change rather than some cosmetic remodelling of power. Why are they demanding this? Because they have grown used to seeing one set of thieves being replaced by another. Moreover, the people in the regions do not even participate in forming their own regional governments. There was a period in this country when the President appointed regional leaders, but then the local legislative authorities had to approve them, while in Ukraine they are appointed directly. We have now moved on to elections, while they are nowhere near this. And they began appointing all sorts of oligarchs and billionaires to govern the eastern regions of the country. No wonder the people do not accept this, no wonder they think that as a result of dishonest privatisation (just as many people think here as well) people have become rich and now they also have been brought to power.

For example, Mr Kolomoisky was appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. This is a unique crook. He even managed to cheat our oligarch Roman Abramovich two or three years ago. Scammed him, as our intellectuals like to say. They signed some deal, Abramovich transferred several billion dollars, while this guy never delivered and pocketed the money. When I asked him [Abramovich]: “Why did you do it?” he said: “I never thought this was possible.” I do not know, by the way, if he ever got his money back and if the deal was closed. But this really did happen a couple of years ago. And now this crook is appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. No wonder the people are dissatisfied. They were dissatisfied and will remain so if those who refer to themselves as the legitimate authorities continue in the same fashion.

Most importantly, people should have the right to determine their own future, that of their families and of their region, and to have equal participation in it. I would like to stress this: wherever a person lives, whatever part of the country, he or she should have the right to equal participation in determining the future of the country.

Are the current authorities legitimate? The Parliament is partially, but all the others are not. The current Acting President is definitely not legitimate. There is only one legitimate President, from a legal standpoint. Clearly, he has no power. However, as I have already said, and will repeat: Yanukovych is the only undoubtedly legitimate President.

There are three ways of removing a President under Ukrainian law: one is his death, the other is when he personally steps down, and the third is impeachment. The latter is a well-deliberated constitutional norm. It has to involve the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Rada. This is a complicated and lengthy procedure. It was not carried out. Therefore, from a legal perspective this is an undisputed fact.

Moreover, I think this may be why they disbanded the Constitutional Court, which runs counter to all legal norms of both Ukraine and Europe. They not only disbanded the Constitutional Court in an illegitimate fashion, but they also – just think about it – instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to launch criminal proceedings against members of the Constitutional Court. What is that all about? Is this what they call free justice? How can you instruct anyone to start criminal proceedings? If a crime, a criminal offence, has been committed, the law enforcement agencies see this and react. But instructing them to file criminal charges is nonsense, it’s monkey business.

Now about financial aid to Crimea. As you may know, we have decided to organise work in the Russian regions to aid Crimea, which has turned to us for humanitarian support. We will provide it, of course. I cannot say how much, when or how – the Government is working on this, by bringing together the regions bordering on Crimea, by providing additional support to our regions so they could help the people in Crimea. We will do it, of course.

Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed forces. So far, there is no need for it, but the possibility remains. I would like to say here that the military exercises we recently held had nothing to do with the events in Ukraine. This was pre-planned, but we did not disclose these plans, naturally, because this was a snap inspection of the forces’ combat readiness. We planned this a long time ago, the Defence Minister reported to me and I had the order ready to begin the exercise. As you may know, the exercises are over; I gave the order for the troops to return to their regular dislocations yesterday.

What can serve as a reason to use the Armed Forces? Such a measure would certainly be the very last resort.

First, the issue of legitimacy. As you may know, we have a direct appeal from the incumbent and, as I said, legitimate President of Ukraine, Mr Yanukovych, asking us to use the Armed Forces to protect the lives, freedom and health of the citizens of Ukraine.

What is our biggest concern? We see the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev. I am sure you, members of the media, saw how one of the governors was chained and handcuffed to something and they poured water over him, in the cold of winter. After that, by the way, he was locked up in a cellar and tortured. What is all this about? Is this democracy? Is this some manifestation of democracy? He was actually only recently appointed to this position, in December, I believe. Even if we accept that they are all corrupt there, he had barely had time to steal anything.

And do you know what happened when they seized the Party of Regions building? There were no party members there at all at the time. Some two-three employees came out, one was an engineer, and he said to the attackers: “Could you let us go, and let the women out, please. I’m an engineer, I have nothing to do with politics.” He was shot right there in front of the crowd. Another employee was led to a cellar and then they threw Molotov cocktails at him and burned him alive. Is this also a manifestation of democracy?

When we see this we understand what worries the citizens of Ukraine, both Russian and Ukrainian, and the Russian-speaking population in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. It is this uncontrolled crime that worries them. Therefore, if we see such uncontrolled crime spreading to the eastern regions of the country, and if the people ask us for help, while we already have the official request from the legitimate President, we retain the right to use all available means to protect those people. We believe this would be absolutely legitimate. This is our last resort.

Moreover, here is what I would like to say: we have always considered Ukraine not only a neighbour, but also a brotherly neighbouring republic, and will continue to do so. Our Armed Forces are comrades in arms, friends, many of whom know each other personally. I am certain, and I stress, I am certain that the Ukrainian military and the Russian military will not be facing each other, they will be on the same side in a fight.

Incidentally, the things I am talking about – this unity – is what is happening in Crimea. You should note that, thank God, not a single gunshot has been fired there; there are no casualties, except for that crush on the square about a week ago. What was going on there? People came, surrounded units of the armed forces and talked to them, convincing them to follow the demands and the will of the people living in that area. There was not a single armed conflict, not a single gunshot.

Thus the tension in Crimea that was linked to the possibility of using our Armed Forces simply died down and there was no need to use them. The only thing we had to do, and we did it, was to enhance the defence of our military facilities because they were constantly receiving threats and we were aware of the armed nationalists moving in. We did this, it was the right thing to do and very timely. Therefore, I proceed from the idea that we will not have to do anything of the kind in eastern Ukraine.

There is something I would like to stress, however. Obviously, what I am going to say now is not within my authority and we do not intend to interfere. However, we firmly believe that all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, wherever they live, should be given the same equal right to participate in the life of their country and in determining its future.

If I were in the shoes of those who consider themselves the legitimate authorities, I would not waste time and go through all the necessary procedures, because they do not have a national mandate to conduct the domestic, foreign and economic policy of Ukraine, and especially to determine its future.

Now, the stock market. As you may know, the stock market was jumpy even before the situation in Ukraine deteriorated. This is primarily linked to the policy of the US Federal Reserve, whose recent decisions enhanced the attractiveness of investing in the US economy and investors began moving their funds from the developing markets to the American market. This is a general trend and it has nothing to do with Ukraine. I believe it was India that suffered most, as well as the other BRICS states. Russia was hit as well, not as hard as India, but it was. This is the fundamental reason.

As for the events in Ukraine, politics always influence the stock market in one way or another. Money likes quiet, stability and calm. However, I think this is a tactical, temporary development and a temporary influence.

Your questions, please.

QUESTION: Mr President, can you tell us if you expected such a harsh reaction to Russia’s actions from your western partners? Could you give us any details of your conversations with your western partners? All we’ve heard was a report from the press service. And what do you think about the G8 summit in Sochi – will it take place?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding the expected reaction, whether the G8 will meet and about the conversations. Our conversations are confidential, some are even held over secure lines. Therefore, I am not authorised to disclose what I discussed with my partners. I will, however, refer to some public statements made by my colleagues from the west; without giving any names, I will comment on them in a general sense.

What do we pay attention to? We are often told our actions are illegitimate, but when I ask, “Do you think everything you do is legitimate?” they say “yes”. Then, I have to recall the actions of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they either acted without any UN sanctions or completely distorted the content of such resolutions, as was the case with Libya. There, as you may know, the resolution only spoke of closing the airspace for government aircraft, while it all ended with bomb attacks and special forces land operations.

Our partners, especially in the United Sates, always clearly formulate their own geopolitical and state interests and follow them with persistence. Then, using the principle “You’re either with us or against us” they draw the whole world in. And those who do not join in get ‘beaten’ until they do.

Our approach is different. We proceed from the conviction that we always act legitimately. I have personally always been an advocate of acting in compliance with international law. I would like to stress yet again that if we do make the decision, if I do decide to use the Armed Forces, this will be a legitimate decision in full compliance with both general norms of international law, since we have the appeal of the legitimate President, and with our commitments, which in this case coincide with our interests to protect the people with whom we have close historical, cultural and economic ties. Protecting these people is in our national interests. This is a humanitarian mission. We do not intend to subjugate anyone or to dictate to anyone. However, we cannot remain indifferent if we see that they are being persecuted, destroyed and humiliated. However, I sincerely hope it never gets to that.

QUESTION: How do you asses the reaction of the west to the events in Ukraine and their threats regarding Russia: are we facing the possibility of sanctions or withdrawal from the G8?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding sanctions. It is primarily those who intend to apply them that need to consider their consequences. I believe that in the modern world, where everything is interconnected and interdependent, it is possible to cause damage to another country, but this will be mutual damage and one should bear this in mind. This is one thing.

The second and the most important thing. I have already told you what motivates us. And what motivates our partners? They supported an unconstitutional armed take-over, declared these people legitimate and are trying to support them. By the way, despite all of this we have been patient and even ready to cooperate; we do not want to disrupt our cooperation. As you may know, a few days ago I instructed the Government to consider how we can maintain contacts even with those powers in Kiev that we do not consider legitimate in order to retain our ties in the economy and industry. We think our actions have been absolutely reasonable, while any threat against Russia is counterproductive and harmful.

As for the G8, I do not know. We will be ready to host the summit with our colleagues. If they do not want to come – so be it.

QUESTION: Can I add about contacts? The way I see it, you consider the Prime Minister of Crimea Mr Aksyonov to be a legitimate representative of government authorities. Are you ready to have any contacts with those who consider themselves the legitimate authorities in Kiev?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have just spoken about it. You must have missed it.

QUESTION: I mean, at the top level for a political solution.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not have a partner at the top level there. There is no president there, and there cannot be one until the general elections.

As for Crimea, the Parliament there was formed in 2010, in December 2010 if I remember correctly. There are 100 MPs representing six political parties. After the previous Prime Minister resigned, the Crimean Parliament, in compliance with the existing legislation and procedures elected a new Prime Minister at a session of the Crimean Supreme Council. He is definitely legitimate. They have complied with all the procedures envisaged by the law; there is not a single violation. However, when a few days ago a group of armed men tried to occupy the building of the Crimean Supreme Soviet, this caused the concern of the local residents. It seemed as though someone wanted to apply the Kiev scenario in Crimea and to launch a series of terrorist attacks and cause chaos. Naturally, this causes grave concern among the local residents. That is why they set up self-defence committees and took control over all the armed forces.

Incidentally, I was studying the brief yesterday to see what they took over – it is like a fortified zone. There are several dozen C-300 units, several dozen air-defence missile systems, 22,000 service members and a lot more. However, as I said, this is all in the hands of the people of Crimea and without a single gunshot.

QUESTION: Mr President, a clarification if I may. The people who were blocking the Ukrainian Army units in Crimea were wearing uniforms that strongly resembled the Russian Army uniform. Were those Russian soldiers, Russian military?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why don’t you take a look at the post-Soviet states. There are many uniforms there that are similar. You can go to a store and buy any kind of uniform.

QUESTION: But were they Russian soldiers or not?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Those were local self-defence units.

QUESTION: How well trained are they? If we compare them to the self-defence units in Kiev…

VLADIMIR PUTIN: My dear colleague, look how well trained the people who operated in Kiev were. As we all know they were trained at special bases in neighbouring states: in Lithuania, Poland and in Ukraine itself too. They were trained by instructors for extended periods. They were divided into dozens and hundreds, their actions were coordinated, they had good communication systems. It was all like clockwork. Did you see them in action? They looked very professional, like special forces. Why do you think those in Crimea should be any worse?

QUESTION: In that case, can I specify: did we take part in training Crimean self-defence forces?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, we did not.

QUESTION: How do you see the future of Crimea? Do you consider the possibility of it joining Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, we do not. Generally, I believe that only residents of a given country who have the freedom of will and are in complete safety can and should determine their future. If this right was granted to the Albanians in Kosovo, if this was made possible in many different parts of the world, then nobody has ruled out the right of nations to self-determination, which, as far as I know, is fixed by several UN documents. However, we will in no way provoke any such decision and will not breed such sentiments.

I would like to stress that I believe only the people living in a given territory have the right to determine their own future.

QUESTION: Two questions. You said that sending troops into Ukraine is an extreme measure, but you are nevertheless not ruling it out. Still, if Russian troops enter Ukraine, it could start a war. Doesn’t that bother you?

And a second question. You say that Yanukovych did not give the order to shoot people. But somebody shot at the protestors. And clearly, these were snipers, trained snipers.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, some people, including those who were recently among the protestors, have expressed the opinion that these were provocateurs from one of the opposition parties. Have you heard this?

REPLY: No, I have not heard this.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look at these materials – they are freely available. That is why it is very difficult to get to the bottom of the situation. But you and I saw for ourselves when the Berkut fighters stood there with their shields and were shot at – and those were not air weapons that were used against them but assault weapons that pierced their shields. That is something we saw for certain. As for who gave the orders – that I do not know. I only know what Mr Yanukovych told me. And he told me that he did not give any orders, and moreover, he gave instructions – after signing a corresponding agreement – to even withdraw all militia units from the capital.

If you want, I can tell you even more. He called me on the phone and I told him not to do it. I said, “You will have anarchy, you will have chaos in the capital. Think about the people.” But he did it anyway. And as soon as he did it, his office was seized, and that of the government, and the chaos I had warned him about and which continues to this day, erupted.

QUESTION: What about the first question? Are you concerned that a war could break out?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I am not concerned, because we do not plan and we will not fight with the Ukrainian people.

QUESTION: But there are Ukrainian troops, there is the Ukrainian army.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Listen carefully. I want you to understand me clearly: if we make that decision, it will only be to protect Ukrainian citizens. And let’s see those troops try to shoot their own people, with us behind them – not in the front, but behind. Let them just try to shoot at women and children! I would like to see those who would give that order in Ukraine.

QUESTION: Can I ask a question, Mr President? Our colleagues, my colleagues, who are currently working in Ukraine, are saying practically every day that the situation for the Berkut fighters is only getting worse (perhaps with the exception of Crimea). In particular, in Kiev, there are injured Berkut officers who are in hospitals now, where nobody is treating them and they are not even getting fed. And their families, including elderly family members, they simply cannot leave the house, because they are not being allowed; there are barricades all around, they are being humiliated. Can you comment on this? And can Russia help these families and colleagues?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, this issue is of great concern to us. After all, these are not Russia’s Interior Ministry officers, and we were not managing the situation there. But out of humanitarian considerations, it would be good if our human rights organisations got involved in this as well; we might ask Vladimir Lukin, either alone or together with his colleagues, representatives from France, Germany and Poland, with whom he participated in developing the well-known document of February 21, 2014, to go on location and see what is happening there with these Berkut officers, who have not broken any laws and acted in accordance with their orders. They are military service members, they stood there facing bullets, they were doused with fire and had Molotov cocktails thrown at them. They have been wounded and injured and are now in a hospital. It is even hard to imagine – even prisoners of war are being fed and treated. But they not only stopped treating them, they even stopped feeding them. And they have surrounded the building where these fighters’ families live and are bullying them. I think that human rights organisations must pay attention to this. And we, for our part, are ready to provide them with medical care here in Russia.

QUESTION: Mr President, getting back to the West’s reaction. Following the US Secretary of State’s harsh statement, the Federation Council suggested that we recall our ambassador to the United States. Do you support this idea?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The US Secretary of State is certainly an important person, but he is not the ultimate authority that determines the United States’ foreign policy. We hear statements from various politicians and representatives of various political forces. This would be an extreme measure. If necessary, it will be used. But I really don’t want to use it, because I think Russia is not the only one interested in cooperation with its partners on an international level and in such areas as economy, politics and foreign security; our partners are just as interested in this cooperation. It is very easy to destroy these instruments of cooperation and it would be very difficult to rebuild them.

QUESTION: Russia got involved in Yanukovych’s fate. How do you see his future role and his future destiny?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, it is very hard for me to say; I have not analysed it carefully. I think he has no political future, and I have told him so. As for “getting involved in his fate” – we did this on purely humanitarian grounds. Death is the easiest way for getting rid of a legitimate president, and I think that is what would have happened. I think they would have simply killed him. Incidentally, the question arises: what for?

After all, look at how it all began, what triggered these events. The formal reason was that he did not sign the European Union Association Agreement. Today, this seems like nonsense; it is ridiculous to even talk about. But I want to point out that he did not refuse to sign the association agreement. He said: “We have carefully analysed it, and its content does not correspond with our national interests. We cannot sharply increase energy prices for our people, because our people are already in a rather difficult position. We cannot do this, and that, and that. We cannot immediately break our economic ties with Russia, because our cooperation is very extensive.”

I have already presented these figures: out of approximately 14 billion [dollars] in export, approximately 5 billion represents second and third technological processing level products exported to Russia. In other words, just about all engineering products are exported to Russia; the West is not buying any Ukrainian products. And to take all this and break it apart, to introduce European technical standards in the Ukrainian economy, which, thankfully or unfortunately, we are not using at the moment. We will adopt those standards at some point, but currently, we do not have those standards in Russia. This means the next day, our relations and cooperation ties will be broken, enterprises will come to a standstill and unemployment will increase. And what did Yanukovych say? He said, “I cannot do this so suddenly, let’s discuss this further.” He did not refuse to sign it, he asked for a chance to discuss this document some more, and then all this craziness began.

And why? Did he do something outside the scope of his authority? He acted absolutely within the scope of his authority; he did not infringe on anything. It was simply an excuse to support the forces opposing him in a fight for power. Overall, this is nothing special. But did it really need to be taken to this level of anarchy, to an unconstitutional overthrow and armed seizure of power, subsequently plunging the nation into the chaos where it finds itself today? I think this is unacceptable. And it is not the first time our Western partners are doing this in Ukraine. I sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing. Why did they need to do this? Who can explain this? There is no explanation at all for it.

The same thing happened during the first Maidan uprising, when Yanukovych was blocked from power. Why did we need that third round of elections? In other words, it was turned into a farce – Ukraine’s political life was turned into a farce. There was no compliance with the Constitution at all. You see, we are now teaching people that if one person can violate any law, anyone else can do the same, and that’s what causes chaos. That is the danger. Instead, we need to teach our society to follow other traditions: traditions of respecting the main law of the nation, the Constitution, and all other laws. Of course, we will not always succeed, but I think acting like this – like a bull in a china shop is counterproductive and very dangerous.

Please.

QUESTION: Mr President, Turchynov is illegitimate, from your point of view.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As President, yes.

QUESTION: But the Rada is partially legitimate.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Are Yatsenyuk and the Cabinet legitimate? And if Russia is concerned about the growing strength of radical elements, they grow stronger every time they find themselves facing a hypothetical enemy, which in their view, they currently consider Russia and Russia’s position of being ready to send in troops. Question: does it make sense and is it possible to hold talks with moderate forces in the Ukrainian government, with Yatsenyuk, and is he legitimate?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Listen, it seems like you didn’t hear what I have said. I already said that three days ago, I gave instructions to the Government to renew contacts at the government level with their colleagues in the corresponding ministries and departments in Ukraine, in order not to disrupt economic ties, to support them in their attempts to reconstruct the economy. Those were my direct instructions to the Russian Government. Moreover, Mr Medvedev is in contact with [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk. And I know that Sergei Naryshkin, as speaker of the Russian parliament, is in contact with [Oleksandr] Turchynov. But, I repeat, all our trade and economic and other ties, our humanitarian ties, can be developed in full only after the situation is normalised and presidential elections are held.

QUESTION: Gazprom has already said that it is reverting to its old gas prices beginning in April.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Gazprom could not have said that; you were not listening carefully or it did not express itself clearly. Gazprom is not reverting to the old prices. It simply does not want to extend the current discounts, which it had agreed to apply or not apply on a quarterly basis. Even before all these events, even before they hit the crisis point. I know about the negotiations between Gazprom and its partners. Gazprom and the Government of the Russian Federation agreed that Gazprom would introduce a discount by reducing gas prices to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic metres. The Government of Russia provides the first tranche of the loan, which is formally not a loan but a bond purchase – a quasi-loan, $3 billion dollars in the first stage. And the Ukrainian side undertakes to fully repay its debt that arose in the second half of last year and to make regular payments for what they are consuming – for the gas. The debt has not been repaid, regular payments are not being made in full.

Moreover, if the Ukrainian partners fail to make the February payment, the debt will grow even bigger. Today it is around $1.5-1.6 billion. And if they do not fully pay for February, it will be nearly $2 billion. Naturally, in these circumstances, Gazprom says, “Listen guys, since you don’t pay us anyway, and we are only seeing an increase in your debt, let’s lock into the regular price, which is still reduced.” This is a purely commercial component of Gazprom’s activities, which plans for revenues and expenditures in its investment plans like any other major company. If they do not receive the money from their Ukrainian partners on time, then they are undercutting their own investment programmes; this is a real problem for them. And incidentally, this does not have to do with the events in Ukraine or any politics. There was an agreement: “We give you money and reduced gas rates, and you give us regular payments.” They gave them money and reduced gas rates, but the payments are not being made. So naturally, Gazprom says, “Guys, that won’t work.”

QUESTION: Mr President, [German Federal Chancellor] Merkel’s Press Service said after your telephone conversation that you had agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to Ukraine and set up a contact group.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I said that we have people who have the training and skills needed to be able to examine this issue and discuss it with our German colleagues. This is all possible. I gave the instruction accordingly to our Foreign Minister, who was to or will meet with the German Foreign Minister, Mr Steinmeier, yesterday or today to discuss this matter.

QUESTION: All eyes are on Crimea at the moment of course, but we see what is happening in other parts of Ukraine too, in the east and south. We see what is happening in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk and Odessa. People are raising the Russian flag over government buildings and appealing to Russia for aid and support. Will Russia respond to these events?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you think we have not made any response? I think we’ve just spent the last hour discussing this response. In some cases though, the developments taking place are unexpected in my view. I will not go into the specific details of what I am referring to here, but the reaction that we are seeing from people is understandable, in principle. Did our partners in the West and those who call themselves the government in Kiev now not foresee that events would take this turn? I said to them over and over: Why are you whipping the country into a frenzy like this? What are you doing? But they keep on pushing forward. Of course people in the eastern part of the country realise that they have been left out of the decision-making process.

Essentially, what is needed now is to adopt a new constitution and put it to a referendum so that all of Ukraine’s citizens can take part in the process and influence the choice of basic principles that will form the foundations of their country’s government. But this is not our affair of course. This is something for the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian authorities to decided one way or another. I think that once a legitimate government is in place and a new president and parliament are elected, which is what is planned, this will probably go ahead. If I were them, I would return to the matter of adopting a constitution and, as I said, putting it to a referendum so that everyone can have their say on it, cast their vote, and then everyone will have to respect it. If people feel they are left out of this process, they will never agree with it and will keep on fighting it. Who needs this kind of thing? But as I said, this is all not our affair.

QUESTION: Will Russia recognise the planned presidential election that will take place in Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let’s see how it goes. If it is accompanied by the same kind of terror that we are seeing now in Kiev, we will not recognise it.

QUESTION: I want to come back to the West’s reaction. As all this tough talk continues, we have the Paralympics opening in a few days’ time in Sochi. Are these Games at risk of ending up on the brink of disruption, at least as far as international media coverage goes?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I don’t know, I think it would be the height of cynicism to put the Paralympics at risk. We all know that this is an international sports event at which people with disabilities can show their capabilities, prove to themselves and the entire world that they are not people with limitations, but on the contrary, people with unlimited possibilities, and demonstrate their achievements in sport. If there are people ready to try to disrupt this event, it would show that these are people for whom there really is nothing sacred.

QUESTION: I want to ask about the hypothetical possibility of using the military. People in the West have said that if Russia makes such a decision, it would violate the Budapest Memorandum, under which the United States and some NATO partners consecrated territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for its promise to give up nuclear weapons. If developments take this turn, could global players intervene in this local conflict and turn it into a global conflict? Have you taken these risks into account?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Before making public statements, and all the more so before taking practical steps, we give issues due thought and attention and try to foresee the consequences and reactions that the various potential players could have.

As for the Memorandum that you mentioned, you said you are from Reuters, is that right?

RESPONSE: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: How do the public and political circles in your country view these events that have taken place? It is clear after all that this was an armed seizure of power. That is a clear and evident fact. And it is clear too that this goes against the Constitution. That is also a clear fact, is it not?

RESPONSE: I live in Russia.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good on you! You should join the diplomatic service; you’d make a good diplomat. Diplomats’ tongues, as we know, are there to hide their thoughts. So, we say that what we are seeing is an anti-constitutional coup, and we get told, no, it isn’t. You have probably heard plenty of times now that this was not an anti-constitutional coup and not an armed seizure of power, but a revolution. Have you heard this?

RESPONSE: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, but if this is revolution, what does this mean? In such a case it is hard not to agree with some of our experts who say that a new state is now emerging in this territory. This is just like what happened when the Russian Empire collapsed after the 1917 revolution and a new state emerged. And this would be a new state with which we have signed no binding agreements.

QUESTION: I want to clarify a point. You said that if the USA imposes sanctions, this would deal a blow to both economies. Does this imply that Russia might impose counter-sanctions of its own, and if so, would they be a symmetrical response?

You spoke about gas discounts too. But there was also the agreement to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds. Ukraine received the first tranche at the end of last year. Has payment of the remaining money been suspended? If Russia provides aid, on what specific economic and political terms will this be done? And what political and economic risks are you taking into consideration in this case?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: To answer your question, we are in principle ready to look at taking the steps needed to make the other tranches available with regard to the purchase of bonds. But our Western partners have asked us not to do this. They have asked us to work together through the IMF to encourage the Ukrainian authorities to carry out the reforms needed to bring about recovery in the Ukrainian economy. We will continue working in this direction. But given that Naftogaz of Ukraine is not paying Gazprom now, the Government is considering various options.

QUESTION: Mr President, is the dynamic of events in Ukraine changing for the better or for the worse?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Overall, I think it is gradually starting to level out. We absolutely must send the signal to people in Ukraine’s southeast that they can feel safe, and know that they will be able to take part in the general political process of stabilising the country.

QUESTION: You have made several mentions now of future legitimate elections in Ukraine. Who do you see as compromise candidate? Of course you will say that this for the Ukrainian people to decide, but I ask you all the same.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: To be honest, I really don’t know.

RESPONSE: It seems that the people also don’t know, because no matter who you talk to, everyone seems to be at a loss.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I really can’t say. You know, it’s hard to make predictions after events of this kind. I have already said that I do not agree with this method of taking power and removing the incumbent authorities and president, and I strongly oppose this kind of method in Ukraine and in the post-Soviet area in general. I oppose this because this kind of method does not inculcate legal culture, respect for the law. If one person can get away with doing this, it means that everyone is allowed to try, and this only means chaos. You have to understand that this kind of chaos is the worst possible thing for countries with a shaky economy and unstable political system. In this kind of situation you never know what kind of people events will bring to the fore. Just recall, for example, the role that [Ernst] Roehm’s storm troopers played during Hitler’s rise to power. Later, these storm troopers were liquidated, but they played their part in bringing Hitler to power. Events can take all kinds of unexpected turns.

Let me say again that in situations when people call for fundamental political reform and new faces at the top, and with full justification too – and in this I agree with the Maidan – there is a risk too that you’ll suddenly get some upstart nationalist or semi-fascist lot sprout up, like the genie suddenly let out of the bottle – and we see them today, people wearing armbands with something resembling swastikas, still roaming around Kiev at this moment – or some anti-Semite or other. This danger is there too.

QUESTION: Just today, incidentally, the Ukrainian envoy to the UN said that the crimes committed by Bandera’s followers were falsified by the Soviet Union. With May 9 coming closer, we can see now who is in power there today. Should we even have any contacts with them at all?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We need to have contact with everyone except for obvious criminals, but as I said, in this kind of situation, there is always the risk that events of this kind will bring people with extreme views to the fore, and this of course has serious consequences for the country.

QUESTION: You said that we should make contact with everyone. Yulia Tymoshenko was planning it seems, to come to Moscow.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As you know, we always worked quite productively with all of the different Ukrainian governments, no matter what their political colour. We worked with Leonid Kuchma, and with [Viktor] Yushchenko. When I was Prime Minister, I worked with Tymoshenko. I visited her in Ukraine and she came here to Russia. We had to deal with all kinds of different situations in our work to manage our countries’ economies. We had our differences, but we also reached agreements. Overall it was constructive work. If she wants to come to Russia, let her come. It’s another matter that she is no longer prime minister now. In what capacity will she come? But I personally have no intention of stopping her from coming to Russia.

QUESTION: Just a brief question: who do you think is behind this coup, as you called it, in Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As I said before, I think this was a well-prepared action. Of course there were combat detachments. They are still there, and we all saw how efficiently they worked. Their Western instructors tried hard of course. But this is not the real problem. If the Ukrainian government had been strong, confident, and had built a stable system, no nationalists would have been able to carry out those programs and achieve the results that we see now.

The real problem is that none of the previous Ukrainian governments gave proper attention to people’s needs. Here in Russia we have many problems, and many of them are similar to those in Ukraine, but they are not as serious as in Ukraine. Average per capita [monthly] income in Russia, for example, is 29,700 rubles, but in Ukraine, if we convert it into rubles, it is 11,900 rubles, I think – almost three times lower than in Russia. The average pension in Russia is 10,700 rubles, but in Ukraine it is 5,500 rubles – twice lower than in Russia. Great Patriotic War veterans in Russia receive almost as much as the average worker each month. In other words, there is a substantial difference in living standards. This was what the various governments should have been focusing on right from the start. Of course they needed to fight crime, nepotism, clans and so on, especially in the economy. People see what is going on, and this creates lack of confidence in the authorities.

This has continued as several generations of modern Ukrainian politicians have come and gone, and the ultimate result is that people are disappointed and want to see a new system and new people in power. This was the main source of fuel for the events that took place. But let me say again: a change of power, judging by the whole situation, was probably necessary in Ukraine, but it should have taken place only through legitimate means, in respect for and not in violation of the current Constitution.

QUESTION: Mr President, if Crimea holds a referendum and the people there vote to secede from Ukraine, that is, if the majority of the region’s residents vote for secession, would you support it?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You can never use the conditional mood in politics. I will stick to that rule.

QUESTION: Is Yanukovych even still alive? There have been rumours that he died.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have seen him once since he arrived in Russia. That was just two days ago. He was alive and well and wishes you the same. He’ll still have a chance of catching a cold at the funeral of those who are spreading these rumours of his demise.

QUESTION: Mr President, what mistakes do you think Yanukovych made over these last months as the situation intensified in Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would rather not answer this question, not because I do not have an opinion to express, but because I do not think it would be proper on my part. You have to understand, after all…

QUESTION: Do you sympathise with him?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, I have completely different feelings. Anyone in this office bears an enormous responsibility on their shoulders as head of state, and they have rights and also obligations. But the biggest obligation of all is to carry out the will of the people who have entrusted you with the country, acting within the law. And so we need to analyse, did he do everything that the law and the voters’ mandate empowered him to do? You can analyse this yourselves and draw your own conclusions.



QUESTION: But what feelings do you have for him? You said “not sympathy, but other feelings”. What feelings exactly?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let’s talk later.

QUESTION: You said just two questions back that we must above all send a clear signal to people in the south and southeast of Ukraine. The southeast, that’s understandable, but…

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We need to make our position clear to everyone, really.

We need to be heard by all of Ukraine’s people. We have no enemies in Ukraine. Let me say again that Ukraine is a friendly country. Do you know how many people came from Ukraine to Russia last year? 3.3 million came, and of that number almost 3 million people came to Russia for work. These people are working here – around 3 million people. Do you know how much money they send back home to Ukraine to support their families? Count up the average wage of 3 million people. This comes to billions of dollars and makes a big contribution to Ukraine’s GDP. This is no joking matter. We welcome all of them, and among the people coming here to work are also many from western Ukraine. They are all equal in our eyes, all brothers to us.

QUESTION: This is just what I wanted to ask about. We are hearing above all about the southeast of Ukraine at the moment, which is understandable, but there are ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people living in western Ukraine too, and their situation is probably even worse. They probably cannot raise their heads at all and are a downtrodden minority there. What can Russia do to help them?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Our position is that if the people who call themselves the government now hope to be considered a civilised government, they must ensure the safety of all of their citizens, no matter in which part of the country, and we of course will follow this situation closely.

Thank you.

March 4, 2014 -      Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

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