Amid all the patriotic uproar over plans for U.S. anti-missile elements in Poland and the Czech Republic, the Kremlin seems to have forgotten a pertinent incident in Russian-Polish relations.
It occurred soon after reports that the Vostok battalion pro-Moscow unit in Chechnya comprised of local recruits was engaged in a 2005 ethnic cleansing raid in the predominantly ethnic Avar village of Borozdinovskaya. It was there that troops set fire to a car after a local boy, after watching soldiers beat a man in a school-yard, screamed at them: “If you are men, then settle it one on one.” They then set fire to a number of homes, and when the smoke cleared, a 78-year-old man was dead and 11 people were missing. Local residents later filled bags with the charred remains of people who had burned to death in their homes. It was following these incidents that President Vladmir Putin lashed out at those who abused Russian citizens.
But Putin was referring to Poland, where local hooligans had assaulted the children of Russian diplomats and stolen their cell phones.
Putin’s words had an instant effect. Internet sites were soon rife with anti-Polish invective, and two Polish diplomats and a Polish journalist were attacked in Moscow. Then, after the third beating, the violence abruptly ended.
Now, with Poland planning to allow anti-missile batteries on its territory, Kremlin officials are wondering to themselves: “what did we do to deserve this?”
Putin’s words also inflamed people’s passions in relation to Georgians. The moment Putin mentioned the need to protect native ethnic groups – meaning Russians – violent incidents against Georgians increased. This is nothing like a war, because true wars are fought against those capable of offering resistance. In this case, the people who were being attacked were in no position to fight back. The victims were businessmen, who were deprived of their businesses, and women and children, all of whom were easier to humiliate and harass than an armed combatant.
When Georgia filled a case against Russia to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Kremlin authorities were sincerely mystified as to the motive.
The most unpleasant aspect of Russian foreign policy is not, however, its inconsistency in applying moral principles. Foreign policy tends to be neither moral nor immoral. It is either successful or unsuccessful. As philosopher Joseph de Maistre once said, the most powerful states behave like the most horrible people. The most objectionable aspect of Russia’s foreign policy is its infantilism.
When the diplomats’ children were attacked in Poland, Putin was truly offended. So offended, in fact, that people started beating Polish diplomats in Moscow. Then Putin made a comment about “non-native nationalities” in Russia, and there was a rush to carry out this indirect call to action. Nobody stopped to consider the strategic consequence of such behaviour.
The most ridiculous part of this is that Russia wants to befriend the West – but only on its own terms.
Imagine a school bully who has beaten up one classmate and, in the process of attacking another, is interrupted. Out of frustration, he warns his would-be-victim, “If you tell anybody about this, you’re history.” But the student does complain, and the bully is brought before the school principal, where he offers the following explanation:
“I just want to be friends with everyone, but they aren’t interested. True, I don’t much like anybody around here, but all the same, we could be friends if they would just stop complaining about me.”
Don’t believe it. If you read between the lines of the Foreign Ministry’s latest report describing Russia’s desire to establish friendly relations with its “enemies” in the West, you will find more than a few clues as to what the ministry really means.
– Yulia Latyinina.
Popular Russian journalist and Political analyst.
Full text of her weekly column called “Inside Russia”
in a Moscow based English language newspaper.
DETAILS OF CASE
Ladies and gentlemen, honourable jurors, before we set out to answer these questions, for the sake of objectivity and credibility, it is very important to get acquainted with the raw facts, details and history of this case. For those of you who are already aware, it will refresh your memory.
Roughly about 46 years ago, oil was discovered in large quantity in the Niger delta – a territory that is predominantly inhabited by Nigeria’s ethnic minority groups. Together, these minority groups make up about 1.2% of Nigeria’s estimated 140 million population. These ethnic groups include the Ogonis, Ijaws, Ibibio e.t.c. Nigeria derives more than 90% of its foreign revenues from drilling oil in this region. However, since the discovery of oil in this region, disaster has befallen these people. Their land, water and air are heavily polluted due to oil exploration.
Before, the main occupations of these people were mainly fishing and farming, but that is not possible anymore due to heavy pollution. Consequently, the Niger delta people have been deprived of any opportunity to earn a decent living. Thus, these people live in abject poverty.
The Federal Government has not invested in health care services. Nearest government hospital is thousands of kilometers from them. And, available hospitals are far from what could be called hospitals because they are badly equipped, basic drugs are not available and lacks adequate well trained medical personnel to attend to large amount of patients. Therefore, it is not a surprise that they have not only one of the highest rate of infant mortality, but lowest life expectancy (longevity) in the world.
Investment by the Federal Government on the people and territory – in terms of infrastructure – is practically zero. While the northern part of Nigeria enjoys uninterrupted electricity , the Niger delta people have lived in perpetual darkness for 46 years. Suffice to say that, Nigeria sells electricity to neighbouring countries for hard currency, while the plights of these people for electricity is ignored.
While the northern part of Nigeria enjoys regular water supply, the Niger delta people cannot boast of 1 litre of clean water per person to drink, despite the fact that they are surrounded by water.
The government’s investment in education is minimal. Thus, the region has one of the lowest literacy rate in the country.
The government’s investment in transportation is minimal. There are very few pliable roads and bridges. Quiet a large number of the people still move around their communities in self-built canoes.
While the northern part of the country boasts of large amount of factories, there are practically none in the delta. And the very few that were built are staffed mainly by foreigners. The foreign oil companies do not employ the indigenes, despite the fact that some of them are well educated enough to work as engineers, technicians, managers, accountants, economists, e.t.c. Instead, they prefer to use the services of Philippines, Malaysians, Lebanese, Indians, Arabs, Japanese, Italians, Germans, British, Americans, Russians, Dutch, Spanish, Canadians, and Australians e.t.c. The foreign oil companies argue that there are neither capable Niger Deltans nor Nigerians in general that could handle the jobs of these foreign workers. Sometimes, when a very few of them are employed, they are offered very low paying jobs like gatemen, gardeners, house maids/servants e.t.c. They all receive their salaries in the local currency while foreign workers are paid in dollars.
Foreign workers with their wallets full of dollars often lure the very beautiful Niger deltan girls into prostitution. Unfortunately, many, due to their disastrous economic conditions have fallen for the bait, as a means of survival. Many of these girls have contacted different types of venereal diseases, in
cluding AIDS, from these foreigners. And, they are abandoned to cater for themselves.
In order to avoid dying of hunger, the indigenes are compelled to flee to other parts of Nigeria to seek employment.
Foreign oil companies and their workers show no regards whatsoever for the culture, customs and tradition of the indigenes.
The Niger deltans have no clue on what condition the Federal Government signed oil contracts with foreign oil companies.
Several attempts made by the Niger deltans to address the issues of heavy oil production – which constitutes serious health and environmental hazards; disrespect of their culture, tradition, customs and the indigenes by foreign oil companies and their workers; employment of their indigenes by foreign oil companies and N.N.P.C. to technical, engineering and management positions; and getting a larger share and say in their resources, with the Federal Government, yielded no results. The Niger deltans have reached a stonewall.
Ladies and gentlemen, honourable jurors, now that we have been acquainted with the details of the case, the lawyer of the Niger deltans will proceed to answer the questions put before you, with impeccable arguments at the next hearing. Thank you all for your attention. We adjourn till further notice.