Europe
Kremlin

US to designate Wagner Group ‘transnational criminal organization’

The US Treasury Department announced that it will designate the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group as a “transnational criminal organization,” imposing further sanctions on the group’s financial activities. The Treasury Department press release on the move stated: “Wagner personnel have engaged in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abductions, and physical abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali.” The Wagner Group is believed to have some 50,000 mercenaries fighting in Ukraine. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Europe

Germany calls for Ukraine war crimes tribunal

In an address at the Hague Academy of International Law, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for an international tribunal to prosecute Russian officials for war crimes and the crime of aggression in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. Making her case for the tribunal, Baerbock said loopholes in international criminal law allow Russia to escape the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Baerbock was referring to the 2010 “Kampala Amendments” to the Rome Statute, which allow the ICC to prosecute the crime of aggression—but only with a referral from the UN Security Council. Since Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, it can veto any such referral. (Photo: EuroMaidan Press via Twitter)

Europe
XRebellion

UK: new measures to halt ‘disruptive’ protests

The UK government introduced amendments to the pending Public Order Bill to change the definition of “serious disruption,” broadening the range of situations in which police in England and Wales may act to stop protests. Police will not need to wait for disruption to take place to shut down protests under the proposed measures. The amendments would also create a new criminal offense for interfering with “key national infrastructure.” The amendments are clearly aimed at activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain. Through the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022, the government already created a statutory offense of “public nuisance,” created powers for the police to place restrictions on “unjustifiably” loud protests, and increased the sentences for obstructing highways. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sat down with the Home Secretary and police chiefs in December to give a clear message that the Government expects protesters who disrupt the lives of others to be removed and arrested. (Photo: @XRebellionUK)

Europe
LĂĽtzerath

German police clash with anti-mine protestors

German police clashed with protestors as thousands rallied for the protection of the village of LĂĽtzerath, which is set to be destroyed to make way for a coal mine. Earlier in the week, a German regional court upheld a ruling to clear the village, which is in the brown-coal district of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Utility company RWE says it reached a deal with the regional government last year that allows the village to be destroyed in return for ending coal use by 2030, rather than 2038. LĂĽtzerath is the last of 14 villages sacrificed for the Garzweiler mine, with thousands of residents resettled, and churches and schools bulldozed to make way for the energy expansion plans. Thousands of protestors were moved from empty buildings in the village last week. (Image: @XRebellionUK)

Watching the Shadows
MLK

Podcast: against tankie MLK-exploitation

In Episode 158 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the Russian Socialist Movement has issued a call for solidarity actions with anti‑war activists in Russia on Jan. 19. This is the date when left activists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were gunned down by far-right militants in Moscow in 2009. Today, the Vladimir Putin regime is persecuting activists such as Alexandra Skochilenko—who faces a long prison term for producing public art on an anti-war theme. Instead of responding to this call for solidarity, the ANSWER Coalition and other exponents of the “tankie” pseudo-left have called a rally against aid to Ukraine, and implicitly in support of Putin and his war aims, for Jan. 14 in locations such as New York’s Times Square—perversely, in the name of Martin Luther King. The Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign repudiates this pseudo-anti-war rally, urging: “No exploitation of Dr. MLK Jr. to support war criminal Putin!” Debunking the Russian propaganda that portrays Putin’s aggression as a defensive move against NATO encroachment, Weinberg demonstrates that the principles propounded by Dr. King in his courageous dissent from LBJ’s criminal war in Vietnam now mandate that we direct our protests at Vladimir Putin. Listen on SoundCloudor via Patreon. (Photo: MLK at anti-war march in Chicago, March 25, 1967, under banner with quote from Vietnamese pacifist Thich Nhat Hanh. Via Portland Observer)

Europe
kosova

De-escalation on Kosovo-Serbia border —for now

Kosovo reopened its main border crossing with Serbia following calls from the international community to de-escalate rapidly rising tensions between the two countries. Serb protesters removed barricades along the crossing following a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar VuÄŤić. An order issued by VuÄŤić days earlier to increase the Serbian army’s combat readiness was also revoked. However, VuÄŤić insisted that Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, is still a part of Serbia. Tensions have risen in Kosovo’s north between minority Serbs and majority Kosovar Albanians over recent political developments, most notably Kosovo’s plan to phase out Serbian-issued license plates. NATO maintains around 4,000 “peacekeepers” and support staff in Kosovo. (Photo: Marco Fieber via e-International Relations)

Europe
ReichsbĂĽrger

Podcast: Russia, Ukraine & the ReichsbĂĽrger cult

In Episode 155 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the accusations that the coup conspiracy by the ultra-right ReichsbĂĽrger cult in Germany was Russian “hybrid warfare.” The plausibility of this claim reveals the degree to which far-right forces around the world today look to Moscow for tutelage and sponsorship. Volodymyr Zelensky’s historic Congressional speech was dissed in the most vulgar terms by Tucker Carlson—whose comments were avidly promoted by RT, the official Russian state propaganda outlet, as per explicit instructions from the Kremlin. This same RT similarly promotes Putin-shilling voices of the “tankie” pseudo-left. Our rightist enemies are enthused by the genocidal regimes of both Syria’s Bashar Assad (backed by Russia) and the Argentine generals of the 1970s (backed by the US). They’ve rallied around Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, as well as the neo-Ustashe in Croatia. It is only confused “leftists,” indoctrinated by campism and accustomed to seeing everything in terms of geopolitics, who fail to recognize the fascism on both sides—and get taken in by fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Despite the left’s obsessive fixation on the Azov Battalion, reactionary forces around the world are looking to Putin as their great leader—not Zelensky. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via EU Political Report)

Europe
Duma

Russia: bill to remove liability for war crimes

The Russian State Duma passed the first reading a bill concerning the use of Russian criminal law in territories of Ukraine that Russia now occupies. The bill includes a provision stipulating that a deed considered criminal under either Russian or Ukrainian law is not to be qualified as a crime if it “aimed to protect interests of the Russian Federation.” Saying that passage of the bill would constitute “impunity made law,” Amnesty International warned: “Russian servicepeople should remember that even if this unprecedented bill is eventually passed, it will not override international law and will not protect war criminals from eventually facing trials abroad under universal jurisdiction.” (Photo: State Duma via Xinhua)

Europe
ReichsbĂĽrger

ReichsbĂĽrger plot: Russian ‘hybrid aggression’?

The Brussels-based pro-EU think-tank International Foundation for Better Governance (IFBG) is calling the apparent thwarted ultra-right plot to overthrow the German government by the so-called “ReichsbĂĽrger” movement “a classic example of the hybrid aggression of the Russian Federation.” The statement notes that chancellor Olaf Scholz, apparently one of those marked for “physical elimination” in the ReichsbĂĽrger plot, is a key supporter of Ukraine among Western leaders, and was chiefly responsible for the recent German donation of Gepard mobile anti-aircraft systems to the Kyiv government. IFBG concludes: “The circumstances demand that Russia must be completely isolated, receive the maximum possible sanctions and be recognised as a terrorist state by the parliaments of Western countries.” (Photo of 2013 ReichsbĂĽrger rally in Berlin via WikimediaCommons. Banner reads: “The German people, freed from Napoleon in 1813, freed from EU-fascism in 2013”)

Europe
Ukraine

Podcast: against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine III

In Episode 153 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out Putin-apologist Medea Benjamin, whose current book tour has happily met with protest from the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign. While Benjamin favorably re-tweets the crude spewings of Marjorie Taylor Greene, her Orwellianly-entitled book, War in Ukraine: Making Sense of A Senseless Conflict, is far slicker propaganda, affecting a progressive tone—possibly due to the influence of her co-author Nicolas J.S. Davies. However, the litany of inaccuracy and distortion on nearly every page reveals it as more pseudo-pacifist war propaganda aimed at justifying Putin’s aggression and putting pressure on Ukraine to capitulate in the paradoxical name of “peace.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: PCL)

Europe
Pushilin

Podcast: Ukraine: against the ‘Nazi’ calumny

In Episode 152 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the relentless propaganda exploitation of the Azov Battalion to tar Ukraine as “Nazi” by the same pseudo-left hucksters (e.g. the inevitable Grayzone) who engage in shameless shilling for the fascist regime of Bashar Assad in Syria—which is beloved of the radical right and which employed fugitive Nazis to train its security forces. These hucksters also (of course) join with far-right figures such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and NickFuentes in openly rooting for Putin and opposing aid to Ukraine. And while hyperventilating about the Azov Battalion (which years ago purged its far-right leadership), they make no note of the Nazis fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine. This is both pseudo-pacifist war propaganda and fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-backed Donetsk “People’s Republic,” giving an award to one of his thugs who is wearing two Nazi insignia on his sleeve. Credit: The Sun. Fair use rights asserted)

Europe
Holodomor

Germany recognizes Holodomor as genocide

The German Bundestag voted to formally recognize the Holodomor, a politically induced famine that decimated Ukraine in 1932-3, as a genocide. The declaration found that Soviet authorities demanded inflated quantities of grain from Ukrainian farmers and punished those who fell short with additional demands. Affected regions were cut off from the rest of the Soviet Union so that Ukrainians could not receive aid. As a result, approximately 3.5 million Ukrainians starved to death. The Bundestag characterized the Holodomor as a project of Joseph Stalin to suppress the Ukrainian “way of life, language and culture,” and one of the most “unimaginable crimes against humanity” in Europe’s history. The motion also recognized Germany’s own history of genocide and the Bundestag’s “special responsibility” to acknowledge and condemn crimes against humanity. Ukraine declared the Holodomor a genocide in 2006. (Photo: 2019 Holodomor remembrance in Kyiv. Credit: EuroMaidan Press)