Ukrainian nurse Galina Kolotyntska abandons Gadhafi

Ukrainian nurse Galina Kolotyntska and Gadhafi. (photo: Zimbio)

Libyan dictator Moammar al-Gadhafi was abandoned by yet another close confidant — his Ukrainian nurse. Described in WikiLeaks documents as a “voluptuous blonde” who “knows his routine” with the suggestion that the two might be lovers, a U.S. diplomatic cable said the Libyan dictator was deeply attached to Galina Kolotyntska, a 38-year-old nurse from the Kyiv region. 

The Moscow Times reported that Channel 5 TV showed Kolotyntska to be among the passengers who arrived in Kiev in the early hours Sunday on a plane that evacuated 122 Ukrainians and 68 foreign nationals from the violence-torn North African country. Channel 5 briefly showed a blonde woman walking in the airport terminal in Kiev with her family and from there she traveled by car in her family home near Kiev.

The daughter of the nurse, Tatiana, had told the Ukrainian daily newspaper Segodnya that her mother was shocked by the violence in Libya and that she intended to return to Ukraine, after nine years in Libya.

Along with the United States, Britain has frozen assets that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family held in the country. The value is estimated to be worth about 20 billion pounds.

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Russian President calls for end of violence in Libya

(Saint Petersburg) The Russian government has expressed deep concern about the events taking place in Libya. President Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement that the mass killings of citizens are cause for profound sorrow.

President Medvedev is briefed by Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov before boarding the Presidential airplane.

The President said that “Russia condemns the use of force against civilians sanctioned by the country’s leadership. We resolutely call on Libya’s current authorities and all responsible political figures in the country to show restraint in order to prevent further deterioration of the situation and deaths of civilians. Such acts, if they continue, will be qualified as crimes with all the ensuing consequences under international law.”

President Medvedev made his remarks after meeting with the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, who is visiting St Petersburg for diplomatic talks and just prior for a working meeting with the Governor of St Petersburg, Valentina Matviyenko.

Saint Petersburg is Russia’s European capital and Russia’s 2nd largest city/region. The Russian Federation spans over half of Asia and 49 percent of Europe with the main centre of government in Moscow.

New anti-corruption bill goes to the Russian Duma.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted new legislation to the State Duma (Parliament) in the President’s continued fight against corruption. A draft of the Federal Law On Amendments to the Russian Federation Criminal Code and the Russian Federation Administrative Offences Code Aimed at Improvement of State Policy in Countering Corruptio was handed to the Duma for lawmakers to study.

The draft law introduces provisions to the Criminal Code stipulating the fines for commercial kickbacks and the giving and taking of bribes at 100 times the sum involved. The bill would require the Russian Administrative Offences Code to be supplemented with a new chapter on legal assistance in cases of administrative offences involving legal proceedings in other countries, above all with regard to legal entities on whose behalf or in whose interests bribes were paid.

The Presidential administration and Russia’s Supreme Court have both given the draft law a positive assessment.

Pressure on Ukraine to explain Tymoshenko investigation

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich speaks to reports in Kyiv (Kiev).

The current presidential administration in Ukraine is taking on more heat regarding the investigation into the possible prosecution of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Answering journalists’ question whether the General Prosecutor’s Office decision to prepare charges against Yulia Tymoshenko was justified, President Viktor Yanukovych said: “I agree that there should be no law enforcement agencies rush in these issues. In any case, all these issues should be decided by the courts. But without any court decision, a person is free, and cannot be blamed or restricted in anything.”

Writing in a widely quoted editorial, Tymoshenko wrote that “democracy must be rooted in the rule of law. There must be accepted rules that are binding on everyone in politics, so that whoever does not accept or obey them is disqualified. Yanukovich’s naked attempt to hijack the election that precipitated the Orange Revolution should have caused him to be banned from running in future elections. Yet he was not.

Now, as president, Yanukovich’s crude instinct is to treat the law and constitution as Karl Marx thought of them: as a mixture of sentimentality, superstition – and the unconscious rationalisation of private interests. Stealing elections, suppressing the vote, and behaving in contempt of the rule of law are negations of democracy. Those who engage in them must be seen as democracy’s enemies – and treated as such.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

A second lesson follows from this. The fact that a government has been democratically elected does not mean that the cause of freedom has prevailed. The rest of the world must not turn a blind eye to authoritarian backsliding. Yet today, not only are many of Ukraine’s neighbours silent about Yanukovich’s strangulation of Ukraine’s democracy – but some openly celebrate the supposed “stability” that his regime has imposed. For decades, Egyptians and Tunisians paid a high a price in freedom for the stability of others. They must never be asked, or forced, to pay it again.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko also admitted that pressure on the Ukrainian government to justify the Tymoshenko investigations has grown more intense in recent weeks. 

Ukrainian President Yanukovich told reporters that fighting corruption implies disregarding political alliances. “Fighting corruption should not have any connection to politics. And moreover, it should not arouse the impression that there is a selective approach,” he said.

Journalist denied entry into Russia

More developments on the story of Luke Harding, the UK journalist who was denied re-entry into Russia last week after a return home had been in London for the last two months, working on The Guardian’s coverage of WikiLeaks. Harding, who writes full time for The Guardian, is normally based in Moscow.

On Saturday, 05 February, his flight landed at Moscow’s Domodedovo (recently bombed-see more stories here) airport at 4:10 p.m and Harding made his way to passport control just like every other time he’d flown back into Russia. This time things were different however as the customs agent called over a supervisor who informed the journalist that “The Russian Federation is closed to you.”  After spending several hours in a holding cell Harding was put on a flight back to London.

As it turns out, Luke Harding is perhaps the one foreign journalist that the Russian Foreign Ministry most dislikes. Brave, to be sure, Harding has written on topic that few other journalists have dared to touch–like the personal fortune of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, reported to be over $40 Billion, as just one example.

According to the journal on Foreign Policy, in November Harding was summoned to the Foreign Ministry where he was informed that his visa and accreditation would not be renewed. However just one day before the visa expired the Foreign Ministry granted the Hardings a six-month visa for his two teenage children to finish the school year. That was the visa extension on which Harding flew to Moscow on 5 February to re-enter the country.

The Russian Foreign Minister has been in London on talks to smooth out Russia’s somewhat rocky relations with the UK and it is widely expected that the topic of Luke Hardings’ visa has been included on the agenda. Harding’s wife and 2 children remain in Russia.

President Medvedev inspects Vnukovo Airport

Accompanied by Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, and Transport Minister Igor Levitin Russian President Dmitry Medvedev toured the public areas of Moscow’s Vunkovo airport to gain first hand knowledge on how checks at the entrance to the airport are performed, inspected the waiting area, the passport control zones and the arrivals area.

President Medvedev leads inspection of Vnukovo Airport.

Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) is a major airport located 28 kilometres (17 mi) southwest from the centre of Moscow, Russia. It is one of three major airports serving Moscow along with Domodedovo International Airport and Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Mr Medvedev ended his inspection by visiting the airport’s police station. The President instructed the Interior Ministry to overhaul the way police operates at transport facilities and increase the number of officers there. Implementation of the Presidential instructions on beefing up transport security will be examined at a special meeting in mid-February.

Dmitry Medvedev ordered regional governors, together with the presidential plenipotentiary envoys to the federal districts, to carry out similar inspections at the main infrastructure facilities in their regions.

Yesterday the President inspected Moscow’s busy Kievsky railroad station.

One of the most important of Moscow's nine rail terminals, Kievsky was featured in the 2004 spy movie, 'The Bourne Supremacy' starring Matt Damon.

State of the Domodedovo bombing investigation

The Prime Minister and the chief investigators told the public  and the State Duma that the case had been solved. The PM went as far to declare that there was no Chechnya connection. No arrests or conclusion were presented to the public however.

Today the report by Itar-Tass, the State news service released more details as published in the Moscow Times. It seems to be a sorted mess. Now we find that an arrest took place on 3 February, a week ago, after a car accident.

Was it a legal arrest? Who knows, because it took until the last couple of days for court to sanction the arrest. What was the hold-up? What happened that it took 6 days for the court to approve a warrant for an arrest that had already transpired?

It seems that the man arrested had grievances with Russian police was the man who carried out the Domodedovo bombing apparently was the brother in law of a man who was killed by Russian military police last August. That brother in law, Bekkhan Bogatyryov, was alleged to have been a radical Muslim rebel leader in the Ingush region and apparently killed when Russian Interior Ministry forces ambushed a rebel safe house in Ingushetia.

Then of course Doku Umarov, a Chechen terrorist leader who is sought after by the Russian military, claimed responsibility for the bombing. Russian investigators scoffed at the suggestion as recently as yesterday.

Today nobody is scoffing and Bashir Khamkhoyev, the man arrested on 3 February, is now identified as being a possible liaison for the Ingush rebel leadership. The man who carried the Domodedovo bomb was Magomed, the brother of Fatima Yevloyeva who is the wife of the man arrested last week. Investigators believe that family members helped him to prepare the bomb and escorted him to a Moscow-bound bus some time ahead of the blast.

Did someone mention that the FSB had blown up the family’s house back in house back in August? Supposedly that was done because there were bombs inside. That is a convenient way to get rid of bombs—no messy evidence collection and calling in a bomb squad to disable the devices and run tests to trace the origins of the materials. Just blow it all up and go home.

So where do the Swedes come in? Now. Wait, the Swedish? According to at least one news organization, cars from the Swedish Embassy in Moscow were used to deliver the bomb to Domodedovo. The Nezavisimaya Gazeta however quoted Moscow Police spokesman Sergei Gulyayev as denying reports about the Danish Embassy’s cars being wanted in connection with the attack

Apparently Russia will ask the United States to add rebel leader Umarov, the self-claimed mastermind of the blast, to the international list of terrorists.

So, where is the investigation? Has the case been “solved” again? Will there be more arrests and announcements of court dates? In view of so many deaths and suffering by so many, here’s hoping that this doesn’t turn into a circus.