Western European News Digest
Litvinenko Murder Indictment Is British Move vs. Russia
May 23 (EIRNS)London's Crown Prosecutor's office yesterday indicted a Russian citizen for the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence (FSB) official, and the bodyguard of Russian fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The British government demanded from Moscow the extradition of Russian citizen Andrey Lugovoy for the murder of Litvinenko.
The British intent is clearly political. Under the headline, "Facing Up to a Reckless Russia," the Financial Times writes: "Europe and the U.S. need to adopt a policy of robust engagement with Moscow. This has already begun with the UK's action yesterday and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel straight-talking to Mr. Putin at an EU-Russia summit last week."
In Moscow, the Attorney General rejected the extradition request. The Crown Prosecutors base their accusations on the fact that Lugovoy met Litvinenko in London before Litvinenko discovered (or, announced) that he had been poisoned. Police have not yet been able to provide a motive for the murder.
British prosecutors could look in the direction of another man who met Litvinenko the same day as LugovoyLitvinenko's Italian crony Mario Scaramella. Scaramella sits in an Italian jail, accused of having fabricated, together with Litvinenko, dossiers with false information aimed at slandering Italian politicians who opposed neo-con policies, including current Premier Romano Prodi. Scaramella was an advisor to Sen. Paolo Guzzanti, chairman of a parliamentary committee to investigate past KGB activities in Italy. The committee was set up on the basis of a report by KGB archivist Vassily Mithrokin, released by Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence agency.
Among the other concoctions, Scaramella and Litvinenko had fabricated a Russian plot to kill Guzzanti, to give credibility to their anti-KGB investigations. Yesterday, an Italian court established that four Ukrainians arrested in Italy for this "plot," are innocent, and that the murder plot was an invention.
Gas Industry Rejects EU Face-Off with Russia
May 24 (EIRNS)In a demonstrative act of dissent against the Western geopoliticians who turned last week's EU-Russia Summit into a Cold War-style showdown, leaders of the three biggest gas companies in Europe issued a joint statement in Berlin yesterday, reaffirming their commitment to expanded cooperation with Russia. According to a front-page report in today's International Herald Tribune, the gas industrialists called for greater political support for increased business ties with the Russian energy giant Gazprom, saying growing tensions between Moscow and the European Union should not be allowed to jeopardize energy security.
"It is about long-term contracts, infrastructure joint ventures and asset swaps," said Uwe Fip, senior vice president of E.ON Ruhrgas. Edouard Sauvage, vice president of the supply division of Gaz de France, said the strategy toward Russia was to have reliable and secure contracts for energy delivery. "Russia is our neighbor," said Jean-Marie Devos, secretary general of Eurogas, the agency that represents the industry. "We should take energy on its own merits and not let the political climate affect it." E.ON Ruhrgas, the only non-Russian company to have a seat on Gazprom's board, is part of the Russian-German consortium building the $12.1 billion North European Gas Pipeline, which will allow Russia to bypass Poland by sending gas to Europe under the Baltic Sea. This project "needs political support, otherwise no one will take the risk," Fip said.
Next British PM Brown Is 'The Tax Avoiders' Chancellor'
May 19 (EIRNS)Gordon Brown, who is set to succeed Tony Blair as British Prime Minister on June 27, has taken the lead, in his ten years as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in making British Commonwealth "offshore centers" safe havens for wealthy individuals and corporations avoiding taxes; Brown has also made London itself such an "offshore center." Thus both the British head of government and the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union (C. Boyden Gray) will be resolute opponents of any actions by European governmentor the U.S. Congressto crack down on the tax avoidance and outright tax evasion through those centers. It costs the U.S. and European governments hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue every year.
The British Tax Justice Network (TJN), a group of "veterans" of international economics who expose the scope and methods of tax dodging through globalization, have published a dossier on Brown, "The Tax-Avoiders' Chancellor." TJN reports that so-called "high net worth individuals" have $11 trillion stowed in offshore centers for tax avoidancenot to mention the use of these centers for tax avoidance by multinational corporations, hedge funds, etc.
Italy: Trade Unions Mobilize vs. Shipyard Privatization
May 19 (EIRNS)Italian trade unions are mobilizing against government plans to privatize Italy's largest shipbuilding company, and to outsource more than 30,000 jobs. The National Coordination committee of the metalworkers union Fiom-CGIL denounced plans to sell 49% of the shares in Fincantieri on the stock market, as a plot to bankrupt the company. A white paper issued by the committee points out that the annual profit of Fincantieri is only 2%incompatible with stock-market requirements. To make it "profitable" will require dismantling the productive firm, outsourcing jobs to cheaper labor markets in Romania, and selling the properties for real estate speculation.
Currently, Fincantieri employs 9,300 workers directly, and more than 30,000 indirectly, through subcontracts. Union sources have told EIR that the current management has shown a reckless disregard for any improvement of the industrial capital.
The unions are confident that they can defeat the government plan; they operate through a national coordinating committee which includes the mayors of the major shipyard cities, Trieste, Genoa, Ancona, Palermo, Castellammare, and Marghera. Parliament Deputy Andrea Ricci, who supports LaRouche's New Bretton Woods policy, is collecting signatures for a motion to stop the sale of Fincantieri.
Welsh Assembly May Be Headed for Another Election
May 18 (EIRNS)The Anglo-Dutch Liberal financiers' drive for globalization has created a state of ungovernability throughout Europe. The current state of affairs in Wales, following recent elections, reflects precisely this situation. Following reports that the Welsh Liberal Democrats, with six seats in the 60-seat Welsh Assembly, have suspended talks with the Labour Party in Wales (the largest party, with 26 seats), analysts pointed out that another Assembly election may take place to break the logjam. According to the Welsh law, an assembly government must be formed within 28 days of the election to avoid a new election. According to that law, the government must be formed by May 31.
It has also being mooted that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are now ready to open talks with Plaid Cymru (with 15 seats) and the Conservatives (with 12 seats). "We have given clarity to our position, and what we have said very clearly, is that we wish to see if we can negotiate a strong and robust three-party government for Wales," said Mike German, the Liberal Democratic Party's Assembly leader. "But if we can't do that, obviously we will have to look at other alternatives at the end of it," German added.
One of the reasons why German was less than confident about the new coalition efforts, is because any deal that the Liberal Dems make will have to be endorsed by a special party conference on May 26.
Meanwhile, Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan has said that his party is "not yet resigned to opposition." Another Labour leader, Lord Elis-Thomas, has posed a new challenge by telling BBC, "What is important to me from a constitutional point of view, is that we should get a government that reflects what the people voted for. We should raise our eyes beyond Westminster, and look at what happens on mainland Europe, look at what happens in New Zealand and other places."
Another Arson Attack Targets Leading German Editor
May 22 (EIRNS)German newswires report today that the private car of Kai Diekmann, chief editor of Germany's largest mass-tabloid Bildzeitung, was destroyed by an anonymous arson attack in Hamburg. The mode of operation resembles about 20 more such attacks on cars and offices of leading businessmen and political prominents in northern German cities such as Hamburg, since the beginning of 2007. The attacks were carried out by adversaries of the upcoming early June G-8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, and although the attack last night in Hamburg has so far not been claimed by any extremist group, a connection with the "anti-G8-summit" campaign is not ruled out.
The arson attacks have been the first pattern of targetted attacks on leaders of business and politics in Germany, since the Baader-Meinhof terrorism of the "strategy of tension" period in the 1970s and 1980s, which then claimed 30 victims. The new terror campaign, which so far has not involved attempted assassinations (which were the modus operandi of the 1970s and 1980s), occurs in the context of fierce global economic-financial warfare over the future of the speculative bubble.
In this fight, Germany is a special battlefield because of the German government's insistence on partial control and transparency of hedge funds. Furthermore, the strong industrial tradition, particularly in machine-building, which makes Germany an ally to any potential FDR-policy revival in the United States, and moreover a crucial trade partner for Russia and the rest of Eurasia, are features that qualify Germany as a target of a new "strategy of tension." The connection between speculative funds and their vested interests in the bubble's survival, and terrorists as their stormtroopers against political adversaries, has been documented in a mass pamphlet ("Schreibtischtaeter II""Armchair Assassins II"), issued by the LaRouche organization in Germany, more than 100,000 copies of which have been distributed, since mid-March.