December 1, 2013 by AK
Ten years ago, I wrote about her and the 1968 Red Square Seven on my old blog, imperfectly imported here. (Post slightly edited.)
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November 27, 2013 by AK
Thomas Laqueur in the LRB, reviewing Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914:
Clark, however, begins with an earlier terrorist act, the grotesque murder in 1903 of the Serbian King Alexander and his wife, Draga, by a small group of officers acting as part of a larger conspiracy…
One of the plotters – Dragutin Dimitrijević, ‘Apis’ (the Serbian word for ‘bull’) as he was known – would in 1911 become a founding member of the secret, ultra-nationalist organisation Union or Death, a.k.a. the Black Hand.
Apis? That’s some ancient bull-god as far as I could remember. Egyptian, in fact. How come it was adopted by Serbian, of all languages? Google Translate gives “bik” and “vo” but no mention of Apis. Nothing like Apis in Greek, Turkish, Albanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Croatian. That’s as far as Google Translator goes, of course, since I don’t have proper dictionaries for these languages.
But it looks to me that Dragutin Dimitrijević was nicknamed Apis after that horned god.
November 26, 2013 by AK
It’s pretty obvious to me now that Italian prosecutors and lawyers are well trained in sophistry, casuistry, Jesuitism and such. Their Russian counterparts are slowtard hicks and redneck louts in comparison. They’ve made some progress lately but it’s still a long way to go. That’s why Russian judicial corruption is relatively easy to see and to understand.
Take Khodorkovsky’s and Lebedev’s second trial. It was a joke, legally speaking – a crude, unsophisticated, soldierly joke. Navalny’s trial? A marginal improvement – fake charges but some perverse procedural sophistication emerging. Pussy Riot? Greenpeace? Good for purpose but legally obnoxious, both cases.
They should have invited Italian prosecutors and judges. They would have packed Khodorkovsky off to prison with the combined elegance of a Perugian artisan and a Florentine torturer.
November 26, 2013 by AK
Prosecutor Crini got more aggressive today, telling more lies and attacking independent and defense experts with particular odium. He basically suggested that professor Vecchiotti of La Sapient University should not have meddled into the dirty dealings of the country’s central police laboratory – which she did by exposing 54 errors in the work of one of its technicians, Patrizia Stefanoni.
Crini also played the scientist in the courtroom. He said he was familiar with DNA from “cold cases” whatever that means. He then proceeded to criticize Vecchiotti’s report as if he were qualified to do so, even citing scientific articles!
This is of course ridiculous. Italian courts and lawyers believe they can pass judgment on scientific matters. Must be an aftertaste from the Galileo trial. Italy’s supreme court questioned Vecchiotti’s findings in the same ruling where it opined that heroin does not impact memory. Now it’s Crini playing the know-it-all.
In a US courtroom, it would be like this: here’s Ms. Stefanoni for the prosecution, BSc from a 60+-ranked Italian university; a string of temporary jobs with various hospitals, now a technical functionary with he police lab. Here’s Prof. Novelli for the same, an accomplished geneticist with zero forensic experience. And here’s Prof. Vecchiotti for the defense, 30 years in forensic biology, lab director at a top three school, relevant publications and all. And here’s Prof. Tagliabracci for the defense, author of a textbook on forensic genetics. And here’s Prof. Torre for the defense, one of Italy’s most respected independent forensic experts… And so on. There would be no argument over credibility as the defense team would simply overwhelm with their qualifications. There was not one independent forensic professional on the prosecution’s witness list.
Plus, there are those Daubert and Frye hearings in the US to determine what expert evidence gets admitted and what does not. Italy’s standards of evidence at non-existent in comparison.
Crini told a couple of straight-laced lies towards the end of his (essentially boring) shtick, saying the imprint on the bedsheet is “compatible” with the large kitchen knife. No it’s not unless you put on distorting spectacles.
November 25, 2013 by AK
In the Knox-Sollecito trial/circus – now in Florence – Prosecutor Crini began his “summation” today, which is really a long, boring rehashing of the same pseudo-evidence that has been long discredited by the defense and independent experts. Crini probably knows how defense will rebut his arguments but he must go on.
For instance, he talks of a female shoe print on the victim’s pillowcase even though it was clearly shown in 2009 that there was no such print. Clearly as in, anyone with half a brain can see it. Yet the guy thinks he can get away with an obvious lie.
And why does Crini have no new facts to rely on and has to regurgitate old claims, no matter how thoroughly debunked? That’s because the fact-finding phase of this third trial failed to yield new facts favorable to the prosecution.
One witness repeated his extravagant theory that his brother had killed the British girl. Two Carabinieri officers have tested the kitchen knife, found no victim’s DNA, and produced an unexpectedly professional report. It contrasts with the criminal sloppiness of Patrizia Stefanoni, the police expert exposed as a quack by by two independent academics during the 2011 trial.
November 25, 2013 by AK
As of this afternoon, I believe 29 of the 30 Greenpeace activists from the Arctic Sunrise had been granted bail and 28 had been freed. One Briton was still in jail on a technicality. They can even leave Russia pending trial. Colin Russell, the ship’s radio operator, has been ordered detained for three more month.
It’s all good and well but the ridiculous charges of hooliganism are still pending. What a sad comedy.
November 24, 2013 by AK
Shortly after the Boston marathon bombings, the media reported that the Tsarnaev brothers were brainwashed by an Islamic preacher known as “Misha.” It turned out that Misha was neither Islamic nor a preacher nor a brainwasher. His full name is Mikhail Allakhverdov; his father was Armenian and his mother, Ukrainian; his parents had lived in Baku until the early 1990s when, following anti-Armenian pogroms, they left and apparently managed to obtain refugee status in the US.
Not an unusual flight, unfortunately – there are quite a few Armenian Muscovites who had lived in the capital of Azerbaijan when it was a Soviet republic but had to leave in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Baku had been a multiethnic city for decades and perhaps centuries, with large Armenian, Jewish and Russian communities, but it all changed for the Armenians after the Karabakh conflict flared up in 1988. The Jews and other Russian speakers gradually left during the 1990s as far as I know.
What’s unusual about this – apart from the other false claims – is that according to some netizens, Mikhail “Misha” Allakhverdov’s last name was not genuinely Armenian. Aha! they cried. In reality, there is nothing “suspicious” about that name. Google or Yandex Аллахвердов AND Армения and you’ll find plenty of genuinely Armenian Allakhverdovs.
Take Andrey Allakhverdov, one of the Greenpeace 30, the group’s spokesman recently granted bail by a St. Petersburg court. He was born in Yerevan but has lived in Moscow since he was two. I cannot find the link but I think someone suggested that he was a descendant of the Soviet spy Mikhail Allakhverdov, a Soviet resident in Turkey and Afghanistan in the 1930-40s. He was an Armenian from Shusha in Nagorny Karabakh (see Mandeshtam’s poem <I>The Phaeton Driver (Faetonschik)</i>).
There is also a region of Armenia called Alaverdi.
It is not at all unusual for Armenian names to be derived from other languages. Take Melikov or Melikyan, for instance, clearly going back to the Arab word for “king.” According to Wikipedia, ”…Armenia was constantly fought over and passed back and forth between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans. At the height of the Ottoman-Persian wars, Yerevan changed hands fourteen times between 1513 and 1737.”
That’s why we should expect both Turkic and Persian roots in Armenian names. Unfortunately I cannot say whether “Allakhverdov” has anything to do with “Allah verdi” meaning “God gave” in Turkish. I don’t know if it is connected to the region of Alaverdi or to the name of the Persian general Allahverdi Khan, a convert of Georgian descent; or the old Persian and modern Armenian word “vard,” “rose.” But it’s definitely not “un-Armenian.”
October 27, 2013 by AK
Russia has announced that it will be replacing the original piracy charges against the Greenpeace 30 with hooliganism and, for some, resistance to lawful authorities.
Hooliganism is becoming a one size fits all charge – unexpectedly linking Pussy Riot and the Greenpeace 30.
October 26, 2013 by AK
Greenpeace’s Russian lawyers unearthed a curious court ruling dating back to 2009. The Gazprom unit which owns the Prirazlomnaya platform was involved in a dispute with the tax authorities over value added tax (VAT) reimbursement. To get the VAT back, Gazprom had to prove that the platform was not a ship but a stationary installation. The arbitration court agreed and Gazprom won the case.
October 22, 2013 by AK
The Netherlands’ foreign minister Frans Timmermans said on 4 October that he would launch legal action in an international tribunal to free the Arctic Sunrise and her crew.
Yesterday the Netherlands officially lodged the lawsuit with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg (ITLOS).
Long overdue, it seems to me. Russian border guards fired at the GP activists, then stormed and seized the GP ship clearly outside of the country’s territorial waters.
It will probably take two or three weeks before the court hears the case, and two more weeks later the ruling should be announced.