Yes, it’s a fact. Yes, we’re fining you for posting it.

From the You Could Not Make This Up department, as reported by the Register:

The Russian Supreme Court has upheld a conviction against a blogger who correctly noted that the Soviet Union jointly invaded Poland with the Nazi government in 1939.

The truly bizarre decision follows the conviction of 37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin earlier this year for posting “knowingly false information,” under a new law that is supposed to prevent the glorification of Nazism, but which critics say is being used to rewrite Russian history and quash critics of Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

Luzgin was fined 200,000 roubles ($3,000) for correctly stating that the Soviet Union had collaborated with the Nazis to invade Poland in 1939.

This is what Luzgin wrote:

“The communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off the Second World War. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated, yet for some reason they blame Bandera, who was in a German concentration camp, for declaring Ukrainian independence.”

Yes, it’s all factually correct. Yes, they fined him for it.

Despite the collaboration being an historical fact, the Supreme Court decided that Luzgin’s post constituted a “public denial of the Nuremberg Trials” and provided “false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of the Second World War.”

A report of the trial by an organization monitoring human rights in Ukraine noted that history professor Alexander Vertinsky acted for the prosecution and argued that the post “did not correspond with the position accepted at international level.”

I am so glad Alexander Vertinsky never taught me history! Do you think the Putin regime remains nervous about the history of Russian-Nazi co-operation? Or is it more significant that they have Ukraine firmly in their sights?

Truly Orwellian.

Check out the rest of the report here.

Economist goes from bad to worse

In response to this article at the Economist, the Elder of Ziyon posted the following comment:

The right for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount is enshrined in numerous UN resolutions like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. It is a basic civil and human right for Jews to be allowed to peacefully visit and pray on their holiest spot.

It is curious that The Economist is coming out against civil rights for Jews.

Why is that? Because the Muslims there threaten violence – and now they are murdering Jews in the name of Islam!

Civil rights are not dependent on the veto power of extremists to threaten violence. There are numerous videos of Jews visiting the Temple Mount, and not one of them shows any of them doing anything the least bit provocative. On the other hand, their quiet strolls are greeted with screams, threats and occasional violence.

Yet The Economist seems determined to label the Jews who want equal rights as the agitators and the Muslim rioters as the victims of Israeli aggression.

The Economist’s idea of the “status quo” is completely wrong. Before 2000, Jews were able to visit the Mount and no one objected if visitors quietly prayed. Before 1967, of course, Jews were forbidden altogether. Perhaps that is the “status quo” that The Economist prefers to see.

Modern liberals are supposed to defend civil rights, to stand up for those being threatened by bigots. One must wonder why The Economist believes that in this case those making the threats are in the right and civil rights for Jews are not important.

When you pick and choose which human rights you are in favor of, you can no longer call yourself an advocate for human rights.

As you can see here, after getting 50+ approvals, the moderators removed it. Like the Elder, I could not and cannot see any good reason for this action. (I did read their terms of use.) So, I posted his comment on my own account. I also added this from the Elder:

“Apparently, The Economist’s interest in freedom of expression is exactly as strong as its support for human rights.”

Now my posts have been removed, too. I have been censored. The Elder has been censored.

I will gladly stand corrected if anyone at the Economist would point out what is – allegedly – wrong with the material. It appears, in the absence of any explanation, that somebody has made a bad mistake – with the article in the first place – and is trying to cover their tracks in a cack handed fashion. Or there’s a genuine – albeit misguided – belief that the censorship is appropriate. But until there is an explanation, my hunch is that, to quote a certain fictional soldier: they don’t like it up em

No twitter for you!

From AP via Times of Israel:

Iran’s culture minister is urging authorities to unblock social media networks that are widely used by government figures but remain officially banned, the state news agency said Tuesday.

I sure as hell have been asleep at the wheel for a while, it seems. I must have missed all the protests and campaigning for human rights – like free speech – for Iranians. Bugger.

The appeal reflects another point of tension between the moderate-leaning government of President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s hard-liners. Rouhani does not have the authority to make decisions such as freeing up social media, which is seen as an internal security matter and under the sway of groups such as the powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Where does “moderate-leaning” come from? Is that fact, or opinion? (Obviously, we expect AP to label Bibi Netanyahu as “right-wing”, because that’s what the media are supposed to do to bolshy Israelis who have the temerity to stand up for their country.) I mean “moderate-pretending” or “two-faced” might be more accurate in many people’s minds…

The report by IRNA quotes Culture Minister Ali Jannati as saying all social networks, particularly Facebook, should be accessible.

Surely we can do Iranian productivity a favor by banning them from Facebook as a part of the current sanctions? Is that too cruel?

Some government officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, post extensively on Facebook and Twitter. Many ordinary Iranians use proxy servers and other methods to bypass the ban.

“Do as I say,” not “do as I do.” Again. Hypocritical. Again.

Stopping for Tiananmen

Extracted from a post at the Register:

Today, June 4th, is the 24th anniversary of what China calls the “counterrevolutionary riot” in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square .

Much of the rest of the world records the incident as a massacre, after Chinese troops ended protests in the square by dealing out lethal force.

China now represses discussion about the events of 4 June, 1989, and extends restrictions online by declaring today to be “Internet maintenance day”.

Whether sysadmins really do get the day off to install some patches and tune up their servers isn’t known, but on past June 4ths several websites in China do go down for the duration of the day. The under-maintenance sites have included blogs and sites that don’t always toe the party line.

A day or two after the anniversary has passed, the sites promptly finish their maintenance and get back to business.

China doesn’t announce which sites will be undergoing maintenance that conveniently coincides with the anniversary, so it’s not possible to know which publishers will decide to opt for a bit of downtime today.

Mr naive here, on a visit to China a few years back, sat down in his hotel room to plug in his laptop and surf the web. There were difficulties in getting on to certain sites – notably blogs – and there was a certain amount of headscratching until the penny (shekel?) dropped: the authorities were actively blocking access to these ‘undesirable’ sites.

I felt sick. I felt fear. This was the first time in my life I had come face to face with censorship on such a scale. (Co-incidentally, one of my work colleagues reminded me today that YouTube is inaccessible from mainland China unless you use a proxy server.) My freedom was being curtailed and I did not like it one bit.

This up to date representation of what the authorities in China get up to is both laughable and offensive.

Who is doing anything meaningful to change the situation?