"Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice."
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The International Foundation for Better Governance (IFBG) has today published an extensive investigation by award winning journalists Philip Braund and Colin Stevens on the issue of granting asylum in the UK to fugitive bankers from the former Soviet Union, who are accused of fraud and other illegal activities in their homeland.
The multi-page document for the first time presents to the general public a dossier on three natives of Russia - Sergey Pugachev, Georgy Bedzhamov and Anatoly Motylev, as well as a financier from Kazakhstan Mukhtar Ablyazov. Readers have a good chance to get acquainted with detailed facts of their criminal activities, the amounts stolen from clients of financial organizations headed by them, as well as other acts of fraud.
The most important thing in this document is that some of these fraudsters are still hiding in the UK, and thus they are living here under the protection of the British crown. Although in respect of some of them there are court decisions taken in the UK.
The investigation highlights the fact that a number of prominent politicians and members of Parliament, including Lord Judd and Andrew Bridgen MP,are trying to draw the attention of members of the British government to the current abnormal situation, when, in fact, international criminals live freely in the Kingdom, and the authorities do not take necessary steps to correct this situation. In this regard, the document concludes that this state of affairs casts a shadow on British justice and is a challenge to the high principles of democracy and the rule of law.
The IFBG appeals to the general public, members of the UK Government and the UK's competent authorities that deal with the search for international criminals, as well as the media with this question: "How long will the appeals of British politicians and public organizations against fugitive fraudsters from the former Soviet Union remain unanswered?"
The IFBG investigation should once again highlight the urgency of the existing problem, provoke a response in the UK and Europe, and finally force the British authorities to seriously address this issue.
The city of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is recognised as part of Azerbaijan by the UN, has been in the news after the bombing of a historic cathedral located there during the current fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Last week Armenia accused Azerbaijan of targeting Holy Saviour Cathedral, an iconic site in Shusha for the Armenian Apostolic Church, which was shelled during the recent clashes, which broke out on 27 September. 20% of Azerbaijani territories, including Shusha, have been under de facto Armenian control since the early 1990s despite 4 UN resolutions asking for immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces.
Both sides have blamed each other for the current violence with Azerbaijan countering the Armenian claims of damage to civilian targets with their own accusations against the Armenian army firing on civilians in Ganja, Tartar, Beylagan, Garbanoy and Mingachevir – home to the biggest power plant in the South Caucasus. These regions are a long way from the centre of hostilities and have no military targets.
The Armenian accusations concerning the bombing of the cathedral in Shusha risk reopening old scars and igniting a religious motive behind the war, where none exists.
Armenia has a national Christian religion, which is a very old form of Christianity that was the first to be identified as a state religion. As a national church, it plays an important part in the spiritual life, development of the national culture, and preservation of the national identity of the people of Armenia.
But Azerbaijan is known as a secular state, which is tolerant and multicultural as it embraces many different religions. Whilst the majority of the population of the country is Muslim, religious observance tends to be low, and Muslim identity is based more on culture and ethnicity than religion.
People of many religions co-exist harmoniously in Azerbaijan, including Jewish, Christians and others, and the constitution guarantees that people of all faiths may choose and practice their religion without restriction. While restoring and funding dozens of churches and 7 synagogues at home, Azerbaijan also provides support for the restoration of religious sites abroad, including the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, the Marcellino and Pietro Catacombs in the Vatican, synagogues and churches in Georgia. Known as the land of no-antisemitism, Azerbaijan has been home for centuries to the ancient Mountain Jew community in Quba, the largest all-Jewish town outside Israel.
It would be an absolute travesty if the current war, which is fundamentally about international law and the sovereign control of territory, were to degenerate into bickering and propaganda about religious differences. It is absolutely essential that the brokers for peace in this regional conflict deal with the legal issues at stake of land and sovereignty, and they should not allow either side to start trading insults, which are based upon racial or religious stereotypes. This will only inflame passions and tempers in the torrid Caucasus, when it is the qualities of patience and restraint that are in short supply at present.
Source: International Foundation for Better Governance www.better-governance.org