Daily Archives: May 3, 2014

Duma demands tribunal for Kiev authorities for bloodbath in Odessa

Irina Yarovaya, chair of the Duma Security Committee

MOSCOW, May 03. ITAR-TASS.

The Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) said the Kiev authorities were committing war crimes and therefore must face a military tribunal.

“I think this is an organised criminal group that has been acting like this since the very beginning, committing war crimes. For these atrocities they must be brought to justice as war criminals and they must be tried by an international military tribunal,” Irina Yarovaya, chair of the Duma Security Committee, said on Saturday, May 3.

She believes that any support for ‘the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities who ordered the extermination of their own people means compliance in this mass killing of people”.

Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Neverov is convinced that “there is no justification” for what happened in Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Odessa in Ukraine.

“It’s awful that the unleashing of civil war Ukraine is supported by the West that in no time has forgotten human rights and democratic values, of which EU countries and the United States claimed to be the advocates. Now no one has any doubt as to who is sponsoring unrests in Ukraine and who sponsored them from the start,” he said.

“I do hope quite sincerely that last night’s tragedy will make those who support the illegitimate and criminal regime come to their senses although the chances of that are waning, judging from the reaction of Western politicians,” Neverov said. “Instead of defending peaceful citizens of Ukraine, they are blocking Russian proposals in the U.N. Security Council, which are aimed at peaceful resolution of the issue. The West is conniving at the Ukrainian radicals and Nazi whose ideology is extermination. Apparently Europe has learnt no bitter lessons from last century.”

Frants Klintsevich, deputy chair of the Duma Defence Committee, drew historical parallels with the current events in Ukraine.

“The European Union and America refuse to understand the explosive situation in Ukraine and do not want to figure out what is good and what is bad because they simply can’t benefit from that. They want a civil war,” he said.

Klintsevich recalled that “during the Great Patriotic War [1941-1945], SS battalions manned with Ukrainian nationalists commanded by fascists destroyed the village of Khatyn in Belarus, burning the elderly, women and children alive”.

“Practically 70 years on, the decedents of those fascists did the same. They blocked people inside the Trade Union House and set it on fire,” he said.

“Why does Europe support such atrocities?” the MP asked.

He stressed that all opposition parties in “enlightened Europe” and the whole world must know what “present-day fascists” did in Odessa.

Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots Leonid Slutsky said the bloodbath in Odessa on May 2 “completely destroys the Geneva accords and incites a civil war in Ukraine”.

“What happened, especially the fire in the Trade Union House, reminds me of the Nazi crimes during World War II. This is a new Khatyn and Auschwitz,” he said.

“Especially outrageous is the benevolent reaction of the West to the crimes committed by the Kiev authorities against their own people,” he said, and stressed that “violence must be condemned and stopped”.

Mikhail Starshinov, head of the inter-faction group for interaction between civil society institutions and law enforcement agencies, condemned the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s statement that the Trade Union House in Odessa had been set on fire by the activists who had seized it.

“By the degree of cynicism, this statement is beyond the good and the bad,” he said. “This is yet another evidence that certain political forces in the world will stop at nothing in a bid to achieve their goals.”

He stressed that Russia was trying to conduct a dialogue on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine at all levels, including the Foreign Ministry and parliament. “However our opponents remain deaf to reasonable proposals on how to de-escalate violence. As a result, innocent people died,” Starshinov said, adding that “this scenario would have been unheard of two months ago”.

Unrests erupted on Friday, May 2, with a mass fight started by football fans from Kharkov, Right Sector radicals and members of the so-called “Maidan self-defence” force from Kiev, who had decided to march along the streets of Odessa, thus provoking clashes with the supporters of Ukraine’s federalisation. As a result, 46 people had been killed in the clashes and over 200 had requested medical attention.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said the building had been set on fire by the same people who had seized it. However this disagrees with the footage and eye-witness reports from the scene.

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Moscow: Kiev and western sponsors directly responsible for bloodshed in E.Ukraine

Kiev’s government and its western allies bear full responsibility for the recent bloodshed in Ukraine, Russia’s presidential spokesman has said, adding it is now impossible to convince people in the region to disarm because their lives are under threat.

Spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, released an official statement following the tragic events in Odessa. 39 anti-government activists have died in a fire at the Trade Unions House there, after the building was set ablaze by pro-Kiev radicals. Some anti-Kiev protesters burned to death, while others suffocated or jumped out of windows, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said.

Peskov expressed deep condolences for the families of those who died in the tragedy on behalf of President Vladimir Putin and said the Kiev government and the West had blood on their hands.

“The authorities in Kiev not only bear direct responsibility, but are complicit in these criminal activities. Their arms are up to the elbows in blood,” Peskov said.

He said the tragedy in Odessa was the product of “the connivance of those who consider themselves the authority in Kiev.”

“They allowed extremists and radicals to burn unarmed people alive. I stress that these people were unarmed.”

Peskov condemned the position adopted by Washington and a number of European countries as motivated by cynicism.

“It is the highest manifestation of cynicism. The people who justify this punitive operation are the same ones that did not allow the legitimate President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, to bring order to the country,” said Peskov, referring to the special operation being carried out in the East of Ukraine at the order of the Kiev government.

The latest escalation in the fighting in eastern Ukraine has made it impossible for any nation to convince people to disarm in the region because their lives are at risk, said Peskov.

“In spite of consistent attempts to encourage dialogue, Russia has hit against provocation not only from Kiev, but also its Western sponsors,” he said, stressing that Russia could not find a solution to the current conflict on its own.

Addressing the Ukrainian elections that are set to take place later this month, Peskov said the prospect of such a vote was “absurd” while violence continues to rage in the country.

The president’s spokesperson announced on Friday that Kiev had effectively destroyed the last vestige of hope for implementing the Geneva agreement on de-escalating the Ukrainian crisis by unleashing a ‘punitive operation’ in eastern Ukraine. Russia views the operation as criminal and has urged the Ukrainian government not to use force against unarmed civilians.

However, the EU and the US have both supported the Kiev government’s operation. President Barack Obama called it “a move to restore order,” while EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said “the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence needs to be respected.”

“Our colleagues in the West are basically trying to justify the large number of murders we are seeing,” said Peskov, calling Ashton’s statement “monstrous.”

When asked how Russia would react to the escalating conflict in Ukraine, Peskov said he was unable to answer that question at present.

“This is unknown territory for us,” said the presidential spokesperson, adding that the Russian government has received thousands of calls from southeastern Ukraine, demanding Moscow’s help.

“Desperate people call, they ask for help. The vast majority want Russia’s help,” said Peskov. “All of these calls are reported to President Vladimir Putin.”

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The surprisingly simple way Egyptians moved massive pyramid stones without modern technology

Camels and horses stand tied to a fence below the Great Pyramid of Giza on October 21, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.

Camels and horses stand tied to a fence below the Great Pyramid of Giza on October 21, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.

Few have traveled to the pyramids of Egypt and not wondered how an ancient civilization without modern technology could have constructed structures so large they can be viewed from space. Some have theorized they were built inside out.

On the flakier side, some say aliens did it.

Perhaps the most confounding mystery of all involves how incredibly large stones made their way to the middle of the desert without massive mechanical assistance. No camel, even the Egyptian kind, is that strong.

The truth, researchers at the University of Amsterdam announced this week in a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, may actually be quite simple. It has long been believed that Egyptians used wooden sleds to haul the stone, but until now it hasn’t been entirely understood how they overcame the problem of friction. It amounts to nothing more, scientists say, than a “clever trick.”

They likely wet the sand. ”For the construction of the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians had to transport heavy blocks of stone and large statues across the desert,” the university said. “The Egyptians therefore placed the heavy objects on a sledge that workers pulled over the sand. Research … revealed that the Egyptians probably made the desert sand in front of the sledge wet.”

It has to do with physics. The sort of sledges the Egyptians used to transport the two-ton loads of stone were pretty rudimentary. They were wooden planks with upturned edges. Dragging something that heavy through hot sand would — unsurprisingly — dig into the grains, creating a sand berm that would make progress nearly impossible. It “was perhaps observed by the Egyptians that in [a] dry case, a heap of sand forms in front of the sled before it can really start to move,” says the study, authored by a team of eight researchers led by Daniel Bonn.

Wall painting found in the tomb of Djehutihotep. A large statue is being transported by sledge. A person standing on the front of the sledge wets the sand. (Courtesy of Daniel Bonn)

Wall painting found in the tomb of Djehutihotep. A large statue is being transported by sledge. A person standing on the front of the sledge wets the sand. (Courtesy of Daniel Bonn)

The only way around that problem would be to constantly clear the sand out of the way, making a tedious process even more tedious.

Damp sand, however, operates very differently. According to the research, “sliding friction on sand is greatly reduced by the addition of some — but not that much — water.” So this time, researchers placed a laboratory version of an Egyptian sledge in a bin of sand that had been dried in the oven. Then they threw down some water, and measured the grains’ stiffness. If the water had the appropriate level of wetness, something called “capillary bridges” — extremely small droplets of water that glue together individual grains of sand — would form.

These bridges not only stopped the sled from forming sand berms but also cut by half the amount of force required to move the cart. “I was very surprised by the amount the pulling force could be reduced — by as much as 50 percent — meaning that the Egyptians needed only half the men to pull over wet sand as compared to dry,” Bonn told The Washington Post.

Indeed, he says the experiments showed the required force decreased in proportion to the sand’s stiffness. “In the presence of the correct quantity of water, wet desert sand is about twice as stiff as dry sand,” the university says. “A sledge glides far more easily over firm desert sand simply because the sand does not pile up in front of the sledge as it does in the case of dry sand.”

Too much water, however, would create separate problems. “The static friction progressively decreases in amplitude when more water is added to the system,” the study says.

Adding more evidence to the conclusion that Egyptians used water is a wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep. A splash of orange and gray, it appears to show a person standing at the front of a massive sledge, pouring water onto the sand just in front of the progressing sled. What this man was doing has been a matter of great debate and discussion.

“This was the question,” Bonn wrote in an e-mail to The Post. “In fact, Egyptologists had been interpreting the water as part of a purification ritual, and had never sought a scientific explanation. And friction is a terribly complicated problem; even if you realize that wet sand is harder  – as in a sandcastle, you cannot build on dry sand — the consequences of that for friction are hard to predict.”

He said the experiment not only solved “the Egyptian mystery, but also shows, interestingly, that the stiffness of sand is directly related to the friction force.”

In all, the scientists say, “the Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick.”

via – washingtonpost

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OSCE observers released in Slavyansk arrive in Berlin

OSCE observer Axel Schneider leaves the plane in Berlin’s Tegel airport, May 3, 2014.

Military OSCE observers captured by anti-Kiev activists in Slavyansk on April 25 have been released and delivered to Donetsk. Most of them have flown to Berlin.

A German government plane carrying seven of the freed OSCE observers, four of whom are German, landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport at around 9 p.m. local time, Bild reports. They were welcomed by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Earlier on Saturday the Russian president’s representative Vladmir Lukin said that “All 12 people I have on the list were freed.”

Last week, the military observers were captured by anti-Kiev protesters who accused them of espionage. Earlier one of the detained – a Swedish officer suffering from diabetes – was released.

Lukin stressed the release of the observers wasn’t a bargain. “It was a voluntary humanitarian act, and we’re very grateful for it to those controlling the city,” he said.

Lukin has delivered the OSCE observers to Donetsk and they have met with representatives of the Council of Europe, according to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the OSCE.

“As soon as they are transferred to the representatives of the Council of Europe, we’ll be able to say that the mission is over,” Lukin said earlier.

On the way to Donetsk their car came under fire, but all of them are fine, one of Lukin’s colleagues, who was with the observers in Slavyansk, Evgeny Kozhokin, told RIA Novosti.

The OSCE observers were treated well in captivity, Col. Igor Turansky, head of the Ukrainian military mission to the OSCE, said after arriving at Kiev airport from Donetsk.

“There are no injuries, all was well. [We were] given food, water, sleep, treated well,” he said, as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (L) welcomes OSCE observers John Christensen (C) from Denmark Germany’s Axel Schneider (2nd L) and unidentified observers in Berlin’s Tegel airport, May 3, 2014.

He noted that the self-defense forces said they detained the observers because they “did not coordinate their actions with the representatives of the locals.” Turansky added that the self-defense troops wanted to know the purpose of the observers’ visit. According to him, the detained Ukrainian officers were treated the same as the OSCE observers.

Kiev authorities jeopardized the lives of the OSCE observers who were in Slavyansk, said Maria Zaharova, head of the press department of Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

“More or less prepared analysts did not doubt the fact that these military observers were deployed to Slavyansk by the Ukrainian side and their known sponsors to create a new source of tension to escalate the crisis and to directly involve the European countries in the domestic conflict,” Zaharova told RIA Novosti.

“The Kiev junta did not only think about the observers’ security, but put their lives at direct risk by starting the punitive operation against the civilians in Slavyansk,” she added.

The conflict resolution carried out by the self-defense forces during the operation saved the lives of the foreigners, she added.

The interim Ukrainian government was supporting the mission carried out by Vladimir Lukin, including aid in establishing contacts and coordinating activities at a central administration level, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry stated, as quoted by Interfax news agency.

“Vladimir Lukin was advised of a safe way from Donetsk to Slavyansk, with transportation. The Ukrainian security forces insist on this, being responsible for the lives of both the observers and the negotiators,” the statement said.

Vladimir Lukin is Russia’s official envoy to Ukraine. He initially had difficulties in entering Slavyansk as the Ukrainian army and the Right Sector militants refused him access to the city.

The Kiev government was initially reluctant to support the mission.

“We get the impression that the Kiev administration views the mission as something handicapping their plans to start the attack on Slavyansk in the coming hours,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

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