Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Kazakhstan’s Caspian Seascape

March 8, 2009

by Pitoy Moreno

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime? It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset?”

I may rarely see the flight of fireflies at dusk, the feel of warm air coming from a buffalo’s nostrils in the cold of winter, or the shadows that moves when nightfall sets in, but I can show you some breath-taking views of a place known for its taigas, flatlands, snow-capped mountains and picturesque seas.

For a time I thought I was the only Filipino living here in Kazakhstan, but diaspora made sure it wasn’t true. The saying that “in every nook of the earth, there is a Filipino” came real. As one among the few expatriates working in an enchanting place somewhere in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, I could say so.

About the size of Texas in the USA, Kazakhstan is nestled south of Russia. On its eastern border is China while Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are located in the south. The Caspian Sea and part of Turkmenistan are in the west.

The territory is rich in mineral resources. From out of the 1,177 mi (1,894 km) of coastline of Caspian Sea, is a huge deposit of oil discovered in 2000, the largest ever found in the last 30 years. A fuel pipeline connects the Tengiz oil field of western Kazakhstan to the Novorossiysk, a Russian Black Sea port. Another pipeline brings oil to China.

From the beginnings of human history, it is in this country where the first horses have been first domesticated. From the tribes of the once nomadic Kazakhs and their neighbors has evolved the distillation of a cultures so diverse and interesting.

Sparsely populated through the ages, Kazakhstan has been part of the Soviet Union until its independence in December 16, 1991. In this beautiful locale are memorable awesome red sunsets, pristine blue skies, and numberless grains of sand on the seashore—among the most wonderful scenes I have seen. In addition, there is this buzz of industrial and cultural activity that spurs the country’s growth and hope for the 21st century. They make me remember our country, the Philippines. (Photo Credits: Pitoy Moreno,Xhancock; Anguskirk)=0=

Republic of Kazakhstan

National name: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
President: Nursultan A. Nazarbayev (1990)
Prime Minister: Karim Masimov (2007)
Land area: 1,049,150 sq mi (2,717,300 sq km); total area: 1,049,150 sq mi (2,717,300 sq km)
Population (2008 est.): 15,340,533 (growth rate: 0.3%); birth rate: 16.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 26.5/1000; life expectancy: 67.5; density per sq km: 5
Capital (2003 est.): Astana, 288,200 (formerly Aqmola; capital since 1997)
Largest cities: Almaty (former capital), 1,045,900; Karaganda, 404,600; Shymkent, 333,500; Taraz, 305,700; Pavlodar, 299,500; Ust-Kamenogorsk, 288,000; Aqtöbe, 234,400
Monetary unit: Tenge

Languages: Kazak (Qazaq, state language) 64%; Russian (official, used in everyday business) 95% (2001 est.)
Ethnicity/race: Kazak (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.4%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9% (1999)
Religions: Islam 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
National Holiday: Independence Day, December 16


Miss World 2008

December 14, 2008

In a spectacular extravaganza in Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, the 58th Miss World title was won by Ksenya Sukhinova, besting 108 contestants on Saturday, December 13, 2008.

The 21 year old Russian blonde who wants to be a supermodel has in her court Parvathy Omankuttan, Miss India; Gabriellle Walcott, Miss Trinidad and Tobago; Brigite Santos, Miss Angola; and Tansey Coetzee, Miss South Africa as the finalists.
Photo Credit: AFP/ Paballo Thekiso)


For 45,000 Euros, a Fabulous Watch for a Fabulous Filipino in the "Euro Generals Scandal"

November 15, 2008

I laughed away my incredulity when Tyrone Ng Arejola, 35, a rich friend of retired Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller Gen. Eliseo de la Paz testified in the senate hearing on the “Euro General Scandal.” Arejola explained that of the 105,000 euros (6.9 million pesos) confiscated by Russian authorities from Gen. de la Paz last month, 45,000 euros was his. The high-flying wealthy Filipino businessman with unusual liking for gem time pieces said the money was his payment for a watch worth P2.9 million to be bought in Europe— something Filipinos (myself included) find incredible.

I’m bewildered by Arejola’s exquisite interest for jewelry watches. As a long-time resident in America, it’s the first time I hear of such fabulous chronometers like “Roger Dubuis Bi Retro” or an “IWC Portuguese Chronowatch,” the time pieces Arejola loves.

I live close to the jewelry district of New York and I have often walked passed jewelry watches on glass displays. In the last 20 years, I never owned a wristwatch or dream of owning one. But I understand its necessiy—not the costly time pieces which one needs to cover with an insurance or guard against theft with dear life. For checking time, I only rely on my simple cell phone which works just as well.

My ignorance about luxury time pieces is magnified knowing I learn about them from kababayans in Manila who’re at the center of a hideous money-laundering scandal. Life can really be paradoxical sometimes, says my doctor-friend-colleague who learned about Arejola who lives in affluence within a society beset with grinding poverty.

Arejola, an avowed “born-again Christian” like de la Paz, can possibly afford such expensive European watches whose names twist my tongue. Yet, I wonder why he asked the PNP officer to illegally carry his money in a foreign travel to pay for them. It’s the 21st century. Why can’t he use modernity’s regular perks like a money transfer, a credit card, or a bank remittance?

(Noveau?) rich Filipinos like Arejola make me forget the country is poor. At that price of 45,000 euros, the watch is surely tops at the end of the price scale. Who can fault humility and hubris coming together? It’s the same thought that may have crossed Sen. Manuel Roxas’ mind when he directed his quizzical comment to Arejola in the senate meeting:

So 45,000 euros…Parang ang bigat suotin po nyan eh. Parang bahay na po yan. Yung akin Timex ah, $30. Personal na pera niyo yan kaya wala akong masabi (That would be quite heavy to wear. That’s like a house. My watch is a Timex, worth $30. In any case, that’s your personal money so I cannot say much),” Inquirer, (11/15/08, Kwok, A)

A question to ask Gen. de la Paz: “How can you, a law officer put your integrity in line and that of the country by agreeing to be a courier of Arejola’s money?”

In accordance to the law, every traveler has to declare money beyond $10,000 dollars, why didn’t de la Paz do it as he passed the customs? Even Filipino maids traveling for the first time in the airport know this rule by heart.

If Arejola is telling the truth, he should be decidedly affluent, but nonetheless awkwardly dirt cheap and stupid to put Gen. de la Paz and the country in hot water. He admitted that Enviroair, one of his companies, get juicy contracts from the PNP.

From here, I can only ask the reader to think and make your own theories and conclusions. I think investigators have uncovered some raunchy details of this scandal rocking the military, but they aren’t focusing on the right questions hard enough—the what, how, where and when of the 105,000 euros in the PNP officer’s possession.

It’s not so important that the Russian customs authorities have “absolved” him through some dubious diplomatic channels. The PNP officer has yet to explain, among others, why he has that huge money brought in the Interpol conference in St. Petersburg with his wife. He has to explain the illegal huge amount of money he carried abroad against conventions of international travel.

The “zarzuelas” and inanities of corrupt citizens go on in the Philippines. The people can only sigh in angst and anger thinking how many more rapacious scandals they have to endure in their lifetime. In Manila, one hears the poor street protesters yelling,“Tama na! Sobra Na!” while the PNP officers with their guns look on. =0=

PNP Gen. Eliseo de la Paz

Photo Credit: ABSNews; AP; Bullit Marquez

RELATED BLOG: “Euro Generals” from Moscow and the “zarzuela” that awaits them in Manila Posted by mesiamd at 10/21/2008

“Euro Generals” from Moscow and the “zarzuela” that awaits them in Manila

October 20, 2008

After being caught and held for illegal possession of travel money in Moscow, Russia, during the 77th Interpol Meeting in St. Petersburg, retired Gen. Eliseo de la Paz, his wife Maria Fe, and Philippine National Police (PNP) officers and their respective wives, are eagerly awaited to return home. They need to shed light to the humiliating detention they suffered stemming from the undeclared amount of P6.9 million (105,000 euros.) Airing the befuddled mind of the public, the Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago angrily declared:

I-subpoena decus tecum ko silang lahat. Ibigay nila ang mga papeles nila. Sino ang nag-authorize niyan? Ngayon kung hindi iyan duly authorized, saan nila kinuha ang pera? Saan nila kinuha ang pera para gumastos lahat ng asawa nila? Magkano ba mga sweldo nila?” Santiago told radio dzBB’s Nimfa Ravelo in an interview. GMANewsTV (10/19/08, See, AB)

The flamboyant Sen. Santiago, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, sounds funny again, but the truth of this incident rests on the questions she raises. It is a shame the PNP officers wear “service, honor & justice” on their badges not unlike the military pins of the disgraced Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia who stole incredible amounts of money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP.)

Some of de la Paz’ defenders are saying there is nothing irregular with bringing 105,000 euros as though it is OK to carry them without customs approval. They speak of “contingency funds” that make them look more suspicious. Where did they get that much money?

If justice works well in the Philippines and corruption isn’t as rampant, this case of illegally transporting huge money abroad has all the tell-tale signs of a crime(s). Ironically, they went to that interpol conference to learn more ways of upholding laws, not of violating them. (see my related blogs entitled “Truth, not only travel briefing, is the answer versus money laundering”(10/17/2008) and “Malabong paliwanag sa bayong-bayong na pera sa airport” (10/16/2008.)

But as usual, one wonders if investigations that probe the PNP officers will just be another side diversion—a dizzying “zarzuela,” displaying the corruptive influence of money on those tasked to serve the people. There surely will be layers of alibis, legalese, and lame defenses to dodge accountability. The kid-glove treatment of erring government men in power often mocks the sensibility of the public and painfully deepens the despair of the nation. That’s why many frustrated Filipinos are cynical with regards to the outcome of cases of this nature. (Photo Credits: Ignacio Guerra; =0=“

Truth, not only travel briefing, is the answer versus money laundering

October 16, 2008

With the deterioration of the economy, we have learned to be frugal—- traveling abroad simply. The clothes we wear and the money we bring are scaled in terms of affordability and status. Yet there are Filipinos who insist to be flashy like the “ritzy” PNP officer who carried a “bayong” of cash to an Interpol conference in Russia.

Eliseo de la Paz, a former director and comptroller of the Philippine National Police (PNP,) traveled in style with a group of Filipino law enforcement officers in the 77th General Interpol Assemby in St. Petersburg, Russia. We didn’t know if he dressed appropriately, but he was caught bringing P6.9 million of “contingency” funds, a shameful violation of smuggling and the international money laundering law.

It was disgusting that the senior PNP law enforcer and his defenders take the incident lightly. PNP Chief Supt Nicanor Bartolome, perhaps in an attempt to dampen the corruption implications of de la Paz’ action, announced all police officers traveling abroad must undergo mandatory briefing. Did Bartolome mean de la Paz and his group didn’t have one? Wouldn’t it be routine to have pre-departure orientations for Filipinos representing the Philippines abroad?

If Bartolome’s travel orientation’s goal is to educate us about the money laundering law which allows less than $10,000 of undeclared cash during travel, his plan is practically useless. It is a duplication of what is routinely done in international airports, airplanes, and customs offices.

Everybody knows, before reaching the port of entry, flight attendants bring in forms to make sure passengers don’t commit the error of breaking the law. In the customs, passports and money declaration documents are rechecked. There is absolutely no chance that de la Paz wouldn’t know this simple travel procedure, especially if it regards to concealing huge sums of money.

De la Paz brought P6.9 million in cash way beyond what was legally allowed. A retiree from PNP service, he and his wife must not even be part of the Interpol meeting in the first place. But they were there for a reason the public must know, held by Russian authorities that their counterparts in Manila wanted to pass like a fart.

If Bartolome wants to conceal this ignominious incident under the rug as most military men do for their comrades, why doesn’t he dig into the truth about de la Paz’ P4.5 million. The PNP officer claims he brings “personal” money in a conference. What will he do with that mind-boggling sum and how did he acquire it?

Bartolome asks why the Russian authorities didn’t catch de la Paz early on. But aren’t foreign delegates of meetings accorded respect and nothing like this is imagined to happen in St. Petersburg?

There goes the rub. Another Filipino official has disgraced himself and put the name of the nation in the sewers. Alibis, cheating, and corruption have been so entrenched among our officials. Who then will believe us if we are like this? (Photo Credits: Christian Science Monitor/Bennett; Banyuhay)=0=


Parallels in the US and Philippine Presidential Elections

“If some think we have reached the pits in our standard for electing national leaders, they better observe what is happening in the US elections. We may be “shallow” and immature as an electorate but the current US electoral pool won’t have the right to sneer at us come 2010 (if ever elections are held at all).”—MyTy (10/17/08) (Photo Credit: MarkBerry)

Malabong paliwanag sa bayong-bayong na pera sa airport

October 16, 2008

Ako’y nagtataka sa ating mga opisyales na pumupunta sa abroad. Pag sila ay nahuhuli na dala-dala ang “bayong-bayong” na pera sa kanilang paglakbay, an daming mga paliwanag na sa huli ay parang mga palusot. Nawalan na yata tayong hiya, maski magmukhang stupido.

Meron na naman nahuli, isang retiridong Philippine National Police (PNP) comptroller na may dalang P6.9 million (EU 105,000.) Alam ng karamihan na $10,000 (P470,000) lamang ang legal na dala ng pasahero pagpunta sa ibang bansa. Iyan ay paulit-ulit na pina-aalala sa lahat na viajeros (written declaration of money) sa mga eroplano at customs. Pero itong si Eliseo de la Paz ng PNP ay may dalang sobra na hindi dineklara ayon sa anti-money laundering law.

Heto ang paliwanag ng isang taga-pagtanggol na si DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno sa ginawa ni de la Paz:

“Sa Europe, the hotels are easily triple the hotels that we pay for here, so talagang mahal yon. It’s really an expensive proposition and that is an Interpol meeting. Remember that was a meeting of all the police agencies throughout the world. Hindi naman pwepwedeng pupunta ang delegation natin don na parang mga pulubi, so they had to go there in the standards of the average police force,” (10/16/08, Abelgas, G.)

Pero ang totoo, pwede naman malaman kung magkano ang gastos sa mga hotel kung magtanong o magreserba ng advance, na karaniwang gawi. May telepono, may internet, may banko, na pwedeng gamitin para hindi magdala ng “bayong-bayong” na pera. Ano ba talaga ang preparasyon na ginawa ni de la Paz at mga kasama para mag-ibang bansa? Ang paliwanag ni Puno ay parang ang mga Pilipino ignorante sa paglakbay. Maski pa mayaman, sino ba naman ang dadala ng milyon-milyon sa isa lamang na meeting?

Ayon kay de la Paz ang P4.5 million sa P6.9 million na nasa kanyang “bayong” ng papunta doon sa Russia ay sarili niya. Ganyan ba kayaman ang mga tauhan ng militar ngayon? Ano ang kanyang gagawin sa P4.5 million, perang sobra sa doble ng 8-kataong budget ng delegasyon? Kung wala siyang balak na iba, bakit hindi niya ipadala sa banko o ideklara sa customs o gumamit ng credit card? Sa interpol meeting pa naman sila pumunta, bakit niya ilalagay ang Pilipinas na suspetchahan ng panibagong korupsiyon?

Hindi daw siya dapat ikumpara doon kay Gen. Carlos F. Garcia, na isa rin nahuli ng 2003. Pero kitang-kita, pareho sila lumabag ng batas. Mag tatanga-tangahan na lang ba ating mga opisyales at ang taong bayan ang magdadala ng kahihiyaan? Maliban sa budget ng delegasyon, kanino ba talaga ang P4.5 million ($95,744.00) na dala ng isang PNP officer? Paano ni de la Paz mapapaniwala ang tao na sa kanya talaga ang pera. Ito ba ay kasama sa pondo ng militar na hindi sakop ng audit ng Commission of Audit COA (i.e. intelligence funds?)

Paano ang mga mamayan maniniwala sa ating mga lideres pag ganire ang nangyayari? Ang sabi, itong si de la Paz, retired na. Hindi na siya dapat kasali sa delegasyon ng mga dumalong Pilipino sa 77th Interpol General Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo Credit:; jhayrocas; gmaresign) =0=

Note: Untruths, persistent lies, and twisting of facts by our leaders frustrate the inroads of credibility our hardworking citizens, OFW’s, and other expatriate Filipinos have carved for the Philippines. If we don’t have the discipline to curb our proclivities for deception and lies, we’ll always be among the bottom heap of countries with the greatest corruption problems. Truly, Eliseo de la Paz needs to be investigated, but his situation seems to speak for itself. He broke the law during his travel.

With market still bleeding, corporate greed blamed for financial woes in Wall Street

September 17, 2008

With last week’s unprecedented government bail out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the United States and the financial world are finding ways to avoid further meltdown in Wall Street. Spooked by financial uncertainties, money institutions are finding ways to avert market collapse.

American International Group Inc. (AIG,) the largest insurance company of the world, suffered losses as its shares fell down 92% after fool-heartedly insuring risky bonds. The Federal Reserve had to loan $85 billion to save the company from financial ruin which could disrupt markets and put the economy in jeopardy if its losses aren’t contained. This is in addition to the Treasury Department’s commitment to infuse up to about $100 billion in funds to the Fannies, America’s top mortgage lenders to keep them from going insolvent. Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and Washington Mutual suffer money problems too, feeding uncertainty, confusion, fear and distrust in the banking system. At this point it is unclear whether these measures will reverse the on-going bleeding in the market.

To where this economic woes will end is anybody’s guess. For ordinary citizens, the uncertainties that shake the market bring new realities and offer opportunities to reassess where their investments will go. In spite of their efforts to improve their finances, people have been gripped with scary concerns about jobs, higher taxes, social security, healthcare, retirement and the future in

The financial crisis had been predicted since the Clinton administration. When the stock market slumped in 2000, the housing market boom that followed built unrealistic expectations and over-taxed the lending system. After a long run of profitable home buying and selling, prices slumped in 2006 and continued to the fall thereafter. In the midst of mounting mortgage debts, many borrowers were unable to pay their loans, forcing them to default. The accrued losses quickly mounted, triggering the current financial crisis.

The crisis caused by multifactorial reasons didn’t happen overnight and the blame is shared in many fronts. Corporate greed of Wall Street is partly responsible. CEO’s and money managers, pandering on their interests, rake astronomical profits in overseeing stocks and investment funds to the disadvantage of regular shareholders. Government regulators were remiss in protecting the public when they did little to restrict flagrant money lending schemes and shady business deals of corrupt opportunists.

The Congress on the other hand had been slow in updating the laws that regulate the business of Wall Street. Loans in banks were approved by mortgage lenders in spite of the borrower’s questionable ability to pay. The bullish optimism among house-buyers had caught them ill-prepared for the ups and downs of the market. Investigation and prosecution of corporate malfeasance and abuses had been inadequate.

To promote stability, the government has little choice but to bail-out the floundering companies at the expense of tax payers. To clean up the mess, it has to recognize the weaknesses and failures of the system that lacks oversight. With a huge trade deficit, America needs a correction and tougher regulations in the financial markets to avoid further damage to the economy.

The adverse effects of this economic downturn have serious repercussions on the economies abroad. There is volatility of stocks traded abroad. There is worry across Europe, Asia and Russia. If the confidence to USA’s financial institutions weakens or altogether lost, economies worldwide will suffer affecting the most, the poorest nations.

axpayers, shareholders of investments and portfolio owners have to foot the bills to keep the economy going. They scramble for solutions to counter depreciation of homes and restore confidence in doing business. They need to bring back the profits in the stock market, lower the cost of borrowing, and stimulate the growth of businesses.

Yet new policies instituted by the emergence of global economy stand on the way. Saddled with debts and the on-going war on terrorism, the US finds itself in weaker economic footing now than in the past. If the American economy suffers further and reversal of the financial turmoil comes late, a possible worldwide recession can result to social and political instability.

The lessons learned from past hardships—the great depression and the world wars however make Americans resilient and hopeful. As they watch the events unfold, they try to find a wiggle room to solve their problems to escape the worst. The Bush administration is doing unprecedented measures to do just that, though its choices for solution are pretty limited. Photo Credits: Gingerbugjones; BeebsandChi; Steely.scott)=0=

Amidst complacency and denial, terror persists, USA & the world still on the edge

September 10, 2008

Two days before the 7th year after 911, a bipartisan report suggests that the United States is still dangerously at risk of being attacked by weapons of mass destruction (WMB’s.) Democrats critical of Pres. George W. Bush are quick to highlight the dangers. And they don’t leave the psyche of Americans traumatized by the randomness of the attack.

The report and supporting studies describe the failure of international cooperation to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, which they call a major problem. Many countries continue to ignore a United Nations mandate to prevent the spread of weapons; the ability of many countries to monitor potential bioterrorism is “essentially nonexistent,” and dangerous chemical weapons stockpiles remain in some countries, including Russia and Libya, the report said.” AP (09/09/08, BlackledgeB; SullivanE.)

In spite of moves to make the homeland secure, the nature of terrorism makes it hard to wipe out the threats. This worry is part of the legacy of 911 when the rules of engagement of war have been defined by a small group of extremists who are bent to make America and the rest of the civilized world accede to Al Qaeda’s and other Islamic toxic ideology of hate.

Bringing America down has serious implications in emerging and poor countries like the Philippines whose economies will further suffer in the midst of a threat of war, worldwide recession, dwindling resources, and exploding population. Though Pres. Bush must be credited for foiling a number of plots and in improving security during his administration, many don’t look at it this way. It is hard to see success in prevention that has an astronomical price tag.

The cost of underwriting a protective shield for Americans and the world is causing a toll on the US economy. Only when another attack as spectacular and hideous as 911 will Americans, (especially the cynical and complacent) will realize that the world they know has been turned upside down by a few rogues who wait for the singular chance to do harm and damage. Terror resonates in 911 and the attacks in Madrid, London, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Nairobi, Bali, Manila and other cities worldwide. As security experts experts have said, it’s not a question of if that another attack will be waged, but when. (Photo Credits: AP/TayloC;bp.blogspot)=0=

Russian-Georgian Conflict: a separatist debacle, a thirst for oil & a show of military might

August 19, 2008

After a week of fighting and violence that left more than 1,500 dead and 158,000 Georgians flushed out from their homes, Russia’s bullying posture over a small-state neighbor is showing. Supposed to aid the rebellious region of South Ossetia, the Russians went on a campaign to support the separatists and dominate Georgia, a small sovereign state of 4.6 million people.

Sheltering US-supported oil lines which bypass Russia and Iran thus reducing the dependence of fossil fuel from the Middle East, Georgia has strategic importance for Europe and the world. The country is backed by Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania which consider the invasion a chance to stop Russia’s geopolitical design in the region.

The Russian attempt to annex the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia brings a sharp rise in the Poland’s determination to forge a missile defense accord with the US. Originally intended against Iran, the deal is now planned to include a defense against Russia.

Analysts say the Russia-Georgia dispute doesn’t only involve unresolved territorial borders which has been simmering for sometime. They say it also includes political assertiveness, a flexing of military muscle by Russia on surrounding smaller neighbors so it can control the region’s oil supply on which a large part of Europe is dependent on.

There are three key pipelines that run through Georgia. The biggest, designed to bypass Russia, is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, or BTC, which transports about a million barrels of oil a day from the Caspian Sea through Georgia to ports in Turkey. From there, the oil is sent to Europe and other destinations around the world.

There is a lot of concern in America about Russia’s willingness to use oil and gas for political ends,” said Cliff Kupchan of the Eurasia Group, a former State Department officer who has studied Russia and its economy.

Kupchan further said, “There is precedent for such worry. In 2006, Russia cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine when that country refused to accept a price hike. As a result of the move, Europeans from France to Finland were left out in the cold.” ABC World News (08/16/08, Martin,R.)

In spite of Russia’s promise to withdraw from Georgia (a staunch ally of USA who sent support troops in Iraq,) Russian soldiers are still causing destruction and fear in at least a third of the country. On Aug 19, 2008, in spite of a ceasefire agreement, the Russians captured 20 Georgian troops in Poti, a seaport city in Western Georgia.

Leaders of Europeand USA and other countries are scrambling to contain the war with negotiations and political maneuverings. This underscores how governments with KGB influence can wantonly use military aggressiveness at the expense of peace of innocent lives. It also reminds the world of the dividends gained from the fall of the Soviet Union which may come to waste when the cold war returns because of reckless actions of a few. PCredits: AP/AFP =0=