venerdì 5 febbraio 2016

Documentario super Ucraina e Donbass

(note for English readers: find the text too boring? Here's the direct link to the English version of the documentary)

"Le stagioni del Donbass" es un film documentario realisate per Sara Reginella pro monstrar al audientia occidental un parte de veritate que es quasi complementemente absente de nostre medios de information.
Le imagines es accompaniate per intervistas al scriptor Nikolai Lilin, al studioso Eliseo Bertolasi e al disegnator Vauro Senesi. Si vos non ha le tempore pro reguardar tote le documentario (que dura circa un hora) io recommenda que vos reguarda al minus le ultime parte, que initia al minuto 43:16:

Il ha anque un version anglese e un version in russo.

Infortunatemente, benque io trova que le documentario es multo ben facite, io debe constatar que il ha un breve (e non significative) parte ubi le journalismo lassa spatio al sensationalismo: il ha un testimoniantia de un femina que reporta del terribile torturas que le soldatos del battalion Azov inflige al feminas — ben, il es obvie que le episodios reportate es non verificabile, e quasi certemente inventate pro scopos propagandistic. Benque il es clar que Sara Reginella non es culpabile de haber falsificate iste testimoniantia, le manco de criticitate que illa demonstra in presentar iste testimoniantia es un parve macula super un labor que es alteremente laudabile.

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mercoledì 9 dicembre 2015

UN report on the Ukrainian conflict: counting casualties

The United Nations Human Rights Council has released a report about the situation in Ukraine, based on data collected from August to November, 2015.
It contains a lot of interesting data — whether their report is biased, that's a different matter; but I do believe that they wouldn't lie on raw data —, some of which I'm sure the Western press is going to ignore. I want to focus just on one particular aspect, for the time being.

Who is striking civilian areas?

Of course, we all know that both sides are using low-precision weapons, and civilians are getting hit as a result. But it would also be unfair to put everyone on the same basket, without having a look at the numbers. On page 6, the report tells us:
27. On the Government-controlled territories, 87 civilian casualties (24 deaths and 63 injured) were recorded. The 24 fatalities included 22 adults and two children. Of 63 injured: 57 were adults and six were children.
28. In the territories controlled by the ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’, 91 civilian casualties (23 deaths and 68 injured) were recorded. Of 23 killed: 22 were adults and one was a child. Of 68 injured: 64 were adults and four were children.
So, we have approximately the same number of civilian casualties in the Government-controlled and in the rebel-held areas: 87 versus 91. But then, the way in which these people were hit is significantly different (page 7, bottom):
Don't be fooled by the clever usage of colours here (nice trick, by the way)! The graphs are substantially different: while the one on the left shows that shelling from rebel positions can be accounted responsible for 18 casualties (21% of 87), shelling from government positions accounts to 52 casualties (57% of 91)!
Most other deaths are caused by mines and unexploded devices, for which the side which we should generally hold responsible is the side in which these accidents occur (as they mined the area in the first place, or didn't do a good job in clearing it from unexploded bombs). Let's visualize the data in a table:
Government forces Rebels
Shelling 52 18
Mines and unexploded bombs 58 35
Road incidents
(drunken driving)
4 0
Total 114 53

(Note that I didn't include deaths from small arms and other unknown reasons, as without knowing more about these accidents it's impossible to put the blame on anyone.)

Anyway, the numbers speak for themselves. How does your favourite news source present this UN report?

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martedì 1 dicembre 2015

Why did Turkey shot down a Russian jet?

I've read many pieces of news about the downing of the Russian Su-24 jet in Syria, but they all left one question unanswered: why did this happen?
Of course, I'm looking for the real answer: that Turkey did it in order to protect its borders is pure nonsense, since the airspace violation — if it happened — lasted just 17 seconds and was clearly due to a manoeuvre which posed no threat at all to Turkey. We also need to remember that Turkey has (well, had, by now) lots of economic ties with Russia, and wouldn't have run the risk of ruining them just to make a point about its borders' inviolability.
Also, if you look at this situation from abroad, it's an act that makes really little sense: first of all, it destroys the good relations with Russia, but also won't appear very wise even from a Western World's standpoint: while NATO defended Turkey's actions, I saw little enthusiasm in doing that. The Western public opinion was kind of shocked by the incident, and not unanimously supportive of it. No matter from which angle you look at it, from a foreign policy point of view this action was a political disaster.

So Turkey could have done this for some reasons linked to its internal politics. One explanation could be that this was an attempt to divert the Turkish public attention from some internal issue, present or coming in the immediate future. It's quite convenient to find or create foreign enemies, when you want to focus attention away from some internal trouble (and incidentally, that's why the Ukrainian government is in no hurry to implement the reforms planned in the Minsk agreements: corruption and economic crisis would take the place of the conflict in the news), so this could be in some way a diversion. However, not knowing much about the current economic situation in Turkey, I'll let others speculate on this.

But there is another, and so far mostly overlooked, possible reason for the shooting of the Russian Su-24, which might sound absurd at first: that this is a peace message to ISIS and to other terrorist groups operating in Syria. The key point here is that Turkey is carrying the heaviest weight in terms of Syrian refugees, as according to recent estimates it's thought to give shelter to more than two million Syrians. Of course, this is such a large number that it would be just too naïve to believe that there are no terrorists or jihadists among them. In fact, Ankara has already been hit by a terrorist attack on October 10th which claimed 102 lives and which is widely believed to be staged by ISIS.
Now, there are a handful of recent events that have happened in Syria and that could be of some importance to us:

  • Russian airstrikes since the beginning of October
  • Military advanced of the Syrian army against ISIS and other rebel groups
  • Russian airstrikes hitting ISIS oil and arms traffic in the last couple of weeks
ISIS is losing ground and strength, and there's reason to believe that the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as well as those in Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt against Russia are just the beginning of a new strategy aimed at radicalising Muslims in these countries and ultimately at recruiting more fighters among them. In this scenario, it's possible that the Turkish government feels — and with good reason — that their country is about to face the biggest share of this terrorist threat. Not only they have lots of potential terrorists among the refugees, but they also have lots of people which could fall victim of jihadist propaganda.
So, while in the immediate aftermath of the Su-24 downing many people (especially in Russia) read the event as Turkey lending a helping hand to ISIS, the reality is most likely much more complex than that. It's obvious that shooting down a single plane won't have any tangible effect on the outcome of the Syrian conflict, and that Turkey is not planning to enter a war against Russia. But it's a message to ISIS and other jihadist groups, and a very powerful one: we support your fight. Mind you, I'm not saying that the Turkish government supports the jihadists — though, indeed, there are some people in Turkey who do, mostly for their individual profit — but that that's the message that they want to send. And in fact, this downing has enjoyed a very good reception among Syrian rebels. The hope is that, if Turkey is seen as a supporter, it could be exempted from terrorist attacks, or at least be treated more gently.
So, we can expect more of these “messages” from Turkey to the Syrian rebels in the future: actions meant to boost Turkey's image among jihadists, masqueraded to the West as “self defence” and “protecting legitimate national interests”.
Whether this strategy will work, only time will tell, but at least this seems to me the most reasonable explanation for what has happened.

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lunedì 2 novembre 2015

BBC & Russia



Io ha spendite un poco de tempore pro satisfacer un mie curiositate personal, que ha nascite in me quando io initiava a comparar le medios de information occidental con lor controparte russe: esque nostre medios de information dedica troppo de spatio a novas negative que veni del Russia? Esque on poterea dicer que illos face (involuntarimente) un propaganda anti-russe? I spent some time to satisfy a personal curiosity of mine, which started growing in me as I started comparing the Western media against their Russian counterparts: are our media dedicating too much room to negative news coming from Russia? Could one say that they are (involuntarily) making anti-Russian propaganda?
Io proba a responder a iste questiones per comparar le copertura que le BBC dedicava a duo assassionios recente: illos de Boris Nemtsov e Oleg Kalashnikov: I try to answer these questions by comparing the coverage which the BBC dedicated to two murders: those of Boris Nemtsov and Oleg Kalashnikov:

BBC e Boris Nemtsov: un copertura excessive? — BBC and Boris Nemtsov: an excessive coverage?
Sin pretensas de scientificitate, ma solmente pro satisfacer melio mi curiositate, io ha cercate altere casos de assassionios politic e como illos ha essite tractate in le BBC. Without pretenses of a scientific analysis, but only to better satisfy my curiosity, I've looked for other political murder cases and how they've been handled by the BBC.
Le sequente tabula monstra le datos que io ha obtenite. Isto es un lista de politicos assassinate in Europa e in le S.U.A. post le anno 2000; le lista non es complete, illo es solmente le resultato de un breve recerca in le internet. Io assume que illo contine le casos le plus famose, ma si vos crede que le mancantia de alicun caso pote invalidar mi effortio, per favor dice me lo e io va adder lo.
Le prime columna monstra le nomine del politico, con un ligamine a su pagina in Wikipedia. Le tertie columna monstra le data del assassinio, e liga al nova del BBC super le evento; quando le ligamine es absente, isto significa que le BBC non mesmo reportava le nova. Le quarte columna es un conto approximative del numero del articulos que le BBC dedicava al assassinio; le video precedente explica como io ha obtenite iste numeros, quando isto esseva possibile.
The following table shows the data I obtained. This is a list of politicians murdered in Europe and in the U.S. after the year 2000; the list is not complete, it's only the result of a quick search in the internet. I assume it contains the most famous cases, but if you think that the absence of some case might invalidate my efforts, please let me know and I'll add it.
The first column shows the name of the politician, with a link to his Wikipedia page. The third column shows the date of the murder, and links to the BBC piece about the event; when the link is missing, this means that the BBC didn't even report the news. The fourth column is an approximate count of the number of articles that the BBC dedicated to the murder; the video before explains how I obtained these numbers, when this was possible.
Nomine Nationalitate Data Articulos in BBC Dies in prime pagina
Isabel Carrasco Espania 12-05-2014 3 1
Francesco Fortugno Italia 16-10-2005 1 ?
Grigorijs Ņemcovs Latvia 16-04-2010 0 0
Pim Fortuyn Nederlandia 06-05-2002 40 ?
Helmin Wiels Nederlandia 05-05-2013 1 ?
Alimsultan_Alkhamatov Russia 27-09-2009 1 ?
Ruslan Amerkhanov Russia 12-08-2009 1 ?
Bashir Aushev Russia 13-06-2009 0 0
Farid Babayev Russia 24-09-2007 1 ?
Viktor Dorkin Russia 31-03-2006 0 0
Vitaly Karayev Russia 26-11-2008 1 ?
Adilgerei Magomedtagirov Russia 05-06-2009 3 ?
Boris Nemtsov Russia 27-02-2015 50 ~20
Kazbek Pagiyev Russia 31-12-2008 1 ?
Nina Varlamova Russia 17-12-2008 0 0
Sergei Yushenkov Russia 17-04-2003 10 ?
Ruslan Yamadayev Russia 24-09-2008 8 0
Ivan Stambolić Serbia 25-08-2000 5 ?
Zoran Đinđić Serbia 12-03-2003 25 ?
Boško Perošević Serbia 13-05-2000 9 ?
Anna Lindh Svedia 11-09-2003 40 ?
Bill Gwatney S.U.A. 13-08-2008 2 ?
Oleh Babayev Ucraina 26-07-2014 0 0
Oleg Kalashnikov Ucraina 15-04-2015 4 2
Stepan Senchuk Ucraina 29-11-2005 0 0
Mi scopo es determinar si le copertura del BBC esseva neutral, ma isto non es un operation trivial. Un simple comparation numeric non va sufficer, on debe anque considerar si il ha motivationes objective que face que un evento es plus interessante que alteres. Io non va enoiar vos per analysar cata evento individualmente: io va simplemente notar alicun punctos general, e postea analysar le casos le plus importante o controversial. My goal is to determine whether the BBC coverage was neutral, but this is not a trivial operation. A simple numeric comparison won't be enough: one should also consider whether there are objective reasons that make it so that an event is more interesting than others. I won't bore you with analysing each case one by one: I'll just note a few general points, and then analyse the most important or controversial cases.
Le prime factor es le notorietate del victima, e su importantia politic. Nomines que es incognite al audientia del BBC ha naturalmente minus spatio in le novas, e similarmente il es comprensibile que un presidente de un partito o un membro del parlamento genera plus interesse que un administrator de un citate o region.
E le importantia cresce si le morte del politico causa crises o incertessa politic. Isto pote explicar, pro exemplo, perque le leader nederlandese Pim Fortuyn, le prime ministro serbe Zoran Đinđić o le ministro del affaires estere svedese Anna Lindh recipeva multe plus spatio in le novas que le governator regional espaniol Isabel Carrasco.
The first factor is the victim's notoriety, and his political weight. Names that are unknown to the BBC's audience naturally have less space in the news, and similarly it's understandable that a party leader or a member of the parliament generates more interest than an administrator of a city or region.
And the importance grows if the politician's death causes political crises or uncertainty. This can explain, for instance, why the Dutch leader Pim Fortuyn, the Serbian prime minister Zoran Đinđić or the Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh received much more news space than the Spanish regional governor Isabel Carrasco.
Le geographia es un altere factor: il es comprensibile que assassinios que eveni plus proxime al audientia occidental es considerate plus importante. Pro isto, multe assassinios que eveniva in Russia (e in particular in le region caucasic del Dagestan, in le annos 2007-2009) recipeva un spatio minor. Geography is another factor: it's understandable that assassinations happening closer to the Western audience are considered more important. For this reason, many murders which happened in Russia (and especially in the Caucasian region of Dagestan, in the years 2007-2009) received less space.
Un pais instabile, que es in processo de orientar se inter le Union Europee e le passato sovietic (Serbia, Ucraina) es plus interessante que un pais stabile (como Latvia, jam desde multe annos in le Union Europee).
Intervention militar o intense activitate diplomatic con le mundo occidental es un altere puncto a favor de ample copertura pro paises como Serbia e Ucraina.
An unstable country, which is in the process of orienting itself between the European Union and its soviet past (Serbia, Ukraine) is more interesting than a stable country (such as Latvia, an EU member since many years already).
Military intervention or intense diplomatic activity with the Western world is also another point bringing ample coverage for countries such as Serbia and Ukraine.
Le mysterio es un altere factor importantissime: le casos plus obscur, con investigationes longe e declarationes al pressa del investigatores es clarmente plus interessante que casos ubi le assassino es trovate immediatemente e confessa le crimine. Le intrigante caso del svedese Anna Lindh es un exemplo. Mystery is another very important factor: the more obscure cases, with long investigations and press statements from investigators are clearly more interesting than cases where the murderer is immediately found and confesses the crime. The intriguing case of the Swedish Anna Lindh is an example.

Boris Nemtsov e le politicos ucrainian

Boris Nemtsov and the Ukrainian politicians

Le factores elencate supra non explica le disparitate del copertura del casos Nemtsov e del politicos ucrainian, supertoto illos recente. Como io explica in le video, le spatio dedicate a Nemtsov me pare disproportionatemente grande: ille esseva quasi incognite in le occidente (io occasionalmente lege novas de Russia desde alicun annos, e numquam audiva su nomine) e, benque ille remaneva active politicamente, ille non habeva un rolo importante in le scena politic. Certemente le facto que Nemtsov esseva un figura del opposition a Putin exercita un certe fascination in le occidente, e isto es normal. Le facto que le assassinos esseva trovate, confessava e postea retractava lor confession anque contribue a generar articulos de novas.
Ma novas non nasce spontaneemente, illos debe esser cercate, e il debe haber un voluntate precise de facer isto. Le amonta de novas que parla del tributos a Nemtsov e reactiones a su morte es plus que 10; plure es le analyses super le situation del opposition politic in Russia, e omne nova super le investigation sembla scribite pro jectar plus de mysterio e suspectos que pro reportar factos.
The factors listed above don't explain the disparity in the coverage of the Nemtsov case and those of the Ukrainian politicians, especially the recent ones. As I explain in the video, the space dedicated to Nemtsov appears to me to be disproportionately large: he was almost unknown in the West (I've occasionally been reading news from Russia for a few years, and never heard of his name) and, despite remaining politically active, he didn't hold any important role in the political scene. Surely the fact that Nemtsov was an opposition figure against Putin holds a certain fascination for the West, and this is normal. The fact that murderers were found, confessed and then retracted their confession also contributes to create news.
But news are not born spontaneously, they must be looked for, and there must be a precise will to do so. The amount of news about the tributes to Nemtsov and about the reactions to his death are more than 10; there are several analyses on the situation of the political opposition in Russia, and each piece of news about the investigation seems to have been written to throw more mystery and suspicions than to report facts.
Pro comparation, le situation politic in Ucraina non es multo melior de illo in Russia, e nos como occidentales deberea haber grande interesse in illo, sia perque le recente developpamentos politic ha essite appojate per le occidente e benvenite como un grande revolution democratic, sia perque il ha possibilitates concrete que Ucraina entrara a far parte del UE. Alora, le situation del opposition in Ucraina non deberea esser minus interessante que illo in Russia. Ma nos mesmo non sape le nomines del politicos qui esseva assassinate in Ucraina in le ultime duo annos! E nota bene: io non pensa a politicos qui esseva occidite in le Ucraina oriental, in le conflicto armate, ma in le capital Kiev. E nos non sape quante politicos moriva in apparente suicidios perque, ben que isto esseva generalmente reportate in le medios de information occidental, le prominentia de iste novas esseva minimal, e novas o analyses additional non sequeva. Certemente il habeva tributos e reactiones politic a iste casos, certemente cata morte generava un investigation, e certemente omne victima habeva familiares o collegas qui les commiserava. Ma le pressa occidental non se occupava de isto, non del toto. In comparison, the political situation in Ukraine is not much better than in Russia, and we as Westeners should have a great interest in that, both because the recent political developments have been supported by the West and have been welcomed as a great democratic revolution, both because there are concrete possibilities that Ukraine will become part of the EU. Therefore, the situation of the Ukrainian opposition shouldn't be less interesting than that of Russia's. But we don't even know the names of the politicians who were killed in Ukraine in the last two years! And please be aware that I'm not talking about politicians who were killed in eastern Ukraine, in the armed conflict, but in the capital Kiev. And we don't know how many politicians died in apparent suicides because, despite the fact that this was generally reported in the Western media, the prominence of these news were minimal, and not followed by additional news or analyses. Surely there had been tributes and political reactions to these cases, surely each death was follwed by an investigation, and surely every victim had relatives or colleagues who mourned them. But the western press didn't bother with that, not at all.
Io lassa a vos traher le conclusiones. I let you draw your own conclusions.

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