quarta-feira, 5 de maio de 2010
By Nabi Abdullaev
A State Duma deputy has called on President Dmitry Medvedev to check whether Kalmyk leader Kirsan Ilyumzhinov might have divulged state secrets to aliens whom he claimed to have met in 1997.
Ilyumzhinov, 48, a flamboyant politician known for throwing expensive chess extravaganzas since becoming president of the Buddhist republic in southern Russia in 1993, will finish his fourth term in office in October, and Medvedev will have to decide whether to appoint him for another five years.
Ilyumzhinov told television host Vladimir Pozner on Channel One on April 26 that he had spent several hours in the company of aliens after they visited his apartment in downtown Moscow on Sept. 18, 1997.
He said he was falling asleep when he heard someone calling him from the balcony. When he went there, Ilyumzhinov said, he saw a "semi-transparent half tube" that he entered to meet human-like creatures in yellow spacesuits.
"I am often asked which language I used to talk to them. Perhaps, it was on a level of the exchange of the ideas," Ilyumzhinov said, speaking solemnly.
He said the aliens gave him a tour of their spaceship.
When he asked them why they had not gone on television to reveal themselves to humans, they replied that they are not yet ready, Ilyumzhinov said.
He said the aliens returned him to his home in the morning — just as his driver and two associates were about to initiate a citywide search for him after not finding him in the locked apartment.
Andrei Lebedev, a member of the Duma's Security Committee from the Liberal Democratic Party faction, said in a statement circulated Wednesday that he had sent a letter to Medvedev on April 29, urging the president to ask Ilyumzhinov how his meeting with aliens had influenced his rule of Kalmykia and whether the aliens had attempted to learn anything from him.
Lebedev also asked Medvedev whether Ilyumzhinov had ever informed the Kremlin of his contacts with aliens and whether a procedure was in place for senior officials who know state secrets — like Ilyumzhinov — to report such contacts to the Kremlin.
He called on United Russia, which holds a majority in the Kalmyk legislature and thus can propose presidential candidates to Medvedev, to consider excluding Ilyumzhinov from the list of candidates.
The Kremlin's press service declined to comment on the issue Wednesday.
Lebedev could not be reached for comment, but an aide said the deputy had been moved by "holy terror" to write to Medvedev after watching Ilyumzhinov's interview.
Ilyumzhinov said that if anyone, including Lebedev, had any questions for him, he was ready to meet and talk candidly, Interfax reported.
Ilyumzhinov's eccentricity, which helped him become and remain Kalmykia's leader in the 1990s when populism yielded political dividends, may now cost him his job, said Alexei Titkov, an analyst who tracks Russia's regions at the Higher School of Economics.
Ilyumzhinov also heads the International Chess Federation, a position he has held since 1995, and will run for re-election in September. Chess champion Anatoly Karpov has said he would run against Ilyumzhinov and expects the Russian Chess Federation to support his bid at a meeting of its overseers board on May 14.
But Medvedev's aide Arkady Dvorkovich, who heads the board, said April 21 that it had decided to back Ilyumzhinov, sparking a bitter outburst from Karpov, who is supported by the chess federations of the United States, Germany, France and Spain.
The Moscow Times
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh on Tuesday. The talks dealt with US proposals to start indirect Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and on bilateral issues of common interest.
The talks, in which Abbas received “input from King Abdullah” on the renewed peace efforts ahead of his meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday and visiting US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell on Friday.
But the efforts to revive the Middle East peace process took another blow on Tuesday after Jewish occupiers torched a mosque in the West Bank town of Lubban Ash-Sharqiya.
Palestinian officials said Israel had warned them on Monday about the possibility of an attack by Jewish occupiers angered by the army’s demolition of six partially built structures in Shavei Shomron settlement near Nablus.
A statement issued by Abbas’ office condemns the burning of the mosque and said the attack threatened efforts to revive the peace process.
Asked about other subjects discussed by King Abdullah and President Abbas, a source said the US commitment given to Abbas that a sovereign Palestinian state would be created within two years was also touched on during their discussions. The Israeli rejection of Mitchell’s proposal to withdraw troops from Palestinian-ruled sections of the West Bank was also discussed. Israel had told the US that it could not guarantee such a move before beginning direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
“Other issues such as efforts on regional Arab reconciliation in a bid to strengthen support for Palestine and Saudi support for the Palestinian people were also discussed,” he added. The Kingdom, he said, had pledged to continue supporting the Palestinian people financially as and when required. The total amount of Saudi donations to support the Palestinian Authority is in excess of $1.1 billion. Riyadh also gives budgetary assistance to Palestine.
On the question of Israeli settlements, the source quoted Abbas as saying: “We have a very hard time convincing the Israeli administration of the need to withdraw from the territories, the need to solve the Jerusalem issue and the situation involving the refugees”.
By Matthew Tostevin
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Africa will emerge from the global downturn more quickly and strongly than much of the world, but must shift policies and attitudes still further to benefit fully, business and political leaders said on Wednesday.
"We've come through it better than most and we've done that not because we're not integrated in the global economy but because we are," Maria Ramos, CEO of South African bank Absa, told a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa.
"There has been a big amount of reform of this continent over the past decade and a half".
The world's poorest continent has defied the direst predictions that it would suffer more than others as a result of the global woes and the World Bank this week upgraded its growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa to 4.2 percent in 2010 versus 1.7 percent last year.
In addition to rising commodity prices and investment from faster growing Asian countries, policy reforms and debt relief over the past decade have put many African countries on a more stable footing and better placed to attract investment.
Businesses in Africa talk up the potential of 1 billion consumers with ever increasing spending power and point to the explosion of mobile phone services as a sign of what can be done.
Results of a survey of CEOs by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed 77 percent of those in Africa were optimistic for the next three years compared to only 50 percent globally.
"We as Africans need to understand this opportunity," South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told Reuters.
"That's what this WEF is about and to fashion our thinking in a way in which we can take advantage of the opportunities that are there," he said, while stressing that the rest of the world also needed to understand Africa's emerging importance.
The fact Africa's biggest annual business gathering is being held in Tanzania rather than South Africa, as it usually is, was a sign of the growing importance of the countries outside the continent's biggest economic power.
But the east African country's own record on economic reforms has been looking patchy of late. Over two years, it slipped 20 places on the World Bank's ease of doing business survey to 131 out of 183.
President Jakaya Kikwete acknowledged this week that more needed to be done, but he told the summit that laws to promote investment by foreign countries were not enough by themselves.
"We need the support of the governments of these countries," he said, stressing in particular the difficulties created by foreign agricultural subsidies which put African farmers at a disadvantage.
Despite setbacks in some countries, business groups and donors believe that continuing reforms to open up economies and increase political freedoms are an important driver of growth.
"The political will is coming," said Omari Issa, who heads the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, which runs dozens of projects to help countries make it easier for businesses to operate and to eliminate red tape.
"We are creating competition between countries and within countries, competition between agencies. I think the formula is working," he told Reuters.