Taiwan V-P Hands Out Honours from Rev Moon

The Taipei Times reports on an honour bestowed on Kevin Lin, the Taiwanese long-distance (7,500km) runner and a national hero:

Vice President Annette Lu…conferred an “Ambassador of Peace” title on Lin, as well as other outstanding locals, yesterday at a ceremony hosted by the Taiwan chapter of the Universal Peace Federation, a UN-affiliated nongovernmental organization (NGO).

“In an age of increasing troubles and conflict, ambassadors of peace, such as those feted here today, are as important to us as ever,” Lu said in a keynote speech at the ceremony.

…As of yesterday, there were some 145 newly inaugurated Taiwanese Ambassadors of Peace in a global organization boasting 250,000 such “ambassadors,” said Chang Bo-ya,…chairwoman of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, Taiwan — an NGO with close ties to the Universal Peace Federation.

And the Universal Peace Federation, of course, is an initiative of Rev Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church. Vice President Annette Lu was also present at Moon’s 2005 address in Taipei, where he revealed plans to build a bridge or tunnel across the Bering Strait. Again from the Taipei Times:

Annette Lu rapt as Moonies icon preaches about peace

…Moon declared that “spirits” have arrived on Earth to watch human beings’ every move.

“Those who stray away from the heavenly way will be punished,” he said.

Some 3,000 people, including Vice President Annette Lu,…US President George W. Bush’s younger brother Neil Bush and Washington Times president Joo Dong Moon, listened to Reverend Moon’s speech at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.

Lu spoke in praise of Moon’s effort to promote world harmony and “ideal families.”

Various prominent political figures have chosen to associate with Moon in recent years; I listed a few here in April, and in May, I noted that Lord Hameed, a prominent member of the UK House of Lords, had also become an “Ambassador for Peace”. The “250,000” figure, though, is exaggerated – according to the organisation’s website, there are “50,000”.

WorldNetDaily Columnist Defends Using Neo-Nazi Source in Article

UPDATE: Folger has now amended her piece, with a note repudiating Fields. Apparently these words of support from Gen J.C. Christian failed to make a positive impression.

From the website of Janet Folger, WND columnist and President of Christian-right lobby group Faith2Action:

Right now, people in powerful places want nothing less than to eradicate Christian faith from American society…SPEAK OUT. MAKE A DIFFERENCE. BUT FIRST GET THE FACTS in Janet Folger’s The Criminalization of Christianity.

But from where does this tireless activist “GET THE FACTS” herself? Ed Brayton recently pulled apart one of her WorldNetDaily columns and noticed, among much else, the following quote:

…Dr. E. Fields, in his book “Is Homosexual Activity Normal?”, reveals “41 percent of homosexuals say they have had sex with strangers in public restrooms.”

Alas, “Dr E. Fields” is Edward Fields, a notorious aged neo-Nazi and KKK supporter. Ed emailed Folger with this, and got the following response from her communication director, Ross Conley:

The reference to Dr. E. Fields was found on an internet search for statistics on public sex. Such a reference can be found on a number of websites, including this FreeRepublic article. We honestly had no idea that this E. Fields was the same man who holds such racist views. A Google or Yahoo search on “Dr. E. Fields” shows nothing…

So, Folger pulled a reference off the net without bothering to check out anything about where it came from (let alone consulting the actual source itself). And in fact, if you do Google “Dr. E Fields” you actually get a page of results, including the following:

24) The BM also sent delegates to the Belgian nationalist congress at Dixmuide, and hosted Dr.E.Fields of the extreme anti-semitic National State’s Rights …

Conley’s FreeRepublic reference is also rather underwhelming, being taken from Catholic Apologetics International. Ed initiates us:

CAI is a weird little offshoot of the Catholic Church run by Robert Sungenis. Sungenis is an uber-Catholic who acts like some of the more idiotic Protestants – in particular, with his support for geocentrism. Yes, that’s right kids, he thinks Galileo and Copernicus were wrong.

But Conley (and, we must assume, Folger herself) doesn’t have a problem with using a neo-Nazi for getting information about homosexuality. As he explains to Ed:

…However, if we are going to use such a standard to reject any research by a person who holds racist views, we had better all stop quoting men such as Charles Darwin and Karl Marx. Both held extremely racist views…

And how do we know this?

…as any internet search with their names and the word “racist” will show.

Blumenthal at CUFI

Max Blumenthal reports from the recent Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference: see here.

(Via Talk to Action)

Orthodox Movement Calls for Russian Scientist to be Prosecuted

From Interfax-Religion (again):

The People’s Council [“Narodny Sobor”], an Orthodox public movement, has appealed to the Moscow public prosecutor to try well-known scientist Vitaly Ginzburg for stirring up religious strife.

Ginzburg, a Nobel Prize winner who is in his nineties, had complained publicly about the influence of the resurgent Orthodox Church in Russian schools, and he argued that

‘by teaching religion in school, these… would like to ensnare children’s souls’

Ginzburg also recently co-signed a letter on the subject; Reuters reports:

The Orthodox church’s growing influence in Russia threatens to erode the separation of church and state and upset other officially-recognised religions, leading academics warned President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

“We are becoming increasingly concerned by the growing role of clerics in Russian society, by the Church’s penetration into all facets of social life,” several scientists, including two Nobel prize winners, said in an open letter to Putin.

(Indeed; on the academic front we’ve recently seen Orthodox nationalism corrupting standards in sociology and psychology)

…the letter, text of which was published in several national newspapers, implied criticism of the Kremlin chief for his overt sponsorship of church activities.

…The signatories included Zhores Alferov and Vitaly Ginzburg, who have won Nobel Prizes for science, and eight other distinguished scientists who are senior members of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Further details appear in English in the Russian press review section of the International Herald Tribune:

The never ending war between science and religion got kick start recently as Russian academics wrote an open letter to President Putin to protest against the interference of the Russian Orthodox Church in “all spheres of social life.” Vitaly Ginzburg, a Nobel Prize winner and coauthor of the letter, expressed revulsion at the Church’s forays into education, saying that this could have fatal consequences for young generations. “The Russian Orthodox Church persistently tries to make incursions into our schools. In some regions, they have already started teaching Theology,” he remarked indignantly in a telephone interview with the paper.

For the Orthodox activists of Narodny Sobor, the best way to deal with this is to have Ginzburg prosecuted. Back to Interfax:

‘I believe that through such statements in the press Vitaly Ginzburg incites religious enmity and insults dozens of millions of Christians in Russia’, Oleg Kassin, People’s Council coordinator, told the agency.

In this connection, he believes, the academician should be ‘tried for inciting religious enmity’.

This is a familiar rhetorical strategy in Russia these days; the Orthodox interpretation of “human rights” means the right of Orthodox believers not to be criticized or challenged; blasphemous artists should be imprisoned; gay rights protestors should be suppressed; and now critics of the church should be arrested.

This is not the only issue on which Ginzburg has spoken out in support of science; in May he complained that:

The pursuit of science in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is driven by profit alone and there was less government interference even under Josef Stalin…

Putin had proposed bringing in a supervisory council of officials to oversee the Academy of Sciences, as a way “to reverse the continuing brain drain from Russia,” and “make research work lucrative”. Use of the academy assets was also a factor.

Ginzburg won the Nobel prize for physics in 2003; Alferov in 2000. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Ginzburg is an “ardent atheist”, and a strong supporter of both secular Jewish identity and the state of Israel. He has also attacked Alexander Solzhenitsyn over his views on the role of Jews in Russian history. This 1997 essay in Physics World describes his life under communism, and his slow disillusionment with the ideology.

Oleg Kassin of Narodny Sobor, meanwhile, is a rather less accomplished figure, with a background in far-right political activism. A 2000 report has some interesting details:

Russia’s neo-Nazi movement Russian National Unity (RNE) on Saturday officially announced the sacking of its long-time leader Aleksandr Barkashov and renamed itself in a bid to achieve political respectability.

Russian Revival, as the former black-shirted group is now known, is looking for representation in parliament, Russian NTV reported on Saturday.

Despite dropping Barkashov, who was pushed out on 21st September, and shedding Hitlerite trappings such as a swastika-like symbol, the organization continues to see as its main enemies “non-Russians and…Western civilization in the person of NATO”, the TV’s correspondent said.

A meeting of RNE regional representatives took the decision to reform on Saturday. They replaced Barkashov, who was accused of “Oriental occultism”, with Oleg Kassin, who told delegates that the movement had veered towards a personailty cult and was now turning to the Russian Orthodox Church for guidance.

Since then, Kassin has popped up in support of various Orthodox causes, such as a campaign to rebuild a monastery in Pushkin Square and against an art exhibition at the Sakharov Museum. According to a report from March Narodny Sobor represents “over 200 Orthodox Christian associations across Russia”.

Name variations: Vitaly Ginsburg; Vitaly Ginzburg; Vitaly Ginsberg; Vitaly Ginzberg; Vitali Ginsburg; Vitali Ginzburg; Vitali Ginsberg; Vitali Ginzberg

Milingo Expects Blessings from Pope and Rev Moon

Married Priests Now, which lobbies for the Vatican to allow priests to marry, is planning a pilgrimage to Rome. Priests who have married will arrive in December:

There will be the renewal of marriage vows, as well as of priestly vows. Those who will not afford to have their wives with them let them have photos of their spouses, even those whose wives died.

However, this bit seems a bit optimistic:

We expect to be presented blessings by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, True Father and Mother, Rev. Moon. The married priests need the blessing of both of them. This expected presence of the two important figures will mean a lot in the world in which we are living.

May God Bless our endeavors.

Archbishop E. Milingo

Milingo’s bizarre and tortuous journey from controversial Roman Catholic exorcist-archbishop to Unification Church supporter has been fascinating to watch – I’ve blogged a few times on it in the past (here, here, and here).

(Hat tip to a reader)

Russian Psychologists Promote Conversion to Orthodoxy

Warn on Satanism, Anne Rice

Following on from my entry of a few days ago on Satanic panic in Russia, Interfax comes up with yet another example:

14-year old Muscovite Tatiana’s passion for Satanism has ended in a tragedy in her family.

Another family row in which Tatiana threatened to cut her veins if her parents did not let her go to meet her friends drove her mother Lyubov Ivanovna to a stroke.

The mother died; Tatiana says she has since left the Satanists. However:

‘…Now I am a Goth vampire. I don’t need death any more. What I need is blood’, Tatiana said in an interview…and showed scars on her wrists, saying ‘ours cut them with a razor to lick off blood’.

The report also notes that she is a fan of Anne Rice, and that she has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic:

This, according to Dr. Izyaslav Adlivankin of the St. John of Kronstadt Soul-caring Center at the Krutitsy House in Moscow, is a ‘natural result of the mentally destructive impact of Ann Rice’s books and the Gothic ideology’.

‘The only way to salvation for such teenagers is through faith. I do not see any other alternative in today’s life or mass culture. Psychiatry is helpless here’, the psychologist asserted.

Adlivankin appears to have little interest in using his professional psychological training to help those who are mentally troubled to make decisions for themselves; instead, he appears more focused on getting converts to Orthodox Christianity. A 2005 Moscow Times report on a new religious movement thar promises access to some mysterious kind of “energy” featured this analysis from Adlivankin:

“This training course is one of the hundreds psychocults based on occultism acting in Moscow. People sank into psychoses and depressions after such studies and apply to us for help regularly,” Izyaslav Adlivankin, psychologist of the Russian Orthodox Rehabilitation Center for sects victims, claims. “Leaders of such organizations try to create “new people” with super abilities. It’s not hard to notice that their conception corresponds with the Nazi idea of “the sixth human race”

…”We must admit that occultism reveals knowledge of some secrets of the invisible world that people are eager to discover. They really help the newcomers to feel a burst of energy. Its gurus stress their noble aims and spirituality but we should remember that evil is often hidden under a sanctity dress,” Adlivankin says.

The report adds:

This Orthodox Center was created about 7 years ago. In the meantime more than 15,000 people have applied for help…To relieve Muscovites from the psycho-evil, the Orthodox Center hired a number of Christian psychologists and psychiatrists but the main cures are still confession, repentance and prayer. There is no civil alternative for such treatment in Moscow: no state rehabilitation center has been established yet.

…although, as we saw a few days ago, the Sebski Institute, which locked up dissidents during the Communist era, is now devoted to “analyzing” Jehovah’s Witnesses and other non-Orthodox religious groups. Back in 1995, shortly after the Tokyo gas attack, former Russian members of Aum were admitted to the Orthodox Center, which was “eager to bring them to Christianity”.

Other psychologists also take the Adlivankin line. Here’s Yuri Polischuk of the Moscow Institute of Psychiatry, in 2003:

“Most sectarian organization are of the U.S. origin”… He said the inflow of sects was a “well-planned and coordinated action, funded from abroad” and aimed at “subverting our state.”

Polischuk has also pronounced on the nature of “psychocults”:

“So-called psychocult is usually a mixture of occultism, eastern healing methods and even psychiatric techniques. The initial euphoria of the studies is connected with applied hypnoses and self-hypnoses (meditation)…Such a seance can cause changes in endocrine, vegetative and nervous systems of the participants. Under this effect a person does not perceive the environment, does not feel any pain. It is almost impossible to achieve such a result from individual practice. So emotional and physical dependence on the training are inevitable. People pay more and more to touch “the never ending source of energy” or whatever it is called”.

Polischuk has been studying sects victims for ten years. According to him, despite cults’ transformation from religious to psychological organizations their victims are the same: people in crisis, youngsters eager to find new “spiritual values”, mentally unhealthy people or those predisposed to mental illnesses.

A 1996 report from Zavtra gives a bit more context, from an Orthodox-nationalist perspective:

There have been court trials of Aum Sinrikyo, the White Brotherhood, Jehovah’s Witnesses, in Petersburg and in Surgut, and on the Society of Krishna Consciousness in Rostov. Despite all these efforts of society, the state has not worked out countermeasures to the destructive energy of sects.

…But reality is such that the authorities are hindering the action of programs of rehabilitation of victims of sects. Without the testimony of specialists accusations against the sects seem to be unproven. At the Serbsky Center and in the Moscow Institute of Psychiatry the creation of a scientific basis for a program of rehabilitation is frozen because it is not financed. Besides there is open pressure on specialists by foreign organizations, in particular from the American Psychiatric Association, which crudely declared that in Russia there are psychiatrists who are trying to use psychiatry for limiting freedom of religion.

Russia now has a number of laws against “sects” – and leaders of religious groups who want to avoid trouble with the state are sure to express nationalist and pro-Putin sentiments (Pentecostal leader Sergei Ryakhovsky comes to mind).

Psychology is not the only academic discipline in Russia that has been put at the service of nationalism – back in March I noted that sociology students at Moscow State University had risen up against a dean who is more interested in nationalist indoctrination than scholarly development.

Meanwhile, there is one place in Russia where young people are being heavily indoctrinated, although somehow I doubt Polischuk or Adlivankin will be worried. Reuters reports:

At a lakeside camp, 10,000 young Russians are learning why President Vladimir Putin is such a brilliant leader.

…The only exceptions to the general picture of neatness are two mucky, wooden shacks surrounded by broken glass—a mock settlement reserved for Other Russia supporters, vocal Kremlin opponents who accuse Putin of destroying democracy.

…Other Russia’s three male leaders, including world Chess champion Garry Kasparov, are portrayed as prostitutes. In lurid colors they pout and pose in stockings, their faces frozen into feline grins.

“I didn’t know who those people were until I came here,” 20-year-old Lena from St Petersburg said as she walked past.

“Now I know they are fascists.”

This is training camp for Nashi (“Us”), a nationalist youth group, which, according to critics, “appears aimed at giving the Kremlin a ready made mass movement to call on in times of trouble”. I blogged it a couple of years ago.

(Nashi story hat-tip: Bulldada Newsblog)

McCain and Gingrich Court Apocalyptic Christian Zionist

Hagee: “the sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened”

There was a time when a man who rails against “international bankers” and the “Illuminati” and who cites the design of the $1 bill as evidence of an occult-Masonic “New World Order” conspiracy would have been seen as something of a crank. But not any more, apparently, if the success of John Hagee is anything to go by. Hagee’s Christian United for Israel, which I previously blogged here, recently held its second annual conference in Washington. The Jerusalem Post reports on some of the speakers:

Earlier in the day, declared Republican candidate John McCain, an Arizona Senator, made a surprise appearance at the conference. He spoke about what he dubbed perhaps the “greatest evil” that the US and Israel have ever faced – radical Islam.

The senator spoke unequivocally about the need to “confront Iran” to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons…McCain called the current conflict a “vast ideological struggle” against “everything we stand for and believe in,” and stressed the need to ensure Israel’s safety as the only democracy in the Middle East, questioning that “if we fail in Israel, where will we succeed?”

Also present:

Potential Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich blasted the Bush administration Tuesday for its policy on the Palestinians before a crowd of Christian supporters of Israel.

“If George W. Bush wanted to send a signal to Hamas tomorrow morning, he could move the embassy to Jerusalem tomorrow…We are in greater danger than you can imagine. We lie to ourselves. We have suffered in the West an enormous defeat in Gaza. We have suffered a significant defeat in South Lebanon, and we lie about it. We don’t have a peace process. We have a surrender process,”

YNet notes Gary Bauer’s contribution:

Gary Bauer, who ran for the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States in 2000, also spoke at the rally, saying, “You are Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and Hizbullah’s worst nightmare, because you support Israel. They are telling you to give back land. We are telling you, don’t give back one inch.”

Bauer’s call – an implicit attack on Israeli moderates – was echoed by Frank Gaffney:

…it is “the height of folly,” he said, for the U.S. to pressure Israel into making painful concessions with its Muslim neighbors. He encouraged his listeners to convey that message to their legislators as strongly as possible.

“We must not encourage, let alone insist upon, Israel’s surrender of still more territory to the Islamofascists [who are] determined to destroy her and us!” he emphasized.

Hagee himself appears to revel in his new-found power and status, exulting that

“the sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened”

The Jewish Week adds:

Pastor John Hagee, the fiery megachurch pastor and CUFI founder, insisted the group was not lobbying against the new administration Mideast initiative.

But he also called efforts to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “appeasement,” and said his group will support Israeli policy “as long as it does not violate biblical principles.”

Also:

The evening session also included greetings from President Bush and a benediction by Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, a San Antonio Orthodox leader who has been close to Hagee, thanking God for “giving the world community a spiritual leader of the nobility, courage and wisdom of Pastor John Hagee, who personifies God’s living words.”

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, appearing by video, told the group that Christian Zionists laid the foundation for Jewish ones.

Scheinberg had a moment of fame a year ago, when he was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying that Jerry Falwell had told him that he no longer believed in the need for Jews “to go through Christ or the Cross to get to heaven.” Falwell denied both the story and any knowledge of Scheinberg, and Scheinberg later in turn denied the report. As I blogged at the time, it was a curious and clumsy attempt to force Falwell into denying his belief in Christian exclusivity, for the purposes of oiling the Christian Zionist-Israel alliance.

McCain and Gingrich have been linked to Hagee for some time – a year ago they both appeared on TV to discuss current events as “World War III”; right-wing MK Benny Elon stated that they had got the talking-point from one of Hagee’s books. But just how influential is the pastor? Jeff Sharlet offers some clues in the latest New Statesman, in a review of Nicholas Guyatt’s Have a Nice Doomsday:

Guyatt’s strongest chapters deal with Hagee, who “looks like a tubby Donald Rumsfeld” and “sounds a lot like a macaw”. That’s funny, but Hagee isn’t: US politicians court his approval and the huge amounts of money that his Christians United for Israel can channel their way. In return, they parrot his prophecies, cleansed of the references that would reveal them as such – Hagee’s conviction that the US may have to attack Iran as part of a scheme foretold in the Book of Ezekiel is sanitised as ostensibly sober-minded policy advice based on the needs of the nation rather than the scripture. Hagee, in turn, is invited on to CNN and Fox as a “Middle East expert” to advocate that very policy. Which is all the more disturbing when one considers that apocalypse preachers such as Hagee have a rather ambivalent relationship to America’s welfare. For their predictions to be proven correct, the US will have to suffer a great deal more – a prospect they relish.

And to add an extra dimension to the information loop, Hagee claims that he receives briefings from “top Israeli government officials”, who have told him about “a nuclear showdown between Iran and Israel”.

The unsanitised Hagee, meanwhile, is revealed here – the words are his, although I suspect the images and music were added by someone else:

(Hat tips: Christianity Today Weblog; Max Blumenthal for the Hagee video)

Satanic Panic in Russia

Warning from Institute that Declared Soviet Dissidents Insane

From (as ever) Interfax:

Most heavy metal songs are about murder and suicide, the Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry professor Fyodor Kondratyev opines.

‘Having researched 700 most popular heavy metal songs revealed that half of them is about murder, 7 percent is positive about suicide, and 35 percent preaches a variety of Satanist ideologies,’ Kondratyev said in his interview published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily on Monday.

He shared with the journalists that according to the American National Education Association every year near 6,000 young Americans kill themselves under the influence of music like that.

Kondratyev tells of “1,000” Satanists in Moscow and “100 Satanist groups” in Russia. He also claims to have been told by a patient of “20 ritual murders”, but that “Good defenders and threatening of witnesses” have prevented successful prosecutions. Kondratyev’s warning comes just days after Deacon Andrey Kurayev of Moscow Theological Academy warned that Friday the 13th would see “more intense” Satanic activity.

Kondratyev has previously railed against foreign “sects” in Russia. In 2004 the Russian Courier reported that:

Overseas-based religious cults are making huge expenditures to get established in Russia, says Fedor Kondratyev, analytical board chief of the Serbsky State Centre of Social and Forensic Medicine.

“There is documentary proof of exorbitant sums spent to help such cults as they are penetrating Russia, and promote whatever home-grown cults who aim to undermine Eastern Christianity as spiritual pillar of the Russian nation,” Dr. Kondratyev said to a news conference. It gathered in Moscow today to discuss rehabilitating exotic cult victims.

This orthodox-nationalist perspective is also noted in an essay on “The Place of Xenophobia in Government Policies”, from the Moscow Helsinki Group:

Public figures, actively involved in the campaign against “totalitarian sects,” serve as intermediaries of a sort between the Russian Orthodox Church and government officials. They are organized around the Center of Jeriney of Lion, headed by Alexander Dvorykin…Dvorykin’s associates in the anti-cult struggle also include public officials, like the head of expert department of the V.P Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, Fedor Kondratyev. The professional arguments (we shall not attempt here to make any judgments of their quality) of the latter are constantly combined with ideological passages of the following kind: “Each of the parishioners [Jehovah Witnesses] has a supervisor. The word of the supervisor is the word of God. As a result, fifty-thousand Russian passport holders are Russian citizens by law, but in fact are getting their orders from Americans, with the strings pulled from New-York, from Brooklyn.”

(I’ve blogged Dvorkin previously)

Also significant is Kondratyev’s place of employment, the Serbsky Institute. A 2004 report by Paul Goble explains:

Moscow’s Serbsky Institute, notorious in Soviet times for its criminal use of psychiatry and drugs against dissidents, is now playing an important role in the Russian government’s efforts to combat the spread of religious sects.

Earlier this month, the institute helped to organize a conference in Tula entitled “The Influence of Destructive Sects on the Health of Society,” “Tul’skiye izvestiya” reported on November 2.

…The main address to the meeting, which was hosted by the local health department and the St. John Society of Orthodox Doctors, was given by the Serbsky Institute’s Professor Fedor Kondratyev…

Kondratyev said that the influx of sectarian activists into Russia from abroad increased dramatically in the 1990s, but he argued that the purposes of this influx had not changed:

“This is one of the most effective measurs of the struggle of the  West against the powerful Russian state.  Hitler already wrote that there ought to be a sect in every Siberian village in order that Slavs not have any spiritual unity.”

Some of the sects in Russia today are “camouflaged” as Christian while others are openly “satanist,” he added. But both, he suggested “are directed against the state, society, the family, and the personality.”

In 2002, the Serbsky Institute was involved in the psychiatric evaluation of Col. Yuri Budanov, who had drunkenly raped and killed an 18-year-old Chechen woman in 2000. The evaluators overturned previous reports to declare that Budanov had been temporarily insane, and therefore non-culpable. The Chechen Times has further details:

Stuck on the matter of Budanov’s guilt, the state has turned to a familiar partner from Soviet times, a psychiatric profession that for decades followed orders to camouflage political problems behind the opaque curtain of mental illness. In doing so, however, officials have resurrected questions about psychiatry’s shameful past in the Soviet Union — and its highly politicized present.

That controversial finding has opened a broad evaluation of the Serbsky Institute’s fitness as an independent judge of mental competence…. When the military court first ordered Serbsky to test Budanov, the panel conducting the inquiry was led by Tamara Pechernikova, the doctor who condemned poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya for protesting the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. When that evaluation of Budanov was criticized, the court next appointed a commission that included Georgi Morozov, the former Serbsky director who had sat on many of the committees that declared prominent dissidents insane in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Practically nothing has changed. They have no shame at the institute about their role with the Communists,” said Yuri Savenko, head of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia. “They are the same people, and they do not want to apologize for all their actions in the past.”

Another report notes that:

Earlier in 2001, the head of the Serbsky Institute—Tatyana Dmitrieva—revealed that the Institute was subjecting “members of 20 non- traditional religious organizations” to psychiatric examinations, searching for signs of “psychological influencing” and “hypnosis.”

Just like the old days:

Raisa Ivanovna was arrested in 1973 (according to another source, 1972) among a group of eleven True Orthodox women from Vladimir. She was a teacher, the mother of two children. She was sent to the camp for political prisoners in Mordovia (385/3) for seven years. In 1974 she was subjected to a psychiatric examination in the Serbsky Institute in Moscow. Then she was returned to the camp, where the administration tried by all means possible to find witnesses who would certify that she was mentally ill.

…The “crimes” of the True Orthodox consisted in having put leaflets in the sergianist churches calling on the clergy to renounce their collaboration with Soviet power. These leaflets contained verses such as: “Satan lies under the mausoleum, his flesh has been rotting for a long time”. Some of them had photos and caricatures.

World Zionist Org Gives Award to Right-Wing Swedish Activist

Martin Rundkvist at Aardvarchaeology helpfully explains the content of a report from the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter:

Starting in 2004, the Department for Zionist Activities of the World Zionist Organization has given the annual Herzl Awards to “outstanding young men and women in recognition of their exceptional efforts on behalf of Israel and the Zionist cause”. One of the prize-winners for 2006 is Swedish 26-y-o Ted Ekeroth, who was rewarded for his activities in Fidim, the Society for Israel and Democracy in the Middle East.

…Ekeroth turned out to be a core member of Sverigedemokraterna, a controversial political party on the brownish edge of the right wing…Looking at the Fidim home page, it turns out that the organisation has a strong anti-Muslim bent.

Apparently the WZO “aren’t very enthusiastic about Ekeroth anymore”.

The Sverigedemokraterna, or Swedish Democratic Party, is profiled at the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism (based in Tel Aviv):

Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden Democrats – SD) have emerged as the undisputed nationalist alternative on the Swedish political scene. With a nation-wide organization and a disciplined cadre of young activists, the party polled 76,300 votes and gained 50 seats in local councils, more than half of them in the southern Scania district. In a few towns, such as Kävlinge and Landskrona, the SD won almost 10 percent of the vote, eclipsing several traditional established parties. Nationally, the party won 1.4 percent of the vote, thus becoming the single largest party outside parliament.

SD propaganda focuses on three populist themes:

  • Anti-immigrant rhetoric claiming that immigrants are behind most violent crime and that Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to Swedish culture as well as to the Swedish judicial system.
  • Conspiracy theories alleging that mainstream democratic organizations, media and politicians are “betraying” or “selling out” the nation to a foreign “army of occupation” – the immigrants. Much of the rhetoric is directed against individual politicians, such as Minister of Integration Mona Sahlin.
  • Anti-European Union campaigning in which the EU is perceived as a threat to democracy in Europe

Mikael Jansson, the party chairman since 1995, has invested considerable effort into cleansing the fascist image of the party, in order to make it more attractive to populist voters dissatisfied with the mainstream parties.

Jansson was replaced in 2005 by Jimmie Akesson. The Wikipedia entry for the party has further information, much of it culled from Swedish newspapers.

The WZO’s unfortunate award comes just a few months after AIPAC praised Pastor John Hagee for his efforts in support of Israel; Hagee’s paranoid “Illuminati/New World Order/International Bankers” sermons are apparently not a problem. Here’s an example (the words are Hagee’s; I don’t know who’s responsible for the pictures and music).

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)

A Bit of an Understatement

“His father is a rather well-known man around the world, respected by some, not respected by others.”

— A BBC World Service interviewer tactfully asks Jane Felix Brown about her new husband’s father, Osama bin Laden.