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At UN, Russia Month Ends With Pilots Taken in Darfur, Congo Rape Meeting Deferred

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 30 -- While Russia's envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov complains loudly about the second hostage taking of Russian pilots in Darfur in a month, outgoing Security Council president Vitaly Churkin on Monday advised the Press not to make too much of the kidnappings.

   Inner City Press asked if this was a trend. The first incident, Churkin countered, was resolved, and the pilot went on vacation.  It was never announced who had taken him.

   Still, Churkin said he had met Monday morning with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the pilots, asking for the UNAMID mission to get involved. Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about the pilots at Monday's noon briefing. Nesirky did not disclose Ban's meeting with Churkin, which was not on Ban's schedule.

   Nesirky said, in response to another Inner City Press question, that Ban's 10:30 meeting with Margot Wallstrom about the Congo rapes had been postponed until the afternoon. (Atul Khare, it emerges won't be back to brieif the Council until September 8.)

  Nesirky said the Russian pilots were working for a private Sudanese company. But wasn't it working for UNAMID? Maybe, Nesirky said, maybe they were transporting food for peacekeepers. It is all murky.

 One wonders why it was never announced who took the first Russian pilot, Yevgeni Mustovchikov, and why DPKO's Alain Le Roy never got or passed on any "full understanding of the facts" behind the violence in the Kalma Camp. As with the Congo rapes, lack of accountability breeds impunity leads to repetition of the actions.

Beyond the danger to the pilots who are kidnapped, if as many believe government supported militias are behind the kidnappings, could their repetition trigger some change in Russia's position on Sudan?

We are slow to change our position, a Russian diplomat told Inner City Press after the TV lights were off.

UN's Ban (& Kim) & Churkin in Red Sq. March 2010, pilots not shown

  The next stop would be Russia's End of Presidency reception. Russia in August wanted a slow month in the Security Council, with a small party at the end. They got the Congo rape scandal and, it was promised, jovial gate crashers.

  For September, the Council president passes to Turkey, who Permanent Representative has been reviewed unfavorably, if off the record, by his Foreign Minister. This will be his chance to shine.

   In briefings for his nation's media, the Ambassador is known to defer to reporters, saying they know more than he does. One cannot imagine this from Churkin. For those following the story, former spokesman Ruslan is said to have found a better job with the Ministry back in Moscow.

France's Deputy Permanent Representative Nicolas de Riviere is setting sail, to cover international organizationss at the Quai d'Orsay. He will be replaced by Martin Briens -- and he'll be supervising, in a sense, his old boss Gerard Araud. It is musical chairs in the Council.

In terms of the next Council members coming in, South Africa says it will be running unopposed. Some said the same of Colombia, but now there's word of another candidate, probably from Central America and to the Left. Que empienzan los juegos -- let the games begin. Watch this site.

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Sudan Not on August Agenda of UN Council, Russia Against Larger Investigations But Has "Clear Picture of Bizarre Incident"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 4 -- Despite increased violence in Darfur and the stalling of talks in South Sudan about the referendum, the UN Security Council in August does not have a single Sudan item on its agenda.

Inner City Press on August 3 asked this month's Council president Vitaly Churkin of Russia how had been responsible for the hostage taking of the Russian pilot in Darfur. Video here, from Minute 20:32.

Churkin said Russian now has a “clear picture of this rather bizarre episode.” But he declined twice to say if government aligned Janjaweed had been responsible. “The Sudanese authorities did what they could,” he said. Informed sources say that Janjaweed did it in order to revive or increase payments from the Sudanese government.

Following up on the July 30 Security Council meeting on the killings in the Kalma camp, Inner City Press asked Churkin about what other Council members revealed, that Russia along with China opposed France's request for an “investigation.”

   While Churkin began, You are not accurate in your assertion, he then said that there is a danger of the UN turning into an investigative body, with “new panels springing up.” The reference, it seemed, was to the UN's advisory panel of experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka, which Russia has opposed.

In Nyala, Gambari and copter, Russian pilot and "bizarre episode" not shown

  Like China, though, and the U.S., Russia has a special envoy to Sudan, Mr. Margelov, who was quoted blaming the pilot taking on the Janjaweed.

   Calling the killings in the Kalma camp a “relatively minor incident,” Churkin said Russia had accepted a UNAMID investigation, just not a “larger investigation.” We'll see -- top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy is slated to brief the Press later today.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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