organization:information

  • #zero-trust Browsing to Reduce #cybersecurity Job Fatigue?
    https://hackernoon.com/zero-trust-browsing-to-reduce-cybersecurity-job-fatigue-7ce72a633d4?sour

    Illustration by GeraltA recent ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group) report underlines one of the less known endemic problem plaguing #infosec professionals — Job Fatigue. The recent ESG/ISSA (Information Systems #security Association) survey underlines the human costs:• 68% of cybersecurity professionals believe that a cybersecurity career can be taxing on the balance between one’s personal and professional life. • 62% of cybersecurity professionals believe that their organization is not providing an adequate level of training for them to keep up with business and IT risks.• 41% of cybersecurity professionals say that the cybersecurity skills shortage has led to a situation where the infosec staff spends a disproportionate amount of time dealing with high-priority issues and incident response. • 38% (...)

    #cybersecurity-jobs

  • Former #Venezuela Supreme Court judge flees to U.S., denounces Maduro | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-idUSKCN1P00OU


    FILE PHOTO : Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro pauses as he speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela December 12, 2018.
    REUTERS/Marco Bello

    Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Christian Zerpa has fled to the United States to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s second term that will begin with his inauguration this week, the onetime Maduro backer told a Miami broadcaster on Sunday.

    The latest defection from the crisis-stricken OPEC nation’s government comes amid growing international pressure on Maduro over his new term, which resulted from a broadly boycotted 2018 vote dismissed by countries around the world as a sham.

    I’ve decided to leave Venezuela to disavow the government of Nicolas Maduro,” Zerpa said in an interview with EVTV, which is broadcast over cable and the internet.

    I believe (Maduro) does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not free and competitive.

    The Supreme Court confirmed in a statement that he had fled, referring to him as a former magistrate and adding it opened an investigation of him in November over accusations of sexual harassment by women in his office. The court’s leadership recommended that he be dismissed over the allegations, it said, without providing details.

    Zerpa was for years a crucial ally of Maduro on the Supreme Court, which has backed the ruling Socialist Party in every major legal dispute since Maduro’s 2013 election.

    He wrote a 2016 ruling that provided the legal justification for Maduro’s government to strip congress of most of its powers after the Socialist Party lost control of the body to the opposition in a landslide election.

    Zerpa in the interview described the Supreme Court as “an appendage of the executive branch,” and said that justices were at times summoned to the presidential palace to receive instructions on how to rule on certain sensitive cases.

    The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Zerpa said he did not criticize Maduro’s May 2018 election to make sure he could pave the way for a safe exit from the country in the company of his family.

  • Uber fined £385,000 for data breach affecting millions of passengers
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/27/uber-fined-385000-for-data-breach-affecting-millions-of-passengers-hack

    Firm failed to tell 35 million users and 3.7 million drivers their data was hacked in 2016 Uber’s European operation has been fined £385,000 for a data breach that affected almost 3 million British users, the Information Commissioner’s Office has announced. In November 2016, attackers obtained credentials to access Uber’s cloud servers and downloaded 16 large files, including the records of 35 million users worldwide. The records included passengers’ full names, phone numbers, email addresses, (...)

    #Uber #données #procès #hacking #ICO-UK

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/5ebb33bc0f3d2c016a32d45738df879fec19d2fe/0_415_6932_4161/master/6932.jpg

  • UK fines Facebook £500,000 for failing to protect user data
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/25/facebook-fined-uk-privacy-access-user-data-cambridge-analytica

    Decision by information commissioner comes after Cambridge Analytica scandal Facebook has been fined £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, after allowing third party developers to access user information without sufficient consent. The ICO announcement on Thursday upholds its initial decision in July. The fine, which represents a drop in the ocean for a company that brought in $40.7bn (£31.5bn) in global revenue in 2017, was the (...)

    #CambridgeAnalytica #Facebook #élections #manipulation #électeurs #profiling #BigData

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/791367d1f965680b32dec327b89de8cd12a16632/0_219_3592_2155/master/3592.jpg

  • 2.3 million Venezuelans now live abroad

    More than 7% of Venezuela’s population has fled the country since 2014, according to the UN. That is the equivalent of the US losing the whole population of Florida in four years (plus another 100,000 people, give or take).

    The departing 2.3 million Venezuelans have mainly gone to neighboring Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Peru, putting tremendous pressure on those countries. “This is building to a crisis moment that we’ve seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean,” a spokesman for the UN’s International Organization for Migration said recently.

    This week, Peru made it a bit harder for Venezuelans to get in. The small town of Aguas Verdes has seen as many as 3,000 people a day cross the border; most of the 400,000 Venezuelans in Peru arrived in the last year. So Peru now requires a valid passport. Until now, ID cards were all that was needed.

    Ecuador tried to do the same thing but a judge said that such a move violated freedom-of-movement rules agreed to when Ecuador joined the Andean Community. Ecuador says 4,000 people a day have been crossing the border, a total of 500,000 so far. It has now created what it calls a “humanitarian corridor” by laying on buses to take Venezuelans across Ecuador, from the Colombian border to the Peruvian border.

    Brazil’s Amazon border crossing in the state of Roraima with Venezuela gets 500 people a day. It was briefly shut down earlier this month—but that, too, was overturned by a court order.

    Venezuela is suffering from severe food shortages—the UN said more than 1 million of those who had fled since 2014 are malnourished—and hyperinflation. Things could still get worse, which is really saying something for a place where prices are doubling every 26 days. The UN estimated earlier this year that 5,000 were leaving Venezuela every day; at that rate, a further 800,000 people could leave before the end of the year (paywall).

    A Gallup survey from March showed that 53% of young Venezuelans want to move abroad permanently. And all this was before an alleged drone attack on president Nicolas Maduro earlier this month made the political situation even more tense, the country’s opposition-led National Assembly said that the annual inflation rate reached 83,000% in July, and the chaotic introduction of a new currency.

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/08/venezuela-has-lost-2-3-million-people-and-it-could-get-even-worse
    #Venezuela #asile #migrations #réfugiés #cartographie #visualisation #réfugiés_vénézuéliens

    Sur ce sujet, voir aussi cette longue compilation initiée en juin 2017 :
    http://seen.li/d26k

    • Venezuela. L’Amérique latine cherche une solution à sa plus grande #crise_migratoire

      Les réunions de crise sur l’immigration ne sont pas l’apanage de l’Europe : treize pays latino-américains sont réunis depuis lundi à Quito pour tenter de trouver des solutions communes au casse-tête migratoire provoqué par l’#exode_massif des Vénézuéliens.


      https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/venezuela-lamerique-latine-cherche-une-solution-sa-plus-grand

    • Bataille de #chiffres et guerre d’images autour de la « #crise migratoire » vénézuélienne

      L’émigration massive qui touche actuellement le Venezuela est une réalité. Mais il ne faut pas confondre cette réalité et les défis humanitaires qu’elle pose avec son instrumentalisation, tant par le pouvoir vénézuélien pour se faire passer pour la victime d’un machination que par ses « ennemis » qui entendent se débarrasser d’un gouvernement qu’ils considèrent comme autoritaire et source d’instabilité dans la région. Etat des lieux d’une crise très polarisée.

      C’est un véritable scoop que nous a offert le président vénézuélien le 3 septembre dernier. Alors que son gouvernement est avare en données sur les sujets sensibles, Nicolas Maduro a chiffré pour la première fois le nombre de Vénézuéliens ayant émigré depuis deux ans à 600 000. Un chiffre vérifiable, a-t-il assuré, sans toutefois donner plus de détails.

      Ce chiffre, le premier plus ou moins officiel dans un pays où il n’y a plus de statistiques migratoires, contraste avec celui délivré par l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) et le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés (HCR). Selon ces deux organisations, 2,3 millions de Vénézuéliens vivraient à l’étranger, soit 7,2% des habitants sur un total de 31,8 millions. Pas de quoi tomber de sa chaise ! D’autres diasporas sont relativement bien plus nombreuses. Ce qui impressionne, c’est la croissance exponentielle de cette émigration sur un très court laps de temps : 1,6 million auraient quitté le pays depuis 2015 seulement. Une vague de départs qui s’est accélérée ces derniers mois et affectent inégalement de nombreux pays de la région.
      Le pouvoir vénézuélien, par la voix de sa vice-présidente, a accusé des fonctionnaires de l’ONU de gonfler les chiffres d’un « flux migratoire normal » (sic) pour justifier une « intervention humanitaire », synonyme de déstabilisation. D’autres sources estiment quant à elles qu’ils pourraient être près de quatre millions à avoir fui le pays.

      https://www.cncd.be/Bataille-de-chiffres-et-guerre-d
      #statistiques #guerre_des_chiffres

    • La formulation est tout de même étrange pour une ONG… : pas de quoi tomber de sa chaise, de même l’utilisation du mot ennemis avec guillemets. Au passage, le même pourcentage – pas si énorme …– appliqué à la population française donnerait 4,5 millions de personnes quittant la France, dont les deux tiers, soit 3 millions de personnes, au cours des deux dernières années.

      Ceci dit, pour ne pas qu’ils tombent… d’inanition, le Programme alimentaire mondial (agence de l’ONU) a besoin de sous pour nourrir les vénézuéliens qui entrent en Colombie.

      ONU necesita fondos para seguir atendiendo a emigrantes venezolanos
      http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/mundo/onu-necesita-fondos-para-seguir-atendiendo-emigrantes-venezolanos_25311

      El Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA), el principal brazo humanitario de Naciones Unidas, informó que necesita 22 millones de dólares suplementarios para atender a los venezolanos que entran a Colombia.

      «Cuando las familias inmigrantes llegan a los centros de recepción reciben alimentos calientes y pueden quedarse de tres a cinco días, pero luego tienen que irse para que otros recién llegados puedan ser atendidos», dijo el portavoz del PMA, Herve Verhoosel.
      […]
      La falta de alimentos se convierte en el principal problema para quienes atraviesan a diario la frontera entre Venezuela y Colombia, que cuenta con siete puntos de pasaje oficiales y más de un centenar informales, con más de 50% de inmigrantes que entran a Colombia por estos últimos.

      El PMA ha proporcionado ayuda alimentaria de emergencia a más de 60.000 venezolanos en los departamentos fronterizos de Arauca, La Guajira y el Norte de Santander, en Colombia, y más recientemente ha empezado también a operar en el departamento de Nariño, que tiene frontera con Ecuador.
      […]
      De acuerdo con evaluaciones recientes efectuadas por el PMA entre inmigrantes en Colombia, 80% de ellos sufren de inseguridad alimentaria.

    • Migrants du Venezuela vers la Colombie : « ni xénophobie, ni fermeture des frontières », assure le nouveau président colombien

      Le nouveau président colombien, entré en fonction depuis hier (lundi 8 octobre 2018), ne veut pas céder à la tentation d’une fermeture de la frontière avec le Venezuela.


      https://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/martinique/migrants-du-venezuela-colombie-xenophobie-fermeture-frontieres-a
      #fermeture_des_frontières #ouverture_des_frontières

    • Fleeing hardship at home, Venezuelan migrants struggle abroad, too

      Every few minutes, the reeds along the #Tachira_River rustle.

      Smugglers, in ever growing numbers, emerge with a ragtag group of Venezuelan migrants – men struggling under tattered suitcases, women hugging bundles in blankets and schoolchildren carrying backpacks. They step across rocks, wade into the muddy stream and cross illegally into Colombia.

      This is the new migration from Venezuela.

      For years, as conditions worsened in the Andean nation’s ongoing economic meltdown, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans – those who could afford to – fled by airplane and bus to other countries far and near, remaking their lives as legal immigrants.

      Now, hyperinflation, daily power cuts and worsening food shortages are prompting those with far fewer resources to flee, braving harsh geography, criminal handlers and increasingly restrictive immigration laws to try their luck just about anywhere.

      In recent weeks, Reuters spoke with dozens of Venezuelan migrants traversing their country’s Western border to seek a better life in Colombia and beyond. Few had more than the equivalent of a handful of dollars with them.

      “It was terrible, but I needed to cross,” said Dario Leal, 30, recounting his journey from the coastal state of Sucre, where he worked in a bakery that paid about $2 per month.

      At the border, he paid smugglers nearly three times that to get across and then prepared, with about $3 left, to walk the 500 km (311 miles) to Bogota, Colombia’s capital. The smugglers, in turn, paid a fee to Colombian crime gangs who allow them to operate, according to police, locals and smugglers themselves.

      As many as 1.9 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015, according to the United Nations. Combined with those who preceded them, a total of 2.6 million are believed to have left the oil-rich country. Ninety percent of recent departures, the U.N. says, remain in South America.

      The exodus, one of the biggest mass migrations ever on the continent, is weighing on neighbors. Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, which once welcomed Venezuelan migrants, recently tightened entry requirements. Police now conduct raids to detain the undocumented.

      In early October, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Colombia’s foreign minister, said as many as four million Venezuelans could be in the country by 2021, costing national coffers as much as $9 billion. “The magnitude of this challenge,” he said, “our country has never seen.”

      In Brazil, which also borders Venezuela, the government deployed troops and financing to manage the crush and treat sick, hungry and pregnant migrants. In Ecuador and Peru, workers say that Venezuelan labor lowers wages and that criminals are hiding among honest migrants.

      “There are too many of them,” said Antonio Mamani, a clothing vendor in Peru, who recently watched police fill a bus with undocumented Venezuelans near Lima.
      “WE NEED TO GO”

      By migrating illegally, migrants expose themselves to criminal networks who control prostitution, drug trafficking and other rackets. In August, Colombian investigators discovered 23 undocumented Venezuelans forced into prostitution and living in basements in the colonial city of Cartagena.

      While most migrants are avoiding such straits, no shortage of other hardship awaits – from homelessness, to unemployment, to the cold reception many get as they sleep in public squares, peddle sweets and throng already overburdened hospitals.

      Still, most press on, many on foot.

      Some join compatriots in Brazil and Colombia. Others, having spent what money they had, are walking vast regions, like Colombia’s cold Andean passes and sweltering tropical lowlands, in treks toward distant capitals, like Quito or Lima.

      Johana Narvaez, a 36-year-old mother of four, told Reuters her family left after business stalled at their small car repair shop in the rural state of Trujillo. Extra income she made selling food on the street withered because cash is scarce in a country where annual inflation, according to the opposition-led Congress, recently reached nearly 500,000 percent.

      “We can’t stay here,” she told her husband, Jairo Sulbaran, in August, after they ran out of food and survived on corn patties provided by friends. “Even on foot, we must go.” Sulbaran begged and sold old tires until they could afford bus tickets to the border.

      Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has chided migrants, warning of the hazards of migration and that emigres will end up “cleaning toilets.” He has even offered free flights back to some in a program called “Return to the Homeland,” which state television covers daily.

      Most migration, however, remains in the other direction.

      Until recently, Venezuelans could enter many South American countries with just their national identity cards. But some are toughening rules, requiring a passport or additional documentation.

      Even a passport is elusive in Venezuela.

      Paper shortages and a dysfunctional bureaucracy make the document nearly impossible to obtain, many migrants argue. Several told Reuters they waited two years in vain after applying, while a half-dozen others said they were asked for as much as $2000 in bribes by corrupt clerks to secure one.

      Maduro’s government in July said it would restructure Venezuela’s passport agency to root out “bureaucracy and corruption.” The Information Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.
      “VENEZUELA WILL END UP EMPTY”

      Many of those crossing into Colombia pay “arrastradores,” or “draggers,” to smuggle them along hundreds of trails. Five of the smugglers, all young men, told Reuters business is booming.

      “Venezuela will end up empty,” said Maikel, a 17-year-old Venezuelan smuggler, scratches across his face from traversing the bushy trails. Maikel, who declined to give his surname, said he lost count of how many migrants he has helped cross.

      Colombia, too, struggles to count illegal entries. Before the government tightened restrictions earlier this year, Colombia issued “border cards” that let holders crisscross at will. Now, Colombia says it detects about 3,000 false border cards at entry points daily.

      Despite tougher patrols along the porous, 2,200-km border, officials say it is impossible to secure outright. “It’s like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket,” said Mauricio Franco, a municipal official in charge of security in Cucuta, a nearby city.

      And it’s not just a matter of rounding up undocumented travelers.

      Powerful criminal groups, long in control of contraband commerce across the border, are now getting their cut of human traffic. Javier Barrera, a colonel in charge of police in Cucuta, said the Gulf Clan and Los Rastrojos, notorious syndicates that operate nationwide, are both involved.

      During a recent Reuters visit to several illegal crossings, Venezuelans carried cardboard, limes and car batteries as barter instead of using the bolivar, their near-worthless currency.

      Migrants pay as much as about $16 for the passage. Maikel, the arrastrador, said smugglers then pay gang operatives about $3 per migrant.

      For his crossing, Leal, the baker, carried a torn backpack and small duffel bag. His 2015 Venezuelan ID shows a healthier and happier man – before Leal began skimping on breakfast and dinner because he couldn’t afford them.

      He rested under a tree, but fretted about Colombian police. “I’m scared because the “migra” comes around,” he said, using the same term Mexican and Central American migrants use for border police in the United States.

      It doesn’t get easier as migrants move on.

      Even if relatives wired money, transfer agencies require a legally stamped passport to collect it. Bus companies are rejecting undocumented passengers to avoid fines for carrying them. A few companies risk it, but charge a premium of as much as 20 percent, according to several bus clerks near the border.

      The Sulbaran family walked and hitched some 1200 km to the Andean town of Santiago, where they have relatives. The father toured garages, but found no work.

      “People said no, others were scared,” said Narvaez, the mother. “Some Venezuelans come to Colombia to do bad things. They think we’re all like that.”

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-migration-insight/fleeing-hardship-at-home-venezuelan-migrants-struggle-abroad-too-idUSKCN1MP

      Avec ce commentaire de #Reece_Jones:

      People continue to flee Venezuela, now often resorting to #smugglers as immigration restrictions have increased

      #passeurs #fermeture_des_frontières

    • ’No more camps,’ Colombia tells Venezuelans not to settle in tent city

      Francis Montano sits on a cold pavement with her three children, all their worldly possessions stuffed into plastic bags, as she pleads to be let into a new camp for Venezuelan migrants in the Colombian capital, Bogota.

      Behind Montano, smoke snakes from woodfires set amid the bright yellow tents which are now home to hundreds of Venezuelans, erected on a former soccer pitch in a middle-class residential area in the west of the city.

      The penniless migrants, some of the millions who have fled Venezuela’s economic and social crisis, have been here more than a week, forced by city authorities to vacate a makeshift slum of plastic tarps a few miles away.

      The tent city is the first of its kind in Bogota. While authorities have established camps at the Venezuelan border, they have resisted doing so in Colombia’s interior, wary of encouraging migrants to settle instead of moving to neighboring countries or returning home.

      Its gates are guarded by police and officials from the mayor’s office and only those registered from the old slum are allowed access.

      “We’ll have to sleep on the street again, under a bridge,” said Montano, 22, whose children are all under seven years old. “I just want a roof for my kids at night.”

      According to the United Nations, an estimated 3 million Venezuelans have fled as their oil-rich country has sunk into crisis under President Nicolas Maduro. Critics accuse the Socialist leader of ravaging the economy through state interventions while clamping down on political opponents.

      The exodus - driven by violence, hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicines - amounts to one in 12 of the population, placing strain on neighboring countries, already struggling with poverty.

      Colombia, which has borne the brunt of the migration crisis, estimates it is sheltering 1 million Venezuelans, with some 3,000 arriving daily. The government says their total numbers could swell to 4 million by 2021, costing it nearly $9 billion a year.

      Municipal authorities in Bogota say the camp will provide shelter for 422 migrants through Christmas. Then in mid January, it will be dismantled in the hope jobs and new lodgings have been found.


      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-migration-colombia/no-more-camps-colombia-tells-venezuelans-not-to-settle-in-tent-city-idUSKCN

      #camps #camps_de_réfugiés #tentes #Bogotá #Bogotà

    • Creativity amid Crisis: Legal Pathways for Venezuelan Migrants in Latin America

      As more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled a rapidly collapsing economy, severe food and medical shortages, and political strife, neighboring countries—the primary recipients of these migrants—have responded with creativity and pragmatism. This policy brief explores how governments in South America, Central America, and Mexico have navigated decisions about whether and how to facilitate their entry and residence. It also examines challenges on the horizon as few Venezuelans will be able to return home any time soon.

      Across Latin America, national legal frameworks are generally open to migration, but few immigration systems have been built to manage movement on this scale and at this pace. For example, while many countries in the region have a broad definition of who is a refugee—criteria many Venezuelans fit—only Mexico has applied it in considering Venezuelans’ asylum cases. Most other Latin American countries have instead opted to use existing visa categories or migration agreements to ensure that many Venezuelans are able to enter legally, and some have run temporary programs to regularize the status of those already in the country.

      Looking to the long term, there is a need to decide what will happen when temporary statuses begin to expire. And with the crisis in Venezuela and the emigration it has spurred ongoing, there are projections that as many as 5.4 million Venezuelans may be abroad by the end of 2019. Some governments have taken steps to limit future Venezuelan arrivals, and some receiving communities have expressed frustration at the strain put on local service providers and resources. To avoid widespread backlash and to facilitate the smooth integration of Venezuelans into local communities, policymakers must tackle questions ranging from the provision of permanent status to access to public services and labor markets. Done well, this could be an opportunity to update government processes and strengthen public services in ways that benefit both newcomers and long-term residents.

      https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/legal-pathways-venezuelan-migrants-latin-america

    • Venezuela: Millions at risk, at home and abroad

      Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world and is not engulfed in war. Yet its people have been fleeing on a scale and at a rate comparable in recent memory only to Syrians at the height of the civil war and the Rohingya from Myanmar.

      As chronicled by much of our reporting collected below, some three to four million people have escaped the economic meltdown since 2015 and tried to start afresh in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. This exodus has placed enormous pressure on the region; several governments have started making it tougher for migrants to enter and find jobs.

      The many millions more who have stayed in Venezuela face an acute humanitarian crisis denied by their own government: pervasive hunger, the resurgence of disease, an absence of basic medicines, and renewed political uncertainty.

      President Nicolás Maduro has cast aside outside offers of aid, framing them as preludes to a foreign invasion and presenting accusations that the United States is once again interfering in Latin America.

      Meanwhile, the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly, has invited in assistance from the US and elsewhere.

      As aid becomes increasingly politicised, some international aid agencies have chosen to sit on the sidelines rather than risk their neutrality. Others run secretive and limited operations inside Venezuela that fly under the media radar.

      Local aid agencies, and others, have had to learn to adapt fast and fill the gaps as the Venezuelan people grow hungrier and sicker.

      https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2019/02/21/venezuela-millions-risk-home-and-abroad
      #cartographie #visualisation

    • Leaving Home Through a Darkened Border

      I’m sitting on the edge of a boat on the shore of the Grita river, a few kilometers from the Unión bridge. The border between San Antonio del Tachira (Venezuela) and Cucuta (Colombia), one of the most active in Latin America, is tense, dark and uneasy. I got there on a bus from Merida, at around 4:00 a.m., and people were commenting, between WhatsApp messages and audios, that Maduro had opened the border, closed precisely the last time I went through in a violent haze.

      Minutes after I got off the bus, I could see hundreds standing in an impossible queue for the Venezuelan immigration office, at Boca de Grita. Coyotes waited on motorbikes, telling people how much cheaper and faster it’d be if they paid to cross through the side trail. I approached the first motorbike I saw, paid 7,000 Colombian pesos (a little over $2) and sleepily made my way through the wet, muddy paths down to the river.
      Challenge 1: From Merida to the border

      Fuel shortages multiplied the bus fares to the border in less than a month; the few buses that can still make the trip are already malfunctioning. The lonely, dark roads are hunting grounds for pirates, who throw rocks at car windows or set up spikes on the pavement to blow tires. Kidnapping or robberies follow.

      The bus I was in stopped several times when the driver saw a particularly dark path ahead. He waited for the remaining drivers traveling that night to join him and create a small fleet, more difficult to attack. The criminals are after what travelers carry: U.S. dollars, Colombian pesos, Peruvian soles, gold, jewelry (which Venezuelans trade at the border for food or medicine, or a ride to Peru or Chile). “It’s a bad sign to find a checkpoint without soldiers,” the co-driver said, as he got off to stretch his legs. “We’ll stop here because it’s safe; we’ll get robbed up ahead.” Beyond the headlights, the road was lost in dusk. This trip usually takes five hours, but this time it took seven, with all the stops and checkpoints along the way.
      Challenge 2: Across the river from Venezuela to Colombia

      Reaching the river, I noticed how things had changed since the last time I visited. There was no trace of the bottles with smuggled fuel, barrels, guards or even containers over the boats. In fact, there weren’t even that many boats, just the one, small and light, pushed by a man with a wooden stick through muddy waters. I was the only passenger.

      The paracos (Colombian paramilitaries) were in a good mood. Their logic is simple: if Maduro opened the border, lots of people would try to cross, but since many couldn’t go through the bridge due to the expensive bribes demanded by the Venezuelan National Guard and immigration agents, this would be a good day for trafficking.

      The shortage of fuel in states like Tachira, Merida and Zulia destroyed their smuggling of incredibly cheap Venezuelan fuel to Colombia, and controlling the irregular crossings is now the most lucrative business. Guerrillas and paracos have been at it for a while, but now Venezuelan pro-Maduro colectivos, deployed in Tachira in February to repress protests, took over the human trafficking with gunfire, imposing a new criminal dynamic where, unlike Colombian paramilitaries, they assault and rob Venezuelan migrants.

      A woman arrives on a motorbike almost half an hour after me, and comes aboard. “Up there, they’re charging people with large suitcases between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos. It’s going to be really hard to cross today. People will grow tired, and eventually they’ll come here. They’re scared because they’ve heard stories, but everything’s faster here.”

      Her reasoning is that of someone who has grown accustomed to human trafficking, who uses these crossings every day. Perhaps she’s missing the fact that, in such a critical situation as Venezuela’s in 2019, most people can no longer pay to cross illegally and, if they have some money, they’d rather use it to bribe their way through the bridge. The binational Unión bridge, 60 km from Cucuta, isn’t that violent, making it the preferred road for families, pregnant women and the elderly.

      Coyotes get three more people on the boat, the boatman sails into the river, turns on the rudimentary diesel engine and, in a few minutes, we’re on the other side. It’s not dawn yet and I’m certain this is going to be a very long day.

      “I hope they remove those containers from the border,” an old man coming from Trujillo with a prescription for insulin tells me. “I’m sure they’ve started already.” After the failed attempt to deliver humanitarian aid in February, the crossing through the bridges was restricted to all pedestrians and only in a few exceptions a medical patient could be let through (after paying the bribe). The rest still languishes on the Colombian side.
      Challenge 3: Joining the Cucuta crowd

      I finally reach Cucuta and six hours later, mid-afternoon, I meet with American journalist Joshua Collins at the Simón Bolívar bridge. According to local news, about 70,000 people are crossing it this Saturday alone.

      The difference with what I saw last time, reporting the Venezuela Live Aid concert, is astounding: the mass of Venezuelans lifts a cloud that covers everything with a yellowish, dirty and pale nimbus. The scorching desert sunlight makes everyone bow their heads while they push each other, crossing from one side to the other. There’s a stagnant, bitter smell in the air, a kind of musk made of filth, moisture and sweat.

      Joshua points to 20 children running barefoot and shirtless after cabs and vehicles. “Those kids wait here every day for people who want to cross in or out with packs of food and merchandise. They load it all on their shoulders with straps on around their heads.” These children, who should be in school or playing with their friends, are the most active carriers nowadays, working for paramilitaries and colectivos.

      The market (where you can buy and sell whatever you can think of) seems relegated to the background: what most people want right now is to cross, buy food and return before nightfall. The crowd writhes and merges. People shout and fight, frustrated, angry and ashamed. The Colombian police tries to help, but people move how they can, where they can. It’s unstoppable.

      The deepening of the complex humanitarian crisis in the west, plus the permanent shortage of gasoline, have impoverished migrants to a dangerous degree of vulnerability. Those who simply want to reach the border face obstacles like the absence of safe transportation and well-defined enemies, such as the human trafficking networks or the pro-Maduro criminal gangs controlling the roads now. The fear of armed violence in irregular crossings and the oppressive tendencies of the people controlling them, as well as the growing xenophobia of neighboring countries towards refugees, should be making many migrants wonder whether traveling on foot is a good idea at all.

      Although the border’s now open, the regime’s walls grow thicker for the poor. This might translate into new internal migrations within Venezuela toward areas less affected by the collapse of services, such as Caracas or the eastern part of the country, and perhaps the emergence of poor and illegal settlements in those forgotten lands where neither Maduro’s regime, nor Iván Duque’s government hold any jurisdiction.

      For now, who knows what’s going to happen? The sun sets over the border and a dense cloud of dust covers all of us.

      https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2019/06/11/leaving-home-through-a-darkened-border

  • Egypt: Permits, penalties and paranoia | MadaMasr
    https://www.madamasr.com/en/2018/07/26/feature/politics/permits-penalties-and-paranoia

    Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service (SIS), the government body tasked with overseeing foreign media in Egypt, is outspoken about his belief that the Egyptian state is in open conflict with the international press.

    “We are facing the fiercest foreign media smear campaign that Egypt has encountered throughout its modern history,” Rashwan said in a television interview on the privately owned Al-Haya television station in February. He went on to detail the steps the SIS is taking in response, including issuing written reports denouncing “offensive” coverage and summoning journalists for closed-door discussions.

    Over the last few years, and particularly since Rashwan was appointed SIS head in June 2017, working conditions for foreign reporters in Egypt have gone from being difficult to a grueling daily battle with authorities, as international journalists are forced to endure an increasingly suffocating bureaucracy, public shaming, backroom intimidation and the looming threat of deportation.

    The SIS is an oversight body established in 1954 that defines its role as “the nation’s main informational, awareness and public relations agency” and closely monitors foreign media activities in Egypt. Although initially formed under the now disbanded Information Ministry, it has been operating under the office of the presidency since 2012.

    Rashwan’s tightened grip on the foreign press comes in the context of a wider state crackdown on all media, which dramatically intensified following the military-backed ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 as part of a campaign to silence any and all opposition voices. Authorities have since taken unprecedented measures against press freedoms in an effort to control the narrative about Egypt, both at home and abroad.

  • Watchdog investigates links between Canadian data firm and Vote Leave
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/11/watchdog-investigates-links-between-data-firm-aggregateiq-and-leave-cam

    Information Commissioner’s Office inquiry into AggregateIQ is one of many started by ICO in response to data misuse claims The Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating the relationship between the Canadian data firm AggregateIQ, Vote Leave and a number of other leave campaigns, the body has said in a report published on Wednesday. The investigation is one of the many started by the ICO in response to reporting by the Observer and Guardian suggesting that widespread data misuse may (...)

    #AggregateIQ #CambridgeAnalytica #Facebook #algorithme #élections #manipulation #données #BigData (...)

    ##ICO-UK
    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/c31e2e98d2cb59741980e01739bbf0cc130ab998/0_318_4928_2957/master/4928.jpg

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 07
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM07.htm

    In The Control Commission

    One afternoon General Shabalin sent for me. When I reported he handed me an invitation from American headquarters, asking him and his coworkers to take part in a conference at Frankfurt-on-Main to discuss the liquidation of the I.G. Farben Industry. “Take my car,” he said, “and drive to Zehlendorf. Hand in the list of our delegation, and find out when the plane leaves. If there isn’t a plane, obtain passes for us to use our cars for the journey.”

    It was five-fifteen when I arrived outside the American headquarters. ’Well, now I shall have to wait an hour for an interview,’ I pondered. ’And I’ve got to see Eisenhower’s economic adviser, but I haven’t any letter of introduction, only my personal documents.’

    I stopped the car at the gate and took out my documents. The American guard, in white helmet, white canvas belt, and white gaiters, raised his white-gloved hand in salute and seemed to be completely uninterested in my documents. To give some excuse for stopping the car, I asked him some meaningless question. Without speaking, he pointed to a board with an arrow and the one word: ’Information’. I drove past the Information Bureau slowly, and glanced back casually to see whether anybody was watching me. ’I’ll find what I want, myself; it’s a good opportunity to have a look round without trouble. I’ll see what sort of fellows these Americans are. They may not pull me up at once. And if necessary I’ll simply say I took the wrong way.’

    I strictly ordered Misha to remain in the car and not stir a step. Who knows whether he might be kidnapped, and then I’d lose my head!

    I went along a corridor. All the doors were wide open, the rooms were empty. Here and there German women cleaners were sweeping the floors. On each door was an ordinary tablet: ’Major So-and-so’ or ’Colonel So-and-so’, and the name of the department. What on earth did it all means? Not a sign of security precautions. We Soviet authorities did not hang out name-boards on the doors to inform our internal and external enemies who was inside.

    I felt a little uncomfortable, almost queer, with anxiety. As though I had got into a secret department by accident and was afraid of being caught. In search of the right room I looked at one nameplate after another and felt as though I was a spy going through the card index of an enemy General Staff. And I was in full Soviet uniform, too!

    One of our officers had once told me there was no point in visiting an American office after five p. m. “After that they’re all out with German girls,” he explained, and I couldn’t be sure whether his words expressed contempt or simply envy of American methods. “They think anyone who sits in an office after office-hours doesn’t know how to work or arrange his time.”

    ’He was right,’ I thought now. ’The Americans obviously don’t intend to work themselves to death. General Shabalin’s working day really begins at seven in the evening. I suppose I must apply to “Information” after all.’

    In the Information Bureau I found two negroes extended in easy chairs, their feet on the desk. They were chewing gum. I had some difficulty in getting them to understand that I wanted to speak to General Clay. Without stopping his chewing one of them called something incomprehensible through a small window into the next room. Even if I had been President Truman, Marshal Stalin, or a horned devil, I doubt whether he would have removed his feet from the desk or shifted the gum from his right to his left cheek. And yet ’Information’ functioned perfectly: a sergeant behind the window said something into a telephone, and a few minutes later an American lieutenant arrived and courteously asked me to follow him.

    In General Clay’s outer office a woman secretary was turning over the pages of a glossy magazine. ’She’ll probably put her feet on the typewriter too,’ I thought, and prudently sat down at a safe distance. While I was wondering whether to remain silent or enter into conversation with the ’Allies’, a long-nosed little soldier burst through the door leading to the general’s room. He tore through the outer office and snatched his cap down from a nail, saying a few hurried words to the secretary.

    ’The general must be a bit of a martinet, if his men rush about like that,’ I thought.

    At that moment the soldier held out his hand to me and let loose a flood of words which overwhelmed my weak knowledge of English. “General Clay,” the secretary said in an explanatory tone behind my back. Before I could recover my wits the general had vanished again. He wasn’t a general; he was an atom bomb! All I had under-stood was ’Okay’; and that the necessary order had already been issued. And in addition, that here it wasn’t at all easy to tell the difference between a general and a GI The privates stretched themselves out with their feet on the desk while the generals tore around like messenger boys.

    Another officer appeared at the same door, and invited me into his room. This time I prudently glanced at his tabs. Another general! Without offering me a chair, but not sitting down himself, the general listened to me with cool efficiency. Then he nodded and went out.

    I looked round the room. A modest writing desk. Modest inkstands. A thick wad of newspapers. A number of pencils. Nothing unnecessary. A room to work in, not to catch flies in. When a writing desk adequate for General Shabalin’s rank was required, all Karlshorst and all the booty warehouses were turned upside down. The inkstands were obtained specially from Dresden for him.

    A little later the American general returned and told me, apparently on the basis of a telephone conversation, when the aeroplane would be ready. I had plenty of opportunities to see later on that where we Soviet authorities would demand a ’document’ signed by three generals and duly stamped, the Americans found a telephone conversation sufficient.

    I did not have to present the list of the Soviet delegation at all. Here everything was done without resort to a liaison service and without any counter-check by the Ministry of Internal Affairs! The general handed me a packet of materials on the I.G. Farben Industry, so that we could familiarize ourselves with the tasks of the conference.

    Next morning the Soviet delegation, consisting of General Shabalin, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov, Major Kuznetsov, two interpreters, and myself went to the Tempelhof landing ground. There the sergeant on duty explained that he had been fully informed concerning us, and spent a little time in phoning to various offices. Then he asked us to wait, as our plane would be starting rather later than arranged. I had the feeling that the Americans were holding up our departure for some reason. Machines rolled slowly on to the tarmac in the distance, but not one of them showed the least intention of taking us with it. The general swore, and, as he did not know whom to vent his anger upon, he turned to me. “What did they really say to you yesterday? Why didn’t you get it in writing?”

    “I was quite clearly informed,” I answered; “this morning at ten, the Tempelhof airground. A special machine would be waiting for us, and the airport commandant was notified.”

    The general clasped his hands behind his back, drew his head down between his shoulders, and marched up and down the concrete road outside the building without deigning to give us another glance.

    To pass the time. Major Kuznetsov and I began to make a closer inspection of the landing ground. Not far away an American soldier in overalls was hanging about, giving us inquisitively friendly glances, and obviously seeking an excuse to speak to us. Now a blunt-nosed Douglas rolled up to the start. During the war these transport machines had reached the Soviet Union in wholesale quantities as part of the lend-lease deliveries; every Russian knew them. The American soldier smiled, pointed to the machine, and said:"S-47."

    I looked to where he was pointing, and corrected him: “Douglas.” He shook his head and said: “No... no. S-47. Sikorsky... Russian constructor....”

    ’Was it really one of Igor Sikorsky’s designs?’ I wondered. Sikorsky had been the pioneer of Russian aviation in the first world war, and the constructor of the first multi-engine machine, Ilya Mourometz. I knew that, like Boris Seversky, he was working in the field of American aviation, but I had not known that the Douglas was his job. It was interesting that Pravda hadn’t taken the opportunity to make a big song of it.

    The soldier pointed his finger first at the clock, then into the sky. With his hand he imitated a plane landing, and explained as he pointed to the ground: “General Eisenhower.”

    ’Well, if General Eisenhower’s arriving,’ I thought, ’that probably explains why we couldn’t start.’

    While we were talking to the soldier a machine grounded just behind us, and a group of cheerful old gentlemen poured out of it. Like a horde of children just out of school they surrounded General Shabalin and began to shake his hand so heartily that you would have thought it was the one thing they had flown from America for. The general was carried away by their exuberance and shook their hands in turn. Later it transpired that they had mistaken Shabalin for General Zhukov. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov had found out somewhere that these gay old boys were American senators, who were on their way to Moscow. He whispered this news into the general’s ear, but it was too late. Shabalin had already exchanged cordial handshakes with these sworn enemies of the communist order.

    All around them, camera shutters were clicking. The senators seemed to get a great kick out of posing with General Shabalin, holding his hands. The general had little wish to be photographed in such compromising company, but he had to put a good face on it. He was quite convinced that all these photos would find their way into the archives of some foreign secret service, and thence into the archives of the Narcomvnudel. And then the fat would be in the fire.

    Major Kuznetsov asked Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov incredulously: “But are they really senators?”

    “Yes, and the very worst of them all, the Senate Political Commission,” Orlov replied.

    “But they don’t look at all like capitalists.” Kuznetsov still felt dubious.

    “Yes, they look quite harmless; but they’ve got millions in their pockets. They’re cold-blooded sharks,” Orlov retorted. Evidently he regarded it as a mortal sin to have money in one’s pocket. But then, he was a dyed-in-the-wool party man.

    “So they’re the lords of America, and they behave like that. Now if one of our ministers....” Kuznetsov’s reflections were interrupted by the arrival of a column of closed cars, which drove straight on to the landing ground. A group of Soviet officers stepped out. The gold braid on their caps and the red piping on their coats showed that they were generals.

    “Now we’re in for a parade!” Kuznetsov muttered. “That’s Marshal Zhukov and all his staff. We’d better take cover in the bushes.”

    General Shabalin seemed to be of the same opinion. He had not been invited to this meeting, and to be an uninvited guest of Marshal Zhukov was rather a ticklish matter. But his general’s uniform made it impossible for him to hide behind others’ backs.

    In this hour of need the lively old gentlemen from America came to the rescue. With unreserved ’Hellos’, friendly handshakes and back-slayings, an unstained, friendly atmosphere was created. “I like these senators!” Kuznetsov enthused. “They slap hands together like a lot of horse-dealers at a market. Great old boys!” He licked his lips as though he had just drunk to brotherhood with the American senators.

    Marshal Zhukov, a medium-sized, thickset man with a prominent chin, always dressed and behaved with unusual simplicity. He took hardly any notice of the bustle all around him, but seemed to be waiting for the moment when they would come at last to business. Unlike many other generals who owed their career to the war, by all his bearing he clearly showed that he was only a soldier. It was characteristic of the man that, without any encouragement from official Kremlin propaganda, he had become known all over Russia as the second Kutuzov, as the savior of the fatherland in the second great patriotic war.

    The airground grew more and more animated. Forces of military police in parade uniforms marched on. The servicing personnel hurried to and from. A guard of honor took up its position not far from us.

    A four-engine machine landed quietly. The swarm of autograph hunters suffered disillusionment: double rows of guards swiftly and thoroughly cut them off from the landing spot.

    Major Kuznetzov looked at the guards and remarked: “Clean work! Look at those cutthroats. They must have been taken into the army straight from gangsterdom.”

    The first line of military police was certainly an impressive lot. They looked pretty sinister, even though they were clean-shaven. The second line might well have been pugilists and cowboys, mounted not on horses but on motorcycles that made more noise than aeroplanes.

    Meanwhile the guard of honor had begun to perform some extraordinary exercise. The men raised their arms shoulder-high and spread out as though about to do Swedish gymnastics. Decidedly inept and un-military by our standards. “It reminds me of operetta,” Kuznetsov said to the lieutenant-general. “What are they doing that for?”

    Orlov waved his hand contemptuously. “Like senators, like soldiers! They’re chocolate soldiers. Give them black bread to eat and they’d be ill.”

    “Are you so fond of black bread then?” Kuznetsov sneered. “Or are you simply concerned for well-being of your fellowmen, as usual?”

    Orlov ignored the questions. He was attached to our delegation as a legal expert. Also, he was public prosecutor to the military court, and knew well enough what might be the consequences of talking too frankly.

    General Eisenhower stepped out of the plane, wearing a soldier’s greatcoat, the usual broad grin on his face. He greeted Marshal Zhukov. Then he signed a few autographs, asked where they could have breakfast, and took Zhukov off with him.

    Hardly had the distinguished guests departed when the dispatcher announced that our plane was ready to start. Now we knew why we had had to wait so long.

    A man in the uniform of an American brigadier-general addressed General Shabalin in the purest of Russian. Apparently he had learnt that we were flying to Frankfurt, and now he offered us his services. He spoke better Russian than we did, if I may put it so. He had left Russia thirty or more years before, and spoke the kind of Russian common in the old aristocratic circles. Our speech had been modified by the new conditions, it was contaminated with jargon and included a mess of new words.

    I had no idea why Eisenhower and Zhukov were flying to Russia. The Soviet papers carried no official communiqué on the subject. A week later, as I was making my usual report to General Shabalin, he asked me: “Do you know why Eisenhower flew to Moscow?”

    “Probably to be a guest of honor at the recent parade,” I answered.

    “We know how to be hospitable,” the general said. “They entertained him with such excellent vodka that he sang songs all night. Arm in arm with Budionny. They always bring out Budionny as an ornament on such occasions.” Apparently that was all the general knew about Eisenhower’s visit to Moscow; but he put his finger to his lips, then wagged it admonitorily.

    Such small incidents clearly revealed the true position of the man who was deputy head of the S. M. A. He was really nothing but an errand-boy, and only by accident knew what was happening ’above’.

    An American officer stepped into Major Kuznetsov’s room. He thrust his cap in the hip pocket of his trousers, then swung his hand up to his uncovered head in salute. After which he introduced himself in the purest of Russian: “John Yablokov, captain of the American Army.”

    Kuznetsov was a very intelligent man, but he was also a humorist and a bit of a wag. He replied to the American with: “Greetings, Ivan Ivanovich! How do you do!”

    The American Ivan Ivanovich seemed to be no greenhorn, and he did not allow the major’s sneering smile to put him out. In fact, it transpired later that John Yablokov was one of those men who are the life and soul of the party. Either to please us or to show that, although American, he was a progressive; he rejoiced our ears with a flood of Russian oaths that would have brought down the Empire State Building. But that was later. At the moment Captain Yablokov had arrived on an official visit to invite General Shabalin to the first organizational conference of the Control Commission Economic Directorate. The general twisted the invitation and the agenda paper (both were in English) between his fingers. Trying not to reveal that English was all Greek to him, he asked: “Well, what’s the news your way?”

    A second American officer who had accompanied Captain Yablokov answered also in Russian: “Our chief, General Draper, has the honor to invite you to a...” He did not seem very well acquainted with the terminology of Red conferences, and was forced to fall back on the wording of the invitation: “... to a meeting, General.”

    Now the general was seated comfortably in the saddle. He did not know English, but he knew the Stalinist terminology thoroughly. He gave the American the sort of look he had given subordinate Party officials in his capacity as secretary of the Sverdlovsk District Party Committee, and explained in a hortatory tone: “We have to work, not attend meetings.”

    That was a standing Stalinist phrase, which all party officials used as a lash. But at this juncture it sounded rather rude. However, the general held to the principle that too much butter can’t spoil any bread, and that Stalin’s words can never be repeated enough.

    I sat in a corner and enjoyed myself immensely. The general would be starting to give the Americans a lecture on party training next. As was his habit in intercourse with foreigners, he observed the unwritten law never to trust one interpreter and always to apply the method of cross-examination, especially when the interpreter belonged to the other camp. While the Americans did their best to explain what they meant by a ’meeting’, I, too, attempted to help. The general never liked being prompted, but he always snorted afterwards: “Why didn’t you say so before?” So I tactfully observed: “It’s not really important, Comrade General. Let them hold their meeting and we’ll work.”

    After we had settled a number of minor questions the Americans went back to their Chevrolet and drove home. Major Kuznetsov remarked: “But they could talk excellent Russian. The one with the little mustache looked like Douglas Fairbanks.” The general pulled him up: “You can see at once what sort of birds they are. That fellow strikes me as Chinese. They’re spies.”

    The general appeared to fathom the true nature of his future colleagues extraordinarily well! A few days later, during a talk, Captain Yablokov informed me quite frankly that he had formerly worked in the American secret service in China. He did not appear to think he was in any way betraying service secrets. If a Soviet officer had mentioned such a fact he would have been committing a serious breach of his duty.

    Some days later we drove to the first meeting of the Control Commission; we went with the firm intention of working and not holding meetings. The Allied Control Commission had taken over the former Palace of Justice in Elshoizstrasse. The conference hall was almost empty; the delegations were only just beginning to assemble. I felt genuinely afraid that I would be exposed to ridicule: we had no interpreter with us, and I didn’t know English too well. When I mentioned this to the general he told me curtly: “You should know!” Another Party slogan, but it didn’t make things any easier for me. Until the meeting was officially opened we relied on German, for all the Allies without exception could speak German more or less well.

    When the general noticed that I was talking to French and English colleagues he barked at me as he passed: “You wait, Major, I’ll cure you of your mock modesty! You and your ’don’t know English’! Now you’re talking away, even to the French, nineteen to the dozen, but you never told me you knew French.” It was hopeless to think of explaining. And the general would probably stick me in a comer to exercise control over the French interpreters too, as he had done with the Americans.

    That, too, was due to the general’s Party experience. It is a common thing in the Soviet Union for specialists and experts to dodge responsible posts. Gifted engineers, or former directors of large trusts and combines, get appointments as ’technical managers’ to some small factory or a cooperative of war-wounded, which employs only five or six workmen. In such positions they are less exposed to the risk of being flung behind the bars as ’saboteurs’, and so they keep quiet about their abilities and their diplomas. The Party officials are aware of this trick, and do their utmost to round up the ’pretenders’. And so even if you try to escape responsibility you’re in the wrong: you’re a ’passive saboteur’.

    I breathed a sigh of relief when I discovered that the American and British delegations had first-class Russian interpreters.

    Another difficult problem for me was my uniform. I looked as though I had covered the entire journey from Stalingrad to Berlin crawling on my belly. My uniform had been washed in all the rivers of Russia and Eastern Europe, the color had faded from it completely; in addition, I was wearing ordinary military boots. Before we drove to the conference General Shabalin gave me a critical look up and down and snarled: “Haven’t you got any shabbier-clothes you can wear?” He knew quite well that I had left my good uniforms in Moscow as an iron reserve.

    Many of us took the view that, after all, the army wasn’t a puppet-show, and in any case children were running about naked at home. One man had a little sister, another a young nephew. Warm clothes or breeches could be made for them out of a uniform, and the kids would be hugely delighted: “Uncle Gregory has fought in this uniform,” the child would say, pointing proudly to the holes left by the pins of orders. I, too, had left several complete outfits in Moscow. In any case I would be getting the so-called ’Foreign Equipment’ when I reached Berlin. Only I had overlooked the possibility that I would have to take part in meetings of the Control Commission before the new equipment arrived.

    As our Administration for Economy developed its organization and activities, more and more men arrived from Moscow to work with us. Usually, deputies of the People’s Commissars for the corresponding Moscow commissariats were appointed heads of the S. M. A. departments, which in practice were functioning as the ministries of the Soviet zone. One and all, these men were old Party officials, specialists in the running of Soviet economic affairs. When they took over their new posts one could hardly avoid laughing: they were pure crusaders of communism.

    In due course we were rejoiced at the sight of the newly appointed head of the Industrial Department, Alexandrov, and his deputy, Smirnov. They both wore squeaking, highlegged boots of Stalin pattern, which its creator had himself long since discarded. Above the boots they had riding breeches of heavy overcoating material, and to crown this rigout they had dark blue military tunics dating from the period of revolutionary communism. At one time such attire was very fashionable among Party officials, from the local chairmen of Machinery-Tractor Stations right up to People’s Commissars, for it was symbolical not only of outward, but of inward devotion to the leader. For a long time now the People’s Commissars had been wearing ordinary European clothes, and one came across antiquated garb chiefly in remote collective farms. I can imagine what sort of impression these scarecrows made on the Germans; they were exact copies of the Hitlerite caricatures of bolsheviks.

    It was not long before these over-zealous Party crusaders them-selves felt that their historical costumes were hardly suited to the changed conditions, and gradually began to adapt themselves to their surroundings. Later still, all the civilian personnel of the S. M. A. were dressed in accordance with the latest European fashions, and even with a touch of elegance. All the leading officials, especially those occupied in the Control Commission, received coupons en-titling them to ’foreign equipment’ corresponding with their position.

    I stood at a window, talking to the head of the French delegation, General Sergent. Our conversation was on quite unimportant subjects, and I prudently tried to keep it concentrated on the weather. Prudence was always advisable; this Frenchman might be a communist at heart, or in all innocence he might repeat our conversation to someone, and in the end it would find its way... I knew too well from my own experience how thoroughly our secret service was informed of all that went on among the Allies.

    When we Soviet officers working in the Control Commission discussed our impressions some time later I realized why we were all cautioned against talking with foreigners. A captain remarked: “All these stories about spies are only in order to make us keep our mouths shut. It’s to prevent our giving away other secrets.” He said no more; we didn’t talk about those secrets even to each other.

    The Control Commission session began punctually at ten o’clock. After settling the details of the agenda relating to the work of the Economic Directorate, the times of meeting, and the rotation of chairmanship, we turned to drawing up the agenda for the next meeting. The head of the American delegation, which was chairman at this first meeting, proposed that the first item on the agenda should be: ’Working out of basic policy for the economic demilitarization of Germany.’

    The Potsdam Conference had ended the previous week; at the conference it had been decided to demilitarize Germany economically, so that restoration of German military power would be impossible, and to draw up a peacetime economic potential for the country. The decision was remitted to the Allied Control Commission to be put into effect.

    The interpreters now translated the chairman’s phrase into Russian as: ’Working out the policy of economic demobilization.’ Another of those borderline cases in linguistics! The English formula had used the word ’policy’. The interpreters translated this literally into the Russian word ’politik1, although the English word had a much wider meaning, and the Russian phrase for ’guiding principles’ would have been a more satisfactory translation.

    At the word ’politick’ General Shabalin sprang up as though stung. “What ’politick’? All the political questions were settled at the Potsdam Conference!”

    The American chairman. General Draper, agreed: “Quite correct, they were. Our task is simply to translate the decision into action, and so we have to lay down the guiding policy...”

    The interpreters, both American and English, again translated with one accord: “... ’Politick’.”

    General Shabalin stuck to his guns: “There must be nothing about politics. That’s all settled. Please don’t try to exert pressure on me.”

    “But it’s got nothing to do with politics,” the interpreters tried to reassure him. “The word is ’policy’.”

    “I see no difference,” the general objected. “I have no intention of revising the Potsdam Conference. We’re here to work, not to hold meetings.”

    That was the beginning of the first hour-long battle round the oval table. Solely and simply over the awkward word ’policy’, which General Shabalin was not prepared to see in the agenda or in the minutes of the meeting.

    It was often said in the economic spheres of the S. M. A. headquarters that the Kremlin regarded the decisions of the Potsdam Conference as a great victory for Soviet diplomacy. The Moscow instructions emphasized this aspect at every opportunity. At the Potsdam Conference the Soviet diplomats won concessions from the Western Allies to an extent that the diplomats themselves had not expected. Perhaps this was due to the intoxication of victory and an honorable desire to recompense Russia for her heroic exertions and incredible sacrifices. And perhaps it was due to the circumstance that two new Allied representatives took part in the conference, and that President Truman and Mr. Attlee had not yet got to the bottom of the methods of Soviet diplomacy.

    The Potsdam Agreement practically gave the Soviet Union the right of disposal of Germany. Its terms were expressed in very subtle language, and they were open to various constructions later on, whenever it seemed desirable. The task of the S. M. A. now was to extract full value from the advantages won by Soviet diplomacy. “Nothing of politick!” General Shabalin defended himself like a bear threatened with a javelin. And in all probability he was thinking: ’Do you want to send me to Siberia?’ Once more the old reaction of even the highest of Soviet officials, not to do anything on their own responsibility and risk. One reason why all decisions is made from above.

    Subsequently I myself saw that the American or the British delegation could change its decisions in the actual course of negotiations. But the Soviet delegation always came and went with previously formulated decisions, or else with red questionmarks on the appropriate document, which the general kept in a red document-case always under his hand. At the Control Council he acted more like a messenger than an active partner. A question that arose in the course of discussion was never decided the same day, it was only discussed.

    Then the general would return to his office and make direct telephonic contact that night with Moscow. Usually Mikoyan, a member of the Politburo and plenipotentiary extraordinary for Germany under the Ministerial Council of the U. S. S. R., was at the Moscow end of the line. He was in effect the Kremlin’s viceroy for Germany. And during those telephone conversations the decisions were taken, or rather the orders were issued, on which the Allied delegations later broke their teeth.

    Even at that first meeting with the Allies one could not help noticing a great difference between them and us. They welcomed us as joint victors and sincere allies in war and peace. Each of their delegations approached questions from the national aspect. And they considered that there could be no conflict of national interests or antagonisms among us victor powers, neither then nor in the immediate future. They assumed that this was a simple fact that must be as clear to us as it was to them.

    We, on the other hand, regarded the ’Allies’ as the opposing party, as enemies with whom we had to sit at the one table only for tactical reasons. We decided questions from the ideological aspect. The Allies believed that Marx and Lenin were dead. But now the shades of these two men stood behind us in the Control Commission conference hall. The Allies could not understand that? So much the worse for them!

    Generally speaking, the members of the delegations not only represented their state interests, but were also unusually typical representatives of their respective nations. Of course this doesn’t mean that Dimitry Shabalin smoked the coarse Russian Mahorka tobacco or that William Draper chewed gum. Not, at any rate, during the sessions.

    The American delegation was headed by the American director in the Economic Directorate, General William Draper: a thin, athletic figure, with angular, swarthy features-a lively and energetic man. When he laughed, he revealed the spotless white of strong, wolfish teeth beneath his black mustache. Better not put your finger between those teeth! He set the tone at the sessions, even when he was not in the chair. He had an abundance of the healthy energy peculiar to young, self-confident nations. I don’t know how many millions General Draper really had in his pocket, I know only that General Shabalin remarked more than once: “Ah! A millionaire! A shark!” It would have been interesting to know what he based his remark on: his communist beliefs or the reports of our secret service.

    The head of the British delegation and the British director of the Economic Directorate were Sir Percy Mills. A typical Briton. He gave off the smell of fog and Trafalgar Square. He wore a military uniform of thick cloth, with no insignia of rank. From the way everybody deferred to his opinion it was obvious that he was a recognized authority in the economic field. According to General Shabalin he was a director of the large British firm of Metro-Vickers. He was painfully clean-shaven; if he ever thought it necessary to smile, only the folds around his mouth came into action, while his eyes remained fixed on his documents and his ears listened closely to his numerous advisers.

    In the person of Sir Percy Mills, Great Britain worked hard, but always paid attention to the voice of its young ally and victorious rival, America.

    At the conference table of the Control Commission the historical changes that had occurred in the world influence of the various great powers were very perceptible. Great Britain had played out her role, and now, with a pride born of self-confidence, was surrendering her place to the younger and stronger. As befitted a gentleman!

    France was the reflection of all the greatness to be found in European culture. But only the reflection. Her representatives were the successors to Bonaparte and Voltaire, the contemporaries of Pierre Petain and Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism. How to keep one’s head above water. The French director of the Economic Directorate, General Sergent, had nothing better to do than to maneuver as tactfully as possible, and not agree too completely with the West, nor be too much in opposition to the East.

    The great Eastern Ally was represented by General Shabalin, a man who had a mortal terror of the word ’politick’, and by Major Klimov, who simultaneously performed the duties of secretary, interpreter, and general adviser. The Soviet side could have been represented just as successfully by one man to act as a postman. However, in those days I still naively believed that something was really being decided in those meetings. And, although we were armed to the teeth with communist theory, I felt really uncomfortable when I noted the large size of the other delegations and the sort of men who composed them.

    ’Nothing new in the West.’ The Allies, as one man, clung to the word ’policy’, while for three hours General Shabalin repeated: “Nothing of politick... At the Potsdam Conference....” In confirmation of his views he took a newspaper from his document-case and pointed to a passage underlined in red. Then his fellow-members in the commission also brought out newspapers and began to compare the texts. Truly, it was very interesting to take part in one session of the Control Commission; it was more interesting than the operetta. But to take part in them week after week was dangerous: one might easily have a nervous breakdown. Half a day spent in fighting over one word in the agenda for the next meeting!

    The members of the other delegations looked more and more frequently at their watches. The Western European stomach is used to punctuality. At last even General Shabalin lost his patience and he officially demanded: “What is it you really want to do to me: violate me? Yes?” The interpreters wondered whether they had heard aright, and asked irresolutely, not knowing whether to regard his remark as a joke: “Are we to translate that literally?”

    “Of course, literally,” the general obstinately replied.

    Sir Percy Mills tried to indicate that he found it highly amusing, and twisted his lips into a smile. The chairman for the session, General Draper, rose and said: “I propose that we adjourn the meeting. Let’s go and have some eats.” It was difficult to tell whether he really was hungry or whether he was fed up with Soviet diplomacy. Everybody breathed more easily, and the sitting ended.

    We departed as victors. We had won a whole week. The same night General Shabalin would be able to ask Comrade Mikoyan whether the word ’politick’ could be included on the agenda or not.

    While we were holding our meeting, the Special Committee for Dismantling, and the Reparations Department, with General Zorin at its head, was hard at work. The Allies would be faced with an accomplished fact. Okay! In the last resort each defends his own interests.

    The Control Commission gave me my first opportunity to get to know our Western Allies personally. During the war I had come across, or rather seen, many Americans and British in Gorky, and later in Moscow. But I had then had no official excuse for personal contact with them, and without the special permission of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs even the most harmless acquaintance, even a conversation with a foreigner, is sheer lunacy in the Soviet True, there is no open interdiction, but every Soviet citizen knows exactly what unfortunate consequences are entailed by such thoughtless behavior. Give a foreigner a light for his cigarette in the street and you are hauled immediately before the Ministry for Internal Affairs and subjected to strict interrogation. That, at the best. At the worst, one disappears into a Minvnudel camp, for ’spying’, and thus one helps to fill out the labor reserve.

    To stop all contact between Soviet people and foreigners, the Kremlin spreads the story that all foreigners are spies. So anybody who has any contact with a foreigner is also a spy. It’s as simple as that.

    One of the Soviet government’s greatest achievements has been to raise lawlessness to a law, with all the paralyzing fear of ’authority’ that follows from it. Every individual lives in a state of anxiety. The Kremlin exploits this mood as a highly effective means of training and guiding the masses. Not even the members of the Politburo are free from it.

    Once, after one of the usual fruitless debates in the Control Commission, Sir Percy Mills proposed that we adjourn, and then invited the members of the other delegations to lunch with him.

    General Shabalin went and rode with his British colleague. I had received no instructions whatever so I got into the general’s seat in our car and ordered Misha to drive immediately behind the one in which our chief was traveling. I entered Sir Percy’s house with decidedly mixed feelings. All the guests left their hats and document-cases on a small table or on the hallstand. The maid-servant took my cap from me, and held out her hand to take my document-case. I was at a loss to know what to do; it was the general’s red case that I was carrying. It had nothing of importance in it: just the minutes of the last sitting, which on this occasion had been sent to us by the British. I couldn’t leave the case in the car, but to leave it on the hall table with the others would have been a crime against the State. Yet to take it with me looked rather silly.

    General Shabalin himself rescued me from my awkward situation. He came across to me and said quietly:

    “What are you doing here. Major? Go and wait for me in the car.”

    I felt relieved, went out, got into our car, and lit a cigarette. A few minutes later a British captain, Sir Percy Mills’ adjutant, came to the door and invited me in again. I tried to get out of it by saying I wasn’t hungry, but he stared at me in such bewilderment that there was nothing to be done but follow him. As I entered the hall where the guests were waiting the general gave me a sidelong look, but said nothing. Later it transpired that our host had asked his permission to send the adjutant for me. The British are justly famous as the most tactful people in the world.

    I gave the document-case to the general. Of all the idiotic possibilities that seemed the most harmless. Let him feel a fool!

    I stood at a great Venetian window looking out on to the garden, and talked to Brigadier Bader. The brigadier was a real colonial wolf. Sandy, sunbleached hair and eyebrows, gray, lively eyes behind bleached eyelashes, a complexion dry with the tropical sun. According to General Shabalin’s amiable description he was nothing less than one of the cleverest of international spies. And now I had the honor of chatting with this distinguished person. We talked in a mixture of English and German.

    “How do you like being in Germany?” he asked.

    “Oh, not bad!” I answered.

    “Everything’s kaput,” he went on.

    “Oh yes, ganz kaput,” I agreed.

    After disposing of German problems we turned to others. The summer of 1945 was unusually hot, and I asked:

    “After the English climate, don’t you find it very hot here?”

    “Oh no, I’m used to the heat,” he smiled. “I’ve spent many years in the colonies, in Africa and India.”

    I carefully avoided addressing my companion directly. What form of address was I to use? ’Herr’? That was rather awkward. To our ears ’mister’ sounds contemptuous. ’Comrade’? No, for the time being I kept off that word.

    Just then I noticed General Shabalin’s eyes fixed on me. In all probability my chief was afraid the brigadier was already enrolling me as his agent. At that very moment a maid came up to us with a tray. Bader took one of the small glasses of colorless fluid, raised it to eye-level, and invited me to help myself. I put the glass to my lips, then set it down on the windowsill. While the brigadier had his eyes turned away for a second I threw the whisky out of the window. Stupid, I know, but it was the only thing to be done. And the worst of it was that the general would never believe I had performed such a patriotic act. Whether flung down my throat or out of the window, that whisky would be put to the debit side of my personal account.

    An air of open cordiality and hospitality reigned in the room where we were waiting for Sir Percy Mills to take us to lunch. This inter-national assembly felt no constraint in face of that variety of uniforms and babel of tongues. Only the Soviet delegate Kurmashev, head of the S. M. A. Fuel and Power Department, sat alone in his easy chair, one leg crossed over the other, and apparently suffering torments. He felt more uncomfortable than a missionary among cannibals; he wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked again and again at the clock. When we were invited to the dining room he clearly heaved a sigh of relief. I am sure he would have been only too glad to talk to his neighbor, even if he had had to resort to sign language; he would have been delighted to laugh and toss off a couple of whiskies. But he was not a man like other men. He was the representative, and the slave, of communist philosophy.

    At table General Shabalin sat on the right hand of his host, who conversed with him through an interpreter. His uniform gave him confidence and certainly more sureness than was possessed by Kurmashev, who was a civilian. But in his civilian clothes Kurmashev tried to show that he was completely indifferent to all that went on around him, and tackled his food with the utmost ferocity. It was no easy task to fill your mouth so full that you couldn’t talk with your neighbors.

    My chief smiled formally and forced out a laugh at Sir Percy’s jokes. But for his part he made no attempt to keep the conversation going. No wonder the British think it difficult to talk to Russians not only at the conference, but even at the dining table. At one time we contemptuously called the English narrow-minded; now the boot is on the other foot.

    I was sitting at the far end of the table, between Brigadier Bader and the British adjutant. As I chanced to look up from my plate I met General Shabalin’s eyes gazing at me keenly. The longer the lunch continued the more the general eased his bolshevik armor plate, and finally he went so far as to propose a toast to our host. But meanwhile he gave me frequent interrogative glances.

    Of course I knew the general was in duty bound to keep an eye on me. But I noticed that he was not so much watching me as attempting to decide whether I was watching him. He was firmly convinced that I had been set to watch over him. Kurmashev was afraid of the general, the general was on his guard against me, and I distrusted myself. The higher one climbs in the Soviet hierarchy, the more one is gripped by this constant fear and distrust.

    And the one who suffers most of all from this remarkable system is its creator. When one observed how Soviet higher officials suffered from fear and distrusts one lost all desire to make a Soviet career. General Shabalin had been unquestionably a much happier man when he was minding sheep or tilling the soil.

    After lunch we all gathered again in the hall. Brigadier Bader offered me a thick cigar with a gold band, and wrapped in cellophane. I turned it over curiously in my fingers. A real Havana! Hitherto I had known them only from caricatures, in which millionaires always had them stuck between their teeth. With the air of an experienced cigar-smoker I tried to bite off the tip, but that damned cigar was tough. I got a mouthful of bitter leaf, and to make matters worse I couldn’t spit it out.

    “How did you like the food?” the brigadier asked genially.

    “Oh, very good!” I answered as genially, carefully blowing the bluish smoke through my nose.

    At that moment General Shabalin beckoned to me. I asked the brigadier’s pardon, prudently stuck the cigar in a flowerpot, and followed my chief. We went out into the garden, as though we wanted a breath of fresh air.

    “What have you been talking about with that...?” the general muttered, avoiding mention of any name.

    “About the weather, Comrade General.”

    “Hm... hm....” Shabalin rubbed his nose with the knuckle of his forefinger, a trick of his during conversations of a semi-official nature. Then he unexpectedly changed his tone:

    “I think there’s nothing more for you to do here. Take a day off. Have my car and go for a drive through Berlin. Take a look at the girls....”

    He made a very frivolous remark, and smiled forcibly. I listened closely as I walked with him about the garden. What did all this condescension and thought for me mean?

    “Call up Kuznetsov this evening and tell him I shall go straight home,” was the general’s final word as he went up the verandah steps.

    So he had no intention of returning to the office today. There all the ordinary routine was waiting for him, to keep him as a rule till three in the morning. That was not compulsory, it was his duty as a bolshevik. He must be around in case the ’master’ called him up in the middle of the night. But now, after a very good lunch and a few glasses of wine, he felt the need to be a man like other men for a few hours at least. The comfort of the villa and the open cordiality of the company had had its effect even on the old Party wolf. Just for once he felt impelled to throw off the mask of an iron bolshevik, to laugh aloud and smack his colleagues on the shoulders, to be a man, not a Party ticket. And he thought of me as the eye and ear of the Party. So he was dismissing me on the pretext of being kind to me.

    I returned to the house, picked up my cap as unobtrusively as possible, and went out. Misha was dozing at the wheel.

    “Ah, Comrade Major!” He gave a deep sigh as I opened the door. “After a lunch like that, what man wouldn’t like to stretch himself out on the grass and sleep for an hour or two!”

    “Why, have you had some lunch too?” I asked in surprise.

    “What do you think! I’ve eaten like a prince.”

    “Where?”

    “Why, here. A special table was laid for us. Like in the fairy story. And do you know what, Comrade Major?” He looked sidelong at me, with all the air of a conspirator. “Even our general doesn’t have such good grub as I’ve had today.”

    After seeing Sir Percy Mills’ house, I could not help comparing it with General Shabalin’s flat. In the Control Commission the habit developed for the directors to take turns in inviting their colleagues home. The first time it was Shabalin’s turn to issue the invitations he ignored the habit, as though he had forgotten it. The real reason was that he had no place to which he could invite the foreigners.

    Of course he could have requisitioned and furnished a house in conformity with his rank. But he could not bring himself to do this on his own responsibility, while the head of the Administrative Department, General Devidov, simply would not do it for him, since under the army regulations such luxury was incompatible with the position of Soviet generals. The authorities had got to the point of providing special ’foreign equipment’, but nobody had yet thought of suitable residences. Shabalin had exchanged his small house for a five-roomed apartment in the house where most of the workers in the Administration for Economy were accommodated. Nikolai, his orderly, and Misha, the chauffeur, had collected furniture and all sorts of lumber from all over the district for the apartment, but it looked more like a thieves’ kitchen than a general’s home. It was impossible to receive foreign guests there: even Shabalin was conscious of that.

    Once more, the contradiction between bolshevik theory and bolshevik practice. The Kremlin aristocracy had long since discarded the proletarian morals they still preached, and lived in a luxury that not every capitalist could afford. They could do so without embarrassment because their personal lives were secured from the people’s eyes by several walls. The smaller leaders tended to follow the same course. The Party aristocracy, men like Shabalin, lived a double life; in words they were ideal bolsheviks, but in reality they trampled on the ideals they themselves preached. It was not easy to reconcile these two things. It all had to be done secretly, prudently, one had continually to be on guard. Here in Germany there was no Kremlin and no area forbidden to the public, here everything was comparatively open. And supposing the lords of the Kremlin started to shout!

    At first General Shabalin had taken his meals in the canteen of the Soviet Military Council-in other words, in the generals’ casino. But now Dusia, his illegal maidservant, was taking the car to the canteen three times a day and bringing the food home. Yet even in such circumstances the general could not invite any guests to his apartment, and visitors, especially foreigners, were not allowed in the canteen.

    Even here, in occupied Germany, where we were not restricted by problems of living space or rationing, and where we could literally pick up everything we liked, even here we kept to our Soviet way of life.

    A little later the S. M. A. staff accommodated itself to circumstances and solved the problem in the old Potiomkin fashion. (Prince Gregory Potiomkin, favorite of Empress Catharine, who organized show-places and even ’model villages’ to impress the Empress. - Tr.). A special club was set up, in which the leading officials of the S. M. A. could hold receptions for their western colleagues. In each separate case an exact list of the proposed guests had to be sent in advance to the S. M. A. liaison service, to be carefully checked by the Narcomvnudel, and to be countersigned by the S. M. A. chief of staff". Of course such a simple form of invitation as that of Sir Percy Mills-"come and have lunch with me, gentlemen", and including even the chauffeurs-was quite impossible in such circumstances.

    During those early meetings with the Western Allies I was seriously afraid that I would be asked too many questions that I could not, or rather that I dared not, answer. But the longer I worked in the Control Commission the less was I able to understand their behavior. The representatives of the democratic world not only made no attempt to ask us political questions, as I had thought was simply bound to happen when representatives of completely opposed state systems came together, but they displayed a perfectly in-comprehensible indifference to the subject.

    At first I thought this was out of tactfulness. But then I felt sure it must be due to something else. The average western man was far less interested in politics and all that goes with it than the average Soviet man. The men of the West were much more interested in the number of bottles of champagne that had been drunk at a diplomatic reception in the Kremlin, and in the evening gown Madame Molotov had worn on the occasion. This was in the best case, but usually they confined their interests to sport and the beautiful girls on the covers of magazines. To any man living in normal conditions this seemed perfectly natural. If the Soviet men could have chosen they would have done the same.

    At that stage the West had no idea of the extraordinary dichotomy of Soviet existence. In thirty years we have changed fundamentally, to a certain extent we are Sovietized. But while becoming Sovietized we have simultaneously become immunized against communism. The West has no suspicion of this. It is with good reason that the Politburo has begun to underpin the Soviet edifice with the old national foundations, which proved themselves so well during the war. After the war the process of giving the rotting state organism a blood transfusion was continued. The method will doubtless meet with success for a time; it will confuse some and arouse illusory hopes in others. But the Kremlin’s plans will not be modified to any extent.

    A small but characteristic example: in occupied Germany all the Russian soldiers and officers suddenly began to use the word ’Rossiia’-’Russia’. The movement was quite spontaneous. Some-times out of habit one would let ’U. S. S. R.’ slip out; but it was corrected to ’Rossiia’ at once. We ourselves were surprised at this fact, but it was so. Yet for twenty-five years anyone who used the word ’Rossiia’ was liable to be accused of chauvinism, and quite possibly to be charged under the corresponding article of the Narcomvnudel code. One could not help noticing this seemingly small detail when one found the word ’Rossiia’ coming to every soldier’s lips.

    Unconsciously he was emphasizing the difference between the concepts ’Soviet’ and ’Russian’. As though in spite, the foreign press confused these concepts. What we ourselves couldn’t stand they called ’Russian’; all that was dear and precious to us they described as ’Soviet’. The Soviet people neither wish to nor do they need to teach foreigners their political ABC. Why risk one’s head simply to satisfy a stranger’s idle curiosity?

    How constrained Soviet people feel in intercourse with ’foreigners’ is shown by the following incident.

    One day, during an interval in the sittings of the Control Commission, several members of various delegations were discussing what they would like to do on the following Sunday. Kozlov, the chairman of the Soviet delegation in the Industrial Committee, let slip the unwise admission that he was going hunting with a group of colleagues. Kozlov’s foreign colleagues were enthusiastic at the idea of spending a Sunday all together, and said they would gladly join the party. Kozlov had to behave as though he were delighted beyond measure.

    On the Sunday the hunters set out in several cars. During the journey the Soviet members of the party racked their brains over the problem of how to give their Allies the slip. But the need to show some courtesy, plus the excellence of the western cars, gave Kozlov no chance of getting away from his unwanted friends. At the rendezvous the Allies got out and lay about on the grass, with the idea of having a little snack and a little chat. To avoid this, Kozlov and the other Russians slipped off through the bushes, and wandered about the forest all day, cursing Fate for pushing such politically unreliable companions on to them.

    In order to secure himself against the possibility of being reprimanded, Kozlov spent all the following week cursing and swearing to other members of the Administration for Economy about his bad luck, and carefully emphasizing his own ’vigilant* conduct. We could not enter freely into intercourse with the West. But what was the West doing to obtain information on Soviet problems?

    I had several opportunities of observing how the West obtained knowledge of Soviet Russia from ’reliable and competent’ sources. Those sources were usually journalists. The American and British journalists went to great trouble to get together with their Soviet colleagues, for they were convinced that these colleagues could and would answer their questions exhaustively and truthfully. Naive fellows! One can no more expect truth from a Soviet journalist than chastity from a prostitute.

    The American journalists in Berlin tried hard to get together with their Soviet brothers, free of constraint. But the Soviet journalists did their best to avoid any such meeting. Finally it had to be arranged: they had to invite the foreigners to their Press Club. It was at least a step forward that the Americans took the opportunity to ask questions which even the very adroit Soviet journalists could not easily answer. All they could do was keep their mouths shut. It was also very good that the Americans gradually realized the true meaning of ’Narcomvnudel’; they thought their Soviet colleagues were victims of the Narcomvnudel and were ringed about with spies, and that a dictaphone was built into every desk. Of course it would have been even more sound to assume that their hosts were themselves Narcomvnudel agents. My experiences in the college had taught me that all the Soviet Union’s foreign correspondents were coworkers of that organization.

    The Americans took their Soviet colleagues’ silent reserve as indicating their anxiety. This was pretty near, but not quite, the truth. Once the Americans even raised the subject of the ’Soul of the Soviet Man’, but they made the mistake of discussing the soul as such. The Soviet soul is a function of the Soviet reality; it cannot be analyzed in isolation from its milieu.

    Our work in the Control Commission was very instructive. From the very first sittings I realized that the widely held view that a diplomat’s life is easy and carefree was false. In reality it is a devilishly hard, or rather a tedious, occupation. One needs to have the hide of a hippopotamus, the sensitiveness of an antelope, nerves of manila rope and the endurance of a hunter. An English saying has it that it is the highest achievement of good manners to be bored to death without showing it. Now General Shabalin gave his colleagues extensive opportunities to demonstrate the truth of this remark. It was astonishing to see how earnestly earnest people could struggle for hours and days on end with an insoluble problem before they would admit that it was insoluble!

    In selecting their diplomats the British act on the principle that the least suitable of all candidates is one who is energetic and stupid; one who is energetic and clever is not very suitable, and the most suitable of all is a man who is clever and passive. The British prefer to be slow in drawing the right conclusion, and they fear nothing more than precipitate unsound decisions.

    This same rule applies to Soviet diplomats, only in reverse. The ideal Soviet diplomat must be exceptionally energetic and exception-ally stupid. He needs no intelligence, as he may not take any independent decisions in any case. On the other hand, energy is a quality needed by every commercial traveler, whether it is razor blades he is trying to sell, or his master’s policy. General Shabalin was an out-standing example of this type of Soviet diplomat. For that matter, all Soviet diplomats are distinguished by their enormous activity. The Kremlin can be charged with anything rather than passivity.

    Our first encounters in the Control Commission were quite educative. Despite my skeptical attitude to the policy of the western powers, I could not help reaching the conviction that they were genuinely anxious to work together with us for the solution of post-war problems. The creation of the United Nations Organization testified to the western democracies’ desire to secure peace to the world.

    Outwardly, we, too, gave out that we were interested in the same thing and wanted to take the same road. But the very first practical measures proposed indicated that the opposite was the truth. Our readiness for collaboration on the problem of world peace was nothing but a tactical maneuver with the object of maintaining the democratic mask, winning time for the reorganization of our forces, and exploiting the democratic platforms in order to sabotage world public opinion. The very first sittings of the Control Commission opened my eyes to all this.

    I recalled Anna Petrovna’s remark, which had so astounded me, when I was in Moscow. From her words I could only deduce that the Kremlin was thinking of active operations for the Soviet fighting forces in the post-war period. Yet it seemed absurd to think of any kind of war plans when we had only just ended terrible battles, and all the world wished for nothing more urgently and passionately than peace. Now, after those first sittings of the Control Commission it was clear, to me at least, who was neither diplomat nor politician, which the Kremlin had not the slightest desire to collaborate with the democratic West.

    The representatives of the western democracies racked their brains to find an explanation for their eastern ally’s extraordinary conduct. They sought persistently for a modus vivendi with the Kremlin. They sought a key to the enigma of the soul of the East, they turned over the pages of the historical tomes; but it never occurred to them to study the million-copy editions of Lenin’s and Stalin’s works. They attached too much importance to the dissolution of the Comintern. They are not acquainted with the winged words by which the Soviet leaders justify their every deviation from the Party general line: “A temporary deviation is completely justified if it is necessary for reorganization and the accumulation of new strength for the next advance.” The inflexible general line can wind like an adder.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 01
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM01.htm

    The Military College

    “Kli-mov!”

    As the call filtered through the thick cloth of my military greatcoat it seemed to be coming from an immense distance. Surely I had dreamt it! It was so warm under my coat; I drew it right up over my ears. My bed of fir branches was so soft and comfortable. Of course I’d dreamt it!

    “Captain Kli-mov!”

    The shout again disturbed the nocturnal silence. Then someone muttered something to the guard pacing up and down between the rows of tents.

    “... He’s ordered to report immediately to the staff headquarters of the front,” the voice said to the guard. Then once more came the shout: “Captain Klimov!”

    “Hell! Staff headquarters! That’s no joke!”

    I threw off my greatcoat, and at once felt the damp air from the nearby swamp, mingling with the omnipresent, distinctive smell of front-line soldiers. In-visible mosquitoes were buzzing. Taking care not to disturb my comrades, I crawled out of the tent backward.

    “What’s up?” I muttered, still half asleep. “Whom were you shouting for? Did you say ’Klimov’?”

    “Comrade Captain, here’s a courier for you from the staff,” the guard reported through the darkness.

    “Where is he? What’s it all about?”

    “Comrade Captain, here’s an order for you.” A sergeant in a leather helmet handed me a document. By the light of a torch I read: ’Captain G. P. Klimov is ordered to report to the Personnel Department of the Leningrad front staff headquarters on July 17, 1944, at eight hours.’ At the bottom of the paper was a hand-written note from my commanding officer: ’Order to report at once.’

    ’Hm, this might be interesting!’ I thought. “Have you anything further to communicate?” I asked the sergeant.

    “I’m ordered to take you to the staff at once,” he answered as he kicked down the starter lever of his motorcycle combination.

    In the sidecar I quickly forgot my weariness. We jolted over the potholes of the forest road, then passed through a half-destroyed, deserted village. Against the slowly lightening sky I discerned the dark chimneys, the roof joists splintered by artillery fire. The motorcycle wheels spun in the sand; then we made a precarious crossing of a grassgrown ditch, and I was relieved to feel the smooth surface of the Leningrad high road beneath us.

    A light early morning haze was hovering over the steaming earth, and now the little houses of the Leningrad suburbs began to appear amid the green of trees. In the distance rose the chimneys of the city’s factories and industrial works.

    What was behind this urgent summons to staff headquarters? Away back in the tent my comrades would be just waking up. When they saw my empty place they would feel pretty glad that it was not they who had been called out. But then, when they learned that I had been taken urgently to the staff, they would scratch their napes thoughtfully and exchange uncertain glances.

    At this time I was serving in a K. U. K. S. force, undergoing a course for advanced training of officer personnel for the Leningrad front. The K. U. K. S. was a very unusual type of military formation, a ’curiosity shop’, as the members of the course themselves called it. It consisted of comparatively young men with beards and whiskers of extraordinary shapes and sizes. These grim-looking individuals had a queer habit of wearing fur hats in the hottest of weather. In fact they were former officers and commanders of partisan detachments, who were being purged of their partisan ideas and spirit and were having army discipline drummed into them.

    Shortly after the liberation of Leningrad from the German blockade in January 1944 the city celebrated the triumphal entry of partisans of the Leningrad province. But within a month Narcomvnudel Special Brigades had to be ordered hurriedly to the city to disarm the overzealous men of the woods. The partisans were behaving like the conquerors of an enemy fortress and were using hand-grenades and automatic pistols against the militia who tried to reduce them to order. They regarded every militiaman as a hereditary enemy and openly boasted of how many they had bumped off.

    After the partisans had been disarmed they were packed quietly into cattle-trucks and sent to special Narcomvnudel camps. The newspapers had glorified the ’wild’ partisans as patriotic national heroes, but when they emerged from their forests into the light of day they at once came under the sharp eyes of the Narcomvnudel. Those partisans who were members of the regular detachments built up out of Red Army personnel, and the semi-regulars under commanders sent from the central command and obeying orders issued by the central radio and air force, were acceptable. But anyone who had fought in the forests and had had to resort to straightforward ’food requisitioning’ when their stocks of homemade vodka and fat bacon came to an end-God help them! The N. K. V. D. put them through a thorough purging before passing them on to the regular army, and their commanders were sent to receive special training in the K. U. K. S., such as the one for the Leningrad front.

    While in the K. U. K. S. I often heard the enigmatic questions: “Where are you from? Out of the Eighth?” "No, the Ninth," the answer would come reluctantly. After a time I found out that the ’Eighth’ and the ’Ninth’ were storming battalions on the Leningrad front. ’Storming battalion’ was the official name for punitive battalions in which officers served as rank-and-file soldiers and were sent as such into battle. If they came back alive they were restored to their previous officer’s rank. The losses of storming battalions regularly amounted to 90 and even 95 per cent of the strength in every engagement.

    As the Red Army went over to the offensive and began to liberate the occupied areas, all the former Soviet officers found in these areas were rounded up, and, like the partisans, were sent to special Narcomvnudel camps. Those whom the N. K. V. D. did not regard as worthy of dying on the gallows were given a preliminary purge, and then sent to the next department of the ’cleansing institution’, to a storming battalion. There they were afforded plenty of opportunity to purge their crime against the Fatherland with their blood.

    Let them fight! There would be time to deal with them properly after the war!

    Those who survived the ordeal by fire were usually sent straight from hospital-freedom from a storming battalion was gained only at the price of blood-to the K. U. K. S. for final retraining. A number of my comrades in the K. U. K. S. had paybooks which after the denotation ’soldier’ or ’infantryman’ gave the rank of ’regimental commissar’ or ’squadron commander’ in brackets.

    Yes, there was some very interesting human material in our K. U. K. S.! In reality it was a permanent reserve for the Leningrad front. The officers being retrained were not allowed to lounge about, they had to play at soldiers in deadly earnest. The former commandeer of a machine-gun company had to learn how to take to pieces and reassemble a machine-gun of the Maxim pattern, while the commander of a rifleman’s battalion was instructed in the workings of the unsurpassable ’1891 muster’ rifle.

    There was a large percentage of Ukrainians in the K. U. K. S. When the Red Army retreated from the Ukraine many soldiers who came from that area simply threw their arms into the nearest ditch and ’went home’. But when the Red Army began to drive the Germans out again these ’sons of the soil’ were hastily rounded up, weapons were thrust into their hands, and they were sent, just as they were, even without uniforms, into the front line. The banks of the Dnieper were strewn with corpses in civilian clothing.

    Ordinary soldiers were simply returned to active service, usually without any preliminary purge by the N. K. V. D. Personal accounts between State and individual could be settled later; at that moment there was more need of cannon fodder for the army than labor power for the concentration camps.

    Though the feeling never came into the open, there was constant tension between the Ukrainians and the Russians in our K. U. K. S. The Ukrainians usually kept their mouths shut, like younger brothers with bad consciences. The Russians only let fall a good-natured: “Ah, you Hohols!” (Russian term of contempt for Ukrainians - Tr.)

    “Ah, those Germans!” The Ukrainians sighed in reply. “They abused our trust, the blighters!”

    One day questionnaires were circulated through the battalions of the K. U. K. S.; the command was attempting to establish which of the members of the course were Crimean Tatars. I remember noting Lieutenant Chaifutinov’s anxious face as he sat filling in the questions inquiring into his family. We had heard rumors that by the Kremlin’s order the entire Tatar population of the Crimean Autonomous Republic was to be deported; several million people were to be transferred to Siberia, and their republic abolished, because of their ’disloyal attitude to the Soviet regime during the German occupation’. This order provoked conversations like the following among members of our course:

    “Do you know how the Kalmuks behaved at Stalingrad? The Germans attacked, but they prepared the way. They cut the throats of whole Soviet regiments in the night.”

    “I’d like to know why the Don and Kuban cossacks looked on and did nothing,” someone interjected.

    “What else were the cossacks to do?” remarked a third. “You won’t find a single real cossack in the cossack forces today.”

    These officers saw nothing surprising in the fact that the Kalmuks had exterminated their regiments, they were only amazed that the cossacks had stood by idly. For in the past the Don and Kuban cossack districts had been famous as centers of opposition to the Soviet regime. The artificially created famine disaster of 1983 had been forced through in those districts with more than the usual brutality. Down to 1936 the cossacks had been the only national group not called up into the regular army. And so it seemed incredible that the cossacks, who had been renowned throughout history for their love of freedom, had not risen against the Soviets.

    Among the participants in the course were many former political officers of the Red Army. A number of men in this category had lost their heads already in the Narcomvnudel special camps, and those few who survived both these camps and the storming battalions must have had an unusually tenacious grip on life. And hardly had they arrived at the K. U. K. S., when they began with true communist wolfishness to clutch at their former jobs as shepherds of the human herds. Despite all the sifting and purging they had experienced through the N. K. V. D. even in the K. U. K. S. they managed some-how to get into positions as commanders of sub-divisions of our course. The other officers took every opportunity to address them as ’Comrade Political Director’ or ’Comrade Commissar’, though these ranks had been abolished in the army for some time.

    Despite, or even because of the fact that the ’curiosity shop’ was such a haphazard collection of widely varied types, there was always much coming and going. Almost every day mysterious commissions visited us in quest of various kinds of ’commodities’. For instance, one commission came in search of partisans for Yugoslavia. The conditions were: 25, 000 rubles in cash, a month’s leave, then a parachute drop into that country. Our men needed no special training for such activities. There was a queue of candidates; the majority being former partisans who could not endure army discipline.

    Then came a general search for men with Polish surnames, as recruits for the Polish ’National’ Army. Then there was a call for candidates to the Red Army Intelligence School. Conditions: nobody accepted under the rank of major, and graduation from high school. Yet even these strict standards could be met over and over again.

    These ’trading activities’ were due to the great shortage of special cadres, which were particularly lacking in the army. And the K. U. K. S. contained a mass of fresh, still unsorted human material, which had not been available until recently, because it had been isolated in partisan bands or in the occupied areas.

    The majority of my K. U. K. S. comrades were men almost literally from the other world. One youngster had fled right across Europe from a German prisoner-of-war camp in France. When he reached the Russian area under German occupation he was captured a second time, put into a concentration camp, and then escaped again. Twice he had been set up against a wall and had fallen seriously wounded, getting away by worming his way out from under his comrades’ corpses in the mass grave. He had had two years as a partisan in the swamps and forests around Leningrad. And as a reward for his love of the fatherland he had been ’purged’ in a Narcomvnudel camp, had experienced bloodbaths in a storming battalion, and at last had found the quiet haven of the K. U. K. S.

    Practically every member of the course had had a similar past. They were the few survivors. Naturally, they were not very fond of telling their life-stories. In such company I was a real greenhorn, as innocent as a newborn babe. I had been sent to the K. U. K. S. after serving in the 96th Special Regiment of Reserve Officers. I had been wounded in the fight for Novgorod, and had spent three months in hospital.

    It was during my stay in hospital, which was the former Leningrad Palace of Engineers, that the entire city was staggered by unexpected news. By order of the Leningrad City Soviet all the important, historical streets and squares were to have their former, pre-revolutionary names restored to them. Thus the Prospect of October 25th was renamed once more the Nevsky Prospect; the Field of Mars was relieved of its tongue-twisting revolutionary name and became again the Field of Mars. The changes left us gaping. If things moved at this rate even the collective farms would be abolished...

    The staff of the Leningrad front had its headquarters in the horseshoe-shaped former General Staff building, opposite the Winter Palace. The way to the Personnel Department lay through the famous and historic Arches of the General Staff. It was through these Arches that the revolutionary sailors and red guards of Petrograd had stormed the Winter Palace in 1917.

    On the broad windowsills of the reception room I found several officers sitting, dangling their legs.

    “Do you want this place too. Captain?” one of them, asked me. When I nodded he asked me the unexpected question: “Can you speak any foreign language?”

    “Why, what’s going on here?” I asked in turn.

    “At the moment it’s an examination in foreign languages,” a lieutenant explained. “It’s something to do with selection for some special school, or possibly a college,” another added. “The first requisite is knowledge of some foreign language, and graduation in secondary education. Obviously it’s something important. It’s even said to involve return to Moscow...” he said in a nostalgic tone, and clicked his tongue hopelessly.

    An officer, very red and sweating, shot through the door. “Oh, hell!... What’s the German for ’wall’? I knew ’window’, I knew ’table’, but I simply couldn’t remember ’wall’. Damn it all! Listen, boys! Mug up all the names of things you find in a room. He points with his finger and asks their names.”

    Of the officers in that reception room, two knew Finnish, one Rumanian, and the others had school knowledge of German and English. I knew well enough what ’school knowledge’ meant. But the less chance a man has, the greater becomes his desire to reach the mysterious spot where this linguistic knowledge is required. Everything in any way associated with the thought of ’abroad’ automatically stimulated one’s curiosity and imagination.

    I couldn’t help smirking. So here we wouldn’t be concerned with the five parts of the breech of an 1891 rifle! I stretched myself comfortably on a distant bench and attempted to continue my rudely interrupted sleep. When my name was called I went in, clicked my heels with all the precision laid down by Hitler’s army regulations and reported in German in such a thunderous voice that the major sitting at the desk started back in alarm. He stared at me in astonishment; possibly he was wondering whether he should ask me the German for ’table’ or ’window’. Then he asked me a question in Russian. I answered in German. He spoke again in Russian, I once more answered in German. At last he had to laugh. As he invited me to sit down he asked:

    “Where have you picked it up, Captain?”

    I took out the documents relating to my civilian life before call-up - it was a miracle that I still had them safely - and laid them on the table.

    “Ah, this is wonderful!” he remarked. “I really took you for a German at first. I’ll present you to the colonel at once.”

    He showed me into the next room and introduced me to the head of the Personnel Department. “Comrade Colonel,” he said, “I think we’ve got a genuine candidate this time! You needn’t worry about his language; he really put the wind up me. I thought he must be a diversionist.” He laid my papers on the desk and withdrew.

    The colonel took his advice, and did not bother about language tests. He started at once on the moral aspect. The moral and political reliability of an officer is the most important factor, and he is subjected to strict tests in this respect.

    “You see, Captain Klimov,” the colonel began, “we’re thinking of sending you to a responsible and privileged higher school of the Red Army.” He spoke in tones of great solemnity. “You will understand me better if I describe the position to you. Moscow demands a fixed quota of candidates from us every month. We send them to Moscow, and there all those who fail to pass are sent back to us. We send all failures to a punitive company,” he remarked casually, giving me a meaning look. “Every day Moscow bombards us with the demand: ’send us men’. But we haven’t any.

    That’s one aspect of the problem. Now for the second. You’re in the K. U. K. S., and there are a lot of men with doubtful pasts in the K. U. K. S. I don’t ask you your record. But one thing is sure: you’ve got to be spotlessly clean! Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a different place from the one we propose to send you to. And we’ve got to send you! Get that?”

    I liked the colonel’s unusual frankness. I assured him that I was quite immaculate.

    “I don’t care a damn whether you’re immaculate or not,” he answered. “You’ve got some extraordinary fellows in your K. U. K. S. Only yesterday one of your former colonels swore to me that he was a lieutenant of infantry. We wanted to send him to the intelligence corps school, but he dug his feet in like a mule and said he couldn’t write.”

    I was not in the least surprised. Men who had held responsible posts and had passed through the usual preliminaries to K. U. K. S. lost all desire for rank and responsibility and had only one wish-a quiet life.

    “You may try to think up something on those lines,” the colonel went on. “So I repeat, this is a serious matter. If we consider it necessary to send you we shall send you! And no monkey tricks or we’ll report you as refusing to perform military service. You know what that means! Field court-martial!” he explained weightily. He knew well enough that members of K. U. K. S. courses and former storming battalion men were not to be intimidated with threats of punitive companies. Only a court-martial, with certain death to follow, made any impression on such cases.

    He gave me a critical glance and picked up the telephone to get contact with the staff of my K. U. K. S.

    “We’re sending your Klimov away. Get his documents ready. He must leave for Moscow by the twelve noon train,” he told the chief of staff. “And one other thing: why do you let your men go around looking like tramps? Fit him out at once. He mustn’t bring shame on our front when he arrives in Moscow.”

    A few minutes later, in an adjoining room, I was handed a sealed and stamped packet which contained my personal documents and traveling passes for Moscow.

    Back in the reception room, an excited crowd of candidates surrounded me. “Well, how did it go? Sunk? Were the questions lousy?”

    I shrugged my shoulders and showed my order for Moscow. “So it really is Moscow!” they exclaimed. “Well, good luck!” and they shook my hands.

    Out of the cool twilight of the archways, I stepped into the sunlit Winter Palace Square. I simply couldn’t believe that I wasn’t dreaming! In three hours I would be on the train to Moscow! Such luck, such incredible luck, made me feel queer. I knew of lots of officers, men whose homes were in Leningrad, who had served on the Leningrad front for three years without a single leave in the city. Even in the K. U. K. S. officers who came from Leningrad were not allowed local leave. When we went to the town-baths or on sightseeing tours we were marched in formation. As for Muscovites, even such a short and official visit to their home city was an unrealizable dream. Was it really possible that I was going home?

    I looked about me. Yes, this was Leningrad, but in my pocket was a voucher opening my way to Moscow. Standing in the middle of the empty Winter Palace Square, I took it out and read it. I deliberately refused to give way to the patrols in green caps who were to be seen everywhere on the sidewalks and at the street-crossings. Leningrad was in the frontier zone, and the patrols of the Narcomvnudel frontier regiments were particularly strong in the city. The greencaps were the bitterest enemies of all men in uniform. It was not so long since I myself had spent two days and nights in a cold cell at their headquarters, without food and without cigarettes, until an officer armed with a machine-pistol had come from K. U. K. S. to take me back. My crime had been that I had left the baths and gone out into the street. While our command was having a steam bath I had a quick wash and slipped out into the fresh spring air. Right outside the door I had been picked up as a deserter by the greencaps. But today I could cock a snook at them. Today I was going to Moscow.

    In the K. U. K. S. staff headquarters a princely reception was awaiting me. In half an hour I was completely refitted from head to foot; new cap, new uniform, even a new pack, filled with cans and cigarettes. Punctually at midday I presented my traveling voucher at the October railway station ticket office.

    “Fifty-six rubles,” the booking clerk said. I felt hurriedly in my pockets. Hell, of course I needed money! The one thing I lacked. During my soldiering I had quite forgotten what it was. My pay was sent home automatically. A hopeless situation? Not at all! Under socialism everything is very simple, life is absurdly easy. I darted out into the station square, tore open my pack, and whistled. Hardly had I got the pack open when customers came running up. Five minutes later lighter by a few cans of food, but with my pockets full of rubles, I was back at the ticket office. And ten minutes later the train was carrying me to Moscow.

    Through the carriage window I gazed at the straw-thatched roofs of villages, at poverty-stricken fields and glittering lakes, bombed-out stations. And yet I felt very light-hearted. Despite all the German resistance, our army was advancing. The scales of history were sinking slowly but surely in our favor.

    It was not much more than a month since the K. U. K. S. had buzzed like an excited swarm of bees: the Allies had landed at last on the Normandy coast. For several days we had lived in the fear that the landing troops might be thrown back into the sea, or that it was only another diplomatic, not a military, maneuver. I had no connection with the men in the Kremlin and had no idea what they thought about it. But we in the Red Army had read all the Soviet papers with their continual appeals for help, and even their frequent charges that the Allies were pursuing a policy of deliberate inactivity.

    We who were serving in the immediate vicinity of the front knew only too well what sacrifices were called for in an offensive, what sacrifices lay behind the laconic report of the Information Bureau: ’On the Narva front, no change.’ We knew that whole divisions were being slaughtered to the last man in fruitless attempts to break through the Narva front. The Estonian detachments fighting with the German Army held those positions on the frontier of their native land, and they held out to their last breath; they were even more obdurate than the Germans. But the Information Bureau reported: ’No change’. The only important things were visible results, not human lives. And that is the case wherever war is waged.

    But now we felt grateful to our Allies, not only for their mountains of canned foods, soldiers’ greatcoats, and even buttons, but for the blood they were shedding in the common cause. An iron grip had closed round Germany’s throat. Even though life was hard, though hungry women and children held out their hands, begging, at every railway station, despite everything we were going forward to victory. We believed in victory, and even more strongly in something different that would come after the victory.

    The story goes that when he heard the Allies had landed in France Stalin stamped his foot with rage. I don’t know whether the story is true, but I know we soldiers were filled with joy. The politicians share out Europe, we soldiers shared out our bread and our blood.

    So now I was returning to Moscow. My thoughts wandered back to the day I had left it. It seemed ages and ages ago. After a fine day in the country, Genia and I were returning in the cool autumn evening by the suburban electric train to Moscow. I took the city military command’s order that I was to re-register out of my pocket and re-marked: “I’ll go along and get them to stamp my exemption to-morrow morning, and then I’ll come along to you. And we’ll see about it....”

    “But supposing they keep you there!” Her voice quivered with agitation, her black eyes looked at me anxiously. I was terribly grateful for those words and that look.

    “Don’t talk rubbish! It isn’t the first time!” I answered.

    Next morning I went in my padded military jacket, in my blue trousers thrust into my military boots, and my extraordinary headgear, to report to the Military Commissariat. By wartime standards I was dressed like a gentleman. It was common form to be dressed like that in wartime Moscow, and it saved you a lot of hostile scowls. In my pocket I had Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four, which I read in the Underground to practice my English.

    After handing in my papers at the Second Department of the Military Commissariat I slipped into a corner and took out my book to pass the time. The room was crowded with an extraordinary collection of men: chalk-white faces, unshaven cheeks, and shabby clothes much too light for the time of year. Two militiamen were leaning lazily against the door. I read while I waited for my exemption paper to be handed back, stamped: ’re-registered’.

    After some time the head of the department came out with a list. He read out a number of names, including mine. I had no idea what the list was for. The moment he left the room the militiamen gave the order: “Fall in the street”.

    We were all, including myself, with my index finger still between two pages of my book, driven out into the yard. What joke was this? They couldn’t do this to me! I’d got exemption! I tried to turn off to the left, and found myself looking into the muzzle of a revolver. To the right: another revolver.

    “No protests!” the militiamen shouted. “So long as you’re in our charge you’re prisoners. When we’ve handed you over at the assembly point you’ll be free again....”

    Thus I marched through Moscow, guarded by militiamen with revolvers at the ready.

    A mistake, you think? Nothing of the sort. There was a terrible shortage of reserves for the front. Yet the needs of the rear were just as great. The rear issued exemptions from military service. But the front carried off the men, together with their exemptions. Behind it all was the ’Plan’.

    According to the Plan the Military Commissariat had to send fifty men to the assembly point that day. What else could they do but rake them in wherever they could? So they hauled the short-term prisoners out of the prisons-most of them were in for turning up late or slacking at work-took them under escort to the Military Commissariat and then to the assembly point. And if they were still short of men for the Plan, they threw in a few ’exempted’ men.

    And that was how an exempted scientific worker in the Molotov Energetics Institute, which had been awarded the Order of Lenin, became a soldier. Neither Lenin nor Molotov made any difference. This was more exciting than Conan Doyle. The one pity was that I had no chance to say goodbye to Genia.

    I soon learned to march as bravely as the rest. We were dispatched to the front, and I bawled out the Russian folk-song at the top of my voice:

    “Nightingale, nightingale, little bird, why don’t you sing me a cheerful song....”

    All the songs of the pre-war period, about the ’Leader’, the ’proletariat’, and similar eyewash, had been swept out of the army as though by the mighty incantation of a magician. Instead, the genuine Russian marching songs conquered the soldiers’ hearts. Even quite unmusical fellows bawled them out, simply because they were now again allowed to sing about neighing steeds, old mothers, and young beauties. The magician in the Kremlin realized that such things were closer to the soldiers’ hearts than Karl Marx’s beard.

    Now I was returning to Moscow. Only yesterday I had not dared even to dream of such a thing. I recalled when I had last thought of Moscow. One sunny spring day, as I wandered through a lonely glade in the dense forest of the Karelian Peninsula, I had come upon a deep shell crater overgrown with young green. At the bottom, greenish bog-water shimmered like transparent glass. Forest water, as clear as crystal, which we often scooped up in our helmets, to drink. But there, head in the water, his arms flung out in a last spasm, lay the body of an enemy soldier.

    As I descended, digging my heels into the soil, clumps of earth rolled down into the pool. Little ripples wrinkled the surface and set the dead man’s hair in gentle movement with their mournful caresses. Oppressed by this close union of life and death, I squatted down. But at last my curiosity overcame my respect for death. I carefully opened the man’s breast pocket and took out a packet of papers.

    The usual military documents, with the eagle astride the swastika, letters from home, and the photo of an attractive, fair-haired girl in summer dress. The photo was carefully wrapped in paper. On its back was written: ’To my beloved from his beloved’, the date, and the name of a town far away in the south of the Reich. I looked at the dead man’s hair in the green water, then again at the face of the girl on the bank of the Rhine. Where she was the orchards were now in full bloom and the vines were showing green on the slopes. One warm spring night this girl had gently caressed the hair of her beloved; now it was being caressed by the cold bog-water of a forest somewhere in Russia.

    I took out my notebook and, sitting on the edge of the crater, wrote a melancholy note to Genia: ’Perhaps tomorrow I too will be lying somewhere with my face turned upward, and nobody will tenderly caress me, not even the green water of a bomb crater.’ Women like a touch of the romantic. And I, too, am not exactly made of iron.

    At that time, when I had no hope of seeing Genia again for a long time, I had written simply, as all soldiers write to their sweet-hearts. Letters are almost the soldier’s only joy and comfort.

    Stepping out of the Komsomolsk railway station in Moscow, I plunged into the bustle of the Underground, whistling a front-line song as I went. I had given a whole eternity to the State. It could not be regarded as a great crime that I now wished to devote a few minutes to myself. Besides, Genia would never have forgiven me if I had preferred any military unit whatever to her.

    I found her door locked, pushed a little note through the crack, threw my pack over my shoulder again, and gave myself the order: ’Left turn, quick march!’ Having dealt with my personal affairs, I returned to affairs of State.

    Half an hour later I arrived at my service destination. As I walked down a long corridor I was amazed. True, there were many men in uniform scurrying around like ants disturbed from their ant-hill, but the place reminded me more of a university during finals than an army unit.

    Some men put their books down open on windowsills to enter into an excited argument, others hurriedly repeated their lessons, wrote notes, and hurriedly took them off somewhere. Nobody taking any notice of distinctions of rank, or shoulder-tabs, nobody was thinking of saluting. They all had other cares. Most of them wore expressions very different from those of army officers, whose faces, as well as their souls, are imprinted with the stamp of barrack drill.

    Close by me two officers were conversing in some incomprehensible language. I noted shoulder-tabs of all kinds, from air force to infantry. And even the black coats of the navy. But most astonishing of all was the large number of women and girls in uniform. Hitherto only a few women had been accepted for propaganda purposes in certain military schools. Here was a very different situation.

    I felt a little awkward, and decided to try to get my bearings. At one of the windows I noticed a first lieutenant in a sand-colored greatcoat, and riding breeches of similar material. He must be from Leningrad! I was wearing exactly the same sort of uniform, and I had never come across it outside the Leningrad sector.

    When the Americans were preparing for the landing in North Africa they ordered an enormous number of cool, silky, sand-coloured uniforms for their soldiers. Later, they found they had such a superfluity of this ’African’ clothing that in their friendship for their Russian allies they transferred it to us. So our resourceful supreme command presented this tropical attire to the very coldest, namely the Leningrad, sector of the front. And thenceforth we had no difficulty in picking out our colleagues from that front on any occasion.

    “Tell me, lieutenant,” I addressed the officer in the sand-colored uniform. “Are you from Leningrad too?”

    Yes, the Karelian sector," he answered very readily. Apparently in this hubbub he felt as lost as I did, and was glad to meet a friendly colleague.

    “Well, how are things?”

    “So far, not bad. I think I’ve fallen on my feet,” he answered. But despite the confident answer there was a hint of disillusionment in his tone.

    “But what is this show: a boarding house for respectable girls?” I asked him. “I’ve only just arrived, and I don’t get it at all.”

    “The devil himself wouldn’t get it! For instance, I’ve been assigned to Hungary. The devil can take the whole of Hungary!” The disillusionment in his voice was now more pronounced. I grew more and more puzzled. “Now if I could get into the English Department,” he sighed. “But that’s hopeless, unless you’ve got connections. You have to be a general’s son at the least. See them swarming around? And every one of them with a letter of recommendation in his pocket!”

    He pointed to a door. On it was a notice: ’Head of the Training Department,’ and before it was crowded a group of officers in elegant boots of the finest leather and in extra-smart uniforms. They certainly didn’t look like front-line officers.

    “Then what’s the best way of tackling the situation?” I asked. “What languages do you know?”

    “A little German, a little English, a certain amount of Russian...” "Quit fooling and tell them you know only English. The English Department is the best of the lot," the future Hungarian advised me.

    From various conversations I began to realize that this mysterious educational institution was concerned with training personnel for abroad. None of the novices appeared to know its name. But after I had had a talk with a flying officer, a student at the air force college, who-apparently through influential connections-was attempting to get transferred from the third course of the college to the first course of this mysterious school, I felt convinced that the place must offer considerable advantages.

    During the next few days I filled in a sheaf of questionnaires which attempted to establish all my past: whether I had any relations or acquaintances abroad; whether I had any relations ’in areas temporarily occupied by the Hitlerite land-robbers’; whether I had ever belonged to or had any sympathies with groups hostile to the Party or was planning to have such sympathies; whether I had ever had any doubts of the correctness of the Party line. The questions which showed interest in the negative aspects of my life far exceeded those that were concerned with my positive qualities. I had already brought all these questionnaires with me in a sealed envelope from Leningrad; now I had to fill them in all over again.

    I remember a scandal that occurred over a questionnaire, which one of my colleagues of student days had filled in for the Special Department of his Institute. He gave his year of birth correctly as 1918. The next question, ’What were you doing when the revolution broke out in 1917?’ he answered with the precise statement: ’I was in the underground movement.’ Because of this answer he was summoned again and again to the Narcomvnudel for interrogation.

    I spent several days being examined in German and English. Those who failed in the language tests were excluded from further tests and were returned to their previous units. However, the favorites of patronage were an exception: they were all assigned to the first course, and were not subjected to such strict requirements. All others were thoroughly sifted out; if they had sound knowledge they were assigned to one of the higher courses, otherwise they were returned to their units.

    After the questionnaires and the language tests came examinations in Marxism-Leninism. In my twenty-six years of life I had passed all the half dozen normal and three State examinations in this branch of knowledge. These were followed by quite insignificant tests in philosophy and dialectical materialism, in general and military history, the Russian language, and economic geography.

    All this procedure left me pretty indifferent. There was no knowing when the war would end, but one thing was certain: it had already passed its critical phase and was coming to its close. My one idea was to get out of uniform as soon as possible after it was over. Against that, this educational establishment might prolong my time of service in the army, if not extend it into eternity. For the majority of the youth, this school was a means of learning a profession, which would enable them to earn their living after the war. I was less interested in that aspect. But the army was the army; here orders were supreme, and one could only obey them.

    It was a fierily hot summer. Entire caravans of barges laden with timber were being hauled along the River Moskva. All through the war Moscow had been heated exclusively with wood, even the locomotives were burning wood instead of coal. The city was uncommonly still and peaceful. The only variety was provided by the patrols of the town command, which checked your papers at every step. They treated me with particular distrust: I had a front-line officer’s tabs on my shoulders, but I sauntered about like an idler.

    All my private plans had collapsed like a house of cards on my being drafted into the army. When I returned to Moscow I had unconsciously assumed that now life would return to its old courses. But life doesn’t stand still, and I, too, had changed, after my experiences of front-line life. And now, during my aimless wanderings around the battlemented walls of the Kremlin, I felt only a vague yearning and an empty void. Just one thing seemed to be clear: the war must be brought to an end. For so long as this war lasted there would be room neither for private life nor for personal interests.

    After I had passed the questionnaires and the tests I was summoned to the head of the Educational Department, Colonel Gorokhov. Behind a large desk sat a little man with the blue tabs of a cavalry officer and a cranium that was as bald as a billiard ball. In his sly, foxy face twinkled colorless, watery eyes.

    “Sit down, Comrade Captain,” he said courteously, pointing to a chair on my side of his desk.

    This was a very different reception from normal army discipline. It was much more like the atmosphere of university lecture hall and absentminded professors. The colonel ran his thin fingers through the numerous documents devoted to my moral and political standing, the attestations of my participation in battles, my questionnaires and test reports.

    “So you’re an engineer! Well, well!” he observed in a friendly tone. “Speaking quite generally, we don’t give a warm welcome to engineers. We have a few here already. Too self-opinionated and not sufficiently disciplined. What is your view of your future career?”

    “As the interests of the State require,” I answered prudently, but without the least hesitation. I wasn’t to be caught by such questions.

    “Do you know what sort of educational establishment this is?” he asked.

    When I answered vaguely he began to tell me slowly, with many pauses: “It is the Military-Diplomatic College of the General Staff of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. You must be aware of the fact that, according to the law, men with military high school training, in other words men who have graduated from the military colleges, are obliged to give life-service in the army. The State spends an enormous amount on your education, and so it cannot allow the men to do, as they like afterwards. The State has poured out quite a considerable sum on you personally.” He glanced at my diploma testifying that I was a graduate of the Industrial Institute.

    “I should feel very sorry to sacrifice more time and money on you” he continued with the air of an economical housewife. “And so I must make it perfectly clear that if you are accepted in the college you must throw overboard all your civilian stuff and forget all about demobilization. There are some that think that when the war’s over they can slip away out of sight. Forget it! You are of interest to us in so far as, judging from your documents and tests, you have a solid groundwork of knowledge, such as we need. You will give us less trouble to train than others will. For that reason, and solely for that reason, we are interested in your case.”

    After this introduction he proceeded to details. “What made you take up foreign languages after you had graduated from the Industrial Institute?”

    “I considered a knowledge of foreign languages was essential for an engineer.”

    “Good! But what the devil made you”-he took another glance at my papers-"graduate from the First Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages, and the Pedagogical Department at that? Didn’t you like being an engineer?"

    The colonel was well posted in all the subtleties of the changes of interests and professions which so frequently occur in present-day Soviet society. Owing to the comparative ease with which one could get higher technical education in pre-war days, the students at the technical high schools included quite a large percentage who were completely unsuitable. As soon as they started practical work they found it unsatisfactory both morally and economically, so they packed their diplomas away and went off to seek a more lucrative or less responsible profession.

    For engineers were frequently imprisoned for the most trivial of technical mistakes, and they received relatively low pay. Also, many women with high school education preferred to get married and stay at home rather than follow their profession, provided their husband’s salary was large enough. If not, they, too, went in search of a new profession. And so people traveled with their diplomas from one end of the country to the other. The State took steps to stop this: it tied the young specialist down to a definite works or factory for five years, and if he broke his contract arbitrarily he was imprisoned.

    “How did you come to know foreign languages at all?” the colonel continued. “You must have had a governess, surely?”

    This was as good as a Narcomvnudel interrogation! In my childhood, to have a governess signified that you belonged to the people of the ’old days’. But now the word ’governess’ no longer had this compromising connotation: in the Moscow parks swarms of children from the Kremlin’s upper circles were to be seen accompanied by governess who talked to them in French or English. After they had overthrown and libeled their predecessors the new ’upper ten’ had quickly adopted their habits.

    “I learned languages parallel with my other subjects. I took my finals in languages and the State examination as an internal student at the Moscow Institute at the one time,” I answered.

    “Aha! So you studied at two institutes simultaneously. You must be very studious!” the colonel deduced, and stroked his baldhead thoughtfully, as though some new idea had occurred to him.

    I simply don’t know what made me decide to study foreign languages. Every student has some bee in his bonnet. I happened to discover that in the Moscow city library there was a mass of unsorted and uncatalogued works in foreign languages. There was nobody to put them in order and submit them to the censorship. Yet until they had been censored they could not be used. I quite quickly obtained permission to work on these materials, and a completely new world, closed to all others, was opened to me.

    My linguistic knowledge was far from brilliant, but in Soviet conditions even restricted knowledge of foreign languages was exceptional. A Soviet citizen has such a small chance of making practical use of such knowledge that it doesn’t occur to anybody to waste time studying languages. ’It might easily bring you to the notice of the Narcomvnudel’, was the way people reasoned.

    “Well, now to business.” The colonel tapped his pencil on my papers. “We can pack whole street-cars with German linguists. And we’ve got more than we need of English. But as I see you’re studious and you’re not a child, I’ll make you a much better proposal.” He paused significantly, carefully watching my reaction. “I’ll assign you to an exceptionally important department. In addition I guarantee that after you’ve passed out you’ll work in San Francisco or Washington. What do you say to that?”

    I didn’t bat an eyelid. What was he after? Neither English nor German.... Work in Washington.... I know: as a liftboy in some embassy! I had heard rumors of such things happening.

    “I’ll assign you to the Eastern Faculty,” he added in a condescending tone. I went hot and cold. “The Japanese Department,” he said in a tone of finality. “And you’ll find more use for your English there than anywhere else.”

    I shivered a little across the shoulders, and felt thoroughly uncomfortable. “Comrade Colonel, isn’t there something just a little less complicated?” I said feebly. “I’ve only just recovered from a head wound....”

    “This isn’t a shop. The choice is limited.” His face changed completely, it went cold and hard. He was obviously regretting the time he had wasted on me. “Two alternatives: either the Japanese Department or we send you back to your unit. That’s settled. I give you two hours to think it over.”

    The colonel in Leningrad had threatened me with a court-martial if I was sent back. And here I was faced with lifelong forced labor on the Japanese language. ’It strikes me, my dear Klimov, you’re in a jam!’ I thought.

    When I left the room I was surrounded by a lively group of my new acquaintances, all anxious to know the result of so protracted an interview.

    “Well, how did it go? Where are you assigned to: the Western Department?” they clamored.

    “The geisha girls!” I answered dejectedly.

    For a moment they stared at me in silence, then there was a roar of laughter. They thought it a good joke; but I didn’t see it.

    “Do you know how many signs they have got to their alphabet?” one man asked sympathetically. “Sixty-four thousand. An educated Jap knows about half of them.”

    “There have been three cases of suicide here during the last year,” another told me cheerfully. “And all three were in the Japanese Department.”

    One of them took my arm. “Come and I’ll show you the Japanese,” he said.

    When he opened the door of the department I saw a disheveled creature sitting with his legs tucked under him on a bed; he was wearing pants and horned spectacles. He took no notice of us whatever, but went on with his occupation, muttering some exorcism and simultaneously describing mysterious figures in the air with his finger. I saw several other similar individuals in the room. They were all in various stages of Buddhistic trance; their naked skin showed through their undergarments.

    “These are your future colleagues,” my companion informed me cheerfully. “Here is the source of all wisdom. And every one of them is an epileptic, so beware!”

    A swarthy-skinned, lean and lanky lieutenant-the only man in the room still wearing epaulettes-was sitting at a desk, describing artistic figures on paper. He had begun at the bottom right-hand corner and was continuing his course upward, from right to left. Outside the window was the hot Moscow summer; hopeful youngsters were swarming in the corridors, but these poor wretches were stuck here with the droning flies on the wall and were harassing them-selves stupid in their endeavor to split the granite of eastern wisdom.

    During the next few days I wandered about the college like a deceived lover. I had been promised a fabulous beauty, but behind the veil I had seen a toad. I made the firm decision to drop Japanese at the first opportunity. But as I saw no possibility of doing so at the moment I began to settle down in the college.

    It had only recently returned from evacuation, and had been given temporary accommodation in several four-storied buildings standing on Tagan Square. The various faculties were scattered all over the environs of Moscow. Our building was in a quiet side-street high above the granite embankment of the River Moskva. The windows looking out over the river afforded a view of the Stone Bridge and the Kremlin walls on the farther side.

    Of an evening we frequently enjoyed the cheerful and fascinating sight of the victory salutes thundering over the city. The picture of the city lit up by the fire was one of exceptional beauty. The batteries were grouped round the Kremlin in concentric rings. It was said that Stalin often went up one of the Kremlin belfries to enjoy the sight. Our Military-Diplomatic College had been founded in the war years, when changed international relations necessitated the extension of military-diplomatic ties with countries abroad. By the repeated changes in the college curriculum it was possible to trace the course of Soviet foreign policy for several years ahead.

    The college was based on the pattern of the High School for Diplomacy, the Military Intelligence High School, the Institute for Eastern Culture, and several other higher military and civilian educational institutions. To give an idea of the difficulties attending the selection of candidates, one need merely mention that the High School for Diplomacy only accepted men with completed secondary education and who in addition had at least five years’ Party membership.

    The Eastern Faculty of the college covered not only Japanese and Chinese, but Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Indian, and Afghan Departments. In addition to English, German, and French, the Western Faculty had Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, and other departments. There was also a Naval Faculty, which had departments for all the various naval powers. The Air Force Faculty had been temporarily transformed into a Faculty for Parachute Groups, with special emphasis on countries with which Soviet forces might shortly be making contact. As the college itself had been founded only recently, the students attending the first course were numbered in thousands, those in the second course in hundreds, and the third course students numbered only a few dozen. The last, the fourth course, was only in process of organization.

    In the case of the Eastern Faculty there was an additional fifth course. For entry to the higher courses the requirements were extremely high, while the number of candidates was very small, and so suitable men had to be sought all over the Soviet Union. Foreigners were not allowed to attend the college, but on the other hand Russian citizens with knowledge of foreign languages were a rarity. Approximately half of the students in the first course were the children of generals or high officials in the Party or State service; it was practically impossible for a man of ’ordinary’ origin to get accepted in that course. However, ’Heroes of the Soviet Union’, young officers who had particularly distinguished themselves in the war, and celebrities generally were the exception to this rule.

    All the college knew the young Tadjik girl named Mamlakat. During the ’thirties her picture had been distributed all over the Soviet Union. In distant Tadjikistan the little Mamlakat had achieved a record in cotton picking. About that time a conference of Stakhanovite workers on collective farms was being held in Moscow, and so Mamlakat was brought to the city and decorated with the Order of Lenin at the conference. Stalin personally gave her a gold wristwatch and was photographed in a fatherly pose with her.

    Since then years had passed. Mamlakat had long since stopped picking cotton, but she still sunned herself in her fame and the favor of her leader. There were smirks as the college students told the details of her career. On returning to the luxurious apartment of the Hotel Moskva after the conference, she had been so excited over her fame and Stalin’s gift that she jumped into her bath without stopping to take off the watch. The watch stopped, and she put the whole hotel in turmoil with her wild wailing.

    Now she was twenty years old. Since that time she had graced four different institutes in succession with her presence, attacking each in Stakhanovite tempo, and now she had entered the haven of our college. She found it necessary to change her subjects and place of study after each examination. But if Lenin Orders and Stalin watches cannot affect cerebral activity, at least they open many doors to their possessors. It was rumored that Mamlakat was again on the point of changing the scene of her operations. The college students included a number of such parasites living on past glories.

    Somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow a second educational institution existed which had tasks similar to those of our college, but where the students were all foreigners, being trained on the recommendation and instigation of the officially dissolved, but in fact highly active, Cornintern. They formed a reservoir for Soviet foreign agents. They had no diplomatic passes at their disposition, but their labors were more important and in any case far more active than those of the official diplomats.

    In addition, many well-known foreign communists, such as Rakosi, Dimitrov, and Anna Pauker, took training courses at the Sun Yat Sen University or at the Lenin Political Academy. You don’t know everything! Our college wasn’t talked about much, for that matter, though its objects were quite legal, namely, the training of personnel for Soviet military missions abroad. An interesting and quite safe job. If you did happen to come to grief, you were only sent back home. What happened when you got home was another matter.

    Strange to say, Jews were rigorously excluded from our college. Here for the first time I found official confirmation of certain rumors, which had been persistently circulating in the country. On the nationalities question the Kremlin had taken a largely unexpected course. Until recently the Jews had played, and they still do play, an important part in Soviet diplomacy and the foreign service generally. Yet now the doors of a diplomatic college were closed to them. Perhaps Stalin could not forgive the fact that in the Moscow trials of 1935-38 a large number of the accused was Jews.

    I could not help recalling certain incidents that had occurred comparatively recently. During the retreat of 1941, Jews were not evacuated from the abandoned areas, but were left quite deliberately to be exterminated by the Germans. The people of Moscow well remember the autumn days of 1941. Hardly any of the Moscow Jews, apart from the Party and government officials, obtained per-mission to leave the city. When the Germans captured the approaches to Moscow on October 16, thousands of people sought salvation in panicky flight. The majority was Jews, for the ordinary Muscovites had neither the possibility nor the desire to flee. Stalin sent Narcomvnudel forces to block the Moscow-Gorky main road, and gave them orders to shoot at sight anybody who tried to flee without an evacuation pass. This order was published only after the Narcomvnudel forces had been posted, and the result was hecatombs of Jewish bodies on both sides of the Moscow high road.

    During the war years the unity of the peoples of the Soviet Union was put to a severe test. The national minorities had not justified the Kremlin’s hopes. In the army a new, incomprehensible insult came into use: ’Yaldash’. In the language of the Asia Minor peoples the word means ’Comrade’. Introduced to them during the revolutionary period as an official form of address, it was now transformed into a term of contempt.

    Another Asiatic word, which enriched the Soviet army vocabulary during the war, was ’Belmeydy’. In the early days the national minorities went over to the Germans en masse, practiced self-mutilation, and later resorted to the passive ’Belmeydy’, ’I don’t understand’. With true Asiatic impassivity the Turkmen and Tadjiks called up for the army answered every question with the brief ’Belmeydy’. And if they were ordered ’left turn’ they unhesitatingly turned right.

    General Gundorov, the President of the Pan-Slav Committee, was responsible for putting into circulation the term ’Slavonic Brothers’. And after that, whenever some filthy trick, some act of looting or some senseless stupidity was observed and discussed in the army, the remark was made: ’That’s the Slavonic Brothers!’ This was the ordinary soldiers’ own way of criticizing certain things that were encouraged by the higher authorities, things which unleashed the dark instincts of the less responsible sections of the army. When each of these ’campaigns’ had served its turn the same higher authorities threw the whole blame on to those who had carried it through, issuing an indignant order and having the scapegoats shot.

    The derisive term ’Slavonic Brothers’ was often applied to the Polish and Baltic formations of the Red Army. The Red Army men spoke of the Estonians and other Balts who fought on the German side with more respect. The Soviet soldiers had no idea what sort of ’autonomy’ the Germans contemplated conferring on the Balts, but they knew quite well what sort of ’independence’ these peoples had received from the Soviet regime in 1940. The Russian soldiers had been thoroughly trained in the spirit of abstract internationalism, but during the war they had had an opportunity to view events from the national aspect, and they appreciated even their enemies’ fight for national freedom.

    “They hold on, the devils!” they frequently remarked with more respect than anger in their tones.

    Some months after the war had begun, during the construction of the second ring of landing grounds around the city of Gorky, I came across thousands of foreigners engaged in excavating and leveling the sites. Their dress at once revealed them as foreigners. Their faces were sullen. They were former citizens of the Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian Soviet Republics, who had worked hand in hand with the new Soviet rulers. They had become militiamen and Party and State officials of the new republics. When they fled before the Nazi forces into the homeland of the world proletariat, spades were thrust into their hands, so that they could learn what it meant to be proletarians. Later still they were transferred to the Narcomvnudel’s forced-labor camps. And when in due course it became necessary to organize national army units, they were sent into the Estonian and other national brigades, where the majority of them finished their days. Such is the career of the petty opportunists.

    August passed into September, and we began regular instruction. I still could not reconcile myself to being condemned to a diplomatic career in Japan. When I talked it over with acquaintances they laughed as though they thought it a good joke.

    One day, as I was hurrying across the college yard, I collided with a woman in military uniform. A military man’s first glance is at the tabs. Astonished to see a woman with the high rank of major, I looked at her face.

    “Olga Ivanovna!” I exclaimed joyfully, surprised at this unexpected meeting.

    Olga Ivanovna Moskalskaya was a doctor of philology, and had been professor and dean of the German Faculty in the First Pedagogical Institute for Foreign Languages. I had met her there in the days of peace, and she had been pleasantly touched by my interest in foreign languages. She was a woman of great culture and unusual personal charm.

    “Comrade Klimov!” she exclaimed, just as astonished as I. She gave me a swift look up and down.

    “In uniform? What are you doing here?”

    “Oh, don’t ask, Olga Ivanovna!” I replied, rather crestfallen.

    “But all the same... Have you taken up German again?”

    “No, Olga Ivanovna; even worse... Japanese!” I answered gloomily.

    “What? Japanese? Impossible! You’re joking!”

    “It’s no joke, I can tell you.”

    “I see!” She shook her head. “Come along to my room and we’ll have a chat.”

    On the door of her room was the inscription: ’Head of the Western Faculty’, and her name. So she held an important position in the college.

    “What idiot has put you in the Japanese Department?” she asked. I saw at once that she was well acquainted with conditions in the college.

    “It wasn’t an idiot, it was Colonel Gorokhov,” I answered.

    “Would you agree to being transferred to the German Department?” she asked in a curt, businesslike tone. When I said yes, she added: “I’m just engaged in making a selection of candidates for the last course, and I’m racking my brains to know where to get the people from. If you don’t object I shall ask the general this very day to have you transferred. What do you think?”

    “Only for God’s sake don’t let Colonel Gorokhov think it’s my personal wish... Otherwise I don’t know what will happen,” I replied as I gratefully shook her hand.

    “That’s my headache, not yours. See you again soon!” she laughed as I left her room.

    Next day the head of the Japanese preparatory course sent for me. As though he were seeing me for the first time in his life he asked distrustfully:

    “So you’re Klimov?”

    “Yes, Comrade Major,” I answered.

    “I’ve received an order from the general to transfer a certain Klimov” - he contemplated the document - “to... the fourth course of the Western Faculty.”

    He gave first me, then the paper, a skeptical look.

    That look was quite understandable. Conditions’ in the college were decidedly abnormal. The students of the preparatory course lived in a state of bliss. Those assigned to the first course, especially those concerned with the ’leading’ nationalities, were inflated with conceit. Those attending the second course were regarded as made for life. Of the members of the third course it was secretly whispered that they must have pulled unusually effective strings. As for the fourth and last course, little was known about it, but it was regarded as the dwelling-place of the gods.

    “Do you know anything about this?” he went on to ask suspiciously.

    “Oh no. Comrade Major,” I replied.

    “Very good! Here’s the order-as we haven’t any other Captain Klimov at the moment-and you can go off to the West. But I think there must be some mistake, and we’ll be seeing each other again soon,” he added.

    “Very good, Comrade Major!” I clicked my heels.

    So now I was in the final course of the German Department. Fortune had smiled on me after all.

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Egypt Parliament in haste to approve cybercrime bill: Ambiguous provisions, loose definitions, legalized web censorship |

    MadaMasr
    https://www.madamasr.com/en/2018/03/14/feature/politics/parliament-in-haste-to-approve-cybercrime-bill-ambiguous-provisions-loose-

    In a whirlwind Tuesday meeting attended by a bevy of state officials, 14 articles of the cybercrime prevention bill were approved by Parliament’s Communications and Information Technology Committee (CITC) in a span of two hours.

    The government-drafted bill, which is composed of 45 articles and includes 29 penalties sentencing offenders to up to five years in prison or fines of between LE,10,000 and LE20 million, was referred by the legislature’s speaker to the committee early this month and has largely been approved in principle.

    The bill’s significance stems from the fact that, in the event that it is passed, it would be the first piece of legislation to regulate what is published on social media and establish principles to confront cybercrimes such as piracy and the hacking of private and government websites. Most importantly, the bill would set a precedent in regulating web censorship.

    The gap in opinion between detractors and proponents of the bill does not center so much on whether cybercrime legislation is necessary, however, but on protection of data and the broad leeway the legislation would grant to authorities to place limitations on liberty.

    For Ghada Moussa, the Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform Ministry’s transparency committee secretary general, there certainly is a need for a cybercrime law. But such a law, in her estimation, can only be part of a legislative package whose primary concern would be to make information available, with the identification of confidential information and regulation and protection thereof as a second priority, appended by a law to set exceptions and outline crimes.

  • Egypt Parliament in haste to approve cybercrime bill: Ambiguous provisions, loose definitions, legalized web censorship |

    MadaMasr
    https://www.madamasr.com/en/2018/03/14/feature/politics/parliament-in-haste-to-approve-cybercrime-bill-ambiguous-provisions-loose-

    In a whirlwind Tuesday meeting attended by a bevy of state officials, 14 articles of the cybercrime prevention bill were approved by Parliament’s Communications and Information Technology Committee (CITC) in a span of two hours.

    The government-drafted bill, which is composed of 45 articles and includes 29 penalties sentencing offenders to up to five years in prison or fines of between LE,10,000 and LE20 million, was referred by the legislature’s speaker to the committee early this month and has largely been approved in principle.

    The bill’s significance stems from the fact that, in the event that it is passed, it would be the first piece of legislation to regulate what is published on social media and establish principles to confront cybercrimes such as piracy and the hacking of private and government websites. Most importantly, the bill would set a precedent in regulating web censorship.

    The gap in opinion between detractors and proponents of the bill does not center so much on whether cybercrime legislation is necessary, however, but on protection of data and the broad leeway the legislation would grant to authorities to place limitations on liberty.

    For Ghada Moussa, the Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform Ministry’s transparency committee secretary general, there certainly is a need for a cybercrime law. But such a law, in her estimation, can only be part of a legislative package whose primary concern would be to make information available, with the identification of confidential information and regulation and protection thereof as a second priority, appended by a law to set exceptions and outline crimes.

  • WhatsApp will not share user data with Facebook until it complies with GDPR, ICO closes investigation
    https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/14/whatsapp-will-not-share-user-data-with-facebook-until-it-complies-with-g

    Facebook, its popular messaging app WhatsApp, and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have reached a truce in their long-running investigation over how Facebook and WhatsApp share user data. The ICO today announced that it has closed its investigation and concluded that WhatsApp and Facebook, in fact, cannot and do not share user data for anything other than basic data processing. The two most significant upshots of this : WhatsApp (and Facebook) will not be fined ; and the ICO (...)

    #Facebook #WhatsApp #données #BigData #Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données_(RGPD) #G29 (...)

    ##Règlement_Général_sur_la_Protection_des_Données__RGPD_ ##ICO

  • Living Books About History
    https://livingbooksabouthistory.ch/fr/book/histories-of-the-internet-and-the-web

    Sélection d’articles historiques sur internet par Valérie Schafer et Alexandre Serres

    Il y a tout juste cinquante ans, en 1966, Charles Herzfeld débloquait à l’Advanced Research Projects Agency les financements qui permettront au département de l’IPTO (Information Processing Techniques Office) de lancer le projet Arpanet ; il y a vingt-cinq ans, en 1991, le Britannique Tim Berners-Lee annonçait en ligne, dans les Newsgroups, espaces de discussion de la communauté Usenet1, l’invention du Web ; il y a vingt ans, en 1996, Brewster Kahle créait Internet Archive, fondation qui se donnait alors pour mission d’archiver le Web mondial... Récente, l’histoire d’Internet est tournée vers un objet en mouvement permanent, ni clos, ni stabilisé2. Elle est également confrontée à la mémoire vivante de ses acteurs, au regard que porte son époque sur cette innovation, qui incarne pour beaucoup la « révolution numérique », et aux définitions plus ou moins larges de son périmètre.

    Afin de ne pas discriminer entre plusieurs acceptions et approches de l’Internet et de son histoire, cette anthologie rend compte d’une variété de tendances historiographiques et de travaux. Certains prennent étroitement pour cadre d’étude le réseau des réseaux et ses aspects protocolaires. D’autres proposent une analyse plus large des cultures numériques. Les acteurs techniques, mais aussi les visionnaires des premiers temps sont à l’honneur, notamment dans les sources rassemblées dans la première partie de ce Living Book. Mais, les suivantes font également place à des aspects économiques, sociaux et politiques, pour ne pas adopter une approche exclusivement technicienne et internaliste de cette histoire. En effet, les acteurs qui ont fait l’histoire d’Internet ne sont pas seulement ceux qui en ont conçu l’architecture technique et que célèbre l’Internet Hall of Fame de l’Internet Society, même si leur rôle a été décisif et fondateur (voir le texte de Leiner, Cerf et al.). Contribuent aussi à cette histoire ceux qui, par leur vision éclectique, décalée, politisée, engagée, en ont forgé les imaginaires et cultures, à l’instar de John Perry Barlow et de sa retentissante déclaration d’indépendance du Cyberespace en 1996. Des travaux, notamment ceux d’Eric von Hippel3, ont mis en valeur l’idée que les innovations et usages numériques sont le produit d’une co-construction et ne peuvent être appréhendés selon une vision purement descendante (top/down). Les utilisateurs sont également des acteurs à part entière de cette histoire. Ce sont ceux des premiers temps, puis les early adopters confrontés dans les années 1990 à l’arrivée des néophytes sur les réseaux qu’ils ont contribué à développer (voir le texte de Nicolas Auray)4. Ce sont enfin ceux qui découvrent la Toile, créant leurs pages personnelles (article d’Olivier Trédan), consultant les annuaires (texte de Tom Haigh) ou s’appropriant des cultures numériques spécifiques (article de Jason Eppink).

    #Histoire_numérique #Valérie_Schafer #Alexandre_Serres #Histoire_internet

  • Extreme drought hits third of Mongolian territory | The UB Post
    http://theubpost.mn/2017/07/27/extreme-drought-hits-third-of-mongolian-territory

    Approximately 34 percent of the country has been hit with severe drought, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

    In addition, the ministry reported that 43 percent of the country is experiencing a moderate drought, while only 23 percent of land has been designated as having no drought (normal status).

    Despite efforts to alleviate dryness, including weather modification operations to produce rain, the drought is expected to intensify, reports the Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment. The institute also warned that the drought in the agricultural province of Selenge and in the northern part of Sukhbaatar Province has reached dangerous levels. The large number of wildfires spreading across the country has been in part caused by people, but officials say the drought is making the situation even worse.

  • Mongolia experiences hottest month in 56 years | The UB Post
    http://theubpost.mn/2017/07/20/mongolia-experiences-hottest-month-in-56-years

    The Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment reported that June 2017 was the hottest month on record in 56 years.

    The average temperature in June was 1.1 to 7.1 degree Celsius higher than the average temperature of previous years.

    The mean temperature in most areas of the nation ranged from 15 to 20 degree Celsius. Even the high-altitude mountain ranges experienced an average temperature of 2.9 to 10 degree Celsius.

    Mungunmorit soum of Tuv Province experienced the most precipitation in June,amounting to 73.5 milliliters. The highest temperature on record in June 2017 was 40 degrees Celsius in Sainshand soum of Dornogovi Province, while the coldest was minus five degrees Celsius in Tsetsen-Uul soum of Zavkhan Province. The fastest wind speed on record in June was 36 meters per second in Mogod soum of Bulgan Province.

  • Pêche et #Brexit. Le bras de fer a débuté - Économie - LeTelegramme.fr
    http://www.letelegramme.fr/economie/peche-et-brexit-le-bras-de-fer-a-debute-15-07-2017-11596789.php

    À quelques jours de la reprise des négociations sur le Brexit, les professionnels de la pêche craignent de perdre un tiers de leur chiffre d’affaires et de leurs emplois. Ils espèrent préserver un accès aux eaux britanniques et une gestion partagée, en contrepartie de l’ouverture du marché européen aux pêches de Sa Majesté.

    #ZEE

  • The Internet Of Things Is Becoming More Difficult To Escape : All Tech Considered : NPR
    http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/06/06/531747037/the-internet-of-things-is-becoming-more-difficult-to-escape

    So once people are involved in the system, it’s hard to get out of it. What if they didn’t get involved at all?

    Judith Donath of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society says that isn’t actually a choice you get.

    “People will move more deeply into connected life — and they also will be moved there whether they want to be or not,” she says. “The connection of the physical world to information networks enables the collection of an unimaginably vast amount of data about each of us, making it possible to closely model how we think and to devise increasingly effective ways of influencing how we act and what we believe. Attaining this ability is extraordinarily valuable to anyone with something to sell or promote.”

    People crave connection and convenience over all else, and modern-day technology serves this well.

    People are used to risk, and most people believe bad things won’t happen to them anyway.

    David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT and Internet Hall of Fame member, says: “Unless we have a disaster that triggers a major shift in usage, the convenience and benefits of connectivity will continue to attract users. Evidence suggests that people value convenience today over possible future negative outcomes.”

    What about technology hacks, like WannaCry and the Mirai bot?

    Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, says it probably won’t bother users as much as you might expect.

    “Most adults in the U.S. drive cars even though it entails risks,” he says. “Most adults will use IoT devices even though they involve risks because the benefits will vastly outweigh any potential risks. Moreover, as IoT progresses security will improve.”

    #internet #internet_des_objets

  • #RIP Robert Taylor, founder of the idea of the internet

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/technology/robert-taylor-innovator-who-shaped-modern-computing-dies-at-85.html

    His seminal moment came in 1966. He had just taken a new position at the Pentagon — director of the Information Processing Techniques Office, part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA — and on his first day on the job it became immediately obvious to him what the office lacked and what it needed.

    At the time, ARPA was funding three separate computer research projects and using three separate computer terminals to communicate with them. Mr. Taylor decided that the department needed a single computer network to connect each project with the others.

    His idea led to the Arpanet, the forerunner of the internet.

  • #citylis Reflections and Research: Why LIS doesn’t have a quick fix for the post-factual society … and why that’s OK by David Bawden | CityLIS News – Library & Information Science at City, University of London
    https://blogs.city.ac.uk/citylis/2017/02/06/citylis-reflections-and-research-why-lis-doesnt-have-a-quick-fix-for-t

    The irony is that by now it was supposed to be perfect. For most of my working life in the library/information area, first as a practitioner and then as an academic, the emphasis was on providing access to information. Most of the time, whatever the topic, there was never enough information, and accessing what there was could be difficult. Then came the web, Google, Wikipedia, social media, mobile information, open access, and the rest. So that now, we should be living in an information nirvana, where we have ready access to all the information we could need, for any purpose. And indeed, to an extent, that is what we have.

    But we also have, as Luciano Floridi has pointed out, a situation where we can carry a device in our pocket which gives us access to the accumulated knowledge of humanity; and we mostly use it to send each other pictures of cats, and to have arguments with people we don’t know. [Not that I object at all to pictures of cats, but you get the idea.] More seriously, we have fake news, alternative facts, a post-truth and post-factual society, filter bubbles, and all the other accompaniments of what seems to be a deliberate retreat from the rational, knowledge-based world that many of us believed we were naturally headed for.

    Information access? Yes, that’s good, on the whole, But, alas, we can see that misinformation and disinformation proliferates just as well as valid information. I was particularly struck by seeing this unfold in the Twitter responses to the Quebec shootings of 29th January, with false information repeated and embellished to meet the need for facts to suit pre-determined conclusions. Over fifteen years ago, Lyn Robinson and I argued, in a paper on libraries and open society, that providing a ‘free flow of information’, with access to all available and relevant sources, is necessary but not sufficient to support an open and democratic society. While only this month, a paper in The Information Society argues cogently that providing access to the ‘right’ information does not in itself bring about desirable policy outcomes. It’s also worth remembering that one of the few things that have been established beyond doubt by several decades of information behaviour research is that everyone – academics and politicians included – deal with information through satisficing and the principle of least effort. And what could involve less effort – physical, technical and mental – than getting from Twitter and Facebook a selection of news and information recommended to fit in with your prior beliefs.

    So, what should we, the LIS profession and discipline, do now? I have no convincing answer; at least not one that offers an immediate quick-fix. Certainly, it will involve a combination of carrying on with our information access/literacy work, plus activities on a wider canvas, with a specific ethical commitment to opposing the post-fact/post-truth nexus. As Georgina Cronin says, in her wide-ranging analysis of what librarians can do in a post-truth society: “Educate. Vote. Protest. Whatever it is, do it”.

    Perhaps one specific, and important, role for LIS, actually quite a traditional one, is to keep the information environment, or that part of it which may be to a degree under our influence if not control, in a clean, tidy and welcoming state. This will involve a variety of activities, from reporting abuse on social media, to helping to remove fake news, to adding citations to Wikipedia, and much more. In the new information environment this process, which Floridi has dubbed the moral duty to both clean and to restore the infosphere to a proper ethical status, is both very difficult and very important.

    #post-truth #bibliothèques #litteratie_numérique

  • Why is Kim Kardashian hanging out with Émile Durkheim on Twitter?: Learning social media analysis as a sociologist – This Is Not a Sociology Blog
    https://christopherharpertill.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/why-is-kim-kardashian-hanging-out-with-emile-durkhe

    Are you interested in doing research with social media data? If so, you might be interested in a workshop I have organised (as a BSA Digital Sociology Group event) which will be a basic introduction to using the software programme NodeXL for social scientists. This will be at Leeds Beckett on 9th January 2017 and you can register through the BSA website (£15 BSA members, £20 non-members). The workshop will be led by the excellent Wasim Ahmed who is a PhD researcher in the Information School and a Research Associate at the Management School at The University of Sheffield and also a social media analysis consultant. The session will give you a grounding in using NodeXL to analyse Twitter (and potentially other networks) and suggest some ways it is of particular use to social scientists.

    #réseaux #complexité_visuelle #medias_sociaux

  • Myanmar bans officials from saying ’Rohingya’
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/myanmar-bans-officials-rohingya-160621131628167.html

    Myanmar has banned its officials from referring to the oppressed Muslim minority as #Rohingya, instead insisting they are called “people who believe in Islam”.

    The order by the Information Ministry attempts to sidestep the controversy that surrounds the identity of the Rohingya and head off disquiet during an ongoing visit by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee.

    “Rohingya or Bengali shall not be used” during Lee’s visit, the ministry said in a letter.

    “Instead, ’people who believe in Islam in Rakhine State’ shall be used,” it added.

    The letter, dated June 16 and labelled “secret”, added ethnic Rakhine should be referred to “as ’people who believe in Buddhism’ in Rakhine State”.

    #Birmanie

  • Bahreïn : Le pouvoir suspend l’interdiction de publication du journal d’opposition Al Wasat - AP

    http://news.yahoo.com/bahrain-allows-independent-newspaper-resume-publishing-214024055.html

    Bahraini authorities say they will allow an independent newspaper in the Gulf kingdom to resume publishing days after ordering it temporarily suspended.

    The Information Affairs Authority announced the lifting of the suspension against Al-Wasat late Saturday following discussions with the paper’s management.

    Sur @OrientXXI, article du rédac chef de ce journal d’opposition http://orientxxi.info/magazine/impasse-politique-au-bahrein,0383

  • OSCE sees Ukraine’s ministry of information policy as threat to freedom of speech
    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/osce-sees-ukraines-ministry-of-information-policy-as-threat-to-freedom-of-

    The initiative to set up a ministry of information policy in Ukraine endangers freedom of speech, says Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media.

    Le parlement a insisté pour nommer un ministre de l’Information
    (Information policy) L’OSCE et de nombreux médias pensent que ce n’est pas une bonne idée…

  • Egypte : Alors que les attentats se multiplient, le tourisme repartirait à la hausse - Ahram Online
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/115529.aspx

    The number of tourists to Egypt rose by a whopping 193 percent last September compared to the same month in 2013, according to the latest official figures.
    Egypt welcomed nearly 884 thousand tourists from abroad in September, compared to the 301 thousand in the same period of the previous year, the Information and Decision Support Center reported.

    Tourism to Egypt has shown signs of recovery in recent months after three years of political turmoil and militant attacks dealt the sector a series of blows.

    President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was elected last May on a mandate to restore security and stability to country in the midst of terrorist attacks on mostly police and military targets across the country. 

    Tourist numbers recorded a 76.7 percent increase year-on-year in August, the sharpest rise in three years, after several European countries had announced the removal of travel bans imposed on Egypt in February, when a bomb blast on a tour bus in South Sinai killed three South Koreans and their Egyptian driver and raised concerns about safety in Red Sea resorts.

    September’s figure represents an 11.4 percent fall compared to the numbers seen in August 2014, which had exceeded 997 thousand.

    The number of nights tourists spent in Egypt in September increased by some 704 percent, to register 8.8 million, compared to 1.9 million nights during the same month of the previous year.

    Tourists had spent a total of 11 million nights in the country in August 2014.

    Egypt’s tourism sector is a vital source of national income, contributing some 11 percent of the country’s gross national product.

    Egypt welcomed a total of some 4.7 million tourists in 2010, before the country’s January 2011 revolution. By 2013 this number had shrunk to 9.5 million.