Monday, February 23, 2009

Nancy Pelosi urges Italy's help on Iran

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Italy should use its "good offices" with Iran, including their trade relationship, to sway Tehran over its suspect nuclear program and its role in Afghanistan, a top US lawmaker said Monday.
"We believe that it's important for us to have very tough sanctions, we have to be united internationally on that subject, and that Italy can use its good offices and its communications with Iran to help bring us to a resolution of that most important issue," said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi, just back from a trip to Italy and Afghanistan, said she and Italian leaders had discussed Iran's possible attendance at a special session of G8 foreign ministers on Afghanistan in Italy.
"You could say we sounded each other out on the involvement of Iran," she said, adding that Italy could help convince the Islamic republic to do more to stabilize its war-torn neighbor.
"Italy has a big commercial relationship with Iran, comparatively speaking, and I think we made it clear that we thought that it would be important to use their good offices to help resolve issues that we have with Iran," said Pelosi. (Source)

Hamas claims Google Earth led spy war

Agence France-Presse-February 24, 2009
HAMAS overnight claimed Palestinian Authority agents collaborated with Israel during the Gaza offensive, including using Google Earth to pinpoint targets in the Islamist-run territory.
"With the help of the Google Earth program, those groups prepared maps to localise mosques, institutions, tunnels or workshops," said Abu Abdallah, a senior intelligence officer in the Hamas government which rules the Gaza Strip.
The targets were then hit by the Israeli air force, he said.
Abu Abdallah said the information included plans of the home of the Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya as well as the location of tunnels and weapons caches. (Source)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Israel shells Lebanon after rockets hit territory

Israel has fired shells into Lebanon in response to rocket attacks that injured three Israelis.
Rockets fired from southern Lebanon landed in the Israeli town of Maalot earlier today. Local ambulance services said three Israelies were receiving treatment in hospital for injuries while a woman suffered slight cuts after an explosion. A spokesman for the Israeli army said: "The Israeli army considers this a serious incident and believes it is the responsiblity of the Lebanese government and the army to prevent this rocket fire."
The Lebanese army said three rockets had been fired at Israel from the town of Mansouri and stated that seven artillery shells had been fired in retaliation by Israel. No group has claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks as yet. No details have been released of injuries on the Lebanese side. Israeli forces fought a war in Lebanon with Hezbollah militants in 2006 during which 4,000 missiles were fired. Israeli forces launched air strikes across southern parts of its neighbour and launched a limited ground offensive during the 34-day war to eliminate Hezbollah forces. (Source)

Friday, February 20, 2009

German ex-chancellor tells Iranians to recognize Holocaust

Hanover, Germany - On a visit to Iran, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was set to criticize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial that the Holocaust happened, a German newspaper said Friday. In a speech prepared for delivery to the Iranian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Teheran, Schroeder said, "The Holocaust is a historical fact. It makes no sense to deny this unique crime which Hitler's Germany was responsible for."
Schroeder's Berlin office has confirmed he is on the trip. The newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung said it had obtained a copy of the speech and would publish a report of it Saturday. The newspaper is published in Hanover, Schroeder's home town.
Another newspaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, said earlier that Schroeder's trip would last four days.
Schroeder also said in the speech that a regional power which wanted to be taken seriously had to recognize realities, respect international rules and make concessions.
He said he recognized Iran had its own vital security interests, but appealed to Teheran to guarantee Israel's security too.
He called for Iran and the United States to enter direct talks at high level about Iran's nuclear research projects.
Schroeder said the new US president, Barack Obama, had made obvious he was offering the Islamic world the hand of friendship. (Source)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Study says Syria is developing chemical weapon capability

WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (KUNA) -- An intelligence review released on Wednesday says that Syria is developing chemical weapons capability northwest of the country.
"Construction at the Al Safir facility appears to be the most significant chemical weapons production, storage and weaponisation site in Syria. Its presence indicates Syria's desire to develop unconventional weapons either to act as a deterrent to conflict with Israel or as a force enhancer should any conflict ensue", said editor of Janes Intelligence Review Christian Le Miere.
Janes Intelligence Review used satellite images from commercial sources gathered between 2005 and 2008 to examine activity at the chemical weapons facility identified as Al Safir in northwest Syria.
Jane Review says it observed in the imagery "significant levels of construction have taken place at the facilitys production plant and adjacent missile base", noting that the site is not "a civilian industrial complex".
"The facility is accessed only through a military checkpoint and each element within the facility has an additional security point", said the study.
"This does not suggest that Syria is arming itself for an offensive, but it could have regional security implications given Syria's tension with its neighbor, Israel", it added.
Le Miere noted that "further expansion of Al Safir is likely to antagonize Israel and highlight mutual mistrust, even as peace talks between the two neighbors progress intermittently. Although an Israeli air strike on the facility may not yet be likely, such developments only serve to underline and exacerbate regional tensions".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UAE: Second Israeli tennis player seeks visa to compete

Dubai, 17 Feb. (AKI) - Israeli tennis player Andy Ram was waiting for a decision on Tuesday from the United Arab Emirates on a visa application allowing him to compete in the men's draw of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Ram's application follows the controversy over Israeli compatriot Shahar Peer, whose visa was refused by UAE authorities, who cited concerns for her safety after the Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip.The UAE refused to grant a visa to Peer preventing her from competing in this week's Dubai competition which is part of the Sony Ericsson Women's Tennis Association tour. The men's draw was due to begin on 23 February and Ram - who is ranked 11 in the world in doubles - still did not know late Tuesday if he would be able to compete.Ram, born in Uruguay, immigrated to Israel when he was five-years-old and turned professional in 1998. He currently lives in Jerusalem.Following the controversy generated by Peer's visa refusal, there was speculation that next year's tennis tournament might be cancelled.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hizbollah claims right to own anti-aircraft weapons

BEIRUT, Feb 16 (KUNA) -- Secretart General of Hizbollah party Hassan Nasrallah declared Monday at a rally of his supporters that his party had the right to bear arms and to use air power in any confrontation with Israel.
"The time where we were weak and defenseless is gone because now we have the right to own weapons and to use them with strength," he told the rally at a suburb of Beirut.
He indicated that Israel had superiority in air power, but nevertheless feared Hizbollah's acquisition of anti-aircraft weapons, which would bring into the fore a different equation of power. He insinuated in his speech to the supporters that his party might obtain antit-aircraft weapons and use them if necessary.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

UAE denies visa to Israeli tennis player

The United Arab Emirates has refused to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer to take part in a $2 million tennis tournament in Dubai this week, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour said.

"We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the United Arab Emirates denying Shahar Peer a visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships," WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott said.
The board of directors will now meet to discuss the future of the Dubai tournament. WTA rules insist that any player should be allowed to play at any event on the tour.
The Dubai Tennis Championship is one of the WTA Tour's most prestigious events and this week features every player from the world's top 10 except the injured Nadia Petrova.
But like most Arab countries, the UAE has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and Israelis are routinely denied entry.
Dubai Duty Free, owner and organiser of the event, has made no comment. There was no immediate comment from the UAE government.
Peer, a former top 20 player currently ranked 48, became the first Israeli to play in a tour event in the Gulf region when she took part in the Qatar Open in February 2008.
Qatar, which had low-level ties with Israel including an Israeli trade office in its capital, suspended those relations in protest against the three-week Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip that ended in January.
At the time, Peer said she had received a warm welcome in Doha. "I really got a warm welcome from the tournament," Peer said. "When you go on the court you don't think about politics. You just want to play your tennis. They treat me really nice. I feel very comfortable."
"I'm not coming here to help the politics of course, but if by me playing in this tournament it can help anything in the world, for peace or anything, I'll be really happy," she said. (Source)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

George Galloway £1million aid convoy link to three terror suspects arrested on M65

By Christopher Leake
Last updated at 10:08 PM on 14th February 2009

Three men arrested by counter-terrorism police on a motorway were allegedly planning to leave Britain as part of a £1million aid convoy to Gaza, which was organised by former Labour MP George Galloway.
Security sources say the men aged 26, 29 and 36 from Burnley, Lancashire, had been under surveillance for two months in an operation connected to a potential threat of terrorism in the Middle East.
Nine men were arrested initially on Friday night as they drove west in two vans on the M65 near Preston. Six were later released without charge.
One of the two vans surrounded by police vehicles bore an image of the Palestinian flag on its side. The other had signs saying Stop Killing Children, Free Palestine and From Blackburn (UK) to Gaza.
The arrests were part of an ongoing operation by specialist officers from Lancashire Constabulary, Greater Manchester Police and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit. The operation has been monitored by MI5.
The three men were being held tonight at a Lancashire police station hours after the convoy, made up of more than 100 vehicles, left London and boarded ferries from Ramsgate in Kent, to Ostend, Belgium, en route to Gaza.
The convoy included 12 ambulances and a fire engine and carried medicines, tools, clothes, blankets and shoe boxes full of children's treats.
Respect Party MP Mr Galloway, who will help drive the convoy, declined to comment on the arrests.
His spokesman said that without the names of those arrested and their vehicle registration numbers, it would not be possible to say whether the men detained by police were part of the official convoy.
It will travel 5,000 miles through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt before arriving at Rafah in Gaza early next month.
Police today searched five houses in Burnley where those arrested were understood to have lived. One front door was removed from its hinges as police entered the house.
Chief Superintendent Neil Smith, of Lancashire Police, said: 'We will endeavour to carry out any searches as quickly as possible to minimise the impact on the area concerned.
'However, enquiries of this nature are complex and may take time to resolve.'
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons Counter-Terrorism Sub-Committee, said: 'This is another successful operation by our security forces that marks the ongoing threat no one must underestimate.'
A Lancashire police spokeswoman said: 'Three people were arrested at approximately 9pm on Friday on the M65 westbound motorway near Preston.
'The motorway was closed for a short period of time whilst a number of vehicles were seized.
'The arrests are part of an ongoing intelligence-led operation and investigation by Lancashire Constabulary and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.' (Daily Mail)

UPDATE: UK anti-terror police seize 3 vans headed for Gaza

British police said on Saturday they had seized three vans that were to form part of a 100 vehicle aid convoy headed for Gaza as a result of an anti-terror raid in the northwest of England.

Lancashire police said they were searching five houses in the town of Burnley on Saturday after arresting nine men under anti-terrorism laws on a motorway near Preston on Friday.
Six of the men have been released and the remaining three are still in custody. Police can hold them without charge until Sunday night.
The convoy had been organised by the pro-Palestinian organisation Viva Palestina and left central London on Saturday, the group's website said.
It said volunteers planned to drive 5,000 miles (8,000 km) through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt where they had hoped to cross the border at Rafah into Gaza on March 2.
It said the vehicles, which include a fire engine and ambulances, were carrying clothes, blankets and children's toys.
Lancashire police said the cargo from the three seized vehicles was being "thoroughly checked by search officers who are working as quickly as they can to ensure that the parcels can be released and continue on to their destination." (Source)
(Reporting by Frank Prenesti; Editing by Katie Nguyen)

UK MP George Galloway: "There is an intifada sweeping Britain"

London News: Gaza aid convoy of over 100 vehicles sets off from Hyde Park to Palestine (?)

Saturday, 14 February 2009
A HUGE convoy of more than 100 vehicles has snaked its way out of London on route to Gaza, where it will deliver more than £1 million-worth of aid, including ambulances and a fire engine. The size of the convoy and the amount of aid it is carrying have exceeded the expectations of the organisers, grouped under the umbrella Viva Palestine and supported by many Muslim organisations as well as the Stop the War Coalition. The convoy will travel 5,000 miles through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, crossing into Gaza at Rafah in early March.

Respect MP George Galloway, who will help drive the convoy, said: "There is an intifada sweeping Britain. It is a massive and peaceful movement in support of the beleaguered population of Gaza and Palestine. "It is happening everywhere, but is especially strong in the north of England and especially among young Muslims. "This convoy is material manifestation of it. In barely a month, it has metamorphosed from an aspiration I threw out at the 100,000 strong pro-Palestine demonstration on 10 January to more than 100 vehicles and nearly 300 people from across Britain. "We will lead the biggest convoy of British vehicles across North Africa since Montgomery." (Source)

Oh, George, please stop showing off! I'd like to know if there is a chance of doing something similar for the "beleaguered population" of Britain, George. And that's urgent!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders Travelling to London despite UK Govt Ban

THE HAGUE, 12/02/09 - Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders announced yesterday he will travel to the UK today, ignoring the British government's decision to declare him a threat to public order. And challenging the authorities to arrest him.
On Tuesday, the UK ambassador presented Wilders with a letter which stated that he had been refused entry to the UK. The MP was to have shown his anti-Islam film Fitna in the parliamentary building at the invitation of a member of the House of Lords.
Wilders had already said on Tuesday he was considering going ahead with his trip to London anyway. The MP said yesterday that his decision is definite. He will board the flight to the UK. "We will see whether the UK government is really so cowardly as to refuse my entry," he told reporters yesterday.
According to the UK government, Wilders is a threat to public safety due to his ideas about Islam and Muslims. "The government refuses entry to our country to everyone who disseminates extremism, hatred and violent messages in our community," said a UK home affairs ministry spokesman.
Wilders was originally to have shown Fitna in the UK parliament in January, but this did not happen due to strong protests from the Muslim community. House of Lords member Lord Malcom Pearson had now again invited the PVV leader. According to Pearson, the film showing will go ahead today, with or without Wilders.
On TV programme NOVA, Pearson termed it "unacceptable" and "inexplicable" that his government should be so "weak and useless" as to deny freedom of speech to a parliamentarian off a European country. Pearson wants to encourage debate about Islam, particularly among Muslims, by showing the film that Wilders released on the internet in March 2008.
Pearson has invited Wilders to answer questions in the presence of experts this evening, after the film showing. A Channel 4 film which is comparable to Fitna is also on the programme.
The evening is to be chaired by Baroness Cox, also a member of the House of Lords, human rights campaigner and founder of the international Islamic Christian organisation for reconciliation and reconstruction. Pearson himself is a specialist in the European Union, Islam and education.
The Lower House has reacted with condemnation to the UK decision. The Speaker, Gerdi Verbeet, expressed her concern to her counterpart in the House of Lords. "I find this not good."
The conservatives (VVD) consider Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen must demand the UK admits Wilders after all. "I want Verhagen to step up the diplomatic pressure," said MP Hans van Baalen. "A Dutch parliamentarian must be able to travel in an EU country. Verhagen must make a formal protest."
Verhagen made it clear in a telephone call to his UK counterpart David Miliband on Tuesday that the Netherlands finds it "very regrettable" that the UK should declare an elected representative of another EU country persona non grata. Verhagen did not use the term unacceptable.
The leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) and centre-left D66, fierce rivals of Wilders politically, did call it "unacceptable" for him not to be allowed to go to London. They consider that if the British do not go back on the decision, Premier Jan Peter Balkenende must speak to his counterpart Gordon Brown.
Christian democratic (CDA) MP Van Haersma Buma terms the UK reaction "undesirable" and considers it "a far-fetched argument" that public order should be endangered by a visit from Wilders. CDA wants the cabinet to make a point of the UK refusal "in future discussions" in the EU.
Labour (PvdA), like the CDA, terms the refusal undesirable. The party is pleased however with the "alert and adequate reaction" by Verhagen. The PvdA, with a big Muslim following, did not want to say more.
Wilders himself appears to be only becoming more motivated to spread his message. "They will never ever keep me down, even if the next thing is that I can only go to Ameland," he said referring to a mini-island in the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea.
Vice-Premier Wouter Bos said yesterday that the British government is making a "wrong weighing-up" which "surprises me very much," he told reporters. "They are putting Wilders down as an inciter to hatred, but this you are only when you have been convicted." Additionally, a disturbance of public order could never be caused by Wilders but only by demonstrators misbehaving, in Bos' opinion.
An appeal court in Amsterdam ruled in January that Wilders must be prosecuted for incitement to hatred and discrimination and "insult of Islamic worshippers" for statements he made on Islam in the media and in Fitna. The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) had established in 2008 that none of Wilders' statements were illegal. But the OM must bring a case against the MP anyway. (Source)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Russia to supply Lebanon with 10 MiG-29 fighter jets. Shame they can't fly!

Russia has agreed to supply Lebanon with 10 MiG-29 fighter jets, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr said on Tuesday during a visit to Moscow. The ITAR-Tass news agency said the planes would be provided as aid. Murr spoke during Tuesday's talks in Moscow with Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. Serdyukov told the Ria Novosti agency that Moscow had received a weapons procurement list from the Lebanese armed forces which would be considered in the near future. He added that the fighter deliveries would provide a fresh impetus to military cooperation between the two countries. Inside sources privy to the deal were quoted by the Ria Novosti agency as saying the warplanes "will be sold at a hefty discount." (Haaretz)

06/ 02/ 2009

Some 70% of Russia's MiG-29 fighters unable to fly - experts

MOSCOW, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - At least 200 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, or 70% of the total in service with the Russian Air Force, are too old to take to the skies, a Russian business daily said on Friday citing military experts.
Following a MiG-29 crash in East Siberia last December, the Defense Ministry admitted for the first time that Russia's MiG-29 fleet was mostly outdated and not capable of performing combat duties.
The crash was the second in East Siberia involving a MiG-29 fighter in less than two months. In mid-October, a MiG-29 fighter crashed 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Domna airfield during a regular training flight. The pilot ejected safely.
Lt. Gen. Sergei Bainetov said on Wednesday that all aircraft of this type were thoroughly inspected after the crash and the probe revealed "traces of corrosion on the tail unit of some of the planes."
Only 30% of the MiG-29s were allowed to resume flights after a month-long suspension.
The Kommersant daily said in an article on Friday that experts believe the aircraft, which was developed in the 1970s and supplied to the Air Force between 1983 and 1993, has become obsolete and needs to be removed from active service.

Former Russian Prime Minister predicts mass protests in Russia this summer

06/ 02/ 2009

TALLINN, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who heads a liberal opposition political party, has predicted mass protests in Russia this summer amid the current financial crisis.
Kasyanov, 51, the leader of the People's Democratic Union, said the mass protests will begin "when people in Russia realize that they are in a deep economic hole."
"In less than half a year, when the current leadership has spent all the money, there will be nothing left in the arsenal to engage with the public except batons and the use of force," Kasyanov told a roundtable on relations between the EU and Russia in Tallinn.
Russia has been hard hit by the global financial crunch that was sparked by the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States last summer and quickly spread to the rest of the world.
Russian authorities have pledged however that the anti-crisis measures currently undertaken by the government will not affect social expenditures and state support to Russians.
Kasyanov, who was prime minister during Vladimir Putin's first term as president in 2000-2004, said the country's economy could be saved by expanding political rights and freedoms in Russian society.
He also noted that the country's foreign policy has become tougher.
"The freedom space has become more squeezed and the gap in values between Russia and the West has deepened," he said.
Kasyanov has accused the Russian authorities of "pressure and intimidation" after he was banned from running in the March 2008 presidential elections over irregularities in his application. The election commission ruled his supporters had collected forged signatures to support his bid.
A former member of The Other Russia opposition coalition, Kasyanov was accused in 2005 of putting up for sale in 2003 two houses formerly owned by the government. In 2007, the court ordered him to return the property and pay the government in damages.

$12M seized from Hamas spokesman at border

CAIRO, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Egyptian police discovered almost $12 million in cash in the luggage of a Hamas official returning to Gaza from talks in Cairo, officials said.
Ayman Taha, a spokesman for Hamas, and his companions said that the money -- $9 million and 2 million euros ($2.58 million) -- was needed to pay salaries of employees, The Times of London reported.
Taha and five other delegates to the Cairo talks were stopped Thursday at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
Egypt has been trying to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas but negotiations had reached an impasse with the main stumbling blocks border security and Israel's attempts to cut off Gaza. Members of the delegation planned to return to Cairo next week.
While Egyptian officials were unsure whether to deposit the money found on Taha in a bank or to allow him to keep it while he remains in Egypt, Israel said it would allow the Palestinian Authority to transfer $43 million to Gaza so that government workers can be paid.

Israel suspends flights to Antalya over CIA notice

Israel has suspended its flights to Antalya over a coded message sent to Israeli and Turkish officials by the CIA about preparations by an al-Qaeda terrorist in Turkey to launch a bloody attack against Israeli passengers.

06 February 2009, Friday

The CIA sent the coded message to Israeli and Turkish officials around three weeks ago, warning them about preparations by an al-Qaeda member to carry out a deadly attack against Israeli passengers at Turkish airports. The message stated that the terrorist infiltrated Turkey from a Middle Eastern country with the objective of retaliating against Israel's recent assault on the Gaza Strip. The terrorist was to launch the attack at the İstanbul Atatürk Airport, the Adnan Menderes Airport in İzmir or the Antalya Airport, according to the message, which also notes that the terrorist is using a fake passport.
Upon receiving the CIA message, Israel decided to halt its flights to Antalya. Sources said Israel's decision to suspend flights to Turkey's southern city had nothing to do with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's strong reaction to Israeli violence against Gazans. Erdoğan reacted harshly to the offensive on various occasions and called on Israel to declare a cease-fire.
A leading Israeli daily reported on Wednesday that security officials have instructed Israeli airlines not to fly to the Turkish resort city of Antalya because local authorities were no longer allowing armed Israeli security personnel to arrive at the airport.
The airlines were instructed to halt all services to Antalya until the matter is sorted out, a report by the Israeli daily Haaretz said, while noting that Israeli charter airlines had already reduced the number of flights to Antalya as a result of the worsening financial crisis and the Turkish government's strong disapproval of Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip.
In the meantime, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and police departments nationwide were ordered to step up security against the prospect of a terrorist attack in the country. Airports in three Turkish cities have tightened security measures. (Source)

Investigators list 12,000 suspects in 2 girls' murder

06/ 02/ 2009

ROSTOV-ON-DON, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - Investigators in the southern Russian city of Taganrog have compiled a list of suspects in the 2007 murder of two girls comprising 12,000 names, the head of the city's investigation department said on Wednesday.

The bodies of two sisters, born in 1999 and 2003, were found in a forest near Taganrog in May 2007. The girls had been reported missing two days before.

"We have compiled a list of people who could have committed the crime," Yury Popov said. "Investigators currently keep in mind a total of 12,000 people."

Investigators have obtained samples of the murderer's DNA and determined that the girls were killed by one man.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Great News: Turkish Jews equal citizens, says Gül

Thank God for that!

Each and every citizen of the Turkish Republic has equal rights and Turkish Jews are not an exception to this firm principle, President Abdullah Gül said yesterday, as he called on the Turkish public to take pains to be more sensitive to the Jewish population in its reactions to the loss of hundreds of civilians during Israel's recent deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Continues here!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Zhirinovsky: "England has only caused our country harm"

MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of a Russian ultranationalist party hit out at Andrei Arshavin on Tuesday over the player's plans to join English side Arsenal.

"Why have you sold out to an English club? England has only caused our country harm," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky on the LDPR official website.

"Our conmen run around there, and our fugitive oligarchs who stole money in Russia hide from justice there. If you are fed up of playing for Zenit, there are many other clubs [in Russia] like Spartak, CSKA, Dynamo and Lokomotiv. Think again!" the statement said.

Zhirinovsky caused international alarm when his LDPR party came first in Russia's 1993 parliamentary elections on the back of a confrontational and fiercely nationalist campaign. Although his party's share of the votes has gone down since then, it is still the third largest in the State Duma.

His recent comments on the latest installment of the "Arshavin soap opera" were echoed by the leader of a St. Petersburg communist group.

The Communists of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region first criticized the player in December, saying his desire to move to a foreign club was a "betrayal."

"Our position has not changed," Sergei Malinkovich said on the group's website. 'This is a moral betrayal at a time when spectators are skimping on food to watch Zenit games."

He also called on "female fans" to "take revenge" on Arshavin. "I urge you not to love the insidious Arsh any longer ... Bite your tongue and forget about him," he added.

Arshavin, whose move to Arsenal has yet to be approved by the English FA, has not commented.