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Oil for food scandal

Annan met with UN reform pointman Yevgeny Primakov in Moscow when Oil-For-Food scandal broke

by Judi McLeod

January 31, 2005

Did United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan hightail it to Moscow to check in with his handpicked UN reform man Yevgeny Primakov within weeks of William Safire's New York Times expose on alleged scandal in the Oil-For-Food Program?

The first of Safire's groundbreaking Oil-For-Food investigative stories ran in mid-March, 2004.

Here's Annan's Moscow itinerary as documented by The Russian Federation: "Annan arrived in Moscow on Sunday, April 4, 2004 where he had an early working dinner with Evgeni (sic) Primakov, former Prime Minister of the Russian Federation."

On the following day, Annan visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where he laid a wreath before visiting with current Federation President Prime Minister Mikhail E. Fradkov and attending a Model United Nations Conference involving 1,800 high school and university students from all over Russia.

While in Moscow, Annan also met with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and Secretary of the National Security Council, Igor Ivanov.

In other words, Annan met with Primakov, holding only the status of former Federation president before anyone else--including President Vladimir Putin.

While Paul Volcker, who leads the Oil-For-Food probe, has been investigating Annan in the comfort of his own Turtle Bay office, ex-KGB spymeister, Primakov, who was on Saddam's payroll, remains under the probe's radar screen.

But Volcker, Benon Sevan, the original "senior UN official" in the Oil-For-Food program, and Primakov share something in common: all three were handpicked for their individual roles by Kofi Annan.

The mainline media has finally picked up on what Fox News calls Paul Volcker's "potentially too-close-for-comfort ties to companies he's supposed to be investigating." Sevan, who retired just before the Oil-For-Food scandal broke, went AWOL. In spite of his close relationship with Annan, Primakov, as far as the Oil-For-Food probe is concerned, has somehow become a non-issue.

For reasons that remain obscure, Primakov was personally appointed by Annan for a panel to "reform" the UN, a job already held by Power Corp. associate and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin advisor, Maurice Strong.

In making recommendations for UN reform, Primakov also had help from former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. These are some of the recommendations for reform they came up with: expansion of the Security Council by six new permanent members: Japan, Germany, India, Brazil and two African states. Under this set up, the new six would not be vested with veto power, which would remain with today's five permanent members: Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States.

The Primakov-Scowcroft duo recommended that the UN would recognize that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists may justify, but only as a last resort, pre-emptive strikes and preventive wars.

Then there was the "golden parachute" recommendation to retire longtime UN employees.

He may have slipped off the radar screen, but Annan's history with Primakov goes all the way back to 1998, when according to the Centre for Russian Studies, Annan was meeting with then Russian Foreign Minister…Yevgeny Primakov.

In a chronology of events catalogued by the Centre, on March 30, 1998 Annan and Primakov were "discussing the Iraqi issue and the Middleeast (sic) peace settlement."

"Primakov and Annan also paid attention to the Balkan situation, touching upon the latest positive changes within the framework of the Kosovo peace process. The two men also discussed issues connected with Georgian and Tajik peacekeeping operations. Besides, Annan and Primakov discussed the UN-reform issue. Russia, which completely supports this process, had submitted some proposals on the issue last year. Right now, the UN is being affected by a financial crisis, which has been largely caused by the U.S. failure to repay its $1-billion debts."

Meanwhile, the five Capitol Hill panels conducting investigations into the Oil-For-Food program--some of whom are now admitting a concern about Volcker creating at least an appearance of impropriety as far as potential conflicts of interests are concerned--should be checking out former KGB spymeister Yevgeny Primakov.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: judi@canadafreepress.com


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