WikiLeaks: Indian Dalit leader sent jet to pick up sandals

Mayawati, the chief minister of India's Uttar Pradesh state, is known as the de facto political leader of the traditionally marginalized Dalit caste. Unfortunately, she's also known for doing things like spending hundreds of milions of dollars in state funds to build giant statues of herself and apearing in public wearing giant garlands made of cash (shown above). This week she's in the news for some comments directed at M. Assange in response to a negative cable about her: 

"The owner of Wikileaks has gone mad or he has joined hands with our opposition parties to malign my government," Ms Mayawati told a press conference broadcast live on Indian television.

"I request the government of his country to send him to a mental asylum and in case they are all full, I will make space for him in the mental asylum in [the city of] Agra," she said.

She also said he had "an anti-Dalit mindset".

Looking at the cable in question, dated Oct. 23, 2008,  it's not hard to see why Mayawati is upset: 

She has become a virtual paranoid dictator replete with food tasters and a security entourage to rival a head of state. Civil servants will not speak to the press for fear of losing their positions. Journalists admitted they feared retribution should they print anything negative about Mayawati. One journalist claimed that all civil servants' and most journalists' phones are tapped.

There's also this anecdote of Imelda Marcos-like behavior: 

Mayawati's full majority victory in May 2007 UP State Assembly elections left her beholden to no one and has allowed her to act on her eccentricities, whims and insecurities. When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand.

What's interesting is that Mayawati is directing her anger at WikiLeaks rather than the U.S. officials who actually made the comments about her. Is she alleging that Assange is just making up the cables, or does she just think he's a softer target?

AFP PHOTO/STR

Passport

WikiLeaks: 'Putin has a personal gripe with Estonia'

The Moscow Times reports on a diplomatic cable obtained by the Russian newspaper Kommersant featuring a bit of amateur psychology on why the prime minister seems so ill-disposed toward Estonia: 

A cable dating back to December 2009 cites the Estonian Foreign Ministry's undersecretary and ambassador to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Harri Tiido, as saying that "Estonia seeks pragmatic relations with Russia and has managed a number of productive working level meetings over 2008."

But relations remained "difficult at the political level" because of Putin, who alone decides the policy toward Estonia even after trading the presidency for the prime minister's post in 2008, Tiido said.

"Putin has a personal gripe with Estonia," Tiido is quoted as saying.

Putin's father, also Vladimir, fought in the Red Army during the war and parachuted into Estonia for an unspecified operation. But locals, still disgruntled with the country's occupation by the Soviet Union in 1940 — a year before the Germans invaded Estonia — handed him over to the Nazi forces, Tiido said. Putin's father later managed to flee but was injured as he left, he said.

Eh...maybe. Putin has never seemed particularly fond of any former Soviet republic that actively seeks to escape Russian influence. Does he have particular emnity toward Estonia? At least he's never threatened to hang any of the country's leaders by the balls.

Russian-Estonian relations hit a low point in 2007 following the removal of a controversial Soviet war memorial in Tallinn. The move prompted an official rebuke from Moscow and was followed shortly after by a massive cyberattack, allegedly orchestrated by Russian nationalists. 

DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images