Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

September 5, 2019

Do You Like The Beach? Russia had Some Good Ones But Now Some Make you Irradiate




Image result for russian radioactive beach
Radioactive pontoons involved in the Russian failed Nuclear accident wash ashore to the beach




A pair of pontoon barges suspected of being doused in radioactivity during a deadly nuclear missile accident in Russia washed up on a local beach three weeks ago, where they’ve reportedly been leaking radiation into the sea and sand ever since.
They landed near the mouth of the Verkhovka river, at a spot once popular with locals as a seaside hangout on Russia’s far-northern coast, and have been sitting there with no official warning signs beyond a dirty red shirt stretched between two wooden poles, according to a report on local television station Belomorkanal. 
Radiation measurements as high as eight times normal background levels were taken on Aug. 31 from a distance of 150 meters, while earlier tests soon after the pontoons arrived peaked as high as 38 times normal, the outlet said. Those levels are still well short of life-threatening, but measurements closer to the barges haven’t been made. 
“No idiots could be found to check the levels on the pontoons themselves without protection,” the local TV presenter deadpanned during a broadcast Monday.
Radioactive barges on a holiday beach are just the latest unsettling incident to arise after a deadly nuclear accident in Russia’s far north on Aug. 8, widely believed to have been a result of the country’s secretive Skyfall nuclear missile program. 
Russian President Vladimir Putin personally unveiled Skyfall last year as a crucial part of Russia’s new “invincible” arsenal of nuclear weapons. The project aims to field a cruise missile with effectively unlimited range thanks to an onboard nuclear engine.
 But some two-dozen Russians have been killed or injured in accidents involving high-tech, secretive nuclear military gear since July, in what outside military and nuclear experts say appears to be a deadly trend linked to a new arms race between the U.S. and Russia. 
The Aug. 8 explosion killed seven people and sent radiation readings in the local city of Severodvinsk spiking up roughly 16 times normal levels. The blast occurred during a mission to recover a missile from the ocean floor, a U.S. intelligence assessment reportedly concluded. 
One of the two barges washed up at the mouth of the Verkhovka River a day after the explosion, on Aug. 9. The other was left there by tugboats four days later, Belomorkanal reported. 
Readings are taken on Saturday, Aug. 31 measured from 70 to 186 micro roentgen per hour. Earlier measurements in August peaked at 750 micro roentgen per hour. Normal local background levels in the area are closer to 20 micro roentgen per hour, according to Greenpeace.   
Those tests don’t yet indicate a serious danger to locals, Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told VICE News. But there’s not enough data yet to know what the levels are like on the barges themselves. 
“It is important not to be exposed for too long, but a short dose is not life-threatening,” he wrote in an email. “However, I hope that the dose is much lower in the population centers nearby.”

January 12, 2019

FBI: Inquiry to See If TRUMP Secretly WORKING For RUSSIA




                                                                        






In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

The investigation of the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said. 

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them. It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter, and some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

The criminal and counterintelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, former law enforcement officials said in interviews in recent weeks, because if Mr. Trump had ousted the head of the F.B.I. to impede or even end the Russia investigation, that was both a possible crime and a national security concern. The F.B.I.’s counterintelligence division handles national security matters.

If the president had fired Mr. Comey to stop the Russia investigation, the action would have been a national security issue because it naturally would have hurt the bureau’s effort to learn how Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Americans were involved, according to James A. Baker, who served as F.B.I. general counsel until late 2017. He privately testified in October before House investigators who were examining the F.B.I.’s handling of the full Russia inquiry.
 
“Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” Mr. Baker said in his testimony, portions of which were read to The New York Times. Mr. Baker did not explicitly acknowledge the existence of the investigation of Mr. Trump to congressional investigators.

No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. An F.B.I. spokeswoman and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office both declined to comment. 

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, sought to play down the significance of the investigation. “The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,” Mr. Giuliani said on Friday, though he acknowledged that he had no insight into the inquiry.

The cloud of the Russia investigation has hung over Mr. Trump since even before he took office, though he has long vigorously denied any illicit connection to Moscow. The obstruction inquiry, revealed by The Washington Post a few weeks after Mr. Mueller was appointed, represented a direct threat that he was unable to simply brush off as an overzealous examination of a handful of advisers. But few details have been made public about the counterintelligence aspect of the investigation.

The decision to investigate Mr. Trump himself was an aggressive move by F.B.I. officials who were confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Mr. Comey and enduring the president’s verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”

A vigorous debate has taken shape among some former law enforcement officials outside the case over whether F.B.I. investigators overreacted in opening the counterintelligence inquiry during a tumultuous period at the Justice Department. Other former officials noted that those critics were not privy to all of the evidence and argued that sitting on it would have been an abdication of duty.

The F.B.I. conducts two types of inquiries, criminal and counterintelligence investigations. Unlike criminal investigations, which are typically aimed at solving a crime and can result in arrests and convictions, counterintelligence inquiries are generally fact-finding missions to understand what a foreign power is doing and to stop any anti-American activity, like thefts of United States government secrets or covert efforts to influence policy. In most cases, the investigations are carried out quietly, sometimes for years. Often, they result in no arrests.

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia. 

How the Mueller Investigation Could Play Out for Trump
If Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finds evidence that Mr. Trump broke the law, he will have decisions to make about how to proceed. We explain them.

May 23, 2018
Other factors fueled the F.B.I.’s concerns, according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked as an F.B.I. an informant, had compiled memos in mid-2016 containing unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him. 

In the months before the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was also already investigating four of Mr. Trump’s associates over their ties to Russia. The constellation of events disquieted F.B.I. officials who were simultaneously watching as Russia’s campaign unfolded to undermine the presidential election by exploiting existing divisions among Americans.

“In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself, you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability, America’s ability and the West’s ability to spread our democratic ideals,” Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, told House investigators in private testimony reviewed by The Times.

“That’s the goal, to make us less of a moral authority to spread democratic values,” she added. Parts of her testimony were first reported by The Epoch Times.

And when a newly inaugurated Mr. Trump sought a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey and later asked that the end an investigation into the president’s national security adviser, the requests set off discussions among F.B.I. officials about opening an inquiry into whether Mr. Trump had tried to obstruct that case.

But law enforcement officials put off the decision to open the investigation until they had learned more, according to people familiar with their thinking. As for a counterintelligence inquiry, they concluded that they would need strong evidence to take the sensitive step of investigating the president, and they were also concerned that the existence of such an inquiry could be leaked to the news media, undermining the entire investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election.

The first was a letter Mr. Trump wanted to send to Mr. Comey about his firing, but never did, in which he mentioned the Russia investigation. In the letter, Mr. Trump thanked Mr. Comey for previously telling him he was not a subject of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Everyone Who’s Been Charged in Investigations Related to the 2016 Election
Thirty-seven people have been charged in investigations related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Aug. 21, 2018
Even after the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, wrote a more restrained draft of the letter and told Mr. Trump that he did not have to mention the Russia investigation — Mr. Comey’s poor handling of the Clinton email investigation would suffice as a fireable offense, he explained — Mr. Trump directed Mr. Rosenstein to mention the Russia investigation anyway.

He disregarded the president’s order, irritating Mr. Trump. The president ultimately added a reference to the Russia investigation to the note he had delivered, thanking Mr. Comey for telling him three times that he was not under investigation.

The second event that troubled investigators was an NBC News interview two days after Mr. Comey’s firing in which Mr. Trump appeared to say he had dismissed Mr. Comey because of the Russia inquiry.

“I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” he said. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Mr. Trump’s aides have said that a fuller examination of his comments demonstrates that he did not fire Mr. Comey to end the Russia inquiry. “I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people,” Mr. Trump added. “He’s the wrong man for that position.”

As F.B.I. officials debated whether to open the investigation, some of them pushed to move quickly before Mr. Trump appointed a director who might slow down or even end their investigation into Russia’s interference. Many involved in the case viewed Russia as the chief threat to American democratic values.

“With respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life,” Ms. Page told investigators for a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into Moscow’s election interference. 

F.B.I. officials viewed their decision to move quickly as validated when a comment the president made to visiting Russian officials in the Oval Office shortly after he fired Mr. Comey was revealed days later.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to a document summarizing the meeting. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Follow Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT, @nytmike, and @npfandos.

A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 12, 2019, on Page A1 of the New York edition

August 31, 2018

Russia's Putin Forced to Soften A Little His Dramatic and Unpopular Pension Cuts



 Mr. Alexei Navalny (Can you see what is behind that face?)




Usually Putin doesn't say much when he decries about anything in a way of explanations. But this time the Russian population was having a big problem swallowing the fact they now had to wait 8 more years to retirenment. That is a big increase and only a leader that either has a lot of backing from his constituents or a dictator that can use force to jail and kill the opposition could just say it and do it. But this time Putin had to soften the years by 3 which is not much but I guess it was his gesture from someone who doesn't back down to his people. At the end the Russians have to swallow what ever he throws at them. I wonder if the population knows or suspect how many billions he is got in multiple properties in Russia and much more in dollars, pounds, rubles  and real estate in outside banks. All he had to do is put some money back to the economy like a $billion or so as a way of thanking the Russian population for making a nobody ex KGB middle level spy with not many assets to one of the riches man in the whorld. 

If you like the order that comes from dictators you have to put up with making them rich with the family and many friends. You also have to put up with the jailing with jacked up charges and sometimes dissapearences which means death bcause you never get to see your son or husband ever again. 

I know some don't like to suffere while Putin enjoys your money. One of those is Alexei Nalvany.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has softened his plan for pension reform in response to his falling approval rating and the threat of nationwide protests, reports the AP.
Why it matters: In a rare concession, Putin said the retirement age for women would be raised from 55 to 60, rather than 63 as originally planned. The televised speech in which he announced the partial change illustrates just how unpopular the reforms were, as Putin seldom explains his policy decisions to the public. 


Russian opposition leader and prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 30 days in prison for breaking public protest laws, reports Al Jazeera.
Why it matters: Navalny was convicted in January but sentenced more than six months later, a delay he claims was part of the Russian government's efforts to stop him from leading nationwide protests over pension reformon Sept. 9. Navalny has been jailed several times for organizing protests against Putin and for other charges he says are bogus. He was barred from running for president in January.
AXIOS

July 26, 2018

Sir Elton John Blasts Russia Over it's Mistreatment of Gay People




 

SSir Elton John has sharply criticised Russia and other eastern European governments for their treatment of gay people, warning that stigma and discrimination are contributing to a fast-growing Aids epidemic in the region.
Sir Elton, who was speaking at the International Aids Conference in Amsterdam, has long been a champion of people with HIV/Aids through his foundation.
He told a press conference he was "so anti" the discrimination faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in eastern Europe.
“We’re here to protect them and for everyone who’s HIV [positive] but especially for the LGBT community that has suffered so badly and are still suffering and it makes me crazy,” said Sir Elton. “If there wasn’t this discrimination we could get rid of the disease far quicker.”
People have asked me to boycott Russia but you can’t boycott peopleSir Elton John 
His comments came as he launched further funding from his Aids foundation for local partners working in the region.
“Until we get that idea out of our head that gay people are 'less than' then I am afraid we will still be sitting here in 20 years time discussing the same thing,” he said.
“To be an LGBT person in Russia is very difficult,” he added.
Experts are increasingly warning of a “huge crisis” in the HIV and Aids epidemic in the eastern European and central Asia region, which is the only area of the world where numbers of cases of the disease are rising sharply. Between 2010 and 2017, rates of new infections in the region rose 30 per cent with much of the rise driven by new cases of the disease among injecting drug users. 
Sir Elton, whose foundation works in the region, acknowledged that working in Russia was challenging in light of conservative attitudes and discriminatory official policies. Non-governmental organisations receiving foreign funds for instance risk being labelled foreign agents by the government. 
"We know what we are up against. We are not stupid,” said Sir Elton.
“People have asked me to boycott Russia but you can’t boycott people,” he added.
Sir Elton also announced a new joint initiative to tackle HIV infection in men alongside the Duke of Sussex, whom he praised for his passion and “dedication” to tackling the HIV epidemic.

January 22, 2018

Pepsi and Stolichnaya in Russian History 60's-90's Exchange of Warships for Pepsi


 

 This Russian General had Pepsi bottle the drink right on a warehouse by his house since it could not be imported. It is believed he was the original Russian drinker in Russia.


On April 9, 1990, American newspapers reported on an unusual deal. Pepsi had come to a three billion dollar agreement with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had long traded Stolichnaya vodka in return for Pepsi concentrate. But this time, Pepsi got 10 Soviet ships.
This wasn’t the first time that Pepsi sold soft drinks in return for a flotilla. The previous year, the company even received warships. This situation—a soft drink conglomerate briefly owning a fairly large navy—was the unusual result of an unusual situation: a communist government buying a product of capitalism from the country it considered its greatest rival.
It began with a rare exchange of culture. In the summer of 1959, the U.S.S.R. held an exhibition in New York, and the United States reciprocated. The American National Exhibition in Sokolniki Park, Moscow, featured American products: cars, art, fashion, and an entire model American house. A number of still-familiar brands sponsored exhibits and booths, including Disney, Dixie Cup Inc, IBM, and Pepsi.
That month, many Russians got their first taste of Pepsi. One of them was Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. On July 24, then-Vice President Richard Nixon showed Khrushchev the exhibition. It became the scene of the infamous Kitchen Debate. While standing in a mock-up of an American kitchen, Nixon and Khrushchev traded barbs about communism and a recent American resolution on “captive states” under Soviet power. Nixon also led Khrushchev towards a display booth that dispensed nothing other than Pepsi-Cola. Symbolically, the booth offered two batches: one mixed with American water, the other with Russian.
It was a set up. The night before, a Pepsi executive, Donald M. Kendall, had approached Nixon at the American embassy. As the head of Pepsi’s international division, he’d defied the company’s leaders in deciding to sponsor a booth and attend the exhibition. To prove that the trip was worthwhile, he told Nixon, he “had to get a Pepsi in Khrushchev’s hand.”



Kendall is at the front, pouring.
  HERITAGE IM

Nixon delivered. A photographer caught Nixon and Khrushchev together as the Soviet leader gingerly sipped his cup of Pepsi. Kendall stands to the side, pouring another cup. Khrushchev’s son later recalled that many Russian’s first take on Pepsi was that it smelled like shoe wax. But, he added, everyone remembered it, even after the exhibition was over.
 For Kendall, the photo was a triumph. He had big plans for the brand’s expansion, and the Khrushchev photo op catapulted him up the ranks at Pepsi. Six years after the American National Exhibition, Kendall became CEO.
A statue of Pushkin watching over the Pepsi signs.
The U.S.S.R. was Kendall’s land of opportunity, and his goal was to open it to Pepsi. In 1972, he succeeded, negotiating a cola monopoly and locking out Coca-Cola until 1985. Cola syrup began flowing through the Soviet Union, where it was bottled locally. It was a coup: As the New York Times put it, the soda was “the first capitalistic product” available in the U.S.S.R. Pepsi had become a pioneer. But there was one issue: money.
Soviet rubles were worthless internationally, with their value determined by the Kremlin. Soviet law also prohibited taking the currency abroad. So the U.S.S.R. and Pepsi resorted to barter. In return for cola, Pepsi received Stolichnaya vodka to distribute in the United States. By the late 1980s, Russians were drinking approximately a billion servings of Pepsi a year. In 1988, Pepsi broadcast the first paid commercials on local TV, starring none other than Michael Jackson. The bartering worked well—Stolichnaya was popular in the United States. An American boycott in response to the Soviet-Afghan war, however, meant that Pepsi wanted something else to trade.
                                                                     
                                     


So, in the spring of 1989, Pepsi and the Soviet Union signed a remarkable deal. Pepsi became the middleman for 17 old submarines and three warships, including a frigate, a cruiser, and a destroyer, which the company sold for scrap. Pepsi also bought new Soviet oil tankers and leased them out or sold them in partnership with a Norwegian company. In return, the company could more than double the number of Pepsi plants in the Soviet Union. (It also ignited jokes that Pepsi was taking the Cola Wars to the high seas.) “We’re disarming the Soviet Union faster than you are,” Kendall quipped to Brent Scowcroft, President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser.
But that was nothing compared to 1990’s three billion dollar deal. (A figure based on Pepsi’s estimate of how much sales of cola in the Soviet Union and vodka in America would net them over the next decade.) It was the largest deal ever brokered between an American company and the Soviet Union, and Pepsi hoped it would spur more expansion. Pepsi even launched another American institution in the country: Pizza Hut. The future looked bright.




Instead, the Soviet Union fell in 1991, taking with it Pepsi’s deal of the century. Suddenly, their long balancing act turned into a scramble to protect its assets in a free-for-all made more complex by redrawn borders, inflation, and privatization. The LA Times described how the new Pizza Huts were hobbled—their mozzarella was sourced from Lithuania. The company had hoped to pivot from heavy glass bottles to cheaper plastic, but the plastic company was located in Belarus.
Similarly, Pepsi’s partially-built ships were stranded in newly-independent Ukraine, which wanted a cut of the sales. Kendall, who had since retired, lamented that the Soviet Union had essentially gone out of business. Over several months, Pepsi pieced parts of the deal back together. But instead of dealing with a single state, they had to broker with 15 countries. Worse, Coca-Cola aggressively entered the former Soviet Union, and Pepsi struggled to keep its advantage. Among other marketing strategies, it launched a giant, replica Pepsi can up to the Mir space station for a commercial and erected two iconic billboards over bustling Pushkin Square in Moscow.
Russia is still Pepsi’s second biggest market outside of the United States. But their pioneering luster has faded. It didn’t help that Pepsi had been around for so long that other sodas seemed novel by comparison. After only a few years, Coke beat out Pepsi as Russia’s most popular cola. And in 2013, even the billboards over Pushkin Square came down. Maybe Pepsi should have held on to that destroyer.
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September 26, 2017

Russian Gay Activists Urge EU to Investigate Chechen Atrocities on Gay Men






[From BRUSSELS]  Russian civil society activists are urging European Union member states to investigate crimes allegedly committed by Chechen authorities on gay men.
Igor Kochetkov, the founder and council member of the Russian LGBT Network, told the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on September 25 that his organization had helped 76 people to leave Chechnya.
"We should understand that those evacuated from Chechnya are still under threat not only in Chechnya but also outside. The Chechen authorities look for them directly or through their relatives and try to intimidate them," he told the committee.
Kochetkov also said that there were dozens of victims and witnesses of crimes that live in EU countries that are prepared to testify but that "they need guarantees of safety for themselves and their relatives."
"If the EU is really interested in investigating these crimes it is not just sufficient to just accept these refugees, you could launch you own investigations, you could give fully-fledged state support and protection of witnesses and victims of those crimes," he said.
The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has reported that more than 100 men were detained in Chechnya on the basis of the assumption that they were gay, and that at least three of them were killed. Others were reportedly tortured.
That reporting has been corroborated in part or in whole by rights groups and RFE/RL.
The Kremlin has downplayed the accusations, as has Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has asserted that homosexuality does not exist in Chechen society.



[Radio Free Europe]
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Agents of the Russian state have committed serious human rights abuses, including torture, since Russia occupied and seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a UN human rights report says.
The rights situation in Crimea "has significantly deteriorated under Russian occupation," the UN Human Rights Office says in the September 25 report, also citing disappearances, infringements of the Geneva Conventions, and violations of international law.
It says that "grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extra-judicial execution were documented." 
"There is an urgent need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and for providing the victims with redress," UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegal by dozens of countries, after Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by mass protests in Kyiv.
Many Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to the takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
The UN report says the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated when Moscow replaced Ukrainian laws with Russian laws in Crimea and imposed Russian citizenship on tens of thousands of residents.
The imposition of Russian citizenship had “a particularly harsh impact” on residents "who formally rejected citizenship; civil servants who had to renounced their Ukrainian citizenship or lose their jobs, and Crimean residents who did not meet the legal criteria" for Russian citizenship and "became foreigners," the UN report says. 
People without Russian citizenship who hold a residency permit in Crimea are now "deprived of important rights" and "do not enjoy equality before the law," it says. It said they "cannot own agricultural land, vote and be elected, register a religious community, apply to hold a public meeting, hold positions in the public administration, and reregister their private vehicle on the peninsula."
"Education in the Ukrainian language has almost disappeared from Crimea," the report says.
The report says hundreds of prisoners and pretrial detainees have been transferred to Russia, a practice it says is "strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law."
The report also says at least three detainees died after not receiving adequate medical care in custody.
In addition to seizing Crimea, Russia fomented separatism across much of Ukraine after Yanukovych's ouster and has supported separatists fighting against Kyiv's forces in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

July 20, 2017

US Fines Exxon Over Russian Sanctions Violations





(L-R) Tillerson (which at the times was head of Exxon, Sechin (Russian Petroleum, Putin (Trump's bro) 


The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said it was fining global oil company Exxon Mobil Corp $2 million for violating sanctions on Russia in May 2014. 

The heads of the company's U.S. subsidiaries signed eight documents between May 14 and May 23, 2014 with Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement on its website. 

Sechin (above in picture with Putin and Tillerson)  had been blacklisted by the United States just weeks earlier. 

The Treasury unit, which enforces sanctions, found ExxonMobil had not voluntarily self-disclosed the violations, "and that the violations constitute an egregious case.

Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil's chief executive at the time of the dealings, is now U.S. secretary of state. The State Department referred questions about the fine and Tillerson's knowledge of the dealings to Exxon Mobil.  

Exxon said it fully complied with sanctions guidelines in 2014 from former President Barack Obama's administration that ongoing oil and gas business activities with Rosneft were allowed, but not personal dealings with Sechin.  

The oil company cited a May 2014 Treasury Department spokesman's comments that BP Plc Chief Executive Bob Dudley – an American citizen - would be allowed to remain on Rosneft's board so long as he did not discuss personal business with Sechin. 

The Treasury Department "is trying to retroactively enforce a new interpretation of an executive order that is inconsistent with the explicit and unambiguous guidance from the White House and Treasury issued before the relevant conduct and still publicly available today," Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers said in a statement.   

On April 28, 2014, the Treasury announced it was sanctioning Sechin as part of a package of measures aimed at pressuring Russia over its intervention in Ukraine, and said he had shown "utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin," Russia's president. 

The sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens or those located in the United States from dealing with those on the blacklist. 

Reuters

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis


June 30, 2017

Russian Jury Finds Chechen Men Guilty of Killing Opposition Leader Nemtsov



Zaur Dadayev. File photo REUTERS
Image captionZaur Dadayev is a former a member of an elite Chechen military unit

A Russian jury has found five ethnic Chechen men guilty of murdering leading opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. 
Zaur Dadayev shot the former deputy prime minister, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, in February 2015 near the Kremlin.
Four others acted as accomplices. The group was allegedly promised $250,000 (£192,000) to kill Nemtsov. They all denied the charges.
Nemtsov's relatives fear that whoever ordered the murder will never be found.
Russian authorities are still looking for another Chechen said to be behind the killing, Ruslan Mukhudinov. He believed to have fled abroad.
But lawyers for Nemtsov's family have said the investigators have exaggerated Mr. Mukhudinov's role and "the masterminds are high-ranking people".

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov pictured in 2009 AFP
Image captionBoris Nemtsov was one of President Putin's fiercest critics

The jury in Moscow convicted the five men after more than eight months of hearings.
Zaur Dadayev is a former member of an elite military unit. He was under the command of pro-Moscow's Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's Chechen Republic in the North Caucasus.
The other four defendants are brothers Anzor Gubashev and Shadid Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov.
A sixth man, Beslan Shabanov, died after he was detained in Chechnya.
Nemtsov served as first deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, and later became a vocal critic of President Putin.
The 55-year-old was shot dead on 27 February 2015 on his way back from an interview with a liberal radio station, in which he had called on listeners to join a rally.
At the time, Nemtsov was working on a report examining Russia's alleged role in the conflict in Ukraine. 
President Putin called the murder "vile and cynical" and vowed to hold those responsible to account.
Russia has seen several killings of high-profile politicians and journalists in recent years.
But the country has a long history of prosecuting alleged hit-men and failing to follow the chain of command to discover who ordered the murder, correspondents say.

Murder that Shocked Russia - by BBC's Sarah Rainsford at Moscow's courtroom

After about 12 hours of debate, the jury returned with a clear verdict - they found all five men guilty of murdering Boris Nemtsov, and by a clear majority.
REUTERS

The five defendants in a glass cage in Moscow's courtImage copyright

Image captionThe five defendants in a glass cage in Moscow's co

In a glass cage, the men listened in silence - with the occasional smile - as the decision was read out. The wife of one of the defendants broke into tears.
This was the murder that shocked Russia, a prominent critic of President Putin shot in the back right besides the walls of the Kremlin.
Once a political hi-flier, Nemtsov had been sidelined under Vladimir Putin. But he remained a loud voice of protest in Russia.
Nemtsov's family are sure that's why he was killed. 
But this trial focused only on the contract killers, without asking who hired them and why.


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