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Russia & CIS

In Russia, Alexey Navalny gets what he thought he would / Russia - Mon, 18/01/2021 - 17:04
Alexey Navalny returned to Russia on January 17. He was detained upon arrival at the Sheremetyevo Airport. A court arrested Navalny for 30 days. All this was expected, as the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments earlier promised to detain Navalny for failing to appear at the meeting of the criminal executive committee as a probationer. The reaction from Western states followed immediately, which was also expected, even though, as one shall assume, Western officials knew that Alexey Navalny could be detained immediately upon his arrival in Russia from Germany. Amnesty International was the first to react to the news about Navalny's detention. Literally a few minutes after the announcement of Navalny's arrest, a large message was published on the official website of the organization condemning the move of the Russian authorities and calling Navalny a prisoner of conscience. The promptness of the publication and the size of the text indicate that it was prepared in advance.
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No more Open Skies / Russia - Fri, 15/01/2021 - 16:50
On January 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement announcing the start of domestic procedures to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Another arms control agreement may thus be terminated. USA withdraws from the treaty first In November of 2020, the United States officially pulled out from the Open Skies Treaty. Before the move, Washington had repeatedly accused Russia of non-compliance with the agreement. In particular, the Americans claimed that Russia restricted flights over the Kaliningrad enclave, as well as in the ten-kilometer corridor along the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.In 2014, a campaign was launched in the United States to restrict inspection flights of Russian aircraft. The Americans in particular said that the new Russian aircraft were outfitted with more advanced digital equipment that enabled them to obtain more information vs. the volume of information that American aircraft collected when flying over Russia.During Barack Obama's presidency, Russian inspectors were not allowed to conduct several flights over the territory of the United States. During the presidency of Donald Trump, the US shaped its course to exit the treaty, including other arms control agreements. The ball is on the side of the West Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Federation Council committee on international affairs, noted that the treaty could have been saved after USA's withdrawal from it if other parties to the treaty - primarily the members of the North Atlantic Alliance - had wanted to save it. According to him, they could have decided not to transfer information collected during their inspection flights over Russia to the Americans. As Kosachev noted on his Facebook page, it needed to be confirmed additionally, since Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty reads as follows:
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Putin takes medical precautions to meet leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow / Russia - Mon, 11/01/2021 - 20:03
Russian doctors were monitoring the health of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev before their meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin cautious to meet in Moscow Arkady Dubnov, political scientist and expert on CIS countries, said in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio station that a group of Russian doctors arrived in Yerevan to monitor the state of health of Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan. The latter had already been living in self-isolation, but no reasons for that were specified. Another team of Russian doctors arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, to monitor the state of health of the Azerbaijani president. This preparation "ensured a safe meeting between Putin and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which they could not refuse.It is worthy of note that Armenian President Armen Sargsyan was diagnosed with the coronavirus infection after he returned from London after a surgery that he had had in the British capital. Putin unwilling to get vaccinated As it appears, Russian president Putin, unlike many other world leaders, including his 81-year-old Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin, Queen Elizabeth II and her spouse (aged 94 and 99 years old respectively), US President-elect Joe Biden (78 years old), is unwilling to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.Earlier, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the president "was thinking about getting the vaccine shots," but added that Putin would make the decision on his own. He also said that the Kremlin had no intention to keep the news secret, although no information has been revealed so far about Putin's vaccination against COVID-19.
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Alexey Navalny's murky poisoning case: Still waters run deep / Russia - Thu, 24/12/2020 - 18:15
The US State Department blamed the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) of Russia for the attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the help of Novichok-class nerve agent. "The United States believes that officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) used a Novichok nerve agent to poison Mr. Navalny. There is no plausible explanation for Mr. Navalny's poisoning other than Russian government involvement and responsibility," a State Department spokesperson said. "Of course, President Putin and the Russian government would have us believe otherwise." Russia obviously highly likely behind Navalny poisoning "Russia has suggested numerous, often contradictory, conspiracy theories. Let's be clear -- these types of conspiracy theories are nothing more than a means to deflect attention from the serious questions before the Russian government, which it has yet to answer," the spokesperson said.The United States has "full confidence" in the findings of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which confirmed the earlier findings by German, French and Swedish laboratories proving that Navalny was exposed to the Novichok nerve agent.According to unconfirmed reports, the United States has prepared new sanctions against Russia in response to the Navalny case. However, in order to effect them, one needs to obtain approval from the entire American government and Donald Trump personally. It is worthy of note that Donald Trump has never blamed Russia specifically for poisoning Navalny. In addition, Trump cast doubts on Moscow's involvement in major cyberattacks on American government structures that took place a few days ago. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in September that the Russian administration could be behind Navalny's poisoning. The above-mentioned statement from the US State Department makes Moscow's involvement clear. Russian President Putin stated at his annual press conference on December 17 that Navalny's investigation into the group of people who supposedly poisoned him was nothing but an act of  "legalization of materials from American special services" with which Alexey Navalny is allegedly connected. Therefore, the Russian president said, Russian special services should "keep an eye on him." He also said that "if they really wanted to poison Navalny, they would have implemented the intention to the end, otherwise - who needs him?" Putin wondered. The operation to poison Alexey Navalny was supposedly conducted by the group of at least eight FSB agents, members of the secret department operating under the cover of the FSB Institute of Forensic Science (aka NII-2 FSB or military unit 34435), the joint investigation by The Insider, Bellingcat, CNN and Der Spiegel said. The publications conducted their investigation with the participation of Alexey Navalny himself and the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) that he chairs.According to the official version, the main goal of NII-2 is to conduct expert examinations: the institute participated in investigations into all major events that Russia saw in its recent history. These included:
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Russia could twist a few arms in the West with the help of Sputnik V vaccine / Russia - Wed, 23/12/2020 - 17:19
The cooperation between Russia's Gamaleya Center and AstraZeneca transnational company will change the perception of Russia in the world and will give an enormous potential to Moscow's "soft power." AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Center finalize deal On Monday, December 21, Russia's Gamaleya Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology and AstraZeneca company signed a memorandum of intent on the prevention of coronavirus. Russian President Vladimir Putin took direct part in the event. At a videoconference dedicated to the signing of the memorandum, Putin expressed confidence that "such an attitude towards partnership can serve as a good example of combining scientific forces, technologies, investments to protect the life, health and safety of millions of people on the planet."Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, runs commercial activities of the Gamaleya Center), on his part, noted that RDIF and AstraZeneca was going to launch a study into the development of joint, combined vaccines against the coronavirus infection in three countries. "We offered AstraZeneca to use one of the components of our vaccine to create another effective drug. AstraZeneca has accepted the offer from the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Gamaleya Center and will begin a clinical trial of its vaccine in combination with Sputnik serotype 26 adenovirus in the near future. The trial will be conducted in three countries, including the CIS and the Middle East," said Kirill Dmitriev, adding that the Russian company R-Pharm will be one of the sponsors of the study.
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Why can't Russia respond to Navalny poisoning accusations? / Russia - Tue, 15/12/2020 - 17:21
Western intelligence services fabricate different versions about the attempted assassination on Russian opposition activist and blogger Alexei Navalny, claiming that their versions are based on reliable data. Why doesn't Moscow have its own reliable version of Navalny poisoning? Tried to kill him for two years, but never killed him Western media outlets widely advertise Bellingcat's investigation into the "poisoning" of Alexei Navalny. The oppositionist himself published a photo of FSB officers who allegedly had been following him all over Russia since 2017 in order to eventually poison him. Based on open data or marketable "databases" about flights and phone calls, it was concluded that the above-mentioned FSB officers always flew with Navalny at all times and were on board the plane at the time, when he felt unwell. Allegedly, the officers have "either medical or chemical education and specialization." Furthermore, one of those men is believed to be associated with the institutes that allegedly work in the field of chemical weapons. "We see that doctors from the FSB, who obtained Novichok at a secret institute, using their cover service passports, traveled with me twice. Incidents of poisoning occurred in two places," Navalny concluded.
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Russia starts playing hydrogen games with Europe / Russia - Tue, 08/12/2020 - 16:18
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline can be used to supply hydrogen. For the time being, this is just a theory. However, Gazprom has recently announced an intention to set up a new company - Gazprom Hydrogen. The company will deal with the implementation of innovative hydrogen projects.Gazprom's idea is to build a plant in northern Germany to produce low-carbon hydrogen from Russian natural gas. The plant is to be built in the area of the outlets of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines. This is one of the options for cooperation between Russia and Germany in the field of hydrogen energy. So far, hydrogen cannot compete with traditional energy sources in terms of production costs. However, the above-mentioned project targets the future, which one can hardly refer to as remote future as it goes about 15-30 years. In July, the European Commission unveiled a strategy, according to which hydrogen fuel is to become part of EU's energy system by 2030. Over the next four years, the EU is to launch the construction of electrolysis plants that will enable the production of up to 1 million tons of renewable hydrogen. In the future, hydrogen is to be used in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize, for example, in heavy industry and transport. How EU plans can affect Russian companies At the same time, the EU recognizes the need to use natural gas until 2030, to say the least. There is not too much time left either - only ten years. Of course, the EU is not going to achieve significant technological progress during this time that will give it an opportunity to refuse from the use of natural gas for good. Yet, it will introduce additional taxes that will primarily affect suppliers from Russia. It goes about the so-called carbon tax, which is to be introduced in the European Union. This tax stipulates that suppliers of goods to the European market, which to burn a lot of fossil fuels in the process of their production, will have to pay about 30 euros per each ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. This tax may affect Russian companies in the first place, and they can suffer considerable financial losses when the new tax is implemented. Most of Russia's exports to European countries accounts for oil, gas and ferrous metallurgy products.
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Russian liberals share their expectations of Joe Biden / Russia - Thu, 19/11/2020 - 18:07
US-based Time magazine has recently published a curious article about the hopes that the Russian opposition pins on Joseph Biden. After Biden steps into the White House, a new era will begin, which will finally open the way for Russia to democracy, the article says. At least, this is how the opposition sees the future of Russia. When Biden takes office "When Biden enters the White House in January, Russia's embattled opposition figures want the U.S. President to more forcefully confront the Putin regime with more rigorous and widespread sanctions in order to help them rebuild democracy in Russia," the article says. Who are these "embattled opposition figure"? Of course, it goes about Alexey Navalny, although he does not comment. The article only says that he congratulated Biden on his victory. Well, the author of the article noted that the Democratic candidate, unlike Trump, condemned the "poisoning" of Navalny.Another "opposition leader", activist of the Russian democratic movement Vladimir Kara-Murza was obviously delighted to talk to Time. Having stated that "it is only Russians who can bring democracy to Russia," he immediately gets down to business:
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Putin considers recognising People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk / Russia - Thu, 19/11/2020 - 17:19
Russia may recognise the independence of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as of Transnistria, Putin's recent interview dedicated to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh suggests. The independence of the unrecognized is recognized in the "interests of the people" In an interview on the Karabakh conflict on Tuesday, November 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that "the fact of non-recognition of Karabakh, including by Armenia, has left a mark on the course of events, as well as on its perception."Putin draws parallel with 2008 Georgia conflict. "We have to be frank here: at one time, after criminal, without any doubt, actions of the former Georgian administration (I mean striking our peacekeepers in South Ossetia), Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We found as fair the expression of the will of the people living in Crimea, and the desire of the people living there to reunite with Russia. We reached out to people, we did it openly," Vladimir Putin said.
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New bill to make Putin untouchable for life / Russia - Tue, 17/11/2020 - 19:20
Russian MPs started discussing the bill "On guarantees to the President of the Russian Federation who has terminated his powers." The bill was submitted to the State Duma for consideration in early November. What the new bill is about The bill was authored by the head of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation and state construction, Andrei Klishas, and the head of the State Duma committee on state construction and legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov.The explanatory note to the bill notes that in accordance with the Constitution of Russia, the president can be removed from office and deprived of immunity only pursuant to charges of high treason or another serious crime. Such charges will have to be brought down on the president by the State Duma (the Parliament of Russia), and the State Duma and the Federation Council will have to make relevant decisions based on conclusions of both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.Both the decision of the State Duma to bring charges against the president and the decision of the Federation Council to deprive the former head of state of immunity must be adopted by two-thirds of the votes of the total number of senators and deputies of the lower house of the parliament. In addition, such decisions have to be initiated from at least one-third of MPs.According to the current legislation, the procedure for depriving the head of state of immunity can be initiated by the chairperson of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, who can send a relevant submission to the State Duma.The bill under discussion stipulates that the former head of state will not be brought to criminal or administrative responsibility, nor will he be detained, arrested, searched or interrogated. The difference with the current legislation lies in the fact that such restrictions currently apply only to acts committed during presidency, not afterwards. No warranties for Mikhail Gorbachev During the discussion of the bill, MPs discussed whether the guarantees of immunity in question may extend to former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev. As it follows from the answer of one of the authors of the bill, such guarantees are not provided.
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Putin buys Lukashenko's loyalty / Russia - Thu, 05/11/2020 - 17:35
Vladimir Putin buys Alexander Lukashenko's loyalty by supporting his idea of acquiring an oil field in the Russian Federation, expert Sergei Pikin believes. Putin buys Lukashenko's loyalty On Wednesday, BelTA news agency, citing the press service of President Alexander Lukashenko, reported that Vladimir Putin, in a telephone conversation with his Belarusian counterpart, supported his idea of acquiring an oil field in the Russian Federation by Belarus."The President of Belarus turned to his Russian counterpart with a request for a possible acquisition of an oil field in Russia. Vladimir Putin supported this idea," BelTA informs.Sergei Pikin, the chairman of the Energy Development Fund, told Pravda.Ru that this is a political step, in which Putin is "buying Lukashenko's loyalty."Oil and gas resources still remain Russia's prime trump card in the negotiations between Russia and Belarus on integration processes, because Belarus does not have such resources, Sergei Pikin said.As for natural gas, it goes about the price, and it is unlikely that anything can be changed here, because Beltransgaz is the property of Gazprom, not Belarus, he noted. Oil is everything for Belarus "Oil is important. Belarus refines most of its oil it gets from Russia and then sells it for export. Therefore, it is important for Minsk to receive oil at minimal costs in order to get the maximum margin in exporting and refining it. I don't think it will be super attractive projects that our giant companies can not develop themselves, but Belarus may have interest in the deposit that Russian companies show less interest in," Sergei Pikin said.The possibility of acquiring an oil field by Belarus will be work developed in cooperation with relevant departments, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.In early January, Belarus planned to reduce oil imports from Russia to 30-40% of its needs. Alexander Lukashenko put the question to Moscow bluntly: either Russia sells oil to Belarus at a discount or there will be no integration within the Union State.In 2019 alone, the duty-free price on oil that Belarus buys from Russia (24 million tons) saved the country about $1.67 billion. The country processed 18 million tons at its refineries and exported the rest of the oil, and Minsk derived profit from the duty (about $ 418 million) for itself.However, the ongoing tax maneuver in the oil industry in Russia nullifies duty-free trade, as the proceeds from the mineral extraction tax (MET) increase proportionally.Even if Belarus acquires a deposit in the Russian Federation, it will be forced to pay the MET, which will sharply reduce the margin. This once again proves the political nature of the statements of both leaders.
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Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize yet again / Russia - Thu, 24/09/2020 - 20:53
On September 24 it became known that Russian President Vladimir Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Writer and editor-in-chief of the President newspaper, Sergei Komkov, became the initiator of the nomination. According to him, if Putin does not receive the prize, the Nobel Peace Committee "will have to be closed." How the writer explained Putin's nomination Generally speaking, the President newspaper reported the nomination of the Russian President for the Nobel Peace Prize as early as on 9 September. It was then noted that Professor Sergei Komkov (he is not only a writer and editor-in-chief) had already nominated Vladimir Putin for the prize in 2013. It is worthy of note that Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and 2016.On September 24, the writer gathered a special conference, which was dedicated exclusively to his initiative. "We must understand: either they are servants of those dark forces who are ready to vote blindly and always for all kinds of evil forces, or they are still real descendants and real executors of the will of the great Nobel," Komkov said, adding that if Putin does not receive the prize, the Nobel Peace Committee "will have to be closed.
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Russia reduces imports of palm oil / Russia - Fri, 28/08/2020 - 19:33
In the first half of 2020, Russia has decreased imports of palm oil for the first time in six years. During the first half of 2019, Russia imported 506,000 tons of palm oil, and only 473,000 tons - during the same period of this year. The imports of palm oil in the Russian Federation have thus decreased by seven percent.Russia has ben continuously increasing palm oil imports since the late 1990s. This sector of imports has seen a tenfold increase over this period of time to a record-setting 1.06 million tonnes in late 2019. Palm oil enjoys great demand in the food industry: it is convenient for manufacturers to use it, and the cost of palm oil is lower in comparison with other vegetable and dairy fats.Making one croissant on a traditional recipe requires about 25 grams of butter, which costs about four times as much as its vegetable analogues. When ready, the croissants will look absolutely the same in comparison with those made with the use of vegetable oil substitutes, so it makes no sense for manufacturers to use expensive raw materials.During the last couple of years, Russia has been importing about one million tons of palm oil every year, primarily from Indonesia. Most of this volume - about 90 percent - is used in the food industry  by confectioners, bakers, and dairy products manufacturers.The decline in the imports of palm oil in the first half of 2020 may be due to the strengthening of state control over the quality of dairy products. In 2019, it was forbidden to display food products containing milk fat substitutes on the same shelves with products that do not contain such substitutes. The Russians consume only a small proportion of palm oil with milk substitutes - only 12-13 percent. Most often, palm oil is used in the confectionary industry. The decline in palm oil imports is not associated with the confectionery industry, it comes as a result of the introduction of new rules for the sale of products with milk fat substitutes, experts say. The temporary closure of cafes and restaurants could affect palm oil imports, as cafes and fast food outlets use a palm oil containing mixture for deep-fried cooking. Therefore, the demand in palm oil may go back to its common values already in 2020 due to a temporary decline in the purchasing capacity of Russian consumers amid the pandemic.
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Kremlin plays three wise monkeys speaking about Navalny's poisoning / Russia - Tue, 25/08/2020 - 20:12
The Kremlin currently sees no reason to initiate a criminal investigation into the alleged poisoning of Aleksei Navalny, and considers accusations against the Russian authorities nothing but "empty noise," said Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian president. "First, one needs to identify the substance and establish what caused this condition. There must be a reason for the investigation. For the time being, the patient is in a coma," said Peskov, adding that the investigation should be based on the fact of poisoning with a particular substance. Peskov noted that the version of Navalny's poisoning can only be viewed as one of the versions of what happened to the opposition politician. According to Putin's press secretary, there are "many other medical versions", including taking certain medications and body's response to certain conditions."All these versions were reviewed by Omsk doctors and specialists from Moscow in the very first hours after the incident," the Kremlin spokesman said, stressing that Russian doctors did not find signs of the poisoning in Navalny's body.Dmitry Peskov criticized the West for trying to present the version of Navalny's poisoning as the only version of what happened to him, and noted that the medical analytics on the issue among Russian and German doctors is the same, "but the conclusions are different."
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For Navalny, the sky is open / Russia - Tue, 25/08/2020 - 19:43
The story with the poisoning of Alexei Navalny is a strange bundle of facts that leave a very bad taste in the mouth, politician Nikolai Starikov believes. The German press published a statement from Jaka Bizilj (the founder of the Cinema for Peace Foundation), which he made on Bild Live on Sunday night. Bizilj, who organized Navalny's transportation from Omsk to Berlin for treatment, suggested that Alexei Navalny, the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, would survive the "possible poisonous attack." "From my point of view, the key question is whether he can maintain health and continue his activities," he said. "If he survives, as we all hope, he will not be able to participate in political struggle for at least a month or two," Bizilj added. The sky is open for Navalny and no one else Nikolai Starikov, political and public activist told Pravda.Ru that there is no reason to say that Navalny was poisoned. Russia doctors did not make such a diagnosis."Therefore, this is wishful thinking at the moment," said Nikolai Starikov.The politician found it difficult to answer the question of how the card with the "poisoning" of Navalny would be played."Now it is not clear what game we are playing here. The very fact that a Russian citizen was taken out of Russia in a matter of hours after the conversation between the President of Finland and the President of Russia, was greeted at the military airport, and then accompanied by external surveillance by the FSB, which, in my opinion, is his security guards rather than persecutors - all this all creates such a strange story that leaves a bad taste in the mouth," Nikolai Starikov noted.According to him, the man was flown out of Russia without any problems when there is no air communication between Russia and Germany due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Can Russia experience another default like it did in 1998? / Russia - Tue, 18/08/2020 - 02:32
One of the most severe economic crises broke out in Russia 22 years ago. Since then, a "tradition" has developed in the country - in order to mark another anniversary of the 1998 default, specialists try to analyse whether it is possible or impossible for another major financial crisis to break out in Russia. Let us recall that three days before the announcement of the default, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin "firmly and clearly" stated that there would be no devaluation of the Russian ruble. On August 17, the government and the Central Bank announced a technical default on the main types of government securities and sent the ruble exchange rate plummeting. The events of August 1998 became an extremely difficult test for both the Russian political system and the national economy, even though it was not the first crisis that Russia had seen in the 1990s. Russian economy in 1998 and 2020 In 2020, both the global and Russian economies have once again com across a crisis that no one really expected at the beginning of the year. More precisely, few people assumed that the coronavirus pandemic could be the cause of such a major global crisis. Of course, this year gives yet another reason to compare the current situation in the Russian economy with the one that took place 22 years ago.Experts from the Higher School of Economics looked into the matter and concluded the following: "A close default is not visible in sight." What about the foreseeable future? The experts stated that both in 1998 and in 2020, the economies of Russia and the world faced a crisis, which, inter alia, was caused with a decline in energy prices. "However, the current economic situation is significantly different from the one that we saw twenty-two years ago. The main difference is about the availability of significant reserves and a low level of the public debt," the study says.
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Kursk submarine disaster: 20 years of lies in the name of death / Russia - Wed, 12/08/2020 - 19:20
Russian nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk sank 20 years ago, on August 12, 2000, during exercises in the Barents Sea. All 118 people on board were killed. On August 12, 2000, the submarine carried out the conditional missile attack on the ships of the alleged enemy, and the connection with the nuclear cruiser was lost for good. The Kursk was found two days later resting at a depth of 108 meters, 80 miles from the main base of the Northern Fleet of Russia in Severomorsk. Several attempts were made to evacuate the Kursk crew members, but they all failed. On the night of August 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to return to Moscow from his vacation in Sochi, and announced that there was almost no hope left to save anyone on board. In 16 days, divers could recover 12 bodies. After the wreckage of the nuclear submarine was raised to the surface, the bodies of other 103 submariners were removed from the hull. Two submariners - Dmitry Kotkov and Ivan Nefedkov, as well as chief specialist of Dagdiesel, Mamed Hajiyev, remained at sea forever.According to the conclusions of the government commission, the Kursk submarine disaster occurred due to the explosion of a torpedo in the bow compartment of the submarine. According to the official version, the tragedy occurred as a result of the torpedo explosion in N4 torpedo tube, which triggered the explosion of other torpedoes in the first compartment of the sub. According to the investigation, the first explosion occurred as a result of the leakage of hydrogen mixture from microcracks on the torpedo body. The cracks appeared as a result of "abnormal processes." The escaped mixture, having exploded, destroyed torpedo tube N4 and the nearby N2. A second explosion, with a terrifying capacity of 5,000 tons of TNT, took place two minutes later and completely destroyed the bow section of the Kursk. The explosions did not kill all the submariners at once. Some of them died a few seconds after the explosion, but the death of at least 23 other people in the 9th compartment of the nuclear submarine occurred many hours later. The disaster took place in shallow waters, in a clearly marked area of ​​the Barents Sea with the presence of a large number of Russian ships. The submariners were sending out SOS signals - they were convinced that they would soon be heard rescued. President Putin is still criticized for refusing to interrupt his vacation immediately after the accident. His flat response to a question from Larry King, who asked Putin about what happened to the submarine still annoys many. "It sank," Putin answered King bluntly. On August 12, 2020, people came to the Serafimovskoye cemetery in St. Petersburg, where 32 Kursk submariners are buried, to pay tribute to the victims of the terrible disaster. A mourning service was held, people laid flowers to the graves. Churches in many cities of Russia held services in memory of the killed submariners. However, 20 years later, the cause of death of 118 submariners remains a mystery.The command of the Russian fleet officially announced an emergency and raised the alert only 12 hours after the explosions.The news was unveiled to the general public only two days later. The Russian leadership refused to accept offers of assistance from other countries for four days. At first it was said that radio communication with the crew was maintained, then it was officially confirmed that communication with the crew was carried out through the knocks.The Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Vladimir Kuroyedov, refused to accept foreign aid and communicated a fake version about the collision of the Kursk with a foreign submarine. On the evening of August 14, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who was in charge of the investigation into the causes of the accident, said that Russia did not need help from other countries.In fact, however, the Russian navy was unable to save the dying men. The team of Norwegian divers, who were called for help when it was too late, and who arrived at the scene on August 20, managed to open the hatch in the 9th compartment of the sunken cruiser a day later. It was already filled with water.On August 23, President Putin addressed the nation. He said that communication with the sub had been lost at 23:30 on August 12, while rescue works began four hours after the tragedy. Communication with the Kursk was lost at 11:28 a.m. on August 12, and rescue operations began 29 and a half hours later. The first attempt to dock with the 9th compartment hatch coaming platform was made only 43 and a half hours after the explosions.Putin claimed that the fleet had all the necessary life-saving means that were fully operational. That was a lie too. The Northern Fleet had only one obsolete rescue vessel "Mikhail Rudnitsky" and three rescue vehicles, all of which had broken down repeatedly during the rescue operations. None of the submersible vehicles could dock with the hatch of the 9th compartment.Putin stated that foreign aid was accepted as soon as it was offered. However, the decision to attract foreign rescuers was made by the President of Russia, only when it became clear to him that the situation was critical, and the rescue operation was absolutely disastrous.The Russian authorities had been unwilling to recognise the relatives of the perished submariners as victims. They were recognized as such only when they turned to Putin personally. The Kursk case had been classified immediately, and the relatives were never able to get acquainted with the materials of the case. The lawyer of the victims, Boris Kuznetsov, managed to declassify the case only through the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. In 2002 he appealed against the decision  not to open a criminal case. However, all Russian courts refused to relatives of the deceased submariners. The lawyer then appealed to the Strasbourg court on behalf of the father of the deceased Lieutenant-Commander Dmitry Kolesnikov.In 2010 the ECHR communicated the Kolesnikov vs. Russia complaint and tried to contact the applicant's lawyer. However, a far-fetched criminal case had been filed against lawyer Kuznetsov by that time for disclosing state secret. The lawyer was forced to leave Russia and seek political asylum in the United States. The ECHR approached the applicant himself - Roman Kolesnikov, a retired captain of the 1st rank (late Kursk submariner Dmitry Kolesnikov continued the family dynasty).However, the father of the deceased submariner withdrew his complaint about the Kursk case. "Nobody is fighting these lies, corruption, theft, although the president and the prime minister make very nice statements. Can I stand up and fight? They will point fingers at me and call me Don Quixote. Of course, everyone understands that it was a lie, that they did not take efforts to rescue the men, that everything in the Navy had long been sold and squandered."The materials of the investigation into the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine continue to remain classified. In accordance with Russian law, 30 years after the disaster, a commission may be established to decide on the possibility to lift the label of secrecy from the Kursk files.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia's top military administration shows all the aces of possible nuclear strike / Russia - Fri, 07/08/2020 - 18:56
The Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper published an article under the headline "On the Foundations of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence." The material, which was prepared by the General Staff of the Armed Forces, speaks about the conditions, under which Russia can use nuclear weapons against another state. The General Staff noted that the document appeared at a time when Russia was trying to deter the arms race unleashed by the United States. It is this fact that prompted Russia to take an unprecedented step to publish its vision of its role in the security system. USA's aggressive behavior Based on the document, the United States has launched another arms race as a result of several sequential steps made by its administration: pull-out from the ABM Treaty in 2002; pull-out from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles in 2019; pull-out from the Open Skies Treaty in 2020. According to top Russian military officials, the purpose of such actions taken by the US administration is to deploy missile systems near Russian borders and exclude arms control on its own territory.In addition, the United States intends to pull out from the START III Treaty. The USA may thus cast serious doubts on two other fundamental documents that contain a nuclear catastrophe in the world:
Categories: Russia & CIS

The arrest of Ivan Safronov

Russian Military Reform - Wed, 15/07/2020 - 19:03

I was recently a guest on Kevin Rothrock’s Naked Pravda podcast on, talking about the role of military journalism in Russia and the potential impact of the arrest and prosecution of Ivan Safronov. Here’s the description of the show from the website, where you can also hear the full interview.

On the morning of July 7, federal agents arrested Ivan Safronov, a longtime journalist who recently took a job as a communications adviser to Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. Safronov is being charged with treason and faces up to 20 years in prison. 

His lawyers have been granted limited access to the case file compiled by the Federal Security Service, which indicates that Safronov is suspected of selling secret information to Czech intelligence agents about Russian military cooperation with an unnamed African Middle Eastern country. The Czechs supposedly recruited him in 2012 and he allegedly sent them the data over the Internet five years later in 2017.

Outside the FSB’s headquarters in Lubyanka Square, during Safronov’s arraignment hearing on July 7, dozens of journalists picketed, each taking turns holding up signs in his defense, and police officers arrested them, one by one, for an unlawful assembly. 

Putin addresses nation, promises unprecedented social support / Russia - Tue, 23/06/2020 - 21:14
On Tuesday, June 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed to the nation to speak about Russia's efforts in the fight against coronavirus, the state of affairs in the Russian economy and prospects for the future. "These, of course, are difficult days, weeks, months - we all had a different sense of time. They brought too many changes in our lives: restrictions in our work and communication, anxieties and fears, and even the grief of loss. Thoughts on what will happen tomorrow, how to protect loved ones from misfortunes, how to support family and parents," the president said in the beginning of his speech, which was most likely pre-recorded and aired two hours later than was originally announced. "It is important that in our country there was no confusion, but on the contrary, many were united in their understanding of the crisis, the real threat," the president noted. Putin thanked the people of Russia "for mutual support and dignity," which Russia showed during the most dangerous stage of the epidemic - self-isolation. According to him, protective measures taken in Russia made it possible to delay the epidemic, its peak, for 1.5-2 months. It saved tens of thousands of lives.
Categories: Russia & CIS