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Posts tagged ‘Sovinoya Land of Russia’

Russia’s security agency detains 6 Crimean Tatar activists

October 11, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s domestic security agency said Wednesday it detained six people in Crimea accused of involvement in an extremist organization, a move described by one of the suspects’ lawyer as part of Moscow’s crackdown on the Crimean Tatars.

Emil Kurbedinov, a lawyer for one of the six detainees, said that police also rounded up nine other Crimean Tatars who protested the detentions in the Crimean town of Bakhchisarai. The Federal Security Service or FSB, the main KGB successor agency, said it has stopped the activities of a local cell of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamist group which Russia and several other ex-Soviet nations banned as a “terrorist” organization.

The FSB said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that it has opened a criminal probe against six people suspected of involvement in the group. Kurbedinov, a lawyer for Suleiman Asanov, whom the FSB accused of organizing the cell, described the charges as “absurd.” He said all six detainees were local Crimean Tatar activists who opposed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Russia has faced criticism for infringing on the ethnic group’s rights since the annexation. “It’s yet another attempt to intimidate people with ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ labels,” Kurbedinov said by phone from Bakhchisarai.

Kurbedinov said nine other Crimean Tatars who were protesting the detentions were taken into custody for holding an unsanctioned demonstration and were set to face court hearings Thursday. Zair Smedlyayev, who heads an association of Crimean Tatars, also said the move was part of a continuing crackdown on the Turkic ethnic group.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was visiting the Ukrainian capital, said Turkey was monitoring the situation of Crimean Tatars and thanked Ukraine for defending their rights.

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Russia’s dog-loving leader gets another puppy as gift

October 11, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Another summit, another dog. For the third time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been given a puppy as a gift. This one is a Central Asian Shepherd bestowed by the president of Turkmenistan on Wednesday.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov presented Putin with the puppy as a birthday gift. Putin, an avid dog lover, turned 65 over the weekend. Putin cuddled Verny, which is Russian for “loyal,” and kissed the pup on the head during a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Putin previously received a Bulgarian shepherd named Buffy from Bulgaria’s premier and an Akita named Yume from a Japanese official. The Russian leader also has been given horses and even a tiger. Turkmenistan is a former Soviet republic.

Saudi Arabia says to buy Russia S-400 defense systems, other arms

Moscow (AFP)

Oct 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia signed on Thursday preliminary agreements to buy S-400 air defense systems and receive “cutting edge technologies” from Russia during King Salman’s landmark visit to Moscow, the Saudi military industries firm said.

The agreement was announced as King Salman, who is on the first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch, and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin.

Under the agreements, Saudi Arabia is set to buy S-400 air defense systems, Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems and multiple rocket launchers.

These agreements are “expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military and military systems industry in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), the Sunni state’s military industries firm said.

“The memorandum of understanding includes the transfer of technology for the local production” of the Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, advanced multiple rocket launchers and automatic grenade launchers.

“In addition, the parties will cooperate in setting a plan to localize the manufacturing and sustainment of parts of the S-400 air defense system,” SAMI said.

The two countries also agreed on the production in Saudi Arabia of the Kalashnikov automatic rifle and its ammunition as well as educational and training programs for Saudi nationals.

“These agreements are expected to have tangible economic contributions and create hundreds of direct jobs,” the company said.

They “will also transfer cutting edge technologies that will act as a catalyst for localizing 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending.”

Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-owned arms exporter, had no immediate comment on the agreements.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Saudi_Arabia_says_to_buy_Russia_S-400_defence_systems_other_arms_999.html.

Protesters rally across Russia on Putin’s 65th birthday

October 08, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — In a challenge to President Vladimir Putin on his 65th birthday, protesters rallied across Russia on Saturday, heeding opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s call to pressure authorities into letting him enter the presidential race.

Police allowed demonstrators in Moscow to rally near the Kremlin in an apparent desire to avoid marring Putin’s birthday with a crackdown. A bigger rally in St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, was disbanded by police after protesters blocked traffic and attempted to break through police cordons.

The rallies came as Navalny himself is serving a 20-day jail term for calling for an earlier unsanctioned protest. In Moscow, several hundred protesters, most of them students, gathered on downtown Pushkinskaya Square, waving Russian flags and chanting “Russia will be free!” and “Let Navalny run!” Police warned them that the rally wasn’t sanctioned and urged them to disperse, but let the protest continue for hours without trying to break it up.

Mostly teenage protesters later walked down Moscow’s Tverskaya Street toward the Kremlin, shouting “Putin, go away!” and “Future without Putin!” Police lines blocked them from approaching Red Square and they turned back. Several hours later, some made a new attempt to march on the Kremlin, shouting “Putin thief!” and briefly attempted to block traffic.

“We battle for Russia to be free from Putinism. Because the power we have now is feudal, we have no freedom of speech, no freedom of choice,” said protester Stepan Fesov. The authorities’ decision to refrain from breaking up the Moscow protest contrasted with a more forceful response to previous Moscow rallies called by Navalny, when police detained more than 1,000 demonstrators.

Police also didn’t intervene at first with a bigger unsanctioned rally in St. Petersburg, where nearly 2,000 gathered at Marsovo Pole park and then marched across the city chanting “Russia without Putin!” and “Putin, retire!”

Shortly after, police broke up the demonstration, detaining nearly 40 after some tried to break through police lines. Police said those detained were released and will face fines for blocking traffic.

One detainee, Marina Bukina, said she was injured in the head when a police officer hit her with a club. After the St. Petersburg march was disbanded, several hundred protesters continued rallying for hours at the downtown Vosstaniya Square as police stood by without intervening.

“Putin has been in charge since I was born,” said Dmitry Samokhin, an 18-year-old protester in St. Petersburg. “The country is mired in stagnation and I want to see changes.” Navalny’s headquarters called protests in 80 cities. Most were not sanctioned by authorities, but police largely refrained from dispersing the rallies that drew from a few dozen to a few hundred people. The Siberian city of Yakutsk saw a tough police response, with a few dozen demonstrators reportedly detained.

Navalny has declared his intention to run for president in the March 2018 election, even though a criminal conviction that he calls politically motivated bars him from running. The 41-year-old anti-corruption crusader has organized waves of protests this year, raising the pressure on the Kremlin.

Putin hasn’t yet announced whether he would seek re-election, but he’s widely expected to run. With his current approval ratings topping 80 percent, he is set to easily win another six-year term in a race against torpid veterans of past election campaigns, like Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov.

Navalny argues that the high level of support for Putin comes from the lack of real political competition and urged supporters to help him get registered. “(Putin’s) 86 percent approval rating exists in a political vacuum,” he said. “It’s like asking a person who has been fed rutabaga his entire life how eatable they find it and the rating will be quite high. Listen, there are other things that are better than rutabaga.”

The sarcastic analogy demonstrated Navalny’s stinging style, which has helped him win broad support among the young. Navalny has worked to expand his reach with videos exposing official corruption and YouTube live broadcasts. His documentary about Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged ill-gotten wealth has been viewed nearly 25 million times since its release in March, helping galvanize protests.

Following Navalny’s call, tens of thousands took to the streets in dozens of cities and towns across Russia in March and June in the biggest show of defiance since the 2011-2012 anti-government protests.

Unlike those past rallies, which were driven by anti-corruption slogans, Navalny this time focused on rallying support for his own presidential bid — a reason some gave for the smaller protest in Moscow.

“Some people dislike Putin and the government, but that doesn’t mean they are willing to unequivocally back Navalny,” political analyst Valery Solovei said on Dozhd television.

Titova reported from St. Petersburg. Ahmad Katib in Moscow contributed to this report.

Greece backs extradition of Russian to US over bitcoin fraud

October 04, 2017

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A Greek court ruled Wednesday to extradite Russian cybercrime suspect Alexander Vinnik to the United States, where he is wanted in connection with a $4 billion bitcoin fraud case.

The three-member panel of judges backed the U.S. extradition request for the 37-year-old, who was arrested while on vacation in northern Greece on July 25. Soon after the decision, Vinnik’s lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of their client.

Russia is also seeking Vinnik’s extradition on separate fraud charges, but no date has yet been set for that hearing. While fighting his extradition to the U.S., Vinnik’s lawyers said he would not contest the Russian request.

“We have not seen the formal decision and we’ll wait for it to come out before making comment,” Vinnik’s lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos said. “We have taken immediate action and appealed the ruling and the case will be examined by the criminal division of the Supreme Court.”

U.S. authorities accuse Vinnik of running digital currency exchange BTC-e and of involvement in laundering money from criminal proceeds, charges he denies. Speaking during Wednesday’s hearing, Vinnik repeated that he had nothing to do with the digital platform he is accused of running to commit the bitcoin fraud. He said he was merely a technician and the platform was one of his clients.

“I have nothing to do with what I am accused of,” he told the judges. Vinnik said electronic equipment confiscated during his arrest was not related to his job, and that the laptop seized by police contained only cartoons for his children.

Elena Becatoros in Athens contributed.

Russia starts delivery of MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia

October 02, 2017

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russia on Monday started delivering six MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia, part of Moscow’s promised military hardware that could worsen tensions in the war-weary Balkans. Two of the warplanes were transported, disassembled, on a Russian cargo plane that landed at a military airport near Belgrade on Monday afternoon. All six are to arrive by Oct. 20, when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is expected in the Serbian capital.

Moscow is handing over the MiGs for free, but it’s estimated the overhaul of the secondhand aircraft will cost Serbia some 200 million euros ($235 million.) Russia has also promised the delivery of 30 battle tanks and 30 armored vehicles to Serbia, which was at war with its neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Monday that in addition to the jets, the country will boost its anti-aircraft defense. It has been negotiating the purchase of the Russian-made S-300 systems. “We will continue to protect our freedom and independence,” Vucic said.

Serbia has been on the path to join the European Union, but under political and propaganda pressure from Moscow it has steadily slid toward the Kremlin and its goal of keeping Balkan countries out of NATO and other Western bodies.

Serbia is a member of the Western military alliance’s Partnership for Peace program. A NATO official, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, said “the defense equipment which NATO’s partners procure is a sovereign choice for those countries. There are no restrictions imposed by NATO.”

Serbia’s archrival, NATO-member Croatia, is shopping for a new fighter to replace the nation’s aging MiG-21s. The two leading contenders for the planned contract reportedly include Israeli version of American Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Swedish Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen.

AP Writer Lorne Cook contributed from Brussels.

Court jails Russian opposition leader Navalny for 20 days

October 02, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court on Monday sent Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to jail for 20 days for calling for an unsanctioned protest, which would keep him away from a major rally this weekend.

Police detained Navalny on Friday, preventing him from traveling to a rally in a major Russian city that had given its official permission to hold the gathering. Charges brought against the Kremlin’s top rival relate to the upcoming rally in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and President Vladimir Putin’s hometown, which has not been sanctioned.

After he announced his presidential bid last year, Navalny, arguably Russia’s most popular opposition politician, inspired a grassroots campaign in Russian regions to support his nomination. “20 days in jail. Old man Putin got so scared of our rallies in the regions and decided to make himself a little present for himself for his birthday,” Navalny tweeted shortly after the ruling Monday evening.

The rally in St. Petersburg was scheduled for Saturday, which is also Putin’s birthday. Navalny’s campaign late Monday called for rallies to protest his arrest in other Russian cities this Saturday. A Russian law on public gatherings, which was hastily adopted following massive anti-government rallies in 2011-2012, carries 30 days in jail for repeated violations.

In another Moscow courthouse, a judge is expected to hand down a ruling later Monday in the case of Navalny’s campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, who faces similar charges. The Kremlin has dismissed Navalny, who has faced repeated jailings and criminal cases, as an urbanite out of touch with people living in Russia’s 11 time zones where Putin draws his support from.

Yet that began to change earlier this year when Navalny, a 41-year-old lawyer, opened campaign offices in 80 cities and towns. Most of those places had not seen a diverse political life for decades, and Navalny attracted thousands of supporters.

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