Results of constitutional vote in Russia approved by Central Election Commission.
RT.com 3 Jul, 2020 09:55
Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has passed a ruling approving the results of a nationwide vote on amendments to the country’s constitution. A total of 77.92 percent of voters supported the amendments and 21.27 percent voted “No,” the document said. Voter turnout was 67.97 percent.
Russia has no plans to take into account other countries’ “concerns” about constitutional amendments approved in the nationwide vote, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.
Moscow is aware of critical statements that some countries have made in relation to the approved amendments, TASS quoted him as saying. “However, we are not ready to take them into account,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
“Russia has definitely been and will remain committed to international law, to the letter and spirit of international law,” he added.
Last Edit: Jul 14, 2020 2:16:06 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk region ARRESTED by FSB in crime gang & assassinations probe (VIDEO)
RT.com 9 Jul, 2020 02:11
Federal Security Service agents have arrested Sergey Furgal, the governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Region, on suspicion of organizing the murders of multiple businessmen over a decade ago.
The politician is accused of running a criminal gang and ordering the assassination of “a number of entrepreneurs” between 2004 and 2005. Russia’s Investigative Committee shared a video of Furgal’s arrest in a Thursday morning raid, but few details about the investigation.
According to a source from TASS news agency, the case includes “at least two episodes of murder and one attempted murder” – the murders of Yevgeny Zori in 2004 and Oleg Bulatov in 2005, and the attempted assassination of businessman Alexander Smolsky.
Besides Governor Furgal, the authorities previously arrested four other alleged members of the same organized crime group, based in Russia’s Far East.
Furgal has been governor since September 2018, and is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party. In the last election, he beat incumbent Vyacheslav Shport, the candidate from Russia’s ruling political party, United Russia. Before becoming a politician, Furgal headed a company that traded timber, and then a scrap iron business.
In 2019, the authorities arrested another man that once held the same post as Furgal – former Khabarovsk Region Governor Viktor Ishaev. He is accused of embezzlement, stealing money from state oil company Rosneft. Ishaev was a member of United Russia, and following his stint as governor, was chosen by Putin to be his presidential plenipotentiary envoy in the Far East.
The leader of Furgal’s party, long-time politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, expressed bewilderment that it took 15 years for the authorities to arrest the governor, and refused to expel him from the party.
“The detention was not conducted in the most correct way. It was not necessary to handcuff him. The governor is not a criminal and will not run away. You could just offer to get into the car and drive on,” he said.
The political veteran also suggested that all of the party’s MPs may resign from the national parliament, the State Duma, in protest over the arrest.
According to media reports, Furgal will be fired by Russian President Vladimir Putin due to a loss of confidence.
Post by TsarSamuil on Oct 12, 2020 19:15:44 GMT -5
What really happened to Navalny?
RT Sep 18, 2020
Russia is furious at the way Navalny case is being treated by Germany and the global chemical weapons watchdog. After two requests for 'evidence' were ignored by Berlin, it was told to 'appeal to the OPCW' which in turn, redirected Moscow 'back to the Germans.'
Navalny ‘is working with CIA’: Kremlin makes explosive allegation after opposition figure blames Putin for alleged poisoning.
RT.com 1 Oct, 2020 10:44
Western intelligence agencies – in particular, agents from the American CIA – are working with Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman alleged on Thursday.
"Probably, it is not the patient [Navalny] who works for the Western special services, but that the Western intelligence services who work with him – this would be more correct [to say]," Dmitry Peskov explained. “I can even be specific: these days, specialists from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America are working with him.”
"This isn't the first time he's been given different instructions," the spokesman continued. "The instructions given to the patient are obvious. We have seen such patterns of behavior on more than one occasion."
The bombshell allegation comes just hours after Navalny claimed Putin was behind his alleged poisoning in August. He told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine that he had “no other explanation for what happened."
Peskov took umbrage at the activist's comments alleging Putin's involvement in the incident, dismissing them as "baseless" and "insulting." He told reporters "we believe that such accusations against the Russian president are absolutely unfounded and unacceptable."
German officials alleged, last month, that Navalny had been targeted with a nerve agent from the 'Novichok' family. "We want to investigate the case of the Berlin patient [Navalny] and establish the cause of what happened," Peskov explained, expressing doubt about the veracity of the German analysis. "For this, we need to get information from those who found traces of poisoning."
The Kremlin has previously complained that Berlin has been uncooperative in providing evidence that the Moscow protest leader had indeed been attacked with Novichok.
Peskov also commented on Navalny's intention to return to Russia, as expressed to Der Spiegel, observing that he saw no heroism in his declaration. "Any citizen of Russia can return to his homeland at any time," the spokesman outlined. "Treatment can take place in our country, in fact, almost all people avail of this. Lives are saved in our country, and the life of this patient was also saved in Russia." This refers to when Navalny had initially been hospitalized in Siberia
Alexei Navalny was in a coma from August 20 to September 7, after falling ill during a flight to Moscow from Tomsk. First, he was hospitalized in Omsk, after an emergency landing, before being transported to Berlin's Charité clinic days later. After making a speedy recovery (taking into account the alleged lethality of Novichok), the anti-corruption activist was discharged last week.
Only 11% of Russians fully believe opposition figure Navalny was poisoned, just 8% blame government for August incident – survey.
RT.com 2 Oct, 2020 19:34
A mere eight percent of Russians think the president or government bodies were behind the poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, according to a new study which revealed 22 percent of the country is unaware of the incident.
The poll, conducted by the Levada Center, also revealed that 29 percent of Russians don't believe Navalny was deliberately poisoned, with a further 26 percent having serious doubts. Only one in nine (11 percent) of those polled completely trust his story.
Among those who had heard about the poisoning (77 percent), just 18 percent said they were following the story very closely. Upon hearing the news, nine percent said it made them angry, 21 percent said they had empathy, and nearly half (45 percent) said they had no special feelings on the matter.
Of all the respondents who believe Navalny was deliberately targeted (25 percent), 30 percent blame Putin or the government, with 47 percent having no explanation. Other named suspects are Western special services (eight percent) and those he offended through his investigations (also eight percent).
The Levada poll also revealed that 50 percent of Russians disapprove of Navalny's activities - in politics, media and activism - with just 20 percent approving. 18 percent claim to have never heard of him. In recent years, Navalny has gained plaudits for his detailed investigative journalism and widespread anti-corruption work. As a politician, Navalny usually polls at between two and four percent in 'trust' rankings.
Named for its founder, the late Yury Levada, the Levada Center polling company has often been accused of liberal bias. In 2016, the pollsters were accused by authorities of “performing the functions of a foreign agent,” and the center has admitted to receiving Western funding in the past.
He isn't a nationalist, he is a narcissist, craving attention and picks whatever issue could propel him forward..he is perfect to be a US puppet
‘Imagine’: Ex-CIA director Brennan dreams of Navalny becoming president of Russia AND befriending Democrat challenger Joe Biden.
RT.com 9 Oct, 2020 21:19
Apparently ditching all tradecraft, former CIA chief and godfather of Russiagate John Brennan has “imagined” Joe Biden in the White House and Alexey Navalny in the Kremlin as part of a (partisan) birthday tribute to John Lennon.
“Imagine prospects for world peace, prosperity, and security if Joe Biden were president of the United States and Alexei Navalny the president of Russia,” Brennan tweeted on Friday, above the lyrics to the legendary song ‘Imagine,’ on the occasion of Lennon’s 80th birthday.
“We’ll soon be halfway there,” he added.
It is hardly surprising that Brennan is a Biden fan. President Barack Obama’s erstwhile homeland security adviser and CIA chief has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump from the beginning, both on Twitter and as a NBC/MSNBC pundit. Brennan went so far as to accuse Trump of “treason” for meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018.
He was also directly involved in the attempt to smear Trump with accusations of “collusion” with the Kremlin, the conspiracy theory that enabled the FBI to spy on the president’s campaign and the DOJ to appoint a special counsel to investigate the hoax. The foremost US expert on Russia, the late Professor Stephen Cohen, dubbed Brennan the “godfather of Russiagate.”
The truly baffling thing about Brennan’s tweet is his apparent endorsement of Navalny as Putin’s replacement in the Kremlin. While rank-and-file Democrats eagerly seconded his wishful thinking, people with an actual clue about Russia were quick to question Brennan’s knowledge and expertise.
Brennan’s tweet was “further proof the ‘intelligence community’ is neither intelligent nor communal,” tweeted American journalist Max Blumenthal.
Far from being “another Yeltsin who’d let the US freely exploit Russia,” Navalny is a “nationalist” who opposes Western policies such as “returning” Crimea to Ukraine, Blumenthal pointed out.
Mark Ames, a US repporter who spent more than a decade in Russia, also brought up nationalism, noting that Navalny used to co-organize skinhead marches in Moscow.
RT editor Bryan MacDonald argued it was “actually insane” that Brennan would tweet something like this.
Not only does it suggest the US spies have “no actual expertise” on the ground and get all their information from US/UK mainstream media, MacDonald said, but it compromises Navalny in Russia itself by making him look like a CIA stooge.
That impression was shared by former UN weapons inspector and retired US Marine Scott Ritter, who simply tweeted“Thanks for confirming that Navalny was, is, and always will be a CIA asset.”
Time and again, mainstream media in the West has presented Navalny as the “Russian opposition leader” and even more so in the aftermath of his alleged poisoning by a “Novichok-related substance” in August.
As far as presidential elections go, in actual reality, the anti-corruption blogger is polling between one and three percent in Russia, meaning that the Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen has similar odds of becoming the next US president.
Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW A.V.Shulgin at the 95th Session of the OPCW Executive Council on the situation with A.Navalny
The Russian delegation would like to convey to the members of the Executive Council and all other States Parties to the CWC our position on the situation with Alexey Navalny.
We are gravely concerned with the way the incident which happened with Russian citizen Alexei Navalny in the territory of the Russian Federation and led to his hospitalization is interpreted and presented in some States Parties to the CWC.
A number of capitals, above all Berlin, attempt to show it as if Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a toxic agent that can be classified as a newest top-class chemical weapon. However, it does not even cross their minds that they are painting a grotesque picture that can only be treated as fiction. Rather, it is nonsense in its absolute form shaped as assumptions and questionable versions.
Politicians, all kinds of propagandists, and biased mass media engaged in this anti-Russian campaign hint at and sometimes even directly accuse Russian authorities of poisoning Alexei Navalny in a bizzare manner with a toxic chemical of the group known in the West as Novichok. At the same time, they forget to mention that it was in Russia where every effort was made to save this citizen’s life: pilots of the aircraft he was in when he felt sick made an emergency landing in Omsk; for two days, he received the necessary emergency medical treatment from Russian doctors; lastly, Russian authorities quickly responded to his relatives' requests and did everything possible to transfer Alexei Navalny to the German Charité hospital as soon as his condition was more or less stable. This would be an odd behavior, to put it lightly, for people whom those who take advantage of this story regard as poisoners.
This version of events essentially implies that Russian authorities only transferred Alexei Navalny to Germany to allow Bundeswehr chemists to detect traces of the infamous Novichok in his samples. How they managed to do so is a separate question, because as far as we recall, Germany has always maintained that it had never produced Novichok agents, but somehow it almost immediately found out the exact substance the Berlin patient had been poisoned with, and without mentioning the specific chemicals announced it to the whole world.
The German side is trying to prove that those «scheming Russians» first tried to kill their citizen with a virulent poison, and then for whatever reason saved his life and sent him to Germany to complete his treatment just to let heroic German military chemists to become so famous.
This ridiculous story was immediately picked up in many other countries. Hype was raised about Russians allegedly using prohibited chemical weapons.
The official German position is surprising. Instead of entering into a dialogue with us, as long as it claims to have proof that Alexei Navalny has been poisoned, it starts loud large-scale propaganda with bold statements made at the highest level. At the same time, when Russian law enforcement authorities ask German partners for assistance, and repeat their legitimate requests time and again, the German side mysteriously goes silent and continues to push its agenda – you poisoned Navalny, but we will not share anything we've found with you and will not talk to you. This contradicts with the current legal framework and Russian-German interaction practice. The inquiry from the Russian Prosecutor General’s office has been sent on the basis of the European convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters of 1959. It does not contain the need for individual’s consent to provide information relating to him/her. There is no such ground for denial of legal assistance. In 2019-2020 Germany without let or hindrance handled 83 Russian requests for legal assistance that contained personal data inquiries. There were no denials from the German side.
In addition to that the German side enlists French and Swedish laboratories to back up their groundless accusations, and they, lo and behold, find traces of Novichok too, although both countries, as far as we understand, deny having experience in the production of Novichok agents, but at the same time immediately become experienced in identifying them in their laboratories. In such a situation, it is probably best to first acknowledge that they have actually produced Novichok agents before.
Finally, some sort of a detective story is starting to unfold concerning behind-the-scenes cooperation between the German side and the OPCW's Technical Secretariat. Information in this regard has been appearing from time to time on official websites of the German Government, but leadership of the Technical Secretariat was hiding its cooperation with Germany for almost a week, essentially misleading both us and all States Parties regarding what was really going on.
We would like to stress that Russia is fully implementing all its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention: it has eliminated all stocks of chemical weapons completely and ahead of time, destroyed respective technical equipment, is promoting the implementation of the verification regime at chemical facilities, and engaged in international cooperation towards non‑proliferation.
In spite of all the questionable demands we are receiving – including those that have been made today, in particular, in a joint statement read out by the representative of Germany on behalf of a group of countries – to conduct a national investigation, cooperate with the OPCW, etc., we stress that Russia does not owe anything to anybody: neither to Germany nor to other countries that categorically and groundlessly accuse Russia of poisoning Alexei Navalny. We do not need to explain ourselves to them and we are not going to.
On the contrary, it is Germany who needs to be the first to act and finally respond to four consecutive requests for legal assistance submitted by the Office of the Prosecutor General. It is obliged to provide us with all materials that proves, according to the German side, that a crime has been committed against the Russian citizen.
Finally, as the German partners have moved this issue to the Hague platform and decided to use OPCW capacities, they are obliged to cooperate with us in the framework of the Convention. We have sent them the corresponding request and are waiting for the substantive answer, not a formal snide response.
It is Sweden and France who must respond to our requests concerning the alleged evidence they have of the poisoning of the Russian citizen. By the way, we would like to remind you that, under national criminal legislation of many countries, withholding any evidence from law enforcement authorities that conduct a preliminary investigation is treated as complicity in the crime and a criminal offense.
The Technical Secretariat is also obliged to perform its functions and respond to a request by a State Party, for instance, Russia, asking for specific clarifications. In view of the situation regarding the alleged "poisoning" of Alexei Navalny proclaimed by several countries, on October 1, 2020, we provided our proposal to leadership of the OPCW Technical Secretariat to consider sending experts of the Secretariat to Russia to cooperate with Russian experts on the matter. We need such cooperation in order to define potential corpus delicti on the territory of the Russian Federation. We understand the reply from Director-General of the OPCW Technical Secretariat with the proposal to clarify under which provisions the assistance is required to be delivered. Taking into account the precedents already established by Great Britain and Germany we believe that the requested meeting can be conducted under Article VIII, paragraph 38(e) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
In conclusion, I would like to highlight that as far we have not seen any willingness to cooperate with us, everything comes down to “megaphone diplomacy”. Until we receive documents, materials, samples, physical evidence that – as alleged by those accusing us – prove that a toxic agent was found in Alexei Navalny's tests, until they sit down at the negotiating table with us for an engaged expert-level dialogue, we will treat everything that is going on in the context of this incident as a vociferous propaganda campaign of lies, or, simply, a low-grade provocation.
Its aim is clear – to attempt to discredit Russia for geopolitical reasons with a series of groundless accusations and thus create a far-fetched excuse to introduce a new «tranche» of sanctions against our country.
But talking to Russia with the language of ultimatums and threats is useless. If you want to cooperate with us – please do, but only on an equitable and mutually respectful basis.
‘Western brand’: more than 20 nations possess over 140 ‘Novichok’-type substances, Russian Foreign Ministry says.
RT.com 10 Oct, 2020 22:13
The notorious ‘Novichok’ nerve agent described as Russia’s lethal weapon has been first presented to the world by Americans and has since been replicated by 20 of their allies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The structure of a substance that has since been known to the world as ‘Novichok’ has been first unveiled by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology back in 1998 on the basis of the data provided by the Pentagon, the Russian Ministry said on Saturday, replying to yet another damning statement by the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Over the years, the formula was used by Americans and more than 20 other western nations to produce a cluster of as many as 140 variations of the toxin that can be attributed to the ‘Novichok’ group, the ministry said, adding that the whole lot of them are not covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“‘Novichok’ is a western brand,” the ministry’s statement said. “We do not have it.”
Moscow reminded that all the chemical weapons in its possession were destroyed back in 2017 under “rigorous international control” overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The statement came in response to a speech Maas delivered in the German parliament earlier this week. The German minister once again accused Russia of failing to provide clear answers on the case of Alexey Navalny, a Russian opposition figure supposedly poisoned by the notorious nerve agent and subsequently treated in a Berlin clinic. Maas also threatened Moscow with sanctions over the incident.
Russia, in turn, argued that it cannot launch a probe into the case without any evidence that the alleged poisoning did take place. The ministry reminded that neither Russian doctors, who saved Navalny's life in the first crucial hours, nor German doctors, who treated him further, found any traces of a nerve agent poisoning. Those were only allegedly found almost a week later by the German military, Moscow added.
Still, Berlin has not so far provided any material evidence substantiating the poisoning narrative to Russia.
Maas stated earlier that traces of ‘Novichok’ were found in Navalny’s blood in urine by a German military lab as well as by facilities in France and Sweden. Yet, none of these findings were ever shared with Moscow despite at least four formal cooperation requests the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office filed with the German authorities. Berlin is also reluctant to share any other information related to this case with Moscow as well, the ministry noted.
“The German side has something to explain despite its tenacious unwillingness to do so. Its earlier excuses are unacceptable. They are unconvincing,” the ministry said. “The only thing we want is to get legal, technical and organizational assistance within the bilateral German-Russian [framework] as well as with the OPCW frameworks to conduct a comprehensive and unbiased investigation of Navalny’s case.”
Yet, instead of cooperation, Russia faces “aggressive rhetoric” and a “propagandist attack” orchestrated from Germany, the ministry noted.
The alleged poisoning of a Russian blogger turned Kremlin critic has lately soured relations between Russia and Germany.
Navalny was in coma between August 20 and September 7 after falling ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was first hospitalized in the Russian city of Omsk, where the medics managed to stabilize him but did not find any traces of any particular poison in his body. Later, he was transferred to the Berlin's Charité clinic on family's request.
The German authorities then claimed he was targeted in a poisoning attack and demanded Moscow provide some “answers” to this case, threatening Moscow with a swift response in the form of sanctions. Germany’s western allies, including the UK, France and the US also rushed to link the incident to Russia while Navalny himself was quick to blame Kremlin for the ordeal, without providing any evidence.
Lately, the OPCW confirmed its specialists found some substances in Navalny’s blood and urine that have “structural characteristics” similar to those of the ‘Novichok’ group. Moscow now expects to receive some information on the case from the international chemical weapons watchdog.
Navalny is working with Western intelligence agencies & won’t come back to Russia, says nationalist LDPR leader Zhirinovsky.
RT.com 14 Oct, 2020 12:23
Despite his insistence to the contrary, Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny will never return to his homeland – he knows he faces the prospect of jail for colluding with foreign intelligence, or for libel, says Zhirinovsky.
On Tuesday, the political veteran and infamous rabble rouser told the radio station Echo of Moscow that Navalny should be behind bars. The anti-corruption activist is currently in Germany, recovering from an alleged poisoning, but has said that, when he is back to full health, he plans to travel to Russia.
According to the perennial presidential candidate, a criminal case should be opened against the anti-corruption activist for libeling “a huge number” of Russians “over the past 10 years.” Zhirinovsky also believes Navalny is “connected with foreign intelligence services,” and that they are paying all his bills.
“He will never come here to Russia again, because he knows that nothing good will come to him,” Zhirinovsky said.
As an investigative journalist, Navalny has ruffled feathers within Moscow’s elite circles with his exposés of corruption, which have led to him making many enemies. In his role as a social media star, his videos about the upper echelon of Russian politics have gained tens of millions of views.
Navalny fell ill on August 20, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing in Omsk, he was taken to a local hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma. Two days later, he was flown to the Charité clinic in Berlin at the request of his family and associates. After testing, German toxicologists discovered he had been poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. But Zhirinovsky doesn’t believe that record of events.
“Alexey Navalny is a cowardly man,” the politician said. “I think it was a mistake to send him to Germany. Politically, we shouldn’t have given up our own citizen, but left him in Omsk and treated him there. If it was hopeless, he would have died in Omsk. If he was cured, there would be no problem.”
He also said that Russia should only investigate the poisoning if Navalny himself writes an official statement. “We need facts. He doesn’t have any facts. He just talks about it. This is slander,” he said.
Zhirinovsky heads up Russia’s leading nationalist party, the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDPR. As its leader since 1989, he has run for the post of Russian president on numerous occasions. He is renowned for his passionate, patriotic rhetoric and confrontational style. Over the years, he has been involved in many controversial incidents, including calling a fellow presidential candidate a “whore” during a televised debate. Despite often being portrayed as a clown, he is by far the most popular opposition figure in Russia, consistently polling four to five times higher than Navalny.
However, he has had the benefit of being inside the system, which grants him regular airtime on national TV – something denied to Navalny.
In the weeks since the Navalny incident, Russia has come under censure from abroad, with many countries discussing possible sanctions against the country. Last week, it was rumored that the European Union was preparing a list of penalties to be imposed on nine Russians. These high-ranking individuals will be banned from entering EU territory, and any assets they own in the EU will be frozen.
An extra dose of Novichok? Russian activist Navalny could have been poisoned on two separate occasions in Tomsk, claims US media.
RT.com 15 Oct, 2020 13:14
The latest US media update on the increasingly complicated case of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny suggests he could have been poisoned not once, but twice on the fateful August day when he first became ill over Siberia.
Following theories that he was poisoned via tea at an airport cafe or using a water bottle in his hotel room, there is now a suggestion that it could have been both.
According to the New York Times, citing its customary anonymous source - this time purportedly in the German security forces - experts in Berlin believe Navalny’s tea was likely spiked at Tomsk airport. He was captured in a café there in a photo widely shared on social media on the day of his hospitalization. In addition, traces of poison were supposedly found on a bottle in his Tomsk hotel room.
“This would suggest that Mr. Navalny had come in contact with the poison before arriving at the airport, or perhaps that he was poisoned twice,” the Times states.
Contrary to the Western consensus that Navalny was poisoned with the knowledge of Russian officials, the Kremlin has repeatedly rubbished any suggestions of its involvement. On October 10, the Russian Foreign Ministry once again noted that Germany and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had failed to provide the Kremlin with official proof of the poison being Novichok, claiming Berlin had ignored four official requests.
Navalny is working with Western intelligence agencies & won’t come back to Russia, says nationalist LDPR leader ZhirinovskyREAD MORE: Navalny is working with Western intelligence agencies & won’t come back to Russia, says nationalist LDPR leader Zhirinovsky On Thursday, in response to allegations of Navalny’s poisoning, the European Union sanctioned six Russian officials thought to be involved in the “assassination attempt.” Those on the list are now banned from entering the EU and have had their assets frozen in the bloc. In the unlikely event they had any.
Not citing any concrete evidence, the bloc’s official document stated that it is “reasonable to conclude” that the six named Russians had knowledge of the alleged attack.
Navalny fell ill on August 20, on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing in Omsk, another Siberian city, he was admitted to a local hospital. Two days later, while in an induced coma, the opposition figure was flown to the Charité clinic in Berlin at his family and associates’ request.
According to German doctors, the results of clinical studies indicate he was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. This claim has been denied by Russian doctors, who say they found no trace of poison in his body. On September 23, he was discharged from the hospital and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in Germany.
Russia: Putin talks Navalny case at Valdai Discussion Club.
Ruptly Oct 23, 2020
Putin said that he asked the Prosecutor General's office to allow Russian Opposition leader Alexey Navalny to leave Russia for treatment after his alleged poisoning, despite travel restrictions imposed on him due to criminal cases.
Moscow claims Navalny poisoning clearly an “amateurishly staged stunt” after EU governments ignore requests for evidence.
RT.com 7 Nov, 2020 11:07
The alleged poisoning of Russian activist Alexey Navalny is a plot designed to justify sanctions against Russia, the country’s foreign ministry has claimed, the most emphatic denial so far of any official Russian involvement.
The statement from the Russian diplomats said that “any uninvolved observer, even one far removed from chemistry and… chemical weapons, logically starts to have a feeling that everything that is happening is an amateurishly staged stunt.” The official communiqué added that the row had been confected as “a sanction shot” because “Russia… sticks to its guns of not accepting certain rules imposed on it at the expense of national sovereignty, international law and common sense in general.”
Moscow’s comments come amid a diplomatic spat over the evidence of Navalny’s poisoning, and the assertion of a number of European countries that Russia was behind it. Spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, Andrei Ivanov, told reporters on Friday that Moscow had sent its fifth request for further information on the incident to Germany, after previous missives had been ignored.
Ivanov said that “not a single question posed by the Russian side earlier has received a detailed explanation.” He went on to question Germany’s version of events, in which Navalny was poisoned before he embarked on a Moscow-bound flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk. “No poisoning agents have been found as a result of expert tests held on Russian territory”, he claimed.
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs also weighed in on the row, appearing to blame those who accompanied Navalny in Tomsk for conspiring to create the impression that Navalny had been poisoned. The agency said that it had been “determined during the inquiry that, after receiving the reports of Navalny’s deterioration of health, the group of people accompanying him in Tomsk (Vladlen Los, Maria Pevchikh and Georgy Alburov) removed [potential evidence] from Navalny’s hotel suite in an organized manner.” Drawing its verdict on the case, it added that “their actions demonstrate a well-planned provocation.”
Navalny made headlines in August after viral footage emerged of him appearing to be taken ill on a domestic flight. After a period of delay, he was transferred to Berlin’s Charité hospital, where doctors and international laboratories claimed that he had been poisoned with a nerve agent of the ‘Novichok’ class. Navalny has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the poisoning.
These potent nerve agents were also alleged to have been used in the poisoning of former KGB officer Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, in 2018. Russia has formally denied being behind either incident.
In October, in response to the allegations around Navalny’s poisoning, the EU agreed a package of sanctions aimed at senior Kremlin officials, including Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Last Edit: Nov 10, 2020 7:16:20 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Post by TsarSamuil on Oct 29, 2020 14:33:20 GMT -5
Keep your cash in the country: New law means Russia’s most important officials will be banned from having foreign bank accounts.
RT.com 28 Oct, 2020 18:13
Members of Russia's Security Council will be forbidden from keeping their money and valuables in banks outside of Russia, after the country's parliament passed a law restricting financial freedoms for the most powerful officials.
The bill, which passed through parliament on Tuesday, will bring the law in line with the new constitutional reforms. In July, Russian voters approved a wide-ranging package of amendments to the constitution, including a restriction on high-level officials having foreign citizenship or residency.
Once signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, members of the Security Council will be prohibited from storing cash and valuables outside the country’s borders. The Security Council is chaired by the president and comprises 12 other permanent officials, plus many more non-permanent members. Included in the permanent representation are the prime minister and the ministers for defense, foreign affairs, and internal affairs, as well the director of the Federal Security Service.
The new bill also establishes rules for the country's Commissioner for Human Rights, who must now permanently reside in Russia and not have foreign accounts. According to the speaker of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, it is “extremely important” that the human rights ombudsman be “independent.”
Throughout Putin's presidency, he has focused on restricting the country's most powerful from moving their assets abroad, adter the chaos of the 1990s. In 2016, parliament passed a law banning its members and other government officials from owning “foreign financial instruments,” such as securities.
Aside from restrictions on members of the Security Council, the parliament also passed a law tightening up rules for workers in the military sector, as well as Russia's two main intelligence agencies, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Once signed by Putin, employees will no longer be allowed to have a foreign residence permit, unless necessary for operations.
Putin preparing for power transition? Proposed law could grant former presidents immunity, even for actions before taking office.
RT.com 5 Nov, 2020 11:05
A bill submitted to the Russian parliament on Thursday would make all former presidents immune to prosecution, protecting Vladimir Putin from being taken to court for criminal or administrative offenses after leaving the Kremlin.
According to the proposal, any former Russian head of state, as well as their family members, would not only be immune from prosecution, but they could not legally be arrested, imprisoned, searched, or interrogated. The law would also protect Dmitry Medvedev, the only other ex-president still alive.
If passed, the bill would stretch current presidential immunity back to before the person took office, meaning Putin could not be held responsible for anything before his first term in 2000. The protection would also apply to the time he served as prime minister, between 2008 and 2012.
Under the current legislation, the ex-head of state cannot be held accountable for acts committed during their presidential term, but offenses committed outside of this timeframe are still prosecutable.
For some, the bill will be interpreted as a clear sign that Putin is preparing the ground to leave the post of president sooner rather than later, despite a recent constitutional amendment allowing him to potentially stay in power until 2036, should he win re-election.
The new law still leaves open the possibility of prosecution for more serious crimes, such as treason. For this to happen, charges would have to be confirmed by the country's Supreme and Constitutional Courts, before being passed through the State Duma. The upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, would then vote on lifting the president's immunity.
Last month, a bill submitted to Russia's parliament included the provision to allow ex-presidents to become senators for life following their term of office. This suggestion also sparked speculation that Putin is looking to leave his role as head of state but wants to remain involved in the country's politics. A similar system exists in Italy, where all former presidents are given the title of senator for life.
Post by TsarSamuil on Nov 17, 2020 20:00:18 GMT -5
Russian parliament approves plan making Putin & Medvedev ‘senators for life’ as possible 2024 Kremlin departure date approaches.
RT.com 17 Nov, 2020 18:32
Russia’s State Duma has ratified a Bill that may give Russian President Vladimir Putin a permanent post in the powerful Federation Council for life. Putin has previously indicated he may stand down at the end of his current term.
The new legislation, which passed its first reading on Tuesday, states that “a President of the Russian Federation, after terminating his powers due to the expiration of his term of office, or his resignation” would automatically be granted a seat on the body, which also includes two representatives from each political division of the country. The president will also be able to appoint up to 30 senators, some for six-year terms, and others for life, to the council.
Membership of the Federation Council guarantees politicians immunity from prosecution. A second Bill has also been introduced that would strengthen the immunity of former presidents, regardless of whether they still play a role in politics and even covering their activities prior to taking office.
The rules would also apply to the only other former Russian President still alive, Dmitry Medvedev.
Similar moves have previously been interpreted in Russia and abroad as possible preparations for a power transition, with Putin having implied that he could step down from the top job in as little as three years.
In July, however, Russian voters backed proposals put forward in a national referendum that would enable the president to serve another successive six-year term if re-elected in 2024. While the State Duma had approved these measures, Putin insisted that they be put to the public, who supported the package of changes with a 78 percent majority. Other measures include the introduction of a minimum pension and a formal ban on same-sex marriage.
Earlier this month, UK and US news outlets including the New York Post and the Mail Online were whipped into a frenzy by claims from a notorious conspiracy that Putin had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and was preparing to quit the Kremlin. Valery Solovey, the one-time political scientist behind the supposed revelations, had made similar claims in 2016 and 2017, as well as boasting he was a member of a shadowy, all-powerful secret organization.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov firmly rejected the claims at the time, telling journalists that “Putin is not going to resign – he is in excellent health.”
Navalny uses meeting between EU officials & pro-West Russian opposition to call for sanctions on Kremlin-linked ‘oligarchs’
RT.com 28 Nov, 2020 18:12
they instantly delete comments, keep only pro-Navalny comments, my comment was literally up for less than 20 seconds
Alexey Navalny has called on the EU to impose sanctions on Russian “oligarchs,” rich businessmen he says are connected to the Kremlin. The opposition figure wants them to be prevented from keeping assets inside the 27-member bloc.
Navalny explicitly named Uzbek-Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov and Israeli-Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Both men laid the foundations for their immense wealth during the Boris Yeltsin-era, when Western governments were encouraging privatization in Russia, and the country's integration into the global capitalist system. Finnish-Russian magnate Boris Rotenberg, who came to prominence after President Vladimir Putin replaced Yeltsin, was also mentioned.
The anti-corruption campaigner was speaking to members of the EU's Committee of Foreign Affairs during an “exchange of views with representatives of the Russian political opposition.” Despite the title, no members of Russia's largest opposition parties – the nationalist LDPR, communist KPRF or leftist Fair Russia – were present at the virtual discussion. Instead only pro-Western figures, with almost uniformly similar liberal views, were involved in the event.
They included Vladimir Kara Murza, a lobbyist at the US-government funded Free Russia Foundation, set up to “inform” American policy makers on the country; Vladimir Milov, a former deputy minister of energy, now closely allied to Navalny; and Ilya Yashin, a municipal deputy of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow. Yashin is the only one of the four who actually holds an elected position.
Despite Navalny's claims, the Kremlin has repeatedly asserted that there are no longer “oligarchs” in Russia, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling them “representatives of big business.” The president himself has also repeated this line, noting that no “large companies get preferential treatment from being close to the authorities” in modern Russia.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin has repeatedly asked for rich Russians to bring home money previously moved abroad, and has set up favorable tax rules to attract such capital.
According to Navalny, the current EU measures are not sufficient, since the people on the present sanctions list do not have property or accounts abroad. In his opinion, Eurocrats should aim to punish those who have moved their cash to foreign countries, such as Chelsea Football Club owner Abramovich.
“The main question we should ask ourselves is why these people are poisoning, killing, and fabricating elections,” the anti-corruption activist said. “And the answer is very very simple: money. So European Union should target the money and Russian oligarchs.”
In Navalny's opinion, nobody will take sanctions against Russia seriously if “oligarchs” can keep their yachts in European ports, naming Monaco and Barcelona as favored locations.
“Just tell Mr. Usmanov, Mr. Abramovich, Mr. Rotenberg, etc.: ‘Guys, you are acting against the Russian people, you are acting against Europe, you are all of the time advocating that Europe is something very bad, so please take your yachts and get them somewhere to the nice harbors of the (landlocked) Belarusian Republic,’” Navalny said.
Navalny called on the EU to welcome ordinary Russians with open arms, instructing them to focus on the most wealthy citizens. Earlier this year, the EU imposed sanctions on six senior officials they believe are responsible for August's alleged “assassination attempt” on the anti-corruption campaigner.
Those targeted were members of the presidential administration and FSB, who rarely go abroad and keep their assets inside the country.
On August 20, Navalny fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. After an emergency landing in Omsk, Navalny was taken to a local hospital where he was placed in an induced coma. Two days later, the opposition figure was flown to the Charite clinic in Berlin at the request of his family and associates.
After testing, German toxicologists determined that the activist had been poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. This claim has been denied by Russian doctors, who say that they did not find any trace of poison in his body. On September 23, Navalny was discharged from the hospital.
Emerging sanctions-driven EU alliance with Navalny reeks of Western neo-colonial moves which helped destroy Russia in 1990s.
RT.com 30 Nov, 2020 14:47
The West's favorite Russian opposition figure has called for the EU to sanction pro-Kremlin ‘oligarchs’. Alexey Navalny doesn't appear to be against all ‘oligarchs’ though, just those he feels are supportive of Vladimir Putin.
In a European Parliament hearing last week, the activist argued that the Russian people would welcome punishing the ‘kleptocracy’ that he says has thrived under Putin.
The anti-corruption campaigner was speaking to members of the EU's Committee of Foreign Affairs during an “exchange of views with representatives of the Russian political opposition.” Despite the title, no members of Russia's largest opposition parties – the nationalist LDPR, communist KPRF or leftist Fair Russia – were present at the virtual discussion. Instead only pro-Western figures, with almost uniformly similar liberal views, were involved in the event.
They included Vladimir Kara Murza Jr., a lobbyist at the US-government funded Free Russia Foundation, set up to “inform” American policy makers on the country; Vladimir Milov, a former deputy minister of energy, now closely allied to Navalny; and Ilya Yashin, a municipal deputy of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow. Yashin is the only one of the four who actually holds an elected position.
To be clear, the issue of how many Russian billionaires acquired and spent their wealth is one worth debating, yet this attempt to place Navalny on the side of the Russian people and Putin among a criminal class is simply absurd, given the history.
Putin and the oligarchs
The rise of the 1990s oligarchs is commonly referred to as a “criminal revolution” in Russia. The US-sponsored shock therapy in the post-Soviet period produced disaster privatization where the huge natural resources wealth of Russia ended up in the pockets of a handful of incredibly rich men.
The US was motivated to ensure the legacy of the Soviet Union was permanently dismantled. But the great irony is that extreme socio-economic disparity was the main reason for the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
The oligarchs seized control over the economy and incrementally asserted dominance over the media and the political system. Capital flight became an immense problem as the oligarchs transferred the wealth to their new residencies in the West rather than investing the money at home. Soon, this became a national security threat as the oligarchs were courted by the US and UK, which meant that Russia was heading toward a quasi-colonial status.
When Putin came to power, he announced that the primary task was to eliminate the oligarchic class. However, seizing all their assets and redistributing it was deemed too revolutionary, extreme and destabilizing. Instead, Putin argued the oligarchs would be held accountable for their crimes in the 1990s if they did not rescind their influence over politics.
Subsequently, oligarchs supporting the elected government were left alone, while the oligarchs seeking to become an alternative pole of political power were held accountable for their crimes in the 1990s. Russia’s richest oligarch with political aspirations, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was arrested in 2003 before he could sell a major share of his oil empire to ExxonMobil and Chevron-Texaco. Western powers dutifully provided eventual exile and protection for defiant oligarchs such as Berezovsky and Gusinsky who were valued for their anti-Kremlin stance.
The US and UK were outraged that “their” Russian oligarchs were pushed out of politics, while a large portion of the Russian people was upset that all oligarchs had not been held accountable, given Russia continues to have a great wealth disparity.
Poverty reduced by half during Putin’s first term alone and a large middle class emerged. Credited for bringing Russia up from its knees and escaping external control, Putin has ever since enjoyed approval ratings that other world leaders can only dream about. However, the West never acknowledged that Putin had prevented Russia’s collapse and instead began demonizing the Russian president as an enemy of the Russian people.
Supporting the Russian people?
The notion that Navalny and the EU will collectively support the Russian people is very flawed. In 1917, Germany brought Lenin into Russia to install a more favorable government that would pull the Russians out of the First World War. Germany’s top army commander reported to its Foreign Office that: “Lenin's entry into Russia was a success. He is working according to your wishes.”
Indeed, the effort to “liberate” another people from their political leadership has remained the modus operandi for almost every disastrous war in the post-Cold War era.
In Russia, the regime change endeavour is an even more absurd proposition as Putin is extremely popular, while the main opposition is the communists, led by Gennady Zyuganov, and behind them the radically nationalist LDPR, under Vladimir Zhirinovsky, another veteran. Navalny is polling at between one and three percent in Russia, while in the West he is hailed as the face of Russia’s opposition.
Former CIA Director John Brennan wrote in October 2020: “Imagine prospects for world peace, prosperity, & security if Joe Biden were President of the United States & Alexei Navalny the President of Russia. We’ll soon be halfway there.” The eagerness to present Navalny as an “opposition leader,” rather than an activist, suggests he is expected to play the same role as the oligarchs that were courted in the 1990s to advance Western interests.
Sanctions against Russian billionaires in Europe could be beneficial to Russia by reversing some of the capital flight and having their money invested back home. Indeed, the West should have worked with the Russian government to clean up the disastrous privatization process of the 1990s instead of courting proxies.
However, the collective interest of Navalny and the EU is to reinvent their role as supporting the Russian people, while recasting Putin as the protector of the oligarchs. However, the enduring economic sanctions against Russia have only cemented the view of the EU as a belligerent power. Navalny’s reliance on backing from hostile foreign powers, in the absence of significant domestic support, is not a winning strategy.
Furthermore, after it was revealed that the Magnitsky sanctions were based on fallacies and after the Russiagate conspiracy theory collapsed, it would be foolish to advance more sanctions under the preposterous narrative of Navalny’s poisoning.
The West does not have a Putin problem, but a Russia problem
The West tends to promote and anticipate the downfall of Putin with great optimism due to the expectation of a more “pro-Western” alternative akin to Yeltsin. However, the 1990s were a horrific period in Russian history. The much-neglected reality is that the main opposition parties, the communists and the nationalists, advocate much more hawkish policies toward the West than Putin.
Over twenty years ago, Yeltsin tasked Putin with reforming the state's foreign policy because the entire “pro-Western” platform collapsed when the West decided to create a new Europe without Russia, and cooperation between the West and Russia was recast in a teacher-student format. So what segment of Russian society is the EU reaching out to and does “pro-Western” imply capitulation?
Which demographic of Russians support the containment policies, NATO and EU expansionism toward Russian borders, and again being relegated to a plaything of the West?
Without an answer to these questions, the efforts by the EU to elevate new “opposition leaders” in Russia will be dismissed by most Russians as an effort to weaken Russia and return their nation to the Western vassal it was in the 1990s.
'They just want to paint our country in a black light' – Russia's permanent representative to OPCW.
RT Dec 1, 2020
Russia's delegation to the OPCW has urged Germany and other members to stop using the body for political purposes, as 56 of its 193 member states condemned the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. RT discusses the issue with Russia's permanent representative to the organization, Alexander Shulgin.
Opposition figure Navalny could face investigation for calling for ‘violent overthrow’ of Putin’s government.
RT.com 1 Dec, 2020 14:11
Authorities in Moscow could open a new file on opposition activist Alexey Navalny after he made a series of statements earlier this year that, they say, condone extremism against the Russian state.
The TASS news agency on Tuesday reported that a source within Russian law enforcement confirmed that investigators were assessing whether Navalny’s interview on the Echo Moscow radio station in April has broken laws around incitement to violence. Owned by Gazprom media, Echo is a liberal-leaning outlet edited by veteran journalist Alexey Venediktov.
During the show, Navalny outlined his “five steps for Russia” and criticized the government’s handling of food poverty during the coronavirus pandemic, which had just begun in Russia. If, he said, “they want to leave 60 million people to go hungry, that power should definitely be overthrown right away – quite possibly even violently.”
The source added that “in connection with these statements, on November 30, an investigation was begun for evidence of public calls for extremist activity, in line with part Two of article. 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.”
On Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee told journalists that the federal agency was not behind the inquiry, as was reported by some outlets. However, sources within the Moscow City's police told RT their division is assessing whether Navalny's comments were against the law. The status of the inquiry is yet to be made public.
Navalny has a track record of making provocative, even violent statements, having previously appeared in a pro-gun-ownership video (2007) in which he advocated the use of a pistol to “deal with” people implied to be terrorists from Russia’s majority-Muslim Caucasus regions. In the clip, he acted out shooting an armed woman wearing a hijab.
The activist has been in Germany since being hospitalized there in August, after what his supporters allege was a state-sponsored poisoning. The Kremlin strongly denies any involvement in his illness, and has questioned the opposition figure’s version of events. In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that he had personally “intervened” to enable Navalny to be transferred from an intensive care unit in the Siberian city of Omsk to Berlin’s Charite hospital.
The incident has led to a deterioration in relations between Moscow and politicians in Germany, who have since driven forward a package of sanctions and punitive measures against those they claim were responsible.
Ex-Russian presidential candidate Sobchak lashes out at ‘CIA officers’ running US state media RFE/RL after top journalist fired.
RT.com 8 Dec, 2020 09:31
Journalist, liberal society fixture, and former presidential candidate Kseniya Sobchak has launched a blistering attack on US state media operating in Russia, after it fired a journalist for “criticizing Alexey Navalny.”
“The real VGTRK [Russia’s state broadcasting company] is now in Prague,” said of Current Time TV’s parent company RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). “Of course, there is no longer any free press in America – at least for foreign markets. So, shame on Current Time.”
On December 3, Timur Olevsky was sacked after publicly discussing a conspiracy theory that Navalny’s now-deceased father-in-law had been a security services agent living in London. Olevsky apologized to the well-known opposition activist, but lost his job in any case, for digging into the family’s private life.
“Olevsky is a noble man,” Sobchak wrote on Telegram. “And those old ex-CIA officers who rule Current Time and Radio Liberty are not.”
Sobchak accused the US government-run outlet of “firing their most famous journalist for criticizing Navalny,” and thereby “throwing a bone to the dumbest propaganda.”
According to the former socialite, Olevsky did nothing wrong by “blurting out” stories about Navalny, likening the activist’s very private social life to that of President Vladimir Putin.
In her post, Sobchak lambasted the Prague-based US-government mouthpiece for being worse than VGTRK, the broadcaster of most of the country’s most popular TV channels. She also took aim at the editor-in-chief of RT, Margarita Simonyan.
Sobchak is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the former mayor of St. Petersburg and erstwhile ally of Putin. In the early 2000s, she was known as the host of reality show ‘Dom-2’. She quit the program in 2012, turning away from low-brow entertainment and towards serious journalism, and eventually hosted a show on liberal TV Rain and MTV Russia. In 2018, she ran in the country’s presidential election, coming fourth. Sobchak is now the host of a wildly successful YouTube show, which regularly garners a million views per episode.
Expected polling bounce for Navalny fails to materialize as trust rating drops; Putin also down, Communists & Nationalists up.
RT.com 10 Dec, 2020 14:40
A new poll has revealed that support for opposition parties in Russia is on the up. However, In bad news for the West’s favorite Kremlin critic, fewer and fewer voters say they trust anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny.
The latest regular Levada Center study of public opinion in the country found that around one in three people picked President Vladimir Putin as a politician they trusted, down two points from last year. At the same time, faith grew in both right-wing LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, taking him to 13 percent, and in his Communist counterpart Gennady Zyuganov, who was backed by five percent of those surveyed.
But despite rarely being out of the headlines in recent months after an alleged poisoning, only three Russians in a hundred picked Navalny as a politician they trust. Many had expected his ratings to rise after the incident took on an international dimension and broke open a new rift between Moscow and Berlin, where he was transferred in a coma after taking ill on a flight to the Siberian city of Omsk in August. Furthermore, the protest leader has received unprecedented coverage in Russian mainstream media since then.
Navalny has accused the Kremlin, and Putin himself, of being behind what he and a number of international organizations allege to have been an attempt on his life with the nerve agent Novichok.
Navalny has remained in Germany since being discharged from the Charite hospital in Berlin, and has continued to campaign against the Russian government from abroad. He was visited in hospital by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has since pushed for a new package of sanctions and punitive measures against Moscow as a result of the incident.
As part of the survey, 1,607 Russians were asked who they would vote for if the presidential elections were held tomorrow, and 39 percent said Putin. Zhirinovsky was chosen by 6 percent of respondents, and both Zyuganov and Navalny attracted support from 2 percent of those surveyed.
Named after its founder, the late Yury Levada, the Levada Center polling company has often been accused of liberal bias. In 2016, it was registered as a foreign agent after it admitted to receiving Western funding in the past.
Captain Underpants? Sunday Times claim Navalny was poisoned twice sees bottom fall out of Western narrative on opposition figure.
RT.com 14 Dec, 2020 09:42
Long known as the “house journal” of British spooks, it now appears the Sunday Times has given up any pretence of critical journalism and is unquestionably publishing what intelligence officials want to place in the public domain.
A prominent liberal Russian journalist once commented that Western writings on Russia were so bad that they were liable to turn even the biggest Putin hater into a supporter. For while there are many very legitimate criticisms that can be made of the country, Western reporting is so exaggerated that it discredits almost everything that comes out of its mouth – even when it’s actually correct.
One prime example is an article published this weekend in Britain’s most prestigious Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Times, on the subject of the poisoning of opposition activist Alexey Navalny.
Navalny was taken ill on a flight in Siberia on August 20, and medically evacuated to Germany two days later. The Russian authorities are sticking to the initial diagnosis of doctors in Omsk, who said that Navalny was suffering from a metabolic disorder. The Germans, however, claim that he was poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok. Since it is said that Novichok can only be produced in state-run facilities, the implication is that the Russian state was responsible for the poisoning.
The circumstances of Navalny’s illness are indeed suspicious. Furthermore, previous cases, such as the poisonings of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal in the UK, make it seem plausible that somebody in authority might have wanted to attack the Moscow protest leader in a similar way. That said, suspicions aren’t proof, and the German government has failed to provide any. The lack of transparency is immensely regrettable, and makes it possible for sceptics to argue that the Germans are lying.
This weekend’s article in the Sunday Times is probably meant to undermine the doubters. In reality, it’s likely to have the opposite result. For its claims are so outrageous that many thinking people will react with laughter, and then perhaps start questioning the poisoning story as a whole.
According to the Sunday Times, Navalny wasn’t poisoned by a nerve agent smeared on his water bottle, as has previously been asserted, but rather was attacked by means of his underpants. Moreover, he wasn’t poisoned once, but twice, and despite Novichok’s reputation for extreme deadliness, both attempts failed.
When examined, though, these claims don’t amount to much. The Sunday Times story is nearly 4,000 words long, but 95 percent of it is irrelevant filler, including the comical assertion that the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning” (because, of course, nobody other than Russians ever poisoned anyone). The allegations regarding the attack on Navalny take up a mere 100 words of the 4,000-word total. As well as being brief, they are to say the least unproven. The Sunday Times says:
“Vladimir Uglev, a retired Russian chemist who developed nerve agents, believes Navalny’s poisoners would have been instructed to place novichok on the elastic waistband of his pants, where it would come into contact with his skin. … A German laboratory later found traces of a nerve agent on the surface of one of the water bottles. Uglev, the retired chemist, believes that this is because Navalny touched it having got novichok on his fingers after putting on his underpants.”
In other words, the underpants story is just what a single Russian scientist, unconnected to the case, happens to think. Nothing more. Does Uglev provide any evidence to prove his assertion? No. He just “believes” it. Yet, this is sufficient for the Sunday Times to treat the story as essentially true, leading off its article with the claim that, “Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent – not, as initially believed, when he drank a cup of tea in the departure lounge but when he got dressed that morning.” This is not exactly good reporting.
If the underwear story smells a little off, so too does the claim that Russian secret agents tried to murder Navalny not once, but twice. As evidence, the Sunday Times says that, “German security sources have told their associates in the UK that the attackers struck again as Navalny lay in an induced coma before being put on a medical flight to Germany. ‘This was with a view to him being dead by the time he arrived in Berlin,’ one source said.”
To put it another way, an anonymous person (probably a member of the British intelligence or security services) told a journalist that some other anonymous person believes that this is so. In other words, it’s not just hearsay, but anonymous hearsay. One can believe it if one wishes. But there’s no particular reason why one should.
After all, it requires one to imagine that the Russian secret services are so incompetent that they should fail to murder somebody on their own soil, not just once but twice. And further, that they should fail while using what is meant to be one of the deadliest poisons known to man. Maybe that’s what happened. But nobody who is already sceptical about the claim that the Russian state poisoned Navalny with Novichok is going to accept it. Instead, it’s likely to reinforce their scepticism. Add in the underwear, and they’ll probably feel that the bottom has fallen out of the Germans’ story.
And that’s a problem. Western commentators regularly complain that, when faced with evidence of misbehaviour, the Russian state and its supporters respond by inventing conspiracy theories in order to sow doubt about what is real and what is not. But such a tactic can only succeed if people have already lost faith in their original sources of information. In other words, the fundamental problem is not the conspiracy theories themselves, but rather the loss of faith caused by the exaggerations and falsities of so much of what passes as reporting.
The poisoned underwear is a case in point. It stretches the elastic of the imagination so far as to be utterly incredible. In this way, this latest allegation plays right into Moscow’s hands. Alexey Navalny may well have been the victim of a vicious attack. But there will be many who, having stuffed their noses into the Sunday Times, will decide that it doesn’t pass the sniff test, and that the whole Navalny story is a giant load of pants.
Last Edit: Dec 14, 2020 17:30:27 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Post by TsarSamuil on Dec 14, 2020 18:23:48 GMT -5
Western media condemns Soros & US-government backed American NGO chief’s expulsion from Russia, but ignores lobby group’s funding.
RT.com 12 Dec, 2020 12:27
Western journalists, rights groups and governments are concerned about the head of a foreign NGO being asked to leave Russia. However, serious discussion of the organization’s background, and funding sources, is completely absent.
Last week, it was announced that Moscow had revoked the residency of Vanessa Kogan, a US national who heads the NGO Stichting Justice Initiative (SJI) in Russia. If her appeal against the decision isn’t successful, she’ll be forced to leave the country, where she has lived for over a decade, and has two children who are Russian nationals.
Authorities had been mounting pressure on the organization for some time — one of its branches was deemed a foreign agent in 2019, and the group’s offices in Dagestan, Moscow, and Ingushetia have been raided by officials in recent months.
Condemnation from Western media and rights groups was immediate, with the issue framed as just the latest example of an ongoing autocratic crackdown on rights activists in Russia. The censures were intriguing for what they both did and didn’t say.
Perhaps predictably, references to its almost entirely foreign-borne history, composition, finances — which includes support from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation (OSF) — and ties to dubious Washington-based regime change entities were entirely absent.
Curiouser and curiouser
Mainstream outlets such as the UK’s Guardian newspaper universally referred to Kogan and SJI as “prominent” and/or “well-known”, a somewhat peculiar characterizations given neither she nor the organization received virtually any media attention whatsoever in its nigh-on 20 years of operation, prior to her residency being revoked. Perhaps she and SJI are only familiar to the small community of Western journalists and activists in the Russian capital.
In any event, several genuinely high-profile organizations and figures, such as Peter Stano, European Commission lead spokesperson for external affairs, slammed Kogan’s expulsion on Twitter - SJI’s own account on the social network is largely dormant, having accrued just 231 followers in its four-and-half years on the platform.
Conversely, the numerous mainstream articles on the move made virtually no reference to the organization’s funding sources — The Guardian perhaps went furthest, at least hinting SJI receives financial support “from abroad”.
A joint statement signed by six NGOs was similarly opaque on the former question, merely noting SJI was “one of the most active in Russia in bringing cases” to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and had secured over 250 judgements in favor of complainants. Curiously, there was no mention of the intimate ties between SJI and two of the cosignatories, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, an oversight one might think unethical.
The sextet moreover alleged SJI “has always been open and transparent about its work”, a claim difficult to square with the paucity of information on its official website.
A section on the organization’s finances sparingly notes it “raises funds from institutional and government donors”. Financial statements are provided, but only from 2010 - 2017, and aren’t at all informative, merely noting SJI’s yearly income, and what it was spent on. Still, they indicate the vast bulk of its budget is goes on salaries, and grants have accounted for up to 99 percent of the organization’s yearly funding.
The organization’s annual reports are somewhat more illuminating, although they’re only available from 2006 - 2011, and the final instalment isn’t even publicly listed. They reveal SJI has at least previously been funded by a number of controversial Western ‘philanthropic’ organizations, including Soros’ aforementioned OSF.
This vehicle, which bankrolls civil society groups the world over to the tune of many millions, has been embroiled in countless controversies since its establishment in 1993.
Mounting suspicion of OSF internationally may at least partially explain why SJI has become ever-increasingly unwilling to divulge who and what is bankrolling it over time. Recent years have seen numerous governments investigate and curtail the foundation’s activities, if not outright ban it from operating on their soil - among them Russia, after Moscow ruled the organization represented a threat to national security in November 2015.
SJI’s fiscal opacity is assisted by being based in the Netherlands - as its name implies, it’s a ‘Stichting’, or foundation. While not registered as a charity, it’s characterised as being “without commercial enterprise”, so isn’t required to file accounts under Dutch law.
‘Stichtings’ are openly advertised as ideal ways for wealthy individuals and corporations to minimize tax liabilities and discretely distribute funds internationally.
Murky, incestuous web
The organization’s 2011 annual report reveals SJI was established in 2001 by a trio of Dutchmen, Diederik Lohman, the director of Human Rights Watch’s health division, Jan ter Laak, a theologian, and Egbert Wesselink, a senior advisor at PAX, a Netherlands-based NGO.
Further underlining SJI’s foreign nature, its governing board boasts only one Russian member, Alexandra Koulaeva. Previously an activist with Moscow-based civil rights group Memorial, she has since relocated to Paris to work for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
FIDH likewise receives OSF funding, along with financial support from the European Union, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and a variety of Western governments. Wesselink also sits on the board — PAX has the same correspondence address as SJI, a post office box in Utrecht, and also gets OSF funding.
The rest of the board is comprised of Ole Solvang, of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Tanya Mazur, director of Amnesty International Ukraine, and Viviana Krstecevic, of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).
The Council is bankrolled by numerous European states, while CEJIL has a variety of international donors, among them OSF, and the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
When covert becomes overt
The connection between NED and SJI is supremely striking for more reasons than one. Firstly, NED was banned in Russia July 2015 on the same grounds as OSF — the move was widely lambasted at the time, but any consideration of the organization’s shadowy history and activities, and the role they played in motivating Moscow’s decision, was conspicuously missing.
NED was founded in November 1983 - then-Central Intelligence Agency Director William Casey and senior CIA covert operations specialist Walter Raymond Jr. were instrumental in its creation.
They sought to construct a mechanism to support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda and political action the CIA had historically organized and paid for in secret. In 1991, senior NED official Allen Weinstein acknowledged “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”.
The specifics of CEJIL’s activities on behalf of NED, for which it has reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars over decades, may be relevant to assessing SJI’s own work.
In September 2003, the organization granted CEJIL US$83,000 to train citizens in launching legal action against Caracas via the Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a little-known yet extremely powerful Washington and Costa Rica-based legal nexus that claims jurisdiction over the entirety of the Americas, with the agreement of the Organization of American States.
The grant led to a dramatic increase in frivolous claims brought against the Venezuelan government by opposition activists, all of which circumvented the country’s legal system and undermined its sovereignty, granting power of judgment to a potentially sympathetic foreign body.
SJI board member Viviana Krsticevic’s official biography on CEJIL’s website notes she has litigated cases before both the Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights, strongly suggesting she was involved in these very NED-funded anti-Chavez efforts.
SJI says its purpose is to provide legal support to residents of the North Caucasus who seek justice for alleged human rights abuses through international bodies such as the ECHR.
When Chechnya declared independence from Russia in 1991, the region became a haven for criminals, kidnappers, and Islamist warlords, and over the course of two extremely brutal wars, December 1994 – August 1996, August 1999 - May 2000), enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and unfair trial became routine.
Such crimes continue intermittently to this day, and few would surely argue with the moral necessity of bringing those responsible to justice and securing redress for those affected.
Nonetheless, the risk of at least some cases being without foundation and/or politically motivated is significant, a prospect demonstrably magnified when there is a financial incentive for individuals to bring cases, and organizations specifically seek out individuals to represent in such legal actions.
For example, in February 2017 award winning British lawyer Phil Shiner, who’d played a leading role in bringing legal action against British troops for their maltreatment of Iraqis following the 2003 invasion, was struck off the solicitors’ register. It had been revealed he paid middlemen to seek out claimants, and made “unsolicited direct approaches” to potential clients.
Could SJI have helped facilitate potentially vexatious claims against Russia in the ECHR? Krsticevic’s position on the organization’s board suggests this is a possibility, and the organization’s 2010 annual report makes clear the organization specifically sought out young Russian lawyers and trained them to bring cases to the Court, and boasts of how financial rewards paid to out its claimants had almost doubled over the past decade, to an average of €60,000 - 70,000.
At the very least, the same document makes clear “forcing structural change in Russian law and policy” was a key objective of its founders from the beginning.
As such, SJI is just one example of how Western powers quietly and surreptitiously influence politics and policy in “enemy” states via NGOs, under the aegis of democracy and human rights promotion. While the aims of the foreign funded organizations in question may be benign, the goals of those bankrolling them are often far from benevolent, and all too frequently left unexamined.
Sick of hearing about this dramaQueen, throw his ass in jail for good
Russian opposition figure Navalny to face new criminal case over alleged use of ‘anti-corruption’ donations ‘for personal gain’
RT.com 29 Dec, 2020 20:32
The Investigative Committee of Russia announced on Tuesday that it has launched a fresh probe into the affairs of opposition activist Alexey Navalny, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge him with fraud.
According to prosecutors, Navalny spent around 356 million rubles ($4.8 million) of money raised for political and journalistic activities for “personal purposes” including “an acquisition of personal property, material assets and payment of expenses, including on trips abroad.”
It alleges the funds came out of more than 588 million rubles ($5.9 million) in money given to groups connected to the prominent activist, including the Anti-Corruption Fund and the Fund for Organization and Coordination for Protecting Citizens’ Rights. The Committee’s spokesperson describes this as evidence of “fraud on a particularly large scale.”
Navalny has previously been found guilty of financial misconduct and these convictions have hampered his attempts to stand for public office. In 2017, a Russian court refused to overturn a judicial decision in which he was found to have embezzled funds from a state-owned timber firm.
He had been allowed to run in the 2013 Moscow mayoral race while he appealed the verdict, attracting around 27 percent of the votes, compared to the 51 percent won by the eventual victor, Sergey Sobyanin.
Navalny has been in Germany since August, when he was transferred to Berlin’s Charite hospital from a Siberian clinic. He took ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, in what his associates allege to be a poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok.
Earlier this month, the US and UK state-funded investigative outlet Bellingcat claimed to have mobile phone data that placed state security agents within a few miles of Navalny the day before. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that previous similar allegations, published in London’s Sunday Times newspaper, were “bulls**t.”
Earlier this week, Russia’s Federal Prison Service informed Navalny that he must return to Russia to comply with the terms of his suspended prison sentence for a previous conviction. It argued that he is no longer receiving hospital care and, “therefore the convicted man is not fulfilling all the obligations placed on him by the court.” Earlier this month, the activist said he would return to his home country when he could.
At his annual end-of-year press conference in December, President Vladimir Putin told reporters that Navalny had links to “American special services” and that, if the Kremlin had indeed wanted the opposition figure dead, the security services would have “finished the job.”
Slavatar: You're online every day, but you post nothing. You don't even delete the spam crap. I'm confused, brother.
Oct 10, 2020 4:12:53 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: Browser is up, but I was doing other things..
Oct 12, 2020 18:58:52 GMT -5
Slavatar: OK.. Regards.
Oct 13, 2020 8:39:57 GMT -5
славянин: зиг хайль
Oct 22, 2020 15:41:37 GMT -5
славянин: дойчен зальдатен
Oct 22, 2020 15:41:56 GMT -5
Milo I.: Deutscher Sauerbraten?
Oct 28, 2020 9:59:34 GMT -5
White Cossack: Who's the best state leader currently?
Dec 6, 2020 8:57:53 GMT -5
TsarSamuil: Viktor Orban?
Dec 8, 2020 5:55:50 GMT -5
Gopnik: from leader's POV, i'd say Kim Jong Un as in north korea he is not forcing any pics of himself nor making a shit ton of songs praising him unlike his dad and grandfather, but instead he is attempting to get the nation out of the shithole it is in today.
Dec 13, 2020 17:16:43 GMT -5
Gopnik: but 1000000% not kim from a citizen's point of view, the Camps in North Korea are horrible.
Dec 13, 2020 17:18:52 GMT -5
White Cossack: You're both right, fellas.
Dec 18, 2020 11:17:53 GMT -5
eternal jew: indeed goys
Dec 18, 2020 12:13:55 GMT -5