(RUSSIA) Belarus Report: Moscow does not financially support any other country as generously: DW spoke with economic experts to learn about this lopsided relationship, and the strain it places on the Russian budget #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.31: Looking on from the outside, such figures appear to be a largish run-of-the-mill loan that one country grants another and for which interest is collected. But the situation with Belarus and Russia is different. According to observers: interest is mounting and debts carry on growing year in and year out, yet Minsk continues to receive new loans from Moscow…..

#AceDailyNews says here’s how Russian money keeps Belarus afloat Russia has supported its western neighbor Belarus for decades — long before the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Minsk and President Alexander Lukashenko. Earlier this summer, Moscow loaned its ally $500 million (€423 million) — six months prior, it had issued Lukashenko’s regime a similar sum.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin stand on a boat
DW REPORT:

Russia has been subsidizing its neighbor for years. Between 2005 and 2015, Moscow pumped $106 billion into the Belarus economy, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Discounted oil and gas

Experts divide Russia’s monetary contributions to Minsk into two categories: one legal and one covert. Neither is driven by economics and both have put a strain on Russia’s state budget.

The most obvious subsidy, analysts say, occurs within Belarus’ energy sector — which receives cheap Russian gas and has tariffs waived on oil destined for Belarusian refineries. 

A worker turns a valve at the first pump station on Belarus territory of the Druzhba pipeline

Russia has subsidized the energy sector by selling cheap gas

“Over the past 20 years, gas prices in Belarus only rose twice to European levels; each time, Belarus halted payments [to Russia], demanding a discount,” said Sergey Kondratiev of Moscow’s Institute for Energy and Finance Foundation. The research institute estimates Russia has subsidized oil to Belarus to the tune of $35 billion, and gas to the equivalent of $19 billion between 2011 and 2020.

Cheap loans, preferential market access

Cheap — and legal — loans are another means by which Russia has been able to prop up Belarus. Moscow continues to extend payment deadlines and is constantly revising the terms and conditions of the loans. Russia, for example, lent Belarus $10 billion to build a nuclear power plant in 2011.

“Belarus received both a very long grace period when it came to repaying the money, as well as the possibility to repay the loan at a discounted rate,” said Kondratiev. “Belarus would not have received such favorable conditions on the open market.”

It remains unclear how Minsk spends loans not earmarked for specific projects. Bogdan Bespalko, a member of Russia’s Council for Interethnic Relations — a body linked to President Vladimir Putin’s office — suspects they are used to pay off old debts. “A large portion of the latest $500 million loan was taken to repay money owed to Russian corporations,” Bespalko pointed out.

A worker at Belarus state-owned carmaker MAZ

Certain sectors of Belarus’ economy enjoy preferential treatment in the Russian market

Russia has also granted Belarus special access to its market. Not even other members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) enjoy such favorable terms as companies from Belarus do. Observers argue this preferential treatment guarantees the survival of entire business sectors within Belarus, especially within the food and engineering industries.

In addition to low-interest loans, such favorable preferences allowed the Belarusian economy to generate some $11 billion between 2011 and 2020, according to Moscow’s Institute for Energy and Finance Foundation.

Shady sources of income

Cross-border smuggling has also played its part in supporting the country’s economy. Without border checks between Belarus and Russia, and thanks to preferential market access, illicit trade has thrived. While the financial scale of this smuggling pales in comparison to that of official Russian loans, it is still considerable. As such, it also hurts Russian coffers.

The illicit trade in Belarus sees certain EU goods relabeled, and falsified customs documents issued. These mislabeled goods are then smuggled into Russia to evade EU sanctions. Such business practices also mean excise payments on products are being circumvented. 

“Only Belarus earns money doing this,” said Kondratiev. “Belarusian cigarettes are a case in point: Batches containing up to 1 million packs are smuggled into Russia without any excise duty being paid. A popular way to hide cigarettes is within shipments of mineral fertilizers.”

From 2011 to 2020, illegal tobacco imports cost Russia some $2.6 billion. Between 2014 and 2020, Russia incurred an estimated $4.2 billion in financial damages from the smuggling of EU-sanctioned goods.

Another source of income for Minsk lies in seizing the property of Russian companies in Belarus. The 2020 Belgazprombank case is a prominent example.

“After a provisional administration was established, deposits and financial assets were siphoned off, seriously hurting Russian shareholders,” said Kondratiev. Such conduct is common, he added. “We know of cases where goods sent by Russians transiting through Belarus have been seized.”

No country in the world receives the level of support from Russia as that which is afforded to Belarus, Kondratiev said. However, Moscow’s assistance has put a strain on finances. This is all the more troublesome, as the help rendered is neither spurring economic growth in Belarus, nor promoting the efficient use of money.

“On the contrary, we are seeing steady stagnation,” said the Russian Council for Interethnic Relations member Bogdan Bespalko.

‘Lukashenko has found a painful spot for EU’ 

This article has been adapted from German

#AceNewsDesk report …….Published: July.31: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#russia, #belarus, #european-union, #minsk, #moscow

FEATURED: #Coronavirus Report: A mysterious marketing agency secretly offered to pay social media stars to spread disinformation about #COVID19 vaccines. Their plan failed when the influencers went public about the attempt to recruit them according to BBC News #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.25: This report was provided. By BBC Trending on the effort to use disinformation on vaccines with public, do what’s right in your heart always ….

#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot and the The BBC reports they have made multiple attempts to contact AdNow by phone, email and even a letter couriered to their Moscow headquarters, but they have not responded.

By Charlie Haynes and Flora Carmichael
BBC Trending

Graphic composite image using the web page for Fazze - with options for "bloggers" and "advertisers". There are the profiles of superheroes in heroic poses with social media company logos on their their chests. To the left is a needle reaching into a vaccine bottle. The whole picture is coloured in red.
Mirko Drotschmann was offered money to spread disinformation on his social media accounts

“It started with an email” says Mirko Drotschmann, a German YouTuber and journalist.

Mirko normally ignores offers from brands asking him to advertise their products to his more than 1.5 million subscribers. But the sponsorship offer he received in May this year was unlike any other.

An influencer marketing agency called Fazze offered to pay him to promote what it said was leaked information that suggested the death rate among people who had the Pfizer vaccine was almost three times that of the AstraZeneca jab.

The information provided wasn’t true. 

It quickly became apparent to Mirko that he was being asked to spread disinformation to undermine public confidence in vaccines in the middle of a pandemic. 

“I was shocked,” says Mirko “then I was curious, what’s behind all that?”

Mirko DrotschmannMirko Drotschmann was offered money to spread disinformation on his social media accounts

In France, science YouTuber Léo Grasset received a similar offer. The agency offered him 2000 euros if he would take part. Fazze said it was acting for a client who wished to remain anonymous.

“That’s a huge red flag” says Léo. 

Both Léo and Mirko were appalled by the false claims.

They pretended to be interested in order to try to find out more and were provided with detailed instructions about what they should say in their videos.

In stilted English, the brief instructed them to “Act like you have the passion and interest in this topic.”

Léo GrassetLéo Grasset was horrified by the attempt to recruit him

It told them not to mention the video had a sponsor – and instead pretend they were spontaneously giving advice out of concern for their viewers. 

Social media platforms have rules that ban not disclosing that content is sponsored. In France and Germany it’s also illegal.

Fazze’s brief told influencers to share a story in French newspaper Le Monde about a data leak from the European Medicines Agency. 

The story was genuine, but didn’t include anything about vaccine deaths. But in this context it would give the false impression that the death rate statistics had come from the leak.

The data the influencers were asked to share had actually been cobbled together from different sources and taken out of context. 

It presented the numbers of people who had died in several countries some time after receiving different Covid vaccines. But just because someone dies after having a vaccine doesn’t mean they died because they had the vaccine. They could have been killed in a car accident.

In the countries the statistics were from, greater numbers of people had received the Pfizer vaccine at that time, so a higher number of people dying after having a Pfizer jab was to be expected.

“If you don’t have any scientific training, you could just say, ‘oh, there are these numbers, they are really different. So there must be a link.’ But you can make any spurious correlation as you want really,” Léo says.

The influencers were also provided with a list of links to share – dubious articles which all used the same set of figures that supposedly showed the Pfzer vaccine was dangerous. 

When Léo and Mirko exposed the Fazze campaign on Twitter all the articles, except the Le Monde story, disappeared from the web. 

By any measure the disinformation campaign was bungled.

Since Léo and Mirko blew the whistle at least four other influencers in France and Germany have gone public to reveal they also rejected Fazze’s attempts to recruit them.

But German journalist, Daniel Laufer, has identified two influencers who may have taken up the offer. 

Indian YouTuber Ashkar Techy usually makes jokey videos about cars and dating and Brazilian prankster Everson Zoio, has more than three million Instagram followers.

Each of them posted uncharacteristic videos in which they pushed the same message as the Fazze campaign and shared the fake news links from the agency’s brief. Both had also participated in previous Fazze promotions.

After Daniel Laufer contacted them, Everson Zoio and Ashkar Techy removed their videos but didn’t answer his questions. The BBC tried to contact both influencers, but they didn’t respond.

Ashkar TechyAshkar Techy shared the dubious data in his video

We tried emailing the people who approached Mirko and Léo. The emails bounced back, not from Fazze, but from the domain of a company called AdNow.

Fazze is a part of AdNow, which is a digital marketing company, registered in both Russia and the UK.

Eventually we managed to contact Ewan Tolladay, one of two directors of the British arm of AdNow – who lives in Durham.

Mr Tolladay said he had very little to do with Fazze – which he said was a joint venture between his fellow director – a Russian man called Stanislav Fesenko – and another person whose identity he didn’t know.

He said that he hadn’t been a part of the disinformation campaign. He said he hadn’t even known Fazze had taken on the contract before the story broke. He couldn’t enlighten us on who the mystery client was.

He said that in light of the scandal “we are doing the responsible thing and shutting down AdNow here in the UK”. He said Fazze was also being shut down.

We have tried to get Mr Fesenko to talk to us but had no success.

Both the French and German authorities have launched investigations into Fazze’s approaches to influencers.

But the identity of the agency’s mystery client remains unclear.

There has been speculation about the Russian connections to this scandal and the interests of the Russian state in promoting its own vaccine – Sputnik V.

Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for the German Green party has suggested looking to Moscow for the motivation behind the Fazze campaign. 

He said: “Bad-mouthing vaccines in the West undermines trust in our democracies and is supposed to increase trust in Russia’s vaccines, and there is only one side that benefits and that is the Kremlin.”

But in a statement the Russian embassy in London said: “We treat Covid-19 as a global threat and, thus, are not interested in undermining global efforts in the fight against it, with vaccinating people with the Pfizer vaccine as one of the ways to cope with the virus.”

While Fazze’s campaign was a flop, Léo Grasset believes it won’t be the last attempt to use the power of social influencers to spread disinformation.

“If you want to manipulate public opinion, especially for young people, you don’t go to TV” says French YouTuber Léo Grasset. 

“Just spend the same money on TikTok creators, YouTube creators. The whole ecosystem is perfectly built for maximum efficiency of disinformation right now.” 

Listen to BBC Trending: The anti-vax influencer plot that flopped on the World Service. Download the podcast or listen online.

#AceNewsDesk report …..Published: July.25: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#coronavirus, #covid19, #france, #germany, #moscow

(MOSCOW) JUST IN: RUNET REPORT: Authorities have held excercises to isolate their segment of the internet according to RBC News Agency #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.24: The exercises, which took place between June 15 and July 15, were attended by Russia’s “big four” internet providers (MTS, Beeline, Megafon and Tele2), as well as Rostelecom, Transtelecom and ER-Telecom Holding: Russian authorities held exercises to isolate the Russian internet segment (Runet) from the global internet,

#AceDailyNews says that the Kremlin tests disconnecting Russia from world internet RBC news agency reports, citing sources and materials of the working group “Information Security” under Russia’s Digital Economy national program: The Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was instructed to agree with the #BRICS countries on the creation of a parallel Internet, an independent system of root domain name servers (DNS), which would “duplicate” the existing ones.

Published: July.22, 2021

“The possibility of physical shutdown of the Russian segment of the Internet was tested,” a source in the telecommunications market told RBC news agency .

According to another interlocutor of the news agency, “the exercises were successful.” The official completion of the tests is scheduled for August 31.

In November 2017: Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that an autonomous Internet governance system be developed that would remove the Russian internet segment out of the “dominance” of the United States.

They would be independent of the control of international organizations and would protect, among other things, Russian users from “targeted influences”.

The international project of a separate Internet failed, and the Russian authorities decided to act alone. A year later, Russia adopted a law “on the sovereign Internet”, which requires not only to ensure the possibility of autonomous operation of the Runet and minimize the transfer of data abroad, but also introduces strict control over traffic within the Russian Federation, expanding the functions of the Russian media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

According to the law, all traffic within Russia should pass through exchange points approved by the Roskomnadzor. To do this, mobile operators and Internet providers must install equipment on their networks using which the agency will be able to control the internet traffic, as well as block prohibited resources.

At the end of 2019, the Russian government prepared a list of threats, which, could prompt Roskomnadzor to centralize internet control in the country.

The list includes providing access to prohibited information or blocked resources, cyber attacks and other information attacks on communication facilities and networks, threats to the availability of government online resources, violation of information security of automated network management systems and a number of others.

In February 2019, Putin said that the Internet is an invention of the special services of the West, which “sit there and eavesdrop and collect defense information”. Two years later he called the Internet a threat that can destroy society from within. According to Putin, the Internet must be subordinated to the laws of morality.

The necessary infrastructure for the implementation of the law “on the sovereign Internet” is planned to be completed by the end of 2021.

By that time, in accordance with the Digital Economy national program, the information system of the Center for Monitoring and Management of the Public Communication Network be fully functional work.

(c) UAWire

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.24: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#information-security, #internet, #moscow, #runet

(MOSCOW/WASHINGTON) Websites for a Russian-linked ransomware gang blamed for attacks on hundreds of businesses worldwide have gone offline after discussions took place between Biden & Putin #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.14: US President Joe Biden said he raised the issue with Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Friday, after discussing the subject during a summit with the Russian president in Geneva last month.

LATEST: REvil: Ransomware gang websites disappear from internet that monitors say a payment website and a blog run by the REvil group became suddenly unreachable on Tuesday and the reason behind the disappearance is unknown, but has sparked speculation that the group may have been targeted deliberately by authorities.

A smartphone with the words "Ransomware attack" and binary code is seen in front of the Kaseya logo in this illustration taken
The group recently demanded a huge bitcoin ransom for an attack targeting IT firm Kaseya

It comes amid growing pressure between the US and Russia over cyber-crime: Mr Biden told reporters that he had “made it very clear to him…we expect them to act” on information and also hinted the US could take direct digital retaliation on servers used for intrusions. ..

The timing of Tuesday’s outage has sparked speculation that either the US or Russian officials may have taken action against REvil – though officials have so far declined to comment and cyber experts say sudden disappearances of groups are not necessarily uncommon.

The development comes after a series of high-profile ransomware attacks which have hit major US businesses this year.

The FBI accused REvil – also known as Sodinokibi – of being behind a ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat processing company JBS last month. 

The group is considered prolific and last week demanded a huge bitcoin ransom for an attack which targeted IT firm Kaseya and hundreds more businesses worldwide. 

A huge scalp claimedREvil is one of the most prolific and feared of all ransomware gangs and if this really is the end, it’s extremely significant: The rumour mill is in hyperdrive about what’s behind this sudden shutdown but one hacker who claims to be an affiliate of the gang gave me some insights. I’m yet to confirm his identity but other researchers say his claims are highly plausible.He claims that the US “Feds took down” elements of their websites and so they pulled the plug on the rest of their operation. He also said there was pressure from the Kremlin too saying: “Russia is tired of the US and other countries crying to them.” Like all hacker claims we have to take them with a large dollop of salt but if this scenario proves to be accurate, it shows a dramatic shift in policy from Russia which has so far been happy to sit back and let gangs like REvil operate without fear of intervention. However another comment from my contact also hints at the bigger picture. He says he has no plans to retire and is already planning another unknown venture. “Make one go away, more will rise,” he warned. Technology explained: what is ransomware?

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.14: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#moscow, #ransomeware, #revil, #washington

(MOSCOW, Russia.) #Coronavirus Report: Health officials have confirmed that at least 600-people have been infected in the last 24-hours by the rise of Delta Variant cases #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – June.30: At least 652 people infected with coronavirus have died in Russia within the latest 24-hour recording period, government officials announced Tuesday morning. It marks the country’s single most deadly day since the pandemic began.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Russia records highest official death toll since start of #pandemic, as nation fights sharp rise in cases of Delta variant and the #COVID19 operational headquarters reported the grim milestone amid a steep rise in the number of positive tests for the infection over the past fortnight. More than 134,500 people are confirmed to have died with the virus overall since last March.

29 Jun, 2021 10:28 

Russia records highest official Covid-19 death toll since start of pandemic, as nation fights sharp rise in cases of Delta variant

The largest number of daily deaths were recorded in Moscow, which accounted for 121 of the fatalities. The capital has consistently been the focal point for outbreaks, leading in both the current number of infections and the total number of deaths. However, Russia’s second city, St Petersburg, also registered 119 fatalities, suggesting the situation there is worsening: With infectious Delta strain on rise, Moscow to require proof of Covid-19 vaccination or negative test to visit bars & restaurants

The number of diagnosed cases began rising quickly at the beginning of June, having previously fallen from record highs in December and plateaued at below 9,000 for several months.

Last week, the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, revealed that around 90% of cases in the city are estimated to have been caused by the infectious new Delta variant, which is thought to have originated in India. The mutated form of Covid-19 has been blamed for a resurgence of infections across the US and much of Europe. Sobyanin said that the situation is “rapidly deteriorating,” and the sudden rise in cases is “quite unexpected” given previously estimated levels of immunity among the population: Moscow orders ‘mandatory’ vaccination against Covid-19 for some workers serving the public as cases soar in Europe’s largest city

Low levels of vaccine uptake compared to a number of other European countries have been repeatedly cited as a challenge in Russia, with polls showing many people are skeptical of the jab. However, in the past few days, queues for appointments have been reported and at least two cities have run short of doses after tough new measures were put in place to control the spread of Covid-19 and boost the numbers of those being immunized.

Moscow has demanded that companies in sectors like hospitality, transport and leisure ensure 60% of their workers are immunized, or else face hefty fines. Officials have confirmed that bosses can suspend employees without pay in order to meet the quotas. Similar rules have now been put in place elsewhere, including in St. Petersburg: Two Far Eastern Russian cities SUSPEND Covid-19 vaccinations, with demand for doses soaring as country fights spike in new cases

As of Monday, the Russian capital is also requiring residents to scan a QR code when entering bars, cafes, pubs, food courts and other public spaces. Only those who have proof of vaccination or were officially recorded as a coronavirus case within the past six months will be eligible for unrestricted access, while others seeking admission indoors will have to provide a negative PCR test from within the previous three days.

Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova has objected to the move, labelling it “a dishonest game.” She said that “the mechanisms by which it is being implemented are giving rise to mass psychosis and making people fear coercion.”

However, two new polls released last week found that almost half of Russians surveyed back the new measures in Moscow, while 61% of those asked by researchers now plan to get vaccinated in the near future.

#AceHealthDesk report …..Published: Jun.30: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#russia, #health, #moscow

(MOSCOW) JUST IN: Russian news reports said searchers on Saturday found the body of an American student who went missing several days earlier and that a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.21: Local news reports said Serou was last seen on Tuesday after getting into a car. Her mother, Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, told NPR that her daughter had last texted her: “In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted.”

US student, ex-Marine found dead in Russia after cryptic text: ‘I hope I’m not being abducted: The body of Catherine Serou, a 34-year-old law student and veteran from California, was found Saturday morning according to Fox News

YWN/AP REPORT:

A female former U.S. Marine has turned up dead in Russia after catching a ride with a stranger and nervously texting her mom, “I hope I’m not being abducted,’’ according to reports.

The body of Catherine Serou, a 34-year-old law student and veteran from California, was found Saturday morning in a forest outside the Bor suburb where she lived in western Russia — about an hour after a 44-year-old man was arrested in her disappearance, said the Moscow Times and NPR.

Serou had gone missing Tuesday evening as she was headed back to a business to try to quickly clear up a payment issue, her mom told NPR.

The Afghanistan war vet may have gotten into a passing car for a lift rather than wait for her Uber, said her mom, Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted,’’ Catherine wrote her mother in her last text.

The mom told NPR she has no idea what happened to her daughter next but, “I think that when she saw that the person wasn’t driving to the clinic but instead was driving into a forest, she panicked.

“Her telephone last pinged off a cell tower in that forest,’’ the mom said.

The body of Catherine Serou, a 34-year-old law student and veteran from California, was found Saturday morning. (FILE)

A surveillance photo reportedly shows Catherine looking out an open passenger-side window of a silver car around when she vanished.

More than 100 volunteers scoured local forests last week for any sign of the law student — before her suspected killer was cuffed, authorities said. The accused man was not identified, but he has prior convictions and is cooperating, they said, according to the Moscow outlet.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it is “closely monitoring” the probe into Catherine’s death.

The student was in Russia to begin studying law while learning the language so she could return to the States and work as an immigration attorney, reports said.

She had sat for a videotaped interview posted on a Russian Web site last year in which she laughed about the cultural differences between the U.S. and Russia.

Catherine was enrolled at Lobachevsky University about 250 miles east of Moscow studying in its master’s law program, after having gotten a bachelor’s degree in design and master’s in art history from the University of California at Davis, reports said.

YWN Reports: US Student Found Killed In Russia, Suspect Arrested: The body of Catherine Serou, 34, was found in a wooded area near the city of Bor, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow, the reports said.

June 20, 2021 8:00 am:

Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement that a woman’s body was found in Bor and that a suspect with a record of serious crimes had been arrested, but did not give names. The cause of death was not specified.

Catherine Serou moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at a university in Nizhny Novgorod, a major city adjacent to Bor, news reports said.

Beccy Serou told NPR that her daughter was in a hurry to get to a clinic Tuesday and may have gotten into a passing car.

“I think that when she saw that the person wasn’t driving to the clinic, but instead was driving into a forest, she panicked,” Beccy Serou said.

(AP)

#AceNewsDesk report …….Published: Jun.21: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#missing, #moscow, #russian

(MOSCOW) Conflict & War Report: Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov doesn’t see war breaking out between China, Russia and the U.S., but if it did, it would “exterminate all mankind.” #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.16: As the United States’ relationship with Russia and China deteriorated, the two countries grew closer. Russia and China have denied that there are any current plans for a military alliance, although both have kept the door open to the possibility of one, raising concerns that a pact between Moscow and Beijing could disrupt the world order.

MOSCOW: Russian Official Warns Conflict Between China, U.S. Would ‘Exterminate All Mankind’………..Denisov told the Global Times, a Chinese state-run outlet, that he wouldn’t answer the hypothetical question as to whether Russia would back China in a war with the U.S.

By Jenni Fink On 6/14/21 at 12:13 PM EDT

russia china us war biden putin
Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov doesn’t foresee a war breaking out between the countries, but if it did it would “exterminate all mankind.” Here, President Joe Biden speaks at a rally during commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on June 1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.Brandon Bell/Getty Images

“I am convinced that there will be no armed conflict between China and the U.S., just as there will be no armed conflict between Russia and the U.S. because such a conflict would exterminate all mankind, and then there would be no point in taking sides,” Denisov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October 2020 that it was “quite possible to imagine” a military alliance between Russian and China, but that it was unnecessary at the time. The two countries have participated in war games and Russia has shared sensitive military technologies with China.

Chinese officials are also potentially open to forming a military alliance with Russia and in January, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said there is “no limit” to “how far this cooperation can go.”

Denisov noted that in light of the current “international situation and major issues,” Russia’s position is “clearly much closer to China’s.” The U.S. imposed sanctions on both countries with the alleged “goal” of “crushing the competitor,” he added.

“We clearly cannot accept such an attitude from the U.S. We hope that the Russia-China-U.S. ‘tripod’ will keep balance,” Denisov said.

The Biden administration has expelled diplomats and imposed a number of sanctions on Russia for its alleged hacking of federal agencies and interference in the presidential election. The consequences are meant to deter future attacks, and Russia has pushed back on the sanctions with diplomatic consequences of its own.

The upcoming meeting between Putin and U.S. President Joe Bidenmarks a potential turn for the better and both countries are looking to improve their relationship. However, that’s easier said than done.

Biden, who once agreed that Putin was a “killer,” is expected to raise concerns about Alexey Navalny, a jailed chief political rival to Putin, as well as other dissidents. It’s also possible that Putin and Biden could get into the topic of Russians engaging in cyberattacks in the United States. Recent attacks believed to be the work of Russian hackers disrupted America’s gasoline distribution and meat production.

During an interview with NBC News, Putin denied his government had anything to do with the cyber attacks and accused the U.S. of engaging in “unfounded accusations” that aren’t backed by evidence.

Denisov said the meeting is likely to “resolve important issues” between the two countries, but the goal is to set conditions for resolving future problems. Despite tension-reducing measures being welcomed by the Russians, Denisov denied it would have an impact on its relationship with China.

“This view is too short-sighted. It can’t happen. I think we’re smarter than what the Americans think,” Denisov said when asked if easing tensions between the U.S. and Russia would “alienate” Russia from China.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Jun.16: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#russia, #china, #moscow, #united-states

(MOSCOW) Court Report: Alexei Navalny Case: Officials have banned political organisations linked to the jailed Kremlin critic, classifying them as “extremist” organisations #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.11: Russian parliamentary elections are due to take place in September and opinion polls show the ruling party losing support. Some of Mr Navalny’s supporters have been planning to run in the elections:

Alexei Navalny Case: Activists will risk prison sentences if they continue their work and anyone who publicly supports his political network can now be barred from running for public office and his supporters fear Putin wants him dead

Alexei Navalny in Moscow in February 2020
Alexei Navalny told his supporters: “We won’t step back”

The women fighting for Navalny against corruption

Writing on social media, Mr Navalny promised he would “not retreat”.

However, he said his supporters would now have to change how they work.

Mr Navalny is in prison for violating the terms of parole in an embezzlement case – charges he says are politically motivated.

Following Wednesday’s ruling, a court statement said Mr Navalny’s regional network offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) had been banned with immediate effect:

“It was found that these organisations not only disseminated information that incited hatred and enmity against government officials, but also committed extremist actions,” prosecutors’ spokesman Alexei Zhafyarov said outside the court.

Mr Navalny’s lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling.

A message later posted on Mr Navalny’s Instagram account said: “We’re not going anywhere. We’ll digest this, sort things out, change, and evolve. We’ll adapt. We won’t step back from our aims and ideas. This is our country and we do not have another one.”

Paranoia in the corridors of power

The “extremist” label could have serious consequences for supporters of Alexei Navalny and his political movement. Activists can be threatened with jail if they continue their work and individuals linked to or publicly supporting Mr Navalny’s political network can be barred from running for public office. 

And it just so happens that there is an election coming up in Russia: for parliament, in three months’ time. The Russian authorities are going to extraordinary lengths to prevent opponents from taking part in it. A major crackdown on dissent is under way. Just a few days ago, a prominent Kremlin critic Dmitry Gudkov left the country, he says under pressure from the authorities. 

Why is the Kremlin so nervous? After all, President Putin’s supporters enjoy pointing out that, according to opinion polls, Alexei Navalny has minimal support amongst the Russian public. 

What is happening reflects the level of fear and political paranoia in the corridors of power here. With the ruling party increasingly unpopular, the Kremlin may worry that, amid economic problems and with no end in sight to the Coronavirus pandemic, its opponents could do well at the ballot box. That is something the Russian authorities are determined to prevent. 

Alexei Navalny: Russia’s vociferous Putin critic President Putin’s foremost critic – was detained in January as soon as he returned to Russia from Germany. He had received treatment in Berlin for a nerve agent attack in Siberia last August that left him in a coma and fighting for his life: Mr Navalny blamed President Putin directly for the attack which nearly killed him. The Kremlin denied any involvement.Alexei Navalny: what you need to know

The pro-Putin United Russia party, which dominates parliament, has been described by the opposition leader as “the party of crooks and thieves”, and millions of Russians have watched his videos alleging corruption in Mr Putin’s elite circle.

Mr Navalny is expected to be a topic on the agenda of talks between Mr Putin and US President Joe Biden at their first summit on 16 June.

Mr Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, recently said he hoped the Geneva meeting would improve the “extremely low level of relations” between the two countries but expected no breakthroughs.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Jun.11: 2021:

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#moscow, #navalny

(MOSCOW) Belarus Deal OR NO Deal Report: With Kremlin Tight-Lipped About Putin’s Talks With Lukashenka, Some Are Instead Asking: ‘Where Did He Get That Yacht?’ #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.02: Putin’s latest meeting with Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus — his fourth since August — was no exception. More than five hours of talks yielded only seven minutes of official footage, in which Putin comments on the weather and Lukashenka fingers a briefcase of documents that, he claims, expose unspecified Western machinations.

KREMLIN: The Russian public is used to being left in the dark about what President Vladimir Putin discusses with high officials and the heads of other former Soviet republics. Official photos of Putin and his guests provide the fodder for headlines — and countless memes — that often follow: But with few details forthcoming, many observers focused instead on the venue for the informal second day of talks on May 29: a 54-meter luxury yacht complete with a sumptuous dining area boasting panoramic views of the sea’

Lukashenka (left) and his son Mikalay (center) dine at sea with Putin aboard the Chaika.
Lukashenka (left) and his son Mikalay (center) dine at sea with Putin aboard the Chaika.

“Russians earning 10,000 to 40,000 rubles ($136-$545) a month…are apparently proud of the fact that Putin has a 30-million-euro yacht,” one Twitter user wrote sarcastically, citing the reported cost of the vessel.

Dozhd, an independent TV channel in Russia that often airs opposition views, reported on May 31 that the yacht, now named Chaika (Seagull), was built in Turkey and purchased by the Russian government in 2011, when Putin was prime minister.

Putin on board the yacht Chaika on May 29. In nearly 22 years as president or prime minister, he has regularly been accused of amassing a huge personal fortune.
Putin on board the yacht Chaika on May 29. In nearly 22 years as president or prime minister, he has regularly been accused of amassing a huge personal fortune.

Dozhd also noted a previous meeting, apparently on the same yacht, between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.

Officially, the May 28-29 talks in and around the Black Sea resort city of Sochi led to Moscow’s release of a $500 million loan to Minsk and an increase in the number of flight connections with Belarus as a show of support for Lukashenka. The Belarusian leader is being shunned in Europe since his government scrambled a fighter jet on May 23 to ground a Ryanair flight and arrested a dissident Belarusian journalist who was aboard, along with his girlfriend, a Russian citizen.

But there was little in the way of details about crucial questions that haunt the close but often tense relationship between Russia and Belarus, leaving observers on social media with little to do but comment on the photos of Putin and Lukashenka posing by the sea — some with wry humor, others angrily — or zero in on the lush setting.

The attention to evidence of Putin’s alleged wealth, or the perks that he has at his fingertips, was nothing new.

Officially, Putin earned a salary equivalent to $136,000 in 2020, and in his declaration, he listed a modest apartment, three Soviet-era cars, and a small camping trailer handed down by his late father.

But in nearly 22 years as president or prime minister, he has regularly been accused of amassing a huge personal fortune. In 2012, three years before he was shot dead near the Kremlin, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov co-authored a report describing a stunning array of helicopters and jets, homes, luxury watches, and four yachts that, according to the report, belonged to Putin or were available for his use in connection with his office.

The report referenced a 54-meter yacht similar in description to the Chaika, but said the “real diamond of the Kremlin flotilla” is a five-deck vessel equipped with a Jacuzzi, a barbecue, a maple wood colonnade, and a large bathroom faced in marble.

The mansion is built on the Black Sea’s exclusive Gelendzhik Bay.

Shots of the yacht in Sochi come four months after Putin was forced to publicly dispute allegations by jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) that a $1.36 billion estate complete with hookah bar, vineyard, and ice hockey arena had been built for the Russian president on the Black Sea, not far from the waters he cruised with Lukashenka.

In April, the FBK — which has been targeted by a government effort to label it as an extremist group — followed up with reports of another lavish residence it linked to Putin.

Aleksei Navalny

The Kremlin said the sprawling property that Navalny dubbed “a palace for Putin” does not belong to the president. Arkady Rotenberg, a construction magnate and childhood friend of Putin’s, later came forwardto say that he is the owner.

Other apparent efforts to discredit the January report from the FBK included a remark at the time from Dmitry Kiselyov, a state-TV presenter widely seen as a Kremlin propagandist:

“Putin has no need for luxury,” Kiselyov asserted. “For him, this is just not cool.”

Matthew Luxmoore is a Moscow-based correspondent for RFE/RL covering Russia and the former Soviet Union. Before joining RFE/RL in 2018, he reported for The New York Times in Moscow and has written for The Guardian, Politico, The New Republic, and Foreign Policy. He’s a graduate of Harvard’s Davis Center and a recipient of New York University’s Reporting Award and the Fulbright Alistair Cooke Journalism Award.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Jun.02: 2021:

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#belarus, #kremlin, #lukashenko, #moscow, #putin

(MOSCOW, Russia.) FSB REPORT: Despite a lack of material evidence, and no established intention of harm, three Russian 14-year-olds are facing lengthy prison sentences after being charged with “training for terrorist activities” in a case that initially alleged the schoolboys were planning to destroy a virtual building they created in the popular computer game Minecraft #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.12: The case, which has attracted widespread attention due to the age of the accused and the notion that child’s play could constitute terrorism, appears to have entered a sort of legal Nether — Minecraft’s hell-like alternate dimension:

‘Minecraft Terrorism’ Case Casts Russian Teens Into Legal ‘Nether’ Russia’s Investigative Committee earlier this year dismissed the original case opened in November against schoolmates Nikita Uvarov, Denis Mikhailenko, and Bogdan Andreyev after determining that their relationship did not have the necessary structure, subdivisions, or distribution of functions “to regard this group as a terrorist community.”

A screenshot from Minecraft, the computer game in which the teenagers were purportedly "training for terrorist activities."
A screenshot from Minecraft, the computer game in which the teenagers were purportedly “training for terrorist activities.”

And the remaining charges against them under Article 205.3 of the Russian Criminal Code — “training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities” — no longer cite their alleged plans to “blow up” an “FSB building” in Minecraft as evidence they had established an online terrorist network.

But the pupils at School No. 21 in the Krasnoyarsk Krai city of Kansk are not in safe mode by any means: The three still face from seven to 10 years in prison on charges that stem from their detention nearly a year ago for pasting leaflets supporting a jailed anarchist on the local FSB department building.

Following their arrest in June after two days of interrogation, investigators determined that the boys had constructed at least one Molotov cocktail and set it alight in Kansk in March 2020. The following May, prosecutors allege, the three used another Molotov cocktail to set fire to an abandoned building.

And at some point between late May and early June they allegedly produced and detonated an “Ammokisa” explosive, for which investigators did not provide a gauge of strength but which was reportedly a crude and weak device using antiseptic tablets.

To buttress the argument that the three were engaged in dangerous activities, investigators have reportedly homed in on communication shared between the three on Telegram and VKontakte in which they discussed the American rock musician Kurt Cobain and his “fierce revolutionary struggle,” the “Yellow Vests” movement in France and anti-government protests in Belarus, and the tsarist-era Russian anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin.

‘Rude’ Boys

The three schoolboys have been described by their parents and school officials as curious yet rebellious students with an interest in anarchy.

“They were normal children, like usual, like other kids,” school director Sergei Kreminsky told Current Time in September, three months after they were arrested after pasting leaflets supporting jailed university student Azat Miftakhov on the building of the local FSB department. “In the case of some of their parents there was insufficient control. They were rude, snapped sometimes at school.”

That the three were facing serious charges, the school director and current city-council deputy representing the pro-Kremlin United Russia party said: “Well, since the investigation is under way, it means they are guilty, I think. What else?”

The boys did not hide their interest in chemistry from their parents, and Svetlana Mikhailenko, Denis’s mother, told Current Time recently that she was aware of their pyrotechnic activities.

“I always knew where the child was, even when they were making these bombs,” she said. “But it was a small, childish prank, a child’s bomb.”

Photos displayed in Denis Mikhailenko's home, showing the teenager as a young boy.
Photos displayed in Denis Mikhailenko’s home, showing the teenager as a young boy.

Svetlana Mikhailenko also told the Russian-language media network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA that the investigators skewed the boys’ testimony, replacing their description of the devices as “bombochki” — little bombs — with “bombs,” and focusing on the amount of material required to make them.

Anna Uvarova, Nikita’s mother, spoke to Current Time following an April 16 court hearing. She said in the family’s apartment that following her son’s detention in June, investigators searched her home from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., seizing but eventually returning a toy musket that she shows to the cameras.

But after they realized that a case was being built against the three boys, “we looked at what was in their phones” and saw that they had recorded a video of them throwing a Molotov cocktail.

‘Evidence’ Working Against Them

The case against the three boys contains no material evidence — no caches of explosives, no weapons. And while Vladimir Vasin, a lawyer for the Russian legal-defense organization Agora who is representing Uvarov, cited a previous case in which an activist in Russia was imprisoned for 10 years for throwing a Molotov cocktail in a public case, in this case there was no harm, and no intention of harm.

“The guys were really cooking something up with chemicals and were playing with something,” Vasin said. “But they went far into a field, to a deserted place, and did it there.”

Russian lawyer.Vladimir Vasin
Russian lawyer.Vladimir Vasin

“One was very fond of history, the other loved chemistry,” he said of the boys. “And as I know my client, he had no thoughts of doing anything” more.

Unfortunately, Vasin said, to Russian prosecutors “the go-to recipe is a confession — the queen of evidence.”

Mikhailenko and Andreyev each provided confessions of guilt — while facing a mix of “pressure, threats, and promises,” according to the news site Baza — to “undergoing training in order to carry out terrorist activities” following the initial interrogations into their pasting leaflets on the FSB building.

The two have since retracted their confessions and Mikhailenko’s mother, in comments to Current time, said that investigators tricked the parents into implicating their own children.

Uvarov refused to confess — a decision the teens’ parents believe led the FSB to accuse him of being the leader of a group they say never existed, and of sending him immediately to pretrial detention, where he has remained for 11 months.

Close Comparisons

The case has drawn comparisons to other cases in which young people in Russia with views not in step with the official line have been accused of extremism and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.

Miftakhov, the avowed anarchist and graduate student at Moscow State University for whom the three teens were expressing support in their leaflets, stands as a prominent example.

In January, the 25-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison for aggravated “hooliganism” after being found guilty of involvement in an arson attack against the ruling United Russia party’s office in Moscow in 2018.

The Russian human rights organization Memorial has said that his body showed signs of torture that Miftakhov, who denies the charges against him, said were the result of investigators’ attempts to force a confession.

In late 2020, eight young men and women were found guilty of charges that they had created an extremist group called New Greatness with the intention of overthrowing President Vladimir Putin’s government. The eight received punishments ranging from four-year suspended sentences to seven years’ imprisonment after an FSB agent infiltrated their chat group and suggested they turn it into a political movement.

Another alleged member received an 18-month prison sentence in 2019 after cutting a deal with investigators, and yet another left the country and applied for asylum in Ukraine. All 10 are considered by Memorial to be political prisoners.

Also in 2020, a regional court’s decision in Penza was described as “heinous” after seven activists belonging to a group called Set — or the Network — were sentenced to prison terms of six to 18 years after being found guilty of planning terrorist attacks to destabilize Russia’s presidential election and hosting of the World Cup in 2018.

Seven men who received sentences of six to 18 years appear in court in the Volga Military District Court in Russia.

SEE ALSO:’Pure Stalinism’: Russia’s ‘Heinous’ Sentencing Of Activists Sparks Outrage

The defendants all said the group never existed, and that while they shared anti-fascist views they merely played BB-gun war games together. Several of the young men said they were subjected to torture in order to extract their confessions.

Human rights groups believe the case was fabricated by the state as a signal to others who express political views that run counter to the government.

Date With Destiny

Today, Nikita Uvarov, Denis Mikhailenko, and Bogdan Andreyev sit in pretrial detention awaiting their own trial, for which a date has yet to be set.

Uvarov’s lawyer Vasin, speaking while riding on a train to see his client, falls short of saying the entire case was fabricated, but does note that there have been three cases accusing adolescents of terrorism in Krasnoyarsk Krai in the last year alone.

He said he struggles to imagine how such situations involving youths play out.

“My colleagues and I were discussing how it could have been done — invite the police to the children’s room, I don’t know, to summon the director of the school to for a meeting” to try to talk and sort things out,” Vasin said. “But instead, boom! — immediately to interrogation. Two days of interrogation. A third interrogation. Endless interrogations.”

Ten years ago, he said, the matter might have been settled by a spanking with a belt, but “now everything is different. And it will get worse.”

Written by RFE/RL senior correspondent Michael Scollon based on reporting in Krasnoyarsk Krai by Current Time correspondents Aleksei Aleksandrov and Kirill Ralev

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.12: 2021:

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#russia, #fsb, #moscow

(RUSSIA) JUST IN: The main ruble-denominated index on the Moscow Exchange reached the 3,700-point level for the first time ever on Monday, as global oil prices continue to climb #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.11: The index has risen over 12% since the beginning of the year and is up by 4% in May alone. Monday’s gains mark the second time in less than a week that the Russian stock market has smashed its own record:

MOSCOW: Russian stock market smashes historic high on weaker dollar & rising crude: ‘The ruble-traded MOEX index was up nearly 0.7% on Monday afternoon and stood at 3,708 points as of 11:55am GMT. Earlier in the day, the index, which covers stocks of major Russian companies listed on the Moscow Exchange, hit a new all-time high of 3,711 points’ as Russian economy returns to growth after pandemic-fueled downturn

10 May, 2021 13:08 

Russian stock market smashes historic high on weaker dollar & rising crude
Currency Report:

The stock rally comes as global crude prices continue to rise. It could be also linked to the inflows of cash from funds investing in Russia, RBC reported, citing analysts from investment company Freedom Finance. They pointed that the weakening of the US dollar boosts commodity prices as well as safe heaven assets like gold, and a lot of raw material companies are present on the Russian market.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.11: 2021:

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#russia, #currency, #finance, #moscow

(MOSCOW) Corruption Report: Businessman Turned Journalist after being disillusioned with ‘ Criminal Underworld’ leads to digging up the dirt on oil companies that has led to Russia wanting to jail him for 11yrs #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.07: From the time Eduard Shmonin was a young man, he always wanted to be a gangster: The business model he adopted involved digging up dirt on officials and industry players — and then publishing it or withholding it, depending on the bidder:

SIBERIA: A Siberian Muckraker Exposed Massive Oil Theft: Now Russia Wants To Imprison Him For 11 Years: ‘But disillusionment with Russia’s criminal world came quickly for the Sverdlovsk region native after he served two years in prison for burglary in the 1990s. Shmonin, now 50, instead decided to get into journalism — a profession that he quickly determined was inextricable from local battles over money, resources, and influence’ I understood at the time that the job of a journalist is to get paid for what he doesn’t write,” Shmonin told RFE/RL’s Russian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, last year.

May 04, 2021 12:01 GMT

Russian journalist Eduard Shmonin believes he was targeted by investigators for his exposé on massive oil theft in western Siberia. (photo illustration)
RFERL

Now prosecutors have asked a court to sentence Shmonin to 11 years in prison on charges of blackmail and distributing pornography — allegations linked to media operations he ran in Russia’s oil-rich Khanti-Mansi Autonomous District in western Siberia.

A verdict in Shmonin’s trial in Surgut, in western Siberia, which has been closed to the public, is expected next week.

And while Shmonin has never denied trafficking in “kompromat,” or compromising information, he believes he was targeted for an entirely different reason: a documentary he released exposing evidence of massive oil theft in the Khanti-Mansi region with the complicity of corrupt law enforcement officials.

An archive of materials gathered by Shmonin for the exposé and a planned sequel that never aired served as a pillar of an independent investigation by Radio Svoboda in March exposing the central role that Federal Security Service (FSB) and Interior Ministry officials play in the industrial-scale theft of oil from Russia’s network of pipelines.

Radio Svoboda was able to independently corroborate numerous details of this illicit business, which, according to a 2013 estimate by state-owned investment bank VTB Capital, costs Russian oil companies $1.8 billion to $3.5 billion annually and the Russian budget $632 million to $1.2 billion.

Shmonin released his documentary, Criminal Oil, in November 2016 and was arrested the following April on not only the blackmail and pornography charges, but also for suspected libel based on a complaint by four individuals mentioned in the film — all of whom worked in security for a subsidiary of Rosneft, the state oil giant whose CEO, Igor Sechin, is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

One of the plaintiffs was a retired FSB general, and the other was a former FSB officer who has since been arrested and charged with oil theft.

Crude Conspiracy: How Russian Cops And Criminals Collude To Steal Oil

0:00 0:03:20

Shmonin was held for nearly a year in pretrial detention, while his muckraking website and his TV channel, Yugra Public Television, ceased operations. He claims that, during his detention, he was tortured by FSB officers who tried to force him to reveal who financed the Criminal Oil documentary.

“They said, ‘You have three options to get out of here: You can be carried out of here feet first; you can eat the charges, we’ll release you on bail, and you leave the country; or you reveal who is behind you and we will classify you as a witness,’” Shmonin told Radio Svoboda, adding that he told investigators the documentary was made on his own initiative.Shmonin protesting in 2010 in defense of his kompromat-filled website. His sign reads: “Corrupt cops: Fight corruption, not the media.”

Shmonin claimed his interrogators then wrapped a plastic bag over his head and tased him, though Radio Svoboda was unable to independently corroborate his torture claims. The FSB did not respond to requests for comment sent in March.

Disappearing Evidence

A funny thing happened on the way to the verdict in Shmonin’s case: A trove of evidence went missing or was damaged, including hard drives, computers, mobile phones, and flash drives that authorities had confiscated. And the libel charges related to his Criminal Oil documentary were ultimately dropped.

Of the 13 original charges Shmonin faced, only two remain: blackmail and illegal distribution of pornography.

The blackmail charge relates to Shmonin’s alleged demand for money from Yevgeny Vostrikov, a lawmaker in the Khanti-Mansi city of Nefteyugansk, in exchange for withholding release of a film in which he was accused, among other things, of domestic abuse and trafficking in drugs. (Many of these allegations had already appeared on Shmonin’s websites prior to the film’s eventual release.)

Shmonin in the courtroom in Surgut, where a verdict in his trial is expected next week. (file photo)
Shmonin in the courtroom in Surgut, where a verdict in his trial is expected next week. (file photo)

The pornography charge relates to a secretly recorded video showing a sexual encounter between a lawmaker in the city of Nizhnevartovsk and another man. Shmonin has denied releasing the video.

He insists that the evidence that went missing in his case includes alibis that would exonerate him.

All of these developments have taken place behind closed doors. The trial was closed to the public, formally because of the intimate nature of the video related to the pornography charge.

Shmonin, who has been out on bail since 2018 pending a verdict in the trial, is barred by law from discussing the case with the media.

Meanwhile, the trial of Roman Chernogor — the former FSB officer who filed a libel complaint against Shmonin over his Criminal Oil film — continues.

Chernogor has been charged with illegally tapping into oil pipelines. His co-defendant, former FSB officer Vladimir Chernakov, was also implicated in oil-theft schemes in Shmonin’s film.

Written by Carl Schreck based on reporting by RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Sergei Khazov-Cassia.

Sergei Khazov-Cassia is a correspondent in Moscow for RFE/RL’s Russian Service.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.07: 2021:

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#journalist, #moscow, #oil, #russian

(MOSCOW) Federal Security Service Report: Founder of the nation’s largest Islamic publishing house arrested for financing the #IslamicState through publishing house #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.04: Russia has arrested on Thursday Aslambek Ezhayev, the director of the largest Islamic publishing house in Russia, “Ummah”, on suspicion of financing #IsllamicState according to the Federal Security Service.

Russia: Arrests the founder of the largest Islamic publishing house in Russia for financing #IslamicState acordsing to Shafaq, News on April 30, 2021”

The official representative of the Russian Investigation Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said today, Friday investigators, in cooperation with the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of Interior, found that Ezhayev is involved in financing ISIS terrorist group.

Investigations revealed that since 2012, Ezhayev had held “multiple secret meetings with his counterparts and received funds to finance ISIS”

“Later, He transferred more than 34 million rubles (more than 455 thousand dollars) to people who are wanted in Russia for committing terrorist crimes.”…

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: May.04: 2021:

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#russia, #fss, #moscow

(MOSCOW) JUST IN: (Interfax) – A justice of the peace from Tagansky district has found Twitter guilty of yet another administrative offense, failure to remove calls for minors’ participation in the unsanctioned protests held in late January #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.05: To find the Twitter entity guilty of an administrative offense and to impose an administrative fine of 2.4 million rubles [over $31,000] as a penalty,” the justice of the peace said.

“Twitter fined 2.4-million rubles ($31,000) by justice of the peace on Friday for failure to remove minors in unsanctioned protests”

https://newsd.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/twitter.jpg

Earlier on Friday, the court found Twitter guilty of committing two similar administrative offenses on January 23 and January 24 and imposed fines of 3.2 million and 3.3 million rubles, respectively. Hence, the overall amount of fines imposed on Twitter by the court over failure to remove prohibited content has reached 8.9 million rubles (over $116,000).

The ruling says that the fines must be paid within 60 days of the date of the ruling’s entry into force. Hence, Twitter must pay the fines by mid-June unless the rulings are challenged.

Popular online platforms visited by hundreds of thousands of Russians each day bear great social responsibility, the press service for Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor said, commenting on the rulings. “Not restricting access to unlawful information endangers the lives and health of users, especially children and adolescents,” it said.

“Care for user safety, the prompt removal of prohibited content, timely moderation of calls for socially dangerous and unlawful actions must, in the opinion of Roskomnadzor, be of the highest priority for the administrations of every Internet platform,” the press service said.

The court postponed until May 4 hearing three similar protocols regarding Facebook and Google LLC, in order to allow them to review their case files.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.05: 2021:

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#moscow, #protests, #twitter, #unsanctioned

(MOSCOW) JUST IN: Three Russian nuclear ballistic missile submarines have surfaced simultaneously breaking the Arctic ice during drills, reported the commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin via videolink on Friday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.27: The commander, Nikolai Yevmenov, said the sophisticated manoeuvre was carried out by submarines “for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy”. The submarines surfaced within a 300 meters radius and the ice they broke was 1.5 meter deep, the admiral added: 

‘The Kremlin has pushed to beef up defences in the Arctic, which Putin has touted as a vital region for Russian interests as climate change makes it more accessible’ https://t.me/reuters_news_agency/70099

Reuters Wire News, [Mar 26, 2021 at 6:10 PM]

The Russian defence ministry published footage of the submarines emerging from underneath the ice with loud noise. After one of them surfaced, a sailor showed up on top of it and waved at a camera with his hand.

The drill was held near Franz Josef Land Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean and was aimed at testing Russian military hardware in extreme weather conditions.

“The Arctic expedition… has no analogues in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia,” Putin said.

#AceNewsDesk report ……..Published: Mar.27: 2021:

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#russia, #alaska, #kremlin, #moscow, #russian-president-vladimir-putin

(MOSCOW) JUST IN: Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology & Mass Media Report: To initially decelerate Twitter’s loading speed apply only to photo and video content and do not apply to text messages #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – March 10. /TASS/. “ Starting today, Roskomnadzor (Russian media watchdog – TASS) has taken measures of a centralized response, namely, decelerated the service’s loading speed. The slowdown will cover 100% of mobile traffic and 50% of fixed traffic,” he said:

Restrictions on Twitter to apply only to transfer of photos and videos: ‘According to the watchdog’s deputy head, users will be able to exchange messages smoothly’ full update here: But on Thursday they were still not removed

© Nopparat Khokthong/Shutterstock/FOTODOM

Reasons for blocking: Putin blasts ‘monsters’ who drive kids to commit suicide, goad teens into lawless rallies

Russia hits Twitter with slowdown, vows block unless content pushing suicide, drugs erased

“It involves slowing down the transmission of photo and video content, without limiting transmission of text messages. Thus, users will be able to smoothly exchange messages,” he added.

Subbotin stressed that, when choosing an enforcement measure for Twitter, the federal agency proceeded from the goal that inconvenience for users of the social network should be minimal.

According to the official, restrictions on Twitter will remain in effect until all prohibited information is removed.

“Roskomnadzor’s actions are aimed at forcing Twitter to comply with Russian legislation in order to protect users, including children, from prohibited content posted on the Twitter platform – until it is completely removed,” Subbotin said.

He also stressed that the watchdog has every reason to completely block Twitter, but hopes for a constructive position of the company: The official recalled that his agency had repeatedly warned the company about the need to comply with the legislation of the Russian Federation, but the company ignored the requirements: Earlier the regulator specified that as of March 10, the social network had not removed 3,168 pieces of content containing proscribed information:

“This includes incitements to commit suicide on March 3 of this year: As you know, on that day there were attempts among minors to commit suicide, which, fortunately, were prevented in a timely manner,” Subbotin stressed: Calls to remove this information were also ignored, he added: Twitter has not deleted information about the use and making of narcotic substances, psychotropic substances and precursors. There are tweets containing direct links to online drug stores.

“Almost no other social network allows itself to ignore the requirement to remove pieces of content of these categories: At the moment, Twitter does not respond to the demands of the Russian authorities regarding the removal of clearly prohibited information. Based on the current legislation, Roskomnadzor has included the dissemination information on Twitter in the list of threats,” he said:

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Mar.11: 2021:

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#media, #moscow, #roskomnadzor, #technology, #twitter, #watchdog

(MOSCOW, Russia.) JUST IN: Security police have detained at least 72 people on Saturday over opposition protests staged in several cities, the OVD-Info protest monitor said on social media #AceNewsDesk reports

#AceNewsReport – Aug.10: Tens of thousands rally in #Moscow in support of candidates barred from city council election https://t.co/9IazlSPZmp https://t.co/BhjtjjsGv4 RT_com tens of thousands of Muscovites staged Russia’s biggest political protest for years on Saturday, rallying to demand free city elections in spite of a government crackdown: The monitor said 72 people had been detained in St Petersburg, 10 in Moscow and seven in Roston-on-Don Reuters reported.

Around 20,000 people have gathered for an authorized rally in the heart of Moscow, the Russian Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Moscow said: “ About 20,000 people are attending the event on Academician Sakharov Avenue”, the Moscow police said in a statement.” SputnikInt reported https://t.co/3y1lMyjORu

The protests have been going on since mid-July in the Russian capital: They were hosted by opposition figures who were denied registration for the elections to the Moscow city council scheduled for 8 September.”The previous rallies were unauthorized by the Moscow authorities. The protests resulted in the detentions of hundreds of protesters. Most of them were released later. Some of the organizers of the protest were arrested till late September.”

#AceNewsDesk reports ………………Published: Aug.11: 2019: Reuters: Additional Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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MOSCOW: ‘ Police raid on Church of Scientology reveals spy-equipment allegedly used to blackmail parishioners – Sources ‘

#AceNewsReport – MOSCOW:Aug.18: Police sources say a raid on the Moscow headquarters of the Church of Scientology earlier this year revealed spy equipment installed in reconciliation rooms. A leak claims the recordings could allegedly be used to blackmail parishioners of the church.

Illegal audio and video recording equipment was planted in the headquarters of a religious organization situated on Taganskaya Street in downtown Moscow, says Russia’s Investigative Committee representative Yulia Ivanova.

“As part of criminal action a search was made in the premises occupied by the religious association. The search revealed special technical devices, used for surreptitious obtaining of information, being installed in the personal interview rooms,” Ivanova said, adding that investigation on the issue continues in order to determine who, if anybody, was at fault.

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#church-of-scientology, #moscow, #police-sources, #spy-equipment, #video-recording-equipment

VIDEO: RUSSIA-AZERBAIJAN: ‘ Closed door talks on Energy ‘

#AceNewsReport – Featured Post:June.13: The leaders of Russia and Turkey have held talks behind closed doors in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. They attended the opening ceremony of the first European Games, before discussing energy projects and the Ukrainian conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counteroart recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed large energy projects, such asthe construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant,and the situation in Ukraine, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov revealed. The leaders confirmed their readiness to bring bilateral trade turnover between Russia and Turkey to $US 100 billion by 2020. In 2014, trade between the two countries exceeded $31 billion.

During a photo session that preceded the talks, the presidents didn’t talk much and only exchanged opinions about the previous day’s opening ceremony. The presidents agreed the ceremony was superb and wished success to the host team of Azerbaijan.

When President Erdogan remarked that none of the EU leaders had attended the event, President Putin replied: “As EU accession candidate, Turkey represented the whole of the European Union.”

The Russian delegation included Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, head of Gazprom Aleksey Miller, head of Rosatom nuclear monopoly Sergey Kirienko and the Russian president’s senior foreign policy adviser, Yury Ushakov.

In December 2014, after opposition from the EU, Russia announced the scrapping of the South Stream gas pipeline project that would have bypassed the current routes via Ukraine. Moscow presented a new project, the Turkish Stream – a gas pipeline that will pass through Turkey.

This new 1,100-kilometer transportation route will be laid out under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey. It will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and the EU border. Europe will have to arrange a means of accessing the gas by itself.

The Turkish Stream will consist of four lines with a capacity of up to 63 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Some 16 billion will be reserved for Turkey; the rest will go to Europe when the necessary infrastructure is in place.

In 2014, Russia supplied 27.4 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey, primarily through the Blue Stream pipeline that also passes across the Black Sea. Russia and Turkey agreed earlier to increase Blue Stream capacity from 16 to 19 billion cubic meters per year.

Tension between Moscow and Ankara had arisen after Putin attended the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), which took place in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

President Erdogan had threatened to withdraw the Turkish ambassador from Russia, but the meeting in Baku apparently diffused things. President Putin congratulated Erdogan on his party’s win in Turkey’s parliamentary elections on June 7.

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#dmitry-peskov, #european-union, #greece, #member-of-parliament, #member-state-of-the-european-union, #moscow, #non-governmental-organization, #president-of-russia, #ukraine, #vladimir-putin

MOSCOW: ‘ Navalny Supporter Accused of large scale fraud released ‘

#AceNewsReport – MOSCOW: June 12: (RAPSI) – Konstantin Yankauskas, a Moscow municipal legislator who stands charged with large-scale fraud, has been released on his own recognizance, his lawyer Sergei Panchenko told RAPSI on Thursday.

Yankauskas was placed under house arrest on June 11, 2014. Panchenko said earlier that his client was suspected of illegally transferring large funds to opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s campaign during the Moscow mayoral election last year.

According to investigators, Yankauskas and businessmen Nikolai Lyaskin and Vladimir Ashurkov each transferred 1 million rubles ($18,200) to Navalny’s election account posted an online address “for web users to voluntarily refill their digital wallets, presumably to compensate for the funds that had been transferred to Navalny’s account, and to support his political activity.”

“As a result, over 10 million rubles (over $182,400) was transferred to these digital wallets. Investigators have cause to believe that Yankauskas, Lyaskin and Ashurkov embezzled these funds,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said earlier.

Entrepreneurs Nikolai Lyaskin and Vladimir Ashurkov are also under investigation, searches were conducted earlier at their premises. Searches were also conducted at Yandex.Money offices.
An arrest warrant was issued for Ashurkov who had left Russia and asked for asylum in the UK.

This is not the first time that Navalny’s supporters have been suspected of embezzling funds. Last year, the Interior Ministry announced that Yankauskas had received 5 million rubles ($91,200) via transfers to the Yandex. Money wallet, of which he embezzled 4 million rubles (about $73,000).

The ministry said that Ashurkov embezzled 2.27 million rubles ($41,400) and Lyaskin 790,000 rubles ($14,400).

Navalny ran for Moscow mayor, losing to the incumbent mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, who received 51.37% of the vote. Navalny finished second with 21.24%. The turnout was 32.03% of the electorate.

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#russia, #activism, #alexey-navalny, #federal-penitentiary-service, #moscow, #novosibirsk, #russian-opposition, #siberia, #subdivisions-of-russia, #suspended-sentence