(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

(NEW HAMPSHIRE) The FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating a company for allegedly supplying lab equipment to Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.15: The firm is linked to a Russian company, Intertech Instruments, sanctioned by the Biden administration for its alleged role in allegedly supplying Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs.

Warrants unsealed in federal court allege that officials at Intertech Corporation, a firm founded by Matthew Grodowski in 1990, “intentionally falsified shipping documents, avoided and circumvented export compliance regulations, and obfuscated end-users” as they sent scientific instruments to recipients in Russia. Moscow’s domestic intelligence and security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), was reportedly among the recipients of Intertech’s shipments, according to a search warrant application The Daily Beast…..

Prosecutors have not charged Intertech Corporation, Intertech Instruments, or company employees and officials with a crime. But in a search warrant application, federal agents claim that Intertech used a front company to disguise shipments to its Moscow-based subsidiary, Intertech Instruments. (Intertech did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. Federal prosecutors in New Hampshire declined to comment, citing a policy not to comment on investigations.)

It’s unclear what specific goods federal agents believe Intertech shipped to Russia but previous export restrictions placed on an alleged Russian subsidiary point to concerns over diversion to the Russian government’s chemical and biological weapons programs.

In March 2021, the Commerce Department added Intertech Instruments to the Bureau of Industry and Security’s entity list, which restricts exports from companies at risk of supplying nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, alongside nine Russian, three German, and one Swiss firm, because of their “proliferation activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs.” The department also included the 27th Scientific Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which the U.S. has alleged is “involved with Russian chemical weapons research and testing activities,” in its enforcement action.

The move came two days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Treasury Department announced sanctions on “senior Russian government officials and a Russian state research institute for their involvement in the poisoning of [Alexei] Navalny,” a Russian dissident and anti-corruption activist currently imprisoned in Russia for what are widely criticized as politically motivated charges.

Navalny, a long time anti-corruption activist and critic of Vladimir Putin’s government, fell gravely ill after he was poisoned with Novichok, a top secret nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union and used in assassination attempts against enemies of the Kremlin.

Russian business registration records reviewed by The Daily Beast show the Moscow-based Intertech Instruments added to the Commerce Department’s entity list shares the same website and employee email addresses as the New Hampshire-based Intertech Corporation accused of violating export laws in a search warrant application.

Intertech allegedly enjoyed a long and prosperous business relationship with Russia’s FSB. One of Intertech’s Moscow employees, Tatiana Kimstach, had even “worked in an FSB lab many years ago, maintains some of those connections, and works closely with the FSB for her current sales,” according to court documents.

Federal agents claim that Intertech officials allegedly failed to accurately identify the FSB as the ultimate end user in five shipments sent between March 2015 and September 2016. Among the alleged recipients of the company’s shipments was the FSB’s Criminalistics Institute, which provides the FSB criminal investigative arm with forensic and scientific support.

But the open source research outlet Bellingcat has also identifiedCriminalistics Institute as the cover for an altogether more sinister activity: poisoning Kremlin enemies with chemical weapons. A December 2020 Bellingcat investigation labeled the Institute as the “center of operations for the current FSB poisoning program” which has targeted dissidents like Navalny and state enemies like Sergei Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer recruited by British intelligence and poisoned by Russian operatives in 2018. Bellingcat reporters used mobile device location data to trace a dozen operatives working as part of the “clandestine sub-unit of the FSB Criminalistics Institute” to the poisoning of Navalny.

In September 2018, FBI and Commerce Department officials sent Intertech a letter informing the company that it would need a license to ship laboratory equipment to Intertech Instruments in Moscow because of the risk that scientific equipment sent there could be diverted “to chemical or biological end uses.”

After the 2018 letter, federal agents allege that Intertech “changed its business practices to circumvent and evade” the new licensing and export requirements. Transcripts of phone conversations and emails between Intertech employees detailed in court documents appear to show the company setting up a separate company, Laboratory Systems & Technology, as a cutout for continued shipments to Intertech Instruments “for the purposes of circumventing the licensing requirements,” according to federal law enforcement.

The search warrants were originally filed in January 2020. The Department of Justice requested, and received two extensions to keep the court records sealed, which expired on Tuesday.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: July.15: 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, #biden, #fbi, #fsb, #new-hampshire

(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) 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

(SELIYAROVO, Russia.) Investigation Report: Russian oil companies are illegally disposing of millions of tons of contaminated drilling waste, a practice that is wreaking environmental havoc by polluting northern rivers that drain into the Arctic Ocean, a new RFE/RL investigation has found #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.01: This story repeats itself every year,” said one source in the oil industry in Khanty-Mansi, a western Siberian region that is home to some of Russia’s biggest oil fields. The source spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fears of retribution from officials for discussing the matter:

RFE/RL Investigation: How Russian Oil Companies Illegally Dump Massive Amounts Of Toxic Waste: The investigation by RFE/RL’s Russian Service found that regulations overseeing the disposal of drilling waste are routinely flouted, with bribes being paid to inspectors, data being omitted from required paperwork, and major oil companies pressuring regulators to effectively look the other way.

May: 25, 2021 08:07 GMT

Even when government inspectors uncover violations, they regularly issue toothless orders for the companies to adhere to the law — but don’t compel them to clean up the sites.

“Inspectors come from Moscow, leave with suitcases of money, and issue orders like this: They don’t demand that you eliminate violations, remove the waste, or reclaim the polluted tundra. They say, ‘Write that you buried your shit, and continue to bury it in the same way,'” the oil-industry source told RFE/RL’s Russian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda.

0:00 0:02:47

Illegal waste dumps on state oil giant Rosneft’s fields in the Khanty-Mansi region alone could do more than $8 billion in environmental damage, according to one of three reports commissioned by the Russian Health Ministry and obtained by Radio Svoboda, which is releasing them to the public in their entirety for the first time.

Drillers use specialized fluids that include oil, water, and other chemicaladditives, depending on the soil type. The average well depth is 3,100 meters, though many are 5 kilometers or deeper.

On average, drilling produces around 560 tons of waste per 1,000 meters, according to oil-industry sources. According to data from Russia’s Energy Ministry, 28.5 million meters were drilled in Russia in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available.

That would translate into almost 16 million tons of waste, according to the estimated average given by oil-industry sources. But according to Russia’s environmental regulator, Rosprirodnadzor, only 5 million tons of this waste was generated in 2019 — a discrepancy that suggests more than 10 million tons may have been disposed of illegally.

Environmental regulations require toxic drilling waste to be either processed or disposed of at special landfills that are designed to keep the toxins from leaching into the groundwater.

At many wells across Russia, the waste is stored nearby in temporary trenches known as holding ponds or “sludge barns.”Sludge residue in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District in 2012 (Source: Regional branch of Rosprirodnadzor in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District)

In southern regions, the sludge barns are usually 4 to 5 meters in depth. In the north, however, where oil fields are located in swampy tundra and in permafrost zones, above-ground sludge barns are built and surrounded by earthen berms that can be up to 4 meters in height.

Depending on the size and depth of a well, multiple holding ponds for a single installation can occupy a combined area of up to 2,500 square meters.

According to regulations, the walls and the bottom of the sludge pits are supposed to be insulated to prevent toxic substances from leaching into groundwater and soil. But no regulatory agency, either on the regional or the federal level, inspects the integrity of the ponds or the insulation materials.

“There is very little data on the study of drilling waste,” said Ivan Blokov, director of the Department for Programs, Research, and Expertise at Greenpeace Russia. ”But there is clear data on how the oil is poured out. Salinization of soils, oppression of plants, changes in the species composition of flora and fauna.”

“If it were one sludge barn, there would be nothing terrible about it. The trouble is that there are a lot of them,” Blokov told RFE/RL. “And we can see how much oil the northern rivers carry into the Arctic Ocean.”

New Technologies

Soviet oil drillers tried to incorporate Western technologies in the 1980s, but they were expensive, said Oleg Mitvol, a former deputy chief of Rosprirodnadzor. Instead, sludge was buried next to the wells.

In 1998, Russia adopted a law requiring waste to be processed and neutralized, or stored at special landfills.

According to Yevgenia Kiselyova, who worked in the Khanty-Mansi regional division of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, some oil companies, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Yukos, built properly designed holding ponds in the late 1990s; some of them are still functioning.

However, she said, “the rest of the landfills were just imitations, provided there were operating permits.”

As of 2015, Kiselyova said, there were an estimated 10,000 holding ponds in the Khanty-Mansi region and 300 new ones appeared every year.

One official in the region’s oil sector, who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity, said oil companies frequently undercount their drilling sites and sludge barns. That assertion is supported by a 2017 inspection of Rosneft by Rosprirodnadzor, which found that on just one of the state oil giant’s fields, it operated 34 well pads without the necessary permissions.

An oil-industry source who works in the Khanty-Mansi region told Radio Svoboda on condition of anonymity that there was no regulation whatsoever of illegally constructed well pads.

WATCH: A drilling-waste processing facility around 50 kilometers from the city of Nizhnevartovsk in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District. (Source: Radio Svoboda)

Other oil-producing countries try to minimize environmental damage from drilling waste by separating the soil from the hazardous liquids. A common technique is to burn off the flammable components of the drilling waste. But that is energy intensive and releases polluting emissions into the atmosphere.

Sludge is burned in Russia as well, but mostly that happens with waste collected from oil spills.

Other technologies in use include a German-designed process that uses low pressures to evaporate liquids, and results in relatively harmless output. Another, developed in Norway, is “thermal decomposition,” in which oil products are separated from the sludge and can even be processed further into fuel oil.

Fictitious Waste Disposal

The massive and systematic burial of drilling waste in Russia is also carried out under the guise of recycling.

Since 2000, Russian drillers have been allowed to use other “mixed technologies” to mitigate the environmental damage from drilling waste.

In theory, the waste is mixed with sand, cement, and a specialized foam product to create a “building material” that supposedly can be used for construction or other industrial purposes. The process involves simply mixing the ingredients together in a trench to “lock up” the toxic materials into an inert form that prevents them from leaching into the environment.

In reality, however, this technique exists largely on paper.

Drillers just cover the waste with soil, costing them a comparative pittance — 2,600 to 3,000 rubles ($35-$40) per cubic meter of sludge.

WATCH: Sludge barns near the shores of the Vakh River in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District in western Siberia. (Source: Radio Svoboda)

Even if drillers were using the “mixed technologies” process instead of just covering drilling waste with dirt, the resulting compound would not meet environmental standards.

In May 2010, recycled building material known by the commercial name “burolit” failed testing standards imposed by another regulator responsible for industrial quality-control, Rostekhnadzor.

The tests determined that oil products were found in the material at concentrations 12 times higher than permissible for the general environment, and some of the ingredients used turned out to be carcinogens.

Rostekhnadzor experts also concluded in 2010 that “burolit” was unusable for road construction, and that it was not even suitable to help construct new sludge barns.

Despite that fact, Rostekhnadzor later gave a one-year approval for the substance; in 2015, that approval was granted a second time.

An excavator mixes drilling waste, purportedly to produce “construction material,” on the territory of the Priobskoye oil field in 2010. (Source: Regional branch of Rosprirodnadzor in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District)
An excavator mixes drilling waste, purportedly to produce “construction material,” on the territory of the Priobskoye oil field in 2010. (Source: Regional branch of Rosprirodnadzor in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District)

In the early 2000s, there were attempts — on paper, at least — to recycle drilling waste into bricks for use in construction. In the Khanty-Mansi region, about 2,800 kilometers northeast of Moscow, Radio Svoboda visited one of the largest oil fields in the western Siberian region, where a facility supposedly producing these bricks was to have been installed.

Instead, however, the toxic waste was simply buried at the site.

Legal documents obtained by RFE/RL showed ownership of the plot, which dated back to a 2005 lease, was hidden behind a series of shell companies.WATCH: Sludge barns on the territory of Rosneft-controlled Priobskoye oil field, where a facility recycling drilling waste into bricks was supposedly to be built. 

After several inspections, Rosprirodnadzor won a series of court cases ordering the companies to remove the buried waste. However, the murky ownership of the land allowed the owners to drag out the legal process for nearly a decade. Last year, an arbitration court ordered one of the companies to pay a 3.6 billion ruble ($49 million) fine.

However, that company and the two others affiliated with it have all declared bankruptcy.

The sludge dumps at issue in those cases are located on Rosneft’s 5,400-square-kilometer Priobskoye oil field. A court ruled that only the bankrupt companies — not Rosneft — were liable for the pollution.Sludge barns on the territory of Rosneft-controlled Priobskoye oil field, where a facility recycling drilling waste into bricks was supposedly to be built.

Meanwhile, the buried waste remains in the ground, approximately 3.5 kilometers from the Ob, one of the world’s longest rivers, which drains into the Arctic Ocean.

In northern Russia, nearly all oil production takes place in protected watersheds, which are set up to keep pollutants out of waterways.

A 2019 report by the national meteorological monitoring agency, Rosgidromet, found that as much as 17,500 tons of petroleum products flowed from the Ob into the Kara Sea, an extension of the Arctic Ocean, that year. One federally commissioned report found that as many as 90 percent of fish in the Ob Basin have deformations and chronic dysfunctions of the body, which lead to mutation and extinction of species.

Reclaimed Lands

In Russia, the process for mitigating environmental damage from toxic drilling waste also includes a system for reclaiming land that has been used temporarily, and then theoretically cleaned up and returned to its natural state. Drillers are obliged by law to carry out reclamation.

In Khanty-Mansi, however, a commission appointed by local authorities oversees the approval process for accepting and then redistributing the reclaimed land to, for example, timber farmers; in Yamalo-Nenets, further north, reindeer herders are frequently given such land.

Beginning in 2010, these commissions were required to involve the participation of Rosprirodnadzor, a nod to rising concerns about the growth of unregulated sludge barns and improper drilling-waste disposal. Kiselyova’s department stopped signing land permits, and an increased number of fines and administrative violations were handed out for environmental violations.

In 2011, the regional natural resources agency appealed to the region’s governor, as well as federal agencies, saying the situation with drilling waste in the region was catastrophic and asking for support in developing better legal and regulatory measures.

The following year, however, the CEOs of some of Russia’s most powerful oil and gas companies co-signed a letter to then-Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, complaining that the excessive regulations on sludge and disposal would result in a slowdown in production — and, they asserted, social turmoil.

The final page of the September 2012 letter, signed by top Russian oil-company executives, to then-Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich complaining about excessive regulations on sludge disposal.
The final page of the September 2012 letter, signed by top Russian oil-company executives, to then-Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich complaining about excessive regulations on sludge disposal.

Later that year, the regional branch of Rosprirodnadzor, the environmental regulator, began to actively impede the work of Kiselyova’s department, she said.

She said her superiors began to close administrative cases her department had opened against oil and drilling companies. They also began to conduct inspections targeting Kiselyova herself and her subordinates for alleged impropriety, she said.

Kiselyova wrote a letter to President Vladimir Putin in 2014 stating that the reclamation process was regularly abused or ignored.

“No one has actually seen any results of such forest reclamation, forest restoration, or forest ecosystem in its diversity,” she wrote.

She took one company subsidiary to court to force it to comply with anti-sludge-dumping regulations, after which she said her car was shot up with an air gun and her tires slashed. She was subsequently fired.

Kiselyova fought her firing three times; three times a court upheld her dismissal.

Tatyana Kuznetsova, the head of Rosprirodnadzor’s department overseeing waste disposal, told Radio Svoboda that the agency was no longer involved in the land-reclamation commissions.

Buried Report On Buried Waste

In the spring of 2018, a scandal bubbled up in the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets regions after the Russian media outlet RBK obtained a letter from a Russian Health Ministry analytical center about the storage and disposal of drilling waste in the two regions.

The letter, addressed to the then-head of Rosprirodnadzor, Artyom Sidorov, discussed illegal dumps of supposedly recycled drilling waste that had been discovered in both regions on fields operated by Rosneft, LUKoil, and other oil companies. It was sent by the then-acting head of the Health Ministry’s Center for Strategic Planning and Management of Biological Risks, which had conducted three separate studies over a two-year period at the ministry’s behest.

On Rosneft oil fields in the Khanty-Mansi region alone these dumps totaled 20 million cubic meters, with estimated ecological damage that could total more than $8 billion, according to the letter.

The head of Rosprirodnadzor’s regional branch in Khanty-Mansi was subsequently fired, as was Sidorov, the agency’s federal chief. But the scandal largely fizzled out.

Rosneft told RBK that the analytical center did not have the authority to conduct inspections and that the company adhered to environmental laws in its disposal of drilling waste. LUKoil told the newspaper that it worked with licensed contractors that dispose of drilling waste in line with government regulations.

And the analytical center’s full studies were never released to the public — until now.

Radio Svoboda has obtained copies of the three reports — totaling 630 pages that are not available online — and is releasing them in their entirety as part of this investigation. Radio Svoboda managed to review the reports on a computer terminal and photograph each individual page, as it was not permitted to print them out or download them.

Below are several key takeaways from the reports, based on this review:

  • Almost without exception, rivers and other bodies of water in the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets regions are polluted. In some, the content of petroleum products is between five and 10 times above the maximum allowable limit, while the level of phenolic compounds is between 10 and 18 times the limit.
  • While the main environmental damage from oil-production is linked to emissions, drilling waste has a damaging effect on the demographic situation and the health of the population in Russia’s oil-producing regions, the authors of one report wrote. “The incidence of neoplasms, congenital malformations, and diseases of the blood and the immune system among the population living in oil-producing regions is 1.5 to five times higher than those in areas where there are no oil-production facilities,” they wrote.
  • Not a single technology for drilling-sludge processing was given a positive assessment by state environmental experts, one of the reports states. Surgutneftegaz, Russia’s fourth-largest oil producer, had used the “burolit mix” technique in the seven years prior to the report “despite the fact that the method…received a negative assessment” from state environmental experts, it states.
  • The processing of drilling sludge is conducted not by the oil companies themselves but by subcontractors. “There are so many inconsistencies in the legislation that today it is virtually impossible to bring claims against oil-producing companies,” one report states, referring to the part of the Rosneft field where drilling waste was supposedly to be recycled into bricks.
  • The recycled drilling-waste product known by the name burolit loses its commercial properties almost immediately, making it essentially waste but in a much larger volume than before the start of the process. “The disposal sites for this waste are becoming unauthorized dumps,” the authors wrote.
  • The reclamation of sludge barns is a “nominal event,” one report states, suggesting it is something that does not actually take place, and adding that “oil companies are extremely inattentive to this part of their activities.”

Reached by Radio Svoboda for comment, the Russian Health Ministry directed inquiries to the Center for Strategic Planning and Management of Biological Risks, which compiled the reports. The center said it was no longer conducting such studies, while the Health Ministry did not respond to a follow-up inquiry.

Kuznetsova, the head of Rosprirodnadzor’s waste-disposal department, told Radio Svoboda that she was not aware of the Health Ministry studies and therefore could not comment.

Asked about the discrepancy between the official figure of 5 million tons of drilling waste in 2019 and the estimated 16 million tons based on Radio Svoboda’s discussions with oil-industry sources, Kuznetsova suggested the official figure is more accurate.

She confirmed, however, that the responsibility of monitoring and reporting the disposal of drilling waste lies with the oil companies themselves, which should determine the toxicity classification with the help of private laboratories and carry out the disposal based on the results.

Only spot inspections can reveal whether oil companies are following this protocol.

Rosneft, LUKoil, and Surgutneftegaz did not respond to requests for comment.

Adapted and translated from the original Russian by Mike Eckel and Carl Schreck

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

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Jun.01: 2021:

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#russia, #drilling, #oil, #russian, #waste

(BRUSSELS) #Belarus Sanctions Report: EU has agreedto impose fresh sanctions including moves to seal off the bloc’s airspace to Belarusian airlines, amid strong Western condemnation over the forced diversion of a commercial airliner on a flight between two EU member states to arrest an opposition journalist #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.29: The Ryanair flight was forced to land on May 23 in Minsk, where 26-year-old Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend were detained. The EU demanded their immediate release, with some leaders calling the incident “state hijacking.”

BRUSSELS: EU Leaders Agree On Belarus Sanctions @acenewsservices After Flight Diversion, Arrest Of Journalist: Following a summit in Brussels on May 24, the bloc instructed officials to “adopt necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports,” European Council President Charles Michel’s spokesman Barend Leyts said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The summit’s conclusions came as Pratasevich, in a video released on Belarusian state TV on May 24, said he was “confessing” to charges of being behind civil disturbances, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“I can say that I have no health problems…. I continue cooperating with investigators and am confessing to having organized mass unrest in the city of Minsk,” he says in the video, in which he appears to have black marks on his forehead. The Belarusian opposition and Pratasevich’s allies dismissed the comments as made under duress.

Dmitry Pratasevich, the detained Belarusian journalist’s father, told RFE/RL the family was “very worried about what is happening to our son.” Pratasevich’s parents said they feared their son, who has lived in Lithuania and Poland since he fled a brutal crackdown against the opposition in Belarus, would be tortured.

Father Of Journalist Detained In 'Air Piracy' Incident Says Belarus Must Have Had Outside Help

0:00 0:03:23

In the statement adopted at the summit, the leaders said the EU “demands the immediate release” of Pratasevich and his girlfriend and called on the European Council to adopt additional sanctions on Belarusian persons and entities.

Leaders also urged the bloc’s airlines to avoid Belarus’s airspace and called on the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to urgently investigate the incident, which it called “unprecedented and unacceptable.” The UN agency said its 36 diplomatic representatives will meet on May 27 to discuss Belarus’s actions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also backed calls for an independent investigation into the plane diversion.

The EU also voiced its solidarity with member Latvia, which announced it was expelling all Belarusian diplomats, including the Belarusian ambassador, in a tit-for-tat measure.

Earlier on May 24, Belarus expelled Latvia’s ambassador to Minsk and all the embassy’s employees apart from one staff member. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that move after the Latvia-based airBaltic joined other airlines that are avoiding Belarus airspace.

Polish national carrier LOT, Hungarian airline Wizzair, Scandinavian airline SAS, and Dutch airline KLM were among airliners announcing a halt to using Belarus’s airspace.

Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis announced that all flights to and from Lithuanian airports must avoid Belarusian airspace from midnight GMT on May 25.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would suspend the air permit that allows flights in British airspace by the Belarus’s national airline, Belavia — a move that effectively blocks it from using Britain’s transit hub at Heathrow International Airport. Raab also said British authorities are instructing British airlines to cease all of their flights over Belarusian airspace.

Raab told Parliament that Belarus “must be held to account for such reckless and dangerous behavior.”

“The scenario as reported is a shocking assault on civil aviation and an assault on international law,” he said. “It represents a danger to civilian flights everywhere.”

The diversion of the flight and the detention of Pratasevich has also been met by criticism from the United States, which has pledged to coordinate a response with its European allies.

Suddenly, Belarus and its strongman leader, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, are top of the EU agenda again after his regime forced an EU-registered plane to land in Minsk. (file photo)

What Now For Brussels And Belarus After Forced Landing Of EU Flight?

The Ryanair flight from Athens to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, was diverted on the orders of Belarusian strongman leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka as it was flying through Belarusian airspace.

Belarusian authorities said the flight to Vilnius was diverted because of a bomb threat from Hamas, a claim the Palestinian militant group rejected.

Rolandas Kiskis, the Lithuanian chief of criminal police, said five of the 126 passengers who boarded the Ryanair flight in Athens did not reach Vilnius, though he would not elaborate.

But Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said the airline believes “there were some [Belarusian security agency] KGB agents offloaded at the airport as well.”

0:00 0:01:57

Although the Ryanair flight was closer to Vilnius when it was intercepted, Minsk claims the diversion and forced landing with a MiG-29 fighter jet escort was necessary because Belarusian authorities were informed there was a bomb on the plane. No explosive device was found.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed that explanation as “completely implausible.”

“We have seen a forced landing that led to the arrest,” Merkel said on May 24 ahead of the summit. “All other explanations for the landing of this Ryanair flight are completely implausible.”

“This was effectively aviation piracy, state sponsored,” Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said. Ryanair is headquartered in Dublin.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg denounced the diversion as a “serious and dangerous incident.” NATO officials say the military alliance will discuss the matter on May 25.

Many European leaders already have called for expanded sanctions against the regime of Lukashenka, who has led a sometimes violent and deadly crackdown on dissent in his country since mass protests broke over the disputed results of last August’s presidential election.

Russia accused the West of hypocrisy, reiterating accusations that in 2013 a flight from Moscow carrying then-Bolivian President Evo Morales had been diverted to Austria after reports that fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden might be on board.

Speaking to reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t say if the Belarusian authorities had contacted Russia about the incident.

Russia and Belarus have close political, economic and military ties, and Lukashenka has relied on Moscow’s support amid Western sanctions.

Raman Pratasevich stands in a bus at the airport in Minsk after his plane was diverted on May 23.

Who Is Raman Pratasevich, And Why Is Belarus Targeting Him?

The EU has already imposed three rounds of sanctions against Belarus and was preparing a fourth round before the Ryanair event, including further asset freezes and visa bans on Belarusian officials and entities amid the ongoing crackdown on the opposition and pro-democracy protesters.

Belarus has been rocked by protests since Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the landslide winner of a presidential election in August 2020 that the West and opposition deem fraudulent.

Since then, more than 30,000 people have been detained, hundreds beaten or tortured, and journalists targeted in the crackdown by Lukashenka.

The opposition says Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania after the election due to concerns about her safety, was the true winner of the vote.

Pratasevich was a key administrator of the Telegram channel Nexta Live, which has been covering the protests that broke out in Belarus following the disputed presidential election.

Belarusian authorities in November 2020 launched investigations into Pratasevich and a colleague, Stsyapan Putsila, on suspicion of the organization of mass disorder, disruption of social order, and inciting social hatred.

Belarusian Journalist Seized After Ryanair Jet 'Forcibly' Diverted To Minsk

0:00 0:01:48

Describing Pratasevich as a high-profile opponent of Lukashenka, Tsikhanouskaya told Sky News on May 24 that she was “really afraid not only for his freedom, but for his life.

Pratasevich spoke to Current Time from an undisclosed location in Poland on November 19, 2020, after Belarusian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

“It seems to me that the [state] power now considers nearly any expression of a different opinion in general to be a crime,” Pratasevich said, saying this was clear from the number of people who were being detained. Current Time is a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

In October 2020, a court in Minsk designated the Nexta Live channel and its logo as extremist and instructed the Information Ministry to restrict access to information resources using the name and logo of the Telegram channel, as well as their distribution in the Belarusian segment of the Internet.

Media in Belarus have been targeted by the Lukashenka government in the ongoing crackdown. The watchdog Reporters Without Borders has designated Belarus as the most dangerous spot in Europe for journalists.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, Reuters, AP, and AFP

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May29: 2021:

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#russia, #belarus, #brussels, #sanctions

(VIENNA) JCPOA REPORT: Iran & China Meeting was held in the residence of Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi’s residence discuss Nuclear Deal #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.15: Meetings and consultations among the Iranian and the G4+1 countries in the framework of trilateral, bilateral and multilateral meetings continue in Vienna aimed at contributing to the faster resolving of the issue:

TEHRAN: May 14, IRNA – Head of the Iranian and Chinese delegations to Vienna reviewed important issues regarding Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): Earlier, heads of diplomatic delegations of Iran, Russia and China to the JCPOA Joint Commission held a trilateral meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.

Iran, China discuss JCPOA in Vienna
JCPOA REPORT:

May 14, 2021

On Tuesday, the head of the Iranian delegation Abbas Araghchi had a meeting with Enrique Mora, the deputy secretary general of the EU foreign relations office and the heads of the three EU delegations in the negotiations.

9376**2050

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.15: 2021:

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#russia, #china, #iran, #jcpoa, #vienna

(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, Russia.) JUST IN: At least 11-people, eight of them children, have been killed by gunfire at a school in the Russian city of Kazan, reports say #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.11: Reports say two people opened fire and a 17-year-old boy is said to have been detained:

RUSSIA: At least eleven dead after shooting at Russian school: A teacher also died in the incident 820km (510 miles) east of Moscow.

9 minutes ago

Breaking News image
Breaking Report:

An explosion was also heard, reports say, quoting emergency services. Kazan is in the mainly Muslim republic of Tatarstan.

Russia’s state RIA Novosti news agency earlier reported 11 people were killed in the school shooting, citing local emergency officials.

There was no way to immediately reconcile the differing death tolls.

It was not immediately clear what the motive for the attack was.

Video footage shared on social media showed emergency service vehicles parked outside the school, with people running towards the building. Other videos showed broken windows with debris outside.

Police have opened a criminal investigation into the incident.

While school shootings are relatively rare in Russia, there have been several violent attacks on schools in recent years, mostly carried out by students.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

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

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(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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(WASHINGTON) Special Report: Ten years after they found and killed Osama bin Laden, U.S. Navy SEALs are undergoing a major transition to improve leadership and expand their commando capabilities to better battle threats from global powers like China and Russia #AceNewesDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.29: The new plan cuts the number of SEAL platoons by as much as 30% and increases their size to make the teams more lethal and able to counter sophisticated maritime and undersea adversaries. And there will be a new, intensive screening process for the Navy’s elite warriors, to get higher-quality leaders after scandals that rocked the force and involved charges of murder, sexual assault and drug use.

EXCLUSIVE: Navy SEALs to shift from counterterrorism to global threats: ‘Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III, top commander for the SEALs, laid out his plans in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. He said the Navy’s special operations forces have been focused on counterterrorism operations but now must begin to evolve beyond those missions. For the past two decades, many have been fighting in the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan. Now they are focused on going back to sea’

That decision reflects the broader Pentagon strategy to prioritize China and Russia, which are rapidly growing their militaries and trying to expand their influence around the globe. U.S. defense leaders believe that two decades of war against militants and extremists have drained resources, causing America to lose ground against Moscow and Beijing.

The counterterrorism fight had its benefits, allowing the SEALs to sharpen their skills in developing intelligence networks and finding and hitting targets, said Howard, who heads Naval Special Warfare Command, which includes the SEALs and the special warfare combatant-craft crewmen. “Many of these things are transferable, but now we need to put pressure on ourselves to operate against peer threats.”

As a result, Howard is adding personnel to the SEAL platoons to beef up capabilities in cyber and electronic warfare and unmanned systems, honing their skills to collect intelligence and deceive and defeat the enemy.

“We are putting pressure on ourselves to evolve and understand our gaps in capability and what our true survivability is against these threats” posed by global competitors, he said.

Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said the goal is to better integrate the SEALs into the Navy’s missions at sea.

“As the Navy Special Warfare community returns more and more to its maritime roots, their increased integration across the Fleet — above, under, and on the sea — will unequivocally enhance our unique maritime capabilities to help us compete and win against any adversary,” Gilday said in a statement to the AP. 

Increasing the size of the SEAL platoons will add high-tech capabilities. And decreasing the number of units will allow Howard to rid the force of toxic leaders and be more selective in choosing commanders. That decision is a direct result of the erosion in character that Navy officials have seen within the force.

In recent years, SEALs have been involved in a number of high-profile scandals. One of the most well-known was the arrest of Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher on war crimes charges that included murder of an Islamic State militant captive and attempted murder in the shootings of civilians during a 2017 deployment to Iraq. 

Gallagher was acquitted of all charges except one, posing in photos with the dead captive. A jury recommended his rank be reduced, cutting his pension and benefits as he was about to retire. But President Donald Trump intervened and ordered that Gallagher be allowed to retire without losing his SEAL status.

More recently, a SEAL team platoon was pulled out of Iraq in 2019 amid allegations of sexual assault. Members of SEAL Team 10 were involved in cocaine use and tampering with drug tests. And Navy SEAL Adam Matthews was sentenced to a year in military prison for his role in the 2017 hazing-related death of an Army Green Beret in Africa.

Navy leaders also chafed as Navy SEALs broke away from their “quiet professional” ethos, publicizing their participation in the raid into Pakistan that killed bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader responsible for plotting the 9/11 attacks. Two SEALs wrote books about the mission, prompting a rebuke form the Naval Special Warfare commander at the time, Rear Adm. Brian Losey.

“A critical tenant of our ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions,’” he said.

Since taking over last September, Howard reached out to the Army and the Marine Corps for ideas on how to better screen his commando forces and assess them as they move through the ranks. Almost immediately, he instituted a “double blind” process for candidate interviews that was being used by the Army, so that neither side is influenced by actually seeing the other.

In addition, he is intensifying the screening process with more psychological assessments to evaluate personality traits. And he is expanding other assessments done by the subordinates and peers of candidates up for review. The increased scrutiny, said Howard, will extend through all the ranks and will help leaders get a better understanding of each service member’s character. The process, he said, will provide more feedback for individuals so they can improve and will also help top leaders pair commanders with the right teams.

In some cases, Howard said, sailors who already had gone through the initial SEAL screening had to do it again under the new process. Not all did as well the second time.

“We learned that some of the officers that scored in the midrange are officers that I thought would have scored much higher,” he said.

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Apr.29: 2021:

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#russia, #china, #navy-seals, #special-report, #washington

(BEIJING) JUST IN: A Siberian tiger has pounced on a field worker and attacked a car in a Chinese village near the country’s border with Russia #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.27: The male juvenile tiger was first spotted roaming close to Linhu village in Heilongjiang province on Friday, according to Chinese media:

Siberian tiger attacks farm worker and car in Chinese village: ‘The tiger then attacked Wang Xue’s car as she drove into the area to pick up a relative’

Posted 3h ago, updated 2h ago

Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 18 seconds
The juvenile Siberian tiger caused panic in Chinese village

“It turned in the direction of two villagers working in the field,” Ms Wang told state media.

“I shouted at them to run, but the tiger then ran straight in my direction.”

“In two or three seconds, it ran over and pounced on my car, clawing at it with its paws.”

The car’s exterior was heavily scratched and the back passenger window shattered.

“I was terrified and am still suffering from heart issues,” Ms Wang said.

Neither of the two passengers inside the car were hurt.

Siberian tiger aerial
There are estimated to be fewer than 500 Siberian tigers left in the wild due to poaching.()

Video footage also showed the tiger pouncing on a villager working in the field before running off.

The report said the worker suffered minor injuries.

Police managed to eventually corner and subdue the animal with tranquilliser darts.

According to a report from the Heilongjiang Forestry Bureau on Monday, the big cat was put into a 45-day disease quarantine at the Hengdaohezi Feline Breeding Centre in Mudanjiang city.

Siberian tigers are native to Russia and parts of north-eastern China.

There are estimated to be fewer than 500 left in the wild due to poaching, with fewer than 30 thought to be in China, according to the state newspaper Global Times.

Conservationists in China and Russia have made efforts to protect the species, but it is rare for tigers to enter human settlements.

AFP

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

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#russia, #beijing, #china, #siberian, #tiger

(HAMPSHIRE, U.K) Coroners Court Report: A man with a long history of mental illness shot a children’s author after becoming wrongly convinced he was part of a Russian plot to spread #COVID19, an inquest has heard #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: The coroner recorded a conclusion that Mr Nash was unlawfully killed: Mr Nash wrote and illustrated children’s books, including The Winter Wild:

James Nash killing: Gunman ‘accused author of Russia #COVID19 plot’ he was attacked in his garden in Upper Enham, Hampshire, on 5 August and died three days later’ & the gunman, Alex Sartain, died in a motorbike crash while being pursued by police on the same day according to BBC News

18 minutes ago

James Nash
James Nash was described as a “kind-hearted individual and a proactive parish councillor”

Hampshire Coroner’s Court was told Mr Sartain’s mental health problems dated back to 2008 and his father had tried to raise concerns with a GP in June last year but “only got as far as the receptionist”.

OtherAlex Sartain used a homemade shotgun during the attack

John Sartain said his son had become paranoid that Mr Nash, his next-door neighbour, was trying to control him. 

The inquest was told Mr Sartain, 34, had been heard “muttering” in the days before the attack about Mr Nash working for Russian president Vladimir Putin and being involved in a conspiracy to “spread Covid”.

The hearing was told that Mr Sartain also believed he was being tracked by the “CIA, MI6 and SO19”.

On the day of the attack, Mr Nash was working in his front garden when raised voices were heard by his wife Sarah Nash – who had been on a video call indoors – followed by a bang. 

“As soon as I opened the front door I could see a man in full black leathers stamping on the face of my husband who was flat out on his back,” Mrs Nash said. 

The author had managed to deflect the gunshot with his hand but died from head injuries, the inquest heard.Parts of Upper Enham were cordoned off following the shooting

Mr Sartain had previously been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and was under the care of a community mental health team until April last year, it was heard.

Coroner Jason Pegg said a letter discharging him into the care of a GP was sent by the community mental health team to the Adelaide Medical Centre in Andover.

“That discharge letter… was never seen by the GP. Instead the letter was received by the administration staff at the practice and never passed on as perhaps it should have been,” he added.

The coroner added that it “cannot be ascertained” whether Mr Sartain would have been detained in June if his father’s concerns had been passed on by the GP’s receptionist. 

He said he would not be taking the matter further as a new partnership was now running the surgery and practices had changed.

An inquest into the death of Mr Sartain will be held on Wednesday. 

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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

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#russia, #coroners, #hampshire

(TEHRAN) Iran & Russia Report: Holding of high-level talks on bilateral ties, the region, and Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers during Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Tehran on Tuesday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.19: In a meeting with Lavrov, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran wishes to expand regional cooperation with Russia on Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions.

Iran and Russia engage in high-level talks, discuss combating US interventions in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen: Iran which has been boasting of its military might, insisting that the US lift sanctions. It has signed a 25-year strategic deal with China, and is now engaging in high-level talks with Russia “in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions.” America is losing its global influence, with results that could be catastrophic.

“Iran and Russia discuss ties, the Middle East, and nuclear deal,” by Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera, April 13, 2021:

He also called for more defence and military cooperation,especially as a United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Iran ended in October 2020.

“Opening the Zionist regime’s foothold to the Persian Gulf region as a destabilising and tension-creating element will be a dangerous act,” Rouhani said of Israel, which Iran has accused of orchestrating “nuclear terrorism” on its facilities at Natanz on Sunday.

The president further said Iran and Russia should also boost bilateral economic activity, especially using private companies, in the oil, energy, transportation, and nuclear sectors.

He called on Russia to accelerate the process of delivering more doses of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 to Iran and said Iran is eager to finalise a plan to establish a joint vaccine manufacturing line with Russia.

Iran has so far received more than half a million doses of the vaccine, and has had difficulty in administering it as the first and second doses of Sputnik V – that need to be injected 21 days apart – are different.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, was also a main topic of talks as multilateral talks in Vienna to restore the deal the US abandoned in 2018 will continue on Wednesday.

Rouhani said Iran wants conditions of the landmark accord to be restored to what they were in 2015 when it was originally signed.

“We are neither willing to accept anything less nor wish to achieve anything more,” the president said.

Lavrov told Rouhani that Russia is of the same opinion as Iran on the fact the US must come back into full compliance with the JCPOA, and that trying to add new conditions to the deal would not be acceptable, according to the president’s website….

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Apr.19: 2021:

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#russia, #china, #iran, #nuclear-deal, #tehran

(CZECH REPUBLIC) JUST IN: Accuses Russian intelligence of being involved in a 2014 explosion at a military ammunition warehouse #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Aug.18: Czech intelligence agencies provided clear evidence about the involvement of the officials in the blast that killed two people, Babis said:

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian embassy staff: The Czech Republic is to expel 18 Russian diplomats over links to an ammunition depot explosion in 2014, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said according to DW.

April 18, 2021

22:25, 17 April 2021 – 112UA

He added that the Czech Republic is a sovereign state and must react upon its own intelligence.

Meanwhile, Czech police said they were searching for two individuals in connection with the investigation.

Several explosions shook the Vrbetice ammunition factory, southeast of Prague, on October 16, 2014.

Ukraine expels a senior diplomat from the Russian embassy in Kyiv. He must leave Ukrainian territory within 72 hours starting from April 19. This is stated in the message of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The corresponding decision was made in connection with the expulsion of the Ukrainian consul in St. Petersburg, Oleksandr Sosonyuk.

“In response to this provocation, the senior diplomat of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv must leave the territory of Ukraine within 72 hours starting from April 19,” the message says.

The diplomatic department of Ukraine expressed a strong protest over the detention of the Ukrainian consul in St. Petersburg.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Apr.18: 2021:

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#russia, #czech-republic

(ROME, Italy.) JUST IN: An Italian navy officer has been arrested while being caught in the act of handing secret documents to a Russian military official, police say #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.02: The men were stopped by military police on suspicion of serious crimes relating to espionage and state security: The Russian, who reportedly worked at the Russian embassy in Italy, is expected to be expelled:

‘Italian officer ‘caught selling secrets to Russia’ the Russian ambassador Sergey Razov has been summoned to the foreign ministry in Rome’

March 31, 2021

The carabinieri del Ros special operations group swooped on the men in Rome on Tuesday evening “during a clandestine meeting between the two, caught immediately after the transfer of a document by the Italian officer in exchange for a sum of money”, a police statement said.

The Italian is described as being the captain of a frigate and the Russian officer’s diplomatic status is currently being assessed.

The Russian embassy confirmed the involvement of a military attaché official but said any further comment was inappropriate, adding that it hoped the incident would not affect relations, Russia’s Ria news agency reported.

Italy’s Corriere website reports that papers seized in the naval officer’s flat suggest he may have passed on Nato secrets, thereby placing other countries’ national security at risk.

Russian decline in relations with Nato

Police moved in following a lengthy operation by Italy’s Aisi domestic intelligence agency. Italian media are describing the incident as the most serious since the Cold War.

Relations between Moscow and Nato have deteriorated since Russia seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014. The poisoning of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, now being held in a Russian penal colony, has also led to a decline.

Last week, Nato member Bulgaria expelled two Russian diplomats for “intelligence activity incompatible with diplomatic relations”.

Italian fighter planes were involved in a Nato operation to intercept Russian planes over the Baltic Sea on Monday.

(c) BBC.Com/

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

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#russia, #italy, #navy, #rome, #secrets

(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

(WASHINGTON) State Dept Report: The U.S joins E.U in condemning and responding to the Russian Federation’s use of a chemical weapon in the attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny in August 2020 and his subsequent imprisonment in January 2021 #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.24: The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences. Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms:

Imposing Sanctions on Russia for the Poisoning and Imprisonment of Aleksey Navalny: ‘Whitehouse said they share the EU’s concerns regarding Russia’s deepening authoritarianism and welcome the EU’s determination to impose sanctions on Russia under its new global human rights authorities’

The United States has consistently characterized the legal offensive against Mr. Navalny as politically motivated, an assessment shared by our G7 partners and the European Court of Human Rights.  We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny.

In today’s actions, the Department of State, under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, will expand existing sanctions first imposed on Russia after its 2018 chemical weapon attack against Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom, three years ago this week.  The Department of State has also implemented measures under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators, as well as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against multiple Russian individuals and entities associated with the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons program and defense and intelligence sectors.  In addition, the Department will amend Section 126.1 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to include Russia in the list of countries subject to a policy of denial for exports of defense articles and defense services, with certain exceptions for exports to Russia in support of government space cooperation.  Exports in support of commercial space cooperation, however, will be restricted following a six-month transition period.

The Department of the Treasury is designating  seven Russian government officials, five of whom were previously designated by the EU and UK for their role in Navalny’s poisoning and two whom the EU designated in response to Mr. Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment.  The Department of Commerce is adding 14 entities to the Entity List based on their proliferation activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs and chemical weapons activities.

For more information on today’s action, please see the Department of State’s fact sheet.

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

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#russia, #eu, #navalny, #state-dept, #washington

(WASHINGTON) Justice Dept Report: A Russian national pleaded guilty in federal court today for conspiring to travel to the United States to recruit an employee of a Nevada company into a scheme to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.19: As part of the conspiracy, Kriuchkov traveled from Russia to California through New York. On numerous occasions between Aug. 1, 2020, and Aug. 21, 2020, Kriuchkov traveled from California to Nevada in an attempt to entice the employee to participate in this hacking scheme, offering to pay the employee with Bitcoin if the employee transmitted the malware. After meeting with Kriuchkov, the employee reported his conduct to the victim company, which promptly contacted the FBI. The FBI then thwarted the scheme:

Russian National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Introduce Malware into a U.S. Company’s Computer Network: ‘Defendant’s attempt to recruit employee to transmit malware to exfiltrate data and extort company thwarted by FBI: ‘According to court documents and admissions made in court, from July 15, 2020, to Aug. 22, 2020, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, conspired with others to recruit an employee of a large U.S. company to transmit malware provided by the conspirators into the company’s computer network. Once the malware was installed, Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators would use it to exfiltrate data from the company’s computer network and then extort the company by threatening to disclose the data’

“The swift response of the company and the FBI prevented a major exfiltration of the victim company’s data and stopped the extortion scheme at its inception,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This case highlights the importance of companies coming forward to law enforcement, and the positive results when they do so.”

“This case highlights our office’s commitment to protecting trade secrets and other confidential information belonging to U.S. businesses — which is becoming even more important each day as Nevada evolves into a center for technological innovation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada. “Along with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to prioritize stopping cybercriminals from harming American companies and consumers.”

“This is an excellent example of community outreach resulting in strong partnerships, which led to proactive law enforcement action before any damage could occur,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office.

Kriuchkov pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer and is scheduled to be sentenced May 10.

The investigation was led by the FBI Las Vegas Field Office with the assistance of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, the FBI Sacramento Field Office, and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel C.S. Heath and Trial Attorney Thomas Dettore of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Casper of the District of Nevada.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Mar.19: 2021:

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#russia, #doj, #fbi, #malware, #washington