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Archive for May, 2008

Kremlin Publishes Letters on Corruption

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

By Anna Malpas

http://www.moscowtimes.ru

In the latest sign the Kremlin is focusing its message on the issue of corruption, its web site has posted excerpts from letters written by Russians complaining about the problem and proposing solutions. 

President Dmitry Medvedev said strengthening the rule of law in an effort to stamp out corruption was one of his primary aims in his inauguration speech. 

“All the suburbs of Vladivostok are built up with the country houses of officials from the regional and city administration, and their cars give the impression that their owners work in the management at a Mercedes plant,” reads one letter quoted on the site. The author is identified only as A. Ivanov, a student from the Primorye region.

The letter is of particular interest following the search earlier this month of the apartment of Primorye Governor Sergei Darkin as part of a criminal investigation into the misappropriation of real estate in the region. 

The Kremlin web site occasionally posts summaries of letters to the president related to social issues and foreign policy. The letters on corruption, posted on Wednesday, were the first to be published in 2008 and represented the first time a roundup of letters has concentrated specifically on corruption. 

“Sometimes when citizens’ letters come in somewhat of a mass, the president chooses a thematic selection. In this case, that is what happened,” a Kremlin spokesman said Thursday. “As you know, serious work is under way to eradicate corruption, and public opinion has also played a role.” 

Of the two olther letters posted, one sent by a resident of Kislovodsk identified as I. Redkin emphasizes the importance of ridding state structures of corrupt officials, while a Krasnodar resident identified as Y. Kheilo wrote that investigative programs on television should tell people about the consequences of committing acts of corruption. 

A summary of the letters said many called for the declared income of state officials to be examined in relation to their property and that their relatives should have to declare their incomes. 

At the same time, “letters give the opinion that the state itself sometimes pushes civil servants to take bribes by providing them with unjustifiably low salaries,” the web site said. 

Vladimir Pribylovsky, the head of the Panorama think tank, said that he had not seen the letters but dismissed their publications as “just another PR stunt.” 

He compared it to medieval Russia, when a box for anonymous letters used to hang next to the Kremlin. 

“It didn’t reduce corruption at all,” he said. “Maybe it gave rulers an excuse to punish someone.”

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Ukraine says no to NATO again

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

The Ukrainian governmental campaign aimed at convincing people to support the country’s entry into NATO has faced a series of protests. There were anti-NATO rallies in Kiev on Friday.Earlier on Thursday a fight broke out in Crimea’s largest city of Simferopol between NATO supporters and protesters, where verbal abuse triggered a clash involving about 150 people.

In April the alliance made it clear it will pave the way for the country’s membership only if the majority of the population supports the move.

Recent polls show that more than 60 per cent of Ukrainians are against NATO membership.

Posted in International bankers around Russia: Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

Putin gave Russia ‘great years’ – Chirac

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

Russia Today

It was an ex-presidential love-in in Paris as the former leaders of Russia and France exchanged compliments and courtesies. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met Jacques Chirac as part of his working visit to France. Putin bestowed Russia’s State Award on the former president for his outstanding achievements in humanitarian activities.

The meeting came after Putin held talks with the incumbent French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which, according to the Russian PM, was “sharp but constructive”.

Speaking of the Putin’s years in charge, Jacques Chirac said the eight years of his presidency “were great years for Russia”, characterised by successful economic development and increased living standards.

“Under your leadership the quality of life in Russia greatly increased and Russia strengthened its position in Europe and in the international arena. The last ten years have been great for Russia,” Chirac said.

The former French president also said that without a stable Russia there cannot be a stable Europe. “I am thankful to you for that as a European, as a citizen of the world,” Chirac said, adding that he has long been Putin’s friend.

“Russia’s President Medvedev has signed a decree saying that this year Mr. Chirac is granted the State Award of Russia. It’s a significant symbol of his contribution to Russia-France relations in recent years. I’m pleased to thank Mr. Chirac again for this. My congratulations! This is a very special ceremony in Russia. We’ll all be glad to welcome Mr. Chirac in Moscow on the 12th of June,” Putin responded.

Vladimir Putin also met Maurice Druon, a renowned French writer and member of the Academie Francaise, who turned 90 this April. Putin included a meeting with Druon in the agenda of his working visit to Paris in order to pass on greetings from Russia, where the French writer is widely read.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

USA admits it interferes into Russia’s internal affairs

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

2007, The US State Department published its annual report at the end of the last week. The report, titled “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US record 2006” triggered an outburst of emotions in Russia. Quite a number of statements on the matter have been released from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, State Duma committees, United Russia party and state officials. The criticism can be summarized as follows: the US administration practices the policy of double standards towards Russia and deliberately interferes into Russian home affairs on the threshold of presidential elections. In other words, Russian politicians believe that the USA is threatening the development of democracy in Russia again.

The above-mentioned document is a report about the actions taken by the US administration (financial efforts inclusive) to strengthen democratic institutes and protect human rights and freedoms in a variety of countries of the world. As far as Russia is concerned, the document says that the USA renders Russia educational assistance to hold free and honest parliamentary (in 2007) and presidential (in 2008) elections. Furthermore, the document states that the USA is concerned with the erosion of the Russian civil community. According to the US State Department, the USA has been rendering technical and financial assistance to support civil community groups and non-governmental organizations, etc to support their active participation in social life.

The report basically states that the power in Russia is concentrated in the hands of executive authorities only, which manipulate the legislative agencies and show pressure on the legal system and opposition political parties. Furthermore, the US State Department accused the Russian security forces of creating considerable problems in the field of human rights. US officials believe that the Russian government is involved in political kidnappings and killings in the Republic of Chechnya and other territories of the Northern Caucasus.

Needless to say that such a point of view could not but worry the Russian administration. An official spokesman for the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Kamynin, stated that the chapter of the document about the situation with human rights in Russia was “biased, politicized and confrontational.” In addition, State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said that the lower house of the Russian parliament was going to consider a draft statement in connection with the report from the US State Department.

The Russian deputies were infuriated with the fact that the USA virtually acknowledged the fact that it funded specific events connected with the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. It is worthy of note that Russian President Putin stands strongly against it.

The report generally testifies to USA’s intention to participate in the Russian election process, which means that the United States is determined to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs.

Posted in Russia against Washington-Brussels-Tel Aviv | Leave a Comment »

Eurovision becomes competition of worthless music and priceless politics

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

The only good thing we can say about the Eurosong 2008 : Russia won, Euro-Rus

Translated by Julia Bulygina
Pravda.ru

For the first time in history, Russia took the first place at the Eurovision Song Contest. This contest may not be very popular with many people, especially in the USA, although it has become the most important event in the world of Russia’s pop music. Many would say that this contest is held only among shallow and cheap pop singers, who never can make it big. They would be absolutely right. However, Eurovision gave Russia its first landmark international victory in pop music.

Dima Bilan, a Russian pop singer, who previously represented Russia at Eurovision in 2006, won the top honors of the contest on May 25. The number of Dima Bilan’s fans in Russia and maybe several European countries has increased dramatically after his victory.

May of 2008 will certainly enter the Russian history as the period of great luck. Russia’s Zenit football team from St. Petersburg took the UEFA Cup, whereas the Russian hockey team became the world champion. These victories were followed by the triumph at Eurovision, the contest of music big talk, political and democratic games.

One should cool down after euphoria from the victory and think what stands behind this title apart from the Crystal Microphone prize and an opportunity for Moscow to host the next Eurovision Song Contest.

It is an open secret that Eurovision has virtually developed into a political struggle. Music and songs have lost their importance in the contest and gave way to politics. The countries participating in the contest use Eurovision to prove and exercise their superiority.

The Baltic States needed to confirm their new European status: Latvia and Estonia won the contest. Ukraine wanted to prove that it no longer considered itself a Russia-dependent state, so it won Eurovision too.

Last year’s victory of Serbia became a sign of European integration. To say nothing of Greece and Turkey that try to enter the European Union with different success.

Russia has not won Eurovision under Putin, who was considered to be an authoritarian leader in the West. Now things have changed. Russia received a new liberal and civil president Dmitry Medvedev.

Nevertheless, Dima Bilan’s triumph is unlikely to have a political implication. Statistically the countries of the former Eastern bloc have been leading in the latest contests of Eurovision. No country of Old Europe can compete with the friendly union of the countries of the former USSR or Yugoslavia. There is also the Scandinavian-Arab bloc. The Eurovision Song Contest is no longer a music contest between countries; it is a political competition between blocs. They choose the best leader in every bloc and give him or her the largest number of votes.

However, Dima Bilan and his team do not want to think why they have won. In any case a song performed Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko and virtuoso Edwin Marton with Stradivari violin was sure to be successful, with or without Bilan.

Posted in Music | 1 Comment »

Russia does not need unfounded accusations from Amnesty International

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

Amnesty International held a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday, at which it exposed an address to Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev.

Human rights activists say that the report was released on the 60th anniversary of adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Memorandum on Human Rights to President Medvedev” is an extensive document of 16 pages. The report lists practically all possible fields of human rights that are violated in Russia.

Amnesty International is specifically concerned about:

- the growth of xenophobia in Russia;
- suppression of meetings and demonstrations; 
- the increasing number of kidnappings and extrajudicial killings in the republics of the Northern Caucasus;
- the need to cancel death penalty; 
- violation of human rights in penitentiary institutions;
- unjust legal proceedings in Russia;
- suppression of freedom of speech in Russia’s mass media.

Amnesty International pointed out that the situation with human rights in Russia improved in certain aspects, although it mostly remained the same. In this connection human rights activists urged Dmitry Medvedev to pass from words to deeds. They said that they would like to see if the president could keep the promises he gave during his inauguration.

The above-mentioned report says that the number of hostility and racism motivated crimes has increased in Russia during the recent several years. Amnesty International also called to legally cancel death penalty in Russia.

It is worthy of note that Amnesty International does not compare situations in different countries, nor does it make any ratings. The organization believes that the situation with human rights in each country is unique.

According to Amnesty International, people are subjected to tortures in at least 81 countries of the world. Unjust court proceedings are held in at least 54 countries, whereas state authorities infringe upon freedom of speech in 77 countries.

Amnesty International offers China to observe human rights and guarantee freedom of press on the threshold of Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. In addition, the organization recommends the USA to close the military base in Guantanamo along with all secret prisons.

In the meantime, Anatoly Kucherena, a member of the Russian Public Chamber, a legal expert, believes that Russia does not need unfounded accusations from outside.

“All those phenomena exist not only in Russia but in many other countries of the world. We are ready to cooperate with European and US experts to withstand those problems,” Kucherena told RIA Novosti.

The lawyer said that the Russian civil society is ready to adopt other countries’ positive experience in solving such problems. “Let us think about it together. If there is positive experience on those matters, we are ready to adopt it and discuss the issues, but without unfounded accusations,” the official said.

“There is no need to urge us to act more effectively. We know what we need. I can assure you that the Russian authorities have been paying a lot of attention to ethnic and nationalist conflicts, for example,” Anatoly Kucherena said.

In addition, Kucherena said that all such reports show a hidden ideological motive. The official is certain that the report was another PR stunt of the organization.

“Amnesty International needs to show its work and advertise itself on specific issues. We do not say that we do not have any problems. We have problem, but they are being solved,” the official said.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

Lawyer of U.S.-funded NGO chief attacked in Moscow

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

The lawyer of Manana Aslamazyan, former head of a U.S.-funded non-governmental organization, charged with currency smuggling, has been beaten by unknown attackers in southwest Moscow.

“Two nationalists beat me several times on my head with wooden sticks,” the lawyer, Viktor Parshutkin, told RIA Novosti. The attack occurred late on Thursday.

Parshutkin claimed that one of the attackers said he had a “mission to kill the lawyer” suggesting the incident was linked with Russia’s Constitutional Court ruling in favor of his client.

Meanwhile, Aslamazyan has not confirmed the information saying that she “could not get in touch with her lawyer.”

Aslamazyan, a Russian national but not “Russian”, who headed the Educated Media Foundation, was detained in 2007 by Russian custom officers for failing to declare foreign currency of around $2,800 more than the permitted sum of $10,000.

The court ruled on Tuesday that by charging Aslamazyan with smuggling the entire sum, including the permitted amount of $10,000, the seriousness of the accusations had been inflated, which was unconstitutional and violated the principles of equality and justice.

Aslamazyan should have been charged with an administrative offense which carries a fine of 1,000 to 2,500 rubles ($43-$106), the court said. The lawyer of Aslamazyan said that the court decision meant that “hundreds of thousands” of similar smuggling cases would also be subject to review.

Formerly known as Internews Russia, the Educated Media Foundation was involved in training broadcast journalists, who were largely from the Russian provinces.

Last April, police conducted a raid on the NGO’s Moscow headquarters, seizing computers and financial documents, the group was ordered to suspend its operations following the raids, and was then forced to close down altogether. Aslamazyan was placed on the federal wanted list after leaving Russia.

The case against Aslamazyan prompted more than 2,000 Russian journalists to send an open letter of protest to former-president Vladimir Putin. The journalists claim the proceedings against Aslamazyan were launched to deter foreign-funded NGOs from meddling in Russian politics.

Posted in Oligarchs & corruption | Leave a Comment »

Kyrgyzstan interested in Russia’s naval presence-chief of staff

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

Kyrgyzstan is interested in the continued presence of Russian naval forces on its territory, the country’s top military official said on Friday.

Maj. Gen. Boris Yugai, chief of the General Staff of the Kyrgyz Armed Forces, met with Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, commander of the Russian Navy, who is currently on a visit to Kyrgyzstan to discuss the expansion of military-technical cooperation and strengthening of regional security with Kyrgyz top military officials.

“No one would benefit from a scaling down of military-technical cooperation between Russian and Kyrgyz defense agencies,” Gen. Yugai said, adding that his country is interested in the “further development of Russia and its Armed Forces.”

Adm. Vysotsky said the Russian Navy has $4 million worth of contracts with Kyrgyz enterprises for the production of torpedoes, equipment, and components, but not ammunition.

He visited Thursday a naval research facility Russia rents on a lake in Kyrgyzstan.

The testing site near the city of Karakol, 380 km (240 miles) from the capital Bishkek, was set up during the Soviet era and is still used to test advanced torpedo propulsion and guidance systems for the Russian Navy.

It has reportedly provided both a test bed and production facilities for one of Russia’s most advanced naval weapon systems, the super-cavitating 220 mph Squall or Shkval rocket-propelled torpedo, with a range of six nautical miles, designed to destroy large surface ships such as aircraft carriers.

Russia currently pays $4.5 million annually to use these military installations.

On March 18, the Kyrgyz parliamentary committee for security approved a resolution on the ratification of protocols between Kyrgyzstan and Russia on the use of Russian military facilities in the country and the status of Russian service personnel in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

The agreement, concluded by Kyrgyzstan and Russia in 1997, allows the Russian military to use Kyrgyz territory for the next 15 years.

Russia currently has 41 intergovernmental agreements with Kyrgyzstan on security cooperation. Both countries are members of the two major regional security blocs in Central Asia – the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Russian academicians want Berezovsky expelled – Berezovsky killer of Litvinenko & Politkovskaya ?

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

 

Vladimir Strakhov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, called for amendments to its charter on Friday to strip fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky of his Academy membership and salary.

Berezovsky, who lives in London, became a member of the academy in 1991 and, despite being convicted of embezzling $43 million from a leading Russian bank, still receives a monthly salary of 10,000 rubles ($420), which will be increased to 25,000 rubles ($1,060) in June.

“If criminal proceedings are launched against a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences, he must appear in court and prove the charges are mistaken. And if he fails to do so, he should be expelled,” Strakhov told a general meeting of Academy members.

Strakhov wants amendments made to the Academy Charter to ensure that members convicted of a criminal offense by a court are stripped of their lifetime membership.

Twelve criminal investigations have so far been launched in Russia against Berezovsky, a one-time close associate of the late president Boris Yeltsin, and he also faces a criminal probe in Brazil.

A former chief investigator also claimed last month that Berezovsky was behind the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya ! (And maybe Litvinenko.)

The Kremlin has repeatedly urged Britain to extradite Berezovsky, for plotting to stage a coup against Vladimir Putin, the then-president and current prime minister.

The allegations came after an interview with The Guardian newspaper last April where Berezovsky said: “We need to use force to change this regime…It isn’t possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure.”

 

Posted in Oligarchs & corruption | Leave a Comment »

Venezuela to deploy two new Russian Su-30 fighter jets

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

 

Venezuela will put two new Russian Su-30 fighter planes on combat duty on Friday, bringing the total number to 22, news agency ABN cited the president as saying.

Hugo Chavez told a meeting of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela: “From Friday we will have on combat duty 22 Russian Su-30 planes, which will fulfill the role of defending the independence and sovereignty of our country.”

Oil-rich Venezuela is a major purchaser of Russian weapons and hardware. In 2005-2006, Venezuela ordered weaponry from Russia worth $3.4 billion, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-17B multi-role helicopters, Mi-35 Hind E attack helicopters and Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters.

The president also said that the first test launch of a Russian guided air-to-air missile will be carried out in the near future as part of the modernization of the Venezuelan armed forces.

“We are preparing for the launch of a Russian guided missile with a range of 115 kilometers (71 miles), about which we will give further details later,” he said.

Chavez, a former military officer, said he may personally carry out the first launch of the new missile, controlled by the pilot via a television guidance system.

Next month, Venezuela plans to conclude several contracts with Russia on the purchase of military equipment worth at least $2 billion, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Monday.

Chavez is expected to pay an official visit to Moscow in the near future to conclude the necessary agreements with Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev, who earlier pledged to maintain close military cooperation with Caracas, the newspaper said.

Russia has repeatedly stated that it will actively participate in the modernization of the Venezuelan armed forces until 2013.

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Russia launches production of new MiG-29M/M2 fighter

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

 

The Sokol aircraft plant, based in Nizhny Novgorod, central Russia, is to launch production of the MiG-29M/M2 Fulcrum fighter plane, the company’s general director said on Friday.

Mikhail Shibayev said the first aircraft to be produced is planned to be completed in the second quarter of 2010.

MiG’s general director, Anatoly Belov, said the new aircraft will use the most advanced technology, specifically the Zhuk-M onboard radar and cutting-edge avionics.

He said the fighter will be sold both at home and abroad, adding that the company had already received an order for the aircraft from an undisclosed foreign customer.

The plane’s integrated weapon control system is built around the Zhuk-M airborne radar, an IR search and track system and a helmet-mounted target designation system.

The fighter has the capability to detect air targets at ranges of up to 120 km and has the potential to attack four targets simultaneously.

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Israeli mercenary wins reprieve in extradition case

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

http://www.russiatoday.ru

The European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) has demanded that Russia withhold the extradition of Yair Klein, who is wanted in Columbia for training terrorist groups. The Israeli special operations expert is now expected to stay in Moscow until his cased is reviewed in Strasbourg, according to Russian news website gazeta.ru.

 

Citing Klein’s lawyer, Dmitry Yamolsky, gazeta.ru said Russia will not be able to proceed with the extradition until the ECHR makes its investigation into the case.

Columbia has tried Klein in absentia for training militia units in the late 1990s. He is said to have tutored terrorist groups in demolition and mine-planting techniques. The former colonel faces more than ten years in prison if handed over to Columbia.

Klein himself claims he was contracted to train Columbian farmers so that they could defend their businesses from bandits. He believes his life would be in danger if he is extradited to the Latin American country.

Yair Klein was arrested in Moscow in August, 2007. Earlier this month Russia’s Supreme Court ruled his extradition to Columbia would be lawful, rejecting an appeal by the defence.

 

Posted in Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

NATO opponents and supporters clash in Ukraine

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

Opponents and US-payed supporters of Ukraine’s entry into NATO have clashed in Crimea’s largest city of Simferopol.

 

Police tried to separate the two parties, which were holding simultaneous meetings in the central square of the city. However, verbal abuse triggered a fight involving about 150 people.

The NATO opponents, mostly communists, threw tomatoes, eggs and cartons of juice at their rivals. They were carrying posters, which read ‘NATO Is War Against Slavs’.

 

Posted in International bankers around Russia: Ukraine, NATO | Leave a Comment »

Russia to spend $25 bln on science research in 2008-2010 – Putin

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

Russia will spend around 600 billion rubles ($25 billion) on scientific research in 2008-2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

“We have allocated substantial resources for the development of such promising areas as nano- and biotechnology, nuclear energy, aerospace and other research in 2008-2010. Federal target programs alone will receive about 600 billion rubles for these purposes,” Putin told a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The volume of budget financing for the Russian Academy of Sciences has increased considerably, with the academy’s budget growing from over 37 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) in 2007 to around 45 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) in 2008, Putin said.

Federal budget spending on civil science in 2008 will reach around 125 billion rubles ($5.3 billion) and about 200 billion rubles ($8.5 billion), taking into account extra-budgetary funds, Putin said.

Posted in Science | Leave a Comment »

Russian scientist decodes Nostradamus prophesies

Posted by Kris Roman on May 30, 2008

Vitaliy Khozyashev from Perm, Russia, doesn’t consider Nostradamus a graph maniac, but an outstanding person. He is sure his quatrain verses, grouped in centuries, are not nonsense, but a prophesy.

This started 8 years ago, when he found out that peoples’ attempts to decode Nostradamus’s verses were not very successful, except for the easy verse: ‘There will be new earthquakes and new authorities’ changes and this will last for just 73 years and 7 months’. It was concluded that Nostradamus was talking about the collapse of the Bolshevik system.

Read also: ‘Five Centuries of Nostradamus’

Usually all Nostradamus’s prophesies can be explained in different ways, as they don’t allude to the exact time in the future, which made them purposeless. Mr. Khozyashev decided to clear this out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Science | Leave a Comment »

Strasbourg court bans Russian extradition of Israeli terrorist to Colombia

Posted by Kris Roman on May 28, 2008

 

The European Court of Human Rights defends Israeli terrorist !

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia cannot extradite to Columbia an Israeli national accused by Bogota of conspiracy in terrorism, the defendant’s lawyer said on Wednesday.

The Strasbourg court “has prohibited Russia from extraditing Yair Klein to Colombia pending the court’s further instructions,” Dmitry Yampolsky said.

Russia’s Supreme Court ruled as lawful last week the extradition of Klein, a former colonel in the Israeli army, who was sentenced by Colombian judicial authorities in 2001 to nearly 11 years in prison for training members of drug traffickers’ private armies and paramilitary groups.

The court rejected an appeal by Klein’s defense, which said the defendant was persecuted for political motives and that the five-year time limit for the sentence to be enforced had expired. Klein has said he may face torture in Colombia.

Klein, who ran a private mercenary company called Spearhead Ltd, was captured by Interpol in Moscow last August on an international arrest warrant on charges of criminal conspiracy and instruction in terrorism. Colombia’s government asked for his extradition.

Klein denied in an interview ever working with cocaine cartels, but confirmed that he did instruct far-right death squads. He said he was originally hired – with the Colombian Defense Ministry’s blessing – to organize security for the banana industry (= American capitalism) in the northern region of Uraba.

Israeli media earlier reported that Klein spent 16 months in a Sierra Leon prison between 1999 and 2000 for smuggling arms to rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

 

Posted in Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

Happy Birthday St Pete! 305 years young

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

Russia’s second largest city, Saint Petersburg, is marking its 305th anniversary. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, it was the country’s capital until the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.Celebrations got under way with a two-day carnival. Russian’s northern capital will enjoy various open-air concerts and theatrical performances with the main events taking place next weekend. 

The city expects a rush of tourists, drawn by the so-called white nights, when it’s possible to walk the streets after midnight in almost broad daylight.

Posted in History | Leave a Comment »

Russian communists call to boycott Indiana Jones, a movie for perverts

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

St. Petersburg communists have spiced up the distribution of a new film about Indiana Jones in Russia. As soon as the film opened in cinemas across Russia, the communists of St. Petersburg called to boycott “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

In Steven Spielberg’s new film archeology professor Jones competes with Soviet intelligence agents headed by agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) who speaks with a Ukrainian accent. The film is set in 1957 during the Cold War.

Spokespeople for the communist movement of St. Petersburg said that the film slandered Soviet intelligence. “With this film the new generation of Russia will obtain a pessimistic mood, uncertainty in the country’s power and idolatry of the USA,” said the statement posted on the website of the movement.

The activists are going to send a letter to the Ministry of Culture with a request to ban the film in Russia. “It is unclear why we should buy a film devoid of any artistic merits, while Russian films acquire no state support. Let Russian enemies watch Spielberg’s low-grade libel on DVDs secretly like perverts,” they said. “American Indians and aliens help Jones and his dubious companions save the world from the Russian threat. That’s disgusting like a paranoid dream of Churchill. We will write a letter to the Committee for Culture to take the film off Russian screens,” Vladimir Muhin, a deputy from St.Petersburg said.

Police lieutenant and communist Veronika Klinovitskaya labeled the film as “a spit in the soul of Soviet people.”

“I remember characters of Soviet films – courageous members of underground organizations, intelligence agents, excellent workers and their inspiring faces that have nothing in common with a predatory face of vicious Cate Blanchett. So I am speechless.”

Communists also demanded the authorities should deprive Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett of an entry permit to Russia. “I want to look in the eyes of Ford. I remember him coming to Russia, eating our bread and salt and admiring Russian women. But in the film he doesn’t make bones about eliminating a Russian woman. Even aliens seem closer to him than Russians,” said another communist, Andrei Gindos.

Another party at fault, actress Cate Blanchett, told the Vedomosti newspaper that most of the Soviet intelligence entourage was made up by George Lucas. “The personality of parapsychology doctor Irina Spalko was developed by the scriptwriter and my imagination; it is not based on anything real. However, George Lucas, the author of the plot, assured me that he knows for certain that at the beginning of the Cold War there was a super secret service in the USSR that specialized in researching paranormal phenomena, telekinesis and remote viewing. My character works there,” the actress said.

When asked whether “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull” may provoke another outbreak of interest in the subject of the Cold War era and the iron curtain, Cate Blanchett said assuredly that “the political situation in the world won’t let us go back to the past.” The iron curtain provokes suspicion and mysteries; no good dramatic concept can exist without mysteries. “The Cold War helped us make an engrossing movie,” the actress said.

Posted in Moral values against decadence | Leave a Comment »

Russia, Denmark sign visa facilitation, readmission agreements

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

 

Russia and Denmark have signed intergovernmental agreements on visa facilitation and readmission during a visit by Russia’s foreign minister to Copenhagen, the Danish foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Per Stig Moller said the agreements will help to ease contacts between scientists, businessmen and students of the two countries. The deal is in line with agreements signed between the EU and Russia in December 2006, which did not cover some EU countries, including the U.K., Ireland and Denmark.

“I am sure that the signed documents today will considerably ease possibilities for contacts between our people,” the minister said following a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Moller also accepted Lavrov’s invitation to visit Russia.

In addition to his meeting with the Danish foreign minister, Lavrov will also meet with Queen Margrethe II and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen during his two-day visit to Denmark.

 

Posted in Russia & Western Europe | Leave a Comment »

Russia and Europe to build new manned spacecraft

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

Russian and European space agencies are due to discuss the joint development of a manned spacecraft at a Berlin air show taking place May 27 to June 1, the head of Roscosmos said on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said earlier that it had agreed with the European Space Agency (ESA) to jointly build a manned spacecraft for flights to near-Earth orbits and the Moon.

Anatoly Perminov said further talks would focus on areas of responsibility for the agencies.

“Concerning the joint construction of the system, we have signed the documents, and now we will discuss the issue of dividing responsibilities for developing elements of the new spacecraft,” Anatoly Perminov said.

He went on to say that once responsibilities had been settled, funding and commitments at the level of production facilities would be considered in detail.

“ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain is coming to Berlin. As a separate issue we will consider the creation of a future transportation system. It is very important to us, and we will continue the work right here, at the exhibition,” he said.

He said that flight tests of the joint craft were due to start in 2015, with the maiden launch to follow in 2018.

Perminov also said that Russia would be responsible for developing the transport capsule, while Europe would build the service module and engines for the new vehicle. RSC-Energia, a leading Russian spacecraft maker, will be responsible for project integration.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Moscow concerned by Ukrainian plans to cut Russian TV channels

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

Moscow said on Tuesday Ukraine’s plans to cut Russian TV channels from its cable television network would be a violation of the rights of millions of Russian speakers in the country.

Ukraine cautioned Russia earlier this month that it could stop retranslating Russian language channels over their alleged biased coverage of “sensitive bilateral issues.” The warning came after Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov called for Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula to be handed back to Russia.

“We believe such a decision would violate Russian-Ukrainian agreements on media cooperation and hamper bilateral relations in general,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We will insist Ukraine observe international democratic principles and ensure people are free to choose information sources,” the ministry said.

Luzhkov has been barred from entering Ukraine for defying numerous warnings and “continuing to call for actions that threaten Ukraine’s national interests and territorial integrity.”

His emotional statement echoed warnings by other Russian politicians that Russia could reclaim the Crimea, now an autonomy, if Ukraine was admitted to NATO, one of a key goals of the country’s Western-leaning government.

The Crimea, which has a predominantly ethnic Russian population, was Russian territory until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ceded it to Ukraine in 1954. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in the peninsula as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017.

The Foreign Ministry said Ukrainian organizations and individuals have repeatedly complained about the clampdown on Russian language broadcasts. And they have sent letters to Ukraine’s president, premier and parliamentary speaker requesting that they rethink the situation.

Language has been a contentious issue in relations between Russia and Ukraine, where some political groups have opposed the “Russification” of the country.

Russian is still widely spoken in Ukraine, especially in the east, the Crimea and the capital. Many people have never learnt to speak Ukrainian.

Posted in International bankers around Russia: Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

A response to America’s Excalibur

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

 

RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik

Artillery-launched guided projectiles were developed long ago. The laser-guided Copperhead and Krasnopol have already been in use for more than 20 years.

As technology evolves, the latest generation of these weapons use signals from satellite navigation systems. The first munition of this type to go into production was the American M982 Excalibur, named after King Arthur’s legendary sword.

Unlike laser-guided projectiles, this weapon is unaffected by weather conditions and needs no target illumination, which enables it to hit targets at the anticipated coordinates with pinpoint accuracy. Its circular error probable is 10 meters (compared to 200-300 with non-guided projectiles), dramatically decreasing the number of rounds required to destroy a target. The only disadvantage is the Excalibur’s high cost, exceeding $100,000 per shell.

Tests were completed last year. Besides the U.S. Armed Forces, Canadian, Swedish and, recently, the Australian military wish to have the new weapon in their arsenals.

Like any other monopoly in military technology, U.S. and their allies’ monopoly of the new projectile lasted only for a short period, with the Moscow Design Bureau Kompas (Compass) developing a new guidance system for artillery-delivered munitions within the Dinamika (Dynamics) program. Like Excalibur, the new Russian projectile can use either the GPS (Global Positioning System) and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) signals for homing.

In comparison to the American projectile, the Russian weapon, currently under development, has one major advantage – it does not have to decrease the rotation rate to receive a signal from the navigation system, simplifying the control system and reducing costs.

The Russian 152-203 mm GLONASS projectiles’ circular error probable will be 10 meters, similar to that of the American one. The rounds can also be equipped with laser-seekers, which when combined with satellite guidance enable them to hit targets with a precision of 1-2 meters, without adjustment fire. These capabilities will provide a sudden hit on a hard target with minimum ammunition expenditure, which is valuable in any possible armed conflict, either a limited counterinsurgency or a full-scale warfare against large regular armed forces.

The Kompas Bureau spokesmen say that work on the Dinamika program will be finished by 2011, though problems of GLONASS deployment, already behind schedule, could slow the process down.

The importance of GLONASS is high, and it keeps growing steadily, and so do the number of military and civil technologies bound with it. The Kompas Bureau alone, beside the Dinamika program, is developing a series of systems meant to be used in connection with GLONASS, ranging from a landing system, enabling the use of deck-pad helicopters at night and in stormy weather, to portable and vehicle navigation units for civil use. The bulk of these products, which are based on domestic-made components, are supposed to hit the market in the near future. Therefore a number of science-intensive programs depend on the deployment of Russia’s satellite navigation system.

Another problem is the frequent changes in the government’s defense order management system, each slowing the work down by a few months, as weapons, military equipment and components developers and manufacturers complain. Management stability and transparency of rules are also considered to be the key factors for the success of any high-tech development. Non-system approach and lack of uniform understanding can bury any plan.

Many captains sink the ship, as the saying goes.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Dmitry Medvedev congratulated the staff of the State History Museum on the 125th anniversary of its founding.

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008

The message of congratulations reads, in part:

“Since its inception, the museum has become one of the leading national cultural centres. It houses our country’s largest collection of historical monuments and unique exhibits of a truly global significance. Getting acquainted with the variety of displays and exhibitions in the museum provides its many visitors with an excellent opportunity to appreciate the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia and to discover the wonderful world of history.

The museum’s staff has become one of its most treasured assets, consisting of generations of well-known historians, specialists in museum management, high-level cultural authorities and a talented group of like-minded people motivated by a genuine love for what they do”.

Located on Red Square, the State History Museum houses a collection that represents the history of Russia since ancient times. The collection includes about 4.5 million items and more than 15 million pieces of documentary evidence.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Russian G.I. Janes break the mould

Posted by Kris Roman on May 26, 2008

Women serving in the army is not new, but a unit comprising only women is something special. There’s only one in the whole of the Russian forces, and it’s currently serving in the Chechen Repubic.

 

It stays in Chechnya as a part of the 42nd division.

“I had to come here, to be able to raise my children, give them a proper education. Of course, it was also my own desire. I’ve always liked military women. The good thing is it teaches us to stand up for ourselves. We’re ready to defend ourselves at any moment,” Naida Israpilova, 42nd division officer, says.

“Women are good soldiers. They have an instinct for self-preservation and the preservation of all people. At the same time they make our life here easier and more comfortable,” confesses Aleksandr Turin, 42nd division officer.

In the 42nd division, which is the biggest in the Russian Army with 18,000 soldiers and officers, women are exempt from physical training and military exercises. But many say they do not feel discriminated against.

There are more than 80,000 Russian women in the army now. It’s a sign of feminism, but others see it as a job like any other. But whatever, as some say, it is a sign of feminism, or a job like any other, as some others put it, the army seems to profit from it.

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Ukraine council adopts Russian language

Posted by Kris Roman on May 26, 2008

Russia’s language has been given a boost in Ukraine, after one council in the country’s east decided to restrict the use of Ukrainian in local schools. Donetsk Council deputies, who overwhelmingly backed the move, believe it will “improve” the region’s education system.From now on, it is also banned to open new Ukrainian-language kindergartens and enrol new kids in those that already exist.

At the same time, within the framework of the Russian language support programme, Donetsk City Council designated ten “basic schools” which are to extend the study of Russian language and literature.

Most residents of Donetsk are Russian-speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians. The region is a stronghold of the pro-Russian Party of the Regions headed by former Ukrainian PM Viktor Yanukovich.

Only a fifth of Donetsk schoolchildren study at Ukrainian-language schools.

Russian language is neither state nor official in Ukraine. Moreover, since 2008 all films can only be shown in their original language or be dubbed in Ukrainian.

The Donetsk City Council decision comes along with the decision of the Council to recognise the Donetsk territory as “an area without military-political blocs and military bases of foreign countries”, and in particular NATO.

Posted in International bankers around Russia: Ukraine | Leave a Comment »

Eurovision glory as Russia wins in Belgrade

Posted by Kris Roman on May 25, 2008

Russia has won the 2008 Eurovision song contest with Dima Bilan’s performance eclipsing the opposition. In a spectacular performance, Bilan used an ice rink onstage for the first time in the history of the contest.

It’s the first time Russia has won Europe’s biggest music contest in the competition’s 50-year history. 

It means next year’s event will be held in Moscow.

He was supported by Olympic ice-skating champion, Evgeny Plushenko, who danced around him.

It is second-time lucky for Bilan – he was runner up to Finland’s Lordi in the 2006 final.

Russia won 272 points, while Ukraine finished a distant second.

 

Posted in Music | 1 Comment »

Russia for immigrants: hell or heaven?

Posted by Kris Roman on May 24, 2008

controle-immigranten

http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/25202

There are fears in some parts of Russia that illegal immigration may grow unless official quotas are increased. Millions of migrants, mostly from former-soviet republics, live and work in Russia. Several regions have already reached their quota for foreign workers.

Moscow is a magnet for workers as it’s seen as the best place to earn a living both by migrants and Russians. So the jobs Muscovites shun, usually in low paid service industries, are taken up by those from the country’s other regions and the CIS states.  

Many say there is nothing to do in their own republics as there are no prospects there – this is the view Armenian Aleksandr Aleksanyan, a cook in a Moscow restaurant, also shares. He moved to Russia’s capital together with his family seven years ago.

Despite irregular working hours and a salary much lower than that of the locals, he would never go back. His boss Oleg Ermolaev is happy with Aleksandr, but could do with more like him. It’s this kind of employers who apply to the immigration service to allow them to hire migrant workers. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Immigration & insecurity | Leave a Comment »

Russian strategic bombers patrol Arctic, Atlantic oceans

Posted by Kris Roman on May 21, 2008

 

Two Russian Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers are carrying out a routine patrol over remote areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, a Russian Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The bombers based at Engels airfield in southern Russia’s Saratov Region are conducting a routine 18-hour patrol flight over the oceans,” Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky said. “During the flight they have been accompanied by NATO interceptors.”

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by former President Vladimir Putin. Russian bombers have since carried out about 80 strategic patrol flights and have often been escorted by NATO planes.

Drobyshevsky reiterated that all Russian strategic patrols are performed in strict accordance with international rules on the use of airspace over neutral waters without violating the borders of other states.

 

Posted in Russia against Washington-Brussels-Tel Aviv, Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Russia ‘had laser cannons before U.S.’

Posted by Kris Roman on May 21, 2008

 

Russia started developing tactical laser weapons before the United States and has several prototypes of high-precision combat chemical lasers in its arsenal, a defense industry source said on Tuesday.

The Boeing Company said recently it had test-fired a high-energy chemical laser fitted aboard a C-130H aircraft for the first time. The successful ground tests, “a key milestone for the Advanced Tactical Laser Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program,” took place on May 13 at the Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Commenting on the announcement, the Russian expert said: “We tested a similar system back in 1972. Even then our “laser cannon” was capable of hitting targets with high precision.”

“We have moved far ahead since then, and the U.S. has to keep pace with our research and development,” he added.

At the same time, the source said Boeing had achieved its success in the development of military laser technology due to massive financing from the Pentagon.

“There is no doubt that the Americans are determined to continue the rapid development of tactical airborne laser weapons,” he said.

Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, said in Monday’s announcement that the company will test-fire the laser in-flight at ground targets later this year.

ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Department of Defense, can “destroy damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.”

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Emperor Nicholas II

Posted by Kris Roman on May 21, 2008

The last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, aka Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Fyodorovna, was born on May 18, 1868, in Tsarskoye Selo, one of St. Petersburg’s numerous Imperial estates.

The early 1910s. Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family in St. Petersburg.

Posted in History | Leave a Comment »

Russian arms help Chavez launch guerrilla warfare against USA

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged soldiers to prepare for a guerrilla-style war against the United States.
He said the US government is using psychological and economic warfare as part of an unconventional campaign aimed at derailing his government.

Dressed in olive green fatigues and a red beret, Chavez spoke yesterday inside Tiuna Fort – Venezuela’s military nerve-centre – before hundreds of uniformed soldiers standing alongside armoured vehicles and tanks decorated with banners reading: “Fatherland,Socialism, or Death! We will triumph!”

“We must continue developing the resistance war, that’s the anti-imperialist weapon. We must think and prepare for the resistance war everyday,” said Chavez, who has repeatedly warned that American soldiers could invade Venezuela to seize control of the South American nation’s immense oil reserves.

US officials reject claims that Washington is considering a military attack. But the US government has expressed concern over what it perceives as a significant arms built-up here,irishexaminer.com reports.

Under Chavez, Venezuela has recently purchased some $3 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets.

Last week, Chavez said he is considering arms purchases, including submarines and a missile-equipped air defense system, as he prepares for a tour of Russia, Belarus and Iran.

“We are strengthening Venezuela’s military power precisely to avoid imperial aggressions and assure peace, not to attack anybody,” he said Sunday.

Opposition leader Julio Borges condemned the president’s interest in acquiring weapons, saying the government should focus on reducing violent crime in Venezuela, which has one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America, the AP reports.

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez travels this week to Iran, Russia and Belarus — all countries which have found themselves at loggerheads recently with the United States, his longtime nemesis.

Chavez departs Tuesday for his week-long tour, from June 26 to July 3, defiantly insisting that he will purchase Russian submarines and possibly an air defense system from Belarus, despite vocal objections from Washington.

Chavez, who views himself as Bush’s arch-enemy, will be cultivating relations with each of the regimes, in an apparent bid to drive an even deeper wedge with between the United States and its adversaries.

Each of the countries on Chavez’s itinerary has locked horns with Washington in recent weeks over conflicts that have yet to be resolved.

Chavez has said he hopes to put the “finishing touches” on an agreement to purchase from Belarus an integrated air defense system with a 200-300-kilometer range (125-200 miles).

Earlier this month, US President George W. Bush renewed sanctions against hard-line Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and nine others deemed obstacles to democracy in Belarus.

Bush accused the regime of human rights abuses, undermining democracy, illegally detaining and secretly holding dissidents and engaging in public corruption.

Relations between Russia and the United States, meanwhile, are at a post-Cold War low due to political and security differences.

Specifically, Moscow and Washington have traded barbs about a US plan to place interceptor missiles in Poland and elements of a linked radar system in the Czech Republic.

Bush will welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin to his family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine on July 1 and 2 — on the heels of Chavez’ visit to Moscow — in an effort to smooth over differences.

Flush with petrodollars, Chavez said last week he might purchase some Russian submarines when he meets with Putin — a deal observers said could chill the planned Putin-Bush summit.

Media reports in Moscow this month said Chavez wanted to buy as many as nine submarines to protect shipping lanes for key oil exports, AFPreports.

Posted in Shanghai Cooperation Organization | Leave a Comment »

Russia to head anti-western alliance

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

Russia became a center of the new anti-western alliance called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). This was caused by the recent recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the West.

 

Hard times for the EU concerning Kosovo question are just going to start, although many thought that after Pristina was recognized by the west, the rest countries are to do the same. Nothing of the kind.

There suddenly emerged an almost forgotten union called BRIC – informal alliance of the countries that stand for Kosovo’s status to be overviewed. Moscow was backed up especially by Beijing and Delhi. They proposed the dialogue on the status of former Serbian region to be started again. The meeting of BRIC members took place in Russia, which hosted foreign ministers from Brazil, China and India.

But what’s the purpose of these conversations? We can’t turn back time and Kosovo’s Albanians will never voluntarily go back under Serbia’s wing, the country that was claimed to have used genocide against Kosovo residents. Kosovo’s battle for integrity was lost not on February 17, 2008, but a long time before – in 1999, when Serbia couldn’t oppose NATO’s aggression. Besides, Kosovo’s independence has already been recognized by about 40 countries, among which are such superpowers as Britain and the USA, Germany and France. They are not going to change their choice. Moreover, it would sound ridiculous to deny Kosovo’s independence, which was the successful result of NATO campaign in 1999. Kosovo, with its vast colored metals resources, is today, in fact, one of America’s biggest bases – it hosts about 16 thousand US soldiers.

However, the BRIC alliance is not that stupid not to understand evident things. Alexander Rar, a famous European political analyst, says that BRIC tries to found an alliance that would oppose Western politics. ‘Thus, it is possible that Dmitry Medvedev may start his rule with a new anti-western attack. In fact, it’s a new attempt to reflect the world political situation. But it’s unlikely that in the next couple of years BRIC is to become a strong military and political alliance like NATO. Probably it’s going to be a union of countries with common interests.

But why was Russia backed up by exactly these countries? The thing is, each of BRIC members has its own ‘Kosovo problems’. The West traditionally sympathizes with North Caucasus terrorists. But it’s not just about Russia. The USA is trying to make an uprising start in southern and south-western ‘Native American’ territories of Brazil. Then, there are a lot of similar problems in India – with the regions of Nagaland, Kashmir, and Sikh. China has faced tough separatist actions in Tibet that were the direct result of the uprising in Kosovo. All these conflicts are spark by the West. Funny enough, its participants are called ‘freedom fighters’ whereas the citizens of Abkhazia and North Ossetia that haven’t had anything in common with pro-Western Georgia for a long time, are called separatists.

So Europe and the USA again demonstrate ‘double standards’ and use Kosovo’s precedent against the countries that are not considered to be very friendly with the Western world. The reason is simple: they try to weaken their growing rivals with internal conflicts. Note that in 2003 the experts of Goldman Sachs investment bank called Brazil, India, China and Russia the most perspective countries in economy and stated that by 2030 they will have become at least superpowers on their continents. This process, however, can be stopped by enkindling interfaith and international conflicts with the foreign help. So, in this situation the ‘defensive tactics’ of BRIC will be not enough. BRIC needs to beat the ‘enemy’ with its own weapon, helping our ‘freedom fighters’ in the west, and thus giving the West what they produced back with the boomerang. What goes around, comes around, they say…

 

Posted in Russia against Washington-Brussels-Tel Aviv | Leave a Comment »

A ring-net for precision weapons

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

 

RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov

The Topol strategic missile launchers that rolled through Red Square on May 9 were impressive to the eye, though I hope there is no intention to use these weapons.

Meanwhile the ‘density’ of armed conflicts across the world keeps growing, and the main role in these conflicts is played by conventional, yet precision, weapons.

The missile defense system being set up by the Americans, incorporating ground, naval and space components tightly integrated with Air Defense systems, is an effort to protect themselves not only against strategic nuclear missiles, but against the whole spectrum of precision weapons. While the pragmatic Americans, who figured out early that to integrate all aerospace defense would mean putting it in one bundle, have been working on this program for a long time already, Russia’s government only developed a similar program and started its implementation as late as the end of April.

As Sergei Ivanov, until this week First Deputy Prime Minister, pointed out, the range of measures involves creating a multi-service system of defenses against precision weapons, including unified control and information systems, to protect Russia’s Armed Forces, economy and infrastructure. Sergei Ivanov stressed that today’s Army and Navy are equipped with air defense missile systems developed in the 1960′s and 70′s.

Mr Ivanov’s comments imply a quick re-tooling of the armed forces with modern air defense weapons capable of repulsing airspace attacks. This mainly concerns the S-400 Triumph air-defense and theater anti-missile weapon (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler), which proved highly capable in tests last July.

This system is a really good one. Unlike its predecessor, the S-300, it is capable of engaging targets not only in the air, but also in outer space. It could potentially become the backbone of both Russia’s unified aerospace defense system and a European non-strategic missile defense.

Unfortunately, however, the new weapons are being deployed far too slowly, and in too small numbers, to have any effect. The sole S-400 battalion is deployed in the vicinity of the Moscow Region town of Elektrostal.

Speaking on the creation of an integral air defense missile system and preparations for its serial production, Sergei Ivanov noted a number of problems impeding the process, primarily inadequate financing and coordination, lack of manufacturing capacities for mass production and poor quality of component parts produced.

These problems are not only hampering defense production but are also a scourge of the entire national economy. In addition, the defense industry has lately developed a harmful habit of exporting the bulk of its latest and most sophisticated hardware, ignoring the requirements of the national Armed Forces. The S-400 is no exception, and its export record is predetermined.

In other words, we are still a long way from deploying a dependable air defense system capable of reliably protecting all vital infrastructures within the Russian territory. By that time Triumph would be obsolete and helpless against new modernized guided precision weapons, and its capability would not match its name.

Yet missiles are not the only means of countering modern precision weapons.

Precision weapons are means of destruction comprising guidance or automatic homing devices. So it is possible to defend a location either by destroying the bomb or missile, or by hindering its homing mechanisms. The latter option envisages creating effective counter measures.

Modern foreign precision weapons use automatic homing devices operating within the visible, infrared and radar spectra. With its homing system “blinded”, a cruise missile is virtually useless.

The Russian military have already developed a relatively cheap way of protecting a large area without deploying air-defense missile systems. The idea is to use remote-detonated munitions to build up a high-altitude barrage, lowering the target contrast in all three spectra and disorientating the incoming precision weapon.

It’s clear that one shouldn’t rely solely upon this method of countering precision-guided munitions. But any means of protection are good in today’s world with its avalanche-like pace of developing new weapons systems.

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Radar site in south Russia to be put on combat duty in Feb. 2009

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

 

Russia’s new Voronezh-type radar site in the southern town of Armavir will be put on combat duty in February 2009, the commander of the Russian Space Forces said on Monday.

“To be exact, on February 26, the radar will be capable of replacing the missile attack warning sites in Mukachevo [western Ukraine] and Sevastopol [the Crimea],” Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin told journalists.

Popovkin said Russia and Ukraine had withdrawn from the agreement on using these radar sites. The agreement, signed in 1997, defined the main principles for using early-warning missile systems located in Ukraine, as well as the operational order for Mukachevo and Sevastopol units and their provision, funding, modernization and reconstruction.

“The Space Forces had a choice – whether to repair the obsolete Ukrainian radars or start work to build a new station near Armavir. The decision was made to build the new station so that it could be put on experimental combat duty by December 2008,” Popovkin said.

With an effective range of 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) the Voronezh-type radar has capabilities similar to its predecessors, the Dnepr and Daryal, which are currently deployed outside Russia, but uses less power and is more environmentally friendly.

Washington wants to place 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the neighboring Czech Republic, purportedly to counter a missile threat from Iran and other “rogue” states. Russia has fiercely opposed the plans, saying the European shield would destroy the strategic balance of forces and threaten Russia’s national interests.

Former president Vladimir Putin proposed last year setting up missile defense information exchange centers in Moscow and Brussels. Russia has also offered the U.S. use of radar stations at Armavir and Gabala in Azerbaijan, as alternatives to the missile shield deployment in Central Europe.

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

EU approves JV between SolVin (Solvay), BASF and Sibur

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

The European Union said on Monday it had cleared the joint venture between SolVin, owned by the Solvay Group, BASF, and the Russian energy giant Gazprom’s Sibur.

Solvay Group, which owns 75% of SolVin, employs more than 28,000 people and had around $15 billion of sales in 2007. SolVin is mainly specialized in PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PVDC (polyvinylidene chloride) production. The remainder of SolVin is owned by BASF, a major chemical company with $90 billion of sales in 2007 and about 95,000 employees.

The venture, called RusVinyl, with 650 million Euro of scheduled investment, will be a PVC production complex to be built in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, in central European Russia.

The EU’s European Commision said the transaction was reviewed based on ‘simplified’ merger procedures which the commission believes do not create competition concerns.

Dmitry Konov, Sibur’s president, said earlier that the JV products would constitute around 30% of the Russian market. The plant, which is expected to produce around 330 tons of PVC annually, is scheduled for construction by the third quarter of 2010.

Posted in Economy | Leave a Comment »

Russia wins 2008 Ice Hockey World Championship in Canada

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

Russia’s national ice hockey team beat Canada 5-4 in overtime in the final of the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Canada to become world champions for the first time in 15 years.

Trailing the Canadians 2-4 in the third period on Sunday, two quick goals from Alexei Tereshchenko and Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Russians level.

And with almost three minutes into overtime and with Canadian Rick Nash in the penalty box for delaying the game, Kovalchuk clinched the game with a well-placed wrist shot over the shoulder of Canadian goalkeeper Cam Ward.

The Russian team had not lost a game on the way to the final and now equal Canada with 24 world titles. Canada hosted the championship for the first time in the 100-year history of the champions and was eager to win the trophy on home soil.

Last year at the championship held in Moscow, Russia was also desperate to win the title at home, but was beaten in the semifinal losing to Finland in overtime. The title eventually went to Canada, who beat the Finns in the final.

Speaking after the match in Quebec City, Alexei Morozov, the Russian captain, said the team had learnt the lessons from last year, but said it was difficult to play against the hosts in Canada.

“This championship was different from the one in Moscow [last year],” Morozov, who scored five goals during the championship, said. “But we have learnt the lesson and changed a lot.”

The Russian captain also said that an incident involving the Russian team bus, which was stopped by the Canadian police before the final, only stirred up the players.

“We were angry and it was unpleasant,” Morozov said. “But in the cloakroom we agreed to forget about the incident and to focus on the game to get results.”

While the Canadian team bus was permitted to stop by the main entrance of the Colisee Pepsi stadium, where the final was being held, to drop the players off, the Russian bus was stopped about a kilometer from the entrance and the team was told to walk the remaining distance.

Morozov also said he believed in Kovalchuk, who prior to the final had not scored a single goal, saying that “two or three days ago I told him [Kovalchuk] that he would decide everything in the ‘golden’ match.”

Russia’s head coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who captained the Russian team in 1993, the last time they won the World Championship, also praised Kovalchuk’s match winning goals.

“I am simply happy for Ilya [Kovalchuk],” said Bykov adding he hoped that the players would continue to get results at international level, including at the Winter Olympic Games in 2010, which will also be held in Canada.

And honors were also heaped on Russia’s goaltender Yevgeny Nabokov who was voted the best goalie of the Canadian World Championships.

The Russian team, which entered the championship in fifth place of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) ranking, is now ranked 2nd after Canada with just 10 points less (3400 against 3410).

On Saturday, four Russian players were named for the ice hockey Team of the Century announced by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Goalie Vladislav Tretyak, defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov and forwards Valery Kharlamov and Sergei Makarov, who played for the Soviet national team in the 1970s and the 1980s, were voted on to the team in a poll conducted by a group of 56 experts from 16 countries.

Posted in Sport | Leave a Comment »

Medvedev signs decree on measures to counter corruption

Posted by Kris Roman on May 19, 2008

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree on measures to counter corruption, the Kremlin said on Monday.

The decree envisions the establishment of an anti-corruption council subordinate to the president.

Speaking on Monday during a presidential conference, Medvedev said it was necessary to draw up a national action plan to counter corruption, and appointed Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin to head an interdepartmental anti-corruption working group. The Prosecutor’s General Office will coordinate its activity.

“We need a package of measures…we need a national anti-corruption program,” Medvedev said, singling out three major sectors.

First, he said, anti-corruption laws should be updated. Secondly, the national program should include measures to fight economic and social corruption, as well as preventive measures. Thirdly, Medvedev said, a mentality of anti-corruption needed to be encouraged in the country, and people needed to be educated on the legal aspects of the issue.

Medvedev, who was inaugurated as president on May 7, focused on corruption in his election speeches. He first voiced the idea of drafting a national anti-corruption program at an economic forum in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk in mid-February.

Medvedev also announced in late February that a program would be ready within several months, and held a special conference in early April to discuss its organizational and legislative aspects.

According to research carried out by the Indem Foundation, led by Georgy Satarov, a former aide to Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin, corruption in Russia annually deprives the national economy of at least $2.8 billion.

Posted in Economy, Oligarchs & corruption, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Geopolitical Diary: NATO Hands Russia a Small Victory

Posted by Kris Roman on May 17, 2008

At its summit in Bucharest, NATO decided not to move Ukraine and Georgia into the Membership Action Plan, telling the two states that at sometime in the future they would get their invitations to membership, but just not now. Instead, NATO focused its membership drive on the Balkans, offering invitations to Albania and Croatia, a delayed invitation to Macedonia (effective once the name issue is sorted out with Greece) and offering intensified dialogue plans to Montenegro and Bosnia (and saying it would be willing to offer similar status to Serbia should the latter chose to apply).

Leading up to the summit, there was a great deal of attention focused on the issue of Ukraine and Georgia — and the showdown between the United States and Russia being fought in the halls and meeting rooms in Bucharest. Washington backed membership invitations to Kiev and Tbilisi. Russia adamantly opposed (but had no say in the decision). And ultimately Germany and France cast the deciding votes for delay. This was a small victory for Russia, which has seen its periphery eaten away since the collapse of the Soviet Union and has its eyes (and strategic position) set on returning influence to its former republics.

But despite U.S. President George W. Bush’s highly public visit to Kiev on his way to the Bucharest summit, Washington knew that a NATO consensus on Ukraine and Georgia was unlikely. The attention paid, instead, was designed to keep the pressure up on Russia — to discourage the former Cold War opponent from attempting a serious challenge to U.S. power and a return to the Cold War status quo. While Moscow breathed a sigh of relief with the ultimate NATO decision on its two former republics, it is a small victory for Russia. And Moscow made it a point to emphasize the breakaway regions in Georgia and the split population in Ukraine to remind NATO and the United States that the Russians still had leverage should NATO ever issue those invitations.

In its focus on Ukraine and Georgia, Russia failed to discourage NATO’s support of U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, something Moscow has strongly opposed as well. But perhaps more significant in the near term is NATO’s focus on the Balkans. Europe hasn’t had a very stellar track record when it comes to dealing with the volatile region, and is now using NATO as a tool to strengthen influence and political development in the region.

The new and tentative membership invitations bring nearly all of the area -– aside from Serbia and Kosovo (and NATO said it has no intention of withdrawing its existing force from Kosovo) –- under the NATO umbrella, freeing Europe from sole responsibility for security issues. It also leaves Serbia surrounded, and highlights Russia’s inability to make good on its unspoken warnings should Kosovo declare independence. Offering Serbia intensified dialogue was, perhaps, simply rubbing salt into the wound of Russian inaction.

While Russia may claim victory in keeping NATO out of Ukraine and Georgia for now, the support for missile defense and the whole-scale move into the Balkans was a clear demonstration of NATO’s challenge to Russia’s claims to influence and power. Russia could not stop the missile defense plan, and its warnings on Kosovo independence have gone unheeded (and unfulfilled). While Germany and France blocked Ukraine and Georgian membership in order to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia and protect their supplies of natural gas, the other key initiatives were no less a challenge to Russia’s resurgence –- and at minimal cost.

Posted in Geopolitics | Leave a Comment »

Moscow’s airports battle it out

Posted by Kris Roman on May 16, 2008

Moscow’s three international airports have long been in competition to attract client airlines. Now airlines are looking to create hubs with alliance partners, thus hoping to improve airport infrastructure.

 

Moscow’s Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo airports have been battling to attract airlines in Russia’s booming air travel market.

Lufthansa is currently the number one foreign airline in terms of Russian passenger traffic, with nine destinations and over 120 flights to and from Russia. On April 1 it moved its operations from Sheremetyevo to Domodedovo airport.

Domodedovo is Russia’s largest airport in terms of both cargo and passenger traffic with 18.76 million passengers in 2007 – up 22% from the year before.

The creation of airport hubs seems to be putting an end to the so-called “airport war” in Moscow, with airlines working with their partners to establish more efficient centres for terminal and transfer travel.

As foreign carriers are presented with more options in the capital’s airports, they’re searching for those with the best infrastructure, in the hope of attracting vital passengers in a market with shrinking margins.

 

Posted in Economy | Leave a Comment »

Medvedev inspects missile base on first presidential trip

Posted by Kris Roman on May 16, 2008

On his first visit as commander-in-chief of Russia’s armed forces, President Dmitry Medvedev has visited the Ivanovo region to examine the base of a regiment equipped with the Topol-M mobile missile system.

 

Speaking during the trip, Medvedev said Russia must be prepared to invest in its missile defences.

”It’s obvious that our task for the near future, for the next few years, is to have the strategic missile troops receive all the necessary funding in order to correspond to the modern level of threat, in the situation that really exists on the planet today. For different reasons, both objective and subjective, development was extremely slow in the 1990s, but over the recent years some progress has become apparent and our task for today is not to slow down,” Medvedev said.

The Topol-M missile near the town of Teikovo in central Russia is one of the most recent inter-continental ballistic missiles produced by the country’s military.

Medvedev, who is on his first trip across Russia since his inauguration, is also expected to visit the city of Kostroma.

Ivan Konovalov from the Centre for Analysis of Strategy and Technology says the Topol-M intercontinental missiles are the basis of Russia’s nuclear shield.

“This is not the country’s newest weapon, but definitely the most powerful,” Konovalov said.

 

Posted in Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

First GM human embryo raises fears of designer babies

Posted by Kris Roman on May 16, 2008

Scientists from Cornell University in New York have produced what is believed to be the first genetically modified (GM) human embryo, the British Times Online edition reports. It was destroyed after five days. The announcement of the experiment’s results have already sparked controversy in the scientific community, with some saying this is a way to a new eugenics.The aim was to study how early cells and diseases develop.

The effects of changing an embryo by adding genes would be permanent and would also appear in future generations.

The technology could potentially be used to correct genes which cause diseases such as cystic fibrosis, haemophilia and even cancer. In theory, any gene that has been identified could be added to embryos.

The embryo was created by in-vitro fertilisation. To add a gene to it, scientists used a virus – a green fluorescent protein.

Presenting the details of the experiment, the head of research, Nikica Zaninovic, pointed out that to be sure about the genetical modification scientists would ideally need to grow the embryo and carry out further tests.

The Cornell team, though, has been banned from letting the embryo progress.

Posted in Big Brother worlddictatorship | Leave a Comment »

New security chief to tackle old problems

Posted by Kris Roman on May 16, 2008

Following Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s formation of a new cabinet, President Dmitry Medvedev has announced new appointments to Russia’s security service, the FSB.

 

Aleksandr Bortnikov has been appointed head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), where he had previously served as deputy director responsible for economic security.

Experts say the appointment indicates that Medvedev has chosen tackling corruption and economic crimes as a national security priority.

The agency’s long-time head, Nikolay Patrushev, has been put in charge of the Security Council.

Medvedev has instructed both men to continue the war on terrorism and to step up efforts against extremism and xenophobia.

“International co-operation is a priority for the Security Council. In this regard, we should fully realise the responsibility Russia has for maintaining global stability in the world. This may be our number one mission, as far as international affairs are concerned,” he said.

 

Posted in FSB - Secret Services | Leave a Comment »

Russia reports over 700 ‘foreign’ nuclear tests in past 50 years

Posted by Kris Roman on May 16, 2008

 

Up to 730 nuclear tests have been conducted in the past 50 years by the U.S., China, France, India, and Pakistan, a Russian Defense Ministry official said on Tuesday.

Col. Gen. Vladimir Verkhovtsev, head of the Defense Ministry Special Monitoring Service, which was established 50 years ago, said in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda daily that many of the tests registered by his agency had never been reported by the media.

The figures do not include nuclear tests conducted by Russia or the Soviet Union.

“Being a party to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Russia has access to data recorded by more than 320 stations belonging to the NTBT international monitoring system,” he said, adding that his service was able to register nuclear explosions with yields of 1 kiloton and upwards throughout the world.

He said one of the service’s main goals has been monitoring the implementation of international treaties banning or limiting nuclear tests.

The general said the service’s own laboratories were stationed throughout Russia, mainly in remote areas such the Upper North and the Far East.

The first test of an atomic weapon took place in New Mexico in the U.S. on July 16, 1945. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the project, and the man commonly referred to as ‘Father of the Atomic Bomb,’ later said that the line, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” from the Indian sacred text, the Bhagavad-Gita, came to mind as the mushroom cloud produced by the weapon rose.

Test director Kenneth Bainbridge reportedly simply said, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”

 

Posted in Science, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

From a new drug to the “father of all bombs”: Russian science in 2007 – some of the highlights

Posted by Kris Roman on May 16, 2008

Yury Zaitsev for RIA Novosti

2007 was a happy year for Russian science. The country’s leadership showed it understood that science and science-intensive industry were at the core of the economy and key to maintaining an independent foreign policy, sovereignty, and Russia’s position in the world’s league of nations.

The Government allocated more than 250 billion rubles (over $10 billion) for a five-year program of fundamental research. Now all the novel ideas in the country will follow an established pattern from conception to commercial realization.

In 2006, the government invested 2.86 billion rubles in 13 projects under the program, in addition to 3.6 billion rubles raised from private sources. Industry responded by turning out 12 billion rubles’ worth of hi tech products.

The 2007 figures are even more impressive. Business investment in science-intensive projects under the program jumped to 6 billion rubles, which the government matched.

The development of unique building materials for use on the polar shelf and in pipelines is the most successful example of public-private cooperation. Private spending to these projects was three times the size of the public contribution.

The following is a list of some of the achievements reported by Russian researchers in recent months. It should be remembered that the Academy of Sciences pursues fundamental studies practically across the whole range of science. The following selection is therefore not exhaustive, and reflects achievements in fields most familiar to this writer or representing sufficient public interest.

* The St. Petersburg Influenza Research Institute and the Organic Synthesis Institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in the Urals have developed a wide-spectrum anti-viral preparation called Triazoverin, which is also effective against the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus. Clinical tests have shown it effectively suppresses virus reproduction.

More than 240 chemicals were tested to develop the medicine, which has no equivalent abroad and is equally effective against infection whatever its gravity or stage.

Professor Alan Hay, director of the WHO World Influenza Centre, considers the development of the preparation one of the greatest achievements of Russian science and believes it could be used to protect humankind against a coming flu pandemic.

* In 2007, the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Cytology was given official go-ahead to manufacture and use its newly developed dermal equivalent (DE), which has proved effective in healing derma (deep-skin) burns.

The derma is a particularly important layer of skin that underlies the upper fabric. The DE is a combination of collagen gel (which acts as the “substratum”) and skin-forming cells or fibroblasts. Its application has already saved people with 90% to 98% skin burns. The DE can also be used to treat trophic ulcers, fistulas and bedsores.

Next on the agenda is the development of a full skin equivalent – a combination of the DE and a multi-layer package of ceratinocytes, which can effectively treat different skin lesions.

* In January, Sweden’s Royal Academy of Sciences decided to award the Crafoord Prize (second in importance only to the Nobel Prize) to Rashid Syunyaev, chief researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute. The prize was given for his decisive contribution to high-energy astrophysics and cosmology, particularly a study of processes occurring in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars.

Among professionals Mr Syunyaev is known as the first person to “have seen” black holes. He showed that matter falling into a black hole or onto a neutron star forms a fast-rotating disk, and begins to emit high-energy photons as it accelerates.

In recent years the team of Russian scientists led by Syunyaev has been able to practically double the number of previously registered neutron stars and black holes.

Being the first to map three most interesting areas of the sky (within the Russian quota of the Integral observatory’s observation time), they detected and identified 135 point sources of hard X-ray radiation.

They have also discovered a specific population of X-ray objects wrapped up in a dense envelope of dust and gas. Their work has also revealed for the first time hard X-ray radiation from a gigantic molecular cloud in Sagittarius, which is most likely a light echo of the activity of a super-massive black hole.

A new class of neutron stars, which absorb matter from super-dense stellar winds, has also been discovered.

* The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has awarded the Bruno Rossi Prize to Alexei Vikhlinin and Maxim Markevich, members of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute, for their work to determine the Universe’s parameters from data on galactic clusters. This prize is awarded annually “for a considerable contribution to high-energy astrophysics”. The focus is usually put on recent original studies.

The Russian scientists have graphically demonstrated that so-called dark matter, which makes up more than 80% of the mass of galactic clusters, behaves almost like a non-interacting environment.

X-ray and optical observations of two merging clusters have shown that galaxies and dark matter freely “interpenetrate” each other, whereas flows of gas consisting of conventional protons and electrons are braked to form a huge cloud of hot plasma between the clusters.

Another important achievement has been exact measurement of the masses of galactic clusters at gigantic (~1029 km) distances from the Earth, and counting up the number of clusters of various masses in our closest neighborhood and in the “younger” Universe.

These measurements are essential for calculating the parameters of the modern Universe and, specifically, the properties of “dark energy”, which is supposed to determine the rate of the universe’s expansion.

The work done by the Russian scientists has graphically demonstrated the tremendous potential of X-ray cluster observations for “precision” cosmology – the measurement of the Universe’s cosmological parameters with an accuracy of a few percentage points.

* New data has been obtained from the Venus Express mission. Russian scientists have taken the most direct role in devising observation instruments and programs for the mission.

From orbit around Venus the apparatus made the first observations of the Venusian atmosphere from its upper layers practically down to its bottom.

The results obtained suggest that Venus resembles Earth not only in size, but also in the processes that once took place on its surface. The structure and movement of the Venusian atmosphere are now understood so well that we can map its temperature chart to the highest modern standards.

Instruments also determined the content of the atmosphere over different parts of the planet, and confirmed the presence of lightning on Venus, which may have a telling effect on atmospheric chemistry.

* Last year, St Petersburg’s Ioffe Physics and Technical Institute reported further advances in improving the performance of one of the most important elements of a fusion reactor – a tokamak. Today, the world has 300 different tokamaks, built to study controlled thermonuclear fusion. This reaction is the opposite of what happens in traditional nuclear reactors: nuclei fuse rather than divide, releasing enormous amounts of energy.

The Institute’s tokamak is an experimental model. It cannot initiate fusion, but it gives scientists an opportunity to study the processes that occur in a tokamak, and to test structural components for a larger reactor.

Specifically, scientists have devised a plasma gun, a device which injects the working gases – hydrogen and tritium – the fuel for the fusion reactor – into the tokamak. Their gun has already attracted worldwide attention, attracting several bids to buy it.

But no one is going to sell the technology as yet: the current priority is to bring the research to its logical conclusion. The technology has not yet been pushed to its limit. If the plasma’s injection rate is increased to 800 or 1,000 kilometers per second, the gun could rival the tried and tested, but less forward-looking, technology of fuel feeding at the $12bn International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor ITER in France.

* St Petersburg scientists have also been investigating the atomic structure of a new mineral (called krivovichevite) found in the Khibiny Mountains on the Kola Peninsula. A crystalline analysis of the mineral suggests that it is an intermediate form of lead. However, its instability (the mineral degrades on exposure to water) suggests that its next phase must be stable and highly toxic, in which lead is present in the atmospheric air and water. A study of the common features of krivovichevite and its atmospheric phase could show scientists how to “intercept” or “encapsulate” lead before it reaches the atmosphere (for example, from copper-nickel or sulphide deposits) and pollutes it.

* Scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High-Molecular Compounds have combined useful properties of two different polymer classes. In 2007, they synthesized a polyamide that enjoys both high temperature and crack resistance and the ability to crystallize. Unlike its American “rival” ULTEM, produced by General Electric, which begins to disintegrate above 2150C, the new polyamide is in crystalline state at low temperatures, starts to devitrify at 2150C and does not begin to melt until 3150C. It is the ability to crystallize, which the scientists “grafted” onto polyamide that helps it withstand elevated temperatures.

* Non-biodegradable synthetic polymers brought about a revolution in human life in the 20th century. But their application created a global ecological problem, that of “polymer junk”, which can be solved only by adopting polymers able to degrade into benign by-products. Such polymers are currently being developed at the Biophysics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Siberia.

Its scientists have shown that a bottle made from the biodegradable plastic they invented can “dissolve itself” in a water pond within three to four months (depending on water temperature and mineral content).

* Scientists from the Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics and the Moscow Physics and Technical Institute have calculated the amount of methane released into the atmosphere in the second half of the 20th century. Methane is the third-ranking greenhouse gas in the world. A warmer climate could cause changes in the methane cycle with global effects. Permafrost, which covers some two-thirds of Russia’s territory, is one of the main sources of methane. If it melts, excessive quantities of methane will enter the atmosphere, a situation scientists call a “methane bomb”. A 1-degree change in temperature over the entire Earth’s surface could increase methane release by an average of 7%. Increased oil and gas production could also lead to more methane emitted into the air.

Now, to sum up, two more events that can be highlighted either as major achievements for Russian science or sensational scandals.

* In July 2007, news broke that the Russian submersibles Mir-1 and Mir-2 had dived four kilometers below the North Pole, set up a titanium Russian tricolor on the ocean bed, and successfully resurfaced. “Our mission was to remind the world that Russia is a great polar and research power,” said Artur Chilingarov, the expedition leader. In other words, it was to tell a special UN commission that the underwater Mendeleyev and Lomonosov ridges were a continuation of the Siberian continental shelf. In that way, Russia could extend the borders of its Arctic shelf and at the same time claim exclusive rights to 10 billion tons of hydrocarbons below the seabed. Russia would also retain full control of the Northern Sea Route, the shortest distance from Europe to America and Asia, which with continued warming could soon be free of ice all year round. But the world received Russia’s “patriotic campaign” with mixed feelings.

* In September 2007, Russia tested a vacuum bomb containing an explosive developed with the help of nanotechnologies that is more destructive than TNT. Compared with an American device known as the “mother of all bombs”, the Russian bomb contains less explosive (7.1 tons compared with 8.2 tons in the American weapon) but has four times more power, 20 times the area of destruction and twice the ground zero temperature. Its developers have dubbed it the “father of all bombs”.

Yury Zaitsev is an adviser at the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Posted in Science | Leave a Comment »

Israel lets fugitive ex-Yukos official keep Israeli citizenship

Posted by Kris Roman on May 15, 2008

RIA Novosti

The Supreme Court of Israel has ruled against stripping ex-Yukos official Leonid Nevzlin, wanted in Russia on charges of organizing murders and attempted murders, of Israeli citizenship, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Nevzlin immigrated to Israel in 2003 following the arrest of several Yukos officials, including CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was Russia’s richest man at the time. Khodorkovsky is now serving an eight-year prison term in Siberia on charges of stealing government shares, illegal oil trading, and laundering $25 billion earned from oil sales in 1998-2004.

Last month, Youli Nudelman, a witness at the trial in absentia of Nevzlin, and also a well-known Israeli human rights activist, told the Moscow City Court that in 2003 Nevzlin had received Israeli citizenship in one month and three days by donating $1.5 million to a diaspora museum and promising an additional $20 million. The citizenship process usually takes at least a year.

Nudelman said Nevzlin also lied in his application for citizenship by stating he was not facing criminal charges in Russia.

“Having realized that the noose around his neck was becoming tighter, Nevzlin fled to Israel and presented a false application; he could not have failed to know he was on the wanted list,” Nudelman said.

Investigators claim that between 1998 and 2002, members of an organized criminal group instructed by Nevzlin killed, among others, businesswoman Valentina Korneyeva and the mayor of the Siberian oil town of Neftyugansk, Yury Petukhov.

Prosecutors said Nevzlin was also behind several attempted murders. They allege he gave direct instructions to the former chief of Yukos security, Alexei Pichugin, to organize and carry out attacks. Pichugin is serving life in prison in Russia for murders and attempted murders. He maintains his innocence.

Russia has been pressing Israel to extradite Nevzlin on murder charges. The businessman, who earlier publicly declared he was willing to spend time and money to oppose the Kremlin following the jailing of Khodorkovsky, has denied the charges, saying the case against him is political.

Once Russia’s largest oil producer, Yukos collapsed after claims of tax evasion, which led to the company being broken up and sold off to meet debts. The bulk of the company’s assets were bought up by government-controlled oil company Rosneft, making it Russia’s largest crude producer.

Posted in Oligarchs & corruption | Leave a Comment »

Sukhoi Superjet 100 conducts pre-flight runway tests

Posted by Kris Roman on May 15, 2008

 

The first Sukhoi Superjet 100 medium-haul passenger airliner made test runs on a runway in Russia’s Far East as part of final preparations for its maiden flight, the manufacturer said on Wednesday.

“During the test runs [in Komsomolsk-on-Amur] the plane reached the take-off speed of 162 kilometers per hour,” a Sukhoi Civil Aircraft official said. “According to the crew and engineers, it performed very well.”

The plane completed ground tests in April and has been cleared for its first flight.

“It is an excellent aircraft. Its handling and ergonomics are comparable to those of Airbus and Boeing planes,” said Alexander Yablontsev, a chief test pilot, who has over 8,000 hours of flying time with various passenger aircraft, including Boeing-737, Airbus A319 and A320.

The Superjet 100 project is a family of medium-range passenger aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau in cooperation with major American and European aviation corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace, and Honeywell.

The company plans to manufacture at least 700 Superjet 100s, and intends to sell 35% of them to North America, 25% to Europe, 10% to Latin America, and 7% to Russia and China.

Mikhail Pogosyan, Sukhoi’s general director, said in January that the company had secured 73 solid orders for the aircraft.

The list price of a 95-seat base model is $28 million, but the company is currently working on both smaller and larger capacity modifications.

The market for the Superjet 100 is estimated at around $100 billion for around 5,500 planes, through 2023.

 

Posted in Economy | Leave a Comment »

Russia eyes $4 bln arms contract with Saudis

Posted by Kris Roman on May 15, 2008

Кussia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport is preparing a $4 billion arms contract with Saudi Arabia, the Gazeta daily reported on Tuesday.

A preliminary agreement on the purchase of Russian weaponry was reached in November 2007, during a meeting between then-president Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdel Aziz Al Saud in the Kremlin.

Riyadh reportedly intends to buy 150 T-90S main battle tanks, worth around $500 mln, a large consignment of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, over 100 Mi-35 (Hind) transport/attack and Mi-17 (Hip) multirole helicopters, and around 20 Buk M2E surface-to-air medium-range missile systems.

Experts say the helicopter contract alone is worth around $2 billion.

Even if the deal with Saudi Arabia goes ahead, it is just a drop in the ocean compared to the market share enjoyed by the U.S. and the U.K., who jointly control 90% of Saudi arms purchases.

The arms contract with the Saudis could also boost Russia’s admission to the World Trade Organization. During ongoing bilateral negotiations with Moscow, Riyadh demanded access to Russian hydrocarbon deposits and pipelines.

Moscow’s chief WTO negotiator Maxim Medvedkov said recently an agreement with Riyadh could be finalized in June.

Posted in Economy, Russian Army | Leave a Comment »

Czechs on hunger strike against U.S. missile defence

Posted by Kris Roman on May 14, 2008

Two Czech activists are on hunger strike in protest against the proposed U.S. missile defence system in eastern Europe. One of the strikers, Jan Tamas, says the radar base is not only a matter of security, but an issue of democracy in his country.The U.S. plan includes building a radar site in the Czech Republic and installing ten interceptors in Poland.

Jan Tamas, Czech humanist party chairman, a civic group ‘No to Bases’ representative, told RT that before orgainising the hunger strike they’d tried many other things including non-violent protests and international conferences.

“I’ve personally travelled throughout Europe and the U.S. to talk about this with many people,” he said.

“In spite of all that and in spite of the fact that two thirds of Czechs oppose this project, our government is continuing negotiations and is in fact nearing a deal with the U.S.,” he said.

Tamas also believes that “this is not only an issue of the radar site or a military or security issue, but this is an issue of democracy in the country”.

By continuing the negotiations knowing that the majority of the population is against it, the government is “betraying its citizens”, according to Tamas.

When launching the hunger strike, the activists organised a press conference and “there was quite a lot of media coverage.”

Tamas said they have no doubts the Czech government will notice the protest.

“Whether they will stop the negotiations with the U.S. government will depend on several factors. One of them will be the response of the general public,” he said.

“We are hoping that people will join this process and get involved in this more actively,”Tamas added.

 

Posted in Russia against Washington-Brussels-Tel Aviv | Leave a Comment »

Orthodox bishop links homosexuals to paedophiles

Posted by Kris Roman on May 13, 2008

 

A senior Russian church leader has condemned social acceptance of homosexuality, declaring that it is the church’s “duty” to correct public opinion.

In an interview with the German magazineDer Spiegal, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, said that not viewing homosexuality as a sin will lead to a variety of other sexual perversions.

“Morality is either absolute or it does not exist. If you excuse homosexuality, why not excuse paedophilia?” he said.

When the interviewer pointed out that there was a “great difference” between homosexuality and paedophilia, as the latter violated the “personal freedom” of children, Bishop Kirill said that people in the future would say that “12-year-old girls were considered children before, but now they develop much faster.

“Twenty years ago nobody could imagine that Germany would legalise homosexual marriages,” he continued.

“However, they get used to it by now. It is a matter of principle. There is one moral nature.

“Gay parade is an intrusive display of depravity. Thus we can successfully promote any other sin, as is done on TV.

“It vitiates public morality. The task of the Church is to say that sin is sin. Otherwise, the Church is not needed.”

In March 2007, Bishop Kirill objected to Moscow hosting a gay pride parade.

He said: “[It] is directed against the majority of Russian society.

“We believe that the law should not interfere in citizens’ private lives.

“You can sin if you want to, but you will answer to God.

“However, if you are trying to propagate your sin by seducing and degrading people, society must oppose it.”

Since 1989 Bishop Kirill has been active in the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church, strongly opposing the encroachment of Roman Catholicism into Russian.

In a statement issues in August 2000, he explained that globalisation would inevitably lead to the kingdom of the anti-Christ and that it was the Russian Orthodox Church’s role to defend Russian nationality and religious identity.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Russian nationalists call for recriminalisation of homosexuality

Posted by Kris Roman on May 13, 2008

Russian Vanguard, an ultra-religious monarchist group, has picketed the Kaliningrad concert of performer Boris Moiseyev because he is openly gay. The ultra nationalist group said it would not target the singer’s fans, as not all of them are gay, but restated its demands that gay sex acts be punished by law.

“The Kaliningrad administration authorities banned us from picketing the concert of Moiseyev,” Russian Vanguard’s leader Alexander Klementyev told Interfax.

“This picketing will show our demand to re-establish Article 121 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation which existed before and provided for punishment for homosexuality,” said Klementyev.

Homosexuality was legalised in Russia in 1993 and since 1999 it is no longer included on the list of mental illnesses. Religious Russians have been at the vanguard of the fight against gay rights in the country.

However, the Communist Party of Russian Federation is also deeply homophobic. Its leader Gennady Zyuganov says that homosexuality is contrary to Russian national traditions.

The ruling party is not supportive of gay people. Russian society as well as the government are notoriously homophobic in character. In past years the Mayor of Moscow has refused to allow gay pride marches, referring to them as Satanic.

Gay activists regularly face intimidation and violence from far right groups who see the gay community as a ‘threat’ to Russia’s national security.

An Amnesty International spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Amnesty has serious concerns about the Russian government’s treatment of LGBT rights.

“We’ve had numerous homophobic attacks in Russia, some of them fatal.

“The authorities have failed to tackle discrimination because of sexual orientation.”

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in January, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, said that not viewing homosexuality as a sin will lead to a variety of other sexual perversions.

“Morality is either absolute or it does not exist. If you excuse homosexuality, why not excuse paedophilia?” he said.

Bishop Kirill said that people in the future would say that “12-year-old girls were considered children before, but now they develop much faster.

“Twenty years ago nobody could imagine that Germany would legalise homosexual marriages,” he continued.

“However, they get used to it by now. It is a matter of principle. There is one moral nature.

“Gay parade is an intrusive display of depravity. Thus we can successfully promote any other sin, as is done on TV.

“It vitiates public morality. The task of the Church is to say that sin is sin. Otherwise, the Church is not needed.”

Late last year the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly was dominated by comments made by a Russian religious leader.

Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II had called homosexuality an “illness” and attacked what he called “homosexual propaganda” influencing young people during an address to MPs from across Europe.

The patriarch was there as part of council’s regular debates with political and religious leaders.

He said homosexuality was “an illness and a distortion of the human personality” comparable to kleptomania.

Posted in Moral values against decadence | Leave a Comment »

 
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