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Journal Archives

Ukraine pilot detained in Russia resumes hunger strike

Moscow (AFP) - A female Ukrainian pilot detained in Russia on murder charges that Kiev says are politically motivated restarted a hunger strike Monday that officials have warned could kill her, her lawyer told AFP.

Helicopter pilot Nadia Savchenko first went on hunger strike in December to protest against her arrest last year for alleged involvement in an attack that killed two Russian journalists on eastern Ukraine's frontlines, where she had enlisted as a volunteer in one of the battalions fighting pro-Russian rebels.

Savchenko broke off the more-than-80-day hunger protest earlier this month after her health nearly collapsed but lawyer Mark Feigin told AFP that she was starting again as her basic demands had not been met.

"She insists that she is innocent," Feigin said.


LAPD officer arrested on suspicion of human smuggling at US-Mexico border

Source: ABC 7 News Los Angeles

An officer assigned to the LAPD's Hollywood Division was arrested Saturday after Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border found a man hiding in his car.

The 34-year-old police officer and his female passenger were stopped for a vehicle inspection at about 6:30 p.m. at the California border crossing in Otay Mesa. Both are U.S. citizens.

When Border Patrol officers examined the car with a device similar to an X-ray, they found a 26-year-old Mexican man hidden in the cargo area.

The officer, whose name was not released, and the woman were arrested and face possible human smuggling charges. The car was also seized.

The Los Angeles Police Department declined to comment.

Read more: http://abc7.com/news/lapd-officer-arrested-on-suspicion-of-human-smuggling-at-us-mexico-border/559520/

Czech Republic Expels Three Russian Spies

An exposé published today by the Czech news magazine Respekt has blown the lid off a major spy scandal that played out in Prague over the last few months. The report, based on sources inside the Security Information Service (BIS), the Czech counterintelligence agency, reveals that no less than three Russian intelligence officers have been declared persona non grata by Prague in the last nine months.

The first case involved a Russian diplomat who was not accredited to the Prague embassy, rather he had recently come from another (unidentified) country, but was in the Czech Republic when he wound up on BIS radar. Czech counterintelligencers determined that the “diplomat” was engaged in espionage — exactly what he was doing was unclear — and he was sent on his way.

More serious was the case of two Russian diplomats whom BIS determined were engaged in espionage on Czech soil. One was accredited to the Russian Embassy in Prague, while another was soon headed there: the Czech Foreign Ministry PNG’d the diplomat who was already in Prague and informed Moscow that his co-worker was not welcome and should not report to the embassy.

The current Czech center-left government has been cautious in its dealings with Moscow, preferring not to anger the Russian bear, so this spy affair was kept out of the media — until today. Sensibly, Czech officials have declined to comment on these linked cases. However, today’s report indicates that two Czech diplomats have been PNG’d by Moscow, in customary tit-for-tat retaliation for the BIS operations that unmasked the three Russian spies.


EU sanctions against Russia should hit Putin propagandists

The EU should not shy away from adding the names of the Russian media representatives in charge of running Putin's propaganda machine to the list of those covered by its sanctions against Moscow, said Krzysztof Bobinski.

Krzysztof Bobinski is the co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.

The European Union’s sanctions against Russia remain controversial among the member states, even if Brussels is currently considering stepping up restrictive measures. But it was Boris Nemtsov, who often wondered out loud why the West and the EU were sanctioning politicians and business people but not Russian media managers and editorial bosses.

When I heard him speak at a conference in Visby, Sweden last autumn, Nemtsov argued these are the people who produce the propaganda, which underpins Russia’s aggressive policies both at home and abroad.


EU warns of Russian military buildup in Crimea

The EU warned Monday of a continued Russian military build-up in Crimea as it condemned Moscow’s “illegal annexation” of the peninsula from Ukraine one year ago.

Diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the 28-nation bloc was also deeply concerned at the deterioration of human rights, demanding free access for outside monitors to investigate the situation.

“The EU reaffirms its deep concern at the continuous military build-up and deterioration of the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula, including the denial of free speech and the persecution of persons belonging to minorities,” said a statement by Mogherini approved by the EU’s foreign ministers.

The European Union, which has hit Russia with tough economic sanctions over its intervention in Ukraine, “does not recognise and continues to condemn this act of violation of international law,” the statement said.


Toe-to-Toe with Putin: Canada Is Keeping an Eye on Expanding Russian Military In the Arctic

Today, in the morning hours of Moscow time, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave orders for snap military exercises in the Russian Far North. The sudden "combat readiness" maneuvers of the Northern Fleet are just the latest military flexing in the Arctic by Putin since the Ukraine crisis began in 2013.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is quoted in Sputnik News, the English wing of the state media apparatus, explaining that the exercises are designed to test Russia's ability to defend its Arctic regions.

"New challenges and threats of military security demand the further heightening of military capabilities of the Armed Forces and special attention will be paid to the state of the newly formed strategic merging in the North," said Shoigu.

Back in January, Putin announced major spending plans for Russian military infrastructure in the Arctic as well as expanding the very Northern Fleet currently testing its mettle.


Under Pressure From State Media, Russian Liberal Paper May Go Out of Print

One of Russia’s oldest and most liberal newspapers, famous for its critical stance against the Kremlin, is likely to go out of print, having come under considerable pressure due to competition from Russia’s state-sponsored newspapers.

Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov told Russian television station Dozhd that the newspaper would probably stop its print operations in May, although he did not say whether the newspaper’s website would continue to function...

“...The independent media in Russia is under enormous pressure, both politically and commercially, in its battle to publish stories that the authorities would rather are not covered,” says Rachael Jolley, editor of Index on Censorship. “Novaya Gazeta is seen as one of the last independent voices that tries to bring the Russian people objective coverage of important news.”

“Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed for her reporting, was one of the paper's most famous writers, and is emblematic of the type of reporting that is now being suppressed in Russia,” Jolley continues.


Who are the Russian dissidents on same hit list as slain Boris Nemtsov?

A Russian fashion magazine editor and daughter of the former liberal mayor of St Petersburg, Ksenia Sobchak, is to flee Russia after learning she featured on a list of Russian opposition figures targeted for assassination, the Moscow Times reported.

Sobchak, the daughter of Vladimir Putin's former political mentor Anatoly Sobchak, is a prominent media figure in Russia, and member of Russia's liberal opposition, who took part in anti-government protests in 2011 and 2012.

At a meeting of a Russian literary society on 13 March, Sobchak said: "I will leave Russia for some time," after her name appeared on a list of people targeted for assassination published by Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which also featured slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

The "kill list", reportedly compiled by a high ranking Chechen security official, has struck fear into the hearts of Russia's opposition, with some fleeing abroad and others stepping up their security.

Below, IBTimes UK profiles other Russian dissidents who reportedly featured on the list.


Russia to hold anti-racism summit over 2018 World Cup fears

MOSCOW — Russia is planning an international anti-racism summit this year to try and get on top of the problem before hosting the 2018 World Cup.

The conference is a response to a report which detailed more than 200 cases of discriminatory behavior linked to Russian soccer over two seasons, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Russian media.

Mutko said the conference would be held jointly with one of the two organizations behind that report, the UK-based Fare network.

“We’ll be holding a congress together with this organization in Russia. Let them appear and talk about the problems of racism that they see in Russian sport,” he was quoted as saying by the R-Sport agency.

However, Fare head Piara Powar told The Associated Press his organization had yet to confirm its participation following an approach from the Russian Football Union for an event that would be held either this month or next.

Powar said Russia was “free to do an event,” but that talk of a partnership with Fare was “very premature,” especially given that the event had been offered at short notice.

He added: “A quick event like this can only work if there are some clear outcomes, and some planning that involves the whole of Russian football to deal with the issues that they have in terms of discrimination and exclusion.”


Germany's Goal: Restoring Russia-Annexed Crimea to Ukraine

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's goal remains to restore the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, a year after Crimea's annexation by Russian forces.

Speaking after talks in Berlin with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Merkel said the March 19, 2014, annexation of the peninsula was a violation of international law that "called the peaceful order in Europe into question."

"It's important despite, or because of, this to work for a peaceful solution and not rest until the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored, and of course this includes Crimea," she said.

Merkel said if necessary, the European Union was prepared to bring more sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

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