Tag: Russia

US designates Russian white supremacist group as terrorists for the first time

US designates Russian white supremacist group as terrorists for the first time

The United States designated the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), a Russian nationalist group, as a foreign terrorist organization. The announcement came from the White House on April 6, wherein the US Counter-Terrorism said that this is the first time the country has ever designated supremacist terrorists. Blacklisting the Russian Imperial Movement, Nathan Sales, coordinator for the state department counter-terrorism, also maintained that the Trump administration takes such threats very seriously. In his statement on the matter, Sales said that the group has “innocent blood on its hands”.

Along with the group, the United States has also labelled three of its top leaders (Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, Denis Valliullovich Gariev, and Nikolay Nikolayevich Trushchalov) as specially designated global terrorists which will ensure that they separate sanctions.

As per the provision of the terror designation, the members of the group will not be allowed to enter the United States and all their assets in the country will be frozen. Furthermore, the Trump administration will be authorized to block the Americans from involving in any financial transactions with the members of the group.

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Reportedly, the Russian Imperial Movement is an ultra-nationalist paramilitary group based in St Petersburg. The group is believed to have neo-Nazi militants training camps in Western Europe and has aided election interference in the US. The group has alleged involvement in the neo-Nazi string of bombing in the Swedish city of Gothenburg in 2016 and 2017 which targeted the immigrants in the European country. The bombings were carried out by two attackers who received training from RIM. They were later arrested, tried and convicted by the Swedish authorities.

The decision to designate the group as a terrorist organization came by the White House owing to the executive order signed by Donald Trump in 2019 which gave the right to sanction foreign organizations based on their participation in terror activities. The US President has been facing criticism over his failure to take action against the violence propagated by the white supremacy groups in the US. He has also been called out by many for extending support to European nationalist politicians.
In 2019, the US President designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.

Putin might become the longest serving Dictator of Russia

Putin might become the longest serving Dictator of Russia

Vladimir Putin has made sure he remains at the helm for the next 16 years, as the court has officially cleared his credentials to continue as the President of Russia. Some proposed constitutional changes were the only hurdle to him potentially leading the country till 2036. With this move, Putin will go onto become the longest serving leader of Russia after Joseph Stalin in the 1920s who ruled over Russia through a combination of military and political power.

Putin had earlier proposed a significant amendment alteration that has now been accepted by the higher Russian court. The amendment allows Putin to run again in 2024 for power. He has served Russia since 1999 in capacity of both PM or President. With the new amendment, he would be in rule till the age of 83 years.

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It is being seen as an orchestrated move that had started to gain momentum since January 2020 when the whole parliament had willfully resigned and apologized on public television. It is said, the PM had been asked by Putin to resign and clear the way for his future leadership. The Russian leadership structure works on sense of authority and honor. This was a time when Putin removed longtime ally Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister and replaced him with the former head of the tax service, Mikhail Mishustin, in charge.

There might be a revolt in the making as the civilian population and professionals took to streets, despite the Coronarvirus scare, demanding the court not accept Putin’s plans. Mr. Putin’s leadership has been questionable since the kind of tension had built up with America and the various sanctions that have put pressure on the oil and gas industry players in the country.

An open letter was sent to the media, expressing the exasperation and lack of options for change in leadership. It read, “We believe that the threat of a deep constitutional crisis and an unlawful anti-constitutional coup in a pseudo-legal form is looming over our country.”

Putin is following suite with many countries that have loomed under single leadership for decades, leaving their population disappointed, fending for themselves and fragile economies in literal collapse. Lack of fresh leadership has brought countries like Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Turkey down on its knees.

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Al Qaeda thanks Turkey for protecting it from Russia and Syrian army
Europe, Middle East & Africa

Al Qaeda thanks Turkey for protecting it from Russia and Syrian army

Turkish soldiers are fighting along jihadists in Syria and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost many of his man in the last 2 weeks, as the coalition formed by Russia and the Syrian Army targeted many terrorist positions in the Idlib area. On March 7th, Al Qaeda’s now largest branch, Al Nusra Front, praised Erdogan because his Government stands beside Al Qaeda, and for other jihadist organizations which are trying to overthrow Syria’s legitimate Government of Bashar al-Assad. Al Qaeda in Syria now calls itself Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, which recently reaffirmed to continue 9-year war against Syria’s Government, and it especially damns Russian president Vladimir Putin for assisting that secular Government’s efforts to destroy Al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations in Syria. It’s clear that al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood’s leader Erdogan have the same goal, replace any man-made government with one made by God, so to apply the Islamic sharia law toward the creation of an Arab Islamic State.

“The jihad and resistance are a legitimate path for the peoples whose abode has been usurped, and freedom taken captive, and sons bound behind bars, so let them defend themselves and their land by force and arms and patience and insistence and in that the rights are regained, and the fate of the lands is that they should return to their people however long the night of the oppressors lasts and the occupier through its grip takes root over the hearts of the defenceless peoples”. Wrote Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, described by experts as a pro-jihadist ’scholar. In a statement titled “The Moscow Agreement: A New Mirage”, Al-Tamimi condemns what he calls as “the criminal gang in Damascus, supported by Russia” and praise Turkey to support rebels and terror organizations. “We thank the Turkish government for clearly standing with and supporting the Syrian revolution and participating with it in defending the civilians and protecting them in the recent battle.”

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Social media giants come down on fake accounts heavily

Social media giants come down on fake accounts heavily

The social media giants are proving to be socially responsible as they are now keeping the notorious and fictitious accounts at bay. It has now been confirmed that Facebook and Twitter have indeed terminated a network of fake accounts targeting the United States. These were essentially Russian-linked fake accounts that were operating out of Ghana and Nigeria.

Showing signs of activity similar to the ones in the past, official statements from Facebook have confirmed that the accounts were functioning by certain local individuals on behalf of Russian entities and were in the initial stages of building some kind of propaganda and audience.

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One major account and related Facebook pages belonged to an NGO. Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher shared via a conference call with the media that the network’s technique appeared “to be attempting to create an NGO that had real-world people working for it on the ground in Ghana as a way to build legitimacy for their narratives and use that to message out.”

So far, there has been no indication of focus on elections, or promote or denigrate political candidates. However, the accounts might be “attempting to sow discord by engaging in conversations about social issues, like race and civil rights.”

Posting on Facebook related groups, facebook pages run by fake NGOs and personal blogs were focused on topics such as black history, black excellence and fashion, celebrity gossip, U.S. news and LGBTQ issues. They also shared negative content about oppression and police brutality.

Social media companies are under pressure to police foreign and domestic misinformation on their platforms, particularly since U.S. intelligence officials said that Russia used social media platforms for an influence operation aimed at electing President Donald Trump – a claim that Moscow has denied.

Putin supporting a constitutional amendment that allows him to stay in power

Putin supporting a constitutional amendment that allows him to stay in power

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he supported a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek another term and remain in power. Today, Putin lent his support to the amendment presented by a female lawmaker, an astronaut and the first Soviet woman to go into space.

The legislator Valentina Tereshkova proposed either abolishing the limits of the presidential term or amending the Russian constitution to allow Putin to run again. A series of constitutional amendments will be made and voted nationwide on April 22.

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Putin supporting a constitutional amendment that allows him to stay in power
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For his part, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, opposed the proposal to abolish restrictions on the presidential term, saying that this authority should not be related to one person, and stressed that there is no need for early parliamentary elections.

Putin said, in a speech in the State Duma on the issue of constitutional amendments: “The president is the one who is considered the guarantor of the constitution, or in the simplest words the guarantor of the security of our country and its internal stability, especially for its developmental growth, because we have just lived through a sufficient number of revolutions.”
Putin added that he was certain that the presidential power in Russia would not be embodied by one particular person, adding that he understood that the president plays a big role in achieving this.

Putin indicated that his country is currently facing several challenges, including the risk of the Coruna virus spread and instability in the global economy, but he stressed that Russia will surpass this stage in a way that is worthwhile.
The Russian President added, “For this reason, I believe that removing the restrictions on the Presidents’ states number in the constitution is futile.”

Nevertheless, Putin pointed out that the approval of the constitutional amendment, which was submitted by the State Duma and stipulated that the number of its states be increased, is possible if the constitutional judiciary agrees to this in an official ruling that will confirm that such action will not contradict the principles of the constitution.

He stressed that the president’s authority must remain strong in Russia, considering that it is not possible to implement a system of parliamentary governance in it.

He stressed the need to avoid duplication of power, including by granting presidential powers to the State Council, which he plans to form in the event that constitutional amendments are adopted during the general vote in the country, stressing that duplication will lead to an inevitable division in society.

The Russian President also considered that there is no need to hold any early parliamentary elections if the constitutional amendments are approved. The current law limits the presidents to assuming power for two consecutive terms.

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Vladimir Putin makes a significant stride nearer to being Russia’s leader once again beyond 2024

Vladimir Putin makes a significant stride nearer to being Russia’s leader once again beyond 2024

On Wednesday, The Russian parliament affirmed a broad established change in the third and final reading, a step that will permit President Vladimir Putin to remain in power for an additional 12 years after his present term finishes in 2024.

The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, embraced a lot of revisions to the constitution, including an arrangement resetting the term mean the presidential office, making it workable for Putin to run once more, something the present law restricts.

A sum total of 383 State Duma administrators cast a ballot for the changes, with 43 abstentions and none in opposition.

The terms should now be affirmed by the upper house federation council and be put to a public referendum scheduled for 22 April.

Putin has served Russia for a long time, regardless of whether as president or a prime minister. He has shifted back and forth between the roles as the constitution as of now doesn’t take into account presidents to serve more than two consecutive terms in office.

The proposed alteration to the constitution would dismiss this hindrance to Putin pursuing the same in 2024. The nation’s court currently needs to approve the changes before a national vote is held on the bill (and others, including an extension of the parliament’s authorization) on 22 April.

In January, Putin delineated constitutional reforms, including changes to confine presidential powers and to hand more authority to parliament. The changes caused a stir with experts scrutinizing Putin’s motives and whether he was attempting to broaden his hold on government or carve out new rules for himself in case he leaves office.

On Tuesday, Putin showed up in parliament and gave his support for the annulment of limits on the presidential terms, and contending that a stable presidential power was essential for Russia’s political solidness, security and economy during a period of vulnerability.

The amendment will more likely get the necessary endorsement from the parliament, the court, and from the public in the scheduled election on 22 April,” experts at Eurasia Group stated in a note on Tuesday. “Rather than maintaining power by switching to an alternative office, Putin presently looks likely to run for president again when his term ends in 2024,” The National reported.

The president has not explained what his plans are for the future following 2024 yet has stated he doesn’t support the Soviet-era ways of having ministers who die while in office.

Article Credit: CNBC/Reuters

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Kremlin: Trump will not attend the Day of Victory in Moscow
Americas, Europe

Kremlin: Trump will not attend the Day of Victory in Moscow

The Kremlin announced Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump will not attend Moscow celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Dimitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that Washington had informed Russia through diplomatic channels that Trump will not participate the Victory Day celebrations to be held in Moscow on May 9. Peskov added that it is unclear if an American delegation will join the celebrations in Russia. The Russian agency ‘TASS’ also published Tuesday, extracts from a long interview with Putin, saying that he believed any decision by Western leaders not to participate in the anniversary would be a mistake.

“For our former allies in the anti-Hitler alliance, the right behaviour would be to come to us, both in terms of internal and moral policy,” stated president Putin. Moscow has been closed in line with several European countries during the WWII era. Putin sparked widespread anger after noticing that Poland and western powers collaborated with Hitler, prompting Polish President Andrzej Doda to give up participating in a high-level event on the Nazi holocaust in Jerusalem in late January. His statements ran counter to the facts of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany, which included secret provisions that divided Poland and paved the way for Hitler’s invasion. But in the interview, Putin underlined his point of view, noting that Britain, France and Poland “worked with Hitler” and signed joint documents before the outbreak of the war.

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Saudi and Russia Refuse To See Eye-to-Eye As Market Floods With Crude
Middle East & Africa

Saudi and Russia Refuse To See Eye-to-Eye As Market Floods With Crude

Saudi Arabia and Russia’s skirmish over the oil prices has rocked the whole oil economy worldwide. The OPEC leader has been able to convince investors to move ahead with its decisions to pull down prices and escalate output, a decision that Russia has been completely against.

It is now confirmed that investors are responding to Saudi Arabia’s decision over the weekend, despite existing threats to demand from the coronavirus epidemic. The decision has petted both heavy weights against each other.

Earlier it was the US against Iran and now it’s the Kingdom against Moscow. It is extremely important that Russia comes back to the negotiation table soon. Else, investors worry companies will default, making banks less willing to lend, and causing the economy to stutter.

Saudi Arabia has made the deepest cuts ever in the last 20 years, as a country which thrives on the sales of its hydrocarbons. With Russia vetoing the Kingdom’s decision, an evitable collapse of the OPEC is being preempted. A four year long alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia has formally come to an end.

Political analysts believe that the cataclysmic collapse will resonate through the energy industry, from giants like Exxon Mobil Corp. to smaller shale drillers in West Texas. It will hit the budgets of oil-dependent nations from Iraq to Nigeria and could also reshape global politics, eroding the influence of countries like Saudi Arabia. The fight against climate change may suffer a setback as fossil fuels become more competitive versus renewable energy.

Economies are going down miserably all over the globe. The yield on the 10-year Treasury tumbled to 0.387%. Yields move inversely to prices. In Europe, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 2.8% with France’s CAC 40 benchmark dropping 2.7% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 off 8.4%

Australia saw its worst again after 2008 recession when the S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 7.3%, taking it back to its old memories of being caught in the depths of the global financial crisis. The story in Japan is no better. Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 5.1%, its biggest daily drop since 2016. The yen, which often rallies in times of market stress, surged to trade below 103 to the dollar, at its strongest levels since 2016.

It is also looking like that desperate to keep the inventories into check and hammered by withering demand due to the coronavirus, the oil market is quickly flooding the market with crude, leading to a situation of a supply free-for-all. Long term repercussions could be catastrophic on each and every partnering nation economy.

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In the Netherlands, the trial of suspects in the case of MH17

In the Netherlands, the trial of suspects in the case of MH17

The trial of persons suspected of involvement in the crash of flight MH17 in July 2014 began on Monday in the Netherlands. The dock is empty, however, Russian lawyers Oleg Pulatov are present at the hearings at the Schiphol court complex near Amsterdam. Presiding Judge Hendrick Steinhuis confirmed this by opening the meeting.

“Representatives of the relatives of the victims of the tragedy, as well as the defense representing Pulatov, are present in the meeting room,” he stated. We are talking about two Dutch lawyers from the office of Sjocrona – Van Stigt. In addition, a Russian lawyer Elena Kutina, also representing Pulatov, is present at the hearing. However, she “does not have the right to speak before a Dutch court, although she is a member of the defense team,” Steinhuis said.

The judge added that the Dutch military police are observing the order in the courtroom.

Steinhuis said the trial for the crash of flight MH17 had already been planned at least until the end of 2021.

“Last year, in June 2019, the court decided to hold a meeting on March 9, 2020 at the request of the prosecutor’s office. Then, the courtrooms were reserved for several blocks of hearings that will begin on June 8, 2020, August 21, 2020 and October 1, 2021,” said he, explaining the course of the upcoming process.

Steinhuis added that the Dutch court considers four Russian defendants in the MH17 crash case as defendants.
“There are only four defendants against whom the state prosecutor has charged,” he said, noting that today it will be finally known whether one of them will appear in the courtroom and whether they will be represented by lawyers.

The meeting, he said, is designed to determine the current state of affairs. The presiding judge also noted that the court has yet to decide whether to continue the investigation of MH17. He clarified that the case has 36 thousand pages and a lot of media files. “This is a digital trial,” Steinhuis added.

The hearings scheduled for March 9-13 are devoted to the solution of technical, organizational and administrative issues: have the suspects received subpoenas, are they aware that a criminal case has been opened against them in the Netherlands, what exactly are they accused of, can they be tried in absentia whether the prosecutor’s office is ready to present evidence of what role the relatives of the victims will play. For the same purpose, another week was allotted in March – from 23 to 27, inclusive. In fact, if the case begins, it will not be earlier than June 8th.

It is known that the prosecutor’s case has 102 volumes and 36 thousand pages. The trial of the other three suspects – the Russians Igor Girkin, known under the pseudonym Strelkov, and Sergey Dubinsky, as well as the Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko – will most likely be held in absentia. However, the presiding judge must make a separate decision in this regard.

The trial itself is taking place against the backdrop of serious disagreements between Russia and the West as to whether the results of the investigation can be trusted. The Joint Investigation Team (CCG) is responsible for it, which includes representatives from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. Experts first concluded that Boeing was shot down by Buk air defense systems, and in June 2019 they stated that they had identified four individuals suspected of involvement in the incident. Russian officials have repeatedly expressed distrust of the results of the SSG, pointed out the groundlessness of the arguments of the prosecution and unwillingness to use the conclusions of the Russian side during the investigation.

Doubts were added by a number of documents published recently by the platform for independent journalists Bonanza Media. One of them indicates that, according to the Dutch side, the tragedy occurred in an area where there was not a single Buk anti-aircraft missile system. Other documents suggest that Ukrainian fighters were seen in the sky during a plane crash and that representatives of Malaysia often were not present at the meetings of the SSG. The minutes of the meeting of the operational headquarters of the Joint Investigative Group, published on Saturday, indicate that members of the Dutch prosecutor’s office raised the issue of “violating Russia’s sovereignty by accessing witnesses who most likely live in the Russian Federation without informing the Russian authorities about this.” Following this, it was a matter of luring witnesses, and then “interrogating suspects in the Russian Federation without informing or involving the Russian authorities in this.”

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US blocks UN Security Council declaration on Russia-Turkey agreement
Americas, Europe

US blocks UN Security Council declaration on Russia-Turkey agreement

The United States opposed the adoption of a general statement by the UN Security Council for the press in support of the Russian-Turkish accords on Syria, a source in the UN Security Council.

On Friday, the Russian Federation initiated a meeting of the UN Security Council at which it told partners about the agreements of Moscow and Ankara on Idlib. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that Russia wanted to accept elements for the press, but because of the position of one delegation this was not possible.

“This happened because of the United States,” the source said, adding that the draft press statement expressed support for the Russian-Turkish agreement.

Talks between Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan over the exacerbation in the Syrian province of Idlib were held on Thursday in Moscow. Following the meeting, a joint document was adopted. The parties reaffirmed their commitment to the “Astana format” and announced the introduction of a ceasefire regime from midnight. In addition, the parties agreed to jointly patrol the important M4 highway, which is now under the control of militants.

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While corona virus pandemic has put people worldwide into a lockdown, water shortage is making a lot of people in Middle East frustrated and angry.
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