Custody pending trial for the CEO of Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali, who was arrested in Belarus in August, has been replaced with house arrest, his lawyer said Thursday. “The measure of restraint for Vladislav Baumgertner, arrested in Minsk, was suddenly changed this night. He was placed under house arrest,” lawyer Alexei Basistov told RIA Novosti. Uralkali, the world’s biggest producer of potash, has been embroiled in a dispute with Belarusian fertilizer giant Belaruskali since July when Uralkali dissolved an international cartel within which the two companies were cooperating. The move sent international fertilizer prices tumbling. In an apparent act of revenge by Minsk, Baumgertner was charged with abuse of power and taken into custody pending trial. According to Basistov, Baumgertner currently lives under round-the-clock surveillance in an apartment picked for him by Belarusian security service officers. His mother, who flew to Minsk Wednesday, has been reportedly allowed to visit him.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
The Russian delegation walked out Wednesday during outgoing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s speech at the UN General Assembly, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “As a token of disagreement with the assessments voiced by Mr. Saakashvili from the General Assembly rostrum, Russian representatives walked out of the hall,” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. The delegation left the hall close to the end of the 20-minute speech, more than half of which the Georgian leader devoted to fiercely criticizing the Russian authorities and their policy in former Soviet republics. Several minutes into his speech, Saakashvili launched into a description of a world in which countries on Russia’s borders exist under “constant pressures and threats” from an “old empire” that “is trying to reclaim its bygone borders.”
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in Wednesday on the debate over the Greenpeace activists who were detained and face piracy charges after protesting at a Russian oil rig in the Arctic Ocean, criticizing their actions as dangerous. Speaking about the 30 detained Greenpeace activists at an international forum on Arctic exploration in the northern Russian city of Salekhard, Putin said it was “obvious they’re not pirates,” but added that they had been trying to seize the rig and authorities had responded with due concern for security. “Our law enforcement authorities and border guards didn’t know who might be trying to seize the rig under the guise of Greenpeace activists,” Putin said in remarks televised by the state-run Rossia 24 television. Russian border guards seized the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise and its multinational crew in international waters last Thursday after two of the activists scaled the side of the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea in a demonstration against Arctic oil drilling the day before. The suspects face up to 15 years in prison under the piracy case opened by Russian investigators this week, which Greenpeace dismissed as absurd, saying that the protest was peaceful and that the border patrol had seized the Arctic Sunrise at gunpoint.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been put in solitary for the duration of inspection after the complaints about threats directed against her, Gennady Morozov, chairman of the regional Public monitoring committee, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday. This measure has been taken not as a punishment, Morozov said. On Monday, lawyer Irina Khrunova said that Tolokonnikova has gone on a hunger strike. The attorney also added that Tolokonnikova has written a complaint to the Investigative Committee, in which she claims to be threatened by the inmates and the prison's employees. In her letter, Tolokonnikova, 23, paints a grim picture of life in her prison colony in Russia’s republic of Mordovia, alleging inmates are forced to work 17-hour days, permitted to sleep for only four hours a night, deprived of toilet access, washing facilities and food, and suffer regular beatings sanctioned by the prison authorities. Prison officials have unchecked authority within the prison camp, and prevent the prisoners from making any complaints through official channels by intimidation and confiscation, according to Tolokonnikova, Lenta.ru reported.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Russia’s Federal Security Service announced on Friday that it had seized a Greenpeace International ship and its crew after a series of protests at an offshore oil rig in the Arctic Ocean and that it would tow the ship to port in Murmansk to conduct an investigation. The seizure of the ship on Thursday night, which was carried out by armed border guards dropped by helicopter, threatened to escalate into a diplomatic confrontation, since the crew includes citizens of several countries, including one American. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already issued a protest to the Dutch ambassador, because the ship, the Arctic Sunrise, is registered in the Netherlands and Greenpeace International is based there. The Federal Security Service, which oversees Russia’s border guards, said in a statement that the ship had been seized under laws governing Russia’s exclusive economic zone and that its activities would be reported to the country’s Investigative Committee for possible criminal charges. The committee’s regional branch, in a separate statement, said it was considering charges of piracy.
The Moscow City Court has refused to annul the mayoral election results that were contested by Alexei Navalny, an opposition activist and the runner-up in the election, RAPSI learned in the courtroom Friday. One major lawsuit was filed with the Moscow City Court along with 951 minor ones lodged with other courts in Moscow. The lawsuits are based on Navalny's theories of uneven media coverage for the candidates, as well as attempts to sway the vote of Moscow's senior citizens by unlawful means. The mayoral election took place in Moscow on September 8. Navalny received 27.24% of the vote, compared with the 51.37% received by Sergei Sobyanin, a former Kremlin official, according to the city's election commission. Communist Party nominee Ivan Melnikov received 10.69%, and the three remaining candidates all scored in the single digits. Independent election monitor GOLOS, which deployed a network of election observers, placed Sobyanin's result at 49.45%and Navalny's at 28.56%. Navalny claimed earlier on his blog that at least 28,000 ballots, or 2% of the vote, were rigged to give Sobyanin more than 50%, thus ruling out a runoff.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday the US is “blackmailing” Moscow over a UN resolution on Syria that could allow the use of force. "Our American partners are starting to blackmail us: if Russia does not support a resolution under Chapter VII in the UN Security Council, then we will stop the work in the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague," Lavrov said in a Channel One interview. Lavrov said “this is an absolute withdrawal from” what had been agreed with US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month – first the OPCW decision on Syria's chemical weapons and then the UN Security Council Resolution, but not under Chapter VII (action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression). The Russian foreign minister also said Russia was ready to send servicemen and military police to Syria in an effort to secure the work of experts on chemical weapons sites. After weeks of intense diplomacy and an almost three-day-long marathon of talks in Geneva between Lavrov and Kerry, Moscow and Washington reached a breakthrough agreement in mid-September. The deal stipulates that Damascus will submit a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons within a week, that weapons inspectors will be on the ground in Syria by November, and that all the country’s weapons will be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Several dozen Russian scholars and their supporters protested against plans to reform the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow on Tuesday, as lawmakers met to discuss the proposed changes. The reform initiative, which was rolled back Tuesday from the third to the second reading in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, proposes passing control over the 400-plus research institutions under the Russian Academy of Sciences to a government agency. Critics say this would cripple research. As protesters rallied outside, work on the bill continued in the Duma on Tuesday, and a crucial second reading was proposed for Wednesday. City police estimated the turnout at 150, including journalists, while academy member Valery Rybakov, an expert on quantum theory who took part in the protest, told Kommersant daily about 500 demonstrators came.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
A prominent member of Russia's parliament has exploited the deadly shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington to ridicule the United States. Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee, tweeted Monday that "nobody's even surprised anymore" by such an attack, which he called "a clear confirmation of American exceptionalism." Pushkov, who also hosts a political talk show, serves as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin's most anti-American faction. In an opinion piece published last week in The New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized America for seeing itself as exceptional.
The Chairman of Russia’s Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, has been injured in a road accident in Ghana, Russian officials told RIA Novosti on Tuesday. Lebedev, 70, was on his way to Accra on Monday after a speech at the Ghana Bar Association in the city of Ho when a truck slammed into his convoy late that evening, local media reported. A diplomatic source told RIA Novosti that the Russian embassy in Ghana is assisting Lebedev, who was rushed to the hospital after the crash. “Lebedev was involved in a car accident and transported to a military hospital in [Ghana’s capital] Accra for medical treatment,” the source said. “The Russian embassy in Ghana is providing him with all necessary assistance.”
Monday, September 16, 2013
Former Olympic figure skating champion Irina Rodnina, currently Member of Parliament in Moscow, sparked a wave of protests in the Russian blogosphere after posting on her Twitter account a digitally manipulated photo, depicting Michelle Obama and her husband President Barack who was sitting right next to her and chewing, while the foreground shows an outstretched hand holding a banana the American leaders seem to look at. rina Rodnina explained that the photo “was sent from the United States ” and added that she sees no problem for re-posting it on Twitter. “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech! Answer for your own hang-ups yourselves!”, tweeted Rodnina after being accused of racism. Rodnina , a member of the ruling party United Russia has worked as a coach in the United States and her daughter still lives there.
A US federal court Wednesday issued a protective order over property implicated in a lawsuit alleging fowl play by a Russian criminal enterprise linked to the Hermitage Capital Fund. The protective order issued Wednesday applies to all in personam defendants, including numerous Prevezon entities, and two other companies – Ferencoi Investments, Ltd. and Kolevins, Ltd. – as well as any attorneys or other such representatives acting on their behalves. Prevezon Holdings belongs to Denis Kantsyv, the son of former Moscow Region Transport Minister Petr Kantsyv, an attorney for Denis Kantsyv confirmed to RAPSI Wednesday. Prosecutors allege that certain Manhattan properties were purchased with money fraudulently acquired through a Russian tax scheme unveiled by Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow pre-trial detention center in 2009. Denis Katsyv's attorney stressed, however, that neither her client nor any of his relatives are linked with the Magnitsky case specifically or the Hermitage Fund in general. Magnitsky was arrested on November 24, 2008, on suspicion of having masterminded large-scale corporate tax evasion. He died while in pretrial detention on November 16, 2009, after spending a year behind bars. The case was closed after his death, only to be reopened later. Under Russian law, a person can be prosecuted after death. On July 11 Magnitsky was found guilty of tax evasion. On Dec. 6, 2012, the US Senate approved the Magnitsky Act, to severe criticism from the Russian State Duma, stipulating visa sanctions for Russians who are believed by US authorities to have been involved in human rights violations. The Magnitsky List, which was published in part on April 12, includes the names of 18 Russian officials who are barred from travelling to the United States.
20th Century Fox appealed the Moscow Commercial Court’s ruling to terminate the film company’s lawsuit seeking immediate termination of the legal protection of PoBeGi trademark in Russia, the court told RAPSI on Friday. The Moscow Commercial Court on April 9 terminated the trademark’s legal protection. However, the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals on July 25 granted the appeal of the trademark’s holder, the sports company Begushchy Gorod (Running City), thus invalidating the lower court’s decision. 20th Century Fox sought to cancel the legal protection of the trademark because the defendant was not using it, while the film company needed it for the Russian adaptation of its Prison Break TV series produced in 2010 under the name Pobeg. A lawyer representing the Russian company objected that the brand is being used for its city orienteering events, posters, and other products. The first event took place in 2000 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The PoBeGi project emerged as a branch of the company in 2007. City races differ from classical orienteering championships in the way that control points are designated: in city orienteering, addresses may be used alongside local names and city landscape marks, symbols, photos, descriptions and city riddles.
Attorneys for opposition activist and Moscow mayoral hopeful Alexei Navalny and his co-accused Pyotr Ofitserov, who were indicted convicted and sentenced on embezzlement charges, have filed with the court comments their remarks on that the transcript of their trial claiming contains omissions and distortions. “I have sent remarks today which took 89 pages via postal office,” Navalny’s attorney Sergei Kobelev told RAPSI Friday that he had submitted 89-pages worth of comments on the transcript. He added that remarks comments concern omissions or distortions in the testimonies of the parties in to the case. In his wordsAccording to the attorney, Svetlana Davydova who represents Ofitserov, has also filed her remarkscomments as well. Navalny was found guilty of timber embezzlement last in July stemming from a stint spent serving as an advisor to Kirov governor Nikita Belykh between May and September 2009. According to investigators, Navalny organized the theft of over 10,000 cubic meters of timber during that period in collusion with Vyatka Timber Company Director Pyotr Ofitserov and Kirovles CEO Vyacheslav Opalyov. He was sentenced to five years in a penal colony, and his co-accused Pyotr Ofitserov received a four-year sentence. The two were held liable to pay a one million ruble fine between them. Both Navalny and Ofitserov were released from custody until pending their appeal, which was filed with the court in late July. against the verdict is considered. It has reached the court late in July.
447 lawsuits filed by Alexei Navalny, an opposition activist and the runner-up in the mayoral election, against the election results have been submitted to the district courts of Moscow, the Moscow City Court's press office told RAPSI on Friday. According to the statement, 16 courts received the lawsuits. Navalny filed numerous lawsuits with The Moscow City Court contesting the election results. One large lawsuit was filed with the Moscow City Court along with 951 more to be filed in various jurisdictions throughout Moscow. The lawsuits are based on Navalny's theories of uneven media coverage for the candidates, as well as attempts to sway the vote of Moscow's senior citizens by unlawful means.
Russian football team Terek Grozny have appealed to the country's FA to punish Zenit St. Petersburg fans who reportedly set fire to the Chechen flag during this weekend's Premier League match in the northern city. The incident occurred during the second half of Saturday's game, which finished 2-0 to Zenit, according to a statement on Terek's website. "Today we have officially appealed to all Russian football structures with a request to investigate this incident, find and punish the culprits," the statement said. "It's not particularly difficult. Their faces are clearly visibly on photo and videos. We also expect an apology from Zenit football club," it added. The Russian Premier League's executive director Sergei Cheban said police were investigating and blamed the incident on "two hooligans" as opposed to "Zenit fans" as a group.
US President Barack Obama said Saturday that he “welcomes” the surprise deal Moscow and Washington reached on chemical weapons in war-ravaged Syria, but warned that the US will use military force if diplomacy fails. The breakthrough agreement struck earlier Saturday came after weeks of intense diplomacy and an almost three-day-long marathon of talks in Geneva between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry. Obama said in a statement that the agreement was an “important” step in bringing all chemical weapons in Syria under international control and destroying them by mid-2014. “I welcome the progress made between the United States and Russia through our talks in Geneva, which represents an important, concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they may ultimately be destroyed,” he said in a statement.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
US President Barack Obama has said that a Russian initiative to put Syrian chemical arms under international supervision is potentially positive but cautioned that it could be an attempt to stall US military action against Syria. "This represents a potentially positive development," Obama said in an interview with NBC on Monday, adding that it should be taken “with a grain of salt initially.” Obama, who is seeking to persuade the US lawmakers to endorse White House plans for a “limited” military strike on Syria, pledged to take the Russian proposal seriously and said he had asked US State Secretary John Kerry to explore together with the Russian side the possibility of a deal with Bashar Assad’s regime.
Monday, September 9, 2013
On Monday, the Moscow City Court found rampaging lawyer Dmitry Vinogradov guilty of six counts of murder and sentenced him to life in prison, RAPSI reported from the courtroom. Vinogradov, 29, a Moscow lawyer, went into the office of the pharmaceutical company he worked for on the morning of November 7 and shot at his colleagues, killing three men and two women and wounding a fourth man, who later died in hospital. Hours before the shooting, Vinogradov posted a message on a social network about his homicidal agenda and expressed hatred for the human race. Forensic experts confirmed his sanity during the investigation.
Opposition candidate Yevgeny Roizman won a surprise victory against the pro-Kremlin candidate in the mayoral election in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, but the local elections chief warned that the preliminary results might be re-evaluated after reports of fraud. Roizman, who heads the City Without Drugs organization and ran on the ticket of the Civic Platform party, was elected mayor with 30.11 percent of the Sunday vote after 100 percent of ballots were counted, Interfax reported, citing the city's elections committee. United Russia candidate Yakov Silin, who also serves a deputy governor of the Sverdlovsk region, whose main city is Yekaterinburg, placed second with 26.48 percent. The winning candidate needs only a simple majority to win.
A nearly complete vote count shows the incumbent Moscow mayor has garnered 51 percent of the vote, with opposition leader Alexei Navalny finishing second. The Moscow Election Commission said Monday morning that Sergei Sobyanin got 51 percent of the vote and Navalny 27 percent with 99.8 percent of the vote counted. That leaves Navalny, who has energized Moscow's opposition in his grassroots campaign, 1 percent short of the run-off. Navalny's campaign chief said overnight they will not recognize the official result because of the vote-rigging they say they have witnessed. Navalny would not comment on the result until all the votes are counted. The Moscow mayoral race was being watched as a pivotal test for the Russian opposition and Navalny who was recently convicted of embezzlement, the charges that he says are politically motivated.
Friday, September 6, 2013
The Kremlin chief of staff on Thursday dismissed as “hogwash” ("bred sivoy kobyly" in Russian) accusations that Russia was supplying chemical weapons and technologies to the Syrian government. “I heard the Pentagon chief saying that we supply chemical weapons to Syria and then correcting himself that no, not weapons but technologies to develop and produce it – well, this is, pardon me, hogwash,” the head of the Russian presidential administration, Sergei Ivanov, told journalists. Ivanov, who previously headed the governmental commission on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), said he was “surprised, if not to say shocked,” to hear the US accusation. The issue has been repeatedly discussed by the presidents of both Russia and the United States, and “no accusations have ever been voiced against Russia that it contributes to the proliferation of WMDs.” Speaking in testimony before the US congressional Foreign Affairs Committee, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday: “There’s no secret that the Assad regime has had chemical weapons, significant stockpiles of chemical weapons.” Pressed by a representative to name the origin of those chemical weapons, Hagel added: “The Russians supply them, others are supplying them with those chemical weapons, they make some themselves.” In a statement released shortly after Hagel made his comments, Pentagon spokesman George Little attenuated the US defense chief’s remarks, saying the secretary “was referring to the well-known conventional arms relationship between Syria and Russia.”
Thursday, September 5, 2013
During a televised meeting of the Russian presidential human rights council, Russian President Vlaimir Putin accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of lying to the Congress, claiming that Kerry had denied that al-Qaeda was fighting with the Syrian opposition in that country's civil war. “They are lying, of course, in an ugly way. I watched the debates in Congress,” Putin said. “A congressman asks Mr. Kerry: ‘Is al-Qaeda there? There has been rumor that they are gaining strength.’ He says: ‘No, I am telling you firmly: there are none of them there.’” “The principal combative unit [among the Syrian rebels] is the so-called Nusra, which is an al-Qaeda unit,” Putin continued. “And they know this. I even felt quite awkward. We are communicating with them and assume that they are decent people and he is telling an outright lie. He knows that he is lying. This is sad.” Putin seemed to be referring to an exchange during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing between Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Kerry. Sen. Johnson told Kerry: “This is more of an impression I have as opposed to any exact knowledge, but it seems like initially, the opposition was maybe more Western-leaning, more moderate, more democratic, and as time has gone by, it’s degraded, become more infiltrated by al-Qaeda. Is that basically true?” “No, that is – no, that is actually basically not true. It’s basically incorrect,” Kerry said. “The opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution, which will be broad-based and secular with respect to the future of Syria.”
State Department: Kerry is “not losing sleep after such a preposterous comment"
State Department: Kerry is “not losing sleep after such a preposterous comment"
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The US may be right in demanding the extradition of Edward Snowden, but the problem lies in the lack of treaties between the two countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the Associated Press. When asked whether the US Administration is right in asking for Snowden to be turned over, Putting replied, "maybe yes." "See, the problem lies elsewhere. We don't know whether the administration is right or wrong. We are not protecting Snowden. The problem is that we don't have extradition treaties with the US," President Putin said. He added that Russia had proposed the establishment of such a treaty on numerous occasions, but that each time the US refused. Edward Snowden, 30, a former US intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage and theft charges after leaking classified information about the US National Security Agency's (NSA) sweeping telephone and electronic surveillance programs. He received temporary asylum from Russia earlier this month, a move that has further strained US-Russian relations and prompted an outcry from the administration of US President Barack Obama and members of Congress.
Moscow mayoral candidate and opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign may stem from a drive for popular support rather than a genuine concern for the public interest, President Vladimir Putin claimed Wednesday. He cited Navalny’s recent conviction for embezzlement as a mark against the authenticity of his anti-corruption platform. “If a person talks about a fight against corruption, he himself must be, above all, spotlessly clean,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press and Russia's state TV network Channel 1. “I unfortunately have suspicions that this is just a way to score points rather than a genuine desire to solve problems.” Navalny, who has based his opposition activism and election campaign for Moscow mayor on a vociferous anti-corruption platform, was found guilty of embezzlement in mid-July and sentenced to five years in prison. Many observers and his supporters claimed the trial was a politically motivated attempt to stop his anti-corruption drive.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Interpol put Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov on a wanted list Monday, Belarusian television reported, citing the Interior Ministry. Kerimov is the biggest shareholder in fertilizer giant Uralkali, which is embroiled in a commercial battle with its Belarusian counterpart. Minsk is seeking his detention, including through an international arrest warrant, on charges that carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, the Belarusian state news agency BelTA reported. The arrest warrant is an escalation of the criminal case facing businessmen linked to Uralkali after the company’s CEO, Vladislav Baumgertner, was arrested last week in Minsk's airport following a reported invitation from Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich to attend an official meeting. In July, Uralkali, the world's biggest potash producer, dissolved an international cartel with Belarusian potash giant Belaruskali, blaming Minsk for violating their cooperation agreement. The move sent shares in fertilizer producers tumbling worldwide and has precipitated a steady fall in fertilizer prices as consumers and traders anticipate a spike in competition for customers.
Monday, September 2, 2013
The Russian Foreign Ministry is advising Russian nationals "who believe a United States law enforcement agency has some claims against them not to travel abroad, and in particular not to visit countries that have signed bilateral extradition treaties" with Washington, the ministry said Monday. There has been a rise in the incidence of detentions of Russian citizens in different parts of the world on warrants from US law enforcement agencies, with the aim of extraditing and prosecuting them in the US, the ministry said in a statement on its website. It cites the arrest of Dmitry Ustinov in Lithuania, Dmitry Belorossov in Spain, Maxim Chukharev in Costa Rica and Alexander Panin in the Dominican Republic. Ustinov was extradited to the US from Lithuania last week on suspicion of exporting military technology from the US to Russia. Chukharev was wanted in connection with a money-laundering probe, while it was not clear on what ground the US wanted Belorossov or Panin. Russia has previously protested vigorously to Washington about its extradition of Russian nationals from third party states, most notably in the case of convicted arms smuggler Viktor Bout, dubbed the Merchant of Death by US media.
Russia’s Central Bank (Bank of Russia), which will now carry out functions of the former Federal Financial Markets Service /FSFR/, begins from September 1 to work as a mega regulator. To fulfil the functions of FSFR, the Central Bank has organised a Service on Financial Markets, which Head will be Sergei Shvetsov. In this position, he will also be the Central Bank’s Deputy Chairperson. Under the new provisions, the Bank of Russia offers and implements policies to develop and provide stability of the Russian financial market. The Bank will regulate, control and supervise corporate relations of joint stock companies and activities of non-credit financial organisations - including insurance, clearing, micro-financial, pension funds, mutual funds, etc. The Central Bank will protect rights and legal interests of the insured, insurers, depositors and members of non-state pension funds, shareholders and investors in financial markets.