Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

BREAKING: Russia ‘Printing Money for Syria’ Claims Latest Report

November 29, 2012

By Alex Spillius

Russia is printing bank notes and sending them by the plane load to Syria to help the besieged regime pay its soldiers and civil servants, a new report suggests.

Flight records obtained by the investigative website ProPublica showed that at least 120 and up to 240 tons of bank notes were delivered during a ten-week period between July and September.

On eight round-trip trips between Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and Damascus International Airport, the “Type of Cargo” is listed as “Bank – Notes (30 Ton)”. Neither their denomination nor value was specified however.

Seven of the eight Syria Air flights were confirmed through international plane-tracking services, photographs from amateur plane-spotters and official air traffic control records.

Each manifest detailed a circuitous route over Iran and Iraq, countries that are friendly to the Syrian regime, rather than the most direct route over Turkey, which has become a foe of President Bashar al-Assad.

The deliveries appear to have softened the damage caused to the Syrian regime by stiff European sanctions, which among other things annulled an agreement with an Austrian bank that had previously printed the Syrian pound.

The EU has passed 19 rounds of sanctions against the regime since pro-democracy protests in March 2011 descended into a civil war that has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives.

Russia has been Mr Assad’s key international ally throughout, blocking punitive resolutions in the UN Security Council on three occasions.

In the summer, it was reported that Russia had begun printing Syrian pounds and had already delivered its first shipment, while Damascus-based bankers said that new bank notes printed in Russia were circulating in trial amounts in the capital and Aleppo, the commercial capital.

Such reports were denied by the Syrian Central Bank, but in August the official Syrian news agency, Sana, quoted Syrian officials on a visit to Moscow as saying that Russia was printing money for Damascus.

Ibrahim Saif of the Carnegie Middle East Centre said that 30 tons of bank notes was a significant amount for a country of Syria’s size.

“I truly believe they are printing money because they need new notes. Most of the government revenue that comes from taxes, in terms of other services, it’s almost now dried up.

But, he added, “they continue to pay salaries”.

“They have not shown any signs of weakness in fulfilling their domestic obligations. The only way they can do this is to get some sort of cash in the market.”

Source: Telegraph

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‘Russian Breivik’ kills 5 over relationship breakup, releases hate manifesto

November 7, 2012

A Moscow lawyer shot five of his coworkers in the head Wednesday, killing them in a murder spree that targeted those he deemed responsible for the recent end of a romantic relationship. Before the killings, he published a hate manifesto online

The Return of the Mammoth? Russian and South Korean Scientists Sign Deal to Bring Extinct Beast Back To Life

November 7, 2012

Huffington Post

Russian and South Korea scientists have teamed up to recreate a woolly mammoth – a prehistoric creature that last walked the earth some 4,500 years ago.

The deal was signed on Tuesday by Vasily Vasiliev, of North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic and stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, AFP revealed.

The team aim to get to work on thawed remains of the extinct mammal recovered after global warming thawed Siberia’s permafrost.

The mammoth’s tissues are to be cloned by using eggs taken from a modern Indian elephant, the Korea Herald reported.

Once the tissues have undergone a nuclear transfer process, the eggs will be implanted into the womb of a live elephant.

Hwang lost face in the international scientific community in 2005 when his breakthrough human cloning research involving embryonic stem cells was found to have been faked.

He is also responsible for creating the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, in 2005, an achievement which was independently confirmed.

Last year Hwang and his team unveiled eight cloned coyotes in October last year.

Sooam specialises in dog cloning, and claims: “Cloning technology is possible at Sooam for any dog no matter its age, size, and breed. Sooam not only performs dog cloning research, but we also heal the broken hearts.”

Cold War all over again, Russia Counters US Missile Shield from the Seas

November 7, 2012

The Pentagon is working to encircle Eurasia and to surround the Eurasian Triple Entente composed of China, Russia, and Iran. For every reaction, however, there is a counter-reaction.

Neither one of these three Eurasian powers will sit ideally as passive US targets. Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran are all taking their own distinct counter-measures to oppose the Pentagon’s strategy of military encirclement.

In the Indian Ocean the Chinese are developing their military infrastructure under what the Pentagon calls the Chinese “string of pearls.” Iran is going through a process of naval expansion, which is seeing it deploy its maritime forces further and further from its home waters in the Persian Gulf and Gulf and Gulf of Oman. All three Eurasian powers, along with several of their allies, also have naval vessels stationed off the shorelines of Yemen, Djibouti, and Somalia in the geo-strategically important maritime corridor of the Gulf of Aden.

The US global missile shield is a component of the Pentagon’s strategy to encircle Eurasia and these three powers. In the first instance, this military system is aimed at establishing the nuclear primacy of the US by neutralizing any Russian or Chinese nuclear response to a US or NATO attack. The global missile shield is aimed at preventing any reaction or nuclear “second strike” by the Russians and Chinese to a nuclear “first strike” by the Pentagon.

US Global Missile Shield versus Russian Naval Expansion

All the new reports about branches of the US missile shield being established in other parts of the world are sensationalized in terms of the how they are portraying its geographic expansion as a new development. These reports ignore the fact that the missile shield was designed to be a global system with components strategically positioned across the world from the onset. The Pentagon had planned this in the 1990s and maybe much earlier. Japan and the Pentagon’s NATO allies have more or less been partners in the military project from the start.

Years ago both the Chinese and Russians were aware of the Pentagon’s global ambitions for the missile shield and made joint statements condemning it as a destabilizing project that would disturb the global strategic balance of power. China and Russia even jointly issued multilateral statements in July 2000 with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan warning that the creation of the Pentagon’s global missile shield would work again international peace contravened the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The US government was repeatedly warned that the steps it was taking would polarize the globe with hostilities that would be reminiscent of the Cold War. The warning fell on deaf and arrogant ears.

The Russians are now rebutting the Pentagon’s global missile shield through very practical steps of their own. These steps involve an expansion of their country’s presence in the high seas and an upgrade of their naval capabilities. Moscow plans on opening new naval bases outside of its home waters and outside of both the shorelines of the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

The Russian Federation already has two naval bases outside of Russian territory; one is in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol in the Black Sea and the other is in the Syrian port of Tartus in the Mediterranean Sea. The Kremlin is now looking at the Caribbean Sea, South China Sea, and eastern coast of Africa (in close proximity to the Gulf of Aden) as suitable locations for new Russian bases. Cuba, Vietnam, and the Seychelles are the prime candidates to host new Russian naval bases in these waters.

The Russians already had a presence in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay until 2002. The Vietnamese port was home to the Soviets since 1979 and then hosted Russian forces after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia also continued to have a post-Soviet military presence in Cuba until 2001 through the Lourdes intelligence signal base that monitored the US.

The Kremlin is additionally developing its military infrastructure on its Arctic coast. New Arctic naval bases in the north are going to be opened. This is part of an overlap with the careful Russian strategy that includes the Arctic Circle. It is drawn with two dual functions in mind. One function is to protect Russian territorial and energy interests against NATO states in the Lomonosov Ridge. The other purpose is to serve the Russian global maritime strategy.

Moscow realizes that the US and NATO want to restrictively hem in its maritime forces in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. US and EU moves to control and restrict Russian maritime access to Syria is an indicator of this strategic inclination and objective. The moves to strategically hem in Russian marine forces are one of the reasons that the Kremlin wants naval bases in the Caribbean, South China Sea, and eastern coast of Africa.

The development of Russia’s Arctic naval infrastructure and the opening of Russian naval bases in places like Cuba, Vietnam, and the Seychelles would virtually guarantee the global presence of Russian naval forces. Russian vessels would have multiple points of entry into international waters and secure docking bases abroad. These bases will give the Russians permanent docking facilities in both the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean too.

The future overseas naval bases, like the one is Syria, are not being referred to as “naval bases” by Russian officials, but by other terms. Moscow is calling them “supply points” or bases for naval logistics to make them sound far less threatening. The nomenclature does not really matter. The functions of these naval facilities, however, are for the strategic military purposes that are being outlined.

The Russians at present only have permanent docking bases on their own national coastlines in the Arctic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Moreover, Russia’s naval infrastructure in the Russian Far East, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, has the greatest access to open international waters. Moscow’s naval infrastructure in the Baltic is geographically in a constrained environment and could be immobilized, like Russia’s naval infrastructure in the Black Sea, in the event of a confrontation with the US and NATO. The addition of the naval infrastructure in places like Cuba would effectively guarantee that Russia’s naval forces will have a free hand and not be hemmed in by the US and its allies.

Russia’s New Nuclear Posture at Sea

Historically, the mandate of the naval forces of the Russian Armed Forces has been to protect the Russian coast. Both Russia and the Soviet Union based their defensive strategies on countering a major land invasion. For this reason both the characteristics of the Russian and Soviet naval forces were always based on functions aimed at helping fight a land-based invasion. Thus, the Russian naval fleet has not been structured as an offensive attack force. This, however, is changing as part of Moscow’s reaction to the Pentagon’s strategy of encirclement.

Russia, like both China and Iran, is now focusing on sea power.

Russia is upgrading and expanding its nuclear naval fleet. The Russian media has referred to this as a new bid for their country’s “naval dominance.” Moscow’s aims are to establish the nuclear superiority of its naval fleet with sea-based nuclear attack capabilities. This is a direct reaction to the Pentagon’s global missile shield and the encirclement of Russia and its allies.

Over fifty new warships and more than twenty new submarines will be added to the Russian fleet by 2020. About 40% of the new Russian submarines will have lethal nuclear strike capabilities. This process started after the Bush Jr. White House began taking steps to establish the US missile shield in Europe.

In the last few years, Russia’s counter-measures to the US missile shield have begun to manifest themselves. Trials of Russia’s Borey class submarine in the White Sea, where the port of Archangel (Arkhangelsk) is situated, began in 2011. In the same year the development of the submarine-launched Liner ballistic nuclear missile was announced, which was said to be able to pierce through the US missile shield. A Russian submarine would secretly test the Liner from the Barents Sea in 2011.

Future Cuba Missile Crisis in the Making?

If an agreement is reached with Havana, there is always the possibility that Russia may deploy missiles to Cuba like the Soviets did. Speaking in the realm of the hypothetical, these Russian missiles would most probably have nuclear warheads. Simplistically, this can be portrayed as a replay of the scenario that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis between the US, Soviet Union, and Cuba in 1962. There is much more, however, to the background of this Cold War story and its causes and effects.

The chief perpetrator of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the US government. The deployment of Soviet nuclear missiles to Cuba was a strategically asymmetric move to counter-balance the secret deployment of US nuclear missiles to Turkey, which targeted Soviet cities and citizens. The US government did not let its citizens know about its own nuclear missiles in Turkey that were targeting the Soviet population, because it would have led to many questions by the US public about whom the real aggressors were and what side was really at fault for the sparking of the crisis in 1962. The future deployment of Russian nukes to Cuba would likewise be a reaction to the nuclear weapons that the Pentagon is surrounding Russia and her allies with. Like in 1962, the US government would be at fault once again if nuclear missiles are deployed to Cuba and a crisis emerges.

Hereto, there are only talks underway about a renewed Russian presence in Cuba. Nothing has been agreed upon in concrete terms between the governments in Havana and Moscow, and there has been no mention of deploying Russian missiles to Cuba. Any comments about Russian moves in Cuba are speculation.

The nuclear upgrades that Russia is making to its navy are much more significant than any future Russian base in Cuba or elsewhere. Russia’s new nuclear naval posture actually allows it to cleverly station multiple mobile nukes around the US. In other words, Russia has “multiple Cubas” in the form of its floating mobile nuclear naval vessels that can deploy anywhere in the world. This is also why Russia is developing is naval infrastructure abroad. Russia will have the option of surrounding or flanking the United States with its own sea-based nuclear strike forces.

Russia’s naval strategy cleverly is meant to counter the Pentagon’s global missile shield. Included in this process is the adoption of a pre-emptive nuclear strike policy by the Kremlin as a reaction to the aggressive pre-emptive post-Cold War nuclear strike doctrine of the Pentagon and NATO. In the same year as the test of the Liner by the Russians, the commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Karakayev, said that Russia’s inter-continental ballistic missiles would become “invisible” in the near future.

The world is increasingly becoming militarized. US moves and actions are now forcing other international actors to redefine and reassess their military doctrines and strategies. Russia is merely just one of them.

Source: Presstv

Russian Election Chief Rips US Elections and Fraudulent Voting Machines

November 1, 2012

Russia’s Central Election Commission chief has ranked the American electoral system among the “worst in the world.”

­One of the main problems with the US electoral system is the lack of transparency, Vladimir Churov argues in an article published in Wednesday’s issue of Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

According to US law, international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are only granted access to polling stations in a handful of US states, including in Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.

In the other states, US Governors have the final say over the question of allowing international observers to monitor the election process.

According to Churov, however, the dark side of the American election process is that “OSCE monitors have been barred from entering polling stations even in the states where they may do so under US law.”

This lack of transparency opens the door to numerous possibilities for corruption and manipulation of the system, he added.

Churov then discussed a perennial problem with American elections: electronic voting machines that do not provide voters with a receipt for their vote, and which are highly vulnerable to manipulation.

“American voting machines have not been designed to provide any documentary evidence of citizen participation in the electoral process,” the Russian observer noted. “Moreover, operators [of the machinery] are technically capable of adding or dropping votes in favor of one candidate or another, leaving behind no evidence of violations.”

In October’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, Victoria Collier shows that with the advent of modern technology, “a brave new world of election rigging emerged,” which emerged with the “mass adoption of computerized voting technology and the outsourcing of our elections to a handful of corporations that operate in the shadows, with little oversight or accountability.”

Collier called the “privatization of our elections…one of the most dangerous and least understood crisis in the history of American democracy.”

Meanwhile, another study demonstrated that a person armed with about 10 bucks and a limited knowledge of technology could hack the vote.

“Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an eighth grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois,” reported Salon.

The analysts showed that the “newly developed hack” could manipulate voting results while leaving “absolutely no trace” of the crime behind.

Read more at: RT

Russia wades into intercepted jet row

October 11, 2012

Moscow officials say the lives of Russian passengers were put at risk by the interception of a Syrian passenger plane by Turkish jet fighters. 

‘Four beaten when masked men boarded Syria-bound plane’ – attendant

October 11, 2012

Humiliation, threats and brutal beatings – that’s how some of those on board a Syria-bound plane describe the welcome they received in Turkey. F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to ground the Moscow – Damascus flight. It was carrying over thirty passengers, including small children.

US charges 11 Russians with conspiracy to export high-tech

October 3, 2012

A US court has charged 11 people with participating in an alleged Russian network illegally exporting high-tech microelectronics and supplying them to Russian military and intel agencies

U.S. to pull the plug on USAID operations in Russia

October 2, 2012

September 20, 2012
Kommersant

The scandal over the agency’s work has become the most serious conflict in U.S.-Russia relations since Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

The United States announced on Sept. 18 that its Agency for International Development (USAID) would wrap up its operations in Russia. USAID is the largest sponsor of Russian NGOs, providing more than $100 million in funding annually.

Washington has blamed the Russian government for the move, although the Kremlin has made no specific decision on ousting USAID, according to Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He later said that Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that USAID was trying to influence the country’s politics to a certain extent.

Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made the announcement about USAID winding down its operations in Russia.

“We have recently learned of the decision of the Russian Government to end USAID activities in the country. The United States is extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the last 20 years, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition those programs,” Nuland said.

According to Nuland, Russian authorities forced the United States to shut down USAID work in Russia; the Kremlin has denied this.

“Like all foreign agencies that finance Russian NGOs, USAID has to comply with Russian legal norms. It stands to reason that, as long as the Americans comply with these regulations, we cannot make any decision to end their activities in our territory,” Peskov said.

On issues of democracy and human rights in Russia, this USAID walkout has caused the biggest rift between Moscow and the West in the past five years.

The last time a government entity of a comparable level left Russia was in 2007 — the British Council shut its doors in the country, after Russian authorities accused it of evading taxes and breaching Russian law.

About USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was established on November 3, 1961, under John F. Kennedy’s administration. A federal agency, it operates subject to the guidance of and in coordination with the U.S. Department of State. USAID has 87 missions worldwide. Two-thirds of its 8,500 employees work in overseas offices. The agency has been present in Russia since 1992.

Deputies from Russia’s ruling party United Russia and pro-Kremlin youth movement activists have repeatedly criticized USAID activities in Russia.

Attacks on the agency intensified after last December’s State Duma elections and the subsequent opposition rallies. USAID has been accused of distributing grants to many human rights organizations, as well as to the Golos election-monitoring group.

According to the American government websiteforeignassistance.gov, USAID and the State Department have spent $861.8 million on projects in Russia since 2006. In 2011, the agency spent $127.6 million in Russia, including $70 million on “promoting democracy and human rights.” Overall, however, Russia is a peripheral area for USAID. In 2012,  for instance, the country will still rank only 40th in terms of allocated funding.

In July 2012, the Russian State Duma passed a new law on foreign-agent NGOs, largely to restrict the activities of entities in the country that existed on USAID grants. Under the law, NGOs receiving “money or property from foreign states, international or foreign organizations, foreign citizens or stateless persons” while engaging in “political activity” are to be given the status of a foreign agent.

The law requires that “foreign agents” apply to the Ministry of Justice to be placed on a special NGO register. Organizations in this category must also note their foreign agent status in every media or web-based publication they produce. A refusal to supply this information is subject to up to 1 million rubles ($32,000) in fines, while NGO managers responsible for repeated violations are liable to face up to three years in prison.

Sources close to the U.S. Government have noted that there was a direct link between the passing of the NGO law and the shutdown of USAID operations in Russia. 

First published in Russian in Kommersant Daily.  Aleksandr Gabuev, Ilya Barabanov, Yelena Chernenko contributed to the article.

‘In the Shadow of Hermes’ – A Documentary by Jüri Lina

September 30, 2012

Even today in 2012, ardent socialists and middle class activists continue romanticize about past revolutions and communist exploits.

As revealed in Jüri Lina’s seminal documentary, and contrary to popular myth, many of the so-called ‘socialist’ revolutions and wars of independence were not organic, grass-roots movements at all. Historical evidence suggests that both the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the United States Revolution were Masonic-led, employing American, European and Swiss banker-financed plots to consolidate power, planting the seeds for a New World Order in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

….