Main News of February 27


* European Union foreign ministers agreednew sanctions against Syria, including a freeze on assets of the country’s central bank and ban on cargo flights into the EU

* Nearly 90 percent of voters supported Syria’s new constitution meant to end decades of one-party rule, state TV said

* A Ukrainian court sentenced Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian interior minister and ally of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, to four years in prison for abuse of office

* A new building will be erected at the U.S. Embassy compound in Moscow, the Embassy said


* The Russian Federal Protection Service (FSO) confirmed that it had received information about a “terrorist attack” plotted against “Russia’s leadership”

* Moscow City Court authorized opening a criminal case against Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in Moscow pretrial detention in 2009 of untreated health problems and, allegedly, a beating by prison guards

* Media reports alleging that Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika may have collaborated with foreign intelligence services is a provocation, his office said


* Russian prosecutors claimed to have thwarted the attempted theft of $1.6 million from the Sochi Olympics construction budget in 2011

* The Russian government is planning to take serious measures to fight counterfeit production of Russian weaponry in foreign countries, especially the Kalashnikov assault rifles

* Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz has sent evidence to Gazprom it claims disproves accusations from the Russian company that it siphoned off natural gas bound for Europe, Naftogaz said in a statement

Russia to Inspect Georgian Mineral Water Producers

Experts from Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor will travel to Georgia to inspect companies that are planning to resume supplies of famed Borzhomi mineral water to Russia.

“The preparation of the visit of Russian experts to Georgia to inspect suppliers of Borzhomi mineral water to Russia is underway,” Rospotrebnadzor said in a statement on Monday.

Russia banned imports of Georgian wines and two popular brands of mineral water in 2006 citing the poor quality of the products, a move widely condemned in Georgia as politically motivated.

Georgian winemakers and producers of Borzhomi mineral water have made numerous attempts to return to the Russian market since then, but have not received political support from Georgian authorities.

Russia says it needs to inspect technological processes during the production cycle and study samples of products before deciding whether to resume the imports from Georgia.

According to Rospotrebnadzor, Georgian IDC Borzhomi has recently submitted all necessary documentation on the quality and authenticity of its mineral water and proposed its own plan aimed at fighting counterfeit production of its brand.

Moscow Irate over New WikiLeaks Reports

Media reports alleging that Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika may have collaborated with foreign intelligence services is a provocation, his office said on Monday.

Some media outlets, citing WikiLeaks, asserted that Chaika was an informer for Stratfor, or Strategic Forecasting, Inc., a global intelligence company.

“All of these stories are a provocation,” Marina Gridneva, spokesperson for the Prosecutor General’s Office, said.

The reports suggest that Chaika was a highly trustworthy informant and “a key source on Russia.”

The new WikiLeaks documents in particular quote Chaika as commenting on the principle of “Kremlin clan wars” engineered by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as a means of ensuring the stability of his regime.

Booers Confuse Official, Star Composer

Theater goers booed and jeered famous Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki at an opera performance in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater this weekend.

None of them, however, had anything against the Grammy-winning living classic of Polish music: the booers simply mistook Penderecki for Vladimir Churov, the head of the Russian Central Elections Commission.

Churov, a staunch ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, became one of the prime targets for the ire of the opposition-minded middle class after refusing to acknowledge widespread reports about violations at the December parliamentary elections, carried by Putin’s United Russia. Churov was widely lambasted in absentia at the mass protest rallies that followed the vote in Moscow.

Churov and Penderecki look vaguely similar, with white beards, receding hairlines and glasses, which accounts for the confusion at the performance of Rodion Shchedrin’s “Dead Souls” on Saturday, administration of the Golden Mask festival, which organized the performance, said on Facebook on Monday.

Spotting Penderecki in the theater box after the performance wrapped up, the spectators began to pepper him with shouts such as “Churov is today’s Chichikov!” and “Why the dead souls?” Both jeers were plays on “Dead Souls,” a 19-century satire that details the travels of adorable scam artist Chichikov in search of “dead souls,” or deceased serfs that could be pawned.

Neither Churov nor Penderecki publicly commented on the incident.

The story appears to be a reversal of a recent incident when an activist of a pro-Kremlin youth group harassed a passenger traveling to Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport by train, having mistaken him for opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Russia to Conduct Inspection Flights over Italy

A plane carrying Russian military observers will make a series of inspection flights over Italy under the Open Skies Treaty on February 27-March 2, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The mission will be carried out by an Antonov An-30B aircraft from Italy’s Ciampino airport along a designated route totaling 2,015 kilometers.

“Russian and Italian experts on board the plane will monitor the implementation of agreements on the use of technical equipment for the observation,” the ministry said in a statement.

During the same period, U.S. inspectors on board a Boeing OS-135B observation aircraft will carry out a monitoring mission over the Russian territory.

The Open Skies Treaty, signed in 1992 at the initiative of U.S. President George H. W. Bush, established a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities.

The treaty entered force on January 1, 2002 and its regime covers the national territories (land, islands, and internal and territorial waters) of all the treaty signatory states. It is an important element of the European security structure.

Anonymous joins forces with OWS against NDAA-supporting politicians

America’s most powerful protest groups are joining forces to warn elected officials that they will be held accountable for their actions. The campaign is called Our Polls and its being launched with help from both Anonymous and the Occupy movement.

The AnonOps Communications website revealed details early Monday this week regarding the hacktivist collective’s latest campaign. Along with the nation-wide Occupy Wall Street movement, Anonymous says they are going after the politicians in America that supported legislation that both entities have largely advocated against.

“Elected officials serve one purpose — to represent their constituents, the people who voted them into office,” reads a statement posted to the website. “Last year, many of our elected officials let us down by giving in to deep-pocketed lobbyists and passing laws meant to boost corporate profits at the expense of individual liberty.”

The legislation in question include the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. In an act of retaliation aimed at those that supported these bills, the groups have released a roster of politicians that have not only expressed favor for the laws, but that are also up for reelection this year.

“You are one person. You have one vote. Use that vote on November 6 to hold your elected official accountable for supporting bills such as NDAA, SOPA and PIPA,” reads their statement.

Although both SOPA and PIPA have been halted in Congress, the NDAA was successfully signed into law by US President Barack Obama on December 31, 2011, granting the commander-in-chief the power to authorize the military detainment of American citizens without ever bringing charges against them.

“Our Senators and Representatives showed how little they cared about personal freedoms when they voted overwhelmingly to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),” reads Monday’s statement, which also calls the act “a prominent threat to the inalienable due process rights of every US citizen as laid out in the Constitution.”

“It allows the military to engage in civilian law enforcement, and to suspend due process, habeas corpus or other constitutional guarantees when desired. Our congressmen passed one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in the history of the United States.”

Similar legislation in the vein of the failed SOPA and PIPA acts have also been drafted since their defeat, which critics fear could cause the US government to implement a veil of censorship over the World Wide Web. Although activists with both Anonymous and Occupy have openly opposed such laws in the past, the latest campaign will at last bring both bodies together to protest any other damning legislation.

According to a statement released Monday, both groups aim to make sure that any lawmaker chosen by the American people will walks away Election Day a loser if they support any such acts.

“We are calling on voters, activists and keyboard warriors under all banners to unite as a single force to unseat the elected representatives who threaten our essential freedoms and who were so quick to minimize our individual constitutional rights for a quick corporate profit,” they write.

Although both Anonymous and OWS are described as leaderless movement with no formal organization, the AnonOps Communication website and its related Twitter accounts have served as an unofficial conduit of sorts in terms of relaying information pertaining to the hacktivist collective. The site has previously announced, confirmed and commented on hacks and other campaigns credited to Anonymous.

During last week’s installment of Anonymous’ #FuckFBIFriday campaign, the group tackled the website of GEO Group, Inc., a multi-national private prison management firm operated out of Florida. In a statement that accompanied that hack, operatives aligned with the Anon collective announced another plan put together in cooperation with the Occupy movement. In that instance, both groups intend to join forces on Tuesday this week to march in cities across America to demand an end to the suppression of the OWS movement. Hacktivists with Anonymous have also previously condemned law enforcement agencies across America for violently responding to the occupier’s peaceful demonstrations which began last September in New York.

Moscow court orders new trial against deceased whistleblower Magnitsky

Sergey Magnitsky is set to become the first man to be tried posthumously in Russia’s modern legal history after a decision from the Moscow City Court.

The court rejected an appeal from his mother, Natalya Magnitskaya, against the case, which she describes as “grotesque.”

Sergey Magnitsky was a lawyer for Hermitage Capital, an investment fund. He claimed to have uncovered tax fraud worth $230 million in 2008. He further alleged that tax officials and policemen had conspired to illegally transfer ownership of part of his company to themselves, and then to pay themselves a huge tax rebate out of the government budget.

But before any guilt could be proven, Magnitskiy was arrested and accused of embezzlement by the same officials he said were behind the fraud.

After being held without trial for eleven months, he died in custody in November 2009 after being refused medical treatment.

Magnitsky’s mother claims the new case is a personal vendetta, aimed at stopping her from publicizing the truth about the tax fraud.

British MPs are planning to hand a resolution to Parliament calling for a visa blacklist for all the officials involved in the Magnitsky case. The United States has already introduced a similar document.

Advocaat praises Russian exodus from English Premier League

Dick Advocaat says that the return of Andrey Arshavin and several other Russian internationals from the English Premier League will help the national team do better at Euro 2012.

­“I think it’s very good for the national team that Arshavin will have more playing practice,” Advocaat told “I can say the same about Roman Pavlyuchenko, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Pavel Pogrebnyak. During the last six months they spent too little time on the pitch, but now the situation will improve.”

Arshavin has left Arsenal on a half-year loan, rejoining his former side Zenit Saint Petersburg last week.

This winter, Pavlyuchenko and Bilyaletdinov also swapped English teams Tottenham and Everton from Moscow sides – Lokomotiv and Spartak, respectively.

Advocaat said he closely follows the performance of the Russian representatives in the Champions League – Zenit and CSKA, and wishes them the best of luck.

“I hope that both teams will make it to the next round,” the Dutchman stressed.  It won’t affect the national squad as we’ll have enough time for all the players to recover.”

The Russian football coach was talking prior to his team’s friendly game against Denmark, to take place in Copenhagen on February 29.

“We’ve made this choice in order to have an opportunity to play with a strong team,”
the 64-year-old explained. “But their style can’t be compared to any of our rivals at Euro 2012.”

Advocaat said he’s expecting his team not only show good football, but bag a win in the upcoming match.

“Both are vital for us at the moment,” he said. “We don’t get that many chances to come together. In particular, this’ll be our last game before the training camp prior to the European Championships itself.”

Tournament’s co-hosts Poland, Greece and Czech Republic will be Russia’s rivals at Euro 2012 this summer.

Tehran not ruling out access to any military sites

Iran does not rule out giving the IAEA access to military research sites on its soil, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA told RT. This comes after UN nuclear experts visited Tehran, only to say that Iran had barred inspectors from visiting a key military site.

­“First of all the group were not inspectors per se,” explained Ali Asghar Soltanieh. “They were high officials of the agency from the legal, political and technical departments.”

The IAEA suspects a key military site in Parchin could have been the site of high-explosives tests related to nuclear weapons. They requested permission to visit the site during the group’s two-day visit to Tehran, but failed to get access.

But Ali Asghar Soltanieh says the real aim of the meeting was “to discuss the reality and framework for our future work”.

However, talking exclusively to RT, he stressed that “Iran is not ruling out access to any military sites, including Parchin”. But there are conditions that Iran wants the IAEA to follow.

“There should be a morality, a framework, a term of reference about what exactly they are looking for. We have to have insurance that we will not repeat the same bitter experience that every day they just come and ask for the access,” the envoy stressed.

Soltanieh rejected all allegations concerning Iran’s nuclear activity and said he was “one hundred per cent confident”, that “all this is wrong.”

“I just want to tell you that last week, perhaps this is the first time I am telling you, we, in fact, offered the agency to go to another site which the director general in his report has referred to as a large scale high-explosive test. We offered, but the team was instructed by the director general to go back to Vienna. Therefore we don’t have any hesitation that every activity we have has nothing to do with nuclear weapons.”

And even though the UN nuclear inspectors’ latest visit to Iran has left them still with a belief that the country is not sufficiently cooperating enough with regard to its atomic program, Iran’s envoy to IAEA summed up the results of the two-day visit as “extremely intensive.”

Now the IAEA envoy has emphasized that Iran is ready to continue discussions, and therefore “the agency has full control” over the country’s military sites.

“Regarding allegations, which is another issue, we have made a historic  concession now by inviting the agency high officials to come to Iran,” he said.

“We have continued our work with the agency despite all the sanctions, the terror against our scientists, all resolutions,” he added.

Five IAEA inspectors, led by Herman Nackaerts, visited Iran on a two-day trip aimed at resolving the country’s outstanding nuclear issues. The team held talks with Iranian officials but was barred from visiting Parchin, where the IAEA suspects Iran has been conducting hydrodynamic experiments, according to its report published last November.

It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin,” IAEA director Yukiya Amano said in a statement following the trip. “We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached.

The IAEA’s latest trip to Iran followed an earlier visit to the country from January 29 to 31. During that tour, six IAEA inspectors also held what Iran called “constructive talks” with the country’s officials, but did not visit any nuclear facilities.

Blast collapses Russian apartment block

MOSCOW — An explosion apparently caused by natural gas has heavily damaged a nine-story apartment building in southern Russia, leaving two people dead and 12 injured.

In this photo distributed by Astrakhan branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, Emergency Situations Ministry rescuers inspect debris of an apartment building after an explosion on Monday morning, Feb. 27, 2012, in Astrakhan, Russia. Such gas explosions are frequent in Russia.(AP Photo/ Astrakhan Branch, Ministry of Emergency Situations Press Service)

In this photo distributed by Astrakhan branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations a general view of an apartment building after an explosion on Monday morning, Feb. 27, 2012, in Astrakhan, Russia. Such gas explosions are frequent in Russia.(AP Photo/ Astrakhan Branch, Ministry of Emergency Situations Press Service, HO)

In this photo distributed by Astrakhan branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, Emergency Situations Ministry rescuers inspect debris of an apartment building after an explosion on Monday morning, Feb. 27, 2012, in Astrakhan, Russia. Such gas explosions are frequent in Russia.(AP Photo/ Astrakhan Branch, Ministry of Emergency Situations Press Service)

In this photo distributed by Astrakhan branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, Emergency Situations Ministry rescuer inspects debris of an apartment building after it exploded on Monday morning, Feb. 27, 2012, in Astrakhan, Russia. Such gas explosions are frequent in Russia.(AP Photo/ Astrakhan Branch, Ministry of Emergency Situations Press Service,)

Rescue workers were searching through the rubble, and officials said at least 11 residents of the building are unaccounted for.

The explosion occurred Monday in Astrakhan, a city 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) southeast of Moscow.

A spokesman for the regional emergencies ministry, Oleg Grekov, told the ITAR-Tass news agency two bodies were pulled from the rubble late Monday.

Regional Investigative Committee spokeswoman Anna Konyaeva said the blast first blew out a lower section of the building. As people rushed to help, the upper six stories collapsed.

Explosions of gas canisters in Russian homes and businesses are common.

China, Russia Angry Over US Hillaries Comments on Syria

China and Russia have responded angrily after the United States criticized their stance on Syria and the European Union imposed new sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday China will not accept U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of other countries. Last week, Clinton called the actions by China and Russia on the Syrian conflict “despicable.”

An influential Chinese state newspaper, the People’s Daily, said the United States has no right to speak for the Arab people.

“The comments by the mentioned American person are totally unacceptable for us. On the Syria question, China has always maintained a fair and objective stance.”

Also Monday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin defended the joint veto by Russia and China of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Syria for its military crackdown against an anti-government uprising.

Russia and China have repeatedly blocked the Security Council from taking action against Syria’s government.

In another development Monday, EU foreign ministers imposed sanctions on Syria’s central bank and froze the assets of several Syrian government officials.

The bloc has already blacklisted nearly 150 Syrian entities and people.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong, also welcomed Sunday’s referendum on a new constitution for Syria, which has been rejected by the United States and other Western governments as a farce.

“We hope that this referendum is conducive to pushing forward Syria’s reform and progress, opens the door for political dialogue, and meets Syrian people’s justified demands for the change and protection of their interests. We hope that the various sides in Syria can make efforts to ease the tense situation as early as possible.”

Hong said China hopes the referendum, which would open the door to political opposition parties, will ease a conflict that has seen thousands of civilians killed by Syrian security forces.

However, opposition factions in Syria called for a boycott of the referendum, saying the only acceptable solution to the nation’s crisis is for President Assad to step down.

The constitution would create a multi-party system in Syria, which has been governed solely by the Baath Party since 1963. But even if it passes, President Assad would still be very powerful.

Forces loyal to the president were blamed for the deaths of at least 31 people Sunday while voting on the referendum took place. Syria says its forces are fighting foreign-backed terrorists.

Clinton renewed her criticism of the Syrian government Sunday during a visit to Morocco. She said troops who remain loyal to Mr. Assad are dishonoring themselves, and she urged them to defect.

“And I want to reiterate my message to those Syrians who still support (Syrian President Bashar) Assad, especially members of the Syrian military and business community. The longer you support the regime’s campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honor. If you refuse, however, to prop up the regime or take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen and women will hail you as heroes.”

U.N.-appointed investigators estimate the death toll from the uprising at 6,400 civilians and 1,680 army defectors. Syrian officials have said they only took military action when under armed attack from “terrorists.”

Russia Condemns ‘Friends Of Syria’ Meeting

European Union foreign ministers have imposed fresh sanctions on Syria.

Measures decided on February 27 at a meeting in Brussels included a freeze on Syrian central-bank assets, an EU travel ban on seven Syrians close to President Bashar al-Assad, a ban on Syrian cargo flights into the 27-nation EU, and restrictions on Syrian trade in gold and precious metals.

The EU has already blacklisted almost 150 Syrian entities and people, and imposed an oil and arms embargo on Assad’s regime.

The new EU moves came days after Western and Arab countries pledged to increase pressure on the regime and boost support for the opposition during a “Friends of Syria” gathering in Tunis.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced last week’s meeting, calling it “one-sided.”

Russia did not attend the meeting on February 24 in Tunis involving envoys from more than 60 countries, including Arab states, European Union countries, and the United States.

The meeting condemned the Assad regime, a Moscow ally, for its deadly crackdown on protests and vowed further sanctions targeting the regime.

WATCH: Syria held a national referendum on a new constitution after nearly 11 months of violent unrest (AP video):


Speaking on February 27 in Moscow, Lavrov said the meeting was “clearly one-sided” and did not help to create conditions in which all Syrian factions could seek a political solution.

China and Iran also refused to attend the Tunis meeting.

The Russian foreign minister spoke as Syrian government forces reportedly resumed their shelling of pro-opposition areas in the central Homs Province.

With AFP, AP, Interfax, and dpa reporting

Russia ‘thwarts plot’ to assassinate Putin

MOSCOW – Russia said on Monday its secret services had thwarted a plot hatched in a Ukrainian port city by suspected militants from Chechnya to assassinate Vladimir Putin after next weekend’s presidential vote.

State television showed the two men confessing to conspiring to kill the Russian strongman in a bombing attack that was revealed to the public less than a week before Putin’s likely victory in Sunday’s election.

The plot’s existence was confirmed by Putin’s spokesman as well as the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and its Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) counterpart. But some analysts raised suspicion over the timing of the news.

The purported confessions showed the two men saying they acted on the orders of Chechen Islamist militant Doku Umarov, the warlord who has claimed deadly airport and metro bombings in Moscow over the past two years.

Officials said the pair along with a third man who died while trying to prepare a bomb were all ethnic Chechens who were detained in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa in January and early February.

It was not clear why the authorities had waited until just days were left before the March 4 poll to make their announcement.

“It just seems like an incredible coincidence that these monsters were discovered today,” independent military analyst Alexander Golts told AFP.

Channel One said the three plotters went to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey with “clear instructions from representatives of Doku Umarov”.

“They told us that first you come to Odessa and learn how to make bombs,” Channel One showed a man identified as Ilya Pyanzin as saying.

“And then later, in Moscow, you will stage attacks against commercial objects, with the subsequent assassination attempt against Putin,” the man said.

The state television footage showed a video of Putin getting into his car being played on the laptop computer belonging to second suspect Adam Osmayev – a man the report said had lived for a long time in London.

The hidden-camera footage of the Russian prime minister’s movements was shot “so that we had an understanding of how he was protected,” Osmayev said.

“The end goal was to come to Moscow and to try to stage an assassination attempt against premier Putin,” he said. “The deadline was after the election of the Russian president.”

The report said one of the two detained men had told Russian and Ukrainian investigators that some explosives had already been hidden near the Kutuzovsky Prospekt avenue that Putin passes daily to reach the government White House.

It quoted an unidentified Russian FSB official as saying that the explosives would have created a “serious blast… powerful enough to tear apart a truck”.

Putin’s spokesman confirmed that the two men detained were involved in an alleged plot to assassinate the Russian strongman. “I confirm this information but am not commenting now,” ITAR-TASS quoted Dmitry Peskov as saying.

An FSB official told the RIA Novosti news agency that the suspected plotters were all Chechens who belonged to one of Umarov’s armed groups.

Putin’s career is linked closely to the brutal but ultimately popular second campaign in Chechnya that he launched while still serving as Boris Yeltsin’s prime minister in 1999.

The region remains wracked by violence to this day and Umarov is still at large despite repeated attempts by Russian forces to kill him.

The news came just days after Putin told a campaign rally that the “battle for Russia continues” and some analysts saw said the plot could do no harm to his election chances.

“This is a new cause for mobilization around Putin and it has been put forwards as another argument in his favour,” said Alexander Konovalov of the Institute for Strategic Assessments.

The alleged assassination attempt against Putin is at least the sixth reported by the Russian media since he first became president 12 years ago.

The last was reportedly planned for his June 2007 visit to Istanbul for a regional summit.

Russian elections: Mikhail Khodorkovsky wants change Says Make me president!

The action – which was billed as a leaderless and apolitical “act
of unity” rather than a rally in order to avoid laws that require
political demonstrations to obtain permission from the city authorities –
passed off peacefully, but 10 people were later arrested after trying to
hold a politically-themed celebration of maslinitsa – the Russian
version of pancake day – on a central square near the Kremlin.

It was the latest in a series of tens-of-thousands-strong demonstrations
calling for clean elections and Prime
Minister Mr Putin’s
ouster that have hit the Russian capital since
alleged fraud at parliamentary elections last December.

Many dressed in white or wore the white ribbons of the “fair elections”
movement that has erupted in the three months since flawed parliamentary
elections in December.

Those without ribbons waved white balloons, scarves and even plastic bags at
passing cars that honked their support for the action. One prominent human
rights activist even brought a white cat.

Police estimated 10,000 people had taken part in the action. Local media,
going on the assumption of two people per metre all around the road’s 9.3
mile circumference, estimated as many as 10,000 took part.

Many demonstrators admitted to anxiety that the unorthodox form of protest
would fail to attract enough people or be marred by confrontation with
pro-Putin youth groups and police.

“I was afraid no one would turn up. It’s fantastic to see so many people
with the same values,” said Natasha, a 28 year old child psychologist
who said she had come out “because I want my voice to count for

In a counter demonstration, activists from two pro-Kremlin youth movements,
Nashi (Ours) and Stal (Steel) were seen on one section of the ring road
wearing placards in the shape of hearts emblazoned with the slogan “Putin
Loves Everyone!”

The recent wave of dissent is unlikely to prevent Mr Putin from returning to
the Kremlin for a third time at presidential elections next Sunday, however.

The most recent opinion polls suggest he will win with up to 66 per cent of
the vote – comfortably more than the 50 per cent needed to avoid a second
round run-off with his closest rival, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.

But close Putin allies are said to have been sufficiently rattled by the
protests to press him to set a departure date after he returns to office.

“That would at a single stroke take the wind from the opposition’s sails,”
a former Putin aide told the Sunday Times. “People around him are
definitely discussing it. It would be a very smart move.”

Many people were hurt and had to go to hospitals because of stupidity!

Russia to Address Illegal Production of Russian Arms

The Russian government is planning to take serious measures to fight counterfeit production of Russian weaponry in foreign countries, especially the Kalashnikov assault rifles.

“Unfortunately, many countries, including those that consider themselves civilized, do not respect the patents of Russian manufacturers,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

“We must make the recognition of our property rights a priority in military-technical cooperation,” Rogozin said.

According to experts, exports of illegally produced Russian arms cost the country up to $6 billion a year and also damage Russia’s image.

The most notorious example is the illegal production of the famed Kalashnikov assault rifles in at least 15 countries, especially in Eastern Europe.

According to Kalashnikov producer Izhmash, Russia accounts for only 10-12% of the million Kalashnikov rifles sold globally every year, with the rest being unlicensed copies.

Wehrmacht; Racist Arrested After Stabbing Migrant

A man suspected of stabbing a migrant in the Moscow metro whilst dressed as a wartime German soldier has been arrested just outside Moscow, the Ministry of Internal Affairs website reported on Monday.

The 25-year-old man from Khimki near Moscow entered the metro in May 2011 dressed in a wartime Wehrmacht uniform. He began insulting people of non-European appearance and giving the Nazi salute, and then stabbed a migrant passenger in the chest.

He was arrested on the February 13, 2012, but the arrest was not previously reported.

Upon searching the man’s apartment, investigators found radical literature, swastika stickers, and videos from the Russian National Union, an organization recognized as extremist. The suspect was a member of an informal right-wing youth movement, investigator say, and regularly kept in touch with neo-Nazis abroad.

FACTBOX: Assassination Plots Against Vladimir Putin

Russian and Ukrainian special services have arrested a group of suspects over a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia’s state television said Monday.

The suspects were acting on the orders of Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, Channel One said. They were allegedly plotting to kill Putin in Moscow immediately after presidential polls on March 4, which the 59-year-old is widely expected to win. The group, the subject of an international arrest warrant, was arrested in Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odessa.

Putin has previously been targeted by assassins.

In February 2000, Russian media quoted security sources as saying Chechen militants were plotting to kill Putin, then acting president, during his upcoming trip to St. Petersburg for the funeral of his mentor Anatoly Sobchak . The Federal Security Service (FSB) neither confirmed nor denied the information.

In September 2000, the head of Ukraine’s secret service SBU said it arrested four Chechens and several Middle Eastern citizens plotting to kill the Russian leader during a summit of the former Soviet states held in the Black Sea resort town of Yalta in August that year. SBU head Leonid Derkach said Ukraine had been tipped off by Russian intelligence.

In October 2001, Azerbaijan’s special services said they had foiled a plot to kill Putin during a planned visit to the capital Baku in January of the following year. The suspect, Iraqi citizen Kianan Rostam, underwent training in Afghanistan and was linked “with people who were at Osama bin Laden’s training camps,” a spokesman for Azerbaijan’s National Security Ministry said. Rostam was tried on terrorism charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

On October 19, 2003, British newpsaper The Sunday Times said two Russian nationals had been arrested in London over a suspected plot to assassinate Putin. The unnamed men, said to be renegade KGB officers, were planning to have him assassinated while on a foreign trip. They were later released without charge. Police officers from SO13, the anti-terrorist branch, acted on a tip-off from Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer in the FSB, the successor to the KGB. Litvinenko, an outspoken Kremlin critic, was murdered by radioactive poisoning in London in 2006.

On June 25, 2007, Turkish security services said they had held five men suspected of attempting to kill Putin during a summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in Instanbul. The men were reportedly linked with al Qaeda.

In October 2007, Russian media cited unnamed security sources as saying suicide bombers were plotting to kill Putin during a visit to Tehran later that month. In January 2008, Iran said it had detained a man accused of spreading rumors of a possible assassination attempt against Putin during the Tehran visit.

Russia Lauds Syria Referendum as Move to Democracy

Russia has welcomed Syria’s holding of a constitutional referendum ending the ruling Baath Party’s monopoly on power in the country as a step toward democracy, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

“I think that those who see this as a move toward democracy are right. The end of a monopoly position by one party in the political system should be welcomed,” Lavrov said at a press conference with diplomats from Myanmar.

Thwarted attempt on Putin meant to destabilize Russia – officials

Several top Russian parliamentarians agree that the plot against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, uncovered by Russian and Ukrainian special services, was an attempt to destabilize the situation in Russia in the elections period.

A former head of the Federal Security Service and now a State Duma deputy, Nikolay Kovalev, said that the number of reports on thwarted terrorist attacks is constantly increasing and the special services were right to treat such reports with due attention.

He added that the fact that the attempt on Vladimir Putin’s life was prevented was proof that Russian special services were well-prepared and on high alert.

The parliamentarian also asserted that the international terrorists had set destabilizing Russia as their primary objective and that the most-wanted terrorist in Russia, Doku Umarov, who reportedly ordered the attempt, was targeting Putin personally because Russia’s enemies saw the prime minister as a guarantor of stability.

The head of the Lower House Committee for Security and Countering Corruption, Irina Yarovaya, also stated the prepared assassination was an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country, as Putin was the main threat to criminals and terrorists. She added that the plans of an international terrorist group to assassinate Putin were proof that the anti-terrorist policy of the Russian authorities was justified and successful.

The head of the Defense and Security Committee of the Upper House, Viktor Ozerov, told the press that the plot against Putin was an attempt to avenge the gradual and constant struggle against terrorism. “All Vladimir Putin’s actions, starting with his work as the FSB director and ending with hiscurrent position, have been aimed at fighting with bandit formations, organized crime and terrorism,” Ozerov noted. “Putin has stepped on the throat and tail of many a terrorist and this is why the preparations for such terrorist attack are hardly a surprise,” he concluded.

Russian media reported on Monday that the security services of Russia and Ukraine had jointly uncovered a plot of several terrorists who planned to commit numerous terrorist attacks on Russian territory and kill Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin with a roadside bomb.

Shrines safeguarded from Pussy Riot Band

Russian Cossacks are to stand guard over Moscow’s Orthodox churches after a feminist punk band broke into a Cathedral and sang blasphemous songs at the altar.

­Earlier this month, four members of the all-girl band Pussy Riot rushed the church dressed in mini-dresses and wearing masks.  Without losing time, they sang a song entitled Holy S**t  before being escorted out by security.

The girls are notorious for their publicity stunts. They’ve performed a song on Red Square addressed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Now the Cossack say, “Let’s protect the holy shrines!”, promising to create vigilante groups to protect a number of churches in the Russian capital.

Russia’s Cossacks are known for their strong traditions and religious values, as well as their trademark team spirit. For centuries, the Cossacks helped Russia protect its borders and expand its territory.

Security guards will be on duty only during weekends, reportedly due to a shortage of people and uniforms.