Russians fight Twitter and Facebook battles over Putin election

Russians have flooded Facebook and Twitter as they organise unprecedented protests against Vladimir Putin‘s United Russia party. But they are not alone. Thousands of Twitter accounts appear to have been created with the sole purpose of drowning out opposition voices by flooding the service’s hashtag search function.

The automated attacks have dumped a blizzard of meaningless tweets with hashtags such as #Navalny, on which tweets about Alexei Navalny are collated, making it impossible to follow the flow of news about the arrested opposition leader. Many of the so-called “Twitter bots” have now been shut down.

The flood of fake tweets came after liberal websites, including the LiveJournal blogging platform, the website for radio station Ekho Moskvy and weekly journal Bolshoi Gorod , were shut down by distributed denial of service attacks on Sunday, the day of Russia’s disputed parliamentary vote.

The website for Golos, an independent election monitor, was also shut down. Golos employees complained this week that their email had been hacked and inaccessible for several days. On Friday, tabloid Life News published employees’ private emails, detailing correspondence with the US development agency – presented as “proof” that the group was acting on foreign orders to disrupt the Russian election.

The most interesting hack attack, however, came via a more antiquated instrument – the telephone. On Thursday, the liberal Yabloko party and newspaper Novaya Gazeta said their telephone lines had been paralysed by endless calls featuring a recorded female voice: “Putin is very good. Putin loves you. Putin makes your life happy. Love Putin and your life will fill with meaning. Putin does everything for you. Remember, Putin does everything just for you. Putin is life. Putin is light. Without Putin, life has no meaning. Putin is your protector. Putin is your saviour.” Over and over again.

Cedric Boswell, Alexander Povetkin set for heavyweight title bout

Atlanta’s Cedric Boswell, who is 42 and getting the biggest opportunity in the late stages of his career, aims to bring one of the heavyweight belts back to the United States when he challenges Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, on Saturday.

“This fight is huge for America,” Boswell said. “I’m the one legitimate American boxer who can bring heavyweight boxing glory back to America. I’ve already paid for extra baggage to bring the belt home. My message to all boxing fans: The cold war begins December 3, 2011, in Helsinki. The American Dream will soundly defeat the Russian pretender.”

Rafael’s boxing blog

Get the latest scoop and analysis on the world of boxing from’s Dan Rafael in his blog.

Boswell (35-1, 26 KOs) is riding a 14-fight winning streak, albeit against modest opposition, since returning in 2006 following a 2½-year layoff following his lone defeat — a 10-round knockout to then-top contender Jameel McCline in 2003.

Povetkin (22-0, 15 KOs), with ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas in his corner as his head trainer, will be defending his second-tier version of the WBA title. Wladimir Klitschko won the WBA belt in July but was “elevated” to “super champion” and another title was created for the purpose of generating additional sanctioning fees. Povetkin claimed the vacant “regular” title by outpointing former titlist Ruslan Chagaev in August.

Povetkin, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, is not one for trash talk.

“I will give my answer in the ring,” he said through a translator when told of Boswell’s remarks. “We’ve had a great preparation. Teddy Atlas has come up with a great strategy. I respect Boswell as a fighter, but he will not defeat me.”

The fight will be carried live in the United States on Epix and at 3:30 p.m. ET along with the main event, which features rising heavyweight contender Robert Helenius (16-0, 11 KOs), who will be fighting in front of his home crowd, facing England’s Dereck Chisora (15-1, 9 KOs) for the vacant European title.

Helenius is coming off an impressive ninth-round knockout of former titlist Sergei Liakhovich on the Povetkin-Chagaev card. Chisora suffered his first loss, a unanimous decision, to countryman Tyson Fury in July and rebounded with a six-round points win against professional opponent Remigijus Ziausys (19-44-3, 9 KOs).

“He’s called the ‘Nordic Nightmare,’ but he’ll be having nightmares about me for the rest of his life after I’ve left him flat out on the canvas,” Chisora said. “I’m surprised Helenius’ people wanted me to fight their unbeaten golden boy. Believe me, this is the biggest mistake they have made with his career.”

Helenius has defeated three former heavyweight titleholders in recent fights. Besides his decisive win against Liakhovich, Helenius also owns knockout victories against Samuel Peter and Lamon Brewster.

Dan Rafael is’s boxing writer.

Povetkin knocks Boswell out to defend WBA belt

WBA heavyweight champion Aleksandr Povetkin has successfully defended his title after knocking out US challenger Cedric Boswell.

­Povetkin was never in danger during the bout in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. The Russian was the more active man in the ring, increasing his pressure on Boswell with every round.

The American tried to counter-attack, but was forced to pay a lot more attention to defense, with the clinch being his only salvation on most occasions.

In the seventh round Boswell was only saved by the bell, but in the next round Povetkin started his offensive a little earlier.

The Russian Knight trapped his opponent in the corner, with the American collapsing to the floor after taking several heavy punches to the head.

“I was boxing a bit in the wrong manner in the opening rounds. I felt constrained,” Povetkin said after the fight. “Boswell was moving well and I was looking for one or two heavy blows, instead of pressing and hitting him constantly. But when I started doing this it all worked out.”

The Russian was once against asked when he’s going to step into the ring against one of the Klitschko brothers.

“I really want this fight to happen,” he said. “In any case it’ll be a good lesson for me, because the Ukrainians are great athletes.”

It was Povetkin’s first title defense and the 32-year-old remains unbeaten in his 23 professional bouts, which include 16 KOs.

U.S. fighter takes swipe at Russian healthcare

“The hallways were full of wandering patients that looked like they were just out of a civil war battle,” is how Jeff Monson, a U.S. heavyweight fighter, describes his experience at a hospital in Moscow in an unflattering blog post about the Russian capital’s health system.

Monson was forced to seek medical treatment after he broke his leg in a mixed martial arts fight with the Russian champion Fedor Emelianenko on November 20. However it was another man, Vladimir Putin, who sustained the most serious injury – mainly to his ego.

The Russian prime minister climbed onto the ring to congratulate Emelianenko but was met with boos and catcalls from the 22,000-strong crowd. Putin’s spokesman hastened to repair the damage, saying fans were in fact booing Monson, a claim rebutted by hundreds of supportive messages from Russians on his Facebook wall.

“You are a great fighter! Whistling was not [at] you, it was an expression of disapproval at our prime minister,” Vladimir Kazakov from Tula wrote.

Jeka Zorja said: “We hate only our government! We respect the real men, [which] you really are! All the whistles were only for Putin and for his party; they are the greatest thieves in our history!”

One user posted that Monson should take on Putin next.

Monson admitted that Emelianenko was a “class act” and that the fight didn’t go as planned for him. He then had a choice of two hospitals: “one for everyday folks and one for visitors and government officials.”

“I picked the local everyday folk hospital as I was told it was closer to the arena,” Monson wrote in his blog on the MMA-Connection website earlier this week.

He said that while he was “not a big fan of the medical industrial complex in the U.S.,” the Moscow experience made him “appreciate the comfort of health care in this country.”

When he arrived, staff were smoking in the lobby while “the hallways were full of wandering patients that looked like they were just out of a civil war battle.”

There was first a mix-up over which part of his body was to be x-rayed.

“I had to fight with one of the doctors to avoid having my skull x-rayed. Eventually I got an x-ray for my leg which showed it was broken (something I already knew) and had it casted,” Monson said.

He then had “16 stitches on the inside and outside of my lip with a material that could have passed for chicken wire.”

“It was so sharp it was making my gums bleed so I took them out myself.”

In an interview with the tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets on Thursday, the staff at the hospital no. 36 said the “wandering patients” Monson witnessed were “local lushes injured in family fights.”

“Every day after 6 p.m. there is an influx of patients with bloodied faces,” doctors said. They also dismissed Monson’s complaints about the material used in the stitching, saying it was “the cheapest and used everywhere in Russia.”

Monson said, however, that he felt no anger: “The doctors were very kind and despite the inadequate medical equipment/supplies they knew what they were doing.”

“As far as Putin and the booing at the end of the fight, well that’s another story at some other time,” he added.


Russian president urges media, bloggers to combat addiction

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called on the media and social network denizens to focus on the fight against alcoholism and drug addiction.

“Drugs are spreading via the Internet so there should be social advertizing on the Internet: This should become a topic of discussion in social networks,” he said at a meeting with media representatives from the Central Federal District.

“Drug addiction is not a popular subject but it needs to be addressed.”

Social advertizing is one way of fighting the spread of drug addiction, which is “fatal for the state,” the president said, adding it was not receiving enough attention the media.

More and more people should become involved in the effort, Medvedev said.

He admitted it could take years to solve the problem.


Mixed Martial Arts Fans Boo PM Putin

Mixed Martial Arts Fans Boo PM Putin

Published: November 23, 2011 (Issue # 1684)


Vladimir Putin congratulates Emelianenko for his victory over American Jeff Monson, who left the fight with a broken leg.

MOSCOW — Pro-Kremlin officials scrambled Monday to explain away an embarrassing chorus of boos Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faced from a crowd of 20,000 mixed martial arts fans in what was likely the worst public reception of his political career.

Some Putin supporters insisted that the thunderous catcalls were actually meant as praise, while others offered the head-scratching explanation that the crowd simply wanted to go to the toilet.

But several analysts and opposition activists claimed that the reaction was a genuine sign of displeasure from a public tired with Putin and his flashy publicity stunts.

The surprising display of political theater came Sunday when Putin took to the stage of the Olimpiisky stadium in Moscow after Russian champion Fedor Emelianenko soundly defeated his American opponent Jeff Monson in a three-round fight.

Putin watched the fight from the first row, and then went to congratulate Emelianenko, a stocky bald man of 183 centimeters and 108 kilograms, who fought naked except for his trunks, but donned a huge cross around his neck after the match.

But as Putin was handed a microphone, his words were drowned out by a flurry of whistles and boos, captured on a video of the event that garnered 680,000 views on YouTube by late Monday.

Putin plowed ahead with his short speech to say, “We congratulate Fedor Emelianenko, a real Russian hero, from the bottom of our hearts,” but his voice appears to tremble a bit in the video.

Apparently caught off-guard, the state-owned Russia-2 television channel, known for its fierce loyalty to Putin, broadcasted the unedited recording of the incident, complete with catcalls, in its 4 p.m. news on Sunday.

But it edited the sound in later broadcasts, removing the booing. Putin’s official web site offered a photo of him with Emelianenko, to whom he referred as “Fedya,” but no video.

Putin, who ruled the country as president from 2000 to 2008, recently announced that he will run for a third presidential term in March. He has been actively boosting his popularity this year through publicity stunts, including diving for ancient amphoras in the Black Sea, riding a three-wheeled motorcycle with bikers and posing on skates in an ice hockey uniform.

But this was the first time that such a show went visibly wrong, which prompted famous whistleblower and Kremlin-basher Alexei Navalny to proclaim it “the end of an era.”

“Why does he think that if people like fights, they like crooks and thieves?” Navalny wrote on his blog, referring to a widely used derogatory term for Putin’s political party, United Russia.

Mikhail Moskalyov, director of the Olimpiisky stadium, tried to downplay the accident, telling Ekho Moskvy that the boos were for Emelianenko’s rival Monson, who spent the whole fight on the defensive and was pounded hard by his rival.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov echoed that explanation, telling The Guardian that “the majority of the voices were about that American.” Pavel Danilin, a political consultant with United Russia, even insisted on his blog that the public actually cheered Putin even as it booed Monson.

But the 40-year-old American, who got up after several knockdowns and limped away with a bloodied face and a broken leg, was actually greeted by applause, reported.

Emelianenko, whose standing took a serious blow after he lost his three previous fights, also praised Monson’s fighting spirit in an interview with

The most bizarre explanation was offered by Kristina Potupchik, a spokeswoman for the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi. She insisted that the public was angered by organizers, who did not let the public visit toilets during Putin’s speech.

“Gentlemen, you had to use the bathroom beforehand,” Potupchik quipped on her blog Monday. But most other prominent bloggers ridiculed her version of events.

A spokeswoman for Emelianenko — incidentally a United Russia rep in the Belgorod region legislature — declined to comment Monday.

But Konstantin Ustyantsev, a sport editor with who attended the event, told The St. Petersburg Times there was no mistaking the catcalls for praise.

“Most spectators of the match were young, and their reaction to Putin shows that they are well informed about political life in the country and dislike it,” Ustyantsev said by telephone Monday.

Even many Kremlin supporters admitted the incident was not flattering for Putin. One of them, blogger Andrei Barashkin, reported the story on his LiveJournal blog, saying several “whistlers” later told him that they were angry at what they perceived as Putin’s attempt to boost his popularity and that of United Russia.

“Discontent with authorities is growing, and people are becoming ever more irritated that public events are interrupted by politicians they see every day on television,” said Alexei Makarkin, head of the Center for Political Technologies.

Putin’s popularity is still high, Makarkin conceded in a telephone interview Monday. But it is nowhere near the support figures from five years ago, he said.

Writer Roman Shishlov contributed to this report.

Vladimir Putin booed by Moscow fight fans

The Russian prime minister appeared to be greeted by a chorus of boos as he stepped into the ring at Olimpisky stadium in Moscow after a martial arts fight. There were jeers as Putin, a judo black belt who performs macho stunts to buoy his popularity, gave a short speech congratulating Russian Fedor Emelianenko for beating American Jeff Monson. Putin’s supporters said the catcalls were not a sign of dissent but came from beer-guzzling fight fans expressing their need to get to the toilets

Fedor beats Monson to prove his career not over yet

Russian MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko has vowed to carry on fighting after claiming his first victory in four fights with a unanimous decision over American Jeff Monson in a heavyweight bout in Moscow.

Until 18 months ago the Last Emperor had gone unbeaten for a decade. But then defeats to Fabricio Verdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson had prompted questions it was time the 35-year-old resigned.

The Russian weighed in at 300 grams heavier than 40-year-old Monson, saying he felt in good condition and adding any decision on his future would be made after the fight.

Then, after the bout, where he completely dominated his opponent seriously injuring one of his legs, Emelianenko told the crowd at the Olimpisky Arena that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Martial arts experts saw the new Fedor on the night. Instead of seeking more mat wrestling, Fedor surprised his opponent with a whole bunch of low-kicks and aggressive counterblows. On the other hand, he looked more defense-oriented.

In a televised interview afterwards, the fighter himself didn’t pay much attention to this change of techniques saying that “every new bout is a new story”. He also showed huge respect to Monson, adding that the American looked well prepared for the fight.

Putin attends mixed fight championship

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived to Olimpiisky Sports Complex in Moscow to support the Russian athlete, many-time world mixed martial arts champion Fedor Emelianenko, who faces American Jeff Monson on Sunday.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Russian female super middleweight world champion boxer Natalya Ragozina and two-time Grand Slam tennis winner Marat Safin also came to see the fight.

This current championship will see fighters from Russia’s M-1 Global club

This is not the first time Putin, a judo black belt and an honorary president of the European Judo Union, have attended Yemelyanenko fights. Putin attended the Mixed Fight European Championship in July 2010 in Russia’s southern resort city of Sochi together with Hollywood star and martial arts expert Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 2007, Putin and Van Damme watched the Mixed Fight Championship between teams from Russia and the United States in St. Petersburg’s Ledovy Dvorets Arena (Ice Palace Arena), where they sat together with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.


Emelianenko Jr. slams referee for halting bout after 23 seconds

Russian MMA specialist Aleksandr Emelianenko, who was knocked out after just 23 seconds of his latest bout against countryman Magomed Malikov, says the judge aborted the fight prematurely.

­“I think the referee stopped the fight too early,” Emelianenko told “I was conscious and got back on my feet in an instant.  Yes, it was a light knockdown, but I was in full control of the situation in the ring. I understood that I missed one punch. The lights were out for less than one second and I was OK again.”

The main event of the M-1 Challenge XXVIII, which took place in the Russian city of Astrakhan on November 12, ended after Mlikov’s first punch found the head of his opponent, Emelianenko.    

“I think the judge was wrong in stopping the bout,”
the younger brother of legendary Fedor Emelianenko said. “It would’ve been different if I couldn’t get up, or fell asleep, but I was doing quite well.” 

“Yes, the punch was quite hard and unexpected. He hit the head, but it wasn’t fatal,”
he added.  

Aleksandr Emelianenko (15-5, 11 Kos), who was making his return to the ring after a year-long absence, has suffered his second straight defeat.

Meanwhile, Fedor is preparing to end his three-bout losing streak by taking on Jeff Monson of the US in Moscow over the weekend.

Clowns and matador fight Wall Street bull (VIDEO)

If you ask anyone involved in the Occupy movement, they’ll be sure to tell you that Wall Street is full of clowns. In a new video circulating the Web, some demonstrators decided to give them some company.

Hannah Morgan and Louis Jargow were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for donning clown attire, hopping a barricade in front of the iconic Charging Bull statue adjacent to Wall Street and horsing around in front of the bronze beast until the NYPD could apprehend them.

Nearby, an accomplice decorated in a full-blown matador uniform, vied for the bull’s attention while the clowns were detained by police.

This, we believe, was Wall Street’s first rodeo.

“This bull has ruined millions of lives!” Jargow exclaimed while police brought him to the ground. “Yet he and his accomplices have been rewarded with billions of our tax dollars and we, here to put a stop to it all, are thrown to the ground.”

“¡Un escándalo!” he yelled, or “a scandal!”

As police cuffed Jargow and Morgan for clowning around, the matador — unbeknownst to police — mounted the cop car and waved a red cape at the bull.

In classic Wall Street style, the bull did nothing to acknowledge the everyman before him.

“I wondered whether I, neophyte matador, could bring down this behemoth, world-famous for charging towards profit while trampling underfoot the average worker,” said the bullfighter. “Come what may, I knew I must try.”

Upon the installation of the statue in 1989, artist Arturo Di Modica’s assistant, Kim Stippa, said the intention of the piece was “to encourage everybody to realize America’s power.” The Charging Bull monument has since become a symbol of Wall Street, for its good and for its bad. Canadian anti-corporate magazine AdBusters used Di Modica’s artwork in their initial campaign to kick-start the Occupy Wall Street movement this summer before an encampment in Zuccotti Park began.

Undetected by the NYPD, the matador was not charged with any crimes. The clowns, however, were brought in and booked only to be released around an hour later.

Khasikov breaks ‘Iron Mike’ to win W5 belt

Russian kickboxing star Batu Khasikov is now a fully-fledged member of the fight game elite. On Saturday, Batukhan, who beat Albert Kraus earlier this year, claimed a victory over another K-1 great, “Iron” Mike Zambidis.

­Treat every fight as if it’s the fight of your life is the creed by which Batu Khasikov has lived his entire career.

That culminated in the biggest bout of all in Moscow on Saturday as Russia’s top welterweight kickboxer challenged one of the toughest men in the business, reigning W5 champion Mike Zambidis.

The Greek was the second K-1 legend to test the 31-year-old. In March, Khasikov made his way up the ladder by beating Albert Kraus via a unanimous decision.

This time around he did not wait around. Zambidis is also known as “Iron” Mike. But Batukhan proved to be made of something even stronger on the night.

One of his dangerous knees forced Zambidis to give up the fight due to a jaw fracture early in the first round though it was not exactly clear when the crucial hit came.

“My plan for the fight was to make Mike constantly move and not let him stay firm on his feet. That’s where he’s extremely dangerous, punching very hard. But when it comes to knees and low kicks, well, that’s where I’m strongest,” 
the beaming Batu said.

So who is next for Batukhan? That question is yet to be answered, although the fighter himself knows what he wants.

“My point of view is that the very best K-1 fighters should keep coming to Russia to show what they have to offer. Now I can fight on my own terms and not have to travel as much,”
he noted.

The initial assumption that Zambidis’s jaw was broken during the bout was confirmed on Sunday.  

“As far as I can tell, it’s quite a serious fracture,”
Kamil Gadzhiev, one the fight’s organizers, told Sport Express newspaper. “If Zambidis felt that he couldn’t continue than it’s so. He isn’t the type of man to stop the match without a serious reason.”

“In first place, he came to Moscow for victory, and not for the money,” the promoter added.

The Greek fighter has refused hospitalization in the Russian capital and has already returned home to undergo treatment.

Meanwhile, the organizers promised to release the broken jaw X-ray to avoid further speculation.

Khasikov ready to humble another K-1 legend

There is a big welterweight title fight in Moscow tonight. K-1 Russian champion Batu Khasikov is hoping to take the W5 crown from legend Mike Zambidis.

The Greek, nicknamed “Iron Mike”, is a well-established force in the sport, boasting a record of 85 knockout wins, while Khasikov is only taking his first steps in K-1, but has already humbled another legend, Albert Kraus, in his previous fight.

Khasikov’s next clash will go even further in bolstering his reputation in the fight game. In Moscow, on November 5, Batukhan will take on another K-1 great, “Iron” Mike Zambidis. The man, known as the pride of Greece, has certainly been around the block recording a full 148 wins during his career.

Now one of his numerous welterweight titles – the W5 crown- is on the line.

“I won’t make any predictions for the fight, but what I know for sure is that Batu is treating the upcoming clash as the fight of his life. So I’m preparing myself for a very tough brawl,” says Zambidis.

Batu himself has been eager to show his focus, his confidence and maybe just try to get inside the Greek veteran’s head a little too.

“I don’t think I could’ve bullied him if I had tried to really do so. I just wanted to see his reaction and get some more knowledge of what he’s like,” Batu says before adding, “I don’t feel the pressure. It’s just part of the game. I prefer to have the last word in the ring!”

Despite being the same age, 31, the fighters are polar opposites in terms of experience.

Zambidis has fought everybody and done everything. Khasikov is still on the up and well aware a solid showing in the upcoming clash will open just about every door in the sport.

“Mike is an extraordinary fighter, good in both punching and kicking, very light on his feet. But we’ve done a great job preparing for the fight, studying him very closely. And each of his actions will face my counter action,” pledges Batu.

And those actions are coming very soon, in Moscow, this Saturday night.

Lebedev overwhelms Toney to clinch WBA cruiserweight belt

Denis Lebedev didn’t sent James ‘Lights Out’ Toney to canvas, as he had pledged to do, but that didn’t stop him from winning the WBA cruiserweight belt in a one-sided bout in Moscow.

The Russian dominated throughout the whole fight against the decorated American fighter and was close to finishing it before time. But the 43-year-old found some hidden reserves and each time survived Lebedev’s assault.

During his long professional career, Toney had never been knocked out – and nor was he on the night. However, that didn’t really upset Lebedev as all three judges unanimously gave all 12 rounds to the Russian fighter. The final score, 120-108, speaks for itself.

After the fight Lebedev paid tribute to his opponent.

“With all respect to James and his team I wanted and deserved to win more,” he stressed afterwards.

Thus, the 32-year-old southpaw, who knocked out Roy Jones Jr in his previous fight, made amends for his split-decision defeat to Marco Huck for the WBO cruiserweight title in Germany last December and has now deservedly won the WBA belt.

British court to deliver Assange verdict today

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will learn, later on Wednesday, the verdict in his fight against extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange denies the claims and says they are politically-motivated.

­One way or another, the moment of truth is approaching the WikiLeaks whistleblower as the British High Court prepared to make a verdict as to whether or not Assange will be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Both Assange and the Swedish prosecutors have the right to take the case to the Supreme Court.

If it does go to the Supreme Court, it is likely that the entire basis of the European arrest warrant, under which people can be extradited to other EU countries to face questions with very little evidence, will be put under scrutiny. Many in the UK would welcome that.

If the judge rules out further appeals one of two things will happen. Assange could be set free immediately after 11 months living under strict bail conditions. Or his feet might not touch the ground as he could be extradited to Sweden within 14 days.

Either way, his life’s work is under threat. WikiLeaks is in crippling financial trouble and maybe forced to close in the New Year.

Murderer who sparked race riots gets 20 yrs

A Moscow court has found North Caucasus native guilty of murdering a football fan in a street brawl and jailed him for 20 years. Thousands strong riots followed the shooting of Egor Sviridov in central Moscow in December 2010.

Cherkesov was found guilty of all charges – murder, attempted murder, hooliganism and assault. The defendant pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, arguing that he was fired the weapon in self-defense and without intent to kill.

His co-defendants, Akay Akayev, Artur Arcibiev, Nariman Ismailov, Khasan Akayev and Ramzan Utarbieyev, also from Russia’s southern republics, will spend five years behind bars after being found guilty of hooliganism and assault.

Russian prosecutors had asked for a 23-year prison sentence for Aslan Cherkesov and seven to eight years for the five other defendants.

Cherkesov’s defense is to lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court over the sentence, which they say it too severe.

Investigators found that Cherkesov and his companions provoked the fight by attacking Sviridov and fellow Spartak fans.

Police arrested Cherkesov and his five co-defendants in the wake of the fight, released Cherkesov’s companions just a few hours later.

This sparked violent protests by Spartak Moscow fans and nationalist extremists who marched in their thousands to Manezh Square near the Kremlin, giving Nazi salutes and throwing flares at police in what was dubbed a race riot.

The crime rocked Russia and led Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to pay personal tribute to Sviridov and visit his grave.

French whine about Russian wine

In ten years’ time, Russia will stop producing champagne, instead switching to “sparkling wine.”

The move is part of an agreement between Russian producers and French ones from the Champagne region, Interfax reports citing sources in Abrau-Dyurso winery.

The deadline is currently scheduled for 2022, but it may be extended if re-branding Russian bubbly proves more difficult than first thought.

The fight over the Champagne appellation started in 2009.

The French insist that “Champagne” is a geographic location and can only be used in the name of wines produced in the region.

Russia is not the first country forced into renaming its local type of sparkling wine. Following a heated dispute with the French, the US also forbade its producers to use the term “champagne” to describe wines of the sort that appeared after 2006.

Occupy Wall Street – Commercializing the Revolution

Companies big and small have been swarming to the encampment like bees to honey. For example, there are 99-percent effective Occupy condoms helping Americans fight against being screwed.

“The attention we’ve gotten over this last week has been great. Orders have been coming in. We have sold a couple of thousand Occupy condoms,” said Adam Glickman of Condomania in Los Angeles.

There are over 3,000 items of Occupy Wall Street merchandise – pins, T-shirts and even an Occupiers’ hygiene kit – starting at 12 bucks a pack – available for purchase on Ebay.

A nice fresh pie, tomato sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni make up an Occu-pied meat pizza – a neighborhood special sold a few steps away from where the camp has been set up.

“We have Occu-pie meat, with pepperoni, Occu-pie vegan without cheese, just green peppers and Occu-pie veggie – with mushrooms,” revealed Liberatos pizza worker Marion Caceda.

While regular pies are 22 dollars, the Occupy pizzas are on sale – at 15 bucks.

The pizza smells and looks good, but does it have a true taste of revolution? RT asked the occupiers this question.

“I taste freedom. It’s a little greasy, but I can taste the potential of change in it,” said one protester.

“It tastes like victory,” said another occupier.

Protesters don’t seem to mind that businesses are using the Occupy Wall Street name to stir up sales.

“Part of the reason why this movement is so successful is because people in business, people who theoretically profit off this exploitation, are also unhappy with the way things are working,” said Harrison Schultz, a member of the Occupy Wall Street PR team.

As they say – everyone is just trying to keep afloat in a terrible economy.

“It’s the 99 percent. They’re trying to make their own ends meet. Feed families. Keep their electricity turned on,” said protester Joey Piersen.

“People making a couple of bucks here and there – nothing compared to the Goldman Sachs gang. Far too few have much too much,” said trendscaster Gerald Celente.

As well as so many having so little – that’s exactly why the protesters are camping out – with a little help from businesses spreading the word.

Three reasons why Klitschko still wants to fight Povetkin

Heavyweight Superchampion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine has named three reasons why he wants to fight Russian Aleksander Povetkin.

­After two matches between them were called off, Klitschko still hopes to meet 32-year-old Povetkin in the ring.

“I want to have a fight with Povetkin. Aleksander is a WBA Champion. And whom should I clash with if not champions? And then he is very skilled boxer, hasn’t yet lost any battle. Also he is 2004 Olympic Champion. A duel of two Olympic Champions is especially great, it is interesting! I hope we can pull off the fight. I am ready – now it’s just down to Povetkin and his team,” Klitschko told Sovetsky Sport newspaper.

“I wish Povetkin luck in his upcoming fights – each victory will bring him closer to a clash with me. We missed two chances and I hope it will be third time lucky,” he added.

Meanwhile, Klitschko Jr. is getting ready for a bout with 39-year-old Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck on December 10.

Povetkin’s next fight is scheduled for either 3 or 17 December. American Hasim Rahman is likely to be his  opponent.