Russian lawyer Magnitsky ‘tortured, beaten to death’ – report

The country’s presidential human rights council says police torture could have led to the death of a Russian lawyer, who was imprisoned at the time.

This comes after the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund Magnitsky worked for sent the council a 100-page report based on official documents, court materials, and public statements.

“The documents we possess testify to the illegal use of rubber clubs,” said council member and human rights defender Valery Borshchyov, as quoted by Interfax. “It turns out that 8 prison employees were beating one prisoner.”

An ambulance arrived at the prison on the day Magnitsky died, but doctors were denied access for about an hour.

“When they were finally let in, the doctors reported the death time different from that cited by the local employees – it was an hour earlier,” Borshchyov said. “The doctors also found out that Magnitsky was not in the intensive care unit, as claimed the prison’s physician. He was seated on the floor, leaning against a bunk and handcuffs were lying nearby.”

The human rights council presented photographs from the morgue, which showed deep wounds from handcuffs on Magnitsky’s wrists.

“Such wounds cannot be caused by the simple wearing of handcuffs,” Borshchyov said. “He must have been trying to break free.”

Prison personnel insist they had to cuff Magnitsky, as he was trying to commit suicide and injure himself.

Members of the council insist prosecutors look into the new evidence.

37-year-old Sergey Magnitsky, who worked for a foreign investment fund, was arrested on tax evasion charges in 2009. The gravely-ill lawyer died in a pre-trial detention facility several months later.

Two forensic evaluations showed that Magnitsky died of acute heart failure. Experts confirmed that Magnitsky was suffering from heart problems, but that it was not at an acute stage.

His family and colleagues claim he was deliberately denied medical help. Two prison doctors have been charged with negligence during the ongoing investigation.

Magnitsky said the criminal case against him was retaliation for his testimony, alleging the involvement of law enforcement officials in the embezzlement of budget funds.

The lawyer’s death prompted the US to blacklist a number of Russian citizens which it links to the case. Russia slammed the move and responded with similar measures against US officials.

Russian political parties to kick off pre-election debates

MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) – All of the political parties taking part in elections to the Russian State Duma on December 4 will start pre-election televised debates on Wednesday.

The seven registered parties – United Russia, the Communists, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), A Just Russia, Yabloko, A Right Cause and Patriots of Russia – will receive one free hour of television air time on the state-run TV channels and radio stations.

“I hope they will resemble boxing bouts,” said Artyom Sheynin, an editor at Russia’s Channel One TV station.

The parties have not yet revealed which of their members will take part in the debates.

The ruling United Russia party will participate in debates for the first time since its formation in 2001. The lower house Speaker Boris Gryzlov, a United Russia member, might represent the party in the debates. President Dmitry Medvedev, who heads the party’s election list, will not participate in the debates, sources reported in late September.

Russia launches Glonass satellites

Russia on Friday launched a Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites from the Baikonur space center after a 24-hour delay due to technical reasons, a spokesman for the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.

This was first launch of a Proton-M rocket with Glonass satellites from Baikonur since the failed launch last year which destroyed three Glonass-Ms.

The launch was conducted at 16:51 Moscow time [12:51 GMT] on Friday. “The separation of the satellites is expected at 22:41 Moscow time [18:41 GMT],” the official said.

The launch was postponed for a day on Thursday after a malfunction of the switching network was detected during a check of the ground-based equipment at the launch pad.

Glonass is Russia’s answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and is designed for both military and civilian uses. Both systems allow users to determine their positions to within a few meters.

Russia currently has a total of 27 Glonass satellites in orbit, although only 23 of them are operational.

According to Roscosmos, two Glonass satellites are under maintenance, one is on a standby, and one recently launched satellite is being integrated into the grouping.

The complete Glonass grouping needs 24 functioning and 2-3 reserve satellites to operate with global coverage.

Him-a-fallin’: paraglider meets vulture mid-air

A Russian paraglider’s first Himalayan flight could well have been his last after he collided with a griffon vulture mid-air and his canopy became tangled. Luckily, he managed to open the emergency parachute and land safely. But what about the bird?

­Paravoffka – the nickname of the survivor in the paragliding community – gained control of the deadly situation, which saved not only his life, but that of the bird as well.

The fact that the sportsman landed without any trauma was a real miracle, as landing with an emergency parachute is highly dangerous – one can get hit against rocks or fall on to a tree.

Seconds after the successful landing, the pilot called his friends on the walkie-talkie and then made an attempt to free the bird, no-less-frightened than himself. That was not an easy task to do: the claws were tightly tangled in the canopy. But finally the bird was freed and flew away.

The dangerous flight was caught on video, with the number of views skyrocketing hour after hour.

The Himalayas are one of the most beloved sites among paragliders, seen as ideal for high and scenic flights. In mid and late autumn, hundreds flock there from all over the world.

Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) are in fact common companions during paraglider exercises in the air: they help people see the currents of air in which the paraglider is ascending, Paravoffka explains in his comment to the video. But this time one of the three griffons seemed distracted and, as the pilot says, was not looking where it was flying, which resulted in the accident.

Russians turn up late at work‎ because of time switch chaos

Many Russians appeared an hour late at work as their mobile devices and personal computers automatically switched to the winter time that was scrapped by Russia back in March.

In February Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree abolishing the autumn time switch and leaving Russia in a “permanent summer time.”









His decision was made after studies showed that daylight saving puts an unnecessary strain on public health.

The confusion occurred on Sunday when thousands of mobile devices and personal computers automatically updated the time, shifting the clock back one hour.

“All of my colleagues overslept for work,” a user Alyo Alyona in Russian social network, VKontakte said.

“My phone and laptop have automatically updated time. They are probably not familiar with Medvedev,” said one of the Facebook users.

An iPhone-owner from Moscow, who was not affected by the time chaos, said on his Facebook page that his “iPhone did not make any time updates as well as MacBook.”

However some of the Apple users, who had the old version of the iOS software, also suffered from the rebellion of the gadgets.

A poll conducted in Russia in February showed that some 60% of Russians support the decision to scrap the annual shift to winter time.

In November 2009, Medvedev also initiated a reform that reduced the number of time zones in Russia to 9 from 11.


15 Year-Old Takes Tram For a Joyride

15 Year-Old Takes Tram For a Joyride

Published: October 26, 2011 (Issue # 1680)

MOSCOW — Police in a Urals town are investigating an incident in which a teenager commandeered an empty tram and safely drove it for almost an hour.

The 15-year-old stumbled upon the empty tram in the town of Zlatoust while its driver and conductor were out to lunch earlier this month.

The boy drove the tram for about 40 minutes along its normal route, picking up and dropping off passengers. The joyride ended when police switched the tracks, forcing the tram back to the depot, where the boy was apprehended.

Have a nice day: Moscow Metro upgrades customer service

Moscow’s famously bad customer service is about to get better – at least underground.

The Metro says it is going to train its cashiers to be friendlier. They will be given instructions telling them how to communicate with customers. Cashiers in the metro have a particularly bad reputation for being rude.

The metro management also plans to fight queues in the underground. At the beginning of next year, special ticket machines will be rolled out across all stations.

It has also promised that more trains would be operating in the Moscow Metro during rush hour. Waiting times will be reduced by five to ten seconds in the morning. The aim is to combat overcrowding by slashing the number of passengers in each subway car by 10 per cent.

The Moscow subway system will also become an easier ride for foreigners, as the head of the underground has ordered that all signs be translated into English. Currently foreign tourists and expats can only see transliterated versions of the names of metro stations in Latin letters on maps in the subways cars. The signs on platforms and underpasses are currently not translated, making it difficult to find one’s way in the wide net of underground stations and exits.

Tailor-made household help: A guide to domestic staff agencies

Feeling swamped by your household chores? Join RT’s tour around Moscow’s English-friendly domestic staff agencies.

In your search for good and cheap household personnel, the Internet will be the first place to start.

Online forums like are packed with inexpensive offers from private tutors, drivers and, of course, housekeepers. An average rate for a maid in Moscow is around $10 per hour.

If, apart from cleaning, you need other household routines to be taken care of, Moscow has a popular service specially designed for you.

“We offer a service called ‘Rent a Husband’ which includes such services as maintenance and electrical wiring,” Tatyana Belevtseva, deputy director of Uborsila cleaning services agency, told RT.

A bit less popular, there is also a “wife for an hour”. Starting from 1,500 rubles, a temporary spouse will not only clean up but also do your laundry and buy groceries.

­Quest for ideal baby-sitter

While most people have standard requirements for a maid, the search for a perfect babysitter can be a lot more difficult, so it might be worth getting professional advice. Domestic staff recruiters manage to satisfy even the most eccentric needs.

“Sometimes our clients have specific requests for the employee’s appearance,” Mila Kostenko, a manager at Perfect Personnel company, told RT. “For example, a brunette nanny to a baby whose mother has dark hair. Around 50 per cent of people ask for staff born under a specific zodiac sign.”

Mila is a professional psychoanalyst. Specialists like her have far more sophisticated methods than astrology to ensure compatibility between the client and personnel.

“It often happens that a family hires an employee with excellent recommendations from their friends,” Alla Averina, from Prestige Agency, told RT. “But soon they discover that this person simply doesn’t fit in the house. This will rarely happen with an agency, as they look for a perfect candidate based on your psychological profile.”

Recruiters also have resources to organize proper training, a thorough background and medical check. Unfortunately, few agencies In Moscow specialize in finding English-speaking personnel.

Still, there are some options, like Family Care agency. They say a true professional will always find a common language with the client.

“If the kid doesn’t speak any English or Russian, the right nanny will always find an approach to him,” Ekaterina Morozova, a manager at Family Care, told RT. “First she will learn a few words in his language, just to establish contact. And gradually, while talking to the child, she learns his language and vice-versa.”

­Traditional Western upbringing

Jason is another entrepreneur promoting Western upbringing in Russia. He brings nannies and governesses from the UK, France and other parts of Europe. His clientele is mostly comprised of wealthy Russians, who want their kids to go native and are ready to splash out on it.

“People need some kind of motivation to come to Russia,” Jason Farrell, from Gouverneur agency, told RT. “For teachers, governesses and nannies, that’s usually something to do with finance. The average expat, unless they’re on a serious budget from a company, is unlikely to value the service as much as a Russian person would. We have occasional requests from French-speaking expats who want their children to learn English better.”

In general, an agency’s services will cost you around a month’s salary of your employee and 50 per cent for every contract extension.

Remember: the demand for in-house staff in autumn often exceeds supply, so you might end up paying more to your staff now than you would outside the peak season.

Ready, Packed, Sipping Chicory and on to Turkey

I thought I would take a moment and make a last post for a few days. So I brewed myself a cup of chicory, added cream and am doing some thinking’s while sipping that cup of chicory. It looks like we are ready for that trip to Turkey…

Sveta’s son just came by and got all the stuff that he needs to take care of Boza. Boza was so excited to see Misha and it looks like Misha was truly happy to see Boza. I think that Misha enjoys the time alone away from the rest of the family and I know that Boza likes Misha almost as much as us. Boza probably likes Sveta’s mom more than any of us, but Misha wanted to watch Boza…

We have a 8 am flight Sunday morning and will get to Turkey at 10 am. It actually is a 3 hour trip but we have an hour difference in time zones. Then we have about a 2 hour trip to the hotel from the international airport. We should get to the hotel just in time for lunch…

I have been looking at the temperatures in Turkey. It is so much warmer there, than here in Moscow. It has been +5c at night and +10c in the day in Moscow. In Turkey it looks like it has been +25-30c in the day and +15 or so at night. We are looking forward to those temperatures…

So the next post will be from Turkey. I have a couple of post that are per-scheduled and they will post on their own. But they are older posts that I have found and need to be put back into the system properly. As we go on this trip Windows to Russia has officially/unofficially reached 3000 posts. I have been going half way in between what is and what should be. If you remember correctly when Blogger Blogspot by Google tried to shut us down and block the blog, we lost way over 250 posts in the process. So I make it an even 200 posts and split the difference. We just hit 2905 with this post and I do it this way so that I never forget what Blogger did to Windows to Russia. It just was not right…

I want to thank everyone for reading Windows to Russia. It just had a record month in readership. Sometimes I wonder why I do it? But once in awhile I get a comment on an e-mail that makes me realize that people are listening and people are reading. I realize that I am not the most social person and as such I am not a game player on these social networks and such. I do not also play games and comment all over the web just to get links. I simple tell what is happening in my little world in Russia and that simply is all that I can do. Sometimes those thinking’s of mine are not always centered on Russia, but that is all the same because I am in Russia and these are my thoughts in Russia…

Thank you for the thousands of readers a day that come to Windows to Russia. You are why I am writing all these posts…

Kyle Keeton
Windows to Russia