Man stabs eight people in northeast Moscow

Police detained a man who stabbed eight people in northeast Moscow on Friday afternoon, a police spokesman said.

“The number of victims has increased to eight. All of them have been taken to hospitals in Moscow,” the spokesman said.

In addition to the stabbing victims, one five-year-old boy received medical treatment for shock after witnessing the attack.

One severely wounded women was taken to clinical hospital #20 in northeast Moscow. Hospital authorities there declined to comment on her condition.



Customs promise operations overhaul

Not famous for being customer-friendly, the Russian Customs Service is about to undergo some major changes.

An improvement was ordered by President Medvedev, who claimed that current Russian customs practices hamper potential foreign investments as they try to enter the country. The situation, he said, has particularly worsened in the last six months.

Currently, both domestic and foreign companies have to provide, on average, up to eight documents to export goods – and around 13 documents to import them.

This is twice the number of documents generally required in most developed countries. Even Russia’s new partners in the Customs Union, Kazakhstan and Belarus, have more efficient rules when it comes to customs.

The new regulations will become effective in May 2012. Apart from getting rid of outdated and ineffective laws, they will include a range of amendments providing special treatment for businesses with “clean sheets.”

Among them will be companies who did not break customs rules more than once, and who provide guarantees to pay customs fees of more than 1 million rubles ($30,000).

Such companies will be exempt from certain customs operations and allowed to keep their shipments in special storage before customs procedures.

Other entrepreneurs with good reputations in terms of taxes, will be able to pass through a “green channel” – with random inspections, like in many other developed countries.

“Our next step is to differentiate between the types of external economic activity,” Dmitry Nekrasov, of the Federal Customs Service, told RT. “This practice is used world-wide. It implies that customs control will be used selectively for companies who have been shown to be transparent and who have a good business reputation. But it doesn’t’ mean a total lack of control; we will use random number generation to select who to check.”

The new regulations will also allow individual travelers on transit flights to go through customs only at their final destination – that system is being tested currently in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

First time cash crooks get jail-out option

Russia’s fraud and tax evasion laws have been reformed, following a decree signed by President Medvedev.

Primarily, the changes to the Criminal Code amend a series of articles on economic crimes. Namely, people who have committed an economic crime for the first time can now avoid a prison sentence – once they repay the damages they have committed, and a penalty of five times the damages.

The economic crimes in question involve petty crimes against property, illegal entrepreneurship, bankruptcy, tax evasion, and some types of fraud. Until now, all of these were punished by up to three years in prison.

There are, however, several restrictions as to how and when the amendments can be applied.

“The criminal code takes a broad view on fraud,” Vladimir Kitsing, a lawyer from the Knyazev and Partners company, told RT. “And although technically it has to do with economic endeavors, formally it belongs to the embezzlement chapter of the Criminal Code. That’s why even if someone accused of fraud has repaid the damage they’ve done, they can’t be freed from criminal prosecution.”

These amendments were inspired by the cases of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky and entrepreneur Vera Trifonova who died in pre-trial detention for economic crimes they are alleged to have committed.

The new version of the Criminal Code also introduces compulsory labor of up to five years as an alternative to prison time. That option would be applied to petty crimes, as well as moderately severe crimes committed for the first time.

Judges will also be allowed to lower the crime’s category, thus cutting the prison term and choosing another type of sentence. In some of the cases, criminals could even get the chance to avoid prison. For drug addicts, sentences could be postponed until they finish voluntarily treatment – for up to eight years.

There is also a major change in the treatment of verbal abuse. Slander, previously regarded as a criminal offense, will now be an administrative offense punished by fines rather than prison sentences. Violence against journalists or their relatives, meanwhile, will be considered criminal and could be punished with up to six years in prison.

The law will be retroactive, so offenders who have already been found guilty can hope for reconsideration of their cases.

Medvedev stands up for Russian adoptees abroad

President Dmitry Medvedev urged government agencies on Saturday to work out a way to punish foreigners for violent treatment of adopted Russian children in the wake of recent acquittal rulings in the United States.

The president stepped in to protect Russian children after courts in the U.S. cleared three adoptive parents of premeditated murder charges in two child killing cases in the past month.

“There cannot be any distinction here between cases happening abroad and those taking place in our country because all these are grave crimes,” Medvedev told Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and Children’s Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov.

According to Astakhov’s press service, 19 children adopted in Russia have died from the hands of their adoptive parents in the United States since the early 1990s.

In a recent development, 35-year-old Brian and Lisa Dykstra of Iowa City were cleared of charges of killing their 18-month toddler Isaac Dykstra, adopted in Russia, on November 3. Astakhov said Russia might start its own investigation into the case.

Medvedev said lawmakers had recently passed a package of legal initiatives to protect children’s rights. “Now the goal is to use this legal instrument firmly and consistently,” he added but admitted that the issue was a complicated one.

Two weeks ago, a Pennsylvania court set free Michael and Nanette Craver who had been found guilty of the involuntarily manslaughter of their adopted Russian son, Ivan, and sentenced to 16 months in jail. The couple had already spent about 18 months in jail so they were released immediately. Ivan had been found dead with over 80 injuries on his body.


Drug abuse treatment law to raise number of patients 2-3 times

The number of patients of addiction treatment clinics may grow 2-3 times after the law on compulsory drug abuse treatment is adopted in Russia, Russian Ministry of Health’s chief alcohol and drug abuse specialist Yevgeny Bryun said on Saturday.

Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov earlier said that a law on criminal liability for drug abuse in the places of public resort might be adopted in the spring of 2012. Drug addicts will have to choose either to face criminal penalty or drug abuse treatment.

“I don’t think it will be a very large increase, the number of patients will rise 2-3 times,” Bryun said.

Bryun added that the Russian drug addiction service had enough resources, to cope with an increase in the number of patients of addiction treatment clinics.

“I don’t see any problem here,” Bryun said. “We have enough psychologists, doctors and social workers in each of the federal subjects, but these resources are currently not fully used,” he said.

When asked about the exact amount of court rulings on compulsory drug abuse treatment in Russia, Bryun said he could not name the figure.

“I can’t name the figure in terms of the whole country. In Moscow there are about 600 such court rulings on compulsory treatment,” he said.


Russia transfers gravely ill inmate to hospital after Strasbourg ruling

A gravely ill inmate, Natalia Gulevich, whose kidneys and bladder recently failed was transferred on Tuesday from a pretrial detention center to a hospital after the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights issued a ruling, her lawyer, Anna Stavitskaya, said.

“Gulevich was today transferred to a hospital! The EU’s persistence [Strasbourg court ruling] and a kidney failure was necessary for this! Without it our officials believed that the individual was healthy,” Stavitskaya said on her Facebook page.

Entrepreneur Gulevich was arrested in December 2010 on embezzlement charges, after she failed to fully repay the credit she took from a private bank. In what the inmate’s lawyers call a corporate raid, the bank took over Gulevich’s company and filed a suit against the woman.

Gulevich had been insistently asking prison doctors to provide her with proper medical treatment, but to no avail. According to Russia’s new legislation, gravely ill people must not be held in pretrial detention centers.

This October, a Moscow court agreed to release the businesswoman on a hefty bail of $3 million. Lawyers for Gulevich failed to collect the money on time.

In early November, Stavitskaya filed a complaint to the Strasbourg Court demanding that her defendant receive a medical examination and treatment. Despite the fact that it usually takes the court years to consider cases and complaints, Stavitskaya managed to prove that Gulevich’s health was in great danger, and in several weeks Strasbourg issued the ruling.

Human rights activist compare Natalia Gulevich to Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and real estate agency buisneswoman Vera Trifonova who also were accused of white-collar crimes and died in pretrial detention centers after not receiving adequate medical treatment.


New Program to Fight Respiratory Diseases

New Program to Fight Respiratory Diseases

Published: November 23, 2011 (Issue # 1684)

A new Belgian-Russian project aimed at training Russian doctors to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obtain reliable statistics on the spread of the illness in Russia was launched in St. Petersburg on Friday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 64 million people around the world suffer from this disease. In Russia, however, reported statistics on the subject have varied wildly. While the country’s Health Ministry reported that 2.4 million people are affected by the illness, some independent surveys suggest the real figures are more than four times that.

Smoking is considered to be the leading factor in causing the illness. Russia, which boasts one of the world’s highest smoking rates, with more than 60 percent of Russian men and 21 percent of women being regular smokers, has millions of people at risk of developing the disease.

Respiratory diseases are one of Russia’s biggest problems. The mortality rate from these illnesses has increased by 105 percent since 2010.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an issue that has to be taken seriously, doctors warn: The illness is the fourth-highest cause of death across the world, according to the WHO.

During the course of the joint project, titled Respect, local family doctors in 10 city state-run clinics will test a total of 5,000 patients aged 35 and older. Younger people won’t be included in the test as the disease typically affects those over 35.

“Most Russians who get diagnosed with chronic obstructive lung disease come to doctors far too late, when they already require hospital treatment,” said Olga Kuznetsova, professor and head of the family medicine department at the Meshnikov Northwest State Medical University.

“The screening, which will be carried out through spirometry, will allow us not only to get a fair idea about the spread of the illness, but also to detect it in its early stages, when a much milder treatment would suffice.”

Having a chronic cough and often being out of breath are two signs to watch out for.

“Unfortunately, chronic coughing is not seen by many people in Russia as a strong enough warning signal,” Kuznetsova said. “People tend to avoid contacting a doctor until they begin to literally fall to pieces. We hope that family doctors involved in this project will be able to convince some of their patients to participate in this testing.”

The tests and treatment will be offered free of charge. The patients will be chosen randomly, through the medical insurance database. Private clinics will not take part in the project.

The partner schools in the project are the Northern State Medical University in Arkhangelsk and the Belgian universities UCL and KUL in Leven, as well as the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical holding. 

According to Jan Degryse, a professor with UCL and KUL universities, a similar research project carried out in Belgium several years ago was instrumental in making progress with the illness.

Russian doctors admit that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is also often misdiagnosed here. Part of the problem is outdated medical equipment, but lack of relevant experience in doctors is also an issue.

“As part of our project we have developed a special online course for those unable to attend courses in person. The course will provide modern and adequate training for doctors who will be diagnosing the disease,” Kuznetsova said.

Russian military has ‘no one left to draft’

Russia has no conscript-age young men left to recruit, Russia’s chief of the General Staff complained on Thursday.

The current conscript service crisis in the Russian Armed Forces is mainly due to demographic decline, bullying and brutal treatment of conscripts.

General Nikolai Makarov said only 11.7% of young men aged 18-27 were eligible for the army service but 60% of them had health problems and could not be drafted under law.

“We now have a situation when there is virtually nobody left to draft,” Makarov said. “It is a serious problem and I make no bones about it.”

Many young people have been known to fake medical documents or even start a family in order to avoid the 12-month compulsory service in the army.

The crisis in the consript service has led the Defense Ministry to halve the number of conscripts in the autumn 2011 draft period. It will now recruit 135,850 young men instead of 250-300,000, as was planned in spring, the web portal said.

The effect of the 1990s demographic crisis is expected to reach its peak in 2014, experts said.


Russian Opposition Activist Released After Hunger Strike

MOSCOW — A Russian opposition activist who went on hunger strike after being sentenced to 10 days’ administrative detention was released early on October 20 after his health deteriorated, RFE/RL’s Russian Service reports.

Sergei Udaltsov, a coordinator for the opposition movement Left Front, was sentenced on October 13 after being found guilty of resisting police.

He told RFE/RL after the verdict was pronounced that he considered it unjust and would therefore start a “dry hunger strike,” meaning he would not eat or drink.

Udaltsov’s health deteriorated this week and he was taken to a Moscow hospital for treatment. Doctors then released him to recuperate at home.

Udaltsov told RFE/RL he felt normal and his health had “stabilized” after the hospital treatment. He said he was very surprised to have been released three days early.

Udaltsov was one of the organizers of the opposition Day of Wrath protest in Moscow on October 12.

He was arrested that day after he and other Day of Wrath participants tried to march to the president’s office to submit their written demands to the presidential chief of staff.

The Moscow authorities gave permission for the Day of Wrath, but only as a gathering, not as a march, which is why police intervened and arrested several activists.

Read more in Russian here

Steve Jobs might have killed himself

An apple a day could have kept the doctor away for Steve Jobs. That’s what a Harvard Medical School cancer researcher says in a new report that suggests the tech wizard’s knack for unconventional treatment could have caused his death.

In a new report published in the Silicon Valley journal Quora, Dr Ramzi Amri writes that former Apple Computers CEO and founder Steve Jobs could have contributed to his own passing by forgoing conventional medical treatments in lieu of the alternative remedies he largely sought out instead.

“Let me cut to the chase: Mr. Jobs allegedly chose to undergo all sorts of alternative treatment options before opting for conventional medicine,” Amri writes in his article published this week to Quora. “Given the circumstances, it seems sound to assume that Mr. Jobs’ choice for alternative medicine has eventually led to an unnecessarily early death.”

After revealing his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in October 2003, it was reported that Jobs was attempting to treat the disease by undergoing a special diet. Fortune magazine reported on it at the time that Jobs only consumed certain foods for nine months in an attempt to stop the cancer in its tracks. Staffers at San Francisco’s Greens vegetarian restaurant told the Cult of Mac website that Jobs often hit up their Silicon Valley eatery with his physician, Dr. Dean Ornish.

“Steve Jobs was always in there with his doctor,” said one.”He was treating his cancer.”

While Jobs was known to practice a strict pescatarian diet during his own treatment, one source at the restaurant added that Jobs also insisted that his meals be cooked without any pans.

“He was assertive, but not an asshole,” the staffer said.

“It’s safe to say he was hoping to find a solution that would avoid surgery,” one source person familiar with Jobs’ cancer bout told CNN back in 2008. “I don’t know if he truly believed that was possible. The odd thing is, for us what seemed like an alternative type of thing, for him is normal. It’s not out of the ordinary for Steve.”

Added another person close to the matter: “There was genuine concern on the part of several board members that he may not have been doing the best thing for his health. But Steve is Steve. He can be pretty stubborn.”

Dr. Roderich Schwarz, chairman of surgical oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, told CNN then that that stubbornness occurs every now and then in his patients. “If they believe an herbal diet can do miracles, they have to make the decision. Every once in a while you have somebody who decides something you wish they wouldn’t,” he said.

Jobs continued his alternative treatment for months before eventually reaching out to traditional practices, including the surgery that could have aided in prolonging his life, which some say now came too little too late.

“Surgery is the only treatment modality that can result in cure,” Dr. Jeffrey Norton, chief of surgical oncology at Stanford and pancreatic cancer expert, wrote in a 2006 journal article.

Dr. Amri adds in his recent piece, “In many cases, a simple enucleation (just cutting out the tumor with a safe margin around it) is enough and leaves no residual side-effects.” Unfortunately, he says that Jobs’ hesitance to go under the knife could have cost him his life.

Amri also writes that in his own research, the survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients that underwent appropriate surgical procedures were as high as 100 percent.

Afghan civilians: wrong place, wrong time

The Afghan war is now into its second decade, but its original aims – to crush Al-Qaeda and bring the Taliban to its knees – are no closer to completion amid an escalating nationwide insurgency.

­This year is already shaping up to be the deadliest in the conflict, not only for coalition troops, but for Afghan civilians as well.

Every day on Afghanistan’s southern battlefront brings more casualties.

Despite official claims that the war is being won, 2011 is lining up to be the deadliest yet for US forces fighting to tame the decade-long Taliban insurgency.

But thanks to improved medical capabilities, casualties who would have perished in previous conflicts are surviving. And it is not gunshots that are causing most of the damage – roadside bombs armed to assault patrols and convoys of the allied forces cause a great deal of concussions and fragment wounds among the servicemen.

The trauma ward at Kandahar Airfield is one of the busiest in Afghanistan and when the engagement occurs, the wounded are brought to the place by helicopter Medevac in the shortest time possible.

When the injuries are bad, but not extreme, the wounded will most-likely stay on base until they have recovered. More severe cases – such as amputees – are flown to Germany for treatment.

The Kandahar trauma facility was built to save critically-injured American troops, fresh from the front lines. But doctors here also treat Afghan civilians caught in the war’s crossfire, who have nowhere else to go for help.

Nine-year-old Wali was shot in the head by a stray bullet earlier this year, when US Marines got into a firefight with the Taliban in his village in Helmand province.

The bullet shattered part of his skull, and would have killed him if not for emergency surgery.

In six months, Dr Min Park says he has treated more than a fair share of Afghan bystanders, mostly gunshot and bomb blast victims.

In this follow-up operation, he and his team are reconstructing the boy’s forehead with a titanium mesh that will restore Wali’s appearance.

“It’s always harder to work on kids. You think, ‘What do they have to do with anything that’s going on here?’ It’s also gratifying when you can make a difference,” Dr Min Park says.

In the recovery ward, Wali’s father, Muhammad, says that while he is sure it was a US Marine bullet that hit his son, he is grateful for the first-class treatment he has received.

“I’m just happy that he is OK. The shooting was a mistake, and so it is forgiven,” Muhammad acknowledges.

Accident or not, the enduring insurgency suggests that no amount of goodwill can compensate for civilian casualties that continue to climb each month, in a war that grinds on.

Aleksanyan was pressured to testify against Yukos

Investigators offered former Yukos oil company Executive Vice President Vasily Aleksanyan medical treatment in exchange for testimony against his bosses, ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky said on Thursday.

Aleksanyan, 39, died in Moscow on Monday of AIDS-caused complications. He was arrested in 2006 on charges of money-laundering, tax evasion and embezzlement as part of the Yukos case, and spent over two years in jail despite having been diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis.

“He [Aleksanyan] was offered a bargain: Testify against Yukos bosses and we will release you for medical treatment. You know you need it!” Khodorkovsky said in a commentary published by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

According to the former Yukos head, Aleksanyan refused to accept the deal and “during that two years in jail his illness progressed to the final stages.”

Aleksanyan was transferred from the infamous Matrosskaya Tishina prison to a cancer treatment clinic in February 2008 after his heath deteriorated and he went nearly blind. His guilt has never been proven and his criminal case was closed in 2010.

“Only when it was too late and under pressure from human rights activists, Vasya [Aleksanyan] was transferred to a hospital where he – a patient who received chemotherapy from cancer – was kept handcuffed to a bed,” Khodorkovsky said.

Legal proceedings launched against the now defunct oil company Yukos in 2003, seen by some critics as politically motivated, resulted in the conviction of many executives and shareholders, including founder and CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on tax evasion charges and sentenced to eight years in 2005. His sentence was extended in a second trial on separate charges earlier this year and he is now due for release in 2016.

Lawyers for Yukos, which once pumped out more oil than both Libya and Qatar, had said that the company was hounded out of business after its owner Khodorkovsky – then Russia’s richest man – began funding the Russian opposition. The Kremlin has consistently denied the allegation.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in September 2011 that the Russian authorities had violated the Yukos’ rights , but rejected claims that the breakup of the oil giant was politically motivated.

Yukos Vice President Aleksanyan Dies

Yukos Vice President Aleksanyan Dies

Published: October 5, 2011 (Issue # 1677)

Former Yukos vice president Vasily Aleksanyan, who fought a protracted legal battle with the authorities before finally being freed on bail in 2009 to seek treatment for AIDS-related illnesses, died Monday, Dozhd television reported late Monday, citing his family. He was 39.

Aleksanyan “lived as if on a volcano” during his final years, said Yury Shmidt, a lawyer for former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

“I was talking with a friend of Aleksanyan’s three days ago. He told me that Vasily feels absolutely fine — he can eat, he can drink,” Shmidt told Izvestia. “But he lived all the time in such a state that if the slightest infection occurs, he could die in a second.”

Human rights veteran Lev Ponomarev said Aleksanyan would have lived longer if the authorities had not kept him in prison for nearly three years on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion.

“Aleksanyan’s death, no doubt, was hastened by the fact that he was kept in prison for a long time while he was seriously sick. He went blind in prison,” Ponomarev said, Interfax reported. “We have cruel system. And people are cruel, not only the system.”

He reiterated the belief of many supporters of Aleksanyan and his former boss, Khodorkovsky, that the case against Aleksanyan amounted to Kremlin punishment for Khodorkovsky’s political and commercial ambitions.

Aleksanyan, who long served as Yukos’ top lawyer, quit the company after Khodorkovsky’s arrest in 2003 but returned in March 2006 as an executive vice president to work with Yukos’ court-appointed bankruptcy manager, Eduard Rebgun. A month later, he was arrested.

A few months after his detention, Aleksanyan learned he was HIV-positive. He also began to lose eyesight in his one good eye. The other eye had been blind since a childhood accident.

Aleksanyan and his lawyers said the authorities used his illness as a bargaining chip, threatening to withhold treatment unless he agreed to testify against Khodorkovsky and his jailed business partner Platon Lebedev.

Aleksanyan’s AIDS only became public knowledge in early 2008 after Prosecutor Vladimir Khomutovsky controversially revealed it during a Supreme Court hearing.

International pressure grew throughout the year to release Aleksanyan on bail for health reasons. In addition to full-blown AIDS and fading eyesight, he suffered from liver cancer, lymphoma and tuberculosis.

In December 2008, the Moscow City Court ordered his release on bail of 50 million rubles. He posted the money and was freed in January 2009.

The case against him was dropped only last year as the statute of limitations ran out.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

Italian granny’s halibut tweaked for Russian table

Italian granny’s halibut tweaked for Russian table

Published: 21 September, 2011, 22:09


embed video

Prime Recipe,
Prime Time Russia,
Martyn Andrews,
Neil Harvey

RT’s guest chef is giving the humble halibut the true Mediterranean treatment.

Today: 22:00

Eco-activists win fight against Moscow authorities

Moscow is re-thinking its environmental policy after it was slammed by ecologists.

WHO declares tuberculosis alert

The World Health Organization is warning of a high risk of tuberculosis in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The disease is immune to drug treatment and spreads fast. Health authorities say thousands of people may be affected if governments do not take appropriate action.

Unfortunately, Russia finds itself in the high-risk group alongside Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

In Western Europe, the highest reported incidence of the disease is in London.