Tag Archives: Russians

F.B.I. Director James Comey Is Fired by Trump

President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for a special counsel to lead the Russia inquiry.

Continue reading F.B.I. Director James Comey Is Fired by Trump

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A new report says Russia is intensifying its spy game in Eastern Europe

From the northern tip of the Baltics to the southern edge of the Balkans, Russia is stepping up spying on its neighbors, according to numerous reports from the region.

The most recent notice of such activity comes from Estonia, whose intelligence service’s annual report says the “Baltic Sea area is especially vulnerable to threats from Russia.”

According to Estonia’s national intelligence service, Russia, acting through its military intelligence agency, the GRU, and its Federal Security Service, or FSB, has taken a special interest in the foreign and security policies, defense planning, armed forces, arms development, and military capabilities of its neighbors.

Continue reading A new report says Russia is intensifying its spy game in Eastern Europe

Goa: Russians taking over local tourism trade

MORJIM, India – Russians are present in almost all businesses related to tourism in the northern beaches of Goa such as Morjim, Mandrem, Ashvem and Arambol.

First, they paid as tourists; slowly, they captured the businesses, killed the competition and now monopolize the economy in the beach stretches of Morjim, Mandrem, Ashvem and Arambol.

One can find them in all businesses; be it providing SIM cards or DJs or designing flyers and advertisements, taxi arrangements, arranging night parties, dancers, hosting shows, lighting and fireworks, running hotels or shacks or restaurants. Most are illegal though.

“First, they came as guests and paid the normal payments for the goods and services they utilized. It was around 8-10 years ago, when the Israelis were dominating the drug business and were a majority among the tourists in Arambol,” said a local, requesting anonymity.

It was in Morjim (the quiet village with agriculture and fishing as main activities), where Russians slowly realized that they could dominate if they poured in some rubles and made the village their second home away from home.

“Russians started hiring houses to stay in. They started giving business to the shops. The face of Morjim village slowly started changing. Locals started welcoming Russians as they were able to see currency moving in and out of their hands.

 

Russians became partners in local businesses like shacks, hotels, restaurants. The advantage for locals was that they were getting more business as they (Russians) use their contacts to attract business,” said a local villager.

“They came as visitors, then they realized ‘Why be a guest and pay when there can be earnings, while also being a tourist?’ They understood the business, ventured into businesses and are now ruling business. The situation is almost that of a monopoly,” said a villager.

Russians first started living in houses and locals started to welcome them, especially in Morjim, as the village’s economy was very weak then. “Russians started taking houses on rent and letting them out to their Russian friends. They book houses prior to the beginning of the season and then rent them,” explained a local.

The Russians next ventured into the restaurant and hotel business in partnership with locals. “The Russian funds the business which is registered in the name of a local. The advantage, here, is that Russian tourists are directly diverted to these shacks, restaurants or hotels because of the Russian connection.

Then, they also started the tourist taxi business and tours, operating through direct online contacts with Russian tourists.

Currently, the situation is like this: Russians are there in every business and the locals can feel their dominance. But, if they say that Russians are not wanted in the business, who will give them business?

 

For instance, a late loud music party is organized. Though illegal, it is the order of the day during tourist season in Morjim and Ashvem.

Now, if there are no Russian DJs, there will be no crowd. No crowd means loss for the organizers and the local taxi businessman and for the locals who do some odd jobs at the party venues,” the local elaborated.

Presently, more Russians come to Morjim because it resembles a mini-Moscow; with the Russian people and environment (menus, music, people, language, and lifestyle) and the business cycle continues. In Morjim and Ashvem, the Russian New Year parties are much bigger than the ones held on December 31.

If there is no Russian partner in any tourist-related business in Morjim, Mandrem, Ashvem and Arambol, the entrepreneur is at a loss as majority of the tourists in this stretch are Russians and you require Russians to attract them.

The Kremlin Kids love the West

The rulers in Moscow demonize the West because of moral decay and loss of culture. But exactly where they let their sons and daughters to train and live. President Putin is the best example.

Vladimir Putin may have many bills with the West. Remains the collapse of the Soviet Union the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” for the former KGB officer. The Western democracy model considers the Kremlin rulers as a threat to his authoritarian leadership style. Reject all does not, however, want the West Russian power elite.

Especially not when it comes to their own children. Neither in Russia nor in Phantom Empire Noworossija (“New Russia”) would like Putin and his confidants send their kids to school, but in the West. Ie where Putin assumed a value decomposition, where supposedly moral decay and perish national cultures.

Putin saw the end of the Soviet Union with his family in Dresden – as a KGB agent. After returning to his hometown of St. Petersburg’s two daughters Putin visited the German-speaking elite high school Peter School.

When his father moved to Moscow to become intelligence chief, his daughters were also in the Russian capital in a German school. The elder daughter Maria Putina now lives with her Dutch boyfriend in a luxury penthouse near The Hague.

Three daughters of the elite school in Switzerland

After the launch of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 called for the expulsion of the Dutch angry 29-year-olds. Most of the victims of the tragedy in eastern Ukraine were Dutch.

Putin’s younger daughter Ekaterina should have a permanent residence in Munich. She is married to a Korean. Meanwhile, her father repeatedly complained that the “differences between nations and cultures washed out” are.

According to the Russian website “Open Town” there is virtually no family under the Kremlin rulers that can not be educating their children in the West. Accordingly, visited three daughters of the Vice President of Parliament Sergei Schelesnjak an elite school in Switzerland.

The cost per school year were about 50,000 francs. Schelesnjak to earn the equivalent of 71,000 francs a year, according to his tax return. Two daughters of high-ranking politician apparently now live in London.

What upset me the teachings of his father?

Also the sons of the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak see their future rather in the West. Alexei, that’s the name of the elder son, is according to the “Open Town” known as Contractors in Russia and as a partner of international companies. His younger brother worked at Credit Suisse.

Against Dmitry Kozak, the EU imposed a travel ban shortly after the annexation of Crimea in the spring. The Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov daughter studied in the United States when her father was ambassador to the UN in New York. It is unclear whether she has since returned to Moscow.

The most vocal critics of the West heard in Moscow Putin adviser and head of the Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin. He says the West is a “vulgar ethno-fascism” back into fashion.

Yakunin vehemently defended the crackdown by the Russian authorities against homosexuals and finds it outrageous that the Austrian travesty artist Conchita Wurst was chosen as the winner of the Euro Vision Song Contest.

“The ancient definition of democracy had nothing to do with bearded ladies, but democracy is the rule of the people,” grumbled Yakunin.

His children and grandchildren seem to think nothing of such teachings: A son to work as a real estate agent in Switzerland, the other had long lived in London and now work as an investor, a British company, announces “Open Town”. Jakunins grandchildren study therefore in “elite education” in England and Switzerland.

Every five Russians want to emigrate

The Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Russian President, Pavel Astakhov has 2013 banning the adoption of Russian orphans to the US prevailed after cases of abuse had become known. For Astakhov and other Russian politicians of the so-called adoption scandal was a welcome opportunity for a cheap anti-Western polemics.

But so dangerous, the West seems also not to be Astakhov: His older son studied in New York and Oxford, a child was born in a villa in Cannes to the world. It is not only Putin’s closest confidant who let their young family members benefit from the Western education system. Many parliamentarians of the Kremlin United Russia party pay large sums to accommodate their children in western elite schools.

And the children of powerful politicians who are studying in Russia, want to get away one day. The son of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he wanted to attend a further education after graduation – in the United States.

A study conducted by the renowned Levada Center poll found that one in five Russians to emigrate. Among students, it is even half. In contrast, Putin struggles with Forbidden: Ministers and senior officials may not have accounts abroad.

The parliamentarian Vladimir Pechtin must have mandate to return after it became known that he had property worth two million dollars in US sunshine state of Florida. Pechtin was chairman of the ethics committee in the State Duma. (Tages-Anzeiger)

Ukrainian Bessarabia – Towards the unknown region

A little-known place that interests both Ukraine and Russia

The isolated region of Ukrainian Bessarabia, which is also known as Budjak, has become one of the latest places for Ukraine-watchers to worry about. Many of the inhabitants fear a spread of the war from eastern Ukraine. Geography gives their region great strategic importance, especially if the Russians were ever tempted to try to carve a land corridor across to Crimea, Odessa and the Romanian border.

Ukrainian Bessarabia is bounded by the Black Sea, the Danube and Moldova. The Russian-controlled breakaway region of Transdniestria is to the north. There are no roads, bridges or ferries across the Danube to Romania and only two roads connect the region to the rest of Ukraine. If the bridges over the Dniester were blown up, it would be cut off.

Fewer than half of the region’s 570,000 people are Ukrainian. The rest are Bulgarians, Russians, Moldovans, Gagauz or Albanians. Many have a benign view of Russia, which gave their ancestors land and freedom 200 years ago. Almost everyone speaks Russian and many complain that Ukraine has done little for them. Ivan Rusev, a local ecologist, tracks illegal buildings in the Dniester Delta National Park. This was a problem before Ukraine’s 2014 revolution, he says, but it is worse now.

The result is a contradiction. For pro-Ukrainians such as Mr Rusev, too many fellow Bessarabians hope vaguely that “Putin will solve all their problems.” Few have any faith in the government in Kiev. Yet according to Anton Kisse, a local politician, at the same time as many feel sympathy for Russia, they also favour Ukraine’s unity. Sergey Dibrov, a journalist in Odessa, believes that, given the region’s ethnic make-up, any declaration of independence would see the region splinter into bits.

In the autumn there were rumours of plots to proclaim a pro-Russian Bessarabian People’s Republic, along the lines of the separatist republics in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Possible leaders included former Soviet army officers living in Bolgrad, which is mostly ethnic Bulgarian. Yet war in the east has dampened enthusiasm for separatism. A tragedy last May which saw dozens of pro-Russian activists killed in a fire in Odessa has also chilled any desire for revolt against Kiev. Pro-Russian leaders have fled and opportunistic politicians have shifted towards supporting the unity of Ukraine.

The question is what Russia wants. State power has changed hands nine times in Bessarabia in just over 200 years. Locals report seeing drones, some perhaps from Transdniestria and some that may have come from ships of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in Sebastopol. Even so, Ukraine’s flag looks likely to fly over Bessarabia for some time to come.

US Coast Guard chief: We are ‘not even in the same league as Russia’ in the Arctic

Russian President Vladimir Putin and defense minister Sergey Ivanov visiting military exercises in Russia’s Arctic North on board the nuclear-missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky in 2005.

The US is lagging far behind other nations, especially Russia, when it comes to planning for the Arctic region as ice melts.

“We’re not even in the same league as Russia right now,” Newsweek quotes Coast Guard Commandant Paul F. Zukunft as saying. “We’re not playing in this game at all.”

The Arctic is stocked with valuable oil, gas, mineral, and fishery reserves. The US estimates that a significant proportion of the planet’s untapped resources — including about 15% of the world’s remaining oil, up to 30% of its natural-gas deposits, and about 20% of its liquefied natural gas — is stored in the regions seabed.

The US has only two heavy diesel icebreakers and one medium icebreaker, among the main measures of Arctic capability. While not a direct military tool, these vessels play a multifaceted role in any nation’s Arctic strategy.

The vessels allow a range of other merchant, survey, and military vessels to ply through the Arctic ice safely and in a year-round manner.

In comparison, Russia has six nuclear-powered icebreakers already in service. The Russians also have at least a dozen other diesel icebreakers in service. In 2017, Moscow is expecting the delivery of another new nuclear-powered vessel.

Polar Start icebreaker

Of the US’ two heavy icebreakers, only one, the Polar Star, is in functional condition, according to NPR. Its sister vessel, the Polar Sea, has been languishing at port for years after a major breakdown.

The Coast Guard also has a medium icebreaker, the USCG Healy, but the service branch is petitioning to acquire more assets for its fleet.

“The Polar Sea had a major engine breakdown in 2010, had to be towed into its home port of Seattle, and it’s basically been … just rusting in the docks in Seattle,” Shiva Polefka, of the Center for American Progress, told NPR.

This forces the US to rely upon a single heavy icebreaker in the Arctic as the region takes on unprecedented levels of economic and geopolitical significance. The US also deploys its icebreakers to the Antarctic, placing strain on its current fleet.

arctic ice northwest passage map

Shipping throughout the Arctic will also become critically important. A proposed Russian Northern Sea Route could eventually rival the Suez Canal in economic importance.

The route would connect shipping from Europe to Asia in 35 days, as opposed to the 48-day journey via the Suez Canal.

Without the needed investment, the US will most likely continue to trail Russia as the Arctic becomes a pivotal geopolitical region.

In addition the disparity in icebreaker strength, Moscow has undertaken a construction blitz across the Arctic to establish military superiority in the region. Russia is constructing 10 Arctic search-and-rescue stations, 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and 10 air-defense radar stations across its Arctic coast.

Russia Militarization Arctic

Simultaneously, Moscow has created Joint Strategic Command North (JSCN) from components of the Northern Fleet in order to maintain a permanent military presence in the region. This command will most likely become a fifth Russian military district.

Now Russia and Ukraine are at war over the ownership of St Vladimir the Great

A millennium ago, grand prince Vladimir of Kiev cast a civilisational fault line across Eastern Europe – one that divided the states of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine from the rest of the continent.

Vladimir’s decision to ditch a pantheon of bloodthirsty pagan gods for eastern Christian Orthodoxy was meant to unite the peoples of Kievan Rus, a territory along the waterways between the Baltic and Black seas.

But on the 1,000th anniversary of the death of Vladimir the Great – later to become Saint Vladimir – two of Kievan Rus’ successor nations, Russia and Ukraine, appear to be tussling over his legacy.

Announcing a national programme of festivities around the 15 July anniversary, Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian President, called Vladimir the founder of the “European state of Rus-Ukraine”.

Many in Russia, whose government is also celebrating the jubilee, were incredulous:

“It’s hard to call that an opinion. It’s easy to call it a fantasy,” said Andrei Nazarov, director of the state-backed Russian Military-Historical Society.

Mr Nazarov and many Russian politicians claim Vladimir as a symbol of Russia.

“Thanks to him, Russia became what she is – a mighty state with a strong, Orthodox Christian base,” Mr Nazarov said.

The tug-of-war over Vladimir mirrors a struggle between Moscow and Kiev that heightened last year with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent separatist war in eastern Ukraine.

The conflict highlighted Ukrainian efforts to carve out a historical identity separate from Russia’s, and Moscow’s efforts to stop it flying the Russian coop.

Historians and church figures have stressed that Vladimir is common property and defies nationalisation by any one country.

But according to some, the past is being weaponised:

“We are seeing that archives can also shoot,” said historian Oleg Ulyanov.

A planned 24m statue in Moscow of Vladimir bearing a sword and holding aloft a cross has become a symbol of Russia’s anniversary celebrations. Standing atop one of the city’s few hills, the monument would dominate Moscow’s skyline.

Not everyone thinks the statue is innocuous. Its purpose is to enthrone Moscow as “the mother of Russian cities,” author and poet Dmitry Bykov wrote in a blog post for radio station Ekho Moskvy.

That status has long belonged to Kiev. It was Kiev that Vladimir, then still a full-blooded pagan with a well-stocked harem, reconquered from his brother, Yaropolk, after fighting his way back from exile around 980, according to the histories.

Vladimir in Kiev drove his people into the Dnieper river for a mass baptism. A monument to the prince has overlooked the river since 1853.

Though Kievan Rus controlled the territory around Moscow during Vladimir’s reign, the city had not yet appeared on the historical record.

Vladimir’s association with Russia is doubly helpful for Vladimir Putin – the prince accepted Christianity in the Crimean city of Khersones, adding sheen to Mr Putin’s already popular seizure of the peninsula last year.

Yet ultimately Vladimir, and the common Christian cultural heritage to which he laid the foundation, is a uniting force for Russia and Ukraine that will outlast the current political crisis, says Andrei Zubov, a historian and philosophy professor at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations.

“We’re talking about two very close peoples that want to be culturally – not politically, but culturally – together,” he said.

But stressing unity may not be risk-free.

“The thesis that we are all one people and brother folk may sound peace-loving but it is one of the key reasons for the current war,” said Vladimir Vyatrovich, head of the Ukrainian National Memory Institute.

“The idea that we are one nation with the Russians provides a basis for lots of Russian politicians to sound off about Ukraine’s past and future. Relations between our countries will only normalise when we will respect one another’s desire to be independent and independently assess our own past and future.”

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