Tag Archives: St. Petersburg

Trump Putin call: CIA ‘helped stop Russia terror attack’

Information provided by the CIA helped Russian security services foil an attack on St Petersburg’s Kazan cathedral, the Kremlin says.

The attack was allegedly planned to take place on Saturday, officials say.

In a phone call, President Vladimir Putin thanked Donald Trump for the CIA’s intervention, the Kremlin said.

Mr Putin told Mr Trump that Russia’s special services would hand over information on terror threats to their US counterparts, it added.

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Sechin’s No-Shows At Big Trial Provide New Twist In Russia’s Power Game

MOSCOW — There was a sense of inevitability as Igor Sechin, the powerful CEO of Russia’s sprawling state oil giant and a trusted lieutenant of President Vladimir Putin, failed to turn up in court this week — not once, but twice.

The 57-year-old St. Petersburg native had been summoned to testify as a witness in the landmark corruption trial of the first serving minister to be arrested since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

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St Petersburg metro explosions: At least 10 dead and 20 injured reported after blast on subway in Russia

Two explosions on a train in a metro station in St Petersburg have injured several people, local media reports.

At least 10 people were injured, the RIA news agency reports, while Interfax reported there appear to have been two explosions.

Continue reading St Petersburg metro explosions: At least 10 dead and 20 injured reported after blast on subway in Russia

Russia opposition leader Navalny jailed

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been jailed for 15 days for resisting police orders during mass protests on Sunday.

Mr Navalny was one of at least 500 people who were detained after the protests.

The court in Moscow earlier fined him the minimum 20,000 roubles ($350) for organising the banned protests.

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Putin’s Cronies Helped Russian Mafia In Spain, Prosecutors Say: Report

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the Civic Chamber at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on June 23, 2015.

One of Russia’s largest mafias operated out of Spain for more than a decade with help from some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cronies, prosecutors in Madrid said.

A 488-page complaint to the Central Court obtained by Bloomberg News alleged direct links between Moscow officials and the St. Petersburg-based crime organization Tambrov, which allegedly moved into Spain in 1996 to launder profits from its criminal activities.

Continue reading Putin’s Cronies Helped Russian Mafia In Spain, Prosecutors Say: Report

Russia getting on with World Cup job as FIFA fights scandal

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — As he shared the stage with FIFA’s departing president Sepp Blatter, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message was simple. FIFA may be in chaos, but Russia is getting on with the job.

“I’d like to emphasize again that all the plans to prepare for the World Cup will be fulfilled,” Putin said, standing alongside the embattled Blatter at Saturday’s preliminary draw for the 2018 tournament. “Hosting it is one of our key tasks.”

Against the backdrop of Swiss authorities investigating how the 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia, the draw was held in St. Petersburg, both Putin’s home town and the site of the most troubled of all the 12 World Cup stadiums.

For years, the construction of St. Petersburg’s 68,000-seat arena — due to host a semifinal in 2018 — was a costly, repeatedly delayed symbol of Russian state inefficiency, so bad that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev publicly said it looked “disgraceful.”

Finally, almost a decade after construction began, it is close to completion. Estimated at 75 percent ready by project chief Vitaly Lazutkin, much of the remaining work is focused on installing seats and finishing off complex systems such as the retractable roof and movable pitch.

The final stages of the St. Petersburg build coincide with optimism that the 2018 World Cup, while beset by controversies over corruption allegations and racism by fans, will at least avoid the construction chaos that marred preparations for last year’s tournament in Brazil.

FIFA's President Blatter addresses next to Russia's President Putin during the preliminary draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg

It’s a “relaxing situation,” FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, who expects to leave office in February along with his longtime boss Blatter, told journalists Friday.

“Russia is really way on track and I have no concern. The next FIFA secretary general should be happy with the work that I give him because he will have a very organized World Cup.”

Russia getting on with World Cup job as FIFA fights scandal

The Petersburg stadium, provisionally titled the Zenit Arena, is set to cost 38 billion rubles ($650 million). Until the ruble dropped sharply in value last year against the backdrop of international sanctions and a low oil price, the same ruble budget was worth over $1 billion, which ranked it among the most expensive football stadiums in history.

Originally planned as a 45,000-seat arena by Zenit St. Petersburg’s owner — the Russian state-controlled company Gazprom — Russia’s successful bid to host the World Cup brought problems. Hosting a semifinal required an increase in capacity to 68,000, sending the partially-built project back to the drawing board.

FIFA, Blatter get back to World Cup business at Putin home

“The main problem that delayed the construction was that the stadium was redesigned three times,” project director Lazutkin said Monday. “That required quite a long time for redesign work and also for rebuilding the stadium.”

Since a Soviet-era stadium on the site was demolished in 2006, the Zenit Arena project has seen not only cost rises, but fraud investigations into subcontractors, the death of Japanese architect Kurio Kurosawa and political disputes.

MOS07. St.petersburg (Russian Federation), 25/07/2015.- Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and FIFA President Joseph Blatter (R) attend the Preliminary Draw of the FIFA World Cup 2018 at Konstantinovsky palace outside St.Petersburg, Russia, 25 July 2015. St.Petersburg is one of the host cities of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia which will take place from 14 June until 15 July 2018. (Rusia) EFE/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Now the stadium’s roof has been fitted and work is under way to put in the seats, Lazutkin says the first games could be held in little more than a year’s time.

Calling the stadium “disgraceful” is no longer possible, he insists, adding: “Mr Medvedev said that earlier. Now he has a different opinion, as far as I know.”

One of Russia’s 12 World Cup arenas is raising concerns, however. Construction is fully under way at every stadium but the one in the western exclave of Kaliningrad, near the Polish border.

The Latest: Conte says facing Spain 'very stimulating'

That stadium was caught in a political tug-of-war between the regional and federal governments over its location. By the time the regional authorities’ costlier plan to put the stadium on an island prevailed, precious time had been lost.

The stadium’s design has only been signed off by a federal architecture watchdog in recent days, allowing work to begin. Worries over the stadium lying empty after the tournament also led to a cut in capacity by 10,000 seats to 35,000. Organizers say the reduced size will allow construction workers to make up for lost time.

“We have absolutely no doubts that the stadium will be ready on time and that everything will be up and running there soon,” organizing committee CEO Alexei Sorokin said Monday.

With less than three years to go until the tournament, Russian government revenues have contracted sharply under pressure from the low oil price, meaning that organizers are keen to save money.

A fall in the value of the ruble has meant organizers are swapping costlier imported materials and equipment for cheaper local alternatives, while many hotels and some infrastructure projects have been cut from Russia’s plans, reducing the total budget to 631.5 billion rubles ($10.8 billion).

The reason for removing the hotels, organizers say, was fears that luxury establishments could end up lying empty after the World Cup.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Friday that one of Russia’s main problems is that organizers don’t always know who to talk to at a rapidly-changing FIFA. At a time when officials are in custody and Blatter due to leave, Mutko said communication is “somewhat thwarted.”

Vladimir Putin Returns After Absence and Dismisses Rumors

President Vladimir V. Putin met with the president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, in St. Petersburg on Monday.

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin reappeared in public on Monday after a curious absence of more than a week, appearing healthy, offering no explanation and commenting wryly that things “would be boring without rumors.”

Rossiya 24, a state television station, showed Mr. Putin with the president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, at a palace in St. Petersburg. The two discussed Kyrgyzstan’s planned accession to a Russian-backed regional trade group.

The meeting reportedly began more than an hour late, prolonging concerns about Mr. Putin’s whereabouts, a subject that has obsessed Moscow and Russia for days.

Until Monday, the last confirmed public sighting of the Russian president had been at a meeting with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy on March 5. Mr. Putin abruptly canceled a trip to Kazakhstan and postponed a treaty signing with representatives from South Ossetia, who were reportedly told not to bother flying to Moscow.

Further stirring unease here, the Russian leader was absent from an annual meeting of top officials from the F.S.B., Russia’s domestic intelligence service.

The rumor mill churned, and among the possible explanations were that Mr. Putin had fallen ill with a virulent strain of the flu, that he had surreptitiously flown to Switzerland for the birth of his love child, that he had had a stroke and that he had been ousted in a coup.

Dmitry S. Peskov, the president’s spokesman, brushed off the health questions, saying that Mr. Putin’s handshake was so firm it was bone crushing, and that the president had been busy working.

Though Mr. Putin was mostly filmed sitting down, Mr. Atambayev volunteered to members of the news media in St. Petersburg that he and Mr. Putin had toured the palace grounds and that the Russian leader was by all appearances in good health.

“With your permission, Vladimir Vladimirovich, I would like to add something here,” Mr. Atambayev said, addressing the Russian leader before the news media. “Just now, Vladimir Vladimirovich drove me around the grounds, he was sitting behind the wheel himself. This was to dispel the rumors. I often hear different rumors about myself, this isn’t right. That is, the president of Russia not only walks, he races around, he gives guests rides.”

Mr. Putin’s departure from the public eye captivated Moscow’s political class, already uneasy from the war simmering in neighboring Ukraine and from the killing of the opposition leader Boris Y. Nemtsov on Feb. 27.

Before reappearing in St. Petersburg, on Monday morning Mr. Putin ordered a military exercise in western and northern Russia that put the Northern Fleet, the Western Military District and some airborne forces on full combat readiness, the Tass news agency reported. The exercise will test the readiness of 38,000 soldiers, 56 ships and submarines, and 110 planes and helicopters to defend Russia’s Arctic borders, Tass said.