Events in Russia


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March in Honor of Historic November 7, 1941 Military Parade in Moscow (VIDEO)

The 1941 October Revolution Parade of November 7, 1941 honored the anniversary of Lenin's 1917 uprising against Russia's provisional government. However, the march itself took on its own significance, as it took place during the Battle of Moscow and presaged the Red Army's ability to turn the tide of the Second World War against the Third Reich.

The march in honor of the anniversary of the historic military parade on November 7, 1941 will begin on Red Square in Moscow at 10.00 a.m.

On this day, about 5,000 people will be marching. Historical reconstructions will remind guests of the events of the war, and of the stamina, dedication and courageous feats of the Soviet soldiers. As the Moscow authorities note, the military parade on November 7, 1941 represented the Soviet Union's first ideological victory over Nazi Germany. Despite the ever-present threat of aerial bombardment by Hitler's Luftwaffe, about 28,500 people participated in the 1941 parade.

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Kremlin, White House discussed possibility of mutual visits by Putin, Trump

The possibility of an exchange of presidential visits between Russia and the United States has been discussed, but there are no concrete agreements on that score for now, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told the media on Wednesday.

He said that when US presidential national security adviser John Bolton paid a visit to Russia, the possibility was discussed of "a whole string of contacts" between the two leaders - in Paris on November 11 and then on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires (November 30-December 1). "Alongside this the possibility was considered of exchanging visits by the US leader to Moscow and the Russian leader to Washington, but no concrete discussion has been held so far," Ushakov said.

Asked when such visits might take place, he replied that US President Donald Trump had repeatedly expressed the wish to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Washington at the beginning of next year."This topic was not discussed in detail, though. The issue of the day is a brief meeting in Paris and a more substantial one in Buenos Aires," Ushakov said.

According to him, following reports about plans for a Paris meeting between the two presidents, France voiced concern that such a meeting would distract public attention from the Paris events marking the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice. "That said, both Washington and Moscow decided to refrain from holding full-fledged talks between the two presidents and arrange such talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires," Ushakov said, adding that while in Paris, Putin and Trump would have only a brief meeting during a working lunch at the Elysee Palace.

"Preparations for a Buenos Aires meeting are underway, we continue consultations with the US, discussing the time and place for the meeting. We will clearly need to hold consultations on the meeting’s agenda as well," the Russian presidential aide added.

Kremlin aide comments on US midterm elections results

The results of the November 6 US midterm elections were rather expected, but it’s difficult to say how they will impact Russian-US relations, Kremlin Aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters on Wednesday.

"It’s evident that for all the election outcome was rather expected," Ushakov said. "It’s difficult to predict any other result given the US political practice: usually during the mid-term elections the House of Representatives is won by the side, which is in the opposition."

"Speaking on the influence of elections on developing Russian-US ties, we should wait and see what will be the impact," he said.

During the midterm elections on November 6, President Donald Trump’s Republican Party increased its majority in the Senate, but ceded control over the House of Representatives to the Democratic opposition.

Russia, US preparing for anti-terror meeting, says diplomat

Moscow and Washington are laying groundwork for a meeting on anti-terror fight at the level of deputies of top Russian and US diplomats, but the date is still being discussed, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said on Wednesday.

"The effort is underway, there is the proposal and we have accepted it. Now it is being discussed. The date and the venue are also being considered," the high-ranking diplomat said. "Just now we are solving the issue of the date," he added.

Speaking on the level of the upcoming dialogue, Syromolotov said he and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan would attend the meeting.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said after the Moscow talks with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev last month that the Russian-US anti-terror meeting would be held in December.

At the July summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his US counterpart Donald Trump to resume the work of a bilateral group on countering terrorism, which operated between 2001 and 2014.

East Asia Summit participants to discuss anti-terrorism cooperation, says senior official

Following the Russian side’s proposal, the participants of the East Asia Summit that will be held in Singapore on November 14-15 will discuss issues of consolidating anti-terrorism cooperation, Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov told journalists.

"The issue of consolidating anti-terrorism cooperation will be discussed in isolation at Russia’s proposal with focus on problems related to foreign terrorist fighters," he said.

In his speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin will announce the plans to speed up the socio-economic development of the Middle East, the presidential aide added. "A proposal will be made for foreign partners to more actively invest in joint projects, and our approach to the consolidation of regional economic integration will be presented, along with assessments of the situation in terms of security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," he noted.

The East Asia Summit will be launched on the evening of November 14. The main events will be held on November 15. First a meeting of leaders at a working lunch will be held, which will focus on the further interaction within the East Asian cooperation and current international problems, Ushakov noted.

At the plenary session the state leaders will share their opinions on issues of cooperation in such spheres as the consolidation of trade-investment cooperation, the digitalization of economy, security in information and communication technologies, emergency response, environmental protection and healthcare.

Putin to meet with South Korean president, Japanese PM in Singapore

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a series of bilateral meetings during his visit to Singapore on November 13-15, among them will be talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin aide, told reporters on Wednesday.

"We will seize a chance of visiting Singapore to hold bilateral meetings. In particular, talks are scheduled with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Indonesian Prime Minister Joko Widodo, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe," he said.

Some other meetings are in the works, and talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang are among them, Putin’s aide said.

On November 13, Putin is scheduled to have talks with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and also, he will meet with Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob, Ushakov said. The talks are expected to end with the signing of some interagency documents and commercial contracts.

Russia’s FSB chief warns IS spreading tentacles globally to areas once safe from terror

Terrorists are extending their tentacles to safer regions around the globe, after having suffered great losses, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said at the 17th Meeting of Heads of Special Services, Security and Law Enforcement Agencies from FSB partner states.

"At the moment, the militants have been smoked out of most of their bases in populated localities. They have suffered heavy losses in resources and have been forced to change their tactics, so they are looking for new opportunities, avenues and methods to continue their murderous activities. Having abandoned the strategy of military incursion and occupation of the areas, the chieftains of the Islamic State (IS), Jabhat al-Nusra terror groups and other affiliated structures have placed their bets on expanding into states that were previously safe from terrorism," Bortnikov emphasized.

The FSB chief added that intelligence services were tracking the movements of militants disguised as refugees and migrant workers into other countries throughout Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia. "Some of these cut-throats are heading towards the northern provinces of Afghanistan, raising the threat of an armed infiltration by them into Central Asia," Bortnikov noted.

Russia's Supreme Court declared the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra to be terrorist organizations on December 29, 2014, thereby outlawing them in Russia.

Terrorist plots to stage drone attacks during FIFA World Cup in Russia foiled by security services

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives foiled several terror plots involving drone attacks and plans to target foreign fans during the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Secret services took “all necessary measures to identify and prevent the terrorists’ attempts to use UAVs,” FSB head Aleksandr Bortnikov said at a law enforcement and security meeting on Wednesday.

The nation’s top domestic security agency chief added that the operatives managed to bust seven terror groups which were specifically planning to target foreign football fans. He said that terror plots involving drones are becoming more frequent and extremists have also planned to deploy UAVs at other major sports tournaments, as well as various politics-related events.

The terrorists are willing to deploy drones due to their growing availability and lax regulations on their use in Russia, Bortnikov stressed.

A law was adopted two years ago, making it mandatory to register all drones weighing more than 250 grams, while extra-heavy devices, with a weight above 30kg, are subject to more thorough control. The FSB chief believes that additional regulations are required.

“In order to prevent and quickly neutralize the threat, we must immediately begin to develop basic legal framework for the use of drones.

Overall, more than 3 million fans from all over world came to Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The tournament lasted from 14 June to 15 July, while the games were played in 11 different cities.

Intelligence agencies must have decryption keys to apps to fight terror, says FSB chief

Intelligence services must have decryption keys for encrypted web applications, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov said at the 17th Meeting of Heads of Special Services, Security and Law Enforcement Agencies from FSB partner states.

"We believe that technology-wise, the lack of access by intelligence agencies to encrypted messages that terrorists exchange through mobile apps significantly hinders efforts to prevent them from infiltrating the information space," the FSB chief pointed out.

"In order to put an end to the uncontrolled use of such apps by terrorists, there is a need to establish a deposit system for decryption keys generated by mobile apps, which would be reliable and open to control," he suggested.

"It is only possible to develop common rules for using decryption keys and accessing them based on the law if intelligence agencies, mobile operators and telecommunication companies closely cooperate with each other," Bortnikov specified. "At the same time, as far as privacy goes, the rights and freedoms of law-abiding people must be fully respected," he stressed.

Russia finds alternative to sunken floating dock for naval ships

Docking versions serving as an alternative to the sunken floating dock in Murmansk in northwest Russia have been found for all the Russian Navy’s ships, Head of the United Ship-Building Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov said on Wednesday.

"We have alternatives actually for all the ships except for [the aircraft carrier] Admiral Kuznetsov. Our enterprises are in operation, [including] the Nerpa [Ship Repair Factory]. After all, we can perform certain docking works in Severodvinsk, not far from Murmansk. We don’t feel any special problems in this regard," the chief executive said.

The head of the United Ship-Building Corporation did not specify, however, how many warships were waiting in line for repairs at the time of the incident with the floating dock in Murmansk.

"As for the ships of the first rank, in the first place, this is the Admiral Kuznetsov, this [the loss of the PD-50 floating dock] creates certain inconveniences. In actual fact, this was one of the largest docks in the world. We hope that the issue of the docking of first-rank ships will be resolved in the near future. We are also preparing several alternatives, about which we will report to the Industry and Trade Ministry," he said.

Floating dock incident

The PD-50 floating dock sank overnight to October 30 in Murmansk during the planned exit of the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov from it. According to preliminary information, the warship itself had its take-off deck damaged by the fallen crane and is now at the 35th Ship Repair Plant.

The PD-50 is one of the world’s largest floating docks and the biggest in Russia. It was built in Sweden in 1980 on order from the Soviet Navy. It is 330 meters long and 67 meters wide and has a lifting capacity of 80,000 tonnes. The floating dock has an area of 22.1 sq. km, which is slightly less than Red Square in Moscow.


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Russia’s first cruise liner will be ready for tests in 2019 — manufacturer

Russia’s first ocean cruise liner under construction at the Lotus Shipyard in Astrakhan will be ready for water trials in 2019, President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) Alexey Rakhmanov told reporters on Wednesday.

The keel of the project PV300 cruise ship with the capacity of 300 passengers was laid down at the Lotus Shipyard in August 2016. The four-deck liner will correspond to a five-star hotel. Russia did not build vessels of such class for more than 60 years.

"We are finalizing hull forming for the PV300 project, started loading large-size equipment and hope that tests of this vessel will start in 2019. Then, since this is the piloted ship, we would like very much to have no delays during trials," Rakhmanov said, without specifying deadline for the vessel turnover to customers.

The Astrakhan-based shipyard will enter in mid-2019 "the active phase of building two Golden Ring class passenger ships" [designed for river cruises], the top manager added.

The Lotus Shipyard affiliated with USC is one of the largest shipbuilding companies in southern Russia and specializes in constructing hulls for vessels of different types.

Gazprom's CEO, German energy minister discuss Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

Russian Gazprom's head Alexey Miller has discussed with Germany's Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier the issues of cooperation, including in the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, Gazprom said in a press release.

"The works continue on laying the gas pipeline on the seabed in Germany's territorial waters and Finland's exclusive economic zone. It was noted that the implementation of the project is based on high demand for the existing Nord Stream gas pipeline and growing demand for Russian gas in Europe," the press release said.

At the meeting, the sides noted that Gazprom's cooperation with German companies has a strategic character and develops in all spheres, including joint gas extraction in Russia, storing, transporting and selling gas in Europe.

In 2017, Gazprom supplied record volumes of gas to Germany - 53.4 blm cubic meters, which is 7.2% higher than the previous record of 2016 - 49.8 bln cu m.

Nord Stream 2 is a project on constructing a gas pipeline with a capacity to annually transport 55 bln cu m of gas from Russia to Germany through the pipes on the Baltic Sea bed.

Russian, Turkish parliamentary committees to discuss cooperation on Thursday

Russian State Duma's committee on international affairs will hold a joint session on Thursday together with Turkish Grand National Assembly's foreign policy commission.

Head of the Duma's committee Leonid Slutsky said that the session will be held in the framework of the Turkish delegation's visit to Moscow. The delegation is represented by the Turkish parliament's international affairs commission and its head Volkan Bozkir. According to Slutsky, the sides "plan to discuss the role of parliaments in developing Russian-Turkish cooperation at the current stage."

"There are many things that we agree on, and many things we continue to disagree on. All these issues concern Syrian settlement, launching a constitutional process in Syria, as well as the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and generally creating strong security architecture on the Eurasian continent. Turkey is a very important player here," Slutsky noted.

He added that Russia and Turkey continue developing their strategic partnership. "Constructive progress is seen in all spheres of cooperation, no matter how difficult the discussions are," he said.

Turkey's Ambassador to Moscow Huseyin Dirioz said earlier that Ankara notes with satisfaction the development of inter-parliamentary contacts with Russia.

Fighter jets destroy command post and equipment of 'militants' in Far Eastern drills

Several dozens of Su-25SM fighter jets and Mi-8AMTSh and Ka-52 helicopters have destroyed the equipment of 'militants' at military drills in the Russian Far Eastern Primorsky Region.

"During the practical stage of military drills, pilots of Grach Su-25SM fighter jets used unguided aircraft missiles and struck targets representing a command post, vehicle fleet, ammunition depots of 'terrorists'. Moreover, Mi-8ATMSh and Ka-52 helicopters 'cleared' the territory," the head of the Russian Eastern Military District's press service Alexander Gordeyev told reporters.

The press service confirmed to TASS that several dozens of crews were involved in the drills.

Pilots also shot at targets representing personnel and lightly armored vehicles of 'militants'.


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Five Taliban movement members to take part in Moscow meeting on Afghanistan

The Taliban radical movement (outlawed in Russia) will send five representatives to the Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan scheduled to be held on November 9, Afghanistan’s 1TV reported on Thursday.

According to the TV channel, the Taliban made public the names of five representatives who will take part in the negotiations in Moscow. The Taliban movement has no plans to have any official contacts with the delegation from Kabul, the report said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier reported that Moscow would host the second meeting of the Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan at the level of deputy foreign ministers and special envoys on November 9. A delegation of the Doha-based political office of the Taliban movement will take part in an international meeting of this level for the first time.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, invitations to take part in the event have been sent to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the US and some other countries.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will open the meeting. No final document is expected to be agreed on at the meeting.

India Confirms Participation in Afghan Peace Talks in Moscow

The development marks a major shift in New Delhi’s policy as this is the first time ever that India will attend a forum in which the Taliban will be present.

India has confirmed its participation in a meeting on Afghanistan hosted by Russia on Friday where five representatives of the Taliban* will also be present.

India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the decision reflects India's support to all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability, and prosperity to the country.

"India's consistent policy has been that such efforts should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled and with the participation of the Government of Afghanistan. Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level," the MEA said in a statement on Thursday.

Other invitees to the 'Moscow format meet on Afghanistan,' which will bring together deputy foreign ministers and special representatives, have all confirmed their participation.

Russia had sent invitations to the talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the United States and the Afghan Taliban.

"We welcome Indian as well as other respected countries' participation in the Moscow format talks. We highly value India's support in the peace process in Afghanistan," Russian embassy in New Delhi issued a statement Thursday.

The last such meeting proposed for September 4 was called off at the last moment after the Afghan government pulled out. However, this time, the Afghan government has sent four members of its High Peace Council to attend the meet.

A day ahead of the meeting in Moscow, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) has announced that a five-member delegation will be taking part in the talk that aims to ‘clarify the policy of Islamic Emirate about ending the occupation of Afghanistan to the participants.'

"This conference is not about holding negotiations with any party whatsoever; rather it is about finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan… With participation in the meeting, the international status of the Islamic Emirate will be strengthened even further," the statement issued by Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan reads.

Such diplomatic efforts of the Islamic Emirate showcase the active, clear and independent diplomacy and policy of the Islamic Emirate in the political field, Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the organization added.

Russia, Turkey team up to fight terror in Syria despite different stances, says lawmaker

Moscow and Ankara are maintaining the prospect of interacting on bilateral and multilateral levels to fight terrorism in Syria, despite their different views on the situation in the war-torn Arab republic, Head of Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said on Thursday.

"Our interpretations of what is going on in this country [Syria] differ, I mean, our vision of how the existing problems should be resolved. However, the most important thing is that under the circumstances, our two countries [Russia and Turkey] maintain the possibility of bilateral and multilateral cooperation for the sake of achieving the most crucial goal, which is to stamp out the sources of terrorism in Syria," the senator told a joint meeting of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee and the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s foreign policy commission.

Kosachev also said that the situation in Syria is currently one of the key issues in Russian-Turkish dialogue. He added that they are expected to share views "related to the situation in the Middle East within a broader context" and more global trends in today’s world, which are often defined by the developments occurring in the US.

In addition, the parties are expected to address the issues of strengthening, developing and cooperating in organizations, where the two countries work jointly. "We have certain questions for NATO, and we are ready to put them to you, a NATO member state," the senator stated.

Speaking about the issues of bilateral cooperation, Kosachev pointed out that both nations are actively developing mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. As such, trade between Russian and Turkey rose by 30% in the first eight months of the year, the senator said, adding that these are not record-high figures but the "trend is positive".

Shootdown of Su-24 fighter over

Kosachev recalled that Russian-Turkish bilateral relations have a long yet complicated history. "But it is very important to state that our fellow citizens are today in no way captives of this history," he noted.

"Unfortunately, there’ve been tragic events in our contemporary history. I mean the 2015-2016 incident [when the Russian Su-24 jet was shot down]. But we can say that we’ve overcome this turmoil in our bilateral relations, its water under the bridge," Kosachev emphasized.

He believes that this is can be attributed to both leaders of the countries and their good will, as well as a "reflection of Russia and Turkey’s mutual interest in finding solutions and moving forward even under the most difficult circumstances."

The downing of the Russian warplane led to a serious crisis in Russia-Turkey relations. Unlike Ankara, Moscow said that the jet didn’t violate Turkey’s airspace. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing a slew of punitive economic sanctions against Turkey, and dialogue between the two countries came to a grinding halt. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for the incident in late August, 2016, and relations between the two countries started to improve.

Antonov An-2 aircraft makes hard landing in Russia

An Antonov An-2 with passengers onboard has made a hard landing in Russia’s Arkhangelsk Region, a source in the regional air traffic control center said.

"According to preliminary reports, an An-2 aircraft has made a hard landing four kilometers from the Vaskovo airfield," the source said.

No casualties have been reported as of yet.

Russia’s heavily upgraded military transport plane performs debut flight

The serial-produced Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A, a heavy upgrade of the Il-76 military transport plane, performed its debut flight on November 7, CEO of the Ilyushin Aircraft Company Alexei Rogozin said on his Facebook page.

"The Il-76MD-90A is the second generation of Il-76 military transport planes. The first flight was made in September 2012 and the first evaluation flight to test its compliance with the Defense Ministry’s requirements was conducted in December 2016. Yesterday, this was the first flight of the Il-76MD-90A with the factory No. 01-09 - the first serial-produced plane built in compliance with the performance characteristics of the Russian Defense Ministry," Rogozin said.

The Il-76MD-90A produced at the Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar-SP enterprise is a heavily upgraded version of the Il-76MD military transport plane.

The plane’s new version is outfitted with the PS-90A-76 engines that help reduce fuel consumption by 10%. The plane can carry a payload of 52 tonnes and operate at a distance of 5,000 km compared to 47 tonnes and 4,000 km, respectively, for the Il-76MD. It is capable of carrying a greater number of transportable and air-droppable military hardware.

The upgraded plane is designated to transport heavy large-size hardware and cargoes, and also to land personnel, hardware and cargoes.

The plane can also be used in emergencies areas, for example, for extinguishing fires. In October 2012, Russia’s Defense Ministry and the United Aircraft Corporation signed a contract worth 140 billion rubles ($2.1 billion) for the delivery of 39 Il-76MD-90A military transport planes to the Russian Armed Forces.

Helicopter crash in Russia’s Tver region kills one

A Mil Mi-8 helicopter crash in Russia’s Tver Region has killed one and left three injured, medical sources said, adding that the information about casualties was being verified.

According to emergency sources, the helicopter crashed during a mission to monitor a gas pipeline.

"It was a pilot who reported the crash, the helicopter was en route from the Smolensk region’s Dukhovshchina settlement to the Tver region’s town of Andreapol," an emergency source said.


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November 8, 2018 - Spoof London billboards seek to celebrate Putin's 'role' in Brexit
Spoof London billboards seek to celebrate Putin's 'role' in Brexit | Reuters

People walk past a billboard poster in London, Britain, November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Spoof billboards celebrating Russian President Vladimir Putin's "contribution" to Brexit have been put up in London by a satirical group which says it wants to secure recognition for the role Russian military intelligence played in the referendum.

Britain has said it found no evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 Brexit vote and Moscow has repeatedly denied even trying, though opponents of Brexit have repeatedly questioned whether the Kremlin played a role.
In the referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, backed staying. Britain is due to leave on March 29.

The posters in London showed a picture of Kremlin chief Putin winking and holding the Russian flag beside the slogan: “Lets celebrate a Red, White and Blue Brexit.” The “r” of Brexit was reversed to give it the look of a Cyrillic letter.

In a statement, the people claiming to be behind the campaign said they were a group of Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers who wanted their true role in the Brexit vote to be recognized.

“The group hopes to counter recent unwarranted negative publicity about the GRU by putting up advertisements highlighting their part in Britain’s imminent liberation from the EU,” said the group, which calls itself Proud Bear.

Britain accuses the GRU of trying to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March.

A video posted by the @Pr0ud_Bear group showed Putin riding a bulldog with the face of Brexit campaigner Arron Banks.

“People of tiny island - it is time to celebrate,” the video said.

It asked for funding to celebrate the GRU’s role in Brexit by hiring a digital billboard at Waterloo station and extolled the economic possibilities of post-Brexit trade with Russia including a booming trade in vodka.

When contacted by Reuters, a representative of the group said in a statement in Russian that it was concerned by the health of Russian democracy and opposed the authoritarian tendencies of Moscow.

The group expressed solidarity with Russian journalists but the representative declined to say who was behind the stunt. The Russian embassy did not immediately comment.


Jedi Master
November 8, 2018 - Spoof London billboards seek to celebrate Putin's 'role' in Brexit
Spoof London billboards seek to celebrate Putin's 'role' in Brexit | Reuters

People walk past a billboard poster in London, Britain, November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Spoof billboards celebrating Russian President Vladimir Putin's "contribution" to Brexit have been put up in London by a satirical group which says it wants to secure recognition for the role Russian military intelligence played in the referendum.

Britain has said it found no evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 Brexit vote and Moscow has repeatedly denied even trying, though opponents of Brexit have repeatedly questioned whether the Kremlin played a role.
In the referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, backed staying. Britain is due to leave on March 29.

The posters in London showed a picture of Kremlin chief Putin winking and holding the Russian flag beside the slogan: “Lets celebrate a Red, White and Blue Brexit.” The “r” of Brexit was reversed to give it the look of a Cyrillic letter.

In a statement, the people claiming to be behind the campaign said they were a group of Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers who wanted their true role in the Brexit vote to be recognized.

“The group hopes to counter recent unwarranted negative publicity about the GRU by putting up advertisements highlighting their part in Britain’s imminent liberation from the EU,” said the group, which calls itself Proud Bear.

Britain accuses the GRU of trying to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March.

A video posted by the @Pr0ud_Bear group showed Putin riding a bulldog with the face of Brexit campaigner Arron Banks.

“People of tiny island - it is time to celebrate,” the video said.

It asked for funding to celebrate the GRU’s role in Brexit by hiring a digital billboard at Waterloo station and extolled the economic possibilities of post-Brexit trade with Russia including a booming trade in vodka.

When contacted by Reuters, a representative of the group said in a statement in Russian that it was concerned by the health of Russian democracy and opposed the authoritarian tendencies of Moscow.

The group expressed solidarity with Russian journalists but the representative declined to say who was behind the stunt. The Russian embassy did not immediately comment.
Вот я сижу в Москве и читаю подобные новости из Лондона и на ум приходит единственное определение - полный бред. Кстати, знаете как звучало бы это слово с перевернутой буквой? Бяексит! Звучит так же бредово как и сама новость. При этом переживаю за автоперевод и прошу правильно понять - никого из форумчан ни в коем случае не хотел обидеть никаким образом.

Here is I sit in Moscow and read such news from London and to mind comes the only definition of - full idiotism. By the way, do you know what that word with the inverted letter would sound like? Byaexit! Sounds as crazy as the news itself. At the same time I worry about the autotranslation and ask to understand correctly- I do not want to offend of the forum members in any case.


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Macron calls Russia a threat; historian reminds him Russia saved France - Fort Russ
In Sputnik France:
The statement of the French President calling Russia “threatening” a few days before the commemoration of the Great War’s end “hugely contradicts the announced spirit of the commemorations,” said the French historian Edouard Husson. According to him, in the 20th Century it is the Russian people who saved France twice over.

In an article for Atlantico, contemporary political historian Edouard Husson described as “paradoxical” the statement made by Emmanuel Macron on November 6th in Verdun.

“We will not protect the Europeans if we do not decide to have a real European army against the Russia that is on our borders and has shown that it can be threatening,” the French President pronounced.

According to Mr. Husson, Macron’s remarks “hugely contradict the announced spirit of the commemorations” for the end of the First World War.” He indicated that France owes its existence to the Russian people since “without the heroic fight and the enormous losses of the Tsarist army in the fall of 1914, the German army would have had enough divisions to bring back to the west to crush our army. ”

“Five million deaths, civilian and military, during the First World War; 27 million deaths, civilian and military, between 1941 and 1945. Such is the tribute paid by the Empire of the tsars and the Soviet Union to defend freedom in Europe,” he said.

Mr Husson believes that the words of the French President are all the more surprising since they were held a few days before Vladimir Putin’s visit to France.

“Whatever the grievances against Russia or its government, is it time to put forward litigation or remember what brings us closer?” he asked.

Moreover, he says that European security can not be “anti-Russian.”

“Without an agreement with Russia, how can we seriously think of placing the European continent in a balance with Asia? How can we claim, in 2018, to seriously fight Islamism and its militia without close cooperation with Moscow?” he added.

On Tuesday, 16 October, Russian presidential advisor Yuri Ushakov confirmed Vladimir Putin’s visit to Paris for the November 11 commemoration. The official added that the Russian head of state “would attend the working breakfast organized by President Macron”.

Vladimir Putin will also take advantage of his visit to lay flowers at the memorial of the Russian Expeditionary Force in Paris,* force of the Russian Imperial Army engaged in the fighting of the First World War on the French front.
*Tass has an article in English about this memorial, from which I quote:
“In just three days about five thousand soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Force died while fighting for our country. This monument will help restore historical justice and serve as a reminder about the role of the Russian army in the history of France. I believe that the role of the Expeditionary Force has special significance in the Russian history of World War I, too. The Russian Empire lost about 1.7 million lives in it,” he said.

Translated from Russian by Microsoft
In Russia, the network of drug traffickers, which was in 20 regions, seized a ton of drugs, a representative of the Russian Interior Ministry told about the suppression of activities of a large criminal community, operating in 20 subjects of the Russian Federation. The operation is carried out... В России раскрыли сеть наркоторговцев, орудовавшую в 20 регионах, изъяли тонну наркотиков (видео) – Новости РуАН

8 ноября 2018
The representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia spoke about the suppression of the activities of a large criminal community operating in 20 regions of the Russian Federation. The operation was carried out in the Moscow region, Tatarstan, Chuvashia, the Republic of Mari El, as well as in the Novosibirsk and Nizhny Novgorod regions.

The criminals not only transported drugs to the territory of Russia, but also made various types of them themselves, and also distributed them using cars with specially equipped hiding places.

As part of the operation, 18 people were detained, among them both the leaders of the criminal community and ordinary performers - couriers, distributors, laboratory assistants and storekeepers.

The police found a drug lab: nearly a ton of different types of drugs, hundreds of kilograms of reagents and precursors, and fake drugs were seized.

All detainees are in custody.
Published on Nov 8, 2018

It’s impossible to intimidate Russia with ultimatums, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. She recalled that since 2011, the United States 62 times imposed various restrictions and prohibitions, and "new ones can follow with the same ease and irresponsibility."

Moscow hopes that Washington will still pay attention to the normalization of relations, despite the difficult domestic political situation. Russia has every legitimate reason to develop relations with the United States on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual respect, Zakharova stressed.

She expressed the hope that the "Russophobian fuse" and the fake story with Russian interference in the elections would end, however, according to her, it is likely that a "new round of these inventions will begin." But, noted Zakharova, Americans should already understand the whole absurdity of Russia's endless and unsubstantiated accusations of interfering in American domestic affairs.
Russia's Top Oil Giant Now Sells More of Its Oil in Asia Than Europe
Russia's largest oil company Rosneft supplied 43.1mn tonnes of oil to Asia in January-September 2018, beating exports to Europe that amounted to 41mn tonnes. Rosneft supplied 15.7mn tonnes to Asia in the third quarter alone, or half (48%) of its total exports, and 13.1mn tonnes to Europe (40% of total).

Asia has been growing in importance as a market for Russian oil since 2003, when the Kremlin took over the privately owned Yukos oil company. As bne IntelliNews has already reported Russia is reorienting its supplies of low sulphur oil from the West to China, which upset European refineries receiving Urals oil blend of poorer quality.

The gap between European and Asian supplies has been closed fast, as in 2017 still Europe imported 65.3bn tonnes of oil from Rosneft versus 47.7mn tonnes for Asia. China is the major buyer of Rosneft's oil (a business started by Yukos), with about 40mn tonnes supplied in 2017, that is slated to increase to 50mn tonnes this year.

After the landmark deal signed between Russia's largest oil company Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in 2013, Rosneft has extended cooperation with CNPC and CEFC China Energy. Most recently the contract of troubled CEFC has been overtaken by CITIC Resources (a subsidiary of the Chinese government fund CITIC).

Analysts surveyed by Vedomosti confirm the trend of increased output by Rosneft in Eastern territories and focus on long-term supply deals and joint extraction ventures with Chinese and Indian companies. In the meantime the European market is stagnating due to lower economic growth, renewable energy policies, and transition to a service-driven economy.

This week bne IntelliNews reported that Rosneft gave a bullish capital expenditure guidance for 2019 as it prepares to boost output. However, the company is trying to shield itself from possible future sanctions by revising contracts with its major buyers. Previous reports suggested that Chinese banks have so far complied with the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU against Russia.
Russia Deploys Its Avangard Glide Vehicle – the Unmatched Leader in Hypersonic Technology
12:15 AM - 9 Nov 2018

Lavrov gets ‘unpleasant surprise’ from no inquiries by Vienna on ex-Austrian colonel 'spy'
A retired officer from the Austrian army had been reportedly spying against his country's military and transferring documents to Russia since the 1990s
MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said it was an unpleasant surprise for him to get no request at all from Vienna for any explanations over the affair of a retired Austrian army colonel who had allegedly spied for Russia.

"This was an unpleasant surprise to me. It has been a custom from time immemorial for any country that feels some concerns or suspicions over actions by another country to ask for explanations directly in accordance with the rules of international communication.

Lately, our Western counterparts have made it a rule not to use traditional methods but rather megaphone diplomacy.They accuse us in public and then demand public explanations over an issue we know nothing about," Lavrov said.

"It is necessary to follow the rules that have been shaped in the process of international communication. We are inviting Austria’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry. We will draw his attention to what methods should be used, if they have any questions to Russia," Lavrov said.

The Austrian authorities are investigating a 70-age retired colonel, who since the end of 1990s has allegedly passed information about the migration crisis, Austrian military aviation and artillery systems to Russian intelligence. The Austrian prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal case against the former colonel on the suspicion he worked for a foreign military intelligence service. The suspect may face a prison term of two years. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek have confirmed that a former Austrian military officer is being investigated on the suspicion of spying for Moscow.

Kurz earlier said that Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl had canceled her visit to Russia and summoned representatives of the Russian embassy in Vienna.


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Afghanistan should not fall prey to geopolitical games, says Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for not using Afghanistan for geopolitical games and stressed the importance of preserving territorial integrity of this Islamic republic.

"Russia supports the preservation of a united and indivisible Afghanistan in which all ethnic groups populating the country could live peacefully and happily. I have no doubts that the other participants of the Moscow format share this approach and that we all go by basic national interests of the Afghan people," the Russian foreign minister said in his speech at the opening of the second session of the Moscow-based consultations on Afghanistan on Friday.

"No one should think in terms of geopolitical games that may result in another transformation of Afghanistan into a field for competition between external players with drastic consequences both for the Afghans and their neighbors," the minister stressed.

The second session of the Moscow-based consultations between deputy foreign ministers and relevant special representatives is attended for the first time by a delegation of the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia). An employee from the US Embassy in Moscow will also take part in the negotiations as an observer.

Taliban militant group denies receiving weapons from Russia

Moscow renders no support to the Taliban militant group (outlawed in Russia), spokesman for the group’s Doha office Mohammad Suhail Shahin said on the sidelines of the second meeting of the Moscow consultations on Afghanistan on Friday.

"That’s not true," he said, commenting on US officials’ allegations that Russia supports the Taliban with arms supplies.

Then-Commander of the US Forces in Afghanistan John Nicholson alleged in an interview with the BBC on March 23 that Russia provided "some degree of support" to the Taliban.

Lieutenant-General Austin Scott Miller who replaced Nicholson as the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan in early September claimed in June that Russia and Iran were assisting the Taliban. Russia has repeatedly rejected these insinuations, saying that Washington had failed to provide any proofs.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in July that Russia was maintaining contacts with the Taliban only for ensuring security for Russians and contributing to the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

By decision of Russia’s Supreme Court of February 14, 2003, the Taliban movement was recognized as a terrorist organization banned in Russia.

Afghanistan ready to talk to Taliban – High Peace Council’s Din Mohammad

Head of Afghanistan delegation and Deputy of High Peace Council Hajji Din Mohammad confirmed Afghanistan’s readiness to start a direct dialogue with Taliban, speaking on the sidelines of multilateral peace consultations on Afghanistan which are taking place in Moscow, Friday.

Answering the reporter’s question on possibility of direct talks, Din Mohammad said: “Well, yes, yes. They announced.”

Din Mohammad also spoke on US presence in Afghanistan: “When the peace comes, no need for America in Afghanistan”, adding “if the peace comes, they will go.”

The Russian capital is hosting the second meeting of the Moscow-format consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers and special envoys.

Source: Ruptly


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November 9, 2018 - Russian Military Veterans seek ICC investigation of mercenary deployments
Russian military veterans seek ICC investigation of mercenary deployments | Reuters

Groups representing Russian military veterans plan to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Russia’s secret deployment of civilian contractors in Syria, Ukraine and Africa, a paramilitary leader said on Friday.

The recruitment of civilians to fight abroad is illegal in Russia, and the Kremlin has repeatedly denied reports of thousands of Russian private contractors fighting alongside government forces in Syria. Over 100 Russian civilians were killed during the campaign, according to people familiar with the mission.

However, the ICC has no jurisdiction over Syria and has never handled any cases like this before.

More than a dozen Russian veteran organizations plan to write to Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the Hague-based ICC investigating war crimes, according to Yevgeny Shabayev, a paramilitary Cossack group leader who says he personally knows dozens of people who have been on such assignments.

It is unclear how big the organizations on the list are and they may not represent a significant majority of veterans - of whom there are hundreds of thousands in Russia following its intervention in Afghanistan and the conflict in Chechnya.

A letter of appeal from the groups will urge Bensouda to initiate a probe into recruitment of the Russian mercenaries.

“The Russians fight abroad as “volunteers” and without an official recognition from the Russian government,” said Shabayev, who has once served as a representative of one of self-proclaimed pro-Russian separatist republics in eastern Ukraine.

The veterans, some of whom are close to the mercenaries, say in the letter they are unhappy with the fact that private contractors operate illegally and enjoy no social benefits or protection afterwards.

“In fact Russian civilians ... are being sent out of their country of residence to be illegally used for military purposes.”

The Kremlin and the Russian Defence Ministry did not reply immediately reply to requests for comments. A spokeswoman for Bensouda’s office said by email she was unable to comment.

Several hundreds delegates plan to discuss the document at a forum on Nov. 18 in Moscow and mail it to the ICC the next day, Shabayev said adding that they have worked on the document for several months.

Russian citizens were seen in large numbers taking part in the fighting in eastern Ukraine on the side of pro-Russian separatists. Moscow said they went there on their own will as volunteers.

The Kremlin officially deployed 170 civilian instructors in the Central African Republic and plans to send 60 more to reinforce them - a mission which Moscow says has been approved by the U.N. Security Council.

Last year, a Russian private security company said it carried out a demining mission in Libya.

The veteran organizations said in the letter of appeal that Russian contractors also worked in Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen and Gabon.

The authors said in the document they would assist the ICC if it launched an investigation. Shabayev said some former Russian private military contractors who had fought abroad would be ready to testify if the offered them protection.

“It will depend on whether the West is really interested in examining the situation,” Shabayev said.

It was not immediately clear whether or how the ICC would respond to the group’s message.

The ICC has jurisdiction only when a country’s own government is unwilling or unable to prosecute an extremely grave crime, and only over crimes committed on the territory of its member states. Russia is not a member.

November 9, 2018 - Austrian Colonel spied for Russia for decades, Vienna says
Austrian colonel spied for Russia for decades, Vienna says | Reuters

Austrian Ambassador to Russia Johannes Eigner sits inside a car as he leaves the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters after it was declared that Austria suspects a recently retired military officer in spying for Russia for decades, in Moscow, Russia November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

A senior Austrian military officer is believed to have spied for Moscow for decades, Vienna said on Friday, adding to a list of recent Russian espionage cases and souring relations with arguably the country's closest ally in the EU.

Austria was in the minority of EU countries that did not expel any Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, which London has blamed on Moscow. Russia denies any involvement.

Conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who governs in coalition with the far-right and pro-Moscow Freedom Party, has said that decision was in line with Austria’s neutrality and a tradition of maintaining good relations with countries on both sides of the former Iron Curtain.

Vienna is a major diplomatic center hosting many foreign officials.

But Kurz hardened his tone on Friday, announcing that a recently retired colonel was believed to have spied for Moscow from the 1990s until this year.

“If the suspicion is confirmed, such cases... do not improve relations between Russia and the European Union,” he told reporters, without naming the suspect. The case has been referred to prosecutors and the former colonel has been questioned.

Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, who danced with Russian President Vladimir Putin at her wedding in August, has canceled a planned trip to Moscow over the case. She has also summoned the Russian charge d’affaires since the ambassador is outside the country.

“For the moment we are demanding transparent information from the Russian side,” Kurz said.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was “unpleasantly surprised” by Vienna’s allegations and Moscow knew nothing about the retired officer, news agencies RIA and Interfax reported.

Russia had in turn summoned the Austrian ambassador, agencies said.

Kurz repeatedly referred to a recent case in the Netherlands in which the government said Russian agents tried to hack into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons while it was investigating the Skripal case.

Western countries last month issued coordinated denunciations of Russia for running what they described as a global hacking campaign.

“Based on the information we have but also because of recent events for example in the Netherlands we can very much assume at the moment that our suspicion will be confirmed,” said Kurz who has met Putin in Austria twice since the Skripal poisoning.

It is not yet clear whether the case is an isolated one, Defence Minister Mario Kunasek said, speaking alongside Kurz.

Austria was tipped off about the case weeks ago by an ally’s intelligence service, and issues of interest to the officer or his alleged handlers included weapons systems and migration into Europe, Kunasek added.

November 9, 2018 - Russian Foreign Minister 'unpleasantly surprised' by Austrian spying suspicions
Russian foreign minister 'unpleasantly surprised' by Austrian spying suspicions | Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listens to a question during a news conference at the foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain, November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he was "unpleasantly surprised" by the news about a retired Austrian colonel suspected of spying for Moscow on Friday, Russian news agencies RIA and Interfax reported.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said earlier that the recently retired officer, who he did not name, may have carried out spying activities since the 1990s.

Thu Nov 08, 2018 - Diplomat Blasts US State Department for Spreading ‘Fake News’ Against Russia

The US Department of State is churning out fake news against Russia on an industrial scale while US President Donald Trump is fighting bogus news stories in the American media, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"While the US President [Donald Trump] is fighting fake news on CNN, he apparently does not notice in the heat of the struggle that his subordinates in his administration just continue to generate them, these bogus stories are already on an industrial level now," the Russian diplomat stated, TASS reported.

As an example, the spokeswoman noted a map of NATO countries issued by the US State Department in order to quell Moscow’s fears over the military alliance’s expansion.

"It shows a map of Russia and the alliance’s member states bordering our country. The logic was that Russia borders literally with several NATO member states and it has nothing to fear," the diplomat added.

"For whom is this intended? Is this intended for a kindergarten or a nursery? Or, perhaps, modern children are far more inclined to have analytical thinking than those who dream up these fake news stories," the diplomat stressed.

Nov. 9, 2018 - Russian hi-tech hub creates ‘breakthrough’ composite material for space industry
Russian hi-tech hub creates ‘breakthrough’ composite material for space industry

The work by the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company and Skolkovo Science and Technology Institute on the material was carried out on order from Russia’s State Space Agency Roscosmos.

Specialists of the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company and scientists of the Skolkovo Science and Technology Institute (Skoltech) have developed a new technology of making composite materials that will allow designing light and firm panels for the space industry, the Skoltech press office reported on Friday.

"The joint experimental design work carried out by specialists of Skoltech and Information Satellite Systems has yielded a new technology of making a composite material - the honeycomb core made of aluminum foil. Honeycomb cored panels are widely used in space vehicles, aircraft-and ship-building, the furniture, automobile and other industries," the Skoltech press office said in a statement.

The work on making the composite material using the new technology was carried out on order from Russia’s State Space Agency Roscosmos.

The honeycomb core made of aluminum foil is referred to the category of composite materials that are very firm and light at the same time: the foil is just 23 micrometers thick while the honeycomb cell edge is 2.5 mm long.

Skoltech engineers have developed equipment for making this honeycomb filler using laser technologies, the vision processing technology and modern automated systems. Overall, two types of the honeycomb filler have been developed under the project: for flat panels and for curvilinear (cylindrical, parabolic and other) load-carrying structures.

"The technical concept that has been developed and implemented is universal as it allows obtaining various types of the filler using the same equipment: with a flexible and hexagonal shape of the honeycomb cell [for curvilinear and flat structures, respectively]. In actual fact, the production of a new material has been created today, which opens new possibilities for implementing designers’ ideas for designing light and firm structures with the surface of the curve of the second order," the statement says.

The conveyor for producing aluminum honeycombs has been launched at the Applied Mechanics Small Design Bureau (part of the Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company). Its production capacities will eventually suffice both to meet the Company’s requirements and provide other Roscosmos organizations with the high-quality material.

"A possibility is being considered to deliver the honeycomb filler with altered characteristics to aircraft- and ship-building and construction organizations. But in this case, it will be necessary to develop a new production line and for this purpose we count on further cooperation with Skoltech," Applied Mechanics Small Design Bureau Deputy Director for Development Pavel Goshkovsky was quoted by the Skoltech press office as saying.


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November 10, 2018 - Supermarket in St. Petersburg burns down, no casualties reported
Supermarket in St. Petersburg burns down, no casualties reported | Reuters

A supermarket fire is seen in St. Petersburg, Russia November 10, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. EDUARD DMITRIJEV/via REUTERS

A supermarket of Russia's Lenta food retailer caught massive fire in central St. Petersburg on Saturday and its roof collapsed, but there were no casualties, Lenta and Russian news agencies reported.

Rescue services evacuated people from a shopping mall that housed the supermarket after the fire was reported at 0830 local time (0530 GMT),
the head office of St. Petersburg emergencies ministry said. The fire was brought under control a few hours later.

Heavy black smoke spread around the shopping mall as flames were blazing from the inside of the building and on its roof, according to footage shown on Rossiya24 state TV channel. The roof later collapsed, according to RIA news agency.

Lenta said it was investigating the cause of the fire in its supermarket, which operated 24/7.

Fire safety is an acute problem in Russia. In March, one of the deadliest fires since the break-up of the Soviet Union killed more than 60 visitors in a shopping mall in Siberia.

* Nov. 10, 2018 - Fire in Lenta hypermarket in St. Petersburg localized
Fire in Lenta hypermarket in St. Petersburg localized

One person was injured in the fire, the ambulance service told TASS. "One person was injured, he was taken to the hospital," a source said.

November 10, 2018 - Russia Tycoon, suspect in Monaco graft , arrived in Moscow
Russian tycoon, suspect in Monaco graft probe, arrived in Moscow | Reuters

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - AS Monaco Training - La Turbie, France, March 29, 2018. Dmitry Rybolovlev of Russia, President of AS Monaco Football Club arrives to attend AS Monaco training. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who is a formal suspect in an investigation into corruption and influence-peddling in Monaco, is now back in Moscow, his representative told Reuters on Saturday.

Earlier this week, police in Monaco had detained the billionaire, who also owns soccer club AS Monaco, for questioning as part of the probe.

“Rybolovlev is currently in Moscow,” the tycoon’s representative, Dmitry Chechkin, said.

“Rybolovlev has not been freed on bail, or (served with) an order not to leave, but under judicial control terms. He was not banned from leaving Monaco and his movements are not restricted,” Chechkin said.

Rybolovlev, one of Russia’s richest men who made his fortune running fertilizer producer Uralkali until he sold it in 2010, was released after a judge in Monaco declared him a formal suspect in the probe.

Under the legal systems in France and Monaco, a suspect is placed under formal investigation if a magistrate believes there is serious or consistent evidence pointing to a crime. He is not formally charged unless he is sent to trial.

* Nov. 10, 2018 - Russian billionaire Rybolovlev arrives in Russia from Monaco
Russian billionaire Rybolovlev arrives in Russia from Monaco

November 9, 2018 - US postpones sanctions deadline on Russian Tycoon's Firms
U.S. postpones sanctions deadline on Russian tycoon's firms | Reuters

FILE PHOTO: Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska waits before the talks of Russian President Vladimir Putin with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

The United States on Friday said it was postponing the enforcement of sanctions on Russian companies EN+ <ENPLq.L >, Rusal and Gaz PAO for nearly four weeks as their top shareholder works on a plan to cut his stakes.

The U.S. Treasury Department had given Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska until Dec. 12 to reduce his holdings in the three companies but said in a statement that the deadline had been moved to Jan. 7, 2019.

“EN+, RUSAL, and GAZ are proposing substantial corporate governance changes that could potentially result in significant changes in control of these sanctioned entities,” Treasury said in a statement explaining why the deadline was postponed.

Rusal, En+ and GAZ declined to comment.

The U.S. Treasury imposed the sanctions in April on Deripaska and several companies in which he is a large shareholder, citing “malign activities” by Russia, as well as allegations of past crimes by Deripaska himself.

The sanctions, the toughest since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, have been postponed several times as the U.S. considers plans by Deripaska to divest shares in the companies so that he no longer controls them, among other moves.

Rusal and its parent En+ Group have recruited directors and management not linked to Deripaska in recent months as part of talks with Washington over easing U.S. sanctions.

Rusal named Evgenii Nikitin, who has been acting chief executive since May and previously headed its aluminum division, as its CEO last Friday. En+ also appointed a new CEO.

Friday’s move extends licenses relating to the sanctioned firms to authorize activities needed to wind down operations or contracts, according to a statement on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website. It also extends licenses to authorize transactions needed to divest debt, equity and other holdings.

Concerns over the impact of sanctions on Rusal have roiled aluminum markets. Rusal is the world’s second-biggest producer after China’s Hongqiao. Japan’s top aluminum rolling company, UACJ Corp, said on Nov. 1 that it was removing Rusal from its 2019 suppliers list due to uncertainty over the sanctions.

Nov. 10, 2018 - Retired army officer suspected of spying for Russia detained in Austria
Retired army officer suspected of spying for Russia detained in Austria

The suspect was detained in Upper Austria and is currently being questioned in a remand center.

A retired colonel of the Austrian army suspected by the country’s authorities of spying for Russia has been detained, the Austrian Press Agency said on Saturday citing Salzburg’s prosecutors investigating the case.

The suspect was detained in Upper Austria and is currently being questioned in a remand center. According to a spokesperson for the Salzburg prosecution, the retired officer had been detained amid fears he might escape.

On Friday, Austria’s authorities that the country’s law enforcement agencies were conducting an investigation into a case of a 70-yeal-old retired Austrian colonel who was suspected of working for Russian intelligence since the 1990s and of providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery systems, high-ranking officials and the migrant crisis. If the man is found guilty, he may face a prison term of up to ten years.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said later in the day that Foreign Minister Kneissl had cancelled her visit to Russia and summoned Russian diplomats to clarify the situation over the spying allegations.

In response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry lodged a protest with Austria’s Ambassador to Moscow Johannes Eigner over Vienna’s claims.

Nov. 10, 2018 - Lavrov discusses espionage case with Austrian Foreign Minister in telephone conversation
Lavrov discusses espionage case with Austrian Foreign Minister in telephone conversation

Austrian Foreign Minister hopes that the case of espionage will not affect relations with Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl discussed a case of espionage over the telephone on Saturday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"The Russian side emphasized the unacceptability of the practice of raising public unsubstantiated accusations going against the norms of international communication. It was noted that any possible mutual concerns should be discussed through established channels of dialogue and on the basis of facts," the Ministry’s report said.

In turn, Kneissl expressed hope that the espionage case would not affect bilateral relations between the countries. According to the Ministry, the ministers discussed "the situation in the Russian-Austrian relations, which arose in connection with the statements of the Austrian authorities about alleged involvement of a former officer of the Austrian armed forces in the intelligence activities in favor of Russia. Kneissl explained the Vienna’s motives in making certain decisions, and expressed hope that those steps will not affect further development of bilateral cooperation".

Earlier, Kneissl canceled the visit to Russia scheduled for December 2-3, and warned the relations between the two countries may become complicated.

It was reported on November 9, that Austria has opened an investigation into a 70-year-old retired colonel, suspected of working for Russian intelligence agencies since the 1990s, providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery and the migration crisis. If found guilty, the colonel may face up to 10 years in prison.

Nov. 9, 2018 - Austrian daily claims officer who allegedly spied for Russia was recruited in Iran in 1988
Austrian daily claims officer who allegedly spied for Russia was recruited in Iran in 1988

Austrian authorities are investigating a 70-year-old retired army colonel, who since the late 1990s has allegedly passed to the Russian military intelligence information.

The retired Austrian army colonel whom the authorities suspect of spying for Russia, was recruited in Tehran in 1988, the daily Kronen Zeitung said on Friday.

The newspaper claims it was then that Russian secret services contacted the man for the first time. No other details are mentioned.

The Austrian authorities are investigating a 70-year-old retired army colonel, who since the late 1990s has allegedly passed to the Russian military intelligence information about the migration crisis, Austria’s military aviation and artillery systems. Over a period of 20 years he has received 300,000 euros. The Austrian prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal case over the former colonel from Salzburg, who retired five years ago, on the suspicion of spying for a foreign military intelligence service. The suspect may face a prison term of two years.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said there have been no queries from Vienna to Moscow over its suspicions. Austria’s ambassador in Moscow has been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry.


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Austrian president calls not to dramatize relations with Russia over spy case

Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen.jpg
Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen / © Mikhail Mettsel/TASS

Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen will not be discussing with Russian President Vladimir Putin the case of the Austrian retired officer suspected by Vienna of spying for Russia and he calls not to dramatize the relations with Russia in the wake of the scandal.

"No. At the time when several dozens of heads of state and government are in Paris, we [Putin and Van der Bellen] are not scheduled to hold bilateral talks," Van der Bellen said aired by the Austrian radio station O-1, when asked whether he would touch upon the issue in talks with Putin.

"This scam (the alleged espionage case - TASS) should be investigated first. Let us see if it contains something else than a so-called bogus story, in this case we will be taking corresponding measures," the president answered when asked how relations would develop between Austria and Russia in the wake of this case.

"Now, we need to investigate if it is true, if the charges are right, and what sort of information that officer could have access to - either related to Austria’s national affairs or some other talks, for instance with NATO. It should be clarified. At the moment, I can see no reasons to dramatize this," he reassured the listeners.

According to the Austrian president, it would have been better if the retired officer’s alleged activities had been disclosed by the Austrian intelligence service but in such cases cooperation with allied services is important.

"Unconditionally, it would have been better if we could have uncover this provided there is something serious to uncover. However, it is due to cooperation of the Austrian intelligence services that we received this information," Van der Bellen said mentioning that a third country supplied Austria with information on a suspected spy.

On November 11, Paris will host commemorations marking the Armistice that ended the First World War, which was signed 100 years ago. Besides, the Paris Peace Forum will open later in the day. The events are to be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen among other world leaders.

Russian President to attend events dedicated to 100th anniversary of World War I Armistice

Russian President Vladimir Putin will make a short business visit to Paris on Sunday. The head of state will take part in large-scale events marking the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice.

The format of activities does not provide for individual bilateral meetings but short contacts with other leaders visiting Paris are not ruled out, including the meeting with US President Donald Trump, Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier.


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Putin to Attend TurkStream Pipeline Completion Ceremony in Istanbul – Aide

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit the Turkish city of Istanbul on November 19 to attend the ceremony of ending construction of the TurkStream gas pipeline, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in the ceremony of ending construction of the sea section of the TurkStream gas pipeline … The event will take place in Istanbul on November 19,” Ushakov told the Izvestiya newspaper.

The TurkStream pipeline project envisages the construction of a gas pipeline comprising two strings, each with the capacity to deliver 15.7 billion cubic meters (554 billion cubic feet) of gas per year.

The first leg is set to bring Russian gas across the Black Sea directly to Turkey, while the other one will run across the Turkish territory to its western border, transporting natural gas to countries in the south and southeast of Europe.

In late October, Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said that the country could also join the TurkStream project in order to improve Serbia's energy security.

Putin's visit to Belgrade is expected to take place in mid-January, according to the Serbian side, however, the exact dates are yet to be revealed.

Russia is reportedly considering options for extending the pipeline through Bulgaria and Serbia or through Greece and Italy.

Peskov says there are difficulties in organizing Putin’s meeting with Trump in Argentina

No final agreement about a possible meeting between Russian and US Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, on the margins of a Group of Twenty summit in Argentina has been reach as there are certain difficulties in its arrangement, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday.

"Circumstances keep on changing. They may change with our American colleagues and with us, that is why there are no firm agreements," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel.

According to Peskov, some Argentinian sources say that Trump is planning to shorten his stay in Argentina to one day. "So, we cannot say how it fits into such plans," Peskov added.

The G20 summit will be held in Buenos Aires on November 30-December 1.

Boeing 737 makes emergency landing in Norilsk

The plane Boeing 737-800 operated by NordStar has made an emergency landing at Norilsk Airport, spokeswoman for the West-Siberian Transport Prosecutor’s Office Oksana Gorbunova told TASS on Monday.

"The emergency landing occurred at 06:15 (02:15 Moscow time). The Boeing 737-800 of the NordStar air company was en route from Domodedovo [Moscow] to Norilsk. When it was approaching to land, a flap extension sensor was activated. The landing was carried out well," she said.

Gorbunova reported that there were 166 adult passengers, 20 children and six crew members onboard the plane.

The return flight, scheduled for 07:00 (03:00 Moscow time), was deferred for two hours, as the company decided to examine the landed aircraft. The passengers will go to Moscow by a reserve flight.

The Norilsk transport service is checking the implementation of the legislation on the safety of flights and monitoring the observance of the rights of the passengers from the delayed flight.

First Angara A5V Heavy-Class Rocket Launch to Take Place in 2026 – Roscosmos

The first heavy-lift Angara A5V carrier rocket equipped with a hydrogen space tug will be launched from the Vostochny space center in Russia's Far East in 2026, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday.

The rocket’s launch was initially set to take place in 2027, according to the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.

"On Vostochny [space center]… 2026 — the beginning of flight tests of Angara 5V with a hydrogen stage," Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

The Angara family of space launch vehicles is designed to provide lifting capabilities of between 2 and 40.5 metric tonnes into low Earth orbit.

It has been in development since 1995 and was the first orbit-capable rocket developed by Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union to replace the older Proton-M rockets.


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Spy scandal to cool down Russia-Austria relations, says expert
November 12, 19:59
Earlier in November, the Austrian authorities detained a spy who allrgerdly worked for Russian intelligence for two decades
MOSCOW, November 12. /TASS/. The spy row will not fundamentally affect relations between Moscow and Vienna but will make them less friendly, the deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Europe, Vladislav Belov, told TASS on Monday in comments on the situation around a retired Austrian officer suspected of leaking state secrets to Russia.

"Austria holds the European Union presidency until the end of the year, and its relations with Russia are very good. Thus, it was necessary to mar these relations, and those who initiated this scandal will manage to cool down relations between Moscow and Vienna for a certain period of time," the expert said.
"This is a chess game, and the top public officials of both states will react adequately, but a row is a row. It won’t mar the essence of our relations, but will certainly tell on their positive state," the expert said.

"All countries are engaged in intelligence activity, and of course it is not limited to analytics - everybody is trying to obtain necessary information through all means available within the framework of intelligence activity," Belov said.

"When certain things surface, the state counter-intelligence agencies have different possibilities to react, and we often don’t even learn about this - there are certain things that are settled routinely [between the secret services of the two states]," he went on to say.

"However, here the situation was upgraded to a scandal, and this was not done by the Austrians, as it is clear that external services had provided information: somebody points at Germany, others speak about the UK," the expert said. He did not rule out that this could have been done by London or countries close to the UK "in order to continue a scandal around the Skripal case," he added.

He believes "Vienna was put in a situation in which it had to react publicly". "Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, President Alexander Van der Bellen - all top officials of the state were involved, and even the refusal of the Austrian foreign minister to pay a visit to Russia was linked with that scandal, although there could have been absolutely different reasons behind that," Belov stressed.

He believes that Austria will likely stop short at verbal censure, not to deteriorate bilateral relations. "The only minus in our relations is that the Russian-Austrian public forum ‘Sochi dialogue’ has not been launched as of yet," he said of the forum organized in a similar way as the Russian-German Petersburg Dialogue. An agreement on the forum was reached in Vienna in June 2018. "However, there are more organizational issues than political ones to that. So, I don’t see any real consequences apart from condemnation," the expert said.

Austria-Russia spy row

The Salzburg public prosecutor’s office is verifying charges advanced by the Austrian defense ministry against a 70-year-old retired officer who is suspected of leaking state secrets, a spokesman for the Salzburg public prosecutor’s office told TASS on Friday.

In case the information is proved to be correct, the man may face a term of up to ten years behind bars. According to the Austrian defense ministry, the retired colonel is suspected of working for Russian intelligence since the 1990s and providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery and the migration crisis. The suspect is said to have received 300,000 euro for his 20-year service.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday that Austria’s law enforcement agencies were probing into a case of a retired Austrian colonel who was suspected of spying for Russia. Foreign Minister Kneissl has cancelled her visit to Russia and summoned Russian diplomats to clarify the situation over the spying allegations. The Austrian top diplomat planned to visit Russia on December 2-3. She warned that the incident could tell adversely on relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was unpleasantly surprised to see no request from Vienna for explanations over the affair.

Exports of Russia's wheat and meslin flour expanded by 54.3 percent from January through September of 2018 against the same period a year ago, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Customs Service.

In terms of money, the grain exports reportedly amounted to $6 billion, marking a 62 percent growth. In September alone, the value of grain exports increased by 1.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago and totaled $898.1 million.

The data also showed that imports of grains to Russia dropped 11.1 percent in the first nine months of the year, totaling $245 million. Imports of barley declined by an enormous 94 percent to two million dollars, while purchases of corn by Russian producers fell to $127.6 million, marking a 7.6 percent drop.

On Thursday, Russian agricultural ministry raised the forecast of wheat exports for the current marketing year to 35 million metric tons. In late October, the ministry also increased projections for grain crop to 109 million metric tons from 105 million metric tons, citing improved conditions in Siberia. However, Russian producers managed to harvest 112.7 million tons of grain as of October 25.

Russia has captured more than half of the world's wheat market in recent years, becoming the world's biggest exporter of grain, thanks to bumper harvests and attractive pricing. In 2016, Russia became the world leader in wheat exports. Since the early 2000s, its share of the world wheat market has quadrupled. Source: RT



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Putin, Trump to discuss INF Treaty on sidelines of G20 summit — Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump intend to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of this month. Among the issues they hope to discuss is the US decision to quit the INF Treaty, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Monday.

"[At the events in Paris on November 11] Putin had a quick word with Trump," Peskov said. "They agreed they had a great deal to discuss, including the INF Treaty. They decided to do this at the G20 summit in Argentina," Peskov said.

Putin and Trump last Sunday attended ceremonies in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Originally the Russian and US leaders had agreed to use that opportunity for conducting separate bilateral negotiations only to postpone them at the request of the French side, because a Russian-US summit might have distracted the world public’s attention from the main theme of the events.

Last time Putin and Trump met in Helsinki last July. So far it was their first meeting not related with international forums. Before that Putin and Trump had met briefly on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany in July 2017 and the APEC summit in Vietnam in November 2017.

Kremlin comments on Putin-Netanyahu talks in Paris

MOSCOW, November 12. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a brief meeting in Paris on Sunday, focused on current issues of bilateral relations, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

"Putin spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu for some ten-fifteen minutes," Peskov said. "They discussed current issues of bilateral relations."

US special adviser to Afghanistan plans Moscow trip as Taliban gains ground – Kremlin

After years of struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, US special adviser Zalmay Khalilzad is planning to visit Russia to discuss a peace settlement, his Russian counterpart Zamir Kabulov said on Monday.

“I’ve known Khalilzad for a long time. We’ll meet again – he is planning to visit us,” Kabulov told reporters, adding that the parties may discuss the launch of direct talks between the US-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban if Khalilzad is“ready to do it.”

The Russian official stressed that Moscow supports the “regionalist approach” to a peace settlement in the war-torn nation and doesn’t seek competition with the US in Afghanistan, but at the same time can’t just stand by and “idly observe” the ongoing deterioration of the situation on the ground.

A Taliban delegation recently flew to Moscow to hold separate discussions on the ways to end the conflict in the country.

In recent years, US officials became more receptive to the idea of direct peace talks with the Taliban.

“This is not going to be won militarily. This is going to a political solution,” General Austin S. Miller, who lead the NATO mission in Afghanistan, admitted last week. Khalilzad, meanwhile, reportedly met with Taliban officials in Qatar last month.

Despite the US’ decade-long efforts to quell the militants, Afghanistan has seen an upsurge in Taliban activity in recent years. The US government’s own estimates indicate that the Washington-backed government in Kabul has uncontested control of just over 57 percent of the country, while a recent BBC study revealed that the jihadists are “openly active” in about 70 percent of the nation.

Heroin production has skyrocketed, and frequent terror attacks continue to claim the lives of Afghan servicemen and civilians.

Taliban ready to take part in next Moscow meeting on Afghanistan — diplomat

"Principally, the Taliban is ready," Kabulov said. "They like the idea very much, they are ready to take part."

According to the diplomat, Moscow expects that Kabul will send both the delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council and official government representatives. "This will make any inter-Afghan agreements more legitimate," Kabulov stressed.

The Afghan government demanded holding direct talks with the Taliban movement on the sidelines of the Moscow-format consultations, but the Taliban refused, he said.

"The Afghan government demanded direct talks with representatives of the Taliban movement on the sidelines of these Moscow consultations," he said. "The Taliban’s leadership flatly refuses to talk with the current Afghanistan’s government, considering it to be the puppet one brought into power in Kabul by the Americans."

The second meeting of the Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan was held on November 9. Taking part in it were deputy foreign ministers, special envoys and observers from Russia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, the US, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A delegation of the Taliban movement’s political office took part in an international meeting of this level for the first time.

Taliban up for talks with Kabul but wants foreign troop pullout first, says Russian envoy

The Taliban (outlawed in Russia) is ready to hold negotiations with the government of Afghanistan only after reaching a deal with the US on a timetable for the pullout of foreign troops from the country, Director of the Ministry's Second Asia Department and Kremlin Special Envoy for Afghanistan told a press conference on Monday after the second meeting of the Moscow-hosted consultations on Afghanistan.

"They [Taliban] have outlined their plan of action in detail. (They) said they will be ready to speak with the Afghan government only after fixing a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan with the US," he added.

"As confidence-building measures under a preliminary plan, the Taliban demand that all political prisoners be freed and anti-Taliban sanctions, which were imposed back in 1997, be lifted," the diplomat pointed out.

The second meeting of the Moscow-hosted consultations on Afghanistan was held on November 9. Senior diplomats, special representatives and supervisors from Russia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, the US, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in the event. The Taliban’s political office delegation attended such international meeting for the first time.

Russia seeks to cultivate amicable ties with Islamic countries, Putin says

Moscow places great importance on cooperation with Muslim countries, according to a greetings message by Russian President Vladimir Putin to participants of the 4th meeting of the Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group in Makhachkala, which was conveyed by Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov.

"The Russian Federation considers it hugely important to foster friendly ties with Muslim countries both at a bilateral level and within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Our positions are rather close regarding many urgent issues on the global and regional agenda. We jointly favor the creation of a fair and democratic world order, based on rule of law, and free of any forms of biased strong-arm dictates or economic and information pressure," the Russian leader pointed out.

"Moscow and countries of the Islamic World have constructive economic, scientific and technical and humanitarian cooperation, as well as partnership in settling local conflicts and crisis situations. The current meeting of the group is dedicated to a very serious problem, which is combating terrorism and extremist ideology by working with young people, and coordinating efforts in the areas of education and enlightenment," Putin emphasized.

The Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group was set up in 2006 under the leadership of Russian statesman and diplomat Yevgeny Primakov, and Tatarstan’s First President Mintimer Shaimiev after Russia had joined the OIC as an observer. The Group is made up of 33 well-known public figures from 27 countries, including ex-prime ministers, foreign ministers, and grand religious scholars from Indonesia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and other states. President Minnikhanov is chairman of the Group, whose meeting is being held in Dagestan this year.

Caucasus, Central Asia natives prevalent among IS militants in Afghanistan, says ministry

Natives of Central Asia, the North Caucasus and the Volga Region make up a sizeable part of militants of the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia) in Afghanistan, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov told reporters at a news conference following second meeting of the Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan on Monday.

"We have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the Islamic State’s main forces are trying to create its own network along Afghanistan’s northern border with the Central Asian states. Natives of Central Asia, the North Caucasus and the Volga Region make up a considerable, if not a dominant part of its militants. This fact is indicative of the possible goals and tasks of that organization, more precisely, the goals and tasks set for them by their external sponsors," the diplomat said.

"Both Afghan delegations (of the government and the Taliban - TASS) were strongly opposed to the IS, pointing to the need to fight against that international terrorist organization. In addition to achieving peace in Afghanistan, there is another point of coincidence between the warring parties. It is a fact that the Islamic State emerged because of the current strife in Afghan society and among the people. That made it possible for the IS to gain a foothold, they are actively creating their own network," Kabulov stressed.

According to Russia’s envoy, Moscow notes a slowdown in the number of Islamic State militants in Afghanistan due losing ground in Syria and expects the Afghan authorities and the international military contingent deployed to that country to vigorously deal with the destruction of identified terrorists. "We expect the Afghan government and international troops, which are there allegedly to combat terrorism to deal with that first and foremost. We expect both reasonable explanations and specific actions from them," he said.

Moscow satisfied with Organization of Islamic Cooperation observer status, says diplomat

Russia has no plans of joining the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) where it holds observer status, Russian Ambassador-at-Large Konstantin Shuvalov told TASS on Monday.

"The issue of raising Russia’s status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is not considered essential, since under the organization’s charter it admits states with a Muslim majority population," said Shuvalov, who is also Russia’s Special Envoy for Cooperation with organizations of Islamic states.

"Based on this principle, Russia is not eligible but we do maintain cooperation that is of interest for us as an observer nation, and this suits us very well and helps solve the tasks of bringing (our) positions closer," the diplomat said.

"There is ongoing political dialogue that helps expand bilateral cooperation with certain Muslim states. We believe that we achieve our goals and work within the existing framework," Shuvalov went on to say.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization that was set up in 1969. Until June 2011, its name had been the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The OIC is headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The highest governing body - the Conference of Kings, Heads of State and Government is convened every three years. At present, the OIC brings together 57 states, and Russia has had observer status since 2005.

Russian modern weaponry enjoys strong demand among Arab countries

The market of Arab and Middle East countries accounts for a considerable share of the order book of Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport (part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec), the Rosoboronexport press office quoted its CEO Alexander Mikheyev as saying on Monday.

At the fifth Bahrain International Air Show 2018 (BIAS), Rosoboronexport will feature Russia’s most advanced weapon systems, including the S-400 long-range air defense missile complex, the Pantsyr medium-range surface-to-air missile/gun system, Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems and the newest Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A military transport planes.

"The weapons labelled ‘made in Russia’ enjoy enhanced demand as they have proven their worth in rough combat and climatic conditions at sea, on the ground and in the air. And this demand is growing: Rosoboronexport’s order book has recently exceeded the mark of $50 billion, a considerable share of which has been formed by contracts with Arab states," Mikheyev said.

The delegations of the countries from that region are expected to show enhanced interest at the air show in the Su-35 multirole super-maneuverable fighter jet, MiG-29M/M2 multi-purpose frontline fighters and Yak-130 combat training aircraft.

Rosoboronexport will also showcase such new products on its export list as the Il-78MK-90A aerial refueling tanker and the Il-76MD-90A(E) military transport plane.

In the category of army aviation, Rosoboronexport will feature the Mil Mi-28NE attack helicopter, the Kamov Ka-52 reconnaissance and attack helicopter, the Mi-35M transport/attack helicopter, the Ka-226T and Ansat light multi-purpose rotorcraft and the Mi-26T2 heavy transport helicopter.

According to Rosoboronexport, Russian air defense systems are expected to attract considerable interest. Russia’s state arms exporter also expects Arab and Middle East countries to display enhanced interest in S-400 Triumf long-range air defense missile systems, and also Buk-M2E and Tor-M2E surface-to-air missile complexes, the Pantsyr-S1 air defense missile/gun system and the man-portable Verba air defense missile system.

The company’s display stand at the Bahrain International Air Show will also feature Russian-made Takhion and Orlan-10E drones, the air reconnaissance system with the Orion-E long-endurance drone and the electronic warfare complex with small-size Repellent unmanned aerial vehicles. Overall, Rosoboronexport will feature over 250 weapon systems at the Bahrain International Air Show 2018.

Russian Baltic Fleet warships destroy notional enemy’s submarine in drills

The small anti-submarine warfare ships Zelenodolsk and Urengoi from the Leningrad naval base of Russia’s Baltic Fleet have held drills to search for and destroy a simulated enemy’s submarines in the Baltic Sea, the Fleet’s press office reported on Monday.

The diesel-electric submarine Dmitrov simulated an enemy in the drills. It was tasked to launch a torpedo attack and notionally destroy a naval group.

"During the drills, the small anti-submarine warfare ships Zelenodolsk and Urengoi carried out measures in the designated area of the Baltic Sea to search for submarines and practice anti-submarine maneuvering and submarine tracking. A major episode of the drills involved torpedo fire and depth bombing by the crews of the anti-submarine warfare ships," the Fleet’s press office said in a statement. The crew of the submarine also carried out a practical torpedo attack.

In addition, the anti-submarine warfare ships held training on their board to practice ship survivability, air defense, anti-sabotage measures and joint maneuvering in complex weather conditions.

The Baltic Fleet’s small anti-submarine warfare ships Zelenodolsk and Urengoi are armed with the AK-176 and AK-630 air defense artillery systems, RBU-6000 rocket launchers and 533mm artillery tubes and are outfitted with modern sonars. The warships are designated to search for, track and destroy submarines in the close-in maritime and coastal zones.


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Pilots destroy 'enemy' submarines in military exercise off Kamchatka's coast

Anti-submarine pilots have located and destroyed a submarine of an 'enemy' off Russian Far Eastern Kamchatka's coast, official spokesman of the Russian Pacific Fleet Captain 2nd Rank Nikolay Voskresensky said on Tuesday.

"In accordance with the military exercise plan, two Il-38 aircraft were send to the area where a submarine was allegedly located to perform tasks on anti-submarine combat. They set up radio buoys in the area," Voskresensky said.

To complicate the tasks for pilots, the submarine was instructed to attempt to flee if located. However, when one buoy located it, the Il-38 pilots calculated the exact coordinates and started following the submarine. After establishing the submarine's route and speed, aircraft dropped anti-submarine bombs on it.

Russia’s sole aircraft carrier gets no serious damage after floating dock incident

Russia’s aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov has got no serious damage after a crane fell onto its deck when the warship was exiting the floating dock at the 82nd Ship Repair Factory, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said on Tuesday.

"Upon the warship’s arrival at the place of its repairs at the 35th Ship Repair Factory (a branch of the Zvyozdochka Ship Repair Center), a special commission started evaluating the damage. A preliminary inspection has found that the Admiral Kuznetsov did not get any substantial damage," Krivoruchko said at a conference call led by First Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Tsalikov.

According to him, "All the measures for restoring the warship’s technical preparedness are being carried out in a planned manner and the required adjustments have already been made to the work schedule and won’t affect the timeframe of completing the works under the contract."

According to the deputy defense minister, dock crane No. 2 fell onto the deck of the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov on October 30 when the warship was being floated out from the PD-50 floating dock, which suddenly went underwater.

Court denies parole to convict imprisoned for plotting assassination of Putin

A court in the Samara Region has refused to release Kazakh citizen Ilya Pyanzin on parole, who was convicted in 2013 of plotting an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin, the regional prosecutor’s office told TASS on Tuesday.

"The court reviewed Pyanzin’s request and turned it down. The judge agreed with the prosecutor, who objected to the convict’s release, because he had repeatedly violated prison rules," the source said. The court’s decision has not taken effect yet. Pyanzin has ten days to file an appeal.

The Moscow City Court on September 10, 2013 sentenced Pyanzin to ten years in a maximum-security prison for plotting an assassination attempt against Putin. Pyanzin admitted his guilt and copped a plea deal. In exchange, he was sentenced to a prison for no longer than two-thirds of the maximum term.

Investigators found that Pyanzin, while staying in Ukraine in December 2011, accepted a proposal from Adam Osmayev and Ruslan Madayev to join an armed group created on orders from the warlord of the illegal armed gang Imarat Kavkaz Doku Umarov. The group planned to detonate a car bomb along the presidential motorcade’s route.

For some time, the plotters had tested explosive devices in Odessa. On January 4, 2012, as they were in the process of cobbling togehter another makeshift explosive device, a fire erupted killing Madayev. The Ukrainian authorities detained Pyanzin and Osmayev. At the request of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office Pyanzin was eventually extradited to Russia.

Russia to deliver 3D-bioprinter to orbital outpost in December

A copy of the Organ-Avt bioprinter devised to grow living tissue will be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) during the launch of a new expedition from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the orbital outpost, Russia’s Cosmonaut Training Center said on its website on Tuesday.

"The magnetic 3D-bioprinter, the second copy of equipment for which will be delivered to the station aboard a Soyuz MS-11 manned transportation spacecraft," the Cosmonaut Training Center said in a statement.

The magnetic 3D-bioprinter is devised to grow living tissues and eventually organs and it can also be used to study the influence of outer space conditions on living organisms during lengthy flights.

The experiment has been devised by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a bio-technical research laboratory, which is a Russian start-up and a subsidiary of Invitro company.

The plans to deliver the bioprinter’s first copy failed after the aborted launch of a Soyuz-FG booster with a manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur spaceport on October 11.

On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

Following a smooth liftoff, the Soyuz’s booster malfunctioned between the first and second stages of separating, whereupon the crew was forced to abort the flight and switch to ballistic descent. The manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft ended up landing in the Kazakh steppe.

This was the first emergency landing with this type of carrier rocket over the past 35 years.

As was reported earlier, the launch of the next expedition to the ISS is scheduled for December 3 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The new expedition will comprise Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency David Saint-Jacques.

Occupational fatalities: Over 1,700 Russians died from workplace injuries last year

More than 1,700 people in Russia died from work-related injuries last year with roughly 25% of this total being construction workers, Russian Supreme Court Justice Oleg Zatelepin told a plenary session dedicated to criminal cases linked to occupational safety violations.

"Statistics showed that a total of 37,560 cases of workplace injuries were registered in Russia in 2017. Occupational accidents claimed the lives of 1,722 workers," he added. Most of them were construction workers (24%), followed by those employed in the manufacturing industry (15%), agriculture and forestry, hunting and fishing (13%), cargo transportation and storage (12.6%), and in the mineral extraction (8%) sectors.

"In the general breakdown of the causes behind last year’s fatal accidents, almost every third (30%) reason for any accident was due to the unsatisfactory organization of work, coming from employers’ violating safe working conditions and job safety requirements. Also, a significant number of accidents was due to workers themselves having violated those requirements," Zatelepin stated.

The Russian Supreme Court Justice pointed out that the number of persons in Russia convicted of the accidents that caused grievous bodily harm, or death, is not on the decline. Last year, 132 individuals were convicted under Article 143 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Violation of Labor Protection Rules") compared with 134 persons a year earlier. That being said, 168 persons were convicted under Article 216 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Violation of Safety Rules in Mining, Building, and Other Activities") compared with 124 in 2016, while 17 persons were convicted under Article 217 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Violation of Safety Rules in Explosive Facilities") as opposed to 18 persons in 2016.

Weapons and equipment of Russian chemical defense troops (PHOTOS)

The day of Russian Troops of Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense is a memorable date for Russian Armed Forces which is celebrated on November 13. Russian Chemical Defense Troops are tasked with assessing radiological and chemical environment, protecting units against chemical contamination, reducing the visibility of troops and facilities as well as conducting attacks by using flame-incendiary means. Weapons and equipment of Russian chemical troops - in this photo gallery by TASS.

Kremlin: Putin, Medvedev away on duty poses no dilemmas in functions thanks to technology

The Kremlin tries to avoid any simultaneous foreign trips by the Russian president and the prime minister, but there are no hard and fast rules excluding this type of situation, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

"When planning trips they [Kremlin administration] try to avoid situations like these, but there is no clear rule that this is unacceptable," Peskov said.

The Kremlin spokesman stressed that today’s IT technologies allow the country’s leadership to fulfill their duties from any spot on the world map so there is no need for their substitution during their simultaneous absence.

"We live in a century of communications. Modern satellite and other means of communications, including closed ones, enable the prime minister and the head of state to fulfill their duties regardless of where they are," Peskov noted.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is paying a visit to Italy’s Palermo on November 12-13 where he is representing Russia’s delegation at an international conference on Libya. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently on a three-day state visit to Singapore, where he plans to take part in the Russia-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit.

Heavy flamethrowers unit assumes combat duty in northwest Russia

A company armed with TOS-1A Solntsepyok (Scorching Sun) heavy flamethrower systems has been set up within the radiation, chemical and biological defense regiment of the combined arms army in the Western Military District, the District’s press office reported on Tuesday.

The heavy flamethrowers company is based in the Leningrad Region in northwest Russia, the press office said.

Before the company was set up, drills were held at a proving range in the Leningrad Region, using Solntsepyok heavy flamethrowers and RPO-A rocket-propelled infantry flamethrowers to practice strikes against enemy engineering fortifications. Now it has been officially announced that a new unit armed with TOS-1A heavy flamethrowers has been set up.

"A unit of heavy flamethrower systems of the Western Military District has been formed in the Leningrad Region. The regiment has completed establishing the unit of heavy flamethrower systems, which has received TOS-1A Solntsepyok weapons as its armament. Also, reconnaissance units have received the most advanced RKhM-6 chemical reconnaissance vehicles under the defense procurement program this year," Commander of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Regiment Colonel Alexei Suslov was quoted by the District’s press office as saying.

The TOS-1A Solntsepyok heavy flamethrower is a multiple launch rocket system, which comprises a BM-1 combat vehicle, a TZM-T transporter-loader and an ammunition load of rockets. The TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is a unique weapon by its incorporated technical solutions, assigned combat missions and combat efficiency and is unrivaled in the world.

The TOS-1A is capable of firing both thermobaric rockets and smoke-incendiary munitions. The flamethrower is designed to set ablaze and destroy buildings and structures and damage an enemy’s lightly armored vehicles.
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