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The Courts

Submission + - Western Governments Condemn Russian Courts (csmonitor.com)

reporter writes: According to a report just published by "The Washington Post", "The White House and foreign ministries across Europe had decried Monday's [court] verdict [against Mikhail Khodorkovsky] as raising questions about the Kremlin's commitment to boosting the rule of law and judicial independence and said it was an example of selective justice." Upon direct orders from dictator Vladimir Putin, the Russian "legal" system is brutalizing Khodorkovsky. In 2003, Khodorkovsky dared to use his wealth and his influence to support the democratic political forces in Russia. The ruling elite, including Putin, reacted violently; they arrested Khodorkovsky and threw him into prison for 8 hears. He was due to be released in 2011, but the latest verdict by a Russian court may have extended the period of his incarceration to 2017.

The report just published by the "Christian Science Monitor" offers another view of this travesty of justice.

The Courts

Submission + - Russian Court Decides Against Political Prisoner (wsj.com)

reporter writes: According to a report just published by the "Wall Street Journal", "A Moscow court Monday found tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky guilty of embezzling and laundering billions of dollars worth of oil from OAO Yukos, the company he once controlled, confirming widely held expectations of a conviction in a case that has come to define the rule of Vladimir Putin.". This "legal" judgment is the latest attempt by the Kremlin to silence Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

His legal troubles began when he used his wealth and influence to support the liberal political forces in Russia. Putin warned him to back off from politics, but Khodorkovsky ignored the warning. So, in 2003, the Kremlin arrested his partner, Platon Lebedev. Still, Khodorkovsky continued to dabble in politics. The Kremlin responded by arresting Khodorkovsky himself, and a Russian court then sentenced him to 8 years in prison. Before today's court ruling against him, he would have been released from prison in 2011. Today's ruling means that he will likely stay in prison until 2017.

The report just published by the BBC offers another view of this matter.

News

Submission + - Fatal Online & Offline Journalism in Russia (pulitzercenter.org)

reporter writes: With the recent attempted murder of Oleg Kashin, we should examine the recent history of fatal journalism in and around Russia. A summary of the recent bloody history of Russian journalism appears at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and was written by Fatima Tlisova.

Freedom of the press and the safety of journalists should have special meaning for Slashdot and its many readers, for freedom of the press is the very reason that Slashdot can exist in the West. What can Slashdotters do to help journalists in and around Russia?

News

Submission + - Criminals Attempt to Kill Reporter in Russia

reporter writes: Russia is one of the most dangerous countries in which a journalist can work. Consider the case of Oleg Kashin. According to a report just published by "Foreign Policy", " the paramedics reached 30-year-old journalist Oleg Kashin Saturday morning at 12:40 a.m. He was lying outside the door to his apartment building in central Moscow, his face bloodied, his legs mangled, the ground covered in blood. 'He showed his hand to the doctor so he could see it was all broken,' a neighbor told TV reporters. The toll, tallied by various news sources, was chilling: two broken jaws, one broken leg, a fractured skull at the temple and a heavy concussion, blood in the lungs, fingers partially torn off at the joints, one of them later amputated. By the time Moscow woke up to the news on Saturday, Kashin was already in an artificially induced coma.

At Kommersant, the newspaper where Kashin works, no one doubted that the attack was related to his journalism. 'The thing that bothers me is that at the moment of the beating, they broke his fingers,' the editor in chief said in a radio interview. 'It is completely obvious that the people who did this did not like what he was saying and what he was writing.' Kashin's iPhone, wallet, and other personal belongings remained on his person, untouched.
"

The "New York Times" has also published a report of this horrific crime.

Dmitri A. Medvedev has ordered Russia’s general prosecutor and interior minister to supervise the investigation of this crime.

How can Slashdot help to bring the criminals to justice? Buddha be with Oleg Kashin as he barely hangs onto life.
News

Submission + - Suicide Bombers Wreak Havoc in Moscow (guardian.co.uk)

reporter writes: About four hours ago, two women wearing belts loaded with explosives walked into two subway stations — the Lubyanka station and the Park Kultury station — in Moscow and detonated the belts. Twenty-two people died at the former station, and 12 died at the latter. Both stations are near the heardquarters of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the K.G.B. "Moscow's red Sokolnicheskaya line, where the first explosion occurred, is used by members of Russia's security service to get to work."

The news wires are lighting up with this story. See the reports at "Times Online", "The New York Times", "Telegraph.co.uk", and "guardian.co.uk"

The Military

Submission + - USA and Russia have concluded arms-control treaty. (nytimes.com)

reporter writes: According to a news article just published by the "New York Times" (NYT), Washington and the Kremlin have finalized an agreement on limiting nuclear weapons and related hardware. Notably, the agreement does not restrict American development of an anti-missile shield.

The NYT reports, "The new treaty will reduce the binding limit on deployed strategic nuclear warheads by more than one-quarter, and on launchers by half. It will reestablish an inspection and verification regime, replacing one that expired in December. But while the pact recognizes the dispute between the two countries over American plans for missile defense based in Europe, it will not restrict the United States from building such a shield. ... The specific arms reductions embedded in the new treaty amount to a continuing evolution rather than a radical shift in the nuclear postures of both countries. According to people in Washington and Moscow who were briefed on the new treaty, it will lower the legal limit on deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 each, from the 2,200 allowed as of 2012 under the previous treaty. It would lower the limit on launchers to 800 from the 1,600 now permitted. Nuclear-armed missiles and heavy bombers would be capped at 700 each."

News

Submission + - Russian police raid office of environmental group. (wsj.com)

reporter writes: According to a disturbing report issued by the "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ), the world's largest body of fresh water is about to meet its demise. Known as Lake Baikal, this pristine creation of Mother Nature "contains one-fifth of the world's unfrozen fresh water and has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site".

Unfortunately for humankind, Lake Baikal is situated near a paper mill now owned by Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy confidant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The mill had been dumping toxic waste into the lake from 1966 until October 2008. In 2008, a court banned the further discharge of waste into the lake, and Deripaska shutdown the mill.

Then, last week Putin signed a decree that removes "waste discharges in the production of pulp, paper and cardboard from a list of operations banned by environmental legislation in and around" Lake Baikal. This decree legalized the continued dumping of toxic waste into the lake.

Freed from inconvenient environmental rules, Deripaska will soon restart the mill. He claims that he has upgraded the technology of the mill to the point that it will "not do any ecological harm to the lake".

According to a new report just issued by the WSJ, "Russian police this week raided the offices of a prominent environmental group that had protested government plans to reopen [the paper mill owned by Deripaska] on the shores of Siberia's Lake Baikal.." The environmental group is Baikal Ecological Wave. The police justified the raid by claiming that the organization is using unlicensed computer software.

In the past, the Kremlin has used the same tactic to shutdown organizations protesting injustices committed by dictator Vladimir Putin and his henchmen.

Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have issued a statement supporting Baikal Ecological Wave. Though the statement is courageous, it likely cannot rescue the Russian environmentalists from prison sentences based on "evidence" fabricated by the Kremlin.

The Military

Submission + - The Russian military tests stealth fighter jet. (washingtonpost.com)

reporter writes: According to a report issued by the Associated Press, the Russian military has just flown its first stealth fighter jet, the Sukhoi T-50. Like the American F-22, the T-50 is a 5th-generation fighter jet. Supposedly, New Delhi contributed to the research and development of the T-50.

The report by AFP offers some photos of the aircraft. Another report by Telegraph.co.uk suggests that the aircraft is intended to be a frontline fighter for the Russian military in 2040.

News

Submission + - Boris Yeltin's daughter blogs against Putin (telegraph.co.uk)

reporter writes: According to a report by telegraph.co.uk, Tatyana Yumasheva (the daughter of President Boris Yeltsin) is writing a blog that condemns the distorted history sanctioned by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Also, she "portrays him in a light that will be alien to millions of Russians, drip-fed the image of him as a macho action man figure who knows no weakness or indecision. After her father offered Mr Putin the presidency — partly it is claimed because he offered a guarantee that no Yeltsin acolytes would be prosecuted for corruption — she recalls how daunted and unsure of himself the former KGB officer appeared."

Yumasheva may be using this blog as a launching pad for a political career that includes the presidency of Russia. Will she succeed? Only time will tell.

News

Submission + - Putin calls for rights to be upheld in Caucasus (washingtonpost.com)

reporter writes: In a stunning reversal of previous statements, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has demanded that the Kremlin-controlled governments in the North Caucasus (1) respect human rights (HR) and (2) support HR groups as they conduct their work. Putin's order comes after accomplices of the Kremlin assassinated Natalya Estemirova in Chechnya. She apparently had irritated its Kremlin-backed president by accusing him of murdering innocent women and children.

According to the article by "The Washington Post", "Estemirova's bullet-ridden body was found in Ingushetia hours after she disappeared in neighboring Chechnya. A few months before Estemirova died, Stanislav Markelov — a lawyer she had worked with in Chechnya — was gunned down in a daylight attack in central Moscow."

Perhaps, this amount of bloodshed against genuinely good people was too much even for Putin. Has he genuinely changed? Only time will tell.

News

Submission + - Imminent Death of the Largest Lake on the Earth (wsj.com) 1

reporter writes: According to a disturbing report by the "Wall Street Journal", the world's largest body of fresh water is about to meet its demise. Known as Lake Baikal, this pristine creation of Mother Nature "contains one-fifth of the world's unfrozen fresh water and has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site".

Unfortunately for humankind, Lake Baikal is situated near a paper mill now owned by Oleg Deripaska, a wealthy confidant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The mill had been dumping toxic waste into the lake from 1966 until October 2008. In 2008, a court banned the further discharge of waste into the lake, and Deripaska shutdown the mill.

Then, last week Putin signed a decree that removes "waste discharges in the production of pulp, paper and cardboard from a list of operations banned by environmental legislation in and around" Lake Baikal. This decree legalized the continued dumping of toxic waste into the lake.

Freed from inconvenient environmental rules, Deripaska will soon restart the mill. He claims that he has upgraded the technology of the mill to the point that it will "not do any ecological harm to the lake".

Space

Submission + - Kremlin will save earth by intercepting asteroid. (wsj.com) 1

reporter writes: After 60 years of developing advanced missiles to destroy the West, the Kremlin is in a good position to use that technology to send a projectile to intercept asteroid Apothis. According to an oped by a well-respected physicist writing for the "Wall Street Journal", the asteroid is on a collision course for the earth and will reach it within 26 years. The Russians are keenly aware of the danger "since [an asteroid] hit Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, flattening about a thousand square miles of forest, destroying about 100 million trees, and leaving a huge scar in the Earth. The object that struck Siberia was probably only 100 feet across, yet it created a blast about 1,000 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb." By contrast, "Apophis is a whopper, measuring 1,000 feet across, about the size of the Rose Bowl."

The Russians have several options for nudging the asteroid away from the earth. "One likely scenario is to nudge the asteroid while it is still in deep space so that it eventually misses the Earth. This deflection might be done via rockets to push the asteroid years before it passes the Earth. Or, the gravity of the spacecraft itself may be used to gently tug on its trajectory. Yet another proposal is to use mirrors and even paint to increase the pressure of sunlight so that, over decades, its trajectory is modified."

We should hope that Russian missile technology is as excellent as all the exaggerations that the American Department of Defense concocted during the Cold War. Buddha help us if the Russians cannot nudge the asteroid.

News

Submission + - Russian Judges Resign After Condemning the Kremlin (wsj.com) 1

reporter writes: According to a report just published by the "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ), two senior judges on the Constitutional Court of Russia have harshly condemned the Kremlin for its "undermining the democratic institutions and judicial independence".

"The tensions appear to have started with an interview published in August in Spain's El País newspaper with Vladimir Yaroslavtsev, a 15-year veteran of the court appointed by then-President Boris Yeltsin. In it, Mr. Yaroslavtsev is quoted as saying 'the strengthening of authoritarianism is leading to greater judicial dependence,' referring to the presidencies of Vladimir Putin and his handpicked successor, Mr. Medvedev.

'The security services can do what they want and all judges can do is ratify their decisions,' he was quoted as saying.

In late October, Anatoly Kononov, who has been a justice since the court was formed in 1991 and was also appointed by Mr. Yeltsin, said in an interview with a Russian weekly Sobesednik that he supported 'the greater part' of what Mr. Yaroslavtsev had said to El País.
"

Under pressure from the Kremlin, "Mr. Kononov, 62 years old, had resigned from his seat on the court effective Jan. 1 'for health reasons.' Mr. Yaroslavtsev, 57, gave up his post as the court's representative at Russia's Council of Judges, an organization with wide powers in judiciary appointments, but will remain a justice ..."

News

Submission + - Russian Train Wreck Tied to Terrorist Bomb (nytimes.com)

reporter writes: The "New York Times" (NYT) has just issued a report describing the aftermath of the bombing of a train often used by government officials. According to the report, the explosion and subsequent derailment of the train killed about 25 people. An analysis of the site of the explosion indicates that the bomb is a homemade device.

According to another report by the NYT, some residents of villages near the site of the explosion offered their help to the victims and arrived at the scene of the tragedy long before the federal rescue workers arrived. One villager, Anatoly Myagchenkov, "spent three hours taking apart train seats, and he estimates that he withdrew 13 bodies in that time. While trying to clear a car of shards of twisted metal, he bent down and realized that what he was looking at was a piece of a human brain."

The Kremlin suspects that the terrorists who caused this tragedy come from "the Caucasus region in southern Russia, which includes Chechnya".

However, given all the enemies that the Kremlin created during the 8-year rule of President Vladimir Putin, the terrorist could actually be a member of the Kremlin itself. Putin himself may be the next target.

News

Submission + - Bomb suspected in Russia train crash (guardian.co.uk)

reporter writes: According to a disturbing report just published by Guardian News (headquartered in Great Britain), "At least 22 people were feared dead and many more injured last night after an express train carrying hundreds of passengers from Moscow to St Petersburg derailed.

Early indications from government officials suggest a bomb may have been the cause, after investigators found a three-foot crater beneath the rails.

Russian Railways, the state-owned train operator, said four carriages of the luxury Nevsky Express came off the tracks near the town of Bologoye, 200 miles from Moscow, just after 9.30pm local time [on November 27].

In addition to those killed, more than 50 injured passengers required treatment at hospitals in St Petersburg.

An officer at the emergencies ministry said: 'A one metre-diameter hole has been found next to the railway track. Witnesses heard a loud slap before the accident. All of this could point to a possible act of terrorism.'
"

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the Federal Security Service (successor to the KGB) to investigate the "accident".

More information is available in a news report published by Voice of America.

Also, the "New York Times" has published a report (supplied by the Associated Press) that provides additional information.

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