Tag Archives: Russia

A Russian millionaire and politician has confessed to shooting a man he says he mistook for a bear.

A Russian millionaire and politician has confessed to shooting a man he says he mistook for a bear.

Igor Redkin was served a two-month house arrest sentence as an interim restrictive measure for accidentally shooting the man outside a dump near the village of Ozernovsky, in the Ust-Bolsheretsky district, according to state-owned news agency RIA.

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Germany arrests British embassy worker accused of spying for Russia

The British national, identified only as David S., is suspected of having passed documents onto a Russian intelligence service in exchange for cash from November 2020 at the latest, Germany’s federal prosecutor said in a statement.

The 57-year-old was arrested in the Berlin area on Tuesday as part of a joint British-German investigation, according to the Counter Terrorism Command of London’s Metropolitan Police.

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Vladimir Putin says Russia could have sunk UK warship without starting World War Three

The Russian navy can detect any enemy and launch an “unpreventable strike” if needed, President Vladimir Putin said on, Sunday July 25, weeks after a UK warship angered Moscow by passing the Crimea peninsula.

“We are capable of detecting any underwater, above-water, airborne enemy and, if required, carry out an unpreventable strike against it,” Putin said speaking at a navy day parade in St Petersburg.

Putin’s words follow an incident in the Black Sea in June when Russia said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of Crimea waters.

Britain rejected Russia’s account of the incident, saying it believed any shots fired were a pre-announced Russian “gunnery exercise”, and that no bombs had been dropped.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 but Britain and most of the world recognise the Black Sea peninsula as part of Ukraine, not Russia.

Putin said last month Russia could have sunk the British warship HMS Defender, that it accused of illegally entering its territorial waters, without starting World War Three and said the United States played a role in the “provocation” designed to reveal how Russian forces in Crimea reacted to such intrusions.

When asked if the world had stood on the precipice of World War Three during the standoff, Putin said: “Of course not.”

Even if we had sunk the ship it is hard to imagine that the world would have been on the verge of World War Three because those doing it (the provocation) know that they could not emerge as victors from such a war,” he added.

Putin accused the United States and Britain of planning the episode together, saying a U.S. spy plane had taken off from Greece earlier on the same day to watch how Russia would respond to the British warship.

“It was obvious that the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things work and where everything is located.”

Putin said he saw a political element to the incident, which took place shortly after he had met U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva.

“The meeting in Geneva had just happened, so why was this provocation needed, what was its goal? To underscore that those people (the Americans and British) do not respect Crimeans’ choice to join the Russian Federation,” he said.

The Russian leader accused London and Washington of a lack of gratitude, saying he had earlier this year given the order for Russian forces to pull back from near Ukraine’s borders after their build-up had generated concern in the West.

Russia unveils new ‘Checkmate’ fighter jet

‘Checkmate’ Fighter Jet

Russian aircraft makers unveiled a prototype of the stealth fighter dubbed “Checkmate” for the 68-year-old leader at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, ahead of its official unveiling later in the day, according to a statement from Rostec, the state-owned military giant which is responsible for exporting Russian technology.

Russian President Vladimir Putin got a sneak peek of a new fifth-generation lightweight single-engine fighter jet at an air show just outside of Moscow on Tuesday.

The head of Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, and the general director of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), Yury Slyusar, presented the warplane to Putin at the exhibition pavilion of the Sukhoi company.

The fighter prototype is unique and has not been developed before in Russia, according to a presentation by state-owned UAC.

A UAC press release said the fighter jet “combines innovative solutions and technologies” and has “low visibility and high flight performance.”

The company’s head, Slyusar, also touted the aircraft’s features on Russian state TV, describing the planes as “unique in their class” and adding that they have “a combat radius of 1,500 kilometers, the largest thrust-to-weight ratio, shortened takeoff and landing, more than seven tons of combat load, which is an absolute record for aircraft of this class.”

Its first flight is expected in 2023, Russian state media reported, citing a presentation shown to the Russian President.

UAC also expects deliveries of the new single-engine fighter to begin in 2026.

Earlier in the day, Putin lauded Russia’s aviation industry in a speech at the air show’s opening.

“What we see today in Zhukovsky clearly shows that Russian aviation has great potential for development, and our aircraft industry continues to create new competitive aircraft,” he said.

Dmitry Stefanovich, research fellow at the Center for International Security, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS) in Moscow, told reporters the focus of the Sukhoi fighter jet is likely to be on export and military-technical cooperation with other countries.

“This is a game-changing offer on the market,” Stefanovich said. “It’s been a long time since Russia demonstrated single-engine fighters. For a very long time, there haven’t been any new Russian light combat aircraft on the market. And no fifth generation as such.”

Countries such as UAE, Argentina, Vietnam and India may be the first to be lining up to sign contracts with Russia for the new jet, according to Stefanovich.

On Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it had tested its Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Grigorovich in the White Sea, hitting a land target on the Barents Sea more than 200 miles away.

“This is hardly a coincidence,” Stefanovich said. “Russia demonstrates in practice that it remains a very serious force in the development and production of advanced missile systems.”

Russia says people can decline its vaccine. But for many, they’ll get fired if they do

If you ask the Kremlin whether Covid-19 vaccination in Russia is voluntary, its officials will tell you it is. Yet authorities in Moscow have put together a policy that essentially gives people in public-facing roles little choice but to get their shots.

Faced with stubbornly low vaccination rates, Moscow authorities announced just over a week ago that at least 60% of staff in service industries — spanning everything from catering to housing and transport — must get vaccinated with at least one shot by July 15. 

Vaccination remains voluntary,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

But while Peskov says someone can refuse a vaccine, they just might lose their livelihood for doing so.

“If a Muscovite works in the service sector and he has to get a vaccine but he has made a decision not to get vaccinated, he simply has to stop working in the service sector. And if he wants to, he will look for a job in another place that is not connected with those areas where the mandatory presence of vaccinations is imputed,” he said. 

As of Monday, people in Moscow are now required to show to show proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test result or proof of a past Covid-19 infection in the last six months to be allowed entry to the city’s cafes and restaurants.

Russian officials have been giving regular updates on television and in briefings on the rapidly worsening situation across the country. Worrying images have started popping up again on Russian social media sites illustrating the increasing burden of coronavirus across the country. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg reported record high daily death tolls Monday, according to Russia’s anti-coronavirus crisis center.

Patients have been seen lying in hospital corridors in St. Petersburg — which is currently playing host to a number of Euro 2020 soccer matches — as an overburdened medical system battles an increasing number of infections. Images of queues of ambulances waiting outside hospitals to admit patients are reappearing.

Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin warned Monday that the burden was also growing on hospitals in the capital. “Over the past week, we have broken new records for the number of hospitalizations, people in intensive care, and the number of deaths from coronavirus,” he said, according to state media agency RIA Novosti. 

Despite being the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, for use in August 2020, Russia has since lagged behind much of the world in vaccination rates.

As of Monday, 23 million people in Russia — a country of around 146 million — had been vaccinated with at least one dose, the health minister told state media. Some 16.7 million people have had both shots, according to figures released by the government last week. That’s around 11% of the population. Around 46% of people in the US have been fully vaccinated. In the UK, it’s about 48%.

As of Monday, Russia had reported 5,472,941 coronavirus cases and 133,893 deaths, according to official state figures, though the true toll is believed to be much higher due in part to the way Russia classifies coronavirus deaths.

Even though the pandemic has hit Russia hard, the idea of being forced into vaccination is unpopular.

While the Russian government insists it has not introduced a blanket mandatory vaccination scheme, testimony from ordinary workers — who did not want their full names to be used — suggests a huge sense of pressure and urgency to get vaccinated across the board.

Among the Muscovites lining up outside a vaccination center opposite Gorky Park in the blistering June heat were people working in hospitality, construction and business, as well as students. The center’s receptionist said that in the last few days people had been lining up between 8 a.m. right through to closing time at 10 p.m.

“I have to get vaccinated because of my work, because I work in the catering industry,” said 29-year-old bartender Dmitry, who was waiting for his first shot

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“But I know that I would have to do this one way or another. Sooner or later they will press everyone to the point that we will all have to do it,” he said.  

Also waiting in line was Yegor, an IT specialist. Despite not having a client-facing role, he said he had no choice about taking the vaccine.

“My work made me,” he said, also declining to give his full name. “They told me at work that I need to [get vaccinated].” 

“I actually think it’s bad that they did this. It’s supposed to be voluntary, while in fact it is ‘voluntary-compulsory,'” Yegor said referring to an ironic term harking back to the Soviet-era meaning people have freewill, but in reality have no choice but to comply with what authorities want. 

“It is not right. Every person has to have a free choice whether or not to get vaccinated.”

Russian authorities have tried to cajole people to get the shot by offering sweeteners, such as free cars and circus tickets. But now they are also turning to more restrictive measures. Employees in Moscow face losing their jobs if they don’t get vaccinated when asked to, and employers could be subject to fines or administrative suspension of their businesses for up to 90 days if they don’t meet their targets.

Moscow authorities appear to have known the policy would face some resistance — they announced the new policy as Russians’ attention was drawn to a highly anticipated meeting between President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden.

Around 500 people protested in the Novopushkinsky square, in the center of Moscow, on Saturday, state-run media TASS reported. They were demanding the right to choose whether to be vaccinated, and to stop the dismissal of workers and immediately restore them in their jobs, according to independent monitoring site OVD-Info. They called for the removal of coronavirus restrictions in the catering industry “and any kind of Covid discrimination in society and business,” according OVD-Info.

62% of Russians don’t want a Sputnik shot

Beyond the Russian capital, other regions are also introducing restrictions. The governor of the southern Russian region of Krasnodar, home to the vacation resort city of Sochi, announced that from July 1, hotels will only accommodate guests with a negative coronavirus test result or a vaccination certificate, and from August 1, only vaccinated travellers will be allowed in. 

Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, has said compulsory vaccination could be introduced in other regions of the country “if necessary.”

Part of the major uphill battle for Russia is that vaccine hesitancy is rife in the country. A survey published last month by independent pollster Levada-Center suggested 62% of Russians are unwilling to get vaccinated with Sputnik V.  

Alexandra Arkhipova, a social anthropologist and researcher at the university RANEPA in Moscow, also said there was a “crisis of people’s confidence in political and medical institutions.” Arkhipova has been studying trends of social media engagement and internet searches of Russian citizens and said that many believe there is no “clear and transparent information” about the vaccination process, so they are driven to look for ways to get around the system.

Russian media has been filled with reports of some people buying illegal counterfeit vaccination certificates to circumvent the measures.

Sellers offering fake certificates which Russians can use as “proof” of getting the vaccine are prevalent on Russia social media sites and encrypted messenger app Telegram. Prices vary depending on whether the buyer just wants a physical certificate or if they want their data uploaded to state databases and registers, Russian media reported.

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Russian state media has also been reporting on the government’s crackdown on what they call “scam artists,” with the interior ministry releasing video of sting operations against couriers and sellers of the counterfeit certificates.

“The constant feeling that officials are lying or forcing them to get vaccinated, hiding the truth about vaccines, makes people feel morally right to buy a fake vaccination certificate,” Arkhipova said.

A 31-year-old businesswoman from Moscow who wished to remain anonymous said she wanted to buy a fake certificate because she didn’t think enough was known generally about Covid-19 vaccines. 

“In Moscow, it’s prohibited to go to restaurants [without a negative PCR test or a proof of vaccination]. I live alone and eat out all the time, all my meetings take place at restaurants. Doing a PCR test every time I want to have a cup of coffee is not an option,” she said.