Sunday, March 17, 2013

3.17.13 - Are Russian killers on the streets of Britain? - via World news: Russia | | MIKE NOVA'S STARRED ITEMS


via World news: Russia | by Mark Townsend on 3/17/13
A jogger who collapsed and died in leafy Weybridge turns out to have been blowing the whistle on one of Russia's biggest tax frauds. Mark Townsend reports on a crisis that has pitted the Kremlin against the US Senate and British police
Shortly after 5.15pm on 10 November 2012, a jogger turned into Granville Road, Weybridge, running along the hedge-lined street of one of Britain's wealthiest enclaves. Then, 50m from his home, he staggered into the road and died.
In the days that followed, Surrey police believed they were dealing with a natural, if unusual, death. Four months on, the passing of 44-year-old Alexander Perepilichnyystill remains a mystery. Two post-mortems have proved inconclusive, but the outcome of what Surrey police promise is their "full range" of toxicology tests is imminent.
To piece together Perepilichnyy's final years is to drill down into the core of Russian criminality, according to one account.
What we know of Perepilichnyy is slight. In another age he might have been a rocket scientist. Peers called him a "genius", a Ukranian whiz-kid with an uncanny knack for numbers. His favourite waste of time was, they say, discussing the theories behindcosmogony and Kondratiev waves – the long-term cycles of capitalism. However by the time Perepilichnyy arrived to study at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology – famous for supplying the brains behind the Soviet space race – Russia's lunar ambitions had curdled with the collapse of communism. Instead Perepilichnyy applied his talents to the world of finance and was, until 2008, a star talent at an asset management firm in Moscow.
That year, on the other side of Moscow, across Red Square and the brown Moskva river, a rival investment fund to Perepilichnyy's had become engulfed in crisis.Hermitage Capital was under the guidance of a man called Bill Browder, a naturalised Briton based in London who had built the investment firm into the largest foreign investor in Russia. But on Christmas Eve 2007, it had discovered itself to be the victim of a huge and sophisticated scam.
Browder hired Moscow-based lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, to investigate. In July 2008, Magnitsky revealed his findings detailing a web of corruption involving state tax officials and police. Magnitsky allegedly revealed how a gang of detectives, tax inspectors and convicted criminals had planned a 2007 police raid on Hermitage's Moscow office in which officers stole paperwork relating to Browder's companies. These documents were then used to secretly apply for a tax refund worth £144m.
Following the paper trail, Magnitsky found that the rebate, the largest in Russian history, had been approved at a Moscow tax office in just one day. The vast proceeds had disappeared into a shady network of accounts, according to Magnitsky. After reporting the crime to the authorities, instead of being lauded for his work, Magnitsky was arrested by police and accused of orchestrating the fraud himself. In jail, the 37-year-old was denied medical treatment, handcuffed and beaten by riot troops. He had been in prison awaiting trial for 358 days when on 16 November 2009 doctors found him dead on his cell floor in a pool of urine.
Perepilichnyy had paid close attention to Magnitsky's fate. Among his client portfolio, he soon realised, were the same senior tax officials Magnitsky had accused of perpetrating the crime against Hermitage Capital. Worse still, Perepilichnyy suspected the vast proceeds of the crime were starting to wash through the foreign corporate bank and Credit Suisse accounts which he managed.
According to associates, Perepilichnyy was "properly scared" by the death of Magnitsky. Sources say the financier feared he might be implicated in the fraud or similarly victimised if he spoke out. At the end of 2009, Perepilichnyy fled to Britain with his family and what appears to have been a vast fortune, the provenance of which still remains opaque.
One friend in Moscow, who requested anonymity, said: "Most of all he was an outstanding father. He seemed to be thinking of them 80% of his time."
Perepilichnyy believed the exclusive confines of St George's Hill in Surrey would offer sufficient protection for himself, his wife and their two young children, and began renting the six-bedroom Coach House off Granville Road for around £15,000 a month. It was a fortified mansion in an area protected by round-the-clock guards and roadblocks. As one Surrey police source explained: Perepilichnyy lived where "even the security has security".
Perepilichnyy adopted a deliberately low profile in the UK. All that changed during the summer of 2010, when he decided to follow the lead set by Magnitsky and handed over evidence and details of the Credit Suisse accounts. Hermitage in turn passed them to the Swiss police, sparking an ongoing international inquiry that has spread to six countries and resulted in the accounts of alleged Russian fraudsters being frozen.
Perepilichnyy's act put him in grave danger. By the time he went for his final jog last November, the threats against him were mounting. One corrupt official allegedly involved in the fraud against Hermitage warned "the financial wizard" to stop running scared in England because he owed money to "scores of creditors". Even the alleged killers of Litvinenko joined the long list of those with a potential motive. One of the suspects wanted for trial over the murder of the former KGB spy is among those understood to have launched legal action against Perepilichnyy, accusing him of failing to pay back debts. Perepilichnyy told business contacts in London that Moscow police agents had informed him his name was on the "hit list" of Chechen assassin groups for hire and that they had accumulated a dossier with details of his life in Surrey.
Rumours persist that he was part of the fraud against Hermitage, although his friends insist it was naivety, not greed, that brought him into danger. "He was a tragic hero," says one. "He could have been a genius professor of maths at a different time and place. He became followed, threatened and put into a corner."
Yet even at the end, Perepilichnyy had enough courage to flout the death threats and travel abroad. On the day he died, he had just returned from Paris after a three-day visit. During his sojourn in the French capital he'd booked two hotels, but it is unclear why he went to Paris or who he met there.
Investigators working for Hermitage claim the deaths of Magnitsky and Perepilichnyy are the latest in a series of suspicious deaths. They claim at least five other men who have died in strange circumstances had links to individuals they allege were involved in the fraud. The investigators paint a picture of a shadowy network of corrupt police, tax officials and criminals dubbed the Klyuev group, which is, they claim, headed by the bald, heavy-set figure of businessman Dmitry Klyuev. A spokesman for Klyuev, who is a convicted fraudster, describes the suggestion that such a group exists as a "fabrication and a lie". The spokesman pours scorn on the idea of a string of suspicious deaths and adds that Browder, whom he describes as a "corporate blackmailer", is running a highly defamatory PR campaign.
The first unusual death, according to the Hermitage investigators, came in 2005. Sergei Albaev, a former KGB officer, worked for Klyuev as a chauffeur. Documents from a Moscow court case record his wife's worry: "He became more secretive, agitated, and kept saying he had problems at work." Unknown to her, Albaev, along with his boss Klyuev, had been accused of helping orchestrate a £1.1bn fraud against Russia's biggest iron-ore producer, a criminal act that Hermitage lawyers allege was a forerunner to the attack on them.
On 3 March 2005, before Albaev could plead his innocence in court, he went on a business trip. He called his wife, saying he was in the Rostov region, 700km south of Moscow. On 8 April she received a call from a man she did not recognise. Her husband had died, said the stranger. Albaev's death certificate states he died from heart failure. Albaev was only 39. Although it was true Albaev liked a drink, smoked and weighed about 150kg, his family believes his death seemed sudden. Even now, his wife and child have no idea who he was with when he died or what he was doing.
Within weeks came another death. Alexei Alexanov had also been implicated as a key player in the attempted iron-ore fraud. Little is known about Alexanov other than, according to court transcripts, that he had known Klyuev since 1991. During a pre-trial interview, Alexanov insisted he would never sign fraudulent contracts, claiming that the implicating signatures looked nothing like his handwriting. Alexanov never had another chance to contest his innocence. Soon after, he too died in the Rostov region of heart failure. He was 46.
The next death wasn't so much strange as mistimed, according to investigators. It occurred in the wake of the fraud against Hermitage Capital. In the period after Magnitsky uncovered the crime, and before his arrest, the Russian interior ministry launched an investigation into his claims that quickly yielded a culprit. On the face of it, Oktai Gasanov from Azerbaijan seemed an unusual criminal mastermind. The 58-year-old appears to have been little more than a lowly security guard at a Moscow trading centre. But it is Gasanov's death certificate that raises the most questions. Gasanov died two months and 24 days before the actual fraud was committed. Had he been framed by police officers alleged to have been part of the syndicate that targeted Hermitage?
Then there was Valery Kurochkin – a bumbling alcoholic, according to police records, yet named by tax officials as the inheritor of Hermitage Capital. He never had time to indulge his new-found wealth: allegedly having taken a midnight train to Ukraine with five of the fraud suspects, the 48-year-old was found dead close to Boryspil international airport, near Kiev, on 30 April. His death certificate cites cirrhosis as the cause of death.
Then came Semyon Korobeinikov. Magnitsky had traced money from the Hermitage fraud to a Russian bank called USB which Klyuev had once owned but which had apparently been sold in 2006 to Korobeinikov. Before the 57-year-old could be questioned, Korobeinikov elected – according to the official report – to visit a Moscow construction site in September 2008 and climb a half-finished luxury penthouse. "Korobeinikov took himself to a big height," says the police inquiry's peculiar explanation. "His heart felt poorly, he fell down, obtaining injuries incompatible with life."
Klyuev is robust in his rejection of the claims made by Hermitage, saying that the company, and Browder, is trying to frame him. "To completely fool the public, Browder hints at various 'suspicious' deaths, cynically describing them in the context of… Dmitry Klyuev," says Klyuev's spokesman. The "Klyuev group", he says, was invented by Browder and the allegations are "unworthy and low". The spokesman accuses Browder of extensive criminal activity himself and points out that Browder is facing charges in Russia, in a case that was due to start last week.
As diplomats in Moscow and London wait nervously for the outcome of the toxicology assessments on Perepilichnyy, many believe his name may join Magnitsky's as a central source of friction between Russia and the west. In December the US Senate passed the Magnitsky Act, which imposes a visa ban and sanctions on 60 Russians implicated in the fraud and lawyer's death. The act prompted Cold War-style posturing and tit-for-tat sanctions, including President Vladimir Putin's ban on Americans adopting Russian children. Russia is pressing ahead with the posthumous prosecution of Magnitsky for tax evasion, the trial that also indicts Browder.
This prosecution has drawn widespread international condemnation and forced the European Parliament to describe it as a "violation of international and national laws". The last precedent for the posthumous trial dates back to medieval times when, in 897, the then pope held a trial of his predecessor, whose body was dug up and propped up on a chair in the papal court.
Klyuev claims the case will ensure Browder's "own crimes cannot remain hidden. [He] should honestly reveal all the accusations made against him and explain his behaviour in each specific instance."
Whether the Klyuev group exists or not, many of its alleged members appear to like London. Lawyers for Hermitage claim that analysis of flight records reveal that 61 flights between Moscow and London have carried at least one member of the so-called group since Magnitsky exposed the fraud and have identified to the Serious Fraud Office individuals who they say have laundered the fraudulent money.
If suspicions about Perepilichnyy's death were to be confirmed, the broader concern among the intelligence services is that Russian hitmen could be freely entering the UK. Hermitage employees have received at least 11 death threats, mainly text messages from phones traced to Russia. The firm's London staff report being put under surveillance by strangers, and many now follow elaborate security routines.
Former foreign minister Chris Bryant, a Labour MP, is among those perturbed that elements of the Russian mafia may be able to move freely about in London. "Undoubtedly there is a security risk in Britain at the moment," says Bryant. "There are a number of Russian operatives acting in the UK – the long arm of Russian vendettas seems to stretch over here." Browder has no doubt that he is a marked man.
Publicly, at least, no one is any wiser as to why Perepilichnyy dropped dead at the end of his jog. The ongoing police investigation is liaising with MI5, and Swiss and Russian authorities – but the latter relationship has been particularly difficult sinceAlexander Litvinenko's murder in 2006 in London. Perepilichnyy himself allegedly owed money to Dmitry Kovtun, one of the prime suspects wanted by British prosecutors over the poisoning. But senior Whitehall sources are keenly aware that the cause of Perepilichnyy's death has potentially seismic ramifications. If it is proven that Perepilichnyy was murdered, then no one is safe. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via Russia - Google News on 3/16/13

The Voice of Russia

US Cancels Part of Missile Defense That Russia Opposed
New York Times
MOSCOW — The United States has effectively canceled the final phase of a Europe-based missile defense system that was fiercely opposed byRussia and cited repeatedly by the Kremlin as a major obstacle to cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and ...
Russian lawmaker not reassured by US missile defense planReuters
US Move On Missile Defense Could Revive Talks
Interceptor plan may ease missile talks with RussiaArizona Daily Star
The Voice of Russia -Center for Research on Globalization -RIA Novosti
all 416 news articles »

via NYT > Europe by By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and MICHAEL R. GORDON on 3/16/13
Russian news accounts saw the cancellation, part of a United States plan to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors to counter North Korea, as a potential breakthrough in a dispute.

via NYT > Europe by By ELLEN BARRY on 3/16/13
Revered as fierce horsemen who once secured an empire’s frontier, Cossacks are gaining an increasing role in law enforcement in a newly conservative, nationalist Russia.

via NYT > Europe by on 3/16/13
As the Russian government aims to promote a more conservative tone, Cossacks are playing a growing role, but threatening a gentle ethnic balance.

via Russia - Google News on 3/16/13

Russia protecting Mediterranean interests
WASHINGTON – Russia is expected to create a permanent “naval operational division” in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in an effort to “defend Russian national interests,” Russian defense ministry officials said, according to report from Joseph Farah's G2 ...
Russia to send permanent navy fleet to MediterraneanZee News
Russia could deploy fleet in Mediterranean - Navy commanderRussia Beyond The Headlines
Russia to create naval task force to patrol MediterraneanThe Voice of Russia
RT -Europe Online Magazine -RIA Novosti
all 10 news articles »

via NYT > Europe by By LAURIE GOODSTEIN on 3/16/13
Observers see both irony and opportunity in the election of a pope from the ranks of the Jesuits, an order that specifically rejects worldly ambition.

via Russia - Google News on 3/16/13

Russia's empire of dying languages
Russia Beyond The Headlines
Around 250 languages are spoken in Russia, including Russian, which is spoken by some 150 million people. Russian, along with several Turkic-based languages, is doing fine. However, the linguistic situation for many lost tribes and Small Indigenous ...

Russia says it plans to send a permanent fleet of warships into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in two decades.
See more of Mike Nova's starred items ...

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by Reuters <> on 3/16/13
Britain's long-awaited inquest into the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has been delayed again and will not begin until October, the coroner overseeing the case said Thursday.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by Reuters <> on 3/16/13
The European Union told Russia late last week to drop restrictions on its exports or face a legal dispute at the World Trade Organization ahead of meetings in Moscow this week aimed at dealing with a series of conflicts.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by By Ivan Nechepurenko <> on 3/16/13
Bolshoi Theater dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko called on his friends and colleagues "not to believe anyone" about his alleged role as the mastermind of an acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet chief Sergei Filin, in what investigators say could be an attempt to soften his potential sentence.

Experts of Iran and six world powers will meet behind closed doors in Istanbul tomorrow for “technical-level” nuclear talks aimed at turning recent diplomatic progress into concrete measures.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by By Yekaterina Kravtsova <> on 3/16/13
Four State Duma deputies asked the assembly's ethics commission on Friday to evaluate former Just Russia Deputy Dmitry Gudkov's speech that he gave at a Freedom House forum in the United States this month.

via Russia - Google News on 3/17/13

Russia's indigenous languages at risk of dying out
Russia Beyond The Headlines
Around 250 languages are spoken in Russia, including Russian, which is spoken by some 150 million people. Russian, along with several Turkic-based languages, is doing fine. However, the linguistic situation for many lost tribes and Small Indigenous ...

and more »

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by By Alexander Bratersky <> on 3/16/13
Newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. would scrap part of its European missile defense shield, which has faced the biggest opposition from Russia.

Pushkov, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, attends a news conference in MoscowBy Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - A change in the United States plans for an anti-missile shield in Europe will not prompt Russia to drop its opposition to the system, a senior lawmaker allied to President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday the Pentagon would add 14 new anti-missile interceptors in Alaska, among others, after North Korea had threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States. To free up funds for that, U.S. ...

Robert Bales, a U.S. soldier charged with killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan one year ago, was reportedly undergoing a medical review to determine his fitness to stand trial.
See more of Mike Nova's starred items ...

via NYT > Europe by By ANDREW ROTH and ROBERT MACKEY on 3/15/13
The British comedian Stephen Fry brought a sharp tongue and a Twitter following of millions when he confronted a Russian lawmaker who drafted the ban on “homosexual propaganda” in St. Petersburg.

via Russia - Google News on 3/14/13

Zee News

Meteorite that hit Russia millions of years old
Zee News
Meteorite that hit Russia millions of years old Moscow: A meteorite that entered Earth's atmosphere and slammed into Russia's Urals in february had broken off from a large asteroid and collided with another space body several million years ago, a ...
Russian meteor million of years

all 2 news articles »

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by By Nikolaus von Twickel <> on 3/14/13
Federation Council Senator Vitaly Malkin has become the latest lawmaker to be targeted by anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny for unethical behavior, amid mounting speculation that the upper house of parliament will also be hit by resignations.

Russia's former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin attends an interview with Reuters in MoscowMOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin may promote an adviser with close ties to former finance minister Alexei Kudrin to become his most senior economic aide, newspaper Vedomosti reported on Friday. Citing administration sources, the financial daily said Tatyana Golikova may replace Elvira Nabiullina, chosen by Putin to become the next head of Russia's central bank. The job of Kremlin 'chief economist' has typically been filled by a technocrat. ...

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Priv'et Russia - March 14, 2013 Part 2
Priv'et Russia - March 14, 2013 Part 2. March 15, 2013 08:51. Download video (1.28 GB). On this morning's show: if you think your conversations on Skype are safe, think again because in Russia you may be having a three-way without even knowing it.

and more »

via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty by RFE/RL's Russian Service on 3/15/13
A prominent Russian blogger and photographer has been detained at St. Petersburg's airport and held overnight.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by The Moscow Times <> on 3/14/13
Bolshoi Ballet director Sergei Filin is preparing to file a suit against the suspects of the Jan. 17 acid attack that caused him severe injuries to his eyes and face to receive compensation for damages, a news report said Friday.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by The Moscow Times <> on 3/14/13
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Friday called for tougher control over budget spending on equipping the army with state-of-the-art weapons after a check uncovered violations that lead to over 16 billion rubles in budget losses.

via The Moscow Times Top Stories by The Moscow Times <> on 3/14/13
The popular microblogging site Twitter has agreed to block access to accounts or posts that have been blacklisted by Russia's Federal Service for Supervision in Telecommunications, Information Technology and Mass Communications, a statement posted on the watchdog's website said Friday.
See more of Mike Nova's starred items ...

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13


Russian MP calls on US to interfere into Russia's affairs
The controversial trip of Russia's State Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov to the United States of America became the reason for an address to the State Duma committee on parliamentary ethics. All four factions of the Russianparliament asked the committee to ...
All State Duma factions accuse opposition MP Gudkov of betraying national ...Russia Beyond The Headlines

all 7 news articles »

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka have met in St. Petersburg and discussed their countries' union state.

via World news: Russia | by Miriam Elder on 3/15/13
Russian Orthodox church advises people to avoid Instagram and Twitter when annual period of self-denial begins next week
The Russian Orthodox Church has long told its followers to give up milk and meat for Lent but when the annual period of self-denial begins on Monday its leaders want the flock to go one stage further.
There should be no tweeting or instagramming of the experience – and no social media at all, in order to better cleanse the soul, according to church spokesman, Vsevolod Chaplin.
"I don't mean just people who use depraved, entertaining, stupid and empty information," Chaplin said. "Even useful information, that relates to our work and well-meaning interests, clogs the brain and soul too much."
Russians should take the opportunity of Lent to give up social media and "look at themselves and the world around them with different eyes", he said during a press conference this week.
"Giving yourself several hours or 15 minutes of time during Lent to not read curses on social networks, but serious texts, serious art, prayer, unhurried conversation with close ones – this is a unique chance to change your life," he said.
Russia is currently celebrating Maslenitsa, a week-long pancake festival ahead of Lent. Marking Lent has become quite fashionable in recent years, as the church experiences a revival launched with the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Russian Orthodox Church has gained enormous power and influence under Vladimir Putin, the president. It has often spoken out as a reactionary force pushing for conservative values and against influences that are seen as western, like the Internet.
Research by the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, recently found that 79 per cent of Russians consider themselves Orthodox. Yet only 5 per cent attend church regularly.
Last month, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the church and a close Putin ally, told a meeting of bishops that the church should increase its presence online in order to combat anti-religious forces.
"When a person makes a query on church life in an Internet search engine, he finds a lot of lies, hypocrisy and hatred," the patriarch said, the news agency RIA-Novosti reported. "Blogs, social networks – all offer new opportunities for Christian testimony. To be absent from there means to admit one's helplessness and reluctance for saving one's brethren." © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13


Russia and Europe team up for joint missions to Mars
We're not sure how George Smiley would feel at the news, but we're certainly pleased to see that Europe and Russia are teaming up to revive the moribund ExoMars missions. The ESA has signed a deal with Roscosmos, its Soviet counterpart, that'll see the ...
Europe, Russia to launch Mars mission to sample soil for signs of lifeReuters
Russia and Europe Team Up for Mars
Russia to join EU-led ExoMars Red Planet expeditionRT
SlashGear -Hurriyet Daily News -Raw Story
all 24 news articles »

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Banned in Russia
Open Democracy
On 15 March, a Russian court holds preliminary hearings for YouTube's case against Rospotrebnadzor – the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare. YouTube is the first organisation to take one of the most ...

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Financial Times (blog)

Russia Central Bank's GDP View Dims as Rates Kept on Hold
Russia's central bank signaled a more pessimistic stance on growth as it left borrowing costs unchanged for a sixth month as President Vladimir Putin's economic aide prepares to take over monetary policy in June. Moscow-based Bank Rossii held the ...
Russia: inflation fear delays rate cutsFinancial Times (blog)
Russia, Israel and the Middle East Vladimir Putin and the holy landThe Economist
The US-Russia 'reset' is
Alaska Dispatch -Russia & India Report
all 117 news articles »

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Russian lawmaker assailed for US visit
Washington Post
MOSCOW — Early this month, a young opposition-minded member of theRussian parliament spoke for about 10 minutes at a Capitol Hill conference on U.S.-Russia relations. Back home, it's as if he was found with the Kremlin plans in his boots, ready to ...

via NYT > Europe by By COLIN MOYNIHAN on 3/15/13
A British police officer who spent seven years infiltrating environmental and activist groups while working undercover for the Metropolitan Police force in London, may have monitored an American computer scientist and spied on others while in the United States.

via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty by RFE/RL on 3/15/13
German doctors have expressed optimism that Bolshoi Theater artistic director Sergei Filin will recover sufficiently from having acid thrown in his face to return to work.
See more of Mike Nova's starred items ...

Despite acid burns to his eyes and face, reportedly caused by a rival, Sergei Filin says he is not intimidated at returning to his job
The Bolshoi ballet's artistic director badly burned in an acid attack said on Friday he is "full of strength and faith" that he will eventually see well enough to return to work. Sergei Filin, swathed in a large black scarf and knitted hat to cover his burns, spoke at Aachen hospital in Germany, where doctors said one of his badly damaged eyes had shown some improvement and that they remained hopeful he would recover useful vision.
"I am full of strength and faith that I will recover what has been unjustly taken from me," Filin said as he thanked hospital staff for their help in treating his eyes and burned skin. He said he was not afraid of returning to work at the Bolshoi despite reports of rivalries that might have been the motivation for the attack.
He said he was in daily contact with his deputy at the theatre by telephone and had no fear about going back to work. "As soon as I can see ... I will go back and do the same work. I am not afraid."
Dressed head to toe in black and wearing large dark glasses, Filin walked into the auditorium at the Aachen University Clinic with an interpreter close at his side, and sat quietly as doctors discussed his treatment. He was led out by hospital staff afterward.
Dr Martin Hermel, an eye specialist, said that Filin suffered damage to the surface and inner parts of both eyes and had undergone several operations. He cautioned that Filin faces "complex and long-term treatment" that could take months rather than weeks.
Hermel said that he held out hope that Filin would "recover useable vision" to allow him to return to his professional duties. His left eye had shown some improvement, Hermel said. As for the right, which suffered more severe damage, "we cannot at this point make a statement about the prognosis for vision in this eye".
Filin was attacked in January by a masked man who splashed sulphuric acid on to his face. Pavel Dmitrichenko, a Bolshoi dancer who has been arrested on suspicion of organising the attack, told a Moscow court that he gave his blessing for attack but never expected the perpetrator to use acid and cause such harm to Filin.
Anatoly Iksanov, the Bolshoi theatre's general director, has accused the veteran principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze of inciting tensions in the theatre that led to the attack. Tsiskaridze, a fierce critic of Iksanov who is reported to aspire to the director's job, has rejected Iksanov's allegation. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via - Europe RSS Feed on 3/15/13
Pope Francis’s reputation as a back-to-basics leader continued to grow today after he had told the faithful in his homeland of Argentina not to come to his official inauguration next Tuesday but to save the money and give it to the poor instead.

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Russia Stocks Sink on US Consumer Data; Vozrozhdenie Tumbles
Russian (INDEXCF) stocks fell as industrial shares declined after a drop in U.S. consumer sentiment spurred concern global growth may slow. The Micex Index retreated 0.3 percent to 1,495.11 by the close in Moscow for a 0.3 percent gain in the week.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lead U.S. official on North Korea will travel to Russia and Germany next week for talks with Russian and German diplomats about the reclusive state but has no plans to meet with North Korean officials, the U.S. State Department said on Friday. North Korea in February conducted its third nuclear test and in December launched a rocket that put a satellite into orbit, developments that, with Iran's nuclear program, led the Pentagon on Friday to announce plans to bolster U.S. missile defense. ...

U.S. Secretary of Defense Hagel speaks at his news conference at the Pentagon in WashingtonBy Phil Stewart and David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans on Friday to bolster U.S. missile defenses in response to "irresponsible and reckless provocations" by North Korea, which threatened a preventative nuclear strike against the United States last week. Hagel said the Pentagon would add 14 new anti-missile interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska - an effective reversal of an early Obama administration decision - and move ahead with the deployment of a second missile-defense radar in Japan. ...

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

The Voice of Russia

Russia, Belarus leaders meet on bilateral relations
PETERSBURG, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin met Friday with visiting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg to discuss bilateral relations, the Kremlin said on its website. The two leaders focused their talks ...
Russia, Belarus agree to strengthen economic tiesThe Voice of Russia
Russia, Belarus agreed to strengthen economic
Putin: Russia, Belarus capable of raising trade turnover to $50 billionKyiv Post
News of Belarus -TVR -GlobalPost
all 48 news articles »

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Russian Legislator Accused of Treason After US Visit
New York Times
MOSCOW — In a striking move to purge the Russian Parliament of even the faintest of contrarian voices, legislative leaders on Friday accused an opposition lawmaker of treason and demanded an ethics investigation, saying that the legislator had used a ...

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

International Business Times

Vatican, Iran, Russia, Egypt Oppose Ban On Violence Against Women
International Business Times
One U.N. diplomat told Reuters that Russia had introduced an amendment saying unilateral sanctions promote violence against women. “[This] strikes us as a bit of a stretch, and it's slightly out of place,” the diplomat said. The Vatican is a nonmember ...

and more »

via Russia - Google News on 3/15/13

Zee News

Russia bans foreign banks from opening branches
Zee News
Due to this, the note said, they are not subject to full supervision by regulators; they are not obliged to allot money to obligatory reserve funds, or to report to the Bank of Russia via both the Russian and international accounting systems, nor do ...
Russia, Israel and the Middle East Vladimir Putin and the holy landThe Economist
Russia: inflation fear delays rate cutsFinancial Times (blog)
Russia Holds Rates for Sixth Month After Spike in InflationBloomberg -Alaska Dispatch
all 119 news articles »