Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two 'impressive' Idaho potatoes

John Kerry's gift to Russian counterpart? Two 'impressive' Idaho potatoes - NBCNews.com (blog)

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NBCNews.com (blog)

John Kerry's gift to Russian counterpart? Two 'impressive' Idaho potatoes
NBCNews.com (blog)
Secretary of State John Kerry drew a chuckle from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when he presented two large Idaho potatoes as a gift during a meeting in Paris on Monday. Kerry said Lavrov had mentioned Idaho's most famous export the last time...

Our Own Bin Laden 

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The bombings in Volgograd just before New Year\'s Eve have shown that the terrorist threat in Russia remains extremely high. Both of these attacks had been carefully prepared beforehand.

Record Number of U.S. Visas Issued to Russians in 2013

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The 2012 bilateral visa agreement extended the validity period of visas for citizens of both countries to three years. A record total of about 250,000 U.S. nonimmigrant visas were issued to Russians last year, a jump of 15 percent compared to the previous record year, U.

Russia's Olympic security to set new surveillance standard at Sochi - CBC.ca

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Russia's Olympic security to set new surveillance standard at Sochi
The warnings are based partly on the work of two Russian investigative journalists who uncovered the plan to significantly soup up existing surveillance technology in Sochi in time for the arrival of thousands of foreigners. With the support of the ...
Can Russia Stop a Terrorist Attack during the Olympics?American Thinker
New Russia scare: 5 militants with bomb arrested weeks before OlympicsNBCNews.com (blog) 

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Why Western Outrage Could Make Things Worse For Russia's Gays - Business Insider

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Business Insider

Why Western Outrage Could Make Things Worse For Russia's Gays
Business Insider
There's no doubt a Western backlash was justified, but a bigger, more worrying question is whether such action had any positive impact in Russia. Months later, not only does the restrictive Russian LGBT legislation stay in place, but things actually ...
Putin's sad recordUPI.com
As Others See Us: The View from Russia (3)Herald Scotland (blog)
Myths about Russia: Is something wrong with Russians or with Western ...The Voice of Russia
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27 Nobel laureates join Sir Ian McKellen to protest over Russia's gay ... - The Independent

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The Independent

27 Nobel laureates join Sir Ian McKellen to protest over Russia's gay ...
The Independent
Some 27 Nobel laureates from the fields of science and the arts are demanding that RussianPresident Vladimir Putin repeal repressive homophobic legislation which has placed his country at the centre of mounting international fury over gay rights.
Sir Ian McKellen pens protest over Russian gay lawBBC News 
27 Nobel laureates urge Russia to cancel law against gay propaganda among ...The Voice of Russia
Nobel Laureates Urge Russia to Scrap 'Gay Propaganda' LawRIA Novosti
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Page 2

Russia expels US journalist David Satter without explanation

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Moscow authorities ban writer from the country in first
expulsion of US journalist since the cold war
Russia has expelled a US journalist living in Moscow for the first time since the cold war, in a move that is likely to strain relations with Washington on the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Satter had been based in the Russian capital since September. Last
month, he travelled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev to renew his
visa where Alexy Gruby, a diplomat at the Russian
embassy, read him a prepared statement that said: "The competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is not desirable. You are banned from entering Russia."
The "competent organs" are the Federal Security Service (FSB), President Vladimir Putin's powerful domestic spy and counter-intelligence agency. Such language is usually used in spy cases.
The US ambassador in Moscow, Michael McFaul, raised Satter's case with Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Rybakov, on the eve of the refusal. Following Satter's expulsion, the embassy issued a diplomatic protest and asked for an explanation. The Russian authorities declined to give one.
On Tuesday Russia's foreign ministry accused Satter of infringing migration rules. In a statement, the ministry said the journalist had waited five days before converting his initial entry visa into a multi-entry visa – "a flagrant violation". He was now barred from the country for five years, it said.
Since 2009, the Obama administration has pursued a pragmatic policy of "resetting" relations with the Kremlin. Critics say this has brought few positive results.
Satter's expulsion is surprising. It comes weeks after Putin gave an amnesty to several high-profile political prisoners including the jailed former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Arctic 30 Greenpeace activists and two members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. The move was widely seen as an attempt to improve Russia's image ahead of the Sochi Olympics, which begin on 7 February.
Expulsions of western correspondents were a regular hallmark of the cold war era. The Kremlin evicted a string of American reporters in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The last to be unilaterally thrown out was Newsweek bureau chief Andrei Nagorski in 1982. Another reporter, Nicholas Daniloff, was briefly jailed in 1986 after the FBI arrested a Soviet spy in New York.
Putin, the FSB has brought back KGB-style methods of harassment against foreign journalists. These include demonstrative apartment break-ins, surveillance and interrogations. Largely unreported, the FSB is increasingly rejecting visa applications from western academics seeking to visit Russia if their publications are deemed hostile.
Speaking to the
Guardian from London, Satter, 66, said: "My position is that this ban should be reversed immediately."
He said the manner of his expulsion – without any explanation – suggested the security services regarded him as a risk. "This is a formula used for
spies," he said. "To apply it to a journalist is something I have not seen in nearly four decades of writing and reporting on Russia. It is indicative that they consider me, for whatever crazy reasons, to be a security threat."
Satter first visited Moscow in 1969 as an Oxford graduate student. Between 1976-82 he was the FT's correspondent
in the city. In 1979, the authorities threatened to expel him for "hooliganism", only to back down later. He returned to post-communist Russia in the early
1990s and went back to Moscow from the US for another stint last autumn.
Satter's new role was an adviser to the broadcaster Radio Europe/Radio Free Liberty, which is funded by the US Congress. He was also working on a book on Russia's post-communist history.Satter said he had been unable to collect his notes, clothes and other belongings, which remain in his flat in central Moscow.
Asked why Russia had kicked him out, Satter said he did not know the answer. But he speculated
thatthe FSB's decision may be linked to his writings on Russia's 1999 apartment bombings – one of the murkiest episodes in the country's post-Soviet history.
More than 300 people were killed in a series of unprovoked explosions in Moscow and two other cities. Putin blamed the bombings on Chechen terrorists. He immediately seized on the blasts to justify a second, punitive and devastating war in Chechnya.
Satter, and others, believe the bombings may have been an undercover FSB operation, designed to boost Putin's popularity and to secure his election as president. In his 2003 book, Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State, Satter concluded that the evidence of the FSB being behind the blasts was "overwhelming".
In September
1999, FSB officers were caught planting another bomb under an apartment block in Ryazan. The head of the
FSB, a close ally of
Putin's, later claimed the bomb had been an FSB
training exercise. Satter's 2003 book was reprinted in Russia last February, under the title How Putin Became President.
Several other prominent Russians have similarly accused the FSB, including the journalistAnna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko. Both were subsequently murdered. Putin has dismissed the claim as a slander.
Satter said he had planned to expand investigative journalism at Radio Liberty, which has recently been in a state of turmoil after many of its long-standing Russian staff were sacked. It is one of few sources of independent news in Russia, where most of the media is either state-controlled or in the hands of oligarchs linked to the state. Since Putin's return to the Kremlin in 2011, the official media has become increasingly anti-western.
"We wanted to pay attention to historical events including the most critical and tragic events,"
Sattersaid. "I didn't go back to Russia to report on the apartment bombings. I've already done that. But at the same time I don't believe questions of such importance can be ignored." Other sensitive events include the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis, in which 334 people, most of them children, died, he said.
senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a fellow atJohns Hopkins University, Satter is scathing about the White House's uncritical approach towards the Kremlin. He describes Obama's policy as counterproductive and flawed: "I think my expulsion shows the true nature of the reset. It was meaningless from the start. It ignores the realities of Russian life and Russian politics.
"It treats Russia
as a normal democratic country, instead of treating it as a society dominated by a small group dedicated only to itself, both materially and politically. It's self-deluding. It makes it more difficult to deal with the consequences."
Concerns over security at next month's Sochi games have been heightened by twin suicide attacks last month on the city of Volgograd, which
caused 32 deaths. The authorities have blamed Islamist jihadis who are fighting to establish a "caliphate" in the nearby North Caucasus. "In Russia we don't always know who is blowing up whom," Satter
US-Russian ties have been strained for some time. They worsened last year when Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden. No high-ranking US politician will visit the opening ceremony in Sochi – and the White House has included several openly gay members of its official delegation, a response to anti-gay legislation passed by Russia's Duma last year.
Putin was the FSB's boss before he became prime minister in 1999 and president in 2000. The organisation is known for its conspiratorial world
view and its hostility towards the United States. The FSB now appears to be the ultimate arbiter of who is allowed into the country.

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Russia expels US journalist David Satter without explanation - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Russia expels US journalist David Satter without explanation
The Guardian
Russia has expelled a US journalist living in Moscow for the first time since the cold war, in a move that is likely to strain relations with Washington on the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics. David Satter – a distinguished former correspondent with ...

American journalist David Satter kicked out of RussiaCNN
American Journalist Expelled From RussiaTIME
US journalist says he has been expelled from RussiaReuters
Telegraph.co.uk-New York Times-The Wire
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US journalist David Satter on his expulsion from Russia: 'I was told my presence was undesirable' - video

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David Satter, a US correspondent for Radio Free Europe, describes the moment he was expelled from Russia without explanation

Russia bans US journalist in cold war echo

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Ban for Satter, the Financial Times’ first resident Moscow correspondent from 1976 to 1982, is likely to
raise international concerns about media freedoms

US concerned about Iran-Russia oil deal - Aljazeera.com

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US concerned about Iran-Russia oil deal
The US White House has raised concerns about a recent report that Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5bn a month, a deal a spokeswoman said could trigger US sanctions. Such a deal would significantly boost Iran's oil exports ...
White House concerned about Russia's oil for goods deal with IranTelegraph.co.uk 

 has concerns about Iran-Russia oil-for-goods swap reports Reuters
US 'concerned' at Iran-Russia oil-for-goods swap reportAl-Arabiya
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American journalist David Satter kicked out of Russia - CNN

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American journalist David Satter kicked out of Russia
(CNN) -- Russia has expelled American journalist and author David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times and a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Satter told followers on Twitter. Satter, the author of three ...
Russia denies entry to 'undesirable' American correspondentFox News
US journalist David Satter barred from RussiaBBC News
Russia expels US journalist David Satter without explanationThe Guardian
Business Insider -Reuters -Washington Post
all 98 news articles »
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Page 3

Russian HIV Surge Shows Scourge Sochi Swagger Can't Mask - Bloomberg

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Russian HIV Surge Shows Scourge Sochi Swagger Can't Mask
A drug user prepares a batch of krokodil in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. The homemade concoction is based on the pain reliever codeine mixed with gasoline and other substances. Twenty-one percent of the world's HIV-positive injecting-drug users ...

27 Nobel Laureates Protest Russian 'Gay Propaganda' Law

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Twenty-seven Nobel laureates and British actor Ian McKellen have written an open letter to Russian President Vladmir Putin urging him to repeal a law seen as discriminatory against homosexuals, according to "The Independent."

Russia refuses visa to U.S. journalist David Satter; writer banned from country for 5 years 

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MOSCOW — Russia has refused to allow a U.S. journalist and writer to return to Moscow, an indication that authorities are clamping down on criticism despite recent gestures aimed at burnishing the country’s image before the Winter Olympics open Feb. 7.
Read full article >>

27 Nobel Laureates Ask Putin to Abolish Anti-Gay Legislation

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A group of Nobel laureates has asked President Vladimir Putin in an open letter to revoke Russia's "gay propaganda" law that critics say has led to increased persecution of gay people in the country.

Russia expels U.S. journalist critical of Putin

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MOSCOW (Reuters) -
Russia has barred a U.S. journalist who is critical of President Vladimir Putin
for five years, a move that
could upset relations with the United States and has echoes of the Cold