Belgian Intel Officer is a Suspected Russian Spy, Reports Say

An officer in Belgium’s military intelligence service is reportedly under investigation for spying for Russia. The unnamed officer was accused of providing a Serbian national, who is suspected of being a Russian agent, access to classified information, Belgium’s De Morgen newspaper reported. Read More Two Estonians Convicted of Spying for Russia The case reportedly reflects internal…

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We Won’t Allow a Color Revolution in Venezuela, Moscow Says

Russia’s position on Venezuela is to prevent American-backed regime change, the country’s Foreign Ministry has announced, amid a jostle for power among rival political factions in the crisis-struck Latin American country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of backing a coup in his country after Washington recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as…

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Russia’s Military Vows to ‘Prevent Invasion’ of Polar Bears in Arctic Town

Russia’s Defense Ministry has pledged to address the polar bear invasion that has struck panic in a remote Arctic settlement in recent weeks. Polar bears began to descend on Russia’s Novaya Zemlya archipelago, population 3,000, driven from their habitat by food scarcity fueled by climate change, according to WWF experts. The authorities in the Arkhangelsk…

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Bellingcat Names Third Russian GRU Agent Suspected of Skripal Poisoning

A third man suspected of involvement in the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in England last year is a high-ranking Russian military intelligence agent, the investigative website Bellingcat said on Thursday. “Bellingcat can now reveal the true identity and background of this GRU officer, who operated internationally under the cover persona…

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The Great Firewall of Russia. Why Polar Bears Pillaged a Siberian Village. Julia Ioffe on Putin and Trump.

This week on From Russia With News, investigative journalist and security services expert Andrei Soldatov tells us why Russia is moving closer to give the authorities the power to unplug the country’s internet network from the outside world. And Greenpeace Energy Head Vladimir Chuprov has the latest on the polar bear invasion in Russia’s Far…

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Russian Lawmakers Propose Fining Government Officials for Insulting Citizens

Communist lawmakers in Russia have submitted a bill that would introduce fines for officials who disrespect their voters, Interfax reported on Thursday. Public officials across Russia have increasingly made national headlines for being caught on record insulting regular citizens. The mayor of a smog-hit mining town landed in hot water on Wednesday for calling his…

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A Valentine’s Day Ski Date for Two: Putin and Lukashenko Hit the Slopes

In southern Russia’s resort city of Sochi, President Vladimir Putin shows once again that he’s always ready to demonstrate his physical fitness as he hits the slopes with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. Their ski date comes a day after Lukashenko promised that despite strained ties between the two neighbors Belarus would “never deliver bad vodka or bad…

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‘Insane, Ridiculous’: Russian Lawmakers React to New U.S. Sanctions Bill

U.S. senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would impose stiff new sanctions on Russia over suspected meddling in U.S. elections and aggression against Ukraine. Targets of the sanctions would include: Russian banks that support efforts to interfere in foreign elections; the country’s cyber sector; new sovereign debt; and individuals deemed to “facilitate illicit and…

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Russia Warns U.S. Against Meddling in Venezuela Crisis

Russia said on Tuesday it was ready to facilitate the start of dialogue between Venezuela’s government and opposition but warned the United States against intervening in Caracas’ internal affairs. Russia has sided with President Nicolas Maduro in his stand-off with opposition leader Juan Guaido. Maduro retains control of state institutions including the military, but most Western countries,…

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Russia Moves to Grant Government the Power to Shut Down the Internet, Explained

Russian lawmakers advanced a contentious draft bill on Tuesday that seeks to give the authorities the power to unplug the national internet network from the outside world. Deputies submitted the measures to tighten state control over the internet in December, citing the need to respond to an “aggressive” U.S. national cybersecurity strategy. Although Russia’s state…

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Expect Slower GDP Growth in 2019, Russia’s Economic Ministry Says

Russia’s Economic Development Ministry has projected significantly slower GDP growth over the next year, describing growth at 2018 levels as “unsustainable.” The Rosstat federal statistics agency sparked skepticism last week for releasing figures that suggested that Russia’s economy had grown 2.3 percent in 2018 — its fastest rate since 2012 and up from 1.6 percent…

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Moscow Buddhists Commemorate Year of the Pig With Fire, in Photos

A group of Buddhists held a ceremony in honor of the new lunar year at a temple in northeastern Moscow on Sunday, Feb. 10.

They celebrated the beginning of the Year of the Earth Pig at the Drepung Gomang Buddhist monastery, lighting fire offerings in a traditional ceremony.

Here’s a look at the ritual.

Putin’s Ambitious Plan to Overhaul Russia’s Economy Will Cost $390 Bln, Government Estimates

Russia will spend 25.7 trillion rubles ($391 billion) on carrying out President Vladimir Putin’s expansive promises to overhaul Russia’s economy by the end of his last term in office, according to a new government estimate. After his inauguration last May, Putin outlined plans to spend at least 8 trillion rubles on infrastructure and social issues…

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‘The Theater’ in 2019

A conversation with Vladimir Urin, general director of the Bolshoi Theater. Damir Yusupov / Bolshoi Theater In Russia, the Bolshoi Theater is “the theater” — the most prestigious venue for opera and ballet in the country. The Moscow Times talked to Vladimir Urin, the Bolshoi’s general director, about the theater’s plans for 2019.  Which blockbuster…

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Russian Opposition Rallies Calling For Release of Political Prisoners

On Sunday Feb.10, Russian protesters rallied in Moscow and St. Petersburg to demand freedom for political prisoners after a daughter of activist Anastasia Shevchenko died in hospital while her mother was under house arrest. Shevchenko is a member of Open Russia movement, founded by Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and was arrested in January, accused…

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Russia’s Investigative Committee Seeks Donations for Archangel Statue, Reports Say

The head of Russia’s Investigative Committee is reportedly seeking donations for the construction of a bronze Archangel Michael statue at the entrance of his agency’s new headquarters in Moscow as religious symbols gain an increasingly prominent place in Russian state institutions. The Russian Orthodox Church has become a powerful political force since the anointment of Patriarch Kirill as its…

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After Jailing of Jehovah’s Witness, Human Rights Activists Warn of ‘Wave’ of Arrests

Two days after a Russian court sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to six years in jail, human rights activists have warned the case will trigger a crackdown on other religious minorities. On Wednesday, Dennis Christensen became the first Jehovah’s Witness convicted for extremism after Russia’s Supreme Court blacklisted the religious group in April 2017. Read More…

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Paralympic Committee Lifts Russia Ban, With Conditions

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Friday it would lift the ban on Russia’s Paralympic Committee by March 15, under certain conditions. Russia has been barred from international Paralympic competitions since August 2016 over allegations of state-sponsored doping similar to the ones that led to the suspension of its athletics federation and anti-doping agency. The IPC…

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Russia Pledges Response to Norwegian Military Activity

Russia on Thursday accused Norway of pushing ahead with a military build-up which it said increased the risks of military action and required some kind of Russian response. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Moscow had watched as NATO member Norway had become more and more active in helping the Western military alliance build up its presence in the Arctic…

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Russia Welcomes Trump Offer of New Nuclear Pact, Awaits Details

Russia welcomed an offer by U.S. President Donald Trump to renegotiate a landmark nuclear missile pact after he quit the agreement, while cautioning that it’s received no specific proposals yet. “We saw President Trump’s statement about the possibility of a new treaty, which should include other countries,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters…

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