Russia’s new full on gangsta UN ambassador: “Why are you looking away?”

It’s no secret that the norms of diplomacy have been in flux recently. Trolling is in. The Russian Embassy in London appears to be gaining an edge in sardonic tweets directed at the West (although the other side has shot off a few zingers of its own, as well). And Russia’s most senior diplomat has dropped NSFW one-liners on prime-time news.

But even by prevailing standards, Russian diplomat Vladimir Safronkov’s speech on the floor of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday was unusual.

Accusing the British of blocking political efforts to end the Syrian conflict, the Russian deputy envoy to the United Nations suddenly wagged a finger at Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s permanent representative to the United Nations, and said: “Look at me! Don’t you look away from me! Why are you looking away?”

“Don’t you dare insult Russia again,” he added later.

Safronkov’s tone, not just what he said but how he said it, turned heads. Even RT, the state-funded Russian media network, called the harangue an “extraordinary attack on his British counterpart, using some decidedly undiplomatic language.” RT also, like others, noted the ambassador’s unusual use of the familiar “you” (“ty” in Russian, as opposed to the formal “vy”), which is “used for talking to friends and children and almost never in public addresses.”

That show of disrespect seems to have surprised even Russian officials. Although a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said there was “nothing insulting” in the remarks, the Moscow Times noted that Russia’s official U.N. website edited the transcript of Safronkov’s speech to soften his language. “The transcript changed Safronkov’s speech from the informal ‘ty’ form in Russian to the formal ‘vy’ form, erasing much of the aggressive thrust of his actual remarks,” the newspaper wrote.

In memes, Safronkov was quickly compared to thuggish Russian hustlers called “gopniks,” tough men who like Adidas tracksuits, sunflower seeds and sitting on their haunches on street corners.

This Youtube video has an english translation that has unfortunately left out all the profanity

https://youtu.be/gRQ6D82FZ94

Russia’s UN ambassador went full gangsta on his British counterpart today in New York. “Look at me when I’m talking!” https://themoscowtimes.com/news/dont-you-dare-insult-russia-again-moscows-un-rep-screams-in-new-york-57710

Being Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations is not a job for the fainthearted or those leery of confrontation. Andrei Gromyko, who went on to become foreign minister during the Cold War, was known as “Mr. Nyet” (Mr. No) and “Grim Grom.” (A later, softer Gromyko was played up by the New York Times as “Amiable Andrei.”) Vitaly Churkin, the late Russian ambassador to the United Nations, engaged in epic verbal battles with Samantha Power, who was Washington’s U.N. ambassador until earlier this year.

“Are you truly incapable of shame?” Power said in remarks directed at Churkin in December as she criticized Russia for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid reports of mass killings in the campaign to retake the city of Aleppo. Churkin retorted that Power was acting “as if she were Mother Teresa herself.”

But shortly after Churkin died of a heart attack in February, Power wrote an article in the New York Times headlined, “My Friend, the Russian Ambassador,” emphasizing their close, even friendly, working relationship.

“Vitaly was a masterful storyteller with an epic sense of humor, a good friend and one of the best hopes the United States and Russia had of working together. I am heartbroken by his death,” she wrote. “I am also saddened that, in our hyperpolarized environment, praise for Vitaly — the diplomat and the man — has been interpreted as acquiescence to Russia’s aggression.”

Churkin’s death also deprived Russia of one of its most experienced diplomats during a period of heightened tensions with the United States. Speeches from the Security Council are regularly broadcast on Russian television, an opportunity to show Russian diplomats sticking it to their Western rivals.

For Safronkov, Wednesday’s speech was his highest-profile to date, coming on the same day that he vetoed a Security Council condemnation of the chemical attack that killed dozens in Syria’s Idlib province last week.

It’s likely that the Kremlin wanted a stinging retort to the West, something that would showcase Russia’s support for Assad and its resilience to Western pressure. But it may not have expected the “ty.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/13/dont-you-look-away-from-me-how-a-russian-diplomats-tirade-broke-u-n-tradition/?utm_term=.3673a948ef32

Will Trump show his pro-Putin hand with the choice of US envoy on Ukraine ?

Trump Administration Expected To Open Diplomatic Channel With Top Putin Aide. The new US envoy would be responsible for negotiating over the fate of war-torn Ukraine.

Putin’s ‘grey cardinal’ Surkov

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expected to appoint a new special envoy to communicate directly with Vladislav Surkov, a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin once known as the Kremlin’s “grey cardinal,” two European officials told BuzzFeed News.

The job of the new envoy, who has not yet been named, would be to negotiate over the fate of war-torn Ukraine, where a floundering peace deal has yet to bring an end to the three-year conflict, the officials said.

One Western diplomat said German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the opening of the channel, and had raised it with President Donald Trump during their meeting at the White House last month. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would oversee the selection of the envoy, a full-time role that is expected to include a supporting staff.

A US official acknowledged that “there is currently a discussion of the idea,” but said “no final decisions have been made.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In carrying out the job, the envoy would be required to perform a high-wire act as any US contact with Russian officials has come under intense congressional and media scrutiny following the FBI investigation into alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign team and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

Under the Obama administration, the US also maintained a direct channel with Surkov to discuss the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, a package of measures aimed at resolving the conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s eastern territories.

The United States is not a signatory to the agreement, struck in 2015 by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, so the direct line gave Washington a means of exerting pressure on Moscow when it felt Russia was failing to live up to its promises.

The channel was previously maintained by Victoria Nuland, a Senate-confirmed career foreign service officer and prominent Russia hawk who held the title of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The Trump administration’s appointment of a special envoy would not require Senate confirmation.

Speculation about who the US might appoint for the position has captivated European diplomats trying to make sense of the mixed signals the Trump administration has sent about Ukraine. Tillerson recently asked a group of foreign ministers why US taxpayers should care about Ukraine. However, he has also insisted that sanctions against Russia remain in place until it fulfills its obligations under the Minsk Agreements. The Trump administration had previously only vowed to maintain the less painful sanctions slapped on Russia following its annexation of Crimea. Meanwhile, Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has repeatedly slammed Russia for failing to de-escalate the “dire situation in eastern Ukraine.”

Surkov, the man at the other side of the table, was sanctioned by the US in 2014 for his “status” as presidential aide to Putin during the Ukraine conflict — a punishment he later called a “great honor.” Often described as the Kremlin’s chief ideologist, he pioneered the term “sovereign democracy,” a doctrine that supports a strong Russian state to stave off internal chaos and foreign sabotage.

French and German diplomats generally support the channel with Surkov because they view increased US involvement as strengthening the West’s hand against Russia. “If you want to pressure the Russians, you need the Americans on board,” said the Western diplomat.

Ukraine advocates skeptical of the Trump administration’s intentions may view the channel as a means of exploring a “grand bargain” with Russia that involves the lifting of Western sanctions, though at the moment, the state of US-Russia relations would not seem to support such a deal.

“Channels and communication generally are neither the problem nor the solution in Western-Russian relations,” Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said. “It is important for the US to be involved — without taking over — on the Ukraine issue, both to keep as the transatlantic partners in sync and because the Russians always believe that the Americans are the puppet masters, no matter who is across the table from them,” he said.

A man is known by the company he keeps…… and the biggest LOSER

Days after the White House announced that it would not release visitor logs, the president hosted an unannounced dinner party that included Bat shit crazy Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee and a former Alaska governor, and Low life nut job rocker Ted Nuget and delusional Kid Rock who also supported him during the 2016 campaign.

Lookout out Ivanka 

Palin posted photos from the Oval Office on Thursday morning, including one in which she is chatting up the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“A great night at the White House. Thank you to President Trump for the invite!” she tweeted.

But it was the photo of Trump’s dinner guests trolling the Clinton photo that caught the most attention.

The bigoted anti semite Ted Nugent posted rambling thoughts on his Facebook page late Wednesday…………..

“So today is the 242nd anniversary of The Shot Heard Round The World is it! Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin’, I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazyass Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman WhackMaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again! Got that? Glowing all American over the top WE THE PEOPLE gory details coming ASAP!! BRACE!”

The White House did not provide its own readout of the encounter.

 

The Loser………

Trump loves winning and winners, and all presidents love hanging out with sports champions. On Wednesday, Trump honored the New England Patriots for their overtime Super Bowl victory.

But many players skipped the ceremony in protest, and attendance was down noticeably from years past.

oops

NEW POLL –United Airlines favored over Trump: A new poll measured the favorability of United Airlines compared to President Trump.

Forty-two percent say they prefer the airline company to Trump. Forty percent favor Trump over United instead, while 18 percent remain undecided between the two.

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/aviation/329687-poll-voters-prefer-united-airlines-to-trump

 

Follow the dead russians

Nilolai Andrushchenko

A prominent Russian journalist known for articles criticizing Russian government and President Vladimir Putin has died in St. Petersburg after being severely beaten by unknown assailants.

Nikolai Andrushchenko, a 73-year-old co-founder of the newspaper Novy Petersburg, was attacked on March 9 and had been unconscious since then.

Andrushchenko’s colleagues and his lawyer say he underwent brain surgery after the attack and initially had been connected to a ventilator, but later was able to breath on his own.

However, they said he never regained consciousness and died on April 19.

His attackers have not been found.

Andrushchenko expressed concern about Putin after he came to power in 2000, saying that the secret services were taking control of Russia.

He was arrested in 2007 and claimed he was tortured in custody. In 2009, a court in St. Petersburg found him guilty of libel and extremism and fined him.

The Memorial Human Rights Center recognized him a political prisoner when he was in custody.

No tax return? You should always follow the money!

TWO smoking guns:

Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove says Donald Trump borrowed money from Russia during 2008 financial crisis

Richard Dearlove told Prospect Magazine that “what lingers for Trump may be what deals – on what terms – he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money” when other banks and lenders would not risk the money, given Mr Trump’s history of bankruptcy.

Just days before taking office Mr Trump tweeted that Russia has never had “leverage” over him.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 4:31 am – 11 Jan 2017

Mr Trump also recently said US-Russia relations may be at an “all-time low” following the US air strike in Russian-allied Syria after a chemical attack in the Idlib province.

Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer at international law firm Amsterdam & Partners with considerable experience in Russian affairs, told The Independent there was “no question” that US intelligence agencies and the FBI had information about Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities prior to the 2016 US election.

Trump-Russia investigation ‘now has concrete evidence of collusion’

“Trump’s relationship with Russia goes back many, many years. I’m sure the FBI was monitoring it,” he said.

Two parallel investigations into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election as well as Russia’s alleged tampering with the election are being conducted in Congress at the moment.

Democrat Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the tactics used by the Kremlin “send a chill down anyone who believes in the democratic process“.

If the FBI and or other US intelligence agencies did know about any financial burden Mr Trump had with Russian lenders, it will raise further questions over why the information was not released earlier, especially given the FBI’s approach to Mr Trump’s opposition candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

FBI Director James Comey infamously sent a letter on 28 October – just 11 days before Americans went to the polls – to Congress stating the agency found new, pertinent emails in its ongoing investigation into then-candidate Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server for messages containing classified information.

Mr Amsterdam said one possible explanation is “that the FBI has an informer who was once part of the Trump organization” and that information was not released in order to protect that source.

“In my view…[the FBI] had no obligation” to share the Trump investigation but “the same rules should apply to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said.

Mr Amsterdam explained that Russian authorities likely have the same, if not “better,” information about Mr Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities.

“One of Mr Trump’s main lenders is a bank that’s been particularly close with Russians: Deutsche Bank,” said Mr Amsterdam.

It is unknown if Mr Trump is still paying off the alleged 2008 debts to Russian lenders or which part of the vast Trump organization took out the loans.

The Congressional investigations will also include interviews and possibly hearings with Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It has been confirmed that Vnesheconombank, a Russian state development bank, met with Mr Kushner in December 2016.

The bank is currently subject to western economic sanctions due to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/richard-dearlove-mi6-trump-russia-money-2008-financial-crisis-us-election-a7684341.html

Concrete evidence of collusion between Trump team and Russia’ handed to official investigation

The official investigation into relations between Donald Trump and Russia now has “specific, concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion”, it has been reported.

New evidence proves discussions took place “between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material,” a source allegedly told the Guardian.

The developments come as it has emerged that Britain’s spy agencies were among the first to alert their American counterparts to contact between members of Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.

British and other European intelligence agencies first intercepted suspicious “interactions” between people associated with the US President and Russian officials in 2015 as part of routine surveillance of Russia, intelligence sources have confirmed to a number of different publications.

GCHQ British Spy Headquarters

Spy agencies, including GCHQ, were not deliberately targeting members of the Trump team but rather recorded communications through “incidental collection,” CNN reports.

This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information under the “Five Eyes“ agreement, which calls for open sharing of certain types of information among member nations the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern in communications between the Republican’s inner circle and Russian operatives. For six months, until summer 2016, these interactions were repeatedly flagged to intelligence officials in the US, who sources have said were slow to act.

“It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” a source told the Guardian. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’

“The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”

GCHQ’s involvement in the investigation is controversial, with Mr Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, having previously accused the “British spying agency” of bugging Trump Tower on behalf of Barack Obama. Mr Spicer cited an unsubstantiated report on Fox News, from which the television station later distanced itself.

At the time GCHQ diverged from its usual policy of refraining from commenting to the media, describing the allegations as “nonsense”.

“They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” a spokesperson for the agency said. But both US and UK intelligence sources now acknowledge that C played an early and important role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

One source told the Guardian the British eavesdropping agency was the “principal whistleblower”.

A GCHQ spokesperson declined to comment on the revelations, saying: “It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters”.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-russia-investigation-now-has-specific-concrete-and-corroborative-evidence-of-collusion-a7683386.html

 

 

 

Whose is bigger Putin’s or Trump’s

BIG ASS BOMBS

More war porn from our ruler in chief “Bloatus prevaricator”

Washington (CNN) The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” was dropped at 7:32 pm local time Thursday, the sources said. A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

Officials said the target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex and personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said later Thursday. The strike “targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely.”

The military is currently assessing the damage. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, signed off on the use of the bomb, according to the sources. The authority to deploy the weapon was granted to Nicholson by the commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, Stump said.

This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the US officials. This munition was developed during the Iraq War.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Nicholson said in a statement following the strike.

“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Nicholson added.

“US forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. US Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan,” read the statement from US Forces Afghanistan.

The extent of the damage and whether anyone was killed is not yet clear. The military is currently conducting an assessment.

The Pentagon is currently reviewing whether to deploy additional trainers to Afghanistan to help bolster US allies there.

The Achin district is the primary center of ISIS activity in Afghanistan. A US Army Special Forces soldier was killed fighting the terror group there Saturday.

 

Meanwhile Putin brags about the “The Father of All Bombs” (FOAB)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_of_All_Bombs

Type      Thermobaric bomb

Place of origin    Russia

Service history Used by   Russian Air Force

Designer              Russian military

Produced             2007

Specifications Weight      7,100 kg (15,650 lb)

Filling     High explosive and fine aluminium powder and ethylene oxide mix.

Blast yield            44 tons TNT / 80,000 Ibs

Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP) Russian: Авиационная вакуумная бомба повышенной мощности (АВБПМ), nicknamed “Father of All Bombs” (FOAB) Russian: “Отец всех бомб” (“Овб”), is a Russian-designed, bomber-delivered thermobaric weapon.

The bomb is reportedly four times as powerful as the US military’s GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (whose official military acronym “MOAB” is often unofficially rendered as “Mother of All Bombs”). This Russian device would therefore be the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) weapon in the world.The veracity of Russia’s claims concerning the weapon’s size and power have been questioned by US defense analysts.

“FOAB” was successfully field-tested in the late evening of September 11, 2007. The new weapon is to replace several smaller types of nuclear bombs in its arsenal.

Fireball blast from the Russian “Father of All Bombs”, with the beginnings of a mushroom cloud

The thermobaric device yields the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT using about seven tons of a new type of high explosive. Because of this, the bomb’s blast and pressure wave have a similar effect to a small tactical nuclear weapon, although on a smaller scale.[5][clarification needed] The bomb works by detonating in mid-air. Most damage is inflicted by a supersonic shockwave and extremely high temperatures.[4][6] Thermobaric weapons differ from conventional explosive weapons in that they generate a longer, more sustained blast wave with greater temperatures. In doing so, they produce more damage over a larger area than a conventional weapon of similar mass.

Compared with MOAB    Edit

According to General Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because the temperature at the centre of the blast is twice as high. He says the bomb’s capabilities are comparable to nuclear weapons, but unlike nuclear weaponry known for its radioactive fallout, use of the weapon does not damage or pollute the environment beyond the blast radius.

In comparison, the MOAB produces the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT from 8 tons of high explosive. The blast radius of the FOAB is 300 meters, almost double that of the MOAB, and the temperature produced is twice as high.

 

Indicator              MОАВ[9]                                FОАВ[10]

Mass:                 8.2 tonnes                                   7.1 tonnes

TNT equivalent: 11 tons (22,000 lb)           ≈44 tons (≈88,000 lb)

Blast radius:        150 meters (492 ft)          300 meters (984 ft)

Guidance:            INS/GPS               Unknown (presumably GLONASS)

 

Some defense analysts question both the yield of the bomb and whether it could be deployed by a Tupolev Tu-160 bomber. A report by Wired says photos and the video of the event suggest that it is designed to be deployed from the rear of a slow moving cargo plane, and they note that the bomb-test video released by the Russians never shows both the bomb and the bomber in the same camera shot. There are also questions on what type of explosives it used. They quoted Tom Burky, a senior research scientist at Battelle, saying “It’s not even clear what kind of weapon the Russians tested.” He questions if it was what some experts call a fuel-air explosive or if it was a thermobaric weapon. “Fuel-air and thermobaric bombs differ in usefulness”. Burky says that the weapon depicted in the video appears to be a fuel-air explosive, based on its shape.

German military analyst Sascha Lange speaking at Deutsche Welle pointed out multiple discrepancies of the released video and expressed his skepticism.

John Pike, an analyst at the think tank GlobalSecurity, says he believes the weapon is roughly as powerful as the Russians claim. What he does not necessarily believe is that the weapon is new. He says the Russians have possessed a range of thermobaric weapons for at least four decades. Pike says “These are fuel-air explosives, designed to generate intense blast pressure over a large area. It is reported that the Russian bomb is a so-called thermobaric bomb that produces both blast and heat. The Russian military has been a pioneer in the development and use of these thermobaric weapons. This would have to be one of the largest deliverable, droppable bombs in military history.”

Robert Hewson, an editor for Jane’s Information Group, told the BBC it was likely that FOAB indeed represented the world’s biggest non-nuclear bomb. “You can argue about the numbers and how you scale this but the Russians have a long and proven history of developing weapons in the thermobaric class”, he says. UPI claimed the device “would enormously boost Russia’s conventional military capabilities”.

3 stories from the Country of The Donald’s BFF

 

Mother Russia

 

Russia’s Supreme Court is reviewing a government request to ban the Jehovah’s Witnesses and designate the religious group as an extremist organization.

The Justice Ministry in Moscow has been investigating the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Russian headquarters near St. Petersburg over the last year and claimed it discovered violations of a Russian law banning extremism. The ministry accused the organization of disseminating “extremist” pamphlets and said the center, and nearly 400 other local branches of the group, should be “liquidated.”

One pamphlet the ministry reportedly took issue with quoted the novelist Leo Tolstoy and described the beliefs of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, according to the BBC.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses filed a counter lawsuit against the Justice Ministry, calling its actions unlawful and asking the court to recognize the organization’s members as victims of political repression. The Supreme Court dismissed the counter lawsuit on Wednesday, reportedly saying it wasn’t eligible to rule on issues of political repression, according the Russian Legal Information Agency. The court adjourned the hearing until Thursday.

The ministry filed its claim on March 15, urging the court to shut down all worship activities by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country. David A. Semonian, a spokesman at the Witnesses’ world headquarters, responded in a statement, saying: “Prosecuting non-violent, law-abiding citizens as if they were terrorists is clearly a misapplication of anti-extremist laws. Such prosecution is based on completely false grounds.”

There are more than 170,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, according to the U.S.-based religion’s website. Like Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists and other religious minorities in the country, they have recently been subject to Russian anti-extremism laws that ban proselytizing and curtail the dissemination of religious literature.

The government has cracked down on the group in recent years, imposing fines on congregations and occasionally arresting leaders perceived to be stoking anti-government sentiment.

Andrei Sivak, a Russian elder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, was arrested in 2010 after undercover security officers infiltrated services and secretly filmed him leading worship. The government accused Sivak and another elder, Vyacheslav Stepanov, of “inciting hatred and disparaging the human dignity of citizens.”

“Their disregard for the state erodes any sense of civic affiliation and promotes the destruction of national and state security,” claimed a report prepared for the prosecution, according to The New York Times.

The current crackdown echoes previous eras of antagonism toward the religious group. Vasily Kalin, chairman of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Russian arm, was deported with his family to Siberia when he was a child ― during a time when the Soviet Union outlawed the religion and deported thousands of members.

“It is sad and reprehensible that my children and grandchildren should be facing a similar fate,” Kalin told The New York Times. “Never did I expect that we would again face the threat of religious

persecution in modern Russia.”

Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in a statement: “The Russian government’s latest actions appear designed to eliminate the legal existence of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia…. USCIRF calls on the Russian government to stop its harassment of this peaceful religious group.”

 

Russian spy deported

A New Yorker long-suspected of being part of a spy ring that had been in contact with a former adviser of President Donald Trump has been shipped back to Moscow, reports The Hill.

According to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Evgeny Buryakov, 42, was dispatched to Moscow on Wednesday.

“Removing individuals like Mr. Buryakov represents ICE’s highest enforcement priority, which is protecting the national security of the United States,” said spokesperson Rebecca Adducci, before adding, “ICE will continue to move aggressively against those who engage in actions that could potentially compromise the security of our nation.”

Buryakov pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiring to work as a Russian agent in the U.S., following a probe of a suspected spy ring involving Victor Podobnyy and Igor Sporyshev.

On Monday, a government report stated that Podobnyy had met with former Trump adviser Page back in 2013 at which time Page handed over documents as Podobnyy attempted to recruit him.

According to a transcript of Podobnyy speaking with government officials, he claimed, ““I think he [Page] is an idiot and forgot who I a He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could rise up. I also promised him a lot … this is intelligence method to cheat, how else to work with foreigners? You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go f*ck himself.”

Buryakov’s deportation comes at a time when both congressional intelligence committees are investigating ties between Russian agents and President Donald Trump’s campaign aides — including Page.

According to interview with CNN, Page insisted he hid his Russian involvement from the Trump campaign.

 

 

Former Breitbart News reporter joins Russian propaganda news agency Sputnik

Former Breitbart News investigative reporter Lee Stranahan is launching a radio show for Sputnik, a news organization owned and operated by the Russian government, the Atlantic reports.

“I’m on the Russian payroll now, when you work at Sputnik you’re being paid by the Russians,” Stranahan told the Atlantic’s Rosie Gray. “That’s what it is. I don’t have any qualms about it. Nothing about it really affects my position on stuff that I’ve had for years now.”

In a series of Twitter posts Wednesday, Stranahan promoted his new Sputnik radio show, a Crossfire-style debate show called “Fault Lines with [Garland] Nixon and Stranahan.” Stranahan promises the show, which launches Monday, will be “original, provocative and entertaining.”

As Gray reports, Stranahan quit Breitbart last month after he claimed he was prevented from covering the White House. He said the upside of working with Sputnik is the freedom that comes from working with a Russian propaganda network.

“There’s no restrictions on what I can say, what I can do, anything like that,” Stranahan said. “I’m not easily controllable.”

Breitbart News’s, formerly chaired by Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, is reportedly being examined by the FBI as part of its ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russian operative trying to influence the 2016 election. Breitbart was decidedly pro-Trump throughout the campaign.

Stranahan tried to downplay any relation between the Trump campaign and Russia, calling the story “bogus.”

“I think the whole narrative trying to tie Trump to Russia is a huge problem,” Stranahan said.