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Tens of Thousands Rally Against 'Immoral' Charlie Hebdo in Chechnya

Tens of thousands of people staged a rally on Monday in Russia's Chechnya region against French magazine Charlie Hebdo's cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which the predominantly Muslim region's leader denounced as "vulgar and immoral."

Carrying signs declaring "Hands off the Prophet Muhammad," men in traditional Chechen dress and women and children shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) as they streamed down the main thoroughfare of Chechnya's capital, Grozny, rebuilt after two separatist wars in the North Caucasus region.

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a picture of Muhammad weeping on its cover last week after gunmen stormed its offices, killing 12 people. The gunmen said the attack was revenge for cartoons the magazine had published mocking Islam.

"We will launch a decisive protest against the vulgarity, immorality, lack of culture and shamelessness of those who drew the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)," Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov wrote online before the rally.

"We publicly warn that we will not tolerate similar actions," he said. Kadyrov said he expected up to 1 million people to attend the rally.

Kremlin-backed Kadyrov, who opposes an insurgency that aims to carve out an Islamist state in the mostly Muslim North Caucasus, has cultivated his own brand of Islam which critics say contradicts Russian law.

Mass rallies organized in the region have been used to show Kadyrov's allegiance to Moscow. Around 100,000 were estimated to have marched in Grozny at a rally organized for the birthday of President Vladimir Putin last year.

Some participants in other rallies have criticized Chechen authorities, saying they were forced to attend.

Some state-controlled and Kremlin-friendly media in Russia, which has passed a law making it illegal to offend religious sentiment, have questioned the value of free speech since the Paris killings.


Михаил Пасечник jan 19 15, 13:22
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West seeks to isolate, overthrow Putin while demanding he resolves Ukraine crisis – presidential spox

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich)

The West is attempting to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin in the international arena and even topple him, while simultaneously demanding that he resolve the crisis in Ukraine, Putin’s spokesman said in an interview with a Russian newspaper.

Currently in Western diplomacy, with reference to Ukraine“there is a substitution of concepts, which is leading to an escalation of the conflict” in the country, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the chief editor of the “Argumenty I Fakty” (“Arguments and Facts”) weekly on Tuesday.

“In the meantime, to put it simply, the West is trying to play Putin off as a party to the conflict, to isolate him in international politics, to strangle Russia economically in their own interests, to get him overthrown, while demanding that he resolves the crisis in the neighboring country,” he said.

READ MORE: Lavrov on Obama speech: Efforts to isolate Russia will fail 

The conflict in Ukraine has “unmasked” the nature of international diplomacy, international relations and laws, he added.

There is no chance Putin will be invited to the next meeting of G7 leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on Thursday. “The former G8 group has always viewed itself as a community of values,” she said. Peskov said that the Russian President is not expecting an invitation.

According to Merkel “supposedly Putin does not fit into this system of values with his world view,” he remarked.“Is this the system, which, for example, allows the recognition of the results of a coup d’etat the next day [after it happened]? If so, Putin surely does not fit into such a system with his understanding that such a revolution can hardly be legal,” he said.

Moscow is already doing everything it can to end the conflict in Ukraine, Peskov assured. Russia “is helping Ukraine’s economy, ensuring the coal supply, electricity and so on, and sending humanitarian convoys to the people in need in the south-east.”

However, Russia cannot resolve the conflict as it is an “inter-Ukrainian issue” and the dialogue can be “launched only by...[officials in] Kiev”, he added.

The attempt to solve the crisis using force is a dead end. Over 7,000 people have already died in the war. Until Kiev starts communicating with its regions, people will continue dying,” Peskov said.

Ukrainian troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas in eastern Ukraine after an order from Kiev on Sunday morning. The assault came despite Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko receiving a proposal on Thursday night from Putin, suggesting that both sides of the conflict withdraw their heavy artillery in accordance with the Minsk agreements.

READ MORE: Poroshenko rejected Putin’s artillery withdrawal plan, began assault – Kremlin

On Tuesday Peskov expressed hope that the Minsk group will continue its efforts and discussions will bear fruit in order for talks in the so-called “Normandy format” to take place as planned in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The Normandy Four platform – Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany – was created in June 2014 when the leaders discussed the Ukrainian crisis on the sidelines of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France.

http://rt.com/politics/224911-west-isolate-russia-putin/


Михаил Пасечник jan 24 15, 14:05
+2 1

Putin, Hollande, Merkel continuing talks in Kremlin

he leaders of France and Germany have come to Moscow to discuss possible ways of settling the situation in eastern Ukraine
© AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
 

 

MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are continuing talks in the Kremlin.

"The talks are being held in a narrow format, members of the delegations and experts are not present," Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

After 1.5 hours of tete-a-tete talks without journalists, the leaders went out to reporters.

Putin, Merkel and Hollande posed for a couple of minutes in front of photographers and cameramen. Then Putin thanked journalists and asked them to go out.

The two European leaders have arrived in Moscow to discuss possible ways of settling the situation in eastern Ukraine. On Thursday, Merkel and Hollande paid a brief visit to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. No details of their Ukrainian visit were made public.

The French leader said earlier he and the German Chancellor were bringing some proposals to Moscow. No details of these proposals have been revealed so far. The British media say this peace plan is based on reworded proposals the Russian leader previously referred to the European leaders.

 

 

Earlier on Friday, Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov said Friday’s meeting between the three leaders had been prompted by an aggravating situation in Ukraine. "But also the numerous initiatives the Russian president voiced in phone conversations with Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko in recent weeks have been good incentives [to the process]," Ushakov said, referring in particular to Putin’s letter to Poroshenko on January 15, in which he suggested an immediate pullback of heavy artillery.

"We are ready for a constructive conversation aiming to achieve certain agreements which will help to stabilize the situation and to establish direct contacts between official representatives of Kiev and Donbass," the presidential aide said, adding these agreements "should facilitate the more effective work of the Contact Group and assist in restoring economic ties between the Ukrainian government and the country's south-east."

http://itar-tass.com/en/world/776016


Михаил Пасечник feb 7 15, 00:19
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Meeting with President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro

Meeting with President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro.

Vladimir Putin and President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro discussed pressing issues of bilateral cooperation and the situation on the world energy market.

A substantive exchange was held during the Russian-Venezuelan talks on implementing joint projects, including in the energy sector. The parties spoke in favour of intensifying efforts by the interstate commission and confirmed their readiness to take energetic steps to overcome the drop in trade and economic relations between the two nations.

* * *

Beginning of meeting with President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr President, I am happy to welcome you to Moscow. Thank you for finding the time during your international tour to respond to our invitation to visit Russia.

Before we discuss global energy matters, I would like to note that Venezuela is not only a good friend, but also a very close partner, one of our leading partners in Latin America. Therefore, I am very happy to have this opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations as well, including both current matters and major large-scale projects.

We are very happy to see you here. Welcome!

PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA NICOLAS MADURO (retranslated): We are also very happy to have the opportunity to visit you once again, Mr Putin. Last time we met in Brazil; that was six months ago during a meeting of Latin American states with the BRICS states.

This time we have come to discuss issues pertaining to our bilateral relations and the stabilisation on the markets of natural resources. These issues are very important for our relations – issues of relations between Russia and Venezuela, between Russia and other Latin American countries.

We would like to reiterate our solidarity with the Russian people and our deep faith in your ability to work, faith that you will be able to handle this situation and move forward.

Venezuela will always be with Russia.

VLADIMIR PUTIN:  Thank you.


Михаил Пасечник jan 17 15, 17:15
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Meeting with Alexei Mordashov

With CEO of Severstal Management Alexei Mordashov.

Severstal Management CEO Alexei Mordashov reported to the President on PAO Severstal's performance in 2014, the companies' potential for development on the domestic market and the implementation of social programmes.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Mordashov, my colleagues and I were just saying that you have over 50,000 workers at Severstal, while overall, the group employs more than 90,000 people. This is an enormous workforce, and indeed, the companies have a long history. Of course, a great deal depends on the organisation of production, but the labour traditions also have great significance. In this respect, I would like to talk about your achievements last year and the group’s future plans.

I know you are also carrying out major social projects in various areas.

CEO OF JSC SEVERSTAL MANAGEMENT ALEXEI MORDASHOV: Mr President, to start, thank you for finding the time in your busy schedule to see me. Thank you very much.

Indeed, first and foremost, the results in our company are achieved by people who put a great deal of effort and time into the success of Severstal. Overall, we feel we are developing well and are looking forward to the future with optimism. Last year was a good year for all our companies, especially for Severstal itself – the primary and largest company in our group, employing the biggest number of workers at over 50,000.

Last year, we increased our production volume slightly: steel production went up by about 2 percent. Overall, we achieved good indicators, you could say, the world’s leading indicators in terms of such important factors as production profitability and net debt volume. At the same time, we did a great deal of work abroad, but came to the conclusion that our future lies primarily in Russia, in the Russian market, and our production here is most efficient. We sold the North American division and are focusing almost entirely on our Russian assets. This has led to a fairly high profit level.

We have taken on many social programmes. To continue the topic on which you chaired a State Council meeting in Cherepovets recently, we are persevering in our efforts to help children and fight homelessness. We have a large Road to Home programme, which we are developing in the regions where we have a presence. Just before the New Year, we held a meeting with the Governor to look at the outcomes of this programme. We were happy to see that the percentage of homeless children in Cherepovets is half of the national average. In other words, I think the programme is providing significant results.

We are continuing these efforts. For example, just recently, we signed a new collective agreement for three years where we stipulated payments to women who are on leave to care for children aged 18 months to three years, wherein they receive benefits of 4,000 rubles per month, etc.

We are continuing to invest in production. Last year, we launched a long product mill in Balakovo, Saratov Region, which produces one million tonnes of rolled steel per year, worth about $800 million. It has now reached its designed capacity.

Overall, we are continuing to invest. Last year, we invested 32 billion rubles [about $500 million]. This year, we expect to invest 30 billion rubles. We are reconstructing mills in Cherepovets: a hot rolling mill and a cold rolling mill. In other words, overall, we are looking to the future with confidence.

We believe our future lies primarily in the Russian market, which in our view has good potential. Right now, there is a lot of talk about the difficult times and so on. But I think that what is happening now, in spite of some serious difficulties, also represents good potential for growth. In other words, what is happening is a serious correction to the macroeconomic indicators, but on the other hand, these events are making national production more competitive.

Of course, we will probably have to go through a difficult period of several months while everything stabilises and new conditions take hold, but when they do, I am certain we will have new growth opportunities. Therefore, these opportunities are at the heart of all our efforts at Severstal and in our companies as Power Machines, which will also focus primarily on the domestic Russian market. They have a portfolio of orders for three years to come. At the same time, we are developing new types of products, actively working on designing products for our key clients, such as RusHydro, manufacturing turbines, generators for Rosatom, and trying to develop a low speed turboset for nuclear power plants, etc.

The SVEZA company, which is Russia’s leader in plywood production with six plywood mills, is also investing and developing. We are considering a project to build a pulp mill in the Russian Federation.

Thus, we see serious potential in our nation and are working actively.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What is the average salary at Severstal?

ALEXEI MORDASHOV: It’s 54,000 rubles at Severstal, but it’s lower at SVEZA, which is based in the regions, so the average there is 34,000. At Power Machines, it is about 60,000, since they are mainly working in large cities.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: How do you assess the current state of the global markets?

ALEXEI MORDASHOV: The state varies, of course, but for the most part, in our industries, there is a certain excess capacity everywhere, which was built in recent years in anticipation of growth in Asian markets, first and foremost, China, which means a certain increase in competition. But overall, for us, it means we need to be competitive. And what is happening in Russia today largely helps us overcome all the existing difficulties.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is certainly quite timely that you are investing in modernisation.

ALEXEI MORDASHOV: It is very important to expand production, to develop human resources first and foremost, to prevent unreasonable investments, maintain a reasonable level of debt (thankfully, all our companies have a fairly low level of debt) and have high profitability. Nearly all our companies are among the leaders in profitability within their sectors, globally and in Russia.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good. Thank you.

<…>

 

January 19, 2015, 14:20Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/23499


Михаил Пасечник jan 20 15, 13:32
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Meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission

Meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation.

The President held a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission to discuss, among other things, the funding and resources for the State Armament Programme until 2025 and the work of the Advanced Research Foundation.

During the meeting, the President said he had signed Executive Order On the Chief Designer of Armaments, Military and Special Equipmentwithin the framework of the implementation of the single military technology policy to create and upgrade armaments, military and special equipment.

* * *

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues.

At this meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission we will consider a number of key matters pertaining to Russia’s defence and security, and priority goals both for the short and long term.

I would like to begin by telling you that I have signed Executive Order On the Chief Designer of Armaments, Military and Special Equipment. As you may remember, back on September 10, 2014, we spoke of the need to draft such a document. It has been drafted and is now signed.

The chief designers will spearhead efforts to create strategically important munitions systems and will receive broad authority in terms of obtaining the resources for the projects. We expect to have no more than 20 such designers. The Military-Industrial Commission Board will carefully consider each candidate, and then they will be approved at a Commission meeting. This significantly raises both the status and the personal responsibility of the chief designer. I expect this to improve efficiency in the implementation of key national defence and security projects.

Let us now go over certain key issues that we will discuss today. First, let us consider the funding and resources for the new State Armament Programme until 2025, which we are to approve this year.

I noted in my Address to the Federal Assembly that we do not intend to get involved in an expensive arms race.  Russia does not threaten anyone and we try to resolve all disputes by means of negotiations. We will continue to follow this policy in the future as well.

At the same time, we see other states openly making their geopolitical claims, not stopping short of open interference in the affairs of independent states, at the same time actively building up and modernising their military arsenals. Under the circumstances, it is our duty to ensure the reliable protection of Russia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests.

You all know what I mean when I say that many or some states are conducting a different policy, namely that of pressure with the use of force. We have all been observing this for an extended period of time. It is all done to the accompaniment of talk about international law, about a desire to resolve disputes by means of negotiations. However, in these matters, as we all know – as a politician of the past once said – it is the potential that matters rather than the intentions. We can see the potential growing.

I have already quoted some figures illustrating the funding allocated by Russia and by other countries for military needs. These are absolutely incomparable numbers. They spend several times more than we do. However, I would like to repeat that we can and should respond to this challenge, but without, as I have said, getting involved in a costly arms race. Can we do it? Of course, we can. The focus should be on high technologies.

We will continue to strengthen our Armed Forces and the military organisation as a whole and to do everything possible to ensure that our Armed Forces are up-to-date, mobile and well equipped, capable of performing their main duty – that of neutralising risks and potential political threats to this country’s security.

Our plans should certainly be realistic. As before, we have to take full stock of the financial and economic capabilities of the state and of the circumstances we are in, the state of our economy and the world economy. Obviously, we cannot make any defence and security plans without a serious analysis of the situation in this area. Therefore, today we will discuss the macroeconomic forecast as the basis for the draft State Armament Programme until 2025.

I would like to draw your attention here to at least two key issues. First, we must ensure continuity in the new State Armament Programme in respect to the current State Armament Programme for 2011-2020.

Second, the new draft Programme should take into consideration Russia’s Military Doctrine, approved on December 25 of last year, which specifies the military threats to this country’s security. The development, production and deliveries of new armaments and equipment should be prioritised in line with this very important strategic planning document.

The second major item is the activity of the Advanced Research Foundation in 2014. As you may remember, at our meeting in Tula a year ago we said the Foundation should become a sort of ‘technological lift’ for defence innovations; it should stimulate breakthrough, revolutionary research rather than engage in studies in areas that may be new, but have already been exhausted. This, by the way, is the only way we can ensure, as I have just said, this country’s defence capability and security without getting involved in an arms race. This Foundation is called upon to assist in the fastest possible implementation of new studies.

I would like to note that in the past year the Foundation has launched work on a range of important projects. This includes the creation of technologies and armaments that are unmatched in the world. We have actually begun creating the key elements of new armament systems and innovative production technologies. We saw some of them today at the specialised exhibition.

The Foundation should continue work on these priority areas. We know that today the Foundation Supervisory Board approved 49 projects, with 26 of them already in the implementation stage.

I would like to stress that the Foundation’s funding has to be increased this year. We will also touch upon this today. In any case, everything I have seen today shows that our colleagues are on the right track and are moving ahead towards their goals. There are some very interesting and promising studies. It sometimes seemed as though we were watching a sci-fi film.

In 2015, the Foundation should focus on expediting the development of breakthrough industrial technologies that should correspond to the new sixth technological mode. Such technologies will determine the image of our military industrial complex of tomorrow and will ensure the serial output of armaments and military equipment of a new generation. I would like Mr Rogozin [Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, President of the Advanced Research Foundation Supervisory Board] to pay special attention to such technologies in the planned adjustment of the Foundation’s activity plan.

Let us now proceed to the matters at hand.

<…>


Михаил Пасечник jan 21 15, 14:21
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Putin: No external pressure on Russia will go unchallenged

February 20, 2015. President Vladimir Putin, front fourth left, at a gala marking the Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Grand Kremlin Palace. Left: Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov. Third left: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.(RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)

Russia will always find an adequate response to any pressure coming from the outside, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a gala-show ahead of the upcoming Defender of the Fatherland Day, which honors those who served in the armed forces.

 

“Nobody should have any illusions that it’s possible to achieve military superiority over Russia – or put it under some sort of pressure – as we’ll always have an adequate response to such reckless schemes,” Putin told the audience.

 

The President said that Russian “soldiers and officers have proven that they are ready to act decisively, coherently, professionally and courageously, performing the most difficult unconventional tasks, as befits a modern, experienced, combat-ready army, which values its traditions and military duty.”

 

Defender of the Fatherland Day is an annual holiday in Russia celebrated on February 23. The holiday honors those who serve or have served in the military. It is also often referred to as Men’s Day (though the Russian military do not exclusively consist of men) to act as a counterpart to International Women's Day on March 8.

 

According to Putin, a lot has been done in the country in recent years to improve the effectiveness of the military administration.

 

“A large-scale program of rearming the Army and Navy is being successfully implemented, which includes an active development of the aerospace and nuclear forces. This is the guaranty of global parity,” the president said, adding that he will do everything in his power for the military’s potential to keep growing.

View image on Twitter

 

The President also promised to continue the program aimed at creating dignified conditions for military service, including building more service housing and the development of health and social services. He noted that later this year, on May 9, the world will be celebrating 70 years since the end of World War II.

 

“It’s a holy date for us as it was the Russian people, the Soviet Army, which made a decisive contribution in the victory against Nazism,” he said.

 

The USSR lost around 26 million people in WWII, with over half of the victims being civilians.

 

“This is our victory; our history, which we’ll vigorously defend from lies and oblivion,” he said, refereeing to what Moscow has viewed as attempts by officials in Ukraine and Poland to rewrite history and undermine Russia’s role and sacrifice during the war.

 

In January, Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said that it was the Ukrainian army, which liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during WWII.

 

Following the comment, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin reminded Schetyna that it was the Soviet Army which freed the camp. He added that the multinational front was called the First Ukrainian Front because “it liberated Ukraine from the Nazis before reaching Poland through battles.”

 

Moscow had earlier criticized Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who described the events of World War II as the “USSR’s attack on Ukraine and Germany.”


Михаил Пасечник feb 23 15, 22:35
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No oil, no ‘protection’? Boko Haram massacre in Nigeria sees little reaction from US

Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (AFP Photo / Boko Haram)

Boko Haram has massacred thousands of civilians in Nigeria, but US officials' response towards the horrific crimes have been strangely muted. RT’s Manila Chan explores a potential link to oil, which the US no longer receives from Nigeria.

To many, the lack of Washington's strive to aid the people of Nigeria – the biggest African economy – seems to follow simple geostrategic logic: no oil, no security support. While diverting funds to fight the Islamic State in Iraq, the US seems unwilling to address Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria.

READ MORE: Satellite images reveal ‘horrific’ scale of Boko Haram attack in Nigeria

As US is trying to master shale gas exploitation; it has moved away from some of its traditional trade partners, with Nigeria – an OPEC-member state – becoming the first country to stop selling oil to the US, statistics from the US Department of Energy reveal. Nigeria was one of the top five suppliers to the US at the height of trade, less than a decade ago supplying it with 1.3 million barrels of oil every day.

 

 

Yet despite Boko Haram’s territorial gains and promising outlook for jihadi domination of the whole region, the US – and the world – focuses on terror attacks in Europe and IS advances, completely neglecting the imminent threat stemming from the Nigerian terrorist network.

Some in Washington are already calling for strategy change.

"If we don't stop it in its tracks, we are destined for this horrible group to not step back but to continue to be in power," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

“It is clear that the United States needs a comprehensive strategy to address Boko Haram’s growing lethality,” Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Peter King, R-N.Y., wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

While the US spends an average of $8.2 million daily to battle the Islamic State in Iraq in Syria, it is spending almost zero to fight extremism in Nigeria.

Last year, Washington offered surveillance drones and 30 intelligence experts to help the Nigerian military rescue nearly 300 kidnapped schoolgirls. But in December, the Nigerian government stopped Washington's minimal strive to train its troops to fight Boko Haram.

"We regret premature termination of this training, as it was to be the first in a larger planned project that would have trained additional units with the goal of helping the Nigerian Army build capacity to counter Boko Haram," State Department spokesman Rodney Ford said in an email to the Military Times in December.

"The US government will continue other aspects of the extensive bilateral security relationship, as well as all other assistance programs, with Nigeria," he said. "The US government is committed to the long tradition of partnership with Nigeria and will continue to engage future requests for cooperation and training."

 

Boko Haram fighters parading on a tank in an unidentified town. (AFP Photo / HO / Boko Haram)

Boko Haram fighters parading on a tank in an unidentified town. (AFP Photo / HO / Boko Haram)

 

Boko Haram, which now controls an area the size of Slovakia, became widely known to the public last spring after kidnapping nearly 300 female students in northeast Nigeria. The US Department of State designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations in November 2013, despite it being operational from 2002.

READ MORE: Another ‘Islamic State’? Boko Haram’s captured area about size of Slovakia

In addition to mass murders in the ongoing and brutal campaign against Nigeria's military, government, and civilian targets, Boko Haram engages in massive oil theft from the resource-rich Niger Delta. It is estimated that national losses from oil theft rose from 10,000 barrels a day to 100,000 during the past five years of the current Jonathan administration.

Nigeria, which relies on oil for 70 percent of government revenues while fighting a major Islamist insurgency, is now looking to alternative buyers to compensate the loss of US market share. As a chain reaction, falling global oil prices are threatening Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram and the overall stability in West Africa.

China – which has become Africa’s biggest trading partner, with some $160 billion worth of goods exchanges a year – is trying to fill in the US-left vacuum in Nigeria. Even though China's demand for raw materials has declined, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced in May a plan to double bilateral trade to $400 billion by 2020. Stretching back to 2012, Beijing offered a $1.1 billion loan to Nigeria and announced an investment of over $10 billion for hydrocarbon prospecting close to Boko Haram’s zone of influence.

Despite a promising future of China-Niger relations, security in the African country is lacking. For now, Boko Haram is in de-facto control of much of Borno state – including three border crossings with Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

Watch the report by RT’s Manila Chan.

http://www.rt.com/news/223575-boko-haram-nigeria-usa/


Михаил Пасечник jan 18 15, 10:48
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Analysts Predict a Russian Descent Into Madness

Pavel Golovkin / Pool / ReutersDespite the panelists' conclusions on the Kremlin's hurdle-laden road ahead, it does not appear that Russia's economic downturn will necessarily force Putin's hand with regard to reforms.

President Vladimir Putin cannot afford at this point to reform the political system he has built up, as doing so would undermine his grip on power, a panel of political analysts said at the Gaidar Forum on Friday.

They went on to warn that without fundamental change, Russia risks an eventual descent into "revolutionary chaos." The panel, which consisted of several analysts known for their vocal criticism of Russian government policy, spoke before a packed audience.

Such heated political rhetoric may seem out of place at a high-level economic policy conference co-organized by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) and the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy. But the final day of this year's forum was marked by departures from mainstream economics, with forays into everything from politics to education.

The political panel was moderated by Leonid Gozman, who has stood at the helm of some of Russia's most prominent liberal parties over the course of the past decade.

At one point Gozman asked the panel, which included seven Russian analysts and one American, to say something nice about the ruling elite. "We have to say something good about the government, or we won't be allowed to hold this session again next year," he said facetiously.

Rapid Deterioration

Jokes aside, the speakers had a tough time finding any silver linings in what they saw as the many challenges Russia is presently facing due to the decisions Putin has made during his 15 years as Russia's central political figure.

Most of the analysts agreed that Russia's political system will likely remain inert over the course of 2015, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expected to remain in his post. At the same time, the majority agreed that the system is fragile, and susceptible to rapid deterioration.

"We have entered a stage of fantastic instability," said Georgy Satarov, former aide to Russia's first President, Boris Yeltsin, and now an expert on political corruption in Russia.

According to Satarov, the current economic crisis may leave the government with only two options: launch dramatic political reforms or tighten the screws.

"The fact that everyday life in Russia is still stable prevents common people from understanding how fragile the political situation is," he said.

The second option — cracking down — could provoke widespread dissent, which could in turn propel Russia into "revolutionary chaos," Saratov said. "This is an absolutely realistic scenario," he urged.

Experts were divided on the question of where such revolutionary chaos could originate. Political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Moscow-based Mercator political research group, suggested that momentum would likely start in Moscow, as the capital continues to grow increasingly gentrified and politically conscious in contrast to other Russian regions.

Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst with the Higher School of Economics, argued that such fervor could emerge in Chechnya, as its leader Ramzan Kadyrov grows increasingly independent and power-hungry.

"Kadyrov has 20,000 people that swore allegiance to him and Putin. In case there is a difficulty in Moscow, they would defend them," Petrov said. "Russia is hostage to the regime; the regime is hostage to Putin; while Putin is hostage to his decisions, which have left him without an exit strategy."

Perestroika Impossible

Tatiana Vorozheikina, a political scientist specializing in Latin American affairs, argued that fundamental political change remains an unlikely scenario for the foreseeable future in Russia, as such change would threaten the standing of the present-day political elite.

At the same time, she opined, the current structure is rooted in Putin. "I don't believe the regime can be preserved without Putin," said Vorozheikina. "The process of a negative selection among the elites did not leave anybody prominent and authoritative in the establishment, who would be able to assume power during the transition period."

Regardless of the likelihood of impending change, Vorozheikina argued that Russia's political power players are not primarily to blame for bringing about the country's current economic crisis.

Putin's Rating

Despite the panelists' conclusions on the Kremlin's hurdle-laden road ahead, it does not appear that Russia's economic downturn will necessarily force Putin's hand with regard to reforms. Recent statistics reveal that his approval ratings are no longer tied to the country's overall prosperity.

Poll results published last week by the independent Levada Center revealed that 55 percent of Russians would like to see Putin remain Russia's president after the next election in 2018. Tellingly, 54 percent of respondents said they see no alternative to Putin. The poll was conducted among 1,600 respondents with the margin of error not exceeding 3.4 percent.

According to Alexei Levinson, senior researcher at the Levada Center, approval of Putin and approval of the Russian leadership overall are two very different issues.

"Over the past 15 months, Putin has come to be seen as a symbolic and sacred figure who is not responsible for the economic situation in the country, but is responsible for the country's greatness," Levinson told the Gaidar Forum audience.

"The more Russians feel that they are threatened by the outside world, the more they will consolidate around Putin," he said.

Predictions and Advice

As the session drew to a close, Gozman asked the participants to offer words of advice to Putin, and to hypothesize about the coming year.

Most experts recommended that Putin introduce fair competition into the political system, in particular by allowing possible "successors" to emerge.

"Russia must find a mechanism that would introduce rotation into government … No regime can survive without rotation at the very top," said Timothy Colton, professor of government and Russian studies at Harvard and chairman of the university's department of government.

As for the coming year, most experts were grim, predicting that the crisis in Ukraine will likely escalate over the course of 2015, and that protest activity in Russia will likely remain small-scale and localized, even if it intensifies.

Gozman said that most of the last year's predictions failed to materialize, and that the prize — a bottle of booze — would therefore not be awarded to any of the panelists. However, next year's winner will get two bottles to distract from the dismal realities he or she correctly predicted this year — that is, if the Presidential Academy allows the same experts to hold such a panel again, he added.

Contact the author at i.nechepurenko@imedia.ru

 

 


Михаил Пасечник jan 18 15, 22:15
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‘Anti-Maidan’ movement launched to oppose color revolutions in Russia

AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov

A broad movement uniting war veterans, nationalist bikers and conservative politicians has been launched in Moscow to oppose the so called ‘color revolutions’ – changes of political regime through street protests rather than elections.

The movement was introduced by one of its founders, deputy head of the Combat Brotherhood veterans’ group, Dmitry Sablin at a conference. Other key members include deputy head of the majority United Russia parliamentary caucus Franz Klintsevich, co-chairman of the Great Fatherland party Nikolai Starikov and Aleksandr Zaldostanov, the leader of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, known for its support for President Vladimir Putin and Russian national interests.

 

Russian Bikers' Association president Alexander Zaldostanov.(RIA Novosti / Anton Stekov)

Russian Bikers' Association president Alexander Zaldostanov.(RIA Novosti / Anton Stekov)

 

Movement members are using ‘anti-Maidan’ to describe it. The term comes from the Ukrainian word maidan that means city square, but is now used to describe the street protests and clashes with police that eventually led to the ousting of President Yanukovich of Ukraine last year.

Maidan has not appeared in Ukraine in one day. It was unwound gradually, step by step. People received money for participation as well as for every thrown cobblestone or bottle. We understand that the processes are now taking place in Russia is just a testing step for a similar process,” Sablin said at the founding conference.

We also understand that all street movements and colored revolutions lead to bloodshed. And children, women and elderly people are the first to suffer. Of course we will oppose this movement at every step,” the activist added.

The first meeting of the anti-Maidan activists took place on the same day as a demonstration in central Moscow’s Manezhnaya square. The idea was to counter supporters of the famous anti-corruption blogger-turned opposition politician Aleksey Navalny, who wanted to protest against the suspended sentence for embezzlement handed down on him in late December. According to police reports there were 500 protesters, and conservative activists outnumbered Navalny supporters nine to one. About 10 people were detained for public order offences and taken to the nearest police stations.

We will just look each other in the eye, look in the eyes of the young people who fall victim of deception,” Sablin said, describing his movement’s preferred tactics. “We will be there to make sure that other people are not violating any laws when they express their opinion. And also to demonstrate an opposite position, the majority position and the position of the people on behalf of which the opposition is trying to speak,” he emphasized.

Nikolai Starikov added in press comments that the new movement would also launch several propaganda projects that would explain to ordinary people that behind the attractive slogans used by the opposition there is nothing but a desire to split Russia into several parts that would be small and weak.

It should be noted, however, that the first success of the new movement can be explained by the fact that earlier this month Navalny called upon his supporters to change the time of protests from mid-January to mid-February as this could supposedly give the various opposition movements more time to work out a unified position.

http://www.rt.com/politics/223259-russia-oppose-revolution-m...


Михаил Пасечник jan 18 15, 17:47
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Ser korz
Ser korz
West Fascist Ukraine is a lunatic's lunatic ( AND all thanks to the USA -NATO- EU).

Poor fascist …
Ser korz Ukraine, you're crazy!
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LAST COMMENTS

Ser korz
Ser korz
West Fascist Ukraine is a lunatic's lunatic ( AND all thanks to the USA -NATO- EU).

Poor fascist …
Ser korz Ukraine, you're crazy!