Monday, March 2, 2015

Russians march in Moscow over murder of Boris Nemtsov

Russians march in Moscow over murder of Boris Nemtsov

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Tens of thousands of Russians take to the streets of Moscow to protest over the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. Report by Jeremy Barnes.
From: ODN
Time: 01:46More in News & Politics

Latest Queen Elizabeth coin unveiled 

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Fifth coin of British monarch’s reign dating back to coronation in 1952 is first to be created entirely digitally and will replace 1998 version
The lines around the eyes have deepened, the chin has softened, but in the fifth and possibly final coin portrait of her reign, the Queen is looking to the right, straight into the future, with a faint smile.
This autumn, Elizabeth II will pass Victoria’s record as the longest reigning British monarch, and with the issue of the latest coin she equals the number of official portraits issued for Victoria.
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Kerry, Lavrov open tough talks on Ukraine, Nemtsov - The Sun Daily

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Kerry, Lavrov open tough talks on Ukraine, Nemtsov
The Sun Daily
GENEVA: US Secretary of State John Kerry began tough talks in Geneva Monday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov due to focus on the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Kerry was also expected to press Lavrov to ensure that Moscow carries out a credible ...

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U.S. ambassador meets Yemen's Hadi in Aden

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SANAA (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Yemen visited President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden on Sunday, their first public meeting since Washington closed its embassy in Sanaa last month after Houthis took full control there.


Nemtsov's shaken girlfriend says she didn't see killer

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Boris Nemtsov's girlfriend has broken her public silence on the murder of the Russian opposition activist, saying she did not see the killer who gunned him down as they strolled across a bridge near the Kremlin.

Toronto Police Find Mystery Tunnellers

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Police had feared that the tunnel, just metres from a popular sporting venue, was built with terrorist or other criminal intent.

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Netanyahu: US Relations 'Stronger Than Ever'

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the largest pro-Israel lobby in the US that the two countries' ties are "stronger than ever".

Blood near the Kremlin: Russia's media fight back

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A corpse on a bloodstained bridge, with the Kremlin's red stars glowing behind: the perfect symbolic backdrop, Russian media say, for the West to step up a campaign to vilify President Vladimir Putin.

Bill Gates repeats at top of Forbes' list of billionaires

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The world's richest person got even richer this year....

U.S.'s Power: U.S.-Israel Alliance 'Cannot Be Politicized'

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The Obama administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, seeking to calm relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledged on Monday that the U.S. “will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Here’s What Will Send Oil Prices Back Up Again 

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Oil’s rapid decline since August of last year has been dramatic. To listen to some commentators you would also think it is unprecedented and irreversible. Those claiming that oil will continue to fall from here and remain low for evermore, however, are flying in the face of both history and common sense. The question we should be asking ourselves is not if oil prices will recover, but when they will.
Macrotrends.netInflation adjusted WTI since Jan 1985.
From June of 2014 until now, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil has fallen approximately 57 percent. As the above chart shows, there have been drops of a similar percentage five times in the last 30 years. The rate of recovery has been different each time, but recovery has come. In addition, since 1999 the chart shows a consistent pattern of higher lows. In other words, oil is a volatile market, but prices are in a long term upward trend.
Charts can only tell us so much, however. Even a long term trend can be broken if fundamental conditions change, and that, say those predicting that oil will never recover, is what has happened. There is no doubt that supply has increased. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” technology has unlocked reserves of oil and natural gas previously thought of as unrecoverable. Supply alone, however, doesn’t determine price. We must also consider demand, and that has been increasing too.
U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA)
According to this chart, from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), demand has been increasing along with supply since 2010. Admittedly there has been a production surplus since the beginning of 2014 but that is nothing new and is forecast to be back in balance by the end of this year. The increased production, then, is in response to increasing demand; hardly a recipe for a protracted period of low prices. The supply situation makes it unlikely that the recovery will be rapid, but a gradual move up over the next few years is the only logical conclusion.
The low price brigade cites another factor in making their predictions, the rise of alternative energy sources. There is no doubt that there have been significant advances in that area, particularly in wind and solar power, but, according to the EIA, renewables currently account for 11 percent of the world’s energy consumption. That number will undoubtedly grow in the coming years, but, whether we like it or not, oil consumption still looks set to grow over the next few years. Fracking can fill some of that demand, but the simple fact remains that oil is still used extensively, and we are using more of it every year. The price simply cannot stay low for an extended period, but while it does it will delay research and infrastructure spending on renewables, slowing the pace of their adoption.
Any increase in price would be hastened by a decision from OPEC and Saudi Arabia in particular, to reduce production. Right now they say that that is not on the cards, and why would they cut back? Their attitude seems to be that the oversupply was not their doing, and as their oil is cheap to produce, they can sit back and watch those who did cause the problem, most notably the upstart American companies, suffer. OPEC has always played the long game and will undoubtedly do so again, but once the lesson has been taught the pressure to restrict supply somewhat will mount. Again it may take time, but it will probably come.
History tells us that the price of oil will bounce back, but so does basic logic. Oil is a finite resource that we are using at an increasing rate, and as long as that situation remains, the laws of supply and demand mean that the price must recover. That is a good thing. As long as oil remains cheap there is little incentive to invest in the alternatives that we will inevitably need someday, nor to reduce our consumption of what is essentially a dirty fuel source. So, enjoy low fuel prices while you can, but don’t expect them to last forever.
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Boris Nemtsov's Girlfriend: 'I Saw No One'

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The girlfriend of the former Russian opposition leader says she is being treated as a suspect rather than a witness to his death.

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Who is Mohammed Emwazi? From 'lovely boy' to Islamic State killer 

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Picture that has emerged since Briton was identified from jihadi videos shows a progression from ‘painfully shy’ child to militant ‘played’ by Isis
Four days after the knife-wielding Isis militant who gloried in the beheadings of US, British and other hostages was revealed to be the British national Mohammed Emwazi, details of his life and personality have surfaced from those that knew him.
The picture that has emerged is riddled with apparent contradictions. Classmates described a quiet boy dedicated to his religion who dreamed of being a footballer. At secondary school he struggled with the usual teenage angst, unrequited love and an awkwardness around girls. He was a “lovely, lovely boy”, according to one former teacher, but had to take anger management sessions because he was unable to control his emotions.
The fact that he portrays himself as a strict Muslim is laughable and shameful
He wrote Arabic on the board to show us what it looked like and how it went in the other direction. He showed us a religious text and spoke about what his religion was about.
[...]He mentioned fasting. His English wasn’t very good throughout primary school. He could only say a few words at first – like his name and where he was from.
He smoked drugs, drank and was violent towards other boys. The fact that he portrays himself as a strict Muslim is laughable and shameful.
Seeing him on the TV in his mask, brandishing a dagger and beheading people, it is difficult to believe he is the same person.
Only eight years ago, he was a painfully shy, nervous guy who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. He was bullied and humiliated by girls. To think he has killed so many people is impossible to comprehend.
He was shy and reserved. He was really quiet and didn’t get involved in all the hype and drama of school life. He never spoke to girls unless he had to. He was awkward. I was so shocked when I saw the news that he was Jihadi John. I couldn’t believe the pictures of him in a balaclava and in Syria. It’s not the person I knew from school.
We’d find that he’d get very angry and worked up and it would take him a long time to calm himself down, so we did a lot of work as a school to help him with his anger and to control his emotions. It seemed to work. He had a lot of respect for all of the work that had been done for him at our school.
I am not prepared to say when the radicalisation took place. All I can say is absolutely hand on heart, we had no knowledge of it. If we had we would have done something about it.
There was never any sense that any of these young men as I knew them were radicalised when they were in school.
He was just a normal boy, a bit temperamental as a teenager but I thought it was just puberty. He loved football and spending time with his friends.
I am shocked. We knew his family were distressed because they didn’t know where he was. They are a lovely family, they are absolutely amazing.
He was the best employee we ever had. He was very good with people. Calm and decent. He came to our door and gave us his CV.
How could someone as calm and quiet as him become like the man who we saw on the news? It’s just not logical that he could be this guy.
I felt shocked, & paused for a few seconds as he walked away... I knew it was them!! Sometimes i feel like im a dead man walking, not fearing they may kill me.
Rather, fearing that one day, I’ll take as many pills as I can so that I can sleep for ever!! I just want to get away from these people!!!
We need to look at why security services have been allowed to get away with abusing British citizens without redress? #MohammedEmwazi
He was such a beautiful young man […] He was the most humble young person that I knew. This is the kind of person that we are talking about.
When are we going to finally learn that when we treat people as if they’re outsiders they are going to feel like outsiders and they will look for belonging elsewhere?
He was cold. He didn’t talk much. He wouldn’t join us in prayer. He’d only pray with his friends ... the other British brothers prayed with us, but he was strange.
The other British brothers would say ‘Hi’ when they saw us on the road, but he turned his face away. The British fighters were always hanging out together, but he wouldn’t join them.
Some love him. Some joined Isis after watching and admiring him; they take him as an example.
Isis play him like a piano. He’s a celebrity to attract our Muslim brothers in Europe but some think he is showing off; they think he’s being used by Isis.
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Key Witness Didn't See Nemtsov's Killer

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A key witness who was walking with opposition activist Boris Nemtsov when he was gunned down near the Kremlin said she didn’t see the killer.

Rival Blogger Arrested in Connection With American's Death in Bangladesh

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Bangladeshi police said Monday they had arrested an Islamic fundamentalist blogger in connection with last week’s killing of a Bangladeshi-born American writer critical of religion.

Netanyahu defends decision to address Congress: 'Today we are no longer silent' 

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In speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee the Israeli prime minister insists visit to Congress is necessary to control Iran’s nuclear potential
An undaunted Binyamin Netanyahu has defended his decision to defy the White House and accept an invitation from Republican leader John Boehner to address Congress on Tuesday on the risks of a nuclear deal with Iran.
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New coinage portrait of the Queen is unveiled 

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Her profile is one of the most famous in the world and is seen every day on British coins but now the Queen is set to get a new look. Report by Claire Lomas.
From: ODN
Time: 01:19More in News & Politics

Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt - Washington Post

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Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt
Washington Post
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube. A jury in the New York suburbs found ... 
Lacey Spears: New York Woman
 Found Guilty of Poisoning Son With Salt 
WaterABC News
Lacey Spears: Mother Found Guilty Of Poisoning Son, 5, With SaltHollywood Life
Lacey Spears found guilty of 2nd-degree murderNews 12 Westchester
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Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube....

Nemtsov thought fame offered protection

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Slain Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov knew criticizing the Kremlin was dangerous, but thought his fame would protect him.

Nemtsov’s Companion, Witness to Killing, Says She’s Barred From Leaving Russia 

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Anna Duritskaya, a Ukrainian model, said the Russian police were not allowing her to return to Ukraine, though they have not formally detained her.

Fears for Nemstov murder witness under guard in Moscow

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The chief witness to the murder of Boris Nemtsov, a Ukrainian model named Ganna Duritska, has complained of being kept under guard in Moscow. Her mother has appealed to authorities in Ukraine...
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U.S. spy chief says 40 Americans who went to Syria have returned

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 180 Americans have traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants and around 40 of them have returned to the United States, the U.S. National Intelligence director, James Clapper, said on Monday.


Mohammed Emwazi received MI5 warning in 2009, tapes reveal

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Isis militant known as ‘Jihadi John’ gave interview to advocacy group Cage in 2009 in which he claimed that MI5 said they would keep ‘a close eye’ on him
Mohammed Emwazi, the west London man unmasked as the Islamic State’s knife-wielding executioner, said he was told by MI5 five years ago that they would keep a “close eye” on him despite denying he was involved in extremist militancy.
Transcripts given to the Guardian of Emwazi’s first interview with Cage, the advocacy group that works with communities affected by the war on terror, show a man recounting that he told an MI5 officer that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York and the London underground bomb attacks in 2005 were acts of extremism and that he wanted to be able to “make those lives [of the dead] come back”.
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Moscow’s Hopes for Northern Sea Route May Be On Hold for Decades, Russian Analyst Says

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Paul Goble


            Staunton, March 2 – The collapse of shipping on the Northern Sea Route last year reflects not only Western sanctions but also Russian actions and inactions and suggests that “the Northern Sea Route may be frozen for a long time to come -- even in an era of global warming” which might otherwise be expected to open it further, according to Tatyana Khrulyeva.


            In 2014, the Rosbalt analyst writes, shipping over the route in which Moscow has placed so much hope as part of its geopolitical strategy declined by 80 percent. Most analysts blamed Western sanctions and the collapse of Western cooperation with Russian oil and gas companies and of Western investment in the region more generally.


            But while those undoubtedly played a role and will continue to do so, Khrulyeva says, many of the problems Moscow now faces are of its own making, including but its assertion of sovereignty over the region which raises questions about the legal regime of shipping there and its failure to develop infrastructure since 1990 (


            Global warming had led many in Moscow to predict that Russian expectations for the Northern Sea Route would soon be realized, she continues, not only because it would make the passage easier and thus more attractive for as a shorter shipping route between Asia and Europe but also because it would open up the region for the exploitation of its natural resources.


            The last year appeared to dash these hopes: the tonnage of freight shipped across the route fell by 80 percent from 2013.  Moscow’s first reaction was to view this as an indication that the route was “one of the first hostages of the current economic crisis, with declining oil prices making the Suez route cheaper and sanctions making Western firms less interested in cooperating with Russian firms or investing in the region.


            The international economic crisis certainly played a role, but Khrulyeva points out, there have been significant changes in the domestic Russian marketplace and there are underlying problems some caused by Moscow’s specific actions and alternatively some caused by its failure in the past and inability now to invest in the development of the route.


            The decline in shipping in 2014 reflected two important domestic developments, she says: the failure of transport companies to agree with natural resource developers on the price of shipping and the shift in business from the Vitino port on the Kola Peninsula to the Ust-Luga port near St. Petersburg.


            However, she argues, a far greater role in the decline was played by the failure of the Russian authorities and business to modernize infrastructure. “With the exception of Murmansk and partially Dudinsk,” none of the ports in the region have been modernized since 1990. And only Murmansk can currently handle ships of more than 30,000 tons.


            Those are far from the only problems with infrastructure, however. As a result of the absence of financing even during the “fat” years, navigation and search-and-rescue facilities along the route are near collapse. And for similar reasons, there simply aren’t enough people being trained to operate these or the ships themselves.


            The authorities can’t agree on a price structure for handling the accompanying of ships, and they have not taken the necessary steps to ensure that the route can handle contain shipping, which is now, except for certain kinds of bulk cargo, the most important form of such transport, Khrulyeva says.


            One place where Moscow has acted is creating real problems for the Southern Sea Route. The Kremlin’s constant suggestion that Russian sovereignty extends to the pole has raised questions among foreign companies about what legal regime they would be operating on. Amending the constitution to end the supremacy of international law will only make that worse.


            Meanwhile, the rest of the world isn’t standing idle. There are now plans to create a second channel for the Suez Canal by 2023, and that will further reduce interest in what Moscow had hoped would be a major lever for projecting its geo-economic and geo-political interests in Asia and Europe.


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James Clapper: Sunni Extremism Gaining Momentum 

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On Feb. 26, 2015, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on global threats to the United States. He claimed that the number of Sunni violent extremist groups is “greater than at any point in history.” But “most will be unable to seize and hold territory on a large scale" as long as local and international forces are committed to countering their progress. The following is an excerpt from his remarks, addressing the issue of violent extremism.

UPDATE 3-Ukraine says Russia continues to violate winter gas agreement - Reuters

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Daily Times

UPDATE 3-Ukraine says Russia continues to violate winter gas agreement
A "winter package" of Russian gas for Ukraine, brokered and part-financed by the European Union runs out at the end of the month and EU officials are now trying to help Kiev arrange summer supplies from Moscow with the two sides locked in conflict over ...
Russia, Ukraine hold emergency gas talks as cutoff looms U.S. News & World Report
Instead of sanctions, John Kerry gives Russia 'days' more to live up to

Russia Meets Ukraine in Brussels as Threat of Gas Cut-Off LoomsBloomberg 

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No smiles from Kerry, Russian FM as Ukraine festersCBS News
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EU Mediates Gas Talks Between Russia, Ukraine

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Russia and Ukrainian energy ministers got together for key gas talks in Brussels, amid threats by Russia's Gazprom to cut off deliveries to Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have sparred over gas deliveries and payments before. With the conflict in eastern Ukraine further deepening divisions between the two countries, their energy ministers gathered to air their gas grievances in a meeting mediated by the European Commission's Vice President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels. Speaking to reporters before the talks, Commission energy spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said the European Union wanted the terms of a winter gas agreement between Russia and Ukraine to be respected. "We are only urging both parties to respect the ...package. This is our position. This is why we have convened both parties to come to Brussels to discuss that there can be a solution," said Itkonen. At issue is a tangled dispute between Russia and Ukraine over prepayments for gas and deliveries to rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine. Commission spokeswoman Itkonen said the situation in the region makes it difficult to send EU monitors to verify things first hand. "Which has led to a situation that we do not have all the information. And that is why we are very happy to see both parties here to discuss and then to try to find a solution," stated Itkonen. Moscow has cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on several occasions, most recently last June over a dispute over pricing and unpaid bills. It restored deliveries in December. Similar cutoffs in 2006 and 2009 also disrupted Russian deliveries to the European Union. About 40 percent of EU gas comes from Russia, with about half piped through Ukraine. The gas talks in Brussels come as Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "very hopeful" talks in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would help end the fighting in Ukraine.

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Russia Heightens Dispute With Ukraine Over Natural Gas

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MOSCOW — As Russia warned Ukraine on Tuesday that it could run out of natural gas within two days because of a dispute over payments, Britain said it was sending military trainers to aid Ukrainian forces while European diplomats labored to patch up a flagging peace agreement in eastern Ukraine.
The warning by Aleksei B. Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, the state-controlled Russian energy behemoth, illustrated how the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine are hardly limited to the battlefields in eastern Ukraine, where a cease-fire agreed to nearly two weeks ago has still not fully taken hold.
Russia has long used its muscle as the region’s major energy supplier to wield political and economic influence, particularly in disputes with Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. A bitter feud over gas payments has been a subplot of the wider political dispute between Moscow and Kiev over the past year.
As part of that dispute, Russia last year cut off supplies and ended a longstanding practice of selling gas to Ukraine on credit, and instead demanded prepayment.
“Ukraine has not made prepayment for gas on time,” Mr. Miller said at a news conference in Russia, local news agencies reported. He added that the time needed for Kiev to make a payment “will result in a total end to supplies of Russian gas to Ukraine in just two days, which poses serious risks for gas transit to Europe.”
However, Ukraine says it has already paid for all the gas it requested for this year, and for an additional 287 million cubic meters not yet ordered. Kiev is now accusing Russia of violating anagreement reached in October, under which Ukraine paid $3.1 billion in past gas bills and Gazprom resumed supplies on a prepaid basis. That agreement was expected to keep Ukraine fully supplied with gas through the winter.
The dispute seems to hinge at least in part on the gas that Russia has delivered to the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, which it says counts toward the total Kiev bought in advance. Earlier this month, Gazprom said it would supply natural gas directly to the regions, which are largely controlled by separatists, because it said the Ukrainian government had shut off supplies. Gazprom said that it would charge Ukraine for that gas, and that the amount of gas supplied to the east would be deducted from Ukraine’s prepaid allotment.
Kommersant, the Russian business newspaper, reported that Gazprom had slowed deliveries over pipelines crossing Ukrainian-controlled parts of the border, while opening the spigots to two pipelines leading directly to rebel-held territory.
The gas diversion highlights a broader Russian strategy in eastern Ukraine of assuring its political and military control over the breakaway enclave while avoiding the economic burden of caring for the population, estimated at about three million people. In the truce talks, President Vladimir V. Putin held out for measures to ensure that the Ukrainian authorities would pay public-sector wages and pensions and reopen banks.
Gazprom, Kommersant reported, rejected the Ukrainian government’s argument that gas delivered to rebel territory could not be counted against its prepaid volumes, at least because Naftogaz, the state energy company, could not send meter readers to the two border crossing points, Prokhorov and Platovo, to confirm deliveries.
As the gas Ukraine had already paid for flowed into their territories, separatist leaders went on local television to thank Russia and Mr. Putin. “We thank the Russian Federation and Vladimir Vladimirovich, as Russia is again extending its hand to help, giving warmth,” said the leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky. “Thank you, Russia.”
Mindful of how Russia has used gas as a political weapon, Ukraine has taken strong steps in recent months to reduce its dependence on it. Ukraine and Slovakia reached a deal for reverse piping of gas already purchased in Europe, and a separate deal to buy gas from Norway.
And despite Mr. Miller’s comments, there was no reason to believe that Europe would find itself short of gas as a result of the dispute. Europe, too, has reduced its dependence on Russian gas by engaging other suppliers, and in recent months has built up reserves in anticipation of potential difficulties with Russia.
Russia, while controlling the supply, is in turn dependent on Ukraine to allow gas through its pipelines to other customers in Europe. Painfully aware of that reliance, Russia has sought to cut Ukraine out by building a new pipeline under the Black Sea and through Turkey.
The continuing gas dispute demonstrated the extent to which Ukraine would still be at Russia’s mercy even without the war against Russian-backed separatists. Fighting, however, has continued despite the cease-fire brokered this month in Minsk, Belarus, and on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met in Paris in a bid to get it back on track. It did not appear that they had much success.
In a statement after the meeting, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said the four nations remained committed to the Minsk accord and were demanding that all sides observe the truce without exception.
In an appearance before Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain spoke out strongly against Russian aggression in Ukraine, pledging to send up to 75 military advisers and raising the possibility of cutting Russia off from the global Swift banking system, as was done to Iran over its nuclear program.
“If Russia is going to leave the rules-based system of the 21st century,” Mr. Cameron said, “then it has to start thinking about whether it’s going to be in the 21st-century system when it comes to investment, when it comes to banking, when it comes to clearinghouses.”
Mr. Fabius said the foreign ministers were concerned about the coastal city of Mariupol. Ukraine and its allies have long feared that the separatists would make a push for Mariupol as part of a bid to establish a land connection to Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed last March.
The four foreign ministers also called for unfettered access throughout the conflict zone for observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is charged with monitoring the cease-fire deal.
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Masha Gessen on the Murder of Boris Nemtsov

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The scariest thing about the murder of Boris Nemtsov is that he himself did not scare anyone. “He was no threat to the current Russian leadership and to Vladimir Putin,” said the Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, eerily echoing comments the president made in 2006, when the opposition journalist Anna Politkovskaya was killed. By this Mr. Peskov meant that the Kremlin did not kill Mr. Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister, who was gunned down in central Moscow on Friday night.
In all likelihood no one in the Kremlin actually ordered the killing — and this is part of the reason Mr. Nemtsov’s murder marks the beginning of yet another new and frightening period in Russian history. The Kremlin has recently created a loose army of avengers who believe they are acting in the country’s best interests, without receiving any explicit instructions. Despite his lack of political clout, Mr. Nemtsov was a logical first target for this menacing force.
Russia is a country at war — it has been waging battle against Ukraine for a year — and like any country at war, it has focused much of its rhetorical effort on the domestic opposition. The word “opposition” itself is misleading: It suggests having access to media and electoral and social mechanisms, when those have ceased to exist in Russia. More accurately, there are a number of individuals in Russia who are capable of gathering small groups of supporters, waging limited local electoral action, transmitting messages through the tiny remnants of independent media and occasionally organizing street protests.
In the small space available to the Russian opposition, Mr. Nemtsov occupied a unique place. He had become active in politics during perestroika, and in 1991, when Mr. Nemtsov was 32, President Boris Yeltsin appointed him governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, an important industrial region on the Volga River. Nemtsov was one of the youngest people among the political players of the 1990s, and he seemed to embody the new era: He did not come from the Communist Party nomenklatura, he extolled political and economic reform, and his patronymic indicated that he was Jewish — a fact that he, breaking with the custom of the Soviet era, did not try to hide. In 1997, Mr. Yeltsin asked him to come to Moscow to join the cabinet, and there was talk of him succeeding Mr. Yeltsin as president.
But the ailing Russian president seemed capable neither of giving up power nor of running the country. He chose potential successors fast and disposed of them ever faster, eventually alienating anyone with political capital. In 1999, Mr. Yeltsin finally settled on a former KGB agent named Vladimir Putin, setting his original anointed successor, Mr. Nemtsov, on a path to opposition politics.
That road was neither easy nor direct for Mr. Nemtsov. First he tried to do political business with Mr. Putin: He headed a party that had seats in the first Putin-era Parliament and even fielded a presidential candidate. But as Mr. Putin refashioned Russia into an authoritarian country, Mr. Nemtsov was forced out of what passed for electoral politics, and became one of the first establishment politicians to sound the alarm about the nature of Mr. Putin’s regime.
For years almost no one was interested in what Mr. Nemtsov had to say. He and his handful of allies would stand outside Moscow subway stations handing out brochures with their reports on high-level corruption. These were difficult reading: The writing was overwrought, reminiscent of the agitprop of old. And Russians seemed to be living too well to be interested in the quality of their government. When they finally started paying attention to corruption, they listened to a man almost two decades younger than Mr. Nemtsov, the blogger Aleksei Navalny, who spread the message in a much hipper way.
When Russia suddenly erupted in protest in December 2011, Mr. Nemtsov found that he was perceived as an old fogie. On May 6, 2012, when the police cracked down on a peaceful, legal protest, Mr. Nemtsov staged an impromptu sit-in at the foot of the Big Stone Bridge across from the Kremlin with a group of men all young enough to be his children. The protests fizzled, but Mr. Nemtsov stuck with them. He was a lead instigator of a protest march planned for March 1 in Moscow. Following his killing, remaining organizers scrapped plans for the march in favor of a vigil in Mr. Nemtsov’s memory.
While it is true that this activity hardly threatened Mr. Putin’s hold on power, Mr. Nemtsov made every internet list of “enemies of Russia” circulated by the Kremlin’s supporters.
In the almost three years since Mr. Putin returned to the presidency, and especially in the year since Russia annexed Crimea, the Kremlin has increasingly focused on the enemy within. A new movement called Anti-Maidan marched through Moscow two weeks ago calling for violence against the “fifth column.” At least one of the signs carried at the march named Mr. Nemtsov as the organizer of the Ukrainian revolution.
Less than a week after that march, and just before the one he had organized, Mr. Nemtsov was gunned down while walking a bridge that spans the Moscow River right in front of the Kremlin. It is under constant camera and live surveillance. The message was clear: People will be killed in the name of the Kremlin, in plain view of the Kremlin, against the backdrop of the Kremlin, simply for daring to oppose the Kremlin.
Masha Gessen is the author, most recently, of “Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot.”
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Fighting in Ukraine Has Killed More Than 840 Since Mid-January, U.N. Says

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GENEVA — The United Nations said on Monday that a sharp escalation in recent fighting in eastern Ukraine had left more than 800 people dead and over 3,400 wounded, with hundreds missing and many buried without their deaths being recorded.
Ivan Simonovic, the United Nations assistant secretary general, told reporters here that more than 6,000 people had been killed since the fighting started in April — at least 842 of whom died from mid-January to the middle of last month.
The casualty figures were included in a United Nations report issued on Monday that also said an influx of troops and heavy weapons from Russia had intensified the conflict in Ukraine.
“Credible reports indicate a continuing influx of heavy and sophisticated weaponry to armed groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as foreign fighters, including from the Russian Federation,” the United Nations report said.
“This has fueled the escalation of the conflict and new offensives by armed groups, undermining the potential for peace as armed groups extend their areas of control,” the report said. “This has resulted in further and significant increases in civilian and military casualties.”
The latest updates to the current visual survey of the continuing dispute, with maps and satellite imagery showing rebel and military movement.
The report was issued as Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, in Switzerland to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
Mr. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said in a speech to the Human Rights Council here in Geneva that the cease-fire in Ukraine was being “consolidated” and that any decision by Western nations to send arms to Ukraine would “disrupt the peace.”
The Obama administration has been considering whether to send arms to Ukraine to deter Russian-backed separatists and Russian troops from further advances, though the White House appears to have put off a decision in recent weeks.
Mr. Kerry said that to avoid further sanctions, Russia must arrange for the separatists to relax their grip on the strategically important town of Debaltseve, which they seized soon after a cease-fire reached last month in Minsk, Belarus, went into effect.
“There has been a kind of cherry picking” by the Russians about what elements of the cease-fire to honor, Mr. Kerry told reporters at a news conference on Monday. “There is not yet a full cease-fire.”
Mr. Kerry said that he had raised his concerns about the seizing of Debaltseve and the presence of Russian-backed separatists near the port city of Mariupol during his morning meeting here with Mr. Lavrov.
A rocket attack on Mariupol at the end of January killed 31 people, according to Mr. Simonovic, citing an example from the United Nations report of the growing use of heavy weapons by all sides and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas.
The report also drew attention to the plight of civilians in areas of conflict, saying that attempted evacuations in government-controlled areas had apparently been targeted by shelling. But travel restrictions imposed by the government in Kiev had also made it harder for civilians to escape conflict areas, the United Nations said.
More than 400 civilians continue to be held prisoner by pro-Russian armed groups, the United Nations monitors reported, noting that an “all for all” prisoner exchange included in the cease-fire agreement signed last month had not been fully enacted. The report also cited “a pattern of enforced disappearances, secret detention and ill treatment by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.”
Mr. Kerry said that his Russian counterpart had insisted that the Kremlin intended to honor the cease-fire agreement and would respond to the points the United States had raised.
It is far from clear, however, if this is an indication of progress in defusing the conflict in Ukraine. Mr. Kerry told Congress last week that Russian officials had lied about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine “to my face.”
Mr. Kerry declined to say if Mr. Lavrov had responded to those remarks in their private meeting. Neither Mr. Kerry nor Mr. Lavrov smiled as they shook hands and they appeared impassive as they posed for photos.
Correction: March 2, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people injured in Ukraine from mid-January to the middle of last month. It was more than 3,400, not 13,400.
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The Brilliant Boris Nemtsov: A Reformer Who Never Backed Down

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Eventually they’ll arrest someone for murdering Boris Nemtsov, especially after President Vladimir Putin was said to be giving the case his personal attention. The authorities have already begun to spin conspiracy theories, including the outrageous suggestion that he may have been killed by political allies to create a martyr. What will remain is not a murder case, but the image of the opposition politician who had once personified so many of Russia’s hopes, lying dead within sight of the Kremlin fortress and the whimsical cupolas of St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Tall, handsome, witty and irreverent, Mr. Nemtsov was one of the brilliant young men who burst onto the Russian stage at that exciting moment when Communist rule collapsed and a new era seemed imminent. Only at 32 he was even younger and more impatient than the others.
A physicist by training, he had cut his political teeth opposing the construction of a new nuclear plant in his city. Appointed head of the province of Nizhny Novgorod by Russia’s new president, Boris Yeltsin, and confirmed in the post by the provincial legislature, Mr. Nemtsov embarked on a whirlwind campaign to transform the region, drawing enthusiastic support from a host of Western agencies.
No matter that the province was a center of military and nuclear industry that had been closed to foreigners for decades; no matter that there wasn’t even enough paper money for the privatization program. Mr. Nemtsov couldn’t wait for Moscow to get its act together. He pushed ahead on his own, even issuing his own money — chits, to be eventually exchanged for rubles that came to be known as “Nemtsovki.”
This was long before Mr. Putin made the West the enemy again and the scapegoat for all of Russia’s failures. Mr. Nemtsov and the other “boys in pink shorts,” as their detractors called the young reformers — Yegor Gaidar, Grigory Yavlinsky, Anatoly Chubais, Boris Fyodorov — looked to the West for their models and hopes. Mr. Nemtsov proudly adopted the Western title of “governor” instead of the bureaucratic “head of administration” used in Soviet times (and again today). When a friend of mine involved in the early privatization efforts in Nizhny Novgorod, Allen Model, invited Mr. Nemtsov to visit the United States, the young governor promptly rushed over for a couple of weeks, drinking in everything he saw.
I met Mr. Nemtsov in August 1992 in his office in the fortified core, or kremlin, of old Nizhny Novgorod, which had been called Gorky under Soviet rule. He had recruited Mr. Yavlinsky — at 40 the old man of the young reformers and the author, in the last days of the Soviet Union, of a “500-day” economic reform program that Mikhail Gorbachev regrettably set aside — to design a similar crash program for Nizhny Novgorod. Optimism filled the air.
Tieless and in yellow trousers, the governor was constantly on the move. He rushed through groups of supplicants parked at his door; he dissuaded telephone operators who hadn’t been paid in month from going on strike; then, evidently still surprised to find himself among the old Soviet trappings of power, he jokingly asked if there was anyone I’d like to call on the special telephones that connected the top ranks of the nomenklatura. Short of time for an interview, he bundled me into the old Chaika limousine of his Soviet predecessors, reeking of gasoline fumes, to continue talking on the drive to Moscow.
Nizhny Novgorod became known as the “laboratory of reform,” and by 1997, Mr. Yeltsin, the first post-Soviet Russian president, summoned Mr. Nemtsov to Moscow as the first deputy prime minister and, everyone thought, his apparent heir. But then Russia began heading in a different direction; Mr. Yeltsin tapped Mr. Putin instead, and Mr. Nemtsov’s political star steadily sank.
With time he became one of the most outspoken and constant critics of the corrupt autocracy Mr. Putin developed, and, more recently, of Russia’s assault on Ukrainian independence. He received regular death threats and was arrested three times, but as Mr. Putin steadily dispersed the opposition with threats and arrests, Mr. Nemtsov’s voice became ever more faint.
But he never stopped. In his last days, he had been organizing a mass march against the war in Ukraine, which turned, instead, into a memorial march for him. Some marchers on Sunday carried placards reading, “I am not afraid,” and others vowed to carry on Mr. Nemtsov’s work. But from afar it seemed more a memorial march for the hopes and dreams that lay alongside Mr. Nemtsov’s murdered body in the middle of the night on the bridge to Red Square.
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Nemtsov’s Companion, Witness to Killing, Says She’s Barred From Leaving Russia

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MOSCOW — They met three years ago, by some accounts on a vacation to Turkey, and soon enough became a couple.
Though she was less than half his age, Anna Duritskaya, a Ukrainian model, was often with Boris Nemtsov, a beleaguered Russian opposition leader, including on Friday evening, when a gunman carried out the highest-profile political assassination in Russia during the tenure of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Ms. Duritskaya is now a primary witness to the shooting. In interviews with Russian news media on Monday, Ms. Duritskaya said the Russian police were not allowing her to return to Ukraine, though they had not formally detained her.
Her uncertain status has drawn objections from Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry and her Russian lawyer, who has said the action has no legal basis under Russian law. The development comes in a case that Western officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have implored Russia to solve swiftly and openly. The Kremlin had no official comment on Monday.
Ms. Duritskaya, 23, said in a Skype and telephone interview with Dozhd, a Russian television station, that she was staying at the apartment of an acquaintance in Moscow and had been placed under round-the-clock guard by the police, who she said were holding her against her will.
“I now have the status of a witness,” Ms. Duritskaya said. “I gave all testimony that was possible, and I don’t understand why I am still on the territory of the Russian Federation, as I want to leave to be with my mother, who is sick and in a difficult psychological state.”
“I don’t understand what else I can do, and why they cannot let me go,” she added.
Ms. Duritskaya said she waited on Friday evening in the Bosco cafe in the GUM department store on Red Square for Mr. Nemtsov to finish an interview on the Echo of Moscow radio station. The two had dinner and then started the walk home.
At no point, she said, did she notice anything suspicious, and she suggested that she had little to help investigators, because the gunman had shot Mr. Nemtsov in the back as the couple walked side by side.
Mr. Nemtsov, 55, a longstanding proponent of democratic reforms who had been in and out of jail, crumpled on the sidewalk. By the time she looked back, she said, she saw neither the gunman’s face, nor the license plate of the getaway car. She ran to a nearby snowplow machine, she said, to ask for help, then returned to the body and waited, by her account, about 10 minutes for the police to arrive.
The relationship of the older, famous politician and the young model from a country many Russians now believe to be their enemy has drawn intense interest from Russia’s tabloid press.
The Investigative Committee, the law enforcement organization with the lead on the case, has said it is examining a variety of possible motives for the murder, including that fellow members of the opposition killed him to create a martyr and that Islamist terrorists might be to blame, but that conflicts in his personal life might be the root.
More than a few Russian commentators and politicians floated the idea of jealousy. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Russian nationalist politician, for example, said of Mr. Nemtsov’s romantic life, “This young girl was not the first.” Mr. Zhirinvosky said his former colleague in Parliament “was always changing his partners, changing wives.”
Ms. Duritskaya, in the interview, denied that either of them had received threats from jealous former lovers.
Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, citing investigators, reported that Ms. Duritskaya had “forgotten” crucial moments of the shooting on a bridge over the Moscow River, and cited unnamed experts saying that investigators might have to wait until she underwent a course of psychological treatment, to overcome shock.
Asked in the Dozhd interview what had happened on the bridge, Ms. Duritskaya said flatly “on the bridge, the murder of Boris took place.”
She told the Russian television channel that the investigators had not prohibited her from talking about the killing, though it remained an open question whether she might speak more freely about the shooting once outside the country.
Her lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, has said that the refusal to allow Ms. Duritskaya to return home to Ukraine violated Russian law, as his client had declined a program for witness protection and could not be held under other pretexts.
LifeNews, one Russian television station that has delved into the relationship, interviewed a friend of Ms. Duritskaya’s, who said the couple “were really tied by genuine feelings.”
“They started to live together almost immediately,” the station cited the friend, identified only by her first name, Yulia, as saying. “The couple was almost never apart.”
When war came to their countries, Mr. Nemtsov met with the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, who later said he had tried to be a “bridge” between the two nations in conflict. He was killed just days before he was to lead a rally to protest the war in Ukraine.
On Monday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on the Russian authorities to release Ms. Duritskaya and allow the return “of this citizen of Ukraine to her homeland.”
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Russia's Expanding Navy to Receive 50 New Vessels This Year

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The Russian navy will receive 50 vessels of various sizes and classes this year, navy Chief Admiral Viktor Chirkov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on Monday.

Boris Nemtsov: Vladimir Putin critic's girlfriend says she is being held in Russia 

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Anna Duritskaya, a Ukrainian citizen, says she is being made to stay in Moscow after warning her it would be dangerous to leave

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Popular Uzbek TV Anchor Allegedly Killed

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​A well-known television anchor in Uzbekistan has been allegedly killed, according to a colleague.
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Page 7

Госдеп США вновь призвал ЕС не вести дела с Россией - Коммерсантъ

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РИА Новости

Госдеп США вновь призвал ЕС не вести дела с Россией
Вашингтон вновь предостерег европейские страны от торговых операций с Россией до разрешения украинского конфликта, сообщает 3 марта «РИА Новости» со ссылкой на заявление официального представителя госдепартамента США Мари Харф. «Мы много раз давали понять, что ...
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