Monday, June 22, 2015

Pentagon chief planning for longer-term rift with Russia - Reuters | Pentagon chief urges balanced approach to Russian aggression | Russia is deploying advanced aerial weapon systems to the Arctic - Business Insider | Are European Companies Ignoring E.U. Sanctions On Russia? - Forbes | Russia Pushing Through Sale of Advanced Missile Systems to Iran | Child suicides highlight growing social crisis in China

На церемонии возложения венка к Могиле Неизвестного Солдата. С Председателем Правительства Дмитрием Медведевым, Руководителем Администрации Президента Сергеем Ивановым и Министром обороны Сергеем Шойгу.

В России день памяти и скорби. 74 года назад началась Великая Отечественная война - Первый канал

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Первый канал

В России день памяти и скорби. 74 года назад началась Великая Отечественная война
Первый канал
74 года назад гитлеровская Германия напала на Советский Союз. На борьбу с фашизмом встала вся страна. Погибли почти 27 миллионов человек. Днём в Кремле состоялась торжественная церемония, во время которой президент вручил грамоты представителям пяти городов, ...
Миллионы свечей в память о погибших в ВОВКомсомольская правда
В Днепропетровске зажгли тысячи свечей в память о начале Великой Отечественной войныСЕГОДНЯ
В Пензе в День памяти и скорби вспоминают героевВести.Ru
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Putin Says Shelling Must Stop In East Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has told French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukrainian forces must “immediately” stop shelling in Eastern Ukraine.

US​ to give weapons and troops to Nato force battling Europe's security threats 

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No US troops will move immediately to Europe under the new plan, announced Monday in Germany, but they would be made available in the event of a crisis
The US will contribute weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, for Nato’s rapid reaction force, defense secretary Ash Carter said on Monday, to help Europe defend against security threats, including Russia from the east and violent extremists from the south.
Under the plan, the US will contribute intelligence and surveillance capabilities, special operations forces, logistics, transport aircraft, and a range of weapons support that could include bombers, fighters and ship-based missiles. It would not provide a large ground force.
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Russia Pushing Through Sale of Advanced Missile Systems to Iran 

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Russia could sell Iran advanced Almaz-2500 anti-aircraft missile systems after Tehran withdraws a lawsuit against Moscow for canceling a previous weapons delivery, newspaper Kommersant reported Monday citing an unidentified Kremlin source.

Russia Assails Extension of E.U. Sanctions in Ukraine Crisis

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Kremlin officials, who had lobbied hard against an extension, called it self-defeating and said their countersanctions would be extended in response.

Child suicides highlight growing social crisis in China

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The apparent suicide deaths of four young children in the impoverished Guizhou province underscores the desperate plight facing millions of rural poor.
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AP Top News at 11:27 a.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 11:27 a.m. EDT
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A week of funerals lie ahead for victims of the Charleston church massacre that killed nine people, re-opened old racial wounds and evoked memories of past episodes of violence against black churches. Bells tolled across the city Sunday as thousands linked up on a towering bridge and a historic sanctuary reopened in displays of unity. Area residents repeated messages of solidarity, love and even defiance of evil at the remembrances, hopeful their expressions would drown out the hate embodied in the slayings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Manhunt for escaped murderers returns to site near NY prisonDANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) - A manhunt for two convicted murderers has jumped from a railroad line near the Pennsylvania state line to a hamlet in far northern New York not far from the prison they escaped from more than two weeks ago. Searchers on Monday swarmed the heavily wooded area just 20 miles west of the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility. Investigators and military trucks began converging on Mountain View, in Franklin County, late Sunday.
UN report on Gaza: Both sides may be guilty of war crimesJERUSALEM (AP) - A much-awaited United Nations report into the 2014 Gaza war released Monday found that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups may have committed war crimes during the conflict. Both Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers quickly rejected the report's findings, which said Palestinian militants targeted civilians in their rocket attacks, while Israeli forces likely used "disproportionate" force in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip - both identified by the U.N. committee as potential war crimes.
Carter: US to provide weapons, aircraft, commandos for NATOMUNSTER, Germany (AP) - The U.S. will contribute weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, for NATO's rapid reaction force, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday, to help Europe defend against security threats, including Russia from the east and violent extremists from the south. Under the plan, the U.S. will contribute intelligence and surveillance capabilities, special operations forces, logistics, transport aircraft, and a range of weapons support that could include bombers, fighters and ship-based missiles. It would not provide a large ground force.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A Taliban suicide bomber struck the entrance to the Afghan parliament on Monday and gunmen tried to storm the heavily guarded compound, setting off a gunbattle with police that left two people dead as lawmakers were meeting inside to vote on the appointment of a new defense minister. Afghan security forces managed to repel the attack, killing all seven gunmen and ensuring that no members of parliament were harmed. But the audacious assault came as the Taliban captured two districts in as many days in the country's north, displaying their ability to operate on multiple fronts.
Spat over Vanderbilt family mansion gets public and nastyNEWPORT, R.I. (AP) - The Vanderbilt family, once synonymous with American wealth and power, has fallen into a full-blown public spat with the organization that now owns their spectacular Rhode Island mansion. The conflict includes intimations that the group might sue, or that it might evict the two Vanderbilts who still summer on the third floor of the house, called The Breakers; even family member Anderson Cooper has not been spared from the fray.
Europe cautiously optimistic of Greek debt deal this weekBRUSSELS (AP) - Eurozone finance ministers were cautiously optimistic on Monday that a deal on Greece's bailout was finally within reach this week, amid fears the country might otherwise default on its debts and fall out of the euro. With leaders from the 19 single currency nations gathering in Brussels, financial officials gave a tentative endorsement to new Greek proposals for spending cuts and reforms they would make in exchange for billions of euros in fresh loans.
Eateries in Chinese town hold dog meat festival amid outcryBEIJING (AP) - Restaurateurs in a southern Chinese town held an annual dog meat festival Monday despite international criticism of the event as cruel and unhygienic. The Yulin government distanced itself from the festival and announced new restrictions, but eateries reached by telephone reported brisk business during the event ostensibly held to mark the summer solstice.

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Pentagon chief urges balanced approach to Russian aggression

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Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. and NATO need to have a "strong but balanced" approach to Russia, and he questioned whether Moscow's "backward-looking" aggressive behavior will change while President Vladimir Putin remains at the helm.
     

Key Army commander accused of steering a contract to ex-classmates

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A key Army commander in the U.S. war against the Islamic State has been reprimanded by the Pentagon for steering a defense contract to a firm run by two of his former classmates at West Point, becoming the latest high-ranking officer to land in trouble for personal misconduct.
     

Carter: US to provide weapons, aircraft, commandos for NATO

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The U.S. will contribute weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, for NATO's rapid reaction force, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday, to help Europe defend against security threats, including Russia from the east and violent extremists from the south.
     

NATO defense spending dips despite concerns over Russia

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Defense expenditures are expected to drop by 1.5 percent among NATO members in 2015, continuing a longstanding downward trend that has proven difficult to reverse, according to NATO.
     

Russian official: Over 1,000 Russians fight with Islamic State

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Russia's Security Council chief says more than 1,000 Russian nationals have joined the Islamic State group and they could pose a major threat when they return.
     
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US hopes Russia may change direction when Vladimir Putin is goneThe Guardian
Use NATO unity to spur diplomacy and keep Russia in checkMinneapolis Star Tribune
Senior Putin aide warns over Russia-US relationsFinancial Times 

Fox News
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Are European Companies Ignoring E.U. Sanctions On Russia? - Forbes

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Forbes

Are European Companies Ignoring E.U. Sanctions On Russia?
Forbes
It's been nearly a year since sectoral sanctions were slapped on Russia for its involvement in helping create a frozen conflict in Eastern Ukraine. European and American companies banned financing of Russian energy firms, and banks. They banned any ...


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Russia is deploying advanced aerial weapon systems to the Arctic - Business Insider

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Business Insider

Russia is deploying advanced aerial weapon systems to the Arctic
Business Insider
In continuation of a militarizing trend, Russia will deploy advanced aerial weapons systems to the Arctic, according to the deputy commander of Russia's Aerospace Defense Forces. Speaking on June 20, Deputy Commander Kirill Makarov told RIA Novosti ...

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Army Reprimanded General Involved in ISIS Fight

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Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, the Army’s former deputy commander for Middle East operations, guided a contract to former West Point classmates, officials said.

Panel to present findings on mysterious death of UN secretary general 

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A panel of experts commissioned by the United Nations is about to unveil fresh evidence on the mysterious death in 1961 of UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld, who some claim was murdered for supporting African decolonization. The evidence could spark a new official probe into the incident, which has been called “one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century”.
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McCain: Russia is Winning the Propaganda War

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by Pam Key21 Jun 201589
Saturday at the 10th annual Global Security Forum (GLOBSEC) in Bratislava,
said America is losing the information war on the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
McCain said, “The Untied States of America using the best minds that we have in Silicon Valley and other places  should be able to come up with a capability of countering this propaganda that’s coming out of Russia.”
He continued,  “I’m convinced this is the next battlefield just as it was during the Cold War. It’s the reason we didn’t have a war was because how many people came out of the Iron curtain countries and talked about what happened when they heard Radio Free Europe” adding, “I do accept your statement that they are winning now particularity in Russian speaking places.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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New Revelations Suggest Chinese Hackers Had Inside Help

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The New York Times delivers news that will chill the bones of anyone who knows anything about system administration:
Undetected for nearly a year, the Chinese intruders executed a sophisticated attack that gave them “administrator privileges” into the computer networks at the Office of Personnel Management, mimicking the credentials of people who run the agency’s systems, two senior administration officials said. The hackers began siphoning out a rush of data after constructing what amounted to an electronic pipeline that led back to China, investigators told Congress last week in classified briefings.
Much of the personnel data had been stored in the lightly protected systems of theDepartment of the Interior, because it had cheap, available space for digital data storage. The hackers’ ultimate target: the one million or so federal employees and contractors who have filled out a form known as SF-86, which is stored in a different computer bank and details personal, financial and medical histories for anyone seeking a security clearance.
“This was classic espionage, just on a scale we’ve never seen before from a traditional adversary,” one senior administration official said. “And it’s not a satisfactory answer to say, ‘We found it and stopped it,’ when we should have seen it coming years ago.”
This is catastrophic news, because it means the hackers had access to pretty much everything at the incompetently-managed OPM.
It’s amazing to watch agency officials sleepwalk through congressional hearings with a hey, whaddaya gonna do? attitude, secure in the knowledge nobody ever faces consequences for failure in the Obama Administration, when the damage is this breathtaking. (The NYT article has a few lowlights from those hearings, including Democrats losing their cool with hapless OPM director Katherine Archuleta and describing her agency as seeming like “deer in the headlights.”)
Not only has the American human intelligence system been disastrously compromised around the world, but back here at home, the intel community is going to be playing defense for years to come, worried sick about how many government employees with security clearances might have been approached for recruitment or blackmail by China and its allies.
Administrator privileges for the hackers as they wander through the outrageously insecure OPM data wonderland also means the risk of secondary penetration is higher – the hackers might have begun tunneling into every system OPM touched, which means just about every system.
The Administration is scrambling to figure out which of its other organs might have been targeted by the intruders. It’s a long list, as the Times notes that an audit last year “harshly criticized lax security at the Internal Revenue Service, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Energy Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission — and the Department of Homeland Security, which has responsibility for securing the nation’s critical networks.”
The NYT recalls Nuclear Regulatory Commission employees getting in trouble for leaving vital information lying around on unsecured network drives and laptop computers they actually managed to lose track of, while IRS employees have been known to use passwords such as “password,” the SEC had some completely unprotected components in its system, and auditors managed to penetrate what passes for security at the Department of Education (chock full of personal information from millions of student loan applicants!) without breaking a sweat.
The New York Times confirms something I’ve been saying since Day One of this crisis: the incredibly valuable trove of data stolen by these hackers has never been posted for sale on the black market, meaning the thieves are leaving tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on the table. That strongly suggests this was a state-sponsored intelligence operation, conducted with an eye toward fueling both human-intelligence efforts and further hacking attacks.
The tactics used by the hacking crew could prove effective at any of the vulnerable agencies mentioned by the New York Times. We’ve learned previously that they had some valid user names and passwords for the OPM system, which could have been gleaned through some combination of human intelligence (i.e. a Chinese agent getting valid user credentials from sources in the U.S. government, or possibly even Chinese agents working for the OPM as contractors) and “phishing,” the practice of using malware spread by email and phony websites to harvest passwords from unsuspecting targets.
On Sunday, Reuters published a look at the enigmatic crew believed to be behind the OPM hack, and attacks using similar methods on targets such as the Anthem health insurance company. Known by a variety of designations to  cyber-security experts – PinkPanther, KungFu Kittens, Group 72, Deep Panda, Shell Crew – they’re more subtle than the regular Chinese People’s Liberation Army hacking crew, which has been robbing U.S. industry blind of intellectual property for years.
The Shell Crew has a fondness for using compromised email accounts to blast out emails laced with malware, including a rare virus strain known as “Sakula,” designed to harvest a rapidly snowballing pile of data from a string of users. They’ve been known to employ brute-force hacking methods to gain initial access to a system, but once they’re inside, they love nothing better than to bombard the employees and associates of a penetrated operation with emails, purportedly from trusted sources, that trick them into clicking links to virus-delivery websites. For example, if they got into Hillary Clinton’s illegal, insecure email server, the people on Clinton’s email list would begin receiving correspondence that looked like it came from the former Secretary of State, but was actually bait to lure the users into the Shell Crew’s clutches.
They’ve also set up some “watering hole” attacks, in which a phony website that looks very much like a legit site, with an address very similar to what a legit site would use, is packed full of malware and set like a mousetrap for unsuspecting users.
The Reuters article notes that Shell Crew operations usually take place in two stages: an exploratory or reconnaissance stage, in which the hackers check out the penetrated system, get a feel for what kind of data it contains, and put a high priority on avoiding detection, followed by a more active raiding stage where they begin stealing large amounts of data, seemingly after they’ve consulted with some other authority and been given a shopping list of what to take.
They don’t usually get to take such a huge amount of information, because as soon as the targets suspect they have been compromised, they roll through standard security precautions such as resetting firewalls and requiring all users to change their passwords. Phishing attacks are normally conducted on a tight timetable… but not at the OPM, where the staggering incompetence of this Administration gave the hackers all the time in the world to take whatever they wanted, and set up any additional operations they pleased. Is it possible to believe additional operations using the pilfered OPM data, especially that juicy security clearance info, aren’t already in progress… or possibly even completed?
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'Black Lives Matter' Protesters Vandalize Confederate Statue in Charleston

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by Warner Todd Huston21 Jun 2015Charleston, SC474
The spray-painted graffiti was discovered early on Sunday morning on a monument titled “Confederate Defenders of Charleston” just as citizens gathered downtown to honor the victims murdered at the Emanuel AME Church by a gun-wielding 21-year-old last Wednesday.
As ABC 4 News in Charleston reported, “The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘This is the problem #racist’ is spray painted on the base. The vandals also called out Mayor Joe Riley and Governor Nikki Haley scrawling ‘Riley and Haley -Why defend this evil -This the root of our evil.'”
Local residents of all colors have been urging outside agitators to stay away from their grief-stricken city. ABC reported that a pair of radical protesters from Washington D.C. were told to go back home as people met to consider what to do with the defaced monument.
Still others are telling a professional race agitator from Ferguson, Missouri, to leave their city. All weekend, a hashtag campaign on Twitter told professional protester DeRay McKesson to “#GoHomeDeRay.”
The Confederate monument was quickly covered with tarps on Sunday morning to keep people away from it as the turmoil over the church shooting continues to roil.
The monument was erected in 1932 by the United Daughters of Confederacy and was originally paid for by private funds with a large grant of $100,000 by Charleston resident Andrew Buist Murray.
The monument sits in White Point Garden, a public park at the eastern edge of the city near the harbor at the mouth of the Ashley River.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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The Real Dawn of the Age of Cyber Warfare

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Carter: No Desire for Conflict With Russia

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U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday there is neither a desire for a return to a Cold War nor for a new conflict with Russia, and that economic sanctions are having an effect in countering Russian "aggression" in Ukraine. He spoke at a forum in Berlin where he was also meeting with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.  Both were due to travel later Monday to Muenster to meet with their counterparts from Norway and the Netherlands. Carter said that while the West is not looking to be enemies with Russia, it will defend itself if necessary. "Ukraine is only one part of our larger concerns these days about Russia.  In response, we are taking a strong but balanced strategic approach, an approach that seeks to ensure Russia cannot force anyone to turn towards the past, all the while welcoming and encouraging Russia to turn back towards the future," Cartersaid. Carter will travel Tuesday to Estonia for meetings with the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - all countries that were once under the influence of Moscow and part of the Soviet Union. The talks all come ahead of a NATO meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels to discuss plans for dealing with Russia following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and what is widely seen as its direct military support of pro-Russia separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.Carter intends to cover a U.S. proposal to send enough tanks and other military equipment to outfit a brigade for exercises and other training programs in Eastern Europe.  The defense chief has not officially approved the idea, and officials have not said exactly where the equipment would go, but there are indications that Poland, which borders Russia, could be one location. The defense ministers will also discuss increasing the alliance's involvement in the fight against Islamic State militants.  NATO leaders are expected to consider providing ministry-level advice and other training assistance in Iraq.

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Military: Two Ukrainian Servicemen Killed In Past 24 Hours

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The Ukrainian military says two of its servicemen have been killed and three wounded in fresh separatist attacks in the east.

Russian Security Fear Citizens Joining ISIS More than Ukrainian Separatists 

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Moscow is unable to stem the flow of militants to the Islamic State, nor the flow of "volunteers" to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, a top security official said in an interview.

Siberian Oil Deal Sees BP Bet on Russia's Pivot Toward China - Bloomberg

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Bloomberg

Siberian Oil Deal Sees BP Bet on Russia's Pivot Toward China
Bloomberg
BP Plc's $750 million purchase of a Siberian oilfield stake is as much a bet on China as it is onRussia. Taas-Yuriakh Neftegazodobycha LLC's blocks near China's northern border will supply the planned Tianjin refinery on the east coast, according to ... 
Gazprom Neft CEO: Russian firms oil boosting output despite low pricesRussia Beyond the Headlines

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Why Despite the Current Crisis are Fewer Russians Saying They Hope to Emigrate? 

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Paul Goble

Staunton, June 22 – Data from a variety of surveys show that fewer Russians say they are interested in emigrating than did only a few years ago, even though the economic situation in their homeland has deteriorated, something that usually provokes exactly the opposite trend in most countries.

According to a survey in today’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta,” Moscow experts are offering a variety of explanations ranging from the idea that those who want to leave already have, that anti-Western propaganda has made emigration a less attractive option, and that sanctions have increased solidarity among Russians (ng.ru/economics/2015-06-22/1_crisis.html).

What the two journalists, Alina Terekhova and Anastasiya Bashkatova, do not consider is that an increasing number of Russians may have concluded that if they leave now, they will find it difficult if not impossible to return, or that if they do return, they will be viewed skeptically by the increasingly isolationist and authoritarian Russian authorities.

The two write that “in 2015, citizens of the Russian Federation suddenly ceased to dream about emigration,” with the share of “potential emigrants contracting by several times.” Some Russian sociologists suggest that Russia’s economic problems have led Russians to unite while others offer a simpler explanation: “all who wanted to leave have already left.”

In most countries, “the reduction of incomes, threat of firings, inflation, inability to get medical care, and uncertain pension prospects” lead even more people to think about emigrating to improve their situation, the journalists say. But in the case of Russia, exactly the opposite trend has occurred.

The ROMIR polling agency reports that over the last three years, the share of Russians thinking about leaving has declined almost by a factor of four – “from 31 percent in September 2012 to eight percent in April 2015.”Earlier, its analysts said that interest in emigrating would rise if the economy got worse; now, they say that just the reverse has happened.

Other surveys have found a similar trend.A survey conducted by the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service found that the share of Russians thining about moving abroad permanently had fallen by half between 2013 and 2014.The academy’s analysts suggested that this reflected a growth in solidarity among Russians as a result of the crisis.

The Levada Center also finds that interest in emigration has declined, but they suggest different reasons for that pattern, Terekhova and Bashkatova say. On the one hand, anti-Western propaganda has had an impact. And on the other, many Russians are taking a wait-and-see position, uncertain of what will happen anywhere, and thus may be more interested in leaving than they currently are willing to suggest.
Until this year, the Institute of Sociology says, “talk about emigration efforts were commonplace” in Russia, but now such conversations are less frequent – a pattern that may reflect concerns among Russians about how officials would view such talk and thus affect the declarations Russians make to those conducting surveys.

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Two Kyiv Branches Of Russian Bank Damaged By Blasts

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From: rferlonline
Duration: 00:26

Two branches of Sberbank in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, were damaged by explosions early on June 22. No casualties were reported. The Russian bank has come under attack several times since the start of the crisis in Ukraine.
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Kyiv Not Pressing Russia as Hard on Crimea as the West is, Commentator Says 

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 22 – Western governments have made clear that they view Moscow’s Anschluss of Crimea as a violation of the international order and that they will maintain their sanctions until Russia withdraws and returns that peninsula to its lawful sovereign Ukraine, according to Andrey Kirillov in a commentary for Radio Liberty’s Crimea page.

             But “Ukraine is not struggling for Crimea and not struggling as it could,” something that both weakens the ability of the West to put pressure on Moscow and creates the suspicion that “Crimean issues are part of a trade” by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (ru.krymr.com/content/article/27083700.html).

            There are various explanations for why Ukraine is lagging behind, he says, ranging from “the general lack of coordination of the authorities” and Kyiv’s focus on what Russia is doing in the Donbas, Kirillov says, but “the Crimean issue is one of those whose resolution requires much preparation for that moment when a chance to resolve it will appear.”

            Unfortunately, he says, “Kyiv does not have a Crimean policy.” It makes declarations and there may be some moves behind the seen, but there are clearly “crude mistakes” and a display of weakness in putting pressure on the Russian occupation that Moscow reads as a kind of acceptance of its position by the Ukrainian authorities.

            It is now common ground in the West that what Moscow has done in the case of Crimea must be reversed and the West will continue its sanctions against Moscow until the Russian government withdraws “even if Ukraine is passive” on this issue. But Ukraine should be acting in at least as tough a manner as the West.

            “But,” Kirillov says, “right now neither Ukrainian citizens nor our Western friends see this.” Instead, “Kyiv is limiting itself to ritual phrases and its concrete steps are one can say contradictory.”

The mistake Ukrainians are making is to equate what Moscow is doing in the Donbas with what it has done in Crimea by speaking about both as “temporarily occupied territories.” But “Moscow will not annex the Donbas; this is completely clear. But it has already annexed Crimea.”

“The Donbas must be understood as a region seized by band formations with the active assistance of an alien army; the resolution of this problem can be only the restoration there of Kyiv’s power to a greater or lesser degree” – depending on negotiations and how much Moscow imposes its conditions as opposed to Kyiv’s retention of its freedom of action.

But Russia doesn’t intend to leave Crimea “in any case as long as Putin is alive and in office. More than that, even Russian opposition politicians are not saying that they have would return Crimea” were they in office. Instead, “Russia as a state and as almost an entire people considers that taking Crimea was forgiveable,” even “correct” and “just.”  

Western leaders repeatedly have made it clear that they do not find that position acceptable. Ukraine has been less clear – and less willing to act on that position.  What Crimea and the people of that Ukrainian peninsula need now, Kirillov concludes, is a clear policy and a clear program of action that brings Kyiv in line with the West for the recovery of Crimea.
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Militant Buddhism and Shamanism Could Threaten Russian Control of Tuva, Siberian Scholar Says 

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Staunton, June 15 – The potential for ethnic conflicts in Tuva is relatively low, according to Vladimir Datsyshen, but if economic problems, Russian flight, and increasing localism among Tuvan intellectuals continue, Russia’s control of that republic on the Mongolian border could be threatened by the rise of militant Buddhism and shamanism.
In a new article that some Tuvans say reflects the situation of the 1990s but not now, and that raises questions about the current level of Russian expertise on their republic, the Siberian Federal University professor discusses Tuva’s past problems and future prospects.
He concludes that “the relatively low level of conflict in Tuva is a reflection of the absence of organized religious extremism” but asserts that if conditions deteriorate, Buddhism “could be converted into a political instrument of the radicals” much as has happened in other countries.
Moreover, Datsyshen says, “there have been reports in the press about cases of a barbaric manifestation of shamanism, the other religious system which is widespread in Tuva.” Papers in Krasnoyarsk in the early 1990s, for example, “wrote even about ritual murders of Russians by Tuvans, although the basis for such reports has been subjected to doubt.”
A major reason for his rather pessimistic assessment about the future, Datsyshen continues, is the existence of “negative tendencies in the sphere of integration into a single cultural space as a result of a definite ‘Tuvinization’ of the local intelligentsia.” Many of them never study or work anywhere but in Tuva.
Many of them do not speak Russian well, but their own link to the Russian world is formed by “Russians who speak Tuvan.” The number of such people is very small: fewer than one percent of the Russian community in the republic know Tuvan, and they are generally products of mixed marriages.
Another major problem is the increasing importance of territorially based clans, whose “strengthening is connected with the fact that the former united ‘Soviet’ space of the republic has been destroyed without there being any prospect for the creation of a single space on the basis of civil society.” And that is leading to the revival of traditional institutions like clans.
If this trend is not brought under legal control, the Siberian scholar says, there will appear in Tuva “a favorable breeding ground for the intensification of the more sophisticated forms of separatism and other ‘new challenges’ to Russian statehood” in a region bordering Mongolia and near China.
Most of Datsyshen’s article is devoted to a discussion of the history of Tuva, its absorption by the Soviet Union, and especially to the complicated ethnic situation there in the 1990s. As he notes, Tuva is “the only region of Siberia from which there was a massive outflow of ethnic Russians after the collapse of the USSR,” a development that reflects, he says, that republic’s “border” status, both geographically and culturally.
By the end of the 1980s, he writes, “in Tuva as in other regions of Russia, inter-ethnic relations deteriorated, criminalization began to have an impact on aspects of the ethno-political process, [and] political forces which raised the issue of the exit of Tuva from Russia were legalized.” Tuvans’ knowledge of Russian and the number of mixed marriages both fell sharply.
Meanwhile, local leaders put more Tuvans in positions of authority to the point that their share there was vastly larger than in the population as a whole, while the number of ethnic Russians in these posts fell sharply. All this contributed to open clashes, triggered by criminal acts, and more Russian flight.
Over the last decade, Russian fight has declined, but polls show that “part of the urban Russian population” – there are almost no Russians in rural areas – does not connect the future of their children with the Tuvan land” and that “almost half of the migrants left Tuva because of poor inter-ethnic relations.”
As a result, Russians now form less than a third of the population; and Tuvans, two thirds.
Tuvans believe that “Tuva was never conquered but always voluntarily joined other larger states,” the Siberian scholar says. In their view, “this gives her the right of free exit from Russia in the event that Russia’s supreme power doesn’t satisfy them,” something many of them feel given that the economy in Tuva is in trouble and not well-connected with the Russian one.
And Datsyshen concludes that there is another problem on the horizon as well: “new outbreaks of inter-regional contradictions [within Tuva] are possible” as well, including “the appearance of separatism which is especially real for the southern districts [of Tuva] which are drawn culturally toward Mongolia.”
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В России день памяти и скорби. 74 года назад началась Великая Отечественная война - Первый канал

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